1/28/15

Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I took this picture with my phone because I broke my SD card. How on earth did that happen!?!?

In the not-so-mega-blizzard (in the Philly area, at least), I promised my kids, who were home due to an early dismissal from school, that we would make cookies. I just wanted to turn on the oven and warm up the kitchen, honestly. Of course, I wanted to experiment. Could I replace shortening in a recipe with coconut oil? It's solid at room temperature and melts easily, just like the hydrogenated oil, but without all that artery-clogging ick.

Despite the groans of my kids, they decided to indulge my cookie-making-purism and I rested the dough in the refrigerator for 24-hours before baking (this helps the sugar fully melt, the gluten to rest, and the once former solids to solidify again [something that I have found in egg-free baking to be very important to getting cookies that don't overly spread]). Turns out, we never got the blizzard here. Barely even a dusting of snow! The kids who were so looking forward to spending the day at home, had to drag themselves to class. But, at least, they had cookies to look forward to when they got home!

I was a bit worried that the cookies would taste too much like coconut because the batter really smelled coconut-y and they even smelled super tropical while baking. The taste, however, was not in the least bit coconut-y! Once the cookies set, they had a great texture (cakey, yet dense and chewy, crispy on the outside) and held up really well. The experiment worked and it was delicious!

Note: I used Trader Joe's organic, virgin, cold-pressed and unrefined coconut oil. 

Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
egg-free, vegan-friendly, makes about 36

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter or vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup full-fat unflavored or vanilla yogurt (I used coconut yogurt. If you don't have, use 2 flax eggs.)
  • 1 TB real vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup AP Flour (I used organic!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips (You could use a mix of chocolate--dark and semi-sweet.)
  • optional: Kosher or flake sea salt for a light sprinkling on top of the cookies. Just a couple of flakes for each cookie!)


Directions

  1. In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, combine butter and sugars and beat until creamy. Add vanilla and coconut oil, beat until fully mixed. Add yogurt and mix again.
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda and powder. Add salt. Add the dry mix in batches to the wet mix until jus combined. 
  3. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Chill dough overnight, covered.
  5. Next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
  6. Scoop out cookie dough in rounded tablespoons and place about 2" apart on prepared cookie sheet. Do not flatten! If using a salt sprinkle, now is the time to do it! You just need a very, very small amount.
  7. Bake for 9-10 minutes. The center of the cookie should appear slightly (slightly!) undone, but there should be spots of brown on top as well (I learned this trick from the sweet Doron from Sticky Finger's fame). Let chill on sheet for about a minute and then transfer to a wire rack. I totally think they are the best when they have fully chilled and set, so try to resist eating them when they are still warm! Trust me!

12/15/14

Vegan Gingerbread Waffles (A Cheater Recipe!)

I'm always one for a hey-why-not when cooking. I mean, you know that is what the person who  dipped a pretzel in chocolate for the first time thought. All good inventions start with curiosity.

So, on a Sunday morning, I saw the Trader Joe's gingerbread box mix on the shelf, I thought, "Hey! Why not! Let's try making it into waffles!" Voila! Worked out perfectly! The mix makes a very gingery, moist and yummy breakfast delight. Just use the appropriate vegan substitutions (which is the equivalent of an egg replacement) and you've got yourself an easy, festive treat for holiday mornings! For serving, I sprinkled mine with organic powdered sugar (available at Whole Foods).

12/2/14

Late Fall


Where does the time go? I have all these recipes that I started to post, but never finished. Since I hate loose ends, I had it in my mind that I couldn't post anything until I posted those recipes. You know what, I probably will never complete them, so let's move on! I've also been super busy with my shop, New Sweden Vintage, and honestly, don't have as much time to spend here. I do, however, have a few ideas for crafts and some cookie recipes for the holidays, so I'll make sure not to ignore Scissors and Spice. I promise!

Here are a handful of random shots from the last few weeks. In between packing orders and 3rd-grade homework, there's been lots of walks in the woods, baking (yay! cold weather!), coffee dates, and trips to New York.


Pumpkin cinnamon rolls from Trader Joe's.


Baked cauliflower curries, pre-baking.


Coffee dates at Philter in Kennet Square, PA. Seriously, the best mocha lattes this side of the Mississippi!


One of my favorite parts of going to New York City is taking the kids to the playgrounds. This one is right on the Hudson in Battery Park City.


My kids exploring the Irish Hunger Memorial.


I don't know why, but I was seriously geeking out over the colors of fall this year (I probably have about a thousand photos of foliage alone). We've been spending lots of time out in nature as a family, exploring the woods, and going for long walks along the Brandywine River.






9/24/14

Easy Mole Three-Bean Chili Recipe (Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free)


The weather is cooling! The leaves are starting to change color! Fall is here! To me, fall means one thing: warm cozy afternoons in the kitchen baking and making soups and stews. Making the latter, however, can be really time consuming. So what do you do when you want a warm, steaming bowl of something on a cool night, but you only have a half-hour? Bean chili is an extremely easy and yummy way to add some warmth to your dinner time without stressing yourself out. This version uses the richness of chocolate mole sauce to give the dish an unexpected smoky and sweet depth.

Serve with toppings of your choice like (vegan) cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, etc. or use it to top cornbread, rice, or even a baked sweet potato!


Easy Mole Three-Bean Chili Recipe (Vegetarian and Vegan)
serves 4; gluten-free 

Ingredients

  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB cumin
  • 1/2 TB coriander powder
  • 1/4 - 1 tsp red pepper flakes (to your desired level of heat)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup finely diced bell peppers (Vary it according to your tastes.)
  • 1 cup prepared mole sauce (Do yourself a favor and make it yourself the day before. Use my easy mole sauce recipe here!)
  • 1 15-ounce can of organic petite diced tomatoes (crushed tomato sauce works as well)
  • 3 15-ounce cans of organic beans, rinsed and drained (I used black beans, pinto beans, and red kidney beans)


Directions

  1. In a large sauce pan, sauté spices and the peppers for a few minutes until peppers have softened.
  2. Add mole sauce and tomato sauce to pan and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add rinsed and drained beans. Let simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes. (The longer you can let the flavors marinade, the better the final dish will be. It's even better the next day, so make enough for leftovers!)
  4. When finished, add salt and pepper to taste. If you like it spicy, then add hot sauce to taste. Serve piping hot!

7/23/14

Avocado Toast with Arugula, Jersey Tomatoes, & Balsamic Reduction

I'm usually not one for food trends. I've got too much of an "authority issue" that if you tell me something is trendy, I will go in the opposite direction. Macaroons, cronuts, "artisanal" anything, $10 toast... all send shivers up my spine (and not in a good way).

So, when my husband told me he had "avocado toast" at a lunch in NYC with a colleague (one of the only vegetarian things on the brunch menu), I gave him one of those "oh no you di'int" blank stares. (It's a look I am semi-famous for!). He assured me at how great it was and how he couldn't stop thinking about it. "It's crave-able! Trust me." I'm sure I gave him one of my patented Marge Simpson guttural moans.

When we returned home from our trip, with few ingredients on hand to make dinner, I ran over to the farm stand near our house. Tons of Jersey tomatoes, great for sandwiches. "Hmmm... there are some avocados too. Hmmm... alright, I'll make him some friggin' avocado toast!" I caved. Truth-be-told, I have grown to love avocados over the past few years and their health benefits make me love them even more. That week, we had avocado toast every night for dinner. Totally caved. It's so easy to make and so good. Ok, I can see why it is a trend now. I give.

I made it so much in the past few weeks that I started experimenting with fancier ways to prepare it. With tons of basil and other herbs in the garden, I decided to make a Mediterranean version with some balsamic reduction that I picked up at Trader Joe's. If you don't have a TJs near you, balsamic reductions are pretty easy to make, you just need a bit of time and patience. The result is a thick, sweet sauce that has hardly any lingering vinegar flavor.

Mashing the avocado is a great way to involve kids in the kitchen. Mine always seem to fight over who gets to stir whatever I am making. My daughter loves avocados. My son, not so convinced.

You can use whatever bread you have on hand. Since these "artisinal toasts" are essentially just a trendy way of saying "opened-faced sandwich" you may want chose a hearty type that can stand the weight of your toppings. My favorites are the Tuscan Pane from Trader Joe's (pictured above) and Ezekiel bread. You can toast the bread in a plain ol' toaster, or get very chichi, and grill your bread using a little bit of olive oil and a cast iron pan.

Avocado Toast with Arugula, Jersey Tomatoes, & Balsamic Reduction (vegan)
Makes 2-4 (depending on your hunger and the size of the bread)

The recipe is for the avocado mash.

Ingredients
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 TB vegan mayo
  • 1 TB freshly minced basil
  • 1 tsp freshly minced thyme
  • 1/2 TB olive oil
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp good quality sea salt

Method
  • Mash all ingredients in a bowl, leaving some small chunks. Set aside in fridge.
  • Toast or grill bread.
  • Take one piece of toast, spread a thin layer of vegan mayo on the bread. Take a healthy sized scoop of the avocado mixture and spread over the mayo layer. Drizzle with a small amount of balsamic reduction. Add thinly sliced tomatoes (makes sure they are really good, juicy tomatoes-- not those pink and white kind from the off-season). Add more cracked sea salt. Top with arugula (I like a generous amount!) and then finish off with a drizzle of olive oil and cracked black pepper. 
  • Serve with a ton of napkins (or if you are super fancy, you can eat it with a knife and fork. I'm sure that would make your mom proud at how cultured you have become!)