Sesame-Chile Kettle Corn
Besides the huge boxes of candy, movie theaters often turn popcorn—a fiber-rich food—into a sponge for fat. Grace Parisi adds a fiery kick to her healthier sweet-and-salty version of kettle corn by tossing it with whole red chiles.
Justin Devillier upgrades classic Southern cheese straws with Iranian spices like cardamon. He sometimes swaps out the cardamom for equal amounts of ground coriander or fennel seed.
Smoked Cheese Cocktail Cookies
A pinch of cayenne pepper adds a spicy kick to these savory cookies, flavored with both sharp cheddar and smoked Gouda cheese. If you prefer, you can replace the smoked Gouda with Gruyère.
Cranberry-Walnut Power Bars
These gingery, nutrient-packed bars use only natural sweeteners like brown rice syrup and natural cane sugar. “Brown rice syrup has a nice, round flavor that doesn’t give you the jolt of sweetness that processed sugars do,” Heidi Swanson says. The recipe itself is very versatile: “Once you get the hang of the technique, you can swap in all kinds of other nuts, spices and dried fruit.”
After rolling out this buttery dough, stamp out all different kinds of shapes (Ginna Haravon likes making animal crackers). It’s important to chill the dough before and after rolling it out so the crackers are tender.
Artichoke Dip with Crispy Shallots
Chef Michael White’s version of the classic cheesy, warm dip makes great use of frozen artichokes. They’re simmered with garlic and wine, then mixed with cream cheese, Gruyère and Tabasco and baked with a panko bread-crumb topping.
Black Pepper Jerky
This classic jerky gets a double dose of peppery flavor from both cracked peppercorns in the marinade and coarsely ground peppercorns on top.
German Soft Pretzel Sticks
“I’ve always been a fan of any food high in salt and starch,” Grant Achatz says, “and soft pretzels right out of the oven are awesome.” You can eat these slightly sweet, chewy, dark pretzel sticks plain or with mustard; Achatz goes for ranch dressing.
Tomato Salsa with Cucumber "Chips"
This healthy take on the traditional chips-and-salsa combo is nearly fat-free and super-refreshing. The antioxidant-rich salsa is delicious served right after it’s made, but the flavors meld nicely after a day or two in the refrigerator.
Overnight Fennel and Jicama Pickles with Orange
Fried Peanuts with Asian Flavors
To make these addictive peanuts extra-tangy, Chris Yeo soaks them in lime juice before frying them and tossing them with tart shredded lime leaves.
Caramelized Onion Dip
Chile-Cheese Yucca Chips
Yucca, sometimes called cassava, is a starchy root that grows in very warm climates and makes supercrunchy chips. To remove the tough outer skin, use a sharp, heavy knife rather than a peeler.
Elizabeth Falkner loves eating these energy-boosting, cardamom-spiced date bites made with almonds, walnuts and pistachios. “Eat two of these as a snack or with some juice for breakfast, and you're satisfied,” she says.
These nuts are an addictive combination of sweet, spicy and sticky-crunchy.
Katie Lee deconstructs the retro deviled-egg by blending hard-boiled eggs with mustard and mayonnaise so it’s more like an egg salad that she can spread on toasts. “Simplicity is key,” she says. “To me, it’s more about tasting the egg than anything else.”
Hogs in a Blanket
This fun, high-brow take on pigs in a blanket swaps spicy andouille sausage for the hot dogs, with sweet mustard chutney as a condiment.
Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake
Lauren Chattman makes this pound cake especially rich by swirling in the chocolate-hazelnut spread Nutella. She recommends serving the cake with coffee ice cream. (Recipe adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes.)
Apple Pie Bars
Mary Odson’s sister Cathy came up with these bars, which have a nutty, streusel-like topping and a crisp shortbread crust.