Playdates with God: Kale Chips

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I still have one little patch of kale in my garden, believe it or not. The rest of the bed has been put to sleep, covered in a blanket of leaves, but my kale loves these cooler temperatures. Sunday morning I awakened early to make Teddy some biscuits and bacon (did I mention Teddy is home?) and discovered the magic of the first morning snow. It didn’t amount to much, but it made a lovely entrance into Thanksgiving week. In the midst of that gentle snow shower, I picked some kale to sauté in with my morning egg scramble. Late November and we’re still eating fresh greens. Ain’t that something?

In the afternoon I made some kale chips to snack on while the boys are home this week. Kale is one of those so-called “super-foods,” packed with so much healthy goodness it feels wrong to call these little goodies “chips.” Even my boys love them, and they can be slightly addictive. They are a bit labor intensive, but well worth the effort! Here’s how I make my kale chips.

You will need:

A bunch of kale, cleaned and dried (a lot of recipes say to cut out the stem and tear the leaves into small pieces, but I like to keep mine whole, sometimes folding the leaf over to make a thicker chip).

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kosher salt
cracked pepper
other seasoning you like (sometimes I use a cajun spice or garlic powder for something different)
olive oil

Preaheat oven to 275 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the kale with olive oil until coated.

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Place the leaves in a single layer on baking sheets (sometimes I’ve used parchment paper, which absorbs the extra olive oil and makes things neater, but its not necessary).

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Sprinkle with salt and pepper or other seasoning. Bake for twenty minutes or until crisp. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Enjoy!

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These little buggers are delicate, that’s why I sometimes fold them over to make them thicker. But I love the fragile crisp. Teddy says that’s why they’re addictive, because they’re so light you can’t stop eating them. How about you? What are your favorite homemade snacks to enjoy during the holidays?

Every Monday I share one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find God and know joy. Click on the button below to add your link. I try to visit a few of your stories every week, so if you are a new visitor, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can welcome you. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us.

 

Laura Boggess

31 Days of the Almost Empty Nest: Dinner for Two

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Our grocery bill is changing. Even though we still have one hungry teenage boy at home, he’s away from home a lot, and so dinner with the three of us has become that rare treat. So, we’ve gone from feeding this four-person family with two hungry young men, to me and Jeff—staring at each other across the table most nights.

It’s a tricky thing, cooking for two. Have you tried it? I’ll admit we’ve been struggling. I ran into my friend Cindy at Kroger the other day. We were catching up on what the other’s kids are up to, enjoying blocking the aisle, when I realized, she and her husband are empty nesters! Not almost-empty, but completely, run-around-the-house-naked empty. When I pointed this out (not the naked part but the empty part), Cindy grinned from ear to ear. I wondered aloud what they do for dinner (see how my mind works? It’s always food first). She laughed and said she rarely cooks anymore. Most nights, they order out.

Order out? It sounded fun and exciting. Honestly? We have been eating out more. Not much, mind you, Jeff doesn’t care for crowds. But there is a quaint little beer bar close by that we stop at once in a while. They serve Mediterranean fair there, and various pub grub. It’s nice to, on a whim, be able to pick up and go without having to worry about fixing someone’s dinner. One of the first times we ate there, we ordered what Jeff calls a “poo-poo” platter. It was an appetizer sampler, with hummus and warm pita, veggies for dipping, olives, etc. It was the perfect light dinner.

So my husband. He never misses a chance to woo me. One evening, shortly after the poo-poo platter date, he came home from the grocery story with a stock of gourmet meats and cheeses, crackers, hummus and pita, and assorted olives. We made our own poo-poo platter and ate on the back deck, listening to the song of the crickets, and watching the stars appear one by one.

It was terribly romantic. And now it’s become a regular thing. Fun. And exciting.

What are some of your favorite light dinner plans?

Don’t forget to leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a cool giveaway. This post is part of my 31 Days of the Almost Empty Nest series. I’m writing in community with the thirty-one dayers. Women all over the world are joining together in the month of October to write every day about something they’re passionate about. Check out some of the other writers here. So much good stuff. To read my first post, with links to all the days, go here. 

Almost Empty

Some of Our Favorite Holiday Treats

Are you having a party this weekend? Or attending one? Here are a few of our favorite foodstuffs for the season.

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  • Looking for a last minute food theme? Jeff and I love to feast it up New Orleans style. On the menu? I make a big pot of gumbo (here is my favorite crock-pot recipe, from Better Homes and Gardens. It saves a little time but you still have to make a roux), Jeff does the etouffee, and together we artfully construct trays of muffuletta sandwiches. We used to always order our olive salad from the place we fell in love with the sandwich—The Central Grocery in New Orleans; but they have recently stopped shipping the good stuff. Fortunately, we’ve been able to find some alternatives locally, but one year, we ventured to make our own and it was the best ever. I’m including a recipe from someone named Marie Gattuso (though I don’t know who she is, I’ve just had this recipe in my recipe box forever), if you’d like to try it.

italian olive relish

  • Need a special beverage to serve at the party? If you’re not a fan of the traditional Hurricane (and I’m not) you might try this festive White Christmas Sangria. Not only is it sweet and refreshing, it’s beautiful on your Christmas table.
  • Do you need a quick sweet treat to take to the neighbors or give to office friends? My white-chocolate M&M pretzels always please. They are quick and easy to make and the only complaints I’ve ever heard is that people can’t stop eating them. I walk you through them on this post.

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  • Finally, the Laity Lodge Almond Bars. These easy cookies created quite a stir among The High Calling editors the first time we visited the canyon. Tim never disappoints us, but these were DIVINE. Can you say buttery goodness that melts in your mouth? Some of us have been having a conversation on voxer about the best recipe for these babies, and Charity Singleton Craig and Tina Miller Howard helped us piece together the procedure. I made some this morning and my taste buds are happy. My Christmas gift to you:

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laity lodge cookies

Garden Notes: Roasted Poblano Salsa



Autumn announces her arrival with a nip in the air, a crisp blue sky. Soon, the first frost will be upon us. But my little garden keeps giving as if she doesn’t know the sleep that awaits. My pepper plants are heavy with poblanos, jalapeños, and serranos. So, the other night when I should have been writing, when I should have been editing, when I should have been outlining a marketing plan for my book release … I made salsa instead.
I finally got to try this salsa recipe and let me just say—Yum! Jeff and I ate great scoops of it out of the pot, dipping chips deep into its zippy flavor. One caution: You must enjoy garlic in abundance to enjoy this recipe.
After we did our snacking, I was still able to can four pints. They will be welcome flavor some time over the long winter.
Here’s the recipe, straight from Food52.
Roasted Poblano Salsa 
                 8
 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped, and drained (about 15 lbs.)
            2.5
 cups finely chopped yellow onion
            1.5 
cups roasted, peeled, seeded poblano peppers
            3-5
 jalapenos, chopped (depending on personal preference for heat)
             6
 tablespoons minced garlic
             2 
teaspoons cracked black pepper
             2
 teaspoons cumin
             2
 tablespoons kosher or canning salt
            1/3
 cup brown sugar
            1/3
 cup cider vinegar
            16
 ounces tomato sauce
            16
 ounces tomato paste (optional)
             4
 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped 
  1. In a large (I use a 12 qt) non-reactive stockpot, mix all ingredients.
  2. Bring to a full, rolling boil that cannot be stirred down and boil hard for 10 minutes.
  3. Using standard, safe canning practices (clean, hot jars, one-use lids and rings, etc.) pour into pint jars.
  4. Pressure can at 10 lbs of pressure for 30 minutes.
  5. Enjoy!

What’s for Dinner: French Country Flat Pie

The past couple nights I’ve been dreaming about food. Night-before-last, I dreamt I was on Iron Chef America. I don’t know which Iron Chef I challenged, but I love that Bobby Flay. These dark winter days do this to me–get me thinking of home and hearth and all things comfort. Maybe it’s some leftover instinct from a day long past, I don’t know, but last night found me in the kitchen trying out a new recipe: French Country Flat Pie, or, comfort in a pie.  I served it with braised chicken, but it would be even better with beef. I found the recipe here. And it is DELISH! Just a peek:

Ze crustada.

Pile on the potatoes and carmelized onion.

Top with Gruyere and tuck it all in. Sweet sleepies…

So good.

Even Theodore said, “It’s not bad.”

That’s high praise, friends. High praise.

What’s on your dinner table?