TALKIN' SNACK

Hello! My name is Hana El-Assad. Most people know me as a makeup artist. Most people who really know me, know me as a makeup artist who loves food. Here you will find all my tips, tricks, and tools to help make awesome food a part of your life. So let's talk snack!

Hummus with Meat (Hummus Bil Lahme)

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, or 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons of pomegranate molasses
  • favorite homemade recipe for hummus, or favorite store bought hummus
  • pita bread

We all love hummus right? Right. Here’s a traditional middle eastern way of serving hummus, and out of all the different varieties this is by far my favorite way of having it. 

Makes two plates.

In a large pan, toast the pine nuts on medium heat till golden. About two minutes. Once toasted, set aside in a small bowl.

In the same pan on medium heat, heat the veggie oil. Once warm enough, throw in the chopped onions and sauté until very golden.  Then add the meat, season with salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Using a wooden spoon, break the meat into small pieces. Cook meat till browned and a tad crispy. Then add the pomegranate molasses and cook for 1 minute, stirring everything together. Add the toasted pine nuts, mix together. Turn of heat. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Make a plate of hummus, and top with the meat. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top if you’d like. Serve with warm pita bread and enjoy!

Stuffed Cabbage (Malfouf)

  • 1 head of green cabbage (20 leaves)

Stuffing:

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup jasmine rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Sauce:

  • 1 small onion (1 cup chopped)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 fresh lemon juice

Garnish:

  • 1/4 minced fresh mint
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed (mash the mint and garlic together)

This is one of my favorite dishes as a kid. I know I say this a lot… but when it comes to middle eastern food, my heart just melts. The other day I was craving this and asked my mom to come over and cook this with me. It’s a bit time consuming, having to roll each leaf at a time (totally worth it mind you), so having someone to roll these yummy little guys with makes it more fun. Also I had never made this recipe before/wanted to learn/kinda made her do it all, so her help was much appreciated!

Boil a large pot of water. Carefully tear off a leaf at a time from the head of cabbage. Boil the cabbage leaves in the water for 5 minutes. Once tender, strain, dry with a paper towel, and let the leaves cool in a bowl. 

For the filling, in a bowl mix together the meat, rice, spices, and oil using you hands till everything is evenly mixed.

Once leaves are cool enough to handle, take one leaf at a time and cut the thick stem in the middle of the leaf making two pieces of leaves. Take a call spoonful of the filling and place it at the end of the leaf, length wise. Roll and fold the leaf like a mini burrito. Repeat this until all the leaves, and filling is done. This should make about 35 stuffed cabbages. Keep in mind some leaves may not have a thick stem/vein in the middle, usually the small leaves. In that  case use the whole leaf.

Set aside all your rolled up stuffed cabbage leaves.

In a medium pot, heat up the veggie oil on medium heat. Sauté the chopped onions in the oil till golden, then add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, lower the heat, and cook with the onion and garlic for another two minutes. Add the pomegranate molasses and cook for another minute on low heat. Turn off heat.

One roll at a time place over the onion tomato mixture in the pot. Place all the rolls creating two layer. Add the lemon juice, and 1 1/2 cups of water, or enough to cover all the rolls, cover the pot, and turn on the fire to high. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Turn off the heat and add the mint, garlic mixture. Cover the pot and let sit for a couple minutes. When serving, add a dollop of yogurt topped with dried or fresh mint on the side. Enjoy!

Essential Chicken Broth/ Chicken Noodle Soup To End All Colds

  • 1/2 chicken
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or one cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper corns
  • 10 cups of water
  • noodle of your choice (I used angel hair nests, 2 “nests”)

I always get a bad cold at this time of year. Whether it be all this rain, working on outdoor shoots, change of season, or I’m just mistaking my cold for allergies that I just started getting 2 years ago…I don’t know! But a homemade chicken noodle soup is always my savior. Also who doesn’t want to curl up at home on a rainy nyc day and chow down on some chicken noodle soup, sick or not!

This recipe is so easy to make, and the broth has so much flavor! I would never make chicken broth any other way. And since the chicken is boiled for so long, it becomes so tender, and makes for perfect chicken in any soup. Of course you could use this as a base, and add whatever you’d like to it, but sometimes having a chicken noodle soup simple like this is the ultimate comfort. 

Clean and peel the carrot. Clean the celery and trim ends and leaves off. Peel onion. Set aside the veggies. 

Rinse the chicken with water. I also like to squeeze half a lemon on the chicken and continue to clean.

Place the chicken, onion, carrot, celery and spices in a large pot. Add 10 cups of water, cover, and on high heat bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring down the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Keep covered.

Take off the heat, remove chicken and transfer to a plate. Strain the broth, discard all the veggies, and skim fat from the top.

Now you have awesome chicken broth! You can store it in the fridge for up to three days, or store it in the freezer.

If you’re making the chicken noodle soup, place 5 cups of the broth into a smaller pot. Store the rest of the broth for another time. 

Take off the skin on the chicken, and cut the meat off from the bone and shred the pieces using a fork and knife. the chicken should be very tender. 

Bring the broth to a boil, and add the chicken pieces, and the noodles of your choice. Cook till the noodles are al dente. Taste the broth and add more salt if needed. Now you have a simple chicken noodle soup that will shake away any chills and aches. 

 

Eggs and Kale

  • 2 heaping handfuls of kale, washed and torn into medium pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • coarse sea salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • maldon salt 

Creamy Parsley Dressing (adapted from “It’s All Good” by Gwyneth Paltrow):

  • 1 bunch of Italian parsley (about 1 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Vegenaise <3
  • 3 tablespoons light agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

I’ve been obsessing over Gwyneth Paltrow’s cook book "It’s All Good." All the recipes are so simple and really great for you, and since I’ve been trying to be “more healthy” this book has really come in handy. One thing I’ve been introduced to that I’ve been using as much as possible because it’s so good, is Vegenaise. Ummm…this stuff is amazing. I always used to see it in grocery stores and think it was gross, but it took Gwyneth to tell me it’s amazing to finally try it, and now? I honestly don’t ever want mayo again…unless it’s homemade… The taste is amazing, and it’s not bad for you! 

The creamy parsley dressing is a recipe in her book I’ve made a few times now, and I love it! I hope if you make this recipe you’ll invest in a jar of Vegenaise, you won’t be sorry. Of course you can use regular mayo instead.

I love making this recipe for breakfast. It’s truly a great start to any day. By having the thick, beefy, green that is kale with eggs, you kinda don’t need bread (something I’ve been trying to cut down on). You’ll notice I have maldon salt listed in the ingredients. This is something else you NEED to invest in. It’s amazing salt, and amazing topped on eggs. This salt is thin, flakey, dreamy, and I’m in love with it. 

Serves 2

For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a powerful blender, or food processor and blend until completely pureed. Set aside. (Keeps well in a jar in the fridge for up to a week).

To boil the eggs, bring a pot of water to a boil. Slowly lower one egg at a time into the pot using a spoon. Boil eggs for 7-8 minutes to get a semi soft yolk (the way i like it). If you like hard boiled eggs, boil them for 10 minutes,and if you like it really soft boiled, boil for 5 minutes. 

While the eggs are boiling, heat up the olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add the kale, season to taste with salt and pepper, and sauté for no more than 2 minutes. You just want to cook the kale till the color is brighter, and still has a crunch to them. Split to kale onto two plates and drizzle some of the creamy parsley dressing over the kale. 

Once the eggs are done, strain the water, and place the eggs in a bowl of ice water to stop the eggs from cooking further. Once cool enough to handle, peel, and cut in half length wise. Add one egg to each plate, and season with pepper and maldon salt. If you’d like you can drizzle a little olive oil over the eggs. Eat while the kale and eggs are still warm, and enjoy!

Note: Everyone boils eggs differently, so if you have a technique of your own, do it that way. I find this way always brings the same results.

Crispy Edamame

  • 2 cups of frozen edamame, shelled
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

As much as I love curling up on the couch to a movie and a large bowl of warm buttery popcorn, sometimes it’s nice to substitute that for a bowl of crispy edamame. These are so addictive and easy to make. They’re also great for serving at a party in place of a bowl of nuts. But these have been my sole snack while watching season 2 of ‘House Of Cards.’ Grab a handful every time Kevin Spacey talks to camera.

Serves 2-4. Double the recipe if you’re making these for a party.

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.

Let edamame thaw for about an hour beforehand. Rinse and dry the edamame well and place in a mixing bowl.

Dress the edamame with soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Mix well using a large spoon. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. 

Transfer to a sheet pan and spread the edamame evenly. Place in the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Make sure to toss around ever 10 minutes as to make sure one side doesn’t burn.

While the edam is roasting, toast the sesame seeds on a frying pan over medium heat. Toast for a couple minutes until golden and fragrant. 

Once edamame is done, place in a mixing bowl and toss in the sesame seeds. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve while still warm. They should be eaten the same day.

Enjoy!

My Mother’s Za’atar, plus Labneh

Za’atar:

  • 1/2 cup of coriander seeds
  • 1/2 cup of cumin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds

makes a little less than a cup

Labneh:

  • 1 cup of greek yogurt
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dry mint
  • 1 tablespoon of zatar
  • good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • olives

serves 1-2

The year is 1990, Greenwich CT. I’m in kindergarten and my teacher is going around the room asking everyone what they ate for breakfast that day. Some kids said eggs, some said pancakes, pop tarts were for sure mentioned, and then it was my turn. I proudly and confidently yelled out “Lebneh.” My teacher and fellow classmates looked slightly confused. I of course had no idea that Lebneh wasn’t an american dish, and as far as I knew it was as common as two eggs over easy with a side of bacon. I went on to explain what it was, and the confusion remained, it was then I realized that though I was born in america I was very different from my classmates. With a mother who grew up in Egypt, and a father from Lebanon, the food I grew up eating was most diffinetly not common in my home town. This became something I was slightly embarrassed about. I totally got over it with time and now proudly introduce these dishes to friends, and now to you all!

Now let me explain exactly what Lebneh is, but first let’s start with what makes it special; za’atar.

 Za’atar is a middle eastern mix of spices that can be used in many different ways. You can add olive oil to it, and eat as a dip with pita bread. It’s great on hummus, or used to spice meats, vegetables, and fish. But I most commonly use it with Labneh which is a strained yogurt, thick and slightly sour in flavor, which you season with za’atar, olive oil, olives and eat as a sort of dip with pita bread. It’s usually prepared as a breakfast dish, but I have no rules when it comes to this…I pretty much eat it everyday, day or night. You can find Lebnah at middle eastern specialty stores, but you can also use greek yogurt, or regular yogurt that you’ve strained with cheese cloth over night. Greek yogurt is easiest to use, and super easy to find.

For the za’atar, in a medium frying pan on medium heat, toast, occasionally tossing around, the coriander seeds till fragrant and golden, about 2 minutes. Keep a close eye on them as they can burn easily. Once toasted, transfer coriander seeds to a bowl to cool. 

Next, in the same pan, on medium heat, toast the cumin seeds till fragrant and darker in color for a little over a minute. Make sure to toss with a wooden spoon while they’re toasting, again they can burn easily. Transfer the cumin to the bowl of coriander seeds to cool as well.

Now, on the same pan, toast the sesame seeds till golden in color for about 30 second tossing the whole time. These toast very fast. Turn of heat, and transfer sesame seeds to a different small bowl.

Using a coffee grinder, place a few spoonfuls of the cumin coriander seed mixture at a time. Grind to a fine powder. Transfer ground the ground cumin and coriander to a new bowl. Grind all till all the seeds of ground.

Mix in the sesame seeds into the ground cumin and coriander mixture. And now you got yourself some za’atar! Store in a jar at room temp. Done!

For the Labneh, spread yogurt onto a plate. Season with salt, and sprinkle dry mint on top. Add the zatar to one side, and drizzle oive oil over the labneh. Serve with some olives and eat with pita bread. 

Honey Roasted Fingerling Sweet Potatoes with Cumin and Cilantro

  • 1 lb of finger sweet potatoes (can use regular sweet potatoes, cut into the same size
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of coarsely chopped cilantro for garnish

serves 2-4

I love sweet potatoes, and when I saw that Good Eggs were selling FINGERLING sweet potatoes I had to make something with them for my blog.

My mom would always make me baked sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar, and it was the perfect movie night snack. Whether it be adding sugar or honey to the sweet potato, it’s always an obvious choice. So I wanted to try something a little different with these cute little guys by adding the sweetness of honey, and the savoriness of cumin and cilantro. The perfect sweet and savory match! 

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees.

Clean and dry the sweet potatoes. Cut into quarters length wise. Spread out on a baking sheet and season with salt, pepper and cumin. Drizzle with olive oil and mix everything together using your hands. Make sure all the sweet potatoes are evenly coated with the seasonings and olive oil. Pop in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes, or until tender and golden. Occasionally toss them around while they’re roasting.

Once cooked, take out of the oven, and drizzle the honey over the potatoes, and toss around using a spoon to make sure all the pieces get some honey love. Pop back in the oven for about 5 more minutes to heat the honey up, which will make the sweet potatoes deliciously sticky. Take out of the oven and place the butter on the baking sheet and let it melt with the potatoes. Toss all together.

When serving, garnish with cilantro and serve right away. Enjoy!

Warm Mustardy Potatoes

  • 1 lb yukon gold potatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of grainy mustard
  • 2 teaspoons of powdered mustard
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of minced fresh dill
  • sea salt 
  • fresh cracked black pepper

Peel and cut the potatoes. Set aside in a bowl of water while you prepare a large pot of boiling water, or a steamer. I steamed my potatoes, with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and steamed them for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Boil if you’d prefer for the same amount of time, though I find by steaming potatoes you  don’t risk having them be mushy. Boil or steam the potatoes with the garlic cloves.

Once potatoes are cooked, strain, discard the cloves, and place in a large bowl. Mix in the butter, olive oil, lemon juice, grainy mustard, powdered mustard, dijon mustard, and dill. Season with 1/2 a teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 a teaspoon of pepper. Mix, taste, and add more salt and pepper if needed. More lemon juice can be added as well. 

Serve immediately, and enjoy!

Winter Kale Salad with Warm Roasted Sunchokes and Butternut Squash

  • 5 oz baby kale
  • 7 medium sized sunchokes, makes about 1 cup once sliced
  • butternut squash, 1 cup cubed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • parmesan for garnish
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper 

Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons o fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly crushed black pepper

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe, but now that the holidays are over, and work is chilling out a bit/a lot, I have all the time to continue sharing my recipes with you fine folks. I thought I’d start the new year off with a salad…because lets face it, we all want to start eating healthier and working out once the new years begins. It may not be a resolution that lasts the whole year, but it’s nice to try it out any way.  I know I’m going to get to the gym one of these days…maybe.

What I think is important to eating healthy is that what you’re eating doesn’t have to be boring and bland. You can make a salad hearty, healthy, and packed with flavor. With this salad, you’ve got kale, which is a great source of iron, vitamins A and C, fiber, among several other benefits. For some unique flavor you’ve got roasted butternut squash and sunchokes. Basically, this salad is great and easy to make, it even impressed my salad hating boyfriend. Here’s a start to a healthy (with the occasional cream based recipe) happy, successful year. 

preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Scrub, clean, and dry the sunchokes. Cut each one in half length wise, and then slice about 1/2 inch thick slices. Set aside.

Cut the butternut squash into about 1/2 inch thick cubes. Lay the butternut squash and sunchokes out on a baking sheet. Throw in the rosemary sprig and 3 garlic cloves. Toss everything together with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4  teaspoon of pepper, and a drizzle of  about 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Pop in the oven and roast for about 20-25 minutes, or until tender and golden. 

While the sunchokes and butternut squash are roasting, rinse and dry the baby kale. Set aside in a large salad bowl. 

Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl, taste and adjust seasoning or add more lemon if necessary. 

Once the sunchokes and butternut squash are done, discard the rosemary and garlic cloves (save garlic cloves to spread on some bread, or eat them alone…immediately…like I did) add them to the salad bowl with the kale while they’re still warm. Toss the salad with half of the dressing. If you think you need more dressing, add more. If not, set the remaining dressing in the fridge to use another time.

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve while the veggies are still warm, and garnish each serving with some parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Creamy Farro with Sausage and Butternut Squash

  • 2 cups of instant farro, rinsed and strained
  • 1 hillshire farm smoked sausage
  • 1/2 medium sized butternut squash cut into small cubes (yields 3 cups once squared)
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 parmesan, freshly grated
  • 3 cups of water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Hillshire Farm approached me with a fun opportunity to create a seasonal, quick, and easy recipe using their smoked sausage. When I think of this time of year, my mind always goes to butternut squash. You’ve all heard me rant about how much I love it, and I thought it would pair really nicely with the sausage. So I decided to venture out from the typical butternut squash risotto…everyones favorite. I thought, why not take that staple of a dish, and make it more exciting and different. Using farro was a great replacement to risotto rice, a healthy one at that. And by adding sausage which is such an easy addition, it makes for a great hearty dinner, and it barley takes any time to make. 

In a deep sauce pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter on medium heat. Once melted and slightly bubbling, add the minced shallot. Sautee in the butter till translucent, then add the cut butternut squash. Let that cook for about 2 minutes. 

Add the washed faro, some salt and pepper, and stir. Once the faro is well mixed with the shallots and butternut squash, add the 3 cups of water and cover. Keep the water at a constant boil for about 10-15 minutes, or until the water has evaporated and the faro is cooked.

While the faro is cooking, slice your sausage a half an inch thick. Heat up a medium sized frying pan on medium heat, and pan fry the sliced sausage till crispy and golden on each sides. About 5-8 minutes. Once the sliced sausage is done, transfer to a paper towel covered plate as to absorb any access oil.

When the faro and butternut squash are cooked and tender, bring the stove to a very low heat, and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, heavy cream, and parmesan. Mix well, till the cream has slightly thickened, and butter and cheese is melted. About 1 minute. Turn off heat, and mix in the crispy slices sausage and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Taste, and add more cheese if desired.

Tip* When serving, garnish with fresh minced parsley, and more grated parmesan.