It’s a Boy!!!

Some of you may have guessed from my extended recent absence that Baby H has made his debut!
 photo 456d9808-e106-4dd6-a252-6c492f049ce2_zpsb14e1a4b.jpg
He was born the morning of January 8, 2015, weighing a sturdy 8 pounds 5 ounces and measuring 21.5 inches long.  We have been home from the hospital a little over a week and it’s been quite a whirlwind!  He’s an amazing baby; really sweet and snuggly, and also alert and really strong!  We are quite taken with him.

I experienced some extensive blood loss following delivery and was severely anemic for a few days afterward, so I’m taking an iron supplement and have been trying to get lots of rest (the ultimate catch 22 with a newborn!) and eat as healthfully as possible.

Impossibly large bowls of oatmeal (also good for lactation!) and green smoothies have been lifesavers.
 photo IMG_42811_zps59b56bbf.jpg
 photo IMG_41651_zpsd2a6f80c.jpg

Plus a big batch of Becky’s Spinach Artichoke Dip with Garlic Cashew Cream is great for one-handed dipping 🙂
 photo image6_zpse1c76b88.jpg

Blogging is definitely still something I intend to do, albeit with somewhat less frequency as I adjust to my new life as a mother.  My goal is going to be once a week but please don’t hold it against me if it turns out to be a bit less here and there.  I do have some fun posts pre-scheduled in the next few weeks so do look out for those!

Oh and I hope to be back to reading and commenting on all of your blogs soon too! Don’t be surprised if the majority of the comments are timestamped in the wee hours of the morning…

Party On

Despite all of the craptastic snow, H and I went ahead with our holiday party on Saturday.  Although a lot of people had to bail, we still ended up with a crowd of about 20, so I’m glad that we kept the party on!waynes-world

“While Marty stepped up as our storm-watcher…

Holiday Party 015

…H went and got our Christmas fir.”  (I think he picked a perfect one!)
Holiday Party 018

“The stockings were hung by the chimney fireplace with care…
Holiday Party 019

While Ashley ran around the kitchen, trying not to despair.”

Actually, I am proud to report that I succeeded in my goal of not being a complete psycho with the menu this time around.  Of course, there was still plenty of work to be done, but I’m getting pretty adept at making a week long, day-by-day to-do list leading up to parties, and it makes it so much easier to manage my time efficiently.

Here are some pics of the festive eats!

Holiday Party 007Homemade hummus with veggies and crackers. Classic.

Holiday Party 005Becky’s Spinach Artichoke Dip with Garlic Cashew Cream (because I will never again host a party which doesn’t include this magical app).  This got demolished by the guests and as usual, everyone was surprised to find out it contained no dairy.

Plus tortilla chips with guacamole and salsa, several bowls of regular chips (in various flavors), and pistachios too.  The spread:
Holiday Party 022

And of course drinks.  So many drinks.  In the photo above, you can see the beginnings of the Mazal Tov Cocktail going into the punch bowl.

For entrees, I had a chili bar complete with cornbread, although apparently I didn’t take any pictures of that.  I also did Smoky Pumpkin Mac n Cheese by Jackie of Vegan Yack Attack, which I baked with breadcrumbs on top.

Holiday Party 020I like this recipe but I wouldn’t make it again for a party.  It was hard to keep it warm and it seemed to dry out after reheating.  Plus, it really benefits from the addition of sriracha, but I didn’t feel comfortable stirring that in because I try to go easy on the spiciness when serving to a mixed crowd, especially one that includes children.  There ended up being a lot leftover, which is great for me, because I’ll be eating the tasty leftovers all week (with all the sriracha my little heart desires).

And, finally, dessert!

Mini cupcakes (I used the Golden Vanilla Cupcakes recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and Chocolate Buttercream from the same book, plus pretty pink sprinkles!):
Holiday Party 023

A platter with assorted flavors of homemade holiday candy cups (recipe coming soon!) and Chloe Coscarelli’s Chewy Ginger-Molasses Cookies:
Holiday Party 025

Loving my super-retro serving platter, courtesy of Grandma 🙂

And arguably the biggest hit of the whole party, Grinch pops:
Holiday Party 001

I cannot take any credit for this idea, as I borrowed it from the Interwebs, but I will say that these were delicious as well as super-cute, and the kids at the party particularly loved them.  I will definitely be making these again!

Oh, and in case you had been wondering what, if anything, the fourth member of our household contributed to the party preparations, you’ll be pleased to know that Stewie got involved by testing the capacity of the trash bags:

Holiday Party 028It’s a good thing he’s pretty.

tumblr_m4fng4GvOU1qzydh2o1_r1_500

Hope you all had a great weekend!

It’s Officially “The Holidays”

It has come to my attention that I posted four days in a row last week (a feat sort of unheard of outside of Vegan MoFo).  I guess I just had a lot to say!

And now, just like that, it’s December.

The next few weeks will be a whirlwind of festivities, friends, family, and food.  I know a lot of people consider this period of “The Holidays” to be stressful, but I personally find the madness to be awesome and fun!

Next up will be planning the menu for our annual holiday party, plus figuring out what food gifts I am going to be giving to neighbors, co-workers, etc.  Still fixated on Slow-Cooker Vanilla Rum Apple Butter, for the time being.

But first, I want to recap the celebrations of the past week!

Last Tuesday, I went to the Boston Vegetarian Society’s pre-Thanksgiving dinner at Red Lentil in Watertown.  Earlier that day, I posted the incredible menu here.  What you really need to know is that the dinner lived up to almost every expectation I had.

Creole-Spiced Red Kuri Squash and Macintosh Apple Bisque:
TG2013 001

And my [first] plate:
TG2013 002

Starting at the 12 o’clock position, you have: Herbed Baked Zucchini-and-Pepper Gratin with Cashew Ricotta Cheese; Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy; Braised Seitan Medallion in Mushroom Gravy; Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts; Moroccan Pumpkin and Lentil Stew; and Round Polenta with Mixed Mushrooms and Cilantro Harissa Gremolata.

And, of course, dessert:
TG2013 004

Apple Pear Crisp with Graham Cracker Crust, with Locally Made Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream (from FoMu!); Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Sauce.

There were a couple of surprises for me, taste-wise.  I expected to adore both the zucchini gratin and the Creamy Cauliflower Soup with a Garnish of Fresh Mint, but they ended up being my two least favorite things.  I also wasn’t gaga over the pumpkin cheesecake. 

On the flip-side, there were a couple things I expected to find so-so that blew me away!  Perfect example is the Moroccan stew.  I figured that, because I make stuff like that so often at home, I would be more excited about the other dishes available, but oh MAN was that thing tasty!  It was perfectly spiced and textured and I had a huge second helping too.  The stew, along with the polenta and the mashed potatoes with that unbelievable white mushroom gravy are the three-way tied winners of the night.  Seriously I couldn’t even believe how good that gravy was.

So all in all it was a fantastic dinner, a fun way to meet some new people (I always show up to BVS functions by myself and I have never once lacked for someone to talk to), and a great way to gear up for the holiday weekend!

As planned, I brought two appetizers and one dessert for H’s family’s Thanksgiving celebration plus an entree for myself.

First was my new staple recipe for Spinach Artichoke Dip with Garlic Cashew Cream by Becky of Glue and Glitter, served in a bread bowl!
TG2013 009
It has been requested that I make this every year on Thanksgiving from here until perpetuity.

I also made hummus from scratch using a recipe that one of my judges recommended to me.
TG2013 011

This is life-changing hummus.  The trick is not only to cook the chickpeas from dried, but to actually peel them once cooked.  It’s a labor of love but something worth doing for a special occasion.  The hummus went with my sister-in-law’s veggie turkey platter:
TG2013 012

Two appetizers, two huge successes!  And no leftovers.

For my entree I decided to try out Vegan Richa’s recipe for Portabello Mushrooms Stuffed with Harvest Chickpeas (click here for the recipe).
TG2013 013

Um, wow.  This recipe makes an absolutely perfect vegan holiday entree.  It has a taste similar to traditional stuffing and it is SO GOOD with cranberry sauce!!  Here is my full plate:
TG2013 015

H’s aunt had made the most delicious and tender roasted brussels sprouts, and I had some leftover mashed potato from another recipe, which again was perfect with the chickpea stuffing and cranberry sauce.  No starving vegan this year!

And of course, for dessert:
TG2013 005
Chewy Ginger-Molasses Cookies by Chloe Coscarelli.  These are fail-proof.

And Friday after Thanksgiving means leftovers!  Chickpea stuffing on a bagel with cranberry sauce hit the spot:
TG2013 016

I’m working to catch up on everyone’s blogs from the last 4 days or so, but in the meantime, I want to hear about all the great stuff you ate over the weekend!  What were your Thanksgiving successes?

Success!

I am happy to report that all three of the vegan options I brought to my work  party last night WERE SUCCESS!

success

I made Chipotle White Bean Dip from Plant Based on a Budget:
Skull Cakes 002

Spinach Artichoke Dip with Garlic Cashew Cream from Glue and Glitter:
Take along 006

And Chewy Ginger-Molasses Cookies by Chloe Coscarelli:
Take along 011
Yep, that is the lonely remaining cookie from the smorgasbord.  No one ever wants to be the person to take the last one!  So he’s mine, all mine.

As I said, all three of the selections were very well-received.  Lots of folks commented on the perfect texture of the cookies and asked for the recipe.

People also seemed to really like the spinach-artichoke dip, and I got quite a few questions about it.   This was probably largely due to the fact that I put a sign on the bowl cautioning that it was nut-based, because to the naked omnivore eye, it looks just like a “normal” dairy-based spinach-artichoke dip, and I was worried that someone with a tree nut allergy would assume the dip was safe and be in for a very unpleasant surprise.  My lawyerly wheels are always turning, I tell you.

Anyway, I will probably repeat all three for Thanksgiving next week since each of them scores a 4 out of 4 on my recipe evaluation test (cheap, easy, omnivore-approved, and make-ahead).  To make it extra-special, I’m planning to serve the spinach-artichoke dip in a bread bowl with the bread pieces available for dipping.  I actually kind of wish I were eating that right now…

What are some other fail-proof dishes for bringing to omnivore gatherings?

Have a wonderful weekend!  Last one before Thanksgiving!!!