Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Cookie Extravaganza!

Happy Holidays! Christmas is one of my favorite holidays, and this year was wonderful. I had to cram four family celebrations into two days, across the state of Maryland, but it was well worth it. I got to spend those two days with some of my favorite people on Earth.

This year, I made cookies for several holiday functions as well as gifts for numerous family, friends, and co-workers. I made approximately: 20 dozen chocolate chip cookies (note: this recipe says the butter should be chilled; it actually needs to be room temperature), 6 dozen sugar cookies, 2 dozen oatmeal raisin cookies, and 2 dozen Mexican chocolate snickerdoodles. I was a cookie-making machine.

All of the recipes I used came from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, except for the chocolate chip cookies. That recipe is my go-to for chocolate chip cookies and is published in Vegan with a Vengeance. I gifted dozens upon dozens of chocolate chip cookies, all to non-vegans and many of whom later said how yummy they were.

Like I said before, this is my absolutely favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. In the nearly four years I've been vegan, I tried (and rejected) many recipes before trying this one. My only issue with this recipe is that not all of the flour or chips incorporate into the dough. So I reduce the amount for both. I only use about a cup of chocolate chips, and reduce the amount of flour by about 1/4 cup. This way, the dough isn't too sticky, but it also mixes nicely. Real scientific, I know...

These sugar cookies are so yummy, but wow, they can be a pain. Be prepared with a cool kitchen and loads of patience. I had to chill my dough overnight; just a few hours in the refrigerator wasn't enough. Be sure to flour your surface and rolling pin; if the dough still tears and is too sticky, pat more flour onto the dough itself. This was a lot of trial-and-error, but with enough patience, it turned out really tasty. I brought these to a party on Friday; people scarfed them down within just a few hours.

Regrettably, I don't have a picture of the other two. They were really yummy, too! The Mexican chocolate snickerdoodles have a spicy kick thanks to the cayenne, but be sure to have a glass of almond milk on deck. You're gonna need it. And I'm not normally a fan of oatmeal cookies, but these were delicious! Even my brother liked them.

I hope your holiday was wonderful and filled with good company and good food!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Chocolate-Glazed Cake Donuts

Last weekend, I had a hankering for donuts. This was a pretty easy recipe to throw together. The only issue was that the recipe said it would make 6 full-sized donuts. And I'm pretty sure my donut pans are full-sized. So when I started piping the batter in the pan, I thought to myself, "Dang, this is a lot of batter for just six donuts. But Mama Pea's recipes are always legit... so I guess this is all for six donuts."

Wrong. Very, very wrong. These donuts had the worst muffin top I've ever seen. Ever. Note to self: trust your instincts, dummy. 

Even though they look ridiculous and I felt like a moron, they were still delicious. 

This recipea comes from the Peas and Thank You blog.

Ingredients (Makes 6 full-size donuts)
  • 1 c. unbleached organic flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 c. vegan margarine (i.e. Earth Balance), melted
  • 3/4 c. non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c. organic sugar
Chocolate glaze:
  • 1/2 c. non-dairy chocolate chips
  • 1 T. coconut oil
  • Optional: organic sprinkles
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • In a small bowl (or just in your liquid measuring cup), combine melted margarine, milk, vanilla and sugar. Mix until sugar has dissolved.
  • Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  • You’ll need a donut pan like this.
  • I found mine at Crate + Barrel and bought it on the spot. And then I bought a one-piece bathing suit.
  • Pipe or spoon batter into a donut pan that has been lightly greased or sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes or until donuts are firm to the touch. Allow donuts to cool in pan for approximately 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  • For glaze, melt chocolate and oil in a shallow bowl, either using a microwave in 30-second increments or a double boiler.
  • Dip each donut in chocolate and top with sprinkles, if desired.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Simple Cabbage and Chickpea Soup with Fresh Basil

Right around the time my leg started feeling better, I came down with a cold. That was four weeks ago. My cold has worn out its welcome, but it is a rude visitor and doesn't care. It's also been cold. Really cold. As soon as the mercury dips below 50, I'm over winter.

Given these two factors, little else sounds as appetizing as yummy, comforting soup. This cabbage soup comes from Fat Free Vegan. It really is quite simple and so easy to put together, but it tastes amazing. Give it a go if you want a delicious, warm, comforting meal!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pillows

I'm planning to bake a boat load of cookies for Christmas, but there are a few new recipes I want to try out before I give away cookies to people. This was one such recipe! An Isa creation, I wasn't too worried about the success of these little pieces of heaven, but still... I like testing things out first.

These required a little time, but were relatively easy to put together. And the marriage of chocolate and peanut is always, always, always a good idea! I took these into work, so that, ya know, I wouldn't eat them all myself. My co-workers and I agree: these are fantastic!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows
makes 2 dozen cookies
Chocolate dough:
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened dutch processed cocoa powder
2 tablespoons black unsweetened cocoa or more dutch processed unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup natural salted peanut butter, crunchy or creamy style
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons soy creamer or non-dairy milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl combine oil, sugar, maple syrup, non-dairy milk and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Sift in flour, cocoa powder, black cocoa if using, baking soda and salt. Mix to form a moist dough.
Make the filling. In another mixing bowl beat together peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar, 2 tablespoons of soy creamer and vanilla extract to form a moist but firm dough. If peanut butter dough is too dry (as different natural peanut butters have different moisture content), stir in remaining tablespoon of non-dairy milk. If dough is too wet knead in a little extra powdered sugar.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line bakings sheet with parchment paper.
Shape the cookies. Create the centers of the cookies by rolling the peanut butter dough into 24 balls. Scoop a generous tablespoon of chocolate dough, flatten into a disc and place a peanut butter ball in the center. Fold the sides of the chocolate dough up and around the peanut butter center and roll the chocolate ball into an smooth ball between your palms. Place on a sheet of waxed paper and repeat with remaining doughs. If desired gently flatten cookies a little, but this is not necessary.
Place dough balls on lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart and bake for 10 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and let cookies for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to complete cooling. Store cookies in tightly covered container. If desired warm cookies in a microwave for 10 to 12 seconds before serving.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Untoppable Black Bean Soup

The recipe for this amazing black bean soup comes from Peas and Thank You. This was ridiculously easy to make, and so flavorful. I topped mine with sour cream, hot sauce, and cilantro. So perfect for chilly days!