Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Simple. Easy. Delicious. Oven Roasted Asparagus

One of my favorite ways to prepare veggies is to roast them! You can roast pretty much any veggie and have it turn out delicious I think, plus it’s super easy! One of my very favorite roasted veggies is asparagus. I usually make roasted asparagus for Christmas dinner, but it’s great any time of the year!

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch Asparagus
  • 4 Tablespoons (up To 5 Tablespoons) Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F
  2. After you wash the asparagus thoroughly, stack a bunch together and chop off the tough bottoms.
  3. Spread out the asparagus in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Pat it as dry as you can.
  4. Drizzle olive oil all over the asparagus and then sprinkle the asparagus with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Roast the asparagus for about ten minutes. You want the finished asparagus to still have a bite to it.

Simple. Easy. Delicious.

What’s your favorite way to prepare veggies? What’s your favorite roasted veggie?

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Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

After a busy week of cooking for Thanksgiving dinner and running the Turkey Trot 5K on Thursday morning, I headed to Rochester on Friday with the kids to visit my mom and brothers. My mom and younger brother both live in Rochester and my older brother was visiting from New Jersey. Thankfully, it’s only a few hours drive from our house to my mom’s (Mormor she’s called by the kids) and we arrived in the early afternoon.

My kids always want to do as much as possible when we visit Mormor and they chose Barnes & Noble as the place they wanted to go on Friday. We all piled into my van (Mormor insists it’s a bus) and headed to Pittsford. Once we arrived, my brother went off to the Health & Wellness section, my mother to look at books about dogs, my 13 year old daughter headed for the young adult section, I wanted to check out some vegan cookbooks, but the younger two wanted to go to the kids’ section to play with Lego’s and the stage.

We headed back to Mormor’s house and had Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner. Then my older brother got the kids all wound up before bed. Thanks Uncle Fred!

Saturday morning I headed to Trader Joe’s and Wegmans by myself. Yes, I like to go to the grocery store and browse, it is relaxing for me. I had never been to a TJ’s and one recently opened up in Pittsford Plaza so that’s where I went first. I found a few items that I purchased, I will share those in another post after I’ve had a chance to test them out. I went over to Wegmans next. I only grabbed a few items this time around since I had just done a big Wegmans grocery shop last week. I found pastry flour which I had searched everywhere for to make my pie crusts! I am now the proud owner of a 6.5 pound bag of Bob’s Red Mill Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. I also found some Go Max Go Candy bars and stocked up on those. I needed to feed my kids lunch so I headed to the Fresh Foods Bar at Wegmans. There’s something for everyone! For my teen girl I grabbed a package of Shrimp California Rolls (the girl loves sushi!), my boy got six chicken wings, and the little girl some macaroni and cheese. Couldn’t forget about my big brother who was so graciously watching the kids for me so I could get my Wegmans fix! I got him some sesame chicken and lo mein noodles. For myself, I heaped a box full of a little bit of each hot food item marked “vegan”; shredded Brussel Sprouts, roasted butternut squash, chickpeas with kale and tomato sauce, kale sauteed in garlic, and pumpkin curry tofu.

After lunch the brother and I took the kids to Bounce-it-Out. The age limit was 10, but my teen girl played with the younger kids anyways. We spent about 2 hours there and the kids had a blast! (sorry about the lighting!)

I had a gift card for Starbucks so on the way back to Mormor’s house I stopped to grab a Pumpkin Latte (with soy, no whip) for myself, chai tea for the two younger kids and a hot chocolate for the teen girl.

Once back at Mormor’s my little girl headed out to the park with my mom and her dog, Pedro, for his afternoon walk. Then it was off to my little brother and his girlfriend’s house to meet Chablis. My brother and his girl have rescued and adopted three exotic birds. The most recent addition is a Moluccan named Chablis. She is about 14 years old and was rescued due to severe neglect. She became so depressed and desperate for attention that she has ripped out a lot of her feathers and chewed on her chest. Although she is safe and loved now, her feathers won’t grow back and she has a permanent scab on her belly. Have you ever heard a Moluccan bird laugh? Oh my goodness. Chablis was in a great mood and just laughed and laughed the entire time we were visiting.

Sunday it was time to head home, the time my kids always dread and fight to the end! We stopped at Chipotle on the way out of town, I’ve never been and spotted the restaurant on my trip to TJ’s and Wegmans the day before. Mexican is always a good choice since all my kids love tacos and quesadillas! I got a vegetarian burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, lettuce and corn salsa. Yummy and very filling. My boy had two crispy steak tacos, my little girl a soft chicken taco, and my teen had a fiesta burrito bowl. After we finished up with lunch, it was time to head home.

How did you spend your weekend? Did you travel to visit friends and family?

My First Vegan Thanksgiving + Menu

Thanksgiving has been my very favorite holiday for a very long time. I became a vegan in May 2012 and hadn’t really thought much about the holidays until around October. I began to panic and feel anxious about staying true to my new vegan lifestyle. Should I make an exception for Thanksgiving? Would that mean another exception at Christmas? Maybe I could eat vegetarian during the holidays, it’s much easier to avoid meat and still eat eggs, dairy, cheese, etc. But that didn’t feel right to me. I know when I’ve accidentally eaten something with dairy or eggs or cheese in it over the past few months that I’ve felt not only guilty, but have had, shall we say, some physical side effects as well.

Lucky for me, around the time I began to question what I should do, a couple of my favorite bloggers addressed this exact issue! I read a lot of great articles including one on how to navigate the holidays as a vegan and how to enjoy a vegan Thanksgiving. I began to feel less stressed about how to enjoy my favorite holiday and still follow my plant-based diet.

Plus, I have had six months to learn about eating plant-based and making mistakes along the way. I’ve had the chance to cook with new ingredients, learn how to read labels, and explore the vast variety of options that seem to become suddenly available once you follow a vegan diet. (I’ve found the learning curve to be long and steep!) Another factor working in my favor was that for the past few years, I’ve made Thanksgiving dinner. This would make it much easier for me to follow my vegan diet since I will be in control of the ingredients in every dish served for dinner. Now my family is still all omnivores, so there will be a turkey on the table. I have no plans on eating any of it, I will be stuffing my face with all the delicious sides I am preparing. I took my traditional Thanksgiving menu (have I mentioned I’m a tad OCD about things? I keep a folder with all my Thanksgiving recipes) and vegan-ized them all.

Here’s my final menu:

Many of these recipes I’ve been making for years and had to tweak a few things to make them 100% plant-based/vegan.

My Thanksgiving dinner preparation began over the weekend. First I do an inventory of what ingredients I have in my fridge, freezer, and cupboards. Then I make a grocery list and head to the store for any needed items.

Monday I chopped all my veggies, put them in containers and into the fridge.

Tuesday I made cornbread for the stuffing, brine for the turkey (which will then hang out in the brine until Thursday morning), and 2 pie crusts.

Wednesday I will make the garlic mashed potatoes, these will then simply need to be heated up in the oven on Thanksgiving. I will also make the sweet potato casserole, minus the topping which will be made and sprinkled on the casserole on Thursday and then into the oven! I will be making both pies (apple and pumpkin) on Wednesday as well. I think pie tastes better the next day. I may make some coconut whip cream for the pies on Thursday, haven’t decided yet. I will also be making my cranberry-pomegranate sauce and dicing up the cornbread and a loaf of French bread to dry and make croutons for my cornbread stuffing.

Thursday it will all (hopefully!) come together. I will cook the turkey, make the mushroom gravy, make the rolls, green bean and the corn casseroles. I will finish the sweet potato casserole and warm up the mashed potatoes.

As of this writing I haven’t decided yet if I am going to run the Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving morning or not, I will let you know if I do.

What’s on your Thanksgiving menu? How long have you eaten a vegan/plant-based diet? Do you do the cooking to ensure it’s vegan-friendly or do you eat what someone else has made and not worry if there’s animal products in it? Let me know!

Edited to add: I did end up running the Turkey Trot 5K, will post my results as soon as they are available on line.

Cranberry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I’ve been baking a lot lately, using my favorite fall ingredients; pumpkins and cranberries. So far I’ve made orange-cranberry-walnut muffins from The PPK and my bread last weekend. I had just over a cup of fresh cranberries left in the fridge and knew I wanted to make cookies, so I went on a search for a recipe. I found a recipe over on Coconut and Lime that looked promising. The original recipe was not veg*an or gluten-free, but I’ve learned to trust my “kitchen intuition” and knew that I could easily vegan-ize the recipe. The combination of tart cranberries and sweet chocolate chips is absolutely wonderful!

Adapted from Coconut & Lime

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
3/4 cup Sucanat
3/4 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats (use gluten-free for that option)
1/4 cup semisweet mini chips (I use Enjoy Life Mini-chips, these are gluten & dairy free)
4 tablespoons Earth Balance, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 flax egg (1 tbsp. ground flax + 3 tbsps. warm water, mixed)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream together the Earth Balance, vanilla and Sucanat, using a hand mixer. Add the flax egg, beat until fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, and oats. Mix until well combined. Fold in cranberries and chips. Drop by tablespoon onto cookie sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes until they  the bottoms are just brown. Carefully, remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: about 2 dozen cookies

What’s your favorite kind of cookie?

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

I love cranberries, fresh or dried, they’re both delicious! I found a recipe for Orange Cranberry Muffins over at The Post Punk Kitchen in the spring. These are my very favorite kind of muffins. I used to be able to buy an orange cranberry mega-muffin with turbinado sugar on top at my local Tops grocery store. Then they stopped making them! <gasp> The horror! I asked the bakery why they longer carried this delicious muffin and was informed that it wasn’t very popular so they stopped baking it.

So obviously when I found the recipe on the PPK, I felt a need to make these muffins immediately! But the recipe calls for fresh cranberries which apparently stores don’t carry in the spring! So I searched for frozen cranberries, which again, the grocery store doesn’t carry! It’s a “seasonal” item I was told. <sigh> The muffins had to wait until cranberries returned to the grocery store.

Well, the cranberries have returned to the stores! I bought a bag to freeze and a bag to use for baking and cooking. (I make an awesome cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, make sure to stop back for the recipe!) I made a batch of the orange cranberry muffins and I can honestly say they were worth the wait! Oh my yumminess!

After making a batch of muffins I still had half a bag of cranberries left, so I searched the internet for other baked goods using fresh cranberries. Sure, I could have chosen to make an orange cranberry bread but that was too much like the muffins, so I kept searching. Then I stumbled upon this recipe. A Pumpkin Cranberry Bread. Pumpkin is also “seasonal” around here and I’ve been stock piling cans in my pantry! It was perfect. I love pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin anything!

The original recipe from epicurious is not vegan, but easily veganized by using flax eggs instead of chicken eggs. I also decided to lower the fat content by using applesauce instead of the 1/4 cup oil the original recipe called for.

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

Adapted from recipe on epicurious

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (I used Libby’s, make sure it’s not pumpkin pie filing!)
  • 1 cup sugar (I used Florida Crystals, they’re vegan approved!)
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flax + 6 tbsp warm water, mix together in small cup and let stand)
  • 1/4 water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed & picked over

Using a hand blender, beat together pumpkin, flax eggs, sugar, water, and applesauce.
Sift in flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and spices until smooth.
Fold in fresh cranberries.

Pour into greased loaf pan (I use Baker’s Joy spray) and bake at 350°F for 1 hour, 15 min.
Remove from oven and place loaf pan on cookie rack for 10 min. Then gently take bread out of pan and allow to cool completely on cookie rack.

This would make a great addition to your Thanksgiving meal. Or eat a slice with some Earth Balance for breakfast. Or as dessert.

What’s your favorite kind of muffin or bread?