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A Traditional Vegetarian Thanksgiving

My whole life, starting at the beginning of November, people (who have found out I'm a vegetarian) have asked me, "So do you celebrate Thanksgiving?"

Um, yes.

Forgive me for thinking you're a dummy, but a) Thanksgiving is about more than just the food (although... not by much), and b) pretty much everything except the turkey can be vegetarian-friendly.  And maybe I'm mistaken, but I feel like a number of people have told me that the turkey is much less exciting than PIE.

Here's our lineup this year:

My beloved Sweet Potato Casserole
Green Bean Casserole
Pumpkin Curry Soup (recipe to come one of these days)
Mashed Potatoes
Cornbread (my fave is the basic one from Mark Bittman); in the past, we've also done a savory one)
Pumpkin Stuffed with Bread & Cheese
(In the past, we've also done this yummy Parm & Root Veg Lasagna for a main)
Cranberry Sauce or Cranberry Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Perhaps Pecan Pie

Also...stuffing.  So here's my confession - I don't really love stuffing.  I know, I know, it's everyone's favorite part of Thanksgiving, yada yada.  I just haven't found one that I love and I'm not sure if it's me or the recipe or maybe just stuffing in general?  I've tried basic ones and even boxed ones (WORST) and fancy (pear pecan, anyone?) and just...meh.  It's kind of supposed-to-be-soggy bread and soggy is my nemesis.  So, any stuffing advice?

Maple Pumpkin Pie Bars

I am extremely picky about pumpkin pie.  It has to be not too thick, creamy but not goopy, pumpkin-y but not bland, creamy and not rubbery, THE CRUST CANNOT BE SOGGY, etc. etc.  I have issues.

I've been making hacking this pumpkin pie for several years now and generally love it EXCEPT for the crust part.  I love all-butter crusts, but with pumpkin pie, it just seems to get lost and get soggy.  And as mentioned, I cannot handle soggy (to this day, I refuse to eat cereal with milk).

So I threw my version on top of a gingersnap crust, did it in bar form for ease of group serving, and voila - new Thanksgiving dessert.

Maple Pumpkin Pie Bars

8oz gingersnaps
6 T melted butter

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup drained canned yams from 15-ounce can
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the Crust:
Preheat to 325F.  Finely grind gingersnaps.  Mix with melted butter (directly in the baking pan if you're lazy like me) until evenly moistened.  Press into 9x13" baking dish.  Bake for 10 minutes.

Make the Filling:
While crust is baking,  combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, and spices in large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.

While pumpkin mixture is cooking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks and vanilla together in medium bowl.  Let pumpkin mixture cool slightly and combine with cream mixture.  Immersion blend until smooth.

Pour pumpkin mixture over crust.  Bake in preheated oven  until set, about 35-40 minutes.

Cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Layered Dress

Dress: Target (out of stock in this color); Sweater: H&M; Booties: Payless; Scarf: H&M; Belt: from another skirt; Purse: thrifted; Bracelet: c/o YuniKelley; Watch: c/o Daniel Wellington

Dresses are sometimes hard for me because they don't always have a lot of dimension or texture.  Sometimes I just have to appreciate them for what they are - simple - but other times, I manage to pull them into an actual outfit.  I loved how this came together and can see myself wearing versions of it all winter long.

5-Minute Crockpot Creamy Tomato Soup

I am a complete sucker for tomato soup.  Paired with grilled cheese sandwiches, it's the vegetarian equivalent of comfort food.  I've been trying to settle on a crockpot version I love, one that deepens the flavors and isn't just the same thing as letting it simmer on the stove for half an hour.  And this is it.  It is ridiculously fast to put together, perfect for the slow cooker, and most importantly, so so delicious.  I know we'll be eating it all winter long.

Note #1: The original recipe roasts the tomatoes.  I've done it both ways, and the flavor is slightly improved when the tomatoes are roasted.  But not so much so that it's usually worth upping the prep time by half an hour.  If you would like to roast, though, just spread the whole peeled tomatoes on a  baking sheet, sprinkle with the brown sugar, and bake at 450F for 30 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to color.  Choose whichever way you like.

Note #2: I used to always make this recipe with whole milk instead of cream.  And then I actually tried it with cream.  It is...unmistakably better.  I needed a lot more milk to make it feel creamy, and the flavor just wasn't all there.  Even with a dialed back amount of cream, it's just so amazing.  #justusethecream

Crockpot Creamy Tomato Soup
adapted from here

2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (or whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained, 3 cups juice reserved - see note)
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Pinch ground allspice
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups water or vegetable stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste (I hardly needed any)

1. Heat butter in large saute pan.  Saute onion until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.  Add in tomato paste, allspice, and flour and combine well.  Cook 1 minute.

2. While onion cooks, open 2 cans of crushed tomatoes and pour in crockpot with brown sugar.  Add in onion mixture and water.

3. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours (although the timing is relatively flexible; I made it overnight and it was just fine in the morning).  Stir in cream and salt and serve with grilled cheese sandwiches, of course.

Fall Maxi

Sweater: H&M; Skirt: Target; Shoes: Target; Necklace: F21

Hey, look!  I still own clothing!

It's been...rather a while since I've posted an outfit.  I wasn't entirely conscious, but mostly just the lazies and life.  And I decided I was okay with that.  Blogging in general has been taking more time away from other craziness lately, and I'm coming to terms with the fact that I'll just have to be okay with some pauses now and again and not worry about it.  I mean, it's blogging!  Not the place for worrying.  Running out of cheese in my fridge: cause for much worrying.

Anyway, I loved this, it was cozy, it sometimes makes me trip when going up stairs but mostly because I'm a klutz.  The end.