Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

These lemon poppy seed cookies taste great and will make your kitchen smell marvelous. Yum!A good while back, maybe even a year ago, a recipe for vegan lemon poppy seed cookies caught my eye. Not because of the vegan part. Because lemon and poppy seed are two ingredients I love. I got to thinking about that recipe on a recent, cold winter day that practically screamed for my kitchen to produce something warm, yummy, and fragrant in defiance of the weather.

The original recipe can be found at the Craftsy website. If you want the vegan version, you’ll want to check it out. While this version is dairy-free, it includes animal and gluten products. The cookies were quite tasty, but a little tough. Next time I make them (maybe later today), I’ll increase the amount of baking powder and use a lighter touch while mixing them. This is a recipe worth perfecting.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup natural plain almond butter (stir well if oily and separated)
  • 3 tablespoons softened unrefined coconut oil
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon lemon zest, loosely packed
  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Crack egg into medium mixing bowl and lightly beat the egg.
  3. Whisk in the almond butter, coconut oil, agave, vanilla, and lemon zest until fully combined and smooth. Use a spoon if it gets too thick.
  4. Add the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt on top of the wet ingredients.
  5. Stir well until a large ball of dough starts to form.
  6. Knead a few time until it holds together
  7. Roll the dough into about 1-inch balls and place with 2 inches of space in between each on a large baking sheet.
  8. Tear a small square of parchment or wax paper and place on top of one dough ball. Gently flatten to 1/4-inch thickness with a flat-bottomed glass or bowl.
  9. Bake for 8-12 minutes. The bottom edges should be golden brown. Remove and allow to cool.
  10. Once fully cooled, store in a sealed container for 4-5 days.

Dairy-Free Biscuits

dairy-free buscuitsBiscuits are a cold weather favorite at our house. For the past few years, I’ve experimented with my old biscuit recipe, substituting different ingredients for the butter and milk to make them dairy-free. The experiments have gotten mighty close to perfection, but I’ve not quite nailed it yet. So when my niece posted a recipe on Facebook called the Best Damn Vegan Biscuits, I had to give it a try.

The original recipe found at the Minimalist Baker website had many, many steps and many, many pictures and many, many reminders to follow the directions exactly for the biscuits to live up to the recipe’s name. Not exactly minimalist, but I overlooked the discrepancy, and followed the directions exactly, hoping to finally achieve dairy-free biscuit perfection.

The biscuits were very good, but in my opinion they fell short of perfection, too. That said, they were good enough to give the recipe one more try, this time using lard (remember, I’m not vegan, just dairy-free) as the shortening to see what happens. But until then, here’s the recipe.

Dairy-Free Biscuits

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks
1 cup unsweetened, unflavored almond milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. If using a baking stone, slip it in the oven to heat. Put 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a one cup measure. Pour in almond milk to 1 cup line. Allow it to sour for 5–15 minutes.

Combine dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut cold Earth Balance stick into thin patties on top of the dry ingredients. Cut in the shortening with fingers or pastry cutter until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Work quickly so the shortening doesn’t get too warm.

Make a well in the dry ingredient/shortening mixture. Stir gently with a spoon while pouring in the almond milk mixture 1/4 cup at a time until the dough is slightly combined and sticky. You may not need all the almond milk mixture.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Dust the top with flour and then gently turn the dough over on itself 5-6 times, handling the dough as little as possible. Form into a 1 inch thick circle. Cut dough into circles with thick dough cutter or drinking glass. Push straight down through the dough, then slightly twist. Place biscuits on baking stone or baking sheet in two rows, making sure they just touch – this will help them rise uniformly. Gently reform the left over dough and cut out one or two more biscuits for a total of 7 or 8.

Next brush the tops with a bit more of melted non-dairy butter (1 skipped this) and gently press a small divot in the center using two fingers. (I did that step, but the dough was so sticky I had to flour my finger first. Hence the flour circles on some of the biscuits in the picture.)

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until fluffy and slightly golden brown. Serve immediately. Let remaining biscuits cool completely before storing them in an airtight container or bag.

Healthy Vegetarian Chili

A year or two ago, I ran across a chili recipe in American Profile Magazine. Having been raised by a former cattle farmer whose motto was no meal is complete without meat, I viewed this no meat version with skepticism. But finally, my daughter and I tried it when she was home on a college break, and guess what? We loved it.

Now it’s part of my arsenal when the newlyweds – some of whom are partial or complete vegetarians – come home to visit. So it was on the menu last weekend and was pronounced a rousing success. To mollify Hiram, who isn’t a chili lover even when it has meat, I reduced the amount of beans (the original recipe calls for 3 cans of black beans). Even he conceded it was “pretty good” when sprinkled with shredded cheddar cheese.

For those of you who do love chili and are looking for a no-meat version, give this one a try. It makes a big batch, so you can serve half and freeze half for later.

Healthy Vegetarian Chili

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
2 cups whole kernel corn
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
1 cup medium salsa
1/2 cup ketchup
1 (14 ounce) can reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1 (1-ounce) package chili seasoning
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin

Heat oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic; cook until union is translucent, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Increase heat to high. Add remaining ingredients.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender and flavors are blended, about 40 minutes. Serves 16.