Monday, March 22, 2010

Some Compassionate Easter Candy Ideas

Here's a link to a post I came across this morning for some great looking Easter goodies
Even though our kids are 31 and 27, I am going to give the Cadbury Creme Eggs a try...I think I even have some little eggs molds somewhere. I'll post a picture when I get them made.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Vegan Irish!

Here's some fun things to cook and drink ( of course! ) for St. Patrick's Day on the 17th, from Vegweb!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lazy Samoas ( rushed along )

I had given up on Girl Scout cookies...Samoas were my favorite...they were good but stubbornly not vegan, year after year. I hadnt even thought of Samoas for a good while. And I had thought after making and baking vegan for going on 4 years, that I had seen most of the ideas out there about baking vegan cookies. I even resisted checking out Isa Chandra Moskowitz's new( ish) book...Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. After all...what more could one possibly say/do about making vegan cookies? It had already been proven that not only was it possible to have great ( often superior ) animal-free baked goodies, so why bother? Well, luckily I happened to see VCTOYCJ at our local library, which in itself was a happy moment, and figured i had better see what it's all about ! A quick flip-through revealed a veganized version of ...of...Samoas!!!! I have to buy this book very soon ( and so should you :) ) , since the library would not appreciate me marking up their book, and I can take my time trying all the great looking recipes. Have a look at Vegwebs review of the cookbook, with lots of people chiming in with their experience making the recipes...a fantastic resource if you are wondering about how some recipes worked for others. Also check out this take on Lazy Samoas at The Bad Vegan.
Pictured above are some Lazy Samoas I made yesterday and took to a talk on Animal Behavior. A fellow compassionate cook ( who also organized the talk ) made some fantastic Peanutbutter Cookies too...maybe she'll post her recipe here for us...Meggin ? I ran out of time and so had to rush the drizzle on top, so they are not real pretty... but man, do they taste fantastic! Perfect blend of coconut and chocolate. Don't let the recipe's lengthy instructions scare you off...they come together very easily once you have things lined up. I toasted my coconut the night before. [My comments are in brackets]. Happy baking!
Here's the recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.
Lazy Samoas
2 cups grated unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup unrefined coconut oil [ I used's what I had]
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup nondairy milk [will try coconut milk next time!]
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

For Decorating:
1 cup chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper [do not be tempted to skip this step...they will stick]
2. Pour the grated coconut into a large heavy skillet and toast over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally and toast coconut to a light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Promptly remove the coconut from the heat and stir occasionally as it cools. If the coconut continues to turn overly brown [mine did!]promptly pour from the skillet into a large dish and spread around to hasten cooling and stop cooking.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut oil [warm a bit if it's too solid], brown sugar, nondairy milk, ground flax seeds, and the vanilla until well blended [i let it beat for a few minutes on low on my stand mixer] and smooth. Sift in the all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt and mix to form a batter [note: it'll be fairly soft...a batter, not a dough]. Fold in the coconut.
4. Scoop about 1 Tablespoon of dough 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie with the back of a measuring cup and use your fingers to work a small hole into each center. Bake for 8 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden.
5. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. Transfer the cooled cookies onto waxed paper, then place them on the onto a cutting board or other firm surface that can be easily slid onto a refrigerator shelf.
6. while cookies are cooling, melt chocolate chips in a microwave or double-boiler, then stir in the coconut oil into the melted chocolate [blend very well]. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool for about 5 minutes to thicken slightly. Dip cookie bottom into the chocolate and return them to the waxed paper. Now drizzle the remaining chocolate over the cookies, either by dipping a fork into the melted chocolate [ did not work for me] or by pouring the chocolate into a pastry bag fitted with a very small round tip [ i ran out of time and sloppily drizzled with a spoon ]. Chill cookies for at least 30 minutes to completely firm up the chocolate. Store the cookies in a loosely covered container in a very cool place.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Almonds on the Brain and the Road

Almonds have been on my mind a lot lately...whole unblanched or blanched, slivered or sliced and toasted, they are perfect to toss into a bowl of cereal, on top of a casserole or pilaf or just eaten out of hand,their flavor and nutritional profile are hard to beat. Lots of protein, calcium, iron and vitamin E. I like to keep some in a jar with other seeds and nuts in a jar as high energy road food.

Almond milk purchased in the tetra-paks at the grocery store are too sweet and weak...the homemade kind is so much better. Here's a great detailed tutorial at The Vegan Reader, and how I made almond milk earlier this week. It could not be easier : Pour 1 1/2 cups of whole unblanched or blanched almonds into a jar or bowl, cover with water and soak for 12 hours in the fridge, or up to 3 days ( if soaking longer than 12 hours, pour off the water after 12 hours and then rinse the almonds twice a day ). Toss the nuts into a blender along with 3 cups of filtered water and blend, blend, blend until it's ground up very fine. Pour the contents of the blender into a fine mesh sieve ( or colander ) that has been lined with several layers of cheese cloth and is straddling a bowl large enough to catch the milk. Let it drain for 10 minutes, then twist cheesecloth up so that you can wring out the almond pulp. Keep twisting and wringing until your hands cramp or you're not getting anymore milk. Save the pulp ( it's just enough! ) for the following cookie recipe, which btw, would also make great road food!

Almond Almond Cookies
Adapted from Christina Pirello's recipe for Pignoli Cookies in her wonderful "This Crazy Vegan Life" book. These are a soft, not too sweet cookie. Experiment with the kinds of flours and even the nuts that the cookies are rolled in.
Makes about 25 cookies. Preheat oven to 350.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 cup oil ( sunflower, safflower, avocado, canola...)
1 cup almond pulp
1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup, or maple syrup
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup almond milk ( see above !)
1 cup toasted, chopped almond slivers in a shallow bowl
Whisk together flours and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Combine oil, sugar, almond pulp and syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until well combined and smooth...about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in almond extract and almond milk and let cool for 15 minutes or so. Stir the almond mixture into the flour mixture and combine to make a soft, sticky dough. If it looks dry add a little more milk, if it's too wet, add a little more flour. Roll dough into 1 1/2" balls , then roll in the chopped almond slivers and arrange on the ungreased cookie sheet. Press down a little to flatten them out somewhat and to set the slivers into the cookie. These dont spread out much, so you can space them about 1" apart. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove cookies from sheet immediately and cool on a cookie rack.
Try to save some for the road.