Monday, January 26, 2015

Vegan Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Extra Chocolate Chips (and a smidgen of hazelnut flour I had left over from a "flour-buying" spree: Love. These.)

I took our food pantry completely apart one afternoon. I re-sorted, re-arranged and basically brought some sanity into the kitchen. In my journey to creating a much neater, more organized life, I discovered I had amassed four different flours (aside from your basic all-purpose and bread flour). So really, I had like eight flours on hand (plus two gigantic bags of slivered almonds!) Why? I remember having this really crazy notion in November (when we all have visions of a "Jimmy Stewart" kind of holiday): "Wouldn't it be great to make ALL kinds of cookies this Christmas with ALL kinds of different flours!?" That'd really UP my cookie baking game!. . . And then the really busy time of December and reality of life/puppy raising set in and here I was in January staring at four bags of flours I had no idea what to do with. The hazelnut flour spoke to me the most. I was NOT going to let this bag perish. 

This chocolate chip cookie has become The. One. I've made this recipe over and over so many times, it would be the "the one" I'd take with me to a food competition (should I ever find myself in such circumstance). Even when I feel I may have added too much flour or not mixed the vegan butter enough, the outcome is the same; pure chocolate chip cookie awesomeness: a little chewy in the middle and a nice crunchy edge (not so crunchy that after a day of storing them, your cookie texture suddenly morphs into a cracker)--not this cookie. It requires very little effort, comes together quickly, and you can bake them right away and/or chill the dough for several nights--scoop out the cookies as you'd like, bake and viola, fresh cookies. . . again. 

It originally came from Food52. If you ask me, the recipe is about as perfect a chocolate chip cookie recipe you will find. And truthfully, for as many cookies I've posted in this genre, there was me thinking, seriously, WHY post another chocolate chip cookie recipe? Because. If you bake a perfect anything, and you've baked it over and over again and it still holds up, then, I feel "obligated". There were, however, problems I had to overcome: the eggs, the butter, the adjustments for my own tastes in cookies--chocolate-to-cookie ratio and such. I like a lot of chocolate chip. Basically, I like to bite into a mound of chips that are being held together by a bit of dough. I've been known to add chips to the rolled cookie dough just to be sure there's a good gob of chocolate going on in the cookie. Another little trick I've found (and I love) is that I've been lately adding more vanilla extract to my baking and it takes the cookie to a Wow level. So if you see the recipe below and think, That can't be right--there's too much vanilla in here. Um. Nope. Just trust me. 
This is the dough after setting in the fridge and me just taking out one night to scoop out fresh baked cookies. I use a small cookie scooper. It will firm up to a stiff dough, but that's okay. It'll relax once it's in the oven baking.
Then this is me thinking, "What the heck, make 'em ALL!" And then promptly turning around to make more dough so as not to run out and be left cookie-less one evening.
Our big girl is now in her sixth month! She is the best girl ever. (Next to her sissy, who is Number One best girl forever and ever, amen.) The walks we take are now more of giant sprints and me catching up to her breathless. It is a complete upper and lower body workout. 

Vegan Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Extra Chocolate Chips and Hazelnut Flour
*makes about 18 cookies--double the recipe if you'd like more

1/2 cup vegan butter (one stick Earth Balance)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup regular sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground flax seed (mixed with 2 teaspoons water and 1 teaspoon EVOO--for the egg)
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (spooned into the cup and leveled off)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon hazelnut flour
1/4 cup spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of fine sea salt
1/3 cup whole pecans (finely chopped)
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips  

Preheat oven to 375. Mix your flax seed and water mixture in a small bowl and set aside--you'll add it in a second. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars, vanilla extract and now add the flax mixture to this. Prep your finely chopped pecans (or your could use walnuts)--set aside. Now add all dry ingredients (flours, baking soda, salt) to a bowl and whisk together really well. Add the chocolate chips and pecans to the flour mixture. Slowly in three separate additions, with a blender, add the dry mix to the butter/sugar mixture and beat for about five seconds after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl and fold in the remaining dough from the sides. Scoop out cookies and place on cookie sheet about 2" apart. Bake for 8 minutes. (Or until the ends begin to brown.) Remove from oven and allow to cool on cookie sheet. If you are only making a few cookies at a time, then just store the rest of the dough in the fridge for late. Use within a week.   

Monday, January 12, 2015

It's Been too Quiet. . . But I Like it That Way (knitting/sewing over food right now and a Frankie moment)

It's difficult blogging during these winter months. So much of what keeps my attention lately has little to do with food, but more to do with keeping busy, not focusing too much on the news and generally taking a hibernation approach to life. This weekend DH and I ventured out "quickly" on a short jaunt that ended up taking up half the day and him saying to me when we got home, "This shopping stuff is exhausting and sucks the life right out of me." Really? Welcome to my world, sweetie. Someone must run the household. Someone else must go to work. I really try not to drag him along when there is shopping to be done, but this go around, he actually wanted to see a gadget "in person" at the Big Electronics store, so I indulged his wish and out the door we went. We wear hats, glasses and plenty of hideaway outer wear to keep most people from approaching us. We wish a sign could dangle from around our necks reading, Caution: Introverts Entering, No Interaction Required! Amazon is our most favorite place to shop, if truth be told. But that requires a delivery person to bound up to our door and creates another whole set of anxiety (aside from the Jehovah people--omg, don't get me started). But I am completely off track in what I was originally going to talk about.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Vegan Spice Cookies with Chocolate and Zesty Citrus Glaze (How the "Problem" of Christmas Gets Solved)

The miracle of Christmas for me isn't what you might imagine it would be. The real miracle is that I make it through the C-R-A-Z-Y. This is my second round of cookie baking. The first round of cookie-palooza went out in boxes and packages. I love doing this and it sort of makes me happy--for a bit. Then there is the second needed push I have for that little extra that I set aside for just us--and when I find it, I know it. I found it in this cookie. For what it's worth, I am thrilled I took a little extra time to "find" just the perfect, newest cookie recipe to try. Thrilled because this cookie--filled with warm cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and then chocolate!, and citrus--met all my criteria for a superb trifecta of delicious and solved the problem of blah-Christmas-cookie-baking doldrums. (And kept me from going nuts chasing a five month old Pyrenees puppy out from under the Christmas tree for the one hundredth time. . .Gahhhh!)  

Friday, December 5, 2014

Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup with Extra Noodles: Hold the Chicken (Windy City for Windy Sisters and. . . Calling Major Tom)

I was fortunate to have not gotten ill on my short trip back home to visit my sister. At least I have that to be thankful for. Who knew you could get the flu AND have the flu shot, too? Why go through the trouble fear and doubt of getting the damn shot if a month and a half later, you're so sick you can barely muster enough strength to roll yourself over in bed. Why?! I'll take my chances! 

So Sunday afternoon, after calling my doc in the morning and demanding asking for some antibiotics, something--anything!, I took every bit of my zapped energy and got the ingredients on the counter, and into the soup pot, simmering. (Because who else is going to cook for us: Frankie?! as DH and I were both feeling the effects of this 'flu-creep" beginning to take its toll.)

My veganized Chicken Noodle Soup sort of came together based upon what I could reach without falling over. So there's a little bit of everything in here. But without it all: the seasonings, garlic, onions, cabbage, mushrooms and barley, I don't think you'd have much of a soup. And when you think about it, the "old school" chicken noodle soup I remember didn't really have too much in it other than LOTS of noodles and a wee-bit of chicken. So. Here's where the beans came in. Then the barley. Then the turmeric added a beautiful, earthy and almost curry-ish-ness to the soup without it turning into curry. The turmeric color added to the soup made it even more delicious in appearance. It's a keeper in terms of soups. We both loved it and better yet, this recipe makes enough for the next night, too. Because seriously, I wasn't cooking much in this condition.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Vegan Jelly Donut Muffins with Multi-Grain Goodness (baking through "Ovenly" while puppy-dancing. . . finally ran a 5k race and I didn't fall: Yay!)

The other day, DH and I were discussing our earliest food memories. Mine centered around my grandmother's homemade grape jelly. DH said one of his were these huge cinnamon twist doughnuts from a local bakery where he grew up. Then I added, Oh yeah, well, we had doughnuts, too--my favorite always had jelly inside and pink icing. Then there was the debate of whether or not having a food memory not tied to a homemade item constituted a food memory. Then we both sat there fighting off the urge to once again abandon all rational thought and have doughnuts for dinner. 
*I seem to have a running theme here lately with the doughnut obsession. I know not where it comes from, I just know that it is. 
After our conversation about doughnuts had run its course, I finally decided to bake something along the lines of said food stuffs, and turned to adapting a recipe for Jelly Doughnut Muffins from Ovenly. (Oh how I wish all cookbooks were this crave-worthy--more in a second on this.) I had some adjustments to make to go vegan with these, plus I wanted to up the health factor a bit--so I subbed in some spelt flour (my all-time favorite multi-grain baking flour hands down--except it usually does better for me when combined with AP flour), and omitted the eggs. . . obviously. Muffins are one of the most forgiving baking items you could manage. As I soon discovered once again during one of my "some-timers" moments.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Spicy Fried Buffalo Cauliflower N' Kale Wraps (The Blurry Puppy. . .PLUS: Cooking from Yotam Ottolenghi's "Plenty More" and etc.)

I can tell you honestly that if you crave drinking buffalo hot sauce straight from the bottle like I do, you will LOVE this wrap (though I don't recommend doing so, nor have I ever personally--but the thought has crossed my mind). In the midst of a mini-cold snap here, we had a hankering for some cold weather food favorites. Dr. Thyme and I went on our first date centered around food and the food of choice (way back before the vegan in us had emerged) was hot and spicy chicken wings. I had claimed I could tolerate any heat--the hotter the better. Spicy/Fried food lover, meet Mr. Fried Cauliflower. No one would be the wiser. And let me tell you, it even crunches like the other. (Only nothing was hurt during the creation of this meal.) I can't take credit for this fried cauliflower anomaly. The first I'd read about "frying" cauliflower was in Alice Water's cookbook, Chez Panisse Vegetables. (Or maybe one of her other cookbooks, but I do know it was Ms. Waters who has enlightened me on the matter of so many other vegetable cooking matters as well.) This recipe and making of this will require a bit of prep, and it is a little messy, but comes together in a jiff, so don't be all, I can't do this recipe with all those bowls and pans and stuff! Uh, yes you can.
Super simple and incredibly filling and tasty. Serve with a side of homemade fries. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Vegan Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins: Ta-Da! (Skip the trip to DD and just make some of these. . . and "The Puppy Kindergarten Nail-Biter")

I couldn't help myself. I craved the damn doughnuts from "that place". It got so bad we literally almost abandoned all rational thinking and drove there in our PJs last night. That's just crazy. We're old. We could get killed doing something like that at all hours of the night! I woke up this morning and thought about those doughnuts again then threw the gauntlet down on myself at five a.m. (up at the gawdawful hour for what else?--the obvious reason: Puppy Frankenstein demanded it). To hell with it, I'm baking, I thought. So. Happy. I. Did. The Pumpkin Doughnut madness is now tamed and all is right with the world.
 (Yes, I realize this is the second "pumpkin recipe" in a row. I. Love. Pumpkin.)


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