Practical Ways to Make Use of the Lavender in Your Garden

lavender

We don’t have a lot of outdoor space so we make do with container and vertical gardens. We don’t really have any ornamental plants at the moment, just ones that offer medicinal, gastronomic, and culinary value. I’d say that they are still pleasing to the eye even if they’re not strictly decorative.

Generally, we can eat or cook our plants. This is probably the reason why my husband, as he rearranged the pots hanging from our wall grid, asked me what the lavender was for.

I’m not sure what his intent was in asking that, if it was out of idle curiosity or if it was more pointed, but it got my back up and made me defensive.

I knew lavender was useful in so many ways, but at that moment, my brain shut down and I couldn’t come up with one practical purpose the plant has. As I fitfully stammered my way into a passable reply, my husband cut in, “Besides smelling nice.”

Rats! Aromatherapy was going to be my first point too. My mind hummed. It cried, “Food! He cares about that!” I knew lavender was added to cakes and other sweets, but I regret to say that I wasn’t able to make my case for lavender that day. I don’t remember why. Our children are master disruptors. No conversation between my husband and myself doesn’t get interrupted sooner or later.

The next time he asks though, I’ll be prepared. With bullet points too.

Having lavender in our tiny garden is smart because we can use it for:

  • Lavender tea – It calms you down, soothing anxiety and relieving stress.
  • Lavender-infused desserts – This may sound like eating something that tastes of soap or perfume, but did you know that lavender is actually one of the ingredients in herbes de provence? I also got to try a vanilla-lavender-honey ice cream in France and it was absolutely divine.
  • Lavender sachets – These are for scenting drawers and closets, especially where I place the kids’ pajamas. Lavender is known for inducing sleep and relaxation, so it helps to have their sleepwear smelling of it. I personally don’t need it as I pretty much pass out from exhaustion every night. What I need are stimulatory scents that help keep you awake such as mint and cinnamon.
  • Lavender nosegays – They not only serve as home décor placed in vases or hanging from a hook somewhere, they also make the house smell lovely. Lavender keeps on looking fresh even after it dries.
  • Lavender beauty and health aids – If you need to calm down, try rubbing lavender between your fingers and then massaging your temples. You could also use lavender and water as a facial mist. Honestly, there are so many benefits offered by lavender that there is an abundance of possibilities when it comes to its use.

Now that I’ve got my answer prepared, I can pretty much guarantee that the question of lavender’s relevance shall never arise again.

What about you? Do you have a lavender plant? Where and how do you use it?

Three Fun Ways to Celebrate Crêpe Day

One of our homeschool quirks is that we like to learn about and celebrate silly or obscure holidays. For February 2, we had several options. Groundhog Day, Crêpe Day, Dogsled Day, and Play Your Ukelele Day are just some that I can recall from the list I consulted.

Groundhog Day and Dogsled Day weren’t very relevant to us since we live in the tropics (although we still discussed Groundhog Day to satisfy the kids’ curiosity). We don’t have a ukulele for the moment so we couldn’t play one even if it was just the kind of holiday we’d have liked to observe. Crêpes, on the other hand, are something we enjoy eating, and I had several ideas for expanding on this occasion.

Crêpe Day, as you can probably guess, originates from France, a part of the La Fête de la Chandeleur or Candlemas. Now, I’m not Catholic, so I’m not the person to ask if it’s also celebrated here or elsewhere. Supposedly, however, it commemorates the day when Jesus was presented at the temple in Jerusalem.

There must have been some sort of Christian-pagan fusion in the celebration since the crêpes were mainly associated with the time of the year. They were made to use up the extra wheat before the next harvest. They also were supposed to look like the sun, so making them was a kind of salute to the coming warmer season.

At any rate, you gotta eat crêpes on Crêpe Day. That’s the part of the celebration we were all looking forward to, but we could definitely make other parts of the celebration fun and engaging too. Here are some of the activities we had on Crêpe Day that made it even more fascinating for us.

1. Learning French Chandeleur proverbs – I’m a confessed Francophile, so I love any old excuse to spout off French sayings. My eldest who’s 10 can already appreciate the beauty of the language, and while we’re officially studying Spanish and not French, it’s still fun to expose her to the latter. Here are two of the easier ones to remember:

À la Chandeleur, l’hiver cesse ou reprend vigueur.
On Candlemas, winter ends or strengthens.

Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte.
Candlemas covered (in snow), forty days lost.

2. Flipping crêpes – There’s a French crêpe-throwing game that sounded fun, but it also sounded like a potential waste of good food, and since we avoid doing that as much as we can, I decided to come up with an alternative. Flipping crêpes is even more fun than flipping pancakes since they’re thinner and lighter, yet wider. The kids basically had a go at just one crêpe, holding the spatula over the table, so even if they missed (and they did several times), it still wouldn’t get dirty.

3. Coming up with a signature crêpe – We concocted our own crêpe filling. We didn’t have a lot of time by the time we got around to this. We also didn’t have much in the way of ingredients, so we stuck to the common options. Next time, I’ll prepare better and supply them with a variety of food items. These are what we came up with.

Banana with Nutella

Banana and Nutella on Crepe  Homemade Banana Nutella Crepe

Ham and Cheddar Cheese

Ham and Cheddar on Crepe
Homemade Ham and Cheddar Crepe

This is the recipe I followed for making the crêpes themselves.

Basic Crêpes

Ingredients
• 1 C all-purpose flour
• 2 eggs
• ½ C milk
• ½ C water
• Pinch of salt
• 2 T melted butter

Directions
• Whisk flour and eggs together in a large mixing bowl. Add in milk and water gradually, stirring until well-combined. Beat in salt and butter until smooth.
• Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over medium high heat. Pour about a fourth or a fifth of the batter on the pan, depending on how big your pan is. Tilt the pan in a circular motion, taking care to evenly coat the pan’s surface.
• Let the crêpe cook for one to two minutes until you can easily loosen it from the pan. Turn it over and cook until the bottom side is light brown.

If you’re interested in learning about fun holidays and observances, try checking out Brownielocks.com. Here’s the list for the month of February.

Do you like crêpes at all? Which kind is your favorite? Would you consider observing Crêpe Day next year? The above suggestions will hopefully give you a good idea of where to start. What other ideas would you recommend to observe this holiday? Would your rather celebrate Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday, which falls on February 28 this year) instead of Crêpe Day? Let me know.

And remember that it doesn’t have to be Crêpe Day for you to get your crêpe on. You can have fun with crêpes anytime you want to.

Happy Food: Mini Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

mini cinnamon rollsHow does cinnamon affect you? They say that it’s a very healthy spice, and while I’m sure that’s true, cinnamon usually has another kind of positive effect on many people. Its smell and taste evoke the atmosphere of Christmas. This is certainly true for me. I just love the aroma of baking with cinnamon. Cinnamon rolls also happen to be a personal happy food of mine as they bring memories of breakfast at my aunt’s home in Fresno. There were always sinfully delectable gooey buns/cinnamon rolls glazed with cream cheese frosting from Costco. I hear they’re not available anymore, so that somehow motivated me even more to bake some myself. 🙁 Anyway, I initially had the inspiration to make homemade ones when I passed by a Cinnabon and saw an employee making a batch. It didn’t look hard to do at all. So, anyway, the other day, I finally got around to making some. It only took me about 9 months to get around to it, hee.

This is the recipe I used (as usual, no yeast since I’m scared of the thing — I have, in fact, used it in the past to make bread, but haven’t mustered the courage lately to use some again):

Mini Cinnamon Rolls

Filling
4 T butter
1 C brown sugar
3 t cinnamon

Dough
2 C flour
2 T sugar
4 t baking powder
1 t salt
3 T butter
1/2 C milk

Cream Cheese Frosting
2 T butter, softened
1/4 C cream cheese
1 C powdered sugar
1/4 t vanilla extract
dash of salt

Make the filling by combining the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon to form a kind of coarse paste. Spread about half of the mixture over the bottom of a 9×9 pan.
For the dough, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter. Gradually stir in milk to form a soft dough. Divide dough into 4 balls. Roll out each into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Spread filling on the rolled out dough, and then roll dough up into a coil. Cut length of dough into 6 small pieces (up to you really how big and how many you want to make). Place on top of filling in the 9×9 pan.
Bake for 15-20 mins at 400°F.
For frosting, combine butter and cream cheese. Gradually stir in powdered sugar. Add vanilla and salt. Dollop over rolls while they’re still warm. Recipe makes 2 dozen mini rolls.

mini cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting

Do you know those Costco gooey buns I’m talking about? Do you prefer a simple milk and sugar glaze on your cinnamon roll instead of actual frosting? Anyway, cinnamon rolls are best eaten while warm and fresh from the oven, in my opinion. Ours certainly didn’t last long. Next time, I’ll try adding chocolate syrup just like they do at Cinnabon. Btw, these make great tea fare too.

Healthy Snack: Hummus and Chapati

hummus and chapatiMy husband grew up in Dubai and often has a hankering for Middle Eastern or Mediterranean dishes. I love food that’s rich in flavor, so I’m usually ready to fall in with these cravings when he has them. Something from his childhood that we can easily make at home is hummus, and except for the tahini, most of the ingredients are easily accessible here. Many suggest using sesame oil as a substitute for tahini, but, fortunately, Mark found a jar of the real stuff at the nearby Indian deli while buying some samosas and tamarind sauce for me (that time, I was the one with a craving).

Last Sunday, our age group in church was tasked to lead the fellowship activity and they’d decided to do cooking tutorials. I was assigned to demonstrate one recipe, so I decided to do hummus. Of course, hummus is really a dip, so I needed to add something with which to dip. I was all for just cutting up some carrots and cucumbers, but Mark nixed the idea, saying we needed something really bland to make the flavor of the hummus stand out. The guy knows his hummus, so I bowed to his expertise. The obvious choice was pita bread, but since it’s not the easiest bread to make (working with yeast intimidates me, if you must know), I thought chapati would do just as well.

Here are the recipes I used:

Hummus

A 450-gram can of chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
juice from 1 lemon
4 T tahini
a garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling before serving
1/2 t salt
1/2 t ground cumin
2 to 3 T water
Dash of paprika before serving

In a blender or food processor, mix first the lemon juice and tahini, then follow with the minced garlic, salt, cumin, and olive oil. Pulse and then add the chickpeas. Blend the mixture, adding water to reach the desired creamy consistency. Scoop out into the serving bowl, drizzle some more olive oil on top and then sprinkle with paprika. Recipe serves 4.

Chapati

2 C flour
milk
salt
2 T oil (I used olive oil, but it can be vegetable or canola)

Put flour in a wide container, make a well in the center and add milk as well as a dash of salt. Start mixing, adding milk until the dough is just the right consistency for kneading. Add the oil, and then knead. Let rest for about 10 minutes. Divide the dough into golf ball-sized pieces. Sprinkle with flour and press down into discs. Roll flatter using a rolling pin until the discs are about 4 inches wide. Put in the pan over medium heat until the surface starts showing some bumps. Flip it; the other side should show some brown spots. Flip it again when the bottom side starts showing brown spots as well. Using a folded kitchen cloth (or, in my case, a clean cloth diaper), press down on the edges of the chapati to make the center puff out. When it has sufficiently ballooned, it’s ready to serve. It does deflate once taken off the fire, so don’t worry that it goes flat again. This recipe makes about 12 pieces.

Hope these recipes can be of use to you. What else do you dip in hummus? Have you tried using tortilla to substitute for pita? Thoughts please.

Sour Days: Pack Rat Forced to Declutter

Things around here have been on the sour side lately. I know I was supposed to just post about the sweet stuff, but this is related to the whole blogging endeavor. There was a recent decree to get rid of all the garbage that was accumulating in our pathetically small space, so with reluctance from me and copious tears from Marguerite, we got rid of several Pringles cans that were going to turn into this (although ours would have been a small toy sorter – LPS, My Little Pony, Strawberry Shortcake, Jewel Pets, Lalaloopsy, etc.) or this, a rather pretty (I thought so anyway) fabric kite that I had sewn with my own hands (it was declared, nay doomed, by the declutter villain to remain flightless because of some principle about aerodynamics), the beginnings of a cardboard dollhouse, the beginnings of a recycled mirror using faux wrought iron frame like this, bags of used wrapping paper and gift bags that we’d been slowly recycling (we hadn’t needed to buy gift wrap at all, thanks to that bundle), the black beret I’d bought in Paris (because it wasn’t doing anything except gather dust bunnies), fabric scraps that were going to be used for various crafting and upcycling projects… Aargh, it literally pains me to go through this list so I’ll stop. I could put the mess away, and sometimes, they are properly stored, but the kids usually take some of the materials out, especially Marguerite who’s super imaginative and finds ways to have fun with all kinds of junk, and we all just get so tired of putting them away again that they’re just gathered on some surface until the next time (probably ten minutes from that time) we need them. So good luck to all my future upcycling, recycling, and crafting blog posts; they’ve been thrown out alongside the clutter.

I admit that I do tend to be messy. Growing up, I had maids to pick up after me and until now I’m still learning that all those household chores won’t be magically done for me. When we moved to this space, I curbed my creative recycling compulsion because it would have caused an issue with people who don’t share the same convictions about reducing, recycling and reusing. However, when we started this blog, I thought it was understood that I’d expect certain liberties about crafting materials and recyclables (you know, clutter) because I’d be posting about these projects. Now, I’m clearly disabused of this notion.

I’m unhappy about having been forced to give up the clutter. It makes me wonder about values and sacrifices, when two sets of the former are unsynched and when the latter are made grudgingly. So, in effect, the lesson in waste reduction I was hoping to instill in my kids turned into waste itself and got thrown out with the rest of the “garbage”. Sigh. I’ll probably post this, but I won’t be promoting it in social media.

Look, I’d already taken a picture of the cardboard scraps I’d used for the dollhouse in prep for that blog post. The structure was already built; it was just a matter of decorating and furnishing it. Hopefully, it was found by somebody who’d bother to finish the work.

DSC_2964

Tea Fare: Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, Plus My Loot from Dainty Mom

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting in Paper Chic Studio Candy Cups

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting in Paper Chic Studio Candy Cups

My daugther and I are big on tea parties (Cameron is ready to fall in with anything that involves eating), which is why I’m always trying to learn recipes for possible tea fare. This is actually the first time I attempted cupcakes, although I’ve made lots of sheet cakes in the past. I wanted to try something simple so I chose to make chocolate chip cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting. Here’s the recipe (it makes a dozen):

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

1 C flour
1 C brown sugar
1/4 C butter
1/2 C milk
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t vanilla
1 egg
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix the dry mixture to the butter mixture in small portions, alternating with the milk. Fold in chocolate chips. Scoop batter into muffin liners until about 3/4 full. Put in oven and bake for 15-20 mins or until the tops are golden brown. Cool before frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1/4 C softened butter
1/2 t vanilla
1 1/2 C confectioners sugar
2 T milk
3 T cocoa powder

Cream butter until fluffy. Add vanilla, and then beat in half of sugar and half of milk. Mix well. Beat in the rest of the sugar and the milk. Add cocoa powder. Feel free to add sugar, cocoa powder or milk until you’ve reached the desired taste and consistency.

Notice the really cute candy cups from Paper Chic Studio? They’re some of the prizes from the bundle I won from Martine de Luna and her DaintyMom.com’s Anniversary Contest. I’m so pleased to share that this post won, thanks to Martine’s son Vito who drew my name. Naturally, I was ecstatic when I found out, especially since I never win in raffles and this sort of things. There’s usually something about my name or my number that repels the hand of the person assigned to draw or even those random number generators. 😀 Anyway, the bundle includes more lovely loot from Paper Chic Studio, an adorable owl board from Dwell Studio, a yummy-smelling cologne from Plains and Prints, Mustela goodies (which are perfect for Cameron’s super sensitive skin), a very chic hat from Honey Baby, and a clever product called Aqueduck from Babies to Toddlers. There was also an additional gift pack from Breeze Philippines, which was really welcome.

prizes

breeze pack

Besides these, the other winner, Aimee of I am Aimee Diego, and I also got a tea date with Dainty Mom Martine. It was a real delight to meet these two ladies. Overall, it was a really great pre-Mother’s Day gift. Thanks so much, Martine!

Tea Date with Martine and Aimee

Tea Date with Martine and Aimee

Madeleines – Not Your Average Butch Cookies with Chunks

madeleinesBaking madeleines has been in my yearly 365 Things To Do List for the past seven years. It remained unticked until last night when I finally, FINALLY made some – and it was a hit on the first try. The kids loved it; so did my parents.

The main hindrance to my baking madeleines in the past was the lack of tray. I found pricey ones at a kitchen specialty store and meant to buy a couple. It’s fortunate that I put off the purchase because I found really cheap ones at Saizen (since it’s Saizen, you know it’s about Php88 each). There are just five molds per tray, but even if you buy several (which I did) they’ll still be cheaper than the other ones I saw (a 9-mold tray was around Php800, and the 12-tray one was well over a thousand).

madeleine trays

Anyway, I’m really thrilled that I finally got to try baking madeleines; now, we can add them to our usual tea party spread. Madeleines originated from northern France. The small buttery scallop-shaped cakes are like a cross between a sponge cake and a cookie. I’m sure there are numerous references to them in pop culture, but the one that really stuck with me is from an episode of Friends. Freddie Prinze, Jr. guested as Emma’s male nanny. As it was, he was the ideal child care provider. He had a degree in Early Childhood Care. He was super sensitive. He played the recorder to lull babies to sleep. And he baked madeleines. It just so happened that Ross was very uncomfortable with the idea of a male nanny, so they had to fire him. This was his commentary on Sandy’s (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) madeleines: “What kind of a guy makes delicate French cookies, huh? They’re not even butch, manly cookies with, you know, chunks!” Also, that they were lighter than air – so I knew that my madeleines had to be just as delicate. 🙂

So here I am, many years after I got to see that episode for the first time, learning to bake madeleines and play the recorder (I can do a really shrill “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Ode to Joy”)… Obviously, Sandy is my child care hero, lol.

Here’s the recipe I followed:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t lemon zest or 1/4 t lemon extract
  • 1 C confectioners sugar
  • 1 C  flour
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 C butter, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.
Beat eggs, vanilla and lemon zest/extract with an electric mixer on high speed for about 5 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, and continue beating for 5 minutes or until thick and satiny.
Mix the flour and baking powder. Sift the dry mixture a portion at a time over the egg mixture, and then gently fold in. Follow by folding in the cooled melted butter.
Grease and flour the molds, and then scoop batter into them (do not fill to the top).
Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until the edges darken to a light brown or golden color. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for a minute. Pry the cakes out of their molds (they would have eased off by themselves) or invert onto a rack and cool. Sprinkle some more confectioners sugar over the tops or dip the tips in melted chocolate.
This recipe gave us 24 madeleines. They were gone before you could say “C’est si bon.” Mark didn’t get to taste them. For every madeleine that Marguerite (6.5) had, Cameron (1.5) had 3.
"They didn't last long."

They didn’t last long.

Some random trivia: Madeleine was a close second to Marguerite as a name choice for our daughter.
Do you like madeleines? Do you think they make great petit fours? Do you think they taste like mamon?

Homemade Chocsicles: Sweet Summer Treat

ChocsiclesI’m not a fan of heat. Between that and the cold, I’d choose the latter. I like the cold, in fact. All you have to do is layer clothes and get a cozy fire going. When it’s hot, you can only remove so many clothes before you’re in your birthday suit. Also, the cold clears up my allergies, which are at their worst in hot muggy weather, which we get about 80% of the year here in the Philippines. Sometimes I really wonder why I choose to stay in the tropics, but that discussion is for another post. In any case, most summer days, the heat here is so oppressive that it’s all you can do not to pick a fight with any unfortunate creature that crosses your path. Or maybe you’re one of those who revel in the tropical climate, in which case your disposition would probably be much sunnier than mine. Even if that’s the case, I bet you like to indulge in cold treats, such as ice cream or halo-halo. If you’re a little low on the budget, you could freeze juice in slender baggies and make ice candy. My daughter has her own version of this: juice pops. She pours a glassful into an ice cube tray, cover it with cling wrap, and then poke a toothpick in the center of each cube. I, on the other hand, prefer my summer treat to be creamier, which is why I end up making homemade chocsicles to beat the heat. They’re cheaper and less complicated to make than fudgsicles, but are chocolate-y enough and have a consistency that I like (for some reason, the usual ice candy hurts my tongue). Anyway, here’s the recipe that I follow for chocsicles; see if your taste buds will find them pleasing as well.

Homemade Chocsicles

3/4 C sugar
3 T flour
3 T baking cocoa
4 C milk
10 popsicle molds (or the equivalent)

*semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Mix sugar, flour, and cocoa in a saucepan.

Stir in milk about half cup at a time, until clumps are gone and dry ingredients are completely dissolved.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Let cool before pouring into molds.

Optional: Add chocolate chips as you pour the mixture into the molds.

Set holders in the center of each mold.

Freeze until solid.

Here's an early morning chocsicle. We made this batch the night before and she was excited to have some in the morning. After making short work of a sandwich, she finally got her treat.

Here’s an early morning chocsicle. We made this batch the night before and she was excited to have some in the morning. After making short work of a sandwich, she finally got her treat.

Again, this is a fun and easy kitchen activity to do with your kids. Do you have your own recipe for popsicles? We’ll share our favorite recipes for fruit paletas soon.

Order in the Home: Solution to T-shirt Drawer Chaos

BEFORE-AFTERThings must have certainly come to a pretty pass when you think T-shirt (or sock or underwear) drawers are meant to be messy, like it’s a hard and fast rule. To have an organized T-shirt drawer is to go against its very nature. To keep a T-shirt drawer consistently tidy is simply messing with the universe. Well, you probably can keep your weltenschaunng intact as the following tip isn’t going to reform the slovenly members of your family, but it will keep their T-shirt drawers neat much longer than you probably thought possible.

It’s really very simple. The solution would have been pretty obvious, but if you’re like me, I tend to be set in the ways I grew up with. Being practical is not something that comes naturally to me at all, so I have to be shown a better way for me to see the wisdom in other options. This time, the inspiration came from Darkroom and Dearly.

My husband would have a conniption fit at the quality of the pictures I’m posting here, but all I had access to when I organized our chest of drawers was our tablet, so please excuse the grainy pictures. I think you can get an idea how vastly better the new folding and storing system is than the old one.

T-shirt drawer

Is this something that you’ve been doing all along? Do you have a different yet also effective way of organizing your T-shirt drawer? Comments are much appreciated!

Wholesome Snack: Homemade Cheese Crackers

crackers in a blue plateI’m huge on chips. Eating them was always a point of compromise during any of the many diet programs I tried in my younger years. I could easily consume an economy size bag in just one sitting. And feel remorse afterward. Anyway, I’ve definitely cut back big time since becoming a mother, but I still occasionally indulge the craving for them. I try not to go with store-bought versions and instead make our own. Besides potato, I’ve also tried making eggplant chips and tofu chips – unsuccessfully. My toasted chickpeas are okay, but Marguerite didn’t care for them when she was younger and I haven’t made any in a long time (Note to self: make some again sometime soon. I have chickpeas that have been waiting to be turned into hummus in the kitchen for longer than I care to remember.). However, my kids and I all like our homemade cheese crackers, so that’s certainly the working chips alternative that we have now. It’s also so fun to make. There’s an easy and shorter process, and there’s the longer, arm workout of a process. I tend to go for the latter for a few reasons: I could use the exercise, my daughter loves mixing things, and the food processor is at the bottom of a precariously stacked collection of  seldom-used kitchen doohickeys (we mostly use the blender).

I really recommend this snack as it’s definitely more wholesome than commercially produced versions. You know exactly what’s in it (no preservatives and artificial colors), and you get to spend time with your kids while making them. Here’s the recipe that we use:

Homemade Cheese Crackers

1 C flour
1 C shredded or grated cheese
4 T cold butter, diced into small pieces
1/2 t salt
1/2 t Spanish paprika
1/4 t cayenne pepper
5 T cold water

crackers on cookie sheetCombine all the ingredients except water in a bowl and mix thoroughly until well-blended. Many people prefer to use the food processor; we won’t judge. 🙂 Add water, one tablespoon at a time, blending some more after each addition, until dough comes together. Form the dough into a ball and then wrap with cling wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F. Sprinkle flour on a smooth surface and your rolling pin. Roll the dough out until it is about ⅛ inch thick. Using a pizza cutter or pastry wheel, cut into 1-inch squares. Once squares are ready, use a skewer or chop stick to poke a hole in the middle of each square. As you can see, my daughter loved this part so much that we ended up with 2 or more holes in many of the cracker squares.

Place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes until golden and crispy. Let sit in the oven for a couple more minutes before removing to let  cool on the counter. Do not over-bake. The crackers will crisp up more as they cool. You may store in a container for about a week. If the crackers get kind of soggy, you can crisp them up again in an oven for about 5 minutes.

Let us know if you get to try making some. What other seasoning would you care to use instead? Do you have other chips alternative to suggest? Hope to hear from you.

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