Kale Chips

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I tried making kale chips several years ago and they turned out terribly. They were so bad that I haven’t bothered trying to make them again until recently. My oldest son has been taking a cooking class and a few weeks ago they made kale chips. They were wonderful. I decided to try making them again, this time using the recipe from his cooking class. They turned out perfectly. Yay!

Last week I got a huge bunch of mustard greens in my CSA box. I made mustard greens chips using the kale chips recipe. They turned out well too. I also tried making chips with collard greens. They were fantastic. I liked them better than the mustard greens chips.

Kale Chips

1 bunch of kale (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350° F. Make sure the oven rack is positioned in the middle of the oven.

Wash the kale and remove the stems. Tear into bite-size pieces. Spin dry in a salad spinner. Blot any remaining moisture away with paper towels.

In a large bowl, toss the kale with olive oil until thoroughly coated. You may need to use your hands to make sure every piece is coated. Sprinkle kale with salt. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Bake until the chips are crispy, about 15 – 20 minutes (mine were perfect at 18 minutes). Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. Stir the kale chips about halfway through cooking to make sure they bake evenly. Remove chips from the oven and let cool a few minutes before serving. Store leftovers in an air-tight container.

Here are the mustard greens chips:

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CSA Box Week # 3 and Pickled Mustard Greens

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In this week’s CSA box I got spring onions, diakon radishes, mustard greens, collard greens, mesclun salad mix, red fire leaf lettuce, broccoli, and buttercrunch lettuce. The average temperatures in South Carolina this year have been slightly below the norm, so the cool weather vegetables continue to roll in.

One of the things I like best about getting CSA boxes is that they often contain vegetables that I normally do not buy.  I rarely buy mustard greens. I am not sure why, because I actually like them a lot. They are just a vegetable I do not think to use often. I got such a large bunch of mustard greens this week that I will be able to make 2 or 3 different recipes with them.  I have never pickled greens before, but I know it is often done in Asian countries. Pickled greens are often accompaniments to spicy dishes, especially grilled meats. In Thailand, pickled mustard greens are often served with Khao Soi. I love Khao Soi and have two versions on this blog. Find a beef version here and a chicken version here.

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Pickled Mustard Greens

1 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/8 cup white vinegar
mustard greens
serrano chile, stem removed and split lengthwise

In a small saucepan, combine water, sugar, salt, and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir to make sure the sugar and salt are dissolved, then remove from heat. Cool slightly.

Trim stems off of washed mustard greens. Coarsely chop enough greens to fill a 1-pint Mason jar.

Pack the greens and serrano chile into a clean glass 1-pint Mason jar. Pour the hot liquid over the greens, making sure that they are completely submerged. Screw on the lid and refrigerate for at least 3 days before serving.


Gluten-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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This is my first attempt at gluten-free oatmeal cookies. Oh my goodness, they are good. My family ate them and didn’t even realize they were gluten-free.

I’m always thinking of ways I can tweak recipes to make them better. I think I can get away with using a bit less sugar in these, so next time I will try them with 3/4 cup of sugar instead of the full cup. A mix of brown sugar and white sugar would probably work as well (or coconut sugar). If you wanted to make oatmeal raisin cookies, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon and substitute 1 cup of raisins for the chocolate chips..

Gluten-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup of chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the eggs and beat until fluffy. Next, beat in the vanilla.

Mix in the coconut flour, salt, and baking soda. Next, add the oats. Once everything is throughly combined, stir in the chocolate chips.

With your hands, form the dough into 1-inch balls and place on a baking sheet. These cookies will not spread much while baking, so flatten each cookie slightly with your hands or the bottom of a glass.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 – 15 minutes. I like crunchier cookies, so I cooked them for 15 minutes (they were still soft in the middle). Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Glazed Baby Turnips on a Bed of Turnip Greens

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This past week I got a bunch of baby turnips (with the greens)  in my CSA box. In the past I have pickled turnips and have used them in soups. This time, I wanted to try something new. I prepared the glazed baby turnips and the greens seperately and then served them together. I loved the sweetness of the glazed baby turnips contrasted with the salty and slightly bitter taste of the greens. Oh, I will be doing this again!

Glazed Baby Turnips on a Bed of Turnip Greens

1 pound baby turnips with greens
water
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar
salt

Cut green tops off of the turnips. Trim ends of the turnips and rinse well. Remove stems from the greens and rinse well.

Cut cleaned greens into 1-inch lengths and place in a pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes. Just before serving, drain the tender turnip greens in a colander, place on a serving plate, and place the glazed baby turnips on top.

Meanwhile, cut trimmed baby turnips into fourths. Place in an even layer in a skillet and add enough water to reach halfway up the layer of turnips. Next, add the sugar, salt and butter. Bring the turnips to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, until the turnips are tender and the water has evaporated, about 10 – 15 minutes. Once the water is evaporated, continue to saute the turnips until they become golden brown. This will take a few more minutes. Once golden, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water to the pan to create a glaze. Serve the glazed turnips over the turnip greens.

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Stir-fried Bok Choy and Broccoli with Chicken

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I created this stir-fry to use the bok choy and broccoli I got in my Pinckney’s Produce CSA box. I could not be happier with the way this dish turned out.  So good!!

Stir-fried Bok Choy and Broccoli with Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced
1 large onion, slivered
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 head bok choy, end removed, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 small head broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets, stems peeled and sliced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I used baby portobellos)

sauce:
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice (cooking) wine
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Prepare the ingredients before starting to cook. Once everything is ready, this stir-fry comes together fairly quickly.

In a small bowl, combine the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, Chinese rice wine, sugar, and 1/2 cup water. Set sauce aside.

Heat a wok over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and then add the sliced chicken breast. Stir-fry until the chicken is no longer pink. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil to the wok and then add the onions, garlic, bok choy, and broccoli. Stir-fry until onions start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook another minute. Add the prepared sauce and chicken and let cook on high, stiring often, until the broccoli is tender, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with enough water to make a slurry. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and cook until sauce is thickened. Serve with hot brown rice.

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CSA Week One and a Buttercrunch Lettuce Salad with Strawberries and Spring Onions

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Doesn’t that box of produce look amazing? My 3 year old could not wait to get his hands on those awesome strawberries.

I joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) this season and for 12 weeks I will get a box each week filled seasonal vegetables and fruits. The produce in each weekly box is grown within 2 hours of my home and picked within 48 hours of me getting it. Plus, the money I pay for the produce goes directly to the farmer. How awesome is that?

Today was the beginning of the season and I picked up my first CSA box at a location about 5 minutes from my home. I was super excited.

My box included:

2 heads of buttercrunch lettuce
1 head of romaine lettuce
1 bunch of spinach
1 bunch of arugula
broccoli
strawberries
1 bunch of collard greens
1 stalk of bok choy
1 large bunch of spring onions

What am I going to cook with all these interesting veggies? Well, tonight I made a nice salad with the buttercrunch lettuce, strawberries, and spring onions. It was wonderful!

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Buttercrunch Salad with Strawberries and Spring Onions

adjust amounts according to your needs

buttercrunch lettuce, washed, spun dry, and torn into bite-size pieces
fresh strawberries, washed, dried, and sliced
spring onions, washed, ends trimmed, and thinly sliced
pecan pieces (or almonds)
bleu cheese crumbles (or goat cheese)

Dressing:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup oil (canola is fine)

To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a Mason jar. Screw on lid and shake until combined.

Place torn buttercrunch lettuce in a serving bowl. Top with sliced strawberries, spring onions, pecan pieces (or almonds), and bleu cheese (or goat cheese) crumbles. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing and serve.

I can’t wait for my next CSA box!

If you are in South Carolina and are interested in joining a CSA, check into Pinckney’s Produce – http://pinckneysproduce.com/

Here is a similar salad made with spinach, spring onions, strawberries, goat cheese crumbles, and poppyseed dressing:

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Food Bloggers Against Hunger

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Today I am donating my post to raise awareness of food insecurity for MILLIONS of people in the United States, along with a call for letters to Congress to protect supplemental food assistance programs from proposed funding cuts.

In the United States, millions of families rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (the federal food stamp program) for their food. SNAP participants are allotted about $4 a day per person. It is not easy to live on $4 a day. and as a result millions of people (mostly children) are undernourished.

In our country, processed foods are cheaper than fruits, vegetables, and more wholesome foods. Unfortunately, SNAP participants and low-income families often do not eat as healthfully as they can and the result is an epidemic of people who are obese AND malnourished.

I grew up in a food insecure home. Our cupboards were often empty. Sometime dinner was just a loaf of bread and some white gravy or a pot of lima beans. Although I do not remember ever being hungry as a child, I seem to have emotional scars. I get extremely nervous now if my pantry is not well stocked. My husband would probably say that I hoard food. Fortunately, my husband, children, and I are not going hungry. I am a stay-at-home mom, so as a one-income family we have to budget for groceries. I budget $125 a week for groceries and additional supplies (diapers, cleaning supplies, hygiene products, paper goods, cat products, and wine). I know it is possible to eat healthfully on a smaller budget.

The key to stretching my food budget is planning a weekly (mostly vegetarian) menu based on grocery sales and using coupons.  Websites like www.southernsavers.com make matching grocery store sales with coupons easier. I am not an extreme couponer but I am able to save an average of $80 a week matching coupons with sales. With that kind of savings, I am able to incorporate more organics, fruits, and vegetables into our diet.

As an example of how well one can eat on a budget, here is a typical weekly menu that includes 3 meals and a snack for each day.:

Monday

Breakfast: cereal with milk
Lunch:   Super Ramen
Dinner: Veggie Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce, Los Tios Mexican Rice and Black Beans
Snack: Apples

Tuesday

Breakfast:  Fruit Smoothies
Lunch:  Burritos with leftover rice and beans, salsa
Dinner:  Baked Potatoes with Broccoli and Cheese
Snack: Popcorn

Wednesday

Breakfast: Huevos Rancheros
Lunch:  Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Dinner: Pasta with corn, squash, and onions
Snacks: Tortilla chips and salsa

Thursday

Breakfast: Cereal with Milk
Lunch: Sopa Ranchera
Dinner: Stir fry veggies with rice
Snacks: Pears

Friday

Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: Asian Vegetable Soup (using leftover stir fry)
Dinner: Wraps with hummus and Greek Salad
Snacks: Popcorn

Saturday

Breakfast: Eggs and Fried Potatoes
Lunch: Black Bean Nachos
Dinner: Spaghetti and sauce, salad
Snacks:  Bananas

Sunday

Breakfast:  Cereal with Milk
Lunch: Grilled Cheese sandwiches
Dinner:  Baked chicken with Mustard Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, and zucchini and corn saute
Snacks: Celery with Peanut Butter

Aside from pantry staples (mustard, olive oil, spices, salt, and sugar ) I spent about $89.90 plus tax (about $.80) for the ingredients for this week’s worth of healthy food. That equals about $3.21 per day per person for my family of four.

You can eat well on a small budget.

Here is the grocery list (complete with prices) for the menu:

Organic Milk – 2 gallons – $5.99 each – $11.98
Cereal – Cinnamon Apple Cheerios  – on sale and used coupon – $1.50
2 Organic Yogurts – 6 ounces –  on sale – $.66 each – $1.32
Cheddar Cheese (shreds) – Sargento – on sale and used coupon – $1.95
Potatoes – 5 pounds – $3.99
Onions – 3 pounds – sweet – $3.49
2 Bell Peppers – $1.59
2 Cans (15 ounces) Diced Tomatoes – on sale and used coupons – $.19 each – $.38
Tomato Paste – $.33
4 Jalapenos – .26 pound @$2.29 per pound – $.60
Cilantro – $.99
Broccoli – on sale – $2.00
Green Cabbage – 3.06 pounds @ $.59 per pound – $1.81
Celery – $1.69
Organic Carrots – 1 pound – $1.29
Zucchini – 3 pounds @ $1.29 per pound – $3.87
Cucumber – $.59
Grape Tomatoes – pint – $2.00
Lettuce – $1.99
Lime – $.25
Garlic – $.84
4 Apples – Fuji – 1.34 pounds @ $1.29 per pound – $1.73
4 Pears – Bartlett – 1.70 pounds @ $1.29 per pound – $2.19
4 Bananas – 1.34 pounds @$.69 per pound – $.92
Frozen Strawberries – 1 pound – on sale – $1.69
Frozen Corn – on sale – $.99
Frozen Spinach – on sale – $1.29
Frozen Pancakes – on sale – $1.64
Syrup – Log Cabin – on sale – $1.94
Chicken Breasts – on sale – 1.24 pounds @ $2.99 per pound – $3.71
Peanut Butter – Peter Pan – on sale – $1.74
Bread – Nature’s Own Butterbread – on sale – $1.27
Corn tortillas – $1.89
Flour Tortillas -10 pack –  $1.59
Tortilla Chips – Tostitos – Party Size – on sale –  $2.49
Dried Black Beans – 1 pound – $1.69
Dried Garbanzos – 1 pound – $1.59
Rice – 1 pound – $.99
4 Packages Ramen – @.$20 each – $.80
Organic Eggs – $4.29
2 Packages Pasta – Barilla – on sale – 2 for $1.49
Popcorn – Orville Redenbacher kernels – on sale – $2.42
Butter – on sale – $2.50
Vegetable Bouillon – Knorr’s – $1.59
Juice – Juicy Juice – 64 ounces – on sale – $1.77
Green Tea – Luzianne – on sale $1.24

Grand Total – $89.90 plus tax (about $.80)!!

CALL TO ACTION

Government budget cuts threaten food assistance programs like SNAP, as well as WIC and school lunch programs. Cuts to these programs will make the problem of hunger in the United States worse. Please take 30 seconds to contact Congress and ask them to support anti-hunger legislation. It is super easy. Click this link to get started.

FOR MORE ON THIS ISSUE

Food Bloggers Against Hunger was created as a response to Participant Media’s 2013 documentary A Place at the Table. http://www.magpictures.com/aplaceatthetable/.  Check your local listings to see if the film is playing in your area. It is also available for download at iTunes and Amazon.

Websites

Share Our Strength http://www.nokidhungry.org/

The Giving Table http://www.givingtable.org/