(Vegan) Chocolate Banana Muffins

Chocolate Banana Muffins
Chocolate Banana Muffins

You know that feeling when you want to try a recipe but don’t have all the ingredients? Well, that happened to me yesterday, which is why there are parentheses around the word ‘Vegan’ in the title of this post.

My neighbor dropped off two chocolate banana muffins on Sunday, made by her vegan daughter. They were delicious: moist, dense, and super chocolate-y. And, because they’re vegan, you can safely lick the batter! I had to make these asap, because the two muffins didn’t last more than an hour, and, well, a craving is a craving.

When I looked up the recipe for these chocolate banana muffins on the Two Peas & Their Pod blog, I knew that I didn’t have white whole wheat flour nor did I have almond milk on hand. I stopped off at the drugstore to pick up milk and took a quick look in the baking section. As I sort of expected, they didn’t carry these items so I was going to make do with ingredients I had at home. It was too early for the natural food store to be open.

Chocolate Banana Muffins
Chocolate Banana Muffins

I made 18 muffins but took a phone call and forgot to put some of the mini chocolate chips on top. What to do? I needed the chocolate banana muffins to be as chocolate-y as possible. So, I added the chocolate chips to each muffin after I pulled them out of the oven and spread them around as a sort of frosting. Then I added some banana chips on top for some color and crunch. They were pretty close to my neighbor’s version!

Next time, though, I’ll make sure to try them with the prescribed ingredients and get the recipe into 12 muffin cups. I think they pack more punch as a bigger muffin. So far, this is the best chocolate banana muffin recipe I’ve tried! Let me know if you end up making these and what you think.

Chocolate Banana Muffins
Chocolate Banana Muffins
Chocolate Banana Muffins
Chocolate Banana Muffins

I’ve cut and pasted the recipe below. You can follow the link to see photos of how the muffins are intended to look.

Chocolate Banana Muffins
Chocolate Banana Muffins

Vegan Chocolate Banana Muffins
(Recipe reproduced below is exactly as it appears on the Two Peas & Their Pod Blog)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup Almond Breeze Almondmilk Unsweetened Vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips, divided

DIRECTIONS:

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3.  In a medium bowl, stir together mashed bananas, coconut oil, almond milk, and vanilla extra. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of the mini chocolate chips.
  4.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle remaining mini chocolate chips over the tops of each muffin. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Note-if you need the muffins to be vegan, make sure you use vegan chocolate chips. The muffins freeze well! To reheat, place frozen muffins in microwave for 20-30 seconds.

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Rice Krispies Treats With Froot Loops

Rice Krispies Treats
Rice Krispies Treats With Froot Loops

There are a few treats that remind me of my childhood, and Rice Krispies Treats is one of them. When I was a kid, I went to school on a trimester system. That means we went to school for 12 weeks at a time, then had a 5 week ‘intersession’ period.

During one intersession, I took a baking class. I was 9 or 10 years old. That class is what started me on my lifelong baking adventure. My mom’s an amazing baker (and cook and entertainer…) and I used to watch her bake all the time. But, at the intersession class, I was the one baking and creating – on my own!

The first item we made was Rice Krispies Treats. They’re simple and fun. With all the sweet and bran-type cereals that followed Rice Krispies, I must admit that I don’t often choose Rice Krispies as my breakfast cereal. This means I usually buy a box of Rice Krispies, just to make the Treats. They’re so easy and quick to make, and everyone loves them. They’re the perfect snack for school or travel, too.

Rice Krispies TreatsOne day, I was talking to a friend on the phone, and I must’ve been making Rice Krispies Treats. She asked if I had ever made them with Froot Loops. No, I hadn’t, but I love my treats super sweet, so I had to try her recipe.  All I had to do was substitute in some Froot Loops for some of the Rice Krispies! That’s all.

Have you ever tried that? Ever since my friend told me about these substitutions, I’ve never made plain Rice Krispies Treats. I think I’ve even made them with Cap’n Crunch cereal. The variations are endless…

Rice Krispies TreatsHere’s the link to the original Rice Krispies Treats recipe.

And, here’s the recipe, adjusted for Froot Loops:

Rice Krispies Treats With Froot Loops

1/4 c butter or margarine
5 cups mini marshmallows (or 40 regular ones)
4 cups Rice Krispies
2 cups Froot Loops

  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat
  • Add the marshmallows and stir until melted
  • Remove from heat and add in the cereal, stirring until coated
  • Press into a 9 by 13 inch buttered pan
  • Cool and cut into bars

BTW, in Canada, these Treats seem to be called ‘Squares’! I didn’t really know that until I did some research for this post.

Tip: When you’re making these, spread the mixture in the pan as best you can with a spatula or spoon. Wait a few minutes, then use a clean spatual to spread and smooth them out. The mixture is less sticky if you wait 3-4 minutes.

Rice Krispies TreatsRice Krispies TreatsRice Krispies TreatsLet me know if you like your Rice Krispies Treats plain or with a mixture of cereals.

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Peach Crumble Because It’s Still Peach Season!

IMG_1104It’s the first day of September and, in Ontario, it’s still  peach season!  You can find peaches in the grocery stores and at farmers’ markets.  And, they are delicious.

For the last three weeks, I’ve made a Peach Crumble every week because I can only eat peaches cooked.  My family has been enjoying this recipe, too.  We seem to eat it for breakfast or snack or dessert.

Last summer, I shared a recipe for Peach and Strawberry Crumble.  You can read that post to understand the difference between crumbles, crisps, and cobblers.  Personally, I love oatmeal, so I go for the crumbles.IMG_0787

This summer, I went for a straight peach crumble, and I made it in a 9 by 13 inch pan.   If you want to make this in a smaller pan, go ahead.  Just make sure the crumble doesn’t go past the top of the pan.IMG_0783

You can serve this with ice cream, cream, or milk.  I use the latter if I want to have the crumble for breakfast.  Go ahead, live a little! Continue reading

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Matzoh Crunch!

IMG_6585This week is Passover and you may have seen Matzoh Crunch in your grocery store or bakery.

I first saw this recipe when David Lebovitz (chef, baker, and cookbook author) appeared on the Martha Stewart show about 10 years ago.  It looked very easy to make, and it is!

Up front, I should say that I make this dessert all year round and get special requests from my kids and friends.  Matzoh Crunch is the popular name and David Lebovitz’s version is called Caramelized Matzoh Crunch With Chocolate.  Basically, it’s a cracker base with a caramel/toffee topping and chocolate.  What’s not to like?!

Continue reading

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Marshmallow Popcorn Treats

Marshmallow Popcorn Squares
Marshmallow Popcorn Squares

Do you have a favorite treat from when you were a kid?  I have lots because I have a very sweet tooth!  One that I remember making a lot is Marshmallow Treats. ‘Rice Krispies Squares’ or ‘Marshmallow Squares’ are other names for these delicious snacks.  Whatever the name, these treats remind me of my childhood and simpler times.

Invented by Mildred Day, an employee at Kellogg’s, and her co-worker Malitta Jensen in 1939, Marshmallow Treats’ popularity grew when they were suggested in response to a fundraising request to Kellogg’s.  By 1940, the recipe was advertised by Kellogg’s and has been a big hit ever since.  And, by the 1990’s, these bars were a packaged good widely available on grocery store shelves.

Marshmallow Popcorn Squares
Marshmallow Popcorn Squares

When I was in grade school, I took a cooking activity where we made these easy and yummy Marshmallow Treats.  I remember asking my parents to buy marshmallow creme and marshmallows all the time so I could make these whenever I wanted.

Recently, I went to an adult luncheon, and someone had made Marshmallow Treats, but with popcorn.  They were delicious and it was the first time that I had seen them.  I don’t usually have dessert at lunch (it’s more of an after dinner thing for me), but I couldn’t stop eating them.  I came home and googled the recipe and made them that evening.  When my daughter took them to school, she said her friends kept asking her what they were.

The recipes I found basically followed Kellogg’s Rice Krispies’ “The Original Treats” recipe, with the variation of adding the popcorn and chocolate drizzle.

Here’s what I ended up doing.

Marshmallow Popcorn Treats

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 40 regular sized marshmallows
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 12 cups Skinny Pop popcorn
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips, melted

Method:

  • Melt butter and marshmallows in a large saucepan over low heat.  When completely melted, remove from heat and add the vanilla.
  • Add the popcorn and stir until well coated
  • Spread the mixture into a 13 by 9 by 2 inch pan, sprayed, lined with parchment paper, and sprayed again
  • Wait 5 minutes and then flatten the mixture with a clean spoon or spatula.  If you wait, it is not as sticky to spread!
  • Refrigerate half an hour
  • Melt the chocolate chips and drizzle them over the mixture
  • Refrigerate again
  • Cut up and store in a covered container in the fridge
Marshmallow Popcorn Squares
Marshmallow Popcorn Squares

Enjoy!  I’d love to know if you have ever made or had these Marshmallow Popcorn Treats.

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Frozen Fruit Smoothies – Even in Winter!

Frozen Fruit Smoothie
Frozen Fruit Smoothie

In my post on New Year’s resolutions, I said that I’d publish a post on frozen fruit smoothies.  Here it is!  Because eating more fruit is one of my resolutions, fruit smoothies are an easy way to meet this goal.

This time of year in Canada it can be hard to get fresh fruit that tastes good and is reasonably priced.  Of course, to keep your diet varied, you treat yourself to your favorite fruits from time to time.  Mine are pineapples and mangoes.

But, if you don’t buy as many fruits in the winter, or you find yourself not finishing what you’ve bought, then consider the option of freezing leftover fruits and making smoothies.  You can buy frozen fruits at the store but, by freezing unused fruits, I’m trying to accomplish another resolution, which is to waste less food.

Here’s what I do.

Any fresh fruit that hasn’t been eaten within a few days of being ripe gets cut up and put in a glass dish in the freezer overnight.  I seem to have ripe bananas, pineapples, and strawberries left over the most. When I take the fruit out, I let it sit for a few minutes, then use a knife to loosen the fruit and store it in a freezer bag.  Voila: unwasted fruit and fresh smoothie material!

To make smoothies, I use the Magic Bullet.  You can use a blender, but the Magic Bullet is compact, convenient, and makes an individual serving quickly and with little clean-up.

For my smoothies, I fill the Magic Bullet cup with frozen fruit to the top and then add half orange juice and half water to the top.  I find orange juice to be too caloric to make up all of the liquid in the smoothie.  Then, I blend it, add more water if need be, and that’s it.

Some tips:

  • Use pineapples and bananas to add a smooth texture; they’re the ‘softest’ frozen fruits
  • Add yogurt, milk, or other juices if you don’t want to use orange juice as a base
  • Use a mixture of fresh and frozen fruits if you don’t want your drink completely frozen
  • Be aware that this is a ‘cold’ drink, and not your classic winter one, so dress appropriately!

What do you put in your smoothies?  I’d love to hear about it.

Frozen Fruit Smoothie
Frozen Fruit Smoothie

Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Bars… If You Can Find The Pumpkins!!

IMG_2160Further to my last post on Canadian Thanksgiving, I thought I would write a quick one on pumpkin bars and the fact that making them (and anything else requiring pumpkin puree) this year might pose a challenge!!

You see, canned pumpkins, the main ingredient in the bars, are made from ‘pie’ or ‘sugar’ pumpkins.  Pie pumpkins are the smaller, denser, darker version of the larger, thin-walled pumpkins we use for carving jack-o-lanterns at Halloween. These pie pumpkins are made into puree and canned in the fall and are available all year – technically.

This fall, pie pumpkins are in short supply due to the heavy rains this summer in the Midwestern United States where most of the pies are grown. The problem is serious enough to cause some concern for Americans as they plan their upcoming Thanksgiving dinner menu which undoubtedly will include some variation of pumpkin in several dishes.

According to Bloomberg News, Libby’s, the largest producer of pumpkins, says they have enough product to make 45 million 8 inch pies, which is half of what they normally produce. They think this is enough to get through Thanksgiving but, after that, there could be a shortage that will have to wait until next year’s harvest to be satisfied. Continue reading

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Rainbow Bit Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

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The kids came home from camp last week and my husband asked if I was going to bake a cake.  I think he secretly wanted one because I had never baked a welcome home cake for them before!  He chose a rainbow bit cake with cream cheese frosting which was a great idea because it is so colorful and happy.

This cake comes from a Betty Crocker cake mix which was easy enough. Finding the Rainbow Bit flavor was a bit harder.  As I made several calls to find a retailer that carried this flavor, I got to wondering about the origin of a rainbow bit cake.

What I found out is that this is basically a funfetti cake in a box.  I had never heard of a funfetti cake before!  It’s a white cake with sprinkles or rainbow chips (made with colored white chocolate bits) baked in. There are many recipes online and one even includes a recipe for making homemade sprinkles, here. Continue reading

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Peach and Strawberry Crumble – It’s Summer!

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It’s summertime and that means fruits like strawberries, cherries, peaches, and blueberries are in season!  Whether you pick your own or buy them at local farmers’ markets or the grocery store, having them at home just says summer.

Last week I picked up a basket of peaches, specifically to make a crumble. When I was searching for recipes, I found tons and ended up making up my own.  Confession: I love the oat crumble on top of the fruit and I like it to be thick.  That’s why I ended up using a crumble topping recipe for a 9 by 13 inch pan on my 8 by 8 inch crumble! Continue reading

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Mango & Blueberry Salad – That’s It !

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At a kids’ year end party a few years ago, a mom brought this salad and it was such a hit.  It only has mangoes and blueberries in it but the mangoes are cut up using a melon baller making the salad look elegant and fancy.

There is something about the combination of the golden yellow of the mangoes and the dark bluish purple of the blueberries that makes the salad look good, too, especially in a white serving dish.  The salad looks healthy for you, and it is! Continue reading

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