The holidays are full of memorable events, but nothing brings a family together like food. Sitting down with your loved ones and sharing a meal brings a sense of togetherness and evokes feelings of thankfulness and comfort. It provides the assurance that the people who have gathered with you are full and happy.
Today, cooking a holiday meal that can be eaten by the entire family can be a difficult task. Beliefs, preferences, and allergies can make catering to everyone’s needs frustrating and nearly impossible. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives out there that can be used to make holiday dishes available to almost everyone at your table this year.
Plant-based cooking not only ensures that vegetarians and vegans in your family can enjoy your meal, but it also eliminates dairy, making it okay for anyone who is lactose-intolerant. Plus, it eliminates any type of meat which may be avoided due to someone’s religious beliefs.
While drinks are just as important at the dinner table as the food, you can make sure everyone is catered to this year with an easy to make vegan eggnog.
24 ounces silken tofu (crumbled)
2 cups of soy milk
2/3 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water (cold)
1 cup rum
4 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
20 ice cubes
Nutmeg for garnishing
Place the tofu, soy milk, sugar, and salt in a blender and blend until the mixture is smooth.
Pour the mixture into a bowl and whisk in the water, rum, and vanilla extract.
You will want to keep the mixture refrigerated until it is ready to be served.
When you are ready to serve the eggnog, blend the mix with the ice cubes until frothed
A hearty vegan Shepherd’s pie is an excellent way to ensure all your guests are able to enjoy a warm and filling entree this holiday season.
Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
2 tbsp vegan margarine
¼ cup unsweetened soy milk
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 ½ cups vegan ground beef substitute
1 ¼ cups vegan gravy
½ cup green peas
½ cup of corn
½ tsp garlic powder
Dash of cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F
Dice potatoes and chop onions
Boil or microwave potatoes until soft
Drain potatoes and mash with vegan margarine and soy milk
Add salt and pepper to add taste
Saute the chopped onions in the vegetable oil
Combine the onions, beef substitute, vegan gravy, peas, corn, garlic powder, and a dash of cayenne pepper in a large mixing bowl and pour into a pie pan
Spread the mashed potatoes over your vegetable mixture
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes
The holidays are full of wonderful sweets, so give vegan gingerbread cookies a try this holiday season to ensure everyone satiates their sweet tooth.
Vegan Gingerbread Cookies
1 cup of vegan margarine
1 cup of sugar
Egg Replacer for one egg
1 cup molasses
Two TBSP apple cider vinegar
5 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP ginger
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Beat the margarine and sugar together in a large bowl
Add the egg replace, molasses, and apple cider vinegar to the mixture
In a separate bowl, combine your dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
Pour the dry ingredients into the large bowl of wet ingredients and combine well
Let the dough refrigerate for at least two hours to become firm
Preheat the oven to 375 F
Either roll out your dough and cut it into holiday shapes with cookie cutters or form it into ½ inch balls
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
Place your cookies on the sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes until done
The holidays bring a lot of different people from separate walks of life together. Plant-based options make sure that you are prepared to cater to anyone this holiday season. Feel free to leave a comment below with your favorite go-to holiday dish and make sure to subscribe!
Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day, and many people, whether of Irish descent or not, will be celebrating. If you’re planning a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner or something less standard such as beef stew made with stout, take a few minutes to decorate your table for the holiday.
This place setting is easy to imitate or turn into a centerpiece. One fun image is the rainbow and pot of gold. Use colored paper or have a local young person create one with crayons – you can have one per person or a large one that runs across the center of the table.
Check party stores for black pots like the one in the photo – you may be able to find one left over from Halloween. Pick up some gold tissue paper and gold covered chocolate coins to fulfill the promise of a leprechaun’s pot of gold. No pot available? Use one of your own cooking pots there are no rules on what the pot should look like!
Several grocery stores at the moment are carrying shamrock plants, or you can recruit those same children to draw or cut out shamrocks to decorate the table. Use green ribbon to tie napkins in place of napkin rings.
Irish Soda Bread provides a great addition to any St. Pat’s dinner that is impressive, delicious and very easy to make. For a recipe, check the Internet or visit our Fulton Home’s Facebook page for a link to the Barefoot Contessa’s tasty recipe.
A half-cup of currants and a teaspoon of caraway seeds make a real difference when creating an authentic loaf. For a final special flavor, add a teaspoon or two of brown sugar and coat the top with a tablespoon or two of white sugar dissolved in water about five minutes before the bread is finished baking. That slight sweet taste and the surprise flavor of caraway will make your guests grab for soda-bread seconds.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money or invite a crowd of people to have a fun New Year’s Eve party. Here are a few suggestions to make your evening special.
Choose guests strategically: Invite a handful of your favorite people. Two or three couples or a few close friends makes a nice gathering. Smaller groups give everyone more of an opportunity to relax and interact.
Focus on little foods: Pick up a half-dozen frozen appetizers at your grocery or warehouse store. Options range from mini-tacos to bacon-wrapped scallops, depending upon your budget and preferences. You may want to add a couple of interesting cheeses with several types of crackers. Plan to stagger the treats throughout the evening. You may want to end with holiday cookies or serve a dessert. Include some hearty choices so people don’t miss having a regular dinner.
Plan a little decadence: Consider having one luxury item such as shrimp cocktail or scallops, and pick up a few particularly tempting dessert choices such as the items shown in the photo to the right. Bring some bling to your table with bright gold and silver beads or confetti. Pick up a nice bottle of sparkling wine for midnight and include the option of sparkling juice for those who don’t drink.
Plan for fun: Horns, hats, noisemakers, sparklers can all make midnight more entertaining. Have people write their resolutions for 2013 on small pieces of paper and put them all in a box or bowl. You can then pull them out to read one-by-one and have people guess whose resolution each one is.
Have fun yourself: Plan ahead so that food and drink are easy enough that you can spend most of your time with your guests rather than fixing things. By keeping things simple, you all can have a lovely time.
One of the nicest gifts for friends and family is something you make yourself. This year, how about baking some holiday treats?
Cakeballs – a new baking craze, make lovely gifts. These are made to look like holiday ornaments. Whether on a stick or just piled in a bowl, these provide a different kind of treat; one tasty, sweet bite. For extra fun, set these upright in a cup filled with holiday candies.
To make your gift extra special, how about giving it on a plate made of holiday candy? This little tray was created by setting peppermint hard candies together on a piece of parchment paper set on a baking dish, and baking for a short time in a low oven just until the pieces melt into each other. Let cool and then gently peel off. This also works with candy canes and peppermint sticks. Just be sure to use with hard surface treats. Moist ones will melt your dish!
Even if you’re not a skilled baker, treats such as chocolate-dipped pretzels can make a great gift. You can find baskets and other suitable containers at dollar stores and cake specialty shops. Whatever you decide to make, gifts like these are as much fun to assemble as they are to give!
We’re headed for the holiday season, and it’s easy to get caught up in everything you want to do until you’re overwhelmed. One helpful approach to make sure you are ready to make your holidays merry and bright is planning. Take the time now to create the framework for making holidays fun this year.
Budget your dollars: Many people end up in January with more bills than they expected. To head off this situation, spend time with your spouse or family agreeing on a budget. Be sure to include food, entertainment, cards, and any decorations as well as gifts. Add a cushion to cover unexpected expenses.
Budget your time: You may want to bake holiday cookies, decorate with abandon and write long notes to friends. Add that full-family Thanksgiving, volunteering and attending everyone’s holiday parties and you may end up too tired to enjoy everything. Combine some favorite events and projects with some time to recover and just have fun and the season will be pleasant instead of hectic.
Work ahead: Do you love homemade Christmas cookies? How about mixing up the dough and freezing it for later? Grab your cookbooks and recipe box and develop your menus for Thanksgiving and beyond. Plan for each event with grocery lists and all the recipes organized in files. If you are going to ask Aunt Margaret to bring her sweet potato casserole, now is the time to call. Pull out your holiday card list before it starts to get hectic and address envelopes and write that newsletter. You don’t have to send them yet but wouldn’t it be nice to be ready when the time comes?
Take a few hours to plan your holidays this weekend, and you will help ensure a holly jolly time for everyone.
Wouldn’t you know it, the day after Halloween is the start of Good Nutrition Month! Here are a few suggestions to use your Fulton Homes kitchen to promote good eating for you and your family.
Ration Halloween candy: Of course chances are your little ones ate too much candy yesterday – and maybe you helped yourself to a bit more than you should have, too! Now that you’ve all had that indulgent experience, let your children know that this happens only once a year. Negotiate a specific number of pieces of candy every day. Here’s a hint – you start the negotiations at one piece and they will feel good if they can get you up to three, which is about where you want them to be anyway.
Use your kitchen space to drive your family to good snacks: Set up a shelf in the refrigerator with washed carrots and dip, sliced apples and cheese, peanut butter and other healthy choices. Let your kids know that those snacks are legal without getting permission. Place some whole-grain crackers on the counter or kitchen table along with bananas and other snacks that don’t need refrigeration. Make healthful snacks easy to access and junk food hard to find or simply nonexistent in your kitchen. Soon your family will automatically reach for the good stuff that’s in sight.
Get help with meal-planning and cooking. Make it fun for everyone and cook with the kids! Use your kitchen counter or island to plan and track meals for the week or even the month. Assign coupon searches to one child and grocery ads to another, with the promise that they will receive the savings as an addition to their allowances. Or you could have a contest with the one who saves the family the most money getting to choose a favorite meal for the next week. Print a copy of the food pyramid and have your whole family use it to plan meals that are well-balanced.
The holidays have started and it’s easy to get into bad food habits with entertaining and attending parties. You can create the opportunity to keep yourself and your family on a good nutrition path for the rest of the year and into the next!