Tag Archives: Snacks

Sea Salt Fennel Chips

Fritz and I did a ridiculous amount of shopping today.  Something about cool weather just makes me want to spend all of our money as fast as humanly possible–combine that with the fact that we redeemed some points from our credit cards that we forgot about (thanks Cait and Jeff for the reminder!) for $250, and it was a done deal. 

It was only through sheer willpower that I didn’t go adopt a fluffy orange kitten.  Next year, Lauren.  Next year.  Maybe as a graduation present?

Since we are good kids, most of the points money will go towards our new iPhones and phone plans, but I did get an amazingly cute dress from Gap for $12, some clothes for Fritz, and the making for a DIY project (a light over our kitchen table).

If that wasn’t enough, my BFF’s mom called to say she was cleaning out her DVD collection, and she just handed us tons of DVDs to look through and claim for our own–it was like Christmas in September!  Thanks, Liz!

Clearly, not much cooking happened today…but I did find a few minutes to make fennel chips.

Sea Salt Fennel Chips

  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 1-2 t olive oil
  • sprinkle of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Trim the stalks off the fennel (you can save or toss, I don’t care!), and cut off the ends.  Divide each bulb in half, then peel the leaves from the core.  Toss them on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

When baking chips from veggies, it’s best to be conservative with the salt.  The leaves shrink as they dessicate, and the salt taste can quickly become overpowering if you were too heavy-handed.

Remember, you can always add salt, but you can’t taketh away.

Bake on the middle rack, stirring them occasionally, until dry.  You will probably have to remove the smaller leaves before the thickest ones are done, otherwise they will burn.  It should take about 20 minutes to a half an hour.

I actually couldn’t resist tasting them as I checked on them, and didn’t finish baking them because they were just so good as is.  With some moisture still in the middle of the big ones, they tasted kind of like fennel fries rather than chips.

Delicious either way.

Baked veggie chips are also great with kale or chard–see here for the recipe.

Baking the chips was a really great way to make the strong anise taste of fennel a lot more mild.  You could still taste it, but it wasn’t overwhelming.

And yesterday I went apple picking with Fritz and some really lovely ladies:

We ate apple cider donuts, apple cider, and of course, tasted about a million apples on the orchard.  I plan on making apple butter using what we picked, but since I’ve never made it before I want need to find a recipe I like that doesn’t add pounds of sugar.  Any suggestions?

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Filed under Snacks

Hot and Spicy Nachos with a Cool Cilantro Sauce

As my test anxiety was building this week, I developed a very intense need for nachos.

A need for nachos.  Not just your average, “oh, I want nachos”, but a need for nachos.  You can’t ignore those kind of things.  When your body tells you that chips, beans, cheese, and chili powder must be in your belly in 15 minutes or you might die, you listen.

Just like when my body tells me I need to watch Christmas movies even though it’s the middle of June.  I listen and I listen well–and I’m currently watching The Family Stone.  (Please don’t judge me–times of high stress make me do weird things).

But back to the nachos.  I wanted to use up some more of my cilantro, so I decided to spice up my nachos and then cool it back down with a yogurt sauce.  Sound good?

And if you don’t like yogurt sauce, or if the smell/taste/look of cilantro makes you die a little bit inside (hi Fritz!), then you can just skip it.  Fritz enjoyed the nachos quite nicely without it.

Hot and Spicy Nachos with a Cool Cilantro Sauce

  • 8 small corn tortillas, sliced into quarters (or corn chips)
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1/4-1/2 C jalapeno slices (depending on how much you love your spice!)
  • 1/4-1/2 C Mexican cheese blend, shredded
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1/2 lemon (about 2 T lemon juice)
  • 1/4 C plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • small bunch cilantro (about 2-3 T chopped)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and arrange your corn chips.  Since I had tortillas in the freezer, I microwaved them for a few seconds, sliced ’em in quarters with a pizza roller, sprinkled with a little salt, and baked them until they were crispy, about 15 minutes.  Obviously you can skip this step if you have some chips handy.

These were vegetarian chips, so I used an entire can of refried beans, but you could easily use half or less and add some meat to make them more hearty.  Once the chips are crisp, add the beans on top.  (By the way, I’ve made refried beans from scratch before, and they didn’t quite taste as yummy as the good ol’ canned version.  Reason why?  Third ingredient on the canned kind is lard.  Yeah.  Maybe not so good.)

Sprinkle with jalapenos and cheese.  Be generous.  With both.

Sprinkle on the spices and pop in the oven for a few minutes until the beans are warmed and the cheese melted.

Meanwhile, process the yogurt, cilantro, and lemon juice (lime would probably be even better if you had it!) until smooth.  Drizzle over the top and enjoy!

We both love, love, loved this dinner treat of nachos.  I definitely would have eaten these with some spicy salsa on the side, but we didn’t have any and there was no way my tummy was allowing me to hold off on the nachos.

Experiment with the spices–if you are the hot and spicy type, some cayenne might be just the thing you need.  And if you haven’t already jumped on the smoked paprika bandwagon, now is the time.

Really.  That stuff is good.

In other good and exciting news, we got our fourth CSA box yesterday!  Check out the goods for this week:

I’ve had a lot of variety in my green monsters lately–using kale, chard, and beet greens instead of only plain ol’ spinach.  For those new readers, I am a first-time CSA user from Golden Earthworm Organic Farm on Long Island–read more about their CSA program here.

Plan for tomorrow–up early for the gym, then a doctor’s appointment and spending a large majority of the day reading (for pleasure!) and definitely baking!  I feel like I haven’t baked anything in ages and I absolutely miss having it around. 

Have a great night!

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Filed under Appetizers, Snacks, Vegetarian

Fig and Walnut Bars

I’m watching The Reader as I write this.  If you haven’t seen this movie yet (or read the book), I strongly suggest that you do so, even though it is a bit, ahem–uncomfortable at times.

Yesterday I went to a rehab hospital with my class and met several patients with different life-altering diagnoses such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, strokes, and other neurological disorders.  What really struck me is that every patient that we were introduced to were working at their therapy with positive, if not downright upbeat, attitudes.

These are patients with fairly new injuries that had a significant effect on their physical and mental functioning.  Even though the hospital was a really great one, I’m sure they’d rather be home or in their jobs like they were a few months ago than struggling to do basic tasks that only recently were so easy they were automatic.  I just can’t imagine the immense willpower it must take every day to pick oneself out of the deep sea of “why mes” and “what ifs” and just start focusing on needs to be done.

So kudos to the people who can do that–you are amazing and inspiring,

I brought some leftover fig and walnut bars for my friends and I to snack on while we were driving to and from the hospital.  They were definitely a welcome bite, since we were starving.

Fig and Walnut Bars (adapted from this recipe)

for the filling:

  • 8 oz dried figs, stems removed and cut into quarters
  • 1 T Lyle’s golden syrup (or honey)
  • 2 T water
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t ground ginger

for the crust:

  • 1 C whole-wheat flour
  • 1 C old-fashioned oats
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 6 T apple butter (or applesauce)
  • 1 flax egg (1 T ground flaxseed in 3 T warm water)
  • 2 T Lyle’s golden syrup (or honey)
  • 1 C toasted walnuts, for the top

To make the filling, combine all the ingredients (figs, syrup, water, lemon juice, and spices) into a food processor and combine until roughly smooth.  If a dash more water is necessary for it to form a paste, add it.

Set aside.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a square 9″ pan with canola oil.

In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, leaving out the toasted walnuts (to toast them, simply place them in the hot oven on a metal pan for five-eight minutes until browned).  Stir until a thick dough is formed.  You may need to add a bit more applesauce or water if it is too thick–it should be like a drop cookie dough.

Spread about three-quarters of the dough into the bottom of the pan and press it even.  Layer the fig filling on top (it should be a thin but even layer), and drop spoonfuls of the remaining oatmeal dough on top of the fig layer.  Spread the dough thinly and press the toasted walnuts into the mixture.

Bake on the middle rack for about 20 minutes, until the dough is browned.  It’s a bit difficult to tell with all the walnuts and layers, but it should be relatively firm to the touch.  Allow it to cool completely before slicing.

These are amazing–the fig center is sweet enough to make it taste like a dessert, even though the ingredients say otherwise.  With whole walnuts on top and a soft oatmeal “crust”, there are enough textures and flavors to make this a seriously satisfying snack.

A fig newton on (healthy) steroids.

I cut them into bars first, and then in half again into bites–mini snacks are just that much more appealing, don’t you think?

I’ve got a lot of school work to do this weekend, but never fear: the spring break countdown has finally begun!  On Friday, Fritz and I are headed to my parents’ house for an entire week, and I can. not. wait!

Kinda weird that I have to bring my baby tomato plants on a 6 1/2 hour drive, but a you gotta do what you gotta do.

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Filed under Desserts