Homemade Whole Wheat or Almond Flour (Gluten-Free) Graham Crackers

Homemade Graham Crackers :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

My daughters are totally hooked on graham crackers. We buy boxes of them. It’s something that seems healthy. I mean, really, what’s the worst that could be in graham crackers? If you want to bury your head in the sand (like I have done for years), I won’t judge you. Look away now, because I’m about to gross you out. I have been feeding my kids sugar AND High Fructose Corn Syrup (ick!), GMO canola oil (ew!)… 120 empty calories of processed junk in just 4 squares. Is this something I want kids eating every day for a snack? NO!  Are you still with me? Good!

Cue healthy, I-know-every-ingredient-in-it, fiber-filled, and delicious graham crackers. And just in time too, for my family at least. Because when kids eat graham crackers, they eat more whole grains and fiber. That sounds good to me. The trick is, they have to be made of whole wheat, and most brand name crackers aren’t.

So what do you say? Are you ready to switch to homemade? They’re easier than cookies. They’re ridiculously addictive. They’re simple and wholesome. Let’s get baking…

Homemade Graham Crackers :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

This is the recipe I sort-of followed. Adding almond meal to this recipe increases the amount of protein in these crackers. Getting protein in my kids is pretty tough. Use only almond meal and this recipe can also be gluten free. Almonds (and, obviously, almond meal) are high in monounsaturated fats; you know, the fats that reduce LDL cholesterol, thus lowering heart disease risk? Almonds are also high in antioxidants, vitamin E, magnesium, and potassium.  Use only wheat flour and this recipe will be high in whole grains. I ended up using a bit of both, experimenting to even out the texture. That makes mine 7 ingredients, but who’s counting? 🙂

Homemade Graham Crackers :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

Because coconut oil is semi-solid at room temperature, I warmed up the liquid ingredients in a saucepan on low for a couple of minutes. It helped to be able to incorporate everything.

Homemade Graham Crackers :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

The dough gets to be the consistency of play dough. I was told this by my oldest. She couldn’t keep her fingers out of it. I let her play in it and squish it while I was getting the parchment and pan and oven set up. Then I puttered about for a little bit so that she could keep playing. 😉 It’s the little things that are important.

Homemade Graham Crackers :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

Roll out the dough. Some other time I think we’ll do cookie cutters with this. I think it could work well and be more interactive and fun for the kids to both make and eat. For now, we made squares with a pizza cutter.

Homemade Graham Crackers :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

I sprinkled them with a little coarse sugar. It adds a tiny bit of extra fun, without tons of sugar. It could be left off and it would be fine. The original recipe called for cinnamon on top. My family isn’t really fond of cinnamon, so we left it off.

Homemade Graham Crackers :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

Baked… don’t you wish it was scratch and sniff? Uh oh, am I showing my child of the 80’s age here? Ahem… 80’s kid, loud and proud! 🙂

Homemade Graham Crackers :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

See? It’s so easy! You’ll feel so much better about slathering on some (homemade?) hazelnut spread, apple butter, organic, fair trade chocolate bar and homemade marshmallows… Okay, this is getting out of hand. I think I just drooled a little.

Or just grab an ice cold glass of almond milk and dunk away. That’s what we did. Nom.

Homemade Graham Crackers :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

Homemade Whole Wheat or Almond Flour (Gluten-Free) Graham Crackers

Whole Wheat or Almond Flour 2 Cups
Salt 1/2 tsp
Baking Powder 1/2 tsp
Baking Soda 1/4 tsp
Coconut Oil 5 Tbl
Milk 1/4 Cups
Honey 5 Tbl

Directions:

Mix dry ingredients. Combine and stir wet ingredients in saucepan, and heat on low until melted. Drizzle wet mixture over dry mixture while stirring. Place dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out to the same shape as the sheet pan (as much as possible) and 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Move dough and bottom sheet of parchment onto sheet pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 18 minutes (more or less, depending on your oven). Enjoy!

Makes about 24 crackers depending on how you slice it.

Nutrition Info* (using all Whole Wheat Flour and 1% Cow’s Mik): Calories: 73, Fat: 3g, Sat. Fat: 2.5g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 73mg, Carbohydrate: 4g, Dietary Fiber: 1.25g, Protein: 1.5g. (Serving size, about one cracker)

Nutritional info* (using all Almond Meal/Flour and 1% Cow’s Milk): Calories: 92, Fat: 8g, Sat. Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 73mg, Carbohydrate: 6g, Dietary Fiber: 1g, Protein: 2g. (Serving size, about one cracker)

*Nutrition data may not be completely accurate as ingredients used and measuring values may change.

Do you read the ingredients lists about your food? Is it easier to just avoid looking at the back of the packaging? No judgement here… been there. Sometimes I wish I could go back to that happy place.

~Veronica

Rosemary Garlic Parmesean Yeast Rolls

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Author: Cassie Stevens

Light and buttery, you’ll love these! They go great with anything from pasta to seafood.  Fresh rosemary from my patio garden, grated Parmesan, garlic, and butter. Hot from the oven, they are crisp around the edges. and so soft and delicious on the inside. These will be a big hit at the dinner table with your family and friends.

I make a large batch and most I will make plain (for snack-time sandwiches) and the rest I will top (like these above) for dinner. I start with the yeast, the milk/cream mixture, and a little sugar. I will let that sit about 5 to ten minutes until it’s nice and foamy. Like this:

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Then I will mix  in another bowl the eggs, the rest of the sugar, salt, and softened butter. Mix well and add to the yeast and milk mix. Stir until incorporated. Then add 6 cups of flour and mix in well with a wooden spoon, add one more cup of flour and mix in well again. Clean off your wooden spoon, cause you will be using your hands from here. I always knead my dough with my hands. For the last cup or more of flour, I will sprinkle a little on top of the dough and spread the rest out on the counter.  Roll the dough ball out on the your floured surface and begin kneading your dough ball. Keep adding flour down on your counter until your dough has a smooth and soft not sticky consistency. your dough shouldn’t need too much more flour. Place in a greased bowl and let it rise for about an hour in a warm place, like your oven or on top of your dryer if you are doing laundry, or I heard even on top of your refrigerator works great too. So, after your dough has risen and doubled in size, flour your counter, roll out the dough and knead for just a minute to get the big air bubbles out.  Then cut into about thirty even pieces.  Shape into balls. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Brush each roll with a little melted butter and egg mixture.  Then sprinkle on you seasonings, or leave plain. Let rise until doubled again. Then bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Here is pan of plain ones I made for sandwiches. They keep well if I store them in a plastic bag once they are cooled.

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OK, so here is my recipe: This was the one I found online

1/2 cup cream

1/2 cup whole milk

1 cup water

5 tsp yeast

2 tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 1/2 sticks butter

2/3 cup white sugar

7-8 cups all-purpose flour

For my Rosemary Garlic Parmesan Topping:

Lightly sprayed tops of rolls with cooking spray, sprinkle on grated Parmesan, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, 1 chopped sprig fresh rosemary.

POW! you get these ~ awesome herb and cheese crusted yeast rolls.

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Hope you enjoy!

Classic French Toast from Homemade Bread

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Author: Cassie Stevens

Making French toast from homemade bread is so much better than using anything else I think. Thick cut, sweet and so delicious! You’ll think of this breakfast as a dessert, it’s so yummy. I usually make about four slices, so I use about four eggs. I love cream, I always have it on hand. There are so many uses for it when making everything from scratch. I use about 1/4 cup with 1/2 cup whole milk mixed in with my eggs.  Then I add 1 teaspoon cinnamon, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon vanilla extract. Mix, mix, mix. Butter up a hot pan. Quickly dip both sides of the bread in your egg mix and place on the hot pan. Cook for a few minutes, checking it until it’s lightly browned.  Flip and do the same to the other side until done. Plate it up and shake on some powdered sugar and drizzle pure maple syrup on top. It’s dessert for breakfast!

Easy Buttermilk Biscuits

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Author: Cassie Stevens

Warm fluffy, buttery, homemade buttermilk biscuits. Do I have your attention yet? Sounds good right? They are so easy to make from scratch. If you haven’t ever made your own biscuits before you will love this recipe. It’s easy and simple. I make these all the time, and they are a huge hit on my house.  I usually make them for white pepper sausage gravy, one of my husbands favorites. I try to make it every Sunday for him (it’s his only day off).

2 cups flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

6 Tbsp cold butter (you can use shortening or lard if you have it, but I really like the buttery taste better)

1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.  Cut up cold butter into small cubes. Using a fork or a pastry blender cut in butter into the flour, until resembles a course meal.  Slowly pour in one cup buttermilk, careful not to over mix. You don’t want to break up the butter too much, because those lumps of butter melt in the oven creating pockets of steam that leave your biscuits light and airy or flaky.  Once you have it all mixed, lightly flour a work surface to roll your dough out on. Keep your dough thick, about an inch or so.  Cut with a cookie cutter or a cup, and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  You can re-roll your leftover dough from the edges when you cut your first batch of biscuits. Be careful not to over work the dough. You just want to get all the pieces back together again. Bake for about ten minutes or until lightly golden brown. Let cool for a minute, and dive right in. Split it open and spread butter, or jam or whatever your fix is. Just enjoy the bounty of your efforts.

Southern Skillet Cornbread

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Author: Cassie Stevens

I was raised on cornbread. It is a southern staple. A must have. Here is a quick and easy delicious southern skillet recipe you’ll love. First, you need to preheat your skillet.  Turn your oven on to 450 degrees F and place your greased up skillet it to heat up. Then make your batter:

2 cups self-rising cornmeal

1 large egg

1/4 cup veg oil

1 1/3 cup milk or 1 3/4 cups buttermilk

3/4 cup sugar

mix with an electric mixer until no lumps in batter.  Pour batter into hot skillet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  When light brown in color let cool and melt a little butter over the top. Serve and enjoy!

Sometimes I will add a can of drained corn to the batter.  That’s really good too!

Lemon Pepper Sage Talapia with a Lemon Butter Cream Sauce

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Author: Cassie Stevens

What a delicious way to eat fish.  Creamy, lemony, light and healthy. This was an awesome dish and I recommend you try this the next time you have fish. I would imagine you could substitute just about any fish you like. We happened to have talapia today. Lemon and fish just work so well together. I love it! Love, love, love it! I wanted something a bit creamy tonight with it so I came up with this lemon butter cream sauce. It was so delicious and easy! I paired it all up with a mix of butter beans, green beans and spinach. OMG YUM!

I used frozen talapia placed out on a sheet pan. I seasoned them with olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and one whole leaf each of sage fresh from my garden. I am a gardener as well. I have to have my fresh herbs. They save me so much money.  Plus, my daughter picks and eats straight off the plants. She loves basil! I have to keep her away from them sometimes or she will strip my plants. Anyways, place the seasoned fish into the oven at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes or so. While I was waiting on the fish to cook, I mixed 1 stick of butter with a little bit of salt and pepper to taste, about two tablespoons of dried parsley.  Then added about 1/8 cup of lemon juice and mixed until blended well.  Add in one tablespoon of flour mixed in before it got to hot, then added one cup of cream. I let the cream sauce heat up to a simmer for a few minutes.  While keeping an eye on the cream sauce, I drained the spinach, butter beans, green beans, and put it all in a pot. I added two tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of ham soup base (its ham bouillon). Bring the beans to a boil. By that time, your fish should be done. Serve it all up and enjoy the awesomeness of the sauceyness. Ha ha! so good. Give it a try and tell me what you think.

Easy Crock-pot Chili over Fritos with Skillet Cornbread

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Author: Cassie Stevens

You gotta love make ahead meals. Especially if you’re a busy Mom. I like to use my crock pot as often as I can. It works wonders with tough meats, plus set it and forget it is what I’m good at. I start this the night before and, I make my own chili seasoning. I find it better suits my family’s tastes. My husband loves spicy food, I do NOT. I will eat it if it is not too spicy. I can handle a little bit of heat but, if it sets my tongue on fire I don’t go back for more. This chili is about as hot as I can handle, and good for my husband too. If he feels like it is not hot enough he will add heat to it with some more Cayenne pepper. He loves Cayenne. Weirdo!  I serve it over Frito’s because I just love the crunch it adds.

Top it off with sour cream and shredded cheese, and I always serve chili with skillet cornbread that I make from scratch.

2 pounds ground beef

1 packet beefy onion soup mix

2 cans chili ready tomatoes

2 can dark red kidney beans

1 can light red kidney bean

1 can tomato sauce

1 cup water

1 Tbsp cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp onion powder

3 Tbsp Chili powder

1 Tbsp dried parsley

salt and pepper to taste

I brown the meat in a skillet then drain the grease out add the beefy onion soup mix and brown for another ten minutes or so.  Place the meat in a crock pot then add all the rest of the ingredients. Place on low for about 4 hours or so.  If you have a real lean meat then you could place everything in your crock-pot in the morning and tun it on low for the day. When you get home from work dinner is ready.