Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Festivus for the Rest of Us

Feliz Navidad!

We do things a little un-traditional in our house. Since my husband has always hated ham and I have never been good at making typical American food, we decided years ago to do what we wanted to do at Christmas time! As lovers of pasta and residents of the southwest for many years we came up with a tradition of an Italian Christmas Eve and a Hispanic Christmas. Why? Why not! J

So every year we enjoy a baked pasta dish with salad and bread and Christmas cookies (of course) on Christmas Eve and then on Christmas day I make tamales!!
This year I experimented with some old recipes and tried some new and voila a Festivus miracle (the food turned out yummy)!!!...

Here is what we feasted on this year with recipes posted below, except of course my parents’ Traditional S.O.S Egg Dish… get that recipe you will have to be part of the da family (say it in your best Godfather voice). J


Christmas Sugar Cookies
(Courtesy of Chef S and Chez Bettay)

I’ve tried lots of sugar cookie recipes over the years and have disliked most of them. Either the cookies were too hard or too sticky or not sweet enough.
These cookies are PERFECT! Absolutely delightful. Easy to make. Easy to roll. And most importantly…. delicious!!!!
See weblink above for her recipe.
I made no changes to this perfect recipe.
(And helpful hint – make all the dough and frostings 1-2 days in advance and refrigerate till needed on Christmas Eve or Christmas day.)

You can use any recipe you like.
I whipped Earth Balance Butter with powdered sugar and a touch of vanilla extract till at a perfect consistency. So simple.

Adults: 2 thumbs up. Children: 4 thumbs up

Chef E’s Italian Bake
Every year this recipe varies slightly. Different pasta. Different vege added. We used to bake with cheese now we don’t. You can modify it to your liking.

This year we did the following:
1 lb gigli tricolor pasta
16 ounces marinara sauce (make your own or buy it – this year I used Costco’s White Linen’s All Natural Gourmet sauce. Yum)
2 zucchinis
4 shitake mushrooms
4 crushed garlic cloves
2 green onions chopped
1 cup diced tomatoes (we love tomatoes)
1 can black olives
1 cup frozen chopped kale
1 package Field Roast Sausage (from seitan) sliced.

Easy to make:
Cook your pasta.
Sautee all your veges and seitan sausage with olive oil and then add the marinara sauce and simmer.
Mix with your cooked pasta. Let simmer several more minutes.
Top with Vegan Rice Parm Cheese.
And Serve.
Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. (Got kids? Then you must hear this often!!!) J

Votes: Adult: 2 thumbs up. Children: 4 thumbs up

"Da Family’s" S.O.S Tradition
All I can say is that it has been adapted from my family’s original recipe.
I use Earth balance instead of butter and soy milk instead of cow’s milk.
And thank you to our chicks for providing the delicious eggs.

Adult: 2 thumbs up. Children: 3 thumbs up (one of our kids doesn’t eat eggs. she is our hard-core vegan)

A GingerBread Family
I used to not like anything gingerbread-ish. However, in the last 3 years I have gained an appreciation and enjoyment of all things ginger. We rotate between houses and men/women. This year our eldest chose men/women. These go great with Silk Soy Nog.

5 cups of flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves

Melt in a sauce pan:
1 cup Crisco vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
1.5 cups molasses

Cool and then mix all together and add two eggs or use Energy Egg Replacer (As I did).
Roll and cut into desired shapes. (or refrigerate for 2-4 days till needed)

(they also serve as abominable snowmen)

Adult: 2 thumbs up. Children: 4 thumbs up

Tiramisu Cheesecake (ooo la la)
Every Christmas season I make many tiramisus. It took me 8 years to craft my perfect Old World Traditional Tiramisu and then 1 month later we went vegan. I found whipped coconut milk to be the perfect substitution for whipped cream (tofu, yuck!).
This year, inspired by the Clark Family, I decided to try something new, but nothing borrowed or blue. I made my first Tiramisu Cheesecake. AND it was really good!
It turned out looking a little funky (sort of like bread pudding). So I covered it with cocoa powder and chocolate shavings and then it was perfect!
This will be my new recipe for the season! I found this online and veganized it

Espresso Syrup:
Make 1 cup instant coffee
Add ¼ cup sugar and 2 tbs Kahlua

12-16 lady fingers (can find vegan variety online or at WFs)
24 ounces of soy cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs Kahlua liqueur
1 tbs Amaretto (my special edition – thought it would taste nice)
4 eggs (I used Energy Egg Replacer b/c our chicks can only lay so many eggs.J)
1/3 cup soy creamer

16 lady fingers, quartered
½ cup melted Earth Balance butter
½ cup sugar
2 tsp instant coffee
Dark chocolate bar for shavings
Cocoa powder and cinnamon to sprinkle on top

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Lightly spray a 9 inch spring form baking pan with oil
Prepare syrup in a sauce pan. Then cool to room temp.
For cake: arrange lady fingers in the bottom of the baking pan and then drizzle with the espresso syrup.
In a large bowl mix the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, liquors, and soy creamer.
Pour over prepared crust.
Now make the topping: Melt butter, add sugar and coffee.
Pour into a bowl and toss the quartered lady fingers.
Arrange on the top of the cake and bake for 45 minutes.
Cool overnight. Then dust with cocoa powder, cinnamon and chocolate shavings.

Adult: 2 thumbs up (and one of us hates tiramisu, not me!) Children: no vote (didn’t want to try it)

Chef E’s Terrific Tamales

This year I decided I wanted more authentic tamales. So I did what every good gringo would do – I visited YouTube! J
I found this adorable video. Even if you don’t want to make tamales, I would still watch it. The little girls are so cute!
I learned the secret! Ancho Chile Sauce!!!
I visited my local Food City and bought all my ingredients and pretty much stuck to what they did in the video, minus the animal flesh and lard!

Here is what Senorita E cooked up:

Ancho Chile Sauce:
1 package El Guapo Pasilla Ancho Chiles
1 cup cilantro (b/c I love it)

Filling: (this is a mock meat version, you could always add beans or veges)
2 packages of Seitan crumbles
1 package of Soy “turkey” crumbles
1 package of shredded Seitan
2 fresh poblano peppers chopped (b/c I love them)
2 cups cilantro (yum)
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 garlic cloves (b/c I don’t like vampires) J
1 cup ancho chile sauce

4 cups masa
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbs salt
1 cup Crisco
1 cup Ancho Chile sauce


Soak your corn husks overnight in water!
Make your Ancho Chile Sauce:
De-seed the dried chiles. And slice them. Place in a pot with 1 cup of water and steam them until tender (about 20 minutes). Then pour into your blender and voila you have sauce!


Make your filling:
Sautee all the above ingredients in your skillet. Let it simmer for several hours so the poblano peppers are fully cooked.
Then store this 1-2 days in your refrigerator.


Make your masa:
Combine all the ingredients in a BIG bowl. Mix and mix till your arm wants to fall off. Then mix some more.
Then the fun part!
Assembling the tamales (see youtube video – pretty easy to do).
Stack them in your double broiler and let them cook for 2 hrs!
Then ENJOY!!!! What a treat! We served ours with fresh cilantro, guacamole, refried beans and Spanish rice.
And since we made over 50 tamales– we froze most of them to enjoy over the new year!

Adult: 2 thumbs up (best tamale ever according to El Senor de la Casa)
Children: 4 thumbs up (and wasn’t too spicy!)

Adios mi Amigos!!
And Feliz Ano Nuevo!!!!

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