Light side? Or…. dark side?!

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So, are you on the light side?

Or…

The dark side?

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Both are equally appealing…

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B(lond)rownies are kind of like the Force. They have a light side, and a dark side… and they undeniably hold the universe together. My universe, anyway, I can’t speak for yours…

But really, when brownies are holding your universe together, that universe is pretty freakin fab!

I was a little more inclined to the dark side today with these. Dense, fudgy and rich, with small chunks of chocolate chips.. mmm. Doesn’t get much better than that. Except when there’s peanut butter added to your chocolate, in which case the ridiculous deliciousness of these skyrockets into the stratosphere.

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But then there’s these.

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And if you’re feeling like maybe your inclinations push you to the light side (blue, green and purple are pretty awesome lightsaber colors), there’s these. Dense, chewy-crumbly, with an almost graham cracker-like taste. And chocolate chips. Of course.

Actually, much like the dichotomy in the Force (and the real universe..) these two complement each other startlingly well. The deep dark fudgy of one plays nicely against the lighter molassesy flavor of the other.

So go ahead. Indulge your dark side and your light side, and make a batch of both. You never know when the mood might strike, or when your universe might become ruled by baked goods in the best possible way….

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Deep Dark Peanut Butter Brownies

This recipe is from Minimalist Baker, here! It’s freaking fabulous so I didn’t change a thing (other than omitting the powdered sugar and subbing in maple). Makes about 12 good sized brownies, in an 8 by 8 pan. Vegan, gluten free, and refined sugar free!

  • 1 can (15 oz) of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tbsp flaxseed meal+5 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 c coconut sugar
  • 1/2 c creamy salted peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

Lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan, and preheat the oven to 350.

In a food processor, combine flax meal and water and let sit for a few minutes. Add in beans, coconut oil, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and soda, vanilla, maple syrup, and coconut sugar. Pulse to combine, and let it run for a minute or two—you want this to be very smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips, and pour batter into the prepared pan. In a smaller bowl, stir together peanut butter and maple. Drop dollops of the peanut butter onto the tops of the brownies, and swirl it in with a knife. Top with extra chocolate chips (because, why not?!), and bake for just about 30 minutes. The center should have no jiggle and the edges will pull slightly away from the pan. Let cool almost completely before slicing, as they’re a little fragile when warm. Store in the fridge in an airtight container!

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Light Side Blondies

These are adapted only slightly from Worth Cooking, here! The recipe makes about 12-14 wedges if you make it in a 9″ round cake pan, as I did. E and I decided these reminded us slightly of graham crackers in the way they tasted, and they’re dense, chewy and vanilla-y. They’re gluten free with oat flour, as originally written, but I was out. Vegan and refined sugar free!

  • 1/4 c flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 c tapioca starch
  • 3/4 c coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 7 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp vanilla (Yes, you read that right!)
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

Lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan (or square, or whatever). Preheat the oven to 350.

In a smallish bowl, whisk together flaxseed, water, and molasses and let sit. In a larger bowl, whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, tapioca starch, coconut sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add in flax mix, followed by coconut oil and vanilla. Stir to combine, tossing in the chocolate chips as you go. Spread the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for just about 30 minutes. The top should be firm, and the blondies will pull away from the sides of the pan slightly. Let cool a bit before slicing. I have no leftovers… but if I had, I would have stored them in the fridge ;)

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Polarizing little green nuggets

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BRUSSELS!

Yeah, I know. This is exactly what you want to see on a Sunday afternoon. But too bad.

These might be one of the most polarizing foods ever. Love them? Hate them? You probably fall into one of these camps—I doubt there are many who are ambivalent towards the little green nuggets…

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I love them. Obviously. It’s my blog… why would I post about something I hated? Weird. Anyway.. I digress. I *used* to hate brussel sprouts… probably because the first time I ate them I believe they were boiled, and I STILL think that’s a nasty way of preparing them. Ewww. Soggy brussels. Ain’t nobody go time for that.

So I don’t do that. I roast them! And then toss them in things that make them even more delicious. I’m not really sure when I discovered I liked them though, which is odd. I have a wildly specific food memory (like, maybe too specific. Surely that brain space could be used for something slightly more productive than remembering exactly what I ate at any given time/place/vacation/noteworthy event?! Whatever. At least the grey matter is occupied and amusing itself, right?). So anyway. My Saturday morning was spent roasting brussels and doing yoga (what a shocking combination if you know me, NOT), and then this morning after doing (you’ll never guess) MORE YOGA (!!) I ate more of them. And it’s raining!! Win, win, win.

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And also this morning I made some grain free banana bread, which is incidentally delicious but also half of it stuck to the pan so oops I had to eat a bunch of it because now it’s crumbs and hello, crumbs are designed to be eaten. Maybe I’ll make a habit of not fully greasing my pans from now on just to create crumbs, muahhaa. No not really. But kind of amusing to contemplate…

Anyway. Happy Sunday! Here are some brussels to distract you from whatever you need to be distracted from.

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Stoneground Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts

This might seem like kind of a weird combo to start off with, but stick with me, I promise they’re delicious. I used two bags of Trader Joe’s organic brussels, each about 14 oz I think. Recipe serves 3, with a bit left over. Gluten free, vegan.

  • 2 bags of brussel sprouts, halved/quartered and with yuck ends trimmed
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp grade B organic maple syrup
  • 2 tsp stoneground mustard

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Preheat oven to 400.
Prep brussel sprouts by trimming off the yuck end, and halving or quartering them depending on how big they are. Some of the outer leaves can be a little tough and usually come off as you trim them, which is fine. Toss sprouts with avocado oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl until all are evenly coated. Distribute the sprouts onto a rimmed cookie sheet, flipping them so that they are cut-side down. Roast for 15 minutes, then take the tray out and flip them over to the other side. They should be nicely browned and starting to caramelize! Roast them for another 13-15 minutes, then take them out to cool slightly.

While the sprouts are roasting, whisk together olive oil, maple, and mustard in a smallish bowl. Transfer the sprouts to a larger bowl, and drizzle the dressing over all of them, tossing to combine and evenly coat them. Serve hot! Yum yum yum.

These are good. Promise. Even if you hate brussel sprouts, you should at least give them a try… they’re good for you! And delicious (I know I know, to each his or her own..)

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Out of coconut?! What? No. This is a travesty.

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So yeah. You remember that day that I made the roti flatbread? Right.

I made cookies that day too! [I had a very productive day]

And guess how long it took us to eat all of that delicious carby goodness?

Yep. Like six hours.

Let me see… I made roti around 11… and they were gone by 12:30. And then I made the cookies around 11:30 and they were gone by 8 pm. Okay okay so more like 8 hours but do you see my point?! Delicious. Granted, there were four of us and I made half batches due to lack of coconut, but even so. Impressive, wouldn’t you say?

Besides, these are good for me so obviously this is an excuse to make them again…

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Sweet Potato Coconut-Almond Cookies

Recipe lightly adapted from the legit blog Mangia!, here! I made a half batch and got 11 cookies, but I’ll post the full recipe here. These are deeelicious. Healthy fats, beta carotene, and whole grains. Winner, winner.

  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp+6 tbsp water)
  • 1 sweet potato, mashed (I microwaved mine, laaaazy)
  • 1/2 c unsalted almond butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup (I use grade B)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c almond flour
  • 1.5 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 c unsweetened, shredded coconut\

Preheat oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Make your flax eggs and set them aside to gel. In a smallish bowl, combine mashed sweet potato, almond butter, coconut oil, maple, and vanilla: stir until just combined. In a larger bowl, whisk together almond flour, oats, flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon, and coconut. Pour wet into dry, and stir until the batter is incorporated (I added a tablespoon or two of water to help it all come together). Drop dough by the spoonful onto the prepared baking sheet, and flatten slightly. Bake for 11-12 minutes (Mine were done perfectly at 11, with slightly golden tops). Let cool on the sheet for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack!

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Get those balls rolling…

BALLS!

Okay… so I finally did it.

Apparently I’ve jumped onto the balls bandwagon.

Not THAT kind (pshhh—get your mind out of the gutter); THIS kind!

and then there was one.

Except to me they’re really like healthful no-bake cookies. But in ball form. Because I don’t really use these for energy, let’s be real… but they’re perfect snackies for when you want something kinda sorta sweet but good for you all at the same time. But not dessert. A ball.

Besides, saying BALLSSSSS is fun! Try it: just make sure there’s no one around, they might look at you a little funny.

And they’re fun to stack, and roll around…

all by its lonesome

Let’s face it, I have yoga brain after my class this morning. Yes, I know the class was finished at 11 and I had a chai afterwards and should be fully functional by now (at 4:15 pm), buuttt my brain says… NO. Apparently we’re having a small tantrum today: it’s fuzzy Thursday. Acceptable, I suppose, for my day off. Good thing I don’t have to do anything more strenuous than go grocery shopping (oh wait. That required efficient decision making.whoops, FAIL) and photograph balls. Tee hee.

yum yum yum

Anywayyy. I digress. These balls are delicious and easy and come together in a snap. They’re a little on the crumbly side and excellent to grab on the way out the door (just don’t get crumbs all in your car; oh wait… I already did that).

I suppose you could call them blobs… but balls is more fun!

Balls balls balls:

aerial shot!

No-Bake Energy Balls

Ever so slightly adapted from Running to the Kitchen, here! I doubled the recipe and got 18, since I’ve made a single recipe before and we fight over them…

  • 1 c raw cashews
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 4 tbsp nut butter (I’ve used all peanut, half peanut/half almond, both are good!)
  • 3 tbsp dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Couldn’t be simpler: chuck nuts into your food processor. Pulverize until they’re a fine powder. Add in oats and pulse again. Add everything else (nut butter, chocolate chips, chia, maple, and vanilla), and pulse until it all comes together. Form/roll into balls and store in the fridge. Easy money.

it looks like…a rock?!

Cleverly Averted Cornbread Fail

no, this is not *just* cornbread...

Cornbread is a hot commodity in this house. Like, better eat it while you can, before it gets sucked down into someone’s stomach (perhaps the resident vacuum cleaner, Vati?!). And by this house, I mean home home! As in, not Salem. Someoneeeee is home for the holidays, hoorayyy! Time for hopefully epic holiday eating, which translates to epic holiday blog fodder. Everyone wins :]

Anyway. Where I was going with this whole cornbread biz. Last night, to accompany tree-decorating, we decided on chili and cornbread (Because one without the other is clearly sacrilege). Cornbread is the first thing I remember learning to make, so I have rather a fondness for it…and besides. It’s delicious. So I got busily to work on the cornbready goodness…measuring here, whisking there… and into the oven it went. Simple pimple, right?

So not.

Twenty minutes later, I took it out. There appeared to be a number of things wrong with it. It was brown. This is a crime. Cornbread should not be brown on the bottom. Lightly golden, yes. Brown? NO. Borderline burnt? Absolutely NOT. Strike one. Second. It didn’t SMELL like cornbread. Which is not necessarily a deal breaker, but tipped me off there might be something funky with this particular batch. Strike two. Thirdly. I tasted it.

EW.

Blandest, most boring cornbread everrrr. Apparently I left something out?! Because I’ve made this same recipe with the SAME ingredients before, and it was mega tasty. Oops. Strike mega-three. After mutti and vati also tasted it and we all decided that it was not a fit partner for chili, I decided to make another batch (different recipe—I was too irritated at the last one). I really didn’t want to compost the last batch though—it felt wasteful, and I’m obviously not one to throw out food. So instead… I had a brilliant (if I do say so) idea to make it into a sort of cornbread-bread pudding, like for a breakfasty type dish! Huzzah, for frugality! AND. I winged it. But it was super tasty—Vati the Vacuum (hehhe) had two slices for breakfast. It’s lightly sweet but not overly so, and nice and corny—tasty with a drizzly of maple syrup.

Besides, I was quite proud of neatly averting a cornbread crisis… with the creation of some awkward cornbread pudding!

Natural light! Hooorayy, California!

Awkward Cornbread Pudding

Adapted from… the jungle of my brain. Makes one 8 by 8 pan.

For the cornbread: I used a failed version (obviously), but I’m sure normal cornbread would work too, you might just want to reduce the sugar. Mine was originally sweetened with a scant 1/4 c honey. Use your favorite, and adjust sweetness to taste. For a dessertier bread pudding-type, I would use cornbread that is already on the sweet side.

  • 1 8 by 8 pan of cornbread, cut into 1/2″ chunks. Use mostly the soft middle, and some of the crust for texture
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 c 1% milk, or non-dairy sub of choice
  • a good slug of cinnamon
  • a few grinds of fresh nutmeg
  • brown sugar to taste (I used somewhere around a heaping tablespoon, perhaps a bit more)
  • 1-2 tsp turbinado sugar
mmm, maple

Preheat the oven to 350.

Place chunks of cornbread into a lightly greased 8 by 8 pan. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour the liquid over the cornbread in the pan, making sure to even distribute it. Sprinkle your desired amount of brown sugar evenly over the surface of the cornbread, and then use a fork to turn it under, and completely saturate the cubes of bread in the milk mixture. Sprinkle turbinado over the top (creating a yummy crust-type thing). Bake for just about 25 minutes, until custard is set, and a tester comes out clean. You shouldn’t see too much really liquidy/mushy business in the pan, but it also shouldn’t be too dry (you don’t want dry custard, ewww). Keep in mind that it’ll set up a bit when it cools in the pan. Just about 25 minutes should do it.

Eat. Preferably for breakfast, with maple syrup. MMmmmm… And revel in your cleverly averted cornbread fail.

I apologize for the slight overexposure... I was way excited to have natural light in which to photograph. Thanks, Oregon. NOT.