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Vegan Thanksgiving in review

I cooked my first all-vegan Thanksgiving this year with a star-studded menu drawn from some of my favorite food blogs — I am pleased to report that every dish was exceptionally tasty.

Here’s a recap in pictures and words (images in this post are linked to corresponding recipes).

First, here’s a gratuitous picture of me cooking in my messy, cluttered kitchen — this one’s for you, Mom:

Appetizer plate: store-bought mushroom poppers and crudites with avocado ranch dressing

Snarky Vegan / JenoJoon’s Great Pumpkin Martini…

Yum. I added a little cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to give it perfect pumpkin pie flavor.

… and why you shouldn’t drink and bake

Annual holiday burn. I blame the clumsiness, not the cocktail. Real bakers have scars, right? It looks really gross today, four days later — just thought I’d share.

Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen’s Green Bean Casserole

This is a terrible picture, but our green bean casserole didn’t stick around long enough to take a better one. It’s a truly fantastic dish — just like mom used to make, but without that heavy dairy grossness. Fabulous.

Tofu Mom’s Mushroom Red Wine Sauce with roasted garlic mashed potatoes

I absolutely cannot get enough of Tofu Mom’s mushroom red wine sauce; David too keeps singing its praises. It’s the most elegant gravy I’ve tried, and definitely saved my slightly-dry mashed potatoes — I made a double batch of the stuff just to ensure leftovers.

Novel Eats’ stuffing

Okay, it’s Novel Eats’ stuffing minus the fresh parsley — I’m a parsley hater — and a few other tweaks. I used fresh thyme and sage to compensate for the parsleylessness, and the flavors were phenomenal.

I also used Essential Baking company’s stuffing cubes instead of fresh bread (since I bought it before committing to a recipe), which includes sourdough pieces; I really like how the sweetness of the apples and cranberries balanced with the savory sausage and the sour bread.

Raw cranberry orange relish

Mmm… I sampled a similar relish at the Whole Foods event I attended, and knew it must grace my Thanksgiving table. I’m not a fan of most cooked cranberry sauce, and though I love the jellied kind, it’s so easy to make your own from scratch and adds wonderful vibrance to your spread. I added about 1/4 tsp of cinnamon of a subtle hint of extra flavor.

Hobby and More’s rolls

Pillowy and amazing are what these rolls are. I broke my dough into eighths, which resulted in rolls better suited for burger buns than the dinner table, but the flavor was excellent. Homemade bread is definitely a simple way to go the extra mile in impressing guests — it’s really not that hard to make at all.

Hazelnut Cranberry Field Roast en Croute

The night before Thanksgiving, I posted something on Facebook along the lines of: “To all y’all waking up extra early tomorrow to get the turkey in the oven: haha, suckers. Field Roast wrapped in puff pastry and I are sleeping in.”

To which my friend Katy commented: “I’m picturing you spooning the field roast.”

I love you, Field Roast.

The PPK’s pecan pie

Last but not least: pecan pie perfection from the Post Punk Kitchen. I haven’t bought Vegan Pie in the Sky yet (hint hint, Mom) but Isa has never let me down before and she didn’t let me down this time — I was terrified of vegan pecan pie and put my faith in the right place.

It doesn’t have the gelatinous custardy layer of eggy pecan pie (which I do like), but had all of caramelly nutty flavor and received good marks all around. Plus, I don’t think I’ve ever seen David’s lactose-intolerant friend Devin more excited than when he realized that the vanilla ice cream to top it was Rice Dream.

Cheater’s pie tip (via Tofu Mom via Twitter): buy a premade crust (Wholly Wholesome’s is light and flaky), transfer it to your own pie plate (as I did), let it soften, and then work out the giveaway crimps (as I did not) — your guests will never know you didn’t make it.

Hope you all had a happy Turkeyless Day!

What I’m cooking for Thanksgiving

David and I are hosting a vegan Thanksgiving dinner for a few non-vegan (but veg tolerant) friends this year.

Here’s the menu:

There are a lot of delicious-sounding recipes out there. If you’re looking for gluten-free/soy free vegan Thanksgiving options, Ashley at Freshly Vegetarian curated a great list. VegWeb has more vegan Thanksgiving ideas, as does the New York Times. Really, just do a Google search and you’ll come up with tons of inspiration – it’s never been easier to serve a vegan Thanksgiving meal.

image by Tyler Love via Creative Commons

Vegan bon bons

Remember how in elementary school everyone got a valentine on Valentine’s Day?

You’d construct mailboxes out of paper or shoeboxes, and then at lunchtime on February 14 the whole class would deliver their little notes of friendship and love.

Most of your haul were probably the crappy commercial-type cards– characters from cartoons or popular movies, with some cheesy saying and the sender’s messy handwriting signifying who it was too or from.

Maybe you (or your mom) made even your own. I think I did that one year, and then never again– you know how many kids are in a California public grade school class? That’s a lot of doilies and glitter.

Things are a little different as an adult, but perhaps you still want to give your coworkers a little something special. Like I’ve said before, I’m not really into Valentine’s day from a romantic perspective, but it’s still fun to give people things.

Since you don’t want them to know you have no life, making everyone a homemade Valentine is not an option, and the “I love you beary much” and “take a walk with me” messages on the seemingly innocent little pieces of cardstock sold at the grocery store, while perhaps appropriate for the 3rd grade crowd, become a recipe for an employment lawsuit.

(Not to mention the discomfort associated with giving Awkward IT Guy a holographic gorilla proclaiming him to be a “wild animal”– yeah, that’s an actual Valentine I didn’t buy at Walgreens.)

The go-around is to make bon bons.

Okay, they do take a bit of effort, but it’s the acceptable kind– the sort of effort that involves chocolate and crumbled sandwich cookies.

Much better than corny cards from a box. (Though yeah, I did give some of those too.)

Vegan bon bons (From Food.com)
makes 20-25

  • 1 (1 lb) package Newman-Os
  • 8 ounces Tofutti Cream Cheese
  • 16 ounces chocolate
  1. Crush cookies in a food processor or a zip-lock bag. You’ll be tempted to eat a few. Don’t.
  2. Mix cream cheese in with crushed cookies.
  3. Roll into small balls and place on waxed paper on a cookie sheet; place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  4. Melt chocolate.
  5. Dunk balls in chocolate and place back on waxed paper. Allow to cool.
  6. Optional: melt a second flavor of chocolate (like vegan white chocolate, if you can get it) and drizzle over balls.

Vegan Hand Pies

Hand pies. So hot right now.

Some people are claiming they are the successor of the almighty cupcake. They’re single serving, portable, easy to bake in a variety of flavors (sweet and savory), and — most importantly — they’re cute.

Oh yeah– and tasty.

I could not be happier. My dad is a master pie baker, and though he definitely is not vegan, his pies are– he favors a shortening crust. I grew up with pies filled with the apricots from the tree in our yard.

If Dad has any leftover dough, he spreads it on a cookie sheet and sprinkles it with cinnamon and sugar like his mother used to– nothing goes to waste. This comes out of the oven all gold and flaky, sweet and spicy. It’s a treat in and of itself.

I was super pumped when a new pie shop opened in my neighborhood, and bummed to read that the shop prides itself on its all-butter crusts.

What’s a pie-lovin’ vegan girl to do?

Break out the rolling pin and get baking.

These are heart-shaped in honor of Valentine’s Day, but you can also use a round biscuit cutter to make crescent pockets, or just cut the dough into rectangles and fold them over.

Pie. Yessss.

Cherry Hand Pies (veganized from The Complete Book of Pies by Julie Hasson)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup cold Earth Balance, cut into small pieces
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • canned cherry pie filling
  1. Place flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl; mix thoroughly.
  2. With a pastry knife, cut in Earth Balance until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Add 6 tbs of the water and the apple cider vinegar; form a ball of dough, adding extra water if needed and handling as minimally as possible.
  4. Divide dough ball in two; wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Roll dough out onto a clean, floured surface.
  6. Cut out an even number of hearts. Place a spoonful of cherry pie filling on each one, cover with a second, and carefully crimp edges together, being sure that the filling does not spurt out. It’s probably a good idea to slash the top to let steam escape (I didn’t do this).
  7. Bake on a parchment-covered cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Vegan Valentine’s Day

If you’re looking for vegan ways to celebrate a mostly arbitrary holiday commemorating a Christian martyr for whom little information exists, do I have the blog post for you.

Here are my top 10 ways to create the perfect Seattle vegan Valentine’s Day.

1) I’m really not thaaat into Valentine’s day, but all cynicism aside, any excuse for chocolate is okay by me. Sjaak’s (aka, my favorite impulse buy ever) sells their cherry chocolates in a sweet little box. If you don’t have someone to buy ‘em for you… buy ‘em for yourself.

2) It’s not just oysters: arugala, avocado, ginger, garlic and many foods considered to be aphrodisiacs are vegan (though garlic might not be the best choice for a romantic evening). Cook up a feast!

3) Screw aphrodisiacs: nothing gets you in the mood like… booze. Peruse Barnivore to find a classy vegan wine or a tasty vegan beer. I’m currently into Pepperwood’s vino, though Our Daily Red is a perennial classic, and pretty much any Seattle microbrew is vegan and delicious.

4) Take a date to an upscale vegan restaurant– Plum is a good choice, though Sutra looks pretty cool too.

5) Who needs a man when you have a sandwich? If you’re by yourself (as I will be this year– David has class on Tuesdays), treat yourself to something even better than a lover: a Reubender at Highline. Pastrami + rye + sauerkraut + fake cheese = OMFG.

6) CAKE!!! Like vegan red velvet cake from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. Cupcakes with pink frosting are also good– you do have a copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, don’t you?

7) Vegan Etsy has curated some super-cute vegan V-day gift ideas (and there’s even more cute Vegan Etsy Stuff too.)

8 ) Say it with flowers! Local, sustainably grown and organic flowers from Terrabella.

9)Valentine’s Day’s coming? Aw crap! I forgot to get a girlfriend again!” If this quote from Futurama applies to you, check out Vegan Score’s dating service, Waterproof Match. (She has a post on Seattle vegan Valentine’s day ideas that’s much better than this one quite good).

10) Chill out, watch some TV with your favorite person (even if that person is just you), and realize that Valentine’s Day really isn’t worth the hype.

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