Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer Sweets

I love nothing more than cooking all day long in the summer, and today was no exeption. Except this time, everything I made was pretty much dessert. Some days are just better when you eat dessert all day long...I'll need some vegetables tonight, I guess. Here's what I made today (and yesterday):

Honey-Almond Chewy Bars
I've wanted to come up with a chewy bar recipe for a while, but most of the recipes I've researched use peanut butter, which I'm actually not a huge fan of (plus, we didn't have much on hand), so I went with almond butter, which makes everything taste better, in my opinion. These are super easy and can be made into bars or little granola balls (not really granola, but what else do I call them?...) which I think are more fun than bars! :)

Ingredients:
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup almond butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups puffed brown rice
1/4 cup chopped almonds

Directions:
1. Mix together honey, almond butter, cinnamon, and vanilla in a small microwaveable bowl, and microwave until the mixture is runny, about 1 minute. (you could also heat the mixture in a small saucepan)
2. In a large bowl, combine the puffed rice, almonds, and the honey mixture, stirring until all the rice is coated.
3. Line an 8 x 8 metal pan with plastic wrap and spray it with cooking spray.
4. Pat the rice mixture into the pan, pressing to make sure that it is packed tightly.
5. When the mixture cools, remove from the pan and cut into bars or roll into balls for a fun treat!



Gluten-free Banana Bread
I know I just made gluten-free banana muffins, but I think that just turning that recipe into a quick bread would result in a quick bread that is a little to fluffy with not enough of a crust for my liking. I think this bread turned out great, and I will definitely try it with other purees in place of banana. Also, as a note, I weighed some of the dry ingredients in this recipe because I wanted the measurements to be really accurate, which is important in baking--and even more important in gluten-free baking! You can sub gluten-full flour for the gluten-free flours and cornstarch if you want, but I would suggest still weighing these ingredients.

Ingredients:
3.5 oz brown rice flour
2.5 oz garbanzo bean flour (as long as the flours add up to 6 oz, you could use a little more or less of each flour)
1 oz cornstarch
1 oz ground flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup mashed banana
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup water (or milk)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.
2. Combine the dry ingredients (flours through cinnamon) in a large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the bread.
6. Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan, then turn the bread out of the pan and allow to cool more on a wire rack.


"Recycled" Berry Crumble
Ok, that sounds really weird, but don't worry, I'm not taking food from the trash or anything. Let me explain:

Don't those scones look yummy?! They are gluten-free walnut and candied ginger scones, and their flavor is wonderful (and trust me, the batter was delicious). However, they are very, very, very crumbly. I picked one up and it turned to sand in my fingers...so sad.

Good thing I can get creative! If you bake something that just doesn't turn out right (but still tastes good), here's a great fix for you. I think this would really only work if your baked good turns out too dry, not too moist, since you want to use baked-good crumbs, not baked-good goop. If you didn't happen to mess up, but you still want to make a berry crisp, I would suggest using graham cracker crumbs, gingersnap crumbs, biscotti crumbs, or other crumble-able things mixed with some chopped nuts and spices.

Ingredients:
2 cups baked-good crumbs (crumbly cookies or biscotti, dry quick breads, muffins, or scones, etc.)
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 egg whites
2 lbs frozen berries (I used 1 lb strawberries and 1 lb blueberries)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
zest and juice of 1 lemon

Directions:
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F
2. Combine the crumbs, oats, syrup, oil, and egg whites in a bowl.
3. Chop up the frozen strawberries and combine them withthe blueberries, cornstarch, and lemon zest and juice in a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish.
4. Top the berry mixture with the crumble topping and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the berries are thickened and the topping is golden brown.

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