Monday, November 16, 2015

Vegan Thanksgiving Survival Guide!

Maybe this is your first Thanksgiving as a vegan. Or maybe this year, the rest of your family has decided to come to your house for a cruelty free holiday and you are freaking out about how to make a meal to make converts out of all of them. Or maybe you just want an easy Thanksgiving dinner you can have on the table in about an hour. In any case, I'm here to help. I'll share some of my own recipes, and point you to a few of my favorite vegan bloggers out there who have done a damn fine job of making incredibly tasty Thanksgiving treats.

First, let's tackle those of you who have zero desire to spend all day in the kitchen on Thanksgiving, or aren't quite confident to make everything from scratch. This Thanksgiving meal will make it onto the table in under an hour using a combination of store-bought products with a few home-made touches to bring it all together. I served this meal last year to a family of omnivores, and everyone was happy! And if you want a centerpiece, instead of the cutlets, consider the Vegetarian Plus Whole Vegan Turkey, complete with butthole for stuffing. Haha. (Read about it, along with an idea on what to do with the leftovers, here.)

And then there's the appetizers. Because before the largest meal of the year, you need to have snacks, right? Right. Around my family, everyone used to love a tray full of deviled eggs, and just because we're vegan, doesn't mean we don't want them anymore. I've made a few varieties, but the Bedeviled Eggless Eggs from the Gentle Chef is truly spectacular. This year I'm going way back to a cheeseball I made for a potluck full of artists, poets, writers, and such. I had never met these folks, and wanted to make sure I made a good impression. It was not a vegan potluck, so I was a bit nervous serving up a ball of flavored tofu, but as it turned out, it was a crowd favorite. This one is also really easy, and packs some holiday flavor in there with the currants and walnuts.

Walnut and Currant Veganzola
*Under thirty minutes
Who says vegans can’t have cheese balls? Seriously, these are very, very cheese-like. You don’t have to form them into balls, of course, but what a presentation! At a cocktail party or get together…so sophisticated. Besides spreading on crackers, this also tastes amazing crumbled over a green salad, or dare I say, as a sandwich spread?

10 ounces (280 g) extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (16 g) flax seed meal mixed with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) warm water
1 tablespoon (18 g) white miso
2 teaspoons (10 g) minced garlic
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 cup (120 g) walnut pieces, broken into small pieces
1/2 cup (80 g) currants
Salt and pepper to taste

In a mixing bowl, crumble your tofu until it resembles ricotta cheese. Add in olive oil, flax seed mixture, miso, garlic and liquid smoke. Mash together until uniform. Mix in walnut pieces and currants. Form into two equal balls, form into a log, or simply place in a bowl.

Yield: 2 balls

Next, let me show you a tried and true centerpiece that has been a reader favorite (and a personal favorite!) for years. This recipe was originally published in 500 Vegan Recipes and the complete recipe can be found here. I've also heard from lots of readers that add a layer of mushrooms between the seitan and the puff pastry crust to make it more of a Wellington. This dish is not only tasty, but pretty easy to make, too! But you can tell all of your friends and family you spent hours upon hours working up a sweat in the kitchen making it. They'll believe you, I promise!

Onto the sides! There is one thing I love about Thanksgiving more than anything else in the world...and that's stuffing. If I could make Thanksgiving dinner only out of different types of stuffing, then I would. As it is, I usually make at least three different varieties. There are a million recipes for bread stuffing out there. Julie Hasson's Thanksgiving Stuffing Casserole is top notch and can be made gluten free if that's your jam, and so is Amber from Fettle Vegan's Cranberry Apple Walnut Stuffing, because fruit and nuts are almost required in a good stuffing if you ask me. But if you want something totally different, try my take on Greek Stuffing. Traditionally, this dish is made with loads of butter and ground beef, my Better Homes and Garden award winning version uses seitan instead. If seitan isn't really your thing, or you are gluten sensitive, you can replace the seitan with tempeh or TVP. Avoiding soy as well? No problem, replace with chopped an sautéed mushrooms. Don't want a fungus among us? Alright then, how about some chickpeas? Seriously, though, this wild rice based stuffing filled with golden raisins and pine nuts will be super flavorful with whatever protein you choose.

Greek Stuffing
Try this Mediterranean version of a traditional dressing at your next holiday get-together.
The cinnamon gives this savory stuffing a unique and lovely flavor.

2 1/2 cups (400 g) uncooked wild rice blend
2 cubes (18 g) vegetable bouillon
3 cups (24 ounces, 680 g) seitan, diced or 1 recipe Basic Seitan Crumbles (page XX)
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups (320 g) diced yellow onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (9 g) ground cinnamon
1 cup (120 g) golden raisins
1/4 cup (66 g) tomato paste
1 cup (120 g) toasted pine nuts
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

Prepare rice, according to package instructions adding bouillon cubes to the water.
Cook seitan, or other meat substitute, in a separate pan in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, until browned.
Use about 1/2 of the olive oil in a large pan (I used a wok) and sauté the onions and garlic on medium high heat for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant. Reduce heat, add the seitan or crumbles, then all other ingredients to the pan, mix well and remove from heat.
After rice is fully cooked, add to the sautéed ingredients along with the remaining olive oil and mix it all together.

Yield: 10 servings

Brussels Sprouts are another favorite of mine at the Thanksgiving table, and they can be made a hundred different ways from Sunday, including my simple Garlic and Mustard Roasted Brussel's Sprouts or Jackie from Vegan Yack Attack's Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Raisin Vinaigrette. This year I'm stepping out of the traditional flavor box and going with my Garlic Orange Brussels Sprouts from Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen.

Garlic Orange Brussels Sprouts
*Quick and Easy
*Nut Free
Don't like brussells sprouts? Please try these ones. They might just make you a believer.

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 pound (454 g) fresh brussels sprouts, cut in half
1 cup (235 ml) Garlic Orange Sauce

In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add shallots brussels sprouts cut side down in a single layer and saute, about 5 minutes, until fragrant and tender and edges of sprouts begin to brown.
Flip and cook another five minutes.
Add in sauce and toss to coat.
Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

And then you are left to figure out what to do with all the leftovers...if there are any. And that's where this bad boy comes in. A burger made from all your leftovers! Below is the basic recipe, from The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet, and to be honest, I would totally just make this on Thanksgiving if it were just the man and me, but you guys can pretty much squash all of your leftovers (stuffing, brussels, potatoes, seitan, green beans, corn) into this thing to make it even more delicious. And if you have any cranberry sauce leftover? Yeah, use a big old schmear of that on the bun. Can it be the day after Thanksgiving yet, please?

All-the-Fixins' Holiday Burgers
This here burger was the brainchild of my bestest friend, Jen. She said if I could pack an entire Thanksgiving dinner into a burger, she would be in heaven. So, I gave it a shot. Invited her over and had her test it out. She said it was like crack. So, there you have it. If you're in the mood for Thanksgiving, make it. It's also a good way to use up "real" Thanksgiving leftovers.

1 tablespoon (14 g) non-dairy butter
1 cup (160 g) diced onion
2 tablespoons (30 g) garlic, minced
4 cups (900 g) prepared mashed potatoes (Skin on adds more texture to the burgers)
4 cups (800 g) prepared stuffing or dressing
1 can (14 ounces, or 392 g) can of cut green beans, drained (or leftover green beans)
1 cup (96 g) French's French Fried Onions (Seriously, would it be Thanksgiving without them?)
salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying, optional

In a skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter, add the onion and garlic, and sauté until just beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
Transfer to a bowl, add the potatoes, stuffing, green beans, fried onions, and salt and pepper to taste. Knead to combine.
Form into 8 patties. Cook as desired.
Panfry in oil for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until crispy and golden, or bake at 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4), on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat, for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Everything is already cooked—you just need to heat them up!

Yield: 8 big ol' burgers

Oh, you probably thought I forgot about dessert! Nah, I wouldn't do that to you. I mean what's Thanksgiving without Pumpkin Pie? Hmpft. I'd rather have another serving of mashed potatoes than a slice of pie any day, but since it is tradition, and your family will probably lock you in the basement if you don't provide some pie, you can always make this Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie, which is totes easy to make, and super rich and decadent. Or try out this super impressive recipe for Pumpkin Pie Ravioli Spheres by Erin over at Olives For Dinner. Or go with Mary of Nom Yourself's Salted Caramel Apple Pumpkin Pie (umm what?!?) if you really want to go big. 

Or, step out of that box once again for these fun and easy handheld pie bites. Originally published in Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites (now known as Home Cooked Vegan Comfort Food), you can fill it with pretty much anything. The original is made with a can of cherry pie filling, and that tastes great, but feel free to use apple pie or pumpkin pie filling to keep a little bit of tradition here.

Crispy Glazed Cherry Pie Bites
If you thought puff pastry was tasty when it was baked, just wait until you try it deep fried and then glazed! This simple list of ingredients will yield such amazing results you will hardly believe it was so easy.

Vegetable oil for frying
1 package (1 pound, or 454 g) vegan puff pastry
1 can (15 ounces, or 420 g) pitted cherries in heavy syrup (or vegan cherry pie filling)
2 cups (240 g) powdered sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) soymilk

If you have a deep fryer, this is a great time to use it. If not, a pot filled with 4-inches (10 cm) of oil heated to 350°F (180°C) will work perfectly.
Thaw puff pastry according to package instructions.
Cut your sheet into 16 rectangles measuring approximately 5-inches x 3-inches (12.5 cm x 7.5 cm).
Create a pocket by folding 1 rectangle in half and sealing the 2 outer edges with the tines of a fork leaving an opening at the top.
Add 3 cherries into the pocket and seal the top.
Add 2 pie bites at a time to the oil and fry for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes then carefully flip and cook an additional 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or until puffy, golden and crispy.
Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
Repeat until all 16 pie bites are fried.
In a small bowl whisk together powdered sugar with the soymilk until smooth.
Dip each bite in the glaze and place on a wire rack to cool and dry completely.
Make sure to place a kitchen towel or paper towels underneath your rack to catch the dripping glaze.

Yield: 16 bite sized pies

Well, I think that just about covers it! If you need any help or are looking for more ideas for Thanksgiving dishes, leave a comment below, or shoot me an email! I'd love to help. One of the things I am most thankful for is the opportunity all of you have given me to share my vegan creations with you. Thanks.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Hot, Sweet, and Sour Seitan Ribs with Lemongrass Bones

It's #ThrowbackThursday so I thought I'd throw it back to these amazing ribs from Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen. This was one of those recipes that gave me goosebumps. It's one of those things that my dad would eat. And he never likes to eat "weird vegan food." So, that, my folks, is a vote of approval if I've ever seen one.

Hot, Sweet, and Sour Sauce
*Quick and Easy     *Low Fat     *Nut Free
This sauce works well as a dipping sauce, tossed with your favorite protein to coat, and is an essential ingredient in the Hot, Sweet, and Sour Seitan Ribs with Lemongrass Bones.

2 cups (470 ml) pineapple juice
1/4 cup (68 g) ketchup
2 tablespoons (30 ml) soy sauce
2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice
1 tablespoon (15 ml) rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) Sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 cup (32 g) cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup (120 ml) cold water to make a slurry

In a pot, stir together all the ingredients except the cornstarch slurry, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in the slurry and remove from the heat. Stir to thicken.
Keep warm until ready to use, or pour in to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Yield: 3 cups (705 ml)

Hot, Sweet, and Sour Seitan Ribs with Lemongrass Bones
*Nut Free
The lemongrass used for the “bones” in these ribs gives a nice citrusy aroma to the seitan, besides looking eerily like the real thing. I know this looks like a long list of ingredients, but it comes together pretty easily, with lots of downtime.

3 cups (432 g) vital wheat gluten flour
1/2 cup (60 g) whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup (30 g) nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (160 g) diced yellow onion
1/2 cup (50 g) diced scallion
1 tablespoon (10 g) minced garlic
2 cups (470 ml) Hot, Sweet, and Sour Sauce, divided
1 cup (235 ml) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
2 tablespoons (34 g) ketchup
2 tablespoons (30 ml) sesame oil
1 tablespoon (15 g) Chinese hot mustard or Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
5 stalks lemongrass

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the vital wheat gluten flour, whole wheat pastry flour, nutritional yeast, red pepper flakes, salt, yellow onion, scallion, and garlic.
In a separate bowl whisk together 1 cup (235 ml) of the Hot, Sweet, and Sour Sauce, water, soy sauce, olive oil, ketchup, sesame oil, hot mustard, Sriracha, and liquid smoke. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix until combined. Knead in the bowl until a very elastic dough is formed. Some of the onions will fall out. That’s okay. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Try to flatten the pieces of dough into a rectangular shape and place on the baking sheet. The dough is still very elastic, making this step fairly difficult, and that is normal. Allow to rest for an additional 20 minutes.
While the dough is resting, remove any dirty outer layers from the lemongrass and cut each stalk into 4 equal pieces (20 pieces total).
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4).
Once again, attempt to form the dough into rectangles. It should be a little easier this time, as the gluten should have relaxed a little by this point. Push 5 stalks of the lemongrass through each piece of dough, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Repeat until all 4 pieces each have 5 bones. Brush each “rack” of ribs with a generous layer of the remaining 1 cup (235 ml) Hot, Sweet, and Sour Sauce on both sides.
Gather up all of the onions that have fallen out of the dough and sprinkle them on top of the ribs (they will stick to the sauce). Cover the entire pan loosely with foil, to create a steam tent. Bake for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, remove from the oven, remove the foil, flip, brush on another thick layer of sauce, and return to the oven for 30 more minutes, uncovered. The outside crust should be tough and caramelized from the sugars in the sauce, giving the ribs a nice meaty bite, but the insides will be soft, tender, and chewy. Remove from the oven and brush on a final layer of sauce before serving. Do not eat the lemongrass bones.

Yield: 4 racks of ribs

Monday, October 5, 2015

This Burger is NUTS! A Great Vegan Nut Book Sneak Preview

Maybe you haven't heard the news? The amazing Celine Steen and I have teamed up yet again to bring you a book that is totally nuts! No seriously. It's totally and completely 100% all about nuts. We are just putting the finishing touches on this bad boy that will be known as The Great Vegan Nut Book.

Nuts are pretty awesome, aren't they? I mean, sure, you can snack on them, or even throw them on top of a salad. But, we wanted to share how nuts could be used as the star of the meal...not as an afterthought.  This book should be out in early 2016 and I will make sure to share with you as soon as it is available for preorder.  I thought I would give y'all a sneak preview of one of the recipes this beautiful #MeatlessMonday. Please feel free to share!

This Burger is NUTS!
Nuts and seeds: Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts, and Sunflower Seeds

Protein packed and full of earthy nutt-y flavor, this burger stands up well to many types of cuisine, so feel free to dress it up as you wish, or in other words…go nuts!

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil, plus more for frying (optional)
8 ounces (227 g) mushrooms, sliced or chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup (180 ml) vegetable broth
1 cup (100 g) prepared brown rice
1/4 cup (28 g) cashews, chopped
1/4 cup (32 g) sunflower seeds
1/4 cup (27 g) pecans, chopped
1/4 cup (30 g) walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup (30 g) nutritional yeast
1/2 cup (72 g) vital wheat gluten flour
1 tablespoon (8 g) ground mustard
1 tablespoon (8 g) onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy-bottom skillet, heat the oil and sauté the mushrooms and garlic for 5 to 7 minutes, or until fragrant and translucent. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Add the rice, nuts, and seeds. Mix well, cover, and remove from the heat. Let sit for 10 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, add the nutritional yeast, gluten flour, ground mustard, onion powder, and salt and pepper to taste and mix well using your hands. Place in the fridge to cool for about 20 minutes. This will help the dough stiffen up a bit. Form into 4 to 8 patties, depending on preference.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4). Line a baking sheet with parchment, or a reusable silicon baking mat. Arrange patties on the mat, and bake for 25 minutes. Flip and bake an additional 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can pan fry these burgers in a bit of oil for 4 to 5 minutes per side until crispy and golden.

Yield: 4 (1/2 pound, or 227g) patties or 8 (1/4 pound, or 114 g) patties

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2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, or remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni