And the Winner Is… Crabby Snacks!

February21

In case you’re hosting an Oscar party, here’s a throwback post to one of my favorite appetizers!

The Oscar for Outstanding Food in an Academy Award nominated film goes to Crabby Snacks and Homemades, starring in “Silver Linings Playbook.”SilverLiningsPlaybk480

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” certainly provided some strong competition (the star of the movie is named Hushpuppy, afterall). Messy fresh crabs, fried alligator tail and even (gulp!) cat food had huge scenes.

Another contender: the White Cake that never got served in “Django Unchained.” Of course, “Life of Pi” and “Les Misérables” were most notable for the lack of food.

But back to the winner.

In Matthew Quick’s novel, “The Silver Linings Playbook,” he describes Crabby Snacks as “buttered crabmeat and orange cheese on English Muffins.” Homemades refer to homemade egg pasta.

I thought it would be fun to whip up my version of Crabby Snacks. They’re relatively simple to make. Because they’re made with processed cheese, white bread and mayo, you just know they are going to be absolutely delicious.

This recipe makes 48 bites, so if you aren’t feeding a crowd, cut the recipe in half. And serve it Sunday night during the big broadcast… it’s guaranteed to keep everyone from getting crabby when their Oscar picks don’t win!

 

Extra Helpings: Guava Paste

January9

Nancy asks: Okay, you got me. You used guava paste in a recipe the other day and I had no idea what you were talking about. What is it and where do I find it?

Great question. Sometimes when we are so familiar with something, we lose sight of the fact that this just may be someone else’s first trip to the rodeo.

Probably because I’m Latina, I grew up eating guava, the round tropical fruit that is yellowish to deep red with sweet reddish or pinkish flesh. Guava has a deeply floral aroma and is heavenly sweet and flavorful.

Guava paste, on the other hand, is a purée of cooked guava (of course) sugar and (occasionally) pectin, which gives it a very thick texture. It is often so thick you have to slice it! It is wildly popular in Latin and South America, the Caribbean and Spain and is used with everything: as a spread, as a glaze for meat, as filling for tamales, as a topping for pancakes… you get the picture.

I like pairing guava paste with milder cheeses, like manchego, brie or feta. Of course, it also goes well with cream cheese and Mexican cheeses like cotija and queso fresco. Although its popularity is growing, you can usually find it at Mexican or Latin American grocery stores or in the ethnic section of the bigger supermarkets. Sometimes it is labeled guayaba.

Nancy’s question got me thinking… sometimes it’s easy to be intimidated by food and what you think you don’t know. Don’t be! Ask! After all… it’s only food!

Plated + Served: Oven Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

October17

Have you picked your pumpkin yet?

When the kids were younger, we’d drive to a pumpkin patch nearby and let them pick out a pumpkin. The only rule: they had to be able to carry it to the car.

(It was a blast watching the youngest ones try to negotiate the biggest pumpkins back to the car.)

Sadly, the pumpkin patch is now a condo patch, so the only pumpkins we pick are the ones at the supermarket… but that’s okay, too. Just like we did way back when… we still salvage the seeds from inside so we have something to munch on while we carve.

The kids used to like them roasted, with just a little bit of salt. But now, just like their lives have become, the process is a little more involved… some spice here, a little sweetness there… everyone puts their own individual twist on this recipe. They love it.

And the only rule? You have to eat everything you make!

 

 

Kitchen Think: Don’t Let Those Snacks Attack!

April24

Do you eat between meals? C’mon, be honest…  

Pistachios

A few years ago all you read about was how important it was to eat a lot of “little meals” throughout the day, rather than the three squares most of us were used to.

But what’s the difference between “little meals,” “grazing” and “snacking?” It all has to do with what  you’re eating.

We eat almost twice the number of snacks we did 30 years ago. According to the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service, back then fruit was the snack of choice. Now? Think about it. What was the last thing you popped in your mouth?

And while we’re talking about the last thing you ate, riddle me this, Batman… were you even hungry? Or were you just engaged in mindless eating– eating something just because it was available or you were bored? On average, women 20 years or older eat 624 empty calories every day… men about 923 empty calories per day.

I know I mindlessly eat.  I catch myself opening the pantry and reaching for a handful of almonds: (almonds=good thing, handful=bad thing) just because I walked by and thought about it. This kind of snacking isn’t planned, you do it without thinking… like eating the leftovers off your kids’ plates or “evening up” the brownies (or lasagna) in the pan.

So here’s the deal… you need to try to snack only when you’re hungry (and you need to teach you kids this lesson, too).Try to eat healthier snacks… in serving-size portions. And don’t skip meals… that starts the vicious cycle.

Here are a couple of suggestions. Pistachios in the shell are a great snack. One ounce has 161 calories and you get about 50 of them in a serving size (enough to keep you busy for at least a little while). If you have a sweet tooth, like me, those Jell-O sugar-free gelatin snack paks ARE only 10 calories. But remember only eat one… it’s a snack, not a meal!

Look, snacking is easy. Doing it the right way is hard… but you can do it. Stock up on the good stuff and keep the bad stuff out of your kitchen… and put your mind to it!

Hi…
I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mamashighstrung@gmail.com