Bananas. I’m not sure I could do with out them. So you’ll understand my feelings when, right after returning home from the grocery store, I dropped my precious four bananas on the ground. The horror! Dropping any fruit is bad, but I feel like bananas take it the worst. The insides turn to banana pulp! Crazy! And the way I dropped them was such that more than half of each banana was horribly bruised by the impact. I tried opening one to eat but couldn’t do it without a spoon, and I was a little put off by the bruising. Feeling sad and defeated, I put them in the fruit basket and tried to forget about the whole incident.

About four days later, the bananas started to get spotty. I was worried; I didn’t want to throw them out but didn’t want to eat them as is. What was I to do? A little voice sounded inside my ear and said things like, “You bake things! Bake banana things! You paid for those bananas! Use them!” I usually eat bananas too quickly to allow them to ripen, which means I don’t get the chance to bake with them. Not this time! So all is not lost, in fact, my love for banana baked goods is found again, especially with these waffles. The banana flavor isn’t pronounced, but you know it’s there, and you’ll love how the banana is complimented by oatmeal, cinnamon, and raisins. I’m going to count the banana dropping as a blessing this morning (but I promise to be more careful next time). Happy bananas for breakfast! Happy Breakfast Tuesday!

Oatmeal Banana Raisin Waffles

(Recipe only slightly adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance)

Yields exactly 4 Belgian waffles or up to 12 regular waffles

Notes: Instead of using both all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, you can use one cup and two tablespoons all-purpose flour. If you decide to use quick cooking oats, you don’t need to soak the oats in liquid mixture before adding to dry ingredients. If you don’t have nondairy milk on hand and/or don’t require waffles to be vegan, substitute whatever milk you have on hand.

Ingredients:

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ cup whole-wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup rolled, or old-fashioned, oats

1 very ripe banana, mashed well

1 ½ cups nondairy milk

3 tablespoons maple syrup

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

¾ raisins

Method:

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, mix together oats, banana, milk, syrup, and vegetable oil. Let mixture soak for 10 minutes while you preheat the waffle iron.

3. After ten minutes, pour wet ingredients into dry and mix just until combined. A few lumps will remain. Fold in raisins, taking care not to over mix.

4. Waffle according to manufacturer’s instructions, greasing waffle iron between waffles.

If you would like to keep the waffles warm between taking them off the iron and serving, preheat the oven to 200 degrees while the oatmeal is soaking and keep waffles in the oven, on a baking sheet lined with foil, up to 30 minutes before serving. Waffles will keep, refrigerated, up to a week, and frozen up to a month.

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I’ve been thinking about how to write this post all weekend, putting off the actual writing bit like that would ease the mental burden instead of what it did, which was make me even more stressed out about the whole thing. Because I couldn’t come up with a more interesting or witty way to introduce my thought, here it goes: I’m doing away with Variety Flour Thursdays. I realize this decision affects no one but myself, but it affects me in a big way. When I started this blogventure, my greatest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with it week to week because I’m notoriously bad at keeping a strict schedule and making time-related commitments. Turns out I got pretty good at the week by week thing, and was even able to keep Breakfast Tuesday afloat, but Variety Flour Thursday got to be too much. So there’s them apples.

The good news is that it forced me to think about why I’m actually blogging about my baketivities, why I started, and how I will continue. I started the site because I love baking for the people around me (and myself from time to time), and figured I might as well document what was going down, to help me articulate my thoughts surrounding an activity that I engage in two to three times a week, minimum. I continue to write and bake and eat because it makes me feel good to know I have the ability to connect with anyone who stumbles upon this site, not just the lovely people who receive my baked goods. Finally, I will be blogging for a long time and must understand that the way I function best is to bake what I want, when I want, regardless of the day.

Of course, I will definitely use different flours in my baking because I’m constantly on the search for new flavors and fun combinations. I found this recipe for peanut butter cookies and thought about how perfect it was for this post, this bit of news. Peanut butter cookies make me intensely happy, embarrassingly so, and this recipe allows the use of not only different flours but also non-processed, dare-we-say healthy, sweeteners and oils. AND, on top of everything, it is vegan friendly. And insanely delicious. I might be in love, which utterly and completely makes up for any sort of incompetence I might feel as a person who can’t for the life of her stick to a schedule.

PS- This is the first recipe I’m baking from 101 Cookbooks and I can’t tell you how excited I am about it. I’ve been reading her blog and flipping through her gorgeous cookbooks for MONTHS, since I started blogging, really, and have never been able to settle on a “first recipe”. Until now. Yay!

Peanut Butter Cookies

(Recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

Yields almost 3 dozen cookies using a generous tablespoon size cookie scoop

 

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, spelt flour, or all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup spelt, along with an 1/3 cup all-purpose flour because I used oily natural peanut butter)

1 teaspoon baking soda

(3/4 teaspoon salt if using unsalted peanut butter)

1 cup chunky peanut butter

1 cup maple or agave syrup (I used a maple-agave blend)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (less if you used an oily peanut butter)

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place oven rack in the top third of oven. Prepare cookie sheets by lining them with parchment.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour(s), baking soda, and salt, if using.

3. In a medium-size mixing bowl, or large liquid measuring cup, combine peanut butter, maple syrup, olive oil, and vanilla extract. Stir until homogenous.

4. Add liquid ingredients to dry and stir just until combined; streaks of flour are okay.

5. Let dough sit for at least 5 minutes before giving it one more stir or two.

6. Drop cookies by the tablespoonful, or use a cookie scoop, an inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Stick unused cookie dough in the fridge while dropped cookies bake for 10 to 11 minutes per sheet. Be careful not to overbake these particular cookies.

7. Let cookies sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Keep cookies covered at room temperature up to 3 days.

Often people are criticized for being stubborn. Hey, I criticize myself for being stubborn. But being stubborn can have its perks. If I’m not a huge fan of a certain music, I’ll read about it, listen to it, research it, find out why other people like it, analyze my own negative feelings toward it, and try as hard as I can to appreciate at least one aspect of it. It’s a long, sometimes tedious and sometimes fruitless, journey but I end up with a broadened musical horizon and, in general, more reconciled with the world around me.

Same goes for food. I will try a food/ingredient in as many combinations as possible until I find a way to make myself truly enjoy that particular food/ingredient. Luckily, when it comes to food, there isn’t much out there I don’t enjoy already. Unluckily, one of the foods that I have a hard time enjoying is granola. WEIRD. Rolled oats? Heck yes. Any sort of nut or dried fruit? I’ll eat the entire bag in a sitting. Doesn’t matter what it is. I’ll love it. But the combination of all these ingredients in granola form? I’d probably pass.

I’ve been thinking about this recipe since reading it this winter, and finally got around to making it. You’re witnessing my first attempt at making granola myself, and I’m hoping that this cures my ridiculous granola avoidance. First observation, granola is mad easy to prepare. Second observation, granola smells AWESOME when it’s baking. Does all granola smell this amazing while roasting in the oven?

All in all, I ended up really enjoying the end product but can’t see myself eating it by itself. How do you eat your granola? I’m anxious to start putting it in things and see if I can’t love it by the start of next week!

Chocolate Almond Granola

(Recipe adapted from Food in Jars, originally “Cocoa Hazelnut Granola”)

Yields about 4 cups granola

Ingredients:

1 cup slivered or coarsely chopped almonds

3 cups rolled, or “old-fashioned”, oats

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

¼ cup neutral oil (I used canola only because it was what I had on hand)

½ cup cane syrup, maple syrup, or agave syrup (I used a maple and agave syrup blend)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. When I need to toast nuts for a specific recipe, I spread them out on an ungreased baking sheet and place them in the oven, while it’s preheating, for 5 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, though, because nuts burn quickly.

2. When almonds come out of oven, all toasty and beautiful, mix with oats in a large mixing bowl. Add cocoa powder and salt, and then stir until all ingredients are coated.

3. Add oil, then using the same liquid measuring cup add syrup. Stir again until all ingredients are evenly coated.

4. Spread granola out evenly on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

5. When granola comes out of the oven, make a tightly packed granola mountain on baking sheet and let cool completely in order to get large chunks of granola.

Store granola in an airtight container at room temperature.

Contrary to my normal Breakfast Tuesday cravings, I really wanted eggs. Usually I wake up on Tuesdays and can only think about pastries, or waffles, or pancakes, or anything with heaping amounts of sugar that could be classified as “breakfast”. Someone once told me that your food cravings have a lot to do with what your body feels it is lacking. According to this theory, my body is sending every signal it can think of to make it very clear that I need to eat better things (at least some of the time) because I very rarely crave eggs. Well, you gotta do what you gotta do. I needed a breakfast baketivity not based on sugar content. In such cases as these I turn to cornmeal based goods.

The biscuits themselves were denser than I predicted, but that might be because I used coarse ground polenta-type cornmeal. Not sure if there is a difference between coarse ground and stone ground, but the cornmeal didn’t bake into the biscuits very well. Otherwise, I really enjoyed their presence at my breakfast table as an accompaniment to my eggs. I also like how you can play around with the amount and type of sugar used in the recipe, depending on your dietary needs or wants on any given morning.

I'm pretty awesome. Look at that SWEET smiley face.

Cornbread Biscuits

(Recipe adapted from Vegan Brunch)

Yields 10 to 11 biscuits using a ¼ cup measure, double that if dropping by the heaping tablespoonful

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal, stone-ground preferred

2 tablespoons brown sugar (recipe calls for ¼ cup granulated sugar)

2 tablespoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup canola oil

1 cup nondairy milk

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and lightly grease baking sheets.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients.

3. Pour oil, milk, and vinegar into well and gently mix just until all ingredients are moistened. Lumps of flour in batter are a-okay.

4. Drop biscuits with a ¼ cup measure or tablespoon. Biscuits should be dropped about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets, as they will spread.

5. Bake 12 to 14 minutes until tops are dry and firm. Bottoms should be lightly brown.

6. Let biscuits cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving.

Biscuits are best served ten minutes after coming out of the oven, but are still yummy at room temperature. Like most biscuits, these are best the day they are made.

I’ve been on the lookout for a versatile breakfast biscuit recipe since last month and the reason I haven’t settled on one yet is because I have very specific qualifications. My biscuit needs to be sweet. It needs to have easily adaptable batter; some days you bake them plain and other days you add fruits, nuts, chocolate chips, etc. It needs to blur the border of scone and biscuit, having a fluffy interior and sweet crusty exterior. The biscuits needs to have enough flavor and texture to stand alone but accepts jam, honey, and other sweet breakfast-y condiments. I know, I know, fat chance, right?

Wrong! You can imagine my excitement when coming across this recipe. It was originally titled “banana biscuits” but I knew immediately after skimming the recipe that it was, or at least could be, exactly what I’ve been searching for this past month (and perhaps all my life, but let’s not exaggerate… too much). I geared up and starting switching up ingredients, adding and subtracting mix-ins, and was not in any way disappointed. These biscuits border on scone, but have enough fluffy center to attract all those scone-haters. They aren’t cloyingly sweet, but the brown sugar and cinnamon sugar dusting add just enough sweetness that us sugar addicts need in the morning.

My room mate walked into the kitchen, grabbed one, and continued with her morning routine. Not five minutes later she peeks her head into the kitchen again and asks sweetly, “Can I have another, please?” But of course! Take as many as you want! Happy Breakfast Tuesday!

Crazy sunlight this morning. Sunlight! At last!

Vegan Drop Biscuits or “bis-cones”, if you’re so inclined!

(Recipe adapted from Vegan Diner)

Yields 9 to 10 biscuits, using a ¼ cup measure

 

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

2 tablespoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

½ cup [plus two tablespoons, in case batter is dry] nondairy milk (or regular milk if you decide not to bake these vegan)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup canola oil

1 banana, sliced thinly, or scant cup blueberries, or scant cup chocolate chips*

Cinnamon-sugar for dusting

*For mix-ins you should have a scant one cup total; seems like these biscuits were designed to hold whatever mix-in your heart desires. I made a few biscuits each plain, blueberry, banana, and chocolate chip, all sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and all of them not only baked for the same amount of time but also held together nicely.

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk or sift together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.

3. Add milk, vanilla, canola oil, and desired mix-ins to flour mixture and stir just until mixture comes together. Batter should be thick and sticky; if it isn’t add the extra two tablespoons nondairy milk.

4. Using an ¼ cup ice cream scoop with release mechanism or drop method, drop 9 or 10 equally sized biscuits onto lined baking sheets.

5. Bake each sheet in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. (The recipe says 20 minutes, but mine were very much done by 15.)

6. Cool on sheets for a minute before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Biscuits are best served the same day they are made, but can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container up to 2 days. I plan on freezing half of mine, already baked, and warming them up in a 375 degree F oven as needed.

Breakfast Tuesday came and went this week, without my doing a darn thing about it. How does that happen? How does time pass without our taking the time to notice it? Deep meditations this morning. Well, less meditation and more baffled amazement. I decided to (try to) redeem myself for neglecting my blog duties by posting a recipe that is both breakfast AND variety flour, so you can have your breakfast delicious and good for you this week.

Just as a beverage, tea is a key component of my days, and I think about baking with tea all the time. Not only can you incorporate tea whenever there is water in a recipe, or use matcha green tea powder, but you can also do fun things like infuse butter, and I imagine you can do infuse oil  if you so desire. I love the subtle flavors and colors that tea imparts on a batter. Since it’s a breakfast recipe, I didn’t want to get too fancy, but the addition of chai to these spelt flour pancakes ups the flavor ante and makes them seem more intricately made than they actually are.

My only sort-of complaint with this recipe was how the batter came out watery, like it could barely hold itself together. My first few pancakes stuck to my skillet, even though there was ample oil to prevent it. I remedied the situation by lowering the heat and paying more attention to the amount of oil in the skillet, but would like a hearty pancake batter that could hold its own in case you wanted to add fruit or nuts. The next time I make these, I’ll probably add an extra tablespoon or two of oil to the batter.

Spelt Chai Pancakes

(Recipe adapted from Vegan Diner)

Yields between 7 and 8 pancakes

Ingredients:

½ cup boiling water

4 chai tea bags, or 4 teaspoons loose tea

½ to ¾ cup non-dairy milk, as needed

1 cup spelt flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

Pinch ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

Extra oil for greasing skillet

Method:

1. In a liquid measuring cup, steep tea bags or loose tea in the boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove tea bags, or strain, making sure to squeeze as much water as possible out of the tea bags or loose tea. Add milk to tea until you have one cup of liquid.

2. In a medium bowl, stir to combine dry ingredients. Add milk tea mixture and oil. Stir just to combine, being careful not to over mix.

3. While batter rests for 5 to 10 minutes, preheat skillet over medium heat. Test by dropping water on the skillet; if the water sizzles, you’re set!

4. Grease skillet with cooking spray or canola/vegetable oil. If using oil, pour a tablespoon oil into the skillet and then wipe with a paper towel until oil creates a thin layer over the surface.

5. Drop batter into skillet using a ¼ cup measuring cup and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until you see bubbles rising to the surface of pancake. Flip pancakes, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until bottom is browned. Add oil to skillet as necessary between batches.

6. Serve warm!

I know it’s not recommended, but I store my extra pancakes in the fridge (wrapped in tin foil or in an airtight container) for up to 2 days after making them, heating them up as needed for a snack or breakfast.

I seem to be suffering from the never-ending cold, complete with new and different symptoms every few days. You know how when you are sick words on pages seem to dance circles around you? And the pictures seem to jump up off the page and wander? This made it very difficult for me to research my Variety Flour Thursday pick this week, but nothing is impossible. I gathered my blankets and shuffled to the kitchen to survey my cookbooks and ingredients.

I never tired of cookie dough landscapes, especially this one, flecked with blood orange zest!

Luckily for me, I had blood oranges in the fridge and agave nectar in the pantry. I can present a cookie that is a little out of the common way, containing significantly less refined sugar than your average cookie. My mother went on an agave nectar spree last year, either buying it for everyone she knows or convincing them it’s the miracle sweetener we’ve been searching for all these years. I was a grateful recipient and used it on pancakes and in tea. I hadn’t used it to bake before this recipe and now that I’ve seen the results, I’ll try using it more often.

And blood oranges? There’s nothing to be said about this extraordinary fruit. It’s my favorite and makes a wonderful addition to most baked goods (and my life).

Orange Agave Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Recipe adapted from Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar)

Yields 2 dozen generous tablespoon size cookies

Ingredients:

2/3 cup agave nectar

2/3 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons nondairy milk (or water in a no-milk emergency)

(Optional: 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds)

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoon orange zest (grated zest of one orange approximately)

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup, or 6 ounces, chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk agave nectar, oil, nondairy milk, flax seeds if using, vanilla extract, and orange zest until smooth and homogenous.

3. Sift in flours, leavening agents, and salt. Stir to combine, until there are no flour streaks.

4. Add chocolate chips. Stir to incorporate.

5. Form cookies into generous tablespoon-sized disks. These cookies barely spread and rise only slightly, so how they look before baking will be how they look after baking.

6. Bake each sheet in the oven for 12 to 14 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden.

7. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Store these cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

See this recipe on Sweet As Sugar Cookies for Sweets for a Saturday #7!