Thursday, April 21, 2011

S'mores Cookies

I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but it seems to finally be getting to that time of the year for enjoying warm nights outside by a bonfire with friends...which of course means S'MORES!  (YAY!)  A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine and I took a trip down to our friend's house for what we thought was going to be a warm and sunny Sunday Funday.  After the absolutely wretched winter we had, we all had such high hopes of sitting outside in the sun having a few drinks together and just enjoying being outside. Well, it was absolutely beautiful out the whole drive down, but of course once we finally got there we found ourselves bundling up in sweatshirts and jackets so we could sit outside comfortably.  Oh New England weather, you slay me.

With a few handy men around the house, a fire pit was soon built and we were enjoying some grilling, games, and good times.  There's just something about the smell of a bonfire that makes you really itch for the summer and to me, I instantly want s'mores..and lots of them!  Who really cares that you have to wash your clothes and hair a few times to get the smokey smell out?  Not me!  It's totally worth it (in my eyes...and tummy) and ever since that day I had been seriously craving the sweet and gooey deliciosity of the classic camp fire treat.  I really wanted all of the components of that perfect little family favorite, but was looking to make a sweet little twist.  When I found these cookies I knew I needed to make them.  And now you need to, too.  Seriously!  I mean will have people begging for more.  I didn't even want to eat one because I knew I'd clean out the whole batch before I got to share them, so after giving some to co-workers and friends I kept a couple for myself and damn, these are some yummy, chewy, ooey, gooey, chocolatey, awesome cookies! Campfire not required.  (But definitely adds to the fun!)

S'mores Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash of cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups miniature chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 Hershey bars, chopped
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a medium bowl combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt, and dash of cinnamon. 
  • In a second larger bowl beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. 
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. 
  • Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven. 
  • Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a few pieces of hershey bar into each cookies. 
  • Return to the oven and bake an additional 3-4 minutes until fully cooked. 
  • Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Source: Baked Perfection

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Seitan Black Bean Corn Burgers

I honestly can't believe that after being a vegetarian for 8 years, that I am just getting around to making homemade veggie burgers.  That's a long time and a lot of money spent on store-bought brands when they are equally delicious when made from home!  Plus, you know exactly what is going into them and can easily tweak the ingredients to your liking.  I can't even begin to imagine how much I have spent on store-bought veggie products over the years, but I'm sure if I found out I would be quite shocked.  Unfortunately, to live a healthy lifestyle it takes a lot of time, effort, and money to do so and there never seems to be enough hours in the day.  Last week was a perfect example of 24 hours just not being enough to each day.  After a long week, it's my day off and leading up to it I have been dreaming of little creations to get making in the kitchen, errands that need to be run, miles that need to be run, things that need to be cleaned, blogging that needs to stop being neglected, groceries that need to be bought, transcripts that need to be sent, dry cleaning that needs to be sent out..all little odds and ends I wanted to cross off of my "to-do" list.  This morning I woke up ready and raring to go and I'm really hoping to get myself back on track!  My last day off (Monday) was the day I intended to work on all of this as well, but once I woke up and looked outside I found myself facing a quite dismal day...and my motivation level went kaput.  I really can't wait for the nice weather to be here so I start feeling more motivated and accomplished, because this ain't cutting it!

I've mentioned before that the bank that I work in is in a grocery store.  Well, we are faced right across from the check-out lines and I see my fair share of groceries being bought throughout the day.  A co-worker and I came to the conclusion (without any scientific evidence aside from our observation) that it seems that at least 90% of purchases made contain a bag of some sort of chips.  People are always buying bags of them!  I was really quite shocked to see some of the things people buy and in the quantities they buy them, and chips seem to be the leading thing in most people's order.  I mean, they taste good, they're a quick snack, they have a long shelf-life, and mostly everyone likes them, but there's really no nutritional value to them yet everyone loads up on them!  It's all about taste and convenience to some because most people, like myself, find that 24 hours simply isn't enough.  Let's face it..the healthy stuff is usually more expensive, goes bad faster, takes more time to prepare, and requires a little more thought.  And now not only are people strapped for cash much of the time, but they are always in a rush and then many times turn to less healthy alternatives.  It's actually pretty shocking to see on such a large scale!

Okay, just so you know, I am no saint and anything covered in chocolate usually finds it's way into my mouth, but I think there is a fine line in indulging here and there and leading an unhealthy lifestyle.  I don't think life is about restricting yourself from eating things you want, but man is it scary to see the way people eat and how much they eat nowadays.  Not to mention the absolute crap you find in some foods.  I could honestly go on and on and on about how much it appalls me to read ingredient lists and see just what we are putting into ourselves without a second thought (yuck!).  Dave teases me because whenever I go to Trader Joe's I buy one box of regular Joe Joe's and a box of chocolate Joe Joe's (if you don't know, it's the all-natural/trans-fat free equivalent to an Oreo).  I don't buy them trying to trick myself into thinking they are good for me, BUT if I am going to be ingesting something as a treat, I like to know exactly what the ingredients are and I like that my body will know how to store the sugar, the fat, and the protein accordingly instead of it wondering what the heck to do with this chemical-laden thing I just ate (for example: sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, food dyes, etc).  You won't ever catch me putting an icky Splenda in my coffee to save on calories, that's for sure!  ....Okay, okay, I should really apologize for the tangent I am going on (sorry my friends!), but I think that happens when you have an honest love for good food.  Good taste, good quality, goodness all around. Like I said, I'm human and I won't object to a brownie if it comes from a box, but ya just gotta know when it gets to be a liiiiittle too much.  So, with ALL of that being said, I was really intrigued to try making my own veggie burgers for the first time and knowing exactly what was going into them since I controlled the ingredients.  And aside from being less convenient than picking up a box of veggie burgs from the store, they were a real success in my kitchen (and they didn't turn out mushy like a lot of homemade versions!)  Thumbs up!  :)

Seitan Black Bean Corn Burgers
Yields: 6-8 big burgers

  •  1 cup seitan
  • 1 14 oz can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce (I used Bragg's Liquid Aminos)
  • 1/2-1 cup bread crumbs (or 2 slices of bread toasted)
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp high-heat vegetable oil for pan frying
(Note: I doubled up on the spices in my burgers and I thought that yielded a great result in flavor.  Also, you may need to adjust the amount of bread crumbs depending on how moist the seitan is since it varies a lot in moisture content.  I used 3/4 cup)

  • If the seitan is packed in water or broth, drain it.  Add to food processor and process until chopped.
  • Add the beans and process until finely chopped (You may still see the occasional bean piece).  Remove mixture to a mixing bowl.
  • Add the vegan Worcestershire sauce, tamari, bread crumbs, flour, corn, paprika, cumin, chili powder, and salt to the seitan/bean mixture and mix with your hands (you can use a fork, but your hands work best for faster results!)  Adjust the mixture to taste, and add more bread crumbs if the mixture is too wet.  (It should be moist, but not gloppy)
  • Heat oil over medium-high heat, preferably cast iron.
  • Begin forming patties.  (1/4-1/2 cup)  (I used more than 1/4 cup to make them wider to fit the big burger buns I bought, but you don't want them too thick or else they will get mushy in the middle and no one likes a mush-burger!)  These can be made in advance and stored until ready to cook.
  • When ready to cook, brown the burgers until they darken up nicely and get a "char" to them like a real burger would.
  • Serve and enjoy!
Adapted from: