Recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy vegan birthday to me!

Ten years ago this January I stopped eating meat. My friend Brennan loaned me her copy of Skinny Bitch and, despite it’s problematic, shame-y language, I was forever changed.

In one day I began eating vegan, stopped smoking, and ditched caffeine. Three days and one gnarly withdrawal headache later, I reunited with my college sweetheart, coffee. But since that first day, cigarettes and meat have been out of my life.

I ate solidly vegan for a year and a half and was glow-y AF. Over the years I added back in cheese, removed cheese, added eggs, added seafood, removed seafood, added cheese, removed eggs, etc. etc. etc. You get the point. My diet has been tweaked according to my needs, but the primarily plant-based aspect has been steadfast.

So, today I celebrate TEN YEARS of plant-based eating with a vegan recipe I’ve been making since the beginning: chocolate chip cookies.

When I lived in my sorority house meat-loving frat stars would come over and house these things and my sisters even created a Facebook fan page called Bailey’s Vegan Cookies. I mean come on, a fan page for ONE recipe. That is a testament. Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 T baking soda
1 t sea salt
1 1/2 c cane sugar
1 1/4 c coconut oil
1/4 c cold water
1 T molasses
1/2 T vanilla extract
4-5 oz chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life)

Optional:
1/2 c chopped walnuts

molasses for color + iron
walnuts for omega-3s

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and line baking sheets with parchment.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and sea salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Using a stand or hand mixer, mix sugar and coconut oil on medium until creamy.
  4. Mix in water, molasses, and vanilla until well combined.
  5. With mixer on low, add a third of flour mixture to wet ingredients until almost completely combined. Repeat two more times until flour mixture is fully incorporated, careful not to over-mix.
  6. Fold in chocolate chips and chopped walnuts (if using) until just combined.
  7. Using a spoon or cookie dough scoop, evenly space cookie dough balls on the baking sheets about two inches apart.
  8. Bake for about eight minutes, until the edges are golden brown.*

*Baking times may vary depending on the oven and rack placement. Keep an eye on ’em!

sugar and coconut oil: so fluffy I could die
step four
mountain o cookies

For best results, eat warm ;)

Droooool.

Depending on dough ball size, this recipe yields 30-36 cookies.

Adapted from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch.


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Recipe: Spiced Cauliflower With Feta

Hi every body.* The truth is I was putting together this post, dispassionately conducting my minor-league photo editing, and I felt so glum. Valuing consistency, I powered through to get this post scheduled and ready to roll for the good people out there looking at this, and when I was done I remembered that I literally named this site BUMMED OUT BAKER, so why would I try to push through something without being honest?

Sometimes I don’t know what I’m working for or if it’s worth anything. I’m telling you this because I know I’m not the only person out here struggling internally. One of my long-standing, involuntary pastimes is having an existential crisis in the moments between when I climb into bed and pick up my book to read. They are the longest, most hollow moments. It’s as if I’ve been moving, moving, moving, and when I finally still my body to rest my mind opens up.

As you move through your days, do you ever rest your head on your pillow at night and wonder if what you do even matters? Well, me too. Whenever you feel that, remember I am there with you. We share a headspace, and you’re not alone.

*Yes, every body. Not a typo.

Welp, see ya later.

Ingredients

1 head cauliflower
5 garlic cloves, crushed
4 T olive oil
2 t cumin seeds
1 t turmeric
pinch red pepper flakes
sea salt to taste
black pepper to taste
3 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 c parsley, chopped
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
1/4 c dill, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Cut off leaves before slicing cauliflower head into slices about 1/2″-1″ thick. Pieces will fall apart – this is okay!
  3. Distribute cauliflower and garlic cloves in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 T olive oil and sprinkle with cumin seeds, turmeric, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and black pepper.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, flip the bigger pieces with a spatula and stir around the smaller bits. Replace in oven for ten minutes.
  5. Transfer cauliflower to a serving bowl and top with feta, herbs, and the last 1 T of olive oil.

Serves six, and will disappear quickly.

Adapted from Spiced Roasted Cauliflower With Feta and Garlic.


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Recipe: Enchilada Soup

Happy New Year!

Some of you may have established health goals for 2019, some of you may be left feeling lackluster after a month plus of eating festive holiday fare, and some of you may be, like me, jokingly referring to yourself as “holiday hefty”. No matter what, this food-rainbow-enchilada-soup is both good and good for you.

Those of you who know me know I love enchiladas. They’re good all year round, but changing it up with a soup in wintertime is nice. This recipe has a delayed spice kick and it rules.

Ingredients

1 T olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño, deseeded and chopped
1 T chili powder
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1 t cumin
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t cayenne
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 c corn (frozen or canned)
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
1 4 oz can green chiles
1 c red enchilada sauce
4 c vegetable broth
sea salt to taste

Optional Toppings:
avocado, diced
cilantro
green onions, chopped
tortilla chips, crumbled

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium.
  2. Add onion, bell peppers, jalapeño, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, paprika and cayenne to the pot and sauté for about five minutes, until onions are soft.
  3. Mix in garlic and corn and sauté for an additional two minutes.
  4. Stir in beans, tomatoes, green chiles, enchilada sauce and broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for at least ten minutes.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  6. Ladle about half of the soup to a blender and blend until smooth.
  7. Pour mixture back to the pot and stir to combine.
  8. To serve, top with avocado, cilantro, green onions, and crumbled tortilla chips.

Adapted from Vegan Enchilada Soup.


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Recipe: Black-Eyed Peas + Dirty Rice

Happy New Year’s Eve! Apparently it’s good luck to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, so I whipped up this dirty rice version for me to enjoy and for Rick to dramatically choke down with a grimace. Don’t worry, the recipe is good. Rick’s palette is usually just chicken strips.

Ingredients

1 T oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 vegan bacon strips, chopped*
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 3/4 c water
1 t paprika
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t sea salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 t red pepper flakes
1 can black-eyed pease, drained and rinsed)
crack Italian dressing, to taste

*There are options for vegan bacon, or “facon” if you’re feeling wild, but I know this particular kind provides a complete source of protein.

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, and bacon and sauté for six minutes, until onion is soft.
  2. Stir in garlic and cook for another two minutes, until garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add rice, water, paprika, thyme, sea salt, and both peppers to the skillet. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
  4. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until rice is tender and the liquid has mostly been absorbed.
  5. Remove rice from heat and leave covered for five minutes.
  6. Stir in black-eyed peas and adjust salt and pepper if needed.
  7. Top with crack Italian dressing to taste.

Serves 6-8. Best wishes in the new year to all the bummed out bakers out there!

Adapted from Vegan Dirty Rice and Black-Eyed Peas.


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Recipe: Gingerbread Houses

But first!

Surviving High School: The Real Christmas Miracle

My best friend from high school teaches high school sophomore english, and this past week she invited me to come speak to her class about mental illness, high school, New York City, and writing.

For me, high school was a precarious time, so I have a special place in my heart for high school kids. They were so lovely and moody and loud and quiet and sweet and poorly behaved all at once. They were both everything I expected and nothing I expected, which I’ve decided is the most succinct way to describe teenagers.

They wanted to know if I’d been to Times Square, if my parents were strict growing up, what I do when I can’t think of anything to write, and, perhaps most endearing, if I’d ever been in a taxi.

The holidays are tedious and fraught with anxiety for a lot of people, and the feelings of high school kids are often discounted, chalked up to immaturity or hormones. But, what they’re feeling about a rough home life, experiencing or being in close proximity to mental illness, or having a hard time socially in school – it’s all real, valid, and further expounded by social media. I told them about being so sad in high school that my personality lost its effervescence. I told them about turning inward, crying, sleeping a lot, and feeling alone and misunderstood. I told them about my brother Alex and discussed the unconventional ways family tragedy can manifest. Slowly, questions like whether I dyed my hair and which celebrities I’d met faded out and ones like how I knew I had anxiety and what I do when I’m depressed trickled in. The snickering ceased when I told them that, despite whatever they’re going through at home or in their brain chemistry, I knew they each had the ability to survive it and be better people for it. I’m only able to assert that because I survived, myself, and am able to look back on my teenage self with clarity and tenderness.

In the final piece I wrote this semester I discussed a particularly painful high school experience. It concluded with me sitting inside my black bedroom, limbs sprawled out, tears plopping onto the scratchy carpet in front of me. I felt extremely isolated, empty. What I didn’t know, though, is that I was always with me. My adult self looks at my teenage self with mercy and sadness and hope, urging her to move forward and to keep faith that things would get better. I looked at all those high school kids and saw me.

So now that I’ve sufficiently bummed you all out, welcome to my world! Just kidding, sort of!

Onto the GINGERBREAD HOUSES.

Ingredients

copious amounts of graham crackers (at least 1/2 box per person) OR one pre-made gingerbread house per person
1 can or piping bag of white icing per person
colorful, classic candies sorted into bowls*
1 bag each of pretzel minis, sticks, rods, and snaps**
1 group of people you like

*great vegan options
**consider getting GF pretzels so you don’t blindside a gluten-sensi loved one, which would not be a #christmasmiracle

Instructions

  1. Wrap a cardboard base in foil or, if using a gingerbread house kit, use the base provided.
  2. Connect either the graham crackers (for your bespoke, Frank Gehry-inspired design) or gingerbread house pieces with giant dollops of icing.
  3. Decorate, be merry, have a cocktail, ditch your gingerbread house when it falls apart, watch football, come back to gingerbread house with renewed patience, try adhering it together again, get aggressive with sprinkle application, eat too much of the candy meant for decorations, get a stomach ache, spill a bunch of round sprinkles all over your mother’s brand new kitchen floor, panic and enlist your husband and dad to help you clean it before she sees it, get caught mid-clean up anyway, have another cocktail, then go to sleep early due to sugar crash.
  4. But first, take pics and make some lovely memories.
children: likely to have more candy in their mouths than on their houses
my nephew + my dad
a hopeful me, moments before everything fell apart

Approximately one house turned out attractive (my sister in-law Amy’s) and in my experience one success story… is about right. But it’s not about these edible shacks that grow stale, harden, and get tossed in the trash! It’s about the process.

Enjoy, and happy holidays to you and yours.


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