Sunday, September 25, 2016

Summer Squash Chips

I crave the crunch of potato chips so bad some days. I've tried making all sorts of things into lower calorie chips, but it turns out plain old summer squash and zucchini work the best! And you can have a lot.  Like, summer squash is about 4 calories an ounce raw. So, it allows you to feel gluttonous without any of the horror the next day.

18 oz. squash
2 tsp. salt
1/4-1/2 tsp. cayenne
*You can, of course, try any flavor of spices and herbs. Just keep it light on the first batch. Dehydrating knocks up the flavor factor a lot!

  1. Using your mandolin, cut the squash into chips using the thinnest selection you can while still getting whole pieces.
  2. Toss gently in a medium bowl with spices and salt.
  3. Lay out single layer on your dehydrator sheets, and dehydrate for about 8 hours. I have the grid type, so I don't line it.
  4. Cool and bag.
18 oz. squash makes 2 servings at 32 calories each.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

"Pumpkin" Spice Oatmeal Cookies

The leaves have an edge of yellow, and my driveway is littered with the first of the fall leaves.  Dunkin Donuts,a nd Starbucks are rolling out the pumpkin spice everything, which I can assure you having worked for Starschmucks via Barnes and Noble, has very little pumpkin in it  (but it does have pumpkin).

I have a few delicata squash in my CSA this week, and I just know I have to make them into dessert. But I also want to make oatmeal cookies.  So, I scoured Pintrest, combined a few recipes, and came up with these delightful spiced "pumpkin" cookies.

1/2 cup mashed, packed delicata, acorn, or butternut squash
6 Tbsp. salted butter, room temp.
3/4 cups. gently packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 tsp. cinnamon, ground
1/8 tsp. cloves, ground
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, ground
1/4 tsp. ginger,
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup, slightly rounded, quick oats
1/4 tsp. baking powder.
  1. How to prepare that squash?  Take one, small delicata, acorn, or butternut squash. I'm using delicata because that's what came in my CSA. Poke holes using a fork all over.  Lots of them.  Microwave 3 minutes, turn, and repeat until soft to touch.  Slice in half, remove seeds, and allow to cool.
  2. Combine butter, sugar, vanilla, egg, spices, and powder in medium mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in squash, and beat until combined, scraping down sides.
  4. Fold in oats.
  5. Finally, stir in flour.
  6. Scoop out balls of oatmeal dough on a cookie sheet covered in parchment.
  7. Bake 7 minutes, then lightly press down and turn tray.
  8. Bake 7 minutes more, until bottoms are lightly golden.
  9. Remove to cool on sheet. Store once completely cool.
Makes about 20 fluffy oatmeal cookies, small. 95 calories a cookie.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Fermented Salsa

It's that time of year where tomatoes start to take over my life.  I can't help but remember the movie, and then cartoon of my childhood. "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes."

When I went to pick up my farm share last week, the Other Wendy, aka not my mom, had a sample of a fermented salsa she had made.  You might remember, we took a class on fermenting together last summer.

It was, of course, delicious, so I thought I'd wing it.

Like most ferments, this one isn't exact.  But it's simple enough you can do it.  Also, like most ferments, you have to be prepared to lose the goods. Occasionally, something else less friendly gets in there and ruins all of the fun.

The batch here is cilantro and bell pepper free, because I don't eat cilantro.  I am one of those unfortunates that tastes nothing but soap when it shows up to the party.

2 small onions, diced
6 jalapenos, diced
Several tomatoes, diced as you go (I use 4 big ones and then 4 smaller romas for this batch)
1-2 tsp. kosher salt.
A few sprigs of cilantro (optional-to taste)
1 small bell pepper (optional)
  1. Throw all of your diced goodies in a bowl together with the 1/2 the salt, and give a good stir.
  2. Taste.  You want it a little salty, but not overpoweringly so. Remember, you'll be eating with with salty chips.
  3. If it needs the rest of the salt, add in and stir again. If it's too much salt, rinse it a few times before bottling it. You'll get the hang of it sooner or later. Just drain it well.
  4. Fill into a wide-mouthed jar.
  5. Cut a slightly larger than the mouth, and I do mean ever so slightly, disc from a plastic food container.  I use a Greek yogurt lid.  You should be able to use it to press down on your salsa, and have it stay put.  Snip until it does.
  6. Press down so the salsa is completely under the liquid and put a lid on it.
  7. Every few hours, unscrew your lid and re-screw to release the gasses. 
  8. Every day, remove the lid. Use a clean spoon to scoop out anything that looks off. This is a good time to remove a bit to taste test.  You're looking for tang, but not a vinegary tang.  I usually rinse the plastic lid too, before re-submerging the salsa in it's own liquid.  Then re-cap.
  9. Keep on the counter, repeating, for up to a week, to taste. Not in direct sunlight. Sometimes it's perfect in 2 days, sometimes in 5. Each batch is a little different.
  10. You'll know it's close to done, because it will get bubbly, especially when you stir it. Fermenting releases gases, so make sure you're removing and cracking those lids!
  11. Drain off excess liquid, and refrigerate before serving, or can it proper.
My 2 small onion 1 bell pepper batch fills one ball jar, and one prego spaghetti jar.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Time Saving Wild Blackberry & Summer Squash Oatmeal

It's almost back to school time, so I'm getting my frozen prep done, and this is round one.  I've got a bad habit of not eating before I head off to teach 3 back-to-backs, and I'm going to see if these will help kill that habit and help me avoid the vending machine of doom.

Oatmeal is super simple to pre-prep.  In fact, you can split your batch in 3, and use different fruits with the squash suggested here, and the kids will never know of your insidious vegetable use.

I pull them out of the freezer and a quick zap results in a delicious, preservative-free breakfast that's a bit more nutritious than that packaged stuff (and comes in more flavors).

This batch is a result of a rather fruitful hike at Salt Springs, just across the NY border in Franklin Township, PA.

1 cup oats
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt.
1 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk
4 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
10 oz. grated summer squash
2.5 cups wild blackberries
1/2 tsp. baking powder
  1. Combine everything but the baking powder in a medium, and mix well. You can substitute skim milk and vanilla extract if you prefer.
  2. Pop in the fridge for an hour or two to soak up all that yummy goodness.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  4. Line your muffin tins with baking cups if you like, or just spray them down good. While the cups can be a bit of a pain to remove, they work a little better.
  5. Fill each muffin completely. 
  6. Bake for abut 20-30 minutes, until top is firm to touch.  Once again, this doesn't mean the bottom isn't gooey oatmeal. Just that the top has a bit more texture. This is why I prefer the wrappers to just the tin.
  7. Cool, and then freeze for storage. If you're using the tin, I suggest par-freezing it in the tin first for a few hours, then removing them to a better storage container, like a ziploc. 
  8. Remove from freezer to thaw the night before. Or, Zap them for one minute with the wrapper on, peel, and one minute with wrapper off.  Don't drain off the liquid. Stir it in!
Makes 18 individuals at 60 calories a piece! Recommend two for an adult, one for a child.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Rhubarb Streusel Bread

I was grabbing a few things from Wegmans when I saw glorious, large stalks of rhubarb.  At first, I was thinking of bars, but in the end the weather got a bit crisp and I thought quickbread.

This recipe results in a rhubarb streusel loaf with a hint of orange and spice. It's super yummy and a bit tart.  Great for a nearly-fall day. A bit of a pain in the arse though.

2 stalks rhubarb
2 Tbsp. marmalade
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. water
1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda

2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp. salted butter, melted
2 tsp. cinnamon
  1.  Rinse, and cut weedy ends, and broken, dried out bits off of the rhubarb, and then slice thin into coins.
  2. Combine all ingredients of the marinade, and allow to sit for 5-6 hours. Jazz up your marinade by playing with different marmalades and vanillas.  I used a homemade kumquat marmalade and vanilla bean paste (which can be purchased for $6/bottle or less at Home Goods or TJ Maxx if you're savvy). 
  3. Preheat oven to 350F.
  4. Line and grease your bread pan. I use foil and coconut oil.  The spray kind because Alton brown said really, it's ok.
  5. Begin the bread recipe. Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup butter in a medium bowl, and beat until creamed.
  6. Add eggs and beat high until fluffy.
  7. Add water and vinegar. Beat low until mixed. Will look slightly curdled-this is ok!
  8. In a small bowl, combine flower, powder, and soda. Whisk to combine the dry mix.
  9. Stir in dry mix into wet mix until just moist. This will be very thick at this point, like drop biscuits, because the remaining moisture is in the rhubarb and marinade.
  10. Fold in marinated rhubarb and its liquid and give a gentle stir. Should still be a thick batter, but will be more like a thick muffin mix than biscuits now.
  11. Remove set aside half the batter.
  12. Scoop main batter into bread pan and spread out.
  13. In a small bowl, combine streusel ingredients minus butter and combine with fork. Then add butter and stir in to make fine crumble.
  14. Sprinkle half of the mixture over the bread batter in the pan.
  15. Careful scoop and spread the reserved batter over the streusel mix.
  16. Top with remaining streusel and press it lightly into the bread batter with the palm of your hand.
  17. Bake 60+, depending on bread pan size, until passes toothpick test, but instead of a toothpick, I use a chopstick.  I know, it's not as pretty, but it gets down far enough to see if the middle is cooking. And yes, it is really closer to the hour plus mark. I actually recommend using a thermometer if you have one and aim for 190-200F.
  18. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan to cool the rest of the way.
  19. Once completely cooled, toss in ziplock or wrap in foil and refrigerate.  Bread can be frozen for up to 3 months.
*Note: I found it very difficult to cook it through with the streusel layer, and next time I will drop the inner layer, make half the topping and only put it on top. I might also cut back on rhubarb for a faster baking time or make it as muffins rather than bread.