Sunday, December 23, 2012

Northern Dispatch: 15 Bean Delicious

Home for the holidays! My mom has taken a liking to showing off her vegan prowess in the kitchen and whipped up a hearty, delicious 15 bean soup for dinner. She's been a long-time fan of Hurst's Hambeens soups (cajun is her favorite), but she had a momentary shock when she saw she got the original soup and the seasoning packet was "ham base." Yikes! Thinking quick she decided to omit it and made a great tasting soup (see the recipe below.) However, upon examination, we figured out that Hambeens soups' seasoning packets  (not recipes) are vegan! Enjoy. 

Mom's 15 Beans of Delicious Soup

1 pkg Hurst's Hambeens brand 15 bean soup
1 1/2 c yellow onion diced
3/4 c celery diced
2 jalapenos minced
1 1/2 c carrots diced
3 garlic cloves minced
16 oz fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 pkg Trader Joe's soy chorizo
2 - 16oz cans of veggie broth
2 T lemon juice
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cajun seasoning
1 tsp cilantro
black pepper and salt to taste

Cook beans with 2 quarts of water until soft (~2 hours. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer). Add in all other ingredients (no need to pre-saute) and simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cookie Swap!

Start your ovens! Holiday season means cookie swap time. I've hosted cookie swaps for the past four years as a way to get together with my friends during the busy holiday season and share some tasty treats. Why eat 2 dozen of one kind of cookie when you can hang out with your friends, have fun and have a smorgasbord of cookie varieties?

Last year, I started toying around with vegan cookies. I suffered a bit as a newbie, but I also had some success. I might have given up, but I've got a friend who is an amazing vegan baker and her holiday cookie offerings knocked my socks off! She had the cherry cheesecake cookies I'm making this year, and a bourbon and pecan truffle that is the stuff of legends. So, I'm back at it with this year's offering of vegan cookies:

Eggnog Spritz cookies

I missed the fun of the cookie press because the dough was too sticky, but otherwise bite-size nutmeg-y goodness.

How cute are these cookies! I was too lazy to make my own chocolate covered pretzels, so opted for Whole Foods dark chocolate pretzels (which are vegan.) For the nose, I opted for cinnamon candies. The cookies are chewy delicious. Despite following the recipe my cookies turned out different than the photo with the blog...not sure what happened there, but adorable all the same.

Cherry Cheesecake Cookies (veganize the recipe with vegan cream cheese, earth balance and Ener-G egg replacer and some blueberries.)

The cookies that inspired me to keep at it with learning vegan baking are light cheesecake cookies with a dollop of pie filling. I opted for variety by making some with blueberries. Next time I'm thinking turtle :)

Russian Tea Cakes (aka Mexican Wedding Cookies) 

My dad's favorite cookies and a family tradition. These were easy and tasted great. My fiance's new favorite.

Thanks to my friend, for this tasty find:

Dark Chocolate Cherry Walnut Truffles

These truffles are awesome! They're tart and sweet with a bit of crunch and a flavor explosion. Keep them small and in the freezer or they're a little too soft, but oh so tasty.