Fix Me A Snack

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

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

 

A fight almost broke out in my kitchen this afternoon. After my kids spent half the day hidden away in their room eating Halloween candy, they pounced on a plate of perfectly roasted kale. We had to take the plate away so that the grown-ups could have a few.

I’ve finally figured out  the right amount of salt and how to avoid burning the little suckers. I know everyone else got into kale chips years ago. But I just couldn’t figure them out. I wanted to know what all the fuss was about and even posted a recipe back in 2010. But even then it seemed like kale chips were nothing more than a snack that super healthy people had talked themselves into. Kale is so chocked full of nutrition it’s hard not to eat some even when it is not at it’s best. But the kids will have none of it unless it tastes good. Kale chips to the rescue.

Like so many of the great snack foods, with kale chips it’s all about the salt. When they’re roasted properly, they’re crispy but they instantly melt in your mouth. There isn’t a ton of flavor unless you get a chip that’s still soggy. So again, it’s all about the salt.

Roasting the chips at a low temperature allows the kale to dry out evenly and avoids burning. Gone are the days of desperately stirring the kale around on the baking sheet trying to let those last few bits dry out before the other half starts to burn. Burnt kale chips are foul and should be outlawed. The extra time is takes to roast the kale at a lower temperature is well worth it.

Kale Chips Recipe

Curly kale is perfectly suited to kale chips. I prefer it greatly to dino/tuscan kale for this recipe. Ripping the leaves off of the stem quickly with your hands rather than removing the stem with a knife saves a lot of time. It takes me 10 minutes to get the kale in the oven, if not less.

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

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Wash each leaf of kale. Shake off  any excess water and rip each leaf off of the stem and into bite-sized pieces. Discard the stems and place the kale into a large bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the kale. Coat the kale with the oil using your hands to mix and gently massage the kale until the color starts to brighten and the leaves soften a tad. This only takes a minute. Sprinkle on the salt and mix well.

Spread the kale out over the two baking sheets and place in the top third and lower third of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.

Lower the oven’s temperature to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pull the baking sheet out of the oven and toss the kale with your hands to redistribute it. Rotate the trays turning them from front to back and switching the top sheet with the bottom sheet. Bake for approximately 15 more minutes or until they are crispy. Taste and sprinkle on more salt if necessary. Serve immediately.

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.

Don’t tell anyone, but did you know that people just give you new cookbooks when you’re a food blogger? And sometimes they even give you recipes to share. Even really good recipes. Take, for instance, these brilliant pinwheels from Parents Need To Eat Too by the lovely Ms. Debbie Koenig.

Oh, how I wish this cookbook existed when I was a new mum. I think my husband and I made quesadillas and spaghetti for many months. I vividly remember not being able to tackle any recipe that involved chopping of any sort until the baby was at least 6 months old. I’d read a recipe that called for peeling and chopping an onion and roll my eyes and mumble something like, “Yeah, like that’s ever going to happen.”

The author of Parents Need To Eat Too has been there and has amassed a stunning array of parent-friendly recipes that would have broken even me out of my quesadilla and take-out pizza rut. It includes exciting recipes for a variety one-handed meals such as these pinwheels, slow cooker delicacies, recipes broken down into stages so most of the work can be done during naps, as well as recipes that support breastfeeding.

If you’d like to win a copy of Parents Need To Eat Too, comment on this post and tell us how you keep yourself fed when you have a new babe in the house. I’ll pick a winner next Saturday, February 18th at 7pm EST using random.org.

Update 2-18-2012: And the winner is Christy! Thanks to everyone for your comments. 

Broccoli and Cheddar Pinwheels Recipe from Parents Need To Eat Too

1 pound prepared pizza dough, white or
whole wheat
2¹⁄₂ cups finely chopped broccoli, or one 10-ounce package of frozen chopped broccoli, defrosted and finely chopped
1 to 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line or grease a baking sheet.

1. Remove pizza dough from the refrigerator 30 minutes to 1 hour before you plan to use it.

2. Steam the broccoli until just tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Cool slightly, then combine broccoli with the Cheddar, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Roll or stretch the dough on a floured work surface into a large rectangle, about 10 x 14 inches. Don’t worry if you can’t get those exact measurements, but take care not to stretch the dough so thin it rips.

4. Spread the broccoli mixture over about three-quarters of the dough, leaving an uncoated portion at one short side. Begin to roll the dough from the short side covered with the broccoli spread, and keep rolling until you’ve got a nice, neat log of dough.

5. using a serrated knife or a pastry scraper, cut the log into 8 equal pinwheels. Carefully lay the pinwheels flat on the prepared baking sheet, and bake until crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes.

Yield: 8, easily doubled
Cooking time: 1 hour (20 minutes active)

My new favorite web site is bussongs.com because it has given us the lyrics to On Top of Spaghetti. How great is it to finally have a kid old enough to memorize my all-time favorite childhood song? I think I’ve got our summer plans all shored up now. Lots of running around and lots of signing. Loudly.

Agave Limeaide Recipe

Ice cubes
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons agave nectar

Throw four or five ice cubes in an 8-ounce cup. Pour the lime juice and water over the ice cubes and then add the agave nectar. Stir vigorously until the agave nectar is dissolved. Serve.

Yield: 1 cup
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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.

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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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.

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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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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I have no love for Kale Chips. But I know all the super healthy beautiful people out there are making them and getting healthier and more beautiful with every bite.

I have been munching on them all morning simply because there is a big pile sitting on the counter. My kids, however, are not big fans. My youngest helped me make them and happily tasted one. But a minute later she was at the bathroom sink rinsing out her mouth. My oldest tried them a couple hours later and enjoyed the crispy saltiness, but not the bitter aftertaste. My husband’s assessment was “they taste better than they smell.”

Regardless, these are worth a try if you have a sad and lonely bunch of wilted kale hiding out at the bottom of your crisper drawer like I did. I originally ran across a recipe at The Kitchn which points to a recipe at ChowMama.

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