Snapea Crisps

I was in Trader Joe’s one day (my favorite grocery store) and they had these Snapea Crisps hanging off of one of the shelves. Feeling bold, I bought them secretly dreading that they might end up tasting like freeze dried peas.

When I opened them I was delighted to discover that they were light and tasty (not like peas at all) with a texture that reminded me of Funyons. They have their own flavor which is hard to describe but is well worth the two dollar investment.

They work ok on a salad (as suggested), but actually work really well as a snack food by themselves. They compliment a trail mix nicely, going well with dried fruit or nuts.

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Spinach & Artichoke Chips

I was in the chip aisle last week searching among the plethora of MSG coated chips looking for something with genuine flavor. There were a few standard entries which I liked but was tired of, but then I noticed this bag of Spinach & Artichoke Chips by Jensen’s Orchard.

Spinach & Artichoke? I wondered, it made me think of some of the weird flavors that Jones Soda tries. I hoped that they wouldn’t end up being fancy dog biscuits and gave them a try.

The spinach flavor is quite pronounced, as pronounced as the green color of the chips themselves. The artichoke however often remains hidden, only peeking out once in a while. I wasn’t sure if I liked them for at least the first ten chips, until my taste buds became accustomed to the flavor. My brain needed to make a new category. This was not in the salty,BBQ, cheesy or spicy category, but a new deeper sort of flavor which I find unique among potato chips.

The ingredients were a refreshing surprise too. Spinach is actually the third ingredient, artichokes were further down, and spices like parsley and turmeric were listed as well.

Overall I would highly recommend them particularly if you are looking for something different or if you’re having company and want to add a new dimension to the same old fare.

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Happy Halloween Popcorn Balls

John and I live WAY out in the country, and down a private road behind a locked cattle gate so the only Trick-or-Treaters we’d get out this way would be the raccoons, what with their masks and all. Anyway, since we aren’t do anything particularly interesting this year for Halloween, I thought I’d pass along a recipe and photos from a friend of mine, Jen Goode

In her own words…

A fun project for any age. My preschooler had a great time molding the balls, it’s much like playing with play dough.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls

What You’ll Need:
2 standard pouches of microwave popcorn (approx 6-8 cups popped)
1 package chocolate marshmallows
1/4 butter or margarine
1/2 package chocolate chips
1/2 package peanut butter chips
1 large cooking pot
Standard (non zipper) sandwich bags or plastic wrap

note: no chocolate marshmallows? replace with 1 package regular marshmallows and 1/2 package chocolate chips – melted together

How to make it:

Over medium heat, melt butter. While the butter is melting, pop popcorn andset aside. Stir in marshmallows and continue stirring until thoroughly melted. Remove from heat. Stir in popcorn until thoroughly mixed.

Pour into a big mixing bowl so the mix will cool quicker. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Gently stir in chocolate and peanut butter chips.

Mold handfuls of mix into ball shapes. Make sure to compact the balls gently but firmly so that they stick together well. It’s ok to “squish” them a little.

Tip: Use plastic wrap or plastic sandwich bags to prevent too much sticking to your hands.

Place each ball in a plastic sandwich bag and tie with a bow. Enjoy!

Halloween deliciousness brought to you by Jen Goode.

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Kettle Chips New York Cheddar With Herbs

A review of Kettle Brand New York Cheddar with Herbs Potato Chips… (sorry about the swiss cheese icon, but it’s our only ‘cheese’ one) I know Kettle Chips have been out on the market for a long time, but this is the first time we’ve bought them because they were on sale. They also have NO MSG or autolyzed yeast extract (another name for MSG) – yay! Anyway – they’re extra crunchy/crispy, which I knew Kettle Chips were, but this flavor is fantastic. It really tasted like a crunchy baked potato. So, highly recommended if you like crunchy, flavored potato chips. That pretty much sums it up – heh.
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Natural White Cheddar Cheetos

We stopped eating things like doritos and artificially flavored chips a while ago when both John and I decided we just didn’t like the constant thirst and weird effects we got from all the MSG. The other day, however, we happily discovered the new ‘Naturals’ line from Frito-Lay and indulged in some white cheddar cheetos. (I’m a big white cheddar popcorn fan – particularly smartfood brand.) They were really tasty, no weird side effects, and it was fantastic to once again be able to munch on more than just regular potato chips. Perhaps today we’ll try one of their other ‘natural’ concoctions – it’s like a junk food revival or something – LOL.

Time for Corn

We finally ran across a good price for corn on the cob – 96 cents for 6 ears of white corn, and cooked them up for dinner tonight. It had been so long since we’d had sweet corn that I’d forgotten that John tends to eat in circles AROUND the cob, while I eat it lengthwise, like a typewriter. (I’m not sure if our relationship can stand up to this kind of lifestyle difference!) The corn was delicious, sweet, and really hit the spot on yet ANOTHER 100 degree day. Sure, boiling the water over a hot flame wasn’t so much fun, but with excellent sweet corn as the end product, we were willing to sacrifice ourselves briefly for a good cause.

Beer Battered Onion Rings

I made some beer battered onion rings today, I didn’t follow a strict recipe but winged it after reading a few different versions on the web. I used a 50/50 combination of flour and bread crumbs, plus some salt and garlic powder.

The first mistake I made was putting them into the basket of the deep fryer. The batter attached itself to the wire basket making the onion rings almost impossible to get out. Fortunately, Kristen suggested sinking the basket first and then dropping the onion rings directly into the hot oil, that worked a lot better.

It was greasy deliciousness, although it required a LOT of salt otherwise they tasted a bit bland.

Wine and Fish Crackers

John was making a homemade tomato sauce a few days ago and decided to open a bottle of zinfandel to add a bit of wine to the sauce. The sauce came out excellent, and tonight we decided to actually try the wine directly, with a few ‘sea creature’ cheesy crackers. Tres classy, no? The wine: Ravenswood Vintners Blend, 2002 California Zinfandel. It certainly lives up to the saying on the label, “No wimpy wines” – no kidding! It’s really potent and ‘throaty’ if you can glean our meaning. The kind of wine that warms your fingers and toes before you finish half of the first glass. The taste itself is pleasant and tangy, but disappears quickly, leaving you with more of a powerful aftereffect than with a taste on your tongue. (And the tri-raven Celtic logo on the front is a plus too.)


I was inspired to make homemade pierogies yesterday and enlisted John as the filling-maker, while I played with the dough. We’d never made them before so we browsed through John’s “New York Cookbook” which had a couple of recipes. We took ideas from each of them, depending on what ingredients we had on hand.

For the filling, John boiled a few peeled and chunked potatoes (too many, as we ended up with a lot of extra filling – two would have probably been enough), mashed the potatoes, and then added finely chopped and then blanched onion and garlic, and some fresh ground black pepper and salt. The dough was pretty basic – a bunch of flour, some milk, a bit of oil, salt, and three eggs. It came out quite soft and elastic, like pizza dough. I actually had to add a bit more flour to stiffen it beyond the ‘really thick batter’ phase. I rolled out the dough to about 1/8″ thick and then made cutouts with a biscuit cutter. We then filled the cutouts of round dough with the filling and a bit of finely shredded extra sharp cheese, folded them over and pinched them shut, and then boiled them up. When they were done, we sprinkled more cheese on top. (We considered lightly frying them to crisp them up afterwards, but were too hungry for yet another step.)

If this is any kind of testimonial, they tasted almost EXACTLY like the Mrs. T’s Pierogies you can get in the freezer section at your local grocery store, only better, so we must have done something ‘right’ – LOL.


3 eggs, beaten slightly
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups flour

Mix these dumpling ingredients together to make the dough. Then, knead the dough until you reach a pizza dough-like consistency, then form into a ball. Let sit for an hour, then refrigerate for about a half-hour, covered.

Approximately two medium sized potatoes (or one rather large, or the equivalent)
1/4 finely chopped yellow onion
2 cloves minced garlic
black pepper and salt to taste
some finely shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese – approx. 1/4 cup

Peel, cube and boil the potatoes until soft. While the potatoes are cooking, chop the onion and blanch until clear. Then add the minced garlic and continue to blanch until blended. Set aside.

Mash the potatoes in the saucepan with a manual masher. Add onion and garlic to the potatoes and then mix until well blended. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Roll out the dumpling dough to about 1/8″ thickness. Cut into rounds (such as with a biscuit cutter) that are about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Place about a half teaspoon (depending on the size of the cutout) of filling on the circle of dough. Sprinkle a bit of the shredded cheese on the filling. Fold the dough in half and pinch the edges shut firmly with your fingertips. Continue until all dough is gone.

Bring a good amount of water in a large saucepan to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add about 10-15 dumplings at a time (not too crowded) – they will sink at first and then float as they cook further. They will take about 8 minutes, or longer if you made the dough thicker than recommended. When done, pull them from the water with a slotted spoon. Continue with this process until all the dumplings are cooked, keeping the cooked ones warm in the meantime.

For serving, sprinkle more grated extra sharp cheese on top. Another option is to fry the cooked pierogies in a frying pan with a bit of oil/butter in the bottom, until somewhat brown and crispy.

Note: These are best when eaten promptly. The garlic flavors will fade overnight – I guess it’s a garlic and potato thing? Anyway, they’ll still taste good a day later, but not as garlicky.