Tuesday, August 17, 2010

TWD: Oatmeal Breakfast Bread... Veganized.

Yes, these muffins are vegan.

I know. I know I told you that I didn't see myself trying to veganize my baking. It's just not something that generally interests me, particularly with certain substitutions (like margarine or soy-processed products). But, I have a good excuse for this one.

I made this bread (actually, I made muffins) vegan, because I made it for a friend of mine who has recently gone vegan. Like for reals vegan. None of this wimpy 30 day challenge stuff. No sirree, she's gone truly vegan. Since I'm all about sharing my baked goods, I knew that I needed to try and make these vegan, if I could, so that I could share them with her. And I lucked out when I read over the recipe.

The recipe lends itself to veganizing. For one... it's a quick bread recipe, which in my experience, I've found quick bread recipes to be forgiving as heck to modifications... you can make it healthier, you can make it lighter, you can make it more fattening... whatever you do, it usually still turns out delicious. But, can you make it vegan?

The recipe already used applesauce and a tiny bit of oil as it's fat. So, I didn't have to worry about subbing out butter. The problem laid in two ingredients: Eggs and Buttermilk or Whole Milk.

What to do? Well, I subbed a smashed up banana to replace the eggs and I used unsweetened almond milk to replace the milk (I didn't even worry about trying to make the milk buttermilk, though I could have with a little vinegar in the milk).

The batter came together nicely and quickly and I had these bad boys in the oven within about 5 minutes of starting the process.

To be completely honest, I didn't have high hopes. I've had delicious vegan baked goods before, but I just assumed that my first foray into the genre would be lackluster. I figured that my banana and almond milk substitutions weren't good enough. That there were some other fancy dancy baking products that cost an arm and a leg that I should have bought and used instead.

But I'll be damned if these weren't some of the BEST muffins I've ever had. Not even one of the best vegan muffins, but one of the best muffins, period. Delicious. Sweet (I think, I probably should have accounted for the additional sweetness of the banana, and cut back on the sugar, but D-A-M-N I loved them being so freaking sweet), spicy, moist without being wet, and a tender crumb.

I mean, really... this is a kick-ass recipe. I will be making these again and again. And I've already got more ideas for more modifications... maybe I could make it a slightly healthier vegan muffin. But, I shouldn't get too far ahead of myself and just enjoy the muffins as they are now... delicious and animal friendly.

Oatmeal Breakfast Bread
Brilliant Recipe by Dorie Greenspan
Chosen for Tuesdays with Dorie baking group, by Natalie of Oven Love.

I know, right? Who knew you could take the taste of an oatmeal cookie and put it into the form of a moist, tender bread or muffin??? It's truly genious. The cinnamon is fragrant and alluring and the pop of the dried fruit (I used raisins) is like a little firework in your mouth amongst the sturdy, yet soft oatmeal.

Yes, I'm getting poetical on your ass, but this is truly a delicious recipe. It really is like an oatmeal raisin cookie in a softer, gentler form.

The substitutions I made: I made a half recipe and got exactly 12 muffins (although my vegan recipe didn't rise at all, so I might could have gotten 10 really full muffins). I used white whole wheat flour, I subbed one small banana smashed for the 1 egg, and unsweetened almond milk for the milk. I also used raisins and didn't have any walnuts or pecans, so I left those out of the topping.

Do yourself a favor.... make this recipe and make it vegan! I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

You can find the full recipe here on Natalie of Oven Love's Blog.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these cookies back in May. Which turned out to be the month of Birthdays for me. Four friends and one brother all had birthdays in the month of May. What the heck? I didn't realize I knew so many May babies.

It was actually a good thing, because if it hadn't been for these birthdays, I likely wouldn't have seen a bunch of these friends during the course of that month. And am kind of wishing that I'd had lots of friends with birthdays in June and July, too! I have been insanely busy the past 3 months or so. But, I'm not complaining. Not at all actually... the things I've been doing have been awesome: I've been to California, Cincinnati, Utah, and New York. I've gotten to spend a lot of time with friends that I don't get to see very often on all these trips and I've ran in some really cool races and places. Aside from traveling, my workload has also increased greatly in the last few months. But, you know what? I'm really enjoying that, too. I'm learning new things and am just grateful that in this economy, my job and company is doing so incredibly well. I'm really blessed. And, I know it's easy to get stressed out when you're so busy, but I make a conscious effort to just enjoy it all and take it in. Being busy can be a really great thing, if you let it be.

So, even though I had all this stuff going on, I was still thrilled to get to celebrate my friends birthdays with them.

Normally, I would have made my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, but it requires a little extra time to chill out in the fridge, etc. So, I turned to one of my favorite bloggers, Deb at Smitten Kitchen and perused her recipe index for a suitable cookie recipe.

I found a recipe that sounded perfect, Crispy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. How could I go wrong, right? And I was right, these cookies were delicious. They weren't all that crispy (which was fine by me), but they were chewy and baked up really well. Nice and sturdy, but not too thick and delicious. The recipe is exactly how a chocolate chip cookie recipe should be: straight forward, easy to follow, with easily accessible ingredients. The perfect birthday cookie recipe.

Crispy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Found on the Smitten Kitchen Website.

These cookies turned out sturdy and tasty. They definitely had a good chew to them which is of utmost importance to me. Don't be turned off by the "crispy" in the title, if you're a chewy fan. The crisp is subtle and they aren't greasy at all like some crispy cookies can be.

The only substitute I made was to use almond extract instead of vanilla. But, that's only because I was out of vanilla. Good even without the vanilla, but next time, I'll go to the store and buy some vanilla.

Recipe can be found here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

TWD: Gingered Carrot Cookies

Admit it, you didn't believe me when I told you that I'd be posting fairly regularly again, did you?

Haha. Fooled you.

Admittedly, one of the reasons for my lack of posting lately is I have a pretty severe case of writers block. Like, I am just having a really hard time coming up with some kind of story or anecdote to include along with blog posts. But, I've decided to just throw caution into the wind and attempt to blog anyway. Maybe I'll work my way through it, eh?

It sucks when you feel like you no longer have anything creative coming out of you. And I'm not really sure what the cause is. Maybe it's work... maybe I've been so overwhelmed at work, that work-related thoughts have now invaded the space in my brain that was reserved for creativity. Maybe, it's the fact that I'm not going out and getting drunk very often. Therefore, I don't really have any good stories. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that my life basically consists of running, work, hot yoga, and sleep these days and there's just not much time for me to sit around and stew up some good bits. (Probably because any spare time that I have, I'm usually reading (educational, at least!) or catching up some television (hey, it's kinda educational).

I did get around to participating in Tuesdays with Dorie this week, though! So, I squeezed that in. I even put these together before work. When I woke up, I set the butter and egg out to come to room temperature, then I went out for my morning run and after I came back and showered, I whipped a 1/4 batch of these cookies up.

That's how easy they came together... And once they were cooled and photographed, I promptly packed them away and put them in my freezer, after nary a bite. (I've come this far with the vegan macrobiotic 30 day challenge, some carrot cookie isn't going to make me fail. Day 28, today! holla!). So, I can't tell you how they taste just yet, but they did look good and smell good.

Gingered Carrot Cookies
Recipe by Dorie Greenspan

So, yeah, there's carrot and ginger in the cookie. So, immediately by the title, I'm thinking... yippee! A healthy cookie! And, while on it's own, it is fairly healthy. There isn't a lot of sugar or butter... but, I did do some substitutions with the sugar, just because I felt a good hearty carrot cookie could stand up to some healthifying.

I swapped the white sugar out and used honey instead and in place of brown sugar, I used molasses mixed with maple syrup. I was also out of coconut (the horror) and for extra texure, I added oatmeal instead. I was really, really tempted to swap out the butter for applesauce, but I decided to leave it in. Usually, I go too far making a cookie slightly healthier (yes, debatable whether or not subbing maple syrup, molasses, and honey to a cookie in place of white sugar and brown sugar. but whatev. it seems healthier in my head) and the cookies comes out tasting like crap.

In this case, I'm assuming it didn't, although I haven't, actually tried the cookies. I will though! And you should, too!