Monday, August 18, 2014

Something From Nothing #27: Crispy Apple Chips

I always get excited when it is time for my Something From Nothing posts. The more of them I do, the more challenging it becomes to come up with something really good, and no one loves a challenge more than I.

I feel really lucky this time because this month's recipe fell right into my lap when I was cleaning out my refrigerator's vegetable crisper. Without fail, every time I clean out my fridge or fruit bowl, I am amazed at how much fruit that I purchase with the best of intentions that often goes to waste.

Black bananas are a tradition around here. Like I am under some evil spell, I feel compelled to keep buying them. We always have bananas on hand, so if you ever find yourself in need of one or twelve in different stages of decomposition, come on by, they are on my counter top waiting for you.

Grapes are a big favorite too, but no matter how few I buy there are always a handful of renegades who break free from their stem and land up rolling around loose in the crisper drawer.  Unfortunately for them there is no escape and they inevitably get squashed by a mobile head of cabbage or a carelessly placed grapefruit.

Apples are a bit more resilient so they hang around a lot longer than the rest. Add the two or three that I buy every time I visit the produce department of my local supermarket, and before I know it there are half a dozen or so smiling up at me from the bottom of the bin.

Thankfully out of the four I found this time, I actually remembered purchasing two of them, a Fuji and a Granny Smith. Since I had to throw two of their elderly relatives in the trash, I decided on making something that might prolong their lives a bit, and oven dehydrated apple chips came to mind.

Apple chips are the epitome of something from nothing. Literally just slicing them very thin and applying some low and slow heat, transforms them into something totally different from their original state. I love them in salads, eating them just plain, or with cheese and crackers. I'm not kidding, your family and friends will really be blown away by this very easy little treat. I know we really love them around here.

Crispy Apple Chips

If you are a purist and want to use just apples alone, they will be wonderful. I decided to do half with cinnamon and sugar, and half without. Both were very good, but the Granny Smith with a light sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar got top marks from all of my testers.

1 large apple (I doubled this recipe and used 1 Fuji and 1 Granny Smith)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar, optional
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Slice apples very thin across (not pole to pole). I used my mandoline slicer, but you can also do this with a very sharp knife.

Place apple slices on a Silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

If using, stir sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over apple slices.

Place into the preheated oven and cook for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, turn and return to cook for 1 hour longer. Be sure and check on them frequently. If they begin to brown quickly, turn them over and adjust your baking time. You want your chips to be a light brown. Dark brown chips are often bitter.

Remove from the oven and carefully loosen if any of them seem to be sticking. Cool completely. Chips will continue to crisp a bit as they cool. These are best eaten right away, but you can store uneaten portions in an airtight container.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Building America's Better Sandwich with Oroweat: Honey, Walnut and Brie With Avocado and Arugula on 12 Grain and a Great Giveaway

Thanks for entering my Oroweat giveaway everyone! VivaciousGold was chosen as my winner this time. She has 24 hours to claim her prize. Please stay tuned for more fun giveaways.

My husband grew up in a sleepy little town in Kansas. Today it is home to a Walmart Supercenter, a huge Harley dealership and a bustling army base, but back then it was one of those Mayberry kind of towns. You know the kind I am talking about. The kind of town where an eight year old kid could leave in the morning, have a day full of adventures on his own and not be expected back until the street lights came on that evening.

These days most parents (myself included) would hit the panic button if they looked outside and couldn't immediately lay eyes on our children. I guess the world has changed or we parents love our kids more than our parents did. OK, just kidding. I know they loved us. I guess these modern new-fangled kids must need more supervision than we did.

One of my husband's favorite stories about his childhood adventures (and believe me I know, because I've heard them all a thousand times) is about some older German neighbors who lived just a couple of houses down from his. This particular couple whose own children had left home long before to raise families of their own, had the most amazing yard in the neighborhood. My husband's eyes always light up when he talks about their beautiful vegetable garden and the variety of trees and flowers that covered their huge yard.

And if you were me, you would also know where the story about this particular couple would always end. After visiting with them as they worked in their garden, my husband would land up sitting on their picnic table in their shady backyard, eating a homegrown honey and walnut sandwich with the Mrs among the sunflowers that had blooms as big as dinner plates. Truth be known, she probably felt sorry that poor, hungry, unsupervised little boy.

When Oroweat asked me if I'd like to use some of their delicious bread products to make a healthier sandwich, for some reason my husband's childhood walnut sandwich came to mind. I guess because this is such a fond memory for him, and since walnuts are packed with beneficial oils and a desirable crunch, I decided to build my sandwich around them.

In addition to the benefits of walnuts, all of Oroweat's whole grain sliced breads and sandwich thins rolls contain 3 to 4 grams of of fiber per slice and are free of cholesterol, trans fats and high fructose corn syrup, which gives my sandwich a delicious and wholesome base to build on. Add some leafy greens, a little of our local honey and some creamy avocado and you have a better sandwich for sure.

If you have your own great idea for a better sandwich, there couldn't be a better time for you to build it, so you can enter it into Oroweat's America's Better Sandwich contest for your chance to win one of four $5,000 category prizes or one grand prize of $25,000. From now until August 22nd, you can submit your recipe using any of Oroweat's Whole Grains sliced bread or sandwich thins and your choice of healthy fillings. For contest rules and prize information, please click here.

To help inspire any sandwich architects out there, Oroweat has provided me with a prize pack* to give away to one of my readers. This prize pack contains three $5.00 coupons for Oroweat Whole Grains Sliced Breads, three $4.00 coupons for Oroweat Sandwich Thin Rolls and $25.00 gift card for purchasing healthy sandwich fillings to build your own masterpiece.

To enter this giveaway, which is available to US residents only, please leave a comment below telling me what your favorite sandwich is. For extra entries, you can sign up to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or by e-mail by clicking on the icons at the top right of this page. Please leave a separate comment stating each method of entry. You can also earn an extra entry and keep up with Oroweat's news by liking their Facebook page too. Since I have enabled Google+ commenting, not everyone may be able to comment on this page. Alternately, to enter this giveaway, please leave your comment on Savoury Table's Facebook page.

Be sure to include a way that I can get a hold of you in case you win. If I am unable to contact you I will choose an alternate winner. Please be aware that I alone am responsible for this giveaway and Oroweat Bread is only providing the prize. My winner will be chosen around noon on Wednesday, August 20th. Good luck everyone!

Honey, Walnut and Brie with Avocado and Arugula on 12 Grain

1 tablespoon honey
3 rounded tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted to a golden brown
2 to 3 - 1/4" thick slices room temperature brie cheese (enough to cover the bread), trimmed of rind if desired
2 slices Oroweat Whole Grains 12 Grain Bread, lightly toasted
1 - 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Pinch salt
Pinch coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup lightly packed arugula
1/2 of a small ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and mashed

Place toasted walnuts and honey in a small bowl and stir until they are well coated; set aside.

Place toasted bread on a flat surface. Top one slice with the brie, then the walnuts on top of that.

In a small bowl combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Whisk well. Add the arugula and toss well to coat. Pile on top of the walnuts and cheese; set aside.

On the other slice of toasted bread, spread the mashed avocado in an even layer. Place this, avocado side down onto the arugula to close the sandwich.

*I was given a package identical to the one that I am giving away. The coupons for product redemption, information, and gift card have been provided by Oroweat Bread so that I could try the product, purchase sandwich ingredients, and share my thoughts and information about Oroweat. The opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not reflect the opinions of Oroweat Bread. No compensation was given to me for writing this post, recipe creation, or my opinions.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Enjoying Summer's Bounty: Avocado, Green Chile and Monterey Jack Wontons with Peach Pico de Gallo

It was just shy of a year ago that I wrote a post about Hatch green chiles. These chiles which are grown in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico, are renowned for their delicious, bright and much sought after flavor. Starting now and for the next few weeks, the air in the west and southwest part of the United States will be heavy with the beautiful aroma of roasting chiles in front of most grocery stores and vegetable markets. This alone is a good reason for me to head to Whole Foods and pay too much for my groceries.

As I relayed in my earlier post, either the chiles on display were mismarked (that's my story and I'm sticking to it) or I picked up the wrong ones, but either way, in that post I identified Bueno chiles as Hatch. Little did I know, an expert, Preston from the The Hatch Chile Store, saw my post and quickly corrected me. Thank goodness I made this mistake, because after a couple of e-mails back and forth, Preston sent me some of his authentic Hatch chiles and we all lived very happily ever after.

Now it is Hatch time again and you better believe that I am checking the labels on my chiles before I put them in my shopping cart. Today, I am happy to say that I was able to score a pound of Hatch chiles and came home and decided to roast a few of them. The aroma is indescribably delicious. There must be something to this aromatherapy thing because everyone in the house seemed to be in a better mood once I got started.

With the chiles that I roasted today, I decided to make a little snack that really shows off the flavor of not only the chiles, but some of the Palisade peaches that my friend brought me back from the Western Slope. This easy little snack starts off with wonton wrappers that are filled with a combination of avocados, pepper jack cheese, cilantro and green chiles that are fried and then served with a peach pico de gallo. So good.

If you live in a place where you don't get fresh Hatch chiles, fear not! Preston and the folks at The Hatch Chile Store will be happy to ship some to you. For their products and prices, please click here. If you can't get your hands on Hatch chiles, feel free to use you favorite green chile, just don't call them Hatch. You never know who might be watching.

Avocado, Green Chile and Monterey Jack Wontons

2 - 3 medium size Hatch or your favorite green chiles (I like medium to hot chiles)
1 large ripe yet firm avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
4 ounces Monterey Jack, pepper jack or cheddar cheese, grated
1 green onion, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 squeeze of fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying
24 wonton wrappers

Place chiles under the broiler of your oven, on a hot barbecue grill or over an open flame on a gas stove. Cook until chiles are blackened and blistered. Remove from the heat and place in a covered container or sealed bag to steam. Once cooled, scrape blistered skin with the edge of a knife before chopping. 

Place chiles, avocado, cheese, green onion, garlic and cilantro in a large bowl; stir just until combined. Add lime juice, salt and pepper to taste and gently toss; set aside.

Heat a deep fryer or skillet with about 1" of oil to sizzling hot. 

While oil is heating. place 4 or 5 wonton wrappers in a single layer on a flat surface. Working in these small batches, brush a little water on two sides of the wrapper. Spoon 1 teaspoon or so of the avocado filling into the center of the wrapper. Fold the dry side of the wrapper over the filling onto the wet side forming a triangle shape. Pinch the edges together. Repeat with the other wrappers. These wontons should be quickly assembled just before frying or the seals will dry out and open during frying.

Place as many wontons in your fryer as you can without crowding. If the wontons sizzle when they hit the oil, it is hot enough. Fry until golden brown, approximately 3 minutes. Repeat with remaining wrappers and fillings. Drain on paper towels, serve with peach pico de gallo (recipe follows).

Makes approximately 24 wontons

Peach Pico de Gallo

1 large ripe tomato, diced
1 medium size ripe peach, peeled, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 rounded tablespoon red onion, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)
1 squeeze of lime to taste

Place all ingredients in a small bowl; stir to combine. Serve.