It's taken me forever to post this because I spent most of last week with the flu. Ugh. Back to my normal level of awesomeness, I now bring you Thanksgiving dinner!
It's my first year living in Canada and the holidays take a little bit of getting used to. It's a bit weird to me to be celebrating Thanksgiving in October. I can only imagine how odd it's going to be next month when I'm at work on American Thanksgiving in November. Apparently Canada had Thanksgiving first, or so my friend tells me Wikipedia told him. If it's on the internets, it must be true.
I had a great group of friends over for dinner. We ended up with 2 vegan, 2 vegetarians, 3 omnivores and 6 bottles of wine. Everyone ate until they were bursting, finishing every bit of almost everything. There's nothing like the feeling when people are getting second and third helpings of the food you've just spent the better part of a day making. After the food there was great fun with lots of wine and board games. Yay for holidays.
I forgot to take pictures of some of the things that I made, which makes me sad. It just means I'll have to make them again so I can post their greatness. The menu:
Jalapeno Vegan Pate with Whole Grain Crackers
Seitan and Herb Stuffed Mushrooms (from Vegan with a Vengeance)
Acorn Squash and Wild Rice Casserole
Cranberrry Sauce with Oranges and Grand Marnier
Maple-Mustard Glazed Potatoes and String Beans (from Vegan with a Vengeance)
Garlicky Kale with Tahini Dressing (from Vegan with a Vengeance)
Pumpkin Pie Wontons (these kick ass, but they really need some pictures to go along with the recipe, so I'll make sure to make these again so I can post it. Everyone was raving about these. They're so much fun to eat because you can pick them up and eat them with your hands.)
The greatness of the Acorn Squash and Wild Rice Casserole is how it can go from main course to side dish. Whenever I have to go to someone else's house for Thanksgiving or the winter holidays, I always insist on bringing something and I bring this and cranberry sauce. As long as you don't tell anyone that you put seitan or tofu in it, even your crazy redneck relatives will eat it. Then you can get a good giggle when you tell them later what was in it. The side dish for everyone else becomes a main course for you.
Acorn Squash and Wild Rice Casserole
3 Acorn squash
salt & pepper
4 Tbsp margarine
3 Cups cooked wild rice
1 3/4 Cup veg broth
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large ribs celery, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 Tbsp minced fresh sage
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 Cup minced fresh parsley
1 Cup seitan or baked tofu, chopped
3/4 Cup chopped walnuts, toasted
3/4 Cup sweetened dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut each squash in half across the middle. Scoop the seeds and strings out of each half of squash. You'll probably need to cut a little bit off of the top and bottom of each half so that it will sit upright when you put them on the baking sheet. Once you've got that all situated, place all 6 halves in a baking pan or on a rimmed cookie sheet. Sprinkle each half with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg. Dot each half with some margarine. Cover the pan with foil and bake the squash about 30 minutes. You can do this part a day ahead if you need to.
Go ahead and start cooking your rice while you're chopping the veggies and stuff. When I made my seitan this time, I added some fresh sage and oregano before I cooked it for some extra flavor. Chop the seitan about the size it is in this picture.
In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot for about 3 minutes. Cover the pan, adjust the heat to medium-low and cook the veggies for about another 5 minutes longer. Add the sage, thyme and parsley and saute for another minute or so.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, sauteed veggies, seitan (or tofu), walnuts and cranberries. Peel the squash and cut it into large chunks. Gently it mix in with the rice mixture. Cover with foil. Bake at 350F until heated through, about 20-25 minutes.
If you're feeling fancy, you can stuff the squash halves with the rice mixture and serve one to each person. I do it like this sometimes and like a casserole other times depending on what kind of mood I'm in. If you're going to stuff the squash, mound the rice mixture into the squash halves, dividing it evenly. Cut about 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces. Dot each stuffed squash with butter. Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Cranberry Sauce with Oranges and Grand Marnier
1 bag of cranberries
1 Cup of water
3/4 - 1 Cup of sugar
1/4 Cup Grand Marnier, optional
2 oranges or tangerines
Rinse the cranberries and throw out any bad ones. In a large soup pot, combine the cranberries, water, sugar and Grand Marnier. Most people use the 1 cup sugar/1 cup water/1 bag of cranberries recipe, but I don't like my cranberry sauce to be that sweet so I only use about 3/4 of a cup of sugar.
I'm a masochist, so I cut the segments out of the oranges and put it in the pot. If you don't want to do that, you can always substitute orange juice for some of the water. If you substitute the orange juice for water, you'll probably want to decrease the sugar a little bit so it's not too sweet.
Turn the burner on medium-high. Stir everything up until the sugar is dissolved. When the berries start popping, lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Stirring often, cook for about 30 minutes.
If you don't like whole berry cranberry sauce, you can strain this through some cheesecloth and you'll get something like that jellied stuff from a can except not as crappy.