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).

Filipino Tinola Halang Halang

Soup season is here. I love it. I might talk about soup two times a week, throwing out ideas, in hopes of making more soup. There is something about it. A bowl of pretty much the basic stuff, but there are always extras laying around to throw into the pot. Me? I’m hot sauce, herbs, chilies, fried garlic or shallots. Heck, sometimes an egg, a little more something, something. Who knows? That’s the great question about soup, and something that I always love.

I mentioned in the past about how much I love Filipino chicken tinola. It is a Pinoy recipe from what I know from my father-in-law, and one of pure comfort. The soup is a take on classic chicken soup in its basic form, but jazzed up a bit. This type of soup is what makes us happy and warms our body.  Coconut milk, Thai chilies, chicken? Ready?

This is (my take) Filipino Tinola Halang Halang.

Filipino Tinola Halang Halang
Filipino Tinola Halang Halang

Let’s get to it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup ginger, cleaned and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1 russet potato, cleaned and cut into bite sized cubes (optional)
  • 1 whole chicken, breasts, legs, wings, and thighs, cut into pieces
  • 4 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 cup of water
  • 15 oz can of coconut milk
  • 8 Thai chilies (preference 2 per bowl)
  • 1 whole lemongrass stalk, top part removed, trim tender bottom part
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce, to taste
  • 1 bunch of spinach, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • jasmine rice, cooked

Start by heating the oil in your large dutch oven, or medium sized soup pot, on medium heat.

Next, add in your onion and ginger and give that a stir, cooking until it slightly begins to softens, about 4 minutes. Next toss in the garlic, and give that a good stir, cooking for about a minute.

Now add in your chicken pieces, moving the onion mixture around so that you are able to brown up some of the chicken skin. Cook the chicken for about 20 minutes, turning halfway through. After 20 minutes, add in the lemongrass, chicken stock, water, coconut milk, salt, pepper, and fish sauce. Add in the potatoes if you will be using them. Give this a good stir.

Filipino Tinola Halang Halang Ingredients
Filipino Tinola Halang Halang Ingredients

Cover, and cook this mixture on medium-low heat for about 30-45 minutes. Lastly add in the bunch of spinach, and Thai chilies, and give another stir. Cook for about 10 more minutes or until the spinach is wilted and cooked through.

Now it is time to serve. Ladle in the soup into your bowl, making sure you get pieces of chicken, potatoes, onion, etc. Garnish with more chilies should you desire or some fried shallots and get ready to dig in.

I like to serve mine with a side bowl of rice. This allows me to spoon some of that wonderful coconut broth and then chase it with some rice. This is everything you will love about Filipino tinola, but one with a twist. I mean you can’t go wrong with coconut milk, chilies, and chicken soup on a cool, Fall day. Hope you enjoy!

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!

Tenzo Tea Matcha Smoothie

Tenzo Tea reached out a while back asking if I would be interested in trying their brand of matcha tea. To be honest, I’m not an avid tea drinker only having a mug or two a week but I was willing to try their blends of matcha tea. I was excited to say the least. My wife, who is an avid tea drinker, was also excited as matcha was not one of our go to tea choices. Tenzo Tea had sent over a variety of matcha teas to try including blueberry, raspberry, and traditional green. We tried all three and really fell in love with the raspberry and blueberry blends. I mean really fell in love with them and it was probably the best cup of tea I’ve had in some time, plus it has all of the benefits of matcha. When trying the green blend, I knew that one needed a bit of help, and so I decided to come up with a recipe using Tenzo Tea and decided a great fruit smoothie would be a nice way to incorporate the matcha tea.

Tenzo Tea Smoothie
Tenzo Tea Smoothie

Tenzo tea has all of the benefits of match which includes focused energy, an antioxidant powerhouse, a way to a healthier heart, and a boost in metabolism. What’s not to love about that, and what a better way to start your morning!

Let’s get started.

Ingredients (makes 1 smoothie):

  • 2 tsp matcha tea
  • 4 oz hot water
  • 1 1/2 cups of frozen blueberries
  • 4 frozen strawberries
  • 1 banana, cut up
  • 1 whole kale leaf, torn, optional
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite yogurt, optional

Add the matcha tea to the hot water and stir well. Once it cools down, prepare your smoothie.

My favorite smoothie is pretty much everything listed above, however make this to your liking, just don’t forget to use the Tenzo Tea!

Add all of the ingredients to your blender, or smoothie cup, and blend until smooth.

Tenzo Tea Smoothie Ingredients
Tenzo Tea Smoothie Ingredients

Pour and serve.

The result is not only a great smoothie, but one with the additional benefits of matcha tea! The tea itself does have a bit of a jolt as well which is even a better start to the morning, and yes beats that cup of coffee.

If you are looking for some really great matcha tea, and a great product from California, look up Tenzo Tea and give them your support. It’s awesome. Hope you enjoy!