Angel Tree Birthday Party

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My birthday is in December, which makes it feel extra special because the whole world is sparkling with twinkle lights, hot cocoa, and glittery wrapping paper.

In my family, you are allowed to spend your birthday however you want, and for me that means finding little kids in need and providing them with the Christmas gifts on their wish lists.

Over the years it has grown a tad, and now my family shops for 25 kids each year! It's a big job, but nothing makes me happier on my birthday than the excitement of putting together the gift bags.

I decided I would use this party as the perfect excuse to meet our challenge for the week and try out 10-ingredient entertaining, holiday style.

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Plus I promised them dinner…

Because December is pretty cold here in Kentucky, I decided to play around with a casserole, and eventually settled on a Vegan Chicken and Biscuit Casserole.

Here is my list of ten ingredients:

1. self-rising flour
2. cashew milk
3. garlic powder
4. Italian seasoning
5. Gardein Chick'n Tenders
6. dill pickles
7. vegetable shortening
8. peanut butter filled pretzels
9. tin of Danish butter cookies
10. almond nog

salt (free ingredient!)
pepper (free ingredient!)

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I made a very classic biscuit using vegetable shortening, cashew milk, and self-rising flour (the self-rising flour cut out one ingredient).

I am realizing now that the vegetable shortening could have been a free ingredient because I didn't use another fat...

I couldn't find a biscuit cutter, but this straight-sided glass worked fine.

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Making gravy requires the same ingredients as making biscuits. I wanted to mimic the flavor of sausage so I used Italian seasoning, which is a blend of spices that counts as one ingredient. I also used garlic powder, which makes everything taste deeply flavorful.

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Gardein makes delicious vegan chicken tenders that worked perfectly for creating the fried "chicken" portion of the casserole.

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Pickles were to help cut the heaviness of the entire dish.

I was gonna serve the casserole with a slaw to healthy it up a bit, but I opted for almond nog, a tin of Christmas cookies, and peanut butter-filled pretzels instead. (Side note: Those napkins!!!!!!!!)

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Now, let's just be real honest, it is one UGLY looking dish. Howeverstill being honest!it tastes exactly like being wrapped in a soft robe.

And at the end of the day, it was a total success of a party. We laughed and ate. We shared in the excitement of giving, and ended the party by delivering all the presents to the drop-off location.

It was an absolutely perfect birthday and I even have a photo to commemorate it. I mean my eyes are shut, but what are you gonna do?

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Vegan Chicken + Biscuit Casserole

servings: One 9 by 13-inch casserole

Biscuits:

  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • ¾ to 1 cup unsweetened cashew milk

Gravy:

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • ½ cup self-rising flour
  • 3 cups unsweetened cashew milk
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Casserole:

  • Biscuits
  • Gravy
  • Two 10-ounce packages frozen Gardein Chick’N Tenders
  • 15 dill gherkin pickles, sliced

Biscuits:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, add the flour and cut in the shortening with a biscuit cutter.
  2. When the mixture resembles a coarse mill, make a well in the center. Pour in ¾ cup of the milk and mix to form a dough. If the dough looks too dry, add the remaining milk.
  3. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead it three to four times. Then roll it out until it is about ½-inch thick and cut out the biscuits using a 3-inch biscuit cutter or a glass.
  4. Bake the biscuits on a lined cookie sheet until the centers are just cooked—about 18 to 20 minutes. When finished, the tops will still look pale, which is fine. Set the biscuits aside and allow them to cool.

Gravy:

  1. While the biscuits cool, make the gravy. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Add the shortening to a cast iron skillet and melt it over medium heat. Add the flour and cook until the raw flour taste is gone—about 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add the cashew milk, slowly whisking it in. Season with the garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper, then bring the mixture to a simmer.
  3. After reaching a simmer, cook until the gravy is thickened—3 to 4 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed, then set the gravy aside until you are ready to assemble the casserole.

Casserole:

  1. To assemble the casserole, cut the biscuits in half and line the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with the bottoms of the biscuits.
  2. Cover the biscuit bottoms with ⅓ of the gravy, then layer in the “chicken” tenders.
  3. Cover the “chicken” with another ⅓ of the gravy and then ½ of the pickles.
  4. Add the biscuit tops and cover the casserole with the remaining gravy and pickles.
  5. Bake until hot and bubbly—about 25 to 30 minutes. Serve Immediately.
: @bluebirdandblackberries

: @bluebirdandblackberries

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