Vegetable soup

Vegetable soup

I have a bad habit of forgetting to eat a proper dinner when I’ve got a lot on my plate. And when things get hectic I turn into a fat kid and vegetables are (gasp!) usually pushed to the wayside. Enter: oversized bowls of cereal and/or bags of chocolate chips. Yeah, sometimes I eat chocolate chips for dinner. It’s pretty disgusting, but it’s the one thing that makes me feel better when I’m under the pressure of project deadlines and final exams. Well, that and buying dresses from Madewell. But the former’s much easier on my pocketbook. Ha, I just said pocketbook. My Great Oma would be proud.

Anyway, since eating cereal and chocolate for dinner is frowned upon by most societies, I figured I should probably grow up and start eating like an adult. Enter: vegetable soup. It’s simple to make and can easily feed one (smallish) person for four days. But the best part? It comes together in 10 minutes and you’ve hardly got to keep an eye on it. Perfect for when dinner is the least of your concerns. Which is more times than often around here.

VEGETABLE SOUP (GF)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
7 c. filtered water
3 bouillon cubes
7 oz tomato paste
3 c. diced tomatoes
16 oz frozen peas
16 oz frozen corn
8 oz frozen green beans
8 oz frozen lima beans
2 carrots, sliced
4 celery stalks, sliced
1-2 russet potatoes, cubed
1/2 c. TVP, optional

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and stir until they become transparent; about 2-3 minutes. Add the water, bouillon cubes and tomato paste; bring to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients; cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 90 minutes. Remove lid, increase heat to medium and let cook for at least an additional 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. If using TVP, add it during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Serve with salt, pepper and nutritional yeast. Soup can be stored in the fridge for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to six weeks.
Yield: 8-10 servings

Chocolate chunk cookie bars

Chocolate chunk cookie bars

It took me a few days to decide whether I wanted to call these Chocolate Chunk Blondies or Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars. Because really, is there a difference? After conducting more Google searches than I’m willing to admit, I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t. So I flipped a coin and cookie bars won. I wish I was kidding, but I’m not.
Oh, and here’s a view from the side. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get ready for my coffee date with Cara.

Update: Cara and I bonded over multiple cups of coffee and steel cut oats. And learned that our lives are eerily parallel. Right down to our tiny bladders. Proof (of us meeting, not of our tiny bladders).

CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIE BARS (GFO)

1/4 c. vegan butter
1 c. cane sugar
1 tbsp unsulphured molasses
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp soft silken tofu
1/4 c. almond milk
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
Pinch of baking soda
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 c. unbleached flour
1/2 c. chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line an 8×8 metal baking pan with parchment paper; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, molasses and vanilla extract using a hand mixer on high speed. Beat for 1-2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Mix in the tofu, milk, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add the flour and mix just until combined. Using an offset spatula, spread the batter evenly over the prepared pan. Press the chunks into the top of the dough. Bake at 350˚F for 25-30 minutes. Cut into 2″ squares and store in an air tight container for up to three days.
Yield: 16 bars

Gingersnaps

Gingersnaps

Homemade gingersnaps have intimidated me from day one (and day one was, like, four years ago). I always had a feeling they’d never measure up to the store bought variety because, let’s face it, sometimes the big companies just do it better. They spend thousands of dollars developing and perfecting recipes and I can’t even begin compete with that. Except, now that I’ve tackled gingersnaps in my tiny kitchen, I’m fairly certain mine could give Paul Newman’s a run for his money.
*And might I add, these go absolutely wonderful with a mug of black coffee. Forget about submerging them in milk; drown your gingersnaps in coffee and you will not be sorry. 

Ginger snaps

These gingersnaps are thin, crunchy and a little chewy. If you’d prefer them to be soft, store them in an air tight container for a few hours before serving. If you want them to keep their crunch, store them in a not-so-air tight container. I tried convincing myself to reduce the sugar, but I couldn’t do it. The sugar is part of what makes them so delicious. And for those of you who are gluten intolerant, simply replace the flour with a gluten-free flour mix and xanthan gum.

GINGERSNAPS (GFO)

1/2 c. vegan butter
3/4 c. cane sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 c. unsulphured molasses
3 tbsp vegan sour cream
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 c. unbleached flour

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two large baking sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, molasses, vanilla extract and sour cream (or tofu) using a hand mixer on high speed; beat for 1-2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt and baking soda; mix just until incorporated. Add the flour and mix until combined. Using a medium cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake at 350˚F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. Store in a container for up to three days.

Yield: 30 cookies

Lemons

It Chooses You

Things have been noticeably quiet around here, huh? I’m sorry, but the silence will linger for at least a few more days as life decided to throw me a whole lot of lemons. And all I want to do is throw them back, but when I do I just get more. So I’m sitting here, getting pounded with these lemons because they say it’s good for you; that it’ll thicken your skin. But I don’t know about that. It hurts.
Aside from dealing with copious amounts of acidic fruit, I’ve been reading Miranda July’s It Chooses You. In the few short hours I’ve owned it, it’s moved me. For those of you who don’t know, the book is about Miranda’s journey of meeting strangers through the PennySaver. Feeling inspired – and since I’ve been trolling Craigslist for an apartment for the past two weeks, anyway – I decided I’d keep an open mind and embrace the strange connections that could arise from such searching. Then yesterday I clicked on an ad that I couldn’t close. No, really. That spinny beach ball appeared and the ad stared at me for a good five minutes before Safari gave in and shutdown. But then I found myself sifting through Craigslist just to find this particular ad again. For some reason, I had a strong desire to know this person. 
This person is a 62 year old retired forensic psychologist who lives in one of those historic mansions on Cheesman Park. With a front porch and a library and more bedrooms than one man needs. He’s lived a lot of life, he’s depicted the minds of criminals and he lives in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods I’ve ever seen. This man, I’m going to meet him in two hours. And I baked cookies just for the occasion.

Apple crisp

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As a small girl, I spent many weekends overnight at my Great Oma’s house (Oma is Grandma in Deutsch, for those of you who weren’t aware). On mornings when she was feeling particularly generous, she’d prepare me a warm bowl of apple crisp, covered with cold milk, for breakfast. I’d sit at the dining room table and watch as she flipped through her recipe book, shoveling milky spoonfuls into my mouth. I didn’t know it at the time, but she was slowly planting a love for baking into my heart. A love that grew so big, I honestly cannot imagine my life without it.

This morning, I sat down with a bowl of apple crisp prepared just the way my Great Oma used to make it. Only this time, I was the one flipping through her recipe book. I closed my eyes and imagined being that small, blonde haired girl again; I imagined the smell of Great Oma’s kitchen, the knobby table legs and the way the morning sunlight used to reflect off of the wind chime on her patio. I opened my eyes, shoveled a spoonful into my mouth and, for a moment, I felt like that blonde haired girl again.

Apple crisp

The thing I like about this apple crisp is that it’s extra heavy on the crisp. If you’d prefer it be apple heavy, halve the crisp portion. If you don’t plan on eating this shortly after you make it, you’d be better off making it in ramekins then baking as needed; for some reason, the gluten-free version doesn’t crisp up as well when reheated. I suggest using a variety of apples; I used two honey crisp, one gala and one granny smith. Peel the apples if you want, but I like the texture of the apples with their skins.

APPLE CRISP (GF)

4 apples, chopped
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. buckwheat flour
1/4 c. oat groat flour
1/4 c. almond meal
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 c. vegan butter
1/4 c. rolled oats

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Lightly oil a 8-9″ metal baking pan; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flours, almond meal, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Press half of the crumble mixture into the prepared pan, then layer with apples. Mix the oats into the remaining crumble then spread over apples. Bake at 375˚F for 30-35 minutes. Serve warm.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Pumpkin cinnamon roll cookies

Pumpkin cinnamon roll cookies

Technically Vegan MoFo is over, but the pumpkin recipes are still piled up in my post box. It’s laughable considering, when I decided I was going to do a pumpkin theme, I freaked out about how I was going to come up with 21 pumpkin recipes. And now I’ve got twice as many. I’m not going to share them all (yet), but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to introduce you to the one cookie that’s absolutely worth writing home about. Because it’s just that good. I suppose I should also inform you that these cookies are magic. Once you make them you’ll understand.
PUMPKIN CINNAMON ROLL COOKIES

1/2 c. vegan butter
1/2 c. powdered cane sugar
1 tsp unsulphured molasses
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp almond milk
1/4 c. pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 3/4 c. unbleached flour
Filling
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/4-1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Glaze
1/2 c. powdered cane sugar
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp almond milk

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, molasses, vanilla extract and milk on high speed for 1-2 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree and continue beating for an additional 30-45 seconds. Add the baking soda and salt; mix until combined. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down the sides as needed. Mix until all of the flour is incorporated then pinch the dough to test the consistency; it should be smooth and have a bit of elasticity. If it’s too dry, add additional milk, or if it’s too sticky, add additional flour.
Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Roll the dough out into a 10×18 rectangle (approximately 1/4″ thick). Brush with butter then sprinkle with brown sugar (up to 1/2 cup) and cinnamon. Roll dough tightly, starting at the long end, into a log. Transfer to a baking sheet and freeze for 15 minutes, or until firm.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a large baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/2″ segments and line on baking sheet. Bake at 350˚F for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. While the cookies are cooling, prepare the glaze by mixing the sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Once the cookies have cooled, drizzle with glaze. Store in an air tight container for up to three days.
Yield: 2-3 dozen cookies