Thanksgiving dinner review and taste test!

Thanksgiving was a success!

It was also very tiring.

I cooked, with a bit of help with prep work and clean up, for about six and a half hours, we ate for about 30 minutes, and then we cleaned up for an hour or so. A long day but a good day! None of the new recipes I tried were too difficult but doing them all for one meal was a lot. We have continued to enjoy them, in various combinations and versions, for the past few days so it was worth it.

Here's my review of the recipes:

Appetizer- Cranberry Walnut Cheeze Ball

I have never been a big fan of the various cashew cheeze recipes I have tried so I did not have high hopes for this one. It surprised me though, because although everyone thought it look quiet weird they all really liked it. It did not taste like cheeze at all but it did have good flavor and the cashew and cranberry combination worked really well. We enjoyed it with crackers but I did not put any in my salad. It was extremely easy to put together, maybe took 10 minutes to make, not counting the waiting for the soaking of the cashews and the setting up of the cheeze. None of the leftovers have been eaten as of Sunday night.

7/10

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Dinner- Stuffing

This one was the big winner! It was savory and a bit sweet and really delicious! Great combination of flavors. My husband said he would love for this to be made again. It probably required 30 minutes of chopping and sautéing and then and hour total to bake the veggies and then the entire dish. The leftovers are 3/4 of the way gone.

9.5/10

IMG_4199

Mashed potatoes and gravy

The mashed potatoes were good but just your regular mashed potatoes. I did not add tons of spices or vegan cheezes just basic but tasty. I had a rollercoaster relationship with the gravy. I did find he dried wild mushrooms but they smell really smoky and not in a good way, kind of like dog food. There is a point in the recipe were you have all your seasoning and veggies sautéing and then you need to add the mushrooms and I serious had to think for a minute about other adding them would ruin the recipe. I ended up adding less of the reserved mushroom liquid and more red wine and it came out surprisingly good. It was a very intense gravy but the flavors were good. We ended up with a lot of the gravy and we have used some of the leftovers. It was pretty easy to make, probably an hour in total. I did blend the gravy to make it smooth. I do not think I would have enjoyed it chunky.

8/10

IMG_4191

Green Beans

I kept the green beans super simple but they were really good. I bought fresh green beans and baked them with olive oil, vegan butter, minced fresh garlic, dried garlic, salt, and pepper. My husband and his mom like their vegetables well done, and then they were kind of forgotten in all the other cooking, so they were really well done and maybe over done (or burnt, oops) for some but we really enjoyed them. I thought I bought a lot but we only had enough for each person to have one serving. Very easy to make, 10 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to cook.

8.5/10 (9/10 if I had not burnt them)

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Harvest Salad

This was a version of a salad from my e-book, Refresh: a 14 day Food & Mood Makeover, but honestly this version was better. I used field greens and topped them with celery, granny smith apples, pecans, dried cranberries, dried cherries, and pumpkin seeds. I ate the leftovers a couple days later and added fresh orange segments and that was really good too! The dressing was homemade and simply olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh orange juice, fresh sage, salt, and pepper. It only took 10 minutes to throw together and was really tasty!

10/10

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Garden Herb Biscuits

These were the first thing I made because we had them for breakfast too. This was the first time I have ever made biscuits from scratch and I still have a lot to learn. They were good but a very dense biscuit. They had really good flavor but not the soft flaky pillowy texture you love about biscuits. Maybe that was how they were supposed to be, I don't know. I've eaten several more over the last few days and they have gotten better with time. Being closed in a tuberware container they have become softer, still dense but softer. I microwave them for 20 seconds, add some vegan butter and cranberry sauce (mixed with some cherry glaze and fresh OJ) and they are really good! With my husband and I working together it took us probably 30 minutes to prep and then they baked in about 20-25 minutes.  

8/10

IMG_4194_copy1

Dessert- Cherry Pie a la mode

This was my first time making a complete pie from scratch. It was really good. Surprisingly my favorite part was the crust, which is crazy because it was a really simple recipe. The only change I made was doing half butter and half refined coconut oil instead of all butter. The pie was pretty simple to make, maybe 30 minutes to prep (mostly that was making and rolling out the dough- cutting the butter and coconut oil into the flour takes some time) and about 50 minutes to bake. We baked it while we ate dinner. I added some Ben and Jerry's vegan Cherry Garcia ice cream to it and it was quite good. One change I would make in the future was I did not add the liquid from the cherry, sugar, corn starch combination because I thought it might make it soggy but I think I should have added it. I think it would have made the pie gooier in a good way. Instead, I took the liquid, reduced it over low heat, and added it as a glaze to the pie. That was a great addition. Some of the leftovers have been eaten but we do still have a few slices left.

8.5/10

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So all in all we had a very delicious Thanksgiving. While it was a lot of work I was glad to share it with my family who joined. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! To leave you with a smile here is my brother, Tyler's, taste test of all the food. Enjoy!

~Laura Elisabeth







Thanksgiving dinner review and taste test!

Thanksgiving was a success!

It was also very tiring.

I cooked, with a bit of help with prep work and clean up, for about six and a half hours, we ate for about 30 minutes, and then we cleaned up for an hour or so. A long day but a good day! None of the new recipes I tried were too difficult but doing them all for one meal was a lot. We have continued to enjoy them, in various combinations and versions, for the past few days so it was worth it.

Here's my review of the recipes:

Appetizer- Cranberry Walnut Cheeze Ball

I have never been a big fan of the various cashew cheeze recipes I have tried so I did not have high hopes for this one. It surprised me though, because although everyone thought it look quiet weird they all really liked it. It did not taste like cheeze at all but it did have good flavor and the cashew and cranberry combination worked really well. We enjoyed it with crackers but I did not put any in my salad. It was extremely easy to put together, maybe took 10 minutes to make, not counting the waiting for the soaking of the cashews and the setting up of the cheeze. None of the leftovers have been eaten as of Sunday night.

7/10

IMG_4187_copy1

Dinner- Stuffing

This one was the big winner! It was savory and a bit sweet and really delicious! Great combination of flavors. My husband said he would love for this to be made again. It probably required 30 minutes of chopping and sautéing and then and hour total to bake the veggies and then the entire dish. The leftovers are 3/4 of the way gone.

9.5/10

IMG_4199

Mashed potatoes and gravy

The mashed potatoes were good but just your regular mashed potatoes. I did not add tons of spices or vegan cheezes just basic but tasty. I had a rollercoaster relationship with the gravy. I did find he dried wild mushrooms but they smell really smoky and not in a good way, kind of like dog food. There is a point in the recipe were you have all your seasoning and veggies sautéing and then you need to add the mushrooms and I serious had to think for a minute about other adding them would ruin the recipe. I ended up adding less of the reserved mushroom liquid and more red wine and it came out surprisingly good. It was a very intense gravy but the flavors were good. We ended up with a lot of the gravy and we have used some of the leftovers. It was pretty easy to make, probably an hour in total. I did blend the gravy to make it smooth. I do not think I would have enjoyed it chunky.

8/10

IMG_4191

Green Beans

I kept the green beans super simple but they were really good. I bought fresh green beans and baked them with olive oil, vegan butter, minced fresh garlic, dried garlic, salt, and pepper. My husband and his mom like their vegetables well done, and then they were kind of forgotten in all the other cooking, so they were really well done and maybe over done (or burnt, oops) for some but we really enjoyed them. I thought I bought a lot but we only had enough for each person to have one serving. Very easy to make, 10 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to cook.

8.5/10 (9/10 if I had not burnt them)

IMG_4205

Harvest Salad

This was a version of a salad from my e-book, Refresh: a 14 day Food & Mood Makeover, but honestly this version was better. I used field greens and topped them with celery, granny smith apples, pecans, dried cranberries, dried cherries, and pumpkin seeds. I ate the leftovers a couple days later and added fresh orange segments and that was really good too! The dressing was homemade and simply olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh orange juice, fresh sage, salt, and pepper. It only took 10 minutes to throw together and was really tasty!

10/10

FullSizeRender 2

Garden Herb Biscuits

These were the first thing I made because we had them for breakfast too. This was the first time I have ever made biscuits from scratch and I still have a lot to learn. They were good but a very dense biscuit. They had really good flavor but not the soft flaky pillowy texture you love about biscuits. Maybe that was how they were supposed to be, I don't know. I've eaten several more over the last few days and they have gotten better with time. Being closed in a tuberware container they have become softer, still dense but softer. I microwave them for 20 seconds, add some vegan butter and cranberry sauce (mixed with some cherry glaze and fresh OJ) and they are really good! With my husband and I working together it took us probably 30 minutes to prep and then they baked in about 20-25 minutes.  

8/10

IMG_4194_copy1

Dessert- Cherry Pie a la mode

This was my first time making a complete pie from scratch. It was really good. Surprisingly my favorite part was the crust, which is crazy because it was a really simple recipe. The only change I made was doing half butter and half refined coconut oil instead of all butter. The pie was pretty simple to make, maybe 30 minutes to prep (mostly that was making and rolling out the dough- cutting the butter and coconut oil into the flour takes some time) and about 50 minutes to bake. We baked it while we ate dinner. I added some Ben and Jerry's vegan Cherry Garcia ice cream to it and it was quite good. One change I would make in the future was I did not add the liquid from the cherry, sugar, corn starch combination because I thought it might make it soggy but I think I should have added it. I think it would have made the pie gooier in a good way. Instead, I took the liquid, reduced it over low heat, and added it as a glaze to the pie. That was a great addition. Some of the leftovers have been eaten but we do still have a few slices left.

8.5/10

FullSizeRender_1

IMG_4216_copy


So all in all we had a very delicious Thanksgiving. While it was a lot of work I was glad to share it with my family who joined. Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! To leave you with a smile here is my brother, Tyler's, taste test of all the food. Enjoy!

~Laura Elisabeth







Thanksgiving!

The last time we had Thanksgiving at my house was in 2011.

While the meal was delicious it was far from the way I cook and eat now. Since the spring of 2010 I have been on a journey to discovering what best nourishes me- body and mind- and that has lead me to being vegetarian with heavy vegan preferences and tendencies. I love the creativeness of cooking vegan, taking some of my favorite childhood meals and making them better for my health, the animals, and the environment.

So here we are, three days before Thanksgiving and my mission is to create a delicious Thanksgiving feast without the beast, hehehe...

Below are the tasty recipes, from fellow foodies, that I will use in this mission. I have never made any of them so this should be fun. Some may fail but lets hope for my Thanksgiving day guests that most are successful. We will all find out in a few days. Stay tuned for a Thanksgiving day taste test!

If you are looking for some vegan options this post is for you and even if you are having some beast this Thanksgiving I hope these recipes inspire you to add a few more delicious veggies to your meal this Thursday. Enjoy!

Appetizer- Cranberry Walnut Cheeze Ball
I am not a huge homemade cashew cheese fan but I have found one store bought version that is good so we will give this another try. Wish me luck!
cheeseball


Dinner- Stuffing
I've heard it's only stuffing if it is stuffed inside a bird to cook but I ate Stovetop Stuffing my whole childhood so I am more a call it stuffing person than dressing. Just my two cents. Anyway, regardless of what you call it this looks delicious! I have high hopes!
Stuffing

Mashed potatoes and gravy
I will make my own mashed potatoes by combining boiled potatoes with unsweetened almond milk, vegan butter, salt, pepper, and garlic power but will top it with this tasty looking mushroom gravy. I am not sure if I will be able to find the dried mushrooms so I may just use fresh mushrooms and I will use an immersion blender to make the gravy nice and smooth.
gravy

Green Beans
I will use a super simple recipe for garlicky green beans that is pretty much just that- green beans, fresh garlic, vegan butter/coconut oil, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. In order to get a pretty picture though I did look up a recipe so you can follow along with the one above. 
greenbeans

Harvest Salad
This is a version of a salad from my e-book, Refresh: a 14 day Food & Mood Makeover, and will be a combination of mixed greens, thinly sliced Granny Smith or Fuji apples, celery, cranberries, walnuts, maybe some pumpkin seeds, and either a homemade dressing or most likely Health Starts Here no-oil balsamic dressing. I may even add a bit of the cheeze ball from above, oooh la la!
FullSizeRender

Garden Herb Biscuits
These would be great with dinner or as a light breakfast (add some fresh fruit) before the main event! Not that we need it in this meal but they are also a way to add in some extra veggies, yum!
biscuit

Dessert- Cherry Pie a la mode
Although I know I should make a pie crust from scratch, like in the recipe, I am pretty sure I will swing by Publix and buy their accidentally vegan pie crust. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to your pie and you have perfection!
cherry pie

I Hope you enjoy these delicious and a bit more nutritious recipes! If you are someone who needs a main course there are plenty of vegan vegetable loaf recipes that look tasty but I am trying to limit my cook time and know I will be completely filled with these savory sides and sweet desserts! Let me know if you have any favorite Thanksgiving recipes!

~Laura Elisabeth






















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