Animal crackers in my soup…

Once upon a time, a new mother thought that it would be simple to provide for her child the best food on the planet.  She ate organic, sustainable, local foods throughout her pregnancy.  Her worst craving was for fresh kale salads.  Once that child was born, she nursed him faithfully even when her body stopped producing, caving to feed him organic formula only because he was hungry.  When the little baby was ready for solid foods, his mama steamed and pureed and mashed everything in sight.  She even tried making her own version of biter biscuits (an epic fail).  Little by little, the baby realized that the food on his parents’ plates was what he wanted and suddenly abandoned all purees in favor of whole solids that he could nosh on with his stunning 6 teeth.  As he was weaned onto whole milk, the mama realized that it was now time to give him an afternoon snack to tide him over until supper.  But what to feed him?  The mama didn’t want to hand her son preservatives at every snack, but she also didn’t want to spend the bulk of her food budget on organic snacks!

I was really surprised how many recipes there are out there in cyberspace pertaining to snacks.  Healthy snacks, guilty snacks, weird snacks.  Most of the healthy ones called for honey, though.  Almost every medical resource I have agreed that children under 12 months shouldn’t have honey because they can contract botulism.  This posed a slight problem given that the honey is used to hold the rest of the dough together.  I don’t like molasses, so that was out and I didn’t want to add another liquid for fear that would make the dough tough.  So I abandoned the idea of homemade teddy graham crackers.  Then one day, I came across a jar of malt barley syrup.  The light came on and I am thrilled to present to you the product of a well-used afternoon naptime for Liam!  These crackers have a graham-like flavor, but are crisper like an animal cracker.  I love them and Liam always points to the jar whenever he sees it now!

Zoo munchers

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp. wheat germ
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  •  3/4 tsp. salt
  •  7 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 c. malt barley syrup (or honey if not using this recipe for a child under 12 months)
  • 5 Tbsp. whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla

Sift together the dry ingredients.  Cut the butter into 1 inch pieces and place them in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat until fluffy and then gradually  add in the milk, vanilla and syrup.  Mix in the dry ingredients until dough forms a ball around the paddle.  Remove the dough from the bowl and wrap in saran wrap.  Chill for a minimum of 2 hours.  (I made the dough during a nap and then shaped them when I had time the next day.  The dough was still fine to work with and didn’t get tough.)  Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness and cut out shapes.  Freeze the dough for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes.  Allow to cool before storing; they keep well for 2 weeks in an air tight container… if your kids don’t know where you hide them!

** I tagged this as a frugal recipe since when I worked out the math, I am saving myself $7.35 a month in graham crackers for Liam.  This includes the price of the barley malt syrup in my calculations.  It honestly takes very little time out of my day and will eventually be something Liam and I can do together!
** Since barley is non-allergenic to most babies, I plan to play around with the end form of the crackers and use this as biter biscuits for my future children. 

Soft Sugar Cookies

This isn’t so much a new recipe as a revelation.  I love sugar cookies, but sometimes, I don’t want a crisp, iced disk.  I want something that is soft and a little on the fluffy side.  So off I went in search of that.  I’ve been fighting with recipes and eating far too many cookies, when it occurred to me last week while I was weeding.  What if I tweaked my Snickerdoodle recipe?!  I’m such an over thinker!  Good grief, here I’ve been wanting a cookie that is the snickerdoodle, just without the dusting.  Although, now that I’ve typed that out, I don’t know why on earth anyone would want snickerdoodle with out the dusting… Anyway.  Here’s another cookie recipe for you to enjoy!

 

  • 2/3 c. butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. plus 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Cream together the butter and the sugar.  Add in the egg, followed by the vanilla.  Mix together the dry ingredients and incorporate them thoroughly.  Lay out some plastic wrap on the counter and put the dough on it.  Form the dough into a log about 2 inches in diameter.  Wrap the dough up and chill for 30-45 minutes in the fridge.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Slice the chilled dough into 1/4 inch thick disks and arrange them on a lined baking sheet so that they are not touching.  This cookie doesn’t really spread, so you don’t have to keep them too far apart on the pan.  Bake for 9-11 minutes.  Enjoy with a cold glass of milk.

Comforting Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Was your mom a cookie baker?  Did she perfect pies?  Or was she the go-to lady for cakes?  One would have thought based on the huge cookie jar on our counter that my mother was a cookie lady.  She was not.  She liked cakes.  Now, given that she baked them in a home with 2 teenagers, it worked out ok.  My husband works all day and really isn’t into cake… so it sits on the counter and taunts me all day.  I don’t bake cake all that often.  And when I do, I give as much away as possible.  However, cookies are not only safer, but you can hide them in the freezer adn forget about them.  I have always envisioned myself as the type of mom who would pack an awesome brown bag lunch with a neat treat inside.  Or the mom who always had cookies available for when friends came over.  Those cookies would cause my children and their friends to feel loved and safe in my home.  Our home would become a refuge and everyone would know where they could go, no matter what happened that day.  This is all beautiful and idyllic, but I do not have the innate ability to be that mom.  Mainly because cookies are out of my scope of culinary skills.  Matt loves chocolate chip cookies, but for the entirety of our marriage, I’ve made them mostly from bagged mixes or those horrible tubes of dough in the freezer case at the grocery.

I’ve been testing cookie recipes for months… the waistband on my pants condemns me on a daily basis.  If I am going to eat a cookie, I want it to be soft and chewy in the center and crisp around the edges.  I want it to be a comfortable size and not too sweet.  Matt doesn’t quite agree, but I’m the one doing the baking, so he can just eat the experiments and hope I decide to make the monstrosity he considers to be a serving size with the left over batter.  Also, in the case where there are bits of chocolate, I don’t want chips, I want chunks.  There is something about a rugged hunk of chocolate that melts in your mouth compared to a bit of uniformly shaped chocolate.  If I were the type to drink milk with my cookies, I think it would be perfect with these.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies:

  • 2 cups flour (you can use half white and half whole wheat)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 c. Chocolate chunks

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with either parchment paper or a silpat.  Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Slowly add in the eggs and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly.  Add in the dry ingredients until there are no streaks and everything is fully incorporated.  Then mix in the chocolate by hand.  Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before forming the cookies.  Using a small ice cream scoop, take 2 scoops of the dough and form it into a ball.  Place each of the balls of dough about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets and pat down gently.  Bake for 15-17 minutes.  Makes about 2 dozen medium sized cookies.