Saturday, December 18, 2010

Vegan Milano Cookies and an Old-School Tofu Scramble

My mom and I did a lot of baking this week. We made up a bunch of different cookies and snacks to give out as gifts. We packaged all of the different cookies up in little bags and then placed the bags in a Christmas tin decorated with holiday ribbons and bows. We then gave them out before Christmas so that people wouldn't be too burnt out on holiday food to eat our goodies. Lol. My mom and sister's items were not vegan, but my four items were. This year, I made: gingerbread men, jam thumbprints, cranberry almond biscotti, and these "milano" cookies you see here (or as my boyfriend Drew calls them, "E.L. Fudges"). Nobody else in my family is vegan (or even vegetarian), so I just snuck them in with everything else.

I gotta forewarn you though, I've never ate a Pepperidge Farm Milano cookie. I just know that they're crisp vanilla cookies with a cookie filling. I can't vouch that they're accurate, but I can vouch that they're delicious! If I had rolled them out instead of doing the "flatten-a-ball-with-a-cup" method, they would've been thinner and crispier (and also had a perfect oval shape...). You can do that if you'd like to make them more authentic. When you just flatten a ball of dough with a cup, the cookie tends to be a little softer in the middle and crispy on the edges.

I also added a little orange zest to the chocolate center to just give it a little flair. I thought the flavor went with it quite nicely. Mom said that these were her favorite out of the whole lot of cookies, even more than her white chocolate-macadamia nut cookies. That, my friends, is success!

 Cookie makin' elves ain't got nuthin' on me.

Vegan Milano (or E.L. Fudge) Cookies:
3 2/3 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. Earth Balance (2 sticks), softened
2/3 c. coconut oil
3/4 c. powdered sugar, sifted (just make sure they are no lumps)
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. egg replacer plus 2 Tb. warm water, mixed well
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (or 2 tsp. imitation)

Chocolate filling:
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 tsp. fresh orange zest

To make the cookies:
1. Preheat to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, oil, and sugars for about 2 minutes, until very light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the egg replacer, vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and add about half the flour mixture, mixing to incorporate. By hand, add the remainder of the flour mixture, mixing well. Let the dough stand 10 minutes to firm up slightly.
4. Roll the tablespoon-sized portions of dough between the palms of your hands to form balls; place them on the baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Wipe the bottom of a flat-bottomed glass lightly with oil, then press down on a ball to form a thin cookie round. Continue forming the cookies in this manner.
5. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, for 6 to 9 minutes or until the cookies are just light golden brown around the edges; do not overbake. (Rotate the pan from front to back about halfway through baking to ensure even browning.) Let cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the chocolate filling:
1. Melt the chocolate with the orange zest in a microwave-safe bowl on medium power. Stir about every 30 seconds until the chocolate is completely smooth. This may take 3-5 minutes depending on your microwave.

To assemble the cookies:
Place about 1-2 tsp. worth of chocolate on the backside of one cookie, then top with another cookie and lightly press until the chocolate reaches out to the edge. Allow the chocolate centers to cool and harden before enjoying. The amount of chocolate you use per cookie will kind of depend on how large you made the cookies.

Enjoy the tastiness that are these awesome cookies, and don't forget to share!

Now, let's balance out that massive sugar load with a little savory...

I woke up one morning with an intense craving for a tofu scramble. Tofu scrambles are like introductory vegan food. For most of us, it's one of the first tofu dishes we made ourselves. It's easy, quick to prepare, high in protein, and makes an awesome filling breakfast (or lunch or dinner). I literally have not made one of these in like, three years, (when I first went vegan) but the craving that morning was too strong to deny! Besides, I'm a good little vegan and I always seem to have a block of tofu in my fridge. Lol. Although we all have our favorite recipe, and although most recipes are about the same, I've decided to go ahead and post my version of a tofu scramble here (after I managed to dig out my old recipe). After all, what vegan blog doesn't have a complimentary recipe for a tofu scramble?

And man oh man, did that scramble hit the spot! I embarked onto my plant systematics final ready to go, and truly tofu-powered!

Tofu and Vegetable Scramble:
1/2 (14 or 16 oz.) container of firm tofu, pressed and drained for about 10-15 minutes
2 tsp. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. tamari
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. each garlic and onion powder
1/8 tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp. smoked paprika

1/4 a green pepper, diced
1/4 a red pepper, diced
3 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 an onion, diced

1. Mash the pressed and drained tofu in a bowl with a fork until it's scrambled egg-looking.

2. Add the nooch, tamari, minced garlic, parsley, garlic and onion powders, turmeric, and smoked paprika with the mashed tofu, and use the fork to blend it all up nicely. If you'd like it a little more yellow, like eggs, you can add some more turmeric. :)

3. In a skilled sprayed with some nonstick, saute the red and green peppers, onions, and mushrooms until soft. About 3-5 minutes.

4. Add the tofu to the skillet and saute for another 2 or 3 minutes. Basically just until the veggies are done, the tofu is hot, and the veggies and tofu are well mixed up.

Enjoy! This dish is also complimented by some black salt, which tends to be a little eggy (due to the sulfur in it), but is also good without it. Serve it alongside some toast and maybe some Gimmie Lean, and you're set! This also makes two average-sized or one large serving.

And it didn't come out of a chicken's butt.

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