November 26, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Crisp Bars

Did everyone have an amazing Thanksgiving celebration? I hope all of your meals and parties went smoothly! I went over to my Grandma and Grandpa's house (like I do ever year), but I cooked my whole meal at home before hand. It's kind of a pain transporting an entire meal 30 minutes away, but at least I get to eat a traditional Thanksgiving dinner - without all of the animal ingredients. Maybe some day my family will let me cook Thanksgiving dinner for everyone? I doubt it, but it's worth a shot.

You know how people always make jokes about all of the awkward family moments at Thanksgiving? For example: the drunk inappropriate uncle or the grandpa who falls asleep at the dinner table? Well - I never truly understood those jokes. My family (in my experience) has never had any moment like that...until this year. How the conversation got steered onto Global Warming and Universal Health Care I'm not sure. Let's just say that there were a few people at the dinner table with different opinions and ideas that quickly turned into an awkward moment. Anybody else have those conversations at Thanksgiving? No? Just me?

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter - you saw that I hinted at this dessert. It's seriously one of my favorite desserts that I've ever made - and I've made some amazing desserts. I'm a sucker for pumpkin pie anyway, but throw some apple crisp topping on top of there and you've got yourself a crowd pleaser. My Mom and Aunt Tracy tried this and absolutely loved it - I'm sure your friends and family will too!

Graham Cracker Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tbsp melted coconut oil

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray. Mix your melted coconut oil and graham cracker crumbs until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of your oiled pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 6 minutes. Set aside on a cooling rack while you prepare the pie filling. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

Pumpkin Pie Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 15oz can of pumpkin puree (1 3/4 cup fresh pumpkin puree)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp corn starch
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Set aside.

In a food processor or large mixing bowl, combine all the above ingredients until well combined. Add in the cornstarch/water mixture and combine. Pour the filling on to your baked graham cracker crust.

Crisp Topping Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

Place all of your topping ingredients in a food processor or blend with a pastry cutter until it's well combined and crumbly. The coconut oil will bind with the flour to look like little peas. Pour evenly on top of the pumpkin pie filling. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 25-27 minutes until the crisp topping is golden brown. Set on a wire rack to allow the dessert to cool before serving.

November 19, 2012

A Very Happy Thanksgiving for Daisy

Families all over the country will sit down this November 22nd to a “turkey feast.” In fact, around 40 million turkeys will be killed this year in order to meet the Thanksgiving day demand. But at Catskill Animal Sanctuary in New York’s Hudson Valley, a very lucky turkey will celebrate Thanksgiving along-side humans, not on their plates.

Meet Daisy. Daisy was being raised for food at a turkey farm when a concerned neighbor convinced the farmer to let her live. Now, what to do with the rescued turkey? In stepped Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS), a farm animal rescue that takes in needy horses, chickens, cows, pigs, and yes, turkeys, among others.

Daisy has been living at CAS for four months now. At the 110-acre Sanctuary, Daisy spends her days with Declan, a male turkey, in their spacious yard. This summer and fall, during CAS weekend tours, Daisy and Declan greeted visitors while the CAS staff educated the guests about the lives of turkeys.

“Turkeys raised for meat live wretched lives,” explains Kathy Stevens, who founded CAS eleven years ago. “I can't reconcile eating beings who want their lives just as much as I want mine. Turkeys are delightful animals!” She recalls Ethel, the singing turkey; Blue, who loved to climb into people’s laps; and Henrietta, who had a remarkable friendship with a crippled goat named Atlas, and whose favorite days of the week were tour days. “She always wanted to be in the middle of the action,” Stevens says, and would generally accompany tour groups through the barn.

Stevens and most of the CAS staff will eat a vegan Thanksgiving this year, citing concern for the animals and the planet, and reminding folks that a vegan diet uses a tiny fraction of the natural resources required for a meat and dairy-based diet.

In order to help others on their food journey, CAS teaches vegan cooking classes and shares vegan recipes on their website. Their recent Vegan Thanksgiving cooking class filled to capacity, as nearly all their classes do.  According to their chef, Linda Soper-Kolton, the hands-on classes show folks that “vegan cooking can be healthy, absolutely delicious, and easy to prepare.”

Visit the Sanctuary's website,, for Thanksgiving recipes (including Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna, Squash and Pear Soup, and Pumpkin Pie) and for more information about the animals that they have rescued.

This Thanksgiving, instead of being on someone’s plate, Daisy herself will enjoy an extra special (vegan) meal, served to her by caregivers that see her as much more than a centerpiece.

November 16, 2012

Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Is everyone getting ready for their Thanksgiving celebrations? I can't wait! I'm sure some people think that Vegans have a rough time enjoying Thanksgiving, but honestly it's one of my favorite days of the year! I love getting up early and cooking a special Thanksgiving breakfast.

This year I'm going to be making my Pumpkin Maple Cinnamon Rolls, Country Style Hash Browns, Veggie Bacon, Melon Salad, and Orange Juice. I haven't decided exactly what I'm making for dinner yet, but I'm hoping to get at least a couple of more recipes up for you guys before Thanksgiving! Now - on to the cookies!

I know pumpkin and chocolate may seem like a strange combination to some, but trust me. These cookies are to die for. I've made a few pumpkin/chocolate desserts in the past and these are my absolute favorite creations! They're so soft and chewy - I know you're going to love them!

*Adapted from this Taste of Home recipe*

  • 1 cup vegan shortening
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl - cream together the shortening, white sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the applesauce, vanilla, and pumpkin.

In a medium bowl - sift together the all purpose flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir in the quick cooking oats. Pour into the wet mixture in three stages to allow the wet ingredients to absorb the dry ingredients. Once everything is well combined - fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop the dough by the spoonful on a greased cookie sheet. Press the balls down slightly with the bottom of the spoon. Bake at 325 degrees F for 12-13 minutes until the cookies are lightly browned. Allow to cool on wire racks before serving.