Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving! (2015 Edition)

Since I last wrote, big changes have happened in my life. I got married, moved from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania, started my dream job as a tenure track chemistry professor at Carnegie Mellon, upgraded to a Cat 1 road cyclist... I feel like the list goes on and on.  I have so much to be thankful for. My loving family and friends, a caring, sweet husband, my dream job, many fast bikes, a nice (rental) house in a good neighborhood, a wickedly smart and athletic rabbit, who might just be a psycho-killer if he was a human... However, with so many changes I feel like I'm still finding my footing in this new life. I don't know how and what to prioritize and if I didn't love everything so much, I would feel very overwhelmed. I don't yet know how to be the best wife I can be (although recently I learned that it does not involve keeping a spotless house. We are much happier when I accept that the house will be messy.) This Thanksgiving, my husband is working night shift. Thus, I decided not to travel so that I could be with him as he spent his first holiday outside of New England without his family. I feel like a huge disappointment to my own family, but since I'm married now, I have to put Aidan first and think about how I can best support him. And I think being here for him and getting caught up on sleep, chores, and work is the best way to do just that.

We aren't totally missing out though. Last weekend, our best friend came into town, since her parents live down the street from us, so we celebrated Thanksgiving with a delicious dinner with her family then. I am so thankful to have my best friend and really, her whole family in our lives. They are the type of people who know what you need and give it to you before you even ask or realize yourself that you need it. Thanks :) She truly gives meaning to the quote "friends are the family you get to pick out." To the dinner, I brought a Veggie Turkey and apple sweet potato burgers, as the vegetarian entree (recipe below). I was really proud of my veggie turkey, especially because I found it on Pinterest last year and actually remembered for a whole year that I wanted to make it and did! I must say, it is a fantastic contribution for a vegetarian to bring to a Thanksgiving dinner.

The most adorable veggie turkey.

But on the big day, what's a girl who loves to cook but doesn't have a Thanksgiving dinner planned to do? I have a ton a work and laundry, but I decided to indulge myself by making a few more elaborate recipes that I have been dying to make for some time. For the husband, I made cranberry-maple glazed salmon and apple crisp to take to his work potluck. I followed those up with a chestnut stuffing (to make use of some french and sourdough bread that had gone stale) and a sweet potato lentil shepherds pie. There's still many hours left in the day, so I might make a few more things, but I decided to take a moment to reflect and do one more thing that I gratuitously enjoy... sharing recipes with you!

Apple Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers

1c oatmeal, ground to oat flour
1T cornstarch
1 large or two small onions
2 cans chickpeas
1 large apple diced
1 large sweet potato, cubed
garlic, ginger, cinnamon, salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Roast sweet potato cubes on parchment paper for 30 minutes or until just starting to soften.
3. Make oat flour by food processing oats. Add the cornstarch. Add spices.
4. Dice onions and add them to the food processor. 
5. Wash & drain chickpeas. Add 1/2 of them to the food processor. Pulse to make a course paste. Transfer to a large bowl.
6. When the sweet potatoes are done, add them to the food processor. Add remaining chickpeas and apple chunks and process coarse lay. Add to bowl.
7. Mix mixture in bowl with hands (like working clay) Taste to see if you need to add any additional spices.
8. Shape into patties (this should make 10). Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350F. Flip burgers at 25 minutes to evenly brown.
9. Serve with cranberry sauce (or honey mustard). Enjoy!

Vegetarian Chestnut Stuffing

1 lb chestnuts
~1 loaf stale bread (I use whole wheat bread ends, a stale Italian loaf, and stale sourdough rolls to use)
1 small onion, diced
1 16oz package mushrooms, chopped
2 stalks celery
2c vegetable broth
Black pepper, garlic, parsley to taste

1. Preheat over to 350F.
2. Cut an "x" into the top of each chestnut. Roast in over at 350 for 40 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, chisel (ok, or cut if your bread isn't like rocks) bread into chunks. Dice onion, celery, mushrooms. Place in 9x 13 pan.
4. Once your chestnuts are done and cooled, harvest as much chestnut meat as you can. Add to pan.
5. Add spices and pour broth over stuffing mixture. If using fresh bread, use less
5. Bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, or until bread is desired crispiness and mushrooms & onions are tender.

I. love. bread. Yum! Carbs are speed!

Sweet Potato Lentil Shepherd's Pie

2 large sweet potatoes
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1c dried lentils, cooked
1 package (16 oz) mushrooms
1c unsweetened original almond milk
basil, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, parsley to taste

1. Preheat over to 350F (Hint: these are all at 350 by design, so if you wanted to make a Thanksgiving feast, you could do them all at once!)
2. Wash lentils, then cook in ample water. You can flavor the water with bullion or vegemite for more flavor.
3. Poke holes with a fork in the sweet potatoes. Microwave for 10 minutes, or until soft.
4. Saute 3/4 diced onion and mushrooms in a large pan, using water to prevent from sticking. Add spices.
5. In a small food processor, food process 1/4 onion, 3 cloves garlic and parsley.
6. Once lentils are done, drain. Add to mushrooms and onions and sauté for another 5 to 10 minutes.
7. When sweet potatoes are soft and no longer scorching hot, cut open, and scoop the flesh out into a small bowl. Add almond milk with spices from the blender and mash with a potato masher.
8. Add lentils to a cassarole dish. Spoon on a top layer of sweet potato mash. Bake for 20 minutes until the top just starts to brown.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! More vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes can be found in my 2013 Thanksgiving week post. Enjoy and be thankful!