Quick & Easy Dinner

Pasta Dinner 02December Photo Project 2012: Day #16

Today was spent completing some freelance work and lounging around in my jammies. Breakfast = chocolate chip pancakes with homemade apple butter, lunch = leftover mighty miso soup, and dinner = pasta with marinara, spinach, portobellos, red peppers, and Field Roast Mexican Chipotle vegan sausages. Lots of fuel for lots of laziness I guess!!



My New Favorite Tea

I am not a coffee drinker. Once upon a time you could convince me to enjoy an iced mocha, but not anymore. Tea is my warm beverage of choice nowadays. My favorite brands include Mighty Leaf, Stash, Traditional Medicinals, Numi, and whatever my co-op carries in their bulk section. Recently I was rummaging through the shelves at the local Marshall’s and made a new tea discovery! I was excited not only for a bargain, but a tea that was both organic and fair trade. That’s a match made for Amy. Did I mention it was a chai variety? Clipper Indian Chai Tea:

indian chai 01December Photo Project 2012: Day #15

Oh my, this tea is special. Hints of cinnamon, lemon, cloves, and fennel will warm your lil’ soul. I love mine with a bit of vanilla almond milk and a touch of agave nectar.

What’s your favorite warming beverage?


A Few Things I Love

Work was busy today. Holiday orders, lots of customers, and folding a million hoodies kept me on my toes. The weather switched between rain and sunshine. I sampled a co-worker’s homemade cheddar from Artisan Vegan Cheese. Overall, it was a productive, fulfilling day. Here are some photographs of my favorite places inside Herbivore:

Herbivore 01December Photo Project 2012: Day #14

I love looking out the doors any time of day. I took this photograph when it was sunny and raining at the same time. You can’t see the rain, but it was the start of a crazy downpour. Just outside the doors is a huge street space dedicated to bike parking! The dude mannequin on the right side of the frame is my favorite. I get to undress him and fancy him up in new duds once a week. He doesn’t even get embarrassed!

Herbivore 02

A portion of the bookshelves that hold a massive quantity of vegan literature, cookbooks, journals, calendars, and more. This is my favorite spot in the whole store. I am forever tidying crooked books and restocking the shelves. New books bring me great joy.

That’s all for today. My heart goes out to all the folks affected by the incident in Connecticut.



Double Chocolate Balsamic Cookies: A Recipe

Do you want to know the sign of a bad sweet tooth? It’s when you already have a fresh batch of cupcakes in the kitchen and you decide to make cookies too. An even greater indication is when your pantry isn’t properly stocked and you desperately improvise to make baking the cookies possible. That happened to me today. I woke up feeling a bit under the weather and still found the energy to bake. I guess cookies are the true best medicine? Yes, I think that’s what researchers are saying nowadays…

Onto those cookies! My pantry really was lacking in the ingredient department. I had plenty of sugar (of course), but hardly any flour, cocoa powder, or vanilla. Originally I wanted to make ginger cookies, but without ginger, that doesn’t work very well. So, chocolate cookies seemed fitting for my needs. These particular cookies use an unusual ingredient: balsamic vinegar (which, incidentally, I spilled all over the floor). I was hoping it would provide richness and a bit of ooomph, but I can’t really notice it in the baked cookies. Maybe more sophisticated palettes will detect it?

Double Chocolate Balsamic Cookies 02December Photo Project 2012: Day #13

A quick note about these cookies: they are sweet. I consider these a great indulgence. You can reduce the granulated sugar by a 1/4 cup if you prefer, but I like how they turned out. They would be lovely with your favorite vanilla ice cream! Also, this recipe would most likely work with all-purpose flour, all whole wheat pastry flour, or a combination of both. I was using up the last of a few different varieties of flour.

Double Chocolate Balsamic Cookies

Makes about 1 dozen cookies

1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips (please use organic/Fair Trade, here’s why)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar for sprinkling on top, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a bowl, vigorously whisk together oil and first two measures of sugar. Add in balsamic vinegar, vanilla, and flax mixture. Whisk until ingredients are well combined and smooth.

3. In a separate bowl, stir together flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Drop spoonfuls of dough (about 1 1/2 tablespoons per cookie) onto a baking sheet. You can use a cookie scoop if you prefer – I like them because they make uniform, round, pretty cookies. People will be amazed at their beauty!

5. Put the last measure of sugar onto a plate. Take a ball of dough, gently press the top into the sugar mixture, and place it back on the cookie sheet. Make sure the cookies are flattened slightly. They will spread while baking, but the extra little push at the beginning helps.

6. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until cookies have flattened and cracked across the tops. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for several minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.



Artisan Vegan Cheese: Smoky Air-Dried Gouda

I don’t know if you are familiar with the hugely popular book, Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner, but you should be! The recipes are out of this world. I have only made two so far and they were happily devoured in record time. I know that there is a great variety of vegan cheeses on the market, but there is something so satisfying about making your own cheese at home.

The first recipe I tried was Philadelphia-Style Cream Cheese. I wrote a post about it in October. I am not a fan of Tofutti and Miyoko’s recipe was a dream come true. It is tangy, creamy, and smooth. Dozens of bagels were made in celebration.

Herby Cream Cheese 02

Earlier this week, I made the Air-Dried Gouda recipe. The only change I made was adding about a 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke. The outcome was unbelievable! It is the most delicious tasting cheese!! I must admit that I lost patience with the air-drying method (partially due to living in the Pacific Northwest = damp apartments = not ideal for air-drying homemade cheeses) and put it in the fridge after three days. It still slices, shreds, and spreads even though it isn’t super firm. Tim and I made mac-n-cheese, pizza, and a vegetable casserole with some of the gouda. We also enjoyed a good portion of it spread on crusty bread:

Smoky Gouda 02December Photo Project 2012: Day #12

Sadly, it is now gone (= time to make more!). I highly recommend this book. If you don’t have a copy, get one and start experimenting!! The two cheese recipes I made could fool an omnivore. They are that good. I will post more about this book as I make more of the recipes!