Week 4: Vegan Pumpkin & “Bacon” Mac-N-“Cheese” & Vegan Coconut Cornbread Dressing – A Compassion is the Secret Ingredient Thanksgiving

Week 4 is here and this week is all about transforming recipes that I’ve already shared into new recipes that are absolutely perfect additions to your Thanksgiving table! The first recipe that I’m transforming from “everyday” to “Thanksgiving” is my mac-n-“cheese” which I shared with y’all back in March.

The original recipe is quick, easy, and beloved by all who try it -it’s actually in the top five list of most popular recipes here on the blog! For as popular and great as it is though, it is not exactly a recipe that most would pick for their Thanksgiving menu. To remedy this, because mac-n-“cheese” should never be left out of the fun, I decided kick the original recipe up a notch by adding to it… drum roll, please… pumpkin and “bacon.”


The pumpkin, of course, makes this dish oh-so-fall but it also adds to it a nice earthy quality to our mac while the “bacon” adds a lot of bold smokiness and a little change in texture.

To get started, we must first get a pot of pasta cooking up. Just like with the original mac recipe that I shared, my pasta preference is a shape that resembles a double elbow or open spiral. (It’s often called either Cavatappi or Cellentani.) Once you’ve got the pasta going, you’ll need to get the “bacon” going as well.

In the pot that you’ll make the “cheese” sauce in, saute up the bacon of your choosing. I love Benevolent Bacon but if you’re looking to decrease the smokiness of your mac then you might want to opt for a different brand. When your “bacon” is done, remove it from the pot and set it aside for use in a moment.


To the pot that you just plucked the “bacon” from, a little “butter” gets added and melted down. Once melted, an equal amount of flour is added and the mixture get stirred together then cooked until foamy and light brown. Next, unsweetened almond milk joins the party and the whole mixture is brought to a boil and kept boiling until thickened which should only take a minute or so. Now it’s time to reduce the heat and add the “cheese” and pumpkin! Once those have been fully incorporated, the final step to complete the “cheese” sauce for our mac is to add the “bacon” that we cooked earlier along with some seasonings.

PicMonkey Collage(2)(2).jpg

With the “cheese” sauce completed you can now toss in the cooked noodles, give the whole thing a good stir, and then enjoy!



Vegan Pumpkin & 'Bacon' Mac-N-'Cheese'

  • Servings: 6-9
  • Print

Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com


  • 3 cups of Cavatappi or Cellentani pasta
  • Oil and salt for pasta water
  • 1 package of your favorite vegan “bacon,” cut into half-inch pieces or smaller
  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 (8-ounce) bag of Daiya cheddar-style shreds (about 2 cups)
  • 1-2 cups canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Generous 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika


  1. In a pasta pot, or other large pot, start pasta cooking in accordance with the instructions on the pasta’s packaging for al dente pasta. Be sure to add a little oil to the pasta water (1-2 tablespoons) to help prevent the pasta from sticking together as it cooks and also add a decent amount of salt (2-4 tablespoons) to infuse the pasta with a little flavor as it cooks. In a separate large pot, that you’ll eventually make the “cheese” sauce in, cook the “bacon” in accordance with the instructions on the “bacon’s” packaging. When the “bacon” is done, remove it from the pan and set it aside for a moment.
  2. In the pot that you just removed the bacon from, add the “butter” and allow that to melt completely. Once melted, add flour and stir to combine. Continue stirring until mixture is foamy and very light brown in color -about 2 minutes. Add almond milk and turn the heat up to bring to boil. Boil, while stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes to thicken sauce base a little. After 2-3 minutes, reduce heat to medium and add in the “cheese” and canned pumpkin. Stir until they have fully been incorporated into the sauce base -about 2-3 minutes. Add the “bacon” you cooked earlier as well as the nutritional yeast, salt, pumpkin pie spice, pepper, garlic, onion, and paprika and stir to combine. If your pasta is not ready yet, turn the heat off on the “cheese” sauce until the pasta is ready to be added to it.
  3. When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and then add it to the sauce. Gently fold the pasta into the sauce to coat each noodle then serve. Leftovers will keep fresh in an airtight container in fridge for 3-4 days.

Okay, time for the next transformed recipe! This recipe turns my coconut cornbread, shared with y’all back in July, into a dressing. No, not like a salad dressing but like a stuffing dressing. So why call it a “dressing” and not a “stuffing?” Well, frankly, because it is not getting “stuffed” into anything -certainly not the tortured dead body of a sentient being, that’s for damn sure. #GoVegan

It all gets started a day in advance. A day in advance you’re going to want to make the coconut cornbread. The day of, to help the cornbread dry out just a little bit more, you’re going to cut it up into about 1-inch cubes, transfer the cubes (and any crumbs) to a lightly greased sheet pan, and bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 20 minutes. Once the cubes have been baked, set them aside for a moment and move on to the next step.


The next step in our coconut cornbread dressing involves some prep. Half of a large white onion and 2-3 stalks of celery need to be finely diced. You’ll also need to small dice 2 Granny Smith apples which have been peeled and cored. Last but not least, in a small bowl you’re going to whip up substitute for 1 egg using Ener-G egg replacer and the instructions on the Ener-G box.

In a pot or large skillet, 1 stick of vegan “butter” gets melted down and then the onion, celery, and Granny Smith apples that you just prepped get tossed in. Cook these, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes over medium heat. (The shorter time, 10 minutes, will result in these elements keeping their individual textures while the longer time, 15 minutes, will result in each of these things being softer. You do you, boo.) Once those have been cooked, low-sodium vegetable stock gets added along with the egg substitute, some Bragg Sprinkle, agave, salt, and pepper. Everything gets a good stir and then it is time to build our dressing in the baking dish that it will bake in.

PicMonkey Collage(1)(1).jpg

I opted to use an oval baking dish but you can choose whichever shape you want as long as it is on the larger end of medium size. Spray the dish with a little non-stick cooking spray, or grease it with some vegan “butter,” then fill the bottom of the dish with half of the cornbread cubes/crumbs. Layer on half of the onion, celery, and apple mixture then repeat these two steps to complete the layering process. Cover the dish tightly with foil and then bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.


When done, keep the foil on until you’re ready to serve so that the warmth and moisture are not lost in the meantime.



Vegan Coconut Cornbread Dressing

  • Servings: 6-9
  • Print

Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com


  • Non-stick cooking spray or vegan “butter” for pan
  • 1, day-old, coconut cornbread
  • 1/2 of a large white onion, finely diced
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, trimmed (ends removed) and finely diced
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and small diced
  • Ener-G egg replacer for 1 egg (follow instructions on box)
  • 1 stick of vegan “butter”
  • 1 1/2-2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg Sprinkle, crushed in palm of hand before use
  • 2 teaspoons agave
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Prepare a large sheet pan by spraying it with non-stick cooking spray or lightly greasing it with “butter.” Cut the day-old coconut cornbread into about 1-inch cubes then transfer the cubes (and any crumbs) to the sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. Once the cubes have been baked, set them aside for a moment. Prep the onion, celery, apples, and Ener-G if you haven’t done so already.
  2. In a pot or large skillet, melt the “butter” down then add in the onion, celery, and Granny Smith apples. Cook these, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes over medium heat. (The shorter time will result in these elements keeping their individual textures while the longer time will result in each of these things being softer.) After 10-15 minutes, add in the vegetable stock, Ener-G, Bragg Sprinkle, agave, salt, and pepper. Whisk or stir this mixture well then turn the heat off.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray with non-stick cooking spray, or grease with vegan “butter,” a baking dish that is on the larger side of medium size. Fill the bottom of the dish with half of the cornbread cubes/crumbs. Layer on half of the onion, celery, and apple mixture then repeat these two steps to complete the layering process. Cover the dish tightly with foil and then bake for 15 minutes. When done, keep the foil on until you’re ready to serve. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.

Well, that’s it for week 4, y’all! There are only a couple weeks left and then it’s show time! Remember, if you make any or all of the recipes from my Thanksgiving series be sure to tag photos of your feast on social media using #aCITSIthanksgiving so that they can be found with ease by me and others who did the same. See you next week!


Vegan Irish Apple Cake


With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner I wanted to do a post featuring something Irish made vegan! My main criteria? It could not, and absolutely would not, be colored any shade of green. #IPityTheFoodColoring

Of course my first thought was, “ERMAHGERD POTATOES!!!” A logical first thought but alas, I wanted something different. I wanted something that was Irish but that didn’t punch you in the face with its Irish-ness. I wanted something that would caress your cheek (whichever cheek you prefer to be caressed upon) and then whisper in your ear, “Iiirriissshhhhh.” Immediately my mind went to desserts and, thanks to a little search engine inspiration, I figured out exactly what I wanted to make -Irish Apple Cake, also known as Kerry Apple Cake.

The traditional versions of this beloved Irish treat aren’t that sweet and they usually feature apples alone as the star of the show. I mean, it’s called apple cake so what would you expect, right? But in my modern take I have 2 stars -the apples, of course, and walnuts which add crunch and a little bitterness to offset the tart apples. I also upped the sugar just a smidge but the cake isn’t cloyingly sweet by no means so you can still enjoy it for breakfast just like they sometimes do in Ireland! However and whenever you choose to enjoy it, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it -especially if you’re an apple lover like I am!

To get started, I went ahead and prepared some egg substitute for use a little later in the recipe. (By now I’m sure you know what my favorite egg substitute is in baking but, just in case you haven’t checked out any of my other recipes before, it’s Ener-G and I prepared it according to the instructions on the box for 2 eggs worth of substitute!)


After I prepared my egg substitute I then prepared the walnuts by tossing them around with a little flour. We do this because nuts, and things like them that you add to cakes, tend to sink to the bottom of the cake if not coated in a little flour. Now, the batter for this cake is rather thick so I probably didn’t have to do this step but I thought better safe than sorry and it only took like 5 seconds to do! When all of your walnuts are nicely coated in a light layer of flour you’re just going to set them aside for a moment -we’ll come back for them soon, I promise!


Okay, time to make the cake batter!

First I mixed the wet ingredients, including the egg substitute I made earlier, together. And remember now, we count sugar as a wet ingredient in baking. After all of that was whisked to perfection, I added the dry ingredients and gave it all a good stir. The batter should be pretty thick and that’s exactly how we want it to be so don’t be tempted to add more liquid. Once the batter is made set it aside for a minute so that we can get the apples ready.


For the apples, you’ll wash them (obvi), then peel them and slice them thin (think 1/5th of an inch or a little over 1/8th of an inch). You’ll then core the slices and cut them into more bite size pieces. Lastly, you’re going to toss the bite size pieces in with a little flour -just like we did with the walnuts.



Now it’s time to build our cake -no degree in cake building required!

In a prepared pan (sprayed, floured, and lined on the bottom with parchment paper) I add a thin layer of the cake batter. Don’t worry about spreading the thick batter out edge to edge, it will get pushed out as we add stuff to it. Speaking of adding stuff to it, we will then add half of our apples, pressing a little with each one to help spread the batter out, and then we will add half of our walnuts.


On top of that first layer of apples and walnuts you’re going to spoon on dollops of batter. Again, we’re not looking to completely cover the pan edge to edge, we’re just looking for moderate coverage. Add the next layer of apples and walnuts now -the remaining amounts of each. Be sure to once again be pressing on the apples as you lay them down so that they help spread the batter around a little. The final layer is the remaining cake batter dolloped and then gently spread/pressed around to ensure that the apples are all covered. Once the final layer is complete you may then put the cake into the oven.


When the cake is done, a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean. Let that bad (Irish) boy cool completely then give him a nice dusting of powdered sugar and enjoy!




Vegan Irish Apple Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Print

Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com


  • Egg substitute for 2 eggs (I used Ener-G -it’s my favorite!)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick of vegan butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups flour + 1/2 tablespoon for walnuts + 2 tablespoons for apples + extra for pan
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 granny smith (green) apples
  • Powdered sugar for dusting over finished cake


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9 inch round cake pan by greasing it, dusting it with flour, and then lining the bottom with parchment paper. Prepare egg substitute according to directions on packaging for 2 eggs if you haven’t done so already. In a separate small dish, prepare walnuts by coating them with 1/2 tablespoon of flour. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, vegan butter, almond milk, egg substitute, lemon juice, and vanilla. When combined, add 1 1/4 cups flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Stir to incorporate dry ingredients. Batter should be thick and smooth. Set aside for a moment to prepare apples. To prepare apples, wash then peel the apples. Slice apples into thin slices, core the slices, then quarter the slices. In a small bowl, toss the apples with 2 tablespoons of flour to lightly coat them.
  3. Grab your prepared pan and add in a thin layer of batter. Enough to coat most of the bottom but don’t feel the need to get it edge to edge. Layer in half of your apple pieces, pressing down on each as you add it so as to help push the batter around into a more even layer. Add half of your walnuts over top of the apples. Now add another layer of batter by spooning dollops of batter into the pan. Again, don’t worry about getting complete coverage because the batter will spread as you add the next layer of apples and walnuts. Add the final layer of apples and walnuts just as you did the first. Lastly, top the whole thing off with the remaining cake batter, dolloping it on and then carefully smoothing/pressing it out to ensure that all of the apples are covered.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes. When done, a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean. Cool cake fully then dust with powdered sugar. Cake will keep on counter in an airtight container, or covered well, for 2-3 days or in the fridge for up to 4 days.