I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!
It was hard to come back to school knowing I only have a week left of classes. Sitting on the cozy couch with my puppies and baking Christmas cookies for the next month instead of going back to work was ooh so tempting….
But we did in fact begin the cookie baking while everyone was home—starting off with mom’s famous peanut butter balls. They’re usually the first to be made, and always the first to go.. sadly. Which is why we almost always end up making another batch closer to Christmas! (hey, we give plates upon plates of cookies away, and there would be some major disappointment if someone received a plate with missing peanut butter balls.)
Thanksgiving day was beautiful at home in Maryland—definitely not as cold as I was anticipating! We met up with mom’s neighborhood walking group along with some of my friends on a beautiful quiet country road for a nice Thanksgiving morning, pre-turkey run/walk. What a refreshing morning it was, and twenty-something people came out!
After that dad put us to work in the yard gathering leaves, chopping wood, and all the winter-preparation work he hasn’t been able to do. Then it was time to relax and cook the feast! We had possibly our smallest Thanksgiving ever, with just the sisters, mom, dad, Jeremy, and our two non-related family members, Melissa and Steve! Steve surprised us all with his gorgeous wild-rice and mushroom stuffed squash picked from his farm, and Melissa made a delicious side of sautéed kale, green beans and mushrooms. Tara wanted to try out her bread-making skills with a whole wheat country loaf. It turned out a little flat but almost had the consistency of ciabatta—I loved it! Mom brined and cooked the turkey and whipped up some mashed white + sweet potatoes and everyone’s favorite cornbread-cranberry-sausage herbed stuffing (which there were not enough leftovers of!). It was a fantastic meal and I was just perfectly stuffed, therefore had room to enjoy my vegan frozen pumpkin mousse pie! Yum. Writing about this makes me want to eat it allll over again.
Is there such thing as too much pumpkin spice at this time of year?
I don’t think so. But just to warn you, I may be about to go [a bit] overboard with this delicious combination…
First on the list is this spiced up pumpkin bread (above) which is originally vegan (I used a real egg however), whole grain, fat free and contains just ½ cup of sugar! It’s so moist and soft—almost scoopable—and is perfect warmed up for breakfast with a dollop of Greek yogurt. Needless to say it was devoured.
Next I tried out pumpkin beer bread, which does not contain actual pumpkin but rather pumpkin ale (aka the best kind of beer) and pie spices. I always loved when mom made beer bread at home…. so I have no idea why I’ve never tried to bake it considering how simple the recipe is!
The dry ingredients (above). I used whole wheat pastry flour and lots of cinnamon :]
Then pour the beer in and watch the bubbles take over!
Now the ultimate fall breakfast: pumpkin pie french toast. I spotted the idea here, but didn’t really feel the need to follow the recipe. Just whisk some milk, egg, pumpkin puree, vanilla and spices, dip your bread and throw it on the skillet! Then of course drown in maple syrup :]
This fall weather has me craving warm, comforting dishes, as you saw when I posted this kale sauté. Trying out new dishes only has me craving more, so I wanted to share a few ideas I’ve tried for quick, warm meals. I made polenta for the first time about a week ago and have fallen in love. It’s so comforting and tastes great with everything! Just add some cooked veggies or top with stew or chili for a wonderful cozy meal…..
The basic polenta recipe I’ve been using and find to work well is this:
½ cup polenta / yellow corn grits
2 cups vegetable broth
¼ t salt
1 T olive oil
Bring vegetable broth and salt to a boil in a pot. Add oil. Lower heat to simmer. Add the polenta in a slow steady stream, stirring constantly with a whisk. Whisk for about 5 minutes, until polenta is thickened. Keeping heat low, cover and let cook for 20 more minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
*I halved the recipe I found, so feel free to use 1 cup polenta and double the other ingredients for a larger batch.
Now you’ve got soft, creamy polenta to use as a base for anything! The vegetable broth is definitely what makes it so flavorful. I have yet to let the polenta firm up and bake or sauté it, but I can imagine it’s just as yummy.
Here (above) I had a hearty brunch of polenta, eggs scrambled with peppers, onions and kale, pico de gallo and feta cheese. I know it’s hard to see the polenta with all the yummy stuff on top!
And here I made a super simple lentil chili which I served over leftover polenta. I used this WholeFoods recipe for the chili and added some leafy kale. Continue reading