Last Christmas, my husband’s family all gathered in California to spend a week together. It was that week of bizarre weather when it drizzled almost nonstop…and every native Californian freaked out and half the roads closed (as a Virginian, I found this reaction about as silly as how Richmonders behave if there’s a possibility of snow…but apparently there were actual mudslides, so maybe the Californians had a reason to be worried). But while we were there, we played dozens of board and card games, hiked up to the Hollywood sign in fog so thick we were literally about 20 yards away from it and couldn’t see any of the letters, and did yoga in the sitting room. And, lo and behold, I was not the only vegetarian present!
Clara, my husband’s cousin, is a great cook, and one evening she made this fantastic butternut squash soup. It’s vegan-friendly, spicy, and absolutely delicious! I have been dreaming of this soup since last year, looking forward to fall/winter squash season so I could make it and share it with you all. Now it’s perfect soup weather, and this filling bowlful will warm your stomach and your taste buds.
It takes about 3½ hours to make from start to finish, and while a lot of that time is inactive, this might be a good dish to prepare ahead if you are having guests, or to save for the weekend. Let’s dig in!
My family was never really big on appetizers. But that’s probably because my mom is super punctual. When she says, “Dinner will be around 2:00,” you can be pretty sure we will be eating no later than 2:30. Amazing.
I, on the other hand, notoriously underestimate how long a meal will take to prepare. I once invited some friends over for a fancy “French” dinner and they had to help me prepare the whole thing because when they showed up—on time—I had only just started making the beurre blanc and the fish was still in the fridge. Thankfully, my darling husband had cut up some cheese and crusty bread, so they didn’t have to starve while they helped me cook (Kimberly and Paul, I am still thankful for your flexibility and kitchen skills!).
So if you are anything like me, you may want to plan a few appetizers to help tide your family over until the big Thanksgiving dinner is ready. Even if you hadn’t had appetizers on the agenda, I have a great munchie for you that takes about 20 minutes to prepare: roasted squash seeds.
My best friend and I have an ongoing argument about which is a greater travesty: box cake mix or store-bought pie crust. Guess which camp I fell in…
Have you ever heard the phrase “as easy as pie”? Because it exists for a reason: pie is incredibly simple. It’s easier than cookies. I mean, you practically can’t go wrong. I’m serious.
The only catch is…you are absolutely not allowed to buy a pre-made crust. Don’t do it! Again, I promise it’s not as scary as you think it will be. It, too, is as easy as pie [crust].
So, I think you should jump on this pie wagon and enjoy some pie with me!
Holy moly, it’s almost Thanksgiving! Let’s talk side dishes.
As a vegetarian, I obviously skip the turkey and the giblet gravy, so my Thanksgiving plate is entirely dependent on the abundance of meat-free sides at the table (which is fine with me…more room for pie!). But I have to admit that Thanksgiving has never been high on my list of holidays that excite me, because I’m not a huge fan of most of the traditional dishes. If I never eat a candied yam, I will be a happy camper. Green bean casserole? No thank you. And you can forget about cranberries (for obvious fruit-hating reasons).
But instead of subsisting entirely on rolls and mashed potatoes, let’s bake up some cheesy, creamy spinach. Capital YUM. And don’t worry…it’s not any healthier for you than the mountain of buttery carbs sitting next to it. But hey, at least it is green!