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!

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Peach Streusel Muffins

Peach Streusel Muffins

Peach Streusel Muffins

This recipe was inspired by what I had in the cupboard and fridge. First I realized that I didn’t get blueberries at the store as planned for blueberry muffins. Then I saw that I had only a little non-dairy milk and vanilla. But the craziest thing was that I couldn’t find any flax seeds for a flax egg – they’ll probably fall at my feet tomorrow because I know they’re in there somewhere. I came across this recipe and saw that it could be adapted by what I had at hand and it gave me a chance to try chia egg as a replacer.

To make these vegan I used non-dairy milk, vegan margarine, and a chia egg for the non-vegan ingredients. For high altitude I added flour and milk and reduced baking powder. To make it healthier I used whole wheat instead of all purpose flour, and I made a streusel with dates instead of sugar. And, because I discovered I had frozen peaches, I used those for the fruit. The muffins turned out not too sweet and perfect for breakfast.

Peach Streusel Muffins adapted from Oatmeal Berry Streusel Muffins
for the streusel
1/4 cup oats
2 dates, pitted
1/8 cup walnuts
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
for the muffins
1 TBS chia seeds, ground
3 TBS warm water
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oat flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegan margarine, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 TBS non-dairy milk
1 cup fresh or frozen chopped peaches
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 12 cups of a muffin tin with paper liners. In a small bowl, whisk together chia seeds and warm water to make a chia egg. Set aside for 10 minutes to gel. In a food processor, pulse oats, dates, walnuts, and cinnamon until you have a crumbly texture. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, cream margarine and sugar. Beat in chia egg, vanilla and non-dairy milk, and mix well. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix until dry ingredients are just moistened. Gently fold peaches into batter.
Distribute batter evenly into muffin cups and top each with streusel. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Until next time, happy baking!

Raw Red, White and Blue Cheesecake

Raw Red, White and Blue Cheesecake

Raw Red, White and Blue Cheesecake

Lately it has been too hot to turn on the oven, but I had to make something patriotic for this week’s American Independence Day. My search came up with a no cook cheesecake with wonderful ripe summer fruit. It sounded like a perfect way to celebrate without heating up the kitchen or myself.

The recipe was already vegan, so that box was checked off. No bake meant no high altitude changes. So, to put my spin on the recipe, I made it a bit healthier by replacing white sugar with dates and agave syrup. I also made it multi-layer and added blueberries for the blue. I know they can look more purple than blue when blended, so I kept the blue holiday theme by arranging blueberries on top in the shape of a star.

Raw Red, White and Blue Cheesecake adapted from Raspberry Lemon Yogurt Cheesecake
2 cups plain, non-dairy yogurt
7 large dates
1.75 cups walnuts
1/4 cup agave syrup
1.5 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup + 10 fresh raspberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries, with extras for garnish
Place yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl. Let drain in fridge for 10 hours or overnight. Discard the strained liquid. Pour boiling water over dates and soak for 10 minutes. Drain and remove pits. Place dates in a food processor with walnuts. Mix until they come together in a sticky ball. Press this mixture into the bottom of an 8” springform pan. Place in refrigerator. In a bowl, stir together strained yogurt, agave, lemon juice and vanilla. Divide yogurt mixture into 3 equal portions and put each portion in its own bowl. Crush 1/2 cup of raspberries and stir into one of the bowls. Leave one bowl as is. Take the final bowl and put its contents in a blender. Blend with 1/2 cup of blueberries.
Slice the 10 raspberries. Remove crust from refrigerator and spoon in raspberry yogurt mixture. Scatter sliced raspberries over the top. Place cake in freezer for 10 minutes to help to keep the layers from blending together. Spoon in the plain layer. Place cake in freezer for 10 minutes. On the top, spoon in blueberry layer. Place remaining blueberries on top of cheesecake in a star pattern. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Until next time, happy non-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!

Savory Energy Bites

savory energy bitesI am a big fan of Chef Elizabeth Falkner. From my couch, I cheer on her creativity whenever she is in a cooking battle on TV. Coincidentally, I have tried many versions of Energy Balls. So when I saw a video of Chef Falkner demonstrating a recipe for an energy ball, I knew I had to make them, too. The thing that was most appealing is that many energy balls are overly sweet, but her version has a savory side that makes it a tasty snack and not just dessert.

To make it vegan I swapped out honey and used agave syrup instead, which I also think rounded out the savory flavors. Orange Flower Water is hard to come by, and a bit sweet itself, so I used orange juice in its place. I then mixed it up when rolling out the balls. I decided to roll some in sesame to add to the Moroccan theme, and also chose to roll others in cacao powder because, well, chocolate.

Savory Energy Bites adapted from Moroccan-Date Bonbons
1/2 cup + 2 TBS sliced almonds (2 1/2 oz)
1/2 cup shelled pistachios (2 oz)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (3 oz)
1 pound moist dates, pitted and chopped
4 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 TBS finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 TBS agave syrup
1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp fresh orange juice
1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Spread sliced almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 4 minutes, until golden. Let almonds cool completely. In a food processor, grind pistachios to a coarse powder. Transfer pistachio powder to a plate. Add toasted almonds to processor and grind to a coarse powder. Add walnuts, dates, olives, ginger, agave, orange zest, cinnamon, cardamom, orange juice and salt and process to a paste. Scoop up scant tablespoons of mixture and roll into balls. Roll balls in pistachio powder to coat them completely. Makes about 25 balls.

Until next time, happy non-baking!

Ginger Lollipops

ginger lollipopsIt’s almost Halloween and that means … candy! I know it’s not baking but I had never successfully made candy before and I like a challenge. I found a recipe using simple, natural ingredients (read – no corn syrup) so I gave it a whirl.

A few tips about candy making: 1) Set aside some time to make this and be patient. The process of heating the sugar mixture seems slow but it will happen. 2) Do not leave the pot unattended. I attempted candy making once years ago, but each time I did I got distracted and ruined it. My recent attempt at Halloween candy met with the phone ringing and then the door ringing seconds later. I was mere degrees from the correct temperature so I wisely ignored both. Shortly thereafter the honey smell became very strong and then instantly I hit the right temp. A few seconds later and it would have burned. 3) Wash the pot and utensils immediately after pouring the mixture into the molds. I washed the pot and thermometer quickly after pouring but I forgot the spoon for a few minutes. Getting the now-hard candy off of the spoon was more difficult than you would imagine. 4) This recipe makes 20 round lollipops, but molds vary. I had a tray with parchment paper at the ready for pouring out the overage. Do not use the extra to overfill the molds. Overly full molds are a pain to unmold.

In case you’re still wondering about cooking candy and not baking, I can let you know that my chocoholic taster was very enthused with the finished product in spite of the lack of chocolate.

Ginger Lollipops adapted from achs.edu
vegetable oil, to grease molds
candied ginger, chopped very fine
2 cups organic sugar
2/3 cups agave nectar
3/4 cup water
10 drops organic ginger (Zingiber officinale) essential oil
Use oil to grease lollipop molds. Drop a few pieces of candied ginger into each mold. Insert lollipop sticks and set aside. In a heavy-duty saucepan, combine sugar, agave and water. Insert candy thermometer, making sure not to touch bottom of pan. Cook at medium heat, stirring until ingredients are dissolved. Check pan occasionally to make sure mixture is not bubbling over.
Once thermometer reaches 300F, remove from stove. Once bubbling subsides, add ginger essential oil. Stir well. Pour mixture carefully into molds, making sure sticks remain secure. Let cool before removing from molds. (If lollipops are difficult to remove, briefly run hot water over back of mold tray.) Place in plastic bags or plastic wrap.

Until next time, happy un-baking!

Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chips

zucchini bread with chocolate chips and gingerI became a victim of an overabundance of zucchini. I also became a victim (or hero) of my baking science geekiness and picked up “Naturally Sweet” by America’s Test Kitchen. The cookbook analyzed familiar recipes and devised ways to make them with less sugar. One recipe in the book required baking with zucchini so I jumped at a chance to try it.

For high altitude I added more flour and less baking powder. I opted for applesauce as my vegan egg substitute because it would add in some moisture needed at high altitude. For a flavor boost I swapped the spices with ginger and the nuts with chocolate chips. The bread is loaded with zucchini but also low in sugar, so it’s good for you. Right?

Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chips adapted from Naturally Sweet
1 1/2 lbs zucchini, shredded
3/4 cups coconut sugar, plus 1 TBS for sprinkling
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350F. Grease a four-cavity mini loaf pan. Place zucchini in center of a dish towel. Gather ends together and twist tightly to drain as much liquid as possible. Discard liquid. In a medium bowl, whisk 3/4 cups sugar, oil, applesauce, and vanilla together. Stir in zucchini until combined.
In a large bowl, whisk both flours, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Using rubber spatula, stir in zucchini mixture until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Scrape batter evenly into cavities of prepared pan, smooth tops, and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of a loaf comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 28-32 minutes. Let loaves cool in pan for 30 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool 30 minutes more.

Until next time, happy baking!