Last year was my first foray into a turkey-less Thanksgiving, and I have to say, I fared pretty well. I do plan on sponsoring a turkey again this year, and encourage all my fellow vegans and animal lovers to do the same.
I had hoped to outdo myself with this year’s offerings. Instead, I find myself struggling to find the time to make myself a freaking lunch for work, let alone plan a Thanksgiving menu. Let me tell you, I have a newfound respect for all you folks out there who manage to hold down full-time jobs and still blog, cook and do whatever else you do like champs. I am just not on your level. I suppose I can blame the underlying fatigue and health problems that had me examining my diet in the first place — those problems tend to rear their ugly heads whenever I’m amnesiac to the fact that I am not one of those people who can function on any less than seven or eight hours of sleep. So, to preserve my energies, I’m recycling a list of old recipes that I’m considering for my own Thanksgiving menu. Wholly unoriginal, I know.
This year, I am thankful to be with my family over the holidays. We are all praying for the soon-to-be newborn baby of my cousin and her husband. Last week, the doctors found hydrocephalus. He needs almost immediate surgery right after he will be born in a few weeks. Our family will be together sending positive thoughts and love to the little guy (yep, love vibes travel very nicely through the womb, I’m told) and to his parents. I’m accepting positive thoughts for baby Bennett, Kelly and Ryan from all of my Delectably Free readers as well. I am thankful for all of you.
Traditional Cornbread (Scroll down for recipe)
“Cheddar” Scallion Biscuits
Mashed potatoes and miso gravy
Portobellos and Gravy
Green Bean Casserole
Cornbread Dressing (stuffing)*
Antioxidant Quinoa Salad
Beet Carrot and Apple Slaw
Sweet Potato, Pecan and Poblano Salad with Cranberries
Butternut Squash Lasagna
Red Lentil Kibbeh
Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie
Mom’s Apple Crisp
Low-Fat Pumpkin Mousse Pie
Applesauce Cake with “Cream Cheese” Frosting
* This recipe is also good substituting one recipe of the gluten-free focaccia for cornbread, or doing 1/2 cornbread and 1/2 focaccia (my personal favorite)
I first made a version of this pasta sauce when I was studying for the Michigan bar and looking for something quick, easy, cheap and still actually filling enough to power me through an hours-long study session. Since then, this recipe has evolved into a weeknight go-to that is so easy, it will have Sandra Lee wishing she thought of it. Truly the “semi-homemade” meal, it’s one of my favorite dishes lately. And, in keeping with the “theme” of this dish (fast! easy!), I’m signing off with a short post today — it’s close to midnight on a Sunday night and I have to get up early for work. Oh, the joys of a full-time job…
Yield: Enough for about 1 lb. of pasta, plus a little extra
Spicy Chorizo Pasta Sauce:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 large zucchini or 1 small zucchini, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1 1/2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 package Trader Joe’ Soy Chorizo
1 (approx. 18-20 oz.) jar Marinara Sauce*
1. In a large, deep saucepan or Dutch Oven, saute zucchini and carrots in olive oil on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, or until zucchini begins to soften and vegetables release their liquid.
2. Add mushrooms and saute until they begin to soften. Add chorizo and crumble with spoon. Add pasta sauce and heat through. Serve over your favorite type of pasta (I like spaghetti or fusilli for this dish), or spaghetti squash.
* I used Trader Joe’s traditional marinara, which is my favorite
First, let me apologize (once again) for being, like, the worst blogger in history. The past four weeks have been incredibly busy at work, which has inevitably invaded my weekends and wreaked havoc on my social and blogging life (if this hadn’t already been thoroughly accomplished by the fact that we are still living with my parents). Then, I was sick. Then, there were weddings. Lots and lots of October-November weddings, in fact. All of which have contributed to my silence and absence from this forum.
Luckily, I have a mom who loves to cook and eats that way I do. I certainly haven’t been lacking in the dinner department. And thanks to my mom’s creative juices, this delicious and simple stuffed pumpkin non-recipe recipe was born. I can promise you that this deliciously fall aroma will permeate your home and provide a fitting backdrop for holiday gatherings.
Here are some other pumpkin-themed recipes to get you in the spirit this season:
pumpkin ice cream pie
bran and flax pumpkin muffins
chewy gooey pumpkin bars
1 medium pie pumpkin
a few tablespoons liquid sweetener (i.e. agave, coconut nectar)
2 medium apples, cored and chopped
a few tablespoons of currants
a sprinkle of nutmeg
a sprinkle of cinnamon
a sprinkle of ground cloves
1-2 packets stevia, optional
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Core pumpkin and scoop out insides. Rub inside with liquid sweetener. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients, adjusting spices and sweetness to taste. Stuff pumpkin high with apple mixture. Place in a deep baking dish and cover.
3. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 2-2 1/2 hours, or until pumpkin is very soft (use a fork to test for doneness). Serve slices of pumpkin topped with apples and juice. Serve as a dessert or a holiday side.
Well, the number of meat eaters in my family is slowly dwindling to a minuscule number. Soon, they’ll be brandished to another room altogether, forced to eat their meat in silence and shame, wishing they could one day break their nasty habit.
Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit. But seriously, if our extended family dinner Friday night was any indication, eating meat is so, like, 2010. After successfully converting my parents to a full-fledged vegan lifestyle, I’ve now witnessed my grandparents reassess their diets, swapping tofu and veggies for their meat -and-potato dinners. Then recently my cousin — a professional tennis player, mind you — announced that he had gone vegan after watching the movie Forks over Knives. Even my meat-loving husband has changed his ways, if subtly. Last week, for example, he ordered an all-veggie pizza instead of his usual pepperoni and olive. And he’s been buying Amy’s organic frozen meals to sustain him throughout the week when I’m not cooking (I’ll pretend I didn’t see the Egg McMuffin receipt floating around our car last week).
Anyways, in honor of all of the recent converts in my family, I’ve decided to make a convert of Mr. Sloppy Joe — taking a formerly meat and butter-ladden dish and swapping in healthy tempeh and fresh vegetables for a much healthier meal. Eat your heart out, old Sloppy Joe.
Makes: approximately 4-6 servings
Tempeh Sloppy Joes:
1 tablespoon Earth Balance buttery spread
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 small-medium zucchini, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cup baby bella mushrooms, diced
1 package soy tempeh, boiled or steamed for 10 minutes, then crumbled
¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
¾ cup organic ketchup
½ cup water
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried mustard powder
2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon dried celery seed
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Ground pepper to taste
1. Boil or steam tempeh cubes for approximately 10 minutes to remove smell. Drain and rinse, set aside
2. In a large shallow pan or Dutch Oven, melt buttery spread over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, zucchini and garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and saute over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, or until onion becomes translucent and water is released from vegetables. Add mushrooms and tempeh and cook until mushrooms begin to soften.
3. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cook until water is reduced and desired consistency is reached, about 10 minutes. Serve over your favorite gluten-free hamburger buns or bread, toasted. Serve with sweet potato chips or fries for a healthy side.
Before I get any further into this post, let me just establish something very important here: when I showed my mom the picture I took of her apple crisp (which we had nearly devoured in its entirety the night before, leaving me with very little to work with picture-wise), she said “What??? That doesn’t do it justice.” Gee, thanks, Mom.
Unfortunately, she’s right. One of the problems was, in fact, the lack of an untouched dish to work with from the beginning. The other problem is that, frankly, I am still pretty much a trial-and-error person when it comes to camera settings (white balance, focus) and pretty much a minimalist when it comes to props and “set design.” This is fine, of course, by some standards. But when you’re trying to highlight the greatest apple crisp recipe ever created (gluten-free or not, vegan or not, sugar-free or not), I’m not sure any picture would quite do it justice. And I can say that, of course, without bragging because I had nothing to do with this recipe other than partake in eating way too much of it. And it’s not just me. My mom brought this dish to a potluck recently and found it was completely gone while a table full of chocolate cakes and gooey cookies and other sweet treats remained.
My mom adapted this recipe form the Betty Crocker Apple Crisp. She doubled the recipe to serve a crowd. I’d advise, though, that if you’re serving any more than 4 people, definitely make the double recipe. Otherwise, you can halve it and make what the recipe calls for, which supposedly serves 6. But I’m calling Betty’s bluff.
Adapted to be gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook
8 cups tart apples (about 7-8 medium apples), peeled and sliced
1 packet stevia (optional)
1/2 cups currants (optional)
1 1/4 cup raw coconut crystals (packed)
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 cup gluten-free oats
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery spread
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Grease a large baking rectangular or round quart baking dish. Place apples in bottom of pan. If apples are very tart, sprinkle with stevia. Sprinkle with currants.
3. Mix remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Sprinkle over apples and currants. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until top is golden brown and sides are bubbling. Serve warm.
My cousin Kelly is 6 months pregnant. She’s ecstatic and glowing and oh-so cute in her little dresses that show off a growing belly (and for once, the long-time ”Kelly belly” nickname actually makes some sense).
Anyways, I made these brownies a few days ago for her birthday. I thought about what I would want if I were pregnant. From what I hear, the closest I’ve ever come to that experience is the whole “that time of the month” situation. The bloating. The mood swings. The chocolate cravings. Oh — chocolate! (Sorry to my male readers — all 3 of you? — for having to endure the “girl talk” in this post).
Yes, I believe that if I were six months pregnant, I would most certainly want something very chocolaty. Pretty much all the time. So of course I thought I had hit the jackpot of birthday treat ideas, until about halfway through the recipe when I realized that chocolate contains caffeine and pregnant women are supposed to limit caffeine intake. Pregnancy gift faux-pas? My research says no; chocolate in moderation is perfectly O.K. and perhaps even beneficial. Phew. But I suppose a whole pan of brownies to keep for myself wouldn’t be the worst thing ever…
Of course, I did test a few of the brownies on my fellow housemates before pawning them off to unsuspecting pregnant people. For those not keeping track, my “housemates” currently include my parents, husband and three dogs. Though not to worry, I didn’t test the brownies on the dogs (much to their dismay).
The brownies got a universal thumbs-up and were deemed “very chocolaty.” Perhaps I really was channeling my inner pregnant woman. I did add a tablespoon of coffee substitute to the batter, as I’ve learned from my days as an Ina geek that coffee brings the chocolate out of chocolate dishes, adding intensity to the flavor. Again, keeping my audience in mind, I steered clear of real coffee and went with the fake stuff (which is surprising good in its own right, I must say).
And thus completes yet another gluten-free, vegan and sugar-free brownie adventure in my kitchen. With this recipe, I think my brownie count on this site is at six. I don’t know what it is with me and brownies. Truth be told, I think it’s the fact that every time I set out to make an old recipe, I’m out an ingredient and with that, a whole new recipe is born. Apparently, I can get very creative when I’m craving chocolate.
For a twist, I sprinkled these with chopped walnuts and gluten-free chocolate chips . It makes for a pretty presentation and adds a nice nutty flavor and crunch. Of course, these would also be good with more coarsely chopped nuts mixed into the batter.
Makes: 1 8×8″ pan (about 9 medium-large or 12 small squares)
Gluten-Free Very Chocolate Brownies:
¾ cup Bob’s Red Mill brown rice flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon dry Ener-G egg replacer
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon instant coffee or gluten-free grain coffee substitute*
¾ cup applesauce
¾ cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup coconut oil (liquefied), plus more for greasing
1/4 cup crushed walnuts and 2 tbsp. gluten-free chocolate chips (optional) for topping
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Lightly grease an 8×8″ glass pan with coconut oil and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, coffee/coffee substitute and egg replacer. Add in applesauce, agave, coconut oil and vanilla and whisk until incorporated.
4. Pour batter into pre-greased dish. Sprinkle with walnuts and chocolate chips and very lightly press into top of batter. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until brownies bounce back when pressed. Cool on a wire rack completely before slicing.
* I used Dandy Blend instant herbal coffee substitute.
I have a confession: I actually made this recipe months ago. I wanted to post it then. But it was hot out. I mean, really hot. And I kept thinking that no one in their right mind would want to make stir-fry in the middle of July. At a time when other bloggers were posting salads and grilled vegetables, I was making stir-fry. And so, as much as I was in love with this dish, I decided to sit on it and wait for a time when this recipe was a bit more suited to the weather.
You’ll notice that for a stir-fry, this recipe uses very little oil. Again, it was July when I made this. My parents had just returned from the vegetarian summerfest and were influenced by the many doctors and health experts singing the praises of a low-fat vegan diet. I learned that wine is a great cooking tool for braising or making sauces, as it adds a lot of flavor without added fat. For me, this is especially true in stir-fries. My mom took a Chinese cooking class when I was younger at an amazing Chinese restaurant my family still frequents. One of the revelations from that experience was that almost every stir-fry sauce at that restaurant utilized white cooking wine, lots of garlic and very little if any soy sauce. True Hong Kong style Chinese sauces are light and clear, not thick and brown, as is so common in Americanized Chinese places would have us believe. (For those interested in eating at the best Chinese Restaurant, in my opinion, in North America: Harvey Lo’s Yummy House in Windsor Ontario. It’s divine).
Of course, with the addition of miso, this is more of a Japanese-Chinese fusion dish. I love miso for flavor in dressings and sauces. It makes a really great stir-fry here — tangy, almost sweet and salty combination of flavors. And finally, it’s that time of year where I can make this without losing 5 pounds of sweat in the process. Hooray for fall!
Serves: 3-4 with rice
Low Fat Miso-Ginger Stir Fry:
My new secret to a good stir-fry is to bake the tofu before adding it to the rest of the dish. It tends to get crispy on the outside, but remains intact, rather than crumbling like tofu so often does when its cooked in a skillet or wok.
3 tablespoons white miso
¼ cup white wine
2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons arrowroot + 2 tablespoons water, whisked together
2 tablespoons vegetable broth
1 head broccoli florets, chopped
1 red bell pepper, julienned
4 shiitake caps, sliced
½ yellow onion, sliced
¼ teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
1 block firm or extra firm tofu, drained and patted dry. Sliced or cubed.
1. Preheat oven to 375. Whisk together sesame oil and tamari in a shallow bowl. Dip slices of tofu into mixture and and then lay flat on non-stick or silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together miso, wine, tamari, sesame oil, ginger and garlic. Set aside.
3. In a very hot wok, add broccoli, bell pepper, onion and vegetable broth. Stir over high heat until broth evaporates and vegetables begin to soften. Add in shiitakes and pre-made sauce. Stir until sauce reduces by about 1/2 and vegetables are softened but still crisp. Add in arrowroot and water mixture and pre-baked tofu. Stir until sauce is thickened. Serve immediately.
I’ve been making this granola a lot lately. It’s great in the morning over soy yogurt and with fruit, or as a snack. I’ve done it with both quick-cooking oats and regular rolled oats and both are good, but the rolled oats lend a bit of a chewier texture that’s better for snacking, while quick-cooking oats make a nice cereal substitute.
As far as fruit goes, I’m sort of picky with dried fruit, so I went with tart dried cherries and dried pineapple, which are two of my favorites lately. You can be liberal with the dried fruit, and add any combination of fruits and even nuts as you please. So, that’s about all there is to it!
2 cups quick cooking certified gluten-free oats
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 packet stevia
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon coconut oil, liquified
¼ cup coconut nectar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
dried fruits or nuts of choice
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Mix together all ingredients except for dried fruit. Lay flat on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes. Let cool.
3. Add dried fruit to cooled granola.
Vegetarian chili comes to mind when I consider the ubiquitous vegetarian menu items of the world, right along with tofu scrambles and veggie burgers (both of which I have on this site). That doesn’t mean it’s not worth sharing. Or eating. I was a huge fan of Whole Foods’ vegetarian chili long before I went vegan. Same goes for Curly’s tofu scramble, which I used to order with their vegan pancakes (also wheat-free) when I went for brunch, because I couldn’t decide which I wanted more. Who said vegans can’t enjoy a good brunch? (Oh wait, I think I said that at some point on this blog….and I maintain that it’s true in most eating out situations, when forced to venture into non-veg friendly territory).
In fact, vegetarian chili is such a no-brainer go-to dinner, I should be making it more often. The problem is, much like muffins, I have this “thing” with chili. I can never really get it just right. I’ve made dozens I’d hoped would eventually become part of the Delectably Free family. And most of the time, when I’m making something destined for this site, I don’t stop until I’ve gotten it right (often to the detriment of my loved ones, who have to endure days on end of semi-edible versions of the same dinner or dessert). The problem with chili, though, is that one batch pretty much lasts multiple days — sometimes a week, even — and by the time it’s over the thought of making yet another batch of chili is simply incomprehensible and utterly scary (there are only so many times we can blame the curious odor in the room on the dog). So, usually, I leave it at that.
But, after two years of intermittent trial and error, my mental list of do’s and don’ts finally yielded a blog-worthy recipe. I’m not usually one to praise my own food. Perhaps out of fear or maybe even pride, I usually wait and let others’ reactions dictate whether I am going to post something or not. I rarely declare something “a winner” without a vote of confidence from my taste-testers. But after tinkering with and tweaking this latest batch, I made sure to tell everyone in the family that I had hit on something “really good,” without really caring what anyone else said. But just for the record, I’ll have you know what everyone else in my family liked it, too.
3-Bean and Mushroom Chili:
Don’t be discouraged by the long ingredient list. I promise, most of these are pantry items, with the exception of maybe the mushrooms and the bell pepper. I used Bionaturae jarred strained tomatoes for the “strained tomatoes,” though I’m sure crushed tomatoes would work here as well. When I was younger, my mom used to make chili often and we’d serve it over elbow noodles. I love chili with cornbread (the classic combo), but decided to serve gluten-free noodles with this version and encourage you to do so as well. It’s really good! Finally, the 6-cups of baby bellas will cook down to what seems like a piddily amount, so definitely add the full amount — it really makes a difference in the overall taste.
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
6 cups baby bellas, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup strained tomatoes, no salt added (see note, above)*
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
½ cup water
1 15 0z. can black beans, not drained
1 15 oz. can aduki beans, not drained
1 29-oz. can white cannellini beans, drained
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon agave nectar (any other syrupy sweetener would also do)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1. To a large soup pot or Dutch Oven, add onion, pepper, garlic, mushrooms, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Toss to coat with oil. Cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, or until juices release and onions become translucent.
2. Add remaining ingredients, beginning with the diced tomatoes, strained tomatoes and water and finishing with the agave, olive oil and cider vinegar, plus the additional teaspoon of salt, or enough salt to taste. Make sure not to strain the aduki or black beans, as the juices add flavor to the dish. But do drain the Cannellini beans. Partially cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer on medium-high for about 15-20 minutes to let flavors develop. Serve warm with gluten-free noodles, corn chips or cornbread. Enjoy!
* If you can’t find salt-free strained tomatoes, instead of adding the second teaspoon of salt simply add enough to taste.
I explained this in my pumpkin bar post, but it’s worth repeating: I made so many muffins before perfecting this recipe, it was ridiculous. Ludicrous. Unhealthy. Overkill. I made so many versions of muffins, it was weeks before I came up with a version that was worth posting. But then, with all that work, why stop at just something that was “worth posting”? So I kept going, until I finally, FINALLY had a recipe that I was actually proud of — something I would feel confident serving my non-vegan, non-gluten-free, sugar-loving friends without worrying about hearing “these are good……for being (fill in the blank)” I do not like hearing that I have a worthy recipe, if only for the gluten-free, vegan crowd.
The only problem with this recipe is that I missed my blueberry season window by a couple of weeks. Now, fresh blueberries are back to being exorbitantly priced and scarce. I suppose frozen blueberries would suffice, though I spent so long tinkering with the recipe, I would hate to think of any substitutions threatening the overall balance. But I’ll let you guys be the judge on that one. I also imagine chopped apples would be nice here, but that idea might merit a whole new post of its own…
Yield: 12 muffins
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free flour
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup coconut crystals or coconut palm sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Ener-G egg replacer (dry)
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
½ cup hot water
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup coconut oil (liquefied)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries
1. Preheat oven to 350. Fill 12 muffin tins with liners.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, xanthan gum, salt, coconut sugar, cinnamon, dry egg replacer, baking powder and baking soda.
2. Add milk, hot water, vanilla and coconut oil to dry ingredients and mix to incorporate. Fold in applesauce. Fold in blueberries, being careful not to crush.
3. Drop batter by 1/4 cup into each muffin tin, adding more if necessary until each tin is evenly filled. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.