Culinary Glitter

Many of you visit this site often, checking out the latest posts for well-tested recipes, beautiful photographs, and insider tips on how to make the most of your kitchen time. It's not hard to be left with the impression that there's some kind of kitchen goddess behind what you find here. However, the truth falls a little closer to a kitchen addict who has no trouble trying and trying again when things go wrong, making tweaks to what might have been the brain bubble ideal in her head, and otherwise views a lot of what happens in the kitchen as an adventure, complete with oopsies and mishaps. And sometimes, even when I have one of those days, I can still manage to end up with something like this:

But before this serene, even blissful image came to be, there was more than a little mayhem in my kitchen. It began when I dropped a tin of cocoa powder onto the kitchen floor. It would have been best if the tin were stilled closed. Well, technically, it would have been best if I hadn't dropped it all, but I would have been grateful for the lid to still be on it. Unfortunately, I was not that lucky. Standing in the middle of my kitchen with a tin of cocoa that thankfully landed facing upward, I paused to weigh the situation:

  • PROS: The kitchen and I smelled amazing.
  • CONS: Cocoa powder is like glitter. It was everywhere.

My final verdict would be to avoid this situation, if possible. That said, I was still standing in the middle of my kitchen with a fine layer of cocoa dust covering every noticeable surface from about waist height down. Moreover, I was covered in the stuff and my dog, Cosmo, was on his way over to check out the fascinating noises emanating from the kitchen.

Fortunately, Cosmo was very good and just sat at the edge of the kitchen while I — in this order — cursed a little, expressed silent gratitude that I was wearing brown pants, and then carefully, in a manner that upset the cocoa dust I'd deposited all over as little as possible, cleaned the mess. That's not to say Cosmo wasn't interested in what was happening. He was very interested, but I'd caught him before he entered the kitchen with a firm "wait" and he promptly parked his butt on the floor while never taking his eyes off of me and what I was doing. After I'd cleaned the mess enough to be able to move around and not track cocoa powder throughout the house, I gave him a marshmallow as a reward. He walked around with it for about 15 minutes before eating it because marshmallows are just that magical to him. And, if you're wondering why I'd spoil him so, tell me in all honesty if you'd do any differently if you had these eyes asking:

Besides, he was a good dog and didn't even mock me. I'm not always so lucky with other audiences.

The rest of my kitchen adventure was far less curse-inducing and more drool-inducing. As these nutritional powerhouses baked, the aroma of chocolate, peanut butter, and slowly caramelizing fruit filled the air. I even was patient enough to let them mostly cool before fixing myself a cup of tea and trying a couple. I mean, I planned to have them on hand for after-school snacks with my youngster, but a good chef makes sure their creations are good before sending them on to others, right? Besides, I wanted to sit down with some tea and cookies, a good book, and enjoy the fact that my pants still smelled amazing.

Before I leave you to the recipe, I suppose I ought to at least say a few things about it. First, I know this is a cookie recipe, but it's a lot more like a granola bar than a traditional cookie. That said, kids (and adults) really love them. They are perfect snacks and a couple will absolutely stand in nicely if you're running late in the morning and are contemplating skipping breakfast. Also, I used raisin bran and raisins in this recipe, but you could use any lightly-crushed whole grain cereal and dried fruit of your choice. These two happen to be favorites of my daughter, so that's why they were my choice. And hey, how nice is it to relax a little in the afternoon with a cookie (or two) that is actually good for you? It's something to look forward to, whether or not you've had a trying day.

After-School Snack Cookies

  • 1 1/2 c. oatmeal
  • 1/2 c. lightly crushed raisin bran (or other whole grain cereal)
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 T. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 c. lightly-packed brown sugar
  • 2 T. creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. peeled, chopped apples
  • 1/2 c. raisins (or other dried fruit)

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Cover a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or spray lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.

Combine the oatmeal, cereal, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and brown sugar. In a cup, combine the peanut butter, milk, and vanilla extract. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones until a crumbly cookie dough forms. Add the apples and the dried fruit and thoroughly combine.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes before carefully removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Yields: 2 dozen
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

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