Christmas Party Planning

November 7, 2010

So, I’ve already missed four days of VeganMofo. I guess that’s ok, considering I knew I wouldn’t post every day anyway. I think I only did 17 days last year. So I’m hoping I can still up that to about 20 this month. I was working on a paper Friday and Saturday, and I just didn’t have anything to post about before that.  But enough of my excuses! I’m planning a Christmas party!

My awesome Christmas party diagram.

I think I just decided to confine my party to one room so that I’m not running all over the place and having to decorate everything. I like this idea, I’m just worried about seating. So that’s something I have to figure out. But here’s some of the details I’m planning so far:


8-10 people, max.


2-3 types of cookies (gingerbread, and two others I’m not sure of right now)
2-3 types of savory snacks (I’m thinking vegetable crudites with dip, party mix*, and popcorn)
Hot chocolate kept warm in a thermos pitcher
Holiday punch

*Be sure to use vegan Worcestershire sauce!


Christmas movies (Some of the following: The Santa Clause, Ernest Saves Christmas, Home Alone, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, A Charlie Brown Christmas…Probably one movie and a few shorts)
Christmas-themed pictionary
Secret Santa


Holiday music while movies aren’t playing
A fire going in the fireplace
Christmas tree and lit mantle


Homemade cinnamon ornaments (I still have one of these from when I was a kid and it still smells amazing!)

And that’s all I have so far. I really don’t think I need to do much more planning except deciding exactly which cookies I want to make and figuring out the seating. I’m pretty happy with my little Christmas party right now. I just need to keep that guest list short so I can enjoy it 😀

Now I should probably plan my Thanksgiving menu.. haha.

– Andrea


Dia de los Muertos – Cornbread sugar skulls and black bean soup

November 3, 2010

Since I didn’t have time to make my Dia de los Muertos meal yesterday, I made time to make it today. I made jalapeno cornbread “sugar skulls”, black bean soup, and a Mexican chocolate spice cake. The cake is something I haven’t tried yet, and will probably put off decorating it until tomorrow. But, for now, I’ll post dinner:

Black Bean Soup

1 TBSP olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 med. red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 small green bell pepper, chopped
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 C vegetable broth
1 C water
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
Garnishes: 1 lime, cilantro, avocado, vegan sour cream

– In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high and add onion, garlic, and peppers. Saute until onions are transluscent. Add remaining ingredients (except for garnishes), bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and transfer 3/4 of the soup to a blender. Pulse until no large pieces  remain, and stir back into saucepan. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped avocado, cilantro, lime juice, and sour cream, if desired.

The jalapeno cornbread sugar skulls are from The Joy of Vegan Baking cornbread recipe, with the addition of 3/4 C corn kernals, 1 minced jalapeno, and 1/2 cup shredded Daiya cheddar cheese. They were baked in little skull pans I got a few months ago. I used (v) sour cream to pipe on the decorations, and used jalapeno slices for the eyes.

Kind of looks like that cute boy I’m friends with..

But, yeah. Totally tasty dinner! I’m pretty darn proud of that soup.

– Andrea

Dia de los Muertos festival- Vegan foods!

November 2, 2010

Me and my boyfriend went to the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival in downtown Birmingham tonight. It was a lot of fun, but I was starving by the time we got there. I put my make-up on two hours before we left, and I could barely open my mouth to eat. So I was really hoping there would be something I could eat at the festival.

Lucky me! A local restaurant/music venue that serves a good bit of vegan/vegetarian food was one of the vendors!

Bottletree Cafe

They were serving their award-winning vegan chili, along with rice and tortilla chips.

The only “fixin’s” available for vegans were raw onions and hot sauce. I added a bit too much, but I still enjoyed it and it kept me full! Not exactly a traditional Day of the Dead meal, but it fit in just fine. Non-vegan items available included tamales and tacos.

Me and my chili! : D


For some reason, there weren’t as many altars as there were last year. But I absolutely *love* altars that include food.  For Day of the Dead, you’re supposed to set up altars in remembrance of lost loved ones. You can include anything you want – pictures, clothing, trinkets, and favorite foods and drinks of the deceased. I think it’s so beautiful when food is included – especially pan de muerto and sugar skulls. They’re all just done so colorfully and creative. There was one adorable altar for a beautiful black cat that included cat food, water, and toys. Aw ❤

I was too busy packing up my Halloween decorations and getting ready for the festival to make my own Day of the Dead food today. But I’ll be doing that tomorrow. I’m making a Mexican spice cake, black bean soup, and jalapeno cornbread!

Viva la vida!

– Andrea

Our Beautiful Jack-o-Lanterns

October 30, 2010

Me and my boyfriend finally carved our jack-o-lanterns last night! But before I unveil our pumpkins, I wanted to share the history behind the jack-o-lantern. I scanned this out of a Halloween magazine I bought in 1998 called The Joy of Halloween. It was basically the most amazing magazine in the entire world to me at the time. I read it every single day after I got it. My mom even made me and a few friends some of the spooky (and silly) snacks out of the magazine. I loved learning about all the Halloween legends and superstitions and I think this was really about the time I started to see there was more to Halloween than trick-or-treating.

No more rambling! “Prepare Your Pumpkins – Jack is Back”:

And here’s a bit on how to pick out and carve your own jack-o-lantern:

And here are our lovely pumpkins for the 2010 Halloween season:

The three in the middle are mine, the two on the ends are my boyfriend’s.
E.T., The Pumpkin Who Couldn’t Smile, and Sam

If you don’t know who E.T. is, there’s just no hope for you. But if you don’t know who The Pumpkin Who Couldn’t Smile and Sam are, check these out:

Oh, what the heck. I have to include this now:

Tonight is Phantom of the Opera at the Alabama Theatre for me! I hope you all have a fun Halloweekend! And don’t forget: Never blow out a jack-o-lantern on Halloween!

Happy Hauntings!

– Andrea

Halloween Party Food 2010

October 30, 2010

Now onto the party food! I think I did really well this year because there really wasn’t much left at all after the party. That tells me two things: (1) I’m getting better at determining how much food to make, and (2) people really liked the food!

I made a lot of the same stuff as last year (as I do every year), but I did add a very new items/variations. Here’s the “Booffet” menu:

It the Great (Chocolate Chip) Pumpkin (Cookies), Charlie Brown
Broken Glass Cupcakes
Toenail Brittle
Oatmeal Scream Pies
Poisoned Apples

Boo-ternut Squash Soup
Dead Man’s Fingers
Vegetable Vertebrae Wraps
Seven-Layer Spider’s Nest Dip
Dried Bat Wings
Spicy Black Bug Cakes
Stuffed Eyeballs

Bleeding Heart Punch
Warm Vampire Blood
Mauled Apple Cider

It's the Great (Chocolate Chip) Pumpkin (Cookies), Charlie Brown

This is basically a cookie that will win everyone in the world over with it’s soft, cinnamon-y goodness. I’ve made them every year since 2004, and they never get old. I hope you all appreciate me giving you my secret Halloween food weapon! 😀

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

– 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
– 3/4 cup brown sugar
– 1/4 cup shortening
– 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
– 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
– 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
– 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
– 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/2 lb semi-sweet chocolate chips

– Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
– In a large bowl, cream together the sugars, shortening, applesauce, pumpkin, and vanilla until light and well-combined.
– Mix in the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon until just combined.
– Stir in the chocolate chips
– Drop by teaspoons onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until set.
– Let cookies cool on a rack.


Broken Glass Cupcakes

I know I’ve already posted about these – but you didn’t see them in party action! Red velvet cupcakes (from VCTOTW) and a store-bought vanilla frosting + red gel icing. The hard candy “glass shard” recipe can be found here.


Toenail Brittle

Peanut Brittle

2 C sugar
1 C light corn syrup
1 C boiling water
1 lb raw peanuts
1 1/2 TSBP vegan margarine
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking soda

Have a long sheet of aluminum foil (about 3 ft) sprayed with cooking spray set off to the side close by. Have all ingredients measured and ready next to the stove.

Place sugar, corn syrup, and water into a medium saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer and boil all over, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture reaches 300 degrees. Once it reaches 300 degrees, stir in the peanuts. (This will be a little tough at first, but just keep stirring and it will smooth out.) Keep stirring until the mixture reaches 325 degrees. At this point, remove mixture from heat and stir in margarine, vanilla, and baking soda. Pour onto the oiled aluminum foil and spread evenly. Allow to cool and harden, break into pieces.


Oatmeal Scream Pies

I made mini-oatmeal cream pies by just using 1-tablespoonful to make each cookie.

Oatmeal Cream Pies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) vegan margarine (at room temperature)
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Ener-G egg replacement
1/4 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup golden or regular raisins
8 ounces non-dairy cream cheese
2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugars, and molasses on high until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add vanilla, beat until combined. Beat in egg replacer and applesauce, one at a time, scraping down bowl after each addition.
With mixer on low, add flour mixture and beat just until combined. Fold in oats and raisins. Drop dough in 2-tablespoonful mounds, 2 inches apart, onto two baking sheets. Bake until cookies are just set at the edges and slightly soft in the middle, about 11 minutes, rotating sheets half-way through. Let cookies cool on sheets, about  minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.
In a medium bowl, using mixer, beat cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar until light, about 2 minutes. Spread filled on flat side of half the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies. u

Poisoned Apples

I used this recipe from

From Scratch Candy Apple Recipe:

Popsicle sticks
6 Fuji or Granny Smith apples
1 1/2 cups water
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/8 cups corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon red food coloring

The first step is to clean apples. Place your Popsicle stick in the center of the apple. Set your apples on the counter next to your stovetop.

Now, add the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium to large sized saucepot. Stir the ingredients together, it will look grainy.

Place the candy apple mixture on medium heat until the sugar boils. Once the sugar boils, turn the heat to high. You will need to occasionally clean the sides of pot with cold water and a brush. This will prevent the mixture from crystallizing. Cook the mixture eon on high heat to 283 degrees F.

Once the mixture has come to this temperature, add red food coloring and swirl around in the pot, do not stir. Continue to cook to 328 degrees F. Remove from the heat and let rest for 3 – 5 minutes.

The next step requires a little caution. The candy apple mixture is extremely hot. Dip the apple on an angle. Twirl the apple around to coat it. Place the coated candy apple on a sheet of wax paper that has been sprayed with Pam.

Warm drinks and Boo-tternut Bisque

For the “Boo-tternut Bisque”, I used this recipe from, replacing the butter, chicken broth, and half-and-half with margarine, vegetable broth, and soymilk. It’s really good served with vegan sour cream and an extra pinch of cayenne pepper. I served this with Dead Man’s Fingers. I used a bit of agave nectar and water for the egg wash. Of course, I didn’t get a picture of my fingers. For some reason, they’re nearly always the thing I don’t get a picture of and that makes me sad because they looked really cool this year 😦 Oh well.


Vegetable Vertebrae Wraps

These wraps were made with (v) cream cheese, alfalfa sprouts, spinach, red onion, diced cucumber, diced tomato, and salt and pepper. Spread the cream cheese over the entire surface of the wraps and season with salt and pepper. Place all the veggies and greens along the middle of the wrap. Roll into a tight log and slice into 1 1/2-inch pieces, using a toothpick to hold each piece together.


Seven-Layer Spider’s Nest Dip

This is a seven-layer dip of awesomenss. I used two 9-inch pie pans so that it would be easier to get all seven layers on one chip. Layers: refried beans (canned vegetarian variety), corn (again, canned-drained), sliced black olives, chopped tomatoes/jarred salsa, chopped lettuce, homemade guacamole, and a piped-on (v) sour cream spider-web. I added some plastic spider rings before the party.


Dried Bat Wings

Blue corn chips. These were served with the spider’s nest dip.


Spicy Black Bug Cakes

These are mini Black Bean an Pumpkin Chipotle Burgers. The topping is a mixture of (v) sour cream, (v) cream cheese, and adobo sauce.


Stuffed Eyeballs

I never can get an exact recipe for these, because I just keep adding stuff to get it right and never have time to write it down before the party. But, basically:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Clean and de-stem two packages of baby bella mushrooms. Brush with melted margarine and place in a baking dish. For the stuffing, mash together half a block of firm silken tofu, creole seasoning, and a few tablespoons of (v) cream cheese until combined. Taste and adjust to your liking. [I know I use a LOT of the creole seasoning (Emeril’s Essence)].  Put mixture into a plastic bag and snip off the end for a make-shift piping bag. Pipe filling into mushrooms. Dip tops into breadcrumbs, use sliced olives and pimento pieces to make eyes. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until they look awesome and yummy.


Bleeding Heart Punch

This is my go-to holiday punch from now on. It’s the same punch I made for Christmas last year. It’s 1 large jug of fruit punch (Hawaiian Punch), 1 small bottle ginger ale, and one container of Apple-Passion-Mango juice concentrate. Add plenty of ice and stir it all up! I liked it a lot with the pretty orange slices floating in it last year, but for Halloween I had a human heart made of ice and some dry ice to make it fog.

The warm vampire blood (spiced cranberry punch) can be found here. The apple cider is store-bought. I added mulling spices (cinnamon sticks and cloves) to each of them. The Veritaserum was just filtered water in a seasonally orange Brita pitcher. haha.

So, vegan Halloween party food is pretty awesome. Make some and give it to people!

Happy Halloween!

– Andrea

Halloween Party Decor 2010

October 28, 2010

This year my Halloween party theme was “Ghosts of Halloweens Past”, based on childhood memories of Halloween. I made DVDs filled with old Halloween specials, cartoons, and commercials; had a Hal O’Ween “autopsy table”; and our main game had a lot of old Halloween trivia.

Here’s some pictures of the decorations before everyone arrived:

Me and my boyfriend made 30 goody bags for our guests, filled with candy and little Halloween trinkets. Each bag had a different face! 😀

The witch's cabinet!


My bone collection.

Hal O'Ween autopsy table.

Everyone did this as a kid, right? Feel around in the dead man’s body parts? Anyway… The hair was fennel leaves (I meant to use corn silk but ran out of time), brain- cauliflower, ear- dried apricot, eyes- peeled grapes, teeth- popcorn kernels, ribs- celery, heart- fennel, guts- spaghetti noodles with oil, bladder- balloon filled with water, hand- plastic glove filled with water, “dingle dong”- baby gherkin pickle.

The desk had the "Death List" where everyone signed in.

Outside area where we had a table set up for pumpkin painting.

Too bad no one brought a pumpkin.

Trick or Trivia

A game I kind of came up with called “Trick or Trivia”. I had a bunch of knick knacks I didn’t want anymore, as well as a bunch of items I had picked up from the Dollar Tree. Each balloon contained either a trick you must perform or a trivia question you had to answer – all Halloween-related. Everyone that played got a prize, assuming they answered correctly or followed through with their trick. The prizes were in categories 1-5 and the category was determined by how hard the trivia was or how embarrassing the trick was. Category 1 prizes were things like cheap hand puppets and Category 5 prizes included $5 DVDs.

Overall, I was really pleased with how the party turned out! I got all my food prepared and ready 3+ hours before the party, so I didn’t have to worry about that. I also learned to put as much food out as possible so that I wouldn’t be stuck filling up the “boo-ffet” all night. There’s always going to be a huge rush 2-3 hours before the party, and that’s never fun. But my boyfriend really helped me out this year, and we did pretty darn well. Everyone’s costumes were great, and I think everyone had a good time.

I’m glad this year turned out well, because this will be my last Halloween party for a while. I may try a small dinner party or murder mystery the next few years. But I’m taking a break from the big parties. It’s too draining and takes up too much of my October. Plus it’s just too darn expensive. Granted, I did a lot better this year, as far as not fussing over the little things goes. But I’m still taking a break. 😀

Up next: Party food!

– Andrea

Tofu Tombstones and Smashed Spirits!

October 27, 2010

My boyfriend will be here in about 10-15 minutes, and I just got done making our dinner 😀 We’re going to have a spooky movie night. We may or may not carve pumpkins, but I did pick up four more today! Haha.

Tonight we’re having Tofu Tombstones, Smashed Spirits, Rotten Roasted Vegetables, and Graveyard Gravy!

The tofu was sliced into four cutlets, drained and pressed, and then cut into tombstone shapes using a cookie cutter. Then I battered and fried it, using salt, pepper, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, onion powder, and a little cayenne pepper to season the cornstarch.

The “smashed spirits” are Yukon gold potatoes, boiled until soft. Then I mashed them with some soymilk, (v) sour cream, salt, and garlic powder.

The “rotten vegetables” are carrots and red onion, roasted at 425 degrees with some vegetable oil, salt, and dried dill.

The “graveyard gravy” is water, no-chicken bouillon, soy sauce, garlic powder, sage, and cornstarch to thicken it up.

Each of our plates are adorable and look like this:

Fun! He just got here, so I’m going to go outside because he says they’re playing The Haunted Mansion ride soundtrack on some Halloween channel on his XM radio! *squeals*

Happy Halloween!

– Andrea

Eyeballs, Petrified Pumpkin, and Broken Glass

October 26, 2010

I find it hard to believe I haven’t made a single post all October. I guess it all started when we didn’t have our pumpkin patch picnic at the pumpkin patch and, instead, had it in my front yard. Wasn’t a good way to start off the Halloween season. 😦 I have made a few things throughout the month, though. And I had my Halloween party this past Saturday. I’m hoping to make up for lost Halloween food time this weekend, and extending it into next week for Day of the Dead.

Foods I’m planning on making before the Halloween season is over:

– Caramel apples
– Tofu tombstones with smashed spirits and graveyard gravy + “rotten” roasted vegetables
– Spooky-faced veggie pizzas with an orange pumpkin crust
– Chocolate Chick-o-stick tarts
– Scarecrow toastadas

For Day of the Dead, I’m thinking something along the lines of:

– Mexican-spiced calavera cake (anise seed, orange, and cinnamon)
– Cornbread sugar skulls (with sour cream and green onion decorations)
– Black bean soup with lime, cilantro, and avocado

I hate to admit that I’m ready for a new holiday season to start, but I think I got a little burned out on Halloween early this year. I still can’t wait to have some spooky fun these last few days, though! Here’s a few foods I’ve made this month:

Stuffed Shell Eyeballs

This is just a regular stuffed shell recipe, with olive and roasted red pepper added to make the eyeballs. I used tofu, non-dairy cream cheese, nutritional yeast, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper for the filling. Then I just used a jarred pasta sauce. It’s easiest and less messy to put the filling into a plastic bag and cut the corner off to pipe it into the shells. These were covered and baked at 350 degrees until warmed through.

Petrified Pumpkin Enchiladas

I used this recipe for the sauce. For the filling, I used Gardein chick’n and steamed Yukon gold potatoes. Then I just made a face using Toffuti sour cream, olives, and chopped green onion.

Broken Glass Cupcakes

These are red velvet cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I used a store-bought vegan icing and I made a hard, clear candy to break up into glass shards. Then I added some red gel icing to make it look like the cupcakes were bleeding 🙂 If you make these – Don’t add the hard candy until you’re about to serve them. The candy will pick up the moisture from the cupcakes and start to “melt” and deteriorate after a few hours.

Hard Candy:

1 C sugar
3 TBSP light corn syrup
1/3 C water

– Coat a baking sheet (or sheet of aluminum foil) with nonstick spray. Put sugar, corn syrup, and water into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occassionally with a wooden spoon.
– Continue to boil until mixture reaches 310 degrees on a candy thermometer.
– Immediately remove from heat and pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet or aluminum foil, spreading thin with the back of a wooden spoon.
– Allow to cool and harden. Break into glass-like shards.

I hope you’ve all been having a wonderfully spooky October!

– Andrea

$20 Worth of Apples (Take 2) – Muffins and Soup!

October 5, 2010

It’s a good thing apples last a decent amount of time. Last week I made two apple-y items: Apple Spice Muffins and Pumpkin-Apple Soup.

These apple muffins came out of The Joy of Vegan Baking (which I’m a big fan of, by the way). I added some nutmeg, ground cloves, and allspice to mine. They were wonderfully autumn and I’m proud to say my boyfriend liked them, even though they weren’t the normal “cupcake muffin” (super sweet). The apple chunks really made the muffins. So tasty! We took these to the pumpkin patch with some apple cider on an early autumn morning last Thursday. Great way to start the day!

The second apple-filled food I made last week was this Apple Pumpkin Soup from a 2009 Halloween issue of Taste of Home magazine. I was a bit disappointed in this soup, even though it has two of my favorite things in it. I probably wouldn’t make it again, but here’s the original recipe for those that would like to try it:

I used non-dairy margarine, vegetable broth, and soymilk to replace the non-vegan ingredients in the soup. I also added more sugar to taste, just because I wasn’t a big fan of how it turned out. I topped my soup with roasted pumpkin seeds 🙂

I’m planning on using the remaining apples for apple butter tomorrow. I just realized I have a slow cooker.

I’ve got two Halloween dinner ideas to share soon, plus some accidentally vegan Halloween snacks that I’ve found in stores lately! I can’t wait to share them all!

– Andrea

Happy First Day of Autumn, 2010!

September 23, 2010

I’ve been a bit confused over the last few days about when the first day of Autumn was supposed to be this year. Someone said it was on Tuesday, then there were people wishing everyone a happy autumn yesterday.


All of my calendars said the autumnal equinox was today! So, screw everyone else’s calendars. I have a cute, Gil Elvgren, pin-up calendar. And it most certainly is not wrong. So I went with today as the first day of autumn 🙂

So, happy, happy Autumn, everyone!

I made Pumpkin Pot Pies! Well, I actually only made one. This one:

I don’t really have a recipe, because I cut the original into 1/3, and then it only filled up one pumpkin instead of two.  And the veganization of it didn’t really turn out the way I had planned. So, basically:

Cut the top off of a sugar pumpkin. Scoop out the seeds (save for roasting!) and pumpkin guts. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the inside of the pumpkin and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until soft when poked with a fork. Then add your favorite pot pie filling. Use your favorite crust (I used this one) and some small, autumn leaf cookie cutters to create leaves. Use a toothpick to create a crease (you can obviously be more detailed with this) and lay them around the rim of the pumpkin. (You could also create a full crust on top of the filling using the leaves.) Bring oven temperature down to 350 degrees and bake the pot pie for another 30 minutes.

I added a lot of hot sauce to mine, because my awesome boyfriend brought me some today! 🙂 It was much better after that.

I would definitely do this again with a better pot pie filling. I shouldn’t have tried to veganize the original recipe, since I have my own favorite filling. But I’ll know better next time!

I hope everyone had a good start to autumn today! Even if it was 95 degrees!

– Andrea