Monday, October 24, 2011

Kale Chips

Kale is all the rage these days, well, all the rage to those very interesting vegetarian people.  I never thought much about kale, cuz like blah.  Sounds about as appetizing as cabbage.

But then, the October 2011 cover of Southern Living featured a gorgeous display of white and orange pumpkins and this beautiful purple kale.  I read the mag and forgot all about the kale until...

Totes gorg, right?!

...I saw some kale plants at a little country store on the side of 29 in Madison, and thinking I could spruce up my front porch I bought one (one puny little kale plant, 1/4 the size of the ones above...I mean, sometimes I don't really know what I'm thinking). 

So there, on the porch, my little kale has sat, wedged between 3 pumpkins, looking totally and completely unlike my SL inspiration picture.

This past Sunday, Ryan ran out on an errand and I thought I'd make him some kale chips as a semi-healthy alternative to the usual suspects we buy (salt & vinegar...yum).  Rachel Ray said that kale chips are cool so obvs I was going to give it a try.

I opted for the most basic recipe, being sort of skeptical about the whole thing... I mean kale chips?!  But, they were awesome! The texture is very strange, the chips are extremely delicate and sort of just melt in your mouth while being very crunchy at the same time.  I made sea salt chips, but I've since found a variety of kale chip recipes that I am dying to try out*

*note, my poor, small kale plant only has a few leaves left they grow back?! 

To make sea salt kale chips...get ready for it...

1. Wash and dry kale leaves
2. Pick the leafy part off of the stems (throw stems away, or feed them to dog...whatevs)
3.  Toss leaves in EVOO
4. Spread the leaves on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt
5. Bake at 300* for 20 minutes

Yes, they look like weird, flattened broccolis, but boy are they good.

Some other kale chip flavors to try: 

-Salt and vinegar: whisk 1/2 tsp of white vinegar into EVOO before coating the leaves.  Sprinkle sea salt on chips after baking.

-BBQ: coat leaves with EVOO and then sprinkle a barbecue rub over baked chips

-Lemon-Pepper: coat leaves with EVOO, salt, and pepper.  Zest lemon over baked chips.

And now that I've written this, I realize, hi, kale is found at the grocery store. Duh, I don't have to continue picking the leaves off my writhering front porch kale to try these amazing chips.  So be prepared, Ryan, kale chips may be the only snack you get in your lunch for the next several weeks ;)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Courtney Lately...part 2

Today is Sunday.  I normally don't do anything (except school work) on a Sunday.  But today I totes surprised myself; I did something! I did lots of somethings!  I am so weirdly proud of my productivity level today.  Ryan and his dad are staining our porch and watching them motivated me to get up off the sofa and find something to do.

At first I thought I would clean a little; but then I remembered that I cleaned yesterday and I am allergic to cleaning more than once a week.

After putting much thought into what I could do, I realized I needed to use some leftover pumpkin* I had and that pumpkin spice muffins sounded totally awesome.

*I made pumpkin pancakes yesterday; delicious.  Just add pumpkin, brown sugar, and vanilla to the regular pancake mix. 

I'm going to put the muffin recipe at the bottom of the post because I took like 8,000 pics :)

I also did something new today: gardening.  If you can even call it that.  Last week I was at the Zoo Walmart and saw some "Daydream Tulip" bulbs.  The picture was so pretty that I couldn't help but pick up a package, knowing full well that I know nothing about gardening, but the directions seemed pretty easy (dig a hole, plant bulb, cover).  I was so excited about the prospect of finally having some landscaping in our yard and being able to enjoy some beautiful fall colors.  I started digging my holes, and was tired of the whole idea by the 3rd hole, but I couldn't just stop because I spent like a whopping $2.99 on the bulbs.  After finishing my planting (and wanting to vomit at all of the nasty worms ) and upon further inspection of the package I realized it said "Fall Planting," not "Fall Blooming."  Shucks.  They don't even bloom until spring!  What good are fall colored flowers going to do for me in April?!  I'm a little perturbed.  And that will be the end of my gardening career.  At least until I plant the boxwoods I want out front... ;)

Here is what the tulips will look like when/if, they bloom several months from now:

I'm almost to the recipe, I promise.  But, look at the pumpkin I made today!  I'm planning on making the one I featured in my last post about Fall later on this week, but here's the one I did today:

(*cheerleader pumpkin?! ha)

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup packed pumpkin (note: this is not the same as pie filling)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4 cup sugar plus 1 tbsp. for topping
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon (I used more like 1 1/2 tsp. because I just love cinnamon)
*Makes 18 regular size muffins*

Preheat the oven to 350 and line your muffin pans.

Whisk together: pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In a seperate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.

Whisk the flour combination into the pumpkin mixture.  The key to muffin success is not overdoing the stirring, so don't be like me and think the whisk is like the coolest toy ever.

Use an icecream scooper to fill the muffin pan (genius idea, btw)

Mix together the cinnamon and extra sugar in a separate bowl

Sprinkle on top of each muffin

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean

Eat hot, with lots of butter! (I purposely didn't show this picture, I didn't want to be judged by the amount of butter I use ... :))