Chocolate graham crackers, because Jackson asked so nicely..

Last night before bed, Jackson affably asked for chocolate crackers and I knew exactly how to oblige. I’ve been sitting on this recipe for a while now and I’ve been making it a point to test new things. My phone has hundreds of pages of recipes saved, not all of which I’ve yet worked through. So we said tomorrow when the sun comes up, we’d make some chocolate crackers.

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These days I really like to keep things as simple as possible, so when a recipe can be almost completely prepared in the food processor or mixer, I’m a happy mommy. Simple preparation and simple ingredients are the foundation of my style of cooking and blogging has helped me to realize this.

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I’ve never been one to overcomplicate things in the kitchen and when I do, it usually ends up a disaster. I can’t think of an instance offhand when it was rendered completely inedible, but I know it’s happened. So in the compost it goes because my chickens don’t care for table scraps, with their highly refined palates.

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But little man loves to be in the kitchen and if you turn your back on him, you might end up with some celery seed in your cake batter. Today I just handed him the phone and let him snap pictures and we were able to avoid any cross-cuisine contamination. I cannot wait for the day when he understands and can be the extra hands in the kitchen. Mommy’s little sous chef.

Chocolate Graham Crackers
These crackers were a bit softer than you may be expecting when baked for 15 minutes. If you like a crisper cracker, increase baking time an extra 2-3 minutes.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1/4 cup honey
1/4-1/2 cup water
A little sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Add all dry ingredients to food processor and pulse to combine.
Add cold butter cubes and pulse until it resembles coarse meal.
Add the honey and 1/4 cup water and continue to pulse until it all combines. If dough is still too crumbly, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse until the dough comes together as one.
Remove and shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap with plastic. Chill 30 minutes to allow to rest and hydrate.
Roll dough out until 1/4 inch thick flouring work surface and top of dough as needed to avoid sticking. Use cookie cutters or a fluted pastry wheel to cut shapes and a fork to poke holes in the crackers.
Place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with extra sugar if using, then bake for 15 minutes.
Cool crackers and serve or store.
If you would like to freeze the crackers to be cooked later, after cutting them out and sprinkling them with sugar on a parchment lined baking sheet, place in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Fold them up, parchment and all and transfer to a ziplock bag. Store until ready to use, for up to 4 months. When ready to bake, unroll parchment on a baking sheet and add an additional 1-2 minutes baking time.

Adapted from weelicious

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Apple picking and dulce de leche. No skills required.

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So we live almost hollering distance from a golf course, which also happens to be the grounds Tucker keeps green, and they’ve got apple trees there that no one touches(!?). The trees line one of the fairways and there are some resident geese and a whole mess of deer that keep the area tidy and free of fallen fruit. The spot is maintained because of it’s location, but the trees are not subject to fertilization or spraying of any kind. Just what the geese leave behind. This is awesome news because they’re #1 on the dirty dozen 2014 and my kids double fist apples.

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Even my desserts are growing up…

I’ve been on a super hard nostalgic desserts kick this week. And it’s not just the sweets either. When I start to notice the retraction of daylight, coupled with the “unofficial end of summer” holiday and back-to-school time, I start to feel a little sentimental. Another year past, a few more premature gray hairs that I’ve long since given up trying to cover, packing away the tanks and pulling out the sweaters, loading up a box of the kids’ clothes for consignment. It’s all very bittersweet and I always find my self relishing in it. It makes my otherwise hermitic identity open up a bit and I want I reach out to old friends and reminisce about sneaking out to meet at the park to smoke cloves and share an olde English 40 oz (sorry dad!), listening to Art Laboe’s oldies on B95, break dancing and having a $2 fat slice and soda at fatty Albert’s pizza, Beno’s, slanging ice creams from a truck, the Mexican bakery van, recording videos onto a VHS when MTV really was about music, aqua net hairspray, teased bangs and burgundy lip liner. I’m talking back in the day! Right around 8th grade to be exact.

And now that I think about it, it’s coming up on twenty years since then. Man, the days are long, but the years are short. I quit Facebook 3 years ago, but if I hadn’t, I’d probably hit those girls up right now. Find out when we’re all gonna be in close proximity again and chill. I’m still going to do it, but at a 1995 technologically evolved pace. Like walking home from school and making mixtapes on a cassette. Man I miss those girls. If by some chance you’re reading ladies, hit me up! I’m thinking about you…

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So anyways, we’ve been talking about investing in a new DSLR so I can start taking some better pictures. But that’s going to require midnight photo shoots and proper lighting, too. It ain’t easy to stick a cake in front of a couple kids and tell them not to touch while I fiddle and fix. Hence the super close-ups, bad angles and crappy kitchen lighting. Because you can’t see the disaster behind everything when I’m at point blank range. But babe reminds me that it wouldn’t be a ramshackle cookery without it…

All grown up Krispy treats..
(With Special K, peach compound butter and Hawaiian sea salt)

I made this recipe just like I do most other recipes, with what I can find in the pantry. I like to dwindle down the stock once a month to make sure I’m utilizing and rotating everything, so many new creations are born of this habit. Just like building an outfit from a single piece of wear, I build edibles in the same fashion. Started with an almost full bag of marshmallows and went from there. I also had a roll of cinnamon peach compound butter from a bounty a couple weeks ago and an untouched box of Special K. I mean really, it was fate. Tucker assassinated it facially and exclaimed through a mouthful, “is that salt? I could eat this whole slab.” So I saved him the last of it. Don’t mistake my kindness though. I had a pie baking too…

1 10 oz bag of marshmallows
5 tbsp. cinnamon peach compound butter, recipe follows
5 cups Special K (because it’s rice cereal)
Finishing salt

Heat butter over low heat until melted and add marshmallows. Stir frequently until dissolved. Add cereal. Stir until combined.

Now from here, there’s no need to get fancy. Press it into a parchment lined or buttered 8 x 8 pan, or pull it apart in clumps and make balls, then make sure to sprinkle them lightly with some finishing salt. You could also put them on a stick if your averse to tacky fingers, or cut them out with a cookie cutter, I don’t care what you do with them, just make sure the next step is consumption.

Cinnamon peach compound butter

I lo💚e to make compound butters. Fat is flavor and I like to have that present when I eat. You’re probably all worried for me now thinking “but Jes, aren’t you at all concerned with your cholesterol levels?” And while I understand the concern, seeing as every one of my recipes so far has been something fatty and sugary, or even a bucket of sugar itself, I also eat vegetables by the pallet full. I just have yet to get one of those recipes in. But I will, all in good time. It’s easier to hold off on giving the kids sweets than it is dinner while I photograph it.

But this butter is soooo good. Put it on pancakes, put it on waffles, put it on scones, biscuits, toast, even put it on pork chops. Yup! Pork chops. That would be my first choice in fact..

1 stick softened butter
1/4 cup peach purée
2 Tbsp brown sugar
Couple shakes of cinnamon
Pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)

The easiest way to do this is in a mixer. Add all ingredients and beat well while scraping the bowl with a spatula a few times. Tear off about a foot of plastic wrap and lay flat on the counter. Place the mixed butter in the middle and shape into a log using the long edge of the plastic. Roll up and twist the ends forming it into a log about one and a half inch diameter. Refrigerate or freeze. To use, unwrap and slice desired amount.

This will keep a few weeks in the fridge, or about 2 months in the freezer. Maybe longer. Mine never make it that long.