Tag Archives: vegan thanksgiving

Vegan Las Vegas

For Halloween I got to go to Las Vegas for the first time and it was surreal. From now on when people from other countries ask me where to visit in the US I think I will say Vegas because it’s the ultimate manifestation of the American experience. Doing research for the trip about where to eat it also seemed like Las Vegas was going to be the most vegan friendly destination ever. All anyone will really tell you is to stay at the Wynn because all of their restaurants are vegan friendly. The Wynn, however, was way out of my price range so we just had a meal there. It was difficult to figure out which of their 20 restaurants to go too because the vegan menus aren’t on their website but, after some searching, I found a pinterest board that has them all Wynn and Encore Vegan Restaurant Menus which was very helpful. I went to make a reservation for Sinatra but then found that they had a dress code and since Dan only had sneakers we had to find something else. Grr! As Austinites, we are just not used to dress codes. I finally settled on La Cave and it was a lovely experience, except for the ever present thumping music. I had the mushroom tortellini, arugula, and cashew cream sauce along with the Gardein chick’n, celery root puree, and lemon caper sauce. Everything was fantastic, it was supposed to be small plates but just one of them would have been quite filling. Luckily, I was able to walk it off since we were staying at the other end of the strip at the Luxor.

I was really glad that we stayed there, and not just because I got a hot deal. Everything is pyramid shaped and it’s connected to the Mandalay Bay shopping center. Along the walkway there are three very vegan friendly restaurants that I learned about on the eating vegan in vegas tumblr. We tried the over-hyped but still really good Slice of Vegas Pizza. It wasn’t the best vegan pizza I ever had but they did have a shockingly vegan friendly menu with sausage, chicken, cheese, meatballs, pasta fagoli, fried caluliflower, garlic bread, and several vegan desserts like cheesecake! Next door has Hussong’s Cantina which has many Mexican plant based options and Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar which has a vegan burger. Downstairs at the Luxor they also had vegan friendly tacos at T&T (Tacos & Tequila). So while the food at the Wynn was amazing if you can’t spend a hundred dollars at every meal the Luxor seemed like the best alternative. Plus you get to live in a pyramid. I walked through most of the other casinos which is fun and exhausting.

New York New York

Paris

And we got to see the Beatles Love Cirque du Soleil which was so beautiful. Now I want to see all my favorite albums transformed cirque style!

On Halloween we dressed up as Axl and Slash which was really fun for the shows at the MGM.

The Vegas Strip made me feel really crazy and I learned that’s a common refrain. You endlessley walk through these casinos and there is loud, horrrible music being blasted every which way, and the noise from the slot machines, and people trying to get you to see naked girls, and people wanting you to buy their vacation packages, and people begging for money, and tons of indoor smoking. By day three I was desperate to get out of there so we took a cab to Komol restaurant, an incredibly vegan friendly Thai restaurant. We got tons of food, a appetizer platter with fried Tofu, spring rolls, fried eggplant, crispy spinach and fried sweet potato, Tom-Kha Soup, Gluten Sukiyaki-Thai Style, and orange tofu. They even had vegan Thai Iced tea. My favorite part was the orange tofu, it was super crispy and delicious. I’ve been craving it ever since. I realized after the ridiculously expensive cab ride that it was about a half mile walk to take the monorail back.

For our last big meal we went to Hakkasan inside the MGM. Even though getting into the restaurant was a maze like everywhere else in Vegas I loved that it was dark with soothing music. Dan had the most delicious cocktail ever, the Green Destiny with Zubrowka Bison Grass vodka, cucumber, kiwi and apple juice. It didn’t even sound that good to me and I ordered wine instead and then tried to steal his drink. Everyone I was with had a lot of trouble deciding what to get but as soon as I saw the Dim Sum plate, I knew there was no other choice. It had morel mushroom dumpling, a truffle beancurd rolla, edamame dumplings, and crystal vegetable dumplings. I think the mushroom was my favorite.

But honestly, even with all the amazing food, glorious shows, and so many of my favorite people I was never so happy to get back to Austin where everything is on a human scale. I think if I do Vegas again I will have to stay off the strip. And eat doughnuts because I was really sad to miss out on that.

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Thanksgiving Report: 2013

Why aren’t there more songs about Thanksgiving? Probably cause we were all too full to write them. I wish I could sing about it. Yesterday was a marathon of cooking, eating, and then watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 with my best beagles and my young man. I made the Unturkey Roast from Vegan Appetite and it was both easy & fabulous.

unturkey

I realized at the last minute I didn’t have any miso so I made the garlic roasted Brussels from Vegan Diner, along with the Diner Dressing and Sage & White Pepper gravy from the same book. Julie Hasson’s recipes are a lot like my family recipes so it’s a great resource. I love that gravy. We doubled the recipe and hardly had any leftovers, we’re such gluttons! I felt like we didn’t have enough vegetables either so I made the Maple Citrus Glazed roasted carrots from Healthy Happy Life. This year I also used cashew cream with the mashed potatoes instead of almond milk and I thought it was perfect for thanksgiving. Finally, I picked up the almond cranberry sauce from Wheatsville because I love it and it did not disappoint. Usually I write this post about what I should remember to do differently next year but I can’t think of anything! It was kind of perfect. Maybe it was particularly great cause I was also drinking spiced hot apple cider with bourbon all day? It’s hard to say. Oh! I know, check your spices that you never use like parsley before you go shopping. That’s all I’ve got.plate

Now I have to spend another day in the kitchen baking for our mega bake sale tomorrow. Please come out and support our effort to help our neighbors who lost everything in the recent floods. I think I’m going to make Spinach Pies and Banana Bread and I’ll be at the Sugar Circus location all morning. Hope y’all had a fantastic Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Dumplins

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Sure New Years is a blast and we all love Casimir Pulaski Day day but Thanksgiving is the best. You don’t have to buy people presents or get dressed up or go “out”, you just stay in, feast, drink wine, and maybe watch a movie. I have spent so much time in the last week deciding what to make and really it is just silly. I can make those dishes any time if I want to, but I guess  it is different; Thanksgiving should be crammed in with as much good food as you can figure out how to fit on your table.

I saw this beautiful page of vegetarian recipes on the New York Times the other day and I knew I had to make the pumpkin dumplings. I am kind of a dumpling fanatic and I had never thought or heard of a pumpkin dumplin, but it makes so much sense! And if you drop the ‘g’ they even rhyme.  We did a couple of substitutions to the original recipe, regular flour instead of gluten-free, and ground flax instead of eggs and they worked beautifully and were very quick to make. The dumplings were very doughy and reminded me of Thanksgiving stuffing; they were very similar in texture. We had the dumplings on top of Thanksgiving spiced rice (sage, celery, thyme, and onions) and it was a great little quick  precursor to the feast.

Thanksgiving Dumplings

We had the best Thanksgiving Dinner ever! I have been working on a recipe for seitan dumplings all week but they didn’t come together perfectly until the actual meal, they were awesome and everyone really liked them more than I thought possible! Here is a picture of one of the earlier versions before I realized that I should wrap them in cheesecloth.The version on thanksgiving was stuffed with a cornbread chorizo dressing that I just loved. I made the stock the day before I made the dumplings so that I would have more time and also because I learned that it is really important to use COLD stock when making seitan. If you want to make this recipe, you could use powdered broth cubes mixed with water but the roasted vegetable stock made a big difference in the final taste of the seitan. I made the dressing while I made the stock and refrigerated overnight. It is easy to make the dressing while stock is simmering because than you can easily add the liquid whatever amount of liquid you need.I didn’t put specific quantities of everything for the stock because I didn’t measure. It will work out regardless, you don’t need to add everything on this list if you don’t have it.
Roasted Vegetable Stock
2 leeks, edges cut off and split in half
2 onions, quartered
3 carrots, halved
3 parsnips, halved
4 stalks celery
bay leaves
thyme sprigs
sage leaves
peppercorns
white wine
soy sauce
water
parsley
vegetable odds and ends (onion skins, garlic tops etc)

Lay the vegetables on a greased cookie sheet. Spray with olive oil and top with thyme sprigs, salt, and sage leaves and place in the oven at 350 degrees for about a half hour until starting to brown. Put the vegetables in a pot along with the other ingredients and cover with water and add the other ingredients. Simmer for an hour and refrigerate over night.

If the cornbread isn’t a day old you can put the cubes in the oven and toast them for a half hour while roasting the vegetables

Chorizo Cornbread Stuffing
1 recipe of day old cornbread, cubed (I used a recipe from “The Dirty South” it was great!)
1 cup of vegan chorizo
1 TBSP oil
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 TBSP garlic
1 roasted skinned and seeded poblano, chopped
1 TBSP fresh cuban oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 TBSP ground flaxseed mixed with 3 TBSP water
~1/2 cup of vegetable stock

Saute the chorizo in a large saute pan and cook about five minutes, until it changes color. Add the oil, onion, and celery and cook until the vegetables are soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and poblano and stir for about a minute and then add the cornbread, tossing the mixture to get it covered. Add stock if necessary to stop the cornbread from sticking and keep the whole thing from drying out. Once the mixture looks softened and like dressing add the herbs, salt if necessary, and the flax-egg.

Thanksgiving Dumplings
Yields 12 dumplings

3 Cups Vital Wheat Gluten
1/4 Cup almond meal
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
6 Cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 Cup olive oil
2 cups stock + 4 cups for baking
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Add the oil and 2 cups of stock and mix with your hands and knead until the gluten becomes activated and stringy. Separate into 12 small balls. Using either a tortilla press or two pieces of parchment paper and a rolling pin, squash the ball of gluten flat. This can be kind of difficult because the gluten isn’t going to want to stretch out. The best way I have found is to press it flat for a minute, and then put something heavy on top of it while you prepare the cheesecloth and the stuffing. Cut a square of cheesecloth that has at least two or three layers folded and is about 6X6 inches and lay it flat. Grab a handful of stuffing and roll it into a ball, about the size of a golf ball, and keep it in one hand when you remove the weight or tortilla press off the flattened gluten. Quickly place the stuffing in the middle of the round and grab the edges surrounding the stuffing with the gluten. Form a ball with your hand, part of the stuffing will probably be uncovered where the edges meet, but that is just fine. You don’t want overlap because than you will have a really thick piece of gluten. Put the opening side down on the square of cheesecloth grab the four corners and twist them together and tie off tightly with a piece of string. Place all 12 balls in a roasting pan, I squeezed them into an 9X9 pan, and cover them completely with stock. Cover with foil or a lid and bake at 350 degrees for 1.5 hours. Unwrap the dumplings and enjoy!

For the rest of the meal, we made jalapeno gravy with roasted poblanos, holiday cranberry sauce, and the mac daddy from the Veganomicon, roasted garlic mashed potatoes,  pumpernickle apple-sage dressing, agave-miso glazed brussels sprouts with red onions,

and my friend Andrea brought a Sri Lankan Sweet Potatoe casserole that was so good.

When we finally got everything to the table it seemed like more food than we could possibly eat, like a cartoon!

The dogs took their places under the table, ready to get any food that dropped to the floor.

and then I put way too much food on my plate

this is where I realized that I would never have to eat again

But then Giovanni busted out the garam masala pumpkin cupcakes while we were playing trivial pursuit and I spent the rest of the night laying around drinking cider. It was the perfect day!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Save a Turkey Day!

Last year I asked one of my co-workers if she wanted to go in on saving a turkey together from Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt a Turkey program. While I was telling her about it another coworker overheard and said he would participate too. The next thing I new we started taking donations and saved three turkeys! This year, with the tiniest bit of organization, we raised a hundred and fifty dollars for Farm Sanctuary! Enough to save a whole flock! I am so excited because it has gotten everyone talking about turkeys and how great they are and the horrible things that happen to them in evil factory farms. And I have learned that I work with some really wonderful people. This morning I saw that farm sanctuary rescued some baby turkeys and they are omg adorable.

In other cute animal news I wanted to tell you a story about our dogs.Dinger, on the right in the charming baby blue sweater, has been sick for the last month. We had to change his food to prescription dog food that is very expensive. Willow, on the left, loves Dinger more than anyone in the world. She is just crazy about him, but she is very jealous of his special food, even though she has always been perfectly happy before with her dog food. In the past, she would always wait until Dinger had eaten before she ate. If she came near him he would growl and she would sit behind him looking adoringly at him until she got permission.

Since he got the new food she has become totally desperate for it. When we first switched him she went on a hunger strike for a couple days. She went back to eating her own food but occasionally got into his food and wolfed it down psychotically. And I mean totally crazy like a starving dog on the street, not at all like a pampered, sweater-wearing, bed-sleeping, full-bellied house beagle that she is. Dinger has been watching her recent exploits with what appeared to be very little interest until a few days ago.

We noticed that now, when he gets his bowl of food, before he starts to eat, he puts a few pieces of food in his mouth and carries them over to Willow. He drops them on the floor and then goes back to finish his meal. Can you believe that? He knows that she wants the food so bad but we won’t let her have any so he gives her a little treat. They love each other!

And on that note, Happy Thanksgiving even if you are not American. I am so thankful for good people and good dogs in my life.

Miso Glazed Brussels Sprouts

I love Brussels Sprouts. I think they would be more popular if they were called “petite cabbages” or maybe “tiny green balls”. Maybe then green balls would enter the vegan lexicon and could later be used in other ways like vegan slang for when you think a restaurant is going to have vegan options but really everything has animals in it and you leave unsatisfied. We could say things like “The Salt Lick gave me the worst green balls, my balls were so green you’d think my daddy was a leprechaun”. Well maybe that would be kind of horrible.

I usually eat Brussels Sprouts sliced and roasted but for Thanksgiving it is nice to serve them whole and sauced. This recipe doesn’t have to be exact because it will depend on how many sprouts you have, you can use more or less sprouts if necessary just increase the shallots too. If you are going to be using a whole stalk I would double the recipe for the sauce. If you like your sprouts cut in half you can get a nice sear if you lay them flat on the pan when you add them; just start the shallots first, lay them down and then don’t disturb them for 3-5 minutes. If you want them whole, here is the recipe

Miso Glazed Brussels Sprouts

2 shallots, sliced
about 30 Brussels Sprouts, outer leaves and stem trimmed
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon miso
1/2 cup white wine

Heat a skillet on medium high heat with a little bit of cooking oil. Saute the shallots and the Brussels Sprouts until the latter are brown, about five minutes. Separately, whisk together the agave, miso, and wine. Add to the pan, turn the temperature to low and cover. Cook 10 to 12 minutes stirring every now and then until the Brussels are done. Enjoy!

Planning for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, I know it irritates a lot of people for reasons like animal rights, genocide, football, and the start of the Consumer Christmas shopping season. But for me it is all about having a feast with friends and family, adopting turkeys, being thankful for what I have, and a four day weekend where I get to eat awesome leftovers.

I am still not 100% certain on my menu because I want to make everything. I thought I would blog about my ides to get some clarity. An experimental blog post! Last year for the centerpiece I made a seitan roulade from a recipe by Emilie from the conscious kitchen. It was fabulous. The site is sadly no longer functioning but the video and recipe is still up on another site

If you are interested in making something like this but worried about how it will go she even made a video that described the whole process thoroughly so I think it would be a successful dish for anyone to make. I also made her fabulous fig and wild rice stuffing. Last year Robin Roberton, author of 1,000 vegan recipes, posted a similar roulade but her’s had a sausage and oyster mushroom stuffing. I was thinking about a wild rice and sausage stuffing myself, maybe the cherry sage sausages from Vegan Brunch, but it seemed kind of silly to have seitan stuffed with seitan! Maybe I will use tempeh bacon or just stick with the mushrooms.  Or tempeh sausages like in Vegan Brunch, I haven’t tried them but they are supposed to be pretty good. Healthy Happy Life has a couple stuffing recipes, one of which is pretty similar to what I was thinking. Then there is a recipe for an Oaxacan Stuffing that looked fabulous but then I would have to go Mexican for the rest of the meal and I have already been forbidden to go in that direction.  Bryanna Clark Gorgan also has a famous recipe that most people seem to love for a soy & wheat “turkey”. There is another turkey roast with a video on Everyday Dish that looks really good and turkey like if that is what you are craving and I think that one might be my backup.

I think that instead of doing a big roast this year I am going to instead make seitan dumplings that are stuffed and then baked in the oven. Here is a similar idea from Vegan.com where they have personal portions of seitan wrapped with filo dough except mine is going to be more like a casserole. Vegan Dad made individual Thanksgiving potpies with roasted mushroom gravy that look super awesome too.

There are a lot of alternatives to a roast. Jes the Cupcake Punk has not one, not two, but THREE stuffed squash recipes with tutorials included on her blog and includes gluten free recipes. Also, the Veganomicon has a recipe for a chestnut roast that is really good, but I haven’t seen chestnuts at the store yet and, for me, that is more of a Christmas thing so I can sing about it. Then there is the savory nut loaf/hippie loaf route which Vegan Lunch Box has a whole loaf generator! But that is a lot of nuts! Maybe I should see what everyone else wants.Potatoes are important to thanksgiving as well. Mashed potatoes are traditional but so are sweet potatoes! I like garlic smashed potatoes with the skins on. Spinashed potatoes are a somewhat healthier and more colorful alternative. One thanksgiving Bazu made a mix of both kinds of potatoes and parsnips into a puree and I think I might go that route.  Last year I thought if I just made roasted fingerling potatoes it would be good enough, and they were great but it didn’t lead to a lot of leftovers. Plus you can’t roast everything!

The year before I just made sweet potato casserole with pecans & brown sugar and I think I might make something like that again but we need something to put gravy on! For the last few years I haven’t been doing mashed potatoes because I think they are the easiest thing to overeat but this year they could make a shocking comeback.

And speaking of gravy, that is one of the hardest things to decide on because there are so many great vegan gravies that I love; miso, chickpea, white bean, roasted onion, garlic, mushroom, and jalapeno corn gravy are all great! How will I ever decide. Then, I just found out about apple cider gravy that sounds like the perfect Thanksgiving accompaniment. Normally I made a gravy from the seitan stock, maybe I will do that again but turn it into apple cider gravy. Or I might just go traditional, in my family Thanksgivings I was always responsible for the gravy, my Baba taught me how to do it with a roux and I have made it so many times now that it is a specialty.

Brussels Sprouts are key to my Thanksgiving. My Baba loved Brussel Sprouts & as time goes by I have learned to love them too. Last year I made miso glazed sprouts with pearl onions and pecans and they were super but then I made them again for Christmas and didn’t like them as much. They do look really pretty. Maybe I will try them again but with roasted shalots. Or I could go the casserole route and make this Brussels Sprouts HashI also made the Voluptous Vegan cranberry sauce and I didn’t care for it at all. So I don’t know what to do this year. I loved other ones that I have made but now I have no idea where I got the recipes. That is why keeping a blog is so important.  Maybe I will make Martha Stewert’s Cranberry & Cognac sauce but then I will have to tell everyone I got the recipe from Martha! Or this roasted cranberry sauce with jalapenos looks terrific too, but it doesn’t really go with the menu. I also like the look of this recipe for Cranberry Sauce with Red Wine, Pomegranate Molasses, and Mediterranean Herbs.

I am not much of a dessert person but for a feast you have to do something. I was thinking of making an Apple Strudel, but the Pumpkin Pie we made last year from a recipe in the Voluptuous Vegan was really easy to make (yeah, I bought a crust) and really good. I really wanted to make the recipe for Pumpin Shell Casserole too so maybe I will do that, it looks easy and festive.SO this was helpful in helping me decide.

I am going to try and make seitan dumplings, stuffed with bread, sausage, mushrooms, sage, and apples, failing that, I don’t know…. but there are lots of options!

Root bake puree or mashed potatoes

traditional roux gravy made from roasted vegetable stock & apple cider

roasted brussels sprouts with shalots and a miso glaze

cranberry sauce… undecided which kind

pumpkin pie or casserole because I am not going to have time to make a strudel!

 

Please leave me any recommendations with links if possible! Or let me know what you are excited about.