Turkey Day Prep: Vegan Friendly Sides

scallopedpotatoesTo go with a sports description, we’re in the fourth quarter and approaching the two-minute warning on Thanksgiving.  Guest lists are likely set and it’s time to lock down the menu.  We all have the relative who is perpetually dieting, the relative who drinks too much before dinner even starts, the picky eater, the vegetarian, but there’s the one that always stump’s me: the new girlfriend or boyfriend who’s vegan.

The nice thing about these sides, from Eating Well Magazine, is that they will also appeal to your non-vegan guests.  Remember that undressed salads & vegetables, as long as they are prepared without any animal products (no dairy, no beef or chicken broth, no eggs), are vegan friendly too.

Vegan Scalloped Potatoes

  • 1½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes cut into 1/4″ slices (I use my OXO Good Grips Complete Grate & Slice Set – it’s fast, makes uniform slices, & easy cleanup)
  • 1½ pounds sweet potatoes peeled & cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 4 TBLS extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • ½ tsp white or black pepper, divided
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 3 TBLS all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cups unsweetened plain almond milk
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme

Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 425°.  Toss potatoes and sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons oil, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and garlic powder in a large bowl until well coated. Divide between 2 large baking sheets and spread in an even layer. Roast, rotating the pans from top to bottom about halfway through, until tender and beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, until very soft and golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add flour and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring for 1 minute more. Add almond milk; cook, stirring and scraping up any brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Increase heat to medium-high; cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens and bubbles, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

When the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven. Preheat the broiler. Transfer half the potatoes to a 2-quart broiler-safe baking dish. Spread half the sauce over the potatoes. Add the remaining potatoes and top with the remaining sauce, paprika and almonds. Broil, watching carefully, until the sauce is bubbling and the almonds are beginning to brown, 1 to 5 minutes, depending on your broiler. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve topped with thyme.

  • To make ahead: Roast potatoes (Step 2) up to 30 minutes ahead. Prepare sauce (Step 3), cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day; gently reheat until steaming before combining with the potatoes.
  • Serving size: ½ cup  Per serving: 199 calories; 8 g fat(1 g sat); 4 g fiber; 30 g carbohydrates; 4 g protein; 23 mcg folate; 0 cholesterol; 5 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 13,266 IU vitamin A; 18 mg vitamin C; 157 mg calcium; 1 mg iron; 303 mg sodium; 651 mg potassium  Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (265% daily value), Vitamin C (30% dv)  Carbohydrate Servings: 2 Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 fat

Vegan Sourdough StuffingSourdoughStuffing

  • 3 TBLS extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups halved and sliced leeks
  • 2 large stalks celery, halved and sliced
  • 12 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 16 ounces sourdough bread stuffing cubes
  • 2¼ cups low-sodium vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle poultry seasoning, pepper and salt over the vegetables and stir to combine. Transfer to a large bowl. Add bread and broth; stir until all the bread is moistened. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Coat a large piece of foil with cooking spray. Cover the baking dish with the foil, spray-side down.

Bake until hot and steaming, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove foil. Bake until lightly crisped on top, 18 to 20 minutes more.

Turkey Day Prep: Zinful Cranberries

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This is a recipe I shared yesterday to my wine lifestyle blog #GirlsGoneWine that I love pulling out for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s one that I have been making for a few years. It’s fast, easy, and tastes so good!

Growing up, my family never ate any cranberry sauce that was homemade.  In the preparations for cannedcranberriesThanksgiving, someone was always assigned the task of bringing two cans of jellied and one of whole berry cranberry sauce.  You couldn’t try and pull a fast one by buying store brand.  It had to be Ocean Spray on Grandma’s Thanksgiving table!

When I began cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my own family I automatically followed the same routine until I became obsessed with the Food Network a few years back and made my first foray into making cranberry sauce from scratch.

For the first few years, I stuck with the basic “back of the package” recipe:

  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 – 12 oz bag of whole fresh cranberries

Boil sugar and water, add cranberries and cook 10 minutes over a slow boil until berries have popped, refrigerate until time to serve.  *If you wanted it jellied you strained out the berry solids and skins using a mesh strainer before refrigerating.  BORING!

This year I put some time and creativity into the preparation and came up with a winner:

Zinful Cran-Blueberry Sauce

  • 1 & 1/3 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Zinfandel Wine (Best Quality you can afford – if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it)
  • 1 – 12 oz Package Ocean Spray Fresh Whole Cranberries
  • 1 Cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 1 Whole Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • Orange or Tangerine Zest

Bring sugar, wine and cinnamon stick to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add remaining ingredients and return to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 15-20 minutes.  You may want to use a splatter shield to avoid splashing when cranberries pop. Remove and discard cinnamon stick.  Cool slightly then move sauce to serving dish.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours and serve cold.  Sauce will thicken up as it cools.  Garnish with a few cranberries, blueberries and curls of zest.

Don’t worry, for the holdouts who just can’t stand not seeing the canned Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce, I still have the obligatory dish with the slices in the shape of the can. 😉  #CAGirlsGoneWine

Turkey Day Prep: Buttermilk Brined Turkey Breast

bmilkbrinedtbreast

The biggest gripe I have about roasting a turkey is that, when roasting the whole bird, to get the thigh to come up to the optimal temperature of 170° you often will end up with a dry, overcooked breast that only needs to reach about 150° to be perfectly done.

This afternoon I came across an article on lifehacker.com that solves the problem!  Cook the breasts separately and brine them first in a buttermilk based brine that infuses the meat with an incredible amount of moisture and flavor while also adding some very needed fat to help retain both.

Word to the wise: buttermilk promotes browning so watch your breast carefully as you start to get into the latter stages of roasting.  The breast in the picture had foil on it for the last 15 minutes of roasting.

Buttermilk Brined Turkey Breast

  • 4-5 pound bone-in turkey breast
  • 1 quart of buttermilk
  • 1 quart of water
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 5 smashed garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns (white are ideal)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Citrus fruit slices (A couple of lemons and oranges is plenty.)

Pour the water into a sauce pan, along with the salt, sugar, garlic, pepper and bay leaf. Bring everything to a boil, then remove from the heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Let the brine cool to room temperature. Once it’s cool, combine it with the buttermilk, then pour the mixture over the turkey breast in a brining bag or small bucket. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375℉, remove the turkey from the brine, and let drain on paper towels, blotting to remove excess moisture from the skin. Scatter your fruit in the bottom of a roasting pan or large skillet, place a trivet or rack on top of that, then set the turkey on top. Roast uncovered until the skin is well-browned, covering with foil towards the end if it starts to look dicey. Continue to roast until the thickest part of the breast reads 150℉, about 90 minutes to two hours. If your breasts are Dolly Parton sized 😉 cook them a little longer. Remove from the oven, and let rest for 15 minutes before carving. Sprinkle with some sea salt and citrus zest before serving.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Turkey Day Prep: Pumpkin Pie for the Keto Crowd

easy-keto-low-carb-pumpkin-pie-recipe

This week is all about making Thanksgiving desserts that those in your family who live the Paleo or Keto lifestyle can enjoy with you.  Yesterday was Pumpkin Mousse, and today we’re taking on traditional pumpkin pie in a keto crust.

The great things about this crust is that it can be used for either sweet or savory pies and that, even if you have the most vocal of coconut haters, they shouldn’t be able to smell or taste that coconut is your secret ingredient.

Keto Low Carb Crust

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract- eliminate for savory
  • 1/4 cup Swerve sweetener -eliminate for savory
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup butter cold cut into cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Whisk the eggs, oil and vanilla extract in a food processor or stand mixer.
  3. In another bowl whisk the remaining ingredients together until combined.
  4. Pour the dry and wet mixture into a food processor.
  5. Add the cubed butter. Process by pulsing until it looks like crumbles.
  6. Spray a pie plate with cooking spray and pour crumbles into pie plate.
  7. Press with hands to form dough right in the pie plate. Alternately you can also roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper and flip over into a 9 inch pie plate.
  8. Using a fork randomly make holes into the bottom of the crust.
  9. Bake the crust 10 minutes or until golden.
  10. Cover the crust edges with aluminum foil if using this for a savory or sweet pie that needs to be baked again, otherwise it will burn.
  11. Take crust out of the oven, cool completely, and add your filling.

Easy Low Carb Keto Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 15-oz can Pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup Heavy cream (or coconut cream for dairy-free/paleo)
  • 2 large Eggs (at room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup Powdered erythritol (Swerve)
  • 2 tsp Pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp Sea salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp Blackstrap molasses (optional)
  1. Beat together all ingredients at medium-low speed, until smooth. (Don’t over mix.)
  2. When the pie crust is done baking, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Cool the crust on the counter for at least 10 minutes, longer if you have time.

  3. Pour the filling into the crust. Gently tap on the counter to release air bubbles.
  4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the pie is almost set but still slightly jiggly in the center. (Check on it occasionally, and if you see the crust starts to brown too much, cover the crust edge with foil and return to the oven until the filling is done. It should still jiggle a bit in the center, like a custard before it sets.)

Cool completely on the counter, then refrigerate at least an hour before slicing. Pie can be refrigerated overnight.

Serving size: 1 slice, or 1/12 of entire pie

Nutrition Information Per Serving

Calories: 244 | Fat: 21g | Total Carbs: 8g | Net Carbs: 4g | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Protein: 7g

Big thanks to Maya Krampf at Wholesome Yum for creating the pie filling & getting the recipe just right!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Turkey Day Prep: Pumpkin Mousse for the Keto Crowd

KetoPumpkinMousse

One of the biggest bummers for the Keto crowd during the holidays is feeling left out of all the baked goods and treats that others share at parties and family gatherings. Well, not this year! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Shape Magazine gathered and shared some recipes that help those living the Keto lifestyle enjoy the flavors of the season without sacrificing their diet goals.

The mousse below takes 10 minutes to make and can even be put into a keto pie crust.  If, by some chance, you don’t eat it all in one sitting, this mousse can be stored in air tight containers or in glass cups covered with plastic wrap for 5 days in the fridge.

Keto Pumpkin Mousse

  • 8 oz Mascarpone or whole fat cream cheese (room temperature for at least 15 minutes)
  • 1/4 cup Swerve Confectioners
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract optional
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (+additional to whip & top the dessert with)
  1. Place mascarpone and low-carb sweetener in a deep bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low for 2 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Beat on low until incorporated.
  3. Slowly, with the mixer running of low, add the heavy cream. Beat just until incorporated and fluffy, or for 2 minutes. Do not over beat.
  4. Top with whipped cream (optional), chopped sugar-free chocolate and mint
Nutrition Facts
Amount Per Serving
Calories 247 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 37%
Saturated Fat 15g 75%
Cholesterol 64mg 21%
Sodium 29mg 1%
Potassium 56mg 2%
Total Carbohydrates 4g 1%
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 80%
Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 7.3%
Iron 1.9%

 

Turkey Day Prep: Stock

TurkeyStockI have been cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my own family for the past 25 years, or so, and have never attempted to make home made stock.  I never saw my Grandpa (THE Thanksgiving GURU in our family) make his own stock, as far as I knew, canned stock was the only stock there was. #1970sCannedFoodKid 

This year, since I’m trying to keep the meal as clean (read: uncanned) as I can this year to try and keep close to my Keto goals, I thought I’d try to make my own stock ahead of time and put it in the freezer to have for basting the bird and making the (Not Keto) stuffing and gravy.

The biggest hassle with making turkey stock is the fact that you have to make a whole turkey first to have a turkey carcass on hand.  I did find a way around this: I use turkey thighs, because I like the moister dark thigh meat, which I buy at my local grocery store, in this case, the Gelson’s a couple of miles from my house.  I like the upscale Gelson’s Market because it offers antibiotic-free, fresh, organic, and kosher (if that is important to you) turkeys and turkey pieces.

While not an all day process, it is a two part process.  First you have to cook the turkey parts and then you can make the stock.  Luckily the pressure cooker makes both parts easy.

Pressure Cooker Turkey ThighsEasy-Roasted-Turkey-Thighs-3-688x1032

  • 4 turkey thighs
  • 4 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, and chopped into large chunks
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning
  • salt and pepper (if not using the Creole seasoning)
  • 24 oz low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  1. Set your pressure cooker to the “Brown” setting
  2. Add 1-2 TBLS olive oil to the pressure cooker.
  3. Season your thighs liberally.  I prefer to use Creole seasoning but you can use salt and pepper.
  4. Brown your thighs, two at a time, on all sides.  Make sure that the skin side is a deep, golden brown to ensure that the fat is rendered and the flavor is sealed into the meat.  Remove the browned thighs and set aside.
  5. Slip the skin off of the thighs and return to the pressure cooker to render as much of the fat into the pot as possible.
  6. Add the rest of the olive oil and the chopped onion. Saute the onion for about 5 minutes and then add the garlic.  Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the thighs back to the pot. Stir the onion and garlic up onto the chicken then season with salt & pepper, add the red wine vinegar and the stock.
  8. Lock the lid and cook on high pressure for one hour.  When cooking is finished, allow to return back to pressure naturally (about 30 minutes).
  9. Remove thighs from pressure cooker and put on plate for removal of meat from the bones.  Leave everything else in the pot.

**To Use Thighs For Stock:  The meat will easily shred right off the bone, but don’t worry, plenty remains to flavor the broth.  Store the shredded thigh meat in a covered container or zip bag to use in sandwiches, add to soup or eat in other meals.

Continue Preparing the Stock

  • bones from cooked turkey thighs (retained from recipe above)
  • 1/2 cup chopped turkey thigh (from recipe above)
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly cut into about 1″ pieces
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and roughly cut into about 1″ pieces
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 tsp pink Himalayan Sea Salt (you can use any sea salt – I like this one)
  • 3 cups water
  1. Add the skin, bones, chopped meat, celery, carrot, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, peppercorns, and salt to the vegetables and cooking liquid already in the pressure cooker pot, then add water.
  2. Pressure cook on high for 60 minutes.
  3. Let the pressure come down naturally – about 30 minutes.
  4. Scoop the bones and vegetables out of the pot with a slotted spoon and discard.
  5. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids.
  6. After the stock is completely cooled, I portioned it into quart-sized zip lock freezer bags.  It can be frozen for up to 3 months.

**Tip – If you use glass jars make sure to leave about an inch of head room or your jar could break when it freezes. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

 

 

Vanilla Bean Whipped Sweet Potatoes

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For those of us hosting big family meals, at just over a month before Thanksgiving, we’ve officially reached the “almost the holidays” panic time.  That time when we revisit what we did last year to determine:

  • What dishes served had the most leftovers
  • What dishes got rave reviews
  • What dishes had no leftovers (for adjusting amount prepared)
  • What dishes were too much effort and underwhelmed

It’s also the time when we take a look at new recipes that we might want to add to this year’s menu, which means we get to make our families Guinea pigs for the next few weeks while we’re trying them out.

I already have one sweet potato recipe that my family loves, but this one (from the December 2005 issue of Food & Wine Magazine) looks pretty good, it’s easy, serves 10 – 12, and can be made the day before which frees up time on the big day, another bonus.

vbwhippedsweetpotatoes

Vanilla Bean Whipped Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 pounds medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 TBLS unsalted butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise, seeds scraped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Poke the sweet potatoes several times with a fork and bake for about 35 minutes, or until tender.  Let cool slightly, then peel and transfer them to a food processor (I actually use my stand mixer). Puree until fairly smooth.

In a small saucepan, combine the cream with the butter and the vanilla bean and seeds. Bring to a simmer. Remove the vanilla bean.

With the processor (or stand mixer) on, carefully pour the vanilla cream into the sweet potatoes and process until smooth. Season the sweet potato puree with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and serve.

I’d definitely consider doubling this recipe to make sure there were plenty of leftovers for piling on a turkey sandwich or frying up as sweet potato pancakes. #ThisGirlLovesToEat