Saturday, January 21, 2012

Crunchy Times

Homemade Kale Chips
"What's with you white girls and these kale chips?" my sassy, Jamaican friend Cynthia said when I told her about today's recipe. This week I made these delicious kale chips and there you have it, I guess I'm a walking stereotype.

But before you start thinking that I'm turning into some crazy, crunchy, barefooted, no deodorant wearing person (not that there's anything wrong with that), know that as we speak I'm eating a McDonald's Snack Wrap and sipping a chemical-laden Diet Coke. So we're good, I haven't gone over to the dark side...yet.

As the cold weather surrounds us here in NYC and the urge to hibernate takes over, I've been fluttering around the kitchen searching for things that I can toast and roast. Last week it was Spicy Roasted Chick Peas and this week it's Homemade Kale Chips. These little guys are really, really good! A liberal handful of sea-salt, a splash of olive oil, and a sprinkle of garlic powder is all the flavor you need. They are crispy, crunchy and super satisfying.

Homemade Kale Chips
Cast of Characters: Fresh Kale, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper (optional) and Garlic powder.

Separate leaves from ribs and stems.

Break leaves into "chip" size, like this.

A very small splash of olive oil just to lightly coat, if you put too much the leaves will not crisp up. Toss together, add salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350-400 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time I rotated my baking sheet.

All done! Chips will be crispy and crunchy.

View the complete recipe here: Kale Chips 

*Girl From Scratch notes: I added pepper and garlic powder, which were not called for in the source recipe.

I'm really excited to discover a healthy and TASTY snack (let's face it, rice cakes are for the birds!). What are you roasting and toasting up this winter?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

An Obsession

Spiced Roasted Chick Peas
This week we traveled to South Beach, Florida for a 4-day conference (boo hoo- I know) and I have really missed being in the kitchen, cooking, blogging and writing. Two food observations when it comes to traveling: 1) It's really hard to eat healthily and cheaply, 2) It's not easy for the home-cook to maintain any sort of schedule or meal plans when an upcoming trip is on the calendar. For the days leading up to the trip we were ordering take-out because we didn't want to grocery shop and load up our fridge with groceries that wouldn't get eaten. Now we're back (thank goodness), and hopefully some resemblance of order will be restored in the kitchen.

I've recently become enamored with the chick pea. Hummus and salads are delicious staples in our home, but I'm discovering that this versatile ingredient can go much farther. If you dry chick peas and then blend them, it makes chick-pea flour, which can make many things like healthy crackers and crust. There is also a new trend of dessert hummus which involves subbing cocoa or cinnamon and sugar for the savory ingredients like roasted red peppers and garlic. I attempted but failed at a dessert hummus recipe here, but am confident that with more finesse it can work out!

As I write this, my Spiced Roasted Chick Peas are roasting away in the oven, and my apartment is filled with the aromas of cinnamon and other spices. If I close my eyes, the scent takes me to my favorite Moroccan restaurant, gorging on tender cinnamon-spiked marinated beef and loading up warm flat bread with spicy chutneys, hummus, olive oil and soft cheeses. Sigh... Do I have to wake up?

Spiced Roasted Chick Peas

Canned chick peas, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cinnamon, garam masala spice mix, turmeric, olive oil.

Rinse chick peas thoroughly.

Pat dry. (A special thanks to my lil' sis' who gave me these rockin' turquoise bowls for Christmas. Love them!)

Add spices and olive oil. The turmeric is such a great color! 

Toss gently by shaking bowl (I don't recommend using any utensils), this keeps the chick peas from breaking up. Pour onto baking sheet and roast at 450 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Follow the Recipe Here: Spiced Roasted Chick Peas from She Simmers

These Spiced Roasted Chick Peas make a great snack and are way healthier then chips. Store them in an air-tight container or mason jar and reach for them often! Don't be intimidated if you don't have all the right spices for this recipe, I encourage you to try you own favorite combinations. Rosemary, truffle oil and sea salt. Wasabi, soy sauce and sesame seeds. There are lots of fun variations. What would you try?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Can You Keep a Secret?

Wonderful French Toast
A friend of mine told me about the best French Toast that she'd ever had while staying at a quaint little Bed and Breakfast. She loved it so much that she asked the chef to come out of the kitchen and give her the secret as to what made it taste so good. He was happy to oblige and she merrily went away that day with a tasty recipe in-hand. I'm glad she had the gumption to ask, because years later that Bed and Breakfast had a fire, closed its doors, and never reopened.

I feel like the keeper of some ancient, French Toast secret. I am a guardian of culinary knowledge. I am the gatekeeper to the answers of near-forgotten riddles and breakfast mysteries. And I'm throwing the gate wide open!

Quote from my husband, "If we had never met, I would marry this French Toast instead."

The secret? Read on, friends.

I made this Wonderful French Toast for a New Year's brunch. I served it with a savory vegetable frittata (basically a crust-less quiche), and fresh spinach salad. The meal was stellar, and the French Toast was a big success. Tasty food combined with family gathered around a gorgeous table, makes a great way to start the New Year! Enjoy.
Wonderful French Toast
Cast of Characters: Eggs, bread, cinnamon, nutmeg, milk, frosted flake cereal. Which one of these is the secret ingredient?

Frosted Flakes! You will not believe the sweet, crispy crunch this adds! Crush the cereal into small pieces. You can use a rolling pin or the "punch the bag" method that I'm demonstrating here.

Add cinnamon and nutmeg to crushed cereal.

Prepare wet ingredients (eggs and milk).

Make a "dipping station" next to your range so that you can dip the bread into the wet ingredients, dry ingredients and straight on the griddle or pan.

Watch carefully as they cook, the cereal can burn easily!
A plate of gorgeous French Toast on our New Year's brunch buffet.

Wonderful French Toast Recipe
6 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1 loaf of day old bread, or french bread cut on the bias
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Box of Frosted Flake Cereal (Small box, NOT family size)

-Crush cereal to 1/4 its original size. 
-Add 1/4 teaspoon each of nutmeg and cinnamon to cereal.
-Scramble the eggs and add milk in separate container
-Dip bread in egg mixture and soak.
-Dip in crushed cereal.
-In frying pan with melted butter, on med. high heat, cook until brown on each side.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year! Filled with delicious recipes and great food!

Any one brave enough to try this with Fruit Loops?