Category Archives: Snacks

Strawberry Banana Coffee Cake

I can’t seem to stop shoveling strawberries in my mouth.

Anyone else having this problem?

Okay. Good. Glad we are on the same page.

I love when you can tell the true changing of the seasons by how produce tastes. I took one bite of a particularly vibrantly colored, delicately sweet and meaty strawberry about a month ago and said, “You guys! It’s officially spring!” The Dude and Monkey looked up from their plates with little to no interest and continued on with their respective lunches.

Oh well. I’m not sure what kind of grand response I was expecting from my exclamation.

Okay that is a lie. I was actually hoping for a little mini fiesta break, like in that commercial for the taco shells.

The one where they are lamenting over the round taco shell and the little kid says in subtitles “why not make it flat on the bottom?” and then the commercial cuts to a little party where they fling him up in the air and throw confetti.

So yeah, that is what I was hoping for. A quick springtime party with confetti and a mariachi band.

Digress much?

So when I can hold on to a few strawberries without eating them, I actually really really love to bake with them. (Remember these little cookies?)

Here is my latest strawberry concoction. A lovely little coffee cake, if it pleases you.

Oh and yes you may notice that there does not appear to be a large amount of strawberries on this cake…well…I’ll be honest with you. I ate too many before I baked up this batch for the pictures. Woopsie. (P.S. It is also the reason that I have all of two pictures of the cake in this post. Hey. This is real life. And strawberries get eaten in real life.)

This cake is sweet and dense, offering a nice contrast to the crumbly struesel layer all over the top. And the nutmeg and cinnamon thing going through it all? Sign me up! I love the way that nutmeg tastes with strawberries. The spiciness stands up so well to the smooth sweetness of the fruit.

Love it!

Happy Spring, ya’ll!

Strawberry Banana Coffee Cake

1/2 cup (heaping) diced, fresh strawberries

1/2 tablespoon sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup (about 1 medium) mashed black bananas

2 eggs

1/2 cup honey

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled

1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350.

In a small bowl combine strawberries and sugar. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes, while mixing the other ingredients.

In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine bananas, eggs, honey, vanilla, butter, and milk.

Dump the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until just combined.

Pour batter into a well greased, 8×8 baking dish.

Drain strawberries and scatter them over the top of the cake batter. Gently press strawberries into the top of the cake with the back of a spoon.

Sprinkle struesel (recipe below) over the top of the cake. Note: I only used about 3/4 of the mixture to top the cake.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Streusel Topping

1/2 tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes

In a small bowl stir together the cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and flour.

Then using your fingers or a fork, quickly work the butter into the flour and sugar until it becomes the consistency of cornmeal and only small pea-sized chunks of butter remain.

Almond Butter Fruit Dip

Sometimes unexpected things happen in the kitchen.

Sometimes they are more of the unwelcome variety. For example, this morning I was getting supper ready to go in the slow cooker. I quickly reached into the refrigerator to grab a box of chicken broth and immediately started shaking it up. Suddenly everything was covered! If I had been a little bit more careful and had payed any attention to what I was doing at all, I would have noticed that the little tab was not secure. So I totally covered not only the kitchen, but also my poor Little Monkey who happened to be standing right in the line of fire. And let me tell you, she did not appreciate it either. I, being the very picture of maturity, thought it was pretty darn funny; and proceeded to teasingly tell her I was going to eat her since she smelled so delicious.

That probably didn’t help her feel better about the situation. Oh well. The Dude would have appreciated it, but she was at preschool. Le sigh.

So there are the not so great unexpected kitchen happenings, but there are also some delicious ones.

Remember back when I made this breakfast cake? Well, when I was tasting as I went along making that cake, I found out something quite unexpected.

There is a second little recipe hidden inside.

A tasty fruit dip recipe.

Oh yes.

If you stir together a little almond butter, Greek yogurt, brown sugar, and vanilla; bam! Sliced fruit just turned into a more interesting and filling snack.

This stuff is crazy good. Super rich and nutty (duh!) from the almond butter, with a little tang from the yogurt. It is sweet, obviously, but not so much that it overpowers the sweet fruit slices you have going on. And it really does make a filling snack (ahem…or lunch..oops), thanks to all of the protein and healthy fats that are packed in from the almonds and yogurt. Score!

Almond Butter Fruit Dip

3/4 cup almond butter (you can whip up my recipe found here)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon vanilla

Stir together almond butter and brown sugar until well combined.

Fold in Greek yogurt and vanilla.

May be served immediately or after a couple of hours left in the refrigerator to chill with fruit slices, graham crackers, pretzels, etc.

Old Fashioned Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

No I did not stutter in my title.

I am presenting you with a cookie made of old fashioned oats, that tastes like an Old Fashioned cocktail.

Ya feel me?

This whole thing came to be because I have a slight Mad Men obsession. Every time I get out our big canister of old fashioned oats, I think to myself, “Ha! I should make this bowl of oatmeal Old Fashioned just like Don Draper’s favorite drink.” Well, of course that would be ridiculous (…even though I am probably going to try it…), but then I got to thinking about what else old fashioned oats are good for.

Bam! A cookie idea was born.

I totally got in touch with my inner Betty Draper in order to make these too. Oh boy.

Well first off, I showed up at the liquor store right whenever it opened…at 11 AM…to buy bitters…with a barefoot Monkey on my hip.

Mmm hmm. I’ll just let that mental image sink in for a moment.

Classy huh? I felt like to really complete the picture I should have stood outside the store and smoked a cigarette while I let her play in the parking lot.

Well, as it turns out, the ABC Store doesn’t sell bitters. And apparently you can just buy it right at your grocery store.  It is over next to the grenadine and margarita salt. So you can save yourself the embarrassment and just keep your barefoot babies where the belong ya’ll — at the grocery store.

Shoo.

So when I got home after picking up The Dude from preschool I immediately mixed myself up a little Old Fashioned cocktail. You know, just a little something something to take the edge off with my lunch.

Okay I am totally kidding. I mean, I did mix up the drink, but only so I could taste it because I had never had an Old Fashioned before. And I figured I should probably try the actual drink before I attempted a baked good that it was inspired by. Now before you go calling DHR on me, I will have you know I only had a few sips. Promise. But I will tell you, even having only a few sips of hard liquor in the middle of the day made me feel so Betty.

I have never felt more strongly connected to the Draper family.

Wow. The 60’s must have been a real special time to be a parent.

You know what else is real special? These cookies.

They are soft and chewy (aren’t the best cookies always soft and chewy?) with a nice little spicy punch from the orange zest and bitters which, as it turns out, is a really fun little flavoring (think along the lines of pumpkin pie spice). The bourbon is understated and lends a heady sweetness that is balanced out by the tart cherries.

Here’s the recipe.

Old Fashioned Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

makes 1 dozen cookies

1/2 cup salted butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons milled flax seed + 4 tablespoons water (or 1 egg)

1/2 teaspoon Angostura bitters

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

4 tablespoons bourbon

4 tablespoons dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350.

In a mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. About 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile in a medium bowl, combine oats, flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Add flax “egg” (I used the flax egg method in my testing because I wanted to taste the dough as I went along, but had every intention of making the cookies with a real egg. However, I liked the nuttiness the flax gave the cookies so much, I decided to keep it in my final recipe. You can add a real egg if you prefer, though.) and stir until combined.

Mix in bitters, vanilla, orange zest, and bourbon to the butter mixture.

Dump the dry ingredients into the wet, and stir until combined.

Give the cherries a rough chop and fold them into the cookie dough.

Mound the dough into 2 tablespoon sized balls onto a greased cookie sheet, and gently flatten out just a bit with your hand.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Baked Oatmeal Cinnamon Toast

A few months back, I did something pretty outrageous for a busy mom of two small children to do.

I outlawed cereal in this house.

Yes, when you are all bleary eyed first thing in the morning, haven’t even had a sip of coffee yet, but have two kids who are depending on you to feed them, you just want to throw something at them fast. And I’ll be the first one to admit, it doesn’t get any faster than cereal and milk.

When I really thought about it honestly though, cereal (especially the ones you can get kids to eat the easiest) really aren’t that great of a way to start the day. And I wasn’t even feeding them the “bad” kinds. I knew better than to be feeding them the ones that are obviously just sugar, but even the varieties that are touted as healthy are really just a bunch of empty calories. Still, I kept ignoring that little voice that kept trying to tell me that this probably was not the best way to start the day.

But then I realized we were all starving about an hour after breakfast. Amazingly, right around the same time I would start trying to think of a way to sneak out of whatever game I was playing with the girls to go grab a handful of nuts or something, The Dude would start asking to eat again. And once she was able to communicate it, Little Monkey Mode would do the same.

Well I don’t know if there many things more annoying to a mom who is cranky from a blood sugar drop than two whiny kids who are also cranky from a blood sugar drop and asking to eat again when she just cleaned up the kitchen from breakfast. Then said mom looks at the clock and realizes it is only 8:30. So she  starts banging around in the cabinets to find something else for everyone to eat while hearing herself say something brilliant like, “Ohmagosh! How can ya’ll seriously be hungry again already? We just ate?”

And that is why the cereal madness had to stop. Tasty and easy as it may be, I basically just figured it was a waste of everyone’s time to eat it.

So a couple of nights a week, I will whip up a quick oatmeal to bake the next morning while I am working out before everyone else is awake. We never eat the entire pan, which has turned out to be a good thing because I have figured out a really tasty way to eat those leftovers.

Basically, I am going to break down a method for you rather than a recipe, but I will tell you the basic formula for my baked oatmeal because I rarely make it the same way twice.

I let the oatmeal that I am making depend on the mood that I am in that evening or what kinds of things I think the girls would like, or what types of fruit or veggies I think that they haven’t had enough of at the time. But the formula roughly consists of 2 cups of oatmeal, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup of liquid (some type of milk or leftover smoothie…yes that’s right smoothie…), 1/2 cup mashed up fruit or veg (banana, applesauce, pumpkin…), 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt or silken tofu, 1 egg, and 1 to 1/2 cup of dried fruits (apricots, raisins, cranberries, cherries…).

I will pour the mixture into a greased 8×8 pan, cover with tin foil, and place in the refrigerator until the next morning. I will bake it for about 30 to 40 minutes at 350.

You might notice that my “recipe” is not very sweet. This is because I have weaned us off of a lot of real sugary foods. But to make The Dude feel special, I will usually let her dip her squares into a small cup of maple syrup.

Plus, I don’t feel bad about dousing it in cinnamon sugar the next day. Here is how we do that.

Cut your remaining pieces into desired sized squares. Then cut down the middle into two thin slices with a sharp, serrated knife. (This is why you just about have to use leftover oatmeal. It needs to be a little firmer to work well.)

(wow this shot looks rather violent huh?)

Then spread on some butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Place these puppies under the broiler until the sugar is melted and bubbling with the butter, and the edges of the oatmeal are turning brown and starting to crisp.

Holy smokes! Do you see that crispy edge?? Now this is some seriously tasty, non-blood sugar crashing, non-cereal breakfast, friends!

P.S. If you would like a more concrete baked oatmeal square recipe than the one I gave you, here are a couple of good basic ones that I really like a lot. (They happen to be vegan, but that is really just a coincidence…)

Mama Pea’s Baked Oatmeal Squares

On The Glow Basic Oatmeal Squares

Apple Pie “Lara”balls

Wanna hear a cute yet slightly embarrassing story?

Wow. You answered,”yes” really quickly to that.

I have felt so blessed and proud of my sweet girls the past couple of days. All of a sudden, they have started genuinely playing together. And not in that, they are both interested in the same toy so it looks like they are playing but The Dude is really only seconds away from snatching it from Monk and getting the heck out of there, leaving me to discipline and wipe away everyone’s tears kind of way. But genuinely enjoying a little activity together to the point where they do not need nor do they want me around to supervise. Amazing. It has been the very thing that The Hubs and I have imagined ever since I found out I was pregnant with sweet Monkey.

And SO helpful! Holy cow. You would not believe all of the stuff I am getting done while they are playing together. I will get within earshot and take the opportunity to fold laundry, actually put said laundry away (shocking!), and sometimes even get to the really important task of checking my twitter feed every five seconds.

Yep. Life has been grand around here for me. Until I had to make the party stop yesterday afternoon.

The Dude walked in with her new “kite.

(Update: The Hubs thought maybe a picture of The Dude holding her “kite” was probably inappropriate. And I figure he is probably right.)

…a feminine hygiene product.

Mmm hmm, that is what I failed to tell you about the sweet game that Monkey and The Dude have been playing together. They found a couple of boxes of those under my sink and that was what they were playing with.It was a pretty simple game, but apparently loads of fun. The Dude would sit in my bathtub and throw them out onto the floor; then Monk would go around and pick them up and throw them back in the tub. Now they obviously have no idea what they were playing with, and I had been waiting for this glorious playtime for so long that I just let them keep at it.

But once The Dude managed to get inside the package and come out swinging the contents by the string, I decided it was time to end the little game.

Bummer.

So this story had absolutely nothing to do with today’s recipe, other than this is what I was whipping up when The Dude whipped out her kite.

Now I know that homemade Larabars are totally predictable. Yes, you have seen them time and again from food bloggers. But friends, these are awesome! They taste like a treat, but they are actually healthy; chocked full of heart healthy walnuts and flax seed. The apples are sweet, but not to the point of tasting like candy and you get a nice punch from the cinnamon and allspice. I really wanted to add some cayenne to these, but since I was planning on sharing them with little kids, I decided to abstain.

Now if you will excuse me, I have some cleaning up to do in the bathroom.

No wait.

Maybe I will just leave them scattered all over the bathroom to scare The Hubs.

Apple Pie “Lara”balls

makes 12 balls

1 cup raw walnuts

2/3 cup dried apples

2 tablespoons chopped dried dates

1 tablespoon golden flax seed

3/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon apple juice

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the walnuts and apples are in pea sized chunks.

Then turn on high speed until mixture is beginning to smooth and will form a ball if you press some pieces together with your fingers.

Press mixture into walnut sized balls, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

I mainly added this picture to document that I actually had my nails neatly painted for five minutes. (The sparkly top coat was all The Dude’s idea.)

Baked Eggs in Ham Cups

So I know I have mentioned it a couple of times already, but my sweet Hubs is a bit CrossFit obsessed.

I mean seriously.

Like to the point where he is voluntarily trying to kill himself to submit his workouts to The Open. And where the subject of the Paleo diet (the CrossFit recommended eating plan), which used to be a totally hypothetical discussion wherein we would end the chat laughing about how ridiculous it would be for us to try to eat that way since he doesn’t eat veggies and I don’t really care if meat is on my plate or not, has now become a real thing that we are trying to do at least one night a week.

So it has turned into sort of a fun new cooking challenge for me. Sure, it is frustrating too because now I have three picky folks to try to feed with a long list of restricted ingredients. But I am trying to make it work. And while I have had a few massive fails. (You know who you are, freaky guacamole/chicken fiasco, from a few nights ago!) Here is one that was definitely not a fail.

This recipe is basically all protein and contains not a single grain, dairy, or legume item (Phew!). If you served it up along side a heaping pile of fruit salad or veggies of choice, you would be doing pretty darn well. Or if you just want them to snack on, they are perfectly delicious at room temperature.

I feel like I should mention here that there really may be something to the urban legend you hear from celebrity chefs about how if you get your kids to help you make something, then they are more likely to eat it. When I made these, I knew that The Hubs and I would like them, but I honestly didn’t think that The Dude would be into it. Ever since she started school, she has gotten terrible about shunning foods that she used to love (eggs being one them). But I had her help me with every step including stirring the egg mixture and I am proud to tell you that she ate an entire egg cup! So maybe kids really are more likely to eat stuff if they have some ownership on it.

Here’s what we did.

I separated out some thin deli ham for The Dude and let her place them in the cups for me while I cracked some eggs in a bowl.

Then I said, “Look! Do you see that over there?!” to distract her while I went through and pressed the ham into the cups neatly.

Then I added the salsa, salt, pepper, paprika, and cilantro to the eggs, handed over the whisk, and let her have a go.

Then I poured the mixture evenly into the ham cups (a bowl with a spout or measuring cup makes things quite easy here) and baked those bad boys up.

Paleo meal (or snack) is served folks!

Baked Eggs in Ham Cups

makes 6 cups

6  slices thin deli ham

3 eggs

1 tablespoons salsa

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

Place one slice of ham into 6 ungreased tins, creating little cups and set aside.

Place about 1/4 inch of water in the remaining wells.

In a medium bowl combine eggs, salsa, paprika, cilantro, and salt and pepper.

Pour egg mixture into each ham cup about 3/4 full.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Allow to cool in the muffin tins for 2 minutes and then gently lift out with a fork and place on a cooling rack until ready to eat. (The water that bakes out of the ham can make it soggy if you leave them in the pan.)

Serve warm or at room temperature.

P.S. I would just like acknowledge for anyone who noticed, that yes I was gone for a couple of weeks (It really bothers me for some reason when people start off their blog posts with “sorry I have been MIA recently…”). Believe it or not, I still haven’t burned out of this little hobby of mine yet. Rather, someone with whom I was extremely close and has been one of my best friends since I was a teenager passed away a week and a half ago. It was the first time that someone I had a very strong relationship with died, and it has obviously left me reeling. Basically, I just needed a little time to get some motivation to get back in the normal swing of things. I will probably devote a whole post (or ten) to her at some point when it will be something I can write about without it sounding like some sort of a weepy obituary. In the meantime I will just  keep on squeezing my kids every chance I get, telling the people I love that I love them, and cooking up a storm. I urge you to do the same.

P.P.S. Sorry. I couldn’t end the post on such a sad note. This is supposed to be a fun place. So here is my favorite picture of The Dude from this little photo shoot.

Now if you will excuse me, I gotta go give that silly face a kiss.

Amazing Cold Fighting Cookies

This week has totally kicked my tail.

I think I mentioned last Saturday that The Dude was sick. Well she is better now, but of course Monkey and I caught her cold. That by itself wouldn’t be so bad except that I was a single parent this week.

The Hubs had to go out of town for work. When he left I had a whole list of fun projects I would do while I had the house to myself after the girls went to bed. I was going to work on recipes, get some random deep cleaning done, try out a project on my new sewing machine, and maybe paint my fingernails while watching Sex and the City. But then the day after he left, Monkey Mode and I woke up with fevers. Swell. So guess how many of those things I got to check off of my to-do list?

That’s right. A big fat zero.

Oh well. I know things could be worse. A lot worse for that matter. But knowing that doesn’t change the fact that it was a crappy week.

So anyway, since everyone is disease fighting around these parts, I naturally started forcing citrus down their throats as often as possible. But then I thought about zinc and what a wonderful immune booster it is.  So I started Googling foods that are high in Zinc. Well gosh darn it if wheat germ isn’t number two on the list — one of my favorite foods to throw into baked goods and oatmeal. In fact, one of my new found favorite cookies has wheat germ as one of the main ingredients.

So I was inspired to bake up a citrusy, wheat germy (how appetizing does that made up word sound??) treat that the girls would get excited about eating to help bolster that immune system a bit.

Here is what I came up with. I think you will like them. Light and healthy. The wheat germ is fun because it doesn’t weigh the cookies down like whole wheat flour does. It actually stays quite tender and gives the cookies a slightly nutty flavor. And the grapefruit (I know this is a shocking ingredient choice since I have never used grapefruit in any of my recipes before…) is understated and gives it a nice sweet freshness. The honey sweetens them up with a pretty floral note. Lovely

As with most of the baked goods that The Dude and I to make together, I used flax seed in the place of an egg. I like that it adds in some healthy fats, but mostly I just like that I don’t have to worry about rogue fingers scooping samples as we go. You can definitely substitute an egg if you would rather. But I will also tell you honestly that while we enjoyed the baked cookies, we also just snacked on the leftover dough straight out of the refrigerator. So I’m just saying that it wouldn’t be the worst thing that you ever did to treat your sick kiddos to Amazing cold Fighting Cookie Dough…just sayin’.

Amazing Cold Fighting Cookies

1/4 cup milled flax seed

1/2 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (1 medium grapefruit)

5 tablespoons butter, softened

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup wheat germ

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup oats

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon soda

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground ginger to taste

Combine flax seed and grapefruit juice in a small bowl and set aside.

Beat butter, honey, and vanilla until well combined 2-3 minutes.

In a separate bowl combine  wheat germ, flour, oats, salt, soda, and ginger.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir until just combined.

Pour in the grapefruit mixture.

Place dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to set.

Preheat oven to 350.

Place 2 tablespoon sized mounds onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes. (The cookie will still be slightly soft to the touch. Do not over bake.)

Dough will keep up to a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

I asked The Dude to show me what cookies would look like if they were fighting a cold.

I’m not sure if she totally caught my meaning, but it is still cute.