Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sweet and Salty Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

These were so good that I had to give most of them away immediately or risk eating the entire pan myself within a stupidly short span of time. They are no-bake and the hardest part is waiting until they're cooled to start eating them. In fact, I did a terrible job of that and ate quite a lot of it while it was still warm and gooey. And as long as you don't care about it being in the shape of a granola bar, you should definitely do the same thing. Shapes are overrated. They taste awesome - that's what matters.

These are just delightful. And very hard to stop eating. And super easy to make. And that, friends, is a dangerous trifecta - but one that I can only recommend.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (Adapted from this recipe)
Makes one 8" x 8" pan of bars

1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. crunchy peanut butter (I used this kind)
1/2 cup crushed cashews
1 cup gluten-free oats
1 cup Honey Nut Chex crumbs (I started with about 1 1/2 cups whole Honey Nut Chex and ground them in a food processor)
3 tbsp. flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line an 8" x 8" pan with wax paper.

Combine the agave nectar, honey, and peanut butter in a small saucepan. Melt together over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or just until it starts to simmer.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine the cashews, oats, Honey Nut Chex crumbs, flaxseed meal, and salt. Pour the hot liquid mixture in and mix well. Add in the chocolate chips and stir again.

Pour the entire mixture into the pan and press down firmly. Let cool completely, then slice into bars. Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sweet Vegan Blueberry Corn Muffins

Sweet, crumbly, and moist - that's how these turned out. They are absolutely wonderful. So good that I scarfed down two whole ones within 7 minutes of their coming out of the oven. So yeah. That happened.

But I didn't feel too guilty because I eliminated most of the oil in these. So on top of their being vegan, they're also low-fat and use banana and applesauce to bind them together. So your internal narrative can center around all the wonderful potassium and doctor-sending-away-ness of the muffins instead of those piddly 2 tablespoons of oil. At least, that's what happens in my head when I eat them. Everyone I gave them to thought they were just as fabulous as I did - vegans and non-vegans, gluten-free and gluten-ful alike. The only thing I'll recommend is that you store them in the fridge, as they became a bit TOO moist sitting out on the counter at room temperature (even in my chilly basement apartment).

Sweet Vegan Blueberry Corn Muffins (Adapted from this recipe)
Makes 12 muffins

3/4 cup gluten-free cornmeal
1/2 sorghum flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 soft ripe banana, mashed
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. smooth applesauce
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp. So Delicious Almond Milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 1/2 tbsp. gluten-free vanilla extract
1 - 1 1/2 cups wild Maine blueberries
Raw sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl (everything up to and including the brown sugar) and mix well. In a separate mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the banana, olive oil, applesauce, soy milk, and vanilla extract). Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix well. Add the blueberries and stir them in gently.

Fill each muffin liner 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 18 - 22 minutes, or just until they are slightly browned on top and a toothpick comes out clean. About halfway through the baking, when they have started to set, sprinkle each one with a little raw sugar (quickly, and without moving them too much!).

Serve warm from the oven, or store in the fridge and eat cold. They are delicious no matter how you eat them!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Maple and Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes. Maple syrup. Balsamic vinegar.

There was no way this wasn't going to be awesome. I found this recipe on the Food Network and adapted it a bit to make it lower in fat (as I almost always do). And holy crap - they are so freaking amazingly good.

You can serve these as a side dish with dinner, but I have also used them as a filling for quesadillas and also in a roasted chicken wrap I made. They are packed with flavor - sweet and salty, with the caramelized onions to add a little extra kick. And they are very, very easy to make. If you're feeling especially pinched for time (or in my case, lazy), you can even buy pre-chopped sweet potatoes and literally just throw all of this together in a bowl and put it in the oven. It's about 2 minutes of prep time if you do that, or about 10 minutes of prep time if you don't. But totally worth it either way.

Maple and Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Adapted from this recipe)
Makes 4 - 6 side servings

4 - 6 sweet potatoes, diced into small cubes
1/4 maple syrup, divided
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 a white onion, cut into thin slivers
2 - 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line two baking dishes with foil (this will make clean-up a breeze and will protect your dishes from the caramelized sauce).

In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with 2 tbsp. maple syrup, the 2 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. black pepper until they are evenly coated. Spread the sweet potatoes in the two baking dishes so they are in a single layer. Roast for 20 - 30 minutes, or until they are caramelized and soft. Start checking them after 15 minutes to stir for even baking.

About 10 minutes before they are done roasting, coast a nonstick pan with cooking spray and saute the slivered onions until they are translucent. Add the other 2 tbsp. maple syrup, 2 - 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar (according to your own taste), and about 1/4 cup water and simmer until the sauce becomes thick and caramelized (but not too thick - you want this to coat all of the potatoes). If the pan becomes dry, add another tablespoon or two of water.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and combine again into a large bowl. Add the sauce and toss to coat evenly. Season as necessary with additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Store in the fridge in an airtight container.