Friday Finds

As you may have guessed already, Nick and I love to go grocery shopping, and we love looking for new finds. I always get so excited when I see a new product on Instagram or Facebook because then it’s like a treasure hunt to find it! Over the last several weeks we’ve scored some really awesome finds, and I wanted to share them with you!

Square Bars:
Friday Finds
I’m usually not a big fan of protein bars, but these are awesome! They taste more like a candy bar, which makes me really happy! They do have some sugar in them, but I love that they are non-gmo, organic, and are a good source of protein. They are great when I need a snack, and they’re great before, or after, a workout. I haven’t gotten my hands on the peanut butter one yet, but so far the chocolate covered coconut is my favorite.

Glutiny Beer from New Belgium Brewing:
Friday Finds
I’m definitely not a beer drinker, but it’s great to have some tasty beer on hand for baking, or for a good beer batter. While this beer is not certified gluten free, it’s crafted in such a way to remove the gluten. There is a similar beer, daura, that we’ve used in the past, and this is a lot like that. Nick is a fan of New Belgium, and he liked it a lot. I will admit, I tasted it, and it wasn’t awful. (remember, I said I’m not a beer drinker) I can’t wait to make beer battered buffalo cauliflower!

Millet & Chia gluten free/vegan bread from Little Northern Bakehouse:
Friday Finds
I got a heads up on this product on Instagram from Melissa at It’s Got Vegan in It. While I’m not a celiac, I like to cut my gluten intake because I like to try different flours, and different grains. When I found out that they sold this bread at MOM’s, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! I grabbed a loaf of the millet & chia bread to try. I made it as toast, and topped it with cashew butter and raspberry jam. Delicious! It has great texture, and flavor. And it doesn’t have a gluten free free flavor. I was worried it might be really dense, and gummy, but it’s light, and wonderful! I can’t wait to try their other flavors, too!

Wegman’s Organic Cashew Butter:
Friday Finds
I like nut butters just as much as the next person, but I usually just stick to peanut or almond butter. But while at Wegman’s last week I happened to see this jar of cashew butter and I was intrigued. Cashews are a vegan staple, so I was excited to try them as a butter. This stuff is SO good! Now, I’m sure that there are other brands of cashew butter that are available, but this is just what I happened to grab. (I’ve heard Trader Joe’s makes a good one) It’s super thick and creamy, and it’s great on toast. I definitely reach for this when I head to the pantry!

Trader Joe’s Scandinavian Swimmers:
Friday Finds
We heard about these on Instagram through VegNews. Nick LOVES Swedish Fish, and so he was excited to find something similar without all of the artificial colors. These things are crazy good, and crazy addictive. They’re super soft, and they have great fruit-like flavor. I think the bag was only $2.99. What a steal! So, so good.

Lily’s Stevia-Sweetened Dark Chocolate Chips:
Friday Finds
Now to be honest, we haven’t tried these yet, but we can’t wait to try them! They are a favorite of Somer McCowan who wrote “The Abundance Diet”. She suggested them (or Enjoy Life) for several recipes, so we were excited to get our hands on these. Can’t wait to bake something delicious with them! And they’re fair trade! Yay!

Amy’s Candy Bars:
Friday Finds
I’ve always looked at Amy’s candy bars in the past, and they were never vegan, so I always walked away sad. BUT! I happened to look at them again while at MOM’s (all of the bars were on sale), and TWO of them were vegan! Say what?! Needless to say, I bought them both. I think the Dreamy is going to be like a 3 Musketeers or a Buccaneer bar. The Sunny bar is a lot like an Almond Joy. There are two bars in each package, so they’re great for sharing!

Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy ice cream:
Friday Finds
I might, or might have not, squealed out loud when we found these. I would have grabbed all 4 flavors, but we didn’t have room in our freezer, but believe me, I’ll be making room for them! We tried them when we got home, and they are AMAZING! They’re creamy, delicious, and full of all kinds of yummy chunks of stuff. I also love that they’re fair trade! There are some arguments out there that we (the vegan community) shouldn’t buy these because they support a company that’s a part of the dairy business. My hope is that they will out-sell the dairy flavors and we’ll send a huge message to them! I’ve heard they’ll be rolling out nationwide in the next 3-6 weeks. We found these at Wegman’s, too. They weren’t with the non-dairy ice creams, but with the regular Ben & Jerry’s display. And you know what? The non-dairy flavors had been ransacked! Yay for non-dairy!

I love finding new things to try, and sometimes you have to look where you might in a crazy spot, but it’s always worth it in the end! What great vegan finds have you found recently?

Shortbread Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies – Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

Yay! It’s the Food Blogger Cookie Swap recipe day! I love being a part of this every year. It’s so fun for me to bake for other people, and it’s fun to receive cookies, too! It’s always a pleasure to help support Cookies for Kids Cancer, and Oxo and Dixie Crystals always treat us bloggers so well! This year Oxo sent this great nesting measuring cup set, and Dixie Crystals sent a Silpat sheet for baking. Awesome! These definitely make my cookie baking more fun. 🙂
Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015

This year was a bit crazy with shipping – sometimes it’s tough to be at the mercy of the USPS! The cookies I sent out were picked up on a Monday and then sat in a local facility for 3 days. Even though I’d paid for priority 2-day shipping! But they finally all made them to their intended recipients, so that’s always a good thing! My cookies were staggered out a bit, which was great, but one got stuck at the post office and I had to go and pick it up. Doesn’t USPS know how important cookies are?! 😉

The first cookies we received were from Kristen at Dinner for Two Blog. She made Chai Snickerdoodle cookies. They made it without much breakage, and they were crisp and you could really taste the chai in them! These would be great with coffee or tea – but we didn’t make it that far, haha!
Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015

The second batch was from Kristina from Cucina Kristina. She had made Lemon Lavender Shortbread Cookies. The post office was not so nice to these, as they didn’t all arrive in once piece, but I was able to save a few to nibble on! They were crisp, buttery, and you could really taste the lavender!
Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015

The batch I picked up at the post office were from Abby at The Frosted Vegan. She sent Maple Ginger Cookies with Dark Chocolate. These were still nice and soft, and had a great dark chocolate flavor with a good hit of ginger.
Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015

It’s funny how my recipe came about. I wanted to make a vegan recipe gluten-free, and when I was testing the recipe, I swapped out the flours with no problem, but apparently forgot to add the brown sugar (although I didn’t know it at the time), so the cookies were buttery and crisper than usual. Not hard and crispy, mind you, just a more shortbread-like texture. The cookies were tested on vegans, non-vegans, and those were both gluten-free and not gluten-free. They were enjoyed by all, so I knew that they were a winner. When I went back to the recipe to bake the cookies for the swap, that was when I realized that I had forgotten the brown sugar the first time, but I missed it the second time, too! I even typed it in the recipe I sent to my cookie matches, so I guess now they’ll know that they can make these cookies TWO ways! How I missed it twice is beyond me, but the result was still a delicious and tasty cookie! And really? How can anything with Justin’s peanut butter cups be bad?!

Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015

Shortbread Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
(recipe adapted from Sticky Fingers’ Sweets by Doron Petersan)

3/4 cup earth balance buttery sticks, softened
1 cup + 1 1/2 T (7.68 oz) evaporated cane juice
*(1 cup (7.7 oz) lightly packed brown sugar)*
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk (from the carton, not the can)
1/3 cup refined coconut oil, melted and cooled
3 1/4 cups + 2 1/2 T (1 pound, 1.25 oz) gluten-free all-purpose flour (I used Namaste brand, but Bob’s Red Mill 1-for-1 Baking Flour would be a great choice, too)
1/3 cup (1.9 oz) brown rice flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup vegan mini chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life brand)
1 bag (4.7 oz) Justin’s dark chocolate mini peanut butter cups, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (or silpat mats) and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine earth balance, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed.
In a glass measuring cup, whisk together coconut milk and coconut oil. Slowly add mixture to the sugar mixture and mix to combine.
In a large bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt. Add to the sugar mixture and mix until a dough forms. If the dough seems too dry, add 1 T of coconut milk at a time until the dough is your desired consistency. Add chocolate chips and chopped peanut butter cups, and mix to combine.
Using a cookie scoop, scoop onto prepared baking sheets. Leave about 2 to 3 inches between each cookie and gently flatten with your fingertips.
Bake for 9 minutes, or until the edges just start to brown. (these will be pale cookies, so be careful not to overbake!) Let cool on baking sheets about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Makes 3 1/2 dozen small cookies. Store in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days. These freeze very well, too!
*add brown sugar and try a new recipe, ha!

Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015

I love being a part of the cookie swap every year. It has it’s challenges, as everything does, but it’s always so fun to share cookies and a love for baking. Happy Cookie Swap!

Taste Test Tuesday: Gluten-Free Sweet Note Bagels

If you haven’t noticed already, Nick and I love food, and we love grocery shopping and finding new products, or things to try. And if it’s vegan, or vegan and gluten free, then it’s pretty much a guarantee that I’ll buy it. On a recent trip to one of our favorites, Mom’s Organic Market, I snagged a bag of Gluten-Free Sweet Note frozen bagels.

Sweet Note Bagels

I wasn’t really sure what to expect because gluten free can sometimes mean dense, dense, and more dense. Don’t get me wrong, gluten free has come a LONG way over the years, but when you make something gluten free AND vegan, you can sometimes have a big, fat failure.

The directions were simple: keep frozen, and when ready to eat, microwave for about 60 seconds, cool slightly, and then slice and toast. After slicing mine, I decided to add a thin layer of Earth Balance and broil under the broiler until crispy and toasted. After it cooled a bit, I added kite hill chive cream cheese, a sautéed piece of tofu, and Follow Your Heart American Cheese. I must say, I made myself a pretty epic bagel sandwich.

Sweet Note Bagel Sandwich

The bagel was delicious! It was a little more dense than traditional, but not in a way that was off-putting. It was chewy, carb-y, and wonderful! They have quite a few flavors, but my store only carried the plain. I’m looking forward to trying one again soon with some peanut butter because, according to Nick, peanut butter makes everything better.

If you’re vegan and gluten free, or just trying to cut your wheat or gluten intake, I’d highly recommend these bagels! So far, it seems they are an East Coast thing, but you can order them online. I can’t wait for Lil Sis to visit again so she can try them. She is a woman after my own heart who LOVES carbs as much as I do! 😉

Taste Test Tuesday: Enjoy Life Muffin Mix

After snagging a few of the new Enjoy Life mixes, I couldn’t wait to try them! Sunday morning seemed like the best time to bake muffins because who doesn’t love lazy Sunday mornings? (I just love night church!) I decided to mix in about 3/4 cup of frozen blueberries because I love blueberries in pretty much anything. The directions were super simple – add water and oil to the mix, stir in any mix-ins and bake!

Enjoy Life muffin mix - 1

I had to bake them the full length of time because I added in quite a bit of extra moisture with the blueberries, but they were worth the wait!

Enjoy Life muffin mix - 2

These muffins were AMAZING! They were soft, flavorful, and great with a nice smear of Earth Balance. Any leftovers stay best in the fridge, and they don’t lose any of their flavor or texture. I love being able to make muffins from scratch, but this mix is great to have on hand. You could get really creative with flavors and mix-ins! If you have the chance to try this mix, I’d highly recommend it!