Wednesday, December 21, 2016

walnut + cardamom tea cakes

Christmas and cookies go together like Easter and eggs. It's just not Christmas without cookies. Certain cookies though, ones that you don't make any other time of the year. This year I recreated a family favorite, Russian tea cakes. Or Mexican wedding balls, or snowballs, or whatever you call these little melt in your mouth morsels. My mom used to make these at Christmas, usually for our annual party, and my brother and I would roll them in powdered sugar, hot out of the oven, while standing on our little stools at the kitchen counter and marveling at the buildup of melted sugar accumulating on our finger tips.

I've taken a pretty generic Russian tea cake recipe, veganized it,  added cardamom, and upped the nuts! Yum! They turned out perfect. The only down side of making these cookies is you just might end up ruining your dinner appetite because they are sooo addicting.

walnut + cardamom tea cakes
  • 1 cup earth balance, softened (or another brand of vegan butter)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups flour (I used Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 gluten free flour)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • more powdered sugar for rolling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Mix together the butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. I don't have an electric mixer, which is recommended for tasks like these, but mine turned out just fine so just mix with a spatula if you don't have one either. Add the vanilla, cardamom, and salt. Fold in the flour. When just combined add the nuts and fold until completely combined. Using a tablespoon, scoop out the cookies and then roll them into little tablespoon sized balls. Place on a lined cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes.

After just a minute of being out of the oven, while they are still hot, roll them in powdered sugar and then set aside to cool further. The sugar will melt as it coats the cookies so if you want them powdery on the outside do another roll through the sugar after they are completely cooled. These have only been rolled once.

These cookies will melt in your mouth, cover you in powdered sugar, and make you smile, just as a Christmas cookie should.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2016

chickpea noodle soup

The classic chicken noodle soup often symbolizes more than just a nourishing meal in our society. It means love, attention, care, and comfort, bringing back memories of Mom taking care of you when you were sick or on a cold winter night. My mom used to make amazing chicken noodle soup with big chunks of pulled roasted chicken, rustically chopped carrots and celery, sometimes peas, and usually a spirally pasta. Everyone has a different version in their past that invokes different memories and feelings, but I think that we can safely say that this soup feeds more than the body, it feeds the soul.

Chickpea noodle soup can have the same effect, I promise. This soup is hearty, comforting, and nourishing. It's good for you, and for the chickens. I can actually hear the chickens across the street right now, I think they are clucking their approval.

chickpea noodle soup
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • black pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 Tbsp miso paste
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 (more) cups water
  • 4-5 oz ramen noodles, cooked and drained
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 

Chop the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery to desired size. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and add the veggies. Saute a few minutes and add the first 2 cups of water and black pepper. In a separate bowl or measuring cup whisk together the miso paste, cornstarch, and the last 2 cups of water. Add this to the soup pot. Cook over medium heat until bubbling.

Meanwhile, cook your noodles as directed. I used straight wheat ramen noodles but any sort of pasta should work fine. Drain and rinse the noodles and add to the soup along with the chickpeas. Bring the soup back to a simmer, and you are ready to go!

We ate this soup with fresh parsley and Tom had toast (of course, he is a toast man). But it really doesn't need much, it's filling and tasty all on it's own. The perfect soup for these rainy winter nights in Honolulu 🌧

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

tahini + chocolate thumbprint cookies

The peanut butter/tahini swap out continues! Here is another recipe that would traditionally call for peanut butter, but works wonderfully with tahini instead! To create this recipe I used my 5 ingredient peanut butter cookies as a guideline, and I nailed it! Tahini is a staple ingredient in my fridge. It's actually a super versatile ingredient in both savory and sweet recipes! I use it in salad dressings, sauces, hummus, and buckwheat granola on the regular but the possibilities are endless. I have done the tahini-chocolate combo before in energy ball form, but these cookies... these cookies. The tahini tang with a dash of sea salt complements the dark chocolate drop so perfectly, and then roasted sesame seeds on top?! That final touch makes these cookies irresistible!

tahini + chocolate thumbprint cookies
  • 3/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup maple
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the flour and baking soda in a small mixing bowl. In a larger bowl whisk together the tahini, maple, coconut oil, vanilla, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold until completely combined. On a lined baking sheet drop spoonfuls of cookie dough at least an inch apart from each other. This dough is much gooey-er than the pb cookie dough, which you can just roll into balls, so they won't be perfectly round but try to make them circular. Make a depression on each cookie with your thumb. This little dip is going to be filled with chocolate, yum. As the cookies bake the depression will rise so make it a little deeper than you think. Bake the cookies for ten minutes.

While cookies are in the oven start melting the chocolate. You'll need about 2/3 cup chocolate chips or chunks. I use the dark chocolate chunks from Whole Foods brand. In a small pot boil about an inch of water. Set a metal bowl on top of the pot and add the chocolate. Constantly fold the chocolate from bottom to top until it is completely melted, remove from heat.

By this time the cookies should be done, it doesn't really matter if you cool them before chocolate-ing them because the chocolate then needs time to cool too. With a teaspoon, divide the chocolate evenly between all of the thumbprints, filling the depression. If the thumbprint depressions got very shallow during baking, just add the chocolate a little bit at a time to avoid it spilling over the edge. Sprinkle the chocolate with the roasted sesame seeds while it is still melty.

Eat one immediately. Then eat another after about 20-30 minutes, the chocolate will be fudgy by then. And then have another one after they have been refrigerated and the chocolate has hardened. You have to try them in all of the stages, right?