Archive | January, 2013

Double Chocolate Mocha Oat Squares

double chocolate mocha oat squaresToday I want to talk about snacks. We’ve talked about snacks before, but not all snacks are created equal. The best kinds of snacks (in my opinion) contain chocolate. Double doses of chocolate (or even triple, if you like). What makes chocolate taste better? Coffee. Just a little bit, to deepen the flavor. And vanilla, because I like it (don’t you?). Sea salt, too, because what goes better with chocolate than sea salt?

double chocolate mocha oat squaresThis is one of those recipes that I created as I went. I had no clear end in sight when I walked into the kitchen, outside of the fact that I needed a new snack. And that a portable snack would be most ideal. Apparently, I was in the mood for chocolate, because that’s the first item I grabbed off the shelf, shortly followed by oats, another staple ingredient, and freshly made sunflower seed butter (which has also seen a lot of use around here lately).

double chocolate mocha oat squaresThese bars are dense and chewy, full of wonderful texture, and completely satisfying. Melty chocolate complements crunchy sunflower seeds and chewy rolled oats. A hint of coffee gives these bars a complex flavor and makes them a bit more mysterious than your average granola bar. They’re great for a pre-workout energy boost, quick breakfast (chocolate for breakfast, yes please!), or even drizzled with extra chocolate as a dessert for your Superbowl party this weekend!

double chocolate mocha oat squaresDouble Chocolate Mocha Oat Squares

Makes 16 bars

Ingredients

•1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
•1/4 cup brewed coffee*
•1/2 cup unsweetened, unsalted sunflower seed butter*
•1/3 cup turbinado sugar
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•1 cup rolled oats
•1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
•2 tablespoons cocoa powder
•1/4 cup chocolate chunks
•2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line with parchment or lightly grease an 8 inch square baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix together the ground flaxseed and coffee. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the sunflower seed butter, turbinado sugar, and vanilla extract. Stir with a wooden spoon until homogenous, then pour in the flaxseed mixture and stir until completely incorporated.

Pour in the salt, rolled oats, flour, and cocoa powder, and mix until well incorporated, using your hands if necessary. The dough will be slightly crumbly. Mix in the chocolate chunks.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish and press down firmly, creating a 3/4 inch thick layer of dough. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top and press into the dough.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until edges are just golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Notes: To give these bars a triple dose of chocolate, use my chocolate sunflower seed butter. If you do not wish to use coffee, an equal amount of a coffee substitute (such as Teeccino or Dandy Blend), or non-dairy milk may be used. If you use non-dairy milk, the bars won’t have the mocha flavor, but will work just the same.

What are your favorite chocolate snacks? Do any of them do double duty as a dessert (or breakfast)? Does anyone of other great ideas for Superbowl snacks?

double chocolate mocha oat squares

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Cheesy Sun Dried Tomato White Bean Spread

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As you well know, we’re big fans of beans in this household. Whether roasted into crunchy snacks, mashed into burgers, baked into brownies, or blended into dips and spreads, beans are one of the most versatile kitchen staples I can think of. As such, they make a rather large appearance in my diet.

I am a condiment fanatic, and as such, I am always in search of something new to put on my condiment plate (yes, I have a dinner plate, and a condiment plate - it’s important). Hummus makes an appearance on quite a frequent basis, recently with a hefty dose of roasted garlic and carrots. I wanted something a bit creamier this time, though, and great northern beans were the perfect fit.

The sun dried tomatoes lend a slightly sweet element, while the garlic adds just enough heat.  A bit of nutritional yeast rounds out the flavor, making this spread not only cheesy, but quite savory.

I’ve only eaten it as a vegetable topper so far, but I can imagine this spread doing quite well as the base for a pizza, or even stirred into pasta and other grain dishes for an extra kick of flavor and creaminess.

IMG_6676Cheesy Sun Dried Tomato White Bean Spread

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients

•1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, soaked in warm water for at least 30 minutes and drained*
•1/4 cup unsweetened, unsalted sunflower seed butter*
•2 tablespoons warm water
•1/2 teaspoon sea salt
•1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced
•1 1/2 cups great northern beans (rinsed and drained, if canned)
•3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

In the bowl of a food processor combine the sunflower seed butter and warm water. Process until a creamy mixture forms.  Add the rest of the ingredients and process until a homogenous mixture forms, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Notes: Save the tomato soaking water to use as a base for soups, to cook grains in, etc. If you only have salted sunflower seed butter on hand, begin by adding just 1/8 teaspoon of salt, and adjust as necessary.  An equal amount of cashew butter or tahini may be substituted for the sunflower seed butter.

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Looking for other cheesy ideas? If you haven’t had Gena’s “Pizza Cheese” yet, I highly recommend giving it a try.

In more of a saucy mood? Angela’s “Quick and Dirty 5 Ingredient Vegan Cheeze Sauce” is just what you’re looking for.

What are your favorite ways to add a cheesy flavor to your meals? Any other favorite “cheese” recipes out there?

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Recipe Roundup

I spend hours upon hours reading blogs, scouring the internet for recipes and idea, and writing lists (so many notebooks full) of what I want to make next. But, I just realized, I’ve not shared any of these wonderful finds with you! So here it is, my first recipe roundup!

These “Thinnest Oatmeal Cookies” from Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks look just wonderful. Her recipes are always simple twists on the classics, and have never failed to produce amazing results.

Source: Healthful Pursuit

I was never a fan of chocolate turtles in the past, but over the years I’ve developed a slight addiction to pecans, chocolate, and dates on their own. Leanne’s version of the classic candy looks wonderful!

Source: Have Cake Will Travel

I’ve had gingerbread on the mind lately (gingerbread biscotti, anyone? or maybe some chewy gingerbread bars?), and the more forms I can turn it into, the better. Celine’s gingerbread granola looks like the perfect treat for when cravings hit.

chocolate maple granola overheadHow about some more granola - granola clusters to be more precise. Sally has made some wonderful looking maple almond granola clusters here. If those two granolas don’t catch your eye, try my my Chocolate Chunk Maple Granola with Coconut and Dates yet. You won’t be disappointed!

These Sugar ‘n Spice Dipped Pumpkin Pretzels from Healthy Happy Life look too good to resist. Regular cinnamon sugar pretzels are hard to beat, but I think Kathy did it here!

What are your favorite recent recipe finds? Do you have any favorite cozy winter meals or snacks? When it’s cold outside, I just want to stay in the kitchen and bake up my own storm (since, apparently we won’t be getting any snow storms here in Maryland).

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