Friday, June 28, 2013

Pink Lemonade Cookies

This June we've had a decent amount of sunny, nice weather and it's been making me crave light and summery foods.  So when I had to bake something for a potluck at work, pink lemonade was on my mind.  I've already made bars with that flavor, but wanted to try a cookie too.  (Apparently making everything but actual pink

When looking for a recipe, most of them included either a mix of some kind (cookie or cake), concentrate, or food coloring.  Yuck!  I eventually found one that didn't use any of that, and it is awesome.

Fresh lemon juice and zest, with a splash of fresh, pureed strawberries create the flavor base.  Pureeing the strawberries was the perfect use of my itty bitty food processor. So cute, and guaranteed to send curious kitties racing away from the kitchen in terror from the scary appliance.

The dough was a bit wet to work with, but certainly not enough to be frustrating... or to discourage you from baking these tasty, little gems!

Bright, tangy, lemony flavor comes through with a bit of sweetness in these cookies.  It's a perfect balance.  The dough was tasty, but a cool, baked cookie was even better.  They were a hit at the potluck, as well as with some of the husband's coworkers as well!

Pink Lemonade Cookies
(from Healthy. Delicious.)
Makes ~ 1 1/2 dozen cookies

8 Tablespoons butter (1 stick), softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
4 large strawberries
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest
2 Tablespoonsfresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2½ cups Flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350*F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the berries and vanilla to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Add ⅓ cup of the strawberry puree, egg, lemon zest, and lemon juice to the butter and sugar mixture.  You could discard any extra puree or save it for another use, like in your breakfast oatmeal or to flavor an adult beverage. ;-)  Mix well.

Stir in the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda until a wet dough forms.

Pour the powdered sugar into a small dish. Drop 1 Tablespoon dough into the powdered sugar. Roll into a ball; shake off excess sugar. Repeat with remaining dough. Arrange on a cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.

Bake 9-12 minutes, until no longer wet (the tops of the cookies will be shiny and slightly crinkled).


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Fudgy Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (vegan)

Flax seeds and oatmeal in a cookie practically make it a health food, right?  Let's go with yes.  Nevermind the sugar or oil...

These cookies may not win any beauty contests, but they taste amazing.  I was pleasantly surprised when I sampled the dough.  And then proceeded to eat a spoonful... or five.  The husband came in the kitchen for a test and promptly walked off with the bowl.  Bonus of vegan cookies - no worries about raw egg in the dough!  Not that it has ever stopped me from eating cookie dough before...

I did manage to bake the cookies, despite our gratuitous sampling, and they turned out wonderfully.  Chocolaty and chewy - what more can you ask for?  I brought them to work, and they were gone in a flash.  I was in a meeting with my boss and she commented how she was still thinking about the cookies and really wanted another.

I wasn't sure a vegan cookie could hold its own in flavor and richness, but these sure did.  It really doesn't matter that there aren't any eggs or butter!  Bake them, you won't regret it!

The original recipe does call for dried fruit of some kind - raisins, cherries, craisins, if you like.  But anytime I have dried fruit in a cookie, I just feel like they are the bits that should be chocolate.  So, mix them in if you want, but it was my preference to go for just chocolate.

**7/22/13 EDIT: If you'd prefer to lower the caloric impact, I recommend using unsweetened applesauce in place of half of the canola oil.  1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce and 1/3 cup canola oil.  It didn't change the texture or flavor, and is much better for you!

Fudgy Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
(from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar)
Makes ~ 3 dozen cookies

2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
2/3 cup nondairy milk (I used almond)
2/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 cup chocolate chips (I used a mix of milk, dark, and mini chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium-size bowl, stir together oats, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together sugar, flax seeds, and nondairy milk until smooth.  Add the oil and the vanilla and almond extracts and beat until well mixed.  Fold in half of the flour mixture to moisten, then fold in the remaining half.  Just before the mixture is completely combined, fold in the chocolate chips.

For each cookie, drop 2 Tbsp of dough onto the cookie sheet, leaving about 2 inches of space between each cookie.  If desired (for a crisper, less chewy cookie), flatten slightly with fingers.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until cookies are firm and risen.  Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to complete cooling.  Store in a tightly covered container.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Balsamic Roasted Vegetable Pizza

You're probably thinking, "Really, pizza?  You just posted about pizza!"  Well, I had a pizza craving... and I wanted to experiment with veggies and a balsamic glaze.  A sophisticated pizza.  Kind of.  Anyway, the husband was game to try it, so I looked for a recipe, just to see if a fantastic one was already in existence.

I was mildly disappointed.  The recipes that I found required you to roast the vegetables separately, and then assemble the pizza.  Ugh, how time-consuming!  The beauty of homemade pizza is that it doesn't take that long, yet it still tastes amazing.  I was not interested in useless steps, so I stuck with the 'shaved vegetable' technique of the Shaved Asparagus Pizza and just tweaked the ingredients a bit.

With all of these vegetables, it's a healthy meal, right?  We're going to go with 'yes.'

Of course, after making this, we did have some extra vegetables lying about, so I made it again the next day.  Oops.  No complaints from our table, however!

Balsamic Roasted Vegetable Pizza
Makes 1 full size pizza - number of servings is up to you!

1 recipe of your favorite pizza dough (I recommend a Jiffy crust for ease!)
1 small shallot, sliced thinly
2-3 mushrooms, sliced thinly
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small zucchini
1 carrot
1 small bell pepper or a few small, sweet peppers, thinly sliced
4-5 spears asparagus
1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan and/or Pecorino
1/2 pound mozzarella, shredded or cut into small cubes
2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp honey
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Several grinds black pepper
Truffle salt/oil (optional)

Oven: Preheat your oven to the hottest temperature it goes, or about 500 in most cases. If you use a pizza stone, have it in there.Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey.  Set aside.

Prepare veggies: For asparagus - no need to snap off ends; they can be your “handles” as you peel them. Holding a single asparagus spear by its tough end, lay it flat on a cutting board and using a vegetable peeler, create long shavings of asparagus by drawing the peeler from the base to the top of the stalk. Repeat with remaining stalks and don’t fret some pieces are unevenly thick (such as the end of the stalk, which might be too thin to peel); the mixed textures give a great character to the pizza. Discard tough ends. Peel carrot and then use peeler to create long shavings, like asparagus.  Use peeler in the same fashion for zucchini (I only went partway through it until I got to the seedy part).  I ended up using only half the zucchini, and half the carrot.  Thinly slice the mushrooms and shallot.

Pat veggies dry with paper towel (I noticed my pizza got a bit 'wet' without doing this).  In a large bowl, toss zucchini, carrot, asparagus, shallot, mushrooms, peppers, and garlic with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble and bake pizza: Roll or stretch out your pizza dough to a 12-inch round. Either transfer to a floured or cornmeal-dusted pizza peel (if using a pizza stone in the oven) or to a floured or cornmeal-dusted tray to bake it on. IF you're using a Jiffy crust, pre-bake the crust as directed (at 425 degrees).

Sprinkle pizza dough with Parmesan/Pecorino (save a bit for the top) and minced rosemary, then mozzarella. Pile shaved vegetables on top. Top with remaining Parmesan/Pecorino. Bake pizza for 10 to 15 minutes at 500 degrees, or until edges are browned, the cheese is bubbly and the vegetables are lightly charred. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle truffle salt or oil, then slice and eat.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Fruity Recovery Smoothie

Recovery from what, you ask?  Due to the content of this blog, you might not guess that I'm a marathoner.  But hey, I run and then I get tasty treats, so it's really the perfect system.  Anyway, I recently finished a race and thought I'd share a super tasty smoothie that I use for my and the husband's training.

I'd made a version of this smoothie for a long time, but recently have perfected it with some inspiration from Scott Jurek's book, Eat and Run.  He's an amazing ultramarathoner, an inspiration of mine, and he happens to be a great chef as well.  With his crazy mileage, he would know a thing or two about recovery.  Anyway, he had some great tips to amp up my post-run smoothie to not only taste great, but be extra beneficial as well.

There is a lot of flexibility in this smoothie - use your favorite fruits!  Fresh fruits work well, of course, but if you want the smoothie to be more icy (perfect on a hot day), then use frozen fruits.  Additionally, this smoothie could easily be made vegan by taking out the yogurt.

Some nutritional reasons to love this smoothie:
-Refueling within the first 30 minutes post-workout is ideal (fuel is most efficiently absorbed within that timeframe), and a smoothie is an easy and quick way to refuel.  It might be particularly helpful if you don't feel like eating solid food post-workout.
-Potassium from the banana helps maintain the mineral balance in your body and can combat muscle cramping.
-All of the fruit provides quick carbohydrates to restore glycogen to depleted muscles as well as essential vitamins and antioxidants that defend against free radical damage to muscle tissues.
-Protein from the yogurt and protein powder promote muscle repair.
-The miso replaces the salt and electrolytes lost in sweat.
-Flax and chia seeds provide omega 3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory, and may reduce joint pain intensity.
-Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties as well, and may prevent delayed onset muscle soreness.

And, it's simply very tasty!  Perfect for recovery, whether from an intense workout at the gym, chasing your kid around the park, or just a yummy treat on a hot day.

Fruity Recovery Smoothie
(My recipe, with inspiration from Scott Jurek's book, Eat and Run)
Makes ~3 cups - 1 large, or 2 medium sized servings

1 ripe banana (sliced and frozen is great, as well)
1/2 cup frozen mango
1 cup frozen berries (I used a mix of strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, but blueberries are wonderful too!)
4 oz. yogurt (We love Noosa, but definitely use one that has probiotics in it)
2 tsp mellow miso
1 Tbsp flax seeds, ground
1 Tbsp chia seeds (or just double the flax seeds)
3 Tbsp protein powder (I love the brown rice protein powder)
1/2 tsp ground ginger (or if you like, 1/2 - 1 inch fresh ginger, minced)
1/4 cup Pom juice
1/2 cup Almond milk

Puree all ingredients in blender.  Add more almond milk if it's too thick.  Pour into glasses, and drink up!