Now that I’m teaching high school, I have a whole new appreciation for Thanksgiving Break. It is necessary.
I’ve spent almost this entire week in pjs and sweatpants, and am pretty sure I’m a better person for it. I’ve caught up on sleep, puppy bonding, restorative yoga practice, my Christmas decorations are up and twinkling happily, and I’ve had the luxury of cooking for fun.
I love culinary adventures.
This week I’ve gotten to take a break from the weekly meal prep scramble. Without rushing or worrying about how well it will keep, I’ve prepared meals for friends and family. As a bonus, I’ve been experimenting with vata-friendly vegetarian dishes (save one DELICIOUS Thanksgiving side that is too yummy to pass up). I am happy to report that my creations have ALL been a resounding success.
Thus, I shall share my findings with you. Enjoy!
SPICY CHICKPEA AVOCADO CUCUMBER BITES (Appetizer)
Surprisingly satisfying! I had planned on making my own cashew crema, but due to time constraints ended up whisking my favorite Chipotle Mayo and drizzling it on top. SO GOOD.
NOTE: I’d suggest two avocados if you’re doing the full recipe. One cucumber with one avocado was more than enough for four people.
WARMLY-SPICED BUTTERNUT SQUASH & ROOT VEGETABLE CHILI WITH PEARS (Main Dish)
This is more of a stew than a chili, but it’s pretty much everything you’ve never known you’ve ever wanted.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Warm sexy spices with grounding root veggies topped off with cocoa powder and red wine (yes, seriously) makes for most unexpected tastebud bliss! I doubled the mushrooms since I had a ton I needed to use, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. Trust me. You will not be disappointed.
Side Note: Since going plant-based, The Roasted Root has become one of my favorite resources for inventive recipes. For the meat eaters, she’s got some Paleo recipes that my former self would have gone wild over!
WILD RICE PILAF WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH, CRANBERRIES, & PECANS (Side Dish)
This rice pilaf is the perfect blend of warm spices (cinnamon, cardamom, etc.) and acidity from the citrus and red wine vinegar. The pecans give it the crunch it needs, and now pretty much all other pilafs will pale in comparison.
NOTE: If you’re using a wild rice blend, you should not cook the rice as instructed. TOTAL FAIL ON MY PART. (Though, Mr. Darcy is thoroughly enjoying the overcooked rice added to his kibble.) Second time around, I cooked the wild rice blend in my rice cooker (still using vegetable stock instead of water) and it was a success.
SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE (Side Dish)
This is one of those recipes that isn’t good for your body, but it’s good for your soul. I made this recipe for Friendsgiving in Guerneville, CA a few years ago, and now it is requested by both friends and family for every major gathering.
2.5 lbs sweet potatoes, cooked & mashed
1/4 c butter, melted
1/4 c white sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c milk
2 c vegan marshmallows
– Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees + spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
– Mix everything except marshmallows in a large bowl (I actually just throw it all in the giant pot I boiled sweet potatoes in because less cleaning is awesome.)
– Spread into baking dish + cover with vegan marshmallows and cook for 30 minutes or until marshmallows have browned.
– Prepare yourself to be the most praised side dish creator of the meal.
FUN FACT: I missed my cousin’s surprise engagement last Christmas Eve due to these stupid sweet potatoes.
PUMPKIN MOUSSE (Dessert)
Light and lovely alternative to pumpkin pie. Also, much easier. I opted for sweetened, condensed milk and omitted the brown sugar. Also, I went with roasted pecans instead of the ginger snaps.
BEST COFFEE TREAT EVER (Beverage)
Mug of coffee
Dash of cardomom
Spoonful of leftover sweetened, condensed milk from pumpkin mouse recipe