Hello everybody! It is hard to believe that December is coming to a close already. Sunshine has been making an appearance nearly every single day this month in Portland. Bright blue skies and some much needed warmth make hiking in December the perfect activity for escaping the holiday chaos.
Recently, Tim and I took advantage of a particularly gorgeous day and ventured off into the Opal Creek Wilderness in Oregon. We were the only people on the trail. It was chilly and icy patches dotted our path, but we still had a wonderful day admiring the beauty surrounding us.
I love when the sun’s rays cut through a dark forest!
By the end of our 7 mile hike I was losing energy. We usually pack a lunch to eat midway through the day, but it was too cold to stop for more than a few minutes at a time. Tim did make the mistake of asking me to carry a ziplock filled with tortilla chips. I greedily devoured them while he climbed down some wet rocks to take a photograph. Lesson learned? Never leave me alone with a bag of tortilla chips.
Can’t wait for snowshoeing!
Did you know that today is National Brownie Day? To celebrate this incredible holiday, I am going to share my recipe for Peppermint Crunch Brownies. Make these and dunk them in a mug of hot chocolate, I dare you!
These brownies are perfect for the holidays. They are dense, fudgy, chocolaty, and topped with crunchy candy cane pieces. What’s not to like? You could bake up a batch to give to people you love if you feel like sharing!
Peppermint Crunch Brownies
Makes 9 large or 16 small brownies
1/2 cup non-dairy butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips (please use organic, fair trade chocolate)
1/2 cup pureed silken tofu
1 cup organic unrefined sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (whole wheat pastry flour works well too)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
5 full size vegan peppermint candy canes, crushed
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease an 8×8-inch baking pan. Set aside.
2. Melt non-dairy butter and chocolate chips in the microwave or in a double boiler. Whisk until well blended. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and whisk in pureed tofu, sugar, and extracts.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add to chocolate mixture and stir until well combined. Batter will be stiff.
4. Spread batter into prepared pan and top with candy cane pieces, pressing them gently into the batter. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until just beginning to set in the center. Immediately transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 4 hours. Do not skip this step – it is essential to ensuring the brownies set up properly and become extra fudgy. Trust me!
5. Once chilled, slice into squares and devour with friends!
I am pretty sure that the clocks in my apartment are working against me – making time pass quicker than normal. No matter how much I try to stretch out my days, darkness swallows Portland by 5 PM and my productivity levels drop. I’ve been busy though! Here are some highlights:
Tim and I went to watch a cyclo-cross race a few weeks ago (at the farm where we pick berries in the summertime). I am always amazed at the abilities of these riders. I especially love watching the women riders – they kick some serious butt!
Thanksgiving is often a quiet affair – just Tim and I at our apartment cooking and eating together (just like every other day!). This year, we stayed with our friends in Seattle and made a magnificent feast that left all of us too stuffed to do much more than play games and watch movies. Oh, and we squeezed in some time for breakfast at Mighty O Donuts (can’t live without ‘em!). We have actually contemplated moving to Seattle – I just need to find a job first…
I spent a majority of this past week cutting out hundreds of little red hearts and a considerable number of teal-colored cats. What for? I was asked to design some cards for the Teal Cat Project website! The proceeds from these cards will go directly to House of Dreams, a cat rescue shelter in Portland, OR. These cards are perfect for the holidays. Please consider purchasing some cards and helping some kitties who need extra love! I’ve also been updating my Etsy shop with new cards!
Tim and I took a road trip into central Oregon today and inhaled our fair share of waterfalls, rolling hills, and mountains. The sun was shining all day and we enjoyed a picnic lunch amongst curious birds and the sound of rushing water.
Lastly, I am working on writing a small cookzine with about 25 vegan recipes. I don’t know when it will be available yet, but I will be sure to let you know!
Hope all of you are enjoying the first week of December so far!