Monday, July 20, 2009

Make It Yourself Monday: Crackers

One of TFH’s most favorite things to snack on is Cheez-Its. Yep, that’s right; she loves the neon-orange, distinctly non-gourmet squares of glory and could eat them every day. She also loves their cousins, Pepperidge Farms Goldfish, Cheese Nips, and, in small doses, Cheetos. This may all stem from her childhood, which was studded by occasional “snack dinners” comprised of cheese and crackers and other delicious little hors d’oeuvres. Cheese and crackers and hors d’ oeuvres dinners remain in TFH’s top five, and Cheez-Its are like a shortcut version of them.

The Frugal Hostess started her attempt to recreate her favorite snacks about three years ago, after she read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. For some reason, that book – which describes Kingsolver’s year-long experiment in eating locally – hit just the right note at just the right time. The Frugal Hostess and The Frugal Husband made major changes, and The Frugal Kitchen was transformed from ordinary to organic (and soon to the crazy local/organic/chemical-free/homemade extremism that precipitates Make It Yourself Monday). The struggle continues – there’s no way TFH is giving up bacon, for real – but major progress has been made.

So, TFH tried (still trying, BTW) to cut out corn chemicals, processed foods, and other icky-ness from her diet. But what to do about Cheez-its? And where does the cheese go without any crackers?

First, she tried a recipe that called itself a recipe for cheese crackers. The Frugal Hostess isn’t exactly sure where it came from – somewhere on the interwebs. These crackers are not exactly cheesy, nothing even remotely close to Cheez-Its, but still OK. The Frugal Hostess made a few modifications to the recipe and offers it below for your enjoyment.

Next, The Frugal Hostess tried the recipe in Karen Solomon’s “Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It.” Listen, TFH knows she talks about this book a lot, but it is awesome, and you should buy it. This recipe works with no modifications and produces delicious crackers that remind you of Saltines in flavor but are thicker, denser, and better. Solomon also offers some variations, including one with cheese, which are no doubt also good. But of course, TFH is stubborn and self-righteous, so she found it necessary to make an unsuggested modification.

So, finally, TFH substituted half the white flour in the recipe with whole wheat. In many recipes (including chocolate chip cookies and pizza dough), you can do this with no problem, and you just add nutritional value. The Frugal Hostess assumed this would be the case with these crackers. Well, you’ve heard the cliché about assuming – it makes your crackers taste like ass. Such was the case with this recipe modification. The resulting crackers had a decent flavor, but they were really dry and too crumbly. Kind of like crackers made of delicious dirt.

The Frugal Hostess continues her hunt for a Cheez-It alternative but offers this recipe as an option until such time as the real deal is found.


½ cup butter

1 ½ cup sifted white flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups grated cheddar

Dash of cayenne pepper

¼ - ½ cup skim milk


1. Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl. If you’re using a stand mixer, just mix it together with that.

2. Cut in butter.

3. Blend in grated cheese.

4. Use the milk to wet the dough enough to stick together.

5. Shape into rolls, 1-2 inches in diameter.

6. Chill rolls for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

7. Slice rolls into ¼ inch thick disks.

8. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 10 minutes.

9. Cool and store for as long as four weeks. Uncooked dough can be frozen for several months.

photo by doortoriver

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