Irish Pub Soup is just one of three recipes to turn to when you want a hearty snack. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

This week I want to share some snacks unlike the run-of-the-mill items found in the grocery store aisles. These munchies can all be made in your kitchen then served up in various ways.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

Our favorite Irish Pub Soup is a thick, creamy bowl of goodness that I’m always hungry for. Discovered by one of my daughters the first time she visited the Emerald Isle, this has become a staple that I can eat for breakfast or slurp down as a nighttime nosh.

The latest batch I concocted was made with a beautiful stock made from roasted chicken, my favorite base for this silky soup. Using homemade vegetable stock is also lovely, but if you want to save time, just go with the store-bought version. Substituting a turnip or a couple parsnips for some of the potatoes is nice if you have them, and adding an apple to the pot will bring in a sweet note. Fiddle around with this basic recipe to find your winning combination.

Johnny Cakes are fluffy corn “pancakes” that are also a versatile snack or addition to any meal. It’s traditional to fry them up in lard or bacon fat, but if you just can’t allow yourself to go that route, canola oil flavored with a bit of butter will do fine. I recommend using stoneground cornmeal as this coarser grind gives the cakes an added crunchy texture that’s very pleasing.

The addition of butter and homemade jam or maple syrup makes them extra yummy, but you can also add savory herbs or even shredded cheese to the batter.

Lastly, sweet potato rounds are my new favorite thing. Dusted with cinnamon-sugar, sprinkled with toasted nuts, or dipped into maple syrup, they will stave off those cookie cravings.

For a savory snack, do further experimentation with those herbs in the cupboard or simply dip the rounds in ranch dressing or vinaigrette. I have served these with everything from black bean and corn salsa to homemade cranberry or apple sauce. They are also quite nice tossed into a salad.

All three of these goodies can be used to plump up any meal or can be enjoyed on their own as an out-of-the-ordinary, filling snack that will go a long way to sustain you whether you’re headed out into the winter weather or curled up with a book by the fire.

Irish Pub Soup

4-6 leeks (white part only), sliced
3/4 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
4-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter and oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Sauté leeks, carrots, celery and garlic until translucent and soft, about 15 minutes. Add stock and potatoes, simmering until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature and puree in a traditional blender or with a handheld blender to a smooth consistency. Adjust consistency with additional stock if desired. Reheat before serving. Yield: 6-8 servings

Johnny Cakes

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup lard, bacon grease, or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter

Place dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Stir in egg, milk and water until smooth. Heat fat or oil in a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet along with the butter over medium-high heat. Use a 1/4-cup measuring cup for scooping up batter and dropping it into the oil. Fry just a few cakes at a time until crisp and golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. Yield: 8 cakes

Roasted Sweet Potato Rounds

2 pounds sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch thick rounds
4 tablespoons butter or coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange sweet potato rounds 2 inches apart on a rimmed baking pan lined with parchment paper or foil. Brush and salt both sides of potato slices with butter or oil. Bake for 20 minutes then flip slices with a spatula and bake for another 20-25 minutes until very golden and caramelized on the outside and fluffy inside. Yield: 4 servings

Comments are not available on this story.