Saturday, December 08, 2007

Annual Christmas Craft Party ( & bonus pics!)

Today was our annual Christmas Craft Party. Usually this is our biggest party of the year, and we invite everyone we love. This year I wasn't quite feeling up for all that hubbub. So, we did a much smaller affair with a few close friends and my family. Still, I did lots of cooking of course! Here's a glimpse at what I made for the party:

This is my cute little nephew CW decorating a gingerbread man. I set up a "decorate-your-own-gingerbread-man" station at our party last year and it was so fun. It's great because it feels crafty AND it tastes good. I don't know the exact number, but I swear to you, CW ate at least 10 of these babies, all loaded up with frosting. Quite possibly, the number was closer to 15.

I made these "Softly Spiced Nuts" from "Eat Drink & Be Vegan." I am really loving that cookbook. I love Dreena's recipes. I love that you can always rely on them to be health-sensible AND delicious. These nuts were a big hit!

I got that pretty tablecloth on sale for only $10! It's not very Christmasy, but it's what we've got. I guess it'll be a bit more sensible for Easter.

Here you see some of the "Maple Walnut Cookies" from "Vive Le Vegan." I love these cookies, and apparently I am not alone. These were, hands down, THE hit of the party! Everyone was talking about them. There are also some Candy Cane Joe-Joes from Trader Joes, and some spice drops. As long as you are not a stickler for refined sugar, these spice drops are vegan. I must confess to really loving them. Here is an admission I don't hear often from other vegans: one of the hardest things for me to sacrifice when I became vegan was gummy candy. Especially those lovely Haribo brand candies - gummy bears and coke bottles, cherries,... I have tried the vegan ones and they are so lacking in both flavor and texture that I don't even bother. Three things that are vegan, for which I am so grateful, and which help prevented me from falling "off the wagon" as a new vegan: Hot Tamales, Swedish Fish, and Spice Drops. Mmm.

Here's a close up of the cookies on their own. Please make these if you haven't yet.

I made a big batch of the Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Seed Rice Paper Rolls from "Veganomicon." I just made these last week, and they are perfect party food. These were also hugely popular and were gone by the end of the party. I think Musty would have eaten the whole platter on his own if I hadn't intervened!

My ever-amazing friend Kristy showed up with a stunning & delicious focaccia-like bread called "Roman Bread." Wow. And look at that classy presentation. Honestly... so classy! I really admire that she takes the little bit of extra care and time to make such a nice impression. She is a great cook & she has been so sweet about experimenting with some vegan baking. You're awesome Kristy!

Here's the giant platter of ggbread men... and some of the decorating supplies - silver balls, red hots, star mints... and of course there was frosting too - red, green, white, and blue. This recipe is from "The Joy of Cooking," easily veganized.

You gotta have hummus, or ain't a vegan party! I made the "White Bean Hummus with Fresh Basil & Thyme" from ED&BV. Mmm. Very nice. This was served with cut up carrots, bell peppers, cucumber, and celery. Also some sliced baguette. All the hummus and all the veggies were gone by the end of the evening!

I also made the delicious and unique "Chickpea Curry Hummus with Pappadam" from ED&BV. I loved this stuff! You'll see that I left out the raisins. Somehow I wasn't in the mood for the savory-sweet combo. I guess because there was so much other sweet stuff on the table. I easily found pappadam crackers at my health food store. Mmm... I love those babies! I got the cracked pepper variety, which are so good.

The party lasted until 6:00, and I knew I'd be tired and hungry toward the end. Plus, I knew my family would be over and that they would be hungry too. So in the afternoon, before the party started, I made up a batch of the "Coconut-Cocoa Chili" from ED&BV. Another good recipe. I even forgot to add the lime and tabasco (oops) and it was still delicious. We all enjoyed it, and there's enough left for one or two more bowls.

Even though I have a cold today (lame!), it was a great little party. I liked having a smaller & more managable size.

Lucky me! I got to meet the delightful Melisser last week. We met up halfway between Santa Cruz & San Francisco - at the frozen yogurt spot in Palo Alto that serves vegan frozen yogurt! Mmm. We both got the same thing: vegan soy frozen yogurt with strawberries & chocolate shavings for toppings. Their frozen yogurt is really nice, it's not actually that sweet - it tastes more like actual yogurt, with a little bit of tang. I like it. I snapped this cute picture of Melisser photographing the side-by-side treats.

Last week I finally got around to making a very nice recipe that I've had my eye on for a while. This is the "Cranberry Orange Tart" from "Voluptuous Vegan." Wow! This baby is really great! And, shockingly beautiful. It's got a lot of maple syrup in it, so if you have maple syrup financial constraints that could be a problem. I really love the giant bottle of Grade B maple syrup at Trader Joes for only$8.00. Way to go TJs! It's got a great crust... you toast the flour first and it gives the crust such a lovely nutty flavor. Then there's a fine layer of almond butter on the crust, topped with this stunning cranberry goodness. I think I will make this again for Christmas. Even Musty, who doesn't even like cranberry sauce (freak!), loved it.

Okay, one more ED&BV recipe. I could feel the onset of my cold yesterday... and wanted something healthy and warm for dinner. I made the "Lemongrass Coconut Corn Stew" (not sure of the exact name... and I'm too lazy to get up and look. This was a **great** recipe. I really recommend it very highly. It was so good. At Musty's fine suggestion, I added some silken tofu in, which was wonderful.

Hope you are enjoying your weekend. Judging from the 3-mile-long line at the Trader Joe's yesterday, lots of people are enjoying some holiday parties this weekend!


  1. I can personally attest that this was a great party and the food was ultra-tasty. Amey did a fantastic job even though she was coming down with a cold, and would probably have preferred to just curl up in bed.

    In addition to the varied and tempting food table, this event was made special by the cozy gathering of family and friends, ranging from age 3 to 92, and the wonderful array of holiday craft project that were cranked out -- make-a-plates, decorated styrofoam balls, paper snowflakes, crafty hand-stiched ornaments, and wacky glittery creations that defy description.

    Thank you Amey!

  2. First of all, it was GREAT meeting you & thank you again for the awesome grape jelly.

    What a fun party! I attended one with a "Make Your Own Gingerbread" & it quickly got X-rated!

    It sounds like I need ED&BV! It's on my Xmas list!

  3. Looks like you had a fun and yummy time. I am stoked on your cranberry pie...can I get that recipe online anywhere? My sister found out she is allergic to dairy, eggs and wheat so I want to make a dessert at Christmas that she can eat. Oh shoot the crust probably has wheat in it. Any alternatives? Hello to Musty and the critters. Lots of love, Carey

  4. Your Christmas Craft Party looks like it was a lot of fun!! I love crafting (and "decorate-your-own-gingerbread-man" stations, haha), so that is DEFINITELY my kind of party :0)

    mmm, the softly-spiced-nuts (I'm OBSESSED with the ED&BV cookbook, as evidenced on my blog), maple-walnut cookies (they're already on my ever-expanding list of baked goods to make!), Coconut-Cocoa Chili (so intriguing), and the hummuses look quite delicious; and I had no idea that spice drops, hot tamales, and swedish fish were vegan? cool! and I've heard that those candy-cane joe-joes are quite addictive... I better stay clear, haha :0)

    glad to see those rice-paper rolls making another appearance on your blog - no surprise that they were a hit! and wow, Kristy's "Roman Bread," as well as your cranberry-orange tart and the lemongrass-coconut-corn stew, look/sound terrific as well!!

    ahh so great that you got to meet Melisser - I love reading about my fellow bloggers meeting!!

    oh and thank you for visiting my blog!! I have been following YOUR blog for quite some time now, and I will continue to do so - I love it!! :0)

  5. Such a great post, filled with so many happy (and inspirational) things! I love your annual craft party (I remember reading about it on your blog last year), it just seems like such a fun thing this time of year. I love that shot of the gingerbread men (and the little ginger babies!), the Roman bread looks stunningly packaged, and of course all the ED&BV recipes sound divine.
    And how cool that you got to meet Melisser AND indulge in vegan frozen yogurt- a winning combination in my book!
    In one week, I'll be near a Trader Joe's... and then the Joe-Joe's frenzy shall begin!
    Enjoy your Christmas/holiday time, Amey!

  6. Feel better soon! All the food looks great, and that's a fantastic idea for a party. Decorate your own cookies, I love it!

  7. Holy cow that is an awful lot of cooking, and all of it sounds and looks fantastic. There are so many recipes that I now can't wait to try, specifically the hummus ones.

    Your party sounds like a lot of fun, but I have to wonder, if you scaled back this year, what is it usually like? Oh, one more thing - next year, can I come?

  8. I remember your party from last year - such a fun event for you to host! I can't wait to make the coco chili and the Indian hummus. And I had just a bookmarked a recipe somewhere for a cranberry orange tart. Yours looks fantastic!

    Get better soon, Amey!

  9. I totally feel ya on the Swedish fish, lady :)

  10. Wow, that's all a lot of food... It all looks so nummy.

    Have you ever had sour patch candies? They aren't quite the same as gummie candies, but they are close. If you don't care about high fructose and all that junk, sour patch is an 'accidentally vegan' product. Of course, you have to be a fan of sour candies to enjoy.

    And do I see tiny, little gingerbread men mixed in with the big ones, or are my eyes playing tricks on me? ;)

  11. Oh my goodness, what an awesome party you hosted! CW is too cute and I can see myself at his age doing the same thing and never leaving that table. I just love the idea of the decorate a gingerbread man station.

    I don't have Veganomnicon yet, but those rice paper rolls are doing a good job of really making me want to go buy the book today!

    Luckily I do have EDBV and I've already made quite a few recipes. I also loved the curry hummus and the Thai coconut corn stew. I've really gotta try the white bean hummus!

    Oh and I was also lucky enough to meet Melisser! Isn't she great?

    Feel better!

  12. Vegan frozen yogurt?! Oh I am sooo jealous (but very glad that someone got to enjoy it, even if it wasn't me!).

  13. Oh wow, don't even know where to start! All the goodies for your craft party sound excellent. A party is definitely not a party without some hummus. I need to make that white bean one. Otherwise I will leave now drooling over vegan soft serve....


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