March 17, 2016
Over the last year, while working on my book, Make It Easy: 120 Mix-and-Match Recipes to Cook From Scratch—with Smart Store-Bought Shortcuts When You Need Them (which is available for pre-sale, by the way!), I’ve been thinking a lot about how to, well, help make it easy for busy parents. If you’ve been following along for long enough, you know that I was once a hardcore scratch cooking advocate. But several things have brought me to the middle, where I am today.
First off, I wrote that book and got busy. Really busy. Because at the same time, I also helped launch Cool Mom Eats. Oh, and all of that coincided with our baby sitter of years moving on, so I’ve also been sole primary caregiver through it all. Even though I’ve always been a busy work-from-home mom, I was able to prioritize cooking until all this happened at one time. Once I realized what it felt like to not be able to do cook every night—a feeling I know many (many) parents live with—I started to better understand the compromises that family cooks have to make. And also how frustrating it is that nobody makes those compromises easier by giving parents the info they need to make them healthfully.
I came to see that family cooks need an advocate who is a champion of scratch cooking, but also nonjudgmental and flexible enough to know that scratch cooking is not always an option, and when it’s not, someone who is willing to guide them towards the healthiest, smarted shortcuts that the supermarket has to offer. From that, my book—and recipes like these easy, customizable Wonton Crackers—were born.
This recipe isn’t in my cookbook, but recipes like it are, and you can expect more recipes like this to come here. Of course, I’ll still share easy scratch recipes as I always have, but when reasonable products from the supermarket can make the difference between a home cooked meal and takeout OR a home baked treat and opening a box, why not use them?
Healthier supermarket options exist! And, even better, you’ll be able to find exactly what products and brands I rely on using the Supermarket Guide in Make It Easy. It’s a comprehensive list of healthier store-bought shortcuts that you can get, even in mainstream grocery stores, that you should use without feeling bad.
This recipe is less about going homemade for the sake of better ingredients (though some wonton wrappers are more wholesome than a great number of store-bought crackers, as long as you avoid brands with preservatives; I use Nasoya), and more about getting kids in the kitchen and also being able to easily customize your treat. They can also help save you money, which is always worth a little bit of effort.
See, my kids eat crackers like they are going out of style. Healthy ones—especially gourmet brads with delicious flavors—can cost a ton of money. Wonton wrappers, on the other hand, are inexpensive and you can turn them into crackers with any flavors you choose with hardly any effort.
To start, brush the first wonton wrapper with oil on both sides. Then stack a second wonton on top and brush the top of that with oil. Stack a third on top of that and continue until you coat as many as you want with oil on both sides. Then, using a knife, pizza cutter, or kitchen shears, cut the wontons into whatever shape you like (down the middle works for me).
You can use any oil you like. I prefer olive oil or sesame oil when I’m going for Asian flavors, but a neutral oil like grapeseed works well, too.
Then it’s time to hit these crackers with flavor. Arrange pieces in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet, and go to town with toppings. My older son loves fennel seeds and grated Parmesan. The little one (who loves all things hummus), prefers the Middle Eastern spice blend, za’atar powder. You can add sesme seeds to it, as well, if yours doesn’t come with them premixed.
When I used sesame oil to brush the wontons, I usually top them with black sesame seeds. But you get the point: Anything works.
Then baked for just a few minutes and, voila, crackers. Made easily. Using a store-bought short cut. Flavored any way that you like.
(can be shared with kids safely managing finger foods 10+ up)
Wonton wrappers (I estimate 1 wonton wrapper for every 2 crackers)
Oil, olive, sesame & grapeseed all work well (about 1 1/2 teaspoons for every dozen wrappers you use)
Toppings of choice, see above for ideas (about 1 teaspoon for every dozen wrappers you use)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Brush the first wonton wrapper with oil on both sides. Then stack a second wonton on top and brush the top of that with oil. Stack a third on top of that and continue until you coat as many as you want with oil on both sides. Then, using a knife, pizza cutter, or kitchen shears, cut the wontons into whatever shape you like (down the middle works for me).
2. Lay pieces in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with toppings. Lay another piece of parchment paper on top of the wontons and press down to get the spices to stick to the wrappers as well as possible. Remove top piece of parchment and discard. Sprinkle wrappers with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown, about 8 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and allow crackers to cool completely before removing from the sheet and serving.