Category Archives: Sauce & Spread

♥ Giving Thanks For Leftovers

I hear a lot of supposedly good-natured ribbing that our Thanksgiving holiday is somehow lacking because we don’t cook a turkey. And I just do a mental eye roll and silently count to ten. Since when does the giving of thanks for the blessings in one’s life and gathering with family and friends only have meaning and significance when done over the mutilated carcass of a gentle and sentient being? Personally, I think the holiday has more value and significance when it is thoughtful and compassionate.

Peace on earth for ALL creatures.

Every year I swear that I won’t do it: that I won’t spend the entire Thanksgiving day (and the night before) in the kitchen cooking . And then, every year, I do it anyway. So much for resolutions. But, on the plus side, we always stretch the leftovers through the weekend. One marathon cooking day equals several days of feasting for us.

A good looking plate of leftovers.

Our Thanksgiving feast wasn’t lacking for anything. We enjoyed a Tofurky Roast baked with turnips, parsnips, fennel root and mushrooms. I made a simple baste for the Tofurky using the recipe on the box, but I added dried thyme and rosemary leaves, in addition to the sage, along with a tablespoon of pomegranate concentrate. Add a generous dollop of homemade cranberry sauce, Momma’s special holiday stuffing and savory red wine mushroom gravy over all. So good!

Sausage chestnut stuffing with mushroom gravy.

No self-respecting holiday meal would be complete without homemade rolls. I adapted this recipe for the bread machine for what is now our favorite dinner roll recipe (and it makes good doughnuts, too). I substitute plain soy milk and Earth Balance for the milk and butter and EnerG Egg Replacer for the egg. I also increase the amount of yeast called for in the recipe. Best of all, the bread machine does the work while the Tofurky and the side dishes are roasting in the oven.

These rolls are so light and fluffy; they practically melt in your mouth.

I like to try a new recipe every year, and this year I chose this recipe, from Urban Vegan. Fig-Pecan Stuffed Acorn Squash will surely make repeat appearances at future holiday dinners. The figs and pecans with the squash are such a delightful combination and perfect for Thanksgiving. I generally followed the recipe (as much as I ever do), but I increased the pecans to 3/4 cup and decreased the agave to 1/4 cup. I also stirred in a scant 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt into the filling before baking.

A side dish so good it should be served on a dessert plate.

As a kid (and still to this day), I detested the standard Thanksgiving side dish of candied yams with marshmallows baked on top. In fact, it is because of this childhood trauma that years elapsed before I willingly made a yam side dish for my own family at Thanksgiving. Now, it’s glazed yams (from fresh and not canned in heavy syrup) with candied nuts in place of the marshmallows, or it’s nothing.

Forget the marshmallows, walnut toffee is where it's at.

The Chinese five spice powder in the glaze makes this exotic side dish something special, and it has become a holiday staple for us. Of course, I don’t follow the recipe exactly. I substitute Earth Balance for the butter and I add a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper to the glaze. I replace the corn syrup in the toffee with maple syrup and I increase the amount of walnuts to 1-1/2 cups. A word of warning, though: it’s a good idea to halve the recipe if you aren’t cooking for a crowd.

Past Thanksgivings, I made both a cranberry apple pie and a pumpkin pie (yeah, I spent a lot of time rolling pie crusts). Then I discovered this recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake With Candied Cranberries and now I make just one dessert. The combination of pumpkin and cheesecake with the candied cranberry topping provides the best of our favorite desserts and it is a perfect end to a Thanksgiving dinner.

A perfectly fitting Thanksgiving dessert.

I make my cheesecake with a gingersnap crust and I have found that you can easily halve the amount of sugar and water for the candied cranberries (like the recipe says, though, the leftover syrup is wonderful on pancakes and waffles). I recommend placing the cranberry topping on each slice of cheesecake just before serving (I learned this the hard way this year). Otherwise, the cheesecake gets a little sloppy. Still yummy, but not so pretty.

So, what are your favorite holiday side dishes?

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I hope everyone had a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving holiday. And that life’s blessings, big and small, are bountiful throughout the year.

And may we have the strength to survive the remaining weeks of the holiday madness. ♥

♥ Port Cranberry Sauce

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that everybody is enjoying good food and good times with friends and family. And that we all have something to be thankful for this year, and every year. As for me, I’m thankful to be having a quiet holiday at home and it’s been so wonderful that I intend to make this a holiday tradition. I am so over the Thanksgiving hype.

I know, I have been an absentee blogger. It’s been a busy fall and with everything going on outside of the home I haven’t been very inspired in the kitchen. In short: I’ve been lazy. 🙂 Even so, I would be remiss if I didn’t make at least one Thanksgiving contribution to the blogosphere.

Forget the canned cranberry sauce. Homemade cranberry sauce is so easy to make and it is far superior to the crimson cylinder of mystery glop that comes from a can. Schlorp. This recipe is our favorite and I make it every Thanksgiving. Not just the one time, mind you. We eat this cranberry sauce all season long. It’s just that good.

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Photo from a past holiday dinner. Like I said: I've been lazy.

Port Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh cranberries

1 orange, zested and then juiced

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup port wine

1 Tablespoon Arrowroot powder

Directions:

Combine the cranberries, orange zest, orange juice, sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Slightly mash the cranberries while stirring.

Reduce the heat and add the port.  Continue to cook over medium-low heat until the cranberries are tender.

Whisk the Arrowroot into the cranberry mixture and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool.

♥ Taco Salad In A Baked Tortilla Bowl With Creamy Chipotle Dressing

The mild autumn here in Tahoe ended abruptly with snow storms and freezing temperatures. The sudden change in the weather meant a hasty farewell to salads and grilled dinners outdoors in tank tops and flip-flops. And a very reluctant hello to months of slow cooked meals while wearing flannel and thick socks. I don’t even like flannel.

It brings to mind Nicolas Cage’s opening narrative (as H.I. “Hi” McDunnough) in Raising Arizona: “These were the happy days; the salad days as they say….” To say I’m bummed is a serious understatement. Buh bye, pretty flowers.

Then, just as abruptly, the snow is melting off and the temperatures are climbing back into the 60s and 70s once more. And it is supposed to be sunny every day for the next week or so. Woo-hoo! Sadly, my tomatoes will not be revived as easily as my spirits.

I hate to tempt fate and pull out the flip-flops again, but it looks like I can prolong the fair weather foods another week or so. In fact, I plan to extend my salad days as long as I am able.

Oh, how I love me some taco salad. Made with the usual cast of characters: lettuce, shredded carrot, green onion, tomato, avocado, sweet corn, beans (black or pinto), black olives, taco meat (I like the taco nut meat from Ani’s Raw Food Essentials, but Yves taco meat is good in a pinch) and raw pumpkin seeds.

What’s better than a taco salad on a plate? A taco salad in a baked (not fried) tortilla shell, of course! I like to spray the tortilla shell with some coconut oil and sprinkle it with the seasoning mix from this recipe before baking the shell in the tortilla bowl maker.

But, what makes this taco salad really special is the creamy chipotle dressing. The original recipe calls for a cup of vegan mayonnaise (yikes). In my humble opinion, my version of the recipe, made with silken tofu, is better. And lower in fat, too. So you can really pile it on. 🙂

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Creamy Chipotle Dressing

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

1-1/4 cup prepared salsa (I like Costco’s organic salsa)

1 small lime, juiced

1 12.3-ounce package lite firm silken tofu (Mori Nu)

1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Blend coriander seeds in blender until coarsely ground. Add the salsa, lime juice, silken tofu, chipotle chili and black pepper. Blend until smooth.

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As for the weather outside, I’ll be sure to enjoy every second of it while it lasts. But, “…I preminisced [sic] no return of the salad days.”

Thanks, H.I.

♥ Imitation And Flattery

There are two vegan-friendly restaurants in South Lake Tahoe. Now, when I say “vegan-friendly”, I mean that the wait staff are knowledgeable about their menu items and about veganism in general. Specifically, they don’t subject us to nonsense like “but you still eat fish, right?” Both restaurants offers a variety of tempeh and tofu alternatives in most of their entrees.

During the summer months, we love the rooftop dining at Freshies with spectacular views of Lake Tahoe.  And Barbie’s wedding, Tahoe style, on the roof itself.

But, it’s hard to get a table at Freshies with less than an hour wait during the summer months when tourist traffic is the heaviest. And they refuse to take a dinner order to go. I guess being a local repeat customer amounts to nothing in their eyes. Hmph.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Maybe so, but flattery was the furthest thing from my mind when I came up with this copycat of my favorite meal at Freshies. It felt more like necessity, actually. I needed my big salad fix; and I needed it in less than an hour.

First, the appetizer: My Tri Fries. Yams, sweet potatoes and Russet potatoes fried up crisp and served with Caribbean spices. These babies are simply addictive. And, luckily, they were easy to replicate. Better still, my version is oven-fried, not deep-fried. The method is simple: toss 3 pounds of the cut potatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 teaspoon of seasoning (I used Walkerswood Dried Jamaican Jerk Seasoning). Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 450F for 30 to 35 minutes, flipping halfway through the baking time.

My take on The Crunch, “the local’s favorite”: layered baby greens, red cabbage, cucumber, carrot, broccoli, tomato, avocado and sunflower seeds. Freshies serves The Crunch with a creamy basil dressing, but it’s made with buttermilk so I always ordered a substitute vegan dressing. I liked the sound of a creamy basil dressing, so I played around and came up with my version, and it has fast become our favorite salad dressing.

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Creamy Basil Dressing

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup Vegenaise

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil

Directions:

Blend all ingredients with a handheld blender until smooth. I like to thin it with a bit of  water before serving.