star wars cookies

Last night I made Star Wars cookies. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m a huge Star Wars fan, although I really like the Jawas and R2D2. Shawn on the other hand, he likes Star wars. We have a bunch of little Star Wars characters around our apartment.

Anyway, back to the cookies. I used the sugar cookie recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar
. I wanted to put this recipe to the test after using the sugar cookie recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking
on many occasions. It has worked well for me, but it’s definitely a bit more involved.

The recipe from VCIYCJ was much simpler to put together and easy to work with. The cookies were fairly soft and very sweet. Perhaps next time I’ll cook them so they’re a bit more crispy. Also, I highly recommend chilling them a little bit longer after rolling them before they bake so they don’t spread.

Part of the reason I wanted to make these guys was to practice my cookie decorating technique. Yeah. I definitely made my frosting too thick. While usually I have the opposite problem, things running where you don’t want them to go, it took a lot of effort to get these guys frosted. I got in a little bit of trouble for not decorating any of the Boba Fetts, Next time!

I would love to say that they came out perfectly. They didn’t. They were cute. They were yummy. That’s accomplishment enough for the first attempt. I’ll report back when they come out as I envision.

azteca salad

I do have to mention one other thing, well, because I’m really excited about it. Cute and Delicious was mentioned as one of the Top 7 Vegan Blogs by Native Foods. Oh how could I not be flattered when I am complimented by one of the most delicious vegan restaurants in southern California? Not to mention, they love my cats. Have you been to Native Foods? It’s been a favorite of mine for quite some time. Check out this awesome Ensalada Azteca I had when we visited the Native Foods in Palm Springs a few weeks ago. Yum!

See, I balanced the cookies with some salad. 🙂

Vegan Road Trip: Part 2

Vegan sweets and treats

Though Los Angeles is extremely fortunate to have a number of great vegan restaurants, we are severely lacking in the area of vegan desserts. Though a few places have a few items available, and yeah I know Babycakes is open (but yes I like my gluten and sugar thank you very much), it’s just not the same as what you might find elsewhere. Luckily on our trip we were able to visit two completely vegan bakeries and sample some delicious treats.

Our first stop was Pattycake Bakery in Columbus, Ohio. This adorable storefront was filled with a plethora of home style desserts including cookies, whoopie pies, muffins, cupcakes and more. They have all the stuff you’re always craving. While Shawn and I oogled over the huge selection and tried to decide what to get, the place hustled and bustled with people buying tons of stuff. We ended up getting a whole box ourselves, trying to sample as much as possible, filling it with three different types of cookies, a whoopie pie, and a cupcake. Now I’m a cookie girl and these were some damn good cookies. The whoopie pie was also moist and delicious, wonderfully sweet with just the right amount of creme filling. I wish I had tried one in the other flavors they had to offer. I think if I lived within driving distance of this place I would be there everyday getting cookies. No joke. Everything was high quality without being over the top. Pattycake Bakery was completely delightful.

Also in Columbus, On the Fly, where we got the awesome vegan empanada and chili, had some desserts on display to choose from. Since we knew we were on our way to Pattycake, we didn’t have a chance to try anything, but I have to mention them anyway, because they were so gorgeous. The cupcakes were topped in chocolate ganache as well as vegan buttercream and just looked delightful. They also had jars full of cookies. Did I mention I love cookies? I do.

No trip East would be complete without a stop at the infamous Vegan Treats. While you can get their delicious desserts at almost every vegan and vegetarian restaurant from New York to Pennsylvania, it’s well worth it to make the trip to their storefront in Bethlehem, PA. Here you can get their personal sized french pastries, along with donuts and other specialties. I’m just going to come out and say, if you haven’t had Vegan Treats, you haven’t what is arguably  the best of the best when it comes to vegan bakeries. Having been in business for over ten years and catering to so many places on the east, they really know their stuff. Vegan Treats is so delicious and decadent and amazing I just can’t say enough good stuff about it.

While there, we loaded up on desserts, going for anything with a holiday theme, and some donuts. Are they not the cutest desserts ever? We also had to show our love and get some hoodies to take home once the desserts were gobbled up. The new designs they have are possibly as cute as all the desserts. Luckily, now you can get some of their tee-shirts online (go support vegan businesses!).

Unfortunately, since we traveled over the holidays, we were unable to go to a few sweet stops on the way, including Sticky Fingers Bakery in DC or Lula’s Sweet Apothecary in NY. We did get to make up somewhat for the lack of ice cream at Spiral Diner in Dallas, Texas. They had a small case filled with baked goods, including monster vegan peanut butter cups, but we were ultimately lured in to the sweet call of an ice cream sundae. Shawn picked out the Chocolate Mountain Mudslide, a brownie topped with their signature i-scream, chocolate sauce, nuts and whipped cream. I was going to order the Deathstar Sundae, another brownie topped with i-scream, espresso and whipped cream, but Shawn got the last brownie. Unbelievable! I stole a few bites of his as payback but nuts on ice cream freak me out. The i-scream and brownie were awesome though, and much more than you’d expect from a diner of any kind.

Are you overloaded on sweets yet? Don’t worry, we’re done here for now. Next, we’ll be on our way home!

Halloween Cookies

Due to popular demand, and because perhaps we are insane, we decided to have another Halloween movie marathon this weekend. To go with our new set of movies, we of course needed a new set of treats. This time I went with cookies, since I really am a cookie girl. I made the sugar cookies from The Joy of Vegan Baking. This is my go-to recipe for sugar cookies because it’s pretty straight forward and makes a good amount. They’re not blow you away good, but they’re good and the royal icing is amazing so they make for good party snacks and gifts. Not to mention they’re so much fun to decorate.

For a little variety I also tried out the recipe for the chocolate crinkles, since I imagined they’d have a festive look to them. They’re soft and fudgey on the inside, sort of like little brownie bites. I cooked them on the shorter side so they would be softer, but perhaps they would have been nice crunchy. While they were well liked, I wish they were more chocolaty.

We were lucky enough to have the lovely FoodEater make us the mac and cheese I’ve been dreaming about. It was so good. I have to admit that I am not a daiya fan but it worked really well in this dish. It was cheesy but did not have the sticky weirdness that daiya can have on pizza. My favorite part was the seasoned bread crumbs on top that gave it more texture and flavor than just standard mac. The whole dish was completely eaten in less than an hour.

We learned some very important lessons during this movie marathon: If you go looking for the cat, you will probably die. If you get cats thrown at you, you will definitely die. If you try to kill cats, you may get brutally beaten by the man at the hot dog stand and eaten by rats. Most importantly, Christmas is a very scary holiday.

chocolate chip cookie heaven

Once upon a time I thought I had found the way to make the best chocolate chip cookies ever but my quest for delicious cookies continued. The problem with my early attempts was that it relied heavily on refrigerating the dough overnight which just doesn’t work for me. When I want cookies, I want them immediately. Not to mention, I found the results inconsistent, every batch coming out a little differently. I’ll be the first to admit that cookies are not my forte, but that’s really a result of me liking cookies more than any other treat, chocolate chip cookies especially. I just have no time for sub-par cookies in my life, so I generally wouldn’t even try to make them if I didn’t think the result was what I wanted.

Then this magical recipe entered my life. It’s not only the easiest thing ever, but it also doesn’t include any egg replacer that causes so many cookie mishaps. I messed around with this quite a lot but it is the simplest version that works the best.

There is a problem with these cookies though, you will not be able to stop eating them. They’re crispy and amazing. When still warm, they have the perfect chewiness. These are my dream cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 c Earth Balance

1/2 c brown sugar

1/3 c granulated sugar

2 Tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla

1 c flour

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

chocolate chips (I use about 6 oz)

Preheat oven to 300°

Mix EB and sugars with electric mixer until they are combined and have a sort of gelatinous, smooth texture. Add in the water and vanilla and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking soda. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until you have a very sticky dough. Be careful not to over mix. Add in your chocolate chips. Spoon onto a cookie sheet in globs about the size of a tablespoon. They will spread out so don’t worry about the shape.

Cook for 14 minutes. Make sure you let them cool for at least 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack, or eating.


Kitchen gadgets

vegan spritz cookies

I have a weakness for kitchen toys. While some people crave new electronics I like to fawn over kitchen supply catalogs. There’s always that one thing that would make the coolest dessert or the best presentation. I mean doesn’t everyone secretly want a sauce drizzler? Luckily I’m fairly good at keeping myself in check and not spending away my life on gizmos.

Over the holidays though, I did manage to acquire some neat toys in gift exchanges that I wouldn’t have otherwise purchased for myself. Since they’re definitely specialized, I hadn’t even busted them out till now to test them. The first test was a cookie press for making those adorable spritz cookies. I really had no occasion to try this, despite my desire to see how the tiny cookies would come out, until a late night sweet craving took me over and they just had to be made.

Using the cookie press is definitely one of those processes that must involve some sort of technique; one that I definitely don’t know. While about half of the cookies that came out were adorable, the other half were a bit more blobular. The main problem I had was making the dough stay on the pan ones it was squeezed out of the press. In the end, I usually just arranged the pieces together with my fingers. Luckily, no matter what each cookie looked like, they all tasted amazing. Absolutely perfect little treats that would be perfect for a party or gifts (or a late night snack). I can’t wait to incorporate some fruit or jams into the recipes, or of course, chocolate. Recipe for vanilla spritz cookies can be found below.

chocolate fondue
Another product I got to try out was a ceramic fondue warmer. Ok, so perhaps fondue is a little out of style, but it seemed like a tasty idea to me. The warmer is only heated by a small tea candle, so I thought it probably wouldn’t really keep the fondue that hot at all, instead it made the chocolate I pre-melted bubble even more than on the stove top. Amazing what conductive surfaces can do.

The great thing about making chocolate fondue for a dessert is not only how easy it is, but how amazingly satisfying. I simply cut up some apples and nectarines, and melted some semi-sweet chocolate with a dash of soymilk and it was ready to go. The result was fantastic. It’s easy to forget how sweet and tasty fruit is when there are so many prepared desserts out there, but combined with the dark chocolate it was absolutely divine. In fact, I’m craving it now, just writing about it. The important thing is just to have fresh ripe fruit and good quality chocolate.

While I would have to say that having the fondue warmer increased the fun factor by at least 10%, it’s totally not necessary to enjoy this simple dessert, just put the melted chocolate in a bowl or mug and it will stay warm for quite awhile. Another option would be to dip the fruit in the melted chocolate and refrigerate and harden for a cool treat later on.

spinach pesto pizza
Of course I had to include at least something savory, and of course, it’s pizza. In an attempt to make a simple but different (sort of) dinner one night, I collected some remaining ingredients in my kitchen to come up with a spinach pesto. To my surprise, it turned out insanely good. I’m generally the type that is good at following recipes, but when I just throw things together, there is a high risk of things going horribly wrong. I suppose it’s not hard to get it right when you combine such tasty ingredients though. I tried to keep the pizza uncomplicated and left off any other toppings besides vegan mozzarella. The result was a crispy, garlicy, spinach extravaganza. The pesto recipe is below.

Vegan Spritz Cookies
adapted from Wilton

3/4 cup earth balance
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tps egg replacer mixed with 1 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp soy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder.

Cream sugar and earth balance. Add egg replacer and beat till slightly frothy. Add soy milk and extracts to combine. In another bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Slowly add liquid mixture and mix until smooth.

Put mixture into cookie press and press cookies onto cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Spinach Pesto

1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup walnuts
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1/4-1/2 tsp salt

Put the almond, walnuts and garlic in a food processor and blend till you have a coarse meal. Next add the spinach, oil and salt and blend until combined. Spread on pizza dough and bake away!

Since this recipe has raw garlic, I recommend using it for baked items. Otherwise, roast the garlic beforehand and add to the blend.