Category Archives: Holidays

Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies made Vegan + Gluten Free

Tate’s Chocolate Chip cookies are quite possibly the best cookies ever.  It’s been almost 5 years since I’ve had one, but I can still remember how buttery and crisp they tasted.  Many allergy friendly desserts leave much to be desired, and I’m constantly trying new recipes whenever I have a sweets craving.  This one from the Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook is the best recipe I’ve made yet.  Even with my adaptations it’s excellent.  I think because I used golden brown sugar instead of dark brown, they came out like more traditional cookies; but evenso they are SO good.  They taste buttery, albeit not crispy like original Tate’s cookies, and hit the spot!  The texture is good and it got the B seal of approval, who wanted to eat just cookies for dinner after I made them.  Feel free to swap out your traditional flour, eggs, and butter – I know they’ll still taste wonderful.

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Best Vegan + GF Chocolate Chip Cookies

yields about 34 cookies

adapted from Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook

INGREDIENTS

2 cups King Arthur all-purpose baking mix

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp kosher salt

1 cup vegan butter (2 sticks; I used the MELT buttery sticks)

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar (golden)

1 tsp water

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs via egg replacer, like Follow Your Heart

2 cups vegan chocolate chips (I used Equal Exchange allergy friendly brand)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with a Silpat or parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugars.  Add the water and vanilla.  Mix the ingredients until they are just combined. Add the “eggs” and mix them lightly.  Stir in the flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips, don’t overmix the dough.
  4. Drop the cookies 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets using two tablespoons or an ice cream scoop.  Use 1 tablespoon if you want to make smaller cookies.  [I got about 9 cookies on each baking sheet, leaving plenty of room for them to spread].
  5. Bake them for 12-18 minutes until the edges and centers are browned.  15-18 minutes was the best timing for me, erring on the latter time helped them spread more to the size of traditional Tate’s cookies.  They won’t be thin and crisp like Tate’s cookies, but more fluffy like a Chip’s Ahoy or traditional chocolate chip cookie.
  6. Remove the cookies and cool on a wire rack.
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Visiting Tate’s Bake Shop in 2012

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Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Chicken

The other part of our Christmas Eve Chinese Food meal was some really great sweet & sour chicken.  I’ve made other iterations of this dish before, and this recipe is by far the best.  True to great Chinese food, it tastes even better the next day.  I made it in a Dutch Oven, rather than a slow cooker, and used 1/2 white and 1/2 dark meat, rather than all dark meat like the recipe called for.  I completely forgot to add the tomato paste (added at the very end) and it still tasted great.  This sauce has just the right thickness and a balanced flavor.  B wasn’t interested in trying it yet – he preferred his “teriyaki” chicken instead (will post that later) – but Scott and I loved it.

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Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Chicken

serves 6-8

Adapted from Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well and Feel Great by Danielle Walker

INGREDIENTS

1 lb chicken thighs, boneless and skinless

1 lb chicken breast, boneless and skinless

1/3 cup coconut aminos (or soy sauce)

1/3 cup honey

2 tbsp orange juice

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp avocado oil

3 cloves garlic, minced (I used Dorot frozen cubes)

1/2 tsp ground ginger

3/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

1/4 cup chicken broth (if using a dutch oven)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Trim any visible fat from chicken and place in a singer layer in the bottom of the slow cooker, or dutch oven.
  2. Place the remaining ingredients (except broth) in a small bowl and mix together to make the sauce.
  3. Pour over the chicken to coat, making sure to get both sides.
  4. Add chicken broth if using a dutch oven – omit this step if using a slow cooker.
  5. DUTCH OVEN – Preheat oven to 350.  Cook chicken, covered, for 30 minutes, or until chicken comes out at 165 degrees.   SLOW COOKER – Cook on low for 4 hours.
  6. Remove the chicken and cut into cubes.  Set aside.
  7. Spoon any extra fat from the sauce.  Put remaining sauce into to a saucepan and simmer on medium-low heat until sauce has reduced by 1/2.  I tested the thickness of the sauce by occasionally dipping a piece of chicken in the sauce, to see how it coated the chicken.  I turned off the heat, once it reached the thickness I preferred.
  8. Return chicken to sauce, and keep heated until ready to serve.

Awesome Mushroom Lo Mein

Chinese food is one of my husband’s favorite cuisines. Come the days leading up to Christmas Eve, it’s all he talks about.  It’s been challenging finding great Chinese food recipes to make at home…until now.  This Lo-Mein recipe is awesome.  The flavors are so good, it was really hard for me to stop noshing on it between finishing making it and serving it.  The recipe called for steak seasoning, but since we don’t cook red meat at home, I splurged on this seasoning by Nom Nom Paleo instead, and it’s definitely worth it.  I opted to use sweet chili sauce instead of chili paste, because all the options at the store had wheat and/or soy in them.  I read that Avocado oil can be subbed for sesame oil because it’s also nutty in flavor – that worked great here!  If you’re craving Chinese food, these noodles are worth a try.  Happy holidays!

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Mushroom Lo Mein

serves 8

adapted from Whitney Bond

INGREDIENTS

Mushrooms

2 8oz. packs mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and quartered

2 tbsp coconut aminos

2 tbsp rice vinegar (unseasoned)

1 tsp minced ginger (fresh or from jar)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp avocado oil

1 tsp Magic Mushroom Powder (recipe here or sold at Whole Foods)

Noodles

10 oz. brown rice spaghetti noodles (I like Tinkeyada)

1/4 cup coconut aminos

1/2 tbsp Sriacha

1 tbsp rice vinegar (unseasoned)

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp sweet chili sauce (I like Thai Kitchen brand)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp grated ginger (I use jarred by Ginger People)

1 tsp avocado oil

TOPPING – Scallions, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare mushrooms first.  Mix all ingredients for the sauce together in a large bowl.  When well combined, toss quartered mushrooms in sauce.  In a large cast iron or nonstick skillet, add mushrooms and extra sauce to pre-heated pan.  Cook until mushrooms have cooked down in size and majority of the sauce is evaporated.  Remove mushrooms from heat and set aside in a separate bowl.
  2. Prepare noodles according to package.  Cook and drain immediately, rinsing with cold water/according to package instructions.  Return cooked, drained, and rinsed noodles back to the pan.
  3. While noodles are cooking, mix all sauce ingredients together in a bowl.
  4. After noodles are returned to the pan, add in the sauce and toss well.  Add mushrooms, and stir until well combined.  Cook over low heat until warmed throughout.
  5. Enjoy!

Wednesday Wishlist

I’m always looking at new cookbooks and in my dream kitchen would have a separate library (and sitting room) for them like Ina Garten.  I recently discovered checking out e-books from the library, and have been looking at several I’d love to add to my permanent collection.  I’m a minimalist when it comes to kitchen appliances, partly because we have a small kitchen, and mainly because the thought of more to clean after meal prep is pretty much the last thing I want to do.  But cookbooks, can never have too many of those.

Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Celebrations: A Year of Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes for Every Occasion

This cookbook includes grain free and dairy free recipes for a year’s worth of holidays and seasonal celebrations – there are plenty of kid-friendly recipes, holiday sweets, and party foods like sweet and sour meatballs.  It’s kind of hard to not want to make it all!

The Moosewood Cookbook: 40th Anniversary Edition by Mollie Katzen

There’s something about the lack of pictures and handwritten style of the recipes that’s always made this book so appealing and comforting to me.  I recently made the Minestrone Soup and it couldn’t have been easier, and more delicious. The cool thing about the soups is they all were tested with water instead of stock, which makes them even easier to throw together mid-week.  I was first introduced to these cookbooks from a nutritionist I worked with in college.  Moosewood is a vegetarian restaurant that’s been around since 1963 in Ithaca, New York — many of the cookbook recipes are pretty easy to adapt to gluten-free and dairy-free.  SIDENOTE:  If you’re looking for an inspiring follow on Facebook, Mollie Katzen, is a great add!

Kitchen Matters by Pamela Salzman

OK, I own this one, and it’s been the best cookbook I’ve read/used in a long time.  Almost all the recipes have tasted great, and they’re all very easy to put together.  I discovered her through some rabbit hole I was down on Instagram one day, and I’m glad I found her.  My favorite recipes are the Chicken Shawarma, Slow Cooker Burrito Bowl Chicken, and Chocolate Zucchini brownies.  The main reason I’ve never like cooking chicken is because I’m horrible at it…until this cookbook.  The two chicken recipes I’ve tried have resulted in perfectly cooked chicken almost every time.  Many recipes also feature tips to accommodate dietary restrictions.  Her website is awesome too, and every week she writes a Dinner Planner for the week.  Her approach has helped me cut down on our food budget, find recipes our whole family can enjoy, and inspire me to try new ways to be organized about the week.  DREAM = taking one of her LA-based cooking classes.

Feeding a Family: A Real-Life Plan for Making Dinner Work by Sarah Waldman

I found this cookbook while searching library books, and it’s such a cool format – organized by Season, and every recipe includes a way to adapt it for a baby to enjoy as well.  What a great way to make meal prep easier!  We’ve tried the Autumn Meatballs and Butternut Squash Casserole – both were delicious!  I adapted both for gluten free, dairy free – they weren’t perfect when tweaked, but the flavors were incredible; especially, the Butternut Squash Casserole.

Feed the Resistance:  Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved by Julia Turshen

I love her earlier cookbook Small Victories for its easy recipes and ways to alter them to be even simpler than they start, not to mention most of the dishes include basic ingredients.  I keep seeing this new cookbook of hers pop up in my feeds, and I’m so curious about the recipes and the content – from what I can tell it seems like an all around inspiring win.

Skinnytaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow Cooker Recipes by Gina Homolka

One of the best cookbooks out there because the recipes are easy and contrary to the title, you don’t have to own a slow cooker to make the recipes.  Within the first few pages, she includes a chart of how to make all slow cooker recipes on the stovetop or with a dutch oven.  We’ve had the Chicken Pumpkin Chili, Taco Chili and Teriyaki Chicken (adapted with Coconut Aminos).  All are really delicious, super easy, and feel like an indulgence without splurging.  Though I’ve yet to own this cookbook, I’ve looked through it at the bookstore and it has beautiful pictures and the format is easy to follow (even includes markings if the recipe adapts to dietary restrictions). I have her first cookbook, and this one is drastically better – the recipes are easier and more appealing.  

Butternut Squash Hummus

This hummus is amazing, and, this recipe may end up being an all-time favorite.  (What else would I expect from Ina Garten?!)  It does take a bit more time to make than traditional hummus recipes, but trust me, you will be happy you took the extra time to prepare this.  There’s something so interesting (and addicting) about the butternut squash roasted with cinnamon, and then blended together with tahini and yes, even sriracha.  Sweet, savory, and an ever so slight kick.  The hardest part is figuring out what to eat it with, because this recipe makes A LOT of hummus!  If you’re looking for something to bring for Thanksgiving, try this – we think it’s sure to be a hit (and even Vegan friendly).

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Butternut Squash Hummus

adapted from Cooking for Jeffrey

serves 6-8 according to cookbook, but I think it’s more like 12-18

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 lb butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp kosher sea salt

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, liquid reserved

1/4 cup tahini

1/2 cup non-dairy plain yogurt* (I used Forager brand)

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

5 cloves garlic, finely minced

3/4 – 1 tsp Sriracha (depending on preference)

Pure Grade A Maple Syrup, for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the butternut squash with olive oil, salt, pepper and cinnamon.  Toss with hands, and arrange in a single layer on a half sheet baking pan.  Cook for 25 minutes, until tender.  Let cool for 15 minutes.

In a food processor, fitted with a blade, add all ingredients except the liquid reserved from the garbanzo beans and the maple syrup.  Once butternut squash is cooled, set aside 1/4 cup of the squash and add the rest to the food processor and pulse everything to combine.  If you want it smoother (I like it this way), add the liquid reserved from the garbanzo beans in small increments until you reach your desired consistency.  Be careful not to puree completely – it should have some texture.

Finish by putting hummus in a medium sized serving bowl.  Top with reserved butternut squash and drizzle a little maple syrup if desired.  It should last up to 3 days in the fridge.

*You could also use traditional dairy plain yogurt.  The recipe calls for plain whole-milk Greek yogurt.  I don’t eat dairy, so I subbed for an equitable vegan option.  If using a vegan option, I like nut-based plain yogurts, and make sure they don’t include “carrageenan” in the ingredients – not only is it questionable in my research if it causes digestion problems, but I’ve also found with it, the texture of the yogurt can be off too.  My favorite non-dairy plain yogurts to use in recipes are Kite Hill (almond yogurt) and Forager (cashew yogurt).  I also don’t eat soy, so I’m not sure how soy yogurt would taste, though I’m sure as long as it’s plain, it could be easily substituted.

Sweet Potato Kugel

Cooking is the easiest way for me to zone out. I think that’s why I like making new recipes so much – I can focus on something and completely forget everything else going on around me. And, when there’s a day that I can go spinning and cook new recipes- well, that’s the ultimate. 

I read about this Sweet Potato Kugel recipe on a holiday round up from the cooks that authored The Yiddish Kitchen. I made bagels from their cookbook a few months ago, and I completely forgot about this kugel. I didn’t grow up on kugel like most. Actually, I was so particular, I would only eat it at my friend’s mom house, because then I knew it would be good! Anyway, this recipe is super easy and simple.  I even found precut sweet potatoes at Trader Joes to make the recipe even easier to make. You could certainly use regular sugar (the color will likely be different if you do) and you could use full-fat coconut milk, which probably makes it taste even more like the holidays. Enjoy!


Sweet Potato Kugel

Adapted from The Yiddish Kitchen

Serves 8,12,16, or 25 – depending on how you cut it 

INGREDIENTS

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into rubble or noodles with a spiral slider or vegetable peeler (or 1.5 pkgs of Sweet Potato Ribbons from Trader Joes)

3 tbsp olive oil 

Canola oil for greasing the pan

1 cup canned lite coconut milk (or full-fat, canned)

1/3 cup coconut sugar

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375. Grease an 8×8 inch casserole dish. Then, in a skillet, heat the sweet potatoes in the olive oil over medium heat for about 6-8 minutes, or until sweet potato softens. 

While the sweet potato is cooking, mix all the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl, stirring well to combine. Once the sweet potatoes are ready, remove them from the heat and incorporate into the egg mixture. 

Next, pour the mix into the prepared casserole dish and bake for about 30-50* minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Slice and serve warm. 

*the recipe says 30-40 minutes, but maybe because I used lite coconut milk instead of full fat, it took more like 50 minutes. After 35 minutes, I kept adding 5 more until it was set – the center took the longest time to do so. 

Grandpa’s Breakfast Potatoes

As I’ve mentioned before, my Grandpa loved to cook, as did both of my Grandmothers.  Of all their specialties, Grandpa’s breakfast potatoes are one of my all-time favorites.  Growing up, breakfast was always an occasion.  Aside from the great food, and something cracking someone up into a fit of laughter, it was where we discussed what was for dinner.  What’s more important than that?!  Not to mention, the potatoes themselves were special because they were pretty much the only time I remember eating them, other than on a holiday.  With Passover during the past week, we had Shabbat Sha-Breakfast last Friday night, and I decided it would be fun to make Grandpa’s potatoes.  My only challenge was figuring out a spice combination similar to his secret seasonings mixture (which made everything taste better).  My Grandpa set a high standard for this recipe, but I think I came pretty close.  Next, I’ll try to make my Grandma’s coffee cake, that she always wanted “just a sliver” of.  Yum!

Grandpa's Breakfast Potatoes

Grandpa’s Breakfast Potatoes

Grandpa’s Potatoes
serves 2-4

1 cup – 1 1/2 cups diced potatoes (frozen or pre-packaged)
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
Kosher salt
Garlic powder
Paprika
Fresh ground black pepper

1. Heat a large nonstick pan over low-medium heat and add olive oil. Add onions. After a few minutes add a small pinch of salt and some pepper. Saute until starting to brown.
2. Add potatoes and cook until start to soften. Add a few shakes of garlic powder and paprika. Add more pepper, if desired.
3. Cook until potatoes are desired consistency.
4. Serve hot and enjoy!

Slow Cooker Tomato Basil Soup

It’s that time of year when I start to gather recipes that I can use during Passover.  While I’ve made the Barefoot Contessa’s Tomato Basil Soup in years past, I just found a new recipe from Phoebe Lapine, that’s likely to replace it.  As the title suggests, it is a slow cooking recipe (about 5 hours), followed up with a quick blend of the mixture, leaving you with a delicious tomato soup with a kick.  It’s a great to make during the weekend, with enough leftovers for the start of your week.  Best part for me, no dairy and minimal clean up!  Will this make your Passover list?

Some notes

  • I used 2 tbsp. of olive oil, instead of 3 tbsp
  • My carrots were small, so I used 4
  • I used Tabatchnick Chicken Broth, only because I find it generally adds a good flavor to tomato soups.  However, next time I make it, will be trying with No-Chicken Broth
  • I used 1/2 tbsp. Kosher salt, instead of 1 tbsp.
  • Instead of a blender, I used an immersion blender, for a few seconds.
  • I think this recipe yields more like 10 servings

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Homemade Pico De Gallo

Attempted to make a Vegan 7 Layer Dip this weekend (will share that later), and in the process tested out a great recipe for homemade Pico de Gallo.  It’s incredibly easy to make, DELICIOUS, and yields a decent amount.  Although, it’s so good, not sure how it could last more than 24 hours!

Some notes

  • I made this the night before I served it, and it created a fair amount of liquid in the container.  Next time, when putting into a serving bowl, I would use a slotted spoon, so it’s not so watery.
  • Use the seeds from the jalapeno if you want to make it spicier.
  • Truth be told, I started with 2 tomatoes, and mixed in with the onion and cilantro.  I added more tomatoes, until it looked like there was an even tomato to onion ratio.  That’s the goal.
Homemade Pico de Gallo

Homemade Pico de Gallo

Homemade Pico de Gallo
(adapted from Pioneer Woman)
Yields about 4 cups

4 on the vine organic tomatoes, chopped small
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
1 large bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 lime
Kosher salt, to taste

Place the first four ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, stir together. Squeeze juice of one lime on top. Stir again. Add a pinch or two of salt, to taste. Will last up to 24 hours in fridge.

Struffoli Inspired Pancakes

One of the perks to winter holidays, is the feasibility in taking a day or two off from work.  Last Friday, we did just that and with our spin class set for mid-morning, I had some time to make us a hot breakfast beforehand.  In gathering ingredients to make us Egg Pancakes, I spotted some sprinkles in the pantry that reminded me of Struffoli that I’ve seen made on Giada at Home as an Italian Christmas treat.  With that in mind, once each pancake was done, I topped them with some syrup and sprinkles – just like that, our plain breakfast, became a colorful treat!  Next time you’re making breakfast for yourself, or company, this is a great way to start the day off smiling.  (Heads up that the coloring from the sprinkles melts, and ends up as color swirls.)

Struffoli Pancakes
adapted from Bethenny’s Faux Pancake
serves 1

1 egg
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. raw sugar
1/4 tsp. Earth Balance Butter
Sugar-free Syrup
Sugar sprinkles

Heat a 8-inch nonstick pan on medium-low heat. In a mixing bowl, combine first four ingredients and whisk together. Set aside. Melt the 1/4 tsp. butter in pan and spread around base and side of pan with silicone spatula. Pour egg mixture into pan and let cook until edges begin to brown and egg mixture begins to solidify enough to be able to flip on other side. Flip over and cook another few minutes. Slide pancake onto a dinner plate. Pour a little syrup and a few shakes of sprinkles. Enjoy!

Struffoli Pancake

Struffoli Pancake

Struffoli via Live Love Pasta