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….simple, healthy, and with lots of love.

Sweet Whole Wheat Crackers

February 09, 2010 By: kristi Category: Appetizer, Snack

After the roads have finally be cleared of the 2ft+ of snow that the Northeastern part of the US just received, we are again in the midst of a Nor’easter.  As I sit here, I see the snow piling up on my deck, inch by inch.  And I just got word that my school is closed tomorrow.  Ahhh…a day off.  What shall I bake?

We’ve been fortunate enough (or unfortunate – depending how you look at it) to have our major snowstorms of the 2009-2010 winter on SATURDAYS.  I won’t mention the fact that the first one that blew through in December destroyed my birthday plans at a Tapas and Vodka bar.

No, strike that.

The FIRST real snow prevented my Drexel U ladies from trekking to my house for a Girls’ Weekend, the SECOND snowstorm caused the cancellation of my much needed and highly anticipated tapas and vodka ON TAP with 30 of my closest friends and family members.  This storm owes me an appearance during the week when my house is already clean, and I can just kick back and relax.

May we have Thursday off, too?  Chances look good.  How about a 2hr delay on Friday?  Am I dreaming?  Maybe, but it’s fun to dream!  Plus, Old Man Winter owes me.

A day work-free means I get to spend some quality time in my beloved kitchen, and since I only have an iPhone to take pictures for now (my camera lens STILL won’t open… grrrr*), I can manage to squeak in some pics of food with some decent sunlight.  I loathe the dark food photos.  But what’s a girl gonna do when BOTH cameras decided to fart and die on her?  Maybe my dead cameras and Old Man Winter should have a party somewhere else and give me my tapas party back.

During the snowstorm this weekend, I whipped up a batch of my sister’s Whole Wheat Crackers that very much remind me of our family favorite, Wheat Thins.  These were a hint sweeter because of the added vanilla and sugar, but don’t worry they were savory enough to go along with the adored fruit and cheese platter that so many of us include when we entertain.  And my sister is right, these bad boys go quickly.  One batch is good for a small party of 6-8, but you might as well double it so you can enjoy some later.

Simply the best crackers I have ever had.  Thanks for the recipe, Emmy.  Loveyou.

I’m totally thinking about adding cocoa to these and turning it into a chocolate cereal.  Okay, maybe that’s what I’ll do tomorrow since I’m snowed in.

Sweet Whole Wheat Crackers

Source: Cleanliness is Next to Godliness & King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour or white whole wheat
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
4 Tbs (1/2 stick) cold butter
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 tsp vanilla
Additional salt for topping (optional)

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and paprika in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and mix it in thoroughly, using your fingers, a pastry blender, a mixer or a food processor. Combine the water and vanilla, and add to the flour mixture, mixing until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces; keep the other pieces covered while you work with one at a time. Lightly flour your work surface and your rolling pin and roll the piece of dough into a large rectangle, which should be at least 12 inches square when trimmed. Keep your pin and the surface of your dough evenly floured. Flip the dough frequently to keep it from sticking, but too much flour will make it difficult to roll. Keep rolling until the dough is as thin as you can get it without tearing, at least 1/16 inch thick. Trim the dough to even the edges and use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut the piece into squares approximately 1 1/2 inches wide.

Transfer the squares to a prepared baking sheet; you can crowd them together, as they don’t expand while baking. Sprinkle the squares lightly with salt, if desired. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. Save the scraps under plastic wrap and re-roll them all at once just one time.

Bake the crackers, one sheet at a time, until crisp and browned, 5 to 7 minutes. If some of the thinner crackers brown too quickly, remove them and return the remaining crackers to the oven to finish baking. These crackers bake quickly, so watch them closely – even 30 seconds can turn them from golden brown to toast! Remove the crackers from the oven and cool on the pan or on a plate; they cool quickly. These crackers will stay crisp for several days, but are best stored in airtight containers.

Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels

February 07, 2010 By: kristi Category: Appetizer, Bread, Snack

I woke up yesterday morning to find 2 feet of snow at my door step.  That’s a lot of snow, at least for people in my area.  Noodles, on the other hand, had no issues with it.  She was in her glory. (Probably because she didn’t have to shovel!)

For some reason massive amounts of snow bring on a baking bug for a lot of us.  So many of my friends told me that they were baking this weekend because of the snow.  Being cooped up causes us to get ants in our pants!  Since the superbowl is this weekend, I decided to make something that would go with the beer that the husbands will be consuming.  I’m not a beer drinker, but I do love my pretzels!

They were super simple, but a little time consuming.  Anything that needs to be kneaded then rise, then rolled, then risen again will take time so make sure that you have the day to relax and enjoy making your pretzels.

They were bland in my opinion (probably because I didn’t put the huge chunks of salt on them – the huge salt makes me cringe), but this is easily remedied by putting that salt on them, sprinkling some cinnamon sugar on them or dunking them in salsa con queso!  Mmmmmmm….

Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels

Source: Delicious Wisdom
Yields: 12 small pretzels

Prep Time:  About 2 Hours (mostly inactive)
Cooking Time:  15 Minutes


Ingredients:
1 Cup Warm Water
1 Package of Dry Active Yeast
1 ½ Cups + 1 ¼ Cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3/4 Tsp Sea Salt
3 Cups Water
2 Tbsp Baking Soda
Course Sea Salt (optional)

In a large bowl, stir yeast into warm water and set aside to dissolve for 10 minutes.  Stir in olive oil, sea salt and 1 ½ cups of flour.  Once well combined, add remaining flour and knead for about 5 minutes.  Place into a dry bowl, lightly cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for 1 hour.

Divide dough into 12 equal portions and roll into balls.  Roll each ball into a long snake-y piece and form into pretzel shapes.  (See below.) Let them rise for about 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.  Bring water and baking soda to a simmer in a deep pan.  Simmer pretzels in simmering water for about one minute, flipping halfway through.  Place pretzels on a lightly greased baking sheet, sprinkle with sea salt, and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden.

Try to eat them the day of baking that’s when they are the best!


Frozen Strawberry Cool Whip Pudding Cups

June 16, 2009 By: kristi Category: Cookies, Dessert, Fruit, Snack

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I am going to start this post with two of my favorite words especially when referring to dessert – LOW CALORIE!

I was sitting at work with my friend Nicole teasing her about looking through Seventeen Magazine when I came across an awesome dessert.  Let me preface this by mentioning that Nicole is 18 years old so reading Seventeen is totally okay.  I just happen to be almost 10 years her senior and haven’t read that magazine in years.  I had to crack some sort of joke :o )

Anyway, Seventeen was introducing ways for already adorable and skinny-minny girls to achieve their perfect bikini bodies.  At 17, chances are you don’t have THAT much work ahead of you.  As a full-blown matronly woman (yaaaaaaay hips!), I took a vested interest in the desserts that they provided.  I love dessert.  I know I’ve told you this before, but no matter how stuffed I am from dinner, I ALWAYS have room for dessert.  My belly has its own dessert compartment ready to go at all times.  Skipping dessert is not an option for me.  But I am willing to cut corners to make my final and favorite meal of the day more figure friendly.

I’ll be honest with you yet again – I totally forgot about the pudding in mine.  I glanced at the magazine before work and then tried to remember its ingredients afterwards.  I was CLOSE, but I forgot the pudding.  Despite this error, I must say that these little cups are quite tasty.   I’m sure that their consistency will be different WITH the pudding, but I’m not all that concerned!

These little cups are so cute!  I have a bunch stashed in my freezer for when my sweet tooth gets outta control.  I used fat-free cool whip, sugar free strawberry preserves, and reduced fat nilla wafers.  I would have used sugar free pudding had I remembered that part.  Ha.  Cutting all of those corners allows me to guiltlessly enjoy dessert.  And it was GOOD.

Frozen Strawberry Cool Whip Pudding Cups

Source: Seventeen Magazine, June 2009

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

(I chose sugar and fat free items for my cups, but you don’t have to!)

1-2 small sugar-free vanilla pudding snack packs
1 container fat-free cool whip
2 Tbs. sugar-free strawberry preserves
8-10 reduced fat Nilla wafers
8-10 cupcake liners
Sprinkles, optional
Fresh Berries for topping

Directions:

Make room in your freezer.

Place cupcake liners on a plate or cookie sheet (a size that will fit in your freezer).

Place Nilla Wafers at the bottom of each cupcake liner.

In a large bowl, mix pudding, cool whip, and preserves.  Fill cupcake liners with pudding mixture.

Add sprinkles and top with one berry.

Place in the freezer for an hour.

Kids’ Trail Mix – A sweet treat for students and teachers alike…

April 05, 2009 By: kristi Category: Dessert, Snack

kids-trail-mix

This recipe is just too much fun!  I HAD to share it with you.  It’s so easy, and my students LOVED it.  This recipe is a mix of healthy and sweet with lots of bright colors, which make kids very happy.  I have to admit, it makes me happy, too!  I love bright colors, especially in food.  And after a few bucks, you can feed a herd of happy faces!

You can pick whatever you want to throw in your kids’ trail mix.  I got this idea from a Hannah Montana Cookbook that one of my students bought at the Scholastic Book Fair.  Ha!  Gotta love Miley Cyrus :o )

We have students with peanut and tree-nut allergies, and I managed to find the generic cereals in the large plastic bags that were nut-free.  Awesome!

Feel free to get creative with your mix.  Pick your favorite cereals, and have a go with it.  I recommend putting Rice or Corn Chex cereal in it for some neutral, not so sugary flavor.  Dried fruit and nuts are awesome in this.  You could even melt white chocolate and drizzle it on top and mix with a large wooden spoon.  (Got that idea from my friend Nicole, and it’s delicious!)

I came home from work after making this for 20+ children with so many leftovers that I made an enormous batch of this stuff for Jay and I, and I STILL have leftover cereal for later.

Kids’ Trail Mix

Serves an entire class and probably their families, too ;o)

Ingredients: (generic brands are great!)

2 cups Corn and/or Rice Chex cereal
1 cup Cheerios
1.5 cup Cocoa Puffs
1.5 cup Fruit Loops
1 cup mini marshmallows
1.5 cups organic banana chips

(Feel free to add M&Ms or melted chocolate… I couldn’t because of all the peanut allergies…)

Directions:

Mix all the cereal in a large bowl.  Add marshmallows and banana chips last.  Give it a quick stir.

cereal

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