Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Kale Chips!

Summer at its peak and my plot at the community garden is bursting with produce.  A few years ago I read about the remarkable health benefits of eating kale and decided to grow and pressure can this wonderful, leafy green God of the Brassica family (cabbage).  I read in "The World's Healthiest Foods" that kale is one of the most beneficial, if not the #1 veg-of-choice for warding off 5 different types of cancers, detoxifying the body and lowering cholesterol. 

Certainly my pressure-canned kale (similar consistency to any other canned greens) is a staple on my shelf that I can easily access all year long, however, kale chips are a treat that I only enjoy in the summer (unless I want to buy the fresh stuff at the store---and, truthfully, I don't even know if we can get kale in winter.)

These crunchy chips are positively addicting and much healthier than snacking on potato chips or other processed foods.  In addition, they are so easy to make that it's almost embarrassing that I bother to dedicate a post on this.  However, because I am a firm believer in sharing the wealth when it comes to good food and even better, food that is good for you, here it is.

Kale Chips
Preheat the oven to 350.  Wash kale, remove the rib and stem, break the leaf into desired size (I like about the size of my palm).  Toss with a little olive oil and a seasoning of your choice (*go easy on the salt--it's very easy to over-salt these babies).  Here are some seasoning suggestions:  salt, season salt, bbq seasoning, lemon pepper, garlic salt, onion powder/salt and the list is endless.  Place loosely in a single layer on a baking tray and bake until crispy, about 10-15 minutes.  You will want to store them in a breathable container and eat fairly soon.  I wouldn't worry though, they will disappear from sight almost immediately.  Enjoy them while you can!

P.S.  Send me your seasoning ideas too.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Homemade Poptarts!

Who doesn't love poptarts?  I personally do not care for the glazed kind.  Just try and find some that are not glazed or filled with unrecognizeable ingredients.  While perusing my cookbooks for berry recipes I accidentally came across a recipe for Blueberry Toaster Pastries found in "The Joy of Blueberries" ISBN: 1-59193-012-X, page 99.  There is no logical reason why you couldn't substitute any kind of jam for the blueberry jam...I am envisioning Apricot, Raspberry, even Pineapple Marmalade.  Keeping a lookout for anything new and unusual, I currently have on my shelves a Spanish Grapefruit Marmalade, Lemon Curd and even a Fig Jam.  I should label these "Adult Poptarts!"

This recipe wasn't that difficult and the dough is super easy to work with.  This would be an easy-do project to do with students.  This is what you will need:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Blueberry Jam or any preserves of your choice

Egg Wash:
1 egg white, beaten with 1 TBSP milk

Preheat the oven to 355.  Beat sugar and shortening until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir this into the mixture to form a dough.

Divide dough into 16 equal parts.  Use a plastic wrap over the top of a part and roll out to a 3 1/2" x 5" shape.  Spread preserves on dough leaving about 1/4" crust around the edge.   Roll out another part of dough and place over the top of the dough with preserves.  Use a sharp knife to cut away the rough edges (save the dough to make more).   Crimp all sides with the tines of a fork.  Place on a greased cookie sheet.

Beat egg white with 1 TBSP milk.  Brush the tart with egg white wash and sprinkle lightly with sugar.  Prick the top of the tarts with tines of a fork.  Place in oven and immediately turn down to 350.  Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and prick again with a fork.  Bake 15 more minutes (edges will be brown).  Remove from baking sheet, to a flat surface.  Cool and wrap in plastic.  Store in the refrigerator.

I got 10 poptarts out of this recipe and used 1/2 pint of blueberry jam.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salsa

Nothing screams of summertime more than watermelon, garden tomatoes and piping hot corn on the cob smeared with melted butter.  Naturally, I was in heaven when Fred Meyer advertised 10 ears of that yummy ripeness on sale for $5 and I immediately bought up 30 ears and processed into pints of creamed style corn with my friend Cory G. and Karen D's help.  Then my friend Karyl posted her photos of corn salsa and I knew I had to try this.  This salsa can stand alone with a bowl of tortilla chips, spoon over tacos, roll up in a burrito, or even add to a Mexican-Style Soup!  The recipe I created is probably a little spicier than most people would care for, so use your own judgement as to how spicy you want it.

Safeway is now advertising a sale of 3 ears for a $1.  Now I know my friends and family are cringing at this "sale" and get twice that in the lower 48--but to us in Alaska who are deprived of long-season fruits and veggies, this is a steal!  At the encouragement of my friend Karen D. I chose white corn over yellow this time and it came out great. 

I did not follow the recipe Karyl sent but added and pumped it up instead.  The original recipe, should you care to download it is at:

I love the smell of green chile and corn roasting on the grill.  When I read over the list of ingredients for this salsa I knew that one modification I would make right off the bat would be to roast the corn rather than boil it on the stove.  Anyone who has eaten corn on the cob both boiled and grilled knows there is a difference.  Not to say that one method is better than another, but considering the outcome I wanted (smell and texture)---grilling was the only option I would consider.

Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salsa


12 ears of corn, shucked and cleaned
3 cups distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar (corn is naturally sweet--original recipe called for 1 cup.  Cut that in 1/2)
2 TBSP ground cumin
1 TBSP salt
8 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes
***NOTE:  If you do not care for hot, spicy foods, you may want to eliminate or cut down on the jalapeno and Seranno
3 jalapeno peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
3 Anaheim green chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
1 red Serrano pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
1 large white onion diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cilantro, chopped (Added LAST)

Grill the cleaned corn and peppers.  The skin on the peppers should toast--allow them to rest/sweat in a bowl covered with plastic until cool enough to skin, seed and dice.

In a large bowl, cut the kernals of corn off the cob.  Combine vinegar, sugar, cumin and salt in a large stockpot and bring to boil.  Add tomatoes, jalapenos, peppers, onion, garlic, beans and corn and return to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Stir in cilantro and return to boil.  Remove from heat. 

Ladle hot salsa into sterilized canning jars leaving 1/2" headspace.  Use a plastic knife to remove any air bubbles, wipe the rims clean of any juices, secure with sterlized lids and screwbands.  Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.  Remove jars to sit for 24 hours. 

NOTE:  Use within a year.  Don't forget to add an expiration date to your jars.

This recipe yielded 10 pint jars.