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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Recap

Megan's Thanksgiving 
I recently recommitted to a fully vegetarian lifestyle so this was my first Thanksgiving where I didn't eat ANY Turkey. After making my decision to forgo meat this year I knew I wanted to add a few new creative veggie dishes to our holiday menu. It took some convincing, but my Mom eventually agreed to share the reigns on Thanksgiving this year. Our compromise: she got to make her classic dishes and I got to replace the plain old peas and corn sides with some new vegetarian friendly dishes.

My parents made their classics: the turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and sweet potato casserole. I made raspberry baked brie, rosemary roasted acorn squash, poblano corn pudding, stuffed portobello mushrooms, roasted vegetable medley, mushroom and fall squash barley risotto, brussel sprouts, and fresh cranberry sauce. I was so excited that I may have gone a bit overboard, but then again you can never really have too much food for the holidays...right?

Everything turned out delicious and even though we had a whopping 12 people at our dinner this year we have plenty of leftovers! I'm so glad to have been able to share this wonderful meal with my family.  In addition to me, my brother, and my parents, we had both Grandmas, Aunt Kathleen, My cousins Jessica and James (in from Gainesville), Aunt Sue (drove all the way from Pennsylvania!) and, Julie and Donnie (in from Minnesota). Our Thanksgiving feast was made complete with the addition of everyone's signature dishes: Grandma Valente made green bean casserole, and Aunt Kathleen made a pecan cranberry salad and, Julie made pumpkin and apple pies.

I loved introducing everyone to new vegetables and creative ways of cooking them. Overall my new dishes were well received by vegetarians and carnivores alike. I particularly enjoyed the brussel sprouts and the stuffed mushrooms. We'll definitely be making them again! This vegetarian friendly Thanksgiving feast was truly one for the record books.

Check out that beautiful Thanksgiving spread! Featured here: Grandma's Green Bean Casserole, Mom's Stuffing (made with leeks, raisins, apple and sage), Dad's Sweet Potato Casserole (made with Jamaican rum), my Raspberry Baked Brie appetizer, and Aunt Kathleen's Pecan and Cranraisin Salad. 
We had a cornucopia of side dishes! From top left: Rosemary Roasted Acorn Squash, Brussel Sprouts in a Lemon Butter Parmesan Sauce,  Mushroom and Fall Squash Barley Risotto, and Italian Roasted Vegetables! 
I made a whole recipe of Poblano Pepper and Sweet Corn Pudding and cooked half per recipe specifications. The other half went into my Portabello Stuffing. I added 4T cream cheese, 3 extra slices sharp cheddar cheese, 1T diced green pepper, 1C cooked spinach leaves, the chopped mushroom stems, 1T  chopped scallions, 2T chopped cilantro, 1T copped parsley and 1/4 cup crushed crackers. I stuffed the mushrooms and baked them on 350 for 20 minutes. They turned out amazing!

Mom's fresh mashed potatoes. They turned out so creamy and  fresh chopped parsley made them  one of my favorite dishes of the day.
My first vegetarian Thanksgiving was delicious! I didn't miss the meat one bit. 

Kelsey's Thanksgiving 
This year is the smallest Thanksgiving I've ever had (in terms of people, that is. The food was abundant). It was just my mom, my dad, my sister, and me. Oh, and the begging pups of course! We had turkey (of course), dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, homemade cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, broccoli casserole, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole from scratch, rolls, mini apple pies, and pumpkin pie cheesecake. Did I happen to mention there were only four of us? Yeah... Leftovers!

Traditional green bean casserole is one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, but my mom is not a fan. I decided to find a recipe to make a from-scratch version, instead of using cream of mushroom soup and cans of green beans and mushrooms. I searched one of my favorite blogs, Closet Cooking, and found just the recipe I was looking for. I doubled the amount of cream sauce and skipped the almond slivers. Perfection.

Closet Cooking is also where I found the pumpkin pie cheesecake recipe. Unfortunately, it didn't go so well. Long story short, a smoke disaster ruined the cheesecake. It still made for some good pictures! I'd make it again, sans smoke disaster. Rebecca came through with mini apple pies and homemade poptarts from Smitten Kitchen.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Greek Layer Dip, Tzatziki & Pita Chips

When I received a coupon for a Sabra product from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I knew I wanted to blog about something more than my undying love of Sabra hummus. Creamy, smooth... yumm. My favorite varieties are classic and roasted red pepper. I've tried homemade hummus before, but it's nearly impossible to replicate the texture of Sabra.

Now that I've professed my love, I will share my creation. I knew I wanted to make a dip. I toyed around with the idea of a cream cheese based dip, but quickly put that thought aside. Other Mediterranean dishes came to mind.. tzatziki, greek salad.. Greek Layer Dip? YES! The flavor combination was perfection.

Greek Layer Dip Recipe
Note: The recipe below is only intended for a handful of people. If you're taking this to a party, double it. Also, this is something you need to make the day of! If you let it sit overnight the cucumber, tomato, and lettuce will make it watery.

  • 10 oz. container Sabra classic hummus
  • 1 Tzatziki recipe (see below) OR 1 cup store-bought tzatziki
  • Handful lettuce shreds
  • 1 small Roma tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced, and dried with a paper towel
  • 2 oz. feta cheese crumbles
  • Optional: red onion, green pepper, olives
  • Spread hummus in the bottom of a glass dish (the one I used holds about 5 cups, or 1.25 quarts)
  • Layer remaining ingredients. Tada! Ready to serve.

I made homemade Tzatziki because it was something I'd never done before. A store-bought variety would work just as well, and would make assembling the dip that much faster, but I never do things the easy way (Okay, that's a lie, but we're going to go with it for now). Thanks for the suggestions on Facebook!

Tzatziki Recipe
Makes about 1 cup

7 oz. Fage Total 2% Greek Yogurt
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, finely grated, and water pressed out with paper towels
1 tsp minced garlic
a large pinch of chopped fresh dill

  • Fold ingredients into yogurt. Enjoy!

And because that really wasn't enough effort, I made homemade pita chips, too! Little bit of olive oil and some Zataran's Big & Zesty Seasoning. Pop in the oven at 375 for a few minutes on each side, until the edges start to brown slightly.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Results: Blissful Bites Cookbook Giveaway

Thank you to everyone that entered the Blissful Bites giveaway. We had 27 entries total. You "liked" us on Facebook, you followed us on Twitter, and you left comments telling us your favorite meatless meals: ratatouille, pineapple fried rice, kale chips, vegetarian lasagne, bean and cheese burrito, honey-garlic tofu, black bean burgers and sweet potato fries, and tofu mahaman curry. Mmm! Thanks for all of the ideas, guys.

I made a master list of all our entries, with every person receiving a separate line for each entry method they used. Then, I used the trusty Random.org to generate a random number between 1 and 27. It selected lucky number... 12?

Congratulations, Sully!

Stay tuned for our next giveaway. Any requests? Vegetarian? Baking? Diet-friendly? Gluten-free?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Giveaway: Blissful Bites Cookbook [CLOSED]

Megan and I were recently sent some copies of Blissful Bites: Vegan Meals that Nourish Mind, Body, and Planet. After testing out a few recipes, we definitely found some winners! And what better time to do a vegan cookbook giveaway than Meatless Monday?

Blissful Bites is a cookbook from Christy Morgan, also known as The Blissful Chef. There are more than 175 recipes in this beauty that are categorized by dish type and then sub-categorized into seasons. This is extremely helpful in vegan cooking because you're working with so much fresh produce. I read every page of the First Things First section, and it's clear this chef knows her stuff.

This is "Macro Mac and Cheeze" from the Whole Grains & Carbs Do a Body Good section under Autumn (page 150). It was listed as a fan fave, so I figured this was a safe bet. It called for some ingredients I wouldn't normally buy (white miso, anyone?) but it was worth it. To get this recipe, you'll have to buy the book... or WIN IT!
This is the Southwest Tofu Scramble (page 53). I love tofu scrambles, and this is way better than any of my creations.

 Megan's Thoughts: This book makes vegan meals easy and approachable for beginners. I made the Carrot-Ginger Tofu (page 198). This recipe was simple and so flavorful. Best of all... it didn't call for any obscure ingredients I wouldn't normally purchase! 
3 Ways to Win (Each is an additional entry)
  1. "Like" What Tasty Food and The Blissful Chef on Facebook and comment on the WTF wall saying, "Enter me to win Blissful Bites from The Blissful Chef!"
  2. Follow What Tasty Food and The Blissful Chef on Twitter and tweet the following: "Enter to win "Blissful Bites" cookbook from @WhatTastyFood and @TheBlissfulChef http://tinyurl.com/6uoqa8o #vegan #giveaway" Note: if your Twitter is private, we will not be able to see your @ reply.
  3. Comment below telling us one of your favorite meatless meals.
Giveaway ends Monday, November 14, 2011 at 4 p.m. EST. Make sure there's a way for us to get into contact with you if you win. http://www.facebook.com/LikeTheBlissfulChef


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