Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Friday, January 25, 2013

As promised, a post completely dedicated to these vegan chocolate chip cookies I am in love with.

My long long time friend Kristen works for a publishing company up in Philadelphia, and writes for their cooking blog from time to time. A post several months back really got my attention, in which she discusses vegan baking and its benefits—not necessarily extolling virtues of eating completely 100% vegan (of which, I'm sure, there are many), but just baking vegan. 

This piqued my interest, since my sweet tooth seems to intensify when I am baking babies in my uterus, but I don't want to consume too many empty calories. This put me on the hunt for some go-to vegan recipes, and I came across one on a blog called "Bankrupt Vegan." Here is the link —it's back up!

My friends. This is a winner no matter what your eating preferences may be. You don't even miss the butter and brown can't even really tell!

But, don't be like me and buy the packets of turbinado sugar instead of the bag. Oops. Sure gives the cookies a nice crunch though!

The dough comes together easily in a bowl with a spoon, no mixer required.

Cookie dough that's safe for a preggie to eat! BONUS! (well...bonus, or intentional? perhaps both.)

I've probably made these cookies 5 times since first discovering them. Besides not using a mixer, some of the measuring cups/spoons overlap (which for some reason is a big plus for me), so you use less dishes making them. I can have the first pan in the oven about 16 minutes after starting. Chocolate chip cookies in your mouth in 30 minutes? Yes please!

They need to be rolled and flattened before baking to make them prettier. I've done it both ways, and this way produces a nicer, flatter cookie.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup flour (I've been using white whole wheat)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup unrefined (turbinado) sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or 1/8-ish teaspoon table salt)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon molasses
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup canola oil (I've also used vegetable and olive, and both work fine but veg. is better)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (always use mini!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking powder, and baking soda together into a medium bowl. Stir in sugar and salt. In separate small bowl, stir together maple syrup, molasses, and vanilla. Then add oil. Add wet ingredients to dry, and add in the chocolate chips simultaneously. Stir until it just comes together.

Place rounded spoonfuls onto a lined cookie sheet and flatten a bit. Bake for 11 minutes at 350 degrees. Let rest on cookie sheet 1 minute before transferring to cooling rack. Makes 15-20 cookies.

Let me know if you make them and what you think. We love them!

Pregnancy Notes, round 2

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Editor's note: I always like to read these posts when other people write them so I thought I'd throw this out there. Plus, it does help me remember things that I can no longer remember on my own.

I'm to the point now where people in public are not scared to comment on my pregnant state. What is most interesting though, is that when out with Juliette, the only question/comment I'm getting now is, "How far apart will they be?" Ha! When I say "19 months," they'll either smile and shake their head, or say "I did that. My first two were __ number of months apart and we survived. It's crazy but you'll survive."

These questions don't bother me, and I'm sure I'll say the same kinds of things to other unsuspecting expectant mothers one day (will I?)... but right now, I'm doing my level best to envision a peaceful, happy home with two babies who will one day be the best of friends. The chaos of getting out the door, cleaning up a mess, bedtime...I'll learn that when it comes, just as we have with one baby.

I'm really feeling pretty good. 33 weeks and just the regular complaints...heartburn, semi-sore back (nothing awful or debilitating), tired, and not sleeping super great. All of this is to be expected and it's not earth-shattering. I have been surprised though, at how swollen my fingers have been again this time around, even in the dead of winter.

Thus I give you, my very few "pregnancy essentials" for baby girl #2 (and my very second time to do a photoshop collage, can you tell? why do the colors look funky?):

This is not a joke: I cannot stress enough how essential Pepcid is for me to get through the day. I wake up around 6-6:30 every morning, and before eating or drinking a THING, feel heartburn like I never feel in regular life. It is not fun. I have to take this twice/day without fail, or I am feeling the burn (pun intended). I guess some people just experience this more than others? My only complaint from my first labor/delivery, post-epidural, was the horrendous heartburn that continued to plague me. It was like a switch turned off: as SOON as Juliette was born, it was over. And I didn't have it again until around 15-16 weeks pregnant with this little nugget! I really can empathize with people who live with this on a consistent basis (ie, my husband).

The Burkes clued us in to these honey grahams several weeks ago and we all love them! It is the perfect late-night snack. Yum yum yum. I have been trying this time around to be better about not keeping ice cream and general junk around (notwithstanding going through Thanksgiving and Christmas, what a joke). Another fave have been making vegan chocolate chip cookies, but they deserve a post all their own.

And finally, I've loved these compression tights (mine are actually navy, I'm not sure why this is showing up such a bright blue, although they're cute). They are a beast to get on, but once they're on they feel so good! Thanks to Kate for cluing me into these! They look like regular tights.

I cannot say enough how [infinitely more] pleasant it's been being pregnant in the fall/winter. I love my little August baby but sheesh! How fun is it to hide under cuter things like scarves, cardigans, and tall boots?

I am getting so excited to hold our little newborn bundle, though the state of our house right now causes me to be thankful there are still 7 weeks left. We hope to get Juliette gradually moved into her new room over the next 2 weeks. Fingers crossed!

Banana Bread for Dummies

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Anyone who knows me really well knows that the absolute one food I will not put in my mouth is a banana. I have never been able to stomach them (except apparently as a baby). I'm not exactly sure when this changed, but I'm guessing somewhere around 3, because I have really been disgusted by them as long as I can remember. In fact, I think Jonathan was sort of worried I wouldn't give them to our babies/children because we have never even had them in our house. (side note: my dear husband can stomach bananas but they are not his favorite by any stretch of the imagination--he can take them or leave them, mostly leave them. And to that I say whew...I've really lucked out of ever needing to fix banana pudding, bananas foster, etc., as long as we both shall live.)

Juliette, of course, loves them, as I imagine most babies do. The squishiness (ew) and sweetness are probably hard for any baby to resist. Since mashing them, pureeing them, cutting them, smelling them, etc. for Juliette, I have been able to get over myself somewhat and stomach the whole thing a little better (no way have any actually been ingested though).

Since we've had them around the house more over the past year, I've had some overripe bananas sitting around, as I guess most people do when they keep bananas around. Enter: banana bread.

This may seem weird, but I actually sort of like banana bread. I don't think it tastes like bananas at all. My mom made it frequently growing up, and I just never really got an overwhelming banana-smell/taste vibe from it. Banana popsicles, banana pudding, etc. are another story.

So the first time I had some old bananas in need of being folded into a bread where they belonged, I took to the internet to find a quick recipe, in which I had all the ingredients on-hand (very key).

I stumbled upon Martha Stewart's, and thought to myself, this must be a safe bet.

Well, I have made it probably 3-4 times now, and it does not disappoint! The addition of sour cream, or Greek yogurt, as I've done below, gives the bread a great texture (not too dense). And best of all, it doesn't taste like bananas (to me at least).

I am obviously not a banana bread connoisseur in any way (see the forty paragraphs above about banana hatred), and I understand banana bread is one of those nostalgic foods for many people, whose great-aunt had the best recipe, etc.... but this is a good, simple recipe if you're looking for one with good results and in which you most likely have all the ingredients already. Also, you can put nuts in if you want, but I don't.

Martha Stewart's Banana Bread, the Leslie Way
slightly adapted, from here

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or regular white flour if that's what you have)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (which ends up being about 2, I think)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan (or 4 mini pans); set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, and beat to incorporate.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon if desired. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Add bananas, Greek yogurt, and vanilla; mix to combine. Pour into prepared pan(s).
  3. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes for mini pans or 1 hour 10 minutes for large loaf pan. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.

17 Months to Remember

Friday, January 11, 2013

Doesn't she look so old here?

Here is a list of things I want to remember about my Juliette at 17 months old:


You love an audience. You are not shy in the least, and do not get scared by strangers. In fact, whenever we go shopping or anywhere in public, you will wave to most of the passersby and say "Hi."  (They rarely hear you but you do not seem to notice. I'm glad because my feathers are ruffled enough for you.)

This links in nicely with Favorite Pastime #2: dancing, bopping, clapping—you are truly a victim of the beat. You just can't help yourself and you're usually ready to perform. My favorites are the moves that are kinda in slow-mo, involving  knees and arms that kinda emulate surfing. The silly songs your daddy and I continue to make up somehow continue to calm you down when you're squirmy or upset about something. Case in point: your winter coat has a hood. You do not like to wear the hood unless I sing the hood's [pretty dumb] theme song, "Little Red Riding Hood." See?

You're getting really great at communicating what you want. Luckily this means a lot of whining has been nipped in the bud, with learning words like “help,” which you now use frequently when you need help with something. Another new one (that I don't really remember teaching you) is "up"--oftentimes I will be sitting on the floor to play with you, in my very pregnant/rotund/settled way, and you'll walk over and push up underneath my knee and say very clearly "up....up." So, I clumsily get up and help you find whatever it is you are looking for in that moment.

After several several months (don't remember how many? four?) of having 12 teeth, your bottom canines have come through. I suspect the top ones will be next. These were no cake walk.

You're getting very good at responding to our questions, usually with "dee" (yes) or "no" (which oftentimes includes a head shake).  Your answer doesn't always correspond with your intended answer (e.g., "would you like some milk?" "no" but really mean yes), but it's fun to have you responding to us nonetheless.

You love to ask to “watch”'ve picked up the request "watch" recently, which usually used while I'm cooking or putting on makeup. In the kitchen, this often involves your daddy's help so I can use both hands to continue my task while you "watch." 

You like to be carried around the house (oops). I'm not ready to give this up yet (I miss you so much during the days!), even if I can't last as long doing it as I used to. Jonathan/Daddy made a good point the other night when I was saying how it was getting kinda harder for me to carry you around--"both of your babies are just going to keep getting bigger."  

You still have your paci, though only in your bed at night. I am willing to let this take us through big girl bed transition/new baby, but we'll see. Your teachers at school are encouraging otherwise. You're still in size 5 diapers, and are outgrowing most of your 18-24 month clothes! Ack! Where did my baby go?

DeeDee, the pink mouse (first seen here, a sweet gift from a sweet friend who is affectionately known as DeDe...coincidence??), is your true love right now. See, you've been always saying "Hi deedee" and "bye deedee" instead of just Hi and Bye, and we had no idea who DeeDee was or why you were saying this? Then one morning when I got you up, you said Hi DeeDee, and I motioned to your pink mouse and said "Is this DeeDee?" and you said "dee!" and she's been the much beloved DeeDee ever since. 

Over the weekend, you were slaying us with walking up to us saying “Happy, happy” (sounding like "hop-py") and clapping/bopping. This meant you wanted us to sing "Happy and You Know It" because you know the clapping motions and the stomping motions. Cute. You have an Elmo book with about 213,423 verses to this song (yeah, that's a fun one), but you did pick up a keeper. They have a "if you're scared and you know it give a shriek" verse, and you do this adorable "shriek" if we sing it.  A real family crowd-pleaser.

Your big love is still books, but you'll watch a little Blue's Clues and Sesame Street (never really a whole episode and never sitting still). You go through books like water, saying "book book," backing into our laps and reaching for another. Sitting still is a rarity (dear readers, this is not an exaggeration by any stretch).

Charlie's mommy Mrs. Anna trimmed your hair a few weeks ago and it looks so cute! She took probably an inch and a half off the back and you now have this cute little baby bob (it was getting sort of mane-ish back there). 

You're doing great with "thanks" (I had to scrap "thank you"--you would just giggle, as you do when there's a word you don't want to/can't say).

We have some big transitions headed our way, with big girl bed and baby sister just around the corner. I am confident that you will tackle these with the same sweet spirit and willing attitude that you do everything else. We are over the moon for you, my sweetest.

Easy Spinach Quiche, for Mondays

Monday, January 07, 2013

I was a day care baby too. We lived in Dallas when I was born, and my parents both worked downtown, where my dad's company sponsored a day care center (which was supposedly really awesome).

I went here until I was 3, and Martha until she was a little older than 1. We moved to Memphis a few months after her birthday (where my brother was born a year later...the only natural-born Tennesseean among us), and my mom stayed home with us after this.

Legend has it that at our Dallas day care, on the lunch menu every Monday was quiche. As you can imagine, I don't remember exact details (different varieties of quiche? same every week?), but I do know that my mom continued the Monday Quiche tradition looooooong after we left Dallas and grew up in Memphis.

This is my mommy's recipe, a simple favorite, adaptable in many ways. One of those recipes that hasn't quite been transcribed or referenced in written form too many times--she can make it from memory.

Spinach Quiche

- 1 prepared pie crust
- 1 10 oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, cooked per package directions and patted dry
- ham/turkey/bacon, optional
- onions (half of an onion? however much yo ulike), chopped
- 1 1/2 cups of cheese
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups half and half 
- 1/4 tsp ground mustard

Cook spinach according to package directions, drain and pat dry. Sprinkle cheese in the bottom of rolled-out pie crust (I spray the pie plate with Pam before pressing the crust in). Cook the onions in a smidge of olive oil, add bacon if you want it and cook until crispy. Let cool and sprinkle on top of cheese (or you can cook onions, then shred some ham or turkey and spread it over onions/cheese...whatever you like). Spread/sprinkle half of the spinach on top of onions. Whisk eggs with half & half and ground mustard, and a little salt and pepper. Pour on top of spinach/veggie mix. Bake for 50 mins-1 hour in 350 degree oven.

Note: this recipe is for one quiche but my mom usually makes two at a time since the recipe only takes half of the spinach in the package, and since there are 2 pie crusts per box. Easily doubled!

This is a very adaptable recipe--yesterday, we only had whole milk and heavy cream on hand, so I used a little under 1 cup of whole milk and the rest heavy cream and it turned out great. Also, I just use whatever cheese I have on hand. It doesn't need a meat in it either, to have good flavor. 

It's Monday...make some quiche for dinner! 
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