Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

Some people adore the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, all the time. I’m not one of them. I only like it sometimes, when I’m in the right mood for it. But once I’m in the mood for chocolate peanut butter, I devour it!

When Amelia was a baby, I came across this recipe for chocolate peanut butter bites in a breastfeeding group; it should theoretically increase your breastmilk supply. Now, I can’t say whether or not it works for that, but it is about the healthiest chocolate peanut butter cookie/dessert/snack recipe you can find. It’s a simple combination of peanut butter, honey, chocolate chips, oatmeal, and flaxseed meal. I love that it’s no-bake and can be made using only the microwave, perfect for making during the hottest part of summer.

In the recipe as I originally found it, you combine the peanut butter and honey, add the remaining ingredients, then roll the sticky snacks in extra oats or slivered almonds or something. That sounded both messy and fussy, neither of which I like. I cut back on the honey to reduce the stickiness (and sweetness). I decided everything would mix together more easily if I heated the peanut butter and honey together first. When I mixed in the remaining ingredients, magic happened. The chocolate chips melted into the peanut butter, turning this into something like a healthier peanut butter cup. This recipe takes no more than 15 minutes to make – maybe a little longer if you don’t have a cookie scoop. The dough can be a little crumbly, but whenever mine is, I use my hands to finish rolling these into balls. I like to use a 1.5-teaspoon cookie scoop for these to make them bite-size.

I’ve been known to eat several of these instead of eating a meal when I’m busy, and I don’t feel guilty thanks to all the oatmeal and flax meal, which provide lots of fiber, and the peanut butter, which provides protein. Sometimes I find that I can taste the flax meal in these. That doesn’t bother me, but if it bothers you, you can use more oatmeal and less flax meal. You can also try adding more honey or chocolate chips.

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Pretzel Bites

Today, I finally made my 50th bread recipe this year! Overall, this was such a fun resolution I made. I am a little sad to have this be over, but at the same time, I am looking forward to a little more down time. Since I’ve moved, and especially during the last two weeks, the majority of what I have done is bake. With all the goodies I made at Christmas, plus catching up on my bread, I’ve put in some full-day sessions in my kitchen. I really, really like my new kitchen, but still…

The recipe for Pretzel Bites, has been on my to-make list for most of the year. It was always going to be my fall-back recipe when I needed to make bread but didn’t want something too involved, for when I didn’t need toast for a week but just needed an evening snack instead. I must have forgotten about the recipe at some point, or else surely I would have made it during the middle of the year at one of those times when nothing else inspired me. Luckily, something reminded me of it, and I decided it would be a great snack for New Year’s Eve, as well as an easy recipe to wind down my year of bread.

pretzelbites

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Pear Walnut Muffins

Bread Week 4: I said that I wasn’t going to make muffins for my weeks of bread, and I hadn’t planned to, but that’s what I’m going to share with you tonight – some of the most delicious muffins I’ve ever made, and they are gluten-free to boot. Week 4  of Bread was supposed to be cornbread again – a delicious and simple cornbread. I actually made it twice for various reasons, and one batch was a full quarter inch shorter than the other; a third attempt is clearly needed. So, I’m going to bend my rules since I didn’t intentionally make muffins for Week 4.

pearwalnutmuffins3

I’m glad to have the excuse to share these with you. My adaptation of these Pear and Hazelnut Muffins are one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. They are delicious. Seriously, you need to make these muffins. When Deb at Smitten Kitchen posted them, I lamented that I couldn’t make them while I am on a gluten-free diet – until I read the preface to the recipe where she suggests a few gluten-free flour alternatives to use, and I read the comments where a few readers reported success making them gluten-free. Heartened, I made them last weekend to have as a snack for this week, and I am so, so incredibly glad that I did.

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Banana Muffins

Don’t throw out your speckled bananas. Don’t throw out a banana out even if the entire banana turns brown. Those super-overripe bananas are perfect to use for baking. If you don’t want to peel and freeze them, just stash them in the fridge, ugly peel and all, until you’re ready to use them. They’ll stay useable in there for another 2 weeks that way.

I was in possession of some very, very overripe bananas but was bored with my usual recipes. Luckily, I already had this Banana Muffins recipe bookmarked. They were the perfect thing to have for snacks or breakfast on a recent road trip.

Banana Muffins
Banana Muffins

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Lemon and Raspberries and Cake – Oh My!

I love cake. I love raspberries. And I love lemon. It’s only natural that I would be drawn to the combination of the three. However, not all variations of lemon raspberry cake are equal. This is a tale of a very complex cake with delicious buttercream, and of very simple and delicious muffins.

Lemon Raspberry Cake
Lemon Raspberry Cake

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Granola Muffins

Granola is one of those foods that I go through phases with. I enjoy making it and eating it, but then I move on to something else. I had made granola a little while ago and still had a jar or two of it sitting around. Definitely time to get that food eaten up.

So, granola muffins seemed like a great way to use up my granola. Why is making it into breakfast muffins better than just eating it? …I guess that once I bake something, I’m forced to eat it. When I’m not on a granola kick, I can easily let the granola languish, becoming just another fixture in my kitchen, cluttering my counter. After all, it doesn’t go bad.

I’ve made these muffins twice. The granola muffins call for no egg. The recipe calls for buttermilk, but I used an equivalent amount of yogurt both times with great success. Pick the fruit pieces out of the granola you use for topping, and bury them inside the muffins so they will remain moist; if you leave them on top, they may burn (particularly in my oven). I think this works best with a strongly flavored granola – the last batch I included had dates, which tasted great against the whole wheat.

Yogurt Granola Muffin
Yogurt Granola Muffin

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Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

I realize that it’s been a few weeks since my last blog post… I was caught up with finally reading the Hunger Games trilogy, the beginnings of softball season since I’m playing on a rec league, finishing up taxes, and then catching up on the rest of life that I put off for the first three. I’ve made a few delicious recipes that I’m looking forward to showing you over the next couple of weeks.

The one recipe that I’ve made recently that you *must try* is Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting. As soon as I saw the recipe flitter across my RSS feed, I knew I had to make them. I had overripe bananas – I had to make them, as soon as I could. And I’m really happy I did.

You must try these cupcakes!
You must try these cupcakes!

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Paczki (Polish Mardi Gras donuts)

Paczki have been a favorite in my household ever since Alex and I moved to Champaign. I had never heard of them before – after all, I’m neither Catholic nor did I grow up in an area with a large Catholic population – but Alex had them before and insisted we get them when we saw them at Meijer. And we have bought at least one box of them before Mardi Gras every year since 2005. Until this year, when I insisted that I try to make them.

For anyone who doesn’t want to read the above link to Wikipedia, Paczki are Polish donuts made before or for Mardi Gras to use up all the ingredients you weren’t supposed to eat during Lent. They’re usually filled, and although fruit-filled ones are tasty, I’ve always favored the “Bavarian Creme” (pastry cream) filled ones so that’s what I attempted here.

Paczkis

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Slow Cooker Applesauce

I know I’m not alone in buying produce and not being able to eat it all while it’s still perfect. Recently, I have been notoriously bad for buying bags of apples – with every intention of eating them regularly – and letting them languish in a bowl on the dining table. Sure, we eat a few of them. I like dicing them and cooking them in a skillet with a tiny bit of brown sugar and cinnamon, then putting them over pancakes or just eating them as a side dish.

That leaves the other 8 or so that we haven’t eaten.

Applesauce is the perfect thing to make with old-ish apples, and it’s the perfect thing to make in a slow cooker. I think you’d have to work hard to overcook the apples. They gently steam and break down. You don’t have to do any work after you peel and cut them – and an apple peeler/corer makes this so much easier as to be practically no work at all. (My friend Kate got me one similar to this years ago, and I rediscovered it this year. It’s amazing!)

Also, you don’t have to add sugar to it. You pay a premium at the grocery store for no-sugar-added applesauce. I find that if I buy a jar of applesauce, I’m never in the mood for it and forget to eat it. Not so with this stuff. When I make applesauce, it disappears from my fridge within two days.

Slow Cooker Applesauce

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How I used up the rolled oats in my pantry (making Power Bars and lots of granola)

I’ve published a new blog post every day for the past 14 days. So exciting! I didn’t get blog posts up so regularly even when I was doing my 365 recipe challenge in 2010. It’s addictive; I don’t want to stop! I’ve more-or-less blogged about everything interesting that I’ve made recently, so I’m reading some old drafts of mine to see what I meant to tell you about but never got around to.

I wrote the majority of the following in July and August, while I was preparing to move from our house and while we were house-sitting, and in fact, before we had rented our current apartment.

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