Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I don't make cookies all that often but when I do, I wonder why that is. They're delicious and portable! You can have just one (good luck with that one) or a handful depending on your appetite and your sweet tooth. They travel well and make a great mid-afternoon snack when the work day is dragging and you think 6:00 will never come.


So now that you're on the bandwagon, go make these cookies. These Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies are no joke. Seriously, they're what's missing in your life. Or at least what's missing from your cookie jar. They're chocolately, soft, and full of awesome. If you don't already have a copy of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, go buy one. Or borrow one from a friend or get one from the library. This is just the first of many exciting new cookie discoveries.

At first you think, whatever, this is just some kind of boring chocolate cookie. But no! This is a chocolate cookie with chocolate chips in it. And this doubly chocolately cookie also has dried cherries in it. Oh yeah. And just in case you were starting to feel a little guilty, there's some oatmeal thrown in for a bit of texture and to add a bit of the healthy to your cookie. Well, they're still cookies, the oatmeal isn't magic. But still.

Here's another thing that's cool about these cookies. I think you could easily substitute the dried cherries for another type of dried fruit if you wanted something different or just plain didn't feel like buying dried cherries. If you're one of those people that like white chocolate (bleck) you could just use white chocolate chips instead of the regular chocolate chips. Or get really crazy and use peanut butter chips! I know, I'm out of control right now.


Personally, I love the chocolate and cherry flavors together. Dried cherries are about twice the size of a dried cranberry so you get a bit more fruit in each bite. I bet dried strawberries or blueberries would also rock these cookies. Heck, mix them up if you want, the cookie don't care and neither does the honey badger.

And hey - you still have about a week to enter if you're interested in winning a copy of the Joy of Vegan Baking. Just go to this post and make a comment to enter!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Poppy Seed Pull-Apart Rolls

I think Vegan Brunch is becoming my favorite cookbook. I adore a nice home-cooked breakfast. There's just something comforting about waking up on a lazy weekend morning and starting to cook something delicious. We all get so busy, especially during the work week that it's rare to have a hot breakfast anymore. It's so hard to find the time. I think that's what makes it feel a bit more special, really. For a while there we were making a point to make a nice brunch for ourselves every weekend, but between forgetting to go to the market the night before and getting busier as the weather gets warmer, it doesn't always happen now. There's always breakfast for dinner, I guess.

One of the things I really love about Vegan Brunch is the nice variety of recipes. There are quite a few in there that I've used for lunch or dinner. (The Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes being one of my favorites of that kind!) There are actually quite a few recipes in there that would be a great side dish for a potluck or even a summer picnic. I'm excited to try a few more of those this year.

I was flipping through the book last weekend looking for a recipe I hadn't tried and came across Poppy Seed Pull-Apart Rolls. I usually bake bread every weekend, but I had too many things to do on Saturday last week so I didn't get around to doing it. I haven't made a yeast bread in ages so I thought this sounded like a fun one to try.

I'm so used to using a starter now that I've forgotten how slow yeast doughs can be. Even though I had just bought my yeast a couple of months before and always keep it in the fridge, all of the risings took about twice as long for me. Keep that in mind when you're making this. You could try using the rapid-rise yeast, that would probably speed things up a bit. You also want to make sure to keep your dough in a warm area, away from any drafts because that'll slow it down quite a bit, too. I wasn't in a rush when I was making these, but I was kind of bummed that it took so long to rise. No problem, though. It was such a nice day that day that we went and hung out in the park for a bit as the dough was rising.

These rolls were quite tasty. Goodness, I can't even remember the last time I made rolls of any kind. I especially liked these with a little smear of Earth Balance on them. They were good for a few days after baking, but I think they were best when they were still warm from the oven. The cool thing about this recipe is that you can easily cut it in half and just use a smaller pan to bake them in. I used one of my springform pans which seemed to work out quite nicely. I took the sides off and then didn't have to deal with transferring the rolls to a plate.

I bet these cute little poppy seed rolls would be really good for making tiny sandwiches, actually. It would be something cute for a picnic or as finger food at a party. I would definitely make these again. I probably will, actually, but next time I'll just make half since it was hard for just the two of us to eat them all.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Win a Copy of The Joy of Vegan Baking

Who doesn't like free stuff? I've decided to have a few contests to give away some cookbooks that I don't really use or that I have doubles of. I'm still deciding how often to do this, but I might make it a monthly thing. Awesome!

This month you can win a copy of The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I've had this one for a while and only used it once or twice. It should definitely go into the hands of someone who would use it more than I do!

All you have to do to enter is post a comment on this blog post telling me what kinds of things you'd like to see on this blog. Is there something that you'd like me to do an instructional step-by-step thing for? A cookbook you've been wanting to try, but are curious how the recipes turn out? Is there some vegetable or fruit that you're not sure what to do with and you need ideas? Do you wish I posted more soup recipes? Let me know and you're automatically entered to win the book.

I'll use a random number generator to choose the winner. This is open to everyone, no matter where you live. Yay for international contests! :) The contest ends on Sunday, June 26.


If you have this cookbook, you can make brownies and stuff. Doesn't that picture make you want brownies? (The one in the picture is the Fudgy Wudgy brownies recipe from Veganomicon made with raspberries instead of blueberries with some vanilla soy ice cream on top. Yum!)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Spring Greens and Rice Soup

So it's spring and summer's right around the corner. I'm loving that the summer farmer's market is open again. We moved a few months ago, too so now the market is in the park just a block from our place. It's pretty awesome to walk over there first thing in the morning on Saturdays and get some fresh produce for the week. Right now there's a plethora of greens and not a huge selection of much else. It makes sense, unless people are growing in a greenhouse it's not the season for harvesting many things for a bit. I'm not complaining, though, I love greens of any sort. It's amazing what wonderful varieties there are to choose from.

So many beautiful, local, organic lettuces are available right now. It can get tiring having salads all of the time, though, as delicious as they can be. Did you ever think of cooking the salad greens? I know, I know. It sounds kind of weird. I thought that at first, too. But, really, when you think about it, what's the difference between steaming some chard or spinach and steaming some spring greens that you'd typically use for a salad? I definitely recommend trying it sometime. You can get such a wonderful varieties of flavor into your greens this way.

I especially like adding some salad greens to soups, much like one of my favorites, the Spring Greens and Rice Soup. I got the idea for this soup from reading something online that talked about adding romaine and butter lettuce to a soup. I was intrigued and immediately concocted this recipe. It's the perfect soup for spring or summer. It's not heavy at all and you can alter the flavor profile by changing the lettuces that you decide to use.

Using risotto rice instead of regular white or brown rice makes the soup taste a bit creamy. It adds quite a bit of awesome to the pot. I would suggest not substituting a different kind of rice. You want the creaminess in the broth and the softness of the arborio rice. Trust me, it's a big difference in this recipe.

If you're not able to get some fresh greens from the farmers market, you can totally use some of those bags of baby lettuces. I've done it that way before and had great success. My favorite combination doing it that way is to use two of the big boxes of lettuce. One of spinach and one of the Earthbound Farms Herb Salad Mix. If you use that one, you don't need to add any fresh herbs because there are already some in there. A nice shortcut, especially if you're trying to make something quick after work. If you're using heads of lettuces, butter lettuce, romaine, radicchio and escarole are all good choices. Maybe use 3 small heads of varying lettuces in addition to some spinach or chard if you're going that route. Just make sure to chop the lettuce leaves coarsely to make them easier to eat.

Oh, did I mention that this recipe comes together is almost no time? Yeah, it's awesome for making on a night when you want something homemade but just don't have the energy to spend an hour chopping and stirring. Plus, this is a one-pot recipe. Not a ton of stuff to clean up, either.

One more thing, use this recipe as a guide. You can add more or less carrots, celery and herbs as you like. Feel free to substitute different herbs or even just buy one of those multi-herb packs and use whatever's in there. This is a really adaptable recipe. Just make sure to keep the broth and rice at the same ratio as I have here since the rice will soak up a bunch of broth, though feel free to add more broth if you want a thinner soup.

Spring Greens and Rice Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons non-dairy margarine or olive oil (I like the buttery flavor that Earth Balance lends to this, but go ahead and use just olive oil if you'd rather.)
1-2 carrots, finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
2 ribs celery, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt (if you're using salted vegetable broth, you might skip this and just taste and add salt at the end)
1 bundle of spinach, coarsely chopped (or one of those boxes of spinach leaves)
1large bag of mixed salad greens, any kind, chopped if the leaves are too big (or one of those boxes of mixed greens like these)
6 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup arborio rice

Heat the olive oil and margarine in a large soup pot over medium heat. Saute the carrots, celery and onions for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the herbs and salt and cook for another minute. Stir in the greens and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the broth and nutritional yeast and stir. Add the arborio rice and raise the heat to medium-high. Once the soup is just starting to boil, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Pizza Box Cat Bed

This is what my cat, Piper, does when we bring home vegan pizza from Rebellious Tomato. I think she just likes that the box is super warm. Clearly that means we brought it home as a new bed for her.


So cute, isn't she? She slept on this box for hours. Even after I moved her to get some more pieces of pizza out of the box, she got right back up there. Hilarious.

I've been super busy with a bunch of stuff lately, so I promise a real post soon. Plus - I'm going to do a few giveaways to get rid of some cookbooks I never use. Sweet!