Giving Thanks.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday yesterday!  My Thanksgiving gift to myself and to my family, was taking the night off to enjoy good food and great company.  This was my first Thanksgiving ever spent away from my family, and I’ll admit it was a little strange.  But it was fun to start some new traditions with Casey’s family, as well as bring some of my old ones with me (hello DOG show!). 

You may be surprised to find out that instead of slaving away in the kitchen, I actually spent most of my holiday relaxing on the couch and spending time visiting with family.  We had a HUGE Thanksgiving dinner crowd, and I was only in charge of a few dishes, most of which I got out of the way on Wednesday.

Casey’s mom made delicious vegan pumpkin cupcakes, and on Thursday afternoon I made fresh vegan pumpkin spiced buttercream and brought it over to Toby’s house to pipe it on when we got there.

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I used one of my favorite time saver baking tricks – making a piping bag out of a big Ziploc!  Just fill it with icing, and cut a small whole in one corner, then squeeze gently and pipe on.  I couldn’t resist shooting some straight into my mouth.

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They were goooorgeous.  I made the buttercream with coconut oil and Earth balance this time, because I couldn’t find natural vegetable shortening and I couldn’t bring myself to use the Crisco.  It worked out great, although a little bit less stable than the shortening version.

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While I piped frosting, my gorgeous new sister-in-law made delicious kale and green beans, while our wonderful hostess prepped the rest of the food.

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While we waited for the rest of our guests to arrive, I snatched the baby.  I probably need one of my own, don’t you think?  :)

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I feel so lucky to have married into such a wonderful family of gorgeous, strong women.  Along with a great husband, I got an entire set of best friends.  We have so much fun together.

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It is also a very good looking family.  Three handsome fellas…

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While the light was good and the food was still cooking, I demanded various family members come outside for a photo shoot.  Malone boys – perhaps the best picture ever taken of the three of them.

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Finally the girls are ALL Malones too! 

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The whole gang.  :)

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Cutest photo ever.

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Newlyweds!  <3

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And the old married folks.  :)  It was SUCH a gorgeous day – close to 70 degrees and sunny!

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And our fabulous hosts for the evening.  Many many thanks to Toby and Kevin for having 18 people at their Thanksgiving table.

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Back inside, it was finally time to EAT!  Of course there was turkey…

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And my favorite dish of all – the cranberries!  I made these on Wednesday and cooked them in orange juice and cinnamon – absolutely delicious.

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Tracey made vegetarian stuffing that was to die for – one of my favorite dishes of the night.  It was so nice of her to make two stuffings just for us!

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My quinoa dish, with dried cranberries, pecans, green onions, lemon juice, sesame oil, white vinegar, and cilantro.  YUM!

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Roasted carrots and herbs – soooo much flavor.

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Creamy mashed potatoes that melted in my mouth.  I don’t even want to know what was in these…

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Katie’s delicious (and SPICY!) green beans with kale and mushrooms…

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The counter was filled with food, and it was time to DIG IN.

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The next time someone asks me what vegetarians eat on Thanksgiving, I will show them this picture.  Soooo much delicious food!

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And despite stuffing myself sick with entrees, I pushed the limits and shoveled down dessert.  Vegan cupcakes, pumpkin pie, and a little bit of So Delicious coconut milk ice cream.

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Millie was very interested in my dessert plate.

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After dessert and a short food coma, we all retired into the living room for relaxation and family games.

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And before the night could end, we had to get the annual family photo…

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It’s hard to get a group of 17 people organized and all smiling for a photo.

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There we go!  Four generations of family all together giving thanks.

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I missed my mom and sisters, and it felt weird to spend my first Thanksgiving away from them.  But at the same time, I was totally full of love for the other side of my family.  I am so unbelievably thankful for all the wonderful people in my life.  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday too!  Safe travels home this weekend.  :)

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Totally impromptu blogger/reader get together tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 10:30am at Bethesda Le Pain Quotidian.  Any and all are welcome!  :)