Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Morning

I recognize that it has been a week since I've posted on here. I could say that I've been busy, but, really, it's mostly that I've been lazy and had a bit of a cold. However, I am now only slightly under the haze of Benadryl, so it seems that this is the perfect time to show off my Christmas morning breakfast.

Christmas was a simple affair for my family. On Christmas eve, I drove down to my parents' home and we ate Chinese food, opened gifts and watched old Christmas specials on their giant TV. Seriously, the thing is almost as wide as I am tall.

The next morning, we made Fast and Fabulous French Toast from The Vegan Table, as well as fried up some potato slices that I cut up with my new mandoline. All of the french toast was topped off with powdered sugar, I chose to cover mine with some fruit salsa my mom made. Very tasty.

All in all, it was a wonderful holiday. Perhaps the best gift I got was this picture of my dad photobombing the french toast when I tried to take a picture of it. Thanks dad.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

So much for simple....

It's amazing what a few days, some Christmas shopping and a couple bags of decor from mom can do.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cella's Chocolate Covered Cherries

Growing up, one of my favorite treats were chocolate covered cherries. Finding them as a vegan has been a little challenging but, this season, Walgreen's has come through for me and made my dreams come true. In their holiday aisle, you can find Cella's Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries, which are vegan and delicious! They do have a milk chocolate variation, so double check that you've grabbed the right one because you are going to want to tear straight into these. Individually wrapped, you get 22 for $3.99 and they are a wonderful holiday treat. Definitely worth a stop into Walgreen's, and it's a perfect gift for you last minute shoppers to pick up, since Walgreen's is always open.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Here We Come A Wassailing: My Favorite Christmas Albums

To be honest, most Christmas music makes me less than pleased. I've been known to use the phrase 'drive me to kill' in regard to "We Need A Little Christmas". However, I would like to focus on the good and talk about what Christmas music doesn't make me shudder. If you want the bad stuff, head on over to Everything Is Terrible, because they have it covered.

XO For The Holidays: Some classics, some new songs and all for free! You can download every album at the link, but my favorite is album II, which features Drew Grow's cover of "Tennessee Christmas". I'm actually pretty into these and will even listen to these in November.

Picture from Paste Magazine
Christmas in the Heart by Bob Dylan: Sometimes the holidays make me feel disoriented. When I want to whip that disorientation and confusion into a frenzy, I turn to Bob Dylan's Christmas album. Also, the cover reminds me of when the Russian couple were thrown to the wolves in My Antonia.

White Christmas by Bing Crosby: Ignoring the fact that this album contains several gold standards for many Christmas songs, this album contains both Christmas in Killarney and Mele Kalikimaka, which are two Christmas I really, really enjoy.

Snowed In by Hanson: Duh. Really. I listen to this in July. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) has been my favorite Christmas song since 1997. It isn't Christmas without Snowed In. As a bonus, the song I linked to is the soundtrack for an excellent Power Rangers montage. As a side note, if you go to Hanson's website, you can listen to all of Snowed In for free using their media player. Seriously, this one is good. Do it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Deck The Halls, Simply

My roommate and I have a few decorations up in the holiday spirit. I'm hoping to get more up before the big day- stockings are a must since we now have a fireplace. Another necessity? The collection of nutcrackers I've amassed over the years.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hanson's Lemon Sugar Cookies

If you know me in real life, you probably know that I love Hanson. So, when they made lemon sugar cookies on their new Christmas special, it was obvious that I would be veganizing them and sharing the vegan recipe with the world and possibly using the cookies as gifts for my relatives. These have a fairly delicate lemon flavor, so load them up with lemon zest if you're into that. These may actually be my new favorite sugar cookies- sugar and lemon is a flavor combo I can never say no to.

Hanson's Lemon Sugar Cookies

  • 3/4 cup Earth Balance, at room temperature, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs worth of egg replacer (I used Bob's Red Mill brand)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 2/3 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
  • Frosting pen (I used a Wilton Fondant Icing Writer)
  • colored sugar or other decorations of your choice (I used India Sugar)
Cream the butter, then proceed to cream the sugar into the butter. Add in the egg replacer, vanilla extract, lemon rind and salt. Cream until blended. Gradually mix in the flour. At this point, you may need to add some liquid to the dough, as mine was a bit crumbly. Don't worry, a little moisture will solve that problem. Once mixed, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes- the longer the better.

Once the dough is chilled, it's time to cut 'em out! First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line some cookie trays with parchment paper. You'll want to roll your sugar cookies out, flouring (or powdered sugaring) both the dough and the rolling surface. Roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick and cut your cookies out! Place on cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes. When they are done, decorate how you see fit. I made Hanson symbols and dinosaurs (not pictured). Enjoy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Me, I want a hula hoop...A Very Specific Gift Guide

Sometimes people are hard to buy for. Here's a helpful guide for that.

For the vegan Simpsons fan: "I Do Win Friends With Salad" T- Shirt from Vaute Couture. Form a conga line!

For your friend who is always cold but also lacks shame: The Coz-E Electric Blanket! It's basically the electric blanket version of a snuggie, which means it's basically awesome.

For your friend who has more TOMS than they can count: Socks For Happy People! When you purchase a pair of these socks, a pair is donated to a child in Mongolia. And the socks are so bright and fun!

For the person who loved Harry Potter so much that they have a lightning bolt tattooed on their forehead: The Magic Wand- Programmable Remote. Swish and flick because this channel stinks.

For the person who frames pictures of their pets: Trust me, based on how anxious I get when I leave Puddleglum alone, they will love the Pet's Eye View Camera, which attaches to their pet's collar and lets the owner check in on what their precious does all day.

For the philanthropic wine enthusiast: CellarThief wines provide 100 days of clean drinking water to people in need for each bottle purchased. Also, they focus on having a heavily edited selection of tasty wines, to make shopping easier.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Do you see what I see: My favorite Christmas shows #5-#1

Carrying on from yesterday...

From Animated Toast
5) A Garfield Christmas Special: My dad hates this one because he thinks it promotes materialism. I love it, even though my dad clearly missed the message of Christmas being about love. I love the songs, I love how it features a cat. I also want to be like the grandma in this when I'm elderly.

4) Nutcracker: The Motion Picture: I love nutcrackers and actually have a collection of them at my parents' house. My favorite interpretation is this one, especially because most aspects of the design were left to Maurice Sendak. On a visual level alone, this movie is worth watching. A little bit trippy, occasionally scary and breathtaking overall. You can buy or rent it from Amazon here.

3) I Love Lucy Christmas Special: This episode of I Love Lucy has both a Christmas plot and several flashbacks of some fantastic moments in Lucy history. If you love Lucy, you'll love her Christmas special. If only the loving cup were included.

2) Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas: I adore stop motion animation and this special is full of it. Also, it's hosted by two dinosaurs and features the California Raisins. Most of the songs in this one are presented with a sense of humor, and are so fun to watch. Check out Herb's awesome 80's glasses.

1) Pee Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special: My absolute favorite! It introduced me to Judaism, KD Lang and yo-yo tricks. I have this one on DVD and it's amazing. Not only is it Pee Wee at a hilarious, heightened level, but there are also many guest stars, from Cher to Grace Jones to Frankie Avalon to a bunch of marines. Seriously, Oprah pops up. It's crazy. This special is one for the ages. Also, Pee Wee learns a lesson.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Do you see what I see: My favorite Christmas shows #10-#5

I probably shouldn't share this with the internet but a significant amount of my Christmas memories involve the television. Sure, there was the time my cat threw up from her catnip present and the time I made a snow caterpillar but living in Nebraska and being an only child leads to lots of TV time in December. Without further nostalgia, here are my first five favorites (with links to either the full show or a good clip, because I love you. Yes, you).

10) The Holiday: Two ladies switch houses for the holidays and (spoiler alert) fall in love. There is also a cute little old man. I can seriously watch this over and over and I'm only slightly embarrassed about that.

9) Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer: The classic story of how outsiders are only accepted when they prove useful to the majority. That being said, it is really pretty to look at and I'll always love The Island of Misfit Toys and the Bumble.

8) Elf: Ah, the new classic. An elf finds out he's really a human and goes to New York City to find his father, who is on the naughty list. Hilarious hijinks and heartwarming moments occur.

7) Home Alone: Oh, Kevin. You and the Wet Bandits make my holiday complete. Seriously, what would Christmas be without a lovely (vegan) cheese pizza, just for me? Buzz, your girlfriend, woof.

6) How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The original version, thank you very much. This is such a classic, taking the script straight from the Dr. Seuss book and adding in a few memorable songs. Voiced by Boris Karloff, this cartoon means Christmas to me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

On the first day of Christmas, my mailman brought to me...

....a new book of vegan cooking. Sing it, it makes sense.

Anyway, I recently got my hot little hands on the new Isa cookbook, Appetite For Reduction and I love it. The recipes take simple ingredients and put them together in such a way that they become part of a masterpiece. In a wonderful twist, these recipes are also super easy. They are either fast or allow for tons of downtime. The meal that I have posted is the Hottie Black Eyed Peas and Greens. Savory, filling and with a bit of a kick, this recipe is typical within Appetite for Reduction as it came together quickly, didn't need unusual ingredients and had the nutrition listed. Yes, the nutrition facts are listed for each recipe. It's fantastic. This book is great for anyone who wants to focus on eating food that is both healthy and delicious. Consider it highly recommended.

As a side note, this is my first of 12 Christmas/holiday posts. I feel this counts because it was a Christmas gift for me, from me.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More Kansas eats: Eden Alley and Local Burger

Eden Alley is the first of Kansas City's vegetarian friendly restaurants that I ever tried, so it holds a special place in my heart. I love their desserts and the convenient location (right by the Country Club Plaza). On my last trip, my mom and I decided to hit up Eden Alley on Friday night to take advantage of their date night special: an appetizer, two entrees and a dessert, all for $30. We started off with the spinach dip, filled in the middle with Eggplant Parmesan and the Grilled Tofu Ruelke Sandwich and finished things off with a Mandarin Mexican Chocolate Cake. It was a lovely ending to a great night shopping on the Country Club Plaza. I would absolutely recommend hitting up the Friday date night special at Eden Alley- it's a cost efficient way to try out the different food at Eden Alley.                                                         
The next day, my mom and I took a detour to Lawrence, which is about half an hour away from Kansas City. Being a college town, it has several vegan friendly spots, but my favorite stop is Local Burger. Local Burger is based off serving local food (obviously) and though they do serve meat, they also serve a fantastic veggie burger made with quinoa. The food straddles the line of classic diner and healthy fare. They also have vegan milkshakes. Love this place. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

FÜD: The best nachos I've ever had

Over Thanksgiving weekend, my mom and I took a quick trip down to Kansas City and Lawrence. At the top of my list (and therefore our first stop) was FÜD, a new all-vegan restaurant where jackfruit is featured prominently on the menu.

  The meal started with a small order of fully loaded nachos. Yes, the nachos pictured would be the same small serving that I ate. It was amazing. Loaded with vegan cheese (I'm guessing a nutritional yeast sauce), sour cream, guacamole, salsa and jack phish, this behemoth was delicious and I would be completely satisfied ordering the large as a meal. This plate was definitely one of my top nacho plates of all time. 
My mom and I both ordered sandwiches with jackfruit- I got the jack reuben and she got the pulled jack reuben. Both sandwiches, despite being made with the same base ingredient, had distinct, delicious flavors and were most definitely filling. The pulled jack sandwich was a perfect example of classic barbecue made vegan, while the jack reuben was an excellent example of a twist on an old favorite. 
Even though we were both stuffed, my mom and I also split a chocolate shake for dessert. The ice cream was made with cashews and agave, and it was the perfect ending to a lovely meal.
I definitely recommend checking out FÜD if you are in the Kansas City area- not only was the food great but the service was attentive and pleasant without being overbearing, and the actual restaurant was adorable. I will definitely be stopping in for another serving of nachos.