It's that time again. Thanksgiving.

centralcacyclistSeptember 6, 2012

I know it seems a bit early but I have to get started on this soon as I will do most of the cooking. We will once again gather in Hollywood at the home of my friend. Last year we were 15. This year I imagine we will number about the same give or take one or two depending on who can be there.

We had at least one vegetarian who was not properly accommodated. I asked and was told no one had special dietary concerns. This year I know better. I am thinking I will make a hearty mac and cheese dish. I will suggest we skip the ham this year and substitute mac and cheese. This my first thought and I will gladly consider something else if someone has a good idea. As far as I know we have no vegans in the group. I will ask, though.

The menu last year very traditional. Turkey, stuffing (two kinds - cornbread and bacon and Silver Palette's Grand Marnier stuffing), ham, mashed potatoes, yams, a green salad, green beans, a jello mold thing (a must have from one family), multiple kinds of cranberry sauce, various pies, cheesecake. Nothing unusual.

I'll send an email off to everyone to jump start things soon.

Because I am far away and will arrive the night before I will begin prepping and freezing things that will handle freezing like the unbaked stuffing and the pumpkin I will cook and puree. I will also make a small turkey in advance so that I can make gravy and not have to make it on the spot. I want to spread out the work more than I did last year. Do you think I can make mac and cheese ahead and freeze it? Baked or unbaked?



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A vegetarian once told me that everyone thinks that mac and cheese is a good alternative to serve when he was included in a dinner party. And he could never bring himself to tell his hostesses/hots that he HATES mac and cheese. So he suffers in silence.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 5:21PM
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Wouldn't bake the mac and cheese ahead. How about a meatless lasagna?...I know that freezes well.
Cheese cake freezes well, as do things like apple cake and pumpkin bread and sweet potato muffins.
And you can make the "cooked" sorts of cranberry sauces ahead and...just seal in a sterile jar...or keep refrigerated.
If I need to make turkey stock ahead for gravy, I buy a couple of turkey wings, roast them and proceed from there....unless you want the meat from that little turkey.
Today is the first cool I can say things like "Cranberry sauce" and "Thanksgiving" without shuddering!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 5:29PM
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I do like the idea of lasagna better than mac and cheese. Last year I pointedly asked if we needed to have something for any vegetarians and I was told no. I can make a lasagna easily. Not a tomato sauced one, though. Jojo posted a good one with portobello mushrooms a while back. I have that recipe saved. And I will freeze it unbaked and bake it the day of. But I'll ask first. I want to know that it's a good option. They are the "don't do anything special on our account" sort of guest.

The cheesecake is someone else's project. She does a good job of it and it's her family's personal request. I delegate the cranberry sauces. I will make a small turkey. I have uses for it other than just gravy. I delegate the yams as well. I make the pumpkin pies. Other pies will be brought by someone else. I might make the pecan pie this year. Some breads sound good to have around while everyone has coffee in the morning.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 5:59PM
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I found this recipe which sounds seasonal and delicious as both a side dish for everyone else and a main dish for a vegetarian.

Hazelnut & Chard Ravioli Salad Recipe
Choose a winter flavored ravioli, I used a fresh (but store-bought) sweet onion & red chard ravioli, but I suspect a butternut squash ravioli would be delicious as well. I sometimes precook the raviolis and keep them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet until I am ready to use them - this helps prevent the raviolis from melding into one another after cooking. I used a butternut squash version of the potato "croutons" shown here. Substitute butternut squash for the potatoes, you can make them a day ahead, but they loose some of their structure overnight. The flavor is still great, but you'll loose a couple points for eye-appeal. I sometimes do a big batch of the onions and keep them in a jar in the refrigerator to use in recipes like this one.

3/4 lb. raviolis (see headnotes)
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
fine grain sea salt
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 bunch swiss chard, deveined and cut into 1/2-inch ribbons
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
1 cup butternut squash "croutons"
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup chives, minced

Into an extra-large pot of well-salted boiling water add the raviolis. After a few minutes, when the raviolis float and are cooked through, drain them and toss with one tablespoon of the olive oil. This prevents them from sticking together. Set aside.

To caramelize the onions, heat another tablespoon of the olive oil in a large thick-bottomed skillet with a pinch of salt. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions collapse and turn deep brown in color. You can do this ahead of time (or just before serving) - whatever you prefer. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Just before serving heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, again in a big skillet over high heat. Add the raviolis. Stir in the onions, and then the chard. Wait until the chard begins to wilt, then stir in most of the cheese and most of the hazelnuts. Gently fold in the butternut squash and lemon zest. Remove from heat.

Serve on a big platter garnished with chives and remaining hazelnuts and Parmesan.

Serves 6.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 7:42PM
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Here's the thing about many vegetarians, and of course there are exceptions to the rule, but I speak for myself and many others I've met. Many of us just aren't huge on intensely eggy dishes- quiches, some casseroles, etc. Now again, I don't speak for all- but a lot of us would rather not think about the eggs in our food. In a bread? No problem. I can pretend. But the fluffiness- and it's often present in mac n cheese- it just puts me off, and I know I'm not alone in this. That being said, and I said it last year, stuffing, stuffing stuffing! Make a vegetarian stuffing! It's a favorite question of mine when I meat a fellow vegetarian, "what is your favorite thanksgiving food?" Hasn't failed me yet. Anyways, my mission to put vegetarian stuffing on every thanksgiving table aside, I am really liking the sound of that ravioli.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:05PM
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"Meet" a vegetarian! Gaw!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:12PM
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Last year we had a vegetarian friend for T'giving dinner. She and her husband never raise the issue, she just eats everything around the turkey. But I made the following dish from Epicurious. I saved the recipe and the comment below it. I prepped it ahead of time and baked it as people arrived so it was fresh. It was a huge hit with everyone, and I've made it again just for DH and me. It is highly recommended.

I also made a vegetarian stuffing as well as a regular one. It's not that hard.


Phyllo-Wrapped Salmon with Leeks and Red Bell Pepper
Bon Appetit : October 1997
Ristorante Araxi, Whistler, British Columbia
Yield: Serves 6
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
4 cups matchstick-size strips red bell peppers (about 2 large)
2 cups matchstick-size strips leek (white and pale green parts only; about 1 large)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1 teaspoon salt

12 sheets fresh phyllo pastry or frozen, thawed
6 5-ounce 6x2x1-inch skinless salmon fillets
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and leek and saute until leek is tender, about 6 minutes. Add wine and crushed red pepper to skillet. Simmer until liquid evaporates, about 4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Cool vegetable mixture. Stir in basil and salt.
Preheat oven to 400F. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in small saucepan. Place 1 pastry sheet on work surface (keep remaining phyllo sheets covered). Brush with some of melted butter. Top with second pastry sheet; brush with melted butter. Place 1 salmon fillet crosswise on pastry sheet, 5 inches in from 1 short end. Top salmon fillet with 1/4 cup of vegetable mixture. Fold 5-inch section of pastry over salmon. Fold in sides. Roll up, forming rectangular packet. Transfer to heavy large baking sheet, vegetable side up. Brush packet all over with melted butter. Repeat with remaining pastry sheets, melted butter, salmon fillets and vegetables. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)
Bake salmon until pastry is pale golden and salmon is cooked through, about 35 minutes.
Tara_Mtl from Montreal, Quebec
Everyone I've made this for has loved it! Even people who don't typically like fish. The only change I make is that I put a thin layer of either light cream cheese or goat cheese on top of the salmon before putting the vegetables on top. I've even done this on the barbecue. Works great!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:28PM
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Show me a vegetarian stuffing recipe so I know what to shoot for. My idea of stuffing includes turkey broth, butter, and sausage. :) I'll have to use a vegetable broth so I'll have to track down a good one. Mostly I don't care for them. TJ had a veggie broth in little foil packets for a while that I thought was tasty but I haven't seen it there in a long time. Looks like I can get it on Amazon, though. I can see putting some nuts in it like cashews or almonds. No fake meat-like things, though.

I'm not a eggy thing lover either. I don't put eggs in mac and cheese (Fannie Farmer recipe) so your reference to fluffiness confuses me. I suppose other people do. I personally love mac and cheese and eat it rarely but it is pretty boring.

I think the ravioli dish sounds like a winner, too. It doesn't have much of a protein component, though, some hazelnuts and parmesan. But maybe it doesn't need to be a big protein thing. I won't be making a tofu faux turkey thing. I think that's insulting to tofu and sort of a worn out joke. I just want to make honest yummy something(s) that everyone can enjoy. i do like the idea of a vegetarian stuffing. Maybe with some cornbread so it has a different flavor profile than the other stuffing.


Here is a link that might be useful: Veggie broth.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:30PM
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I'll ask if these girls eat fish. I'm not sure. It would be a nice thing, sounds delish. I'm wondering if it could done more as a whole "pie" so that I don't have to do individual packets.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:39PM
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I also hate mac and cheese and think that stuffing is a much better choice. My stuffing recipe would be vegan if I did not add egg to it, but the egg can be omitted, although the liquid will also have to be reduced. I use mushroom stock instead of vegetable stock, and I also make a mushroom gravy/sauce as an alternative to turkey gravy.

For a make-ahead dish, think of something with eggplant. I got a good eggplant couscous recipe from Ruthanna, although I no longer have it. It got lost on my decrepit external hard drive, although I did find my recipes from more than two years ago on my old computer.

Cornbread has eggs in it, but I often use grits for stuffing instead of cornbread, thus avoiding any use of egg. My SIL likes it better than cornbread stuffing, but I have since gone back to making stuffing with cornbread, even though it takes quite a bit longer.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:53PM
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This is the vegetarian stuffing I made:

Mushroom and Walnut Stuffing

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking dish
2 large yellow onions, diced small
3 celery stalks, diced medium (about 2 cups)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
10 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, diced small
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1 loaf crusty white bread, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (8 cups) and left uncovered overnight or toasted (I used cornbread instead)
1 to 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add onions and celery; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 5 to 7 minutes; transfer to a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil, mushrooms, and sage to skillet; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until mushrooms are browned, 5 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon, until wine is almost evaporated. Transfer to bowl with vegetables; add walnuts, bread, and enough broth to moisten (stuffing should feel moist but not soggy). Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
2. Add eggs to bread mixture and toss well to combine. Spoon into a lightly oiled 2-quart baking dish. (To store, cover and refrigerate, up to 1 day.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in upper third. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top, 30 minutes.

To me it was tasty, though not as tasty as it would have been with turkey stock and/or bacon. If I were doing it again, I would add a big tablespoon or two of miso which has a similar umami flavor as mushrooms and bacon.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 11:26PM
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Nice! Copying to my files. I will not use walnuts as a lot of people don't care for walnuts as much as other nuts. I think roasted almonds will make my group happier. I love walnuts but I know this group. Mushrooms will have to be almost invisible as well.

Lars, eggplant is a maybe. I'll ask. I love eggplant.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 11:39PM
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I love mac and cheese....but can't think of it as a thanksgiving meal.
Veggie broth?? Buy it?? EWW!
Water...couple of stalks of celery and leaves, onion, garlic, carrot and parsnip. Lots and lots of parsley stems, a lemon half...juiced with the rind tossed in. Perhaps half a green pepper....good glug glug of wine like perhaps pinot grigio...a little sweet. Simmer a couple of hours and strain.
And some chesnuts in a veggie stuffing would be lovely!

Or, if you can get them, corona beans? They are very "meaty"...If you can find them!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 11:43PM
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I'll make the broth maybe. I am going to begin soon. The TJ broth is pretty good. But shroomy broth with wine would be better.

Thanksgiving beans? Really?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 11:48PM
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I agree on the stuffing. My mama makes a chestnut/butter/sage one. I remember always being really sad that I couldn't have the gravy when I was vegetarian, so mushroom gravy or something might be a nice thing too. A browned roux makes just about anything taste rich and wonderful. I guess it might also be nice to have something vegetarian with some protein, maybe veggie chili or a pot of beans.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 11:58PM
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I don't care much for mac and cheese, so that probably colors my choice, but I think Lars' stuffing sounds delicious. I also like butternut squash ravioli, although I like the filling much more than the pasta, I like nearly anything with butternut squash. A vegetable lasagna or eggplant parmesan would be hearty and good too.

I sure don't envy you this one, it reminds me of lpinkmountains first postings here, when she (the vegetarian) had to make Thanksgiving dinner for her Dad and the rest of the family. I think she actually might have tried that tofurkey!


    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 11:59PM
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For some recipes listing vegetable broth, I use porcini mushroom bouillon cubes. The only place I've seen them is in Italian markets. The brand I buy most often is Star. They would add some depth of flavor to a meatless gravy.

Lars, I'll find and repost that recipe for you tomorrow.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 12:24AM
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Store bought vegetable broths can be pretty awful. In a pinch I've found that vegetable bouillons can do the trick, but if you're making your own broth, all the better. Just enjoy yourself and don't stress. Believe me, we vegetarians find these events every bit as nerve wracking as you might. We don't like to feel as if we are putting people out or require special treatment. But it is very admirable that you are putting forth such an effort and it looks like you have some great recipes. Looking forward to hearing more about this.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 12:34AM
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This vegetarian lasagne is very delicate and delicious. It's rich enough to class as a celebration dish. I posted it before in the courgette thread.

Courgette lasagna with marscapone.
6 sheets of fresh pasta
300g courgettes
150g marscapone
1 egg
80g grated parmesan
25 cl cream
fresh thyme
nutmeg, salt and pepper

mix the marscapone with the egg and 3 soup spoons of parmesan, some grated nutmeg and s&p
Wash the courgettes and slice them thinly
heat the oven to 150�c
Cok the pasta sheets in boiling water and drain
gently fry the courgettes and thyme in a little butter, add the cream, salt and pepper. away from the heat, add the marscapone mix. Mix well.
Put alternate layers of mix and pasta in a dish, grate more parmesan over and bake for30 mins. Not diet food, but really special.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 3:03AM
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My favorite vegetable broths are the Better Than Bouillon brand vegetarian bases (No Chicken, No Beef, and the Vegetable one). The other store bought ones that I've tried are too heavy on the carrot and sickeningly sweet.

Now, I can only speak for myself but I've been a vegetarian for 14 years and I prefer just eating the sides. As much as I'd appreciate a dish made specifically for me like lasagna, the fun of Thanksgiving is the traditional sides that I can't get every day. Plus, I already feel like a total inconvenience so I prefer if people made less of a fuss by not making an extra separate dish. But maybe that's just me.

I get around it by making all the sides vegetarian so I can eat everything but the turkey. No one else seems to even notice as really the only difference was subbing chicken broth with veggie. Last year I made stuffing, mashed potatoes, homemade green bean casserole, pureed squash, rolls, and probably some other stuff that I can remember and it was good. I walked away as stuffed as everyone else. :)

By far, the best stuffing I've ever had is Pioneer Woman's (linked). The only change I had to make was the chicken/vegetable broth swap and everyone loved it.

I think it's very nice that you want to accommodate everyone!

Here is a link that might be useful: Pioneer Woman Stuffing

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 9:29AM
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A butternut squash lasagna might be a good choice, too. This one is very good. Only thing I do differently is use regular lasagna noodles as I'm not a fan of the no boil stuff.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Rosemary, and Garlic Lasagne
Courtesy Gourmet Magazine

3 pounds butternut squash, quartered, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 9 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cups milk
2 tablespoons dried rosemary, crumbled
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
9 7 x 3 1/2-inch sheets dry no-boil lasagne pasta
1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan (about 5 ounces)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt

Garnish: Fresh rosemary sprigs

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. and oil 2 large shallow baking pans.
In a large bowl toss squash with oil until coated well and spread in one layer in pans. Roast squash in oven 10 minutes and season with salt. Stir squash and roast 10 to 15 minutes more, or until tender and beginning to turn golden.

While squash is roasting, in a saucepan bring milk to a simmer with rosemary. Heat milk mixture over low heat 10 minutes and pour through a sieve into a large pitcher or measuring cup.
In a large heavy saucepan cook garlic in butter over moderately low heat, stirring until softened. Stir in flour and cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in milk mixture in a stream until smooth. Return pan to heat and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, about 10 minutes, or until thick. Stir in squash and salt and pepper to taste. Sauce may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, its surface covered with plastic wrap.

Reduce temperature to 375 degrees F. and butter a baking dish, 13 x 9 x 2 inches.
Pour 1 cup sauce into baking dish (sauce will not cover bottom completely) and cover with 3 lasagne sheets, making sure they do not touch each other. Spread half of remaining sauce over pasta and sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Make one more layer in same manner, beginning and ending with pasta. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat cream with salt until it holds soft peaks and spread evenly over top pasta layer, making sure pasta is completely covered. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan over cream. Cover dish tightly with foil, tenting slightly to prevent foil from touching top layer, and bake in middle of oven 30 minutes.

Remove foil and bake lasagne 10 minutes more, or until top is bubbling and golden. Let lasagne stand 5 minutes. Garnish each serving with rosemary.
6 servings as a main course


    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 11:28AM
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I found my grits stuffing recipe on my computer here at work. I had copied my own recipes here so that I would be able to share them, but I did not copy recipes that I got from others and did not change or adapt, and so I do not have Ruthanna's Eggplant Couscous recipe. I hope she will post it again.

Grits Faux Cornbread Stuffing

2 tbsp vegetable oil or grape seed oil
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 cups finely chopped celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth (or water)
1 tbsp soup base, mushroom, chicken, vegetable, or a combination - substitute 1 tsp salt if not using soup base
1/8 tsp cayenne or hot sauce
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1-2 tsps dried sage (according to your taste)
3/4 cup quick grits (be sure not to use "instant") - can substitute polenta
2 eggs (optional, if making vegan style)*
2 tbsp water
2 cups dry bread, in small cubes

In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil and add the butter. When the butter is melted, add the onion, celery, and garlic, and saut� for a few minutes, or until the onions begin to be translucent. The celery must stay crunchy. Add the water (or broth, if you have it), soup base, cayenne, and herbs, and stir to combine. Take the pan off heat, and add the quick grits slowly while stirring. Stir for one minute off heat, and return to low heat. Cover and cook five minutes more (for a total of six minutes), stirring occasionally.
Preheat oven to 350�. Beat the eggs with the 2 tbsp water, and then combine with the bread cubes. Transfer the bread to a 9x9 baking dish, add the cooked grits, and stir to combine.
Bake covered for about 10 minutes - longer if the grits have been made ahead and have cooled. If you like it less moist, you can bake it uncovered.

*Note: This dish will be crumblier if eggs are omitted.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 11:43AM
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Here's the eggplant rollup recipe:


2 1-lb. eggplants
4 tsp. olive oil
1 cup couscous, preferably whole wheat
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
3/4 cup + 2 Tbs. crumbled feta cheese
3 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil two baking sheets or coat with nonstick cooking spray. Trim both ends of the eggplants. Stand one eggplant on end and remove a thin slice of skin from two opposite sides and discard. Repeat with the second eggplant. Cut each eggplant into 6 or more 3/8 inch slices. Using 2 tsp. of the oil, brush both sides of the slices and arrange in a single layer on the baking sheets.

Bake for 10 minutes, turn over and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes more, or until lightly browned and tender.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Stir in couscous, thyme, and remaining 2 tsp. olive oil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Uncover and let cool for 15 minutes. With a fork, stir in 3/4 cup of the feta, 2 Tbs. of the mint and some pepper.

Lightly oil a 9 X 13 inch baking dish or oil it with nonstick cooking spray. Place some of the couscous mixture in the center of each eggplant slice. Roll up the eggplant firmly around the filling and place, seam-side down, in the prepared dish. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover, spoon spaghetti sauce on top and bake for 5 minutes more. Sprinkle with the remaining 3 Tbs. feta cheese and 1 Tbsp. mint before serving.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 1:29PM
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These are all wonderful ideas and recipes. Mascarpone makes everything better, doesn't it. I love the butternut lasagna, too. And the stuffings. I will save the eggplant recipe for another occasion. I adore couscous.

My crepe pan caught my attention this morning so I am toying with the idea of a savory crepe dish. Crepes filled with butternut and ricotta. I also found a vegan recipe for chickpea crepes filled with butternut, shallots, and brussels sprouts. Crepes can be made ahead and frozen easily. What do you vegetarians think about savory crepes?

Since I have time I will attempt some vegetable stock of my own. Like Lars, I am a fan of Star mushroom cubes even if they are a bit salty.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 1:50PM
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I may sound cruel, but any vegetariens, or vegans are
not invited to my house for Thanksgiving.
There will be turkey and mashed potatoes, with gravey,
and some sort of veggie.
Anyone that doesn't like the menu can pound salt.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 4:03PM
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So if a family member of yours went vegetarian, you wouldn't invite them to Thanksgiving? That seems pretty cruel to me.

I sure am thankful my family and friends think that I am more important than food. I never make menu demands but I definitely appreciate the minor adjustments that they make (substitution of broth types) that allows me to eat dinner. But even if I couldn't eat, I would still go because my family means more to me than being able to eat the stuffing.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 4:57PM
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Lbpod, that isn't a nice thing to say!

My SIL is allergic to turkey but loves the sides including my stuffing and turnip puff. I usually make the mashed potatoes that can be made ahead and have sour cream and cream cheese in it.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 5:10PM
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Why do statements like this always arise when vegetarianism is mentioned? Is it because we're always sneaking into your house at night and flushing your bacon down the toilet?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 5:52PM
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I welcome the opportunity to expand my cooking skills and knowledge.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 6:17PM
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Thanks for posting the recipe again, Ruthanna! I would like to mention that when I made that recipe, it only filled up an 9x9" pan (I used Corningware). I've made the recipe several times because I liked it so much, but I always use the smaller pan.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 7:31PM
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A good friend has been vegetarian for about 15 years, so I'm pretty used to making vegetarian dishes. (BTW, if a person does eat fish they are not vegetarian. There is another phrase for that, but I don't recall it.)

I often substitute pecans for walnuts as I don't seem to care for the flavors of walnuts as much.

This is a T&T recipe for vegetarian stuffing which has a lot of flavor. It can be prepared a day or two ahead. Though I have not done it, I think it would freeze well.

Apple Pecan Stuffing
Yield: 6 cups

butter or margarine
2/3 c diced onions
2/3 c diced celery
3 c diced day-old bread
3 c diced apples such as Granny Smith
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp sage
1/8 tsp marjoram
1/8 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp parsley flakes
1/c chopped pecans
1/2 c vegetarian bouillon or broth or apple juice/cider or water
1/2 c golden raisins, optional

Add onions & celery to bread cubes.
Melt 2 Tbsp butter in skillet. Stir in apples and cook until golden.
Add apples to bread mixture.
Stir in salt, pepper, sage, marjoram, thyme, parsley and pecans.
Add liquid & mix thoroughly.
Note: the stuffing is ready at this point, but I put it in a greased baking dish & bake it 30-45 minutes to add crispness.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 9:40PM
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Kathleen, I think that might be "pescatarian" or something similar, but I don't really know.

Amanda was a vegetarian for a couple of years and she loved Thanksgiving because she could eat the fresh homemade rolls, all the sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce she wanted and a couple of desserts.

The most important thing about Thanksgiving to me is having my friends and family with me, not what they eat while they are here. There are always "food issues" arising. Amanda has diverticulitis, she can't eat seeds, nuts, corn. Mother is allergic to lemons. My brother is lactose intolerant and my daughter in law is celiac and can't have gluten. My brother in law is diabetic. Somehow we manage to feed them all anyway.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 10:30PM
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Last year I made baked, stuffed Acorn squash rings for the vegetarians (and anyone else that wanted some). My niece and her BF (now her fiance!) both seemed to like it very much. I think the stuffing was couscous? Anyhoo, it wasn't hard to make and added to their plate along with the side dishes and the tofurkey (yuck) my sister brought for them.

I might make something with stuffing for the veg. couple this year. I know my mom uses turkey broth and the giblets in her excellent, must-have cornbread and sage stuffing.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 9:59AM
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Kathleen, thank you for the stuffing recipe, it sounds delicious. I am very fond of pecans. I rarely use them in my cooking as the price has been so high for a few years and I have a great source for new crop walnuts every year. Pecans will be a nice way to differentiate the two stuffings.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 11:00AM
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Yeah, I was quite harsh sounding. I guess it's because
I have never known any of these people. I would
NEVER, on this earth, go to someone's home and expect
them to make special foods for me because of my beliefs,
(I would rather starve.)
If there were a medical reason for it, I would bend over
backwards, though. I never heard the term 'vegan' until
just a couple of years ago. I had to read up on it, and
came to the conclusion that if it were not for vitamin
and protein supplements, it would not be a healthy lifestyle. But, I must relinquish to one of my higher
standards: "To each his own", (but leave me out of it).
signed; An Old Poop.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 11:28AM
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That Apple-Pecan Stuffing looks great - I might use that in the stuffed squash this year.

I found my acorn stuffed squash recipe - I did use vegetable broth, not the chicken broth.

Mediterranean-style Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves 4

2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 large acorn squash, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth (or veg. broth)
1 cup uncooked couscous

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. Arrange squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, or until tender. Dissolve the sugar in the melted butter. Brush squash with the butter mixture, and keep squash warm while preparing the stuffing.

3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, celery, and carrots, and cook 5 minutes. Mix in the garbanzo beans and raisins. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper, and continue to cook and stir until vegetables are tender.

4. Pour the chicken broth into the skillet, and mix in the couscous. Cover skillet, and turn off heat. Allow couscous to absorb liquid for 5 minutes. Stuff squash halves with the skillet mixture to serve.

note: I cut rings of the squash to provide more servings


    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 11:52AM
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"...came to the conclusion that if it were not for vitamin
and protein supplements, it would not be a healthy lifestyle."

Just thought this might be a good place to make a comment in case others are reading but not posting and think that because some choose to not eat animal products their diets are somehow difficient in protein. This is just not true. As just one example and without turning this post into a white paper....eating corn and beans together at a meal equals a complete protein. There are many other possibilities.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 12:14PM
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Well, there are two concerns at play here. One is the issue of making things ahead. The other is the issue of accomodating a vegetarian. This leads to several different approaches. I am all about doing whatever is easiest. I no longer sweat Thanksgiving, just cook whatever I think will make a good easy family meal. Last year we had stuffed pork loin and roasted potatoes of various colors, various root and other vegetables, with coleslaw and a chopped salad with pickled beets, feta and sunflower seeds as a topping and grilled asparagus, homeade bread for my dad on the side, pumpkin cheesecake for dessert, made everyone in my family fairly happy. But I digress. As a mostly vegetarian, health conscious person and someone who has to watch her weight, I have to admit I don't like Thanksgiving dinner! Stuffing, candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, rolls and pumpkin pie for dessert. Starch, starch and more starch!! No wonder everyone is in a diabetic haze after dinner, I think the turkey is the least of the problem! So I would not add macaronni and cheese to that equation, nor lasagne, even though I love both. If you want to do a make ahead special dish for the vegetarian though, lasagne fits the bill. I love butternut lasagne, but my recipe has tomato sauce and spinach in it too. I find that helps me with the overly starchy theme of butternut lasagne. I posted a link to my recipe below, which comes from Cooking Light Magazine. Oh, and BTW we don't make our own "smoky marinara sauce" we just use whatever jarred sauce we happen to have on hand and like. Sub smoked mozzarella or provolone or throw some chopped fake sausage into the filling if you want the smoky flavor part. Adding fake sausage to the filling also ups the protein to starch ratio.

Oh, and I wouldn't fuss with homeade vegetable stock. I've never made any that I liked. I use "Better Than Bouillon" brand when I need a strong flavored stock, and Rapunzel brand or whatever kind of powdered stuff I can find when I need something bland. For Thanksgiving I'd recommend the hearty stuff!

As for stuffing, I searched and searched last year for one without sage and something that was relatively healthy. I made and loved the one below from Bobby Flay. I actually used turkey sausage for the chorizo, but you can find fake chorizo or fake italian sausage to use which would be fine. I like the mix of feta, wild rice and bread, it has a slightly larger protein to starch ratio than standard stuffing and a pleasant texture. The fussy eaters in my family liked this and it also baked up nice and moist, something I can't say for most of my attempts at Thanksgiving stuffing.

Wild Rice and Goat Cheese Dressing
Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay
2 cups wild rice
6 cups water
3/4 pound Spanish-style chorizo, diced (Oh for Heaven's sake this is over the top. Just use whatever fake sausage or meat crumble stuff you can find in the grocery. Of course spicy is good, but if you can't find spicy, just add some additional spices to the dressing. We love Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb spice.)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
1 cup Spanish onion, diced (Yellow or red would be fine here)
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 (day-old) loaf country-style bread, cubed (use whole wheat if possible)
2 to 4 cups homemade chicken stock (use vegetable stock, I like "Better Than Bouillon.")
12 ounces goat cheese (or low fat feta. This is a lot, so feel free to use less to your taste, I did.)
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine the rice, water and 1 tablespoon of salt in a large saucepan, bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the grains open all the way, about 1 hour, 15 minutes to 1 hour, 30 minutes. The rice should be very cooked (not even the slightest chewy). Drain well, place in a large bowl and set aside.
Heat the butter in a large high-sided saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo, onions, carrots and celery and cook until soft. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Add the onion mixture, bread, goat cheese, parsley and 2 cups of the chicken stock to the rice. Mix to combine. The mixture should be quite wet; add more stock, if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer the mixture to a large buttered baking dish and bake, uncovered, until heated through and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Another option is to make stuffed acorn squash, especially good if you make the squash ahead. Or some other type of squash. I can't hardly get good acorn squash anymore at the grocery store. They sell beautiful delicata sometimes.

Here's my vegetarian gravy recipe. I like it better than a mushroomy one. I little of that "unami" flavor goes a long way with me and it seems to overpower Thanksgiving, which is why I like this gravy.

Red Wine Gravy (this isn't for everyone, they will either love it or hate it, so have a standard option too!)
2 TBLSP olive oil
1 med. onion
1 med. carrot
1 small stalk celery
2 TBLSP flour
2 med. ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup veg. stock or water
Salt and freshly gound pepper

Heat oil and saute veggies, although using all or some of those veggies other than onions is optional. Add flour and cook until it is browned and looses the raw taste. Add chopped tomatoes or can use canned ones. Add liquids. Bring to a boil, then simmer until thick.

And honestly, call me crazy but as a vegetarain I would LOVE some baked beans or bean salad to counter all the wheat and potato and rice starches. I have a good three bean salad and also a good blackeyed peas salad that is a riff on hoppin' john that would make innocuous if very non-traditional sides for a Thanksgiving meal. But I would not sweat it and make it unless the person is a strict vegetarian. I just go with the flow which is what most vegetarians wouuld like to do. Most don't need or want special dishes made for them but some appreciate being able to bring their own dish if they have particular concerns about some of the foods (like if they are vegans or if they are gluten intolerant, have diabetes, whatever). I know one thing, most mature vegetarians do not want their food choices to be an issue during this time of year, anymore than someone with heart disease or diabetes or gluten intolerance or whatever does. Some vegetarians can be rude by making it an issue, but the pendulum swings both ways.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cooking Light Butternut Squash Lasagne.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 12:18PM
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Teresa, that looks tasty and interesting. I will add it to the suggestion list. I am hoping to provide something that serves up some protein to these pale little girls. ;)

I will reference our gathering last year which was our first get together in my friend's new home in Hollywood. Prior to her move we gathered at her home here several years in a row. My two women friends were very newly single when we began having Thanksgiving together. Our children have all known each other since they were very small. We are in the process of creating new traditions that are inclusive, accommodating, and loving.

With six of the eight children between we three moms being in the vicinity of Southern California for school, it made sense for us to meet in Hollywood. I am the more experienced (or at least the most interested) cook among us so I took charge of the menu and a lot of the cooking. My friend who hosted us all invited her childhood friends and their daughters (the vegetarians) to join us. Daniel was the only young man in the bunch. He was a very good sport. Frankly, he looked pretty pleased to me.

If you scroll down to the bottom of the link, I posted about our gathering last year. I don't know if the same people will be present or not. One mom has a new job as a flight attendant and her schedule suddenly changes. One of the daughters is planning to move to Hawaii soon. And there may be new friends who are included. It will all be fine.


Here is a link that might be useful: Thanksgiving 2011

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 12:43PM
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I don't expect others to accommodate me, and in most cases I wouldn't want to. The vegan/vegetarian diets are so far from what is mainstream that I've found most meat eaters don't have a clue how to prepare vegetables, much less a vegetable based dish. An "I made something special for you" can be a pretty scary thing- and usually means me politely choking down gray veggies and declaring them the best I ever had. The people on this forum, however, seem to know their stuff and probably cook me under the table any day. But for the most part, I eat beforehand or bring my own food, and dread and avoid at all costs having to answer the question, "so what made you become vegetarian?" ANYWAYS, Mmmmm apple pecan stuffing.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 1:09PM
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My long winded post was added before I read Laurie's post. I prefer to stay away from ersatz meat products so I wouldn't sub, just omit. I do like the idea of wild rice. I want contrasting stuffings. I love feta.

I am leaning toward the butternut lasagna with ricotta but I want a bechamel vs a tomato sauce. Tomato sauce and turkey have never worked for me. I also really like the idea of the spinach ricotta crepes or butternut ricotta crepes. I can do both of these ahead to a great degree. I will be transporting food to the location unless I decide to go down a few days early.

I try to avoid sodium so I stay away from the "Better Than" products though I agree, they do a decent job. I want to try my hand at some vegetable stock and I have time.

Your gravy sounds good. What's not to love with red wine in it! It might be just the thing as one very vocal participant makes a big deal about hating mushrooms. I'll make it ahead and test it. I have some tasty juice from the tomatoes I used to make salsa. I saved the tomato goo, strained the seeds and cooked it down to a concentrate. I think I will use that instead of the chopped tomatoes in the gravy.

I'm not a bean eater but adding some kind of bean dish should be easy enough. Or lentils.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 1:14PM
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If you look at the plates in front of the young people, you'll see they were all well filled.

I just want to offer a vegetarian stuffing, I will make two anyway, a vegetarian gravy, which can be made ahead along with the other gravy. And vegetarian entree/side dish that will have general appeal.

Not everything will appeal to everyone and that is not my goal. And that's okay as long as everyone finds something to like.

I also encourage anyone to bring a personal family favorite if it isn't Thanksgiving for them without it. So one friend makes a raspberry jello molded dish. I politely take a small portion. :)


    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 1:35PM
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Man oh man, if someone made me butternut lasagne or butternut crepes for Thanksgiving or any other day, I would be OVER THE MOON! I love all things squash! Crepes apparently are good candidates for freezing. You should post the recipe Eileen, I would like to try and make them for a special dinner. Actually I might be able to improvise, since I'll bet butternut crepes have similar ingredients to butternut squash lasagne. My most recent attempt at formed dough (pumpkin ravioli) was a dismal failure. I served them, such as they were (kinda like "ravioli deconstructed") with a browned butter/fresh sage sauce. Oddly, the prolific sage growing in my garden does not seem to have much taste. And come to think of it, I have some sage pesto languishing in my freezer that might make a good add-in to some butternut crepes. Crepes are dead easy to make, even for this dough challenged girl.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 2:00PM
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This recipe intrigued me:

Candle 79 Chickpea Crepes (page 130)

1 cup soymilk
1/2 cup chickpea flour
2 tablespoons potato starch (book calls for arrowroot powder)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried chives (or fresh if you have them around)
makes 5 crepes


3 shallots
6 gigantic Brussels sprouts
1 cup roasted butternut squash
S and P

Lemon Garlic Aioli

1 heaping tablespoon Veganaise
The juice of 1/2 of a lemon
Garlic powder
S and P

Slice the shallots and saute in olive oil. Let them cook on medium flame and prepare the rest of the meal. Slice the bottom off of the Brussels sprouts and then shred them by slicing them thinly across. When the shallots are soft and translucent, add the Brussels sprouts. When they start looking bright green, add the squash so it can heat up. Season with salt and pepper.

Make the aioli by mixing all of the ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Combine all of the ingredients for the crepes in a blender. Brush a non-stick skillet with olive oil and heat it up. Pour the batter into a 1/4 cup measure cup and pour onto the hot pan. Quickly lift the pan off of the heat and tip it around to spread out the batter. Return to the heat and cook until the edges become brown. Using a spatula, flip the crepe over and cook for about 1 minute. Do the same for all of the batter.

Lay the crepe on a plate, fill with the filling, top with the aioli, and enjoy!

And this looks amazing. Substituting vegetable stock of course:

Pasticciata di Zucca e Crespelle

This dish is a seven-layer wonder of crepes, roasted butternut squash, goat cheese, ricotta, and bechamel. "This last baked 'pasta' is unique because it uses crepes instead of pasta to build the layers," says chef Dan Swinney.

Serves 6

20-30 Crepes (recipe follows)
2 butternut squash (3 lb.)
1 tbsp. butter, softened
1⁄2 cup melted butter
12 oz. ricotta cheese
12 oz. goat cheese
2-3 large eggs, beaten
3 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 qt. bechamel sauce
Sage Butter (recipe follows)


2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1⁄2 cup club soda
1⁄4 tsp. salt
2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. butter, melted
Oil, for frying

Sage Butter:

4 oz. unsalted butter, cut up 8 fresh sage leaves
12 oz. chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Prepare crepes up to 24 hours in advance.

2. Peel and seed squash; cut into long slices about 1⁄4-in. thick. Brush a sheet pan with melted butter and lay squash slices on top; season and brush with more melted butter.

3. Roast squash in a 375 F. oven until tender and beginning to caramelize, about 20-30 min.; cool. Roughly mash squash pulp; drain overnight.

4. Drain ricotta in strainer overnight in the refrigerator.

5. To assemble: Prepare bechamel sauce. Combine ricotta, goat cheese, and eggs. Stir in 1 cup grated Parmigiano -Reggiano; season with salt and pepper and mix well.

6. Grease sides of 9x13-in. non-metal baking dish with softened butter. Arrange crepes, side by side, slightly overlapping, to cover sides of baking dish and overhang by 2 in. Cover bottom of dish with more crepes in one layer.

7. Preheat oven to 400 F. Reserve 1 cup bechamel and 1 cup Parmigiano for topping. Spread about 1⁄3 cup remaining bechamel over bottom layer of crepes; top with some squash and sprinkle with 1⁄4 cup Parmigiano. Continue layering crepes, 1⁄3 cup bechamel, half the ricotta-goat cheese mixture, and 1⁄4 cup Parmigiano. Build two more layers identical to first two. Fold overhanging crepes over top layer; press lightly. Cover remaining filling with crepes. Top with reserved bechamel and Parmigiano.

8. Cover loosely with foil; prick foil so steam can escape. Bake pasticciata 30 min; remove foil and bake 20-30 min. longer, until browned. Let stand 15-30 min. Cut in squares and drizzle with sage butter.

Whisk eggs until blended. Add milk, water, club soda, and salt; stir to blend. Sift flour into liquid; stir until smooth. Stir in the melted butter. Pour into oiled crepe pan and cook.

Sage Butter:
Heat butter in a 12-in. saute pan. Add sage leaves and saute 2-3 min. Add stock and cook until sauce is emulsified and reduced by 1/3. Season.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 2:37PM
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There's a big, big difference between expecting someone to change their menu and being appreciative when they are willing to make adjustments or ask about preferences. I would never expect a customized menu unless I was paying for it. Nor would I turn down an invitation to someone's home, no matter the menu. It won't kill me to miss a meal! And I would absolutely rather not eat than to make my hostess uncomfortable. If they didn't know i'm a vegetarian and I can't eat anything, I don't say a word. I usually let them know though and it's not because I expect a special meal but rather because in their spot, I would definitely want to know if one of my guests had any dietary restrictions.

My problem is when people assume it's just a picky eating thing. I have not knowingly eaten meat since I was 16. It's an ethical and moral issue for me. I couldn't eat an animal any more than I could murder a person. Those are my beliefs - I don't expect anyone else to share them, and most don't and that's okay. But to suggest it's just picky eating since there's no medical reason behind it is insulting. I have had to deal with all sorts of things because of my beliefs, from well-intentioned people grilling me about my choices to people secretly adding meat products to my food and saying I'll never know the difference. I've had to sit out catered lunches at work and turn down invitations to certain restaurants. I have to usually bring my own meals everywhere. And I'm okay with it because it's MY belief and I don't expect anyone to accommodate me. But in no way is it the same as waking up one day and deciding you don't like chicken nuggets and demanding no chicken nuggets ever be in your presence and no one ever serve chicken nuggets ever.

It's such a part of my moral beliefs that I compare it to people who avoid certain foods because of their religion. To me, it's exactly the same. It's a belief that goes far beyond a singular dinner menu.

And, lb, if you'd ever like to compare diets with me, I'd be happy to see whose is the healthiest. :) I don't supplement except for Vitamin D because I don't like too much sun, and my blood work is always perfect. I'd argue my diet is healthier than the vast majority of people.

Sorry for the misdirection of this thread but it's hard to SOB things like this. I do so appreciate everyone in this thread who is willing to accommodate everyone, no matter their reasons.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 3:03PM
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Oh, and Barnmom, I've never actually had a savory crepe! Just dessert ones but I'd love to try one. I would be thrilled if someone made me vegetarian crepes!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 3:08PM
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Thank you all for your comments on the apple-pecan stuffing. I found it in the Los Angeles Times food section maybe 10 years ago & make it at times when not having a vegetarian over for a meal. :) It's very flavorful & easy to make.

Annie, you are right: "pescatarian, occasionally used to describe those who abstain from eating all meat and animal flesh with the exception of fish."
Thanks for that - I could not think of it.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 6:31PM
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In my many years of cooking for friends, from one to over a hundred, I have never been "lectured" by a vegetarian. I have never been told "I am a vegetarian" and I don't remember ever it was a topic of conversation why vegetartian is healthier or not healthy.

Many times, I have people bring some of their own food to my parties.

The fact that I don't have a habit of cooking with cream, butter or fat makes it easier, and I enjoy vegetables a lot.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 9:09AM
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What if I made a butternut squash gratin and put the Apple-Pecan stuffing on top? Any opinions on this combination?


    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 9:22AM
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Teresa, that sounds delicious to me.

I sent off my initial email. The flight attendant may have to work as I suspected so I doubt her girls would come if she did not. The hostess is not a cook to speak of and is a hardcore carnivore. She was baffled at the vegetarian suggestions having not noticed the two vegetarians last year. They were very quiet about it. I only knew because I was told by my children. I have not heard from the mom of the vegetarians.

I'll post back.

In the meantime this blog has a nice list of Thanksgiving vegetarian recipes. There is also a link to seasonal vegan recipes. I am eyeing the yeast raised cornbread to make for my stuffing.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 10:04AM
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Thanks for posting those recipes Barnmom, and everyone else too. Lots of GREAT recipes here for me, for many meals other than just Thanksgiving!

I'm not a big fake meat fan either Eileen, but I do sometimes add it to some dishes for the flavoring. Not sure what you could sub in the dressing for chorizo though, you'd need something chewy and very spicy. One option might be some chile spiced nuts. Not something super burn your mouth hot but something "picante." I used spicy italian turkey sausage because chorizo was unnecessarily expensive and fatty IMHO, but you definately need something to give it a spicy kick and balance the feta. I once made a different wild rice stuffing that called for a cheese sauce and it was just too rich and cloying for my taste. Smoked almonds might also work. Maybe smoked almonds and a healthy dash of some picante italian or cajun seasonings.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 11:44AM
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Teresa, what a great idea to combine the squash with the apple dressing. Yum.

Barnmom, you sure have some great vegetarian ideas now. I'm copying & pasting some of them. :)

Let us know how it all goes.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 3:16PM
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I am a vegetarian. I cook Thanksgiving at my home for family. I have Christmas at son and DIL house. I enjoy my meal, eating everything except the turkey and ham. Their is always plenty to fill up on with veggies, rolls, dessert. I would never expect someone to cook special for me. I always come away stuffed, and very happy.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 7:44PM
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I never cook something special for my family and friends because they expect it, I do it because I love them and cooking for them is a way that I show how important they are to me.

Plus, I really like to cook and I like to experiment and try new things, so I often get a chance to "expand my food horizons". If I close my mind to an entire type of food, or region or country or religion, etc., just think of all the good food I'd be missing out on. As Carol/Dishesdone taught me, Happy Everything to Everybody. That includes vegetarians, vegans, lactose and gluten intolerant people and those who just don't like Jello. Oh, shoot. That's me!

I also don't think two dressings is all that unusual. My family likes that moist onion/celery/sage/white bread stuffing, it's got to cook inside the turkey and has to be so moist it's almost gloppy. Elery likes cornbread stuffing, it's what he's grown up on. Much drier and not cooked inside the bird, and it as completely foreign to my family. This year I want to try oysters in the stuffing, like Seagrass explained to me last year. I know there are several who won't like the idea of that at all, including my Mother, who refuses to eat oysters.

Teresa, the combo of squash and dressing sounds delicious to me too.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 9:26PM
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I cook for the others in the same spirit as Annie. I also enjoy the process.

As for oysters in the stuffing, my grandmother loved them but rarely made oyster stuffing. I think the rest of us were less impressed. I was small.

I appreciate everyone's help moving me past the casserole dish of mac and cheese. Though, in all honesty, this group probably would have thought it was fine. It was suggested by one person to me that I ask the vegetarians to bring their own food which I would never do. I do know a long time vegan with whom I have dined who simply brings his own food wherever he goes.

I still haven't heard from the vegetarians. Perhaps they won't be attending after all.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 8:09AM
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I was also going to post a butternut squash lasagne recipe. Very good, and quite "thanksgiving-like!" I would also make sure the green salad is very hearty and no meat.

When my father was vegetarian I included roasted root vegetables and a mushroom strudel at one of our thanksgivings. Both were a big hit with the harnivors and herbivores!

Moosewood Cookbook Mushroom Strudel
1 lb mushrooms, sliced or chopped
1 cup (8 oz) cream cheese or cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream and/or yogurt
1 tsp salt
lots of black pepper
1 tsp dill
1 cup good breadcrumbs
2 scallions, finely minced (whites & greens)
1/4 cup (packed) minced parsley
3 Tbsp lemon juice
10-15 sheets filo pastry
3-4 Tbsp butter or olive oil, or a mix
Optional poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 375'F

Place the mushrooms in a saucepan, and cook them over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Drain them, squeezing out excess liquid, and transfer them to a medium-sized bowl. (You can save the liquid for a great soup stock.) Add cream cheese, cut into small pieces, or cottage cheese to the hot mushrooms. Mix well. Stir in the next 8 ingredients.

To Assemble: Place one sheet of filo on a clean, dry countertop. Brush the top with melted butter or very lightly with oil, then add another sheet. Brush with oil, then add another. Continue until you have a pile of 5 sheets (don't brush the last sheet with butter). Add a fourth to a half of the filling (depending on the size of the filo sheets), fold in the sides, and gently roll until you have a neat little log. brush the top with more oil, then carefully lift the pastry and place it of the baking tray. Repeat this procedure until all the filling is used, and place the logs next to the first one on the tray. Sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired.

Bake 25-30 minutes, until golden and crisp. Cut with a serrated knife. Serve hot.

(and just for grins, here's the butternut squash recipe I've used)
Butternut Squash Lasagna

For squash filling
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 cup hazelnuts (4 oz), toasted, loose skins rubbed off with a kitchen towel, and coarsely chopped

For sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups milk
1 bay leaf (not California)
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

For assembling lasagne
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, coarsely grated (2 cups)
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3 oz)
12 (7- by 3 1/2-inch) sheets no-boil lasagne (1/2 lb

Make filling:
Cook onion in butter in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add squash, garlic, salt, and white pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is just tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, sage, and nuts. Cool filling.

Make sauce while squash cooks:
Cook garlic in butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, 1 minute. Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add milk in a stream, whisking. Add bay leaf and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 10 minutes. Whisk in salt and white pepper and remove from heat. Discard bay leaf. (Cover surface of sauce with wax paper if not using immediately.)

Assemble lasagne:
Preheat oven to 425�F.
Toss cheeses together. Spread 1/2 cup sauce in a buttered 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass baking dish (or other shallow 3-quart baking dish) and cover with 3 pasta sheets, leaving spaces between sheets. Spread with 2/3 cup sauce and one third of filling, then sprinkle with a heaping 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat layering 2 more times, beginning with pasta sheets and ending with cheese. Top with remaining 3 pasta sheets, remaining sauce, and remaining cheese.
Tightly cover baking dish with buttered foil and bake lasagne in middle of oven 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until golden and bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let lasagne stand 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Cooks' note:
Filling and sauce can be made 1 day ahead and kept separately, covered and chilled. Bring to room temperature before assembling.
Makes 6 servings

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 9:17AM
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Forgot to mention, the butternut lasagne recipe above has a bechamel, not a tomato sauce, and was VERY YUMMY. Jface>

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 10:50AM
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When I was a vegetarian I met some who didn't eat anything dairy so no mac and cheese. I use to make a nut loaf. It was very good and we didn't miss the turkey. You can use creamy tofu or non-dairy cheese and egg subtitutes if they don't eat those. It can be made ahead of time and even frozen.

Vegetarian Nut Loaf
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Serves about 8

What You Need
9 inch loaf pan
1 1/2 cups walnuts
1/2 cup cashews
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
3 ounces shiitake mushrooms
3 ounces baby bella mushrooms
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
4 large eggs
12 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
1 cup cottage cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

What To Do

1 If you don't have leftover cooked rice on hand, cook the brown rice according to the package instructions (we combined 1 cup short grain brown rice with 2 cups water, brought to a boil, and simmered for 50 minutes).

2 Preheat the oven to 375F.

3 Place 1 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/2 cup cashews on a baking sheet and toast for about 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow to cool.

4 Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and mince the 3 cloves garlic. Clean and finely chop the mushrooms. Finely chop the 2 tablespoons fresh parsley. When the nuts have cooled, finely chop them with a knife or in a food processor.

5 In a saute pan, heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, 1 teaspoon marjoram, 1 teaspoon thyme, and 1 teaspoon sage. Cook about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are golden. Transfer to a large bowl.

6 In a small bowl, lightly beat together 4 eggs.

7 In the large bowl, combine the onion and mushroom mixture with the toasted walnuts and cashews, parsley, 1 1/2 cups cooked rice, 1 cup cottage cheese, 12 ounces Swiss cheese, beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.

8 Butter a 9 inch loaf pan, line bottom with parchment paper, and butter it again. Pour the mixture from the large bowl into the pan.

9 Bake 1 hour until golden brown. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes, then invert loaf and remove from pan. Serve warm.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 1:04PM
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I've used the epicurious recipe I linked to make vegetarian stock for special dishes for veggie friends. It is delicious! It is kind of a pain, but well worth it for a special occasion IMO. It is AWESOME as a base for vegetarian tortilla soup.

Here is a link that might be useful: Roasted Vegetable Stock

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 8:09AM
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beachlily z9a

mabeling, that recipe looks really good! I don't eat much meat, and haven't been happy with boxed veggie stock. I'm going to try this one!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 8:18AM
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Beachlily, I think you'll love it. I've subbed baby portabello mushrooms when I can't find the others, BTW.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 4:51PM
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I thought I'd pipe in, too, since I have been vegetarian for 15 years and always host Thanksgiving. I can only speak for myself, but I would rather not have pasta dishes at a holiday. when you're vegetarian, sometimes that's your only choice at restaurants and it gets old fast. For Thanksgiving, I always serve Baked acorn squash stuffed with wild rice, cranberries and walnuts. I have added hickory baked tofu for myself and my daughters too, who are vegetarian but totally unnecessary and it will appeal to everyone w/o the tofu. The recipe came from Diane Morgan's "Thanksgiving" cookbook. Here's the recipe link

For the record, I am happily married to a carnivore and he also cooks a turkey for all the meat-eaters. Our table is well represented with veg. stuffing and sausage stuffing, veg gravy and giblet gravy as well as an assortment of 8-10 vegetables as well as the two in the fridge that I always seem to forget to put out.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 10:27PM
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aekekk, we must be related. I ALWAYS forget the sweet potatoes which are in the oven, or something that's being reheated in the microwave, often both things. It's tradition!


    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 11:16PM
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The recipes are wonderful and I appreciate the feedback from vegetarians.

I am curious about the bias against California bay leaves. I have lots. They volunteer in my flower beds. I live in California.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 11:36PM
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I could become a vegetarian if I had baked acorn squash
available 24/7....YUMMMMM.
Next to chocolate ice cream, there is no better food
on this planet.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 3:59PM
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Since the Thanksgiving is looming I thought I'd bring this thread back up. There are so many good recipes here.

It appears I will do nearly all of the cooking there and not do much prep here. I will take a few things with me but not much as I will travel by train. Last year I went by car with a friend and loaded up her trunk with a lot of things. So I will arrive there on Monday night and will shop and have the kitchen to myself on Tuesday. I will have help on Wednesday and Thursday.

So now to decide on the final menu. The butternut lasagna sounded really good to my hostess. So that may be decided.


    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 10:10AM
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Today I made a delicious vegetarian mushroom gravy. I will stash it in the freezer for Thanksgiving Day.


    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 9:41PM
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Ah yes, it's coming up and I haven't made a single plan. Not that I need to, it'll be the same as it has been every year, so I've done it for 30 years or so without fail, I think I could do it semi-conscious!

Well, at least I get to play around with the desserts, as long as I have pumpkin pie.


    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 10:07PM
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Today I received an invitation to have dinner at a friend's house where I wouldn't have to do anything but show up with wine or something. Boy, was that tempting!


    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 10:32PM
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I found some tasty vegan low sodium vegetable bouillon cubes in the natural foods section of my local grocery store. I think they are pretty darn good. I also bought some Kitchen Basics unsalted vegetable stock. It was a very pretty color but the flavor was murky. I think the cubes I bought are much better.

Kitchen Basics is the brand I usually purchase for chicken stock if I don't have any of my own on hand.

These cubes will be handy as I can toss them in my suitcase in case I need them.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 12:52PM
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I think I have decided on the vegetarian entree. I love the sound of Linda's butternut squash lasagna but I have all of this pumpkin puree so I went looking for a pumpkin lasagna. This one also includes Swiss chard. I'm thinking I might skip the green beans every pushes around on their plate because stuffing and mashed potatoes are more appealing. I'll add more chard to the dish as one review mentions it could use more. I will also add some rosemary as that sounds like a tasty addition.

Pumpkin Lasagna with Ricotta and Swiss Chard

1 pound lasagna noodles
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for tossing
1 onion, finely chopped
2 pounds Swiss chard, stems discarded and leaves chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 15-ounce cans pumpkin puree
1/4 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 cups fresh ricotta (32ounces)
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (about 6 ounces)
2 cups shredded imported Fontina cheese (about 8 ounces)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the
lasagna noodles until just starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Drain well and
transfer the noodles to a baking sheet. Toss the noodles with olive oil to
prevent them from sticking together.

2. In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and
cook over moderately low heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the Swiss
chard and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until wilted and no
more liquid remains, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until
fragrant, about 1 minute. Season the chard with salt and pepper. Transfer to a
plate and let cool slightly.

3. In a medium bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, nutmeg
and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, mix the ricotta
with the eggs, 1 1/2 cups of the Parmigiano, 1 cup of the fontina and 1 1/2
teaspoons of salt.

4. In a well-buttered, 9x13 inch ceramic baking dish, spoon 1/2 cup of the
pumpkin mixture in an even layer. Arrange 3 or 4 lasagna noodles in the dish,
overlapping them slightly. Spread half of the remaining pumpkin mixture
over the noodles in an even layer. Top with half of the Swiss chard and
another layer of noodles. Cover with half of the ricotta mixture. Repeat the
layering with lasagna noodles, pumpkin, Swiss chard, another layer of noodles
and finish with the ricotta mixture.

5. Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for about 40 minutes, until heated
through and slightly firm. Remove from the oven and uncover. Preheat the
broiler. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmigiano and 1 cup of fontina on
top of the lasagna and broil about 4 inches from the heat until golden brown
and crisp on top, about 4 minutes. Let the lasagna rest for 15 minutes, then cut
into squares and serve.

MAKE AHEAD The unbaked lasagna can be refrigerated overnight. Let
return to room temperature before baking.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 1:08PM
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I can tell you that we had squash ricotta cheese spinach pasta last weekend for dinner (with all those tastes, to some degree) and it was fab!! (Of course I added some crumbled bacon, so I dunno, I would definately think about seeking out one of the smoked cheeses, they really are great with the squashes.) I also made the recipe Bizzo posted for a dinner party and it was superb!! The only difference was I used up a bit of smoked mozzarella, which is why I am so gungho on these cheeses. But totally not necessary, over the top foodie stuff, they are great on their own. I'm just amazed that my local Weis carries a whole bunch of smoked cheese varieties. Prior to that I had only seen the mozzarella. It matters little since I have to stay away from cheese most of the time and can't afford the high end types. But for an occasional splurge it can be fun. Fontina is another cheese I love but hardly ever get to enjoy!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 1:25PM
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I like the idea of some smoked cheese. Thanks!


    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 1:49PM
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