Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Waste Not: Turn Baby Cereal Into Crackers

First of all let me just say "Eureka!"

Next let me say that this is a work in progress--I still have more variations to try on this concept...maybe by then, I won't have as many boxes of baby cereal left though.

Beware the Ninja
As always, let me encourage you to also be willing to donate any extra baby food you can not use to your local women's shelter or soup kitchen.

Little people need whole grains long after they start shaking their heads in protest at the mush of the morning. Which makes sneaking cereal into Baby's diet like playing ninja assassin meet Julia Child. Bon Appetite, Junior, Hi-YA!

Homemade crackers are already easy enough to make...and according to snooty books, a wonderful gourmet gifts for friends. I think they're yummy and cheap and worth the effort. Making them with baby cereal actually gives you more variety and only you will know you used Gerber instead of King Arthur.

In a bowl, add the following:

2 cups whole wheat baby cereal or oatmeal (I have yet to try this with rice or mixed grain but plan to try that next)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Add a tsp of seasoning if you wish. If you are using wheat cereal, don't add any seasoning and the cracker will taste just like a wheat thin.

In a small bowl, whisk together
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Add this to the dry mixture and blend together with a fork--it will be a dry, cornmeal like mixture. Slowly add 1/4 -1/2 cup of water and continue to blend until everything is moistened. Work the dough into a ball. It will feel kind of rubbery because of the oil, but if it is sticky, add more cereal.

I found that if I sprinkled more cereal on a silpat and roll out the dough with a rolling pin, the process of moving them to a baking sheet was much easier and nothing lost it's shape. Sprinkle more cereal on top if the pin sticks. The dough will crack but just press it together with your fingers when you are all done.

Trim the edges with a pizza cutter if you want even sized crackers. Move the silpat (or parchment) onto a baking sheet and bake at 375 for 10-18 minutes, depending on the size of the crackers you cut. The ones in the center will take longer to crisp up so keep checking your oven. You can remove the ones that are  browned up so they don't burn. You'll be able to tell if they are done because the bottoms will feel dry. Also, the crackers will separate more from each other as they bake-they kind of shrink up.

Okay, so I did the first batch with whole wheat cereal and in the end-even though they were a little thicker, they tasted like wheat thins. Not only did Thing 2 gobble them like a starved baby (which she decidedly is not). but Thing 1 got in on the action and snacked away on them while doing her homework (SCORE!!!!).

The second batch, I used oatmeal instead of wheat cereal and replaced the vegetable oil with applesauce and added a little cinnamon. It took longer for them to cook up, and I found that they were more prone to burn before they dried up enough to be crispy, so I think the oil has to stay for now.

My next batch, I am planning to work in a little cheese to the dough--either some sharp cheddar or parmesan and see if that doesn't make them crispier.

Store in an airtight container for a week OR you can actually freeze these--separate the layers with parchment paper.

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