flirting with vegan sweets

Don't get me wrong, I love butter and eggs as much as the next girl, but when I saw this vegan recipe for almond jam thumbrints I couldn't help but be curious. I've been looking for a linzer-like cookie recipe for awhile (Jon? Are you listening? Where's that excellent xmas cookie recipe of your mom's you made?!! Still waiting! ;) and this one intrigued me.

Plus? They sound healthy! Bonus, no? No refined white sugar (you use apple juice and maple syrup), oat and barley or whole wheat flour, and chock full o' nuts.

This recipe was also dead easy. A two bowl-er and clean up was no sweat.

I ran out of raspberry so decided to make a full palette of delicious fruit flavors.

Not quite a 'thumbprint' per se but it gets the job done.

Aaaalmost ready. Best part is...the dough can be eaten worry free!

Almond Jam Thumbprint Cookies (originally posted on
- 2 1/2c. raw whole almonds
- 1 1/2c. oat flour
- 1 c. barley or whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 t. baking soda
- 1/2 t. fine sea salt
- 1 c. pure maple syrup
- 1/4 c. apple juice
- 1/4 c. canola oil
- 1 t. almond extract *
- fruit preserves of your choice

1. Preheat oven to 325F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Whiz almonds in a food processor until fine, leave some chunky bits for texture.
3. Mix dry ingredients in medium large bowl
4. Whisk maple syrup, apple juice, oil and extract in a smaller bowl.
5. Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring to combine well.
6. Wet hands (as often as needed!) to roll dough into ping pong sized cookie balls.
7. Use the back of a wooden spoon to create a well for the jam, be careful not to poke thru the bottom.
8. Pipe jam into cookie wells. I used ziplock bags with the corners cut off.
9. Bake 25 minutes, remove cookie sheets to cookie rack, cool and enjoy!

WARNING!!! Do NOT nibble these until the jam has completely cooled or YOU WILL BE SORRY!!!! Don't say I didn't warn you ;)

* original recipe called for 2 tsps of extract but I don't like a heavily fake almond flavoring


You know it's summer when....

- Going outside is like stepping directly into a steam bath and you begin to 'glisten'
- Art shows and summer storms are inevitable (just got back from the Midsummer Festival for the Arts in Sheboygan WI)
- It's so hot you don't want to eat. Even ice cream makes you think twice
- Straws make everything better, ie - more festive
- Stone fruits are FINALLY in season!

I just whipped up a pitcher of roasted peach lemonade - aka - the lemonade so nice I had to make it twice (in the same week)!

I stumbled across this recipe a little while back and pinned it to go back to later. I am SO glad I did. The cousins loved it and that was made with some seriously unripe peaches. Fresh lemonade is always a treat but adding the rich buttery flavor of roasted peaches makes it truly something special. The lovely color, the fuzzy velvet jackets slipping off of the warm peach flesh, the complex scent and flavor. Hands down a winner. Right up there next to Madame Claudia's Strawberry Vanilla Lemonade.

As fuzzi-mom and I were leaving town my aunt tipped us off to a truck full of peaches. Seriously. There's a company (Tree Ripe) that trucks up fresh peaches and citrus directly from the South and sells them in various parking lots primarily in WI and IL. Milwaukee's Menards just happens to host such a truck. We split a 25lb box of peaches because...

1 - there was no more room in my car!

(packing for my show in sheboygan, not totally loaded yet, lucky decides he's going too!)

2 - it was soooo hot that we were worried the peaches might die before we got them home

They are amazing! The ones we've been getting at the grocery stores have been a little lackluster and tasteless this year. Kinda wishing we had bought a whole box. I've never made a peach pie but these little babies are inspiration enough! Or, it may be time to make a batch of Late Summer Cupcakes again....hmmmm...mmmmmmm.

Roasted Peach Lemonade
(original post here) - I've done a little tweaking to taste, as can you - we like our 'nectar-like'

4 lemons or ~ 1c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (and pulp!)
1/2 c. + 1 T. sugar
6 c. water (or water and ice if serving immediately)
4 peaches

- Preheat your oven to 400F
- Halve the peaches and remove stones
- Lie the peach halves skin side down on a baking sheet and sprinkle tops with 1T. sugar
- Roast peaches ~25 min., remove, then let cool.
- While peaches are roasting prepare your lemonade (squish lemons, mix with sugar and water)
- After your peaches have cooled a bit, peel the skin off and process in a blender with ~1c. of the lemonade.
- Mix lemonade and peach mixture together, add ice if desired, sip and enjoy!


12 for me, none for you!

And so it begins. The holiday that's full of eggs, matzo, and more eggs. Yes, folks, it's Passover time again. The first seder was last night and full of fantastic traditional foods - the brisket, the fried matzo, the charoset, etc. I had hoped to try out a new recipe involving berries, chocolate sponge cake and marscapone (yum!) but a few hours before I re-read the recipe and noticed it said make 24 hrs in advance (oops!) So there was matzo crack :D and a passover apricot bar. Today was a chance to try something new...flourless fudgy chocolate walnut cookies, totally Passover friendly. And they are suuuuper delish. This is going to be a year round favorite, I can tell.

This recipe from food& is perfection as is. I usually feel a need to tamper with a recipe but I really enjoyed this from the get go. I might be uber decadent and throw in some chocolate bits next time. This is a perfect chewy browniesque dessert bite, enjoy!

  • 2 3/4 cups walnut halves (9 ounces)
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Position 2 racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Spread the walnut halves on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes, until they are golden and fragrant. Let cool slightly, then transfer the walnut halves to a work surface and finely chop them.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar with the cocoa powder and salt. Whisk in the chopped walnuts. Add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (be careful not to overbeat or it will stiffen). Spoon the batter onto the baking sheets in 12 evenly spaced mounds.
  • Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes, until the tops of the cookies are glossy and lightly cracked and feel firm to the touch; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through.
  • Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks to cool completely before serving.
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Full Metal Jacket Potato Soup

In hindsight I wish I had plated this better, but I was too hungry to consider hunting for a pretty bowl ;-p This loaded baked potato soup is the perfect antidote to a winter day. This recipe is full bodied and delicious. I think I'd tweak it a bit in the future but give it a whirl this way - check out the original recipe here at Smitten Kitchen.

Baked Potato Soup
Serves 6

1 head garlic
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and chopped small
5 to 6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used 5 cups; add the extra cup after pureeing if you’d like a thinner soup)
2 bay leaves
Table salt
2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup sour cream
Ground black pepper

- Rinse the head of garlic to remove any outside grit or dirt. Cut the top third off the head and peel any loose papery skins off the bottom two-thirds. Pop out a bunch of the garlic clove tips and mince them.

- In a large, heavy pot melt the butter over medium heat. Add leeks and cook them until soft (but not brown), about 5 minutes.

- Add the minced garlic and cook another minute. Add the larger part of the garlic head (whole, not chopped), broth, bay leaves and 3/4 teaspoon salt.

- Reduce heat and simmer until garlic is very tender when pierced with tip of knife, 30 to 40 minutes.

- Add potatoes and continue to simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

- Discard bay leaves. Remove garlic heads. Add sour cream to soup and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper to taste.

- (ugly fruit suggestion - remove some chunks of potato, then blend remainder, then add potatoes again) Using immersion blender, process soup until chunky-creamy, leaving lots of potato texture intact. (Alternatively, transfer a portion of the potatoes and broth to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.)

- Serve with whatever makes you happy on top, or nothing at all. Suggestions - shredded cheddar, fake-o's, sour cream, chives, etc.


Tofu or Not Tofu...*

This recipe is too good not to share. It appeared in my inbox awhile back from Chow and it's been my favorite go to veggie recipe ever since. I admit I'm pretty new to tofu and this is the best kind - chewy/crispy on the outside, squishy on the inside. I prefer to barely cook the peapods so they stay fresh. The sauce is amazing - spicy, sweetish from the mirin, savory from the garlic and shallots. Hope you enjoy it too.

Spicy Peapod & Sesame Tofu Stirfry

- 1/4c. soy sauce
- 2T. mirin or dry sherry
- 1T. sugar
- 2t. cornstarch
- 1t. rice vinegar
- 3/4t. red chile flakes
- approx. 2T. oil or more (to fry with)
- 1lb. firm tofu, patted dry, cut into big cubes
- 3 medium shallots, thinly sliced
- 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1lb. peapods, ends cut off
- 1T. white sesame seeds

1. Whisk together first 6 ingredients, set aside.
2. Heat oil over high til it smokes, add tofu, cook on each side until brown ~3 min. Remove to plate and set aside
3. Reduce heat to medium (change oil if necessary. I like to add a little sesame seed oil). Cook shallots and garlic til brown. Add peapods and seeds - cook til done.
4. Add tofu and sauce, cook until thickened (you can add more water if you like it 'saucier'). Serve immediately over steamed rice.

Serves about 4

*sorry billy s., but it was too good to pass up ;)


Dread Bitter Pine Nut Syndrome

LinkAaaarghhh! So I've had this nasty bitter taste in my mouth for the past several days. No matter what I eat, no matter how many times I brush/Scope, it's there. Ruining meals and snacks alike. I finally decided to google my symptoms and make sure I didn't have some unusual and deadly disease. The first several listings all pointed to pine nuts as the culprits. Not just any pine nuts....specifically pine nuts from China. I just rushed into the kitchen to check out the country of origin on my Melissa's pine nuts...lo and behold...Cina. Drat. Most of the sites say this phenomenon lasts anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. I think Melissa's might be getting a phone call....

Pine Nuts Left a Bitter Taste in My Mouth
Beware of Pine Nuts from China
Bitter Taste After Eating for Days - Caused by Pine Nuts?
Pine Nut Syndrome


ICM's Winter Wonderland

Ice cream in the snow? Yes, please. This past week was eggnog ice cream at Goldie's in Prairie City, Iowa. You can see my previous post about Goldie's here. The eggnog was phenomenal. The fuzzi-'rents and I stopped there last week on they way to pick up Lucky from doggy daycare in Runnells. It was so good I finished the whole thing (hence the less than gorgeous photo of the above ice cream phone).

In fact, it was sooooo good that we went back for a full 1/2 gallon of it the next day. I had gotten a holiday thank you from Goldie's for being on their mailing list and used it towards the half gallon. I was wondering if the soft serve would lose something in translation when frozen solid. But by dog! It was just as good. There's still most of it left...but not for long. Mwhahahaha!

Rockin' the Soups

This has been an awesome week for soup. I have been ON! and no clue why ;) The first one was the best batch of tortilla soup I've made to date. Recipe to come. The second was a Zesty Vegetarian Tomato Soup, served with a nice chicken caeser salad.

Disclaimer...I never really cared for tomato soup. My parents always used to have it when they made grilled cheese for the family. I seem to remember some friends in college dipping their sandwiches in ketchup. And it was good. So next time I was home I decided not to pass on the Campbell's tomato soup. And I enjoyed it. Then I discovered tomato basil bisque while in Switzerland. Swooon. And Amy's organic chunky tomato bisque when I returned home to the US.

I've tried a few attempts at tomato soup deliciousness and have been not so impressed. But the recipe I hacked this week was ALL THAT AND A BOWL OF SOUP! I'm even throwing in my bonus parmesan wafers. They look impressive, are super easy and really add some oomph to any tomato soup. Enjoy and let me know what you think.

Zesty Vegetarian Tomato Soup
yield enough for 3 medium to good sized bowls

1 - 28oz. can whole tomatoes
~1 T. tomato paste
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 - 1 clove of a shallot, minced
1 T. butter + olive oil
1 - 14.5oz can veggie stock
red wine
basil leaf
cayenne pepper

Sweat onions, shallots and garlic in butter/oil mix til clear. Add tomato paste. Deglaze pan w/ vodka and reduce. Add can of tomatoes including the juice and veggie stock. Add a glug of red wine, basil and cayenne pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes. Cool, blend to desired consistency. Return to pot, heat and serve with parmesan wafers.

Parmesan Wafers
makes 8

1.5 c. coarsely grated parmesano reggiano (4 - 5 oz.)
1 T. flour

Put rack in middle of the oven preheat to 350F. Line baking sheet with non-stick paper. Make 4 mounds (about 3 T. each) and spread until they are 4-5" rounds. Bake until golden - about 10 minutes. Cool on the sheet for 2 minutes then transfer to wire rack using a wide spatula. Repeat. Can be made 2 days in advance and kept in airtight container at room temperature.

Cookie Cravings

Every once in awhile I get a craving for Subway's white chocolate chip chocolate cookie. Oh, heck. Who am I kidding? I often get cravings for many different types of cookies. But the Subway one is a killer.....I can't often find them at my local sandwich I decided to try and make my own.

After copious internet searching (2 minutes on google) I found out that most of Subway's (and many other restaurants) cookies are made by Otis Spunkmeyer. I found a 'copycat' recipe for my beloved cookies. I tried the recipe as is (except only made a half recipe just in case they turned out truly heinous...and added some regular chocolate chips as well. I just can't help tinkering!!!) and will try to tweak it a bit next time. It might also be helpful to have real deal cookie near by for a blind tasting. According to my tastebuds these cookies were a little overly sweet, maybe I'll use salted butter next time, less sugar or a bit more salt. The texture seemed ok. We'll see how they hold up over the next day or so.

Almost Subway's White Chocolate Chip Chocolate Cookie Recipe
yield 1 and 1/2 dozen cookies

1 c. butter, softened
2 c. white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. flour
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. white chocolate chips
2/3 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F (175C)

In a large bowl cream butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract.

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a different bowl. Stir into the butter/sugar mixture.

Fold in chocolate chips and drop by rounded teaspoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 - 10 minutes (I left them in the full 10 minutes) until set. Allow to cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes then move cookies onto a wire rack to cool completely.