Kids in the Kitchen: Snickerdoodles!

The recent blast of cooler weather here in Baton Rouge (it dipped below 60° today!) has us wanting to snuggle up with our loved ones and a yummy snack! Cinnamon always seems to pair nicely with chilly temps, so we are busting out one of our favorite cookie recipes: Snickerdoodles!

Whipping up this classic recipe is a great way to spend an afternoon with the kids, especially when they might be going a little stir crazy from being cooped up inside during the winter months. It’s never too early to start cultivating a love of cooking, and children love to feel helpful. Even the littlest members of your family can get involved – starting from the time your baby is able to sit up on his own, you can help him “help” you scoop ingredients and pour them into the mixing bowl. Toddlers are naturally curious and will enjoy tasting each individual ingredient, and older children will proudly help you stir the batter. Don’t worry about a little mess, it’s all part of the fun!

Through the Junior League of Baton Rouge’s Kids in the Kitchen community project, we help children of all ages in our community learn the joy of cooking. Junior League members purchase and transport ingredients to various volunteer locations, where we then demonstrate and work with youth to prepare meals and snacks.  During the activities, volunteers will encourage conversation about the benefits of healthy eating. So far our Kids in the Kitchen program has impacted between 350 and 550 children in the Greater Baton Rouge area!

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Snickerdoodles, River Road Recipes I, page 200

  • 1 cup soft shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups sifted flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Preheat oven to 400º. Mix shortening, sugar, and eggs together thoroughly. Sift flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt together and add to above mixture.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Chill dough. Roll into balls the size of small walnuts. Roll the dough balls into a mixture of 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Place about two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned but still soft. (These cookies puff up at first then flatten out with crinkled tops.) Makes about five dozen 2-inch cookies.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler!

So long New Year’s resolutions — carnival season is here, and that means king cake! From the French-style king cakes at Strand’s Cafe, to the traditional, cream-cheese, fruit-filled,  or Zulu confections at Ambrosia Bakery and Gambino’s, to the maple bacon king cake at Tiger Deaux-nuts, the variations are infinite. And the fun (cough, calories) don’t stop there – don’t forget the king cake balls at Cupcake Allie, the king cake milkshake at Fat Cow, and even king cake fries from Freetown Fries!

Some New Orleans favorites: McKenzie’s, Party Palace, Croissant D’Or, Cake Cafe, Haydel’s and Dong Phuong Bakery. Picture courtesy of The Scout Guide New Orleans.

Some New Orleans favorites: McKenzie’s, Party Palace, Croissant D’Or, Cake Cafe, Haydel’s and Dong Phuong Bakery. Photo courtesy of The Scout Guide New Orleans.

So many amazing options with so little time before Lent is upon us. Luckily for you, there is a way to get your fix: host a king cake tasting party! This fantastic idea was originally featured by The Scout Guide New Orleans in January 2015, and they recently featured this idea again, with staging by  New Orleans caterer Patti Constantin. It’s the perfect way to sample all of the City’s best king cakes and Mardi Gras inspired treats while enjoying time with friends.

Photo courtesy of The Scout Guide New Orleans.

Photo courtesy of The Scout Guide New Orleans.

First, the menu. Have friends bring their favorite local king cake (or king cake inspired treat) to share with everyone. Can’t pick a favorite? Here’s our cheat sheets from 225  Magazine and Baton Rouge Mom’s Blog:

For beverages, serve our Café au Lait Punch from River Road Recipes IV, page 17, along with wine, beer, sodas, and water.

Cafe au lait Punch, RRR IV

Photo courtesy of The Scout Guide New Orleans.

Photo courtesy of The Scout Guide New Orleans.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dark roast coffee or coffee extract, at room temperature
  • 1 liter ginger ale, at room temperature
  • 1 liter club soda, at room temperature
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream

Combine the sugar, coffee, ginger ale, club soda, and half-and-half in a large punch bowl and mix well. Fold in the ice cream and ladle into punch bowls.

Makes 12 to 14 (2-cup) servings.

Second, decorate! Go big with Mardi Gras beads and plenty of purple, green, and gold accessories, or keep it simple with an elegant bouquet of purple Irises or other flowers as a centerpiece. Break out the silver and crystal to have a party fit for royalty, or keep it casual with purple and green paper plates. Either way, you’re bound to pass a good time!

A beautiful King Cake tasting by Patti Constantin. Photo courtesy of The Scout Guide New Orleans.

A beautiful King Cake tasting by Patti Constantin. Photo courtesy of The Scout Guide New Orleans.

Special thanks to The Scout Guide New Orleans for the photos and the fantastic idea!

Happy Valentine’s Day

Pink and red, roses and chocolate – love is in the air! It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and the ladies of the River Road Recipes committee want to show our love for you by helping you plan the perfect Valentine’s Day party for the littlest loves in your life! While our thoughts typically turn to our significant others on Valentine’s Day, Valentine’s Day is a fun holiday for children, too! Pair our snack ideas with fun activities for the kids, like making “mailboxes” out of shoe boxes to receive home-made Valentine’s Day cards from friends or making heart-shaped crayons. Check out some fun craft ideas here!

Sparkling Cranberry Punch

This non-alcoholic punch is the perfect beverage for a kid-friendly Valentine’s Day party. The ginger ale adds a little sparkle, and the cranberries lend a festive hue for the occasion.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Ingredients

  • 1 large can jellied cranberry sauce
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups ginger ale
  • Clove-studded lemon slices

Directions

Crush cranberry sauce in can with fork and empty into saucepan. Beat with rotary beater. Add water and beat until sauce is melted. Add sugar and cool. Stir in lemon juice, extract, and 1 cup ginger ale. Just before serving, dilute with remaining 1/2 ginger ale and serve well iced in frosted glasses. Garnish with mint and clove-studded lemon circles. Serves 12 punch cups.

River Road Recipes I, p. 11

CHOCOLATE FUDGE TURTLES

Instead of store-bought candy, try our Chocolate Fudge Turtles from River Road Recipes I! Everyone is guaranteed to enjoy these delectable desserts, and they are made with the most important ingredient of all: love! You can find our easy, step-by-step recipe here!

Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Party Mix

To round out the sweetness, add some salt to your Valentine’s Day party snacks with this simple Party Mix. It’s a perennial favorite for children of all ages. Recipe here!

Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at River Road Recipes!

Cheese Straws

Cheese straws are a perpetual crowd favorite at parties. The sharp cheddar cheese with the hint of red pepper make them an irresistible, savory snack for any event! They also make great gifts when placed in a decorative bag or tin. While the recipe calls for you to roll the dough thin and cut it into narrow strips, you can also place the dough in a cookie press to give them a decorative shape before baking.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 2/3 cups sifted flour
  • Dash red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Mix ingredients together well. Roll thin and cut in narrow strips. Bake in slow oven, 275°, until light brown. Makes about 4 dozen.

River Road Recipes I, p. 223

Pecan Pie

Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the occasional treat! Pecan pie for dessert is a Southern staple, and you simply cannot beat a warm slice of pecan pie on a chilly night. And for those not-so-chilly winter nights that we are oh-so-familiar with in the Deep South, a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side puts this favorite over the top!

Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 unbaked pie crust

Directions

Cream butter and sugar. Add remaining ingredients and pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes and lower to 350° and cook for approximately one hour.

River Road Recipes I, p. 205

Member Spotlight: Let Food Be Your Medicine with Betsy Buchert

Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” Buchert operates her practice, Mint Health, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as both a conventional OB-GYN and a functional wellness practice. (Functional medicine is based on evidence that factors such as nutrition, sleep, exercise, stress levels, relationships and genetics are major contributors to disease.) She and her husband also have four young boys. In Betsy’s (limited!) spare time, she volunteers on the River Road Recipes Committee of the Junior League of Baton Rouge. 

Betsy with her husband and four boys.

Betsy with her husband and four boys.

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, told us this during his times, which was from 460-370 B.C.

“The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

This comes from Thomas Edison, who lived from 1847 – 1931.

Well we know these two men are super smart, for sure, but unfortunately this is not how most of us approach our health at all, and it is definitely not how we approach our medical care!

I have to say, I LOVE food just as much as every other good Southerner.  I love eating most of all, but I also love cooking (preferably easy) nutritious, health promoting foods for myself, my family, and my friends.  I love the endless “I can’t believe how good this is” remarks I get when people eat at my house.  The secret is not that I am an amazing cook, but rather that I know the importance and amazingness of whole, fresh, local food,  AND I know the importance of avoiding processed, packaged foods – well, at least most of the time!  There is a reason all the new trendy restaurants are Farm-To-Table!

One of the talents I’ve become adept at in the kitchen (since I’ve learned Functional Medicine and definitely practice what I preach) is how to make substitutions, so we can keep eating the yummy foods we love, but in ways that are health promoting rather than health deteriorating.  So we can “youthen” rather than “age” – ugh! Who wants to age ungracefully?

Finding Healthier Alternatives

One area that can be tricky is having creamy dressings and party dips or spreads, so I was excited to find these two recipes in my copy of River Road Recipes I. The “Egg Salad Dressing” on page 23 of RRRI is fast, easy, creamy, delicious, and so good for you (versus the bottles of things you may buy in the store with unpronounceable, suspicious ingredients).  I made sure to use fresh, local, free range eggs, extra virgin olive oil (instead of “salad oil”), and the juice and grated rind from one fresh organic lemon rather than the prepackaged stuff  (and it is Meyer Lemon season right now – an extra plus!).  We ate this dressing mixed with a bunch of fresh assorted greens, like swiss chard and baby kale (it’s greens season, too!), the chopped whites of the eggs, some olives, and fresh brightly colored bell peppers.

The “Olive Egg Spread” on page 70 of RRR1 is also another good find, although I prefer to call it simply “Creamy Olive Dip.”  It’s a little spicy, very flavorful, creamy, and can be made filled with good-for-you ingredients.  We all ate it for dinner one night spread on a crunchy nutty toast (https://www.mynewroots.org/site/2013/02/the-life-changing-loaf-of-bread/), and my husband couldn’t help himself from polishing off the rest of the bowl with a spoon.  In this recipe, again I made sure to use fresh, local, free range eggs (the nutrient content is completely different from standard store bought eggs).  I also used raw organic apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar, ghee instead of butter, Dijon mustard instead of Durkees, and Kalamata black olives.   And the parsley and green onions come from local farmers (I order from indieplate.com at least once a week to keep a flowing supply of produce, eggs, and meats from our local farmers).  What a great spread of health promoting foods!

Betsy's Creamy Olive Dip served with Nutty Toast.

Betsy’s Creamy Olive Dip served with Nutty Toast.

Helping Others Find Lasting Health

Why am I so passionate about eating, serving, and teaching about the value of food as medicine and proactive health for life?  Not only am I an OB/GYN (and see all the time how not-their-best people feel and too many pregnancy complications), I am also a Functional Medicine doctor, and started my practice “Mint Health” at Woman’s Hospital to be able to offer women a better approach to lasting health.  Most people in our area of the South don’t know yet what Functional Medicine is all about (although it is all the rage in more progressive areas of the country!).  I’ll just say that the most fun I have as a doctor is helping people get to the bottom of metabolic issues, digestive issues, fatigue, hormone issues, headaches, amongst other common health concerns, to work on becoming HEALTHIER, rather than just trying to figure out what prescription is best to cover up a bothersome symptom.  Many people also come to us at Mint Health to learn how to proactively support their own health and their children’s health, knowing that without learning and being progressive, they will at some point (probably sooner than later) end up not feeling so great, just like the average American.  Health starts in the womb and goes until the ripest of age!

If you are interested in learning more, I regularly give seminars to help people understand what Functional Medicine is and how you can change your health outlook and your family’s health:  see http://myminthealth.com/events/ to register – the next one is October 25th and it’s almost full!  I also share lots of fun information on personal and family health at https://www.facebook.com/MintHealth/. We’ll see you there!

Betsy’s Creamy Olive Dip

Adapted from the Olive Egg Spread recipe, River Road Recipes I, p. 70

Betsy's recommended substitutions for RRR I's Olive Egg Spread.

Betsy’s recommended substitutions for RRR I’s Olive Egg Spread.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole egg
  • 5 egg yolks
  • A little less than 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Large bottle of Kalmata olives
  • 4-6 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 4 green onions (tops only)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Fresh is best! Betsy recommends using fresh, local, and organic ingredients as often as possible.

Fresh is best! Betsy recommends using fresh, local, and organic ingredients as often as possible.

Directions

  1. Chop the olives, green onion tops, and parsley. Beat the eggs thoroughly.

picture-1

picture-9

2. Heat Apple Cider Vinegar to boiling point, adding 1 teaspoon of water before heating to cut the vinegar.

3. Pour boiling vinegar into eggs, beating constantly.

picture-8

4. Place egg and vinegar mixture in sauce pan over heat and stir until it thickens.

5. Remove from the heat and add the ghee, then add the Dijon mustard, chopped Kalmata olives, green onions, chopped parsley, salt, and Tabasco.

picture-3

6. Enjoy over mixed greens with a side of Nutty Toast!

picture-6

Pecan Pie Muffins

Nothing says “Welcome to the South” better than a delicious pecan dessert.  Pecan pie muffins, found in River Road Recipes IV: Warm Welcomes, page 100, are a unique variation to the typical assortment of muffins.  With the many celebrations of fall and winter quickly approaching these tasty muffins will be a southern addition to your holiday celebrations or just perfect to enjoy with a cup of café au lait on a cool fall morning.  Be sure to stop by the River Road Recipes tent at Alexander’s Market on Sunday, October 2 to sample a pecan pie muffin and purchase your own River Road Recipes cookbook to add this and other fabulous recipes to your own collection.

Photo by Kimberly Brewster.

Photo by Kimberly Brewster.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 to 25 minutes

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Servings: 2 to 2 and 1/2 dozen

KITCHEN TOOLS:

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Electric mixer (optional)
  • Cookie sheet

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Mix the brown sugar, pecans, and flour in a bowl.
  2. Whisk the butter and eggs in a separate bowl until blended.
  3. Pour the butter mixture into the brown sugar mixture and stir just until moistened.
  4. Fill greased or paper-lined muffins cups 2/3 full.
  5. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or less.  Serve warm.

 

Lemon Drop Cookies

This delicious, lemony dessert is found in River Road Recipes I on page 195. You can find lemon drops on the candy aisle of your grocery store or even at the gas station.

lemon-drop-cookies-1

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Level of Difficulty: Medium

Servings: 3 dozen cookies

KITCHEN TOOLS:

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Electric mixer (optional)
  • Food processor
  • Mortar and pestle (optional)
  • Sifter
  • Cookie sheet

INGREDIENTS:

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

  • 1/2 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed lemon drops

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Gather kitchen tools and ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease cookie sheet. Using a food processor, process the lemon drops as much as possible. Use a mortar and pestle to grind the processed lemon drops further if necessary. Sift the flour.
Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Sifting the flour allows you to use less flour overall and makes for a lighter, fluffier cookie! Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Sifting the flour allows you to use less flour overall and makes for a lighter, fluffier cookie! Photo by Lauren De Witt.

2. Cream (mix) butter and sugar together using an electric mixer or by hand.

3. Add egg and lemon juice.

4. In a separate bowl, mix together the sifted flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon drops.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

5. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and mix together.

6. Drop by 1/2 teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet.

7. Bake about 10 minutes, until sides begin to brown.

8. Cool slightly and remove from pan.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Party Mix

This easy snack is found in River Road Recipes I on page 227. You can make this ahead of time and store in an airtight container – it will keep indefinitely! It also makes a great and easy gift for new neighbors, teachers, or any kind of little “thank you.” Just pour some of the party mix into a clear bag, tie off with a ribbon, and you are good to go!

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1.5 hours

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Servings: 20

KITCHEN TOOLS:

  • Measuring  spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Large roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet
  • Aluminum foil (optional)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 package Cheerios
  • 2 packages Rice Chex
  • 1 box “Slim Jim” stick pretzels
  • 3/4 pound butter (3 sticks)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Any kind of salted nuts (such as peanuts) (approximately 3 cups)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Gather kitchen tools and ingredients. Preheat oven to  250°. Break the pretzels in half. Using the microwave, melt the butter in a mixing bowl. Watch the butter carefully in the microwave as it can pop and make a mess!
  2. Pour the Cheerios and Rice Chex into a large roaster pan or rimmed cookie sheet and add the broken pretzels. Sprinkle with salt and garlic salt.
  3. Add the red pepper and Worcestershire sauce to the melted butter and mix.
  4. Pour the butter, red pepper, and Worcestershire sauce mixture over the cereals and pretzels.
  5. Cover the roasting pan (or use aluminum foil to cover if using a rimmed cookie sheet or if you do not have a lid) and bake at 250° for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 30 minutes longer.
  6. Mix in any kind of salted nuts.
  7. Cool and store in an airtight container until ready to serve!
Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Fool's Toffee

Fool’s Toffee

This foolishly easy treat is found in River Road Recipes IV: Warm Welcomes on page 235. Check out our original post here!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes, plus at least 30 minutes refrigeration time

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Servings: 8 to 12

KITCHEN TOOLS:

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • 10×17 inch baking pan
  • Aluminum foil
  • Saucepan
  • Food processor or chopping knife and cutting board
  • Butter knife or metal cake spatula

INGREDIENTS:

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

  • 36 to 40 saltine crackers (1 sleeve)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Gather your kitchen tools and prepare your ingredients. Preheat your oven to 350°. Using a food processor or a chopping knife and cutting board, roughly chop 1/2 to 1 cup of pecans and set aside.
  2. Line a 10×17-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and coat the foil with butter. Arrange the crackers in a single layer with sides touching in the prepared pan.
Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

3. Combine 1 cup butter and brown sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 4 minutes, stirring constantly.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

4. Pour the butter mixture over the crackers. Using a wooden spoon, spread the mixture evenly over the crackers.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

5. Bake at 350° for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and let stand for 2 minutes or until the chocolate chips soften. Spread the chocolate evenly over the prepared layers using a butter knife or metal cake spatula.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

6. Sprinkle with the pecans and press lightly. Chill for 30 minutes or until set. Break into pieces and store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Fool's Toffee

Photo by Aimee Broussard.