Cookies, Valentine's Day

Homemade Graham Crackers

February 10, 2013

You’ve got mail…

Cookie mail.

Well, I guess technically these are crackers and not cookies. Although they seem like a cookie to me. You usually eat them with sweet things, not savoury like a cracker.

However, they are so delicious that I think a slice of goat cheese with some fruit would be a wonderful pairing with these graham cracker cookies.

Graham crackers are something that I enjoy on occasion, and have seen recipes to make your own, but again, it’s something I had not thought of making. Anything homemade is way better than store bought, that’s for sure. Going unprocessed more often means your getting more whole foods. Though, with this being a sweet cracker it isn’t exactly a ‘whole’ food, but homemade sure is better than bought. I can’t remember the last time I even bought a box of cookies, you will never find one in our house, but a week or two ago a student brought in those chocolate chunk type cookies for the class and I ate one – I couldn’t believe how much they tasted like chemicals / preservatives. There was a sort of industrial tinge, really quite disgusting, leaving a sour taste in my mouth. I couldn’t believe how processed they tasted – and quite dry I might add.

I’m definitely going to venture into making more products at home, instead of buying them in store. I actually found a wheat free recipe for graham crackers too (for those with allergies like me), which uses coconut flour and almond flour, but first I wanted to try the regular type (though I couldn’t actually find graham flour).

These come together really fast and easy using only a food processor for most of the work.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner I thought some graham crackers would be a great staple to try – delicious on their own, customizable or great for other baking – and they look so darling wrapped up in bakers twine (one of the faux-pas of 2012 food bloggers, but since I had it and had not used it I just really wanted to tie something in twine)

I’m not sure what we will end up doing for Valentine’s day this year – I have a midterm the next day! But we’ve been leaving little loves notes / treats in the mailboxes all week long for each other to find in the morning. I know, I know.. cheesy. ‘Tis the season.

If you’re looking for something else to bake this Valentine’s, try my dark chocolate Valentine Cupcakes as well!

I couldn’t decide which shape I wanted, of course my ‘everything at a right angle’ obsession lead me to love the original square shape, but I also made some with a fluted circle, and plain circle cut out.

If you love graham crackers but never made them, do yourself a favour and try it! They are super easy, and so much better than store bought.

Step one – Make the dough

Step two – Chill the dough

Step three – Roll out the dough

Step four – Cut out and bake the dough

You can make any shape your heart desires – all are equally delectable

 And just for fun – the adorable Valentine mailboxes I picked up from Target make a sweet little delivery service

Couldn’t help but use my bakers twine! What a cute little package

His & Hers

Homemade Graham Crackers 

Makes about 3 dozen.

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup demerara sugar (I’m sure regular brown sugar, or turbinado sugar would be fine)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place two cookie sheets in fridge/freezer to chill.

In a food processor add the whole wheat flour,  demerara sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Pulse a few times to mix thoroughly.

In glass measuring cup add warm water to equal 1/4 cup. Add the honey until mixture reachers 1/2 cup together (pour in honey and watch the water/honey mixture rise to 1/2 cup mark). Add the melted butter and vanilla to measuring cup and stir gently to dissolve.

Add the honey, water,vanilla, and melted butter mixture to the dry ingredients in food processor. Mix until dough just comes together.

You can pulse a few times until it begins to form – or you can turn it on and watch it take form, stopping it before it makes one large clump.

Divide the dough in half and form each half into a thick disk, wrap with plastic wrap tightly. Chill for about an hour, or until the dough is firm.

Once dough is chilled, take one disk and lightly flour your working surface. I used my Silpat mat and floured it as well, using a piece of plastic wrap on top to roll the dough between the two. You’ll want it about 1/8 of an inch.

Using whichever cookie cutter shape you like, cut out the cracker – re-working the scraps as you go. Place them on chilled cookie sheets and return to freezer for 10 minutes before baking – this will help them stay in shape, as the dough will have warmed up while rolling it out. I highly recommend you chill them once rolled out. I recommend chilling before each batch.

Before placing them in the oven you can use a fork to mark the tops of the crackers.

Bake for 10 minutes at 350 – You want the edges just browned slightly, but the middle to be a light brown colour. They will harden up as they cool. If they look too pale, leave them in a couple more minutes.

Store in container on counter, or can easily be frozen. Note* Do not store in air-tight container, or they will soften up a bit. You want them to be crisp! If they are too soft, leave them out for a day or so to crisp up.

Great for eating on their own, or you can pulse them for graham cracker crumbs for a crust.

 

Altered from Food.com

Breakfast

Hakuna-Frittata

February 8, 2013

I have learned that I appreciate long weekends even more now that I am in a full time practicum for teaching. I have also learned that I liked it much better when I was the student, because it meant I got a four-day weekend. Instead, I attended a Professional Development day seminar at my school today while all the students got the day off. Yea – I liked being the student better. But, I am not complaining because we all get a nice long weekend in February! It’s desperately needed as well.

It has been crazy busy the last week because I’ve also learned that being a teacher when there is an extra long four day weekend means that your weeks get condensed, things have to be changed and you have to learn to cram more into those four days. Especially when you have two four day weeks back to back, and even more so when you have two prep blocks cancelled on you a minute before the bell rings. Next week we have our midterm conferences – which seems crazy because even though we’ve done so much, I feel it’s only been a short time at the school so far! Still lots to do.

Speaking of things to do, Adam and I have some big plans for the house this long weekend, part 2 of our DIY built in shelves (you can see Part 1 here)

Long weekends usually mean house projects, lounging around the house, movie nights in, and of course big sunday breakfasts.

I’m not a huge breakfast fan, my history of food allergies limits my choices so I usually grab some fruit and go (especially when teaching and racing to school; fyi I was the second one at school Thursday which meant it was still locked..haha) So my breakfast is not very exciting during the week. I’ve recently begun eating my gf/wf oats again with almond butter and bananas, but I haven’t had cereal forever! On the weekends it’s usually no different, breakfast is fruit, a green smoothie, maybe oatmeal.

However, Adam is a big breakfast person – though he was hooked on honey nut cheerios for a long time. So every now and then I’ll try and make a big breakfast, eggs, hashbrowns, turkey sausage or bacon. We used to do pancakes or waffles but those haven’t made an appearance in our new kitchen yet.

Last weekend I felt like a real breakfast, and wanted to use up the veggies in our fridge. I made a healthier Frittata for Adam and I. Before I found out about my dairy/egg allergy I used to wonder why I felt so sick after eating things like omelettes. My dad loved breakfast-for-dinner nights, and would make huge, thick, cheesy omelettes that would make me feel super nauseous afterwards – now I know why! I can only eat eggs that are well cooked, or baked in things, but runny eggs make me feel sick (so-long eggs benny!)

So – If you’re having a stay at home family-day weekend, I highly suggest making a frittata for breakfast one morning.

This isn’t Nonna’s frittata, which is more like zucchini in sauce with egg mixed in and lots of cheese..which is heaven. However, it’s much healthier.

(P.s I dunno why but the song hakuna matata popped into my head as I was writing Frittata. Love the lion king)

Goat Cheese Frittata

  • 6 eggs (more/less depending on how many people, I say 2.5 eggs a person, plus you can always have leftovers)
  • 1 medium Zucchini
  • 1 red Pepper
  • 1 orange Pepper
  • 1 yellow Pepper
  • 1 small Onion
  • pepper (to taste)
  • Goat cheese
Directions:
  1. Chop up your veggies – I chop my zucchini into smaller triangles, and the peppers into small chunks
  2. Dice onion.
  3. Place skillet over medium heat – add a splash of olive oil, or spray pan lightly. Add onion and sauté for a 2 mins to soften.
  4. Add in peppers – they need a little longer to cook. Cook about 5 more minutes.
  5. Add in zucchini, cook until just softened slightly – season with pepper.
  6. In a small bowl, crack your eggs. Scramble with a whisk/fork.
  7. Pour over vegetables, and turn down to medium low. Allow to cook for 15 minutes – after the edges begin to set, cover with lid for 5-10 minutes to cook middle.
  8. When it is almost set, turn heat up a little bit and crumble goat cheese on top. Place lid back on to melt the goat cheese slightly for a minute.
  9. When it looks set, remove from heat and cut. Serve immediately, leftovers can be stored in fridge and eaten cold, or heated up.

 

Brownies

Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Brownies

February 2, 2013

I made these brownies for a girls night last week and thought they would also be great for any Super Bowl Sunday get togethers this weekend! I wanted something easy, but not a regular brownie like my usual go-to. I also apparently can’t make great cookies lately (dry, too puffy, rise too much) – but something that combines the two? Perfect.

I don’t think we’ll be doing anything special for the Super Bowl – except for maybe make a turkey Sunday night that we forgot to take out of the freezer until yesterday morning, so it’s likely not defrosted enough to eat tonight like originally planned. I’m not sure a turkey dinner is ‘Super Bowl’ meal equivalent, but we’ve eaten our fair share of chili last month, plus I really wanted turkey leftovers.

I don’t exactly follow the sport, nor do I pretend to understand what the rules are or what is happening on the field. The only football I was ever interested in was my high school football team – the Sun Devils – I helped my friend one night as a ‘water girl’  – we handed out water bottles to the players during the game. That’s the closest I’ve been to on the field action. Needless to say I never really caught on to the game – I was more just a supporter of my friends who played on the team – school spirit and all.

The only sport I do follow however, is Hockey – and thankfully the NHL is back and so are our Canucks. Last night we watched the game at my cousins with some friends, and they won their second game in a row, miraculously by shoot out! Well done Lou.

Now for the brownies – I had seen recipes like this before but hadn’t tried making them yet. There are a lot of ridiculous brownie recipes out there, like the ones with ten layers of fudge brownie cookie pretzel Oreo madness. These are sort of on the same page as those Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies – I keep seeing them but haven’t made them.

However now that I’ve made them, it’s a bad bad thing. I combined my regular brownies with a half batch of my chocolate chip cookie recipe. And they are really good – like, really good. The fudgey brownie layer and the gooey chocolate chip layer are delicious together. You’ve been warned.

If you’re heading out to a Super Bowl Party tomorrow I suggest making a batch and bringing them along – just try not to eat the entire platter.

Another delicious brownie combo is the Pumpkin Swirl Brownies I made in October.

Chocolate Chip Brownies
recipe adapted from here

Ingredients

Brownie
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the brownie: Place butter and chocolate in small saucepan set over medium-low heat, stir constantly until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth; remove from heat. Whisk in sugar, egg and vanilla. Whisk in cocoa. Stir in flour until evenly combined.

Scrape brownie batter into an 8×8 inch baking pan that has been lightly greased and lined with parchment paper; smooth top. 

Cookie Dough

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chunks/chips

For the cookie dough: Cream together butter and sugars, in a large bowl. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add baking soda, baking powder and flour; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips until evenly distributed. Spoon cookie dough on top of brownie layer and spread out evenly with a knife or spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. You want the middle to be slightly gooey, not fully baked/dry when you do the ‘knife test.’ Start with 30 minutes, and add 5-10 minutes more if needed but be sure not to over-bake. 

Let cool completely before slicing. You can also place it in the fridge for a bit – I always find brownies become fudgier once refrigerated.

 Happy Super Bowl! Will you be watching? Do you follow football??