Merry Christmas! I hope you’re spending holidays with loved ones doing the things you love. I’ve been doing a lot of sewing – which I enjoy like meditation – and today I’m in the kitchen. No doubt for most of the day! I’m not one to sit down much. Creating something special for my family puts me in the holidays spirit.
Every year, I’m tempted to make a gingerbread train with my special cake pan and it often goes not quite as planned. I considered making other plans but my kids are getting older and I don’t know how much longer the Polar Express will excite them. So this year, I took no chances with the cake, I greased it meticulously and it came out perfectly. I used wax paper and vegan butter to make sure I got butter into every groove.
The cake pan is very detailed so the cake itself looks pretty when plain. I made a simple glaze and then decorated it with Skittles, sprinkles and icing sugar to give it a good dusting of snow.
We don’t have much snow outside – enough to cover the walkways but not enough to cover the grass – this snowy scene may be the best we get this Christmas! The Christmas trees are cutouts we made recently, covered with glaze, Skittles and dusted with icing sugar.
The cake is the gingerbread cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World. The glaze is simple (1 cup of icing sugar and 3 Tbsps of water with a drop of lemon extract).
Happy holidays everyone! And best wishes for a joyful new year!
Whenever we have a special occasion that traditionally revolves around a roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and etc., I make this tofu roast. It’s fussier than most meals that I make but the end result is a version of the traditional meal that does no harm to the turkeys. Plus the added prep makes it a special meal.
Over the years that I’ve been vegan, I’ve made this countless times. The flavours can be changed but the end result always pleases. The tofu is shaped into a bowl, stuffed with the stuffing and then closed into a ball. It is coated with a glaze and baked for about an hour. The secret is that it must all be made in advance so the tofu keeps its shape and does not fall apart.
This recipe is very versatile so that it can be adapted with any flavourings that are traditional in your holiday meals. The end result is pure comfort food and despite the forward-planning required, it’s not difficult to make. It’s great for get togethers since most of the work is done ahead of time so you can spend the day with your guests.
Before you start, make sure you have cheese cloth. You can buy it at any kitchen supply store and often at grocery stores.
Tofu roast with stuffing
2 blocks of tofu (extra firm)
1 clove of garlic
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp soy sauce
stuffing made how you like it
For the glaze
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp olive oil
Press the liquid out of the two blocks of tofu. I put them in a colander over a bowl, cover with a small plate and top with two cans of beans. Let them sit in the fridge for a couple of hours. This is really important so ensure that they have had enough time to drain excess liquid or it won’t keep its shape.
While the tofu is draining, make a batch of stuffing according to your favourite recipe. Let it cool.
Once the tofu has been properly drained, break it into chunks and put it in a food processor. Add the garlic, nutritional yeast and the soy sauce. You can also add poultry seasoning, a teaspoon of thyme and rosemary or any other seasoning you’d like as long as you don’t add much liquid at this stage. I keep it very simple since we’ll be serving it with cranberry sauce and gravy. And the tofu will be coated in a glaze that will seep in and add flavour while it bakes.
The food processor should turn the tofu into a sticky, uniform dough. Once there are no more chunks of tofu or garlic, prepare to shape the bowl.
Line a large colander with cheese cloth. Use enough to have the cloth hang over the sides of the colander. The excess will be tied to shape and hang the roast.
Press the tofu into a bowl shape in the cheese cloth so that it coats the sides of the colander – see the picture below.
It doesn’t have to be perfect – just spread it around so there’s a layer of tofu up the sides of the colander to about the same level. Reserve about 1/2 cup of tofu for the bottom.
Pour the stuffing you made into the middle of the bowl. Put enough to cover the bottom of the bowl and up the sides. Any extra stuffing can be baked in a side dish but you should be able to fit about three or more cups of stuffing into the roast.
Press the remaining 1/2 cup of tofu over the stuffing to form the bottom of the roast. Do your best to cover all the stuffing but don’t worry too much about it because it will all come together when you tie the cheese cloth.
Now take two diagonal corners of the cheese cloth and tie them together tightly so the knot is in the middle. Do the same with the opposite corners so there are two knots in the middle of the roast. Tie the ends of the cheese cloth around a wooden spoon so that it can hang over the colander or another deep bowl.
The tofu must hang like this in the fridge overnight so that it will keep its shape when you remove the cheese cloth. Any excess liquid will drip out of the tofu.
About an hour and a half before dinner time, preheat the oven to 400. It’s time to remove the tofu from the cheese cloth. Cut the cheese cloth and carefully turn the tofu ball into a lidded baking dish.
Now it’s time to make the glaze. Combine the glaze ingredients and keep a pastry brush handy. Coat the tofu ball with the glaze, fill the baking dish with vegetables (coated in olive oil), cover it with the lid and bake it for about 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove it from the oven, brush it with the glaze and return it to bake for another 15 minutes without the lid. This time, use the remaining glaze and let it bake for the last 15 minutes (it should take about an hour to cook in total).
Slice and serve with cranberry sauce, gravy, potatoes and all the other traditional sides. I’ve made a mushroom and onion gravy, fresh cranberry sauce, baked potatoes, carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes.
If you need more detail about the recipe or how to make cranberry sauce or gravy, let me know in the comments.
This will be a short post because it is Christmas. But since holiday meals can be a challenge for new vegans and a curiosity for those who are not vegan, I thought I’d share what we’re having for dinner tonight.
Holiday meals are also a challenge for my picky eater because the flavours that make the foods special to us tend to be the ingredients he’d like picked out. This warming stew is no different – it is full of leeks and flavoured with onions and garlic but there are plenty of goodies for him to indulge in (like carrots, potatoes and peas) and the biscuits are a treat.
If you’re looking for something special to bring to a potluck or a party, I have your solution. This dairy-free dip is creamy with a kick of spice and it won’t impact your waistline. But there’s no need to wait for a special occasion – whip it up today for an indulgence you don’t have to share.
Note to parents: don’t let the Santa plate fool you – the kids won’t touch this dip. It’s sweet and spicy with caramelized onions and hot sauce, which makes it too flavourful for most kids. I could make a kid-friendly version but not today. This one’s just for the grown-ups.
This recipe is a bit more time consuming than others because you have to soak the cashews. If you have a high speed blender, you only need to soak them in boiling water for 30 minutes. If you don’t have a Vitamix or similarly powerful blender, you should probably soak them overnight.
Creamy cauliflower dip
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp smoked paprika (or whatever kind you have on hand)
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 Tbsp hot sauce (optional)
1 cup cauliflower (chopped very small)
2 Tbsp oats
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pour the boiling water over the raw cashews and soak them for 30 minutes or overnight (depending on the strength of your blender).
When you’re ready to make the dip, preheat the oven to 350 and find an ovenproof dish that can fit up to 3 cups of dip.
Heat a frying pan on medium-low heat, add the olive oil and the onion. Cook it for a few minutes until it starts to turn brown. Turn the heat down if it starts sticking. Add the garlic and cauliflower and continue to cook for another minute, stirring often to prevent burning. Add the balsamic vinegar, paprika, dry mustard and hot sauce and remove from the heat.
Put the cashews and their water in the blender with the oats and nutritional yeast and blend until smooth. Pour the cashew cream into the pan with the onion mixture and stir to combine. Pour this mixture into the ovenproof dish and bake for 15 minutes.
It’s crunch time. Any Christmas favourites that don’t get made this week will have to wait until next year! So here’s what I’ve been up to. These are two of my family’s favourites: gingersnaps and shortbread cookies.
Gingersnaps may not be pretty but they are easy to whip up. They’re crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside with a real ginger kick. They are the best.
For the shortbread, I opted for something a little more special. I made the cookie dough, piped it through my icing bag with a big tip and while they were baking, made some ganache to top the cookies with.
I used half of the cookie dough to make these spiral beauties and spread the rest in a round cake pan to make unadorned shortbread for my son. He’s not a big fan of chocolate.
I have a few more cookies on my list but I’ll be making them with the kids. We’ll need to make sugar cookies in Christmas shapes to decorate. We started our gingerbread houses this weekend but we haven’t decorated them yet.
The kids have school all week so it will be tight for us to fit in all the fun we want to do before Christmas. But I’m sure we’ll have time to make our cookies.
I often make muffins or a sweet bread on weekends to have on hand for making lunches throughout the week. They’re a healthier option than the store bought ones, which are often not vegan or if they are, they’re expensive. Making snacks at home is easy, cheap and allows for customization.
Since it’s December, I made a loaf of gingerbread and filled it with dried fruit. The result is moist, delicious and perfect for this time of year. When I cut it open, I grabbed a couple pieces for lunches because the rest almost disappeared in one sitting!
Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed! For the fruit combination, I used what what I had in the cupboard. You can use whatever combination you have on hand: apples and raisins would work well.
A word about the chia seeds: this is what I used in place of an egg. You can use ground flax seeds or another method if you’d like but the chia seeds work well and aren’t noticeable in the finished bread. Other options would be a mashed banana or applesauce with baking powder – I’m sure they would be delicious substitutions.
Gingerbread with dried fruit
1 Tablespoon chia seeds
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (can use all-purpose flour or a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose flour)
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup grape seed oil (or other neutral vegetable oil)
3 Tablespoons molasses
1/2 cup soymilk (or other vegan milk)
1/2 cup cranberries
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup dried currants
Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the chia seeds and water and stir well. Put them aside to thicken.
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, oil, molasses and soymilk. Mix well. Add the chia seed mixture and stir.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the dried fruit and mix.
Pour the mixture into a lightly greased bread pan and bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool slightly before removing it from the pan.
It’s just the three of us for dinner tonight since my husband is working late. Nights with just me and the kids should be simple, win-win dinners with leftovers for making lunches and after dinner, we’ll get on with today’s Christmas activity from the advent calendar. Tonight, we’re doing our Christmas cards (if all goes well).
So, the dinner I’m making is something extra kid-friendly that they’ll eat up in a snap. Tofu marinated in a kid-friendly marinade (I didn’t even use garlic today!). Baked potato wedges that they’ll eat with ketchup to their hearts’ content. Roasted broccoli and brussels sprouts that will have a few little blackened bits for us to enjoy.
Tomorrow for lunch, they’ll get some potato wedges (if they’re not all gone), tofu and carrot sticks. We picked up carrots from our local farm that are amazingly sweet and delicious.
If we eat all the wedges, I’ll make them sandwiches with the tofu, cucumber slices and maybe some shredded carrot if I’m feeling generous. Vegan mayo and mustard for my daughter, plain bread for my son (it’s not worth risking mayo…too often he has come home, looked me in the eye and tearfully told me that he didn’t eat his lunch because I did this or that. “Promise me you’ll never do that again, Mom.” So no mayo or mustard for him).
I’ve sliced the tofu into small triangles and marinated it in soy sauce, maple syrup, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar and some grape seed oil. I let it sit in the marinade while the fries were baking. Then I arranged the tofu on a cookie sheet, put chopped broccoli and brussels sprouts lightly coated in oil on another cookie sheet and baked them all at 400 for about 20 minutes, turning once.
I have leftover spicy peanut sauce for mine from the other day – I’m not a ketchup fan.
And then comes the Christmas cards with the hope of getting them in the mail early this year. Fingers crossed!