Thursday, December 20, 2012

Spreading Holiday Joy...Vegan Style!

Cranberry Orange Holiday Punch and ChocoNog Cupcakes with Nutmeg Cream Cheese Frosting
Last weekend Dan and I hosted a mini holiday party.  A small get together, only six of us.  Just some quality time spent with family, before the craziness takes over.  And even though there were only 6 of us, we decided we still wanted to have a festive menu.  Kind of reminiscent of the family christmas potlucks we went to when we were kids.

So, what did we make?  Well, we went semi-homemade with a finger food menu.  Crudite with vegan ranch, Veggie Piggies in a Blanket, various Chips and Dips, Meatless Balls in Marinara, Phyllo Triangles filled with a mixture of Soyrizo and Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese, Hot Spiced Apple Cider kept hot in the crockpot (filling the house in the best, and the above punch and cupcakes.

Cranberry Orange Holiday Punch
Open up a few bottles, float in some cranberries, and voilla!
1 bottle (750 ml) Cranberry Italian Soda
1 bottle (750 ml) Blood Orange Italian Soda
1 bottle (750 ml) Vodka (optional, of course)
1 quart pineapple juice
1 (15 ounce) can mandarin orange segments, in juice
3 cups cranberries (I used frozen)

Pour it all together in a punch bowl and serve over ice!

ChocoNog Cupcakes with Nutmeg Cream Cheese Frosting
These cupcakes are an adaptation of Kittee's Chocolate Cake from Papa Tofu.

For the cupcakes:
3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups evaporated cane juice
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups vegan Nog
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons chocolate extract
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

For the Frosting:
1 cup non dairy butter
1 (8 ounce) tub vegan cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
Vegan food coloring, optional

To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350 F.  Line cupcake pans with papers.
In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.  In a separate smaller bowl, mix together the wet.
Add wet to dry and mix until there are no lumps.
Fill papers 3/4 full.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, using an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese.
Mix in vanilla and nutmeg.
Add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until stiff peaks form.

Yield: 24 frosted cupcakes

Holiday Baking Round One:  Gifts for mailing.  This round included the Sweet Twigs and Berries and Saltine Butter Toffee from Vegan Food Gifts, Rice Crispy Treats and Kittee's Peanut Butter Fudge.
But the fun has only just begun!  Now I start with the vegan gift giving.  Yep, it's my favorite way to proselytize.  Give 'em some tasty vegan treats!  My first round went into the mail yesterday and it included two recipes from Vegan Food Gifts, and two reliable recipes from Christmas' past.

Saltine Butter Toffee (from Vegan Food Gifts)
This is one of those recipes that I think everyone has in his or her stash. But guess what? It makes a great gift, and it is super yummy. This is my version. There is just no way that anyone would ever suspect the vegan-ocity here. They are too buttery and delicious. feel free to experiment and play with different toppings, such as sprinkles, crushed candy canes (like I did for this batch!), or even coarse sea salt.

35 to 40 saltine crackers
1 cup (224 g) nondairy butter
1 cup (200 g) evaporated cane juice or sugar
2 cups (352 g) vegan chocolate chips
1 cup (120 g) chopped nuts (any nut will do!), or any of your favorite toppings

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray lightly with nonstick spray. Lay the crackers on the sheet in a single layer.
In a saucepot over medium heat, melt the butter and evaporated cane juice until completely dissolved. Pour evenly over the crackers.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden.
Carefully remove from the oven. Place on a flat surface, and immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly all over the crackers. Using a spreader or butter knife, spread the chocolate evenly over the crackers as it melts. Sprinkle with the nuts or other desired toppings.
Allow to cool and harden completely before breaking into pieces and packaging for gifts.

Yield: 35 to 40 pieces

Twigs and Berries (from Vegan Food Gifts)
Since vegans only eat twigs and berries, why not show those omnis how tasty they can be? Below are two versions, sweet and spicy, based on the same basic mix. This recipe makes a HUGE amount. I use this one when I am making lots of gifts. Feel free to cut the recipe in half, especially if you don't have an industrial sized mixing bowl.

Base Mix
7 cups (216 g) crunchy rice square cereal, like Rice Chex
3 cups (112 g) pretzel sticks
1 cup (142 g) dried cranberries
1 cup (160 g) raisins
1 cup (84 g) banana chips
1 cup (124 g) raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 cup (112 g) raw almonds
1 cup (112 g) raw pecan halves

In your largest mixing bowl, toss together ingredients, then follow instructions for either the Sweet or Spicy versions below.

Sweet Mix
2 cups (352 g) nondairy semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup (224 g) nondairy butter, like Earth Balance
1/2 cup (128 g) creamy no stir peanut butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 to 6 cups (600 to 720 g) powdered sugar, to coat

In a sauce pot over low heat, melt chocolate chips, butter, and peanut butter.
Once completely melted, stir in cinnamon and vanilla.
Pour mixture over base mix and stir to coat evenly.
Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and toss to coat. By the time you add the last cup of sugar, your mix should be powdery white and the pieces should not stick together.
Allow to cool (you can leave it right in the bowl) completely before packaging.

Spicy Mix
2 cups (448 g) nondairy butter
1/2 cup (120 ml) soy sauce or Tamari
2 tablespoons (30 ml) Sri Racha
2 tablespoons (16 g) garlic powder
2 tablespoons (16 g) onion powder
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons red chili flakes, adjust to taste
1 teaspoon ground chipotle powder (or Cayenne pepper), adjust to taste

Preheat oven to 250 F degrees.
Line four baking pans with parchment.
In a sauce pot over low heat, add all ingredients and stir until completely melted.
Pour mixture over base mix and toss until evenly coated.
Spread mix evenly in a single layer on baking sheets.
Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, or until crisp.
Allow to cool completely before packaging.

Package in clear bags, tins, jars, or boxes. Regardless, make sure you add a pretty Hang Tag!

Screen shot from my Google search for free downloadable Christmas Gift Tags.  So many to choose from!
Speaking of Gift Tags...
And one final thought for the holiday baking and gift giving season...Want to print your own personalized gift tags, but don't have the creative know how to put it together? If you don't have your own copy of Vegan Food Gifts which has all sorts of scannable and copyable gift tags in it, you can
just type "Free Downloadable Christmas Gift Tags" into your search engine, and click on the images search.  Scan through to find a style you like and click to go to the website where you can download them.  There are thousands of designs out there!  Super cute!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Joni's Top 10 Picks for this Holiday Season (Plus a Giveaway!)

Here they are, in no particular order, my Top 10 Picks for this Holiday Season!   And in order to help at least one of you out, I will be giving away a copy of my book, Vegan Food Gifts, to one of you so you can make some of your own gifts this year.  Simply leave a comment telling me about one vegan gift you'd recommend giving, or would like to receive, this year!  I will choose one of you at random this coming Thursday at 9 am PST.  If you enter, don't forget to check back to see if you have won!

The Contest is now over.  Congratulations to #5!

YAY!  I will be contacting you shortly, so I can mail you your book.  Happy Gifting!

These caramels are amazing.  With over 20 flavors to choose from, it's hard to choose, so for only $22, I go for the sampler!

Our Hen House: a place to find our way to change the world for animals

#9 Flock Member status on Our Hen House
For as little as $10 per month, you can make that lucky someone a flock member, or simply make a one-time donation to Our Hen House so that they can effectively mainstream the movement to end the exploitation of animals. You can help them to produce consistent, top-notch content (written, audio, and video), by supporting the work of Our Hen House.

#8  Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero
This book is not only full of delicious and fantastic recipes from all over the world, but it is a joy to look at as well.  This hard cover book is beautiful.  The fonts are fun,  the photos are gorgeous, the layout is exceptional.  Right now, I am totally digging the Jamaican Plantain and Pumpkin Curry.

#7 The Koala Ripper Pullover Hoodie by Herbivore Clothing Company
What's not to love about this awesome unisex hoodie?  Stolen from the description on Herbivore's website-- "Those of you who grow up skateboarding will appreciate our tip of the cap -- and those of you who didn't -- cute Koala, huh?" 

#6 Dessert Cup Pan by Wilton
This pan is genius!  Check out how I used it to make some tarts, and then get one and see what you can do with it!

#5  Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day by Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen
One might accuse me of being biased when recommending this book.  If loving it because it's full of delicious sandwiches, breads, spreads, amazing photographs and all around fantastic theme (I mean, seriously who doesn't love a good sandwich?) then, so be it.

#4 Immersion Stick Blender by Kitchen Aid
I used to se another brand, because it was cheaper, but I broke 3 of them.  I fibnally bought this one, and it really is a dream.  It has 2 speeds, it's very sturdy, and the motor purrs like a kitten.

#3  Cookin' Crunk by Bianca Philips
I haven't been this excited over a cookbook in ages.  I think I have bookmarked every single page.  This is my kind of food!  My husband is still raving about the Fried Tofu Chicken and Wafflewiches!

I used to be loyal to the Vitamix, and that surely is a great blender.  But this, I am afraid to say, is my new favorite.  Green drinks and smoothies are, well, smoother!

#1 Vagabond Status on Citizen Radio
This listener supported podcast is headed up by 2 vegan progressives who will challenge you to get off your ass and do something about it!  The show is free, but for only $10 a month you can give a subscription to a starving punk rock college student who may or may not already be a maniac.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

How Much F'ing Turkey Did You Make Anyways?

Vegetarian Plus Whole Vegan Turkey (Complete with a butthole for stuffing!)
getting a margarine massage before roasting.
So, seriously, for the week after Thanksgiving all you see on the news, and in pop-up ads all over the interwebs, are ways to use your leftover Turkey.  And all I kept thinking was, "Seriously?  How big of a f*ing turkey did you make that you need a butt ton of recipes to use up the leftovers?"  It's one of the amazing things about being vegan, you know?  Our food is so delicious, we don't have many leftovers, and when we do, we just eat them as, I dunno, leftovers!

2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni