My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


You Put What in Breakfast Cookies? 3

Posted on May 28, 2009 by crankycheryl


Ten years ago I couldn’t imagine a life that necessitated rules like, “You are only allowed to spit outside the house, and pick your nose inside the house.”  And I couldn’t have known that I’d be sneaking healthy food into my children with clever marketing and techniques more appropriate for public relations than running a family.

But all things in life seem to intersect at some point, and I am where I am, feeding wild monkeyboys with whatever I can, trying to interrupt the cereal-pancake cycle of breakfast.  So why not Breakfast Cookies?  After all, the only real difference between a muffin and a cupcake and a cookie is some combination of height, frosting and marketing, no?

So I found this recipe on CD Kitchens (you’ll recognize the picture as mine), and adapted it slightly.  It’s good, certainly healthier than a lot of the stuff we call breakfast food (purple & blue poptart, anyone?), and boy did I feel like a rock star of a mom when I heard the boys bragging that they were eating Cookies For Breakfast.

Banana-Oat Breakfast Cookies
Adapted from CD Kitchen, as submitted by Kasie of Milwaukee
20 cookies

  • 1/2 cup sunflower butter or tahini (the original calls for peanut butter, but using one of these will let you bring them into a nut-free zone)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ripe medium bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 c. pureed squash or pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or chopped dried apricots


In a large mixing bowl, beat peanut butter and butter with electric mixer 30 seconds. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla until mixed. Beat in bananas, baking soda and salt.

Mix in flours and flax. Stir in oats and dried fruit. Drop by 1/4-cup measure 4 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Spread to 3-inch rounds.

Bake in 350F oven 15 to 16 minutes, or until edges are browned. Let stand 1 minute. Remove; cool on wire racks. Serve in 24 hours or freeze.

Why It Matters 0

Posted on March 05, 2009 by crankycheryl

I thought I had finally demonstrated my cooking nuttiness this week when I looked down in the sink one evening and saw every one of my 8  (8!) wooden spoons there.  There was the one from starting the sponge for sourdough bread, the one for the cake, the one for its icing, the oatmeal, the custard for the cohousing dinner, plus whatever else I’ve already forgotten.

But I realized that I didn’t feel nutty.  I was tired, but I felt kind of great.  And it made me realize that there’s something I haven’t yet said here:

I cook for the joy of it.  For the satisfaction and simplicity of feeding those I love.  For the pleasure of necessary thriftiness.  Because it’s art and craft and creation and primal and needed.

For me, cooking all the time – the daily grind of it, and the fanciest flights – is life.  To do it with a glad heart is to try to keep my own best self close.  That I can make people happy and engage in the organic magic of bread-making and fill the house with the smell of chocolate or melting butter and evoke memories and even save money is a pure and needed joy.

So every day, here we are, slogging along through money worries and perpetual lateness and ADHD and cabin fever and the rest of it.  But every day we can come back to this quiet, necessary, open-hearted act of creation and sharing.  And if that doesn’t make it all somehow worth it, I don’t know what could.

And in that spirit, I’m sharing some recent, unblogged creations:

Cranky Cake 1

Posted on March 01, 2009 by crankycheryl


“Hey monkeys.  What would be in Cranky Cake?,” I found myself asking the other day.  The older tyke thought for a moment and started listing.  “Flour … milk … eggs …sugar … baking powder … salt …” What about flavor, I asked.  He told me, “Bananas.  And chocolate!  Lots of chocolate!”  Hmmm.  So I asked, “So Cranky Cake is a banana cake with chocolate chips in it?”  They told me yes.  And then we made it.

Cranky Cake

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease 3 8 x 8 square pans, or (as I did) 1 8 x 8 square, and one 9x 13, which was just the right capacity.

Whisk together thoroughly:
1 1/3 c. white whole wheat flour
1 1/3 c. unbleached white flour
1/3 c. ground flaxseed
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. powdered dried orange peel (optional)

In a large bowl, beat together until lightened:
5 T. + 1 t. butter
2/3 c. sugar (keep the sugar at the ready – see below)

Add to the butter and sugar:
1/4 c. olive oil
1/3 additional cup of sugar

Then add in:
4 eggs
3 mashed very ripe bananas
1 T. molasses
1/2 c. squash, pumpkin, or sweet potato puree
2 t. vanilla

Mix together until smooth and very well blended.  (I usually use an immersion blender.)

Fold into flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon just until thoroughly combined.  Stir in:
4 c. semisweet chocolate chips.

Scrape batter into pans and spread evenly.  Bake until a toothpick in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Let cool in the pan and then cut into squares or slices to serve.

An Also Ran: Pan-Seared Salmon Recipe 0

Posted on January 25, 2009 by crankycheryl

recipe-contest-001So I was finally getting to some old mail and found a big catalog-sized envelope.  I opened it and found a Taste of Home Holiday Healthy Cooking magazine, and a note thanking me for my recipe submission and telling me that it was published on page 51.  (And that I could buy additional copies for $2.  Thanks.)

I barely remember sending it in, but it really is one of my treasured recipes.  Years ago, my ex and I had the best pan-seared salmon at Martin House in Provincetown.  (A side note: Martin House used to be the best place in P’town – cozy, open year-round, creative, well-conceived and well-prepared.  I am so sad to read on Chowhound and other sites that it’s slipped and maybe been sold.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll find their way back to excellence by the time I make it back to the Cape.)

After we were back from that long-ago vacation, I set to work re-creating the dish, and came up with this.  It was an instant family favorite, and stayed in heavy rotation for a long time.  These days, I’m pretty conflicted about eating salmon like I used to.  I’m ducking as I say this, but I love the taste of the farm-raised Atlantic stuff.  It’s fatty and forgiving to cook and doesn’t have too strong a flavor for the fish-phobic at heart (not me!).  I really want to like the wild-caught Alaskan, but I just don’t.  And since I don’t want to feed my family the toxic PCB-laden fish o’ death, we don’t eat much salmon these days.  (How do you deal with this?  Please let me know!)

Anyway, for the brave-at-heart:  I’ve re-modified to make it more like the original recipe.  Apparently, Taste of Home found mine a little more complex than they like, but really – my way is better.  Starting the salmon on the stove top and then finishing it in the oven gives it a nice crust and great appearance, while also keeping it moist by getting it on a lower heat that doesn’t dry it out.  ToH does it all on the stove-top, 4 – 6 minutes per side.  Go ahead and do it that way if you want, but it won’t be as good.

Also, I don’t think I would have done carrots just with butter & parsley.  Though I do love to just have the steamed baby organic carrots as a quick, easy vegetable (as if I could get them into my children), we could do something just as easy but a tiny bit more interesting.  Maybe a splash of olive oil, a dash of butter, a sprinkle of salt, and a smidgen of dried orange peel and cayenne?

Reprinted and adapted from Taste of Home Healthy Cooking, December/January 2009

3 c. fresh baby carrots
1 c. instant brown rice
1 c. reduced-sodium chichen broth
1/4 t. pepper, divided
3 t. chili powder (I especially like this with green chile powder that I got in Santa Fe a few years back, but it’s really hard to find)
1/2 t. salt
4 salmon fillets (4 oz. each)
2 t. olive oil
1 T. minced fresh parsley
1 t. butter

  • Heat oven to 350.
  • Place carrots in a steamer basket; place in a small saucepan over 1″ of water.  Bring to a boil, then cover and steam for 12 minutes or until crisp-tender.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the rice, broth, and 1/8 t. teaspoon pepper to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Combine salt and chili powder, and rub over salmon.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet until rippling.  Carefully place salmon, skin-side up, let cook for 3 minutes, and then flip and cook for additional 2 minutes.
  • Place salmon into pre-heated oven, and cook for 10 minutes per inch of thickness (reduce the time if it’s less than an inch, increase if it’s more).
  • Remove rice from the heat, let stand for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.  Combine carrots, parsley, butter and remaining pepper in a bowl.  Serve with salmon and rice.
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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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