Thanksgiving 2016

We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We had a fairly typical Thanksgiving meal this year, with the centerpiece being a puff pastry vegetable pie layered with kale, butternut squash, and mushrooms. The puff pastry was a modified version of this Emeril recipe, using Earth Balance instead of butter. We also had roasted potatoes and beets (the 3-year-old loves beets), steamed green beans and cranberry sauce. Sometimes we do a more complex cranberry sauce recipe, adding other fruit or spices but this year we kept it super simple. It perplexes me why people buy cranberry sauce in a can because if you buy a package of fresh cranberries there’s usually a recipe right on the bag and it couldn’t be simpler: toss the fresh cranberries in a saucepan with water and sugar and simmer until the cranberries break down and start to thicken.

To wrap up the meal we had a pumpkin pie. Though it wasn’t actually made with pumpkin but rather with butternut squash. We had a huge volunteer butternut squash patch sprout from our garden this year and we still have quite a few of the squash stored in our basement. It’s fairly interchangeable with pumkin so keep that in mind next time you want to make pumpkin pie!

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Puff pastry vegetable pie with butternut squash, kale and mushrooms

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Roasted potatoes and beets

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Green beans and cranberry sauce

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A little bit of everything on the plate

"Pumpkin" pie (actually butternut squash) topped with So Delicious CocoWhip

“Pumpkin” pie (actually butternut squash) topped with So Delicious CocoWhip


Happy Easter!

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Given the holiday today it was a fine time to add Alicia Simpson’s Quick and Easy Vegan Celebrations to our 52 cookbooks list. We don’t use this book too often but we do open it up from time to time to get ideas for holiday meals. There are lengthy recipe collections for each major holiday and from the Easter chapter we made the Broccoli Frittata and Hidden Treasure Muffins (which are sweet potato and applesauce muffins made with whole grains). Either or both of these recipes would work equally well for breakfast or brunch but they made a fine dinner too.

To those who celebrate Easter we hope you had a wonderful holiday!

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Happy New Year 2016

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We hope everyone had a great holiday season and we wish you well for 2016. Yesterday we continued our tradition of having black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day. This year we had some friends over for New Year’s dinner so we made a lot of food. It was two years ago when we first made the Black-Eyed Pea and Collard tacos from Isa Does It, and again they were a great twist on our New Year’s Day tradition. We also made a variation of the Happy New Year Chili from Robin Robertson’s Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker. In addition to the black-eyed peas called for in the recipe we also added of collards and corn, so this chili was the embodiment of the phrase “peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and corn for gold”.

One fun idea we have for 2016 is to make at least one recipe from a different cookbook every week all year. Since there will likely be times we don’t keep up with this goal we’re starting with two cookbooks here. Some weeks we may miss and other weeks we may do more than one but by the end of the year we hope to have posted about 52 cookbooks. Check out the 52 cookbooks tag to see how we’re progressing!

Happy New Year!

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Christmas Dinner 2015

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For those of you who celebrate Christmas we hope you had a good one. For our Christmas dinner this year we turned to one of our favorite new cookbooks, Robin Robertson’s Vegan Without Borders. In a nod to our German and Austrian heritage we made Seitan Jagerschnitzel, or fried seitan cutlets in a creamy mushroom sauce. We also made the roasted brussels sprouts with walnuts from the same Eastern Europe section of the book. We rounded out the savory part of the plate with more roasted vegetables – root veggies in this case: golden beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, rutabaga and celery root. And finally we made cranberry relish, some version of which is pretty traditional for us on Thanksgiving and Christmas. This was a variation on a recipe we used at Thanksgiving from the Voluptuous Vegan cookbook and I’ll share my adapted recipe here:

Cranberry Apple Relish

What you need:

12 oz. fresh cranberries

1 medium apple, peeled, cored and diced

1/2 c. spiced apple cider

1/4 c. maple syrup

3 Tbs. golden raisins

What you do:

Combine all the ingredients in a non-reactive pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or until most of the cranberries have popped.

Happy Holidays!

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Thanksgiving 2015

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I’ve written this before but it bears repeating. Tradition is what you make it. Millions of people have turkey on Thanksgiving because it’s tradition. This was our 19th vegan Thanksgiving. This is our tradition. And we’re thankful we can have such a fabulous, flavorful meal without unnecessarily harming animals.

We generally have some sort of vegetable pie with puff pastry but we broke with that tradition this year and turned to one of the newest cookbooks in our collection, Street Vegan, and an older book from our collection, The Voluptuous Vegan. Street Vegan is packed with amazing recipes but many of them are rather involved so we hadn’t used it yet because so often we’re cooking meals that are simple and on the table quickly. Thanksgiving is a day to spend more time cooking so we decided to make the Hemp Seed and Rosemary Crusted Tofu with Tarragon Garlic Bread Pudding from Street Vegan. Rather than spelt bread as called for in the bread pudding recipe we used the Amaranth Studded Cornbread from The Voluptuous Vegan. Also from that same book we made the Sauteed Haricots Verts and Cranberry Relish with Apples and Pears. For the tofu and bread pudding we also made a mushroom gravy from the Oh She Glows cookbook. Despite the disparate sources it all came together nicely and was one of the best Thanksgiving meals we’ve made.

We also broke with tradition for dessert. Rather than our typical pumpkin pie or cheesecake we used our newly acquired donut pan and made these baked Maple Pumpkin Donuts with Spiced Glaze. The donut pan has been a big hit with the kids so far.

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We hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

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Happy New Year 2015

I don’t consider myself a Southerner but I’ve lived in Virginia long enough that I eat black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day. Last year was a nice twist on that tradition but this year was perhaps more straightforward. The black-eyed peas I cooked in our fancy schmancy new Instant Pot. They were cooked with onions, celery, carrots and garlic and seasoned with smoked paprika, cumin and oregano. I do like the pressure cooker because I put in dried black-eyed peas and they were done (a little over-done in fact) in 15 minutes of cooking time.

We didn’t do collard greens this year only because we had a big bunch of kale we needed to use up. That was simply cooked with garlic, salt, pepper and a little lemon juice. And we rounded out the meal with brown rice and cornbread. I just mentioned our go-to cornbread recipe and I experimented with this one a bit by using all whole spelt flour in place of the wheat flour (so it was wheat free though not necessarily gluten free since spelt has some gluten in it). It came out slightly more dense but still very good. We’ve been experimenting with using grains other than wheat and this was a nice change-up.

Happy New Year!

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Christmas Dinner

To those of you who celebrate Christmas, we hope it was a good one. We thought we’d share our Christmas menu to give you some ideas for future holidays.

  • Hazelnut crusted seitan
  • Apple-walnut stuffing
  • Mushroom gravy
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Roasted brussels sprouts
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Apple crumble

Speaking of ideas for the holidays, Alicia Simpson’s Vegan Celebrations is a good place to start and that’s where we found the Hazelnut Crusted Seitan recipe. It’s essentially just pan fried seitan with ground hazelnuts in the breading. And it was delicious. The newest cookbook in our collection is the Oh She Glows Cookbook and it was there we found the mushroom gravy and apple crumble recipes. We’re really looking forward to diving more into this book. For the stuffing, I usually make it up as I go but I should write down a formal recipe because it’s so good! The general process is described in our first ever Thanksgiving post. The sweet potatoes were just baked whole then whipped in a food processor with some Earth Balance, while the brussels sprouts were roasted with a little salt and olive oil.

Fresh cranberry sauce can’t even be remotely compared to what comes in a can and most of the time if you buy a bag of fresh cranberries there’s an acceptable recipe right on the bag. We’ve used other cranberry sauce recipes in the past but this year we used the recipe we found on the bag and it came out great. Finally, Angela’s “Mother Nature’s Apple Crumble” recipe is re-posted here. The main adjustment we made was using whole almonds that we finely chopped in the food processor because we didn’t have sliced almonds. I think I actually prefer it that way.

Happy Holidays!

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Happy New Year!

Though we’re not Southerners by heritage, we’ve been living in Virginia for 12 years and at some point during our time here we started honoring the tradition of eating black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day. If you’re not up on Southern food traditions, the black-eyed peas represent good luck and the greens represent wealth in the new year. We broke from tradition this year though in how we prepared our peas & greens. We got ourselves a copy of Isa Does It for Christmas and as soon as I saw the recipe for Black-Eyed Pea & Collard Tacos, I figured that would be a great twist on our New Year’s Day tradition. The apple-avocado salsa is a great accompaniment and we may well make these our new tradition. Here’s to a healthy and prosperous 2014!

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Christmas Dinner

We hope everyone is having a great holiday season! Thanks in large part to Darlene (aka Super Mom) we had a fabulous Christmas dinner yesterday. We spent a good bit more time cooking than we usually do but we made a lot of food. And the nice thing about that is we didn’t cook dinner tonight – there were plenty of leftovers.

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The main course was a simplified version of the Smothered Seitan with Mixed Mushroom Gravy from Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen. To go with that scrumptious creation we also made apple-sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, cranberry sauce and roasted sweet potatoes with bananas. There was so much food the sweet potatoes didn’t make it onto the plate and since we didn’t make anything for dessert they filled in quite nicely in place of dessert. The kid loved them too (and he also requested extra seitan).

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Everything was totally from scratch save for the store-bought bread we used for the stuffing and packaged vegetable broth for both the stuffing and gravy. Both of those items we would’ve liked to make from scratch (and do make from scratch regularly) but time was a little short.

The nice thing about having leftovers for dinner tonight was that we had time to make a proper dessert. Darlene used the Apple-Ginger pie recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance and turned it into more of an apple crisp. Yum!

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Thanksgiving 2013

This was our 17th vegan Thanksgiving so I don’t want to hear about how you have to eat turkey on Thanksgiving because it’s tradition. This is our tradition. More often than not in years past we’ve cooked a huge feast just for us but this year we were happy to have some friends join us for dinner. It was nice to have good company and nice to share the cooking. They brought a fabulous salad with roasted beets, mandarins and an orange vinaigrette, mac & “cheese” and an apple crisp. Since we had guests I didn’t spend a lot of time taking pictures but I did get a quick shot of the salad.

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We made a pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and the main course – a vegan wellington filled with apple-sage stuffing, greens, maple-glazed seitan and roasted butternut squash and topped with sage-walnut gravy. The wellington was something new this year but we regularly break out the puff pastry for holidays.

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I didn’t follow any particular recipe for the wellington but here’s a general idea on how it came together. First, make some puff pastry according to this recipe but substitute Earth Balance or other vegan margarine for the butter. Don’t worry about the cake flour either, just use regular all-purpose flour. Or do what I did and use about a third white whole wheat flour. (Hey, it’s got 3 sticks of Earth Balance but it’s got some whole grains so it’s healthy right?)

For the stuffing: I sauteed a little minced onion and diced apple in oil then added some day-old bread slices that I chopped up along with salt, pepper, fresh sage and thyme. Then I added vegetable stock until the consistency was to my liking.

For the greens: I sauteed kale with garlic and olive oil then added a little fresh thyme and lemon juice at the end.

For the seitan: Fry seitan cubes until brown then quickly mix in a tamari/maple syrup mixture at the end.

For the squash: Peel, seed and cube a butternut squash, then mix with olive oil and salt and roast until tender.

To put it together: Roll the puff pastry into a large rectangle, about 15″ x 20″. Spread the stuffing over about the middle half, top with the greens, then the seitan, then the squash. Brush some water onto one side of the puff pastry, fold the opposite side over the filling then close it up and seal it. Fold the ends on top then flip it over onto a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes.

It’s a fair bit of work, but well worth it for a holiday meal. Same goes for the pumpkin pie that Darlene made, mainly using the recipe in Vegan Pie in the Sky with an almond crust. The pie was amazing and had not just fresh pumpkin but sweet potatoes in it as well. And the crust was made with almonds and white whole wheat flour – again with the healthy whole grains!

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We love having Thanksgiving leftovers the next day too!

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