That Festive Feeling

It’s Christmas Eve!

I decided to be extra festive by pairing a red cardigan with a bright green smoothie (orange-peach-mango juice, frozen banana, frozen strawberries, and spinach).  The 38-week bump makes it extra sassy, no?
 photo image_zpscab80fdb.jpg

Now it’s almost time to get ready for Mass followed by dinner with H’s family. It’ll be a really nice night, although I’m a little bummed to have to spend the holidays away from my family this year. Traveling 5+ hours to New Jersey just really isn’t wise this close to the end of my pregnancy.

I made myself feel better by baking some Chai Spice Snickerdoodles from Isa Does It, which made my house smell extra wonderful and Christmasy!
 photo image1_zpsf9b650fd.jpg
I cannot wait to eat these. I guess in the spirit of the season I will share *some* of them.

Wishing a very merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

Advertisements

Vegan Life Magazine

I love good vegan reading material, especially magazines.  I mean really, I keep all of my old VegNews issues in chronological order on a special shelf!  It sounds pretty dorky, but whether it’s articles on important issues like animal rights and environmental issues or lighter topics such as great vegan restaurants, I always come away feeling inspired and newly enthusiastic about veganism.

I was excited recently to learn of a new, digital vegan magazine called Vegan Life, which is based in the UK (and if you live in the UK, it is available in print too!).  With two issues currently under its belt, and the third set to be published December 23rd (tomorrow!!), this magazine is creating some serious buzz.  Their tagline is “Bringing Vegan into Vogue” and it’s not hard to understand why,  with each issue containing over 100 pages of articles ranging from raising vegan children to managing health conditions with a vegan diet to celebrating cruelty-free holidays.

For instance, check out the Table of Contents from the first issue (September/October 2014):
image (6)
image (7)

Unsurprisingly, my attention so far has been most captivated by the food.  Oh, the food!   The September/October 2014 issue has a five-day cleanse that I cannot WAIT to do after Baby H arrives.  And I want to make these Mean Bean Taco Cups (from the November/December issue) immediately if not sooner:
image (8)

I download and read the magazine right on my phone (a tablet would probably be better due to screen size, but sadly I don’t have one).  The photography is vibrant and gorgeous and the content is really substantive, covering a wide array of issues important to vegans and others who are interested in an ethical lifestyle.  I’d definitely recommend it.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free subscription to Vegan Life magazine for review purposes.  I was not compensated in any other way for this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own.  And as always, I do not agree to publish reviews unless I feel confident that it’s something you guys will actually love!

Favorites from the 2014 Virtual Vegan Potluck

As always, this past weekend’s Virtual Vegan Potluck was a ton of fun, with so many tantalizing dishes and beautiful photos to peruse!

It’s an honor to participate but selfishly I also LOVE the VVP because I always discover so many new blogs and come away with dozens of new, amazing recipes to try!  In case you didn’t have a chance to browse the 85+ dishes that were presented this weekend, I’ve collected some of my personal favorites for your viewing pleasure.  It was tough but I narrowed it down to two from each course (except in courses with less than seven submissions, in which case I chose only one favorite).

Please note that all photos are the property of the bloggers whose dishes they show.  I am reposting them ONLY so that you can appreciate the talent and hard work of the bloggers, and in the hope that you will give them a visit to check out the recipes for yourself!

Appetizers
Lemon-Thyme Polenta Bites with Arugula Pesto and Mushrooms from Seasonal Veg Head
Vegan Dilled Ceviche from Veggie Inspired
Vegan-Dilled-Ceviche-1

Beverages
Festive Spiced Tahini Hot Chocolate from Bunny Kitchen
Cranberry-Grapefruit White Wine Spritzer from Glue and Glitter
cranberry-white-wine-spritzer

Salads
Tropical Fruit Salad with Raspberry Dressing from Parsley in my Teeth
Rosemary Infused Grapefruit and Kale Salad from The Glowing Fridge
Rosemary-Infused-Grapefruit-and-Kale-Salad1

Breads 
Rosemary and Meyer Lemon Focaccia from Yup, It’s Vegan
vegan_rosemary_and_meyer_lemon_focaccia_whole_grain_1

Soups/Stews
Creamy Lemon Asparagus Soup from Helyn’s Healthy Kitchen
soup top

Sides
Lentil Sweet Potato Salad with Grapefruit Vinaigrette and Crispy Shallots from Veganizzm
Cranberry Pomegranate Pear Sauce from A Journey with Tiffany
Cranberry-pomegranate-pear-sauce-title

Mains
Mushroom Duxelle Ravioli in Cashew Cream Sauce from Astig Vegan
Seitan Marbella from Fried Dandelions
marbella2-580x1015

Desserts (aside from my own Spiced Maple Butternut Crisp of course!)
Chocolate Orange Hazelnut Truffle Tart from My Darling Vegan
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Pretzel Frosting from Veggies Don’t Bite
Lemon Curd Tiramisu from Marfigs’ Munchies
profiletop2

Okay…I couldn’t pick just two desserts…

Another VVP in the books.  Now, off I go to get started on recreating some of these delights!

Virtual Vegan Potluck: Spiced Maple Butternut Crisp

Welcome!  I hope you’re enjoying the December 2014 Virtual Vegan Potluck so far.  Thanks for stopping by A. Cook in the Making!
vvpLOGO
For the dessert course of this year’s VVP, I’m bringing a Spiced Maple Butternut Crisp.
 photo VVP015_zpse8c2e71f.jpg
Featuring tastes and aromas that evoke late autumn and the holidays, this not-too-sweet dessert is warm and familiar but still a little unique.  Plus, you can feel good about eating it because it’s technically made from a vegetable 🙂  Leftovers heat up very well and make a terrific breakfast too!

Spiced Maple Butternut Crisp
Vegan, dairy-free, soy-free; gluten-free option
Serves 8-12

Ingredients
For squash:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled well and sliced into thin half moons (think apple slices)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablepoons Earth Balance buttery spread (optional…use soy-free blend if necessary)

For topping:
1/3 cup flour (all-purpose or gluten-free)
1 cup rolled oats (certified gluten-free if needed)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup melted coconut oil or Earth Balance

For serving:
Non-dairy vanilla ice cream (I use So Delicious Vanilla Bean coconut ice cream and it is divine)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a 9 x 11 baking dish and set aside.

Place butternut squash slices in a large bowl.  Add cornstarch, orange zest, orange juice, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, and stir until well coated.  Add mixture to prepared baking dish.  At this point, if you wish, add Earth Balance on top, like so:
 photo VVP012_zps31f4ee59.jpg
To make the topping, combine all ingredients and stir until well incorporated.  Spread evenly over squash mixture.  Cover baking dish with tin foil, poke a few holes in the top with a fork, then place in the oven and bake for 40-60 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a fork.

To serve: I recommend stirring this before serving, because a lot of the sweet gooey stuff tends to collect around the bottom.  Once stirred, place in a bowl, top with vanilla ice cream, and enjoy!

If you would like a sweeter crisp: sprinkle an additional 1/4 cup of granulated sugar over the crisp while still warm and stir to incorporate.
 photo VVP013_zps530a5554.jpg

go_forward-300x243
To move on in the potluck and see what dessert Apsara has brought, follow this link to Eating Well Diary.

go_bck-300x257
To go back and revisit Koren and Alana’s submission, follow this link to She Makes Magic.

Happy Potlucking! photo VVP014_zps91470cd2.jpg

Easy Weeknight Meal: Potato Mash Bowls

Now that it’s December, this baby thing is suddenly starting to feel really, really real. With my due date less than 5 weeks away, I’m experiencing a real struggle between my insane, compulsive desire to get everything ready on one hand, and various aches, pains, and (at times overwhelming) exhaustion on the other.

I haven’t been doing a whole lot of what I would consider to be “real” cooking, but I have been making strides toward my goal of cleaning out our freezer, fridge, and pantry to clear out some stuff that’s been hanging around a bit too long, and make room for some easy, convenient items and pre-prepared meals that H and I can turn to in the first few weeks after Baby H comes home.

One thing that has been really working for me as a dinner option has been what I call Potato Mash Bowls, and it’s really as simple as baking a potato in the microwave, mashing it up, and putting some veggies and protein on top. These bowls are really quick to prepare, easy to adapt to whatever ingredients (or leftovers) you have lying around that need using, and importantly are really, really tasty and satisfying to eat.

The base:
 photo Halloween012_zpsb97fb790.jpg
Here, I mashed up the potato with some Earth Balance and Slap Ya Mama Cajun seasoning.

Then, I added steamed broccoli (from the freezer!) and black beans:
 photo Halloween013_zps204ad4d8.jpg

I also did one topped with veggie chili (also from the freezer! I feel so accomplished!) and a heap of nutritional yeast:
 photo Halloween020_zpsdab9a7f2.jpg
I love these bowls!!

I will have more freezer meals to share with you in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I’d love to hear any ideas you have for stuff I can make and freeze to have on hand when baby comes home. I am thinking about chili and soups, but would love suggestions for more casserole-type entrees if anyone has any. Thanks in advance 🙂

It’s Still Pumpkin Season! Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Recipe

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend!  Knowing that next year there will be a new little human in the mix had me really cherishing the time we spent with family and friends this time around.

I can’t be the only one who feels that pumpkin season shouldn’t end with Thanksgiving, but should continue through the entire fall and holiday season.  My taste for pumpkin is still going strong, in any event!

Remember those wisdom-giving pumpkin pancakes?  The leftovers got me through several breakfasts last week.  I had them rolled up with a bit of White Chocolate Wonderful and they were divine.
 photo PumpkinPancakes009_zps1008c821.jpg

Once those were gone, I put the leftover pumpkin puree to good use in delicious smoothie form.  There are a thousand and one pumpkin pie smoothie recipes on the Internet, and now I’m throwing mine into the mix as well!
 photo Vegan032_zps1895ec3a.jpg

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Serves 1
Vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free

Ingredients
3/4 – 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond-coconut)…add less milk for a thicker consistency, more for thinner
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 frozen banana
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Small pinch of ground cloves

Directions
Blend and enjoy!

 photo Vegan033_zps361a7279.jpg

Are you still getting your pumpkin fix? Let me know how!