Chocolate Peanut Butter, Almond & Raisin Granola Bars: Dairy & Egg Free

Pure Deliciousness!

Pure Deliciousness!

I am slowly morphing into a woman who I don’t recognize. I never thought I’d be such a homemade person.

Ya know what? It’s pretty awesome! I am loving all of the new recipes and things I’m finding that can be homemade (mostly thanks to you Pinterest!).

It’s amazing what one can make from scratch: spice mixes, cakes, muffins, pancakes, pizzas, bread, “uncrustables”, dinner rolls, cook dried beans, dry shampoo, deodorant, gifts– and so much more. I’m not even “scratching” the surface here. 🙂

Some of that might make you scratch your head and wonder what’s the big deal? But when the Huzz and I got married, I did not cook. At all. Unless you call heating up those frozen bags of food for dinner or dumping a jar of spaghetti sauce over frozen ravioli cooking. And cakes and cookies? I let Publix do the baking for me!

So for this little lady… well, let’s just say, I’ve come a long way baby!

Last week I made these homemade granola bars. They were very good. My bars didn’t look like the bars in the photos. My bars looked much drier and not quite right. Still, they tasted great and inspired me to try them again with a little more tweaking.  (AKA more melted chocolate!)

I also made these AMAZING peanut butter bars. Man oh man! We were all “Mmmmmm-mmm-mm” and “Oh these are so GOOD!” while we ate them. (If you have a peanut allergy, try subbing your favorite peanut butter sub.) I will make these again! They do have a lot of powdered sugar, so this isn’t an every day treat. Still, this recipe also inspired me.

Last night, SG wanted a treat and we were all out of treats. I decided to try my hand at kind of recreating both of these recipes together. I didn’t even look at the recipes. I just threw in a little of this and a little of that. I didn’t write the recipe down either as I made it. This is my best guesstimate, as I only measured the oats.  I did write it down shortly after making the bars, so I think these measurements will work well.  The next time I make these, I’m using these measurements.

Chocolate Peanut Butter, Almond & Raisin Granola Bars:

Ingredients:

For the granola bar:

  • 2 cups of old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of Enjoy Life chocolate chips (for the granola mixture)
  • Handful of chopped almonds (omit for tree nut allergy)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup of raisins
  • Honey

For the chocolate topping:

  • Approximately 1/3-1/2 cup of Enjoy Life chocolate chips
  • Approximately 1/4 cup peanut butter (or your favorite peanut butter substitute)

Directions:

  1. Use Earth Balance vegan butter to grease a medium sized pan. I have a brownie pan. It’s bigger than an 9×9 but smaller than a 9×12. I think any of those pans will work- it will just affect the thickness of your granola bar.
  2. Put oats, almonds & raisins in a medium sized bowl. Give it a quick stir.
  3. Melt the chocolate chips for the granola bar in a microwave in 15 second intervals. Check it each time so you don’t melt it so much the chocolate hardens- I think it’s called seizing.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate over the oats mixture. Stir well. (I started with 1/2 cup of melted chocolate and it wasn’t enough to coat the oats mixture so I quickly melted more chocolate. Use enough melted chocolate so that the granola mixture is just coated nicely.)
  5. Add the honey to taste to the granola mixture.  Mix well.   Honestly, I squeezed some in, mixed the granola mixture, tasted it, and then squeezed in more.
  6. Put the granola bar mixture in your greased pan. Use a potato masher to mash the granola bar down. The original recipe said this part was important because without the mashing, the granola bar would fall apart. Mash! 😉
  7. Add the chocolate topping ingredients to a small microwave safe bowl. Heat in the microwave in 15 second increments, until all is melted.  Stir until well blended.
  8. Pour the melted peanut butter and chocolate over the granola mixture. I poured it in little rows. Try to distribute it evenly.
  9. Take a spatula and smooth out the chocolate topping- going all the way to the edges.
  10. Pop in the freezer for an hour and then enjoy. Store it in the fridge. I have no idea how long this lasts because we’ve eaten almost all of it in less than two days.

Note: The next time I make these, I’m going to add some Enjoy Life Crunchy Flax cereal to the chocolate and peanut butter mixture once it’s melted, but before I pour it on the granola bars. I think it will give it a nice crunch.

The family’s take? They loved it! The chocolate and peanut butter topping elevate the granola bar to tasting a bit more like a treat- while the oats, peanut butter, almonds and raisins make me feel good about giving this treat to the 2 most precious people in my life.

Cheers to learning how to make everything from scratch, Allergy Mamas! (And Papas)

We can do it!

Homemade granola bar

Homemade granola bar

Granola bar with four year old bite marks.

Granola bar with four year old bite marks.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cookies Topped with Homemade Dairy Free Chocolate Hearts

Now that title is a mouthful!

I couldn’t think of a cute name and I didn’t want to copy the original recipe’s name. I want y’all to know these babies are topped with homemade chocolate candy hearts. Whoop, whoop!!!

I’m seriously like a giddy little schoolgirl, y’all. For real.

I made these just in time for Valentine’s Day, although I’m not sure they’ll last 48 hours… The Huzz is nick named the Cookie Monster for a reason.

I found Sally’s recipe on Pinterest. I had just the day before purchased a silicone heart mold from HyVee for just a $1. I thought I’d just make some chocolate candies for us for Valentine’s Day.

Then I saw her pin and got pumped up.

I can make pretty food, too. It just takes more effort. And some experimenting. And I’m proud to say I adapted it just right the first time around. Yay!

Here’s how I made these awesome cookies. I used peanut butter because we don’t have peanut allergies. I’m guessing Wow Butter or SunButter would work well, too. I personally like the way Wow Butter tastes better than SunButter. But I digress.

Peanut Butter Cookies topped with Homemade Dairy Free Chocolate Hearts
(adapted from this recipe here)

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of Earth Balance Vegan Butter
  • 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 prepackaged cup of Mott’s Natural Applesauce
  • 3/4 cup of creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 and 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • Homemade Chocolate Candy Hearts (Recipe to Follow)

Directions:

  • Slightly melt the vegan butter in the microwave. Make it just soft enough to be mixed well with the sugars.
  • Use a large bowl with a hand mixer or a mixer with a stand.
  • Add the sugars and vegan butter and mix well.
  • Add the applesauce and mix well.
  • Add the peanut butter and mix well.
  • Add the vanilla and mix well.
  • Add the baking soda & flour and mix until just well blended. Don’t overmix.
  • Put dough in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

Now it’s time to make the chocolate candy hearts.

Ingredients:

  • Safe Chocolate Chips
  • Safe Shortening
  • Candy Mold (I used a heart mold)

Directions:

Pretty much here’s what I did:

Just 2 Ingredients

Just 2 Ingredients

  • I didn’t measure. I just eyeballed the chocolate chips and added a dollop of shortening. I bet you could use coconut oil instead of the shortening if you wanted.
  • I melted my chips & shortening in the microwave for 20 seconds at a time, stirring in between times.
  • Stir until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
  • Pour melted chocolate into heart candy mold. Put in freezer until the cookies are almost done cooking. Pop the chocolate hearts out when firm to the touch and keep in the freezer until they are needed. (I only had 1 mold so I had to repeat this step two times. I’m going to buy another candy mold so I don’t have to do this step twice!)
Melted Chocolate in the Heart Mold

Melted Chocolate in the Heart Mold

These are firm to the touch and ready for the cookies.

These are firm to the touch and ready for the cookies.

Back to the cookies!

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • By now, the cookie dough has chilled. It’s time to roll the dough into round balls and coat the balls in granulated sugar. I put some sugar on a plate. I’d roll about 10 cookies at a time and then roll them in the sugar and place them on a cookie sheet (use parchment paper on the cookie sheet.)
  • Bake cookies for 8-9 minutes- until the cookies just start to crack. The original recipe said that and at 8 minutes my cookies didn’t crack- I needed 9 minutes with my oven. 9 minutes were perfect!
  • When you pull the cookies out of the oven, immediately top the cookies with the chocolate hearts. I gently pushed them into the cookies.
  • Put the cookie sheet directly into the freezer so the homemade chocolates don’t completely melt.
  • Freeze the cookies for 15 minutes.
  • Enjoy your cookies and bask in your beautiful creation… I did!
Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Rolled in Sugar

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Rolled in Sugar

Cracked Peanut Butter Cookies- Just Right!

Cracked Peanut Butter Cookies- Just Right!

Frozen Chocolate Hearts Ready for the Cookies!

Frozen Chocolate Hearts Ready for the Cookies!

Isn't this beautiful?

Isn’t this beautiful?

I can't believe I made these little pretties!!!

I can’t believe I made these little pretties!!!

A Sea of Yumminess!

A Sea of Yumminess!

This also make great gifts for the special people in your life.

This also make great gifts for the special people in your life.

I used a box I picked up on clearance, a cute square muffin liner, a label & some Dollar Spot stickers to put our gift together.

I used a box I picked up on clearance, a cute square muffin liner, a label & some Dollar Spot stickers to put our gift together.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cookies Boxed Up and Ready to Share

Homemade Peanut Butter Cookies Boxed Up and Ready to Share

We are enjoying our special Valentine’s cookies.

Happy Valentine’s Day from our Blessed Little Family to yours!

Easy Pumpkin Bread: Dairy, Egg & Cinnamon Free

I thought pumpkin bread was never gonna happen for us. First of all, the recipe needed to be dairy and egg free for SG. And for me…cinnamon free and can free.

No canned pumpkin?!?! We know how to bake and purée the pie pumpkins, but honestly it was a major pain. Neither the Huzz or I wanted to fool with that anymore.

Last December, I found what I thought I’d never ever find… safe boxed pumpkin! I had found one other boxed brand but it was processed on shared lines with dairy products. But this one, this Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin, was and is totally SAFE for us!

But then, the hunt was on for a cinnamon free pumpkin bread recipe (for me.)

So the recipe had to be basically vegan, without cinnamon. It felt impossible.

But then, I found this recipe. (Click here to read the original recipe.)

This recipe has rocked our world, y’all! I’m serious.

I made it several times last December and throughout the cold Iowa winter.

I let my last few boxes sit in my pantry and they had a use by date of September 2014. No specific date, so in mid-September, I mixed up three bowls and batches of the dry mix and then got ready to mix the wet ingredients. I discovered the pumpkin was already bad. Not only was I sad because I was craving pumpkin bread, but I had three bowls of dry pumpkin mix ready to go! I bagged them up in three separate bags and that was the end of that.

I can’t find the pumpkin locally, so I had to order it online. (Click here for the cheapest place I can find them online.)

Anyway, the long awaited boxed pumpkin finally arrived. I mixed together the wet ingredients (just 4 ingredients!) and dumped in my ready mixed dry mix. And yall, I had the pumpkin bread in the oven from start to finish in about 5 minutes!!! 5 minutes???? (give or take!)

Pumpkin Bread Made Easy!

Pumpkin Bread Made Easy!

So, friends, that’s my big twist on the recipe. I’ve decided I will premix the dry ingredients and keep them at the ready in my pantry. I kept the mixes in plastic baggies. I also discovered my giant olive jars are the perfect size for one recipe of dry mix.

Easy Pumpkin Bread

I’ve had two play dates lately and because of this tip, I’ve been able to have homemade pumpkin bread for my guests without making a mess of the kitchen!

I think these would make darling gifts this Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can re-use a glass jar or buy a cute one. Attach directions and you’re good to go.

Here’s the recipe for pumpkin bread.

Dairy, Egg & Cinnamon Free Pumpkin Bread
(modified very slightly from this original recipe)

Ingredients:

Dry:

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove

Wet:

  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp water

Easy Way to Make Pumpkin Bread:

  1. Line up several bowls. You need a bowl for each dry recipe you want to pre-mix. Mix all of the dry ingredients together per recipe per bowl.  Put each recipe in its own bag or glass jar.
  2. When ready to make pumpkin bread, first preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Mix all of the wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Dump in the pre-mixed dry mix from step 1. Mix well.
  4. I make mini loaves and medium sized pumpkin loaves. The mini loaves bake for 25-30 minutes. The medium loaves bake for about 30-40 minutes. According to the original recipe, a regular sized loaf pan bakes for about 50 minutes.

How to bake the “normal” way:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, add all of the dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. In another bowl, add all of the wet ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Follow step 4 in the section above.

Make sure to cool the pumpkin bread on a cookie rack.

These also freeze well. I’ve frozen them and they taste great after defrosting.

I have to say, the no cinnamon isn’t even an issue with this recipe. The bread tastes perfectly spiced thanks to the nutmeg, allspice & ground clove.

We like to spread some Earth Balance vegan butter on the pumpkin bread.

Mmm, mmm, mmm!

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.

These are the medium sized loaves.

These are the medium sized loaves.

Mini loaves.  The recipe makes 8 mini loaves.

Mini loaves. The recipe makes 8 mini loaves.

Delicious Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies: Dairy Free and Egg Free

image

These cookies are AMAZING! I used Silk Almond Vanilla Milk, sweetened. For the margarine I used Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine or Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks and Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Warning- these are highly addictive.

Click here for the link to the recipe from Silk. Thanks Silk for the yummy recipe!!!

SG is going to be so happy to wake up from her nap and find fresh baked cookies waiting for her!!!

Update:  I now add in Enjoy Life chocolate chunks along with the chocolate chips.  Mmmm!  Even better!