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: 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

Vanilla Bean Whipped Sweet Potatoes

maple-leaves-mixed-fall-colors-background-david-gn

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

Low Carb Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse

pumpkin-mousseI saw this on Pinterest and not only is it quick & easy to make, it is sinfully delicious without being heavy in calories or carbs!  Thanks go to The Sugar Free Mom, Brenda Bennett, for this wonderful, easy to make, treat!

Low Carb Pumpkin Cheesecake Mousse

Instructions

  1. In a KitchenAid or stand mixer blend cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until whipped and fluffy about 5 minutes.
  3. Taste and adjust sweetener to your liking if needed.
  4. Pipe into serving glasses and top with cacao nibs or brown sugar sub like Sukrin if desired. Best if Chilled about an hour to set and thicken but still fantastic to enjoy immediately!

  5. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Recipe Notes

Net Carbs: 4g

Amount Per Serving (0.5 cup)
Calories 280 Calories from Fat 243
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 42%
Saturated Fat 16g 80%
Cholesterol 95mg 32%
Sodium 186mg 8%
Potassium 154mg 4%
Total Carbohydrates 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 2g
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 132.1%
Vitamin C 2.2%
Calcium 7.4%
Iron 3.9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Short Rib Mushroom Risotto

stuffedWe have a lot of family celebrations that come in a very short time, which means a lot of heavy big dinners either out at restaurants or at one family gathering or another.  By the time we hit our wedding anniversary in late February (which is the same day as my sister-in-law’s birthday) and, a week later, my husband’s birthday, we are about food-ed out!

Despite that, I make a big to-do and tonight, am making a new recipe I’ve been playing with for a dish I had made for me at my post-Christmas birthday at one of my favorite restaurants, The Winery in Tustin, CA.   I’m good enough in the kitchen to be dangerous so I’ve gathered the ingredients and am giving it a go tonight! If it sucks I can always order pizza, right? #ThisGirlLovesToEat

First a tip:  Start this recipe either the day before, early on the the day, or at least 2 hours before you want to eat.  You’ll want to prepare the short ribs first so that you’ll have the broth left from cooking them to use for the risotto.  Trust me on this. It makes a huge difference.

Short Rib Mushroom Risotto

Making the Ribs

  • 8-10 Strips Thick Cut Bacon – cut (with kitchen shears) into 1/2 – 1″ chunks
  • 3 to 4 Lbs Bone-in Short Ribs
  • 1 – 8oz Pkg Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 TBLS Minced Garlic
  • 1 Cup Mushroom Broth (Sprouts carries this) or Low Sodium Beef Broth
  • 1 TBLS Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1 TBLS Dried Herbes De Provence (McCormick)
  1. Set the Pressure Cooker to the brown setting with the lid open.
  2. Cut the bacon and cook it in the pressure cooker (with the lid open) until it just starts to get crisp. Remove and set aside.
  3. Put short ribs into the pressure cooker in the bacon grease, brown on all sides, in batches if needed, until all are browned.
  4. When all ribs are browned, put all back into the pressure cooker fattiest (if any) or bone side down.
  5. Put garlic, brown sugar, and broth into the spaces between the ribs.
  6. Sprinkle ribs with black pepper and lightly with ground cloves and Herbes De Provence.
  7. Add bacon and mushrooms on top of the ribs in the pressure cooker.
  8. Secure lid and set to pressure cook on high for 40 minutes.
  9. Let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes then do quick release.
  10. Remove ribs from the pressure cooker to a covered pot, and as you are moving them remove the bones – they should pull right out.
  11. When all ribs are deboned, use 2 forks and shred the meat while it is still hot.
  12. Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved broth from the pressure cooker to the meat and cover to keep warm and moist.

Making the Risotto

  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil + 1 TBLS Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Butter (1/2 Stick)
  • 1/2 Medium Yellow Onion Chopped
  • 1 – 8oz Pkg Sliced White Mushrooms (chop them)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 TBLS Minced Garlic
  • 1 Cup Mushroom (Sprouts carries this) or Low Sodium Beef Broth
  • 2 Cups Arborio Rice
  • 2/3 Cup White Wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 4 1/2 – 5 Cups Beef Broth (use the reserved strained drippings/broth from the short ribs and add enough stock/broth to make up the total amount)
  • 2/3 Cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
  1. Using a fat separator, pour the remaining liquid from the pressure cooker through the strainer top and allow to slightly cool.  Once cooled pour off the broth only into a 6 cup measuring cup.  Discard the fat.
  2. Add enough broth (mushroom or low sodium beef) to equal 5 cups. Then put in a pan to simmer.
  3. In heavy gauge saucepan heat olive oil + 1 TBLS butter until melted.
  4. Add rice.  Cook and stir about 3 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. To prepare the mushrooms, clean the mushrooms by brushing them off (do not wash if possible) and roughly chop (stems may be left on).
  6. Sauté onions, garlic and butter in heavy gauge saucepan over medium-high heat until onions are translucent about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are soft (about 4 minutes)
  7. Add the browned rice to the vegetables and stir to combine.
  8. Pour in the white wine and allow the liquid to boil and be absorbed into the rice. Then pour in 1/2 cup of stock to the rice, stirring constantly. (If necessary, adjust the heat under the pot – you want a medium simmer.)  Add more stock 1/2 cup at a time – adding more just as most but not all of the liquid is absorbed before adding in more stock.)
  9. Stir the rice and stock together in this manner for approximately 25 minutes or so – until the rice is tender but not mushy. Stir about 1/2 Cup of the shredded short ribs into the risotto with the final addition of broth.
  10. Turn the heat off when there is still some liquid remaining in the rice and stir in the Parmesan cheese.
  11. Remove from heat and cover.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

TIP:  Risotto may be reheated by adding in some additional mushroom or low sodium beef stock and stirring to incorporate into the risotto.

To serve:  I toss some fresh spinach in olive oil over medium heat until wilted, lay a small bead in the center of the plate then mound some risotto atop the spinach, pile some shredded short rib on top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and add a slice of french bread with some butter for sopping up the juices.

My husband said it was better than The Winery!  Sorry Chef Yvon Goetz. 😉

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Paula Deen’s Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

pumpkin-gooey-butter-cake-pauladeenI’m not someone that thinks pumpkin desserts are only for the fall.  I love pumpkin pie and get out of my way if there is a moist pumpkin bread in the building!

I don’t know if you have ever had Paula Deen’s Gooey Butter Cake, but if you haven’t, let me tell you it is a chunk (you cannot call a portion of this merely a piece) of heaven on earth!  Leave it to Paula to springboard off of that delight and create something even more decadent starring pumpkin and, of course, her favorite “heart stopping” ingredient, butter. 😉

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 1  box yellow cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar – equivalent to 3 3/4 cups (reserve 3 Tbsp for dusting)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine the cake mix, egg, and 8 TBLS butter and mix well with an electric mixer.
  3. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth.
  5. Add the eggs, vanilla, and remaining 8 TBLS butter, and beat together.
  6. Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well.
  7. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.
  8. Check after about 35 minutes so you make sure not to overbake. The center should be a little gooey.
  9. Let the pan cool completely before you cut the squares.
  10. You could even pop the cooled pan in the fridge before cutting to get extra clean cuts.
  11. Dust squares with powdered sugar before serving.

I like to serve with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream and a sprig of fresh mint.  Yum

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Oreo Red Wine Nutella Cupcakes

red-wine-nutella-cupcakes-with-oreo-nutella-filling-and-red-wine-frosting-767x1024I was sourcing articles related to wine and the picture, almost as much as the title convinced me, although I am seriously deficient in the cupcake decorating department, to give these a try.

I’m not sure what appealed to me more, the wine or the chocolate, but I figured I could manage combining them without staining everything in my kitchen.  I might even be able to pipe on the frosting without too much problem, so I’m off to the store to make these grown up delights!

I found this little bit of deliciousness at a blog I saw on Pinterest: www.yummyaddiction.com.

One thing: I noticed the blogger didn’t specify what type of wine she used or recommend a type.  For my own personal taste, with the cocoa, cinnamon and brown sugar in the cake, I am going to go with a red wine with a similar flavor profile like a Zinfandel, Petite Syrah or maybe a Pinot Noir or Malbec.

Oreo Red Wine Nutella Cupcakes

Makes: 10 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup red wine, any kind you like
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup Nutella
  • 10 Oreos
For the filling:
  • ½ cup Nutella
  • 5 Oreos
For the frosting:
  • 1 cup red wine, any kind you like
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 10 muffin cups with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. The cupcakes. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add the egg and beat to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. Stir in Nutella and red wine until evenly combined. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Place an Oreo cookie on the bottom of each cupcake liner. Pour batter over each Oreo cookie and fill each cupcake liner about ¾ of the way full. Bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. The filling. In a ziplock bag, place the Oreos and use a mallet to crush the cookies into small pieces. In a small bowl, combine Nutella with crushed Oreos. Set aside.
  4. The frosting. In a small saucepan, combine red wine and sugar. Cook over mediumoreo-red-wine-nutella-cupcakes-center heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves and wine comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes (until the liquid is reduced to about ¼ cup or a light syrup texture). Let cool.
  5. Beat the butter until until smooth and creamy. Slowly add in powdered sugar (1/2 cup at a time), vanilla, and ¼ cup of prepared wine syrup. Beat until no lumps remain. Taste the frosting and add salt to cut the sweetness, if you prefer.
  6. Assembling the cupcakes. Cut out the center of each cupcake with a sharp knife. Fill the cupcakes with Nutella & Oreo filling. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip. Pipe frosting into a swirl on each cupcake. Enjoy!

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too:https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood