PB&J Vegan Cookies, Dinners, January!

Happy New Year!

I’m really happy it is January. Actually, it hasn’t really hit me yet. I can’t believe that my birthday is 31 days away. So many great things are happening this month, I can’t wait. Namely, the MMI Ayurveda program starts in exactly four weeks! That’s why I’ve been trying to hit the books and study up before I head in. Dr. Vasant Lad, the Ayurvedic Physician of Ayurvedic Physicians, is going to be there for the first intro weekend. He is like the Ayurvedic God. Being his student will be best birthday gift I could ever imagine. Waking up in a cabin in the hills overlooking the Monterey Bay, practicing yoga, learning more about this fascinating medicine, cooking and eating tons delicious Ayurvedic vegetarian food, drinking Yogi tea 24/7, going on little hikes in the forest, relaxing in the hot tub, shopping for herbs in the Ayurvedic store. I can’t actually believe it’s going to happen. That I actually willed, motivated, and inspired myself and am going to make it happen. It is going to be such an honor.
Other than that and the other things I’ve been looking forward to, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking and baking with friends lately. The other night my friend and I dined on an orange and rosemary roasted organic free-range chicken, red kabocha and homegrown butternut squash roasted with brown sugar and sage, wild rice with toasted walnuts and cranberries, and, my favorite, sauteed chanterelles (thank you, work!) in thyme and truffle oil. And I popped open a few bottles of my favorite owl beer. I brought back the Ginger Beer from Portland, and tried it for the first time the other night. It was excellent!

As far as baking goes, we cracked open my new copy of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and modified the recipe for the Linzertorte Thumbprint Cookies just a bit. Since we didn’t have any hazelnuts or hazelnut butter, we easily converted them into PB&J cookies with some peanut butter instead. And the jellies (strawberry, plum, and cherry) were homemade from last summers fruit, thanks to Bridgette. They turned out delicious! Rich peanut buttery goodness can never do you wrong. Strawberry won my vote out of all three. Some taste testers exclaimed that they were better than “normal” peanut butter cookies. That right there, my friends, is why I love vegan baking.

PB&J Thumbprint CookiesAdapted from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar “Linzertorte Thumbprint Cookies”Makes 20 cookies
1/3 cup canola oil 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 1/2 cup peanut butter 1/3 cup nondairy milk (we used coconut) 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 cup peanuts, finely chopped at least 1/3 cup of any kind of jam you please
1. In a large mixing bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix the oil, sugar, and peanut butter. Mix in the nondairy milk and vanilla. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder and mix well until a stiff dough forms.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Have a small bowl of water handy. Spread the chopped nuts onto a dinner plate.
3. Roll the dough into a walnut-size ball. Dip very briefly in the water and firmly roll in the peanuts until coated. Place on a baking sheet and use your thumb to make a deep indent in the cookie. Use your free hand to hold the cookie in place and make sure it keeps its shape. You should be able to fit all twenty cookies onto one baking sheet; they don’t spread.
4. Spoon about a teaspoon of jam into each cookie. A baby spoon works great for this. Bake for about 18-20 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheets for at least 5 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in a tightly sealed container. Enjoy with some tea or milk!

Also, lately I can’t stop listening to these two songs. So much great music! Eighteen days worth, to be exact. It’s crazy. I love this time of year, reevaluating my music collection, sifting through and rediscovering some great stuff and making playlists. Lately it’s been a lot of Smog, Wilco, Neko, Cave Singers, Bonnie Prince, Mazzy Star, My Morning Jacket, Lucinda Williams, Department of Eagles… I could go on and on. Anyway, hope you’re doing the same and enjoying yourselves.


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