I need your help.
Before I came to America, I was really excited to exercise my couponing prowess. I had seen some television shows where people get tons of stuff at the grocery store for next to nothing, because they use sales, price matching and coupons. There was coupon matching, double coupon day, etc.
I have been here for almost 6 months and have yet to encounter such coupon chaos. Where is it??
It must be because I don’t routinely go to standard box stores. Instead, I scope out cheap, fresh produce at the food market and Trader Joe’s and order random ingredients online. There are a few different websites I like, depending on what I want to buy. Sadly, these food-friendly websites did not really succumb to the “Cyber Monday” craze. In my mind, it is all in the best interest of keeping a mostly minimalist pantry.
But, one site was different. Although, it wasn’t even a Cyber Monday Deal. The sale is still on now.
You could do it, too! We could be in this mess together!
My friend let me know about a super deal on coconut flour. $29 for 25 lbs, after a coupon. Free shipping. Since coconut flour can sell for over $8/lb, this was a positive steal. But also A LOT of coconut flour.
Rob was not pleased. I am not entirely sure where to store it.
It is such a unique ingredient that I love, so I will definitely be experimenting with it. My friend has suggested adding it to oatmeal, smoothies, crackers and even whipping it into a coconut butter-type spread.
My first dent into my coconut flour stash was small, but still worthwhile. These cookies were delicious and festive, to boot. While they have a texture of a crumbly shortbread, that is where the similarities end, because these are wholesome with so few ingredients: pecans, maple syrup, coconut flour and salt. You can bake them or dehydrate them. I opted for the latter and they were a sweet and delicious cookie.
Do you have any tricks for couponing? Did you join in the Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals? Any cool recipes for coconut flour?
This is my submission to this month’s Dead Easy Desserts.
Rob is away which means I have been left to my own devices. I stay up a lot later when Rob isn’t here to remind me to go to sleep. I am the one taking care of the garbage, mail and laundry. I haven’t vacuumed yet, but I think that’s ok. We stocked up on groceries before Rob left, so I had a fridge full of produce to work through.
I have been eating my greens, but most of the time, I have been thinking of the dessert that awaits afterwards. Since moving to Houston, Rob and Joe have been a bad influence. You have likely met Joe, too…. the Trader Joe. When we first moved here, we were enamoured with vegan ice cream. We knew that habit wasn’t sustainable, so we weaned ourselves to smoothies and banana ice cream. Next came the chips. TJ’s has SO.MANY chips to try. The gateway chips were the black bean and quinoa ones, and then we progressed to the veggie and flaxseed tortilla chips and soy and flaxseed chips. I have put a chip ban in place while Rob is gone, although I will admit I like the chips more than sweets.
And then Rob discovered their vegan cookies. They even say vegan cookies right on the package. I knew I had to put an end to this madness. Even homemade cookies would be a better option. Although, I purposely did not bring any baking contraptions to Houston. (I can’t even find my graduated 1-cup measuring cup, sigh).. and strictly enforcing a no flour pantry (chickpea flour and masarepa, excluded).
What’s a cookie-loving girl to do?
No flour, no problem.
Peanut butter cookies to the rescue. Peanut butter and wait for it, mashed chickpeas, are the base for these cookies. I chopped up some chocolate to incorporate into the sweet batter. Now we had peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies! I am no stranger to beans in cookies, either. One of my favourite cookies are these chocolate mint cookies made with black beans and these chocolate chip chickpea blondies were a hit, too. I like bean-based cookies because they are softer and more cake-like, instead of hard and crackly cookies. They certainly have a different texture but you would never know there were chickpeas in them. These would also make a nice snack while cycling/exercising – a nice change of pace from date-based treats.
Have you baked with beans yet?
With a name like “Brown Sugar Cardamom Snickerdoodles”, you might think I was creative in the kitchen.
The joke’s on you because, I just worked with what I left in my pantry while I was still in Toronto.
Without any chocolate in the house, I had to turn to non-chocolate dessert options for our going-away party. I knew I was going to make baklava, since I had planned to make it a few months ago and had all the ingredients (mostly). Plus it would be a treat for my parents who came up to help us pack and move.
But I wanted to make something else, too. I perused Isa’s blog for inspiration: Chai Spiced Snickerdoodles. However, I had no white sugar and not all of the chai spices…. but I still had brown sugar. I was not entirely sure whether it would work, so I googled brown sugar snickerdoodles. I came across Joe Yonan’s Cardamom-Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles. Brown sugar would work, it seemed. And my lack of spices would not be a deterrent, either: I had cardamom. However, Joe’s recipe was not vegan so I tweaked Isa’s recipe with my pantry subs.
And of course, while baking seems so simple, I definitely prefer the ease of raw desserts. As I made this, I was scratching my head wondering what to do with the clumpy brown sugar that was not dissolving. Heating it was a possibility but I wasn’t sure that would still work since I had already added it to the liquids. I consulted the Mom guru midway during my baking escapades. If the sugar had not been added yet, she suggested microwaving the brown sugar. Since I had already added the liquids, she had another fantastic idea: pulverize it with a blender. Since I already dirtied my vitamix to make homemade cashew milk for the cookies, it was easy to blend away the clumps, too. Worked like a charm.
Some of the comments from Isa’s recipe implied the dough could be very sticky to work with. Mine was not sticky in the slightest. Easy to work with, flatten as balls and roll in a cardamom-spiked brown sugar coating. I used large crystal Demerara-style brown sugar for the coating and saved the clumpy brown sugar for the cookie.
And the verdict? You will have to rely on Rob’s judgment. My Mom does not hold too much faith in Rob’s opinions of my food (is he really biased?) but trust me, there are plenty of things he does not like and he will tell me so. Around the same time, Rob was gifted with local maracons. However, they were very fragile and slightly smooshed during transport. After he tried a snickerdoodle fresh from the oven, he told me it was better than the macarons! They were smooshed macarons, but still, they were macarons, nonetheless. These cookies were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside with a sweet caramel flavour thanks to the brown sugar with a hint of exotic cardamom.
And if Rob’s opinion is not enough, let’s just say the cookies were demolished within minutes at the party. Granted, I served them before the pizza had arrived… and no one had issues with cookies as an appetizer.
Creativity out of necessity. I like it. And so did Rob.
While Magic Tours provided all food and lodgings for the hike towards The Lost City, promising vegan eats for me, I came prepared. Just in case. Fresh fruits were a-plenty, that’s for sure. Prior to my trip, though, I had my dehydrator out in full force: I was making myself treats to keep me fuelled through this grueling hike.
I made an assortment of treats and not all made the cut.
Chickpea Granola Bars: A peanut butter-based granola bar stuffed with roasted chickpeas. Sounded great but these bars were too dry for me. They are supposed to be chilled for best eating (maybe that would have helped?), and dehydrating them did not make them more palatable. They stayed at home.
Caribbean Coconut Oat Bars: Looking for something tropical, I made these with fresh mango instead of banana. They combined oats, almonds, macadamia nuts and coconut with lime. These had promise but my bars were too thin to enjoy the fudgey/chewy texture I was hoping to duplicate. These stayed at home.
Gingerbread Cliff Bars: Hoping for a savoury energy bar without all the crap from real Cliff bars, this was a strong contender. However, these were unlike any Cliff bar I have ever tasted. The pumpkin pie spice treat tasted great but they were cakey more then dense and too fragile to bring on a hike. They stayed at home.
Chocolate Mint Protein Bars: A great good source of protein when all I had to eat was fried rice and avocado for dinner (only once). With a bit of dehydration, these were a nice portable option. Without the dehydration, they would not have survived. They came with me to the jungle, too.
However, the winner of all the snacks were these raw lemon barley energy cookies from Tess! Combining only a few ingredients, these are delicious snacks that withstood everything the jungle threw at it. Almonds. Dates. Sprouted barley. Lemon. Salt. The original recipe also had raisins, but I opted to omit it in favour of a tart lemony cookie instead. The lack of raisins (or decreased dried fruit) really helped these cookies keep their shape through all the backpack reshuffles and heat of the jungle. Furthermore, I do not like overly sweet things when exercising. I also made Tess’ Gooey Cinnamon Raisin version of these cookies which were incredibly delicious with a heavy hand of cinnamon, but the extra raisins made them a bit more gooey and sweet in the heat.
Some of my other favourite energy snacks from my cycling adventures:
What is your favourite energy bar?
Of all the cookies this week, the Ginger Oatmeal Raisin Cookies probably win for packing in tons of nutrient-dense foods.
I consider this an unhealthy cookie with zucchini as a bonus. There are not many nutrients to gain from white sugar, butter and white flour. But hey, if you are going to indulge, you may as well reap the benefits of some hidden veggies.
As you can tell, I am actually unearthing an older post that I had written up many moons ago, prior to my vegan days. I don’t why, but it takes me a while to post up my sweet treats. Last year, I posted about the Key Lime Meltaways I had made the year earlier! I suppose I like to post things in season.. and come January, cookies don’t seem so mouthwatering.
I made these during the fall, when zucchini was brimming from my friend’s garden. I was heading to a party and decided to have a bake-off of two different lemon zucchini cookies (I know, I couldn’t decide which one to make, so I made both!). I quizzed people at the party about the “secret ingredient”. Despite the hint with the little green flecks, no one could figure out zucchini was hidden in there. You really couldn’t taste it amongst the lemon and vanilla flavours. Instead, it adds moistness.
Despite both having similar ingredients, I preferred the recipe from Food52 (pictured above). It produced a cookie that was more airy but firm at the same time. Martha’s cookie from Everyday Food (September 2009) was more dense and the cornmeal added a different texture (pictured below). I also made bigger cookies with Martha’s recipe. Don’t get me wrong, they are both nice cookies, and a great alternative on a cookie platter. However, if you have a choice, shun Martha. I actually have no problems shunning Martha, because when I battled her Earl Grey Tea Shortbread cookies, her recipe was the loser. By a long shot.
PS. Since I made these in my pre-vegan days, I haven’t tested out the vegan alternatives with oil and chia eggs. There are vegan zucchini cookies that look similar, so I think the alternatives could work. Baker’s discretion, though!
Now for the cookies you’ve been waiting patiently for…
What’s your definition of a healthy dessert? Of a healthy cookie? Two years ago, I thought my (oh so gorgeous) apple banana cake was healthy because it had no oil or butter. Except, as a sweetener, it had sugar and honey in addition to the bananas. It used white flour.
Preferring whole unprocessed foods, I have currently shunned refined flours and sugars. It is not that I don’t enjoy my sweets. I do. In moderation. I just want to have some nutrients packaged with it, too. A healthier option. I simply adore raw desserts, but often they are nut-based or sport a heavy dose of agave or coconut oil/butter.
You can imagine how giddy I was when I first saw this recipe for a chocolate cookie made with black beans without any grains or nuts. No refined sugars, either. The giddiness was mostly because these cookies were made with BLACK BEANS! Sarah had a chocolate chili cherry recipe but I decided to hedge my bets and split the dough for two versions: Mint Chocolate and a Mexican Chocolate Spiced version with Dried Cherries, modeled after my Spiced Brownies.
Trust me, no one will know these cookies are filled with beans. It is really unfair to quiz your guests about the secret ingredient because they taste like delicious cookies, beans or no beans. These are not fudgy cookies, but more dense than the airy banana-based cookies. A moist, fluffy cookie filled with chocolate. The chocolate mint version marries the quintessential holiday favourite flavours. You can’t go wrong with peppermint and chocolate.
For round two, the Mayan-Spiced cookies have a whiff of savoury spices including cinnamon, cardamom and smoked paprika with a bit of a zip from the chili flakes. I might try increasing the spices next round because they weren’t too dominant. The dried cherries offered a nice contrast to the dark chocolate.
What will round 3 entail? You tell me! I will have to whip up another batch if I want eat them over the holidays. Or maybe I will venture to finally try other bean-based desserts.
Other bean-based vegan desserts:
Black Bean Brownies from Patty Cake
Low Fat Black Bean Brownies from Happy Herbivore
Chocolate Chickpea Blondies from Delicious Vitality
Marathon Cookies from 101 Cookbooks
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bean Balls from Purple Bird Blog
Butter Bean Cookies from Happy Herbivore
Black Bean Fudge from Diet, Dessert and Dogs
Chocolate Bean Butter from Diet, Dessert and Dogs
Faux Date Squares from Diet, Dessert and Dogs
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Dessert Hummus from Never (home) Maker
Black Bean Cookie Dough Hummus from What Runs Lori
Enough with the cruciferous veggies, eh? It is December and I know what’s on your mind: COOKIES!
Trust me, I have a lot more recipes to share featuring cruciferous vegetables but I’ll take a detour this week to entice you to create healthy cookies this holiday season. The veggies shall return. Post-Christmas, most likely, when everyone starts their resolution to eat more healthy.
Healthy cookies are usually a misnomer, but I think Jenné hit the nail on the head when she called these “The World’s Healthiest Cookies“.
When you say healthy cookies, it could be synonymous with an unpleasant sub-par dessert. This is not the case. However, these are not your fudgy, wudgy, dense cookies, either. They reminded me a lot of the Dark Chocolate Banana Coconut Almond Cookies I’ve made before. Both are a light and fluffy cookie, more cake-like than cookie-like.
While I enjoy chocolate, coconut and almonds, I had a hankering for oatmeal raisin cookies recently. My mom nearly flipped when she heard I was making cookies. But they are healthy! These cookies were nice because you’d get bursts of ginger contrasting with the sweet dates and raisins. Plus, you get all the nutrients from bananas, flax seeds, chopped walnuts and rolled oats with limited oil. Definitely not your traditionally dense oatmeal-raisin cookie, but very addictive, nonetheless.
You see, I might walk in thinking I just want to buy spinach, or chickpeas, or what not, and casually glance at the eggplant on sale and walk home with that as well. It is not unusual for me to come home with 20 limes when they go on sale for $1. I have done this a few times. Without a plan, and they may not necessarily last long enough for me to use them either. My newest trick is to clean my copper-bottomed frypan with half a lime (or lemon) dusted with a bit of salt (my mom teaches me the most awesome things!).
In this case, though, I walked home with a small bag of key limes. They weren’t on sale, but they were just so cute! And definitely not worthy of withering on my counter.
Key limes are totally versatile, right? Hmm, no. But I already knew what I planned to make with them: Key Lime Meltaways.
This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted her recipe from Martha Stewart. Unlike Deb, I had to coax every last drop of lime juice from these suckers. We had to pull out all the tricks – microwaving the limes for a 10 seconds, rolling them on the counter and in the end, we also added a bit of pulp to the cookies as well.
Akin to shortbread, these cookies melt in your mouth. They have a hint of tart lime, kept in check with the dusting of icing sugar. Creamy, smooth, tart and sweet all in a cookie. A nice cookie for your holiday table.
I have nearly a week until I head home for the holidays and plan to eat out of my pantry/fridge/freezer. Wish me luck on not getting too distracted in the grocery store as I pick up more ingredients for holiday baking.
When I cook, I mostly take the easy route. I don’t consider my recipes to be that challenging. Once you have the ingredients, and possibly a few kitchen utensils (big and small), you are good to go! But sometimes, I get this inkling to try something beyond the easy. I could make traditional rugelach, a Jewish pastry with a cream cheese dough in the shape of a crescent, filled with nuts, raisins and apricot jam. Or I could make rugelach PINWHEELS filled walnuts, dried cranberries and cinnamon. Forget the crescents, the pinwheels had me smitten when I spotted them at Smitten Kitchen and Technicolor Kitchen. OK, OK. In truth, my (new) sister-in-law (back when I made this she was still my brother’s fiancee) makes fabulous traditional rugelach, so I knew I couldn’t compete – and I didn’t want to – so I wanted to try something different with my favourite ingredients (cranberries and cinnamon).
So I combined both recipes into something I could work well with, using an egg to help stick the final topping. The dough was easy to put together and easy to roll. And easy to spread the filling onto it. And even easy to roll it up. But cutting it became trickier. Maybe there is a reason people normally make crescents for rugelach. I kept trying to figure out how to keep everything together. In the end, I could cobble them together and they baked up nicely. When I baked them on their flat side, not standing perched up. A few of the soldiers fell over in the oven. More than a few.
The verdict? My mom raved about them. My grandmother raved more about the World Peace Cookies (and I side with her; it is hard to compete with cookies so good they invoke world peace!). For me, they were not as tasty as I had hoped, after fiddling with the pinwheels for an evening. I like the soft centre from traditional rugelach and the thin pinwheel makes it more crisp. I think I like my sister-in-law’s traditional rugelach better… thank goodness she is a part of the family now.
Undoubtedly, when you buy bananas regularly you can’t eat them fast enough and sometimes they turn brown a bit too fast. The question is what to do with those overripe bananas when you don’t really like banana bread? (Other than my delicious apple banana bread, of course!)
While I haven’t decided what to do with my current 2 bananas, I knew I had to share one of my favourite overripe banana recipes. I spotted them on 101cookbooks where they were dubbed “Nikki’s Healthy Cookies”. Let’s ignore the term healthy cookie, because I don’t really think they exist.. I mean, these are filled with many wholesome ingredients with no butter, no eggs, no flour and no added sugar. But let’s be honest, taste is what matters most. And these cookies deliver.
They have a slightly crunchy exterior with a soft and chewy centre. They don’t taste like your typical cookies, as they are lighter than most cookies but not exactly cake-like either. Straight from the oven, the melted chocolate dances on your tongue with the strong whiff of banana, which provides the soft texture. The ground almonds replace flour, making this a perfect treat for vegans and celiacs alike. I am not sure how long the cookies will last at room temperature because they never seem to last more than 2-3 days.
I am new to food blogging, if you haven’t already noticed. This blog is just over 6 months old (woohoo!) but sometimes I have questions. Like what should I do if I have a better version of something I already posted? I’ll write a new post, for sure, but I would hate to mislead people into trying a different sub-par recipe when I have a better one! What to do with the older post? Write a disclaimer with a redirect to the new revised recipe? I think that sounds best, but let me know if you have better ideas.
The recipe I recreated was for the quite popular Earl Grey Tea Shortbread Cookies from Martha Stewart. Sorry, Martha, I have a better recipe. A hundred times better! They are subtly addictive, not overtly obvious with its prowess until you’ve munched on a few cookies.. or maybe that’s from the caffeine?
This recipe came from the George Brown College Chef School, through Tastes of Tomorrow, their student cooking club. This is why you pay the big bucks for culinary school! Or the small bucks to go to their student club – a wonderful bargain if you ask me and blogTO (sadly I missed the frozen pastry demo and the one with Chef David Lee of Nota Bene restaurant).
Anyways, I didn’t tackle this recipe originally because I didn’t have a scale but bakers will tell you that weighing your ingredients is the best way to consistent results. Plus, the recipe is just plain better than Martha’s. Definitely pick up a scale just for this cookie. They can be found fairly cheap ($20) at kitchen supply stores, amazon, etc. Just make sure it measures to the gram (not rounded to the closest 5 g) and can weigh at least 5 kg.
A few other tips for optimal earl grey cookies I picked up from my last batch: the quality of your Earl Grey tea matters. Instead of tea bags, I opted for Earl Grey Cream loose leaf tea from Tealish. Delicious as a tea with a hint of vanilla, and fabulous in the cookies. Plus, I loved the coarse sugar dancing on the outsides of the cookie. It added a burst of sweetness from an otherwise mild cookie.
When trying to figure out which food to make, I find food bloggers to be fairly reliable. But not when I only see one post; when I see lots of posts (because what good is an n of 1?). I originally spotted this recipe for World Peace Cookies at Smitten Kitchen (always a reliable source) who adapted them from Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan, also found at Epicurious. My curiosity was piqued – cookies so good they would invoke world peace?! Wow, what a tall claim! They already had rounds and rounds of praise, surfacing many years through the blogging community – and this many people couldn’t be wrong, right?
Of course not! They were incredibly tasty – a chocolate cookie with chocolate chunks and a cross between a brownie and a shortbread. I used 70% dark chocolate for the chocolate chunks and they were delicious. They were a bit big, though, and the only hindrance in my chopping the cookies from the chilled roll. However, the cookies could be placed together nicely, even if crumbly from the chocolate chunks. Because you don’t mix it too much, and you don’t bake it too much either, these cookies are melt-in-your mouth soft and good for a couple of days at room temperature (if they last that long!). If you haven’t made these yet, I encourage you to join the world peace cookies loving.
This is my submission to this month’s Sugar High Friday featuring Comfort Sweets.
I debated whether I should put these cookies on the blog. I had high hopes for them, despite mixed reviews, but tackled them regardless. I was initially disappointed with the results. However, friends loved them and I agreed that they tasted better the next day.. so much so, that I couldn’t stop munching on them and there are none left… so they must be good as my tummy will attest.
This is a slice-and-bake shortbread-like cookie with a hint of Earl Grey tea and lemon. It is a pretty simple cookie with only a few ingredients. I found a sharp chef’s knife helped to cut the cookies without too much crumble (some cookies still needed to be sacrificed, though). I used the tea leaves from 5 bags of Earl grey tea but the next time I try it, I will buy some loose leaf tea. Since Earl Grey is the main flavour, it would be best not to use subprime tea. I also plan to coat the outside with sugar, as I am still on a quest for a better Earl Grey shortbread. I have a recipe I want to try, as we were served them at the tea event run by the George Brown cooking club (Tastes of Tomorrow). However, I need to find a scale first. UPDATE: That much better recipe has been posted here.
The task was to describe your favourite holiday cookie. To tantalize your taste buds with only a few sentences; to pique your curiosity; to share your holiday traditions. Everyone voted for those they wanted to make it to the bake off. From the top 3, they will be made and tasted and the ultimate winner chosen for this year’s Virtual Cookie Swap.
This was my submission for my tried-and-true Cinnamon Snaps:
I have made them for the past few years and they never last until Christmas! They are a lovely variation on a gingersnap, but instead of ginger it is filled with a strong cinnamon taste. The cookies are slightly crispy on the outside but inside soft, melt-in-your-mouth, covered with a cinnamon-sugar topping that sparkles in your mouth. They are best straight from the oven but try to leave some for others to try. And bonus, it is an easy recipe to make.
I originally found the recipe online, source unknown, but my google prowess shows a slightly modified version on the Taste of Home website (from Country Woman March/April 2001, p29).
I will definitely be making these shortly, but still devouring recipes to figure out which other cookies will be coming out this year. It will be a battle of the rugelach, for sure, so stayed tuned for the results of that.
Looking for the perfect year-end potluck offering? Nothing says “I need a holiday” more than more than these star-shaped cookies! I admit, these cookies took a bit more Martha Stewart than I had to give. I made them over two days, refrigerating the dough after the first, and rolling out and baking on the second. An extra set of hands went a long way as the rolling and baking happened on a Monday evening after work (i.e. prevented tears upon my realizing just how much dough the recipe actually produced). Despite the fuss, these cuties were as tasty as they are pretty and well worth the trouble.
Tip: Keep unrolled dough in fridge between rolling, and keep cut out shapes in freezer before cutting out smaller shapes. This recipe makes LOTS of cookies!
This recipe for Chocolate Orange Hearts came from the Complete Cookie Book by Elizabeth Wolf Cohen.