Archive | November, 2011

The Best Cookies in the World!

30 Nov

** Well, I’ve had cookies from Levain Bakery and those are the best cookies in the world – but these are up there! **

Good evening bloggies!  How was your Thanksgiving?  Mine was lovely, along with the rest of my long weekend.  I’m pretty sure I would be a much better person all around if I had a 5 day weekend every week.  Or at least once a month.  The tofu pumpkin pie came out awesome!  After one person tasted it and said it was good, it was like a flood gate opened and everyone was willing to try it – reluctantly, but still.  Everyone agreed that it was impossible to tell the difference between this and regular pumpkin pie.  The texture and flavor were spot on.  I don’t know who the person is who decided to put tofu in pumpkin pie, but they deserve a “well-done, sir” and a hearty handshake.  Moving on.
 
I ran in the park on Saturday and actually felt lethargic.  That’s embarrassing to write, but it was a great reminder of why I don’t eat horribly anymore.  It has felt so good the past few days to get back to my regular eating habits and exercise routine.  I have decided on the Jersey City Half Marathon in September 2012 as my first big girl race.  Running along with me will be my brother and Steve.  Or should I say running ahead of me.  13.1 is a LONG time to be running, and I’m more than a little nervous.  If any of you have any first time training plans that worked for you, please email me!
 
After all of that health talk, let’s talk about todays recipe.  Cookies.  No really though, I was put in charge of baking cookies for a work function.  So, A little while ago I made a batch of these lovely little gems.  So easy and not time consuming, they are the perfect weeknight cookie if you need to throw something together in a pinch.  It’s literally 4 ingredients – all of which 99% of you have in your cabinets right now. 
 
Peanut Butter – Apricot-Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies
 
Yield: about a dozen and a half
 
Ingredients:
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup turbinado sugar (unrefined)
1 egg
1 jar apricot-raspberry preserves (or flavor of your choice)  
 
Preheat oven to 350F.  Mix the peanut butter, sugar, and egg until combined.  Roll a small ball of dough (no bigger than a golf ball) in your hands and push your thumb into the top to create a little “bowl” for the preserves to go in.  Once cookies are all rolled out and placed on your cookie sheet, spoon about 1 tsp of the preserves into the thumbprint.  Bake for 12 minutes.

Sorry for the iPhone pics, my camera is in my car and I’m far to lazy to go and get it 😉

 OK, I realize these look more like fist-prints rather than thumbprints, but I was really excited about these preserves and I wanted a lot in there!  I swear I don’t have a freakishly large thumb.

Amazing, you have to make these!  Seriously, go!  Now!  High five to easy cookies that look like they took a lot of effort! 

In other news, I picked up the best whisk in the world at Anthropologie over the weekend, Dakota thinks my purse is his pillow, and I found my new favorite animated guy (ok, he’s a frosted mini wheat – you read that right)

Doesn’t he look like he just won the showcase showdown on the Price is Right?  Is that show still on?  Until next time friends!

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Thanksgiving 5, Day 5: Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie

23 Nov

*LOST: Pie Pan.  Last seen: In cabinet next to spring form pan.  If found, please contact Amy. 

Well folks, Thanksgiving is upon us.  Does anybody else feel like 2011 never even happened?  While I love the holidays, this year went by scary fast so I’m just going to try to live each day as it comes even more than usual.  We spend too much time looking forward that we tend to take the “normal” days for granted.  “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” – Lennon.  Anybody with me?  No?  Ok then, on to today’s recipe!

When my sister-in-law emailed us the list of what each person was in charge of making for Thanksgiving, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that I was in charge of a side, bringing a turkey (I get one for free from my food store, I will not be preparing it in any way.  I don’t eat poultry and the thought of removing giblets is just too much for me to handle!), and a pumpkin pie.  Nice!  I already knew that the side dish was going to be Angela’s  maple pumpkin baked bean casserole with corn bread topping.  It’s vegan which means my nephew can eat it with his allergies.  Then I thought about every pumpkin pie I’ve every made.  Eggs.  Condensed milk.  Cream cheese.  Oh boy.  When I hit Google to do some research, I found that I had two options: 1) basically season some pumpkin puree with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and some sugar, dump it in a pie crust and be left with warm mush.  Or 2) Use tofu.  Tofu in pumpkin pie?  Yipes.  However, I was left with no choice and I’m always up for a challenge so I set out to Whole Foods and picked up some silken tofu.  I’ve never cooked with tofu in any way, so I knew this was going to be interesting.  And interesting it was.

Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie

Yield: 1 pie

Ingredients:

12 ounces of silken tofu

15 oz can pumpkin puree

1/2 cup turbinado sugar (if you only have white that’s fine)

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp corn starch

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves (optional)

Preheat oven to 475F.  In a 9 inch pie pan, place and shape your dough and stick in the refrigerator.  Using your stand mixer’s whisk attachment, mix tofu until somewhat creamy.  Add pumpkin and whisk on a high setting for about 5 minutes – you don’t want little specs of tofu hanging around.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated.  Pour mixture into the prepared pie pan and bake for 10 minutes.  Lower heat to 350F and bake for an additional 60 minutes.  Once the edges of your crust are brown, cover just the edges with tin foil and that should prevent burning.

I typically like to make my own crust, but pillsbury is dairy-free so I figured I’s try it

It started out pretty…

I don’t know what happened to that one side of the crust!  He just gave up on me about half-way through

Sad?  Nah, he’s just hot from being in the oven. 

*Yes, I had to bake my pie in a cake pan.  Pie pan, I don’t know what I did to you, but please come home soon.  It’s getting cold outside and I’m worried sick!*

The batter actually tasted really good!  But lets face it, the real test will be tomorrow, but I’ll definitely let you know what everybody thought.  My nephew is so excited for pumpkin pie, that I am just happy I was able to make it in a way that he can actually eat it and not get sick.

While I was baking the pie, the little ball of leftover dough was looking very sad.  He knew he was destined for the garbage.  So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving and my philosophy of “no man left behind”, I made a mini apple pie for myself.  Nothing crazy, just chopped some apples and tossed them with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, put those guys in my pie crust-lined mini-casserole dish, put a little earth balance on top, and put the last piece of crust on top of that.  Baked him for 30-40 minutes (wasn’t really paying attention), and had pie for lunch.   I love staying home from work by myself!  No rules over here, Dakota and I are having a party!

For those of you who live in the US, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  I hope you all have an absolutely fabulous holiday, filled with amazing food, friends, and family!

Thanksgiving 5, Day 4: Cranberry-Basil Butter

21 Nov

Hi everyone!  How was your weekend?  Mine was jam packed, but good.  Actually, since my last post I have been non-stop busy with a concert, school work, regular work, visiting Steve’s parents, and Disney on Ice.  My company has a box at the new Prudential center, and they provided me with free tickets, so we took my niece on Thursday.  The look of complete awe on every single child’s face while they are watching is pretty funny!  You would think that George and John came back to life and the Beatles were playing a reunion concert. 
I have also been busy working on a presentation that I have to do on poultry rights tomorrow, which includes details on the living conditions and slaughtering practices of turkeys.  Two days before Thanksgiving.  How lucky am I?  So needless to say, I’m more than ready to get through tomorrow and enjoy my 5 day weekend! 
I wanted to include a biscuit recipe on this post, but I just didn’t have time for any trial and error sessions in my kitchen this past weekend.  However, this cranberry-basil butter is more than capable of standing on its own because it is one of the best butters I have ever had.  Not to mention the fact that it is so festive looking with the cranberry red and green specs in it.

Cranberry-Basil Butter
Yield: about 4 ounces (1 stick’s worth)
 
Ingredients:
1 stick of salted butter, margarine, or earth balance, softened
¼ cup craisins
½ cup fresh basil leaves, rinsed
 
Place the craisins in a small pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.  Let the craisins cook for about 10 minutes, until they are softened.  Drain the craisins and rinse with cold water.  Place in food processor with your basil and softened butter.  Process until smooth.  Spoon mixture into a container and refrigerate until ready to use.

 


 

Now if you want to give this as a gift or favor to your guests, you can spoon some of the mixture onto a small sheet of brown parchment paper, and then form the butter into whatever shape you like (ball, log, etc).  Then just roll it up in the paper and tie with some twine.  Otherwise, little mason jars like the one I have in my pictures are always an awesome option.  They are super cute, really cheap, and come in all different sizes.  I picked up this little guy at Crate and Barrel for $2.95.
This recipe is easy, fool proof, and takes no time at all.  And the best part is that it is so incredibly good.  The basil really works well with the saltiness of the butter and tanginess of the cranberries.  This would be an awesome option for those of you who like to put butter under the skin of the turkey prior to cooking too.  Biscuits.  Italian bread.  Mashed potatoes.  This would really work with anything.  Now I’m hungry.  I’m going to look for something to slather butter on, I’ll see you later….. 😉

Thanksgiving 5, Day 3: Green Bean Casserole-ettes

16 Nov

Hi folks!  What a crazy week so far – 2 tests, preparing for a speech, and working on a group project right in the middle of my company’s busiest season is making my head spin a little.  I think I’m going to go back to the Banff and see if my hotel key still works.  I don’t see why it wouldn’t, it’s only been four months….
The silver lining is that I have a five day weekend next week!  Hopefully I won’t lose any hair or gain any gray ones before then.  So, needless to say, I have to save the time consuming recipe for Thanksgiving 5 for the weekend.  For day 3, I made mini green bean casserole-ettes.  This is so incredibly easy that I was able to throw it together on a weeknight after work, working out, and food shopping, with no stress.  Honestly, I think I could sit down with a bucket of this and eat it as a meal.  I don’t recommend that though.  It’s definitely not your traditional green bean casserole – there is no cream or dairy of any kind and no fried crunchy onions (stop cursing me, I promise you won’t miss them).  
 
Green Bean Casserole-ettes
Yield: 2 servings
 
Ingredients:
3 cups green beans, steamed and cut into bite-sized pieces
½  of a medium-large sweet onion, chopped
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp earth balance (or butter/margarine)
½ cup, plus ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup candied pecans, chopped
 
When finished steaming green beans, place them in a large bowl and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Melt earth balance and sugar together in a medium pan.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Pour onions and leftover liquid into the bowl with your green beans.  Add ½ cup of breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly.  Divide mixture evenly into to large custard dishes.  Sprinkle the top with the remaining breadcrumbs.  Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove and add chopped pecans.  Bake for an additional 5 minutes.  Serve immediately.


 

You can obviously make this in a large casserole dish too if you are cooking for a lot of people, but for those with only 2 in your household like me, this makes just enough for a fun side dish.  I might rename this to “makes you feel a little better during a crappy week casserole”, because it really is magical like that.

Thanksgiving 5: Day 2 – Sweet Potato Cookies

12 Nov

Less than 2 weeks until Thanksgiving!  It’s kind of sad that I have a countdown in my head for a holiday dedicated to eating all day.  For recipe #2 on TWSS’s Thanksgiving 5, I wanted to make a dessert that could be made healthy, using whole ingredients.  For some reason, sweet potato cookies popped in my head.  I love the idea of sneaking a vegetable into dessert, along with whole grains, nuts, and fruit.  I realize that I probably just lost a lot of you because that is not a description you want for your dessert, but you’re just going to have to trust me.  They are amazing – soft and gooey and full of fall flavors.  You will not be able to eat just one, I dare you to try!  Yeah I went there.  But, you definitely don’t have to feel bad about eating these which is the best part!  I’m so proud of these, they are my pride and joy.  *tear*
 
Sweet Potato Cookies

Yield: 20 cookies
 
Ingredients:
1 stick earth balance (or margarine), softened
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg (for vegan, use flax egg – email me for more info)
1 cup pureed sweet potatoes (I used canned because I had it on hand)
1 ¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup candied pecans, chopped
½ cup dried cranberries (craisins)
 
Preheat oven to 350F.  In mixing bowl, mix margarine and egg until smooth.  Add brown sugar, honey, sweet potatoes, vanilla, and spices and mix until incorporated.  Add flour and baking soda.  When your dough is done, fold in pecans and craisins.  Using a spoon or cookie scoop, drop the dough onto a prepared cookie sheet (cook no more than 12 at a time) and bake for 12 minutes.

 



The end result is definitely a soft, gooey, cakey cookie – not crispy.  They could probably even be thrown in a muffin pan and be an excellent breakfast.  But come on, cookies are way more fun than muffins.  Who’s with me?!
 
In other news, the Christmas tree was delivered to Rockefeller yesterday, it’s getting dark around here a heck of a lot earlier, and I only have two more bowling classes after this morning.  I bowled an all time high of 99 last weekend, moving my team up to second to last in the entire class!  Also, it’s 6 days until I go see one of my favorite bands in NYC, and fellow food-blogger from 3 More Big Bites – foodies and music lovers unite!  Maybe I’ll make a batch of these cookies and throw them on stage for her and the boys!  Probably not though 😉

Thanksgiving 5 and Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

8 Nov

Good evening/morning/afternoon. As you all know, Thanksgiving is just about 3 weeks away! I know this may surprise all of you (so brace yourself), but Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. A day that is dedicated to hanging out with loved ones, eating amazing food all day long, and kicking off a 4 day weekend. Oh yeah, and the Macy’s parade. Call me a child if you must, but I just love the balloons, the performances, and the overall corny-ness of it! And Santa Clause, of course. Anyway, being that this is The Whole Sweet Scoop’s first Thanksgiving, I decided to do a “Thanksgiving 5” – 5 posts between now and Thanksgiving, where I will provide different renditions of Turkey Day favorites. So, let’s get started! I consider myself a mashed potato connoisseur (very fancy), and this recipe was inspired by a trip to The Palm in NYC a few weeks ago. When we were deciding on our sides, there was a key word that stuck out on the menu. Goat cheese. As my eyes glanced to the words next to it, things began to get a little hazy. I nearly fainted. Mashed potatoes. What? Seriously? Why have I not heard of this? Why have I not thought of this? Cheddar cheese, sure. But goat cheese? I was as disappointed in myself as I was excited. They were honestly everything you think they would be and more. The goat cheese isn’t overpowering, but it definitely gives the mashed potatoes a “what is that” quality. In a very good way. It also works well because it is such a soft cheese that melts well. Cheddar cheese is good in mashed potatoes and all, but it definitely changes the consistency. This is sheer perfection.

Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Yield: 4 large servings

Ingredients:

10-12 small/med red potatoes, rinsed and chopped

4 oz goat cheese (spreadable, not crumbled)

2 tbsp earth balance (margarine or butter are fine too)

1/3 cup low fat milk (might be a little more or less depending on the size of your potatoes – you could probably eyeball it)

salt and pepper, to taste

Place potatoes in a large pot and fill with hot water until all potatoes are completely covered. Place on stovetop and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes for about 25 minutes – until they are fork tender. Drain and place back in pot. Using a fork, gently mash the potatoes a bit. Place goat cheese, earth balance, and milk on top of the potatoes. Using a hand mixer, mix together all of the ingredients, and whip the potatoes until smooth (or leave some lumps if that‘s your thing). Add desired amount of salt and pepper and serve immediately.

* Side note – I made these again the other day for 8 people, and the 4 oz was not enough. You couldn’t even taste the cheese, so keep that in mind

 

These would be so good for Thanksgiving! It’s a really great way to give the dish your own signature touch without being to over the top and untraditional. Steve and I both agreed that mashed potatoes will not be made in our house without goat cheese anymore. And he isn’t even a huge goat cheese fan. They’re that good! Let me know if you make them, I love talking potatoes! 

Buffalo Hummus

6 Nov

Hi friends!  How was your weekend?  Good?  Good.  Today was the kind of day in the northeast that you just want to wrap up in a big bow.  It was such a beautiful day for the NYC marathon!  Those people are really inspiring.  Who would have thought that there would ever be 47,000 people running 26.2 miles in one day.  It’s crazy, but very cool!  My brother is a marathon-er and I would love to run one some day, although I can’t even fathom the thought right now.  However, I have decided that I’m going to step up my running, and start to train for a half marathon next spring.  I didn’t pick one yet…. I’m thinking the Disney half?  Or I’m sure Hawaii has one.  Or London?  Or maybe Jersey City (probably more realistic 😉 ).  For the millions of people who read this blog, I’m going to post my official training schedule once I really kick into gear.  Follow along.  Lets be crazy and run 13.1!  Who’s in?!  Tap tap, this thing on?

Ok, onto the recipe!  I stopped eating chicken 3 years ago and the only thing I occasionally miss is buffalo wings.  Not the wings themselves, but the buffalo sauce.  I just love it, but rarely ever see it offered on a menu unless it’s with chicken.  The other day I was at work thinking about hummus (this happens often), and I thought that a little heat would probably work really well with those little smushed up chickpeas.  The best part is that it was so easy to make, and the ingredients are items that we all have in our pantry.  And also that it came out awesome.  Really awesome.   Is it possible to not like whole chickpeas but love hummus?  Because I do. 

Buffalo Hummus

Yield: about a cup and a half

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 to 1/3 cup EVOO (depends on the consistency you prefer)

1/3 cup hot sauce (we used Frank’s Red Hot)

1 garlic clove

1 tsp onion powder

Place chickpeas in food processor and process until somewhat smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth and no lumps remain.

I am so excited to have buffalo back in my life again!  Steve, who is usually so-so on hummus, absolutely loved it too!  After a weekend of donuts, bagels, chocolate, mashed potatoes, ice cream, and pie, this is a welcome healthy snack for the upcoming week.  That sounds disgusting now that I’m actually reading it.  I guess that’s why people who want to lose weight are told to keep a journal of everything they eat.  It works.  I feel shamed.  Anyway, tomorrow we’re right back on track!