Christmas Cookies

Yum! Today I made 5 batches of vegan organic Christmas cookies each with some whole wheat flour. Recipe links are below. YUM!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Jam Cookies

Coconut Balls – pdf recipe

Peanut Butter Cookies – pdf recipe

Pistachio Sugar Cookies – I halved Vegnews.com’s recipe and added shortening and whole wheat flour. Next year I will use almonds instead of pistachios.

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread
  • 1/4 cup Spectrum Organic Shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup Daisy Organic Whole Wheat Pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup pistachios (ground)
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

When I was little, my mom would make strawberry shortcake for dinner one or two times during the very short local strawberry season. It was, of course, one of my favorite meals. She made the shortcakes with Bisquick, rolled them out, and cut them in perfect circles. They were not very sweet. I am  usually too lazy to roll out dough. Although this recipe is a bit more caky, it tastes like the shortcakes that I remember and is quite yummy!

Mix flour, salt, sugar, baking powder together in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter. (I am not talented enough to cut/mix with knifes so I use my fingers to mix well.) Mix milk, egg, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Add a bit of milk as needed to create a thick batter (thicker than cake mix). Spray 8×8 glass baking dish with high heat canola oil. Spread batter into dish. Sprinkle with about 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Bake at 400 for 20-25 min. Allow to cool. Top with fruit.

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This recipe is based on Your Vegan Mom’s recipe. It is so quick, easy, and yummy you will want to make these year round. They remind me of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

  • 1 cup Cheerio-like cereal
  • 3/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter, salted
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 ounces of vegan chocolate (I use 1 and 1/3 bar of Chocolove 73%)

Use a food processor to pulverize the cereal. Add peanut butter and powdered sugar and process until mixed and starting to form a ball. Make 24 small 3/4 inch round balls. Place on a plate and put in the freezer for 30 minutes or more. Melt chocolate in a double broiler. I use a glass 1 cup measuring cup with a handle and hang it over a pan of water. Once chocolate is melted, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Place a piece of wax paper on a cookie tray. Remove balls from the freezer and shape into eggs (or leave as balls). Drop eggs one at a time into the chocolate. Use a fork to lift the egg, allow to drip, scrape the bottom of the fork on the edge of the glass to remove excess, and carefully slide onto wax paper. When all eggs are dipped, put the tray in the freezer. If you have extra chocolate, you can redip eggs after they cool to make the chocolate thicker. This photo shows a double dipped egg. I doubled dipped about half my eggs with this amount of chocolate. Once chocolate has hardened, remove eggs from wax paper and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Vegan Jam Cookies

jamcookieThis recipe is based on a thumbprint cookie recipe, and these cookies have become one of my favorites over the years. I like that they add a bit of natural color to the cookie tray.

Combine shortening, sugar, “egg,” and vanilla. Mix well. In a separate bowl, combine flours and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir. Use your hands to further mix the dough. Roll the dough into 1″ balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press your thumb into the center of each cookie to make a well for the jam. Fill each cookie with about 1 teaspoon of jelly. Bake at 375º for 12-14 minutes until just barely starting to brown around the edges. Do not over cook. Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, and then remove to cool on a cookie rack. Makes about 16 cookies.

**Note about the flour: I use a locally milled flour, Daisy’s Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. On the bag it says to use an extra 2 tablespoons for each cup of  flour in the recipe. So when I make these cookies I actually use a total of 1 cup and 2 tablespoons. Depending on your flour you may need to add 1-2 tablespoons of flour to achieve a consistency that you can roll.

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DSC01742Happy Thanksgiving!! I am very excited that I was able to make a yummy vegan pumpkin pie. Previously, I made a pumpkin pie using tofu and did not like the consistency. I made this recipe with both a Hubbard and a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, and I preferred the dense consistency of the Hubbard. The spices at the amounts shown are mild.

  • 1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
  • 2 cups of puréed pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup plain soy milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 TB cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • small pinch of cloves (optional)

DSC01736To make puréed pumpkin: Cut the pumpkin into sections. Scrape out seeds. Steam for 15-30 minutes until tender (time depends on pumpkin type). Let cool. Scrape the pumpkin from the skin. Food process until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in the food processor. Mix well. Pour into unbaked pastry shell, place in the oven, and lay a piece of tin foil over the pie. Bake for about 1 hour. Uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Cool completely on a cooling rack, cover, and refrigerate for overnight before serving.

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acorn1

When I was a child, my mother made acorn squash filled with brown sugar and butter. It was sometimes a desert or a side or a meal in itself. It is so easy and a special fall treat everyone should have at least once per season. I like it as a side dish with a light meal of rice, veggies, and tofu.

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 2 TB Earth Balance buttery spread
  • 2 TB brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Wash acorn squash and cut in half.
  2. Scoop out seeds and discard.
  3. Place acorn squash open/cut side down on a baking tray.
  4. Bake at 350º for about 30-40 minutes, until tender.
  5. Remove from the oven and turn so each half is like a bowl.
  6. Put in each half: 1 TB of Earth Balance, 1 TB of brown sugar, and 1/2 ts of cinnamon.
  7. Return to oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes.
  8. Serve warm.acorn2
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bananabreadI have made Susan’s delicious Blueberry-Banana Bread (from FatFree Vegan Kitchen) a bunch of times. It is so moist and fabulously fat free. I highly recommend it. Yesterday, I was in the mood for traditional banana bread. Below is my traditional version of Susan’s recipe. So easy, yummy, and healthy!

  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup soymilk
  • 3 large bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup vegan sugar
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts
  1. Pour the lemon juice into the soymilk and let stand until it curdles.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas.  Add the soymilk/lemon juice, sugar, and vanilla. Mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and stir.
  5. Fold in the walnuts.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F.
  7. Spray a loaf pan with high-heat canola oil. Scrape the mix into the pan.
  8. Bake for an hour. Let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from the pan.

Topped with earth balance organic buttery spread this is irresistible.

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puddingI found Soyatoo Soy Whip at my health food store, and oh my, is it yummy (and expensive)! But as soon as I tasted it, I wanted to put it on chocolate pudding. So . . .

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup vegan sugar
  • ¼  cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups unsweetened soymilk (If you have sweetened, cut back on the sugar a bit.)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread

Mix the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt in a 2 quart saucepan. Gradually blend in the soymilk. Whisk together. Cook over medium low heat (4 out of 10 on my stove). Whisk frequently for the first 6-7 minutes. Then stir constantly with a wooden spoon (the kind with a flat side to scrape the bottom works best) until thick for another 7-9 minutes. Total cook time 13-16 minutes. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and butter. Stir well. Let cool for at least 10 minutes and stir occasionally while cooling. Pour into serving dishes. Place in the fridge and chill for about 2 to 3 hours. Makes about 2 cups.

Making this pudding does take some time (about 20 min) and focus (not to burn it), but I find the stirring very relaxing and the end result is well worth the effort. There are many pudding recipes that call for tofu, and I am sure they are wonderful. Since the soymilk I buy comes in quarts, I always find myself with soymilk that needs to be used up so this is pudding is an easy and yummy way use all of my soymilk. To make vanilla pudding, omit the cocoa powder and add 2 more teaspoons of vanilla.

1/2 cup (a quarter of the recipe) has 144 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, and 4.5 grams of protein.

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DSC01067As a vegan, I miss jello salads, but who wants to eat animal bone gelatin? Ick. Then I saw Susan’s recipe for Red, White, and Blue Fruit Terrine on FatFree Vegan Kitchen. It was so beautiful that I had to try it. Her recipe called for agar powder. I had never used agar until this recipe, and now I am a huge fan!

I did a little research and here is my “Ode to Agar-Agar”:

Agar-agar is an odorless, tasteless, vegetable gelatin made from certain species of red algae. It has been used in Japan since the 15th century. Available flaked, powdered, or in bars, agar-agar can be used as a gelling agent to make jellies, puddings, custards, etc.

So what is up with saying agar twice? It comes from the Malay word agar-agar meaning jelly. Many refer to it simply as “agar,” but I found a website that described different types of agars used in laboratories, and they were just plain nasty, so using the full word “agar-agar” is a good thing.

Not only is agar-agar a great vegan substitute for gelatin, but agar-agar gels more firmly than gelatin, and it sets and melts at a higher temperature. Agar-agar gels at approximately 88ºF, but once formed, it does not melt until 136ºF. Your “jello” mold will stay firm and beautiful at the picnic even in the summer heat.

Agar-agar is considered a health food. It is comprised of over 80% soluble fiber. It is high in iodine, contains trace amounts of calcium, iron, and magnesium, and is calorie free! The “kanten diet” (kanten is the Japanese word for agar-agar) recommends eating agar as a simple way to feel full. It works by expanding in the stomach, which means you eat less. And a study in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism showed the agar diet resulted in marked weight loss due to the reduced calorie intake.

To use agar-agar, add it to your liquid of choice (usually fruit juice), bring it to a gentle boil, then simmer while stirring until it completely dissolves (about 5 minutes). The liquid will gel as it cools.

Here’s a general guide on how to use agar in recipes:

  • Substitute agar powder for gelatin using equal amounts.
  • 1 tablespoon of agar-agar flakes is equal to 1 teaspoon of agar powder.
  • To set 1 cup of liquid, use 1 teaspoon of agar powder or 1 tablespoon of agar-agar flakes.
  • It is important to note that more acidic foods may require a higher agar to liquid ratio.

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As for the Red, White, and Blue Fruit Terrine, I followed Susan’s recipe exactly except I couldn’t find agar powder, so I bought Eden Foods’ Agar Agar Sea Vegetable Flakes. I used 2 tablespoons of flakes for the recipe. With agar-agar, there are endless possibilities of pretty fruit dishes and vegan jello recipes! YUM!!

pie2

Get ready to say “yum”! This vegan chocolate peanut butter pie will WOW even your most hesitant nonvegan friends. And it is the easiest thing you could ever make.

  1. Melt chocolate chips.
  2. Put one pack of tofu into food processor or blender; bend until smooth.
  3. Add melted chocolate; blend.
  4. Scoop into the pie crust.
  5. Scrape the food processor as best as you can – no need to wash between layers.
  6. Put second pack of tofu into food processor; blend until smooth.
  7. Add peanut butter and sugar; blend well.
  8. Scoop onto the chocolate layer.
  9. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  10. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

This is not a low calorie treat. One twelth of this pie (as shown) contains 334 calories, 20 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, and 10 grams of protein. One twelth sounds like a small piece, but this pie is rich and a small piece is plenty. Enjoy!

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