Monday, September 17, 2012

White Chocolate Banana Pancakes (Vegan, Dairy-free)

Have you ever just had one of those EXTREME HANKERINGS for pancakes at an extremely inappropriate time?  Or IS there any inappropriate time for pancakes?  Is it just my childhood guilt-and-shame subconscious programming kicking in, for wanting to have sweets in the afternoon?  I didn't even have a proper breakfast today!  Oh, and here's another question.  Have you ever had an inappropriately rotten banana in your kitchen, but you didn't have the heart to throw the little guy away?

(Poor guy...not his best day.)  This was my dilemma today.  Not enough banana to make muffins or bread.  Didn't feel like scaling down an already-existing recipe for two dozen treats.  Soooooo, I pranced my way down e-highway and stopped by Chocolate-Covered Katie's insanely delicious dessert blog.  If Katie's not using chocolate, she's using bananas to create some of the most creative vegan desserts, MEANT to be eaten at totally inappropriate times.  And I knew she would have some kind of single-lady something-or-other into which I could turn this red-headed-step-child-of-a-banana.

I suppose that by now you could probably figure out, all on your own, that I took that banana and made a short stack of pancakes...oh, and probably if you read the title, too.  Yep.  Katie had a perfect recipe already laid out for me...JUST for me.  But I wanted to make it my own and simply not copy someone else's work.  I know, I know.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  And certainly nothing about this recipe was broken.  But I needed something else.  Something that says, 'There's a party in these pancakes...bring your own syrup!'   So, by doubling her recipe (hey, I was hungry!) and adding some white chocolate chips and a pinch of this and that, I got exactly what I had hoped for.  Something to hit the sweet spot, calm the cravings, and help me drown out the voice of my 'inner fatty'.  And nothing against fatties.  I love all foodies...skinnies...fatties...makes no difference to me.  It's just that I have to show some restraint once in a while, or my thyroid would eat me alive.  :-)

Here you go, all you precious afternoon-or-midnight pancake eaters!

White Chocolate Banana Pancakes (makes 2-3 pancakes):

  • 2/3 C. flour (I used all-purpose)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 medium very ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 C. + 2 Tbsp. almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. white chocolate chips (make sure they are vegan if you are strict)
  • light-tasting olive oil or coconut oil for cooking 
1.  Heat your griddle or frying pan to just below a medium heat, somewhere between medium-low and medium.  Add just enough olive or coconut oil to cook the pancakes, ensuring they will get a nice golden 'crust'.
2.  Combine mashed banana with almond milk and vanilla extract.
3.  In separate mixing bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients, leaving out the white chocolate chips.
4.  Stir the banana mixture into the dry, being careful not to over-mix.

5.  Ladle the mix onto your heated pan; sprinkle a few of the white chocolate chips on top of each pancake.

6.  Once the pancake batter starts to bubble up, it's time to flip!

7.  Finish cooking on other side, just until pancake is cooked all the way through.

8.  Top pancakes with vegan buttery spread, maple syrup, a few extra white chocolate chips, or whatever for which your heart yearns.

 Enjoy.  xx

 Reader Question:  What's the most bizarre, or unique, food craving you've ever had and actually gave into?

P.S.  Sorry for all of the spacing issues.  Can't seem to edit properly today.  Oh, well. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dessert for Breakfast--Chocolate Chip Cookie Oatmeal (Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

What's this?  Dessert for breakfast??  Does the sound of that cause you to stir up some deeply-rooted childhood fear of punishment if you were caught, dead or alive, eating candy at the break of dawn?  Well have no fear.  You are safe in MY house (soon to be downtown loft...whoohoo!).  You can eat ALL the sweets you want in the A.M., and I won't even tell your mother.  :-) 

Truth is, I've always been a sucker for sweets.  Especially chocolate, which has always been my vice.  While I've gone through wandering and various stages of enjoying sweet and sour candy, gummies, cookies, cakes, cinnamon rolls, and even those little candy-cane-flavored-nougat candies from Christmas time, I always come back to chocolate.  Lately, the cravings come and go.  These days I'm actually finding myself drawn towards more savory meals.  Yes, an actual MEAL rather than a slice of cake for lunch.  I know, I know.  Some of us have no shame.  But one thing that will NEVER, EVER, EVER, NEVA change is what the taste buds scream for in the morning.  And the taste buds are in charge.  For whatever medical or subconscious reason, I've always loved sticking something sweet and comforting in my mouth, first thing in the morning.  Whether it's a creamy latte or modest serving of dense and oh-so-flavorful cinnamon swirl cake, my mouth could do cartwheels for that initial burst of pure happiness, the first bite that will be remembered for the rest of the day.  Lucky for me, there ARE healthier alternatives. 

 I know there are a gazillion recipes for oatmeal on the internet, on people's blogs, on Facebook, wherever.  And probably even a HIGHER percentage of them are for chocolate chip cookie oats.  See?  Chocolate RULES.  But I did steer my oats in a slightly different direction than most.  While many cooking instructions for chocolate chip cookies oatmeal incorporate a teaspoon or two of melted butter (or vegan buttery spread), I added a thick splash of fully-fattened coconut milk toward the end for a nice and velvety mouth-feel without the greasy taste of butter or oil.  I additionally tossed in a handful of raw cashews.  I know that walnuts are more 'standard' in a chocolate chip cookies, but there is an irreplaceable richness that cashews leave behind in one's mouth with which a walnut just cannot compete.

Since I like my oatmeal sweet and don't want to load up on lots of sugar first thing in the morning, I love to use stevia in place of some of the sweetener.  It's pretty typical of me to use a packet of Truvia as well as an additional tablespoon of something like honey or raw can sugar...even xylitol at times, depending on the recipe.  This time I used stevia and raw cane sugar, also called turbinado sugar.  Turbinado works so well here, due it's rich molasses-like taste and how awesomely it mimics brown sugar.  Maple syrup would be another excellent option.  Maple chocolate chip cookies with cashews??  Yes, please!  Oh, and this technically makes your oats refined-sugar free as well if you aren't using regular white or brown sugar.  Bonus points.

It's kind of silly to call oatmeal a 'recipe', but here ya go.  Another recipe for chocolate chip cookie oatmeal to add to your ever-growing collection.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Oatmeal

  • 1 and 1/2 C. Unsweetened Almond Milk (or milk of choice)
  • 3/4 C. Rolled Oats (certified gluten-free oats if you are strict on the g-free stuff)
  • 1 Packet of Stevia* (I used Truvia--may also substitute a Tbsp. of sugar/sweetener of choice)
  • 1 Tbsp. Raw Cane Sugar (or sugar/sweetener of choice)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Coconut Milk (full-fat, from the can)
  • 1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Dark Chocolate Chips (make sure they are vegan if you are strict)
  • Small Handful of Cashews (preferably raw, they have the richest flavor)

1.  Combine the oats, almond milk, stevia, and salt in a bowl.

2.  Stir well, and allow oats to 'rest' for ten minutes.  (Helps to make the oats softer and more pillow-y.)
3.  Heat in the microwave for 4 1/2 minutes.
4.  Stir in the remaining sugar, coconut milk (use less or more, depending on how thick and rich you like your oats), and the vanilla extract.
5.  Heat an addtional 30 seconds.
6.  Allow the bowl to remain in the microwave for another 5 minutes, until the liquid has all been absorbed into the oats.
7.  Finally, just add in your chocolate chips and walnuts...and stir everything around if you want the chocolate to MELT into the oats.  Otherwise, just grab yourself huge spoonfuls and shovel into mouth quickly.


Need another idea for 'dessert for breakfast' oatmeal?  Check out 'Mounds Bar' Voluminous Oatmeal...and it also has chocolate!

*Truvia is the brand of stevia-based sweetener that I often use in my teas, coffee, oatmeal, and even when replacing part of the sugar in baked goods.  There is now also a baking blend that can be purchased, when making larger desserts such as whole cakes and batches of cookies.  If you live in a place where Truvia, or even stevia, is not readily available to you, just use a Tbsp. of any other sweetener in it's place.  (Other options are raw cane sugar/turbinado sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut palm sugar, and honey, if you're not a strict vegan.)  One stevia packet typically has the equivalent sweetness level of about 2-3 tsp. of regular sugar.

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