Catching Up

Can you believe how quickly April is disappearing?! I am very excited for warmer weather, lots of bike rides, and a month-long road trip Tim and I will be taking soon. But, for now, here are some highlights from the past few weeks:

Beautiful Portland sunset taken from my kitchen window

Tulips!

View of the Astoria Bridge and the meeting of the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean (taken from the top of the Astoria Column in Astoria, OR)

Bald Eagle at Fort Stevens State Park on the Oregon Coast

Relaxing under the St. John’s Bridge at Cathedral Park

Tim and his dream bike – We spent an afternoon with my dad (who was visiting from out of town) at some crazy auto-themed flea market at the Portland International Raceway. There was more than enough weird stuff for sale. I saw the coolest El Camino.

Mini gluten-free cutout cookies (I may have eaten the whole batch…)

Shanghai Noodle Bowl = brown rice noodles + lots of shiitake mushrooms + kale + marinated soy curls + tasty sauce

Tomorrow I am spending a majority of the day baking in my kitchen. The World Wide Vegan Bake Sale is happening in Portland on Sunday (Happy Earth Day!!!) and I am bringing plenty of yummy treats! So far my list includes: Lovely Lemon Cupcakes, Pizza Rolls, Chocolate Caramel Cookie Bars, Snickerdoodles, and maybe Ginger Cookies!!! I plan on taking lots of pictures while simultaneously devouring treats, so stay tuned for a recap of the event next week!!

Happy Weekend!!!

Stuffing Cookies

Today I spent a majority of my time in the kitchen baking cookies (and bread). My birthday cupcakes haven’t disappeared and neither has the delicious vegan fudge spread Tim’s mom sent me. It seems as though a sugar palace exists in my apartment! I am not fretting too much though because Tim loves treats and can eat them before I overindulge. The cookies I baked today are a test recipe for Kittee’s forthcoming vegan and gluten-free cookzine. She is a gluten-deleting wonder!

The recipe is for Marshmallow Stuffed Cookies. They have three simple steps: bake the cookies, add the marshmallows (Dandies, in this case), and coat in a chocolaty glaze (therefore encasing the marshmallows). Here are the cookies before being glazed:

They look like cookie faces, don’t they?

And after:

In my clumsiness, I managed to sweep my fingers through the glazed tops of at least half the cookies. I need a vegan robot buddy to help me transport cookies from a cooling rack to a plate.

These cookies are sweet, delicious, fun to make, and even more fun to eat. If you don’t tell people there is a marshmallow surprise hiding under the glaze, they will be delighted when they bite into their cookie(s)!

“A” is for Almond-Orange Sweet Rolls

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Earlier this year I was busier than a bee testing recipe after recipe for Celine and Joni’s soon-to-be released cookbook, 500 Vegan Recipes. Several (I mean, MANY) of the recipes became repeat favorites and the following is one of them:

Almond-Orange Sweet Rolls

Almond-Orange Sweet Rolls

The recipe is actually called Almond Spelt Sweet Rolls, but I was out of spelt flour for this batch and subbed AP flour instead. You can find the recipe here, because Celine is a sweetie and posted some of the cookbook recipes on her website! The rolls are sweetened with agave, studded with raisins, and coated with crunchy raw sugar/orange zest mixture. The interior is soft, fluffy, and subtly sweet. They are the perfect rolls to have alongside a cup of tea or coffee. In fact, they are so delicious that I had to hide them from Tim because he was devouring them. We eventually had to play the Hot/Cold game because he desperately needed a sweet roll fix and he was getting increasingly moody. Make these and be extra happy.

Almond-Orange Sweet Roll 3

Portland’s Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale!

My tummy has finally settled after the sweet indulgences from Saturday’s Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in Portland. The sale went incredibly well and I had a lot of fun spending the day with Kris from the Nom! Nom! Nom! blog and her husband. Not only is she an amazingly talented baker and organizer of events, but she is also super sweet and kind. We ended up with a small stash of baked treats that didn’t sell, which we happily divided up amongst the three of us to snarf down later (and of course, I had to save some for Tim… Right?). It was very gratifying to see so many folks stop by the sale with generous spirits and walk away with bags of goodies – so much compassion for animals!!! The money earned from the Portland bake sale will benefit House of Dreams, which is a no-kill kitty shelter in Portland. Hooray!!! Even though Tim and I don’t have any pets (allergies), we do love to visit the super cool kitty who lives down the street. He drools puddles every time Tim approaches and purrs like crazy. Fluffy, kinda fat, and a bit wobbly in the walk – he is usually found lounging in the sun.

Anyways, what yummy loveliness helped earn money for House of Dreams? Lots and lots of stuff! I spent nearly eight hours straight baking for the sale, and I know Kris spent around eleven hours baking as well. We also had some other people drop off stuff for the sale! So nice! Here, take a peek:

Chocolate Almond Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate Almond Sandwich Cookies (recipe at the end of this post!)

Goodie Bars

Goodie Bars

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Mocha Stripe Cookies

Oh Joe's Brownies

Oh Joe’s Brownies

Sprouted Cinnamon Rolls

Sprouted Cinnamon Rolls

Apple Muffins

Apple Muffins

Ginger Cookies

Ginger Cookies

Banana Split Cupcakes

Banana Split Cupcakes and Strawberry Muffins

Hand Pies

Hand Pies

Strawberry Muffins

More Strawberry Muffins

Butterscotch Pecan Bars

Butterscotch Pecan Bars

The Table(s)

All together now! There were also Peanut Butter Brownies, a Marble Bundt Cake, Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Rolls, Jelly Donut Cupcakes, Blueberry and Green Tea Cupcakes, Lemon Drop Cookies, Almond Spelt Sweet Buns, and Peanut Butter Cookies! So much good stuff!!!! I can’t wait for next year… Although I may need to hire a baking helper/dishwasher because I made a huge mess of my kitchen and upped my anxiety levels a bit with all the baking!

And now, a recipe! The Chocolate Almond Sandwich Cookies seen above were one of my contributions to the sale. I adapted the recipe from a cookbook I have owned for a long time: The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook. While most of the recipes are not vegan, they are easy to meddle with. These cookies turned out very well and are not too difficult if you have some time to assemble them.

Chocolate Almond Sandwich Cookies (adapted from The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 cup whole, raw almonds

3/4 cup, plus 3 T unrefined sugar

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose (or white whole wheat) flour

1 t baking powder

1/8 t fine sea salt

1/2 cup vegan margarine

1 1/2 t Ener’G Egg Replacer mixed with 2 T warm water, and whisked vigorously

1/4 t pure almond extract

1/4 t pure vanilla extract

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

1. Process the almonds and 3 T of sugar in your food processor until finely ground. Set aside.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.

3. Beat the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar with the margarine in a stand mixer (or with a hand-held mixer) for about 3 minutes. Add in the Ener’G mixture and the extracts. Add in the almond mixture, blending well. Slowly add in the flour mixture and beat on low speed until smooth (don’t over-mix).

4. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

5. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

6. Using one teaspoon of dough for each cookie, portion into around 80 (I ended up with about 70 – but I ate some dough in the process…) balls (roll each portion between your palms to make them nice and round). Place the balls on cookie sheets lined with parchment or Silpats spacing them 1.5″ apart (they will spread while they bake).

7. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned. Keep a close watch on them as a few of mine were a bit overdone.

8. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

9. Melt your chocolate in a double boiler (or however you prefer to melt chocolate). Make sure your cookies have cooled completely before spreading about a 1/2 t of melted chocolate on a cookie and sandwiching it with a naked cookie. Continue until all cookies are mated with chocolate. Place them in the fridge to firm up the chocolate. These will keep in an airtight container for about 5 days, maybe less if it’s hot in your home.

I can’t stop eating these. They are pretty and fancy and will impress people’s pants off.