Gluten Free Banana and Chocolate Chip Muffins

Baking – ohh, how I have missed you. Ever since earlier this year when we learned my youngest son Beckett had food allergies (the most serious being gluten), I’ve put my baking on hold. Weekends used to mean homemade muffins and pancakes and biscuits, but trying these things without regular flour was more hassle than I felt like dealing with. It was unknown territory, and frankly with the baby, I didn’t have much time for experimenting. But a few weeks ago I wanted real pancakes and so I googled “how to substitute gluten free flour for regular flour” and was amazed by what I found – it’s actually pretty simple. Add xanthan gum and egg to almost any recipe and voila, you have gluten-free baked goods that don’t taste gluten-free. They rise and they have the same consistency. So with a new found excitement and hope about eating normal again, I’ll be baking – hallelujah, I’ll be baking! I’ll be testing out my old recipes and seeing how it goes. I’ll share my successes, and hope that if you are also gluten impaired that you’ll too be able to enjoy some of your old favorites again.

Gluten Free Banana and Chocolate Chip Muffins

3 very ripe bananas
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup gluten free all purpose flour
1/2 cup gluten free oats
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips

1.) In a large bowl, whisk together bananas, brown sugar, oil, buttermilk and eggs until well combined (banana chunks are OK).
2.) In a small bowl, stir together flour, oats, xanthan gum, baking soda and salt. Slowly stir into wet ingredients and fold in chocolate chips. Stir until just combined – do not over-stir.
3.) Pour batter into lined muffin tins (I use a scoop), and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 21 minutes.

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Brownie Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

My husband is a chocoholic. The guy loves anything chocolate. So for Father’s Day, I made him the ultimate chocolate dessert – a brownie bundt cake with chocolate ganache. The idea began last night when he was searching for chocolate (to which we only had chocolate ice cream), and he started throwing out chocolate wish-list ideas. “I want chocolate cake… no brownies… no a brownie cake. But not with icing, with ganache!” Viola. A quick Pinterest search and I had a plan for the next day.

Brogan decided to help me make the Father’s Day cake – he’s getting good at measuring and stirring, so his assistance is more of a help than it used to be. This cake turned out awesome! It was fudgy, and rich (but not too rich) and totally hit the spot where a chocolate craving is concerned. To sum it up, Brogan swiftly said after taking a bite, “this cake is amazing!” I must agree. And most importantly, so did Blake. I just watched him have a second helping, this time topped with chocolate ice cream. Go figure. Hope you enjoy!

Brownie Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
4 ozs unsweetened chocolate squares, chopped
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
Butter and flour for bundt pan

Chocolate Ganache
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2.) In a large microwavable bowl, add butter, chopped chocolate and chocolate chips. Microwave for until melted, stirring about every minute. Once melted, stir until smooth.
3.) With a whisk, stir in sugar and then the eggs, one at a time. Next, stir in vanilla, flour and salt.
4.) Butter and flour a bundt pan. Pour batter into pan and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes. Check cake with a toothpick and cook longer if needed.
5.) To prepare the ganache, place heavy cream in a saucepan and heat just until it boils. Remove from heat, add chocolate chips and whisk until smooth. Spoon ganache on top of the cake and serve.

Brownie cake adapted from Taste of Home’s Triple Layer Brownie Cake

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Father's Day Brownie Bundt Cake

Chocolate Cobbler

I can’t believe I’ve been blogging about food (and my recipes) for 9 months and have not shared chocolate cobbler with everyone. Shame on me. I was inspired to make this dessert 4 or 5 years ago after having something very similar at a restaurant… it was so good that I had to figure out how to make it. Well I found this recipe online (been too long, can’t recall the source) and it is a really good copycat.  For a while there, this was my go-to… need a dessert? I’ll bring chocolate cobbler!  So nudged by my husband having a chocolate sweet tooth lately and having company over for dinner on Sunday, I thought I’d pull this guy out of retirement. And then I was reminded how good it is, and I’ll have to find an excuse to make it again soon.

This recipe is really simple, and it’s likely you’ve got  everything in the pantry to make this. It’s also a little strange – calls for you to pour boiling water over the batter… say what?!? Yes. You read right. So do it, and don’t ask questions. I whipped this together in about 10 minutes and it bakes for a little over 30. You must serve it with vanilla ice cream (and specifically, Breyer’s Natural Vanilla – the kind with the little black vanilla specks). Serve it hot with the ice cream melting into the chocolate sauce – yum, yum, yum. (I thought I’d give you the mental picture, because I forgot to snap one with the ice cream dangit… and of course there is none left).  So without further hesitation – here is the infamous chocolate cobbler. Hope you enjoy!

Chocolate  Cobbler

Chocolate Cobbler

6 tbsp butter
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar (for batter)
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder (for batter)
1/2 cup milk (if you don’t use whole, use part half and half to thicken up the milk)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar (for sprinkling)
1/4 cup cocoa powder (for sprinkling)
1 1/2 cup boiling water

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) Melt butter in an 8″x8″ (or slightly larger) casserole dish while oven preheats.
3.) In a medium size bowl, stir flour, baking soda, salt, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa. Stir in milk and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa powder and set aside.
4.) Remove dish from oven and spoon batter over melted butter. Sprinkle the sugar/cocoa powder mixture on top of batter and butter. Pour boiling water on top.
5.) Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until batter in the center is fully cooked.

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Mini Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

I felt like baking today and the two brown bananas sitting on my counter prompted me to create these little gems. These cupcakes were another ode to the good ole peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich of my childhood. I opted for mini cupcakes, mainly because I saw some cute little mini cupcake cups at Publix (and bought them, of course). To be honest, I’ve never made mini cupcakes, and thought it would be fun to do something different. Turns out, these cupcakes work perfectly in the mini variety. I know this because I had extra batter (after making 48 little guys) and made 6 standard sized cupcakes. I tried them both, and I think it’s because the little ones provide the perfect ratio of cake to frosting (and you can eat them in one or two bites), that they actually tasted better. The frosting is reminiscent of Reese’s peanut butter cup filling (can you say amazing!) and the light banana flavored cake provides a nice contrast to that richness.  Brogan scarfed down 6 of these things, which I’m certain contributed to his extra-crazy demeanor all day. You’d think I’d know better, but nope, I just keep on baking.

Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Mini Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Banana Cupcakes
2 really ripe bananas
1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

Peanut Butter Frosting
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used all natural, unsweetened)
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 box powdered sugar
3 tbsp half and half (or more to reach desired consistency)

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tins. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2.) In an electric mixer, combine bananas and butter. Add sugar, vanilla, eggs and sour cream and beat until well combined.
3.) Set mixer to lowest setting and slowly add flour mixture and buttermilk. Do not over beat.
4.) Using a large table spoon, spoon the batter into the cupcake cups until they are about 2/3 – 3/4 full.
5.) Bake for 13 to 14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Yields 60 mini cupcakes.

For the frosting…
1.) In an electric mixer, beat butter, peanut butter, honey and vanilla until well combined.
2.) Slowly add powdered sugar. Frosting will be very thick. Add the half and half to thin it out, using more if needed.
3.) Add to a pastry bag (or ziploc gallon size bag with the corner cut out) to pipe frosting on cooled cupcakes. Start by piping the frosting around the outer perimeter of the cupcake, working your way toward the middle.

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Blueberry Muffins!

This morning I decided on a little impromptu muffin making because I was seriously craving some blueberry muffins. I wanted a little tartness to go along with the blueberry, so I added sour cream, buttermilk and lemon zest (a little trick I learned from Ina Garten). Aside from the fact that I couldn’t manage to get equal amounts of batter in my muffin liners (despite using a scoop!), they turned out really, really good. Beckett and I ate 4 of them right out of the oven in about 10 minutes. And I’d like to blame it all on Becks, but this girl ate some muffins. They turned out light and tangy and were exactly what I was craving.

Blueberry muffins

Blueberry Muffins

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries

1.) Preheat oven to 375 and line muffin tins with 18 liners.
2.) Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth, continue beating and add vanilla, eggs and lemon zest. Next add salt, baking soda and baking powder, and then pour flour in very slowly while mixing on the lowest setting. Add sour cream, and buttermilk and beat until batter has a silky consistency. Stir in blueberries.
3.) Fill each muffin liner 3/4 full and bake for about 20 minutes, or until tops are slightly browned.

Yields 18 muffins

*I topped each muffin with sugar and lemon zest, but next time I make them I will leave off the zest. It got too brown while baking and didn’t add much flavor. 

Blueberry muffin batter

Blueberry muffin batter in liner

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Good ‘ole Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I get so excited when Brogan wants to cook with me, so the other evening when Brogan asked if we could make chocolate chip cookies, I said sure! So I changed dinner plans and made beanie weenies so that we’d have time to bake… it’s just fun to mix it up every once in a while!

I got brave with this recipe and decided to make it up on the fly. You see, I started really baking about a year ago, and I had always been curious about the science of baking and unconfident in my abilities to wing it like I can when I’m cooking. But a year’s worth of baking made me feel like I had a better understanding of what all the elements do, and so here you have my original chocolate chip cookies. They ended up being a nice mix of crunchy and chewy and we all enjoyed them. I took the leftovers to work and my co-workers approved too. I even had one co-worker tell me I should go sell my recipe to Publix LOL – now, I don’t think I’ll be doing that, but these are some darn good cookies. Hope you enjoy!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1 cup mini chocolate chips

1.) Beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated.
2.) While mixer is set to low, add salt, baking powder and baking soda. Slowly add flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix until flour is completely blended in*. Add chocolate chips and mix just until they are equally distributed.
3.) Using a tablespoon, spoon rounded balls onto a baking stone, about 2-inches apart. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 14 to 17 minutes.**

Yields 3 dozen cookies.

*I know a lot of recipes have you mix the dry ingredients together first, but I didn’t and they turned out just fine! Save yourself a bowl!

**Using a Pampered Chef stone, it took mine the full 17 minutes to brown on top. If you’re using a metal cookie sheet, it will probably be closer to 14 minutes, so watch them closely.

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A little boy’s way to get cookies off the stone..

Cinnamon Bread

Anyone eat cinnamon toast growing up? White bread, slathered with butter, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar?? I loved that stuff! It was such a treat when my mom would let me make it… oh, and at grandma’s house… I always had it there (because you get whatever you want at your grandparents’, right??).

But I did not go in search of cinnamon toast when looking for this recipe. Actually, it was more of a practical search. I had buttermilk. A lot of it. The best by date says tomorrow. So I searched Pinterest for buttermilk bread… scrolled through dozens of pictures until I found this one. Looked interesting. Had a lot of repins. Pretty simple – flour, buttermilk, butter, sugar, cinnamon, eggs and baking soda. But perhaps there was something familiar about these flavors that had my subconscious drawing me to it. And come about minute 25 in the oven when it really started smellin’ up the kitchen that I thought, OH MY GOSH THAT SMELLS JUST LIKE CINNAMON TOAST!!! I HAVEN’T HAD CINNAMON TOAST IN YEARS!!! Yes, I was thinking in all caps. It was that exciting.

I made a couple of changes to the recipe… did half brown and half white sugar, added a little ginger, added cinnamon to the batter, and topped it with a streusel. (I made a pumpkin bread with a streusel and I’m addicted – all my future breads may be streuseled!)

Ok, so I just tried it. Holy cow. Turns out it’s a cross between cinnamon toast and a cinnamon bun. I usually don’t start typing up a post about food until I’ve tried it… but I had a good feeling about this one.  This stuff is sinful – too much butter, too much sugar, but ohhh so good and worth every calorie.

Cinnamon Bread

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Cinnamon Sugar Topping and Streusel 

3 tbsp white sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
3 tbsp softened butter (add at the end)

1.) Cream butter, sugar and egg with an electric mixer. Add buttermilk, then flour, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger. Beat until smooth.
2.) Mix together the sugars, cinnamon and ginger for the topping. Pour half of the batter into a buttered and floured loaf pan. Sprinkle with about 3 tbsp of the sugar and spice mix. Pour the remaining batter on top.
3.) Add the softened butter to the remaining spice mix. With a fork, mix until fully incorporated. Place small dollops of the buttered sugar spice mix all over the top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Then make your self a plate, unbutton your pants and try to not eat the whole thing (as I’m eating my second piece… within 10 minutes… in yoga pants).

Modified from Amish Cinnamon Bread

Cinnamon Bread Batter

Buttering a dish

Flouring a dish

First layer of sugar and spice

Cinnamon Bread Streusel

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Cinnamon Bread