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Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

Oooooh man! The universe is testing my dedication to this cookie challenge. First it was the peanut butter cups yesterday that turned out not to be vegan and now it’s the disappearance of my memory card reader. Well you know what Universe? Challenge accepted!

This whole post will be done on my phone. So take that!

Today’s recipe is my vegan take on a Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookie. I thought peanut butter cookies were good but ‘Nutella’ cookies may have trumped them.

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Chocolate Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies
veganized from American Heritage Cooking;
makes approximately 20 cookies; 2 hour chilling required

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup vegan butter such as Earth Balance, softened
  • heaping 1/3 cup Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut spread
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life morsels)

*For those of you new to vegan baking, you can find Ener-G egg here or I have found it at Whole Foods and Stop and Shop. It’s becoming pretty common. Don’t be put off by the price. It will last you forever! I bake a lot and have had mine for over a year. Earth Balance butter can also be found at most grocery store chains now.

** For non-vegans, you can substitute real butter, eggs and chocolate chips in place  vegan version at a 1:1 ratio across the board.

Instructions

  1. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Beat together butter, Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut spread, sugars, egg, and vanilla on medium-high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until well combined, about 4 minutes, scrapping down the sides of necessary.
  3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture until well combined, scraping down the sides if necessary.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 350° . Roll into 1 inch balls and place dough 1 inch apart on a parchment line baking sheet. Bake 9-11 minutes or until the edges are set and the tops have just started to brown.
  7. Let cool 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool.

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I was a little worried about this recipe and that the Justin’s would produce a drier cookie then those made with Nutella. I did not have any problem at all, though. These cookies are moist and fluffy with just a hint of hazelnut. Definitely a nice change from a traditional chocolate cookies.

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Today I learned a very important lesson about veganism that I should have learned long ago- Read food labels closely. In an attempt to make this cookie challenge fun, I wanted to try lots of new recipes with new ingredients. I had had my mind set on using these mini peanut butter cups that Justin’s recently released. I had tried them as a free sample at Whole Foods one day (after I checked with those handing them out that they were vegan).  So, when I made my list of cookies I wanted to make, peanut butter cookies stuffed with peanut butter cups were high on my list.

I decided to give a peanut butter cookies recipe a whirl this afternoon. As the dough was chilling and I was unwrapping a million Justin’s mini peanut butter cups, I happened to glance at the ingredients list and smiled. No dairy listed. Oh wait, what is that note at the bottom? “Contains: peanuts, soy and milk”? Well, crap.

And that wasn’t even the first time I did that during this challenge. I had found a recipe for chocolate peppermint cookies that sounded delicious but it had chocolate pudding in it. I had my heart set on a chocolate peppermint recipe so I started poking around to find a dry vegan chocolate pudding mix. Come to find out, Jello Chocolate pudding is in fact vegan, if I just took the time to read the ingredients. I know right?! No dairy or gelatin! Much like Oreos, which are always accidentally vegan, it’s mostly just chemicals and sugar. Not exactly something you want to eat on the regular but makes for a great once-a-year holiday cookie.

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Chocolate Peppermint Pudding Cookies
veganized from Chef-in-Training

  • ¾ cup vegan butter such as Earth Balance, softened
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 small package (3.9 oz) Jello Chocolate instant pudding mix, dry (or any other dry pudding, such as European Gourmet Bakery Pudding which is a bit more natural then Jello and also vegan)
  • Ener-G eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1 cup Wilton Sprinkles Peppermint Crunch . I found mine at Target.(of if you aren’t a vegan, you can use Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips, which can also be found at Target)
  • 1 cup Vegan Chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life)

*For those of you new to vegan baking, you can find Ener-G egg here or I have found it at Whole Foods and Stop and Shop. It’s becoming pretty common. Don’t be put off by the price. It will last you forever! I bake a lot and have had mine for over a year. Earth Balance butter can also be found at most grocery store chains now.

** For non-vegans, you can substitute real milk, butter, eggs and chocolate chips in place  vegan version at a 1:1 ratio across the board. As mentioned above, the Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips can be used in place of the Peppermint Sprinkles)

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Cream together butter and sugars.
  2. Beat in dry instant pudding mix.
  3. Add Ener-G eggs and vanilla and beat until well incorporated.
  4. Add baking soda and flour and beat until well incorporated.
  5. Stir in Peppermint Crunch and semi-sweet chocolate chunks.
  6. Roll into 1″ balls and place on a greased baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will firm up when they cool so don’t over cook them. Cook until the centers are set.

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Chocolate and peppermint aren’t my normal go-to but it’s just so perfect during the holidays. These cookies are  fudgy  with just the right amount of peppermint. They would be perfect with hot chocolate, coffee or for Santa on Christmas morning!

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I discovered today that when it comes to Christmas shopping, I am in severe denial. About the whole process. After much consideration (aka: procrastination), I determined that Wednesday, or today, would be the best day to go Christmas Shopping. I was thinking people would take off a Monday or a Friday to avoid the holiday crowds that descend on all shopping areas during December but a Wednesday? Less likely. Also, anymore procrastination was going to result in a panic attack. I just needed to get it done!

So, ever the optimist, I gave myself four hours. I’d be up and out of the house by 9, at the mall nice and early, and be outta there before rush hour and home in time to post Day 2 of Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies well before dinner.

Reality was more like- leave an hour and a half later than planned, circle around the mall parking lot flinging curses at all the people who did get their early and stole my parking space, wandering the mall aimlessly, finally deciding on something and finding it’s not in the size I need, waiting in a mile long lines to order the size I need which takes forever and earns me numerous nasty looks from those waiting behind you (that’s right old man behind me grumbling because he had to wait around while holding sexy lingerie. Maybe you should have ordered in online!), more wandering, more waiting in line, more ordering and more nasty looks, until I finally crawled into Starbucks for a hit of caffeine. Honestly, I really would have preferred a margarita. I mean, the guy with the lingerie was really old. I really, really hope it was for a much younger mistress.

But, after all that, my Christmas shopping is done (ok, like 99.99% done) and I can finally get around to posting todays cookies recipe!

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COWBOY COOKIES
veganized from Averie Cooks
m
akes approximately 20 cookies; Requires 2 hours of chilling time in the fridge

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter such as Earth Balance, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned whole-rolled oats (not quick-cook or instant)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup Cornflakes or Special K cereal (or a similar cereal. I used Special K)
  • 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

*For those of you new to vegan baking, you can find Ener-G egg here or I have found it at Whole Foods and Stop and Shop. It’s becoming pretty common. Don’t be put off by the price. It will last you forever! I bake a lot and have had mine for over a year.

** For non-vegans, you can substitute real milk, butter and eggs for the vegan version at a 1:1 ratio across the board.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and electric mixer) add the egg, butter, sugars, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until creamed and well combined.
  2. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and beat on low-speed until just combined.
  3. Add the chocolate chips, Cornflakes, coconut, pecans, and beat on low-speed until just combined.
  4. Using a cookie scoop or 1/4 measuring cup form approximately equal-sized mounds of dough. I used a standard cookie scoop and got approximately 20 cookies.
  5. Place mounds on a large plate or tray, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Place dough mounds on baking sheet and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes or until edges have set and tops are just set.  Cookies firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes.
  7. A note from Avery Cooks, which I did not try: Cookies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

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I’m a huge fan of these cookies. They are so hearty and full of texture. I was especially excited to cook with Special K, which I had never tried in cookies before! You could definitely still get a crunch from them, which I didn’t expect at all.

Anyways, now that this blog is up and Christmas shopping is behind be, about that margarita…

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Wicked Vegan Lentil Loaf 7

Aww. My poor, neglected blog! 2015 has not been a blog productive year for me. No matter what is going on in my life though, when there is a holiday around the corner, I feel the pull of Wicked Vegan. I love sharing seasonal vegan recipes around the holidays. It makes me feel festive and creative.

I am currently at my parent’s house for the week to help out for Thanksgiving. I am so spoiled having the house to myself all day long. I was able to spread my laundry out all over the laundry room and divide them as a I like instead of throwing everything in one load so I don’t have to pay more then I have to. I’ve been working on much neglected crafts, some for Christmas, some for me. And I’ve been able to rock out to the Taking Back Sunday pandora station on full blast, belting out embarrassing songs from my high school years while cooking in a kitchen that is MUCH larger then mine without annoying a single soul. It is FANTASTIC.

One of those dishes being cooked while dancing around to New Found Glory is this puff pastry wrapped Lentil Loaf. My parents have realized having me around all day is advantageous because I can make them dinner! So I made this one night thinking it would also be a perfect main dish for Thanksgiving. It’s hearty, really pretty and as my meat eating parents stated, “doesn’t have anything weird in it”. lol! It true that I have a bit of a different palette from them but I think this is a dish that could be passed off to most people without raising any eyebrows. I mean, as much as I love Tofurkey, especially for Thanksgiving sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving, there ain’t no way I’m going to be able to pass that off to my relatives!

Wicked Vegan Lentil Loaf Collage

PUFF PASTRY WRAPPED LENTIL LOAF
Prep time:  50 mins
Cook time:  40 mins
Total time:  1 hour 30 mins
Serves: Makes two loaves, serves 8
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 Sheets of Puff Pastry, Thawed (Check to make sure they are vegan, most brands are)
  • 1 Cup uncooked Lentils (I used green but red or brown can also be used)
  • 2 1/2 Cups Vegetable Broth
  • ½ Cup Pecans
  • ½ Cup Walnuts
  • 3 Tablespoons Ground Flax
  • 1/3 Cup Warm Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 2 Stalks of Celery
  • 2 Medium Carrots
  • 1- 8 oz. Tub (around 3 1/2 cups) of Mushrooms (I used Baby Bellas)
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic
  • ½ teaspoons Salt (or more to taste)
  • Several Grinds of Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon Cayenne
  • ¾ Cup Rolled Oats
  • ½ Cup Flour
  • Couple Tablespoons of Non-Dairy Milk to brush on the pastry (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 400F (200C).
  2. Rinse the lentils, then add the rinsed lentils to a pot with the vegetable broth, cover, and bring to a simmer and cook for about 35 to 40 minutes until liquid is absorbed and lentils are soft, even mushy.
  3. Take an immersion blender or potato masher and mash the lentils until about two thirds of the lentils are mush.
  4. In the meantime, chop the nuts and put them in a dry pan over medium heat. Toast them, keeping an eye on them for about 10 minutes until they are all toasty and fragrant. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. In a small bowl mix together the flax and warm water and set aside to thicken.
  6. Chop up the onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic.
  7. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat, then sauté the onions, carrots and celery until they begin to soften up, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté another 5 minutes until the mushrooms have shrunken and become juicy. Add in the garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and cayenne and sauté about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
  8. In a large bowl, mix everything together- the lentils, toasted nuts, veggies, flax mixture, the oats and the flour. *Up to this point, you can do everything a head of time. I made the lentil mixture 4 days before using and did not have any problems with it. Just cover it really well and pop it into your fridge until you are ready to use it. If you were doing this for Thanksgiving, I would make the mixture  and put the puff pastry in the fridge the night before. The next morning, you just have to do the below steps and it will come together nice and quickly*
  9. On a lightly floured surface roll out one of the puff pastry sheets until you get a rectangle that is about 10 inches by 14 inches. Transfer the pastry sheet to parchment paper. At this point you have two options:
    1. Just roll up your lentil loaf in the puff pastry.  Take half of the lentil mixture and form a loaf shape down the middle of the puff pastry, leaving a bit of room at both ends. Use your hands to pat the mixture into a firm log. Wrap up the loaf any way you see fit.
    2. Go for the WOW factory with the weave texture shown in the picture. Use the back of a knife to make a guide dividing the pastry into three even sections. Then cut angled strips down each side about 1 inch wide. Cut off the top two and bottom two strips so that you have two end flaps. Place half of the lentil mixture down the centre of the dough and using your hands, pat into a firm loaf shape. Now fold up the top flap over the end, then take the top right strip and fold over the loaf. Take the top left strip, and fold that over, making an x. Do this all the way down the crossing alternative strips. Try to keep the strips close together leaving only small gaps. Once you get near the bottom, fold the bottom flap up, then finish braiding the last strips tucking the ends into anywhere they look good. (see the above picture for a visual).
  10. Repeat with the remaining pastry and lentil mixture so you have two loaves.
  11. Optional: Brush the top with non-dairy milk and move to a baking sheet. I did not do this and I thought my puff pastry still came out nicely.
  12. Bake for about 40 – 45 minutes checking every now and then until it’s all golden brown and gorgeous. Serve with gravy, BBQ sauce, ketchup or cranberry sauce.

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This recipe reheats nicely as well. I will usually pop it back in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 and let it reheat. The pastry stays flaky and doesn’t get soggy.

What are you making for the Thanksgiving holiday? What are you most looking forward to? I can’t wait to get my hands on some stuff and some green bean casserole!!

If you are in need of some inspiration, check out last year’s Thanksgiving Round Up . I have a green bean casserole recipe on there from a few years back that was so good I was eating it out of the pan.

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HAPPY 2015!!!! Two months late…

I can’t deny that I have been neglecting my blog in 2015. Here’s what has been going on:

– In December, I got a new, full-time job. Which is great! As much as I loved dropping everything and moving to Australia, it took a serious toll on my finances. So did the two moves in less than 12 months and the tempting I did August-December. So yeah to paychecks again!!! Unfortunately, with a new job comes a new schedule and an adjustment period. I have been working lots of hours to try and get up to speed with my co-workers and to earn my keep. There has been more than one night where I’ve come home at 8, had a cup of tea and a bowl of popcorn for dinner, and passed out at 9:30. As you can imagine, that not only makes me incredibly boring but it doesn’t leave a ton of time for new recipes. Unless you want a recipe for making peppermint tea and stove top popcorn. Cause I am ALL over that!

– In January, I started the Tone It Up plan, which I am loving! You can follow the link to read more about it if you are interested. Since I was making next to nothing Aug-Dec and still having to pay rent and bills, I was eating really, really poorly. I was eating a lot of free food that was available at my temp job which means I wasn’t hesitating to have pizza for lunch two days in a row. Hey! I mean, take the cheese off and that’s a free meal right there! So, once I got hired full-time in December and started receiving real, grown-up paychecks again, I decided to crack down and start eating better. The problem with this is, though I make all my own food for the Tone It Up plan, about 90% of it is from their nutrition plan, which is all under copy right. Not super helpful for a food blogger!

Despite these set backs, now that I am a bit more settled into the new job and the new plan, I am able to work out some wiggle room for recipes for the blog. I am hoping to start posting again in the next week or so. The recipes may be a little slower coming as I get settled into my job and they may be a bit more healthy but they are on their way.

Until then, here is a Valentine’s Day Round-Up for you. I’ve added to last years since I made some super fun things while in Aussie.

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Breakfast:

“Be Mine” Fruit Smoothie

Chocolate Pancakes for One (can easily be multiplied)

Heart-shaped Red Velvet Nutella Breakfast Rolls

Strawberry-glazed Donuts

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Dinners:

Peanutty Noodles

Pumpkin Burger with Beer Fries

Spicy Black Bean Quinoa Soup

Tofu Mango Summer Rolls (as Boston is currently buried under a million feet of snow, give or take, I couldn’t resist adding these as a nice alternative to soups and stews. They are also a fun “Make Your Own” if you and your significant other like different things)

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Desserts:

The Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes (You could fill these with Strawberry Chia Jam for something a little different)

Coconut Passion Fruit Cupcakes with Coconut Milk Buttercream Frosting

Dark Chocolate Truffles

Healthy-ish Peanut Butter Truffles

Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats

Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes

I want to eat ALL of these desserts. Instead, I am currently eating grapefruit. If you want to see more of what I am eating which is all vegan and Tone It Up approved,  you can check out my instagram account, tiu_wickedvegan. Part of the plan is you check in regularly so be prepared for A LOT of food pics. You’ve been warned.

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I don’t like pie.  I’m not a pie kinda gal. When given the option, I will pretty much choose any dessert except pie. The only pie that I’ve even attempted to make is a chocolate silk pie and that’s sort of cheating since it’s a pre-made graham cracker crust and chocolate pudding.

BUT, when you make a pie into a cookie, I’m totally on board! My mom made these cookies last year and pretty much hasn’t stopped talking about them. I knew they had to make the cut when I was making my list for my cookie-a-thon.

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Pecan Pie Cookies
makes 24; I’m no sure where this recipe came from as it was emailed to me. If you know the source, please feel free to send it to me.

Cookie

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup Earth Balance vegan butter
  • 1 Ener-G egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Filling

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canned coconut milk (not lite)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all cookie ingredients except flour and baking powder in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour and baking powder. Beat until well mixed.

Shape dough into balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Make indentation in each cookie with thumb; rotate thumb to hollow out slightly.

Combine all filling ingredients in small bowl; fill each cookie with 1 rounded teaspoon filling. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets.

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These cookies are SO good. With all the brown sugar that is packed into these babies, they are definitely sweet but the filling is so yummy! And they are just the perfect combo of two holiday favorites.

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Wicked Vegan- Mocha Macaroons1

Today, I flipped my countdown calendar and there was 7 days until Christmas. 7 DAYS!! I panicked. Then I doubly panicked when two of the gifts I ordered were cancelled or suddenly backordered. What is happening with the world when people are cancelling Christmas orders a week before Christmas?!

It just really hasn’t been a good day for Christmas cheer. On the plus side, I got some excellent Christmas movie suggestions from a bunch of you.

  1. Elf
  2. It’s a Wonderful Life
  3. Muppet Christmas Carol
  4. A Wish For Wings That Work
  5. Love Actually
  6. The Holiday
  7. The Family Stone
  8. Edward Scissorhands
  9. The Vicar of Dibley episodes when she marries Richard Armitage
  10. How I Met Your Mother Christmas episodes
  11. The Night They Saved Christmas
  12. Holiday Inn

I’ve never even heard of some of these! I started with Love Actually last night but promise I will attempt to see them all before Christmas. I love the challenge of working through a list!

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Today’s cookie combines my two favorite things- Coffee and Chocolate. God knows I will need coffee in whatever form I can get it in if I’m going to get everything done before Christmas. If it happens it come with a side of chocolate, even better!!

Mocha Macaroons
from Chocolate Covered Katie

  • 1 tbsp flour of choice (or protein powder)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp instant coffee powder (wv note: I didn’t have instant coffee so I used regular coffee ground really, really fine and it was fine)
  • 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp milk of choice
  • 4 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • just over 1/16 tsp salt
  • melted chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in a tall dish. If using a microwave, heat two minutes. Stir, then microwave one more minute or until firm enough to scoop out into ball shapes. (Or cook on the stovetop until it’s firm enough to scoop out.) Scoop into balls on a cookie tray—I used a cookie scoop. Cook at 360 F for 14-16 minutes. Let cool before removing from tray.

Line a plate with wax paper. Dip each cookie in melted chocolate, place on the wax paper, and let set (you can refrigerate or freeze them if you need them to set faster)  Makes 12-22 cookies, depending on the size cookie scoop you use.

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I’m a fan of these. I love coconut macaroons, I love chocolate/coffee and I love how easy they come together. Just dump everything in a bowl and bake. If you are looking for something more festive for a holiday party, you could add seasonal sprinkles before the chocolate dries. As I am normally not a Christmas girl, I have amount a million halloween sprinkles and zero Christmas ones. But definitely go crazy with the Christmas cheer!

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Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some serious Christmas movie watching to do!

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