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.

Snickerdoodle Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

Don’t get me wrong, nothing says fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving more than pumpkin pie, but the same old pumpkin pie year in – year out can get boring.  I thought I’d shake things up a bit with a curveball and a bit of unexpected flavor that I hope we all will enjoy!

saraleepumpkinpie

I’ll still make a regular pumpkin pie, and if you are planning to make a regular pumpkin pie too, there is a hotline setup to help you in case you get in a bind: Sara Lee Pie Hotline 1-888-914-1247, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST.  The hotline is open Thanksgiving Day from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST.

Snickerdoodle Pumpkin Chiffon Piepumpchif

Assemble the Crust

  • 4 TBLS (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 1 TBLS Unsalted Butter for greasing the pan
  • 2 TBLS Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup + 2 TBLS Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 Large Egg Yolk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375°F and generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9″ regular (not deep dish) pie pan.

  1. Combine flour, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the sugar.
  3. Sprinkle 1/2 of the cinnamon-sugar mixture into the buttered pie pan and spread it around until the entire pan is well coated
  4. Beat the 1/2 stick of butter and 1/2 cup sugar for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
  5. Add egg yolk and vanilla. Beat until combined.
  6. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour mixture beating just until well combined.
  7. Transfer dough to work surface covered with a very light coating of flour and cinnamon.  Flatten cookie dough into a disc and then press into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pie pan.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon and sugar all over the surface of the inside of the pie crust.
  9. Poke holes all over the bottom of the crust and put into the freezer for 15 minutes.
  10. Bake the crust about 12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool completely before filling.

Prepare the Pie Filling

  • 4 ounces room temperature Cream Cheese
  • 1 Cup Pumpkin Pie Purée
  • 3/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 3/4 Tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp freshly Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 3/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 TBLS Bourbon
  • 1+3/4 tsp unflavored Gelatin
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  1. In small saucepan dissolve gelatin in the water over low heat.
  2. As soon as the gelatin is dissolved, remove from the heat and stir in the Bourbon.
  3. In the bowl of the stand mixer, mix the cream cheese until light and airy. Set aside.
  4. On medium-high speed, mix the pumpkin purée, maple syrup, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cinnamon and beat until well combined.
  5. Add the cream cheese and beat on high until smooth.
  6. Stir gelatin mixture into the pumpkin mixture and move all into a large chilled mixing bowl.
  7. Clean and dry the stand mixer bowl.
  8. Beat 1/2 cup of the cream on high until stiff peaks form and then stir into the pumpkin mixture.
  9. Pour filling into crust and chill overnight.

To prepare for serving

  1. To prepare for serving, beat 1 cup whipping cream, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp vanilla  until stiff peaks form
  2. Top pie with whipped cream and sprinkle with 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Make up to one day ahead and keep refrigerated until time to serve.

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

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms & Wine

New-turkeysWe all know that the turkey and sides are the stars of Thanksgiving, but there needs to be a little something to nibble on before the feast so people don’t knock each other over like ravenous fiends when the buffet is ready.

Inevitably I end up making too many snacks, but my excuse is that I never know if I’ll have a few people “helping out in the kitchen” for the hours leading up to dinner, or if the entire crowd will be at the house hanging out for drinks and watching football.

I like to assign Thanksgiving appetizers to someone else when I can and ask them to keepturkey-cheese-ball-8 them fairly simple: some type of tray with fruit, veggies, crackers and sliced cheese or a cheese ball.  This year I am not hosting, we get to be the guests, but I’ll be taking a few dishes to add to the spread.

My main goal was to find something that wouldn’t appeal to the kids so they’d be less likely to eat so much that they ruin their dinner.  I’d rather they eat fruit, if that’s there to snack on.  An added bonus: just by saying the word mushroom the kids will come nowhere near them, so their grubby little hands won’t be picking them up and down!

Crab Stuffed Mushroom Caps

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 – 8oz package softened cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 24 – 30 fresh whole white mushrooms
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 can lump crab meat
  • fresh arugula (if desired)
  • fresh rosemary (if desired)

Preheat oven to 375°F

  • Line a baking sheet with a silicone liner or parchment paper
  • Using a fine mesh colander or a regular colander lined with cheesecloth, break up the crab to make sure no shell remains and leave it to drain
  • Clean and dry mushrooms
  • Remove stems, trim rough edges, then chop stems and set aside
  • Place caps (empty cavity up) on the baking sheet
  • Heat oil in a small pan.  Stir in chopped stems, celery, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook until moisture disappears.  Remove from heat
  • Stir in crab, cayenne pepper, onion powder, black pepper, parmesan cheese, and cream cheese.
  • Use a spoon to fill each of the mushroom caps and return them to baking sheet
  • Bake in pre-heated oven 20 minutes

crabstuffedmushroomsServe immediately on a platter lined with fresh arugula and sprigs of rosemary if desired.

Another great thing about this crab stuffed mushroom recipe is that it is easily matched with the wines you are already likely to be serving with your Thanksgiving feast:

  • Pinot Grigio
  • Champagne
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Soave
  • Pinot Noir

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

 

Apple Cider Sangria

Yesterday I made a batch of spicy apple cider that filled the house with a delicious early fall smell.  Tonight I think I’ll spice things up a bit more by sharing a recipe I have for a large batch cocktail featuring my sweet spicy apple cider.

Fall Apple Cider Sangriaapple-sangria

  • 1 Granny Smith Apple
  • 1 Fuji Apple
  • 1 Golden Delicious Apple
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Navel Orange
  • 2 Cups Spicy Pressure Cooker Apple Cider
  • 4 Cans Stoli Ginger Beer
  • 1 Bottle Sauvignon Blanc Wine – I prefer one that has peachy/apple/honeysuckle undertones when I am making this Sangria.  One that leans toward the citrus/grapefruit might throw the taste off.
  • 1/4 Cup Cinnamon and 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar

cinnamonsugarrimPrepare Serving Glasses:  Combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup cinnamon and pour onto a shallow rimmed plate (like a salad plate); Dip the rim of your serving glass into water and then touch edge of glass into the cinnamon/sugar mixture on the plate; Lightly tap the excess off of each glass and set them aside.

Prepare the Sangria:

  1. Using a Mandolin or other thin slicer (I prefer the OXO 6 Piece Grater Slicer) thinly slice the apples, orange and lemon.
  2. Fill a Large (At least 1 gallon) Pitcher, or Mason Jar with a dispenser with the fruit.
  3. Add apple cider, ginger beer, and Sauvignon Blanc wine.
  4. Stir mixture, pour into the prepared serving glasses and garnish with thin slices of apple on a small skewer if you desire.

TIP:  If you are not a White Wine person, a lot of people aren’t, here are some recommendations for the type of wine you are looking for in this recipe:

Angeline Sauvignon Blanc – About $13 “With graceful aromas of white peach and nectarine, green apple and lemon…”

Low Hanging Fruit Sauvignon Blanc – About $8  “Flavors of honeydew melon, lemon-lime and ripe apple, followed by a refreshing crisp finish.”

Cloud Break Sauvignon Blanc – About $8  “lively flavors of honeydew melon, juicy peach and pear.”

This would be a great light drink to serve while the family is gathering before Thanksgiving dinner is served, an easy picnic or tailgate treat, and would be a really fun poolside treat.

With a 7:30 PM Thursday night USC game two weeks away, I can’t think of a better time to break this recipe out alongside my cider as a bit of a treat on, what may very well be, our first chilly night of the season!

Cheers!

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

Very Early Holiday Gift Thoughts

christmas-too-early-310x192Retailers believe it’s never too early to get the holiday decorations out, with some even starting as early as August to start vomiting Christmas all over their stores!  I strongly disagree with the practice.  Each season and each holiday  celebration deserves its own time.  Please, please, please let me enjoy Halloween before I have to start thinking about office parties, family Christmas, Chanukah and other end of the year celebrations.

In 2012, I was ready to seek out and high five Chris Matyszczyk of C|Net when he shared that stores decorating for holiday sales and playing holiday music earlier and earlier, was sending people like me online to shop in droves!  He even quoted a SOASTA poll with numbers showing how many other people feel just like I do:

  • 75% dislike that stores put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving
  • 78% hate holiday music played in stores
  • 75% believe the focus should be on Cyber Monday and not Black Friday

The only way I will even think about the holidays more than a month before they are upon me, is if I am planning to do any homemade gifts.  Anything that may require time to prepare containers, labels, and to sit for flavors to blend and deepen, like Lemoncello or other infused alcohol, flavored oils or vinegars, and especialy if I am going to be shipping those gifts, I want to have plenty of time to complete.

hot-honey-940x560I hadn’t settled on anything of that nature for this year, but did come across an interesting idea, courtesy of an article from the August 2015 edition of Bon Appétit Magazine: Hot Honey.  What a great idea for all of my friends who love to entertain, love anything with some kick and would appreciate the personal touch!

Hot Honey

  • 2 -4 Chili Peppers (Any variety, as hot or mild as you’d like)
  • 1 Cup Honey
  • 8 oz Canning Jar
Bring 2 chiles and honey to a bare simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Reduce heat to low and let cook 1 hour to infuse. Taste honey and adjust heat with another chile or 2, remove from stove, and let sit 30 minutes. Transfer to a small jar, straining if desired. Cover and chill.
  • Do Ahead: Hot honey can be made 3 months ahead. Keep chilled

Bon Appétit readers shared some tips in case you’re using raw honey and don’t want to risk boiling out the health benefits: 

  1. If you mix the honey and chiles together and let them infuse at room temperature for a longer period of time before using you won’t have to boil the honey;
  2. Set the steeping container in the sun (like you would sun tea);
  3. Heat but keep temperature below 104°

Suggested Uses:

  • Add a kick to a cup of hot tea
  • Sweeten and spice up a spot of whiskey
  • Brushed on BBQ’d ribs or chicken
  • Added to sauce for stir fry
  • Brush on grilled shrimp
  • Baked apple or pear desserts
  • Pour over ricotta, goat, or cream cheese and serve with apple slices, vegetables or crackers
  • Glaze for baked ham or pork chops
  • Mix into butter for a spicy honey butter (for corn-on-the-cob, cornbread or biscuits)
  • Add to vinagrette for a spicy-sweet salad dressing

Here’s a bonus recipe that I can’t wait to make myself:

Honey Bourbon Hot Toddy

  • 1/2 Cup Hot Water
  • 1 TBLS Hot Honey
  • 3 TBLS Bourbon (I prefer Maker’s 46 or Marker’s Mark)
  • 1 – 3 1/2″ Strip of Lemon or Orange Peel (I like Orange)
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick

honey-bourbon-toddy-940x560Stir honey and water in a 1-cup measuring cup until honey dissolves. Add bourbon. Pour into clear Toddy glass or coffee cup.  Twist a strip of lemon or orange peel over the drink, then add to glass. Stir with a cinnamon stick and serve.

Now I just need the nights to cool down enough (or I need to lower the air conditioner) so I can justify the warm evening drink 😉

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

Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Cookies

turkeygfcookiesAs I was reviewing the recipes I’d be making for Thanksgiving weekend gatherings this year, I realized that someone likely to eat at least one meal at my house is gluten intolerant and wouldn’t be able to share the best part of dinner: dessert!  Luckily I had a recipe that was easily converted to gluten free, whew, crisis averted!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Mix together in a bowl and set aside:

  • 3 1/4 Cups All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour (I use Krusteaz)
  • 2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder

In stand mixer cream until light and fluffy:

  • 2 Sticks (1 Cup) softened butter
  • 2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup  Brown Sugar (Light or Dark)  then add
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/4 Cup Canned Pumpkin Puree

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

On low speed slowly add the dry ingredients until well incorporated and dough forms a ball.

Divide the dough in half and put into 2 large Ziplock bags.  Flatten to a large disk and put both into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Once dough has chilled place first disk on a lightly floured surface (MAKE SURE YOU USE THE GLUTEN FREE FLOUR), roll out to about 1/4″ and cut into Turkeys, Leaves, Footballs or any other fall shape.  Place on a cookie sheet with a silicone liner or parchment paper and then throw the pan in the freezer for a couple of minutes to help cookies keep their shape when you bake them.  Repeat process with what is left of first disk then the second disk until you have used all of the dough.

Bake for 9-12 minutes (until lightly browned on the bottoms and starting to brown on the tops) depending on your oven and the thickness of your cookies.  Remove cookies from the oven.  Allow to cool on pan about 1 minute then remove to wire racks to completely cool.  Do not leave on the pan too long or the cookies might start to lose their shape.

When completely cool ice with Royal Icing or pre-made cookie icing and enjoy.

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to:  recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. If so, visit my This Girl Loves To Eat community at:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Zin-ful Cranberries

cannedcranberriesMy family never ate any cranberry sauce that was homemade.  In the preparations for Thanksgiving, someone was always assigned the task of bringing two cans of jellied and one of whole berry cranberry sauce.  And 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!

cb3This 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.

Tomorrow I am attacking the bird, the stuffing and the gravy!

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to:  recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. If so, visit my This Girl Loves To Eat community at:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood