Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Quiet Christmas Eve 2013...

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas yesterday! I had hoped to post in the days leading up to the holiday but just found myself too busy. In the end some of our plans fell apart, and so our celebration was a little more low-key then usual, but on the other hand that came as a little bit of a relief. I’m always so wiped out at the holidays - overly stressed, super busy. - but this year I planned ahead. I did all of my baking ahead of time, and cooked half of my Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve Day, which freed me up a lot on Christmas Day so I could just kick back, relax, and enjoy the company.

Of course, just because our celebration was ‘low-key’ doesn’t mean we didn’t gorge ourselves on amazing food, because I am apparently incapable of just keeping things simple. I don’t know what happens, every year I say I’m not going to do it, and every year I go crazy and make a ton of desserts and appetizers and lavish meals. There’s always a ton leftover, we’re always stuffed to the point of bursting - we’re happy of course, but every year I say ‘never again’ and every year right around holiday time my brain and body are taken over by some kind of monster Martha Stewart and I just keep cooking, and baking until I want to collapse.

This year I’d planned to bake 4 dozen cupcakes, and 7 different kinds of cookies, as well as three appetizers for the party we were suppose to go to on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately the party didn’t happen, it was cancelled last minute which saved me from making the 4 dozen cupcakes, but I’d already made 2 of the dips and all of the cookies. Oh well, more for us right? Of course our Christmas Eve party was small, my in-laws and a couple of family friends, and there was no way we could eat all of those cookies - but enough about that, you want pictures right?

Gingerbread Men and Women 

Well, I don’t know what possessed me, some sort of festive Christmas spirit I suppose, but I decided I wanted to make gingerbread men! My husband and I were in the grocery store a few weeks ago and I saw some gingerbread men cookie cutters and felt compelled to buy them. Typically I’m not a roll and cut cookie person. I’m a ‘drop a dollop on a pan’ kind of cookie maker. I have never made gingerbread men before, and the last time I made cut-out cookies was probably as a kid with my mother. But I just had to do it! I used Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s recipe from “Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar.” These cookies were super delicious, great flavor, and a great texture. Not too soft, and not crispy, but they were a pain in the ass. Even though I floured my work surface and chilled the dough the dough kept sticking. Some of my cookies came out goofy looking but hey, they all tasted great. I just used some generic vegan icing from the grocery store to put their faces on, because you know, they had to have faces.

Mojito Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Next up I made a batch of Mojito Chocolate Chip Cookies from Chloe Coscarelli’s book “Chloe’s Vegan Desserts” These were really easy to whip together and tasted great. I liked the Sugar lime sprinkle on top and the hint of rum, but personally I think they would have been better with mint extract vs peppermint extract. Peppermint extract makes this taste more like a candy cane. Peppermint is not usually used in Mojito’s, just regular mint. I might also make these again not only with the mint instead of peppermint, but without the chocolate. So that it really tastes like a mojito.

Fiesta Margarita Cookies 

Next I made the Fiesta Margarita Cookies from Kelly Peloza’s book “The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur” These were good but as my husband pointed out they tasted a little more like Lemon Meringue pie then they did a Margarita. I liked the addition of slat sprinkled on top, and instead of just using regular sugar I used some left over sugar/lime mix from the mojito cookies.

Key Lime Shortbread Cookies 

Then for some crazy reason I felt like making some shortbread, but of course regular shortbread just wasn’t going to cut it so I used Isa and Terry’s recipe for Key Lime Shortbread from “Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar” and it tasted really great. Like a key lime pie. These were actually much simpler to make then I thought. They cut beautifully, and rolled fairly easily - although as you can see by my uneven ovals I’m no expert roller. I dusted their edges with a mixture of organic raw sugar, and green decorating sugar.

Candy Cane Cookies 

Anyone who knows me knows that Peppermint and Chocolate together is a combination that makes me weak in the knees. I don’t know why, but this is definitely one of my favorite combo’s ever. I got crazy for it, and it doesn’t matter if I’m avoiding sugar, or how healthy I’m being or If I’m cleansing. If someone waves a peppermint chocolate bar in my face, or a peppermint mocha I’m barely capable of resisting. It’s like my cryptonite. So of course when I saw the recipe for Candy Cane Cookies in Kelly Peloza’s book “The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur” I just had to make them! I’ll be honest and say they were a bit of a pain in the ass to make, but delicious.  It’s recommended that the cookies be baked on parchment paper because the candy canes melt in the oven and then burn onto the cookie pans, making it impossible to scrape off. I took this suggestion and the candy canes melted onto the parchment paper and were - in my opinion - just as difficult to scrape off. I lost a few soldiers but all in all I got 29 cookies out of the recipe and they tasted great. A big hit.

Eggnog Cookies 

Also because I couldn’t resist the idea of a vegan eggnog cookie I decided to make Kelly Peloza’s Eggnog Cookies from “The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur” too. I mean, it doesn’t really get more festive then that right? These were super easy to make, and they tasted great. My only complaint is that they didn’t taste quite like eggnog. My husband said they tasted more like a sugar cookie with some nutmeg in them, and I’d have to agree. Perhaps in the future I’d make these with more nutmeg and more eggnog. I tried to make the eggnog glaze really potent but it only did so much. As I said delicious, but not quite noggy enough for me.

Irish Creme Kisses 

Lastly I made Isa and Terry’s Irish Creme Kisses from “Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar” these were really great, I mean who doesn’t love whiskey and chocolate in a cookie? Kind of perfect right? They were so moist and chewy, and the chocolate topping just gave it an extra chocolate kick. Very tasty.

Of course we ate more then just sweets on Christmas Eve. We also snacked on some hummus that I made with some cubed up pieces of pumpernickel bread, and we ordered a veggie pizza as a last minute dinner idea since I hadn’t made an actual meal.

The pizza was just from a local non-vegan place that my husband’s family likes, but we were able to get a tasty cheeseless pizza, thin crust, extra sauce, red pepper, onion, mushrooms and broccoli.  Since my husband loves pizza so much he didn’t mind in the slightest that we weren’t eating a more festive dinner. All in all it was a nice albeit quiet evening with lots of good grub, and we finished the night by watching one of my favorite films of all time “It’s A Wonderful Life.” and then that old claymation “Rudolph” from the 60's. Total classic. Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about Christmas Day.

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