Salami on Rye

We’re having a cram-every-darn-thing-in-we’ve-been-wanting-to-get-out-and-do Spring Break. Seriously, why does school have to take up so much of the day?? There’s no way I’m dragging my kids to places like Old Sturbridge Village on the weekend. I’m a stay-at-home suburban Connecticut mom and this means three things:

  1. I shop only during off-hours and expect ample aisle space while doing so.
  2. I don’t do tourist attractions during seasonal peaks.
  3. I expect staff to be extremely helpful and cheerful. (I used to be freaked out by this, but it’s just the way things are where I live and I’ve gotten used to it surprisingly quickly.)

 

Luckily, it was raining a bit the other day when we decided to head to Old Sturbridge Village which kept the crowds away. Given how well it went, I predict most of my children’s memories of family excursions will be set against a damp and cloudy day.

I made mini salami sandwiches on rye buns so we would have something to munch on while soaking up all that New England history. I made the rye buns from scratch; an impulse baking experiment inspired by the editor’s letter in the latest issue of Saveur. The entire issue is devoted to The Sandwich and is fantastic.

The editor’s mother used to make him salami sandwiches on rye with butter and ground pepper. It is a simple yet brillant sandwich, just like he said. Perfect hearty fare for a day of running around and exploring a new time and place.

Chicks!

Well, we were supposed to be waiting until next year…

But you know how that goes. Hopefully, I’ll have more willpower when it comes to getting a dog. 

We have six Rhode Island Red chicks who are growing like wild fire. Here they are (above) at one week old fresh from the Tractor Supply Store.

And here they are at two weeks (above). Notice the wing and tail feathers already coming in!

Here are the reference books I’m using as guides.

But I still have very little idea what I’m doing. Anyone know of a rad website/blog that details raising chicks?? Right now I’m wondering how long they are going to be happy in a big box. They’re growing so quickly I just can’t picture them fitting in it a couple weeks from now.

But, luckily, so far, so good. If you’re thinking of raising some chicks, be warned that they produce a great deal of poop! It’s giving me flash backs to the days my kids were in diapers. I could share other details, but I’m such a novice I think I’ll just keep quiet for now. Fingers crossed.

Morse’s Mustard Pickles

Not too long ago, we found ourselves in Portland, Maine stuffing our faces and dabbling in magnetic poetry at Duckfat. The food was good enough to keep me in my seat even though Rabelais is less than 100 yards away (which is saying a lot).

The pickles served alongside the sandwiches at Duckfat were a big hit with my husband and eldest daughter. Our waitress was kind enough to tell us that they were Morse’s Mustard Pickles and that we could buy them at the Public Market in Monument Square. Here’s what’s left of the quart that we picked up. Apparently, another trip up north will be necessary in the near future.

I couldn’t handle this pickle at first. Calling it sour is an understatement. But the last time I tasted it I think my tastebuds finally tapped into their beauty. It all starts with an eluring sweetness, quickly followed by a bolt of vinegar. And finally the slow burn of mustard finishes things off. It’s a bit of a roller coaster for your tastebuds. But I was definitely smiling when it was done.

Cheese Crackers

I’m pretty sure that if it wasn’t for this blog and the whole healthy family snack thing that I’m supposed to be investigating, I wouldn’t be making crackers at all. But this is definitely one of those times that the genius of blogging shines through. I love these crackers.

Despite what you may think, these are pretty darn easy to make. The food processor makes blending all the ingredients a snap. The only tricky part is rolling out the dough after it’s had some time to relax in the refrigerator. But if you’re willing to take on that little challenge, you could have a batch of warm cheesy crackers fresh out of the oven. So completely worth it in my book.

I’ve gradually made a some relatively significant changes to the original recipe I posted a year ago. Things have changed enough that I’m thinking it’s about time I shared how I’m baking up cheese crackers these days.

Cheese Crackers Recipe

I highly recommend using a silicone baking mat for cracker-making. From what I gather, parchment paper will work. But the silicone baking mat is sturdier and is a lot less inclined to slide all over the counter while you’re rolling out the dough.

This recipe is easily doubled. My standard-size Cuisinart food processor seems a little cramped, but turns out a perfectly good dough with a double recipe. But unless you have a double oven, remember you’re looking at two rounds of cracker babysitting by the oven window.

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash ground pepper
3 ounces coarsely grated orange sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
4 tablespoons cold butter, sliced into chunks
3 – 4 tablespoons water

Place the flours, cornmeal, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds. Add the cheeses and pulse for 10-15 seconds.

Distribute the butter over the top of the flour mixture. Run the processor for 10 seconds or until the butter is mostly incorporated and the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Occasional larger chunks of butter are more than okay.

With the processor running, add the water one tablespoon at a time through the feed tube. Continue to run the processor until the dough starts to lightly clump up or form into a ball (about 30 – 60 seconds).

If you take a bit of the dough out of the processor and give it a squeeze, if it looks like this, you’re all set:

Give it a squeeze

If it doesn’t add a little more water and pulse until it does.

Remove the dough from the processor. Divide it in two and form into flattened rectangles and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place the rectangles in the refrigerator for at least one hour or overnight. If you leave them in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, let the dough sit out on the counter for 10 minutes or so to soften.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove plastic wrap and place rectangle in the middle of a non-stick baking mat. Roll the dough out evenly with a wooden rolling pin until it covers almost the entire (11 x 16-inch) mat. This takes a little muscle, but gets easier as the dough warms up. I find it impossible to roll the dough out completely evenly. But the closer you get it, the easier they will be to bake.

Cut the dough into 1″ squares with a straight edge, lattice cutter, or pizza wheel. Move the baking mat  onto a baking sheet. (The squares do not need to be spread apart as they shrink and puff up during baking and are easily broken apart afterwards if they do not separate on their own.)

Bake for approximately 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the dough, or until the bottoms of crackers are puffy and golden. Start checking on them often after 15 minutes. The crackers on the outer edge may brown more quickly. I’ve been known to remove some of the crackers from the baking sheet in order to save them from burning and put the rest back in the oven for a few more minutes. Check the bottom of the crackers to gauge how close they are to being done. They should be golden crispy perfection. They will crisp up a bit when they cool, but not much.

Transfer the crackers to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or freeze.

Yield: 100 crackers
Prep-time: 30 minutes
Inactive prep-time: 1 hour to overnight
Bake-time: 20 minutes

Barbecue Chicken Quesadilla

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The guy at California Pizza Kitchen who came up with the Barbecue Chicken Pizza should really get a medal acknowledging the greatness of his achievment. When my husband replicates the pizza it brings me great joy. But awhile ago I had to cheat and make this quesadilla because I couldn’t wait to get my fix.[/donotprint]

And miracle of miracles, the kids liked them when I made them for dinner the other night. It was a rare moment. We were all eating the same food which had been inspired by my cravings. And we all enjoyed it. Amen and hallelujah!

Barbecue Chicken Quesadilla Recipe

2 10-inch flour tortillas
1/2 cup cooked chicken, shredded
1 handful coarsely grated Monterrey jack cheese
3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon purple onion, minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Place one tortilla in a skillet over medium heat. Evenly distribute chicken and barbecue sauce on the tortilla. Sprinkle on the cheese and then the onion and cilantro. Top with the second tortilla. Cook for 3 -5 minutes or until the tortilla starts to brown. Flip and cook the other side for a few more minutes. Transfer the quesadilla to a cutting board. Allow to cool for a couple minutes. Slice into quarters or sixths. Serve.

Yield: 4-6 wedges
Prep-time: 15 minutes

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Chunky Guacamole

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It’s a tragic day at the Rowland household. Our eldest decided to taste the guacamole. She was hungry and desperate and tired of waiting for her mother to finish taking photos. She went for it.

“Yum!” she said, “I like guacamole!”

My heart sank. My husband and I have enjoyed exclusive access to the the guacamole bowl for several years now. Apparently, those days are over.

She’s lucky I love her so much. Sigh.[/donotprint]

Chunky Guacamole Recipe

I insist, the avocado must be Haas, preferably ripe but not too ripe. And the lime juice must be from a real lime. I’m a big fan of convience, but quality fresh ingredients make a big difference in this recipe. 

2 ripe Haas avocados
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 – 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from one half of a lime

Slice the avocados in half. Discard the pits and remove the flesh from the skins. Place the flesh in a small mixing bowl. Add the garlic, cumin, salt, cilantro,and lime juice. Mash it all up with a fork. Serve with tortilla chips.

Store any leftovers (!?) in an airtight container in the refrigerator placing a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the guacamole in order to prevent browning.

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

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Hard Boiled Quail Eggs

In my dream world, I’m busying planning a fabulous party to celebrate the coming of Spring. Actually, I’d be happy if I just bought some flowers, had the girls make a few crafts, and made a nice lunch. But more than likely, none of it will happen.

The girls spent a great deal of time last weekend celebrating in their own way by making trouble in streams of ice cold water and soaking their clothes with mud. Something was in the air that no party could ever touch. There was bare ground to run on. Coats were cast off and immediately forgotten. Canada geese honked. Life was good.

Then of course it snowed a bit this morning. But it didn’t stick! Being a New Englander teaches you so much about keeping hope alive.

Here’s a snack to celebrate the coming of Spring. A quail egg. It’s not too big or boastful, but it doesn’t have to be because it’s so darn cute. I picked these up at an Asian grocery on a busy Saturday morning for only a few dollars. To me, they taste the same as chicken eggs. With a few grains of coarse salt, they are a perfect healthy and tasty snack.

I also have some green snacks in the archives that might interest you like Smashed Avocado Toast, Mint Yogurt, Avocado and Tomato FaceRoasted Tomatillo Salsa and good ol’ Guacamole. Also, don’t forget my new favorite Joy the Baker’s Kale, Spinach and Pear Smoothie.

How to Hard-boil Quail Eggs 

Fill a saucepan with enough water to cover the eggs and an inch more. Place the saucepan on a burner over high heat. Carefully place the eggs in the water. Don’t crowd them.

Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil. As soon as the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat. Leave the pan covered on the burner for five minutes.

Immerse the eggs in cold water, or better yet an ice bath, to stop the cooking process. When they are cool, crack the shell by tapping it on a hard surface and peel. The membrane between the shell and the white is a bit thicker than chicken eggs, but not too much so. Serve with salt to taste. Store leftover peeled eggs in cold water in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Prep-time: 5 minutes
Cook-time: 5 minutes

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S’more Bites

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News Flash: Fix Me A Snack made it into Babble’s list of Top 100 Mom Food Blogs for 2011. Fix Me A Snack is  ranked at #51! Seeing Fix Me A Snack in a list along with so many big shots whom I truly admire is a huge honor. A big Thank You to Babble and all my dear readers.

Now let’s get back to snackin’.

The ingredient list in this S’more Bites recipe is a bit schizophrenic, I know.  Brown rice syrup and miniature marshmallows may seem like odd bedfellows. But the truth is that these s’more bites are supremely satisfying and chocolaty without being too sweet. Oh, and unsurprisingly, the kids loooove them.[/donotprint]

S’more Bites Recipe

If you don’t have brown rice syrup, you can replace it with Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Honey is another possibility, but I haven’t tried it because it is sweeter than brown rice syrup and has a more powerful flavor.

The consistency of the chocolate mixture depends entirely on the amount of oil that gets thrown in along with the nut butter. Even when I’m using the same jar of almond butter, the results vary depending on whether I’m at the beginning (lots of oil) or end (getting dry) of the jar. Use the wheat germ to create a consistency easiest to work with. Your hands will get a little greasy perhaps, but the mixture should be easy to roll into balls and not too sticky.

5 store-bought graham crackers, broken up into large chunks
1/3 cup almond or peanut or sunflower butter
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
1 – 3 tablespoons wheat germ
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup or Lyle’s Golden Syrup
20 miniature marshmallows

Put the graham crackers into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the processor for about 30 seconds or until the crackers are broken into fine crumbs. Add the almond butter, chocolate syrup, 1 tablespoon of  the wheat germ, and brown rice syrup to the bowl of the processor. Pulse for 10-20 seconds or until the mixture starts to come together into large crumbles.

Take a bit of the mixture in your hands and test to see if it will roll nicely into a ball. If it’s too wet, add more wheat germ a tablespoon at a time. If it’s too dry, add something moist like almond oil, chocolate syrup or brown rice syrup one tablespoon at a time. Run the processor for a few seconds after each addition to incorporate. 

Take pieces of the chocolate mixture a heaping teaspoon at a time. Knead it a bit and flatten it in the center of your palm. Place a marshmallow in the center and coax the chocolate mixture around the marshmallow with your fingertips. Once the marshmallow is covered up, round out the ball by rolling it gently. Serve or store in an airtight container. These freeze beautifully.

Yield: 20 bites
Prep-time: 20 minutes

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