Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had a craving for peanut butter cookies that just wouldn’t quit, so what choice did I have but to bake a batch? I’m a believer that many of the best cookie recipes come from mundane sources—the backs of chocolate chip bags, newspaper articles, and old family recipes. So I went in search of a simple recipe straight from the source—peanut butter. I found what I was looking for on the MaraNatha website, a recipe with all of the familiar ingredients and no surprises.

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I used Cup 4 Cup for the flour because it’s the best gf mixture I’ve found, and I bake infrequently enough not to mind the expense. I also love the convenience of direct substitution—no changing the amount or adding xanthun gum. Since I’m allergic to eggs, I used one large, ripe, and well-beaten banana instead. I love banana and peanut butter together, so this substitution was an obvious one. (You can also use unrefined coconut oil instead of butter if you want to make this recipe vegan.) At the last possible moment, I decided to add in half a bag of Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips as well. If I’m going to indulge, I might as well include chocolate!

well mashed banana

well mashed banana

These cookies bake in just seven minutes, and they were so satisfying—soft, a little crumbly, and full of peanut butter flavor in every bite. Enjoy!

pre and post baked

pre and post baked

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Double Peanut Butter Cookies via MaraNathafoods.com

P.S. If you want to read an interesting article on the science behind the perfect chocolate chip cookie, this article from serious eats breaks down the way that each ingredient contributes to the final product.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

It’s Memorial Day this weekend, and that means celebrating with potlucks and barbeques! I got this salad recipe from my mom and have been using for well over ten years now. It’s just the thing for a warm weather celebration because it’s colorful, filling, and tastes best at room temperature.

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Begin by rinsing two cans of black beans until the water runs clear. Drain them well and place them in a bowl with one can of corn, also well drained. (You can also use fresh corn and dried black beans.) To this add one large diced bell pepper, 3 sliced green onions (white and green parts), ½ pint halved cherry tomatoes or 2-3 chopped of your favorite tomato variety, and a full bunch of chopped cilantro (about ½ cup, or more to taste.) This colorful array of vegetables will be dressed in a lemon vinaigrette. Add five tablespoons of good quality olive oil and six tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss together and let sit for at least one hour at room temperature. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator.

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This can be served as a side salad, as a dip for corn tortilla chips, as a taco filling, or on top of warm quinoa for a satisfying lunch. Enjoy, and happy Memorial Day!

Smoky Beans and Greens

This dish is a great way to say goodbye to winter. It’s simple and healthy, but almost achieves the heartiness of a rich winter stew. The trick is in the smoked paprika—a couple of teaspoons bring a complex smoky flavor to the whole pot. I add spicy Italian chicken sausage while I’m sautéing the onions, which is delicious but entirely optional. Kale, cannellini beans, and tomatoes are a common combination in Italian cuisine, and they rarely disappoint. This recipe is no exception!

flavor-filled ingredients

flavor-filled ingredients

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To make this vegan, simply leave out/substitute the cheese. To ramp up the flavor, add extra garlic, red pepper flakes, and use fire-roasted tomatoes. Good on its own, this recipe can also handle a fair amount of improvisation—so if you come up with a brilliant twist, please share!

pictured here with a quinoa corn muffin

pictured here with a quinoa corn and cheddar muffin

Smoky Beans and Greens via Epicurious

Bon Appétit            November 2009

Crisp Quinoa Cakes with Rosemary, Almonds, and Dijon

I know quinoa has become trendy, but it’s a staple in my gluten-free diet. It’s easy to make, high in protein, and has a subtle, nutty flavor. This recipe came recommended by a friend, and although I loved the flavor and will make them again, they fell apart a little while cooking. I made the mistake of cooking the quinoa according to package directions, but the recipe calls for a little more water than is typically used. The extra moisture could have made a significant difference in holding them together. No matter—they were still delicious!

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Be careful not to overwork the cakes. Simply take a handful and gently form a patty between your hands. It’s okay if they’re a little thick, as long as you let them brown nicely on the outside. The combination of ingredients was perfect! The almonds add additional protein and a little crunch. Rosemary always pairs well with nuts, and the shallots and mustard brought a sharp, tangy flavor to the finished cakes. Top them with fresh lemon juice and they are ready to eat.

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I really wanted a protein-rich meal, so I served the patties with black beans and a side of broccoli. This recipe seems versatile to me, and I would love to hear your suggestions for side dishes in the comments. It was also fantastic leftover. Surprisingly, the cakes held up to reheating and were just as flavorful as the first time around. This fast and simple February meal was a hit!

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Crisp Quinoa Cakes with Rosemary, Almonds, and Dijon via New York Times

Mark Bittman

Simple Vegan Pesto

Pesto is amazing. It’s simple, flavorful, versatile, and can be made out of virtually anything. Truly, the only ingredients necessary to consider something a pesto are oil and fresh herbs. If you have an abundance of herbs and need to use them before they go bad, just blend them with olive oil and call it pesto! It also makes everything more delectable, from roasted vegetables to sandwiches to salads.

I used a ninja, but you can even use a mortar and pestle

I used a ninja, but you can even use a mortar and pestle

Traditional pesto is a blend of olive oil and basil, garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese. This vegan version replaces cheese with nutritional yeast, which makes sense because it has a natural cheesy-buttery flavor. If you’ve never had it, you should try it on popcorn—it’s great and super healthy. In this recipe, the nutritional yeast helps the pesto retain its cheesiness and also makes the texture thick enough to cling to the pasta. My only note on the recipe is that some of the commentors from the original site prefer to halve the amount of olive oil. I started with ¼ cup but gradually added more until I was almost at the ½ cup called for in the recipe. It’s just a matter of personal preference, so you really can’t go wrong.

before the oil

just a little oil at first…

I served the pesto tossed with Tinkyada fusilli, cooked al dente. It was easy to make, and ideal for serving to company because I could make the pesto a day ahead. Please share in the comments if you have a favorite pesto recipe! What do you love to serve with pesto?

keeps for a week in a jar in your fridge

keeps for a week in a jar in your fridge

Simple Vegan Pesto via Food 52

Gena Hamshaw            May 2013

Roasted Carrot Harissa and Creme Fraiche Crostini

Harissa is a spicy red chili paste that originates from North Africa and it’s used so frequently in other parts of the world that it’s often viewed as a condiment. If you’re curious, you can read about some of the history and regional variations here, or learn how to make a standard version here. The recipe I’m sharing with you is more of a spread than a paste and the roasted carrots mellow the peppers and temper the heat.

it's bright orange!

it’s bright orange!

I’ve recently been spending time with some of my vegan friends, and when I contribute to a vegan meal I like to find recipes that show off the potential in vegetables and spices. This harissa is perfect because it is packed with flavor and makes use of one of the few vegetables that thrives in winter—carrots. Roasting the carrots brings out their sweetness, which is the ideal way to balance the spice from the peppers.

dried anaheims and chiles de arbol

dried anaheims and chiles de arbol

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I used dried Anaheim chilis and Chile de Arbol and found the results fairly mild. You can definitely up the heat by using a hotter dried pepper. Most of the heat in chilis is contained in their veins and seeds, so by removing those you are keeping the flavor and lowering the heat. The spice mixture in this recipe is ground cumin, black caraway seeds, and coriander seeds. I can’t describe the flavor combination—you’ll just have to trust me and try it. It’s divine!

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Both times I’ve made this I prepared it in advance, and followed the instructions to store with some olive oil on top. When it was time to serve, I stirred it to incorporate the olive oil and found the final texture creamy and smooth. I bothered with the crostini once, but since then I’ve just been eating it with chips or rice crackers. The priority is finding a blank slate so the harissa can shine.

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For those of us who are not vegan, I recommend serving this with crème fraiche and little parsley. The chips in the photos are Late July Sea Salt Multigrain and are conveniently gluten free, vegan, and delicious. Enjoy!

Roasted Carrot Harissa and Crème Fraiche Crostini via Food 52

By Gingerroot            February 2011