Banana Chocolate Breakfast Cookies

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These popped up on my Facebook feed a few weeks ago and they looked so easy I figured there was no harm in trying them. And they’re fantastic! Switch out the oats for gluten-free oats and you can please those with dicky digestive systems. Replace the chocolate chips with dried fruit or nothing and it’s a great treat for wee folks who are learning how to eat solid foods with their hands. Shove some peanut butter in there and you have a handy dog treat. It’s really a versatile little cookie full of natural sweetness and texture.

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Plus it’s basically only got three ingredients, so it was an instant hit with Cait of chicken-salsa-cheese fame. I used slightly more than three ingredients because I was out of chocolate chips so I made do …

Banana Oat Cookies 1

I doubled this recipe because in a house with a large male and a very pregnant female these bite-sized morsels were simply not big enough. Start by preheating your oven to 350°F and lining a large baking sheet with parchment or spraying it with cooking spray.

Grab yourself at least 2 large ripe bananas (this is also a good recipe for when the bananas are just starting to go, and you don’t want to chuck them in the freezer for YET ANOTHER banana bread batch).

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Mash the crap out of those suckers. Not just a little bit of mashing, like you’d have for banana bread, where you want the chunks.

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I’m talking full-on banana soup. Yes. There is no picture. It was too gross.

Add in 1/4 cup chocolate chips (or whatever else you have that you want to use: this is a few spoonfuls each of dark chocolate bar, broken up, Skor bits, and peanut butter chips).

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Now tip in 1 cup oats (a little bit of shredded coconut and some ground flax would be nice here too, I think).

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Stir-stir-stir! Plop flattened gobs of those things on your baking sheet and shove it in the oven for about 15 minutes.

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These bigger ones took about 18), then let sit on the cookie sheet for about five minutes before eating.

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Definitely eat them warm – and all at once!

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Raspberry Mousse Pie

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This is another Martha Stewart recipe that I adapted to be gluten-free and made up for the second of our Mother’s Day celebrations (same day, different mom). This recipe is also great because it actually involves zero baking whatsoever, so if it’s hot where you are and you can’t handle the thought of turning on the oven – don’t worry about it.

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Start by lightly spraying a 9″ square metal baking dish with cooking spray. Or a 7″ x 10″ glass baking dish, which is what I did. Line it with parchment so that there’s some overhang, because you’re gonna need handles.

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Grab 7 or 8 graham crackers. These gluten-free ones are really tiny and kind of thick. We used the whole package. The original recipe involves laying them out in the pan whole but that always ends poorly for me so I plopped them in the food processor, together with about 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut and about 3 tablespoons butter and gave them a good whaz. Then I took that clumpy mixture and pressed it hard into the bottom of the pan. That way I could cut the pieces anyway I wanted without worrying about the shape of my graham crackers.

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Tip 3 tablespoons lemon juice into a wee bowl and sprinkle 1 envelope powdered gelatin (∼ 2 1/4 teaspoons) over top. Leave that for 5 minutes. Wash and drain about 2 cups fresh raspberries and plop them in your food processor. Purée the crap out of them.

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Pour the raspberry goo into a measuring cup via a fine mesh sieve. Scrape and scrape and shove the goo around until all the juice is through and what you have left is just seeds. Compost the seeds – you should have about 1 cup of raspberry juicy stuff.

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In a small saucepan, combine the raspberry stuff with 1/2 cup sugar and stir over medium until bubbles start to form at the edges.

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Tip in the gelatin mixture and stir constantly until the stuff is completely dissolved, about 1 minute.

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Pour that into a bowl and let it cool to room temperature.

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While you’re waiting, whip up 2 cups heavy cream with 2 tablespoons sugar until stiff and lovely.

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Fold your cooled raspberry goo gently into the cream and keep folding until the colour is uniform and it looks amazeballs.

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Pour the mousse goo over the graham crumbs and smooth if necessary with an offset spatula.

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Wash and drain another 2 cups fresh raspberries and use them to decorate the top.

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Refrigerate the mousse pie for about 2 hours or up to overnight. When you’re ready to serve, use the parchment handles to gently remove it from the pan before cutting it into squares. Enjoy!

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Granny’s Porch, and other Memories

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This little furniture trio was a permanent feature of my grandmother’s screened-in veranda at her cottage. We would bring them out in the spring and haul them into storage in the winter. For wicker furniture, they’re surprisingly comfortable, and I have many memories of enjoying Slimo while listening to cicadas in the shade.

Granny's Porch Furniture 1

They’ve been bright yellow for as long as I can remember, but my mother says they’ve been other colours in the past, like a paler yellow and a deep green. In any case, it’s been a while since their last paint job and they’re in serious need of a touch-up. I asked the Pie what colour he wanted to paint them, and – no surprise – he picked orange. Orange it was to be.

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This little metal patio bistro set I bought with Cait when she first moved into her solo apartment almost a decade ago. It was cute and green and suited her little tiny balcony perfectly. She no longer lives there, of course, and the furniture no longer suits her new place, so, being Cait, she foisted it off on me. After many years in the sun the green is more of a pastel than it used to be, and needed a bit of a boost.

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Gren supervises from an almost-safe distance.

Now time for spray paint! Full disclosure: I have a box of half-finished cans of spray paint in the garage. The Pie thinks it’s more than that. I have another box full of empty spray paint cans in the garage as well. They’re waiting for a day when I’m not pregnant and can sit down and empty all the air out of them before putting them in the recycling. So he’s not keen on me buying yet MORE spray paint. In this particular case, however, I perfectly estimated the amount that I would need. Because the metal set just needed a boost from its original colour, no major repairs or changes, I needed two cans to coat all three pieces (four if you count the table top and legs separately). For the wicker, I estimated that I needed two thick coats on each of the three pieces, and that it would take me two cans each. So I bought eight cans of spray paint, in total, to the Pie’s horror. After it was all over, I have a few spritzes of the green left and I’m totally out of the orange. It’s like I knew what I was doing or something.

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Not to worry – I wore that mask, gloves, and eye protection the whole time I was painting.

Look at the cheery difference already with the first coat!

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The orange stuff took significantly longer to do and was much more finicky, what with getting around legs and whatnot. I was very tired of bending over and squatting down by the time I was done.

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In the late afternoon sun though the stuff positively glows!

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Now all I need is a non-rotting deck to fully enjoy it (that’s next summer’s project).

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Cloud Cake

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I made this Martha Stewart recipe for one of our two Mother’s Day celebrations earlier this month, and it was easy to prepare all the pieces the day before and then assemble it with a flourish on the day of. The original recipe is not gluten-free but we had Fussellette staying with us and made one simple adjustment to make it that way – you can do it whichever way you would like.

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Start with the meringue: preheat your oven to 275°F and grab three 8″ round cake pans. I happened to have 2 8″ round cake pans and one 9″, so that’s what I used.

Cloud Cake 1
Butter the pans and then line the bottom and sides with parchment. This is easier said than done as the pans are round and parchment is straight. Get creative with the folding. It’ll just add to the allure of the finished product, I promise. Now butter the parchment as well to make sure it sticks.

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Crack open 6 large eggs and separate the whites from the yolks. Put the yolks in the fridge for now and leave the whites to come to room temperature.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt until smooth and powdery and when you open the lid it kind of wafts out like smoke. Don’t inhale that. You will cough.

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Now grab your 6 egg whites and beat them with a pinch of cream of tartar until soft peaks form.

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Slowly, a little bit at a time, tip in the sugar mixture and keep beating until you get lovely stiff peaks.

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Smooth the meringue amid your three pans and bake for 1 hour.

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Then turn off the oven and wedge the oven door open with a wooden spoon for another hour. Then move the pans to a wire rack to cool completely. If you’re going to assemble the cake the next day, slip each layer of cooled meringue into a separate sealed bag and suck the air out of it.

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Next, let’s work on the custard cream. In a bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and a pinch of coarse salt. We made a gluten-free version of the flour by combining coconut flour, xanthan gum, and corn starch.

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In a small saucepan, combine your leftover 6 egg yolks (original recipe calls for 3 but why waste them?) with 1 1/2 cups buttermilk and a split vanilla bean pod with the seeds scraped out. Stir that over medium heat and slowly add in the flour mixture.

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With ours, because of the nontraditional ingredients, I found the buttermilk reacted with either the cornstarch or the xanthan gum and I pretty much had instant custard. So I stirred it until I was sure the yolks had a chance to cook and then took it off the heat. If you’re using regular flour you may have to work harder at it, so stir until it just comes to a boil and then strain through a fine meshed sieve.

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Pour the custard cream into a bowl, lay a piece of plastic wrap over the surface so it’s completely sealed, and chuck it in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight.

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Now there’s caramel to make too. In the original, Martha used the microwave but we moved ours into the basement and that was too far away. I did this in a small saucepan on the stove. First, spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment.

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Then over medium heat, stir together 1/3 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons corn syrup.

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Cook, stirring often, until the mixture is bubbling and turns a light brown.

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Remove that from the heat and drizzle it over the baking sheet.

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Leave that to cool then chop it up with a knife into little tiny jagged pieces. If you’re assembling the next day, shove the pieces into a resealable bag and squeeze the air out.

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To assemble, start by whipping up some heavy cream to your taste and amount (this is going on the top as garnish so use as much as you like – I think we whipped up about a cup of it). Cream whips better if your bowl and mixers are cold, so chuck them in the freezer for a while if you can.

Plop one of the meringues on a nice plate and smother it with about half the custard cream.

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Sprinkle that with about 1/3 of your caramel pieces.

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Let some fall off artistically to the side. It’s decorative.

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Plop another meringue on and smear with the rest of the custard cream and another 1/3 of the caramel bits. Add the final layer and top that with your whipped cream and the last of the caramel. Serve immediately!

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Cool as a Cucumber Summer Punch

Happy spring!

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Why don’t you enjoy a cool refreshing beverage on me after finishing your weekend projects? Keep this one in mind for this weekend’s to-do list.

We served this at our housewarming party back in April and it was incredibly popular. I’ve seen it in a few places around the internet so I can’t tell you exactly where I found the recipe, but it’s so easy you should give it a shot.  You’ll need a jar or bowl that can hold about 2.5L of liquid.

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Into that jar, tip 1 can frozen concentrated yellow lemonade. Then tip in 1 can frozen concentrated white grape juice.

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Mush those up and then add the requisite 4 cans of water from the lemonade can and the 3 cans of water from the grape juice can. Stir, stir, stir. Isn’t this easy?

Then cut up a whole cucumber into attractive slices. And slice up about 2 lemons as well.

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Dump those slices in the drink. Add some ice cubes if you like.

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Then drink up! I told you it was simple. And if you let it sit overnight the flavour of the cucumber really starts to come through – but it’s good instantly as well.

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Slow Cooker Dip Trio – Dessert!

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Basically, it’s cream cheese glazing for cinnamon buns, in a slow cooker. This is definitely a fun dip to make for parties, and there’s plenty to go around. We also served cut up fruit and there was a ton of sauce still left at the end. If you have a large slow cooker, follow the instructions in the original recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron for making the fondue in a separate container within the slow cooker. If you have a wee one, you can just plop all the ingredients straight in (as we did) and go from there.

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Start by grabbing a bowl and using it and an electric mixer to beat together 1 8oz package plain cream cheese (room temperature) and 1/2 cup butter (also room temperature) until mixed and fluffy.

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Tip in 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract and beat that up too.

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Then slowly add in 2 cups icing sugar and beat it (carefully) until fully combined.

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Dump that whole thing in your slow cooker and leave it on low, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

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When you’re ready to serve it, you probably want some cinnamon buns to go with it. If you don’t have any pastries handy, but want some, grab some of those rolls of pre-fab biscuits.  The Pie did not know that the rolls kind of exploded when you opened them, and even though I warned him in advance he was still startled by it, so exercise caution. Preheat your oven to 400°F and spray a muffin tin or two with cooking spray.

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Grab one of the biscuits from the tube and flatten it into an oval.

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Dip it first in melted butter, then in a mixture of cinnamon and granulated sugar.

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Plop.

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Roll the oval into a tube.

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Then roll the tube into a spiral. Give it a squeeze in the hopes that it will stay together.

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Plop the spiral into your muffin tin. For the record, the Pie made all the ugly ones.

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Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the rolls are golden and no longer gooey.

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Serve them hot with your fondue and a couple forks.

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And some napkins!

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Another Slow Cooker Dip Trio – in two parts

This past weekend, we had our housewarming party – finally. Mostly because we finally had enough furniture for people to sit on. And also because it’s hard to warm a house in the middle of the winter. This way, we could use the barbecue.

Dip Trio 1

The Pie wanted to make use of our three-pot mini slow cookers and prepare some dips for our guests, so here are two of the ones we came up with. The final one involved a bit of extra prep so it’s a post on its own. The two posted today were made significantly smaller so they’d fit in our tiny pots.

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This first one, a garlic white bean dip, doesn’t really require a slow cooker, unless you want it to be served warm (which we did). I also took out some of the prep steps to make the whole thing a one-shot process. Start by glugging 1/4 cup olive oil into a small saucepan, and add in the equivalent of 6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced. Cook that on low for about 5 minutes, until garlic smells start to fill your whole kitchen.

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Grate up about 3/4 cup parmesan cheese and the zest from 1 lemon.

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Then, grab your food processor and chuck in 2 cans of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed. I used one can white beans and one can of white navy beans. Tip in as well 1/3 cup water, 1 cup ricotta cheese, your garlic and oil stuff, the parmesan and lemon zest, 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, and a generous helping of salt and ground black pepper.

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Give that a good whaz until it’s all smooth. Add a bit more olive oil if you think it looks dry (and if you’re going to keep it in the slow cooker all day, add a bit more as it has a tendency to dry out).

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Plop that in the slow cooker and leave it on low for about 2 hours to warm through. Enjoy!

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This next one is pretty good, but we actually found it a little bland and might spice it up some more next time. It’s a corn and cheese dip with bacon and pale ale and I think it has plenty of potential for enhancement. Start by tipping 3 1/2 cups frozen corn into your slow cooker. Top that with 2 minced cloves of garlic and 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (we used an extra-old cheddar).

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Dice up a red bell pepper and a de-seeded jalapeno.

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Chuck those in the pot with 3/4 cup sour cream, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste.

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Grab a pale ale as well and tip in about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of it. I think next time I’d use something with a bit more flavour, as neither the Pie nor myself are IPA fans (not that I’m drinking these days anyway).

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Give that a good stirring to mix things up. Then grab a package of plain cream cheese and break it up into chunks, which you can then spread over the top of the thing. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.

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While that’s on the go, cook up about 4 slices of bacon until it’s crispy enough to crumble and let it cool (so you can crumble it). Harvest some fresh chives from your garden (it’s the only thing growing right now). Cut those up in a wee bowl and set the bacon and chives aside until the dip is ready.

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When the dip is hot, stir well to incorporate the cream cheese and then garnish with the chives and bacon. Eat!

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adventures in grown-up living

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