Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Shredded Wheat Cookies

Have you ever wondered what to do with the leftover crumbs at the bottom of the cereal bag?

We get the giant boxes of Frosted Mini Wheats from Costco because my kids love it and I feel like they are eating kinda "healthy." Lately, however, there has been a HUGE amount of crumbs at the bottom of the bag. I started saving the crumbs, knowing that there MUST be something I could make out of them. (This seems to be a growing trend with me, as my husband jokingly asks me now before he throws anything away, "Do you want to save this for something?") 

Apparently I am not the only one who hates to waste the shredded wheat crumbs. As I was looking for a recipe to "tweak," I came across THIS website. Aha! She's already done the work for me! I decided to try her recipe first (which I think she got from the box of a generic shredded wheat), and then alter it next time if needed. So, here it is:

Shredded Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

1  1/2 cup frosted shredded wheat crumbs (she said to finely process them, but I decided to try it with crumbs straight from the box to add some texture to the cookie)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 375F. 

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until well blended:

Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
In a separate bowl, combine cereal crumbs, flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder; add to butter mixture and stir to combine: 

Add chocolate chips:

(I found it easier to use my hands at this stage. The dough is hard to stir with a spoon). 

Drop by rounded tablespoon onto a lightly greased cookie sheet:

(I used my Silpat baking liners instead of greasing my pan).
Bake for 10-12 minutes:

Cool completely; store in an airtight container.

Wow. These things are SO good. They are chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside (with neat little crunchy bits from the cereal crumbs). They are buttery and chocolatey. I would say they are a little bit too sweet (if there is such a thing), so next time I might reduce the sugar just a tad. Overall, though, this is a winner. 

And now I don't have to throw away the crumbs at the bottom of the cereal bag. Sorry honey......

Friday, June 1, 2012

Amazing Ladybugs

I'm sure you know what this is:

But do you know where it comes from?

I never much thought about the life cycle of a Ladybug. I have always known that it was a "good" bug. Even little kids know that Ladybugs are safe to touch and are nice to have around the garden. But, until recently, I never knew how amazing Ladybugs are.

During my recent struggle with Aphids (see post here), I wanted to be sure that I educated myself about the other bugs in my garden so that I wouldn't kill the ones that were actually helping me keep the Aphids away. I already knew that Ladybugs eat Aphids, but I kept seeing this bug around:

I did a quick Google search and found out that it is referred to as a Ladybird. But you know what? It's a LADYBUG! A Ladybird is really just an early form of a Ladybug! I have always wondered what those alligator looking bugs were. Now I know!

So I kept my eyes open in the garden in case I might find other interesting bugs that I should keep around to help with my Aphid problem. I found this guy, practically suctioned to the leaves of my plants:

Worried that he might be consuming my precious vegetable plants, I did another Internet search. Guess what? It's a LADYBUG!!

The alligator looking baby (Ladybird) turns into this orange blob. I'm guessing it's kind of like a cocoon. It doesn't move at all, is totally stuck to the leaf, and the Ladybug emerges leaving a "skin":

Amazing! And to think, I always just thought Ladybugs were born the way we all know them:

But that's not all!! The other day, while inspecting my roses for Aphids, I saw this little cluster of orange "eggs":

Yup! Ladybug eggs!!

And a few days later, I checked back to see if they were still there and found this:

Baby Ladybirds (young ladybugs) just hatching out of their eggs! I can't believe that I have been able to see (and capture with my camera) every stage of a Ladybug's life in my own garden!