My Favorite Cookbooks – A holiday gift giving guide

My favorite cookbooks - a gift giving guide
My favorite cookbooks – a gift giving guide

Life has been a bit odd lately with moving across the country and figuring out our new schedule. With all the changes my cooking and recipe development are a bit off, or maybe I’m just building up to the next round of creation. I have been cooking from recipes a lot lately! Totally crazy, I know! I’ve been having a lot of fun and learning a lot, but haven’t been focusing on my own recipes. I had a whole plan for recipes I wanted to get to you for the Holidays, but alas, it is not going as planned.  Instead, I’ll let you know what I have been doing, and give a few recommendations for gifts for yourself or others who love to cook!

My favorite is The Food Lab

This is an essential for everyone who loves to cook, but also loves to know why a recipe works or doesn’t work. The beauty in this book is not only the recipes, but also the vast amount of knowledge that gives you the information you need to make your favorite recipe better, or more consistent, or just reaffirms that yours is the best.

My newest and quickly becoming my favorite is Bravetart 

This is a baking lovers dream. Similar to The Food Lab it has some science on why baking works the way it does. It also adds some history about the recipes and how they became what they are today. This is for the person who is a die hard “from scratch” baker. There is even a recipe for homemade sprinkles!

Also a new one for me is A Recipe For Cooking by the same author, and another favorite is Twelve Recipes

Twelve Recipes is the book that pushed me over the edge into trying new things and various flavor combinations that I had previously avoided. These two books are a must for any cook, and will truly delight. Cal Peternell is an amazing writer and the books can be enjoyed simply for the pleasure of reading them and have the added bonus of completely mind blowing recipes broken down in an approachable manner. I often laugh out loud while reading these cookbooks.

Finally; Eat Your Drink: Culinary Cocktails 

This is for the diehard who already has every cookbook known to man, or the person in your life who is hard to buy for an enjoys the finer things in life. I honestly haven’t tried to make any of the drinks in this book but I have read it from cover to cover.

Any and all of these would make lovely gifts for the food lover in your life. If you’re really stuck and they already have these books then check out the equipment recommendations that the authors give. I’m sure there is a gadget or high quality piece of equipment there that would make a fantastic gift.

 

 

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Vegan Frendsgiving/Thanksgiving Spice Cake

Vegan Spice Cake
Vegan Spice Cake

The recipe for this delightful morsel of a cake has been passed down from my great-grandmother. It was one of the first recipes I posted when I started my blog several years ago. I didn’t have a picture of it, and I never uploaded one, until today. Just in time to celebrate the start of the holiday season. This cake is ultra moist, full of warming spices, and somehow never too sweet. It is perfect for dessert, breakfast, or as an addition to a holiday brunch. It also takes about 5 minutes to make and makes a big impression with its amazing fall flavors. This is the cake to bake when you have company as the whole house smells like you’ve spent hours in the kitchen as the warm fragrance of fall baking spices waft through the air.

Makes 1 9×9 cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk, or dairy milk
  • 1 tsp. vinegar (apple cider or white, but I’ve also used rice in a pinch)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 TBL vegetable shortening
  • 1 TBL chia seeds mixed with 2 TBL water, or 1 egg, or equivalent of 1 egg in whatever form you like
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 370F.
  2. Add vinegar to milk and set aside.
  3. Cream together sugar and shortening until smooth.
  4. Add the chia seed/water mixture to sugar and mix together.
  5. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.
  6. Alternate between adding flour mixture and soy milk to the shortening, mixing thoroughly between additions.
  7. Pour batter into a greased 9×9 cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cake pulls away from the edges of the pan and a cake tester comes out mostly clean.
  8. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes if you can.

Picture Diary

We have moved from the Boston area to the Seattle area and have not yet settled in. We are in temporary housing for a few more days (it’s been about two weeks) and things are going well. I have been cooking, but absolutely have not been doing recipe development. Sorry. I know the holidays are coming and I need to get you some amazing things to feature at your holiday table, but this is not the week. Instead you can get a quick peek into my life with two littles in temporary housing.

Leaf Lanterns
Leaf Lanterns
Pumpkin Painting
Pumpkin Painting
Vegan Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas
Vegan Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas
My avocado plant that flew here with us
My avocado plant that flew here with us
Trick or treating
Trick or treating
Me with coffee before kids adjusted to time change
Me with coffee before kids adjusted to time change

Happy Anniversary To My Husband

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

Tomorrow is my 6th anniversary, which means my husband and I have been together about 10.5 years! In that time we have lived in 6 different states, countless houses, tents, and trailers, bought and sold one house, changed jobs about a million times, had two children, and are now preparing to move across the country again! It’s been fun, and I can’t wait to keep living the dream with my amazing, thoughtful, compassionate, hard working, incredible father of  a husband. I love you Aspen Gone Wild.

To celebrate I’m making a short list of my husband’s favorites, and maybe, if he’s lucky, I’ll make one for him in the next few weeks:) This year my husband and I will be spending our anniversary celebrating with my sister-in-law for some of her pre-wedding festivities. I wish her the same love, kindness, and respect that I find in my own marriage. Love you J-dazzle!

My Husband’s Favorites:

The best vegan chocolate chip cookies
The best vegan chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

Cold Brew Whiskey Coffee

 

 

 

Vegan Chickpea Cutlets
Vegan Chickpea Cutlets

Chickpea Patties

Pot Pie

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled Red Onions
Pickled Red Onions

As I’ve been exploring balancing flavors, and trying new food combinations I have truly come to love pickled red onions. Pickled everything really, but these are one of my favorites. It is not one of those ingredients that brings and item into focus when I see it on a menu. I feel it pairs particularly well with things that are sweet. Think sandwiches with roasted vegetables and their inherent sweetness that needs a bit of acidity for balance. Yummy. I made this particular batch to go with harissa roasted sweet potatoes. I also threw on some roasted salted pecans, and some candied pine nuts. It was yummy.  This recipe is adapted from Bobby Flay, one if his 3000 recipes for pickled red onions.

 Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 TBL granulated sugar
  • 1 TBL kosher salt
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat, stir, and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
  3. Place the onion in a heat safe container with a lid, then poor the hot vinegar mixture over the onions.
  4. Cover and allow onions to sit for at least an hour, up to 4 days
  5. Remove from liquid and use to top everything from sandwiches to sweet potatoes.

Pumpkin Spice French Toast

Pumpkin Spiced French Toast
Pumpkin Spiced French Toast

It still feels like summer here on the East Coast, but fall is fast approaching. Fall is my favorite! I can’t wait for the cooler days and the leaves to change color, to be able to wear jeans without sweating to death, and sweatshirts. Who doesn’t love a cozy sweatshirt? There have been a few hints of fall this week with a couple of leaves falling and the nights becoming slightly cooler. It has gotten me in the mood. I make pumpkin muffins at the beginning of the week, and here we are making pumpkin spiced french toast. No, I do not drink Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, that’s yucky, too sweet, but I love the real stuff. Also, pumpkin is a vegetable, and, to be honest, I used butternut squash puree today so it’s another sneaky way for me to put veggies in everything. Toddler approved!

Top this fragrant french toast with maple syrup, coconut whipped cream, cinnamon roll topping, or anything else your heart desires.

 Ingredients

  • 2 happy eggs
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree or butternut squash puree
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • few dashes nutmeg
  • 6 slices whole grain bread (I used a flourless sprouted bread)
  • Coconut oil for cooking

Instructions

  1. Whisk the eggs until uniformly yellow.
  2. Add pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg whisking to combine.
  3. Dip bread into batter one slice at a time, and allow to rest while your pan pre-heats. This lets the batter soak into the bread a bit which makes for a better texture.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  5. Once the pan is hot add oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add bread in a single layer leaving room between the slices. I have to cook this in 2 batches.
  7. Cook on the first side until golden brown, 2-3 minutes, flip and cook until the second side is also golden brown, a few more minutes.
  8. Serve hot with topping of choice.

Even Better Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I posted a recipe for chocolate chip cookies a long time ago; I have been using the same recipe for ages, and it is delicious! However, in the last year I learned a few things about chocolate chip cookies thanks to Food Lab and my BFF Kenji (yes this friendship is all in my head). The two things that I have incorporated into my recipe are the refrigerate the dough overnight, and to finish the cookies with salt. These two simple steps are a game changer. The texture of the cookies is a bit softer, and they develop a deeper flavor. Yummy. The salt, I feel is just the perfect addition to bring out the flavor of the cookie, and as a counter point to the sweetness.

If you are in a rush you can bake these right away, but I would only bake as many as you need and save the rest of the dough for the next day.

 Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup neutral flavored oil (I use refined coconut oil)
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery sticks
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 TBL water
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups chocolate chips
  • kosher salt, or other coarse salt for finishing

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl cream together oil, Earth Balance, brown and white sugar, vanilla extract, and water mixing until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add flour, baking soda, and salt giving dry ingredients a stir before combining with the creamed mixture. Mix dry and creamed mixture just until combined.
  3. Add chocolate chips and stir to incorporate.
  4. Place covered mixture in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.
  5. The next day remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit for about 20 minutes so you can scoop into it.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  7. Drop cookie dough by the spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets leaving 2″ between each cookie.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.
  9. Sprinkle cookies with salt, just a few grains per cookie, then transfer from cookie sheet onto cooling rack immediately.
  10. Wait a few minutes before eating to prevent burning your mouth on hot chocolate chips.
  11. Enjoy responsibly.