mini meatless meatloaf

For our annual Thanksgiving potluck dinner with friends, I brought these mini meatless meatloaves. They were really tasty and filling, and went well with the stuffing and roasted vegetables and other typical Thanksgiving foods.

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I used this recipe, but doubled it to make 15 muffin-sized “meatloaves.” I followed the recipe, and for the open-ended parts of the recipe I used one can of black beans and one can of canellini beans, a mixture of zucchini and carrots, and Glutino gluten-free breadcrumbs. I used a food processor rather than chopping everything super-finely and mashing it all together. One major difference from the recipe was that I had to bake these for more than 30 minutes, but I’m not sure if that was due to altitude or imprecise measurements on my part.

These mini meatless meatloaves are great for bringing to a potluck, as they will work for many dietary restrictions, and are easy to serve since they are already in individual portions. I highly recommend labeling them though, because it’s not obvious what kind of food they are when you look at them. I think some people may assume they are a dessert food since they look muffin-like, and it could be an unpleasant surprise to bite into one of these when you’re expecting a sweet muffin flavor. If you’re expecting something savory, though, these are awesome!

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brewery lights

On the weekend before Thanksgiving, we went to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery Lights in Fort Collins. This is a great free activity for families, anyone who likes Christmas lights, or people who like Anheuser-Busch beer. We really enjoyed the Christmas tree maze and riding the little train that went through a snowman tunnel and past many of the lights.

 

The train ride costs $1 per person, but entry is free and there is free beer as well. Other food and drink were available for purchase.

old town holiday lights

The holiday lights in Old Town Fort Collins are such a lovely sight each year.

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phoenix, arizona

I went to Phoenix, Arizona for a few days in October for a conference. First of all, the short flight from Denver to Phoenix was beautiful. As we flew over the mountains in Colorado, I could see Great Sand Dunes National Park.

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Shortly after arriving at my hotel, I went for a walk to Nami, a vegan ice cream and pastry shop. The menu was full of enticing options, but I settled on a decadent “fluffernutterin tSoynami.” This amazing vegan and gluten-free treat was made of swirled chocolate and vanilla soy/coconut soft serve ice cream with peanut butter, banana, rice mallow fluff, and toasted marshmallow syrup stirred in.

Throughout most of my conference, I ate at or got take-out from Kaleidoscope Juice. Despite the juice-centric name, this restaurant has all sorts of great food. The protein bowl with tofu, brown rice, and ginger miso dressing was fantastic, and so was the gluten free protein waffle with fruit and coconut whipped cream.

I also enjoyed several kinds of Kaleidoscope’s gluten-free muffins (almond, blueberry, and pumpkin) and one of their smoothies. It was a relief to find a restaurant in downtown Phoenix that worked so well with my dietary restrictions.

rocky mountain national park

We had a nice day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park at the beginning of October. It turned out to be one of those fall days that brought some rain, some snow, some sun, and some clouds. We didn’t mind the changeable weather since days like this often mean fewer people and more wildlife out and about. I meant to bring my camera that has a zoom lens, but I forgot it and almost didn’t need it because we were lucky to see so many animals up close. These bighorn sheep were snacking right next to the road as we drove through the Big Thompson Canyon.

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As always, the scenery in Rocky Mountain National Park was beautiful. The higher elevations had just been dusted with fresh snow.

And we saw several large elk. Can you spot them in these photos?

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tea party

We had a tea party for several four-year-olds in early September. This was a really easy, but fun, party to host.

We served two kinds of (caffeine-free) tea, sparkling pink lemonade, grapes, and lemon cupcakes with vanilla frosting, sprinkles, and maraschino cherries on top. The kids enjoyed their late-morning snack time on the deck, which was also a practical location in the likely event of spilled tea or lemonade. After they were done with the tea and snacks, the kids blew bubbles and played in the yard.

halloween at the zoo

The Denver Zoo really knows how to decorate for Halloween! When we visited in early October, there were many displays of animals and dinosaurs made out of pumpkins scattered throughout the zoo. This was my favorite of the pumpkin displays.

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carrot bread

Does anyone still have carrots from their garden or CSA? This carrot bread (recipe from Erin McKenna’s cookbook Bread & Butter) was delicious.

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Between the carrots and walnuts in this bread, it feels like a pretty nutritious snack!

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halloween party for preschoolers


Here’s a brief summary of the Halloween party we had last year, for a crowd of mostly three-year-olds (with a few older and younger siblings joining as well). We had a number of activities for the kids set up around the house:

And for fun, yet relatively healthy, party snacks we had:

  • pumpkin mini muffins
  • orange and black fruit (cantaloupe and blackberries)
  • popcorn
  • nuts
  • cheese slices cut into pumpkin and ghost shapes (see below)
  • apple cider

apple pie

This easy and delicious apple pie was adapted from this recipe.

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I made my life easier by using a store-bought gluten-free crust. While pre-heating the oven to 350°F, I mixed up the filling (ingredients listed below) and spread it around the pie crust. Then I mixed up the crumble topping (ingredients listed below) and sprinkled it over the filling. I baked the pie until the crust and crumble began to brown and the apples were tender (about an hour).

Filling

  • 4 cups apple, sliced thin (I used a mixture of Granny Smith and Gala apples)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose gluten-free flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance

Crumble Topping

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 8 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt