Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Banana Bread

I have no introduction to this recipe other than McSweeney’s ‘Open Letter to Pumpkin-Flavored Seasonal Treats.’
2 small-medium very ripe banana, mashed
1 c. pumpkin purée, homemade or canned
1/4 c. canola oil
2 extra large eggs
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. distilled white vinegar
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c.  all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 (or more!) c. chocolate chunks
nuts if you have them, thanks.
Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease and flour an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch baking pan.
In a larger bowl, combine banana, pumpkin, oil, eggs, sugars, vanilla, and vinegar.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, spices, and chocolate chunks.  Using a rubber spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry just until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 45-60 minutes.  Place the loaf on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Invert the loaf onto the rack and cool completely.
This bread, like anything, is great with coffee, honey, and peanut butter.
Happy Fall!
Fran
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Vegan Fig & Banana Hazelnut Breakfast Bars (special guest appearance by Blackberries)

So, this is one of those garbage-dump posts. Where you have several miscellaneous things in your fridge and you want to make them work in one dish. Just a disclaimer: I’m really sorry that I don’t edit my recipes very well, running the risk of you trying to reproduce something I made without correct measurements or whatever. This was one of those. I didn’t measure. AT ALL. So most things here are a guesstimate, because hey, I don’t have measuring cups in the UK. Just some utensils that read in milliliters, which might as well be in CHINESE, am I right?

2-3 c. rolled oats
2 bananas
4 whole figs
12 big blackberries
3/4 c. chopped hazelnuts (give or take to taste)
3 T. honey (HEAPING tablespoons)
1/2-2/3 c. peanut butter
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. cardamom

Preheat the oven to 350°. (Just looked up how to make a degrees symbol, because I was tired of copying and pasting. [It’s shift+option+8])

Mix the oats, chopped hazelnuts, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, and figs (roughly chopped, skins and all) together until it’s almost dough, but still dry. This will vary depending on whether you used quick oats or whole oats. I used quick oats, but I recommend whole oats—crunchier & wholier.

So now’s your wet mixture. Mush the bananas real well until there are very few chunks. Whip in peanut butter and honey. The recipe I was stemming from called for all this to be heated up in a saucepan, but I didn’t really see the point. It softens it better, but the three elements already go together so well. Their flavors are always blended evenly.

Mix the wet into the dry, adding more oats if it’s too thin, more of the wet if it’s too thick. You want something that malleable, like rice crispy treats. Have you ever made rice crispy treats?

Let me introduce Maggie, in her foodblogging debut. Hi, Maggie.

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Maggie was good at stirring.

So, once you’ve got the dough, you are literally going to play-doh it into a 8×8 pan (give or take). I used tin foil, but it got real stuck to the bars afterward, so try something else, like greasing. Once it’s all in there, and you got some bars, take your thumb and press evenly-spaced craters into your bars. In these craters will be your blackberries. Put all the blackberries in their little nests and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes!

When they come out, cut them into bars!

They’re very healthy, and you can tell. If you’re eating these in the morning, they’re good for dipping in coffee. But if it’s at night, you’ll probably want something sweeter. So get really drunk and take your honey jar, drizzling it it on top in the messiest way possible.Image

Love,
Fran

Ratatouille Violette avec Aubergine & Pommes de Terre

Alright, so there’s no justification to putting the title in French, but it sounds Image
much more elegant than “purple ratatouille.” This dish came about for two reasons:

1. I had three purple vegetables in my cupboard.
2. I love ratatouille.

Ratatouille is an easy dish, and does not always have to look like the fancy, thinly-sliced veggie dish we saw in the movie of the same name. It’s usually a bunch of vegetables tossed in oil, spices, and popped in the oven for an hour. Here’s what I used in this one.

3 small purple potatoes
1 purple onion
1 striped purple eggplant
1/2 yellow or orange pepper
3 small tomatoes
5-6 cloves of roughly chopped garlic
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1 T. basil
handful of parsley
salt & pepper
olive oil

Preheat the oven to  400°F.

Slice the onions and potatoes in hamburger slices. The big circles will help cook these vegetables best. Slice the potatoes and peppers in ribbons. Halve the tomatoes. Toss all vegetables and garlic in olive oil and throw them in a baking sheet. Season to taste with the remaining spices.

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Place in the oven for 45 minutes, tossing the vegetables every 15. Serve over tomato sauce, with bread, couscous, or soft cheese.

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The peasant’s dish! Enjoy!

Fran

Chai Shortbread Cookies

1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground cardamom
3/4 t. ground  ginger
3/4 t. ground clove
3/4 t. ground nutmeg
2 T sugar
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 bag chai tea leaves, optional (if they’re whole leaf, crush them to make them finer)
1/2 t. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, but still cool (margarine, for vegan/dairy free version)
1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 c. bittersweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, clove, and nutmeg until thoroughly combined.

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Remove one teaspoon of the mixture and, in a small separate bowl, stir it into the 2 tablespoons of sugar; set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the remaining chai spice mix (and chai tea, if using) with the flour and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and beat until the dough resembles wet sand, don’t over beat.

Using your hands, press the dough together to form a ball then use a rolling pan to flatten out the dough until it’s about an inch thick. Using the top of a mason jar (I know, fabulous), cut out your desired cookie size. The size of your cookie may effect your cookie time, but as long as they’re nice and thick, you’ll be alright. Placing in the leftover sugared chai mixture (both sides—don’t be shy) and then spread the cookies on baking sheets lined with parchment paper with lots of room in between.

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Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top feels firm and the edges are golden.

After the cookies have cooled, pick the ugliest side of the cookie (usually the top) and dunk it in melted chocolate. Serve with vanilla ice cream and a cinnamon stick!

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Francisco

Asparagus-Mushroom Bread Pudding

The Vegetarian Times magazine just came out with a Farmer’s Market Cookbook edition filled with all kinds of summer recipes for the different months of the summer. Francisco was nice enough to buy a copy for us to share! It was just in time because we were on our way to the Chicago Farmer’s Market at the Daley Plaza. Since it’s still the start of the summer despite what the weather leads us to believe, the vegetable selection was fairly limited, but there were loads and loads of asparagus!

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Thanks to Vegetarian Times, I had just the recipe for my green and purple asparagus!

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Asparagus – Mushroom Bread Pudding

1 Leek, finely chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
25-30 medium spears Asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
10 oz. White Mushrooms, sliced
4 cups Skim Milk
4 large Eggs
2 tsp. Chipotle Mustard – The recipe originally called for Dijon, either would be great!
2 Tbs. chopped Fresh Basil
1 1-lb. loaf Crusty Bread, cut into cubes
8 oz. soft Goat Cheese log, sliced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Coat skillet with nonstick cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Add leek and garlic, and sauté until soft. Add asparagus and mushrooms, and cook until asparagus is tender. Try to use uniform-sized asparagus to make this process a bit easier. Season the vegetables to taste. Set aside.

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Whisk together milk, eggs, mustard, and basil in bowl. Set aside.

Coat a baking dish with cooking spray. Spread half of bread cubes in single layer in baking dish. Spoon asparagus mixture over top, and cover with remaining bread cubes.

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Arrange goat cheese rounds over top. Pour egg mixture over all, pressing down with spoon to submerge bread. Cover, and chill overnight.

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Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake bread pudding 45-50 minutes, or until center is set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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Here’s some things to keep in mind:

– Make sure to season the vegetables to your liking
– Could use a little more flavor in the creamy mixture – maybe add additional mustard
– Try to use a deep and wide baking dish to avoid any overflow with the milk mixture
–  Feel free to crumble your goat cheese instead of making rounds — makes the cheese more evenly spread

This savory bread pudding was very creamy and hearty. I loved the crunchy top mixed with the gooey center. Plus the tangy goat cheese balanced the cream filled center. This first trial run definitely had its mistakes, but it made for a delicious side dish for our dinner and could definitely make for a wonderful entrée! I can’t wait to make it again!

Love,

Mimi

Peach and Blueberry Crumble

While abroad in Rennes, my host mom, Blandine, always loved throwing little dinner parties for the family. Whether for a special occasion like a birthday or simply to celebrate the much-needed weekend, it was always exciting to have an extravagant homemade 4-course meal!

I have never been much of a baker, but Blandine assured me that if there is one dessert that she always loves to make because of its simplicity, it was the Crumble. The recipe always stays about the same, but the fillings can change! She had an entire cookbook filled with all different crumble combinations!

For Mother’s Day, I decided to make a Peach and Blueberry Crumble inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble. And it was absolutely divine!

While it’s not exactly peach season quite yet, I couldn’t resist and found myself purchasing some frozen peach slices and blueberries.

crumble final

Peach and Blueberry Crumble

Crumble Topping
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons sugar
Zest of Orange
1/4 pound (1 stick or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

Ooey Gooey Filling
2-3 c. of Peaches, slice into bite size pieces
1-2 c. of Blueberries
Juice of 1 Orange
1/4 cup sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch or two of salt

Set your oven to 375°F.

For the crumble topping, first melt the butter and then mix together all of the ingredients until it begins to form into little clumps of dough. Then pop that in the fridge while you make your filling!

I actually prepared my filling in the pan! I threw in my fruits and then carefully folded in the remaining ingredients. Since both peaches and blueberries are particularly sweet, I cut down the sugar a bit!

crumble filling

Next, I pulled out my topping and evenly distributed all of the crumble bits over the gooey filling.

crumble before

I let the crumble bake for about 30 – 45 minutes. Then I decided to up the temperature of the oven to 400°F until the top began to brown and the fruity filling started to bubble into the topping.

Serve hot and preferably topped with some creamy French vanilla ice cream.

The dessert turned out to be super juicy and delicious with an awesome crust-like sugary topping. I am so excited to have crumbles become a staple at my future dinner parties.

Happy Mother’s Day Everybody! Here’s to all of the wonderful mothers out there who inspire us and support us in every single way!

Filled with love,

Mimi

Ps. This recipe has also been successful using only strawberries. I made the strawberry crumble for a senior dinner with my Auditorium pals last month!

My Strawberry Crumble

strawberry crumble

The only issue that I faced with this crumble was the pan size. I highly recommend a wide and deep pan to help spread out the crumble topping better.

Chewy Cranberry Orange Granola (for Mother’s Day)

Mother’s Day is a time for showing your mamacita just how much you care about her. I don’t admire very many moms. I tend to find that my own is superior. Some that fall into her ranks, however, are the following:

Michelle Obama
Molly Weasley
the mom from The Parent Trap
that polar bear that swam for 9 days straight across the Beaufort Sea with two cubs on its back
Roseanne
Mimi Yong

Anywho, if you’re going to honor a mom, in any way, honor her with food. I made her breakfast in bed, waking up at 7:30 in the morning to throw this granola in the oven. True dedication.

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Here’s what you need.

2 c. rolled oats
1/3 c. walnuts
1/3 c. almonds
1/3 c. sunflower seeds
3 T. canola oil
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 T. sea salt
6 T. molasses
1 T. orange zest
2 T. orange juice
1 c. dried cranberries
copious amounts of honey

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Start by combining oats, all nuts, oil, brown sugar, salt, and molasses until everything is evenly coated. You may need to drizzle honey to your own best judgement, and it may not be exactly 6 T. Once it’s all darkened, drizzle on the honey.

Now, I cannot and will not restrict the amount of honey you put into this granola, but I drizzled til the sun went down (not literally). I’d say at least 6 T. to match the molasses, if you’re into measuring, but more honey will make it chewier, more wet. Less honey will make it crunchier, more piecey.

Once you are satisfied with your honey level, add orange zest and juice, mix well, and then spread on an oiled baking sheet so that it’s all evenly spread out.

Place in the oven for 45 minutes, or until it’s browned and changed texture. Taste test, please.

When you take the pan out, empty the contents on a ripped paper bag and spread out with dried cranberries, mixing it and mooshing it with your hands so that it’s all clumpy. Leave it to set for 15 minutes or so.

Serve it warm with pancakes or room temp with fruit and yogurt!

Happy Mamma’s Day,
Francisco

Homemade Oreos

We know that the original are just unbeatable (with peanut butter), but sometimes you gotta try making your own. I made these for my co-editor for the newspaper I work at. The poor guy has covered for me more times than I have fingers and toes.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Pillsbury Fluffy White

Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined.

Add flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt until it is a soft dough.

Divide into two discs to wrap and put in the freezer for at least an hour. After chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and roll out dough into 1/4 in. thickness, cutting using desired round cutter (or fun shapes?!). Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cookies won’t really expand.

After they cool, fill ’em with frosting! America’s favie cookie from your kitchen.

Love,

Francisco

Golden Beet Cookies

The past few days I have had this overwhelming craving for cookies that sort of came out of nowhere and tonight, I just couldn’t take it anymore!

After skimming through some recipes, Francisco pointed this one out to me that’s featured on Making Food and Other Stuff. Since we can never get enough of beets, I knew I had to try it. Oh, in case you didn’t know, we LOVE beets.

I decided to beef up this recipe a little bit and throw in some other little things to nibble on and it just so happened to be absolutely scrumptious! Plus instead of using just white sugar, I decided to half it and throw in some brown sugar.

If you’re craving cookies, too! You must try these:

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Golden Beet Cookies with Oats, Walnuts, and Chocolate Chips

1/4 c. Golden Beet (Peeled and Pureed)
3/4 c. White flour
1/8 c. White sugar
1/8 c. Brown sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 tbsp Vegetable oil
1/4 c. Water
1/4 c. Whole grain oats
1/2 c. Walnuts (crushed)
1/2 cup Semi-sweet Chocolate chips — (can replace with vegan chocolate chunks)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put all of the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix except: chocolate chips, walnuts and oats.

I pureed my beet using my new immersion blender/cuisinart chopper.

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Make a well in the middle and pour in the beets, vanilla, and oil.

Mix well. I found that my mixture was just a little too dry for my liking. So this was when I decided to use the 1/4 c. of water just to give the batter a bit more moisture.

Next, fold in the oats, crushed walnuts and chocolate chips.

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Place on a cookie sheet in the form of 9 medium sized cookies or more smaller cookies; They don’t spread out very much while baking, so I made mine wide and flat.

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(I didn’t estimate well and had to bake 6 and 3.. Oops!)

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10-15 minutes and enjoy!

This was a fun recipe on a whim, but I definitely want to try it again.

Next time, I’d really love to use red beets like the original recipe called for and I’d like to use just a whole lot more beet — maybe 1/2 cup or even 1 whole cup! The golden beets just didn’t bring out as much color as I would’ve liked and the beet flavor was not as prevalent as I thought it would be. I also would love to try it with different add-ins!

Overall, these are absolutely delicious cookies with a great consistency. They are the perfect comfort food to erase that long day of work and studying or even just for a fun activity to satisfy those cookie cravings!

Wishing I went to the store and bought some milk today..

With love,

Mimi

Vegan Chunky Monkeys

So these were maybe some of my favorite cookies I’ve ever made. These little guys, adapted from an NYTimes recipe, are mostly improvised (and considering this is vegan baking, I’m gonna give myself a little pat on the back). I only have two pictures, but I’m hoping you can take my word for it that they were DELECTABLE. The perfect synthesis of crunch, density, moisture, and the Soft Center (the most important facet of all baked vegan goods).

Something else to keep in mind. With vegan baking, you can eat as much batter as you want (AS MUCH AS YOU WANT!) because there is no egg or butter, or milk or nuttin’ too heavy.

This is for a double batch.

2 very ripe, very large bananas
2/3 c. canola oil
1 1/3 c. brown sugar (you can use regular as well)
1 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
plus 4 T. all-purpose flour, or as needed
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
4 c. quick-cooking oatmeal or rolled oats
1/2 c. peanut butter (plus more if desired—it’s peanut butter)
1 cup vegan chocolate chunks

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

Oil the baking sheets and mash the banana until all the chunks are eliminated. Add oil, sugar. vanilla, and peanut butter. Then add whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon until it has thickened quite a bit. Be sure to use a wooden spoon in order to give the batter the tough lovin’ it needs.

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It will start to look more like drop batter when you add the oatmeal gradually, and finally chocolate chips. The extra all-purpose flour is for thickening if, for some reason, the dough is too “slippery” (as the NYTimes recipe vaguely dictates) to form into balls.

The cookies barely expand in the oven. Putting them in near-golf-ball-sized balls, space them a little less than 2 inches apart.

The cookies bake for 10-12 minutes, but at about the 8-minute mark, take the trays out quickly to switch racks and also to squash the cooking dough with the bottom of your spatula. This will give them the flattened look you see here.

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Enjoy, you chunky monkeys, you.
Francisco