Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kale Chips - Easy power packed nutritional snack

Kale is such a powerful green! It's packed with antioxidants, calcium, vitamins C & K as well as beta carotene.

Kale chips couldn't be easier to make. They are simple and quick and they disappear just as quickly as they were prepared in my home.

Here's what you'll need. Please don't be overwhelmed by the ingredient list, it's daunting, but stick with me.

1 Bunch of Kale
2(ish) tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Your favorite seasoning, if desired. ( I actually used Melting Pot's Garlic and Wine Seasoning)

Got it? Good.

Preheat your oven to 350. Honestly you'll be done preparing this dish long before the oven is even at temperature.

Wash your kale and pat it dry. With a sharp knife, remove the rib of the the kale from each leaf. Rough chop it in fairly large pieces. The kale will shrink big time in the oven. Place prepared kale in a large dish. Drizzle it with 1T of olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Toss it with your hands and repeat with the olive oil and salt. Dump it all on to a baking sheet and spread into a single layer. Add additional seasoning.

Place it in the oven and cook 15-20 minutes. Honestly, I'd start checking it at 12 minutes though. Remove from oven when crispy. Let the chips cool and then try not to eat them too quickly!


Monday, May 23, 2011

Low(er) Carb Blueberry Scones

One of my very favorite parts of late spring in the Temecula valley is the amazing produce available. Not only from my local CSA, Harvest2U, but also from the amazing blueberry farm that is right down the street from my house! Depending on the weather, the Temecula Berry Company opens in May, and weather permitting, stays open until sometime in July.

As a family we've been making trips to our local blueberry farm almost weekly when it's open. They have a U Pick farm as well as pre made blueberry pies for sale. They have movie on the farm nights and other great events.

The farm opened Wednesday of last week, but the weather was less than perfect, so we waited until Friday to go for our first visit of the 2011 blueberry season. You can certainly tell the boys are getting older and well versed in the rules of blueberry picking, because picking our few pints took about half the time it took last year. The berries are big and beautiful and most importantly, delicious!

Blueberry scones are my absolute favorite and I made them several times last year. This year I decided to take my favorite recipe and make it South Beach Diet friendly. Granted, it does contain flour so it's more along the lines of phase two for an occasional treat or phase three.

What you're going to need:
2C stone ground whole wheat pastry flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1T baking powder
1/2t salt
2T Splenda
5T cold butter, cut into small pieces
1c half and half (plus about another 2T for brushing scones)

juice and zest of one lemon
1/2t olive oil (I used meyer lemon olive oil)
3T Splenda

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Sift all dry ingredients together.

Cut butter into the dry mixture with pastry blender or two forks until butter resembles pea sized pieces covered in flour mixture.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in half and half. Fold the half and half into the flour mixture, taking caution not to over mix. This will make for a tougher dough and wheat flour is already not as light and airy as white flour.

Fold in blueberries.

Flour a cutting board or your countertop lightly and roll dough onto the surface. Gently press into a rectangle about 12" by 3.5". Cut the rectangle in half and then half again, leaving yourself with four squares (or square-ish). These squared you will then cut in half on the diagonal to make the traditional triangular scone shape.

Place the scones on to an ungreased cookie sheet and then brush with half and half. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remember, the whole wheat flour is already a darker color so they aren't going to change color so much. Don't let them get "brown" or they will be over done.

Remove and let cool. Then top with glaze. That recipe will follow this.

This could not get more simple!
Add all glaze ingredients to a microwave safe bowl.
Cook for 11 second in the microwave, stir and repeat.
Brush glaze on top of scones.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Look into my eyes, my Yellow Eyes

I continue to be totally and completely impressed by Rancho Gordo beans. I don't know why, I really shouldn't be floored, they came highly recommended by someone who is very particular about her food. Anywho, I had these gorgeous Yellow Eye beans in my pantry practically begging to get used. We had just gotten home from vacation and I hadn't been in the kitchen for over a week so it was high time I started cooking again.

Yellow Eyes are a deliciously lovely bean. They have a creamy feel in your mouth, but with a texture that isn't mushy. The hold their shape well in cooking and they taste absolutely lovely.

Like any other dried bean, I started out by soaking these lovelies for about five hours. But, make no mistake, these are not any other beans. They are full of goodness.

Once the beans have been rinsed and soaked they are ready to cook. I had some pancetta so I gave it a rough chop and tossed it into my french oven along with a couple of tablespoons of this lovely olive oil that   I received in my seasonal club shipment from Global Gardens in Los Olivos, CA. I cooked the pancetta until it was nice and crispy, but be cautious not to let it go too far and burn. It's thin so it can go from crisp and beautiful to charred very quickly.

Once the pancetta was crispy I removed it from the pot and laid it on a paper towel to soak up any excess  oil. Then, into the pot of pancetta drippings, I tossed in my faux mirepiox. Ok so I just like the sound of that, really. I didn't have any celery and I used leeks instead of onions. Not that I would have rather had onions, I loved the gorgeous leek that I had received in my Harvest2U CSA box. OK, so cook your carrots and leeks in the pancetta drippings until they are softened.

Once your vegetables are softened you can season them with a little salt and pepper. I also added some of the Caliterranean Garden Blend of spices from Global Gardens and the sliced baby bellas. The aroma, at this point is amazing!

OK, now you can add those bathing beauties into your pot along with the liquid they've been soaking in. You'll want to make sure the beans are covered by about 1/2" or so of water, but not too much unless you want bean soup. If you do, that's OK too. Bring the beans up to a boil for about 5 minutes and then turn the heat all the way down. As low as you can get it and still barely see a bubble every now and again. Barely a bubble is how I refer to it, I wouldn't even consider this a simmer.

Cover your beans and cook them, checking and stirring them about every 20 minutes for doneness. When they start to smell like beans they are just about there, keep your eye on them.

I used a bit too much liquid in the pot so mine came out more like a soup, but they were still phenomenal. I ladled it into a bowl, topped it with a bit of the crisp pancetta and then shaved a tiny bit of parmesan cheese on top.