Friday, February 25, 2011

Like I Promised...

I did say I was thinking about making blueberry chocolate bars and I did just that. I did a little research for other recipes I could play off of, but did not find many- any really, so I did the next best thing...used my own little brain to figure one out! I found a chocolate crumb recipe and decided to use that as a reference point. I did my usually twist and tweaks and made a batch. The chocolate crumb recipe came from My Sweet Vegan- Passionate About Desserts by Hannah Kaminsky. Her recipe used both brown sugar and granulated sugar, me being me had to play with that part of the recipe. I liked that she used oats in the recipe, so I kept that in and to make them into bars I added water, vanilla extract, and baking soda to the recipe. I had blueberry jam on hand, but hey chocolate and just about any fruit jam/spread would do, especially raspberry or strawberry, not so sure how grape would be though (maybe good because I do love chocolate covered grapes, hum).

Chocolate Blueberry Jam Bars

1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/3 cup date sugar
1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon coffee granules (optional)
1/2 cup fruit jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Mix margarine with the sugar until creamy.

Add in the flour, cocoa, oats, salt, baking soda, and vanilla, and mix until it comes together. It will be crumbly though.

Take 3/4 cup of the batter aside to be the topping of the bars.

Add the water to the remaining batter (if you want add the coffee granules to the water and dissolve, this will enhance the chocolaty-ness of the bars) and mix until it becomes a sticky dough.

Press the batter into the prepared pan (this was a little messy but fun) and

top with the blueberry jam.

Then top the jam with the remaining crumb batter and press it lightly into the jam.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes (I baked them for 40 to try and crisp up the crumb topping).

Let them cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment paper and allow them to cool completely before cutting them into bars.

They smell divine as they bake! I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder because I find that it makes whatever you use it in taste like ice cream, ok well it gives a deeper chocolate taste.

What's For Dinner?
Tuesday, February 22nd
I had rosemary hummus on jicama and cucumbers topped with tomatoes also with green and yellow peppers.

Wednesday, February 23rd
Mushroom, roasted beet and asparagus with fennel seeds and parsley.

Thursday, February 24th
Sweet potato platskis with toasted hazelnuts and cinnamon applesauce.

I have to post a new savory recipe, that will be my next challenge!

(just an fyi I have reached a problem with posting pictures on my blog. I do not have any more space in my folder here on blogspot and the only way to add more pictures is to purchase more space. I will see what I am going to do.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Girl Scout Cookies?

I always loved those Girl Scout Cookies I know them as Samoas but they are now called Caramel de Lites. Love them! But now being a vegan baker, I cannot eat these cookies. One of the cook books (Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero) I have has a recipe for them but they are called Lazy Samoas (toasted coconut chocolate cookies). They aren't all that I was hoping they would be, rather upsetting. My mom tried one and said they tasted healthy and not too sweet that I would like them. I do like them, but they aren't as good as I was wish. That has been happening a lot lately, me be disappointed in my cooking, I hope I'm not loosing my skills I am trying to make a living on them, oh no. They look so pretty and yummy though. 

Lazy Samoas

2 cups grated unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup unrefined coconut oil
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup date sugar) 
1/3 cup nondairy milk
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour (1 cup white whole wheat flour)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two pans with parchment paper.

Toast grated coconut in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally so not to burn the coconut. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut oil, sugar, milk, flax seeds, and vanilla. 

Sift in the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Mix to form a thick batter. Fold in toasted coconut.

Scoop about 1 tablespoon of dough, place on baking sheet, flatten each cookie, and use a fingertip to make a hole in the center of each cookie (I skipped this step because I tried but it wasn't really working). Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are golden. 

Let cookies cool. 

Melt chocolate chips either in microwave ( I do not have one) or double boiler, then stir in coconut oil (I only added 1 tablespoon coconut oil) stir, then remove from heat and let the chocolate cool a little only about 3 minutes. 

Dip each cookie bottom in the chocolate and place on a clean wax paper sheet or a silpat. 

With the left over chocolate, drizzle over the cookies using a fork or placing the chocolate in a pastry bag. Chill the cookies for at least 30 minutes to firm up the chocolate. Store the cookies in a loosely covered container in a very cool place. 

I am going to try this recipe again. Maybe I didn't toast the coconut enough to give it that flavor or I am not very sure, but I'll give it another try some time. The cinnamon oatmeal raisin cookies I also made came out great though (maybe just because I really love them).

What's For Dinner?
Saturday, February 19th

Salad with roasted asparagus and corn, tomatoes, avocado, and roasted red pepper dressing.

Sunday, February 20th
Roasted root veggie, parsley, and toasted cashews.

Monday, February 21st

Roasted red pepper and corn soup. This time with added cumin and a garnish of yellow pepper and black olives, came out much better than the first attempt at the soup.

My next thing I wanna make or I am conceptualizing are chocolate blueberry jam bars. We will see.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pudding Pie

Chocolate pudding...who can resist it? Jello brand made some good pudding. I was never a vanilla pudding person, just chocolate, especially the one that had the lighter chocolate in the center of those pudding cups. And when you mix it with some cool whip you can made "mousse" and then some dirt! Yummy! I never really cared for homemade pudding or maybe I never ate really good homemade chocolate pudding. That layer of "film" that forms over homemade pudding, eww, never really liked that. So I made some of my own haha, after all of that not really liking homemade pudding, I go and make some, go figure. But I also made a delicious crust to put the pudding in! That makes it even better, oh yes.

The crust was a recipe from one of my vegan baking books and the pudding was a combination of following a recipe and making one of my own. The book was The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

Pecan Crust

3/4 cup pecan halves
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-inch pie plate, or as I did 4 3-inch pie plates.

Toast the pecan halves for 7 to 10 minutes, but do not burn the nuts.

Combine the oats, flour, toasted pecans, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor.

Pulse the mixture until it becomes a coarse meal.

Pour in the oil and maple syrup and pulse until the dry and wet ingredients are just combined.

Press this mixture into the prepared pie plate. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, then let it cool, depending on what you wish to use it for.

You can use the crust for any type of pie really. The hint of cinnamon really adds to the depth of flavor in the toasted nuts and oats. (Adding some chocolate to the mix will make it complete. Trust me!)

Chocolate Pudding

1 cup chocolate chips (I used 3/4 cup grain sweetened dark chocolate and 1/4 cup carob chips)
1 cup milk (I used skim, feel free to use soy, almond, etc.)
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons flax meal
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 mashed banana
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
pinch of salt

Over a double boiler, melt chocolate.

Mash the banana.

Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium high heat.

Combine arrowroot, flax meal, and water.

Add that to the milk and allow it to thicken.

Add in the chocolate, the banana, salt, and coffee and allow them to cook for 5 minutes.

Take off of the heat and add in the vanilla. Allow it to cool in the pan for a few minutes, then place in a container. Cool completely then place in the fridge.

The texture was a little strange because arrowroot really thickens quickly and becomes a little "jelly" like. So this was a first attempt at this and not much of a winner but not a failure either. Back to the test kitchen we go with this one. I just don't like to follow recipes, I really should start to though. Next time I might not add in the flax meal because it gave a gritty texture but it really isn't that bad.

To try the pudding out I put it in the crust and topped it with some while chocolate chips. To die for! I made my mom and brother very jealous when I came out of the kitchen holding my plate of goodness. I told them they probably won't like the pudding, but the crust on the other hand they would. So I can make something for them to try out the crust...maybe.

What's For Dinner?
Wednesday, February 16th

Black eye pea salad with roasted corn and yellow, red, and  green pepper, tomatoes, parsley, black olives, cucumbers, black pepper, and lemon juice.

Thursday, February 17th

Salad with spinach, roasted butternut squash, carrots, pear, cranberries, and toasted hazelnuts.

Friday, February 18th

Lemon rosemary hummus with cucumbers, tomatoes, yellow and green peppers.

I also had some colorful breakfast fruit salads: red fruit: pink grapefruit, red grapes, black grapes, and strawberries and toasted almonds.

Another one of my favorites breakfast apple crisp:

I make my own granola. 1/4 cup quick oats, 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon vegetable spread (like the butter substitutes), 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon flax seeds, and a splash of water about 2 tablespoons. Mix the dry with the veggie spread until it start to crumble, then add in the maple syrup and water (I use the water that I just boiled for my tea). And then I top some apples that I coat in cinnamon and nutmeg with a splash of lemon juice and had them baking with the granola and let it continue to bake. Best breakfast ever. My brother always thinks I make him cinnamon buns when I have baked apples for breakfast, but alas it is not. So today my mom made them cinnamon buns for breakfast but I had mango, green grapes, and toasted almonds (which my brother thinks smells like popcorn, the toasted almonds that is).

Yup yup!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I love chocolate covered strawberries and grapes, yes I said grapes. If you have never had a chocolate covered grape before I highly recommend you try it.

After I dip all of the strawberries I usually have left over chocolate, you can not waste this chocolate-no no no, so I always have grapes on hand. Wash a couple of them, put it in the chocolate, mix it up and use a fork to get them out.

Any left over chocolate after that, I top the grapes with it. So good. I forget how I thought of dipping grapes in chocolate, but I will never ever regret it. So I wanted to decorate the strawberries a little this year with some melted white chocolate, I had some of that left over and made a few white chocolate covered grapes, as well, which are very sweet.

White chocolate is just too sweet for my taste, but in small amounts it can be yummy. I used a combination of my grain sweetened chocolate chips (which are dark chocolate with barley and rice syrup sweetened) and carob chips. I like the deeper taste the carob chips add to the chocolate.

I also made valentine's inspired gingerbread cookies. I was going along the lines of spiced cookies for vday. I have heart, lip, and arrow shaped cookie cutters, also x's and o's, but I didn't use the x's and o's for these cookies.

I think I finally discovered the perfect peanut butter cookie recipe! :] I am so happy. I combined a few different ideas and made them in bar form, but hey it is still considered cookie like! I used a recipe for Peanut Butter Blondies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. So here it is:

Peanut Butter Bars

1/2 cup peanut butter (no stir smooth type, feel free to use chunky)
1/4 cup cashew butter
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup non dairy milk (i did use organic skim milk- one of my vices)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup oil
2 mashed bananas
1 1/4 cups whole wheat white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup peanuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Mash the bananas, add the peanut butter, cashew butter, oil, and agave nectar.

Add in the milk and vanilla.

Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl, then add that to the pb mixture. You may want to use your hands to combine everything better.

Knead the dough until it is soft, it will be very thick and will not spread on its own. Put the dough into the pan and top with the peanuts.

Press them into the top of the dough. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until the edges just start to brown. The top will be soft, but all is well.

They came out soft, chewy, peanut buttery, and so good. I am going to try a different pan next time because they came out thick, good but thick, so I will see if they changes anything. I like how the bananas only add a slight banana taste to these bars.

What's For Dinner?
Thursday, February 10th
Roasted veggie, cashew, and parsley salad.

Friday, February 11th
Salad- the usual.

Saturday, February 12th
I was at a bridal shower and I have this very bad habit of forgetting my camera when I go out. So I had lettuce, fresh salsa, and guacamole.

Sunday, February 13th

Salad with roasted corn and asparagus, black olives, black eyed peas, mango, yellow peppers, and cucumbers with roasted red pepper dressing.

Monday, February 14th <3
Sweet potato platski's with cinnamon apple sauce and toasted hazelnuts.

Now go eat something! ~muah