Saturday, July 27, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies

Do you all remember when I was talking about making a list of healthy meals that taste really good too?  Unfortunately, that list is still pretty short, especially in the dessert area.  But I have found a great new addition!  A few weeks ago I found Monique’s wonderful blog, Ambitious Kitchen, and instantly fell in love with several of her recipes.  One that especially caught my eye was the Flourless Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies.  They seemed exciting, new, and a bit intimidating.  But they have chocolate chips in them, so they can’t be too overwhelming, right?  Right?

Well, I was right! These bars are vegan and gluten-free, but don’t let that scare you off.  They are super easy and delicious.  I doubled the recipe for a 9 x 13 pan. 

Flourless Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies 
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup all natural peanut butter, or another nut butter of your choice
1/3 cup pure maple syrup, agave nectar, or honey
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 tspspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup vegan (or regular) chocolate chips
Sea salt, for sprinkling

1. Use a food processor or blender to blend the chickpeas into a smooth paste.  (If you use a blender, add the maple syrup in right away to help speed up this process.  You may also need to add a bit of water.)

2.  Stir the peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, baking powder and baking soda into the chickpea paste.  Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

The batter will be rather thick and sticky, so you may want to take precautions and grease your spoon for easier clean up.  Also, the batter became too thick for me to stir properly, so I added about a TBSP of water, and things went much better.  You can also warm up your peanut butter for a few second in a microwave, which will make it easier to stir. 

3.  Spread the batter into a 8x8 greased pan.  You can sprinkle the sea salt on now, or when it’s done baking.  If you’re watching your sodium intake, skip the sea salt altogether.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the edges start to brown.  (The batter may look a bit underdone, but you don’t want the bars to dry out.)


I’m sure there are several people thinking right now “Umm...these look very...interesting.  If you need me, I’ll be over here with my No Bake Reese's Fudge Bars!”  But hear me out: I’m not a fan of chick peas.  In fact, when I first saw this recipe, the main reason I saved it is because I had several cans of chickpeas and no idea what to do with.  (I got them on sale, and girl can only eat so much hummus.)   Knowing that I don’t like the main ingredient, I was generous when adding peanut butter and vanilla to cover up the dreaded chick pea flavor.  It worked very well!   Also, a 1/2 cup of chick peas has 6 grams of protein and 8% of the iron you need daily.  Do your fudge bars have that?  (Hint: no.)

I’m so excited about how well these bars turned out!  I know I said it before, but I’m going to say it again: if you aren’t vegan or gluten-free, please, please, please don’t be intimidated by this recipe.  You will forget about the chickpeas as soon as you taste the deliciousness (and if you’re stubborn and can’t forget about them, just remember all the protein and iron).  And, if you're vegan or gluten-free, you seriously have no excuses not to make these!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Popsicle Palooza

Summer is in full swing and it’s hot outside.  Like most people, I gravitate towards a sweet treat to help me stay cool: ice cream, frozen yogurt, or my childhood favorite, the freezie pop.  All of these are delicious and I want to eat all of them.  Right now.   All of these are full of unhealthy fats, sugar, and chemicals. Darn.

But do not despair!  It’s super easy to make you make your own homemade frozen treats, especially popsicles.   I bought a popsicle mode for $1.50 at a local store.  ONE DOLLAR AND FIFTY CENTS, PEOPLE!  It has room to make 8 popsicles.  Best money I ever spent. You could also use ice cube trays or Dixie cups.

Now that you got your mold, what flavor should you make?  The possibilities are endless.  My favorite standby is Strawberries and Cream: put strawberries (fresh or frozen) in a blender with some milk.  Blend until smooth and add sugar if desired (I don’t).  Pour into your mold and freeze. Bam, in no time, you’re eating popsicles!

Want more ideas?

Bloody Mary Popsicles and Creamy Margarita Popsicles (You wouldn't need alcohol to make them yummy!)

And, if you’re still undecided, here are 18 more flavors.

If you’re a minimalist, adding lemon or mint to water or iced tea and making popsicles out of that is an option.

On a side note, I heard this song in a store last week and now, I can’t stop listening to it.  I’ve been playing it almost constantly for the past 24 hours.  I’m sorry I’m not sorry.  It even drowns out the noisy neighbor kids!

But anyways, back to the popsicles. Make a ton of popsicles, crank the music up, and host a Popsicle Palooza!  They are cheap and easy to make.  They can be relatively healthy too!  Your popularity will skyrocket!  

Photo Credit: Aaron Dyer Photography  He has some of the most gorgeous photos I have ever seen!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Banana Bread

In celebration of Independence Day, I decided to take last week off of work and visit my parents.  The big city definitely has its perks, but I miss the slow pace of my small hometown.  It's nice to see familiar places and faces once in awhile.

My parent’s house has an extra special meaning to me because my parents, brothers, and I built it when I was in early high school.  We did amazing job, if I do say so myself!  One of the best parts of the house is the kitchen.  My mom put a ton of time and effort into making it a large, friendly space and perfectly fits my family’s needs.  When I'm working in my tiny apartment kitchen, I often wish I would have appreciated all the counter and cabinet space that was available to me when I lived with my parents a few years ago. *sigh*

Anyways, when my mom asked me if I wanted to bake some banana bread, of course I agreed!  I modified a recipe from our church's cookbook and it turned out fabulous!

Banana Bread
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs, separated and beaten separately
3 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup cold water
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp sugar (optional)

1. In a large bowl or a stand mixer, cream together the 1 cup of sugar and shortening.  Mix in the egg yolks, bananas, water, and vanilla.

2. In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.  Add this to the wet ingredient. Fold in the egg whites.

3. Divide the batter into 2 greased bread pans. Sprinkle the tops of the loaves with sugar and bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until done.

In a 24 hour period last week, I made 8 loaves of this stuff.  It’s so good!  If you slice it up and pack it in a plastic bag, it’s super easy to bring it with you.  We brought it on a road trip for a snack and then as dessert on a boating picnic. I’m pretty sure this is the perfect travel food because you can make it ahead, it packs easily, and no crumbly mess.  And if you’re not going anywhere, even better, because you can enjoy it fresh out of the oven with butter!  Enjoy!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Taste of Home's Rhubarb Crisp

Are you still craving rhubarb after mini rhubarb tarts? I know I was! 
I found a great rhubarb crisp recipe from Taste of Home. Doubled this recipe for a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Taste of Home's Rhubarb Crisp
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups sliced fresh rhubarb or frozen rhubarb, thawed
2 cups sliced peeled apples or sliced strawberries
1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Vanilla ice cream, optional

1. In a large bowl, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add rhubarb and apples or strawberries; toss to coat. Spoon into an 8-in. square baking dish.

2. In a small bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, butter, flour and cinnamon until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over fruit. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until bubbly and fruit is tender. Serve warm with ice cream if desired.

Taste of Home Editor's Note: If using frozen rhubarb, measure rhubarb while still frozen, then thaw completely. Drain in a colander, but do not press liquid out.