Nut-Free Chocolate Energy Bites

My son has started kindergarten and is in a tree nut-free school. He packs his lunch pretty much every day, and we’re always looking for new treats for him to bring for snacktime and lunch. His favorite dessert of late are these granola bars, but we decided to switch things up and create a new treat — introducing these energy balls! They’re sweet enough that he eats them after his lunch and we’ve started calling them chocolate cookie balls.

If you’re seeking a snack recipe for school (or home) that has no tree nuts or peanuts (read: no almonds, etc.), then you must try this! Please note that they have coconut, which can be another allergen, and sunflower seeds, which aren’t a nut. These take 5 minutes to make and only have 6 ingredients! Plus, they’re so easy to make, my 3-year-old daughter had a blast helping me. 

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Nut-Free Granola Bars

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but my firstborn starts kindergarten THIS YEAR. I could (and should) write a full post on how fast time flies, how I’m not ready for him to go to real school (during a pandemic nonetheless) and also how amazing he is. So instead, I’m taking out my anxiety and emotions by baking and making sure we’re prepared and ready to start! One of the ways we are doing this is by making sure we have snacks, since FW has a morning snack he must bring every day. Snacks (and all foods) must be tree nut free, so that leaves out so many of our usual go-tos, like PB&J, or energy bites. Luckily, I found a recipe for granola bars that FW (and the rest of the family) enjoys, so this is going to be part of our new rotation.

If you’re seeking a snack recipe for school (or home) that has no tree nuts or peanuts (read: no almonds, etc.), then you must try this!

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Peanut Butter Lovers Blondies

We had a few rainy days in Cleveland last week, and B was busy, which meant that I was trying to find ways to entertain 3 (!) kids inside our house. One of the things that we all love to do – well, except for GM, but we’ll find out about that soon enough! – is bake. And luckily, I’d been dreaming up these bars for a while, so when we had one rainy day and I asked the kids if they wanted to bake (and they said yes!), I knew exactly what we’d make.

I love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter. Especially when there’s not TOO much chocolate involved. Which is probably why I love Reese’s peanut butter cups and pieces. Thus, this recipe.

This recipe uses my standard blondie recipe, plus a few additional add-ins to make it perfect for peanut butter lovers! If you wanted to use a peanut butter cookie base, you could make this EXTRA peanut buttery! But this is perfect if you want a chocolate chip cookie with some added peanut butter candy.

Peanut Butter Lovers Blondies Continue reading

Lemon Blueberry Bread

A few weeks ago, our next door neighbors gifted us with some leftover cupcakes they had. They were from a local bakery and all were delicious, but one flavor was the winner in our house – the lemon ones. So much so, that after they were gone, my husband commented, “You should bake something with lemon next.”

Since spring is here, and we had some leftover blueberries that were asking to be eaten/used, I was immediately excited to try a lemon blueberry loaf. Quick breads are so easy (and quick!) and this recipe also became a hit in our house. We’ll be making it again!

Here’s what you need:

For the bread:

  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup blueberries (I used fresh ones that I had on hand)

For the glaze:

  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter; melted
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Here’s what you do:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the butter with the sugar, lemon juice, zest and eggs.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir about half into egg mixture. Then add milk and water, mix unit combined. Then add in remaining flour+baking powder+salt mixture. Mix until combined but do not overmix!
  3. Gently fold in blueberries.
  4. Transfer to a greased 9×5″ loaf pan.
  5. Bake at 350° F for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Once cool, make the glaze. Combine all ingredients for glaze and whisk well. Drizzle over cooled loaf.

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like lemon desserts?
  • What signifies “spring” for you when baking?

Healthyish Banana Zucchini Muffins

My kids love muffins. They always have. And who could blame them? Tiny pieces of cake in a muffin-like single-serving shape? What’s not to like?

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These muffins are sweet enough that my kids call them “treat muffins” (they’re sweeter than my spinach/zucchini/carrot muffins), but healthy enough to be called “healthyish.” They use honey instead of refined sugar, and white whole wheat flour. I also add in half a zucchini for some moisture and added veggies – but these truly taste like just your every day banana muffins! They’re easy to make if you have about 2 bananas on hand, so much that I’ve asked my family to set aside 2 bananas and NOT eat them, just so we can make these. 

healthy banana zucchini muffins - i crashed the web

Healthyish Banana Zucchini Muffins

Here’s what you need:

  • ½ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup avocado oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 large bananas, mashed (mine came out to be a little over 1 cup in volume)
  • 1/2 zucchini, grated – pat with a paper towel to remove excess moisture (Note – I have made these without zucchini and haven’t had to change anything up, they’re still good just no added veggie)
  • ¼ cup almond milk (this is my favorite almond milk; you can use regular milk if you like)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (my kids love cinnamon, but if you’re not a big fan you can omit this or add in less)
  • 1 ¾ cups white whole wheat flour  
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • blueberries, optional

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare your muffin tin – I use silicone reusable baking cups and spray them with non-stick cooking spray.  
  2. In a large bowl, mix honey, avocado oil and eggs.
  3. Add in the mashed bananas, grated zucchini, milk and vanilla extract. Mix well.
  4. On the side, combine the dry ingredients — the cinnamon, flour, salt, baking soda. Add into the wet mixture and mix until just combined. DO NOT overmix!  
  5. Optional — add in blueberries or other add-ins. Suggestions include dried cherries or chocolate chips 🙂 I added in blueberries to a few of the muffins but not all. If you want to have blueberry (or another add-in) throughout, add in about 3/4-1 cup. 
  6. Divide the batter evenly between 12 muffin cups. Bake muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean. Mine took about 24 minutes.
  7. Cool muffins and then enjoy! I like to keep 6 out and then freeze 6 so I have individual muffins ready to go whenever. I simply take one out of the freezer and defrost overnight OR in the microwave. 

Nutrition info (I borrowed this from MyFitnessPal – I am not a dietician, just someone who likes to bake and make treats sometimes a little healthier, and I can’t claim 100% accuracy)

banana muffins

Seeking a non-healthy banana muffin? Give these a try instead!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you have a go-to muffin recipe?
  • What’s a healthy-ish recipe you made recently?

Raspberry Almond Bars

Here’s another quarantine treat that we’ve perfected over here – raspberry almond bars.

I’ve made these three times since March. That’s how much the family has enjoyed them. FW even requested these (along with ice cream) be his birthday treat, instead of cake! (He takes after me — who needs cake when you can have cookies, ice cream, etc.)

These are so easy. If you are looking for a delicious almond/fruit-like treat, I highly recommend these. The first time I made these, I didn’t have almond extract and used vanilla instead. They came out good, but if you love almond as much as I do I definitely recommend using almond extract! We also made them with a few different types of jellies and jams so far. Raspberry has been my favorite so this is our favorite combination — raspberry almond. If you want to half the recipe you can, you just need to put them in an 8×8 pan and then adjust the baking time (may not take as long but keep an eye on it!).

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Easy Homemade Granola

For those of you that have been reading ICTW for a long time, you’ll be thinking, hey this isn’t the first time you’ve made granola before. And you know what – you’re right! I’ve been making granola for years. I grew up with my mom making a batch of granola nearly weekly (thanks to my brother’s obsession, which he passed along to me) and when I moved out of the house I missed it a ton. The store bought granola, while yummy, just didn’t cut it. So, every so often, I get on a granola kick and have to make a big batch for myself.

Luckily for me, my kids are loving granola these days as well. So, now I have someone to share it with!

This is another one of my mom’s recipes that she has been making for a while. I shared another one of her granola recipes here, but these days, the recipe below is what I’ve been craving.

easy homemade granola - easy to make and made with maple syrup! - i crashed the web

Easy Homemade Granola

Here’s what you need: 

  • 4 cups old fashioned rolled oats, or organic oats
  • 2 cups slivered almonds
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened (Note, if you can’t find and need to use sweetened, it’s okay, I’ve been there)
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (I’ve also used honey)
  • Optional: 2 cups dried fruit (I love dried cherries and blueberries)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl – oats, nuts,  coconut, cinnamon and brown sugar.
  3. In a small bowl, combine avocado oil and maple syrup. Once mixed, pour over dry ingredients. Mix well so it’s evenly distributed.
  4. Pour out mixture onto a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, checking and stirring at about halfway through.
  6. Now the hardest part — let cool and enjoy!  I add in the optional dried fruit AFTER baking, so the fruit does’t also dry out any more.

Suggestions – if you’d prefer not to just eat granola right out of the jar, you can also serve over yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal or on top of your favorite smoothie bowl!

Questions for you:

  • What’s your go-to breakfast?
  • What’s your favorite type of granola?

I’m linking up with Meatless Monday with A Whisk and Two Wands and Confessions of a Mother Runner

Bite-Size Sea Salt Chocolate Fudge Cookies

I’ve been doing a lot more baking (and running) during this time. It’s not that I have more free time – like many others working from home with  kids, my free time seems to be less than ever … but on the weekends, I take a break from work and enjoy baking. I don’t feel guilty if my kids don’t want to join me (though sometimes they do), because I’m with them all week. So instead, I enjoy baking something and we all enjoy it Sunday evening for dinner.

A few weeks ago, a coworker of mine shared that she had some extra masks from a friend who had made them. We have yet to get any cloth masks, and she offered to share some with me. She loves anything chocolate, so to thank her, I baked some of these cookies to share with her. If you like chocolate, and slightly salted chocolate, I highly recommend you try these out. They’re easy, don’t require and dough sitting, and require one bowl to make. And, if you make them the size I do, they’re small and you can easily enjoy more than one at a time.

Bite-Size Sea Salt Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Bite-Size Sea Salt Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt + pinch of sea salt for topping
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.
  2. In a large bowl, melt the butter in the microwave (you can also melt the butter over the stove top, being careful to not let it burn).
  3. Add in the cocoa powder, sugar, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla. Mix well.
  4. Gradually add the flour, baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Mix until just combined and the dough has formed — do not overmix.
  5. Scoop out the dough, and make rounded tablespoon-full size balls (for larger than bite-size, you may want to do about 2 TBs of dough) Press them down slightly (they don’t really spread, so this will be how they look), and add 3-5 chocolate chips on each dough ball. Sprinkle sea salt on top of each cookie.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The cookies will be soft and may look undercooked when they come out of the oven, but you don’t want to overcook them. Cool on a cooling rack and then enjoy.
  7. Makes about 2 dozen bite-size cookies.

Put them in a tupperware and share them with a friend! Or just eat them yourself.

Bite-Size Sea Salt Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Some questions for you:

  • Are you a salted chocolate fan?
  • Do you have masks? What kind?

 

Fresh Berry Tart Recipe

During this social isolation time, we’ve been having Sunday dinner at our house instead of with B’s family. With this new routine, I’ve been trying to bake something new each Sunday for us to try. And a few weeks ago when I asked B what he wanted, he replied fruit tart.” Fruit tart? I had no idea what he meant by that, but after scouring a few different places for recipes, got this one, and I have to tell you – it’s a winner. B, FW and LM all loved it. Even a week after eating it, FW asked for more and B told me it was one of the best things I’ve ever baked.

So, now I’m documenting the recipe for posterity – and sharing it with you! If you like fruit desserts, you must make this.

Fresh Berry Tart - I Crashed the Web

Fresh Berry Tart

Here’s what you need:

For the dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced
  • 1 large eggs + 1 egg yolk

For the berry filling

  • About 3-4 cups of berries — I used 1 cup fresh blueberries, 2 cup fresh sliced strawberries and 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 lime (fruit and zest)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose four
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 1 TB water

Here’s what you do:

Make the dough:

  1. Combine butter and sugar into the food processor. Cream until they are light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs to the food processor and continue to blend.
  3. Combine flour and salt, and add to the food processor. Pulse a few times, or until the mixture comes together and appears to make a ball. Don’t overmix!
  4. Remove dough from food processor and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or overnight.

Make the tart:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9-inch tart or pie pan with non-stick cook spray. When chilled, remove the tart dough from refrigerator. Place the dough in the pie pan, and using your fingers, lightly press the dough and spread out onto the bottom of the pan and up the sides.  The dough should be uniform in thickness (about 1/4-inch thick).
  2. In a large bowl, toss the berries with sugar, zest and juice of the lime, and the 2 tablespoons of flour.
  3. Spoon the berries into the tart shell. Drop pieces of butter over the top.
  4. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the dough is light golden brown on the edges.  Cool about 1 hour.
  5. In a saucepan, heat the apricot jam and water until  combined.
  6. Use a pastry brush or small spatula to brush the warmed jam over the top of the tart.

I also made fresh a whipped cream to top the tart. It was great!

Some questions for you:

  • What do you prefer — fruit desserts or chocolate desserts?
  • What’s the last thing you’ve baked?