Almond and Toasted Oat Jam Bars (Vegan)

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I frequently put baked goods in the freezer, less so because I’m being organized and planning for a later date, and more so because then I can’t eat them all at one time. 

Thankfully, this works well for certain things, including the giant bag of cheese curds my friend gave me the other day because #wisconsin. It does not, however, work well with others, most notably these oat and jam bars, which are maybe even more delicious cold. Just a pro-tip for you. 

There are three components of these bars. First is the base, a sort of almond-coconut oil shortbread situation that’s nutty and crumbly and tender. Then comes the jam. Pick whatever type you want! Something sweet, something tart, all depends on you/your pantry. Fun fact: the kind I used was a strawberry jam I made with beer in it, because now that I live in Milwaukee I have to put beer in everything or else they’ll kick me out. (In case you’re wondering it is super delicious and if you’re nice maybe I’ll give you some because I canned way too many jars of it.)

Last is the oat layer. The quirk here is that we’re using quick oats, not regular. That’s because this isn’t a crumble or streusel situation in which the oats make chunks. Instead, the oats make a flat, full layer that toasts on top of the jam and is oh-so-good. If all you’ve got are regular oats, just give them a quick whirl in the food processor and you’re good to go!

These bars, in my opinion, might be the perfect snack situation. Sweet without a ton of sugar, full of whole grains without being dense, and much more complex than regular granola bars, they’ve got everything you could want. Plus you can always eat them straight from the freezer.

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Oh! Also something important to remember, from my absolute favorite writer: Things Trump Hasn’t Ruined Yet because good golly do we need a reminder.

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Cacao Rye Cookies

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When I studied abroad in Copenhagen, I ate rye bread almost every day because ~cultural immersion~

Which should be the segue into this recipe, except let’s be real, these cookies don’t taste anything like rye bread. Rye bread is dense and sour and funky and chewy. 

These taste like brownies. 

So no, the inspiration for these cookies did not come from Denmark. More like the bag of rye flour in my cupboard that I found on the cheap at the store and decided to buy because maybe I should eat something that’s not wheat flour every meal. I don’t know. I’ll still eat all the bread. And because this is America, it isn’t rye. 

Much better to pair that stuff with chocolate (whoops, sorry, cacao) and call it a day. Obviously. 

Side note: Are you confused about the difference between cocoa and cacao like I was until a few minutes ago when I googled it? Let me save you a trip down the search engine rabbit hole and enlighten you: They both come from the cacao bean that’s used to make chocolate, but cacao is the raw, least processed form. Which means that its much higher in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals (especially magnesium!). Cocoa, on the other hand, is heated to a higher temperature during processing, so it loses some of that good stuff. Which doesn’t meant that it’s not good for you! It’s just not as raw or full of nutrients as cacao. 

In other words, feel absolutely free to use cocoa here if you don’t have/can’t find cacao. Or if you don’t want to sound like a snob by calling these cacao cookies instead of regular old cocoa ones. 

Also, don’t be intimidated by the rye flour. Or be tempted to sub it out for all-purpose. It is, in my opinion, the very reason these cookies are so good and deep and flavorful and rich. Trust.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Meringues + Hi Again

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Hey. 

Remember that time I went almost a whole year without posting? 

That was super fun, right? Kind of mysterious. 

You’re right. Mainly neglectful and lazy. And mainly the result of prioritizing senior year of college over, you know, basically anything else. 

But hey! Now I’m graduated and have moved to Wisconsin for a year, a wild northern land where people say “bag” weird and I don’t know anyone else. Which means my lack of a social life will result in a whole lot of baking. So might as well start sharing it here again. 

(Lord knows if this will become a regular thing again, so let’s just take things slow, shall we?)

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Anywayyyyyyy…

Meringues are always my go-to when I want to bake but have no ingredients/motivation/internet to look up recipes. We’ve already added nut butter to them…so why not nut butter powder?! 

These are made with peanut butter powder, an actual terrible substitute for real peanut butter when mixed with water, but a great way of adding peanut flavor when mixed with anything else! Here, it gives all the nutty goodness without messing with the delicate balance of the meringue by adding a ton of fat. 

I also added chocolate chips, because obviously.

So to recap…we took already great meringues and added PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE. 

Yup, done. 

By the way, yes I did eat the entire batch of these meringues, so that should tell you how good they are ~slash~ how much social anxiety I have about meeting my new neighbors and dumping baked goods on them. All in good time, right?

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Vanilla Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting

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This recipe started not with the cupcakes, as a matter of fact, but with the frosting. A while ago I was in charge of bringing a dessert to a big family dinner. I was planning on making a strawberry tart…except the pastry cream didn’t set. It didn’t set. And with approximately five minutes until I had to leave the house, I had an empty (and still slightly warm) tart shell, a handful of strawberries, and a bowlful of soupy milk that was definitely not pastry cream.

It was at this point that I remembered this instant chocolate mousse, and with some very enthusiastic yelling from my sister, whisked enough cocoa powder, sugar, and milk together to make a pretty decent tart filling. And then it occurred to me the next day…this might make a pretty decent cupcake frosting too.

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Turns out it makes an even better than decent cupcake frosting; in fact, it’s thick and smooth and rich enough to be pretty similar to chocolate ganache, except a whole lot easier to make and probably better for you too.

As for the cupcakes, the only giveaway that they’re any healthier than most is that slightly darker coloring from the coconut sugar. Otherwise they’re just as light and fluffy and moist as any regular recipe, but much more high vibe.

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I don’t make a lot of cupcakes, much less over the top ones like so many others, and I’m definitely not too skilled at decorating them. These aren’t “Strawberry Margarita Cinco De Mayo” cupcakes or “Death by Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl with Cinnamon Cookie Crumb” cupcakes either. They’re just a plain vanilla cupcake with a dreamy chocolate frosting, and I’m just gonna stop there.

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Straight Up Blueberry Pie

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During the Olympics one year, my 1st grade class had a little competition. Every student picked a country, hung a construction paper version of their flag from the ceiling, and each time that country won a medal, they got to glue a little gold, silver, or bronze circle onto the back. Naturally, I picked Greece as my country. The only problem?

It was the Winter Olympics.

My poor little flag hung bare for the entire two weeks. Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure the lucky little punk who wound up with the USA had to start putting medals on the front of their flag because they ran out of room.

This Olympics is much more fun. I hope you’re watching. Are you watching? You better be watching.

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I’m trying to think about how to tie in blueberry pie to the most famous international sports competition in the world, and as I type this I realize I absolutely should have added strawberries for some hard core red-white-and-blue action. Dammit.

Even with just blueberries, though, this pie is stellar.

(But if you make this in the next week and a half, you really should add the strawberries)

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It’s a pretty standard fruit pie recipe: berries, sugar to taste, cornstarch to thicken, some lemon for brightness, and a pinch of cinnamon for a little something extra. Nothing unnecessary, or any funky ingredient to throw you off. It’s just a straight up blueberry pie, and it’s a classic.

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So it turns out glass bowls are not heatproof. I feel like this is something I definitely should have known… yet I still found myself with a shattered pile of glass and a saucepan full of eggs, sugar, and the leftover water from a double boiler still simmering away while trying to make this cake.

Just add it to the long(ish) list of kitchen utensils I’ve ruined attempting to bake.

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As you can see, round two was much more successful. This was my first time making a cake in a 6-inch pan, and it made me wonder why I’ve taken so long to downsize. It’s so much more practical when there aren’t a ton of people to feed! Not to mention very cute.

There aren’t really too many plain cake recipes like this around here because, truth be told, I don’t make them that often. I come from much more of a pie family, and I can hardly remember ever making an actual cake to celebrate a birthday. But! Then I read about a Hot Milk Cake, which sounded so exciting I decided I had to try it.

Turns out making a Hot Milk Cake is almost exactly like making most cakes…but that cake turns out pretty freaking delicious so it’s okay with me.

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I was originally going to top this with some plain whipped cream, buuuuuut we didn’t have any, so greek yogurt frosting it was. The trick here is to add a bit of coconut oil, which typically isn’t present in greek yogurt frosting. But it makes the frosting that much richer and firms up in the fridge, creating a much thicker icing to top your cake. All that’s left to do is throw on a handful of blueberries (or really, any other berry you can get your hands on), and you’re all set!

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Easier Than Pie Plum Crumble

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Pies are fun. They really are. I like making them and I like eating them. But good grief sometimes they’re just a hassle. Making two crusts and chilling them and trying to keep the bottom crust from getting soggy. Then rolling and crimping and egg washing. Much easier to just dump some oats on top of your fruit and call it a day.

In fact, if you don’t make a crumble this summer, you’re wrong.

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Buy a bunch of stone fruits. Chop them up and cover them with oats and throw them in the oven. Fire up the grill. Set the table outside. Scoop too big servings of crumble. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

That last one is mandatory. Just FYI.

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What you’re going to do is toss together some sliced plums (or other stone fruit of your choice) in a pie plate– no need to dirty an extra bowl. Add some sugar for a bit of sweetness, lemon and cinnamon for flavor, and cornstarch to thicken things up so your filling isn’t runny. Top it all with a mix of oats, walnuts, and honey. It’s like pie…except a whole heck of a lot easier.

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Magic 3 Ingredient Instant Chocolate Mousse

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I apologize that this recipe looks almost exactly like the espresso granita I posted a few weeks ago.

Except actually no I don’t because it’s magical and incredible and you deserve to have it in your life right now.

There’s something to be said for quick, on-the-fly recipes that put dessert in your stomach in less time than it takes to preheat an oven. This mousse, however, might be the most ultimate version around. Because literally all you do is stir together cocoa powder (splurge on the good stuff!), sugar, and almond milk. Throw in a pinch of salt if you feel like it.

And that’s it. No chilling required, no heating on the stove top or even in the microwave. You don’t need to dirty a whisk if you don’t feel like it, and you can forget about needing a food processor or blender. I told you– magic.

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There are a lot of ways I could describe this mousse, most of them slightly uncomfortable. Thick, luscious, dreamy, rich, decadent… I think you get the picture. It’s as good if not better than any other kind I’ve had. Basically, it’s a dream! Both taste-wise and preparation-wise.

A quick note: this is a very dark, chocolatey mousse that’s just barely sweet. Feel free to add more sugar than what’s called for if you want to sweeten it further. Also, because there are so few ingredients, the cocoa powder you choose will determine the ultimate flavor of your dessert. So pick a good quality kind! (I got mine from the bulk bin section at Whole Foods, just a heads up).

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The following recipe makes two servings, enough for you and a friend… or just you. But you can easily scale up to feed a crowd!

This takes approximately 5 seconds to make and uses ingredients you likely already have around. In other words, you have no excuse not to make this right now.

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