Thanksgiving a la Vegology

There were a lot of firsts this Thanksgiving. And it was the best Thanksgiving I can remember.

It was the first time I hosted Thanksgiving dinner at my place.

It was the first time I spent Thanksgiving with my best friend.

It was the first time the Ravens had a Thanksgiving day game.

Because Kyle and I had to fit in three separate Thanksgiving family events, we did a lot of schedule shuffling before we compromised on an itinerary. The result was that we got to see almost all of our loved ones during the holiday, even though our families live 200 miles apart. It was delightful to visit with everyone, and I owe a major THANK YOU to my mom, dad and sister, who drove down to Richmond from Baltimore to make it all possible.

This is not Thanksgiving at my house. This is a cruise ship.

We started by driving out to a horse farm in Caroline County. There Kyle’s dad and his wife hosted a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I had a drink and nibbled on sides, because I had another meal to eat that night.

Then I drove back to Richmond to prepare dinner #2 with my family and Kyle. Three out of five people in attendance are not fans of turkey, so we knew from the start that we weren’t going the traditional route. The only requirement from my family was that we give our undivided attention to the Ravens game at 8:20 PM. My biggest challenge was that I was away from home until about 6:30 PM so I did not have time to prepare and serve an elaborate meal before kickoff.

I had the idea in the shower last week. I always come up with my best ideas while in the shower. I decided to do a slow cooked vegetarian chili (normal football fare in my home) plus a baked potato bar with all the toppings we could possibly want on our spuds.

This is where I want to make a joke about how it was “totally tuber-ular” but I won’t.

Okay, maybe I did just make that joke. Sorry. Can I make it up to you with some steamy chili shots?

The feast consisted of:

  • Baked sweet potatoes, baked russet potatoes
  • Vegetarian chili
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Homemade cheddar cheese sauce
  • Shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • Sliced avocado
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Crumbled vegan “bacon”
  • Sliced jalapeƱos
  • Salsa
  • Hot sauce
  • On the side: orange glazed baby carrots

I think everyone loved the tater bar, and it got us fed just in time for the main event. I highly recommend it if you need to make a no-hassle dinner for a crowd. Less time in the kitchen means more time for family and friends!

I failed to take a picture of all of us in our gear, so I’ll show you one from the 2010 playoffs instead.

Again, cruise ship.

I also failed to take a picture of this amazing dessert that I made: Pear Cranberry and Ginger Snap Crumble. Topped with some local Homestead Creamery vanilla ice cream, it was a smash hit!

The next day, all five of us headed over to Kyle’s aunt’s house for an Italian dinner for ten. We had so much fun at the kids table. Mind you, all “kids” were over the age of 22.

We had a delicious dinner, followed by party games and a movie. I learned a lot about our families during a round of The Game of Things. I’m going to leave it at that.

I am so thankful that I was able to be surrounded by the people I love for the whole weekend! I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Hope you had a tasty and memorable Thanksgiving weekend too.


Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash and Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

Thank you to everyone who commented with congratulations on our new home. Kyle and I are very excited and hope to move in by Christmas. Can you believe we are nearing the end of 2011? I feel like summer was not that long ago and here we are a week before Thanksgiving. Have you planned your menu yet?

I was thinking about vegetarian “special occasion” main dishes last week and decided to mix things up with a new grain. You might recall that barley was served on the vegetarian plate at the Foodbuzz Festival 2011 gala dinner. I had tasted barley in soup before, and of course I’d also had it in beer but I had never tried barley as a side dish before the Foodbuzz Festival. So when I wanted to make a quinoa stuffed acorn squash last week and discovered that I had to run to the store for some more quinoa, I decided to pick up barley instead.

This dish was spicy, nutty and a little sweet. It’s a protein powerhouse with garbanzo beans and barley in every bite. I found it to be very filling and delicious. Served with a fresh salad or sauteed greens, this stuffed squash is a hefty vegetarian main dish that is perfect for Thanksgiving.

And in case you need even more inspiration for your holiday menus, here are my top vegology recipe picks for a very veggie holiday weekend.

Veggie Pot Pie – all the comfort, none of the meat

Cauliflower Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce – very scalable and creative, can serve two or twenty two

Butternut Squash with Spinach and Feta – a great side dish for potluck meals

Pumpkin Chili – football anyone?

And here is a new one to add to the list:

Barley Stuffed Acorn Squash (serves 4)


  • 2 large acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • cooking spray
  • 1 cup uncooked barley
  • 2-1/2 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 – 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup raisins (or dried cranberries if you wish)
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare a rimmed cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place squash halves cut side down on cookie sheet. Bake 30-40 minutes or until tender.
  3. While the squash is baking, prepare the filling. Heat barley and 2 cups of the vegetable broth in a saucepan over medium heat until boiling, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Heat olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add carrots and cook 4-5 minutes. Then add garbanzo beans, raisins, curry powder and cumin. Stir to combine.
  5. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of vegetable broth to the pan with the vegetables and let simmer until vegetables are tender and liquid has reduced.
  6. When the barley is finished cooking, combine with vegetable mixture in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. When the acorn squash is done baking, flip the halves over and butter the flesh. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the insides of the squash halves. Plate and fill with barley mixture, serving one squash half per person.