Category Archives: Side Dish

♥ Irish Colcannon

So much for my New Year’s resolutions. Yep, I’m back to being a lazy blogger. Ah, well. I did make it back and that’s what counts. And just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day leftovers. March 17th is J’s day (er, excuse) to celebrate all things beer and his perennial favorite, corned beef and cabbage. Myself, I prefer to celebrate the Irish whiskey cake. 🙂

This year, I resurrected a favorite old recipe for this year’s potato side dish: Irish Colcannon. Colcannon is traditionally served at Halloween with charms such as a ring (marriage), a coin (wealth), a button (bachelorhood), a thimble (spinsterhood) and a tiny horseshoe (good luck) stirred into the Colcannon.  The recipients of each charm would benefit accordingly. Whatever the tradition and significance attached to Colcannon, it’s a wonderfully flavorful side dish. The kale and the cabbage in the potato dish bring just the right amount of green to the Saint Patrick’s Day table.

The Colcannon is even better the next day with leftover corned beef, diced, and the corned beef gravy drizzled over the top.

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Irish Colcannon

Ingredients:

2 pounds yellow potatoes, diced

1/2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 leek (white part only), rinsed and chopped

3 cups green cabbage, chopped

3 cups frozen kale, thawed

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup nondairy butter

1 to 1-1/4 cups soy milk

Directions:

Place the potatoes in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, leek, and cabbage; sauté until softened. Add the kale, garlic, salt and pepper. Continue to cook until tender; remove from heat.

Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Stir in the kale and cabbage mixture. Heat the nondairy butter in 1 cup of the soy milk in the microwave and pour over the potatoes. Mash with a potato masher, adding more soy milk if necessary. Check the seasoning and serve hot.

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Here it is, the best for last. And the absolute best use for leftover corned beef (in fact, I always double the corned beef recipe to ensure leftovers): the mighty Reuben sandwich. The king of all sandwiches, really. Teese mozzarella cheese, Bubbies sauerkraut, sliced red onion and homemade Thousand Island dressing between two layers of corned beef on dark rye bread from the bread machine. Oh, how I love thee, Reuben!

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♥ Sausage, Chestnut And Mushroom Stuffing

Happy Christmas . . . five days ago. Yeah, yeah. I’m a procrastinator and a slacker. Guess what my New Year’s resolution is going to be.

It hardly seems like December here in South Lake Tahoe. We should have several feet of snow by now. Instead, it’s unseasonably warm and sunny. The snow machines are working overtime on the mountains. Meanwhile, the beaches are still accessible.

Nevada Beach with Heavenly in the background.

Call me crazy, but I chose to spend the holidays doing this:

Man-made snow at Heavenly Mountain.

Instead of this:

Holiday insanity at a random Walmart.

“Baby” S came home for Christmas, too. I spent a fair amount of time in the kitchen making his requested foods, like the Irish Car Bomb Cake. The traditional holiday cookies. And, the best holiday dessert, ever: Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake. And, of course, our traditional holiday foods.

This stuffing is one of my favorite things about the holidays. By the time Halloween rolls around, I am already jonesing for it. I don’t remember where the original recipe came from, but it wasn’t a vegan recipe to begin with and we’ve made so many changes to it over the years that we now call it our own. But, you don’t have to wait for a holiday to enjoy stuffing. Sometimes I halve this recipe for a regular old Sunday dinner side dish.

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Sausage, Chestnut And Mushroom Stuffing

Ingredients:

1 pound Gimme Lean sausage

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1 teaspoon ground sage

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili peppers

1 yellow onion, chopped

6 stalks celery with leaves, chopped

1-1/2 pounds mushrooms, halved (quarter the larger ones)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 stick non-dairy butter

±14 ounces vegetable or No Chicken (preferred) broth

2 8-ounce cans water chestnuts, drained, rinsed and chopped

3 teaspoons ground sage

6 to 8 cups dried, unseasoned bread cubes (I use half sourdough and half whole wheat bread)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325F.

Brown the sausage in the oil over medium heat with fennel seed, sage, salt and red pepper flakes.  Add the onion, celery, mushrooms and garlic and cook until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the non-dairy butter and the broth and bring the liquid to boiling.  Remove from the heat and add the water chestnuts and the sage; stir to combine.

Pour the sausage mixture over the bread cubes and stir to combine.  Add more broth if necessary.

Bake in a large shallow dish (I use an 11 x 15″ 4-quart Pyrex), covered with foil, for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes to brown.

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Now that the holidays are winding down, it’s time to dust off my copy of Appetite For Reduction and do some serious damage control. Yes, dear readers. That will be New Year’s resolution number 2 for me.

"Baby" S on the slopes. He grew the mustache just to irritate me, I think.

♥ 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.