Hosting Parties for Carnivorous Friends

This past weekend, Quintan and I hosted our very first Easter family dinner. Out of the seven of us (me, my mom and dad, Quintan, his mom and dad and sister) I am the only one who obstains from meat and dairy. This can be a bit tricky when trying to plan a menu that everyone will enjoy, but will also give me yummy options as well. I let Quintan tackle the honey-glazed ham (which everyone agreed was delicious – go ask him for the recipe!) while I took on the vegetables and dessert. Bonus – everything on this menu is gluten free for you celiacs!

At most dinner functions I attend, I am typically limited to vegetable side dishes, so I wanted to make sure these veggies friggin’ rocked. I opted to go for roasted potatoes over mashed, since mashed potatoes typically contain a lot of milk, butter, sour cream, etc. I also made a spinach apple salad with a spicy balsamic maple vinaigrette, and orange-glazed carrots.

For dessert, I attempted a raw, vegan “cheesecake”, which I must say turned out fabulous. I also pumped out a delicious batch of chocolate peanut butter brownies with tofu frosting and mini eggs. While making dessert I realised how versatile plant-based meal planning can be. For instance, a lot of plant based food is ad-lib – I could throw in some mini eggs on one end of the brownie pan for my guests, while leaving the other end mini egg-free  for myself. It was so easy to accomodate my guests’ traditional ideas of an Easter dessert while still giving them a taste of plant-based cuisine. Everyone LOVED the whole meal – such a great success! See below for recipes:

 

Roasted Potatoes

  • mini red potatoes
  • thyme
  • oregano
  • olive oil
  • Montreal Steak Spice

(No quantities given – it all depends on your taste and the size of your meal. Experiment!)

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchement paper
  2. Wash mini potatoes and cut in half lengthwise. Place in medium to large bowl.
  3. Add olive oil (usually around 2 tablespoons). Add thyme, oregano, and steak spice to suite your tastes. You could also add in lemon juice and garlic as a variation. Toss potatoes to coat.
  4. Turn out potatoes onto baking sheet, making sure to spread out evenly. The potatoes should be in a single layer.
  5. Roast potatoes on middle oven rack for 15 minutes, then flip. Roast for another 15 minutes or until preferred doneness. (After 30 minutes of cooking the potatoes will be cooked through, but some prefer their potatoes darker and crispier).

 

Orange-Glazed Carrots

  • 3 pounds of mini carrots (will feed a crowd of 7)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice concentrate
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  1. Place carrots in a saucepan and fill with water (enough to just cover carrots).
  2. Bring carrots to a boil and then down to a simmer. Simmer carrots for approximately 10 minutes, until fork tender. Drain carrots and return to stovetop. Add orange juice, maple syrup, and olive oil. Simmer for 5 minutes.

 

Spinach Apple Salad

  • 1 bunch of spinach (will feed 7)
  • 2 apples (preferable Gala or Granny Smith)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp sriracha (or to your taste – can substitute mustard if you don’t like spice)
  • Walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pepitas
  1. Wash, dry, and trim spinach stems. Place in a large bowl
  2. Wash and cut apples into long, thin strips. Add to spinach.
  3. To make the dressing, combine oil, vinegar, maple, and sriracha.
  4. Serve salad with dressing and an assortment of nuts for topping.
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Roast potatoes, orange-glazed carrots, and spinach apple salad

 

Lemon Lavender “Cheesecake”

  • 1 cup raisins or pitted dates (or a combination)
  • 1 cup of almonds or walnuts (or a combination)
  • 3 cups cashews (soaked for 4 hours or overnight)
  • juice of 3 lemons (approximately 3/4 cup)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil or bland vegetable oil such as canola
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp dried lavender buds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. To make the crust, combine dried fruit and nuts in a food processor or good blender until combined. The consistency should be such that you can squish them between your fingers and all the ingredients stay together.
  2. Line an 8 inch baking pan with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Press crust into the bottom of the pan until evenly distributed. Place in fridge while you work on the filling.
  3. Put the rest of the indredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until very smooth. Transfer this mixture to the cake pan and spread evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer until set – approximately 4 hours.
  4. Leave cake at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

(Note: I made candied lemon rinds to decorate the cake. You can reserve one of the rinds from the lemons used in the filling to make the curls. Just make sure you scrape off all the pith from inside the rind, and cut the rind into long, thin strips. Combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over medium low heat. Simmer the rinds for 10 minutes, then remove them and place on a cooling rack until they have cooled enough to handle. Wrap them around a straw and leave on parchment paper for around 12 hours until hardened. They are yummy!)

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Lemon Lavender “Cheesecake”

 

All-Natural Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies with Vegan Frosting

Brownies

  • 1 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 organic, free range egg
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • mini eggs (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. Whisk together all the wet ingredients, and then stir in the dry ingredients.
  3. Pour batter into a 9 inch pan that is lined with parchment paper. Press mini eggs down into batter.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool in pan. Top with frosting and mini eggs.

Frosting:

  • 4 ounces (half a package) of toffuti (or soft tofu)
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Beat the toffuti until light and fluffy with an electric mixer.
  2. Sift in powdered sugar, a cup at a time, beating between additions.
  3. Sift in cocoa powder and add vanilla, and beat until combined.

(Note: You can replace granulated sugar with pure maple syrup in almost any baking recipe. The conversion in 3/4 cup maple syrup to every cup of sugar. Then reduce each liquid in the recipe by 2 tablespoons. Since syrup carmelizes faster than sugar, it is best to reduce the temperature to 325 F. Maple syrup is a natural, unprocessed sweetener that is far better for your health than consuming granulated sugar. Giver ‘er a try!)

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies with Tofu Frosting
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