Week 5: Vegan Thyme Rolls & Vegan Bourbon Whiskey Caramelized Onion Dip – A Compassion is the Secret Ingredient Thanksgiving

Can you believe it’s already week 5, y’all? Let’s see… what are we missing?? A bread, an appetizer, and desserts, right? Well, this week I’m serving up the bread and the appetizer, and next week I will wrap this whole thing up with the desserts! But, back to this week…

I will admit that, for the longest time, I was deathly afraid of making any kind of bread. (What an odd thing to fear, am I right?!) I assumed it was far too complicated to make your own yeast-y beast but, after actually giving it a go one time, I found out that making bread is not so much complicated as it is simply a little time consuming. Homemade bread though, is so worth the time it takes to make and so, for our Thanksgiving feast, I knew that homemade rolls were a must. I began working on a recipe for rolls that would compliment the other flavors of the meal but be able to stand on its own should you want to eat it by itself. What I ended up with were these soft little rolls with a little dried thyme in them which makes them taste herbaceous and earthy.

The rolls get started the same way that most breads get started -with a yeast base! In a large bowl, some warm water gets combined with a packet of active dry yeast and a little agave. The mixture gets a good stir and then it’s left to rest until foamy -about 5 minutes. Next, almond milk, olive oil, vinegar, dried thyme, and salt are added and that all gets stirred together. The last things to be added are all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. The dough gets worked with a spatula until combined then you’re going to pick up the dough ball, drizzle a little olive oil into the bowl, then return the dough ball back to the bowl -this oiling of the bowl helps the dough not stick to the bowl as it rises. Pop the bowl with the dough into your microwave or cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for an hour.

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After an hour has passed, dump your dough out onto a floured surface and work, adding more flour as needed, until smooth -this should only take a minute or so. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut off a little chunk of the dough and roll it between your palms to form it into a ball that is roughly 1 1/2 inches big. Continue cutting off pieces of dough and forming it into little balls until no more unformed dough remains -you should end up with about 20-22 balls. Drizzle some olive oil over the dough balls, rubbing it around them if need be so that they are coated in it, then pop the dough balls onto a parchment lined sheet pan with just a little space left in between each. Place this pan into your microwave or cover with a kitchen towel and allow the dough balls to rise for an additional 30 minutes. (Told you, not so much complicated as it is time consuming!)

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After 30 minutes, transfer the sheet pan to a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the bottoms are just a little browner than that. Remove the rolls from the pan immediately so that they don’t continue to brown on the bottom. If making the rolls a day in advance, be sure to let them cool completely before transferring them to a storage container or bag.

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Vegan Thyme Rolls

  • Servings: 20-22 rolls
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (the “original” kind)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons agave
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + more for bowl and formed rolls
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme, crushed in palm of hand before using
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + more for board
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and agave together then let this mixture rest until foamy -about 5 minutes. Next, add the almond milk, olive oil, vinegar, dried thyme, and salt then stir to combine. Lastly, add in the all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour and work until dough ball forms. Pick up the dough ball, drizzle a little olive oil into the bowl, work some of the oil up onto the sides, then return the dough ball back to the bowl. Pop the bowl with the dough ball into your microwave, or cover with a kitchen towel, and let it rise for 1 hour.
  2. After 1 hour has passed, dump the dough ball out onto a floured surface and work, adding more flour as needed, until smooth -this should only take a minute or so. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut off a little chunk of dough and roll it between your palms to form it into a ball that is roughly 1 1/2 inches big. Continue cutting off pieces of dough and forming it into little balls until no more unformed dough remains -you should end up with about 20-22 balls.
  3. Drizzle some olive oil over the dough balls, rubbing it around them if need be so that they are coated in it, then place the dough balls onto a parchment lined sheet pan with just a little space left in between each. Put this pan into your microwave, or cover with a kitchen towel, and allow the dough balls to rise for an additional 30 minutes. You can get your oven preheated at this time to 400 degrees.
  4. After 30 minutes, transfer the pan to your preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the rolls from the pan immediately when done so that they don’t continue to brown on the bottom but be careful as they will be very hot. If making the rolls a day in advance, be sure to let them cool completely before transferring them to an airtight storage container. Rolls will keep in an airtight storage container at room temperature for up to 3 days.


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Okay, appetizer time! I have a rule about appetizers on Thanksgiving day and that is do not go crazy with them. Why? Because, while Thanksgiving is a food-centric holiday, it is not about the appetizers. The last thing you want to do is fill up on an appetizer smorgasbord and then not be able to fill up on the big meal or the desserts, right? So pick a single app or a couple of apps but no more than that.

One of my favorite go-to apps is something I like to call bourbon whiskey caramelized onion dip. If you’re only doing a single appetizer then I highly suggest it be this because, simply put, it is damn fine. Vegan “cream cheese” serves as a base for oodles of caramelized onion goodness with a hint of bourbon whiskey to it. Served with mini toasts, plain pita chips, or veggies, it is addictive and loved by all who try it -even people who don’t like booze or onions!

It all gets started with you cutting 2 large white onions into strips. Toss those strips into a large skillet (the bigger the better) with a little vegan “butter,” and some salt, and cook ’em for 10 minutes over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, add in a little brown sugar and some agave then continue to cook the onions until richly browned (aka caramelized) and super tender -about another 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the onions are done, turn off the heat and pour in a couple tablespoons of bourbon whiskey. With a long lighter, light the bourbon whiskey on fire and allow that to cook off completely. When the flame has fully extinguished itself, add a couple more tablespoons of bourbon whiskey and repeat the lighting/burning process a final time.

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When the final bit of bourbon whiskey has extinguished itself, carefully (cause they’re hot) scoop out the caramelized onions and transfer them to a cutting board. Finely chop the onions so that they are in much smaller pieces then set them aside for use in a minute.

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In the pan that you cooked the onions in, turn the heat back on and bring the pan back up to low-medium heat. Toss in some vegan “cream cheese” and stir, as best you can, the “cream cheese” around until it starts to melt. Add in the caramelized onions you chopped up a moment ago as well as some black pepper then stir to combine. Once thoroughly combined, turn the heat off and transfer your dip to a serving dish.

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Vegan Bourbon Whiskey Caramelized Onion Dip

  • Servings: 6-8
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 2 large white onions, cut into thin strips
  • 4 tablespoons vegan “butter”
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons agave
  • 4 tablespoons bourbon whiskey, to be added 2 tablespoons at a time
  • 2 1/2 (8-ounce) containers of vegan “cream cheese” (20 ounces in total)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Cut onions into thin strips if you haven’t done so already. Preheat a large skillet to low-medium heat. Add in “butter” and allow that to melt. Add in onions and salt, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, add in the brown sugar and the agave. Stir to combine then continue to cook the onions until richly browned (aka caramelized) and super tender -about another 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. When the onions are done, turn off the heat. With the heat off, pour in 2 tablespoons of bourbon whiskey. Using a long lighter, carefully light the bourbon whiskey on fire and allow that to cook off completely. When the flame has fully extinguished itself, add 2 more tablespoons of bourbon whiskey and repeat the lighting/burning process a final time. When the final bit of bourbon whiskey has extinguished itself, carefully (cause they’re hot) scoop out the caramelized onions and transfer them to a cutting board. Finely chop the onions so that they are in much smaller pieces then set them aside for use in a minute.
  3. In the pan that you cooked the onions in, turn the heat back on and bring the pan back up to low-medium heat. Toss in the “cream cheese” and stir, as best you can, it around until it starts to melt. Add in the caramelized onions you chopped up a moment ago and the black pepper then stir to combine. Once thoroughly combined, turn the heat off and transfer your dip to a serving dish. Serve immediately. Serve with mini toasts, plain pita chips, or veggies. Leftover dip will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.

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Vegan Bourbon Whiskey Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

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Here’s the 1st of 2 declarative statements in this post: I hate pineapple upside-down cake.

Yeah, you read that right! My mom, on the other hand, loves it. It’s one of her favorite desserts so it was high time I set about making her a vegan version that would take the cake -pun intended! Now here’s the thing about my mom, it takes a lot for her to call something, “great,” or, “perfect,” but those were the exact words she used to describe this cake so you better believe it’s something to try -if you’re a fan of pineapple upside-down cake, I mean.

Ready for the 2nd declarative statement of this post? Here it is: I don’t drink alcohol -like ever.

While I’m not a drinker (by personal choice) I do like to cook and bake with certain adult beverages from time to time. I find that they can really help amplify flavor, and add complexity, when used in moderation. Now I say moderation not because you’re going to get your family and friends plastered if you use too much (the alcohol does actually cook out), but rather because people tend to not enjoy super boozy recipes. Too much alcohol, just like too much salt or any other ingredient, can ruin a recipe in a heartbeat.

“But, Heather,” you might be asking, “if you don’t drink then how do you even know what flavor you’re adding to your recipe in the 1st place?” It’s called Google, my friends. There are plenty of sites out there which help break down the flavor complexities of things like champagne, red wine, and bourbon whiskey. Some even go so far as to tell you which flavors pair well with the adult beverage you’re looking into. I also happen to be surrounded by people who absolutely are willing to take a swig of something and tell me all about it. Sounds a little sketchy, I know, but it all absolutely works and this lovely little cake is proof of that!

To get started, we need to whip up some egg replacer (my favorite, Ener-G) so that it’ll be ready for us to use in a minute. Normally I’d be telling you to follow the instructions on the box, which says to use warm water to hydrate the Ener-G, however this time we’re doing things a little differently -a little more badass, one might say. We’re hydrating the Ener-G with bourbon whiskey! Oh yeah, you can do that, and we just did. #MicDrop

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Next, in a mixing bowl, the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) get whisked together until smooth. Then I add the almond milk, sugar, pineapple juice (stolen from our can of pineapple slices), egg substitute, and the vanilla, and stir to combine. Now set the cake batter aside for a moment to prepare the pan for it.

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For this cake you’ll need a 10-inch round pan. Spray it generously with nonstick spray and then, while holding the pan upright, sprinkle a little flour around the edges of the pan. The goal here is to have the bottom of the pan greased and the sides both greased and floured to prevent the cake from sticking.

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In the bottom of your prepared pan you’re going to pour in some melted vegan butter. Swirl it around the pan to make sure it sits evenly in the bottom then add in the brown sugar ensuring that it too is even across the pan. On top of that goodness, lay down the pineapple slices and, in the center of each, a maraschino cherry.

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Now grab the batter we made earlier and gently pour that into the pan. Get your cake into a preheated oven and bake it for about 45 minutes.

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You’ll know it’s done when the edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan and the top, soon to be bottom, is golden brown. Let the cake rest in the pan for 5 minutes.

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After 5 minutes has passed, it’s time to turn that bad boy out! My preferred method for doing this is to sandwich the cake pan in between to large sheet pans with the sheet pan the cake is about to be flipped onto lined in parchment paper. Pinching the sheet pans tightly together so that the cake pan cannot move in between them, give the whole thing a quick flip then carefully remove the top sheet pan and the cake pan to reveal your upside-down cake!

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Vegan Bourbon Whiskey Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

  • Servings: 1, 10-inch round cake, serving 6-8
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Ener-G egg substitute + 1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
  • 1 1/2 cups flour + more for pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice (from can of pineapple slices)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 7 slices of pineapple (a 20-ounce can will provide more than enough slices and juice for this recipe)
  • 7 maraschino cherries
  • Nonstick cooking spray for pan

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare egg substitute by combining Ener-G powder with bourbon whiskey. Stir well then set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour with baking powder and salt. Whisk until smooth then add in the almond milk, sugar, pineapple juice, egg substitute, and vanilla. Whisk to combine then set aside.
  3. Prepare a 10-inch round pan by spraying it with nonstick spray then, while holding the pan upright, sprinkle a little flour around the inner edges to coat just the edges (not the bottom) lightly with flour. Shake out any excess flour.
  4. Pour melted vegan butter into pan. Swirl it around in the bottom of the pan to ensure an even layer and then sprinkle in the brown sugar, by hand, also making sure that it is even across the bottom of the pan. Lay down a layer of pineapple slices (7 slices to be exact) in the bottom of the pan and then place a maraschino cherry in the center of each pineapple ring. Gently pour cake batter into pan then bake for 45 minutes. The cake will be done when edges are pulling away from pan sides, cake top (soon to be the bottom) is golden brown, and a toothpick stuck halfway down into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Let finished cake rest in pan for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn cake out being very careful as it will still be very hot. (Read in post about how I prefer to do this!) Cake will keep in an airtight container on counter for up to 3 days.