Showing posts with label Thanksgiving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thanksgiving. Show all posts

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Simple Brown Gravy

I just realized that I said I'd post a simple brown gravy recipe and then never did. Oops. I don't have any pictures of, but it pretty much looks like you'd expect a brown gravy to look. This is great to go with the Vegan Holiday Roast or stuffing or pretty much anything you need gravy for.

Here is a picture of two of my cats instead. These two are sisters and I always catch them snuggling. This was probably one of the funniest contortions they've been in.


Here's the great thing about this gravy. You can make it just bare bones and it tastes great or you can add a thing or two to jazz it up a bit if you want. I like to add mushrooms to mine so I'm going to give you the recipe with the mushrooms added. If you don't like mushrooms or don't want to do that, just leave them out. Add some fresh herbs if you want. Thyme, marjoram or sage would be nice with this. Also, if you're out of vegetable broth you can either add in some broth powder with water or just use water instead.

Brown Gravy

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3/4 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup flour
3 cups vegetable broth
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce

Saute the onion, garlic and mushrooms in the oil over medium heat until the onions are transluscent, about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the broth and water and whisk in the flour.

Slowly add the flour mixture to the pot with the onions and mushrooms. Turn the heat up to medium-high and stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer, still stirring often as your gravy starts to thicken. Add the soy sauce and cook for about 5 more minutes.

Remove from heat and blend the gravy until it's almost smooth. (Or make it totally smooth if you don't want any bits of onions and mushrooms in your gravy.) An immersion blender is great for this but if you don't have one, a blender or food processor would be fine.

Return the gravy to the pot and cook for another 10-15 minutes as your gravy finishes thickening. Whisk in some more water if you find it's getting too thick.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vegan Holiday Roast

I've had quite a few requests for the Vegan Holiday Roast recipe, so here it is! I originally got this online but the recipe isn't there when I go back to my bookmark. I can't remember exactly what it was called before, so Vegan Holiday Roast, it is! Luckily, I have a little notebook where I copy down recipes from the internet, so I still have it.


I've been making this for just over 4 years now and it's been a hit every single time. Even the omnivores end up having seconds. Personally, I think that one of the keys to success with this is to have a really delicious gravy with it. My favorite for the past couple of years is the Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy from Vegan with a Vengeance. If you don't want to bother with making your own gravy, the Simply Organic Mushroom Sauce packets are quite good. You'll just want to make sure to buy 3-4 packets so you have enough for the entire roast. I'll put up a brown gravy recipe tomorrow if you want something that's more traditional.

You can make this roast stuffed or not. I've never made it not stuffed, but I imagine it would be sort of like a big slab of seitan if you did it that way. Not that this is a bad thing, necessarily but for me, I think part of what's great about is that it doesn't seem so heavy with the stuffing in the middle and it's not nearly as scary for any non-veg*ns you might be eating with. If you're not going to stuff this, you can just put it in a loaf pan to bake if you want it to retain its shape. Otherwise, you can just form it a loaf shape and put it in a baking pan like you'll do with the stuffed one.

If you're stuffing this, and I think you should, you can always use my stuffing recipe. It's fast and super easy and tastes great with this roast.

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Vegan Holiday Roast

roast:
2 cups wheat gluten
1/2 cup soy or chickpea flour
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
12oz firm tofu
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil

broth: (use 1 1/2 times the amount of broth if you're stuffing the roast)
2 1/3 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon each, fresh chopped sage, thyme and rosemary

Preheat your oven to 325 F.

Mix the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the tofu, water, soy sauce and olive oil to a food processor and blend until combined. Add the dry mixture to the food processor. Mix it until a ball forms.

If you're not stuffing this, form into two loaves and place them in a baking pan.

If you are stuffing this (my favorite way), divide the dough in half. Roll out half onto a clean surface using a wet rolling pin. You want to make about a 15" circle. Mound 3 1/2 cups stuffing in the middle. Fold dough up and around the stuffing into a loaf shape, pinching to seal. Repeat with the second half of the dough and place your loaves into a baking pan.

Pour 1/2 cup of broth over the top of your roasts and cover the pan with foil. Bake for 30 minutes and remove the foil. Add half of the remaining broth. Bake for another 30 minutes, basting occasionally. Remove the pan from the oven and flip the loaves over. (I usually need to use two spatulas together to do this without tearing the roasts.) Pour the remaining broth over the loaves and bake for 30 more minutes, basting often.

Your roasts should completely soak up the broth by the end of the cooking time. If they don't (and mine rarely do), just cook in 30 minute increments, basting every 10 minutes or so until there is little or no broth left. I usually end up needing another 60 minutes.

Remove the roasts from the pans, let cool for at least 5 minutes then slice it up and serve.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Green Bean Casserole and the Rest of Thanksgiving 2011

Mostly I want to post the recipe for my green bean casserole, but I thought I'd also give the rest of Thanksgiving dinner a bit of time in the spotlight.


I make this homemade vegan roast every year at Thanksgiving. Even the omnivores get seconds, sometimes even thirds. It's quite good. I found the recipe online. (Edit: The recipe page isn't online anymore, but I have it written down. If anyone wants it, let me know and I'll do another post with the recipe.) (Edit: You can get the Vegan Holiday Roast recipe here.) I found that it needs about an hour longer of cooking time than it says to soak up all of the broth. Keep that in mind if you make it. It's so good and everyone will think you're a genius for making it.


I found the recipe for these Harvest Pies over at Vegan Dad's blog. I wish I had taken some photos of them without the tops on. They're full of butternut squash and potatoes and carrots and stuff. I think tempeh would be a great addition to theses as well. I'm going to try that the next time I make them. These are especially good with a bit of gravy.


Speaking of gravy... what Thanksgiving would be complete without it?! Stuffing and gravy are two of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal. I've started making the Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy from Vegan with a Vengeance every year. The first time I made it, I was in heaven. I could probably eat this gravy with a spoon by itself and be happy. Quite a few people commented on the tastiness of the gravy this year, too. The only thing I do differently from the recipe is puree it. I like my gravy smooth so I stick my immersion blender in at the end and puree the heck out of it.


The mashed potatoes are almost gone! You know how to make mashed potatoes, I don't need to tell you. My secret ingredients are Earth Balance and vegetable broth. Yum!


And now for the green bean casserole! James was nice enough to top and tail them for me while I was doing other things... like finishing up that Sm'love Pie you see in the background there. The thing that makes my casserole special is the homemade mushroom soup. It's not hard to make and it freezes well so you can always make it in advance or make a double batch and stash some in the freezer for a rainy day. I also find it quite delicious on its own. You can make cream of pretty much anything using this recipe. Just substitute the mushrooms for whatever you like. Cream of asparagus, anyone?



Green Bean Casserole

Note: If you're making this for a crowd, double the recipe to fill a large rectangular baking dish. That's what I did for Thanksgiving. You might end up with some leftover soup, especially if you double it. I usually just freeze it and eat it later as a soup with some asparagus or something added to it.


3 cups of green beans, topped and tailed and cut in half (I'm guessing here. Use however many fill a small 8" square baking dish. When I buy them from the market they come in bags, so I usually just buy one bag for a little bit and 2 bags for double this.)
Cream of Mushroom Soup (recipe below)
1 can of fried onions

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Mix the green beans, the soup and 3/4 of the can of friend onions and pour it all into an 8" square baking dish. Top with the remaining fried onions. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes before eating.

Cream of Mushroom Soup

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least an hour, up to overnight
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
half a head of cauliflower, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 generous handful of oyster mushrooms, chopped
1 generous handful of another kind of mushroom, your choice, chopped
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon white pepper, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt (you might want to leave this out if your broth is salted)

 Add the broth and cashews to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. This will probably take from 2-5 minutes. Set aside.

Saute the mushrooms over medium heat in their own pan for about 5 minutes then turn off the heat and set them aside. You'll use them in a minute.

Add the olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add the onion and cauliflower. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and saute for another minute. Add in about 3/4 of the mushrooms, the cashew mixture, water, bay leaves, thyme, pepper and salt. Stir everything up and cover your pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves. If you have an immersion blender, stick it in the pot and blend until everything is pretty smooth. If you're using a food processor or blender, puree the soup in batches, being careful not to burn yourself and also being careful to let the steam escape as you're doing it or you'll have a big mess on your hands. Now add in the remaining 1/4 of your mushrooms. Taste for salt and add more if you think you need it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lemon Cream Pie and Other Stories

I can't quite remember which year I started this, but it's a tradition for Thanksgiving to have 3 pies, now. I always make the Sm'love pie every year because everyone always asks about it and then proceeds to get this blissed look on their faces while eating it. Who am I to deprive people of their chocolatey Thanksgiving goodness? I try and shake it up a bit with the other two, though. I like to do one fruit pie of some type and the other can be whatever I feel like making at the time.

All that was left of the Lemon Cream Pie at the end of the night

How can you not love the Sm'love Pie?

I've made my award-winning Hazelnut Apple Cider Pie two years in a row because it was requested this year. That's kind of awesome, actually. I couldn't find any pink lady apples so I had to make do with Granny Smith apples instead. It was still great, I just prefer the pink ladies for my pies. They have such a great combination of sweet and tart and crisp.


I actually ended up having to send James to the store at the last minute to get more apples for me. I wasn't paying attention when I was simmering the apples in the cider and all of a sudden I had applesauce. Well, not all of a sudden, more like 20 minutes too long while I sat on the couch checking my email with one of the cats in my lap. What a bummer. Now I have to find things to eat applesauce with for the next few weeks to use it up. I put it all in jars and then realized that I didn't add any lemon juice so it won't be shelf-stable. Dang it.



The remnants of the Hazelnut Apple Cider Pie

For the third pie, I wanted to do a lemon cream pie. I got inspired by the Coconut Cream Topping that Vegan Dad made.  For some reason I was thinking the coconut cream would get super fluffy and it didn't really. It wasn't runny or anything, though. I think next time I might try adding a bit of arrowroot or cornstarch or something and beating it for a long time to see if I can get it any stiffer. Experimenting can be delicious! Also, I know that sometimes when you buy cans of coconut milk it's separated into milk and cream in the can, but mine wasn't like that this time so I just chucked it all at the beginning of the recipe and it seemed to turn out fine. So if you make this and have that same thing happen, don't worry, it's all good.

I used to love my Grandma's lemon meringue pie when I was a kid; though I remember loving the lemon part way more than the meringue. I'm going to have to do a bit more experimenting to get the lemon part of the pie a bit more like Grandma's was but this was still quite good. I got the recipe from the Fat Free Vegan Blog. I noticed that a few people commented that the recipe was too sweet as is and I generally like things less sweet than most people so I heeded their warning and reduced the sugar a bit. I ran some lemons through the juicer for fresh juice and I think that really made quite the difference, too. Oh, did I mention that there's no baking at all involved in making this pie? Just heating up some stuff on the stove and then refrigerating!

I only have two large pie dishes so I ended up using a springform pan for my lemon cream pie. You can use whichever you like, but the pie dish is probably best if you expect to have leftovers.


It looks so cute just out of the springform pan, but I still think a pie plate would be best.

Copied and Pasted, here is the recipe for the lemon cream pie:

Make whatever kind of pie crust you like. I just used a graham cracker crust. Just get some graham cracker crumbs (about 1 3/4 cup) and add a few tablespoons of canola or coconut oil. Mix with a fork until the graham cracker crumbs are all moist and hold together. Add more oil one tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition if you find your crumbs are still too dry.

Lemon Pie Filling (reposted from the Fat Free Vegan Blog)

1 1/2 cups sugar (I only used 1 cup)
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup water
1 cup non-dairy milk
3/4 cup lemon juice
grated rind of 2 lemons (about 2 Tbsp.)


Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in saucepan. Stir in water and soymilk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and slowly add the lemon juice and grated rind.

Pour into a pie crust and chill for a couple of hours until set.

Coconut Cream Topping (reposted from the Vegan Dad blog)

1 can coconut milk
1 tablespoon agar flakes or 1 teaspoon agar powder
3 tablespoons sugar (I ended up using 6 tablespoons of sugar total to get it sweet enough)
1 teaspoon vanilla


Separate coconut cream from coconut milk and add the milk (i.e. the watery stuff) to a small saucepan. Sprinkle afar flakes over and let sit for 5 mins.  Add sugar and bring to bubbling over med hi heat, whisking constantly.  Cook for 3-5 mins, or until all the agar has dissolved.

Remove from heat and whisk in cream and vanilla.  Adjust sugar to taste then pour into a bowl, cover, and place into the fridge.  Allow to fully cool.

When ready to use, whisk the cooled mixture and spread over your pie.  Place pie back into the fridge until ready to serve.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Bounty

I have another Thanksgiving dinner to go to this evening and I've pretty much spent most of the day chilling out after cooking for 2 and a half days. More recipes later in the week. For now, check out what we had for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday.


Green Bean Casserole and Homemade Tofurkey


Harvest Pies, Cranberry Sauce and Stuffing


Kale, Mashed Potatoes and Chickpea Gravy


Lemon Cream Pie, Hazelnut Apple Cider Pie and Sm'love Pie

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

I found local cranberries at the farmers market this year! So cool. I don't think I've ever had cranberries that didn't come in a little bag. Apparently BC is one of the largest producers of cranberries. The things you learn when buying produce.


If you don't know how to make cranberry sauce, it's simple. 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar and a bag of cranberries. Mix it all together in a big pot over medium high heat and cover it, stirring occasionally. As soon as it starts to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring every now and then. Remove from heat and chill.


You can add all kinds of different things to change the flavor if you want. I like to add orange juice instead of some of the water and some orange segments. Though that part's a pain in the butt because you have to open up each little segment of orange and get rid of the white stuff that holds it together. It tastes good, though! Some people add maple syrup or cinnamon sticks to theirs. Try it and see what you like. Once you try homemade cranberry sauce you won't want to buy that canned stuff again.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Super Fast and Easy Anything Goes Stuffing

Thanksgiving rocks. I think it might be my favorite holiday. That probably has nothing to do with how much I love cooking and having people over. When I moved to Canada from the US, it took some adjustment to get used to Thanksgiving being in October with only a 3-day weekend! I still pine for a crisp Thursday in November being the holiday.


I would always take Wednesday off as well so I could start cooking the day before. Hello, 5-day weekend. Or is that even a weekend anymore at that point? No matter, it was awesome. I always made a point to stay in on Black Friday but that is usually the day I'd start decorating for the winter holidays. Actually, sometimes I'd even start putting up my tree and decorating it after Thanksgiving dessert. I'm sure my guests were quite amused that I'd get so excited to do that, but hey - it's the little things sometimes, right?

Chestnuts ready to go into the oven

So Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend. People up here don't tend to stick to actual day to celebrate like we did in the US. That actually makes it easier, anyway. I have my dinners on Sundays so I can spend Monday eating leftovers and doing nothing that requires me to be on my feet like I am for the two days previous. I'm taking a break with a glass of wine to write this right now. I have a more things to make tonight so tomorrow's not too slammed. Vegan MoFo has given me a great excuse to come sit down for a bit. I don't typically stop moving until the very end of the evening when I'm about to fall into bed. So yay, MoFo for that!

I'm usually so bad about remembering to take photos of things for Thanksgiving, but I've been doing alright with it this year. I want to make a separate post about everything I'm making. Tonight, let's talk stuffing!


I make a homemade vegan roast and I actually do use this to stuff it, but I'll also serve some of it just in a dish on the side. I used to always buy those bags of super dry bread cubes and then try to make something wonderful out of it. I've actually discovered that I like stuffing better made from fresh bread. It's quite easy and takes almost no time. If you've never done it, try it sometime. The texture is a bit different, but that's because your stuffing is already moist and you're not trying to soak up everything with it.


No more hard stuffing! Sprouted grain bread is especially great for this.

Another great thing about my stuffing recipe is that you can pretty much add whatever you want to it and it tastes good. Though I don't know if you want to take me too literally and start adding weird things like peaches or something. That might not be the best. I typically always use onions or shallots, carrots, celery, chestnuts and shitake mushrooms in mine. For the herbs, I'll just grab whatever looks freshest. I went to the farmers market this morning and bought savory, thyme, sage and rosemary so that's what I'm using for this particular batch.

Roasted and peeled chestntus

I'm a huge fan of chestnuts in stuffing. They really add a bit of an extra punch of deliciousness. They're just slightly sweet while still being savory enough to blend in well with everything else. The texture is a bit softer than the carrots and celery while not being as soft as the bread. If you can't get fresh chestnuts, you can use canned ones, it's totally fine. Sometimes it can be hard to find fresh ones and when you do, sometimes they're old and yucky. I usually eyeball how many chestnuts I add to the stuffing so I'm just guessing at how much are in there. If you're using canned ones, just use a whole can. If you're buying fresh ones, just use whatever looks like enough. I always roast them all and then freeze whatever I don't put in the stuffing to use later. There are a couple of really great recipes in Veganomicon using chestnuts that you could make with the leftovers.

Roast Chestnuts

Preheat your oven to 425 F.

Cut a little slit in each of your chestnuts so the steam can escape when you're baking them. Arrange them on a shallow baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes.

Let the chestnuts cool on the pan for about 5 minutes and then pour them onto a kitchen towel. Gather the towel up at the sides so that no chestnuts can escape and mash them around a bit to loosen the shells. Peel them as soon as they're cool enough to handle without burning you. If you wait until they're too cold, they'll be really hard to peel so try and do it while they're still warm.


 

Stuffing

1 loaf of bread (I use sprouted grain bread)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion or a handful of shallots, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large carrots, diced
3-4 ribs celery, diced
3/4 cup mushrooms, chopped (I usually use shitake, but use whatever kind you like)
2 tablespoons each fresh herbs (I usually use rosemary, sage, savory and thyme or you can buy one of those "poultry blends" That works well for this.
1 1/2 cups roasted chestnuts, chopped
2 cups warm vegetable broth

In a pan over medium heat (I use my cast iron skillet for this) heat the olive oil. Add the onions or shallots and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the celery, carrots and mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes or until the carrots just start to get soft. Add in the fresh herbs and cook for another 2 minutes.

While you're cooking the veggies, cut the bread into cubes and toss them into a large bowl. You'll probably have to do this just a few slices at a time.

Once the veggies are done, add them to the bread cubes along with the chestnuts. Stir gently to evenly distribute the veggies and chestnuts. Pour the warm broth over the mixture and stir.

If you're using this to stuff something you can stop here. It'll cook more when it's in the oven. If not, you'll want to transfer your stuffing to a baking dish and cook for about 20 minutes in a 350 F oven.



Friday, October 7, 2011

Pizza Pie

Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend. We always have a bunch of people over for dinner so I get to cook for 2 days to prepare for it. I love it. Everyone's favorite pie is the Sm'love pie from Veganomicon. The first time I made it James made fun of me for wanting to make a chocolate pie instead pumpkin at Thanksgiving. And then he tasted it. Now that pie is explicitly requested for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. We have to have it when there are other people to help eat it because it's way too rich for just the two of us to finish.


Please ignore my dirty oven. A clove of garlic exploded in it when I was roasting garlic last weekend.

While the pie is baking, I'm eating leftover pizza from Vegan Pizza House. Thank goodness for leftovers! It's been a busy day of working and planning and grocery shopping. I definitely didn't want to have to add making dinner on to that . Tonight's goal was to get the base of the pie done and then I can sit back with glass of wine and watch Fringe. I'm going to be on my feet in the hot kitchen for the next 2 days straight so I need to get my relaxing in tonight while I still can!



The browned bits are all me. I reheated this in the oven to make it crispy and gooey again.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to get up and be at the farmers market by 9am to get the rest of the stuff for the feast. The market is just about a block from my apartment so I can sort of just roll out of bed and walk over there at least. I can't wait to see kinds of goodies they have. I got some local cranberries last week! 

Friday, October 9, 2009

Resurrected!

I've been meaning to start this blog up again for some time now. It being Vegan MoFo time again, I thought it was appropriate.

It's also Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and I'll be cooking up a storm. I'll post some photos of the awesomeness after the weekend.


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SmLove Pie


The menu is:

Assorted Olives (yay garlic-stuffed olives!)
Edamame Dip with veggies and crackers

Homemade Tofurkey type thing - stuffed with...
Stuffing (consisting of whatever looks like fun to add when I go to the store tonight)
Mushroom Gravy
Cranberry Sauce with Tangerine bits
Kale
Maple Mustard Glazed Potatoes and Green Beans (thank you VWAV)
Sweet Potatoes of some sort... maybe mashed?

SmLove Pie
French Apple Tart

and of course... wine, wine and more wine. :)

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Vegan Canadian Thanksgiving

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!

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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:

Appetizers:
Jalapeno Vegan Pate with Whole Grain Crackers
Seitan and Herb Stuffed Mushrooms (from Vegan with a Vengeance)

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Dinner:
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)

Dessert:
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
ground nutmeg
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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