November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving | 11-25-10 Three years old

After two days of prepping and cooking, it's over. Well, not exactly, if you count leftovers, but Thanksgiving dinner 2010 is a thing of the past. I hope those of you who celebrated, whether peacefully and quietly, or in a riotous crowd, enjoyed the holiday. We had a three-generation family celebration with everyone contributing to the menu (except little Miss E of course — she contributed her charm). On Wednesday I posted photos of the planned dinner, and yesterday I was just too tired to post anything at all. So here's a little wrap-up, including my opinion on raw butternut squash salad.

We started the meal by munching on appetizers. Our youngest son and his girl friend made creamy smooth and scrumptious baba ghannouj and hummus, and yes, they roasted the eggplants on the gas stove burner. The hummus was especially creamy because they removed the skins from the chickpeas — something I would probably never have the patience to do. In the upper left of the photo you can barely see the cashew-walnut cheese I made. I covered it in black pepper, smoked paprika and green onions to disguise its weird purplish color. I think adding walnuts to the cashews was the cause of the odd shade, but the taste and texture were great. I made it in my Vitamix and it was ultimately creamy. The spreads were perfect with the home-made pita brought by our middle son, fake triscuits from Whole Foods, and carrot sticks.

When our oldest son and daughter-in-law showed up with this appetizer tray, I wondered why I had bothered to cook the rest of the meal. I think we would all have been happy to munch the appetizers and have a little dessert.

But, alas, we managed to also eat a full meal. Here's the stuffed seitan.

To accompany it we had a few sides, like roasted brussels sprouts with rosemary and garlic. I could eat these every night.

These are the leftover sweet and tart carrots, which I forgot to photograph last night. I made them with capers this year because we seem to have a lot of capers.

I really love cranberry sauce so I always make way too much, thinking everyone else loves it as much as I do. I'm thinking pancakes with cranberry sauce on top for breakfast tomorrow. We'll be having pancakes because Miss E is sleeping over tonight, and she likes cranberry sauce as much as I do. Genetic, I guess.

I think this dish, green onion salsa from Viva Vegan, was the star of the meal — everyone loved it. I made it with Italian flat parsley instead of cilantro because one of our guests hates cilantro. It's supposed to go with empanadas, but I thought it would be a nice condiment with seitan and stuffing.

And here's the raw butternut squash salad from Mark Bittman. OK, I tried it, and it's very pretty; I made it with dried cherries instead of raisins to accommodate our raisin-hater. Some people liked it and some didn't. I found it a tad, um, slimy, and won't be making it again. I'll probably cook the leftovers and turn them into soup. But, hey, it's a Mark Bittman recipe, so who are you going to believe, him or me?

Here's the obligatory picture of my plate. At the bottom is the potato kugel brought by our oldest son. I LOVE this dish, and for me, no holiday would be complete without it. But, did I remember to take a photo? Nope.

Finally, we reach the end of the feast. Here is an apple-blueberry tart sweetened with apricot jam. I was making this up pretty much as I assembled it. The crust, however, was from The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life, and was made the day before Thanksgiving and held in the freezer. I made a tart instead of a pie so I used the leftover dough from the double-crust recipe to make little stars for the top.

And last but not least, is the pumpkin pie. It's a fat-free pie from Happy Herbavore, but I couldn't help myself from putting chocolate chips on top during the last 10 minutes of baking. I won't disclose how many pieces I ate last night, nor today. That's enough about that.


This blog was three years old ... yesterday
I meant to have a post on Thanksgiving, because who could think of a better day to have a blog birthday? But I forgot. I wanted to thank you, the people who read this blog, for reading and commenting, and just for being there. The world seems a much cozier place because of all of you, readers and bloggers from around the world, who post thoughts and ideas and endless wonderful recipes. THANK YOU.


  1. What an incredible feast! Also, Happy blog birthday!

  2. Wow! Very impressive!! My meal wasn't nearly as fabulous!

  3. Oh, Andrea, that apple-blueberry tart is beautiful! What a gorgeous dinner you must have had.

    And congratulations on your 3 years of blogging! That is quite the accomplishment. I know it must be time consuming to blog and photograph your food etc., but it truly is appreciated! I hope you enjoy your weekend :-)


  4. Jackie,
    Thank you and thank you.

    Bunz of Cinnamon,
    Maybe it just looks better than it was. I'm sure yours was great!

    The dinner was fun. I like to make dinners like this occasionally, though I don't do it often. I can't even begin to imagine how hard it must be to be a cook in a restaurant and do it every night.

    Thanks for your loyal readership, Courtney. I appreciate you more than you know. :)

  5. Happy 3 year blog birthday!

    Wow Andrea, it all looks so delicious... the baba ganouj and the appetizer plate literally made my stomach grumble while I gazed at them. The stuffed seitan roast looks absolutely gorgeous, very beautiful. I can imagine that the green salsa would be really good with it.

    The blueberry/apricot tart is so eye-catching! I love it. Very pretty, and I'm sure delicious.

    Oh, and I'll take your word over Mark Bittman's bad about the butternut salad...sounded promising, but making soup with the leftovers is a great idea.

    Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

  6. Oh, my god. What a great-looking meal this is. No wonder you were tired! The cashew-walnut cheese! I hope you will blog it separately sometime. That appetizer plate! The stuffed seitan! Re the butternut squash salad, the soup thing will be awesome, and cranberry sauce freezes beautifully if you and Miss E don't eat it all up. I wanted something like potato kugel today, but will have to content myself with your pictures. What a spread.

  7. Even as full as I still am, this all looks so tantalizing and delicious! Especially the cranberry sauce (I'm a fiend for the stuff myself) and the apple-blueberry tart, which is stunning and should grace the cover of VegNews magazine, at the very least. (Seriously, you made it up as you assembled it? I'm not worthy. But I intend to keep following your blog anyway.) :-)

    And Happy Blog Birthday! Congratulations on three years of inspirational, educational and entertaining blogging!

  8. Looks lovely and delicious. I love your cranberries! We had a good time at ours, and I made waaaaaay too much food, and ate waaaaay too much as well. This evening it was all leftovers :)

  9. Rose,
    The appetizers were the best part of the dinner; I've got some clever cooks in the family. I still can't believe I didn't like the butternut squash salad — I was convinced it would be delicious. Hope you're enjoying a little time off this weekend!

    I based the cheese on a recipe from chocolate and zucchini blog, but then I saw I had an almost identical recipe on my blog. Adding the walnuts was a last minute inspiration, and although the result tasted good, in retrospect I wouldn't do it again (for company) because of the color. I should freeze the cranberries. We'll see.

    About the tart, thank you for the compliments. I did think about it a little before I did it, but wasn't sure exactly how it would all play out until I was making it. I could be considered unorganized, but I'll take your evaluation instead. :D

    I ate way too much last night AND tonight. Tomorrow I go back to my normal diet of lettuce and carrots.

  10. This looks amazing. I've been meaning to try roasted brussel sprouts forever and I think that picture convinced me to do so!

  11. What a meal! I would have loved the appetizers too. Both pies look amazing as well.

    I am not a huge fan of raw squash either--unless dehydrated. I've never tried any of Mark Bittman's recipes but I have heard they are pretty good.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. wow where do i start? how about with a big congratulations on three years blogging!!

    all of this looks so good! you said the seiten was stuffed? how was it? good? (looks great)

    that fat free pie needs to be explained,,,in recipe form!!!!

    ill do the same thing, make something really healthy than at the last minute add something liek choc chips!

  13. Happy (belated) blogiversary, Andrea! :)

    Your dinner looks fabulous - the apple-blueberry tart specially is so pretty!

    Stuffed seitain is something I have never had, but definitely want to try one day. Do you have a good recipe, or is it a family secret? ;)

  14. Aimee,
    The pumpkin pie can be made gluten-free, as well as fat-free by using rice flour. It makes its own crust, though mine didn't have much of a crust, I didn't miss it at all.

    Thank you. And thanks for reading and commenting!
    I got the recipe for the pumpkin pie from Happy Herbivore. Her pie has much more of a crust than mine did, but it was still good. I think though, I like my old recipe better, and someday I should post it. It's very simple, but it does need a crust.

    Thanks! I don't really have a recipe for the seitan — it's more of a set of directions for assembly.

  15. Oh, Andrea, so much to comment on - I'm probably going to forget some of it. First off, how wonderful that your sons and their SO's bring such good things to eat. I can just imagine how good they tasted. And, I agree with you: looking at all those amazing appetizers, I would have just filled up on those and dessert. Yum. Your seitan roast - I don't know how you do it. I looked at your previous post and your link, but it looks so high tech for me; I think I would fail at it. But I'll eat yours when you make me one. As far as you and Mark Bittman: I'll have to take your word for it that he's someone I should know. I've never heard of him, but I've heard of you, so you win my vote. And, Happy Birthday, Blog! Thanks for bringing Andrea into my little life!

  16. Happy 3-year blog birthday! That's great - worth eating yet another piece of pie for I'd say. Your pictures are so bright - we had dinner in well after dark so everything I tried to shoot is orange. Oh well.
    That appy platter looks like heaven.

  17. I think you're right about the walnuts being the purple culprit; I've just made some walnut raisin bread and the dough is tinted aubergine around the walnuts!

    That stuffed seitan AND the pie makes me think you have some professional training!

  18. Congratulations on your blog anniversary!

    Your Thanksgiving food looks so impressive. Beautiful and delicious! The appetizer tray and that wonderful pie. Sounds like you had a great holiday!

  19. Yummy...what an awesome meal you had! I can't believe your son and his girlfriend took the skins off the chickpeas. I'm like you, I would not have the patience to do something like that.

    Your apple blueberry tart is beautiful...It looks like a picture out of a magazine! And putting chocolate chips on that pumpkin pie....all I can say is yummy!

    Everything looks delicious! I'm so glad you guys had a great Thanksgiving...we did too.

    BTW...congratulations on your 3 year anni for your blog....that is awesome!

  20. Blessedmama,
    I don't know, rolling up a cake without breaking it seems harder to me than stuffing a rolled-out piece of seitan, which wouldn't break without a sharp intervention. :D Mark Bittman is a food writer for the New York Times. I heard him speak recently, and was impressed with his promotion of a healthier and more sustainable diet. He's an omnivore with vegan leanings, so to speak.

    Thanks! I'd say I ate my share of pie — maybe more than my share. Most of the photos were taken during the day, which is why they are bright. The appetizers, seitan and my plate were taken at night, which is why they're blurry. (I used a fast lens but didn't have a tripod.) You can minimize the off-colors by setting the white balance in your camera before shooting. (A photographer friend taught me this.) And you can color-correct them after with a free online program called picnik. I usually color-correct with Photoshop, but I used picnik when I didn't have my computer with me last summer, and it worked well and was easy to use.

    I wonder if there's a way to avoid the color without avoiding the walnuts. I soaked the cashews but not the walnuts — maybe soaking them first would have helped.

    No training. In fact, I kind of wrecked the pie crust by adding too much water. But, thanks!

    Thank you. I wish someone would bring me an appetizer day every day. Yum!

    The chickpeas ... I know.

    I think I'll make the tart again — the filling was so easy, I could probably post a recipe. I just have to work on the crust, because I didn't do such a great job with that.

    I'm glad you had a great Thanksgiving — it's a lot of work, but spending time with friends or family and enjoying good food together makes it all worthwhile.

  21. Love love love all the photos, and your plateful of food, and the roasted brussels sprouts with rosemary and garlic (I MUST do this), and oh my that tart, and EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!

    Happy 3rd Birthday to your blog!

  22. Happy blog birthday! We are all fortunate to have you and your blog in our lives!

    I looked back at your other seitan post, and I am soooo in awe. I want to try this next year!!! Or maybe for Christmas. We shall see. That appetizer tray they made is so inspiring, too - I want to make one of those, as well.

    I really love the flowers on your tart. Great job overall on your Thanksgiving feast!

  23. Heidi,
    Thanks so much! We always roast our brussels sprouts now — they taste so good that way.

    Thanks, Jenny.

    I love appetizer trays with lots of little choices. Maybe I'll make one for a party next weekend.

    Miss E really liked the little flowers, too. She thought they were cookies!

  24. What a gorgeous meal! I am coming to your house for Thanksgiving next year.

  25. Kiersten,
    Thanks. You can come, but it will be a lot farther trip than to NJ!

  26. Happy, happy blog birthday! And so sorry I missed the whole thing--I am so backed up in my Google REader! Well, it's like Thanksgiving all over again. ;) The food all looks terrific, especially those pies--I'm sure I wouldn't be able to resist, either.

  27. I am way late on this, but your Thanksgiving looked DELICIOUS! So pretty!


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