Goldfish Crackers


Before we get started, let me just say that, yes, I do know that most people just buy these at the store.  However.  I’ve yet to find the recipe that promised to help me make something either cheaper or healthier than I could buy it that I didn’t want to try.  Lest you think I’m some sort of kitchen wizard that makes every. single. thing. from scratch, let me assure you that I do not.  I’ll try anything once, but it has to be either exceedingly fantastic or exceedingly easy for me to make a habit of it.  These crackers are both.


I should perhaps also tell you that I don’t even like Goldfish crackers.  I’ve never cared for any of the cheese flavored snacks that most kids (and husbands) love.  I can’t stand cheez-its or cheetos either.  So why would I bother with these?  Because my child, like many, loves bread.

Wait, what?

Since we’ve been letting our nearly 9-month old join us for meals, she’s been a fairly adventurous eater.  She’ll try anything we give her, and she like the strangest things (for instance: I’ve never seen a baby put away a lemon slice before, but she appears to love them).  And she absolutely adores bread.  Loaf bread, pizza crusts, focaccia.  Plain, toasted, as a vehicle for smearing yogurt all over the table… If I don’t offer her any, she will usually happily pick her way through any number of fruits, veggies, or meats.  If I do put bread on the table, she will ignore everything else and eat only that.  Don’t get me wrong, I love bread myself, and I don’t mind if she does either, but it’s not exactly packed with nutrition.  I wanted to be able to offer her something that she likes, but in a self-limiting package so that she could get her fix, but then move on the to the more nutritious items.  As crackers are really just bread’s smaller, thinner, possibly more delicious cousin, I thought I could offer her one as a side for her veggies and see what happened.  It worked perfectly: she ate the wheat thin right away and then moved right on to the broccoli.

Which leads me to these Goldfish.  They’re small, apparently delicious, and adorable.  Imagine my surprise when I tasted them and found them to be, not only apparently, but actually, delicious.  And by making them myself I can limit the amount of salt, which is my main complaint with store-bought snacks.  They are definitely baby-approved, being the perfect size for tiny fingers to grasp while remaining just outside the bounds of the dreaded choking hazard (although, of course, you should always use caution with small babies and food).  And as I mentioned above, they are exceedingly easy to make.  The ingredient list is gratifyingly short (only 6 ingredients!), and I had these  mixed, cut out, baked, cooled, and ready for consumption in about 45 minutes.  Honestly, the part that took me the longest was “decorating” them, and you can totally skip that and save yourself an additional 15 minutes.

I got the recipe from (no surprise) Smitten Kitchen.  I’ll copy it below, since I did make a change to the type of flour, but I urge you to visit her post if you need any help, as she has several good tips.


Goldfish Crackers
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yields aproximately 100 1 1/4 inch goldfish

6 ounces (1 1/2 cups coarsely grated) sharp cheddar
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (37 grams) whole wheat flour
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon table salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, running the machine until the dough forms a ball, about two minutes.

If the dough feels warm or too soft, wrap it in waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes. This also makes it easier to transfer shapes once they are rolled out.

On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out 1/8-inch thick. Form shapes with a cookie cutter, dipping it in flour from time to time to ensure a clean cut. If you like, poke a hole for the eye (I used a toothpick), and use the edge of a spoon to make a little smile.  Gently transfer crackers to an ungreased cookie sheet with a 1/2 inch between them. Bake the crackers on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they are barely browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before removing to a rack.  Keeps at room temperature in an air-tight container for several days.

NOTES: Yes I did buy a special cookie cutter just for this.  Any shape will work, you don’t have to make them in the shape of fish. But they are super duper adorable, and who am I to resist when Amazon makes it so easy to procure such things?

Deb at Smitten Kitchen went full-on healthy by making these whole wheat.  I appreciate that it’s really good for you, but I don’t always love whole wheat cluttering up the flavor of my favorite snacks.  So I switched the amounts and made the larger amount AP flour, and the smaller whole wheat.  I couldn’t even tell it was there.



Bread: Sandwich Loaves


Aren’t those the prettiest loaves of bread you’ve ever seen? That may be a little dramatic, but for real, you guys. They are very pretty. Since I’ve changed my job title to Tiny Human Herder Stay-At-Home-Mom, I’m finding that I have both the need and the desire to make for myself some of the things that I was in the habit of buying.  I’ve made bread many times, but it’s only recently that I’ve gotten in the habit of doing it regularly.  We eat a lot of sandwiches around here, and toast, and I like to make croutons for salads, and we usually have a bit of bread with our dinner if we’re not having carb-heavy sides… see where I’m going with this?  I was spending quite a bit on bread at the store, especially since I preferred to buy the bakery loaves, which tend to cost a bit more than the stuff off the shelf.  And since I own no less than four cookbooks that are devoted entirely to the art of bread baking, and cookbooks are really just the physical manifestation of knowledge that you’ve purchased (and not cheaply) from an expert, my bill was really starting to get out of hand.

So I cracked open The Bread Baker’s Apprentice looking for a basic loaf bread recipe.  I wanted a loaf of mostly white bread, that had good flavor and chew, but didn’t require three days to rise and/or ferment.  The one I chose was appropriately entitled Basic White Bread.  There are several variations given for this recipe in the book, the first of which calls for powdered milk, which I never use and don’t keep.  The second variation called for either whole milk or buttermilk, so I went with that one.  I have been using this recipe for almost 5 months, making bread every 10-12 days, tweaking it as I went along trying to find the perfect loaf for us.  I wanted to add some whole wheat flour, as I like that it adds some extra nutritional value, but my husband does not care for the taste.  So I added just a bit here and there until I got to what I think is the exact right amount for us.  I’ll put that in my notes below if you care to try it, but I definitely recommend experimenting until you come up with your own perfect formula.  I’ve added some notes at the bottom of the recipe with my mix, as well as a few tips, so be sure to read it through before you begin.

Our bread is a bit more sturdy than typical store loaf bread, but still has a very light crumb and I think it has a much better flavor.  The little bit of whole wheat flour I add really gives it more depth without being too tough or “grainy”.  It’s perfect for sandwiches or toasting and since the recipe yields two loaves, it lasts my little family of two adults (and one pint-size person) for about a week and a half.  This is no quick bread.  There are several hours of rising here, but the hands on time is only about 30-40 minutes or so, and less if you are practiced.  Enjoy!


Basic White Bread,
from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
makes two loaves

4¼ cups (19 ounces) unbleached bread flour*
1½ teaspoons (.38 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons (.22 ounce) instant yeast
1 large (1.65 ounces) egg, slightly beaten, at room temperature
¼ cup (2 ounces) butter, room temp**
1½ cups (12 ounces) buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature


Mix together the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Pour in the egg, butter, and milk and mix with a large metal spoon (or on low speed of the electric mixer with the paddle attachment) until all the flour is absorbed and the dough forms a ball. If the dough seems very stiff and dry, trickle in more milk until the dough is soft and supple.

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook), adding more flour, if necessary, to create a dough that is soft, supple, and tacky but not sticky. Continue kneading (or mixing) for 6 to 8 minutes. (In the electric mixer, the dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick ever so slightly to the bottom.) The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 80° F. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Ferment at room temperature for 1½ to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size (the length of time will depend on the room temperature).

Remove the fermented dough from the bowl and divide it in half.  Shape the pieces into boules by gathering the dough into a rough ball.  Create surface tension by stretching the outside of the dough into an oblong shape, being careful not to squeeze out too much of the gas trapped in the dough.  Repeat this stretching motion, bringing  the opposite ends together to form a ball.  Pinch to seal the bottom.  Mist the dough lightly with spray oil and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rest for about 20 minutes.

Shape into loaves:  Begin by patting out the dough into a  rectangle about 5” wide and 6-8” long.  Working with the short side, begin rolling the dough, a little at a time, pinching the crease as you go.  Make sure to maintain the surface tension of the dough, as that helps in the rising.  Pinch the final seam close and do not taper the ends.

Lightly oil two 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pans and place the loaves in the pans.

Mist the tops of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Proof the dough at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until it nearly doubles in size.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

I like to score my loaves down the center with a very sharp knife and then spray with a bit of oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds, but that is optional.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating 180 degrees halfway through for even baking. The tops should be golden brown and the sides, when removed from the pan, should also be golden. The internal temperature of the loaves should be close to 190° F, and the loaves should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

When the loaves have finished baking, remove them immediately from the pans and cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving.

I do use the weight measurements given here for the flour.  I think it’s the best way to be consistent since everyone measures flour differently.  I don’t bother with the wet ingredients or the smaller amounts like the salt and yeast, but with the flour I do feel like it’s a good idea.  That being said, if you don’t have a scale, then go ahead and use your regular measuring cups and you’ll be fine, you just may need to add a bit more flour/water when you’re kneading to get to the right consistency.

*I use 16 oz white unbleached bread flour and 3 oz whole wheat flour, both King Arthur brand.
**I use melted butter.  I did that by mistake the first time and find that it mixes in easier than just room temp butter.
I’m a visual learner and really appreciated how Mr. Reinhart used plenty of photos in the book to show how to shape the loaves.  Here are the links to some YouTube videos with the shaping techniques used in this recipe:

Shaping into boules
Shaping into loaves



Homemade Granola Bars

Dear Internet. I’ve been avoiding you. #sorrynotsorry.

It’s been a bit of a crazy summer here, but I’ve been teasing my Facebook friends and Instagram followers for months with photos of the homemade granola bars that I make every couple of weeks or so, and it’s really not very nice of me to keep holding out.

The first time I made these, I had been running (marathon training… yikes) for several months and had started to increase my mileage enough so that I was constantly on the lookout for a snack.   Said snack needed to be able to stand in for a light breakfast, too, on occasion, so I wanted something healthy-ish and versatile.  I had printed this recipe from some long-forgotten website and it seemed as good as any of the endless stream of results that google will happily spit at you if you are silly enough to search for “homemade granola bar”.  Maybe you didn’t know, but granola, homemade stuff, and healthy snacks are, like, a trend or something.  So I would encourage you to not get overwhelmed with the 2,440,000 results on google if there is something in here that you’re opposed to.  Just switch it out for something you do like and call it improv.

There are a few little shortcut-like tidbits I’ve come up with (after having made a double batch of these bi-weekly since around May) at the end of the recipe – please read all the way through before jumping in.  Enjoy!

Fruit and Nut Granola Bars

1 2/3 cups quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup whole wheat flour*
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 15 ounces), the two mixes I use most often are below.**
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon water

Fruit and Nut Mix:

5-7 oz dried fruit, something similar to this mix.  Publix sells a store brand tropical mix that I like.

3-5 oz unsalted sunflower seeds

3-5 oz flax seeds

2-5 oz pepitas

Cranberry Orange Chocolate Chip Mix:

5-7 oz dried cranberries

3 oz unsalted sunflower seeds

3 oz pepitas/flax seeds

4 oz mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, peanut butter, liquid sweeteners and water. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly coated and sort of crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing the mixture in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan. (A piece of plastic wrap is useful here; just lay the plastic on top of your mix press it into the pan.)

Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until the edges are browned and the top is golden. Let cool on a baking rack until you can lift them out of the pan with your parchment paper, and then let them cool completely to room temp before cutting.  I slice them into the size that works for me as breakfast/post-run snack but feel free to customize that as well.

*If you do not have whole wheat flour, don’t fret.  Just use oat flour, which is an equal amount (1/3 cup) of oats that have been processed in a food processor until coarsely ground.  I think the texture is better when the grind is just shy of “fine”.  I’ve made these with the whole wheat flour and the oats, and both work fine.

**This is the tricky part:  put whatever you want in here.  I use my digital scale and just add the stuff I want until I get to 15 ounces, so it’s never the exact same twice.

I use this Earth Balance Spread that I found at Publix.  It tastes awesome and gives the best holding power in my experience, i.e. the bars stick together and hold their shape really well.  Otherwise peanut butter works well, as does almond butter.

I found that the Earth Balance Spread was harder to stir into my dry stuff.  I started adding the spread to my butter when I melt it in the microwave so that it melts and gets good and liquid-y and I can whisk all my wet things together really well and the stirring is much easier at the end.

April and May, in photos

I am so constantly amazed that you can take such lovely images with an iPhone!  I’ve got a beautiful bunch of peonies gracing my yard right now and it never ceases to make my day when I catch a glimpse of them.  I’ve been running around like a crazy person for the past few weeks – celebrating several Baby Showers, training for my first Half Marathon (four weeks away!), fundraising for the New York Marathon (yay Fred’s Team!), and getting into some serious yoga.

Here’s a little summary in photos of my past few weeks:

Baby Showers…

Planting herbs…


Fundraising for Fred’s Team…

Yoga!  I’m learning to handstand, among other things.



A New Hobby

You may have noticed that I’ve made myself scarce around here for the past few months.  Well, I got into a new hobby – and I mean big time.  It all started last summer when I finally decided to get serious about my health and weight loss goals.  I don’t know about you other ladies out there, but pretty much my entire life I’ve been trying to lose some amount of weight.  I wasn’t overweight by any means, but I also wasn’t overly fit, and I had gained a few pounds over the past couple of years.  So I buckled down and started a workout regimen, and more importantly for me, I started to keep track of my calories.  Now, I love to eat, y’all.  For reals.  I love to cook and try new things, and pretty much enjoy me some dessert and fried foods.  So it was a little bit of a struggle to get into the habit of limiting myself. Once I realized that I could still eat pretty much anything I wanted as long as I was careful with the portion sizes I got a lot better at it. And then I started to see results. I lost a pound. And another. And then 5, and then 10…

You guys. I lost 20 pounds. Twenty. No kidding. I still have a hard time believing that I did it, but I feel awesome.   And it’s not just knowing that I look better (because I know that I do. I tried on some jeans that didn’t even look good on me in high school and they were too big. I almost died.), it’s more just the fact that I did something that I set out to, and that I had never really been successful at in the past. I didn’t do anything really hard core – no crazy diets or P90X. I just cut back on my eating and added a 20 minute workout 4 times a week (I did Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred, which I definitely recommend if you have trouble finding extra time). Ultimately, I reached my goal weight, and I feel a thousand times better. I have more energy, I have a lot more confidence in not only the way I look, but also in myself in general. I overcame what was to me a huge obstacle and I have this great feeling that I can accomplish anything now.

But that’s only the beginning of the story. A very dear friend got herself a fitbit last year and told me how cool it was – and me being all into this new healthy lifestyle, I, of course, asked Santa to slip one into my stocking. He obliged, and I was loving being able to track my daily activity on a whole new level at about the same time I reached my weight loss goal. Once I hit the magic number on the scale I was a little lost about what I should do next. I had pretty much been doing the same workout for several months and I was looking for something new to pique my interest so I could maintain my healthier self.   My friend came to the rescue again when she invited me to run the New York Marathon with her later this year. Yep, that’s the for real New York Marathon. 26.2 miles of one of the largest, and most prestigious marathons in the world. Apparently I got a little carried away with the confidence thing because I was all “Sure! That sounds fun! I can totally manage that!” And the rest, as they say, is history.

I started with the Couch-to-5K app on Dec 31, 2013 and I haven’t looked back since. I wasn’t sure about it at first… But as I got better, I started to like it. Then I started to like it a lot. And now I really really love it. I ran my first 5K race in March, I’ve got my first Half-Marathon in June, another one in August, and then the big mac-daddy Marathon in Novemeber. I never thought I’d have the ability to run a single mile, much less 26.2 of them in a row, but this running thing has really taken hold of me. I’m starting to see my body get stronger and more efficient, and I really look forward to my time on the trails/track/road.

All of this fun I’ve been having has taken a bit of toll on my free time, however, and that’s why you haven’t seen much of me lately. With my work schedule, I just have time to get my run in before grabbing a bite to eat and then heading off to work. On the weekends I relax with my husband and the dog, do some cooking, etc. As I’ve settled into a routine with the running, I’ve started to find more time here and there, and I’d really like to share with you more often again. I’ve got some great recipes I’ve been saving, and some little projects too, and hopefully you’ll enjoying hearing about them as much as I’ll enjoy sharing. In the meantime, I hope you’re all getting to enjoy some beautiful springtime weather, and that 2014 has been as wonderful for you all as it has been for me so far.

PS:  I’ve been neglecting my photography lately, but I recently started going through the giant pile of photos I took over our winter trip to visit family in Oklahoma;  Oh my goodness, you guys.  I got some really great shots that I can’t wait to share!  Cheers!

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble with Basil

So I made mention of this recipe a few weeks ago via facebook and instagram, but am only now getting around to sharing it with the rest of you. I will be getting into some details about what exactly is keeping me so busy lately in the next few days, but for now you’ll just have to settle for this. And when I say settle, I mean you should be prepared to drool a little over it. Unless you hate springtime, and strawberries, and rhubarb, and other such lovely things. Which would be weird, you know, since Spring is the best. But I digress.

I usually love nothing more than a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, but I went the crumble route this time for a bit of a change. Ahem. Ok, that’s not really true. I needed a breakfast that I could eat on all week and I thought crumble sounded better than pie. Crumbles have oatmeal toppings and stuff, and oats are definitely healthy and breakfast-esque. Call it whatever you want, but I’m just gonna call it delicious and let you decide which meal you want to add it to.


Oh! You may have noticed that I added basil to it. Well, that’s an interesting story, actually. See I had just poured all these beautiful strawberries into my baking dish and I noticed a piece of a strawberry leaf stuck to one of them. In typical Emily fashion (easily distracted) I thought “Hey, that’s pretty. I wonder if I have any herbs to throw in here…” Turns out that the only herb I had was basil, and I kind of thought that might not be too bad. And it was actually awesome.   The bright basil flavor perfectly balanced out the sweet strawberries/tart rhubarb, and I felt like a total genius. So go out and try something new. It might be awesome. Also, try this, because I can guarantee that it is.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble with Basil*

Serves 6-8


1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Demerara sugar (coarse sugar)
Zest of one lemon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 ½ cups rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 ½ pints strawberries
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ cup fresh basil, roughly chopped


Preheat oven to 375°F.

Topping: In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugars and lemon zest and add the melted butter. Mix until small and large clumps form. Refrigerate until needed.

Filling: Toss rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, basil, and a pinch of salt in a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.

Remove topping from refrigerator and use your fingers to break it apart over the fruit.  This part doesn’t have to be pretty – just crumble it over top and it will spread out as it bakes.   Place baking dish on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake until crumble topping is golden brown in places and fruit is bubbly, 40 to 50 minutes.

*I usually like to be very clear where I’ve gotten my recipes from, but in this case, I have no idea from whence it came.  I had this recipe saved on my hard drive simply as Fruit Crumble and I haven’t the slightest whom to credit it to.  If it looks familiar (like I may have plagiarised it from you) do drop me a line and I’ll be sure to give credit and link back.

Sometimes you just need a brownie…

I tend to hear people say they need a brownie/drink/massage when they’ve have a rough day – and there’s definitely something to be said for indulging in a favorite treat when you’re feeling down.  But today has been pretty good, and I made a pan of brownies to celebrate.  It’s my Friday today, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, I found a lovely little bloom on my peach tree, and why not add some chocolate to make it just that much better?

Cranberry Pepper Jelly

Do you all love cranberries as much as I do?  They’re sweet and tart and oh-so-versatile and really pretty little things, too.  We always had cranberry sauce (from the can.  Best. Stuff. Ever.) at our holiday get togethers, and I’d be lying if I told you that I only ever had one helping.  This year for Thanksgiving I tried a homemade “canned” cranberry sauce recipe that turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself, and I plan to share that with you in just a few days, but right now I’m kind of obsessed with this stuff: Cranberry Pepper Jelly.  It was the simplest jelly to make – I spent about 45 minutes on it yesterday – and even though the ingredient list is (perhaps oddly) lacking in spices, flavor-imparting liquors, or other such things, it still manages to pack a knockout punch of tart-sweet-hot that will blow your mind.

I found this on the Bon Appetit Thanksgiving App (aside:  At first I was like, Really, Bon Appetit?  Do we really need an app for that?  Turns out: Yes.  Yes, we do.  It’s a wonderfully concise collection of holiday recipes that runs the gamut from traditional favorites to modern twists, and my OCD mind loves their genius organizational scheme.) in the Southern Menu section.  Folks down here love to serve pepper jelly over cream cheese as an appetizer and I see no reason to fix what ain’t broke.  My guests for Christmas Dinner will be arriving in the afternoon a few hours before the meal is set to begin, and my ancestors would no doubt do some of that much threatened “Rolling Over in Their Graves” if I didn’t have something for my partygoers to nibble on in the meantime.   Another plus for this one is that it doesn’t require any canning.  I put mine in a wide mouth pint jar for easy dipping, and according to the recipe it will keep for 3 weeks or so in the fridge.  But, really, good luck with that.

Cranberry Pepper Jelly

Adapted from Bon Appetit

I couldn’t find red jalapeños in my neck of the woods, so I bought “Red Chiles”.  Which, in my experience, could range in flavor from bell-pepper-mild to habanero-hot.  Mine were on the hot side, which is what I was going for to balance out all the sweet-tart from the cranberries, but I think this would be an excellent area in which to experiment if you were so inclined.  Although I would recommend sticking with peppers on the red side of the spectrum so as not to muddy up the lovely color of the jelly.  I’ll be serving this over whipped cream cheese with some sort of very elegant cracker (ahem. Triscuits anyone?).

3 red bell peppers, finely chopped

2 Fresno or red jalapeño chiles, seeded and finely chopped

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup liquid pectin

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen and thawed

Combine peppers, chiles, sugar, red pepper flakes and salt in a heavy wide pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Stir in pectin and lemon juice. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Stir in cranberries and simmer gently until they burst and juices thicken, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer jelly to a jar, let cool, and cover. Will keep for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.  Makes about 1.5 pints.