Monday, December 28, 2009

Breaded Zucchini Sticks with Roasted Red Pepper Dip



As I've mentioned before, I am kind of obsessed with finger foods, pot stickers, apps, dips and the like. So, naturally, I love New Year's Eve, the holiday most conducive to party foods. No heavy, formal meals at the dining room table...it's all about hand-held foods that you can graze on during dance breaks throughout the night.

We're going to a black tie potluck this New Year's Eve and so our house has become a sort of test kitchen over the past couple weeks, as I try to determine exactly what I'm going to bring.

Although this one didn't make the cut, I thought I would share it anyway because it's very easy to make and is great for snacking. The recipe is found here on Happy Herbivore. Give them a try if you're still searching for what to eat while you watch the ball drop!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Red Lentil Buckwheat Flan



Hope your Christmas was full of vegan treats!
I can't comment too much on this flan because it was made by my mom for Christmas lunch...but it was too pretty to not take a picture of! Lentils, veggies and plenty of spices in a buckwheat pastry..yum! It is reminiscent of a quiche and so would make a great addition to any brunch spread. Thanks, Mom!



Our little family hopes you had a very merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Before all the chaos ensues, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your readership and wish those of you who celebrate the merriest of Christmases. Hope you enjoy all those tofurkys and other vegan delicacies and can rest your head while waiting for Santa tonight, knowing that you are truly contributing to peace on earth.

If you're still searching for last minute gifts, how about a donation to farmsanctuary.org, in hopes of a future full of respect and appreciation for the planet we live on and the creatures we share it with?

And finally, because the Muppets are awesome, here is a clip from "A Muppet Family Christmas" from 1987, one of my favourites as both a child and adult. In this clip, the Swedish Chef learns a lesson in compassion while attempting to cook Big Bird - and even forgoes plans to make a Christmas turkey in favour of a vegan-friendly meal. Although not on youtube because of copyright issues, if you get a chance to see it I highly recommend the newest Muppets Christmas movie, "Letters to Santa" (from 2008) - they even eat a tofu turkey in that one! Even muppets are learning the awesomeness that is veganism.



All the best to you and yours,

Mary
"This is Vegan"

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Christmas Feast



We have a little holiday tradition in our house, in that every year, the Sunday before Christmas, we crack a bottle of red and make a Christmas feast for two. When it comes to December 24-26 (this year, 27) we have dinners and parties galore and there is little time for celebrating the season at home. As such, a few years ago we decided to start doing our own little Christmas, just before the big show.

Since going veg this feast has always included a tofurky. Up until this year it was of the boxed variety, which is fine, but can hold no soy candle to homemade seitan roast (the same one we made at Thanksgiving). We also made a round of stuffing from a recipe on Fat Free Vegan and mashed potatoes with garlic and kale from How it All Vegan. I can't take credit for finding that potato recipe...my vegan cousins brought it to a family Christmas party we had a few weeks ago and has quickly become a staple in our house. Everything is smothered in miso mushroom gravy, also from How it All Vegan.

Paul also baked a pumpkin cheezecake for dessert, even though I begged him not to. I am going to be on a sugar high well into 2010.

The dinner was delicious but even better were the leftovers. Monday's lunchtime was met with seitan roast on 12 grain bagels with hummus and spinach!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Cheer in a Glass



Before I was vegan, my favourite Christmas drink was a glass of Baileys on ice with a candy cane stir stick. While Baileys is no longer on the menu, I was very excited to learn that most varieties of the equally-festive Kahlua are vegan-friendly (thank you barnivore.com for confirming that!).

This is a very simple drink and so I'm not sure it warrants its own entry, but it makes for such a pretty picture that I couldn't resist. Kahlua and rice milk, who would have thought the Christmas awesomeness that this combo could bring on. I find rice milk makes for the perfect mix because it is the mildest of the non-dairy milks and has a sweet hint to it that is reminiscent of rice pudding. If you're feeling a little extra indulgent, break out the blender and turn it into a milkshake with some vegan-friendly vanilla ice cream (but shh, you didn't hear that from me. I would never condone that many empty calories!......... Who am I kidding, I am totally planning on doing this tonight).

No festive drink is complete without a little candy cane flavour along the rim of the glass. A cool find at the supermarket this year - organic, fair trade candy canes! First time I've seen them around these parts. It's a lot of work to crush them, so go ahead and use one as a stir stick instead. Be careful, they melt quickly and the drink can take on a very strong peppermint flavour (who's complaining though, it's Christmas!)

This is a cute drink that is simple enough to make while entertaining over the holidays (which means you'll have time to enjoy the festivity yourself..what a concept!). It looks fancy enough that it just might impress those you're serving it to. If you're not doing much entertaining over Christmas, it also makes a great treat for yourself while curled up next to the tree with your favourite Christmas movie (may I suggest one that features 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights?).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Goodies via the Second Annual M&P Ugly Xmas!



The second weekend of December marks my favourite of our newer holiday traditions - Ugly Xmas! We encourage our dear friends to stop by for some Christmas cheer by means of a little eating, a little drinking, a little dancing and a little shuffleboarding in their tackiest christmas attire. It gives me an excuse to bake up holiday treats without having to eat them all. Above are gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheeze frosting, from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (where else?!).



These are peppermint patties from How it All Vegan and admittedly the colourful photos of these beauties in the cookbook is what prompted me to buy it in the first place. I definitely wasn't disappointed...if I wrapped them in foil I'm fairly certain I could have fooled people into thinking they were store bought. And they were so easy to make. Almost too easy, as I'm going to be tempted to make them every time the sugar cravings kick in.

And although these photos are not necessarily vegan-themed, I thought I'd share some of our Ugly Xmas finest:



Me waiting for our guests, in a sweater that cost me sweet $3 at a secondhand store!



Paul in an embroidered cotton number that had some strange black glitter all over it, also under $5 from a secondhand store







There were some great outfits this year, wish I could share them all! But only one could win the title of "THE UGLIEST" (voted on by all the guests) and get to wear the crown...



And that was our dog, Dora. But since she was one of the party hosts and thus did not qualify for the crown...



...it went to the two second place winners, Shayna and Kathy!


It was a great night, thanks to all of you who came out - can hardly wait for the 3rd Annual to take place next December!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fettuccine Alfredo



I generally like Christmas, but I'm kind of excited for January so that the chaos can slow down and we can return to normal eating patterns. With the hustle and bustle we've been eating a lot more convenience food and it's no coincidence that I have generally felt gross and have had virtually no energy. Not to mention all the Christmas baked goodies and sweets and whatever else that have found their way into our house.

I generally consider December a freebie when it comes to junk food (vegan-friendly, of course) but I'm seriously starting to wonder why. Sure it induces a sense of nostalgia and is usually followed by "Okay, one more - it's Christmas!" but it's really not worth feeling like crap when you realize you haven't got a hope in hell of buttoning your favourite jeans. Or even getting them up over your butt.

After eating a lot of junk over the past couple weeks running in between school, work, the mall and Christmas events, I am throwing in the towel and attempting to restore some sort of normalcy to mealtime. Because time is still a factor this time of year, this means I am going to still rely on convenience but at least conveniences that I make myself without all the extra fattiness typical of fast food and restaurant fare.

So when I saw something on Vegan Yum Yum entitled, "Hurry Up Alfredo" I took it as a sign. Even though I don't really believe in signs.

I wasn't much of an alfredo eater before I was vegan. I found it heavy and it never failed to give me a stomachache. When I was a kid I was told I was lactose intolerant and my solution was to ignore it for fifteen years. As such, eating something like fettucine alfredo was enough to have me curled in a ball on the floor for hours. Fortunately, vegan alfredo poses none of these risks.

For this recipe you literally just put a bunch of ingredients in a blender and cook pasta according to direction. Put the two together, toss in some steamed broccoli for that greeny goodness, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, et voila - faster than you can say "veggie burger, no mayo".

I also tossed a caesar salad using Dreena Burton's raw caesar dressing recipe. Dinner was done so quick last night that we had time to scrub the house top to bottom in anticipation for the Christmas party we are hosting tonight (meaning I'll have time for a nap when I get home from work in a couple of hours - hurrah!).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tofu Tacos



Believe it or not, up until we made these on Friday night I had never had a hard taco before. We usually buy Eziekiel brand wraps for all our south-of-the-border meals to make them just a bit more healthy, but because we were trying a new kind of taco I figured we should try a new kind of shell too.

We make tacos all the time. Usually on particularly busy days, where a package of ground round goes a long way in getting the meal on the table within ten minutes. But, you know how I feel about prepackaged foods...acceptable in times of desperation, but it really shouldn't be the focus of our diets. Plus, when I eat soy I want it to be organic because of all the funky crap they seem to be doing with soy these days and so making vegan taco filling with organic tofu is a priority.

This is really, really straightforward. It's basically crumbled tofu, a bunch of spices and a mushroom-based tomato sauce (the mushrooms give it a thick 'beefy' kind of flavour - next time I think we'll just use regular homemade tomato sauce and dice up some fresh portobellos instead).

The recipe came from the cookbook CalciYum, a book I've mentioned before, which focuses on providing animal-free meals that are packed full of calciyum (although they never use the term 'vegan', every recipe within it is vegan). Tofu, while flawed and not the healthiest food in the world, is loaded with calcium and so I don't think it necessarily needs to be avoided completely. Between the two of us we eat about half a brick of tofu a week, and substitute tempeh in when applicable because it's a bit more health-friendly than tofu. That being said, while these tacos do take a full pack of extra firm tofu, as long as you're not eating it every day I would give it a try.

And because they are upping the calcium, these tacos feature sliced okra:



Not just for gumbos anymore, my friends!


We topped them with diced tomatoes and fresh arugula and baby spinach (hooray for more calcium!). Also, if the taco shell crumbling gets annoying, just break them in little pieces overtop the filling and fresh veggies...makes a mean taco salad!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mushroom Barley Risotto & Sugar Cookies

I have been incredibly busy, hence the lack of updates. I've been working some overtime hours in an attempt to secure a couple extra dollars for holiday shopping and I'm also approaching what just might be the end of the end with regard to my Master's thesis (hopefully?). Add holiday parties and dinners to the mix and the time typically allotted for kitchen experimentation ceases to exist.

I did make this mushroom barley risotto (from Vegan Planet) last night that would make a great addition to this year's Christmas dinner:



And it's Christmas time, so of course I had to make sugar cookies at least once this season:



I promise to make more of an effort over the next week!

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