C is for Cookie

vegan-peanut-butter-cookies-plate

That’s good enough for me… 

 

I cannot make or eat cookies without this song in my brain. Thanks, Sesame Street!

vegan-cookies-peanut-butter

The boys wanted to make holiday cookies over the winter break, but we made these instead. We’d never made peanut butter cookies before. Jonah loves them, Leo does not. Clearly, there is something wrong with him. Oh, well. I tried. At least the cookies turned out perfect. I should know, I’ve eaten most of them.

vegan-cookies-silpat

Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Adapted from the recipe in The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

yield: about 3 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 1¾ cups white whole wheat flour, sifted (or all purpose flour)
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer (equivalent of 1 egg)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1¼ cups firmly packed brown sugar (I used dark)
  • ¾ cup natural peanut butter (smooth or crunchy; “natural” meaning it’s only peanuts)
  • ½ cup nondairy butter
  • 3 tablespoons nondairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup nondairy chocolate chips (optional)
  • ½ cup peanut butter chips (or chopped peanuts) (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375º F.
  2. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper, or use nonstick, or silpats.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Whip the egg replacer and water together (by hand in a new bowl, or with blender or food processor) until thick and creamy.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, peanut butter, milk, and vanilla. Beat with hand mixer until well blended. Add the egg replacer mixture and beat until just blended. Add the flour mixture and blend in. Finally, mix in the chips/nuts, if using.
  6. Use your hands to gently roll chunks of batter into pieces about golf-ball sized and place on cookie sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until set and just beginning to brown. Do not overbake! Remove from oven, let cool on sheet for a few minutes before cooling further on wire rack.
  8. Try not to eat all at once, although who can blame you, really.

speedy slaw

Processed with Snapseed.

With a rare day off from doula work in New York City, I was running errands when I spied a package of shredded cabbage and had a sudden craving for coleslaw. Not at all seasonal (no pumpkin spice?!), to be sure, but since my cravings are usually for sugary treats, I decided to roll with it. I bought a package of the shredded veg (green cabbage, red cabbage, and carrots), and did an internet search for coleslaw dressing when I got home. Five minutes later, I was satisfying my craving.

speedy slaw

adapted from easy coleslaw dressing

all measurements are approximate suggestions—you can eyeball it, this is hard to mess up

Ingredients:

  • one package pre-shredded cabbage and/or carrots
  • fresh baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped (optional, about a large handful)
  • sliced almonds (optional, about 1 – 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise (Just Mayo is the best)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (I keep a bottle in the fridge)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • salt and pepper to taste (I like lots)

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the mayo, sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Whisk until combined.
  2. Add the shredded cabbage, and spinach and almonds if desired. Toss. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  3. Eat it up.

 

Joy to the Fishies in the Deep Blue Sea: Vegan “Tuna” Salad

tuna deconstructed

Well, this is a pretty anticlimactic return to the ole blog, but for whatever reason, it inspired me. Lucky you.

I grew up on tuna salad and tuna melts and it was a major comfort food to me, and just one of my favorite things ever. I ate it at least once a week for most of my life. Several years ago at a work event, I had the opportunity to get my mercury level tested for free. I figured it would be high, but it came back at 5 times the “acceptable” high number. Eeks. I didn’t change my behavior too much at that point, but when I was ready to start a family, I went off fish and got tested again and I had brought the level to “undetectable.”

As I moved toward veganism, I knew that tuna salad was one thing I’d miss terribly. So I was thrilled to find easy peasy vegan options. This one is simplified down to the things I like best. While living in the UK for 3 years, I got into the idea of sweet corn instead of celery in the salad and still love it this way.

There are a bajillion vegan “tuna” salad recipes out there, and I’ve tried several. Here’s what I’ve settled on at the moment as my favorite, inspired by the “better-than-tuna salad” recipe in Colleen Patrick-Goudreau‘s The Vegan Table. Amounts are just a suggestion, as this is all very tweakable.

I’ll also mention that my very skeptical husband liked it enough to ask for seconds. Give it a shot.

Vegan “Tuna” Salad

  • chickpeas (a 15 oz can, drained and rinsed)
  • mayo (tofu cashew or Vegenaise or my current fave, Just Mayo) (2 – 3 tablespoons)
  • grainy mustard (1 – 2 tablespoons)
  • sweet corn (1/2 cup or so, I use frozen, no need to thaw unless eating it immediately)
  • dulse flakes (2 – 3 tablespoons)
  • Old Bay seasoning (1 – 2 teaspoons)

Method:

Mash up chickpeas with a fork. Throw in everything else. Stir. Chill for a bit. Try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting but I won’t judge. I’m eating some right now with baby carrots!

tuna mixed

Others you might like:

 

Again with the meal planning.

I’m still trying to get a handle on this, a a meal planning system that works for us. Now that I have 4 people to please, I want to try and keep it simple, healthy, and make stuff everyone will actually LIKE and EAT. I also genuinely enjoy cooking most of the time. It brings me pleasure, I do wish I had more time for it, and that it didn’t necessarily feel like a chore to squeeze in so we could shove some food down our gullets.

We all have our childhood favorites– meals that we’d have over and over that bring back fond memories. I’d like that for my boys, rather than frustrations at the table. At the same time, I also want them to occasionally try new things. But I’ve decided that I’m ok with mostly making the same thing over and over.

Some childhood memory meals of mine include:

  • macaroni with meat sauce (spiced with fennel seed which gave a unique flavor)
  • baked chicken
  • chicken and rice casserole
  • pork chops
  • fish sticks
  • meatloaf, god I loved meatloaf
  • spaghetti and meatballs

Sides included: ‘candied’ carrots, broccoli drowning in cheese sauce, potato patties, applesauce, sweet potatoes, corn…

There were other items, too, but those were my favorites and meals I recall having again and again.

Since I’ve recently been transitioning to a fully vegan diet, I’ve been trying out a lot of new recipes. This is hit or miss, and when it’s a miss, that means I am the one trying to eat a whole lentil loaf within a week. There is also, of course, the time issue. Working full time + kids + rest of life means that carving out time for meal prep is challenging. When I’m on the ball, I can do some prep before bed or in the morning while we’re all starting the day. When I’m not, that means frozen veggie burgers and frozen veg for dinner (which honestly, is pretty much how we survived Leo’s first year!).

So, in an effort to be more on the ball with meal planning, I am attempting to sort out our favorite meals and come up with some sort of schedule. 

Maybe something like:

  • Sunday: pasta/noodle dish (spaghetti, mac n’ cheez, lasagna, eggplant parmesan, etc)
  • Monday: rice dish (rice and curry, stir fry with rice, beans and rice)
  • Wednesday: tortilla (fajitas, burritos, ‘mexican lasagna’)
  • Thursday: soup/salad/sandwich day (any 1 – 3)
  • Friday: pizza night

I know I’m not going cook every day, so I think even 5 nights is plenty. We can have leftovers sometimes, and I also like to take leftovers for lunch at work which saves me a lot of money and plastic waste. I’ll also go nuts and throw in an occasional wild card recipe.

Now, I can fill in a few recipes under each category that I know we like. Hopefully, this will increase our home cooking and healthful eating, and decrease whining. Win-win!

Please share what works for you, or your favorite recipes! How do they compare with the meals you grew up with?

Wish me luck!