In the world of addictive snacks (Snyder's Pretzel Pieces and Pringles to name a few) the bright orange cracker, Cheez-It, is high up there on the list of top 10. They're just the right amount of cheese flavor and too much salt. There's just one problem: too much processed food is never a good idea.
That's why we were thrilled when our Senior Editor at HuffPost Taste came in with a bag of slightly spicy, homemade Cheez Its. They tasted even better than the store-bought kind -- meaning they're doubly addictive -- and the best part is that you can easily pronounce all the ingredients (meaning you can indulge in these crackers without worrying about growing a third eye).
When Cheez Its are homemade you can use whole wheat flour, like food blogger Cooking Ala Mel does, to make them a healthy snack. Mel's recipe uses real cheddar cheese but you can get fancy and try an aged variety or you can experiment with different cheeses like Parmesan or Gouda. You can also experiment with using chili flakes or other spices (even fresh horseradish!). Get the homemade Cheez It recipe and bake them up today. It's the greatest gift we could ever give you.
Want more baking pointers? We recommend these baking cookbooks.
Before I began to cook, I was an avid cookbook reader. I could flip through the same cookbook literally hundreds of times without getting bored. Family knew of my obsession and so for a birthday I was given "Artisan Baking." It's this book that got me from just looking at recipes to actually using them in the kitchen. The photos were amazing and the stories of the bakers inspiring -- so much so that you can't help but get your hands dusty with flour. To this day, I still use their pizza dough recipe. It's the best I've ever had. - Julie R. Thomson <strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Artisan-Baking-Maggie-Glezer/dp/1579652913/&tag=aolfood-20" target="_hplink">Artisan Baking</a> at Amazon, $15.45 </strong>
Donna Hay: Modern Classics Book 2
I learned about this book while helping out in a professional bakery kitchen. My friend, the owner, is a perfectionist in every right -- so the fact that she trusted these recipes said a lot. The day I tasted this book's heavenly cream filling, which is jammed between two layers of melting moments cookies, I went straight home and ordered the book (and then proceeded to put the cream filling on <em>everything</em>). These recipes are "basics," but because Donna Hay is Australian they'll still introduce you to new ideas that you may not find in a typical American kitchen. - Kristen Aiken <b><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Modern-Classics-Book-Biscuits-Cookbooks/dp/0060525894/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335365837&sr=1-6/&tag=aolfood-20" target="_blank">Modern Classics Book 2</a> at Amazon, $16.41</b>
Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America's Best Bakers
I grew up watching Julia Child's many cooking shows on PBS during the 90s, so it was inevitable that one day I'd end up using her books. The companion book to the series "Baking with Julia" is one of my favorites. It's chock full of some of the most amazing and impressive baked goods, desserts and confections you will ever see. It's edited by baking doyenne Dorie Greenspan and the recipes are from some of the best bakers and pastry chefs around. Even when I'm not baking a recipe from the book, I'm always referring to it just for the great tips and tricks. - Joseph Erdos <strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Baking-Julia-Savor-Americas-Bakers/dp/0688146570/&tag=aolfood-20" target="_hplink">Baking with Julia</a> at Amazon, $23.58</strong>
Leaving aside the precious title, my entire bread making experience has been dictated by the signature no-knead technique captured in this book. The resulting breads are incredibly gratifying and easily replicable. I'd like to try traditional knead-intensive bread making at some point, but with this book I'm not really sure I need to. - Colin Sterling <a href="http://www.amazon.com/My-Bread-Revolutionary-No-Work-No-Knead/dp/0393066304/&tag=aolfood-20" target="_hplink">My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method</a> at Amazon, $17.66
Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours
I love baking with whole wheat and whole grains; and the book takes a rustic no fuss approach to baking with whole grains. Gorgeous photos don't hurt either! - Amanda Heckert <strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Good-Grain-Baking-Whole-Grain-Flours/dp/1584798300/&tag=aolfood-20" target="_hplink">Good to the Grain</a> at Amazon, $19.77</strong>
Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
The term "handbook" is a little misleading. Sure, this book breaks down the basics of baking, offering helpful step-by-step instructions that can ease even the most timid baker. But it's also got more advanced and complex recipes like Banana Caramel Cake with Mascarpone Frosting (which has gotten me through more than a few bad days) and a gorgeous Nectarine Tart that's designed to look like flower petals. -Kristen Aiken <b><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Martha-Stewarts-Baking-Handbook-Stewart/dp/0307236722" target="_blank">Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook</a>at Amazon, $25.86</b>
King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking
If you're a fan of baking, you've definitely made your fair share of just plain ol' unhealthy treats. This cookbook lets you indulge in your love of mixing butter and sugar, but gives you the ability to call it healthy. Every recipe comes out amazing, but the Pain aux Noix is out of this world. - Julie R. Thomson <strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Arthur-Flour-Whole-Grain-Baking/dp/0881507199/&tag=aolfood-20" target="_hplink">King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking</a> at Amazon, $20.21 </strong>
Baking: From My Home To Yours
I wrote an entire <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/03/dorie-greenspan_n_1253820.html" target="_blank">ode to this book</a> on Valentine's Day, proclaiming my love for Dorie's perfectly reliable recipes, her drool-inducing photography and her contagious love for all things baked. This book isn't just a great standby -- it's also inspiring enough to get you excited about getting elbow-deep in flour. <b><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Baking-From-My-Home-Yours/dp/0618443363" target="_blank">Baking: From My Home To Yours</a> at Amazon, $26.40</b>
Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook
Their pancake recipe is one of my favorites! - Amanda Heckert <strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Clinton-St-Baking-Company-Cookbook/dp/B0062GJNGI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1335376283&sr=1-1/&tag=aolfood-20" target="_hplink">Clinton Street Baking Company</a> at Amazon, $10.22</strong>
Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day
While I'm a strong defender of keeping to traditions, this book makes good bread easily accessible... in just five minutes time. It's true, the results aren't exactly as you'd get with a slowly risen dough, but they're pretty close -- and when you take a freshly baked loaf out of the oven, people won't notice the difference. The trick here is to amp up the yeast; it truly works. - Julie R. Thomson <strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Artisan-Bread-Five-Minutes-Revolutionizes/dp/0312362919/&tag=aolfood-20" target="_hplink">Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day</a> at Amazon, $15.99</strong>
Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook
Martha is always an old standby in my house. I received this as a gift from a family member nine years ago. I make 25 varieties of cookies each year for Christmas and then pass out large trays to family and friends. I use quite a few recipes from this book in addition to family recipes. - Amanda Heckert <strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/Martha-Stewart-Living-Christmas-Cookbook/dp/1400050375/&tag=aolfood-20" target="_hplink">The Martha Stewart Living Christmas Cookbook</a> at Amazon, $35.40</strong>
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