The Great CriFSMas Food Roundup, 2012 edition!

December 30th, 2012 2:55 pm by Kelly Garbato

2012-12-22 - Gift Cookies - 0003

A basket of chai cookies, oatmeal cream pies, and eggnog cookies for our neighbors.
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You guys, I did so much baking this holiday season! Instead of buying my family the customary vegan treats from etsy, I had the bright idea to make everything my own bad self. (“Make everyone’s presents by hand, she said. It’ll be fun, she said.” reads a mid-December entry in my journal.) Several weeks and a dozen or so batches of cookies later, and I am wiped out. Good thing I have extra cookies to keep me going, eh?

Many of the recipes are from Kelly Peloza’s The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, which I’m quickly growing to love. My mom gave it to me a Christmas or two ago, but given my awful track record with cookies and other baked sweets, I hadn’t gotten much use out of it. (Until now!)

Much to my surprise, everything came out wonderfully! Not a single burned cookie in the bunch. I think the secret is in the parchment paper. I’ve been resistant to using the stuff in the past, because it feels like I’m wasting paper or something. But it really works! Pro tip: as long as they haven’t picked up any cookie residue, you can reuse sheets of parchment paper several times to save money and resources. This is especially helpful if you’re baking multiple batches of cookies in a single day.

Without further ado, here’s a rundown of all the holiday goodies to pass through my kitchen (and gullet! yay the imagery!) this month. Mostly cookies, but also fancy nuts, truffles, ice cream, pizza, and pasta!

 

2012-12-15 - VCC Chewy Spiced Molasses - 0013

Chewy Spiced Molasses Cookies from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur (page 228) – Mine didn’t come out quite as plump and chewy as the ones pictured in the book, but I think that’s because I made the cookies a little smaller than suggested.

Actually, that was a trend pretty much across the board – I ended up with more, slightly smaller cookies vs. fewer, larger cookies (the latter being the norm for me). It was all good though, because the smaller cookies were a better fit for the tupperware I used to pack and ship them. Score!

Chewy or not, these were still super-delish, though not nearly as nommy as some of the other cookies I tried.

 

2012-12-15 - VCC Mexican Hot Chocolate - 0015

Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur (page 25) – Hot chocolate in cookie form! These were soooo good – soft and chewy and just the right amount of chocolaty – but not super-hot, which I liked. If your heat tolerance is more impressive than mine (or even just mildly impressive, period), you might want to add a little more cayenne to the mix.

 

2012-12-15 - VCC Eggnog Cookies - 0004

Eggnog Cookies from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur (page 18) – These are by far the most seasonal cookies of the bunch – and, seeing as they require vegan nog, Christmas is probably the only time of the year you can make ’em! (Unless you’re super-crafty and capable of making your own damn vegan nog, in which case you should totally come and live at my place.)

As if these cookies aren’t amazing enough on their own (and they are! the batter is so rich and creamy, it almost looks like buttercream!), they’re topped with a tasty rum icing. If you really want to dress them up, sprinkle the tiniest bit of nutmeg on the icing before it sets. I did this with the second batch of cookies (not pictured above) and it made them look that much more sophisticated.

 

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White Russian Cookies from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur (page 34) – With coffee AND Kahlua (yes it’s vegan!) for an extra festive holiday kick. These are supposed to be topped with chocolate shavings, but I was afraid the delicate chocolate bits would melt during shipping, so I skipped this part. If the cookies look a little naked, that’s why.

 

2012-12-21 - VCC Chai Cookies (Again!) - 0010

Chai Cookies from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur (page 17) – These are the best thing I put in my mouth all month! Seriously, they taste just like chai tea – and you know how much I love my chai. (Hint: in all the ways.)

Even though the ingredient list looks a little intimidating, these are super-easy to make. They also received the most compliments from the recipients: my mum and sis both voted it their favorite cookie, and one grandmother gave it an honorable mention (the eggnog cookies took top honors). Although – and I don’t know what to make of this – more than one person mistook them for gingerbread cookies. Seeing as the dogs were the only ones to receive gingerbread-flavored treats, this caused no small amount of confusion. (“Michelle, you do know that the bone-shaped cookies are for Shayla, right?”)

 

2012-12-16 - VJF Choc Mint Whoopie Pies - 0013

Chocolate Mint Whoopie Pies from Lane Gold’s Vegan Junk Food (page 182) – Mint is Christmasy, right? While these pies are yummy, they came out a little on the cakey side. Also, the batter is sticky and hard to flatten – resulting in some very tall, domed cookies! (Am I making sense here?) You’ll need a big mouth to bite into these pies, is what I’m saying. (Luckily…)

 

2012-12-21 - VCC Oatmeal Cream Pies - 0012

Oatmeal Cream Pies from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur (page 111) – These cookie sammies, on the other hand, came out PERFECTLY. The dough is a little drier, so you can roll and flatten it by hand. As it just so happens, this makes all the difference – the cookies come out large and flat and perfect for stacking. Plus, both the oatmeal cookies and creamy filling are crazy good on their own. I’d like to try a batch of these with some mini chocolate chips in the cookies. Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cream Pies, mmmmmm.

Pro tip: Don’t be a glutton and make extra frosting for the sammies; try to overfill it, and the cream will just leak out of the sides of the pies. Learn from my mistake!

 

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Chinese Sweet Walnuts from Donna Klein’s The Chinese Vegan Kitchen (page 27) – Walnuts baked to sweet, cinnamony perfection – that about sums it up!

 

2012-12-13 - VJF Sweet & Spicy Nuts - 0014

Sweet and Spicy Nut Mix from Vegan Junk Food (page 141) – I had to buy Wasabi Peas especially for this recipe – that should give you an idea of how averse I am to spicy foods. Nevertheless, I really liked this mix; it’s a little on the hot side, but still tolerable. If you like your nuts especially fiery (tee hee), sprinkle in a little more cayenne.

By the way, these fancy nut mixes? They make a slightly healthier snack gift idea thingie for people who shouldn’t be eating cookies. Dad, I’m looking at you.

 

2012-12-13 - VJF Candied Almonds - 0001

Easy Candied Almonds from Vegan Junk Food (page 141) – This was my sole failure of the month. Kind of deflating and not a little puzzling, since it’s described as “easy” (it’s right there in the title!). I tried two batches of these candied almonds, each of which came out differently: in the first (left), the sugar crystallized and then even crumbled a bit, while in the second it stayed sticky and smooth. Honestly, I’m not sure which is right! The crystallized sugar is easier to eat (obvs!), but the sticky almonds are way prettier.

Anyway, this was supposed to go to my mom, but I ended up keeping it. Looks weird, tastes good!

 

2012-12-13 - VJF Oreo Chocolate Truffles - 0009

Oreo (really Newman O’s) Chocolate Truffles from Vegan Junk Food (page 175) – Smooth, melty chocolate surrounding a center of ground cookies mixed with cream cheese. It kind of goes without saying, but these were a huge hit with my mom and sis.

 

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Gingerbread Bones for the dogs! Not mine, though they got the leftovers – rather, my sister’s corgi Shayla and my mom’s kids, Copper and Hash.

Not the best recipe I’ve ever tried – the dough is a little dry and crumbly and hard to work with – but I made it work. Copper especially loved them – when I was one the phone with the fam, he kept nosing through the boxes in search of his treats. Ruff, ruff.

 

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LEFTOVERS! (Spoiler alert: they’re long gone.)

 

2012-12-16 - Gifts for the family - 0009

Gifts for my family! Most of the cookies went to my grandmothers and, since I was already sending her some fruit leather and dog treats, I included a mini “cookie sampler” in my sister’s package as well.

It was difficult to find the perfect tupperware to safely ship cookies; what we ended up with was deep and required much vertical cookie stacking. Instead of just packing them loose, I came up with these makeshift “cookie sleeves” using festive red plastic wrap. Each stack was tied off with a black string (easier to work with than ribbons!) and had a tag with the cookie’s name on it. And of course I printed out recipes in case anyone wanted to make their own cookies!

We also got my parents a Netflix subscription as well as a few Roku boxes so they could actually watch it on their televisions. Also, for my dad: a LifeStraw for the coming apocalypse and, for mom, a copy of Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson. (Also: one for me. Mom isn’t the only one with an unused slow cooker gathering dust in the pantry!)

 

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2012-12-24 - VSC Pizza Puttanesca - 0007

Speaking of Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker, we finally broke in our crock pot on Christmas Eve with – what else? – pizza! Pizza Puttanesca, to be precise. Both the sauce (kalamata olives!) and crust (so light and airy!) are delicious, though I was a little disappointed to learn that it only serves two. I want leftovers, dammit!

Shane made this one, and reports that it wasn’t any more or less difficult than pizza baked in the oven. For those of you who are wondering why on earth anyone would make pizza in the crock pot, Robertson actually includes a list of pros in her book. To wit: crock pot pizza helps you avoid heating up the kitchen during the summer, as is also a bonus for those who don’t own an oven. College kids represent!

 

2012-12-24 - Gingerbread Nog Shake - 0007

To wash it down, I had a Gingerbread Nog Shake (or float, if you prefer). A soup mug full of coconut milk So Delicious Nog with two (okay, three!) scoops of homemade Gingerbread Ice Cream. SO GOOD, though all the sugar knocked me on my ass right quick. I could barely keep my eyes open during Black Christmas.

 

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2012-12-25 - Stuffed Spinach Manicotti - 0009

Last but certainly not least: Christmas dinner was stuffed spinach & mushroom manicotti, with tofu ricotta from Veganomicon. I made it a day beforehand and just popped it in the oven after we got back from seeing Django Unchained. Yay to meal planning!

Initially I was going to make the usual lasagna, but realized at the last minute that I DIDN’T HAVE ANY LASAGNA. I know, go me. Instead I decided to break out the manicotti that’s been stashed in the pantry for years now. There was a handy-dandy stuffed manicotti recipe on the back of the box (Barilla!) that was easy to veganize. Plus the assembly took half the time of lasagna – score!

Just because I love you, here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

 

Stuffed Spinach & Mushroom Manicotti

Ingredients

8 ounces (1 box) Manicotti
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces mushrooms (canned or fresh), chopped into smallish pieces
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
4 tablespoons warm water + 1 tablespoon Ener-G egg replacer, beat until fluffy (or the vegan equivalent of two eggs)
~16 ounces vegan ricotta (I used the recipe in Veganomicon)
1 tablespoon basil
1 teaspoon salt
~24 ounces tomato sauce
Mozzarella Daiya cheese

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Cook the manicotti according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse in cool water; set aside.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender (or browned) to your liking. Add the garlic and cook for several more minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook for an additional five minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

4. Prepare the vegan egg substitution. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the “eggs” with the ricotta, basil, and salt. Stir in the spinach/mushroom mixture.

5. Pour about a cup of the sauce onto the bottom of a 9″x12″ (or similar) baking dish, swishing it around until the dish is coated. Fill the manicotti with the spinach/mushroom/ricotta mixture (gently!), placing each stuffed manicotti in the baking dish as you go. Pour the remaining sauce on top of the shells; sprinkle liberally with Daiya cheese. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350F for 40 minutes, then remove the foil and broil until the cheese is melted.

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10 Responses to “The Great CriFSMas Food Roundup, 2012 edition!”

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    […] I might have made spaghetti pie for Christmas dinner! Oh well. Next year, maybe? (Besides, the stuffed manicotti was awesome, so no complaints […]

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    […] adopts them will for serious be entitled to a box of vegan cookies hand made by moi. Dog lady’s […]

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    […] in advance, and pop in it the oven when your stomach starts threatening to grumble. Easy peasy!) Stuffed pasta. Spaghetti pie. Lasagna. Herbed rice. Baked French toast. And now: Baked Vegetable Soup, courtesy of […]

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    […] is spring, so I’m either a bit early or five months too late. Whatever, I do what I want. Like eat ice cream on Christmas! Yeah, I said […]

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    […] made vegan Ricotta – that would be last Christmas, when I stuffed Isa’s version in baked manicotti – but with Schlimm’s guidance, I’ve definitely developed a new appreciation for […]

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