Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Coconut Horchata Cookies

leaves and flours vegan Coconut Horchata Cookies

I was invited to a taco party recently and wanted to bring something sweet with me. I racked my brain as I was driving home and remembered reading a beautiful post Ashlae of Oh Ladycakes wrote about finding a place that her made happy. In it she had a recipe and a few lovely photographs of coconut horchata polvorones. I steered through the remaining traffic in the District, excited to bake a tiny batch of cookies. Much different than scooping out three hundred chocolate chip cookies from a bowl my arm can barely reach the bottom of, and much more relaxing. I whisked together the flours and cinnamon, and folded in the coconut oil. I was looking forward to leaving my house to catch up with friends over dinner. I didn't even complain too much about how we were eating dinner at almost 9pm which is actually my bedtime. I woke up the next morning quite sleepy from staying out too late and still full from all the rice and beans, but happy that I pushed myself to appreciate time with friends.

leaves and flours vegan Coconut Horchata Cookies

I'm trying to keep balance in mind in these coming weeks. There are 35 days until the holidays over. And while it might seem sacrilegious to most for me to be hoping the holidays end quickly, they probably don't work in retail. For them the holidays are probably still about spending time with their family & friends. But for me, it means being stuck 13 hours from my family baking several hundred pies and thousands of gingerbread cookies. I try to just keep pushing ahead. Knowing that I can probably take a few days off once all the orders have been delivered to customers, and things are back to their normal pace.
I'm trying to stay positive when I wake up in the dark, and come home to darkness, and hate the winter with every fiber of my being. I'm trying to spend those dark hours in the house pouring over new books and playing with rubber stamps. Or curling up on the couch with Greg and watching Dear Mr. Watterson. I've got a long list of errands and things I need to do and things I want to bake. Soon it will be 2014, and I am ok with that.

leaves and flours vegan Coconut Horchata Cookies

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Baklava Donuts & Holiday Gift Ideas

Maybe it's just because I grew up in the South. But I think a lot about food and gifts and gifts of food. There is no way I would go to a dinner at someone's house empty handed. It's just poor form. It's actually unlikely that I will show up at someone's house ever without some sort of sweet or offering in hand, even if it's just a box of tea or a few leftover cookies. Those offerings are so important to me. It's nice to acknowledge someone in the smallest of ways. And it's even better to acknowledge them in larger ways occasionally. With the holiday season rapidly approaching (Hanukkah is less than two weeks away?!), I have been thinking a lot about what to give my friends & family this year.

leaves and flours vegan baklava donuts leaves and flours vegan baked doughnuts for everyone

Ashley of the Edible Perspective just released her first cookbook Baked Doughnuts For Everyone! I made the baklava doughnuts from them with a friend a few weeks ago, and they came together in no time. I think the book would be a totally adorable gift. Cookbooks like this are just destined to be part of a gift basket with a few jars of flours, a doughnut pan & a new kitchen towel. While it's not a vegan cookbook, often those are my favorite kind. I love to look at people's recipes & tweak them to work with my own needs. If you are looking for a vegan cookbook, there are two that came out recently that I would give stellar reviews to: Easy As Vegan Pie & Vegan Desserts in Jars. What can I say? I like pie. I like mason jars & ribbons. I like meringue & whip cream. These two books have everything you need to offer someone this holiday season.

leaves and flours vegan la creuset glitter spatula leaves and flours vegan la creuset glitter spatula

If you're looking for a gift for more kitchen folk in your life, my favorite spatula in the world is Le Creuset. It also happens to come in a glitter version, which I definitely own. It's been with me for a year of heavy use, and it hasn't worn in the slightest. Cuisinart sells a set of mixing bowls that are the perfect sizes for everyday use. I also love that they have lids. Which makes storing things in the fridge much easier, and generally means I get by with washing a few less dishes.
Maybe you need a gift for someone who already has a little too much kitchenware? Pure ingredients are always a really nice start. Good chocolate, spices, & maple syrup, are always a great place to start. There are few things that make me happier than having really amazing food to work with, and I know so many people who feel the same way.
If you're the baker in this side of the equation, you should definitely spoil the people around you with treats this whole season. Vegan Food Gifts is a great place to start for a few ideas. If you already have a specialty, than run with it. The packaging ideas in Joni's book are really terrific. Don't forget to include some serving utensils or a fancy plate for that extra umph! My favorite plates right now are the vintage lace collection from Sur La Table. I just got a salad plate in grey and have been using it for everything!

leaves and flours vegan big chill vintage fridge leaves and flours kitchenaid mixer giveaway
You might be looking for that big gift? The one that really steals the show? You could put a giant bow on it & call it the best gift you've ever given? Big Chill makes new fridges with a vintage aesthetic, so you don't have to worry about the longevity of your classic looking icebox. It might not be the most romantic of gifts. But this Big Chill fridge is not only incredibly practical, it's stunning. And it happens to match my standing mixer making it an automatic winner in my book. Speaking of which! If that someone in your life doesn't already have a standing mixer and they are the sort of person who loves to do anything in the kitchen, then that's should be the gift you're saving up for! Getting a KitchenAid mixer changed my life, and it is still the best gift I ever received.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats

leaves and flours vegan Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats

I'm gonna say something that isn't going to make me any friends. But I just need to get it off my chest. I love pumpkin. Seriously. I adore it. As soon as there's the first hint of cool weather and changing leaves I will begin putting pumpkin into everything. Cupcakes, oatmeal, curry and soup. But, there are two things that I don't think should be paired with pumpkin. First, coffee. Here's looking at you pumpkin spice latte. I don't understand why you're so hip & cool. Maybe I'm just a purist but vanilla and chocolate are the only flavors I really want mixed with my coffee flavored things. The second combination I just can't get behind is pumpkin & chocolate. It just feels off for me. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't turn down a free pumpkin chocolate chip muffin but you won't ever see me making one.
Last week there were dozens of bags of Dandies on sale. They had just gone out of date, but I knew they would be totally find for melting into rice crispy treats. So I bought six bags. I stumbled upon a pumpkin rice krispy treat at the Sweet Life, and decided there was no sense in making a single batch when I had so many Dandies to spare. So I doubled it, left out the chocolate, and make some little changes based on the partial can of pumpkin I had left after making a pie.

leaves and flours vegan Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats
Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats
tweaked in the most minor of ways from The Sweet Life

8 cups rice cereal
5 tbl Earth Balance
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground gloves
1/4 tsp salt
2 bags dandies

Line a 9x13" pan with parchment or wax paper. Pre-measure the cereal and add it to your largest bowl. In a heavy bottomed stock pot, melt Earth Balance. Add pumpkin puree, vanilla, and spices. Stir until distributed evenly. Add marshmallows and heat over medium heat, stirring frequently until the marshmallows are mostly melted. Fold the pumpkin mixture into the cereal and press mixture firmly into the pan. Let cool for one hour before slicing.

leaves and flours vegan Pumpkin Rice Crispy Treats

These rice crispy treats were very delicious and a total piece of cake. They would make a nice non-traditional addition to a Thanksgiving dinner table or as a snack anytime in the next few weeks. I feel like this recipe would also be terrific if you used sweet potato puree instead of pumpkin, added a cup of chopped of walnuts and some mini marshmallows to pay respects to my favorite casserole. Have you heard that Dandies are coming out with mini marshmallows?!