Greetings! I hope everyone had a delightful Thanksgiving! My holiday recap post is coming to you a bit late as I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather. It was bound to happen, as many of my students were sick last week. And I’ve been quite busy, almost running on empty, so it’s no wonder it caught up with me.
My “week of Thanksgiving” began last Friday when I packed up & hit the road with Pdubbz, for a weekend trip to Northern Califorina to visit with his family. We made a quick pit stop at Native Foods so I could pick up a “Native Wellington” & Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake, & also treat P to his first Native experience. Needless to say he loved it & we made a second stop on our way home! We had a fantastic time in the bay area, driving up to the mountains near Sacramento for a home cooked pre-Thanksgiving vegetarian feast thoughtfully prepared just for us by his aunt & uncle. When the champagne began a-flowing at 2pm, I knew I would be feeling right at home. The next evening I prepared a vegan feast for P’s parents, brother, sister-in-law & their kids. While the Wellington took it’s time in the oven, I whipped together an incredible winter kale salad with fruits & veggies fresh from the Alameda Farmers’ Market (I’ll be sharing the recipe soon, as it is perfect for the holidays), steamed artichokes, & mashed potatoes. It was so much fun to cook for P’s family & show them how delicious vegan food can be. As for the Wellington – to quote my friend Kory, “Native Wellington = EPIC.”
“Native Wellington” – Image via Quarry Girl
Wow, was it a treat! Layers of flaky puffed pastry enveloping a hearty medley of kale & root vegetables, served with a savory mushroom gravy. Shamefully, I didn’t take photos of either dinner. Sometimes I just want to enjoy myself & not turn every meal into a blog post – especially when I am a guest in someone’s home. It was a scrumptous meal & a wonderful weekend. To think I’d already ate my weight in Thanksgiving food & the “official” holiday was still days away.
Thanksgiving Dinner – Vegan Caesar Salad, Roasted Green Bean Bundles, Hazelnut Cranberry Field Roast En Croute, Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Sweet & Savory Root Vegetable Stuffing
Fast forward to Thanksgiving with my family at our Julian, CA home, where I am not as shy with the camera. My Mom & I began our cooking extravaganza on Wednesday evening & powered through into the early hours fueled by a buttery bottle of French chardonnay. Cooking with wine makes it that much more fun, but makes me that much more prone to error. I had a little snafu with the sweet potato dish, which went a little something like this – Mom: “This puree seems a little…thin. How much coconut milk were you supposed to put in?” Me: “Ummm, I dunno, I poured in the whole can.” Mom: “What did the recipe call for?” Me: “Uhhhh, let’s see… oh, um, well, I was supposed to add only a 1/2 cup. Oopies.” Mom & I: “Well, no wonder it looks like baby food.” Laughs. Of course I was ordered to rectify the situation with a 7am trip to the market for another pound of sweet potatoes. Word to the wise – READ the recipes. Fortunately, all was not lost. We saved the dish & everything else came out without just right. As usual, we prepared way too much food. My Mom & I tend to over do it. We love to plan menus & throw parties!
We just can’t help it. Since we planned to eat later in the day, we put together a nice array out hors d’ourves, to stave of the hunger until dinner. These are my favorite “bar snacks”…
Rosemary Marcona Almonds, Dried Apricots, Spanish & Jalepeno Stuffed Olives
After the praise & applause that this vegan “cheese” recieved last year from tried & true dairy cheese fans, I had to make this again…
Peppered Cashew “Goat” Cheese & Grapes – recipe from C’est La Vegan
I only make this for special occasions, beacuse I can seriouslty polish of an entire log of it myself throughout the course of a day. Don’t let the 2 day process shy you away, it’s actually quite easy to prepare & absolutely worth it, it just takes a few days with the soaking & draining. I do cut down the salt a bit to a 1/2 tsp. I also made a second log that we used to crumble over the stuffing.
Not pictured was the tray of dairy cheeses, hence the assortment of crackers. I am happy to report that, just like last year, the vegan cheese was the first to be polished off (& I swear I didn’t eat it all myself!)
After lots more prep & too many cooks in the kitchen, it was time to pop open the wine (vegan friendly Bonterra Chardonnay & Castle Rock Pinot Noir) & have a “pre-stuff ourselves calorie burn” with a few rounds on Wii Tennis! Then back up to the kitchen for the final touches, & then dinner was served!
After contemplating a number of different salad recipes we kept coming back to this one from Vegetarian Times’ November 2012 issue…
Vegan Caesar Salad
I absolutely love a vegan caesar with crisp romaine, crunchy croutons, & creamy dressing. This was dressed up with slices of red pear & pistachios. So yummy!
For our meatless main this year we trusted the buzz around the blog-o-sphere & tried our first Field Roast…
While it was certainly tasty enough, & received some praise from the omni side, my Mom & I both agreed that next year we will go back to a homemade main. Neither one of us are big fans of seitan. If I were to choose a ready made dish again it would be the Native Wellington, hands down, & P agreed.
We always serve a green bean dish, & we have our list of faves, but when we saw these darling little bundles in VT’s November issue, we were smitten…
Roasted Green Bean Bundles
Simple bundles of haricots verts & red onion, tossed with a citrus dressing & roasted. Yum.
For our stuffing, we decided on a veggie rich variation, inspired by Giada De Laurentiis…
Sweet & Savory Root Vegetable Stuffing with Apples & Dried Cranberries
To “veganize” this stuffing, we omitted the eggs & added another 1/2 cup of vegetable broth, & topped it with a cashew based “goat” cheese. This stuffing is wonderfully flavorful & hearty with bits of carrot, parsnip, & butternut squash among the chunks of sourdough bread.
***Not pictured were the infamous “Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes” I almost ruined, which was veganized from a 101 Cookbooks recipe. We used full fat coconut milk & earth balance as vegan friendly substitutes. Also not pictured was the mini vegan pumpkin pie from Sweet Earth that was light & delightful.
Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies
Super cute & almost cruelty free, although sadly they were not vegan. Perhaps next year I can put Mom up to the challenge of trying to make these with vegan candy!
Well, there you have it! Another Thanksgiving come & gone. 4 weeks until Christmas. EEK! Let the frenzy begin…