Holiday Projects: DIY Kahlua

Hello! I revamped this recipe for an even better version of homemade coffee liqueur last year. Check it out here!

Homemade Coffee Liqueur on Get Sconed!

 

Somehow, I found a way to grumble a wee bit while making this. Office holiday gift exchange pressure!!! The rest of my mood was all smirky, caffeinated anticipation, with the buzz of Victrola beans from my Seattle adventure, clear grain alcohol, rich vanilla paste and a little fresh clementine zest, for good measure.  I had sampled my friend Millie the mixtress’ homemade kahlua at a holiday cocktail party a couple of weeks ago, and it was totally a I have-to-make-this moment.

The internet seemed abundant with two varieties of recipes. One involved patient infusing (which is fine, because please), and the other was a matter of warming & mixing. Millie’s successful concoction followed the second route, and so did I, using the recipe posted last year on the Cupcake Project as a basis.

Serving suggestions:

 

Mint Chocolate Season is here.

It's here. Find it.

I know there’s maybe two or three people out there who don’t enjoy this dynamic flavor duo, but I cherish it. They’re both quintessential holiday flavors of chocolate candies and candy canes and hot chocolate and all that literal sweetness. Now, around this time last year, I lamented my sadness over the sudden absence of my dear Chocolate Peppermint Vitasoy from the U.S. market (You lucky Canadians! ) Obviously, you can easily make chocolate peppermint milk at home with simple ingredients (hello, cocoa powder + nondairy milk + sweetener  + peppermint extract), but I’m holding onto this seasonal convenience item purcashing.  The Westsoy Chocolate Peppermint Soy beverage is certainly rich, creamy, and lovely, but I just don’t see it as often (though Food Fight! usually has it – so check there first if you’re on the lookout in PDX). Fortunately for my fellow chocolate peppermint nondairy milk enthusiasts, there’s a new indulgence on the market: Silk Mint Chocolate. I’ve been on the lookout since a friend mentioned it on twitter a few weeks ago, and I practically twirled when I saw it on sale (okay, 2 for $5) at Whole Foods a couple of days ago. Sidenote: I know, Silk and Whole Foods are both somewhat evil for various reasons, but they both offer and do some good, too – not to mention, offering affordable vegan items. I think the whole new Silk organic line separation is utterly ridiculous, but at least the rest is non-GMO. Alas, this is a whole other discussion.

Anyway, if you’re open to buying Silk, just once, I recommend trying this – it’s so smooth and the flavor is just right! Plus, Silk’s market domination hopefully makes this easier to find and enjoy.

If you’re open to mixing these with alcohol, the amateur mixologist in me would recommend bourbon with the creamy Westsoy and vodka with the silky…Silk. Holiday party time with mint chocolate cocktails, indeed. Don’t forget the candy cane stirrer for pure class.

Keeping with this theme, check out what Sweetpea had to offer on donut day:

Fresh Chocolate Candy Cane Donut = Yes, Please. If only I hadn't knocked that cup of coffee onto it 3 bites in...

P.S. The new Trader Joe’s Chocolate Peppermint mix is totally not vegan. Look away quickly or you’ll be just as depressed as I was. Like it’s so hard to make things creamy without dairy. Lame, TJ’s! At least we still have Candy Cane Jo Jo’s…

P.P.S. Now I want everything edible in my life today to bestow this flavor combination….

Tis the Tofurkey Day MoFo: Kabocha Squash Pot Pie, Thai Iced Tea Pumpkin Pie & Dinner with Friends

I may not really celebrate the holidays, but I do celebrate proudly made from scratch dishes, friends, wine, and the warm wonder that is a multi-course, cruelty-free thanksgiving dinner with said friends in a city we’ve made our home. Aww.

Commence warm and fuzzies and vegan food with part of the spread:

My contributions to the dinner were pies of both sweet and savoury varieties. This marked the production of my first-ever pot pie, so it’s time for a photo pictorial to capture my stirring hand’s excitement.

Sautéing the diced green beans, carrots, mushrooms, potato, baked tofu, and spices.

The savoury was a Smokey Kabocha Squash & Baked Tofu Pot Pie inspired by Karen from the Vegan Conversion Challenge’s recent Kabocha Pot Pie. She’s doing a month of chili-dominated dishes for VeganMoFo, and as soon as I saw her adorable baked-in-the-squash, smokey pot pies, I wanted to try them. Fatefully tying this plan together, I had roasted freaking kabocha squash the night before, so the question became – do I buy more squash (on the day before thanksgiving) or do I reach for a little more adventure? I chose the latter, following Karen’s recipe as closely as possible. There was no time for finding Soy Curls or big tvp chunks,  so I decided to bake tofu cubes in a marinade of tamari, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, garlic, and herbs. As for squash, it seems to get saucey in Karen’s, so I figured simply adding chunks of roasted squash into the mix with the broth would work for my take. A squashy gravy, if you will. I went light on the chili peppers, and ended up adding quite a bit more of smoked paprika and hot cayenne before baking.

Things take a turn for the saucey and squashy:

Dished into a pie plate and ready for some puff pastry action.

The finished dish, with its learning-as-we-go puff pastry weave, from my camera phone:

Enough of my silly tales of pot pie production – Chelsea’s famous Gluten Roast, stuffing & itty bitty, adorable potatoes follows:

Knowing this would be there just may have pushed me out of the house.

Damn good pumpkin pie and damn fine pecan pie:

My friend veganized John Edwards’ secret family recipe for us and I’m still thinking about it:

Sweet, sweet pumpkin cheesecake!!

My second contribution – half of a vision come to life – Thai Iced Tea Pumpkin Pie.

Take Bryanna’s classic Vegan Pumpkin Pie, sub coconut milk for the soy, and add a ton of powdered cardamom and star anise along with the usual suspects. If there was Thai tea in my cabinets, it would have been involved.  And one excuse short of my vision, I had just missed the stores closing on my way to dinner, or there would have been coconut flakes (or, in retrospect, dollops of coconut whipped cream) with the straws.

Note: I did not make people drink out of them.

mini pizzas & teese & holiday confessions

I was recently afflicted with the pizza bug. It’s been the coldest and driest November I’ve ever witnessed in Portland, and it usually seems much more rational to use the oven over the heater. You get a warm dinner and a warmer abode. Win Win.

Whole wheat crust (Trader Joe’s), homemade marinara, mozzarella teese, sun-dried tomatoes, cremini mushrooms, jalapeño peppers.

I’m always impressed at how well teese holds up upon re-heating.

Variety time!

Whole wheat crust, roasted orange pepper and white bean spread, steamed greens, strips of more roasted orange pepper, and halved  kalamata olives.

As for my holiday time, pizza making confession, it’s totally not the store-bought dough – it’s the music. The first evening of pizza baking marked the first day of the season I welcomed the easy listening christmas music station back into my life. Every night. I can’t help it. I can be pretty damn humbug, but hear Linda Ronstadt wishing me a Merry Little Christmas and go weak with nostalgia. I start cutting out snowflakes and wishing for the marshmallow winter song and Band Aid to come on next and then start picturing my grandfather singing along with Bing Crosby. I may have even put up a fucking holiday tree under the guise that it’s for a shindig. And quite frankly, if I had wine, and mulled wine went with pizza, it would have been on my stove.

The Tofurkey Day Countdown

Being a vegan in Portland, Tofurkey day is approaching and I’m naturally weighing the options of at least 12 vegan potlucks or take out from Bay Leaf or Sweetpea (omg, the dinner rolls!!). I went to 2 potlucks over the weekend as it is, and that’s normal! Now, being a creepy cat lady hermit without family in the state, I’m also highly considering taking the day off from sage and pumpkin, making Ethiopian style greens, and watching Charlie Brown on repeat. Maybe. I may make an exception for pumpkin hot toddies. Perhaps.

All this potential busy-ness or personal time over the holiday weekend doesn’t mean that I’m not totally entranced by all the seasonal menu planning around me, via blog posts and holiday specials at the grocery store and farmers markets, etc.

With that, here are some things that have caught my eye recently.

Thanksgiving Day Ideas I’d like you to make for me:

Ye Olde Get Sconed! Thanksgiving-related porn follows, featuring quite a sweet potato pie casseroles, more pies, mac & cheeze, rolls, and an apple cider, garlic & herb marinated tofurkey, among other classics:

And if you’re dishes rule, don’t forget to take a picture and send your photos to Vegansaurus!

And please, share!

Candy Cane Layer Cake Construction

Frankly, I’ve made prettier cakes, but I think this one is the awesomest.  Toot toot!

candy cane layer cake

It had been too long since I’d made a complete layer cake.  I was out of practice, but having a blast with every step involved, surely on a high from inhaling peppermint candy dust.

There’s nothing like a homemade cake, and I am so proud of this very, very homemade creation.  I was set on taking a holiday layer cake to an Xmas Gathering, and inspired by the internet and my friend Esme (the Vegan Propamanda), Candy Cane Layer Cake was born.  Three layers, because two are boring to look at.

Construction: There were two chocolate mint layers, one light vanilla mint, vanilla peppermint buttercream and crushed peppermint candy and dusted cocoa powder as garnish.  I minted it up with Trader Joe’s organic peppermint extract and a fair share of the last of my precious supply of Vitasoy Chocolate Peppermint Soymilk, as well as So Delicious coconut milk.  The cake layers were based on the recipes for basic chocolate and vanilla cupcakes in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World.  Each recipe makes one cake layer’s worth.  The frosting is a double batch of the Fluffy Buttercream, plus peppermint extract.

Not so pretty…but pretty awesome.

candy cane layer cake

Attacked at the Xmas Party:

new 013

I’m pretty sure there are still leftovers and children in dangerous, yet refreshing sugar comas.

awesome of the week: “the perfect holiday latte”

Holidays are a time for indulgence, AM I RIGHT?!?

I’m totally right, and living this mantra – recently ordering “The Perfect Holiday Latte”, advertised on a counter display board at vegan friendly Artemis Cafe & Catering on SE Division, my favorite street.  It was made with Soy Nog – by default!, Stumptown espresso and organic spiced syrup.  It wasn’t ornately swirled, but I knew I wasn’t at an esteemed coffeeshop, and thick nog was in effect. I detected actual spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, etc. Hells yes.  Seasons Freaking Greetings and Caffeinating to me.

Artemis Cafe

Seasons’ Greeting All! Time to go home and bake the candy cane layer cake!!!

My Grand, Tear-Filled Farewell to Vitasoy’s Chocolate Peppermint Soymilk.

There was a lot of talk over the summer about the discontinuation of Vitasoy soymilks, and I really took it to heart.

It was my first ‘favorite soy milk'; I remember buying 99 cent and 4 for $5 cartons of it by the basketfuls from the tiny Central Square Whole Foods during college.  There always seemed to be a Creamy Original in my fridge, no matter what. When I moved to Portland I realized it was no longer the cheapest soymilk around, and I was cheap, so I just moved on, until I fell for the Chocolate Peppermint.  It became a vegan holiday tradition, as did stocking up on the sales afterwards.  Seriously, stocking up.

So, when two of my friends recently alerted me to 99 cent sales on Vitasoy’s holiday flavors at Grocery Outlet, I immediately thought three things:

1) HOW SOON could I get there.

2) HOLY CRAP.

3) Hold me, it must be the final close out…

Shockingly, I haven’t yet run there, but a friend did gift me with a Holly Nog and dear Peppermint Chocolate soymilk.  Have you ever heard of anything nicer?!  A mug of warmed Holly Nog before bed is just…l;ksglfdklfgh…nice.

love.

Goodbye, my friends….

My google skills aren’t bringing any hard evidence aside from rumors on discussion boards, and the company website doesn’t mutter a word about the discontinuation of all or any lines.  The best, and by best, I mean most depressing, actual word was found on the My Vitasoy Facebook, commenting that:

“Unfortunately, due to heavy competition in the US soymilk market, we’ve discontinued our Vitasoy Soymilk in the US…but they’re still in Canada….We apologize for the inconvenience….”

Deep breath.

So will next year revolve around homemade coconut soy nog and Westsoy’s (arguably even better?) Chocolate Peppermint Stick Soy Beverage?

Or a trip to Canada?

Update: Vitasoy confirmed via comment below that their Facebook remark is true, and pretty much, they give their Canadian fans a big hug.

Obligatory Thanksgiving Post: w/ Brussel Sprout, Roasted Garlic, Potato & Almond Stuffed Mushrooms

Vegan thanksgiving dinners are up there in my ‘proudest culinary moments’ collection, along with every time I remember to wash my hands after chopping incredibly hot peppers.  As a vegetarian for years and as a new vegan, holiday celebrations tested my patience, as usual, and my attempt at culinary skills.

Potluckin’

potluckin'

Thanksgiving is a day you may make the decision to bring your best vegan cookies and tub of Earth Balance to impress/challenge the level of sanity of an omni table with family and friends, pull out all the vegan stops with a homemade* seitan roast or store-bought Tofurkey for an intimate group, or aim for comfort food greatness with a contribution to a vegan potluck.  Showcasing your North American-Vegan-Thanksgiving-Skills is a beautiful thing on a day revolving around stuffing yourself with a stuffed, dead bird.

It makes you want to Adopt a Turkey, naturally.

I went to my first vegan thanksgiving potluck of the season on Sunday night; my friends Michelle and Aaron host an annual pre-thanksgiving vegan thanksgiving potluck.  I know I’m mentally checked out on Sunday evenings (work in the morning!), so I signed up to bring something I’m comfortable with – stuffed mushrooms.  For some reason roasted garlic and brussel sprouts were calling out to me, so Side Dish Stuffed Mushrooms surfaced. I’m calling them Side Dish Stuffed, but really they’re Brussel Sprout, Roasted Garlic, Mashed Potato & White Wine stuffed, but that’s a bit of a mouthful.  My go-to method for stuffing mushrooms is to reach for the wine & nuts and expand from there, and these have that basis, combined with a tribute to holiday side dishes.

Happy plate. Joanna’s seitan* ruled my world.

potlucky

Side Dish Stuffed Mushrooms (gluten-free)

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs of white/cremini mushrooms, stems separated and minced (optional: scrape out the gills with a small spoon if you so choose)
  • half a head of roasted garlic
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 6 brussel sprouts, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup of roasted almonds, finely ground
  • scoop of mashed potatoes (russets mashed with plain soymilk)
  • generous pinch of black pepper
  • dash sea salt
  • dash crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • generous pinches of rubbed sage and thyme
  • generous pinch of nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine
  • 1 tablespooon of tamari
  • dash of balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil for sautéing and greasing the baking pan
  1. Preheat oven to 375F and lightly grease a 9×13 glass casserole dish.
  2. Saute the minced garlic, minced mushroom stems and chopped brussel sprouts in a teaspoon or two of olive oil in a large pan for 5-7 minutes, being careful to keep the heat below medium and not burn anything.
  3. Add the herbs, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, wine, tamari and vinegar and cook for another 2-5 minutes, until much of the liquid is absorbed.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cooked ingredients, the mashed potatoes, ground almonds, nutritional yeast and roasted garlic with a fork, mixing until well combined.
  5. Using a half tablespoon or other small spoon, fill each mushroom cap with the stuffing. Do not overstuff.
  6. Place filled side up in the casserole dish.  If you have extras, feel free to place overlapping bottom layer mushrooms.  Spritz with oil and drizzle with additional white wine.
  7. Bake for 23-28 minutes until golden brown, checking on them after 20.

Side Dish Stuffed Mushrooms, pre-baked (with chopped extra chunks of garlic tossed in)

mushrooms, pre-baked

Baked:

shrooms

As for the actual holiday this year, I’m bringing homemade seitan and cabbage stuffed gyozas to a vegan potluck, and pumpkin pie brownies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar to a Turkey-roke/Faux-turkey-roke. woo!

More Get Sconed! Thanksgiving-ness (since holidays are all about memories, and pie).

Thanksgiving for 2.

More Damn Vegan Pecan Pie.

Sweet Potato Pie Casserole.

Thanksgiving, Schmanksgiving.

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