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Can someone tell me when snacks become such a huge part of childrens organized sports? It seems as if someone somewhere along the line sent out a national mandate about snacks where kids athletics are involved.

Each parent must provide a really good (the definition of good will be in most cases determined by your child and accompanied with whining about how so and so’s mom brought cheetos, so in other words junky) snack and drink for every player for at least one game during the season.

I’m really not complaining because I like to bake, cook, etc., but I’m just curious and (forgive me) about to get on my soap box just a teensy bit… I wasn’t hugely involved in team sports as a kid but I did do my time playing Park and Rec basketball (yes, my nickname was Scrappy), Pop Warner cheeerleading for years, high school cheerleading (it wasn’t really a sport then, it is now). But I’m pretty sure that parent-provided team snacks were not part of the deal back then. What happened? Can kids not go for more than 1 hour without eating anymore?

Maybe that’s part of our childhood obesity epidemic. Even the kids that are running around getting some exercise are fueling up afterward with Krispy Kreme doughnuts (yes, two different parents brought these as a “snack” to my daughters soccer game) and sugary juice or “sports” drinks. I don’t know about you but after I run or exercise, if I can even stomach the thought of eating it certainly isn’t going to be a fried piece of sugar dough that I want to put in my body. Water good. Fruit great. Protein, even better.

I am really not anti-snack nor anti-goodies. Promise. I just really believe in moderation and I’m pretty sure doughnuts and juice are the greatest post-game snack. Nor do I like the idea that we are rewarding kids for doing something fun and physical with the promise of not so great for you food at the end. These kids (mine included) seem to play the game FOR the snack! There’s just something not so good about that. It seems we’re getting them started for a lifetime of looking at food as a reward when instead it should simply be fuel for our bodies. Now you know I don’t mean that fuel shouldn’t taste really good, because I do not by any stretch of the imagination think you have to sacrifice flavor for health.

My point here is simply if providing a snack is indeed part of being a soccer mom/football dad, maybe we should all try and do our part and make sure what we are giving are somewhat healthy snacks and drinks. I know just as well as anyone, life is crazy busy and not everyone has the time or desire to make homemade snacks. Cheese sticks are great. Fruit – bananas you don’t even have to cut them up. Low sugar granola bars with no High Fructose Corn Syrup please. Pretzels. Shoot, throw a cookie out there but balance it out with some fruit or carrot sticks. Water makes a wonderful post game drink. I just really don’t think doughnuts belong anywhere near an athletic field. Maybe if we all banded together and stuck with it, they wouldn’t even miss the junk and soon be begging us for carrot sticks.  One can dream.

To prove I am not a complete snack nazi (no snack for you!), I’m going to post the recipe for the cookies I brought when it was my turn for soccer snack for one daughter and the cupcakes I baked for the soccer party at the end of the season. They are not healthy whatsoever.  But they are homemade so at least I know what’s in them and none of it is an ingredient  I can’t pronounce or spell.  R requested our special “Brown Sugar Cookies” that have become our signature cookie together. I don’t blame her for wanting to share these with her teammates. These are darn good cookies. But to temper the fact that we were bringing cookies for a snack, we also brought cut up orange wedges and bottled water for all the girls.

And the cupcakes, well, what’s an end of the season soccer party without cupcakes?  It is a party after all!

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If you love caramel and/or butterscotch, these cookies are for you.  I truly think these are one of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted.  America’s Test Kitchen recipes are the bomb!  Failproof and delicious.

Brown Sugar Cookies (from America’s Test Kitchen, Cookie Jar Favorites)  makes 2 dozen cookies

14 Tbsp. (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups packed brown sugar (make sure to use fresh so the cookies won’t be dry)
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
 
Heat 10 Tbsp. of butter in a 10-inch skillet (don’t use a non-stick or dark interior – it will be too hard to gauge the color) over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes.  Continue to cook, swirling the pan constantly until the butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes.  Watch it constantly as you want it browned, not burnt.  Remove the skillet from heat and transfer the browned butter to a large heatproof bowl.  Stir the remaining 4 Tbsp. butter into the hot butter to melt; set aside for 15 minutes. 
 
Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 large (18×12) baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a shallow baking dish or pie plate, mix the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of the packed brown sugar, rubbing between your fingers, until well combined; set aside.  Whisk the flour, baking soda and baking powder together in a medium bowl; set aside.
 
Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups brown sugar and salt to the bowl with the cooled butter.  (Be prepared to take a moment to inhale the most divine caramel, butterscotch fragrance ever.)  Then mix until no sugar lumps remain, about 30 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula; add the egg, yolk and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Scrape down the bowl.  Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.  Give the dough a final stir with the rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and the ingredients are evenly distributed.  I’m not advocating eating raw cookie dough but this dough is amazing (disclaimer:  do so at your own risk)!
 
Divide the dough into 24 portions, each about 2 Tbsp., rolling them between your hands into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Working in batches, toss the balls in the reserved sugar mixture to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart,12 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but it will take 3 batches.)
 
Bake one sheet at a time until the cookies are browned and still puffy and the edges have begun to set but the centers are still soft (the cookies will have a raw look between the cracks and seem underdone), 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking.  Do not overbake and do not judge these cookies by their color – they are dark already.  When they are done, if you press on a cookie, it will form an indentation with slight resistance.  Err on the side of underdone.
 
Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes; using a wide spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature…if you can wait that long!
I’m going to post the cupcake and frosting recipe under a separate entry titled Chocolate Cream Cheese Cupcakes.

 

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