Russian Almond Cookies (with Pistachio and Dried Cherry/ Cranberry Variation) [vegan & plant-based]

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

These buttery cookies are so pure and simple, the perfect hybrid of crisp and tender.

Wherever we were for Christmas as a family of four–our home in Richardson, TX, our maternal grandmother’s in Dallas, or Mam-ma’s and Pap-pa’s in Houston–Mam’ma always made sure these and three other kinds of cookies, perennially the same, were there too, packed in wax paper-lined metal holiday tins.

The crackley paper, the aroma of sweet butter, vanilla, and almond–none of her cookies were spiced–and the shapes: slices, balls, Santas, reindeer, stars, bells, Christmas trees, and more, are the embodiment of Christmas for me.

Though Mam-ma probably creamed the butter by hand, I use my Kitchen Aid mixer, except when including my addition of nuts and dried fruit. Then I use a food processor as it does the chopping for you. But feel free to chop the ingredients and fold them into the dough made by hand or with a mixer.

Russian Almond Cookies (with Pistachio and Dried Cherry/Cranberry Variation) [vegan & plant-based)

1 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour

Optional:
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries

Place all ingredients, including optional nuts and fried fruit, in a large food processor. Pulse until well combined and dough comes together in a ball. Divide dough in half, roll each into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 20 to 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper. With a thin sharp knife, cut each log diagonally into 1/4″ thick slices, and place about 1-inch apart on prepared sheets, as they won’t spread much at all. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

#vegan #veganrecipes #veganfoodshare #veganfoodporn #plantbased #plantbasedrecipes #plantbasedfoodshare #plantbasedfoodporn #Veganchristmascookies #plantbasedchristmascookies

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Eggnog French Toast–So Quick & Easy (vegan & plant-based)

Yield: 1 serving (easily multiplies)

A holiday gift of a homemade sourdough loaf on the counter, So Delicious Dairy Free Nog in the fridge, and chickpea flour in the freezer inspired this divine and ready-in-a-flash Eggnog French Toast.

And because I am on winter break from school, I just might have made a warm topping with a 2 to 1 ratio of maple syrup and Bailey’s vegan Almande.

For each serving:

1 tablespoon chickpea flour

1/4 cup So Delicious or Silk dairy-free nog

1-1 inch slice sourdough bread, preferably homemade or artisanal

Almande-Maple Syrup (recipe follows) or maple syrup

Optional: chopped nuts and a sprinkling of powdered sugar

Whisk together chickpea flour and nog in a small bowl. Place bread in bowl and press down on one side, flip over and repeat. Allow to soak for as much time as you have up to 20 or so minutes. Even 5 or 10 will be delicious. Flip bread once or twice while it soaks. Then, either melt a tablespoon of vegan butter in a large skillet or simply spray skillet with nonstick spray as I did and place over medium low heat. Remove bread from nog mixture, lay in skillet, and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and custard is set. Serve topped with the syrup of your choice plus optional chopped nuts and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Almande-Maple Syrup Optional:

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon Bailey’s Almande

Whisk very well, as Almande wants to float on top, and heat in microwave for 10 or so seconds. Careful or it will boil over.

#vegan #veganrecipes #veganfoodshare #veganfoodporn #plantbased #plantbasedrecipes #plantbasedfoodshare #plantbasedfoodporn #plantbasedeggnogfrenchtoast #veganeggnogfrenchtoast #plantbasedfrenchtoast #veganfrenchtoast

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Sichuan Chex Mix with Hot Chili Oil (vegan & plant-based)

Yield: 4 quarts (16 cups or 1 gallon)

Every Christmas, my late mother made traditional Chex Mix. She would not be at all happy with my messing with tradition.

With apologies to my mother, this year’s vegan Sichuan Chex Mix is inspired by my Chinese obsession from Judy’s Sichuan in Virginia Beach, VA: Tofu Braised in Hot Chili Oil. Redolent of garlic, ginger, and chilies, this dish features 4 other key ingredients: fried tofu and stir fried jalapeños, red and green bell pepper, and peanuts over Jasmin rice.

I think, though I am not certain, that an elusive flavor in the dish is lent by Sichuan Peppercorn which I purchase st the Asian market and grind myself. Warm, but not hot (to me), this seasoning also adds a very temporary, characteristic, and pleasant lip numbing sensation. The Chex mix is delush with or without.

Seasoning Mix:
1/2 Cup vegan butter
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons Fried Chili in Oil (sold in a jar on Kroger’s Asian aisle)
2 teaspoons grated ginger (I purchase it in a squeeze jar)
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 tablespoon Onion Powder

Optional: 1 to 3 teaspoons ground Sichuan Peppercorn

Cereal Mix:
7 cups Rice Chex cereal
5 cups pretzel sticks
*3.5 ounces crispy fried onions in bag, carton, or can
*3.5 ounces crispy jalapeños in a bag
*3.5 ounces crispy red bell pepper or beets in a bag or carton
4 ounces roasted and salted edamame
1 cup roasted and salted peanuts

*I use Fresh Gourmet brand from Kroger. I wanted bell pepper, but couldn’t find them in two stores, so the beets added that red, sweet, and earthy element I wanted.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Melt butter in large roasting pan in preheating oven. Stir in remaining Seasoning Mix ingredients followed by all Cereal Mix ingredients, coating evenly. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely and package in airtight containers.

#vegan #veganrecipes #veganfoodshare #veganfoodporn #plantbased #plantbasedrecipes #plantbasedfoodshare #plantbasedfoodporn #plantbasedsichuan #vegansichuan #plantbasedchexmix #veganchexmix
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Best and Easiest Vegan Roll-and-Cut Gingerbread Cookies

You will love this no-fail, no-egg recipe that I have had since I was an adolescent growing up in a small town in south-central Mississippi.  There, Quinn’s, the local pharmacy, was virtually the only place to purchase cosmetics. Just beginning to experiment with make-up, one year, I was seduced around the holidays  by “gingerbread” flavored lip gloss which was sold complete with a gingerbread cookie recipe printed on an accompanying card.

I first made them for one of the attorneys with whom my mother worked.  He loved them and, thereafter they became known as “John’s Gingerbread Cookies.”  I made them frequently but I haven’t made them for a long time.  However, this holiday season I saw a mason jar filled with miniature gingerbread boy and girl cookies and tied with a bow.  I was smitten, yet I never had an opportunity to make them during the winter holiday season. But, with my partner Bob struggling with several weeks of pain from bulging disks in his neck, I decided he needed a treat so I made a half batch shaped as hearts.  He ate half of them in half a day.

The only ingredient that needed to be substituted to make the cookies vegan was butter. Thank goodness for Earth Balance.  The rest is a piece of cake, er, bite of cookie.  And your home will smell divine.

Best and Easiest Vegan Roll-and-Cut Gingerbread Cookies

1 cup softened vegan butter

1 cup sugar (I like to use demerara, available at Kroger)

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger or ground ginger (I like the pungency and brightness of the fresh, but I purchase it in a jar for ease and convenience)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (the original recipe called for 1 teaspoon, which I found too strong)

3 cups all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or, my favorite, Silpat (silicone baking mats).  In large bowl of electric mixer, cream together vegan butter and sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy.  Beat in maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until completely combined.  Don’t worry if mixture looks slightly curdled.  Then, with mixer on low, beat in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, just until incorporated and dough comes together.  Add water, a teaspoon at a time, if dough seems too dry.  Avoid over-mixing or cookies will be tough. Working with one-fourth of dough at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured board to a thickness somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4″.  Cut into desired shapes, place close together on prepared baking sheet, and bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Cool slightly and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Repeat with remaining dough.

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Vegan Nutella and Puff Pastry Christmas Tree

I can’t see Santa’s Forest for these adorable trees.

Apparently they are all the rage this year, but I was evidently a little late to the pastry tree party.  Make yours with pizza dough or puff pastry and spread with the sweet or savory filling you most crave. Just be sure to include a creamy base to adhere the layers together.

My version is sweet–but not too–uses only three ingredients and, after the pastry thaws, is ready to devour in under 30 minutes.  I left a Middle Eastern dinner and this tree last night for our dog sitters (yes, we are those dog owners) while we joined friends for their Christmas Eve Eve tradition: a salad and sip of wine followed by a Christmas light-lit walk over to the Naro, an independent film house, to see “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The twins left some of the tabouli salad but not a crumb of the pastry. It was a huge hit with these 19 year olds.

My take on this new classic was inspired by its key ingredient: Rigoni di Asiago’s Nocciolata Oraganic Dairy-Free Hazelnut & Cocoa Spread, generously sent to me for product review purposes. With a deeply nutty and chocolatey flavor–its richness undiluted by dairy–and a thick and creamy–but spreadable–texture, this product is tops in my pantry (it needs no refrigeration).  It is also gluten- and palm oil-free.

Recipe

1 box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry (2 sheets), thawed according to package directions

4.5 to 5 ounces vegan Hazelnut-Cocoa spread (1/2 jar Nocciolata)

1 to 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On baking stone or parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet, stack the two pastry sheets.  With a sharp knife, cut into a triangular tree shape with a 1-inch or so wide trunk at the bottom. Remove top sheet, spread bottom sheet with hazelnut-cocoa spread, replace top sheet, lining up edges, and press down gently.

Cut 1 star from scraps and whatever other shapes you like fir nibbling or to serve as croutons on salads. Place pastry shapes on a separate stone or lined baking sheet.

Make 3/4-inch wide horizontal cuts from outer edges of triangle toward the center, stopping even with outer edges of trunk leaving a 1-inch or so wide trunk up the center. Twist each long cut strip twice and the shorter ones once, pressing tips firmly against baking stone or sheet.  Brush very lightly with non-dairy milk, press star onto top point, and brush star with a tiny bit more non-dairy milk.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, but remove shapes cut from scraps after 10 or 15 minutes or they will burn. Remove baking sheet with pastry tree from oven, cool slightly, and slide tree onto serving platter. Serve warm or room temperature.

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Best Vegan Salted Maple Brandy (or Bourbon) Pecan Pie
(Classic Texture)

 

If a traditional pecan pie–with even more pecans–is what you crave, this pie is perfection and as easy as, well, you know.

Most recipes call for 2 cups–or even just 1 1/2 cups–pecans. Why?  Mine calls for 3 for the best filling-nut ratio. This is no time to skimp.

A week ago, I published my other favorite pecan pie, though that one has a more custardy texture, as it is made from a tofu and cornstarch-based custard. Bob the omni liked that one but he much prefers this one, which he eats with his chocolate ice cream that is always in the freezer. He did admit that another flavor of ice cream would be optimal.

So serve either pie with vegan vanilla ice cream and/or vegan whipped cream–perhaps a little drizzle of brandy or bourbon–enjoy, and then let us know what you you think. Happy Holidays!

Note: If you eschew booze, just replace it with 3 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, as Veganegg has a somewhat pronounced, slightly savory, flavor that needs countered with the assertive flavor of alcohol or with an acid.

1 prepared vegan pie crust, homemade or purchased

1 1/2 cups pecan pieces

1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Non-stick spray

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

6 tablespoons Veganegg

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup brandy or bourbon

3/4 cup maple syrup

1 cup demerrera sugar

3 tablespoons melted vegan butter

2 tablespoons molasses (not blackstrap)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Topping: vegan vanilla ice cream, vegan whipped cream like So Delicious Cocowhip

Set out pie crust if frozen. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet, spray with nonstick spray, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and toast for 3 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together Veganegg with water and brandy or bourbon. Whisk in all remaining ingredients. Set aside 32 pecan halves and spread all the rest into pie crust. Sprikle with sea salt remaining on baking sheet.  Place pie pan on baking sheet, pour filling evenly over the top. Decorate the top with concentric rings of pecan halves and bake for one hour. Pie will seem quite “loose” but will firm up as it cools.  Because of this, you may need to gently reposition some of your decorative pecan halves.

Cool completely, cover, and chill for a couple of hours.  Serve topped as desired.

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Best Vegan Salted Maple Brandy (or Bourbon) Pecan Pie
(Custardy Texture)

I got inspired AFTER Thanksgiving to experiment with pecan pie. The one at our repast was not vegan, so I couldn’t partake.

On a recent trip to Duck, NC, Bob had a scrumptious pecan tart with bourbon ice cream and salted caramel sauce which I had to taste for research purposes. I felt the caramel sauce was overkill. And I knew I wasn’t going to make ice cream just due to time, so I added the booze to the pie and served the slices with purchased vegan vanilla ice cream. Yes, please.

The question for vegan pecan pie bakers is silken tofu or no?  I say yes, as I was never a fan of syrupy pecan pie. So, I like the slightly more custardy texture of this one, which slices beautifully.  I hope you do too.

As I mentioned, this pie is addicting served with softened vegan vanilla ice cream. And while I deemed the caramel sauce too much of a good thing, everyone will look the other way if you drizzle a hint more brandy or bourbon over the top.

  • 1 prepared vegan crust
  • 3 cups whole pecans
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1 cup demerrera sugar
  • ¾ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon dark molasses
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons brandy or bourbon
  • Juice of half a medium-large lemon (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup soft silken tofu
  • Optional: a few vegan chocolate chips
  • Flaky or coarse sea salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. If pie crust is frozen, remove from freezer.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray, spread pecans in a single layer on sheet, sprinkle very lightly with sea salt, and roast in oven for 3 minutes.  Set aside, but leave oven on.

In a medium saucepan, combine the vegan butter, sugar, corn syrup, molasses, corn starch, flour, and sea salt.  Stir and cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring, for another minute. Remove from heat and stir in brandy or bourbon, vanilla, and almond extract.
In a food processor, process the silken tofu until smooth. Add the maple syrup mixture and pulse again well combined. Reserve 28 of the pecan halves, add half of the remaining pecan halves, and break up the temaining ones as you add. Use a spatula to gently swirl them into the filling. Transfer filling to pie shell. Arrange the reserved pecans on top of the pie in two concentric circles. Dot with chocolate chips if desired.
Place pie on a baking sheet on the middle rack of your oven and bake for about one hour, until the crust is nicely browned and the edges of the pie are set. The center might still be a very slightly jiggly. Remove from oven, sprinkle with just a hint of flaky sea salt like Maldon or just a nice coarse variety and allow to cool completely before serving.
Serve with softened vegan vanilla ice cream (I like So Delicious No Sugar Added) or vegan whipped cream.
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Why Whole Foods Vegan Cornbread Should NEVER
Be Used to Make Stuffing

Image result for whole foods vegan cornbreadIt looks harmless enough, doesn’t it?  But don’t be fooled…

Happily tasked with contributing several items to this year’s Thanksgiving repast, I thought I might reduce my cooking time–though I love to cook almost as much as anyone–by purchasing prepared cornbread for the stuffing. I applaud virtually everything about Whole Foods, so I thought I couldn’t go wrong.  But, I was wrong.  Bad wrong.

As Bob opened each cellophane wrapped hunk, I thought the moist crusts looked very similar to poundcake.  I tasted it and, as best I could tell, it was poundcake–and a very moist one at that–made with cornmeal.  Who would want a bread that sweet with their chili, lentil soup, or any of the rest of the WF family of soups next to which this alleged “cornbread” is sold?  I don’t even care for cake that sweet.

But, I like savory and sweet combos as much as the next gal, so I soldiered on.  Still, this cornbread was so sweet that I was dubious about how compatible the celery, onion, and sage was going to be with these cakey crumbs.  Yet, I didn’t have time to stop and make cornbread from scratch, so Bob persisted, crumbling the cornbread and one baguette into a huge bowl.  And I proceeded with my recipe, adding the aforementioned plus lots of beautifully toasted pecan halves.

As I poured the vegetable stock over the mound of ingredients, I watched in horror as it dissolved into what can only be described as a cookie-dough like consistency.  Desperate, I added the half cup or so of Panko bread crumbs that I had on hand, but it was of no use.  I decided to go ahead and bake it, hoping that science and physics might work some kind of magic in the oven.  But, alas, I pulled it out, tasted it, and my response can only be described as disgust at what was a dense, heavy, pasty, unpleasant-tasting mass.

In a last-ditch effort, I sprinkled some sliced green onion over the top and slid it back in the oven for about 10 more minutes.  There was no appreciable change to the unappetizing mass. I briefly considered melting vegan butter over the top for some salty goodness, but then came to my senses:

I marched straight out the front door, across the little Japanese bridge over our dry river bed, and into the woods where I unceremoniously dumped the whole lot of it into the deep carpet of leaves.  We live on Buchanan Creek which feeds the Chesapeake Bay and I  know from my freelance writing about eco-issues that residents are not supposed to dump fatty ingredients down the sink or onto the ground.  However, I wanted that glob out of our house–I didn’t even want it in a sealed bag in the garage–and fast.

There would be no stuffing this year, but there was more than enough delicious food.  And I didn’t tarnish my reputation as one of the family’s inspired cooks.

I hope your Thanksgiving was earmarked by culinary successes or, at the very least, culinary lessons learned well.  Happy Holidays!

 

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Vegan German Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Yield: 5 dozen cookies

I hope my sweet, stubborn, late paternal grandmother, Mam-ma, is not “rolling over” at what I’ve done to one of her four iconic Christmas cookie recipes, mailed to us wherever we might be if not with her and Pap-pa, packaged in waxed-paper lined tins with the faint aroma of mothballs.

It is hard to improve on perfection and her roll and slice cookies were indeed perfect.  So, my version is not better, just different.  If you want to make Mam-ma’s, simply dispense with the chocolate, topping, and garnish, and enjoy plain, buttery, almond-infused cookies, perfect with tea.

Cookies:

1 cup vegan butter, softened

3/4 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups all purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

Vegan Coconut, Pecan and Dried Cranberry Filling (recipe follows)

Pecan halves or large pieces

 

Cream together in an electric mixer butter, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder.  Turn off mixer and add extracts, and 1/2 cup flour, and incorporate into butter mixture on low speed.  Gradually add remaining flour on low speed, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Divide dough into fourths, roll into logs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, wrap in waxed paper, and chill for 20 minutes or until firm.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice each log into 1/4-inch diagonal slices and place slices 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet, preferably lined with Silpat or parchment paper.  Bake for 8 to 12 minutes (my family likes them a little more “done.”)  Remove the cookie sheets to a wire rack and cool completely. Top each cookie with a teaspoon of filling and garnish with a pecan half.

Vegan Coconut, Pecan and Dried Cranberry Filling:

1 cup unsweetened soymilk (plain, vanilla or vanilla lite would also be good)
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar (I use demerera)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼-1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons cognac or bourbon
Juice of one lemon
½-1 teaspoon of lemon zest
1/3 cup cornstarch
¼ cup water
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 ½ cups pecan pieces or chopped pecans
½ cup (generous) dried cranberries

In a medium saucepan, mix the soymilk, coconut milk, sugar, extracts, cognac or bourbon, and lemon juice and zest. Whisk the cornstarch together with the water and add to soy milk mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until mixture boils and thickens. Cook and stir for one minute after it boils. Remove from heat and stir in coconut, pecans and dried cranberries. Cool to almost room temperature before spreading on layers.



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