Wednesday, September 21, 2016

More Energy Bites: Peanut Butter, Coconut, Oats, and Chocolate Chips



Energy Bites: Peanut Butter, Coconut, Oats, and Chocolate Chips

No Bake... No Gluten... No Eggs


A few weeks back, I made some no-bake energy bites with pumpkin, oats, coconut, chocolate chips, and a bunch of other ingredients.  They were fantastic.  If you missed them, you can read more HERE.

I decided to try a new recipe and it also really good.  The one mistake I made was that I used extra crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy.  My energy bites did not hold together very well, but the recipe still turned out great. The flavor and texture are amazing.  I re-read the original recipe and it specifies I could have added more maple syrup or peanut butter if the dough seemed too dry.  Perhaps that would have helped a bit.  I used my cookie scoop to portion out the dough and I tried to roll the dough into more compact balls, but the dough was too stick.  I considered wetting my hands with water or spraying a little non-stick cooking spray on my hands. Instead, I just portioned out the energy bites as best as I could and popped them into the freezer. They firmed up nicely and are holding together well now.  I will keep them in the freezer and just take out two at a time, now and again.  These treats are rich; two energy bites is a great serving size.  I had two this morning with a cup of coffee and powered through over an hour of yoga. 

This recipe comes from a blog called Beaming Baker.  Here is the recipe link (click HERE).


I cannot tell you how many times I had to RESIST the URGE to lick the spoon when making this recipe!

That gloopy mess in the center of the bowl is slightly warmed chunky peanut butter and maple syrup.  I am drooling as I type that.

For this recipe, I used the natural kind of peanut butter which is made from only roasted peanuts and a little salt. It's the kind of peanut butter that separates and requires refrigeration.  I warmed up my peanut butter in the microwave oven for about 10 seconds and stirred it well to make it sort of room temperature-ish.



ENERGY BITES:  Peanut Butter, Coconut, Oats, and Chocolate Chips Recipe source: www.beamingbaker.com

Dry Ingredients
  • ¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¾ cup gluten-free rolled oats (old fashioned)
  • ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  • ¼ cup gluten-free, vegan add-ins (chopped peanuts, raisins, mini-chocolate chips, etc.)
Wet Ingredients
  • ¾ cup natural peanut butter (very liquidy at room temperature)
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients: coconut, oats, flax and add-ins (I used mini chocolate chips). Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the peanut butter and maple syrup (allow peanut butter to come to room temperature if it has been refrigerated or warm the peanut butter in the microwave oven for about ten seconds and stir well).
  3. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture. Using a sturdy spatula, fold together until well incorporated.
  4. Scoop mixture into your hands and roll into bites. I like my bites to be about 1 ½ tablespoons. If the mixture is too dry, add in a bit more maple syrup and peanut butter.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Wheat-Free Dog Treats with Oats, Pumpkin, and Peanut Butter


Wheat-Free Dog Treats

I just adore the photo of Brutus above.  These dog treats did not look so attractive under the fluorescent light in the kitchen, so I stepped over to the window with my little shadow by my side. 

Turns out the dogs adore the treats I made for them this morning.



"Who's a good boy!???"


I found this recipe on a blog called Created by Diane.  The recipe call for just a few ingredients; I had all of them on hand.  I had even opened up a big can of pumpkin puree earlier in the week to make some experimental vegan muffins.  That recipe was a flop unfortunately; thankfully the dog treats turned out well.


I only made a half batch of this recipe but it still made quite a few treats.

The original recipe link for Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dog Biscuits can be found by clicking HERE.  I did not make any modifications to the recipe, but did change up how I shaped and baked the cookies.  The original recipe calls for rolling the dough out on a floured surface and cutting the treats out with a cookie cutter.  The dough did not seem to have the right consistency for this and it also seemed a tad moist (I would have probably had to use a lot of flour to be able to roll out the dough and not have a sticky mess). I opted to use my small cookie scoop (which resembles an ice cream scoop) and evenly portioned out the treats. I used the tines of a fork to flatten the cookies, just like you would if your were making Peanut Butter Criss-Cross Cookies for humans.  I did have to spray my fork with non-stick cooking spray to keep it from sticking to the dough.  It would probably also work to dip the fork tines in a little flour to keep the fork's tines from sticking to the dough.  Sometimes we wonder if our boy dog, Brutus, might be sensitive to wheat, so I avoided using any flour when preparing these treats.


Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dog Biscuits

Ingredients for a Small (Half) Batch 
Makes 24 to 26 treats



  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (old fashioned)
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg


  • Instructions:

    Place the oatmeal into a food processor and pulse it until it's not so coarse, but it doesn't need to be a fine as flour.  Alternatively, use a blender (I used my Ninja Blender)

    Add oatmeal, pumpkin, peanut butter, cinnamon, baking powder, and eggs, to a bowl and mix with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until all ingredients are well combined.

    Line two sheet pans with parchment paper; portion out treats with a small cookie scoop.  Spray a dinner fork with non-stick cooking spray and use the tines of the fork to flatten each treat.

    Bake treats in a pre-heated oven (375 degrees Fahrenheit) for 18 to 22 minutes. I baked the treats for 18 minutes and they were lightly browned on the bottom and still tender (but cooked through) on the inside.

    Place in airtight container to keep them fresh or in the freezer.


    So I had a little "Kodak Fever" with my doggies this morning. Can you blame me? They are mighty cute.


    For this recipe, I used natural peanut butter which contains only ground roasted peanuts and salt.  This is the kind of peanut butter that separates and requires refrigeration.  I let the peanut butter come to room temperature so that I could be easily combined with the other ingredients.


    I had the peanut butter out for the treat you see above.  I'll post about recipe treat very soon (Hint: it's a treat for two legged creatures). 



    Quinoa for Breakfast


    Quinoa for Breakfast


    The other day, I made up a pot of quinoa; I like to put a few spoonfuls into each bowl of my Stuffed Bell Pepper Soup. Turns out, I made way too much quinoa. I read that cooked quinoa can be frozen with good results, but I thought I might first try having quinoa for breakfast just like oatmeal. Turns out I really like it. 

    So if you find yourself with left over quinoa, you might want to give this a try. 

    This is not an exact recipe, but a little healthy and yummy meal inspiration. Here's what I've been doing:

    In a microwave safe bowl, combine 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 1/4 to 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of your choice), a pinch of cinnamon, a little brown sugar (or maple syrup or honey), 1 to 2 tablespoons of raisins, and 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts. Heat in the microwave, uncovered, for 1 1/2 minutes on High power.  

    Top with chopped fresh fruit as desired.  Stir and let sit for about 1 minute.  Enjoy!

    Some mornings I've had chopped Honey Crisp apple (1/2 an apple) stirred into my quinoa bowl and some mornings I've had sliced banana stirred into my quinoa bowl. I really like both!


    The photo above is one I captured from the internet... because sometime I forget to take photos if my breakfast at 5:00 am. Imagine that!?!

    I am looking forward to trying more quinoa breakfast recipes. I found a great collection of recipes here:


    This one recipe (below) will be the NEXT one I try for sure!


    Monday, September 19, 2016

    Chicken Tortilla Soup with Pumpkin


    Chicken Tortilla Soup with Pumpkin

    It was hot out yesterday, but I had a crazy craving for Chicken Tortilla Soup. I've made a lot of recipes for this soup over the years; I was craving a brothy version. I have been reading recipes on the Internet the last few days, but never had quite all the ingredients on hand and did not want to go to the store. I raided the refrigerator and the cupboards and came up with a really nice soup! 

    Chicken Tortilla Soup with Pumpkin

    Ingredients:

    1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
    1 medium sweet onion, diced
    1 carrot, finely diced (I used about 15 baby carrots)
    2 cloves garlic, finely diced
    2 cans (14.5 oz each) chicken broth 
    1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
    1/2 cup canned pumpkin purée
    1/2 of a taco seasoning packet
    3 tablespoons diced green chiles (from a can)
    1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded

    Toppings:
    Greek yogurt
    Small soft corn tortillas

    Directions:  

    Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add in the carrots and onions. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the veggies begin to soften, about 5 minutes. 

    Add in the garlic and the taco seasoning; stir to combine and cook an additional minute. 

    Add in the chicken broth, tomato sauce, green chiles, and pumpkin. Bring soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover pot with a lid and allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. 

    If you desire a smooth soup, ladle the soup into a food processor or blender to purée. Better yet, purée the soup in the pot using an immersion blender. USE CAUTION: when blending hot soup, pressure builds up. I blended my soup in my Ninja blender just a few ladles at a time.  Return soup to the pot; add in the cooked chicken. Simmer until ready to serve. 

    Makes 5 servings. 

    I served each bowl of hot soup with one small corn tortilla, chopped into small pieces, and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Stir it all together and enjoy!



    I used 1/2 of this packet of Taco Seasoning in my soup. It's very spicy but the Greek yogurt cooled it down a bit.



    Friday, September 16, 2016

    Blender Muffins: Flourless Banana Nut Bread Muffins



    Flourless Blender Banana Nut Bread Muffins





    After having such great success with Blender Muffins earlier this week (click HERE if you missed that recipe), I just had to make another batch. My husband did not care for the initial recipe since he did not like the combination of banana and chocolate chips.  He thought they'd be better if they were more like Banana Nut Bread. So this batch of muffins is for him.  He said they are great!

    This week, I was out of Greek yogurt. The first blender muffin recipe I made called for 1/2 cup Greek yogurt. I ran out of Greek yogurt so I used 1/4 cup Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce with great results.  Since I was out of Greek yogurt this time around, I used 1/4 cup light sour cream and 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce. It seems that playing around with these ingredients is working, which make this such a great, flexible recipe. I love that the yogurt, applesauce, or (in this case) light sour cream all take the place of butter or oil in the recipe.



    Flourless Banana Nut Bread Muffins
    Yield: 12 muffins

    Ingredients
    2 cups old fashioned oats (use certified gluten free oats if desired)
    2 ripe bananas
    2 eggs
    1/4 cup Greek yogurt or light sour cream
    1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
    3 Tbsps honey
    1 1/2 tsp baking powder 
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    1/8 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1 scant cup chopped nuts (I used a combination of pecans and walnuts)

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In your blender, pulse together all ingredients except for the chopped nuts. Pause to stir if ingredients do not blend well at first.  Blend until well combined.  Stir in all but 1/4 cup chopped nuts (reserve some to top the muffins before baking). 

    2. Pour batter into a 12-cup muffin pan lined with paper cups.  (If using a silicone pan, you can skip the paper cups or generously spray muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray).  Sprinkle the reserved chopped nuts.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the tops are puffed and golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Mine were done at 12-13 minutes).

    I hope you give blender muffins a try.  As you can tell, I am a big fan. They are so easy and they don't make too many dirty dishes.  I like to think of these as a healthier version of a muffin.  I am baking and freezing these muffins so that I can enjoy them for a few weeks and also keep the portions in control a bit.  Such a yummy treat!

    Wednesday, September 14, 2016

    Flourless Blender Muffins: Banana Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins


    Flourless Blender Banana Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins


    What a fun idea.  Place all ingredients for muffins in a blender, blend away, pour into a muffin tins, and bake!  Ordinarily making muffins makes a lot more dirty dishes than this recipe.


    This recipe is really great. I found it on the internet (Facebook) and I felt compelled to make it because: (A) The recipe looked pretty healthy, (B) I had all of the ingredients on hand to make the recipe, and (C) Every day is better with baked goods!  Turns out, while making this recipe, I ran out of honey, Greek yogurt, and baking powder, but the recipe still worked.  I needed 1/2 cup Greek yogurt but only had 1/4 cup so I made up the difference with unsweetened applesauce.


    My husband was a little worried about theses muffins and grilled me about the ingredients. It was pretty funny. 

    He specifically asked, "Is there FLAX in these muffins!?" 

    Nope, I assured him: no flax.  We had some coffee and some muffins together this afternoon (Yes, retirement is so ROUGH!).  My husband said these muffins would be better without the chocolate chips.  He's never been a fan of banana bread with chocolate chips either.  He suggested these muffins would be better if they were made with spices to make them taste like banana bread.  I agree that these muffins would be great that way, too.  I'll try that next time.

    What I like about this recipe is that the batter is a great base and one could easily change up the "add ins" to make up many variations:  raisins and walnuts, grated apple and cinnamon, grated carrot, blueberries, dried cranberries, orange zest, and pecans, and so on. 


    Flourless Blender Banana Chocolate Chip Walnut Muffins
    From www.twobiteclub.com
      
    Yield: 12 muffins

    Ingredients
    2 cups old fashioned oats (use certified gluten free oats if desired)
    2 ripe bananas
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 1/4 cup Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce)
    3 Tbsps honey (I used about 2 1/2 tablespoons... I ran out)
    1 1/2 tsp baking powder (I ran out and only used 1 teaspoon)
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1/8 tsp salt
    1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
    Optional: I added in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In your blender, pulse together all ingredients except for the chocolate chips and walnuts. Pause to stir if ingredients do not blend well at first.  Blend until well combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts (if using). 

    2. Pour batter into a 12-cup muffin pan lined with paper cups.  (If using a silicone pan, you can skip the paper cups or generously spray muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray).  Sprinkle with additional chocolate chips, if desired.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the tops are puffed and golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Mine were done at 12-13 minutes).

    Recipe Link:


    Tuesday, September 13, 2016

    Cookies with a Surprising Ingredient


    You'll never guess what is in these cookies!


    Do you see it in there?  I'll give you a HINT!  It's something GREEN...


    Zucchini!

    I made and shared these cookies with my knitting class last week and everyone LOVED them!  I first saw these cookies on a blog I recently discovered called "Yellow Bliss Road".  The writer of this blog added in orange extract and some other ingredients I did not have.  I saw that the original blog source for the recipe (called "Two Peas and Their Pod") contained ingredients I did have on hand so I followed that recipe primarily.

    Zucchini Coconut Chocolate Chip cookies
    From www.twopeasandtheirpod.com

    Ingredients:

    1 cup all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled to room temperature
    1/2 cup dark brown sugar (I used light brown sugar)
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1 large egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 cup shredded zucchini
    2 cups old fashioned oats
    1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes (I use unsweetened coconut)
    3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    My addition:  about 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper and set aside.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
    3. In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut oil and sugars, mix until smooth. Add egg and vanilla extract. Next, add the shredded zucchini. Mix until combined.
    4. Slowly add flour mixture until just combined. Stir in oats, coconut, chocolate chips, and nuts (if using).
    5. Drop cookie dough by heaping tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are slightly golden around the edges and set. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

    These cookies are DELICIOUS!

    Yellow Bliss Road Version can be seen here:


    Two Peas and Their Pod Version can be seen here:

    http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/zucchini-coconut-chocolate-chip-cookies/?m