Do you ever eat cookies for breakfast? We sure do. One of my kids’ favorite breakfasts is Giant Breakfast Cookies. (They also love having Popsicles for breakfast.) I am all about making their food fun so that they are more likely to eat healthier things. And since these cookies are probably way healthier than any muffin I make, I say go forth and make cookies for breakfast!
I also eyed the Irish Soda Bread (which I love, but the one I made most recently flopped in a big way) and Lemon Garlic Hummus; but in the end I was searching while I had sick kids at home and couldn’t go to the store, so I had everything on hand for the peanut butter cookies. Plus, cookies.
That said – for some wacky reason I didn’t have any whole wheat flour, which I ALWAYS have. So I did use white flour in mine, but I mixed in some oat flour to give it a little more healthfulness. I would definitely use white whole wheat flour if I had it on hand.
1 1/4 c. flour, preferably whole wheat (or a combo of all-purpose and oat flour)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a saucepan over low heat, melt together the butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Move mixture to a large bowl.
Your mixture should only be warm, not hot; if it's too warm, wait for a bit to make sure the eggs don't cook in it. Once it's just slightly warm, add eggs, milk, and vanilla.
Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and baking powder) into the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. Form dough into golf-ball sized balls and place on sheet, then press down slightly. (You can criss-cross with a fork for a traditional peanut butter cookie look, if you like. I didn't.) Bake for 7-8 minutes. They won't look done, but take them out anyway. Let cool on baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Best served warm!
For these to be truly low in sugar, use a natural peanut butter that is just peanuts or peanuts and salt. Even "natural" peanut butters usually have sugar and oils in them. I like Smuckers brand.
I haven’t added most of these meals to my recipe archive, because I didn’t try them out or picture them. I found them at other places. But the Chile Sweet Potato Hash from Rachael Ray was one that I have made, often. Back when Mr. V and I were kidless, we ate this regularly for dinner, because it’s inexpensive and satisfying, and a nice mix-up for breakfast for dinner. I think I saw Rachael make it on “30-Minute Meals” once.
The only issue I have with this dish is the sweet potatoes. It’s difficult to get them to cook through unless you slice them very thin. I suggest slicing as thinly as you can. If they still aren’t cooking through, after your initial 10-15 minute cook time, change the heat to low, put a baking sheet or lid on your skillet, and steam them for a few minutes. Alternately, you could partially cook the sweet potatoes ahead of time in some boiling water. I may try that next time!
If you like heat, use hot breakfast sausage and throw in some cayenne or chipotle chili powder. If you don’t, this isn’t too spicy, but you can cut down on the chili powder if you want.
2 large or 3 smaller sweet potatoes - peeled, then cut in half lengthwise, then into half-moon thin slices
1 small onion, sliced thinly
1 T chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried cilantro or coriander
1/2 tsp. dried turmeric (optional)
salt and pepper
eggs, cooked over easy
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. When it's hot, add sausage to the pan and break up with a wooden spoon. Brown the sausage for about 3 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes, onions, spices, and some salt and pepper.
Cook, stirring frequently and continuing to break up the sausage, for 10-15 minutes, until sweet potatoes are soft.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: my kids will eat basically anything if I puree it and put it in popsicle form.
Spinach? Yep. Mango? Uh huh. Flax seed, chia seed, coconut oil, coconut milk, carrots – basically anything healthy that they normally won’t touch, they will eat in frozen form!
I finely shredded a beet for Sweet Beet Cookies and had a little bit leftover. I decided to dump it in my Vitamix and add frozen strawberries for a fun, richly red freezer pop. Seriously, the beet gives these a really gorgeous color and an added punch of folate, vitamin C, and potassium, among other nutrients.
I used homemade almond milk in these because we have David off dairy at the moment, but you could definitely use any kind of milk or yogurt you want. Enjoy!
Ruby-red popsicles with boosts of nutrition from some shredded beet and chia seed.
2 c. frozen strawberries
1/4 c. shredded raw red beet
1 1/2 c. almond milk or other milk
1 tsp. chia seed (optional)
1/2 a ripe banana
water as needed
Add all ingredients except water to a high-powered blender. Blend until completely smooth, adding water if needed for it to blend smoothly. Serve as is or freeze in popsicle molds.
If you make this with fresh strawberries and want to serve as a smoothie, you will need to add ice for the proper frozen texture. If you are making it into popsicles, it doesn't matter if it's more liquidy than icy.
You can never have enough soup recipes during the winter? Am I right? I could eat soup basically for every meal and be happy as a clam.
My assignment for this month’s Secret Recipe Club was Searching for Spice. Corina lives in Surrey, England, and has two little ones. Her recipes are for busy moms, loaded with hearty spices, and delicious. Many of her recipes are ethnic, especially falling into the Indian and Thai food categories. They look delightful, and I’m eager to try one on my husband, like Chicken Biryani with Spinach Raita. (OK, he won’t eat that raita, but I definitely will!)
I’m always a little daunted by recipes that are in metric and have unfamiliar ingredients, but my husband reminded me that Google is my friend and I can do it! Thankfully Corina’s recipe for Pizza Soup looked awesome and had few conversions for me to do.
This soup has big pieces of bell pepper, onion, salami, and mushrooms, making it hearty enough for a meal on its own, which sometimes soup is not. A slice of cheese toast on the top helps balance the acidity of the tomatoes and adds and extra flavor layer. I made just a few modifications. Corin may be ashamed of me, but I can’t handle spicy foods, so I subbed in salami for chorizo and reduced the red pepper flakes a little. If you like spice, by all means, throw in as many as you want. And maybe some jalapeños, too!
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add salami and cook a few minutes, stirring, until it begins to crisp. Add bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic, and onion and reduce heat to medium. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent.
Add balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes to the pot, and stir well. Fill the tomato can about two-thirds with water and add it to the soup, stirring. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese and some black pepper.
Top bread slices with shredded cheese and a pinch of Italian seasoning and broil until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. Ladle soup into bowls, then top with cheese toast. (You can substitute toasted garlic bread as well.)
I grew up using the 70s version of the Betty Crocker Big Red Cookbook quite a bit. We didn’t have a lot of cookbooks, other than some church collaborations. In fact, my mom doesn’t even usually cook from recipes. But she got that big red binder for her wedding, I think, and when it was time to bake sugar cookies to decorate, she always opened it up.
Once I got married, I had my own Big Red Cookbook, but it was the newer, 2001 version. All I could remember was that my mom’s sugar cookie recipe came from the big binder and had cream of tartar in it, but none of the recipes in there seemed to match. A few years into our marriage, we found the same version of Big Red that my mom had in a used bookstore and grabbed it up. Still, the sugar cookie recipe didn’t call for cream of tartar. I was so confused.
Then – aha! There are TWO sugar cookie recipes in the older cookbook. Mom’s recipe is the Deluxe Sugar Cookies. I don’t know what makes them deluxe, but to me no other sugar cookie tastes just right. These are soft but the bottoms are sturdy; the taste has that almost tart flavor of a snickerdoodle due to the cream of tartar.
I was so glad to find this recipe again. I am no great decorator of cookies, but I took a cue from Betty there, too: she suggests letting an Andes mint melt on the top of a hot cookie and then spreading it around the top for “frosting.” Bingo! They don’t look awesome, but they taste delicious. And thanks to it being 2015 instead of 1976, we have Andes creme de menthe chips to make this even easier.
So just in case you don’t have your own classic cookie recipe for the season, this one makes a perfect cookie for decorating and snacking, with or without frosting.
Yield: 40-60 cookies, depending on size of cutters
1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
With a mixer, cream together powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract, and egg until uniform. Stir in flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar until you have a smooth dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
Preheat oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
Let dough rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes, then roll out on a clean, floured surface to about 1/2 an inch. (Thin, but not too thin.) Cut out with cookie cutters and transfer to lined cookie sheet.
Bake 7-9 minutes, until cookies are golden around the edges. Let cool for a minute, then transfer to wire racks to cool before decorating.
It’s Fall! Maybe for real this time! Yes, in this part of Tennessee it’s rarely fall before at mid-October. But every year we somehow forget about how that happens and moan and groan about it through September.
Please forgive my Fall over-styling, then, but I was a little excited.
These little date candies come to you via the Secret Recipe Club from Melissa, author of Smells Like Brownies. Strangely enough, Melissa is probably the only SRC member I’ve met in person; she was one of my sister’s friend in middle school. We also went to the same high school; she would have been a freshman when I was a senior. SO WEIRD!
So now Melissa is, like me, a stay-at-home mommy who passionately loves to bake. She is also very health-conscious and a pescatarian. I will say that after #Choctoberfest I really just wanted to make a steak for SRC! But since Melissa doesn’t go that route, instead I made this yummy date candy balls that are a lot more healthful than, say, Millionaire Shortbread Bars.
I thought the coffee powder might be a little overwhelming for the rest of the flavors, but I liked the balance between it and the cocoa. I was sure my kids would take one taste and refuse to eat them because NUTS and COFFEE, but they gobbled them right up. Score for Mommy!!! A healthy snack that gets them good fat from nuts and vitamins from the dates.
unsweetened shredded coconut, for rolling (optional)
Toast chopped nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until they smell nutty. Put nuts and dates in a food processor and run until they are well chopped and combined.
Add cocoa, coffee, salt, vanilla, and chocolate chips to the mixture and pulse until combined.
Use a small cookie scoop (about 2 teaspoons) to measure some of the mixture into your hand, then roll into a ball. It should press together pretty easily; if not, you can add a teaspoon of water or honey to the mixture and pulse again. If desired, roll balls in shredded coconut. Place on a plate and refrigerate for a little it before serving. Store covered in fridge.