Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Feast: Vegan stuffing

I hosted a vegan Thanksgiving at my house this year. There were 13 people total and a large variety of dishes. Unfortunately, I was so caught up with cooking and serving that I forgot to take pictures of the food (once again). My guests brought food as well, but this is what I prepared: 

Sweet potato biscuits with cranberry spread
Shiitake gravy
Stuffing with apples, dried cranberries, mushrooms, pecans, walnuts and pineapple**
Seitan roast*
Zesty corn pudding
Herb, matzo and panko encrusted tofu cutlets
Cranberry sauce with apples and pecans
Pumpkin soup with curry, ginger and coconut milk
Brandy spiked-spiced hot apple cider

*I found an awesome recipe for a seitan roast. It turned out extremely soft and my meat-eating guests were very pleased with their turkey replacement. This seitan took many hours to prepare, but it was worth it. I made the version with tofu (not beans) and when I re-heated it I made a marinade of sesame oil and a mixture of herbs and dry spices. 


In a skillet, saute the following with olive oil until soft: 

- 2 handfuls of sliced mushrooms
- 2 celery stalks finely chopped

In a large mixing bowl add the following: 

- 10 ounces of herb flavored breadcrumbs***
-2 scallions finely chopped
-1 handful pecans finely copped
-1 handful walnuts finely chopped
-1 large can of pineapple (pour juice in bowl, chop pineapple if in large chunks)
-1 handful of dried cranberries
- 1 large apple chopped into little pieces (I always leave the skin on the apple)
-the sautéed mushrooms and celery
-1 cup of faux chicken stock 
-3 teaspoons of sesame oil

Mix thoroughly. If mixture isn't wet enough, add more stock. Place stuffing in baking dish and cover. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 50 minutes. Uncover after 15-20 minutes. Bake until top is crunchy but not dried out. 

***I don't like making my own bread crumbs. If you're like me, you've probably hunted high and low for vegan breadcrumbs. I found some at my local grocery store by Arrowhead Mills, however they only started carrying them days before the holiday. 

****I LOVE Trader Joe's cornbread mix. Instead of eggs, I use flaxseed meal that's whipped with water and I sub the milk for soy milk. Quick, easy and tastes really yummy. 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Spinach and Beet Salad with an Asian Twist

My husband and I have decided that we need to eat more salads. I pack our lunches for work, so in the morning I'm pressed for time to be creative with our salad and have enough time to chop the veggies. I've always been grossed out by salad dressing and generally opt out. However, as I've been creating these salads in the morning, I've also concocted homemade dressings to compliment their flavor.

I've made various versions of this salad, so you can be creative with your ingredients too.

Key Ingredients
~Fresh spinach leaves*
~Sliced or quartered beets** (pre-cooked and cold)

Optional Ingredients (all, some or none)
~Cucumber (chopped into bite size pieces)
~Red Bell Pepper (chopped into bite size pieces)
~Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
~Dried cranberries
~Toasted sesame seeds
~Seaweed Flakes***
~Slices of cooked tofu or tempeh
~Wasabi Peas

--Add ingredients in a small mixing bowl or a large measuring cup.
--Whisk ingredients together until it becomes a smooth liquid.
--Keep in mind that dressing adds unwanted calories and fat to your salad so don't go crazy with it. Try to limit yourself to 3 spoonfuls.

~Rice wine vinegar
~Crushed ginger****
~Sesame oil (this stuff adds a ton of flavor, but a lot of fat/calories too - use sparingly)
~Sweet chili sauce (this stuff is full of sugar, so go light on it - you can use either the red or orange chili sauce)
~Miso paste (Miso is salty, so don't go nuts with it - this ingredient is optional)
~Red pepper flakes (optional for extra spice)


*To prepare your salads faster, buy spinach that is pre-washed

**Check your supermarket for pre-cooked beets that are vacuum sealed. Trader Joe's sells these and they're an awesome deal. Otherwise, cook your beets ahead of time and refrigerate.

***Seaweed flakes come plain or mixed with other things such as sesame seeds and/or wasabi, etc. Asian markets typically carry a variety.

****For fast use, buy a container of crushed ginger. It is extremely handy and can be used in a wide variety of dishes.