sunny vegan » food, photography, and fun

crostini and a diy chalk board serving tray #safewayholiday


This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Cooking Light, Real Simple, and Sunset Magazines, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #SafewayHoliday

Oh the Holidays. Such a magical time of year, but boy can it be stressful, overwhelming and aggravating if you aren’t prepared. I know that you usually go the the grocery store and buy a magazine on the way out, but I want you to try something different. Buy your magazines on the way IN!

Yup. Grab that cart, swing by the checkout counter and pick up those magazines first. Why? So that you can pick out your recipes right there on the spot and get all of your ingredients and gifts while you are there. Right now, there is a $1.00 off coupon at participating Safeway Stores ( including Vons,  Pavillions, Randalls and Dominick’s) on Cooking Light, Sunset and Real Simple magazines. SCORE!  *while supplies last

The truth is, I am a magazine junkie. I even have them on my nook so that I can have a bunch with me at all times. The December issues of Real Simple is not only full of the best gift ideas I have seen all season, it even plays Holiday music on my nook.  I was inspired by the 50 gifts for $50 or less to add a personal touch to my normal stash of gifts. It’s great to have extra hostess or work gifts on hand and I try to keep nice bottles of wine of candles around for those last minute gift emergencies which is great! But in addition to a bottle of wine, this year I made these easy DIY chalkboard serving boards. For a few dollars a piece, I have a fun personal gift ready to go.




12″ round plywood
chalkboard paint
paint brush
fine grit sandpaper


paint top of plywood with thin coat of chalkboard paint following the direction of the wood grain. allow to try and lightly sand. apply 2 additional coats of paint and allow to dry for 24 hours. season the chalkboard by lightly rubbing a piece of chalk across the surface.



Now that you have your awesome chalkboard trays ready to go, how about a little white bean crostini recipe to top it off. This also works great as a dip for crackers or veggies, you can make it ahead and keep it in the fridge for a few days for easy entertaining.



1 15 ounce can white beans- rinsed and drained
2 Tablespoons assorted olives – I used kalamata and Spanish plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon finely chopped parsley plus more for garnish
2 Tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

1 bakery baguette, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
3 Tablespoons olive oil


Combine all topping/dip ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a fork lightly smashing beans, then set aside.

heat grill pan and drizzle olive oil over both sides of bread slices. toast each side until lightly browned, about 1 minute each side. allow to cool and top with 1/2 Tablespoon of white bean mixture and garnish with parsley and sliced olives.

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apple and cranberry sauce #mywestelm

thank you to West Elm for sponsoring today’s discussion. Recipe, photos and crazy ideas are all mine!

I love cranberries and tend to do a little dance in the grocery store the moment they arrive. That’s why I am here to say…

Step away from the can!
You know, that can of red slime that people put on the Thanksgiving day table. I’m pretty sure that should be considered a crime against the Holiday since making homemade fresh cranberry sauce is like the easiest thing ever.

I told you all about my West Elm obsession and showed you the other items I got, but the minute I saw these icy blue enamel bowls at West Elm Market, I thought CRANBERRY! The crisp red with the cool blue screams holiday fun and will be front and center on my T-day table this year.

We have started a new tradition with each of my girls making a signature dish of their own for Thanksgiving. Teagan makes a yummy apple crisp and Stella will be in charge of the apple cranberry sauce this year.


Ingredients: makes approximately 2 cups

1 – 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries – about 3 cups
1 tart apple – peeled, cored and diced
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves *optional


combine all ingredients in medium saucepan ans simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes, cranberries will have mostly popped. allow to cool and serve. may be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to a week

What kind of cranberry sauce do you serve for the Holidays?
and just in case you love this West Elm Market bowl as much as I do, West Elm is offering 20% off all table top items through November 26th! so get shopping.


and a little reminder of my winter West Elm table, enamel mug and bowls and rocking salt and pepper shakers.

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’tis the season for making memories, and homemade hot cocoa #mywestelm

thank you to West Elm for sponsoring today’s discussion.

homemade hot chocolate recipe from sunny vegan #mywestelm

Like most families, our Holiday Season revolves around food and drink. It’s those times sitting at the table together, or maybe snuggling in front of the fire with hot cocoa that will be the moments I will forever hold on to. So will my girls, they call this homemade hot cocoa “love in a mug”  ha ha.

I say it’s time to ditch the mix and make your own hot cocoa this year. It takes the same amount of time as your mix and microwave but the taste is very different! Rich and creamy don’t begin to describe the taste, even the adults in the house freak out when I make this stuff. This year I got the girls enamel icy blue mugs and matching bowls from West Elm Market  to enjoy their warming treats.


Ingredients: 4 servings

4 cups vegan milk – we use soy or coconut
1/4 cup fair trade cocoa powder
1/3 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
dash of salt


warm milk in saucepan over low heat, gradually whisk in remaining ingredients. simmer 2 minutes, serve immediately.


This will be the first in a while that I won’t have a formal dining room for T-day. But I think this table set up will work out even better for us! This will also be our first Holiday in over 15 years living where it snows! So I am bringing our snow excitement front and center on the dining room table. Don’t be afraid to use something unconventional like a snow globe as your centerpiece or mismatched dishes. As long as your theme is consistent, using different items creates a more interesting table.

My mostly white set up will be accented with the enamel blue dishes from West Elm Market as well as a little shimmer,  it’s the perfect winter family table.


I hope you are inspired to get out there and create some great memories this year! I would love to hear about your favorite dish or tradition?

This post has been sponsored by West Elm. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep sunny vegan going! and as a thank you,
West Elm is offering 20% off all tabletop items until November 26th!!


I also got the Favorite Throw in gray stripe, it’s so soft and cozy. 

and the cutest salt and pepper shakers I have ever seen!

but the enamel mugs and matching bowls from West Elm Market are certainly our favorites.

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November 12, 2013 - 12:34 pm

Julia - Those are really cute salt and pepper shakers! I love your post for homemade hot chocolate–we got snow in Chicago last night so this is perfect for the cold weather!

November 12, 2013 - 1:09 pm

Jennifer Priest - Gorgeous table setting and the cocoa sounds yummy!

November 12, 2013 - 2:33 pm

brigeeski - The cocoa sounds so good! I can’t wait to try it out and I LOVE your decor.

November 12, 2013 - 6:25 pm

Wendy - Just saw that same snow globe there this weekend! Might get it now with the discount! Thanks!!

Autumn in my bowl ~ pumpkin and sage pasta


Think pumpkin is only for pie? Well think again!
Savory pumpkin recipes are a fun way to keep the flavors of autumn around throughout the holiday season. Pumpkin is low calorie and full of Vitamin A, C and K as well as iron, potassium and magnesium so adding more to your diet is certainly a good thing.
I ususally use whole wheat pasta but my daughter picked out the orecchiette because it reminded her of little pumpkins. It really held the sauce well which made me happy.

Fresh sage is so beautiful and flavorful, combining it with the slightly sweet pumpkin makes for a gorgeous, earthy and tasty sauce. So shake up your regular pasta routine and try this pumpkin and sage sauce. One of the best things I have ever made! ( and my daughter agreed )



Ingredients:  4-6 servings

1 pound pasta
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion – diced
3 cloves garlic – diced
1 15 ounce can organic pumpkin puree
2 cups plain almond milk
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast  * optional
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish
salt and pepper


pasta  – prepare as directed on package.
sauce – heat olive oil over medium-low heat, add onions and cook until translucent or approximately 5 minutes. add garlic and heat another 2 minutes. stir in pumpkin, almond milk, sage and nutritional yeast, salt and pepper to taste.  heat over low heat for 5 minutes. serve over prepared pasta and garnish with additional fresh sage.



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Happy Halloween Granola

It’s that time again, when the ghouls appear with buckets of candy filled with carmine, gelatin and more artificial colors than I care to mention.

This also means that I spend a fair amount of time saying “NO” to said candy. I don’t like it. they don’t like it so I have to find a way to keep Halloween fun and tasty in a way that makes us both happy.

Bring on the granola! This year we added chocolate chips  making it a great candy alternative( last year was cranberries) . It’s sweet, salty chocolaty goodness you will all enjoy.


1 1/2 cups oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup plus1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1/2 tsp organic vanilla extract
1/4 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

preheat oven to 315 degrees. in a large bowl, mix dry ingredients ( oats though salt). in a small bowl, stir wet ingredients together until smooth. gradually add wet mixture to dry, stirring continually.  spread in a single layer on non-stick cookie sheet. bake for 10 minutes, then stir. bake an additional 15-20 minutes or just until lightly browned. allow to cool slightly then add chocolate chips and roasted pumpkin seeds.

Seriously, isn’t that simple? I will be making a big batch of this to send to friends and family, a healthy treat that also travels well is perfect for gifting!
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