Friday, November 23, 2012

How to Pull-Off a Very Veggie Thanksgiving

Hope everyone was able to enjoy their Thanksgiving day with family and friends!  Jason and I hosted my family at our house, which is actually the fourth time hosting the big Turkey day for us.  This also makes the second time we have prepared a mostly-vegan meal.  My family helped out  a lot this year and brought the turkey plus many side dishes and pies.  I tackled most of the side dishes and made almost everything vegan-friendly for my brother and I.  We of course ended up with twice as many dishes as we had people, and we took pictures of everything but the food.

Thanksgiving Menu 2012
Food Brought & Bought:
Turkey - not vegan, made by Mom and Dad
Turkey Gravy - not vegan, made by Mom
Turkey Stuffing - not vegan, made by Mom
Organic Pumpkin Pie - vegetarian, made by Mom
Pumpkin Pie - vegetarian, provided by Ken
Green Beans with Slivered Almonds - vegan, made by Mom
Chia Seed Pudding - vegan, made by my brother
Triple Berry Pie - vegetarian, from Wheatfields
Crescent Rolls - vegan, believe it or not

Food We Made:
Mashed Potatoes -vegan
Thanksgiving Gravy - vegan
Wild Rice Stuffing - vegan
Hippie Loaf - vegan
Corn Dish - vegan
Cranberry Sauce - vegan, no sugar added
Bread Stuffing - vegetarian
Apple Walnut Stuffing - vegetarian
Scalloped Carrots - vegan
Thyme-Braised Brussel Sprouts - vegan
Coconut Whip - vegan

Like I said, lots of food!  And everything turned out fairly well (although the hippie loaf could have been a little more browned).  I've linked to the recipes for some of the dishes above.  Here are a few tips for...

Veganizing your Thanksgiving without too much trouble:
1)  Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth or turkey drippings for your stuffing.
2)  Use almond, soy, rice, or hemp milk to make your mashed potatoes creamy.
3)  Use vegan stick butter (Earth Balance) instead of butter.

These simple switch-outs will make most of your dishes vegan-friendly for those certain family members.  Here are some of our favorite recipes that I created vegan versions of:

Corn Dish
4 round tsp Ener-G with 6 Tbsp warm water
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
3 Tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 can corn (with liquid)
1 can creamed corn
1/2 stick melted vegan butter

Mix the above ingredients together and pour into a greased casserole dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes to 1 hour until golden brown.

Scalloped Carrots
5-6 carrots peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 onion chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp vegan butter
4 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp garlic powder
Fried Onions

Boil carrots until slightly tender, do not over-cook.  Meanwhile saute onion with olive oil, set aside.  In a saucepan over medium heat melt butter and whisk in flour, making a roux.  Add milk, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, and garlic powder.  Heat until thickened, add more milk if too thick.  Once at desired consistency (similar to creamed soup) mix together with onion and carrots, pour into a small casserole dish.  Top with fried onions.  Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes, then remove foil for 15 minutes until browned.

And finally I have a few...

Time-saving tips for any type of Thanksgiving meal:
1)  Chop all onions, celery, mushrooms, carrots, etc. the night before and portion into containers/plastic bags for each dish.
2)  Roast your potatoes in your crockpot on low setting starting that morning.  An hour before meal time, mash the potatoes in the crock and turn it to warm setting.  Serve out of the crockpot.
3)  Make as much of a dish as you can ahead of time without cooking all the way through.  Do the final baking in the hour or two before meal time (ex. stuffings, scalloped carrots, hippie loaf).
4)  Make a list of all of the dishes you are preparing so you can check things off as you go.  You can even go so far as to make an "oven schedule" to coordinate your precious oven time.
5)  Do dishes as you go along.  It is helpful to have a wonderful husband who is willing to take on this task.
6)  Don't say no to help.  If someone offers to bring something, say yes!

Everything came together fairly well.  There was of course that last hour of craziness in the kitchen trying to keep everything warm, but we succeeded!  My brother even brought over his harmonium and treated us to a little pre and post-dinner entertainment.

I tried my hand at the harmonium as well.  It's kind of like mini organ or an accordion that you sit on your lap or the ground.

We had a great time!  Thanks to my wonderful husband for not only being the dish-washing fiend, but for photographically documenting the evening.  I feel so lucky and blessed to have family close by to celebrate the holidays with!  We were sad we missed out on the Brewer Thanksgiving, an annual tradition where they invite over all of the international faculty and students in my father-in-law's department that do not have family to celebrate with.  It seems "non-traditional" to most but it really is what the spirit of Thanksgiving is all about.  Happy Thanksgiving to all of our family and friends we were not able to celebrate with!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hitting the Bulls-Eye!

I have always said how much I love Target clearance, but until a few weeks ago my Target clearance luck had dried up.  I had begun to lose faith in my beloved hidden back-row end-caps.  My luck changed at a recent trip when I happened upon the mother-load of Target clearance, and in my post-dentist, Novocain-induced state I was more than happy to treat myself.

My first find of the day was this fabulous matte gray silicone Michael Graves spoon rest for…

$2.98!  We were in desperate need of a new spoon rest that wouldn’t stain unlike our old white melamine one, so this fit the bill.

Next I happened upon two rugs, one runner for our entryway and one larger reversible rug that would work for our downstairs bathroom.

Each rug was less than $8!

I know I have a throw pillow problem, but it was so hard to resist these two…

Especially at $17.48 and $5.98!

I have been pining after a sunburst style mirror for years now, and finally I found one…

It was only $20.98!  Can’t say no to that.

Finally I found this textural ceramic table…

For only $20.98!

Secretly it was not the possibility of the clearance section that brought me to Target that day, it was the lure of Nate.  Many of you probably know that Nate Berkus recently launched a limited-time line at Target with a lot of amazing natural and eclectic accessories for the home.  I had to indulge…

I paid full-price for the graphic patterned bath rug, natural basket, and graphite hand towel, but it was worth it for a little piece of Nate.  Here is a shot of the clearance finds with the Nate finds.  I had a basement bathroom redo in mind…

When I buy clearance items now, I always try to have a place or use in mind for the item.  If not, I don’t buy it.  It’s just a waste of money, not a clearance savings if the item just sits around.  I’ve learned this the hard way over the years!

While clearance shopping keep in mind that some items may be easily changed with a cheap can of spray paint or another quick fix.  Don’t be afraid of a few scratches or dings, a lot of times you will be the only one to notice once that scratched picture frame is hanging up.  So go forth and find your own clearance deals! (just save the good stuff for me)

I've incorporated all of my clearance finds into our basement bathroom, along with a few other deals from other stores.  Stay tuned for the bathroom reveal!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Case of Blog Abandonment

I realize I have been neglectful of my blog for the past, months?!  Has it really been that long?  In my defense I have been busy with the 7.5 credit hours of interior design classes, working 40-plus hours a week, and squeezing in a few birthday celebrations here and there.  I'm full of excuses.  I think I am ready for life to calm down a little.  I know this is wishful thinking considering the holiday season is upon us, but a girl can hope, right?

The Fall quarter is soon coming to a close.  I present one of my final projects tomorrow night, and the second a week from tonight.  Here are a few shots of my townhouse design that I am presenting tomorrow (sorry for the crappy cell phone pics):

As much as I have enjoyed and learned from these two courses, I am ready for a break.  Going to school and working is WAY harder than I ever expected, even if you are taking classes you love.  Not only have I been neglectful of the blog, our house has seen better days as well.

I feel like it's time to recenter myself and refocus on home and family.  Maybe it's the recent extreme change in temperature or the fact that I spent my entire weekend drawing, cutting and gluing (literally hours of gluing), but I'm ready to stay home, re-organize and relax in a cozy home with the hubby and the puppy.

Tonight while in class I selfishly thought I would take another class this Winter quarter.  I have been wavering about this for some time now.  I'm writing this post in part to talk myself out of this crazy idea.  Yes, this is the only time of year that Interior Design II is offered, and yes, I would like to continue to take classes with some of the people I have met, but I realize now it will be too much too soon.  Like I have said before, I am not after a degree at this point, so there's no rush.

So that's that.  No class next quarter.  It's in writing now, that makes it official, Charlotte.

Thank you for listening to my inner dialog and holding me accountable to my decision.  I have a few posts I have been holding out on including a dresser update, a Goodwill shopping trip, a Target clearance jackpot, and a basement bathroom makeover.  Stay tuned to more projects and holiday decorating!