Broc-o-bob

I’ve always been secretly fascinated by the oft discarded broccoli stem. It reminds me of asparagus. So I decided there has to be some potential there. And lately I get an extra rush out of making a snack out of leftovers or something that would normally be trashed.

Well, it turns out there is some potential. After a little steaming, the core of the broccoli stem is a tender shadow of the florets we normally consume. And more importantly, it is perfectly suited to being strung up with other vegetables on a bamboo skewer.

3 broccoli stems
3 medium whole carrots, peeled and tops cut off
Salt, if desired
3 – 4 radishes, sliced into 1/4-inch thick circles
1/3 cup Ranch dressing or other dip

With a large knife, remove the tough outer layer of skin on the broccoli stems. I did this by standing the stem on end (where the florets used to be) and carefully slicing downward from the base. The outer skin is a little less than 1/4-inch thick and slightly darker than the core.

Cut the peeled broccoli stems and carrots into one inch lengths. Transfer to a steaming basket. Place one to two inches of water in a pot (with salt, if desired) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Lower steam basket into pot and cover. Steam the broccoli and carrot for 5-7 minutes. Rinse in cold water and allow to cool completely or refrigerate.

When snack time arrives, provide bamboo skewers* to snackers and let them make their own. Serve with ranch dressing or Herbed Yogurt Dip.

*Note: I’m guessing bamboo skewers should not be put in the hands of most children under the age of 3, possibly 4. Adult supervision required. When in doubt, cut off the pointy tip. Although this can make it more difficult to assemble the kebob. A safer option might be lollipop sticks; pre-punch holes in the food and let the younger ones assemble on their own.

Yield: 6-8 kebobs
Prep-time: 15 minutes

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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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Avocado and Tomato Face

The cuteness came out of nowhere. I just wanted an unadulterated shot of avocado. But it turned into a healthy snack with some serious visual appeal. The kids ate it and enjoyed it, which was sort of big deal. Then I ate four more. Num!

The recipe below is approximate as everything depends on how thick you slice the bread, how big the bread is, how thick you slice the avocado, and so on. I’m not going to get into that level of detail. Eyeball it. I’m sure you’ll be fine.

10-12 slices of bread (preferably from a  french baguette)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 ripe avocado (preferably Haas)
3 grape tomatoes, sliced
Fresh cilantro
One wedge of lime

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the crostini: Prepare the bread by laying the slices out onto a baking sheet. Brush a bit of olive oil onto each slice with a pastry brush. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are golden and bread is crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Gently wash a small handful of cilantro. Remove the stems and set the nicer looking leaves on a paper towel to air dry. Wash the tomatoes and slice them. Set aside. Slice the avocado just prior to assembly. If it the slices sit too long they may brown.

For assembly: Place an avocado slice on the lower half of a crostini. Place two or three of the cilantro leaves on the top half. Set two tomato slices on top of the cilantro for the eyes. Squeeze a few drops lime juice over the top of the avocado and tomato. Serve immediately.

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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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Potato Skins

The absence of bacon in these vegetarian potato skins is offset a bit by the flavor of the smoked cheddar.

I’d need a nutritionist to do the math for me to say for sure, but there might be a nice little dose of Iron in this snack. Potatoes and their skins supposedly have a relatively high level of Iron (for a vegetable) and the Vitamin C in the broccoli might be enough to help boost the Iron’s absorption.

When all is said and done though, I just love potato skins. And even though there is broccoli in the mix, my three-year-old does too!

4 medium russet potatoes
1/2 cup grated smoked white cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated orange cheddar cheese
1/8 teaspoon chili powder (or more to taste)
4 broccoli florets, cooked and chopped (about 1/3 cup)
Salt to taste
Sour cream or greek-style yogurt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash and bake the potatoes for 40-60 minutes, depending on their size. When a knife inserted into a potato meets little resistance, they are done. Remove from oven and allow to cool until they are easy to handle. Leave the oven on.

Meanwhile, mix the cheeses, chili powder, and broccoli in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out the potato’s flesh leaving about 1/4 inch of the flesh attached to the skin. Cut each potato skin into halves or thirds depending on the size  of the potato and your preference. I made them on the smaller side in order to accommodate small hands.

Spread the potato skins out on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the skins. Bake at 400 degrees Farenhiet for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt if desired. Serve with sour cream or greek-style yogurt if desired.

Yield: 22 potato skins
Prep-time: 15 minutes
Bake-time: 50 minutes

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Homemade Ketchup

This recipe is especially for Life As A Mom’s Ultimate Veggie Recipe Swap. Thanks to Kid Appeal for the heads up.

This recipe is one I’ve minimally adapted from Laurel’s Kitchen. I”m not quite sure why my kids go for it, but they do. They love to help me make it. It’s quick and easy to stir. It makes me very happy to feed them something that actually qualifies as a vegetable instead of the usual glob of highly-processed sugar called “ketchup”.

1 12 ounce can tomato paste
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup maple syrup (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

Mix the tomato paste, vinegar, water, syrup (if desired), salt, oregano, cumin, nutmeg, pepper, and mustard powder in a small bowl. Transfer to a squeeze bottle or use an old ketchup bottle that has been thoroughly cleaned. Keeps for months in the refrigerator.

 Yield: 2 cups
Prep-time: 10 minutes

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Cheesey (Red Pepper) Ring Muffins

Have you ever tried to create your own muffin recipe ? Let me tell you that the ol’ ratio of 1 teaspoon of baking powder to 1 cup of flour has never worked for me.

I have gotten lucky when buttermilk is in the mix, for instance with my Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe. All you have to do there is figure out how much baking soda to use to balance out the acidity of the buttermilk. Easy (sort of).

For this recipe I finally broke down and looked up a recipe on the glorious Interweb. In swooped the Pioneer Woman with a Cheese Muffin recipe. I found these muffins to be perfectly leavened, but greasier than what I was going for. So I made some changes and here you go:

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Sweet Potato Quesadilla

Sweet Potato Quesadilla Recipe

For directions on how to cook a sweet potato in the microwave, see my recipe for Halloween Mush.

1/3 cup cooked sweet potato, no skin
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup grated monterey jack cheese, packed
2 8-inch flour tortillas
1/4 cup cranberry sauce (optional)

In a small bowl, mash and mix the potato and applesauce together with a fork. Spread mixture evenly on one of the tortillas. Sprinkle cheese over potato mixture. Top with the second tortilla.

Cook in a saute pan over medium heat for a few minutes on each side or until the underside begins to brown. Remove from pan and slice into 8 triangles. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Serve with cranberry sauce as a dip (if desired).

Yield: 8 triangles
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook 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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Cheesy Sweet Potato Balls

I used up some leftover Sweet Potato Fries to make these.

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½ cup cooked sweet potato (with skin)
1 cup cooked brown rice
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/3 cup cottage cheese
1 tablespoon wheat germ (optional)
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place sweet potato, rice, Monterey Jack cheese, cottage cheese, wheat germ and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 45 – 60 seconds or until smooth and a ball starts to form.

Roll sweet potato mixture into tablespoon-sized balls with your hands. Place balls on baking sheet and bake on the center rack of the oven for 15-17 minutes or until the bottoms are golden.

Allow balls to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes. Gently remove balls with thin metal spatula and serve. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Yield: 20 balls
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes

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