Vegan Sugar Cookies with Icing

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Some vegans don’t eat cookies too often, unless they bake them at home. They are hard to find in the stores and always a bit pricey. If you can find any, they will usually be peanut butter or chocolate chip, but very rarely a sugar cookie and a great tasting one at that. In fact my daughter prefers these over the non-vegan ones!

I made this batch of cookies for the First Annual Veg-Fest in Sonoma County last month. Since these needed to look pristine, I ended up with some rejects left at home. My friend was visiting a few days after the event and ate the rest of my cookies, he claimed they were so good he couldn’t stop eating them. Today he asked for the recipe because he just needed to make some vegan cookies and he thinks I can go into business with these and sell them to places like Whole Foods or other vegetarian friendly places.

I hate to even call these a “Sugar Cookie”. Most sugar cookies are hard, chalky and dry. What makes these so different than a traditional sugar cookie, is the flax-seed meal and the cream cheese. Those two items give this cookie a much better texture and flavor than the old fashioned ones. To change it up once in a while, you could add some lemon or orange zest to the cookie dough and icing for a different taste.

These cookies are just as easy to make as any other cookie, with the added fun of cutting out different shapes and decorating them.  If you are not an artist, then no worries, you can just spread the icing over the tops then devour. If you are more artistically inclined, then you can pull out all the stops and really make some fun and gorgeous cookies!

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* VEGAN * ROLLED *SUGAR *COOKIES *

Ingredients for cookies:

  • 1 Cup Golden Flaxseed Meal
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Vegan Margarine – such as Nucoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1.5 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
  • 2 tbls water
  • 1/2 container of Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
  • 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract (or Lemon or Orange zest/extract)

Directions:

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  This should take about 3 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, combine together the dry ingredients and set aside.
  • Prepare the egg replacer  by mixing replacer with warm water and whisk until frothy
  • Add egg replacer, vanilla and almond extracts to mixer and beat another minute or so.
  • Add the flour mixture slowly, mixing after each cup is added.  (Be careful not to add too much at a time.
  • Blend until all of the flour is incorporated and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a piece of parchment paper.
  • Place the dough in a large plastic (zip-lock type) bag or Tupperware bowl with a lid and refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight.

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  •  Take about half the dough at a time and roll it out until about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick.
  • Carefully stamp each cookie cutter until that piece is full. (If cookie cutter starts to  stick, dip the edges in flour.)
  • Prep an area to roll out the dough. I use a roll out mat, and a little flour. If you don’t have height guides for your rolling pin, you can use two wooden spoons of the same height as guides as shown above.15 min before you remove the dough from the refrigerator, preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
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Wilton Fondant Fun Rolling MatLR-8022  LR-8023

  • Pick up the scraps and re- roll the dough, continue to stamp cookies until full, then repeat.
  • Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet (you can use parchment paper or a silicone mat on top of the sheet if you prefer) and place in the freezer for about 5 -10 minutes. This assures that the cookies stay very cold and will help prevent spreading.
  • Take the other half of the dough and repeat the process until all cookies have been stamped.
  • If you don’t have enough cookies sheets you should leave the unrolled dough in the fridge until your first batches are completed.
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    PRO TIP: Place similar sized cookies on the same cookies sheet. That way all the cookies will cook evenly and you won’t have some cookies under-baked and others to crispy.

  • Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the cookie.  Bake until they are just barely beginning to take on a golden tone.  They will continue to bake as long as then are on the pan, so don’t let then get too brown.
  • Cool for just a minute or so on the pan, then carefully remove cookies from the baking sheet and place on a cooling rack.

This recipe yields about 28, 2 1/2 inch cookies or 16, 3 1/2 inch cookies.

Once cooled, the cookies can be decorated with frosting, royal icing or rolled fondant.



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* VEGAN * ROYAL * ICING * RECIPE*

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (organic) powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp of non-dairy milk
  • 2 tsp of light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (or Lemon or Orange zest/extract)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

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See my Sugar Cookie Extravaganza Post for all the details and tools used to decorate cookies. COOKIE DECORATING TOOLS NEEDED

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Directions:

  • Using Kitchen-aide mixer, add sugar, non-dairy milk and whisk until smooth.
  • Add in extracts and corn syrup.  Whisk  until icing is smooth, shiny, and a little runny.
  • Pour in all the icing sugar at once and place the bowl on the mixer.
  • You will want this to be thicker at first so you can use this for your borders. So add more powdered sugar until icing is thick enough to hold its shape. (You will add water as needed later for the flood fill.)
  • In the icing bottles, place some of the white frosting in each one. Tint with food coloring or thin the icing with small amounts of warm water to reach the desired consistency. For the borders, you want it to be stiff and thicker, but still able to squeeze out.
  • Once your desired colors are mixed, then fill each bottle, or parchment bag.

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DECORATING : See my Sugar Cookie Extravaganza Post for links, ideas and more how-to’s.

  • While the borders are drying, use the same bowls as before to mix your thinner flood fill icing. This needs to be thin enough to “set” itself in about 10 seconds. Add only a few drops of water at a time. If it’s too runny, then you will had to add more powdered sugar and mix again.
  • Fill squeeze bottles with flood will icing. Use a toothpick or bamboo skewer stick to help move the flood colors to cover the surface area and reach into the corners.
  • Once your borders are set and dry you can begin filling in all your designs and colors. The possibilities are endless, so watch the videos for inspiration.
  • In-between uses, cover the bowl of plain white icing with a dampened tea-towel to prevent crusting and drying. You can also cover each bottle with a tip or damp cloth to prevent them from getting hard or clogged.

It took a little time to get used to the vegan royal icing.  It’s not bright white like the traditional recipe is, but its a lovely off-white color that still takes gel coloring well. I was able to paint on the dried icing  as well as add edible glitter, and fondant flowers. By the time I decorated a few cookies, I was used to it.  The cookie at the bottom right corner of the photo below is bright white, because I rolled out white fondant and used the same cookie cutter to cut a square shape, iced cookie with the flood fill icing, then stuck on the fondant. The icing acts like glue and worked great. Fondant will give you a smoother canvas to work on, as well as giving it the pure white color. Some people love the taste of it and some hate it, I personally prefer the icing flavor over the fondant, but its great to use as an accent such as the flowers.

 

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** H A P P Y * B A K I N G **

Back to School Again

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*** 1st Day of the 6th Grade ***  I wish I looked at least half as good when I was this age. She is quite the fashionista.  I don’t think we looked this good in the 80’s.

Somehow every year the summer whizzes by like a speeding locomotive that only Superman can stop. For whatever reason this summer was the fastest of all. Today is the first day of school for my daughter and it marked the beginning of the dreaded middle school years. She refused to let me walk her into class this year, another marker of just how independent she is starting to become. I am still in shock at how old she is; it’s like just last year she learned how to walk. It’s very bittersweet.

We are very fortunate to have an arts based school that is K-8, meaning that she gets to stay with all her friends and at the same campus location for all of her pre-high school education. I wasn’t so lucky. I had several different elementary schools, then I went to junior high (7th – 9th) where all of my friends ended up at another junior high, and then a different high school than all my friends went. I guess we always lived on the “wrong side of the tracks” and I was destined to repeatedly make new friends.

My birthdays were always difficult that first year in the new school as my birthday is in September. Back when I was in school, we actually started after Labor Day, which doesn’t give much time to make close friends. We had no computers, no cell phones, no Facebook, Instagram, and all that jazz. It was frowned upon to get a phone call after 8 pm and you never answered the phone during dinner. People were less connected back then.

I wish I could slow down time and take in every moment of my daughter’s life, take note of all the funny things she says, remember all the cool clothes she wore and all the sweet friends she makes. Anyone with more than one child I think deserves some kind of award or trophy, because if one if one child is this difficult to raise with this hectic a schedule I cannot fathom how much more crazy and difficult it gets with more kids.

We parents should really stick together and give each other as much support as possible. We can all use a kind word and help from time to time.  So to all mothers & fathers out there who are sending their kids to school today or this week, I applaud you; stand up and take a bow. Your child got to school, is dressed and wearing shoes, has something to eat for lunch, has a backpack, and you made that happen. YOU – got up extra early to help your daughter do her hair. YOU – stayed up late to make your son a perfect lunch.  YOU – ran around all day yesterday getting the last minute school supplies that are required by your child’s teacher.  Go do something nice for yourself this week, go out to your favorite restaurant, get that yummy dessert you have been eying, go get coffee and lounge in that coffee house all day (until you have to go pick up your kids), stay home and take a nap, give yourself a pedicure or go out and get one, or go get a massage – you know you deserve it. You made all this happen. YOU ARE PRETTY AMAZING!

Dinner Party Cooking – Circa 1946

Imagine eating something that looked like this, in 2014. I certainly can’t. Pink ice cream looking substance in a cantaloupe shell with some interesting placements of fruit.  It’s something about the bananas… just makes it so … wrong. It doesn’t look very appetizing. Thank goodness for me we don’t still have to eat like this, but just in case you are throwing a vintage party and need some ideas, let’s take a trip back in time.

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Lets go back again to the 1940’s and see what we should make for dinner tonight.  Put on the radio, roll up your hair and put on an adorable apron. Let’s consult my Lily Wallace New American Cookbook for some dinner ideas. Hmmmm .. . How about a Spaghetti Crown with Savory Spinach?


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Nooooo … I’m not really in the mood for fried cocktail pork sausages. What else looks good……  Oh I know, what about everyone’s favorite Spaghetti with Tuna Fish. Drat, I’m all fresh out of smelly canned tuna. Dang, that one looked promising!

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Maybe we should stick to something more traditional, like macaroni and cheese.  So many varieties to choose from…… Maybe I should just combine ALL these ingredients and put them in a jello mold. That’s what they did back then right?

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OK, now for dessert. I really need some inspiration. I could make one of these:

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These look too scary to eat, like some crazy old evil witch deep in forest made them to fatten me up so she can turn me into a stew or something…. they do not look appetizing in the least bit.  Besides, who puts a whole orange on top of a slice of cake and slathers it in some shiny sugary glaze? Or a circle of poop cookie filled with red jelly? Or a whole mushroom on top of a piece of cake? A witch I tell you, a witch. If you EVER see these at a party you are attending, RUN, don’t walk to the nearest exit and don’t ever go back!

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NO, NO, NO, and NO … none of these will do. It has to be really special. Something no one has had before that will really wow a crowd.


I’ve got it.. how about this! Recipe # 2978 PORK CAKE – YUMMMMMMY

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*** T H E *** E N D ***

Sugar Cookie Extravaganza and it’s Back to School Already?

Wow, I am amazed that this summer break has flown by so quickly. More quickly than when I was working full time and commuting.  Not sure how that is possible, but it certainly feels that way. Where we live school starts August 20th. That’s exactly 2 weeks away! There are times I wish it didn’t start until after Labor Day like when I was a kid, but in exchange we are out for the “summer” earlier than most people in May. Which means if we take a vacation right after school ends, we beat the crowds.

So the last few days have been a flurry of cookie making. Decorated Sugar Cookie making to be exact. Sometimes I wonder why I can’t be like other moms and just buy the cookies, or make plain circle cookies and slather on some pink frosting, shake some rainbow sprinkles on them and call it a day. But NOOOOOO, I become possessed by some Martha Stewart spirit and wind up turning it into a 3 day cookie making extravaganza for my daughter’s Dance Company’s Bake Sale Fundraiser.

I did my research. I followed the rules and directions and I do have to say that I am quite pleased for my first attempt at this decorating style. I was lucky enough to stumble upon this website that offers really great explanations and how to’s. I wanted to have those professional looking cookies that you find at fancy bakeries. I can see now why they always charge $5 a cookie! However, I’m sure after doing this a few times, I would be able to complete the process much faster.

I was pleasantly surprised by all the compliments I received over these Dance Themed Cookies, taste and the decoration. Everyone in the dance company went berserk for them. They sold out on the first day! Being somewhat of a perfectionist, I see all the things I could have done better, all the little spots that didn’t come out exactly perfect. But in the end cookies were eaten and loved by all.


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Here’s the recipe for Rolled Sugar Cookies that was inspired by The Glorious Baker

Ingredients for cookies:

  • 1 Cup Golden Flaxseed Meal
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
  • Parchment paper

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  This should take about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts and beat another minute or so.
  5. Add the flour mixture slowly, mixing after each cup is added.  (Be careful not to add too much at a time.
  6. Blend until all of the flour is incorporated and the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  7. Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a piece of parchment paper.
  8. Place the dough in a large plastic (ziplock type) bag or tupperware bowl with a lid and refrigerate for about 2 hours.
  9. Prep an area to roll out the dough. I use a roll out mat, and a little flour.
  10. 15 min before you remove the dough from the refrigerator, preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
  11. Take about half the dough at a time and roll it out until about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick.
    Carefully stamp each cookie cutter until that piece is full. (If cookie cutter starts to  stick, dip the edges in flour.)
  12. Pick up the scraps and re- roll the dough, continue to stamp cookies until full, then repeat.
  13. Place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and place in the freezer for about 5 -10 minutes. This assures that the cookies stay very cold and will help prevent spreading.
  14. Take the other half of the dough and repeat the process until all cookies have been stamped.
  15. If you don’t have enough cookies sheets you should leave the unrolled dough in the fridge until your first batches are completed.

    PRO TIP: Place similar sized cookies on the same cookies sheet. That way all the cookies will cook evenly and you won’t have some cookies under-baked and others to crispy.

  16. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the cookie.  Bake until they are just barely beginning to take on a golden tone.  They will continue to bake as long as then are on the pan, so don’t let then get too brown.
  17. Cool for just a minute or so on the pan, then carefully remove cookies from the baking sheet and place on a cooling rack.
  • This recipe yields about 30, 2 1/2 inch cookies or 16, 3 1/2 inch cookies.
  • Once cooled, the cookies can be decorated with frosting, royal icing or rolled fondant.


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::: ROYAL ICING RECIPE :::

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz (3/4 cup) of warm water
  • 5 Tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2.25 lbs. powdered sugar

*** Note; if your meringue powder has no vanilla flavor (vanillin powder) in it, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to this recipe.

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COOKIE DECORATING TOOLS NEEDED

OPTION 1 – Pastry Bag Method:

  • Piping bags or Candy Melts squeeze bottles
  • Glasses – to stand your icing bags in
  • Clean cloths – a few damp and dry ones nearby
  • Elastic bands or bag clips
  • Piping tips(at least #’s 1-5)
  • Couplers
  • Toothpicks
  • Food gel coloring
  • Parchment Paper (Decorating Bags)

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OPTION 2 – Squeeze Bottle Method :

I used this method and it works great!

  • Candy Melts squeeze bottles for flood fill
  • Decorating Squeeze Bottles with changeable tips
  • Clean cloths – a few damp and dry ones nearby
  • Piping tips(at least #’s 1-5)
  • Couplers
  • Toothpicks
  • Food gel coloring
  • Parchment Paper ( Decorating Bags)
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Left: Flood Fill Icing Bottle ************** Right: Border icing and Final Detail Bottles with Changeable tips

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Directions:

  1. Using Kitchen-aide mixer, pour in the warm water and the meringue powder.
  2. Mix it with the whisk attachment (or by hand) until it is frothy and thickened…about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the cream of tartar and mix for 30 seconds more.
  4. Pour in all the icing sugar at once and place the bowl on the mixer.
  5. Switch to the paddle attachment.
  6. On the LOWEST speed, mix slowly for a full 10 minutes. Icing will get thick and creamy.
  7. You will want this to be thicker at first so you can use this for your borders. (You will add water as needed later for the flood fill.)
  8. In small bowls place some of the white frosting in each one. Tint with food coloring or thin the icing with small amounts of warm water to reach the desired consistency. For the borders, you want it to be stiff and thicker, but still able to squeeze out.
  9. Once your desired colors are mixed, then fill each bottle, or parchment bag.
  10. DECORATE : See below for the how to video’s and ideas.
  11. While the borders are drying, use the same bowls as before to mix your thinner flood fill icing. This needs to be thin enough to “set” itself in about 10 seconds. Add only a few drops of water at a time. If it’s too runny, then you will had to add more powdered sugar and mix again.
  12. Fill pastry bags or candy squeeze bottles with flood will icing
  13. Once your borders are set and dry you can begin filling in all your designs and colors. The possibilities are endless, so watch the videos for inspiration.
  14. In-between uses, cover the bowl of plain white icing with a dampened tea-towel to prevent crusting and drying. You can also cover each bottle with a tip or damp cloth to prevent them from getting hard or clogged.
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In the process of bordering and flood fill. The square cookies can be anything you want. I just wrote out words or drew things with the border icing. This was the only photo I took of the in between process. Next time I will add some step by step photos of each cookie.

 

  PRO TIP: To make sure the icing is at the right consistency for the FLOOD FILL, use the “10 second rule“.  Drag a butter knife through the surface of your royal icing and count to 10.  If the icing surface becomes smooth in anywhere between 5-10 seconds, then your icing is ready to use.  If it takes longer than approximately 10 seconds, the icing is too thick.  Slowly add more water.  If your icing surface smooths over in less than 5-10 seconds, it is too runny.



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Here are some links to some tutorials and decorating ideas that I used to create my cookies.

::: Information ::: Tutorials ::: Pro-Tips :::

The Glorious Baker says:

I also highly recommend the book Cookie Craft.  This is the best and most complete book I’ve found on decorating cookies.  This book has gorgeous photos for inspiration, but also has every bit of information you need, including directions and recipes.  Despite the thousands of cookies I’ve made over the years, I still come back to this book for ideas or to refresh my memory on a particular technique.



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The finished cookies all packaged up in my Snapware Cupcake & Cookie carrier. I LOVE this thing. Not only does the inner tray flip ever so you can hold cookies, cupcakes, and muffins, I also used it to carry sandwich or burger fixin’s with an ice pack under the inner tray to keep it cool. So many great uses. I got mine at Costco, but you can find them on Amazon.com (click photo to go there) and it comes with 3 stacks with the flipping inner trays.

Bonus Points for Lego – Girl Power!!!

Finally a toy company is making strong, intelligent, awesome female characters. They are not all pink and purple Lego blocks, they do not look like a Barbie, they don’t worry about what size pants they wear, they aren’t wearing high heels, they aren’t wearing shirts that say “Math is Stupid” or “School Sucks” and they don’t play beer pong, or work at Hooters; they are just awesome.  I might even have to get these just for myself ( nerd alert … nerd alert). It does say ages 10+ and I am in the “plus” range.

Originally posted on Lego.com website

Explore the world and beyond at the Research Institute!

The Research Institute has everything that you need to explore the world below, around and above us! Created by real-life geoscientist, Ellen Kooijman (alias:Alatariel), and selected by LEGO® Ideas members (formerly known as CUUSOO), this collection of scenes depicts three varied professions within the world of natural science. Help the paleontologist study the origin of dinosaurs with the magnifying glass, map the skies with the astronomer and her telescope, and assist the chemist as she carries out experiments in her lab. This set also includes building instructions, as well as a booklet containing information about the creator and an introduction to each of the professions featured in the set. There’s a whole world of exciting professions out there to explore – build and role play them to see if they suit you! Includes 3 minifigures: paleontologist, astronomer and a chemist.

  • Includes paleontologist, astronomer and chemist minifigures
  • Features paleontology, astronomy, and chemistry scenes on a 6×6 baseplate
  • Paleontology scene features a dinosaur skeleton, microscope and a magnifying glass
  • Astronomy scene features a telescope and a sky chart
  • Chemistry scene features a cabinet, tools, bottles and flasks
  • Discover new stars and planets through the telescope
  • Study the dinosaur skeleton up close
  • Concoct new formulas in the chemist’s lab
  • Gives a great insight into the world of natural science
  • Build the model voted for by LEGO® Ideas members
  • Includes building instructions and booklet with information about the creator and professions featured in the set
  • Each scene measures over 1” (5cm) high, 1” (4cm) wide and 1” (4cm) deep

If you want even more female characters, A Mighty Girl is offering a huge set of all female characters in a variety of jobs for $49.99. Check it out right HERE.

Lego Community Minifigures Set

Yam & Quinoa Fritters with Zesty Black Beans

 

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Looking for something unique to make for dinner? Perhaps it’s “Meatless Monday” and you are tired of the same old dishes.  I love yams and I love quinoa, but I have never come across a recipe that combined them until now. Adapted from makingthymeforhealth.com food blog, Sarah created these fritters, however with any recipe I find I modified it.

They are a little messy to make, when you are forming the fritters, but overall an easy meal to make. The flavors all compliment each other so well, you will be treated to a tasty treat, plus you are getting so many nutrients from the beans, yam and quinoa your body just won’t know what to do with itself.  These are vegan (and can be made gluten free),  however any meat eater is sure to enjoy these this tasty meal. The salsa mixed with beans makes them saucy and flavorful. Like things spicy? Then sub out the mild salsa for a hot one. This is an easy dish to customize to your tastes.

One of the things I love about this is that you can do all the prep work ahead of time, even a day or two. If you pre-cook the beans, yams and quinoa, then all you have to do is assemble and form the fritters. Or you can make the fritters ahead of time too and keep them in the fridge to cook them up as you need. The last batch I created, somehow made so many fritters that I ended up freezing them for later user. When you refrigerate or freeze, separate the fritters with wax paper so they don’t stick together.


Prep Time: 20 minutes        Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes        Makes about 15-20 fritters depending on size

Ingredients
  • 1.5 cup dry quinoa (before cooking)
  • 2 med-large sweet potato (about 2 cups cooked)
  • 1 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs (or gluten-free breadcrumbs)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • salt & pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon each)
  • juice of one lime
  • Egg Replacer for 2 eggs or 2 tablespoons flaxmeal + 6 tablespoons water
  • 32 ounces salsa (your taste preference)
  • 3 cups cooked black beans ( or two cans)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil for frying
  • Vegan Sour Cream (or regular sour cream for non-vegans)
  • 1-2 Avocados (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the quinoa: either use a rice cooker (1 part quinoa to 1.5 parts water/stock) This takes about 20 minutes and comes out flawless. I use water with a couple tablespoons of vegetarian chicken stock. If you use only water, add about 1/4 tsp salt and any other seasonings you prefer. Pour the quinoa and liquid in at the same time and press “Cook”.  Put cooked quinoa into large mixing bowl, and let cool. If you prefer you can prepare on the stove-top.
    • STOVETOP: Add quinoa to a medium size saucepan along with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil (keep an eye on it or it will boil over), turn heat to low and cover with a lid. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, fluffing with a fork half way through. Put cooked quinoa into large mixing bowl, and let cool..
  2. Meanwhile, peel and cut the yams into 1 inch cubes. Place the yams in your Lekue Steamer or other microwave save container with a lid.  Add a tablespoon of water, close your Lekue or loosely cover other container and microwave for 8 to 12 minutes (time will depend on your microwave wattage). Allow to cool for at least five minutes, then mash with fork or potato masher.  Put yams into the same large bowl with the quinoa.
  3. If your beans are canned or cold (from pre-cooking) heat the black beans and salsa either in a microwave safe bowl, or on the stove-top, by pouring them together and then allowing it to simmer on the low setting until hot.
  4. Chop the cilantro and the green onion and place in the same bowl and yams and quinoa.
  5. Add the breadcrumbs, ginger, lime, egg replacer, cumin and salt & pepper,  to the mixing bowl then stir until well-combined.
  6. Taking about 1/4 cup of the mixture at a time, form small patties with your hands and set aside on a large plate or baking sheet lined with wax paper.
  7. Once all of the patties are formed warm the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook each fritter for about 5-7 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown and firm.
  8. Serve cooked fritters on a bed of the black bean salsa.
  9. Top with sour cream, avocado and a sprig of fresh cilantro.

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Summer Reading #2 – The Royal Spyness Series

::: The Royal Spyness Series by Rhys Bowen :::

I am completely addicted to book series. If they are well written, well narrated, historical and a murder mystery or adventure,  then I am smitten.  That’s exactly what happened with Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness series. I have listened to them all through my Audible.com account and I just can’t get enough. In fact I am eagerly awaiting her latest episode, Queen of Hearts to be released next month.

Let me take you back to the beginning. Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, is the  daughter of the Duke of Atholt and Rannoch. Her father has since passed on, and as a young woman in the 1920’s and 30’s she is of course, penniless, as all wealth would go to a male heir, in her case her brother, even though she is the King’s cousin and is thirty-fourth in line for the throne.  Georgianna has been taught only the things a fine young lady would learn: the perfect curtsey, what fork to use and when, how to dance, and what outfit to wear at each corresponding meal. But her brother (and his overbearing wife, Fig) cuts off her allowance, so she leaves Scotland for London where she begins her journey and winds up a novice sleuth.

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Keeping in fashion with shows such as Downton Abbey, these books take you back to a time and place that seem to real and alive that you sometimes feel as if you are right there with Georgiana. All the glorious characters are present, just as they are in Downton Abbey, as are the palaces, the opulence, the poverty, the servants, the romances, the fashions, the history, and the hierarchy.  If you are looking for something to fill the void when Downton is off for the summer, this is the perfect filler.
 
Each book takes you on a foreign journey that is just lovely, and not too gory or lusty. Bowen has the perfect balance that gives each character their moment to shine. Below is the order of books and besides just grabbing all of them at your local bookstore and plowing through them, I highly recommend listening to these on audoibook.  Because if you do, you will be treated to one of the best audiobook narrators in existence, Katherine Kellgren.  (Insert photo here: –> ) KatherineKellgren3 (2)
 
 Katherine Kellgren has recorded over a hundred audiobooks, including winners of the Audie Award, the American Library Association’s Odyssey Honor, the Earphones Award, the Publishers Weekly Listen Up Award, and ForeWord Magazine’s Audiobook of the Year.
 
Katherine does ALL the voices, in each and every book in this series. She prepares and studies each new dialect, and person wholeheartedly and authentically. She perfectly performs each job she is give, and really gets in to the heart of each character. They all seem so real, as if we are listening to a blip in time and these people actually existed. Go out and do something nice for yourself and listen to these books! Don’t forget, I told you all about audiobooks in an earlier post, but in case you forgot, check out Audible.com and my blog post regarding that: Time for Some Summer Reading.
 
For ease of reference here are the order of the books to date.
  1. Her Royal Spyness (2007)
  2. A Royal Pain (2008)
  3. Royal Flush (2009)
  4. Royal Blood (2010)
  5. Naughty in Nice (2011)
  6. The Twelve Clues of Christmas (2012)
  7. Heirs and Graces (2013)
  8. Queen of Hearts (August 2014)
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Coming in August 2014