A beautiful Southern Holiday dinner that's vegetarian!

There is something so very special about Knoxville, TN. Not just the beauty of the Smokey Mountains or the chilly breeze of the winter air, but to me it's the warmth of a loving home, the excitement of the holiday, and the FOOD. Yes I said it, a vegetarian "Southern" Holiday dinner. Vegetarian and the South don't usually go hand in hand, but boy did they when my boyfriend, Ian and I made a spread for his family a few days ago.

It goes a little something like this...

Sautéed tempeh with brussel sprouts, seasoned with an assortment of delectable spices, cauliflower and potato mash - that I might of put more cheese on than usual (hey, it is the holidays!), cucumber and pomegranate salad with just a bit of feta cheese (so crunchy and refreshing), and a TVP-turkey dish to top it all off! I think I may just have your attention. My mouth is watering thinking about it again!

Let's begin with the salad. Y'all, this was such a refreshing and flavorful salad that is not only holiday worthy, but year-round worthy. This is what you'll need:

2 cucumbers, peeled, halved, and seeds removed

Seeds of 1 pomegranate

1⁄4 cup thinly sliced scallions, green tops only

1⁄2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Juice of 1 lime

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1⁄2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 cup of blackberries ( I added these and what a treat it was indeed)

Cut the cucumbers into slices 1⁄4 inch thick, then halve them. Put the cucumber slices in a bowl with all but 4 tablespoons of the pomegranate seeds. Add the scallions, cilantro, lime juice, and olive oil. Toss and season with salt. Take the remaining pomegranate seeds and blackberries, and garnish the top of the salad.

This recipe comes to us courtesy of - www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com Thanks guys!

Now, I'm not usually a fan of the brussel sprouts because they make my tummy hurt. So to say I was apprehensive about eating one is an understatement. But as I took a bite of this dish, I could not stop. And I thank my lucky stars that I felt fabulous afterward! Here's the basics:

1 pack of organic 3 grain tempeh from Trader Joe's (8 oz) 2 cups brussel sprouts (diced volume)

Mix all the seasonings for the marinade according to taste: Whole grain mustard Bragg's liquid amino acids All natural barbeque sauce from Trader Joe's Chopped garlic Pepper

1) Chop brussel sprouts into quarters and the tempeh into similarly small pieces. 2) Mix all of your sauces (mustard, liquid aminos, barbeque sauce, garlic and pepper) and stir into a marinade according to a taste you enjoy. 3) Combine brussel sprouts and tempeh into a bowl and drizzle the marinade over everything. 4) Mix ingredients so that the marinade is evenly distributed and lightly coating every piece . 5)If you are pressed for time, pour everything into a skillet and start sautéing on medium heat with a touch of olive oil (better yet, give yourself some extra time and put the bowl in the fridge to marinate for an hour before you begin to sauté). 6) Sauté on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until brussel sprouts are cooked to your preferred level of tenderness.

Recipe created by my handsome and creative boyfriend, Ian Carroll.

If you've been following our blog, I'm sure you've come to the conclusion that Brooke and I are obsessed with potatoes! So I clearly had to make a dish that included them. I found this recipe that involved cauliflower and greek yogurt which really appealed to me. It was a hit, folks. You're going to want to make this for your dinner tonight!

This makes 6 large servings and you'll need:

6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (about 1 ½ pounds) 1 lb cauliflower (½ to ¾ of a large head), washed and cut into chunks 2-3 garlic cloves, quartered 1/3 cup Greek yogurt 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese Salt and pepper to taste Milk as needed 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1) Heat a large pot of water to boiling 2) Add potatoes, cauliflower, and garlic (water should cover vegetables completely) and simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender 3) Drain the water and stir in the yogurt, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper 4) Beat with a hand mixer, adding milk as needed, until desired consistency 5) Transfer to a greased 8x8 baking dish and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

To bake immediately: 1) Bake uncovered at 350 for 10-15 min (or until heated through), setting the oven on broil for the last 2-3 minutes (or until cheese is starting to brown) 2) Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Once again thanks to www.naturalhealthyconcepts.com for the fantastic recipe!

And lastly go pick yourself up a TVP-turkey with stuffing and mushroom gravy from Trader Joe's (or your local healthy market). It may not be homemade - because we were on a time crunch - but it is a healthy, quick, and flavorful solution that gives you the holiday flavors and some fantastic protein!

www.traderjoes.com

As we gathered around the table and took a look at our delightful meal I felt such a moment of thanks. I love gathering family and friends around a table of delicious food. Love was definitely around the dinner table that night. Bennerfitters, there weren't any leftovers, the meal was THAT good.

I hope you all had a beautiful holiday in whatever you celebrate. And I can't believe the new year is fast approaching. Brooke and I are so excited for this coming year and we have some fun and creative ways to celebrate 2013!

Now get to fixin' a vegetarian Southern Holiday dinner!

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