I offered to cook Thanksgiving Dinner for my family, about 10 people this year. It worked for me because a) I got to eat pretty much everything on the table (except the small Turkey my parents bought, but let’s not talk about that and, b) The possibilities were endless as my mother agreed to buy whatever I put on a list for her, which means some fancy ingredients I couldn’t normally afford. Huzzah! It went over extremely well, I must say. The final menu was: Spinach Walnut Salad with Strawberries and Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing, Black Bean Soup, Chickpea Cutlets, Sweet Potato Casserole, Mashed Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Vegan Mac-N-Cheese (a.k.a. Baked Noodle Casserole), Cranberry Sauce, Agave Nectar Cake with Agave Chocolate Filling and a makeshift lower-sugar Chocolate Frosting, Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake and last but not least, an Apple Crisp Pie with Peanut Butter Caramel Drizzle. Mmm! Pictures and recipes follow!

Here’s the salad, it was pretty simple. Just baby spinach rinsed with chopped strawberries and walnuts, tossed with a store bought balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It went over well, my aunt commented on it being an inventive combination of ingredients. I said that next time I want to try a salad my friend Katie suggested, which was spinach, mandarin oranges and raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

The famous Chickpea Cutlets from Veganomicon, recipe is online here, but you should totally buy it because it is amazing. These surprisingly were not a huge hit, which I think was for two reasons. One, there was a turkey, which was the more familiar, safer option for the meat-eaters in the house and two, I made a huge batch of 24, which meant they didn’t get as much love and attention as when I make just 4. They weren’t the best chickpea cutlets I’ve ever made for this reason, but they were still good.

Here is the sweet potato casserole and this was a huge hit, everyone said it was one of their favorites. For some reason, it was not mine. I think in general I’m just not a fan of sweet potatoes in their pureed form. Ah well. I used this recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen.

Ignore the crappy picture with flash, I was taking a bit too long taking pictures and everyone wanted to eat! This also got rave reviews and my grandma even made a turkey sandwich with it the next morning. I’ve never liked cranberry sauce before and was definitely not a fan of the canned variety, but I found this delicious! The recipe is the Cranberry Craze Sauce from Everyday Dish. I altered it a bit and used 1/3 regular sugar, 1/3 Splenda and 1/3 agave nectar, cutting the amount of water in the recipe in half. Two people in my family have Type II Diabetes, hence the alterations. I was trying to cut back on sugar wherever I could.

Here’s a shot of the Green Bean Casserole, also from FatFree Vegan Kitchen as well as my own take on Vegan Mac-n-Cheese from my own blog. I called it Baked Noodle Casserole since it doesn’t contain any weird vegan soy cheese and I didn’t want to freak anyone out with the title. It is more of a noodle casserole anyway. I must say the vegan mac-n-cheese was a HUGE hit! Everyone said it was their favorite and wanted the recipe and my parents ate the leftovers for dinner the next night too. I ate it for leftovers later Thanksgiving night, for breakfast, lunch…well, you get it. I used white onions, shredded carrots, leeks and green beans for the veggies this time. It may be one of my favorite foods. The mashed potatoes aren’t pictured, but that’s really not that interesting anyway. In case you’re curious, I mashed together white potatoes with the skins, soy milk, minced garlic, salt, pepper, Earth Balance margarine and nutritional yeast. Now, desserts!

This had to be my favorite. It is the Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake from FatFree Vegan Kitchen You’d think they were my Thanksgiving sponsor or something, haha. This was SO GOOD, people commented that they couldn’t believe there was no dairy in it! I want to make this again rightnow and I just may for a potluck myself and some friends are having this coming Friday. This is up there for new favorite dessert. YUM.

This I adapted from Veganomicon’s Apple Peanut-Butter-Caramel Bars. I halfed the recipe and turned it into a pie in a pre-made graham cracker crust. It was amazing, much better than the plain apple crisp I was going to make. I think I substituted some Splenda for sugar too, if I remember. I couldn’t tell tasting it, in any case. Oh, and I used agave nectar instead of the brown rice syrup the drizzle called for. The recipe if also online here if you scroll down on that forum. Again, you should buy the book! You want another picture, right? Because here it is, get ready to be hungry:

Last and sort of least is this gem. I used the Simple Vanilla and Agave Nectar Cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and finagled my own frosting. My Mom couldn’t find soymilk powder here on Long Island, so I couldn’t make the Super Natural Agave Icing from the same cookbook as planned. I wanted to make a diabetic-friendly icing that wasn’t just 2+ cups of confectioner’s sugar so I used a block of silken tofu, 8 oz. Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, 4 pieces melted baker’s chocolate, about 3/4 cup cocoa powder, margarine, agave nectar, Splenda and vanilla and WHABAM! Icing! It came out more like chocolate mousse and it was alright, not the best thing I’ve ever made.
For the filling in the layer cake I used the aforementioned Supernatural Agave Icing recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, substituting cocoa powder for the soymilk powder. Surprisingly, the substitution worked! I can’t find the recipe online, so if any of y’all want it comment and I can type it up. I thought this was the worst dessert, but plenty of my relatives had more than one serving and my parents finished it off the next day, so who knows. It was a bit too dense, which I think was for 2 reasons: 1) I cooked it too long in the oven and, 2) I used regular vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar (would that make a difference?). The filling was pretty good though and really interesting with the coconut oil instead of margarine:

There you have it! Overall, the night was a big success. I think some of my relatives were a bit skeptical of me cooking the whole meal, being one of the younger ones in attendance, but everyone seemed pretty content and impressed by the end! I’m still not sure how I pulled all of this off in a day and a half. When I apply to cooking school, I’ll have to refer them to this blog entry! Ahh!

I think the only Thanksgiving that could top this one was last year’s in England. That was even more impressive as all of my American friends’ and I got to pool our resources and come up with a huge and amazing Thanksgiving feast to share with our British friends. Not to mention it was a LOT harder to come by things like pumpkin and Tofurky in the UK. So…uber impressive. In fact, it required a trip to London and the Tofurky cost £22! Luckily, I got reimbursed through the program I was on, otherwise that would’ve been a bit much for my student budget. $44 at the time (oh, if only I were in England now that the dollar has plummeted…)!

What did all of you have for Thanksgiving?