Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays! Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you had a nice, relaxing day yesterday. I think this Christmas might go down as one of the laziest for us. We went out with my family on Christmas Eve for bowling and dinner, followed by gifts. That left Christmas day for just the two of us. My husband and I typically do a movie and Chinese food out, but this year we stayed home and watched “Indiana Jones” movies (my gift to him) all day in our pajamas and ordered Chinese takeout. It was fabulous.

This year, we decided to keep gifts to a minimum because we’re taking a big trip in February and need to keep a strict budget, but my husband still came up with a great gift for me. I’ve had my eye on this vintage soup and sandwich dish set for about a year now. I was so excited to see it when I ripped open the wrapping paper. I can’t wait to serve up a warm cup of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich on it.

Vintage Soup and Sandwich Dish Set

I hope you all are well. I’m very fortunate to be off the next few days, so I plan on cooking up some new recipes. I’ll post soon.

Please Stand By and a Little Holiday Music While You’re Waiting

Hey there! I apologize for the lack of posts. The holidays are keeping me busy and I haven’t had a lot of time for cooking and blogging about it. However, I am off all next week and one of my goals is to try a few new recipes. I will definitely post on them as soon as I can. I hope you all are well and are having a wonderful holiday season. Here’s a little Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass to put you in the holiday mood:

Vegan Food Happenings — Holiday Edition

Happy holidays! This season is flying by, isn’t it?

We’ve had a pretty low-key holiday season, which is fine by me. It’s been very low-key in the kitchen, too. We had grand plans of making an elaborate meal for Christmas Eve, but decided at the last minute to keep it very simple, which was nice. Here’s a quick breakdown of just a few of the dishes (mostly sweets) I made over the past week or so.

Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles (from “Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar“)

These cookies have become a favorite in our household. They have a wonderful rich chocolate flavor, a crunchy outside texture and a chewy middle. A pinch of cayenne adds a touch of heat that is a nice surprise.

Caramel Pecan Bars (also from “Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar”)

These bars are really easy to make and taste just like their pie cousin. So good.

Monkey Bread (from “Sweet Vegan“)

If Paula Deen were vegan, this would be her go-to recipe. You add butter to the dough, then you dunk each dough ball into melted butter and then you pour more melted butter on top once you’ve formed them in the pan. This was the first time I’ve made this recipe and I have to admit, I found the directions hard to follow, which I’ve also found to be true for a few other recipes I’ve made from this book. But despite my frustration with the recipe, it turned out beautifully and was delicious. It was the perfect breakfast for Christmas morning.

Great Smokey Mountain Cheeze (from “Vegan Diner“)

This spreadable cheese was so easy to make and was really, really good. The smoked paprika gave it a wonderful flavor that matched up really well with the sliced apple. I’ll definitely be making this again for a game night snack or for a light lunch of fruit and crackers.

Well, that’s all I have for now. I’m planning to make a few new dishes this week while I’m on vacation, so I will post those soon. I’m also planning to make a vegan brunch on New Year’s Day, and I’ll post that, too.

I hope everyone is well!

Vegan Thanksgiving 2.0

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving, everyone!

Well, we pulled off our second all-vegan Thanksgiving and, I have to say, I’m pleased with the results. A few weeks back, I had mentioned that I was going to make a spread featured in an issue of Vegetarian Times, but, true to form, I ended up changing my mind. It was mostly because it was going to be really expensive to make.

So, this year, we decided to veganize very traditional dishes, some of which I made last year, but I was able to improve upon this year. Here’s a breakdown of the dishes you see on the table:

Cumin-Cayenne Mashed Potatoes with Caramelized Onions

These mashed potatoes were taken from the Vegetarian Times spread I originally wanted to make. They aren’t the prettiest mashed potatoes (they look a lot different than the picture in the magazine), but they were tasty. The cumin and cayenne added a nice kick to the buttery Yukon Gold potatoes.

Green Bean Casserole

This is my take on the traditional green bean casserole. I first sautéd the onions and garlic in olive oil and a little Earth Balance. I then added the mushrooms and a little vegetable stock to deglaze the pan. After everything was browned and caramelized, I removed them from the pan so that I could create the cream base. I started by making a roux. To do this, I melted more Earth Balance in the pan and added flour. I then added the cream.

This year, I thought I’d try a new (to me) product, Unsweetened MimicCreme. My only complaint was that, out of the container, it had a very sweet, almost marshmallow-like smell despite being unsweetened. It made me a little nervous, but once I incorporated it into the roux and the sautéd onions and mushrooms, it took on a much more savory aroma. I’ll definitely be using this again for anything that calls for heavy cream.

Once I had the mushroom cream base, I added frozen haricot verts and warmed them a bit in the pan. I then added some of the fried onions to the green beans and then transferred the entire mixture to a casserole dish. I baked uncovered for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees and then topped it with the rest of the fried onions. I put it back into the oven to bake for another 10 minutes.

Sage and Apple Stuffing

My stuffing last year wasn’t all that great, so I wanted to make up for it this year — and I think I succeeded. I used a little help by picking up a couple of packages of vegan stuffing from Whole Foods that already contained some seasoning.

I started by sautéing onions, celery and carrots in olive oil. I then added a clove of garlic and cooked the mixture a bit longer. After that, I added two Honeycrisp apples, chopped into small cubes. After sautéing a little longer, I added the stuffing mix, a couple of teaspoons of sage, and salt and pepper. From there, I started ladling in the vegetable stock until it was at the desired consistency. I then scooped it all into a buttered casserole dish and baked it alongside the Greenbean Casserole.

Sweet Potato Balls with Caramel Sauce (sauce not shown)

It would not be Thanksgiving in my family without this decadent sweet potato dish. My mom makes these every year. My husband doesn’t quite understand my family’s obsession with them, but he’s just weird. How can you not like mashed sweet potatoes wrapped around a marshmallow, rolled in crushed corn flakes, then baked until the marshmallow melts and topped with a rich caramel sauce? It’s like dessert for dinner. Does it get any better than that?

But, needless to say, the original version of these little beauties is not vegan. So, for a Thanksgiving potluck with friends last year, I set out to make them my own. Last year’s effort turned out well, but I made a few tweaks to make them even better this year. For example, I opted to make them a little smaller and I made sure to stick with Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, instead of the Whole Food’s brand I used last year. The Kellogg’s Corn Flakes are lighter and make for a crispier coating.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

3 lbs sweet potatoes
3 tsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
4 tbsp water
1 tbsp almond or soy milk
3 cups crushed Kellogg’s Corn Flakes
Dandies Vegan Marshmallows
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup Unsweetened MimicCreme
1 tsp flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Peel and chop sweet potatoes into even cubes. Boil until soft. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the egg replacer and water until frothy. Mash the cooked sweet potatoes with a potato masher and then add the egg replacer/water mixture and the milk to the potatoes.

Take two marshmallows and mash them together so that they stick together. Form the mashed sweet potatoes around the marshmallows, then roll in the crushed corn flakes. Place into a lightly greased pan. Repeat until all the mashed sweet potatoes are gone. I made my balls a little larger than a golf ball and I was able to get exactly 15 of them out of the recipe. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until you see the marshmallow oozing out.

To make the sauce, simply combine the brown sugar, MimicCreme, flour and vanilla into a saucepan and whisk over medium heat until combined and the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Spoon the sauce over the sweet potato balls. Try not to eat too many in one sitting. I dare you.

In addition to the recipes above, we included a Field Roast Celebration Roast. I also made a delicious brown gravy recipe that I got from “Vegan Diner.”

And what Thanksgiving feast would be complete without the cranberry sauce? I like my cranberry sauce the old-school way: out of a can. I’m not sure if the canned kind normally contains gelatin, but the Whole Foods brand does not.

And now for the best part: dessert.

Pumpkin Cheesecake With Pecan Crunch Topping

This is the second recipe I’ve made from “Vegan Pie In The Sky” and it did not disappoint. The cheesecake was really, really easy to make and turned out beautifully. Oh, and it was delicious! Each bite brought hints of pumpkin, banana and a touch of orange from the extract. The pecan crunch topping added the perfect flavor and texture to the cheesecake. I cannot recommend this dessert enough.

So, that wraps up our vegan Thanksgiving. It turned out really well and we have tons of leftovers, which is my favorite part.

If I can offer any tips, it would be to make the cheesecake the night before. Thanksgiving day, make the greenbean casserole, stuffing and sweet potato balls first and don’t bake them until close to the end. Make the gravy and caramel sauce next. Finally, while the potatoes are boiling for the mashed potatoes, go ahead and put the greenbean casserole and stuffing into the oven. After about 20 minutes, put the sweet potato balls into the oven too. And, if you can fit them, throw in the Celebration Roast (I put mine in a dish with vegetable stock to keep it moist) and the rolls last.

Enjoy!