Super Easy Oatmeal Cookie Granola Bars

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Hey there. I’m sorry it’s been a while. But when the house you’re subletting for the summer has a communal kitchen that remains perpetually dirty, is full of empty beer cans, and smells like weed, you don’t really get around to baking too often. Plus, I’m in Washington DC for the summer, which means there are way more cool things to be doing in my free time. Like my first ever major league baseball game (!)

Which is how these crazy simple granola bars came about. Everything just gets thrown together until it all starts to stick. Press your mixture into a pan. Chill in the refrigerator. Slice, serve, and eat two bars at a time. Obviously.

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These bars are made up of some pretty basic components: whole grains, healthy fats, and natural sweeteners. I opted for a combination of oats and quinoa flakes as a base, as well as sunflower seeds and almond butter. But feel free to mix things up— any nut or seed butter will do, and dried fruits or other mix-ins are always welcome (throw in some chopped chocolate… you know you want to).

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While they stick together quite nicely, these aren’t the sturdiest of bars. Throw them in a bag at the beginning of the day for a snack later on, and you’re likely to be left with a plastic bag full of smushed granola pieces (equally delicious, but still). So keep that in mind.

As far as granola bars go, these are just about the most simple to prepare that you’re going to find. I mean honestly, they don’t even require an oven! And I haven’t really run any official price comparison or anything, but I’d be willing to guess they’re a lot cheaper than any store-bought variety as well (tip: use the bulk bin to save $$$… it’s ridiculously awesome).

Oh, and did I mention they’re delicious? Because they’re really, really delicious.

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Black Raspberry and Honey Eton Mess

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It’s summertime. Do you really want to turn on that oven?

Do you want to stand over a hot stovetop?

And let’s be real, do you even want to take the time to measure out ingredients?

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I hope you answered no to all of these questions. If you didn’t, you’re doing summer wrong. And that’s a personal problem you need to fix as soon as possible.

Naturally, the best way to avoid all these summertime annoyances is to make eton mess. In case you’re not familiar, eton mess is basically a dessert made up of whipped cream, crushed meringues, and some form of fruit. In this version, I used some black raspberries that I found tucked away in the freezer section at the grocery store and added a spoonful of honey to the mix for a touch of added sweetness and more complexity. And also because I’m obsessed with honey.

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As you likely know, quality honey is important for so many different reasons, including both health and taste. Luckily, I live near a whole store devoted to honey (!) from the Savannah Bee Company, and the variety and superb quality of honey available there just blows my mind. For this recipe, I used their Winter White Passion Fruit Honey (so dreamy) and it complemented the tartness of the raspberries perfectly, creating a stellar blend of flavors. Of course, any honey will do— just make sure it’s the best you can find!

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Though all the layers may look neat and impressive lined up in the jar, eton mess isn’t supposed to be pretty, at least not once you dig in and begin eating. There is a reason it’s called “mess” after all. Meringues get smothered in whipped cream, your four layers are ruined the second a spoon comes into play, and the whole thing winds up tinted a rather striking shade of purple before you’re even halfway done. It’s fun and it’s carefree and it’s delicious and it doesn’t require heat of any kind.

It’s summertime.

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2 Ingredient Whipped Ice Cream

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My dad asked for a shout out on the blog (because I think he likes to feel important), but in honor of a certain upcoming holiday, I’m going to do him one better. I’m going to give him whole paragraphs.

Hey Dad. How’s it going? I know we’re in different cities (again) and that you can’t wait for me to come home soon (again). And maybe you want me to come home mainly so that I can make you an apple pie for Father’s Day, because we all know Mom can’t be trusted to put enough apples in it, but that’s okay. I like making you apple pies. Especially because every time I do, you always say it’s the best one I’ve ever made (even though I use the exact same recipe every time). By now you’ve probably had Breakfast #1, and are gearing up to pretend to go to the gym while instead you go get a muffin and Breakfast #2. Please, you’re not fooling any of us.

I wish I was there to walk King St. with you. And to pretend to be embarrassed when you make your overly complicated order at Starbucks (I mean, it is kind of ridiculous). And to eat popsicles in the summer sun while you talk to anyone and everyone we come across. I think that would be a pretty swell way to kick off the week.

Oh, and Dad? Please get off Instagram. Thank you.

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As for the ice cream…well, it’s ridiculously simple, really. As someone terrified of egg tempering— primarily because I tried to do it once for an ice cream recipe and failed four straight times before I finally ran out of eggs and decided to make cookies instead—this is kind of a dream come true. It’s just two ingredients… and only 90 seconds of active time… and results in whipped, fluffy, light as air ice cream that’s basically frozen whipped cream.

And all made without any heavy cream whatsoever. 

Because apparently you can beat evaporated milk and it will thicken and expand and fill your bowl just like heavy cream. Who would have thought? Add some sugar (and vanilla if you choose), churn it up until it’s a dreamy soft serve that you could eat right then and there, stick it in the freezer, and you’ve got yourself a tub of light, creamy ice cream for as little work as you could ask for. And if that’s not perfect for summer, I don’t know what is.

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Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cake

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Things you don’t see on the blog:

The flaxseed I used in this cake was some hippie version with dried fruit in it so I had to go through and pick out tiny pieces of strawberry one by one.

When it came time to take this cake out of the pan, I realized that I hadn’t used parchment paper and so it took a good ten minutes of flipping and turning and carefully easing out this loaf inch by inch before I could free it from the pan in one piece.

To take these pictures, I had to scramble up to stand on a bar stool, where I lost my balance and nearly fell and broke my neck.

While carrying both this cake and a jar of lemon curd, I bent to pick something up and promptly dropped the jar, sending shard of glass flying and curd oozing everywhere (but who cares about the jar— I was heartbroken over the loss of perfectly good lemon curd).

The two things you should take away from this: 1) I’m pretty clumsy and 2) baking really isn’t all that glamorous. But more often than not, it results in things whose name contains both “chocolate” and “fudge,” so it’s pretty much always a win.

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Usually a flourless chocolate cake means a chocolate torte, full of butter and melted chocolate and all things good in the world. Or sometimes it involves subbing almond flour for the flour, a trick I’ve seen numerous times in order to yield a tender, delicate chocolate cake. In almost all instances, however, it does not mean using ground flaxseeds. Except today.

Much like the almond flour, flaxseeds make this cake soft, fudgy, and tender, almost like a pan of (underbaked) brownies made in a loaf pan. Then there’s the sweet potato puree, which both sweetens the cake and provides extra moisture so that it never evens comes close to being dry. I also highly recommend the chocolate chips— they really make the difference in this cake, and how could you resist little pockets of melted chocolate scattered throughout? I mean, honestly. 

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Oh, and if you want to add some chocolate frosting that you made with your leftover sweet potato puree?

Dooooo it

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Healthy Chocolate Mousse Frosting

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For a good four months now, I’ve been wanting to make a cake. A multi-layered, complicated, classy, darn good cake. Not just something simple like this lemon confection, but a cake for celebrating (celebrating what, exactly, I’m not entirely sure, but that’s beside the point). I wanted to separate eggs and fold in flour and even out layers and pile it all into something dreamy and over the top. The fact that I am hardly a qualified cake decorator didn’t matter. All I wanted to do was make a cake.

Except when I came home, and I had plenty of time and ingredients and access to my own kitchen, I didn’t make a cake. I made frosting instead. And now the jar full of chocolate icing in the fridge is almost gone without coming remotely close to anything made out of flour, sugar, and eggs.

Oops.

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But this frosting! It’s innovative and different and the ingredient list might give you a bit of a pause, which is totally understandable and normal because I had the same reaction too. I mean, dates? Coconut oil? Sweet potatoes??? Um, what?

But it all works, it does. After being whipped together in a blender or food processor, the resulting frosting is thick, light, and fudgy without the sickly sweetness of traditional buttercreams. In fact, I’d say it’s like a spreadable chocolate mousse. And for those of us who aren’t fans of crazy heavy and rich icings, that’s a total win.

DSC_0023Also… it turns out chocolate frosting isn’t nearly as hard to make more wholesome as you might think. We’ve already been around this block with this fudgy dark chocolate date icing and this vegan whipped chocolate fudge frosting. Check them out!

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Healthy Chocolate Mousse Frosting

adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:

1/3 cup cocoa powder
3 Tbs.coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup medjool dates, pitted
1/2 cup almond milk (or any other kind of milk)
2/3 cup sweet potato puree
2 Tbs. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and coconut oil until combine. In a high speed blender or food processor, blend together the dates and milk until smooth. Add the sweet potato puree, peanut butter, and vanilla and continue to blend until smooth. Finally, add the oil and cocoa mixture and blend until fully incorporated. Place mixture in a covered container and let chill in the fridge for at least two hours, where it will thicken up and achieve a frosting texture.

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Coconut Oil Brown Sugar Cookies

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I’ve got barbecue in my belly and palmetto trees outside my window… so in other words, I’m finally home. Summer is here and life is good and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with cookies.

Except for maybe with ice cream. Because 1) it’s ice cream, duh, and 2) good grief I forgot how hot South Carolina is. Can I get some iced sweet tea please?

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These cookies are a pretty simple one bowl situation, but there are a few things to keep in mind when making them. Number one is your coconut oil. You need your coconut oil to be solid but still soft, about the consistency of softened butter. This is because you’ll be creaming it together with the sugar much in the same way you would with butter in regular cookies, and if it’s liquid or rock hard this just won’t work.

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Also, this recipe calls for coconut sugar. I made these cookies once with all brown sugar, and then once with the coconut sugar… and the coconut sugar ones were waaaay better. They had such a deeper, tastier flavor that resulted in me eating about half the cookie dough before it even made it to the oven (but there aren’t any eggs so it’s totally acceptable, right?).

Finally, these (unfortunately) need a few hours to chill before baking. Otherwise the oil will result in them spreading too much and becoming thin and flat. But trust me, those two hours in the fridge are worth it; the resulting cookies are soft and chewy with perfectly crispy edges. Yes please!

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Coconut Oil Brown Sugar Cookies

adapted from Averie Cooks

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut oil, softened (softened to the consistency of soft butter; not rock hard and not runny or melted)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 coconut sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup spelt flour
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

In a large bowl, beat together the coconut oil and sugars on medium speed until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture becomes light and fluffy, about 2-3 more minutes. Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate.

Add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt and stir together by hand just until combined. Once a dough has been formed, make rounded balls with 1-2 tablespoons of dough and place them on a prepared baking sheet (or plate if your baking sheet won’t fit in the the fridge). Chill the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Once the cookies have chilled, bake them for 8-10 minutes. They may look underdone, but they will continue to bake and firm up so don’t over bake them. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before moving.

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Dark Chocolate, Blueberry, and Pecan Banana Bread

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I’ve talked with a lot of people recently who say that studying abroad has changed their lives. They learned things about themselves, or started seeing things from a new perspective, or found what they were passionate about, or finally felt like they were wholly themselves.

I’m leaving Denmark in a few days… and I still feel exactly like myself. I mean, I know way too much about the inner workings of the European Union thanks to my Euro Politics class, and I’ve consumed more than enough rye bread in the past four months. But did I learn anything essential about myself?

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I learned that just because a city is cold and gray all the time, that doesn’t mean it can’t take your breath away.

I learned the Danish population is way too attractive for their own good (like, seriously).

I learned how to navigate what felt like just about every mode of transportation on the European continent.

I learned that people really like it when you bake more often than a normal person should and leave cookies out in the kitchen for them to eat. I also learned that this can go a long way in making you friends.

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I’m not gonna lie… this business is good. It’s tasty and satisfying and just a little bit over the top. I mean, we could have just stopped after the blueberries. Or the pecans. Did we really need to throw chopped chocolate in too?

Of course we did. Come on now.

There’s a lot going on here: melty chocolate and crunchy pecans and gooey blueberries. Not to mention warm and comforting banana flavor for days. Needless to say, this bread is pretty darn addicting.

You would also have good reason to make it for the smell alone. If the scent of banana bread baking isn’t enough to make you happy, I don’t know what will. And it’s enough to make any place, even one you’ve only lived in four months and that you’ll be leaving in a few days time, feel like home.

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Dark Chocolate, Blueberry, and Pecan Banana Bread

adapted from this recipe

Ingredients: 

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cups almond milk
1/2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 bananas)
1/3 cup maple syrup (can also sub honey)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
100 grams chopped chocolate
a handful of chopped pecans
3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan*. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt). In a measuring cup or small bowl, stir together the almond milk and vinegar, then set aside to curdle. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the mashed bananas, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add the milk mixture and stir to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, then mix carefully until just combined, being careful not to over mix. Fold in the chocolate, pecans, and blueberries, being extra careful with the blueberries so that they won’t stain your bread blue. Spoon into prepared loaf pan, then bake for 50-55 minutes, until the top is browned and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

*The loaf pan I used was much longer, which is why my slices were shorter. I would recommend using 9×5 inch pan (a typical sized loaf pan) for larger, more regular slices.

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Raspberry Lemon Biscuits

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I used to think my cousin was crazy for turning 25 on her birthday three years in a row… until my own 20th birthday started rapidly approaching, and suddenly I understood just where she was coming from.

So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to turn 19 again this year. I’ll put off my twenties for a bit longer, if that’s alright, because I don’t think I’m ready to leave behind my teenage years quite yet.

Maybe it’s because a year of being nineteen has been so incredible. This past year, I’ve been the happiest I’ve ever been, so I’d like to keep this rad age going for as long as I can.

Also… I don’t think I have a twenty year old brain. Not yet, at least. I mean, aren’t twenty year olds supposed to have stuff figured out? At least a little bit? Because I still have to Google how to make rice at dinnertime. Wait, I’m definitely supposed to make a LinkedIn now, aren’t I?

Not cool.

So in honor of how very unimportant Saturday is actually going to be, I didn’t make a cake. Instead, I made biscuits. Take that, twenties.

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I think we can all agree that biscuits are fundamentally the best things ever. So obviously, throwing raspberries and lemons in them is only going to make an already great situation even better. Plus, look how pretty they are! And perfect for spring! (We’ll ignore the fact that I’m still wearing sweaters in Copenhagen even though it’s May).

Like previous biscuit recipes around these parts (including sweet potato, pumpkin, and classic), these are made with coconut oil, so make sure that it’s solid before you use it. Also, always remember to be careful, quick, and super gentle when patting out the dough and cutting the biscuits; otherwise they’ll be tough and dense and nobody wants that.

Happy (second) 19th birthday to me!

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Raspberry Lemon Biscuits

Makes about 10 biscuits

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup greek yogurt (for a vegan option, you can use any kind of vegan yogurt)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold solid coconut oil
2 tablespoons mashed banana (applesauce would likely work as well)
Zest of one lemon
1/2 cup frozen raspberries*

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450F. In a small bowl, stir together the milk, yogurt, and vinegar, then set aside for a few minutes to curdle.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Cut to coconut oil into chunks and sprinkle into the flour mixture; add the banana. Using a fork or your hands (I used my hands!) stir together the mixture and break up the coconut oil until it resembles the texture of course meal- there should still be visible chunks of coconut oil. Add in the lemon zest.

Add the milk mixture and mix just until combined. Carefully fold in the raspberries. Turn dough onto a floured surface and lightly pat it flat until about 1/2-inch thick.Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, make as many biscuits as you can. You can lightly knead any scraps together to make more biscuits, but they won’t be quite as fluffy as the first batch.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy!

*Using frozen raspberries ensures that they won’t get smushed while forming the dough, which also keeps your biscuits from becoming entirely pink. If you only have fresh raspberries, you can still use them, just be super careful with the dough!

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