Veganisms

I have a confession to make.

Thinking of original recipes, putting together indoor light lamps, photographing every step of the cooking process, editing photos, and coming up witticisms about pictures of my food seems like absolute drudgery these days.

I have also been feeling exceptionally uninspired lately.

The thing is I still like to read blogs, peruse cookbooks, shop for unique ingredients, put together meal plans, try new recipes, find fun workouts, learn about nutrition, holistic health, the human body, and talk about all things vegan.

In fact, I could spend a whole weekend doing those things.

I could even spend a whole cold, dreary, gray January weekend, curled up in my favorite fleece blanket putting together a list of all my favorite food, health, and wellness things.

I could spend the better part of a day paging through any and all cookbooks, but when I need some meal planning help, it’s a short list:

Veganomican

Veganomicon

by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

If you’re making your foray into vegan cooking, and you can only afford one cookbook, this is the one to buy. It has everything you will ever need to be able to cook wholesome and delicious vegan food for the rest of your life. It contains recipes from every category including appetizers, snacks, dips, spreads, brunch, salads, dressings, sandwiches, vegetables, grains, beans, soups, casseroles, tofu, tempeh, pasta, breads, cookies, and desserts.

Not only that, it has basic cooking guides for grains, vegetables, and beans so you can try a variety of techniques and put together your own meals.

It is literally an encyclopedia of cooking and recipes.

Mine is splattered with various batters and sauces because every recipe I have tried has been awesome. Usually, I find only one or two recipes I make more than once from a cookbook, but this book is filled with recipes that will become part of your weekly rotation.

I promise.

When I’m looking for lower calorie fare, I reach for

Appetite for Reduction

Appetite for Reduction

by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

What can I say? This girl has it going on. All of her food is so, so good! This book is packed with salads, dressings, hummus, veggies, pasta, soups, and comforting stews and chili. If it sounds plain, it’s because I’m not a good enough writer to properly do it justice. However,  let the recipes speak for themselves:

Sanctuary Chef Salad

Green Goddess Garlic Dressing

Catalan Couscous Salad with Pears and Romanesco Dressing

OMG Oven Baked Onion Rings

Butternut Coconut Rice

Garlicky Mushrooms and Kale

Mac and Trees

Lotsa Veggie Lentil Soup

Veggie Potpie Stew

Some of the recipes sound exotic, but they are all simple and are perfect for the weeknight meal rotation. Plus they are filled with whole grains, veggies, beans, and aren’t excessive in fat or calories. I also appreciate that it includes the nutritional stats for each recipe for those who like to keep track of that sort of thing.

If you read the blog with any regularity, you have seen this book pop up from time to time:

VEGAN COOKIES INVADE YOUR COOKIE JAR

Vegan cookies invade your cookie jar

It’s because it’s filled with no-fuss  cookie recipes that no one would ever guess are vegan. They are real cookies. None of that health food crap pretending to be a classic cookie. It’s fat, sugar, and flour and all your childhood memories mixed together in a bowl and baked until the tears from the realization that adulthood is hard have dried up.

The book I’m looking forward to cooking from:

Betty Goes Vegan

Betty Goes Vegan

by Betty and Dan Shannon

This book is also an encyclopedia of vegan cookery and I can’t wait to get crackin’. Vegan Betty has a little bit of everything but all 500(!) recipes are inspired from traditional Betty Crocker recipes. It’s a combination of nutritious eats and veganized comfort food classics, and there is a recipe for every occasion including:

Blueberry Banana Bread Pancakes

Mediterranean Salad

Vegan Ranch Dressing

Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

French Toast Biscotti

Pizza Bread

Peanut Butter Egg Cookies

Doughnuts

More Doughnuts

Inside Out Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Hazlenut Pudding

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

There are also plenty of recipes for sauces, dressings, pie crusts, puddings, and frostings to add to foods already in your arsenal.

A word of warning: Many of the recipes in the book contain processed vegan meat and cheese replacements. It’s nothing to get in a huff about but don’t get all pissed off at me if you buy the book hoping for 100% whole foods. Remember, its imitating the meat and cheese goddess of the 20th century. And personally, I have no problem having those things on occasion. I try not to make them staples of my diet, but if I’m hankering for pizza, then Daiya cheese just might find its way on top of it. All things in moderation and all that blah, blah, blah.

The book I want but don’t have:

Vegetarian Flavor Bible

Vegetarian flavor bible

I’m depending on this book to make up for my shortcomings as a self-taught home cook and help me put together foods and flavors that go beyond peanutbutter/banana and tomato/basil. I like to experiment but since time, money, and resources are at a premium, I’d sure appreciate not having to throw away a whole cake because I was just so sure it needed two tablespoons of cardamom powder.

And in the things you need to know category:

THIN MINTS ARE NOW VEGAN!

Vegan Thin Mints

Sure, we could get in a debate about the best tasting Girl Scout Cookie but we all know that there is one cookie that punches every other cookie in it’s sweet, sweet face.

Thin Mints have always been my all-time favorite Girl Scout cookie.

And now those cute, little cookie monsters have made them Vegan.

I shall enjoy them by the sleeve and make sure that each and every tooth is crusted in Thin Mint Cookie crumbs.

Thin Mints

I’ll be back at a later undisclosed date and time with more randomness floating around my brain space!

*Note: Some people get compensated for featuring things on their blog. I am not one of those people. This is just a list of stuff I truly, actually like.

Hot Cocoa Cookie Cups

This is what winning looks like:

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Well, not that.

That looks like third place.

And only if I was registered as a walker instead of a runner.

This is what winning really looks like:

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Those are hot cocoa cookie cups.

And they are the best.

I have evidence.

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Hot Cocoa Cookie Cups are everything you love about Christmas sweets all wrapped up into one little chocolate package.

Hot chocolate cookies.

Vanilla Whipped Buttercream Frosting.

Rich, chocolate ganache.

I shouldn’t even share this recipe because it’s the best damn thing to come out of my kitchen since, well, the last winning recipe.

Peppermint whoopie pies

But in the spirit of the season, I will share the recipe with you because you simply must make them.

Oh, by the way, set aside about, oh,  six hours or so,  because these babies are a little labor intensive.

I started by organizing everything I would need for all three cookie components.

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The cookie recipe I used, Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles, was lightly adapted from my all-time favorite cookie book.

Vegan cookies invade your cookie jar

To make the

Hot Cocoa Cookies:

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

3 tablespoons non-dairy milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetend cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, mix the oil, sugar, syrup, milk, and extracts.

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Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

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Mix until a pliable dough forms (add additional flour by the tablespoon, if needed).

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Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let chill while you prepare the frosting.

I used a basic buttercream recipe directly from my second favorite book:

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

For the

Vanilla Whipped Buttercream Frosting:

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine

3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup non-dairy milk

Beat the shortening and margarine together until creamy and fluffily. Add in the powdered sugar about 1/4 cup at a time, alternating with a small amount of milk. Add the vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.

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Now, put the frosting in the fridge until ready to use.

Remove the cookie dough from the fridge.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll tablespoon amount into balls and place in mini-muffin pan.

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Press down with your thumb to create the cookie cup.

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Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.

They will puff up when they bake, but I pressed them back down at about 8 minutes and finished cooking for an additional two minutes.

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*Tidbit: It’s better for them to be a touch underdone so the sides do not get too hard. Check them at 8 and 10 minutes.*

Remove from pan and allow to cool.

While they are cooling, prepare your ganache, also taken directly from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

To make the

Chocolate Ganache:

1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used dark chocolate almond)

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

In a small saucepan, bring almond milk to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat and add the semi-sweet chocolate and maple syrup. Stir until completely smooth.

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To assemble the cookie cups:

Add a small spoonful of the ganache to each cookie up.

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Pipe or spoon in buttercream frosting.

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Drizzle with additional ganache.

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I added a small peppermint stick to half.

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I added these cupcake toppers to the other half for the peppermint haters.

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Here they are before the competition:

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These cookie cups are definitely winners.

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I hope you decide to devour some!

In case you’re wondering why I walked my 5k, it’s because there are two people in this photo!

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You can learn all about the Peanut Baby I’ve been cooking up at

www.pbjandshay.com

Happy Cooking!

Life's Little Gems

I was watching 60 year old Christmas movies starring a cast of puppets and strings, when I was moved by a particular scene.

Santa was galavanting around town pretending to be, um, not Santa when he starts chatting up a young boy.

Can you name this movie? I’ll send a batch of cookies to the first person with the right answer!

Due to a nasty cold, Not Santa Santa sneezes, which alarms the young boy’s mother.

Upon learning that it was actually that it was not her son that was suffering from sinus issues, the mother promptly invites her son’s “new friend” into the house and offers a nice home remedy to combat his cold.

That would NEVER happen today.

Today we would assume that man was probably some sort of pedophile who was trying to take advantage of an innocent little boy.

We would probably call the police, or at the very least, punch him in the jingle bells.

Essentially we have become so jaded and so cynical, we don’t even trust Santa anymore.

And if you can’t trust Santa, who can you trust?

All of this got me thinking about the 12 Challenges of 2012.

Thanks to my co-workers generosity, we were able to raise enough money to provide a full Thanksgiving meal for a family in need as part of November’s challenge.

For December’s challenge, I put some serious thought into adopting a family for Christmas.

But cynicism was sucking the spirit of the season right out of me.

What if the family sells the gifts for drugs?

What if the kids get mad and break the gifts in fit of rage?

What if they’re not grateful because the gifts aren’t good enough?

But Christmas is about having faith.

And goodwill towards men.

And other catchy snippets of songs that remind us not to be so grinchy.

So this year, I am going to have faith that if I choose to adopt a family, the money and gifts will go exactly where they need to go.

And you can have faith that even though the ingredients in this recipe might sound unusual, they make one fantastic tasting cookie.

It’s the softest, chewiest, gingerbread cookie you’ll eat all season.

GINGERBREAD GEMS

1 (8 oz) package of pitted dates

2 tablespoons molasses

1/2 cup flour

*Tidbit: I used white whole wheat for this recipe. You can use 1/2 cup finely ground oats to make a gluten free cookie!

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4-1/3 cup turbinado sugar (for rolling)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Add dates and molasses to a food processor and process until dates are finely chopped.

Add flour, spices, and salt.

Process until mixture forms a ball.

Use a tablespoon or cookie scoop to divide mixture into about 24 cookies.

Roll into a ball.

Press each ball gently with the palm of your hand to flatten into a disk.

Roll each disk in the turbinado sugar.

Tidbit: Turbinado sugar (raw sugar) is larger and more coarse than regular white sugar giving the cookies a golden sparkle and a bit of crunch.

Place on baking sheet about one inch apart.

Bake for about six minutes.

Remove from oven and cool completely to allow cookie to set.

This Christmas, I have faith.

And I believe.

I believe in Santa.

I believe that Christmas movies that feature puppets and claymation are the best Christmas movies of all time.

I believe that we need to go back to a time where we helped our neighbors.

And I believe cookies made with dates might be just what you need to help you get the spirit back in Christmas.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Makin' Whoopie

On Saturday, this happened.

And then this happened.

Everyone trains differently for races.

But when there’s a cookie contest following the race, the extent of my training consists of running to the store for more flour and sugar.

Santa personally requested you leave a plate of these cookies on December 24th.

The real training involves not eating all of them before the big guy arrives.

Peppermint Whoopie Pies will have you running to the kitchen to steal another one of these sweet Christmas treats. Thick peppermint filling is sandwiched between dark chocolate cake cookies to make one delectable whoopie that will keep you on the nice list for years to come. 

Peppermint Whoopie Pies

(vegan)

For the cookies:

1/2 cup non-dairy milk, warmed

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup non-dairy margarine, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup dutch process cocoa powder

2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons HOT coffee or water

For the peppermint filling:

1/2 cup non-dairy margarine, softened

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract (or to taste)

1-2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

Optional garnish: 6 crushed candy canes

*Tidbit: The secret to getting a good rise from these cookies is letting the batter rest before baking. Mix the batter and then pre-heat the oven for perfectly cake-y cookies.

Mix warmed soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside to curdle.

Cream softened margarine and sugar.

Add warmed soy milk and whisk until sugar is dissolved.

Stir in vanilla extract.

Add flour, cocoa powders, baking powder and salt.

Mix gently until combined and  then stir in HOT coffee.

Stir until batter is smooth.

Pre-heat oven.

Scoop teaspoon sized amount of batter onto cookie sheet for mini whoopie pies or tablespoon sized amount for regular whoopie pies.

Bake for 6-8 minutes or until edges are set.

Remove from oven and allow to cool before filling.

To make filling:

Beat softened margarine and shortening until fluffy.

Add confectioners’ sugar 1/4 cup at a time.

Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon of non-dairy milk.

Add additional non-dairy milk until desired texture.

Spoon filling onto cookie and top with another cookie.

Roll in crushed candy canes, if desired.

Makes about 12 mini whoopie pies.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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Lovin' from the Oven

It seems like all of my friends are pregnant right now.

Now I know what you all were doing when you said you were too busy for girls night out.

Heh.

You were busy all right.

I do love watching the growing baby bump and knowing that a little human being is cooking in there.

But I try not to stand to close to the pregnant ladies.

Because it’s inevitable that I get asked when I’m going to have one of my own.

That and it might be contagious and I don’t want to catch anything.

But guess what?

I do have a little bun in the oven.

Or bread, rather.

This little guy is the apply of my eye.

It’s made with homemade apple butter from the pantry,

making this a March Clean Eating Recipe!


Using apple butter makes this bread super moist and tender. It’s also quite hearty thanks to white whole wheat flour and flax seeds. It has a deep apple flavor and warms you up from the inside out. A hot cup of coffee and a thick slice of apple butter bread is a great way to enjoy a chilly morning on the porch. 

Apple Butter Bread

2 tablespoons ground flax seed + 2 tablespoons water

1  3/4 cup white whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups apple butter

1/2 cup turbinado or light brown sugar

2 tablespoons canola oil

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flax seed and water in a medium sized bowl and set aside to thicken.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

Oops! Don’t forget the cinnamon!

Add apple butter, sugar, and oil to flax mixture.

Stir in the flour, just until combined.

The batter will be super thick.

Spread batter in a loaf pan.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until browned on top and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

If you're looking for a quick Easter breakfast, this bread is great egg hunting fuel!

For those of you that want to know when I am having a baby,

let me just say this will be the only thing coming out of my oven for a very long time.

Keep calm and March on!

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Lovin’ from the Oven

It seems like all of my friends are pregnant right now.

Now I know what you all were doing when you said you were too busy for girls night out.

Heh.

You were busy all right.

I do love watching the growing baby bump and knowing that a little human being is cooking in there.

But I try not to stand to close to the pregnant ladies.

Because it’s inevitable that I get asked when I’m going to have one of my own.

That and it might be contagious and I don’t want to catch anything.

But guess what?

I do have a little bun in the oven.

Or bread, rather.

This little guy is the apply of my eye.

It’s made with homemade apple butter from the pantry,

making this a March Clean Eating Recipe!


Using apple butter makes this bread super moist and tender. It’s also quite hearty thanks to white whole wheat flour and flax seeds. It has a deep apple flavor and warms you up from the inside out. A hot cup of coffee and a thick slice of apple butter bread is a great way to enjoy a chilly morning on the porch. 

Apple Butter Bread

2 tablespoons ground flax seed + 2 tablespoons water

1  3/4 cup white whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups apple butter

1/2 cup turbinado or light brown sugar

2 tablespoons canola oil

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flax seed and water in a medium sized bowl and set aside to thicken.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

Oops! Don’t forget the cinnamon!

Add apple butter, sugar, and oil to flax mixture.

Stir in the flour, just until combined.

The batter will be super thick.

Spread batter in a loaf pan.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until browned on top and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

If you're looking for a quick Easter breakfast, this bread is great egg hunting fuel!

For those of you that want to know when I am having a baby,

let me just say this will be the only thing coming out of my oven for a very long time.

Keep calm and March on!

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All Apologies

I didn’t want to overwhelm you with awesomeness after Sunday’s Brownie Batter post.

Morracan Carrot Salad and Brownie Batter Dip 408

So I waited until now to share the biscotti recipe that is the perfect vehicle for you know what.

But I owe you an apology first.

I don’t apologize often because I like to just pretend that I’m perfect and don’t make mistakes.

But if you make the recipe with the suggested ingredient alternatives, you might not like it and then you’ll KNOW I’m not perfect.

Then I’ll be perfectly pissed off.

Which leads to furrowed eyebrows, which leads to wrinkles, which leads to more imperfections.

So I’m going to fix my mistake.

Then you and I are going to pretend that it never happened in the first place.

Deal?

Perfect.

I said in the last post that you could omit the black cocoa powder and use all regular cocoa powder instead.

I lied.

You can’t.

It’s just not as good.

So don’t do it.

Whew.

I feel better now that my delusions have been restored.

Hey, is that a unicorn?

Morracan Carrot Salad and Brownie Batter Dip 445

Oh, no, that’s just my perfectly amazing almond biscotti recipe.

Morracan Carrot Salad and Brownie Batter Dip 109

Almonds are filled with health benefits-especially when they're filling your stomach and not the space in your freezer. This is another March "clean eating" recipe!

Made from whole wheat flour, almonds, and a hint of orange, this biscotti is perfect for dunking in your favorite latte or scooping up brownie batter dip.

Almond Biscotti

Morracan Carrot Salad and Brownie Batter Dip 453

¼ cup non-dairy milk + 2 tablespoons ground flax seed

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1/3 cup turbinado sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons orange zest

¼ cup water

1 cup chopped almonds

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine non-dairy milk and flax seed.

Morracan Carrot Salad and Brownie Batter Dip 111

Set aside for 5 minutes to thicken.

Meanwhile….

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and orange zest.

Morracan Carrot Salad and Brownie Batter Dip 113

Add thickened flax and water.

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Stir to until thick dough forms.

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Add almonds and mix thoroughly.

Morracan Carrot Salad and Brownie Batter Dip 124Morracan Carrot Salad and Brownie Batter Dip 126

Shape dough into a log and flatten slightly with your hands.

Morracan Carrot Salad and Brownie Batter Dip 128

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for at least 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Cut into 8 slices using a serrated knife.

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Place slices back on baking sheet so they are upright.

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Return to oven and bake for 26-28 minutes, or until firm and slightly crispy.

Morracan Carrot Salad and Brownie Batter Dip 353

Remove from oven and cool completely.

Morracan Carrot Salad and Brownie Batter Dip 496

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This almond biscotti gets an A in my book.

Because I always get A’s

Because I’m perfect.

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The Cookie Police

I don’t have a lot of personal experience with the police.

Except for that time I was questioned about credit card theft.

(It wasn’t me)

And the time I was caught underage drinking in college.

(Honesty is NOT the best policy)

((Run like hell is))

And the time I got into a car accident….with a bus.

(I didn’t see it?)

The woman on the bus that sued me might have needed a police officer.

To stop me from punching her in her “whiplashed” face.

Just so you know ma’am, suing three people in the same year seems slightly suspicious.

I suggest you take your 100 grand and get right with God.

But I digress.

When the police aren’t chasing around drunken college idiots and writing up accidents involving  major city transportation systems, they are doing very important things.

Like capturing the true credit card thieves.

(I told you it wasn’t me)

They also pretty much save the world on a pretty regular basis.

The nature of my job actually does require a fair amount of police interaction, and I thought it would be nice if I could find a way to say thank you for all of their hard work and dedication.

And for not making spend a night in the drunk tank.

The agency I work for was kind enough to let me hold a cookie drive (RAK!) so that I could deliver batches of homemade cookies to each of the state police troops in the county.

Now this is a big, fat cliche, but when I think of cops, I think of coffee.

I mean, they need a good cup of joe to carry them through exhausting shifts of busting bad guys.

Espresso is nice, but I have a feeling police try to avoid things that come in shots.

Like espresso.

And bullets.

The solution?

A cookie with two kinds of chocolate, coffee, and freshly chopped coffee beans mixed right into the batter.

It is the perfect balance of  bitter coffee and sweet cookie.

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MOCHA JAVA COOKIES

½ cup non-dairy butter

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon chia seeds + ¼ cup brewed coffee

2 squares (2 oz) semi-sweet chocolate, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ¼  cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

¼-1/2 cup chopped coffee beans

Chia seeds are much cooler than chia pets. The seeds offer fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, and heart healthy omega -3's. Chia pets just die because no one EVER remembers to water the chia pet.

Combine chia seeds and coffee and set aside for five minutes to gel.

When combined with liquid, chia seeds make an excellent replacement for eggs in vegan baking.

In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

For a chewy, brownie-like cookie, reduce flour by 1/4 cup.

In a large bowl, cream the non-dairy butter and sugar.

Add chia mixture, melted chocolate and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly.

Add dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Fold in chopped coffee beans.

Since the coffee flavor is prominent in this cookie, make sure to use a high quality bean. If you have extra because you don't regularly use whole beans, you can put the leftovers in glass vases and have a great smelling centerpiece.

Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough into a ball and place on a cookie sheet.

Tidbit: These look much better if you take the time to roll them into balls instead of just dropping the dough on the cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

The cookies will be very soft when they come out of the oven. Let them cool completely before shoving them in your face.

Bag the evidence.

Don’t forget the K-9 unit.

Thank you to all of the men and women who work hard to keep our community safe.

We appreciate all that you do!

You have the right to remain RAK’D!

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The Big V

Veggin’.

That’s what my friend calls me.

The veggin.’

I kind of like the name.

It’s funny.

It seems weird to me, though, to identify  myself as ” a vegetarian” or  “a vegan.”

No one else walks around saying “I’m an omnivore” and making loud proclamations during the staff luncheon that they DO eat meat.

I eat food.

I don’t define myself by it.

But if I did,

I would be vegan.

I would be

A

BIG

FAT

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE

VEGAN

MUFFIN.


Just because baked goods don’t contain eggs or dairy, doesn’t mean that can’t be insanely delicious.

The cocoa, chocolate chips, and cherries make this muffin decadent enough for dessert while the whole wheat flour and applesauce in place of oil make them perfect for a special occasion breakfast treat.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHERRY MUFFINS

1 cup soy milk +2 teaspoons cider vinegar

8 oz. no-sugar added applesauce (2 single serve containers)

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

½ cup cocoa powder

1 cup turbinado sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped

½ cup dried tart cherries, chopped

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix soy milk and cider vinegar and set aside to curdle.

Meanwhile, sift together flour, cocoa powder, sugar,  baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, mix applesauce, canola oil, vanilla, and curdled soy milk.

Add liquid mixture to dry mixture and stir just to combine.

Fold in chocolate chips and dried cherries.

Vegan tidbit: Check the label on the chocolate chips to make sure they don't contain any dairy products. I use Ghiradelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips or Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.

Bake  14-16 minutes.

I had a little extra batter, but I was out of regular muffin tins, so I made mini muffins.

Tidbit: Because this batter only uses baking soda to leaven, you want to make sure you get them in the oven within five minutes of mixing them.

Makes 12 muffins + 8 mini muffins

It’s good to be veggin’.

*For more vegan inspired meals, check out the VEGANMOFO blog!

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Dreaming of a White Christmas

One of my all-time favorite Christmas movies is White Christmas.

I tear up every time I see Bing Crosby in the battle field serenading his entire division with memories of the glistening white stuff while bombs are exploding just beyond their camp.

In real life, the war in Iraq might be over but that doesn’t necessarily mean that troops will make it home in time to see their families for the holidays.

Even stateside, there are thousands of soldiers that will only get to dream of a white Christmas.

Dover Air Force Base hosts Operation Cookie Drop every year so that the young Airman that can’t make it home for the holidays can enjoy some homemade treats.

 I wanted to bring them something they don’t get to see in Delaware very often.

Snow.

The classic sugar cookie gets revamped with coconut extract and flaked coconut so that you can stop dreaming about a white Christmas and start eating it.

Snowflake Cookies

(Vegan)

½ cup vegan margarine (I used Smartbalance Organic)

1 ½ cup confectioners sugar

¼ cup coconut milk + 2 teaspoons cider vinegar

½ teaspoon coconut extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

Mix coconut milk and cider vinegar. Set aside. Beat margarine and confectioners sugar together for 3-4 minutes. Add coconut milk and extract. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to wet ingredients and stir to combine.

If dough is too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Form into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for one hour or overnight.

Roll to 1/4″ thickness onto surface dusted with confectioners sugar.

Dusting your surface with confectioners sugar instead of flour ensures that you will get a sweet cookie that's not too dry.

Cut with snowflake shaped cookie cutter.

I wanted to make gingerbread men holding M-16's but I couldn't find a semi-automatic cookie cutter.

Repeat until dough is gone.

Place two inches apart on cookie sheet.

Tidbit: These cookies only need to bake for a short time otherwise you will end up with a crispy cookie. If the bottoms are brown, you've cooked them too long. They should look doughy and under-baked when they come out of the oven.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 6 minutes.

Let cool for five minutes and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Coconut Icing:

2 cups confectioners sugar

3-4 tablespoons coconut milk

¼ teaspoon coconut extract

1 cup flaked coconut (for garnish)

Mix sugar, coconut milk, and extract. Add additional milk if necessary.

Spread each cookie with icing and top with flaked coconut.

Snowflake Cookies

Full Recipe

½ cup vegan margarine (I used Smartbalance Organic)

1 ½ cup confectioners sugar

¼ cup coconut milk + 2 teaspoons cider vinegar

½ teaspoon coconut extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

Mix coconut milk and cider vinegar. Set aside. Beat margarine and confectioners sugar together for 3-4 minutes. Add coconut milk and extract. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to wet ingredients and stir to combine.

If dough is too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Form into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for one hour or overnight.

Roll to 1/4″ thickness onto surface dusted with confectioners sugar.

Cut with snowflake shaped cookie cutter. Repeat until dough is gone.

Place two inches apart on cookie sheet.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 6 minutes.

Let cool for five minutes and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

 Coconut Icing:

2 cups powdered sugar

3-4 tablespoons coconut milk

¼ teaspoon coconut extract

1 cup flaked coconut (for garnish)

Spread each cookie with icing and top with flaked coconut.

Thank you to all those who serve.

May God Bless you and keep you safe this holiday season.

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