Fix Me A Snack

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

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’!

The days are getting shorter and the nights are cooler. Instead of shopping for new sweaters at Anthropologie I should be dealing with all the herbs I planted this spring. At least I’ve got some of the basil taken care of with this Basil Hummus.

This is a winner of a recipe from An Organic Conversation that I found via seaweed snacks. It is simple to prepare and has the perfect amount of garlic and lemon juice. It’s great for dipping and on sandwiches. Love it.

We took the plunge and planted our first real in-the-ground garden this spring. Excuse me as I gush over how cool it has been to plant seeds, tend to their needs, and harvest their fruit. I don’t think any of us expected things to go as well as they have. It’s entirely possible that a gang of raccoons is circling at this very moment and plotting an invasion, but for the moment we are blissfully enjoying our gardening honeymoon.

The other day my 8-year-old had a moment. She looked over at me while eating veggies and dip and said, “It just hit me Mom. We are actually feeding ourselves.”

When it comes to cucumbers, indeed we are…

We are growing pickling cukes and slicing cukes. I’m already hatching plans for a few more varieties next year. Are Perisan cukes better than American slicing cukes? What about English? We’ll have to grow them all now and find out.

Anyway, back to the problem at hand…

I’ve already made a couple batches of dill pickles but the plants are showing no signs of waning. Rather, I’m a wee bit afraid of what they have in store for me. Come to my house this winter if you like pickles.

Pickling cukes are easy. I know what to do with those (even if it can be a lot of work). But slicing cukes have been demanding more and more attention lately so I decided to make a list of all the ways I’d like my family to eat them up:

1. Cucumber Snack Salad is a family favorite. And don’t forget Cucumber Sandwiches. And Cucumber Yogurt Cups.

2. And Tzatziki too!

3. Dill Cucumber Corn Salad is delightful.

4. I made a pretty killer cucumber soup (recipe from the WSJ, scroll down) the other night.

5. Check out this Cucumber Salad with Mint and Feta from Simply Recipes. And this Bread Salad is so happening once the tomatoes come in. Oh and this White Gazpacho too!

6. If buttermilk dressing is more your thing, check out this Cucumber Ribbon Salad from The Perfect Pantry.

7. If you’re having a party, try some Cucumber Bites with Garlic Herb Filling.

8. Looking for a perfect starter for a meal? Look no further: Cucumber Salad Recipes from Eating Out Loud.

9. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, this recipe uses up zucchini as well as cucumber and looks scrumptious: Cucumber and Zucchini Carpaccio Salad from White on Rice.

10. When all else fails, peel a fresh cuke and cut it into wedges. Sprinkle on some fine salt and eat it immediately. Yum.

 

Any other suggestions are more than welcome. I’m gonna need all the help I can get. Thanks.

To know Belltown Hill Orchards is to love the back corner of their farm store. During the summer, the shelves are loaded with baskets full of seconds that are a fraction of the usual price. The greedy home preserver in me always opts to get too much while visions of tarts and jams dance in my head.

Fresh nectarines are one of my favorites. They are easily my favorite stone fruit. All the brilliant sweetness of a peach without the medical aftertaste or the too-thick fuzzy skin.

Drying nectarines is super easy. The key is to cut along the crease and twist the fruit away from the pit. Slice, arrange on a tray, and dehydrate for 8 to 12 hours.

Store in an airtight container. Nibble on them in the dead of winter. Smile.

I don’t know about you, but in the Northeast things have been getting pretty toasty lately. We’ve been lessening the blow by eating as many local strawberries as possible and lounging excessively.

The picture of the precious little frozen fruit bits above was taken last year. In a couple weeks it will be reappearing in our freezer. It was a delightful little healthy snack for the kids last year. Nothing beats a frozen treat on a hot summer day. And this one has no added sugar or anything other than fruity goodness. It looks like I used green apples, blueberries, raspberries, nectarine, and sweet plum.

The only problem with this snack is that it requires a little planning in advance as the fruit needs at least four hours, preferably over night, to harden. Spread them out on a tray in a single layer and place the tray in your freezer. After the fruit  freezes completely, store it in an airtight container.

Also, I wouldn’t feed this to a kid under three years old. The young ones should probably stick with larger frozen items like chocolate-covered banana pops, orangsicles, or frozen fruit on a stick.

Eton Mess (a traditional English dessert consisting of strawberries, whipped cream, and crushed meringues) is my kids’ new favorite reason for livin’/snack. This afternoon they were happily introduced to meringues. Then we smashed them into bits! It was great.

I even put them to work making their own snack. Here they are whipping some cream and smashing meringues.

They are very focused.

But the pay-off for all their hard work is deemed worth it.

A sure sign that a snack is a winner is when my children, who are usually nice enough to humor me, refuse to stop eating so I can take a couple photos.

Eton Mess On A Stick Recipe

This recipe actually works best with huge industrial-strength California strawberries. The beefy berries hold their own on skewers better than I imagine delicate local berries would. They also have more square footage for the whipped cream and meringue to cling to. For the meringues I took the easy route and used Trader Joe’s Vanilla Meringues, but feel free to make your own, especially if you have a ton of egg whites and sugar waiting to be used.

1 pound strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved lengthwise
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 medium meringue cookies

Pour the cream and vanilla into a small bowl. Whip the cream mixture until peaks form. Set aside.

Place the meringues in a sandwich bag or under a towel and gently smash the cookies into tiny bits with the flat side of a meat tenderizer.

Stab the berries with a small bamboo skewer. (Cut off the pointy tips if your little ones can’t be trusted not to poke themselves in the eye.) Dip the berries into the crushed meringues, the whipped cream, and then maybe the crushed meringues one more time. Consume immediately.

Yield: 3 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes

Print Print

These beautiful little fudge pops are the world’s most perfect way to consume chocolate on a hot summer day. The girls and I love love love them. They are like eating a popscile and a big bowl of chocolate pudding all rolled into one.

Fudge Pop Recipe

This recipe is heavily inspired by (read pretty much lifted from) Matt Aramendariz’s On A Stick!

1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, chocolate, and 1/4 cup of the milk until the chocolate is melted.

2. Add the rest of the milk and continue to stir until the mixture thickens (about 5-10 minutes).

3. Remove the saucepan from heat and allow the mixture to cool for a minute or two. Add the vanilla and butter and stir well.

4. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds (use as directed) or small (5-ounce) wax-coated cups. If you’re using cups, fill 3/4 of the way and cover the top with plastic wrap. Puncture the plastic wrap with a popsicle stick and insert the stick into the chocolate mixture all the way down to the bottom of the cup. Place on a level surface in your freezer for four hours or overnight.

5. To serve, simply tear and peel the cup off of the pop. If you’re using popsicle molds, run them under warm water for a bit in order to loosen the mold.

Yield: 4 – 5 pops
Prep-time: 15 minutes (and another 4 hours in the freezer)

Print Print