Monthly Archives: June, 2013

Somewhat Patriotic Cupcakes

berries and lemon cupcake with chocolate yogurt frosting

I am currently taking a U.S. history class over the summer. At first, I didn’t think the class would interest me all that much. The only reason I was taking it was so I didn’t have to take it during the school year. But it turns out, American history is so much more interesting than I ever thought it would be! I feel so much more patriotic about my homeland now that I know the details of our country’s noble founders and how determined they were to create a country without the tyranny of the kings they had previously oppressed their people. Seeing old photos of a younger United States of America, working to grow up into the land of opportunity, battling her way through struggles of civil rights, external conflicts, and the painful yet amazing age of industrialism, reading how the Constitution was constantly adapting to suit the needs of an evolving group of people, each new generation in its own way pioneers into a new type of frontier…all this gets me very excited about our country in a way that I haven’t been since my last truly good history teacher back in eighth grade taught me the basics of U.S. history. Though I am learning about America’s struggle to remain true to her values set by the founding fathers as we entered bloody wars, I am finding that America has always come out of the wars with a new lesson learned, and returned to the ideals set by the original Americans such as George Washington. I am increasingly proud to live here!

Since I have been feeling patriotic lately, and the fourth of July is coming up, I thought I’d make some patriotic-looking food. My dad’s birthday happens to coincide with American Independence Day, so I settled on cupcakes. They were going to be lemon, with strawberries, blueberries, and white chocolate frosting to fulfill the “red, white and blue” qualification. However, when I tried to melt the white chocolate chips I ended up with a burnt mess that smelled like rotten Easter candy. Oops, wrong holiday!

So I started the whole frosting thing over, using semisweet chocolate chips. This time it worked great… unfortunately I kind of lost the American flag colors there. That’s why these cupcakes are only somewhat patriotic. I guess red, brown and blue is good enough since I’m not serving these to George Washington. And that dark chocolate taste is more what everyone in my family wants anyway.

chocolate yogurt frosting on lemon blueberry strawberry cupcake

You will love these cupcakes. They are made with whole wheat pastry flour, which is a type of whole wheat flour that provides the whole grains of regular whole wheat flour without the sometimes heavy whole grain texture. . As a result, they have a perfect texture. The lemon flavor really comes through, and it’s a great complement to the summer berries. The chocolate yogurt frosting is not too sweet, and super chocolatey with a bit of that irresistible yogurt tang. Much more interesting than typical store-bought frostings which are practically made of pure sugar!

See this page for the full recipe. My recipe is based on one from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Here are the cupcakes just out of the oven, piping hot with juicy baked berries oozing sweet juice…

lemon berry cupcakes before frosting

The frosting adds a more decadent touch…

lemon berry cupcakes with chocolate yogurt frosting

And the colorful berries on top are what really make these cupcakes scream “America!”

berry cupcake with lemon with chocolate yogurt frosting

Actually I think it’s really screaming “eat me!” Happy to oblige…

lemon strawberry blueberry cupcake with chocolate yogurt frosting and berries

As a good countryman I cannot refuse red, brown and blue patriotic cupcakes!

blueberry lemon strawberry cupcake with chocolate yogurt frosting and berries

What are you waiting for? Go ahead and make this recipe. It would make a great fourth of July treat for family and friends, or really a great dessert for any time of year when you’re feeling patriotic!

Key Lime Cake & Strawberry Shake

Do you ever feel like time just slips away when you’re not looking? I know I do. All school year, I’ve been planning for all the things I was going to do during the summer, when I would have a surplus of time: work on my writing skills, watch a French film or two, take up a new athletic activity of some kind, and of course lots of baking and cooking were all included in my long list of personal ambitions. But lately I find I don’t have as much free time as I thought. I’m taking a history class this summer so I won’t have to take it during the school year, and once I get through the class and my homework, I often only have enough time for simple activities, like taking a short walk, playing with my cat, or watching films of nature and animals on Youtube with my brother the junior herpetologist. Yet I find that, even though I haven’t done much very ambitious yet this summer, I can find peace and relaxation in the days when I just fill the little free time I have with these simple activities. The time runs like a serene waterfall…I just wish it wouldn’t run so fast!

I predict I will be spending much of my vacation time doing these boring, yet in a way worthwhile activities. However, hopefully every so often I will get the chance to do something more ambitious. I’m hoping to bake something today, and later on I am going shopping for a book (since I already finished all my summer reading requirements!) So far today I have also made an easy shake, perfect for lazy summer days when all you want to do is relax with a yummy smoothie and a book/cat/nature video.

key lime strawberry cake batter smoothie

This is a cake batter shake that is healthy enough to eat for breakfast. The “cake batter” is made with all whole wheat flour, and sweetened only by a dash of vanilla and some high protein white chocolate peanut butter. The banana is as always a great breakfast food, providing potassium, iron, and the good type of natural sugars that don’t cause a horrible crash later on in the day. The fresh strawberries are a good source of vitamin C and help increase good cholesterol, among numerous other benefits. And the yogurt is a good source of calcium, very important to support the bones. Honestly, I could go on all day about the health benefits of different foods, but I know you’re anxious to get to the smoothie and get a start on today’s ambitions, so let’s get on with it!

The “cake batter” I used for this smoothie really ended up with more of a cookie dough consistency, but still tasted like cake when blended into the other ingredients. Of course the flavor combination of lime and strawberry is a perfect, summery blend. With the addition of cake batter, it tastes just like a perfect summer day: light, yet also rich and flavorful. It would have been extra great with some coconut flakes on top, but I was feeling lazy so I skipped that. But feel free to do it if you’re in the ambitious mood!

Key Lime Cake and Strawberry Shake

serves one

key lime strawberry cake batter shake

Ingredients:

cake batter

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp Peanut Butter and Co. brand White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbls warm water

smoothie

  • 1 banana
  • 1 Yoplait Whips Key Lime Pie yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Silk brand Original almond milk
  • 4 strawberries
  • 1-2 ice cubes

Directions: First, make the cake batter: combine the whole wheat flour, white chocolate peanut butter, and vanilla. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the cake batter has the consistency of a glob of cookie dough.

Place all ingredients in blender. (If you like, reserve a little bit of the cookie dough/cake batter and one strawberry for topping. However, I found that the cake batter stuff didn’t taste as good on its own as it did blended into the smoothie, so it’s probably best to just blend all the cake batter with the smoothie.) Blend for a minute or until all ingredients are combined. Pour into a glass and serve cold.

This is sure to be the perfect refreshment, whether you are spending your day achieving your dreams…or just daydreaming! After all, sometimes doing nothing is what free time is for.

But not all your free time… and I am definitely going to be doing something at some point, don’t you worry! You can expect at least a few new recipes on this blog this summer! In the meantime, why don’t you go make your key lime cake batter shake while I watch this new blue-tongued skink video? 🙂

You Might Also Like:

Breakfast Brownie Batter Shake

breakfast shake with chocolate brownie batter

To find out more about the health benefits of bananas and strawberries: http://www.lifescript.com/food/articles/0/14_banana_health_benefits_you_might_not_know_about.aspxhttp://www.webmd.com/diet/features/nutritional-benefits-of-the-strawberry

Sweet Strawberry Crèpe with Frozen Yogurt

Today my mom went to a hip, fashionable cafe with gorgeous decorations, and apparently had a horrible experience. I wasn’t there, but according to her the service was terrible, the coffee was overpriced…and worst of all, she wasn’t allowed to use her laptop! How can you call yourself a cafe and not allow people to use electronic devices? In today’s society, that’s pretty scandalous. Although I resent how human beings and machines are slowly being melded into one hybrid creature, I too have become quite attached to the world of computers and the internet, and can sympathize with the general societal need to use laptops in cafes.

Anyway, if I ran a cafe I would be welcoming of all my customers and their electronic companions. I would also serve only the highest quality fare possible. This strawberry crèpe would definitely be on the menu. I wish I could have served this to my mom, rather than her having to fork over quite a bit of money for bad coffee and a side dish of attitude, compliments of the chef. I would even have allowed her to use her laptop while eating, if she was willing to risk getting frozen yogurt on it. Too bad I was sitting in a summer class at the time…

strawberry crèpe for one frozen yogurt

I am happy to be independent from cafes for my personal treats and sweets. More and more now, I have been making my own meals, rather than relying on a cafe to hopefully do the job right. Since I am able to make my own crèpe, I can make it healthy, with whole wheat flour, fresh fruit, and healthy Greek yogurt topping. I can also create my own original crèpe flavors that only I would be adventurous enough to try, rather than relying on marketing experts to determine what flavors sell and being stuck with a limited selection. This particular crèpe is not all that unusual – just strawberry, inside and out. But I loved it! Sometimes it’s good to go back to the basics. The sweet agave syrup was a perfect compliment for the tart, refreshing strawberries. I topped it all off with to-good-to-be-true creamy, sweet frozen yogurt. Open Nature sells single-serving frozen yogurt cups, and they are really great. I highly recommend them for smoothies and toppings for other desserts like this crèpe.

Sweet Strawberry Crèpe with Frozen Yogurt

makes one crèpe

single serve strawberry crepe with frozen yogurt

Ingredients:

crèpe batter

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp organic raw agave syrup
  • 1 1/2 tbls plain almond milk
  • 2 tbls whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

filling & topping

  • 3-4 fresh strawberries, sliced and/or diced (I did some of each)
  • 1 tsp organic raw agave syrup
  • 1 single-serve container of Open Nature Greek strawberry flavored frozen yogurt

Directions:

To make the crèpe, first beat the egg. Add the flour, almond milk, agave and vanilla and mix.

Spray a small pan with nonstick spray. Heat to medium and pour the batter onto the pan. When the edges start to curl up, flip and cook the other side.

After cooking for a few minutes, check the underside of the crèpe. If done, remove from heat and place on plate.

Put most of the strawberries and 1 tsp agave in the center of the crèpe, leaving enough room to cover with the crèpe.

strawberries in crepe

Fold crèpe over the fillings. Top with the frozen yogurt and remaining strawberries.

folded over strawberry crepe

Now we’re in business!

strawberry frozen yogurt crepe, ready to eat

Oh, and by the way: I saw a cafe called Vegan Crèpe yesterday. Does anyone know how to make a vegan crèpe? I’m just curious, since it seems to me egg is pretty central to the crèpe batter.

You Might Also Like:

Une Crèpe Fantastique!

pumpkin butter apple single serving crepe

Take Revenge On All Your Obnoxious Teachers!

Are you sick and tired of tyrannical, corrupt teachers who set strict rules for the class – and then don’t even follow those rules? Are you ready for revenge? Here’s how you can exact your revenge on all the teachers who ever violated the age-old school policy of “No Eating in Class”, but wouldn’t let you, the students, do the same.

Well, okay, it’s not really revenge. Probably your teachers will never even know you did this, but you’ll know, and that counts for something…well, at any rate, you’ll get a super delicious muffin out of it. And that will help ease the pain of the corruption in the school system.

Seriously, is there anyone out there who has not had at least one teacher who told the class on the first day that “we don’t allow any food in class because it attracts ants/cockroaches/cookie monsters”, and then proceeded to open up a soda/candy bar/bag of chips? As if vermin are only attracted by the crumbs of students’ food, and not teachers! Not only is this policy hypocritical, it is gross because at some point, even the most dainty teacher will spill something, and then there is a gross mess and the possibility of attracting vermin.

There is a convenience store near my school that sells snacks and some pastries such as danishes and muffins wrapped in plastic. Lots of students and teachers go to that store before school or during a break to buy these pastries (the muffins are the most popular.) But of course, according to unwritten school policy, only teachers are allowed to eat the muffins in class. The students will have to wait until lunch, or risk having their muffin confiscated and eaten by the teacher.

I must say, I’ve gotten awfully fed up with the whole system of hypocrisy that allows teachers to disobey their own rules. It’s also kind of sad to see anyone lowering themselves to eating a store-bought muffin (at least for me as a loyal home baker.) Store-bought muffins are usually preserved with unnatural chemicals to keep them fresh, as well as being super high in sugar and pretty much void of any actual nutrients. Plus, fresh from your oven at home always tastes better. That’s my philosophy.

So I created this super-easy and healthy alternative to those muffins at the convenience store. This is my way of taking revenge on all the unfair teachers I’ve had in all my years at school who would eat in class – I’ve made something better, and enjoyed it all myself! And since I did this at home, no school rule could get in my way.

microwave muffin: banana walnut chocolate

Did I mention that this is a mug muffin? Meaning you make it in the microwave, heat for about a minute, and voila! It’s done. No need to go through all the trouble of a muffin tin, an oven, and finding a place to store a huge batch of muffins. You just do this whenever you feel like it, with no stress involved. The “no-stress” factor is another way to rebel against school, since in general everything involved with school is stressful.

This is one of the great microwave desserts in my history of having them. Some mug cakes can be dry, but this one is very moist, sweet, and delicious. I based it on the giant banana muffins they sell at the convenience store, but I guarantee this one is much healthier. It’s made with whole wheat flour, sweetened only naturally, and contains 3/4 of one whole banana in a serving. Don’t worry, though – it doesn’t just taste like microwaved banana. It tastes like a nice warm, moist, homestyle muffin straight from the oven. The chocolate chips provide just the right amount of naughtiness, in all their melty wonderfulness. The walnuts add a nice crunch. Even if this is not an effective rebellion against evil teachers, it sure is an effective yummy treat!

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffin in a Mug

serves 1

mug muffin: moist banana chocolate chip walnut

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbls whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • scant 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 of a small-ish banana, mashed
  • 1 tbl organic raw agave syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread
  • 1 tbl + 2 tsps water
  • 1 tbl chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbl semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

In a mug, combine the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon and mix. Add the mashed banana, agave syrup, vanilla, and the Earth Balance (no need to melt it). Mix until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Mix in some, but not all, of the walnuts and chocolate chips, reserving just a little of each for topping. Add the water; stir.

Microwave the mug with the muffin batter in it for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave to add the remaining walnuts and chocolate chips. Microwave for an additional 38 seconds, or until muffin looks done. (Microwave times do vary, so I recommend just microwaving for 5-10 seconds at a time and checking in between until it looks done.) Be sure not to overcook it so it remains moist.

Let cool for a minute or two, then exact your revenge! (With a spoon!)

moist banana nut chocolate muffin in a mug

S’moreo Cheesecake Shake

Many months ago, I believe it was the last day of school before winter break, I was sitting in class and practically bored to tears. My teachers were obviously already checked out early for the vacation and just lazily put on their favorite movies for us kids to watch, yelling at us to be quiet if we talked (after all, they were still teachers.) So I did what most food bloggers do when bored – daydreamed about innovative, new foods to create and post about.

Suddenly, genius struck as the word “s’moreo” popped into my head. I knew that word could be the title for a super-cool dessert I could make and post. I often feel like blogging is a creativity contest – I always want to feel like I’ve come up with something no one else had thought of before. Something that would inspire awe, admiration, maybe even a little good-natured envy in the hearts of other food bloggers: “why didn’t I think of that?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen great ideas from creative food bloggers and wished I could come up with something so creative, so genius that the rest of internet-enabled society would cheer and virtually hold me up on their shoulders like a victorious quarterback. Well, okay, that’s not really likely to happen. But I still felt at the time I came up with the “s’moreo” that it would surely be a very special idea.

Months passed. I never had a chance to make any s’moreos, s’moreo cake, s’moreo milkshake, or any of the other random ideas I had to use the word “s’moreo” in a dessert creation. I just never semed to have enough time, or remember it when I did have the time. Until today. The epic day when I finally fulfilled my destiny to create and publish the s’moreo shake. By now I was a little bored of the idea of just chocolate sandwich cookies and marshmallows, so I threw in cheesecake flavor. Plus some strawberries to go with the cheesecake theme. Nutella got in there just because who doesn’t like nutella in a dessert?

s'moreo nutella strawberry cheesecake shake

Prepare for something amazing, world. You will all end up trying a s’moreo cheesecake shake, whether because you know it will be good or because all your friends pressure you into trying it. And then you will be hooked on the delicious, fun awesomeness. I expect eventually the word s’moreo will get into the dictionary, and my computer will stop putting a red underline under the word s’moreo every time I type it.

I’m not even going to look up “s’moreo” and see if anyone else has already come up with it. I’m sure someone has, because there’s really nothing completely new under the sun. And that would just kill my excitement right now. So if you or someone you know has already come up with s’moreos, great job, you are a genius, but please just indulge me and pretend you think I’m the genius here. Thank you for your understanding of my madness. Now, let the s’moreo party begin! Mwah-ha-ha!!!

S’moreo Cheesecake Shake

with Strawberries and Nutella

Serves 1

s'moreo cheesecake smoothie with nutella and strawberries

Ingredients:

for shake

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup Silk brand original almond milk
  • 2 Laughing Cow brand light creamy swiss cheese wedges
  • 1 WhoNu brand chocolate sandwich cookie
  • 2 ice cubes

for topping

  • 1 tbl nutella
  • 4 strawberries (cut off leaves and cut in half or slice)
  • 1 WhoNu chocolate sandwich cookie
  • 1 Dandies brand vegan marshmallow (or other large marshmallow)

Directions:

Place the banana, almond milk, cheese, and ice cubes into the blender. Blend until smooth. Add one WhoNu cookie in several pieces and blend for a few seconds, just until there are little cookie bits throughout the mixture.

Use a knife to spread some of the nutella in vertical lines around the inside of your glass. Pour the shake into the glass.

Microwave the marshmallow until it is soft and melty. Place on top of the shake.

s'moreo cheesecake shake with marshmallow

Top with the remaining nutella.

s'moreo cheesecake shake with marshmallow and nutella

Add the strawberries and the second WhoNu cookie, broken into pieces.

s'moreo cheesecake shake with marshmallow, strawberries, and chocolate cookies

Get ready for the experience of a lifetime… The S’moreo Cheesecake Shake! (Patent pending.)

Artemis has already caught the s’moreo shake fever and wants a sip of my shake…

artemis looking at s'moreo cheesecake shake

You Might Also Like:

Strawberry Cream Cheese Stuffed Single Serve Pancake

strawberry cream cheese filled pancake with blueberry jam

Apple-Nana Walnut Oatmeal

I am going to share with you a recipe for healthy, hearty oatmeal to get your day off to a great start. But first, in the spirit of blogging, I will bore you with a totally unrelated description of the trip I took yesterday. If you are running late and need to make breakfast immediately, by all means go ahead and skip to the recipe. But if you have time to kill, here is a typical blog post on a food blog with about 1/2 to 3/4 of the page having nothing to do with food. I promise the Battleship Iowa is much more interesting than a bowl of oatmeal anyway.

That’s right, my family and I went to see the Battleship Iowa yesterday. It was a battleship during World War II. One of its missions was to take President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to meet with Stalin. The battleship was recently turned into a museum in San Pedro. Here’s what it looks like from the parking lot:

battleship iowa from the parking lot

It kind of looks like the ship itself is in the parking lot, taking up about 50 spaces!

We climbed aboard the ship and explored all the decks. There were helpful little arrows on the floor telling us where to go, so everyone moved in an orderly fashion and we got to see everything. There were also guides who knew a lot about the ship. Some of them ha actually participated in the World War II effort.

The inside of the ship was a little claustrophobic. Look at these doors, they seem to go one forever:

doors inside battleship iowa

The outside of the ship was also kind of scary once we got to a certain level. We had to climb spindly-looking ladders to ascend to each new deck.

looking up at the battleship iowa

We saw plenty of fascinating stuff inside the ship. For example, here is the bed where President Franklin Roosevelt slept while on the Iowa:

president's quarters inside the battleship iowa

And here is a rubber ducky found in the presidential bathroom, which I guess I’m supposed to believe the president played with at bathtime? It even has a hat that says “USS Iowa” on it.

battleship iowa rubber ducky

Here is where the ship’s crew spent their free time. Though I doubt there was a flat screen T.V. in there back in the day.

living area in battleship iowa

The mess hall, where the crew must have had meals. (Gosh, those seats look even less comfortable than the ones at my school cafeteria!)

mess hall on battleship iowa

Below is a memorial dedicated to the crew members who died in a cannon explosion years ago:

battleship iowa memorial from explosion

And here are those infamous cannons, seen from above:

cannons on battleship iowa

Here is a sack of the gunpowder they would have loaded into each of the cannons before firing:

gun powder sack for cannons battleship iowa

The view from the battleship was splendid, too! The harbor was surprisingly clean.

view of harbor from battleship iowa

After we’d seen all there was to see on the battleship, we headed to a nearby souvenir shop and restaurant area for a late lunch. In the car on the way, my brother and I had a “camera fight” to try and get pictures of each other.

Here’s me:

camera fight on the way to lunch after battlehip iowa

I’m so happy because I just got the perfect shot of my brother:

camera fight in car after battleship iowa

We made it to the shopping area, and couldn’t find a single restaurant that looked good. They were all seafood, which is usually not kosher.

yet another seafood restaurant after battleship iowa

seafood restaurant after battleship iowa

more seafood after battleship iowa

I guess it is a harbor, but still! Can’t they possibly make any food that doesn’t involve crabs or lobsters?

We passed the “Crusty Crab.” I wonder who had the idea first – this place, or the creators of Spongebob?

crusty crab after battleship iowa

No one was too interested in Crabby Patties, so we moved on. Finally, we found the restaurant we’d been looking for: Ports O’ Call Waterfront Dining.

It had a lovely outdoor area:

outside restaurant after battleship iowa

Inside there was great decor:

wall decor at restaurant after battleship iowa

interior decoration at restaurant after seeing the battleship iowa

I loved these faces made of junk and what looks like driftwood. The one on the far right reminds me of Ferb from “Phineas and Ferb.”

driftwood faces in ports o' call after seeing the battleship iowa

Even though the interior decor was great, we were all ready for lunch. Some of us were feeling a little “winey.” Get it?

whine at restaurant after battleship iowa

We didn’t order any wine, but my brother did get a Root Beer. Here he is training to be a food blogger:

brother taking photo of root beer after battleship iowa

I took pictures of the food as well, even though I don’t normally review restaurants. I didn’t taste everyone’s food, only my veggie sandwich which was pretty good:

veggie sandwich after battleship iowa at restaurant

Everybody else agreed that the food was great. We plan to return to this restaurant if we ever go to the Battleship Iowa museum again. And we do want to return, once they add more to it.

hamburger at restaurant after battleship iowa

spaghetti at restaurant after seeing battleship iowa

soup after seeing battleship iowa

That was a fun trip. Though it was pretty hot over there, we got to see a fascinating World War II battleship and dine at a nice restaurant. So yesterday’s journey was a success.

Okay, I’m done with the totally-unrelated-to-food chattering about my family outing. I can’t find any smooth way to connect this to an oatmeal recipe. And I know you’re all hungry for breakfast. So let’s skip the smooth transition and jump into a bowl of nutritious, yummy banana apple oatmeal! Yay!!!

Apple-Nana Walnut Oatmeal

makes 1 serving

walnut apple oatmeal with banana

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill brand 5 grain rolled hot cereal
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbl organic raw agave syrup
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • about 1/2 -1/3 of a Gala or Pink Lady apple, diced
  • 1 tbl chopped walnuts

Directions:

Place water in a pot on the stove. Turn heat to high and let water start to bubble. Add the oats, turn heat down to medium. Add the mashed banana, cinnamon, and agave syrup. Let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat. Pour oats into serving bowl. Top with diced apple and chopped walnuts. Let cool for a minute or two, then enjoy!

apple walnut banana oatmeal

You Might Also Like:

My Trip to Las Vegas

Paris Las Vegas balloon

Summer Fun Cookie Bars

summer fun bars: banana peanut butter chocolate chip marshmallow with whonu cookies

Remember when summer was carefree? No assignments, no work, just endless days of fun, sun, running around at the beach or in the park or inside museums with highly breakable ancient vases… all that running sure did make our little kid selves hungry! And with such an active metabolism, we could eat fun summer foods, worry free. Some people remember s’mores from their childhood summers, but not me. My favorite summer snack as a child were peanut butter cracker sandwiches. I remember pouring a small mountain of the little cuties onto a paper towel and looking at the corny cartoons on the box as I munched.

Now that I’m older, I still enjoy a fun, indulgent snack in the summer. But instead of pouring a mountain of peanut butter crackers on my plate, I have created a much more interesting, layered alternative. These cookie bars include lots of the flavors we remember from summers past: the marshmallows and chocolate are reminiscent of s’mores, the chocolate sandwich cookies are like Oreos (from back when it was okay to eat those) and the peanut butter is just as delightful in these bar cookies as it was in peanut butter cracker sandwiches!

summer fun bar cookie: banana peanut butter whonu cookie chocolate chip marshmallow

I also added banana for added flavor and nutrition. But the banana does not take center stage in these squares. They’re all about the peanut butter, fluffy marshmallow clouds, and cookie crumble. For that I used WhoNu? chocolate sandwich cookies. They are just like Oreos, only healthier. One serving of regular Oreo cookies contains 160 calories and 1 measly gram of dietary fiber. WhoNu cookies are 150 calories per serving, with 3 grams of fiber. Oreos contain 0% daily value of calcium, while WhoNu cookies contain 30% daily value of calcium in one serving. WhoNu cookies also have lots of other vitamins and nutrients not found in Oreos, such as Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12.

So go ahead and bite into the soft, delectable fun of these summer treats. Have them cold or hot, any time you feel like reminiscing on summer memories from years past. Or if you just want a delicious chocolatey peanut-buttery snack!

Summer Fun Cookie Bars

(Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie Bar Cookies)

adapted from this recipe on Hell Yeah It’s Vegan

Makes about 16 small cookie bars

whonu cookie bars with peanut butter banana chocolate chip marshmallow

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur brand)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 small banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbl peanut butter (I used crunchy)
  • 1/4 cup organic raw agave syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Oikos brand banana cream flavored Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbl semisweet chocolate chips
  • 5 large marshmallows (I used Dandies brand vegan marshmallows)
  • 4 WhoNu? brand chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed into crumbs (some larger pieces is fine)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 X 9 ” square baking pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the mashed banana, peanut butter, agave syrup, vanilla, and Greek yogurt. Mix well, incorporating all of the wet ingredients into the dry. Mixture will be slightly stiff.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Place about half the dough mixture into the prepared pan. Spread it around as much as possible to the edges and all throughout the pan. Now, distribute the marshmallow pieces as evenly as possible across the surface of the dough as shown:

marshmallows on peanut butter cookie bars dough

(At this point I added 1 tablespoon more of chocolate chips along with the marshmallows, but I don’t think it matters, so that 1 tablespoon can just be mixed in with the batter before the batter is placed into the pan.) Cover over the marshmallows with the remaining dough.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Then take out of the oven, but do not turn off the oven. Sprinkle the crushed WhoNu cookies over the top of the batter, distributing the cookie crumbs evenly. Return to the oven and bake another 3-7 minutes. (Cookie bars should be in the oven for a total of 18-22 minutes.)

Refrigerate overnight to make for easier cutting. Enjoy cool for a chill snack on a boiling afternoon, or warm it up for a melty chocolate treat!

Cooler than cool…

marshmallow banana peanut butter chocolate chip bar cookies with whonu cookies

Or ooey gooey hot goodness!

melty chocolate chips in summer fun cookie bars

It’s your choice…but neither one is the wrong answer! I hope you all have a good summer, and one as carefree and fun as possible!

Sources: (nutrition information): http://www.snackworks.com/products/product-detail.aspx?product=4400007274http://www.whonucookies.com/Chocolate.aspx

You Might Also Like:

Flourless Chocolate Mocha Cherry Cookie Cupcakes – Kosher for Passover

flourless kosher for Pesach cupcakes with cherry and cookie and mocha

Mediterranean-Inspired Salad

Finally! The school year dragged itself out as long as possible, but it is FINALLY OVER. Today was my first day of vacation. Even though it was kind of gloomy and practically drizzling, we braved the June gloom to visit the pier.

We saw some cute little ground squirrels on the walk there. They were just minding their own business, nibbling at the grass and skittering away from anyone who came too close. They didn’t take too kindly to paparazzi, but I was able to snap a few good shots:

two ground squirrels

ground squirrel

Did I ever mention that I finally got a new camera? I got it about a month ago, and it takes really nice, clear pictures. Like this one:

ground squirrels grazing

The squirrel on the left seems shocked at my rudeness: “Why are you taking my picture while I’m eating? What if I have grass blades stuck between my teeth?”

grazing ground squirrel with angry face

Then we got to the pier, enjoyed the rides and the gloomy view of the sea, looked at the really overpriced souvenirs but didn’t buy anything, etcetera. I won’t bore you by blogging about that.

What I noticed about the food situation at the pier was that it didn’t really cater to people who want to eat healthy. I saw several churro stands, popcorn stands, and ice cream vendors, a store selling greasy burgers and fries, another selling greasy pizza, and a funnel cake store. Those ground squirrels would have been shocked at the level of junk food offered. “Why don’t they sell any grass salads?”, They would have asked. I myself was puzzled. I mean, maybe no one wants to eat grass, but I’m sure some pier-goers would appreciate a light meal option such as a salad.

When I got home, I made myself a little salad. It was sort of Mediterranean-style, except the only cheese I had was cheddar, so I didn’t quite keep to the Mediterranean theme. But the cheddar cheese mingled wonderfully with the other ingredients, and I actually recommend using it.

For those looking for a light summer lunch that doesn’t include grease or funnel cake, here is a delicious, single-portion-size salad. Make like a ground squirrel and eat your vegetables!

Mediterranean-Inspired Salad

makes one serving

mediterranean inspired salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 artichoke hearts (I used Cara Mia brand)
  • 4 pimiento stuffed manzanilla olives
  • 1/4 of an avocado, cut into smallish pieces
  • 2 tbls Sargento brand 4-State Cheddar shredded cheese
  • 2 tbls roasted red pepper hummus

Directions:

Make sure spinach and tomatoes are washed. Place spinach, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, avocado, and cheese in a medium salad bowl. Add hummus and toss. Enjoy!

Ground squirrel level:

spinach

getting better…

spinach, tomatoes, and olives

human level…

mediterranean inspired salad: almost ready!

awesome level!!! Yay!

mediterranean style salad

The hummus really makes the salad.

What is your favorite ingredient in a salad?

You Might Also Like:

Weekday Breakfasts, Updated! Friday: Medit-American Breakfast Pita

Medit-American breakfast pita pockets Weekday Breakfasts, Updated! Friday

Oatmeal Coconut Kiwi Cookie…in the Microwave!

You know how fond I am of super easy, single serving desserts and treats. From my mug coffee cake to my “Snicker’s Bar” crèpe for one, I have quite a repertoire already of recipes that serve just one. It’s not that I’m selfish, it’s just that I seem to have a more adventurous taste than most people in my family. For example, I’m sure they would all be content with a simple chocolate chip cookie. But I find that kind of boring. I like to try different flavor combinations every day. That’s why today I made an oatmeal coconut kiwi cookie, to celebrate all the exciting flavors of summer! I used lemon curd as well, but could hardly taste it in the cookie. So if you want it to taste lemony, I suggest adding some lemon juice or lemon zest along with the lemon curd.

oatmeal microwave cookie with coconut and kiwi

This cookie is healthy because it is made with whole grains and oats. Not just any old oats either – I used Bob’s Red Mill brand 5 grain rolled hot cereal. This is actually not only oats but a blend of oats plus wheat, barley, rye, flaxseed, and triticale. The coconut also adds some fiber, and the kiwi provides almost 120% of the daily value of vitamin C (as well as yet more fiber!)

Okay, so there’s no chocolate, but who doesn’t get bored of chocolate every once in a while? Come on, give it a try. It sure tastes great, and the nutritional benefits are excellent. In fact, this cookie is healthy enough that it could easily be served as part of a balanced breakfast. Maybe when kiwis go out of season, you could – *sigh* – replace it with chocolate chips.

Microwave Oatmeal Coconut Kiwi Cookie

based on this recipe from Including Cake

Serves one

microwave cookie coconut oatmeal kiwi

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill brand 5 grain rolled hot cereal, dry
  • 2 tbls whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • cinnamon to taste (I just used a dash)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbl lemon curd
  • 3 tbls plain Greek yogurt (I used Fage brand)
  • 1 tbl sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 whole kiwi fruit, cut into slices

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients (not including the coconut). Add the wet ingredients and use a spoon to combine thoroughly. Dough will seem dry.

Press dough in a circle onto a small plate. Sprinkle coconut flakes on top, reserving some for topping if desired.

Microwave for 50-60 seconds (I did 50 but microwave ovens do vary.) Remove from microwave and top with the sliced kiwi and the remaining coconut flakes. Serve warm. You will need a spoon to eat this big cookie!

coconut kiwi oatmeal microwave cookie

You Might Also Like:

Seven Selfish Days – Day One: Single Serve White Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Cookie

seven selfish days - Day One: single serve white chocolate cherry cheesecake cookie

Big Ol’ Cinnamon Roll

giant cinnamon roll with apples dates walnuts cranberries and raisins

Don’t you just HATE when people ask for your food? For example: imagine you’re with a friend, sitting on a bench waiting for the bus. You are practically starving, not having eaten in hours, so you wait in line at some bakery, ponying up your own hard-earned cash for an overpriced little pastry. Finally you walk out of the store and return to your friend, who says,”that looks good. Can I have a bite?” So you inwardly roll your eyes, but say “sure!” as cheerily as possible and hold it out to your friend, who pulls off a bigger piece than you’d like. Okay. You still have quite a bit left for yourself. But not for long, as the random person sitting on the other side of you on the bench looks at you with puppy-dog eyes and requests a piece for himself. Then a little kid asks for a piece, and the mom looks at you with hawk-eyes until you fork over a piece to the child. Finally the bus pulls up, and you think, I’m saved! Now everyone will get on the bus and leave me alone to finish the remaining 1/2…1/3…1/4? of my snack. But as you ascend the grimy stairs to board the bus, the driver glares at you and says, “No food on the bus,” snatching away what’s left of your pastry and wolfing it down like a human garbage disposal.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against sharing, but it can be annoying when every single person around you needs to eat some of your food. Personally, I’ve noticed that the better/more appealing the food is that I’m eating, the more people swarm around me and ask for some. You’d think they couldn’t afford to buy their own food. I try to be a generous person, and am willing to share, but sometimes the mooching gets on my nerves.

That’s why I decided to create this giant cinnamon roll. It’s so humungous, I couldn’t care less how many other people come along and take a piece. I’d still be left with plenty.

We’re not talking about any old bakery cinnamon roll here. No oversized Cinnabon as big as your face, dripping with grease. This cinnamon roll is better than any of that in every way. The two main reasons are 1) it’s not dripping with grease so your body will thank you and 2) it’s even BIGGER than what you’d get from a Cinnabon factory, so everyone else in your family who invite themselves to take a piece will thank you.

cinnamon roll apple dried fruit cake

The great thing about this cinnamon roll is that it is both delicious and nutritious. I made it with almost all whole wheat flour. That plus the dried fruit provide fiber. I also used applesauce and Earth Balance in place of the butter, and used less sugar than was called for in the original recipe. And yet it is still sweet and has a great flavor! Oh, and did I mention there is no yeast involved? So it’s yummy, healthy and easy!

When my mom first saw me eating a slice of this cinnamon roll, she said it looked good. And she’s right. If they have a healthy dessert modeling agency, I’m sure this pretty pastry could get a job there. Am I right?

slice of giant apple dried fruit cinnamon roll

My mom and I both agreed that this recipe was a success. The apples, cinnamon and dried fruit are flavorful and fit like a glove with the comforting, hearty cake/batter/roll part. I’m actually not sure whether to call it a cinnamon roll or a cinnamon roll cake. Or a cinnamon twirl, or a swirl, or just a really good cinnamon treat-thingy that you should make right now this second!

Sharing-Size Cinnamon Roll

Makes 8-16 servings

adapted from this recipe on Back for Seconds

giant apple cinnamon roll

Ingredients:

for dough

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur brand)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used Fage brand)
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbls plain almond milk (I used Silk brand)
  • 3 tbls organic light agave syrup
  • 1 tbl vanilla extract
  • 2 tbls Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread

for filling

  • 1/4 cup Tree Top brand unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsps cinnamon
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped (or use 1 1/2 to 2 apples; I felt it could have used a little more)
  • 1 tbl chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbls golden raisins
  • 2 tbls dried cranberries
  • 3 dried, pitted dates, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Spray a 9” cake pan with cooking spray.

Filling: In a small bowl, melt the 1/4 cup Earth Balance in the microwave. Mix it with the applesauce and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the apple pieces, walnuts, raisins, cranberries, and dates. Add the brown sugar and flour. Toss to combine. Set this aside.

Dough: In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, and baking powder and mix. Add the Greek yogurt, agave, vanilla, and 2 tbls Earth Balance. (Earth Balance does not have to be melted.) Add the almond milk in increments, stopping when the mixture is a soft dough.

On a flat surface, roll out the dough so it is a rectangle of at least 1/8 inch thick.

Put it all together: Spread the applesauce/Earth Balance mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough rectangle. Use a spoon to sprinkle the fruit/sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly all over this.

Use a sharp knife to cut a strip of dough, about an the height of half your finger, from the long side of the rectangle. Carefully roll this strip into a “cinnamon roll” shape. Place it in the center of your prepared cake pan.

Cut more strips from the rectangle and stick them onto the cinnamon roll in the center, filling side in. Build out from the center in this fashion until all the dough is used up. The outside edge of the cinnamon roll should be close to the edge of the cake pan.

Place the cake pan in the preheated oven. Bake for 18 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Enjoy warm.

**Warning: the dough will be sort of hard to work with before baking. It will not be firm, but just do your best to stick it in the pan in a general roll shape.

Mmm- mmm-mmm, you can’t go wrong with a cinnamon roll!

giant apple cinnamon roll with dried fruit and walnuts

You Might Also Like:

Vegan S’mores Mini-Cinnabuns!

mini s'mores cinnamon bun - vegan

Etrange et Insolite

Ici tout est bizarre !

Santa Monica Bay Audubon Blog

The Official SMBAS Online Newsletter

•M•U•G•N•A•

with lesser words

indahs: dive, travel & photography

cities - cultures - ocean - marine life

charityjanisse

Art, Poetry, Thoughts, Photos I've taken and Random things that inspire me.

Underwater University

Teaching about fish in the ocean

O at the Edges

Musings on poetry, language, perception, numbers, food, and anything else that slips through the cracks.

jdubqca

poetry by j matthew waters

Fictional Kevin

Cigar Fueled Creative Writing

Rantings of an Amateur Chef

Food...cooking...eating....tools - What works, and what doesn't!

Polishmewithglitter

Because bare nails are boring.

countingducks

reflections on a passing life

Triceranails

blog of a manicure addict

KITCHEN CICI

Food Innovator, Clean Eater, Recipe Sharer. My kitchen is small but mighty.