Normally at this time of year I'd also be regaling you with stories about the garden's glorious bounty. While the produce and herbs are coming along perfectly fine themselves, we unfortunately have attracted a family or two of voles, which have decimated all my early harvest lettuce, kale, heirloom peppers and some of my prized heirloom tomatoes. Until those pests are under control for good, I've decided to patrol my little plot every morning, filling in holes and mourning my losses. Needless to say, this year's haul might be somewhat spartan, and this realization has slightly deadened my usual drive to live the kitchen, heat be damned.
What has convinced me to crank up the oven lately are the almost weekly BBQ cookouts my family has. Voles aside, we have a spacious, well taken care of and (if I say so myself) rather pretty backyard, and now that our gazebo is once again securely anchored and screened in after an early season windstorm, it's a decently comfortable location for a small group to dine. While mom takes care of making the burgers, corn, salads and fruit trays, she's often too pressed for time to think about a secondary dessert option. I'm not saying fruit isn't a good Summer sweet, but one can only have so many slices of watermelon in an afternoon, and when there are kids involved you know eventually one of them is going to pine for "real dessert"!
In the interest of pleasing both the sweet teeth of all our guests as well as the goals of many of the adults to stay svelte this season (and their desire to limit the kids' sugar consumption) I devised these thin, cake-like banana bars. Essentially squares of indulgent chocolate-chip banana bread, they get a dense crumb and light tang from cream cheese that makes them perfect for a backyard BBQ or picnic lunch. The recipe makes a big pan's worth and freezes beautifully, making the most of your oven time in the midst of the summer heat. With all the chocolate chips peppered throughout, you'd never suspect they were vegan, nut free and full of fibre from oats and whole wheat. If you need to dress it up, just spoon over a handful of seasonal berries and grab a fork!
For #CreativeCookieExchange this month, we've decided that cheese makes everything better - even cookies! Sweet or savoury, you can find all sorts of inspiration here!
You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month!
If you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:
- Banana Chocolate Chip Bars by What Smells So Good?
- Black Bottom Mini Cream Cheese Brownie Cups by Karen's Kitchen Stories
- Cheddar Chive Shortbread by Food Lust People Love
- Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies by Magnolia Days
- Cream Cheese Kolachky by Oven Delights
- Geese Feet (Farmer's Cheese Cookies) by A Shaggy Dough Story
- Italian Ricotta Cookies by All That's Left Are The Crumbs
- Lemon Ricotta Cookies by A Baker's House
- Pepper Jack and Green Chile Cornbread Madeleines by Live. Bake. Love
- Spiced Parmigiano Scones by Spice Roots
- Tiramisu Sandwich Cookies by Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks
Banana Chocolate Chip Bars
Makes one 15x10 inch jelly roll pan, 36 pieces
¼ cup non-hydrogenated shortening
½ cup cream cheese (I used Tofutti)
⅓ cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp Lyle’s golden syrup (or corn syrup)
4 mashed over-ripe bananas
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup rolled oats
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
- Heat the oven to 350F and line a 15x10" jelly roll pan with parchment.
- In a bowl, beat together shortening, cream cheese, sugars, vanilla, golden syrup and bananas until smooth.
- Whisk together the flours, oats, nutmeg, baking powder and salt and add to the banana mixture, mixing to combine.
- Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, until firm.
- Cool completely in the pan before slicing
Total Fat: 3.6 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 20.5 mg
Total Carbs: 18.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.3 g
Protein: 1.6 g