This past weekend was glorious. Not only was it a long weekend (though, I did have two weeks off for spring break), it was also the warmest Easter I can remember in a long time. There were record-breaking temperatures all over the lower mainland.
Adam and I went to Osoyoos to celebrate Easter with my family. Osoyoos is ‘Canada’s only desert’ – so it’s
already usually hotter than elsewhere – and this weekend it was especially hot. I couldn’t believe that it was March and we were walking into town in shorts and dresses, I even got burnt. Definitely a nice welcome to Spring.
It’s amazing and scary that my practicum for teaching is over next week. Four months has absolutely flown by and I am going to be very sad to leave my little grade two’s. Although, it was a breath of fresh air having two weeks off to regroup – with plenty of time spent in the kitchen cooking and baking. My ultimate stress relief and relaxing pastime.
In other news – Lainey finally got a hair cut. She is also the perfect size for our small throw pillow.
I always make a road-trip snack, it’s about a 4 hour drive up, and apparently I like to make something hearty that consists of banana and oats. Last May long-weekend I made these Blackberry, Oat & Banana Muffins for Adam and I to eat on the road.
Ever since we went to Seattle the weekend before, I had been craving and dreaming of the cookies we ate at Chaco Canyon Cafe. My two favourite fruits are Apples and Bananas – both are even better smothered in a nut butter, or perhaps my new love of sunflower seed butter (school approved. allergy safe). However, in baked goods I prefer bananas to apples. I think I’d take a slice of banana bread over a slice of apple pie (sorry Adam; apple pie is his favourite).
Both cookies at Chaco Canyon had a hint of banana in them, and I loved it. Adam liked the other cookie better, but I devoured the Vegan Cowboy Cookie – again, I like hearty baked goods, which is probably why I prefer a dense piece of banana bread with nuts than a piece of flakey apple pie.
This cookie is hearty.
It’s packed with nuts, toasted coconut, banana, oats and chocolate. It’s almost Vegan – they contain no egg, though I did not have vegan butter but if you have it on hand feel free to use it. I used two medium sized ripe bananas in place of half of the butter. Note they were not overly ripe bananas as in they were not brown or spotted like the type used for banana bread; just ripe with no green showing and still semi-firm. I love the combination of banana and chocolate, and I wanted to re-create the cookie from Chaco. I used leftover toasted coconut from my Bird’s Nest Cupcakes last week and Trader Joe’s Wheat Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free rolled oats. I subbed 2/3 of the flour for Coconut Flour that I received from iHerb and Trader Joe’s Almond Meal.
Almost-Vegan Cowboy Cookies
adapted from: Hell Yeah It’s Vegan!
- 2 cups unsweetened medium coconut, toasted
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 medium ripe bananas
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup coconut flour
- 1 cup almond meal
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups dark chocolate chips
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 2 cups chopped nuts pecans/walnuts
** If you don’t have coconut flour or almond meal you can use whole wheat flour, or all purpose for all amounts. And if you have vegan butter sub for regular butter **
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Toast coconut over medium heat in pan for 5 minutes until fragrant and browned, stirring frequently.
- In mixer with paddle attachment, whip the butter until creamy. Add in Banana and beat until incorporated on medium speed.
- Add in the sugar and splash of vanilla and mix again.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flours. Add in the almond meal along with cinnamon and use a whisk to stir together.
- Add dry ingredients 1/4 at a time to the banana mixture incorporating together.
- Remove from stand and mix in oats, chocolate chips, coconut and nuts by hand using wooden spoon.
- Create 1” balls of dough using scoop or by hand, and roll into ball. Flatten slightly with palm of your hand, then using the tines of the fork flatten the centre.
- Bake on very lightly greased cookie sheet or baking mat for 10-12 minutes until golden on the edges. Remove from oven and transfer to cookie sheet. The cookies will set once cool, so be careful not to over-bake, the centre may look a little soft.
These cookies are crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. They’re great for a snack on the go.
You can freeze the dough easily, once formed into balls freeze flat in Ziploc bag, or in tupperware placing wax paper between layers.
To bake from frozen, place on cookie sheet and allow to come to room temperature. Flatten slightly with palm, and place in oven. After 5 minutes, use a fork to flatten again. The dough will be too cold and crumble if you try to flatten it with a fork before placing in the oven – I’ve tried. I also recommend snacking on frozen cookie dough while waiting, there’s no eggs so it’s all good. And it is - so, so good.
Last week before we left on our long weekend getaway, I made cupcakes once again for the Heart and Stroke foundation bake sale. The Big Bike Team that I was baking for previously had some money leftover from their funding for the first bake sale, and we thought why not use the extra money to raise even more money. Once again it was a success! I made a few new flavours this time, Oreo Cookies & Cream, Mint Chocolate Chip, and since it was so popular last time, Coconut Cream. Once again I was more than happy to help out, and I am very proud to be part of such a great cause that has affected my family, and many others.
I had hoped to make some banana bread as well, but had some time restraints and was only able to make the cupcakes. Though, I aimed for about 70, and ended up baking about 93 cupcakes. Cupcake calculations are difficult, oh well, the more the better! However, that meant I still had some very ripe bananas at home. I figured I had better use them up before we go away. I’m a fan of muffins, but I usually end up with stout muffins, instead of large fluffy overflowing muffins. I sort of threw this recipe together before jumping in the shower to get ready. I took a simple muffin recipe, and added a few more ingredients to it. They turned out great – moist, fluffy, overflowing. The way a muffin should be.
We brought them along for the road trip, 4.5 hours there, 5 hours home (traffic :S). They also served as part of the ‘breakfast buffet’ we had each morning, eggs, lots of fruit, toast, green smoothies, turkey sausages. Being on vacation usually warrants extra snacks and large breakfasts. Luckily the condo has a full kitchen so we brought up our food and were able to cook each meal at home. We actually didn’t eat out once. Not even for a coffee! haha. Adam tried to get A&W on the way home, but the 40+ people in line deterred him, so he had to rely on the second box of Cheez-It’s he brought.
You can really use any berry in these. We picked a TON of blackberries last year, and still have a huge zip-lock full in the freezer so I tossed them in. Raspberries, or blueberries would be delicious as well. Even strawberries. Perfect for a road trip, breakfast, snack, or picnic.
Blackberry, Oat & Banana Muffins
Adapted from Joy of Cooking 75th Anniversary Edition Banana Nut Muffins
- 2-3 Very Ripe Bananas
- 1 Cup Berries of your choice, fresh or frozen
- 1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour (can also use whole wheat)
- 1/2 cup, plus a little more whole rolled oats, or quick cooking oats
- 2 tsp. Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup packed Brown Sugar
- 1/3 cup Canola oil
Pre-Heat oven at 375
- Whisk together in medium bowl, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
- In another large bowl, combine egg, brown sugar, bananas and canola oil. Using a mixer, hand held or stand, mix together thoroughly until the banana is smooth.
- Switch to a wooden spoon, or spatula, and add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients until just combined, do not over mix. Last, fold in the berries and oats until just moistened. The batter should not look smooth at this point.
- Divide the batter between twelve medium muffin cups/liners, or a well greased muffin tin.
- Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
These will keep 2-3 days, and can easily be frozen for a quick snack.
I’ve finally conquered baking with yeast. I had stayed away from making things that used it such as breads, sweet dough and other risen products. I had always feared it would not work. I even thought I couldn’t make baking soda biscuits. But, Adam’s mom assured me that no one could screw it up. We usually go to his parents house every tuesday night for dinner, and a favorite of ours is the biscuits she makes. Right out of the oven, with jam. Sooooooooooo gooooood. I think I eat about 10 each time. Maybe it was a good idea I didn’t know how to make them myself. I could see it being an issue.
But, I actually did try them one night and they rose and everything! I was super excited. And Adam and I ate them gladly.
So, I thought it was time to try my hand at dough. I started in the summer with pizza dough. It worked out ok, but I actually think it wasn’t that great. The dough didn’t rise all that much, but still tasted great. I tried it again recently for cinnamon buns and they turned out deeeeeelicious! But its dangerous for a whole batch to be in the little apartment with Adam and I.
For Adam’s birthday I made dough again, and it rose perfectly! All puffed up, and I had to punch it down. I made him birthday night pizza, and using the leftover dough made cinnamon buns again. I love cinnamon buns.
Is it cinnamon buns? Or cinnamon rolls? I think ‘rolls’ are more popular in the states, and ‘buns’ is a popular saying here in Canada.
Either way, its good. So one morning after Adam ate the last cinnamon bun, I was in withdrawls. I did however have some leftover cream cheese icing in the fridge. I thought hey, I can’t let this go to waste. My usual oatmeal consists of either A. Peanut butter and honey with banana, or B. plain cinnamon sprinked on top. I decided to have the latter, and add a small teaspoon of brown sugar to it. And hey, why not top it with some cream cheese icing and make it into cinnamon bun oatmeal?
Best. decision. ever.
It was just like eating a cinnamon bun, except slightly healthier. I hope. I definitely suggest trying it as a special weekend breakfast. I might have OD’d a litle on the icing this weekend, Adam thought it was pretty sweet. But, I do have a major sweettooth. Either way, try it! It’s a great semi-healthy-sweet breakfast option for the weekend.
Cinnamon Bun Oatmeal
1/3 cup of oatmeal (this is how much I eat, Adam has a whole cup, so however much you like)
few dashs of cinnamon
1 tsp. Brown sugar
–for the cream cheese icing–
1/4 cup low fat cream cheese
3-4 tbs. confectioners sugar
splash of lemon juice
Make your bowl of oatmeal as you would. I like mine to have just enough water to absorb it, as a more dry oatmeal, whereas Adam has mushier oatmeal
Stir in the cinnamon and brown sugar.
In another bowl, cream together icing ingredients until full incorporated to the consitency you like. I use a pastry bag to pipe it over the top, just for show, but you can just spoon a dollop onto of your oatmeal. Then give it a good stirring to mix it all together. And dig in!
It’s just like a cinnamon bun. roll? Either one.