Instagram Shenanigans

Let’s all just consider for one moment how great the word “shenanigans” is.

Ok. Thanks for indulging me on that one 😉

I’ve been busy with school and musical rehearsals recently, so I haven’t been cooking from recipes too much. However, I’m still doing my best to be creative and fun with what I eat, and, when I can get a good picture, I love to post photos of that on Instagram. I thought I’d post a few of these photos on here as well though, because this blog is not only about recipes that I make; it’s also about just having fun with interesting, creative, pretty, or plain awesome food!

  1. Berry and Chocolate Oatmeal

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I just made some plain oatmeal with water and a little salt, then topped it with blueberries, blackberries, pomegranate arils, and extra-dark chocolate. This was supremely delicious, and so fresh and wholesome.

2. Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Banana Oatmeal

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Again, this was plain oatmeal, topped with sliced banana, peanut butter, and raspberry jam. I love this combo, especially with really good jam (we got some Spoon Fruit jam from a small company in Michigan. I love Michigan berries!).

3.  Curried Rice, adapted from The Full Helping

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Here, I adapted a recipe from The Full Helping titled Creamy Curried Quinoa. I made a ton of changes, like switching out quinoa for rice, but drew heavily from the recipe for guidance. This was actually amazingly delicious, and so, so healthy. It’s seasoned in a very savvy, delicate way that enhances all the natural flavor of vegetables and rice. Also, it made a huge amount of food (like, 5x more than pictured!).

4. Mixed Berry Oatmeal

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Um, more oatmeal. I guess you can see what I’m into making right now! But this was really fun to make, and kind of adventurous by my standards. I cooked rolled oats with mixed frozen berries and water, and topped them with ground flax and chocolate PB2. It was yummy, but let’s be honest I was mostly in it for the pretty color 😉

5. Oh She Glows Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Yay, cookies! These are Angela Liddon’s Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies, made this very day as a special weekend treat. I’ve featured these cookies on the blog before, and they are a recipe I come back to again and again.

I hope you enjoyed seeing what I’ve been up to on Instagram! And if you have an Instagram, please leave your username in the comments section. Let’s be friends! ☺️

My Favorite Breakfast

I don’t know about you all, but, despite my desire for variety in my lunches and dinners, I tend to eat the same breakfast every day. I have high standards for breakfast: it must be filling; nutritious; fast; and sweet, without being loaded with refined sugar. Therefore, ever since I found my almost-perfect breakfast for this school year, it’s been almost a daily occurrence. This is it:

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This is a recipe/recipe idea from Chocolate Covered Katie, and it is probably the recipe of hers that I’ve made most often! She has many variations. These are a few that I’ve personally tried:

  1. Banana Bread in a Bowl
  2. Gingerbread Breakfast Cereal
  3. Chocolate Banana Bread in a Bowl

However, out of all of those options, my favorite is the Chocolate Banana Bread in a Bowl. This is because the strong chocolate flavor masks many add-ins, especially those that are not quite so tasty! Because of that, I always add a handful of spinach, and often, a bit of turmeric. This is my basic recipe, adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s original version.

Ingredients:

1 heaping cup (maybe 1.25 cups) of your favorite hearty flake cereal. My favorite is Nature’s Path Mesa Sunrise.

1 cup of plant milk

1 banana

2 small handfuls spinach

2-3 tablespoons cocoa or cacao powder

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)

a dash of salt

a dash of vanilla

4-5 drops of Now’s Better Stevia Liquid Sweetener, in Original

Process:

Throw everything into a food processor or blender and blend on high until smooth. Once smooth, pour into a bowl and allow to sit for 1-2 minutes. I find that it has thickened by the time I put away my ingredients and top with ground flax. Serves one.

This is such an easy and fast breakfast. During the school week, I usually just top with a tablespoon of ground flax, and then have a snack of something else during school so I’m not starving when it’s finally lunch time. But, during the weekends, I often top my bowl with something more elaborate, such as designs of dried fruit and nuts. They’re nothing special compared to many others’ creations, like Heike at Haselnussblond (she’s seriously awesome!), but here are a few of my past bowls!

 

From left, the above bowls are: banana bread in a bowl, topped with walnuts, sliced dried figs, chia seeds, and a geranium bud (which I did not eat!); chocolate banana bread in a bowl, topped with vegan soy yogurt, raspberries, walnuts, and sliced fig; and sweet potato pie in a bowl (a different recipe of mine), topped with a chocolate swirl, walnuts, and raisins.

I’ve got to go and work on some homework now, but I hope you guys have a wonderful rest of the day. What’s your favorite breakfast?

Chocolate Covered Katie Gingerbread Banana Bread

Ok, so the title is a mouthful… but hey, I’m just trying to give you all the information 😆

I thought I’d show this Gingerbread Banana Bread from CCK off a little, because it turned out to be pretty delicious! I’m not really surprised though, because I’ve made Katie’s regular fat-free banana bread before as well, and that is definitely the best basic banana bread (alliteration? Yes indeed, I’m a scholar 😂) I’ve ever had.

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I felt good about making this recipe just 2 days after Christmas, because in fact it is pretty healthy. It contains Bob’s Gluten Free 1-to-1 baking flour instead of wheat flour (not that I’m against wheat, but all we had was AP white flour), a conservative amount of maple syrup, molasses, lots of ginger, coconut oil, and tons of banana. I used very ripe bananas, which contributed to the sweetness to the point that I didn’t need to add the optional sugar.

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I’m pretty happy with the texture of the bread. It’s a little tiny bit on the gummy side – nothing too bad at all though, and I’d personally prefer that over crumbly. Overall, it’s soft and cake-y, yet satisfying. I feel like, when I use Bob’s 1-to-1 mix, the texture always comes out as very melt-in-your-mouth, rather than chewy. It’s never bad, but sometimes I prefer the heartiness of wheat flour. Do you have any preferred GF baking mixes? I haven’t experimented too much, though I have fallen in love with almond flour!

Also, the flavor here is great. Total gingerbread, just with the addition of bananas! It’s mildly sweet, and I think that’s just right. No need for the optional sugar listed in the recipe if your bananas are ripe enough.

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By the way, I’m still on Christmas break for another week! That means we get to take a little family trip to Dallas, TX for a few days. I’ve never even been into Texas before, but now that we live in Oklahoma (which I hear is basically north Texas!) it’s time to explore the state. I’m really excited about this trip. Some of my favorite bloggers/social media presences (“presences”? Yes, we are going to that level of formality today) are from Texas or live there currently. For example, Katie from CCK and the McKnights from Cute Girls Hairstyles. I’m sure we’ll go to some vegan restaurants while we are there, so I’ll definitely post about it.

I hope you all have a great week! I’d have said “y’all”, but to be honest I’m not quite there yet. #michigander

 

Minimalist Baker PB & J Muffins

I really like Minimalist Baker – it’s such a fun space, with those beautiful photographs and creative recipes! I’m always interested to try Dana’s creations, and that’s how I found this recipe for Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins.

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These muffins are vegan and gluten free, and can be refined sugar free as well. They are very soft, rich, and moist, and in my opinion, they are almost more like cupcakes than muffins!

This is a one-bowl recipe, which is always appreciated, and doesn’t generate too many dishes. It also uses pretty standard ingredients, like almond flour, gluten free flour blend (I used Bob’s 1:1 Baking Flour, which is recommended in the recipe), rolled oats, and maple syrup.

I think that the flavor of the muffins, while good, would benefit from a bit more salt to bring out the peanut butter in the batter. Also, some chopped peanuts would be great to make the actual muffin itself a little more interesting. All the same, though, the muffins taste pretty darn good.

I’d recommend that you add a little extra flour if your batter seems too wet. I didn’t, even though my batter was wetter than the description given in the recipe, and I think my muffins turned out just a little too soft because of it. Just a word of caution!

I made a mistake with this recipe: I didn’t swirl the peanut butter and jelly into the tops of the unbaked muffins before baking. I think that would have helped keep the jelly on top/inside the muffins, instead of sliding off while baking, and would have prevented the middle of the muffins from sinking (which they did, but not too badly. Again, more flour likely would have solved that problem!).

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Overall, I’d definitely recommend this recipe for some fun and dessert-y (is that a word?) muffins. Just make sure to swirl your peanut butter and jelly, and pay attention to the thickness of your batter! 😁

Minimalist Baker Blackberry Corn Muffins

I’m so glad that Thanksgiving Break is here for us school-age kids. I always struggle with being unable to bake and blog as much as I would like to during the week, and often, especially these past few weeks, my weekends are packed. For example: last Saturday, I had a performing arts rehearsal at 9:00 AM, then driver’s ed at 10:30, and and a riding lesson (at a barn that is an hour away!) at 2:00. It was a really fun day in a lot of ways, but by the end, there was no way I was going to do any baking! But now that it’s break, I can do a bunch of recipe reviewing and cooking. And watching The Great British Baking Show because that show is awesome. I digress. Let’s talk about muffins!

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The recipe I used here is for Minimalist Baker Blackberry Corn Muffins, which is vegan but not gluten free. They were really quite surprisingly good! They are crumbly but not overly delicate, sweet but not saccharine, and have the most lovely golden tops.

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The recipe uses all-purpose wheat flour and cornmeal for the base, with plenty of applesauce, a conservative amount of vegan butter, and two flax eggs for moisture. They are sweetened with a bit of maple syrup and 1/2 a cup of cane sugar, so they are probably not the corn muffins you want to serve with chili. I think they work best as a snack or breakfast item.

I followed the recipe pretty true to form, except for two things:

  • I used polenta (coarse cornmeal) instead of the fine cornmeal recommended by the recipe
  • I used reconstituted raisins instead of blackberries inside the muffins. I also think I used less than were called for; maybe 3/4 of a cup instead of 1 full cup.

I think these substitutions still maintained the integrity of the recipe very well, so I have no qualms about the accuracy of my review. With that said though, I bet that blackberries would be even better than raisins!

This is not the most intuitive recipe I’ve ever made, but it only uses 1 bowl and no mixers, so I’m good with that. Instead of having a bowl for dry ingredients and a bowl for wet ingredients, you mix together the wet ingredients and sugar in a couple of stages, and then add the dry ingredients. Finally, you fold in the berries/raisins, and you’re ready to put them in the oven.

Here’s the interesting thing, though: the recipe tells you to combine the apple cider vinegar, the baking soda, and the almond milk very early on in the process. You add them all to a measuring cup, stir them together, and let them fizz. I was super skeptical about this; I thought that since the baking soda and ACV were already combined, there would be no leavening-ability left, and the muffins wouldn’t rise. However, I’m very pleased to say that I was completely wrong! The muffins rose perfectly – not just well, but even better than many other muffin recipes I’ve made. I thought that that was super interesting and I’ll be investigating why exactly that method worked so well! #bakingnerd

The yield is ten nice, plump muffins. They have beautiful domes and are good and hearty. I love them! 10/10 for this recipe by Minimalist Baker!

 

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Question of the Day:

What is your favorite way to exercise? Mine is probably doing yoga, but I love to ride horses, and let me tell you – that is a workout!