Monday, June 29, 2015

Old Bay Roasted Chickpeas Recipe

Let's face it, healthy foods are not as satisfying to prepare,serve, or ingest as decadent desserts and luscious main dishes. I receive super mom status when I make a pan of these or a batch of these, but when I lovingly arrange these on a tray and sit them on the table where the seemingly never ending Risk game is in progress, I get polite thank yous.  My household appreciates healthy options, they just aren't as excited about them as they are of a big bowl of this.

That is why I want to share my current healthy snack obsession - Old Bay Roasted Chickpeas.  These tasty and healthy bits satisfy hunger and the desire to ingest something crunchy and salty.  When done correctly, they can be enjoyed by ravenous swimmers, hungry America's Got Talent viewers, and starving Dungeons and Dragons players.  My family has even started searching for them in the snack cupboard and requesting them.  I knew they were blog worthy when one of my teenagers yelled, "Who ate all of those little crunchy things mom keeps making?"

It's true, I have been obsessively repeatedly making roasted chickpeas (and posting them on instagram) because, despite the thousands of recipes on the internet, it has taken me a while to get them right.  At first I didn't thoroughly dry the drained and rinsed chickpeas which are also known as garbanzo beans.  Placing them between two layers of paper towels for a few minutes was not enough.  That method resulted in a slightly chewy and very unsatisfying snack. I have found that the best crunch results when I place the rinsed chick peas on a sheet tray between layers of clean paper towels and leave them for several hours or overnight.  My second mistake was under seasoning.  Garbanzo beans have little or no taste on their own so they require an ample supply of your favorite seasoning mix along with an extra boost of Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper.  Finally, I realized that I need to bake them until they are almost, but not quite burnt.  Careful monitoring is required.

Despite these obstacles, I persevered and have come upon our family's favorite version of the healthy snack, roasted chickpeas.  Being from Maryland, we, of course, gravitate to anything that is seasoned with Old Bay.  My family and I also embrace the mindless hand to mouth motion that is not great for diets, but is oh-so-satisfying while watching some mindless summer television.  As a mom, I enjoy the relative healthiness and ease of preparation of this economical and tasty snack.  Old Bay Roasted Chickpeas are now a regular occupant in our snack cabinet and a nice addition to our long list of summer snacks.

Old Bay Roasted Chickpeas Recipe

1-15 ounce can chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (or your favorite seasoning salt)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 chili pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper

1.  Drain and rinse chickpeas.
2.  Line a baking sheet with paper towels.  Place drained and rinsed chickpeas in a single layer on the paper towel lined baking sheet.  Cover with more paper towels.  Allow to drain for a few hours or overnight.  Note:  The less moisture in the chick peas the crunchier they will be after baking.
3.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
4.  In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil and spices.  Fold in chickpeas until they are coated with oil and spice mixture.
5.  Spread the coated chickpeas onto a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper or a silpat liner.  Shake the pan slightly so the chick peas are spread out in a single layer.
6.  Bake the chick peas for 15 minutes.  Toss the chick peas and continue baking for up to 15 more minutes checking and shaking pan every 5 minutes.  I know the chick peas are done when I can smell the Old Bay aroma and they are just starting to brown.
7.  Cool and enjoy immediately or store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Chocolate Muffins Recipe

Summer Heidi is in full swing!  In the last month I watched my daughter walk across the stage of her high school graduation, supported my sons through standardized tests and final exams, said good-bye to my Kindergarten classroom, coordinated a family portrait for my family of 6, and threw a grad party.  All fun, all part of my abundant life, but all part of Working Heidi (a.k.a. Paycheck Heidi).  Now I get to slow my pace and live life at my leisure; leisurely waking up, leisurely walking my dog, leisurely organizing overstuffed drawers, leisurely chatting on the phone with family, leisurely drinking tea while reading, and leisurely cooking.

I kicked off my leisurely summer life with a pantry challenge.  This is something that was passed down from my mother and entails organizing and cooking, two of my favorite things:).  First, I take everything out of my pantry, one shelf at a time.  Next, armed with a small bucket of sudsy water, I wipe each shelf and assess its contents before placing all of the edible items back in an orderly fashion.  Last, I peruse my recipe box, cookbooks, and Pinterest pages to find recipes that utilize my newly organized pantry ingredients.  I repeat this challenge with my refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards.

My most recent pantry challenge inspired me to create Pumpkin Muffins (I must have been planning for Y2K when I purchased cans of pumpkin last fall), Roasted Chick Peas (a new go-to snack for my husband), Chicken Avocado Soup (a recipe I recently found through a Facebook share), Lemon Cheesecake Pie (I love finding a use for that random can of evaporated milk I always seem to have), and Chocolate Muffins.  Of course, my clan loves muffins, but, I must admit, during the school year I often resort to the boxed variety.  Summer Heidi has time to leisurely prepare muffins from scratch.

My Chocolate Muffin recipe comes from Nigela Lawson.  When my children were small and I was Stay-at-Home Heidi, I would corral all my little people into the basement family room, fold mountains of laundry, and watch cooking shows.  We enjoyed Nigela's cheerful kitchen, soothing accent, and tasty recipes.  Getting the actual recipes, however, was a bit of a challenge at the turn of the millennium.  Without the advent of internet and smart phones, I had to check out Nigela's cookbooks from the library during one of our weekly treks to story time and then copy down the recipes that I wanted to add to my repertoire.

This recipe is particularly appealing  because it can be served for breakfast, dessert, or a snack.  It enhances any cup of tea or coffee.  It also involves everyday ingredients like flour, unsweetened cocoa, and chocolate chips.  A perfect Pantry Challenge recipe!  I hope that this summer you will get to experience life at a leisurely pace and maybe even take the Pantry Challenge.

Chocolate Muffin Recipe
     (adapted from Nigela Lawson's "Feast")

1 3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 egg
1 cup milk (whole or reduced fat, I used 1%)
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons oil (I used canola)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips, plus more for snacking and sprinkling (semi-sweet or dark chocolate)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and unsweetened cocoa.
  3. Mix together egg, milk, oil, sugar, and vanilla.
  4. Gently combine wet and dry ingredients.  Batter will be lumpy.  Try not to over mix although if you are cooking with children you will surely have some over mixing happening.  It's okay.
  5. Fold in 3/4 cup chocolate chips.
  6. Fill each prepared muffin cup about two thirds full.  Use an ice cream scoop to neatly and evenly distribute batter.  Sprinkle a few chocolate chips on the top of each unbaked muffin.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out of the center of the largest muffin with only a few crumbs clinging to it.
  8. Cool slightly and enjoy.  You may also stored cooled muffins in an air tight container for a few days.