Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

[donotprint]I know. Your kid(s) would never eat this. What am I thinking? I almost didn’t even try this one because I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it much less my little ones. But, my eldest is a brave little culinary soul. Her evaluation: “It’s good.”

According to Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini: The Essential Reference, the tomatillos are not green tomatoes. Rather they are a tart fruit that is formed within a “rustly-crisp parchment bladder. [/donotprint]

If you’re serving this salsa to grown-ups, you might want to add a small clove of garlic and a little bit of  jalapeno.

2 medium tomatillos
1 medium tomato
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the wrapper from the tomatillos and rinse well in warm water to remove waxy film. Place the tomato and the tomatillos in a baking dish and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes to soften. Allow to cool completely.

If the skin on the tomato is easy to peel off, go ahead and do so. Chop the tomatillos and tomatoes. Drain off excess liquid a bit. Mix together with the lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips.

Yield: a generous cup
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Bake-time: 10 minutes

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Homemade Handy Snacks

Occasionally, I am saddened by the fact that my children do not know the joy of Handi Snacks. If I weren’t completely off my rocker, I would go to the store and buy some, give them to my kids, and move on. But awhile ago, I decided that I wanted to start making crackers. Again, not a normal thing. But I was curious nonetheless.

It turns out that crackers are extremely easy and quick to make – until you start the rolling out the dough, cutting the dough, and waiting for the first batch to bake so you can put the next one in. All that feels a little too time consuming. But, the results where worth it. Crackers are ubiquitous and treated with disrespect, especially when kids are involved. Making them from scratch just might restore your family’s appreciation for this humble snack. And the lively cheese dip doesn’t hurt either!

For the Cheese Dip:

Adapted from the Pimento Cheese recipe in the Lee Brothers Southern Cookbook.

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 of one roasted red pepper from a jar, rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
Pinch salt

Place the cheddar, red pepper, cream cheese, mayonnaise and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for about 60 seconds, pausing once to scrap down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, or until the mixture is smooth. Serve or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Yield: 1 cup
Prep-time: 10 minutes

For the crackers:

Inspired by a recipe for Homemade Saltines at Just Eat It.

3/4 cup white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks
1/2 to 2/3 cup cold water
Flaky sea salt or kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the flours, salt and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for a 5 – 10 seconds. Add the chunks of  butter to the flour mixture. Pulse for 5 – 10 seconds until the butter is broken down into large crumb-sized pieces. With the processor running, slowly pour in the water stopping when the dough is uniformly wet. It will not form into a ball, but some of the dough may gather into clumps.

Remove the dough from the food processor. With your hands, work it into a ball. Take a handful of dough from the ball and roll it out with a rolling pin on a well-floured work surface. Roll it out to 1/16 of an inch or as thin as you can get it. Try to keep your thickness uniform so the crackers will bake evenly.

Cut the rolled dough into rectangles and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick each cracker two or three times with a fork and sprinkle liberally with salt.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just start to turn a golden brown, rotating once during baking. Transfer to a cooling rack. Serve or store in an airtight container.

Yield: 100 crackers
Prep-time: 30 minutes
Bake-time: 8 minutes

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Parsley Dip

If you’re anything like me, you’re a little stumped by what to do with the giant bunch of leftover parsley sitting at the bottom of your crisper drawer. Occasionally, a dinner recipe calls for 1/4 cup of fresh parsley and I know it’ll make a difference in the end product, so I go ahead and spring for it at the grocery store. But then the rest of it  just rots in a bag in the refrigerator. So sad.

Well, those days are over! I have made a modified Green Goddess Dip that makes a special effort to use lots and lots of parsley and pantry staples that you are likely to already have on hand. And you’re getting some bonus greens into your family’s diet!

2 cups chopped fresh parsley, washed
1 cup plain greek-style yogurt or sour cream
1 small or medium clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch salt

Place the parsley, yogurt, garlic, vinegar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Cover and pulse for 20 seconds or so. Serve with fresh veggies or crackers. Store in a airtight container in the refrigerator.

Note: I’ve gone a little easy on the garlic in an attempt to go easy on kids’ palette. But, when I made it I used 2 cloves and my first grader loved it.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Prep-time: 10 minutes

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Guacamole

Whenever I eat guacamole, I feel like it might be okay to become a vegan someday.  The creamy goodness an avocado imparts is right up there with cheese and butter in my book. 

For more “authentic” guacamole, omit the beans, chop the cilantro, and mash all the ingredients up with a fork.

 

1 small clove garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1/3 cup canned cannelli beans, rinsed (optional)
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ripe hass avocados, pits and skins removed

Place the garlic, beans, lime juice, cilantro, cumin, salt, and avocados in the bowl of a food processor. Cover and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Serve with tortilla or pita chips. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Press a piece of plastic wrap on top of the dip to keep browning to a minimum.

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

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Grapefruit with Yogurt Dip

[donotprint]There’s nothing like a bag of inexpensive red grapefruits to brighten up these sometimes dreary winter days.[/donotprint]

If your kids are younger, or if you just don’t feel like getting fancy with the skewers, you can serve the grapefruit on the side or simply on top of the yogurt parfait style.

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Kid-friendly Hummus

[donotprint]I’ve never been a huge fan of hummus. Making it at home has changed my tune, though. Homemade is so much creamier and tastier.  My kids named this snack Ted and then proceeded to devour him with gusto.

More importantly, my beautiful husband gave me a new camera for Christmas. And the sun came out this morning! Lucky me![/donotprint]

 

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Mud Dip

My oldest, who will pretty much eat anything, does not like nut butter of any kind (at the moment). It’s bizarre, but I let it slide since she is an open-minded eater (and, honestly, what choice do I have?). In this recipe, chocolate saves the day and makes the nut butter palatable.

I made some chocolate sauce based on a recipe from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook awhile ago. I intended to buy some, but the ingredient lists at the store were a little too frightening. Chocolate syrup would work just as well and there are a couple brands with short and understandable ingredient lists at the health food store and Trader Joe’s.

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1/3 cup unsalted nut butter (such as almond or peanut)
3 tablespoons chocolate sauce or chocolate syrup
Small pinch salt
Sliced apples for dipping

In a small mixing bowl, stir the nut butter, chocolate sauce, and salt together until the color is uniform. Serve with apples.

Yield: scant 1/2 cup
Prep time: 5 minutes

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Herbed Yogurt Dip

[donotprint]I’m on a bit of a back-to-basics kick lately. I hope I’m not putting my dear readers to sleep. Believe me, I’ve been experimenting with crazy “innovative” snacks. But they’ve all been bombs. Sometimes I need to whip up something more predictable so my kids will not mount a rebellion. [/donotprint]

 

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