Monday, May 25, 2015

Kale Chips


     The first time I had kale chips was at my friend Beth Dykema's house. My daughter Emily and I were over there, and Beth was in the process of dehydrating a batch. She allowed Emmie and me to sample this strange snack, and it took us both a great deal of self-control not to inhale the entire thing! I insisted that she tell me what she had on those things that made them so cheesy-flavored and wonderful. To my surprise, there was no cheese at all. The ingredients that made hers so delicious included these star players: ground cashews and yeast flakes. I must have made her explain the process to me a dozen times!  I stopped at "God's Green Acres" health food store in Summerville on the way home for the yeast flakes (the price tag on my bottle was $6.39) and then bought a couple bags of kale and some cashews before heading home to experiment for myself. Since then (that was a couple of years ago), we have tried a variety of seasonings (even the Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning- it was a little too salty for us), and the one below is our favorite combination. I cannot keep my husband out of this stuff and it seems that whenever I am ready to empty the dehydrator into a bowl, half of the kale is already gone (Okay, I snitch it too)! When I know Scott will be off from work, I begin a batch in the morning for an evening snack.

a large bag of kale
yeast flakes (this is very different from the traditional yeast used in bread products)
garlic powder
onion powder
cumin (tastes like chili)
olive oil

recommended equipment:
food processor

 Two unusual, but highly flavorful ingredients

First, I wash and de-stem the kale. I use one of my favorite kitchen items - turkey roasting pans!

 After the kale is rinsed, I toss them into some olive oil to make the flavors stick.
Then, I grind a few handfuls of the cashews in the mini food processor and mix them into the kale.
 I sprinkle a generous helping of the yeast flakes and mix as well.
 Finally, I sprinkle in some garlic powder, onion  powder, cumin, and salt for a little zest.
 Layer the kale into your dehydrator
 (and yes, some folks just dry this stuff in their ovens on cookie sheets).
 Pour the extra liquid from the bottom over the top of the kale to get all the flavor!
Run the dehydrator for several hours until the kale is dry and crunchy. You can store it in a container, but it is best a little warm right out of the machine. If it gets a little limp from the humidity, you can always pop it back into the dehydrator to crisp it up again. Another tip: Check your teeth after eating for little green hitchhikers!
Caught ya!

Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.  I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. Genesis 9:3


Fast and Easy Chicken Parmesan

By cutting the chicken patties in half, there are enough remaining patties for another duplicate meal. This is plenty of food for a serving (especially with bread and a salad).
     Like me, you probably have a lot of "staple" recipes that you know your family enjoys and fits into your budget. Sometimes, however, I like to tweak things a little to keep it interesting, or in this case, save money. Pasta dishes are so simple and inexpensive that I know we eat them at least twice a month. Chicken Parmesan may sound a little fancy, and it can be if you want it to be (if you make it from scratch), but here is a quick and easy trick that will fill up your kiddos for less money. Because ground beef has been so pricey lately; inexpensive, breaded chicken patties are a replacement the kids really like.

I found the Tyson chicken patties at Wal-Mart for under $5.00. After baking the patties in the oven, I removed the baking sheet, cut the patties in half (to multiply for a leftover dinner), topped them with a little handful of leftover shredded mozzarella and then popped them back into the oven to melt the cheese. Make a basic spaghetti dish. Lay a patty on top of each person's spaghetti and top with sauce and some Parmesan cheese. A salad and garlic bread make it even more complete! Replace the breaded patties with a nonbreaded version to reduce calories.

"Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them."
Luke 12:37


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Frogmore Stew

     One of our favorite meals here at the Wand house is Frogmore Stew. It is also referred to as Lowcountry Boil or Beaufort Stew. It originated in a small little town named Frogmore (Beaufort County) on St. Helena Island off the South Carolina coast. There are no frogs in this dish (although I have teased that there were at one time or another to each one of my kiddos!). It is easy to make and fun to eat. Most South Carolinians eat this "stew" (which really isn't) dumped out onto a newspaper-covered picnic table. My first experience was at a party where two huge coolers filled with this stuff were carried out by the hosts, and the guests scooped out their servings with a huge ladle. As a Polish girl who grew up on kielbasa, this is a great way to serve it another way. When I find shrimp on sale, this recipe is a great way to "multiply" its impact. I'd LOVE to add more shrimp to this version - but it is a wee bit expensive for us. If you aren't serving as many people or have a shrimper in the family, make the shrimp the star and add more! Some folks also add crab or crawfish to the party as well. I make this with a cornbread cake and serve it with sweetened iced tea.The ingredients I use to serve our family of seven twice are relatively simple:

A five pound bag of red potatoes
3 standard packages of kielbasa
7-8 ears of corn
2 (12 oz.) bags of large raw, frozen or fresh shrimp (peeled or unpeeled)

3 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning

You may also want to have:
cocktail sauce and lemons for the shrimp
butter and salt for the corn and potatoes
mustard for the kielbasa

cornbread muffins or johnny cake (see recipe at the end of this rice dish post)

*I often purchase a couple of extra turkey roasting pans I can wash and reuse for meals like this.  I also love to use this type of container for serving a large salad to my family. It is so much easier to toss and mix items in a large container with more surface area! Also, if you don't have a huge stew pot in which to boil everything together in this dish, you can easily boil the items in separate, smaller pots, and them add them together at the end.

 First, I baked my johnny cake.  It is cooling under the container in which I will serve the stew.  We cool all cake-like products with a cover to keep the moisture from evaporating while it cools.  This makes a much moister cake!  We also do this with dessert cake and cupcakes!

 The cornbread (johnny cake) I just removed from the oven (before I relocated it and covered it) hangs out with a pot of washed and halved red potatoes that are just beginning to boil.

You can use frozen or fresh corn on the cob. I bought this corn fresh when it was on sale. I husked and broke the cobs in half, blanched them for ten minutes, and then froze them for a day like this.
 Boil the potatoes until you are able to barely stick a fork into one of them. Add the corn on the cob and bring to another boil. I usually dump in the corn while it is still frozen. Let it boil for about 20-30 minutes until the corn is done. This is ready for the kielbasa!
I usually add about three tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning at this point. Some folks like a whole lot more than this and some don't like any.
               Three packages of standard kielbasa.  I usually get this brand or Hickory Farms.
                           Cut the sausage into large chunks. I add the sausage to the pot    
                           as soon as the corn is ready.
After the sausage cooks for five minutes, I add the shrimp. This is still frozen, so it will take about 7 minutes. Thawed shrimp won't take as long. When the shrimp turns pink and no longer looks translucent, drain in a large colander and serve! This particular shrimp has "split" easy-to-remove shells. I usually use the kind without shells, but this is what was on sale.

It is best to show pictures of this meal at the beginning rather than the end of the meal. Corn cobs, shrimp shells, and messy fingers aren't too pretty!

                                      And, yes, there is still enough left for dinner tonight!

The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.
Proverbs 13:14:1