Snacking Tokyo-Style: Plum Onigiri

riceAre you looking for an easy way to jazz up your weekday lunch?

All over Tokyo, food courts and convenience stores sell triangles of sticky rice filled with all sorts of wonderful goodies. Called onigiri, these snacks fit easily in the palm of your hand, are quite filling, and are very affordable – many cost the equivalent of $1 or less. Our whole family enjoyed sampling onigiri filled with pickles, plums, smoked salmon, and even hard boiled eggs. Our favorite were the plum-filled snacks, which we are creating today.

rice mold

Onigiri mold

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Microwave Potato Chips

chips1Our garden produced a nice crop of lovely little purple potatoes this year. The insides are ringed with beautiful shades of violet, but the small size of these potatoes makes them impractical to peel. Voila! Potato chips! What a simple way to show off the color of these heirloom veggies!

On our Kitchen Gadgets page, we’ve provided a link to an affordable gadget which makes potato chips (oil free) in the microwave. It works really well, but makes small batches. We have a LOT of potatoes, and needed to find a way to process larger batches of chips. Aha! This worked like a charm:chips3

Emson Bacon Wave, Microwave Bacon Cooker

Yes, friends, an “As Seen On TV” microwave bacon maker, no joke! We used a mandolin to slice potatoes really thin, sprinkled them with a bit of sea salt, and arranged them in the bacon maker as shown:chips2

We microwaved our chips for approximately 6 minutes (until the chips started to brown). Done! So simple! What a great way to enjoy the high fiber goodness of garden fresh potatoes, without adding fat.

PS – this same technique works for vegetable chips made from yams, beets, carrots, and parsnips. Stay tuned!

 

Raisin Crisp Cookies

WIN_20151119_160152My Mom makes these and, like everything my Mom makes, Raisin Crunch cookies are delicious. I enjoy Raisin Crunch Cookies with coffee, because they are crunchy enough to hold up to a quick dunk. To be fair, I enjoy anything with coffee, but still… Happy baking!

Ingredients (Makes 4 dozen)

1 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup oats (I use old fashioned; quick oats will also work)

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup raisin bran cereal (variations such as “Honey Bunches of Oats” also work well)

1 1/4 cups flaked coconut

1/2 cup raisins

Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix well.

Step 2) Fold in cereal, coconut, and raisins.

Step 3) Drop heaping teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 14 – 16 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.

Step 4) Remove from oven and allow cookies to rest on the baking sheets for 4 minutes. This helps them to crisp – and these cookies are supposed to be crispy! After 4 minutes, transfer cookies to cooling racks. Allow to cool completely before covering and storing.

Jeweled Oatmeal Cookies

WIN_20150826_210252A few modifications to a basic cookie recipe can lead to surprisingly delicious results. These Jeweled Oatmeal Cookies, for example, are pretty similar to traditional oatmeal cookies. If you look at the recipe closely, you’ll notice that the spices (no cinnamon!) and extracts are a bit different, and we’re using colorful candied fruit instead of plain old raisins. The result is a cookie that’s simple enough for a lunchbox treat, but pretty enough for a holiday cookie exchange. Enjoy!

WIN_20150826_200850Ingredients (Makes about 45 cookies)

3/4 cup softened butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 3/4 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)

1 cup candied fruit, diced – homemade or store bought, such as Candied Mixed Fruit, Diced, 1 lb.

WIN_20150826_201758Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and almond extract. Stir until well combined.

Step 2) Add dry ingredients except for candied fruit; stir until all ingredients are incorporated.

Step 3) Gently fold in candied fruit. Drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Step 4) Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 13-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Wiener Winks

WIN_20150905_124446Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, this particular recipe is heavy with nostalgia. I remember Wiener Winks cooling on Grandma’s kitchen counter on countless occasions throughout my childhood. As soon as they were cool enough to handle, children of all ages (including those “children” with children of their own!) would scramble for a hot dog wrapped in homemade white bread and dipped in either ketchup or BBQ sauce. What could be more American than that?

This week, I taught my little ones how to make Wiener Winks, beginning with homemade white bread dough. I sure had a lump in my throat when a little one exclaimed, “I like making Wiener Winks… it makes me remember [great] Grandma.” I sure do miss her.

Ingredients (Makes 24 Wiener Winks – they freeze well!)

24 precooked hot dogs

2 cups lukewarm (not boiling) water

1/2 cup white sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast

1/4 cup dry milk

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup canola oil

6 cups white flour

picture330Directions

Step 1)  Combine sugar and lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl.  Stir in yeast, and allow to sit for a minute or two until the surface of the water appears a bit creamy.

Step 2) Add dry milk, salt, and oil to the picture331yeast mixture.  Stir in flour, one cup at a time, and transfer dough to a floured tabletop.

Step 3) Knead dough for a few minutes until a smooth ball forms.  Add a bit more flour as needed, to prevent sticking.  Transfer dough to a large bowl which has been greased with canola oil.

picture334Step 4) Cover bowl with a damp cloth and allow dough to rise until it doubles in size.  This will take about an hour in a warm location, such as an oven that has been warmed to 100 degrees and then turned off.

Step 5) Punch the bowl of risen dough a few times to release air bubbles (this is fun!).   Knead on a floured tabletop for a few minutes.  Divide dough in half.

WIN_20150905_114157Step 6) Roll each half of the dough into a long rectangle on an oiled countertop. Cut each rectangle into 12 strips.

Step 7) Wrap each strip of dough around a hot dog, tucking the ends underneath. Place wiener winks on greased baking sheets. Leave about 2 inches of space between them, as the dough will rise and spread a bit.

KitchenAid KB6NSO15JR Classic Nonstick 10″x15″x1″ Jelly Roll Pan Bakeware

WIN_20150905_114936Step 8) Bake wiener winks in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes until the dough turns golden brown. Watch carefully so they don’t burn! Cool on a wire rack. Serve with ketchup or BBQ sauce.

Back-to-School Snack Mix

WIN_20150826_095155Everyone understands that children will eat foods they have a hand in selecting. This is particularly important when children go back to school! Without a parent nearby to supervise, many snacks and meal items find their way into garbage bins.  The idea of food being thrown away bothers me a LOT, so I make a point of packing school lunches that I am confident my children will actually eat.

Back-to-School Snack Mix is perhaps the easiest, most failsafe item to pack in lunchboxes. By allowing children to select the ingredients (within reason) and fill individual snack bags themselves, you are increasing the odds that food will be consumed rather than tossed away.

WIN_20150826_093635Ingredients (Makes approximately 40 snack-size servings)

6 cups ready-to-eat breakfast cereal (Avoid sugar as the first ingredient!)

2 cups small crackers, pretzels, or pita chips

2 cups seeds or nuts (We used peanuts, but sunflower seeds work well as a nut-free WIN_20150826_095220alternative)

1 cup dried fruit

1 cup chocolate chips or tiny candies

Directions

Simply mix ingredients together in a large bowl, and ask your mini-chefs to fill snack size bags! Double check that each bag is sealed, and store in a large container (a shoebox works well).