Happy day after Thanksgiving! I hope you all had a great day filled with happiness, family, and really yummy food. We sure did. Leading up to Thanksgiving, I was fortunate enough to experiment with a few recipes. Most of them were dessert recipes, but I was also able to try out a few savory recipes. Let’s get right to it. The first recipe was for chocolate hazelnut brownies. I saw this recipe on an old episode of “Everyday Italian,” and knew immediately that I had to try it. We LOVE LOVE LOVE brownies in our house, and I knew my family would enjoy this one. Well enjoy it we did, and I would definitely make these again. Even Ryan liked them, and that is really saying something. Here is a link to the recipe that I used: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/everyday-italian/gianduja-bars-recipe/index.html
The next few recipes were for my favorite dessert ever…cookies. I LOVE LOVE LOVE cookies, and I have loved them since I was a kid. To this day, my favorite dessert in the whole world is a homemade chocolate chip cookie. I LOVE to bake cookies as well. It was in that spirit that I made the following cookie recipes. The first recipe was for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I have made these before, but it’s been a few years. I love to utilize pumpkin, especially this time of year, so I was excited to make these cookies. I am happy to report that they came out great again. Ryan doesn’t care for them, but Victoria and Dan LOVE them. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-cookies-iii/
The next cookie recipe was for “angel kisses.” I have made these once before but it was a long long time ago. At the time I originally made them, we only gave them a B, but I really wanted to try them again. This time, we gave them an A. I am not sure what was different this time, but we really enjoyed them. Ryan didn’t like them, but the rest of us did. Angel kisses are a meringue cookie, and I am happy to report that they are delicious. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://www.cooks.com/recipe/ic8qv5ih/angel-kisses.html
The next recipe was for homemade tomato soup. I LOVE soup…especially tomato soup. Victoria loves tomato soup too. What I don’t love is all the sodium that is inherent in canned soup, so I decided to make some from scratch. The resulting soup is amazing, and I won’t ever purchase canned tomato soup again. This soup was a snap to make and tastes even better than store bought tomato soup. Victoria and Dan loved it, and agreed that we should always use this soup recipe when we eat tomato soup. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://www.thegraciouspantry.com/clean-eating-tomato-soup/ My version of this soup, has even lower sodium content than the recipe in the link, as the bouillon cubes that I use are “no sodium added” cubes.
The next recipe was for vegetarian meatballs. I love love love veggie meatballs, and was inspired to make this recipe after watching an episode of “My Grandmother’s Ravioli.” It is my all time favorite cooking show. On the show, the host Mo Rocca, cooks with various grandmothers and grandfathers around the country. The back story is that he LOVED his grandmother’s ravioli and her cooking, but unfortunately never learned to cook. So he travels around the country, and visits with other grandparents and learns to cook their favorite recipes. It’s great! If you are interested, here is a link to info about the show: http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/shows/my-grandmothers-ravioli.html Anyway, in a recent episode Mo cooks with a couple that are vegetarians, and they make meatballs…veggie meatballs. They use pecan meal to make the meatballs, and that inspired me to research alternatives to using soy to make veggie friendly meatballs. I found a ton of recipes that sounded good, but decided to start my experimentation with this one. The meatballs do not have the same consistency as a regular ‘ol meatball, but they were good. Victoria didn’t prefer them, and Ryan wouldn’t even try them, but Dan and I liked them. Here is a link to the recipe that I used: http://www.cookincanuck.com/2011/11/cannellini-bean-vegetarian-meatballs-with-tomato-sauce-recipe/ I would definitely make these again.
The next recipe was for pumpkin pie fudge. I have made this fudge in the past, but it has been at least 6 years since I made it last. I thought it would be a fun dessert to share with the elementary office staff, and because it was made with pumpkin, it was perfect for Thanksgiving week. If you like the flavors of pumpkin pie, you will like this fudge. It really tastes like a piece of pumpkin pie, minus the crust. Ryan of course didn’t like this because he doesn’t like pumpkin pie. Victoria doesn’t like pumpkin pie either, but thought the fudge was okay. Dan and I LOVE pumpkin pie, so we thought the fudge was great. Here is a link to the recipe that I used: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pumpkin-fudge/
The next two recipes were for our annual vegetarian Thanksgiving feast. Every year, I prepare a veggie friendly feast for our house. We go to my Aunt Pat’s every year for Thanksgiving dinner, so I don’t technically need to cook for Thanksgiving day. Despite not being responsible for Thanksgiving dinner, I cook anyway as we LOVE to eat Thanksgiving left overs. Every year I make a turk’y roast manufactured in the United Kingdom by a company called Quorn. I also make all the traditional Thanksgiving side dishes…veggie friendly side dishes of course. This year on our Thanksgiving table there was: turk’y roast, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, corn, homemade stuffing, homemade gravy, rolls, pasta (for Ryan), and a chocolate pie for dessert. The homemade gravy and stuffing were new recipes for me…here’s the story. As vegetarians we don’t eat gravy a lot, but for those few recipes I make that require it, I’ve always used Kroger’s fat free brown gravy. I used it because it was veggie friendly (since it was fat free, there was no rendered beef in the gravy, so it was veggie friendly). Well flash forward to this November, and Kroger no longer carries it!! I have tried a few mushroom gravies in the past, but I DO NOT LIKE them…yuck! So I had to flex my culinary muscles and use a homemade recipe instead. Well I am soooo glad that I did, because this recipe is delicious!! As an added bonus, I used all organic ingredients, and my gravy contains a TON less salt, and questionable ingredients than the store bought kind I used to use. I will definitely make this gravy again. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/vegetarian-gravy/ I made a substitution to the recipe. I don’t use soy sauce, I use Bragg liquid amino as a soy sauce substitute. You can purchase Bragg liquid amino at Whole Foods, or on-line.
The next Thanksgiving recipe was for stuffing. Until this year, I’ve always used a stuffing mix from the store. Well this year, I wanted to make a stuffing from scratch, and I did using my new Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Okay…side story. I have wanted this cookbook for years. I am still uncertain as to why I didn’t register for it when Dan and I got married, but I didn’t. Over the years, I have looked at it many times whilst in a bookstore, but couldn’t convince myself to spend 30 bucks on a cookbook that included so many recipes that were unusable to me as a vegetarian. That said, I still loved and wanted the book as it is so iconic to me. It was the cookbook that my parents used when I was growing up. It’s the cookbook that I used anytime I baked cookies when I was young, and living at home with my parents. It’s the cookbook that I’ve seen countless “brides-to-be” receive at their showers. It’s the cookbook that has been in publication since 1968, and is still one of the most popular cookbooks in our country. Well just last month I was at the library, and I was perusing the used book sale cart when I saw a cookbook…THE cookbook. I immediately snatched it off the cart, and began searching it for damage. I found none. It looks brand new, almost as if it’s never been used. I took it to the counter and paid…wait for it…a whole dollar!!!!! OMG a dollar for this cookbook that I have wanted for years!!! SCORE!!! I was so excited that as soon as I got home, I began perusing the recipes that I wanted to try. Well one of the first that I selected was the old fashioned bread stuffing recipe. I decided I’d try it for Thanksgiving this year, and I am glad that I did…it was amazing! After tasting this recipe, I will never buy dry stuffing mix, or pre-cubed bread again. This was so easy to make, and it was delicious to eat! Ryan doesn’t like stuffing, but Dan, Victoria, and I LOVED it. The cookbook was totally worth the dollar even if only for this recipe. Here is the link to the recipe that I used:http://www.bhg.com/recipe/stuffing/old-fashioned-bread-stuffing/ As another side story, I was at the library this past Tuesday, and was again perusing the used book sale cart, and scored two more cookbooks: Pillsbury’s The Complete Book of Baking, and The Kitchen Garden both for $1.00!!! I am in cookbook heaven…stay tuned for recipes courtesy of Pillsbury…Hoo hoo (that was supposed to be the Pillsbury dough boy giggling☺)
The last recipe was for homemade pancakes. Okay, so I have always used Bisquick or Krusteaz baking mix to make pancakes and the like, but wanted to try to make my own. So I searched the internet for a recipe and came across this one. I had all the items in my pantry so I decided to give it a shot. I am happy to report that the pancakes were amazing!!! Ryan was the person who requested pancakes for breakfast yesterday, and I am happy to report that he LOVED them. In fact he told me, and I quote “…oh my God…Mom…your pancakes gave me chills…they are so good…” Well that’s good enough for me. I will definitely never buy a baking mix again, as this is now my “go to” pancake and waffle mix recipe. Here is a link to the mix recipe that I used: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/homemade-pancake-mix-2/ I made one substitution to the recipe. When mixing the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients to make the pancakes, I added about a tablespoon of vanilla to the batter…YUM
If there was a theme to this entry is was definitely “homemade” or “from scratch.” Five of the recipes that I shared were recipes in which I had previously relied on store bought products/ingredients. I would love to make everything from scratch, but realistically that isn’t possible. So, I am attempting to make as much as I humanly can from scratch as I LOVE that I can then control the ingredients, and know exactly what my family is eating. I have heard it said that if “…your Grandmother didn’t recognize the item as food, you probably shouldn’t eat it,” and I am trying to adhere to that sentiment. In doing so, I am making more and more from scratch, and honestly I LOVE it. I don’t mind the extra work and time it requires in the kitchen, because I LOVE LOVE LOVE to be in the kitchen creating a meal that is filled with wholesome ingredients for my family. If I had to pick just one ingredient that is my absolute favorite, I would have to choose love. I add it to all my recipes, and it’s always available in my kitchen. The best thing is that love never expires…it is easily replenished, and it always…always… makes food taste better. Enjoy! ♥♥