Thanksgiving Leftovers: Stuffing Cake Christmas Tree (vegan & plant-based)

A Holiday Hybrid Worth Celebrating!

I continue to upcycle my Thanksgiving Leftovers, first, shaping stuffing into cakes and baking (25 minutes at 350 degrees), then stuffing corn pudding into orange bell pepper halves, baking, and topping with whipped cauliflower and a dollop of cranberry sauce.

For this stack, I gridded the thawed stuffing cakes (they freeze really well) and reprised them this morning. It was the most scrumptious breakfast/brunch, although you could serve it for any meal if you leave off the bourbon maple syrup…but don’t!

In between the cakes, I layered an arugula and butternut squash salad, topping the tree with a drizzle of the syrup, homemade cranberry sauce, a little Follow Your Heart vegan feta, and roasted pepitas.

And I still have half for a snack a bit later.

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Thanksgiving Leftovers Idea #2: Corn Pudding Stuffed Bell Peppers (vegan & plant-based)

Thanksgiving Leftovers Idea #2

Corn Pudding Baked in an Orange Bell Pepper at 350 for 25 minutes.  I topped mine with leftover Whipped Cauliflower with Lemon Zest, Cranberry Sauce, and Roasted and Lightly Salted Pepitas.  Such a cozy quick meal after a packed day on a chilly night.

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Leftover Stuffing Cakes (vegan & plant-based)

Leftover stuffing?

Make Stuffing Cakes! Shape stuffing into patties about 2 1/2-inches in diameter and about 1/2-inch thick. Bake at 350 degrees about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve garnished as desired. I like a little dollop of cranberry sauce, roasted and lightly salted Pepitas, and fresh sage sprigs.

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The BEST Cornbread Stuffing (vegan, plant-based, lower in calories)

Yield: 8 servings

Stuffing is everyone’s favorite, no?  Mine tastes so similar and every bit as delicious as the ones I remember from childhood, yet it is not only vegan but far lower in calories thanks to only 2 tablespoons of oil in the cornbread muffins, water sauteeing of vegetables, and the inclusion of cauliflower pearls rather than white bread. Though I love cauliflower, don’t worry, it does not taste–or smell!–of cauliflower.

And the texture is just perfect thanks to homemade cornbread–with actual corn–that goes together in a flash, sauteed onion plus the green part of green onions, water chestnuts–my late mom’s secret ingredient–and just a few dry roasted pecan halves.

My Mushroom Misto Gravy is the perfect accompaniment.

Note: please do not try to save time by using Whole Foods vegan cornbread. It is sweet enough to be cake and, last year, reacted to liquid like cake turning into a dense mass that ended up in the woods next to our house. I had to redeem myself this year.  And I did!

Cornbread:
Make cornbread a few hours–or a day–ahead:
3/4 cup self-rising cornmeal mix
1/2 cup all purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)
1 tablespoon Vegan Egg (not tested with other egg substitutes but try it and share!)
1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy millk (I use soymilk)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3/4 cup frozen corn

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Grease 6 muffin cups and preheat for about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together dry ingredients.  Make a well in the center and add vegetable oil and water.  Whisk together just until combined.  Season with salt and pepper, and stir in corn.  Divide mixture evenly among muffin cups and bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and, when cool enough to handle, remove cornbread muffins from tin and crumble into a large bowl.  Cover until ready to use.

Stuffing:
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cups cauliflower pearls (buy them prepared or chop in a food processor until the size of small peas)
4 celery hearts, sliced lengthwise, and then finely diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups vegetable stock or broth, divided
1-8 ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
4 green onions, green part only (reserve white part for my delicious fat-free Vegan Mushroom Gravy)
1/4 cup pecan halves toasted for 5 minutes at 350 degrees
3 tablespoons aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)


Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and oil a 9 x 13″ casserole dish.  Cover bottom of large cast iron skillet with water.  Heat over medium-high and then stir in onion, cauliflower, celery, garlic, and poultry seasoning.  Season with salt and pepper and saute, stirring frequently, until tender, adding 1 cup vegetable stock a little at a time.  When vegetables are softened and most of moisture has been absorbed and/or cooked off, remove from heat and add to bowl with crumbled cornbread.  Stir in water chestnuts, green onions, and toasted pecans, moistening with remaining cup of vegetable stock or broth and aquafaba.  The consistency should be that of unbaked bread pudding, so add liquid a little at a time, adding more or less, as needed.  Adjust seasoning if necessary, transfer to prepared casserole dish–avoid packing down–and bake, uncovered, for a half hour.  Serve immediately.

Caramelized Onion, Dried Cranberry & Pistachio Tart (vegan & plant-based)

A Thanksgiving guest you will want at the table: Caramelized Onion, Dried Cranberry, and Pistachio Tart. It is vegan, plant-based, and very well-behaved.

Plus It is easy-breezy, thanks in part to a press-in crust, but elegant in that rustic way that is so appealing in autumn.

I was comes honored to be hired by Tofutti to create 3 holiday recipes and it is super fun to share the first one with you for the holiday of gratitude this week, at least in the US.

Find my vegan/plant-based–but no one will no–recipe here.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

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Golden Middle-Eastern Inspired Butternut Squash Stew (vegan & plant-based)

Middle Eastern-Inspired Butternut Squash Stew (vegan & plant-based)

Yield:6 servings

This golden, spiced–but not “spicy”–vegan and plant-based stew checks all my autumnal boxes.

Fresh squeezed orange juice is one of my secret ingredients. Canned pureed organic butternut squash is my other “secret” weapon for silky, luscious, and low calorie vegan and plant-based “cream” soup bases. I find it at Harris Teeter, but you can substitute pumpkin if unable to locate.

Roast the following until caramelized at 425-450 degrees, lightly coated in olive olive and a sprinkle of salt:

12 ounces combined broccoli and cauliflower florets, approximately 20 to 25 minutes

16 to 24 ounces cubed butternut squash, approximately 30-35 minutes

Meanwhile proceed with recipe:

1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
2 to 3 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
Pinch sea salt
1-15 5 ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 teaspoon each: ground cardamom, ground coriander, ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, sumac, zaatar
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1-15 5 ounce can pureed butternut squash (I buy at Harris Teeter)
1/3 cup coconut milk
2 to 3 cups vegetable stock
Juice of 1 medium-large orange
Sea salt to taste
Garnishes: plant-based sour cream; roasted and lightly salted pumpkin seeds or cashews; halved cherry tomatoes; cilantro, mint, or lemon balm sprigs

In Dutch oven or large pot, saute onion, bell pepper, and garlic in water/stock with pinch sea salt until tender. Add all remaining ingredients and simmer while vegetables roast. Stir in vegetables and simmer for another 10 minutes or so for flavors to marry. Serve garnished as desired.

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Quick & Tasty Pakora-ish Onion Fritters (vegan, plant-based, gf)

Yield: 4 fritters (easily multiplies)

The larder was pretty bare but I needed a bite of lunch that was plant-based, interesting, satisfying, and beautiful. We had yellow onion and one tablespoon of chickpea flour which was was about all I needed for a lite vegan lunch on the fly. But these would be tempting appetizers as well.

1/2 yellow onion, sliced into slivers

1 tablespoon chickpea flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons water

Garnishes: chutney, plant-based raita, cashews, mint leaves, cilantro, etc.

With a fork or spoon, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Heat skillet sprayed liberally with nonstick spray over medium heat. Divide divide fritter batter evenly into 4 disks a couple inches apart. Cook for a minute or 2 on first side, flip with a spatula, and cook a couple minutes more. Serve warm, garnished as desired.

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Creamy Buffalo Chicken Salad Dip aka Desperation Dip (vegan & plant-based)

Yield: approximately 1 1/2 cups

You know those weeks: full to the brim at work and in the evenings and bracketed by similarly packed weekends of entertaining, yet you invited new friends for Friday happy hour in a rare moment of downtime. Then, Friday arrives, and you realize you have nothing more substantial to serve them than cashews and olives.

This is the dip for THOSE times. On our lunch buffet at school this week was a Buffalo Chicken Salad, creamy, not chunky. The staff prepares inspired vegan food for me, but this was not and I abstained. But I have been fantasizing about it, so I dashed into the grocery on the way home, picking up the ingredients along with everything we needed to host Bob’s father’s 90th(!) birthday party and his sister’s 60th–they were born on the same day–on Sunday. Whew!

Please enjoy even when you aren’t harried or maybe especially then:

1/4 to 1/3 cup diced red onion

4 celery hearts, cut into 1-inch chunks

8 ounces chick-un substitute (I use Tofurky Sesame-Garlic Chick’n)

2 to 3 tablespoons mayo (I use Walden Farms no-calorie mayo, but use what you love)

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1 tablespoon wing sauce or Sriracha

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Optional garnishes: sprig of herbs, green or black olive, crumbles of plant-based blue cheese or blue cheese dressing

Accompaniments: celery sticks, cucumber slices, crackers, or sturdy chips

Place onion and celery in food processor and pulse to coarsely chop. Add chick-un and pulse until finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until mixture comes together with a creamy-course texture. Cover and refrigerate. To serve, garnish as desired and serve with vegetables, crackers, and chips.

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A Luscious Crossing of Cultures: West African-Inspired Lentils with Middle Eastern-Inspired Chickpeas (vegan &plant-based)

West African-Inspired Red Lentils with Middle Eastern-Inspired Chickpeas

Yield: 4 main dish servings

This magical crossing of cultures is deeply flavorful and deeply satisfying.

Note:  Zaatar, sumac, and pomegranate molasses are available at Middle Eastern grocery stores and online.

West African Red Lentils

1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 medium-large onion, peeled and diced
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
Sea salt
1″ knob fresh finger, peeled and finely grated 
1 tablespoon Berber spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Half of 15.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
1 pound red lentils, rinsed and drained
3 cups vegetable broth
1-15.5 oz can Coconut milk, light or regular
Middle Eastern Chickpeas (recipe follows)
Garnish suggestions:  Roasted and lightly salted cashew halves and pieces,  vegan sour cream or substitute (I love Tofutti’s Vegetable Cucumber Dip, sometimes available at veganessentials.com), olive tapenade, olives, cucumber slices

In Dutch oven or a large soup pot with heavy bottom, heat olive oil over medium. Add onion and a pinch of sea salt, and saute,  stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic and ginger and saute about 30 seconds more.   Add spices and fire roasted tomatoes and heat through, stirring occasionally.  Add lentils and vegetable stock and cook approximately 12 minutes or until lentils are soft and most of moisture is absorbed or evaporated. Stir in coconut milk and heat until simmering.  Adjust salt and other seasonings to your taste. Serve topped with Middle Eastern Chickpeas, garnished as desired.

Middle Eastern Chickpeas

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 medium-large onion, thinly sliced
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
Sea salt
1″ knob fresh finger, peeled and finely grated 
1-15.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained
Half of 15.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
1 tablespoon zaatar
1 teaspoon sumac
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

In large skillet with heavy bottom, heat olive oil over medium. Add onion and a pinch of sea salt, and saute,  stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic and ginger and saute about 30 seconds more.   Add chickpeas, fire roasted tomatoes, and spices, and simmer together for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.   Stir in pomegranate molasses and heat through.  Adjust salt and other seasonings to your taste.

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