Vegan Hazelnut-Orange Sandwich Cookies
with Chocolate Ganache Filling
a gorgeous gourmet gift from your kitchen

These stunning cookies are simple to make but will impress the most serious gourmand in both flavor and appearance.

I like to package them two to a cellophane bag, tied with raffia through a hole punched in my cute (if I do say so) business cards.

Vegan Hazelnut-Orange Sandwich Cookies

3/4 cup sugar (I use demerara)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Pinch of ground cloves

1 cup plus 6 tablespoons vegan butter, softened

3 tablespoons orange liqueur (like Triple Sec) or 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

6 ounces vegan semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 325°.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. Spread 1/4 cup hazelnuts in a skillet or pie plate and toast for about 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

In a food processor, pulse the remaining 1/2 cup hazelnuts with 2 tablespoons sugar intil finely ground. Add the flour, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and pulse to combine well. Add 1 cup butter, broken into hunks, and orange liqueur and pulse until the dough comes together.

On a lightly floured surface, working with half of dough at a time, roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a 1 1/2- to 2-inch cookie cutter, cut cookies out as closely together as possible. Place cookies on baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart. Repeat with remaining half of dough, gently kneading in scraps from first half. Gather scraps from second half, gently knead, and reroll scraps from second half.

Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly colored but the tops are still fairky light, rotating pans after 10 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and allow to cool.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate with the remaining 6 tablespoons butter, whisking until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.

Turn half the cookies over and spoon a small dollop of the chocolate in the center of each of those. Dip the remaining cookies halfway into the chocolate and position over the filled bottoms, pressing gently to seal. Sprinkle the remaining chopped toasted hazelnuts onto the chocolate, pressing gently if necessary, and let the sandwich cookies stand for about 30 minutes until the chocolate is set.  Chill if packaging or transporting.

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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 GLUTEN-FREE Chocolate Cookies
with White Chocolate Chips

Yield: 1 dozen cookies (recipe easily multiplies)

I am not sensitive to gluten–at least not in any noticeable way–so I created these cookies for two reasons: 1) for folks who are, and 2) because I have a summer crush that is quickly turning into a long-term affair with brown rice flour.  It lends to these cookies and, presumably, other baked goods, an ever-so-slight “sandy” texture that reminds me of the commercial Pecan Sandy cookies of my childhood.

To create this recipe, I started with my late mother, Sallie Gough’s, recipe for Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.  I adored both my mother and her cookies.  The recipe scribed in her distinctive hand-writing on a badly stained file card is a testament to the central role Chocolate Crinkles played in my young culinary life.  When my cousin, Dan, would make his annual summer visit from Texas to our home in Mississippi, baking these cookies–dark, almost black, balls rolled in powdered sugar that baked up into flat-ish white cookies with dark rivulets through them–was always on the itinerary along with box sliding on Sewer Hill and epic neighborhood games of Kick the Can.

Note that, since I am not gluten-sensitive, the “trace” of gluten that “may” have been present in my vegan white chocolate chips did not pose a problem for me.  If you are baking for gluten-free cookie lovers, make sure a possible trace is not an issue or look for a brand “without a trace.”

1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup apple sauce (this flavor is not detectable)

1/4 cup vegetable oil (canola or sunflower is fine)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup vegan, gluten-free white chocolate chips (may subsitute vegan, gluten-free chocolate chips)

12 pecan halves.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.  In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients except white chocolate chips and pecan halves.  Make a well in the center and pour in applesauce, vegetable oil, and vanilla.  Whisk together wet and dry ingredients until completely combined and the consistency of any other cookie dough.  Stir in chips.  With a small scoop or tablespoon, scoop up rounded tablespoons of dough and place about 3 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet.  Top each with a pecan half, pressing down gently to ever-so-slightly flatten the cookie.  Bake 12 minutes or until completely set.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on cookie sheet placed on wire rack. Store in airtight container.

 

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Vegan (Practically) Raw Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Gluten-Free)

Yield: 6 cookies

1 cup raw cashews
1 cup coconut flour
12 juicy dates
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup cacao nibs or chocolate chips (chips are not not raw)
1/4 cup broken pecans

In a food processor, process the cashews until a flour-like texture.  Add remaining ingredients except cocoa nibs or chocolate chips and pecans. Process until the texture of a nice dough, but not a nut butter.   Transfer the dough to a medium-size bowl and fold in the cocoa nibs or chocolate chips and pecans.

Shape the cookies by flattening six scoops of dough onto a foil-, wax paper-, or parchment paper- lined cookie sheet.  Freeze for 20 minutes and keep refrigerated in an airtight container.

Note: though these cookies are packed with wholesome ingredients, they are also packed with about 330 calories each. Make them half this size for a dozen cookies with a calorie count that may be easier to swallow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Vegan Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies
One of My Better Homes & Gardens
Test Kitchen Winning Recipes

Yield: 5 dozen cookies

Well, I blew it in terms of posting these not-too-sweet rubry red cookies for Christmas.  But, they would be just as lovely for Valentine’s Day. So, Happy Whatever!

Back in the day, when Better Homes & Gardens Magazine ran monthly reader recipe contests, these cookies won an award.  I brought them back tthis year for our Christmas Cheer Open House with a drizzle, instead of a dip, of white chocolate.  I think they are magically beautiful…add silver or gold nonpareils if you desire some sparkle.

 

1 cup vegan butter, softened

3/4 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1-1 ounce bottle red food coloring (choose an organic, vegan version)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

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

8 ounces melted vegan white chocolate (I order white chocolate chips online)

Optional: silver or gold nonpareils

Cream together in an electric mixer butter, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder.  Turn off mixer and add food coloring, extracts, and 1/2 cup flour, and incorporate into butter mixture on lowest speed so as not to splatter.  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.  Remove the cookie sheets to a wire rack and cool completely.  Drizzle cookies with melted white chocolate (I use a pastry bag fitted with a small round tube for this task.)  Decorate with nonpareils if desired.

 

 

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Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate-Chocolate Chip,
White Chocolate Chip, & Dried Cranberry Cookies

gluten-free-chocolate-chocolate-chip-white-chocolate-chip-and-dried-cranberry-cookiesYield: approximately 2 dozen cookies

Just in time for the holidays are these handsome and festive cookies appropriate for even the most gluten intolerant on your guest list.

I am not a gluten-free baker but, occasionally, I make treats for my high school art students.  And, in my large Advanced and AP Studio class of 31 students, I learned that I have one girl with a gluten sensitivity.  So, feeling badly about her not being able to indulge in the treats I shared with them, I decided to experiment.

A few years back, I created a recipe for gluten-free cookies made with white bean puree and chickpea flour. They were delicious, but not as handy to make as if they didn’t call for the white beans.  And, I recently learned that my small neighborhood Kroger no longer carries chickpea flour, though they seem to stock every other kind of flour imaginable.  So, I chose one that was less expensive than most and that I thought might have a similar texture to the chickpea flour, namely brown rice flour.  Good decision.

Whie some gluten-free baked goods call for special flour blends, xantham gum, egg substitutes, and the like, I wanted mine to be straightforward and absent of ingredients that most bakers wouldn’t have on hand.  As a result, these absolutely delicious and beautifully-textured cookies were born.

I had found, through previous experiments with gluten-free cookies, that adding almond extract, in addition to vanilla extract, helps mellow any “off” taste that results from using flours that are stronger tasting than all purpose white or white whole wheat.  But, it occurred to me that a teaspoon of espresso powder might further counteract those sharper flavors of some of the alternative flours without lending a pronounced coffee flavor.  And I was right.

As for texture, these are a little crispy and ever-so-slightly sandy–like the commercial “Pecan Sandies” of my youth–which everyone who has tasted has found very appealing.  And I hope you do.

I served these with Prosecco to guests who stopped by after a concert.  It was a lovely pairing and a special way to end the evening.

 

1/4 cup vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup demerera sugar (or 1/2 cup granulated and 1/2 cup brown sugar)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon espresso powder (or coffee/instant coffee ground to a powder in a spice grinder)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup brown rice flour (I use white whole wheat when not baking gluten-free)

1/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Special Dark)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons non-dairy milk (or up to 4)

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

1/2 cup vegan white chocolate chips (I ordered these online) + 1/4 cup additional (optional)

1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (I found a bag of pre-chopped ones) + 2 tablespoons additional (optional)

Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper; set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat butter and shortening until fluffy.  Beat in sugar and continue beating until well creamed.  Add extracts, espresso pwder, salt, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda, and mix on medium-low speed just until well-combined, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Mix in the non-dairy milk, adding an additional tablespoon or two if necessary, as the brown rice flour is very absorbant.  On lowest speed, mix in both typs of chips and dried cranberries.  Using a tablespoon or small scoop, arrange mounds of dough about 2-inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Flatten with your middle three fingers to about 1/2-inch thick.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until desired doneness is reached.  Remove baking sheet to wire rack and allow cookies to cool completely before removing to a serving platter.  If desired, drizzle with 1/4 cup white chocolate chips, melted; I use a pastry bag for this task.  If more color is desired, press a couple of tablespoons of dried cranberries into drizzled white chocolate, distributing among cookies.

 

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Vegan Lemon-Espresso-Lavender Cookies
with Chocolate Chunks and Hazelnuts

Lemon-Espresso-Lavender Cookies with Chocolate Chunks and HazelnutsYield: 8 very large cookies (about 4 1/2 inches in diameter)

This Thursday is my yoga instructor, Angela Phillip’s, birthday. But, after yesterday’s class, I won’t see her until next Saturday.  So I decided to make her this stack ‘o scrumptious cookies and gift her with them early.

Before yoga, though, I had a meeting with my attorney about my late husband’s estate, so I took him a couple too as a “thank you” for meeting me on a Saturday (though I’m sure that half-hour was billable).  This coming week is h*** week with exams and graduation all piled up on top of each other and there were documents I needed to sign, so a Saturday meeting was necessary.

But what kind of cookie to make within the vast cookie universe?  Last Sunday, a neighbor with whom another neighbor-friend and I get together every few Sundays–and who is decidedly not a cook–gave me some culinary lavender that someone had given her.  So, I knew I wanted to use it.  And I had some hazelnuts leftover from another recipe (though any nut would be delicious), some chocolate chunks and dark cocoa powder because I just like to keep them on hand, and some espresso powder.  All of those ingredients sounded compatible and tasty together, but I felt they needed a little something to brighten the flavors.

I had a lemon, but that seemed odd until I rememberd that, in some establishments, a dimunitive cup of the dark bittersweet elixirknown as espresso is often served with a fragrant shave of lemon peel.  There seems to be no conclusive answer as to whether this practice is authentic to Italy nor as to its origin.  Some speculate that espresso cups were wiped “clean” with lemon peel during WWII or that the lemon oil, rubbed around the rim of the cup, detracts from poorly roasted or extracted espresso. Regardless, it looks pretty, and, as inspirations go, was just what these cookies needed.

Not only will you love their flavor: complex, subtle, and not-too-sweet, but the texture.  As Angela broke one of the behemoth cookies into pieces for each member of the class at the end of our practice, she practically squealed, “Oooh, these are the perfect texture!”

Angela with Cookies on Her HeadFirst, though, she had to pose with the wrapped stack of them on her head like a yogi crown.  To package, I simply placed each cookie on a large muffin liner, stacked them, and tied them, wrapped them with plastic wrap, and tied it with raffia before slipping them inside a gift bag.

1/2 cup vegan butter

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup granulated sugar (I use demerera)

2 to 3 tablespoons culinary lavender (sold in bulk at health food stores, Whole Foods–I think,–etc.)

1 tablespoon cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s dark chocolate)

1 tablespoon espresso powder (or very finely ground coffee beans)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

Zest of 1 large lemon

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

Up to 1/4 cup non-dairy milk (I use soy or almond)

3/4 cup vegan chocolate chunks or chips

3/4 cup chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with Silpat (silicone baking sheet) or or parchment paper.  In  bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  On medium-low speed, beat in lavender,cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, vanilla, and lemon zest, just until combined.  Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time on low speed, alternating with 1 tablespoon of non-dairy milk at a time if necessary, to make a soft-firm dough.  Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary and when completely combined, stir in chocolate chunks and hazelnuts on low speed.  Using a 1/4 to 1/3 cup measure–or an ice cream scoop–scoop out 8 mounds of dough onto prepared baking sheet, leaving plenty of space between cookies.  Press with fingers to about 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick, or about 4 1/2 inches in diameter.  Cookies shouldn’t be touching, but they won’t spread much during baking.  Bake for approximately 15 to 18 minutes or until set and just starting to brown.  Remove from oven and let cool completely on pan.  Store in an airtight container or package for gift-giving.

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Day 19: Kale & Sundried Tomato Pizza AND Sherried Mushroom Bruschetta–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Kale Pizza(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.

Today I have a lot to write about, so grab a cup of coffee and get comfy. Tuesday night, Betsy DiJulio, the author of The Blooming Platter Cookbook, came to my house to cook with me!! So excited!!

Of course I did the usual when someone is coming over – vacuum up the dog hair, clean the bathroom (remember I have boys!) and clean my kitchen. But I wanted to impress so I chose an appetizer and a dessert from the book to make beforehand. I chose Orange-Espresso Chocolate Chip and Hazelnut Cookies. I followed the recipe exactly being super careful not to inadvertently put something non-vegan in them. Everything was going well until I went to get my coffee beans out to grind one teaspoon of espresso powder. I could not find them anywhere. I love those beans. I had bought them at a little coffee roasting shop on the way to Luray, VA – but they were nowhere. So I racked my brain to come up with an alternative. Finally I ripped open a little Keurig cup and ran it through my grinder to make it into powder. It worked! One teaspoon of “espresso” done!

Next step was the chocolate chips. That’s when I saw the word “vegan” before the words “chocolate chips”. Noooooo!! I had not even considered that my chips were not vegan. Since I didn’t have any idea where to start looking for vegan chips, I was not going to the store so I divided the dough in half. One half gets real chocolate chips and the other will be Orange “Coffee” Hazelnut Cookies. (Thankfully she brought an amazing dessert so we didn’t need them.) I did, however, bake a test batch before dinner and I must say that these cookies are incredible. I have a hard time believing that this dough does not have eggs. They bake up just like any other cookies. My son looked skeptical and politely declined them but later I found the half empty container on the counter so he must like them too.

Mushrooms with SherryThe appetizer I chose was Sherried Mushroom Bruschetta. I have been looking forward to trying this recipe for a while – it sounded so good! I loved putting this together with the obvious exception that I had to use my dumb food processor. Later in the evening I did learn that silken tofu is different than the refrigerated tofu I used but no matter – I think it came out great. [Betsy’s note: it was perfection!] I got a bit heavy handed with the red pepper flakes but no one seemed to mind. My son only had a problem with the gray color but once he tasted it, he was sold.

So now my preparations are done…until I sat down and read through the recipe we had chosen to make. The pizza dough for the Kale and Sundried Tomato Pizza takes two hours to rise! I decided if I didn’t take this part on by myself we would not be eating til 10 PM. Even though I have never made pizza dough, I put on the how-hard-can-it-be attitude and got busy. And it really wasn’t too hard. I did not cheat either. I really used wheat flour. I had bought this to make dog biscuits a while ago and it was sealed up in the back of my cabinet. Nothing flew out of it when I opened it so we were good to go.

As soon as I got the dough set up to rise, Betsy arrived. She came in with an amazing looking cake roll with salted caramel icing. OK we can skip dinner now! It turned out to be a girl’s night since my husband was out for the evening and my son left for his Krav Maga class. (Oh, before he left, he pulled out a container of pork BBQ leftovers from the fridge and starts eating it out of the container right there in the kitchen. I was cringing, hoping Betsy wouldn’t notice…but she did. She was so cool about though. And that’s my family!!).

Anyway we chose a wine and started cooking. She promised me I would love the kale but I was skeptical watching her cut it up. She insisted I try it raw. She ate hers, but mine ended up in the sink. Sorry! I couldn’t even pretend to like it raw. Not good! Next she started the “cheese.” This was not my area – you know how much I cheat with real cheese – so I stepped back and watched her make it. I loved it! Would I give up my cheese for it? No, but I really loved it.

Betsy Making Pizza CrustWhen the dough was done rising, she showed me how to press it out by hand into a circle. Then we prepared the pan to sauté the kale – I forgot to turn the burner on but that was the only glitch. We put the pizza together and got it into the oven. Then we got to just hang out, she met my turtle, Desiree, and we went outside to check out my herb garden. My dog Allie was already her best friend at this point. Before long the pizza was out of the oven and ready. We took some pictures (of course!) and then served it up.

My son was back from class at this point and joined us for dinner. We loved the pizza! Even with kale!! It was flavorful and salty and the kale was very tender. We agreed later it may have been too salty because I only had course sea salt and no grinder. [Betsy’s note: totally my fault; I cook with coarse sea salt and I just wasn’t careful–must have been the wine and the great conversation.]   My husband was quick to point out the saltiness too when he tried it later – this from a guy who snacks on bouillon cubes?! Really?

The time finally came when I could try the cake she brought. OMG! So good! As soon as she posts that recipe I will be lifting it right off her website.

We had so much fun cooking and laughing together but the time came when she did have to get back home to her puppies. I loved learning so many new ways of cooking healthier. I love that she is so non-judgmental about my family’s food choices and is supportive of how I am incorporating her amazing recipes into my way of life. She is one of the sweetest, most gracious people I know and I am glad I can call her my friend. It really was a great evening.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

 

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