oatmeal raisin waffles

As I’ve gotten older {and more adept} in my kitchen, I’ve come to the realization that if I can make it from scratch, I want to do just that. There’s something so satisfying about knowing every exact ingredient, and every measurement, that goes into the food that I prepare for myself and for the hubs. Sure, I’ll take a little help when the timing doesn’t work out {or if we are just insanely busy!} but I find it so refreshing to spend time in my teeny kitchen measuring ingredients, doing meal prep, and laying out dishes.

Today’s recipe is no different. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved waffles. As kids, my sisters and I would get so excited when we got to enjoy the frozen waffles from the grocery store {that didn’t happen to often, as my mom would frequently make homemade ones!}; there was something so fun about watching them jump out from the toaster, perfectly round and golden…just begging to be slathered with butter and syrup. While my taste buds have matured a bit since those days, my love and appreciation for said breakfast treat still remains.

I’ve been making waffles in large batches lately; they come together quickly, require minimal work, and freeze beautifully for easy morning meals during the work week. My go-to recipe has definitely stood the test of time, but recently, I decided I wanted to shake things up. Not wanting to go the safe route, I did some research and settled on testing my culinary skills with a new kind – one that used oat flour as the base! I’m such a huge fan of oatmeal raisin ANYTHING, I knew that this would be an ideal flavor combination to try out. And there’s no denying it; these waffles are on.point. They are so fluffy on the inside, and chock full of raisins…one bite and you’ll be in heaven. The edges get perfectly crisp, similar to the edges of an oatmeal raisin cookie right out of the oven{!!!!}. And as as far as toppings go? Plain, buttered, a scoop of ice cream {yes, I went there}, smeared with jam – there’s no wrong way to do it. Your favorite way is the correct way : )

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Oatmeal Raisin Waffles {recipe adapted from Girl Makes Food}

A fun twist on traditional waffles, this {easily adaptable} gluten-free version is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters! The oat flour is perfectly nutty and sweet, and when paired with the overload of raisins that we stir in, is reminiscent of an oatmeal cookie {a healthy one, to boot!}. These freeze beautifully, too; I definitely recommend making large batches because you’ll find yourself craving these for breakfast constantly! Makes 12-14 waffles. 

Ingredients:

3 cups oat flour*

2 Tbsp. baking powder {aluminum free}

pinch salt

4 large eggs

2 cups milk {I used a low-fat buttermilk in mine, but any milk of your choice is fine!}

4 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1 cup golden raisins

*to make oat flour, simply add 3 cups of rolled oats into the body of your food processor and pulse until it resembles flour…- how easy is that!

To Prepare:

In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients, whisking well to combine. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, mix the eggs, milk, and maple syrup.

Gently fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture, adding in the raisins at the end. Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes {this helps the batter to develop flavor and marry together as one}.

Using a 1/4 cup measure {I have this waffle maker, but feel free to use the correct amount for your machine!}, ladle in the batter and cook until done. Mine took about 4-6 minutes; usually when the waffle iron stops releasing steam, the waffles are done!

Serve immediately with desired toppings.

If freezing, allow waffles to cool completely on baking racks. Transfer to storage bags; waffles will keep at least one month when frozen. To serve, simply pop into the toaster and reheat until desired “crunch” is reached. 

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Enjoy!

peanut butter power bites

Even a kitchen fail can produce beautiful results. I mean, just take a look at these…

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I am certainly no stranger when it comes to the occasional kitchen “mess up”. There are things, simple things, really…I just can never seem to get it right! My favorite example of this is brown rice – I don’t know what it is, but I have a tendency to either undercook/overcook the rice, or add slightly too much salt when preparing it. White rice, cous cous, or any other grain is no problem for me, but that darn brown rice and I just don’t get along!

But I digress. Back to today’s recipe.

I was making a batch of my homemade peanut butter and I accidentally over-processed the mixture. While still delicious, the end product was far too grainy and chunky to really be called spreadable. It was so thick I could barely get it out of the food processor, let alone into a Mason Jar for storing it! But I sucked it up and saved it anyways; I hate throwing out food, and I knew that if I gave it a day or two to roll around in my foodie brain, I’d eventually come up with something.

And boy oh boy did I; the end product is so wonderfully delicious {and nutritious!}. I was snooping around my pantry and my eyes danced over the rolled outs near the top shelf. So of course I thought of peanut butter cookies, but then I started pondering a no-bake, freezer-style version. Thin the peanut butter out with some honey and add in oats for binding, and you’ve got the perfect power snack! I was giddy with excitement, practically dancing into the kitchen to pull out my trust food processor yet again.

Y’all, the process doesn’t get much simpler than this. Everything goes into the bowl, a few quick pulses, and you’re there. I scooped them into greased mini muffin tins, popped them in the freezer, and fell in love. Truly. These are the perfect bites for between meals; great healthy snacking for outdoor activities, or a tasty little treat before bed. I even offered up a few suggestions for add-ins, should you feel so creative : ) These have become a staple in our house; I hope they will become the same for you!

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Peanut Butter Power Bites

Perfect for snacking on the go, and just comprised of three ingredients, there’s no reason to not whip up a batch right now. You’ll be glad you did! 

Ingredients:

2 cups peanut butter {here’s my homemade version!}

1 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup honey

optional: dried fruit bits, chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips

To Prepare:

Place all ingredients {except the optional ingredients} into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined; it won’t take long!

Fold in the optional ingredients by hand.

To assemble:

1.  Bites can be rolled into balls and placed on a greased sheet tray.

2. Using a greased mini muffin tray, balls can be formed and molded into rounds.

3. Spread evenly into a greased 9″ x 9″ baking dish.

Freeze until solid, about 3-4 hours. Store tightly covered.

{secret ingredient} chocolate chip cookie bars

Sometimes, the most unusual of ingredients can be the most versatile. Enter: tofu…today’s secret ingredient!

I know what you all must be thinking – Alicia MUST be crazy!…tofu used in cookies? That can’t be right…

The exact same thought was running through my mind when I happened upon this recipe while in a futile search to use up a block of tofu before it reached the point of no return. You see, I cook pretty frequently with tofu: sauces, stirfrys, smoothies, often just plain. You name and I have more than likely tried it {or saved a recipe to try it, hah}. But I wanted to do something different, something unusual. So, when I saw this recipe, I knew it had to be done.

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I’ll admit, I had my doubts. My husband did too. After all, how can a soy by-product be transformed into a sweet and luscious dessert? It didn’t make sense. But boy oh boy, were we pleasantly surprised! These cookies come together in not time, and the batter is rich and thick; typical of any traditional cookie dough. The tofu {whether silken or firm} is simply a means of replacing the higher fat ingredients; butter, oil, and the like. By nature, tofu has a pretty mild, almost undetectable flavor, so when paired with the bold tastes of chocolate/peanut butter/oats, it blends in beautifully.

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You have to promise that you’ll give these a shot, ok? You won’t be sorry! {or miss the other ingredients!}

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{secret ingredient} Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars {recipe adapted from Food.com }

Want to fool even the pickiest of eaters? Look no further! These protein-packed cookies will satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth, and won’t leave you feeling guilty. 

Ingredients:

1 package {12-1/3 ounces} tofu

heaping 1/3 cup natural style peanut butter, creamy style

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1-1/2 cups old fashioned oats

optional: chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, assorted nuts of your liking

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the tofu, peanut butter, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Slowly add in the flour, baking powder, and oats. Stir gently to combine with the wet ingredients.

If using, add in any additional optional ingredients.

Spread evenly into the baking sheet, and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.

Cookies will be kept best in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for several days. They freeze beautifully, too; simply use a freezer-safe bag, and transfer to the fridge several hours before consumption. 

mom’s granola

A lot of the recipes that I love to make are the ones that remind me of memories – special occasions, holidays, that kind of thing. But I have to say, the ones that are the most special are the ones that take me back to my family’s kitchen. Spending time in there, especially as my sisters and I got older, are some of my most cherished memories. Nowadays, whenever we can all make it back home for a visit, that’s where we spend the most time. Grouped around the kitchen island with assorted goodies and drinks, bumping elbows and sharing in conversation, I find myself brimming with happiness and love.

Since the hubs and I live several hours away from my parents, I find myself recreating dishes that remind me of home. It’s a great way to “transport” us there, in a way. It might not be exactly the same, but it certainly does a great job of making me feel there! That’s where today’s recipe comes in – for lack of any better name, I’ve dubbed it Mom’s Granola. It’s a super simple, super customizable recipe, but it takes me back into her kitchen each and every single time I make it.

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Most of the ingredients I’ve called for are ones you probably have on hand. However, like any other cook, I’ll find myself in a pinch…a few ingredients short…and have to sub in or swap out certain items for others. I’ve shared a few of my favorite *optional* add-ins, but don’t hold back! They can be added in as you see fit, in any amount. That’s the beauty of home cooking, in my opinion. It is so easy, and so satisfying, to take a recipe and make it your own, but still have it take you to a special memory or place.

Enjoy!

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Mom’s Granola 

A nostalgic recipe that brings me home every time I make it, this granola can be easily adapted to fit the taste buds and needs of anyone who wants to make it. It comes together in no time, leaves the house smelling wonderful, and most importantly – it’s good for you!

Ingredients:

5 cups rolled oats

1-1/2 cups slivered almonds

1 -1/2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped

1 cup raisins

1 cup cranberries

2 tbsp. cinnamon

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 small can of sweetened condensed milk {can be any fat content}

1/4 cup molasses

pinch salt

optional add-ins: chia seeds, flax seeds, unsweetened coconut, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, assorted dried fruits, pumpkin seeds…etc. 

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Generously spray a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients {except for the molasses, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla}. Toss liberally to combine, making sure that the cinnamon is evenly distributed. Add in the sweetened condensed milk, molasses, and vanilla; fold in carefully, making sure to evenly distribute.

Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and smooth into one even layer. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes; remove and toss the granola {you want to give the top some contact with the bottom of the pan, ensuring everything gets crispy}.

Turn the oven up to 350 degrees, and bake for another 15-20 minutes, depending on how dark and crunchy you prefer your granola. Once cooked to your liking, removed from the oven and let cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week; any longer, transfer to the freezer to maintain freshness.

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