Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Can't believe there's only one card left on the Advent Garland. We've enjoyed having a couple of extra days with Daddy at home. (That's Ryan, to you.)

Tonight, for supper, I made Pizza Bagel Wreaths. My sister Cary sent me this link for the idea.

For tomorrow, Ryan has requested cheeze fondue, and we'll eat up our veggie tree tradition, as well.


I hope that everyone has a wonderful December 25th, whether you celebrate the holiday of Christmas or not! Those of you who do celebrate Christmas, may it be very merry. I hope you all feel very blessed today and every day. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Cookies Round 1

This weekend, my 18-member immediate family (parents, siblings, etc.) got together to celebrate Christmas. My Mom worked hard making different versions of lasagna, manicotti, and ravioli, etc. that would suit the wide-range needs of her particular clan (vegetarians, vegans, vegetable-fearing, etc.). I contributed the desserts above.

Veggies and Tofu Lasagna with Squash & Spinach

part of my plate with manicotti and lasagna

I tried a new recipe for Chocolate Macadamia Meltaways. I call them a success!

Since this Taste of Home non-vegan recipe is posted online anyway, I can give you my veganized version:

Chocolate Macadamia Meltaways

1/2 cup Earth Balance, softened
1/4 cup organic powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups organic white flour
3 1/2 oz. macadamia nuts, finely chopped

1 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/2 coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
additional powdered sugar

Cream Earth Balance and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour and mix well. Stir in nuts. Dough will be stiff; set aside.

For filling, in a microwave, melt chocolate chips; stir. Stir in nuts; cool slightly. Drop by 1/2 teaspoonfuls onto parchment or wax paper-covered pan or plate. Put in fridge for 30 minutes or until hardened.

Shape dough around chocolate mounds; completely cover. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees. (Recipe says 12-14 minutes. I think the key to good cookies is not overcooking, so I probably set my timer to 9 minutes first to see if they're already browning.) Roll warm cookies in additional powdered sugar. 

I made my very-important-for-the-holidays Vegan Buckeyes. I always use a recipe from Kids' Christmas Cookbook, but it is similar to other buckeyes recipes online, such as this one. However, the recipe I use has a higher ratio of peanut butter to sugar and Earth Balance to others I've seen, which makes them a little healthier, I suppose. I think all you need to do is mix in enough powdered sugar to make the peanut butter roll into balls, freeze the balls, then dip them in melted chocolate chips, then let them harden again in the fridge or freezer.

I haven't figured out how to make my buckeyes prettier without the toothpick (for dipping) hole. And I actually prefer mine completely covered in chocolate (since I believe chocolate is better than peanut butter) so most of them were made that way.

Thumbprint Cookies

This recipe can be found at thekitchn. We had enjoyed the batch my sister made for us last year, and I needed a non-chocolate dessert. I used three different fruit spreads: 365 Fruits of the Forest, Organic Peach, and Organic Sicilian Orange.

Magic Cookie Bars

I veganize a recipe my mom used when we were growing up. I still use the recipe card written in my childhood handwriting. It's fairly similar to this one. I can't imagine too many desserts better than Magic Cookie Bars.


Enjoying a relaxing day in pj's! I was feeling very slow (pregnant) and very swollen last week, but this week I've been feeling a lot better. It has been a very nice December for us, so far. I will try to post one more time before Christmas, but I hope all of you who celebrate are enjoying this time. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gingerbread House Pancakes

One of our Advent Activities this week was reading Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett and making gingerbread house pancakes. I've had the mold for many years, so it is a tradition to use sometime around Christmas.

This is part of the Advent Garland I made. Everyday the kids rush downstairs to unclip the next Christmas activity for the day.

Mimic Creme Healthy Top, maple syrup, and melted fruit spread

kiwi, strawberries, walnuts, chocolate chips, bananas, blueberries, organic wheat squares cereal, raisins

I can't always get my pancakes to turn out as well when I use the molds, but they taste the same. Part of my problem was that I didn't have any nonstick cooking spray, and the olive oil in my Misto wasn't working as well.

We ended up with all sorts of gingerbread houses.

The tongue sticking out means serious concentration.

Nutritional Information three flavors

We were pretty impressed with the Mimic Creme, which is made primarily from coconut oil and nuts. It definitely has a different taste than Soyatoo or Rice Whip. The package is pretty firm out of the fridge, then it whips up very thick. Ryan says he prefers it to the other canned varieties. I don't know if I have a preference. But I do like that it doesn't "melt" like the canned whips. I haven't seen this at our stores, but I picked it up on a recent trip to Missouri.

The kids also had some Creme in their hot chocolate the next day (along with crushed candy canes). Bonus for them was that it even snowed in Arkansas (but melted off by noon, of course) this week!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving: check!

Thanksgiving Supper 2011
I loved these stand-up turkey napkins my mom bought for us to use. Not extremely absorbent but cute!
Antler Elegance
Stand up Christmas napkins, anyone?

Hopefully, no arsenic.

I worked so hard on this Cinnamon-Dusted Butternut Squash. Really, it's from Whole Foods deli.

I did, however, make Homemade Applesauce. And applesauce does not need sugar. Here is the recipe I used. I was able to use up the last of our 20 lb. box of organic apples, that were starting to get a little soft, from our Azure Standard order.

Thank you again, Whole Foods, for the Brussels Sprouts I did not have to wash, chop, and roast. I did, however add the pomegranate arils after seeing Bobby Flay or someone do that on the news that morning. I think I could add pomegranate seeds to anything and love it.

I worked hard on my homemade stuffing, but I'm not sure it was worth the effort. It was pretty good that night, but it was soggy as a leftover. (I probably messed the recipe up by subbing a couple of ingredients; my main substitution was so dumb, I'm not even going to say what it was).

I did love the idea of making homemade stuffing, and I loved the idea of chopped pears and chestnuts in it. (Although - the canned chestnuts are soft and totally grossed me out. I will use only dry nuts next time.) I also added some chopped Smoked Apple Sage Field Roast Sausages, which might have saved it. My friend's stuffing at Portions of Goodness looked much better. I'll do a better job with your recipe next time, Pam.

Roasted vegetables with our Field Roast and Tofurky Roast. Road's End Gravy (not pictured) on the side. We love the marinade we use for our veggies (potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots, and onions) and roasts. It's a version of this Tofurky Baste Option 2, using orange juice, maple syrup, soy sauce, olive oil, and spices.

I had kind of hoped to make a homemade roast this year...but I didn't even go grocery shopping until late Wednesday evening. And they weren't out of Tofurky Roasts, like I'd feared. Maybe one like this for Christmas.

an assortment of rolls from Whole Foods

We LOVED this Cranberry Mandarin Orange Relish, also from the Whole Foods deli. Delicious! I paired it with some plain, cooked millet.

I also took Pam's suggestion for Spaghetti Squash & Chard Gratin from Kalyn's Kitchen. I subbed in tofu, Vegenaise, and Daiya for cottage cheese, egg, and parmesan.

I won't go so creamy and decadent next time and let the squash and chard have more of a voice, but I liked it.

After a whole day of cooking and very little sampling, I couldn't WAIT to sit down and enjoy my meal. And yet...I couldn't finish even half of my plate. What a disappointment. This was the problem of deciding to have Thanksgiving supper rather than lunch: I can't eat very much in the evening, even if I don't eat a lot early on. (I'm 8 months pregnant, for those of you just tuning in.) I covered my plate and stuck it in the fridge.

My 11 year old, on the other hand, was being exceptionally quiet, and we realized it was because he was just shoveling it in.

And although everyone else got to enjoy my pumpkin pie (recipe here)...

...and this girl came back for dessert seconds, in which she asked for "more pie and more Brussels sprouts"... burgeoning belly had to wait until the next day for a piece of pie. I tried staying up late just so it would settle enough for one little piece of pie. But I finally brushed my teeth, telling Ryan I was going to be a big girl and just wait until the next day.

Those of you who like Soyatoo, have you tried the new extra creamy version? I think it's even better.

And off to get ready for Christmas!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

The only turkeys eaten in this house today:
Part of our pre-Thanksgiving Meal brunch, eaten with hummus and pumpkin soup.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!! I am truly thankful for all of my blogging friends and those who ever stop by here. Have a wonderful weekend. I'll be by to visit (well, your blogs, anyway) soon.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Our Halloween Festivities

I don't know what happened to me after October. The weird thing is, I didn't think it was too difficult posting almost everyday last month, and now I'm 14 days into November without a post. I guess if you take away requirements and guidelines in life, I don't operate as well. Therefore, my Halloween post is late and not as relevant. However, I'm posting it, anyway, for record-keeping purposes for my children's sake. And I wanted to acknowledge the awesome blogs who gave me some of our ideas.

Our Halloween Meal:

She has been posting really fun Thanksgiving foods, too, so check out her blog.

I covered the banana pieces in peanut butter, coconut, then used a little frosting to stick on the chocolate chip eye. My kids don't know the term One-Eyed Willy, so they thought of them more as Cyclops Pops.

Everyone was also served a Jack O' Lantern Clementine. Color Wheel Meals gave me the idea for this and the carrot concoction below.

I filled in the holes with hummus and used part of a leek for the stem.

We have only went trick or treating a few times over the years. We usually just go visit my parents and a few of their neighbors. (And we'll attend the parties at the area libraries, dressed up.) This year we actually went up and down a long street because we were collecting candy for our Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory we've been creating as we read the book. In exchange for willingly turning over their bags, I had these boxes waiting for them.

They included Yummy Earth suckers, Endangered Species chocolate bites, a boom Choco boom bar, a Simply Fruit Roll-Up (which I was excited to find at Target but now I don't endorse because I somehow overlooked that they contain sulfites, which we avoid), a Brown Rice Marshmallow Treat, Fork and Beans' Twix Bars...

These things are insane. As in insanely good. I had a little trouble temperature regulating the final product. If I left them out of the fridge, the center had more of a taffy consistency. They tasted better from the fridge. I don't know if this was because I used agave nectar instead of corn syrup.

Regardless, who cares? They were good, and I want to try her other candy bar recipes eventually.

They all each had a Friendly Ghost sugar cookie wrapped in their box,

and a couple of pumpkin cookies. The color of sprinkles makes little sense, I know, but it's what I had, and they're only 11, 6, and 4. My 11 year old did point out that the pumpkins weren't realistic, but what can ya do.

Last night as I was scoping the top of my pantry for something, I found the rest of the Halloween candy I'd ordered from Pangea (like Whizzers, caramel bites, and Eli's bars) and hidden away. I'd completely forgotten about it, which is how my brain works these days. We'll save it for another special occasion soon.

My Mom is always really sweet about having a special treat prepared for the kids, too.

Sugared almonds, pretzels, Back to Nature peanut butter cookies, a glo-stick, and pencils.

My sweet Jedi, Fred Flintstone, and Minnie Mouse approved of all of the above.

I, of course, couldn't waste this dress-up opportunity. No stuffing required!