Fix Me A Snack

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

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 other day my 5-year-old started an unsolicited brainstorming session concerning what she would be having for snack that afternoon.

“Apples with… salt mama! Ha! Let’s make that!” she said jokingly. And I said, “I think that’s actually something people do eat sometimes. Wanna try it?”

And, of course, she said “YES!” So I bought out a tiny bowl with some kosher salt and viola!

She liked it. She loves salt almost as much as she loves sugar. My other kid was not a fan though. Can’t win ‘em all. My husband thinks I’m a loser for publishing this since he’s been “eating apples like that for years“. But I’d never heard of it until I met him.

In other news…

We have sprouts. Not just any sprouts either. This is the precious Lemon Basil, the herb to end all herbs. It’s the whole reason I’m starting everything from seed. I couldn’t find it at my local nurseries last year. I hope it’s a strong little plant because I have no idea what I’m doing.

The Big Rainbow tomato sprouts emerged today too. These will produce giant yellow heirloom tomatoes with red stripes. I’m salivating as I type this. Get crackin’ little plant!

In case you hadn’t noticed I’m a little giddy over the coming of spring. I can’t help it. There’s no one happier than a New Englander when spring finally arrives.

Also, in case you were wondering, the chicks are doing their best to take over the basement.

You know it’s time to move them out into larger quarters in the garage when they jump right out of the bin and roost proudly on the edge. I’m already afraid this one is a rooster because she is so brazen and ready to take on the world.

Oh, and one more thing…

If you’re looking for the best Double Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe ever, I’ve got a lead for you. This blessed cookie was made from a recipe in Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan. It’s brilliant. It’s more of a brownie than a cookie. I think I’m going to need to own a copy of the book soon because the recipe for Swedish Oatmeal Hardtack is also excellent. And the recipe/tutorial devoted to pie crust is one of the best I’ve seen.

 

Meet my ‘it’ snack of the moment. It’s crunchy. It’s simple and easy to prepare. It’s salty and sweet. And last but not least, there’s the chocolate! We all love these little nuts. I have no idea why oh why it’s taken me so long to pull this together. If I had come up with it three years ago when I started thinking about healthier kid snacks, I might have considered the case closed and never started this blog of mine.

Salted Chocolate Almonds Recipe

This recipe is easily doubled. It would also probably be insanely good with smoked salt if you happen to have any on hand. If you don’t have almonds, use cashews!

1 cup roasted unsalted almonds
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
1/2 teaspoon (give or take – more is more) kosher salt

Melt the chocolate chips gradually in a double boiler or in the microwave. If using the microwave, proceed with caution and set the power level to 20% for a minute at a time. After a few minutes, the chips should not appear melted, but should be soft enough to stir into a semi-smooth mass with a silicone/rubber spatula. Stir for a good thirty seconds or more. The warm bits of chocolate will gradually melt all of the firmer chips as the heat is redistributed. If you heat the chocolate too much, it will turn into a coarse chalky mass (from which it is impossible to recover). Melting it gently and keeping it away from moisture of any kind will allow the chocolate to keep its temper and be shiny when it cools.

Once the melted chocolate is ready, add the almonds to the bowl and stir to coat. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread the nuts into a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and allow to dry. This should take about ten minutes. Break apart any huge clusters of almonds and serve. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups
Prep-time: 15 minutes (including drying time)