Once again, I was unable to take a photo before Peter ate the majority of the batch. Oh well!

There’s been a big tub of frosting in the fridge for awhile now, way back from when I made a birthday cake for one of Peter’s friends a few weeks ago.  While Peter has slowly been eating the frosting straight out of the container, I have been thinking of the perfect recipe to use it in.  I have never made sandwich cookies before, and this was just the excuse I needed to give them a try.  Plus, there’s a vegan sugar cookie recipe that I’ve been determined to get right.  The first time I made the cookies, they came out way too crispy.  I have a tendency to over-bake things, mostly just out of fear of under-baking them.  I also had used whole wheat flour, and this is one of those times when white flour really does make a difference.  In the end, they turned out more like tooth-breaking biscuits that soft, tasty sugar cookies.

I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes again — at least, I thought I wouldn’t.  I dutifully used all-white flour  instead of whole wheat, and I kept a close eye on the cookies while in the oven.  Sadly, my over-baking tendencies still won over, and the cookies were significantly more crispy than they needed to be.  Overall though, they were still good, and I would definitely use the recipe again.  NEXT TIME, I will not over-bake them.  WILL NOT!  Please help me, god.

Both the cookie and the frosting recipe originally came from The Joy of Vegan Baking Cookbook.

 

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (this is a time NOT to use whole wheat!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter, room temperature (I used Earthbalance)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer (equals 1 egg)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour and baking powder, and set aside.
  3. In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes with an electric mixer. Add the egg replacer, water, and vanilla extract.  Beat for at least 1 minute, then add the flour mixture and beat until the dough is smooth.
  4. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until firm enough to roll.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Take out half of the chilled dough from the refrigerator and roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface.  It should be about 1/4 inch thick (thicker is better than thinner here).
  6. Cut out the cookies using cookie cutters (or a glass turned upside-down) and place on the prepared baking sheets.  To prevent cookies from spreading and losing their shape, put the baking sheets in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Bake cookies for 12 to 15 minutes (probably closer to 12), or until they begin to brown around the edges (seriously, RIGHT when you see brown, TAKE THEM OUT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!).
  8. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes 20 cookies

Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vegan butter (I used 1/4 cup Earthbalance butter, and 1/4 cup Earthbalance shortening)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons water or nondairy milk, or more as needed.

Preparation:

  1. Cream the butter until smooth (an electric mixer really helps here).
  2. On low speed, add powdered sugar, and cream for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and milk, and turn mixer on high once all ingredients are relatively well-combined.
  4. Beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons more milk if it’s too dry, and cover with plastic warp until ready to use (so it doesn’t try out).

This should be more than enough for sandwich cookies – it makes enough for an entire 9-inch cake.
Enjoy!  :)

Red Lentil Soup

October 23, 2010

I realize that it was only a day or two ago that I posted Peter’s incredible ‘Lil Bit O’Errrthing’ Cookies, but in order to make my J452 deadline, I have to write two posts per week, and Sunday is fast approaching.

I have to say, one of the best things about my J452 Strategic Public Relations Communications class is that it actually does force me to keep up on my blog – something I love doing, but that easily gets tossed to the side when my schedule gets busy.  J452 has also given me a new understanding and appreciation for social media communications.  While I have been a capable and regular user of Facebook for the past couple of years, microblogging has been something that until recently, I’ve stayed away from.  Hopefully, that can be something that changes this term.  At this point, I have a basic (but admittedly still limited) understanding of how to use Twitter.  For awhile I was restricted to simple re-tweets, but I am proud to announce that I now know how to post my own updates, send DM’s (Direct Messages), use @Replies and hashtags.  Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to sent out blog updates via Twitter.  It can’t be that hard, right?

Anyways, here’s the latest recipe.  As usual, this soup was inspired from a recipe I found on 101Cookbooks.com.  I’ve been wanting to make something with red lentils for a long time, and this recipe was a perfect one to use.  This soup is creamy, hearty, and delicious.  It’s extremely simple, and definitely healthy.  Could there be a more perfect combination?

Red Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 shallots, chopped (I bet green onions would be fine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (or water)
  • 1 1/3 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup brown rice, rinsed
  • salt to taste (instead I added a big teaspoon of Marmite, but I realize this might be hard to find if you haven’t been to England recently)
  • slivered almonds, toasted (optional)
  • kalamata olives, chopped (optional)
  • avocado, chopped (optional)
  • fresh tomatoes, chopped (optional)

Preparation:

  1. In a big soup pot, combine the olive oil, onion, green onions, and red pepper flakes.  Heat on medium until onions turn brown and caramelize a little bit, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in the broth, bring to a boil, then stir in the lentils and rice.  Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the rice isn’t too crunchy anymore.
  3. Serve each bowl topped with almonds, tomatoes, olives, avocado, and a slight drizzle of olive oil if you want.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

By the time I could take a picture, there were only four cookies left. They're that good!

When I got home from Washington D.C. Tuesday night from the PRSSA 2010 National Conference, I was greeted with a multitude of surprises.  Thanks to my wonderful boyfriend, the kitchen was clean, there were fresh flowers on the table, and a matching set of green and yellow gloves, scarf and hat – all individually wrapped in the previous day’s Oregon Daily Emerald newspaper.  On top of all that, there was a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies on the counter.  I could not have been more happy to come home.

Before I get to the recipe, I should say that this is the first batch of vegan cookies that Peter has ever made – and possibly the first batch of cookies in general that he has ever made.  Not only are they vegan, but I was told that they are healthy too.  Not only did he make up the recipe by himself, but the cookies actually turned out good.  They are giant and crispy, with flavors of toasted hazelnut coming together with cinnamon and nutmeg that are just perfect for fall.

I have to say though, the best part the cookies was reading Peter’s recipe after I had him write it down for safe-keeping.  In Peter’s words, here it is:

Lil’ Bits O’Errrthing Cookies

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1+ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 30-40 hazelnuts, shelled, crushed (by hand) –> then toasted/baked in toaster oven for 2 1/2 minutes.
  • 2 handfuls chocolate chips
  • some sprinkles, to taste
  • some oatmeal, to taste
  • little bit of baking powder
  • little pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 little pinches of cinnamon
  • 1+ teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 to 1-inch slab of vegan butter (EarthBalance)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 egg from happy chicken (not in original recipe, but recommended for next time to make cookies less dry)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1+ teaspoons molasses

Preparation:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix together dry ingredients, form depression in the center once mixed.
  3. Mix wet ingredients; egg last.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into depression in dry ingredients; mix.
  5. Mold into ‘spheres’, place on cookie sheet.
  6. Put into oven, flip cookies AND trays (top-to-bottom) after 5 minutes.  Take out after 4-ish more minutes.  (I wanted to clarify this – basically, after 5 minutes, rotate the two cookie sheets, and yes, flip over each individual cookie).

Makes 24 decent-sized cookies.

 

Here we are at the PRSSA 2010 Nationl Conference with our awesome matching journalism shirts.

 

Right now, I am currently in Washington D.C., at the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) 2010 National Conference.  We’re staying at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park hotel, and it is gorgeous. At the conference, we have the chance to meet public relations professionals in a variety of industry sectors, connecting with agency, corporate and graduate school representatives throughout the weekend.  By the end of the Conference, we’ll be prepared to bring back the skills we’ve learned to our very own University of Oregon PRSSA Chapter.  Considering the fact that I’m getting reimbursed for this entire trip, I’m feeling pretty darn lucky right now.

We started out the morning by doing a bit of exploring, and found Open City, a wonderful little coffeehouse/diner/bar that completely reminds me of Portland.  I decided on a bowl of vegan granola with nuts and dried fruit with soymilk and a side of hash-browns – which was delicious.  They even have a vegan tofu scramble, complete with hash-browns and toast.   The coffee was great, of course.

 

This is what Sierra's latte looked like. You gotta love the animal crackers!

 

Located on 2331 Calvert Street in Washington D.C. (Woodley Park), Open City was voted Best Breakfast Location in 2006 by CityVoter Washington D.C..  Next time you’re in the area, give it a try.  They even have an entirely gluten-free menu available!

Other than that, it’s been a day of professional clothing and Chapter Development Sessions, where we learned all about how to improve our own PRSSA chapter at the University of Oregon.  Already, we’re prepared to do a complete re-branding of the UO PRSSA.  It’ll be a lot of work, and it definitely won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.  After grabbing some Indian food for dinner, we showed our spirit at the Open Social, the one and only casual event of the weekend.  While there, we networked like crazy with other Conference attendees and traded school-related gifts like pencils and shot glasses (I know, right?  I was surprised to get a shot glass too.  There are under-21-ers here!).

Tomorrow we’ll be up bright and early for a Continental Breakfast, and then the Keynote Address and Chapter Roll Call.  After a break for lunch, we’ll be attending Professional Development sessions, and Officer Roundtable Discussions.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even have some time in there to finish my Thesis Prospectus before it’s due on Monday.  A girl can always hope…

As of this year, I am a senior at the University of Oregon, trying desperately to finish my degree in Public Relations, while still maintaining a real life that involves cooking and baking.  For my Strategic Public Relations Communications class this term, and I am required to keep blog that is related to public relations.  So, for the next three months, Adventures of a Vegan Girl with include public relations-related posts, and not just recipes.

As of now, I have been a happy vegan for about two and a half years.  Have I been a perfect vegan?  No.  London, France, Switzerland, and Italy did a good job of pushing me back into the vegetarian category for the duration of my time abroad, and cooking for myself was out of the question.

Overall, London proved to be the most vegan-friendly, and is great for vegetarians.  While I was there, my boyfriend sent me the link to a great little website called Vegan London, which outlines how to survive being vegan in London. After spending three months there, I can say that MookyChick really knows her stuff!

Unlike here in the U.S., you can easily find vegan food in the ‘Free-from’ section in the local London supermarkets.  Both Tesco and Sainsburys had plenty of options.  Beware of ‘vegetarian’ cheese, though.  My London host-mom bought some for me thinking it was vegan, but it’s definitely not.  :(

Overall, London was surprisingly vegan/vegetarian aware in general.  Vegan products were well-marketed in grocery stores, and were readily available to the general public.  According to my host-mom, ‘free-range’ eggs really do mean free-range in London, where laws are enforced and the industry is actually regulated.

One thing that I especially enjoyed in London was the delicious vegan soymilk and soy yogurt.  Alpro Soya milk was the most creamy, satisfying vegan “milk” that I have ever tasted, and the Alpro Soya yogurt was literally a godsend.

If only I had known about Alpro’s Soya Chocolate Desserts.  But now I know for  next time.  :)