Easy Peasy Spaghetti Pie

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Cashews are one of my favorite nuts, if only because they pop up in so many vegan cheese recipes. And with their rich, savory, vaguely cheesy flavor, it’s no wonder why. (Gawker even rated them the Second-Best Nut of All Time. “Cashew: A crescent moon of flavor / In the night sky of nut jars.”)

In addition to some pretty rad dried strawberries, Gourmet Nuts and Dried Fruit also provided me a five pound bag of raw cashews to play around with.

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Naturally, I made cheesy pasta!

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So I was first introduced to the concept of Spaghetti Pie by Tami Noyes, by way of her most excellent cookbook, American Vegan Kitchen. (Seriously, this is one of a handful of cookbooks that I can’t recommend highly enough.) Since then, I’ve encountered variations on this theme in a number of places. (See, e.g., Bake and Destroy by Natalie Slater.) Over time, I’ve plucked elements from each recipe and smooshed and mashed and cobbled them together to create a version that’s a) easy; b) mostly sticks to ingredients that I’m likely to have on hand; and c) is still super freaking delicious.

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Spaghetti pie (or cake, or whatever you want to call it) typically has a bottom layer of pasta (either plain or lightly coated with sauce), followed by a tofu-based, ricotta-like cheese (this is where the cashews come in!), and then topped with pasta sauce and either vegan mozzarella cheese or some other bake-able topping, such as breadcrumbs mixed with nutritional yeast. You can get as complicated as you want; for example, by hand-roasting red peppers and then simmering them in your own special red sauce for a full day beforehand. One of my favorite things about this recipe is its versatility: sure, you can go all gourmet when time allows – but if you’re in a pinch, swapping out the special sauce for store-bought stuff saves time time without sacrificing quality (well, not too much, anyway).

Without further ado, I present: Kelly’s Easy Peasy Spaghetti Pie. (Yeah, I know it’s hot out. Still worth it.)

(More below the fold…)

Strawberry Banana Banana Bread

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

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A page from Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt, just because.
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When the folks at Gourmet Nuts and Dried Fruit offered me some goodies for review, I jumped at the chance to try their dried strawberries. Along with the smell of wet dogs and chlorinated pools, nothing says summer quite like berries. Specifically, strawberries. And while these bad girls aren’t summer fresh, I thought they might just be perfect for baking.

The first thing I noticed upon their arrival is that they look much plumper than expected – kind of like the candied strawberries, minus all the extra sugar. They have a nice consistency, vaguely reminiscent of the fruit leather I make every fall.

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Since strawberry-banana is one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations – and I just so happened to have three brown bananas chilling on the counter – I decided to whip up a loaf of my crowd-pleasing banana bread. In addition to diced dried bananas, it also has a wee bit of strawberry extract (totally optional but also totally yummy). For something different, swap out a few tablespoons of the sugar for strawberry syrup. Or just add it in to satisfy your sweet tooth. It’s pretty great either way!

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Fwiw, the strawberries also go quite well in oatmeal – they’re a nice change of pace from my usual dried cranberries, and make an otherwise boring breakfast feel a bit more like junk food. (Remember those instant oatmeal packs you ate as a kid, with the dinosaur eggs? Yeah, like that!)

 

Strawberry Banana Banana Bread

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Ingredients

1/2 cup margarine, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3-4 very ripe bananas, mashed well
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup plain or vanilla soy milk, mixed with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon strawberry extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
a dash of cinnamon
a handful of dried strawberries, diced

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Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 8″x4″ bread pan with non-stick cooking spray, or lightly coat with margarine.

2. Pour 1/4 cup soy milk into a small glass measuring cup. Add the 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Mix well and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugars. Add the wet ingredients – mashed bananas, soy milk, and vanilla and strawberry extracts – and mix well. Add the salt, cinnamon, and baking soda and sift in the flour, mixing until the batter is smooth and (relatively) creamy. Mix in the diced strawberries; toss in a second handful if desired.

4. Pour the batter into a prepared bread pan, evening out the top with a rubber spatula. Bake at 350F for 50 to 70 minutes, depending on the size of the loaf and your oven’s own quirks. You can check the bread’s progress by inserting a toothpick or knife into the loaf’s center; when it comes out clean and the top of bread attains a nice golden color, you’ll know it’s done.

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Not-Quite-Vichyssoise with Oven-Roasted Potatoes

Monday, December 19th, 2016

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It’s been a while since I shared a shiny new recipe, or even just a photo or two or twenty of my latest donut haul from Ronald’s. (I am currently up to my elbows in fritters and bear claws, let me tell you!) With everything going on in the world/with my family, I just haven’t been feeling it. But I’m coming out of hiatus long enough to tell you all about this awesome, carbalicious soup I came up with.

So I’ve wanted to try a potato soup with roasted potatoes for quite some time now; I think the Loaded Baked Potato Soup from American Vegan Kitchen first gave me the idea, and I blogged about that four years ago!

Roasted potatoes are one of my favorites; I enjoy them with everything from Beast Burgers to tofu scrambles. Plus they’re so darned easy to make, just pop ’em in the oven and rotate, flip, rotate. I’ll never fry them on the stove top again!

Anyway, for this recipe, I used the Fancy Schmancy Vichyssoise from The Cheesy Vegan as a starting point. According to Wikipedia, Vichyssoise “is a thick soup made of puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream, and chicken stock. It is traditionally served cold but can be eaten hot.” For his version, Schlimm replaces the cream with tofu and swaps out chicken stock for the vegan version. I call mine “Not-Quite-Vichyssoise” because I skipped the leaks and added some chunky goodness in the form of roasted potatoes.

It’s actually pretty easy to make, especially if you have an immersion blender and can puree the soup right there in the pot. While the soup is cooking, roast the potatoes. The cook times are pretty similar and they should finish up about the same time. When serving, you can either dump the roasted potatoes right into the soup pot and mix, or sprinkle them on top of the soup like croutons or some other garnish. Mixing the potatoes right in with the soup will soften them up, especially with time, while sprinkle them on top will preserve their crispy goodness. I’m all for option b, personally.

As for the leftovers, you can throw any extra roasted potatoes in the pot and make a fresh batch to serve with the leftovers. You can never have too many potatoes, you know?

Pro tip: We had a little leftover Thanksgiving gravy hanging out in the fridge, the first time I made this. Not really even enough to serve with a plate of fries, but enough that I felt bad just tossing it (or eating it by the spoonful). So I had the genius idea to serve it with the soup: I heated it up, spooned the gravy into the bottom of my bowl, poured a heaping serving of soup on top, and then garnished with roasted potatoes. The gravy really took this dish to the next level. Definitely give this a try when you’re in desperate need of comfort food, okay?

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(More below the fold…)

Stacking the Shelves: May 2016

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

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First things first: My birthday was earlier this month. (Yay me!) Shane made me a chocolate cake with almond buttercream frosting AND BITS OF COOKIE DOUGH STUFFED INSIDE (genius!) and I got a big stack o’ comics and vegan thin mints and a Supernatural messenger bag that I’m maybe probably most definitely too old for.

(The Orphan Black TP is still on my wishlist, in case anyone wants to send me a late gift. Just saying.)

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I requested yet another journal from Blogging for Books; I’m pretty sure I have enough to cover the next decade at this point! Even though I’m kind of over the teeny tiny sizes, I just had to have the Brain Freeze Journal. It looks so much like a Neapolitan ice cream sammie I salivate a little every time I look at it!

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True story: I put in for a copy of Long May She Wave (also from Blogging for Books) mostly on accounta I was wondering just what the heck it was. A book of American ephemera? Tear-out postcards? A stationary set? As it turns out, it’s a cross between two and three: a faux book housing 100 individual postcards: 50 unique designs, with two of each so you can send a card/keep a card, if you’d like. Kind of neat, eh?

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Thanks go to Natalie C. Parker for this ARC of Places No One Knows! I also won an ebook of Beware the Wild in her twitter giveaway!

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For review through Goodreads: the children’s book Life Without Nico by Andrea Maturana and Francisco Javier Olea. This is the first GR giveaway I’ve won in, like, a year! That’s okay, though; since I started with NetGalley and Edelweiss, I’ve been entering fewer drawings for physical books, so that’s probably (mostly) why.

 
For review on Edelweiss:

  •  
    For review on NetGalley:

  • American Girls by Alison Umminger
  •  

    (I’m still working through last month’s stack, so it was a slow month, galley-wise!)

    French Lentil Soup with Tarragon and Thyme

    Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

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    It was pretty cold and rainy over the weekend – perfect soup weather, in other words. I wanted to try something a little different, but I’d pretty much exhausted the options in Vegan Italiano. Luckily I have about 90 other cookbooks stashed away in my pantry! A little browsing and I settled on the French Lentil Soup with Tarragon and Thyme from Veganomicon.

    Sadly, I only had half the required French lentils, so I had sub in a cup of brown and red lentils. (I figured while I was mixing lentils, why not go all the way with a trifecta?) The cook times on the green and brown vs. red lentils are a bit different, but it’s hard to overcook red lentils; they just break down and give the soup a rich, thick consistency that I love. Green lentils have more of a peppery flavor, so perhaps the soup wasn’t quite as flavorful as it should have been. Even so, I think it worked well enough.

    Plus I kind of skimped on the paprika; I’m hardly its #1 fan, but I think maybe this is one dish it shines in. Next time I think I might go with the full amount and see what happens. (Worst case, Shane gets the soup to himself and I make a quickie pita pizza!)

    Isa and Terry promise that this is “the last lentil soup recipe you will ever need” – and, while it was pretty damn tasty, I’m still partial to the Red Lentil, Lemon, and Rosemary Soup from Cookin’ Up a Storm. There’s nothing quite like slurping warm rosemary and lemon from a mug.

    (Slightly Modified, Almost) Fat-Free Minestrone

    Sunday, April 24th, 2016

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    I enjoyed this soup more than a month ago and finally decided to share it. (IBTD. D, as in depression. It saps you of your will, man.)

    Anyway, it’s another one from Donna Klein’s Vegan Italiano: (Almost) Fat-Free Minestrone. Modified by me, because I am a fussy, hard to please mofo.

    This recipe calls for zucchini, which I didn’t have, and celery, which I don’t like: so I swapped them both out for more carrots, which I have in spades and love love love. It also has shredded cabbage – two cups – but I used pulverized spinach instead (hence the soup’s dark, greenish color).

    I’ve been trying to sneak spinach into more and more dishes. It amazes me how some of the prominent, healthy vegan bloggers I follow can (claim to?) consume a pound of leafy greens a day. Like, I can’t even. How do you find the time to eat anything else?

    I guess that, when you cook them, they wilt down to a more manageable volume. But I either have to eat my leafy greens fresh and crunchy or shredded until they’re unrecognizable; easily mistaken for spices. Cooked greens have a texture entirely too similar to spoiled greens for my taste.

    Luckily, since spinach doesn’t have a strong taste, it’s easy to slip into other foods. Pasta sauce is a favorite, and when combined with basil it goes well in pesto. I’ve even made banana ice cream with a hint o’ spinach!

    Since this minestrone has cabbage, I figured it’d be an easy swap – and it was! Aside from the coloring, you don’t even notice that the spinach is there. My food processor made such quick work of the spinach that it looks like extra basil. Like, a crazy amount of basil!

    The soup is savory and filling, like minestrone should be. There aren’t a ridiculous amount of ingredients – Klein’s recipes are usually pretty simple and no-nonsense – and the whole thing doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to throw together. (Although you do start out by simmering the veggies for an hour, so there’s that. But there’s very little babysitting involved!)

    Barley Soup with Roasted Red Peppers and Mushrooms

    Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

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    Can you believe that I’d never had mushroom barley soup before last night? It seems like all the canned versions contain milk. Or maybe that’s just an excuse, and I’d been too persnickety to bother up until now. Either way, I have been MISSING. OUT.

    This recipe’s from Donna Klein’s Vegan Italiano, which I love more and more with each passing meal. (I make the Green Beans with Tomatoes and Garlic so often that I have the recipe memorized.) It’s easy to throw together, with less than a dozen ingredients and only about 35 minutes of cooking time. And if you let it simmer a little long, don’t worry: it’s very flexible! It’s nearly impossible to overcook.

    I had to make a special trip to find quick-cooking barley and roasted red peppers, but it was so worth it. (Usually I roast my own peppers, but I wanted to get the weight just right.) It’s hearty and savory, and much more flavorful than I expected, given that there are only a few spices.

    The leftovers are heating up on the stove top as I write this. I may or may not have drooled on my keyboard while typing that last line. THE VISUALS.

    Decisions, decisions…

    Thursday, April 14th, 2016

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    Shane went to Vegas and brought me back a bunch of goodies from Ronald’s Donuts. Bear claws, cinnamon rolls, apple fritters, jelly donuts, donuts with chocolate icing, cream-stuffed donuts. I am so overwhelmed with choices that I’m tempted to take a bite out of every single thing and call it a day.

    Lemon Frankenberry Muffins

    Friday, February 19th, 2016

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    Over the weekend I was hit with an inexplicable, overwhelming urge for muffins. Not just any muffins, either, but blueberry muffins. This is unusual not because muffins aren’t awesome – they are! – but on account of my baked sweets cravings are mostly directed at cookies. They don’t call me Jelly Belly Kelly/Cookie Monster for nothing.

    I reviewed Kris Holecheck’s The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes ages ago, and remembered that it had a pretty rad blueberry streusel muffin recipe. But alas! It calls for vegan yogurt, which is something I rarely have on hand. And the nearest Whole Foods is like 45 minutes away. One way! Ugh right?

    But my longing would not be brushed off so easily, and so I found myself searching through my massive cookbook collection for a substitute. The Joy of Vegan Baking had a lemon blueberry recipe that looked serviceable enough, just without Holecheck’s decadent streusel topping. So I decided to have them both!: Colleen’s muffins + Kris’s topping.

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    The verdict? UNGH. Pillowy soft in the middle, with a sweet crunchy topping. This whole post is basically just a reminder to self to make this again and again and again. So, so good.

    (I almost called this post “mashup muffins,” but that sounds gross. Instead I went with Lemon Frankenberry Muffins, named after a cereal I loved in my omni days. RIP Count Chocula! Goodbye Booberry Crunch! Farewell to all the marshmallow-stuffed, candy-for-breakfast cereals! Until we come up with a vegan version, you will forever be the ones that got away. That and circus peanuts. I’m pretty sure I was their last/only fan.)

    (P.P.S. So I made a batch of pumpkin muffins for our foster snuffaluffagus, as a hiding place for his post-dinner glucosamine pills. Now he thinks he can haz ALL THE MUFFINS. You should see how excited he gets when I crack one of these bad girls out. I almost feel guilty eating it in front of him. Almost but not quite.)

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    Strawberry Cream Cheese Ice Cream

    Monday, February 8th, 2016

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    I’m not 100% sure of the genesis of this particular ice cream flavor, but I think it had something to do with carrot cake ice cream. As in, I really wanted to give it a try, but was one tub short of plain cream cheese for the icing swirl. Plain Tofutti cream cheese got me thinking about Daiya’s amazaballs strawberry cream cheese, one thing led to another, and – huzzah! – strawberry cream cheese ice cream. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.

    (Actually I made this way back in October of last year, but held the post back so that it would be more timely. You’re welcome!)

    Initially I thought that a cream cheese swirl/chunks of cream cheese a la cookie dough would be the ticket, but not so much! Solid cream cheese doesn’t freeze as well as ice cream batter and besides, I think the cream cheese flavor tastes better when evenly distributed throughout the ice cream rather than concentrated in little bites. Luckily my ice cream maker did such a thorough job of mixing the cream cheese with the batter – even when added near the end of the cycle – that I ended up with very few chunks.

    My advice is to add the cream cheese as soon as the batter’s poured. 6 ounces (or 3/4 of a tub) will give you a nice flavor, but if you’d like your ice cream extra cheesy, maybe try a full 8 ounce tub for maximum effect. If you’re really feeling adventurous and want to give chunky a try, add the cream cheese during the last few minutes of the cycle.

     

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    (More below the fold…)

    Soup’s On!: Italian Pesto Soup with Gnocchi

    Thursday, February 4th, 2016

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    So I was a little skeptical of this dish; as much as I love me some pesto, I’ve never wanted to put it in a mug and chug it like melted Daiya. (BEST.) But don’t let the sub-par photograph fool you: this dish is ah-may-zing!

    The recipe is from Mark Reinfeld’s The 30-Minute Vegan: Soup’s On!, and I must admit up front: I used store-bought gnocchi instead of making them by hand. Way easier, and probably tastier to boot, since my gnocchi-rolling skills are not exactly on point. Otherwise I followed the directions mostly as-is. Well, except for the tomatoes. I used about double the amount called for, but only because I didn’t want to freeze half a can. Leftover ingredients, blerg.

    In addition to the obvious – basil, garlic, nutritional yeast, and cashews (or pine nuts) – the soup also has onions, veggie stock, soy sauce, and parsley. Everything but the tomatoes and gnocchi are blended to creamy perfection, a texture that’s complemented nicely by the chunky tomatoes and hearty gnocchi.

    Will make again.

    Cookbook Review: Cookin’ Up a Storm, Laura Dakin (2015)

    Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

    Vegan Eats with a Side of Direct Action

    four out of five stars

    (Full disclosure: I received a free book for review through Goodreads’s First Reads program.)

    Laura Dakin runs the galley on the Steve Irwin, one of Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling vessels. In Cookin’ Up a Storm, Dakin shares her culinary secrets, as well as humorous and informative accounts of a life spent at sea, protecting whales, seals, turtles, sharks, and dolphins.

    If you’re saying to yourself that I own more than enough cookbooks by now, you’re probably right. Totally right actually. But I just can’t help myself! Also, Cookin’ Up a Storm is unlike any other vegan cookbook I’ve seen, in that it’s as much a chronicle of Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling campaigns as it is a cookbook. There are tons of photos of marine life; interviews with the crew; sailing terminology; and a glimpse of everyday life on board the Steve Irwin.

    These recipes are eighty of Dakin’s favorites, which she regularly dishes up for a crew of fifty, using items that can easily be stored in the ship’s pantry. This makes for some interesting sea-faring substitutions; for example, the obligatory tofu scramble swaps out refrigerated tofu for shelf-stable silken tofu. (Excess moisture can put a damper on scrambles, but here it makes for an unusual scramble that’s similar in consistency to egg salad.)

    The cookbook is divided into seven parts, with sections dedicated to morning starters; soups; mains; salads and sides; sauces, spreads, and condiments; breads; and sweets and treats. From a warm and cozy Sea Shepherd’s Pie to meaty Sailors’ Delight Sausages and savory Boatload of Butternut Caponata, Dakin’s got her crew covered.

    In case you hadn’t caught on, many of the recipes have nautical and/or activist-inspired names, which is kind of fun and furthers the “eating at sea” theme.

    In preparation for this review, I tried the following recipes:

    (More below the fold…)

    Vegan Christmas Cookies Infiltrate Your Gift Basket

    Thursday, January 7th, 2016

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    Admittedly, our Christmas cookie game was a little on the weak side this year; all I wanted to do was binge-watch The Closer and shovel potato chips down my gullet. But we always make a gift basket for the neighbors, and Shane insisted on keeping with tradition even if it meant he made everything himself. The horror, right? So we compromised and split the work.

    For a change of pace (and also because I’ve all but exhausted the holiday options in The Vegan Cookies Connoisseur), I decided to pull the recipes from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. This was my first time baking from it, and I was curious to see how Cookie Jar would stack up next to my well-worn, much-loved copy of Connoisseur. Which I honestly cannot recommend enough.

    As per usual, we planned to make more than we needed – that way, if one of the recipes didn’t come out quite right, we’d still have enough cookies to fill a good-sized tin. (It’s never come to this, but it doesn’t hurt to have a Plan B.) Best-case, we’d end up with some leftovers to enjoy ourselves. (A-hah! Our true motivation.)

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    No-Bake Pecan Chocolates – A cross between a cookie and a candy bar (cluster?), these no-bake pecan chocolates are super-easy to make and keep well – so basically they’re the perfect choice for a bake-a-thon such as this, since you can make them ahead or in a pinch. They’re okay-tasting; not my favorite, but not my least favorite either. (Shane liked them more than I did.) The brown rice syrup is a little overwhelming, threatening to drown out the chocolate and pecan flavors. Also they’re very sticky, though this isn’t necessary a negative; unlike the oh-so-delicate PB Crisscrosses (see below), these bad girls should hold together well during shipping.

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    Peanut Butter Crisscrosses – These were by far my favorite of the bunch; so much so that I claimed all the extras for myself. (They don’t call me Cookie Monster for no reason, okay.) The instructions say to cook these directly on a greased cookie sheet – no parchment paper allowed! – which had me sweating bullets. (Barenaked cookie sheets and I have a history, and it is not pretty; more often than not, it ends in ashes and tears and broken dreams.) But it worked! Not a burnt or broken cookie in sight. In fact, these are thin and delicate and deliciously crumbly, in stark contrast to the thick and hearty peanut butter cookies I’m used to. So good, but tricky to pack (pro tip: let them chill overnight).

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    Chocolaty Crinkle Cookies – I’m still on the fence with these. They’re easy enough to make, but go much faster if you have a partner – one person to scoop the dough and another to roll them in the two (two!) different piles of sugar (white and powdered). And while they’re actually kind of addictive, with a rich, fudgy center, I swear they have a slightly funny aftertaste, similar to the No-Bake Pecan Chocolates. Maybe it’s the dark corn syrup I’m tasting? idk, I’ve never worked with it before.

    Thankfully, dipping them in vanilla buttercream helps. The taste, if not your general mood and energy.

    Note to self: Must make these into cookie sandwiches some time.

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    Irish Creme Kisses – Alcoholic cookies ftw! I love me a good frosted cookie, and Irish Creme Kisses are no exception. These cookies are a little on the stout and fat side, so I had to thicken the icing substantially to prevent massive runoff. Other than that, the recipe went off without a hitch.

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    Peppermint Mocha Brownies – This is the only non-cookie dessert we made this year. It was kind of a last minute executive decision, so decreed because we had the time and also miscellaneous ribbon candy to spare. All but two squares got shipped off the the neighbors; enough for Shane and I to each get a taste. These are kind of interesting, kind of like a fudgy brownie with a crispy candy topping. Not the kind of dessert I’d have a lot, but perfect for this time of year. (Recipe via Fried Dandelions.)

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    Finnick and Rennie can has kisses?
    Or, How the sausage is made. (The sausage being gourmet food porn photos.)
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    Adventures in Nice Cream

    Friday, November 6th, 2015

    As much as I love banana ice cream (banana bread banana ice cream, you are the BEST!), making it can be such a pain. Waiting for the banana slices to freeze and then defrost ever so slightly; prying and wedging and knifing them apart; processing and scraping and processing and scraping, as my food processor dances on the counter as though possessed, and the motor threatens to burst into flames. And then there’s always one or two big ole chunks of bananas that refuse to assimilate no matter how long you stand over the bowl, pulsing and cursing. Yeah.

    After years of this nonsense, I started to wonder: is there a better way?

    Specifically, I wanted to know whether it would work if I skipped the first freezing step and just processed overripe bananas as is. Then freeze the ice cream mix, like I normally would anyway. (Even for soft serve, it’s a little too liquidy by the time I’m done with it. At least a half hour wait is typically required!)

    So, instead of peel -> slice -> freeze -> thaw -> blend -> refreeze,

    peel -> slice -> blend -> freeze.

    I hit the internets to find out and found a few people with the same question – but no answers.

    You know what that means: Experiment time!

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    I tried the new method using just three bananas, to make a pint of nice cream (usually I go full-on quart). On the left is old school banana bread ice cream; on the right, newfangled chocolate cinnamon ice cream.

    The results were underwhelming.

    (More below the fold…)

    Orange Marmalade Nice Cream

    Friday, October 30th, 2015

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    In the vein of purging the cabinets for that move we’re planning next decade, I give you Orange Marmalade Nice Cream. (Because “Orange Marmalade Banana Ice Cream” just feels like too much of a mouthful.)

    I can’t for the life of me remember why I bought a jar of Orange Marmalade – I’m strictly a raspberry jam and peach preserves gal when it comes to my bagels – so I figured this was as good a use as any. And the end product was pretty tasty. I’ll call this one a win.

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    (More below the fold…)

    Vanilla Custard Ice Cream

    Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

    2015-09-24 - Vanilla Custard Ice Cream - 0001 [flickr]

    Now that I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve tried nearly every dream ice cream flavor I can think of, it’s time to get creative – like, cleaning out the cabinets creative. Also, Shane and I are thinking about moving some time in the distant future, so it’s probably best to start lightening the load now. If you could only see my pantry, you’d understand. Out of control doesn’t begin to describe it. My skepticism re: expiration dates doesn’t make things any easier on the hoarding end.

    Exhibit A: the custard mix I bought roughly four years ago, back when I was reviewing Vegan Junk Food and wanted to try the Boston Cream Pie. It never materialized and so the custard powder sat. When I went rooting around in the cabinets for inspiration, I thought that surely someone must have tried to make ice cream with it. And they have! Usually with eggs and cream, but we can’t all be awesome, okay?

    Anyway, this is my vegan version. I’ve never had custard before, so I can’t rate the accuracy of its flavor. What I can say it that it tastes delish: a little vanilla-y, but with a little extra something that I can only assume is the custard talking.

    2015-09-24 - Vanilla Custard Ice Cream - 0006 [flickr]

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    Creamy Lemon-Dill Roasted Potato Salad

    Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

    2015-09-26 - Lemon-Dill Potato Salad - 0001 [flickr]

    An exaggerated hat tip to whoever shared this recipe on Facebook. (I think it was Mylène, but I can’t be sure.)

    I was a little skeptical of a potato salad absent both vegan mayo and dill pickles – both of which are potato salad staples, imho – but I gave it a shot, and you know what? IT WAS AMAZING. I love the idea of roasting potatoes instead of boiling them; not only is it easier (no more standing over a steaming pot, splashing hot water all over the place), but you get much more consistent results, without any potato loss.

    I didn’t have any baby potatoes, so I used four baking potatoes – a little more than the recommended two pounds – but the dressing seemed to be *just enough* for this amount. I also didn’t bother adding water to the dressing, but other than that I think I followed the recipe to a t.

    I usually prefer cold potato salad, but I’m with Janet – this tastes so much better when enjoyed warm.

    Raspberry Green Tea Ice Cream

    Friday, September 18th, 2015

    2015-08-23 - Rapberry Green Tea Ice Cream - 0001 [flickr]

    So this recipe required way more raspberry extract than I expected! The matcha powder completely overwhelms the raspberry flavoring, necessitating two teaspoons instead of one. I bet fresh or frozen raspberries (two cups, maybe?), cooked down into a jelly, would work even better, but then you’ve got a Seed Situation on your hands. So if it’s a smooth ice cream you’re looking for, best stick with raspberry extract.

    This flavor pairing isn’t my all-time favorite, but it’s pretty good nonetheless. And if you eat a ton of green tea ice cream, it’s a fun way to mix things up without relinquishing the matcha.

    2015-08-23 - Rapberry Green Tea Ice Cream - 0004 [flickr]

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    Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies, Redux

    Thursday, September 17th, 2015

    2015-09-15 - VCC Soft Baked CC Cookies - 0001 [flickr]

    I was feeling down, so Shane offered to make me cookies. Naturally, I chose the Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur that I tried recently and love-love-loved. And you know what? HIS CAME OUT EVEN BETTER THAN MINE!: soft, chewy, and so tender they practically melt in my mouth! Almost a bit doughy, but not quite. Baked to perfection, basically.

    Of course he immediately started listing reasons why this simply could not be. (All bullshit, by the by.) He can see the writing on the wall: now that I know he’s not incompetent when it comes to baked goods, he’s gonna get roped into making me cookies on the regular.

    Maybe this is why he came home with a tray of Pumpkin Spice Oreos yesterday, hmmm? Trying to head off the inevitable?

    Red Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream

    Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

    2015-08-20 - Raspberry swirl Ice Cream - 0003 [flickr]

    I wasn’t entirely sure how well this experiment would turn out; after all, raspberries are only like my third favorite berry, after blueberries and strawberries. They taste wonderful, but ALL! THOSE! PESKY! SEEDS! And seeing as the batter contains both raspberry extract and just the tiniest bit of preserves for added flavor, yeah. I worried that the seeds would ruin it. I like my ice cream like I like my doggy bellies – smooth and soft.

    As it turns out? This recipe is amazaballs. For the smoothest base possible, feel free to omit the preserves (and maybe even bump the extract up to a full 2 teaspoons) – but all told, the seeds are dispersed enough that they don’t entirely disrupt the silky smoothness of the ice cream.

    And then there’s the raspberry swirl, which is THE BEST. For a chunky, high impact feel, stir it in ever so gently; but for a more consistent vibe, be a little more vigorous when mixing. I usually eyeball the add-ins, and give you a range that you can adjust to your own tastes. Anywhere between 1/3 and 1/2 cup ought to do it though. Maybe even 3/4 cup if you’re feeling adventurous.

    I used red raspberry preserves, since I had a jar on hand, but you can always swap it out for your own homemade raspberry sauce. Just toss a few cups of berries in a medium-sized saucepan and cook on medium until jelly-like in consistency. The less moisture, the better! Remember this maxim and you can’t go wrong. At least when churning vegan ice cream, that is.

    2015-08-20 - Raspberry swirl Ice Cream - 0002 [flickr]

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