Apple Chips

We were fortunate enough this year to go apple picking at one of our favorite orchards. Not sure if we love apple picking as much as we love their apple pie from the Elegant Farmer.  Regardless, apple picking was something we always loved to do when the kids were growing up. Something about watching them eat a bunch of apples while climbing trees is a quick pleasure. This year we probably bought way too many apples, and as I would walk past the half bushel, I decided that I would come up with something and see if the family would try out the apple chips.

Dehydrated Apple Chips Recipe
Dehydrated Apple Chips Recipe

My wife was gratuitous enough to get me a food dehydrator some time ago.  I’ve done everything from making beef jerky to vegetable chips in the dehydrator and I’ll admit that I love it. So when the apples were in my zone, I decided on batching out some apples and making apple chips. So easy, so good, and a great way to use up some apples.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 of your favorite apples, cored, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • food dehydrator

Yep, that’s it. If you want to jazz them up, you could put some cinnamon and sugar mix onto them once they were cut up, but I went simple and simple was good.

Take your sliced apples and place them onto your dehydrator trays, leaving about 1/2 inch between each one. The goal is to not let them overlap or touch one another.

Apple Picking
Apple Picking – The Squinters

Once you have filled the trays, turn on your dehydrator and let them dry out for about 4-6 hours. It’s ok to feel them, and take them out when they meet your desired crispness.

Dehydrated Apples
Dehydrated Apples

You can store these in a airtight container to keep their crispness, but in our house, they were gone that afternoon. I was a bit startled to say the least to see them go so quickly, but I was actually really glad because I knew that everyone had a great nutritious snack that day. So if you are looking for something delicious and easy, and a great snack to boot, give these dehydrated apple chips a try (and yes you can do these in the oven as well).

Nacho Pot Pie

It’s starting to ramp up to comfort food season. Not like that has stopped me year round to make most any type of comfort food, but this fall season in particular has already yielded a variety of soups and casseroles. This is one of those recipes. While thinking of a warm recipe for a cool day, I thought of what my wife and kids would eat, and eat well. Nachos! But how could I turn a simple, or complex plate of nachos into something warm and comforting?

I looked around to check on my inventory, and granted I was looking at pie dough and thinking of chicken pot pie, a thought I had to quickly shake out of my mind, and then again back to the nacho thought. How about a riff on chicken pot pie but go nacho style? How about a nacho pot pie?!

Nacho pot pie it was, and not only super easy to throw together, but everything you love about nachos in a luxurious pot pie style, sans the pie crust.

Nacho Pot Pie Recipe
Nacho Pot Pie Recipe

Granted this is not the prettiest of all dishes, but again what pot pie is when you plate it? This is forkalicious delicious.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef, or chuck, cooked and fat removed
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 15 oz can diced green chilies
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of taco seasoning
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 2 cups of water or stock
  • 1 cup of canned black beans, drained
  • 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black
  • 1 bag of tortilla chips
  • 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • sour cream, optional
  • hot sauce, optional
  • salsa, optional
  • black olives, optional
  • any other favorite nacho toppings

Think nachos. Think pie. Good, let’s go.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Get a large skillet on your burner over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat and cook until browned. Drain any fat, and then add the taco seasoning, green chilies, onion, garlic, and 1/3 cup of water. Give a good stir, and cook until the onions are softened, about 5-7 minutes.

Place the meat mixture into a casserole dish and return the skillet to the heat.

Add the butter and let it completely melt. Once melted, add the flour and stir (and keep stirring) until all of the flour is incorporated. Cook this through for a few minutes.

Slowy stir in the milk, and use a whisk if you want to ensure that the mixture gets nice and smooth. No clumps needed here.

Once smooth, add in the remaining water or stock, and stir again. Season with salt and pepper, and let the mixture come to a boil, stirring frequently. The goal here is to make a thicker sauce.

Nacho Pot Pie Ingredients
Nacho Pot Pie Ingredients

Once the sauce thickens, add in the black beans, and return the meat back into the skillet. Stir well and cook for another 5-7 minutes.

Add shredded cheese to the top, then crumble a generous amount of tortilla chips over the top.

Place the skillet (if it is oven safe, otherwise put everything in the skillet before adding the cheese and chips) into the oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes.

Now you are ready to serve.

Nacho Pot Pie Recipe
Nacho Pot Pie Recipe

Scoop out your desired amount onto your plate and top with your favorite toppings. In my case it was black olives, shredded lettuce, avocado slices, sour cream, and hot sauce. Feel free to have a bowl of chips on standby for any additional scooping!

The result is spectacular. It is so comforting and everything we loved about a pie or a plate of nachos, all bundled together! Hope you enjoy!

Homemade Baklava using D’Vash

I find it interesting that over the last few months there are a couple of boxes of fillo dough and puff pastry in my freezer. I’m almost certain I had a couple of ideas bouncing around in my head during those purchases, but it was not until team members from D’Vash Organics contacted me once again to partner with them in creating yet another great recipe using their amazing D’Vash Date Nectar.  That’s when I knew exactly what I was going to make. A traditional baklava, in some ways, but using D’Vash date nectar in replace of honey. The result was mind blowing to say the least.

Homemade Baklava using D'Vash
Homemade Baklava using D’Vash

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 rolls or 1 box of fillo dough, thawed
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups of shelled pistachios
  • 2 cups of walnuts
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of D’Vash date nectar
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Start by making your sweet sauce that will be used after the baklava has baked. You will want to do this ahead so that it has time to cool.

Add 3/4 cup of sugar, water, lemon juice, and D’Vash date nectar to a small pot. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, then once boiling reduce the heat and cook for about 5 more minutes. Stir along the way. After 5 minutes, remove from the heat and let it cool.

Now the backbreaking work. Just kidding. This is the only time consuming part, and if you are having your kids help, this can take a bit of patience as unlayering each piece of fragile fillo can be a bit nerve wracking. Just make sure your fillo dough is completely thawed. I set mine out the day before and place it in the refrigerator overnight for a day or two to ensure it is completely thawed.

Get a baking sheet out, or if your are super detailed get a baking dish out that will fit your sheet of fillo dough. I go with my baking sheet and make sure that when I layer each fillo that it matches up with the previous fillo dough.

Make the sugar and nut mixture. To a food processor, or use a knife if you desire, pulse the nuts into a fine chop. Add the nuts to a bowl along with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon and give that a good mix.

Get your bowl of melted butter ready along with a pastry brush. Unroll a roll of fillo and get ready to baklava!

Place 10 fillo sheets onto the baking sheet one at a time, and brush each sheet with butter once it’s in the pan before adding the next sheet of fillo.  After the 10th sheet, spread about 1/5 of nut mixture over the fillo dough.

Do the same process, but this time layer only 5 sheets, buttering each sheet, then on the 5th sheet, top with the nut and sugar mixture.

Do this about 4 more times with the 5 sheet layer process, then on the final top, go back to the 10 stack of fillo, ensuring that all nut mixture is used up before layering the top 10 sheets of fillo.

Butter the top of the 10th sheet, then gently push down and form the baklava.

Homemade Baklava Ingredients using D'Vash
Homemade Baklava Ingredients using D’Vash

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Now let’s cut the baklava. Cut the fillo into about 2 inch strips, lengthwise, then make diagonal cuts to make somewhat of a diamond shape. If you want to keep things simple, just cut into rectangles, it’s up to you.

Place the baking sheet into the oven and cook for about 1 hour, up to 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Once the baklava is a great golden brown, remove from the oven, and immediately ladle over the cooled syrup you made earlier, ensuring that you get into all of those crevices.

Now the hard part… waiting.

The goal is to not only let the baklava cool, but you want that syrup to penetrate all of that great fillo that you took your time stacking. After about 4 hours, go ahead and try the baklava, but trust me the longer you wait, the better it gets. Kids approved, neighbors and friends approved, and chef approved.

If you are looking for a great treat that will be sure to please everyone (with the exception of those with nut allergies), then give this baklava a try. The replacement of D’Vash really made this baklava stand out. It had this subtle tartness that really made this delicious baklava pop.

If you are wanting to try D’Vash Organics Date Nectar (and I highly recommend it), then head over to their store and pick some up. My lucky readers can use the coupon code DVASHSIMPLECOMFORTFOOD upon check out! Hope you enjoy D’Vash as much as we do!

Roasted Tomato Crostini Recipe

We are probably not unique this time of year whereas we are sitting on a bunch of tomatoes. I’ll admit that my wife loves tomatoes a lot more than I do, but when they are hanging from the vine or loaded in a bowl on my counter from a recent harvest, well I’m about to do something about it. That’s when I typically think about harvesting the rest of our basil from outdoors and making a fresh sauce to be used on pizzas or lightly tossed with some pasta, but this time around I decided to take a generous handful of tomatoes and slowly roast them. Why? Well, because I had some great day old bread on the counter, fresh tomatoes, and fresh basil, and that screamed one thing and one thing only. Roasted tomato crostini.

Roasted Tomato Crostini Recipe
Roasted Tomato Crostini Recipe

This is a super simple recipe to make, can feed a crowd, and is really delicious especially with the roasted tomatoes.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 3 whole roma tomatoes, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 loaf day old French bread, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, lightly torn
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, optional
  • mozzarella balls, optional

Start by preheating your oven to 325 degrees. To a parchment lined baking sheet, add the sliced tomatoes. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and place into the preheated oven, cooking for about 45 minutes

During this time, slice the bread. Remove the tomatoes, and let them cool.

Roasted Tomato Crostini
Roasted Tomato Crostini

Add the bread to the oven, and cook just until lightly crisped.

Take the bread out and rub each piece of the bread with the garlic clove.

Chop up the cooled tomatoes, and add to a bowl with the freshly torn basil. Add in the olive oil and gently stir.

Lay out your bread onto a serving tray, and spoon on the tomato and basil mixture.

Roasted Tomato Crostini
Roasted Tomato Crostini

Add the mozzarella balls in between some of the crostini for those that want to add a bit of cheese to their bite.

Dig in and enjoy. That lightly toasted garlic bread topped with fresh basil and roasted tomatoes really make this a perfect bite for any occasion. Hope you enjoy!