Thursday, August 4, 2011

Frozen Sandwich Treats and Backyard Chicken Coops

Have you seen my post for Pumpkin-Vanilla Ice-Cream Sandwiches? The "creamy, dreamy," vegan banana "soft-serve" smushed between two chewy, oatie cookies that I lost my heart to:

Well this morning I tried a new flavor variation: Ginger-Pear & Vanilla. I also tried thinner cookies (I thought they were much too thick last time) and a new shape--square, instead of round.

Here's how I made them:

Make sure you have a frozen banana (chunked) in the freezer handy, like you would for any soft-serve recipe (if you haven't already seen those recipes, there's a link above). Before all else, to prepare for the vanilla center, stir together a 1/2 cup of almond milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract. Pour this into ice-cubes in an ice-cube tray and place in the freezer to solidify.
*Note: the amount of vanilla "soft-serve" that this makes is actually more than enough for the three cookie sandwiches. I just delighted in the extra stuff while I was cooking, or I could've just scooped it into a glass and stuck it in the freezer to eat soon after I was finished. If you don't want to have any extra (although I can't think of why you wouldn't--that stuff is delicious!), just lower the amount of milk.

Once you've gotten that out of the way, you can start the cookies. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a food processor of blender, puree one ripe pear, two tablespoons of almond (or other) milk, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. At this point, you can also add any sweetener desired (like stevia, cane sugar, honey, etc.), but I skipped this; for me, the pear alone is enough sweetness for the cookies, because I don't have much of a sweet tooth and rarely use sweeteners (I usually get it all from fruit).

In a separate bowl, make a flax "egg" by stirring together a tablespoon of flax meal with two tablespoons of water and letting it rest for a few minutes. Then stir in 1/2 cup oats, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger, a pinch of baking powder, and an even smaller pinch of baking soda. Mix the pear blend into the bowl, incorporating the wet with the dry to make your batter. Spoon this into a small baking dish (shallow is better) and spread into a thin (about 1/4 inch?) layer. Then bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. Remove and let cool for fifteen minutes or so, then let chill in the fridge for twenty, and then place in the freezer, leaving it in for at least another twenty, or until they're nice and cool and firm to the touch.

At this point, take out the dish and cut the cookie into six (for three, bar/square sandwiches) even pieces. If you wanted you could also funk things up a bit by cutting them into some other shape, or you could make different-size sandwiches. (Have fun with your food! I know I always do. ;-) ) Put the cookies back into the freezer. Before you use them for the sandwiches, they have to be very cold--if the cookies aren't cold enough, they'll make the filling mushier and your sandwiches will get very messy. Believe me.

Now you're ready to put together your sandwiches! Blend the frozen banana and milk-cubes (if your blender/processor can't handle ice, just leave the cubes out for a minute until they melt up a little) into smooth, creamy goodness. Immediately race to the freezer, grab your cookies, and get to spooning the filling onto half of them, topping each cookie with another to make your sandwiches. Get them into the freezer lickity-split before they start to melt! Leave them in for at least an hour, or until they're nice and solid and don't fall all over the place when you try to pick them up. You want them super cold (but not frozen solid, of course--I don't recommend leaving them in too long).

You can see how the vanilla filling got kind of smushy when I was putting them together. I was trying to get as much on there as possible. I should have cleaned them up a bit for their photoshoot, but I just wanted to eat them with all their yummy creamy center. ;-) I'll remember next time to make sure they come out nice and neat. Despite their sloppy appearance they were delicious, and gone in a flash--you don't have to worry about them melting when eat them! ;-)  Pear, ginger, and vanilla make a great team. And I was right to thin out the cookies--I like the sandwiches better that way; the Pumpkin-Oatmeal batch had too much cookie and not enough filling, and they were kind of hard to bite into, too thick. This way the filling-to-cookie ratio is perfect.

Moving on to another topic that isn't so mouth-watering: I might be getting pet chicks (which, of course, will eventually grow into chickens)! I think it would be so fun to have two downy little chickens to take care of. Especially when they're babies, but when they become full grown chickens as well. I think it'd be interesting to have pet chickens! Of course, I won't be eating the eggs (though my family will), but I'd love to have chickens as pets; I just like the idea of it. It has a kind of a coziness and hominess to it.

Aren't the little chickies just adorable? <333

We're going to build a little coop for them in the backyard. It'll have a little closed in area for them to peck around, though I'll let them out in the yard sometimes when I'm there to watch them (especially until we get the fence fixed up; right now there are holes and things, and we need chicken wire to keep out predators). I'm taking full responsibility for these chicks (no way I'd give any to my sisters, anyway!). I'll be constructing their coop with my dear ol' dad. What color should I paint it? Red? Bright green? Blue? Lavender? I can't decide!

I've been researching chickens--breeds, basic care, etc. Australorps, Buff Orpingtons, Brahmas, and a few other breeds are said to make the best pets. As soon as the coop is done, of course, we'll need to actually get the chicks, and I'm not quite sure where we're going to do that yet. If you're reading this and you know something about raising and caring for chickens, I'd love to hear any tips in the comments!

I'm superduper excited!!! :-D


What do you think of having chickens as pets?

Some people are bird people; some are not. I personally think it's wrong to clip a bird's wings and keep them in a small, confined cage inside a home. I always feel sad when I see them like that. Birds belong in the open air, where they can fly and live as nature intended. With having pet chickens, I won't have to clip their wings, and of course I won't be keeping them inside. They'll be living relatively naturally in my backyard. I'm convinced that they'll be happy there. :-)

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