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!

Homemade Wontons!

Shockingly easy to make, and insanely good. I had no idea making your own wonton wrappers wasn’t very hard–though it is a little time consuming. I searched through three grocery stores to find vegan versions–but every single one had egg. And I think these ended up being a little more like gyoza, I loved them. LOVED.

The recipe for the filling and sauce comes from…you guessed it…the October issue of Vegetarian Times. Sambal Oelek, baby! If you’re making this at home, feel free to cut the amount of soy sauce way, way down. I only used 1 T in the filling, and 1 T in the sauce. I replaced the rest of it with veggie broth, and it was freaking delicious.

Weird side note, two days after I made these, we went out to eat at a fancy asian restaurant that has lots of vegan options. When their pot stickers came out–guess what? They tasted almost exactly like this recipe!

Noodles & Veg

Ah, Vegetarian Times. Some months, there is nothing to cook in there at all. And the other months–a beautiful extravaganza of vegan delights. This month they are totally on their game. This is the first of a few meals I’ve made from the October 2011 issue, and they have all been terrific.

This picture is horrible, though, right? This is the best one! I took about a million pictures, and this one was the only one that wasn’t blurry. ARGH! I think my problem is that the Vegetarian Times dinners are SO much more work, I’ve barely had time to do all the dishes afterwards before crawling into bed.

Anyhow, I believe this one is called “Vegetables and Noodles with Sesame Dressing.” That isn’t the sexiest name for a recipe that I’ve ever seen, but it gets the job done. I would say my only real complaint here is the steamed tofu–why on earth would anyone want to eat just plain steamed tofu. Is there anything less flavorful in the whole world? Even when you put the sauce (which is amazing) on it, it doesn’t help much. I’d recommend marinating it in a little bit of sauce and then dry frying it for some added awesome.

 

Enchiladas!

Mmm…Happy Herbivore’s Smoky Black Bean Enchiladas. My photo does not look a THING like hers from the cookbook–my enchiladas are always a messy, messy affair, with ripped tortillas and gooey filling and melty sauce and cheese. These were no exception, and were totally, totally rockin’. I don’t say “rockin'” very often, but I think it fits here.

Can I just say I was totally skeptical about the chocolate in the sauce? Yeah. I didn’t believe, but now I do. When I smelled the distinct, accurate scent of enchiladas wafting from the oven, I knew she was right. And the smoky tofu black bean filling! It required 2 tsp of smoke flavoring, which scared me. Two whole teaspoons? I think I put in maybe one and a half, and I should have gone the whole way. Or added a little smoked paprika, too, that would be an awesome touch.

This dinner was also made possible by Trader Joe’s, who now has two stores in the Kansas City area. Bless them. They have totally superior and cheap products, and I have driven out there not once this week–but three times. THREE TIMES. In a week. That’s like 6 hours of transit time for a little Trader Joe’s fix. But I missed them so much! When I lived in San Diego, they were just down the street. I took them for granted. No longer!

So, yeah, Trader Joe’s organic sprouted tofu is my new favorite tofu. It smells amazing raw, which I do not normally think about tofu. At all. And great corn tortillas, since making my own is sort of a pain in the butt. If I talk any more about them, I’ll want to drive out there again. Must…stop…reaching…for the keys…

No-Huevos Rancheros

The saddest part is that this is the best picture I took. This dish is amazingly delicious, and yet I could only take the most horrendous pictures of it. Poor Huevos Rancheros. Look at you: homemade salsa, homemade corn tortillas, tofu scramble, veggie refried beans, cajun potatoes, avocado and a little bit of lime. Does it get any better than that?

I would love to make this again. However, it’s what’s known as a “kitchen destroyer” in that it takes up literally every mixing bowl and pot and pan that I have. And the food processor. Good grief! This dish has about as many elements as a Thanksgiving dinner. I think the best idea is to eat it when you have leftover salsa, leftover tortillas, and then you just have to make the scramble, beans, and potatoes. Do you see what I mean? That’s still a lot of work.

Happy Herbivore says she likes to make this when nursing a hangover. How could anyone have the stamina to make this while hungover?

 

 

Lazy Lasagna

This dish has many names and many forms: Spaghetti Casserole, Spaghetti Bake, Noodle Pie, etc. But I like to think of it as Lazy Lasagna, because it tastes a lot like lasagna, but you don’t have to fight with those huge crazy noodles. Or worry about layer after layer of application. It’s just a couple simple steps, a lot of dirty dishes, and then you’ve got 8 servings of heaven!

Lazy Lasagna (serves 8):

  • 8oz (dry) spaghetti noodles
  • 14 oz block of firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 T dehydrated onion
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh italian parsley
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup unmilk
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 head cauliflower (or about 2 cups), cut into florets
  • 1 recipe of Mushroom Marinara sauce
  • 1/3 cup shredded vegan mozzarella cheese (optional)

For the filling:

First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Put the cauliflower on a cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray. Roast until tender. Now, start a large pot of water boiling on high. Cook your pasta according to directions, drain, and set aside. In your food processor, combine tofu, nutritional yeast, spices, onion, lemon juice and 1/4 cup unmilk. Blend until creamy. If your processor is on the large side, just add the cooled cauliflower to this mix, with the fresh basil and parsley. (If it’s small, pour out the tofu mixture and add in the cauliflower. You can blend them together by hand after pureeing everything.) Add unmilk in small doses if cauliflower/tofu seems really dry. You’re looking to get the texture of a moist ricotta cheese. Taste for salt, and add pepper if needed.

Now, mix the cauliflower and tofu with the noodles. Make sure to get them really mixed together well, or you’ll have dry patches of just noodles, and wet patches of just “cheese.”

To assemble:

Layer a small amount of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 13×9 casserole dish. Then, pour the noodle filling over that. Pour the rest of the sauce over the top, smooth to make it even. Sprinkle on vegan cheese, if using.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until very bubbly around the edges, and hot all the way through. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before eating. You may need to salt and pepper it again before serving, since this dish is weird and seems to require more salt than you would think possible.

This recipe is wonderful to make changes to–there is so much opportunity for variety! I think a pesto version would be amazing, or with zucchini, eggplant, you name it. I’m excited to see what you come up with! Oh, and I should tell you: it tastes a lot better the next day. Great make-ahead meal.

Chilaquiles…what?

I had no idea what chilaquiles were until I made this. And I thought I knew a lot about Mexican food! Guess not.

These are the Tofu Chilaquiles from Happy Herbivore. I gotta say, it tasted a lot like a tofu scramble, but with a little flair thrown in. I’m not sure I loved it as a dinner, but as an enchilada filling or a breakfast burrito (with some roasted potato) this would be divine. And look at the tomatoes! God bless my friends out in the country. I couldn’t grow a decent tomato here if my life depended on it. And trust me, I’ve tried.