Thursday, March 16, 2017

HOME COMFORTS

My heart always sings when I see the first harbingers of spring—the crocus—in my garden. Here they are peeking through the layer of leaves we leave in the fall to protect the flowers through the winter.  I also noticed the leaves of my rhubarb plant are starting to redden.


Too bad it still feels like winter here in central Iowa. The colder months often find me baking something to satisfy our sweet toothes. My vintage owl cookie jar was crying out for more cookies. 


So I obliged by making a batch of ginger cookies with molasses. They are my favorite kind of cookie. Does anyone else out there like molasses cookies? I always hear about people raving about chocolate chip or peanut butter but I rarely hear people singing the praises of molasses. If you regularly read this blog, you know that my husband is prediabetic, so I have to find ways to reduce or eliminate the sugar in the treats we keep around the house. The only sugar these cookies have are the molasses and turbinado sugar I rolled them in. I also substituted half of the butter (it called for a whole stick!) with a healthier alternative and most of the flour with whole wheat flour. These cookies are NOT designed to crackle as much as regular molasses cookies. I tried three other molasses cookie recipes and we found this recipe tastes the best with no sacrifice in flavor for the healthier substitutions. 


Besides cookies, my husband has also been clamoring for homemade granola. He buys a couple brands every week at the store hoping to find something healthier but good-tasting. I don't know much about granola but he told me it's actually pretty bad for you because of the sugar and oil. So I made it my mission to find a healthier alternative for him. I found most of my ingredients at my local Trader Joes. I already had plenty of old-fashioned oats and unsalted walnuts in the pantry. All nuts we used were unsalted due to my kidney condition. 


I enjoyed baking up this sugar-free, oil-free granola. We like it as dark as possible without burning it. I'd like to eventually add dried fruit to the mix but I couldn't find any that hadn't been sweetened at the grocery stores, so I plan to dry some blueberries in my dehydrator for the next batch. Despite being oil-free, this recipe actually clumps because of the special syrup I use but I'm not one to have to have clumps in my granola. I prefer to break it all up but my husband likes small clumps.


Last but not least, I wish you all a Happy St. Paddy's Day. I just love the way my favorite kitty boutique dressed up their window for the festive occasion! How cute is that?!