Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Falafel Dinner and Christmas Food

I am supposed to be packing for an 8:00 a.m. flight to Alabama tomorrow to visit my sister and her family, but I thought I would take a break and do my final 2006 post and get rid of some pictures.

Thursday before Christmas, Chase and Liz came for dinner and cookie decorating. We had lots of fun making our own falafel. Here they are ready to bake.

Chase was still in the decorating mood and wanted to make falafel-men and stars.

They turned out great!

I also made a tahini spread, applesauce, and quinoa salad.

I guess I made green beans too. Here's our table.

For dessert I concocted a frozen pie, using several of the nine bags of frozen bananas in my freezer. I got a store bought graham cracker crust and spread peanut butter over it.

Then I filled it with pureed bananas and chocolate chips.

I let it thaw a few minutes before cutting into it. It was really good! Can you see the layer of peanut butter over the crust?

Here are shots of the four dozen cookies we decorated. My first vegan sugar cookies!

I made some candied pecans for my dad, not vegan because I can't find a good substitute for egg white for getting the sugar and cinnamon to stick to. And I have to admit - I had a blast whipping that egg white into meringue! It had been a looooong time since I had done that.

I also made my family's favorite granola for my mom, brother, and Chase. It is vegan. Some of the add-ins I use are dried cherries, raisins, dried apricots, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and almonds.

I also made real food. For Christmas eve snacking, I made a bean and veggie salad, which everyone loved.

And a soba noodle and broccoli salad. My dad wouldn't try it and my brother said it didn't have enough sauce. I reminded him I love broccoli, not sauce. The rest of us loved it.

I made fudge from LDV. Everyone loves this!

I also made chocolate mint brownies, which I overbaked, so I called them cookies. They would have been a lot more enjoyable if I had taken them out of the oven just 2 minutes earlier!

And I made a gingerbread cake in my star bundt pan. I got the cake recipe from epicurious and easily veganized it. The cake was not great, but the apple cider sauce that went with it was.

And blueberry muffins, the first nonhealthy muffins I had made in quite some time. They are so white!

For Christmas dinner I am always in charge of mashed potatoes and green beans. This year I made a huge bunch of potatoes for my dad and brother with butter and whole milk. I set aside some smashed potatoes for Chase. I made a cranberry almond sauce for the green beans, which was really, really good. I didn't write down the recipe because I was in a rush - too bad. I also made some baked tofu and chickpea gravy for me and Chase.

Some of my favorite Christmas gifts - a pressure cooker (yea!) and Sinfully Vegan.

A scarf Liz knitted for me which is amazing, a pretty mirror, gift certificates to a spa and to cooking classes, a mug, and tray.

Dishes from Chase.

Shirts and a framed print from my brother. I can't wait for spring to wear these t-shirts!

I hope you all have a happy new year!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Simple Meals and Food Gifts

I fell in love last week with a simple tahini sauce I made. I hope I wrote it down and can find it so I can use it for my homemade falafel later this week. Oh - I just made for the first time my own chickpeas, not from a can, for my falafel and they are so incredibly sweet and delicious! Anyway, I first put the tahini sauce on broccoli and japanese yam.

Then I put it on broccoli and cauliflower over soba noodles. This was so good I ate it two nights in a row.

Several of you have asked about the japanese yam, so I took a picture of one. It tastes like a sweet potato, but not quite as sweet, and it has a very creamy texture. I get them at my asian market.

At our office Christmas party we had a fajita buffet. They were kind enough to think of me this year, and I got to have some wonderful grilled veggie fajitas to go with the beans and rice. (Usually I just get beans and rice!) There was plenty of veggies left over, so I brought some home and had them over lentils one night.

Today I took my gifts of Texas Trash to the office and everyone went crazy for it. I made another batch last night for the family to snack on. I also made VWAV pumpkin oatmeal cookies since Dori at the Bakehouse blogged about them. I found them a little bland, maybe it's because I've had this cold. But I ended up adding a powdered sugar cinnamon glaze to them. These also got rave reviews. Chase took most of them. He gave some to my mom and she thought they were some of the best cookies I've ever made. I'm sure she doesn't think they're vegan.

Here's my cookies and trash.

I also made mustard for a few special people.

Today I had lunch at Nu Age, my fave veggie restaurant, and they proudly displayed their "2006 VegNews Best Restaurant" plaques. I had their beautiful salad.

Sunday we had a family dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Green Pastures. It's a restored 1800s home which serves a massive buffet on Sundays with plenty of vegan options and even a tofu dish! Here's Chase and my mom at the front door. I wish I had better pictures of the wonderful architure and beautiful holiday decorations. The grounds are full of peacocks. The males have about an 8 foot span of feathers they proudly display. They are breathtaking. (They were also mostly in hiding on this day.) And yes, we are quite comfortable in our short sleeves. It was 82 degrees Sunday afternoon!

Here's all of my family, except my sister who lives in Alabama with her family, in the foyer before being seated. My parents are retired, and my baby brother is an environmental engineer. I will be visiting my sister between Christmas and New Year's.

Me and my angel.....

And lastly, I was clearing out my cookbook shelves of all the meat books I still have and don't use, and I found this!

Isn't that hysterical!?! I'm sure I worked on this at least 20 years ago. I was glad to see that most of my recipes were for vegetable and low fat dishes, along with some family favorites. I have a few golden oldies I want to prepare and show you later!

The dividers had some interesting tips I wanted to share with you.

"White rice will be fluffier if 1 teaspoon lemon juice is added for each quart of cooking water."

"For lighter muffins, heat greased muffin tins in the oven for a few minutes before pouring in the batter."

"To test that bread dough has double in bulk, insert your fingers 1/2 inch into the dough. If the dents remain, the dough is ready to be punched down." (I think I knew this one already)

And my favorite - "Fresh vegetables make tasty additions to green salads."

Let me know if you try the rice or muffin tips.

Tomorrow is my last day of work until Jan. 4!!! Chase and I are planning on decorating Christmas cookies on Thursday, and making some other cookies and Christmas granola after that.

Stay well, everyone!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Comfort & Joy

Comfort -- We've been sick :( Chase is better, but now I've got the sore throat and fever thing that's going around. Since we may not get to do our regular Sunday dinners for a few weeks, we planned Thursday dinners for this week and next. Tonight we had true comfort food - shepherd's pie. The filling was fresh onions, carrots, and green beans, and frozen corn and peas, and tofu. I used 3 medium white potatoes and my japanese white yam for the topping. We also had steamed broccoli and homemade wheat bread.

Before it went in the oven:

Ready to eat.

I have been wanting to make a sesame seed candy, but was waiting until I found soymilk powder so I could adapt a recipe that used powdered milk. Well, I haven't found any powdered soymilk in this whole huge town. I decided to make the candy today anyway using coconut and vanilla custard powder I got from the asian market. I also added in agave nectar and peanut butter and a few coconut flakes. Here is Black and White Sesame Seed Candy - pure fat and totally high calorie and deliciously addictive.

Joy -- This past Sunday we put up our Christmas tree and decorations. Here are some pictures of my favorite holiday things.

My prelit artificial tree. Chase is allergic to fresh Christmas trees.

My mantle.

My wall banner.

My star-shaped Santa pillow.

My handpainted Santa gourd.

A picture of Chase, 3 years old, with Santa.