Traditional-with-a-Twist Thanksgiving Recap 2015

Many thanks to those of you who’ve been reminding me to post the recipes from my “traditional-with-a-twist” Thanksgiving dinner, which feels like ages ago. I went back to work the Monday after Thanksgiving with some naïve idea that these few weeks would be leisurely. My calendar was reasonably normal (aka as predictably crazy as usual), but add in everything that comes with the holiday season- thinking of gift ideas, holiday parties, thank you cards, and before too long, things started to get too busy to blog anything. On top of that, I had one more week left in my yoga teacher 200-hour certification program, and that meant tons of studying for exams, both take-home and in person. Fortunately I love studying and assessments! Everything has been incredibly rewarding, from the yoga program (more about that at another time!) to the holiday celebrations, and here’s my attempt at a super-belated recap of my Thanksgiving meal.

My yoga teachers and classmates at Yoga Works Mill Valley!

My yoga teachers and classmates at Yoga Works Mill Valley!

Overall, Thanksgiving dinner was a huge success. My mom and dad flew all the way from Jersey (their arms were so tired!), and we stuck (mostly) to the menu I wrote up prior to the Thanksgiving break here on the blog. Most importantly, we had very little waste and not many leftovers other than turkey meat. We bought a 12.5 pound bird at Trader Joe’s for five people (Alex joined), and it was plenty! I had enough leftover to make a few recipes throughout the week (blog post about leftovers forthcoming).

Let’s get to the recap:

1. PALEO APPETIZER:

Shane's mom sent us this egg plate!

Shane’s mom sent us this egg plate!

Alex’s paleo deviled eggs were the best! He even used this Just Mayo vegan mayonnaise from Mollie Stone’s by Hampton Creek. I’m not sure it’s even mayonnaise, because it doesn’t have eggs in it! Its main ingredients are just oil, white vinegar, and pea protein! It was delicious and tastes exactly like regular mayonnaise. Its consistency is a little less gloppy and more like a spread. With paprika on top, Alex’s deviled eggs rocked!

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(We were all ravenous, since we weren’t eating until after 6, so at the last minute I put out this platter. Obviously I did not eat the Trader Joe’s Woven Wheats crackers, but my guests were begging for some gluten. Shane’s mom shipped us this cool serving tray / dish set a few weeks ago.)

2. VEGAN SOUP COURSE:

I am responsible for the amazing garnish, and for blending the soup in the blender. Other than that, my mom did everything!

I am responsible for the amazing garnish, and for blending the soup in the blender. Other than that, my mom did everything!

This was my favorite part of the meal, and it was the part I did not really participate so much in making! My mom is really the world’s best cook. She can make anything; baking, maybe not so much, because she doesn’t like to measure things, which in my opinion is the hallmark of a great cook!

She spent an hour painstakingly chopping up two large butternut squashes. Those puppies are so hard and really require a lot of work to get them prepared. She boiled them for quite a long time in vegetable broth in a big pot on the stove. After the fact we discovered that Trader Joe’s sells butternut squashed pre-chopped in a convenient bag. We like to do things the hard way I suppose.

3. GLUTEN-FREE BIRD:

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There’s not much to say about the turkey other than the fact that I chopped up carrots, celery, and onion for the broth. My mom followed this recipe on Epicurious for a gluten-free wild-rice stuffing with dark sweet cherries for both inside and outside of the bird! Shane was in charge of the preparation of the turkey and carving. He is always the grill-master or in some way in charge of the meat course!

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4. PLANT-BASED SIDES WITH A TWIST:

My first (and maybe last) time working with celery root.

My first (and maybe last) time working with celery root.

I have nothing against white potatoes. If you’re on a strict paleo diet, then white potatoes are not the best, but I love white taters. My friend Liz knows I am adventurous (to a fault) in the kitchen, so she suggested making mashed celery root instead of mashed potato. I bought three large celery roots, cut them into chunks, and boiled them. I let my mom do the manual labor; she said it is much easier to mash than boiled potatoes. We added coconut milk, salt, and butter, but didn’t love the flavor. I complained out loud that the celery root tasted “too much like celery,” which exasperated my patient guests. I’m lucky that my family humors me and doesn’t complain too much. (But I knew I was in trouble when the boys pulled out Trader Joe’s Dunkers at dessert time. Dessert was an epic fail, but more on that in a minute.)

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An epic success, if I may say so myself, were the brussels sprouts (pictured here with mashed celery root), and the yellow curry roasted cauliflower (below). I roasted the brussels in the oven with balsamic, honey, garlic, sea salt, and black pepper, and for the cauliflower, I warmed up coconut oil in a skillet on the stove and mixed in tahini and yellow curry. All veggies were at 400 degrees.

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5. EARTHY, TRADITIONAL-BUT-EDGY DESSERT:

The taste of this gorgeous neon beet batter didn't live up to the way it looked!

The taste of this gorgeous neon beet batter didn’t live up to the way it looked!

The photos came out better than what was meant to be a gorgeous neon pink chocolate-frosted beet cake. Due to a busy life, I planned out pretty much all the parts of the meal pretty well other than the dessert. My brilliant plan was simply to use the recipe I use for my favorite vegan pumpkin bread by Minimalist Baker, and substitute beets for pumpkin. This made sense at the time, but it ended up not being a cake. It was basically a beet bread, which any genius could have told me was going to happen. I made a decent chocolate icing from scratch with coconut oil, dates, soaked cashews, and maple syrup, but the cake came out too earthy, and my guests complained that it tasted too much like beets! (a theme is emerging here)

Although tiring, I had a blast cooking and experimenting with über-healthy recipes. No one gained any weight at my Thanksgiving dinner, and I’m going to insist that it’s due to the healthy ingredients, and not due to lack of fun, effort, and / or flavor. My dinner was truly about giving thanks and not about gorging ourselves with more than we need. We already have everything we need, seriously. For anyone watching their figures, the two starch-based culprits didn’t come out so great – the celery root mash and dessert, so they certainly didn’t over-indulge in that department! I’m looking forward to perfecting some of these recipes, perhaps for Christmas dinner, or for Thanksgiving 2016. Ultimately I was grateful to spend the time with my parents who live so far away, with Shane who works a ton, and Alex who we never get to see. Actually, we get to see Alex a lot, but it feels like years in between.

Looks prettier than it tasted!

Looks prettier than it tasted!

6. LEFTOVERS:

I’ll be sending that blog post your way shortly!

PS We forgot to take photos of the humans at Thanksgiving dinner, which is terrible. New Year’s Resolution #1: more pictures of people.

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3 Comments on “Traditional-with-a-Twist Thanksgiving Recap 2015”

  1. Lisa December 15, 2015 at 13:28 #

    Very cool! Good post with details as if it was yesterday 🙂
    I like the New Year’s Resolution….more pics of the people tasting your cuisine!

  2. Martha LaValette December 15, 2015 at 15:01 #

    Thanks for the compliment! I think your grandmother was the best cook and baker. I am impressed with your abilities in the kitchen. Thanksgiving dinner was delicious. I had it for breakfast the next morning, if you recall.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 3 Warming Vegan Winter Soups for New Year’s Day | SavvyCitiZen - January 1, 2016

    […] mom cooked up such a successful butternut squash soup for us on the stove on Thanksgiving day. I was able to emulate her recipe and came up with a good […]

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