all hail kale!

Kale is a fantastic source of calcium. It actually contains more calcium per calorie than milk and its more readily absorbed by the body than dairy. Kale is loaded with vitamins A, C & K, folic acid, vitamin B6, lutein, and potassium. All of which play a key role in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease, lowering cholesterol and keeping your body in tip-top shape. Kale has natural anti-inflammatory properties, it contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, one serving contains 5% of your daily fiber requirement and it’s high in both iron and protein. Quite the laundry list don’t ya think?

I happen to love all leafy greens, including kale, and I eat them nearly every day. My family on the other hand draws the acceptable vegetable line at greens. My husband will sigh and grimace a bit but usually ends up eating whatever I make, but not my kids. No kale, no spinach, no collard greens. No way. No how. Not ever. And then along came kale chips…

If you haven’t had kale chips before then let me try to describe them for you. They’re crispy bite size bits of kale that are a little bit salty, a little bit oily, oddly delicious and totally weird at the same time. They’re absolutely addicting and before you can decide if you really like them or not, the batch will be gone! The first time I made kale chips my 8-year-old devoured three-quarters of the batch and immediately requested that I make more. “You want more what…kale?!? You got it kid!”

Kale chips…the key to longevity (or at least healthy snacking)!

Kale Chips
You can make these simply with just salt and olive oil, or get crazy with garlic, curry, and chili powder or any other spices that float your boat.

kale chip2

Small bunch curly kale
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. pink salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika

  1. Preheat oven 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Rise the kale and remove leaves from tough center stem. Tear the leaves into bit size pieces, spread out on a dish towel and blot as dry as possible.
  3. Place the dry leaves in a large bowl. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the salt and spices. One by one use your fingers to spread the oil and spices on the front and back of each leaf. Lay the oiled leaves in the prepared baking sheet in a fairly even layer. (You may need to make to work in batches.)
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the kale is crispy and just beginning to brown on the edges.
  5. Gently pry off the parchment paper and enjoy (or not).
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No, I Haven’t Cracked Up!

With Christmas right around the corner I’ve been giving some serious thought to my holiday menu. We usually have some type of beef roast for our Christmas Eve dinner, (yes I know, how very un-Italian of me) and this year it will be a tenderloin with horseradish-blue cheese sauce on the side. I’m thinking of serving it along with creamed spinach, roasted carrots and parsnips, baked artichokes and simple mashed sweet potatoes. (Stop snickering those of you who know I have a history with holiday potatoes— this year they will be fully cooked!)

Whenever we entertain I like to start with an array of yummy appetizers; some made from scratch and some lovingly doctored up store bought. I always serve shrimp cocktail, some veggies with dip (hummus, baked spinach & artichoke, pesto-yogurt) perhaps a soup and some delicious cheese and crackers. But I’m not talking about any old crackers, oh no no! I’m talking about homemade cheddar crackers.

I know what you’re thinking, “What kind of crazy person makes crackers rather than just buying a box?” Even my husband gave me a look of exasperation the first time I announced I was making crackers. Now he says to me in the most nonchalant way, “So when do you think you’re going to make those crackers again?” These lovely and effortless little crackers could seriously be the most tasty thing to have ever come out of my oven. The dough comes together in a matter of minutes and it’s crazy easy to work with. So easy in fact that than even my kids are able to roll out and cut their own crackers. (But only after squabbling over who’s turn it is with the rolling pin and who had the star cookie cutter first. Sigh… kids.)

Easy, delicious and engaging for all— that’s a Jan Greco recipe trifecta!

Cheddar Snaps
Sometimes I make these crackers large enough to support a slice of cheese or dollop of dip, sometimes I make them snack size and sometimes I even make them goldfish size. No matter the shape or size they’re delicious! 

crackers

2 cups finely grated sharp Cheddar cheese
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Put all the ingredients except the milk into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the processor until the dough resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Add the milk and process until the dough gathers together into a ball.
  4. Lightly flour a cutting board and pat the ball of dough into a circle. Use a rolling pin to flatten it out the rest of the way, roughly an 1/8 of an inch thick.
  5. Cut the dough into shapes using a cookie cutter of your choice. Place the crackers on a baking sheet and use a fork to poke a series of holes in the top of each cracker.
  6. Bake for 12–15 minutes, until the edges are just starting to brown.
  7. Cool the crackers on a rack and devour along some tasty cheese, soup or just by the handful.

* adapted from rural housewife