Christmas Dinner.

Loose recipes for traditional holiday meals, and a massive reminder to myself that Starchmas is perfectly well and fine.

Since moving, my last two Christmases have been food-filled, faraway, safe, and completely lack yelling, passive aggressive gift giving, and shitty food.

Christmas Dinner • Mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, stuffing, cranberry orange sauce, roasted carrots and portobellos, Tofurky Ham w/ homemadeXreduction.

Mashed Potatoes
Easy peasy! Boil up quarted potatoes with the skin on (about 10) until tender, drain, and pop 1/3 cup vegan butter, 1/3 cup almond milk, s+p, and nutritional yeast flakes. Mash by hand (just this past year I've become more than happy with hand mashed vs using a mixer?) Taste taste and add more almond milk, nooch, seasonings or butter as needed.

Melt 1/4 cup vegan butter in a small sauce pan, add in one small box (about 8) mushrooms that have been quartered up. Shove a lid on it and cook mushrooms until tender. Add in a few pinches of tarragon, 1/2 tsp salt, coarsely ground black pepper, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, and 2 cups water or vegetable stock. Stir, and taste test for seasonings. Scoop out about 1/2 cup of liquid into a mug or small bowl. Create a slurry with 2 heaping tbsp chickpea flour (adds a nice, rich, savoury taste!) or white flour. Pour back into your gravy and let boil until starting to thicken, about 1-3 minutes. Check consistency and seasonings one last time. If needed, create another small slurry and / or add in more water / stock if needed. If your consistency and seasoning is on point, pour into a small glass dish, with a metal spoon in the dish first.

Cranberry Orange Sauce
In a small saucepan or pot, pour in one small bag (about 1 1/2 cups) fresh cranberries, 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (depending on your preference of sweetness), zest of one orange and a quick squeeze for juice. No worries if pulp gets in there. By keeping this on medium/medium high the sugars will break down the berries and it'll cook itself just fine. If you'd like it super smooth, mash down with a fork. This will also thicken on it's own! If it's still far too thick for you, depending on preference, squeeze in more orange juice or add a couple tablespoons of water.

Tofurky + Glaze
I followed Tofurky's instructions to make this ham and MAN, was it a good'r. I used three chopped carrots and 1 huge portobello in this roast as well, with 3 tbsp quality neutral oil mixed about before covering and cooking this whole shebang. I wasn't sure how beer-y the beer glaze was, nor was I interested, so I made up my own quick glaze. I cracked open a wee bottle of The Great Jamaican Beer Co's Ginger Beer open, and poured half of it in a small saucepan with 1 tsp molasses, 2 tbsp pure maple syrup, and 1 tbsp Kikkoman soy sauce. I let this reduce on the corner element of my stovetop while creating the rest of my meal. The Tofurky needed to cook, covered, for 1h 15m, then cook uncovered with the glaze for another 15 min. I did just that and it turned out rad.

Dessert was shortbread, maple pecan bars, and saskatoon nutmeg cake with buttercream frosting.

Maple Bars
These were quick and easy. I adapted this Martha Stewart recipe. I completely skipped on the egg in the crust, used vegan butter all around, and subbed corn syrup for maple syrup because uh.. these are maple pecan bars? Heavy cream was sorted with coconut cream, and these baked up just proper.

Saskatoon Nutmeg Cake
Another adaptation, I used a recipe from The Joy of Vegan Baking, the Blueberry Lemon Muffin recipe. I omitted the blueberries and lemon zest, and simply subbed with hand picked saskatoons from last summer and 1/2 tsp nutmeg. I baked this up in two small loaf pans, and once cooled, topped with buttercream frosting. I pulled out my favourite little cookbook, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and replaced the butter with cookie butter, added in 2 tbsp vegan cream cheese, and 1/2 tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg.

My forever no fail recipe. I can't recall if this is a recipe I saw in a newspaper ages back, or if it's a ratio I was told many moons ago. Whatever it is, it's rad. Always use the 1:2:3 ratio.
1 part sugar
2 parts vegan butter
3 parts white flour
+ splash of vanilla
I used 1 cup : 2 cups : 3 cups, plus the splash of vanilla, though vanilla beans are just as great. Feel free to add in a dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, or orange peel. Cream together the butter and sugar, then slowly mix in the flour. It'll be a bit softed than "traditional" shortbread, but I promise they turn out just as flaky and buttery. I pre heated the oven to 325 and rolled this into a log. I wrapped tightly in Saran Wrap, the diameter was about 2 inches. Throw this in a freezer while your oven preheats and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. This recipe makes 2 dozen on the nose. Slice with a sharp little knife, into 24 pieces, and pop on the baking tray. 4 down, 6 across, and poke holes into each cookie with either a chopstick, toothpick, or fork. Bake for 22-25 minutes until lightly browned underneath. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before transferring elsewhere.

Last but not least, some crucial mail from my fav Americans. Ashley and Ryan sent along the greatest card, Lenny & Larry's Complete Cookies, just. brand dressings, and gomaxgo chocolate bars! Damn, snacks are the true meaning of Christmas. Super stoked all my pals got their Christmas greetings in the post right on time this year (Canada Post pulled some serious solids this year, really.) and am really looking forward to mailing some goods back to New York the moment this cold snap flies the coop.

Yam + PB soup.

Surely, really really great soup belongs on an old smoking advertisement. My thinkin's at 8am are typically on point, rest assured. Every once in a while, a woman slips. Kind of like that time I didn't update the blog in 7 months.

There's recipes all over the place for this curried yam soup with a big bunch of peanut butter in it. I remember seeing a recipe for it in our local newspaper, the Winnipeg Free Press, when I was a kid. Probably my best childhood memory, a soup recipe in a $2 newspaper..

The base of all these recipes are super similar and mine's no different: yams, red curry paste, peanut butter, coconut milk. 

If you have 20 minutes and a screaming gut, try out this super simple recipe. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

1 yam (about 14" x 5"), peeled and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 can coconut milk
1-2 cups water
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp red curry paste (I used this brand, always the cheapest and always yields the best results for me!)
1 tbsp coconut oil or mild-flavoured oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

In a medium sized stock pot, add in the coconut oil until melted, throw in your onions and sauté on low until softer and nearly translucent, then throw in the yams. Pour in the coconut milk, and keep the can, you'll be using it to put about a can of water in shortly. Stick a cover on it and let it steam up until the vegetables begin getting quite soft -- about 15 minutes. Give them a stir every once in a while. When the vegetables are tender enough to be pierced by a fork, add in one can of water, your curry paste, S&P, and peanut butter. You should have enough liquid to barely see the tops of the vegetables poking up. If that's the case, grab that immersion blender and begin blending on high until nice and smooth. Slowly add in more water at this point if the soup still feels a bit thick. When it chills overnight in the fridge, it'll firm up a bit more. Thank the starchy yams for that. 

Taste test, and add in any more salt and/or pepper as needed. Note, you can always add in more water at any point. Serve with injera, toasted rye bread, focaccia, or pita bread.

Chocolate almond pudding.

While making puddin' with avocados is certainly nothing new, I've had a tough time finding the right recipe that works just right for me. The recipe below features just 5 ingredients, in which you blend simultaneously for a minute.

3 small avocados (or 2 large avocados)
3/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1/2 cup almond milk
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp vanilla
optional: hazelnuts, white chocolate, orange peel, etc.

Blend up and dig in.


Good thing Winnipeg's cold snap broke, because I made a steaming, hearty pot of chowder two days after. It's so great, I broke into a charming sweat.

 Hey, it can be corn chowder. Or it can be "clam" chowder, thanks to the dehydrated shiitake mushrooms. Whatever you fancy. Coconut milk adds creaminess, while the immersion blender lends a hand in thickening up the rest - no muss, no fuss. Serves 2-4.

1 can coconut milk
1 cup water
1 cup corn
2 white potatoes - yielding about 1 1/2 cups
2 ribs celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
3/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms, chopped into bite size pieces
2 tsp old bay seasoning, or cajun seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

In a pot, bring water and coconut milk to a boil. Add in all vegetables and let simmer until all vegetables are soft.

Whip out the immersion blender, and blend about 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup until desired consistency is achieved.

Stir in old bay/cajun seasoning, and salt/pepper to taste.

Chocolate mint cookies.

Last month, my American pal Hannah sent up the ultimate care package including Girl Guide cookies. You know, the stuff us hosers definitely can't get up here? She included a pro tip of keeping those little dandies in the freezer and she was NOT incorrect. The Thin Mints are officially gone and it's been real.

With great panic and a sparkle in my eyeballs, I made a few test batches of these and am pretty pleased with the turnout. Shove some ganache on these if you fancy, but I like them as is. Sure, they look pretty beat without a chocolate coating, but still on point. Garth, that was a haiku.

Yields approx. 2 dozen

Ingredients I
1/2 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Ingredients II
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tbsp almond milk
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp peppermint extract
1/3 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F.

In your mixer, cream together butter and powdered sugar for a few minutes, until fluffy.

Add in all of Ingredients II and continue to mix until a thick dough is sorted out.

Shape into a disc and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Dust some flour on your table.  Roll out to about 1/8" in thickness. I patted the dough down with my hands first, then finished rolling with a non stick rolling pin.

Use a little glass or biscuit cutter to get roughly 2 dozen cookies cut out. Bake for 10 minutes on the button, and place on a cooling rack when done. 

Top with ganache if you like. I've been a fan of VeganBaking's recipe for a minute.

Keep in the fridge or freezer in a zip bag or cookie tin 'til they're gone.