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

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You Put What in Breakfast Cookies? 3

Posted on May 28, 2009 by crankycheryl

breakfast-cookies-002

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

Directions:

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:

Good Sandwich Bread 6

Posted on February 19, 2009 by crankycheryl

003I adapted this from the recipe on the back of the King Arthur Flour White Whole Wheat bag.  I’m surprised by how well it came out!

Multigrain Molasses Sandwich Bread

2 teaspoons instant yeast OR 1 packet active dry yeast
1 1/4 to 1 1/3 C. water (start with the smaller amount)
1 T.  olive or vegetable oil
2 T. molasses
1 1/2 C. white whole wheat flour

1 C. white flour
1/2 C. oats (I used quick oats, but I don’t think it much matters)
1/2 C. ground flaxseed
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir till the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured or lightly greased surface, and knead it for 6 to 8 minutes, or until it becomes smooth.  Place in a greased bowl, cover with a damp dishtowel and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Punch dough down, knead a couple of times, and then shape it into an 8-inch log. Place the log in a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, cover the pan loosely with the dish towel, and allow the bread to rise for about an hour, until it’s risen about 1 inch above the edge of the pan.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for about 35 to 40 minutes, until it’s light golden brown. Test it for doneness by removing it from the pan and thumping it on the bottom (it should sound hollow), or measuring its interior temperature with an instant-read thermometer (it should register 190°F at the center of the loaf.) Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a wire rack before slicing. Store bread in a plastic bag at room temperature.

No-Knead Bread 0

Posted on January 03, 2009 by crankycheryl

nokneadbreaddough

My to-do list for the week is impossible.   My degree of overwhelmed gives me a special love for anything effortless – like the fact that by 4:30 tomorrow afternoon, this blob will have turned into sourdough, and by the time the monkeyboys have gone to bed, the oven will be heating to make a pair of beautiful crusty loaves.

Though I’m pretty sure I was the last foodie to have discovered No-Knead Bread, maybe it was actually you.   If you haven’t yet tried it, you can visit Mark Bittman’s blog and check it out.

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.

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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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