Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Gifties!

Today's post is all about gift-giving! (and this post is as long as Santa's list!)

First up...
I've started making making my famous Sublime Chocolate Bark to give as little gifts for friends. Go check out last year's post on this bark as well. This is tradition for me, I love making it, and have a VERY hard time not eating it (even harder for hubby). Here is a quick rundown of the process, but also check out the link from last year for more detail.

I start with these big baking bars from Bernard Callebaut. Incredibly rich and smooth and the best tasting dark chocolate you can imagine. If you're buying chocolate, be sure to check out these liquor chocolates (posted here). Expensive, yes - but liquor chocolate heaven - you won't go back to other liquor chocolates.

Here are this years' pics of melting the chocolate:

adding the almonds, cranberries and crystallized ginger to the melted chocolate:

pouring onto a lined baking sheet:
and then breaking up the bark once cooled.

IMPORTANT STEP: (while bark is cooling, you must scrape out all the leftover chocolate from the bowl and lick the spatula clean)!!!

As a little gift to you all, I am posting the recipe for my Sublime Chocolate Bark again this year on my recipes page.

Next up...
Are you still looking for gift ideas for a special vegan foodie on your list. You know, one of those people (like me) that gets excited to walk through the aisles of a whole foods or specialty store?! Well, here's a few ideas for a giftie that I think he/she (me!) would love:

- quality oils, such as flavored and/or organic olive oils

- seasoned vinegars, such as herbed or fruited vinegars. Look for ones without sulfites.

- jars of vegan antipastos, chutneys, mustards, or other spreads for crackers/breads

- "pasta night" basket, with an organic tomato sauce, uncommon pasta (ex: soba or kamut), jar of olives or capers or bottle of olive oil. Pop them all in a colander as a gift!

- "sweets" bag or basket, with a few goodies like dark chocolate, vegan hot chocolate packs, vegan cookies

- "savory" bag or basket, with specialty crackers, seasoned nuts, chips, or seasoned cereal/cracker mixes (like the trail mixes, but with rice crackers and/or cereals - check if vegan when buying).

-"baking" basket, with bag of dark chocolate chips, vanilla extract or vanilla BEANS!, small bottle of agave nectar or maple syrup, small bag of spelt or barley flour, or a vegan cookie/brownie mix. Wrap in a large tea towel, or include measuring spoons as part of the gift!

- seasonings and spice jars. I like to use some of those jars of spices combined with rock sea salt that you can grind over your foods like soups or sandwiches. Different varieties out there with blends of spices, they're lovely

- selection of teas and vegan hot chocolate, along with some sweetener like agave or stevia, maybe add a beatiful mug as a gift.

- Chocolate Bark! Haven't I convinced you already?

Next up...
I want to mention gift-wrap. Last year, I decided to ban the purchase of Christmas wrap. Why? Because it's wasteful (torn in minutes and tossed), tears easily when wrapping, a nuisance to buy and schlep home, & expensive and unnecessary when we have other 'reusing' options. I know. This may be crunchy of me, and I'm not always the best 'reduce, reuse, recycle' candidate. But, I try where I can, and this is one area. Try these ideas:

1) Check out last year's post. I use the inside of printed paper bags from grocery stores and shopping stores. Or, if the bag is pretty enough, use the outside. I'm not much of a crafty person, so this year I had our older girl color pictures on that blank inside of our bags. I know her grandparents and other friends and relatives will love to see their gifts wrapped in her artwork. (Plus, it gives me an excuse for not being able to more lavishly paint or decorate the paper!!)

2) Wrap in newspaper - comics or other sections of newspapers that you might like (ex: lifestyles or entertainment). Paint or color if you like.

3) Reuse gift bags, and they don't have to be holiday gift bags. Buy plain white, red, or yellow gift bags that can be reused by your recipients ANY time of the year.

4) Flyers! How many flyers are we getting this time of year? Use ones from hardware stores for men, toy stores for kids, etc.

5) Empty food boxes. I know this may seem weird, but some of these boxes are very cute and attractive - and sturdy. Like chocolate and cookie boxes.

You guys have other gift-wrapping ideas? Add them in the comments!

if you hung around long enough to read through this lengthy post... ho, ho, ho!
You have the chance to win a cookbook!! My Christmas gift to you.

I am giving away 2 cookbooks - one for a US resident, and one for a Canadian resident. I won't be able to ship until after Christmas. I need a break! So, a little belated gift for you or a loved one. The winners will also receive some of those Soy Delicious coupons! Not sure how I'll pick the winner, not sure when I'll announce, but you can enter through the comments - here are the rules. Ooooh, you can make cookies from my book and then make ice-cream sandwiches - the joy, the bliss!

Merry Christmas!! Ho, Ho, Ho!

Oh, and finally, finally - thank you to those of you that reviewed my books on amazon. Holiday ((hugs)) to you! :)

Now if you'll excuse me I have some chocolate to eat... and I really need a holiday break!


Michelle said...

oh oh oh! enter me in the contest please?! i needs me a Everyday Vegan ;) oh, and i'm canadian :)

Anonymous said...

I was thinking about wrapping my presents in pages from magazines, since we get so many of them. I just can't figure out how to wrap the larger presents!

Claire said...

oooh, i'd love a copy of the everyday vegan. i'm from halifax, other side of the country. your chocolate bark is inspiring!

raising_kahne said...

My favorite part was the 'important step'-it really is the best part! The chocolate looks great as usual. I would love to make me some this year, and stir some coffee beans in! yumm.

It sure is a busy time of year now. We have 4 family get togethers this weekend. Trying to figure out what all to make, but I would really love to make the chocolate cupcakes from TEV. Im just not sure my waisteline would agree. :) Ive been eating a lot of sweets lately. I hope you and your family are having a great time!

*a* said...

Thanks for all of the great ideas, Dreena! I love to do "bake-it-yourself" gift baskets for friends who like to bake as much as I do (and also go crazy in specialty food shops!). Your chocolate bark looks so amazing! I haven't made it yet, but now I have been well and truly inspired! (Don't enter me in the contest-I have both of your books!)

VLyandra said...

Oh man, I would love a cookbook! ^^ I like gift bags since 1) they're reusable and 2) they're easy to use. I keep all mine. Actually, I keep wrapping paper, too. I have bins packed full of recycled wrapping stuff. I'm such a pack rat. =P

erica said...

I'm guilty of using freezer paper as wrapping paper, and encouraging people to re-use it. My mom said "so, I can wrap a steak in this?". Ummmm... theoretically!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dreena - re: Amazon reviews, is it most helpful if this is left on I posted a positive review on shortly after I bought Vive Le Vegan! I will happily post on though if this will help your mission! By the way - I've just made your Carob chip muffins, these are great (I'm not a fan of carob, but I just knew recipe was a winner!!). How do you do it?? I hope you have a lovely Christmas! Maureen

Laura Faye said...

That chocolate bark looks great. I have Vive le Vegan and somehow never noticed that recipe--oops! Do you think crushed candy canes would be good in it?

laura jesser said...

Dreena, I think it's great that you don't buy gift wrap! It's so much less wasteful, and your daughter's pictures are unique and special. Oh, and that chocolate bark would be an incredible gift. I made your double Chocolate Almond Explosion cookies as a gift, and it was HARD to stay out of them! I'm going to have to make another batch to stash away for us...

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your blog and your food! I am hoping to win "The Everyday Vegan" because I don't have it.

Thanks a bunch.

lisa said...

What's red and white and red and white and red and white?

Santa rolling down a hill.

You didn't say they had to be good Santa jokes.
This is my official entry for The Everyday Vegan.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Canadian who would love to enter your contest!

Thank you for all the great food ideas and recipes (my family loves your energy cookies!) Your chocolate bark looks so good that I think I'll have to make some.


Tiffany said...

Please enter me in the contest! I'm from California and I still haven't gotten my hands on Vive Le Vegan!


Anonymous said...

I'm a New Yorker who is desperate to add "Vive Le Vegan" to her vega*n collective's cookbook collection! And thanks so much for the great gift ideas -- I much prefer making chocolate bark and assembling gift baskets for friends to a trip to a busy, over-crowded, over-priced shopping center. :) Happy holidays!

maybepigscanfly said...

Dreena, It's so great that you've posted ideas on reusing paper for wrapping gifts. I love you're daughter's artwork on paper bags! Our society is extremely wasteful, and helping out in any way makes a huge difference. Plus your suggestions are extremely easy and fun too. (I often reuse wrapping paper from gifts that I've received).

Your friends are going to love your bark! Have a great Holiday Season, and take a break to enjoy some great family time!

(don't enter me in the contest, I already have both of your books!)

Brooke said...

I am totally a gift-bag-reuser. I am the one at birthday parties that digs gift bags out of the trash if the host throws them away. It makes me crazy when people throw away beautiful bags and reusable paper....

Oh, and nice chocolate bark! I might make some just to give to myself!

I am an Edu-Dame said...

I just finished a whirlwind week of making Christmas goodies for gift giving, but I will need to keep your ideas in mind for next year!

Also, count me as a happy US entrant into the contest - I am in need of The Everyday Vegan!

dollydlux said...

Tnx for the great ideas on gift wrap! I save up the comics every Sunday to use for presents. This year my kids are going to paint all of my Trader Joe's paper bags since i have enough reusuable ones now! Please enter me in your contest! I would LOVE to complete my Dreena collection. I am in California.

Why does Santa always go down the chimney?

Because it soots him! HoHoHo

Evan said...

Hey Dreena
I like to save Endangered Species wrappers/other chocolate bar wrappers throughout the year and use they for gift wrapping throughout the year and mainly around the holidays,they're really pretty with the animal paintings and all.
p.s I'm in Canada :0)

Alexis said...

I often reuse wrapping paper and my family reuses bags and boxes so much that there are long-running jokes about particular boxes and what they've contained!

I'd love to enter the contest -- I only have TEV and would love to have Vive le Vegan. I'm in the US.

Julie said...

WOW! So much good info, Dreena. Just when I thought I had my cookie selections decided for give-a-way remind me that I need to try out that Chocolate Bark!

Julie said...

I forgot to tell you: Hopefully ::crossing my fingers:: my boss is going to let me do a cooking class with the little ones at my work and we are going to make a fruit salad and make that Creamy Cashew Dip!! Do you think it could be made w/ PB? A lot of the kids don't have much money and PB is pretty cheap.

Anonymous said...

We have wrapped our pressies in fabric - cut with pinking shears - so no sewing and no fraying - and tied up with elastic bands. Creates no waste, same cost as buying wrapping paper, easier for the kids to unwrap, and reusable for all festivities during the year. Seasons greetings!

mccracken_em said...

We save and reuse boxes and bows and currently have 2 boxes of boxes and one printer paper box full of bows. Some of boxes, at least, could be as much as 20 years old! There's one decorative box (looks like a gingerbread house) that circulates among my 3 children (now grown). Who will get it THIS year???

I would love to win either of your books. I hear so much good "stuff" about them.

Also, when I went to the Bernard Callebaut website, the only baking chocolate that I saw had dairy in it. Did I miss something?

Mary from Maryland said...

Dreena, I would love to win a copy of Vive! since I've checked it out of the library and re-newed it (and paid late fees on it!) numerous times! Love your cookies, girl! Thanks for all the cheerful posts and yummy recipes. Happy holidays!

Dreena said...

Guys, great wrapping ideas - thanks for offering them up - I hope everyone else is taking notes too!!

Also liking the Santa jokes - keep 'em coming! :)

Lots of comments here, so I'm just going to address a few...

Maureen, that's super sweet of you to offer reposting the review. I would have thought that if you post on amazon for one country that it enters on other amazon sites, but I guess not. If you are okay with reposting it on, that would be lovely, thank you. :) Oh, and I'm SO pleased you liked those muffins - you may just be 'carob converted' now! Merry Christmas to you too!! :)

Laura faye, crushed candy canes would be terrific! I'd make the bark as usual, and either stir the candy canes in JUST before pouring onto the baking pan - or sprinkle them on the bark after it's poured on. Good luck... and enjoy!

Hi Julie! Absolutely you can make that dip with pb!! Just check the sweetness with the substitution, and you may want to add a touch more agave nectar to heighten the sweetness - otherwise, it will be just fine. Have a great Christmas, Julie...! :)

Mccracken_em, I will double check the link and try to redirect it to the spot that has the baking bars. Yes, there are milk chocolate baking bars, but there are also semi-sweet and bittersweet bars that are dairy-free. I use the semi-sweet, and sometimes use a combo of the semi-sweet along with the bittersweet.

Thanks for the kind comments everyone - and those ho ho jokes!!

Sweet Pea said...

The chocolate bark does look delicious.
Please enter me in the contest. So generous of you.
Best wishes to you and your family for a merry Christmas. Looks like us folks in Ottawa will be having a green Christmas.
Warm wishes,
Sweet Pea

Starla said...

I love all your recycled ideas for gift wrapping. I've been doing it for years. I use the brown grocery bags. I cut them into one big flat piece then take Holiday themed rubberstamps with colored ink pads and do repeating patterns all over it. Let dry and wrap gift. The stamps last forever and I have a green, red and black ink pad that seem to last a long time too. If you watch, craft stores have rubberstamps on sale throughout the year. I also admit - I recycle bows.

Julie said...

Mmmm...I made two kinds of chocolate bar (cherry coconut and crystallized ginger) last week and mailed them to some relatives in Ontario for their christmas (we live in Edmonton, AB, and I guess the bark survived the trip intact and without melting). I am getting ready to make another couple of batches for my in-town family for the weekend. Mmmm.
Thanks so much for the books, Dreena. They are fabulous, and I use Vive Le Vegan at least once a week. That section about feeding babies and toddlers is great (I have a 17 month old and a bun in the oven). Thanks so much for all your hard work! I'm looking forward to the next one!

ramona said...

bohooo. and not for european readers? *sniff* even not if they's pay for the postage? *more sniff*

i like your gift ideas. that's exactly the kind of stuff I like to give to my dear ones. I just came back from the supermarket with pasta, pesto rosso and vinegar :-)

Danielle said...

Hi Dreena, those are all really great tips. I can personally vouch for the pasta in a colander idea, as I have also given that as a gift (along with flavoured olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fancy italian sauce, nice bread, etc.).

I would also like to be entered in the contest. I'm Canadian. :)

Happy Holidays.

denise said...

I would love an Everyday Vegan! Time to go make some chocolate bark (not forgetting the very important step!!!)

p.s. runnergirl- I just cover big presents in a sheet or blanket with a bow on top!

Anonymous said...

if everyday vegan is half as good as my favorite vive le vegan (and i've heard it sure is) i would really really love a copy! thanks dreena for the great ideas and delicious recipes! ~kate

Anonymous said...

Another Canadian here who can't find Everyday Vegan (in Canada)!

I love the brown grocery bag idea and used it a lot. I usually tie the package with raffia "ribbons" too :) I add a dried slice of orange with a stick of cinnamon to that and it truly looks beautiful.

I must confess though that I have been purchasing wrapping paper the last couple of years when I don't have enough reusable gift bags and such. I'll do better next year :D

LisaT said...

Thanks so much for the gift ideas! I gave up buying "regular" gifts a while back and was stumped as to what to give my 88 year old aunt. She's a major chocoholic and is getting BARK from me for sure!

And um, Santa joke? Are ya ready?

Why does Father Christmas go down the chimney?

Because it soots him!

*groan* I know!

Natalie said...

yay for free cookbooks! :] (I'm broke and in some desperate need of kickass recipies. which these appear to be :])
PS: I'm from the US.
Why does Santa Claus put coal in the stockings of bad little
boys and girls?
Because heating oil would leak out the bottom. :]

Anonymous said...

the chocolate bark looks scrumptious!! and thanks for the suggestions to help reduce waste.

...anyway, i'm from the US(ann arbor) and would like to enter the contest.

happy holidays,

Jillian said...

That chocolate bark looks amazing. I think I'm going to make some with espresso beans.

Anonymous Gal said...

Yum and wow. Great ideas for bark and gift wrap. I made your scalloped potatoes recipe last night and it was so yummy.

Melissa said...

I am planning on making your chocolate bark along with some fudge for my uncle, who is hosting Christmas this year for the family get together. He insists we don't buy him gifts, but food doesn't count, right?

I love your idea of reusing anything you can for wrapping gifts...I wish I had thought of it!

PS. I love your suggestions for gifts for vegan foodies...if it had been out sooner, I would have forwarded it to my family ;)


Deb said...

i just recently got a copy of vive le vegan, and I've been eyeing the chocolate bark recipe. Awesome to see the process here! I'm off to trader joe's tomorrow for a ton of chocolate!

I'd love to be entered in the contest too. US resident!

springsandwells said...

Oh Yes! I'd love to enter the contest... and be freed from the suffering of reading all your amazing test-recipe posts!

I just made a batch of your Maple-Walnut cookies from Vive, and they were so outrageously great! My family and I were freaking out with joy and our tastebuds were too!

I have another gift wrapping idea, which is to use newspapers in other languages. We live near a town with a huge Indo-American population, so we went to a few ethnic markets and picked up some newspapers in Hindi. Since we can't read it (and neither can anyone getting our gifts), you don't have to worry about what it says. Plus, it looks exotic and beautiful.

Also, I do searches for my favorite Children's book illustrators on Google Images... and print out the images for gift tags. :)

One last cheap present idea for bakers - cookie cutters! I always love getting them, and giving them too.

Happy Wrapping!

Caroline said...

i am so going to make that choclate bark! i would mail it to my friends for a treat but i live in florida and it has been 80 degrees here - insane! - and not good chocolate shipping weather:(
contests are cool - it's great that you have them! i have been hankering for Vive ever since i bought TEV:)
have a very merry christmas with your friends and family!

Mrs. Carlson said...

MMMmmm ... I love holiday baking! I made three batches of vegan cookies (including your incredible fudgy brownies) to give away, and then had to workout extra hard the next few days at the gym because I just HAD to sample a little of each, and lick the bowl, and eat the broken pieces...I also made this incredibly easy and impressive sugary pecans (Cooking Light recipe) to give away in little bags (didn't buy the plastic horrors myself, but was using up leftover gift bags!). I would just love a copy of the Everyday Vegan, but maybe I will get it for Christmas!!

Michelle said...

Hi Dreena... this is off topic, but just wanted to let you know I have tried a few new recipes from Vive latey that have become favorites. I make the chickpea patties every week now (I use ground pumpkin seeds instead of breadcrumbs so it is gluten free) and tonight made the chickpea pasta sauce. Oh. My. God. it is soooo good! This is a new favorite. I tossd it with Quinoa pasta and threw in some roasted veggies... delicious. Thanks! Michelle from toronto

Vegan*asm said...

I have also decided to stop buying gift wrap for presents. I am reusing some of my old gift bags, and finishing off the paper I have on hand. Otherwise, I found a good (and cute, and economical, and cheap) alternative is to use scraps of fabric. I used to do alot of crafting, so I have old scraps everywhere. But, old clothes or blankets would work!

Carrie™ said...

Dreena, what great gift ideas! I have finished my shopping for this year, but will bookmark this particular entry for future reference.

I'm sending some really lame Santa jokes (hey, you asked for it!) These are real groaners. Since I have both of your books, and received ice cream coupons in the mail (THANK YOU!!!!), I'm submitting this entry in hopes of winning some chocolate bark! There is a contest for that isn't there?

What nationality is Santa Claus?
-North Polish.

What do you get if you deep fry Santa Claus?
-Crisp Cringle.

What do they use to clean their toilets at the North Pole?

What happens if you eat the Christmas decorations?
-You get tinsel-itus!

Why does Santa have 3 gardens?
-He likes to ho-ho-ho.

Maybe your daughter will get a kick out of them. So, let me know if I win, OK??!!! :o)

Braelin said...

Been a long time reader- never commented before but the contest was just what I needed to post a comment and let you know how much I enjoy your blog. My brother bought me TEV for Hannukah- and I'm looking forward to cooking up a storm next week when I'm off work.

As for gift wrapping, I also enjoy wrapping in plain old brown paper lunch sacks, then folding over the top, punching a hole and tying a ribbon through the hole. I also use fun old cookie tins from the thrift store for a lot more than just cookies this time of the year!

Braelin (Denver, CO)

Dino said...

I would majorly love a copy of the cookbook, because you RULE! <3

Another idea I use for giftwrap is old fabric. My mum is a rabid sewing fiend, but sometimes she'll have leftovers from a bolt of fabric. So when you wrap your gift in cloth, you can include (with the rest of the present) some sort of cute and easy project idea to occupy the person's creative tooth long after the rest of the present is done.

I've also found that using the notes from classes that I've completed works. I have neat handwriting, and a present wrapped up in pages from my notebooks just looks interesting and pretty for whatever reason.

Going back to the cloth idea. Instead of leftover fabric, what about using a really pretty shawl or scarf? It's like giving two gifts at the same time!

skyblogger said...

Warm (80 degrees F) greetings from Merritt Island, Florida, U.S.A.!

I own over two dozen vegan cookbooks and I have to say that "Vive le Vegan!" is my #1 favorite. I can count on your recipes to consistently pass the all important "will my husband eat it?" test - and believe me, that is no small feat!

Thank you so much for your wonderful cookbooks and blog. Happy holidays and best wishes for a prosperous 2007.

Teresa said...

You could also buy some inexpensive stamps and stamp on the paper bags.
Enter me in the contest, I'd love one of your cookbooks. I love your blog! I'm from Washington state.

Mindy said...

Your bark looks fabulous and I love your ideas on the gift-wrapping. Keep up the great work! :)

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer said...

Hi! I'm Jen-- I just got VLV and I'd love a copy of EV to make my Dreena collection complete. Maybe I'll be a good activist and give it to a friend I'm trying to help make the transition to veganism. (but only have I've tested it out first!)

Erin said...

I would love to get a copy of your new cookbook. I'm in upstate New York. Love the blog!

Aarwenn said...

runner_girl: what a good idea! Magazines! Maybe...layer the pages and stick them together with double-sided (invisible) tape?


Aarwenn said...

One more thing: I come from a design-heavy family, also very into conservation, and it occurs to me that a good way to spruce up brown paper bags would be to IRON them, on a low setting. That would erase wrinkles and make them nice and crisp, making them super-fancy. If you don't want to iron, you could take a big black marker and outline any wrinkles, adding borders and trim. Both of these suggestions would look great with the gift recipient labeled write (ha!) on the box the old fasioned way, with a big black marker and block letters.

Something my graphic designer aunt has started doing, because she has fancy exacto knives: using old cardboard boxes. She lays the present on a flat surface and scores the carboard around it so that it folds up neatly, then ties with string! If it's a little boxy, so much the better--looks great under the tree.

Sarah said...

Hi Dreena,

The chocolate bark looks amazing!! I like your ideas with the gift wrap too!

Please enter me in the contest, I'm an Albertan and I'd love to have a copy of the Everyday Vegan.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

nancy said...

You're so clever! I never think of those great gift ideas til about 5 days (now) before Christmas...I'll definitely keep them in mind.

Enter me in your contest! I would love a copy of TEV. I'm Canadian and live east of Toronto, in lovely Ajax, Ontario.

For a while, we had many National Geographic maps lying around our house from when my husband was a teenager and used to get a subscription (he hangs on to everything!) I have pretty well used them up as giftwrap, and everyone always comments on them. In my husband's family, his mom always used to wrap their presents in a Premium Plus cracker box, and they always thought they were getting it's a tradition in our home to use the cracker box for wrapping ;o)

Erin said...

I love your "pasta night" gift idea. My best friend is not much of a cook and recently moved in with her boyfriend. That sounds like something they can both appreciate.

just in case I'm lucky...
I'm from the US and would love a copy of TEV... already have Vive.

Thanks Dreena!


hilary said...

Hi Dreena,

61 comments - wow! I love the idea of wrapping in ethnic newspapers - I'm visiting my parents in Egypt right now, and should make sure to pick some up before I gift my (belated) gifts to those back in Calgary!

Janet said...

What a wonderful surprise to see your contest this morning. I spent last evening and will be spending today making goodies from TEV and Vive Le Vegan to give as Christmas presents to my girls teachers. It is so nice to be able to give a gift that tastes so good and is good for both the body and the soul.

This is also my year of the Dreena Burton presents. I am giving a number of people (those at the top of my list) a copy of one of your two wonderful cookbooks. So please enter me into the Canadian contest, as I would love to spread even more joy around this season.

Thanks for such great books!

Anonymous said...

great post! Have a great Holidays!

Valerie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
raising_kahne said...

wow. A lot of comments! I hve a quick question about making the chocolate cupcakes from TEV, should I make the frosting and the cuppers the day before and chill the frosting in the fridge and the cupcakes just with a towel overnight?? OR should I make the fosting the night before, and the cuppers on the day I need them??

Anonymous said...

For giftwrap, my dad bought a bunch of Christmas fabric scraps on sale one year, and we've been using them to wrap our gifts for years. Just need a few safety pins, and voila!

Please enter me in the contest! I'm Canadian. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

Hi, Dreena,
What do you think about using instant espresso in the chocolate? Some people have mentioned using espresso beans, but using liquid would really spread the taste all the way through the chocolate.

I'd love a copy of either cookbook to give to my two friends who are leaving the 'evil empire' January 1.

Merry Christmas!
Jackie from California

VeganCyclist said...

mmmm. doesn't that look tasty!!!

Anonymous said...

69 comments? WOWZERS! Nothing draws a crowd quite like freebies! I'd love to be entered, please!!!

I just bought some candied ginger to make the chocolate bark but when I went to make it, I found that Marty had snacked on all the cranberries. So, it will have to wait until the next trip to the store.

Your gift ideas are perfect!! I'm not really one for celebrating x-mas but I'll have to remember these for birthdays, etc.

Dreena said...

Awesome ideas and tips again everyone!!! Just to address a few questions, bits and bites...

Melissa, I agree - food doesn't count! I am not exchanging with my girlfriends this year, but they will all get a box of my bark. It's tradition, and I can't imagine not giving it to them!! Oh, and you know, there's *still* time for some of your nearest and dearest to get a few foodie items for you... :) ...there are stockings to be filled, after all!

Amey, those ideas are terrific, and especially the newspapers in different languages - there is too much negative stuff in our own papers that we don't want to read or identify on Christmas Day! Also, I'm SUPER glad you loved those cookies - cookie joy to all!!

Michelle, thanks for that recipe report. You know, whenever I look at that chickpea pasta recipe I think people are put off by how many ingredients are in it - but really it's SO easy because it's just whizzed up in the processor. Plus, it tastes good with all the seasonings and herbs - even though it looks a little odd when reading it!! Thanks for the notes.

Braelin, thank you for the comment - it's nice to hear from a long time reader! If you have any questions about the recipes as you start to dig in to the book, please e-mail me. I love using brown lunch bags for things too - often for loot bags for parties and at Halloween too. Inexpensive, practical, and reusable. Also, yes, dollar stores are ideal for picking up reusable containers and boxes that don't cost very much! Good luck with the recipes you try, feel free to let me know how you liked them. :)

Dino, I wish my handwriting was as neat! I could use my recipe scratches and notes if so - but really, my penmanship is appalling! Oh, and I love the idea of a gift in a scarf. My very favorite scarves are those given to me by friends/family in past years that they made themselves. Good luck in the contest (and with your own book)!

Skyblogger... wow, I'm flattered. To always pass "will hubby eat it" test - my own test scores aren't that successful in our home! :) Seriously, thank you for those very kind words, and happy holidays to you too.

Aarwenn - WOW! Those are some fancy shmancy ideas - I love them, though I must confess I'd never get around to the ironing, so I think I'll give outlining the wrinkles in the paper a try - very clever, you and your family! thx!

Nancy, I'd like to start that "special box" tradition too! Sounds like fun - maybe I'll use a heavy duty food box of some kind that might hold up year to year... hmmm, will have to look for one - cute idea.

Janet, that is so very sweet... thank you - and your girls' teachers are lucky to be getting some homemade goodies too, I'm sure they'll appreciate that.

HURRAH Valerie!!!! Congrats, it sounds like you are very, very close to being vegan already - kudos to you for making those changes. Eliminating dairy, etc altogether, you'll feel better and will feel good about your food choices on many levels. If I can help with questions along the way, let me know... oh, and you're in good company to have a family that "doesn't get it" or isn't supportive - most of us have had that, and some still do. Good luck - and hip, hip, hooray!

Savanna, normally with the cake or cupcakes, just for my own ease in cooking, I make the frosting the day before (less cleaning on one day), then put it in a container with a tight lid in the refrigerator. The next day, I make the cake and when cool, frost it, and then let it set - overnight if possible. If you only have a few hours to let it set, that's okay, esp with the cupcakes. Also, for the yield I mention in the book, I often make rounded cupcakes that I can pipe the frosting into the middle, so I fill them fairly full. If you want to make them level, then fill only about 1/2 - 2/3 full, and you'll get a larger yield. Good luck! Let me know if you have other questions, and how they turn out.

Hi Jackie, I've never used instant espresso in the bark. If it's a liquid, then I wouldn't add it to the melted chocolate because it will seize up and the bark will be pretty much amuck - you could salvage it to make something else, but not the bark. However, if you crush the coffe beans, then add those through the melted chocolate, that would disperse the flavor much more.

Yes, Vivacious, everyone like a freebie!! Oh, that man of yours... munching on the ingredients, tsk, tsk! :) For me, hubby just goes for the final product, and I have a very hard time keeping him out of it!! Oh, thank you for the review you left on amazon - much appreciated. Good luck making that bark next time - hide your goods, that's your only hope! :)

Oh, and for all those leaving Santa jokes - I love them all, corny and silly - and I'm going to relay them to our 5 yr old - she'll love them too!

raising_kahne said...

Thanks, Dreena. I assume I should only make 1/2 of the frosting because you say in the book that it leaves about as much for another batch? I believe my aunt has a decorator, if so I would love to try piping it into the middle and then some on top!

Anonymous said...

I'd love a copy of either book. I'm a college student with a love for cooking but only limited resources when it comes to making delicious vegan meals. Have a wonderful Christmas.

Btw great chocolate, I'll have to try some of it.


Kellimezzo said...

Dreena, I made your bark last night for office Christmas presents today. Everyone loves it. Thanks for the great ideas.

Dreena said...

Yeah, Savanna you don't *need* to do the whole batch of frosting - you can get by with 1/2'ng it... though I never want to do that! I'm telling you, that frosting is so good you can eat it with a spoon!! It's not sugary sweet like many icings, it's just chocolatey and smooth and creamy - you'll find yourself scooping extra on your cupcakes. Enjoy!!

Awesome, kellimezzo!! Yay!! Chocolate happiness through the holidays... thanks for sharing your success. :)

raising_kahne said...

How can I make 1/2 after a yummy description like that?! I could tell by the look of the icing that it probably wasnt as sickingly sweet as most packaged icings(yuck), I always hated how sweet those were when i was younger. I'd always scrape it off. Ill let you know how they turn out!

tamara said...

ahh! i needed a recipe for vegan bark! <3 (if the contest is going on please enter me too!)

Urban Vegan said...

Merry Christmas Dreena. I wish I had made your chocolate bark--but there are many more accoasion to come. Great food, and what fun wrapping tips. Thanks for a year of inspiration!

I hope you're having a wonderful holiday!

jenny said...

Adding crystalized ginger to the bark is genious! I also liked your gift suggestions!

funwithyourfood said...

thanks for the great gift tips! I wish i would have looked before christmas


Kate said...

I just got your book (vive) for christmas and I am so excited to start using it.

Veg-a-Nut said...

Oh my for sure! I am going to make that chocolate bark. It is so yummy looking. My daughters boyfriend wrapped her presents in store ads and even made bows out of stips of the ads. He was very creative this year. I recieved your book, The Everyday Vegan for an early Christmas present. I LOVE IT. You can see in my blog I already made your Pumpkin Raisin Loaf, which is to die for!

Melissa West said...

Merry Christmas Dreena!

Love the post. I made all my Christmas gifts this year too. I plan to post about it once I have handed them all out. I love the idea of reusing and reducing wrapping paper. I haven't bought wrapping supplies in years... I always use up what I have.... which always seems to be more than enough.

laura jesser said...

Dreena, Merry Christmas! Thanks for sending the recipe--my mom was very grateful. She made a TRIPLE batch while I was visiting!!! And I was very happy that the chocolate chips she had on hand happened to be vegan...

Michelle said...

anxiously awaiting your post of the Winner!

i got TEV for xmas, woohoo! i have a friend who would love Vive though.

laura jesser said...

Dreena, pull me out of the contest--I just ordered TEV with a Barnes and Noble gift card I received for Christmas! I'm so excited for it to come in!

Happy new year to you and your family, Dreena!

Candi said...

Hi Dreena!

I came by to wish you a Happy New Year!

Yum on that chocolate bark! :P

Oooh, a give away!! I have and looooove Vive le Vegan, but would love to win the Everyday Vegan! :) *enters name*

Happy New Year to you and your family!

Johanna said...

One of my favorite things to use for wrapping paper is old calendars! Once someone gave me a Sierra Club calendar--that made amazing, unique wrapping the next year. Anime calendars are large-sized, & make good wrapping as well. And even for smaller calendars, if the pages are too small to totally wrap a gift, I like to cut out images from them & use them as gift tags or other package decoration.

Dreena said...

Hi Kate - thanks for the note - let me know if you have any questions about the recipes & such! :)

Hi veg-a-nut... creative guy indeed!! I'm impressed! Glad you like the pumpkin raisin loaf, and thanks for letting me know. :)

Hey Michelle - no luck for you again this time round - bummer! At least you have TEV now, and there'll always be a 'next time'!

Johanna, that is SUCH a fab idea... I'll have to remember it for next year and for bday presents too - thanks!