A (Perfect) Very Veggie Thanksgiving.

Since I have eliminated meat from my diet, holidays have always been a bit tricky. I mean, Thanksgiving pretty much revolves around the turkey in my family…you know, after the antipasto course, then that lasagna or manicotti, and then finally after the turkey soup. Meat and dairy overload. I decided right away to make myself something delicious and vegan to bring to my parents or my in laws, so that way 1. the expectation is not on them to make me something tasty, and 2. I wouldn’t look at my plate and think it was completely lame and feel left out.

Year number one of being a vegan on thanksgiving I made one of my favorite vegan recipes that I even make on non-holidays. It also happens to be on one of my favorite blogs: Oh She Glows (Vegan Recipes by Angela Liddon)!! The recipe is Glazed Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf. If Thanksgiving was a loaf, this would be it. 😉 My meat eating family enjoyed this also.

so yum

so yum!

Last year I was pregnant and saw an instagram post from nom yourself (Which, by the way, go follow her is you have not already. Your mouth will water all day long and you’ll be so inspired by her vegan creativity! @nomyourself) that featured Gardein Turk’y Cutlets and it looked so dang good that I decided then and there that’s what I’m making myself for Thanksgiving this year. It was perfect & even came with it’s own gravy. I loved stacking my bites…turk’y, gravy, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce. Not home made, but still an enjoyable option.

Simple, easy, tasty.

Simple, easy, tasty.

This is year 3 of a meatless Thanksgiving for me, and as soon as I saw this recipe I KNEW it was this year’s winner. A new blog I came across this year, and another favorite of mine, 86 Lemons, featured this recipe recently: Stuffed Squash with Cherry Apple Almond Couscous. I love the combination of cherry and almond, how the dijon really brings all the flavors together, and that this recipe uses couscous. You also really can’t go wrong with a stuffed squash on Thanksgiving! Can’t wait to share this one with my family this year.

Amazing flavors!

Amazing flavors!

These are just 3 options, out of SOOOOO many!!!

Here is a link for 37 vegetarian recipes if you are still looking for more.

Here is an amazing post from Oh She Glows giving tons of vegan options.

I also have a yummy soup and puree featuring a classic Thanksgiving veggie, parsnips.

About 4-5 years back I started a tradition of making a pumpkin trifle for Thanksgiving. It was such a hit, it is requested by multiple people every year. Last year I finally made a home made vegan version and I plan on making it this Monday for a Friendsgiving party we are attending. I am also going to do it refined sugar free this year and will definitely be posting the outcome!!!

Hope you all have a wonderful, thankful, blessed holiday, and that your hearts, as well as your plates, will be full!

A Weekend of Fall Flavored Brilliance.

This weekend I had two brilliant food ideas that utilized more fall festive food items I had stocked in the kitchen.

One: Dinner Friday night.

As you may remember, my husband is kind of obsessed with parsnips. I had pumpkin on hand and had been wanting to use it in a savory dish…so, I guess you could say lightning struck my brain and it hit me…pumpkin parsnip puree. This was the whole dish:

pumpkin parsnip dinner

Coconut milk infused rice, topped with caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, and of course the crowning glory – pumpkin parsnip puree.

A few people have asked me for a recipe, so I decided to blog it! Ok, so listen…I’m kind of the queen of just winging it in the kitchen when I am getting creative and don’t always measure; I eyeball and taste, eyeball and taste. BUT I have a pretty good idea of what I did here and did my very best with a recipe. It’s so yummy!

Ingredients:

For the rice:

approx. 1 Tbsp butter (I use organic earth balance buttery spread – coconut or canola oil would work too.)

2 cups dried brown rice

1 can lite coconut milk (full fat is fine if you desire or only have it on hand)

2 cups water

1 tsp salt

3 dried bay leaves

For the puree:

5-6 parsnips (I used one whole bag from Trader Joes.)

1 cup + 2 Tbsp plain pumpkin puree (Trader Joes organic is my fave.)

2 Tbsp plain non dairy milk

1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt (start with 1/2 tsp, you can always add more)

3-4 grinds of fresh ground black pepper

1/2 tsp dried thyme (pinch it between your fingers to release more flavor before adding it!)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp maple syrup

For the veggies:

1/2 one large white onion, thinly sliced

8 oz package of white button mushrooms, sliced (baby bellas would work too)

2/3 of a 6 oz package of fresh baby spinach (about 3-4 cups I’d say) (frozen would work if you let it thaw completely then squeeze out extra liquid, then use 1.5-2 cups)

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp salt

fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

First start the rice. Heat a medium sized pot over medium high heat and throw in the butter and rice. Stir it around to melt the butter and lightly toast the rice for 3-5 min. Add in the coconut milk, water, salt and bay leaf, cover and turn the heat up to high. Once its boiling turn the heat down to low until the water is absorbed. (Follow the cooking directions on the rice you have. If it calls for a higher ratio of liquid just add more water.)

While the rice is cooking add another medium sized pot to the stove filled half way with water. Add a pinch of salt, cover and turn the heat on high. Once the water is boiling add the peeled and diced parsnips. I let them boil for a few minutes then turn the heat down slightly to cook until they are fork tender (about 10 min or so).

While the rice and parsnips are cooking work on the veggies. Heat a cast iron skillet (or large skillet) over medium-medium high heat and pour in canola oil. Add the sliced onion and mushrooms to the skillet. You want the onions to caramelize and the mushrooms to brown a bit so do not add any salt yet. That will cause the veggies to release liquid and they won’t brown. So, give the onions and mushrooms a good 10 minutes or so until they get soft and get some color. Then add the garlic and the salt & pepper. If they seem to stick to the pan or the garlic starts to brown add a splash of water. Once the garlic has cooked for 30-60 seconds add the spinach and stir to incorporate. Let it cook until the spinach has wilted. Turn heat to low, drizzle with truffle oil, stir and let sit until ready to serve.

At this point your parsnips should be done, and your rice should be close to done, if not done. Drain parsnips and add them to a mixing bowl. Add the pumpkin and milk and mix with and electric mixer to combine and create a smooth mixer. Then, add remaining ingredients and mix again to combine. (A food processor would work great too, I may try that next time!)

When rice is done remove from heat, remove the bay leaves and fluff it with a fork.

To serve spoon some rice onto the plate, top with the veggies. I scooped the puree into a plastic baggy, snipped the end off and piped it around the rice and veggies! All of the components tasted so yummy on there own, but they were THE PERFECT combination for stacking bites. A little rice, a little veggies, a little puree. Serious perfection. The flavors went so well together!

Saturday morning is when brilliant idea #2 struck me: Coffee. I have been less than impressed with the coffee I bought on sale at the grocery store recently; so I thought, how could I jazz up the flavor of my coffee???

gb spice tea

Make use of this delightful seasonal gingerbread spice tea!!! I prepped my coffee maker to make a 4 cup pot of coffee, then cut open 2 of these tea bags and added it to the grounds, along with just a drop of vanilla extract. Honestly guys, the flavor rivaled that of any Starbucks seasonal beverage! SO good. It’s my new morning beverage addiction.

So there you have it. A weekend of fall flavored brilliance.

Coming up I am going to be posting about what vegans/vegetarians eat on Thanksgiving! It’s not all about the turkey! 😉 What are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes??

Vegan Chocolate Chip “Oreo” Brownie Bars with a Holiday Twist!

My husband had his company Christmas party tonight, to which they do not invite spouses. hmph! LAME.

Anyway, I was sitting here, alone, eating some ginger snaps with almond milk & realized it’s been over a month since I’ve posted! (How does that happen?!)  AND that I promised an amazing veganized recipe for chocolate chip oreo brownie bars that can easily be made with a holiday twist!

I am definitely in the Christmas spirit since we put our cute little tree up a couple weeks ago, and went into NYC this past weekend to see the tree in Rockefeller Center, as well as eat lunch at Serendipity and stroll through both Central & Bryant Park.

Hubby at Serendipity

Hubby at Serendipity

Us at the tree in NYC...

Us at the tree in NYC…

I personally like our tree better. :)

I personally like our tree better. 🙂

Back to the baked goods…

I for one love new dessert recipes, as well as switching it up during the holidays from the typical cookie or pie that usually appears on the table.

I found the original recipe for the goodies to follow from Kevin & Amanda, then made the appropriate changes to make it vegan, and maybe a liiiiiitle bit healthier.

Holiday Chocolate Chip “Oreo” Brownie Bars

First off, preheat oven to 350 degrees. And let me just say right off that it may seem like a lot to make brownie & chocolate chip cookie batter for 1 dish, but it’s super easy, goes super fast & is totally worth it! Now go for it & let everyone tell you how amazing you are.

For the Brownies: (altered from here.)

Ingredients:

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1.5 cups sugar (I use raw (turbinado) sugar pulsed in a spice mill to make it finer)

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup water

1 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1 Tbsp canola oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder & salt. Add in the water, apple sauce, oil, & vanilla, then mix until well combined. Set aside & prepare chocolate cookie batter.

For the Chocolate Chip Cookies: (altered from here.)

Ingredients:

2 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup vegan margarine at room temp. (Earth Balance has a variety using veggie, soy or coconut oils)

1/2 cup organic brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar (again, I use raw sugar pulsed in spice mill)

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup mashed banana

12 oz dairy free chocolate chip (I use Trader Joes brand usually)

Directions:

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl and set aside.

In a separate large bowl, beat together the margarine, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and banana. Add the dry ingredients to this and stir until combined well.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Holiday Twist!

Heck yes.

Heck yes.

OK – To Assemble:

Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper and press the chocolate chip cookie dough into the pan to form the bottom layer.

Next, place the Candy Cane Joe Joe’s in rows over the chocolate chip cookie dough. You should get 4 rows of about 7 cookies.

Finally pour the brownie batter over the whole thing.

Cover the pan with tin foil & bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil & then bake for 15-25 minutes more until fully cooked. You do want it to be nice & fudgey though!

Let them cool before cutting so it sets nicely & enjoy.

so. stinkin. tasty.

so. stinkin. tasty.

I am sure that your family & friends will LOVE this & you even more for making it!

Tomorrow is ultrasound day to reveal the gender of our little one, but we are going to have the tech put it in an envelope & open it on Christmas morning for memorable Christmas surprise. I have a fun plan to reveal the gender to our families that day and will be sure to share it with you all.

Hope you take time to enjoy this season amidst all the holiday preparations!!