Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Festivus to All and to All a Good Night!

Festivus is here again!  I didn't do much in the way of celebration.  I'm home alone for the holidays.  Boo.  The yay is that I'm getting a lot done.  I probably should do some writing or something, but I'd rather spend my days watching Dexter and stocking the freezer.  That's just how I roll, yo!

So the holidays always remind me of home.  This year has been a bit fractured, but usually I'd go to my parents house for Christmas.  A long time ago, they stopped making Christmas dinner because of how exhausted they were with the gift buying.  Our Christmas dinner is basically a tapas night...but with way more food.  I quite like that Martin tradition.

So yeah it sucks to be by myself, but it's a great excuse to make a bunch of food to snack on for the week (and freeze) and have a holiday movie marathon.  So far I've watched a good mix of classic Christmas movies, humorous ones, and Christmas horror.  The best gem I've discovered so far is Santa's Slay.  Too funny.

I know most of you have had your holiday parties, but in case you are looking for some ideas for NYE, here's a list of ideas for things that I'm thinking of making.

Vegetable tray with some sorta spread.  I'm torn between making a hummus or trying to get ingredients for the Kale Tofu Spread from 500 Vegan Recipes.  I couldn't find kale anywhere this week!

Vegan deviled eggs using my revamped deviled tofu recipe found in this entry.  This is a definite for me.

Tamales.  I love them, but hate hate hate to make them.  So tedious.

Mini pizzas.  Era picked up some Daiya when he went to LA last week.  I'm at the point where it seems completely reasonable to spend 40 bucks on the 5 pounder.  This stuff is like crack to me.  I'm sprinkling it on ever'thang!

Vegan Bailey's.  I'm gonna make a recipe from one of those top secret recipe thingies.  It says it should last two months in the fridge.  Does alcohol seriously slow spoilage like that?  I dunno.  Bailey's was never my thing, but I'm super intrigued.

Fruit tray with cherries and persimmons.  Maybe grapes.  What can I say?  All of these are the shiz!

Coooookies.  Right now it's all VCIYCJ all the time.  I'm making those choc chip chai shortbread cookies and probably something involving ginger.

Uppin' the game cheeze tray.  Yeah.  This will happen.  Not sure on the cheeze, but I know it will have the Italian Feast Sausages from Vegan Brunch on it.  I'm thinking slices of sausage pierced with pretzels (or as I like to call them: edible toothpicks), some crackers, deli mustard, and a cheese of some kind.

And you can't go wrong with chips and queso.  I know there are, like, a gazillion queso recipes and here's mine.  I'm still working on a sausage variation.

Not Yo Cheeze Sauce
2 cups water
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp mild chili powder
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt (more or less to taste)

2 Tbsp margarine
2 tsp brown deli mustard (stone ground works too but adds flecks of brown)
1/2 cup of your favorite red salsa

In a blender combine water, nutritional yeast, flour, garlic clove, and spices. Blend until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and heat on medium high, stirring frequently with a whisk. When thickened, remove from heat and stir in the margarine and mustard. Stir in the salsa and heat until warmed through. Makes about 3 cups.

Happy Holidays everybody!  I hope it's a joyous one.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mission: Secret Santa

I have a fever, y'all, and the only cure is makin' gift baskets!  Seriously, it's a sickness.  I get it from my mama.  She kinda started the whole thing.  It's a cheap way to make things look like a million bucks.  I think you know by now that I don't believe in blowing money when I can take five minutes to really think about who a person is and try to encapsulate that in a basket.  Ha ha.  I'm mostly just a really, really cheap person.

I've done some form of gift basket every year since I was 23 or so.  It started super small.  Just throwing some books or something in a basket and getting that shrink wrap bag from the dollar store.  Then I started having these crazy sessions where I'd bake for two days straight and do an assembly line thing.  One year I made baskets for all 13 members of the comedy troupe I was in.  Another time, I made dessert and breakfast baskets for some coworkers.  As I type this, there is curling ribbon everywhere because I'm about to make some stuff for a fundraiser tomorrow.

Today's mission: find a suitable gift for a doctor I hadn't met before lunchtime today.  Price: $25.  I started by asking what kind of stuff he likes.  All I got from the ladies at my internship was that he likes books.  Dammit.  I'd have to get a gift card.  Those are so...impersonal.  But not if it's wrapped in a gift basket!

First I got some things from the dollar store (basket, curling ribbon, garland, cards, etc):

All of this was 8 bucks (exceptin' the gift cards), but I only used 5 bucks worth of stuff.  Then I decided to add some cuteness to it.  Check out this card!  The tree is eating the gift cards.  I took some tea I had in my house and wrapped them with ribbon.

Next, I thought long and hard about what to make.  I made the choc chip cookies, sugar cookies, and gingerbread biscotti from VCIYCJ.  I made Cheesy Quackers for the tin, but decided to keep them for myself.  Hee hee.  The doctor got pretzels instead!  I wrapped all of it up nice and purty like.

Then I put everything into the basket.  The basket includes 6 different types of tea, the aforementioned cookies and pretzels, and some chocolate peppermint coffee that I got from Target for $1.  Check that dollar section when you walk into the store.  You find some gems for sure!

This last pic is kinda crappy, but I was running late to my internship.  I couldn't find the shrink wrap bag and didn't feel like weaving through the people at the dollar store so I just got this gingerbead one instead.

And there you have it!  It's a fun and pretty easy way to personalize a gift card.  Just use your supreme baking or crafty skills and 5 bucks.  And nothing goes better with some books than gingerbread biscotti and English breakfast tea!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Who Likes to Rock the Party?

So, how's it goin?  It's been a while.  I've been holding off on blogging because I don't have any complete thoughts right now.  I do have a bunch of small thoughts, which I will gladly share with you in listy format...sorta.

Last weekend we had some people over and I have something else to add to the vegan tested, omni approved category: that raw cashew cheese au poivre I've talked about fanatically (again, I used water instead of rejuvelac)!  It was the talk of the night.  They barely even touched the dairy cheese, but demolished the vegan stuff.  I don't think I'm gonna purchase dairy cheese for parties anymore.  Even though Era's a pescatarian, he rarely eats cheese and a party is completely possible without it.  The past several parties have proven that omnis seem to like my vegan cheese ballz and spreads better anyway.  Hee hee.

Last night we went to a party/fundraiser for the school Era teaches at.  Two cool party ideas I picked up: place food in multiple parts of the house and decorate with wine bottles.  I usually just throw some chips in the living room and keep the rest of the stuff in the kitchen, but they did a good job of putting a bit of everything in all the conversational hot zones.  It was very welcoming.  And because they were having a wine and beer type atmosphere, wine bottles were placed on shelves and tables throughout the house because they didn't have a bar.  If you wanted to open a new bottle, you just brought it to the kitchen and opened it.  Love that idea!

I recently bought a Pro Bar on a whim while at the grocery store.  It's a meal replacement bar.  I managed to devour the cherry pretzel one.  SO effing good.  My latest mission is to see if I could somehow recreate it at home.  I just can't justify three bucks for a bar that I could make at home.  But this was good...a bunch of seeds and nuts, dried cherries, chocolate chunks, pretzels, peanut butter, etc.  Mmm.

In completely asstastic news, I shopped while hungry (I know) and finally picked up these herb dijon breasts by Gardein.  I'd been eyeing them for awhile.  Unfortunately, they were so freaking horrible that I don't know if I could buy anything from them again.  The texture was great.  The flavor was vile!  It tasted nothing like mustard...just saucy and bitter.  Blech.  Era tried the bbq one and said it was horrible too.  Boo to that.

That's all for now.  I have a ton of new cookbooks that I haven't talked about yet.  I just bought 500 Vegan Recipes and Authentic Chinese Cuisine for the Contemporary Kitchen.  So excited about these!  My tester copy of VCIYCJ came in a few weeks ago so I'll talk about that sometime this week.  Also this week, I'm gonna be talking about holiday plans and party stuff.  Cuz I like to rock the party!  One more week until winter break.  Hell yes.