Cookbook Review

Cookbook Review: Everyday Vegan Eats

I haven’t done any cookbook reviews lately, partly because I haven’t tried enough from any one cookbook to do it justice! But, Cadry’s Kitchen is having a giveaway of Everyday Vegan Eats, by Zsu Dever, and since I tested for this cookbook, I have tried a goodly number of the recipes in it (mostly different ones from the ones Cadry spotlighted! So, here goes. (Sorry that all the pics are lousy iPod pics. For some reason I either didn’t take any with my good camera, or they are hiding really well!)

Savoury Broth Mix: I have a mock chicken seasoning I make regularly that’s good enough, but I really liked this one for something with a little more depth and punch to it. It’s a good one to have made up and ready to go.

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Salsa Fresca: I’m a huge fan of fresh salsa and I really liked this. I particularly liked that it calls for no vinegar, which doesn’t sit well with me! It uses lime juice instead and it’s very simple to throw together.

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Timeless Tomato Sauce: Delicious! It has a secret ingredient that I would never have thought to stick in tomato sauce, but it was a great addition.

Tender Soy Curls: I made these once during testing to use in one of the tester recipes but I’ve also made it since then as a substitute for ground turkey in chili. Honestly I’m not the biggest fan of soy curls, but they tasted fine.

Bacon Tofu: This is the simplest, tastiest tofu bacon recipe EVER. It calls for 3 ingredients besides the tofu and it was fantastic. This has become my standard bacon. (For the record, it doesn’t work so well with tempeh. I tried.)

Comforting Noodle Soup: The flavour of this was awesome and it was a big hit with our Friday night group (despite the fact that I left the noodles in waaaaayyy too long and they had soaked up most of the broth. Oops.) In fact, it sounds really yummy to me right now being sick. Maybe I’ll make some for lunch today!

Chipotle Chili: Very tasty! I made this to try on its own as well as incorporated into the Chili Mac recipe. I liked the Chili Mac best but both were good.

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Mama’s Hungarian Bean Soup: I loved this one!

German Potato Salad: I didn’t officially test this one but I did make it on my own anyway. It was fabulous hot or cold.

Seven-Layer Tex-Mex Salad: This was delicious and colourful. Our Friday night group liked it!

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Meatless Pies in Buttermilk Herb Biscuits: This was the recipe I made the Tender Soy Curls for. I really liked these. They were a little time-consuming but not in a difficult way, just required some planning ahead.

Hungarian March of the Grenadiers: This is a potato dish that was so delicious there are no words. It uses the Hungarian Paprika Potatoes (separate recipe) and mashes them and serves them with pasta. Potatoes + Pasta = Always a win.

Whole Grain Rice Pilaf: I loved this so much. It is definitely one of the best pilafs I’ve tried. So many just fall short.

Mediterranean Quinoa with Fresh Herbs: I really liked this. It’s supposed to be eaten warm, but I made it as a cold salad and it was very tasty that way too!

Refried Beans with Tomatoes: These were so simple and so yummy.

Classic-Style Benedict: I’ve never had Eggs Benedict, but this was a mighty tasty (if also mighty rich) dish. Not something I would make on a regular basis, but definitely a yummy treat.

Fudge Brownies: These called for mashed bananas. Not being a fan of bananas, I made them anyway because it was such a small amount of banana! Both I and my friend’s bananaphobe daughter could still taste the banana. I still ate them though she didn’t want anything more to do with them. The banana flavour does intensify the next day, at which point I didn’t want any more to do with them either. But, the texture was really nice and everyone else aside from us two really liked them!

Caramel Sauce: Another recipe I’ve made multiple times since testing! I’m still struggling to get it right, because there are so many variables with candy making. Too hot? Too long? Sometimes it comes out like toffee and one time I actually got it slightly saucy. Any way it comes out, it still tastes good! I’ve used it in cookies, vegan ice cream, and other things.

Chocolate Chip Cookies: These taste like cookies from childhood. My favourite chocolate chip recipe is from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, but if you’re going for a more traditional texture and flavour, you would definitely want these.

Carrot Cake: I didn’t officially test this one either but I have made it. It was very good!

Blueberry Scones: DELISH.

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Soft Pretzels: I made the sweet cinnamon variation and they were all eaten up very, very quickly!

Are you hungry yet? Head over to Cadry’s Kitchen to enter the giveaway!

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Cookbook Review: More Peas, Thank You

I got this book free via the Amazon Vine program. I had heard of the Peas and Thank You blog from a friend, but had never visited it, and really my only thought was, “Hey, free cookbook, and it’s already vegan.”

It arrived and immediately I fell in love. I have never gotten a cookbook and been so fixated on trying recipe after recipe. What’s the appeal?

Well, firstly, she uses ingredients that are readily available, and that I generally have on hand. The recipes are also pretty healthy, with lots of use of whole wheat flour and cutting back on fats, even in the desserts.

Secondly, the book is really colourful with pictures of almost every single recipe. I find food photography stimulating in a cookbook.

So, what have I tried from this cookbook? Here’s the rundown.

Breakfast Category:

Strawberry Multigrain Cereal Bars: I’ve tried several different variants of this concept now from different sources: press in a crust, spread on jam, crumble remaining crust on top. The one I grew up with is still my favourite. However, this one has considerably less fat and sugar in it. It was really good and GooGoo loved it too.

Oatmeal Cookie Granola: Very good. I can’t say that “oatmeal cookie” was really my first thought, though, probably because of the abundance of (tasty) roasty almonds. However, I enjoyed it.

PB&J Smoothies: Interesting. GooGoo wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole after the first taste. As it ends up, I fail at reading directions and it said not to add the salt if using salted peanut butter, and so we ended up with a sort of salty smoothie. At any rate, not in a big hurry to try this one again.

Tempeh Bacon: I just heart vegan bacon. Usually I do the gluten bacon bits, but this was super yum. I made French toast to eat with it.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins: I only had enough cream cheese to do half a batch with the cream cheese topping. So we had 6 plain ones and six with the filling, and I guess I actually liked the plain ones better. I couldn’t really taste the cream cheese and it was extremely sticky and messy. I think were I to make these again I’d just do it without the cream cheese, and reduce the nutmeg a touch as well. They tasted loads better when my friend made them, but she said she added a little oil.

Cherry Oat Scones

Cherry Oat Scones

Cherry Oat Scones: These were AMAZING. We snarfed them all up very quickly for supper. I made a double batch the second time and they all disappeared into our tummies except for two.

Peach Cornmeal Muffins: These probably would have been pretty good except that I decided to use my new-to-me muffin tin from the thrift store. I HAD washed it, but apparently not thoroughly enough, because the oven, the house, yea verily the muffins themselves, were all infused with this absolutely vile scent and taste of STALE USED MUFFIN TIN.

Sometime I’ll have to try it again sans stale used muffin tin.

Pineapple Upside-Down Muffins

Pineapple Upside-Down Muffins

Pineapple Upside-Down Muffins: Mmm. I lack a jumbo muffin tin, so I went to the opposite end of the spectrum and made this as mini muffins. I cut pineapple slices into eighths, so I needed 3 slices to fill 24 muffin cups, and I topped with maraschino cherries chopped into eighths as well. Delectable.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls: I wouldn’t say these are “to die for”. We found them a bit dry. I really want to try adapting my own cinnamon roll recipe with the same spices and pumpkin, though.

Snacks, Sides, and Sauces:

Pizza Popcorn: I think this is the only recipe I’ve actually just plain not liked. I’m pretty sure it has to do with my iffy relationship with nooch, and I think were I to do it again I’d use almond parmesan instead of straight nooch for the cheesy flavour. And probably not bother baking it.

Then again, Mr Pine Nut has a very happy relationship with nooch, and he didn’t like it either.

Cocoanut Rice: This had promise, but something seems amiss in the directions. I felt like it needed more liquid and longer cooking time. I don’t know if regular brown rice is drastically different from jasmine brown rice? Anyway, it was still really chewy after cooking for the designated time and I’m going to have to add more liquid and cook what was leftover some more to be really edible.

Cracklin’ Cauliflower: I love curry tremendously… but these were a little too spicy for me and therefore definitely not something either Mr Pine Nut or GooGoo cared for. But I liked the texture of the roasted cauliflower (roasting veggies is kind of a new thing to me) and I think with slightly less spice I’d enjoy it more.

Soups, Salads, and Sandwiches:

Tofu Noodle Soup

Tofu Noodle Soup

Tofu Noodle Soup: I realised as I was making this that it’s supposed to be like Chicken Noodle Soup, except, well, tofu. It was good. It calls for cubed baked tofu but no instructions for how to bake tofu, and I hadn’t time to look it up, so I cubed it up and threw it in the oven at 350 and turned it once and it got this awesome texture. Next time, though, I’ll marinate it in some salt/mock chicken seasoning first, because the flavourless-ness was a little much. But otherwise, the soup was fantastic.

Green and White Bean Chili: I made this for company. I did a double batch and used 1 jar of Herdez salsa verde because I was in a hurry and fresh out of tomatillos. That’s less than a doubled batch would actually have called for (I think, I can’t do math), and it was pretty hot. None of the kids were really fond of it based on how much got left in their bowls. I liked it, though. It’s possible that the Salsa Verde recipe in the book isn’t nearly as hot as the Herdez stuff. One of these days I’ll try it – soon, I hope, because I love green salsa.

Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy Caviar: We ate this over baked potatoes, and it was super yummy. (I subbed lemon juice for the vinegar as per my usual.) I also made it with garbanzo beans once – delish.

Even the cat approved of Cowboy Caviar.

Even the cat approved of Cowboy Caviar.

Dinners:

Tempeh Tamale Pie

Tempeh Tamale Pie

Tempeh Tamale Pie: This was a little iffy in my book. I’m not sure if my cornmeal was bad, or what it was, but it tasted really off to me. My friend made it and liked it a lot. So who knows. It was really pretty, though, and my first attempt at a tamale pie that actually has the cornbread on the top.

Roasted Chickpea Tacos: Yum and a hit with the company to whom I served them.

Black-eyed Pea Patties

Black-eyed Pea Veggie Burgers

Black-eyed Pea Veggie Burgers: As I was perusing this book on receipt of it, I noticed a few of the recipes called for black-eyed peas. As luck would have it, we had none in the house either canned or dried, but our local Thriftway happened to have cans of them for 69 cents a piece in their discard carts.

Desserts:

Pumpkin Gingersnap Cookie Dough Balls: Turned out nothing like the ones in the picture, although they tasted pretty good. Mine came out very very flat.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: These also came out really flat and rather fragile, but OH were they tasty. I did half raisins, half chocolate chips.

Apple Cider Doughnuts: I don’t have a doughnut pan, so I did it in mini muffin pans. When I tasted one still warm from the oven I was not impressed. They tasted really weird to me, like I’d accidentally put in too much of one of the spices, and I was bummed. But then after they were cool I tried them again and they were really awesome. So I don’t know what was up with that, but at any rate, I will definitely make these again.

Blueberry Doughnuts: These are interesting because the blueberries get blended up, so there’s no worry about blueberries sticking to the pan. Very tasty and a hit with all three of us. Well, four, if you count Lou Who trying to get to them, even though she’s still too little for muffins.

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In summation: I really like this cookbook, and I’m looking forward to trying more of the recipes out of it. I highly recommend it as an introduction to meatless cuisine. If you’d like to get a copy for yourself (and you really should!) there is both a paperback version and a kindle version.

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Cookbook Review: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

I have to admit, it’s been really hard to actually make anything out of this cookbook.

Christmas of 2011 I asked Mr Pine Nut to get me the three dessert books by Moskowitz and Romero. He obliged me, but sadly the timing was wrong. Early pregnancy had rendered me absolutely unable to tolerate eating sweets (they all tasted like sawdust, except for chocolate candy and dairy ice cream). Merely looking through this cookbook actually made my stomach turn, so it kind of got put on the shelf and ignored until a few months later I was able to handle it again. Even so I generally found it was pie or cookies I wanted and I just didn’t get around to using this one.

That doesn’t take into account, either, that my husband just really isn’t that into cake, and the last thing I need is to, oh, eat 11 cupcakes all by my onesie (I’m sure I would share at least one with GooGoo).

But, since I’ve reviewed the other two books, I decided I really should review this one too. I’d find some excuse to make cake.

Vanilla Cupcake

Vanilla Cupcake with Chocolate Buttercream

I did the Golden Vanilla cupcakes (with margarine) and also the Really Golden variation with the turmeric (with oil). The Golden Vanilla were okay; I am very much a yellow cake person, so the Really Golden variation appealed to me more even though it’s only psychological that they taste different (because they really don’t).

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Your Basic Chocolate Cupcake

Your Basic Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Light and fluffy and amazing; used chocolate buttercream recipe (which, incidentally, was enough to frost about 2.5 dozen).

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Pineapple Right-Side Up Cake

Pineapple Right-Side Up Cake

This was the first cake I personally made out of this book.

28th of August. I wake up and realise it’s my cat’s birthday, and I’d forgotten all about it.

He couldn’t care less about cake, I’m pretty sure, but it’s a birthday, and a birthday is a great time to make a cake. So I paged through the book to see what recipe I had stuff for and found this one. The only thing I had to go buy was pineapple, so it wouldn’t cost us a lot to make.

Didn’t actually make it on his birthday, since it was irrelevant to him, but I made it that weekend when we had company. I didn’t really get any feedback from the guests; my husband liked it and so did I.

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For GooGoo’s third birthday I did two layers: one was the chocolate Gluten Freedom recipe and the other was the vanilla Gluten Freedom recipe (with corn flour option). I flavoured both with mint and tinted the vanilla one green.

The chocolate layer I really liked – great flavour and texture. The vanilla layer seemed too much like cornbread; next time I’ll try the almond flour option instead of corn flour and see if that helps any.

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Dulce Sin Leche Cupcakes: Delightful. (I ate these made by a friend.)

Lychee Cupcakes: Good. The jury is out on the lychees, which although they tasted good, just look kind of strange. (I also ate these made by a friend.)

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Super Natural Agave Icing: I LOVE this icing. It has a marshmallow creme-y texture and flavour that makes it perfect for sandwiching between graham crackers with melted chocolate. It is also good for a shiny, glazy frosting. (But don’t try to decorate with buttercream on top of it, because that doesn’t work so well. Trust me.)

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Here’s my main problem with this book: a lot of the recipes call for nondairy yogurt. I don’t have easy access to nondairy yogurt (or generally the money to splurge on nondairy yogurt). I haven’t been able to try the majority of these recipes for that reason.

Aside from that, there are a lot of fantastic cupcake ideas in here that I really hope I can try some day. I wish I had been able to do a wider variety before writing this post, but I’ll write another post in the future when I’ve had a chance to bake more.

If you’re interested in ordering this book, here’s a link to Amazon.

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Cookbook Review: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

This is the second installment in the dessert trilogy by Isa Chandra Moskowitz of Post Punk Kitchen and Terry Hope Romero. I have spent a lot of time drooling over the pages and dreaming of the tasty cookies I could make. GooGoo likes looking at it, too.

Here is a sum-up of all the recipes I’ve tried so far. Note: You will notice the numbers are not sequential; this is because I have not made ALL the cookies in the book yet! 🙂

1. Chocolate Chip Cookies – The dough was amazing, but cookie dough generally is. I found the batter to be way too runny and had to add another 1/2 cup of flour to be able to pick it up and shape it. The cookies were very tender, a little bit on the cakey side in texture. My husband thought they were all right but a little lacking in flavour. I liked them, but I think I still like the veganised classic Toll House recipe best. I also thought that the addition of walnuts would be nice, because to me a chocolate chip cookie just isn’t itself without walnuts.

According to another poster on the PPK forums, reducing the oil to 1/2 cup makes the consistency perfect without having to add more flour.

[Edit on 13 March 2014: the abovementioned hack does indeed work, the texture is perfect, and this recipe has now become my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe!]

[Edit on 6 March 2015: these are really awesome with dried tart cherries mixed in, and some of the milk subbed with juice drained off a can of cherries.]

Carrot Raisin Spice Chewies

2. Carrot-Raisin Spice Chewies – I’d wanted to make these from the get-go, but was always missing something. Finally I got around to them. My husband expressed approval, which is a very good sign. I wasn’t quite as excited about them as I had thought I might be; I was expecting a flavour more like carrot cake, and this was nothing like carrot cake.

3. Chocolate Fudgy Oatmeal Cookies – These are easily my favourite that I’ve made out of this book so far. Chocolatey, oaty, the zing of dried cherries? Cannot fail. The dough was amazingly good and a really good consistency – I found that letting it sit 10-15 minutes helped it stiffen up a little which helped to drop the cookies a little more easily, but even freshly mixed it was manageable.

I did change a few things. I didn’t have chocolate chips, so those were missing (and while they’d be good, I found the cookie to be very satisfying without). I used approximately half whole-wheat/half white flour because I was almost out of white flour. For my non-dairy milk I used carob Rice Dream and for the cocoa powder I did half cocoa/half carob powder because I had some carob powder that I needed to use up.

[Edit on 13 March 2014: I have made these with the chocolate chips now! I still like them best without. I know, weird, right?]

4. Blackstrap Gingersnaps – I had been holding off on trying these because I didn’t have blackstrap molasses. I finally decided to just make them with regular, and these are INTENSE! In a really good way. It’s more of a grown-up gingersnap because the ginger flavour is so strong. But I like them and got a lot of compliments from friends who tried them.

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5. Chocolatey Crinkle Cookies – I waited way, WAY too long to try these. It was largely due to “do I really want to use precious chocolate chips in a recipe like this?” But it was so, SO worth it. These are delectable. Beautiful to look at. Just don’t over roll in the powdered sugar.

City Girl Snickerdoodles
6. City Girl Snickerdoodles – I don’t really care all that much for snickerdoodles, quite honestly, but for some reason one day I got the urge to make some. So I did. And they were… eh. The first tray was a little gooey, which I was not too concerned about since it’s an eggless recipe, but it still was just weird. By the time I got to the third and last tray I’d figured out exactly how long the oven really took to bake them thoroughly… so yeah. It was not that exciting of an experience and they came out very flat and wafery, and not particularly cinnamon-y like I thought they ought to be.

7. Cowboy Cookies – A huge hit. I rarely have pecans, but when I do have some, these cookies are one of the first things I’ll make with them!

8. Cowgirl CookiesAmazing. When I make these, I skip the chocolate chips and use cocoanut instead. Because, to me, those particular spices with chocolate chips are just… wrong. But with cocoanut? BRING THEM ON.

9. Sell Your Soul Pumpkin CookiesMy friend has made these. They were nice; not something I’m in a huge hurry to make myself.

12. Banana Everything CookiesMy grandma made us these. I am not a fan of banana and I couldn’t quit eating them. That, my friends, is a recommendation.

14. Tahini Lime CookiesTahini flavour super strong; lime flavour not strong enough. I wasn’t a big fan of these. Tahini is good, but not this much in a shot.

15. Cherry Almond CookiesI made these to take to a potluck and didn’t have time to take a picture. They were well-received and I thought they were good but just a touch on the salty side, which was odd to me because the amount of salt called for seemed normal.

[Update: I made these again, and they were not salty at all. So… I dunno, guys. They were yum.]

16. Peanut Apple Pretzel DropsI’ve been hanging on to some pretzels since our nonfire, and finally made these. They were all right; I’m not a huge fan of the sweet/salty combo that’s sorta The Thing these days, but these were all right. I took them to a potluck and those who liked them REALLY liked them.

17. Peanut Butter Oatmeal CookiesThese seemed a tad dry and the peanut bits wouldn’t stay put. They were good, but not great.

18. Citrus GlittersBasically the same recipe as the Tahini Lime Cookies, but these ones were all the Tahini Lime Cookies were not. Tender, tangy, and sweet. Would definitely make again.

oatmeal raisin cookies

20. Oatmeal Raisin CookiesTender goodness. This was my first time making cookies with an oil rather than a solid fat, so the process was new to me, but the results were Most Tasty. Then again, I just love oatmeal raisin cookies and it’s hard to go wrong with them, I’ve found. The second time I made them, I used 1/2 cup white and 1/4 cup wheat flour, and the results were very nice.

22. Rocky RoadsMade my a friend, not me. I thought the almond extract was really overpowering. It was all I could taste. Sooo… these are probably fantastic, but I’m not a big user of almond extract. I don’t even have any. I look forward to trying them myself without.

Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles
26. Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles – I was squeamish about these, quite honestly. Chocolate and cinnamon is pushing my taste combination limits, but to throw cayenne in there too? Ack. Yet I really, really was curious and wanted to try them, so after I had a much braver friend (in another state) say she made them and loved them, I finally made a batch for our Friday night study group since the meal was to be baked burritos.

I was surprised. They were actually really good. The cinnamon is subtle, and the warmth of the cayenne doesn’t really hit you until afterwards, and it feels warm and glowy. (I should add I was still chicken enough that I only put in half the amount of cayenne, but I think next time I’ll probably do the full amount just to see how that tastes. Yes, I did say next time.) Mr Pine Nut walked in whilst I was baking them and he said they had a Very Strong Smell. He didn’t say whether that was good or bad. Ha! He didn’t get a chance to eat any of them. The fact that all the kids present ate them and some ate more than one is a pretty good indicator of a good cookie.

[Update on 2 Oct 2014: I’ve made these many times and they are always a hit!]

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29. 21st Century Carob Cookies – I’ve kind of got this thinly-veiled hostility towards carob, because I get sick to death of people preaching about how wonderful it is, how much better than chocolate it is, and how it should replace chocolate all the time. Well, it does NOT taste like chocolate, not even remotely, and actually I think it’s pretty gross.

As far as these cookies go, I actually quite liked the dough (I kept snitching it off my cookie sheet above) and the fresh cookies weren’t too bad. The next day, though – bleh. I could hardly stand them. Thankfully I had taken them to a potluck, where some avid carob people were in attendance and I didn’t have to bring any home. 🙂

30. Chocolate Agave TrailmixersI made these with walnuts, raisins, and chocolate chips. They were SO good. I loved the lightly sweet taste and the texture and everything about these cookies. I would totally make them again.

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32. Orange Agave Chocolate Chip Cookies – These are amazing. I’ve made them several times. I can feel good about snarfing down the entire batch in no time! They do tend to be a bit on the dry side, even if you get them in a container as soon as they’re cool. But they’re still good, and if you don’t want dry cookies, nom the dough.

33. Peanut Butter Agave Cookies – I made these for Mr Pine Nut as a Christmas present in 2014. He likes a filling, satisfying cookie that’s not full of sugar. These were quite loved by him. I don’t care for peanut butter cookies much, but they were good!

40. Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip CookiesMade by a friend. Very good.

44. Blueberry Spice Crumb BarsI was on the fence about these. They weren’t bad, but neither were they really that good. I guess I like my own version of this concept (press half the dough in a pan, spread fruit, crumble remaining dough on top – see here) so much better.

47. Magical Cocoanut Cookie Bars – These are super rich and absolutely delightful. They are also really tasty when sneaked out in large portions from the freezer. Shh.

48. Call Me BlondiesMade my a friend. Super yum with chocolate chips in! Not so fantastic without.

51. Spiced Sweet Potato BlondiesWhen I was pregnant with Lou Who, my husband was on a sweet potato kick and I was frequently to be seen blocking my nose with my blanket in bed to try to keep from smelling the things. I’ve never liked sweet potatoes, but ever since then I’ve really not liked them. Anyway, I decided that I was going to try these for a potluck, so that I could taste them and not be strapped with a whole pan if I hated them.

Surprisingly, these were actually quite tasty. I did them with walnuts and no chocolate chips. I would make them again.

55. In the Mint Chocolate BrowniesSO. GOOD.

56. Deluxe Cocoa BrowniesAlso made by my friend, these are DELICIOUS to the max. Since she made them, I’ve made them a number of times also!

62. Big Fat Crispy Rice Squares – I love rice krispy treats like you wouldn’t believe. They’re so unhealthy but they’re so addictive! I’ve been wanting to try this since getting the book, and finally I went and splurged on the needed brown rice syrup. I was so, so sadly let down by the results. The bars did not hold together, no matter how hard I pressed them into the pan. But worse was the taste. Brown rice syrup has a heavy taste, not unlike honey, and it was very overpowering. Nobody liked these. Not even my children liked these.

63. Peanut Butter Chocolate PillowsWell, once I could have peanut butter again, it didn’t take me long to try these. I was so disappointed that the chocolate cookie dough was more like brownie batter and the peanut filling balls were so firm. The result was these cookies that looked like… sunnyside-up eggs? hats? UFOs? They tasted good, but I don’t think I’ll make them again without some adjustments.

64. MinonosThese are a vegan knockoff of Milanos. They were pretty good, but I must have made mine too big, because I got 13 instead of 16 cookies in the end! I don’t think it’ll be one I’ll make a lot, but they weren’t really hard to do and would be fun to take to a gathering.

65. Cranberry Walnut Thumbprints – These didn’t look really exciting, but they were very tasty. The same general idea as the linzertorte thumbprints (below), but less hearty and more sweet.

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69. Sweet Chocolate Pretzels – These were charmingly pooplike in appearance, and they were just mediocre in taste.

74. Lazy SamoasI’ve waited a LONG time to make these, because they call for cocoanut oil, which I don’t always have on hand (and when I do, I am sparing with it), but I finally decided to give it a whirl, and am I glad I did. They were AMAZING.

76. Nutter Betters – were really lovely. I’m usually not hugely into peanut butter cookies. They’re good, but not my favourite. But one day I decided I reeeeeeeally wanted to try these, and so I did. I opted to make squirrel-shaped ones. (If you choose a special shape, remember to use a cookie cutter you can flip over to do mirror image cookies with for sandwiching!) I wouldn’t say they really taste like Nutter Butters all that much – not quite crispy enough, maybe? – but the flavour was good and the filling is not overly sweet, just immensely fattening. I would definitely make these again.

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83. Linzertorte Thumbprint Cookies – I made these and they were SO good. So filling and tasty, not overly sweet. My husband even readily approved of them. He likes dense, high-protein cookies that involve nut butters. I totally will make these again. Note, though, that the jam will begin bleeding into the cookie after a bit. They still taste great, but if you’re trying to impress, make them as soon as possible before they’re needed.

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86. Chocolate Chip Mint Leaf Icebox CookiesI’ve made these a couple times, and my only complaint is they seem to be very wafery and run together because the dough is very soft, even after being frozen. I’m still working on how to solve that problem. Flavourwise, though, they are grand, and I have been known to just keep the dough in the freezer and eat globs of raw dough, whilst my cat pretends he doesn’t care.

87. Frosted Grapefruit Icebox Cookies – I’m not a grapefruit fan, but I wanted to try these anyway! My mother-in-law likes grapefruit so I made them for her as a Christmas present. They were very grapefruity and intense, but they weren’t bad even for me. I would make these again with lemon, lime, or orange!

89. Gingerbread Biscotti – These were good fresh, but lost their appeal to me fairly quickly. I made them as Christmas gifts in 2014 and they were well-received, though!

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 6.11.23 PM

98. Kitchen Sink Chocolate BiscottiThis was AMAZING. For my add-ins, I used chocolate chips, dried cherries, and almonds. They were SO good. The kids weren’t too sure about them, but I was very sure. [I’ve gone on to make them again, with mint extract, crushed peppermint candies, and chocolate chips.]

92. Cranberry White Chocolate Biscotti – THIS WAS SO GOOD I COULD NOT STOP EATING THEM. I was seriously SO IMPRESSED. They strongly reminded me of a delicacy of some kind that I had growing up, but for the life of me I can’t place what. Some sort of storebought cookie or something, I expect.

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 7.15.32 PM

93. Key Lime Shortbread Rounds – Guys, I really like lime, and these cookies were delightful.

99. Graham CrackersVery nice. Of course I had to use my IKEA fox cookie cutter, because that’s how I roll. How I don’t roll is thin enough dough, so these were more cookielike than crackerlike in the centre, though the legs and tails of the foxes were nice and crispy crunchy. This was my first time using raw sugar, too, and I think the texture was a little affected. I like that these specifically call for whole wheat flour and part of the sweetener was molasses, so they’re reasonably healthy.

Also, the recipe makes a lovely pie crust for recipes like Optionally Pink Peppermint Pie. 🙂

100. Roll-and-Cut Sugar CookiesI made these for a swap I did for Valentine’s day, but the dough was SO soft even after long refrigeration that the best I could do was roll into balls. The flavour and texture was nice, but there is no way these could have been rolled out. Whether the fault is with me or the recipe I am not sure.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 6.15.18 PM

103. Gingerbread Cut-Out CookiesI was super happy with these! They held their shape really well through baking, something that my usual go-to gingerbread cookie recipe is hit and miss about. And the flavour was good. They did seem to get stale really quickly, though, whereas my usual recipe seems to stay fresher longer.

105. Swedish Chocolate BallsI was not super impressed with these. They were kind of dry. I don’t think I’ll make them again.

Cookie Dough Scoops

106. Cookie Dough Scoops – I don’t have a cookie scoop (boo), so I pressed this into a small Pyrex and cut them into cubes instead. They were Delicious. I think the only thing I’d change would be to reduce the vanilla just a touch; it overpowered the chocolate a bit, I thought. [Update: I now have a cookie scoop!]

***

If you’d like to try a couple recipes out of this book, Isa has shared a few on her site. Or you can buy yourself a copy here: Kindle or paperback.

Categories: Cookbook Review, dessert | Tags: | 2 Comments

Cookbook Review: Vegan Pie in the Sky

This is the most recent installment in the dessert trilogy by Isa Chandra Moskowitz of Post Punk Kitchen and Terry Hope Romero. I have all three books, but I have to say that this one has been used the most by me. I guess that I like pie. Also, there are more recipes in this book that call for things I usually have on hand or easy access to. Plus, my husband is far more likely to eat things from this book; he’s not into cookies or cake much at all.

There is LOTS of information in the book about how to succeed at making pies, with lots of tips, answering questions about thickeners like agar and cornstarch, how to use frozen fruit successfully in a pie, what kind of equipment you need, and more.

You might be saying to yourself, “But isn’t pie always vegan?” Generally, yes (unless you’re using lard in your crusts). But this book encompasses other desserts too – fruit buckles, pandowdies, hand pies, crisps, cobblers, and tarts – things that didn’t fit into either the cupcake or cookie realm.

So, without further ado, I’ll share my thoughts about all the recipes I’ve tried so far.

Double Butter Crust: This was an EXCELLENT crust and I was pleased with both flavour and texture. It was a little challenging to make without a pastry cutter (mine is in storage, boo!) and I did a double batch, but I somehow managed with a fork to get it all worked together. I used this crust for the following two pies:

Blackberry Bramble Pie

Blackberry Bramble Pie

Because we have blackberries growing profusely on our property and they are Free, this was a natural first choice for me to make out of this book. We had loads in the freezer! I blithely ignored Isa’s cautions about adding extra cornstarch to frozen fruit, however, and later regretted not heeding her voice of experience, because it was runny. But that was my own fault. It still tasted fantastic. (I also left out the liqueur, because I didn’t have any, just for the record.)

Appleberry Pie

Appleberry Pie

I did this with our own apples and blackberries, and again it was amazingly good. Both this pie and the Blackberry Bramble Pie got rave reviews from our Friday night small group.

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Maple-Kissed Blueberry Pie (Blueberry Thrill Pie not pictured)

I did the double buttery crust with 1.5 cups white flour/1 cup spelt flour for these two blueberry variations. I could really NOT tell much difference between these two pies, most likely because I didn’t have maple extract and the maple syrup wasn’t enough on its own to give the maple flavour. I also couldn’t put in the lemon zest because my coffee grinder has given up the ghost and I was unable to grind up my frozen lemon peelings, which made me sad. Also, despite upping the cornstarch as recommended this time for frozen fruit, it was still a tad runny. HOWEVER, they were still a big hit. My friend made the cocoanut milk ice cream you see pictured below to eat with the pie:

Amazingness on a paper plate.

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Summer Fruit Buckle: I did this for my birthday cake this year, and it was so, so delicious! I didn’t get a picture of it, unfortunately. It was best eaten the day of baking: fluffy, light, and doughnut-like (I think the cardamom is what makes it so delectably perfect!); afterwards it got kind of gooey from the fruit. It still tasted okay but the texture was just not the same. So I recommend making only a single recipe at a time unless you’re planning to feed quite a crowd.

(What is a buckle, you might ask? It’s cake batter with fruit dumped, er, carefully arranged on top. The cake part rises up around the fruit and it all… buckles.)

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Berry Cobbler: I used about 1.5 cups of blueberries, 2 slices of strawberry from my freezer (don’t ask why there were 2 slices in a bag in my freezer) and the remainder of the berries were fresh blackberries we picked. The only thing I didn’t do was use the chocolate chips because, tragically, I had none.

It was a bit runny when we ate it right out of the oven at lunchtime, but it set up by suppertime. The biscuit topping is really tasty – my new favourite, I think.

Next time, I think I might either decrease the amount of fruit or do one-and-a-half times the topping. I like my cobblers more bready, but that’s a personal thing, I think (I always increase the amount of crisp topping when I make fruit crisp, too). I should also add that through the second day the bread was still very nice (some cobblers get pretty soggy quickly).

*

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

I cheated and used a premade graham cracker crust when I did the Key Lime Pie (and just plain limes). It was amazingly good. I could have eaten it all the first day if my husband didn’t stop me! My daughter, who is two, also loved it. It stayed nice for about two days; after that the crust started to get a little soggy. And then I had to hurry and finish eating it before it got any worse.

Grasshopper Pie: I haven’t made this one myself but my friend did, and it was delicious!

If you’d like to try a couple recipes out of this book, Isa has shared a few on her site. Or buy yourself a copy for Kindle or in paperback.

Categories: Cookbook Review, dessert, vegan | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Cookbook Review: The Veg-Feasting Cookbook

Today I’m going to share a review for The Veg-Feasting Cookbook. The recipes in it are compiled by Vegetarians of Washington from restaurants and leading chefs in the Pacific Northwest.

I bought this book about a year ago, and while I have made only a handful of the recipes, all but one have been really good. The recipes tend a little more toward the exotic and expensive side as far as procedures and ingredients (this is chefs and restaurants, after all!), so I’d recommend this most for someone who has a well-stocked vegan kitchen where things like tahini are always around, some prior experience with cooking and a local source for things like chayote, jicama, lemongrass, or other unusual foods.

There are several informative chapters at the opening of the book: one about the wisdom and deliciousness of a vegetarian diet; one on the vegetarian scene in the Pacific NW; the four new food groups; and the vegetarian kitchen.

Recipes I’ve tried:

  • Granola: This was really yummy. It’s also a reasonably cheap granola to make, since it mostly consists of oats and other rolled grains, with only a small amount of almonds compared to a lot of other granola recipes. It’s not very sweet; I think it needs more sweetener, honestly. But with the raisins and lovely chocolate rice milk? Very pleasant indeed. I’ve made this several times.
Happy granola is happy.

Happy granola is happy.

  • Bodacious Breakfast Scramble: Honestly left me a little cold, though it looked so good on paper.
  • Persian Barley Bean Soup: This was excellent. It’s very thick and delicious. I’ve made it a couple times, once for potluck at church. I didn’t have coriander, so I put in chili powder, and I have left out the cilantro/mint when I didn’t happen to have it.
  • Tofu Piroshki: These were good, but didn’t wow me fresh out of the oven. I didn’t have cilantro and used parsley instead, and I think cilantro would have given it a nice zing. I guess I’m used to the meaty savoury-ness of the pirozhki I’ve made in the past, and I’d like to try to recreate that someday in vegan format. After I cooled them down and popped them in the microwave to rewarm them, they actually were much more interesting. How weird is that?
  • Yellow Split Pea Stew with Tofu and Roasted Potatoes: This was amazingness in a bowl the first time I made it. A lot of work, but totally worth it. The only thing I would do differently next time is not continue to cook the stew after stirring in the potatoes and tofu, because once the roasted potatoes have boiled even a little bit, they lose the roasty feel. The second time I made it I was less impressed, but I’m so picky during this pregnancy, I’m guessing that was the reason.
  • Orange Blackberry Cake: Decadent, absolutely amazing, a huge hit with our Bible study group and potluck. And absolutely gigantic. Next time I make this, I’m doing only 1/3 the recipe!
  • Vegan Carrot Cake: Super yummy, and I’m picky about my carrot cakes.

Pros:

  • Beautiful clean layout, and an excellent index that allows you to look up by food type (say tofu to find all recipes calling for tofu), type of cuisine, or restaurant/chef.

Cons:

  • No photos.

All in all I am really glad I have this book in my collection, because if I want to foray into something a little unusual I’m confident in the delicious factor of most of these recipes.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy, you can head over to Amazon.

Categories: Cookbook Review | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Cookbook Review – More Choices: Eat Well, Live Well

Today I’m going to share a review for More Choices: Eat Well, Live Well by Cheryl D. Thomas-Peters Ph.D and James A. Peters.

One of my friends gave me this cookbook back in the days when I was still only borderline interested in vegetarianism. It sat on the shelf for a long time, but in the last year and especially in the last few months I’ve taken to trying stuff from it and finding it a treasure trove of deliciousness.

Six recipes I’ve tried:

  • Breakfast Scones: Very tasty
  • Mexican Chili Burgers: Very good, although I felt they needed a little more salt.
  • Oven-Baked Mexi-Fries: Delicious! I’ve done many seasoning variations to go with different main dishes with this recipe as a base.
  • Italian Vegetable Soup: Yum!
  • Hearty Rice Skillet: Good.
  • Mexican Baked Potatoes with Bean and Corn Salsa: This was excellent and a big hit when I served it to our Friday night Bible study group.

Pros:

  • Lots of photos, a clean layout, and a decent index.
  • 12 lifestyle guidelines for better health including information on fresh air, avoiding refined foods, sleep, and other such things.
  • Lots of valuable information on calcium, iron, and the vegetarian diet.
  • Nutritional analysis in the back of the book for all the recipes.

Cons:

  • It’s not strictly vegan (if that’s a con), since it has the option of using eggs and milk OR the vegan substitutes.

This book is an excellent choice for:

  • Someone who’s still in the transitional period between traditional diet and healthier diet
  • Someone who’s undecided about being vegetarian, or just wanting to dip their toes in and see how it goes
  • Someone who simply wants some healthy recipes to improve diabetes, cholesterol, or another health issue

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy, you can head over to Amazon.

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Cookbook Review: Of These Ye May Freely Eat

I had the notion that it might be nice to do reviews of all the cookbooks I regularly use in my kitchen, so every few weeks or so I’ll probably highlight one for you. I’m going to start with the first all-vegan cookbook I ever had that I consider to be a staple now.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 4.24.57 PMIt’s a very small book: 96 pages. It has about 250 recipes in it, and most of them are extremely simple and call for very basic, easily accessible ingredients. It’s a great resource either for new vegans or people who aren’t yet very comfortable in the kitchen at all and need simple recipes to start with.

The author, Joanne Rachor, opens the book with her story of how she began her journey toward a healthier diet. Other helpful features of the book are bread baking/pizza making tips and information, how to make sprouts, how to dry a wide variety of foods including soups, camping/travelling tips, and miscellaneous other interesting diet facts and nutrition tidbits.

I have made nowhere nearly all the recipes in the book, but have enjoyed most of what I have tried. Some favourites of mine are the Soy Oat Waffle, Oat Crackers (I couldn’t quit eating those!), Basic Cheese Sauce (I use this all the time, and there are LOTS of variations to try!), Macaroni and Cheese, and White Sauce. Other recipes I’ve used as a springboard and adapted on the fly.

Oh. And one indispensable piece of equipment you’ll need for many of these recipes is a blender. Sometime I’d like to do a post about blenders, but I need to do some more research first.

My main complaint about the book is – no pictures. I like pictures. However, considering its cheapness and compact format (you really can’t beat the price, at $2.95), I’ve been able to make do without pictures.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy, you can get it through Amazon here.

You can also visit Joann Rachor’s YouTube channel here for some video recipes and tutorials.

Categories: Cookbook Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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