Rum Balls

Posted: December 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Cookies, Dairy-free, Dessert, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments »

Rum balls - the final product

This is another Lynch family classic recipe. I’ve been making these with my mom for as long as I can remember. Be warned: since these aren’t baked, they remain slightly alcoholic. However, the amount of alcohol in a single rum ball is pretty minor so you don’t need to worry about getting drunk unless you eat a whole batch (in which case you probably have other problems to worry about, like a stomachache!). I don’t know where the recipe originates, but I think it’s one of those 1960’s recipes that was passed around between housewives. I have at least one other friend who grew up making these.

The funny thing is, these decadent confections can easily be made vegan, with a little attention to ingredient lists. Make sure that your chocolate chips have no dairy (Guittard is my favorite) and look for generic brand Nilla wafers that don’t contain any eggs or dairy. The brand I use, Valu Time (!) is actually far “better” for you than name-brand Nilla Wafers. The name brand version contains all kinds of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup, whereas Valu Time is mostly real sugar and non-hydrogenated oils. And they leave out the dairy products too (name brand Nillas have whey in them).

You can make these with bourbon instead of rum if you wish. I’ve never done it (the family tradition is to use rum) but I bet it’s delicious!

Rum Balls


6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (vegan)
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup rum or bourbon
2 1/2 cups crushed Nilla wafers (approx. 1 12-oz. box) (real Nillas are not vegan, but sometimes the generic brands are)
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more for rolling
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

Ingredients for rum balls


  1. Crush Nilla wafers in a food processor, blender, or by putting them in a bag and rolling them with a rolling pin. Chop nuts, if they’re not pre-cut.
  2. Mix nuts, powdered sugar, and crushed Nilla wafers in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Melt chocolate chips and corn syrup in a double boiler.
  4. Pour melted chocolate mixture over the Nilla wafer mixture. Add rum and mix well.
  5. Let stand 1/2 hour at room temp for 30 minutes. Do not skip this step! It gives the rum time to soak into the Nilla wafer crumbs.
  6. Roll dough into balls and coat with powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container.

Rum balls marinating

Cranberry Shortbread Sandwich Cookies

Posted: December 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Cookies, Dessert, Vegetarian | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Cranberry shortbread cookies

What does one do with a bunch of leftover cranberry sauce? Make cookies, of course. The cranberry sauce is sweet enough that it can be enjoyed in both sweet and savory contexts. It was the inspiration for these tender little sandwiches.

Cranberry Shortbread Sandwich Cookies

Adapted from Sunset Magazine, December 2009


2 cups flour
1 cup cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
leftover cranberry sauce (you shouldn’t need too much)


  1. Using an electric mixer (preferably a stand mixer), mix flour, butter, sugar, and salt on low speed until just blended. Increase speed to medium and mix until dough is no longer crumbly and just comes together. It might take a while; don’t lose patience.
  2. Form dough into a disk and chill 30 minutes.
  3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough 1/8″ thick. Cut out cookies into whatever shape you desire. I used a knife to cut mine into squares, but you can use cookie cutters too. Re-roll dough if necessary. Cut small “windows” out of half of the cookies: they will be the top of the sandwich.
  4. Preheat oven to 325°F. Put cookies into refrigerator to chill for 15 minutes while the oven is preheating. Bake until light golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Let cool.
  5. Spread each bottom half with about 1/2 teaspoon cranberry sauce, then put the top half on top and press very gently (cookies will be delicate, so be careful not to break them).
  6. Store in a covered container. You can eat the cookies right after you make them, but they’re actually better the next day when the sauce has soaked in a little.

Martha’s Cranberry Sauce

Posted: December 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Other, Preserves, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

Midnight snack

I know, I know, Thanksgiving is a couple weeks past already. But this recipe is just too good to not share! I brought it to two Thanksgivings this year and everyone was a big fan. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and tart. It’s also incredibly easy to make. Thanks, Martha!

Pictured above on a post-Thanksgiving dinner midnight snack: a tiny turkey & cranberry sandwich, featuring my dad’s delicious dairy-free biscuits.

Cranberry Ginger Relish

From Martha Stewart Living, November 2008


1 12-oz. bag cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
pinch salt


  1. If using fresh cranberries, rinse well and pick out any mushy ones.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring everything except vinegar to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until most of the cranberries have “popped”, 10-15 minutes.
  3. Stir in vinegar.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate up to 3 days. (Personally, I find it lasts much longer than 3 days in the fridge, given the high sugar and acidity.)

Coconut Chicken (or Tofu) & Rice

Posted: December 7th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Dairy-free, Poultry, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Coconut Chicken & Rice

Tonight was one of those nights. I got home from work and asked Ed, “Have you thought about dinner yet?” “I would like to eat it.” “Yeah, me too.” Both of us were feeling pretty apathetic about the whole thing and neither of us had a clue what we wanted to eat. Being accustomed to eating out all the time, we have these nights pretty regularly now that we’re trying to cook at home more often.

I decided I would make something with chicken and rice, since we had both readily available. But what kind of chicken and rice? “Chicken and rice” sounds so utterly boring. I searched the internet and came up with a million recipes involving cream of mushroom soup. No thanks. Even if that was something I stocked my pantry with — and it’s not — Ed would never in a million years be able to eat it. Finally, I happened across this recipe — a breath of fresh air! I decided to spice it up a bit, leaving out the things I didn’t have (pimiento, saffron, green peppers) and adding a bunch of things I did (coconut milk, raisins, red peppers, and a bunch of spices). The result was hearty and delicious — salty, sweet, and subtly spicy: an updated version of the classic cream of mushroom soup recipes. Perfect fare for those freezing nights when all you want to do is eat some comfort food and curl up with a good book.

This dish is also dairy and gluten free, and can easily be made vegan by substituting cubes of tofu for the chicken. And did I mention it was incredibly easy to make? Just leave a bit of time for it to bake; it needs to be in the oven about an hour and a half.

Coconut Chicken & Rice

Yield: 4 large servings, plus extra rice
Time to cook: 1 1/2 hours, plus a few minutes of prep


4 1/2-lb pieces of chicken (I used 2 bone-in thighs and two boneless skinless breasts) (replace with 1 pound of firm tofu, cut into 1cm cubes for vegan)
2 cups short grain brown rice
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 small cloves garlic, smashed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 oz frozen green peas (half of a 16-oz. package)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cup raisins (I used thompson flame raisins)
1 13.5oz can of coconut milk
1 1/4 cups water (stock would be tasty too, I bet)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat a cast-iron dutch oven (or similar heavy, oven-safe pan) over med-high and add olive oil. Sautee pepper and onion until onions are starting to get translucent and soft.
  2. Turn off the heat and add all other ingredients except chicken (or tofu). Stir well, till everything is mixed. The veggies will float but that’s okay.
  3. If using chicken, dunk chicken pieces into the mixture till submerged, then bring them back out and rest them on top of it (chicken will be submerged about halfway). Sprinkle a little more kosher salt over the tops of the chicken pieces. If using tofu, just mix the cubes of tofu in with the rest of the ingredients. Cover the pot and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove cover and cook for 5 more minutes. That’s it!

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