Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Easy Carrot Cracker Recipe

Crackers are one of the things we always have in our house, and so they became one of the first things I started making from scratch. And you know what? They are soooo simple! There are only six ingredients in my crackers, all of which you most likely already have and can pronounce. No more paying $3 for a cardboard box!
Another thing I always have in my pantry are canned carrots. They are constantly on sale, and David's grandfather is always giving me boxes of canned goods, always including a few cans of carrots. And since I don't like eating canned carrots, and my kids don't care for cooked carrots at all, they mostly just sit in the back gathering dust.

I've been sneaking them in all different places, like pasta sauce (and the pasta itself), but once I made carrot crackers, it was all over. (I have also made this recipe with sweet potatoes and it's excellent that way too!)

Carrot Crackers

2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
14.5 oz can of cooked carrots, drained
1 Tbsp. honey

Mix  2 cups of the flour, baking powder, salt together. Boring first step.

Mix the butter in until it has a course meal texture. I, of course, used my mixer, but if you don't have one, you can do this step with your hands. But, seriously, get a mixer already.

Now you add your carrots and honey. Boy, do I wish you could smell stuff on the internet - but trust me when I say, these smell fantastic!  When I made these with sweet potatoes, I ran the potatoes through  food processor  first to make puree. This time, I wanted less work/dishes, so I skipped this step and just put the carrots in there and let them break apart while blending. Both ways work fine, one has flecks, one doesn't. 

I added a rosemary garlic seasoning blend to my crackers which turned out delicious. You can use whatever seasoning you like here, or none,as I usually do. Gotta get fancy for the blog, ya know.

So now, break out the dough hook. Oh yeah. Just look at it. It's awesome.
If you don't have one, oh well, get to kneading. 

If your dough is too sticky, add that extra half a cup of flour. In the end you should end up with a smooth elastic dough that bounces back when you push on it. Roll it into a ball and stick it in the fridge for about half an hour. 

Use your time wisely. Give your baby that "a-poo" she's been pestering you for. And maybe brush her hair too... sheesh.

I divided my dough into fourths before I rolled it out. Don't know if that's important, but I thought I should be specific. Just roll it thin. Real thin. Like, cracker thin. 

Now you can cut it! Typically, I just cut them into squares because it's fast and it doesn't waste any dough, but like I said, I'm trying to be fancy for my blog so I used a cookie cutter!
I've made squares and shapes and have learned that my kids don't give a care what it looks like as long as it tastes good! I'm pretty sure they don't even look at it before shoveling it into their little mouths.

Preheat the oven to 350. Put your crackers on a baking sheet with either a non stick liner or parchment paper. Save yourself the headache of sticky crackers - get a Silpat.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until they are brown on the edges. I suppose they might cook better if you flip them, but who cares, I never do it and they're great.  
(This is just one of 4 pans this recipe made, be ready to eat!)

Aren't they pretty? 

This recipe makes about a box worth of crackers. I'm estimating, because there's no way I'm going to count crackers right now.

Hope you enjoy these as much as my family does (I'm eating them now with some hummus - yum!).

And now that I've written and said the word carrot so many times it looks/sounds wrong. It's a total weird word. Right?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Soft Chewy Granola Bars

Given that this is my second post about granola bars, you can probably guess how much we love granola bars over here. A LOT. For seriously.

These take about 10 minutes to make, and while they do need to chill/set you can eat these within an hour! Or just eat them with a spoon, whatever.

The best part of this recipe is the flexibility. I have made dozens of batches, each one a little different, based on what I have in the house that week. Mostly, I add in chocolate chips because that is my kids favorite. This week, I bought a dehydrator so I used dried blueberries. (I have been drying EVERYTHING.)

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup crisp rice cereal
1/2 cup flax seed
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup dried blueberries (or whatever)

Mix together first three ingredients in your PINK KITCHENAID STAND MIXER!
(Sorry, I just got one and I'M REALLY EXCITED. I use it for everything I possibly can, but a few weeks ago before I got it, I just used a wooden spoon to make these and it worked totally fine.)

Mix in the next three ingredients. I use natural chunky peanut butter (Meijer naturals to be exact), so the consistency is slightly different than regular peanut butter. I like using chunky peanut butter because I like peanuts in my granola bar, but I have used smooth and it's fine.

The mix should be wet, but not drippy. If it's too dry, add another Tbsp of peanut butter.

Then add your blueberries or chocolate chips. Or marshmallows. Or apricots. Or nothing, they're really super good without anything else.

Press into your pan with your hands or a spatula. I use a back of a spoon. Pack it down as hard as you can, it will make the granola bars stay together better. Once pressed down, put your pan in the fridge for at least half an hour before cutting.

I store mine in the fridge because I think they keep better that way. I have kept them in my cupboard, and they fell apart easier and since they have no preservatives, they won't last long. I can't tell you exactly how long they will last since mine are never around longer than a week.

So, enjoy! I made this batch earlier this evening, and they're half gone already!