Thursday, December 26, 2013

double dip christmas party

Oh what a Christmas. I don't think I have ever had a hawaiian christmas that was so christmassy! So many friends and family eating so much amazing homemade food, drinking way too much champagne, and singing every christmas song know to us at the top of our lungs. Now that is a christmas. Actually, that was just christmas eve! But anyway, the party was tons of fun and I made two epic dips to bring along. Both vegan, one my own recipe, one not, but both very easy and healthy!

vegan spinach dip

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 10-12 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, cut in strips
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

First blend the cashews and water in blender until very smooth and set aside (but leave it in the blender) to thicken. Dice the onion and garlic. Heat oil on stove top in large frying pan (preferably one with a lid). Sauté onion and garlic in oil until soft and translucent. Start adding the fresh spinach a few handfuls at a time, or as much as you can fin in your pan. The lid helps to steam the spinach down, so you can fit more in the pan. Once all spinach is wilted, remove from heat. I don't like overcooked spinach, just lightly cooked, so it is up to your personal preference how long you cook it! 

Now finish the sauce. Add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and salt the the cashew paste in the blender and whiz until smooth. Chop up the parsley and slice water chestnuts into thin strips. Add parsley, water chestnuts, sauce, and cooked spinach mixture to a large bowl to combine. This dip is good warm right when you make it or cold out of the fridge, enjoy! 

beet bruschetta 

  • three medium beets
  • 1/3 red onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Trim beets, cut in half and cover with water in a pot. Boil for about 20 minutes, or until beets are tender when poked with a fork. Drain beets and remove the skins under cold running water. Cut into 1/4 inch cubes. Dice red onion and basil and add to the beets. Add oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, and toss to coat. I found that this bruschetta was better after a little marinating in the fridge. Serve with salty crackers or baguette! (I obviously had mine with tortilla chips, so anything goes).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

christmas cookies

I have an amazing vegan friend, Jill, who has taught me that you can transform pretty much anything into a vegan option. Making cookies vegan is far easier than expected; using earth balance vegan buttery spread instead of butter and flax meal instead of eggs can change any cookie recipe to suit your vegan lifestyle. We made four kinds of cookies on one 90 degree Maui december day. Equipped with holiday aprons and Pandora's Christmas music station, we got into the Hawaiian Christmas spirit. Jill found two of these recipes on VegWeb, but the shortbread cookies and Anzac cookies have been in her family for years.

*note: we doubled all of these recipes and made made TONS of cookies! I'm not quite sure how many each single batch will make, but you can never have too many cookies around the holidays!

Shortbread Cookies

  • 3/4 pound vegan margarine (earth balance)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • sliced almonds
  • mericino cherries

Combine margarine, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer. Add flour and salt, dough will be sticky so wrap it in plastic and pop it in the fridge for about an hour (we put ours in the freezer to save time). When it is cold enough to manage, form into balls, and roll in sliced almonds. Now poke your thumb in the middle of the ball to make room for the cherry. Cookies can be close, but not touching. Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until the bottom looks golden. Let cool before transferring, they are very fragile right out of the oven so be patient!

Sugar Cookies

  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp extra firm tofu, mashed or pureed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • holiday decorations!

Cream margarine, sugar, tofu puree, and vanilla with electric mixer. Sift in dry ingredients and combine. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for about an hour (it might not take that long to chill for everyone, keep in mind this was a 90 degree day in hawaii). Separate dough into two balls, roll out on flour coated counter and cut into desired shapes (dolphins!). These cookies don't rise or spread so be sure you roll them out the thickness you want. Sprinkle or decorate and bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Allow cookies to cool slightly before transferring to wire rack.

Anzac Cookies
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 1 Tbsp molasses, or golden syrup (golden syrup is really hard to find in the US)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp hot water

Combine oats, flour, sugar, and coconut in large bowl. In a saucepan on low heat melt the margarine. Add the syrup, baking soda, and hot water, mix well and remove from heat. Add liquid to oat mixture and combine gently. Roll dough into small balls, about one teaspoon each, and arrange on cookie sheet at least 1- 1/2 inches apart (they spread a lot). Bake at 350 degrees for 10-13 minutes. Allow to cool before transferring. 

Peppermint Creams

  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 4 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 12oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine syrup, margarine, and peppermint extract with electric mixer. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time and mix well. This "dough" will be very crumbly but form into small balls with your hands and press flat. Next, melt chocolate chips either in the microwave or on a double boiler. 

Start to dip the white patties into the chocolate and spread around with fingers. This is very messy but very fun. Place them on a tray covered in foil or wax paper. 

When all are covered with chocolate place in refrigerator to cool for about 20 to 30 minutes. 

Yum! Just like York Peppermint Patties! Keep them in the fridge or wrap them in foil. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

cranberry relish

Who wouldn't want a cute little aloha jar of raw cranberry relish for the holidays? Well, don't give me one, I've been eating this stuff non-stop for days! I made a double batch and have been slathering it on everything! Toast, scones, wraps, sandwiches, cereal, and even in smoothies! I was going to try and change the recipe enough to make it my own, but its just too good how it is! The only thing I added from the original, which you can find here, was some raw ginger. 

In your food processor combine:
  • 1 bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1 apple, cored and cubed with skin
  • 1/2 orange, cubed with peel (but not the gross butt if it has one)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 inch piece of peeled ginger (about a Tablespoon if chopped/grated)
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Blend until relishy! I blended mine quite a bit because I kept finding chunks of orange peel! I had to pick some of the big chunks out, but other than that it turned out perfect!

Pack in jars with pretty fabric over the lid, and give 'em away! Make sure you save some for yourself! Lasts about a week in the fridge.