Saturday, September 24, 2011

get sauced

A huge part of being an absolute food snob involves being picky about what I feed my kids. It is not so much about calorie counting or Michelle Obama telling me to make sure my kids aren't fat or whether they eat Cheetos every once in a while. It's about being as balanced and truly un-insane about the whole thing as I possibly can. 
True Story:  I had a great friend growing up whose mother would actually wrap up boxes of Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch and give them as Christmas gifts!! The rest of the year it was Raisin Bran or steel-cut oats for breakfast, no questions asked. 
This friend would come to my house and her head would just about explode to watch me make each of us a HUGE ice cream sundae smothered in chocolate sauce every other day after school. Her mom didn't let her come over so often after a little while. I think I juuust might know why.
With my own family I am just trying to fall somewhere in the middle of those extremes. That's all. 
But I love to cook and try things from scratch. And I especially love making things that 1: The kids will devour. 2: Are cheap. and 3: Are better than store-bought. 
And I have hit the jackpot with homemade fruit roll-ups. 
The first recipe I tried was this one from the ladies at ourbestbites.com. I made raspberry roll-ups because that's what was on sale at the grocery store. Yum. The simple recipe and fantastic results (no time for pictures- these things were gone in moments) spurred me on to find more fruits for rolling. 
And then I got an email from HomeMadeSimple.com. I honestly love love love getting emails from those guys. The link they sent me was for an article called Easy Apple Bash. And I clicked it. And now I seriously need to have an apple party!! How cute is this?! ...Jerks.
As I clicked through the site and dreamed of my fabulous future with apples, I  spied their recipe for fruit leather made from apple sauce.
It is completely cheater-y, but, hey, if you don't get to cheat just a little bit when you are home with two small children all day... well then that sucks. 
I also have one hundred thousand cans of apple sauce in my pantry (that number might be a slight exaggeration), so I knew I had to try it. So let's get down to facts.
Fact: I have no idea what makes Western Family Apple Sauce "Fancy".
Fact: This recipe took me two minutes to get the ingredients prepped and in the oven. 
Fact: This recipe made my house smell like apple pie all day long.
Fact: This recipe turned out perfectly. 
Fact: The apple fruit roll-ups lasted even less time than the raspberry ones did. And I doubled the recipe.
Doling out two roll-ups max per kid per day (husbands are included in the "kid" demographic) is going to have to be my new rule, but I couldn't seem to help myself this time around: I simply loved seeing something make snack time so easy on everyone (...okay, mostly just on me).

Apple Spice Fruit Leather

a la Home Made Simple 
Yields one 11”x17” pan of fruit leather
Prep time: 20 minutes (Seriously false. Three minutes, maybe.)
Cook time: 5-8 hours at 170°F

INGREDIENTS
1 25-ounce jar of applesauce
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 170°F. Line an 11”x17” jelly-roll pan or lipped cookie sheet with greased parchment paper (DO NOT USE WAX PAPER! It will smoke in the oven), plastic wrap (This is what I use. Don't worry- it will not melt) or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Spread the puree until it’s about 1/4” thick. Pick up the pan and tilt back and forth until it’s evenly distributed.
  3. Bake in the oven for 5-8 hours. Rotate the pan halfway during the baking time to ensure even drying. Timing will vary depending on the fruit used. It’s ready when it’s smooth and non-tacky. If parts of it dry out a little too much, just spray it with a little bit of water. It's amazing how un-screw-up-able this is!                                                                                                                                                           
  4. Let it cool, then cut in strips with scissors or a pizza cutter. Stack or roll them (I roll mine up in wax paper and tape them shut. For a fancier presentation wrap them with twine!) and store in an airtight container or a zipper storage bag. Store in a cool, dry place. You can store fruit leather for up to a year in the freezer, six months in the refrigerator or a few weeks at room temperature.

all fries go to heaven: Bruges Waffles and Frites

This weekend I crossed paths with Salt Lake City, Utah.
I love it when that happens.
However, as it is three hours away by car (and that is being optimistic when you have two kids under the age of five in your backseat!), it is a special accomplishment. One that deserves a reward. A reward of delicious proportions. You see, driving makes me hungry. ...and so does, ummm, passengering-while-reading-a-magazine. So it follows that I made my husband pull over in downtown SLC for one of my favorite treats.
Get ready.
Are you ready?
...
okay.
 
 Bruges Waffles and Frites (as seen on Travel Channel's Man vs Food [5:40]! Not gonna lie- I love Adam Richman. A lot. But can you blame me? Anyone who can be charming while stuffing copious amounts of greasy food in their mouth deserves... well, they deserve their own show. And my undying love.) is an adorable brand-spanking-new kind of place designed to look sort of like a hole-in-the-wall kind of place across from Pioneer Park on Broadway. And their food is not only legit- the owner and his brother-in-law run the place, and they are Bruges natives!- it is some of the most delicious fare I have ever eaten, let alone on a metal table. On a sidewalk. With a plastic utensil.
 Let's start with their famous Liège Waffles. Yeah, I do dessert first. 
The waffles here at Bruges are the real deal. If I could define waffle it would never again mean flour and baking powder and water fluff with syrup on top. The real definition of waffle is a homemade yeast batter crusted in sugar and cooked in a screaming hot iron, which produces a crispy, sweet exterior and a soft delicious interior. Fill that with two bars of dark Belgian chocolate and Bruges' calls it a "Torpedo" (umm, yes please). Sandwich vanilla bean ice cream, strawberries and speculoos spread (a crunchy caramel ginger spread made with ground Belgian cookies) between two vanilla waffles and they call it a Waffle Monster (If there are any monsters under my bed reading this, please please please be of the waffle variety). Top one with fresh fruit and/or homemade crème fraiche (pictured), and I call it "ummnnsffrafins!" Which is my-mouth-is-full-of-delicious-waffle-and-I-don't-want-to-talk-to-you-right-now for "So super delicious. Can I have another, please?"
Honestly.
I didn't even get a picture of this bad boy after we had dug in so I could show you the delectable dark chocolate inside.
And we ordered another one when we finished our sandwich.
And I didn't get a picture of that one, either.
You're just going to have to trust me. You want this now.

 Now to the "Machine Gun"!
And, yes, as I type this review I am beginning to realize that the owners of Bruges Waffles and Frites seem kind of violent about food. But if there was one sandwich that could be used as a WMD, this one takes it. This sandwich doesn't just fire a few rapid shots off, though. It's the bomb.
Just not literally. Because that would hurt.
The "Machine Gun" sandwich starts with a crusty french baguette. Then there are two merguez lamb sausages, which have a crisp skin and are juuust a little bit spicy. The sandwich is then piled high (oh, so heavenly high) with the best french fries you have ever eaten. No joke. I mean, when you consider that Belgians invented french fries, that the guys at Bruges Waffles and Frites are making them like they do at home, and that the word FRITES is in their restaurant's name, you have to figure that they are legit. And they so are. Finally the gun-fire sandwich bomb is topped off with a big old glob of andalouse sauce, a mayo-based sauce with a little bit of spice and a ton of flavor. *For those of you who hate mayo, ask for it on the side. But try it. Please try it.

Some friendly tips on ordering and devouring your Machine Gun:
+Tell them that you are splitting it because 1: You should! Do not eat this whole thing by yourself! You will die prematurely (As in TODAY. ...granted you will be in food heaven when you go...) and 2: They will cut it in half for you. Honestly, I could not even pick this entire thing up with two shovels for hands. Heck, half of it gives me a run for my money!
+Do not let your spouse get his hands on the camera while you are enjoying your Machine Gun. If you do, he will take a picture of you looking like this.
 And then you will really wish for a machine gun.
+Wash it down with a waffle. Or if you had your waffle first, like someone I know (ahem-me), get another one. It's just worth it.
+Bruges Waffles and Frites sells Coke in glass bottles. No joke. Drinking Coke from a glass bottle is pretty much my favorite thing in the universe. So just like when you give a mouse a cookie and he asks for a glass of milk, if you give this girl a "Machine Gun", she is going to split it with you, and wash it down with glass bottle Coke. And a second waffle. Stop judging and order yourself one, too.

Like I said before, I love this place. I dream about it. I have vowed one day to have my own waffle food truck. But mostly so I can just make myself breakfast.
And someday have to be hoisted out of my living room by a crane.
But that's another dream.

So here is my take on a few things that I find important when choosing a place to eat out. I hope you find it helpful.
Wallet-Friendliness: I would say these guys are at a fast-casual price point similar to what you would find at a place like Chipotle or Cafe Rio. The "Machine Gun" sandwich will run you about $9, the "Torpedo" waffle at $5, a cone of fries with some sauce at between 3-9$ depending on the size of the cone of deliciousness that you choose. My husband, the kiddos and I split the sandwich and got two "Torpedo"s with crème fraiche, which clocked us in at right around $20. And a stomach ache. ...but, you know. The good kind.
 Kid-Friendliness: I didn't see any high chairs around, just in case that is a deal-breaker for you, but my one-and-a-half year old held her own on a metal chair next to her dad. The food is super finger-friendly, too! They have regular ketchup for the fries, which is a huge deal to my four year old. PLUS you are eating outside. So, you know, there is less embarrassment about the killer arm that your baby has when it comes to food-flinging. But the down-side is...
Waistline-Friendliness:  Umm, it's not. Anything that might have been a vegetable at one point has been deep-fried beyond recognition. There is tons of fresh fruit, but only when it is served on a delectable waffle, preferably stuffed with chocolate and topped with cream.
Friendly-Friendliness: Good, friendly and fast service. Order at the counter, grab a cup of water and head out to the curbside tables or deck upstairs overlooking the park. You pick up your food at the window shown above. In the winter you will probably want to either bundle up or take your food to go, but this is definitely one thing I would hang out in snow for. My only caution: don't let your loved-ones get too close to the hipsters that frequent this location... or the ones that work there... You know, unless you're into that sort of thing. Me, I just don't see why a boy would want to put on his little sister's jeans, his grandpa's knit sweater, his grandmother's silk scarf and a pair of fake plastic glasses from his dress-up box to go out and eat a waffle.

Bruges Waffles and Frites on Urbanspoon
Bon Appetit!