snack

Kale Chips

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This may be the hippy-est thing I’ve ever said, but I love me some Kale Chips! Take a bunch of Kale (or two) and dry them out in your oven for crispy, delicious, and addicting healthy treats. When you make this, bake as much Kale you have time for. They cook down more than anything else you will ever bake. It’s like sautéing spinach. So, if it’s a rainy afternoon with hours to kill, do a number of bunches and keep them in zip lock bags, then re-toast to eat as snacks throughout the week. This is time consuming, but EASY, and definitely worth it.

Easy peasy!

Ingredients

1 bunch Kale (1 bunch as a snack per every 2 people is a good rule of thumb)

1 TBSP fresh lemon juice, divided

1 tsp Cayenne, divided

1 TBSP olive oil, divided

Kosher or Sea salt to taste

If you’ve got a convection oven use it. Preheat oven on convection to 280. If you’re using a regular oven, preheat it to 325. Rinse kale and cut the leafy part away from the stalk as best you can. You want large pieces because these suckers are going to contract more than Shrinky Dinks. Spread out your future chips on tea towels to dry a bit (you can do this long in advance to preheating the oven if you’d prefer to make them fresh later on). This will also give you an idea of how many batches you’ll have to do based on the size of leaves, cookie sheets, and oven size. This is important; the number of batches will of course be the way you’ll need to divide the lemon juice, salt, cayenne, and olive oil. If you’re good at eyeballing or winging it, do so!

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Scoop a cookie sheet’s worth of kale leaves (about 12-20) into a bowl and sprinkle with fresh lemon juice (I would just squeeze a half of a lemon through my fingers each time), a pinch of cayenne, enough olive oil to lightly coat most without being overly greasy, and a sprinkling of kosher or sea salt. Toss with tongs or hands. Place kale in an individual layer on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Immediately rinse your hands of any cayenne residue once you’ve got your kale placed. Bake for about 12-14 minutes in convection or 23-27 minutes on a regular oven setting. Some edges may brown; that’s absolutely fine. Place crisped leaves on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Continue baking in as many batches as needed. You can store in ziploc bags for up to a week and retoast whenever needed.

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Homemade Fruit Roll-Ups

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I like snacking. I like fruit. And I hate spending money.

At the tail end of the season (now) strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are hanging out in your grocery produce section at clearance level prices. With a dash of lemon, a pinch of sugar, and some dry heat, those peaked berries can reach their full potential.

And, yes, you can make this with you kids. I don’t have kids. It’s a recession, pay hasn’t nearly caught up with inflation, and there’s no way in hell I can afford spawn. So, I’m making fruit snacks for me and me alone.

Homemade Fruit Leather/Rollups

4 cups fruit, roughly chopped. I used a mix of berries, but you can also use apple and pear. If using apples and pear, be sure to peal them and omit the orange marmalade and vinegar.

3 TBSP water

1 TBSP balsamic vinegar (Optional, but it intensifies the flavor of the berries. If you leave this out use an extra TBSP of water or substitute with a TBSP of orange juice.)

2 – 3 TBSP sugar. I’m into flavor, not “sweet”. As the fruit dries their natural sugar is going to intensify, so add what you think is best, taste your fruit mixture prior to drying it, and add sugar as necessary.

1 1/2 TBSP orange marmalade

1 TBSP lemon juice

1 TBSP freshly chopped mint.

If you don’t have a dehydrator (I don’t) preheat your oven to 125-150. My oven starts at 200 with a “Warm” setting just beneath it. I set it to “Warm” and stuck a spoon in the door to keep the oven cracked. Your not cooking the fruit mixture; you just want to dry it out. In a sauce pan mix the fruit, water, and balsamic if using over medium high heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the berries soften significantly and thicken slightly. Turn off the heat. Add the marmalade and sugar, mixing until incorporated. Add the mint and blend the entire mixture in a food processor or with an immersion hand blender until mostly smooth. Cover a cookie sheet in wax paper or plastic wrap. I wanted a thicker fruit leather so I covered a large Pyrex dish in plastic wrap. If you want to roll them up for lunches, use a cookie sheet. You’ll be able to roll up the fruit leather with wax or parchment paper to snack on later and what kid wouldn’t think that it’s totally awesome to have a fruit rollup at lunch time that they themselves made?! Pour the fruit mixture into the cookie sheet or pan using a spatula to make sure it’s even. Your mixture should be 1/4-1/2 inches thick.

Place on the top shelf of your oven and forget about it. It’s going to have to dry out for at least 6 hours, but it will probably take closer to 8-12 hours. You’ll know when it’s done because the top won’t be sticky. Let cool and the cut (it was easier with scissors than with a knife) into the size you’d like you snacks to be. The edges may be a little crispy; just cut those off and sprinkle over a salad later. You can roll them up with wax paper to snack on throughout the week. Next time I make these I’m going to substitute the water with a red wine. If anyone does this, let me know how it turns out.

Poached Eggs Easy like Sunday Morn’

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Perfect Poached eggs every time are super easy. Granted, they can be a little messy, there’s no longer a reason to fear making an egg to top your sauteed asparagus or to have with Hollendaise. Me? I eat it a little simpler with a piece of toast and slice of proscuitto.

We’re looking at steps here more then a “recipe”.

Take a skillet – that’s right, leave your pot in the cupboard as it has no place in poaching an egg. I used an 8inch pan. I filled it almost to the bring with water, leaving only about a 1/2 inch around the edge. I placed it on the stove, added 4 Tbsp or so of white vinegar. I do this by eye. Any where from a few tablespoons to a quarter cup is fine, but very necessary. It’s not going to alter the taste of your egg…though it may make your house smell slightly pungent. Then crank that burner up and get that water boiling.

While waiting for the water to start rolling, crack your egg into a small handled mug. This makes it easier to slide that little baby into the water without the whites freaking out and flying away.

Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat. You heard me. Turn. It. Off. Get the lips of the mug with your egg in it as close to the water as safely possible and gently pour the egg into the water. Cover and set your timer for 4 minutes. Once that timer goes off, remove your egg from the water with a slotted spoon and strain on a paper towel or stop the cooking by placing it in an ice bath. Once ready to eat, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a little dried parsley.

You can do up to 4 eggs in the pan at once if need be, but remember to adjust your water for displacement. When I remove my egg, I strain it on a paper towel for a minute before making a plate and digging in. You can adjust the doneness of your egg by cooking as little as three minutes to as many as five. You can also halt the cooking by removing your poached egg from the hot water and dropping it into an ice bath, which you can keep in your fridge for future eating for up to 5 days. Whether served on a steak, over sauteed or steamed veggies, or just a la cart like my breakfast, there’s always room for a poached egg. And, just in case you were wondering, a poached egg is a mere two points on Weight Watchers. So go ahead, eat four.

Freakin’ delicious – and classy, too!

Rice Croquettes

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This is an old Depression Era throwback. It’s often the things we ate out of necessity that we cling to as comfort food. My grandmother, “Nonni”, would fry up everything if she had oil going. Left over rice never went to waste in the form of rice croquettes.

There’s no major science to this recipe. It’s an excellent excuse to make something fried if you have leftover rice from dinner or you can make it as a great appetizer on a drizzly evening. For this recipe I used:

3 cups over-cooked rice (see below)

3 TBSP finely grated NY sharp cheddar (I don’t believe in orange cheese)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

2 tsp garlic powder

1 egg

2 TBSP milk

Boil the crap out of the rice. Keep an eye on it, let it absorb all the extra water, and stir, stir, stir. You want the rice very tender. Once the rice has boiled about ten minutes past it’s normal done time, take it off the heat and let it cool for at least 10 – 15 minutes. Mix together all the ingredients in no particular order until everything is well combined, make sure the egg is really blended into the rice mixture.

Bring 1-2 inches of vegetable or peanut oil up to 310-325 degrees in a sauce pan over high heat. While you’re waiting for the oil to reach the proper temperature, form your rice mixture into ovals about inch thick and 2-3 inches long. This mixture should make about 12. Use a small bowl of clean water to help everything from sticking to your hands, though it is a bit of a messy process. The ovals will be delicate; shape them as best you can.

Once the oil is heated carefully drop the rice croquettes into the oil. I am comfortable doing this carefully and slowly with my hands, as practice and experience has taught me how to do this without getting burned. If you’re at all nervous about dropping these delicate bites into the hot oil, place them on a spatula and then gently roll them of that into the oil using a spoon.

Fry the croquettes for 3-4 minutes or until they are golden brown on one side. Then gently turn them using two forks for support and brown the other side for an additional 3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and parsley once they’re out of the pan.

Once you get making them down-pat, you can try stuffing them with hunks of cheese, prosciutto, or hot peppers. Use different spices in the mix based on your mood, anything goes with these really. With this recipe I recommend serving them as is or with a lemony, honey aioli. Hell, even honey mustard works well if a dipping sauce is needed. As a kid I loved them plain or with a little bit of fresh lemon squeezed over them. Delicious, simple comfort food made from leftovers from a time of an almost equally bad economy.

I’d Love Something Fried, Thanks for Asking!

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Me an’ zucchini are like this.

We work well together and always have. I respect Zucchini’s freshness, beautiful color, versatility, and moisture content. And Zucchini respects that I eat him all the time.

I first met Zucchini when I was a child and he was nothing but a deep fried stick. We knew almost instantly that our love affair would be anything, but brief. Growing up in an Italian household, Zucchini was always grown in backyards and used in abundance in everything from snacks, salads, sautes, and sauces. Naturally as I child, my favorite of his forms was when he was crispy and fried, but as I grew up I found my tastes and needs changing. The fried sticks no longer worked for me when I craved him fried; thick crusts and undercooked vegetable were a turn off, I needed layers of flavor that aided only in enhancing the natural flavor of the deep green squash.

Ever understand Zucchini was happy to accommodate.

As an adult I’ve settled – for the time being – on zucchini fritters. A pinch of red pepper flakes and a hint of sweet sauteed onion adds new depth to fresh flavor of the grated, drained zucchini.

I used:

2 zucchinis

1/2 yellow onion

1 egg, beaten

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 flour

2 TBSP panko bread crumbs

2 TBSP fresh chopped parsley

I shredded the Zucchini with a regular cheese grater, tossed it with a 1/4 tsp salt, and placed the zucchini in a colander to drain for 10 minutes or so. While I was waiting for it to give up its excess water, I finely chopped 1/2 an onion and sauteed it over medium heat in 1/2 tbsp butter, 1/2 TBSP olive oil, and 1/2 tsp salt, until the onion was translucent and just beginning to brown. The bit of butter adds a little richness to the sweet onion while the olive oil keeps the butter from burning while sauteing.

In a large bowl I mixed together the egg, cheese, flour, panko, red pepper, and 1 TBSP of the parsley. The mixture was very thick. I then squeezed out any excess liquid from the zucchini and added it to the mixing bowl. Just between straining and then squeezing, I got over a 1/4 cup and 1 TBSP of bright green liquid from the Zucc. Again, the mixture is very thick so I found ti easiest to mix everything with my hands.

I love the flavor of olive oil, but when it comes to frying – even pan frying as these fritters are – I find it to just be too heavy. In a medium skillet over a medium high flame, I heated 3 TBSP of vegetable oil. Once the oil moved freely around the bottom of the pan, but wasn’t smoking, I placed heaping tablespoon dollops of the zucchini mixture into the pan and flattened each to about 1/4 inch thick. They took 5-6 minutes, about 2-3 minutes per side, to brown nicely. The key was getting them to cook through, crisp, and yet not linger in the oil so long that the fritters absorbed it rather than cooked in it.

Once golden, I placed the fritters on a plate with a paper towel to drain, sprinkling each with salt while it was still hot.

Served with merely a sprinkling of lemon juice, these zucchini fritters were the perfect lunch, though not necessarily the healthiest, and would make an excellent appetizer.

Don’t Get Punched in the Face While Flying

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a poem by Kate Couch

There is no dignity in travel,

And I don’t pretend to like you.

We are in this thing together, though,

So, please don’t smell like dog poo.

Don’t eat what stinks and wear clean clothes,

I’ll do the same, it’s true.

We don’t have to be friends, but you should know

Your smell will make others hate you.

Don’t cut in line like you’re entitled.

A simple “Please” will let you pass.

But I’ll be the one to cut a jerk,

If you jump in front, you ass.

If I can hear your music,

Even though it’s headphones that you wear,

You’re being rude and no one likes you,

So turn it down.

(No, it doesn’t rhyme and I don’t care.)

I say hello, but I don’t like to chat,

As flying makes me scared.

Don’t depend on others for entertainment,

And keep your own kids ensnared.

My space is tiny, but it’s all I have,

Just the same as you.

Don’t take more room like you own the place,

I’ll get slappy if you do.

Speaking of space, the overhead bins,

Are labeled per each seat.

If you can’t fit your stuff in yours,

Tell the first flight attendant you meet.

‘Cause if you take theirs, then they’ll take his,

And down the row it goes.

Over packing will delay our flight

And your dead body we’ll have to decompose.

Be kind to others when you fly,

And I’m happy to do the same.

Don’t pretend you’re the only inconvenienced one,

It’s just a flight, don’t make it War Games.

 

I’m not particularly religious, but I believe the whole “Do unto others…” concept is fantastic.

 Travelocity’s 2009 Rude Traveler Poll

Travelocity