Saturday, December 30, 2017

Xmas Eats & Annual Cookbooklette Giveaway!

Happy Holidays! I hope you've had a nice Hannukah / Solstice / Christmas / last few weeks. Whatever floats your boat! We've had a very full December in my family... We started off the month with my brother's wedding and my dad's unexpected quadruple bypass heart surgery -- all on the same week! In fact, my dad wasn't allowed to leave the hospital for the wedding (bummer!), but my cousin helped us beam him in on an iPad (awesome!) so he could see and hear the whole ceremony. The wedding was super lovely, and my dad is recovering well... and so we collectively turned our attention toward Christmas. Better late than never! 

In our family, we do our big festive gathering on Christmas Eve. It's always been this way for as long as I remember! This year, we decided again to have an Italian Christmas Feast - for the third year in a row. It's a fun new tradition! 

My mom was in charge of the first course: antipasti! As always, she did an amazing job. Of course she got some delicious bread (absolute necessity!), and she made her fantastic white beans - maybe she will leave a comment and tell us just what she did?? They had a light marinade, red onion, and fresh herbs... and they were so good. I had two big scoops! 

My mom also made two generous platters of roasted veggies. Oh man... SO GOOD. Marinated mushrooms, bell peppers, summer squash, eggplants, fennel, artichoke hearts... so much delicious glory. I make marinated veggies pretty often, but they don't ever turn out this well. My mom knows what she's doing! I think the eggplant might have been my favorite???


I made two vegan lasagnas! The big one was my usual "birthday lasagna" (recipe here) - I added a couple special touches: some pesto stripes on top, and a generous layer of Somer's Fresh Vegan Moxarella. Both fine additions! The smaller lasagna is also vegan and is free of any oil or salt - it came out so well! I made this for my aunt and her partner, who follow a salt-free, oil-free vegan diet. There were just a couple of us who partook of the vegan lasagnas, because my sister-in-law made a big ol' non-vegan lasagna that was the focus of most people's attention. No problemo - this way my aunt and I both got to take home ample lasagna leftovers. Just the way I like it!! 

leftovers for dayssssss
livin' the good life.

Dessert Platter!

For dessert this year, I made a big abundant platter of biscotti, fruits, nuts, and chocolate. Looking at this picture makes me want to dive in again! I made three different kind of biscotti : Almond & Anise Seed, Pine Nut with Orange Zest & Anise Seed, and Almond with Rosemary and Fennel Seeds and Lemon Zest. Whoa! So many amazing flavors! My goodness they were all so delicious. Every year I make biscotti for my parents for a Christmas present, so this year, I brought over and left all the extras behind for them to savor and enjoy! 

I also included mandarin oranges, sliced fuyu persimmons, red grapes, pomegranate arils, and sliced Warren pears. Plus pecans, red walnuts, roasted hazelnuts, and a dark chocolate bar broken into squares. So festive and delicious. What fun! 

* Christmas Morning *

On Christmas morning, Mr VE&T and I always head back over to my parents' house for a waffle breakfast. Sometimes my nephews come too, sometimes my brother shows up, usually my aunt comes over too. It's all very casual and warm and low-key. I always make a big batch of the yeasted Raised Waffles from Vegan Brunch. This recipe is a big hit with everyone, most especially my dad!  

Hoorah! Behold the glory of TWO thrift shop waffle makers! 

This year I got an extra super fun surprise! I always bring over my waffle maker (the white one) and usually my mom has hers out too. This year she didn't have hers out, and I didn't know why! WELL. To make a long story short - she surprised me with a new Belgian waffle maker, something I have wanted for a long time! The best thing is that she got it on sale at the thrift store - for 50% off of $3.99. Score! My mom is a master thrifter, and in fact, my larger white waffle maker is a thrift store find from many years ago - and is still going strong. Such a great Christmas present! 

Maple syrup, tangerine juice, Field Roast breakfast sausages, pure maple syrup, and waffles - Merry Christmas! This is a waffle from my old faithful white waffle maker - it makes four large square waffles.

Belgian Waffles!

These are the waffles from my *new-to-me* Belgian waffle maker - they are round and thick and more moist inside and have big huge holes for catching earth balance and syrup. Yay! We all enjoyed both kinds of waffles! 

We used the timer on my phone to take a waffle selfie! A waffie? A welfie? 

What a fun morning! After waffles, my aunt came over, and we had a mellow and fun exchange of gifties by the Christmas tree. It was very low-key, filled with love, and peaceful and happy. Pretty perfect.


Speaking of gifites! Every year I make a small hand-drawn cookbooklette / zine featuring a few of my favorite recipes of them year - and this year I am going to do a giveaway for 5 lucky blog readers! This is open to anyone in the world! To enter, just leave a comment here and tell me about a cool gift that you gave to someone, or a special gift that someone gave to you... or tell me a waffle story, or whatever! Also, please leave your email address, or a way for me to track you down, or else I will give up and select a different winner! 

I'll be back in a week with a tale of my trip to NYC and to announce the winners! 

Happy New Year to You! 


  1. Anonymous2:13 PM

    Every year I covet one of your zines. This year has been atypical. Hurricane María ravaged PR and I’m not in any mood of celebrating. But.a friend gave me a beautiful marcasite bangle after I told her I didn’t want any gift.
    pepitajobo at cloud d o t com or on IG pepajobo

  2. I knit hats for presents this year! And since we are in the middle of a cold spell- I hope they have come in handy! 😊

  3. Anonymous2:48 PM

    Your Italian Christmas Feast looks amazing! I think the best gift of all is being together with loved ones. I would love one of your cookbooklets. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Anonymous3:09 PM

      P.S. Your mom's beans and roasted veggies look delicious! Hope she will share what she did!

  4. First, I am so glad your dad is recovering well from his surgery! What a scary and overwhelming time that must have been!

    I remember your Christmas Italian Feasts from years past, and this one looks just as delicious! And those Belgian waffles look so good.

    Happy New Year, Amey, to you and your crew!

  5. I love the description of your family's Italian Christmas Feast -- and the photos of all the delicious food! I don't have a waffle story, but we are definitely kindred spirits when it comes to lasagna -- we're making Swiss chard and mushroom lasagna for a little New Year's Eve gathering tomorrow night, and I hope to have lots of leftovers just for me! :)

    And thank you for doing the giveaway! I have one of your cookbooklettes from years ago and would love to have another. Your drawings are amazing, and you always pick the best recipes!

    Happy New Year!! :)

  6. I still have one of your zines from many years ago! You’re so talented! I gifted a friend’s daughter with a sewing machine for her birthday several months ago, and for Chrostmas I received a lovely handmade lavender-scented corn bag from her. Handmade gifts are the best.

  7. Looks like you had a great holiday!! And so glad to hear your dad is doing well.

    This year my brother gave me an amazingly soft and fuzzy blanket. Every time I put it on, I fall asleep. I feel so warm and cozy in it, I think it’s my favorite gift this year! I always enjoy your cookbooklettes...I feel like we have very similar taste!

    Happy new year!!! ☺️❤️

  8. This waffle breakfast thing sounds fabulous! I went through a waffle craving phase in early autumn. I dont have a waffle iron that makes those great belgian waffles though which is unfortunate. There is a Stollen-waffle Revier that i‘d love to try.. anyway, no thrift stores here that would provide me with that sort of tool.

    As for your question: I got chocolates from the great chocolate makers of Das Bernsteinzimmer for almost everyone this year. Apart from treating my family and friends with some of the best chocolate you can get in germany I like that I did support this small local vegan business.

    Have a very happy new years eve and all the best for 2018!

    1. Tip for thrift store searches: be patient and check frequently. The Belgian waffle iron was on Amey's "Thrift Store Wish List" for over a year. I'd been checking regularly, with no luck. Then just a few days before Christmas: BINGO! Very satisfying, and the waffles were great.

  9. I'm usually the worst when it comes to gifts, but this year I had a strange enlightenment on the last moment. My sister's been going through a rough time, quitting uni was hard on her and our parents are not too happy about it either. This combined with the darkest time of the year here up north (sunrise on Christmas day 9:18, sundown at 15:24) has made her relapse into problems with sleep, with her staying awake until 6 and then sleeping until 13:00.. I'm not sure if this was the (medically) correct way to handle this, but to make sure she gets at least some sleep, whenever that may be, I hand-sewed her a sleeping mask. Took me ages (it's been about ten years since I last sewed anything, and even then only for school), but I was happy with the end result. I haven't heard feedback from her yet (she's in another town for the New Year's Eve), but in any case, I'm glad I could come up with a nice surprise.
    Greetings from the tiny Estonia!

  10. Anonymous5:06 PM

    Jacqui -
    I love following you on IG showing your animals,food and yoga poses. Wishing you a very Happy New Year! I didn't do much for Christmas this year. I prefer to give what I can year round.

  11. Anonymous5:35 PM

    oh i was so glad to see that your dad seems to be doing well. That sounds as though it was very scary. Congrats to your brother! Any chance your mom would share her marinated veggie recipe?

    Happy New Year.

    fruitcrmble AT Comcast DOT net

    1. I'm embarrassed to say how easy the roasted veggies are!! I toss them in a mix of olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar, with a bit of salt and pepper and a pinch of rosemary or thyme. Cook at 450, checking every 10 minutes or so, flipping them over so they brown nicely on both or several sides, and remove as they appear to be done (different veggies take different amounts of time.) That's hardly a precise recipe. I initially took my tips from an internet search and just kind of averaged the various approaches that appealed to me.

  12. I am so glad that your dad is doing better.
    I love reading about all your wonderful traditions. That lasagne looks so beautiful, I can't imagine anyone turning a piece down. The decorations are so festive and pretty.
    I recently bought a Belgian Waffle maker, though mine is not round. I haven't used it much, but I am always excited about the prospect of using it!

  13. I have about five waffle makers. Each one I’ve bought for a different phase in my life... like the thick Belgian waffle making phase and the thin waffle sandwich phase. I finally decided I liked them thicker but didn’t like cleaning the iron. So I got the waffle plates for the cuisinart panini maker. Then I bought a second so I could make more of them faster.

  14. I'm glad your dad is recovering well, and congrats to the family on your brother's wedding!
    We did pretty low-key gifting this year, but my gift to my hubs was a hiking day-pack because we love to get outdoors as a family. Looking forward to more of the same in the new year!
    s davis secord @ gmail dot com (no spaces)

  15. My boyfriend and I got to spend Christmas at home with my parents. It was so nice. Plus I got to surprise them with stocking for the first time ever! It was fun to be on that side of Christmas. Happy New Year to you and your family :)

  16. My brother mailed me Carnelian beads to make a mala. That’s my favorite Christmas present. I am glad your dad is recovering. That whole week sounds very stressful. I would love the cookbooklette! It’s so special that you do that.
    Blaine -

  17. Those lasagnas are the most beautiful, festive Christmas entrees I've seen this year! Totally stealing this idea in 2018, since my dad's side of the family hates traditional roasts and what not. They would much prefer a pasta feast any day.

  18. Oh, I loved this post -- reliving the whole Christmas experience in all its wonderful detail, and enjoying leftovers & presents! Polished off the lasagne tonight; enjoying little portions of the fruitcake and biscotti from time to time; Musty's cheeseball and crackers continue to serve for late night snacks; the elderberry syrup is lovely!; all good! Shall we get together for New Year's Eve? XXOO

  19. Oh Amey, I am so glad your Dad is doing well. It's really scary when a parent is unwell, especially as we are all getting older...... wishing you and all of your family a very happy and healthy 2018.
    This year I received some fabulous home made jam from my sister - Strawberry jam which we haven't opened yet, and Mulberry jam with mulberries from their own tree - it is so delicious and perfect for waffles!! I have a Breville waffle maker, but would love a Belgian one too so I can make nice thick, deep waffles.
    I also need to say how much I love your family's Christmas table - so beautifully decorated!! My favourite that I have seen I think.
    Peace and joy to you xxxxx
    miafaletti at gmail dot com

  20. The "coolest" gift I gave to each family member this year, was a special chocolate bar! The cool thing about this chocolate bar (fairafric) is, that it is the first chocolate that is 100% made/produced in africa! It is organic, fair and the whole value creation is performed in ghana! Isn't that fantastic?! As I wrote my bachelors thesis about the cocoa production and market in ghana AND once went to voluntarily work in a charity in ghana (diabetes center) this was not only a "cool" christmas gift, but also a very personal one. I would really love to get one of your precious hand-drawn cookbooklettes and share all the yummie recipes with my friends ! Happy new year!

  21. Anonymous1:30 AM

    I just LOVED spending christmas with my parents for the first time in four years ����❤️ Now I look forward to new years eve with the best of friends ���� HAPPY new year to you and your loved ones Amey ✨ Love Gitte - Denmark ����

  22. I am so sorry to hear about your dad, but I am so glad he is recovering well!! We did something cool this year and surprised my mom on her 60th birthday, which is 5 days before Christmas! She was so happy to have her kids together. I will never forget the look on her face when my brother and I walked into the room.

  23. Those lasagnas are so, so beautiful! Great job! Of course, everything else looks delicious too.

    This year basically all the Christmas gifts we have were foodie gift baskets I made up my self. Some with snacks, some with bbq sauces and fancy salts, some with coffee and tea and for my I. Laws, a romantic night in with artisan pasta and sauce and infused oil and wine. Everything locally made too.

    We also gave my niece a snowmobile that my husband painted pink and made a bright purple seat cushion for. It is glorious.

  24. All the dishes you prepared look amazing and the desert platter is an excellent idea. I have to remember it for any future parties. :) Regarding the best gift I have received this year, it is definitely the photo album my dad made of all the adventures we had this year. I love looking at all the photos. (

  25. It looks like you had such a fun time celebrating! That lasagna you made looks incredible!! And I love the dessert tray with the biscotti!

  26. Anonymous7:46 AM

    I loved reading all about your holiday celebrations--fabulous food pictures!

    A thoughtful gift I've been enjoying so much: a warm, beautiful (red, green, yellow, magenta, blue) crocheted beanie from my mother-in-law!


  27. I'm so glad your dad is recovering. That had to be scary!
    I'd say my favorite gifts every year are usually the homemade ornaments my little family of 4 makes for each other. This year, my daughter made me cry with a paw print she made of my Lily, who passed away in October. Just so very sweet and special.

    Happy New Year and thank you for all you do. <3

  28. So love your dessert platter, your enthusiasm for “new to me” items, your family traditions, and your wonderful attitude about folks preferring the regular lasagna (leaving leftovers for you!). So fun! For my 60th birthday, I had the good fortune to go to Japan and had the trip of a lifetime. One of our tour guides just gave me the gift of wishing me a Happy New Year by addressing me as “Weber san”. San is an intimate honorific title that just made my heart sing. It fondly reminds me of the way Hawaiian children would call me “Auntie.” So warm and friendly! Praying for a world where we all extend love and respect to each other.

  29. This all looks yummy and best wishes to your Dad for his recovery! How about the recipe for the white beans too, Mum? :D

    I gave my partner a sweet portrait of our old man cat, George, this Christmas as he has kitty renal failure and I wanted to make sure that we have a lovely keepsake to always remember him :)

    (jennyg2207 at gmail dot com)

  30. We got a waffle iron too! Actually two! There was a Christmas mix up, so we are thinking about keeping both so we can tag team the waffle making on holidays.

    Hope your father's recovery goes well.

  31. Once again, my sister gave me a "Cat Lovers Against the Bomb" calendar, back in a retro version for 2018, which is how I love it!

    1. PS Best wishes for your father's full and rapid recovery. He looks like he's doing very well.

    2. It looks like my leading comment didn't come through. One of my favorite gifts was from my sister: a "Cat Lovers Against the Bomb" calendar, available again in its original/retro style for 2018.

  32. Anonymous3:21 PM

    One year I received Isa Chandra Moskowitz cookbooks for xmas and my hands down favorite was Vegan Brunch mostly because of all the waffle recipes.Her Peanut Butter waffles are amazing:)Julie

  33. Oh my, that was an intense December you've had! So glad to see your dad is recovering well. My dad also had an unexpected quadruple bypass surgery a few years ago, and I remember that the worst, for him, was having to take it easy for the first few weeks after surgery… but I can say that if your dad is anything like mine, he will soon be back to his usual level of activity!

    A funny gift I gave this year was to my nephew: he got a pair of mittens with two left hands! He had asked for a very warm pair of mittens, and I had decided to knit him two pairs: a thin one, and another in a thicker yarn (layers are warmer, and more versatile with all the ups and downs our winter temps have been doing these past few years!). Thing is, I was sick during all of December and, seeing that I'd only be able to finish two mittens, I decided to knit the left hand of both pairs, so that he could at least see what the whole gift would be like, and we'd get to have a bit of fun! Now to knit the two right hands before this winter is over…

  34. Anonymous8:31 PM

    Those platters all look delicious! I remember that candleholder with the apples and love it. Is it a family heirloom or was it purchased in Europe? I’d love to have one. So glad your dad is better. I gifted a friend good health and a pain-free start to 2018 by purchasing him chiropractic treatments. His neck is really bad and his insurance doesn’t cover it. Life’s too short to be in constant pain. Happy New Year! Thanks for the giveaway!

  35. Yay!! What a fun Xmas time!!! I love the Italian dinner theme, and that lasagna with the pesto stripes is gorgeous. :-) Also that dessert platter looks heavenly. Love the idea of snacky dessert. And yay for the new waffle maker!

  36. I really want lasagna! Our family just hunkered down and hid out at home this year.
    My youngest son is battling brain cancer and we’re all just exhausted, so Christmas day we just
    ate snacks and desserts. I think pie for breakfast is just perfect when you’re tired and hungry. My son
    recently discovered Grumpy Cat, so he received a snuggly stuffed one with a hat that says Ho Ho No. ��

  37. I just bought a mini waffle silicone mould and I can't wait to make cute mini waffles! They will be so easy to eat - no need for cutlery!


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