Lookin’ Back: Christmas 2012

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m really lucky to have such a veg-friendly family. This past Christmas, our dinner table was overflowing with a variety of delicious vegan options. They were supplemented by a cheesy lasagna and some sort of meat in sauce that my aunt brought, but we won’t talk about those. ;) Let’s focus on the animal-free stuff!

But first, our traditional Christmas morning breakfast: cinnamon buns and grapefruit (not pictured)! Mom used the same Vegan Yum Yum cinnamon bun recipe she’s used for the past three years, and these were as heart-stoppingly decadent as ever. This year, I could barely manage to eat a quarter of mine, it was that rich! Here’s the buns pre-eating on Christmas morning:

A glass pan of baked cinnamon rolls being topped with a cream cheese icing.

Buns!

After a morning of intimate immediate family present opening, our guests arrived and it was time for dinner. Mom had a bit of a panic because we were running late with our preparations, but my brother and I stepped in and made sure we were on track. We were a good team!

Our first course was a Mexicali Chopped Salad I prepared. My mom ended up whipping up the dressing based on an internet recipe I can no longer find, but rest assured that it was cilantro-y, lime-y, and absolutely delicious. The salad included romaine lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, corn, pinto beans, diced avocado, and homemade tortilla strips.

Small bowls of a choppe salad topped with thin tortilla strips.

Christmas salad!

Our next course was even greener than our salad. My brother took advantage of Mom’s Vitamix (oh how I covet it!) and created a spinach-y, spicy blended soup. I don’t know what he put in it, but I recall a curry spice blend and lots of flavor. It might not have been the prettiest soup, but it packed a tasty punch. My uncle described it as “like drinking a salad” – he meant it as a compliment, too!

A large ceramic tureen filled with a silky, olive-green soup.

Green soup.

And then – finally! – we set to work on the main course. My (non-vegan) aunt had an old paper copy of a recipe for something called African Rabat, a veggie-laden stew laced with all sorts of comforting, warming spices. (We started calling it “rabbit” eventually, a very non-vegan name for a very vegan dish!) The recipe made an insanely huge amount of stew, so we cut it down some – but still managed to fill my parents’ large wok precariously full. We ate leftover rabbit for days! To serve the stew on Christmas, though, Mom picked up some sourdough bread bowls from Panera for herself, my brother, and me, so our vegan main course was super filling. We managed to stuff ourselves with side dishes, too – I gently seasoned and then roasted three varieties of colorful cauliflower, and my sister made a vegan version of the classic sweet potato casserole dish. She used a liberal hand with the Earth Balance and brown sugar and then she topped it with a thick layer of Dandies, so it was a super sweet dish – really more of a dessert! I’ll excuse her, though – she is pregnant, after all! ;)

In the foreground is a small plate with roasted cauliflower and sweet potato casserole. In the background is a bowl filled with a bread bowl filled with stew!

The main event!

Needless to say, we were STUFFED after dinner! I barely ate a third of my bread bowl, and I was still full. (Don’t worry, I ate my leftovers the next day.) A few hours later, after the exertion of distributing and opening gifts, we were ready to fill our bellies with even more food – this time of the sweet variety! Besides the multitude of non-vegan desserts, we had three veg options. First up is my dad’s cheesecake. Apparently Dad has been quite the vegan cheesecake-maker; he’s experimented with both cashew-based and nut-free varieties because my sister is allergic to nuts. This particular cake was cashew-based, and it was fantastic. The bottom layer was a simple vanilla, and then he topped it with a sweet orange layer. Finally, he covered the whole thing in a sweet, tangy cranberry sauce. Delicious!

A tall, multi-layer cheesecake topped with cranberry sauce.

Non-cheesy cheesecake of deliciousness.

My contribution to the dessert table was this Candy Cane Bundt Cake from Meet the Shannons. Filled with more sugar and Earth Balance that I’ve cooked with in a long, long time, this pound cake was rich and dense, with a fun swirl of peppermint-y cake in the middle. The crushed candy cane topping finished it nicely.

A bundt cake with a slice or two cut out. In the middle of the cake you can see a pinkish colored layer.

Candy cane cake!

Our final vegan dessert (other than the vegan date balls and candied nuts my aunt brought) was a pumpkin-banana-chocolate-chip quick bread my brother made. You can’t go wrong with that combination, and this yummy bread was perfect with a hot caffeinated beverage.

A loaf of dense, dark orange-brown bread studded with chocolate chips.

Bread of many ingredients.

Whew! I’m full just looking at al this food (or maybe from the dinner I just finished). This was truly a wonderful Christmas, both thanks to the food and the company. I have a pretty great family. :)

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway before Sunday! I’ve got three gently used books up for grabs.

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