My belated Christmas-dinner post… and some other fun stuff

Thanks to everyone who suggested recipes in response to my plea for ideas. We hosted dinner for the extended family on Christmas day, and I was pretty pumped to try out some new experiments on a group of unsuspecting victims. Er, guests. I ended up making three vegan dishes (two of which were gluten-free).

Of all the recipes submitted, I picked Ricki’s Sweet Potato, Quinoa, and Black Bean Bites. I liked how they are both gluten-free and vegan, and as well were low in sodium. Plus I knew I could serve them with my West-Indian Mango Chutney in a communal fashion, which is important for group dinners, I think. Just like Ricki, I omitted the caraway seeds and used fresh cilantro. I used toasted, smashed rice bread for the bread crumbs, and used a cookie cutter to get disc-shaped servings:

Ricki's Sweet Potato, Quinoa, and Black Bean Bites

I really liked these little bites and I think they went fantastically with my Jamaican souvenir (the jar of mango chutney).

I sort of guessed at the baking time, but 350 deg C for 15-20 mins seemed to do the trick. It might have been a bit too new-agey for a traditional family dinner, but everyone seemed like it… or at least they seemed to appreciate the effort I put in!

Sweet Potato, Quinoa, and Black Bean Bites

1 medium onion, diced
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, finely grated
1/2 can black beans, drained
1/2 a baked sweet potato, flesh scooped out
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked (that is, take 1/2 a cup dry quinoa, and cook it)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tbsp tomato paste or ketchup
hot sauce or cayenne pepper to taste
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute onion and garlic in non-stick skillet.
2. Add beans to pan and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring now and then.
3. Turn off heat. Mash beans in pan till they’re about half crushed. Put in big bowl with all the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. If too moist, add more bread crumbs.
4. Form into patties. Grill or bake.

We also made glazed carrots, corn, and braised brussel sprouts (all of which are also gluten-free):

glazed carrots


braised brussel sprouts

Braised Brussels Sprouts:

4 cups brussels sprouts
1/2 cup diced shallots
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
pinch of black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
2 tsp Braggs soy sauce
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup vegetable broth

Steam brussels sprouts for 10 minutes in boiling water. Set aside. Spray a little olive oil in a large non-stick and heat on medium heat. Saute the shallots and garic for 2 minutes. Add the steamed brussels sprouts and brown sugar and cook for 5 minutes, covered, on high heat. Add balsamic vinegar, black pepper, nutmeg, soy sauce. Cook or 5 minutes, uncovered, stirring frequently. Add the parsley and broth. Cook for 5 minutes more, uncovered. (per serving, 112 calories, 22 g carbohydrates, 8 g protein, 0 mg cholesterol, 170 mg sodium, 8.6 g fibre).

I also made The Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen’s Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping, but I forgot to take a picture! Which is too bad, because this recipe was all kinds of bitchin’, and it’s gluten-free to boot. It was really sweet and desserty but also a bit tangy because of the citrus juice.

You can see it in the picture below, above the corn but below the quinoa bites. In the top right corner is my aunt's delicious beet salad.

I also made, for dessert, a double batch of my favourite lemon-cranberry bread:

lemon-cranberry bread

Which accompanied another dessert item, fruit salad:

fruit salad & lemon-cranberry bread

So Christmas dinner was a huge success and it was great seeing friends and family again.

A couple of times in Jamaica last week, I ate a dish of sauteed spinach with raisins. I successfully recreated this simple recipe yesterday by sauteeing about 8 cups of spinach in broth with a handful of sultana raisins and one chopped red pepper. WIN.

sauteed spinach with raisins

With a couple extraneous mangoes burning a hole in my fruit basket, I made Indian Mango Curry Dressing, a recipe from a Raw cookbook I bought my sister for Christmas:

Indian Mango Curry Dressing

Indian Mango Curry Dressing:

1 medium (or 2 small) mangoes, pitted
1 tbsp yellow curry powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup cold-pressed olive oil from a dark bottle (I used half oil half water)

Blend until smooth. This dressing is a major WIN because it’s delicious and creamy! It’s nice to have a vegan dressing that’s not a vinaigrette.

Next, I wanted to make a big veggie-tofu-noodle dish to last me a couple days. I used this product that I found in my fridge. My mother bought it at a huge chinese grocery in north Toronto

The label reads: Tofu Shirataki. Spaghetti Shaped Noodle Substitute. No cholesterol, no sugar. Gluten-free. Vegan. Guilt-free. 20 calories , 3 g carbs, and 2g fibre per serving. 2 servings per bag.

Has anyone else heard of this product? I’m super skeptical about it. When I read “20 calories per serving”, I became pretty wary, especially since it came from Chinatown. But then I read on the label that it’s shipped from House Foods in California. California = legit? I don’t know. Help?

I cooked the "noodles" up and they looked and tasted exactly like ramen noodles! (seen here tossed with jerk seasoning). So what's the deal with these things? Anyone?

I had also been marinating some tofu in a ziplock bag with jerk seasoning paste (from jamaica) mixed with ketchup, so I fried those up. I also sauted some carrots, peppers, zucchini, celery, black beans, cilantro, and green onion with another dose of jerk paste + ketchup.

I wasn't really sure how to pull of this whole "jerk" thing, so I just added it to everything.

Et voila! Lunch for the week. Can anyone tell me if I cooked with jerk properly? I have never tried the flavour before, since it’s always used with meat dishes, but I think it’s a very tantalizing mixture of spices and I definitely want to cook jerk again.

22 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    VeggieGirl said,

    Um can you cater my next event, please??? I’M LOVING ALL THE FOOD!!!!! :-D

    Sounds like you cooked with the jerk seasoning properly, to me!!

  2. 2

    Ricki said,

    Maureen–What a spectacular spread!! Sooo much food, and it all looks fantastic. I love the way you cut out the sweet-potato/black bean bites–I think I’m going to have to do them that way next time (AND they look perfect–no crumbling!) ;) I’ve never heard of those tofu-noodle subs, but 20 calories does seem rather low. And I think you can use jerk seasoning for whatever you please, as long as you like it. . . I’ve heard of jerk tofu before, so it seems that worked well!

  3. 3

    Shelby said,

    I really like those black bean bites, I will try the recipe! And that lemon bread sounds fantastic! Can I come to your next get together?? ;)

  4. 4

    glidingcalm said,

    ahhh EVERYTHING looks so freaking good!!! i love the tofu and those pattie burgers! they look amazing!! oh and i adore shirataki noodles!!! they are a little smelly and “different”…but super cool for volume eaters!!!


  5. 5

    You brought all the awesome colorful food vibe from Jamaica! What a feast!

  6. 6

    I’ve had those noodles, but I’d be skeptical of that calorie count too. I didn’t even look at that when I ate them. I remember loving the taste (I adore ramen!) but they smelled funny to me in their raw form. The mystery smell disappeared when they were cooked.

  7. 7

    Andrea said,

    As usual, everything looks delicious. Nice variety of colors and textures. I’ve never seen those tofu noodles before but now I’m curious and will look for some at our Asian market.

  8. 8

    Don Tombs said,

    I had to reply as you are obviously mad about me!.
    Great recipes.
    Don Tombs CGFG

  9. 9

    anardana said,

    Yum!! Everything looks amazing. So much lovely carribean food to combat the cold and wet winter we’re having!

  10. 10

    jessy said,

    wow! look at all those tasty eats! very cool on the gluten free yummies! those bean bites look awesome! thanks for the recipe! the braised brussels look sooooo good – i’m gonna have to give your recipe a go! fo ‘sho! your plate is loaded with awesomeness! i’m really digging the beet salad, too – it looks so pretty!

    spinach and raisins sounds like a scrumptious combination – and your stir-fry is so colorful – the tofu looks perfectly cooked!

    glad you had a rock’n christmas this year! yay!

  11. 11

    Kristie said,

    My mouth was watering more and more the further I got through this post. Everything looks scrumptious.

    And I’m jealous of your shirataki noodle experience! I’ve always hoped that I’d stumble upon those one of these days but no luck yet!

  12. 12

    jealous. want all that. so bad. esp the “bites”

  13. 13

    shellyfish said,

    Wow- I’m no officially starving! I wish I could give you some feedback on the jerk thing, but I’m not really sure – but I’d love to have some!

  14. 14

    Liz² said,

    your little quinoa bites look seriously yummy! and I’m glad you tried the tofu noodles… I see them all the time but I’ve always been too… I dunno, I just haven’t tried them! and now I definitely have to, they sound awesome. mmmm ramen!

  15. 15

    oh my goodness you’ve got me hungry too! What a great spread.

  16. 16

    BitterSweet said,

    It all sounds amazing!

    I’ve had the shiratake noodles before- I like the “angel hair” type best, but I think that the other kinds have a weird taste. Maybe it’s just me though.

    Happy new year!

  17. 17

    Yum. Can I be invited to your house for the holiday meal next year?

  18. 18

    melisser said,

    Oh my, I wish I would have seen this sooner! I was totally looking for a gluten free patty of some sort for Christmas dinner!

  19. 19

    mihl said,

    All these plates look amazing! Happy New Year!

  20. 20

    Celine said,

    happy new year, and kudos for the amazing foods you’ve concocted here!

  21. 21

    Amira said,

    okay those sweet potato, quinoa and black bean bites look incredible, that is probably my three favorite foods melded into one, and I am currently obsessed with mango chutney so yeah! i am going to make these right now, i’m very excited

  22. 22

    Brittany said,

    Actually, I do know about the shirataki! Shirataki comes from konyaku, or “devils tongue” in English, which is made from some sort of sea tuber. It really does have that few calories, it’s a strange food! Konyaku comes in cake form as well, often in simmered Japenese dishes.

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