No Harm, No Fowl: Vegan Thanksgiving 2011!

Last year I was an omnivore, and the centerpiece of my Thanksgiving table was a giant turkey breast. It was roasted over fennel, and had a bacon lattice over the top. It was decadent for sure, and fattening for certain. Never again! Bring on my all-vegan Thanksgiving, which was even better than last year: just as delicious, no one died, and it isn’t killing us from the inside, either.

Bacon Wrapped Torkey, from the Happy Herbivore. (Just assume when I say “bacon” it’s fake-bacon.)

Root Veggie Mash (potato, turnip and rutabaga), my idea!

Polenta Stuffing from Appetite for Reduction.

Honey Wheat Rolls (more hardcore vegans than me can use brown sugar rather than honey. Also, sub out the butter for applesauce! You’re welcome!) from November’s Vegetarian Times.

Everything together, including Cranberry Sauce, Green Beans with Almonds, Bacon, and Garlic, and Mushroom Gravy all over that mash!

Pumpkin Cheesecake from Happy Herbivore. I even made the pumpkin myself! And I topped it with a cream sauce made from 1/4 cup cashews, 2 tsp maple syrup, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of rice milk. My husband took one bite of this and announced it to be “perfect.” It really was the best pumpkin dessert I’ve ever had, and I can’t believe it’s not terrible for you. Because it is just as amazing as any full-fat counterpart. Beautiful!

This year I’m so thankful for my family, friends, and of course, the decision we made to eat a plant-based diet. It’s given us back our health, and brought me happiness in so many different ways. Not only did I lose weight (and my husband, did, too) but we’re doing something great for our long-term health, for animals, and for the environment.

I know that this is just the beginning of the adventure, and I’m so excited for what next year will bring. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Even More E2: Portobello Fajitas

I’ve always been nervous about portobello anything, which is weird, really. Because I love mushrooms, really and truly love them. But replacing any meat with giant mushrooms just seemed–sad. Let the mushrooms be mushrooms!

That being said: I was wrong. Let the mushrooms be fajitas! Because this recipe from the Engine 2 Diet was so amazingly good. I will say this: I think it should only be attempted in a cast iron skillet. I’ve never had fajitas turn out this good. They were practically restaurant quality, but with only sprayed-on oil and no seasonings. None. Not even salt.

I made their sour cream sauce (using cilantro and lemon juice) and it was fairly standard. I also added rice and beans on the side, just to make for a little extra protein. And, of course, I threw in some avocado. BONUS! I finally found the Ezekiel 4:9 tortillas! I love those things. I’ve been eating Ezekiel bread exclusively for sometime now, but I was having a really hard time locating any of their other products. The problem? I was looking in the wrong part of the grocery store. Uh…yeah. Smart.

Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Buns

Oh the flavors of fall. When cans of pumpkin are everywhere, begging to be used in inventive ways. Like these sticky buns! With lots of pumpkin in the dough, you get the great orange color and a hint of pumpkin flavor. For an even pumpkin-ier experience, I’d smooth 2 tablespoons of pumpkin over the rolled out dough before sprinkling on the brown sugar and cinnamon.

Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Buns (makes 12):

  • 1 cup unmilk
  • 2&1/4 tsp active yeast (or one packet)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 T + 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 5 T pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown rice syrup
  • 1/3 cup pecan pieces
  • 1/8 tsp allspice

Heat the unmilk until it reaches 110 degrees, and mix with active yeast. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes until the yeast is bubbly. Stir in pumpkin.

Place 3 cups of flour in bowl, and mix with sugar, 1 T cinnamon and salt. Add your milk and pumpkin mixture, and stir until a soft dough begins to form. If the dough is not coming together at all, add more unmilk, one tablespoon at a time, until dough is soft and slightly sticky. Knead dough for 5 to 10 minutes on clean surface until it is smoother and more elastic.

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a warm towel. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Then punch the dough down a little and roll out into a large rectangle (about 10×14). Sprinkle with the brown sugar and 1 T cinnamon. Roll tightly and cut 1 inch off of each end (side note: I usually save these, cut them really small, and then bake in the toaster oven for my toddler to eat. They have less sugar and are a nice size). Now cut into 12 one-inch circles.

Use cooking spray to grease a  round cake pan, pie pan, or an appropriate-sized casserole dish. Place pecan pieces evenly in the bottom, and put your rolls on top. Mix the remaining 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, allspice, brown rice syrup and maple syrup in a microwaveable container. Heat in microwave for 20 seconds, and then pour mixture over the cinnamon rolls.

Let rise in a warm place for 20 more minutes. Then, place sticky buns in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until they are golden and cooked in the center. For presentation you can flip the baking dish over onto a large plate, or if you are lazy (like me) just pull out a sticky bun and spoon the maple-pecan glaze over the top.

Black Bean Salsa Dip

I was trying to make a sort of black bean hummus with this recipe, but failed to realize that the liquid-to-bean ratio would make it distinctly wetter than hummus. No worries! It tastes great, is essentially fat-free, and is easily scoop-able on a chip.

Black Bean Salsa Dip (makes…3 cups? I forgot to measure and I ate a ton of it):

  • 1 15-oz. can of black beans (or two cups of cooked beans)
  • 2 T onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium-sized tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 T cilantro
  • 1  jalapeño
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar

Add all ingredients to your food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Enjoy!

 

Roasted Tomato Tortilla Soup

I didn’t come up with this soup in a vacuum. It’s really a crazy mash-up of two different tortilla soups that I really like, one from the Happy Herbivore, and the other from Appetite for Reduction. I just took the two easiest parts of each recipe and put them together into one terrific soup!

Roasted Tomato Tortilla Soup (makes 4 large servings, or 6 small servings):

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1&1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 plus 1 cup veggie broth (keep a little more on hand if you need to thin your soup)
  • 1 28oz. can fire roasted whole tomatoes
  • 1 4oz. can green chilies
  • 2 tsp liquid aminos
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • 2 tsp hot sauce (I like Tapatio here)
  • 1 cup pinto beans
  • 1 cup crumbled baked corn chips
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • cilantro to garnish

Place a medium-sized sauce pot over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup veggie broth and onions. Cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and spices, stirring to coat. Now, douse with the rest of the veggie broth, the juice from the tomatoes, the green chilies, liquid aminos, agave nectar and tomato paste. Squeeze each of the tomatoes in your hand, then add to the soup. Lower to a simmer, and you can cook the soup for almost any length of time–I’d recommend at least 20 minutes.

Pour the soup into your food processor or blender when you are ready and pulse until combined. The soup will be HOT so take pains (ha) not to burn yourself. Return it to the pot, and add the corn chips, pinto beans, corn and hot sauce. Once they are nice and warm, the soup is ready to serve. Garnish with cilantro.

Chocolate Banana Walnut Oatmeal Cookies!

Have you ever had Laura’s Wholesome Junk Food? I love that stuff, but especially the banana chocolate cookie version. If you followed that link, you’d know my sadness–they no longer make it! And while I don’t think these cookies quite live up to Laura’s yet, they are really easy to make, and cost a lot less than $5.99 a batch!

Chocolate Banana Walnut Oatmeal Cookies (makes 13 cookies–a baker’s dozen!):

  • 1 really ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 T applesauce
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 T ground flaxseed meal
  • 3 T unmilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces

Mix the applesauce, sugar, syrup, flaxseed, unmilk and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl. There will probably be a few banana lumps–don’t worry about them, as long as they aren’t huge. Now, add the oats, flour, cinnamon and baking powder to the bowl, and mix until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts until evenly incorporated.

Drop cookies onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. It’s important to slide them off of the cookie sheet and onto a baking rack when done, so the bottoms don’t steam and get super soft. Let them cool fully before eating, or they will turn into a gooey blob in your hand. Yummy!

 

 

 

E2 Week: BBQ Pizza

I will say that someone thinking they want to try the Engine 2 Diet should carefully examine if they like bell peppers. Because I’m pretty sure bell peppers figure into every single meal, in varying amounts. I’m not super fond of them myself, but on this pizza they were fantastic. I think the trick is to make those really fine slices, so the flavor isn’t so intense.

I learned two things from making this pizza: 1) mixing tomato paste with BBQ sauce makes the best pizza sauce EVER. EVER. I think I’m going to make all of my pizza sauces tomato paste based. 2) You can totally make pizza crust out of sweet potatoes. That’s right, sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potato Pizza Crust (enough for 1 large pizza):

  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 4 T applesauce
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 T unmilk

Mix all of the wet ingredient except the unmilk in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Then, add the salt, baking powder, flour and cornmeal, and stir until barely combined. Now, douse it with the unmilk, adding more if it seems too dry.

This is the trickier part–getting it spread out into dough. I’m still not sure my technique is awesome, but here’s what I did: I put a sheet of parchment paper over my pizza pan (you can use a cookie sheet, don’t worry), plopped the dough in the middle, then placed another sheet of parchment paper over that. Then, using my hands, I spread the dough around until it was flat and reached the edges of my pan. However, this did result in some areas being not as thick as others. I think in the future I’ll strategically place the dough so that I can get a more uniform crust. Also, if you can, flip it over. The bottom parchment was very wrinkly, where the top was smooth. So–smooth out both sides.

Then, parbake the crust in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. It shouldn’t be all the way cooked, but should peel easily off of the parchment when finished.Here was my mistake number 2: I think I should have greased the pan, and peeled off both sheets of parchment before putting the toppings on. I left the bottom sheet of parchment paper on, and the crust came out slightly damp, and not as firm on the bottom as I would have liked. Either that, or I could have placed the crust on the bottom of the oven (in the pan, of course) like Vegan with a Vengeance recommends. So, that part is up to you.

The best part is that you end up with a very healthy crust with no added oil, but with some delicious fat from the flax seeds. And it tasted perfect with the BBQ sauce topping. I might use something like actual potato if I didn’t want a sweet crust for my pizza, or even a rutabaga. I’ll let you know about those experiments as they progress!