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!