Banana Oat Cookie Sandwichs

Photo courtesy of Jessica Murnane

Lately I’ve been experimenting with my diet to omit milk and dairy as I believe they might be upsetting little EJ’s stomach.  And I remembered these cookie sandwiches that my sister (a newly transitioned vegan from vegetarian) shared with me at her last visit.  Being vegan, they naturally don’t contain any dairy and since I’ve been running out of foods to eat (or at least, ideas), I gave this recipe a try.  — and doubled it straight off the bat.  Luckily it doubles easily which made 15 sandwiches.

At first I thought they would take so much time and effort to put together, but after reading the recipe, they are just like Vegan Muffins, with one extra step: assembling the sandwiches.  The frosting is thick, so I recommend using a knife to scoop and spread it (instead of a spoon, like I first tried).

I had a tablespoon or two of filling left over so I would say be generous when frosting the first cookie.  They taste so much better with lots of that cocoa flavor, too 🙂

Here’s the recipe.  Let me know if you try it and how you like them!

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More Granola: Maple Cinnamon

While in search of the perfect granola recipe for us, I discovered Sarah’s blog through Liesl’s 3 Question series.

Yesterday I tried her recipe for Maple Cinnamon Granola with only slight hesitation at the inclusion of cinnamon.  I’ve been looking for a healthy, tasty granola to pair nicely with my homemade yogurt & a drizzle of honey (my favorite snack ever!) and the idea of cinnamon just didn’t seem to fit the bill – at least in my mind.  I’ve always thought of cinnamon as more a holiday flavor and pairing with sugar & sweets.  But I decided to try it anyway since my last two batches have been quite dull in flavor.  I also omitted the water she called for and added an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract instead.  🙂

Fresh out of the oven & cooling.

So far the flavor is smokey & delicious (I licked the spoon after pouring it into the baking sheet) and the sweet maple aroma is just starting to waft from the oven.  I’m so excited to try this latest batch with my yogurt.  The only downside is I’m almost out of dried cherries!

Recipe:
5 cups rolled thick oats
2 Tbs whole flax seed
2 Tbs wheat bran
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted almonds (I would have added a whole cup but this is all I had today)

1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup applesauce, homemade so it has a few chunks in it
3 tsp vanilla extract

Mix oats, flax, wheat bran, cinnamon, salt & almonds together in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix syrup, applesauce and vanilla together.  Pour wet over dry ingredients, being sure the oats are fully coated.  Pour onto a greased baking sheet in an even layer.  Bake at 325*F for about 30 minutes (until oats are golden brown & no longer wet), stirring about every 10 minutes.

While cooling, add in 1 1/2 cups unsalted peanuts and 1 cup dried cherries.  Stir occasionally while cooling.  Store in an airtight container.

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Stuffed Peppers & Venison Chili

I swear this isn’t a food blog, but apparently I’ve been doing a lot of cooking & baking lately and they are all new recipes that I just have to share!  Plus I figured most of you might be interested to try some of these recipes as I always love reading yours.

Last week I made, for the second time, stuffed peppers from a pin (my first time actually using Pinterest to cook!  I have more recipes pinned here).  Both Dan & I LOVED how the stuffing turned out so well, that we made it again, even though we didn’t have bell peppers to stuff, haha.  It makes a great tortilla chip dip as well as a topping over rice!  Plus the ground turkey helps get my protein numbers up and keep my carbs down.  And you can throw in whatever veggies you have on hand, which makes this a great recipe for cleaning out the fridge! 😉

Pepper Stuffing
1 lb. ground turkey, browned
1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (15oz) beans, drained & rinsed (I used Great Northern Beans)
1/2 bag frozen corn (you could probably throw the whole bag in, I was saving half for the chili, below)
1/2 bell pepper, chopped (I sliced the other half for eating with hummus)
1/4 c diced onion

I didn’t measure out my seasonings, just started sprinkling them on.  Here is what I used:
chili powder
cumin
Mrs. Dash’s Chipotle seasoning
salt & pepper to taste

1. If you are planning to cook rice, start it first.  1 cup rice to 2 cups water.
2. Brown the turkey in a large skillet.  Drain and return to low heat.  Stir in tomatoes, beans, corn, bell pepper, & onion.  Add seasonings.  Allow to simmer until onions become translucent and everything is heated through.

Serve over or mixed with rice, top with Mexican cheese, and scoop with tortilla chips.  Or maybe make a plate of tortilla chips on the bottom and spoon the stuffing on top, then sprinkle with cheese and microwave for 30-60 seconds to melt the cheese.  Yummy goodness!

This makes quite a few servings so we normally divy it up into small glass-lock containers to be used for packed lunches (rice & cheese are warmed up & added at serving time).

My other new recipe is Venison Chili which we made in the Crock pot.  I apologize I didn’t get any pictures of this one.  My husband gobbled it up within 2 days!

2 lb. ground venison, browned
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes
1 bag of frozen corn  (I ended up using 1 1/2 bags)
1 can (15 oz) of beans, drained & rinsed
1 glove of garlic, minced
1 can (6oz) of tomato paste + 24oz of water thoroughly mixed

*All seasonings are approximate as they were added at the beginning, sparingly, and more was added toward the end of cooking time by my hubby.  So I recommend using these amounts as jumping off points and just season to taste.*
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp red cayenne
2 tsp basil
salt & pepper
garlic powder
onion powder
Mrs. Dash Chipotle seasoning

1. Brown venison.
2. Mix tomato paste & water in a separate pot.
3. In the crockpot combine all ingredients.  Add seasonings and stir everything together.
Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Serve with crackers.

Let me know how you like these recipes.  What variations did you make?  I’d love to hear about them!

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First Homemade Granola

Loose granola has been on my DIY list ever since I discovered how much I like it with yogurt.  Especially greek yogurt.  Now, I can finally say I made some!

I used this recipe as a base for my jumping off point.

In a large bowl, I mixed together:
3c rolled oats (because I didn’t have old fashion)
1/2c unsalted peanuts
1/2c unsalted almonds
2 Tbs flax seeds (mine are whole, but most recipes call for ground flax)

In a separate measuring cup, I used the microwave to assist melting together:
1/4c applesauce (mine is homemade, so I know it is only apples & a dash of water)
1/4c peanut butter

Then stirred in:
1 1/2 Tbs honey
**I wanted to include 1-2 tsp vanilla extract but I forgot to add it.

I poured the melted mixture over the dry ingredients and mixed until fully coated.

Spread out on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  The thinner the better.  It will roast a little quicker, especially at the edges so be sure to “stir” or disturb it so as to work the edge pieces toward the middle and vice versa.

Bake at 300-350*F, setting the timer for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, give it a good stir and bake another 10 minutes.  My first batch was thicker so I baked it for 10+10+5 (25 minutes).  The second batch was much thinner, baking for 10+10 (20 minutes).

Allow to cool (I only had enough parchment for one baking sheet so I cooled the first batch in a glass bowl) and mix in:
1/2 – 3/4c dried cherries

After roasting and allowing the granola to cool, I can definitely tell it is missing some flavor.  I stirred in the dried cherries while it cooled which helped add a little zip to it, but I think 2 tsp or 1 Tbs vanilla extract would really help bring out some more flavor in this granola.

Now I’m off to try a cup of homemade yogurt with some of this new granola.  🙂

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Today’s Baked Goods: Banana Breads

Yay for another successful baking day!

Last week I whipped up 2 loaves of Pumpkin Bread and a batch of Vegan Banana Muffins for Daniel’s co-workers.

Today I wasn’t quite feeling the excitement to bake, but all those delicious goodies were already eaten up & I was craving another slice. (1 loaf for us, 1 loaf to our neighbor; muffins to work and the rest to my vegan sister while she was visiting from Chicago).

So, with only 3 eggs left in the fridge, I decided Banana Bread & more Vegan Banana Muffins would stretch those eggs and use up what was left of the frozen bananas.  Plus who doesn’t love having healthy snacks on hand?

Baibak Banana Bread
1/2 c butter (1 stick), softened
1/3 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 c mashed banana
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2c milk

Cream butter and sugar together.  Mix in eggs & mashed banana.  In a separate bowl sift flour and add baking soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture, alternating with milk.  Pour into a greased (I like to use butter) loaf pan and bake at 350*F for 50-60 minutes.  Test with toothpick for doneness.  Turn out and cool on a cooling rack.  Wrap and store in foil.
Makes approximately 12 slices, about 170 calories each.

Vegan Banana Muffins
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c rolled or quick oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c sugar
3 large, very ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 c applesauce
1 Tbs flax seed + 3 Tbs water
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Fill lined or greased muffin tins 3/4 full and bake at 375*F for 10-15 minutes.  Test with toothpick for doneness.
Makes 12 muffins.  Approx. 110 calories each.

Freezing Bananas – Purchase at rock-bottom price (i.e. reduced for quick sale because they are already ripe).  Peel, leaving banana whole, and drop into a gallon size, freezer-safe bag.  Label, and store in the freezer, ideally on its side until bananas are frozen.  As bananas go on sale, you can continually add to the contents.
When you are ready to use a banana for a recipe, simply take out the number needed and place into a mixing bowl to thaw, or you can warm them up in the microwave for 30 seconds on high.

Please let me know if you try a recipe & how you like it.  =)

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