Orange bars: like a creamsicle only WAY better

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Hello!! I have citrusy goodness for you today, because this time of year is all about the citrus and scurvy is bad news.

Besides that, I used to LOVE 50/50 bars when I was a kid (you know, those popsicle-looking things that were orange on the outside and vanilla on the inside? also known as a creamsicle?) and I wanted something that tasted sort of like that, only WAY better and not filled with all the junk. So I made these!

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Orange bars with a vanilla almond crust… pair them with vanilla ice cream and they are pretty much the perfect citrus dessert.

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Let’s see, what else is new… more drawing, of course — still on the SF series, naturally.

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I think that’s about it, otherwise I’m business as usual over here — didn’t really bake diddly for Thanksgiving so I’ll have to make up for it at Christmas, which is (gasp) rapidly approaching.

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Citrus was requested and I was thinking of doing something along those lines anyway, but I really wanted to do something besides lemon. I LOVE lemon, but… it’s always the favored child when it comes to citrus desserts. Let’s let oranges have their time in the limelight, ya know? …. Limelight? Really?? That just happened. Let’s see how many citrus references can fit in one sentence…

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Anywayyyy. Make these! Eat them! Your neglected oranges will love you, and you’ll get a nice blast of creamsicle nostalgia.

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Orange Bars with Vanilla Almond Crust

(Otherwise known as Creamsicle bars but that’s probably trademarked…)

Gluten & grain free, refined sugar free, easy dairy free option, probs paleo depending on your definition… all around delicious. I was going for the creamsicle flavor profile here and I haven’t eaten a 50/50 bar in years, but I’m pretty sure this really close (and, frankly, better tasting… let’s be real). These bars are light and citrusy, easy, delicious, and free of all the junk!

Sorry for some of the strange measurements — I prefer this in an 8 by 8 pan and I like my layers a little thicker, which is why the measurements are a little weird. Don’t forget to zest your oranges and then juice them! Nothing like attempting to zest pre-juiced oranges, it might be one of the more annoying kitchen things I’ve inadvertently done.

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For the crust:

  • 1.5 c almond flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 + 1/8 c unsalted almond butter
  • 1.5 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1.5 tbsp salted butter, softened (or coconut oil for non dairy)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 4.5 eggs*
  • scant 3/4 c pure maple syrup
  • zest of 3 oranges, roughly chopped
  • 1/4c + 1/8c fresh orange juice
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 4.75 tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

* to achieve half an egg: crack an egg into a small bowl and whisk it; then either measure or eyeball half and use that. or just use a whole one as long as it’s small, I doubt it would affect the consistency of the bars all that much…

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

In a large bowl, stir together almond flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Add in almond butter, maple syrup, softened butter, and vanilla, and stir until combined and crumbly. Press the crust dough evenly into the prepared pan, and poke with a fork a few times. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside when done.

While the crust is baking, make the filling! In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, maple, orange zest and juice, seal salt, coconut flour (sifted if lumpy) and vanilla until smooth. Pour into the parbaked crust, and bake for 30-35 minutes. The top should be mostly firm and the filling set, with just a small amount of wiggle (it’ll firm up as it cools). Let cool completely and eat immediately or chill in the fridge for later (I like them cold!) — serve with vanilla ice cream for maximum creamsicle flavor :) Store any leftovers in the fridge.

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Wait. Free time?! I’m unfamiliar with this concept.

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Looklooklook I actually had time to make something!!! Actually, I had time to make TWO somethings, because well.. the oven was already on. So obviously. I also had a super productive weekend that also included time to work out and time to sit on my butt and read. Generally speaking, I consider this a highly successful weekend. Jessie thinks so too.

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And… I made bars!

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It felt so good to bake. I swear, it’s probably been about a month and that is WAY too long. These were a product of that fun game “let’s see what’s in the fridge and what I can make with it, depending on my mood and a billion other factors, but actually depending on what food is actually present”. It’s fun, kind of like a treasure hunt in the pantry.

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And (shockingly, not), I ended up with barz! I know, I know. But they’re just so delicious and fast and easy and satisfying. So, bars. Cookies were slightly too high maintenance for this particular weekend (though I did make a tiny batch of 10 cookies, just to be thorough).

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These are great for the indecisively minded, which I tend towards when I’m baking…. usually I want five things and can’t decide which of the five to bake. Sooo…. I decided to get creative and make both, at the same time. Problem mega solved. Now I have barz AND blondies AND brownies without having a gigantic pile of baked goods staring me in the face. Winning, winning.

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Also, succulents are awesome!

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Swirled Chocolate Tahini Barz

Half blondie, half brownie, for when you really can’t decide or you’re so braindead from biostats that you just decide that deciding isn’t worth the effort. Enter the hybrid bar. The best of both worlds with a minimum of effort.

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Gluten free, dairy free, soy free, refined sugar free and vegan! Spread the love. A Wait are those Cookies original.

  • 1.5 c almond flour
  • 1 c quinoa flour, toasted*
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 c tahini (mine is unsalted)
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed + 6 tbsp water)
  • 1/2 c pure maple syrup + 1 tbsp, divided
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c avocado oil
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce + heaping 1/8 c unsweetened applesauce, divided
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

*In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, stir the flour occasionally until it’s fragrant, about 5 minutes. Toasting reduces the otherwise slightly bitter nature of quinoa and quinoa flour.

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan.

Make flax eggs, and set aside to gel.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, quinoa flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Add in tahini, flax eggs, 1/2 c maple, avo oil, and 1/4 c applesauce. Stir until just combined — try to avoid overmixing. Take half of the batter and plop it into half of the prepared pan. Add the cocoa powder, 1 tbsp maple, and 1/8 c applesauce to the remaining batter, and stir to combine. Drop this chocolatey goodness into the other, empty, half of the prepared pan, and using a knife, swirl the middle bits together (or go crazy and do the whole thing, I’m not going to stop you!). Pop this goodness into the oven for just about 35 minutes, when the top should be mostly firm and a tester comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan, then cover and store any leftovers in the fridge.

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Actually yes, I do eat something besides barz.

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Before you say anything, I am totes aware that the last billion recipes on here are bars. I knoooow. I’m working on that, obviously not very successfully… One day, in the hopefully not to distant future, I will get off my bar train and blog about something different. And you’ll be so shocked, I’ll have to come over there and pick you up off the floor. But until that day… Barz.

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So….. I wasn’t necessarily going to blog about these, but then I ate one and discovered how deep, dark, datey and delicious they were, and decided they were too good not to share. Besides, they’re much fudgier than a lot of my barz recently, so you know. Variety is the spice of life, right? Right. But dates and dessert and chocolate and tahini also make life spicy, so why not eat those too?

Also because spicy life = great life.

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And also because I wrote the last two sentences yesterday, and I ate a brownie last night and they only get better hanging out in your fridge, so there are really no reasons not to make them (unless of course there is no food processor readily accessible… sadly these aren’t one that you could hack, unless your by-hand mashing and blending abilities are on par with some kind of superhero. Even I, who avoids using appliances if at all possible, busted out the food processor on this one). SO! Brownies! That are phenomenally good for you and also delicious. Can’t beat that.

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Okay so further ALSO: it was a billion degrees here this past weekend, but I really needed brownies, so I stupidly ran the oven (no bake treats were just not going to cut it). I also stupidly decided that peeling an entire can of chickpeas was a good idea. I know I know, I sound like a crazy. But here’s why: I’d heard forever that peeling your chickpeas makes for smoothy smooth homemade hummus. And having been extremely put off and irritated by the grittiness of my previous batches of homemade hummus, I decided that standing in my million degree kitchen on my day off pinching the skin from each individual chickpea was a good idea. Um, just no. But I can happily report that my hummus is SPECTAC. And it has beets in it, so it’s pink…which obviously ups its superiority factor. Incidentally, I was also out of lemon juice and had to pinch hit with limes. Amazingly, it’s some of the best hummus I’ve had in awhile AND it is silky silky smooth. So unfortunately the peeling method does work. I might be convinced to do it again… maybe. Just not when it’s a thousand degrees out and all I want to do is lay on the air vent like my cat.

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And one further aside, that is completely unrelated. I (just for laughs) calculated my average fruit and veg intake on a standard work day (lunch varies; dinner varies but my overall veggie intake during the week is pretty standard each day). An article I saw sparked my curiosity — it was a pictorial essay of different combinations of fruit / veg that meet the official recommendations; and my first thought was, ‘wait. that’s IT?!’, which made me want to see what my intake looks like within the official guidelines. According to the government website calculator, I am supposed to eat 2 servings / cups of fruit per day, and 3 servings / cups of veg a day. At which point I calculated mine for the day (and it’s only 2 pm. I haven’t even had dinner yet, which will contain at least another cup of veggies, and then there are dates in my dessert)… and I’m at 3.5 servings / cups of fruit, and 4.5 servings / cups of veg. Sooooooo….. yeah. I’m basically a piece of produce. And plant-powered!

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And a bit of freehand, just cause!

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Tahini Date Brownies

Gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free and flour-free deliciousness! Whole food ingredients to show your bod how much you love it. Recipe makes one 8 by 8 pan. Inspired by Graceful Kitchen, here! In case you’re interested in this stuff, like I am, tahini is an excellent source of calcium, vitamins / minerals, and omega 3’s + unsaturated (good!) fat; dates are generally just fabulous for you (assorted vitamins / minerals / too many bennies to list); and dark chocolate + unsweetened cocoa powder = minerals, flavonoids, and antioxidants. In sum… eat whole-food brownies, absorb nutrients, be happy.

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  • 1 15 oz can of white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c packed + pitted medjool dates*
  • 1/2 c tahini
  • scant 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • heaping 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips
  • optional…. sort of: 1 – 2 squares of chili-spiced chocolate, for a bit of subtle heat

*If the dates get hard, a 15 minute soak in boiling or very hot water usually softens them enough so that they won’t murder the food processor… Also, the date soaking water can be used in smoothies! Mmm. Or to cook oatmeal… or anywhere you need a little liquid sweet.

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan (or use parchment. These are sticky, so if you want more evenly sliced bars, I would recommend the parchment route. Otherwise, I didn’t have a problem getting them out sans paper).

In the food processor, combine drained beans, dates (soaked if necessary; drain before adding), tahini, maple, and vanilla. Process for a few seconds, to get the dates broken up. Add cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and process until the batter is nearly completely smooth. I left a few chunks of dates in mine, but I draw the line at chunks of beans, no thanks. Stir in chocolate chips and chopped chocolate, and spread the batter into the prepared pan (it’s thick, so just go for the rustic look). Bake for 29-32 minutes, until the top is mostly firm and a tester comes out clean. These are very fudgy (and they’re vegan), so if you want to underbake them for super-goop, go ahead! Mine were perfect and sufficiently fudgy at 30 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan before slicing. Store in the fridge (I cover the pan with foil till they’re mostly gone, then transfer them to a tupperware).

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All things legume

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Apparently I’m on a roll with the barz here… this isn’t intentional (and they do get a little redundant to photograph after awhile), but I guess legume-based dessert barz are my jam these days. Who knew.

BECAUSE THEY’RE AMAZING!

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Or maybe because I’m obsessed with all things legume. Whatever, one of my nicknames is Lentil for a reason…

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Also, I inadvertently had ice cream for dinner last Friday night. Sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do. See below for photographic evidence. I’ll give you one measly guess which one is mine…

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But back to barz. I’ll address your concern: no, you can’t taste the lentils (much like the time I made red lentil coconut ice cream — you get the earthiness from the lentils but once they’re hangin out with cashew butter and maple, your tastebuds don’t go LENTILS?! WTF?! No no. They’re actually a very neutral flavor. What’s more (because, there’s always more; just like parenthetical asides within a parenthetical aside; redundant much?! Jeez), the lentils add a whambam, no nonsense, whole food protein punch to your dessert, which is just winning in my book). I have other lentil barz on the blog but these are my favorites. They present kind of like an oatmeal cookie, with a similar texture, and I’m all over it.

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ALSO. By virtue of the fact that these are… virtuous… they qualify for breakfast-snack-lunch-snack-dinner-dessert; or some combination to that effect. You know, because LENTILS and OATS and CHOCOLATE. Which also happen to be three of my very fave things. I’m reserving them for dessert, for now… but I may have evened off a sliver to go with my breakfast. I mean, come on… the edge was uneven. You can’t have uneven bar cookies, it’s a crime. Luckily I am very adept (I learned this skill from my similarly-adept mother) at trimming and neatening all baked goods. It’s an essential skill, right up there with smoothing and leveling off the ice cream (though that one, I learned from my gram who was extremely wise in these kinds of things).

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So, barz. Sorry this is pretty much the umpteenth bar recipe on here and about the elevendyith that is made with a legume of some sort, but I’ve just been too lazy for indivudual cookies lately, and big chewy squares of bar cookie with a fork have been very appealing (they’re also fast, excellent when you’ve been out of the house for 12 hours including a workout, you’re famished and a nutrient-dense, satisfying sweet treat is necessary).

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Oaty Cashew Butter Lentil Bars

Vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free, soy free. And delicious! They are lightly sweet and satisfying (both taste testers concurred, and one of them likes really sweet things — I’m looking at you, Vacuum Vati!), so they appeal to a broad range of tastes. Recipe yield is one 8 by 8 pan, and is inspired by Ambitious Kitchen, here.

  • 1/2 c red lentils (dry), rinsed
  • 1/2 c cashew butter
  • 1/3 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water; let sit 5 minutes)
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • heaping 1/4 c cashew meal
  • heaping 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips

In a small saucepan, combine red lentils and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Lentils are done when soft and all of the water has been absorbed. Set aside to cool. Once they’re cool, puree them with a tablespoon or two of water in the food processor, until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together cashew butter, maple syrup, and vanilla (if your cashew butter is cold, arm strength is necessary… think of it as part of your workout). Once combined, stir in flax egg and pureed lentils. On top of all that, toss in the oats, cashew meal, sea salt, baking soda, and chocolate chips. Stir until combined. Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and smoothy smooth out the top if that’s your thing. Pop them into the oven for 28-35 minutes — 28 will give you gooey bars, and more like 33 will give you dense and chewy ones (I prefer the latter). For the chewy, dense bars at about 33 minutes, the top should be firm to the touch, and a tester should come out nearly clean with a few crumbs.

Store covered in the fridge for extra chewyness (my fave).

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Messy blobs of Jackson Pollock ice cream

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Trashed up desserts are the best kind of desserts.

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I usually find that ice cream and rainbow sprinkles are my preferred trashing-up methods of choice… and once the ice cream starts melting, you can go all Jackson Pollock on your dessert. This method is especially fun when there is drizzly caramel involved, obviously.

Apologies for the lousy photos… Realized this was too good not to share when I was in the process of annihilating it. Let’s just go along with the Jackson Pollock theme, hooookay?! And actually, I’m kind of loving the messy blobs of ice cream…

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And yes, this ice cream does contain eggs and dairy. If you follow me regularly, you’ll know that over a month ago I was told I had an intolerance to a bunch of different foods (after feeling like garbage for three months), so I went cold turkey and stopped eating all of them for a month. And I felt exactly the same (ie, crappy) for that whole month. So, I am a) back to eating those things and b) in the process of being tested for a bunch of other stuff to find out what’s going on. Which means that as it doesn’t make me feel any worse than I already do, ice cream is back on the table. Because it makes me happy, and until I have a better idea of what’s causing this unceasing bout of crappy, I will eat things that make me happy. Le sigh. Ideally answers will be forthcoming, and SOON.

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But enough of that, because I don’t like wallowing, I like dessert. Let’s indulge instead in some messy delicious photos of dessert. Because dessert is way more fun than wallowing, and messy food is sometimes more fun to photograph than perfect food. Even when it’s lacking sprinkles (I know, I don’t know what I was thinking. Obviously I wasn’t).

So here you have some chickpea oatmeal cashew butter bars… because I took all the delicious things and crammed them into one bar. Because I can. I’m definitely a fan of bean-based desserts— it’s a great way to get a little extra protein boost in your dessert, besides the fact that they’re naturally gluten free and delicious. AND THEN you throw ice cream all over the top of it and pat yourself on that back for a job well done.

A word of caution to the super sweet fans out there: these bars are lightly sweet, but definitely not overly so. The maple could be increased, depending on your preference; I like them less sweet though so a 1/4 c was fine for me.

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Cashew Chickpea Oat Bars

Gluten free, dairy free, vegan, refined sugar free, and full of good carbs and healthy fats. Lightly sweet and cakey Quick to make, and minimal clean up (especially if you bung the food processor into the dishwasher as I’ve become fond of doing… more a slightly more drought-friendly option than trying to hand wash the stupid thing). Recipe yields one 8 by 8 pan, or somewhere in the neighborhood of 9-12 bars. Lightly adapted from the Natural Nurturer, here!

  • 1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 c hemp milk (or other non dairy of choice)
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 c unsalted cashew butter
  • 1 heaping tsp vanilla
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed + 6 tbsp water, let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • heaping 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan.

Add garbanzo beans to the food processor, and pulse until they’re mostly broken up but still slightly chunky. Add maple, hemp milk, applesauce, cashew butter, vanilla, flax eggs, baking powder, and sea salt, and process until mostly smooth. It won’t be completely smooth, but a few chunks are okay. Add in oats, and pulse to combine, but leave the oat pieces intact like an oatmeal cookie (in other words, don’t let it go until the oats are completely smooth— you want texture!). Stir in chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top (and eat the extra off your fingers, bonus points for being vegan). Bake for 27- 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top is lightly browned.

Store any leftovers (ha, you’re funny) in the fridge, either in the pan covered in foil or a sealed container (I usually move them to a tupperware after a day or two).

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Brownies, a fuzzy duckling butt, and a dead fridge

IMG_2240 I’m back I’m back I’m back! Whew. Finally. Except I feel like I said that in my last post… I just have NO TIME to cook or bake interesting things. But… it’s not forever, so I’ll just deal for now. But I miss my invisible internet friends! So today, I have brownies and some random things from life lately. That are sometimes food but mostly not… Because I’ve gotten back into my doodle habit! It took a looooong hiatus all though college but it’s back, and all I want to do is draw. Like this: IMG_2234 And this! IMG_2224 And this. IMG_2235 I also ate this weird tuna-beet-hybird the other day and it was actually delicious: Steamed beets sautéed in a little bit of olive oil with mushrooms, topped with tuna and avo and mustard all mashed up together. I know, I know, I describe it so deliciously… But seriously. Who knew beets and tuna could be friends?! IMG_2219 And then it was Easter! IMG_2226 IMG_2216 Which meant bacon and chocolate and more bacon and more chocolate and also a quesadilla that was PERFECTLY GOLDEN which I admired and promptly spastically threw on the floor. Inadvertently, natch. It was actually kind of comic and hilarious and I a little bit wish I had a picture…. but not really. There was also an incident that particular weekend involving a cake that stuck horribly and ended up gracing the compost…. but let’s not talk about that. Obviously not exactly a banner weekend for cooking shenanigans. IMG_2244 So now I have these brownies to share, because brownies are awesome! These aren’t overly sweet (they’re sweetened with dates and maple) and are gluten free. They’re on the fudgier end of the spectrum rather than cakey, so if you’re seeking the latter, you might want to toddle off to another recipe. IMG_2239 They’re also not as wickedly dark as I usually make my brownies, mostly because there was this solid chocolate bunny lying around and he said that he wanted to be in brownies… So now he is. Don’t worry, no bunnies were harmed in the making of dessert… IMG_2243 IMG_2242 Also…. SO FUN! Our fridge died on Wednesday morning. NO, fridge, that is NOT ACCEPTABLE. You do not just die with no warning. I have nut butters in you!!! So now I am sort of living out of a cooler? Until the part that died is ordered… it is really not spectacular fun. I don’t exactly recommend it… especially when you love love love produce, and all those fancy nut flours that need to live in the fridge. These brownies were an excuse to use up some of the perishable biz (as was the banana bread that happened right after these)… and also, an excuse to use some of the awesome organic-fed eggs from my neighbor! Wheee! Local at it’s best. IMG_2238 IMG_2246

Almond Flour Brownies 

Lightly sweet and appropriately chocolatey, these brownies are gluten free, grain free, and refined sugar free. The recipe is lightly adapted from Culinary Couture, here! Recipe yields a 8 by 8 pan (and it’s up to your discretion how large you want to cut them, I definitely won’t be judging). IMG_2247 IMG_2241

  • 1 c almond flour
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 oz dark chocolate
  • 1/4 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 10 small deglet noor dates* (actually, I think medjool would be way better but I was using what I had)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 almond butter (mine was roasted + unsalted)
  • 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips

*Soaked in boiling water for 10-15 minutes if they’re all craggy and hard, or if you just have a wimpy food processor Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan with coconut oil. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, sea salt, baking powder, and cocoa powder. In a smaller bowl, melt chocolate and coconut oil together, either using a double boiler or the lazy microwave method (I may or may not have done that, ahem). In a food processor, whizz your maple syrup, soaked dates, vanilla, eggs, and almond butter. Process until mostly smooth (less than a minute is fine), then add chocolate-coconut oil and process until incorporated. Dump this very thick, goopy goodness into your dry ingredients, add chocolate chips, and use those biceps to stir it all together. The batter will be very thick, so enjoy the arm workout. Spread the batter into the prepared pan (I found that a spoon followed by damp hands did the trick nicely), and bake for 20-22 minutes. I took mine out at 22 but probably could have gone a little less. Let cool before slicing, and store in an airtight container. IMG_2242 IMG_2212

BlondieHenge

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HOmg these are good.

They’re like giant dense, chewy hunks of almondy goodness… almond butter and almond flour and… well actually that’s really all I need, isn’t it?? I swear, nuts are a food group for me. Probably because I AM nuts. Or something.

How is it already pretty much Thanksgiving?! Where did the last two months go?? This is absurd. I would like October back, please.

But actually… I like Christmas music. And coniferous trees in my living room. So I guess we can keep this moment of now where it currently is…

And in the meantime, I’ll eat these, thank you very much.

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Whoever told you playing with you food wasn’t socially acceptable is lame because it’s FUN! Who doesn’t want to make Stonehenge out of tiny bits of almond butter blondie!? I speak from experience. You should really try it sometime. Extra points for squatting on the floor because the light is better down there, and that way your cat can investigate and decide that what you’re doing is acceptable. They do that, you know. But look!!! There are trilithons and uprights and lintels in my blondie henge. Which, by the way, is lots more fun than Stonehenge because you can play deity for a bit and then EAT YOUR HENGE!! What a revolutionary concept.

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Also this kind of reminds me a lot of fifth grade when we studied colonial America and made shops out of shoeboxes. Not sure really why making an henge out of blondie bits as a 24 year old reminds me of fifth grade, but whatever. It’s fun walk down memory lane. Anyway… I chose the apothecary, since they fascinated me with all the little jars of interesting things. And being the architect’s daughter that I am, I cut up bits of clear plastic tubing (no doubt obtained on an educational trip with said architect to Ace hardware to learn about practical things) into ‘jars’ and filled them all up with spices and mysterious things, and hot glued them all to the back shelves of the box-shop. It smelled… AMAZING. Maybe that is where my early love of spices came from?? Anyway. This has nothing to do with blondies or henges but there you go. Welcome to my brain box, it’s weird in here.

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Make blondie henges. Just trust me. Your inner child (or maybe your outer child because really, who wants to grow up?! It’s overrated) will thank you.

Also blondie henges are delicious. They also do double duty by satisfying my eternally curious and historically inclined nature.

Happy Almost Thanksgiving!

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Ps. Furry friends are the absolute best snuggle buddies, especially when you’re wrapped in their favorite blanket.

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Almond Butter Blondie Bars

Grain free, gluten free, vegan, and refined sugar free! Those are my current four favorite things about treats these days (especially the refined sugar free bit). They’re super easy to whip up and don’t bake for very long, both plusses for me. I’m definitely not against spending quality time in the kitchen, but there also time when you need a treat like yesterday and a quick baking time is essential. This recipe makes very tall bars in an 8 by 8 pan—anywhere from 9 to a zillion bitty bits of Blondie Henge depending on how you slice em. Recipe adapted from A Clean Bake, here!

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  • 3.5 c almond flour
  • scant 1/2 c coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c roasted unsalted almond butter
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed+6 tbsp water)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c pure maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan. Make your flax egg by combining flax and water, and set it aside to gel for about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour (sift it if it’s lumpy, nothing ruder than lumps of coconut flour in baked goods), sea salt, and baking soda. In a smaller bowl, stir together almond butter, gelled flax egg, vanilla, maple, and almond milk. Add wet into dry, add chocolate chips, and stir until everything is combined. The dough is thick—I added an extra splash of almond milk when I stirred everything together, which is totally fine but don’t go overboard (I used only about a tbsp extra). Spread the batter into the prepared pan (I found a silicone spatula to work well for this). Sling the pan into the oven, and bake for 13-14 minutes (mine was perfect at 14). There might be some moist crumbs on the tester, but they should be a little densey-fudgy. Let cool before slicing, or else they’ll get crumbly. These are my favorite right out of the fridge, since the cold kind of solidifies their chewy denseness. Store any leftovers in the fridge (I usually just leave them in the pan and cover it with foil).

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My sandwich is exploding kale

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Drool drool drool.

I had no idea these bars were going to be so spectacular!!! But they were. And thankfully for me and my sweets consumption they went on the plane to Oregon with m&v, those lucky ducks. I have serious problems when I go to Portland… I just want ALL THE FOOD. And I run into that reoccurring problem of most mortals in that only so much goodness will fit in my stomach. With whom do I register a complaint for this ridiculous design flaw?!

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But anyway. They needed plane snacks and any excuse to bake is fine by me so these happened.

And I am soooo glad they did.

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Sorry in advance for the next bajillion posts being sweets, don’t say I didn’t warn you… Jill (of the blog Halfway There and the tamales and flan madness) and I are having our bimonthlyish baking extravaganza later today sooooo there will be cake and ice cream and cookies. And quinoa pizza…just to, you know, round things out. Because why make just one thing?! How boring. But more on that later.

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Also tacos. And feet. And there was a pool behind me and what more could you want on a weekend? Sadly that was last weekend (of the light side/dark side bars) and there is currently no pool in sight for me. Harumph.

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Also KALE!!! Could there be any more kale in this sandwich?! I think not. KALE EXPLOSION! Love love love. I know it’s random but KALE!!! is AMAZING!! And it’s my blog. So I’m sharing.

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But for now. BARZ. M&V needed something that traveled well and wouldn’t be too crumbly so obviously dates. And nuts for sustenance whilst traveling (much better than that garbage you typically find in airports). And only five ingredients, all whole foods, all things that come from nature and are eaten while still resembling their natural state. Wheeee!

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Pecan Date Bars

Beyond simple to put together! Chewy, naturally sweet and delicious. Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, dairy free!  Might be paleo? Easily veganized. Healthy fats [pecans], a good source of vits/mins [dates], antioxidants [extra dk chocolate] + protein. Perfect travel (or anytime) snacks. Recipe adapted from Ellaphant Eats, here! Makes 9 giantish bars, or more if you cut them smaller… but… why?!

  • 1 c pitted medjool dates [soaked in hot water for about 10 minutes if they’re like rocks]
  • 2 c raw pecans
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 eggs*
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate, chopped or chips (mine was chips for hurried baking)

*or two flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed+6tbsp water) veganizes this nicely 

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Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan with your thing of choice (I like coconut oil).

In a food processor (what on earth would I do without these?!), process softened dates and pecans until a sticky, clumpy dough forms. The pecan pieces should be relatively small (just don’t over do it and end up with nut butter…). Pulse in vanilla and sea salt, followed by the eggs. Remove the blade and stir in 1/4 c chocolate chips. Scoop the batter out into the prepared pan, and flatten it out with a spatula or your fingers or whatever. Press the remaining chocolate chips into the top of the bars. Bake for just about 19-20 minutes, until the edges are browned. The center will still feel slightly soft, but a tester should come out clean. Let cool in the pan, then cut and store in a sealed container in the fridge.

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The usual nonsense

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More of that light side/dark side dessertyness.

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I actually made these last weekend but have been too busy/lazy/my novel is too good lately to actually get around to posting them. But they happened to be a big hit with the fam so I thought I would be nice and share them. These went well together—the super dense fudgy almond butter brownies played nicely with the lighter caramel bars—those aren’t super sweet, so it made a nice contrast.

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I’m feeling a little brain dead today so pardon the lack of text and written nonsense, I’ll just leave you with the photos and that drool that just hit your keyboard…

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Almond Butter Brownies

Super fudgy, tall brownies with a chewy crust. These are honey sweetened, and you could definitely taste the honey in my batch. I liked it, as a change from the typical brownies that I make, but if you’re not a fan of honey flavor in baked goods, I would sub maple or another liquid sweetener. Recipe only slightly adapted from Smells Like Brownies, here! Makes one 8 by 8 square pan (I had to use round since the square pan I have was currently in use, but I think there’s something weird about round brownies…). Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free!

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  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c raw, runny honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c organic almond butter (mine was unsalted)
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325, and lightly grease pan of choice with coconut oil.

In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, beat together eggs, honey, and vanilla until smooth. Beat in almond butter. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir dry into wet, mixing until just combined and adding in chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake 25-30 minutes. The center should be slightly puffed, and a toothpick should come out mostly clean (a teeny bit of fudgy is okay, but excessively under baked is ew). Let cool completely before slicing, and store any leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge.

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Salted Caramel Coconut Bars

This one is slightly adapted from Quiche-a-week (love that blog!) here! Chewy, thick salty-caramel-chocolate-spelt-coconut things. Vegan, refined sugar free! They’re made with spelt flour, which can be easier to digest than wheat, even if you aren’t wheat intolerant (though this is *not* gluten free). Yield: 9-12 bars, in an 8 by 8 pan.

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For the caramel:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/4 c unsweetened almond milk
  • a hefty pinch (1/4+ tsp) sea salt

For the barz:

  • 1.75 c spelt flour
  • 1/4 c almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 c shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 4 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp peanut butter (preferably the separating kind)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed+6 tbsp water (2 flax eggs)
  • 1/3 c dark chocolate chips
  • up to 1/4 unsweetened almond milk

Make the caramel first so it has a little time to cool! In a saucepan, melt coconut oil, coconut sugar, and maple until it starts to fizz and thicken. When it starts bubbling, add the almond milk. Let it bubble for just a bit, then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 3 ish minutes. Stir only occasionally, but mostly just let it sit. Once it’s thickened a little (almond milk won’t thicken too crazy much), turn off the heat, stir in the sea salt, and let it cool.

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For the barz….

Preheat the oven to 325 and grease an 8 by 8 pan with coconut oil. Make your flax eggs and then set them aside to gel.

In a largeish bowl, whisk together spelt flour, almond flour, sea salt, baking soda, and shredded coconut. In a smaller bowl, whisk together melted coconut oil, peanut butter, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add in flax eggs, then stir the wet into the dry until just combined. You’ll need more moisture in the dough since spelt flour can be dry—I added about a 1/4 c of almond milk a tablespoon at a time until the dough was the right consistency. Fold in the chocolate chippies. Spread half the batter into your prepared pan (using your hands is encouraged), then pour half the caramel over the first layer. Add more chocolate chips to this middle layer because… just because. Spread the other layer of dough over the caramel (it’ll get messy but it’s dessert so who cares?), then pour the other half of the caramel over the top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool on a rack, then slice and eat/store!

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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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