Thanksgiving Testing: Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

Oops! I did it again. Every year after MoFo ends, my blog goes silent. Instead of keeping up the blogging momentum gained during a month of steady posting, I put a full stop on my posts and return to my lazy ways. My readers abandon me, I feel ashamed of my slothdom, and it’s bad news all around.

However, I’m going to resist the temptation of not posting for “just one more day…” because, hey, I’ve got stuff to say! I’ll recap my Italy trip soon, but first – cheesecake.

This year, I’m hosting Thanksgiving at my place. This is both exciting and terrifying. S and I will be cooking for our families, and I want to create a delicious meat-free meal that everyone will enjoy. I’m planning my crafty decorations, stocking up on sale-priced Soyatoo, and generally attempting to be the perfect hostess if it kills me! For the past few months I’ve been gathering promising Thanksgiving recipes, with the idea that I’ll try many of them out, weed out the weak ones, and find the stellar ones to serve for dinner. Or, after dinner, in the case of my first trial.

A piece of layered cheesecake on a plate; the bottom layer is white and the top is orange. In the background is another plated slice as well as a pumpkin.

Cheesecakes have layers!

I made Susan‘s Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake, a decidedly non-fat-free recipe on an otherwise fat-free blog. Although I try to keep my diet low in fat because it just makes me feel all-around healthier, I am a firm believer in enjoying myself to the fullest on holidays. So this recipe seemed like an obvious choice, as Susan’s recipes have always turned out really well.

Unfortunately, this one missed the mark a bit for me. There was nothing wrong with the cheesecake, really, but it just lacked a certain oomph that I want from my holiday desserts. The pumpkin flavor got lost somewhere, and it tasted a bit bland overall. That’s not to say that I didn’t eat nearly the entire thing in the course of a week and fully enjoy it. :) But it’s back to my Google Doc as I search for a similar cheesecake-type dessert to serve at Thanksgiving.

What’s your favorite dessert to serve at holidays? What tips do you have for entertaining and prepping a big meal? Have you tried and loved any great pumpkin cheesecake recipes? :)


Eggless Easter: Asparagus & Mushroom Quiche

Mom and I have been keepin’ a big secret for the past month and a half – we didn’t tell anyone else in my family that I was flying home for the weekend. We had fun planning ways to surprise my dad and my sister (my brother’s in Denmark on a study abroad program, lucky boy!), and they were both shocked and delighted to see me. It was pretty hilarious, too – I dressed up as my sister and curled up on the couch with her laptop, and when my dad came home, I pretended I was her. I can do a passable impression of her voice, and since she always wears a hoodie with the hood up, he couldn’t see my face. So he thought I was Rhiannon, and then was utterly confused when the real Rhiannon came into the living room and greeted him. Muahaha! Classic.

The whole weekend was really pretty wonderful. Some of our family from Maine came down, and Mom, Rhiannon, my cousin, and I talked into the wee hours of the morn on the night before Easter. On Easter morning, Rhiannon and I hid candy-filled plastic eggs for the kids, who enjoyed  the hunt. Heck, I enjoyed it too – it was 65+ degrees out! After all that egg hiding and hunting, though, we were ready for dinner.

Dinner was pretty momentous because we had a totally vegetarian meal. Given that at least one of my aunts is a pretty diehard omnivore, this was really notable. Dad made stuffed manicotti; some were stuffed with cheese and then others were stuffed with a vegan spinach, artichoke, and mushroom mixture. All our side veggies were vegan, too. I contributed by cooking up a really impressive recipe from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen – a delightful Asparagus and Mushroom Quiche.

Ain't no eggs here, baby!

I’ll admit that I used a store-bought regular crust instead of making the brown rice crust, but other than that (and a sad lack of onion powder in my parents’ pantry!) I followed Susan’s recipe down to the letter. I was really pleased with the results, too – I loved the quiche’s creamy texture. Mom thought this was fabulous; she enjoyed it even more than I did!

Even though none of the desserts were vegan (I dropped the ball there!), my aunt made me vegan candied nuts and the Easter bunny provided me with lots of vegan goodies. My Easter basket was filled with vegan fruit snacks, little chocolate eggs, black licorice bites, and a little baggie of carob-spirulina “energy chunks” from a local natural foods store. The Easter bunny also gave me a pair of sandals, some seeds for the garden I’ll be planting soon (!!!), and a cute little carrying case for my GPS, handmade by my mommy. :)

All in all, I had a really wonderful Easter break. The only bad part was catching a flight out of Rhode Island at 6:00 Monday morning, getting into Madison at 10:15, and then heading into work for noon. Yuck-o-rama! Such is the life of a working woman, however.

Anyway, hope that those of you who celebrate it had a lovely holiday! Ciao!

I could go for a piece of this right now... too bad the leftovers are in RI!