Vegan Spaghetti Carbonara

Though I have no clue why, a few days ago I was seized with the idea of cooking a vegan carbonara—despite never having eaten carbonara in my life, vegan or otherwise. Perhaps I saw a recipe while perusing Pinterest and it lodged in my unconscious? Or maybe I’m just nostalgic for the Sims 2 and preparing a Goopy Carbonara for my hapless Sims? Who knows. But I had to try it.

I fully intended to follow an existing recipe for this pasta dish. I had no frame of reference for how it should taste, and I only vaguely understood the premise: add uncooked eggs (and maybe cheese?) to hot pasta; wait for eggs to cook through (but not scramble!) and create a rich “sauce” that clings to the pasta. Top with bacon?

But as I opened up tab after tab of vegan carbonara recipes, nothing seemed quite right. One recipe relied solely on silken tofu, which seemed like it would give a decent texture but would risk the end result tasting overpoweringly of soy. Another recipe used an entire half cup of Follow Your Heart’s VeganEgg—a product I appreciate in theory but am frequently disappointed with in practice—to get that clingy, eggy texture, which made sense, but I didn’t have a whole package of the product on hand. And a third recipe employed that ubiquitous vegan favorite, cashews, to add a nice rich mouthfeel, but that method seemed like it would create a more generic cream sauce, not carbonara. All these elements seemed useful in the end goal of creating a true carbonara, but not by themselves. I had to mix them.

Vegan pasta carbonara
And thus, my very own vegan carbonara. A small addition of the VeganEgg provides that clingy texture, cashews offer a creamy and slightly cheesy flavor, and a small amount of silken tofu adds bulk. I included black salt to approximate eggy flavor and threw in a few scoops of nutritional yeast for cheesiness. Topped with crispy bacon, my carbonara was a surprising and delicious success. It’s quite filling, too—I had leftovers for lunch the next day. Now that’s the measure of a true winner.

Vegan Carbonara

Serves 3-4

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/3 cup cashews, soaked for as long as your blender requires it
  • 2 T VeganEgg + 1/2 cup cold water
  • 7 oz soft silken tofu (half a vacuum-sealed block)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or other nondairy milk)
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 T nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tsp kala namak (black salt; if you don’t have it, just use regular salt)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 pieces your favorite vegan bacon, chopped into small pieces (1/2″ or so)
  • 12 oz pasta
  • Parsley for serving (optional)

Method

Set your cashews soaking. If you have a high-powered blender, you can soak them briefly (I soaked mine while prepping the rest of the sauce); if not, be sure to start ahead of time as required by your blender.

In a small bowl, add the VeganEgg and the cold water and whisk forcefully until the powder is incorporated. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for another 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Turn off the heat and set aside, but keep the pan on the stove for later.

At this point, start boiling a pot of water for your pasta.

Drain the cashews and add them to your blender, along with the VeganEgg mixture, silken tofu, cooked onions and garlic, almond milk, lemon juice, black salt, nooch, and a few grinds of pepper. Blend on high until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasonings as necessary. Set sauce aside.

Heat a small amount of oil in the pan you used for the onion and garlic and add the chopped bacon.

By now, the pasta water should be boiling. Add pasta and set a timer for al dente pasta, following the package’s instructions. As the pasta cooks, monitor the bacon. It should heat through and become somewhat crispy. When the bacon is done (about 7 minutes), you can either leave it in the pan (so that it mixes in with the pasta and sauce) or scoop it into a small bowl (so you can top the pasta with it). Either way, turn the heat off but leave the pan on the burner.

When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and immediately add it to the hot pan. Pour the sauce over it and cook for about 4-5 minutes on low heat, using a spatula to coat all the pasta. When the sauce starts clinging to the pasta and darkening a bit in color, it’s ready. Serve topped with bacon and parsley (if using) and a few more grinds of fresh pepper. Enjoy!

Notes

  • I used Sweet Earth Natural Foods‘ Benevolent Bacon, but you can go with any brand you prefer. You could also make your own crumbles from tofu or tempeh, although a fattier product works best here—the fat released in cooking helps everything cling together at the end.
  • If you don’t have the VeganEgg on hand, I think you can forgo it. You’ll just lose some of that clingy, eggy texture. Feel free to experiment with other ingredients in its place!
  • I used linguine for my pasta, but spaghetti and rigatoni are also common choices.
  • A quality vegan parmesan would be a perfect addition here. If you have it, swap it for the nooch and use as much as you need to get a nice cheesy flavor.
  • Timing is important here; you want the spaghetti to be nice and hot when you add the sauce. For that reason, make sure to follow the steps as written.

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Vegan pasta carbonara // govegga.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Weekend Trip: Watkins Glen + Corning, New York, and the Ginger Cat B+B

Last March, Steven and I headed to New York State for a little getaway in advance of my 29th birthday — and I never shared the details. Shame! It was a fantastic weekend trip loaded with some of my favorite things, thanks to Steven’s careful planning.

I knew the general gist of our trip (a vegan B&B in New York State’s Finger Lakes region; a trip to the Pyrex exhibit at the Corning Museum of Glass) in advance, but not the details. And the details made this trip amazing.

Vegan Treats Bakery in Bethlehem, PA

We headed up to New York on a Friday evening, leaving after work and breaking up the six-ish hour drive with a stop at a store that’s been on my vegan bucket list for years: Vegan Treats. I think of it as the vegan baked goods mecca: if you’re a sugar-loving vegan, you need to visit at some point. (Or at the very least, try out its wares at select restaurants and VegFests on the east coast.)

Vegan Treats bakery in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

If you visit, don’t let the unassuming location on a residential street fool you; this place is well worth a visit. Vegan Treats smells like an old-timey ice cream shop, and it’s chock-full of beautifully decorated delights. I could barely contain my excitement as I ogled the dozens of impeccably decorated sweeties.

I thought we were stopping to stock up on a few snacks for the weekend, but no: Steven had a surprise waiting for me. Check out my birthday cake:

Yes, that is a reproduction of my favorite Pyrex pattern (Butterprint) in cake form! The amazing artists at VT hand-painted this beauty at Steven’s request. It was almost too pretty to eat! (Rest assured, eat it we did — later.)

Cake (and additional treats) in hand, we set off for our final destination.

The Ginger Cat B&B in Watkins Glen, NY

The Ginger Cat is an all-vegan B&B, and it’s a gem of a place. It even won a VegNews award a few years ago, and rightfully so. Owner Gita has created a cozy, homey vegan sanctuary for visitors to the Empire State. She’s the perfect host, willing to take guests’ leads on whether they prefer solitude or camaraderie. We arrived late at night and let ourselves in, grateful for a warm bed in a quiet house.

Pig and pamphlets at the Ginger Cat B&B in Watkins Glen, NY

During our two-night stay, we enjoyed chatting with Gita, a dedicated vegan who seems to be a go-to source in Watkins Glen for establishments looking to provide vegan offerings. If you need a recommendation for food, wine, or anything, she’s got you covered. On Saturday night, we cut into the Pyrex cake and made sure to share a piece with Gita, who thoughtfully offered up some locally made vegan ice cream (!) for topping. The mint chocolate chip was amazing and paired beautifully with my vanilla amandine cake.  I’ll admit that I was a little skeptical when I realized that it wasn’t chocolate, but the vanilla amandine won me over at first bite. It’s a mature flavor, not overly sweet, but nuanced, and the cake had a layer of vanilla frosting to set it off. The texture was really special, too — almost like a sponge or an Angel food cake, with a little bit of a crust at the edges The whole cake was covered with vanilla fondant, and although I know some folks can’t stand the stuff, I personally love its chewy sweetness.

Back to the Ginger Cat! Of course, the second B in B&B stands for breakfast, and we breakfasted like royalty. I’ve never been to a B&B; it was SO nice to wake up and smell breakfast cooking! Gita cooked up a feast each morning. From soy-sauce braised kale with cashews to tender scones to a savory quiche to waffles with lots of maple syrup, we had lots to choose from each day, all washed down by freshly made coffee (her tea collection was also impressive).

Note that although Gita has a few friendly kitties living in the house, they stay in the residential area, not in the B&B section. Steven has a fairly sensitive cat allergy, but he wasn’t bothered by them. If you do want to meet the kitties, just ask — Gita will be happy to introduce you.

Corning Museum of Glass + Pyrex Exhibit

Steven chose this particular weekend for a reason: it was the last chance we’d get to see a Pyrex retrospective at the Corning Museum of Glass. My love of vintage Pyrex is undying and well-documented, and I loved this opportunity to learn more about the brand’s history and to see its evolution throughout the past century.

Although not particularly expansive, the Pyrex exhibit was exhaustive: it included examples of just about every Pyrex pattern available at any time in the brand’s history, along with a comprehensive history of the brand’s founding and evolution. We had the exhibit to ourselves when we visited, and it was fantastic to take in the beautiful patterns in peace.

Even though this particular exhibit was temporary, the Corning Museum of Glass is well-worth a visit regardless. I didn’t quite know what to expect, and I was blown away by the sheer size of the museum: multiple levels house a breathtaking display of glasswork throughout the ages, from ancient Rome to the Islamic world and right up to contemporary designers. Honestly, you could spend an entire day here learning about how glass has been made throughout the centuries and ogling the gorgeous work.

But CMOG really won a place in my heart as one of my favorite American museums because of the demonstrations. You can watch firsthand as a master glassworker creates a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork from start to finish. (And, if you’re lucky, you might be the lucky audience member who gets to take it home!) The museum offers four different demo sessions (hot glass, flameworking, optical fiber, and glassbreaking) and runs each one a few times a day. Attendance is included in the price of your admission ticket. We attended a hot glass and a flameworking demo, and I was super thrilled that both featured bad-ass lady glassworkers! The museum also offers classes in glassmaking, but those cost extra and probably need to be scheduled in advance.

City of Corning, NY

After your visit to the Museum of Glass, take a little time to wander around Corning! This sweet small town is perfect for walking — make sure you stop at the Corningware, Corelle & More Factory Outlet store for discounts on kitchen goods! You can also goofily pose with this absurd giant Pyrex measuring cup. Because why not.

Pyrex measuring cup in Corning, New York

Veraisons Restaurant

Trust me on this one: If you are in the area and want a nice evening out, make reservations at Veraisons Restaurant. The Finger Lakes are home to a robust wine scene, and Veraisons is the eatery attached to Glenora Cellars. You’ll have a gorgeous view of the vineyard as you sip locally made wine and nosh on — wait for it — a gourmet vegan cheese board.

Remember when I said that the purveyor of the Ginger Cat has some kind of uncanny influence on businesses in the area? Well, she’s made her mark here too, and the chef(s) at Veraisons offer a rotating selection of house-made vegan cheeses. The board comes with three cheeses (the menu currently lists brie, a rarebit-style soft white cheddar, and a mozzarella, although it was slightly different when we were there), along with grapes, bread, and a few other nibbles. We were blown away with how delicious and unique these cheeses were, and how wonderful it was to see “vegan cheese board” on a menu alongside a local (dairy) cheese sampler. I’m clearly the worst blogger in the world, because I neglected to photograph it, but TRUST ME ON THIS: it is worth your while (and your dollars).

This surprising creativity carried over into the rest of the menu too. Vegan options are clearly marked and abundant, from “fish” tacos to eggplant parm to braised chickpeas. Prices are on par with similar upscale-ish restaurants, and you’ll be voting with your dollar to encourage more vegan options at Veraisons.

Farm Sanctuary

Our single regret on this short visit to Watkins Glen was that we couldn’t visit Farm Sanctuary — it was too early in the season! But don’t worry, we’ll return — and we’ll make sure we can visit this beautiful place while we’re there.

BONUS STOP IN SCRANTON!

Steven had one last birthday surprise in store for me during our drive back to Maryland from Watkins Glen: a stop in Scranton, PA. Why? Here you go:

Scranton sign from The Office

To see the original Scranton sign from The Office, duh! The sign has a permanent home in the Mall at Scranton, which you might know as the Steamtown Mall if you’re a fan of the show. Frankly, it’s a depressing place — one of those malls that’s failing to thrive, with more stores shuttered than open. A metaphor for dying industrial towns over the country, perhaps? Anyway, if you’re driving through and want a photo with a sign, it’s not a big detour. But don’t expect much entertainment at the mall!

IF YOU GO…

  • …to the Ginger Cat B&B, ask owner Gita for recommendations for vegan eats in the area. Lots of veg-friendly visitors come to Watkins Glen to visit Farm Sanctuary, and local businesses seem more than willing to accommodate them. Gita will be in the know about the most up-to-date options!
  • …to the Corning Museum of Glass, check out the scheduled demos as soon as you arrive and plan your visit around them. I highly recommend attending at least one, if not more!
  • …to the general Watkins Glen/Finger Lakes region, check that Farm Sanctuary is open so you can schedule a visit. Going in the late spring will also be better if you intend to visit any of the local parks. (We didn’t have time for this, but these hikes look gorgeous!)

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Vegan options for a weekend trip to Watkins Glen and Corning, New York

 

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Smoky Vegan Black Bean Chili

This is a recipe that truly surprised me. After a whirlwind long weekend with family in town (my mom, my sister, and my two adorable—but energetic!—little nephews), I wanted to make something quick and easy for dinner last Monday night after our houseguests rolled out. Chili seemed like just the ticket. Without much fanfare and without trying to fancy it up, I quickly whipped up a batch of black bean chili. And it turned out to be one of the best chilis I’ve made in a while, despite having minimal ingredients. Smoky, hearty, richly flavored and beautifully textured, this chili is going to become a mainstay in my dinner repertoire.

Smoky, Spicy Vegan Black Bean Chili // govegga.com

The secret? Two simple techniques:

  • Use fewer spices, but more of them—lots of cumin and coriander provide rich flavor.
  • Don’t rinse the beans! Instead, leave them in their aquafabulous coating. This makes for a gorgeously thick sauce that holds everything together and binds the flavor.

My only regret? That I didn’t have enough ingredients on hand to make even more chili! This is a small batch, so feel free to double it. (I’d recommend not immediately doubling the serrano pepper and chili powder; instead, taste for spice and go from there.) You could also omit the mushrooms if you’re not a fan, but I really enjoyed how their soft texture played against the beans.

Smoky Vegan Black Bean Chili

Makes about 4 servings

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8-10 cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 serrano chili, minced
  • 1 heaping tsp cumin
  • 1 heaping tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tsp smoky chili powder
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 15 oz fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 32-oz can black beans (Drain (and save!) the aquafaba, but do not rinse the beans themselves; you’ll add them directly from the can with whatever aquafaba remains)

Method

In a large stockpot, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onion softens and becomes translucent. Add the mushrooms and let cook for another 3 minutes, then add the garlic and serrano chili. Sauté for another 3 minutes, then add the spices (cumin, coriander, oregano, and chili powder) and stir to coat. Cook for another 30 seconds, then add the tomato sauce, fire-roasted tomatoes, and black beans. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Taste for spice and salt, then serve with your favorite chili toppings!

Notes

  • I used piment d’espelette, a really lovely chili powder my brother and his girlfriend got me for Christmas from a Seattle spice shop they frequent. You can find piment d’espelette on Amazon or just use whatever chili powder you have on hand.
  • I didn’t add extra salt because the tomato sauce and fire-roasted tomatoes I used contained salt. Your mileage may vary; check your brand of tomatoes and adjust salt accordingly.

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Smoky, Spicy Vegan Black Bean Chili // govegga.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my links, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)

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Oven-Baked Sweet Potato and Kale Patties

Happy 2017, pals! After the craziness of Vegan MoFo in November, I went 100% radio silent in December. What can I say? The holidays are always so busy, and since November was a mad rush of cooking, baking, recipe-writing, photographing, and blogging, I was pretty much spent when it ended. Let’s just call it a hiatus and move on!

I nearly always enter a new year with a few weeks of vegan cookie binging behind me, ready to incorporate just a little more good green food into my diet. It’s not that I don’t eat healthy foods during the holidays (I think I’ve eaten my weight in clementines in the past month!), but I tend to also eat lots of baked goods and indulgences. January seems like a natural time to re-calibrate and reset my eating patterns. Is it a resolution? Nah, just an intention to include more nourishing ingredients in my meals.

So in that spirit, today I bring you some simple oven-baked veggie patties, inspired by the sweet potato and mung bean croquettes I made a few years back. This recipe again features sweet potatoes as a base, but it also incorporates a handful of steamed kale and some crumbled tempeh for extra protein. I kept the flavors simple — fresh ginger, soy sauce, and curry powder — but you can add whatever spices appeal to you. The final step (brushing the patties with melted coconut oil and broiling for a few minutes) adds a little crunch and some extra flavor, but it’s totally optional; feel free to omit it if you’re cutting down on added fats.

Baked Sweet Potato and Kale Patties // vegan // govegga.com

Baked Sweet Potato and Kale Patties

Makes 12 patties

  • 1.5 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 block tempeh, crumbled into small pieces
  • About 2 cups kale, chopped finely (measure loosely after slicing)
  • 1/3 cup scallions, sliced thin (measure after slicing)
  • 1/4 C coconut flour (or other flour; coconut adds a little nutty flavor)
  • 1.5 T freshly grated ginger
  • 1.5 T soy sauce
  • 1/2 T curry powder
  • 1/2 T coconut oil, melted (optional)

Method

Begin by steaming the tempeh and the chopped sweet potatoes for about 15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork tender. While they’re steaming, you can finely chop the kale and slice the scallions. Set both aside.

When the potatoes are done, add them and the tempeh to a large mixing bowl. Let them cool slightly while you steam the kale just until soft, about 3 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400˚F and spray a baking sheet with oil (or line with parchment paper).

Using a wooden spoon, mash the sweet potatoes and tempeh mixture. Add the scallions, ginger, coconut flour, soy sauce, curry powder, and kale, and mix thoroughly. Then use your hands to form about 1/4 cup of the mixture into patties about 2″ across and 3/4″ thick; you should have enough of the mixture to make 12 patties. Place on the prepared sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes, then brush the patties with the melted coconut oil and broil for 5 minutes, just until they start to brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

~~~

These soft fork-tender patties are best eaten drizzled with your favorite sauce, alongside a big helping of veggies. You could try this peanutty coconut sauce or this similar curried version.

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Baked Sweet Potato and Kale Patties // vegan // govegga.com

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase something through my links, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)

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Handmade Vegan Holiday Gifts You Can Find on Etsy

As you might know, my love for Etsy knows no bounds. I’m constantly in awe of the creative independent makers who offers just about everything under the sun. I always want to support small businesses when it comes to holiday gift-giving, which means that many of my gifts end up coming from Etsy.

If you, too, would like to shop small this holiday season, read on! I’ve compiled a massive list of vegan-friendly, cruelty-free finds for everyone on your list. Happy shopping!

For the body!

For an exfoliating scrub that smells just like the holidays, check out this Vegan Balsam Flaxseed Rosehip Scrub. Loaded with flaxseed, colloidal oatmeal, and coconut milk, it’ll smooth away rough skin and leave you silky smooth.

If you need stocking stuffers, vegan lip balms are super affordable and come in tons of creative flavors. Mint Cocoa or Sugar Cookie (below) make great seasonal options!

Epically Epic Soap's Sugar Cookie Lip Balms

Image copyright Epically Epic Soap

>> For an extensive list of vegan lip balms you can find on Etsy, check out this post.

I don’t know about you, but I love receiving fancy soaps I wouldn’t necessarily buy for myself. You can’t go wrong with classic English Lavender; it’s a season-neutral scent that’s so lovely and calming. For tea enthusiasts, try this beautiful Vanilla Rooibos Gift Set, which includes soap, lip balm, and a fragrant unisex perfume. (Or check out the Earl Grey Gift Set instead.)

For the facial-hair-havers on your list, beard oil could be fun. Try Ranger of the North if you want an Aragorn smell-a-like (swoon), or Headmaster if you’d prefer to channel Dumbledore.

This list would be remiss without including some of the fabulous accessories you can find on Etsy. The sweet Floria bag in one of its many beautiful colors makes for an affordable, fun gift, while this bold sapphire-blue clutch (below) is a splurge for someone whose style you know well.

Image copyright MeDusa Brand

Image copyright MeDusa Brand

>> For an extensive list of vegan handbags, purses, and backpacks you can find on Etsy, check out this post.

For the home!

Candles make great gifts because they’re useful, long-lasting, and fun. For the Harry Potter fans in your life, how about a handmade soy wax candle that’ll make their house smell like Christmas at Hogwarts or Mrs. Weasley’s Jumpers? Or for the fan of classic holiday movies, try a Whoville-scented candle.

If you know your recipient’s decorative style, an art print could be a sweet, thoughtful option. I love the food-inspired watercolors at Marcella Studio, especially this Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil print. (Though this one, which features kale varieties, is pretty great too.)

Fettle and Fire's pig planter

Image copyright Fettle and Fire

Plants make any home a little bit homier — so how about gifting this adorable ceramic pig planter (above) filled with an easy-to-care-for succulent? I love the simple design and how charmingly rotund this piggy is.

For a recipient with a fireplace, check out these Scented Fire Starters — they’re both pretty and practical.

For the belly!

In my personal opinion, handmade, high-quality chocolates are one of life’s greatest luxuries. In other words, if someone were to give me a box of fair-trade vegan chocolate truffles from Creek House for Christmas, I would not turn it down. (And I would not share (unless you asked really nicely).)

Creek House Patisserie's truffles

Image copyright Creek House Patisserie

Creek House offers samplers in a few different sizes (6 pieces, 12 pieces, etc.) and with some mouthwatering flavors (like chili mango dark espresso). I’ve given Creek House chocolates to vegan/dairy-free folks a few times in the past, and everyone has enjoyed them — but nobody offered to share. Alas. (Okay, fine, all the recipients live out of state so I can’t really blame them!)

Perhaps you want to share the joy of vegan baked goods with a loved one, but your baking skills end at popping open a can of cinnamon buns and squeezing on ready-made icing. Of course Etsy has you covered. You could try these incredibly decadent chocolate and peanut butter dessert bars from The Healthy Vegan, or maybe a six-pack of dark chocolate cannoli from Veganlotus. (I haven’t had cannoli in years so it’s taking me loads of self-control not to order these right now.)

For that other tea enthusiast in your life (you know, the one who didn’t receive the tea-scented body care goodies listed above!), how about a loose-leaf tea gift set? I’ve tried many of these myself, and I love the creative, tasty blends. This sampler comes with both herbal and caffeinated teas so your recipient can drink them any time of day.

If your giftee’s caffeinated beverage of choice happens to be coffee, how about a pound of freshly roasted and ground fair-trade coffee? This seller roasts beans to your roast level of choice (and helpfully explains each one) and will also grind them to your specifications, if you’d like.

And if beans are too obvious a gift for the coffee fiend in your life, check out the Etsy Editors’ Picks coffee-themed gift guide for dozens of creative, coffee-related accoutrements.

>> What’d I miss? Share your favorite Etsy shops and gifts in the comments!

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Vegan holiday gift guide for Etsy // govegga.com

All images copyright their respective owners.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through my links, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)

VeganMoFo 2016 graphic

This list was originally published as part of the Vegan Month of Food, in line with the final prompt about giving vegan food gifts for the holidays.

10 Vegan Recipes to Make for the Holidays

VeganMoFo 2016 graphic

Week Five: Holidays!

It might not be December yet, but if you’re anything like me, you’re already planning your holiday cooking and baking. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a roundup of some of my favorite holiday-appropriate recipes from the blog! From drinks through dessert, I’ve got you covered.

1. Creamy Caramelized Onion Soup

This luxe, creamy soup makes the perfect start to your holiday dinner. Serve it alongside a loaf of crusty home-baked bread for extra deliciousness!

Nutty Quinoa-Stuffed Delicata Squash

2. Nutty Quinoa-Stuffed Delicata Squash

Serve individual squash halves as the main course, or halve them again to serve smaller portions as a side dish. Heck, if you don’t have squash on hand, just make the filling and serve it alone as a warm side dish.

Warm Lentil & Brussels Sprout Salad with Roasted Radicchio Wedges

3. Warm Lentil and Brussels Sprout Salad with Roasted Radicchio Wedges

If the combination of lentils, Brussels sprouts, and pomegranate seeds doesn’t scream “filling winter dish!” then I don’t know what does. Feel free to double the dressing if you’re serving someone who loves a big pop of flavor.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage and Toasted Hazelnuts

4. Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage and Toasted Hazelnuts

It is a scientific fact that you cannot fail to impress your guests if you serve risotta. Your secret? It’s incredibly easy to make! This version features pureed butternut squash, and its golden hue makes for a beautiful presentation.

Caramelized Onion and Broccoli Quiche

5. Caramelized Onion and Broccoli Quiche

Hungry houseguests clamoring for breakfast the morning after a holiday? Bake up this rich quiche. Who needs eggs when you’ve got aquafaba? You could also go rogue and serve this with your holiday dinner — why not?! It’s your house; you make the rules.

In the foreground, three chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips. In the background, a container of instant espresso powder, a glass of soymilk, and a stack of more cookies.

6. Espresso-White Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite part of the meal: dessert! For chocolate-y, caffeine-y decadence you can bake in advance, these cookies can’t be beat. Bring them to your annual cookie swap and you’ll be everybody’s favorite swap partner.

Chocolate-Orange Chia Seed Pudding

7. Chocolate-Orange Chia Pudding

Chocolate and orange: the quintessential Christmas flavor pairing? They come together in this creamy, healthier version of chocolate pudding. You could even eat it for breakfast!

Gluten-Free Vegan Sweet Potato Pie with a Pecan-Date Crust // govegga.com

8. Sweet Potato Pie

I know I keep talking about this darned pie — but it’s just so good! Whether you serve it in a gluten-free nut crust or a more traditional pastry crust, the creamy, pumpkin-like filling will make your guests salivate.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Buckwheat Bites

9. Chocolate-Hazelnut Buckwheat Bites

Sure, buckwheat doesn’t exactly sound like the most indulgent of ingredients. But trust me — these rich, chewy buckwheat bites do indeed taste indulgent! Buckwheat offers a beautiful crunch and a little bit of savoriness to counteract all that rich chocolate.

Vegan chai hot toddy // govegga.com

10. Chai Hot Toddy

Wrap up your holiday evening the way it’s meant to be ended: on the couch in front of a crackling fire, wrapped in a cozy blanket, with a mug of something steaming hot. I recommend this hot toddy, but if you want something non-alcoholic, you could do worse than my hot molasses mug!

So — what are you making for the holidays?

Holiday Baking and Cooking Plans

VeganMoFo 2016 graphic

Week Five: Holidays!

Today’s prompt is so appropriate for me: “Holiday Bake Day! – What are you planning on baking over the winter holidays? Do you make cake, or cookies? Or something savory?”

ALL OF THE ABOVE!

No, seriously. I LOVE the holiday season! And I love holiday baking and entertaining. Steven and I are hosting a holiday party in a few weeks — the first party in our new house — and you better believe I’ve already started planning the menu. Since we’ll have 20+ guests, we won’t serve dinner, but we’ll whip up a boatload of snacks and drinks to keep everyone happy. That’s what we did last year — check out the spread at our 2015 holiday party.

 

Holiday party spread 2015

Last year’s menu was such a success that I probably won’t change it too much this year. Here’s a rough outline, along with my notes:

  • Savories:
    • Homemade vegan cheeses
    • Crackers, some store-bought and some homemade because I like to make things more complicated than necessary
    • Hot caramelized onion-bacon dip — a perennial favorite; I think our guests would boycott the party if we didn’t serve it.
    • Sliced baguettes (store-bought)
    • Veggie crudités
    • A couple other dips — mushroom pâté? olive tapenade? a classic hummus?
  • Sweets:
    • Regular fudge
    • Maple fudge (insert heart-eyes emoji here)
    • Gingerbread cookies? Or regular gingerbread, and sugar cookies instead?
    • Candied nuts
    • Something else — pie? cake? cupcakes? Probably a cake.
  • Sippables:
    • Mulled wine
    • Assorted beer, wine, and hard liquor
    • Various mixers (cranberry juice, apple cider)
    • At least one cocktail — I made cranberry martinis (with homemade cranberry simple syrup) and this creamy coconut cocktail (with homemade coconut-infused vodka and coconut cream) last year

Holiday party spread 2015: cheese!

What am I missing? What would you choose for my TBD items? And do you want to come to my party? :P

Changed Opinion: Squash!

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Week Four: Memories and Traditions

The astute among you might remember that I started this month saying I wasn’t going to follow the daily prompts. If you’ve been reading regularly, though, you’ll notice that the past few days I’ve followed them faithfully. I blame the Thanksgiving holiday; I was in Rhode Island with my family and wasn’t up to anything more involved than answering the daily questions. It’s this way every year: I start off with a few posts pre-scheduled, a few recipes ready to go, and then I wing it the rest of the time, often developing a recipe a couple days in advance. And then the end of the month comes and I get busy with something else, and the recipes fall by the wayside. Ah well. I’ve still had fun answering these questions!

And today’s prompt requires some fun introspection and reflection: “Changed Opinion – Was there a food you used to hate, and now don’t?” This one is pretty simple, and I’ve actually addressed it this month. I never cared for squash (of any type!) or sweet potatoes in my childhood and early adulthood! Yet today I consider squash and sweet potatoes true staples in my diet. What do they have in common? I think it’s the texture (mushy, occasionally stringy) and the flavor (sweet, when you might expect savory) that initially turned me off, but I’m glad I’ve changed my tune (mostly through exposure!).

Creamy vegan butternut squash gratin // govegga.com

In fact, earlier this month, I shared both a squash recipe (above) and a sweet potato recipe! And if you search the tags on my site, I’ve actually blogged quite frequently about both ingredients. From risotto to stew (below) to pizza sauce, both ingredients are endlessly versatile in my kitchen. What’s your favorite way to use them?

Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Soup

Favorite Vegan Cookbooks!

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Week Four: Memories and Traditions

Today’s prompt is “Cookbooks – Show us your favourite cookbooks!”  During a similar prompt last year, I talked about Miyoko Schinner’s The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples.  

Schinner Pantry TOC

This book is still one of my favorites, though I’ll admit that I haven’t tried too many new-to-me recipes from it recently. The biscuit mix is a great staple to have on hand, though!

I’m also still dreaming about Meera Sodha’s Made in India: Recipes from an Indian Family Kitchen, which I reviewed a few months back.

made in india -- cookbook review

Made in India stands out in my stack of library books.

Not only is this book beautiful (just look how colorful!), but it makes Indian cooking accessible and achievable. I took it out from the library, renewed it as many times as I could, and am still thinking of adding it to my collection.

Those two books stand out right now, but I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Vegan with a Vengeance — it was my first vegan cookbook, and the updated 10th anniversary edition looks beautiful. The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out is a new favorite too; I love the fresh, healthful, creative recipes. But really, I rarely meet a vegan cookbook I don’t enjoy! How about you?

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)

Vegan Memories

VeganMoFo 2016 graphic

Week Four: Memories and Traditions

Today’s prompt is “vegan memories” — which is remarkably appropriate for this blog, since I’ve been keeping it on and off since becoming vegan. Here are a few posts and foods that bring back particularly strong vegan-newbie memories for me:

  • This post, regarding Isa’s ancho lentil soup. A friend made the soup back in my early flirting-with-veganism days, so it holds a particularly strong spot in my taste-memories.
  • The Mucho Margarita cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.I made them for my college graduation party, and I remember my little cousin (not so little now) eagerly helping. Everyone was surprised that the cupcakes were — gasp! — vegan. Little did they know that in a few years, nearly all shared food items at family gatherings would be vegan.
  • Banana soft serve, eaten any old way. Banana soft serve exploded onto the blogosphere in summer 2009, right before I went vegan — and it was one of the first “raw foods” (hah!) I tried.
Similar photo to the previous one, but this one is taken from a bit further away.

A sundae on Sunday.

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase something through my link, it costs nothing extra for you, but I get a few pennies. I’m not looking to make a fortune, just to cover hosting costs. :)