Monday, December 31, 2018

Festive Holiday Eats & Annual Cookbooklette Giveaway!


Happy Holidays to You!
Happy belated winter-festivity of choice! Happy New Year! 

I've had a full and festive holiday season - cooking up homemade gifts, baking cookies for my yoga students, drawing and writing my holiday cards, drawing my annual cookbooklette (giveaway at teh the end of this post!), packing up packages and standing in line at the post office, decorating the house, hosting a holiday craft party, and lots more! I suppose now it's all winding down, and it's basically time to pack it all back up again! ha ha. 

Christmas Craft Party!
We had our annual Holiday Craft Party - it was so fun. We had a few super fun friends over to eat dinner, decorate gingerbread cookies, make paper snowflakes, and play with pipe cleaners. Good clean fun! 

Hummus Bites // Broccoli Soup // Farinata

For appetizers, I made a big platter of cuke slices with homemade hummus. I sprinkled them with some dukkah and then topped them with a tomato slice. Holiday colors, but healthy and light! 

For dinner, I made one of my favorite soups of all time - the Broccoli Soup with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Creme from the Real Food Daily Cookbook. This soup literally calls for 3 lbs of broccoli. And a huge ton of fresh spinach. It's so good for you, and it's also SO GOOD. It's one of my favorite dinners when I want something really satisfying and emotionally rewarding, but also healthy. Since we were going to be eating lots of cookies, I figured I had better make a dinner that wasn't too much of a gut bomb! ha ha. 

One of my best pals is gluten-free, so I decided to make a big batch of farinata (aka torta di ceci, aka socca). I used the recipe that my friend Nicoletta's mom gave me years ago... and, um, you guys, it was SO GOOD. I *literally* teared up when I took a bite!! Ha ha ha. I don't think I've ever had that reaction to food before, but this stuff is so nostalgic for me, I just love it so much. Here are some posts I've written about it in the past:  cinque cinque sandwiches from Italy, and recreation from home.



Look at all these cookie decorators!! 
I made a ginormous slew of gingerbread cookies, four colors of frosting, got out all the sprinkles, and made other cookies for us to eat while we were hard at work. Ha ha. It was so fun. I just love friendly fun like this - chatting, laughing, goofing around. It was a wonderful evening. If you look at the bottom of the frame, somewhere in the middle, you'll see the weird and hilarious grumpy little cookie man that Mr. VE&T decorated. Ha ha ha. Omg it made me laugh so hard. It was the only cookie he made! He blamed it on all French noir tv show he was watching!


festive supplies:
Fancy little chocolates with sprinkles on them, spice drops, two kinds of gluten free cookies (Snickerdoodles from Oh She Glows, and Ginger Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies from Plant Crush). I made so many gingerbread people, and I made a batch of gluten free gingerbread people too (on the small tray). I always use the recipe for Lower-Fat Gingerbread Men from The Joy of Cooking. It's easy to veganize and it's a really fantastic recipe. I really recommend it! 


Christmas Eve Dinner!

In our family we've always had our big family holiday dinner on Christmas Eve at my parents' house. A few years ago we decided to mix it up and we switched to an Italian-inspired Christmas theme. It's so fun! We all love it. See how my mom makes such a beautiful holiday display on the table? She made some beautiful platters of veggie antipasti - olives, eggplant, fennel, peppers, squash. Man, does she have the magic touch. My aunt Laura made a beautiful salad with pears and nuts and grapes. It was so delicious! I never put fruit in my salads, it was such a fancy touch.


Lasagne!

For our main course, we have lasagna! Is there anything more festive than lasagna?? One of my all-time most favorite foods. My brother's wife made a non-vegan lasagna, which shan't be mentioned again. I made TWO vegan lasagnas, using my own recipe (link here) - the smaller one is a vegan "SOS-free" lasagna, which means it has no oil and no salt (and no sugar). My aunt and her partner are vegan and they also eat a SOS-free diet. It's not much work to make an extra lasagna for them while I'm making my own, and I want them to feel included in the lasagna-fest!! 



My Christmas Dinner! 


Buccellati!

For dessert, I asked my Italian friend Sara for some traditional Italian Christmas dessert ideas, and one of her suggestions was these cookies called "Buccellati" (also called "Cucciddati"). She sent me a recipe in Italian, which I scanned and then also ran through Google Translate just to make sure. One of the ingredients in the batter that I was confused about was "ammonia" - baking ammonia!! I quickly ordered some on Amazon. What a crazy ingredient. I read about it online. Apparently ammonia was a common leavener before the invention of baking powder. It can only be used in doughs that aren't very moist, because it needs to evaporate during baking. But, while it bakes, it expands and makes little air pockets, resulting in an incredibly light and crispy cookie. 

It was quite a gutsy move to make such an adventurous dessert for the very first time for everyone's Christmas! ha ha. 


ta-da!

But I'm delighted to say that they turned out AMAZING. We all loved them! I'll definitely make them again! There are many different variations on the filling - I made the one filling in the recipe that my friend sent me, and I used a filling that my friend My Zoetrope generously shared with me from her grandmother! Looking around online, I see that there are infinite variations of filling for these cookies, but they all have dried figs, raisins, nuts of some sort, spices, maybe some orange zest, maybe some alcohol... but you can really do it to your own liking. 

The cookies are meant to have icing and sprinkles, but for a more sophisticated look (and to use what I already had on hand), I used sparkling sugar for the cookies that didn't have chocolate in the filling, and demerra sugar for the cookies that did have chocolate in them. We still have a few of these cookies left over and to our amazement, they still taste just as good this many days later. I chalk it all up to that secret ingredient of ammonia in the dough! 

If you're interested, I could share the recipe I used in a future post. But you'll have to track down some ammonia! Let me know. 


Christmas Morning Waffle Breakfast!

the gang's all here!

On Christmas morning, we all gathered at my parents's house again for a waffle breakfast. I made a double batch of the raised waffles from Vegan Brunch (our family favorite!), and my mom made a huge batch of Field Roast breakfast sausages. There ended up being some non-vegan offerings on the table too, but it was a very vegan friendly affair, and I feel lucky to have such a cool family to roll with the vegan punches! 


a few Christmas pics of our sweet little gang enjoying the holidays. 


Tasty Christmas Gifties! 

One of my pals stopped by on Christmas Eve and brought me this beautiful platter of vegan cookies!!! Isn't this amazing!?? I don't think I've ever in all my life had someone make me a big festive platter of vegan cookies like this before. I got so emotional. There were so many great cookies - peanut butter, ginger, fudge, wedding cookies, a fruity oat bar, and some chocolate coconut tasty biz. Plus fancy teas and little chocolates. Isn't it glorious!?


Over at the PPK, we had a holiday swap and I got one of my favorite swap pals from Munich. She and I were swap partners for a similar exchange several years ago, so we already knew that we were both committed to sending some seriously abundant packages. I asked for fun Euro Snacks, and BOY did she deliver!!! This vast supply of sweeties and savories should keep me going for quite a while!! ha ha. 


Homemade truffles
Swoon! Several of my students brought me delicious treats for gifts, and I wish I had taken more pictures. What a lucky teacher! But I did snap a picture of these amazing homemade truffles. Holy bonkers these were delicious!! I am so impressed. 



*** COOKBOOKLETTE GIVEAWAY! ***
  

This year's edition of my annual holiday cookbooklette features several of my favorite recipes that I discovered this year (and a few old favorites too!). I'd like to give out 10 copies to you all, my trusted and loyal blog readers. I'm especially impressed if you've actually read all through this long post, and if you've even bothered to check my blog after I unintentionally took such a long break!!

10 winners! Open to anyone, anywhere, in the whole world! To enter just leave a nice comment on this post - tell me about your holidays, a winter tradition you enjoy, or what you're looking forward to in the new year... (and PLEASE leave your email if your blogger account isn't linked, so I can tell you if you've won!). Good luck! 



29 comments:

  1. <3 you are awesome and an inspiration! Thank you for sharing all of your knowledge with us.

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  2. All of the food looks delicious. I especially like the photo of the grumpy gingerbread boy! Happy New Year!

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    1. ha ha ha. isn't it hilarious!! :)

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  3. I laughed out loud at the grumpy gingerbread person and scared my cat (Panda)! He was similarly grumpy.

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    1. hee hee hee. Mr. VE&T is hilarious. :)

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  4. Happy Holidays to you! I look forward to this festive roundup every year! This Christmas was my first away from my family, so I had to make some new traditions for myself. It ended up being a really lovely couple of days. So glad to hear you've had a wonderful, friends and family-filled holiday season.

    lydiarosewebster@gmail.com

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    1. oh, i'm so glad you made the most of a new situation and were able to enjoy your time. Happy New Year! <3

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  5. I love your blog but don't often post. So grateful for your generosity in taking the time to post and inspire us- my apologies for being a lurker but not actively engaging!

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    1. Lurkers are always welcome! <3 Happy New Year!

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  6. You have so much beautiful vegan abundance. I love it so much. Happy New Year! blaine@yogahivecolorado.com

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    1. Happy New Year - here's to your big fitness year ahead!

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  7. Made Thanksgiving mushroom and squash Wellington and Christmas Wellington with a varied array of mushrooms. They were a great hit. Once you've made your first one they're really not so hard to do! Happy New Year!!!Thanks, Kathleen

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    1. Whoa!!! that sounds so fun and fancy!!

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  8. Liz S.5:36 PM

    Your blog is so inspiring, Amey! And I especially look forward to reading up on your holiday recipes :-) Thank you for all of your amazing pictures, recipes, and great stories!

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    1. Aw, Thanks Liz!! <3 Here's to a year of delicious eats and lots of fun!

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  9. Happy New Year, Amey!!! I always look forward to reading about your family Christmas celebrations -- and all of the delicious food and fun activities. :) In 2019, I'm really looking forward to getting back into a regular yoga practice (I've missed it!). And I'd love to win one of your cookbooklettes! You pick the best recipes, and your lovely drawings always make me smile! (I particularly love Footie in the one above. :)) Thanks!!

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    1. <3 <3 <3 Thanks Beth! I hope you can find a good and realistic rhthym with your practice. <3

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  10. I absolutely love the fact that your friend gave you such a beautiful cookie/treats platter. I would have gotten emotional too. It's such a sweet and thoughtful gift. Also, love the idea of the waffle breakfast!! Thank you for all you do and for the chance to win one of your cookbooklettes. Happy New Year!! aimeesavon@hotmail.com

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  11. jenny1:38 PM

    I love this post! Full of festivities and delicious looking food. Definitely worth waiting for. Happy New Year! jstan321@yahoo.com

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  12. I always love reading and seeing photos of your family get togethers. This year my parents weren’t able to come out for Christmas and it just didn’t feel the same. Happy New Year Amey! ❤️

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  13. Anonymous12:56 AM

    Lovely post. Sadly, we don't have much family left anymore, so my best friend and I spent the holidays with friends instead. A big potluck, mostly vegan, at a friend's house, then a get together at an old-fashioned pizza place (The Original Pizza Cookery) that has an extensive vegan menu because they don't want to exclude anyone (love places like that!). Then as a splurge dining out at a new vegan italian place for 'Spaghetti Carbonara', and the next day at a vegan cajun place for gumbo and beignets. How wonderful that there are so many options these days!
    Happy New Year, from Celestine at twocvas@gmail.com

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  14. this was a wonderful recap of the season! My favorite holiday tradition is baking cookies to give away tins and platters to friends, neighbors, family members and the local homeless shelter.

    I had to cut back a little due to an injury but was still able to make enough to spread some joy :)

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  15. My family does a "Mexican Christmas Eve" which pretty much came about because my Aunt bought a pinata one year. Sadly, Christmas Eve has been spent with my husband's side of the family, but I keep saying if we ever hosted it, it would be all food from Vida Vegan. But I doubt that would happen any time soon.

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  16. i love reading about your gatherings and all the great food you had and shared - it always brings a smile to my face - thanks.

    i would love to see the cookie recipe if you would care to post in the future.

    fruitcrmble AT comcast DOT neg

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  17. As always, your posts make me smile, thanks for spreading the vegan love. It was a peaceful holiday for us this year, I let go of the forced traditions that don't feel authentic. We celebrated the solstice with friends, the power went out so the candle light made it all the more special! Happy New Year to you and your furry friends. flipsidegrillak AT gmail

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  18. I'm absolutely over the moon about your latest and greatest cookbooklet! Of course, they're all special and magical, but THIS just beats all. Seeing Luka rendered in your adorable illustrations is even better than seeing my recipes featured. I wish I could frame that page. <3

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  19. Anonymous5:16 PM

    The only thing funnier than that gingerbread face is that Mr. VE&T blamed it on watching French noir!

    I love your blog, its upbeat voice, your wonderful food-filled gatherings with lovely friends and family, and most of all the doodles. The only thing that could get me to comment! jqohssqpd1tb-at-opayq.com

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  20. Everything looks amazing.Love those cookie boards.We do a tradition of Christmas eve pizza and Christmas movies.Mss50099@yahoo.com

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