Monday, March 31, 2014

Granola Cookies

I had a play date recently that requested the mom's bring a 'snack'.  I, naturally, brought cookies.  I had a bag of Open Nature Chocolate Hazelnut granola in the pantry that really didn't mesh well with 'dieting'.  So I figured I'd make it into cookies and give them away!

Somehow I forgot to take pictures during the process but they are pretty simple.  Make cookie batter, add granola.  Done. The original recipe is here: Granola Cookies  It's from which is an underrated website in my opinion, much like Instructables.

These are actually the batch of slightly overcooked cookies that I sent to work with Hubster.  They are really tasty but a 'heaping teaspoonful' of batter make a cookie that is close to 56 calories.  Not exactly a 'keep on hand for snacking' item.  Lots of good stuff in granola though!  Kidster loved them of course and they were a hit at the play group!

A little overbaked but delicious!

What is YOUR favorite use for granola?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Roasted Chickpeas

During a conversation with another mom about how to get more protein and iron into Kidster we got onto the subject about 'roasted chickpeas'.  I've never heard of this and was intrigued!  I followed the link to this lovely recipe: Sally's Baking Addiction - Roasted Chickpeas

The recipe is how to make sweet cinnamon flavored roasted chickpeas.  Hubster and I are doing such a good job losing weight I didn't want to make them sweet.  So I used salt and pepper and Italian seasonings instead.  They are delicious!  Super crunchy and 1/4c is only 86 calories!  I measured out 1/4c and kept them in a container close at hand and munched on them when I was feeling 'snacky'.

I learned a valuable lesson with this though, do NOT use a Silpat.  They are the most crunchy when baked on a regular cookie sheet.  Go figure.

I didn't take enough pictures of the 'process' but this should delight your senses!

Yummy roasted chickepeas!

What is YOUR favorite crunchy snack?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Dish Mitt

As a stay at home mom I'm doing dishes and laundry all the time.  It seems like the time it takes to fill and empty the dishwasher I could have done them all by hand!  I've started getting into the habit of filling the sink in the morning with hot soapy water and just tossing in dirty dishes as they happen, which is a lot!

I don't like using sponges because they seem a little germy to me.  The dish brushes are great but they seem to get full of bits and pieces.  I"m already a little weird about wet food in the sink and yucky stuff like that so it just doesn't seem like a sanitary idea.

My kitchen is a pretty low toxin place.  I use non-toxic dishwasher soap, dish washing soap (yes, there is a difference!).  I use vinegar in the rinse aid container in the dishwasher and tend to clean the countertops with a hydrogen peroxide based cleaner. I also use cloths to wipe the kids hands and faces and generally to wipe down everything.  I have a small laundry basket in the kitchen that I toss the cloths into and wash about 3 times a week.  It's from the dollar store and not very solid so the cloths tend to try pretty quickly.

And that brings me to washing dishes with a wash cloth.  All of the cloths that we have for that purpose are way too big.  About 10"x10".  I feel like there is so much extra fabric flopping around that I spend the time trying to get the cloth under control!

I was staring at this giant cloth yesterday and it hit me.  Cut them into smaller squares.  So 4 5"x5" squares were cut.  Then I realized that I could sew them together and make a dish mitt!  After fighting with my sewing machine (both of the threads ran out at the same time!) I made this handy dandy little mitt.  If my machine had been more helpful it wouldn't have taken more than a few minutes.

I also realized too late that I only needed to cut them into 2 rectangles and sew up one side but hey, this is an 'on the fly' project!
Cut, turn inside out, sew along two sides. 

Flip right side out!

It sits on the faucet perfectly and dries really well.

What is YOUR favorite dish tool?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mini Cheese Omelet

It seems like I keep finding cute recipes that involve a mini muffin tin.  Well I'm a Texan.  I only ever had the large muffin tin!  On our recent family grocery trip I decided to buy a mini.  I raced home and to my dismay I didn't really see any recipes that struck my fancy.

"Necessity is the mother of invention" Plato is thought to have said.  Well he was a smart cookie. "Mothers invent because of necessity" this Momster is saying right now!

I want to feed Little Man and Kidster yummy healthy high protein breakfasts but like the mom in this blog post Egg and Cheese Mini Omelets I don't have time to sit at the stove and make omelets or scrambled egg every morning.  Evidently these are wonderful even when frozen and reheated.

So I went for it.  At 7:30am I was bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to get the day started.  I found this recipe and preheated the oven.

I decided to half the recipe because I only have Little Man today and tomorrow and on the weekend Hubster makes "Big Breakfast" as he calls it. Those little tins are really LITTLE!

So three eggs were cracked, 1.5T of milk were measured and bit of S&P were tossed in.  I whisked them all together into a merry little soup.  The original recipe said to add the cheese later. Well that just seemed silly! I didn't measure the cheese because it called for 1/3 cup and I didn't have a 1/6 cup around so I just picked up some cheese and I threw it into the soup.  Poured the bowl into a Pyrex measuring cup because who doesn't love something with a proper spout?

I wish I'd followed the directions.  The cheese acted liked a sieve. (stupid giant shreds!  Next time I'll by the finer shredded cheese.)  All of the egg came out first until the last few cups that were pretty much mostly cheese.  I had overfilled the first cup, which was mostly egg.  So I ended up having to do a bit of crisis control.  Spoon out some egg from the overfilled cup into the other ones.  Add some cheese, having to break the little shreds in half.  Wipe the drippings. You know the drill.

Next time follow the directions!
I baked them at 350 for 8 minutes.  When the buzzer went off I checked on them.  This is what I found!  They were still really 'wet' looking so I figured another 2 minutes wouldn't hurt.
"It's ALIVE!"
I was right.  After 2 more minutes they looked a lot more omelets and had a few bits of brown at the edge.  Kidster doesn't really like eggs in the first place so I have to make sure they aren't 'slimy'.

As PeeWee would say, "Mmmmm, Eggy!"
Cool for a few minutes on the wire rack according to the lady in the blog post.  Aye Aye captain! They do deflate a bit so don't worry about trying to serve you kid or hubby a weird mushroom shaped omelet.

As we speak they are now cooling on the rack looking quite tasty and cheesy.  I will update this when Little Man and Kidster have sampled them.  I'm crossing my fingers! If these work out next time I'll put spinach in them or mushrooms.  Maybe just for the adults. 

What's YOUR favorite thing to make in a Mini Tin?


Texas China!  They popped right out super easily!

Success!  Kidster LOVES them!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Homemade "Goldfish" Crackers

The convenience of buying a bag of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers for the little ones to snack is a wonderful thing. But when you look at the label they have nonfat milk and vegetable oil. They are also really high in sodium. I'm not going on a rant here about why all of that is bad.  I just know that my Kidster is skinny and needs good fat! 

So rather than buy something that has doesn't have good fats and also has some other stuff that I'm not clear about I figured I would try to make my own!  Another mom friend of mine posted this recipe after she had tried it so I figured it would be pretty easy.  I was right!  (Aren't I always?)

Here is the recipe for "Homemade Goldfish Crackers"

You will need a food processor for this.  If you don't have one I would borrow one from a friend who probably hasn't used theirs since the 90's.

Just shredded cheese (FULL fat!), butter, flour and a little salt!

Pulse until a 'sandy texture'. 

Add 1T, pulse.  Then 1T pulse. 
I totally forgot to take a picture of the lovely little doughball wrapped in plastic.  I did however hold it in front of Hubsters face and say, "It's a goldfish bowl!" ...  He was not amused. Be sure to chill the ball for 20 minutes.  It makes it a lot easier to work with.  Don't forget about it though or it will be too hard! (I did that with cookies on Christmas Eve and it was a mess!)

My local Randall's/Safeway had a cute kids baking set with a mini cookie sheet, mini rolling pin and about 8 different types of mini cookie cutters.  Kind of weird that they had the symbols from a deck of cards, but I'm not going to be picky, especially when there are hearts!  It was originally $13 but I've been keeping my eye on it and the night I was going to make these they were on sale for $7!  Woohoo! If you don't have any mini cookie cutters I'm sure you could use a pizza cutter and just make squares. 

I noticed that the thinner the dough the crispier the cracker.  Of course at the end I have a small bit that I just rolled into a rope and smooshed.  That was the mommy and daddy cracker. It was bit more biscuit-y in the middle but delicious!

Fun shapes!

These were a bit over cooked but still delicious!

So much fun to make!  And soooo good!
I was lucky to keep enough aside to mail out!  Hubster ate more than his fair share and the whole batch of about 130 crackers was gone in less than two days.  Next time I'll have to make them when he isn't home so the Kidster can have more!  I might make them with half flour and half baby rice cereal to add in more vitamins and minerals.  These will be a fun baking project with her when she gets older, who doesn't like to roll out dough and cut it into pretty shapes?  I might even add some paprika or other seasonings next time. 

What is you favorite flavor Goldfish cracker?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Cookies

You know, sometimes Hubster is a genius.  It was getting close to 8pm and I knew I had a playgroup tomorrow so I was running through cookie recipes that used the can of pumpkin in my pantry.  I know, I know, pumpkin is 'so last season' but I needed to use it and I needed to make something for play group.  It isn't a requirement to bring cookies, it's more of an excuse to BAKE!

I was throwing around the idea of pumpkin and he vetoed it.  He does end up having to help eat the rest and bring them to work so in his defense he wanting something less Autumn.  I had bookmarked a recipe for Jello playdough that can then be baked into cookies and thought Lime Jello might be a fun and creative cookie to make. He then said two words, "Pistachio pudding?"  Voila!  I searched for pistachio pudding recipes and everything had cranberries or required that I separate eggs.  I DO not separate eggs.  I'm just not that fancy!  Kraft foods came to my rescue.  They are the makers of Jello so I figured I could trust the recipe.

The original recipe called for chocolate pudding and white chocolate chips.  I used pistachio and didn't use any chips.  No biggie!  I did add in a bit of green food coloring to make them more festive.
Here is the link to the recipe: Instant Pudding Cookie
Jello!  And some other stuff
Just like other cookies you blend in the sugar and butter until light and fluffy and oh so yummy!

Scrape it down and spin it again!
I always scrape down the side and spin it again before I add the egg to make sure it's all really mixed well.  This is the part that you can't 'over' mix.  At least not that I've seen!  I've also found that it's easier to clean off the wisk by just beating against the side of the mixer than using the spatula to try to scrape it all off.

Much greener in real life!
After adding all of the ingredients (I usually switch attachments after the wet stuff) I know have a lovely green dough.  I let Hubster taste the mixer attachment.  He had a tiny piece and right before I was about to wash it off he said, "Wait!" and cleaned it off for me... :-)  That's a good sign!

Ice bath for cookie dough?
The recipe didn't call for 'refrigeration' but I noticed after the first batch that they were kind of sticky when I was rolling them into balls  I made an ice bath why the first batch baked and it made a bit of a difference.  Next time I will certainly put them in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm the dough a bit.
They look like Flubber!
I rolled the first batch in powdered sugar but it didn't seem to do anything except make the cookies less green. Next time I'll think again and make green sugar to roll them in.  Mmmmmm sugar.....

I love the perfectly roundness of 'rolled' cookies!
I figured it was better to have a lot of small cookies than a few big ones.  I used a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon for my dough instead of my usual 1 tablespoon.  Instead of baking for 10-12 minutes it was closer to 8 minutes.  Keep in mind that at 9-10 minutes they would be crunchier but more brown and less green.

8 minute cookie! Soooooo pretty too!
I learned from my lemon crinkle cookies that you can 'cook' the cookie a bit longer by leaving it on the cookie sheet for about 3 minutes after taking it out of the oven.  This keeps them nice and green and still chewy.  I found that taking them out of the oven when they were no longer shiny / melty looking they were perfect.  Hubster got the slightly browner batch to take to work.

I love this recipe and will be sure to use it again!  They came out chewy with a good crunch and were so cute!  

What is you favorite flavor of pudding?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

I couldn't help myself I tell ya!  I had made the plain ole' back of the package chocolate chip cookies for a playgroup I was hosting on Tuesday.  Being the classy lady that I am I was not going to show up for a play group with 'used' cookies!  The weather has been dreary and grey and I had a cute little lemon in a bowl with some other sunny fruits so I thought, why not find a cookie recipe with Lemon?  No good reason came to mind.  So I found this little gem: Lemon Crinkle Cookies .  They reached out to the grey weather and beat it down.  Today the sun is out and it's all blue skies and crisp air.  I think they worked!

These cookies are amazing.  Just a hint of lemon but enough that you KNOW it's there.  No box of cake mix required like other lemon cookie recipes.  These are straight up 'from scratch' and easy as pie..or cake... whichever.

When life hands you lemons zest the crap out of it and squeeze the juice into COOKIES!
I learned how to zest a lemon using a box shredder/slicer/zester.  The internets are amazing when it comes to tidbits of kitchen know how.  I sliced it in half and squeezed out the juice.  Poor little guy!

Why yes, my flour and sugar ARE stored in old Folgers cans.  And yes.  Those ARE two Lone Star Beers....
I set the cream and butter to creamin'.  The wisk is moving so fast it's invisible!

Crazy fast wisk action for ya!
After all the ingredients have been mixed up rill rill good you make cute little balls and roll them in powdered sugar.  The recipe said 1/2 a cup but I had about 1/4 left over that I didn't want to reuse since it had just rolled around in raw egg.  One must be safe in the kitchen!

Serious looking cookies!
After they come out of the oven you leave them to cool for about 3 minutes on the baking sheet.  It's hard to leave them there THAT long but you MUST!

The most amazing lemon cookies you'll ever have!  
I think the rolling of the cookies into balls is what really makes them the prettiest.  I might have to give up the two spoon drop and start rollin'rollin'rolling!  It just seems to make the cookies more uniform.

You must make these.  Make them today.  You will NOT be sorry!

By the way, I have a habit of mailing my cookies to my friends whenever I make them.  I can only fit 2 cookies in an envelope but hey, I'm not a cookie service!  I just want to share yummyess.  If you'd like me to mail cookies to you please email your name and address where I can send them.  I can't guarantee that they'll arrive in perfect condition but they will be in a plastic zip-lock bag so they won't be, you know, tainted.  

What are you favorite Springtime treats?

Friday, March 7, 2014

You say Chickpea, I say Garbanzo Bean!

Our household LOVES hummus.  However, hummus can be a bit pricey when you buy it at the store.  I've always been discouraged from making it myself since Hubster told me that it's really expensive to make because of 'all the olive oil' that it requires. I went to a playgroup recently and the mom had made hummus! It wasn't quite the same as the Sabra I'm used to but it really hit the hummus spot in my belly!

I was on a mission!  I decided against buying a can of chickpeas and opted for the $.65 bag of dry garbanzo beans.  Yes, it requires a bit more time to soak and cook them but I found a recipe online that really helped me out.  Here is the link if you decide to get the dried beans. How to Soak and Cook Chickpeas

So that might take a bit of time.  Not so much effort, just time. You soak them for an hour, you boil the water for 5 minutes, soak for an hour...etc.  You can leave the house while you are doing all this though so it's not THAT hard!

After I'd gotten the chickpeas to the right tenderness (I should have simmered them a bit longer though, I went for the 60 minute and I should have done the 90, eh.) I started making my hummus!  Yum!  Here is the recipe I used.  Hummus Recipe (Using Sesame Oil)  Our local market did not have tahini, at least that I could find, but thankfully a friend moved cross country last summer and she gave me a few items from her pantry that she didn't want to keep, one of them was Sesame Oil.  Turns out it makes excellent hummus!

So this is my adjusted recipe for the fact that I used less than the needed amount of beans:

About one cup of chickpeas if using dried OR One can, rinsed
1T Lemon juice
1T olive oil
1 garlic clove
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt ( we thought it needed a bit more)
1/8 tsp pepper
1 1/2 T sesame oil
2-3 T of warm water

Of course I took pictures!

All those ingredients!  And of course a Lone Star Tallie since it was the weekend!
You can't see it but the blades are spinning up the oils!

Then in go the beans! (Poor little guys!)

And voila!  Hummus that tastes like the store!
Ok, it didn't taste EXACTLY like the store but that's only because I needed to add a bit more salt and a bit more olive oil.  But for a first try it's pretty amazing! I'm always a little hesitant when it comes to salt anyway.  Also, since it was a bit of a 'finagled' recipe, meaning a bit of adjustments, I had to do math and we all know what happens when I do math!

I highly recommend trying this at home if you like hummus!  I can't wait to make it again myself!

What is your favorite thing to smear on pita?