Living the WELL Life

Trick or Treat

Thursday, November 29, 2012

You do have choices on the one day of the year dedicated to eating candy. My cookies will win you raves with the little ones (we actually have the kids trade one piece of candy for a cookie…works every time!) and the soup and braised apples will keep the adults out of the trick or treat bags, too.

Black Bean Soup with Whole Wheat Croutons
Cinnamon-Braised Apples
The Best Chocolate Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Spicy Black Bean Soup
I learned to make this soup when I lived in South Miami and it seemed that every single dish was spicy and satisfying. This makes the perfect buffet dish as it holds its character even when it’s on the heat for a long time.

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 small leek, sliced lengthwise, rinsed well and diced
Pinch sea salt
2 teaspoons saffron, soaked in small amount warm water
Generous pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 cup black turtle beans, rinsed well
1 bay leaf
5 cups spring or filtered water
3-4 springs flatleaf parsley, for garnish

1 cup whole grain sourdough croutons (see below)

In a soup pot, place olive oil, onion and leek on medium heat. When the onions begin to sizzle, sauté for for 3-4 minutes with a pinch of salt. Stir in saffron and soaking water and red pepper flakes. Add celery and carrot and saute 3-4 minutes more. Top with black beans and stir briefly, just to coat the beans with oil. Add water and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until beans are soft, about an hour, but it loves to be cooked for longer. Season to taste with salt and simmer for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and serve garnished with parsley and several croutons per bowl.

NOTE: The best croutons are made from slightly stale whole grain sourdough bread that is cubed and dried in a warm oven until crispy. Then, simply pan fry them until they brown at the edges.

Cinnamon-Braised Apples
A lovely twist on baked apples that is just as satisfying and a wee bit quicker to make. The scent of cinnamon makes these the perfect dessert on a chilly night and a great addition to a party buffet.

Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon vegan buttery spread (like Earth Balance)
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup
2 Granny Smith apples (Gala, Fuji and McIntosh are nice here, too), halved, cored; do not peel
1 cup sparkling apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
Pinch sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Mint leaves, for garnish

Place buttery spread and rice syrup in a flat-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Lay apples in skillet, cut sides down, and cook until the apples are beginning to brown at the edges, about 3 minutes. Add apple cider, cinnamon sticks, salt, nutmeg and vanilla. Cover, reduce heat and cook until the apples are tender enough to pierce easily with a fork, about 15 minutes. Do not over cook, as the apples will be mushy. Remove from heat and arrange apples, cut sides up, on a platter. Increase heat under skillet to high and deglaze any remaining liquids to form a thick syrup. Remove cinnamon sticks and spoon whatever liquid remains over the braised apples. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.

The Best Chocolate Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches
No kidding, the best—ever. Vegan, not vegan, healthy or not, everyone who tastes these says they are the best.

Makes 30-36 cookies, 15-18 sandwiches

8 tablespoons (1 stick) vegan buttery “baking sticks,” (8 tablespoons), like Earth Balance , softened
½ cup brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup coconut sugar*
1 ½ cups whole¬wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 (3.5-ounce) bar dark chocolate (70 percent% or more), coarsely chopped

1 container  Suzanne’s Specialties Rice Mellow

Preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a hand mixer or a whisk, blend the buttery stick with syrup, vanilla, and coconut sugar until creamy. Mix in flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda to form a stiff cookie dough. Fold in nuts and chocolate until incorporated through the batter. Wet a teaspoon and your fingers, and spoon tablespoons  of cookie dough onto the lined sheets, allowing room for the cookies to spread, (about a dozen cookies per standard sheet). Bake for 18 minutes. Remove from oven and allow cookies to stand for 2 minutes on the sheet tray. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cookies are cooled, pair them so they match in size as much as possible. Spread Rice Mellow over the flat side of one cookie and place the other cookie on top, creating a sandwich. Repeat with all cookies.


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