Thursday, November 6, 2014

Manchego Crackers

I follow a few other bloggers that have become new moms or second/third time moms in the past year.  These ladies are the real deal.  They are brilliant writers, photographers and recipe developers.  From the outside looking in it seems they've got it all together.  And I never noticed any break or pause when the little ones arrived in their lives.  New baby?  No big deal. 

Um, what?

I am in total awe of the ability of these ladies to juggle the exhaustion and foggy brain with day to day life and still being able to pull together some great recipes and posts.  I just don't know how they do it.  I have lots of ideas and inspiration- that's not the problem.  It's the organization and time that I can't seem to work out.  I have no idea how the other mom bloggers do it.

And then I read something the other day that made me stop and think.  It was a mom talking about how there is so much pressure these days to appear as if we are always having the best time and are doing the most adventurous things.  But the reality of the situation is often much different than the appearance.  In her own example, she had taken pictures of her kids on a kite flying outing looking happy and carefree.  But what the pictures don't show is that is was a freezing day that didn't last more than an hour with much crying and several broken kites. 

It made me realize that those other mom bloggers are probably much more like me than I realize.  They may look like they've got it all together but they're probably just putting their best face forward and are living in as much chaos behind the scenes as I am.  The difference is that they manage to pull together a few great moments that look good on the screen (and probably taste just as awesome).  But it's all just appearances.

My goal going forward is not about food or photographs.  It's much more personal.  I need to stop putting so much pressure on myself and realize that my life is not any less wonderful if I can't get a blog post done for a week or two.  In fact, it will probably be even better because I'll get to spend real time with my kids- talking with my oldest who is really starting to show his personality and maturity, battling and playing with my 5 year old rough and tumble kid and snuggling with my baby girl.  We'll cook some awesome food together, go on adventures around Europe and see some amazing sights for sure.  And if I get in a great photo shoot in the meantime, you can be sure it's something that I love and am proud of because I took the time to really put my heart into it.

This time around it's these great crackers.  The quince jam that I paired with it is wonderful, but I think I'll save that for another day.  The crackers are just as good with the jam as without (or with another type of preserves like fig!).  They are crisp, tangy and super easy to make.  I took them along to a wine tasting get together and they were the perfect accompaniment to the wines.  And just to give a further shout out to being real, the wines were all under $5 and the one we brought was awful.  But it was a fun night with new friends and that's all that matters.

Manchego Crackers
Makes about 3 dozen 3 inch crackers
For the printable recipe, click here.

Manchego is one of my favorite cheeses.  It's a hard sheep milk cheese from Spain, a bit tangy and nutty.  If you can't find Manchego, you could use Pecorino Romano or Parmesan which share some of the same qualities.  The cheese pairs beautifully with quince and fig jams on a cheese board and these crackers are no different.  They are best used the same day as they are baked as they lose some of their snap as time goes on.  I doubt you'll have any leftover anyway.

1 cup shredded Manchego cheese
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
5 tbs cold butter, cut into cubes
3 tbs plain Greek yogurt

In a food processor, blend together the cheese, flour and pepper.  Drop in the butter and yogurt and pulse the mixture until it just comes together and you can still see streaks of the butter and yogurt.  Pour the dough onto a sheet of parchment or wax paper and press into a log with a 3 inch diameter (I made mine with squared sides but round would be just as nice.  Wrap tightly in the paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.  You could also freeze the dough for up to 3 months.

When ready to bake the crackers, preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.  Take the dough from the fridge and let it warm on the counter for a few minutes to make slicing easier.  Using a sharp, heavy knife slice the dough into 1/4 inch slices.  I found that the thinner crackers had a better snap to them so try not to get too thick.  Lay the slices flat on the baking tray.  They don't need a lot of space between them as they don't spread much at all.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, flipping the crackers after the first 10 minutes.  The finished crackers are a beautiful golden color (but not brown).  Cool on a wire rack completely.  Store the crackers in an airtight container.

*You can also make the cracker dough by hand if you don't have a food processor.  Simply mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and then cut the butter and yogurt in using a pastry blender or two knives. 

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