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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Turkey Substitute Roundup

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So, I’ve been a vegetarian for half of my life now.  That means 15 Thanksgivings without turkey.  The first couple of years it was all about the sides.  I know PLENTY of people that aren’t vegetarians that prefer the sides anyway.  So, it didn’t really seem like that big of a deal to just not eat turkey.  Well, the years went on and my cooking skills did in fact increase (or at least I wasn’t burning things in the microwave anymore…).  I decided to throw a Thanksgiving holiday dinner for friends when I had moved to Baltimore, so I thought I should serve something “turkey like”.  Here are four different turkey substitutes that I have served at Thanksgivings or other holiday dinners.

Tofurky

This is the most well known substitute and when you tell people you are a vegetarian on thanksgiving, they will for sure ask if you are going to eat one.  There are some big pros to this item.  It’s both a protein source and has stuffing in one, so you don’t HAVE to make more stuffing.  The gravy that comes with it may look a little strange, but is actually quite good.  It’s actually the best prepared vegan gravy I’ve found.  The biggest downside I’ve found to the tofurky is that when it cools, it gets kind of rubbery.  The taste is fine, but the texture becomes slightly offensive.  I’ve never tried any of the “fancy” ways to prepare  the roast, but there are some fun recipes found on the site.  Tofurky is vegan.

Quorn Turk’y Roast

This was my second foray into a turkey substitute.  I had tried the naked cutlets and really liked them, so I wanted to try the roast.  THIS WAS GOOD.  Like really good. Like not just as a substitute good.  I’ve been told it both looks like and tastes very much like a pork loin, but I would have no idea.  The interesting thing about quorn is that it’s made from mycoprotein (mushroom derivative).  Before you condemn this product for being mushroom, it doesn’t actually taste like mushrooms.  My sister who HATES mushrooms loves this.  I would not follow the instructions on the box and cook the roast IN the packaging.  Take off the plastic and roast it with veggies.  I don’t eat this anymore as there is egg in the roast, but if I ate eggs this would be what I eat.

Field Roast

I wasn’t able to try the celebration roast, which apparently is pretty delicious, but I was able to snag a Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute.  The texture is a bit like soft vegan sausage.  And I did not really see a distinction in between the sausage part and the stuffing that was supposed to be there.  BUT.  This was pretty tasty.  The inside was very flavorful and had lots of herb flavors.  I made this with some stuffing and some southern style kale for a Manucci thanksgiving this year.  I think it went over pretty well.  This is vegan and very delicious.

Gardein Holiday Roast

So, I’ve been saving the best for last.  This is by far the most delicious turkey substitute out there.  And I really wouldn’t even qualify the roast as only JUST good as a turkey substitute.  It’s just plain old DELICIOUS.  I actually went back to Whole Foods to try to get some more and they were completely sold out.  Gardein is pretty new in the vegan substitutes field, but it has quickly exploded into the field.  I haven’t found a bad product yet and I will continue to keep trying as many products as possible.  I actually followed the basic instructions by the blog Meet the Shannons to make the roast and stuffing.  FYI, make stuffing with cranberries in it from now on.  SO PRETTY!  The only downside to this product is the gravy.  It needs doctoring up.  For SURE add some spices like thyme, garlic, and rosemary.  It adds so much to the fairly bland gravy.  This is totally vegan.

 

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Pumpkin Maple Rolls

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I love pumpkin.  It’s delicious and really good for you without all the added sugar to it (though I do love some sugar…).  And while you can buy canned pumpkin year round, I tend to sort of only want pumpkin during the fall/winter times.  I really want to at some point try to roast and make my own pumpkin puree, but I do love the convenience of canned pumpkin.  This will actually be the first of two pumpkin recipes that I’ve made recently.

I made these first two weeks ago for a brunch I had with a group of my running buddies.  We went up to the NCR trail and ran 10 miles first.  Then we went back to a friend’s house, where she hosted a VERY lovely brunch at her place, complete with protein shots and mimosas!  In an effort to want to try this recipe before I brought them to my in-laws, I made these first for the group and they went over so well, I knew I could make them for day after Thanksgiving brunch.  Thanks to Vegan Heartland for creating this recipe.  I really only modified it a touch to add more spice.  This recipe is split into three parts as there are three steps to assembling these rolls.

Dough Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk

    Dough Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup light oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast

Pumpkin dough pre-rising

The official instructions have that you mix all the wet ingredients together in one bowl and sift together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  You would then add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.  I on the other hand just mix everything in one bowl, though I usually add all the wet ingredients first, then add the dry to them.  Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes, then place the dough back in the bowl to rise and cover with a towel.  This step can be done a day or so in advance if need be.

Filling Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)

    Maple filling ingredients

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (plus more for dusting)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup

Rolled out dough

Whip together the filling ingredients.  Using a mixer will make the filling nice and light.  Set this aside.  When the dough has doubled in size, roll it out in a rectangle about 12×16.  Spread the filling evenly over the dough and all the way out to the edges.  Sprinkle some extra pumpkin pie spice for some added punch.  Roll the dough up so that it stays long.  Cut the dough in about 1 inch pieces and add to an oiled baking dish.  Cover and let rise until doubled in size.  This can be done the night/day before you want to bake them.  Bake the rolls at 350 F for 20 to 25 minutes.  Make the icing while the rolls are baking.

Rolling up dough

Icing Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

    Icing ingredients

  • 3 tbsp non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix together all the ingredients.  Once the rolls are out of the oven, pour the icing evenly over the rolls.  ENJOY!

Pre baked rolls

Notes: Yes this may seem like a lot of work, but these are AMAZING.  Also, you really can make the dough a day or so before you need it then store in the refrigerator.  I don’t advise trying to add more pumpkin to the dough mixture without adding more flour.  It makes the dough pretty sticky.  Also, you can sub in honey or some other liquid sweetener other than maple syrup.  But syrup is very delicious, so I used it.

Ready to eat!

 

 

Coconut Curry Tofu

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Canned tomatoes

Sometimes you want a REALLY flavorful dinner that’s not difficult to make.  Yes you can make a baked potato (my favorite easy meal) or microwave a frozen dinner, but other times you want REAL food and fast.  This recipe is surprisingly easy and requires very little work.  I got the recipe from this AWESOME cookbook that my mother-in-law got for me for Christmas/Hanukkah last year.  It’s called “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” by Mark Bittman.  If you’ve never heard about Mark Bittman, he’s a champion of REAL food.  He promotes healthy food that tastes great and the use of meat sparingly.  I agree with his philosophy whole-heartedly.  While I may not eat meat, I appreciate others that limit their intake and know where their meat comes from.

Cubed tofu and chopped carrots

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium onions quartered

    Coconut milk and curry powder

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 28 0z canned tomatoes (puree or anything without spices added)
  • 2 tsp oil (I used coconut)
  • 2 Tbsp curry or garam masala (use curry if you want spicier)
  • 1.5 to 2 lbs extra firm tofu (pressed to remove water)
  • 1.5 cups vegetables (I used carrots and peas and closer to 2.5 cups)
  • 1 can coconut milk (I used light)
  • Chopped cilantro, salt, pepper to taste

Pureed onions

Combine the onions, garlic, and tomatoes in a food processor and puree.  I used tomatoes that I had canned during my crazy canning period.  Again, to make things easiest, you can used canned pureed tomatoes and just puree the onions and garlic.  This may have to be done in batches depending on size of your food processor.

Puree with spices simmering

Add oil to pan and heat over medium heat.  When hot add the puree to the pan.  Add salt, pepper, and curry to the mix.  Stir occasionally until the mixture looks like a sauce.  Should be about 10 minutes.

Stew getting going…

Add the cubed tofu and vegetables to the pot.  Allow the mixture to simmer for about five to 10 minutes.  Add the coconut milk and taste.  Add more salt and pepper if need be and add cilantro if you like at this time.

Serve with brown rice.

Finished stew

 

Bottle Shock Review

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If you look up the movie Bottle Shock on IMDB, it will give you like minded movies.  They include Juno, Thank You for Smoking, Sunshine Cleaning, and Lars and the Real Girl.  These are all movies that I have enjoyed, so it should be no suprise that I liked Bottle Shock.

I saw this movie on Netflix a few months ago and had never gotten around to watching it.  Well, hurricane Sandy came and I ended up with a four day weekend.  So, needless to say, I was itching to watch a good movie.  Honestly, my biggest complaint about the movie has nothing to do with the movie itself , but has to do with the fact that Netflix put this movie in the documentaries section.  This is not a documentary.  So, if you see this movie and are turned off by the idea that it is a documentary, I promise you it is not.  There are no original scenes from the historical French vs. California wines showdown.  I digress…

This movie is about Napa Valley coming into its own.  It centers around a winery called Chateau Montelena.  The winery is struggling to make the BEST chardonnay ever.  The owner’s son, Bo, “works” at the vineyard, though he spends much of his time wooing women.  A man in France who owns a wine shop and considers himself an expert on wines, wants to host a California (Amercia) vs. Italy blind taste test in Italy with people that have the best palate in the world.  So, he comes to California and happens on Chateau Montelena.  Of course there are more issues between Bo and his father and Bo and his friend Gustavo over a girl.

Chris Pine with long hair. Told you

The drama is not what this movie is about.  You get to see such wonderful sweeping landscape of Napa.  And it really does look like that. Not sure if I’ve mentioned, but Ernie and I went to Napa for our honeymoon.  If you like wine at all, even a little bit, I suggest going at some point in your life.  You don’t have to be a snob.  Actually most places would prefer you NOT being a snob.  It’s just a beautiful place with some really great people.  Back to the movie…  The drama adds just enough to keep the movie from getting stale or too one note.  But there are some points that feel frivolous.  The point where Bo goes to see his mother for money for some new barrels?  Not needed.  Also, HATE the wig/extensions they put on Chris Pine to give him long hair.  It’s pretty distracting actually.  But you do get to learn that the term bottle shock comes from when a bottle of wine is transported, it needs about two weeks to sit/settle before being opened.  The jarring/jostling that happens during transport can taint the true taste of the wine.

I won’t tell you the ending, though I’m sure you can figure it out. I give this movie an 8 out of 10.  It really is good.  And I maybe kind of think Alan Rickman is awesome.