Monday, December 19, 2011

What to bring to a holiday party?

Umm cookies, duh!

I am always trying to subtly turn my meat-devouring family members (who I love very much) onto the deliciousness that is vegan food. My most effective approach has been to make really yummy vegan food whenever we have a family gathering and either leave these dishes out on the table with the rest of the food, or I make a special treat and wrap 'em up real cute and give them as gifts. Whether I pose them as a gift or "regular food", everything always gets eaten.

I made these cookies a while back, I think as father's day gifts, but they would also make really great holiday presents. I took the original veganized recipe and made a few changes to make them gluten-free as well and also to use up a bunch of very ripe bananas I had on hand. They came out great and where really fun (had a little too much fun with this part) to decorate! They would even be a great project to work on together if you weren't trying to hide the absence of milk and butter from the eventual consumers!

Chocolate-dipped peanut butter-banana cookies:

1 cup chunkyy peanut butter
½ cup dairy free margarine, softened (I used Earth Balance brand, could also sub in coconut oil if you wanted to make these less processed and even more crazy flavored!)
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup sugar
¼ cup mashed really ripe banana
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups gluten-free flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup almonds, chopped
2 cups dairy free chocolate chips
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons dairy free margarine

Heat your oven to 400 degrees

In a large bowl beat together peanut butter, margarine, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and creamy. Add banana and vanilla.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add flour mix to peanut butter to and stir well.

Cover bowl and refrigerate for 20 – 30 minutes. Make balls about the size of a golf ball, roll in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Using a fork make crisscross pattern flattening cookies slightly. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove cookies from the oven and cool on a wire rack (after testing a little piece to make sure they aren't poisonous of course!)

Place a sheet of waxed paper over a cool cookie pan or plate.

Next, heat the chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. As it begins to melt add the margarine. Once the chocolate is melted, begin dipping half of each cookie in the chocolate, using a spoon to help spread the chocolate evenly over the cookie. Don’t be shy here, a nice thick coating is what you’re looking for.

Place the chocolate-dipped cookie on the waxed paper. Then the fun part! Decorate (or in my case, over-decorate!) with whatever sprinkles, chopped nuts etc you have on-hand. Be sure to do this as you dip each cookie because the chocolate will set quickly. Once you’ve filled up this tray with dipped cookies, place the tray in the fridge to help set the chocolate.

Got a leeeetle bit carried away
When everything has cooled an hardened, stack about 4-5 cookies on top of each other, wrap up in parchment paper and tie with a ribbon. Viola!

Friday, December 16, 2011

I've been a vewrrrry good girl this year :))

Holiday Wishlist 2011*

Totally already ordered this iphone case for myself. Ooops I just couldn't hold back!
While it's not being prescribed as a cure for seasonal affective disorder just yet, the Bright Blind is sure to lighten one's spirit in dark, sad abodes and office spaces worldwide. Made of electroluminescent (EL) sheets, Makoto Hirahara's Bright Blind simulates a window where none exists. The artificial blind functions in exactly the way you might guess; turn the plastic stick and control the brightness!.
Finally, a cute bike helmet! I ride my bike around NYC all the time and have even been in a (minor) accident before, yet I don't own a bike helmet because I have yet to find one that is actually cute enough to wear.

I don't know about you, but the heat in my apartment has been making me feel shriveled up like a raisin. Made out of cedar, the Mast requires no plugs. While it's definitely not as powerful as some of the electric models listed here, it's certainly more ecological. The bottom is filled with water and dispersed through the fan shaped sheets of cypress at the top at a rate about six times that of a glass of water. The humidifier is also made by artisans, not machines so expect it to take about a month for yours to be made. We like the artful shape, environmental friendliness and woody smell in the air this humidifier provides. Forewarning, the page for the Mast is in Japanese.

**Nerdy-tech Alert** but how good of an idea is this?
The Belkin Conserve Socket plugs into any household outlet and automatically stops the flow of energy, including standby power, to outlets using an adjustable timer. Not only is this outlet better in terms of safety (devices that are left plugged in can be prone to electrical malfunction or fire) but is helpful in reducing electricity bills and conserving resources.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Salad spruce-up pt.2

This post seems quite appropriate considering my recent adventures in ending a salad rut and finding confidence in preparing brussels sprouts on my own. I bring to you: The Super Sprout Salad

1/2lb brussels sprouts, grated in a (not for)cheese grater
1 handful alfalfa sprouts
Sprinkle of flax and/or sunflower seeds for added protein and crunch

Sweet Mustard Miso Dressing:
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons miso
2 tablespoons stoneground mustard
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup (I only used 1 because I used sweet white miso and found it to be sweet enough)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
Black pepper, to taste
Sea salt, to taste (omitted this because the miso was salty enough for me)
Filtered water, as necessary

Also bellow are 5 ways to break out of your salad rut via thekitchn

1) A Sprinkle of Cocoa Nibs: I first started using a sprinkling of cocoa nibs on top of my salads this summer. While you'd think it would lend an odd sweetness to a salad, because of their slightly bitter nuttiness, they provide a really nice toasty, savory element. And a welcome crunch.

2) Mix Up Your Greens: It's easy to get in a rut when it comes to salad greens. We know which greens we like and we continue to buy them. Maybe you're a butter lettuce gal or a strictly romaine kind of guy, but next time you're at the market, choose a spicy arugula or watercress to change things up a bit.

3) Try a New Ingredient: I recently had a dinner party with a handful of good friends here in the Bay Area and we prepared a salad with fennel and mushrooms. Both the fennel and mushrooms were sliced paper thin and we dressed it with a simple dash of olive oil, lemon and good sea salt. It was a most welcome change from a more typical green salad. Now when I'm at the market, I've been picking up fennel or a persimmon or something I don't typically use in salads just to experiment with something new.

4) Herbs, Herbs, Herbs: My dad adds chopped cilantro to virtually every green salad he makes. After falling in love with salads at his house, I've tried adding chopped Italian parsley, chives or dill. Herbs are an easy, wonderful (and healthy) way to liven up any tired salad.

5) Hello there, mandolin: In addition to trying new greens or ingredients in a salad, slicing or prepping your vegetables in a new way will make you feel like you're experiencing an entirely new kind of salad. Try slicing your vegetables paper thin or as matchsticks on a mandolin. Or do the exact opposite and keep things robust and chunky. Visually, you'll trick your palate into thinking you're onto something totally new.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

salad spruce-up pt.1

I've kind of been in a salad rut lately. Kale + some herbs + sprouts + some kind of dressing + maybe half an avocado for slow-digesting fats, some beans or seeds for protein and crunch and, if I'm lucky, some leftovers on top.

To make my lunch a little more exciting (lunch is already a pretty exciting part of my day-but sometimes you need something special to look forward to!) I'm currently working on devising a few recipes that can be made ahead of time, stored in the fridge over the week and added to the top of any bed of greens and really jaz them up. Bonus* they also make great fillings for a collard or tortilla wrap, or atop some whole grains for dinner!

Corn and Mung Bean Salad(based off of this recipe)
1 cup dried mung beans
2 large ears corn, kernels removed (about 2 cups)
1 small red onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup dill, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Prune and Beet Salad:
5 cooked beets, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1c prunes, soaked in water for a few hours or until soft, then drained
3Tbsp olive oil
2tsp ground flax seed
2tbsp sesame seeds
sea salt, to taste

Mix all ingredients. Plop on a bed of greens (kale in my case) I also chopped up a dill pickle because, um, sour pickles and sweet beets are a bomb combo.

What are your favorite salad add-ins?