Sunday, November 25, 2012

Vegan Thanksgiving 2012!

Photo: Happy Thanksgiving everyone!   

Year 4 of Vegan Thanksgiving!

I can't believe it. I've successfully pulled off a vegan thanksgiving 4 years in a row

And this year? Better than the last. Healthier. And a whole lot less stressful.

A better vegan cook I am becoming (I also channel Yoda on thanksgiving)

This year, the menu included:
  • Squash soup (made by a friend of the family)
  • Roasted veggies w/fresh rosemary and thyme
  • Green salad with citrus and sesame seeds (made by a friend of the family)
  • Stuffing made with whole grain bread, chestnuts, mushrooms and golden raisins 
  • Green bean casserole 
  • Wild rice stuffed squash and pepper (made by a friend of the family)
  • Mojito fruit salad
  • "Lightened-up" mashed potatoes (recipe below)
  • 2 kinds of vegan gravy
  • Homemade spiced cranberry sauce (recipe below)
  • Pull-apart Rolls
  • Not-Turkey from Trader Joe's!
  • Homemade apple-raspberry pie (made by a friend of the family)

Squash Soup

Citrus/Sesame Salad

Green Bean Casserole
Green Bean Casserole

Not-Turkey + Roasted Veggies


Roasted Veggies
The whole gamut!

From 12:00, clockwise: stuffing, mojito fruit salad, not-turkey + gravy, citrus salad, stuffed squash, mashed potatoes + gravy, pull-apart roll and then the roasted veggies in the middle! Everything is covered in cranberry sauce so sorry for that.

The mashed potatoes and the cranberries were my favorite parts. In fact, I have a delicious left-over bowl in front of me as I type this post.  Really though, everything was delicious. I'm just only going to include the recipes for the mashed potatoes and the cranberries because those take the cake ('s thanksgiving...pie?)

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

  • One bag/box of fresh cranberries (I don't know the exact weight but they come pretty standard)
  • 1 1/2 cups Concord Grape Juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup agave 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp jamaican all spice (or regular if you don't have jamaican but try to get it!)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 scant tsp salt
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan, bring to a boil and then simmer for a MINIMUM of 30 minutes. I did mine for about an hour and it was totally worth it, the more time it simmers the more time the flavors have to combine and settle in. Add more grape juice if you need it.

Remove from stove, place into a bowl and let set and firm up overnight.

Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes
  • 8-9 small/medium gold potatoes, chopped into 1/2-1 inch chunks
  • 1 smallish head of cauliflower, separated into florets
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1 Tbsp non-dairy (Tofutti) Cream Cheese
  • 3 Tbsp Hummus or Tahini Paste
  • 1 large handful of chives, chopped
  • Salt + Pepper, to taste 
In a large pan, bring about 2 inches of water to a boil. Add the potatoes and boil/steam for about 15 minutes. Add the cauliflower and a touch more water if you need it and boil/steam for another 10 minutes or so.
Bad lighting - forgot to take a photo until they were 1/2 gone!

The idea here with the shallow water is that you don't want  the potatoes and cauliflower to get waterlogged - you want them to steam and cook up nicely so the natural flavors are locked in.

Once the potatoes and cauliflower are steamed, remove them from the pan. Using a potato ricer, "rice" the potatoes and the cauliflower into a large bowl. (Yes, the cauliflower will go through the ricer - no problem).

Mix in the earth balance, cream cheese and hummus using a fork until fully combined and fluffy. Then add the chives and salt and pepper and stir until fully combined. If your potatoes seem dry (they shouldn't be, but based on what kind of hummus you use they may be slightly less fluffy than you want) add in a little bit of soy creamer or plain non-dairy milk until you get the desired consistency.

Serve warm :)

So satisfying. I absolutely love the holidays - especially Thanksgiving. It is always a point of reflection and a big 'check-in' to see where I've been in the past year and where I'm going. Moreso than New Years or any other time of the year really. Thanksgiving always feels like the right time to reflect on life and take it all in.

But we should all remember to be grateful on a daily basis. If anything, that is the best lesson that Thanksgiving can teach. Being grateful feels good. So do it more.

And eat more (if it's delicious, cruelty-free, healthy vegan food).

Thanks, Thanksgiving.

Until next year, live long and prosper.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pumpkin Cauliflower Dip + How to Roast the Perfect Pumpkin Seeds

If you know me at all you know that Halloween is my favorite holiday.

I absolutely love dressing up, handing out candy, and, most of all, I LOVE pumpkin things.

This year, I dressed up as Khaleesi from Game of Thrones :)

I even won a costume contest! Woo hoo!! Thanks Burnside Brewing :)

Colin dressed up as Luigi (another of our friends went as Mario!)

BUT - let's get to the reason you are here: the food :)

I would have absolutely loved to make a whole plethora of pumpkin-based things but as I was functioning with limited time, I only made a couple things this year :(

Fortunately! Those couple things were really really good.

First up! Pumpkin-Cauliflower Dip!

The inspiration for this recipe came from Kathy at Happy, Healthy Life but of course I modified it slightly :)

So this dip is a roasted cauliflower dip on the bottom, swirled with a pumpkin dip (I used chickpeas in both so it had a similar consistency to hummus. Baked hummus) and then baked briefly so it has a nice crispy layer atop.

Cauliflower Dip
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1 medium purple onion (or sweet onion if you have that on hand)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (I loooove garlic but if you're less inclined, scale it back)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Salt + Pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 can of chickpeas
  • 3-6 Tbsp plain non-dairy milk
Preheat the oven to 425.

Chop up the cauliflower, dice the onion and arrange on a large baking sheet. Add the garlic cloves whole (you'll be food processing the whole thing later anyway so don't worry about getting everything perfect looking).

Drizzle with olive oil and salt + pepper and allow to roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until onion is yummy and caramelized tasting.

Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes and then transfer to a food processor. Add chickpeas and non-dairy milk of choice and process until the mixture resembles hummus.

While the veggies are roasting, I recommend you make your pumpkin dip, although you could easily prep it before hand as well :)

Pumpkin Dip
  • 1 can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
  • 2/3 can chickpeas
  • 1-2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla non-dairy milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp each of: nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves (or, alternately, 3 tbsp pumpkin pie seasoning) 
  • Salt, to taste
Place all ingredients in your food processor and blend until smooth!

To prepare the dip: Spoon cauliflower mixture onto bottom of an oven-safe tray. Then place half or so of the pumpkin mixture on top of it.

Use a toothpick to make a "swirl" design.

Place the mixture in the oven and bake for 5-10 minutes or until there is a nice cripsy layer on top :)

Serve with veggies and crackers!

We also served ours with some excellent pumpkin beer.

This stuff is world-class, I'm tellin ya.

Rogue's First Growth, Pumpkin Patch

Crooked Line's Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Not pictured but also DELICIOUS: Southern Tier's Pumking Imperial Pumpkin

I love love love pumpkin beer!!


Also in pumpkin mode: Mr. Wyatt.

He also loves Halloween. And pumpkins!

And Pumpkin SEEDS!

His momma loves pumpkin seeds, too, and she is now on Halloween cycle 3: mission to perfect the roasted pumpkin seed.

And by George I think I finally got it.

It's a process, but I have discovered the method to roasting the perfect pumpkin seed.

Are you ready?


To roast the perfect pumpkin seed you must take the following steps:

1. Extract seeds from pumpkin.
2. Remove as much pumpkin "goo" as possible from said seeds.
3. Place the seeds in a bowl with warm salt water (use LOTS of salt for this - it will help you later down the line)
4. Soak the seeds overnight
5. Boil the seeds in the salt water bath for 10-15 minutes
6. Transfer the boiled seeds onto a lightly greased cookie sheet (I do mine with coconut oil)
7. Bake pumpkin seeds at 425 degrees for 15-25 minutes (depending on how many you do!) turning occasionally with a spoon or spatula
8. Turn the oven to "broil" and broil the pumpkin seeds (with the oven door open so you can watch them) for an additional 5-10 minutes or until just beginning to brown and crisp up.

Voila! You have the uber-intensive but totally-worth-it fool-proof method to roasting the perfect pumpkin seed!

I hope your Halloween was as delicious and pumpkin-filled as mine!

Live long and prosper Hallovegans!