Monday, December 28, 2009

Still high on the holidays

Our Christmas, I'm actually glad to say, was very quiet.
Usually I spend the Christmas eve and the later part of
Christmas Day running around and trying to visit with as
many people possible. But this year I got to have a very
peaceful day with my Boyfriend.

We spent our time dozing, eating Christmas goodies,
cooking, and opening presents. All of my favorite things.

This is our wee little Christmas Tree.

I love our funny little tree topper. Neither of us are in
to angels or stars, so we improvised a little.
We're both just starting out pretty much in LA again,
so neither of us have much stuff built up.
(except for all the random things my aunt and grandma keep
sending me, but that's for a whole other story)

Me in front of our wee tree.

I made breakfast before we opened presents.
Or started it rather. We opened while it baked.
I made my traditional Christmas dish, Cranberry-Orange Sweet Buns!

Then we opened presents, lots of vegan goodies!
I got some awesome gadgets!

I also got a bunch of little do dads from my folks and some
great intellectual reads! Can't wait!

So we watched Elf, my favorite Christmas movie, while eating
some sweet buns. Then I passed out because it was just too
much excitement for me.

Later on we went around Hastings Ranch and looked at Christmas
lights. Each block has a different theme, my favorite block
was the peace dove themed. The design was very pretty and well
thought out. On our way back we drove up Christmas Tree Lane
in Pasadena.

After that we came home for dinner of Borscht and quesadillas,
yes a weird combo but very good all the same.

Overall it was a very lovely Christmas. Our Christmas Eve
was pretty fun, lots of visiting and driving. We were up
in the Mountains for a night with my Grandparents. I have
photos from there, but sadly I left my camera there, so right
now I'm just bumming off my boyfriend. Hopefully I will get
it back soon and get back to more consistent blogging.
Until then, I hope you all had an excellent Christmas and
have a safe and Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2 Days Til Christmas: Dandies roasting on an open fire

So we took a hop, skip and a jump up to the mountains to
visit with my Grandparents. Aside from making a vegan
'turkey' holiday casserole, sewing a stocking for my
sweetie, and sneaking truffles... we did what I haven't
for years, or at least since the last time I spent a fortune
on shipping to Hawaii. Yes, thats right. We toasted marshmallows.

Since shipping is not nearly what it was living in Hawaii,
I sent off for a couple bags of Dandies Vegan Marshmallows
from Pangea (awesome site by the by). My package came
with in only a couple days. Its a different brand than
what they used to carry, but they are so good.
I hate that expression "it tastes just like the real thing!"
Because really people, it is the real thing. Only Better.

We toasted them plain, stuck them on sugar cookies, stuck
chocolate chips inside of them and dropped them in our
hot chocolate! Great little treat for snuggling on the
night before Christmas Eve.

Tomorrow? I'm getting up early to make black bean and
sweet potato enchiladas to take to my Aunt's House.
Then back home to have a romantic Christmas with my Monkey
Man, our wee tree, and our own fire place.

Merry Two Days Before Christmas!
Sorry the picture quality couldn't be better, its weird lighting
and I was a bit distracted by the yumminess that was taking place.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Three Days until Christmas: tremendous amounts of Truffles

I Completely admit that I probably went way overboard
with the truffles. I made a lot. Then with all the
sugar plums? Lets just say we have enough Christmas treats
to go around. I showed you guys the peppermint truffles.
I did a few other version that I thought you may enjoy!

Although there is seriously no way you could not enjoy these
unless of course you are allergic to chocolate and then I
am very very sorry for you. These vegan truffles are smooth,
soft and melt perfectly in your mouth (and probably anywhere
else warm you leave them for long).

I talked about starting from chocolate chips...
And the soymilk

The Ganache which is just chocolate and 'cream', whipped.

Now, before I added finely chopped dried cranberries,
but this time I also added one orange's worth the zest
and 1 tsp of vanilla extract.

If you have a hankering for one of those chocolate
oranges that you smack on the table to open, this is your
cure. But I'm not too sure about how hard you wanna smack
these truffles on the table.

The other variations I made had about 1/2 cup of finely
chopped walnuts and gingerbread filled.
The gingerbread ones are probably the best because the
gingerbread is so soft and hold the overwhelming richness
of the chocolate back just enough. I dusted them in dutch
cocoa powder or plain vegan powdered sugar.

So altogether I made about 6 batches of truffles, the peppermint,
the cranberry-orange truffles, the gingerbread filled truffles, the
walnut truffles and variations of all those in between!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Twas 4 Days til Christmas: Vegan Sugarplums

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

I wrapped lots of presents to send, burned an entire
batch of grapefruit marmalade, and ate way too many
cookies that I was supposed to be frosting. Hee!

There is only a few days left til Christmas and why
not get in on some traditional recipes? I really want to
make some figgy pudding. I made an excellent pudding
last year... (or was it the year before).

I’ll be making a tofurky casserole which my papa and I make
for Thanksgiving, but I didn’t this year because we were all
over the place and didn’t have a full sit down Thanksgiving.
With harvest roasted veggies, that will be our Christmas Dinner.

More than a Christmas Dinner though, we’d have a Christmas
brunch. We would have eggs and potatoes, pancakes, (veggie)
ham, and I would make my grandpa’s special orange sweet rolls.
That! is something I really remember at Christmas. We could
have our stockings before breakfast and open the rest after.
My Grandpa would make these sickeningly sweet orange sweet
buns, my parents would drink champagne with cranberries,
and my brother and I would have sparkling apple cider.

If you really want to awe your in-laws this year on Christmas,
forget the store bought cookies and pumpkin pie and pull out
your food processor. Leave them with visions of your kitchen
magic dancing in their heads. Forget the Starbucks giftcards,
who gives home baked goods anymore?

I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful it is to receive
something that really has that direct love and attention that
is so often lost. Every thing comes out of a box or from
a bakery at the supermarket, filled with artificial crap.
So people are shocked when someone does even basic
cooking. I love making something like this that is actually
pretty easy, but seems like you probably spend hours and hours
on it. Let them think you worked your butt off and bask in
the glory of these spicy, sweet little puff of Christmas Heaven.

From what I can gather, Sugarplums were named only for their
appearance, as they look like tiny little plums rolled in sugar.
Most call for orange liqueur, but instead I used fresh
orange zest for a more natural approach. This is also a
good substitute gift to cookies when your friends (etc) may
have wheat or gluten allergies. Not so good if they have nut
allergies, but hey.

Vegan Sugarplums

Sugarplum Faerie Dust
1/3 cup vegan powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice

1 cup almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1 cup dates
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dried figs
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried cherries
1 tbsp fresh orange zest

Toast the almonds in the oven at 350F for about
ten minutes.

While almonds are toasting, sift together
the faerie dust onto a dish or pan that will be easy to
roll the plums in.

With a food processor chop the nuts first and set aside.
Next process the dried fruit from largest to smallest.
This will keep the fruit at a pretty uniform size. 

Continue to process them until it all starts to clump together,
then add the nuts and zest.

As you can see from my photos, I don’t have a processor.
So, as the sadist I am, I did this all by hand. It took me
a crazy long time, so if you don’t have a processor or alot
of spare time, I strongly suggest you go ask a neighbor to
borrow one! I just put Home Alone on and resigned myself
to chop for about half the movie.

Once you have this all mixed together, with clean hands,
shape into small balls (a little smaller than 1" in diameter).
The sticker your hands get the harder it is to shape them,
so you’ll have to wash up a couple times. The key to
keeping them together is being gentle while your rolling them
out and shaping them.

Finally toss in your spiced faerie dust!

This make about 24-30 Sugarplums depending on size.
Store chilled in airtight containers, layered with wax

Using raw date sugar and raw almonds, this recipe
could easily be made completely raw if you like!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Frost those cookies: Six Days til Christmas

I'm only posting something small tonight because I'm beat.
I've been cooking sweets since about 2 this afternoon.
Its all mainly truffles, but some cookies-
Also the orange gingerbread...

The only thing I can compare this perfect setting glaze to
is those oatmeal mother's cookies with the glazing on top.
I love the smoothness of a glazed cookie, especially when
they are still fresh and soft.

Another reason I like glazes, although I do love full on
decorating my Christmas cookies, is that a glaze doesn't
usually involve any added fat. Whereas, frosting is mainly
'butter' or oil of some kind.

I used up the rest of my gingerbread cookie dough that I
stuck in the freezer and made sure to roll it out thicker.
I no longer own cookie cutters, so I used a small drinking
glass instead.
The glaze is so simple and the gingerbread is so good,
that really I didn't know what to do with myself besides
make a cup of tea!

Ice Pond Glaze

1 cup vegan powdered sugar or confectioners sugar
3-4 tablespoons soymilk
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

mix all together until sugar is dissolved.
Dip cookies face down into glaze and pull straight up,
allowing excess to drip off. Allow to dry for a least
one hour.

You can add food colouring if you like to make it a little
more festive. Or you can use this for a cake glaze as well
as it firms up perfectly without being crunchy.

So I sit, waiting with my tea and cookies for the monkey man
to get back so we can decorate our wee Christmas tree!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gingerbread in my head: 8 Days til Christmas

I'm sorry, but it is simply not Christmas to me without gingerbread.
Doesn't matter if its cookies or actual ginger bread-bread, I need that
smell in the air and the taste in my tummy. Gingerbread is one
of those things that if made right, I feel like I could live off of.

This was my test batch that I made to get back in the groove.
I'm going to do the frosted and decorated ones this weekend and
the days to follow. Hopefully they will get to their intended recipients
uneaten... I can just imagine my friends opening their little boxes
of goodies-
"Hey, Why is this gingerbread man headless?"

Vegan Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cookies

3/4 cup black strap molasses
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons earthbalance
2 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp allspice
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix the molasses, sugar, water, and earthbalance
together in a large bowl. Blend everything up so your
earthbalance kind of just floats there in your liquids...

Mix in the remaining ingredients. Form the dough into
separate balls, cover and refrigerate at least two hours.

When dough has been chilled enough, remove one chunk
at a time and roll out into 1/4 inch thickness.
Cut out into desired shapes...
Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Snuffling for Christmas Truffles: 9 Days til Christmas

My solution this year to getting presents for friends and family
that I'm generally unsure about, is cooking. I'm tired of getting
things that people don't really give a waddle about and spending
way too much money. So I'm bouncing back from being way way
sick and kicking the kitchen witchery into overdrive.

I bought cute little gift/boxes at the craft store to fill with different
goodies. I'm starting with truffles, then I'm gonna go on to jams,
cookies and candy. Seems at first like I'm spending a bundle on
supplies, but when you spread out the cost its a real break

So, with my first batch of truffles I hit Christmas on the mark.
You get cranberries, chocolate and of course peppermint.
I always seem to get stuck with a load of uneaten candy canes,
so this is a great way to use them up!

We were trying to think of a good names
for these little treats and the best thing
we could come up with were frosty balls...
or Frosty's Balls...

I will be posting some different variations
of these as Christmas nears and our cooking
hits high on the burner, so keep your mouse
poised and your eyes peeled!

Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Truffles
"Frosty's Balls"

12 oz vegan chocolate chips
be sure to get a decent brand as the quality
of the chocolate will reflect directly in the
quality of your truffles
2/3 cup nondairy milk, preferably vanilla soy
1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 tsp flavoured extract (opt)
about 12 candy canes, pulverized

Over low-medium heat combine nondairy milk and chocolate
chips. Melt while stirring constantly to avoid burning. This
can be done in a double boiler to be safe, but its not entirely
necessary. Once chocolate is completely melted, add cranberries
and extract if using.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 1/2 hours. Remove and scoop
out by rounded tsp-tablespoons. Trying to keep your hands clean
of too much chocolate, roll in powdered candy canes.

Try to keep chilled until serving or gifting!