Pumpkin Farm + Pumpkin Pie!

Happy Fall / Winter to you!

I have been so behind on posting but I am very excited to share with you a new fundraiser coming soon. :)

In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about an awesome place called Tanaka Farms and also post a great vegan pumpkin pie and pie crust recipe I recently came across!

My trip to Tanaka Farms was actually a surprise– I had no idea where I was going!! But my friend said let’s go for a trip and off we went.  I had suspicions we were going to a pumpkin patch since this visit actually took place back in October, but it was much more than that– it was a full blown farm!  I asked what made them think to bring me here and he said, “Because you love farms.” lol That I do!  My dream is to live on a farm and rescue all the animals in the world.  One day, one day.

But for now, I can just visit this 30 acre farm– I never knew there was one that close to me right in Orange County!

Tanaka Farms grows 60 different fruits and vegetables and when we arrived, there were TONS of pumpkins all over the grounds– as far as the eye can see! Small ones, big ones, orange ones, white ones, round ones, lopsided ones.  Everywhere!

We also went on a wagon ride to tour the farm, walked through a corn maze (it’s probably more entertaining for the little ones), visited their market, and I had to walk by their petting zoo to see how the animals were being treated…they looked clean and seemed in good spirits and there were employees throughout to make sure everyone was petting gently and behaving properly.  I wish the animals weren’t stuck in a petting zoo, but at least the conditions were good and they looked healthy.

We ended up not taking any pumpkins home that day (for fear we would let them sit and go bad before we did anything with them and didn’t want to waste a good pumpkin!) but it was a lovely time!  One piece of advice/reminder I have to give– check out the weather report before heading out– it’s all outdoors and it ended up getting pretty toasty for us as we arrived mid-afternoon.  Closed toed shoes are a plus too!

Tanaka Farms now has Christmas trees which will be available until Dec. 16th.  Throughout the year they have different events, such as strawberry, watermelon, and harvest tours.  For more information, visit TanakaFarms.com.

Ever since that trip and as the holidays rolled around, I have craved nothing more than a slice of pumpkin pie!

I got SUPER excited when I saw that Native Foods had it on their menu.  I ordered, picked up, ate dinner, and was all ready to eat my pie when I realized, they gave me extra corn bread and no pie!!!!!! To say the least I was very disappointed but too lazy to drive back.  They did make up for this sad mistake the next time I ordered and mentioned what had happened– they gave me two slices and I was a happy customer.  The pie was yummy and I really liked their granola crust.

So when I was looking for a vegan pumpkin pie recipe, I was looking for something super quick and easy, as it was already Thanksgiving afternoon!  The flavor of the pie is exactly how I remember it to be– the only thing I wasn’t sure of is while it baked on the top, the inside is solid but on the soft side.  The directions say to bake then chill in fridge which I did.  So I will try again and see if I can get the pie to be less soft, but either way it was so good and satisfied my pumpkin pie craving.  The crust was also VERY easy to make and flaky and delicious!

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and having a great holiday season so far!

Vegan Pie Crust

Thank you B.B. Grimm for posting this recipe on Food.com!

This recipe yields 1 pie crust for a 9″ pie pan.  I think the one I used was smaller so I had extra dough which can be used to make mini pies or quiches, etc.  It’s great to have on hand!

– 1 1/2 cups flour (can be white or whole wheat or combo of both)
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 1/2 cup oil
– 2 tablespoons orange juice (or vegan soymilk– I used sparkling cider because I had a bottle right next to me)

In a large bowl, place all the dry ingredients and mix well.

Add liquids, mix with a fork until the ingredients become a crumbly consistency.

Pat into 9-inch pan with fingertips.  Fill with pie filling or set aside until ready to use.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

This recipe is from an article on About.com posted by Jolinda Hackett.  I was able to get 2 pies out of this recipe.

You will need a blender or food processor for this recipe.

– 1 pkg of firm tofu
– 1- 16 oz can of organic pumpkin puree
– 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– 3/4 tsp ground or freshly minced ginger
– 1/2 tsp nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp salt
-1/3 cup oil
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 cup brown sugar
– 1 1/2 TBS molasses

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth– that’s it!

Pour into pie crust.

Bake for one hour.  Remove from oven, let cool and chill in refrigerator before serving.

Figgy + Fruity + Nutty Granola

I was trying to think of a way to use up the leftover figs I had and came across a great granola recipe to use it it!  Granola is delicious and easy to throw together– ever since I tried my hand at it, I keep some plain oats around– in case I want to make a batch or in case I accidentally burn a batch haha.  (They cook so fast at the end!)

Enjoy it as a snack, in cereal form, or make a parfait with some fruit and soy yogurt!

Figgy + Fruity + Nutty Granola

Based on Ina Garten’s homemade granola recipe found on FoodNetwork.com.  She was inspired by Sarah Chase’s Open House Cookbook.  Just switched out the honey for agave nectar.  Feel free to take out and add what you don’t like / like!

– 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (I get mine in bulk at Whole Foods)
– 1 cups shredded coconut (original recipe calls for sweetened but I opted for not sweetened coconut to cut down on sugar)
–  1 cup sliced almonds
– 3/8 cup vegetable oil
– 1/4 to 1/2 cup agave nectar
– 1 cup figs, cut into bite-sized pieces
– 1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into bite-sized pieces (mine is without)
– 1/2 cup dried cherries
– 1/2 cup dried cranberries
– 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted cashews (I didn’t have any on hand so used walnuts instead)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, coconut, and almonds.  Add the oil and agave nectar.  Stir well with a wooden spoon or spatula until everything is evenly coated.

Pour onto a 13 by 18 by 1 inch sheet pan lined with parchment paper or foil.

Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes, until golden bring.  Make sure to stir occasionally and check every 20 minutes or so to make sure it doesnt burn!

Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool, continuing to stir occassionally.  Then add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Store in an airtight container.

Date + Fig Scones + Almond Milk + Orange Marmalade

Happy Mother’s Day!

One of my mom’s favorites are scones!  I got busy in the kitchen this morning and mixed, baked, blended, and boiled to make a batch of fig and date scones as well as raw almond milk–

– and a quick batch of organic orange marmalade.

Her favorite flowers are freesias and I was able to find a beautiful pink bouquet at Trader Joe’s the night before.  I split the bunch up between three recycled glass jars and the buds are slowly blooming as they adorn the dining room table.

The marmalade complemented the scones well and the unsweetened almond milk was the perfect match for the two.

I hope you are having a wonderful mother’s day with your loved ones and enjoying the rest of this weekend!

Date + Fig Scones

This recipe is adapted from Good Life Eat’s basic scone recipe.  It is perfect to get creative with and add in different juices, fruits, and zests, as well as experiment with different flours (you can make a gluten-free version).  I wanted to use some of the fruits that are in season which is how I came up with adding fig and dates to it.

– 2/3 cup sugar
– 2 cups whole wheat flour
– 1 cup oat flour
– 1 cup white flour
– 4 teaspoons baking powder
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup cold vegan butter (such as Earth Balance)
– 2 egg replacers
– 3/4 cup buttermilk
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1/2 to 1 cup of dried figs, chopped
– 1/2 to 1 cup of dried dates, chopped
– 1 1/2 TBS cinnamon

In a large bowl combine the sugar, flours, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

Cut the vegan butter into the flour mixture.

In the middle of the dry ingredients, make a well.  Add the egg replacers, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Stir until starting to come together, then add the dried fruit.  Continue to stir until well combined, or use one hand to combine the ingredients if easier (which is what I did.)

Knead in the bowl a few times.  The dough will be slightly sticky, but you should be able to work with it easily.  If you feel it’s too sticky, sprinkle a little bit of flour on it and on your hands.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Divide the dough into small balls in equal size.  I didn’t make mine too perfect since I like the natural textures and look of the dough.  place on the parchment paper.

Bake at 350F for 15-25 minutes (it took mine closer to 25 minutes to finish baking).

Cool on a wire rack and serve warm.

If you want to freeze the extras:  cool them completely and place in a ziplock bag.  Freeze for up to a month.

Almond Milk

Making anything from fresh after having a box/canned/bottled version of it is always amazing!  It’s funny how different fresh almond milk tastes to me vs. the kind you get in the stores.  I made a very pure version– didn’t add any sweeteners or other flavorings, it’s just raw almonds and water.

This recipe does require you to soak the almonds, overnight if possible, so I soaked the almonds the night before to make sure they were ready for me in the morning.

A friend of mine had asked before about the fat content in almond milk so I did a little research.  Although it has more fat content than soy milk and skim milk, it actually has fewer calories than both!  Unsweetened almond milk may contain about 40 calories, while soy milk and skim milk has about double the amount.  Almond milk (as well as soy milk) also contains fats that are good for you, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.  Those help to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, and protects against cardiovascular and neurological diseases.  It also contains a good dose of dietary fiber, between 1 to 4 grams depending on the richness and fortification of the milk.  It is also a great source of B vitamins.  With all that said, I think you should try to make some yourself and reap all these benefits!  Also, when you make it at home you can make sure you use organic almonds and control the amount of sweetness you’d like in it.

I used a Vita-mix for this recipe which definitely makes the job a lot easier, but you can also use a regular blender.  You will also need cheesecloth if you want your milk to be very smooth and free of any almond bits.

Last comment– it’s kind of cool to me that you blend this up and even though the almonds have that brownish skin, the milk is white!  I just thought about that as I was looking through the photos.  Anyway, try this out and enjoy having fresh almond milk in your fridge :)

As with all things fresh with no added preservatives,  consume as soon as possible and if needed keep in the fridge in an airtight jar, bottle, or container, and drink or use within the next few days.

-1 cup of organic raw almonds, soaked in water overnight
– 3-5 cups of water
– agave nectar (optional)

Drain the raw almonds.  Place in blender along with 3 to 5 cups of water.  (You can start with 3, see how you like the thickness and add more water if needed.  Because I didn’t strain the milk, I add more water to thin it out a bit.)

Blend until smooth, or as smooth as possible.

If you want to smooth it out even more, pour the milk through cheese cloth.  (You can save the almond meal and bake with it or add it to a salad.)

Serve as is or chilled.  Enjoy!

Orange Marmalade

An easy way to make fresh marmalade!  I also like this because you can make a small amount and finish it, instead of having a jar lingering in your fridge for months when you just needed / wanted a little bit.

A food processor will make this recipe a bit easier to make, but is not necessary.

This recipe is from Food.com by carol in orlando.

– 1 organic orange, whole, washed very well
– 1/2 cup of sugar  (I don’t like things too sweet but if you do, you may want to add more sugar)
– 2 TBS of water

Take your clean orange and cut off both ends.

Cut into larger chunks to be placed in a food processor until the orange is in tiny pieces, or finely chop by hand.

Place the orange, sugar, and water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Continue to boil for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Let cool and serve or place in a jar with a tight fitting lid.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Swedish House Mafia, Swedish Picture Frame, + Swedish “Meat”balls

All the items in this post have one thing in common– Sweden!

1) Swedish House Mafia- My friend Tal sent me this video and at first I was like what the heck is this!  BUT here’s a hint, if you love dogs, you must watch this music video, it is awesome and hilarious! (Thank you Tal for sharing!)

2) Swedish Picture Frame- Love or hate IKEA, this is a super cute hanging picture frame from the Swedish home furnishings shop!  It’s not a traditional Swedish style frame or anything, but it’s made in Sweden and is named Fiskevik so I think it works with the theme.  Plus it’s $5.99- can’t beat that!

3) Swedish “Meat”balls- And while at IKEA, I decided I wanted to see if I could find a vegan version of a Swedish meatball recipe.  Which I did and I loved since the main ingredient was potato.  But the best part was the ground almonds I think, which gave it an interesting flavor.  Below is the recipe as well as one for gravy– which you will you have to use your imagination to picture since I burnt the whole thing while re-heating!  Oops.  Always check to make sure you have turned off the burner!

Swedish Meatless Balls

This recipe is from food.com, thank you Dreamer in Ontario for posting!  The original recipe calls for frying the meatballs, which you can do, or you can try baking them as I did, which is what is instructed below.

- 3 or 4 medium potatoes, cubed (I used Russet potatoes)
– 1 vegan bouillon
– 1 cup ground almonds (I ground up almonds, cashews, and walnuts since I was short on almonds– just put it in a food processor or you can purchase it ground)
– 4 TBS flax seed
– 1 medium onion, chopped
–  salt and pepper, to taste
– olive oil, for cooking

In a large pot, place potatoes, vegan bouillon, and enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are soft.  Stir mid way to make sure the bouillon has dissolved and is evenly distributed.

Drain water from potatoes, saving a cup to make gravy with.  Mash and let cool.

While the potatoes are cooling, heat up some olive oil in a frying pan.  Add onions and cook until they start to brown.

Place the flax seed in a small bowl, add 1/4 cup hot water and let stand for about 10 minutes.  Once the seeds absorb the water, they will get sticky and gooey, which is what we want.

When the potatoes have cooled, add the flax seed and water it was soaking in, ground almonds, cooked onions, and salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Shape the potato mixture into small balls and line on the baking sheet.

Bake the meatballs for about 20 to 30 minutes, until they are heated through and outsides are crisp and turning golden brown.

Vegan Gravy

From Food.com, posted by Sharon123.

– 2 cups of vegetable broth OR 2 cups of water + a vegan bouillon
– 1/4 to 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (the less yeast you use, the less cheesier it is)
– 3 TBS cornstarch
– spices of your choice, to taste– I like to use onion powder, garlic powder, herbs de provence since that has a little bit of everything)
– salt and pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan, heat up the broth or water.

Ladle some of the heated liquid into a small bowl.  Add the cornstarch to this, whisk well, then set aside.

To the pot of liquid, add the nutritional yeast and seasonings/spices, stirring until dissolved.

Add the cornstarch mixture to the pot, and cook on low heat until the liquid thickens (about a few minutes).

Add salt and pepper, and more seasonings if desired.

This is great over the Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, veggies, and pasta!  (I will make it cheesier by adding more of the nutritional yeast when I use this over pasta.)

Baked Gluten Free Quinoa + Chickpea Burgers

Cooking the quinoa in veggie broth or using a bouillon plus all the spices really gives this gluten-free burger lots of flavor!  It’s so good, I could eat it alone, without ketchup or mustard or anything!

I usually have all of the ingredients needed for this around the house and it’s also a good way to use up any leftover cooked quinoa.  Just a few tid bits about quinoa that have been helpful to me:

– The liquid to quinoa ratio is 2 to 1 (so 2 cups of water to 1 cup of uncooked quinoa).
– 1 cup of raw quinoa makes about 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
–  Quinoa offers complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids your body cannot produce, so eat up!

The original recipe calls for frying the burgers but I am opting to bake them for an easier and healthier version.  This is definitely a good recipe to keep in mind when you need to offer something delicious, fun (have a make your own burger set up and how cute are mini finger food sized burgers??), and easy that works for many types of diets!

Baked Gluten Free Quinoa + Chickpea Burgers

Thank you savvyvegetarian.com for this delicious recipe!

You will need a food processor for this recipe.

Makes about six to eight 2 1/2″ to 3″ patties for mini burgers.

– 1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa (1/2 cup raw quinoa + 1 cup of vegetable broth OR 1 cup of water with a vegan bouillon) *I used red quinoa which to me looks a little more burger-y, but you can use regular quinoa as well
– 1/2 cup mashed cooked chickpeas + 2 TBS water
– 2 TBS of egg replacer
– 1 TBS soy sauce
– 1 tsp dried basil
– 1/2 tsp dried thyme
– 1/2 tsp ground cumin
– 1 tsp ground coriander
– 1/2 tsp paprike
– 1/2 tsp garlic powder
– 4 TBS tapioca flour (to make gluten free) OR whole wheat flour
– salt and pepper, to taste
– toppings/other stuff for your burger: gluten free buns, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, red onion, pickles, mustard, ketchup…

Place everything in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for about an hour so the patties are easier to shape.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Start making mini patties, about 1/2″ thickness.  Repeat until baking sheet is filled.

Bake for about 30 minutes until outsides are crisp and the inside is heated through.  The insides are still soft when cooking this way; if you want a stiffer bigger all the way through, try reducing heat to 275F and check until patties are done to your desire.

If you want to freeze some patties for later, place each patty between two sheets of wax or parchment paper and store them in a plastic container.  Thaw them in the fridge first before cooking.

Top with your favorite veggies and condiments and enjoy!