Favourite Recipes, Baked Goods Edition: Cornbread and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Deliciously and moist cornbread

When I was vegetarian but not vegan, I was very skeptical about vegan sweets and baked goods. I would visit Fresh restaurant in Toronto and devour everything on the lunch or dinner menu, but never even try the (vegan) desserts. Obviously, I was way wrong and ignorant. I know now that vegan sweets and baked goods are every bit as wonderful as the traditional ones, and even better for being made with compassion.

Here are two of my favourite baking recipes, for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and cornbread. These aren’t my own recipes; I’m a baking beginner. Both of these recipes can be whipped up and in the oven in less than five minutes (seriously). Both are absolutely top-notch and ensure that you’ll never have to look for another oatmeal chocolate chip cookie or cornbread recipe.

Cornbread

This recipe for cornbread from Pickles and Honey is perfect. Ridiculously easy and virtually foolproof, the cornbread is delicious either as directed, or with endless variations like added jalapenos, vegan cheddar, roasted corn, or whatever else you’d like to throw in. I follow the recipe exactly and don’t make any changes (except add-ins).  Served warm and smeared with some vegan butter or margarine it is so, so good.

Cornbread

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Growing up, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were my favourite sweet by a large margin. After going vegan I tried several recipes with variable results. This recipe from Vegan Occasions blew my socks off when I tried it. R. loves them, my mom loves them, everyone loves them.

Recipe tweaks: I find that the cookies are just as good with 1 cup loosely packed sugar, rather than the 1.25 cups called for. You can also trade off a little bit of the oil for extra juice (apple or orange juice work equally well) if you like.  If you’re using mini vegan chocolate chips rather than the stadard size, I suggest reducing the amount to 3/4 of a cup.

Important: Don’t overcook these cookies! I find that they take about 10 minutes. Watch them like a hawk for the last couple of minutes and remove as soon as they start to turn the slightest bit golden. If they do end up getting a bit too much time in the oven, they will cool crispy rather than chewy. They’re still great, but I suggest a few seconds in the microwave to soften them up before serving if they’ve cooled hard.

Best cookies EVER

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Entrée Salad with Crispy-fried Tofu and BBQ’d Veggies

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Fire up the barbeque!  This salad has it all.  The quinoa and tofu provide protein, the mushrooms and corn add a nice smoky-savory element, and the raw veggies and dressing make the whole thing taste so fresh and amazing!  It’s also really filling… I couldn’t finish mine, which is something that almost never happens.  Preparing this salad involves some multi-tasking, but it’s well worth it.  More than half of the ingredients are pantry staples, so don’t be daunted by the list.  This recipe makes two entrée salads.

  • 1 romaine lettuce heart, washed and chopped
  • 2 ears of corn, shucked but for one layer of leaves
  • 2 large portobello mushrooms, chopped into large rectangles (about 1×2 inches)
  • Olive oil
  • ½ cup quinoa (dry measure), cooked according to package directions
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • For the tofu:
  • Half-block extra-firm tofu
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Canola oil
  • For the dressing:
  • 1-2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Big handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar or maple syrup (or more if you like a sweet dressing)

(Note: I recommended cooking the corn and mushrooms on the BBQ, using a grill basket for the mushrooms.  If this isn’t convenient for you, you can boil the corn and roast or sauté the mushrooms.)

The corn can be placed directly on the grill over medium-high heat.  Toss the mushrooms in a bit of olive oil and pour them into the grill basket over medium heat.  Every few minutes, turn the corn and stir the mushrooms.  The corn is done when it’s bright yellow and has a bit of char, and the mushrooms are done when tender and juicy.  After cooling it for a few minutes, cut the corn off the cobs using a sharp knife.

While the corn and mushrooms are cooking, get going on the tofu.  Preheat a skillet over medium heat and add a generous amount of cooking oil such as canola. Slice the tofu into ¾ inch-thick slices, then cut the slices diagonally into triangles.  Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl and dredge the tofu triangles to coat.

Carefully place the tofu triangles into the pan and swirl the pan a bit to ensure they are all sitting in a nice oily bath.  Flip them when they are nicely browned on the bottom, after about 3 minutes.  I like to cook crispy tofu quite well so that it dries out a bit and has a nice chewy texture…. So give them a few minutes on the other side until they look like perfect, crispy, golden wedges of yumminess.  (This tofu recipe is adapted from Fresh Restaurant’s crispy tofu cubes recipe, from their Refresh cookbook, which I highly recommend!)

Place all the of the dressing ingredients in a blender, food processor, or nutri-bullet, or use an immersion blender… just make sure all that yumminess is nicely pureed into a glowing green elixir.

Time to assemble!  Divide the lettuce between two large plates, and arrange in rows the green onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, quinoa, tofu, and corn.  Drizzle the whole thing with the cilantro dressing, and put any remaining dressing on the table, because you’ll probably want to add more.  Enjoy!