Tag Archives: vegan holiday

Pumpkin Pie (or why I married my husband)


Every family has their own holiday traditions. Some traditions are very specific, others are broadly accepted and personalized by everyone. Pumpkin pie is one of the latter for sure. Everyone has a memory of pumpkin pie, right?

Nathaniel’s family, most of whom are in Tennessee, have this wonderful tradition of pies. His grandmother gave him pumpkin pie and home made crust recipes when he was in high school.  It became the dish everyone asked him to bring for the holidays. His secret to heavily requested pumpkin pie: using fresh pumpkin.  There was a 3-acre pumpkin patch on his  family’s farm, so he started using fresh pumpkin.  Not the canned stuff you buy at the grocery. But real, fresh pumpkin.

I think this is one of the reasons I married Nathaniel. His off-the-hook pumpkin pie. No joke! A million years ago, he walked into the college photo lab carrying a homemade pumpkin pie he baked himself. Schwing! And I mean seriously homemade ~ the crust was hand-rolled; the pumpkin was grown at home and baked to the perfect sweetness. Nathaniel’s pies are the real deal. Until you have a real homemade pie with non-canned pumpkin, you just haven’t lived a full life.

As I type this, Nathaniel is in the kitchen right now toiling over his annual batch of Thanksgiving pumpkin pies. In addition to the ones he makes for us, he now has to make several for my grandmother. She adores his pies. She starts asking for them in August, except she calls them “punkin.”

So for the first time ever, here is Nathaniel’s pumpkin pie recipe. It is not difficult, but it is time-consuming. And worth every second! Makes two pie fillings. Recipe is gluten-free and there are gluten-free pie crust recipes listed below.

pumpkin pie

Nathaniel’s Pumpkin Pie

4 cups fresh cooked pumpkin**(see notes below on cooking pumpkin)

9 tsp. Egg Replacer in 3 Tbs. warm water (we used Ener-G – equivilent of 8 eggs)

1 cup sugar (we use Florida Crystals)

1 pint vegan vanilla creamer (soy, almond, coconut)

2 Tbs. arrowroot starch

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground nutmeg

2 pre-baked vegan pie crusts (**suggestions below)

Mix egg replacer and warm water. Combine pumpkin, sugar and non-dairy creamer in a large bowl. Add all dry ingredients and mixed egg replacer. Mix together in a blender, with a mixer or by hand, and pour into pie crusts. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Turn oven to 350 and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Sprinkle cinnamon on top and chill before serving!  It sets up best if you chill 8 hours or overnight.

The Dirty Hippie reminds me to tell you all that it’s also good with crushed & toasted almonds on top or the coconut whipped “cream.” Or to mix things up, add a handful of chocolate chips into the batter before baking. If you can’t find pumpkins to bake, you can also use butternut squash or sweet potatoes in the same ratios for this recipe.

**How to Cook Fresh Pumpkin: For two pies, you will need 3 sugar pumpkins or a large baking pumpkin, such as a cinderella or cheese pumpkin. Scoop out the innards of the pumpkin and slice flesh into palm size chunks. Place flesh side down in baking dish half full of water. Bake in the oven for 60 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool, then peel off the skin or scrape out flesh with a spoon. You are ready to make pie or you can freeze the pumpkin and use it later! We use freezer bags with 4 cups each. Leftover cooked pumpkin is great in soups, curries and smoothies. Oh – and don’t forget to save and roast your pumpkin seeds! They’re a great source of protein, fiber, calcium and magnesium.

**Vegan Pie Crust: Baking a crust before the pie is called blind baking. You can use a pre-made crust from the grocery store for this recipe. (Be sure to check the ingredient list for lard.) You can also make a homemade crust. Here are links to some vegan pie crust recipes. Choose any one you like and be sure to blind bake it before you start the pies! We use 2 cups of GF flour, $ Tbs. Earth Balance and enough ice water to moisten, a few teaspoons. Our dough is a little crumbly because it’s gluten free.

Minimalist Baker

Savvy Vegetarian

Oh  Ladycakes

Gluten Free Girl

The Blender Girl


Baked: Tiramisu Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies


When I was  a college student at NYU in the early nineties, tiramisu was all the rage. Funny thing, I believe plenty of folks are still raging over the traditional Italian treat. It’s usually a casserole-ish dessert made with ladyfinger cookies, coffee, mascarpone cheese and chocolate with some kind of liquor for accent. Different sources site different booze as the “traditional” variety- rum, amaretto or marsala wine. Really though, wouldn’t any one of them be delicious?

Over the years, we’ve had various vegan tiramisu desserts, all of which were wonderful. But it’s usually a messy dish and not portable, especially for sharing at the holidays. So we decided to give it a new spin. Why not a cookie sandwich?  And why not with a little holiday flavor? Our version uses a chocolate gingerbread cookie and has a vegan cream cheese filling, with coffee and amaretto extracts. So you’re getting all the usual tiramisu yum, but it’s easier to hold in your hand. Um… it might be a little itsy bit messy, though we suspect you will welcome the chance to lick your fingers!


Tiramisu Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies

Dry ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

2 tsp. cinnamon

pinch ground cloves

pinch ground allpsice

pinch ground nutmeg

pinch salt


Wet ingredients:

1/3 cup non-dairy milk (we used soy milk)

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1 Tbs. ground flax meal

2 Tbs. warm water

1/3 cup molasses

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. instant coffee powder

1/2 cup vegan margarine, softened to room temperature (we use Earth Balance)



4-oz.  vegan cream cheese, softened to room temperature (1/2 of a container, we used Toffuti)

3 Tbs. vegan shortening (we used Spectrum)

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. arrowroot starch powder

1/3 tsp. coffee extract

1/3 tsp. amaretto extract



melted chocolate, chocolate covered espresso beans, as desired


Preheat oven to 350. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper or reusable silcone baking mats; set aside.

In a small dish, stir together non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar. Set aside to curdle into “vegan buttermilk.”  In a large mixing bowl, stir together flax seed meal with warm water; set aside to congeal as this will be the binder.

Sift together dry ingredients in a second bowl.

In mixing bowl with flax seed and water, add molasses, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, instant coffee powder, softened vegan margarine and curdled milk/vinegar. Whip together with electric beaters until smooth. Add dry ingredients and combine until just mixed; do not overwork or cookies will become tough.

Form into 1 -tablespoon scoops on prepared cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for ten minutes; allow to cool for 15 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. Makes about 40 cookies.

Before filling the cookie sandwiches, cool the cookies completely.

To prepare filling, whip together room temperature vegan cream cheese and shortening with an electric mixer or stand mixer until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and mix on low, so it doesn’t poof all over your kitchen. When powdered sugar is moistened, turn power to medium or high, and combine thoroughly. Finally add arrowroot powder, coffee extract and amaretto extract. Whip filling until all ingredients are smooth and incorporated.

To assemble cookies as in the photo, dip 20 cookie bottoms in melted chocolate and allow to cookie. Top the other 20 cookies with a dollop of filling. Nestle a chocolate-dipped cookie onto the filling, chocolate-side down. Drizzle the top with more melted chocolate in any pattern desired and place a chocolate-covered espresso bean into warm drizzle.

Allow all chocolate to set/cool before serving. Store in fridge – if you have any left long enough!

Need a shortcut? Skip all the melted chocolate and just smear filling between too cookies. It’s still tasty, just not as pretty. Or chocolatey!

Cook’s Notes: Don’t know how to melt chocolate? We use a double boiler method. Basically, we place a glass bowl on a saucepan filled with water. Place of low heat and add chocolate to the glass bowl. The chocolate should never touch the water or steam – it will seize and you’ll have to start over again. Stir frequently until chocolate is smooth and velvety.  This also works in the microwave, using just a glass dish. Microwave on low power a minute at a time, stirring between each heating until smooth.

Wondering why we used coffee and amaretto extracts? In a test, we found that the extracts had more concentrated flavor for the filling. Adding more liquid with real coffee and amaretto made the filling too runny. Feel free to experiment, though!

Old School Cheeseball Goes Vegan!


You can admit it. You loved junky cheeseballs. That processed crappy orange cheese, rolled in walnuts. Maybe it was port wine. Or sharp cheddar. Imagine it now… That soft, smelly cheese that you can cut into with a cracker. Yes, we loved it too. Which is why we are so excited to share this recipe in time for holiday parties.

Now you can put out a vegan-friendly cheeseball, and impress your guests by once again serving a processed cheese product rolled in nuts. Did we mention it’s ridiculously easy to make? One note – there is no swap for the Teese Cheddar. You’ve got to find that vegan cheese product to make this work. But don’t worry – it’s widely available. Whole Foods has it nationwide, and Amazon.com can ship anyplace!

Old School Cheeseball Goes Vegan

1 8-oz. tub of vegan cream cheese, room temperature (we used Tofutti)
1 10-oz. tube cheddar Teese Cheese, room temperature
3 Tbl. vegan margarine ( we used Earth Balance)
1 Tbl. sriracha hot sauce
1 Tbl. A1 sauce (yes, it’s vegan!)
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

In a large mixing bowl, combine vegan cream cheese, Teese cheddar tube, margarine, sriracha, A1 sauce, paprika and green onions. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth, creamy and well-incorporated. You can do this by hand too, but it takes a little longer.

Place in the fridge to chill for at least four hours or up to overnight before rolling into a ball.

Before serving, roll chilled cheese into a ball and press chopped nuts into cheese to completely coat. Keep in fridge until ready to eat. Serve with chopped veggie crudités and crackers.


Try another flavor profile! Instead of the sriracha, A1 sauce, paprika and green onions, flavor your cheese ball with 2 Tbl. Maple syrup, 1 Tbl. Dijon mustard, a dash of liquid smoke and 1 tsp. white miso. Roll in chopped almonds. Yum! Want more options? Use Teese mozzarella cheese with the vegan cream cheese and maragarine. Flavor with 1 Tbl. Italian spices, 1 Tbl. minced fresh basil, 1/8 cup minced black olives and 1/4 cup minced sundried tomatoes. Roll in pine nuts or sunflower seeds.

Savory Holiday Pastry & Spicy Cranberries


In 2013, we won Beyond Meat‘s Clucktober contest, and they gave us – for a Twitter post – a free year of product. It was pretty freaking awesome. We have been posting away all year, making fun new recipes with the chicken-less strips and beef-less crumbles. We’ve also made a few friends with the folks that work there, like Justin. He said he thought that Beyond Meat might not make it as a main dish for the holidays, but we wanted to show him that it could easily take center stage.

Like in these incredibly elegant, yet easy Savory Holiday Pastries. They literally take less than 30 minutes to make. Try that timeline for any other holiday main dish!

To serve alongside, we devised a Spicy Cranberry sauce that accents the pastries – the secret ingredient is adobo sauce! This recipe is a snap, too. Need a simple side? Try any kind of steamed, wilted greens – Swiss chard, kale, arugula, spinach. Greens are amazing with cracked pepper and a splash of vinegar.


Spicy Cranberries

12 oz. bag of cranberries, rinsed and sorted

2/3 cup orange marmalade (about one 8 oz. jar)

1 chipotle pepper, minced (or less, to taste)

2 Tbl. adobo sauce, from the canned chipotle peppers (like Goya brand)

In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, marmalade, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce. Stirring frequently, cook over medium-high heat until cranberries begin to pop and crackle. When a thick gel has formed (cranberries have loads of natural pectin!), remove from heat and set aside until ready to serve the meal.


Savory Holiday Pastry

1/2 cup fig jam, room temperature

1/2 cup plain vegan cream cheese (such as TofuttiDaiyaGalaxy or Trader Joe’s), room temperature

1 pack lightly seasoned Beyond Meat Chicken

1 tsp. olive oil

1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped

1 cup mushrooms, finely chopped

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. dried sage

1/4 tsp. white pepper

pinch salt, or to taste

Preheat oven to 400. In a small bowl, stir together fig jam and vegan cream cheese. Set aside.

Using a fork or your fingers, shred Beyond Meat chicken strips into small pieces. Set aside.

In a large skillet, combine chopped olive oil, onion, mushrooms, thyme, sage, white pepper and salt over medium heat. Saute 4 to 6 minutes, until onions are translucent and mushrooms tender. Add shredded Beyond Meat and stir to until coated and warmed through. Remove from heat.

On a flat work surface, unroll both sheets of puff pastry from the box. Cut each sheet into six equal pieces.

Add a spoonful of fig jam/cream cheese to one corner of each of the twelve puff pasty pieces. Top with even amounts of Beyond Meat/onion mixture until all ingredients are used up. Fold diagonally and crimp pastries closed with a fork. Transfer carefully to two baking sheets.

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, until pastries are golden brown and crispy. Allow to cool on baking sheet five minutes before serving with Spicy Cranberries.