A Star is Born

Get Your Glow On

Shining brightly as a beacon of hope and guiding light, stars hold a heavy symbolic weight with their ethereal luminescence. When it comes to Christmas specifically, it’s the crowning jewel on top of a majestic evergreen tree, the pinnacle of the holiday spirit itself. Why not add a little bit more star power to the whole season, starting with your plate.

Gold Star Bread

What Is Star Bread?

Gold Star Bread is a glorious, glowing ode to brioche, cinnamon rolls, monkey bread, and coffee cake all wrapped up in tender outstretched rays. The dough itself is soft and buttery, rich and warmly spiced, infused with the flaxen hue of ground turmeric. That alone could be turned into a luscious loaf. For a special occasion, though, we might as well go all out. Mocha infuses each twist and turn as a sweet wake up call. Ease into a festive day ahead with your very own golden star leading the way.

Sharing pull-apart bread with loved ones is a whole different experience from whacking off a simple slice. You eat with your hands, drop all pretenses, and can surrender yourself to the tactile sensation of the warm, freshly baked dough. While it makes for a showstopping breakfast or dessert, the assembly is no more complicated than any other yeasted treat.

Gold Star Bread

Filling Ideas for Star Bread

If you’re not a coffee person, you’ve got plenty of flavorful options.

  • Easiest of all, simply omit the coffee powder and keep it cocoa.
  • Swap the coffee and cocoa for ground cinnamon.
  • Use brown sugar and chai spices.
  • Add roughly chopped pecans, walnuts, and/or crystallized ginger.

The sun may hide away on some winter days, but the stars will still come out to guide your way. Hold on to that golden glow through the holidays and beyond.

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Noodle Kugel, Kit and Caboodle

I didn’t grow up eating noodle kugel. In fact, my dad’s distaste for the starchy staple was so severe, it was effectively banished from our household. No amount of gentle cajoling could convince me to try this odd noodle pudding later in life and to be perfectly honest, I’m still not a fan.

Lokshem (“noodle” in Yiddish) kugel existed as early as the 1500s, neatly fitting into orthodox and kosher homes as a dairy dish without meat. It truly rose to fame as a facet of Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine in the 1800s with the sudden infusion of cheap sugar flooding in from refineries in Poland and Hungary. Raisins, cinnamon, and nutmeg were other popular additions, creating a very sweet, rich noodle casserole that could be served for breakfast and dinner alike.

Still, savory versions did exist, relying on fried onions and black pepper instead, which gave me hope for revitalizing this time-honored tradition in a way better suited to my tastes.

Breaking With Tradition

Apples are the subtle source of natural sweetness here, balanced out by the tangy bite of sauerkraut. The combination hearkens back to German cabbage and apples, simmered together with warm herbs for a heartwarming wintry stew. Meanwhile, tofu, unsweetened yogurt, and shredded vegan cheese create a high-protein base that replaces the dairy in one fell swoop.

Let’s not forget about the noodles themselves, which were typically egg ribbons, wide flat strands undulating in a sea of sweet pudding. You could simply use any ruffled or broad shape, but my favorite is broken lasagna noodles, smashed into large chunks to replicate that texture in a more free form approach. This is especially handy if you have a half-box leftover after your last recipe but can’t stand to fuss with all those layers again. Just grab a rolling pin and let out your frustration!

Now I’d compare this more to a baked ziti without marinara, or any other pasta casserole that can be scooped out hot or sliced when cool. Serve with a side salad, steamed vegetables, or simple soup to complete the meal.

How To Make A Healthier Noodle Kugel

This rendition already beats the competition by a mile when it comes to nutrition. Typically composed of one or two sticks of butter, a half dozen eggs, and up to a cup of white sugar, there’s really no comparison. Still, if you’re following a more restrictive diet, there are plenty of ways to adapt this formula further to suit your needs.

  • Gluten-free: Use your favorite gluten-free pasta instead of conventional noodles.
  • No Refined Sugar: Use no sugar-added apple butter.
  • Oil-Free: Replace the vegan cheese with 1/4 cup nutritional yeast and swap the butter or oil for aquafaba.

Make-Ahead and Meal Prep Options

Noodle kugel is the best guest you’ve ever invited to dinner. It can wait patiently to be served and is great with crowds.

Leftovers can keep for 5 to 7 days in the fridge, covered tightly with plastic wrap. Individual servings can be microwaved for 2 to 3 minutes if you’re in a rush.

For longer term storage, you can freeze it for 4 to 6 months. Simply let it thaw at room temperature and re-heat in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, until hot all the way through.

You can double the recipe and bake it in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan for twice as many servings, which makes it ideal for potlucks and holiday gatherings alike.

There are truly a million ways to make noodle kugel. If you haven’t been fond of the sweet stuff in the past, give it another try through a more savory lens.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake That’s Better Than Pie

Did you know that somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 million pumpkin pies are baked every year?

According to the American Pie Council, 1 out of 5 Americans has eaten an entire pumpkin pie by themselves. I’m going to hope that those people took at least more than one day to complete the task, but again, I’m not here to judge. You do you; it is a vegetable, right?

If you want a pumpkin pie you can feel good about consuming in mass quantity, I’d like to suggest something a bit more wholesome than the conventional approach, at least in terms of ingredients. Though this gorgeous ode to the autumn classic tastes even more decadent than the original, it’s a superfood-packed healthy choice by comparison.

What makes this pumpkin cheesecake the best recipe ever?

Oh, let me count the ways. It’s…

  • Vegan
  • Dairy-free
  • Eggless
  • Gluten-free
  • Raw/no-bake
  • Keto
  • Paleo
  • Refined sugar-free
  • Zero cholesterol

Skip the packaged and processed goods to create an even more compelling treat, truly worthy of a special occasion.

Cashews make up the bulk of this creamy filling, blended with maple syrup for a more balanced, flavorful sweetness. You get plenty of lemon tartness, like tangy cream cheese but fresher and brighter, livening up the humble squash flavor of canned pumpkin puree. Though optional, the candied pumpkin seeds on top really elevate each slice to a whole new level, providing contrasting crunchy texture to cut through decadent, silky-smooth slab.

Even if it’s too late to amend your Thanksgiving menu, keep this one in mind as the winter holidays grow near. Pumpkin isn’t going out of season anytime soon.

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Top 10 Vegan Thanksgiving Entrees

Since the beginning of time, vegans around the world have faced the same three questions from otherwise well-meaning friends:

  1. Where do you get your protein?
  2. Don’t plants have feelings too?
  3. What can you eat for Thanksgiving?

That’s a lot to unpack, not due to the complexity of the topics, but the fact such uncertainties still exist in our day and age. For all those still wondering, let me give you the abridged version:

  1. Plants.
  2. No.
  3. Plenty.

Of course there’s much more to it than that. Thanksgiving, a keystone holiday deeply entrenched in tradition, deserves deeper thought. Even an omnivorous feast takes weeks of preparation, so why shouldn’t a meatless one command the same careful planning? Now is the time to gather your recipe inspiration and believe me, I have a real veritable cornucopia of options to share.

Sides are simple so let’s focus in on the main event. Vegan Thanksgiving entrees tend to stump even seasoned pros, so there’s no shame in seeking help. Before you buy a frozen roast from the grocery store, consider the full spectrum of possibilities that are vegetable-focused, protein rich, and infused with all the freshest flavors of the season. It doesn’t have to be a big production to be worthy of a celebration. Having any homemade plant-based main dish on the table is a reason to be thankful.

Top 10 Vegan Thanksgiving Entrees

Think it's hard to eat vegan on Thanksgiving? Think again! Here are the best meatless mains for Thanksgiving dinner to feed a hungry crowd or a small, intimate gathering.

En Croûte, En Vogue

Once upon a time, in a land far away, vegans everywhere could only force a smile while staring down a plate of steamed green beans with cranberry sauce on Christmas Eve. Before Tofurky was a household name, before seitan worship was accepted in society, we had precious little to celebrate during the festive meal. Now, surrounded by such a wealth of meatless options that are even winning over omnivores, it seems like we’ve suddenly woken up from a bad dream.

It’s easy to find a worthy centerpiece that will satisfy any crowd, but for the best, most memorable feast, it all starts with umami. The so-called “fifth taste” that makes plant-based foods taste impossibly meaty is what Sugimoto shiitake mushrooms are best known for. Rather than just focusing on pure protein, nuance and seasoning takes a merely good recipe and makes it truly great.

Slowly rehydrated overnight for maximum depth of flavor, Sugimoto shiitake are blended into a creamy pâté enriched with toasted walnuts and aromatic fresh herbs. Additional nuts are mixed back in for texture, punctuating each bite with a satisfying crunch. The earthy and wild flavors almost remind me of chopped liver associated with Passover, which could be a game-changer this spring. Such an elegant spread would be enough to serve chilled with toast as a compelling appetizer, but we’re not going to stop there. For the winter holidays, we’re going all out.

Encase anything in a layer of buttery, flaky pastry for an instantly elevated experience. Frozen puff pastry makes this pro move deceptively simple, considering the stunning results. Most people make moves towards Beef Wellington for a showstopping main dish, which is also known in french as Boeuf en Croûte. en Croûte simple means, “in pastry,” don’t you know?

While many renditions use a basic shortcrust, more like classic pie dough, I prefer the laminated layers of puff pastry, draped alluringly in a faux braid across this decadent filling. Don’t be daunted; it comes together in minutes once you take the plunge and get started. It’s easier than wrapping up Christmas presents, but still tastes like a gift.

Dressed up with all the sides and fixings or pared down to solo slices, every serving will dazzle guests. Though boldly savory and lavished with garlic, fresh sage, and thyme, it fits seamlessly into every menu, whether you prefer cornbread stuffing or mac and cheese, mashed potatoes or candied yams, roasted Brussels sprouts or green bean casserole. Don’t forget extra gravy on the side.

Absolutely no one will ask about turkey, glazed ham, or otherwise with this meatless marvel gracing the table. Best of all, it also reheats beautifully the next day, if you can manage to hide some away for leftovers.

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