Moist, Fudgey Brownies (Vegan)

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The other day, I decided to make some brownies for a vegan co-worker of mine who deserved some cheering-up. I wanted to find a recipe with ingredients closest to the non-vegan variety (no tofu brownies, thanks) that were still guaranteed to come out ooey-gooey. It didn’t take much hunting. I fell in love with the photos on the recipe creator’s blog, and went to work in the kitchen.
These certainly filled the bill. I would make these brownies again, and next time add some semi-sweet chocolate for an extra chocolately-richness.
Just a forewarning: if you do make these, don’t cut them until they are totally cool. Even then, they will still be quite crumbly, yet incredibly fudgey. I love ’em, but they’re a mess. So good for the chocolate cravings. I bet a quick nuke in the microwave with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream couldn’t hurt either. Yum.

Moist, Fudgey Brownies (Vegan)
From Montecarte Blog

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups raw turbinado sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1 cup hot water
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup chopped walnuts (optional – I did not add them)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan with some vegetable oil. (I only had an 8×8 pan available, so my brownies were very thick, and were baked a little longer – about 35 minutes)

2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

3. Stir coffee granules in hot water until dissolved. Add water to the dry mixture. Add vegetable oil, applesauce and vanilla.

4. Mix well, until blended. Add nuts, if you’re using them.

5. Spread evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, (about 35 minutes if using 8×8 pan) until the top is no longer shiny. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting into squares.

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Chewy Oatmeal Cookies with Dates, Raisins, and Pecans

Say hello to my new favorite oatmeal cookies.

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These cookies are awesome. I am in love with the great collaboration of textures and flavors: Hearty chew-inducing oatmeal, crunchy toasted pecans, sweet pieces of soft yummy fruit… so heavenly. And did I mention the moist honey goodness, too? These cookies have got it all.

Normally I hate nuts in my cookies, cakes, and desserts, but the pecans are a must. I’m sure walnuts would be okay, too, if you don’t like pecans. Or use them both! These cookies, to me, are a lot like a sweetnened-up bowl of Great Grains cereal. Or maybe an outstanding chewy granola bar. They’re just out right addicting, and are officially my new go-to oatmeal cookie recipe. 

‘Nuff said.

 

 

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies with Dates, Raisins, and Pecans
Adapted from epicurious.com and Ina Garten
Makes 30-40 Cookies

Ingredients:
1 1/2 Cups Flour
2 Sticks (1/2lb) Butter
2 Eggs
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 Cup Honey
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
3 Cups Oatmeal
1 Cup Raisins
1 Cup Medjool Dates (diced and lightly dusted in powdered sugar – a little time consuming, but worth it! I get my dates from Trader Joe’s)
1 1/2 Cups Pecans

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place the pecans on a sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Chop coarsely.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, honey, and the vanilla.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and the salt together into a medium bowl. Add dry ingredients a little at a time into the butter mixture on a low speed. Add the oats, raisins, and pecans and mix just until combined.

Using a small cookie dough or ice-cream scoop (a tablespoon will do) drop 2 inch mounds of dough onto sheet pans lined with silpat liner or parchment paper. Flatten cookies slightly with a damp hand.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned.

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Chicken Pad Thai (Hungry Girl’s low-calorie swap)

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Alright, three main points in relation to this satisfying and super-low-calorie dish. (And just as some background information, I have never eaten pad Thai chicken before, so this is in no way in comparison to the real thing. In actuality, I’m sure it’s nothing like the original…which is fine with me.)

First point: The calorie count compared to the amount of food per serving is jaw-droppingly low. I was definitely full from my 1.5 cups (half the recipe) without going over 300 calories. Yay for guilt-free!

Second point: I’m going to make a suggestion here. If you choose to try out this recipe, double the sauce. Yes it will add calories, but I think there is plenty of room to spare. While I enjoyed this meal as was, I felt that the sauce did not shine through as much as it could have. But that’s an easy fix. The sauce itself is delish, so make more.

Third point: The noodles. Has anyone else ever heard of these shirataki things? I had not until looking through the Hungry Girl book, and WOW are they low freakin’ calorie. Only problem is, they’re a difficult to find. At least they were for me. They’re supposed to be in the same section as tofu, from what I hear. Well, first I looked for them at Target; then I tried my luck at the new Grocery Outlet to no avail; then I went to Trader Joe’s; then to this Asian market in Dublin called Ranch 99 (smells like fish inside… yuck). I was sure that if anyone carried this stuff, it would be an Asian market. Lucky for me, no one there spoke much English. I even pulled up a picture of the ingredient I was looking for, yet still no one could help. They just looked confused and kept pointing to the noodle section I’d been muttling through for what felt like an hour. I kept telling them I’d already checked, but they didn’t get it. Such a waste of time and olfactory senses. Ugh. Anyway…

I finally found the illusive shirataki noodles at my local Whole Foods. Now, Safeway or Raley’s may actually carry these as well; I know that not everyone has a Whole Foods nearby. But I happened to check WF first. I’m lucky to have one just down the street from work. At least shirataki is affordable (something like $1.69 a package), and does not consume my Whole Paycheck as the store nickname implies. Score.

Now on to the recipe…

Hungry Girl’s Chiky Pad Thai
From Hungry Girl 300 Under 300 by Lisa Lillien

Ingredients:
2 packages House Foods Tofu Shirataki Fettuccine Shaped Noodle Substitute
2 tbsp. ketchup
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. sugar-free apricot preserves (I had strawberry on hand, and it worked fine)
2 tsp. crushed dry-roasted peanuts (I ommited)
2 tsp. brown sugar (not packed)
1 tsp. lite/low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 tsp. chopped garlic
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper, or more to taste
1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original)
6 oz. raw boneless skinless lean chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
Dash each salt and black pepper
2 cups chopped broccoli
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
3/4 cup 1-inch scallion pieces
Optional topping: chopped cilantro (I recommend it!)

Directions:
Use a strainer to drain and rinse shirataki noodles well. Pat dry. In a large microwave-safe bowl, microwave for 1 minute. Drain excess liquid. Dry as thoroughly as possible, using paper towels. Cut noodles up a bit and set aside.

To make the sauce: in a small bowl, combine ketchup, lime juice, preserves, peanuts, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Stir thoroughly and set aside.
Spray a wok or large skillet with nonstick spray and bring to medium-high heat on the stove. Add egg substitute and scramble until fully cooked, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Remove wok/skillet from heat (if needed, clean it once cooled), re-spray, and return to medium-high heat. Add chicken and season with salt and black pepper. Add broccoli, bean sprouts, scallion pieces, and 2 tablespoons water. Stirring occasionally, cook until chicken is no longer pink and broccoli is tender, about 4 minutes.
Add sauce, stir to evenly distribute, and continue to cook for about 2 minutes, until sauce is hot. Add scrambled egg substitute and noodles, mix well, and continue to cook until hot, about 3 minutes.
If you like, season to taste with additional crushed red pepper and/or top with cilantro. Serve and enjoy!

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles (Vegan)

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I’m telling you, this whole vegan baking thing has had me quite enraptured. Everyone expects a vegan label to automatically imply “faux something” or lacking of flavor. I have tried a handleful of vegan baked goods, and while they are different from “regular” cookies and cakes, they come out quite fantastic in their own right. I am amazed each time.

Ok, I’ll stop bragging about how much I love vegan baking from now on. Just know that eggless, butter-less goods are completely legit and more.

Now on to these brilliant little numbers: Chocolate, cinnamon, sugar, and chewyness… That is what these cookies are packin’ and I love them. There is a hint of cayenne that makes them – well, I wouldn’t call them spicy, but they do have a nice little kick of heat after the initial chococalte, chewy flavors shine threw. And it’s awesome!

I was able to throw the ingredients together rather quickly, and the cookies themselves took no time to bake. The orginal recipe calls for 10-12 minutes in the oven, but I found that a minute or two less makes for chewier, less dry cookies. Try them out! I will surely be making them again and again.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles (Vegan)
From Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

Ingredients:
For the cookies:
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons almond milk (Or your preferred non-dairy milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract (or more vanilla extract if you have no chocolate)
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

For the topping:
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix the topping ingredients together on a flat plate. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix together oil,  sugar, syrup, and milk. Mix in extracts.

Sift in remaining ingredients, stirring as you add them. Once all ingredients are added mix until you’ve got a pliable dough.

Roll dough into walnut sized balls. Pat into the sugar topping to flatten into roughly 2 inch discs. Transfer to baking sheet, sugar side up, at least 2 inches apart (they do spread). This should be easy as the the bottom of the cookies should just stick to your fingers so you can just flip them over onto the baking sheet.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, they should be a bit spread and crackly on top. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely

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Chile Relleno Casserole

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This is a very quick, easy, and scrumptious Mexican-style meal. I’ve made it a couple of times now, and it’s so, so good! Perfect for those nights when you haven’t much time to make (and clean up after) dinner, but you want something that still tastes hearty and flavorful. Plus, it’s Mexican food! And who isn’t always in the mood for Mexican food? I hope you see my point.

Enjoy! – As I did the other night, and will again tonight, because I have tons-o’ leftovers…

Chile Relleno Casserole
Adapted from: For the Love of Cooking blog

3, 7 oz cans of whole green chiles
3 eggs
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp non fat sour cream
1, 3.8 oz can of sliced black olives
1 cup of low fat Mexican blend cheese (I used a low-fat chipotle cheddar cheese)
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained (I used 1 can of fat-free refried black beans this time, but regular black beans are better!)
1 can red or green enchilada sauce (I prefer green, but used red just to try it)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine eggs, flour, sour cream, olives, salt and pepper to taste then mix thoroughly. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray. Add a layer of the chiles, and then egg mixture, then cheese, then black beans; repeat layers until gone. Top with enchilada sauce and a bit more cheese. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Ta-da!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Pillow Cookies (Vegan)

I was orginally inspired to look into vegan baking (no eggs, butter, milk, etc) because of a vegan co-worker of mine who is always raving about her super-diet. When I started looking up vegan recipes online, I found that the pictured desserts almost always looked incredibly rich and moist, and just… different. So I checked out a book from my local library titled: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Upon flipping through the pages of this small, photo-stocked book, I instantly fell in love. So many great recipes I couldn’t wait to try! I am now strongly considering purchasing this book, and doing the now-popular, try-every-recipe-from-the-book-and-blog-about-it adventure, as in Julie and Julia. It would force me to branch out and bake things I normally don’t consider (i.e. biscotti, shortbread, etc). Plus it’s all vegan, so my baking power would surely expand!

This is the only recipe I’ve tried so far, but man are the resulting cookies heavely! The maple syrup in the cookie dough is so-so yummy, and really compliments the rich chocolate. I found their odd UFO-like shape to make them kind of fun. They are rich, but worth it. The book tells you the recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies, but I think one could get away with divided the dough into even smaller portions for those who don’t want a major sugar-high off just one. But no matter what size you make these, you just plain old HAVE TO MAKE THEM. I promise you won’t even miss the eggs or butter. You can’t tell they are missing one bit! I pinkie swear it.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows
From Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

Makes 2 dozen cookies

For the chocolate dough:
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tbsp nondairy milk (can use regular milk)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

For the filling:
3/4 cup natural salted peanut butter, crunchy or creamy style (I used creamy)
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tbsp nondairy milk (can use regular milk)
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine oil, sugar, maple syrup, milk, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Sift in flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Mix to form a moist dough.

2. Make the peanut butter filling: In another mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together peanut butter, powdered sugar, 2 tbsp of the milk, and vanilla to form a moist but firm dough. If peanut butter dough is dry and crumbly (natural peanut butters have varying moisture contents), stir in the remaining tablespoon of milk. If dough is too wet knead in a little extra powdered sugar.

3. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Shape the cookies:
1. Create the centers of the cookies by rolling the peanut butter dough into 24 balls (try dividing dough in half, then each part in half again and roll each portion into six balls). Scoop a generous tablespoon of chocolate dough, flatten into a thin disc, and place peanut butter ball in the center. Fold the sides of the chocolate dough up and around the peanut butter center and roll into a smooth ball between your palms. Place on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart, and repeat with remaining dough. If desired, gently flatten cookies slightly, but this is not necessary.

2. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and let the cookies stand for 5 minutes before moving them to wire racks to complete cooling. Store cookies in tightly covered container.

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Strawberry Valentine Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Here’s a quick and fun cookie that’s great for Valentine’s day (or any other day, really) made with a box of cake mix and an easy-to-do cream cheese frosting.

Strawberry Valentine Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
From Espresso and Cream blog

Ingredients:

For cookies:
1 box of strawberry-flavored cake mix
1 large egg
1/4 cup oil
1/4 to 1/3 cup water (start with 1/4 cup and add the extra if needed)

For Frosting:
8 oz of cream cheese at room temperature (I used low-fat)
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
2 drops red food coloring
Sprinkles (optional)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a cookie sheet, line with parchment paper, or use a Silpat.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, egg, oil and water. Stir by hand until ingredients are evenly combined. Scoop dough by tablespoon portions and roll between your hands to make a smooth ball. Set on a baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 13 to 16 minutes, until slightly crackled on top and just lightly golden around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar, milk and red food coloring. Continue to beat until smooth.

Spread frosting atop of cooled cookies and garnish with pink sprinkles if desired.

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