Posts Tagged ‘Autumn’

Thanksgiving 2010 – I Will Never Make Another Green Bean Casserole

November 24, 2010

Today was mine and my boyfriend’s vegan Thanksgiving. For the past three years, I’ve made my Thanksgiving meal the day before the holiday. Not only is it less stressful during the cooking process (in that my mom is cooking a completely separate meal the next day – too many cooks in the kitchen is an understatement), it leaves the actual holiday open to actually enjoy, and I get to eat leftovers. I’m also not stuck cleaning and washing dishes up until it’s time to leave for Black Friday shopping 😀 This year’s menu:

Homemade Gravy
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans with Creamy Mushroom Sauce
Dressing Muffins
Macaroni and “Cheese”
Deviled Tofu
Sticky Pumpkin Cake
Apple Cider

As usual, I didn’t deviate much from previous years. But there was one big thing I changed this year: The Green Bean Casserole. Well, I didn’t really change it, nor did I make up the recipe I used for my green beans this year. I actually made the one I’ve made the past few years for my boyfriend because he just kept talking about “tradition” when I told him about how I didn’t want to make a green bean casserole this year. I tried to explain to him that I’m still young, and that the food I make traditionally for each holiday is still up in the air. But he didn’t understand.. haha.

For now I’m just going to post pictures, because it’s my  bedtime and I’m tired. I’ll post pictures of everything individually tomorrow, along with recipes!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!

– Andrea


Harvest and Holiday Market

November 14, 2010

Yesterday morning, I got out to pick up some veggies at the Pepper Place Harvest and Holiday Market. Yesterday also happened to be mine and my boyfriend’s six-year anniversary. And I was still kind of thinking of what to make for our anniversary dinner all the while I was shopping. I knew I wanted to make Harry Potter-themed food, since we had planned to start re-watching the first six movies last night. I knew I wanted Butterbeer, a shepherd’s pie, and pumpkin pasties. But, other than that, I was just going to find something while I was out.

I had been meaning to visit the market when it started last month – this is the first year since I’ve known about Pepper Place that they’ve extended it into the autumn and winter months. But yesterday was the first Saturday I managed to go. I had been craving kale so badly the past few weeks, so I was planning on getting that while I was there. I figured I could saute some and call it Gillyweed 😀 Then I found some beautiful beets. I’ve only had beets a handful of times, but I decided to pick some up because they were just too pretty to leave there. I also purchased a head of lettuce for a Herbology salad.

My market purchases.

Head of lettuce, two bags of kale.

Aren’t they beautiful?!

I got a bunch of golden beets, as well as a bunch of candy cane beets, I think they’re called. When I say I’ve had beets a handful of times, I mean I’ve had the regular, old, red beets. I’ve never had either of these varieties. So I was pretty excited about trying them! I’m going to have to find a recipe for the beet greens, because I’ve never cooked them before and these are just too pretty to let go to waste! I think I might just saute them with garlic, salt, and pepper.

Good grief, I love non-fussy food!

– Andrea

$20 Worth of Apples (Take 2) – Muffins and Soup!

October 5, 2010

It’s a good thing apples last a decent amount of time. Last week I made two apple-y items: Apple Spice Muffins and Pumpkin-Apple Soup.

These apple muffins came out of The Joy of Vegan Baking (which I’m a big fan of, by the way). I added some nutmeg, ground cloves, and allspice to mine. They were wonderfully autumn and I’m proud to say my boyfriend liked them, even though they weren’t the normal “cupcake muffin” (super sweet). The apple chunks really made the muffins. So tasty! We took these to the pumpkin patch with some apple cider on an early autumn morning last Thursday. Great way to start the day!

The second apple-filled food I made last week was this Apple Pumpkin Soup from a 2009 Halloween issue of Taste of Home magazine. I was a bit disappointed in this soup, even though it has two of my favorite things in it. I probably wouldn’t make it again, but here’s the original recipe for those that would like to try it:

I used non-dairy margarine, vegetable broth, and soymilk to replace the non-vegan ingredients in the soup. I also added more sugar to taste, just because I wasn’t a big fan of how it turned out. I topped my soup with roasted pumpkin seeds 🙂

I’m planning on using the remaining apples for apple butter tomorrow. I just realized I have a slow cooker.

I’ve got two Halloween dinner ideas to share soon, plus some accidentally vegan Halloween snacks that I’ve found in stores lately! I can’t wait to share them all!

– Andrea

Happy First Day of Autumn, 2010!

September 23, 2010

I’ve been a bit confused over the last few days about when the first day of Autumn was supposed to be this year. Someone said it was on Tuesday, then there were people wishing everyone a happy autumn yesterday.


All of my calendars said the autumnal equinox was today! So, screw everyone else’s calendars. I have a cute, Gil Elvgren, pin-up calendar. And it most certainly is not wrong. So I went with today as the first day of autumn 🙂

So, happy, happy Autumn, everyone!

I made Pumpkin Pot Pies! Well, I actually only made one. This one:

I don’t really have a recipe, because I cut the original into 1/3, and then it only filled up one pumpkin instead of two.  And the veganization of it didn’t really turn out the way I had planned. So, basically:

Cut the top off of a sugar pumpkin. Scoop out the seeds (save for roasting!) and pumpkin guts. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the inside of the pumpkin and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until soft when poked with a fork. Then add your favorite pot pie filling. Use your favorite crust (I used this one) and some small, autumn leaf cookie cutters to create leaves. Use a toothpick to create a crease (you can obviously be more detailed with this) and lay them around the rim of the pumpkin. (You could also create a full crust on top of the filling using the leaves.) Bring oven temperature down to 350 degrees and bake the pot pie for another 30 minutes.

I added a lot of hot sauce to mine, because my awesome boyfriend brought me some today! 🙂 It was much better after that.

I would definitely do this again with a better pot pie filling. I shouldn’t have tried to veganize the original recipe, since I have my own favorite filling. But I’ll know better next time!

I hope everyone had a good start to autumn today! Even if it was 95 degrees!

– Andrea

$20 Worth of Apples (Take 1) – Apple Cake!

September 21, 2010

So, last Thursday, I bought a lot of apples for a photoshoot I was doing. I actually didn’t really need that many, but I thought I better be safe than sorry. I didn’t weigh the apples before I went to the register to pay for them. Turns out, I had grabbed $20 worth of apples. Too late to turn back, I sucked it up and handed over the cash.

Upon leaving the grocery store, I thought to myself, “Well, at least they’re edible props.”

So I came up with a bunch of ways I’d like to use the apples – the first being an apple cake! For most recipes, I usually turn to for a basic recipe. This instance was no different, as I found this recipe for John’s Three-Layer Apple Cake. I didn’t do a three-layer cake, because I didn’t feel like it. *shrugs* I’m not trying to be fancy here, I’m trying to use up some apples. So I baked mine in a 13×9 inch baking dish.

Vegan Apple Cake

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted margarine, melted, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • Egg replacement for 2 eggs (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer)
  • 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, two coarsely grated (squeeze out excess moisture) and two diced
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. “Butter” a 13×9 inch baking dish with margarine, then flour the bottom and sides (tapping out excess); set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together margarine, sugar, and egg replacements until well combined; fold in grated and diced apples. Add flour mixture; mix just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool cake in pan, 20 minutes. You can leave the cake in the pan, or you can invert it onto a wire rack to finish letting it cool and then transfer it onto a pretty serving platter.

I frosted mine with a (v) cream cheese frosting but, honestly, I wish I hadn’t. The cake is amazing as it is, and would have been much better with just a dusting of powdered sugar. Probably would have been a bit prettier, too.

The cake reminded me of carrot cake, in both taste and texture. It was really moist and, instead of carrots, had nice chunks of apple all in it. I’d definitely make the cake again, sans frosting!

First day of autumn is only two days away! And I’m going to the pumpkin patch on Monday 🙂 I need to make a spooky meal plan for the next week..

– Andrea

A Very Vegan Thanksgiving, 2009

November 26, 2009

Happy Tofurky Day, everyone!

Me and my boyfriend had our vegan Thanksgiving yesterday. Yesterday also happened to be his 21st birthday, but we had his party this past Saturday. I’ll post more about that soon 🙂

Thanksgiving is a holiday where I don’t like to change much, in terms of food. It’s the only time of the year I eat most of the items on the menu, and I like to keep it that way because it makes the food more special. I think next year I may want to change up the main course. I don’t mean forgoing the traditional Tofurky roast. I just mean adding a new bird-substitute to the table. Maybe stuffed acorn squash, or a seitan roast with stuffing.

But the planning for next year can wait until then. This is what we had for 2009:

 Tofurky and Gravy
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Macaroni and Cheese
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Cornbread Dressing
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Buttermilk Drop Biscuits
Pumpkin Pie Trifle
Apple Cider

I used the soy sauce/olive oil/ sage baste from the Tofurky box and followed the package instructions for the non-bird. For the gravy, I made a roux and added no-chicken broth, soy sauce, sage, poultry seasoning, and freshly cracked black pepper.

The sweet potatoes were baked for nearly two hours, until soft. Then I took the skins off, mashed them, and added white and brown sugar, margarine, and apple cider.

For the green bean casserole, I used this recipe, and it is amazing. We’ve had it the past few years.

I roasted the brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

The cornbread dressing has no real measurements, just ingredients scribbled down by my mom of what was in my maw maw’s dressing. It’s basically a loaf of cornbread, two cans vegetable broth, chopped celery and green onion, sage, poultry seasoning, garlic salt, and pepper. Then I put a few bits of margarine on top and baked it at 350 until the top was golden brown.

For the cranberry sauce, I just use the directions on the bag of cranberries. I usually add more sugar than called for, and I also added a splash of orange juice.

The biscuits were a bit dry, so I won’t post those right now.

The pumpkin pie trifle was graham crackers, pumpkin puree + vanilla pudding (from a vegan boxed mix + soymilk) + pumpkin pie spice + cinnamon, and Soyatoo Soy Whip. It was sooo good. But the single mini trifles are enough for two, so we just shared one and saved one for later 😀

And that was my Thanksgiving! I hope everyone else had wonderful food and good company.

What did you have on the table? What would you change for next year?

If anyone is getting out shopping tomorrow, be safe!

Also, this is hilarious: Defensive Omnivore Bingo Card! I’m sure many vegans and vegetarians throughout the country would have been yelling “Bingo!” today if they had known about this. 🙂

– Andrea

Vegan Caramel Apples!

October 18, 2009

So, apparantly I’m a compulsive liar when it comes to saying I’m going to make certain blog posts. Truth is, I really did plan on posting about candy and caramel apples yesterday. But it was cloudy. And I didn’t want to take pictures of caramel apples while it was cloudy. So I waited.

But all that is in the past! Now, onto some caramel apples..

First thing you need to do is go out in the woods and gather up some thin, sturdy sticks! Yes, sticks. You want your caramel apples to look autumn-y and pretty, don’t you? Then go get the sticks!

Of course, if you don’t live out in the sticks (like yours cruelly), then you can buy some crafting sticks or dowels. (Boooring! Go have an autumn adventure and gather up some sticks!)

The following recipe is enough to cover about 10 small Granny Smith apples with caramel goodness. And, yes, I’m going to reccomend you use Granny Smith apples because they make the best caramel apples of all time.

Vegan Caramel Apples

10 small Granny Smith apples (washed and completely dried)
1 1/2 cups chopped, roasted peanuts
3/4 cup  soymilk
3/4 cup margarine (Earth Balance pre-measured sticks are easiest)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 cup corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Before doing anything, you need to set up your caramel apple work station:

Caramel Apple Work Station

Caramel Apple Work Station

Have your apples, sticks of your choice inserted, set off to the side. Right next to these, you’ll need to have a baking sheet with aluminum foil, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Also nearby should be your bowl of roasted, chopped peanuts and a large bowl filled with ice water (this will be needed to stop the cooking process of the caramel later on).

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the soymilk, 1/4 cup margarine (melted), and the cornstarch.  This is your heavy cream substitute.

Fit a large, heavy saucepan with a candy thermometer. Over medium-low heat, cook 3/4 of the heavy cream substitute, the corn syrup, the remaining 1/2 cup of margarine, and the sugar to 280 degrees F, stirring only once or twice. The caramel should be a dark amber color at this point, and it will be very hot.



Quickly remove the pan from the heat and dip the bottom of the pan into the ice water to stop the cooking process. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of heavy cream substitute and the vanilla. Do not return pan to the heat.

Stirring in the remaining "heavy cream" and vanilla.

Allow caramel to cool for about a minute to thicken up.
Thickening caramel.

Thickening caramel.

Working one at a time, dip and turn the apples into the caramel. Allow excess caramel to drip off, and dip the apples into the chopped peanuts. Place on the aluminum foil that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.

When you have finished with all of the apples, place the baking sheet into the refrigerator and allow caramel to harden.

After about 10 minutes, you can say..
Ta-da! Vegan caramel apples!

"Ta-da! Vegan caramel apples!"

– Andrea

Being Vegan at Carnivals & Fairs

October 5, 2009

Carnivals and fairs aren’t exactly vegan paradise. But they can still be enjoyed without giving up your ethical/environmental/health beliefs.

Zebras in Love.

Sure, there’s deep-fried butter and sausages with sprinkles for all the omnis. But there are also some seriously delicious treats for us herbivores! And you will find them, I’m sure, at a place that looks similar to this:

It is here, in the great and all-powerful Candy Land, where you will find such wonderful treats as candy apples, cotton candy, and (possibly) popcorn! For popcorn, you’ll want to check the ingredients. Many popcorn brands and varieties are made with artificial butter flavorings/ingredients and are safe. Some still contain dairy. It’s always safe to check if you’re not sure.

Food vendors at carnivals and fairs are not likely to know what the word “vegan” means. So it may be best to say something like, “Hi, I have a bunch of weird allergies, and I was just wondering if I could check the ingredients on [insert food item here] before I buy it?”

Do you see how the sugar-coated apples shimmer and shine in the beautifully harsh lighting? It’s gorgeous, isn’t it? Yes.. So is this cotton candy mustache made by my boyfriend:

How monsterous!








 No. These items are not healthy. But what food in the wide world of carnivals and fairs is? I would most definitely say these are some of the best picks if you’re not looking to drop dead of a heart attack in front of all the kids waiting in line for the Tilt-a-Whirl.

Things to Avoid at Carnivals and Fairs, Besides the Obvious:
Funnel Cakes (dairy and/or egg), Caramel Apples (dairy), anything fried (the breading and/or coating will likely have dairy or eggs), the game carnies (they’ll steal your money right in front you and you won’t even realize they’re doing it), and doing this after you eat:

Also: be on the lookout for dead babies..

They win prizes.

They win prizes.

If you’re really missing out on things like corn dogs, make your own vegan corn dogs before you leave for the fair! My caramel apple post will be coming up soon, as well. So.. watch out!

I hope you all get to enjoy a nice trip to the fair this season!

– Andrea

Being Vegan at a Harvest Festival

October 4, 2009

Autumn is a time of harvest and, you know, harvest festivals. I went to a harvest festival today.  The Homestead Hollow Harvest Festival in Springville, Alabama, to be exact. I try to go every year, even though it’s basically the exact same from year to year.

For most people, one thing that keeps them coming back to events like these is the food. Sure, there are awesome arts and crafts to be seen and purchased.. But food is something that sticks to your tastebud memories for years. Here is what I have come to expect at harvest festivals:

First of all, if you live in the South, be prepared to deal with stupid comments from hunters and the like. For instance, today we saw this adorable little fella:

Gobble, gobble.

His name was Shrek. (No, really, it was.) While me, my sister, and her boyfriend were making googely eyes at the little guy, some redneck comes up to him and says to his pals, “Thar’s dinner right thar!”

It’s times like these when you wish some people would ignore the warning signs..

Second, expect most vegetable/bean items (even if they appear vegetarian) to contain animal fat/lard.

Now, I didn’t inquire about the contents of these cauldrons. But I can guarantee you there must have some kind of bacon grease or ham hock in these beans. That’s just how it’s done down here.

Over the years, I’ve become increasingly better at picking out the safe bets at places like these. First up is peanuts:

Uncle Salty here knows whats up.

Uncle Salty here knows what's up.

Now, it’s always safe to ask. But, generally, roasted peanuts, boiled peanuts, and peanut brittle are all safe bets when it comes to eating vegan. Plus, they give you a bit of a protein boost – which will be severely lacking in nearly any other festival food you might happen upon.

Look at those awesome prices!

Today I got a small cup of boiled peanuts (for $1!). They were tasty, but I wish they had had a cajun variety. I like heat! 😀

Talk about getting a bang for your buck!

Another safe bet, if the establishment isn’t sharing a fryer, are fries. Whether they be French, ribboned, or waffled, fries are just deep-fried potatoes. If you can find a vendor that doesn’t serve or fry any meat, your fries should be safe.

Today I got a plate of ribbon fries to share with my sister. These babies are so thin, they’re basically like eating potato chips with ketchup. Which is gross. So you should really just eat them for the novelty of it.

I also picked up an ear of fresh, roasted corn. These were roasted in the husk, so nothing was added to them. A cup of freshly sqeezed lemonade finished off this wonderfully healthy “meal”.

Picking corn kernals out of my teeth, 2008

Picking corn kernals out of my teeth, 2008

If you’re not into lemonade, or it’s particularly cold outside, you can order a nice cup of hot (or cold) apple cider!

Festivals are also a great time to pick up some locally canned and pickled items.

No, I didn’t buy any Butt Rub. But I did pick up some corn salsa and hot chow chow! I haven’t tried them yet. Perhaps I’ll review them soon. Also at the festival were vegan dip mixes and barbeque sauces.

Two other great and fun snacks to eat at events like these are kettle corn and cotton candy! Kettle corn is usually just popped with oil, salt, and sugar. And cotton candy is just pure sugar. Candy apples are usually fine (basically just a sugar/corn syrup candy coating), but it’s always safe to check. And, hey! That still counts as a serving of fruit!

Sad to say, but caramel apples will almost always have dairy. If they don’t, consider it your lucky day. I’ll be posting soon with how to make you own vegan caramel apples!

I believe I’ll leave this post with this little cute chicken:

I like to call him Henry.

Up next I’ll be blogging about being vegan at carnivals and fairs!

– Andrea

Pumpkin Patch Picnic

October 3, 2009

Today was Pumpkin Patch Day! Me and my boyfriend (Jon) have gone to the Great Pumpkin Patch in Hayden, Alabama, every year since 2005. We just barely missed 2004, since we were established in November of that year. So this was our 5th year. I remember going once or twice as a kid, and I’m so glad I’ve made it a tradition as an adult. (Can I be classified as an adult? Whatever. I guess I’m considered one by law.)

I never thought to bring a picnic to the pumpkin patch before 2007. Even then, I just brought along some Pumpkin Cranberry Scones with Maple Glaze for dipping. We ate in the car before heading to the patch.

Pumpkin Cranberry Scones with Maple Glaze

Pumpkin Cranberry Scones with Maple Glaze

The next year, I got a bit more picnic-y and brought some vegetarian chili, a salad mix, and a slice of baguette.

Vegetarian Chili +Salad & Baguette

Vegetarian Chili +Salad & Baguette

This year, however, I wanted a bit more of a meal than a soup and salad deal. And I wanted my menu to completely embrace all that is autumn. So I made Cider Baked Butternut Squash Soup (brought along with some leftover Butternut Bisque from yesterday), Sweet and Tangy Green Bean Salad, Pumpkin Focaccia, and mini Apple + Cranberry Crisps. We had apple cider to drink!

Pumpkin Patch Picnic, 2009!

Pumpkin Patch Picnic, 2009!

It might look a bit much, but everything fit into our picnic basket! (Well, I brought the cider in a separate cooler.) I put our tablecloth in the bottom of the basket. The soup stayed warm in little Cambell’s Soup thermoses. The green bean salad was in a plastic container (it was eaten at room temperature). The crisps where brought in mini ramekins with lids, and the focaccia was wrapped in aluminum foil. Then I just had to fit the plates, bowls, cups, and utencils in there! haha.

Picnic Packing

Picnic Packing

I’m just going to post a link to the Cider Baked Butternut Squash Soup, because I don’t really think it’s worth posting. The soup was *ok*, but I much preferred the Butternut Bisque from yesterday.

The pumpkin focaccia, however, is worth posting! I used this recipe, replacing the butter with margarine and omitting the cheese altogether. Instead of walnuts (didn’t have any), I just sprinkled some kosher salt on top of the loaves before baking.

Pumpkin Focaccia

2 loaves, 8 servings each (serving size: 1 wedge)

  • 3/4  cup  warm water (100° to 110°)
  • 1/3  cup  packed brown sugar
  • 1  package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3 1/2  cups  bread flour, divided (about 15 3/4 ounces)
  • 3  tablespoons  butter, melted
  • 1  cup  canned pumpkin
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) grated Gruyère cheese, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  teaspoon  cornmeal
  • 1/3  cup  coarsely chopped walnuts

Combine water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1 cup flour and butter to yeast mixture; stir just until combined. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 30 minutes.

Add pumpkin, salt, and nutmeg to flour mixture; stir until well combined. Add 2 1/4 cups flour and half of cheese; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).

Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide dough in half; shape each half into an 8-inch circle. Place dough circles on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle remaining cheese and nuts evenly over dough circles; press lightly to adhere. Lightly coat dough circles with cooking spray; cover and let rise 20 minutes (dough will not double in size).

Preheat oven to 400°.

Uncover dough; bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until loaves are browned on the bottom and cheese melts (shield loaves with foil to prevent overbrowning, if necessary). Cool on a wire rack.


For the green bean salad, I blanched some green beans and then dipped them in an ice water bath to retain the color. Afer draining, I tossed them with some thinly sliced red onion and a dressing consisting of about 2 TBSP dijon mustard, 2 TBSP agave nectar, and 1-2 tsp red wine vinegar + salt and pepper, to taste.

The Apple-Cranberry Crisp is in the current issue of Everyday Food magazine (which has a ton of awesome, easy, vegan/veganizable recipes, btw!)

Enjoying the Pumpkin Patch Picnic!

Enjoying the Pumpkin Patch Picnic!

Moving on to dessert.

Moving on to dessert: Stud Muffins!

And that’s that for the Pumpkin Patch Picnic 2009. I hope the pumpkins didn’t realize I had baked them into the bread I was eating :-\

– Andrea