Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Breakfast For Dinner: My Husband's Birthday Celebration 2014...

My Plate

December 30th is my husband’s birthday, and it’s a particularly terrible time to have a birthday if you ask me. With Christmas just barely over, and New Years right around the corner most people are full, tired and ready for the holidays to be over - myself included - the last thing anyone wants to do is go to another party, eat another massive amount of food, and have to shell out more money for more gifts. December is an especially bad time to have a birthday if you live in Chicago, because it’s so damn cold you can’t even have the consolation of being able to go out and do anything nice. Forget outdoor activities in -20 degree weather. So, with this in mind I always try to give my husband the most special birthday I can think of. We’re not big on gifts since we normally by whatever we want whenever we want but I try to pick him up a few surprises that he might not purchase himself. I offer to make him anything he wants for his birthday dinner, and since it’s his day we can do whatever he wants. This year it was simple, we saw some movies, had dinner, went bowling. Bowling is always something that happens on his birthday, because it’s something he enjoys but I do not, except since it’s his birthday it’s the one day of the year I voluntarily and un-grumpily go along.

Last year for his special birthday dinner he wanted sushi. This year, he wanted Breakfast for dinner. Breakfast is probably his favorite meal, and he loves breakfast foods but since I am so rarely in the mood to eat in the morning I don’t normally make breakfast. At first I was disappointed that he wanted breakfast. I was hoping for more of a challenge, I was hoping for something decadent, but it’s his birthday after all and after taking some time to think about it I realized what a relief it would be to make a simple meal after having made so much decadent food already.

So breakfast is what I made, specifically he requested Banana Stuffed French Toast and some kind of Tofu Scramble. He also said he wanted Sweet Earth Bacon and Field Roast Breakfast Sausages, but wasn’t more specific then that. I like to have a little freedom to play around with and so that was a good enough guideline for me.

Field Roast Breakfast Links
Sweet Earth Hickory Sage Smoked Bacon 

I decided upon the Stuffed Banana Berry French Toast from Lauren Ulm’s book “Vegan Yum Yum” I’ve made this before - and posted about it - and we’d both loved it so it seemed the right choice. The only trouble was that the french bread I’d bought was a few days too old and so it was hard as a bloody brick. Needless to say that after much effort I could not cut the bread properly to ‘stuff’ it and so I simply used it to make regular french toast and topped it with the berries and bananas. Still good. I should have known better and picked up a new bread but oh well. My husband offered no complaints as he scarfed down 4 pieces!

Stuffed Banana Berry French Toast 

Since I had never made Lauren Ulm’s Tofu Scramble before and my husband didn’t give me a specific scramble that he wanted I decided to make the Tofu Scramble with Seitan Sausage also from “Vegan Yum Yum” This is a simply seasoned scramble packed with protein. Not only does it have tofu, and seitan but black beans too! Plus broccoli, shredded carrot, wine vinegar, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, turmeric, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds. I really liked the idea of these seasonings and though it’s not how I normally make tofu scramble I have to say this was absolutely delicious!

Tofu Scramble with Seitan Sausage 

Then I decided that breakfast just couldn’t be breakfast without some kind of fried potato and so I dug out my copy of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s book “Vegan Brunch” and decided on her Peruvian Home Fries. It seemed a fitting choice considering we were just in Peru in September. This potato hash uses Peruvian Purple Potatoes, Coriander Seeds, Red Pepper Flakes, Red Bell Pepper, Red Onion, salt, cilantro and oil. I loved the flavor combination on these potatoes, the coriander seeds tasted great and I liked the little pop you got when you bit into one. Though red pepper flakes are used in this dish these potatoes are not spicy, as most Peruvian food isn’t spicy. There is just enough red pepper to give them some flavor without lending much heat. I could have gobbled up the entire skillet if I wasn’t already so full.

Peruvian Home Fries 

Then there was the plate of Sweet Earth Hickory and Sage Smoked Bacon and The Field Roast Breakfast Links. Both of which cook up nice and easy and taste great, especially when dipped into some ketchup and maple syrup. All in all I’d have to say this was a damn successful breakfast dinner, unfortunately by the time we were done eating we were both too full for the cake I’d made. So instead we’re having the cake tonight as the coup de grace to our New Years/Birthday Pizza Party. Until tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Our Mini Boxing Day Feast 2014...

My Plate

After the gluttony of Christmas Eve and Christmas my husband and I are normally too full and tired to do anything for Boxing Day. Which is okay with me. This year however I went a little overboard with plans for delicious Christmas Day appetizers. I overestimated my ability and underestimated my time. In the end I wasn’t able to make all of the things I’d initially wanted to, but some of them were already half prepared and sitting in the fridge. So not wanting to let anything go to waste we decided to have a mini mid-day feast on Boxing Day this year.

One of the things I was most excited about were the BBQ Chip Crusted Tofu Bites from Lane Gold’s book “Vegan Junk Food” I’ve been wanting to make these for a while and it just seemed like the perfect omni-friendly finger food. Too bad the omnivores didn’t get any, since it was only my husband and I on Boxing Day. These were actually very simple to prepare. All you do is cube tofu, dredge it in cornstarch, make a batter with flour and water then dip them, then roll them in crushed up BBQ chips. Then you fry them in a deep skillet. To some it might sound strange, to some it might sound gross but trust me, these were incredible! My husband and I couldn’t stop eating them. Since the tofu is first frozen, then thawed, then fried I thought the resulting texture was very ‘chicken’ like, in fact these reminded me a lot of chicken in flavor as well. Since the bites are fried they didn’t have an overly BBQ chip taste, it was more of a subtle sweet, tangy spice which was perfect. We served these with the Creamy Vegan Ranch also from “Vegan Junk Food” which I’d mentioned us having on Christmas Day with the hot wings.

BBQ Chip Crusted Tofu Bites

Next I made a recipe that I’ve been dying to make ever since I first got the Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg’s book “Spork-Fed” It’s the Pear, Fig and Sage Tarts with Roasted Garlic Aioli. These have always appealed to me, and for every party I consider making them but my natural aversion to working with pastry dough and puff pastry always makes me second guess myself. Not this year though, this year I was determined to try all those things I normally put off trying do to my perception of their difficulty. Surprisingly this was actually a very quick and easy recipe to make. It came together fast, and though there are only a few ingredients these little puff pastry bites tasted amazing. So full of flavor! I was so happy that I finally got around to making them. The sweet pears combined with the earthy figs and the tart and tangy aioli provided a truly wonderful flavor combination.

Pear, Fig and Sage Tarts with Roasted Garlic Aioli

Next I made the Coconut and Lime Sietan Skewers also from “Spork-Fed” I’ve been wanting to make these for quite a while too and just never get around to it. I so rarely have occasion to make appetizers for just my husband and I that I normally skip over the appetizer section in most cook books. This too was a super simple recipe to put together. Though it requires the advanced prep of making seitan - unless you use store-bought. I decided to do home made seitan and made a batch of Thai inspired seitan sausages a few days earlier. Since I cooked the sausages by steaming rather then boiling I thought sausage shapes would be easier to steam, and easy to skewer. Otherwise I may have just done chunks which would have looked more authentic. Of course taste is the most important thing and these tasted pretty damn good. They weren’t my favorite but they were good and my husband loved them. My favorite thing about them was the super simple coconut milk, and lime marinade, and the fact that once the skewers are cooked you roll them in coconut flakes. Who doesn’t love coconut in a savory concoction? I think they would have been even more delicious with a side of peanut dipping sauce.

Coconut and Lime Sietan Skewers

Lastly I decided to make the Seitan Baby Back Ribs from Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman’s book “The Complete Guide To Vegan Food Substitutions.” This is another recipe that I’ve been wanting to try for years but have always found it intimidating. Much to my surprise the recipe is actually rather effortless. You make a seitan dough flatten it out into a pan coated in BBQ sauce, drench the top with more BBQ sauce and then bake. Simple enough. Once the seitan has baked you can then eat it as is, or grill or broil it to make It seem more ‘authentic.’ Since I prepared the baked ribs several days in advance I decided to pop them in the broiler for a few minutes on Boxing Day. I decided against using the optional fake bones just for convenience. Unfortunately I should have paid a little closer attention to the ribs when they were in the broiler. I left them in a touch too long and they got a little crispy on the outside. No matter though, we just cut the crispy part off, slathered some more BBQ on top and went to town.

 Seitan Baby Back Ribs

When I was an omnivore I never much cared for pork products, but I always loved ribs. Even though I haven’t had ribs in years and don’t miss them in the slightest I have to say these seitan ribs were delicious! The texture is very close to what I remember pork ribs being like, and the flavor was fantastic. My husband and I were so full that we could only manage two thin slices each, but the leftovers made great sandwiches the next day!

So that was our mini-feast, and after we were fully stuffed we washed it all down with a couple of beers, watched an episode of “Hannibal” and took a nice long food-coma inspired nap together. Hope you all had as relaxing a Boxing Day as we did.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014...

My Amazing Cook Book Haul from this year!

Christmas this year started out the way that Christmas usually does in my house. I got up early - although not as early as I normally do, this year I slept till 7am - and started cooking. By 9:30am or so It was present time! I got some lovely stuff, a toque and money from my mother, a TON of awesome Vegan cook books from my Parents-In-Law and Brother-In-Law, and some delicious tea, a really great loose-leaf tea thermos, and some cool DVD’s from my husband - but the gift that really made Christmas was my husband - despite us setting a $60 limit - bought me a 5 Quart Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer! Man I have wanted one of these things for years and years and I always put off buying one because I say “It’s too expensive.” It’s always next time, next time, next time and then I can never bring myself to actually spend the money because I figure at this point my whisking arm is so strong why bother. Still, every time I pass by one in the store, I think “Some day kitchen aid, some day” and This Christmas was that day! I can’t wait to use it on something!

I have the best husband in the world!!!!

Now, enough about gifts, what you really came here for was the food right? Well, as I said we did our Christmas Dinner on Christmas Eve this year, and so on Christmas Day we were just planning on munching finger foods and dessert. Our breakfast was light, Stollen as is tradition in my house. I believe I mentioned last year that my Oma is normally the one that bakes stollen in my family and she gives one to all her kids and grandchildren. However since she past away last year at Canadian Thanksgiving there was noone to make Stollen anymore, and so I took it upon myself last year to make some. I used the same base recipe this year and made my substitutions and while I think it turned out well, it somehow wasn’t as good as last year. I think I was too cocky this year. Last year I hovered and I was fussy about it because I wanted them to turn out perfect. This year I was preoccupied and busy and I paid less attention and so the bottoms got a little over-cooked. Not burnt but just more brown then they should have. Overall they still tasted great, but I learned a valuable lesson about patience and baking!  I made two stollen again, one with almonds for me, and one without for my husband. I actually also made 3 gluten-free stollen. One for myself, one for my gluten-free friend D and one for my friend NB. At first I thought the gluten-free version wouldn’t be able to hold water to the original, but it surprisingly turned out pretty good, more dense then a traditionally stollen but just as tasty! So that was a nice surmise I only wish I’d remembered to take a picture of them. Sorry!

Almond Stollen

Almond-Free Stollen

So, with breakfast done, and peasants done, and the cleanup taken care of I went back to working on the finger food, which inevitably took longer then initially expected. I did however have enough down time before guests arrived to shower, change, and take a few peaceful breaths. Then the family was over and after a bit of mingling it was time to eat!

Stollen - Sliced and Buttered

I was quite excited to try out this Korean BBQ Satay from Joni Marie Newman’s book “Fusion Food In The Vegan Kitchen” It’s a simple broiled tofu recipe, but what makes it special is it’s marinated and slathered in Korean BBQ. The sauce is made with roasted red peppers, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, green onions, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar. At first the combination seemed strange but it was amazingly delicious. Not a single one of these slices was left over.

Korean BBQ Satay

I couldn’t resist making the Caramelized Onion and Apple Tart which is one of the few savory options from Hannah Kaminsky’s book “Easy as Vegan Pie”- I’ve been wanting to make this for forever and so I’m glad I finally got around to it. It’s very simple, you caramelize red onions, add sliced apple, thyme, white wine, and balsamic vinegar then spread it onto some puff pastry and bake. The recipe also calls for chopped walnuts but I left those off since my husband doesn’t like them. This tart also went over like gangbusters and almost none of it was left.

Caramelized Onion and Apple Tart

I also made the Spicy Seitan Buffalo Wings from Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg’s book “Spork-Fed” this is another one of those recipes that I’ve been wanting to make for forever, but I so rarely have cause to make buffalo wings, and whenever I’m actually in the mood for such a thing I typically get it at a favorite vegan restaurant in the city. The seitan I made in advance using my standard go-to chicken style seitan recipe. I tried to shape the pieces into ‘wings’ but they came out looking more like cocktail sausages. Oh well! These were delicious. I liked the Spork-fed girls buffalo sauce which was hot but not too hot, and this was a pretty simple preparation. These also went over super well and I served them with the Creamy Vegan Ranch from Lane Gold’s wonderful little book “Vegan Junk Food” Seriously this was probably the best vegan Ranch dressing I’ve ever had - homemade or otherwise. Actually it just might be the best Ranch ever. It is so rich, so creamy, so decadent and so delicious. Everyone agreed!

Spicy Seitan Buffalo Wings

Creamy Vegan Ranch

Next up I made a platter of delicious crostini. On the left is the Butternut Bruschetta with Caramelized Onions and on the right is the Smashed Avocado and Roasted Beet Crostini both from Chloe Coscarelli’s book “Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen.” Both of these appetizers were delicious and both went over very well. The beet Crostini even won over a few avid beet haters and people who were previously indifferent to beets! Both recipes were also super simple but packed loads of awesome flavor, it’s hard for me to decide which one I liked better but I’ll say it never would have occurred to me to use squash on crostini or to pair avocado and beets together in this way. I really love all of Chloe’s books for their simplicity, originality, and deliciousness, she never disappoints me or my guests!

Butternut Bruschetta with Caramelized Onions
Smashed Avocado and Roasted Beet Crostini

Since a holiday can’t be a holiday without a ‘cheeseball’ of sorts I decided to make the Walnut and Current Veganzola Ball from Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman’s book “500 Vegan Recipes.” I’ve actually wanted to make this for sometime as well but never find reason to. Recently though I saw Joni post about it on her blog and I thought “Yes, this year I’m making it!” it’s a fairly simple recipe using tofu, olive oil, flaxseed, miso, garlic, liquid smoke, walnuts, currents and salt and pepper. I expected this ball to be a little sharper in taste, like a Gorgonzola as the name kind of implies, but it was a very mild tasting ‘cheese.’ In fact I added a touch of lemon juice and a pinch more salt and miso to give it a bit more ‘umami.’ but it was still rather mild. Good, but not what I was expecting. I also didn’t have enough currents, I only had about 1/4 C when the recipe called for ½ C so I subbed in raisins but rather then go with regular old black raisins I used golden and I think this actually worked really well. Even my husband who normally doesn’t like cheese of any kind - vegan or dairy - dug into this ball with enthusiasm. In the book they suggest crumbling leftover cheeseball over salad, and I actually think that’ll taste really good, so I plan to use what I have left over on a kale salad tonight!

Walnut and Current Veganzola Ball

The cheesy trend continues as I decided to make a few dishes from John Schlimm’s book “The Cheesy Vegan” I’ve been eying the Blue Moon Dip for some time now and thought this was the perfect opportunity to make it. This is suppose to be a blue cheese dip of sorts and I think it tastes very much like blue cheese. It’s super simple to make, just crumble some tofu into a bowl of vegan mayo, add lime juice, tahini, garlic, onion powder, and apple cider vinegar. So amazing on crackers or bread and it went so well with the Flying Buffalo Dip - also from The Cheesy Vegan. I just couldn’t resist making the buffalo dip even though I already had buffalo wings on the table. It just looked too good and it seemed to me that the blue moon dip and the buffalo dip were a team of sorts. Can’t have one without the other. This was also a really simple dip to make tofu, vegan cheddar, vegan mayo, lemon juice, cider vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper and hot sauce all mixed into a bowl together for yummy, decadent perfection!

Blue Moon Dip

Flying Buffalo Dip

Lastly from I decided to also try Schlimm’s The Sailor’s Spinach Dip. This was also a really easy dip. Cashews are used as the base and they’re soaked in wine and vegetable stock after being toasted. Once that’s done you combine them with frozen, thawed spinach, garlic, onion, lime juice, pepper, and cider vinegar. This dip was a bit more tangy then I normally like my spinach dip and so I added a bit of salt, a touch of miso, and a dollop of vegan mayo to kind of even it out a bit, and it ended up tasting amazing. This recipe made a lot though, and I’m not sure that the omnivores at the party liked it quite as much as their gross store-bought non-vegan spinach dip, but what do omnivores know anyway?

The Sailor’s Spinach Dip

Somehow in the whirlwind leading up to Christmas I decided that one cheeseball simply wasn’t enough and so I decided to make the Sage and Gouda Cheeseball from Namely Marly. Despite the fact that I follow a lot of vegan blogs I rarely if ever have the time to make anything from them, but this just looked too good to pass up. Unfortunately I couldn’t find Daiya’s Smoked Gouda Block anywhere and so I subbed in their Jalapeno Havarti and added some Liquid Smoke instead. That was the only substitution I made here and I think the end result was delicious. Of course my ball isn’t as pretty or well formed as Marly’s but oh well. People dug into this with gusto, and even my husband enjoyed it, which was a shock to me as it contained pistachios and pumpkin seeds both of which he doesn’t like. I also already mentioned he doesn’t like cheese, and this ball unlike the Steen and Newman’s ball was very pungent and strong, Much more cheese-like, but my husband at it up like it was going out of style. His tastes are changing all the time and it constantly amazes me!

Sage and Gouda Cheeseball 

So that’s it for the finger foods portion of this post. We ate a ton, and truth be told I had actually originally intended to make much more. In fact I bought all the ingredients I needed to make about 15 different dishes but it became clear as I was cooking on Christmas Day that I just didn’t have the time, nor did I have the space to store all of them and so I ended up nixing some of the dishes from my list. Of course, since some of them were already half prepared - such as pre-made seitan that was marinating etc.. - and since I had the ingredients on hand anyway my husband and I decided to have a mini Boxing Day Feast. - Boxing Day is the day after Christmas for you Americans by the way.

But, of course no celebratory meal is complete without dessert. This year since I went so crazy with baking cookies I didn’t go to wild with desserts. I only made two pies, both of which came from Hannah Kaminsky’s book “Easy as Vegan Pie” the first pie I decided to make was the Strawberry Cereal Streusel Pie which was phenomenal. It’s your basic strawberry pie filling but instead of a regular flour crust the crust is made with four, walnuts, cornflakes, sugar, cinnamon, and vegan butter. The crust was so good you could have eaten it with a spoon on its own, but paired with the pie filling it was a real treat. This went over pretty well, especially with my husband.

Strawberry Cereal Streusel Pie

Then because I like to do things that are a little out of the ordinary I decided to make the Chestnut Crunch Pie. I personally love chestnuts I think they’re insanely delicious and so I’ve had my eye on this pie for a while but was never sure about whether or not anyone else would like it. I like weird things, but not everyone feels the same. Somehow chestnuts really seemed to suit this Christmas and I thought ‘to hell with it’ I know another chestnut lover and so if the pie didn’t go over I could split the pie between me and my friend. Lucky for me the pie did go over well, in fact I think people liked it even more then the strawberry pie. At first everyone kind of looked on it as that strange ‘vegan’ thing but after one brave soul tried a bite and began raving non-stop, everyone had to try a bite. This was actually super simple. You make a chocolate cookie crust then a chestnut pudding, pour the pudding into the crust and top it with candied cacao nibs. Then you let it sit and it’s done. Easy, and so, so good. This just might be one of my new favorite deserts and I loved that it wasn’t overly sweet.

Chestnut Crunch Pie

So, that was our Christmas. By the end of the night I was so full I didn’t want to ever look at food again. We ended the night peacefully by watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” which is one of my favorite films and certainly my favorite “Christmas” film. Now, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear all about our Boxing Day Mini Feast.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Our Christmas Eve Dinner 2014...

My Overflowing Plate!

I sincerely hope that everyone had a Wonderful Christmas this year. I’ll be honest, I personally didn’t have much holiday spirit this year. I enjoyed the lights, and the atmosphere as I always do, but the truth is I’ve been busy, and stressed-out, and tired and I just found the whole idea of the holidays to be overwhelming. I did enjoy myself on the actual days in question, but the lead-up to Christmas Eve and Christmas day were exhausting. Of course that didn’t stop me from - against my better judgement - going all out food-wise yet again this year.

It started Christmas Eve. Normally I do desserts and appetizers and we lug it all over to my husband’s aunts house where we always enjoy the Eve. This year however I didn’t feel like making a bunch of food to transport, I find it daunting, and since I was tired and worked Christmas Eve morning and wasn’t in the spirit anyway I didn’t feel much up to going out to a party. Instead I decided to stay home, curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book and admire our Christmas tree. It was peaceful, and relaxing and exactly what I needed, but before my husband left for the party we enjoyed our Christmas Dinner.

I decided to make dinner on the Eve rather then the day simply because it was easier for me. We had a small dinner that came together relatively quickly, and for Christmas Day I decided to do appetizers and finger foods and dessert thinking that would be much simpler. It turned out not to be simpler at all, but I’ll save that for the Christmas post. As for our dinner it was lovely, and beautiful, and insanely delicious!

We started off with a simple yet elegant appetizer. The Fresh Ricotta with Lemon, Basil and Honey Bruschetta from Martha Stewart’s book “Meatless.” the book is not vegan, but this was a simple enough recipe to veganize, and it sounded so good that I couldn’t help but want to give it a try. I veganized it by making the Macadamia Ricotta from Miyoko Schinner’s book “Artisan Vegan Cheese” and swapping out regular honey for the super delicious Bee-Free Honey. Yes, vegan honey exists now!  This may seem like a strange combination to some people, but trust me when I say this was amazing! Even my husband loved it and he’s not a cheese guy. The Macadamia Ricotta was also very good, although had a nuttier flavor then the similar Almond Ricotta from the same book. I thought he wouldn’t like it for this reason, but really, a little cheese spread across the bread with a nice fresh basil leaf and a drizzle of honey, and no one flavor overpowers the other. They all work in perfect delicious harmony!

Fresh Ricotta with Lemon, Basil and Honey Bruschetta 

Most of the other recipes I made came from a Vegetarian Times magazine I picked up on a whim while I was out one day. Everything in the mag looked so fantastic that I decided to try a few things for the holiday rather then use one of my hundred cook books.

Again I kept things pretty simple by making this super-easy Spicy Spinach with Sunflower Seeds. This is a sauteed spinach dish with Jerk seasoning, and roasted sunflower seeds. It contains 5 ingredients but packs a whopping amount of flavor. Plus it looked super pretty!

Spicy Spinach with Sunflower Seeds

I also decided to make the Truffled Mashed Potatoes which sounded really appealing to me as I enjoy the flavor of truffles but never thought of combining it with mashed taters. Again this dish was super easy, only 4 ingredients but loads of flavor, my only criticism is that since the recipe doesn’t call for non-dairy milk or butter the potatoes are kind of dry and don’t mash completely smooth. It’s an easy fix though, I just adding in a dollop or two of Earth Balance, a sprinkle of salt and these were beyond perfect.

Truffled Mashed Potatoes

As another side dish I made Bianca Phillips Mama’s Vegan Cornbread Dressin' from her book “Cookin’ Crunk” I’ve been wanting to make this for years, every time I see Bianca post about it on her blog I think “I have to try this.” and I finally did! This is a really simple casserole, though it does take a bit of advanced planning as you need to make her cream of celery soup first. It’s totally wroth the effort though, and the bonus is that the celery soup makes about 7 cups and the recipe only calls for 2 so you get an extra meal, and the soup is really great stand-alone. My husband particularly raved about it. So aside from the crumbled cornbread and celery soup this recipe also contains onions, whole wheat bread, sage, salt and pepper, which might not seem that exciting but trust me, it is so flavorful you’ll be amazed! My husband and I simply couldn’t get enough of it, and decided that it was our second favorite dish of the evening!

Mama’s Vegan Cornbread Dressin

To round out our vegetable side dishes I also made the Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes with Walnuts from Stewart’s book “Meatless” this recipe was naturally vegan which was nice. I’ve roasted grapes before to put into a farro salad, but I’ve never thought to roast them with sprouts. This was a super simple recipe that used sprouts, grapes, walnuts, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and thyme and yet it was so tasty! The grapes added the perfect pop of sweetness to contrast the earthy sprouts. My husband loved it too, he’s gone from Sprout hater to lover in almost no-time at all.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grapes

For our main course I made the Seitan Timbales with Chestnut Champignon Stuffing from the Vegetarian Times Magazine. It looked and sounded so elegant that I couldn’t resist. Yet despite the elegance it was super simple to prepare, only since it was just my husband and I eating I didn’t see any reason to make individual timbales. To save on time and space I put the whole thing into one big casserole and cooked it that way. I think it turned out perfect! The seitan is a simple preparation, and once it’s mixed together you place it on the bottom of your greased dish and then pour water or broth over top. I used Vegan Chicken broth and then you bake for 30 minutes. While you bake it you make the stuffing on the stove top. Bread, shallots, carrots, celery, mushrooms, garlic, chestnuts, wine, parsley, and herbs de province. When the seitan has finished baking you top it with the stuffing and bake another 40 minutes until the stuffing is browned. Man was this good. Seriously, I wish I had a better picture to share but you’ll just have to trust me on this one. The texture of the seitan was incredibly. It was moist, and flakey, and reminded me very, very much of chicken. I don’t know how that happened, guess there was some strange kitchen magic going on that night, but it was damn good I tell ya.

Seitan Timbales with Chestnut Champignon Stuffing

For dessert on Christmas Eve we enjoyed a vast array of holiday cookies. I went a little baking crazy this year. I enjoyed making Christmas cookies so much last year, and they were so well-received that I kind of lost it this year. I couldn’t decide what to make, and then I wanted to make everything all at once and now I’m left with dozens of cookies even though so many got eaten, and so many were given away.


Now, I didn’t take pictures of each cookie individually as I did last year, nor was I very proactive in taking pictures of the cookies on the actual day in question. I took this picture rather after the fact with only a fraction of what I had left over, but it’s a clear enough picture so you get the idea.  Starting in the top left, with that single, lone oval shaped cookie we have the Chocolate Chip Chai Spiced Shortbread from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s book “Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar” I’ve been wanting to make these a long, long time and I’m so glad I finally got around to it because they’re AMAZING! Seriously, probably my favorite cookie of the whole bunch. Next are Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies that I got off of one of the many I blogs I follow - only I”m blanking on the name at the moment! Sorry! - These were excellent, and tasted just like any regular sugar cookie. Next to those are Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies. They were suppose to be biscotti also from “Vegan Cookies” by Isa and Terry, but the recipe was fussy, and I was running short on time and so I turned them into cookies and no one was the wiser. They were delicious and turned out great. Next to those are Gluten-Free shortbread which I believe came from the same blog as the sugar cookies. I’ll have to double check and edit this later. I accidentally forgot to put the cornstarch in them, and so I don’t know how that might have altered them but they tasted delicious, if a bit more ‘spongy’ then a regular shortbread. Next to those are the Double Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies from Chloe Coscarelli’s book “Chloe’s Vegan Desserts” these were absolutely excellent! Maybe my second favorite cookie of the bunch. In the top right corner next to the Macadamia cookies are the Greek Kourabiedes from Kelly Peloza’s book “The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur” these were quite tasty, I liked that they were light and airy, and I loved the hint of orange flower water. Now in the bottom left corner we have Gluten-Free Gingerbread Men from Carla Reed’s excellent blog “Fork and Beans” these were so good, and tasted just like any other gingerbread men. Beside them are the Chocolate Chip Mint Cookies from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s book “The Joy of Vegan Baking” these were so good, probably tied for my second favorite of the bunch. You can’t go wrong with chocolate and mint right? The little rounded ‘snow-covered’ mounds below those are the Nutty Wedding Cookies from “Vegan Cookies” by Isa and Terry. I’ve been wanting to make these a long time too and they were quite good as well as simple to throw together. Lastly in the bottom right hand corner we have the Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies from “Chloe’s Vegan Desserts” which I made using the Gluten-Free variation. These were super soft, and delicious, but I expect nothing less from Chloe. I also made the Almond Butter Chocolate Chip cookies from Angela Liddon’sThe Oh She Glows Cook Book” but none of them survived for the photo, every single one was eaten up! They really are that good, trust me!

So, just incase you were wondering - I made several gluten-free cookies because this year I gave some of my baking away to friends as a gift. My friend D is gluten-free - as is the rest of his family - and so I wanted to make several nice Christmas theme cookies that he could enjoy. Then there is my friend NB - not to be confused with my other friend N - who is not gluten-free himself, but his wife is, and since I wanted her to enjoy the cookies as well I tried to make a variety of gluten and non-gluten containing cookies for everyone. Since neither my husband, or I, or anyone else in our family is gluten-free when I had them displayed at home I just threw them all together since contamination is not an issue and it was just easier for me to keep my cookies altogether then go to the trouble of separating them for no reason.

So that was our Christmas Eve Dinner. Tomorrow I’ll give you the rundown of what we ate on Christmas Day so stay tuned!