Homemade Toasted Trail Mix

nuts

I’ve had some particularly bad flight luck in the last couple years and on multiple occasions, have found myself stuck on a grounded plane for hours at a time. Since learning that flight times are really nothing more than suggestions, I now always make sure to pack a snack or two to ward off the worst hunger pangs.

I’m headed out of town tomorrow for a quick trip to the California (disclosure! It’s a press trip to learn more about Driscoll’s berries. I’ll have lots of details to share when I get back) and as I was packing today, realized that I needed to procure a snack for the trip.

toasted

My regular travel snack is a bag of trail mix from Trader Joe’s. I had been planning on dashing over to my local TJ’s earlier today to pick something up, when I realized that given the ingredients in my kitchen, I could easily toss something together myself.

Isn’t it funny that I make so many things from scratch but somehow had never made up a batch of trail mix? It’s essentially just fruit and nuts. It’s ridiculously simple and I feel a little foolish for not making it on my own sooner.

dried fruit

I had four kind of nuts and seeds in my kitchen and so added 1/2 a cup each of almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, and cashews. I toasted them briefly at 350 degrees F and then let them cool. While they were coming back to room temperature, I pulled out the sweet options and ended up adding dried apricots, raisins, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, shaved coconut, and some chopped bittersweet chocolate.

finished trail mix

Once the nuts were cool (though I discovered that I didn’t let them cool quite enough and so ended up with melted chocolate streaked across the cashews), I tossed everything together and messily poured it into a zip top bag. Now, if I were making this for home use, I’d certainly stash it in a jar. But for air travel, the plastic bag rules.

What’s your go-to travel snack?

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Giveaway: The JarBOX (sponsored by Fillmore Container)

JarBOX

Once you start collecting jars and canning, you will eventually face the issue of storage. Do you build shelves or rely on boxes? If you have a basement, do you carve a section out for canned good storage? If the jars are tucked away, how to do you deal with the issue of out of sight, out of mind? What’s the best way to prevent breakage (particularly if you live in earthquake-prone areas)? There are so many questions and no one perfect solution.

JarBOX from above

Happily, there’s a relatively new product out there that can help answer some of these questions and might just make things a little bit easier on the storage front. Called the JarBOX, it’s a plastic container designed to snugly hold a dozen jars. It was designed by a home canner who was tired of having multiple jars break in a box when bumped or displaced (there’s a video on the JarBOX home page that shows off its many virtues).

They are sold in sets of two and snap together to create a sturdy, stackable home for jars. Once snapped together, the JarBOXes can be stacked, transported, or slid into tight corners for easy storage. It’s more than a little brilliant, if you ask me.  Currently, the JarBOX is only available for quart jars, but according to the website, a pint-sized version is coming later this year.

closed JarBOX

At the moment, I have two sets of the JarBOX and am using them as single jar trays as opposed to snapping them together. I put the jars in them upside down (to keep them from turning into dust collectors) and slide them under our bed. In our small apartment, this has freed up a huge amount of shelf space without making it hard for me to access these jars when I need them.

upside down jars in a JarBOX

Thanks to my friends over at Fillmore Container, I have one JarBOX set to give away this week. If you want to throw your hat into the ring, here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share how you currently store your jars and home canning.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Friday, April 5, 2013. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog that evening.
  3. Giveaway open to US residents, only (so sorry, further-flung friends).
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.
Disclosure: Fillmore Container sent me two sets of the JarBOX for review and photography purposes. My opinions remain my own. 

Links: Thumbprint Cookies and a Breakfast for Dinner Winner

lettuce

Just a few links tonight and the Breakfast for Dinner winner. I continue to make steady book writing progress, though I found myself possessed with the need to step away from the computer today in order to sort, clean, and purge instead. Our closets and bookcases look much roomier and more organized, but it didn’t do much for my word count.

Breakfast for Dinner
BFD winner So many thanks to everyone who jumped in and got on board my speedy weekend giveaway. I got a kick reading about all your favorite breakfast foods to eat for dinner!

Our winner is #3, Krisann. She wrote, “The best breakfast for dinner has got to be Waffle Wraps. Basically, picture a breakfast burrito. Now it’s a breakfast taco. Now it’s in a waffle instead of a tortilla. You’re welcome.”

Krisann, that’s brilliant. I have homemade waffles in my fridge and I WILL be making that soon.

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Tomato Mango Jam + Breakfast for Dinner Giveaway

Breakfast for Dinner

I have had a copy of Breakfast for Dinner by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth on my stack of cookbooks for eight weeks now (I know exactly how long its been because I posted a photo of the book to Instagram the day it arrived). I’ve long been a fan of eating delicious breakfast foods for my evening meal, so I couldn’t wait to take this one for a spin. I flipped through soon after it arrived and tucked a handful of sticky notes onto its pages, marking things I hoped to make.

tomato peach jam

For the last two months, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve plucked it off the pile with the intention of making something before being sidetracked by some other task (being in the midst of a giant writing project will do that). However, earlier today the stars aligned for me to try one of the jam recipes in the book. I had ripe tomatoes leftover from recipe testing and enough time to try a batch of the tomato peach jam. I didn’t have any peaches, but I did have a couple of ripe mangos that I thought would sub in nicely.

smashing jam

I peeled 2 pounds of tomatoes using the score and blanch method and dropped them into the high-sided skillet that is one of my favorite small batch pans. I added 1 cup of chopped ripe mango (it was 1 1/2 champagne mangos), one well-chopped small, spicy red chili pepper and broke everything up with a pastry blender (a potato masher does the same job nicely).

2+ cups of tomato mango jam

I added 3/4 cup sugar (it’s a bit more than the original recipe called for, but after a taste, I determined that it needed a bit more sweetness), 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (not included in the recipe, but I wanted it to have a bit more pucker), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (those last two are also my additions). And then I cooked, stirring regularly, for about 25 minutes, until it was quite thick and spreadable. The end product is sweet, tangy and slightly spicy. I am really pleased with it!

tomato mango jam

Once the jam was done, I funneled it into jars and processed them for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. I managed to fill three half pints, though they had slightly more generous than desired headspace. If I had to do it again, I would have swapped out one of the half pint jars for a quarter pint. Hindsight.

As I’ve written this blog post, I’ve realized that I took a number of liberties with the recipe. However, the inspiration and recipe framework really do belong to Lindsay and Taylor. I never would have thought to combine tomatoes and mangos had it not been for their pairing of tomatoes and peaches. What’s more, I betcha that if it was late summer and I had sun-ripened tomatoes and peaches to work with, I wouldn’t have needed to tweak things so much to boost the flavor. I’m looking to trying this one (exactly as written!) again in August.

Thanks to the nice folks at Quirk Books, I have a copy of this book to give away. I’m doing this one as a flash giveaway over the weekend, so we’ll have a winner for this one on Sunday evening. Here are the details:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite breakfast for dinner meal.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm on Sunday, March 31, 2013. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog that evening.
  3. Giveaway open to all.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.
Disclosure: Quirk Books provided two copies of Breakfast for Dinner at no cost for me. My opinions remain my own. 

Links: Grapefruit, Honey, and Maple + Jar Cozy Winners

onion tart slice

I am in the home stretch of the writing process for this new book of mine (it’s 100+ micro batch recipes organized by seasons. I think you guys are going to like it). It’s getting harder and harder to focus on anything beyond the words required for that project. Please forgive me if posting gets a little light over the course of the next three weeks.

A bunch of links from around the internet:

Some of the things I’ve written elsewhere recently:

  • This flourless chocolate cake is divine and totally different from the one I typically make. It’s lighter and is ever so slightly meringue-y. I will be making it again. 
  • This chicken thigh and squash stew (I subbed in sweet potatoes, because they were what I had) was one of the best things I’ve made recently. It did not float Scott’s boat and so ate the entire potful on my own. It was not a hardship.
  • I loved this potato and zucchini pancake. If you subbed in matzo meal for the bread crumbs, it would be perfect for Passover.
  • This steamed chicken was one of the most moist, tender birds I’ve tasted in recent memory. Next time I want to make chicken salad, this will be my initial preparation.
  • Oats! Three of my favorite recipes that involve rolled oats or oat flour. The Banana Pecan Bars are particularly fantastic.

pints and quarts

cozy family winners Now it’s time for the Cozy Family jar cozy giveaway. We’ll have five pattern winners and one of the pattern winners will also get two of the pre-made cozies. And the winners of the pattern are #26 (Jan D), #61 (Brittany), #101 (Emily M), #135 (Amy), and #260 (Mischa).

I used random.com a second time to select the cozy winner from our five pattern winners. It selected #3, which corresponds to set 3, which is #135, which is Amy (it sounds convoluted, but I just want to make sure it’s all fair). I will be in touch with all of the winners soon to sort out prizes. Thanks!

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The Philly Farm and Food Fest

farm and food fest

Hey friends! If you’re within driving distance of the Philadelphia region, you should mark your calendars for the second annual Philly Farm and Food Fest on Sunday, April 14. Organized by Fair Food and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), it’s an afternoon-long celebration of local farmers, cheese makers, coffee roasters, bakers, chocolatiers, and other folks engaged in sustainable food culture (click here for the complete list of 2013 participants).

There will be workshops, delicious samples, and many other opportunities to engage with the people that have made a career of working with and producing food. I’ll be leading a small batch canning workshop in the third time slot and will show off my favorite skillet and 4th burner pot method of canning (I’ll also have books for sale and will happily sign any copies you happen to bring with you).

Tickets are $15 if purchased in advance and $20 at the door. Kids under 12 are free, making this an event that will be fairly kind to the family budget. For those of you who want to taste some local brews while at the event can pick up a $30 ticket that will give you entry into the Libations Lounge.

It should be a fun day and I hope to see some of you there!

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