Monday, February 28, 2011

Banana Everything Cookies

About a year ago I acquired a most wonderful recipe for a cookie using up over ripe bananas. I need to keep better track of my sources so I could give credit where credit is due, but alas, back then, I did not keep track. I just wrote down recipes, tried them and then kept them or tossed them. This one I kept. When I first made this cookie I added walnuts and raisins to make a sort of trail mix cookie. While I loved them like that, my chocolate loving boyfriend would never touch raisins or nuts and so I began making one batch my way and one batch with chocolate chips. These cookies are serious winners either way, and if you decrease the sugar, I say they aren't that bad for you (no health claims are made here as I am not a dietitian or nutritionist). I have tons of pictures of the process for these cookies as I make them all the time. So, let's begin. You will need:

1 medium ripe banana
1/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup flour + 2 tbs if dough is too wet
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups oats

1 cup mix ins. For example, 1 cup chocolate chips or 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and 1/2 cup raisins but be creative. Anything you have on hand would work. And just about everything goes with chocolate, right?

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Perfectly ripe bananas.
I like to make the wet portion of this recipe in my food processor so that the bananas get really pureed. Some recipes call for hand mashing the bananas so that you have chunks, but I like it nice and smooth.
Banana and sugar
This is a sugar that I cannot remember the name of. I believe it is similar to, if it is not actually, sucanat. 
Add in vanilla and canola oil
And process
Meanwhile, whisk together your dry ingredients. Ooh, I wish I had a picture to show you my two favorite baking tools. If you've read many posts then you know I love my citrus press for cooking. For baking, I could not live without my whisk and my silicone spatula.
Oats & flour
Whisk it all toghether
Add your mix ins

These chocolate chips I used a few months ago were really too large for these cookies. This time I used regular sized and they worked much better. So, let's pretend these are regular sized chocolate chips.
Once everything is good and mixed, add in your wet. Oh, hey, there's my spatula. I love that thing. Can you propose to a spatula?
And apparently I have no pictures of the after mixed stage or the rolling stage. But here's how it goes down. I use a cookie sheet covered with a silpat (I used to use parchment paper) and I scoop out the dough using a cookies scoop. This works really well and the cookies turn out mostly the same shape and size. You could always use your hands and a spoon though.

Bake for 10 - 12 minutes and then let cool for a minute or two on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack. I have found that the trick to vegan cookies is usually to undercook them. This leaves them moist and chewy. Of course, I am probably biased since that is how I like my cookies. If you prefer a crunchy cookie, this recipe isn't the best place to start. And while I am on the topic of undercooked dough, don't forget to taste the dough as you are rolling out the cookies. It is quite delicious. Though it is not nearly as addicting as my go to chocolate chip cookie dough is. Or the dessert hummus. But the baked version of these cookies is more addicting than the blueberry muffins I made this weekend. But not by much. By the way, I have all of those in my house right now. Dozens of cookies, muffins, dessert hummus and even pancakes. Thank goodness for the salad I had for lunch and the taco I'm about to go make for dinner. I don't really want to see any sugar for the rest of the night. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Guacamole Bowl

Yesterday my friend and I embarked on a journey of gluttony. We attended the 8th Annual Guacamole Bowl in Balboa Park. Upon paying our $5 entry fee, we were handed a bag of tortilla chips and some stickers to use to vote for our favorite guacamoles. Out of 30. I was a little put off when the first three we passed had bacon listed in their ingredients, but was mighty happy that every booth had ingredients well displayed so I could avoid those with meat and dairy. We did come across one booth that listed "dairy" and "love" as two of their ingredients. We stayed well away from that booth.

The event was a charity event to raise money for sports for children with disabilities.
It was a really awesome event and, even passing by the booths that had meat or dairy, we still had plenty of guacamole to indulge in.

Everyone was mighty spirited and encouraged us to try their guac and vote for them.

There were decorated tables, costumes and even a theme song or two.

It was really fun reading the ingredients, tasting the guac and then figuring out first if we liked it (we didn't find any we didn't) and secondly what flavors stood out and what made the best ones the best. I was quite a fan of the ones in which I could taste cumin and lime. I was surprised by the contrasting sweetness of the yellow bell peppers in one we tried.
There were pounds upon pounds of fresh vegetables floating around the building.

We managed to stuff ourselves silly in only a short hour. Luckily I had already been to the gym earlier in the morning and ran a 5K on the treadmill (have I mentioned I am going to attempt a 5K run/race on March 26th?) so I didn't feel so bad.

I'll leave you with one final picture that we took extra care to bring to you. You see, my friend doesn't so much like people in costumes, and this guy disappeared and we had to hunt him down. But here it is, for your viewing pleasure.

Hope you enjoyed my guacamole bowl festivities.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Black Bean Tacos

Do you ever have one of those days where you just know exactly what you want for dinner and it totally peps you up? No, just me? I go to the gym straight from work Mondays, Tuesdays and usually Thursdays along with coming home for a brief 1/2 hour first on Wednesdays. This results in my starting to throw dinner together anywhere from 6 to 7:30 at night. Obviously that doesn't leave much time for intricate dinners. Some nights I rely on weekend leftovers. Sometimes I throw together something quickly like a salad or sandwich and sometimes I rely on boca burgers or meatless balls, jarred spaghetti sauce and whole wheat spaghetti. Occasionally though, as happened tonight, I was struck with inspiration and put together a meal I'd like to share with you.

A few months back I mentioned that I had made Oh She Glows' Easy Avocado-Lime Black Bean Salad. When I set out this afternoon, that was what I was going to make. I saw someone in my office eating tacos for lunch and I instantly thought of throwing that black bean salad on some corn tortillas and having me some yummy tacos for dinner. Luckily I had already set some black beans to soak before I left for work this morning and I had my fabulous new Pressure Cooker to cook them up in no time flat. A trip to the store on my way home to pick up some tortillas and cilantro resulted in a slight shift in the dinner plans. I started thinking about what else I could put on the tacos to jazz them up a bit. I thought about some lettuce and salsa, but those seemed like they would take away from the lovely combination of this recipe, so I ended up picking up a head of red cabbage.

I didn't measure ingredients which is probably a good thing as my salad turned out a bit too oniony for even my onion loving tastes. For the original recipe, make sure and check out Oh She Glows' post and then add in the cabbage if you'd like.

First: Chop your onion

Then add chopped cilantro
Next add the juice from your limes
Blurry picture, but the most used contraption in my kitchen next to my food processor.
Add in some cumin and salt
Slice up your cabbage
I ended up not mixing the avocado in since I didn't want to leave it overnight in the leftovers.
Apart from using too much onion, these tacos were unbelievably delicious! And considering that I could put this together after the gym and a shower on a week night, I'd say we have a winner.

Oh, and I <3 my pressure cooker. I see a long and happy life together.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Key Lime Pie

When I purchased some graham cracker crusts during the holidays my first thought was key lime pie. Months later, I still had not managed to find a suitable recipe even though I scoured the internet searching. When I found key limes on my grocery trip last weekend I knew the time had come. Recipe or no recipe, I was making key lime pie.

I really had no recipe even to base my recipe on so I went with my gut. Silken tofu, lime juice, lime zest, agave, cornstarch and a little vanilla (and a little bit of food coloring). I didn't really imagine it would set up so super well, but I imagined it would taste delicious. Unfortunately, when I poured the concoction into the crust, it fell short of the top by a good 1/4 inch. What to do!? I vaguely remembered Katie's post on making your own coconut butter out of shredded coconut so I tried to do something along those lines to make a creamy coconut topping. Note the word tried. I processed and processed and processed my coconut but it remained grainy. I mixed it with some agave and coconut oil and even tossed in a bit of water, but it remained grainy. So I went with it.

The result is a pretty darn good pie.

Yum. Unfortunately, the rest of the dinner I prepared last night was not as photo worthy. Lentil rice loaf, mashed cauliflower and onion gravy. Have you ever made onion gravy? I cannot believe how easy it was. Melt tablespoon of earth balance in cast iron skillet, add onion. Cook until brown. Remove onion. Add in 4 tablespoons earth balance and 4 tablespoons flour. Cook until well mixed. Add back in onion and 2 cups veggie broth. Stir until thick. Season with salt and pepper. I almost ate this off the spoon it was so delicious.

Have you tried dessert hummus yet? Want some more incentive?

Graham crackers. Banana slices. Dessert hummus. Need I say more?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dessert Hummus

I know what you're thinking. But hear me out. Today I read a tweet from @mama_pea about having to make the choice between grocery shopping and making dessert hummus. I was hooked instantly. I had everything at home except something to dip in it. I went to the store and got some graham crackers and I was ready.

Once home I rinsed the garbanzo beans, pulled out the food processor, tossed in some peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla and a pinch of salt and started that baby up. Minutes later I mixed in some mini chocolate chips I conveniently had on hand and tasted one of the most intriguing foods I have tried in a long time. It wasn't oh my goodness love at first bite, but after a few bites I was hooked. Luckily my desire to produce a great picture for all of you stopped my boyfriend and I from devouring the whole batch in one sitting.

This is currently chilling in my refrigerator. Can I have dessert for dinner?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Dessert Hummus. This guy's a genius.