Granola Cookies

October air has a necessary tension.

I’ve always loved fall months best. Maybe it’s because it’s when the notion of “coziness” pervades all things. There’s nothing I love more than drinking my morning coffee while wrapped in a blanket, wearing patterned socks with moccasins, and seeing my breath as I watch the sky turn shades of pink.

But school isn’t meant for idleness, and so underlying necessities obscure my constant daydream. This past week was one of the busiest I’ve had, partly my own fault, given, but still- I always have something I ought to be doing.

Still getting used to the lighting in Crafts House. I’ll find that sweet spot soon, promise!

Like baking. Apparently I’ve let it slip that the kitchen is like my studio, and so now I’m expected to have a different nom for every occasion. Club meeting? Bake some brownies. House meeting? Cake for everyone. 4 am study break? Quick breads for the morning.

If it sounds like I’m complaining or something, trust me, I’m not. I’d bake all day and all night. Well maybe not all day, but definitely all night. Anyone else a stress/study break baker? Nothing better than butter, sugar, and flour to cut right through the cloud of work floating around my head.

Onto the noms:

There’s granola, the delicious, crunchy cereal that we’ve all come to know and love, and then there’s a granola, which Urban Dictionary ever so eloquently describes as:

“An adjective used to describe people who are environmentally aware (flower child, tree-hugger), open-minded, left-winged, socially aware and active, queer or queer-positive, anti-oppressive/discriminatory (racial, sexual, gender, class, age, etc.) with an organic and natural emphasis on living, who will usually refrain from consuming or using anything containing animals and animal by-products.”

If being a granola is wrong, then I don’t want to be right. These cookies are certainly fit for a granola, or anyone else who simply loves gooey yet crunchy, filling yet delicate, and refined but nostalgic vegan sweets.

Peanut Butter Granola Cookies
(makes about 30 cookies)

Ingredients:

Preparation:

In large bowl, combine margarine and brown sugar, and beat until fluffy. Add in apple sauce, peanut butter, agave, and vanilla, and stir until combined. Make a well in the center of dough, and add flour, stirring until incorporated. Next, stir in granola, one cup at a time, and finally oats, until dough is solid enough to stay together. If dough is too loose, add another 1/4 cup of oats and 2 tablespoons of flour.

Drop dough by tablespoon onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 minutes, until edges are just browned. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from sheet to cooling rack.

~

I should really go work on my biology lab now, but first, you might enjoy this session from Indians.

Happy nomming,

Danny

Peanut Butter Apple Bars

Can we all take a moment to praise apples?

Sweet orbs of sugary, autumny goodness. Whenever I go to my dining hall, I have three objectives: acquire coffee (all day every day), acquire granola, and acquire apples, lots of apples.

I usually stash them in my backpack so that I can just whip one out in the middle of class, or walking to class, or whenever. Portability- always a good thing when it comes to food. Nom and go.

Well, as you might know, I’m now cooking and/or baking for more than just me and my family. Which is actually really great, because over the summer I was just churning out baked goods and subsequently devouring them all myself. But it also means I have a shorter time frame between when baked goods come out of the oven and when they are promptly devoured.

Crafty kitchen in the autumn-time, forgive my misplaced nostalgia.

Honestly, the base for these cookies turned out a bit dry. It’s all dat peanut butter- you’ve got to augment it with some liquids so that it doesn’t all evaporate in the oven. In this updated recipe, I’ve added more applesauce and more butter/margarine. Nonetheless, these bars look real nice.

One last note: leave the skins on the apples! They’re full of fiber and a bunch of other nutrients that take apple from a simple fruit to a superfood. And personally, I like the added texture!

Peanut Butter Apple Bars
(adapted from Elissa at 17 & Baking)

Ingredients
5 apples, cored and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour (or sub. all purpose)
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1/4 cup maple syrup (or sub. agave)
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup almond milk (or sub. any nut milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tablespoons margarine, melted

In small bowl, combine apple slices with lemon juice and brown sugar. Toss to coat the apples, and set aside.

In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sift and make a well in the center. Add peanut butter, maple syrup, applesauce, almond milk, vanilla, and margarine. Stir just until dough forms.

Grease a 13×9 in. sheet pan. Press dough into pan and along sides. Layer apples in rows on top of dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until dough just starts to brown along the edges. Be careful not to overbake. Makes about 20 bars.

~

That’s all from me at the moment, considering I’m actually typing this from my psychological statistics class and the teacher keeps catching me glancing at food porn. Ah well. Worth it.

Happy nomming,

Danny

Brownie Waffles

Fall is in the air, and chocolate is in my stomach.

Not from these waffles, because honestly I made them about two weeks ago now. I’m currently full from cookies I nabbed from my dining hall, and all the other wonderful vegan foods I’ve devoured today.

University has the unique capacity to leave me over and under-whelmed. Classes started last week, but that hasn’t even been the biggest time crunch in my life. All the clubs, organizations, people- my life revolves around a schedule.

I missed it so much.

Speaking of vegan food, guess what? I’m living in a vegan co-op! It’s the greatest! I can’t rave about it enough! Vegan food for every dinner! More exclamation points!

Crafts house- check it out!

I’ll rant more on crafty adventures soon enough, but on a more pertinent topic: brownie waffles. Brownies? Good. Waffles? Great. Chocolate in any breakfast item? FAN-TAS-TIC.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again- people love mixing and meshing different flavors and textures. These waffles are the lovechild of breakfast and dessert, but they’re not terribly unhealthy. I would certainly describe them as fudgy- almost denser than a normal waffle, from that wonderful cocoa and coffee undertones. They’re an excuse to get out of bed, for sure. It’s a recipe for a “no-snooze-button” type of morning.

Fudgy Brownie Waffles
(makes 12 small waffles, or 3 Belgium waffles)

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Combine dry ingredients in small metal bowl and whisk until combined. In separate bowl, mix wet ingredients on medium speed with electric mixer until combined and smooth. Stir half of wet ingredients into dry, stirring until just combined. Repeat with the rest of the wet mixture.

Preheat waffle iron. Cook waffles for about 5-6 minutes, until tops form light crust and insides are still chewy. Serve immediately for best taste and texture

Alright, while you’re debating whether you should make these (you should) (but really) (I won’t leave these parenthesis until you do) (OK good) I’ve got to read some cognitive psych. You know what’s really interesting? Visual processing- for example prosopagnosia and related Capgras delusion.

And I always like to leave a music recommendation- so lately I’ve been listening to this hella chill band Blouse.

Happy nomming (and studying),

Danny

Apple Caramel Croquembouche

Sometimes you just want a literal tower of food.

And sometimes French pastry chefs have already invented a tower of food. For those not in the know, croquembouche is “a form of choux pastry that is generally served as a high-piled cone of chocolate, cream-filled profiteroles all bound together with threads of caramel.”

As with most (all) French pastries, a traditional croquembouche is in no way vegan. But hey, that’s what adaptation is for, amiright?

This ~adaptation~, as I call it, is just a tower of vegan apple cinnamon protein balls spun together with a dry caramel. Because autumn is just around the corner, and what’s a more classic combination than apples and caramel? So simple, but so elegant. There’s a reason these things are often at weddings in place of a cake. It’s a literal centerpiece, a masterpiece!

If you’ve never made caramel before, never fear. It’s quite simple! I know I’ve said it before, but in times of uncertainty I turn to the ever-insightful David Lebovitz, who has a great step-by-step caramel tutorial.

There are plenty of vegan caramel recipes on the interwebs, but most of them require dates, which I didn’t have. However, using organic cane sugar, I can fully justify this dry caramel as vegan. There are all sorts of internet discussion on what sugars can be considered vegan, but as long as it hasn’t been refined using bone char (an animal byproduct), it’s fine by me.

Vegan Apple Cinnamon Balls

Ingredients
1/3 cup all natural apple sauce
2 tb chia seeds
1 tb cinnamon
1 tb maple syrup
1 cup vegan granola, maple or apple flavored
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup flax seed meal
optional:
3 tb coconut flakes
Apple, cut into small cubes

In medium bowl, stir apple sauce and chia seeds. Let sit 5 minutes while chia seeds absorb moisture and thicken. Stir in cinnamon and maple syrup.

Next, add oats and flax meal and stir until thick dough forms. If desired, add coconut and apple pieces, and stir to combine. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour, then shape in 1″ balls. Before making caramel, stack balls into tower shape. Balls should be room temperature before spinning with caramel. Dough will make enough balls for 3 mini croquembouche or one large one.

Basic Dry Caramel

Ingredients
1/2 cup organic cane sugar

Add sugar to thick pan (I used a heavy duty saucepan) and set stove to medium-high heat. Let sugar sit, stirring occasionally to bring lightly browned bits to center of pan, and letting white sugar sit to brown on bottom of pan. Do not stir vigorously; let caramel color develop as sugar melts and browns.

When desired color is reached, remove from stove and submerge bottom of pan in lukewarm water to stop the caramelization process. Quickly drizzle over tower of apple cinnamon balls in a circular motion. Serve immediately for best taste and texture.

If you wanted to make this recipe more like an “authentic” croquembouche, you could fill the centers of the balls with caramel before refrigerating. This recipe really only yields a few small towers or one large one, so you’d probably have to use double the sugar to make double the caramel. Easy conversion!

On a last note, I’ve been listening to some new Stars (oh, and this one too)! They’ve got a new album out on Sep. 4th, and I can’t wait to hear the whole thing. I can’t get enough of Amy Millan’s voice, and what Stereogum describes as their “bubbling synths, click-clap drums and infectious melody.” Go quality Canadian bands!

Happy nomming,

Danny

Pesto Mushroom Burgers

It’s so odd leaving one’s imprints all over the internet.

I’m definitely one of those people that has an account for every networking/blogging/portfolio website, and haphazardly tries to integrate them all into one, online identity. Alas, there is just so little crossover.
I don’t know why I even bother.

But, in the vein of online presences, I have a new blogging venture with the wonderful website One Green Planet, where I now get to spread some vegan recipes and articles to a wider vegan audience! Woooooo!

Enough of me, I know you’re here for NOMS. And what I’ve found lately is this: Sometimes simple is better.

As in the case of these “burgers”. Because sometimes you just don’t want all the extra calories of a bread bun, and a huge, tasty mushroom cap will suffice. And because pesto is the lovechild of natural ingredients and innovation.

By the way, don’t skip the garlic in the vegan garlic pesto part of the recipe. If you’re not a garlic fan, replace it with some other flavor burst, because this little sandwich needs some definite flavor direction to hit all the right notes. Simple, but scrumptious!

Pesto Mushroom Burgers

Ingredients
4 large portobello mushrooms caps
2 large slices of onion
4 tablespoons vegan garlic pesto*
4 medium-small tomatoes, sliced

Wipe mushroom caps with lightly dampened paper towel to brush off excess dirt. Layer one mushroom cap as a bottom bun, topped with a large onion slice, then spread with pesto, then layer tomato slices, and top with second mushroom cap. Serve immediately.

*Vegan Garlic Pesto

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups chopped basil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tb nutritional yeast
1 tb garlic, finely minced 

Combine ingredients in food processor in order listed and blend for about a minute. Scrape sides and re-pulse until smooth.

That’s all from me today- I’m going to go scan some art stuff (sounds so vague) and check out some books and read and lounge and be a summer bum.

Commence summery beach bum music suggestions:
[1] Real Estate- It’s Real
[2
] Beach Fossils- Sometimes
[3] Discovery- Swing Tree

Happy nomming,

Danny

PB&J Protein Squares

A weekend in the mountains works wonders.

I forgot how much I missed not showering. And hiking, and snakes, and fishing for minnows with my hands. And meteors! I could keep going for a long, long time with the list. But yes, all that Appalachian air finally gave my mind some of the clarity it’d been distinctly missing.

Coffee with a view. Serene as heck.

Naturally, I did get to do some cooking on the trip. There was an apple tree right near the cabin where I climbed up and shook down a lot of apples. I wasn’t sure what kind they were, but I sautéed them with maple and cinnamon for a quick treat. Of course there were ample authentic s’mores, which were maybe even better than those S’mores Donuts I made a couple of weeks ago.

Apple pickin’, West Virginia style.

Authentique campfire. I guess all those nature camps taught me something.

But now I’m home, and the baking can begin again! I was seriously protein deprived after a weekend of carbs carbs and more carbs, so I set out to make a protein bar without the use of protein powder (which I’ve sort of given up on, I can’t find a good, cheap vegan one!) but still with natural protein sources. They’re PB&J flavored too- a classic flavor combination made healthy!

Vegan PB&J Protein Squares

Ingredients- Bars
1 can chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup peanut butter (or sub. any nut butter)
1/8 dark brown sugar
1/3 cup unbleached organic flour (or sub. peanut flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup + 1 tb almond milk (or any nut milk)
3/4 cup rolled oats

In food processor, blend chickpeas until smooth. Add peanut butter and blend. Add brown sugar, flour, and baking powder, and pulse until dough forms. Add in milk and blend until smooth. Stir in rolled oats.

Spread into greased 11″ x 7″ glass pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, until tops form a slight crust. Cool before topping with frosting.

Ingredients- Frosting
1 package light firm tofu, drained (12.3 oz)
1/3 cup jelly/jam, any flavor (I used strawberry)
3 tb chia seeds
optional: mint leaves

In food processor, combine tofu and jelly/jam. Add in 2 tb of the chia seeds, and blend again. If desired, add a few sprigs of mint. Add in last 1 tb of chia, and stir into frosting mixture. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, until frosting has thickened. Spread over peanut butter bars and serve. Makes about 12 squares.

Well, now that I’ve got a huge pan full of bars, I ought to go share some. In the meantime, I had a nice moment during the meteor shower last night where this Owen Pallett song kept playing through my head. I had this overwhelming feeling that I was about to be sucked into outer space the whole time I was watching the stars (probably because every lucid dream I have ends that way… more on this strange phenomenon another day). But anyways, here’s to hoping my two feet stay planted on solid Earth.

Happy nomming,

Danny

Chia Breakfast Yogurt

I discovered a new secret food.

They’re chia seeds, and what I would describe as one of the latest food trends. To be clear, I love food trends. Mostly because food is a lifestyle*, and it’s fun to treat it the same way we treat fashion and hobbies and such.

*”Food is a lifestyle.” -every true foodie ever

Chia seeds are magical when mixed with any liquid. They absorb the moisture and instantly thicken. They are the vegan version of gelatin, and they are so versatile! I needed something to fill the void where pudding once resided in my new vegan diet, and chia is that very thing.

Since the breakfast yogurt/oatmeal I made was so healthy, I threw in some (fancy seashell-shaped real Belgian) chocolate. You could get so creative with flavor combinations- I almost wanted to add some vanilla and call it cookies n’ cream chia yogurt. Endless possibilities!

Chia Breakfast Yogurt

Ingredients
1 tb chia seeds
2 tb nut milk
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or chai mixture)
1 tb maple syrup or agave
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup soy yogurt

Add chia seeds to milk and let sit about 5 minutes, until seeds absorb and thicken. Mix in rest of ingredients and refrigerate for about an hour. Alternatively, let bowl sit overnight and enjoy first thing in the morning.

Apologies for a short-ish post, but I’m packing a weekend bag for West Virginia, where my friends rented a cabin and where I’ll be relaxing the next few days. I want to go fishing, and hiking, and campfire…ing!

I promise- more posts to come over the next few weeks. I finished my internship today, so that newfound free time can be spent in my favorite place- the kitchen.

Happy nomming,

Danny