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.

I have to be honest and tell you that really the only reason this blog is still up and running is because I refer to it rather often. If Fix Me A Snack disappeared I’d be pretty pissed over all the recipes I’d lose. If I was smart, I’d print some of the important ones out. But I haven’t gotten around to it.

After doing this for more than a few years, it’s pretty clear that I’m not going to be the next Food Network Star. I’m proficent in the kitchen, but there’s nothing terribly ground-breaking going on here. So why do I blog? The only reason I can see is that it makes me a better cook. It keeps me wondering about healthy snacks and healthy food in general for my family. Other than that I don’t get much out of it. I’m kind of down on social media these days. I have no blogging friends. Comments on my posts are minimal (wah). I don’t make any money and don’t have the will to improve my SEO or the compulsion to share intimate details of my life along with millions of photos.

But it’s a recipe like this that will keep the blog alive. I will be referring to this one for years to come just like I did with its predecessor, Almond Butter Balls. My kids love it. The inspiration for the recipe comes, in part, from Food Doodles’ No Bake Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies. It’s kind of like the two recipes were combined.

Peanut Butter Balls Recipe

1 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup crispy rice cereal

Place the dates and peanuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for about 60 seconds. Add the honey, vanilla, peanut butter, and salt. Pulse for another 20-30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the cereal and mix well. Take about one tablespoon of the mixture at a time and roll it into a ball. Serve or store in the freezer in an airtight container.

Yield: 22 balls
Prep-time: 15 minutes

When we rolled out of bed this morning the outdoor thermometer told us that it was -1 degrees. Minus 1. Having lived  in Connecticut for a while, I’m always a little shocked when it actually gets cold in January. We’ve had some warm spells and it was looking like we might have another mild winter. But apparently it was not meant to be. I am slightly comforted by the snowman recently built by my six year old.

Today was not a day to serve up the usual crudities after school. Today we are having soup for dinner while sitting as close to the wood stove as possible. Anything other than a warm snack was not an option. So I decided to put some leftover baked potatoes to use.

I’ve posted a  potato skins recipe before. But I’ve since been educated by the likes of America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook and Simply Recipes. These are better. They could be made in advance too and the glorious melting of the cheese could be saved for the last minute.

Potato Skins Recipe

This healthy (ha!) baked potato skin recipe is as good as its restaurant counterpart because of the crispy cheese. While your sprinkling the cheese on the potatoes to bake, don’t be sad if a big clump misses a potato. That’s the best part.

4 medium leftover baked potatoes
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cups grated cheese such as mozzarella, cheddar, and/or parmesan
Fresh chives, for garnish

Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop out the majority of the inside of the potato. Set the potato insides aside for another use. Cut the potatoes up into child-sized pieces.

Arrange the potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a pastry brush to douse the potatoes with the melted butter. Bake the potatoes for 10 minutes or until they have browned on the edges. Sprinkle the cheese over the potatoes and bake them for another 5 – 10 minutes or until the cheese is properly melted.

Yield: serves 3-4 as a hearty snack
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 20 minutes

 

Meet our new favorite way to eat oatmeal. I really like it with some chopped pecans on top. The kids prefer it without.

Apple Pie Oatmeal Recipe

This is a perfect not-too-sweet and healthy way to start your family’s day. You can use maple sugar instead of brown sugar if you have it.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large or 2 small apples, peeled and cored
2 tablespoons brown sugar, not packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch salt
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 3/4 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Chop up the apples and cook them until they start to get soft. Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and cook for another minute and stir well.

Add the oats and water and cook on medium low heat until thick, stirring occasionally. It should take about ten minutes for the oats to thicken. Stir in the vanilla and serve. Top with chopped toasted pecans if you wish.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Prep-time: 15 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.

Here’s a snack that the kids and I can’t say ‘no’ to lately. Even the peanut butter hater in my household is a big fan. It’s the best I’m-craving-chocolate-but-I actually-want-to-put-some-real-food-in-my-body kind of snack there is.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

2 overripe bananas, peeled
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Put it all in a blender and whiz until smooth. Makes 2 cups.

We saw some lightening bugs flying around last night. This morning I spied a couple of them hitched to each other on the window. It feels like late spring has skipped directly into summer around here. If you’re like me and still have some frozen fruit you put up last summer that needs to get used up, look no further. Compote is the way to go.

Rhubarb Black Raspberry Compote Recipe

3 cups chopped frozen rhubarb
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups frozen black raspberries
1/4 cup Cointreau

Place rhubarb and sugar in a medium pan and cook over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes until the rhubarb is thawed. Add raspberries and stir for 3 minutes until thawed.

Remove from heat and stir in Cointreau. Serve warm over vanilla ice cream or cool with yogurt. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Yield: 2 cups
Prep-time: 10 minutes

Thank goodness I write a food blog or I never would have taken the leap and bought a little container of maple sugar for what seemed like way too much money. But for you, my dear readers, I forked over the $4.00 and got busy making some maple kettle corn.

We picked up the sugar at the Hebron Maple Festival after we sampled maple ice cream, frothy maple milk (yum!), and maple cotton candy. The line for the maple kettle corn was too long. A long line is always a good sign. But at that point we’d eaten so much we didn’t see the point of waiting it out even if maple kettle corn was a life-changing event. So I went about making some a couple days later with my trusty maple sugar.

Maple Kettle Corn Recipe

Kettle corn made with maple sugar is more prone to burn than regular kettle corn. So don’t go anywhere while you’re making it. Get all the ingredients ready ahead of time while your pot is heating. Things can move quickly, but the pay off is worth it. Imagine crunchy-salty-sweet goodness with undertones of molasses. Or is it caramel? I’m not sure, but it’s definitely tasty.

1/4 cup canola or safflower oil
3/4 cup popcorn
2 tablespoons maple sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat a large non-stick pot over medium high heat. When it is nice and warm, add the oil, popcorn, and sugar. Stir well to make sure that the sugar is well distributed. Place the lid on the pot. Shake the pot with increasing frequency once the popping begins to make sure that the corn and sugar do not burn.

After a few minutes, the popping should subside. Remove the pot from the burner (a little too early is better than too late) and stir the popcorn with a wooden spoon while you sprinkle on the salt. Stir a few more times to make sure none of the sugar burns on the bottom of the pot.

Serve immediately or store for up to a couple days in an airtight container. Be sure to give the popcorn a little extra cooling time if you’re serving youngsters. The sugar bits can be very hot.

Yield: 10 cups – serves 3 -4
Prep-time: 10 minutes

Note: My kids didn’t start eating popcorn until they were three years old. Make sure you’re up to date on current recommendations as far as choking hazards and feeding before serving this snack to children.

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