Lunch With Loni

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Gluten Free Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies January 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 10:00 am

I can’t believe this is only the second brownie recipe I’ve posted on here.  Then again, Ghirardelli makes an amazing brownie mix that has never let me down.  A co-worker of mine is gluten intolerant and I told him I’d bake something he could eat without worry.  When I saw this recipe, I figured that the chocolate and peanut butter combination would make up for any issues in my first attempt at a gluten free brownie!  These were definitely on the fudge-y consistency side and not cake-like.  So it totally depends whether you’re okay with that.  I happen to not mind, because it’s like you’re enjoying a square of fudge but it’s healthier!  I think they’d also be wonderful heated up and served a la mode.  I do wish they were a little thicker.  I think I may have accidentally made in a 9 by 9 pan, which may account for some of that.

  Original Recipe From: Sally of Sally’s Baking Addiction

  Original Recipe Located At:

  GF PB Swirl Brownie


  • 3/4 cup (185 grams) creamy peanut butter (do not use natural, runny peanut butter or powdered “peanut butter”)
  • 6 oz. low fat or fat free vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) skim milk (or almond milk)
  • 1 large egg (or 2 egg whites)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar  (see note above in post about substitutions)
  • 1/2 cup (64 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (40 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats


1) Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 8×8 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

2) Place all of the ingredients except for the peanut butter into a blender or food processor. (Yes, a blender!) For easier blending, place the liquid ingredients into the blender first. Blend until mix is smooth and oats are ground up. You will have to stop the blender and scrape down the sides a few times.

3) Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Batter will be thin. Microwave peanut butter for about 30 seconds. Drop melted peanut butter by spoonfuls onto the batter, swirling gently with a knife to create a marbled effect. (Try not to overmix!)

4) Bake for 20-25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Brownies will be extra fudgy, so be sure to wait until COMPLETELY cooled – I stuck mine in the refrigerator for 2 hours, which allowed them to be cut very easily. Cut into squares and enjoy!


Peanut Butter & Jelly Granola Bars January 26, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 2:29 pm

I saw this recipe posted on the Facebook wall of my friend, my former college roommate.  I don’t remember ever baking together in our freshman dorm, but I do remember listening to and singing along to Pink’s “Just Like a Pill” at high volume.  Now that Pink has a kiddo of her own, she’s probably whipping up a batch of homemade granola bars as well, for all I know!  PB & J is a classic combo, so you really can’t go wrong with that.  The recipe yields enough to keep you snack-ready all week.  I baked mine in a 9 by 9 silicone pan, so they’re slightly thinner.  That doesn’t bother me and made it easier to get out of the pan.  Next time I may make a slightly larger amount to compensate, though.

  Original Recipe From: One Ingredient Chef

  Original Recipe Located At:

  PB & J Granola Bars



  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup Sucanat (sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseeds (I used ground flaxseeds; I am sure the whole ones are good for the granola bar crunch/consistency, but they are worse than popcorn kernels when it comes to getting stuck in your teeth and driving you crazy)
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup raspberry jam


1) Preheat the oven to 350º F. Add the coconut oil, apple sauce, and peanut butter to a saucepan over low heat until melted and incorporated.

2) Meanwhile, combine the dry ingredients: rolled oats, flour, Sucanat (sugar), flaxseeds (whole or ground), and salt in a mixing bowl. When the liquid ingredients are melted, slowly drizzle them into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir until well combined.

3) Add the granola to a lightly-oiled 8 x 8 inch pan and press down evenly. Top with the raspberry jam and use a knife (like above) to scrape and swirl the jam into the top layer of the granola mixture.

4) Bake for about 30 minutes until lightly browned and firm, but don’t overcook because the edges will burn fairly easily.

5) Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before attempting to cut and remove from the pan.

Dark chocolate peanut butter bars next time?!  I think so.


Blackberry Pie Bars January 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 3:53 am

My daughter takes after me when it comes to a love of berries.  I spotted blackberries at the store and knew that she’d love them.  I also knew that it would give me an opportunity to make these bars again.  I made them once, but as I often do, forgot to take a picture.  So here they are in all of their citrus/berry glory.  They feature a shortbread-like crust and topping with a moist, refreshing filling.  I actually didn’t follow the recipe exactly this time.  I didn’t have a lemon on hand, so I used orange zest and juice.  I wound up really liking the combination, but the lemon is wonderful as well.  I will say, they are a bit sweet for my taste.  I have mentioned before on here that I prefer my sweets on the not too sweet side!  For my personal taste, I cut down the sugar in the filling by at least 1/4 cup.  I like the tartness of the berries and citrus to shine through.  Also, I understand orange juice is much sweeter than lemon.  However, I’m making this recommended adjustment based on when I made the recipe with lemon zest and juice.

I am waiting for my baked goods to look as impressive as the ones I see on the blogs I nab the recipes from.  I used the same quantity of berries as the recipe calls for and I’m pretty sure I used the right size pan, but somehow mine seem to not be as berry-ful and thick.  Oh well.  Still tasted good!

  Original Recipe From: The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather, as seen on Annie’s Eats (

  Blackberry Bars


For the crust and topping: 

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Zest of half a lemon (I used orange zest, but have used lemon before.)
  • ¾ cup (12 tbsp.) unsalted butter, cold

For the filling: 

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cups sugar
  • ½ cup sour cream or greek yogurt
  • 6 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • Juice of half a lemon (I used orange this time, but lemon the last.  I’m already thinking of a raspberry/lime combo next!)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 15-16 oz. blackberries, fresh or frozen (thawed and drained of excess juices)


1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with foil and grease lightly.  In the bowl of a food processor or electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest.  Pulse briefly to blend.  Cut the butter into small cubes, then add to the bowl with the dry ingredients.  Process in short pulses to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until only small pieces of butter remain and the mixture is crumbly.

2. Reserve ¾ cup of the mixture for topping the bars.  Add the rest of the mixture to the prepared pan and press to form an even layer of crust on the bottom of the pan.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until light golden.  Let cool 10-15 minutes before proceeding.

3. In a medium bowl, make the filling mixture.  Combine the eggs, sugar, sour cream, flour, salt, lemon juice and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.  Gently stir in the blackberries with a spatula.  Spread the filling mixture over the pre-baked crust in the baking pan.  Crumble the reserved topping mixture over the filling evenly.

4. Bake until the top is beginning to brown and the bars are just set, about 45 minutes.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.  Chill to firm up before slicing and serving.


Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls January 23, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 3:36 am

I’ve made baked egg rolls before, using coleslaw mix and sweet apple chicken sausage.  I came across this recipe for southwest egg rolls and tried it out within a week.  Nacho toppings + egg roll?  Winning combination.  They come together really easily and the recipe yields a large quantity.  Good thing they reheat well in the toaster oven!  Great appetizer for a vegetarian-friendly party.

  Recipe From: Rebecca Crump (Ezra Pound Cake)

  Recipe Located At:

  Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls


  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chiles, drained
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Dash of cayenne
  • 20 egg roll wrappers


1. In a large bowl, combine everything but the egg roll wrappers. Place 1/4 cup mixture in the center of one egg roll wrapper. Fold bottom corner over filling. Fold sides toward center over filling. Moisten remaining corner with water; roll up tightly to seal. Repeat.

2. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Spray tops of egg rolls with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees F for 10-15 minutes until lightly brown. Turn them halfway through baking.

3. Serve warm with salsa and/or guacamole.

There are so many possibilities with egg rolls.  I followed the recipe on this, but could imagine adding shredded chicken, sautéed peppers and onions, or any number of other things.  It’s a great way to use things you happen to have in your fridge.  We definitely ate these for dinner all on their own!

Italian Chicken Bombs January 19, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 10:09 am

My husband refers to anything chicken with cheese in the middle as “chicken bombs.”  I think this is what they called them when he was in the Navy.  Apparently that was one of the best lunch/dinner items they served on the ship.  So while this recipe was originally called Chicken Parmesan Roll-Ups, we’ve affectionately renamed it “Italian Chicken Bombs.”  These come together pretty quickly if you have one person pounding the chicken breasts out while the other puts together the tomato mixture.  If you’re feeling especially lazy, you could just layer the basil/cheese mixture, tomato mixture and breadcrumbs without rolling the chicken up.  Then it wouldn’t be quite as pretty, though.  Plus, it’s a bonus to get the flavor combination in every taste!

  Original Recipe From: Christy (The Girl Who Ate Everything)

  Original Recipe Located At:

  Italian Chicken Bombs


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can Italian style diced tomatoes (like Hunt’s brand)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 thin-cut, boneless, skinless chicken cutlets, about 1 1/4 pounds (or slice regular chicken breasts in half lengthwise to create your own cutlets)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs


1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Take mixture off the heat and stir in half of basil. Transfer half of sauce to 8-inch square baking dish or other baking dish (size doesn’t really matter here).

2. Combine mozzarella and Parmesan in medium bowl; reserve ½ cup of the mixture. Add remaining basil to remaining cheese. Pat cutlets dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Top cutlets with basil-cheese mixture, leaving 1-inch border at bottom of cutlets. Roll up tightly and arrange, seam side down, in prepared baking dish.

3. Toss bread crumbs with remaining oil in small bowl. Top chicken with reserved cheese, remaining sauce, and bread-crumb mixture.

4.  Bake until chicken is cooked through and crumbs are golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts you may have to cook them longer. I cooked mine for approximately 30 minutes.  If your breadcrumbs get too brown for your liking after about 15 minutes of cooking cover with foil for the remaining baking time.  I actually started with the foil on and then took it off about 10 minutes before it was done so that the breadcrumb topping got browned and crispy.  I was worried if I put the foil on top at the end, the moisture might make the topping soggy.


Molasses Clove Cookies January 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 7:54 pm

While visiting family for the holidays, my father-in-law received a box of baked goodies from Dancing Deer*.  I had never heard of them before, but all of the things were really good.  I particularly loved how soft and chewy the cookies were.  The molasses clove cookies were my favorite.  I kept thinking of them over the past few weeks, and a little web searching revealed a recipe that stated it was modeled after the Dancing Deer cookies.  The taste was spot on.  The cookies were a little less soft and chewy in their consistency, though.  They weren’t hard or crunchy, just a little more crumbly.  I’ll try to tweak it a bit next time since I prefer the chewy type.  As far as spices go, this was perfect!  *Absolutely no compensation or anything from Dancing Deer.  Just telling it like it is!


  Original Recipe Located At:

  Molasses Clove Cookies


  • 2 1/4 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons  ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon  ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon  ground ginger
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon  ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon  salt
  • 12 tablespoons  unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1/3 cup  packed light brown sugar (about 2 1/3 oz.)
  • 1/3 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1 large  egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup  molasses
  • 1/2 cup  sugar, for rolling the dough


1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or spray sheet with nonstick cooking spray. I used my silicone cookie pan liner.  Even if you don’t bake often, you should own one!
2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined; set aside.
3. Either by had or with an electric mixer, beat the butter with the brown sugar and the 1/3 cup granulated sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the yolk and vanilla; increase the speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds. By this point you have earned a least two cookies.  If you use the hand mixer like I did, your arm gets a real workout!
4. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the molasses; beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl once with a rubber spatula.
5. Reduce the speed to the lowest setting; add the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping the bowl down once. Give the dough a final stir by hand to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at the bottom. The dough will be soft.
6.  Place the 1/2 cup sugar for rolling in a shallow bowl. Fill a medium bowl halfway with cold tap water. Dip your hands into the water and shake off the excess (this will prevent the dough from sticking to your hands and ensure that the sugar sticks to the dough).
7.  Using a tablespoon measure, scoop a heaping tablespoon of dough and roll it between your moistened palms into 1 1/4- to 1 1/2- inch ball; drop the ball into the sugar and repeat to form about 4 balls. Toss the balls in sugar to coat and set them on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Repeat with the remaining dough, moistening your hands as necessary with the water.  My sister-in-law got me a cookie scoop for Christmas.  It makes things so much easier.
8. Bake until the cookies are browned, still puffy, and the edges have begun to set, but the centers are still soft (the cookies will look raw between the cracks and seem underdone), about 11 minutes, rotating the sheet from front to back half-way through the baking time. Do not overbake.
9. Cook the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer to the cookies to a wire rack; cool the cookies to room temperature.
While I absolutely adore chocolate, these are a great non-chocolate cookie.  As an added perk, no molten chocolate chips inside means you can practically eat them straight off the cookie sheet without burning your mouth! 


Smoky BBQ Vegan Chili January 13, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 12:59 am

Pretty much every chili recipe I come across I want to try.  They’re all appealing in their own different ways.  This one sounded interesting because of the not so secret BBQ sauce ingredient.  I’d also never cooked with black eyed peas before.  Honestly, that was the only part of this that was disappointing to me.  I “cheated” and used refrigerated black eyed peas that were on sale at the grocery store and said “no soaking required.”  I rinsed them and added them to the pot, which in my case was a crock pot.  The chili cooked on low all day.  Yet, somehow the black eyed peas still had too much bite to them for my taste.  Even the next day when I reheated a bowl of chili, they were not quite soft.  Maybe this is just the nature of black eyed peas.  Maybe other people like their firmness.  Maybe I’ll just put cannellini beans in next time and call it a day.  That rant aside, the chili was quite tasty.  Mine didn’t get quite as thick as the original recipe, I think because I cooked it in a crock pot where the liquid doesn’t evaporate the same way as it would cooking on the stove.

  Original Recipe From: Angela (Oh She Glows blog)

  Original Recipe Located At:

BBQ Vegan Chili 



  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 2.5 tbsp chili powder, or to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 1/2 cup dry/uncooked black eyed peas
  • 3/4 cup dry/uncooked black beans
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes, liquid drained
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste, to thicken
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds (or ground flax), to thicken
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 tbsp your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • couple handfuls of chopped spinach, or other greens like collard, kale, etc





1. Soak the beans in water overnight or for at least 3-4 hours. This part is optional, but it helps reduce cook time and makes the beans more digestible. Rinse and drain beans before using. In a large pot, add the oil and sauté the onion and garlic over medium-low heat for about 5-6 minutes, until translucent.


2. Add in the pepper and optional jalapeno and sauté for another 3-5 minutes.


3. Stir in the spices (chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne) and sauté on low another couple minutes. If you want, you can add just a bit for now and then add the rest to taste after it has cooked.


4. Add the dry black beans and black eyed peas, broth, and drained diced tomatoes. Stir well. Now stir in the tomato paste. Simmer on low with the lid ajar for about 2.5 hours, checking often to make sure it doesn’t dry out. If it does, add a bit more broth to thin out.


5. About 15 minutes before it’s done cooking, stir in the chia seeds, corn, and chopped greens. The chia helps thicken the chili. Also stir in the BBQ sauce, starting with 1 tbsp at a time and tasting as you go. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Can be made 2-3 days in advance and frozen if preferred.

We reheated this in a small crockpot for a weekend meal a few days after I made it originally and it was, as is always the case with chili, even better with time!