The Best Part of a Holiday is Always the Food
The saga of my busy life continues. I’ve been very busy with finals at school and end of the year tasks at work. In between it all, I’ve been attending holiday gatherings and starting my Christmas shopping. As always, it can be hard to juggle it all sometimes, but at least the last day I have to do anything school related for the fall semester is early next week. Luckily, I finished all of my finals this week. Now, I get to put my mind into Christmas mode. While I still need to figure out what the heck I’m getting everyone, I’m more concerned about what I’m making for Christmas Eve Dinner.
For the past few years, my mom has hosted Christmas Eve Dinner at our house. Like Thanksgiving, it can be a lot of work, but it’s also really fun. I think it may be my favorite holiday to host. I love creating a Christmas cocktail, baking cookies, and making an incredible dish to contribute to the dinner. Thanksgiving this year was a complete home run. There were so many vegan options and even my meat-eating relatives liked what Adam, Raelle, and I made. Thanksgiving is going to be hard to beat. Raelle and I have been thinking about what to cook for Christmas Eve Dinner since Thanksgiving weekend. We need to come up with a few mind-blowing, tastebud-loving dishes for this holiday.
For the past few weeks, Raelle and I have been going back and forth trying to come up with some delicious recipes to make for Christmas Eve Dinner. Since it can be hard to decide what to make for holiday dinners, I thought I’d provide you with some of my favorite dishes that would be perfect for any holiday party.
Raelle’s Mac & Cheese
I think my favorite veganized dish has to be mac & cheese. For some reason, almost every vegan mac & cheese I’ve tried has tasted a thousand times better than dairy mac & cheese. Raelle came up with her own vegan mac & cheese recipe, and it’s absolutely amazing. She made it for Thanksgiving, and I literally couldn’t stop eating it. I had to pry myself away from it. It was so addicting. Raelle has been nice enough to not only share her vegan mac & cheese recipe with me but also allow me to share it on my blog.
So, here it is – straight from the source:
Raelle’s Vegan Mac & Cheese Recipe
- 1 pound pasta, any shape but elbow macaroni and shells are recommended
- 4 cups soy milk (or other plant milk but soy is preferable because of the protein content)
- 4 tablespoons vegan butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon miso paste
- About 6-7 slices Chao/Follow Your Heart/VioLife Slices (any flavor combo, but Raelle prefers Follow Your Heart Provolone and American)
- 1/4 package So Delicious Cheddar Jack (will be shredded)
- 2 tablespoons vegan mayo (Raelle suggests Just For All and Trader Joe’s brands)
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt to taste (miso paste makes it salty so taste it first!)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- Salt, pepper, onion, garlic powder to taste
- 1/2 package Follow Your Heart Shredded Parmesan
- 1/4 package So Delicious Cheddar Jack (will be shredded)
- Cook pasta with salted water until almost al dente.
- Preheat oven to 425º
- In an oven-safe pot large enough for the finished product, sauté the garlic in the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the flour slowly, constantly whisking. Whisk until the mixture begins to turn golden brown. Use a spatula to move the mixture around and to keep it from clinging to the sides of the pot.
- Whisk in the milk slowly. Add the spices, miso paste, mayo, slices of cheese (it will melt faster if chopped into smaller pieces), and 1/4 package of So Delicious Cheddar Jack. Continue to whisk until the cheese melts and everything is incorporated. Taste and add more spices if needed.
- Once pasta is al dente, drain and add it to the cheese sauce, mixing and smoothing the top with a spatula.
- Combine the breadcrumbs with the spices and scatter over the pasta. Top with shredded parmesan and other 1/4 package of So Delicious Cheddar Jack.
- Place the pot into the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
I made this Eggplant Cacciatore for the Holiday Wine and Dine I hosted a couple weeks ago. My friends all really seemed to like it. This dish is the vegan spin on chicken cacciatore. It’s filled with eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, and onions. You’re supposed to serve the pasta (I used bowtie for mine) on top of the veggies and white wine tomato sauce, but I mixed the pasta in with it all. Mixing the pasta in with the peppers and onions gave the pasta an intense, savory flavor. I haven’t had cacciatore since long before I stopped eating meat. I really like this recipe, and I would like to make it a lot more often.
Vegan Pepperoni Bread
Raelle’s a really amazing vegan chef. Everything she makes is always delicious. Last Christmas Eve Dinner, Raelle made a vegan pepperoni bread that was TO DIE FOR. The night before Christmas Eve, Raelle and I went to a store to buy ingredients for the bread, but we ran into a problem – the store didn’t carry vegan pepperoni and had a very small selection of vegan cheese. We were eventually able to get vegan cheese, and Adam brought over vegan chorizo sausage for her to use in the pepperoni bread. After some improvising, Raelle made the vegan pepperoni bread using a frozen whole wheat dough, vegan mozzarella cheese, and vegan chorizo sausage. Let me tell you – it turned out pretty darn delicious.
Here’s how to make vegan pepperoni/sausage bread:
- 1 13.8-ounce package refrigerated pizza crust (thawed)
- 1 8-ounce package vegan mozzarella (shredded or cut)
- 1 8-ounce package vegan pepperoni slices (if you can’t find pepperoni slices, sub in vegan sausage cut into thin slices)
- garlic powder
- olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 375º F. Prepare a baking sheet by brushing a thin layer of olive oil on it.
- Roll out the pizza crust on a floured surface until the dough looks like a square and is about 1/8 inch thick.
- Sprinkle the vegan mozzarella on the dough. Place the vegan pepperoni slices on top. Sprinkle garlic powder and oregano on top to taste.
- Starting with the bottom edge, carefully roll the dough until it reaches the top edge.
- Place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush dough with a thin layer of olive oil. Top with garlic powder, oregano, and a little bit of the remaining cheese.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until dough is golden.
- Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing.
Lentil Mushroom Loaf
Adam and I made a lentil loaf a year ago when we first started dating, and I was in love with it. I recently made another lentil loaf, but, this time, I found a recipe that had mushrooms and walnuts in it. The mushrooms gave the loaf a chewy texture, while the walnuts added a bit of a crunch. This lentil mushroom loaf was one that even meat eaters enjoyed devouring. I would definitely make this recipe again. I would also like to use this recipe to make lentil mushroom meatballs. I think that would be very interesting.
Making this loaf was my first time cooking dry lentils. I honestly had no idea what I was doing, but it’s actually way easier than you’d think. They cook a lot similarly to rice. To cook lentils, follow these tips. Just remember – before you take them off the stove, make sure they’re soft enough to mash up for the lentil loaf recipe.
Writing this post has really made me hungry, especially since I haven’t had dinner yet. Now, I’m dreaming of vegan mac & cheese, lentil mushroom loaf, eggplant cacciatore, and vegan pepperoni bread. I really hope one or more of these items will be on my dinner table this Christmas Eve. Only a week and a few days until Christmas, and I can already smell the vegan pepperoni bread baking in the oven.
Happy Cooking, my Dolls!
Food’s pretty awesome, but so is music. Find out why I love music in “Real Talk: Music.”