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  • Easiest Crumble Topping

    Easiest Crumble Topping - Chief Family Officer

    I started making crumble topping because my favorite sweet potato casserole (which I’ve made every year for Thanksgiving for over a decade!) has a streuseled topping. Since then, I’ve tended to keep extra topping in the freezer, because it makes for super easy fruit crisps and crunchy cakes and cupcakes. In fact, any time I make a recipe that calls for some kind of crispy topping, I usually ignore that part of the recipe and head for my freezer instead.

    I’m not a fan of flour in my topping because I feel like it doesn’t cook properly and tastes like raw flour – yuck! Instead, I use oats, and I’ve found that the quick cooking kind is even better than regular rolled oats. I’ve also never been very good at cutting butter into pastry, so I use my food processor instead. We have a nut-free house because of allergies, but I think walnuts or pecans would be a really nice substitute for some of the oats.

    Easiest Crumble Topping

    1 heaping cup quick cooking oats
    1/2 cup sucanat
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), cut into small pieces

    1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the oats, sucanat and brown sugar. Pulse a few times until ingredients are well-mixed.

    2. Scatter the butter over the oat-sugar mixture and pulse several times until the butter is incorporated and the mixture clumps together. Keep cold in the fridge or freezer until ready to use.

    Crumble Before Butter Added - chieffamilyofficer.com
    the dry ingredients in the food processor

    Easiest Crumble Topping Ever - chieffamilyofficer.com
    the finished crumble

    Easiest Crumble Topping on Cake - chieffamilyofficer.com
    the crumble topping on an apple cake

    Recipe: My New Favorite, Real Food Granola

    Real Food Granola | ChiefFamilyOfficer.com

    Ever since reading and reviewing Lisa Leake’s 100 Days of Real Food last year, I’ve been making granola. It’s primarily oats, and oats are a minimally processed food so they fit the “real food” bill. Instead of brown sugar, I’ve switched to unrefined sugar in the form of honey or maple syrup. We’re a nut- and seed-free family due to food allergies, but I think some pumpkin seeds or sliced almonds would be divine (just swap out a cup of rolled oats for a cup of whatever you choose).

    Real Food Granola
    makes approximately 8 cups

    1/4 cup butter (or 2 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons coconut oil)
    1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
    1 1/2 cups water
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    4 cups rolled oats (or one 1-lb package)
    2 cups quick oats (I always have these on hand through Subscribe & Save)
    1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (I like the Trader Joe’s canister, because salt is the only ingredient – no anti-clumping agents)
    1 cup responsibly sourced mini chocolate chips (I get mine at Whole Foods)
    1 cup chopped dried cranberries or other fruit of your choice
    1 cup roasted dried coconut chips, optional

    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, with an inch or two of overhang on the sides.

    2. In a large mixing bowl, combine rolled oats, quick oats, and salt. In a 2-cup microwave-safe measuring cup, combine the butter and honey or maple syrup. Microwave on medium-high for one minute, or until the butter is melted. Add water until you have 2 cups of liquid. Stir in the vanilla and mix until all liquids are thoroughly combined. Pour the liquid mixture over the oat mixture and stir until the oats are thoroughly covered and have absorbed all of the liquid.

    3. Pour the oat mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, and spread the mixture into an even layer. Bake for approximately two hours, stirring every half hour, until all oats are golden brown. (Burnt granola is bitter and awful, so if you’re not completely confident in your monitoring ability, reduce the heat to 275 and bake for three to four hours. If you forget to stir the granola every half hour, it shouldn’t burn as long as you don’t leave it too long!)

    4. Once all of the oats are a beautiful golden brown, remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the oats cool completely. Transfer the cooled oats to a large mixing bowl (you should be able to pull the sides of the parchment paper together to lift the oats and slide them into the bowl). Add the chocolate chips, dried fruit, and dried coconut if using. Stir to thoroughly distribute the mix-ins. (Depending on how large your pan is, you may be able to do your mixing right on the parchment, and save yourself from having to wash another bowl.) Store the granola in an airtight container. Serve with yogurt for a delicious and easy breakfast!

    My Favorite Brownie Recipe

    Brownies

    This brownie recipe has become my favorite brownie of all time because it’s easy to make and has the most incredible texture. I bake it in my toaster oven, and the top becomes a thin, crunchy layer that gives way to chewy brownie underneath. Best of all, there’s healthier ingredients like whole wheat flour and sucanat, but still, it’s a brownie so you can’t go overboard. The only thing I don’t recommend this brownie for is bake sales, since you’re only using an 11×7 pan so the yield is fairly small … which is a good thing if you’re going for portion control, LOL!

    CFO’s Favorite Brownie
    adapted from Spoonful.com

    4 tablespoons butter
    2 ounces (about 2 tablespoons) responsibly sourced semi-sweet chocolate chips*
    1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
    1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
    1/3 cup fair trade Dutch-process cocoa powder*
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
    2 large eggs
    1/2 cup sucanat
    1/2 cup organic sugar
    1 tablespoon canola oil
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 11×7 baking pan with nonstick baking spray.

    2. Combine the butter and chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, or until the butter and chocolate have melted enough that you can stir them into a smooth liquid.

    3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.

    4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, sucanat and sugar until thickened, about five minutes. Mix in the chocolate mixture, oil, and vanilla and beat until well-combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined, scraping the sides of the bowl once to make sure everything is mixed well.

    5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.

    **The chocolate doesn’t have to be responsibly sourced, but read this Baby Toolkit post to find out why it should be. I was very happy to find bags of responsibly-sourced chocolate chips at Costco!

    Recipe: My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

    The first time I made the chocolate cookie recipe in Thomas Keller’s cookbook Ad Hoc at Home, I followed it exactly. It was good, and surprisingly easy. But not easy enough. I’ve since adapted the recipe to make it even easier (no chopping chocolate), but my favorite tip is to mix up multiple batches of the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and salt) and store then in sandwich-size baggies in my cabinet. With that done, I can be eating a warm chocolate chip cookie approximately 45 minutes from start to finish!

    Chief Family Officer’s Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
    Adapted from Ad Hoc at Home
    Chocolate Chip Cookies from Chief Family Officer

    1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    1 cup white whole wheat flour
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    2 cups responsibly-sourced chocolate chips
    2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    1 cup packed dark brown sugar (or 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup sucanat)
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    2 large eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1. Position the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

    2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir with a whisk or fork until well-mixed. Set aside.

    3. In a large mixing bowl, beat one stick of butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the other stick of butter and both sugars. Beat on medium speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla. Mix until the vanilla is incorporated.

    4. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the chocolate chips and mix just until the chips are distributed.

    5. Form dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and place 12 balls on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until tops are no longer shiny.

    Note: I like to refrigerate the dough until thoroughly chilled, then form the dough into balls. I put the dough balls on a lined baking sheet and freeze until hard, then transfer the balls to a zip-top freezer bag. Although Ad Hoc says to thaw the dough in the fridge before baking, I bake the frozen dough 360 degrees (my oven knob is between 350 and 375 degrees). The cookies are beautifully puffy, and crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Baked cookies freeze well too!

    Recipe: Overnight Caramel French Toast

    The wonderful thing about this decadent breakfast is that you can get everything ready the night before, and then just bake it the next morning. Add a little powdered sugar, some breakfast sausage, fruit, juice and coffee, and you have a guest-worthy feast.

    Overnight Caramel French Toast
    Adapted from this Food Network recipe

    Overnight Caramel French Toast from @cfoblog

    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
    1 cup packed brown sugar
    1 loaf of Challah or egg bread, cut into 1-inch slices (no heels)
    5 large eggs, lightly beaten
    3/4 cup half and half
    3/4 cup whole or 2% milk
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    zest of 1 small orange
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the brown sugar, stirring frequently until the sugar has melted and a smooth liquid has formed. Pour the caramel into a 13×9 baking dish.

    2. Cut the crust off the bread slices and arranged them in one layer over the caramel sauce, squeezing to fit them in as necessary. (The whole caramel layer should be covered.

    3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, milk, vanilla, orange zest, and salt until combined well. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours and up to one day.

    4. Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the French toast in the center of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until puffed and edges are golden. Serve hot or warm.

    Note: You should never put a cold baking dish in a hot oven because the sudden temperature change can cause the glass to crack. I share this technique, with the caveat that I can’t guarantee its safety: Remove the plastic wrap and place the baking dish in the center of the oven. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees, and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until puffed and edges are golden. My theory is that the glass warms as the oven warms, but I won’t be responsible for any messes in your oven – only mine!

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