I awoke on day 215 of the Nowhere To Be Project to snow-covered peaks hovering above me. It is so lovely to be surrounded by postcard beauty, but I’m just not ready for winter yet. Autumn is simply too precious to be cut short by an over-eager winter. Sweaters and colorful falling leaves and crisp (not freezing) air have just arrived and yet they are already being overshadowed by snowflakes! Maybe (hopefully) winter just needed to fire off a warning shot to let us know it is lying in wait. Just a few more weeks, please?
Day 213 of the Nowhere To Be Project brought with it another rainy and cool day to the mountains of Colorado. Over the past week, most days have been similar to today which is rather unusual in the land of 300 sunny days per year. Most everyone is complaining about the rain for one reason or another. I, however, love it! Perhaps my love of gloom and Halloween says something about me as a human being??? Regardless, I used the day to create a lovely rich soup with purple cauliflower. It is colorful, healthy, simple, delicious, vegan (of course), and absolutely perfect for your autumn gatherings. Enjoy!
1- Microchop two large heads of purple cauliflower.
2- Toss the broccoli in a pan (or slow cooker as I did) with four cups of your favorite vegetable stock. I always have vegan stock on hand because I save my stems and scraps throughout the week, regularly simmering them down with herbs, garlic, white wine, water and spices.
3- Simmer until soft.
4- Pour the simmered cauliflower with broth into a blender, adding two tablespoons of olive oil and 1 cup of vegan half and half and blend until smooth and creamy.
5- Serve with freshly ground pink Himalayan sea salt and pepper.
Day 201 of the Nowhere To Be Project brought with it a chilly and rainy autumn day. For me a gloomy and chilly day just screams soup! I adore soup for so many reasons beyond the fact that it warms the soul! It is simple and inexpensive to make no matter where you are (RV, dorm room, etc.). It can be made out of almost anything and is so easy to pack full of nutrients. It is great for make ahead on-the-go and freezer meals, and it is usually very healthy. My soup adoration naturally kicks in gear at this time of year and remains strong until spring.
Today’s yummy soup was creamy broccoli and cheddar. I have struggled to create a satisfying vegan version of this classic soup for a while, but today’s outcome was a breakthrough. I used my slow cooker as I so often do with soups. It is literally set it and forget it cooking with a very gourmet outcome! My soup was bursting with healthy broccoli AND was rich, creamy and cheesy! The incredible flavor of the soup was balanced by a slightly toasted slice of fresh baked sourdough bread. I added a few fresh pea shoots as well for added crunch. Soup weather perfection!
1- Drop four cups of broccoli florets into a slow cooker and cover with four cups of vegetable stock, cooking until the broccoli is very soft.
2- Use a potato masher to break up any large chunks of broccoli in the slow cooker before adding half a cup of vegan half and half and two ounces of your favorite vegan cheddar, whisking everything until blended.
3- Cover and simmer for ten additional minutes before serving.
TIP Once a week I use all my cast aside vegetable and herb stems, leaves, and stalks to create my own vegetable stock. I just drop them all in my slow cooker with a couple cups of fresh water, along with a splash of lemon juice, olive oil, white wine and salt and pepper, simmering for a few hours before draining off the broth when complete.
For many, myself included, autumn is a season filled with festivals, travel and food! In preparation for my favorite time of the year, day 180 of the Nowhere To Be Project is dedicated to sharing the fall-inspired recipe I created yesterday. Vail’s amazing sweater weather paired with my first sighting of both pumpkins and fall color in the leaves had me craving a taste of autumn. I satisfied that urge with the following recipe. I hope you enjoy these delicious cakey cookies smothered in brown sugar mascarpone frosting!
Vegan Pumpkin Cakies
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup organic puréed pumpkin
1/2 cup safflower oil
1 vegan egg (I use Follow Your Heart Vegan Eggs)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3- Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl.
4- Stir wet ingredients together in a large bowl.
5- Use a hand mixer to blend all ingredients together in the large bowl until it resembles creamy peanut butter, adding just a half cup of the dry mixture to the wet at a time.
6- Spoon the batter on the lined baking sheet in golf ball sized drops.
7- Bake for about 15 minutes.
8- Let the cakies cool for about 15-30 minutes before frosting.
Brown Sugar Mascarpone Frosting
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 tablespoons avocado oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons water, plus more for soaking
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4-8 cups powdered sugar (depending on how you’d like the texture of your frosting…less makes a glaze and more make it fluffy)
1- Place cashews and brown sugar in a bowl of water. Cover and soak overnight (ideally 12 hours).
2- Stir cashews before draining the water.
3- Place the cashews in a blender.
3- Add all other ingredients except for the powdered sugar and blend until smooth, scraping sides and adding very small amounts of water when needed.
4- Line a ramekin or small dish with plastic wrap.
5- Spoon cashew mixture into lined ramekin, cover and place in the refrigerator for 12 hours, flipping the sealed mascarpone once at the halfway mark.
6- Remove the mascarpone from the plastic wrap and dump into a large bowl.
7- Using a hand mixer, blend the cashew mixture with 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
8- Frost the cooled pumpkin cakies, sprinkling a dash of brown sugar on top of each for the finishing touch.
*Note: These can easily be converted to whoopee pies by sandwiching the mascarpone frosting between two cakies.
Today, day 179 of the Nowhere To Be Project, brought me cooler air and my first official pumpkin sighting of the season. Unlike nearly everywhere else in the United States, the temperatures in the Vail Valley hovered in the mid 60s today. Despite the rampant Labor Day celebrations in town, the cooler air helped to put everyone in sweater-mode. As I drove through the mountains, spotting the first tinge of yellow on the leaves of the Aspen trees, I was inspired to plan a few trips. The goal for my fall travel is singular, to witness the awe-inspiring colors of mother nature as she shuts the door on summer. Autumn is my absolute favorite time of year and even though it has not officially started, its hypnotic lure is beckoning as witnessed in the yummy vegan Pumpkin Cakies with Brown Sugar Mascarpone Frosting that I created this afternoon (recipe to follow tomorrow).