Collard Green Chips

Potato Chips are always something that sound good to me in theory, but the moment I pop one into my mouth I am reminded that I really don’t much care for them. Isn’t that how a lot of cravings are? You crave pickles for their crispness and they just aren’t crunchy enough. You crave chocolate for their “velvety-ness” and they aren’t velvety enough. You crave a chick-flick and you didn’t cry hard enough. Ahem, *cough cough* who’s talking about chick-flicks?! But, really potato chips aren’t what they are cracked up to be, in my taste anyway. They are too heavy and rich and I can only eat about five and then I’m done, give me something else.

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My dad was raving about kale chips that one of his buddies at work was chowing down on. After a bit of searching online collard green chips was something that my mother had stumbled upon as a alternative to kale chips and sent my way. Apparently, kale is out of season right now? So, collard green chips it was, a healthy substitute for potato chips.

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Collard Green Chips

These chips were extremely easy to make! Only three ingredients needed; collard greens, olive oil and salt. When I put my first batch in the oven and had to turn the leaves I was met with a brussel sprout smell, which really turned me off for a moment. Brussel sprouts and I have a bad past. But, when I tried the end result I was pleased. I felt they tasted oddly like bagel chips. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

3-4 leaves collard greens
1 tsp olive oil
pinch of salt

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Wash the collard greens in cool water and pat dry
  2. Cut the greens from the thick stem
  3. Double what you just cut away from the stem and cut into square-like pieces
  4. Put the leaves into a large bowl. When all your leaves are cut toss with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and pinch of salt
  5. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Flip the leaves and bake for another 5 minutes. Don’t let them become yellow or brown, they will yield a bitter after taste. Not yum! Bake until they are just crispy. You will have to keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t yellow so don’t stray too far from the oven.

Enjoy!

Vanilla Puff Pastry Pillows

Something that we face daily while working in Puno, is trying to throw water on  smoldering superstitions.  It’s a hard line to define whether we should confront them or not because sometimes they are just silly/quirky beliefs and aren’t necessarily satanic in nature.  We had to confront a belief yesterday that had me literally flabbergasted!

This is Ella with Jesse, the new addition to this household for now.  One of our contacts is in pain and it’s believed that if you get a black puppy or bunny and put it next to where the pain is it will absorb the pain.  However, it only lasts for one day, and you need to kill it to get rid of the pain.  We went to see this contact the other day and she had a puppy on the bed and she told us her grandmother was going to kill it for the latter reason.  She told us we should take it home or she would die!!!!  So, she’s here for now, but we don’t know if she’s going to stay with us or if we will find another home for her.  Poor little thing, she’s got diarrhea and she is really malnourished.  Her back legs are pathetic and she has very little appetite.  Anyone got any suggestions?

On to a lighter topic, I finally made a dessert that is worth putting up.  Last week I made a custard and it turned out awful!  Even the neighbor’s dog wouldn’t eat it.  But, according to my friend Garren, this is the best thing I’ve made yet!

Mmmmm!  So delicious!

You have two routes you can take in embarking upon this recipe.  You have an easy route, and the route not for those light of heart in the kitchen.  You know, this kitchen is called handicapped for many reasons, one such reason would be the limitation of things I can buy in my local supermarket.  To make these tasty sensations, I had to make my own puff pastry by hand.

This is the second time I’ve tried my hand at puff pastry, and the second time round it’s really not that bad.  It takes three days to make, sure!  But, it’s not strenuous work.  If you are up for a challenge, I would say give it a go!

Vanilla Puff Pastry Pillows

Dough
My best advice if you are making this homemade is to go here.  It will tell you everything you need to know… except that instead of using butter, I had better results with margarine, it has to do with the melting temperature of butter and margarine.

Or you could just go to your local supermarket and buy some filo dough… cheater!

Cream

1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of
 salt
1 tbsp
 butter (melted)
large eggs
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla

In a medium sauce pan whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.  Then whisk in melted butter and eggs until it is well mixed.  Pour in the milk gradually and whisk as not to create any lumps.  Put over medium high heat and stir constantly bringing the mixture to a boil.  Once it begins to boil it will thicken to a custardy goop.  Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the vanilla.  Set aside to cool.

Puff Pillows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a muffin pan.  Roll out the dough until it’s rather thin.  About as thin as poster board, I suppose.  Cut the dough into 3″x3″ squares and place the squares into the muffin pan lining the bottom and allowing the corners to peak up the sides of each cup.  Put in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and slide out of the muffin pan.  Put the cream in a piping bag and pipe into the centers of the pastries when they are cooled.

That’s it!

Vanilla Kettle Corn

Youins up in Ohio, I hear, are getting quite a bit of snow!  How cold is it where you’re at?  I’m glad for you guys in Ohio though, with all your snow, even though I’m sure the majority of you are wishing to blow-torch all the neighborhood snowmen for a winter genocide.  Interesting piece of random etymology, because I’m that dork, genocide was coined in 1944 in reference to the Haulocaust.  Genos is greek for “race, kind” and –cide is latin for “cutter, killer, slayer.”  Try to think of all the words you know that end in -cide like, suicide (L sui– “of oneself”) homicide (L homo– “man”), felicide (L feli- “cat”), or even canicide (L cani- “dog”).  So interesting!  But, highly morbid too, so let’s talk about food.

That’s right!  Homemade kettle corn.  Usually, things that are made at home are a lot healthier.  That’s not the case here.  It may not have preservatives, but it’s certainly no diabetic’s best friend.

Vanilla Kettle Corn

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white/brown sugar
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1/2 tsp vanilla

Put the oil in a large pot and put it over medium heat.  Put two popcorn kernels in the oil.  Cover.  When they both pop you’ll know your oil is ready for the rest of the popcorn.

In a mixing bowl measure out the popcorn and sugar and vanilla, mix together.  When the two popcorn kernels pop, dump in the sugar, vanilla popcorn mix.  You will want to keep the pan moving or your sugar may burn and stick to the bottom, believe me, you don’t want this to happen.  If you’re thinking I’m speaking from experience… you get a gold star.  Keep the pot moving.  Remove from heat when the popping slows to 2 or 3 per second.  When off heat continue to move until popping completely stops.  Put the popcorn immediately into a popcorn bowl.  Don’t taste it yet, it is extremely hot.

Delicious!  You may have to fool around with the heat and what-not to make it work best for you.  Give it a try!

Dulce de Leche Brownies

Today was kind of a bummer day.  It’s just one thing that can put the bushel over your candle and snuff out what bit of positive light was left fizzling on the wick.  It wasn’t particularly a productive day, other than the house got really clean and the fridge thawed… which I hope is never as hard to do again as it was today.

We were supposed to meet with Leonor, this woman we met months ago.  It has been a long time since we’ve been able to sit down with her and do a Bible study, and that time has been extended even more.  She wasn’t home.

I’m glad that I had my friend Kristen there with me, yet I felt bad.  I drug Franci and Kristen out there with me so Leonor could meet some of the girls on our team, and it was a fluke.  So, we prayed and came back home.

It’s funny the things that can bring us back from a sour mood.  This is why I was glad Kristen came along tonight.  She was talking about how much she falls down, this amused me.  So, when I got home I ran to the computer with a grilled cheese sandwich and invited Kristen to join me in watching some America’s Funniest Home Videos on YouTube… specifically people falling.

I love watching people fall down!  Am I a masochist?  No… well, maybe.  There’s just something about watching people bodies flopping about.  I think that’s the concept that really makes me laugh… flopping.  If they had really been hurt I don’t think they would have sent their videos in to be laughed at… right?

So, now I’m listening to John Mayer… oh heavenly voices of heaven.  And I have this guy in my lap:

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Oh, Rocky.  You have helped soothe my soul.

And then, the reason you’re here of course, I made these last night:

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and I had a piece when I got home… I think this really topped it off.  In fact, I took just a few bites from the piece and hid the rest in my armoire because Micah’s in the living room and I’d have to share if he saw me here gnawing on heaven.  I’m just not ready for that.

Rocky just snotted on my wrist… yuck.  But, I’m sure it was loving snot… I’ll take that.

You have two questions to answer; What’s your favorite John Mayer song?  Mine is Stop this Train.  If you don’t have one… I am ashamed.  The other, what is your pet’s name and, well, what is it?!

Dolce de Leche Brownies
as adapted from David Lebovitz (my new muse)

Brownie Mix
1/2 cup salted or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 ounces (170g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup  unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
optional: 1 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped (yuck)

Dulce de Leche
1 can condensed milk…
1 pinch salt
(yea that’s it!)

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The best thing about these brownies is that there is no leavening product to be seen in the ingredients.  This makes these brownies the perfect candidate for anyone living at high altitudes.  The only thing you have to worry about is not over-whipping your eggs!

You’ll first want to work on the dulce de leche.  I found this nifty way of making it, Make Dulce de Leche but since our boiling point is at a lower heat it was not working as it should.  Plus, the man in the video knows nothing about Spanish… don’t pay him any attention.  Six hours later I decided to do it my way.

Much like brigadeiro (a brazilian chocolate truffle, which I should do a segment on soon) you cook down the condensed milk in a pan over low heat, with continuous movement.  So, I just dumped the condensed milk in a pan with a pinch of salt and over low heat let it simmer while stirring non-stop.  The milk turned into a beautiful bronze dolce de leche in 15 minutes.  You can do it which ever way you decided.  Set to the side.

Grease an 8×8 pan and dust with flour and preheat the oven for 350 degrees F.  Set the pan to the side.

Then, melt the butter in a medium cooking pot over low heat.  Then, break the chocolate into pieces (or chop it into pieces) and stir constantly.  Once all the chocolate is melted remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth.  Add in the eggs one at a time (if you’re at high altitude add 1 more tablespoon egg… so the white, if you’re in Puno at 12,000 ft add the whole egg).  Then, stir in the sugar, vanilla and flour (I always add 2 or 3 tbsps of flour at high altitude, it gives the cake mixture more structure and strength while it bakes).  Mix in the nuts if you’re going to ruin your brownies.

Pour half the batter into your pre-greased pan, spreading it evenly over the surface.  Then, plop, drip, drizzle, spread, whichever method you want to employ, just get half of the dulce de leche in there.  Use a knife or something to swirl it around so everyone gets an even bite of it.  Otherwise, your kids are going to be freaking out about who gets the piece with more dulce.  I’m just thinking of you!  Then, pour the rest of the batter over and spread evenly.  Then repeat above dolce de leche application.

Bake in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes.  Now, bake it until it’s firm in the middle.  Meaning, you can poke a toothpick in the center and it can come out still a tad goopy.  If you press the center of the brownie and it’s rather firm to the touch, it’s done.  Take it out and let cool.  Baking it like this will give you that nice gooey center everyone loves brownies for.  If you want to bake it more… I guess that’s your prerogative, but I’m going to label you as strange, and I hate labels so don’t make me do that.

Chocolate Dipped Banana Cake Balls (C.D.B.C.B.)

When you fall your supposed to pull yourself up and try again, right?  And the advice goes that even if you fall again you pull yourself up again.  One, I don’t like failing.  Two, if I fail I hate repeating something I feel should’ve worked the first time.  Baking at high altitudes is a great exercise for me in this department. 

A week ago I tried making Carrot Cake Rolls.  M-mmm.  It sounds good, right?  My inspiration was the classic Pumpkin Roll.  So, I found a Carrot Cake recipe and a Pumpkin Roll recipe and combined the two.  What happened?  I got a cookie sheet full of goop that didn’t set until an hour of baking (it should have only been 15 minutes). 

“What did you want to do, Trevor?” you ask.  I wanted to take the cookie sheet and chuck it out the front door hoping to catch a passing taxi in my baking-gone-wrong rage and bust out his window.  But, instead I slopped on the cream cheese frosting (which at this point I was feeling was a waste of good cream cheese) and rolled it up.  Later, everyone told me it wasn’t very pretty but it was the best thing I had made so far.  Can you imagine how upset I was?  Argh!

So, I decided to try it again, except this time instead of using carrot I would do a banana variation.  Mashed banana is similar to pumpkin puree, so I thought it might turn out better… nope.  It was practically identical the result.  This time I even adjusted the amount of flour, sugar, and leavening crap.  It got me nowhere.  So, looking at my kitchen towel with my sad excuse of a Banana Cake Roll with cream cheese oozing out everywhere, instead of getting upset and wishing doom on the 12,000 foot high city of Puno and all it’s residents, I threw it all in a bowl and mashed it together.  This is what it became. 

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I was really happy to have them turn out and actually hand them to somebody feeling proud of what I was giving them.  Cracked and brittle Carrot or Banana Cake Rolls are just not acceptable. 

Banana Ball Base

3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup mashed banana

The Binder

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese (room temp)
1 cup powdered sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter (softened)
1 tsp vanilla extract
———
1/2 cup oatmeal (if needed)

Chocolate … about 175 grams (or 6 oz) of bittersweet chocolate. 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and grease a pan… I think you could use a 9×9 pan just fine.  I used a cookie sheet, but that was when I was making a Banana Cake Roll… now you’re making C.D.B.C.B. 

Make the flour mixture by whisking together in a bowl all the dry ingredients except the sugar.  In your mixing bowl mix the eggs and sugar until thick then beat in the mashed banana.  Then stir in the flour mixture.  It’s fine if it’s still lumpy.  Then, pour into the pre-greased pan and put in the over for 15-20 minutes or until when pressed slightly with your finger the cake springs back. 

While baking prepare the cream cheese frosting.  In a mixing bowl blend together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add the vanilla extract and then gradually add the powdered sugar. 

When the cake is cooked turn out, scoop out, or whatever, just get it out of the pan into a bowl and mix it together with the cream cheese frosting and also, at this point, dump in the 1/2 cup oatmeal as a further bonding agent.  If you feel the cake and cream cheese frosting will bind together fine without the oatmeal then leave it out.

Melt the 6 oz of chocolate over simmering water.  Here’s a link that can give you further advice on how to melt your chocolate correctly.  Melting Chocolate.     

Once your chocolate is ready spoon out some of the “dough” you now have and roll it into a ball with your hands.  Stick it on the end of a fork and dip it into the chocolate only covering the bottom part… if you want to cover the whole thing with chocolate you’ll just need more chocolate.  Then place on a baking sheet covered with plastic wrap.  Once you’ve got your pan full place in the freezer for a couple hours and voila!  You’ve got my mistake made delicious.

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Cinnamon Bread Twists

I think I may have mentioned this in the past, but I love Mondays.  Now, I can already hear the grumbling coming from the Northern Hemisphere, but this is my day off.  And it’s such a beautiful day.  It’s the only day that I do not leave the house.  Seriously, I don’t step a foot out the house.  My hair stays a comfortable rat’s nest, my contacts have an extra day to sleep in their solution watery bed, and a blanket is carried around my shoulders wherever I go in the house.  Sigh.  It’s true bliss.

Another part of my Mondays that I love, that involves you, is that I write my new blog posts!  For this very reason your grumbles about Mondays should turn to giddy shrieks and playful dances.  Mondays are a blessed day. 

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These are the pretty, pretty, twisty, yummy cinnamon sticks you’ll make this week, right?  They are pretty simple to make also!  Yummmmm

Cinnamon Bread Twists

Bread Twists
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups warm buttermilk
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
6 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Glaze
2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoon hot water

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NOTE: Warm buttermilk looks curdled… that’s normal.
NOTE: These go really well with coffee too.
NOTE: You’re going to love these and maybe eat them all by yourself.

In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in the 1/2 cup warm water and let sit 5 minutes or until the yeast is foamy.  (If you want to learn about yeast go to my last post).  Then add the buttermilk, butter, sugar, eggs, salt and baking soda and mix well.  I used a fork to cut in the butter. 

Stir in the flour bit by bit until a soft dough is formed and then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.  Put the dough in a bowl and let rise for 1-1/2 hours in a warm place. 

When the dough has risen double it’s original size punch it down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half.  Roll out each half into a 16”x9” rectangle.  Brush the melted butter on the dough leaving about a half inch untouched along the side that measures 16”.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture overtop and press down with the palm of your hand lightly.  This is just to secure the sugar on the dough and make sure it’s sticking.  Fold the dough in half lengthwise.  Your dough will now be 16”x 4 1/2”.  Along the 16” side pinch the dough to seal the edge.  Then cut into 4 1/2×1” rectangles.  Each strip you cut, twist two or three times and set on a pre-greased cookie sheet.  Cover and let rise 30 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.  While cooling mix the glaze ingredients and then spoon over the warm twists.

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That’s right… so easy, so yummy.

Pie Tarts: What to Do With Extra Crust

I made these tarts about a week ago and haven’t had the time to put up the post until now.  I don’t actually know what to classify them as, because they technically are not tarts.  Buuuuut, since that’s what my mom always called them, that’s what they are.  So, there.

I hate wasting pie scraps… even when cookie recipes call for not rolling out the dough twice, I do not listen.  So, make these after your next pie!  OR, you can be as irrational as I and just cut the pie dough recipe you use regularly in half and make a whole big batch! They really are just that good.

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Buttermilk Pie Dough (already cut in half)

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup shortening/butter
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup buttermilk (cold cold cold cold)

Follow the directions for mixing the pie dough from this post.

Tart Filling

maybe 1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
(that’s it! SOOOO EASY!)
Note: this recipe is not exact.  It’s more like… “Well, that looks like enough sugar” or “Gee, I think I’ll have to give this to the dog.”  Especially if you are using your scraps, then you won’t have to use as much for the filling.

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Preheat your oven to 350F.  Divide your pie dough into three parts.  Roll out your pie dough.  It’s probably not as necessary to let your pie dough chill as long as the recipe says for this little project if you’re only making the tarts minus the pie.  Do your best to roll the dough out into a long rectangle.  You want to roll everything up when you’re done length-wise, so keep that in mind.

Once your dough is rolled out nice and thin then, spread on enough butter.  Enough to make you think future heart problems but NOT instant heart attack.  Okay?  Then sprinkle brown sugar over top, enough to hide all that frightening butter.  THEN, shake on some cinnamon, enough to almost cover all the sugar.  Cinnamon is dangerous.  You can go overboard.

Then, carefully, pull up one side of the pie dough with your fingers and start to roll everything up into a long tube.  Remember, to do this length-wise, so you don’t have super fat tarts, but rather a long roll.  Then, cut up the roll into about one inch rolls.

Put foil over a cookie-sheet and then arrange the tarts on it.  Put in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the dough feels firm to the touch OR until the sugar starts to turn a deeeeeep brown almost black.  I like to let my sugar and butter caramelize almost to the point of burning.  It makes for a AWESOME crunchy layer on the bottom!

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Make some coffee, sit down with a book and eat eat eat eat eat!  You won’t be able to stop.
-Trev