Friday, November 28, 2014

Gift-ivism Season is Upon Us! (A Vegan Food Gifts Giveaway)

Photo by Celine Steen

gif·tiv·ism ˈgif tə vizəmˈ
noun: the policy or action of using vigorous gift giving to bring about political or social change. In the case of vegan food gifts, to prove vegan foods can be delicious and fun, and that it is not necessary to kill or torture another living being in order to make a tasty meal or treat.

It's that time of year. The time where we are faced with buying, making, or in any case, giving gifts. I remember being a kid and absolutely thinking how wonderful it was to have a big family, because I got so many presents!  I mean, with divorced parents, I had two families, which meant I had two Christmases! (What's plural for Christmas?) The first year I celebrated Christmas as an adult, living in my own apartment, I had a complete emotional breakdown, because it wasn't until then, had I realized how hard it was on everyone to give so many gifts.

Soon after, my mom's side of the family adopted a "presents only for the kids" rule, followed by a you-can-give-a-present-if-you-want-to-but-only-if-you-make-it rule.  And it can't be expensive.

The year of the bottle cap magnets

On dad's side of the family, we opted for a draw names sort of system, and the gift also had to be home made, but that only lasted a year.  We quickly moved to the let's donate as a family to charity model, and my sister took the lead.  But we still were allowed to give eachother one present...not expensive, usually of the bottle-of-some-sort-of-alcohol variety.

The year of the scarves and homemade cutting boards
(with cookies and candies, of course!)

At home, my husband and I adopted a stocking stuffers only rule, followed the last three years by a new tradition of going to the mall the last few days before christmas, having a few cocktails, and then walking around looking at all the craziness surrounding us.  Holiday lights and a frenzy of shoppers is tremendous fun if you don't really have to go shopping.

Ever since we have adopted these rules. Holidays have been so much more precious, and so much less stressful.  Instead of worrying if we have enough money to get everyone a gift, we concentrate more on getting together and loving eachother.  It's pretty awesome.

I can't help myself.  I absolutely love the cheesy cello bags and
cheap festive plates from the dollar store.
But, I admit, I really love to give presents during the holidays.  So, I take advantage of the homemade rule, and every year I turn my kitchen into a cookie baking, candy making, drink mix mixing, pickle canning, liqueur brewing factory.

It's so much fun to give DIY vegan food gifts to people.  Especially when gifting to non-vegans. It puts the word, the idea, and, of course, the undeniably delicious treat right in front of their face and plants the seed of compassion.  Who knew a cookie had so much power?

Peanut Butter Truffles in homemade truffle gift boxes from Vegan Food Gifts

The idea of gift-ivism is what sparked my writing of Vegan Food Gifts.  I have always loved making presents. And I had (have) tons of craft books, yarn, fabric, beads, paints, mod-podge, scrap booking supplies (I know, I know) and just about any other crafting supply you could think of.  I wanted to share how easy it was to make really awesome vegan food gifts.

I started compiling all of the gifts I had made and given over the years and started working on new and easy projects.  I partnered up with Kurt Halsey to do all of the designing of the scannable gift tags and recipe cards, and to illustrate the how to instructions for the crafts and packaging portion of the book.

Various  DIY gifts in jars and bottles from Vegan Food Gifts

All in all there are over 100 ideas for DIY projects to give away to friends and family.  I would like to kick off this gift-ivism season by giving away a copy of Vegan Food Gifts to one person anywhere in the world.  Just follow the prompts in the widget below and I will pick a winner on Sunday, December 7, at 7:00pm PST.

And for thiose of you who don't win your own copy, here are a bunch of links to projects you can make rignt here on

Jalapeno Jam (my favorite!)
Truffle Gift Box (with bonus peppermint truffle recipe)
Homemade Spicy Dill Pickles (super easy and a great gifts for the menfolk!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie
This bad boy has been in my repertoire for ages, and it never disappoints.  Creamy and pumpkin-y and autumn-y and cinnamon-y and nutmeg-y. It has all of the goodness that is required of a dessert worthy of a holiday feast.  Oh, and it's mega easy to make, to boot. (Oh, and hey, if you use a gluten free crust, this one is totally easy to make gluten free.)

1 (9-inch) pie crust (you can make your own, but I went with a premade graham crust for this one)
2 (8-ounce) containers of vegan cream cheese
1 (15-ounce) can of pure pumpkin puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 
350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4).
Beat all ingredients together using an electric mixer until smooth. 
Pour into pie crust. 
Place a pan of water (about 1-inch deep) on the bottom shelf of the oven. 
Line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment. 
Place the pie on the lined sheet and place in the oven on the top rack. (This step helps keep the moisture in the oven and prevents the pie from cracking on the top.)
Bake for 45 minutes. Remove and let cool, place in refrigerator until ready to serve, and to set even more.

Yield: One 9-inch pie

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Vegan Thanksgiving Feast in Under an Hour?

Maybe you are the only vegan in the household this Thanksgiving?  Maybe this is your first year hosting a Thanksgiving in your home?  Maybe you aren't so surefooted in the kitchen and are nervous about pulling off the perfect meal?  Or maybe you have to work Thanksgiving day (like me!) and can't figure out how you are ever going to be able to make a full on vegan feast after a full day at work? I give you a Vegan Thanksgiving Feast ready in under an hour!  

I did a trial run last night to make sure that it still tasted home made, because a lot of this meal is made from a package.  But guess what?  This semi-homemade feast had all of the flavors and practically none of the fuss of a scratch-made Thanksgiving.

So what do you need to make a full on vegan Thanksgiving meal in under an hour?

Here is what on the plate, clockwise from the top:

  • Whole Foods Market 365 Instant Mashed Potatoes -- the only ingredient on the box is potato! (I always make mine with less liquid than suggested on the package so my potatoes come out thicker.  And I do not shy away from adding lots of vegan butter to make them extra flavorful.)
  • Gardein Lightly Breaded Turk'y Cutlets (These come with gravy, but I opted for making homemade gravy)
  • Whole Foods Market 365 Organic Vegan Stuffing Mix (To make it taste a little bit more homemade, I made sure to add of my own touches to the stuffing by sauteing diced onions and celery in the oil recommended on the package instructions before adding the water.  On the big day, I might throw in some dried cranberries, too!)
  • Steamed broccoli tossed with olive oil, roasted garlic, salt and pepper. (Though on the big day I plan on making Garlic and Mustard Roasted Brussels Sprouts instead, because, although this broccoli was super yummy, I prefer brussels on Thanksgiving.)
  • And the whole thing is topped off with White Pepper Gravy

I also plan on purchasing premade cranberry sauce from the Whole Foods Market deli, as well as a premade vegan pumpkin or apple pie from the bakery, and a tub of the new SoDelicious Coconut Whipped topping.

I will say I feel a little bummed out that I won't be able to make everything from scratch like I normally would, but I am so thankful for these awesome and convenient (and really gosh darn tasty!) vegan options.

For those of you who do not live near a Whole Foods Market, or other health food store, hope is not lost!  I have seen these Gardein Turk'y cutlets (as well as their stuffed roast!) at Vons/Safeway and Ralph's/Kroger's as well.  And it seems that every grocery store in the world has instant mashed potatoes, a vegan friendly boxed stuffing mix, and premade cranberry sauce (double chack ingredients to be sure!).

That only leaves you with figuring out the pie!  And that can be fun to make on your own the day before.  My go to holiday pie is the Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie. It's pretty easy to make, especially if you use a storebought crust, and it taste pretty great, too.

Now go forth and create a tasty vegan Thanksgiving feast!  It doesn't have to cost a million dollars or mean you have to spend all day slaving away in the kitchen!  All it really means is that you will be spending more time with your family, friends, or loved ones giving thanks over a compassionate meal that doesn't revolve around a giant dead bird.

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2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, or remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni