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Thanksgiving Main Dish Ideas

We’ll be enjoying our traditional seitan roast on Thanksgiving, but it’s the vegetables that are the real stars in our house.  I love the way the vibrantly colored sweet potatoes, cranberries, squash, and green beans look like an autumn landscape on my holiday table.  Truth is, I’m happiest when I can make a meal out of what are commonly referred to as “side” dishes.

Still, a main dish “centerpiece” is a Thanksgiving tradition for most of us. If you’ve never make a seitan roast, it’s easier than you think.  If making a large roast is intimidating, you could opt for individual servings of seitan en croute, an especially good choice if you’re only feeding one or two people and you don’t like leftovers. Personally, I adore leftovers and the opportunities they present. (Stay tuned for some exciting post-Thanksgiving posts to see what I mean.)

There are lots of vegan roasts you can buy that are already prepared, such as the ones from Field Roast and Tofurky.  Another idea is to make a large stuffed squash (or several small individual stuffed squashes) that can be filled with grain or bread stuffing, depending on what you like.  Stuffed squash is a great choice because it’s colorful and delicious but can also be made gluten-free and soy-free.  For something different, consider making a Moroccan bisteeya (a pastry covered savory pie), a lentil shepherd’s pie (maybe topped with half mashed white potatoes and half mashed sweet potatoes), or even a nice pan of lasagna.

For an easy no-fuss one-dish meal, you could make my Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Crispy Kale Ribbons  — with or without the addition of the walnuts and dried cranberries — and to it, add some sauteed sliced sausage links (homemade or storebought such as Tofurky brand) for extra protein, or instead of sausage, add some cooked cannelini beans. You could also substitute diced butternut squash for the sweet potatoes, if you prefer. The colors and textures are wonderful together and if you season it with a little ground sage and thyme, it will taste like Thanksgiving. I especially like the crispy kale ribbons in this — it’s a fun way to employ the popular kale chip concept as part of the meal.  And if you’ve never had roasted sweet potatoes before, you’re in for a treat.

The countdown to Thanksgiving is getting down to the wire.  Still to come on my blog: a new take on cranberry sauce, an easy and delicious gravy, and another main dish idea. And for more ideas, check out my entire Thanksgiving menu (with recipes) on Vegan.com as well as the Thanksgiving and Christmas menus (and recipes) in my book, Party Vegan.

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The Apple of My Pie…

…or, more correctly, the apple of my “not-pie” — this is one of the luscious baked apples we’ve been enjoying.  Northern Virginia is apple country and there are so many varieties to choose from, it’s hard to decide what to bring home from the various farmstands and orchards in the area.  This week we tried York and Cortland.  I’m sure they’d be wonderful in an actual pie, but I chose to use them in a more virtuous way by baking several of them in my slow cooker.  The flavor is as indulgent as apple pie — without the indulgence.  I’ll be making them again soon.  Next time, I think I’ll stuff them with a little granola to make them reminiscent of apple crisp.  Yum.

Three’s the Charm:  I have lots of good news to share today, I hardly know where to begin.  Let’s start with the amazing honor of having one of my recipes chosen as 1 of 4 “Recipes of the Year” on Vegan.com.  My Singapore-Style Rice Noodles with Tofu and Vegetables was named “Quick Recipe of the Year.”  This recipe happens to be a personal favorite of mine.  Try it yourself and let me know what you think!

Also today, I found out that my Roasted Cauliflower Picatta recipe from my post on One Green Planet was chosen to appear on the Huffington Post! A huge thank you to all who voted for this recipe on One Green Planet.

Good news must come in threes, because, also today, Vegan on the Cheap got a nice shout out in the Philadelphia Daily News, along with my recipe for Tuscan White Bean Pizza appearing on philly.com.

Exciting stuff! Not bad for a Thursday, huh?

Best Thing about Super Bowl Sunday: the Food

I’ll admit that I’m not into football and there will be no Super Bowl party at my house. Still, the “guy food” recipes in the Super Bowl menu from Party Vegan are so yummy, I might just make some of them anyway on Sunday to enjoy while we watch a good movie.

The Olive-cado Dip is like a guacamole studded with black olives. As much as I love that dip, I’m thinking I may instead make an old favorite, the Guacamame from Carb-Conscious Vegetarian, since it calls for edamame (which I happen to have in the freezer) and only needs one avocado (they’re expensive and small right now where I live).

I love the spicy-sticky Finger Lickin’ Tempeh Fingers (below), but Jon doesn’t love tempeh much, so I’ll skip them in favor of the Devil’s Details Chili served with the Super Slaw and Confetti Cornbread Muffins (shown above).

For a big finish, we’ll enjoy the Man-Size Chocolate Chip Cookies — these cookies are seriously good. Add of these tester photos (except the guacamame) are by Tami of Vegan Appetite. When Tami tested these cookies, she told me that she’s very picky about chocolate chip cookies. I’m happy to report that these cookies passed her test, having “just the right texture: slightly crispy on the outside and a wee bit of softness inside.”

In case you don’t have Party Vegan yet, here’s the cookie recipe so you can try it out for yourself. Let me know what you think! (And if you already have Party Vegan, please leave a review on Amazon to let others know about it!)
Check it out: Three (count ‘em, three) of my cookbooks made the list of “Top Vegan Cookbooks” over at Vegan.com.
Coming soon to this blog: My special “Hearts Afire” Valentine’s Day menu and a cookbook giveaway!
Now, how about some cookies?

P.S. There’s a cookbook giveaway going on NOW over at the blog HeidiRenee — she’s giving away a copy of Vegan on the Cheap AND a copy of Party Vegan!  Check it out….


Man-Size Chocolate Chip Cookies
This recipe is from Party Vegan by Robin Robertson © John Wiley and Sons, 2010.

3/4 cup Earth Balance, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the Earth Balance and both sugars until light and fluffy. Stir in the non-dairy milk, maple syrup, and vanilla and mix until smooth.
3. In a separate large bowl, combine both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and mix well. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring well to combine. Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts, if using.
4. Drop the dough by the heaping tablespoonful (or more) about 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake until slightly browned around the edges, 15 to 16 minutes. Cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. When completely cool, store in an airtight container.

Makes about 24 large cookies

Vegetable Treasures

Since the shopping choices are limited where I live, whenever we travel to DC as we did this past weekend, we always include a stop for groceries in Centreville, Virginia on the drive home, where we visit the Trader Joe’s and a huge Asian market across the street.

I like to think I know my way around a produce department, but every time I go to the Asian market, I find something new and interesting. This time it was tindora, tiny finger-sized squash that look like miniature cucumbers. I also got some gorgeous Swiss chard, kabocha squash, baby bok choy, Thai chiles, and tiny purple eggplants. Oh yes, and a quince.

Half the fun of shopping for these treasures is discovering interesting ways to cook them. I asked an Indian man scooping tindora into a bag how he prepares them and he explained how his little girl enjoys them. I noticed a woman examining a quince with great care. She told me that she likes to use quince in a stroganoff-type recipe, and now I’m obsessed with trying it that way. Not present in the photo are some oyster mushrooms, beets, and arugula that I also brought home.

I decided to cook up the chard first and sautéed it with lots of garlic, onion, chiles, and some sliced vegan sausage. I tossed it with a grain blend I picked up at Trader Joe’s that included Israeli couscous, orzo, red quinoa, and baby chickpeas, which I cooked in vegetable broth. The combination was wonderful, very homey and comforting, but with lots of great flavors and textures. I plan to use the leftovers to stuff that kabocha squash, and I’m still trying to decide how to enjoy those adorable tindora, so stay tuned.

In the meantime….

Go to Vegan.com for not just one but five chances to win a copy of 1,000 Vegan Recipes. And while you’re there, be sure to check out my Thanksgiving recipes.

What’s Cooking for Thanksgiving?

Is it just me, or is this year really flying by at record speed? I can’t believe Thanksgiving is only three weeks away. If you’re not sure what to make for Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve got some ideas to tell you about.

I already know what I’m making, and you can read all about it (and see a photo) at Vegan.com where I share my menu and recipes for the entire meal. Many of the recipes this year are from 1,000 Vegan Recipes, including Seitan en Croute with Madeira Sauce and Rum-Spiked Sweet Potatoes with Pomegranate Pecans).

For even more holiday dinner options, consider ordering a copy of A Bountiful Vegan Thanksgiving, an e-book compiled by Nava Atlas. It’s filled with holiday recipes contributed by several cookbook authors and bloggers. It includes my recipe for Thyme-Scented Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives and Garlic. Nava is donating profits from this e-book to charities concerned with global women’s issues and world hunger.

Wait, there’s more… The editors at VegNews Magazine have just published their Holiday Cookie Collection. This little e-book is filled with all the flavors of the holiday season, from gingerbread and Chocolate-Orange Macaroons, to Pecan Pie Truffles and Candy Cane Whoopie Pies. (The e-book also includes my recipe for White Chocolate Oatmeal Spice Cookies.)

With all these options available, there’s no excuse for not making a great vegan Thanksgiving feast at your house and goodies throughout the holiday season.

Autumn Vegetable Fritters

Last night’s dinner was a wealth of autumn vegetables: buttercup squash, sweet potatoes, Savoy cabbage, carrots, and onion, all cut into large chunks and roasted together until crisply browned around the edges and tender-sweet inside. I made more than we could reasonably eat at one meal, so for today’s lunch I decided to use the leftover vegetables to make fritters.

They’re so quick and easy to make. Just chop up the cooked vegetables and place them in a bowl. Sprinkle them with all-purpose flour (about 1/3 cup) and season with salt and pepper to taste. I didn’t add any additional herbs or spices because the cooked vegetables were already seasoned, and I wanted their flavors to come though without other influences.

After shaping the vegetable mixture into patties, fry them in a little oil until browned on both sides. That’s all there is to it. I served them with a lightening-quick applesauce I made by shredding a few apples with a box grater and combining them in a saucepan with a little sugar, cinnamon, and a splash of lemon juice. I cooked the applesauce for no more than five minutes, just long enough to warm through and allow the flavors to combine.

The applesauce tasted great with the fritters which were delicious and so gorgeous—the colors of the different vegetables in the fritters reminded me of the vivid autumn leaves gracing the trees this time of year.

More 1,000 Vegan Recipes Sightings:

  • On 10/9, 1,000 Vegan Recipes was a staff pick on VegNews Magazine’s This Just In.
  • On 10/7, the book was also recommended by Erik Marcus on Vegan.com.
  • Also on 10/7, Jenn, of Vegan Dance If You Want To, did a post about one of my favorite recipes in the book, the Soy-tan Dream Cutlets. Made with both tofu and wheat gluten, these tender and tasty cutlets can be used in your favorite seitan or savory tofu recipes.

Book Giveaway on Vegan.com

For a chance to win a copy of Vegan Fire and Spice, go to Vegan.com (the April 25th post: Vegan Fire & Spice Giveaway) where Erik Marcus is giving away three copies of the book. Hurry, though, as the contest closes on Friday, May 1.