Tips for a Tasty Vegetarian Thanksgiving

If you're hosting Thanksgiving at your house and are expecting vegetarian guests this year, don't worry about preparing one large meat eating meal, and another separate vegetarian meal. Most vegetarians do not require a 'meat equivalent' at Thanksgiving. Yes, traditionally Thanksgiving has largely about the food. But more importantly it's about family, togetherness, happiness and peace.

Veggieducken on the table
Veggieducken close up, vegetarian thanksgiving recipe
Photo: Veggieducken by The Sporkful, on Flickr

And if this is your first Thanksgiving after transitioning to a vegetarian lifestyle, try some of these ideas to incorporate healthy food preparation into your meal that your vegetarian guests, and you as host, will be thankful for this Thanksgiving:

Bake some stuffing outside of the turkey.

Make a small portion of vegetarian gravy.

Keep cooking utensils separate to prevent "cross-contamination" between meat foods and vegetarian foods.

When recipes are adaptable, use substitutions like vegetarian broth, soy margarine (the formulations without whey are suitable for vegans), soy milk, and kosher marshmallows which are made without gelatin.

Use vegetable oils instead of animal fats for frying, and vegetable shortening like Crisco for pie crust.

Read ingredients lists carefully on pre-packaged foods, being aware of terms like gelatin, whey, and "natural flavors" that can be animal-derived.

Prepare plenty of vegetable and fruit side dishes, but leave them plain. - Offer plenty of breads, beverages, fresh fruits, and non-gelatin desserts, which are suitable without modification for most vegetarians.

Thanksgiving, vegetarian thanksgiving recipe
Photo: Veggieducken by Dylan T. Moore, on Flickr

Invite your vegetarian Thanksgiving guest to prepare a "Tofurky" or vegetarian 'turkey equivalent' entrée to share with you the rest of your guests, or if you're hosting Thanksgiving, prepare a small one. Your meat-eating guests might just be curious enough to want to try it!

Thanksgiving, vegetarian thanksgiving recipe
Photo: Veggieducken by gabriel amadeus, on Flickr

Ask your vegetarian guest for help, tips, or recipes that would complement their vegetarian choice. You may find that your guest offers to help out in the kitchen or bring a dish from home. Please don't take a dish from home as an insult to your cooking; take it as a desire to share traditions at Thanksgiving. Even meat-eating homes can benefit from a healthy, nutrient-dense vegetarian recipe idea any time of the year!

Most importantly - make TONS of new, delicious (not overly cooked) vegetables that are perfectly in season like squashes, sweet potatoes, and green beans, etc.

Bleeding Cupcakes Recipe

From the kitchen of Martin James ~ Copenhagen, Denmark

I have served them warm over the past few years, using a dark chocolate cupcake with a warm fudge sauce frosting and when people bit into the warm cupcakes the filling literally oozed out of the cupcake and looked like blood. It was really really disgusting. Of course, everyone loved it and the cupcakes tasted marvelous. This bleeding cupcake recipe works equally well with any flavor of homemade or boxed cupcake mix. The filling recipe doubles and halves easily, so if you are using a non-standard cake recipe, make sure to adjust your recipe. Chocolate chips, shredded chocolate, or butterscotch chips can be used instead of the white chocolate chunks.


bleeding cupcake recipe, delicious recipe

1 egg
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Red food coloring or frosting tint
6 ounce white chocolate chunks
1 recipe homemade or boxed cake batter

Preheat the oven to the specified temperature in your cupcake recipe. Line muffin tins with foil or paper liners.

Mix together the filling before mixing together the batter. Beat the egg in a medium bowl. Beat in the softened cream cheese and mix until smooth. Add the sugar and mix until smooth. Add the coloring until the desired color is reached. Make the color several shades darker than the desired end result as the color will lighten as it bakes. Fold in the white chocolate chunks. Prepare the cupcake batter. Fill the cups 2/3 full with the cake batter. Place about 1 1/2 teaspoonsful of the filling in the center of each cupcake. Bake, cool, and frost as directed in the cupcake recipe.

Cooking Cajun Food

Cooking in the heart of Cajun country is an art form. There really is very little science to this particular form of cooking that includes a lot more than mere lagniappe from the pantry or the spice cabinet. Cajun cooking is something that has often been imitated around the country and around the world but can very rarely be accurately duplicated.

One of the fascinating things about Cajun cooking is the fact that there are very few exact recipes. Most, if not all authentic Cajun cooking is done to taste rather than measurements. Even more amazing is that from day to day one person can make the same dish over and over and it is quite likely to taste a little bit different each and every time it is made. The major reason for this is that in addition to being an art form in and of itself, Cajun food is often made even more delicious or mysterious simply by the mood of the one doing the cooking.

Cajun fish, cajun food, cooking cajun
Chunks of Salmon & Large King Prawns cooked in Cajun Spices on a bed of Fresh Mixed Leaves at The Old Post Office in Haigh, Barnsley

(Photo by thefoodplace.co.uk on Flickr)



I'm sure that many of you have watched as Emeril Lagasse makes some special concoction and exclaims "Bam!" there is a good bit of that when it comes to Cajun cooking. Something that goes far beyond the ingredients in the recipe and somewhere into the heart and the soul of the cook in question. There is a reason that many southern cooked dishes are referred to as soul food and you should not for one second forget that New Orleans is in the heart of the Deep South.

The most difficult thing, perhaps when it comes to preparing good Cajun dishes outside of the New Orleans region is finding the right ingredients. It is nearly impossible to find the fresh seasonings and spices that are essential to most Cajun cuisine outside the heart of the old south. Not only that, but fresh crawfish and andouille sausage are a little difficult to come by during the heart of a Michigan winter.

If you are determined to learn to make Cajun food of your own, you must first find the ingredients. Specialty food shops or those that will special order might be your best bet. There are some grocers that will carry a limited stock of Cajun seasonings on their international food aisles. Keep in mind that these sources are extremely limited. Once you have the ingredients, it's time to let a little jazz blare from your speakers in order to set the mood. Most of the best Cajun dishes require a substantial amount of time for simmering and this should be considered. Cajun food is not to be rushed-much like the citizens of the Big Easy. The food will be ready in time and as the one cooking the food you must learn to accept that about Cajun food. It has a way of letting you know when it is ready that is almost mythical until you've experienced it for yourself.

Cooking Cajun food will try your patience, try your talents, and in some cases zap your energy, as it tends to be an emotional process for many. On the other end however, Cajun food is some of the richest and most delicious food on the planet. Mastering the ability to cook this wonderful food will make you a slave to its flavor for many years to come.

Love Age Wine

Do you love wine? I love wine, especially red wine. I like the complexity of the substance. If you open a bottle of wine now, it probably will taste fine but here's cool thing about wine, if you open a bottle of the same wine many years from now, and that same wine becomes completely something else. The rough edges in the wine's flavor will have smoothed out and the overall taste of the wine will be more pleasant, mellow and balanced.

Age wine does taste better. The many components of a wine will over time, mellow out and bring a a wonderful balance to its flavor because the acids lessens and fruit flavor come out more.

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