October 22, 2013

Basic Butter Banana Cookies

I get a major kick out of serving cookies for breakfast (broccoli too, but that's a post for another day.) I think it's partly because I'm a mom who says, "no, thank you" when someone offers my kid ice cream or cheese puffs or cupcakes or a supposedly-edible neon worm. As Darwin gets a little older and starts finding his way into wider social circles, we find ourselves turning down more and more snack offerings.

I'm mostly OK playing food-goalie to keep us healthy. It's important! But at home, I like to balance out my refusals with complete indulgence. I like to say yes, and I like to say it with whole, nourishing ingredients like stone-ground whole wheat flour, sweet bananas, and luxurious butter.

I especially like to slip a couple of still-warm, golden cookies onto Darwin's morning plate, and then pretend to be shocked at my own judgment: "cookies for breakfast?!"


Enjoy them!

Basic Butter Banana Cookies 
30 minutes or less
makes 15 cookies

1 cup 100% whole wheat flour
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 egg, whisked
5 Tbls. butter, softened
1/4 cup raisins or chopped dates
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 375, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl, smash together the soft butter and bananas, then add vanilla, egg, raisins/dates, and nuts.

Gently incorporate the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until all the floury crumbles are gone. Be careful not to overmix.

Drop batter by spoonfuls onto parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet and bake 10-13 minutes, or until tops are just beginning to brown.

Cool and enjoy!

October 9, 2013

Grassfed Meatloaf with Roasted Tomato Topping

"Meatloaf?" Scott peered into the mixing bowl as I squashed and kneaded its contents.

It was clear that he thought I had taken a culinary wrong turn. How could that brown, ketchup-slathered, stale-crumb mountain of 1950s dinnertime infamy be, you know, good food? Food especially that I would make, with my reverence of real, whole, unprocessed foods?

I'm not sure where the spark of inspiration came from. Maybe I was seduced by the childhood memory of piling up the red, eggy loaf on a pan in my mom's kitchen. Maybe serving hundreds of plates of meatloaf to old men at the diner when I was sixteen inoculated me against the disdain people seem to have for this all-American dish.

Either way, I really wanted to make it. Of course, I wanted to make it a new way. An upgrade.

So here are my substitutions: grass-fed beef; 100% whole grain, home-toasted breadcrumbs; organic tomato sauce; and freshly roasted tomato topping. Earthy sage and oregano add depth, and a splash of balsamic vinegar barely hints at the tang you remember from this meatloaf's ketchupy cousins. And oh is it delicious.

This is meatloaf made whole and nourishing. This is meatloaf good enough for a dinner party.

"This is the best meatloaf I have every had," Scott said as we ate. "I feel like I could eat that whole loaf."

Great! (But don't do that! Then you won't have leftovers.) Enjoy it with your family!

Grassfed Meatloaf with Roasted Tomato Topping
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes
Serves 6

1 lb grassfed beef
1 fresh egg
2 slices 100% whole grain bread, like Ezekial brand
1/2 sweet onion, chopped small
1/2 cup tomato sauce (I used Muir Glen organic, which is BPA-free)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. dried sage
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 medium tomato, chopped

Preheat oven to 350, and rub a little olive oil into the sides and bottom of a standard-sized loaf pan.

Toast bread until it's nice and dry, and add the slices to a large mixing bowl. Use your fingers to grind and break it into crumbs, as finely as you can, within reason.

Add all other ingredients except fresh tomato to the mixing bowl (I give the egg a quick whisk right in the bowl). Season with salt and pepper, then use your hands to mix everything well.

Pack the mixture into the loaf pan. Flatten that puppy out (mountainous loaves just dry out at the edges).

Sprinkle the chopped tomato evenly across the top of the loaf.

Bake for just over an hour, using a kitchen thermometer to make sure the loaf is over 160 degrees in the middle. (One hour and ten minutes has been the sweet spot for me.)

Slice and enjoy! We love ours topped with sauteed garlicky mushrooms.