Vegan Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt

There was a Super Bowl Tailgate themed luncheon at my office last week, and since I knew they were planning on the traditional wings and sliders, my vegan coworker and I made plans to bring some veggie friendly food for ourselves. We’re all for the office camaraderie, but we’re definitely past the age where we can get away with only eating potato chips and celery sticks for lunch. Luckily for us, Field Roast has a number of veggie options that easily fit into hot dogs and hamburger buns, but I wanted to make sure we’d have a sweet treat as well. After doing a little poking around online, I found this simple recipe video on Tasty . Quick and easy, which is exactly what you need when you decide to bake on a Thursday evening. Even better, it was a recipe that couple be elevated an personalized with a few extra ingredients.

Ingredients:
for 10 servings

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup refined coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 oz vegan semi-sweet chocolate, chunks
  • 4 oz vegan dark chocolate, chunks

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, salt, and coconut oil until combined.
  2. Whisk in non-dairy milk and vanilla, until all sugar has dissolved and the batter is smooth.
  3. Sift in the flour and baking soda, then fold the mixture with a spatula, being careful not to overmix.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chunks evenly.
  5. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  7. Scoop the dough with an ice cream scoop onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Be sure to leave at least 2 inches of space between cookies and the edges of the pan so cookies can spread evenly.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until cookies just begin to brown.
  9. Cool completely.
  10. Enjoy!

*For my cookies I subbed the chocolate chunks for mini chocolate chips and added a 1/2 cup of chopped pecans. As soon as the cookies came out of the oven, I sprinkled each with smoked sea salt.

Oh my, were these cookies exactly what was needed! Chewy, a little crispy at the edges, with the crunch of the nuts and the creamy chocolate chips, and that pop of the smokey salt every now and again. My coworker and I agree they’re the kind of cookies that you want to eat even after you’re full to the brim. 10/10 would recommend and will absolutely make again.


My January Try List

While don’t ascribe to the “new year, new me” philosophy, I am a big fan of using the start of a new year as an excuse to try new things. Far too often we get stuck in a rut when it comes to our daily lives, championing the old adage “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” and missing out on things that can enrich our lives – or at the very least, make them simpler. This year I am going to endeavor to try out a few helpful items every month and report back to you guys with the results and let you know about any particularly amazing finds.

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck – for those of you who don’t know, I have been seeing a therapist since the middle of last year. My dad had passed away a few months prior, and I was neck deep in trying to figure out how to close up his estate and balance the stress of my new job. I was constantly exhausted and frazzled. One of the first things she encouraged me to do was to start setting more boundaries. Don’t go out when you’re tired; don’t let people guilt you in to doing things you don’t want to do – essentially start learning to say the word “no” and stick to it. Sounds simple, but it’s something I struggle with all the time. That’s why I bought this book almost as soon as I saw it. It’s about taking stock of your daily “fucks” and being more judicious about how you choose to spend them. Also, how to do all that in a way that is productive and not hurtful or rude to the people around you. A lot of food for thought, and it feels good to have another tool in my emotional arsenal.

SKYN Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gel – under eye circles are something that have really plagued me the last few years. Being pale, it’s always been something I have to worry about, but my 30’s have been a little less than kind to my skin in general. Something that lightens discoloration and reduces puffiness? Sign me up please! Now, I have no idea if these actually work, I put them on and in less then two minutes in my under eyes were itching and starting to turn red. Off they came and I will be passing them along to other interested parties with a “use with caution” caveat.

Sharpie Gel Highlighter – a coworker of mine had some of these, and after my regular highlighter bled through yet another report, I decided to try them out for myself. These guys are essentially neon crayons, no way they will bleed through anything. They also don’t dry out if you forget and leave them uncapped. Super vibrant, but -and for me this is a big but- they aren’t the most precise, you have to keep rotating the highlighter if you want a thin crisp line (Editor’s note: I like big buts and I cannot lie). Will they be my go-to in the future? Probably not, but I will absolutely use up the three that I have.

Tea Drops – This was the only true disappointment out of all the things I tried. I was hoping that these would be the perfect way to enjoy a cup of tea at work. Skip the tea bags and tea balls – they even contain their own sweetener. I tried them, my friend tried them, and neither of us has interest in a second cup. The flavor was bland, the sediment left behind was thick and gross. *shudder* I made it through an entire cup, but there will not be a second.

OLLY Restful Sleep Gummy Supplement – A good nights sleep is a beautiful, beautiful thing, and I am always on the hunt for something that will make that a regular thing for me. These gummies had good reviews and I figure “why not”. Do they work… yes. However, to really get the full benefit, for me at least, I needed to take them about an hour to an hour and a half before I was planning on heading to bed. One down side, they kinda taste like crap. Something along the lines of cough syrup with mint. I also found out after I purchased them that they are not vegetarian -they use standard gelatin- so that alone makes these a no-go for me. However, if you could use a little help winding down in the evening, these might do the trick.

Not too bad for my first month. While there are only one or two things that I will continue to use, there are four out of five that I would recommend. Since this is something I’d like to do every month, please feel free to reach out and recommend products or items that you adore or are interested in.


Saturday Link Love

As another week closes, I can’t help but marvel at how the first part of February has flown by. Granted, there are a few more weeks to go, but I can’t help but wonder if things are ever going to slow down this year. Honestly, I am a bit torn on how I feel about that. Busy is good, busy keeps you on your toes, but the last couple years have had so much busy, and there is a part of me that wouldn’t mind a slightly more sedate pace for a while. Either way, the weekend is upon us, and I have some great links to help you kick things off.

Since January is all about making good choices for a better year, here are some recipes for fresh and festive mocktails.

A fantastic post with a little video about how to create a simple yet special table setting for the next time you host.

An airsteam design that changes the way you’ll look at airstreams.

Fantastic free script fonts for your new year’s projects.

Traditionally, I am not much of a jumpsuit person, but this sweet little polka dot number had me changing my tune.

These five ingredient cookies seem like they would be a great last minute dessert to throw together.

These birth flower tattoos have me thinking that it might be for some new ink.

This is one DIY I’d love to have in my house.

Image from here.


5 Rooms to Focus on In 2019 by Lisa Smalls

We should embrace the New Year’s ethos throughout the year: Seek ways to simplify our lives. 

If you’re talking about how to do that inside your own home, maybe start small. Take time to improve the key, smaller areas of your house to get you started. Addressing spaces that don’t always get attention, could spur you to appreciate more deeply what home means to you.

Changing one’s life through interior design? Yes, it’s a new thing. We’re calling it here.

Start with THE ENTRY

Feng shui that business. Your main entrance should feel welcoming and be free of anything—think walls that obstruct or clutter under foot—that blocks the flow to the rest of the house.

This article does a far better job explaining how to use this sacred Chinese philosophy to create a space that welcomes habitants and guests alike. Just know that the entryway to your home sets the tone for all of the events that happen there. Take care with it.

Continue with THE LAUNDRY ROOM

The first time I had an actual laundry room in a living space, I swear I thought it was a gift acknowledging that I had managed to please all of the deities at once. It felt  magical to own a dedicated laundry area that I could also hide behind a door when I was done with it.

That doesn’t mean it’s OK to let it fall into disarray. Giving some thought to what you store there and how you use it. Does It need more bars to hang clothes on, shelves for supplies and detergents, or a super high shelf to stow boxes of holiday decorations?

Now is the time to give it some thought and add and subtract as needed. Treat it like a place that will always pay dividends if you take care of it.

Move on to THE GUEST BEDROOM

Since I have mostly lived away from family and friends, I am often the guest wherever I go so I have opinions on guest bedrooms. I know what makes a good guest bedroom: A comfortable bed. Yes, seriously. The bed is the thing.

You, along with every homeowner in the world, will be tempted to use the guest bedroom as a dumping ground for stuff that doesn’t fit elsewhere and the mattress no one likes to sleep on. But if you like having guests, you should take a little more care with that space. You want them to come back, don’t you.

You can provide a good mattress without breaking anyone’s bank or back. As far as trying to accommodate different types of guests, keep in mind that the most common sleeping position is on the side. Choose a mattress accordingly. Side sleepers need support around the neck area and then softer more forgiving support where the body curves, like at the hips, knees and shoulders.

Also, I think a bedside table box filled with essentials is a nice touch to welcome family and friends into their sleep space for a night or two. I keep the one in my own guest bedroom filled with travel-sized aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprophen, antacids, mints, gum, band aids, hand sanitizer, rubber bands, nail file and clipper, tissue, cotton swabs and chocolates.

Then take a hard look at THE PANTRY

If you’re rocking a can of jellied cranberry sauce dating back to 1999, you have waited far too long to crack the whip on your pantry.

First, toss the cranberry sauce. Then get serious. Clear everything out. Clean all surfaces. Have some fun and paint the interior walls a bright color! Replace the paper lining in any drawers. Add hanging shelves on the back of the door if space allows.

Then designate areas for canned goods, boxed goods, all baking supplies and equipment that needs a place to live other than your countertop. And then start putting things back.

Finally, be brave and ADDRESS YOUR LINEN CLOSET.

Pare down the towels, sheets, pillowcases and blankets. Donate anything you don’t need and replace anything that is worn out, stained or past repair. Then place things in groups according to items. Sheets, towels, blankets, tablecloths.

One way to keep your linen closet functional is to stay committed to getting everything folded and back in its place after you launder any items you use.

Happy designing, everyone. If you take this list space by space, revamping your house won’t be such an expensive or daunting task. It can be done room by room when you have the time to handle it.

Just remember that little changes in small spaces can yield big results.

Image from here.


Vegan Lemon Thyme Cuffins

You read that correctly – “cuffins.” These little guys maybe baked in muffin shape, but this is a sweet tangy lemon loaf recipe, which is more of a cake. That left me with two choices mufcakes or cuffins, and of the two, “cuffin” sounded a little less…risque. Anyway, these little guys came from a casual conversation I had with one of my coworkers about The Great British Baking Show. We were discussing flavor combinations that sounded interesting, and one of my favorites is lemon and thyme. She is vegan, so I decided to go home and whip up something she could enjoy as well. I’m still learning about vegan baking, and this particular recipe utilized the trick of adding acid (vinegar & lemon) to activate the baking soda in your recipe, which yields a fluffier texture – something that can be difficult when you don’t have some of the traditional leavening included. I was really pleased with how these turned out, and Andy liked them too. So I am calling it a win 🙂

Ingredients:
– 1 1/2 Cups of Cake Flour
– 2 Tblsps Chopped Fresh Thyme
– 1 Tsp Baking Soda
– 1 Tsp Baking Powder
– 1/2 Sugar
– The Zest of 1 Lemon
– Pinch of Salt
– 6 Tblsp Vegetable Oil
– 1/2 Cup Room Temperature Water
– The Juice of 1 Lemon
– 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
– 1 Tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
Glaze:
– 3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
– 1/2 Lemon, juiced

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with muffin liners.

2. In a large Mixing Bowl Wisk Together flour, zest, thyme, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar.

3. To the mixture add the water, juice, vanilla extract and vinegar. Mix until just combined. Do not over mix.

4. Bake for 18 minutes, then allow to cool completely.

5. Combine ingredients for glaze and drizzle over cooled cuffins.

Enjoy while watching your favorite episode of The Great British Baking Show.