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  • Recipe & Giveaway: Musselman’s Chewy Fruit Bars & Apple Sauce

    Spring is in the air, so Musselman’s wants to encourage you to see all that’s growing in your area. Reconnect with nature – and your family and friends – by getting outdoors for a spring hike, complete with healthy snacks made with apple sauce. There are many recipes on their web site, and they sent some products and recipes for us to try. I made the Chewy Fruit Bars, which were a huge hit with my boys despite the lack of brain power that I demonstrated:

    The recipe calls for a 13×9 pan, but I wanted to bake it in my toaster oven. So I planned to make a half-recipe and bake it in an 8×8 pan. Only . . . I made the full recipe, put it in the 8×8 pan, and realized what I’d done only after I’d spread the filling. I baked it anyway and crossed my fingers. My oldest called it “great.” So apparently this recipe is very forgiving!

    Chewy Fruit Bars
    adapted from Musselman’s

    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
    1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    2/3 cup butter, softened
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 cup quick-cooking oats
    4 4-oz cups Musselman’s Healthy Picks Apple Sauce {I used cinnamon}
    1/2 cup raisins
    1/2 cup chopped, dried sweetened cranberries

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the bottom and sides of a 13×9 baking pan with cooking spray.

    2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, cinnamon, and baking soda, and mix well with a fork.

    3. In a large bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar and vanilla. Beat for 10 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add oats and mix until just combined. Press two-thirds of the mixture into the prepared baking pan.

    4. In a medium bowl, combine the apple sauce, raisins and cranberries. Spread evenly over dough in pan. Crumble remaining dough over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut into bars.

    WIN IT!

    Musselman’s wants to give one lucky CFO reader some Musselman’s apple sauce products so you can try out their recipes yourself.

    To enter this giveaway, visit Musselman’s and tell me a recipe from their site that you’d like to try in the form below. Email, RSS and mobile readers may need to click through to the blog in order to see the form. If you’re having trouble with your entry, you can go directly to the published form. This entry must be completed in order for your subsequent entries to be counted.

    For a second entry, “like” Chief Family Officer on Facebook. Then fill out the form again.

    For a third entry, subscribe to CFO via RSS or email and fill out the form again to let me know you’ve done so. You’ll get the latest on CFO delivered right to your favorite feed aggregator or inbox (your subscription must be confirmed). If you’re already a subscriber, just fill out the form to let me know (and thanks!).

    For a fourth entry, follow me on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway (including a link to this post). Then fill out the form to let me know you’ve done so (include the link to your update). You can tweet the following to make it easy: @cfoblog is giving away Musselman’s apple sauce! http://www.chieffamilyofficer.com/?p=9727.

    For a fifth entry, blog about the giveaway on your own blog. Then let me know about it by filling out the form again with the link to your post.

    For a sixth entry, subscribe to updates from my other blog, LAUSD Magnets & Beyond. Then let me know about it in the form below.

    You can enter up to six times (one for each type), and you must complete the form once per entry. (To see the form again once you’ve completed it, just refresh the page.) Only one entry of each type per email address will be counted. I’ll select the winner using Random.org and announce them here on CFO as well as contact them by email. Winner must respond within 24 hours, otherwise their prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be selected. Additionally, these guidelines apply to all giveaways here at CFO.

    The giveaway ends at 8 p.m. PST on Monday, May 21, 2012, and is open to U.S. residents only. Good luck!

    Disclosure: Prize, information, and giveaway have been provided by Musselman’s, including product for me to try and review. Read the full CFO disclosure policy here.

    Toaster Oven Brownies

    It gets really hot where I live, and when temps are over 90 degrees, I find myself loathe to turn on the oven. So in the summer, I do a lot of baking in my toaster oven. The batches are smaller, but it’s worth not overheating my kitchen.

    Toaster Oven Brownies
    Makes 16 good-size brownies

    1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/3 cup fair-trade unsweetened cocoa powder
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup melted butter
    2 eggs
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 cup fair trade chocolate chips

    1. Before you begin, make sure an 8×8 baking pan will fit in your toaster oven. Thoroughly grease the 8×8 baking pan. Preheat the toaster oven to 325 degrees.

    2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder and sugar and mix well.

    3. In a small bowl, combine butter, eggs and vanilla and stir well with a fork. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

    4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, turning once after 20 minutes. Brownies are done when a toothpick inserted 2 inches from the edge of the pan comes out with a few crumbs. Cool brownies in pan on a wire rack before cutting.

    Sorry about the picture quality. I’m trying to be more diligent about taking pictures for my recipes, but need to work on my technique!

    Oatmeal Cookies with Carrots, Cranberries & Raisins

    This is my favorite healthy cookie recipe – it incorporates whole wheat, oats, carrots, cranberries and raisins. It also calls for canola oil instead of butter, so it’s bit more heart-healthy too.

    Oatmeal Cookies with Carrots, Cranberries & Raisins
    Makes about 16 cookies

    Adapted from Parents April 2012

    1 cup white whole-wheat flour
    1 cup rolled oats
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    pinch of cloves
    pinch of allspice
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup canola oil
    1 egg
    1 cup finely shredded carrot
    1/4 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
    1/4 cup raisins

    1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the first 9 ingredients (flour through granulated sugar). Stir to combine well. Add the oil egg, carrot, cranberries and raisins, and mix thoroughly. Cover and chill for at least two hours.

    2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Press down to form a flat, round disk. Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until slightly browned. Let stand one minute, then cool on a wire rack. If freezing cookies, put them in a container rather than a zip-top bag, as they are a bit delicate.

    Optional: If desired, whisk together 8 ounces of reduced fat cream cheese with 2 1/2 tablespoons of Grade B maple syrup until smooth. Spread filling on flat side of one cookie and top with flat side of second cookie to make a sandwich. Wrap and chill for up to 3 days.

    Blueberry-Lemon Muffins

    My kids are reluctant produce eaters, and I’ve become a pretty avid label reader which makes me want to avoid processed foods. Those two things together have me searching for recipes that taste delicious while incorporating a fruit and/or vegetable. I’ve been looking for a really good blueberry muffin recipe that didn’t have a glaze to worry about, and this one fits the bill. I adapted the recipe to use the ingredients I had on hand, and to make better use of paper muffin liners (I’ve found that I lose half the muffin stuck to the paper if I use all whole wheat flour).

    Blueberry-Lemon Muffins
    Makes 12 muffins

    Adapted from Gourmet

    1 cup + 2 teaspoons white whole-wheat flour
    3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    zest of one small lemon
    5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    3/4 cup 1% milk
    1 large egg
    1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries (keep frozen; do not thaw)
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

    1. Line a muffin tin with paper cups (or butter a non-stick muffin tin). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

    2. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup white whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Whisk to combine. Make a well in the middle.

    3. In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, milk and egg. Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened (may still be a bit lumpy).

    4. In a small bowl, toss the blueberries and remaining two teaspoons of flour to coat the blueberries. (This will help prevent them from sinking and turning the batter purple.) Stir the blueberries into the batter. Distribute the batter among muffin cups.

    5. Combine the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl, and sprinkle the mixture over the muffin batter. Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, turning the pan halfway through, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. The batter will be very lightly browned.

    Homemade Spreadable Butter

    After reading the ingredients list on store-bought spreadable butter and seeing a few posts, I resolved to start making my own spreadable butter. It turns out to be a super easy thing to do:

    Homemade Spreadable Butter
    Makes approx. 1 1/2 cups

    1/2 cup room temperature butter (1 stick)
    1/2 cup vegetable, canola, or olive oil
    3 tablespoons water
    1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

    Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, and blend together until smooth. (I use the whisk attachment on my hand mixer, and it takes about 3 minutes.) The mixture will appear lumpy at first, but keep it going and it will come together.

    Pour the butter into a sealable container and refrigerate until firm.

    The butter may “weep” a little after refrigeration. If that bothers you, omit the water from the recipe. (I like to add it to reduce the calorie count a little.) If you prefer saltier butter, add more salt to taste.

    Pumpkin Puree: Homemade vs. Store Bought (with recipes)

    Prices still current in 2017! Yay for Trader Joe’s!

    I bought some sugar pumpkins at Trader Joe’s and roasted them to make puree yesterday, so I thought I’d do a price comparison on homemade pumpkin puree vs. canned pumpkin.

    Homemade vs Store Bought Pumpkin Puree
    One can of organic pumpkin puree at Trader Joe’s is $1.99, and contains approximately 3.5 1/2 cup servings, or about 1.75 cups.

    Sugar pumpkins are $1.99 each at Trader Joe’s – they’re fairly small, which I think makes for better flavor. I tried to pick pumpkins that were heavy for their weight, so the flesh would be moist and dense. Three pumpkins yielded about 6 cups. That works out to $1.74 per 1.75 cups, and I also got about two cups of roasted pumpkin seeds out of my pumpkins. But the price per unit doesn’t factor in the time or energy costs it took to make the puree.

    So I’ll call it about even. After all, making pumpkin puree requires a fair amount of effort, while canned pumpkin has a huge convenience factor in its favor.

    Actually, because the pumpkins I bought weren’t organic, the canned pumpkin probably costs less. But as far as I know, pumpkins are pretty low risk when it comes to pesticide and fertilizer residue. Plus, fresh pumpkin tastes phenomenal and canned pumpkin raises BPA concerns for me.

    Want to try it for yourself? Here’s how I made my pumpkin puree:

    Homemade Pumpkin Puree
    Makes about 2 cups per pumpkin

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut a small sugar pumpkin in half. Scoop out the seeds and strings, saving the seeds if desired. Place the pumpkin cut side down on a lined baking sheet and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until you can easily insert a knife through the pumpkin.

    Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let cool on the pan for about 30 minutes.

    Place a food mill fitted with the smallest blade over a large bowl. Scoop the pumpkin flesh out of the shell and transfer to food mill. Pass the pumpkin through the food mill, scraping down the side but not pushing the pumpkin through the holes. Use the puree as you would canned pumpkin.

    Note: I have a food mill from my homemade baby food days, so that’s what I used. It makes for a nice puree that still has a bit of texture, but if you don’t have a food mill, I *think* you should be okay with a food processor. Speaking of baby food, you could mix the puree with some applesauce, or add in a little cinnamon to give your baby a new taste.

    Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

    Separate the pumpkin seeds from the strings but do not wash them (they have a lot more flavor this way). Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil per cup of seeds and sprinkle with fine sea salt to taste. Spread the seeds out in a single layer on a lined baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for approximately two hours or until golden brown, stirring every half hour.