Monday, October 8, 2012

A Vegan Canadian Thanksgiving in St. Louis Park, MN

Possibly one of the best thanksgiving weekend’s I have had in a long time. Sticking to my promise I made a few days ago, I made vegan Thanksgiving dinner for my boyfriend, his roommates and a couple of their friends. I have served a few things here and there to people that are non-vegan, but this is the first larger dinner’s I have done all on my own. Usually I spend thanksgiving either on my own eating junk food and drinking tequila or I will join someone else’s thanksgiving dinner. Last year I made some vegan dishes for my sister’s family and they went over pretty well, however, there was always plenty non-vegan dishes for them to choose from and mine often was overlooked by most. This year it was all on me. I made dinner for 7 people and made the full meal with a dessert. Most of what I made I had tried and posted before, but I did 
A lot of wine and hard work and I finally am
 getting to try the results
make something new so that I could post a new recipe on here. One thing that I tried I guess is a standard dish at Thanksgiving in the US and one of Tony’s favourites. I had never had or made green bean casserole before. I had definitely heard of it, but it just never seemed to show up at holiday meals in my life. Apparently it is a must have when spending a holiday with Tony, so I was not going to skip it. I didn't actually know how easy green bean casserole is. Basically you make a cream of mushroom soup, add some garlic, green beans and herbs and then bake it with lots of fried onion on them. Honestly, I think I will need to make that one again. To me, it is not a standard holiday dish, so I see no reason to save that for special occasion.
Since I was calling this my thanksgiving challenge, I had to set some goals. This time, because I was serving food, not only people that aren't following a vegan diet, but to a group that I think would not have held back if they didn't like it.  My goals were:

  1.  Get everyone at the table to admit that Thanksgiving dinner can be vegan and delicious
  2. To have no one attempt to call KFC because my food didn't cut it.
  3. Bonus: Get someone to agree that vegan Thanksgiving is yummier than non vegan Thanksgiving

Final product - the Thanksgiving buffet line

Matt and Andrea bravest ones went first! ;)

Tony trying to direct traffic

Finally got everyone served up

Results?  It was a great success. Everyone (except Tony, which i will let slide) finished their plate. No one called or went to KFC (I say call because they deliver here, but apparently not in the US) and while no one admitted that my meal was better, everyone really liked everything. Nothing was left at the end except potatoes, but only because we made a ton of them. Tony actually went vegan all weekend with me. It was really nice to have someone eating like me for a couple days. At home, I have no vegetarian or vegan friends or family. Most of the time it doesn't bother me at all, but sometimes I miss being able to share meals with people. I always seem to get special meals while everyone else eats their ‘normal food’. I honestly had no faith that he would make it the couple days, but he did and I think without a lot of trouble. We even went out to a restaurant that had little on the menu that we could eat, he ate hummus which normally is a no-go and he was by my side every step of the way with the big dinner. He helped me work out the menu, he came with me to get the groceries and even bought some of it and he helped with all the cooking. In exchange he had full control of the TV. We watched more football than I think I ever have watched in a weekend and he got pick of the movie on Saturday night.  I honestly am not sure I could have done it without him. I had a lot of fun in the kitchen all day. I forgot how much more enjoyable cooking with someone else can be. I just hope he had a good day too. I think he did. I kind of wish now I could be back there for American Thanksgiving, though I think I would have a much harder time convincing people to have a fully vegan dinner on their holiday. This was more of a practice round for them.

Trying the first few bites

I think... they like it!

My sous chef and vegan counterpart for the weekend

Back to the food. I made a few dishes on here that I haven’t posted before, so this will be a longer post. I am kind of making up for the fact that I didn't get to posting this yesterday. I had to fly home right after dinner and wasn't home until really late!

First thing, Green bean casserole. So, so good. Even more surprising, I hadn't even tried fried onion before! I had to ask others how close it was to the original recipe. Not exactly the same was the consensus, and I think mostly that is attributed to the nutritional yeast flakes, but a very suitable alternative. Constructive criticism from Tony was that it really should be soupier than what mine turned out to be and I think that would be an easy fix and also maybe a personal preference? I kind of liked the consistency. If it was soupier than what it was, it would have mixed into other things on the plate and I much prefer things separate. The recipe below is how I made it, so adjust the flour and the milk as necessary to get it to a consistency you want

So, what did I end up making? Here is the final menu that was served and following that is the recipes of anything I haven’t posted before.

The final menu
Action shot - Making homemade stuffing
  • Mash potatoes  - See below
  • Candy Carrots – See below
  • Sautéed, zucchini and mushrooms (Thanks Matt!)
  • Green Bean Casserole – See below
  • Chickpea Turkey – Click here for recipe
  • Veggie gravy – Click here for recipe. I used regular flour and real veg broth
  • Pumpkin Surprise – Click here for recipe
  • Lots of white wine – No recipe, but Pinot grigio was very nice with this meal, I consumed almost a whole bottle!

Angry Vegan Green Bean Casserole
*Serves about 4-6 people about 30 minutes to make

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup of green beans, chopped (I used fresh, I hear you can use frozen or canned too, but fresh is always better)
  • 1 Cup chopped mushrooms (original recipe calls for cream of mushroom soup, I made my shrooms chunkier, so chop them to the consistency you like.)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of soy creamer (To make it soupier, use more)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 Tbsp flour (or cornstarch)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can of fried onions

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Get a small sauce pot and turn on to about medium. Add the butter and soy sauce and melt it to combine. Chop up all your veggies and while the butter is melted and add everything except the flour and the fried onions. Cook for a few minutes to get everything warmed up. Now add the flour slowly while stirring with a fork or whisk. This will ensure that you don’t get to many lumps. If you dump it all in at once, you might. Bring the mixture to a boil and then bring down to a low simmer and cook for about 5 minutes so the flavours combine.

Making a vegan cream of mushroom soup - Probably good on its own too!

Mixing in the final ingredients

Ready for the oven!

Before pouring, make sure you have the consistency you want. It will thicken a bit in the oven, so add a little more milk if you prefer a soupy casserole. You may want to add a little extra seasoning too. Now get a pie dish or a small casserole and pour the mixture into it. Top it with all of the fried onions. You want it to cover the whole top and there is no such thing as too much.


Bake in the over for about 25 minutes and let it cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Angry Vegan Mashed Potatoes
*Serves 4-6 people
  • Red skin potatoes (yellow are good too, just avoid russet) I used about 6, but use whatever you think the group will eat.
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 of a concentrated veggie broth
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp of the potato cooking water
  • 1/8 cup of chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (If you can use roasted garlic, do it!)
  • Dash of paprika
  • Salt and pepper

For this recipe, first get a large pot and boil water. Chop the potatoes into 6th or 4th the smaller they are the faster they cook! I leave the skins on, but that is personal preference.
Once the water is boiling, add the potatoes and cook them well. I go about 15 min. Drain the potatoes, saving a little of the cooking water. Not transfer to a bowl or back to the pot and add the remaining ingredients. Get out the potato masher and go crazy. I tend to leave mine a little chunky, but again, personal preference. You can also use electric beaters if you like them super smooth. If they look dry, add more butter or water or some milk. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
Most of the other recipes are online, so I have added the links so you can access quickly. What did I end up serving?

Candy Carrots
*Serves 4-6
  • One bag of baby carrots (I used a smaller bag, use what your group will eat.)
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp salt

Easiest recipe in the world, but I find that some people don’t know how to do this. So I am here to be one of the probably many that have let this secret out. First, boil the carrots and get them about a minute past cooked. For me that is about 10-12 minutes. You want the soft enough you could mash them, but it would take a little muscle to do so. Once done, strain them and put them back t the pot. Turn off the stove, but put them back on the same burned. Add the remaining ingredients cover with a lid and shake them up and toss them in the pot so the butter melts and everything is coated. Let them sit for about 3-5 mins, but watch them in case the burner is too hot. If the sugar is starting to cook (or burn) get them off the heat. That’s it! Serve immediately.

I am so glad the cook day is over, but it felt really good to cook for a group of people. I really hope they have me back sometime to do it again sometime. Also, even though I am not a huge football fan, I have to say it was the perfect background to making this dinner. I think that may end up being transferred into my holiday traditions from now on.

Now, holidays are over. Boyfriend time is over and back to regular life. I am happy to be going home, but I am seriously really sad to be leaving. I never thought Minnesota would grow on me as fast as it did. I can’t wait to go back.


  1. Good for you! Looks like a great selection, and who knows, maybe you've planted some seeds there :)

  2. yummy!

    also my favorite pregan comfort food was rice baked with cream of mushroom - it's like really cheap risotto - and now I can make it again!

  3. I hope I did. Sarah, what an awesome idea! I have to try that. I have cooked rice, I wonder if it would work... hmmm...