Sunday, March 26, 2017

Vegan Lemon Shortbreads

On the eve of the snowpocalypse, I told my tutoring staff that if the university cancelled classes the next day, I'd eat my socks. We have a long history of remaining open when it's horrifying out, and closing if Spring Break happens to have a snow storm coming in from Downstate. Students driving home are more important than local driving in, or some such nonsense. Seriously though, everyone else will be cancelled, and we'll be heading in.

Little did I know, Jack Frost had done a wee bit of re-routing, and Binghamton got some of the worst of the storm dubbed Stella.  On campus, we had 31.3 inches in 24 hours. So....yeah, school got cancelled.

Which left me in sock eating territory.  With a challenge.

You see, part of dealing with English language tutors who love international students, is that it tends to bring with it a crunchy crowd. Nothing against crunchiness, although I think most vegan substitutes protect animals at the cost of human health. On this staff, I've got vegans, and one poor tutor with a peanut allergy.

I certainly was not going to eat actual cloth socks, but cookies shaped like socks were doable. I called my mom, and checked to see if she had a Christmas stocking cutter, because I don't  (not eating things that are red often guides my buying habits, and American stockings at least, are generally red). She had one, so I spent 10 minutes in the grocery store pouring over the ingredients of several brands of margarine to make sure it lacked peanuts and fish oil.  I didn't even know I had to worry about fish oil in margarine, so I learned something. It's a food I never keep in the house of my own will.

The resulting cookies are not as delicious as the ones full of butter, because IMHO you just can't bet the real thing, but they're still dang tasty shortbreads.

1 small lemon
1 1/2 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar + more for kneading
1/2 cup Smart Balance Olive Oil Light

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a medium bowl, zest 1 small lemon. Use about 1 Tbsp. of the lemon juice as well.
  3. Add in flour, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, and Smart Balance.
  4. Using a hand-mixer, beat until creamed.
  5. If dough is a little too soft, sprinkle tabletop with flour and knead until just beyond touchable.
  6. The sprinkle tabletop with powdered sugar and knead until a nice, soft dough forms. About the consistency of play doh.
  7. Sprinkle more powdered sugar, and roll out dough about 1/4 inch thick.
  8. Cut with desired cookie cutter.
  9. Place on parchment covered baking sheet.
  10. Bake 12-15 minutes until edges lightly golden.
  11. Allow to cool 5 minutes on tray before removing to cool on wax paper or rack.
  12. Store in an air tight container once completely cool.
Makes 1 dozen at 110 calories a cookie

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

1-2-3 Hot Chocolate for One

Snowed in and no Swiss Miss!  I'm in the heart of the nasty snow mess and for the last 48 hours it's just been snowing. We actually broke the record for snowfall in a 24 hour period, and have oficially hadmore snow than the Blizzard of 1993.

And after shoveling, and shoveling, and shooooveling all I wanted was a hot cocoa. But I sent the Ovaltine up to the new place already.

No problem. I'll wing it, and this is a nice, easy recipe to remember.

You can, of course, cut back on the sugar. But honestly, when it comes to hot chocolate, go big or go home.

1 cup so delicious unsweetened coconut milk (or milk)
2 Tbsp. baking cocoa
3 Tbsp. sugar
Dash of salt
(Optional: booze-this batch was made with McGillicuddy Vanilla. Just toss it in right at the end.)

Combine everything in a small saucepan, and whisk until simmering.

220 calories.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Monster Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

I'm getting ready to move, and I still have a lot of frozen winter veggies, so I'm trying to use them up over the next few weeks.  The easiest thing by far to play with is mashed and pureed squash, so I figured I'd start there. The beets, after all, can be used for brownies come summer.

I found a promising recipe for flourless cookies using squash, which were super low calories, but when I pulled it together it was soup. And soup, no matter how hard you try, does not become a cookie.

So, I used a bit of chemistry, and a bit of experimentation, and ended up with these huge, peanut butter oatmeal cookies just packed full of butternut squash. Which, of course, resulted in a lower calorie cookie with lots of vitamin A and fiber.

A cookie the size of a muffin. Lightly peanut butter flavored, cakey and sweet. And still less calories than your favorite Subway cookie.

And we all love cookies we can eat more of. And the kids will never know...

3/4 cup butternut, acorn, or pumpkin squash, mashed
3/4 cup reduced fat peanut butter, creamy
1 cup quick oats
3/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In food processor or blender, combine everything but the flour. Pulse low until well mixed.
  3. Add mixture to flour in medium bowl.
  4. Mix until well combined.
  5. Scoop out onto parchment covered baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 15-20 min. until bottoms golden.
Makes 12 monster cookies at 180 calories a cookie. Or make smaller for 24 cookies at 90 calories a cookie.