Cocoa Crunch

My childhood is filled with memories of breakfast cereal.  Supposedly, as a toddler I enjoyed an entire box of BooBerry all by myself.  I was there and yet I don’t know if this is a tall tale my family liked to tell or if it really happened.  But in the absence of anything to indicate otherwise, I’m going to accept it as the truth.

Also truth is the abundance of sugar in nearly every box of cereal that came into our house.  Frosted Flakes?  Says it right in the name.  Cap’n Crunch?  Sounds wholesome enough.  Those sharp cornered nuggets cut the inside of my mouth…every.single.time…but I didn’t care.  I was loyal to the Cap’n and his sugary cargo.  Crunch Berries.  Peanut Butter Crunch.  The sweeter the better.

The one exception was Rice Krispies.  I’m not sure how they continually snuck into the rotation.  Or course, spoonfuls of sugar sprinkled on top of them negated their “healthy” status.  It didn’t really do much for the cereal.  But man, it did wonders for the milk.

As an adult, my taste in cereal has gotten a little more sophisticated.  Homemade granola tops my list.  But you’ll also find me putting Cheerios, Chex, and the occasional box of Frosted Mini Wheats into my grocery cart.  Sure, I could revive my past relationship with Tony the Tiger but I suspect that I would scarcely recognize him today.  My memory of those frosted flakes has softened with age and some things are simply best left in the past.

This doesn’t mean that I have banished sweetened cereals from Miss Libby’s childhood.  I just keep a tighter rein on them.  Often those Cheerios in my cart are of the Honey Nut variety…in part because I’m not buying separate cereal for The Mistah and The Miss and that’s one they will both eat.  And when we go on vacation, Libby is allowed to choose her own box of cereal at the grocery store.  She can eat as much as she likes but at the end of our trip whatever is left does not get packed up in the car to come home with us.

And on rare occasions, I bust out a few simple ingredients and concoct a grown up version of a cereal that young me would have definitely enjoyed.  I hide it so that it doesn’t get gobbled up quicker than you can say snap, crackle, pop.  And I’m ok with that.  Because out of sight is less likely to result in me eating a whole batch of it by myself…..see reference to the BooBerry incident above.

Cocoa Crunch

Adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen

BAH Note:  Like many of the recipes that have found their way into my world, I spotted this on Alexandra’s blog.  My note on the page I printed out simply said HELLS YEAH.  And I always make a double batch.  Take that as you will.

  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups crispy rice cereal
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (coconut oil if you’re feeling fancy)
  • 1.5 ounce 60% dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup agave nectar, maple syrup, or golden syrup (not corn syrup)

Set the oven to 275 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, rice cereal, coconut, cocoa, and salt.

Heat the oil and chocolate in the microwave in 30 second pulses until the chocolate has melted.  Stir to fully combine the oil and chocolate.  Add the liquid sweetener to the melted mixture then pour into the dry ingredients and stir to mix well.

Spread in an even layer on the baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

{printable recipe}

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Random Recipes You Need

to post graphic

I’ve been digging around the junk drawer that is my draft folder.  In a concerted effort to clear out the mental clutter, I’m posting this drafts ‘as is’….

This is the final installment of my draft folder clean out.  These are recipes I’ve made and hope to make again.  But like the random bits of life that accumulate at the back of the junk drawer….fuzz, dental floss, gift cards, subway tokens, and floppy disks….it is all getting cleaned up in one fell swoop.

 Chocolate Coconut Pound Cake via bonappetit.com

Quick Pickled Cucumbers from foodinjars.com

Roasted Tomato and Bread Soup by alexandracooks.com

Salt and Pepper Roasted Chicken Breast a la taylortakesataste.com

Short Rib Ragu from the pages of finecooking.com

Dorie’s Cardamom Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles as seen on doriegreenspan.com

 

Red Pepper Tomato Sauce

Red Pepper and TomatoI have a news flash for you…life with a one year old is pretty freaking chaotic. Pick me up, put me down, catch me, chase me up the stairs, read me a book, let’s play picnic, BANANA! Put that on a loop and repeat at 90 second intervals throughout the day.  This can’t possibly continue indefinitely, can it?  Because just typing that sentence makes me feel manic AND exhausted.

In my house there are two barometers that show the current level of crazy.  The toys scattered around every inch of floor space don’t count because that’s just a given.  No, I’m talking about the dining room table and the refrigerator.

When the surface of the table is no longer visible because of the mail, receipts, grocery bags, boxes and cans of food that didn’t get put away, daily reports from daycare, lunch bags, the Sunday Post, and god only knows what else, it makes me twitchy.  The longer the mess sits around, the more anxious I get, until finally I go through it grumbling and cursing the whole time about people not cleaning up after themselves.  Naturally then, the majority of the crap on the table turns out to be mine.  So I could save myself a whole lot of time and aggravation by either not letting the table deteriorate into a DEFCON 1 situation or by choosing to ignore it.

Likewise, peeking into the fridge will give you a pretty accurate assessment of my mental state even if I’m faking it with the dining room table organization.  Is the fridge relatively clean?  Then all is well…or as well as it can be.  Is the fridge disorganized and maybe a wee bit crowded? This tells you that I am being hijacked by my toddler to entertain her.  This may or may not include viewing episodes of Peppa Pig and hosting spontaneous dance parties in the kitchen . Does my fridge have an unidentified funk that haunts your senses?  Then simply close the door and run because the person having a nuclear meltdown in the corner is not my child, it is me.  Little Miss won’t take a nap and refuses to drink milk from anything but a bottle, she insists on watering the tables with the contents of her sippy cups, there is cat litter scattered all over the floor along with cheerios and bits of half chewed chicken, I have three or four sewing projects in various stages of completion, the dirty laundry is multiplying exponentially, and there is a knob of ginger on my counter that I have so utterly neglected that it actually sprouted.

By the time things actually start to smell, pretending not to notice….the chaos or the funk…is no longer an option.  That’s where I was last night.  So while The Mistah was on duty with bath night (also known as I will scream at you until you take me out of this damn tub), I emptied the fridge shelf by shelf, sniffed out the offenders (yeah, I’m looking at you cauliflower and ignored cup of milk), tossed a few other things that were about to take a turn for the stinky, wiped everything down, and restored order in my Frigidaire.  And damn if it didn’t feel so good when I was done that I kept going with the clean and tackled my stovetop.  For someone who hasn’t been doing a whole lot in the kitchen, I sure managed to make one hell of a mess of my stove.

Along with the physical clutter that I cleared out, I also gave myself a bit of mental breathing room.  And I have to say that felt pretty good too.  I know it will get better and that eventually Miss Libby won’t need constant supervision. Which means that my days of manic exhaustion are numbered.

Red Pepper Tomato Sauce

Adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen

BAH Note:  I wanted a bigger batch of this sauce so that I could put some up in the freezer for those DEFCON 1 days.  Since I didn’t bother to write down a single note on how much tomato or peppers I used, I’m going to use the quantity from Alexandra’s post as a starting point.  You can bend and twist this to your liking.

PS…I discovered that this also makes the base for a pretty rocking red pepper tomato soup.  So you do what you like.

  • 2 cups red bell peppers, chopped (about 2 peppers)
  • 2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • basil (optional)

Place the peppers, tomato, salt, pepper, and water in a pot.  Simmer for approximately 30 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.  If the tomatoes want to stick to the pan during cooking, add a bit more water to the pot.

The sauce is done when the tomatoes and peppers are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.  Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor, add the basil (if using) and process till smooth.

Return the sauce to the pot and add the butter and olive oil. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper as desired.   Serve with your pasta of choice, or if the day has been really bad, enjoy a nice tomato sauce sandwich.

{printable recipe}

#1 Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

CC Cookie Dough

Thanks to watching too many episodes of BBQ Pitmaster, The Mistah and I have started referring to ourselves in a rather bizarre third person way.  I’ll try and explain.  On each episode there are three new competitors.  They have a friendly little showdown where they all have to submit their version of two different staples from the world of bbq….ribs, brisket, pork belly, etc.  The judging is blind…entries are only identified to the judges by a number (#1, #2, #3).  But the competitors get to watch the judging in a little Pitmaster Lounge.

{tangent} Hello Pitmasters, you just spent 12 hours working your ass off and the best you get for a lounge in some folding chairs, a few bbq related props, and a television so you can watch the judges critique your entry?  My biscuits would be a little burned up about that…I’m just saying. {end tangent}

So as each competitor’s dish is being discussed and sampled by the judges, there is this highly annoying ritual that takes place:

Judge:  “Let’s judge the entries for taste, tenderness, and appearance.  Entry #1.”

Competitor: “#1, Smokin’ Crack, that’s me!”

Judge:  “Entry #2”

Competitor: “#2, Slap Daddy, that’s me!”

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.  And this happens every single freaking time the judges refer to the entries.  I think they could cut the show down to 30 minutes if they would stop this insanity.

So The Mistah and I started jokingly coming up with random third person names for ourselves .  Just last night I called him #1 Best Dada.  And we pretty consistently call Libby #1 Best Baby (because hello, have you met her… she totally is).

{tangent} The funny thing is that these names also remind me of storefront Chinese restaurants…#1 Chinese Restaurant, #1 Chinese Carryout (both of which are actual restaurant names according to yellowpages.com).  Can they all be the #1 Best? {end tangent}

What does any of this have to do with cookies?  Only that when I sat down to tell you about these cookies, I wanted to find a way to convey that they are the absolute. best. chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made.  So I pulled out the BBQ Pitmaster third person name generator and came up with #1 Best Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I think it makes my point.

What makes these so special?

#1 Reason, they bake up thin AND chewy, that’s me. Thin and chewy is my own personal flavor of cookie perfection.

#2 Reason, they nail the salty/sweet thing perfectly, that’s me.  You definitely taste both but neither is overwhelming.

#3 Reason, they freeze beautifully, that’s me.  I don’t mean after you’ve baked them.  They don’t last long enough in their baked form to worry about long term storage solutions.  But you can scoop the dough onto a sheet pan lined with parchment and put it in the freezer overnight.  The next day transfer the dough to a freezer bag, seal, and pretend you don’t know they are there.  When you need a quick bite of something sweet, pull out one or two dough balls.  Whether you choose to bake them off or eat them as is….that’s totally up to you.  I’ve done both and to this question there really is no wrong answer.

I have a second refrigerator being delivered this weekend….now that Miss Libby is drinking milk we buy it two and three gallons at a time and that takes up some serious refrigerator space.  At least that’s the reason I used with The Mistah for why we needed it.  That there would also be additional freezer space for things like cookie dough, well that’s just the butter on my biscuit.

#1 Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Canal House Cooks and Alexandra’s Kitchen

BAH Note:  Go. Make. These. Now.  You’ll thank me.  And if you have a kitchen scale, I recommend using it.  Makes measuring sooooo much easier.  Again, you’ll thank me.  The quantity of salt is not a misprint….2 teaspoons.

PS, there was a lot of discussion on Alexandra’s original post talking about alternate oven temps, how thin these are supposed to be, etc.  And she has pictures of the cookies after they’ve been baked.  So you might want to mosey over there and take a look.

  • 10 ounces butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (298 grams) brown sugar (dark or light, you choose)
  • 3/4 cup (149 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (265 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 ounces chocolate chips

Heat your oven to 375 degrees and line two sheet pans with parchment.  Combine the butter, sugars, vanilla, and salt in the work bowl of your mixer (paddle attachment please) and mix on medium high for approximately 3 minutes until the mixture becomes light.  Add the eggs and mix on medium for about 2 minutes until the eggs are incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the 1 3/4 cups flour and baking soda.  Add the flour mixture to them dough and mix on medium for about 2 minutes.  Remove the bowl from your mixer.

In yet another bowl, combine the chocolate chips with the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour.  Use a spatula to stir the flour coated chocolate chips into your dough by hand.  This is to keep you from over mixing your dough.

Use a small ice cream scoop to portion your dough onto the prepared sheet pans.  You want each scoop to be approximately 1 tablespoon…give or take…and I would put no more than four scoops of dough on each pan….these spread like wildfire.

Bake approximately 10 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.  The cookies will be thin and the center may look a bit not set but don’t bake for longer than 11 minutes.  Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

{printable recipe}

Savory

Savory

While The Mistah and I don’t exclusively eat South Beach cookbook recipes anymore, I still keep my eyes open for SB Friendly recipes on the Interwebs.  What can I say, the SB approach really has worked for us.  I still have people tell me that the weight loss is noticeable, and this is almost two years later.  I may not have reached that elusive Driver’s License weight, but I’m more comfortable in my own skin that I have been in quite some time.  And it doesn’t hurt that the SB Friendly dishes we eat taste good or that The Mistah says my skinny jeans look freaking awesome.

Cottage Cheese and Cheddar Muffins

From Alexandra’s Kitchen (who also references Kalyn’s Kitchen and 101 Cookbooks)

BAH Note:  You don’t have to be on South Beach to enjoy this savory muffin.  It makes a great light snack or quick breakfast if you make them in advance.  Don’t be like me and neglect to spray the paper liners with cooking spray.  Because scraping savory muffin out of the paper liner is not a good start to a day. And be prepared to pay a pretty penny for the almond flour.  Luckily, there’s a French Macaron recipe in The Sweet Life in Paris that uses almond flour.  While definitely not a SB Friendly recipe, I think there’s room for French cookies once in a while...at least until the skinny jeans tell me otherwise.

  • 2/3 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 slices canadian bacon

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the cottage cheese, Parmesan, wheat and almond flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Beat the eggs and water together and add to the bowl.  Mix well to combine.   Add the canadian bacon and grated cheddar to the bowl and fold to combine.

Place 8 paper liners in a muffin pan and coat the liners lightly with a nonstick cooking spray.  Divide the batter among the liners and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned and the egg has set.

Leftover muffins can be cooled completely and stored in the refrigerator.

{printable recipe}

It’s A Major Award

kreativblogger

Anyone who has ever been a roommate of mine can attest to the fact that I have an unnatural, almost freakish compulsion to watch A Christmas Story (ACS) anytime it is on television.  The Mistah learned this the hard way one Christmas Eve as I sat glued to TNT during their 24 hour ACS marathon.  That man, he puts up with a lot without so much as a complaint.  He just went down to the basement where he had days worth of European Soccer games waiting for him on Tivo.  Nothing says Happy Holidays like quality time spent in front of the tele. Continue reading “It’s A Major Award”