Monday, November 17, 2008

Thinking About Thanksgiving

As crazy as I am about cranberries, I'm even crazier for Thanksgiving! The cranberries, yams, gravy, stuffing, roasted vegetables, pies... It's just all good!

We almost always host the holiday at our house. A tradition that we started back when my husband and I were first married (*cough* 19 years ago). Needless to say, we've developed some traditional dishes over the years, and the whole family anxiously awaits their arrival every Thanksgiving. Of course we don't have a turkey, but no one ever seems to complain. They know that it's just how we roll with the holiday at our house.

There are a few recipes that I use for Thanksgiving, and the rest I just cook off the cuff. I thought I would share a few of my favorites, for those of you cooking next week.

Let's start with soup. There's a fabulous new recipe up on Everyday Dish for Pumpkin Soup. The recipe is from Barb Faulke and uses hazelnut butter. It would be a fabulous addition to any Thanksgiving feast. Next is cranberry sauce. My 2 favorites are my Cranberry Merlot Sauce and Spiced Cranberry Pineapple Sauce. For gravy, my favorite is Bryanna's Rich Brown Gravy from the Everyday Dish DVD. We've nicknamed it crack gravy around our house, because it's so addicting (and delicious!). I triple this recipe for the holiday. If you're looking for a seitan roast, we should have a new segment up by Friday with just such a recipe (from Chef Brian McCarthy). Um, lets see what else. Oh, mashed potatoes. My new favorite recipe is to take small red potatoes and boil them until tender. Drain, and smash with a potato masher. Add Earth Balance, salt, white and black pepper to taste and plain soymilk (preferably unsweetened). Minced garlic and fresh parsley are good too. Sometimes I'll sprinkle in a little nutritional yeast for added flavor. So good! Make sure to have lots of yummy gravy on the side.

Next up, yams. Most years I make a sweet spiced yam and apple casserole. I bake a bunch of yams until tender. Let cool, peel and cut into thick slices. Layer the yams in a baking dish, along with sauteed apples (which have been thinly sliced and sauteed in apple cider with a touch of brown sugar until tender). Sprinkle with ground cinnamon, ground allspice and a little freshly grated nutmeg if desired. I then top the apples and yams with a syrup (apple cider, brown sugar or maple syrup and a little cinnamon, simmered until slightly syrupy, maybe 10 minutes or so). Sometimes I add a splash of bourbon and a few crumbled ginger snaps on top too. Cover casserole with foil and bake, basting yams with syrup from bottom of dish, for about an hour or until it's all bubbly and delicious. This is like dessert!

Spiced apple and yam casserole, unbaked

For stuffing, I make it the way my mom always did (before I took over the holiday). Take a package of herb-seasoned dry stuffing (make sure it's vegan) or cubed rustic bread, and combine with veggie broth, dried sage, dried cranberries, chopped apple and lots of sauteed celery and onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Some years I make this with cornbread instead of the rustic bread and it's great too. Just make sure to let the cornbread sit out uncovered to dry it out.

Whew, that's a lot of food. If you're looking for some fresh veggies, a nice crisp salad is always nice, especially tossed with dried cranberries and hazelnuts or chopped persimmon or pomegranite seeds...) and a simple homemade vinaigrette. Man, I'm full just thinking about all this food.

I think the only part of the meal that I haven't addressed is dessert. I will post some dessert ideas in the next couple of days, along with some recipes.

So what are some of your favorite dishes for the holiday?


Sheree' said...

I can't wait to see the new roast on your everyday dish! So cool. I agree, Crack gravy! love it!

Unknown said...

Aww, yum. I don't have any plans for this Thanksgiving, but if I did, I'd probably make some version of my mom's mashed potato /casserole pie and slivered lemon brussels. My mom always makes vegan sides when I come home, similar to what you described above. So delicious.


Cindy said...

Nut loaf! It's my FIL's recipe. It's a loaf full of bread crumbs, parsley, ground almonds, and other yummy stuff. A slice with cranberry sauce...yum! I look forward to it every year.

Vicki's Vegan Vice said...

mmm, you've got me coming back for dessert! I love the basics - dressing, mashers, tofurkey, and I'll going to check in to Bryanna's gravy because that's always the weak link.

mysticxian said...

Green Bean casserole with lots of those onions in it. Yummmm.
oooh and sweet potato pie.

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Ooh, can I come to your house for the holidays?!

Sal - AlienOnToast said...

This post made my tummy rumble so much!!

The Cooking Lady said...

To say I love stuffing/dressing is an understatement. And I have been tweaking my recipe for ages.

I had found this recipe back in 2001 off the Internet and kept that poor puppy. But over the years I have vegetized the recipe. And this year we made our own cornbread base. Easy schmeazy. We made a basic recipe, then cut it into bite-sized chunks, let it sit out overnight to get stale and Viola, there you have it. Plus we used whole wheat flour.

Can we have a Thanksgiving do-over?

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