Sarah’s Favorite Quick and Easy Snacks

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Holy heck do I get hangry.  If the man and I are ever having an argument he usually pauses the fight to get me a snack. Seriously. It usually works too. Being hungry can hijack your brain and cause you to do and say crazy stuff. It’s all about survival though so before we blame our monkey brains, let’s just make a snack instead.  Here are my favorite quick and easy snacks.

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Butternut Squash Pasta

Pumpkin is our ingredient of the season. Today I went crazy and threw out the pumpkin for a butternut squash. Hope you don’t mind!

Today’s recipe for butternut squash pasta is absurdly easy, and it’s something that I find myself making every fall to usher in the season of squash. Come fall, I always have at least one butternut squash on the counter, so that’s what I used today, but this dish would be just as delicious if made with a sugar pumpkin. If you currently have a few squash on the counter, roast two squash today, eat one with your pasta, and use the other for our roasted root and squash soup.

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It’s been years since I’ve lived with roommates, and while sharing space has plenty of downsides, one thing I always loved was sharing the kitchen during meal times. I didn’t live in many situations where we actually shared meals (we were all on different schedules and often had different diets), but being in the kitchen while roommates were cooking often exposed me to new ideas, flavors, dishes, and stories. We all know it, time spent in the kitchen together is special, and it’s no surprise that guests/roommates/family will often congregate in the kitchen. This dish came from one of those random roommate moments in the kitchen.

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It was my first year living in Boston, there was a fall chill in the air, and my roommate had just roasted a squash. He didn’t have a particular dish in mind, but while the squash was roasting, he was also boiling pasta. The squash came out of the oven, a lightbulb went off in his head, and he combined the two. I don’t remember what else was in his dish, but I remember taking a bite and loving the combination of perfectly cooked pasta caked in the sweet squash with a dash of salt.

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Over the years, I’ve made some version of this dish every fall, and I’ve started to fall into a routine. I always slowly sauté the onions in some butter and olive oil until they are translucent, super soft, and amazingly sweet. After the roasted squash is added to the onions, I season it with a bit of dried thyme and garlic powder, and I use water from the cooking pasta to get a sauce consistency that is thin enough to easily mix with the pasta, but thick enough to stick in every nook and cranny.

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Once the sauce is ready, I stir in the cooked pasta and season it with salt. Before serving, there’s one more, absolutely crucial step : add a bit of freshly grated parmesan. The nutty and salty flavor of the parmesan does something amazing to the squash and pasta combination. It adds a deeper flavor (maybe it’s a touch of umami?) that rounds out each bite, and will have everyone at the table finishing their plate.

And speaking of finishing plates, now that one of my roommates is a toddler and the other just got his first teeth, I love making healthy food that they devour. As all moms know, you can’t go wrong with pasta, but you don’t necessarily love giving them plain noodles. This, my fellow moms, is a winning vegetable main course with my boys (granted, baby Luc can only eat the squash).

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We don’t have a formal recipe today, that would just ruin the experience of the casual weeknight meal shared by roommates hanging out in the kitchen after too many hours in the library.

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Lemon & Herb Salt

This past summer lemon was our ingredient of the season. We’ve created a dandy of an archive of lemon posts, and we’re still not done!

As September’s weather is straddling the line between summer and fall, we found that the combination of flavors in this bright and savory lemon & herb salt do the same!

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While doing some canning at the beach, I noticed this recipe in a copy of Preserving by the Pint and was immediately excited to try it. I love fresh herbs and am always looking for new ways to preserve their flavors as the plants fade in our late-summer garden. On the other hand, it’s taken me quite a while to appreciate lemon flavor in my savory dishes. Thank goodness I’ve come around, because this chicken dish is something I would not have made a few years ago, but we had it again last night for dinner (it’s just that good!). What I’m getting at is that a few years ago, I would have turned my nose up at this simple seasoning recipe, and what a shame it would have been. This seasoning is simple to make and adds a flavorful punch to a variety of savory dishes, making creative weeknight cooking a breeze.

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Preparing the seasoning requires just a bit of chopping and time. I did my chopping on a day when people were constantly coming in and out of the beach house, and every single person asked what was cooking and remarked that the kitchen smelled great. The chopping releases an amazing blend of aromas from the herbs, lemon zest, and garlic.

Once chopped, the mixture is spread out on a plate and left to dry for a couple of days. Since we were making this on the humid east coast in the middle of August, I put my plate in front of a fan to help with the drying process. If I were to make this at home in Colorado, the fan would be completely unnecessary because the air’s so dry. So use your discretion and help the drying process with a fan or warm oven if you’re in a high humidity environment.

Lemon & Herb Salt

Lemon & Herb Salt

Ingredients

  • zest from 4 lemons
  • small bunch parsley
  • 3-4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp coarse sea salt

Instructions

  1. Wash the parsley and rosemary and remove the leaves from the stems. This can be tedious with the parsley, but do the best you can, and a few stems are fine.
  2. Roughly chop the herbs. Add the zest and chop together with the herbs until well combined. Add the garlic and continue chopping. Add the salt, and... continue chopping until all ingredients are finely chopped.
  3. Spread the mixture on a plate and allow it to dry for at least 48 hours. It should be completely dry, with no sign of moisture.
  4. Store in a jar and use anywhere you would like to add a bit of flavored salt.
http://liveseasoned.com/lemon-herb-salt/

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After the seasoning has dried, you can use it on any variety of dishes. One night we tried it on our roasted summer veggies, which were a combination of summer squash, onions, potatoes, and corn. They were delicious, but I didn’t *love* the flavor of lemon on the vegetables (can’t win them all!). The next night we sprinkled the seasoning on and in some fish freshly caught by our pop. I included a pat of butter inside each fish because they were on the leaner side. Our mom loved the fish so much that she made sure to confirm that I “took a picture for the blog”. Everyone loved the fish, and it couldn’t have been easier to make.

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I have to admit that I never buy seasoned salt or herb mixes from the spice section. Instead, I sprinkle on the combination of individual herbs I want for any particular dish. That said, this seasoned salt was so easy to make, and it’s motivated me to experiment with the rest of the fresh herbs in our garden to develop a number of custom salts that will let me preserve those flavors and use them all winter long.

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Lemon Curd

Earlier this summer I was sharing some of the crafts that were included in our DIY wedding (four years ago this summer!). Today we’re sharing yet another wedding-related post, and this one includes lemons, our ingredient of the season!

Since our wedding was such a relaxing, picnic-on-the-farm affair, it would have seemed out of character to serve a traditional, multi-layered cake. Plus, there’s no way that Calder and I could decide on just one flavor! Instead, my mom made three different cakes for the reception, my favorite carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for Calder, and a delicious almond cake with buttercream frosting and lemon and orange curds between the layers. All three were amazing, and it was nice to be able to offer guests options for their dessert.

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Our sister, Kristin, made the citrus curds for the cakes, and they were perfect. Just the right consistency and with that bit of tart flavor that paired so well and added a bit of interest to the white cake and buttercream. I asked her what her secret was, and her response : Martha.

Even though I can go through a jar of Trader Joe’s lemon curd in no time, I’ve never tried making my own, assuming that it was fussy and would require too much precision or time (funny since I’m always itching to work on my macarons). But, with lemons as our ingredient of the season, I knew it was time to make a batch, and to my surprise, it couldn’t have been easier!

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Following Kristin’s lead, I turned to Martha and made this version (reprinted below). You’ll see that this makes a fairly small batch, which is perfect if you’re the only one eating it in your house, but as far as I can tell, the recipe easily doubles. Kristin sent me a recipe from Martha that was exactly double this one. Although, search “Martha Stewart lemon curd”, and you’ll come up with a number of variations. This recipe’s size is more than double the one I’m sharing, and it includes salt, which would be a nice addition to the recipe below. This recipe is the exact same size as the one I just linked to, but here she has you add the butter to the saucepan while it’s cooking (something that the other recipes did not do). There seems to be some flexibility in both the proportion of the ingredients and the technique used to make it.

Bottom line : don’t stress and just make a batch.

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

Ingredients

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • zest of 1/2 lemon (I used the zest of a whole lemon since mine seemed small)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (don't use bottled lemon juice)
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the yolks, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  2. Cook the mixture over medium heat stirring constantly and making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan. Continue cooking for about 5-7 minutes or until it's thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and begin adding the butter, one piece at a time. Continue stirring with the wooden spoon until the butter melts and the curd's consistency is smooth.
  4. Pour the curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl or jar for storage. Place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to stop a skin from forming as it cools.
  5. Refrigerate until completely cool before serving.
http://liveseasoned.com/lemon-curd/

Want to make orange curd? Just substitute the lemon juice and zest for orange juice and zest, and you’re welcome to use bottled orange juice.

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If you’ve never had lemon curd before, it has a sweet and tart lemon flavor and the consistency of a really thick pudding (I think that’s the best way to describe it?). I like to spread my lemon curd over toast with butter, but it’s commonly used in a variety of desserts. You could put it between the layers of a cake as we did for the wedding. Use it to fill a tart shell. Serve a dollop over ice cream. Stir it into some cottage cheese for a mid-day snack. Eat it by the spoonful.

 

 

 

 

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Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Lemon is our ingredient of the season! So far we’ve used it in a buckle, in bars, and in the shower. Oh, and there are two on my counter waiting for our next project!

After all of our desserts and drinks in the lemon category, are you ready to try something savory? This Lemon Ricotta Pasta is the perfect savory use of lemon. The citrus takes a pasta dish that could feel heavy when mixed with two cheeses and lightens it up, perfect for a summer dinner on the deck.

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As you’ll see, this dish is also crazy easy to make.  After an early morning flight back to Colorado yesterday, our family is still in recovery mode and trying to get back into a routine. It’s weeks like these when I like to cut myself a break and keep dinner simple while still actually cooking because I find that even simple dinners are key to helping us regain a routine.

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Independence Day Eats & Treats

JULY

Happy Independence Day my friends! This fourth of July is shaping up to be better than years past.  Our country continues to move forward in ways that warm our hearts.  When the Declaration of Independence was signed way back in 1776, it stated “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” It’s pretty easy to spot the blatant hypocrisy since slavery was still legal during the signing (and looong after) and here we are in 2015 fighting for the pursuit of happiness and the permission to love freely and marry.  Instead of boycotting Independence Day (many do!) I like to treat July 4th as a time to look back, review, and assess our country’s progress and daydream about the positive changes to come.  I tend to be quite the skeptic when talking about the United States of America’s government, but when it comes down to it, I know I’m extremely lucky to live and thrive in this country and I’m grateful for the progress we are making as a nation even if it seems like it takes light years.   I hope you’ll take a moment this Independence Day to be grateful for our freedoms and to know that you can aid others in attaining theirs both in America and around the world.

While you’re reflecting, you should probably feed that belly of yours too!  I plan on eating an entire watermelon by myself followed by lots and lots of delicious cocktails.  I’m actually experimenting with a few new ones that should be ready for the blog in the coming weeks!  So pull out that red shirt and light up the sparklers while you whip up some Independence day eats and treats.

As shown from top to bottom, left to right:

Watermelon Mint Salad     Mint Agua Fresca     Homemade Pizza Four Ways

Mint Simple Syrup Mojito     Cashew Fruit Dip

Watermelon Gazpacho     Mint Ice Cream     Rosemary Infused Bloody Marys

 

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Red Cabbage and Apple Salad with Tahini-Ginger Dressing {Vegan + Gluten Free}

liveseasoned_sp15_cabbagesalad-3During a hectic week (like this one), I prepare a few cold salads to satisfy my lunch and snack cravings.  I’m not very good at taking breaks once I get into the groove of photo editing. Instead of starving, rely on a few quick and nutritious salads made ahead of time, like this Red Cabbage and Apple Salad with Tahini-Ginger Dressing.

Our friend Nicole sent me home with a big batch of red cabbage and apple salad a couple months ago.  I knew I had to share it on Seasoned after I devoured the entire container in less than six hours.  The Tahini-Ginger Dressing is SO tasty that I drank a bit of it. Yup. Right from the jar. It’s that good.

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Sweet and Spicy Mixed Nuts

Nuts are our ingredient of the season. We’ve been using them for sweetsdrinkssnack bars and savory condiments!

With summer approaching I began fantasizing about the hiking, camping, and other outside fun that we’re going to have. I also started thinking about snack ideas for those adventures, and having nuts on hand are a great, healthy option, but to keep things interesting, I like to swap out basic roasted nuts for this sweet and spicy option. A bag of roasted or spiced nuts holds up much better than our favorite fruit and nut snack bars, when stuffed into a pack, but those snack bars do make a great fast breakfast when you’re running out the door to get an early start on that hike!

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Potato Patties With Egg and Asparagus

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I hope this post finds you well and just in time for the weekend. Why? Because big breakfasts are what my weekends are all about and precisely where these Potato Patties With Egg and Asparagus were born.  I rarely eat any breakfast during the week.  I’m not sure when that happened, but it did and I know, it’s not a great routine to get into, but so it goes.  Let’s forget about Monday through Friday and focus on the weekend, which is when you’ll be making this eggy, garlicky, asparagussy (<quite proud of that made up word) goodness.  There’s something about layering food that makes it taste that much better to me.  I like grabbing a little of everything in each yummy bite.  I know I could do that if these three ingredients were all sitting side-by-side on the plate, but it just takes the fun out of all of it.  I want everything snuggled together ready to be devoured in under a minute’s time.  This potato, egg and asparagus breakfast is extremely simple.  If you haven’t ever cooked a thing, try making this.  Everyone can make eggs, right? Can you use a spatula? Do you know how to shake a salt shaker? Sweeeeet! That means you can also impress your family with this super tasty take on breakfast.

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Garlic + Parmesan Roasted Chickpeas

liveseasoned_winter14_chickpeas-5I’m a big fan of crispy, salty snacks, but I feel pretty bad about myself when I eat an entire bag of kettle cooked chips.  Maybe you don’t, which I applaud you for, and that case go open another bag while you read this recipe.  I think these garlic and parmesan roasted chickpeas are the perfect substitute for potato chips because they provide the crunch and the salt that I’m craving, but they also pack some protein.  They’re baked, not fried like chips, and really you could season them however you see fit.  I recently kicked my chips and dip habit (thank you, thank you very much) and I found I’m baking these up quite often to satisfy my salt tooth. Is that a thing? It is for me at least.

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