Fall Harvest Vegetarian Stuffing

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It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving was already over a week ago. This time last week I was at home with my family, decorating our Christmas tree, going on long walks, and enjoying the company of my favorite people.

I am so grateful for that time, and for the gift that holidays bring many of us every year.

For those of you curious about my vegetarian Thanksgiving, it was filling and delicious- a huge success! My mom and I spent most of the morning Thanksgiving day in the kitchen together, whipping up my all-time favorite Sweet Potato Casserole, roasted Brussels sprouts, homemade rolls, baked fruit, a homemade apple pie, and this fantastic homemade stuffing.

I have never made a homemade stuffing, so that was my goal this Thanksgiving, the most delicious stuffing I could possible create!

Good news, I found it.

This recipe is absurdly good. With the fresh apple slices, cranberries, sage, and onion- this dish is bursting with flavor.

Usually I really only care about the sweet potato casserole on the table, however this year, I hesitate to admit that this was just as good as my favorite Sweet Potato Casserole! (Those words have never been uttered.) Try it yourself and see!

Also, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I must reiterate you all that I am so grateful for you all. You bring my life joy, and that is a gift.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks salted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh, chopped sage
  • 1 large, white onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery finely chopped
  • 2 apples, chopped (with skins)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 loaf day-old French bread*
  • ½ cup Craisins or dried cranberries
  • Salt (~ ½ teaspoon)
  • Pepper (~ ¼ teaspoon)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a large frying pan, melt your butter.  Once the butter is completely melted, add one Tablespoon of the sage, the chopped onion, celery, and carrot.
  3. Sauté, stirring regularly, until the onion becomes translucent.
  4. Add the garlic, apples, salt, and pepper to the pan (salt and pepper to taste!). Cook for about two minutes, and then add the vegetable broth to the pan.
  5. Add the cayenne pepper, and allow to simmer for another few minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, tear the bread into small squares and place in a large bowl. Add the cranberries and sage, mix well.
  7. Remove the liquid mixture from the stovetop and pour over the bread. Stir thoroughly, so that the bread is evenly moist.
  8. Transfer the mixture into a 2-3/4-quart casserole dish and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes to an hour.
  9. Enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Instead of ripping a loaf of bread into squares, you can often buy bags of day old bread at the grocery store that is already torn and dry.  This just saves you a step!
  • Yield: Serves 6 people
  • Source: Epicurious
  • If you like this recipe, check out these other seasonal favorites from A Rented Kitchen! (Recipe links below).

Vegetarian Thanksgiving and a Blogging Award!

Vegetarian Thanksgiving.

Does it sound weird to you? Does it sound like a contradiction? Because I am here to assure you that a vegetarian thanksgiving is not only possible, but is most likely easier than a meat-eating thanksgiving, and equally as delicious!

Last year my family gathered around our large oak table in the dining room for our first ever entirely vegetarian thanksgiving.  I had been a vegetarian for three years at that point, but it was not until last spring that my entire family made the switch- and it was awesome! My mom prepared the most gorgeous spread of fresh vegetables and fruits, breads, grains, family favorites, and new holiday dishes. It was truly a feast. We all gathered around the table, blessed the food, and did not even notice the lack of the traditional turkey. The two pictures below are some of the beautiful dishes my mom prepared, and my sleepy brother after such a large meal. (Apparently that sleepy thanksgiving afternoon is not entirely the fault of the turkey!)

There are many advantages to a vegetarian thanksgiving. Here are a few….

  1. The environmental impact of going vegetarian is Huge! It is so easy to shop local and organic for fruits and vegetables that are in season, which cuts down on the use of pesticides, food miles traveled, and minimizes waste! In order to plump up the almost 46 million turkeys Americans consume each year, there has to be an enormous amount of grain grown. That means there is unbelievable amounts of energy, water, and land used to produce that grain- food and energy we could just be using and eating ourselves.
  2. A vegetarian thanksgiving can be much healthier! If you sub out the meat, which by the end of being cooked, stuffed, and covered in gravy can be pretty high in calories and fat, and substitute in more vegetables, you will end the meal feeling much better about yourself than you are used to!
  3. A vegetarian thanksgiving is quicker and easier! You may make more casserole dishes than you are used to by eliminating the main entrée (the turkey), however many of those smaller casserole dishes can be conquered a few days in advance. This allows for you to spread out your cooking endeavors, and actually give yourself some time to relax on the holiday- instead of being in the kitchen waiting on that bird to brown all afternoon.

For all these reasons and more, I encourage you to think about a vegetarian thanksgiving. If you absolutely cannot imagine that, try to use an organic or local turkey- it makes a huge environmental difference! Also consider using a smaller turkey than you’re used to. More is not always better, or necessary.

If you’re considering reducing your meat intake this holiday, or trying a vegetarian thanksgiving, here are some potential menu ideas! Most of these are just suggestions, options to get the wheels turning in your head. Click the name of each choice to see pictures of the dish and the entire recipe. I hope this helps and I hope all of you have the most wonderful thanksgiving!

Starters:

Entrée Options:

Dessert Options:

I also would like to say a huge thank you to Vinitia from “vinicooksveg,” which is an amazingly thorough and beautifully written vegetarian blog. (You all should check it out!) She has so graciously awarded me with the ‘One Lovely Blog Award.’

This award has been floating around in the blogging world recently. People who are awarded with this blog in turn nominate another blogger who’s work they admire. The rule is the recipient also has to share 7 interesting things about themselves. So, here it goes…

  • I love reading. One of my absolute favorite books is “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Love it!
  • I love the smell of blueberry muffins in the oven. I can never get enough of that.
  • I would love to own a pet rabbit. I don’t, I have heard they’re messy, but that would be the best day.
  • I worked at a tiny coffee shops for two years as a barista and still don’t like coffee. It’s a losing battle.
  • If eating bread for every meal was healthy, I’d eat at least 3 muffins a day!
  • I love the holidays, however, I never want to celebrate Christmas until after thanksgiving. Why rush something so wonderful?
  • If the choice was beach or mountains, I would probably chose mountains.

I am so appreciative of readers like Vinitia and am honored to be a recipient. Thank you all for the support! In return, I would like to nominate another blog that deserves this award, and I choose to dedicate it to Emily Cooks Vegan!  Emily’s blog has a special place in my heart, because she is a vegan, which is mirrors my vegetarian diet. She also is a student like I am. This is what blows me away.  This girl manages to upload a new cooking adventure almost every single day, which I definitely do not have time for.  And every dish looks absolutely delicious dishes! It is definitely a blog worth checking out!

Thanks again and happy monday! Stay tuned for more delicious recipes coming your way!

love, Sarah

Sweet Potato Casserole

With November fast approaching, it seems only appropriate for Thanksgiving to be our minds. However, with the tragedies of hurricane Sandy continuing to impact thousands of lives, I know being thankful may be more difficult now than ever.

I live on the east coast, however just last Wednesday I flew home to the Midwest to visit my family. Halfway through my trip I learned of Hurricane Sandy as I watched the news show Sandy’s devastating energy headed directly for the eastern shore.  Needless to say, my flight back to school was canceled, and my trip in the Midwest was significantly extended.

I decided there was no better way to spend those extra few days home, than cooking up some classic comfort foods. This casserole in particular, is hands down, my favorite food in the world. My mom has made it for me for every thanksgiving, sick day, and birthday that I can remember.  I wanted to share it with you all, because this dish, more than any other dish, reminds me of home. It reminds me of family, of being gathered around the table, and of the incredible list of things I have to be thankful for in my life. With the devastation of Hurricane Sandy lingering on our hearts, I think we could all use a little more home.

Casserole Ingredients:

  • 6 medium sweet potatoes
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • ½ cup butter or margarine

Topping Ingredients:

  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup oatmeal
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.
  2. Rinse the sweet potatoes.  In a large pot, cook the sweet potatoes in boiling water for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until tender.
  3. Allow time for the potatoes to cool, and peel.
  4. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and mash.
  5. Add the sugar, eggs, vanilla, 1/2 cup butter, and milk to the mashed potatoes. Using an electric mixer, cream together until smooth.
  6. Transfer the potato mixture to the prepared baking dish and smooth with a spatula.
  7. In a small bowl combine the brown sugar, oatmeal, flour, and 2 Tablespoons butter. Crumble and mix together until well combined.
  8. Sprinkle the brown sugar and oats mixture evenly over the sweet potatoes and bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Serve warm and enjoy!

Notes and Tips!: