Pumpkin Spice Granola

Have you seen this meme on the internet?  Brace-yourselves-Pumpkin(http://makeameme.org/meme/Brace-yourselves-Pumpkin)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have, it’s possible you contemplated not even bothering to come see my new recipe because you are tired of seeing pumpkin in everywhere, too.  But how could I not share a fantastic recipe with you?  Even if it is pumpkin.  🙂

Pumpkin Spice GranolaActually, this was an effort to try to convince my not-that-thrilled-with-granola family that granola can be special and just as tasty as the more expensive boxed cereals.  I think it worked at least for one of them, because I didn’t end up having to eat it all myself!

The great thing about this granola is that you put it in the oven for 6-8 hours and forget it.  Go to work, go to sleep; it will be there when you get back to it.  When you walk in the door, or get out of bed, the house will smell amazing!  Your stomach will begin to growl, and you might just decide to have a bowl of it right then before it has had much of a chance to cool off.

Pumpkin Granola

  • 10 c. rolled oats (not quick or instant oats)
  • 1 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 c. walnuts, pecans, cashews, or your favorite nut to find in granola
  • 1/2 c. juice (apple, white grape, or another gently-flavored juice that blends well with pumpkin)
  • 1 14-16 oz. can of pumpkin puree (1 1/2 c. if you are using a pumpkin cooked from scratch)
  • 1/2 c. real maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. demerara sugar, raw sugar, or brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 T. vanilla (or more if you like)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Break nuts into pieces – whatever size you like to chew in your granola.  I break a walnut half into about 4 pieces, roughly.  In a large bowl, mix oats, coconut, and broken nuts.  In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients.  Pour pumpkin mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until well coated.

Spread evenly onto 2 large cookie sheets.  (I really need to get another stoneware baking sheet.  It works incredibly well here.)  Put on racks in oven and set it to “warm” or 175°.  Bake for 6-8 hours.  (Note:  I have allowed a similar granola to bake for as long as 12 hours before, but it does get very, very crunchy.  If you choose 6 hours, it will be moist enough that you should store it in a cold location if you won’t finish it in a week.)  Place on cooling racks.  Store in an airtight container only once it has completely cooled down.  What you eat before that is up to you!  😉

This is great served with raisins or date pieces.

Piña Colada Millet Pudding for the Virtual Vegan Potluck

vvpLOGOWelcome to the Virtual Vegan Potluck!  I have left you my dish to enjoy (ah, the marvels of technology that allows me to schedule a post days in advance), but I won’t be joining you until tonight or tomorrow.  (I’m a Seventh-day Adventist and we spend the day in worship, rest, and family time from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.  While this kind of potluck is hardly work, it is something that I focus on intently when I wade through the marvelous recipes, ignoring everything and everybody else completely.  Therefore, I’ve chosen to wait until later.)  Have a wonderful time!  🙂

Most of my pudding recipes are made from non-dairy milk, flavorings, and cornstarch/arrowroot.  While they are extremely tasty, they aren’t as nutritious as they are just plain old dessert.  I decided to mess around with a millet pudding that has some whole grain goodness along with dessert properties.  Then I don’t feel as guilty when I eat a large helping!  And my hungry, hungry teens get more nutrients for their vast calorie intakes.

That being said, don’t think that this dessert is so healthy that it doesn’t taste like dessert…it is wonderful!  You can adjust the sweetness as you desire as long as you use a dry type of sweetener.  Increase, decrease – it shouldn’t affect the overall performance.

Pina Colada Pudding smallPiña Colada Pudding

  • 1 c. millet, rinsed and drained
  • 4 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • juice from half a small lemon
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (13.66 oz.)
  • 1 can pineapple in it’s own juice, undrained* (20 oz.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice crystals (I have had good success substituting half of this with 1/4 tsp. pure stevia powder ~ and it likely would work with all stevia using 1/2 tsp.)

In a heavy-bottom pan, simmer the millet in the water with the salt for about 30 minutes, turning the heat down as the water begins to be absorbed by the millet.  Cover it with the lid askew to keep it from boiling over.  Keep a close eye on this, because it can all of a sudden scorch – or boil over – if you aren’t turning the heat down soon enough.  If there is any water left after 30 minutes, you will need to continue cooking it for a while.  A lot depends on how hot your simmer is and how heavy your pot is.  If it begins to stick to the bottom, but still seems a bit damp, remove from the heat and cover completely with the lid.  Let it rest for 5-10 minutes and it will loosen from the bottom and finish cooking, absorbing the rest of the water.  Let cool with lid on for about 15 minutes so that you aren’t trying to blend super hot ingredients.  (Another option is to cook your millet in the oven, covered, overnight at 200°.  It will be perfectly fluffy in the morning and can be blended after a 15 minute cooling period.)

While the millet is cooking, blend the rest of the ingredients in a large capacity blender (56 oz.)  Add the warm millet and blend until the pudding is smooth.  (This makes for a VERY full blender.  If you have a smaller blender or just want to make sure you have enough room in a large blender, you will need to do this in batches with half of the pineapple/coconut mixture and half of the millet.)  Pour into a serving bowl or individual bowls and cover with plastic wrap touching the surface of the pudding.  Chill thoroughly.

*This makes a soft pudding.  If you like a thicker pudding that is closer to sliceable, drain the pineapple first, but it may take longer to blend this way.

vvp Thanks for coming To visit the blog ~ Healthy Slow Cooking ~ that precedes mine in the Potluck, click here!
~!To visit the blog ~ Kelli’s Vegan Kitchen ~ that follows mine in the Potluck, click here!
To start at the beginning of the Potluck (there are about 170 of us this time!), click here!

IF there are folks who did NOT post for the vegan potluck like they were supposed to, and you cannot find links to the next blog in line, please, please, please, go to the beginning of the potluck (link is just above this paragraph) and you can click on missing links from there so that you don’t miss any of the marvelous recipes of those bloggers who DID post correctly.

Oatmeal Cookie Journey (gluten-free)

Cookies…cookies…cookiesCOOKIES!!!

You guessed it….I love cookies!  (Of course, Cookie Monster was my favorite Muppet.)  Sadly, I haven’t been doing much baking lately, though.  Kinda lost my mojo without wheat flour to make it brainless easy.

Last night and this morning I had such a craving for oatmeal-raisin cookies that I couldn’t Oatmeal Cookie (gluten-free; first attempt) 002help but make another attempt at turning out a good whole-grain gluten-free cookie.  Since I want you to be brave, too, at trying to create new recipes in your kitchen, I am going to take you on this oatmeal cookie journey.  I will tell you what I was thinking as I turned this recipe that I made for years and years with whole wheat flour into this gluten-free version.

First of all, oatmeal cookies are marvelous for attempting to remove the wheat flour, because there isn’t much of it in the recipe at the beginning!  As long as you are using gluten-free oats you are almost home free (or if you are just avoiding wheat and don’t get deathly ill if you get a hold of some teeny amounts gluten, use regular oats.)

To replace the 1 1/2 c. of wheat flour, I decided how hard could it be to use oat flour?  I scooped up 3 c. of oats (because I always double this recipe or they are gone much too soon) and whizzed it up in a dry blender.  (It’s okay if the oats look more like meal than a smooth flour when you are done.)  When I measured the flour after whizzing it, I was 1/4 c. short.  Well, rats!  Rather than try to whiz up that small amount of oats (they get kind of lost in the bottom of the blender and it doesn’t work particularly well), I decided to just throw in some almond meal for the final 1/4 c. that was missing.  Almond meal gives the look and feel of whole wheat flour.  At the last minute, I pondered my coconut flour.  It can help with the baked texture of things to also mimic whole wheat flour.  So, I tossed in a 1/4 c. of that, too!  I figured at worst I would have to add some extra liquid since it seriously soaks up moisture like a sponge left out to dry in the summer sun.

Turns out it was a good choice at the last minute to toss in that coconut flour.  Oat flour can be a little sticky in comparison to whole wheat flour.  The little bit of coconut flour just mopped up any sticky ideas the oat flour might have had and sat back to enjoy the ride.

I chose to add jumbo organic raisins in these cookies – and I made them fairly big since I was in a hurry.  (It only took me an hour to make a double batch from start to finish – not bad.)  Chocolate chips are a nice switch from raisins if you’d rather.  Butterscotch chips are fun, too, if you can find vegan ones.  Coconut flakes are great with any of the above options or by itself (I found some sweetened coconut shreds without any nasty chemicals at Trader Joe’s and I am thrilled.)

I originally thought I was going to have to tweak this recipe again later, but after the whole batch is finished, I don’t think I will need to do so.  They are a little fragile when you first take them off of the cookie sheet, but they firm up nicely as they cool.  If you like, you can leave them on the cookie sheet until they are not so fragile before removing them to a cooling rack.

Oatmeal CookiesOatmeal Cookie (gluten-free; first attempt) 001

  • 1/2 c. Earth Balance buttery sticks (1 stick)
  • 1/4 c. melted coconut oil (virgin is best)
  • 1 1/4 c. evaporated cane juice crystals
  • 2 T. molasses
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder
  • 1/4 c. + 2 T. non-dairy milk
  • 1 1/4 c. + 2 T. oat flour (1 1/2 c. oats whizzed into meal/flour)
  • 2 T. almond meal/flour
  • 2 T. coconut flour
  • 3 c. oats (I used half and half ~ rolled oats and quick oats)

Preheat oven to 375°.  Cover your cookie sheets with parchment paper (this is vital to make vegan and gluten-free cookies work the best.)

Mix the first 5 ingredients together until smooth.  Stir in the egg replacer powder.  Add the non-dairy milk a little at a time, whipping it into the batter.  By the time it is all in, you should have a lovely fluffy batter.  (Add any extras here, like raisins, chips, coconut, etc.) Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl before pouring it all into the wet ingredients.  Mix thoroughly.

Using a teaspoon or a tablespoon, scoop dough against the side of the bowl to press it.  This will give you a sturdier cookie.  You could also press the dough in your hands if you prefer.  Drop spoonfuls onto the cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Remove to cooling rack.

Variations:  Add 1 c. raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, and/or coconut

 

Non-Alcoholic Pina Colada Fizz

While I was trying to make a pina colada pudding of some sort, I was doing some tasting as I went.  (Hey, I had to make sure everything was good, right?)  At one point, the creamy stuff in the blender began to taste so yummy that I kept tasting and knew I needed to stop!  Finally, a light bulb went off and I poured a smidge into a small cup and started to play with that, too, in order to make a virgin pina colada.  (I figured at least one recipe was bound to turn out well.)  Just in case it was all in my imagination that my creation tasted amazing, I fixed a similar smidge for one of my willing taste-testers.  When he gave it the thumbs-up, I was content.

Later that evening, my son-in-law was over who likes all things “fancy non-alcoholic drink” and I told him about it.  He burst my bubble.  He told me that pina coladas don’t have anything fizzy in them.  Well…bummer!

It was late that night when I got my next light-bulb moment.  Why not just change the name?  Who cares what it is “supposed” to be ~ this was good and I wanted to share it!  😀  So, here you have it….although, if you don’t want the fizz, just leave it out.  It is decadent and delicious without the sparkling water, too!

Pina Colada Fizz (non-alcoholic)

  • juice from 1 small organic lemon
  • 2 cans Thai organic coconut milk (I used the full-fat version), chilled
  • 1-2 cans pineapple chunks*, undrained, preferably chilled
  • 1/2 tsp. pure stevia
  • 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • Canada Dry sparkling seltzer water, raspberry flavor, chilled, optional

In a 56-oz blender, whiz the first 5 ingredients together until very smooth.  Serve in glasses mixed with the sparkling seltzer water to taste. You should probably run a taste test to see what proportion you like best.  Garnish with fresh pineapple wedges and little umbrellas, if desired.  (Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of these pretties on hand.)

The cream in the blender makes about 7 cups if you use 1 can of pineapple.

*If you wish to use fresh or frozen pineapple, you probably will want to decrease or omit the lemon juice, because it will be tangy enough without it.  In making a half recipe, I threw in 1 1/2 c. of fresh pineapple.  It was very good this way.

Vegan Ice Cream

Memorial Day ~ can you believe it?  Summer is upon us.  And the thought pops into your head unbidden….ice cream!!!  But can vegans have ice cream?  Of course they can ~ of the non-dairy variety!  Not only are there some marvelous ones available on the market these days, but recipes abound on the internet, too.

Unfortunately, a lot of the recipes I’ve found online use a teeny tiny ice cream maker ~ about 1-1 1/2 quart-sized.  Well, honey, let me tell you…that is not going to cut it with my family!  When all the kids lived at home we had 6 of us standing around the ice cream maker with bowls and spoons in hand waiting for it to hurry and finish.  And we didn’t want any 1/2 c. serving, either.  (Yes, I know…there may be a good reason I’m not a svelte vegan.  But if you saw my kids and hubby and how lean they are….well, it probably doesn’t have much to do with the ice cream.)  Even though this recipe will be for a 1/2 gallon/4 quart sized churn, my personal one is now a 6 quart!  😀  Any extras can be frozen in individual-serving-sized Tupperware for later.  (Note:  it must be thawed a while, as it comes out like a brick due to no weird additives or gums added to keep it from freezing solid.)  Depending on the churn you own/buy this can be made quickly, or take a bit longer.  If you like a soft-serve ice cream, you can churn this and open it immediately to eat it.  Follow your manufacturer’s user manual for proper churning and ice/salt ratio.  (Right now I’d love to get a new churn, because mine isn’t very efficient and leaves the center rather runny while the outer edges are frozen solid enough that the dasher won’t turn any more ~ it didn’t do this when I first bought it.  While my hubby doesn’t like to eat any fruited ice creams much to our chagrin, he does love ice cream the consistency of a milkshake.  So, he gets all the middle stuff and we scrape the outside edges for the rest of us!  I guess we’ll be forgiving then with his other ice cream foibles!  ;))

Because I can control the ingredients, this ice cream has fewer calories than the packaged store-bought variety.  I unscientifically figured out the approximate calories of a cup of vanilla (using the nutrition labels on the ingredients I put into it) and came up with about 143 calories.  This was using full sweetener (rather than substituting any stevia for part of it) and the tofu option.  Not too shabby if you can keep yourself down to 1-2 cups!  Most desserts are more caloric than this.

I am going to lay out my basic vanilla soy recipe for you ~ and I’ll give you other options for different flavors (the really fun part!), ways to substitute for allergies (to soy and nuts specifically**), and sweetener options.  There is a lot of leeway for adjustments in this particular ice cream.  It makes it very easy on you.

*Again, ice cream churns vary ~ so it would be a good thing if you have extra non-dairy milk on hand in case your church is actually bigger than it says it is.  My last 1/2-gallon Rival-brand churn made about 12 cups of ice cream measured out!

Vegan Ice Cream

  • 1/2 gallon non-dairy milk (soy, almond, coconut-not the canned+)
  • 1/2 c. raw cashews (can be more for a richer product – see tofu comment)
  • 1 pkg. Morinu tofu, drained (you may omit this and use a total of 1 c. cashews instead for a richer product.)
  • 1 1/2 c. sweetener (this can be sugar, evaporated cane juice crystals, honey, maple syrup, etc.  You can also substitute 1/2-1 tsp. pure stevia extract powder for 1/2-1 c. of the sweetener.  You may mix and match these sweeteners.  If you make a fruit ice cream, use a can of frozen juice concentrate in a matching flavor, or use white grape for a non-descript flavor to meld well with any fruit in place of the other sugars.  Because the fruit is so sweet, you don’t need the heavier sweeteners, although you could add a little bit of stevia or other choice to boost the sweetness if you have a sweet tooth.)
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • vanilla to taste.

Place cashews in blender and add just enough non-dairy milk to blend nuts until very creamy and smooth.  You don’t want any graininess left from tiny cashew pieces.  Add other ingredients with enough milk to blend them.  Pour into a 1/2 gallon freezer container/churn.  Add extra milk until you reach the “fill to this mark” line.  Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

**For soy allergies, omit the tofu and increase cashews to 1 c. total; use almond or coconut milk.  For nut allergies, omit cashews and double tofu; use soy or coconut milk+.

+Newsflash!  You might not want to use coconut milk for this unless your ice cream maker is very cooperative in it’s freezing nature.  With my wonky freezer I tried using Silk vanilla coconut milk last night after I already had this typed up and ready to post.  I had to laugh ~ some of the coconut fat from the milk was separated from the chocolatey coconut mix and frozen to the side all by itself!  It was tasty, but it wasn’t what I was going for!

Variations:  (The fun part!)

  • Chocolate:  Add 6-8 T. cocoa powder and a bit of almond extract along with the vanilla.  Or you can just use chocolate non-dairy milk instead of vanilla or plain.
  • Strawberry:  Pour part of the blended mix into the ice cream freezer container if you have a small blender.  Use the remaining mix (or all of the mix if you have a large, strong blender) to blend 1-2 c. of fresh or frozen strawberries (if you use frozen, the ice cream will finish faster); pour into the freezer container.  Add more milk to the blender and whiz another 1-2 c. of berries.  You want a total of 3-4 c. of berries.  Almond extract is good here, too ~ just a little.  I find that juice concentrate can work fairly well with this variation, since the berries are sweet, too.
  • Maple Walnut:  Add 1/4-1/2 c. walnuts when you blend the cashews.  Increase salt to 3/8 tsp.  The sweetener should be at least half maple syrup and the other half whatever other sweetener you choose since maple syrup is pricey.  You may add a touch of maple extract with the vanilla if you wish.
  • Pina Colada:  Add 1 1/2 c. pineapple juice, 1 can coconut milk, and a dash of coconut extract to the blender.  Or you may blend up some canned pineapple, too, but that tends to leave a couple of harsh clumps of fibers that aren’t much fun to come across while you are eating.  Another option would be to serve chilled crushed pineapple and shredded coconut on each serving.
  • Mint Chocolate Chip:  In a dry blender, or food processor, briefly whiz 1 c. of chocolate chips until tinier pieces.  Add to the freezer container after the milk mixture.  Add 1/2-1 tsp. mint extract or a few drops of peppermint oil to the blender.
  • Chocolate Chip:  As above, only omit the mint extract/oil.
  • Orange Cream:  (This one I haven’t perfected, but I’ll give you the idea so you can play with it.)  Add orange juice concentrate to the vanilla recipe.  Sometimes it comes out very strong ~ be careful how much you add.
  • Cookies and Cream:  After vanilla ice cream is done churning, remove the dasher and add in crushed chocolate sandwich cookies.  Stir well.  Put lid on and allow to harden according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Pumpkin:  (This is a strong pumpkin-flavored ice cream.  Decrease pumpkin for a milder version.)  Add a 15-oz can of pumpkin puree and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice to the blender.
  • Black Cherry:  Use 1 c. apple cherry juice concentrate and 1/2 c. of another sweetener and plenty of vanilla.  Slice/halve 2 c. frozen cherries (to make sure there are no pits) or pit fresh cherries.  Whiz half of them with the blender mixture until fine; pour into freezer container.  Chop remaining cherries with more milk in the blender until in small pieces.  Add to freezer container.
  • Chocolate Cherry:  Combine the chocolate ice cream version with the chopped cherries in the Black Cherry version.  Use full sweetener or the cocoa will be too bitter.
  • Coconut:  Add a can of lite coconut milk to replace some of the milk.  Sprinkle shredded coconut on top of each serving if desired.
  • Chocolate Coconut:  Make chocolate ice cream using Silk vanilla coconut milk for the non-dairy milk.+
  • Rocky Road:  Make chocolate ice cream.  When finished churning, remove the dasher and stir in 1 c. small chocolate chips (or chop regular ones in a dry blender/food processor) and 1/2 c. chopped nuts.

If you think of any other variation ideas, please let me know!  Happy churning!  😀

Mounds Bars…er…Bark?

Necessity isn’t the mother of invention….laziness is!  Or at least it seriously has a role to play!  Think about it ~ who has the most to “gain” from inventing an easier way to do something?  (Deep down inside I am a very laid-back, lazy person.  It has only been because I am also a people-pleaser that I have become something different, because it is what is expected of me.)

On the day I set out to make a vegan version of a Mounds Bar, I did my internet recipe research to see what everybody else had done.  Oh, my mouth was watering!  I wanted one of these.  I played with the ingredients list and melted my chocolate chips.  I got everything ready and tasted the coconut filling.  Yes, it all tasted good, even if it wasn’t exactly like the recipes I’d found online.

My cute little mini-muffin liners (purchased on impulse who knows when from who knows where) were all separated and the plan was to make little layers from the chocolate and coconut mixtures.  And then I looked at the clock.  I looked everything I had laid out.  I thought about how long this was going to take and what a mess I was likely to make.  (And how long it would take to write about.)  There had to be a better way.

On a whim, I stirred half of the lovely coconut mixture into the melted chocolate.  Not enough.  I dumped in the rest of it and stirred madly.  I got a little spoon and tasted.  Hmmm.  Not bad.  I started filling all of the cute little muffin cups that were in an 8″x8″ pan (alas, no mini-muffin pan.)  At the end there was extra chocolate-coconut stuff, so I filled the papers to the very top.  There was still left-over melted candy.  I had a few more tiny muffin papers, but this time I put them on a cookie sheet so that they weren’t as squished as the others were.  Maybe the end product would look prettier.  I didn’t fill these to the top, either, to see if that was more aesthetically pleasing.  (Actually, buying some nice candy molds is highly recommended for this sort of thing, but I’ve never been able to justify the space they will take in my cupboards.)  When they were complete, there still was extra melted gooey yumminess left.

I cast about in my mind.  I could just eat what was left with a spoon….No, probably not a good idea.  I mentally peeked into my baking cupboard remembering there were no full-sized muffin papers in there.  What to do…what to do.  A light bulb went off.  I pulled out a piece of waxed paper, scooted the smaller candies over to one end of the cookie sheet, and spread the waxed paper across the other end.  I poured the remaining candy out, but it was so thick that it just stayed in a pile.  Spreading it out worked very well.  I made it pretty thin so that it can be broken once it’s chilled.

During a taste-testing session, my teens declared all of them delicious!  My favorite was the bark version.  R’s was the thick fudgy version.  J’s?  You guess it ~ ALL of them.  😀  The next day I served them to the whole family and everybody liked them.  We decided the muffin papers were a nuisance to peel, so molds are now on my to-buy list.

Mounds Bars…er…Bark?

  • 3 c. vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 c. unsweetened finely shredded coconut
  • 1/3 c. virgin coconut oil (decrease to 1/4 c. or less to make into bark)
  • 1/2 c. honey or other liquid sweetener
  • dash of salt
  • splash or two of vanilla

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler (or in a metal bowl set on top of a saucepan ~ this is what I actually use.)  Mix the remaining ingredients together*.  Decide you are much too lazy to form cute little Mounds bars or any such thing.  Once the chocolate chips are melted completely, mix the coconut mixture into the chocolate and stir (*or if you know ahead of time you will skip the fancy stuff, throw all the ingredients into the melted chocolate without pre-mixing it.)  Drop into molds, muffin papers, or spread out on waxed paper.  Chill.  Break into bark, pop out of molds, or peel out of papers.  Eat.  Smile.  🙂

Coconut Milkshake

Here is a simple way to get a vegan milkshake without the expensive containers of vegan ice cream getting involved.

Coconut Milkshake (and variations)

  • 1 frozen peeled banana, broken into pieces
  • Silk vanilla coconut milk
  • a sprinkle of pure powdered stevia extract

Place the banana and stevia in a blender.  Add just enough coconut milk to allow the blender to work properly.  This will depend on the strength of your blender, honestly.  That is why there is no measurement given for the milk.  Add extra coconut milk to determine how thick or thin you prefer your shake.  Pour into a glass and serve.

Variations:

  • Use almond or soy vanilla flavored milk in place of the coconut.  Add 1-2 T. of peanut butter and a sprinkle of stevia.  You could also add a spoonful of cocoa powder and a little more sweetener ~ or just use chocolate milk!
  • Use a plain flavored milk and add a drop or two of peppermint oil or extract.  If you want it to be green, add a few baby spinach leaves.
  • Toss in some blueberries.
  • Add some frozen pineapple chunks for a pina colada shake

Island Cookies

I love taste testing my cookie recipes!  😀  Of course, sometimes it gets out of hand….  Like this time.  (By the way, you can click on the pictures to see bigger versions.)

Last weekend, I needed a new cookie recipe, because somebody (or bodies) had snacked on the chocolate chips and I couldn’t make the requested lunch box favorites – chocolate chip cookies.  I also needed a gluten-free cookie.  This is what I found.  It was based off of this recipe.  I was intrigued, but frustrated.  Too often gluten-free, grain-free recipes call for massive amounts of eggs.  It can be difficult to substitute, because often they are doing more than one job – leavening, binding, moisture, flavor.  I can fix the moisture issue, as a general rule, but the leavening/binding issues can be tricky.  Flavor can be adjusted to make up for the lack of eggs, too.  I did some reading on other websites about replacing eggs in things (thus reinforcing the on-going thought that we all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us when it comes to creating something “new.”)

Often times, you don’t know for sure how things will work out until you’ve made at least one batch….or two…or….well, you get the picture.

My first attempt came out ~ well ~ in my mind…plain.  Remember what I said about eggs giving things flavor?  Hmmm…they had a very mild flavor.  I was afraid my non-taster hubby wouldn’t be impressed.  I was sure tweaking would be in order.  Guess what?  All the guys liked them!  The impression they got was of a sugar cookie with a little cinnamon.  Who knew?  However, I wasn’t finished tweaking.

The “worst” of it was that I didn’t finish tweaking until about half of the cookies were baked!  😀  I had the dough mixed up and decided if I threw in some rum flavoring it would add a lot to the overall flavor.  Then I thought, “What about some coconut flakes?”  Before I threw those in, I made up 2 cookies from the original dough in the mixing bowl – 1 to taste test and 1 for the photo shoot.  (Those taste a lot like coconut snickerdoodles.)

While I was stirring in the coconut, I thought about how much hubby prefers chocolate chips in his cookies.  So, I put 2-cookies-worth of coconut-laden dough onto the cookie sheet and added chocolate chips.  I no longer thought they would need to be rolled in the cinnamon sugar.  One cookie later told me ‘no.’  It stuck like crazy to the glass I was using to flatten the cookie balls.  Back to the sugar…but I really thought just plain sugar (aka: evaporated cane juice crystals) would be good enough.

By this time, I had the first pan in the oven – can you believe it?  Finally.  When the cookies came out, I almost burned my mouth tasting the first one before they cooled!  By this time, the 2nd pan was already in the oven with plain-sugar-coated cookies on it.

I bit into the first cookie ~ the plain one.  MMmmm…it was SO much better than my first attempt.  I only ate a bite, because I hadn’t been hungry this morning and hadn’t actually had breakfast yet.  Next I broke off a piece of the coconut-flakes-added cookie.  Oh, man, this was even better than the last one!  I couldn’t wait to try the ones with chocolate chips.  All set to get a bigger burst of flavor than before, my mouth watered….ah, let down.  Without the cinnamon sugar, they were just plain ol’ cookies!

Quickly I got the next pan ready with cinnamon-sugar on them.  When they came out of the oven, I finally got that amazing burst of flavor I knew was coming!

Overall, I love each of these cookie variations for different reasons.  They were all moist inside with a nice crumb.  Since I made a double batch, by the time I got to the very last pan, the coconut flour had soaked up a little too much moisture and the finished product was a bit on the fragile side as it came off the pan.  If you make a single batch, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Island Cookies

  • 3/4 c. evaporated cane juice crystals or sugar
  • 1/4 c. Earth Balance buttery spread sticks (1/2 a stick)
  • 1/4 c. softened virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. rum extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. molasses
  • 2 T. Ener-G egg replacer powder
  • 1/2 c. Silk vanilla coconut milk (you could probably substitute canned coconut milk)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder, sieved to remove lumps
  • 3/4 c. coconut flour, sifted
  • 1/2 c. coconut flakes – I used sweetened ones (opt. – if not using chocolate chips, increase)
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips (opt.)
  • 3 T. evaporated cane juice crystals or sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon (use the good stuff for the best flavor – Saigon, etc.)

Preheat oven to 375°.  Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Beat the sugar, Earth Balance, coconut oil, vanilla, rum extract, salt, and molasses until creamy.  Stir in the egg replacer powder.  Add roughly a 1/3 of the coconut milk, stirring until batter begins to fluff up.  Add another 1/3 of the coconut milk, again mixing well.  Reserve the remaining coconut milk.  Sprinkle the baking soda over the dough and whip into the batter.  Stir in the coconut flour and when almost all is incorporated, add the reserved coconut milk.  Add coconut flakes and chocolate chips if using.  Let rest for 5 minutes while mixing remaining sugar and cinnamon in a cereal bowl.

Form dough into no-bigger-than-ping-pong-sized balls and roll/toss in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Place on cookie sheets and press lightly down with the bottom of a wide drinking glass.  (If you prefer, you can use a fork, but I didn’t care for the looks as much.)  If the chocolate chips resist the pressing, just wiggle the glass a bit and they will give in.  😀

Bake for 12-14 minutes.  Cool on racks.Yields 25-28 cookies

Vegan Coconut Cream Pie

I’ve had coconut cream on my mind a lot lately.  It started with another blogger’s recipe for vegan cheesecake that wasn’t quite what I was looking for and had more the texture of a cream pie.  Or maybe it started when my BFF told me about Tropical Traditions’ coconut products – and then I won a quart jar of their virgin coconut oil.  However it began, next Katie over at www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com posted a vegan whipped cream recipe using coconut cream.  (All of her pictures make my stomach growl.)  Well, I just about couldn’t stand it any more!  I had to find a coconut cream pie recipe by search engine.  I spent a good chunk of time looking…and wasn’t satisfied.  None of the pictures looked like what my imagination was projecting and some of the ingredients were pretty bland and used cornstarch to obtain a thick product.

So, I gave up.  Well, sorta.  I gave up the computer search and went to the kitchen to play.  I had enough ideas of what not to do and some ideas of what I wanted to do – at least enough for a trial run.  It was more of a trial runny.  If I froze it, it was too hard to slice.  If left in the refrigerator, it was more like a soft pudding and wouldn’t slice well that way, either.  Don’t get me wrong – it tasted good and we ate every last crumb!  🙂  But I knew I wasn’t done.

The second one I made for the weekend when I knew my daughter and son-in-law would be over to help eat it, so I doubled the recipe into a 9″x13″ pan.  This time it worked!  Everybody really wished there had been more of it.

If you have friends who are gluten sensitive/intolerant, this dessert recipe is for you.  There is no grain used in the whole batch – not even the crust (unless you used flour-covered date pieces.)

This recipe is for a 9″ deep-dish pie pan.  You will have a little of the filling leftover than won’t fit that you can put in a bowl for pudding.  It might work to fill 2 smaller pie crusts, but the crust recipe would have to be adjusted – probably 1 1/2 times.

Vegan Coconut Cream Pie

 Crust:

  • 1 c. walnuts
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 c. raw almonds
  • 15 pitted soft dates (or 1 c. date pieces, may be oat flour-covered)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 T. virgin coconut oil (this is optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/16 tsp. salt

Filling:

  • 1 can chilled coconut milk (chilled at least 8 hours)
  • 1 c. raw cashews (may soak 4-8 hours before using)
  • 1 pkg. extra firm Morinu tofu
  • 1/2 tsp. powdered stevia extract (or 1/4-1/2 c. more sweetener)
  • 1/2 c. evaporated cane juice crystals or sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 T. virgin coconut oil

In a food processor, pulse the walnuts, coconut, and almonds until tiny pieces. Add the remaining crust ingredients, pulsing and processing until the dates are completely incorporated and you can press some together and it sticks well.  Press this into a 10″ deep dish pie pan.  Be patient – it takes a little bit to get it evenly distributed.  Also, if you are using a glass pie plate, you can hold it up and look through the bottom to see if there are thin spots.

Open the chilled can of coconut milk carefully.  Scrape out the hardened coconut cream into a high-powered blender.  Add 2 T. of the thin liquid from the can of coconut milk.  (Save the rest of the liquid for making smoothies.)  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until there are no grainy pieces of cashew left on a spatula dipped into the cream.  Pour into the crust.  Chill for 4-8 hours.

Oatmeal Cookies

Eating cookie dough – I think we all did it growing up!  That is, until Mom learned that raw eggs could contain salmonella and kill us.  Rats.  There went all the fun of “helping” make cookies.  Somehow, though, when her back was turned, I still managed to snitch a taste here and there.  To a little kid’s mind it made no sense whatsoever to one week be allowed to eat the dough and the next to be told it was dangerous.  Once I became a mom, I had to be diligent and depressing and not allow my children to eat it, either when we weren’t yet vegan.  Therefore, it was with great joy that it dawned on me while creating a vegan cookie recipe that there were no eggs in the cookie dough any more.  I could teach my children to eat cookie dough!  (I think I probably created a problem there…ha!)

This recipe probably provides my favorite cookie dough to eat (although chocolate chip is a close second.)  There is something about the chewy oatmeal and the goodies chosen to vary the recipe that make me dip in again and again.  (I guess it might be a little difficult to definitively tell you how many cookies the batch makes!)  🙂

The batch pictured contains a wonderful raisin medley from Trader Joe’s.  It has 3 types of HUGE raisins – white, flame, and regular.  If you are not a raisin fan (like some of my kids – and lo, and behold, my husband!  He refused to eat the cookies when he saw these.  Shocking….simply shocking!  This is the man who is a devourer of cookies…), you can switch them with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips (I’ve actually found a dairy- and corn syrup-free kind once!), coconut flakes, etc.  Or combine a whole bunch of things together to make some crazy cookies.

And be forewarned….you may wish you’d  made a double batch when you see how quickly these disappear!  (I guess mine will be around longer since the cookie-monster hubby isn’t involved any more.  But wait…these are my 17-yr. old son, J’s, favorite cookies.  Never mind….they probably are already gone.)

Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) Earth’s Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, softened (these contain no trans fats)
  • 1/4 c. melted coconut oil (virgin is best) or light olive oil
  • 1 1/4 c. evaporated cane juice
  • 1-2 T. molasses
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder
  • 1/4 c. + 2 T. non-dairy milk
  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour (white whole wheat is sweetest and lightest)
  • 3 c. oats
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Mix the first 5 ingredients together until smooth.  Stir in the egg replacer powder.  Stir in soy milk a bit at a time and whip with spoon until fluffier.  Add salt and baking soda into sugar mixture.  Add flour and oats.  Stir thoroughly.

Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment-paper-covered cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  If the cookies seem crumbly after the first pan is baked, press the dough together more before baking.

Makes approximately 42 cookies.  (I tried to estimate just how much dough I snitched to make up the total.)

Variations: Add 1 c. raisins, nuts, chocolate or butterscotch chips, and/or coconut before adding the flour and oats.