austin

Christmas Forever at Lala’s Little Nugget

lala's little nugget

Lala’s Little Nugget in Austin is the bar straight out of my dreams: it’s a dark little dive, off the beaten path, populated by neighborhood regulars who don’t pay you a bit of mind. The bartenders pour stiff drinks and, here’s the kicker, it’s decorated for Christmas every day of the year.

When I started drinking at Lala’s in the early aughts, there were myths surrounding the perpetual Christmastime, but the most pervasive was that the owner’s husband had died during the holidays in the early 70s, and she’d left up the decorations to honor him. A good story, a much better story than the truth: the owner did decide to leave the decorations up in 1972 rather than take them down, but it was because she thought the bar looked to bare without them.

But what I love most about Lala’s—even more than the decorations—is the jukebox. It’s stuck in 1972, too, and is the best possible combination of jazz, soul, and golden country. Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald and Lou Rawls and Tammy Wynette and Nina Simone all packed in together. Oh, and Christmas music. Of course. You wouldn’t think that it would work, but it’s perfect.

I made this playlist, christmas: hiding out at lala’s little nugget, as a tribute to the great Lala’s jukebox.

The old Christmas playlists are still around, too, and I still add to and cut from them every year:

christmas: coffee – a playlist of mellow tunes to listen to while you’re drinking your coffee and watching the lights blink on the tree (or making out, whatever, I’m not judging)

christmas: crafting and cooking – a mix of old and new songs to play in the background while you glue sequins and roll dough, heavy on the indie rock

christmas: cocktail party – upbeat classics, heavy on the crooners

You can follow the playlist now and wait a month before you listen to it if you’re a purist (Kim, I’m talking to you, about you and your “rules”) but if you want to pop on headphones and have this be the background music as you work, I will keep it just between the two of us.

xoxo.

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recipes, sides

Pumpkin Potatoes

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A few years back, when we were still living in Portland, my friends Katie and Kati came over to make a Franksgiving dinner with me (it was October; we just wanted Thanksgiving food), and they brought pumpkin. “Oh, what are we making with pumpkin?” I asked as I pulled the can out of the bag. “We’re going to add some to the mashed potatoes,” was the answer. “Why not?”

I was skeptical (maybe how you’re feeling right now), but I trusted the Kati(e)s, so we worked together, cobbling our three standby mashed potato recipes into one on the fly as we each added a little some of this and some of that to the mix, then stirring in pumpkin, and this was the result. It’s maybe my favorite mashed potatoes recipe of all time. Teamwork!

Please do not omit the Vegenaise in this recipe, or sub in vegan yogurt or some such thing. This is not health food. This is mashed potatoes. If anything, you should add more Vegenaise. Like, if you are going to a potluck and want your dish to be the star of the show, double this recipe but triple the Vegenaise. Live a little! You will not regret it.

Pumpkin Potatoes

makes 6-8 servings

3 lbs russet potatoes, roughly peeled, cut into 1-2″ chunks
3/4 cup pureed cooked or canned pumpkin
1/4 cup Vegenaise
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika or 1/8 teaspoon paprika and 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Add potato chunks to a large stockpot and add just enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Salt the water liberally, at least one teaspoon. Cover and bring the water to a boil. Boil the potatoes until tender, 12-15 minutes.

Drain the potatoes then transfer them back to the pot they were cooked in or a large mixing bowl. Mash them with a potato masher while they’re still steaming hot. Add pumpkin, Vegenaise, margarine, and garlic, and mash again. Add seasoning and incorporate the seasoning thoroughly using either the masher or a spoon. Serve immediately.

Recipe originally posted to joannavaught.com in October 2011.

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recipes, toppings

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

pumpkin spice syrup

I first created this syrup in 2010, and I’ve made it every fall since and here are just some of the ways that we use it:

  • homemade vegan pumpkin spice lattes and chai lattes
  • pumpkin spice old fashioneds (1 teaspoon pumpkin spice syrup, dash of bitters, 2 oz bourbon or rye, a little club soda, orange peel)
  • spooned on top of ice cream
  • stirred into oatmeal
  • added to soy or almond milk to make pumpkin spice milk (Milo loves this)

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

makes 12 ounces or 10-12 servings

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup loosely packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a nonstick pot, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring briskly with a fork or whisking every 5-10 minutes. After 45 minutes, the syrup should have reduced to a consistency slightly thicker and more viscous than a simple syrup — when you lift your fork or whisk out of the syrup, a few syrupy strands should come up with it. Turn the heat off and mix in the vanilla. When the syrup has cooled completely, give it another good stir before transferring to a canning jar. It will have thickened up even more and the final consistency should be between maple syrup and molasses.

Recipe originally posted to joannavaught.com in November 2010.

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dessert, recipes

Gingersnaps

vegan gingersnaps

Gingersnaps

makes 2-3 dozen

3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup molasses
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons soy or almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, cloves, or cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease or line with parchment paper two baking sheets. Spoon turbinado sugar into a shallow bowl and set aside.

Cream together oil, molasses, sugar, nondairy milk, and vanilla. Sift in flour, baking soda, spices, and salt, and mix until flour mixture is incorporated. Dough will be sticky.

Roll into balls the size of large walnuts, and dip one side of the ball into the sugar, then place sugar-side up two inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges start to brown. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Recipe originally posted to joannavaught.com in October 2012.

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dessert, recipes

Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumbprints

peanut butter and jelly thumbprints

Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumbprints

makes 2-3 dozen

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup smooth organic peanut butter (preferably no sugar added)
2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons soy or almond milk
1 cup reduced sugar jam or preserves

Preheat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cream together shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar, and vanilla. Sift flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt into the bowl, and mix on a low speed until flour is fully incorporated; mixture will be crumbly. At this point, you will want to add 2-3 tablespoons of milk, blending in one tablespoon at a time until the dough clumps together if you form a ball in your hand; don’t exceed three tablespoons.

Form balls the size of whole walnuts in your hands and transfer delicately to baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Use a small glass (a jam jar, perhaps?) to gently and uniformly press the ball down to help it spread. The sides will crack and that is fine; if you’ve made peanut butter cookies before, you know that is just par for the course. After flattening all the cookies, use the underside of a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon to form an indentation in the middle of the cookie with one hand while “holding” the cookie together with the other hand. This is much easier to do than I’m describing it! Spoon jam into the indendation so that it’s level with the top of the cookie.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Store these in a container rather than in a bag, as they need a little extra loving care.

Recipe originally posted to joannavaught.com in October 2012.

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dessert, recipes

Snickerdoodles

snickerdoodles

I can hear you now: “Joanna, what’s with all the cookies?” Well, truthfully, it’s gearing up to be that time of year! As soon as the temperature drops below 80 in the evenings, I’m going to be baking cookies after work, stockpiling for the holidays. I beg you to indulge me a little bit longer in my cookie recipe archival. And seriously: make this veganized version of my mom’s snickerdoodle recipe! It’s kind of a famous recipe! I mean, she submitted it to two separate ladies-of-the-church fundraising cookbooks, so when I first baked these as a kid, I was referring to one of those recipes and bursting with pride to see my mom’s name right there in black and white. This is what my childhood tastes like.

Snickerdoodles

makes 3-4 dozen

2 tablespoons sugar (turbinado is nice)
1 tablespoon decorating sugar or another teaspoon of sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup shortening
1/4 cup soymilk or almond milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400. Combine sugars and cinnamon on a plate and set aside.

Mix shortening and sugar thoroughly. Combine all dry ingredients, then stir wet and dry ingredients together, either by hand or on the lowest setting of the mixer.

Roll into balls the size of large walnuts, then roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes.

Cool on baking sheets for five minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely. Store in a tightly sealed container with a slice of bread to keep the cookies soft.

Recipe originally posted to joannavaught.com in October 2012.

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recipes, snacks

Chickpea Nuggets

chickpea nuggets
A hummus-inspired variation on my standby seitan nuggets recipe.

Chickpea Nuggets

makes 20-24 large nuggets or 4-6 servings

1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup vital wheat gluten
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids
optional: 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

breading:
1/4 cup flour (I don’t recommend chickpea flour – it’s flavor overkill)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon cornstarch
up to 1 teaspoon of dry seasoning (suggested: dried parsley, smoked paprika, lemon zest)
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then lightly oil the parchment paper.

Pulse the chickpeas and the garlic cloves together in the food processor until the chickpeas are broken down. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, and salt, and mix together. Add water, olive oil, tahini, and soy sauce or Bragg’s and stir until uniform and all the liquid is absorbed.

In a bowl, combine the breading ingredients.

Break off a small piece of the dough, form it into a nuggety shape, coat it in breading, and transfer it to the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough. You can save any remaining nugget breading for next time.

Bake for 10 minutes, flip each nugget, bake for another 10-12 minutes. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce.

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dessert, recipes

The Christmas Cookies

the christmas cookies

My absolute favorite cookie, because of its versatility. Every year, I make one batch of the “standard recipe” (below) and then several batches where I play around with the mix-ins. Past favorites have included: dried cherries + pistachios; almonds swapped out for chocolate chips; chopped banana chips and walnuts for a banana bread feel… the combinations are limited only by your imagination.

My family reserves this recipe for the holiday season, but there is no reason why you should wait.

The Christmas Cookies

makes about 3 dozen

1 tablespoon flaxmeal
3 tablespoons water or vegan milk
1/2 cup solid coconut oil or vegan margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup organic oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries or 1/4 cup raisins and 1/4 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup dried coconut
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine flaxmeal and water or milk in a glass and set aside for five minutes or so.

Cream together oil or margarine, sugars, flax mixture, and vanilla. Add flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and mix well. Stir in raisins, coconut, almonds, and pecans.

Drop by spoon onto baking sheets and flatten slightly with a fork.

Optional (you might want to skip if you’re making these for kids): sprinkle by hand a few granules of sea salt on top of each cookie.

Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes.

Transfer from baking sheets to cooling racks immediately upon removing from oven. Store in an airtight container with a piece of bread to keep them soft.

Recipe originally posted to joannavaught.com in August 2009; published in Potluck Mania #1; published again in Yellow Rose Greatest Hits 2011.

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Vegan Parm

Vegan Parm

makes about 2 cups

1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup brown or white rice flour (I prefer brown for the nutty flavor)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon lemon zest

Combine all ingredients in food processor and process until fine crumbs. Store in a lidded container in your refrigerator for up to a month.

Recipe originally published in Yellow Rose Recipes 2007.

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recipes, snacks

Nuggets

nuggets

Nuggets

makes 28-36 or 4-6 servings

dry mix:
1 cup vital wheat gluten
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
up to 1 tablespoon of dry seasoning (suggested: dried herbs, dry mustard, paprika)

wet mix:
1 cup water
1-2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids

breading:
2 tablespoons “large grain” coating, such as: cornmeal, polenta, panko, or breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
up to 1 teaspoon of dry seasoning (suggested: dried herbs, lemon zest)
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and use a spatula to stir until all the liquid is absorbed.

In a bowl, combine the breading ingredients.

Break off a small piece of the dough, form it into a nuggety shape, coat it in breading, and transfer it to the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough. You can save any remaining nugget breading for next time.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. Serve warm with your favorite dipping sauce.

Recipe originally posted to joannavaught.com August 2009; published in Yellow Rose Greatest Hits 2011.

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