Category Archives: Snack

Kale Chips: easy, foolproof, and even the dog likes them!

I have tried making kale chips here and there over the years but was never that impressed with the results. But finally, I have learned a few tricks that guarantee perfect kale chips every time.  It is all in the technique and the proportion of oil and other flavorings to the amount of kale.

By the way, I kid you not in my title; my dog Buster loves kale chips!  You can click HERE to see the proof.  🙂

Here is the recipe I have been using this summer.

Kale Chips with Tamari and Sesame Seeds

  • 1/2 pound bunch of curly kale
  • 1 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoons sesame seeds, hulled or un-hulled
  • 2 teaspoons tamari (soy sauce)
coating the kale

coating the kale

  1. Rinse the kale, shake dry a bit.
  2. Tear leaves off the stem, or remove the stem by folding the leaf in half and slicing the stem off, as shown in this handy video.
  3. Further tear the leaves into pieces approximately 3 or 4” square in size and run through a salad spinner and/or just spread out and let air dry until totally dry.
  4. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and put out two cookie sheets.
  5. Mix together the oil and tamari and, in a big bowl, toss with the now dry kale pieces until the leaves are equally coated.
  6. Next, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and toss to coat evenly.
  7. Spread the seasoned kale pieces out on the two cookie sheets, being sure that there is little or no overlap.

    kale on they tray

    kale on the tray

  8. Once the oven reaches 425 degrees, put the two cookie sheets with the kale in the oven.
  9. After a few minutes (you will hear the oil start to sizzle, but set a timer for 3 minutes so you don’t forget and burn the chips!), turn off the oven and let the kale continue baking as the oven cools for another 20 minutes or until very crispy.

    kale on tray and in bowl

    Here they are!

  10. Remove from oven, use a spatula to gently loosen any chips that are sticking, and then let the chips cool before storing in an airtight container.  Or, put them in a bowl and start eating them!
kale in bowl

Yum!

Notes:  

  • Type of Kale:  Any type of kale will work, but be aware that different types may result in a lesser or greater amount of leaves, once de-stemmed, and adjust the amounts of other ingredients accordingly.
  • Oil and seasonings: You can use any kind of oil, including olive or canola, but I like the light slightly nutty flavor of the sesame oil with the seeds and soy.  You can also add salt or use a totally different flavor combination.  But a tablespoon or so of oil with a 3 to 2 proportion of oil to any other liquid seasoning per ½ pound is a good guideline.

I actually start off with a full pound of kale and double the amounts of oil, tamari, and sesame seeds because my oven has enough room and shelves to accommodate four cookie sheets at a time, and, due to more bulk going into the oven at once, I preheat to 435 degrees and cook for the full 5 minutes before turning off the oven.

This recipe is foolproof because, as long as you don’t forget to set a timer and thus forget to turn the oven off and let the kale bake to long at full heat, you will not end up with a mass of charred, disintegrated leaves.  And, the sticking to the proportion of oil and liquid per pound of kale ensures that you won’t end up with chewy, versus crispy chips. You may have to experiment a bit because everyone’s oven is a bit different, but with these guidelines, at least you won’t burn your chips!

Another shot of the kale chips

Another shot of the kale chips

These chips really are good, and a great way to use kale that, however tasty in a salad, soup, or stir fry, can end up abandoned in the fridge.  And we don’t want that to happen, do we?

Enjoy!

Perfect last-minute dip recipe! Quick, Tasty, AND Healthy!

In a matter of minutes, I made a really tasty dip with ingredients I always have on hand – canned beans, garlic, plain yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh parsley, this last ingredient being for optional garnishing.

Given I am writing this on the day before Christmas, I am thinking that there might be some folks out there panicking because they don’t know what to bring as a potluck offering to a family gathering or other sort of holiday get-together. WELL, look no further.  🙂

You can see the original recipe on Allrecipes.com (one of my favorite recipe sites) by clicking HERE.

And, here is my interpretation, which doubles the recipe, replaces curry powder with cumin, and has a few minor adjustments of the amounts of some ingredients upon the suggestions of some of the recipe reviews on the Allrecipes site.

Image

Black Bean and Garbanzo Bean Dip

Black Bean and Garbanzo Bean Dip

Ingredients:
1 14 or 15.5 oz can black beans, drained
1 14 or 15.5 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed high recommended
2 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt
2 tablespoons water
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin powder
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley sprigs (optional)

Directions:
Place black beans, garbanzo beans, olive oil, lemon juice, yogurt, water, and garlic into the bowl of a food processor or blender. Season with the cumin powder, salt, and pepper. Cover and puree until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired.

While perhaps not the most attractive looking dip (as you can see, a sprig or two of parsley can help with that), it has a wonderfully bright and light yet satisfying flavor and a nice texture.  And, with no tahini and little oil, it provides a healthier option than much of the standard holiday fare.

I am thinking I might try adding a 1/4 cup or so each of chopped fresh parsley and grated carrot to the mix next time to further boost the healthy factor.  But, as is, it is already a winner in my book — and my kitchen!

Granola – Quicker and easier than I thought

You’d think that someone who lived at least 10 years of her life as an ultra “crunchy granola” type (vegan for a while, even) would have made granola before.  No pun intended.  🙂

But, I had not until this morning.  Why not until now? I think the idea of heating up the oven and having to stir something rather spill-able on cookie sheets  gave me the second thoughts.

Why now?  Let’ see…Steve will eat oatmeal, but he really likes to put all kinds of stuff in it, which means breakfast featuring oatmeal was turning into a big procedure, with having to keep in stock and set out each time all the nut, seed, and dried fruit “condiments.”   I griped, and Steve suggested granola.  “Good idea,”  I thought, but then remembered that most store-bought granolas are high in fat, include high-fructose corn syrup, and can have scary-sounding ingredients in them.  Time to make my own!

I looked around online and found a few recipes to use as guidelines, made sure I had enough rolled oats, and picked up some more nuts and dried fruit.   But I kept putting off making it.  It was the picture of granola spilling all over my oven as I stirred it during the toasting process.  But then…

Lorna Sass to the rescue!  Specifically, her granola recipe in her delightful cookbook, Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen, by Lorna J. Sass.  You will find it verbatim  at the end of this post, including her comments at the beginning of the recipe.

Here is why I like it:  She gives directions to toast the granola in a skillet rather than in the oven!  Okay, so I did spill on the stove-top while stirring, but that is ever so much easier to clean up than if granola falls into the bottom of an oven.  And, as she notes, it is more energy efficient to use a burner for a few minutes rather than heating up the oven for 1/2 an hour.  Plus, the recipe is low in fat.

I used Lorna’s recipe for the general idea of proportions, but I used all oats and a handful beyond the three cups, 1/2 cup each of chopped walnuts and almonds, and a cup of dried fruit – a mix of pineapple, cranberry, and raisins. I added a tad extra oil and used 1/2 cup of maple syrup since I was using more dried goods than called for in the original recipe.

before toasting

I love my old cast iron “fryer.” I really need to season it because I have used it quite a bit for stews, especially tomato-based, acidic dishes, and have not keep up with proper cleaning and seasoning methods.  But, it is great for keeping most of the granola in the pan!

just about fully toasted

heat turned off and fruit added

Cooling off. Note mess on stove top 🙂

I did have a slight mishap when stirring the granola as it cooled and opted to finish the cooling in big bowl.

This is a great recipe.  I just had some with yogurt and I think it has just the right balance of sweetness, crunch, and chewiness.  So, there it is.  🙂

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[Here is the original recipe from Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen, by Lorna J. Sass.]

Triple Grain Granola     Makes about 4 cups

The advantage of making your own granola is that you can control the amount oil and sweetness and, ideally, use all organic ingredients. (Although touted as healthful foods, many commercial granola mixes are loaded with sugar and fat.) Of course, it’s much cheaper to make granola yourself-and very simple.

The possibilities are endless, but here is one to begin with.  Unless you are heating up the oven for another purpose, the most fuel-efficient way to prepare granola is to pan-toast it. Make up a big batch and refrigerate it for up to 1 month or store it in the freezer for up to 8 weeks.

Skillet: 5 to 7 minutes
Oven: 20 to 30 minutes at 375 degrees

  • 1 cup each old-fashioned oatmeal (rolled oats), wheat flakes, and rye
    flakes, or 3 cups oatmeal
  • ½ cup walnuts or almonds, coarsely chopped if desired
  • ¼ cup unhulled sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup safflower or light sesame oil
  • 1/3 to ½ cup (depending upon desired sweetness) maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ cup raisins or currants (optional)
  1. In a 10-inch (or larger) cast-iron skillet, combine the grains, nuts, sesame seeds, and cinnamon.
  2. In a measuring cup, combine the oil, maple syrup, and vanilla, and pour over the dry ingredients while stirring. Mix well to blend.
  3. To pan-toast: Toast over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until oats and nuts become crispy and brown, the sesame seeds begin to pop, and the maple syrup emits a burned-sugar aroma, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Stir in the raisins (if using). Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  5. Transfer to a tightly sealed storage container.

Cook’s Notes: If your skillet is smaller than 10 inches, pan-toast the granola in batches.

To oven roast: Combine the oat-nut mixture and the rest of the ingredients (except for the dried fruit) in 1 large or 2 small cast-iron skillets or spread on 1 large jelly-roll pan. (Cookie sheets can also be used, but be careful to avoid spills when stirring.) Bake at 375 degrees (the oven doesn’t have to be preheated), stirring every 5 to 7 minutes, until grains are dry and crisp, about 20 to 30 minutes. Follow steps 4 and 5.

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Finally – Ultimate Hummus!!!

I love Middle Eastern food, and have been making hummus for years – and doing a pretty darn good job it too, I might add. 🙂 However, being prone to experimenting, combining recipes, and just plain guessing on measurements, sometimes the texture or flavor would be just “okay” and, a few times, I added too much liquid and couldn’t fix it, having run out of garbanzo beans. Making hummus thicker with more tahini doesn’t work too well because the flavor and texture of the tahini become too overwhelming.

BUT – I believe I have it down, now. First, the basic recipe, than I’ll give a tip or two for an extra flavor boost.

This makes about [have to go measure the container it filled to tell you! I’ll update if I end up posting before I get this. My guess is 3 or so cups.]

Hummus with Roasted Red Pepper

1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans (chick peas) drained and rinsed
2 cloves of garlic, minced (I use big cloves)
1/3 chopped parsley – not firmly, but not lightly (mediumly?) packed when measuring
1 medium carrot, grated
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup olive oil
1/3 cup of tahini (sesame pasted from lightly toasted sesame seeds)
1 roasted red pepper (medium/smallish – measuring about 3×3 when flattened)

I always prep everything, first, and wash up any dirty dishes or utensils, then start filling the
food processor: [NOTE – remember to use a spatula to scape down the ingredients from the side of the bowl as you go along.]

I put the garbanzo beans in, and then added the next three ingredients, minced garlic, chopped parsley, and grated carrot, distributing each somewhat evenly in the food processing bowl.

Then I ran the processor, pulsing a bit, to get them mixed up and the garbanzos to a coarse texture.

Then I added the lemon juice, and pulsed a bit, then the olive oil, and let that run for a bit.

Next, I added the tahini and ran the processor for another bit, sometimes stopping to scrape down the sides, until well-mixed.

Last to go in was the roasted red pepper. Just toss it in whole, and don’t bother patting it dry, first. It will blend in nicely.

And, that’s it! So easy! So delicious!!!! And healthy!!! Can you tell I am excited about this? Colorful, too.

NOTE – many hummus recipes call for a little water. DON’T use water unless, at the very end, the hummus seems too dry. I used water previously, not considering the water content of the added veggies, especially the roasted red pepper, and it came out a tad soupy.

I doubt you’ll need any water with this recipe. However, factors can vary – maybe the tahini is dry, or the chickpeas have a lower water content for some reason. But, wait until the end before considering adding the H2O.

Now, for the flavor boosters. First, this hummus is great when using store-bought tahini and bottled lemon juice. And, obviously, it uses canned garbanzos. I also use store-bought, jarred roasted red pepper. I bet roasting a fresh red pepper and cooking up one’s own batch of dried garbanzos would give a boost, as well as reduce the sodium content of the hummus from these prepared items.

But, I can tell you for sure that squeezing the lemon juice fresh and making your own tahini really adds a punch!

Fresh squeezed lemon juice is easy – I have a little hand juicer (plastic and thus not as stable as I would like) that works fine. After cutting the medium-sized lemon in half, I had more than the 1/4 of juice I needed.

Making tahini isn’t difficult, but it is more time consuming than squeezing a lemon. But the flavor is well worth it. I am sure I’ll keep a jar from the market on hand, but I am also going to make sure that I always have sesame seeds around, as well!

To be honest, while I almost always have fresh lemons on hand and use bottled lemon juice in a pinch, I don’t think I had ever made my own tahini. Today I did because, part-way into prepping to whip up a quick batch of hummus, I realized that I had finished off my last jar… Luckily, I had a bag of sesame seeds in the fridge. Whew!

Now, tahini can be made from either toasted or raw sesame seeds. My understanding is that Asian tahini is made from raw sesame seeds and Middle Eastern tahini is from toasted sesame seeds. So, how to toast?

Many recipes say to spread the seeds on a baking sheet and put in the oven, but I prefer the quick, easy, and more energy efficient method of dry-roasting in a frying pan. Just make sure it is a heavy frying pan. I prefer to use a cast iron pan for dry-roasting nuts, seeds, and grains, but a sturdy stainless steel pan should work, too.

To make just a tad more tahini than you needs for this recipe, put 3/4 cup raw sesame seeds in a 10 inch or larger skillet/fry pan, that has been preheated on medium. Just stir them around as they heat up, start popping here and there, get a bit darker, and release a wonderful aroma. Lightly toasted with do the trick.

Then, put them in a wide bottom bowl or other container so they will cool off a bit, then put them in the blender. Run the blender on “grind” for a bit until they start looking ground up. Then, (and this is where I didn’t measure but think I “eyeballed it” okay) add maybe 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil (I used canola) and see how it looks. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and mix things up a bit before continuing. Then add a tad more oil, grind some more, see how it looks. I think I used 3 tablespoons of oil.

WOW – REALLY good!!!! I’ve always enjoyed tahini from the store, but it rocks when you make it yourself. Also, the store-bought kind always separates, and that can cause problems as to getting the right texture in foods in which tahini is an ingredient.

So, the recipe is great even without doing the “from scratch” ingredient thing. But, I highly recommend 1) fresh squeezed lemon juice and 2) homemade tahini.

Now I am going to have to try roasting red peppers. Although, I doubt I’d do that just for hummus…seems like a waste of heating fuel. But, my curiosity may get the better of me… However, if I have time, I might cook up a batch of garbanzos if I am making hummus for a big crowd or plan to use them in other recipes, too.

Anyway – that’s the scoop.