Homemade Graham Crackers…

… Also known as “The Most Delicious Snack Ever”.

Yesterday, Ava came to me asking for crackers.  We were fresh out.  Zero.  Zilch.  None.  Not even something I could pass off as a cracker.  I had zero interest in walking (or driving) to the grocery store, only to buy processed junk crackers.

Homemade crackers it is!

I remembered that I picked up a book at the library.  This was actually the second time I check this book out.  That rarely happens.  I actually love this book so much, I think I’m going to buy a copy.  I very rarely buy books because I’m such a fan of borrowing them from the library.  The book, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making, is  so overly useful.  I’m in love!

The Homemade Pantry

Anyway… so off we went, making homemade graham crackers.  I try to be very patient when cooking with Ava.  I let her scoop, pour, and stir.  She loves to help.  Even though it is completely unimportant at her age, we talk all about the measurements and each ingredient as we add them.  She touches the flour and smells the cinnamon.

Cooking with Toddlers

The dough for these crackers needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  This perfectly fell during nap time.  When she woke up, I had just pulled the first batch of warm crackers from the oven.  She was beyond excited.  These little gems of cinnamon-sugar are too good not to share.  Next time (which will be soon), I think I will use some fun cookie cutters!

Homemade Graham Crackers copy

Whole Wheat Graham Crackers | Adapted from The Homemade Pantry

Makes 45-50 2×3 inch crackers

  • 1 Cup White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Rye Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 TSP Salt
  • 1/4 TSP Baking Soda
  • 1/2 TSP Baking Powder
  • 1-1/2 TSP Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Cup Packed Dark Brown Sugar (Make your own with raw sugar and molasses!)
  • 3 TBSP Cold Butter, cut into small cubes
  • 4 TBSP Coconut Butter
  • 4 TBSP Honey (Local, if you can find it!)
  • 2 TSP Vanilla Extract
  • 1 TSP Raw Sugar
  1. Combine the flours with the salt, baking soda, baking powder, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the brown sugar.  Mix well.  Add the butter and the shortening and mix until combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the honey and vanilla with 1/4 cup of cold water.  Stir until the honey is dissolved.  Slowly add the honey mixture to the flour mixture.  Form the dough into a bowl and wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 3 days.  (She says you can freeze it at this point.)
  3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator 20 minutes before baking.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Cut the dough in half and roll one half on a dusted surface (or between waxed paper).  Roll the dough as thin as possible, about 1/8 inch.  Cut your crackers into 2×3″ rectangles (or use cookie cutters!).  Place on a baking sheet using a spatula.  They won’t spread, so they can be very close.  Reroll the scraps and repeat until all of the dough is rolled.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with the 1 teaspoon sugar.  Sprinkle the crackers with the cinnamon-sugar and prick the dough several times with a fork.  Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are just starting to brown (about 12 minutes in my oven).  Remove from the oven and cool.

Graham Crackers From The Homemade Pantry

These crackers are incredible good.  Nothing beats homemade!  Enjoy!

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Banana Bread: Nana’s Recipe Makeover

Banana Bread

One thing we always had regularly at our house growing up was banana bread.  My Mom used the same recipe that my Grandma (Nana) always used.  One day I was longing for a taste of home.  I wanted to bake some of that wonderful banana bread that my Mom always made.  I called Mom and had her email me the recipe.  Since we are trying to eat as clean as possible, I made a few adjustments to the recipe.  It tastes EXACTLY the same!  I was so happy.

I put the recipe on one of my new chevron recipe cards for you to enjoy.  If you like the recipe card, it is available as a Word template in my Etsy shop in a few different colors.  This recipe is available here as a PDF download.

Banana Bread Recipe Card

This recipe is so easy.  You now have no excuse to use a boxed mix!  To make this recipe a bit more “clean,” I substituted coconut oil for the shortening and whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour.  I also use organic evaporated cane sugar instead of white sugar.  It does not change the taste or texture at all.  Tony had no idea it was made with whole wheat flour.  You can also add walnuts (or any other nut) to the bread, but I personally feel that nuts in baked goods are an abomination. =) Tony feels differently.

To download the recipe card, click here.  Enjoy!

Are there any foods that remind you of home?  Let me know how you like this banana bread recipe!

Maple Soy Salmon and Wild Rice

Maple Soy Salmon

I picked up some fresh wild Alaska salmon at the store tonight.  I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with it, but salmon always turns out wonderful.  Wild rice is so much more hearty and flavorful than your basic white rice.  I whipped up this maple soy salmon with wild rice and baby corn in about 20 minutes.

Maple Soy Salmon with Wild Rice
Serves: 1 (easily doubled)

Ingredients:

  • Wild Alaska Salmon Filet
  • 1/8 Cup Maple Syrup (the real stuff!)
  • 1/8 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Wild Rice
  • 1/4 Cup Long Grain Brown Rice
  • Water
  • 1/2 TBSP Butter
  • Sesame Oil
  • Scallions
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Baby Corn or Other Veggie
  1. Boil both rices together in the appropriate amount of water (I used 1 1/2 cups for 1/2 cup of rice)
  2. Turn your oven to broil and set your oven rack to the middle or lower level.
  3. Place the salmon and your baby corn (or other veggie) in a pan or casserole dish.
  4. Mix the maple syrup and soy sauce and spoon about half of it on the salmon.
  5. Place the salmon under the broiler for approximately 10 minutes, or until done.  Spoon the remainder of the sauce over the salmon about a minute before removing the salmon.
  6. Once the rice is cooked, add the butter to the rice and stir.  Add a splash of sesame oil to the rice.  Pour rice on plate.
  7. Plate your salmon on the rice and place the baby corn on top of the salmon.
  8. Spoon the sauce from the bottom of the pan on the fish and baby corn.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.

Enjoy!

The Most Amazing Salad Dressing EVER!

If you follow me on Pinterest, you know that I am constantly pinning new food ideas.  Since my major diet change over a month ago, I have been searching high and low for great vegetarian and vegan recipes.

Over the past month, I have made a few batches of soup, most of which were horrible.  All things on Pinterest are not amazing.  That being said, I did find something amazing.  I think I have found the most amazing salad dressing ever.

Feast your eyes on this!  Zesty Avocado Cilantro Buttermilk Dressing.

Photo courtesy of SkinnyTaste.com

Photo courtesy of skinnytaste.com

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeds removed, leave them in if you want it spicy
  • 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro
  • 1 medium hass avocado
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped scallion
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

I made a few changes based on what I had on hand.  I only had pickled jalapeno, so I tossed in 4 slices.  I didn’t have a scallion so I just left it out and I substituted lemon for the lime.  I also used my homemade taco seasoning instead of cumin, for something extra.  You toss it all in the blender and let it go.  It took less than two minutes to make.  It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  And the best part is that it doesn’t contain a bunch of preservatives, sugar, or mayo!

I made a taco salad for dinner and it was awesome.  This recipe is definitely going to become a staple around our house.

Have you found any amazing recipes on Pinterest?

Food Waste Friday 1/11

FoodWasteFriday

After years of wasting what could have fed a small Ethiopian village, we are attempting to reduce our food waste. I will post a photo each week of our food waste and I will link up with Food Waste Friday over at The Frugal Girl.

I’m fairly bummed about this week.  I made an entire crock pot full of vegetable soup and it all ended up in the trash.  It was disgusting!  It was a recipe I found on Pinterest.  I figured I would give it a try.  It had one major problem.  The recipe said to add the uncooked pasta in the beginning and let it cook with the soup all day.  I should have known better.  By the time I got home to check the soup, the pasta had cooked down to mush and ruined the entire soup.  Needless to say, it went straight into the garbage.

I also let a little bit of leftover potato and broccoli soup go bad.  I don’t know how I forgot about it.  It was actually really good and I would have eaten it.  I guess we just got busy.  Hopefully next week will be better.

How was your week?

See how last week went… Food Waste Friday 12/28

Copycat Arizona Green Tea

Copycat Arizona Green TeaTony’s favorite drink is Arizona Green Tea with Ginsing and Honey.  I remember the first time I tasted it after I met him.  It wasn’t bad!  After each of his surgeries (two knees and a shoulder) over the past few years, I would bring him a few bottles of his favorite green tea and a package of Harbo Gummy Bears.  Harbo’s are one of the only candies he will eat, he’s not a fan of sweets.

I was tired of paying $3-4 for a gallon of tea.  I mean, it’s only tea, how difficult could it be to make?  So, I set out to make a gallon of my own homemade green tea with honey (and lemon, after reading the ingredients).  Here is what I came up with:

Copycat Arizona Green Tea

  • 1 gallon cold water
  • 2 teabags green tea
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 – 1 lemon, depending on size
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  1. In a pot, bring the gallon of cold water to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, remove from the heat and add the two tea bags. Let them steep for an hour.
  3. After an hour, remove the tea bags and add the sugar, honey, and lemon. Make sure not to get any seeds in it.
  4. Pour it in a gallon jug (we use a recycled Arizona Tea jug) and its done!
  5. Served chilled, over ice, or even hot.

Notes: I said 1/2 – 1 lemon because I used a jumbo lemon and half was perfect.  For a small lemon, use the entire thing.  I’m estimating my cost for one gallon to be about $1.50.  It could be less.  I used mostly organic ingredients.  Definitely worth it!

How did you like it?

Groceries on Clearance… And Not Just Boxed Stuff

As much as I miss Publix, I am growing to love Carrs. Carrs is very similar to Publix, minus my brother working in the bakery. Carrs does have one up on Publix, two actually. The Carrs near our house is also open 24 hours. Carrs puts perishable items on clearance when it nears its expiration or sell by date. We are talking 30% off fresh meat and seafood and 50% off dairy, packaged meats, and pretty much everything else in the store. Some stuff goes out of date that same day, but other stuff is still good for 3-4 days.

Let’s just say, I have no shame digging in the clearance section to see what I can find. On my last shopping trip, I found this giant 32 oz container of Nancy’s yogurt for $1.50. That’s the same price I would have paid for two 6 oz Yoplait containers.  We still have two days to finish it.  We have about 2/3 of it left.  I need to find a recipe that uses vanilla yogurt.

Does your local grocery store mark down fresh food?

Pork Tamales

My husband and brother smoked a pork shoulder earlier this week and the remainder of it has been in my fridge.  Unsure what to do with it; I began thinking up recipes to put it in.  Last night I made Pork Fried Rice, which turned out fabulous.  I love tamales and have wanted to try my hand at making them, but I’ve always been a little nervous.  I’m not really sure why, how hard can they be?  So here goes: Amanda’s Pork Tamales.

Ingredients:
Corn Husks (or parchment paper)
2 cups Masa Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
2-2/3 cups Water
2/3 cup Shortening
4 cups Pulled Pork
1 medium Onion, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 tbsp Tomato Paste
2 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Oregano

Directions:

1.  Soak the Corn Husks in a clean sink full of water.  You may need to weigh them down with something since they float.  This will take about an hour, but the longer the better.  (If you are using parchment paper, you can skip this step.)

2.  Mix the Masa Flour, Baking Powder, and Salt.  Slowly add two cups of Water and mix until the dough is very sticky.

3.  Add the Shortening and mix thoroughly.  This is your dough.

 4.  In a separate bowl, mix the Pulled Pork, Onion, 2/3 cup Water, Garlic, Tomato Paste, Cumin, Chili Powder, and Oregano.  Mix until combined.  This is your tamale filling.

 5.  To make the tamales, lay the Corn Husk (or Parchment Paper) on a flat surface.  Spoon approximately two tablespoons of masa dough on the corn husk.  Spread the dough out evenly leaving a 1/4 inch around the edge of the Corn Husk.  Spoon some of the Pulled Pork mixture on to the middle of each tamale.

 6.  Roll each tamale into a tight tube and fold over the smaller end. 

7.  Steam the tamales for 45 minutes.  Make sure that the tamales do not touch the water.  I placed a colander upside down in the bottom of my pot.

 8.  Unroll and EAT! (I made a little spicy sauce to go on top.)

 Yes, this recipe is a little time-consuming.  Trust me, you will be rewarded.  I am going to cook half and freeze the other half of the tamales.  This will make for a yummy dinner later on.

Eggplant Parmesan

We thought we would fill you in on some of our favorite recipes. We will try to post a new one every week.  Saturday night I made Amanda eggplant parmesan for the first time! We went to the farmers market that morning and we were able to pick up some fresh eggplant, homemade tomato basil bread, goat cheese feta, and fresh Russian garlic. Amanda had never had eggplant parmesan, so I knew I had to make it for her.

Tony’s Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants
  • all-purpose flour
  • italian breadcrumbs
  • 4-5 eggs
  • 2 jars pasta sauce (or homemade)
  • 1 – 8oz bag shredded italian cheese blend
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

I started off by slicing the eggplant in about 1/2 inch slices. Then I had three bowls set up where I had flour, salt, and pepper in the first bowl,  beaten eggs in the second, and italian bread crumbs in the third. I dredged the eggplant slices in the flour, then egg, then in the breadcrumbs and then fried them in the olive oil over medium-high heat. 

I use olive oil as it seems to be a little healthier than vegetable oil. I fried them on both sides as the oven was heating to 400 degrees. I got a 9×13 baking dish and layered the bottom with a small amount of pasta sauce. You can use whatever kind you like or homemade.  I will post my homemade pasta sauce recipe soon, but for this I used Gia Russa jarred sauce because it happened to be BOGO at Publix this week.

After the small amount of sauce, I put the eggplant down followed by a nice thick layer of sauce and the cheese. I used a 2% Italian blend, but you can use any kind you would like. The italian blends seem to taste better and we use the low-fat 2% because we are trying to eat healthier. I repeated those steps for 2-3 layers almost making a “lasagna” type dish.

Then you bake if for approximately 30 minutes or until the cheese gets a little golden brown.  Take it out of the oven and it’s ready to serve!

Needless to say, Amanda was IN LOVE with it! I also made a spread for the tomato basil bread with the goat cheese feta and roasted garlic that turned out phenomenal as well! What have you been cooking lately?