Tag Archives: Christmas

party at the mccoy's

15 Dec

Yesterday I played hostess for Jonathan’s team-members from work – they all came over during lunch for their annual Christmas party.  I love hosting people at our house, and it doesn’t really happen that often for some reason.  Maybe that’s why I like it?

Anyway, I spent about 5 hours Monday night making the infamous sugar cookies that had actually begun to feel like a thorn in my side.  I wasted so many batches of cookies, and in the end I went with a tried and true recipe that was posted on Jenna’s blog a couple weeks ago. The funny thing is that it’s almost exactly the same as another recipe I had found on a different blog awhile back (Jenna adapted it from there) – I guess it was meant to be!

Once I found said recipe, I thought it would be smooth sailing the rest of the way.  That is until 9:30 pm, when I realized that I was 1/2 cup short of Earth Balance. Nooooo!  It’s unbelievable how many trips I made a across town in order to finally accumulate all the ingredients necessary for these cookies.  The thought of making one more almost killed me.  Besides that I didn’t think our main grocery store in town carried it, and the health food stores were all closed.  Sigh.

So I called Food Pyramid, crossed my fingers while I waited on hold about 3 different times, and then begged the guy on the other end to “puh-lease tell me they had Earth Balance.”  Praise the Lord, they had it!

So by the time I got home, I already had invested an hour in cookie making, and there wasn’t even any dough mixed up yet!  It was about 15 minutes after that that I realized these cookies have to chill in the fridge for an hour before being rolled out.  It was just not my night.

Finally, with a lot of time and even more hard manual labor (rolling out that dough is a challenge!) I finally came out with a decent sugar cookie at about 1:30 am.  The only part left at that point was the decorating.

Let’s just say I am a very amateur decorator.  As in, I’ve never done it before. It’s funny how this little fact didn’t really cross my mind until 1:30 am Monday night, when I began mixing up the icing.  Honestly, the icing part came out looking pretty bad, but the cookies tasted great and by the time I got them all tied up in their little bags, the icing wasn’t that noticeable.  Next time I might would try a different recipe….this one was a little bit thin and soft…but after a little fridge time it hardened up enough and ended up being okay.

Vegan Holiday Sugar Cookies

originally and only slightly adapted by Jenna from here.  I also made a couple slight changes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Earth Balance buttery spread
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar sugar
  • 2 whole egg replacements (Ener-g brand)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese (Tofutti brand)

Directions

  • Cream together the Earth Balance and sugar.  Add one “egg” at a time as you continue mixing.

  • In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt and mix well.
  • Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture and mix thoroughly.
  • Add the vegan cream cheese and mix only until combined.
  • Allow dough to chill for one hour.  Note: the dough will be very crumbly!  This is normal.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Remove dough from fridge.  Knead the dough on a floured surface so that it begins to stick together.  This is the part where you need some serious arm muscles.
  • Divide the dough into two or three sections.

  • Roll one section out to about 1/4 inch thick.  Use cookie cutters to create shapes.

  • Repeat with other sections of dough.
  • Bake for twelve minutes or until light brown around the edges.
  • Decorate with pretty (or not so pretty) icing!
  • Cookies may be stored in a tightly sealed container or placed in the freezer for up to 2 months.

For the icing (recipe found here):

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp almond or soy milk
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Mix powdered sugar and milk until smooth.  Next, beat in (by hand is okay) corn syrup and almond extract until icing is glossy and smooth.  Divide icing between bowls and add drops of food coloring until desired color is reached.

After cookies are decorated, place them on a cooling rack and put them in the fridge until icing hardens.

For the main meal, I made vegan chili (yes, again), but I used a different recipe than I have used in the past.

This was hands down the best vegan chili I’ve ever made or tasted.  I put a little more time and effort into it, and it showed.  I don’t know what everyone at the party thought, but the husband and I are seriously loving it.  If you need to make a vegan chili, don’t hesitate to try this one – it’s fantastic

The World’s Best Vegan Chili
adapted from this recipe

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chile peppers, drained
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can low sodium diced tomatoes (not drained)
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannelini/navy beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn

Directions

  • Heat olive oil in a medium sized skillet.  Add onion, bay leaves, cumin, oregano and salt and saute until onions are tender.  Next add bell pepper, garlic and green chilies and mix thoroughly.
  • As vegetables are cooking, combine crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, beans and corn to crock pot.
  • Stir in vegetable mixture and then add chili powder and black pepper and stir until combined well.  Allow to cook on low for several hours.

The cookies and chili weren’t the only thing that ended up being a success, the party was pretty fun too!

Let’s be honest though.  In the midst of my hosting duties, I really spent a lot of time holding this pretty baby, Sophie.  She’s my husband’s boss’ baby girl, and she is an absolute doll.  I really wanted to just keep her…but unfortunately it didn’t work out:(

All in all we had a great time.  I was so happy that the cookies finally were a success. I’ve put so much time and energy into them, and it felt so good to see the finished product.  Now I just need to make a couple more batches…

This week has been crazy so far and is only getting crazier!  I’m trying to finish up last minute Christmas shopping this week because we’re having Christmas with my family on Sunday.  Then next week it will be off to south Texas to see Jon’s extended family!  It’s sad that this season has to pass by so quickly – I can’t believe it’s already almost here!

What is one thing you’re hoping to get for Christmas this year or the one thing you’re most excited about giving?  I know it’s not about the gifts, but it’s still fun to give…and receive!

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christmas cookies: round 1

8 Dec

This morning I got up and went to work in the kitchen right away.  I decided a few weeks ago to make decorated (vegan) sugar cookies as a sort of Christmas gift for friends and coworkers.  And after finding some really cute cookie cutters at Williams Sonoma the other day,  I’m even more excited about it!  But first things first – I have to perfect the vegan sugar cookie and icing, which I fear will not be an easy task.  But I will do it or die trying:)

So, round one started late last night as I made my first batch of dough, placing it gently in the fridge to sit overnight and saying a prayer before turning out the kitchen light and heading to bed.

The second my eyes popped open this morning, I was so anxious to get in there and start rolling out my first batch!

Everything was going so well as I floured the counter-top, pressed out my dough and started rolling.

Once it was all flattened out smooth, I pulled out my new cookie cutters and pressed them, one-by-one into the dough.  So far so good.

The next step was when I began to sense a slight problem.  The cookies wouldn’t come up off my counter-top.  As soon as a slid the spatula under them and began to lift, they started breaking apart apart.  It was like they were too wet…even with a floured surface.

Now I haven’t made sugar cookies in over 10 years, so I really couldn’t remember exactly what the consistency is supposed to be…but I’m pretty sure they’re not supposed to tear into pieces before they even get to the cookie sheet.  But, by-and-by I managed to transfer them over with only a few casualties and some broken limbs:(  I placed them in the oven and hoped for the best.

14 minutes later I pulled them out, eager for a taste test.

note: they are brown as opposed to white because I substituted whole wheat pastry flour for all-purpose.

In the end, they turned out just okay – the taste was pretty much spot on.  But the texture was not right.  After taste testing a small bite, I found myself wanting more – so that’s encouraging, but they definitely aren’t gift worthy.  So, back to the drawing board I will go, with high hopes for better luck on round two.

I didn’t have much more time to bake this morning as I had to rush off to my tutoring appointment.  I usually come home during lunch before going back for my afternoon students, but today I decided to camp out in the OSU library and get some work done.

It’s kind of hard to see, but the other day they decorated the front of the building for Christmas – it’s so festive and pretty!  Makes me happy just to look at it.

I brought my current favorite lunch along for the ride as well, with a honeycrisp apple on the side.

This is the fastest lunch ever created – and it’s tasty too!  I used a whole wheat lavash wrap, spreading a layer of hummus down the middle and then sprinkling on some chia seeds and about one and a half tablespoons of nutritional yeast.  And last, I topped it with a helping of spinach leaves and broccoli slaw.

The chia seeds and nutritional yeast offer just the right amount of protein with a couple of grams thrown in by the hummus as well.  Did you now that nutritional yeast has vitamin B12 in it?  Vitamin B12 is usually only found in animal products, so for vegans it’s important to make sure to get it either through foods like nutritional yeast or take a supplement.  I do both!

Now I’m off to get ready to teach my yoga class.  Tonight the husband and I will begin wrapping gifts…only 2 nights left before we go see family!

Hope you’re all having a great week!

What is your favorite go-to lunch?