Chocolate Chip Cookies with Tahini

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This recipe for chocolate chip cookies with tahini is inspired by cookies my sister brought home from St. John Chrysostomos Greek Orthodox Monastery in Pleasant Prairie, WI. At the time, I found one recipe for tahini-based chocolate chip cookies online. It used vodka instead of water, but since I usually make booze flavored and booze soaked desserts for feasts, I decided to switch out the vodka for water during the fast.

The tahini works as a great replacement for butter, and the taste is surprisingly mild (if noticeable at all).

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Drop onto a greased cookie sheet by the spoonful. After I bake mine for about 8 minutes, I stick them under the broiler briefly to give them a little color. They don’t brown like regular cookies.

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The recipe made about 32 medium sized cookies. When I used 1 C of sugar there was a very faint taste of tahini, but when I used 1 1/2 C and couldn’t taste the tahini at all, it seemed too sweet. I think 1 1/4 C might be perfect.

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Tahini

2 C flour
1 to 1 1/4 C white sugar*
1/4 C brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tahini
2/3 C water (or unsweetened non-dairy milk)
2 tsp vanilla

1 C vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, add tahini, water, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet. You may add more water, 1 Tbsp at a time, if dough seems too thick. Fold in chocolate chips.
Drop onto a greased cookie sheet by the spoonful and bake 7 to 9 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. Then place cookies on top rack under the broiler just until they begin to brown slightly on top. Place on wire rack to cool.

*1 1/4 C sugar was pretty sweet for me, but cutting the sugar to 1 C means there’s a faint taste of tahini.

carrot curry soup for a cold (or *the* cold)

Once again it is freezing here in Michigan and everyone is getting sick. It snowed on the first day of spring. It snowed again yesterday. So, this seems like the perfect day for a guest post from my friend Elizabeth who made this lovely carrot soup to help get rid of her cold a couple weeks ago. And lucky for you, she actually uses measurements!

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Ingredients for Two Servings:
1 small white onion, chopped (yellow works too)
1 small carrot, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp canola oil (can be omitted on oil free days)
2 cups (16 oz) vegetable broth
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

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1. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, and oil to the bottom of the pot. (If using squeeze tube garlic, don’t add garlic until step 3.) Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until carrot begins to soften.

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2. Add the vegetables to the blender with a splash of the broth and puree the mixture.

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3. Put the mixture back into the pot. Add the rest of the broth, curry powder, cayenne pepper, and salt. Stir.
Simmer for 5 minutes…

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4. Serve!

What is your favorite chicken noodle soup alternative for colds, or general winter malaise?

homemade instant pea soup mix

I’ve mentioned Bob’s Red Mill 3 Minute Pea Soup recipe before, but what if you could take the soup mix with you to work for a quick lunch? Well. You can! At the end of the post, I’ll give you a couple links to ingredients.

You will need green pea flour and a little sandwich-sized ziplock bag.

For one big bowl of soup, add 3 Tbsp of green pea flour to the ziplock bag. Just 3 Tbsp contains 4g fiber (16% of what you need for the day), 4g protein, and 6% iron.

Then add some sort of vegetarian bouillon granules – I buy this kind at the Asian market (chicken flavored, but without any animal products) and use 1 tsp.

Add whatever seasonings you’d like, to taste. I prefer garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, a dash of cayenne pepper, and 2 tsp nutritional yeast.

Seal the ziplock bag and shake it up to mix the ingredients. Then I like to open the corner of the bag, press out the air, and reseal for easy storage in my reused takeout box.

Next, I fill my bowl with water (should be about 2 Cups, I just eyeball it) and heat it in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes (if you have a kettle you can heat the water that way, if you prefer to avoid the microwave). I actually only do mine for 2 minutes because I start with hot water from the dispenser on our coffee machine.

Careful, your bowl will be hot!!! Add the contents of the bag – do it slowly at first because if the water’s really hot, adding the mix could cause it to bubble and spill over.

Stir, stir, stir. Mash big lumps with the back of your spoon. Don’t mind the little ones, they taste good 🙂

On Amazon, you can buy four 24oz packages of Green Pea Flour for less than $20.

And you can buy a six pack of Massel Vegetable Bouillon Granules for seasoning. That should last year maybe a couple years! (Or just find it in a store near you and buy one container at a time…)

By the way, this is oil free and perfect for a strict fasting day!

Gluten Free Vegan Paleo Halawe (Halva) Brownies

Another day using someone else’s recipe. When I saw Flourless Peanut Butter Brownies from pop up in my feed, I had to try it. Who doesn’t like chocolate and peanut butter together?!?!! Well, people who are allergic to peanuts, for one. And people on a paleo diet, for another. Luckily I’m not either of those, but for the sake of others I decided to experiment. Preheat your oven to 325.

If you’ve been around this blog very long, you know how much I love tahini – I have a whole page dedicated to tahini in my recipe index.

So I substituted 2 C tahini for the peanut butter.

Sweeten with 3/4 C honey, agave or maple syrup (or to taste). Mix thoroughly.

I also replaced the chocolate with 1/2 C raisins, roughly chopped.

To bind the brownies, the original recipe says you can use 2 tbsp. ground chia or flax + 6 Tbsp water. I went with the chia seeds. Make sure you let it set at least 10 minutes.

Then add it to your tahini along with 2 Tbsp cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. I think I ended up adding closer to 1 or 2 tsp because I just really like vanilla. Hm, I hope vanilla extract is paleo…

Mix it up. With the chia seed “jelly” mixed in, the batter seems somewhat gelatinous. Well I guess that makes sense.

Spread the batter out in a 9×13 pan that’s either been greased or lined with parchment. I’m actually not sure it’s necessary when using tahini because of the natural oils, but I did it anyway just to be safe. Next time I’ll be more daring and see what happens.

Bake at 325 for 25 minutes, or until the brownies brown around the edges.

I was so nervous about these little guys. I made them for a Lenten bake sale at church yesterday, and I was afraid people would bite into them expecting a regular ol’ chocolate brownie. I decided to call them halva brownies because most people in my parish would understand this means there’s a sesame flavor. I’m so glad at least the few people I got feedback from seemed to really like them! One day I’ll try them with peanut butter for myself (and even add some chocolate chips), but I’m glad I had a reason to try these with tahini.

Do you have a favorite vegan brownie recipe? Feel free to share!

By the way, these are oil free and perfect for a strict fasting day.

Buffalo Tofu Bites

Okay, I’m back! Last night we had our first Presanctified Liturgy of Lent, followed by our first Lenten potluck of the year. I made Buffalo Tofu Bites (oil free, perfect for a strict fasting day), a snack that is much beloved by my friends at any time of the year – but especially during Lent, or on Super Bowl Sunday! Recipe below.

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I use water-packed tofu that is frozen and then thawed, giving it a meatier texture.

Last night I had to pop it in the commercial convection oven at church before I went to Liturgy. It bakes way faster, so I never know what temp to use or for how long. I ended up covering it with foil and baking it at 300 for about an hour, then ran to check on it and turn it after Communion, and popped it back in without the foil at 375 for the last 15 minutes I was in the chapel.

I was really nervous when Father decided to give a sermon at the end, but luckily the timing was perfect. It was nice and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. There have been a couple times when I came back to the kitchen to find my food shrunk down to almost nothing, or was totally blackened!

There she is. It made a little more than I could fit in the bowl, so…I ate the extras.

We also had homemade black bean burgers with avocado, all kinds of veggies, and a tahini spread. There were 3 or 4 soups, some sort of casserole with cornbread on top and kidney beans on the bottom, chips & salsa, rolls, a giant bucket of rice!

And ful mudammas with pita bread. I think that’s everything… Next time I’ll try to sneak in earlier and get more pictures!

Buffalo Tofu
2 14oz packages water-packed tofu*

*You’ll need to prep the tofu at least two days ahead. Leaving the tofu in its sealed package, freeze for one day to ensure it’s completely frozen solid. Then thaw either by leaving in the fridge (can take a couple days) or by placing tofu STILL IN SEALED PACKAGE in a sink filled with very warm water. It can still take a couple hours to thaw in the water, and you will have to add hot water a few times during the process.
Once thawed, press tofu between two plates to get excess liquid out. Tear tofu into bite-size chunks.

Tahini Buffalo Sauce
1/2 C tahini
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder, or to taste
Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, to taste
1 tsp turmeric for color
optional: 2 tsp nutritional yeast

Combine all sauce ingredients, then thin it down with water until it’s soupy, stirring the water in a little at a time.

Add tofu to sauce and toss to coat. Let marinate for 2 hours to two days.

Preheat oven to 400.
Cover a baking tray with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Spread tofu over tray in single layer and bake 45 minutes, or until tofu is nicely browned. Gently turn the tofu halfway through.

We often eat these Buffalo Tofu Bites on their own, but you can also serve them with celery sticks and your favorite vegan ranch or bleu cheese dressing.

new favorite bolthouse farms juice

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I usually buy Bolthouse Farms’ Green Goodness, but the other day I was brave and tried a new flavor. Now, one time I thought I was buying carrot juice and accidentally got carrot tangerine. It was pretty good, but since I wasn’t expecting the tangerine…I hated it. I don’t like surprises. But this time I knew exactly what I was getting, I just didn’t realize how wonderful it would be.
Mango Ginger Carrot juice might be my new favorite. In fact, between this and my raspberry ginger lemonade, I think maybe I’ll love anything with ginger in it.

What’s your favorite combination?

steamed veggies with gorgeous tahini sauce

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I may have posted something similar to this before, but I just love the colors in this picture. So here it is in case you missed it…

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There’s a big baked potato underneath that I mashed up and seasoned with salt and pepper, then doused in bright yellow tahini sauce, and mixed it up to make it nice and creamy. Turmeric is the best. The potato is covered with steamed broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and mushrooms. Then….MOAR tahini sauce!!!!!!! And that’s it.

If you use the search feature on the blog, you can find a bunch of different tahini sauce recipes I’ve used over the past year and a half. I’ll give the basic idea again, though:

A couple tablespoons of tahini
I almost always add lemon juice and garlic, but if I want a cheesier taste I leave out the lemon
and use a little squirt of Dijon mustard, but sometimes I use both.
Turmeric is more for color than taste, I like my sauce crazy bright yellow.
Then you can add one or more or all of the following:
onion powder
chili powder
smoked paprika
chipotle powder
Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.
You can experiment with different kinds of mustard.
You can add a vegan sour cream, yogurt, or mayo.
Nutritional yeast.
Have fun. Go crazy. Make it your own, as Paula Abdul would say.

How do you like to dress up boring steamed veggies?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Mango Cookies

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I told you I’ve been making a lot of cookies lately. This is another variation on my favorite super simple peanut butter cookie recipe.

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So, these are the only ingredients in the original recipe: 1 jar of natural peanut butter, oil drained. Approximately 1 C sugar (or to taste), and one mashed banana.

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Then sometimes I add a handful of oatmeal, or oat flour, to absorb some of the excess oil from the peanut butter. Mix.

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This time I added chopped dried mango, I thought it would make it taste like a PB&J. Of course chocolate makes everything better. Except maybe guacamole.

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What a heavenly smell…

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I like to let them cool just until they won’t burn my mouth, and eat them hot with the chocolate all melty. Dairy free anilla ice cream on top would be awesome.
P.S. These are oil free and perfect for a strict fasting day.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Mango Cookies
1 jar natural peanut butter, oil drained
1 C sugar (or to taste)
1 large banana, mashed
3/4 C chopped dried mango
3/4 C chocolate chips
Optional: handful of oatmeal, or 1/4 C oat flour (or white flour if you’re okay with gluten)

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, mix drained peanut butter with mashed banana and sugar, plus oatmeal or flour if using. Mix in chopped mango and chocolate chips. Spoon onto a baking sheet and bake 10 – 15 minutes depending on size, or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown.

These are still awesome leftover, but you really should at least try one while it’s still warm and gooey 🙂

Spicy Chickpeas in Peanut Butter Sauce

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Okay, I guess all I had to do was talk about how I’ve lost my appetite, and I got hungry again. Really hungry. Right after complaining to my BFF about how I can’t get myself to eat anything, I went to the kitchen and grabbed a bag of parsley, a jar of natural peanut butter, and a can of chickpeas. This super quick meal for one or two is oil free and perfect for a strict fasting day…

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Pour one can of drained and rinsed chickpeas into a pot with 1 or 2 minced cloves of garlic, along with a couple tablespoons of water, and cook over low medium heat.

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I had a bunch of parsley to use up, I chopped 1/4 – 1/2 C.

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Add to chickpeas…

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along with cayenne powder to taste. Onion powder optional. Stir and cook until the parsley is very wilted. You may have to add a little water every so often to keep it from sticking, stir regularly.

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Add 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter,

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plus soy sauce to taste, and a couple Tbsps of water.

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Stir it up. Keep adding water a little at a time until desired consistency is reached. Keep tasting because you may want to add more soy sauce as you water it down, or need to add more spices. I also added a little nutritional yeast to mine.

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Even though there’s a ton of parsley, the flavor is very mild. Mostly you’ll taste the peanut butter with the saltiness of the soy sauce, and a hint of garlic.
Eaten on its own it’s enough for one, but accompanied by a nice cabbage ginger salad you’d have a nice meal for two. Sorry, I haven’t made up a recipe for the salad yet…. This one from Food52 sounds pretty good, though.

date paste-sweetened oatmeal

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Around this time of year I start eating oatmeal more regularly, so I like to mix things up a little.

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I buy a big brick of date paste…

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and use it to sweeten my breakfast. For a single serving, I usually add a heaping Tbsp of the date paste to my water and let it cook down while I bring the water to a boil.

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This time I also added cinnamon and raisins to the oatmeal.

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I add a little tahini for fat, and water to thin it down. Pinch of salt optional.

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That’s it!