Posts in the Snacks and finger foods Category

brushetta

So I’ve been down and out the past few days recovering from an overnight in the hospital. All is fine, just some rest and relax to get me back on my feet. My husband has been amazing (I think he is drunk on power – finally he gets to boss everyone around), my babysitter has been working tons of overtime to help with the kids, and family and friends have really pitched in to. I am doing exactly as the doctors suggest, lots of rest, tons of great chick flicks like Leap Year, How to Lose a Guy in 10 days, Blended, The Devil Wears Prada, you get the idea. I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but I’m done with the rest and relaxation. I’m actually bored out of my mind. So here I am sitting at the computer, my usual past time, writing a post.

Today is Bruschetta, and oldie but goodie. I actually spent some time learning to cook in Italy and we made Bruschetta. I’m pretty sure it was delicious, though drinking and cooking started simultaneously at around 9am and the eating happened from about 1-3. Best cooking classes ever!

There are lots of recipes out there for Bruschetta but I keep mine really simple; fresh ingredients, good olive oil and fresh bread. It is literally one of my favorite meals.

INGREDIENTS:

4 tomatoes (I buy whatever looks fresh, firm and ripe), if using beefsteak I might seed them to reduce the amount of liquid.
1 clove of garlic, minced (I use a microplane)
3 glugs of olive oil (go around the bowl 3 times)
Fresh basil, chiffonade
Kosher Salt
Fresh bread, sliced into thick wedges, either lightly toasted or grilled

DIRECTIONS:

Mix it all in a bowl. Taste and season as needed. I like to serve it a room temperature.

 

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guacamole

This guacamole is perfect for any time of year. I make tons (literally) of guacamole all summer long, when the tomatoes are ripe and fresh. But in the winter, when farm fresh vegetables are harder to come by, guacamole is still perfect. I am always grateful for all the good nutrients my kids receive when they polish off a large bowl of home-made guacamole.  Sometimes they eat “guac and chips” for dinner!

This is the quintessential kids “cooking class” food. Guacamole is easy to make and fun to eat. And kids can basically make it all by themselves. Diced avocado, tomatoes, and onions coupled with minced garlic, fresh lime juice and a few dashes of Tobasco sauce is all it takes to whip up a bowl of fresh guacamole. Cilantro is a delicious added bonus. You can also make your own chips!  I love this recipe from Simply Recipes
http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_make_homemade_tortilla_chips/

 

INGREDIENTS:

6 ripe avocados (they should just lightly yield to the pressure of your fingers), diced
1 large beefsteak tomato, seeded and small diced
¼ sweet Vidalia onion (yellow, brown, or red onions work well too), small diced
1 clove garlic, minced (I like to use a microplane)
Juice from 2 limes (I love it limey)
5-6 dashed of kosher salt (keep tasting until you reach the level of spice that you enjoy.  You can also use jalapeno pepper.)
1-teaspoon kosher salt (taste the guacamole with a chip before adding more salt)

DIRECTIONS:

Add all the ingredients to a medium sized bowl. Using 2 butter knifes, “cut” the ingredients together with a criss-cross motion. Taste the seasoning and adjust as needed. If not eating immediately, put plastic wrap pressed on top of the guacamole to make sure no air gets in (this will help prevent it from getting too brown). Some people like to keep the avocado pits in the guacamole to prevent browning.  You can also add a few tablespoons of salsa to thinly cover the very top and mix it in when you are ready to serve it.

 

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IMG_3908

We have been having so much fun in cooking class: chopping, stirring, whisking, measuring, melting, baking, and frying! We made delicious Zucchini French Fries. What a fun way to eat green vegetables, breaded and lightly fried, and then sprinkled with salt. These can also be baked for an even healthier treat.

I wish I had a great segue from Zucchini French Fries to skiing; unfortunately there isn’t really a connection. I just have skiing on the brain. For some crazy reason, I decided to learn how to ski this winter (I tried last year too, but didn’t get past the bunny slope). I am amazed by how difficult it can be for some of us (me in particular) to learn. Not my children though, they put skis on and cruised down the mountain at warp speed. They are now skiing backwards, going over moguls, and doing jumps.

As an adult learning to ski, I think about everything. Turning my feet, adjusting my body, shifting my weight, staying forward on my skis, looking out not down, and somehow, with all of these instructions, I should also be relaxed! I have a new appreciation for how some people feel in the kitchen: sweaty palms, increased heart rate, and an impending feeling of doom.

I am writing this last part of the post after having successfully cruised down my first black diamond slope out in Colorado. So if you are someone for whom cooking does not come easily, don’t despair: a bit of elbow grease, some easy recipes (found right here), and a helping of determination will have you bustling around the kitchen asking, “When do we make the soufflés”?

INGREDIENTS:

3 zucchini, cut into 4 quarters from top to bottom
1-cup flour (more as needed)
2 eggs, beaten, plus 1-tablespoon water
1-cup seasoned breadcrumbs (more as needed)
Canola oil for frying
Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS:

Using 3 shallow bowls, put flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs each into their own bowl. First dip the zucchini in the flour until lightly coated. Tap gently on the side of the bowl to remove excess flour. Then dip the zucchini into the egg mixture until coated. Then dip into the breadcrumbs (you can even add some grated Parmesan cheese to your breadcrumb mixture) until coated. Put them on a plate to await frying.

Heat a large non-stick skillet and add enough canola oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. When all the zucchini “fries” have been well coated with flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, add a few at a time to the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry for about 2 minutes per side or until golden and crispy.

Transfer zucchini to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Serve hot.

 

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enchilada

Forever on the look out for healthy, easy family dinners, I saw a recipe on two peas and their pod for Open-Faced Enchilada Veggie Quesadilla (say that 10 times fast!). Amber, at Sprinkled with Flour, originally published the recipe. And this is my own version of an open-faced vegetable enchilada.  This dish is great for dinner, a hearty snack, or even breakfast (think breakfast burrito with ham, egg, and cheese).

What I like about these enchiladas is that they are really easy to make and the kids can help out in the kitchen too. You can fill them with whatever you like . . . I used onions, red pepper, black beans and spinach on a corn tortilla (gluten-free) when I made them for myself and onions, red pepper, black beans, corn, avocado and sour cream on a flour tortilla when we made them in cooking class. You can add olives, jalapenos, tomatoes, peas, chicken, rice, salsa, etc.

I often have tortillas of some sort in my fridge, along with some vegetables and cheese. Sometimes I even have a cooked vegetable mixture of peppers, onions, and pickled jalapenos that I make for omelets (and keep in the fridge) but could easily use here. I can usually whip these up without even going to the market, which is great especially for those busy nights when carpooling doesn’t stop until after 8 pm.  I’d love to hear how your family eats their enchiladas . . .

pepper and onion mixture

Open-faced Vegetable Enchiladas

INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, diced
2 peppers, diced
¼ cup black beans
2 large bunches spinach
Salt
Cooking spray
8 corn tortillas
1-12oz. bag shredded cheese (Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a Mexican Blend)

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large skillet and add the oil. When hot, add the onions and sauté about 5-8 minutes or until translucent. Add the pepper and sauté another 5-8 minutes or until soft. Add the beans and spinach and sauté another few minutes. Season mixture with salt.

Using a lined cookie sheet, spray the corn tortillas with cooking spray and bake in the oven for 3-5 minutes. Top with some enchilada sauce, then a large scoop of the onion and pepper mixture, and then a generous amount of shredded cheese. Return to the oven for about 3-5 minutes. Cheese should be melted and gooey. Serve hot with sliced avocado, shredded iceberg lettuce, and sour cream.

Enchilada Sauce (from www.theculinarylife.com)

I’ve scaled back the seasoning on this sauce to make it more palatable for kids. If you like your sauce spicy add a bit more chili powder and cayenne pepper. You can try experimenting with different kinds of dried pepper or maybe add some chopped cooked green chili peppers.

INGREDIENTS:
2-tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 26oz. box diced (Pomi) tomatoes
1-tablespoon chili powder
1-tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Heat a deep-bottomed skillet and add the oil. When hot, add the onions and sauté about 5-8 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer about 5 minutes. Puree in a blender and set aside.

 

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potato skin

Wow, these kids really keep me moving! I’m back to school and teaching three cooking classes a week. No sooner did we finish Dessert Smoothies, than we jumped into Twice Baked Potatoes. These potatoes are super kid-friendly, easy to make and really versatile (Hosting a tailgating party? Check. Hosting your new vegetarian neighbors? Check. Hosting the entire soccer team after a big win? Check). Filled with broccoli and cheddar cheese, they are also a whole meal stuffed into a potato skin. Did I mention they are a great after-school snack?

My kids often come home from school quite hungry. Their first impulse is to grab a bag of chips, cookies or Gatorade. Sadly these things just make them more tired and irritable. I have been working hard to teach them about making good food choices and why certain foods are better than others. This is the time when kids need a good boost of energy to get them through the rest of their day. Here is a list of the types of foods that are especially nourishing to our bodies and some healthy snack ideas (my kids helped me to make this top 20 list):

 

  • A large glass of water. Dehydration can make kids feel tired and sluggish. More often than not they are not drinking enough water during school hours. Try adding some fresh mint, a few cubes of watermelon, or orange quarts to the water to give it great flavor without any sugar.

 

  • Complex carbohydrates. Whole grain foods provide long lasting, consistent energy.

 

  • Nuts.  These little babies offer lots of heart healthy fats, are high in fiber and are a great source of energy.

 

  • Protein.  All the cells in our bodies need protein. They build, maintain and repair all the tissues in our bodies. Muscles, organs, and our immune system are all made up of protein.

 

  • Fruits and Vegetables. They are filled with necessary vitamins and nutrients. They are also a powerful source of anti-oxidants.

 

Top 20 Healthy After-school Snacks:

  1. Hummus or white bean dip, carrot sticks, and whole grain pita chips
  2. Guacamole with lentil or rice chips or whole grain quesadillas
  3. Edamame with sea salt
  4. Fruit kabobs with cinnamon yogurt dipping sauce
  5. Whole grain toast with almond butter and banana
  6. Sliced apple and peanut butter
  7. Gorp or trail mix
  8. Homemade fruit smoothies
  9. Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and granola
  10. Vegetable fried brown rice (with extra eggs!)
  11. Rice cakes with cream cheese and cucumbers
  12. Whole grain toast with smashed avocado, lemon juice and salt
  13. Oatmeal with bananas and maple syrup
  14. Pizza crackers
  15. Kale chips
  16. Homemade granola bars
  17. Turkey pinwheels
  18. Pumpkin pancakes
  19. Tuna melts
  20. TWICED BAKED POTATOES!

potato skin

INGREDIENTS:

4 medium Idaho potatoes

2 tablespoons butter

⅓ cup milk

⅔ cup cheddar cheese (⅓ goes into the potato mixture and ⅓ is used to top each potato)

1 small crown of broccoli, trimmed to florets, well steamed (about 8-10 minutes) and finely chopped

1-2 teaspoons kosher salt

 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash potatoes, prick several times with a fork and rub with olive oil. Place directly on the oven rack and cook 45-60 minutes. When done they will pierce with a knife without resistance. They should be firm (not wrinkly) and lightly golden brown from the oil.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Allow them to cool a bit and them slice potatoes in half length-wise. Scoop the potato flesh into a medium sized bowl, leaving about ⅛ inch of potato still inside the skin to help maintain the shape.

Into the bowl with the scooped out potato add the butter, milk, cheese, finely chopped broccoli, and salt. Mix well.

Lay the skins out on a baking sheet (you should have 8 skins). Take a nice scoop of the potato mixture and load up each skin. You should have enough filling to really “stuff” these. Once they are all stuffed, add a bit of reserved cheese to the top of each skin.

Return the skins to the oven for 5-7 minutes. They should be hot throughout and the cheese on top should be melted.

 

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