Fruit and Oat Cookies

Fruit and Oat Cookies

Fruit and Oat Cookies

Have you ever wanted to make a quick cookie because guests were on their way? Or maybe you were craving something sweet now? These cookies fit both those requests, and they have very few ingredients so a swift run through the pantry and you are ready to bake. They come together so quickly that I had them ready before the oven came up to temp, and that never happens.

I didn’t have to make any changes for vegan or high altitude, so I let my creativity run with the ingredients. The original recipe contained dates but I used dried apricots, cherries and blueberries for more depth of flavor. You could try any dried fruit, such as cranberries or currants for a tart twist. To add even more layers of flavor, I added spices, but including spiced applesauce would make it simpler. So, not only are these treats easy but they are healthy and will satisfy my gluten free friends, too.

Fruit and Oat Cookies based on Banana-Oatmeal Snack Cookies
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup finely ground walnuts
1/2 cup finely chopped dried fruit (such as apricots, cherries and blueberries)
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine bananas, applesauce, oats, walnuts, dried fruit and spices in a bowl until evenly blended. Using a 1 TBS scoop, scoop out cookies and place on prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with a spatula. Bake 30 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to one week. Makes 18-20 cookies.

Until next time, happy baking!

Berry Chocolate Bundles

Berry Chocolate Bundles

Berry Chocolate Bundles

When I get together to see friends I always bring a tasty treat. A gluten free pal and I were going to the movies but it was too hot to whip something up using the oven. We both love dark chocolate, so I found a recipe that was no bake and gluten free and loaded with chocolate. If you take this with you when going out I do have a recommendation – have wet naps nearby. Movie theaters hate when you leave sticky chocolate handprints on their seats.

This recipe was already vegan and didn’t require high altitude baking, so it was a snap to prepare. The only change I made was to add more berries and a variety of them. They are delicious superfoods so I figured it was a good idea. As a matter of fact, all of the ingredients below are superfoods. So, indulge away.

Berry Chocolate Bundles adapted from Cherry Chocolate Almond Clusters
8 oz dark chocolate, broken or chopped into small pieces
1 TBS creamy unsalted almond butter 
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/3 cup raw unsalted almonds, chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries and blueberries, chopped
To a heat-proof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, add chocolate and almond butter. Stir occasionally for 2-3 minutes, until chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and stir in oats, almonds and dried berries. Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in refrigerator until set, 20-25 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Lavender Granola

Lavender Granola

Lavender Granola

My usual breakfast of oatmeal with nut butter and fruit was getting old. It needed a facelift, and I remembered that I used to love granola when I was in college. The brand I ate had dried blueberries and oats and it got me through many a sleepy morning. I gathered up bits and pieces of many granola recipes I found, but especially liked one that included lavender. That would add something different to breakfast and make granola more decadent.

Granola is inherently vegan, unless it has honey, so no changes were made for that. It also doesn’t have high altitude issues. The only changes made to the ingredients are by you when you bake it. Pick any nuts and seeds, leave out the lavender, choose your favorite dried fruit. It all works. For baking the granola, I discovered a variety of cooking styles: higher temp, lower temp, stir, don’t stir. I went with the directions given by Alton Brown because he’s a food scientist so I imagine he’s worked his recipe to perfection. All I know is that it smelled heavenly while it baked and I couldn’t wait for morning.

Lavender Granola
2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free, if desired)
3/4 cup nuts (I used almonds, cashews and walnuts)
1/2 cup seeds (I used hemp and pumpkin)
2 TBS amaranth
2 TBS flax seeds, ground
3 TBS lavender flowers, food-grade
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup vegan margarine or coconut oil, melted
3/4 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used blueberries)
Preheat oven to 250F. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, seeds, amaranth, flax seeds, lavender, cinnamon and cardamom. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, margarine, vanilla and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color. Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add dried fruit and mix until evenly distributed. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

Holiday Fruited Muffins

holiday fruit muffins’Tis the season for fruitcake, although I’m not a big fan. The jewel-toned rum-soaked fruit frightens me. But in the spirit of dried fruit studded bread, I went searching for an alternative. Thus, I give you my homage to holiday fruitcake, in muffin form.

I found a recipe for a bread that contained both dried and fresh fruit with the idea that the fresh fruit would lighten it. I then changed it up so the fresh to dried ratio was higher. For altitude I added a bit of flour and reduced the leaveners. For dryness at altitude I added more milk. Then, to combat the possibility of collapse, I made them into muffins.

Holiday Fruited Muffins loosely adapted from Peaceful Dumpling
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup + 1 TBS all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
dash salt
3 TBS sucanat
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 small apple, cored and cut into small chunks
4 Medjool dates, pitted and cut into small pieces
1/3 cup dried blueberries
1 cup + 2 TBS non-dairy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Heat oven to 350F and line a muffin tin with paper liners that have been lightly sprayed with oil. In a bowl, mix together milk and vinegar and let sit. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sucanat, and spices. Add apple, dates, and blueberries. Add sour milk to flour bowl and quickly combine. When just combined, transfer to muffin tin. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Makes 1 dozen.

Until next time, happy baking!

Custom Granola Bars

granola barsI know granola bars aren’t a decadent baked treat, but now that I have made them I can say I won’t be buying them in the store. They are like rice krispy treats – you melt some stuff, add some stuff to it, and put it in a pan. You do have to actually bake granola bars, but the oven really does that work. And once you’ve made rice treats you would (probably) never buy them. You know yours are better. Same with granola bars.

Admittedly, my first attempt was more granola than granola bar, but it tasted great over yogurt. Then I realized that I needed more of a ‘spackle’ so I tweaked a few things and got a bar that held together. There are no tips for baking at altitude because it wasn’t a factor; the only consideration was the lack of humidity requiring spackle because the mix was a bit dry. But the best part – I used ingredients I had on hand. I chose the nuts and fruit I like, with added chocolate, and I didn’t include yucky things like high fructose corn syrup. Here comes breakfast.

Custom Granola Bars based on a recipe by Dale Pinnock in The Medicinal Chef
2 TBS agave syrup
4 TBS coconut oil
3 TBS almond butter
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 TBS flax seeds, ground
2 cups rolled oats
1 TBS pumpkin seeds
2 TBS chopped dried cherries
2 TBS chopped dates
2 TBS chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease an 8×8″ pan. Melt agave syrup, coconut oil, almond butter and cinnamon together over gentle heat in a pan. Remove from heat and add flax seeds. Combine oats, pumpkin seeds, cherries, dates and chocolate chips in a bowl. Pour almond butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to form a sticky mixture. Press mixture firmly into the prepared pan.
Bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars. Will keep for up to a week when stored in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

Fruit and Oat Bars

fruit and oat barsThis recipe was inspired by a trip to the farmer’s market. I purchased several jars of unusual flavored jams but couldn’t figure out what to do with them. Then I decided that I could incorporate all of them as a distinct filling for oat bars.

I found a recipe that was already vegan, so I only had to add a few modifications. To increase flour for high altitude and give more protein for structure, I swapped out a small amount of flour for almond flour. For health benefits, I used coconut sugar instead of some brown sugar.

Now the fun began – playing with flavor combinations. I used 2 oz each of seedless marionberry, elderberry, wild cactus, and rose petal jams. When I added the marionberry and elderberry jams, I sprinkled only those flavors with chocolate chips. With the wild cactus and rose petal jams, I sprinkled them with cardamom before adding the topping. So grab all of those partially eaten jars of jam from the fridge and get started.

Fruit and Oat Bars adapted from Earth Balance Raspberry Lemon Bars
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 less 2 TBS cup all-purpose flour
2 TBS almond flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed down
11 TBS vegan margarine, cold
8 oz jam, one or several flavors
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 TBS coconut sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3 TBS chocolate chips
Toast oats and almonds on separate pans in 350F oven for 8 minutes. Remove from trays to cool. In a food processor, pulse together cooled oats, flours, flax seed, brown sugar and margarine until just mixed and crumbly. Reserve 3/4 cup of crust mixture and press remainder firmly into the bottom of an 8 x 8″ pan that has been lined with non-stick foil. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes.
While the crust is baking, warm jam in a hot water bath made by heating a small amount of water in a large pan and gently warming the jars of jam. When the crust is out of the oven, spread sections of jam across the crust. To make the topping, pulse the toasted almonds in a food processor along with the reserved crust mixture, coconut sugar, and salt. Sprinkle topping and chocolate chips over jam and press to adhere. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes or until filling is bubbling and topping is browned. Place on a rack and cool completely. Use foil to remove from pan and slice into bars. Store in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!