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Fun Friday: Three ingredient cookies

10 Mar

I added a fourth ingredient…can you guess what it is?

Good morning and TGIF!

Happy Friday to you all. It’s been a little bit since I did a Fun Friday post, so I thought I’d share a fun one with you this week.

My whole “after school snack” routine has gotten a bit derailed lately, mostly because many days no one is coming right home after school, which makes me really the only one who is home and hungry and means I’m always throwing an extra snack into everyone’s backpack to get them through the day. They eat lunch so early in the morning at school that they are starving by 3:00.

Additionally, since my youngest has had to go gluten free a little more than a year ago, one of the things she often takes for lunch is muffins (gluten free, obviously). That knocks off a good 3/4 of my go-to after school snack ideas. I love muffins and I loved making them to eat after school because then we have them for breakfast the next day, if there are any left. Now, out of convenience, I buy six packs of freshly made muffins, four varieties at a time every couple of weeks, at our local gluten free bakery, A&J’s, and I freeze them. By the time she eats lunch they have thawed.

I try to make my snacks healthy as often as I can, and so in going gluten free, I’ve relied on many dips (like this one from 2012 or this one from 2013), cheese and apples, fruit platters and the like. However, I did find a go-to cookie recipe that is fast, easy, healthy and gluten free, as long as you have gluten free oats, which I always do (thanks Bob’s Red Mill!). I have seen this recipe on several sites, and the one I am sharing today is from Recipe Diaries. I have seen versions of these cooked in the oven and I have even seen some that are microwaved. I have only ever cooked mine in the oven.

This week when I made these, I used 3 bananas and 1 1/2 cups of oats to make more cookies. I am also partial to Craisins over raisins, so I used a box of Craisins that is the lunchbox snack size (mostly because that’s what I had on hand) and it was the perfect amount. I’m also VERY partial to chocolate chips, so I threw some of those in too. In the past I have subbed dried pomegranates for the fruit and they were tasty too. Almost anything goes.

I have always tried to make my kids aware of serving sizes when it comes to food, and they always ask me how many or how much of something they are allowed to have, especially when it comes to something like muffins or cookies. With these, it’s nice to know that although they still can’t have an unlimited amount, at least the ones they are having are really pretty healthy, overall. They make a great snack and they satisfy my craving for a little something sweet.

I encourage you to try out the recipe at Recipe Diaries, and have a great weekend!

Kitchen Science: Hard Boiled Eggs

20 Feb
Perfection! How did we do it?

Perfection! How did we do it?

We can’t be the only ones who have this problem: we love hard boiled eggs for breakfast or for a healthy snack option, but every time we boil up a dozen we never know if they will be easy to peel and eat or if they’ll be a big battered mess of shells and whites.

Recently I was at a dentist appointment with Elizabeth and the television was on while we waited. We were watching The Rachel Ray Show and the featured guest was a chef who was talking about his trick for making the perfectly peel-able hard boiled eggs. My daughter and I took note, and I texted myself his instructions.

Which method would work? Cover and refrigerate or shake, shake, shake to peel?

Which method would work? Cover and refrigerate or shake, shake, shake to peel?

In a nutshell (eggshell?) he said to cook the eggs in boiling water for 12 minutes, and then to take them out and put them in a container, covered for 30 minutes in the refrigerator before peeling them.

In the meantime, Liz had seen a different video online that showed another completely different method of peeling the eggs that told cooks to put their freshly boiled eggs into a covered container and shake them vigorously, at which time all of the shells would come off easily.

This method of shaking the eggs to peel them seemed too intriguing not to try it out.

This method of shaking the eggs to peel them seemed too intriguing not to try it out.

One Friday afternoon after school I had a request for hard boiled eggs, and I had the time to do it, so we boiled them up. When it came time to cook them, we remembered the episode of Rachel Ray from the dentist office visit, and Liz remembered the video she’d seen online about shaking eggs. We decided to try it both ways.

We boiled up one dozen for the 12 minutes that the chef on Rachel Ray had suggested, and then we split them into two groups of six eggs each. The first six went into the covered container and into the refrigerator. I set the timer for 30 minutes.

Did it work?

Did it work?

We used that 30 minutes to experiment with the shaking of the eggs method. This was fun. Messy at times, but fun. And, as with any science experiment, we had to try this method several times, and we had some unusual outcomes mixed in with our results.

First off, for the shaking I used some small, square covered containers from the dollar store that I had on hand. We cracked two of them in the process and had to throw them out. So, if I were to do this again, I’d use a better quality container for shaking. Luckily it was a multi-pack, so we had lots of them for our scientific trials.

We ended up marking our egg with a Sharpie to see if it was the same one not cracking each time or not. It was.

We ended up marking our egg with a Sharpie to see if it was the same one not cracking each time or not. It was.

Second, we found the oddest thing in our results: one egg would crack perfectly, and one would not crack at all. It seemed to be the same one not cracking at all, and we could not figure out why. It was the strangest thing to open the case and see one egg whose shell was completely shattered and off the egg, and one completely untouched. We decided to mark the egg with a Sharpie marker to see if it was the same egg each time, and it was. We still don’t know why. Ultimately, when we peeled it separately, it peeled fine, so there were not issues with the egg itself. We couldn’t tell if it was something to do with the force of the two eggs together which made one break and one not, but it was fascinating.

We learned the first time that you can definitely shake the eggs too much, yet our first egg still never cracked.

We learned the first time that you can definitely shake the eggs too much, yet our first egg still never cracked, even with all that shaking.

When the timer went off to indicate the 30 minutes had ended, we had gone through our six shaken eggs with only one casualty of the six which was a result of a little bit too much shaking.

We brought in the covered container and uncovered it. Inside, the eggs were still hot. I began to peel them, which would be the ultimate test: would they peel easily or would they be a big mess?

eggs-6

The end result: the eggs peeled perfectly! The shells came right off and the eggs remained unscathed underneath the shell. No messy, pitted egg white disaster. It was amazing to see just how easily the shells came off.

Ultimately, we decided that although both methods worked, it was easier to do the refrigeration method: 12 minutes to boil and 30 minutes in a covered container in the fridge. No rinsing in cold water, no over-boiling.

This was not something we had planned to do, it was a completely spontaneous kitchen science experiment, but it was a fun one and it shows just how much science does go into cooking, and how fun cooking can be. As with any science experiment, you need to do it many times to see if your results are reliable, so we will be trying this out the next few times we make hard boiled eggs, but we do hope we have found a great solution.

Do you have any tried and true tricks for ensuring a great, easy-to-peel hard boiled egg? Leave them for me in the comments!

Perfection! How did we do it?

Perfection!

Fun Friday: Breakfast cookies with peanut butter, banana and granola

3 Feb
I ended up making these two weeks in a row, and the second week I doubled the recipe.

I ended up making these two weeks in a row, and the second week I doubled the recipe.

ORIGINALLY POSTED APRIL 24, 2015

*Since originally posting this, I have made the recipe several times. Recently however, I decided to make them even though we did not have any granola on hand. Instead, I substituted a combination of gluten free oats, chocolate chips, and dried cranberries for the granola and they turned out great. Additionally, since we now have a member of our family who eats gluten free, so our all-purpose flour was Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Flour.*

One afternoon I was scoping the internet, looking for a good after school snack to leave for my kids when I went to work that day. I found a recipe for “Breakfast Cookies with Peanut Butter, Banana and Chocolate Granola” from the Taste and Tell blog. I had everything for it except the chocolate granola, but I had plain granola and chocolate chips. I decided to modify the recipe to work for the ingredients I had.

These are hearty cookies, perfect for an after school snack, and definitely perfect for breakfast on the run. My oldest daughter gets on the school bus by 7:00 am and can’t stomach a whole lot that early in the morning, but she’d take two of these in a bag with her each morning for when she did start to get hungry later on. Our school system has been inundated with hours and hours of PARCC standardized testing, and it often takes place first thing in the morning, so the last thing I wanted was a kid taking two or three hours of testing on an empty stomach every day. These cookies were definitely the right answer  to that problem.

My husband takes breakfast to go every day also, and these were a nice change of pace from a bagel, yogurt, oatmeal or cereal, which he usually eats, and if he wanted, he could save them for a snack later in the day when he’s working after school gets out.

These were such a hit, I made them again the following week, and I doubled the recipe to make twice as many. This time, when I opened the box of granola, it was a cinnamon raisin variety rather than just plain granola, but I gave it a try. Even my daughter who doesn’t like raisins, ate them without even noticing they were in there. I think it was the chocolate chips that saved the day that time.

As we’re finishing up our spring break now, we’re heading back into several more weeks of testing when we go back to school, for both NECAP and PARCC, so I’ll be whipping up a couple more batches of these cookies. I’ve been tempted to make enough to freeze, but so far there’s never been any extras left to freeze!

I hope you’ll give them a try and pay a visit to the Taste and Tell blog! Here is her recipe, along with my ingredient modification instructions.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter (I used Skippy Reduced Fat creamy peanut butter.)

1/2 cup mashed overripe banana (about one medium banana)

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

2 cups Cascadian Farms Chocolate Lover’s Granola (I used 1 cup plain granola and one cup chocolate chips)

DIRECTIONS

1) Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) In a bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the peanut butter, banana and brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

3) In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into the creamed mixture. Stir in the granola.

4) Form balls of dough, about 3 tablespoons each. Place at least 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to slightly flatten each ball of dough.

5) Bake until the cookies are just set, about ten minutes. (Do not over bake or the cookies will dry out.)

Fun Friday: Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal from Budget Bytes

23 Nov
This has been a delicious treat all week long!

This has been a delicious treat all week long!

ORIGINALLY POSTED 10-30-15

Going Orange for No Kid Hungry today? We are!

In honor of the big day, I thought I’d share a brand new recipe with you that we tried earlier this week and enjoyed very much.

Over the weekend we celebrated our daughter’s 16th birthday, and at the gathering my cousin Val handed me a couple of recipes she thought we’d enjoy. One of them was today’s recipe from Budget Bytes for their Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal.

Oftentimes when I look at a recipe for consideration, the title tells it all, and this recipe was one of those times. I knew that we loved baked oatmeal, and I knew that we loved pumpkin pie. I knew that we would love this recipe. I had plenty of each of the ingredients on hand, in fact, when I saw that a basic recipe makes an 8×8 dish, I decided to double it for our family, so I did, and I used a 9×13 dish instead.

Photo's a little blurry, but I doubled this recipe so we'd have plenty to last the week.

I doubled this recipe so we’d have plenty to last the week.

I chose to make this recipe for Monday’s after school snack, knowing that Tuesday and Wednesday are my typing days which means I don’t have a ton of time to eat or cook anything. I eat at my desk usually, typing in between bites and when the kids come home from school, they’re on their own for finding food to satisfy their ravenous hunger. This would last me through both days and provide hungry kids with a choice for something to eat if they wanted it for after school or for breakfast one morning.

Everyone loved this recipe, it was tasty, it was filling and it was easy. I saw that it recommended whipped cream or maple syrup as well as milk or nuts. We went the maple syrup and whipped cream route and loved it. My oldest daughter even thought that caramel would be good on top, and I’m sure it would be, but I nixed that idea this time around, just because it would negate any of the healthy aspects of it.

I also used homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice because apparently I’ve been out of that in my cupboard for quite some time. I know this because when I opened up my cupboard, not only was there none there, but there was a note taped to the inside of the door-most likely from last fall- for a recipe from allrecipes.com for Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice. I doubled that recipe and it was exactly enough for what I needed to double this oatmeal recipe.

My new favorite pan with my forever favorite recipe

25 Apr
These granola bars were the best ones I'd ever made, thanks to my new pan.

These granola bars were the best ones I’d ever made, thanks to my new pan.

Good morning!

It’s been a very long time since I did a blog post! An entire month! I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long between posts before, but it’s just been a very busy time here. We have had some work being done in the house since February, regular work, school and activities going on, and even a little computer virus thrown in there on my work computer for good measure.

Through it all, we’ve been plugging along and I even had the opportunity to finally try out a new pan that I’d received after my January virtual Pampered Chef party. It was my last tool that I had yet to open, and when I finally did, I fell in love. Again. Pampered Chef is just the best.

The new pan is their Brownie Pan, and it’s one I’d always thought about getting but never had. I’d heard that there were so many things you could do with it. With 12 spots, it creates 12 corner piece brownies, but it also can create anything you’d like portioned out into individual portions from Shepherd’s Pie, to muffins, to lasagna, to really anything at all. No matter what I’m making, I always love the corner pieces and even my mom will save them for me when she bakes, so this pan really appealed to me.

I loved the perfect portioning, and I loved that every piece was a corner piece.

I loved the perfect portioning, and I loved that every piece was a corner piece.

For my first time I decided to try one of our favorite recipes I’ve been making as an after school snack for years: homemade granola bars. I had originally posted it here in 2012 but I hadn’t made them in a little while. I knew the kids would be excited and as soon as they walked in the door, they’d know what was on tap for snack. I chose to make the chocolate version, which always gets rave reviews.

The granola bars were even more of a hit than usual! They came out evenly portioned and evenly cooked, and by far were the best I’d ever made. They were also gluten free because I used gluten free oats. I promised that I’d make a double batch the next time, which is going to be sooner than later, for sure. Normally I like to make enough to have leftovers for lunchbag snacks, but these went so quickly, they didn’t seem to last very long at all.

You can order the pan here through my consultant Marcia’s website if you’d like to give it a try! I’d love to know if you already have the pan and if so, you can write your favorite thing to bake in it, other than brownies, in the comment section below.

Have a great week!

 

 

Fun Friday: Pillsbury’s Gluten Free Banana Streusel {Chocolate Chip} Bread

29 Jan
Only half left, already? You have to be quick here or you miss the photo opp!

Only half left, already? You have to be quick here or you miss the photo opp!

Hi and Happy Friday!

Today is a special Friday because this week we officially hit the midpoint to the school year and today is the 93rd day of school. This means that we are closer to the end of the school year than to the beginning of the school year. We began the third quarter this week, and just like that, it will soon be spring.

Well not too soon, but you know. Sooner than not spring. I’m a cup half full kind of girl.

Additionally, although we were forecast to have a giant snow storm last weekend, we happily dodged that bullet (this time) and only got a few inches. The weather warmed significantly this week and our snow is just about gone, so that’s even more reasons to celebrate the end of another week!

Today’s recipe is a new one for us as we continue down this gluten free path and I attempt to redesign some of my baking and cooking habits to fit everyone’s specific needs here. One thing I’ve been struggling with is determining when I need a binding agent in my flour, such as xanthan gum, and when I don’t. In general, I’ve been keeping two kinds of all-purpose flour on hand here, one that contains the xanthan gum which is from Trader Joe’s, and one that does not, which is Pillsbury and I buy it at Walmart. I’ve used the one without it for what is so far my favorite muffin recipe (a basic recipe we’ve used for raspberry, blueberry and chocolate chip muffins) and I’ve used the other for all of my Christmas cookies, which all seemed to stay together just fine. If you click on the links I’ve put in here, you can see both kinds of flour pictured in those posts. In addition to those, I’ve used the one without xanthan gum for much of my cooking if I need to bread chicken, and I’ve even used gluten free Bisquick to make a quick pancake mix and for making biscuits. So far, so good.

That said, I really wanted to make a homemade banana chocolate chip bread again, but I couldn’t figure out which of the two flours I needed, and the more I researched, the more confused I got. I had two to choose from, so I really didn’t want to go out and buy a bunch of individual flour blend ingredients to try to create my own blend at home, I wanted to use one of the ones that I had. Ultimately, I decided to google the words “Pillsbury gluten free banana bread” and I figured they’d have a recipe which used their own flour blend, which is what I had on hand. Sure enough they did. The recipe didn’t call for chocolate chips but I threw them in anyway. It did call for a streusel topping, which is one of my all-time favorite things, so I was immediately liking this recipe. I put it all together quickly and without issue one day this week for an after school snack, and it cooked up in an hour.

We're lucky any of the topping made it onto the bread! I kept tasting and tasting.

We’re lucky any of the topping made it onto the bread! I kept tasting and tasting.

The bread received all thumbs up from everyone here, and it will surely be one of my new go-to recipes and one that everyone can eat. My biggest problem was figuring out how to get it out of the baking dish without all of the topping coming off, because every piece that fell off, I ate. The recipe contained three bananas, which completely cancels out the fact that it contained any chocolate at all. And, the chocolate was semi-sweet, which I think is a superfood.

Right?

Right.

There was not a lot of butter in it, but we use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter in our recipes. Other than that, it fit the bill and it was such a relief to me to have the house smelling of a sweet treat after school again this week. I can now check off another item on our menu that I’ve been able to conquer in the gluten free journey.

If you’d like to check out the recipe yourself, you can find it here.

Enjoy!

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Muffins

9 Dec
I was temporarily lost without one of the staples in my menu: muffins.

I was temporarily lost without one of the staples in my menu: muffins.

Muffins.

If you are a long-time reader of The Whole Bag of Chips, you know how much I love a good homemade muffin. I like the versatility of being able to serve them after school, for breakfast, for a lunchbox item or for a late night snack.

Going with a gluten free menu for my youngest just before Thanksgiving has led me on a search for all kinds of staples and pantry items as well as for some good recipes to try. The staples and pantry items were immediate needs, as were items for each meal. One Sunday morning rolled around, and I realized my go-to plan for Sunday morning breakfast might be in jeopardy if I couldn’t make muffins.

This ended up being a lifesaver for one of our Sunday mornings

This ended up being a lifesaver for one of our Sunday mornings

Luckily, I’d visited our local Trader Joe’s earlier that week and picked up two bags of an all-purpose flour. I had grabbed two because I don’t often get to Trader Joe’s, and because I am learning quickly that there’s often only enough for one batch of something when it comes to buying gluten free items.

I noticed that the back of this package of flour contained several recipes, and one of them was for an apple cinnamon muffin. I was thrilled. Muffins are a staple here, and I hadn’t yet thought about what to do about that for Alex. When Sunday morning rolled around, I remembered the flour and the recipe on the back side.

As I examined the recipe at home in my kitchen, I was very excited to read that the recipe could be used as written, to make the apple cinnamon muffins, or it could be used as a basic muffin recipe if you took out the cinnamon and you could put in whatever you wanted.

Well of course….she requested that I put in chocolate chips. A girl after my own heart.

The recipe was easy to follow. I had two snack cups of natural applesauce here that I used, which was lucky because I hadn’t planned ahead for this, so I was glad I had it on hand at home already. I used canola oil instead of sunflower oil and skim milk. The recipe was quick and easy to follow and I was able to make 18 muffins, so she ate a few that morning and then I froze the rest. Now, a couple of weeks later, there are only three left, and I’m already thinking of what recipe to make next. I am thinking of using some of our frozen blueberries that we picked in August to make some homemade blueberry muffins.

I was so happy to see this recipe on the back of this package of flour from Trader Joe's.

I was so happy to see this recipe on the back of this package of flour from Trader Joe’s.

This flour was $7.99 a pack, and the muffin recipe used about 3/4 of the pack, so I was glad that I had more than one. I will finish it off and start my next package of flour when I make my next batch of muffins. There was also a pancake recipe on here, but as you saw last Wednesday, we were happy with our Bisquick gluten free pancakes, so for now I’m sticking with that.

If you haven’t found a muffin recipe you like yet, and you’re searching for gluten free, I encourage you to try this one. It did not require anything unusual and the muffins were tasty. All three kids eventually got to have them, and they all gave them a thumbs up each time.

If you have any other good muffin recipes to try that don’t require a ton of unusual ingredients, I’d love to hear about them!