Category Archives: Birthday

2 recipes! vegan gravy & gluten-free vegan pumpkin squares

Onward onward, ever onward!  Day 2 of Thanksgiving preparations got off to a rough start.  Gavin stayed home from work with a case of the sniffles & we were busy celebrating my dad’s 71st birthday tonight.  But here I am, still alive.  Ireland is sound asleep and Gavin is watching a documentary about beards, so I have a free minute to check in.

Earlier today I made some mushroom gravy.  A great perk of a plant-based Thanksgiving is being able to make the gravy without waiting around for the turkey to be done.  Because there is no animal fat, it doesn’t get that coagulated, gelatinous skin on the top once it cools, either.  You can just store it in a jar, shake it up, and reheat it when you are ready to serve dinner.  Heating it on the stovetop or in short bursts in the microwave both work fine.  If you choose to reheat in the microwave, treat it as if you are melting chocolate: stir every 30 seconds or so until you get it to the right consistency.  If it becomes too thick upon reheating, add a little extra broth rather than water.  It will have better flavor that way.  Thanksgiving day I am serving Rosemary & Sage Mashed Potatoes from Daily Garnish, so I was inspired by her “White Gravy” recipe.  Since the potato recipe contains steamed apples (a simple, secret ingredient that is so tasty), a traditional dark gravy would overpower rather than compliment the fresh herbs & sweet notes of the mashed ‘taters.  Unfortunately, last year Gavin was NOT a fan of the original gravy & insisted it was “too bland”.  I liked it, so maybe I am bland.  I made a few changes to the recipe this year and was pleased with how it turned out.  I ended up doubling the batch so I can mix some up with my sourdough stuffing and make it creamy.


yields about 2 cups


  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4-5 organic cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 4 small organic garlic cloves, minced (reduce to 2 cloves if you aren’t a fan of garlic breath)
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 c water
  • 3 c organic no-chicken broth (I love Imagine brand) or organic vegetable broth
  • 1 cup organic unbleached AP flour*
  • 1 tsp organic dried onions
  • 2 tsp sea salt (I used pink Himalayan salt crystals)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

1.  Heat a little olive oil in a medium skillet.

2.  Add your mushrooms and garlic, stirring gently until your garlic becomes fragrant and lightly browned and your mushrooms begin to darken.

3.  Mix in the nutritional yeast, and immediately deglaze the pan with the water, scraping the bottom of the pan (don’t miss any yummy garlicky bits!)

4.  Now comes the tricky part…don’t be nervous.  Slowly add in the flour & broth, whisking constantly.  Don’t give up.  You can do this.  I almost cried (note: I’m super pregnant) because I thought I had a big clumpy mess on my hands but PUSH THROUGH IT!  It will all work out if you just keep whisking.

5.  If the gravy is too thick, add a little more liquid. Once you have reached the consistency you like your gravy to be, season with dried onions, salt, and pepper.  This gravy can take a lot of salt, so don’t be shy.

*Unfortunately, whole wheat flour is not a great choice for gravy.  The low protein & high starch contents of all-purpose flour both do a better job stiffening up the sauce and help you avoid clumps.  It also keeps the gravy from getting that lovely “skin” when it sits for a while.  Corn starch can also be used, and makes a glossier gravy, but it breaks down quickly when you reheat it, so keep that in mind if you are making this recipe ahead of time.

Now!  On to the sweet stuff: Pumpkin Pie Squares!  I snagged this recipe from the blog Straight Up Food, and it is AWESOME just as it is (trust me, I know…we ate an entire pan in one night last week.  whoopsie).  However, I can’t leave well enough alone and added a few ingredients to make it a bit more friendly for the non-health nut members of my extended family who will be joining us on Thursday.  I think it’s best with a little vegan whipped cream, and- lucky for you- I’m making some & sharing the recipe tomorrow!


(Vegan, Gluten Free, Oil-Free, can be No Sugar-Added and Salt-Free)

Yields about 24 small squares


  • 25 pitted organic dates (half a container…about 2 cups diced)
  • 1 1/4 c water
  • 3 c organic rolled oats, blended into flour
  • 1/2 c organic brown sugar or sucanat (optional)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp sea salt (I used pink Himalayan salt crystals)
  • 2 15 oz. cans pureed organic pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp alcohol-free vanilla
  • 1 c unsweetened almond milk

1.  Dice the dates and soak them in the 1 1/4 c water for about 15 minutes.

2.  Mix dry ingredients (ground oats, brown sugar, pumpkin pie flavoring, and salt) in a large bowl and set aside.

3.  Combine the dates to a blender along with their soaking water, and blend until smooth.

4.  Add the remaining ingredients into the blender with the dates and continue to blend until it looks creamy and smooth.

5.  Add wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until combined.

5.  Pour batter into a greased 9×12 inch pan (or line with parchment to keep truly oil-free) and bake at 375 for 45 mins-1 hour.  If it browns too quickly, don’t trip.  Cover your pan with foil and continue baking until it is cooked through.  If it is a little brown on top, doesn’t jiggle, and has a few cracks, it is probably done.  Cool to room temperature, slice, and refrigerate until you are ready to serve…with vegan whipped cream 🙂  See you tomorrow!



Filed under Birthday, Cooking, Holidays, Husband, Pregnancy, Recipes


Today is my birthday.  In ten days, we will be married.

Yesterday Gavin and I both had a day off from work, so we celebrated my 21st a day early.  He came over to my parents’ bright and early at 8:30 in the morning so that we could spend the entire day together.  Gavin showered me with gifts.  I got a record player, an electric piano, and a bottle of my favorite perfume.  He even took me to a chick flick.  We saw “Julie & Julia” and I just about died.  It was the perfect movie for us to see for my birthday.  It was so darling and all about cooking so obviously I loved it.  Then we walked over to Williams-Sonoma (of course) so I could walk around and drool over every unnecessary kitchen tool on the planet.  We went Yard House for lunch, where they gave me a ridiculously good chocolate mousse (with no embarrassing song, thank heaven).  After lunch we had to run some boring wedding errands and ended up at Gavin’s parents’ for dinner.  His mom made me homemade mac & cheese (by request) and they had my favorite mint & chip Baskin Robbins cake for dessert.  I am too spoiled.  Gavin had night school so I dropped him off and drove over to our loft in Carlsbad to do some nesting.  I set up a few things and tried to make it look more like a home, since poor Gavin is staying there all alone  until we are married.  I didn’t like being there alone for the short few hours that Gavin was at school- it felt so lonely without him there.  I was so glad to see him when class was over and I picked him up- he was so tired after a long day of spoiling me and finishing it off with a boring History lecture but he still put on a happy face and drove me all the way back to Temecula.  He is so good to me.  I feel so lucky to have someone take care of me so well.  I am truly blessed.  This Birthday was the best one yet, and I can’t wait to spend every single one with Gavin forever.

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Filed under Birthday, Cooking, Husband, Love, Marriage, Uncategorized