Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope you get to gorge yourself today like the rest of the United States.
Want an easy way to start brunch the next day? Pick up some of Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Rolls. A. Maz. Ing.
Winter squash is a wonderful addition to almost any dinner, and Thanksgiving almost demands it.
The thought of making squash used to bum me out. I would fight to get it cut in half, scoop out the seeds, turn up my oven, set the halves in a pan with water to bake for what seemed like forever, and then spend more time than I wanted to clean the pan. Yes, dread was a good word for it. This process actually discouraged me from the yummy that is winter squash. No longer.
There is a super easy way to make winter squash. For someone like me who can often struggle with time, this is my answer.
Wash the outside of the squash. Place squash in a microwave safe dish with lid. Cook for 10 minutes. Using a pot holder, check that the squash is very soft to touch. If not, cook another two minutes check again, repeat until soft. Once soft, let cool a few minutes and use a large knife to cut open for faster cooling. When ready, scoop out seeds and serve. Yummy! Oh, so much easier!
I love to eat. No, really, eating is one of my very favorite things to do. I don’t really need an excuse to make a giant feast of food, just time.
Thanksgiving is kind of hard for lots of vegans and vegetarians. Traditionally, the entire meal is centered around a giant bird. If not wanting to eat the bird, things can feel tense. What is a non-bird eating person to do? This is only a question if attending an event with non-vegans.
I wrote recently about how I try to talk about being vegan. Today I wanted to share how I cook for the day. I always start by placing some constraints on myself.
1. I remember I am doing this for me. There will probably be people at the event that are unsure about me and the whole vegan thing. That’s okay. These people may be so uncomfortable with my choices that they refuse to eat anything vegan. Even though they have probably been eating vegan dishes their entire lives and just didn’t realize it. This is okay. I am cooking for me and will share with anyone interested. The rest have a bird to eat.
2. Don’t over do it. If I am cooking for myself, I do not need every traditional Thanksgiving dish re-imagined for a vegan. I just can’t eat that much. Not to mention trying to get everything to someone else’s home in a timely manner.
3. What is my favorite? What is the one dish I have always loved at Thanksgiving that I want to make sure I get to eat? The mashed potatoes? The sweet potatoes? The green bean casserole? I am originally from Texas and my go-to Thanksgiving dish is green bean casserole. Yummy! Second is the sweet potatoes.
4. What else do I need? I can’t survive on green bean casserole alone. What other one thing should I have to feel full for the day?
These are my parameters. I make a green bean casserole that is so yummy, people who don’t normally like the one made with canned condensed cream of mushroom soup, love it and I never have any left overs. Then I make one other thing like the macaroni and “cheese” I posted on Monday to round out my contribution. If my host is nice, s/he will make the potatoes with milk/butter alternatives, but I can’t count on it. If I have the time, I will pick up vegan roles and fruit for dessert. If I really have time, I will make a dessert. But, dessert is outside of my constraints and I don’t beat myself up if I don’t have the time or energy.
I figured this out after many years of trying to make everything. I was also experimenting with recipes at this time and not everything came out perfect. Unfortunately, when things are not super yummy and others try them, they then have a bad experience and could be turned away from an amazing life choice. That is the last thing I want. Following these constraints has really helped me continue to enjoy days of food with extended family.
I have always loved macaroni and cheese. It is my go-to comfort food and even vegans can splurge on comfort food. When I became vegan, I was on the perpetual lookout for a decent macaroni and cheese. It took years to find one that I could build onto. What you will need:
One and a half packages, or about 3 and 1/2 cups, of pasta. Certainly elbow macaroni works wonderfully
1/2 a cup of margarine
1/2 a cup of white whole wheat flour
3 and 1/2 cups boiling water
2 TBS liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
1/2 tsp sea salt (if using soy sauce, add an additional tsp of salt)
1 and 1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch of turmeric
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
Half a block of extra firm tofu or a bag of Boca Crumbles (optional)
Preheat over to 350.
I always start by cooking the pasta and setting it aside. When I have tried to cook the pasta simultaneously with the “cheese,” I mess things up. I just place the pasta in my casserole dish when it’s ready and prep everything else while it cooks. If adding the tofu or crumbles, add them to the pasta once it’s cooked. If adding the tofu, first crumble it with a fork and then mix it in. This will add some additional protein to the dish.
Preping: Place the margarine in a saucepan. Measure out the liquid aminos, salt, garlic powder, and turmeric into a small bowl and set near the stove. Measure out the water and place in the microwave to cook for about six to eight minutes until boiling.
Melt the margarine over a medium heat. Once fully melted, add the flour and stir with a fork or whisk until thick and creamy. This mixture is called a roux and is the base of many creamy sauces. Careful not to overcook the roux. Using a pot holder, pour some of the boiling water into the bowl of spices and add everything to the roux. Continue to stir and fully combine everything. Turn up the heat to a medium high and stir continuously until the sauce thickens and boils. Not a rigorous boil. Remove from heat. Add the oil and nutritional yeast flakes and stir until will combined.
Pour half the sauce over the cooked noodles and mix. Then pour the other half over the top and sprinkle paprika over it. I have seen recipes that add bread crumbs here, but when I have tried this, I have not liked it.
Bake the macaroni and cheese for 15 minutes and then broil it for about five more minutes. Or at least until the top has some crust to it. Yummy!
This recipe is a little more involved than I usually attempt, but even my non-vegan friends love it and ask for the recipe. Score!
In case wondering where to find vegan crescent rolls, Trader Joe’s has you covered. These taste great can can be used for so many things.
Crescent roll ideas:
Pizza crust, just press all the perforated sides together to make one crust
Anything in a blanket, like the recipe from Monday
The outside dough for kinishes
As a side with soup or stew
Rolls with a meal
I got the munchies last night and came up with this delicious option. Super easy and would be great for a party. All these things were just hanging out in my fridge for other reasons and they went great together. What you need:
Savory tofu, cut into eight thin rectangles. This kind of tofu normally comes in small blocks and I just kept cutting it in half till I had eight pieces
Daiya provolone slices, two. Fold each one in half until you have eight long slices
One container vegan crescent roles, makes eight
Unroll the crescent rolls and detach from each other. They should look like triangles of dough. Place a piece of tofu and a piece of cheese on the thick end of the triangle and roll everything toward the tip of the triangle. Repeat until all eight are rolled up and place on a baking sheet. Bake according to the crescent roll package instructions. Yummy!
If not already crystal clear, I love chocolate. I always have. When I found this bar I wondered if it might remind me of a Nestle Crunch. Honestly, I can’t remember what the Nestle Crunch tastes like, so I have no idea how close or far this bar from Alter Ego is. However, I can say the Alter Ego bar is sufficiently yummy. The quinoa did give a bit of a fun crunch to a sweet chocolate taste and I enjoyed every bite. Find and try for yourself.
The CSA once again inspired me to innovate. A beautiful head of cabbage became a delicious stew. This is what you will need:
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp avocado oil
1 small head of cabbage, about 6 cups chopped
1 28oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 16oz can garbanzo beans
1 cube not-beef bouillon cube
4 cups water
2 cups chopped kale, stems removed
Saute the onion in avocado oil until it starts to soften. Add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Check that all the cabbage is thoroughly cooked and serve hot. Yummers!