Monthly Archives: September 2012

Kale Chips

raw kale

Question: What food is rich in vitamins K, A, and C; is an excellent source of beta-carotene, has risk-lowering benefits for 5 different types of cancer, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and can be eaten with the enthusiasm of a stoner approaching a bowl of Nacho Cheese Doritos?

Answer: Kale chips. Who knew?

crispy kale ships

This is quite possibly the greatest snack ever and for so many reasons. Kale is unbelievably healthy yet when baked and crispy it takes on the personality of a potato chip i.e.  I don’t want to stop eating them. My husband and I ate an entire bunch of kale chips in one afternoon. When my 5 year old came into the kitchen as the kale was coming out of the oven and commented on how good it smelled. When I showed him the kale chips he took one look and would have nothing to do with them, too green I suppose. The nutritional qualities of kale are simply amazing

There are many varieties of kale to choose from but curly kale works best for making kale chips. It is absolutely essential that you use fresh kale and not the stuff from a bag. Supermarket bagged kale has a questionable shelf life, it will take on an acidic and unpleasant taste if you try to use it here. Washing and drying the kale may be the most time consuming part of the prep work since the curly leaves are really good at hanging on to drops of water. You want to make sure all the water is gone since you will need to toss it in olive oil.

To chop up a fresh bunch of kale, fold the leaf over and slice the thick stem away. Chop the remaining leaves in half. The kale will shrink up significantly when baked.

  • 1 bunch of fresh kale
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • garlic flakes
  • Preheat the oven to 375.

Remove the kale from the stems and chop the leaves into smaller pieces.  Rinse and dry and put in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil using tongs to squeeze as you toss so the leaves are thoroughly coated. Dash with salt and garlic and toss some more. Spread kale on a baking sheet* making sure none of the leaves are overlapping. Bake for 12 minutes making sure the leaves are crispy when they come out. Let cool and eat. And eat. And eat.

*You will either need to use 2 baking sheets or bake the kale in several batches.

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One-Armed Omlette

One cannot understate the value of a hearty snack when one is nursing a baby. When living with a baby on the boob, it becomes second nature to do any number of things with a single arm, the very least of which is feeding oneself while the little one gets their meal too.

Knives and forks have little place in the life of a nursing mom and her meals. That is why the One Armed Omlette makes so much sense, you can get your egg protein with veggies and eat it straight out of your hand. Think of them as little savory muffins with cheese and onion but without all the breadiness. Try adding  any herbs you happen to have in your kitchen. Dill, basil or thyme, for example, would blend really well with these simple ingredients.

Gluten free conversion: These little treats call for breadcrumbs, which can easily be converted to the gluten-free type. Try ground up gluten-free pretzels to make breadcrumbs.

Dairy-free conversion: try it without the cheese

2 eggs

2 medium zucchini, shredded

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

½ cup breadcrumbs

½ cup chopped onion

½ tsp dried basil

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400

Place the shredded zucchini in a clean cloth towel. Gather the towel into a bundle, hold it over the sink while you squeeze the zucchini bunch firmly to drain the excess water. Place the drained zucchini in a large bowl with all the other ingredients and blend together thoroughly with a spatula. Prepare a muffin pan with either paper liners or by using cooking spray. Fill about halfway. Bake for 20 minutes. Makes one dozen.

These will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 days. The can be frozen and re-heated on low.

This recipe was adapted from The Two Bite Club’s recipe for zucchini tots. I doubled the ingredients and  used a full sized muffin pan. Thanks Two Bite!

Breakfast Burrito

I don’t know about you but I get really hungry in the mornings. Around mid-morning I am ravenous and in need of a second breakfast since the first one probably consisted of cereal or instant oatmeal with my coffee. This breakfast burrito hits the spot and gives me energy to make it through whatever the rest of the morning has in store for me. Spit-up in my hair? Explosive diaper changes? Bring it on!

 

2 eggs beaten

1 flour tortilla or 2 corn tortillas*

salsa

1 oz Monterey jack cheese grated

¼ avocado cut into slices

canola or vegetable oil

Heat a large fry pan on medium heat. Put the tortilla in the pan and flip frequently, until it gets hot. Before it starts to burn, put the tortilla on a plate, sprinkle with cheese. Reduce the heated pan to medium low and add a little vegetable oil, enough to coat it. Add the beaten eggs and scramble. Put the scrambled eggs on the tortilla(s), top with salsa and avocado slices.

*Flour tortillas tend to be larger, burrito-sized but corn tortillas are almost always smaller-taco size. For those of you going wheat-less, corn tortillas should be a staple in your refrigerator.

 

Hmmm…that looks suspiciously healthy

“That looks healthy” said my friend, who is a mom, in a tone that was not disapproving but was not exactly filled with enthusiasm either. She was looking at the cookie I was offering her which I baked from a recipe in Food & Wine Magazine. I was attracted to the recipe because it had the promise of simplicity-just three ingredients. And none of the ingredients were wheat or dairy; just granola, chocolate peanut butter (which, according to Food & Wine is one item) and egg. This chocolate peanut butter stuff is nothing I’ve ever encountered before and was not readily available at the Fishkill Shoprite-go figure. Maybe I could have tried the upscale natural market, but going to 2 stores for a 3 ingredient recipe seemed to be defeating the purpose. So I used half Nutella and half Jif. Since I make my own granola I was easily able to have one cup of granola without dried fruit and another cup of granola with the fruit of my choice. Using a sweet fruit like dried cherries makes these cookies come alive.

2 cups of granola, 1 without any dried fruit

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup Nutella

1 egg

Pre-heat the oven to 350. Put one cup of granola without fruit in a food processor and pulse until it becomes very fine. In a mixer blend the ground granola, the remaining cup of granola with its dried fruit, peanut butter, Nutella and egg on low speed until blended. Shape into balls and press onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat. Using the back of a fork, flatten the balls into 3 inch rounds. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Chimichurri Rice with Chicken

Normally I would not advise anyone to go out and buy packaged food because I don’t endorse all the mysterious gunk that goes into processed food. I make an exception today for Trader Joe’s Chimichurri Rice (frozen). This stuff is tasty in ways I’ve never known before. A quick look at the label-I confess to being a label reading nerd in the aisles of the grocery store- and it reveals no ingredients I cannot recognize or pronounce nor does it have excessive levels of salt. I sautéed some chicken, threw it into the rice and had a meal in about 15 minutes

If you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s, bummer.

Trader Joe’s to the rescue!

Chimichurri Rice with Chicken

3 thin cut chicken cutlets

1 tbsp. sesame oil

1 bag Chimichurri Rice

Heat the oil in a pan. Sautee the chicken over medium-low heat about  3 minutes per side or just until done. Remove from pan and cut into bite-sized pieces. Cook the rice according to the directions on the package.  Mix together and serve.

Tomato-Lentil Soup

September is by far my favorite month. The suffocating heat of summer gives way to cooler mornings and evenings. It’s that magical time of year when I get to find out if I still fit into my jeans or not. This soup is a perfect blend of summer and fall, tomatoes are really ripening in the garden right now yet the lentils conspire to make this feel like a change of seasons.

I was planning on using the tomato harvest from my garden, peeling and seeding the tomatoes so I could use them in this soup. But then the rest of my life got in the way of that task and I compensated by opening a few cans. It doesn’t hurt the taste one bit. This soup is hearty enough to be a meal on its own.

The hardest thing about this recipe is chopping the onions and celery. However, the modern technology which has led to the invention of pre-chopped produce available in many grocery seems to be made with busy moms in mind. No chopping-no problem. I used cans of plum tomatoes and it came out great. While this recipe takes over an hour to make, much of that time is spent simmering which will leave you with plenty of time to nurse.

Tomato-Lentil Soup

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large onion)
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cans (35 oz) plum tomatoes with their juice
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup dried lentils
  • 1 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves

Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Add the onions and celery stirring over low heat until the vegetables are wilted, about 10 minutes

Puree the tomatoes with their juice in a blender. Add to vegetables.

Add the chicken stock and lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add ½ cup parsley, wine, garlic, pepper, salt, and cloves. Stir well and simmer another 25 minutes. Add remaining parsley and simmer another 5 minutes. Serve.

There will be plenty leftover to freeze.

Recipe courtesy of The New Basics Cookbook (my dictionary of cooking).

Glazed Lemon Cookies

Things have been a little out of control with these lemon cookies lately. They are addicting. I make them and then I cannot stop eating them. Maybe if I share the recipe I will have someone to commiserate with because if you make them you too will want to eat the whole batch.

One of the best things about making a batch of cookies when you do not have large chunks of time is the Overnight Batter Rule that applies to almost all standard cookie recipes. Cookies will turn out better if you refrigerate the  batter overnight. I found this out accidentally but later I was validated by a NY Times article that interviewed several of the city’s most celebrated cookie bakers.

Many years ago I was making an average batch of chocolate chip cookies when I was interrupted by-I don’t remember what-but I had to put the batter aside while I took care of whatever it was. Several hours later I took the batter out of the fridge and baked them. My roommate and his friend declared them to be the best cookies I ever made. Fast forward to a year later when I read this article in the Times about the secrets of professional cookie bakers. They all said they refrigerate their dough anywhere from 12-36 hours. The rationale they all seemed to agree on is that the egg is slow moving and takes time to fuse with the other ingredients but if you give it time to do so, you will be rewarded with cookie awesomeness (to paraphrase). This is good news for anyone who has craved homemade cookies but only has an hour here, an hour there to bake.

2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Lemon Glaze  (see below)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat until combined. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, 1 inch apart, onto two baking sheets. Bake until edges are golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool 2 minutes on sheets, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Spread cookies with Lemon Glaze and let set, about 1 hour.

Lemon Glaze this makes alot of glaze. I saved the leftover glaze and used it on the next batch. My son quickly figured out that sparkles and rainbow sprinkles stick nicely to the glaze.

Ingredients

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, and 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice until smooth.

Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe. Thanks Martha!