Monthly Archives: December 2012

White (Chocolate) Christmas

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In about two weeks, I will hit my 18-year anniversary of being vegan. In those almost two decades, I have seen so many changes to the vegan-world, it’s hard to know where to begin, but I want to say – I never thought I’d see the positive place we are in today. Thousands flock to veg-fests nationwide. A former president goes vegan. And on a lesser scale, but no less exciting to me… white chocolate has returned. As a little girl, I have happy memories of making white chocolate candies with my mom for every holiday. It was creamy, smooth – and oh-so-different from “real” chocolate with cocoa. After all, it had no caffeine, so I was allowed to eat it at night. (As a kid, I had issues going to sleep, so no cocoa or soda was allowed with dinner… go figure.)

Many years have passed and white chocolate was an item I had given up. Until attending a vegan event earlier this year… I found several brands of vegan white chocolate. Who knew? I mean, they’ve apparently been around for a bit now and I’m just discovering them. Guess if you haven’t tried it, it’s new to you!  We bought two brands – King David, which is vegan and kosher – imported from Israel, and Vegan Sweets by Pangea. Both are available on Amazon.com and both taste just like white chocolate should – sugary, creamy and smooth!

And now, I will have a white Christmas once more…  🙂

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After eating a few from each bag, we decided to put King David to the ultimate test – melting. He passed with flying colors and a treat from my childhood was reborn…

White Chocolate Pretzel Candies

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2 8-oz. bags vegan white chocolate chips

3 cups pretzels, crushed to bits

1 cup dried cranberries (optional)

about 32-36 small candy papers (like mini cupcake papers)

In a double boiler, melt the white chocolate chips until smooth. Be careful not to get water in the chocolate. (You can also do this in a microwave.) When the chocolate is liquid, stir in the crushed pretzel bits and dried cranberries. Mix well. Drop into candy papers by teaspoon-full. Place in a cool area until they firm up. Eat with delight!

This is a great recipe for kids to help with – especially the messy, fun step of filling the candy papers! I used to love that as a child.

So, we then moved on to the Vegan Sweets white chocolate chips. And came up with… holiday cookies, of course. These chips also performed well and set up perfectly in the cookies, adding a delectable pop of sweetness to the spicy ginger bits. Serve with tea or coffee, next to the fireplace!

Holiday Fireside Cookies

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1/2 cup Earth Balance, room temperature

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1/3 cup raw sugar

3 tsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer in 3 Tbls. water

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. orange extract

1 Tbls. fresh orange zest

1 1/3 cups white whole wheat flour (we used King Arthur’s)

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

pinch salt

1/2 cup vegan white chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped dried cherries

1/2 cup chopped crystalized ginger (we used Trader Joe’s)

Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl, combine Earth Balance, sugars, extracts and zest. Mix well. Sift in white whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir together, but don’t over mix or cookies will be tough. Fold in vegan white chocolate chips, cherries and ginger bits.

Drop by tablespoon-full onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies have spread and edges are golden brown. Allow to cool 5 minutes on cookie sheet before you transfer to a rack. Makes a little over two dozen.

Wishing you and yours a white Christmas!

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Something Borrowed ~ Holiday Dishes

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Things have been nutty here at the DHBG, so we haven’t had a chance to write many new holiday recipes. Instead, we’ve gone out and found some *excellent* ones from other cooks and want to share them with you. As you make plans for festive dinners, family gatherings and potlucks, be sure to try these!

Pumpkin Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Icing

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There is no better start to a wonderful brunch or breakfast than fresh, homemade cinnamon rolls with drippy, gooey icing. Eurkea. This recipe from famed vegan Chef Chloe does not disappoint. And you can watch her make the recipe on video. If you aren’t an experienced baker, you should definitely take the time to view the perky video of Chloe making these rolls. It’s not a difficult recipe, but paying attention to the various steps and timing is crucial, as these yeasted rolls need two rises. Also, the process of adding the filling and slicing them was quite messy. We ended up spooning filling off the rolling station and squishing it into the rolls before their second rise. All that said, these Pumpkin Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Icing are sssoooo good. When they’re in the oven, your house will smell like heaven. And when you bite into the first one, you will be in heaven. Oh – did we mention that if you make these from brunch, everyone will love you forever? Check out the recipe on Chef Chloe’s site and her instructional video.

Macadamia Nut Brie with Maple Cranberry Sauce and Savory Oven Crackers

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Speaking of nutty… you will go nuts for this vegan brie recipe. We certainly have. Vedged Out is a new blog by long-time DHBG reader, Somer. And though Somer’s blog is new, she is far from new to the vegan cyber-scene. Or to the vegan deliciousness. We have made this incredible vegan brie two times and we’ve baked 8 batches of the crackers. Gosh, I wish I had some right now…

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We took the first brie to the VRG‘s annual Thanksgiving potluck last month. It was so popular with that crowd, we almost didn’t get to sample it! Luckily, till we got thru the chow line, we got to share a literal sliver. But it was enough to want to make it again. And again. At first we thought the recipe was a little daunting, as it printed out at 12 pages. I was relieved to discover that was because Somer included many how-to photos, not because it was 12 pages of text! It’s pretty easy, actually – you just need to follow the directions and pay attention. A few notes – The recipe list calls for Pomona’s Pectin. Let me save you some time: we went to 3 grocery stores looking for this magical stuff and found nothing. Just get onto Amazon.com and buy a few boxes. I gurantee that you *will* make this recipe over and over, so you may as well stock up.  Somer suggests soaking the nuts for 4 to 8 hours; we soaked ours 12 hours to make sure they were smooth and creamy. We also substituted unsweetened almond butter for the tahini, cuz I’m allergic to sesame. We also subbed the sesame seeds in the cracker recipes and used poppy seeds. They look adorable and give the crackers texture. Oh, and the cranberries with maple syrup and thyme – we’ve made that all by itself four times now. I added a little splash of fresh squeezed orange juice and a sprinkle of orange zest. Insanely good.

Somer is fancier than us – she suggests cutting shapes from the puff pastry to decorate the brie. It does look lovely, we agree. But if you just wrap it and bake, this little treat will still be the nicest gift you wrap all year. Check out the recipe here. You may as well print it out, you’re going to want this one in your permanent collection.

Update: Somer has been kind enough to allow us to post the Brie recipe… Thanks Somer!!

Macadamia Nut Brie

1 cup macadamia nuts, soaked 4-8 hours in cold water, then drained and rinsed. (You can use  1/2  macadamias and  1/2 cashews, too

1 cup boiling water

2 Tbls. tapioca flour (optional, makes for a firmer brie)

1 Tbl. pure maple syrup

1 Tbl. yellow miso

2 Tbls. tahini (we used almond butter)

1 Tbl. rice vinegar

1 tsp. dijon mustard

1 tsp. sea salt

2 Tbls. Earth Balance

1/2 package Pamona’s Pectin (only this brand of pectin will work in this recipe)

Lightly oil a small round dish (I used a glass tupperware), set aside. Measure out half of the dry pectin, about 4.5 teaspoons. Combine calcium packet from pectin box with 1/2 cup water (not listed in ingredients above) in a small lidded jar and shake til thoroughly combined. Blend all ingredients except pectin and calcium water in your turbo blender or food processor until completely smooth. Add dry pectin and half (1/4 cup) of the calcium water and pulse until all combined and thick. Immediately scrape hot brie out into the small round prepared dish. Refrigerate for a couple hours, turn out on to a plate, brie will be slightly soft (as brie is) but ready to use in this recipe.

Maple Cranberry Sauce

1 package fresh cranberries (I used Ocean Spray)

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

2/3 cup apple cider

1/4 tsp. crushed thyme

1/4 tsp. sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into glass jar. Let cool and refrigerate until ready for use (this will keep up to a month in the fridge and longer in the freezer and leftovers can easily be saved for the holidays).

Savory Oven Crackers

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup black sesame seeds (we used poppy seeds)

2 Tbls. extra virgin olive oil

6-8 Tbls. cold water

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. veggie salt or sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Process all ingredients but water til combined in your food processor. Add half the water, then add a water a tablespoon at a time (you may not need it all) while pulsing until a round ball of dough forms. Put dough on a sheet of parchment paper and roll out until PAPER thin (or as thin as you can possibly roll them out). Brush surface with water and sprinkle with a bit more sea salt or veggie salt. Cut into squares with a pizza wheel. Bake for on a baking tray for 8-10 minutes, then remove crackers from parchment paper and bake an additional few minutes  on the tray until golden.

Assemble the Brie en Croute: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out puff pastry a bit. (You can reuse the parchment paper you cooked the crackers on for this task.) Spoon 1/2 cup Maple Cranberry Sauce into the center.

Top with Macadamia Nut Brie (smooth side touching the cranberry sauce). Leaving a few inches all around, cut puff pastry into a round following the brie as a guide. Tuck edges up in a pinwheel fashion.

Turn right side up and decorate with remaining scraps if desired.  Brush pastry with 1 T. water and 1 T. pure maple syrup to make it extra glossy.

Bake for 20 minutes until pastry is golden. I broiled mine for 3 minutes to get the pastry to a deeper golden color and it ended up being 2 minutes too long.

Thanks, Somer!

Herbed Collard Greens

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This gem was discovered on a VegNews weekly newsletter and if you ever doubted that greens can be decadent and elegant, well – try this recipe. We used chard instead of collards because we have chard growing the yard. Chard worked well, as I’m sure any greens would, like kale or beet greens. The magic here is in the sauce…rich with coconut oil, coconut milk, almond meal and almond milk… mixed in with some cloves, sage and other fresh herbs. Oh my. Let’s be clear – we served this to several family members who think chard is a four-letter word. Not only did they taste it, but everyone went back for seconds. There were no leftovers of the Herbed Cream Collards. The recipe is simple to follow, is gluten-free and even freezes if you want to make it in advance. Thanks, VegNews, for sharing Allyson Kramer’s tasty dish ! Your family members will be arm-wrestling for the last  bite of this one.

Butternut Squash Casserole with Curry

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Prepare yourself. This recipe is by Paula Deen. Yes, you read that correctly. Paula Deen, of Food Network fame. We had the television on, and the DH noticed her making this. He called me over and declared that is would be a snap to make vegan, and we downloaded it.  It was easy to veganize, by the way. Only one ingredient, eggs, needed a swap.  The casserole makes a large quantity (ideal for large groups) and has a savory, unexpected flavor. The curry, coconut milk and squash combine beautifully. We used 2 vidalia onions instead of one, and doubled the amount of curry. For the eggs, we used Ener-G Egg Replacer. Ground flax “eggs” or applesauce would also be good substitutes here. Oh, we didn’t have any raisins, so we used dried cranberries instead. We didn’t do this, but if you toasted the coconut on top, that would be delicious. Thanks Paula Deen, for making a tasty Butternut Squash Casserole with exotic flavors of coconut and curry!

There’s still time to plan your family meals, so be sure to check out these wonderful recipes. Make them for friends and family and enjoy delicious holidays!

Sweeten Up the Holidays

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Everyone loves holiday gifting. Well, sort of. It can be tiring… searching out the perfect things for your loved ones and colleagues. And then trying to make it both eco-friendly and vegan. Okay, so maybe it’s not always the funnest thing. But why not *make* gifts instead? We know awesome vegans out there who accomplish amazing feats, such as making homemade bar soaps and fresh preserves as gifts. We’re hippies though… we’re not that ambitious.

This crafty idea came from my mom. After shelling out over $20 for a jar of organic, locally-made, vegan sugar scrub, she decided she had had enough and started to experiment with making her own. The results have been fantastic. So great, in fact, that we got together, made several large batches and jarred them up for holiday gifts. No more trips to the mall, thank you very much! Our friends and family will get the treat of a luxurious, natural sugar scrub – loaded with organic oils to moisturize dry winter skin.sugarsc1_lr

It’s super easy.  The part that will take the most time – going to the health food store to buy the oils. We used sweet orange, cinnamon and clove Aura Cacia essential oils to scent ours like winter pomanders, but you can use whatever you like. Maybe lavender and lemon? Or rose oil? Go crazy. For containers, we used a few re-purposed candle jars with lids and plain ole’ Ball canning jars. Decorate them any way you like – ribbons, cloth. Have fun – and don’t eat it. Just sayin’. Cuz it does smell good enough to eat!

Holiday Sugar Scrub

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3 cups organic sugar (we used Florida Crystals)

1/2 cup organic olive oil

1/4 cup organic almond oil

1/8 cup organic grapeseed oil

1/8 cup organic jojoba oil

20 drops organic sweet orange essential oil (or to your scent preference)

15 drops organic cinnamon essential oil (or to your scent preference)

10 drops organic clove essential oil (or to your scent preference)

In a large glass bowl, add sugar and break up any lumps. In a sturdy liquid measuring cup, combine all oils and stir with a spoon. Gently fold oils into sugar and when well blended, pack into jars. How many jars you can fill will depend on the size of the jars. Tightly close lids and decorate jars as desired.

Gift to your friends and family – or stock up your own shower for the winter! 🙂

Baltimore Vegan Drinks – Dec. 12!

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We’re excited. A bunch of vegans are going to get together at Sticky Rice in Fells Point next week. And we’re going too. 🙂

Announcing the first Baltimore Vegan Drinks in a year – December 12, 2012 from 7pm to 9pm at Sticky Rice,  1634 Aliceanna Street, Baltimore MD 21231. The cover is free and the menu is packed with vegan goodies. Do you like sushi? Tots? Fresh spring rolls? Teriyaki tofu? Peanut noodles? You’re covered at Sticky Rice!

And – we’re also proud to announce that we are co-hosts of this event going forward!

Wanna get your tummy grumbling? Here’s a preview of the night’s refreshments and the venue… Check out more of our photos on the Baltimore Vegan Drinks webpage! Oh, and we have to mention the tots again – and the dedicated vegan fryer this place has! Woo-hoo!

Hope to see you all there!

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Wait… did we mention the tots? Oh, like six times you say? Sorry. It’s only because they are the tastiest fried potatoes we’ve ever had. And the house-made spicy vegan dipping sauce is decadant and delish.

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Vegan Sushi…called the Hot Hippy, this nori roll is packed with spicy marinated tofu, peanuts, scallions, carrots and cucumbers. Mmm… I’ll take two!

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A specialty vegan cocktail with acai and lychee fruit. Yummy and so pretty, too!

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See you at Sticky Rice next week for the long-awaited return of Baltimore Vegan Drinks! Don’t miss it!