The Twelve Days of Vegan Cookies: Days 3 & 4: Easy Chewy Vegan Molasses Cookies and Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.

My work week was super busy, so I made two very easy recipes Wednesday and today for days 3 and 4. In the kitchen, I move slowly. I enjoy baking and don’t rush, cleaning as I go. Both of these recipes took about fifteen minutes to prepare (not including baking time), so there’s really no excuse NOT to makes them. (Except maybe diabetes.)

Easy Chewy Vegan Molasses Cookies from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken

I didn’t know if I’d like these, but I had molasses in the pantry. (I can’t even remember why I bought it–it was unopened.) It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken is a great resource for newer vegans (and lazy vegans like me). When they say a recipe is easy, it really is. This one is no exception. One bowl, fifteen minutes, and you’re ready to bake cookies that taste like they took two hours. The texture is perfect–a little crispy outside and chewy inside–and the flavor is complex. I love ginger, but if you don’t, you should reduce or omit it. It’s very distinct in this recipe. (I often eyeball measurements, but for these posts I have been measuring exactly.) “Fancy” molasses are called for, but my molasses were not fancy. For the vegan butter, I used Earth Balance Original (there are like ten kinds now!).

Vegan Chocolate Crinkle Cookies from Nora Cooks

First of all, about a third of the new recipes I try are from Nora. She knows what I like. Quickbreads are a staple in my house, and the zucchini bread and banana bread I bake most often are her recipes. My other go-to vegan recipe sites include The Simple Veganista, Minimalist Baker, and Isa Chandra’s The Post Punk Kitchen. A coworker recently introduced me to Rabbit and Wolves, and I am OBSESSED. (Make the Sticky Lemon Tofu and thank me later.)

Back to the cookies. Like the molasses cookies, these are incredibly easy to make. Also just one bowl and fifteen minutes! I substituted one serving (one tablespoon) Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer for the ground flax. For the non-dairy milk I used Minor Figures Oat Milk, which I get with my produce delivery from Misfits Market (get 25% off here) as an add-on for $2.19. I would normally use melted coconut oil, but I was out, so I used regular old supermarket brand canola oil. Nora suggests you use a sifter or a fine mesh strainer because cocoa powder has a tendency to clump. This was a good call on her part. The most challenging task is putting together the balls of dough before rolling them in the powdered sugar. I kept getting a lot of dough stuck to my hands, so I started rinsing them between every 3 or 4 cookies. Problem solved. The recipe says they will look underdone when they come out of the oven, and they will. Do not cook them longer. Let them set for 15 minutes or so. That underdone-seemingness is why they end up so soft and delicious.

They come out looking very pretty, encrusted with powdered sugar. The flavor is chocolatey and just the right amount of sweet. The texture is light. So light that I ate five before I realized I had spoiled my dinner.

The Twelve Days of Vegan Cookies: Day 2, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip

If you love soft-baked chocolate chip cookies as I do, this recipe from The Viet Vegan is a clever variation on a classic–there’s just enough pumpkin flavor to make them taste a little different, but it’s definitely not overwhelming. My dogs were beyond thrilled when they realized I wasn’t using the whole can of pumpkin puree–pumpkin and sweet potato are among their favorite treats.

Making the dough is super easy and can be accomplished with just one bowl for easy clean-up, too. I only made one change to the recipe as written–I substituted Enjoy Life Mega Chocolate Chunks for regular-sized chocolate chips. There’s almost nothing better than cookies almost straight out of the oven, and the chocolate chunks made it a delightfully messy experience.

Difficulty Level: Super easy

Time in the kitchen: About 30 minutes

Omnivore rating: “These are vegan?”

The Vegan’s Guide to Tampa: Part One (of at Least Three)

During the two and a half years since I moved back to Tampa from beautiful Durham, North Carolina, I’ve discovered the city’s very best attribute (no, it’s not the beaches, although they are lovely): the bounty of vegan food–especially vegan junk food. A veritable cornucopia of options await the hungry vegan. Fortunately, the city of the world’s longest continuous sidewalk offers many opportunities to burn off those calories, too. Just across the bridges over Old Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg also offers a ton of amazing vegan food. I’ll save my St. Pete and other Pinellas County recommendations for another post, especially since I can’t fit all my Tampa recs into one post. (Can’t wait? This list is a legit guide to St. Petersburg’s main vegan culinary attractions.)

3 Dot Dash

The Fat Mac from 3 Dot Dash

Located inside Jug & Bottle Dept., a lovely bottle shop in Seminole Heights, 3 Dot Dash is the ultimate vegan junk food. Super reasonably priced and served by some of the friendliest staff, 3 Dot Dash’s burgers and chik’n sandwiches have become a staple of my weekday lunch rotation. I am working my full-time job plus working part-time on a COVID-19 testing research project, so I don’t have time to prepare lunches most work days. 3 Dot Dash keeps me full and happy. Their specials are always on point, but my favorite regulars include the Southern Chik’n, a house-made fried chick’n cutlet with Alabama white BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickle and the Fat Mac, a quarter-pound Impossible burger, topped with cashew mac, ranch, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickle. (Hold the pickles for me.) I always, always get fries with cashew whiz, too. So. Yummy. When my non-vegan best friend was visiting Tampa back in February, she requested a second visit to 3 Dot Dash after having the Southern Chik’n. She’s planning another visit, and 3 Dot Dash is already on her to-do list, after snuggling with her favorite canine nephew, Parker. 3 Dot Dash offers pick-up and delivery via Uber Eats.

Farmacy Vegan Kitchen

With locations downtown inside Duckweed Urban Grocery in the Element building and in the Channel District, Farmacy makes at least a biweekly appearance on my lunch menu and an occasional appearance at dinner time. Like 3 Dot Dash, Farmacy offers a variety of Impossible burgers. There are some genuinely healthy options, too. I have been known to say I hate salad, but Farmacy’s Herb-Roasted Kale Caesar is delicious. They also serve Impossible Philly Cheese Steaks along with several other hot sandwiches, cold wraps, salads, acai bowls, sides, and sweets. I often order the Frisco Melt, an Impossible patty on garlic sourdough bread with American “cheese”, Farmacy pickles, special sauce, tomatoes and avocado. The special sauce is amazing and I never eat pickles on purpose, but I like Farmacy’s. I accidentally forgot to request to leave them off this week and, as a friend promised, I liked them! You can taste the cucumber and they are not overly briny or acidic.

Black Radish Vegan Grocer

I cannot sing the praises of Black Radish loudly enough. My only regret about my recent move is that I am no longer quick walking distance away from the V. M. Ybor gem. (I live a whole 1.1 miles away now.) From the design of their signage and website to the difficult-to-find vegan products they carry, my love for Black Radish knows no bounds. I regularly self-medicate with sweets (don’t judge me, I am vegan for the animals not for prevention of diabetes), and Black Radish carries a ton of local Oopsy Daisy Sweets products including my favorite, the Vinkie (a vegan “Twinkie”), in vanilla and chocolate and a mind-blowing brownie containing Oreos, peanut butter, and chocolate chunks. Tuesday nights from 5 to 8 p.m., go get a Munch Wrap! The fillings vary from Buffalo to Al Pastor to Plant Ranch Pollo Asado. Check their Instagram for the latest. Brunch is served Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and weekends 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Just Egg, Follow Your Heart vegan cheese, Impossible sausage on a Pretzilla roll? Omg, yes.

HaleLife Bakery

I’m extremely skeptical about gluten-free foods, particularly baked goods, yet HaleLife‘s vegan and gluten-free cupcakes, donuts, bread, and waffles have completely won me over. To soothe my post-election anxiety, I’ve been consuming approximately one two-pack of HaleLife cinnamon rolls daily. (I wish that was a joke.) My other go-tos include the chocolate ganache cupcake, smores donut, and salted caramel cheesecake cupcake. (Look at all the research I have done on your behalf, dear reader!) HaleLife has two locations–South Tampa and Clearwater.

For now, I’ll leave you to try (or dream about) these wonderful local eateries. Coming in part two: King State, Dharma Fine Vittles (formerly Dixie Dharma), Bodega, Taco Dirty, and more.

Mama’s Lean Times Tomato Cabbage Soup

Note: This was originally posted on my yoga teaching website, www.nicolemarkyoga.net, in June 2012. I made a few edits to the recipe thanks to some experimentation in the kitchen. I wanted to re-post this because it’s a favorite, and because I’ve been cooking at home a lot more on a much tighter budget than I’ve worked with in a while. This nourishing meal will give you dinner for two plus lunch for at least two more days, and winter is a great time to enjoy a hearty soup.

For most of our childhoods, my brother, sister, and I had it really, really good. We lived in lovely homes in suburban Baltimore County, Maryland and Central Florida, traveled extensively and were loved dearly. Of the meals my dear Mother prepared at home, I never remember meeting one I didn’t like. (Some of you may be surprised to know–and some not at all surprised–that as a tot, my favorite meal was my Mom’s homemade, gourmet-as-any-restaurant boeuf bourguignon).

There were some lean times, financially speaking, that I never knew about until my early adulthood.  During these times, my Mother kept us well-fed and blissfully ignorant of the family finances. One of my favorite meals she prepared then, and a real comfort food for me now, is this super-easy-to-make and super cheap tomato cabbage soup. Since I am experiencing some lean times of my own and I’m comforted by this nostalgic meal, I decided to make it. It’s the perfect meal for the person with every excuse not to cook: it’s fast, easy, cheap, tasty, and healthy. Vegan? Got you covered. Don’t use butter.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • One cabbage (I got a medium-sized local Florida one at Whole Foods Market last week, and it was more than enough)
  • One 64-ounce bottle V-8 or other vegetable juice cocktail
  • One 16-ounce bag mixed vegetables (I used 365 organic ones. There are a number of new frozen vegetable blends available now–I plan to experiment soon.)
  • Seasonings of your choice to taste (in the past, I’ve added fresh minced garlic, Mrs. Dash, and black pepper, but this week I tossed in just a teaspoon of red pepper flakes)
  • Butter (the good shit, like Kerrygold or another European butter) OR vegetable oil such as olive oil, canola oil, or whatever other vegetable oil you have on hand that won’t clash with the other flavors (sesame oil or coconut oil would probably not be good choices)
  • Parmesan, Romano, or a blend of the two cheeses for sprinkling atop your soup. (Don’t know the difference between the two? Here you go.)

Directions:

Boil salted water in a very large pot or Dutch oven situation. While the water is boiling, coarsely chop the cabbage. Toss the chopped cabbage into the boiling water and cook until tender (al dente-ish). Drain the cabbage.

In the same pot, heat the butter or oil in a soup-sized pot. Add garlic if using. Add chopped cabbage and toss for a few minutes. The idea here is to give the cabbage a little braised flavor. Pour in veg juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, then add frozen veggies. Simmer until hot. Season to taste. Sprinkle with parmesan or romano if desired. Eat.