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December 2011

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Now on DailyGarnish.com

December 16, 2011

Happy Friday, everyone! I don’t know about you, but I’m almost as excited about this weekend as I am about Christmas. Joey and I have been traveling on the weekends like crazy people – I think we’ve been gone five out of the last six weekends and a majority of the weekends this fall. So this weekend, we have a lazy weekend planned at home.

We’ll also be hosting a pre-Christmas dinner party with some of our friends from Bible study, so there will be a little cooking and cleaning on the schedule. But aside from that, just a lot of nothing. I can hardly wait!

In other, more exciting, news, I’m honored to be guest posting over at Daily Garnish today. While Emily is adjusting to life as a new mom, she asked me to share a recipe. When I came upon this super-simple recipe for Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, I couldn’t resist sharing it with everyone I know.

If you are new to vegan baking, this recipe is for you, since it contains no hard-to-find ingredients. Drop on over to Daily Garnish for the recipe!

Have a great weekend!
Madison

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Brown Sugar Cookies with Mint Chocolate Glaze

December 15, 2011

I created these recipes a while back to share as part of a Christmas cookie exchange on Amy’s blog. Amy and I have a mutual friend: her cousin, Emily, happens to be a good high school friend of mine. When Amy asked if I would take part in her ’25 Days of Cookies’ I was excited to have another reason to bake and create something special.

These cookies really do deliver on the special. Instead of making traditional sugar cookies with granulated sugar, I decided to mix things up and use brown sugar mixed together with a bit of granulated sugar. The result was a moist, chewy cookie with oodles of depth. Much more than a traditional sugar cookie. I also used white whole wheat flour for added nutty flavor, but you could easily use all-purpose flour if you want.

Of course, no Christmas sugar cookie is complete without a little glaze, so I played of the mint-chocolate combination and made a super-simple icing. The resulting topper gave these cookies a bit of ‘peppermint patty’ appeal.

Brown Sugar Cookies with Mint Chocolate Glaze
Ingredients
*1 cup butter, softened
*1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
*1/2 cup granulated sugar
*2 large eggs
*3/4 teaspoon baking soda
*1/4 teaspoon baking powder
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*2 cups white whole wheat flour
*1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Glaze
*2/3 cup powdered sugar
*2 tablespoons chocolate milk
*1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
*2 teaspoons chocolate milk powder (optional)
Instructions
1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium high speed for 30 seconds or until butter is soft and fluffy. Add in the sugars and beat for 1 to 2 minutes more. Add in the eggs, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and salt. Beat until well combined. Add in the flours and beat until just combined. Chill for 2 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place on the baking sheet, 2 inches apart, and bake for 8 minutes. Cookies will look slightly puffy and under-baked/glossy on the tops. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Combine the powdered sugar, chocolate milk, peppermint extract and chocolate milk powder (if using) and stir until combined. Drizzle glaze over cooled cookies and allow glaze to harden. Makes 3 dozen cookies.
Happy Baking!
Madison

Sweet and Sour Tempeh Salad

December 12, 2011

I got an e-mail from a reader last week asking about how I eat vegetarian even though my hubby doesn’t. When we first got married, I was wondering the same thing! Since I do most of the cooking, figuring out how we could still eat healthfully at home within our dietary constraints was up to me.

This salad is a perfect example of how we eat together. My protein source for this dinner salad was tempeh glazed in a super simple sweet and sour sauce. While Joey’s protein source was chopped cooked chicken breast cooked in the same method I cooked my tempeh. It’s quick swaps like these that make dinnertime in our house easier than it may initially seem.

If you are unfamiliar with tempeh, you can find out more about this vegetarian protein source HERE. It’s packed with health benefits, and from a cook’s perspective, it’s extremely versatile. Crumbled up, it can easily pass for the texture of browned and crumbled ground beef, and it works well as a chicken replacement, as in this recipe.

This salad is a slightly different adaptation of my Autumn Chopped Salad. I know a lot of people have made this recipe after finding it on Pinterest, but mentioned that they wanted it to have a bit more protein. Problem solved!

Sweet and Sour Tempeh Salad
Ingredients
*1/3 cup cubed, raw tempeh
*1 tablespoon low-sodium sweet and sour stir-fry sauce
*1 teaspoon olive oil
*2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
*1/2 medium pear (firm), chopped into bite-sized pieces
*1 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, cubed
*1 tablespoon poppyseed dressing
*2 tablespoons light balsamic vinaigrette

Instructions
*Combine the tempeh, sweet and sour sauce, and olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is bubbly and hot and tempeh is heated through. Remove from heat and set aside.
*In a large salad bowl, combine the lettuce, pear, and cheese. Top with the tempeh.
*In a small cup, combine the poppyseed dressing and balsamic vinaigrette. Pour over the prepared salad. Serve immediately. Makes 1 serving

Happy Cooking!

Madison

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Review: Hotel Chocolat

December 9, 2011
A couple of months ago, the amazing people over at Hotel Chocolat offered to send over some chocolates from their holiday collection for me to review. Of course, I said yes! I mean the opportunity to eat free chocolate? Count me in. 
I wasn’t exactly sure what I would be reviewing, so imagine my delight when I unwrapped this amazing beautiful box of gourmet chocolates. My mom was visiting when I received the chocolates, so of course I took photos right away so we could dig in and try a couple. My first reaction was that the chocolate flavors were really creative:
Although the chocolates are a little pricey ($50 for the box of 28), if you are looking for a special Christmastime gift for a dinner party host of chocolate-loving family member, I would honestly recommend these. If you’re interested in finding out more, check them out HERE
Thanks, Hotel Chocolat! And have a great weekend, everyone!
Madison

Honey Graham Salmon

December 8, 2011

I’m thinking of naming this week of posts “Confession Week.” After the name-changing fears and discussion earlier this week (thanks for all your awesome responses – it’s amazing to hear everyone’s experiences), it’s time to talk about my eating habits. 

When I first went vegetarian, the thing I anticipated missing the most was fish. I could live without chicken, pork and beef without batting an eye, but fish, on the other hand, was another story. During the first six months of going veg, I cut out all meat, including seafood. Since I felt great and wasn’t craving meat in the least bit, I felt confident my protein intake was sufficient to sustain my active lifestyle. That said, I would be lying if I claimed I didn’t miss a salmon fillet every now and again.

As a bit of a back-story, I didn’t go vegetarian for ethical reasons. Growing up in the heart of farm country, I don’t believe eating meat is wrong (although I do see some serious issues in the way meat is raised in some commercial situations).  I chose to go vegetarian out of curiosity, and stuck with being veg because of how much science there is backing the benefits of eating a plant-based whole foods diet.

About a year ago, I decided to experiment with adding a bit of fish into my diet. Since I struggled for so long to get my family to understand my vegetarianism, I didn’t want to let others in on my decision. It seemed very personal and something I didn’t have figured out yet. What does this mean? Am I going to eat fish frequently? How am I supposed to describe my choice to others?

But after a year of thinking it through, I am more comfortable in my choice. I believe that my diet can be even healthier with the addition of a small piece of fish every now and again. I found this article about Omega-3 in fish extremely helpful in guiding my decision. That said, there are a few rules I try to stick to when eating fish:

1. Eating wild fish that was harvested using sustainable fishing practices. This means the fish we buy is pretty expensive, but since we only eat it once or twice a month, it works. (the Monterey Bay Aquarium has awesome downloadable guides by geographic area on what types of fish to buy and what types to steer clear of.)
2. Limiting my fish intake to 1 or 2 times a month. I know that plenty of research suggests eating fish more often than that, but a couple times feels right for my body. 

Although I know I don’t owe anyone an explanation, I felt like I wanted to keep you in the loop. Since we try to find unique ways to eat our fish, like this Honey Graham Salmon, I wanted to be able to share recipes and my tasting notes along the way.

This recipe, in particular, was a real winner. I’m not sure how something as childish as Honey Grahams cereal can take a beautiful piece of salmon and make it rich and complex, but it does! Joey and I were both shocked at how great the flavor was and how kid-friendly it would be for little eaters. And if you’re still skeptical, I would highly recommend giving it a try!

Honey Graham Salmon
Ingredients
*1/2 teaspoon olive oil 
*3/4 cup Honey Grahams cereal, finely crushed
*Scant pinch of ground ginger
*1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*3 or 4 skinless salmon filets (5 ounces each)

Insturctions
*Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a large baking pan with foil. Grease the foil with the olive oil.
*In a large shallow bowl, combine the crushed cereal, ginger, sea salt and black pepper. Dip salmon filets in the honey graham mixture to coat on all sides. Transfer to prepared baking pan.
*Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve atop lettuce or with steamed green beans.

Happy Baking!

Madison

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