When It Just Doesn’t Work, Add Chocolate

Some days it just doesn’t work. Okay, some weeks it just doesn’t work. Here at Lake Ouch My Head, we’ve had a week that really hasn’t worked. The twins have brought home the first bug of the season and while it’s relatively mild in actual symptoms (aside from the headache), it has had all of us feeling very tired, dopey and more than a little cranky. Cooking adventures have been poorly planned, poorly executed, and largely underwhelming. The lesson for me as home chef this week has been one of Lazarus meals – a quick resurrection in order to avoid wasting the ingredients and in order to avoid having to eat out because things have gone so far awry….

Looks like tofu, right? Chickpea flour, salt, water… go figure.

Earlier in the week I attempted some chickpea flatbread and while making it a little voice told me that the batter was too thin. THIS is the moment when things went wrong. I should have listened to the little voice. It was, in fact, too thin and the pan I cooked it in was too small. The end result?

Looked like tofu, cooked like tofu.

A VERY strange custard-like consistency that I managed to re-fashion like tofu for a lunch for me and Mr. Little Sis the following day. The children, having heard me dub it a mistake, would have none of it.

Another flub was less dramatic in its outcome, and in fact it wasn’t a flub, it was just a “meh” kind of dish. I made mid-week pancakes (we usually only have fresh pancakes on weekends, I make plenty, we freeze the rest for M-F) because the children had a day off from school. They roundly rejected the idea of pumpkin pancakes (that I’ve been drooling over everywhere on the blogoshpere) and so I thought I would attempt yet another homemade syrup substitute (insert dead horse for children to beat here). Remembering the date cream that Big Sis made and that I enjoyed so much, I rifled through the dried fruit in the pantry and came up with figs and cherries. That sounded pretty darned good to me. So I blended them together (1/2 c figs, 1/3 c cherries, approximately 1 c water, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a squirt of vanilla). I ended up with a fruit butter consistency with a, well fig and cherry flavor. It was yummy, but it didn’t knock my socks off. When I put it on my pepita pancakes (like my pecan pancakes, but with pepitas because that’s what I had), it was good, but not necessarily post-worthy if you get my drift. No major revelation here. Annoyed by yet another waste or at least poor use of ingredients, I racked my brain for a way to use this fig cherry butter. I ate a piece of fig cherry butter on toast while I considered my options. It was very good, but not stunning. And then it struck me. Fruit butter, a dwindling supply of baked goods in the house… cherries… chocolate. Oh yes.

Chocolate Cherry Bombdies (GF, V)

  • 3/4 c cherry fig butter
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (I used flax)
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 T oil
  • 1 1/4 c buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 c oat bran
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3 c oats
  • 1/4 c chopped dried cherries
  • 1/2 c choc chips (I used semi-sweet)

Serious five year old whisking.

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix wet ingredients in large bowl.  Combine dry ingredients in another bowl.  Enlist a small person who needs something to do to whisk the dry ingredients (they really like whisks) and take really weird pictures while they do.  Add dry to wet and stir or use mixer until well combined.  Scoop into ungreased 9×13  baking pan and spread out.  Mine did not cover the entire pan.  If you like a thicker bombdie, use a square cake pan.  If your children are not watching, add nuts.  Mine were helping, so we went nutless, ahem.  Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.  Mine were in for 25 and are crisp on top and a little chewy in a good way.  My oven is admittedly a little wonky, so I suggest you keep an eye on yours starting at 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, cool in pan.  Cut into blondie sized bars and enjoy.  Resurrected baked goods.  Delish!

When You DO Need a Treat

I struggle with the treat area.  There, I said it.  My kids have been the fortunate recipients of mostly unprocessed or only lightly processed snack foods, but I have, in my forty some-odd years on the planet, consumed a fair number of packaged snack foods.  The difficulty that this poses for me as a parent is that I am vulnerable to the argument that perhaps I am being TOO restrictive, that I am depriving my kids (OH NOOOOOO, ANYTHING BUT DEPRIVING YOUR KIDS!!!!) of some sort of necessary and later to be romanticized pleasure of childhood.  So I struggle to find balance.  They don’t get A LOT of the things that their classmates and friends get, but I attempt to frame it, as I do with myself, as a turn toward the abundance and delicious satisfaction that real food, even as snack or treat, can provide.

Healthful twin lunches. Healthy twin kids.

My recent efforts, as a reflection of my desire to keep my kids on the attitude of gratitude end of the spectrum as regards their lunchtime totage, have focused on the treat portion of our little stainless steel container.  As it turns out, packing lunch has been something of a guilty pleasure for me.  The picky child in our family takes her Tinkerbell lunchbox everyday with the utmost trust that I have included SOMETHING that she will eat.  And I generally do.  And the funny thing is, she eats it.  She eats most parts of whatever I pack.  She eats things she won’t eat at home, and when she gets home, she finishes whatever’s left…. hot diggity.  So I have no guilt about providing a small not so sweet in their tins.  I have made two lovely discoveries this week that I thought I would share… one that is gluten (but not chocolate) free, and one that has gluten, but is vegan, and I must say, quite awesome.  I’m eating some right now as I type.  On to the goodness…

What do you mean what happened to the first row? What first row?

First up: Gluten Free Blondies – adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s Chocolate Chip Blondies. These babies are BEAN based; that’s right, you heard me, bean based.  So I’m thinking I need to whip up a lunchbox yummy and looking at my fridge to see what I should use up and rolling my eyes at the container of white beans from the previous night’s dinner… turns out they were just what I needed.  I love it when that happens.

See those little beanies in there?

The changes I made to Katie’s recipe here are pretty minimal.  I cut the sugar to 1/2 c from 3/4 c.  For the grain I used a mixture of flax and rolled oats. I added 1T of applesauce because my batter seemed too dry (I used homecooked rather than canned beans).  I went a little light on the chips to no ill effect and I added 1/4 c of pecans. The procedure is super easy. Preheat oven to 350. Mix ingredients with the exception of chips and nuts (if you use them, which you should) in a food processor until the batter is smooth. Add chips and nuts and stir to incorporate. Place in 8×8 greased or lined baking pan. Bake for around 30 minutes. They will be softer than your average blondie – sort of fudge-y and awesome. If you’re smart enough to eat one warm, you’ll get the reward of the melty chip drip that is part of the blondie experience. Delish.

Turns out beans weren’t the only thing I needed to use up. With the onset of the school year (and cooler temps), our green smoothie intake has diminished and my banana purchases got ahead of me. Super over-ripe bananas can only mean one thing in my house… banana bread. Oh yes. This recipe is adapted from one I got from a dear friend who first made it for us during a delicious fall weekend on a farm in the Catskills. She had adapted the recipe from one she’d had given to her by someone else… Honestly neither one of us has any idea at this point where it originally came from. On the off chance that it was yours and you still recognize it, let me know and I’ll credit you.

I was encouraged to limit my pecans so we could try it “both ways.”

Intensely Good Banana Bread

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup regular oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup dark molasses
  • 2 large eggs (I used flax)
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 bananas)
  • 1/4 c peanut (or other nut) butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pecans for the top

Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine flours, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Place sugar, applesauce, oil, and molasses in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add eggs, banana, nut butter, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Spoon batter into a greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Decorate with pecans. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Eat some while it is warm and the outer crust is at its peak. Cool completely on wire rack before storing.  Amazing.

Need more ideas for healthier sweets?  Try these gluten free chocolate chip cookies, these gluten free coconut almond milk mash cookies, honey milk balls, apple oat muffins.

This week we’ve joined Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Blog Carnival. Check out the other real food entries here.