Snack Attack

Snacks can be a bit of a nemesis for me. When I want a snack it's usually at the time of day where my blood sugar drops and I'm ravenous for something good (which pretty much happens at 4:00 pm every single day of my life.

The problem is...when I want something "good", I don't mean "good-for-me-good". I wish I was one of those girls that just craves a salad or carrot sticks. When given the option between steamed veggies and french fries at a restaurant, I ALWAYS want the fries. In fact, I'm quite certain that I could eat fries several times a day, each and every day. Then I could have ice cream for dessert. I love ice cream with my whole heart.

Sometimes I give in to these cravings and, you know what? Even though they are terrible for you, I don't feel guilty about eating them once and a while. My quality of life would be severely compromised without French fries and ice cream. A life without ice cream, is just not a life I'm interested in.
Anyway. I digress.

Since I can't eat junk food every time I'm craving a snack, I've had to come up with some alternatives. I'm always on the hunt for healthy things to munch on after school. I was delighted when I got my September issue of Food Network Magazine and they had a whole feature on after school snacks. They have these nifty little books in each issues that you can tear out and they give you 50 ideas for a certain type of food. This little book had 50 fun snacks to explore.

I was particularly intrigued by #21 on the list: Crunchy Chickpeas. I made them on Sunday and my hubby and I loved them. But I will give this disclaimer; they are much better when they are fresh out of the oven than they are cold. I think I'll heat up the extras in the toaster oven when I go back for more. But other than that, I thought they were really unique and tasty. They almost reminded me of an exotic popcorn type of thing. Plus, they are incredibly good for you!

Crunchy Chickpeas
~Not the best picture, but they smell heavenly!~

  • 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt
  1. Heat the oil, cumin, and paprika in a large ovenproof skillet for 2 to 4 minutes.
  2. Season with salt and then pop in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.


Last Summer Cookout

Believe it or not, I'll be heading off to work on Tuesday. We have four days of inservice and the kids arrive on Monday! I am sad to see summer go. I had such a nice summer doing whatever I wished to do each day. I got to see friends and go shopping. I painted the inside of our house and read lots of books. I made some spending money doing this and that. We drove down to visit my sister and her family and then last week my sister brought the kids up for a visit. All in all, it was a low key summer and I loved every minute of it.

But now it's over. To celebrate my last Sunday where I don't feel the dread of starting the work week, we had my husband's family over for a cookout. It kind of amazes me that I get the "Sunday Dread" each week because I love my job so much. I truly love being a teacher. I wonder what the "Sunday Dread" would be like if I hated my job!

Anyway. I wanted to make very simple things that could be prepared ahead of time so that I could spend most of the time lounging with everyone. The meal turned out lovely.
I made my delicious Apricot Turkey Burgers. I have the recipe in this post, but I'll re-post it below anyway.

Apricot Turkey Burgers
~These are a fresh take on the typical turkey burger~

  • 3/4 cup drained canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/3 cup minced shallots
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
  • cooking spray
  • 6 multi-grain hamburger buns
  • Tzatziki sauce (I got mine from Trader Joe's...although, you can make it yourself)
  1. Prepare the grill or grill pan.
  2. Place chickpeas in a food processor, pulse 3 times or until chopped. Combine chickpeas, apricots, and next 7 ingredients.
  3. Divide mixture into 6 equal portions (I actually had enough to make 7), shaping each into a 1/2 inch thick patty.
  4. Place patties on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 6 minutes on each side or until a thermometer registers 165 degrees. Remove from grill and let stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve burgers on hamburger buns topped with Tzatziki sauce and tomatoes (if desired).
In the picture, I served the burgers with over fries. But yesterday I served them with this awesome new pasta salad I made for the first time. I saw it in the September issue of Food Network Magazine. Strangely, the recipe comes from the Biden family (ya know, the Vice President).

I don't know why I find that strange...I just picture someone asking me:

"Ali, this pasta salad is delicious. Who's recipe did you use?"

"Oh, thank you! It's actually an old family recipe from Joe Biden."

Maybe I'm just strange.

Soooo, why don't I just give you the recipe now.

The Bidens' Pasta Caprese

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 shallow, minced
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar (it says optional, but I threw it in there)
  • 2 lbs mixed heirloom tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (getting real heirloom tomatoes is a must for this recipe)
  • 1 lb pasta (I almost always use whole wheat pasta, but I used regular campanelle for this)
  • 12 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest (I used at least twice that because I love me some lemon zest)
  1. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, shallow and garlic in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add sugar, if desired (depending on the sweetness of your tomatoes).
  2. Add the tomatoes to the bowl and gently toss. Marinate at room temperature , about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. Drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking.
  4. Add the pasta and mozzarella to the tomato mixture and toss. Stir in the basil and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, tossing occasionally, until serving.
Because pasta salad is even better when it sits and the flavors mingle, I made it right after Church and stuck it in the fridge. The burgers took minutes to put together and I just had to throw them on the grill when everyone arrived. I was going to make my Tzatziki sauce and then I realized that it was cheaper to buy it at the Olive Bar in Wegman's than to get the ingredients. Score!

My mother in law brought hummus and pita chips, my sister in law brought drinks, and my other sister in law brought delicious brownies for dessert. It was a truly relaxing and enjoyable way to spend my last few hours of summer vacation!