Dessert

Feeding Babies, Gluten Free, Dessert, Snack

OATMEAL BREAKFAST COOKIES

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We have this “breakfast cookie” recipe going out to our Cooking Club members this week and I wanted to put the recipe here too. The feeding babies section is a crowd favorite, and my kids plow through these. Healthy-ish, grab n’ go, and what not - that’s what ya’ll seem to love about the kids recipes I’ve included around here. It’s tough to find a cookie or muffin that hold together that are both gluten and egg-free, but these work. Report back if you make them, or let me know what you changed. I love seeing your photos!

Our son turned FIVE this weekend. It felt like a big birthday - every increment of five does to me for some reason. My mom always made a big deal of birthdays and I thought it was so fun - I love making him feel like the star of the weekend and the one to make all the calls. We packed the weekend with Legoland, camping with cousins in San Clemente, rocket launching in a field, Chuck-e-Cheese with grandparents, meals of his choice, sprinkle cupcakes etc. etc. It sounds like a lot because it was :)

I feel like we were chin deep in both baby and toddler-hood at the same time for the past few years, and seeing Curran now as an almost-kindergartener is wild. Like we’ve been treading water, and now we can swim. He is thoughtful and emotional and smart and empathetic - LOVES his dad, lights up with the company of friends, is ALWAYS the first person to wake up in the morning with a full tank of energy, very into building things, collector, can recall specific memories in full detail from way before I thought was possible (“remember when I choked on that frozen mango?”…you were one, how do you remember that?!?!). He has figured out that throwing clothes in the hamper is quicker than folding and putting them away which I find both annoying and clever - for some reason it’s a nod from toddler to kid - those little things that feel different.

Curran and I had a tough time with each other during his 2-4 age because he is pretty sensitive, and it would touch on an insecurity of my own - both of us then upset, neither bringing calm to the situation. I thought I was self-aware enough to not ride my toddlers emotions but I did… do, sometimes still. He’s better lately, and I am too, far from perfect, but it feels like we’ve grown in that area together. Perhaps that makes me sound like an immature parent, but little refines us and highlights our weak spots like our own children. Anyway, finding a better rhythm with him has been so special. I used to want time to speed up, I didn’t want to tread water anymore, but the swimming? Now I want to stop time! Curran and I have put together more lego sets in the past four days than I care to have floating around the house but he LOVES them, both the building and the company, so bring on the Legos.

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SIDENOTE: Hugh made a short pdf of quick food photography tips which is now available on our SHOP page. For a limited time, it is available for $1.99, which will be the best couple bucks you’ll spend this week. It is not a full photography course, but the concise and simple tips will absolutely make a difference in the way you capture your food. I’ve learned so much from Hugh, and this guide boils down the handful of important things to think about when you take and edit a photo of your food. Let us know if you have any questions!


OATMEAL BREAKFAST COOKIES

Makes 18 small

These are delicate, as there is no gluten or egg helping to bind them. If you are looking for something to pack in a lunchbox, and can tolerate eggs, add one in to the mashed banana step to help make them more sturdy. Raisins feel slightly more virtuous, but chocolate chips feel slightly more delicious. Take your pick. Keep them small either way.

I do not usually stock quick-cooking oats, but you can blitz old-fashioned oats in a food processor for a similar texture, or I’ve used Seven Sundays muesli with success (Target or Costco sell the big bags). If you need these to be nut-free, I have a report that sunflower butter works fine.

Ingredients

1 medium, extra extra ripe banana, mashed
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup smooth, natural nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut)
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats (or old-fashioned oats you’ve blitzed in the food processor a few times to get smaller bits)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. flaxmeal
1/2 cup raisins (chop if they’re jumbo), or mini chocolate chips

Instructions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed banana with salt, vanilla, cinnamon, coconut oil and stir to combine. Add the maple, nut butter, chia seeds and stir again until smooth. Let the chia seeds absorb for a moment. 

Stir in the oats, baking powder, flaxmeal, raisins and let the mixture chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350’ and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. 

Roll the dough into balls of about 2 Tbsp. worth of dough. Arrange them on the baking sheet with a little space between, give them a gently press down, they don’t spread much. 

Bake on the middle rack for 12-13 minutes. Remove to cool completely - they’ll hold together better once cooled. 

Store in an airtight container. Cookies will keep for three days. 

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Bread, Chocolate, Dessert

CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT SHORTBREAD

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We went out last night to pick up a tree. The kids were bundled and the packing blanket was in the back to protect the roof. This is the first year both of the kids are super jazzed about the holidays. Curran (4.5) is excited for new toys and allllll the colorful, tacky decor. I am told every day that the white lights we have on the house are NOT festive AT ALL. Cleo is excited about whatever Curran is excited about lately, so anytime we see lights (trees, wreaths, fake reindeer, whatever) squealing ensues. It was cute at first, and now it’s just… loud. But truly, I love it. The first few years of parenting are so much work, with few of those personal connections where you actually get to see your children as a people. The more I get to know them, the more I like them. Even the complicated, emotional parts. Anyway, their excitement is infectious, and their Scrouge McWhite-Christmas-Light-Preferring mother is even considering putting rainbow lights up somewhere… like inside their room ;)

Anyway, the tree. I had this romantic idea about the tradition of picking out a tree and how we would pick up dinner after and decorate it, fireside, with classic Christmas tunes. As it turns out, it was not the romantic vision I anticipated in my head. There was a time this would have wildly disappointed me, but kids have lowered my expectations for the better. We ended up at Costco which I love for many reasons, but rustic tree buying experiences is not one of them. I mean you can’t even see the trees, they are all wrapped in twine in bins and you just take a wild guess. Curran seems to be recovering from a minor concussion so complains and whines frequently, and I get that he doesn’t feel well, but, again, with the Cleo doing everything he does. Our dinner was underwhelming and by the time we got home, people needed to go straight to bed. They both screamed at the reality of needing to take a warm shower (how dare me!), and tucked away they went. There was no decorating, no songs, no fire.

I am not disappointed, this is life. When I think back about getting a tree and decorating it with my family, it was not some Norman Rockwell scene every time. Traditions and memories in their imperfect state are just as nostalgic for me as the ones where everything went ‘right.’ Fighting over whose year it was to put the angel on top, holding the twine down through the windows of the mini van to make sure the tree didn’t fly off, how all the limbs starting breaking off the clay wisemen in the manger scene and no one bothered to glue them back on, or the year a votive candle lit a garland on fire. I would maybe argue that the messy parts, the imperfect parts, are actually more interesting. I don’t think I even remember the moments that went as planned, if there were any. So Mr. Frankie, the bare, unlit, lopsided tree, is sitting in the living room, reminding me that all I want for this month is just to soak in the holidays and stay flexible. Mayyyyybe we’ll even put rainbow lights on him this weekend.

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CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT SHORTBREAD

Makes 18

Recipe adapted from Real Simple

I made these a touch sweeter than the written recipe because well, it’s a holiday cookie. You could sprinkle crushed peppermint candies on top while the chocolate drizzle is still soft and that should act as glue for the candies. If you have tried Dorie Greenspan’s World Peace Cookies , they are basically shortbread with a bit of baking soda to help them rise a bit. I’ve tried it here, but don’t think it changes them wildly, so it depends how dense or light you prefer your cookie. Add 1/2 tsp. if you want to try. These are snappy day one, and start to become more tender as they sit. Taste great either way, texture changes, just a fyi.

Ingredients

1/2 cup/1 stick plus 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. natural cane sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour

3.5 oz. bar of dark chocolate
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract

flaky salt, for garnish, optional

Instructions

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment or with an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars until fluffy. Add the salt, vanilla, peppermint and beat those in to combine. Add the cocoa, flour and beat until just combined, do not over mix. Roll the dough into a log about 2” across (this is kind of hard, just do your best), wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour, or overnight. Alternatively, you can roll it out and use cookie cutters to make shapes.

Preheat the oven to 325’ and line a baking sheet with parchment (maybe two, or work in batches). Slice the cookie log into 1/2” coins and arrange them on your baking sheet. They won’t spread much, but give them an inch between for safety. Bake for 10-12 minutes until just dry on the edges. They will look raw in the center but that’s ok! Pull them, and let them cool.

While they cool, melt the chocolate either in the microwave or in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir in the remaining peppermint extract. Drizzle it on top of the cookies, sprinkle flaky salt or peppermint candies, if using, and let the chocolate set.
Enjoy! Cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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Chocolate, Dessert, Fall, Gluten Free, Snack, Winter

HONEY FUDGE

They are four and a half and almost three. My babies are potty trained, can buckle their own car seats, and clear their plates from the table. The crib will be passed to a friend next month and I’ve been donating the toys that seem, well, baby-ish. We finally went on a family vacation last month, where we all slept in one room and it was great - no one needed to sleep in the bathroom and the equipment we had to schlep along was minor. While still not easy (is it ever?), I feel like we’ve crossed some sort of parenthood threshold where I can breathe a little easier. The exhaustion scale is tipping more towards mental than completely physical as they become more little people and less baby.

I think I’ve mentioned before that Curran (4.5) is pretty emotional. High highs and low lows. Cries easily, loudly, and feels his 4-year old feels deeply. He LOVES to eat. Is not a toucher/cuddler. Thrives off quality time. A collector of gadgets and junk. He hoards his treasures in various bags, backpacks and cases, and takes them around with him everywhere… a little seasonly obsessive, like his father and my sister. Right now we’re in a police man season, so lots of walkie talkies, badges, the jacket, etc. Cleo adores him, but mark my words Curran will be the one keeping her out of trouble in high school.

She likes to pester him and scream at the top of her lungs if he tries to give her a dose of her own medicine. She LOVES cuddles and touches and passes out “I love you’s” generously. She has a will of steel. She insists on dressing herself in the clothes I like least in her closet and no matter the question, the answer is always “pink!” She has my favorite intonations and facial expressions. She is a charmer and a little bit crazy.

Both kids have beautiful blue eyes, are tall for their ages, are quirky, and look like each other, while not a spitting image of either parent. How wild it is to get to know them - to observe what makes them tick or make their eyes light up. These things are equally magical and incredibly frustrating, all in the scope of a day. I somehow feel surprised that we’re in a new phase. So much of the past few years has been head down survival, but gradually, I feel I can stop and SEE them now, instead of just keep everyone fed and alive. Does that make any sense? Obviously I’ve always been “aware” of them, but now, more so them as the people they are becoming. Anyway. It feels really special. Parenthood is pretty wild, in so many more ways than just being tired, like everyone tells you you’ll be. I feel extremely lucky to be their mom.

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Chocolate Honey Fudge

This honey fudge was from the first week of Sprouted Kitchen Cooking Club and it was a raging success (shameless plug that I still think you should join because it’s been so neat to cook dinner along side people and share ideas). It is not often you can please all the dairy free, gluten free, egg free, honey eating vegans, and vegetarians all at once, but we’re working on it! Cheers, us.

As this may be the most favorited recipe I’ve ever written, I figured it needed to live here too.


RECIPE INGREDIENTS

2 ounces dark chocolate, well chopped
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/3 cup cocoa powder (natural or dutch) or raw cacao, plus more for dusting
pinch of sea salt

1/3 cup honey plus 1 Tbsp. 
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup crisp rice cereal

RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate along the bottom of the pan. 

In a food processor or a strong blender, combine the almonds, cocoa powder and sea salt. Pulse the mixture until it resembles coarse sand, about 10 times. You want some crunchy bits of almonds. 

In a saucepan, combine the honey and coconut oil and bring it to a gentle boil. Stir to mix. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Add the almond mixture and the rice cereal into the wet mixture and stir to combine. Any extra add-ins would go in here. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan, smooth the top and put it in the fridge to cool for at least an hour. 

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