Raspberry rhubarb chia jam bars

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Preschool germs. Is there a stronger force in the universe? In my memoir, this era will be titled: The time when my child who never got sick, was never not sick.

And I don't know if all kids do this when ill, but mine is like a koala bear who drank a pot of coffee. He's both lethargic and wired, wanting to be on top of me while simultaneously thrashing like he's breaking out of a human prison. In short, this has not been a fun week.

Anyway, since we're stuck in the house for the foreseeable future, I've tried my hand with chia jam a few times. The basic recipe in that link has worked well for me as long as I cook the fruit down for about 20 minutes before adding the chia seeds and letting the mixture set in the fridge for about 30 to 60 minutes before using it. 

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And this jam is really versatile! It works in sandwiches, obviously, but is also great when added to oatmeal, yogurt, and baked goods. It would also make a tremendous baby puree.

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This is as easy as dessert/snack/breakfast gets. One bowl, no extra tools, and the same batter for the base and the top crumble. This recipe also uses gluten-free flour and clarified butter, so it's free of gluten, dairy, nuts, and eggs. And I've used as little butter and sugar as possible to maximize health without losing out on taste and texture.

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This dough is definitely crumbly, but packs down nicely with a rubber spatula. If it's too crumbly, feel free to add an extra tablespoon or two of butter.

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Raspberry rhubarb chia jam bars

For the jam:
12 oz frozen raspberries (one package or about 1 ½ cups)
2 cups rhubarb, chopped
2 large green apples, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp water
4 Tbsp chia seeds  

Add raspberries, rhubarb and green apples to a medium pot. If your berries are still frozen, add 1 tablespoon of water to get things started. If your berries have unfrozen and there’s some liquid in your bag, skip the extra water and just start cooking.

Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium or medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is falling apart and the liquid has largely evaporated or become syrupy, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly and add the chia seeds. Cool in the fridge for 30-60 minutes before using.

Yield: About 3 cups


For the bars:
1.5 cups gluten free flour
1.5 cups quick oats
½ cup brown sugar, packed
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cardamom
½ tsp kosher salt
Zest of 1/2 large lemon
8 Tbsp clarified butter
4 Tbsp ice water
1.5 cups chia jam (see recipe above)

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9x9 brownie pan with clarified butter or olive oil and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt and mix well.

In a small bowl, melt some clarified butter. Measure the butter when melted and add to the dry ingredients, stirring after adding each tablespoon. Add the ice water, also stirring between additions.

Pack about 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of your brownie pan with a rubber spatula or wet hands. Top with the chia jam and smooth out. Crumble the rest of the oat mixture over the chia jam. If possible, pack some of the oat mixture into larger pieces and place those on top.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the edges begin to darken slightly.

Let cool completely before cutting.

Yield: 16 pieces

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Almond cookies

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Easter and Passover fall during the same weekend this year, so why not bake a dessert that fits the bill for both? They're a little like a French Macaron, but with a lot less work. They're also a little merengue-y, but much less tricky and far quicker to bake.

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I first made these Chewy Almond Cookies for the holidays a few years ago. My mom loves a Linzer torte and my father-in-law loves anything with marzipan, but I needed something a bit simpler to add to the cookie tray. The original version called for store-bought almond paste, but it's expensive and sometimes hard to find, so these cookies sub in almond flour (NOT almond meal) and powdered sugar.

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Skipping the almond paste also makes these kosher for Passover because the paste uses some kind of gluten-derived syrup as a sweetener.

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I've fiddled with the technique a bit as well. Adding the egg whites to the food processor first and whizzing them until they're thick and white makes the cookies lighter, airier, and more chewy. You don't need to go for stiff peaks or even soft peaks, but just a frothy milky mixture.

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The only tricky part of this recipe is getting the texture of the batter right. Too thick, and it's hard to pipe, but too thin and the cookies spread out and get too crunchy. You want to be able to run a finger through the batter and the indentation stays put. (See the photo below.)

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The original recipe also calls for raspberry jam, which is delicious. But I used lemon curd here because it felt more springy. Also, it seemed like an apt use of the leftover egg yolks. However, I confess that I've never actually made my own lemon curd before and my first try was...not great. The taste was delicious, but it was entirely too runny. So, I bought some at the grocery store and called it a day. No shame.

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Almond Cookies

2 large eggs, white and yolk separated
1 cup almond meal
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp almond extract
½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cardamom
¼ tsp salt
2 cups sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Make 9 small piles of almonds roughly the size of a quarter. Set aside.

Add the egg whites to a food processor. Whiz on high speed until the whites look frothy and milky, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients and whiz to combine. The batter will likely form a ball. Keep processing until the ball smoothes back out. If the batter is too thick (stays in a ball after another minute of processing), separate another egg white and yolk and add ½ of the egg white to the batter and process again.

Add the batter to a large zip lock bag or a piping bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 day.

Once chilled, pipe about 2 Tbsp of batter in a circle over each pile of almonds. The batter will be thick, so feel free to use your fingers to help it out of the bag.  Don’t worry if the batter looks a little wonky because the cookies spread out while baking.

Top with more sliced almonds.

Bake for 5 minutes and rotate the pan. Bake for 5 minutes more. Be careful not to overbake these cookies. They’re done even when they look slightly raw in the middle. You want just a hint of color around the edges. Let cool for 5 minutes on the pan and move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 18-20 cookies

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Roasted carrot hummus

Roasted carrot hummus | Me & The Moose. Roasted carrots sweeten up this spicy, complex, EASY hummus. #meandthemoose #snackrecipes #hiddenveggies #snacks #roastedcarrots #hummus #homemadehummus #hummusrecipes

This is carrot hummus. I realize that the above photo might lead you to think that it's pumpkin hummus because there are pepitas in a photo of orange mush. I'm pretty tired.

Guys, M is about to transition to a toddler bed and I'm freaking out. In practical terms, I'm terrified that he's going to climb out of his crib and hurt himself. We've caught him several times with a leg over the railing and have stopped him before gravity could do its work. The toddler rail is on its way.

In theoretical terms, I'm not ready for him to be such a big boy. He was only born, like, a month ago, right? In addition to the impending toddler bed, he got "accepted" to preschool this week (in NYC, you have to apply to preschool with the essay writing, interviewing, and astronomical tuition that that implies), and together, those things are too much. 

Roasted carrot hummus | Me & The Moose. Roasted carrots sweeten up this spicy, complex, EASY hummus. #meandthemoose #snackrecipes #hiddenveggies #snacks #roastedcarrots #hummus #homemadehummus #hummusrecipes

In my anxiety spirals, I worry that he's going to wake up in the middle of the night and climb a bookshelf or stick something into an outlet. We've bolted everything to the wall and covered the outlets, but he's crafty and good at circumventing our roadblocks. Ugh. How do you learn to trust a toddler? How do you have a rational conversation with an irrational being? How do you solve a problem like Maria?

I have no answers. (Accept about Maria: Make her a nanny to seven wealthy motherless children and set the Nazis after them. Things turn out okay.) All I can do is control what I can control. In this case, it's finding creative ways to add vegetables to M's diet. 

Roasted carrot hummus | Me & The Moose. Roasted carrots sweeten up this spicy, complex, EASY hummus. #meandthemoose #snackrecipes #hiddenveggies #snacks #roastedcarrots #hummus #homemadehummus #hummusrecipes

This hummus is a spring-y delight. Roasting the carrots makes the hummus ever-so-slightly sweet and the little bit of ginger lightens the whole thing up and calls to mind Easter egg hunts, seders, hay fever, and daffodils--whatever your springtime ritual.

A couple of notes: When roasting, you want some color on the carrots, but are really looking for them to be slightly browned and fork tender. I also like to cut them into about 1/2-inch thick slices so that they cook fairly quickly, but don't get crispy. I like to toss the hot carrots with the spices once they've come out of the oven so that they don't burn during the cooking, but heat up a bit before going into the food processor. Use Hungarian or sweet paprika over smoked paprika and feel free to increase the amount of spice if you want more zing. The amounts I've used are rather mild because I wanted the ginger to star in this show. Don't be shy with the water in this recipe either. I learned by accident that a little extra doesn't hurt.

Roasted carrot hummus | Me & The Moose. Roasted carrots sweeten up this spicy, complex, EASY hummus. #meandthemoose #snackrecipes #hiddenveggies #snacks #roastedcarrots #hummus #homemadehummus #hummusrecipes

Carrot and ginger hummus

1 lb carrots
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp turmeric
1 15 oz can chickpeas
2 large cloves garlic
¼ cup tahini
2 Tbsp lemon juice
½- 1 cup water
Salt

Preheat oven to 400. Peel and cut carrots into ½-inch thick slices. Combine with olive oil and plenty of salt and roast until fork tender, about 25 minutes. Once roasted, toss with the paprika and turmeric (and more salt if necessary).

Add the carrots and the rest of the ingredients (through the water) to your food processor and pulse until combined, adding water until you've reached your desired consistency.

Yield: 3 cups, 26 oz

Roasted carrot hummus | Me & The Moose. Roasted carrots sweeten up this spicy, complex, EASY hummus. #meandthemoose #snackrecipes #hiddenveggies #snacks #roastedcarrots #hummus #homemadehummus #hummusrecipes