BANANA POPPY SEED YOGURT LOAF

I will just say, that I love this banana bread, with a hint of sweetness and a crunch of poppy seeds on the tongue.

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BANANA POPPY SEED YOGURT LOAF
Yields 1 loaf
3 very ripe bananas, mashed (see note)
2 eggs
1/2 c. yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
Scant 1/2 c. brown sugar (adjust if you prefer a more or less dessert-like bread)
1/4 c. poppy seeds (or more as you like)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.
Combine the mashed bananas, eggs, yogurt and vanilla in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk to combine.
Stir the dry ingredients into the wet and stir in the poppy seeds.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool before slicing.
*Note: I like to keep frozen sliced bananas on hand for smoothies and oatmeal. Just take some out, let them thaw, and mash them for the bread.

BASIC BROWNIES

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Are there many things better than a perfectly fudgy brownie, when you are craving chocolate? There is a place for a cake-like brownie, or a flavored one (mint and chocolate, I can’t forsake you…), or the kind that you is so dense with chocolate that you need to take a nap after (the Barefoot Contessa’s outrageous brownies top this category). But it is key to have a go-to basic recipe: the perfect balance between cake and fudge in texture, with a top that shatters slightly under the teeth and freezes beautifully.

BASIC CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
Adapted from Joy of Baking
5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 stick butter, diced
2 T. cocoa powder
1 c. sugar (reduce if using semisweet chocolate)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 eggs, room temp.
3/4 c. flour
pinch salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-in square pan and line with parchment paper. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the butter. Take off the heat and whisk in the sugar and cocoa. Whisk in vanilla and eggs, and then flour and salt. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Take the brownies out when a tester comes out with a little batter on it (you want to almost slightly underbake them–they will stay more moist this way and will freeze better).

ROASTED STRAWBERRY OAT BARS

These may look deceptively simple, and possibly even basic, but they got rave reviews from all tasters this weekend. I’ve made a version of these bars before from Karen DeMasco’s book, The Craft of Baking, but they were much more buttery and shortbread-like. This version is lighter. The recipe called for jam, but I was all out and had a quart of fresh strawberries, so I roasted them with raw sugar and a pinch of salt. The kitchen smelled amazing and the fruit gets jammy and dark-edged. Mixed with more raw sugar, they make a much better substitute for jam. They have a deep roasted flavor and I think using fresh fruit is the key to making these bars great. The dough seemed too crumbly to hold together at first, but press it carefully into the pan, and once they cool, I recommend refrigerating them overnight. Once they have chilled, they hold together perfectly.

ROASTED STRAWBERRY OAT BARS
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen and Take a Megabite
Jam Layer
1 quart fresh strawberries
pinch of salt
2 heaping tablespoons raw sugar
Oat Layer
1 cup flour
1 cup oats
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Slice and quarter your strawberries. Toss them with the salt and raw sugar and spread them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, until jammy and starting to brown on the edges.
Increase oven to 375 degrees. Butter and line an 8 inch round baking dish (I used a cake pan; you could substitute a larger dish for thinner bars). In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the flour, oats, butter, sugar, baking powder and salt (you could also do this by hand). Once the dough is crumbly and well-mixed, press 2 cups of the dough into the pan. Make sure it is all pressed down. Add the roasted strawberries on top with a couple extra tablespoons of raw sugar (depending on how sweet you like it). Mash the strawberries into a jammy layer. Add the remaining dough on top and press lightly.
Bake for 25 minutes, until the top begins to get golden brown. If you eat it warm, it will be a little looser in texture. So perhaps over ice cream? With cream? Go wild.

 

LEMON ALMOND COOKIES

LEMON ALMOND COOKIES
Adapted from Good Things Grow
2 1/2 c. almond flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
4 tablespoons honey/maple syrup (I used half of each)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
zest of 1 large lemon
Whisk the almond flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
In a smaller bowl, combine the coconut oil, honey, lemon juice, and lemon zest, mixing well. Pour into the dry mixture and stir until everything is well moistened, the dough will be slightly crumbly, but should hold when pressed together with hands.
Lay out a piece of parchment and use your hands to sort of squeeze the dough together and transfer to the parchment. Carefully roll into a large log about 2 1/2-inches in diameter. Place in the freezer for 1 hour or until firm. You can freeze the dough overnight or for a few days. Make sure to thaw it slightly before you use it.
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking pan with parchment.
The dough is tough to slice because it crumbles very easily. You can either pinch of pieces and roll them into balls, which will give you a shape like the second photo above, or you can unwrap the chilled dough and cut into 1/4-inch slices, then lay the parchment back over each slice, one at a time, and roll it out flat with a rolling pin. Then they will look more like the top photo (I prefer this method).
Place cookies on lined baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Make sure to check after 8 minutes, and take them out once they start to brown around the edges. Allow to cool on baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack, as they are very delicate and will break if they aren’t cool yet.