Fix Me A Snack

A blog created by a mom who got sick of feeding her kids crackers and ice cream

tarragon dip

This dip is the tops with blanched asparagus. But of course no one else in my household likes asparagus, so we eat it with carrot sticks. And it’s still great. Really.

I’m a fan of any and all recipes that help me use up fresh herbs right now. My husband was kind enough to make up some giant raised beds in the spring and now I have more fresh herbs than I’ll ever be able to use. Such problems.

herb beds

Tarragon Dip Recipe

1 cup plain greek yogurt
1/3 cup mayonaise
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh tarragon
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch of salt and pepper

Place all the ingredient in a bowl and mix well. Serve with crudities.

Yield: 2 cups
Prep time: 10 minutes

Parmesan Kale Chips

The huge burning question in my life this afternoon is “Which is best: baked or dehydrated kale chips?” Researching this question on the internet led me to Gluten Free Fix’s recipe for Parmesan Kale Chips. I just took them out of the oven and YUM! I will be making these again for sure. The littlest taste tester in my household was not keen on them, but she’s just biased against kale. I’m sure my eldest would love these, but she’s over at a friend’s house. So they’re basically all for me which is not a problem at all.

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So before I get on with sharing the recipe, if any one out there is a dehydrated kale chip guru, please be my new best friend and tell me how to make them yummy. The no frills batch I tried a year ago tasted way too green and seaweed-like.

I haven’t dove into the whole raw fake cheese version with cashew sauce and nutritional yeast because the more raw vegan stuff I try, the more I do not want to become a raw vegan. But not too many years ago I wouldn’t have touched kale and now look at me. So please attempt to educate me if you have any feelings on the subject. So far the best kale chips I’ve made have come out of a low-heat convection oven. But I feel like the ones they sell in the store are dehydrated and I’m dying to figure it out.

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Baked Parmesan Kale Chips Recipe

Adapted from Gluten Free Fix. All I’ve really changed is the baking technique which I think is extremely important as a burnt kale chip is extremely unappetizing. If you don’t have a convection oven, follow the baking instructions in my Kale Chip recipe. The end product will be almost the same, it will just take longer.

1 large bunch curly kale, washed, dried and stems removed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat convection oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place kale in a large bowl and sprinkle the rest of the ingredients on top. Mix and massage for 30 seconds with your hands. Spread kale onto two baking sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crispy. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 2 quarts
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Baking-time: 25 minutes

There are hard-core cookbooks out there that have recipes for homemade cheese powder. But somehow, I haven’t gotten around to making my own. Actually, I think cheese powder is where I draw the line. People think I’m crazy enough already. If I made cheese powder from scratch I couldn’t tell anyone about it for fear of the looks I’d get, so what’s the point? It’s much more normal feeling to get really excited about King Arthur’s cheese powder. This stuff is the bomb.

I make about 8 or 10 cups of popcorn in our whirly pop and immediately sprinkle on a couple tablespoons of the powder along with a pinch of salt and viola! If you use an air popper, you might need to spray a little oil on the popcorn to help the powder stick.

King Arthur is not paying me for this. :(

I was going to wait until next year to publish this little recipe. But I’m all caught up in the moment. The tomatoes are still rolling in from our garden and the only way we can stand to eat them anymore is salsa. I need to write this all down and get it out there right now.  My kids love this stuff.

This summer I’ve been falling in love with Alice Walter’s The Art of Simple Food. Her salsa recipe is the basis for this one and I love it.

Heirloom Tomato Salsa Recipe

The ingredient ratios in this recipe are extremely negotiable. But please do use the best tomatoes you can find. They carry the entire show. I’ve done it without the onion and with parsley instead of cilantro and it was still great.

3 – 4 heirloom tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped fine
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 scant teaspoon kosher salt
Juice of one lime
A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Transfer to a quart jar and put it in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour to allow the flavors to develop. Serve with tortilla chips. We like to use the Scoop variety because the tomatoes release a fair amount of liquid.

prep-time: 10 minutes
yield: approximately 1 quart

I don’t know about you, but it’s starting to feel like Summer is on the way out around here. The kids are headed back to school. Apples are starting to call my name. Acorns are starting to appear. They are big and fat this year. I think it’s going to be a nice Fall.

But before I start to break out my flannel shirts, it’s time to buckle down and focus on the final flush of summer. I don’t know how it happened really, but I finally became a tomato gardener this summer. I gave away a couple quarts of them yesterday. They are taking over my pantry and I love it.

Eating has become an exercise in tomato consumption. We were doing a lot of tomato sandwiches last week. Today we took it to the next level and made Egg, Pesto, and Tomato sandwiches for lunch inspired by one of the many great recipes in the new Weelicious Lunches cookbook. Tomorrow’s dinner will involve a Tomato Tart, which is a highlight of our summer. Make one.

Another joy is heading out to our herb garden and picking some parsley, tarragon and chives for this Green Goddess Dip. It is my dip of choice during the summer whenever I feel like enticing my family to eat crudites. It’s also quick and easy to make. I like to let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours after its made to let the flavors meld and it thickens up a bit too. But I’ve eaten it plenty of times straight out of the food processor and there have been no complaints.

Green Goddess Dip Recipe

This recipe is adapted ever-so-slightly from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. This book has a fabulous-looking appetizer section that I’ve only just begun to tap into. I usually mix up the herbs according to whichever tender leafy greens are most needing to be picked. Tarragon is an important player even though its quantity is small.

1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh chives
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Whiz all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth and no large bits of herb remain. Scrape down the side of the bowl if necessary. Store in an airtight container for at least one hour, if possible. Serve with veggies like carrots, cucumbers, peppers and kolarabi.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups
Prep-time: 10 minutes

 

Belltown Hill Orchards in Glastonbury, Connecticut grows a plum called Methley. It is my favorite plum. I use it to make some very tasty vanilla plum jam. When I’ve used up my energy making jam, I turn to my dehydrator and 12 hours later we have chewy little morsels that are sweet as well as a bit sour. They are heaven.

The best part is that the fruit does not need to be peeled. I just cut out the pit, and chop the plum into quarters.

Next, they are lined up on the tray and dehydrated for about 12 hours at 135 degrees.

They taste like candy. Really good candy that is all natural and perfectly delicious. Finding homemade snacks that taste as good as, if not better than, chemical-laden grocery store goodies always feels like a tiny victory for my family.

Store them in an airtight container at room temperature. Try your best to share.

They will keep for months if they are properly dried.

Is it just me, or is spending a sunny morning picking blueberries with kids one of the funnest family activities ever? We saved up 10 trays of fresh blueberries last year and ran out in the middle of the winter. I’m going for 20 trays this year – at least. The fact that we have an extra large freezer in the garage allows me to stockpile.

Just in case you didn’t already know, blueberries are really easy to freeze. They are in many ways my favorite berry because they are so sturdy, versatile, and downright tasty. Freshly picked berries  that have never been refrigerated are my idea of heaven. But in the middle of winter I also love having the fixings for smoothies, pies, muffins, syrup, and blueberry compote at the ready. Whenever I pull some out of the freezer, the kids insist on having a few to snack on right away.

All you need to do to freeze them is lay them out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Make sure they are dry. Make some room in your freezer and let them freeze for at least 4 hours. They freeze relatively quickly. But I usually forget about them and leave them overnight.

After the berries are frozen, transfer them to a gallon-sized airtight bag squeezing out all the excess air you can before sealing it completely. There are fancy gadgets and tools that can remove all the air. But that’s not necessary for blueberries. They’ll be fine.

Et viola! You’ve got yourself some frozen goodness. Put the bag back in the freezer where it will be waiting for you patiently.

Here in the Northeast, most pick-your-own farms grow a wide variety of berries that produce all the way into the fall. So get out there and get pickin’!

One of the most popular categories on Fix Me A Snack is “10 Minutes or Less“.  Those of us who do not like to spend our entire lives in the kitchen, appreciate a little inspiration in the realm of  quick healthy snacks for kids.

This is a snack we used to eat all the time, but it’s fallen by the wayside lately. Bananas with chocolate syrup and sprinkles was always a winner. Maybe we need to bring it back.

Also, I must show you a picture I found that my youngest drew a couple years ago. It’s the family in the kitchen. I love it. Can you tell I’m feeling a little nostalgic today? When they were babies the older moms always told me they would grow up so quickly and I didn’t believe them one bit. They were right, of course. Wah.

I was trolling the isles of Whole Foods yesterday and this giant bag of herb-encrusted popcorn was calling out to me quite loudly. The only reason I resisted was because I knew Zatar popcorn would be even better. Is it Zatar or Za’tar or Zathar? Does anyone really care? However you spell it, it is a middle eastern spice blend that contains sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds.

If you drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on freshly popped popcorn and sprinkle it liberally with Zatar, you will be happy. One of my kids even thinks it’s the bee’s knees. Sometimes I might add a small pinch of salt if I’m in the mood. But it doesn’t really need it.

I get my Zatar from Penzey’s Spices. You can make your own following this recipe on 101 Cookbooks.

My convection oven and I still aren’t on a first name basis. But I’m slowly learning it’s ways and am often pleasantly surprised by it’s capabilities. Don’t ask me exactly what those capabilities are. Part of me wonders if it really does speed up dinner or if it’s just nice to have a button on the oven that makes me feel like I’m cheating time.

I’m not fully convinced, but if there is an ultimate use for convection ovens it is making kale chips. The fan in the back of the oven keeps the air moving evenly throughout the oven. As a result, the chips crisp up quickly and evenly. By keeping the temperature low, I am able to avoid the dreaded over-baked brown kale chip which would send my family away screaming. And did I mention how much more quickly I can turn out kale chips now? They’re done in 20 minutes instead of an hour in a regular oven.

The oven essentially becomes a high-heat dehydrator. The chips are roasted quickly and safely. (I tried dehydrating kale chips once in my dehydrator and they tasted like seaweed. So you won’t be seeing a recipe for dehydrated kale chips on this blog unless my palate is elevated significantly.)

The only problem with this recipe is that my husband wants me to fix him kale chips for his late night snack all the time now. One can only fit so much curly kale in the fridge. Woe is me.

Speaking of problems, I loved loved loved all the nice comments folks left after I whined in my last post. Thanks for the good vibes. They were much appreciated.

Convection Oven Kale Chips Recipe

1 bunch curly kale
1 generous pinch of fine salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to Convection 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rinse the kale and tear the leaves off of the stem and into pieces.  Spin the kale dry in a salad spinner. Transfer the kale to a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and oil. Massage the kale with your hands for a few minutes. Divide the kale between two parchment-lined baking sheets making sure the leaves are spread out evenly.

Bake for 20-25 minutes depending on how much kale was in your bunch. A bigger bunch will take longer as the leaves will be more crowded. If your chips aren’t salty enough, sprinkle on a touch more. Serve or store for up to two days in an air-tight container.

Yield: approximately 6 cups
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Bake-time: 20 minutes