George Noory's Late-Night Snacks

Winning Recipes for Late-Night Radio Listening

George Noory and William J. Birnes

Forge Books

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• ALTERNATIVE HISTORY • CONSPIRACIES •
Toaster Tarts
Fast Microwaved Nachos
Savory Buttered Bread Sticks
Dumplings Love You
Secret Door Meat Loaf
Hearty Stew Over Rice in a Minute
Basic Tomato Sauce
Biscuit Baking Mix
Quick Biscuit Shortcake
Producer Tom’s Midnight Popcorn Munchies
Rum Coffee for Your Nerves
Creamy Hot Cocoa for Your Soul
 
The world is a scary place, and it’s hard to know who to trust. However, you can trust these recipes. Trust me on that.
I listen to all kinds of alternative narratives when it comes to history, and I always find them fascinating. After all, so much of what ends up in our history books is the product of consensus reasoning, and it doesn’t cover all the bases. Some of the alternate views of history—from the Ancient Astronauts theory to Nibiru and beyond—are way out there, and some of them make good sense.
Then there are those nights when we have one of my fa-vorite topics up for discussion: conspiracies. Again, I like to suspend disbelief while the author or researcher spins his tale. Wouldn’t it be keen if the world really were being run by a hidden hand? That’s such a comforting thought, and it’s the reason I’ve grouped the following recipes together: they all make you feel comforted, as if Big Brother is giving you a big bear hug.
I’ve laid out an entire comfort meal for you for one perfect day. Keep to the other side of the room when you microwave, and don’t worry about the ingredients in your normal fast food. Nothing to worry about.
We finish out the chapter with Producer Tom’s Midnight Popcorn Munchies. That’s how he selects the guests for the show: reading resumes at midnight, with popcorn, enjoying the three-ring circus. Three rings? Hmmmmm.
 
Toaster Tarts
Everything about toaster tarts is comfy. The toaster, our little workhorse of the morning, just does all the work for you, provided you put in some prep time the night before. Better yet, make a batch of these and pop them in the freezer for a great breakfast on the run that still feels special.
Yes, you can buy them packaged in the supermarket, but think of the mystery ingredients! And think of the fun of making them yourself in a variety of flavors, having them fresh, and saving money in the bargain.
Make these tarts in any of the many flavors that are available to tempt your children at breakfast (but you’re really tempting yourself) in strawberry, blueberry, chocolate, peanut butter, cashew or almond butter and jelly, or apple.
TARTS
¾ cup vegetable shortening
¾ cup sugar
3 large eggs
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup strawberry preserves or Freezer Fruit Preserves (here)
1 egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons light cream
FROSTING
½ teaspoon Vanilla Bean Extract (here)
2 tablespoons whole milk
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a baking sheet.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer or in a food processor, cream together the shortening and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and stir into the shortening mixture to make a soft dough. Chill for 1 hour.
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out into twelve 8 by 12-inch rectangles.
5. Spread about a tablespoon of the preserves over half of each rectangle, staying well within the edges of the pastry. Fold the pastry dough over the preserves and trim the edges with a pastry wheel, or crimp with a fork to seal.
6. Place the tarts on the prepared baking sheet and brush with the egg yolk–cream mixture. Bake for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
7. Stir the vanilla and milk into the confectioners’ sugar until you have a thin frosting. Dribble a tablespoon onto the top of each tart, or brush the frosting on using a pastry brush.
8. Wrap the tarts in aluminum foil and store in the refrigerator. The tarts will keep for about 7 days or can be frozen for 3 to 4 months.
TO USE   Unwrap a tart and place it in the toaster or toaster oven for 2 minutes if refrigerated and for 4 minutes if frozen. Or, unwrap a tart and cook it in the microwave for 1 minute on high if it has been refrigerated or for 2 minutes on high if it has been frozen. Be careful of the frosting, which gets extremely hot and somewhat runny when it is microwaved.
Makes 12 toaster tarts
VARIATIONS   Try adding coconut and chopped nuts to the filling, and sprinkle the frosting with ground cinnamon.
Add raisins, dates, and chopped nuts to a sliced apple filling.
For a chocolate tart, try adding 1 tablespoon of Basic Chocolate Sauce (here) to the tart and topping it with frosting flavored with ¼ teaspoon orange extract.
Fast Microwaved Nachos
Here is your equally quick lunch, assuming you have a microwave nearby. Our listeners tend to be very busy during the day, so here is a fast hearty dish.
The trick to nachos is to use the right cheese. For me, it’s a combination of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, both grated instead of sliced. They melt more easily that way. The other trick is to choose the right nacho chips. Again, for me, it’s the restaurant-type chips, not strips.
You can add your favorite dishes on the side, such as chorizo sausage and guacamole, as well as salsa.
Spread your nacho chips out on a large plate that will fit in your microwave without getting caught if the tray rotates.
Generously sprinkle over the grated cheddar first and then the grated Jack cheese. Of course, as to whether your Jack cheese will contain jalapeños or anything else is up to you, but I like to add sliced fresh jalapeños right on top before I melt the cheese in the microwave.
Microwave for about 45 seconds on high, or until the cheese just begins to bubble. Let cool for just a bit to keep from burning your fingers on the plate, then carefully remove from the microwave. Depending on how many chips and how much cheese, you can serve anywhere from just yourself and a friend to an entire party.
Unless you don’t feel like a party, of course. No one is judging. Eat them all by yourself.
VARIATIONS
Crushed Red Peppers: To spice up your nachos the easy way, just before microwaving, shake some crushed red pepper flakes over the cheese. This will give your nachos a lot of snap depending on how much pepper you add.
Jalapeño Peppers: If you like your nachos with fresh jalapeños covered with hot spicy cheese, wash and dice your jalapeños, pat dry, then spread over the nacho chips just before spreading the cheese. Add 15 seconds to the cooking time.
Chorizo Sausage: You can prepare this in a variety of ways. My two favorites are with sausage on the side, easy enough, or with sausage scattered over the chips and cheese over the sausage, with or without jalapeños or with sweet bell peppers. The trick is to cook the sausage in advance. I like to boil the sausage for at least 15 minutes to make sure it’s thoroughly cooked. Bring some water to a boil in a medium saucepan while you wash the sausage and then split the casings. When the water comes to a full boil, add the sausage and cook for 15 minutes. To test for doneness, split one of the sausages in two and see if it is cooked on the inside. If the meat is still pink, boil again for another 5 minutes and test again. When the sausage is done, remove from the boiling water, let cool for 5 minutes, dry, and then slice. Now you can fry the sausage briefly in garlic and oil, adding sweet bell peppers, jalapeños, and onions if you like. Begin by heating 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 2 garlic cloves in a frying pan. Slice a small green or red bell pepper and a small brown onion. When the garlic just starts to brown, add the sausage, peppers, and onion and brown thoroughly. Remove from the pan and transfer to a paper towel to drain. Scatter over the nachos, sprinkle with the cheese, and microwave for 1 minute.
Me Nachos Su Nachos: If I want to make an entire meal out of what was once a snack, this is how I do it. I make a huge platter of meat and peppers nachos by frying ground beef and sausage together along with bell peppers and onions, sprinkling on some crushed red pepper flakes and even a little taco sauce, adding a pinch of dried oregano, and then cooking it in a conventional oven at 350°F for 25 minutes. Here are the steps: Preheat the oven to 350°F. While you boil the sausage in a medium saucepan, brown 1 pound of ground beef in a skillet with a tablespoon of oil and a garlic clove until thoroughly cooked. Drain, then keep warm over low heat. When the sausage is thoroughly cooked and no longer pink on the inside, cut it into small pieces and add to the simmering ground beef. Add the sliced or diced bell pepper and onion and cook until the pepper and onion begin to brown. Drain and then pour the mixture over the nacho chips. Cover the nachos with your favorite shredded cheese. Mine is a mixture of cheddar and Monterey Jack. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Serve hot.
Savory Buttered Bread Sticks
Now that you are home for the rest of the long evening, why not start your nibbling with some bread sticks? The Olive Garden is popular for a reason, you know. Not that anyone is following you.
This recipe is a good way to use day-old Italian or French bread because you can make it up, wrap it in aluminum foil, and freeze. When reheated, the bread tastes fresh again.
You can also vary the kinds of butter you use, from Garlic Butter (here) for the traditional garlic bread to French Herb Butter (here) for a light lunch with soup to Ooh-la-la Butter (here) for a sweet breakfast of quick French toast.
Additional variations follow the main recipe, and you will probably be inspired to invent more of your own.
If you are baking a loaf of Savory Buttered Bread that you have frozen, add 15 minutes to the baking time.
1 large loaf Italian or French bread
½ cup (1 stick) prepared butter, softened:
Garlic Butter (here)
French Herb Butter (here)
Ooh-la-la Butter (here)
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Slice the bread crosswise, leaving the bottom half in one piece.
3. Brush all of the butter along the cut sides of the bread, both top and bottom. Put the bread loaf back together and wrap tightly in aluminum foil.
4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cut the bread into 1 by 4-inch rectangles while it’s still warm. Serve immediately.
Makes 1 loaf
VARIATION   For French bread, spread with Ooh-la-la Butter, as above, and instead of baking, dip the slices in 2 eggs scrambled with ¼ cup whole milk, seasoned with salt and pepper, and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Fry in butter, sprinkle with ground cinnamon, and serve with maple syrup or one of the Sweet Berry Syrups (here).
Dumplings Love You
Dumplings are old-fashioned, and yes, they are fattening, but nothing in the world is as comforting as seeing them sitting cozily on the top of stews, broth, or even chili. Try the pretty speckled ones for variety, or when you want to impress yourself.
Old-Fashioned Dumplings
2 cups Biscuit Baking Mix (here)
1 cup whole milk
In a medium bowl, stir the baking mix and milk together to form a soft dough.
TO USE   At the perfect moment, drop the dough by spoonfuls onto the top of stew, soup, or chili—it must be nearly ready to eat, and the liquid bubbling hot and gently simmering. Simmer for 10 minutes, then cover tightly and cook for 10 minutes more.
Herb Dumplings
2 cups Biscuit Baking Mix (here)
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs: parsley, dill, or chives
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Mix the dumpling dough and cook, as above.
Vegetable Dumplings
2 cups Biscuit Baking Mix (here)
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion, green bell pepper, or scallions
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Mix and cook, as above.
Each recipe makes 12 dumplings
Secret Door Meat Loaf
This recipe has a secret ingredient that makes all the difference: pepperoni. No need to tell until the flavor introduces itself, just like a favorite guest on the secret door segment of Coast.
2 slices bread
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped mushrooms (you can use fresh shiitake mushrooms or simply open a can of mushroom pieces and stir them in)
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons ketchup, plus more for basting (optional)
½ cup finely chopped pepperoni
1½ pounds ground beef
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, tear the bread into small pieces or quickly blend in a food processor until it forms fine crumbs—pieces or crumbs are both good.
2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the oregano, garlic powder, and salt.
3. Stir in the bread crumbs, mushrooms, cheese, ketchup, if using, and pepperoni.
4. Add the beef and work all the other ingredients into it. I use my hands for this.
5. Form the mixture into a 9 by 6-inch loaf and place it in a loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes.
6. After 45 minutes of baking, brush the meat loaf with more ketchup, if desired. Cover and bake for 1 hour, or until the meat loaf is cooked through in the center.
Makes 1 meat loaf
Hearty Stew Over Rice in a Minute
I make no apologies for the simplicity of this recipe. In fact, it’s more like a bowl of late-night convenience food, but it does the trick, it’s quick, and it’s satisfying.
The satisfaction level of this recipe is that you fill up on rice. I like rice. Always have. And sometimes late at night when I’m researching for a guest and I feel my energy flagging, I like to have a bowl of stew over rice to recharge myself. Here’s one of my recipes, which you can make with rice you boil from scratch or with instant rice packets or even Minute Rice.
The great part about this recipe is that you can use any one of the great flavors of Campbell’s Chunky Soup for beef stew, chicken stew, or even vegetable stew. Any way you like it, this is a filling snack or a full meal for a family on a busy winter’s day.
¼ cup rice or single serving package of Minute Rice
One 10.75-ounce can Campbell’s Chunky Soup (your favorite flavor)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional)
1. To make a single serving of rice from scratch: In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup of water and a pinch of salt to a boil. When the water is at a rolling boil, add ¼ cup of your favorite rice, stir, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cover. Check the rice every 5 minutes or so until the water is absorbed and the rice is fluffy soft. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork.
2. To make the rice using instant rice or Minute Rice: Follow the package directions. When the rice is fully cooked, fluff with a fork and set aside.
3. To make the stew: Choose either Campbell’s Chunky Soup or any other thick, canned soup, and heat the soup in a saucepan or in the microwave until steaming hot. Pour over the cooked rice, and reheat in the microwave for 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
VARIATION   If you don’t have the time or inclination to boil up a serving of rice, just heat up a slice of thick French bread in the microwave for 15 seconds and pour the serving of Chunky Soup over the slice of bread. This makes a great open-faced stew sandwich that’s just as satisfying.
Basic Tomato Sauce
Nothing is more comforting to the Italians I know than to have a whole lot of tomato sauce in the pantry. This recipe is an ideal way to use up all the bountiful tomatoes of summer, and if you make sauce in quantity when tomatoes are plentiful, the cost-per-unit savings can be enormous. The procedure described is how my friends’ grandmothers always made her their sauces. This meatless version can be improved upon, made quicker still (Instant Pasta Primavera sauce, see variation), or made with a summer or Mexican flavor (Gazpacho-style Sauce).
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 medium onions, chopped
2 small green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
Two 20-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes (whole), or 4 pounds ripe plum or regular tomatoes
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon dried basil or 2 to 3 fresh basil leaves, minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
4 sprigs fresh parsley or ½ teaspoon dried parsley
1. In a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the garlic, onions, and bell peppers in the olive oil, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.
2. If using canned tomatoes, stir them into the oil mixture.
3. If using fresh tomatoes, put a separate pan of water on the stovetop to simmer while the vegetables are cooking. Drop in 3 or 4 tomatoes at a time, and transfer them after a minute or so to a bowl of cold water. As soon as the tomatoes are cool to the touch, peel each one over the pot containing the olive oil mixture, discard the peels, and drop in the whole tomato.
4. Add the salt, pepper, sugar, basil, oregano, and parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 hour. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
5. The sauce can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for about 1 week, or frozen for 3 to 9 months. Glass jars are better to use for storage than plastic, which reacts to the tomatoes over time.
NOTE   If you don’t object to the tomato skins, or are using Italian plum tomatoes, peeling may not be necessary. However, if your sauce is intended for company, small children, or invalids, the tomatoes should be peeled.
Makes 32 ounces sauce
Biscuit Baking Mix
I’ve used this mix as the basis for several of the recipes that follow, so if you think you will be making lots of pancakes, shortcake, or biscuits in the near future, double or triple the quantity of the basic baking mix.
It keeps very well in the pantry and you can use it for a quick finish for a meat or vegetable casserole by simply sprinkling a few teaspoons of the mix on the top before baking—it will sink to the bottom and form a soft pie crust.
10 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups shortening
1. Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Using two knives, a pastry blender, or your food processor, cut the shortening into the dry ingredients in the bowl. If mixing by hand, add the shortening in spoonfuls and cut it into the dry ingredients until the mixture has the texture of coarse cornmeal. If you are using a food processor, place the dry ingredients and shortening in the processor bowl (fitted with the metal blade) and pulse, starting and stopping often during processing and watching it closely until the mixture has the texture of coarse cornmeal.
2. Store the mix in a labeled, airtight container. It will keep on the pantry shelf for 1 to 6 months in dry weather. In very hot and humid weather, it’s a good idea to keep the mix in the refrigerator.
Use the basic mix to make any of the following dinner or breakfast accompaniments:
Quick Rolled Biscuits (here)
Dumplings Love You (here)
Crepes Diem (here)
Quick Mabel, the Pancakes! (here)
Surefire Waffles (here)
You can also use the mix to make these quick desserts:
Quick Coffee Cake (here)
Quick Biscuit Shortcake (below)
Makes 10 cups mix
Quick Biscuit Shortcake
I have found that the world seems to be evenly divided between those who like a biscuit-type shortcake and those who prefer a pound-cake type. Why debate the issue? Have both, especially when you’re listening to Stan Friedman tee off on the skeptic of the month. Try this recipe, making sure you don’t overcook it, before you commit yourself to the pound-cake version.
2 cups Biscuit Baking Mix (here)
½ cup whole milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Mix together all of the ingredients, stirring until a soft dough forms. Turn out the dough onto a surface dusted with more of the baking mix or just plain flour and knead gently for 30 seconds.
3. Roll out the dough ½ inch thick and cut into squares or 3-inch rounds.
4. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
TO USE   Split the shortcakes in half horizontally, spoon berries or preserves between the halves and over the top, and finish off with sweetened heavy cream, whipped if you’d like.
Makes 6 shortcakes
Producer Tom’s Midnight Popcorn Munchies
Still another variation on an old theme, this recipe can be specifically for you or your adult children friends. It’s for folks who like to stay up late and listen to Coast to find out about the truth no one else will ever tell you.
A bowl of this popcorn is also a great accompaniment to an old movie, say a flying saucer movie from the 1950s. You know, the one that scared you when you were a kid, but now looks more like a greater truth than pure fiction, especially after you learned that the CIA fed flying saucer stories to the major studios so as to marginalize UFOs and the people who wrote about them. How do we know this? The CIA told us so in its own report.
Yes, these munchies are my producer’s favorite. They are like snackin’ jacks, but with just a twist to differentiate it and make it slightly more adult. If, as an adult, you want the mixture to be a little sweeter, use regular dry-roasted peanuts and unsalted, also called sweet, butter. If you want to add a bit of salty tang to the mixture, use salted butter instead of unsalted butter.
12 cups popped corn
1½ cups shelled roasted peanuts
½ cup honey
½ cup (1 stick) salted or unsalted butter, your choice
1. In a large bowl, mix together the popcorn and nuts, stir- ring, shaking, and tossing until they are thoroughly combined.
2. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the honey and butter and warm in your microwave on medium for 3 minutes or on high for 90 seconds until the butter melts and is just starting to bubble. The mixture should be able to flow.
3. Pour the honey-butter mixture over the popcorn in the bowl and toss so that everything is thoroughly combined and coated.
4. Spread the mixture out in a microwave-safe pan and mi-crowave on high for 4 minutes. Stir and rotate and then continue to microwave for another 4-minute cycle. Remove from the microwave and set aside until cool to the touch, and the brick has the consistency of peanut brittle.
5. Break the brick up into handy chunks before serving, wrapping up for a lunch box, or storing in an airtight con-tainer. This will keep on your shelf for 2 weeks, but it won’t last that long. It will call to you like the sirens called to Odysseus as he was strapped to the mast. Unlike Odysseus, you will be unable to resist.
Makes about twelve 1-cup servings
VARIATIONS   Where is it written that you can only make this recipe with peanuts? Not here.
You can also use cashews, the saltier the better, or even walnuts or almonds. You know what? Why force yourself to choose, add all three with some peanuts and celebrate the variety.
Remember when you were a kid and you dug your teeth into that nougat-y candy with peanuts on top and maybe a hint or more of chocolate? Wanna get crazy? Try this—while the mixture is still warm, shape it into little rolls and then cut it. It will taste just like that old-time candy bar, but without the chocolate. Want the chocolate?
Take two pieces of dark chocolate and melt them just a little in a microwave-safe dish, and then roll your popcorn munchy in the chocolate to coat it. Eat too much of this and, if you’re a chocoholic, you will drift off into a happy mellow reverie.
Rum Coffee for Your Nerves
This is an alternative to Spiced and Fancy After-Dinner Coffee (here) and is tasty on those bitter cold nights when the wind is howling about and you want to feel warm all over.
3 tablespoons honey, warmed slightly
1 cup heavy cream
3 cups freshly brewed coffee
1 pint vanilla ice cream
½ cup rum
1. Assemble all of the ingredients beforehand so that you can perform the steps in quick succession. Begin by stirring the honey into the heavy cream and setting the mixture aside.
2. Pour the hot coffee over the ice cream and stir in the honey-cream mixture. Add the rum and stir well. Serve immediately.
Makes 32 ounces coffee
Creamy Hot Cocoa for Your Soul
For the ultimate comfort food, just wrap your hands around a mug of hot cocoa. Now, let the conspiracies flow. You are safe in your own hovel.
Make up quantities of this mix in the nippy days of October and November, and you will always have a warm, nourishing drink on hand.
2 cups instant nonfat dry milk
¾ cup sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup miniature marshmallows
Stir all of the ingredients together and store in a tightly closed jar or airtight container for up to 2 months.
TO USE   Put 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons of the mix into a mug and fill with boiling water or, for an extra-rich drink, hot milk. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with ground cinnamon for a special treat.
Makes 20 ounces hot cocoa mix


 
Copyright © 2013 by George Noory and William J. Birnes