Tag Archives: snacks


Most of my favorite foods are the ones that play themselves off as sophisticated, but are still meant to be eat with your hands.

They know what’s going on when it comes to flavor, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. Like this miso mozzarella grilled cheese or these crab fritter tacos. They’ve got it going on when it comes to flavor and texture, but also have some serious napkin requirements.
This caramelized onion and goat cheese quesadilla is totally part of that club! It’s a giant crispy tortilla filled with creamy, melted goat cheese and mozzarella. There’s also sweet, gooey caramelized onions in there, and some sautéed baby spinach for good conscience.
This is one of those weeknight dinners I can pull together quickly and feel good about. If you make the onions in advance, it’s a really quick meal. And there’s really nothing wrong with having a container full of caramelized onions just sitting in your fridge, waiting to be eaten.

Trust me on that one.

This quesadilla fulfills all my bar food cravings and makes me feel like a responsible grown-up all at the same time. Goat cheese has a way of doing that to girl.


Makes 1 quesadilla

1 large flour tortilla
2 oz. goat cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 large sweet onion
2 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup wine, beer, or stock
2 tbsp. olive oil (divided)
1 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. thyme (fresh or dry)
salt & pepper

First, caramelize the onions: Peel the onion and slice in half. Slice each half into 1/2-inch slices. Place a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and 1 tbsp. of the olive oil. Once the butter has melted, add the sliced onion to the pan and toss to coat in the fat. Let sit for 3-4 minutes, then add the thyme and toss to mix. Cover the pan.

Continue to stir and cover the onions every 4-5 minutes. After about 20 minutes, the onions will start to brown. (If this happens to quickly, turn your heat down / not quickly enough, turn your heat up.)
Once the onions become browned and very soft, almost like jam, add the wine beer, or stock to deglaze the pan. Use a wooden spatula to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, and remove from heat.

Onions can be caramelized up to 3 days in advance, and refrigerated in an air-tight container. Microwave before using to remelt the fats.

To make the quesadilla: heat a skillet pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the baby spinach. Season the spinach lightly with salt and pepper. Use tongs to toss the spinach until bright green and wilted, about 4-5 minutes. Set aside.

While you cook the spinach, let a griddle pan heat up over medium-high heat. Then spread the goat cheese evenly over one side of the tortilla. Place the tortilla cheese-side-up on the griddle pan. Sprinkle evenly with the grated mozzarella.

Once the mozzarella cheese melts, add the onions evenly to one half of the tortilla. Place the cooked spinach evenly over the onions. Carefully use a spatula to for the tortilla over the onions and spinach. Continue cooking until the outsides are browned as desired. Enjoy immedieately!


I think this needs to prefaced with the fact that not only is this roasted red pepper feta dip delicious, it requires only four ingredients. FOUR!

Red bell peppers, feta cheese, olive oil salt. Done. That’s it.

This recipe also makes a sizable amount of it. But you’re going to need it, trust me.
Crazy things happen when you roast bell peppers in your oven. Have you tried it? they get all charred and black and kind of look like they just got beat up.

Then you arranged them in a special aluminum foil packet…that is not actually special at all. But! When you take them out, all that charred skin has peeled away from the flesh of the pepper. It almost feels like plastic.

Peel that junk off and you’re left with soft, sweet, bell peppers that have the most wonderful flavor.
Then blend it together with some feta cheese and oh my goodness. I hope you’re ready for this! Fresh and creamy and tangy. That soft sweetness from the peppers balances the normally stinging flavor of the feta cheese.

Let’s just say it works. It really works.

You can serve this dip on its own with some vegetables pita bread and make lots of people happy. If you want to take it to the next level, make some hummus and baked garlic fries to go along with it.

That will likely please just about everyone in the room!


Makes about 2 cups of dip

3 red bell peppers
6 oz. feta cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt

warm pita bread, for serving

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Place the bell peppers whole on a sheet pan or directly onto the center rack of your oven. Roast for 20 minutes, and then carefully turn over. Roast anther 15 minutes.

During the last 15 minutes, prepare a large piece of aluminum foil for each pepper. After 15 minutes the peppers should have black, charred spots on their skins. Carefully remove them from the oven and place each on its own piece of foil. Carefully seal the foil into a package so that no steam escapes. Set aside to steam for 10 minutes.

Once the peppers are done steaming, carefully remove them from their foil packets. Place on a cutting board and use a pairing knife and your fingers to peel as much of the skin away from each pepper as possible. Try to peel as much from the tops and bottoms, too.

Pull the stem from each pepper and as much as the seeds as you can and discard. Place the peppers in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the feta cheese and the salt.
Process until the mixture is combined, and then slowly stream in the olive oil. Taste for salt and add as needed.

Serve with warm pita on the side. Dip can be stored in an air-tight container for up to 4 days.


In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not-so-subtly building up my arsenal of football season snacks. (See here and here.) It’s quite deliberate, actually. And this Spicy Black Bean Enchilada Dip is another winner for your game-day menu!

I’m not kidding about the spicy part, though. The chipotle chiles in adobo sauce juuust might make your nose run. That means it’s good, though, right? Right.

(If spicy is not your thing just skip the chipotle chiles! That’s where all the heat comes from.)

It’s not all fiery, though. All that heat is balances out by flavors of black beans, sweet corn, and mild green chiles. Plus some roasted tomato, red onion, and garlic. All the best things get stirred up and baked in the oven until warm and gooey.
Oh yeah, gooey….that’s because (obviously) there’s a ton of cheese in here! Gooey, melty, yummy cheese.

I couldn’t decide if the cheese would be better in the dip or on top.

So I put it in the dip. And then I put some more on top.

That’s just how I roll.
This dip is vegetarian. But, if you’re a meat enthusiast, feel free to stir in some shredded chicken before baking. Totally allowed. It can be made earlier in the day and then warmed up in the oven!

Just be careful bringing it to a party as it will likely make you lots of friends.



3 vine-ripened or roma tomatoes
1 large red onion
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 7-oz. can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 bunch cilantro
2 15-oz. cans black beans (divided), drained and rinsed
1 8.5-oz. can corn, drained and rinsed
1 4-oz. can mild green chiles
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
salt to taste
4 cups grated cheddar cheese (1-1 1/2 blocks)

sliced avocado, for topping
tortilla chips, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a skillet over medium heat.

Slice the tomatoes into 3 slices each. Add the olive oil to the hot skillet, and then carefully add the tomato slices to the pan. Cook until slightly golden, about 3 minutes per side.

While the tomatoes cook, cut the onion into 1-2 inch chunks. Once the tomatoes are done cooking, add the tomatoes to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Place the onion into the hot skillet and cook until just golden, about 5-6 minutes. Add the minced garlic to the onions and sauté for 1 minute. Remove the onions and garlic to the food processor with the tomatoes.

Add the canned chiles and their sauce to the food processor. Add the cumin, oregano, and salt. Pulse a few times until the mixture is chunky but without any large pieces of onion. Add 1 can of the black beans and a handful of cilantro to the food processor and pulse a few more times.

Remove the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the remaining black beans, corn, and green chiles. Stir in 2 cups of the cheddar cheese, and move the mixture to a large baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve warm with tortilla chips and topped with sliced avocado.


Ohh man, guys. It’s back to reality for me today. If you follow me on Instagram (@boxesandjars.com) you know I just spent a super long weekend at the Jersey Shore visiting my family.

Long story short, it was great. And instead of getting back to work, I’d really rather sit back and just have a beer.

And what’s better with a beer than a hot pretzel? Except maybe pizza…sooo…

I just decided to go ahead and roll them into one. Like, literally roll them. InoYou guys, I made Pizza Pretzels!
We make a traditional pretzel dough, roll it out into long skinny rectangles, fill ‘er up, seal ‘er shut, and bake them to perfection. After boiling in a little baking soda/water potion, of course. Did you know that’s what makes pretzels so pretzely? Baking soda is magic.

I made these pretzels with just tomato sauce and cheese, but you can stick more fun stuff in there if you want. Try pepperoni!
Whatever you try, don’t overstuff. We want to keep everybody inside the pretzel. I also recommend making sure all of your filling is finally chopped to make the pretzel-folding part easier.

Make these for football game watching or for a fun dinner. Make them to hoard or make them to share. Make them for an excuse to drink some beer.


Makes 4 large pretzels

1 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast (1 packet)
3 1/2 – 4 cups flour
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking soda
1/2 cup tomato sauce, divided, plus extra for dipping
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tbsp butter
garlic powder, dried oregano, and sea salt for topping

Add the water, sugar, and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer* and froth with a fork to combine. Let sit for about 5 minutes while the mixture becomes foamy. Add the flour and salt and mix with the dough hook attachment on the lowest speed. Once the dough comes together, move up to a medium speed. Gradually add 1/4 cup to a half cup more flour to allow the dough to come together into a sticky ball.

After about five minutes it should be smooth, but still fairly sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Once the dough is ready, divide it into 4 equal pieces. One by one, roll each piece out into a rectangle about 24 inches long and 4 inches wide. Evenly spread about 2 tbsp. of tomato sauce in a thin layer along one edge of the dough, lengthwise, leaving about 2 inches bare at each end. Lightly top the sauce with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese.

Starting at the edge with the sauce and cheese, gently roll the dough up to seal the sauce and cheese inside. Wet your finger tips with water and gently pinch the seam to make sure it stays shut. Carefully shape the dough into pretzel shapes and place 2-3 inches apart on an oiled baking sheet to rest for 20 minutes.

While the pretzels rest, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Just as the water starts to boil, add the baking soda. Once the pretzels have rested, one by one boil each in the water for 1-2 minutes per side. The longer you boil, the browner your pretzels will get.

Once they have been boiled, return the pretzels to the baking sheet. Melt the butter in the microwave and brush each pretzel liberally with the melted butter. Top with garlic powder, dried oregano, and sea salt as desired.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned. Let cool about 5 minutes, then serve with a side of warm tomato sauce.

*If you don’t own a stand mixer, you can mix the dough by hand in a large bowl and and kneed on a floured surface. Return the bowl to rest.


Before I jump into this, let me make one thing clear: I’m the last person who wants to see the summer go. I love the warm weather, long days, etc. etc.

However, I also love football. And it’s about this time that I start getting excited about the approach of the season.

But really, the game is only half of it. I am one of those people that can sit on the couch all weekend and watch game after game without getting tired. But, what I love even more is watching with friends…and snacking!

When it’s just the two of us, John and I often opt for a bottle of wine and a Cheese Antipasto Dinner. But when we’ve got friends over, we’re Snack City.
So, I’d be lying if I said this recipe wasn’t a result of over zealous football snack planning.

But seriously, I think this oven fried broccoli is going to be making more than one appearance this season! It’s really easy to pull together – way easier than frying. It’s got a nice crispiness to it, but the broccoli florets are not caked in batter beyond recognition.
The spicy beer cheese sauce is really similar to this beer cheese fondue and equally delicious. It comes together quickly on your stove while broccoli gets nice and crisp in the oven.

Pull it together at halftime and don’t miss a thing. Happy snacking!


For the Broccoli:
4 cuts broccoli florets (about 2 small crowns)
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil

For the Spicy Beer Cheese Sauce:
1 cup grated cheese (I used 1/2 cheddar and 1/2 pepper jack)
2 tbsp. flour
3/4 cup beer of your choice
salt & pepper to taste
hot sauce to taste (optional)

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the 1/2 cup flour, salt, pepper, and paprika. Add the water and oil and whisk again to form a thick batter. Add the broccoli florets and toss with a rubber spatula until the broccoli is evenly coated in the batter.

Move the broccoli to a baking sheet and spread out in a single layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes, mixing once halfway through.

While the broccoli cooks, make the cheese sauce: heat the beer in a small sauce pan over medium heat. In a small bowl, add the grated cheese and the 2 tbsp. flour and toss to coat the cheese in the flour. Once the beer starts to simmer, add the cheese and whisk until it forms a sauce. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Keep warm (careful not to burn) until the broccoli is ready. Serve immediately!


I had a little party for a few lady friends the other night. Nothing crazy, just some wine and some snacks. One of the best kinds of Tuesday nights if you ask me!

But it’s worth noting that it was about 90 degrees outside.

I’m absolutely loving how much more tolerable a Rocky Mountain 90 degrees is than an East Coast Swamp 90 degrees. However, it’s still oven-free territory, which meant snacks that could be made without turning on the oven and could be enjoyed cold or at room temperature.

The second fastest way to kill a party is to heat up your apartment on an already hot day and then serve hot food. (The first, of course, is to run out of booze.)
These Creamy Pesto Crostini were already a no-brainer. I wanted something that would pair nicely with them and be just as easy, and thus this balsamic tomato jam was born!

This takes a little bit of time to come together only because the tomatoes need to cook down for about an hour and then cool slightly. But, it can be made days in advance whenever you have that kind of time. Once the tomatoes are chopped it’s really just some stirring. Done and done.

Spoon it onto some toasted baguette slices and you’re in business. Top with a little Parmesan cheese as the salty to the balsamic tomato jam sweetness and everyone will think you are super fancy. Spread any leftovers onto sandwiches…or just eat it with a spoon.


6 vine-ripened or plum tomatoes (about 2 lbs), cored and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for brushing the baguette
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

1 French baguette
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for topping

Heat a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and then the finely diced onion. Sauté the onion until it starts to break down and become translucent, about 8 minutes. Before the onion starts to brown, add the garlic and sauté for one minute.

Add the chopped tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir combine and bring to a boil. Boil for 3-5 minutes and then reduce the heat. Let the mixture simmer until it becomes very thick. Timing will depending on how much liquid your tomatoes have – mine took about 1 hour. Stir every 15-20 minutes and then more frequently towards the end to make sure the tomatoes do not burn.

The jam is done cooking when it reaches the consistency of a very thick stew. It may seem a little too liquid, but it will thicken even more as it cools. (If you find that it has not thickened enough, just put it back on the stove to reduce for another 20 minutes or so.) Let cool to room temperature and set aside until ready to assemble your crostini.

Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill over medium-high heat. Slice the baguette into 1/4-inch slices and brush each side with olive oil. (This is a good time to use infused oil if you have it!) Grill the bread slices until it has dark charred marks, about 3-5 minutes per side.

Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the tomato jam onto each crostini. Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve and enjoy immediately!


It’s finally upon us: the national day of snacking and beer, also known as a the Super Bowl. Whether you’re in it for the football, the commercials, or the puppies you’d better be in it for the food too! Here are 5 Super Bowl Snacks you should make on Sunday:
Simple Finger Foods: Give your Super Bowl gathering a touch of sophistication with these ultra-simple finger foods: bacon wrapped dates, Caprese skewers, mini prosciutto crostini, and cucumber sandwiches. They’ll help fill out your spread so it’s more than just wings and nachos and more wings.
Mini Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches: Really you should be consuming these most Sundays, so I don’t see why Super Bowl Sunday would be any different. I’d consider it mandatory.
Grown Up Snacks: Give everyone the pigs in a blanket and pizza rolls they really want, even if they don’t know it yet. Just be warned, you’ll probably be requested to bring them to every party you attend after this.
Beer Bread with Garlic Dip: This is about as easy (and cheap!) as it gets and is always a hit! I recommend making a few loaves to avoid running out – any leftovers are perfect for Beer Bread Stuffing. Serve it with some carrots and celery to accompany the garlic dip…or don’t!
Edamame Shrimp Dumplings: If you makes these, don’t expect them to stick around very long. I recommend prepping a few batches and frying one up every quarter or so. If you do prep them in advance, be sure to cover them with a damp paper towel so the dough doesn’t dry out.

Just about all of these can be prepped in the morning and refrigerated until right before game time. That gives you more time to decide which pair of stretchy pants to rock and do any weird pre-game rituals you have if your team is playing.



Can we talk about snacks for a minute? As in hearty, sinful snacks that cover an entire table at a holiday party and just magically never run out, or actually just keep increasing in volume. As in the kind that cover every flat surface in your living room during Bowl Game season, that you just keep eating gradually for hours until you can’t eat anymore and then deem them a meal. Those are the snacks I am referring to at this moment. Granola bars and apples, I’ll get to you in another post.

I think the stages of life can be marked in snacks. First it’s all about mini hot dogs and once-frozen pizza rolls. Literally all about them, as in you don’t really eat anything else as long as these two things are available. Then you grow into chips with salsa and maybe even guacamole. Before you know it you’ve got a plate full of crudités pondering your options for a meat & cheese plate filled future, hoping you choose a path that will lead you to oysters on the half shell.

And then it hits you: you still want the mini hot dogs and the pizza rolls. Like, a lot. Well friends, here they are, kind of. Your beloved childhood treats are all grown up, just like you (kind of).


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