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The October Farmer’s Markets were full of lovely pumpkins and I could not resist their siren song.  So, this year I bought a Halloween pumpkin with wonderful intentions of carving it into a masterpiece… but that didn’t happen.  Halloween came and went and my pumpkin sat on my porch looking very autumnal but not very scary. 

On Monday night I was feeling inspired by all of the posts I have been reading about roasting pumpkins.  I figured that since my pumpkin hadn’t quite turned out to be the ultimate Halloween decoration I could still get my money’s worth.  All needed to do was roast it and turn it into tasty pumpkin puree.  Such a wonderful idea, at least in theory.  When I actually set about roasting and pureeing, my brilliant inspiration gradually turned to determined frustration and ended in exhausted triumph.

At this point I should probably mention that I was not using a “cooking” pumpkin.  My pumpkin was about 19 inches tall and 16 inches around.  The Pumkin as compared to my 12 cup tea kettle

The size should have been my first clue that this would not be a quick task.  I also got a bit of a surprise when I cut my giant pumpkin open.  I was expecting it to have an 1-1/2 inches or so of meat to it.  Boy was I wrong!  The walls were about 3 inches thick on the sides and 4 inches thick towards the bottom.

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Okay, we have now established that this pumpkin was no shrinking violet.  I fact only 1/4 of the pumpkin fit into my modest oven at a time.  It took 30 minutes at 450 degrees for the pumpkin to become perfectly roasted.  When the roasted pumpkin became cool enough to handle it was time to remove the skin and puree it.

Now is a good time to mention that the sole blending device in my kitchen is a blender.  Not a fancy vita-mix type blender either.  Just a run of the mill 6 cup Oster blender.  It has always served me well and makes a mean smoothie, but I was about to discover that blending frozen fruit and blending roasted pumpkin don’t even come close in comparison. 

I peeled and sliced roughly 1 cup of pumpkin and proceeded to attempted to puree it.  My blender put out an awesome effort….for the first 5 seconds.  After the addition of some water and some coaxing with a spoon I got my first bit of pumpkin puree.  2 hours, a bit of cursing and a few tears later I had pureed half of the pumpkin.  You may be asking yourself, exactly how much puree can one make from half a giant pumpkin?

  The answer, 23 cups.23 cups o' pumpkin

Half of this pumpkin is still sitting in my fridge, sliced and waiting to be roasted this weekend.  I decided that pumpkin roasting/pureeing  is not a great weekday activity for me.  I definitely won’t be doing this on a Monday night ever again.

I have definitely been keeping busy the last few days and I fully intend to fill everyone in on several tasty creations that I have come across.  Tonight however, I took a bit of a break from the usual to hang out with some friends for a potluck style dinner.

It was a wonderful night.  The conversation was plentiful and entertaining, the atmosphere cozy and welcoming, but the real magic happened when I had my first bite of the main dish.  It was a warm, creamy heaping fork full of Mac n’ Yeese. 

I found a bit of heavenly bliss in every mouthful of this cheese replacement dish that I have been dreaming of for the last 4 weeks. And while I am tempted to horde the recipe and keep it all to myself, it just wouldn’t be right not to share this divine bit of vegan food paradise.  So here it is, the recipe for Heidi’s Mac n’ Yeese.

Heidi’s Mac n’ Yeese

  • 1/2 Cup Margarine
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 3 1/2 Cup Boiling Water
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 Pinch of Turmeric
  • 1 Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • about 1 Tbsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 to 1 Tbsp. Mustard

Making It

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, add salt to taste, and add macaroni.
  2. Melt the margarine over low heat.  Beat in flour with a wire whisk.  Continue to beat over medium heat until mixture is smooth and bubbly.
  3. Whip in boiling water.  Add salt, garlic powder, turmeric, cayenne, pepper flakes, soy sauce and mustard to the liquid.
  4. Let the sauce cook until it thickens and bubbles.  When that happens, beat in nutritional yeast.  If the sauce is too thick, add more water.
  5. When the macaroni is cooked, drain and add the sauce.  Serve immediately.

If you want to get the story behind this fabulous recipe and what inspired it check out Heidi’s blog at http://rootielicious.com.  You can also see some of her amazing jewelry there as well.

That is all for tonight but stay tuned.  In the next 2 days you will get to hear all about an amazing tofu scramble, fauxtess cupcakes and an adventure with pumpkin roasting.

Apple season continues here in Washington state and the harvest is bountiful.  I spent the evening cooking up another big batch of applesauce to help get me through the winter.  I love how the smell of the apples cooking makes the whole house feel like fall.

Having all this applesauce around also means that I get to have one of my favorite breakfasts, Quick Apple Crumble.  It is the perfect pick me up on cold fall or winter mornings.  Just put some of you applesauce in a bowl and warm it up in the microwave then top it off with your favorite granola.  I like to use homemade maple coconut pecan granola. 

Quick Apple Crumble

The flavor is mildly sweet and infinitely satisfying.  It’s like getting to have dessert for breakfast!

Making that batch of applesauce means that I finally got to take pictures for An Apple A Day.  So if you want to see some more apple love, just take a gander at that post and enjoy the bounty of fall.

 

I love Halloween and I love baking.  Do you what happens when those two loves become one?  Bloody Eyeball Cupcakes are created!

Halloween 2009 007

and Bloody Feet…..

Halloween 2009 011

And don’t forget the occasional Bloody Finger.

Halloween 2009 003

Oh yes, it looked like Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory in my kitchen this morning. 

As gross as these guys look they taste fantastic.  The cupcakes are made with the recipe from the chocolate cake recipe on Cake Maker to the Stars  recipe page.  The frosting is Vanilla Un-Buttercream and the “blood” is strawberry puree that has been sweetened with agave nectar and thickened with cornstarch.  I had a ton of fun making and decorating these spooktacular nibbles.

Vanilla Un-Buttercream Frosting

2 cups Powdered Sugar

1/4 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread

1/4 cup Vegetable Shortening

1/2 Tbsp. Vanilla

1-2 Tbsp. Water

All ingredients should be room temperature.  Blend together the buttery spread and shortening until completely combined.  Blend powdered sugar into the buttery spread/shortening mixture.  Once the powered sugar is completely incorporated, add in the vanilla.  Continue to blend the frosting together while slowly adding water 1/2 tablespoon at a time until it has reach the perfect fluffy consistency.

 

 

Quick Update

This is just a quick little appetizer of a post.  I am pleased to announce that my camera is finally functioning properly.  Yippee!  That means I get to start adding some visual stimulation to my blog.

That first posts that will be getting some photographic love will be Comfort Food Vegan Style and Short But Chocolatey Sweet.  And be sure to keep an eye out for the post later today that will have its own yummy pics along with some additions to An Apple A Day.

I hope everyone is enjoying some pre-Halloween fun this week!  Have a great Thursday.

Fun With Falafel

In my quest to find new entrees, and off set my somewhat compulsive baking of sweets, I decided to try my hand at making falafel.  While I would love to say that I slaved over a hot stove preparing homemade falafel, such is not the case.  Instead I did the unthinkable.  I used….pre-made falafel mix.  *Gasp*  I know it’s a bit of a short cut but I had this vegan falafel mix in the pantry and it hadn’t expired yet, so I gave it a try. 

The falafel tasted really good.  It had good spice, good texture and really well the tsiziki that was made from scratch.  Granted, next time I make falafel I am going to try making it from scratch.  I have heard that homemade falafel beats the mixes hands down.  Isn’t that always the case though?

In non-food related food, I think I may have some pictures up on the blog by this weekend.  I am currently in the process of trying resurrect my camera from the dead.  With some luck and a new SD card I will be able to break up some of my long-winded posts with something pretty to look at.

The Journey So Far

It has been 3-1/2 weeks since the beginning of my vegan journey, so instead of doing a post that revolves around a recipe I am going to do a bit of an update on my journey so far.   Hopefully this will be the first of many posts that widen the scope of my blog.  I would love to do more posts on the vegan lifestyle apart from food, so I will be trying to include at leat one non-food post per week.  Anywho…on to the update.

The last 3 weeks have gone by fairly quickly.  While it has been a relatively smooth transition for me to go vegan, there have been a few challenges.  For example, I am really missing cheese.  I have tried a recipe for “Cheese” Sauce and frankly it fell way short in the taste category.  I wasn’t expecting it to taste like cheese but it was almost sweet-tasting and I think the spices need to be switched up a bit. 

Aside from venture into faux cheese sauce I haven’t really tried any vegan cheese products.  The grocery stores in my area are rather poorly stocked when it comes to vegan cheeses.  Everything I have come across has had dairy proteins in it.  But I will forge ahead and continue the search for something to fill the cheesy void in my life.  I may even order some Daiya from Pangea Vegan Store.  I have heard some great things about it.

In all things not cheese I have done really well.  I am eating more meals at home and actually spending less money on groceries even though I am making more trips to the store for fresh ingredients.  My energy levels have been up and I am even sleeping better.  The one thing I would like to get better about is planning meals ahead of time.  I am kind of a fly by the seat of my pants girl and that doesn’t always work when you are in a hurry to find something to eat.

I have really been enjoying my experiments with vegan baking, and so have my friends and family as I love to share my creations with them.  But I have noticed that I really need to work on expanding my repertoire of entrees.  While I am a whiz at whipping up sweet treats and baked goods, my actual cooking skills need to be stretched a bit more.  I am seeking out some quick and easy recipes for casseroles, past dishes and stir fries.  Am especially interested in things that I can prepare ahead of time and them refrigerate or freeze for easy meals during the week.

All in all, I am very happy with this new leaf I have turned over.  I am looking forward to all of the new things I have learned, and I know that there is so much more out there for me to discover.