Broccoli & Tomato Holiday Wreath ♥

Broccoli & Tomato Holiday Wreath ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, topped with a lemon butter sauce. Dramatic to serve! Tastes great! Easier than it looks! Low Carb!
May we just agree to be amazed just how much broccoli and tomatoes really do look like an evergreen wreath with red berries?! Stunning! So very festive!

~recipe updated, first published way back in 2007~
~more recently updated recipes~

WAY BACK IN 2007 Before Christmas awhile back, my friends' mother called, asking for help with a recipe. Mrs. K had seen it in a magazine – or wait, maybe a cookbook? she wasn't sure – and was desperate to find it again. She recalled the basics, broccoli and tomatoes in a wreath shape. But what would bind them? We couldn't think. Not eggs, no, and certainly not gelatin. Cheese maybe? She thought not.

So Mrs K returned to her hunt. Many days and magazine piles later, at last she found her recipe. "It's just butter," she exclaimed exultantly. "Do you really think that just butter can hold it all together?"

It can! And this festive vegetable dish – buttery yes, but still definitely a vegetable – is absolutely delicious. The ingredient list is short and it's way less fussy than it looks. It does call for a ring mold so check your grandmother's attic for her old "salad form", that's where mine came from, or perhaps the Goodwill or a thrift shop. No luck? I think a round cake pan with a bowl in the center is worth a try, too. Do try to use a shallow cake pan, however, so that it can be inverted onto a plate without upsetting the broccoli.

NO RING MOLD? NO ENERGY TO FUSS? STILL LOVE the FESTIVE LOOK? Just cook the broccoli and tomatoes as directed, then put into a shallow casserole dish. Cover and warm through. I think it'll be just fine.

No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie ♥

No-Bake Pumpkin Cream Pie ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 A simple creamy pumpkin pie, part pie, part cheesecake in an easy no-rolling press-in gingersnap crust. Totally simple and pleasing! graphic button small size size 10

Does anyone else "count" the weeks? Once upon a time in the paper-based dark ages, I kept track of my life with slim leather calendars that numbered the weeks, Week 1 in January through Week 52 in December. Ever since, I use week numbers to track a now-fourteen-year recipe collection from Kitchen Parade, my online food column, and a twelve-year collection of vegetable recipes here on A Veggie Venture. Week numbers? They mark my March of Time.

The point? Somehow – how did this happen? – here it is, Week 47 in 2016. And these last remaining weeks of the year that include Thanksgiving and the rush to Christmas? They flyyyyyyyyyyy by in a blur.

Since Father's Day, the March of Time here has been punctuated by #PieDayFriday. At first, seven days between pies felt like, well, a week between pies. Now, with the busy-ness of the holidays fast approaching, it's like whoosh, I make pie one day and a couple hours later, it's Friday again.

So simple is good. And this pie? Totally simple good. Easy to make, easy to eat, part pie, part cheesecake. For Thanksgiving, I"ll return to this long-time favorite traditional pumpkin pie sweetened with honey, not sugar or corn syrup, Honey Pumpkin Pie. But until then? and afterward? Pumpkin Cream it is.

Sweet Potato-Chocolate Swirl Pie ♥

Sweet Potato-Chocolate Swirl Pie ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 A spectacular sweet potato pie, an earthy mix of roasted sweet potatoes and chocolate. graphic button small size size 10

So I've got this little pie thing thing on. It started at Fathers Day five months ago, this idea to make a pie every Friday. Talk about fun! I call it #PieDayFriday and y'know, whether you bake one pie a year or a couple a week, I'd love for you to join in. Consider that a formal invitation, okay?!

Every so often, I'll share a pie recipe that totally worked. This sweet potato pie? It totally worked. Truth is, it's my very first sweet potato pie and out of the gate, it's not like me to make anything but a plain, perfect classic. But thank goodness that the combo of earthy sweet potato and chocolate work so beautifully together. I especially love how the chocolate swirl has almost the same texture as the sweet potato filling. It's like a chocolate sweet potato. Yeah. Good stuff.

When you make a pie every week, for #PieDayFriday or just because, there's room/time for experimentation. For this pie, I employed some of the techniques learned from How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust from Serious Eats. So far, I love three separate crust techniques. The first is "smashing" bits of butter with flour instead of cutting it in. The second is rolling out the pie dough before letting it rest/chill in the fridge for the gluten to develop. The third is using sugar instead of pie weights, wonderful! For this particular pie, I used those three techniques on my long-time recipe that soooo many cooks love, Flaky Tender Pie Crust and they worked beautifully, maybe better than the original!

If you don't have a pie slated for Thanksgiving, this would be a great addition. But it's also a great fall pie, no need to wait for Thanksgiving or really-truly-right? to risk trying a new recipe for a holiday meal with such high expectations and reliance on tradition.

Pumpkin Granola ♥

Pumpkin Granola, another healthy breakfast ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 Homemade granola with oats, pumpkin seeds and nuts, lightly sweetened with maple syrup and brown sugar, gently spiced with our favorite fall spices. Vegan, gluten-free and high-protein. graphic button small size size 10

So you know that little ditty that goes, "Thirty days has September, April, June and November"? Ha! In food-blog-world, you'd think that November had just one day, the fourth Thursday aka Thanksgiving. So we'd best prepare ourselves for an onslaught of shouting. "Make this! No-no-no! Make this!"

I'm not without guilt myself, it's why A Veggie Venture has this amazing collection of Favorite Recipes for Thanksgiving's Favorite Vegetables. So while it's not yet written down, my Thanksgiving menu is pretty much set. Yours too? So let's concentrate on the other 29 days, shall we?

Let's start with breakfast. Or an after-school snack. Or a pocketful for an afternoon pick-me-up. This is the granola I've made a dozen times in the last year, even my 90-year old father, who looked at it some askance at first, is now happy to see it on the breakfast table.

Sausage & Cabbage Skillet ♥

Sausage & Cabbage Skillet, another Quick Supper ♥ AVeggieVenture.com
graphic button small size size 10 Today's quick supper recipe: Supper in a flash, a big ol' skillet of rustic and homey sausage, potato and cabbage that turns quite sweet and succulent. Low carb, even with potatoes; even lower carb with turnip. Gluten free so long as sausage is gluten free. For Weight Watchers, just 6 SmartPoints. graphic button small size size 10

Ever since my 90-year old father came to live with us last spring, supper's been increasingly an adventure as his appetite becomes increasingly less adventurous. In recent weeks, he's asked for salads from an "American" garden (that means "familiar" vegetables versus a plea for locally grown garden vegetables) and "more meat and more potatoes". (And more cookies and more donuts and more ice cream and more pie, but then, that's a whole 'nother story.) Okay then, I'm on it!

This recipe from Lisa at the Homesick Texan is one of a handful of recipes that pleased all three of us at the table and went straight from cryptic notes to a 3x5 recipe card for easy access again and again. Lisa may consider this rustic, home-cooked skillet "Texan" but I swear, this one-skillet sausage supper has "Midwest" written all over it. The first time, any one of us, all products of the Midwest, might have downed an entire skillet on our own. It tasted that good.

How to Roast a Whole Pumpkin ♥

How to Roast a Whole Pumpkin (or Better Yet, Kabocha Squash)  ♥ AVeggieVenture.com
graphic button small size size 10 How to bake a whole pumpkin in the oven, the pros and cons both. Plus, a huge tip, why I've stopped roasting actual pumpkins and instead roast Kabocha Squash (pictured). graphic button small size size 10

WAY BACK IN 2007 I WROTE ABOUT ROASTING PUMPKINS WHOLE IN THE OVEN Talk about easy – just throw the pumpkin in the oven, whole, and once it's done roasting, it slices open like butter, no more finagling with a knife, no more worry about losing a finger. But then, what to make with the pumpkin flesh? (While we're deciding, scoop out the pumpkin seeds to make Spicy Sweet Pumpkin Seeds. They'll help!)

For awhile now, I've read/heard that "canned pumpkin is just as good as fresh". So I decided to figure it out for myself and last year roasted my first pumpkin. What???? You didn't know that??? Well, that's because the roasting process went fine but the pumpkin flesh itself was so blah. And yes, I roasted a sugar pie pumpkin (and not a pumpkin for jack o'lanterns) which by all rights should be good.

This year, the roasting process again went fine. I didn't do side-by-side comparisons, but the flesh of this year's roasted pumpkin made one delicious pumpkin pie and pretty light-orange pancakes until the last bit turned into a pumpkin smoothie. Unfortunately I didn't save enough for Pumpkin Bread Pudding which my friend Ann served at our book club last week and ... yumm.

Day 140: Yellow Squash Soup with Spinach ♥
aka Early Autumn Leaves in Soup

Yellow Squash Soup with Spinach ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, just squash, bell peppers and spinach in a simple soup but somehow ever so much more. Low carb. WW friendly. Easily vegan.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's easy soup recipe: Just yellow squash, bell peppers and spinach in a simple soup but somehow ever so much more. Great color, low carb and just one or two points for Weight Watchers. When made with vegetable broth, not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated, first published way back in 2005~
~more recently updated recipes~

FIRST THE POETIC It's still summer-warm here in eastern Missouri and even as I write, outside the cicadas are calling, described by Faulkner as the "rasp of summer, August". But this afternoon, an early-turning tree in the neighborhood began to glimmer with autumn gold. It'll be mid- to late-October before peak leaf color reaches the Mississippi and Missouri river valleys. Until then, our rolling hills will be a mix of green with yellow, then yellow with green. Just like this pretty soup!

NOW THE PRACTICAL If you've over-indulged for a few days and need/want to cut back, BRING ON THE CAKE. It's counter-intuitive, I know, but follow the logic.

graphic button small size size 10 You're feeling so full, intuition says to eat little, perhaps nothing.
graphic button small size size 10 But your body doesn't understand that rationale. If it's deprived of the calories it needs, it fears the onset of starvation and changes your metabolism to preserve body energy, to form body fat.
graphic button small size size 10 So ... the trick is to trick the body. Give it the calories it needs but in calorie-dense foods without bulk – i.e., cake.
graphic button small size size 10 Once you feel less full (with exercise added, for me it takes a day) return to the normal regimen, providing the body, each day, the tight range of calories (and nutrients and bulk) it needs but no more – i.e., not much cake.