Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Meat Eating/Vegetarian/Vegan Thanksviging Part II

Since I work for an investment company, we are open the day after Thanksgiving, which means no travel to Northern California for turkey this year for Dave and bet! Most of my family is coming to Newport Beach this year and we are having ten people for a feast in my 800 square foot beach cottage. Being the obsessive planner that I am, and trying to please the (newly vegan or vegetarian) palates of all family members, I started early on the menu planning this year and assigned everyone a dish according to their expertise. Here's what we are making:

*Turkey- I will be roasting a turkey filled with fresh herbs, lemon, seasonings...luckily I have done this before and there will be plenty of help
*Gravy- Dad's specialty
*Michael Mathews' famous sausage and cognac stuffing- again, Dad's specialty
*Natalie's vegan version of Mathews' stuffing
*Buttermilk and chive mashed potatoes- me..I prefer to use buttermilk because I like them tangy and you can use nonfat buttermilk, which has lots of flavor, but eliminates the fat
*Sauteed green beans with apple wood smoked bacon and shallots- Dave my husband loves these so he will be making them this year
*Vegan sweet potatoes au gratin- Nat
*Shaved brussel sprout salad- Nat
*Rolls- Aunt Kathy
*Cranberry Chutney- Aunt Kathy
*Pumpkin pie- mom's specialty

In honor of it being turkey day this week, I thought I'd post two recipes in order to help those of you who are still menu planning...stay tuned for the results of our Thanksgiving feast! (and wish us luck!)

Dad's Famous Gravy

3/4 cup dry white vermouth
2 tablespoons Cognac
1/3 cup all purpose flour
About 5 ½ cups of broth – turkey, veal stock, and/or chicken
About 4 tablespoons of fat – reserved from Turkey or use butter
All the browned bits from the bottom of the turkey pan

Pour pan juices from roasting pan into large measuring cup. Spoon fat from surface. Transfer 4 tablespoons fat to medium saucepan (if needed, use some of reserved fat from turkey broth to measure 4 tablespoons total). Discard any excess fat.

Place roasting pan over 2 burners set at medium-high heat. Add vermouth and Cognac to pan and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Add degreased pan juices and 1 cup broth; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits.

Heat reserved 4 tablespoons fat in saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour, whisking until smooth. Whisk constantly until starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in pan-juice mixture and 3 cups of broth. Simmer until gravy is thick enough to coat spoon, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Carmel Apple Pie
I made this this weekend for the Marshall Thanksgiving and it turned out pretty good. It came from the holiday issue of Cooking Light.


1/4 c flour
1/4 c packed brown sugar
2 T chilled butter, cut into small pieces

1 1/4 c flour
1/4 t salt
3 T chilled butter, cut into small pieces
2 T chilled vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
3 T ice water
cooking spray

1/4 c white sugar
2 T cornstarch
4 c thinly sliced granny smith apples
3 c thinly sliced fuji apples

Carmel Sauce-
1/2 c store bought fat free caramel sauce
1/8 t sea salt


Topping- combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse ten times, transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.

Crust- combine flour and salt in food processor. Add 3 T butter and shortening. Pulse 4 times or until mixture looks crumbly. With processor on, add ice water until mixture combines. Remove from food processor and press into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 15 minutes. Overlap two pieces of plastic wrap on a smooth surface. Place dough in center and cover with an additional two sheets of plastic wrap. Roll evenly into an 11 inch circle. Freeze circle of dough about 5 minutes, until it can be easily removed from the plastic wrap. Press into pie pan.

Preheat oven to 375.

Filling- whisk together cornstarch and sugar. Add apples. Toss to combine. Add apple mixture to pie pan, mounding slightly in the center.

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Remove pie and top evenly with topping. Bake an additional 25 minutes until golden. Top with caramel sauce and whipped cream, if desired.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Meat Eating / Vegetarian / Vegan Thanksgiving... How we are going to do all 3 (Part 1)

This Thanksgiving is going to be different than our usual Thanksgivings (except for the family and lots of red wine part). For one, we will be celebrating in Southern California for the first time since 1993, but also, in the past year, I have switched to a mostly vegetarian diet and my brother has gone completely vegan. In turn, we are trying to plan aspects of the dinner that will please everyone.

Being the Mathews resident vegetarian chef, I am planning the vegan dishes, simply because they are different than my family's normal style of cooking. I have been familiarizing myself with this diet in the past couple of months and have tried to make it from whole, plant based sources instead of simply finding freaky soy replacements for meat; tofurkey anyone?

Here's what I am making along with some recipe highlights. I'll post full recipes and reviews after the holiday.

Triple Spiced Creamy Sweet Potato Gratin
Based on a recipe from Kathy Patalsky, writer of Healthy Happy Life. Kathy writes a great blog with vegan recipes and wellness tips. She put together a delicious looking potato au gratin recipe that I hope to recreate with some added sweet potatoes.

Sauteed Shaved Brussels Sprouts
Featuring balsamic, red onions, pine nuts and cranberries. I make this often, this year sans prosciutto.

Mathews (now Vegan) Stuffing
My dad makes great stuffing. I am going to attempt a version without animal products. His famous ingredients are Congac and veal stock. I am adding portabello mushrooms, walnuts, butternut squash and lots of fresh herbs.

We'll see if we'll be keeping these recipes around for future Thanksgivings. Melanie should be posting some of her recipe ideas shortly and we'll catch up with how this all went after the holiday.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fiesta Mac and Cheese

On the subject of mac and cheese, I adapted this from the December issue of Cooking Light. It was really good and only took about 15 minutes of prep time plus an additional 15 minutes of cook time. It was all made in one pot so barely a mess. This would make a good week night meal. I think you could use any type of cheese in this. Pepper jack might make a nice substitute for the white cheddar, but I just used what I had in the fridge.

Ingredients (serves 4):
2 1/2 cups whole wheat penne
1 T butter, divided
1 c chopped red bell pepper
2 1/2 T flour
1 1/2 c nonfat milk
1/2 c extra sharp cheddar
1/2 c white cheddar
1 small can fire roasted green chilies
1/2 c thinly sliced green onion
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 slice sourdough bread

Preheat oven to 375.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. In the pasta pot, melt 1 T butter. Add bell peppers and cook 5 min until tender. Add to pasta.

Add flour to pan. Slowly add milk and stir until smooth. Bring to a boil (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat, slowly add cheese while stirring constantly until melted into milk mixture. Stir in chilies, salt, and pepper. Add to pasta mixture. Add green onions and toss until well

Place bread in small food chopper and process until crumbly. Melt remaining butter. Mix bread crumbs and butter together in bowl.

Pour pasta into small oven proof dish. Top with breadcrumbs and bake for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes

Fall is in the air. Even though it is 85 degrees outside in San Luis Obispo, I am dreaming of stews, soups and braised everything, so I figured it was time to post my favorite mac recipe. This recipe originated in a Cooking Light circa 2005 when Melanie and I were roommates in college. We love it so much we still both make it and modify it accordingly.

Ingredients (serves 8)
3 cups halved cherry tomatoes

Cooking spray or spray olive oil

a sprinkle of Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3 ounces sourdough b
read, torn into pieces
1 teaspoon butter, melted

2 cups cheese- I use a combo of blue cheese, extra sharp cheddar and fontina

1 egg
, whisked
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated low-fat milk

12 ounces large elbow macaroni or medium size shells

Line a baking sheet with foil and spread out tomatoes. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes to an hour until the tomatoes blister and start to appear sun dried.

Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, combine bread pieces, melted butter and a pinch of sea salt until crumbs are formed. Lay out crumbs on a separate baking sheet and cook 15 minutes or until golden.

Boil pasta for 7 minutes or until al dente by package directions. In a bowl, combine remaining ingredients. After draining pasta, return to a medium heat and stir in your bowl of cheese, milk, egg and spice mixture. Cook for 4 minutes or until cheese melts.

Serve immediately topped with bread crumbs and tomatoes.

Leftovers are good, but fresh is best with this recipe. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tuscan Potato Soup

In the spirit of fall being in full effect, I made this soup the other evening. The gist of the recipe came from a recent Cooking Light, but I changed it up a bit. This was a pretty easy weeknight dinner to make (I recommend an immersion blender) and the leftovers were great in lunches for the week! The Yukon potatoes gave this soup a very creamy texture without all the added fat of using a lot of butter or cream. I have never done crumbled sausage on top before, but now could not imagine this soup without it.


2 heads garlic
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups finely chopped onion, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 1/4 pounds cubed peeled Yukon gold potato (about 6 cups)
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
3 green onion stalks, chopped roughly

6 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage, casings removed


Preheat oven to 400.

Cut off pointed end of each garlic head to partially reveal cloves, place each head in the center of a small sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon oil over each head; wrap each in foil. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes; cool 10 minutes. Squeeze to extract pulp; discard skins.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 cups onion; sauté 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in pepper, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and potato; sauté 2 minutes. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in half-and-half. Squeeze roasted garlic into pot, blend entire pot with immersion blender until smooth (can be done in a real blender if you do not have an immersion blender). Finely grate 2 ounces cheese to yield 1/2 cup; stir into soup. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1/2 cup onion; sauté for 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon salt and sausage cook 8 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble sausage.

Divide soup into bowls, top with remaining cheese, sausage crumbles, and green onions.