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.

Breakfasts Out with Wild Beasts 3

Posted on December 15, 2008 by crankycheryl

I am from a restaurant family.  I spent years and years waiting tables.  Believe me, I know that families with children are a pain in the restaurant tush.  Messy, distracted, noisy, hated by your other eye-rolling customers.  I really know.  From personal pain, I even know the cardinal rules of dining out with tykes:

  1. Come early.
  2. Eat fast.
  3. Tip big.

Now I’m a mom, and I do occasionally like to eat out.  And I’m sorry – Olive Garden and places with the yellow arches and their close relatives are of zero interest to me.  Burlington is a restaurant town – especially relative to its size – and we can do much better.

But I questioned this recently when some friends of my parents came into town and we all went out for breakfast at a place I’ll call, “Dogwood.”  I took the step of giving my children a don’t-be-crazy-when-we-get-there-but-still-have-an-appetite-sized snack.   I brought toys, books, crayons and paper.  When we got there, I went right down the stairs to get the host’s attention and get on the list to be seated.   First one server rushed past without looking at me, then another.  Then after the third and fourth I found myself not only hungry but really, really irritated.  And when the (presumed) host walked up, and looked over my head, past the other eager would-be diners, and said to someone who had just walked in, “Oh hi Dave!  Do you have three today?”  I felt the steam coming out of my ears.

Through clenched teeth, but smiling to show my children my respect for these hard-working restaurant folk, I told them how many were in our group and gave her my name.  We eventually got to our table.  And that’s where I developed the following requests:

  • Please do not seat my family at a booth that is anchored to the floor and can’t be moved so that my children could reach the table.
  • Please do not give my three and six year old tall goblets filled to the brim with water.
  • Please do not look blankly at me when I ask you for glasses that they can pick up and put down without spilling all over themselves, the table, and the bench on which we’re seated.
  • If the food I’ve ordered for the children has some weird garnish or topping or something I may not be aware of, please ask me if I want it to be there.  Or else take it off before one of them spots it and starts screaming his head off.
  • Please check to see if we need anything after you’ve dropped off the food.  Like ketchup for eggs, without which a 6-year old may be incapable of eating said eggs and may start screaming his head off.
  • When the meal is over, please bring the check as promptly as you can.  I know you’re busy and working hard and an interesting person with many other fun things you could be doing and people you could be talking to.  But if you make small children sit still and behave for too long, you’ll find them, you know, screaming their heads off.

Thank you.

This particular place has a menu very similar to that of Penny Cluse, which I tremendously prefer.  Though it’s very, very busy, they’re so efficient, and attentive, and great with kids.  They brought my 3-year old’s OJ in a cup with a lid without being asked.  They brought extra plates without being asked.  Their menu is good and interesting and healthy enough to keep adults and children happy.  They don’t charge exorbitant amounts for sides and substitutions and extras.  We shared their delicious tofu and peanut sauce scramble with toast and a side of fruit and were exceptionally happy.  And no one screamed his head off.

And just last week, in some sort of holiday-season inspired wackiness, I decided to take us out for brunch after our ride on the miniature pony-carts.  So we went to Sadie Katz, where we had had a lovely and successful meal once before.  They are so friendly and so fast, and though they may not be perfectly authentic NY Deli (their latkes are deepfried and a little more like hashbrowns, the onions in their lox & onions omelet are caramelized rather than raw), their food is really solid and tastes great.  My older monkey loves their plate-sized blueberry pancakes.  His little brother pronounced that the latke that came with his cheese omelet was “delicious and delightful.  And yummy, Mommy!”  When the big guy dropped his nearly full chocolate milkshake (hey – it’s the holidays!), the waitress got there quickly, and even rinsed out the hat and scarf that ended up covered with it.

How meshuggah am I?  I have no recollection of what I ate, but I know I liked it.

New posts on my Blog! http://c… 0

Posted on December 15, 2008 by crankycheryl

New posts on my Blog!

The Chocolate Oatmeal Cupcakes 0

Posted on December 15, 2008 by crankycheryl

I’m equally compulsive and ambivalent about inserting stealth ingredients into the foods my kids eat. I don’t own the Jessica Seinfeld book, but I’ve heard it hotly contested – this idea that the best way to get vegetables into kids is to hide them in things they already love. After all, if the only cauliflower that tykes encounter is pureed in their beloved mac & cheese, how will they ever learn to really eat it?

It’s a good argument. And one I probably would have made before I met my strong-willed children. Maybe yours are different, but mine only eat things they actually like. And now that the 3 year old has discovered that he has his own identity, he likes to exert it by liking the opposite of everything his brother cares for.

Here is a list of the vegetables they’ll both happily eat in their pure form:

Well … this is a slight exaggeration. They both like marinara sauce.

After years of self-examination and head-shaking, I’ve decided that I do actually want them to consume vitamin A and fiber and things. So I stealth vegetables into baked goods. I did it long before Mrs. Seinfeld’s book, and I’ve got a few tried and true methods.

So when it was cupcake time the other day, I pulled out my 2nd most frequent technique: the pureed-spinach-in-chocolate-maneuver. Here’s the recipe, which I based on the Joy of Cooking’s Oatmeal Sheet Cake:

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder (dark if possible)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon powdered dried orange peel
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup steamed or thawed frozen spinach, very well drained
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vani.lla

Combine the oatmeal and hot water and let them stand for 20 minutes.

All of the rest of the ingredients should be at room temp. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease or line the cups in a cupcake tin (if memory serves, this will make 12 full size and 24 mini cupcakes).

Whisk together the flours, soda, spices and salt. In a separate bowl beat the butter and sugars until they’re lightened in color and texture. Years ago I learned that this step is the crux of baking – where your texture and rise and everything happen. Don’t wimp out here!

Add the eggs and vanilla and use a blender or immersion blender to mix in the spinach until it’s pureed to smithereens. And in the oat mixture, then the flour mixture. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 – 25 minutes. Let cool briefly in the pan, and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

I frosted the larger ones with dark chocolate fudge frosting, and then showed what a complete sucker I am by adding rainbow sprinkles, along with the M&M-ish sunflower seed candies that my little guy painstakingly removes from each one. The minis I left unfrosted so as to be more appropriate for morning snack, but then a friend absconded with them to a D&D game and that was the last I saw of those.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to confess that these cupcakes don’t quite reach the level of Bad Ass. They’re a little bit crumbly, and the oatmeal makes the texture a little weird/chewy. But they’re chocolatey and reasonably full of nutritious things and the monkeyboys eat them so they’ll probably make repeat appearances.

But First: Bread 1

Posted on December 15, 2008 by crankycheryl

All right. The cupcakes are done. Here’s a picture of one, even (they’re full size by the way, just being held by a friend’s enormous hand). I’ll share the recipe and talk about them tomorrow. But right now, I’m eating the whole wheat pumpkin bread we made yesterday and am reminded how much I adore this recipe from “have cake will travel.”

I’ve made this a lot. Bread is one of the few things that both my wild monkeys will deign to eat (though one only as toast or a sandwich, one only with butter and untoasted), so I tend to pay a bit of attention to it. In the summer, we get Gerard’s bread with our CSA share from the Intervale. The rest of the year we’re on our own and I like to make our own good stuff as much as possible. And now that both crazy beasts are old enough to help, it’s even a rockin’ good family time – for the 6.25 minutes that I can capture their attention.

So yesterday when I got home from yet another grocery store trip to discover that I hadn’t bought bread (but at least I had had the sense to backtrack for the milk I missed before we checked out the first time), we scrubbed up and got to work. As I was tossing ingredients on the counter, I discovered that I only had half the squash puree in the fridge that I had thought. Rather than making only one loaf (I always double), I decided to toss in 3/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce instead.

Another adjustment that I’ve gotten in the habit of is using 2/3 whole wheat white flour, and 1/3 unbleached white. The bread is great both ways, but I like the slightly lighter version that you get if you use some white flour.

For some reason, this time it just didn’t rise quite as well as usual. I’m sure I should have done the oven-on-f0r-one-minute trick to get it off to a nice warm start, but I didn’t. So I gave it a good long time rising, and it eventually came out of the oven looking great – not as golden as when made with all the suggested pumpkin, but a nice color anyway.

And sitting here eating the bread abandoned by the monkeyboys as they’ve scurried off to their day, I must admit it tastes as good as ever.

Ignoring the naughty black for… 0

Posted on December 13, 2008 by crankycheryl

Ignoring the naughty black forest cookies beckoning from the kitchen. Late! Bad yelling cookies!

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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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