Texas Football Game Day Brunch + Pumpkin Cinnamon Cookies

by Kristen at The Red Velvet Life on September 22, 2011 · 20 comments

Feeling like a smug little yogi this morning, I left the house in the dark for yoga at dawn. Unfortunately for me, this picture of zen-like bliss was interrupted when I tripped over this.

A menacing fallen tree branch in our walkway. Lovely. Remember, it was dark at the time. This graceful near-fall left my wee toes scratched, bleeding, and swollen. After a few choice words with branchito here, I made a swift recovery and was the first one to the studio. The instructor unlocked the back door. There I stood. I’m not exactly sure what “creepin’” means except in reference to dodgy men, but something about the way I was at the backdoor in the dark screams creepin’ to me. Hai! 

Front-yard fall and creepin’ behind me, I enjoyed a wonderful hatha yoga class to start the day. I feel fantastic. Somehow yoga challenges me in the way I most need to be challenged in the moment. The instructor asked mid-pose whether I have some German heritage. Ja. Not sure if his question was brought on by my facial features, upper-back tension, or punctuality. Combination, perhaps? Anywho, the sun crept in as class came to an end, and I was cooked spaghetti. Swollen toes and all. Guten morgen! 

Last weekend was equally wonderful and much more action-packed than my hatha-fied morning. My brother, mom, dad, and friends descended upon the our household in the name of Texas football and pumpkin-cinnamon Longhorns. Donning our finest burnt orange (an unflattering color, but it’s all in the name of school spirit), we gathered at our house for a pre-game party before heading to the Rose Bowl to watch the Texas v. UCLA football game. Care to guess where I went to college?

And care to guess where my husband, parents, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandfather, and grandmother went to college . . . ?

Right. You probably got the idea like two pictures ago. Or two months ago, given the excessive Texas references around here. Oh, come on. You love it. Right?

Now that you know where our allegiance lies, you can imagine how pleased we were to beat UCLA in Los Angeles. And while our team looked strong on the field, I have to say that our pre-game brunch spread looked equally tough.

And that’s only part of the spread! Velvet Husband and my brother made some mean migas to go with our favorite tortillas. And for some reason, I flirted with insanity and made my own cookies & cream ice cream with coconut milk and crushed cookies. Then promptly forgot to serve it. No matter. Ice cream keeps, and Velvet Husband is rather pleased with this chance windfall to our freezer/him.

Without further ado, let’s break down our pre-game brunch menu that saved us trips to the concession stand.

Banana Bread (Vegan)

Heaven in loaf form. It’s not bread. It’s cake.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Cookies (Vegan)

These cookies are not only adorable — they’re delicious. I brought them to an election party last year in the shape of donkeys and elephants, I made gingerbread men at Christmastime, and now I have officially ushered them into the world of Texas football. And yes, I used the extra dough to make a few footballs. Cute, or what?


  • 3 cups white flour
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup earth balance butter, almost melted
  • 1/4 cup mild molasses
  • 1/2 cup 100% pumpkin purée
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, earth balance, mild molasses, pumpkin purée, and vanilla. Mix well. Add half of the dry ingredient mixture to the bowl of liquid ingredients and mix well, kneading with hands when it becomes too difficult to stir. Add second half of the dry ingredients. Mix and knead well until dough is perfect consistency for rolling out. Dust a pastry cloth or mat and rolling pin with flour. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough and cut with cookie cutter. Arrange cookies on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 6-7 minutes at 350 degrees, careful not to over-bake. Remove and let cool. Enjoy!

Mama Pea’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Seven Layer Dip with Chips

My mom used to make this game day essential when I needed to bring something “Texas-y” to school in Moscow or Jakarta. It can easily be veganized, but I treated our guests (and my wallet) to the traditional ingredients.

Layer the following ingredients in a large casserole dish:

  • refried beans mixed with taco seasoning
  • fresh salsa
  • sour cream
  • guacamole
  • cheddar cheese
  • tomatoes
  • sliced olives (I recommend black olives, even though that’s not what you see above!)
Refrigerate. Done.

Mama Pea’s Black Bean Burgers

Yes, I was busy! So, how did it all go? Smashing, dahling. Everything but the ice cream worked. Note to self: one must serve ice cream if one hopes people will eat it. I wondered at the reception of the black bean burgers in a room full of meat-eating family and friends, but like Mama Pea had advised via twitter, they were total crowd pleasers. Unfortunately, I failed to take many pictures, but it’s only because I was flitting around enjoying myself so much!

We also served:

  • Freshly squeezed orange juice (I supplemented with store-bought stuff, but I had to use the juicer!)
  • Champagne — hello, mimosas!
  • Beer (I didn’t think people would drink beer at 9 am, but I was wrong! Kudos to Velvet Husband for foreseeing this need.)
  • Texpat Guacamole
  • Migas and tortillas (breakfast tacos) courtesy of Velvet Husband and Velvet Brother — thanks for your hard work, guys!

After brunch, we headed to the Rose Bowl and watched Texas win. Lots of cheering, chanting, and excitement. Perfection.

After our satisfying win, we ate dinner at one of my mom and dad’s favorite golf clubs. The manager brought my parents a special dessert to celebrate their 43rd anniversary this week! Happy 43rd Anniversary, Mommy and Daddy! And I thought three years was impressive.

Remember how I said I felt like cooked spaghetti after my yoga class? Well, now I’m officially sore, sore, sore, sore. Never underestimate the power of yoga to work your mind and body!

What are your favorite things to make when serving a crowd?

Do you enjoy watching football? Football isn’t my favorite spectator sport (tennis takes the cake for me), but I love getting behind my team. I love everything that comes with football — fall, family, friends, and of course game day parties!

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Erin @ The Grass Skirt September 22, 2011 at 2:08 pm

What a yummy looking spread! It seems like you had a great time. :) I love making classics like guacamole and dip when I serve a crowd. Flatbread pizza is always a winner too! Have a good rest of the day! :)


2 Kristen at The Red Velvet Life September 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Thanks, Erin! You’re welcome to come over anytime! Guacamole and dip works wonders for a crowd, doesn’t it? Especially with *really* delicious chips. I’ll have to try the flatbread pizza idea too!


3 lindsay September 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm

you know i love this! HOOK ‘EM!


4 Kristen at The Red Velvet Life September 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm

YAY so glad you’re a longhorn fan, Lindsay! But I know we’d get along even if you were a fan of . . . the “other” school. :)


5 Holly @ The Runny Egg September 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Well if I’m ever in the area I’m going to have to attend a party at your house — all of that food looks incredible!

Sorry about your run in with branchito.


6 Kristen at The Red Velvet Life September 30, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Come over anytime, Holly! Just let me know so I can be sure to have the eggs ready for you! ;)


7 Melissa September 22, 2011 at 6:52 pm

OMG what a fun time!!! Love the looks of those cookies, too. I need to put them on my “must make” list! Looks like you’re enjoying your time with the fam! :)

I LOVE LOVE LOVE college football! I’ve never been a fan of pro, but going to a Big Ten school, I just can’t help but love it!

I don’t really do much entertaining, but cake mix cookies are always a favorite! Not exactly healthy, but Funfetti cake mix, rainbow chip frosting . . . what’s not to love?


8 Kristen at The Red Velvet Life September 30, 2011 at 4:21 pm

The cookies are SO good, Melissa! Highly recommend :)

I feel the same way about football. Never really got into the pro football scene, but college football stole my heart. I guess that’s what we get for going to such great schools. :)

Mmm funfetti cake and rainbow chip frosting . . . wowza, I can almost taste it!


9 Annette@EnjoyYourHealthyLife September 23, 2011 at 4:04 pm

WOW girl. You pulled out all of the stops, and it looks AMAZing!

Not a huge fan of college football, esp when your alma mater does awesome in the opening game and then starts choking during the rest of the season….oh so sad. Have a great weekend girl!


10 Kristen at The Red Velvet Life September 30, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Thanks, Annette! It was a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it. :) I need to visit your blog because I can’t remember who your alma mater is!


11 sarah (sarah learns) September 25, 2011 at 8:54 am

i love watching football! i’m a die hard badgers and packers fan and so is my husband! i’d say my favorite sports to watch are football and hockey. i guess i love seeing people hit each other?

the cookies are adorable and sound delicious! i’m wishing i had an event to make them for coming up soon!


12 Kristen at The Red Velvet Life September 30, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Hi, Sarah! Ah, a badgers and packers fan — nice!

Maybe you could make pumpkin-shaped cookies for Halloween? I can generally find an excuse to make these cookies anytime from August through January. But it’s stretching it in the spring, lol. ;)


13 Melissa September 29, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Oh your food looks ahhhhhmazing Kristen!! Burnt orange is so not a great colour, I agree! We are just coming to the end of our “footy season” her with the AFL (Australian Rules Football) grand final tomorrow! I am so excited as I love it. We always go to or throw a BBQ with lots of salads, burgers and sausages and a few drinks of course!! Can’t wait! Have a great weekend!!


14 Kristen at The Red Velvet Life September 30, 2011 at 4:26 pm

You’re too sweet, Melissa! Thank you so much. :) Exactly, burnt orange is *definitely* not flattering, but you do what you gotta do, right? Footy season, I like the sound of that! Have a fantastic weekend, Melissa!


15 Michelle @ Oats n' Bows October 2, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Those cookies are sensational!!! What a spread you had :D

My favorite thing to make for a crowd is cupcakes. They’re always a crowd pleaser :)

I’m not too much for college football. I spent 2 years at Texas Woman’s University, and now I go to UT Dallas. So theoretically I should be watching the longhorns more… but I dunno… I never caught on.


16 Kristen at The Red Velvet Life October 3, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Thanks, Michelle! Yay, a Texas reader! The longhorn cookies were a big hit. ;-) Cupcakes are indeed a crowd-pleaser, I’ll have to check out your blog to see your favorite cupcakes!

It’s okay, not everyone at UT gets into football! I follow football more for the social aspects, not so much for a “love of the game.” But shhhhh don’t tell my dad, lol! ;-)


17 Russell at Chasing Delicious October 9, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Those pumpkin cinnamon cookies sound scrumptious! And being a longhorn myself I can definitely get behind them. Where did you get that cookie cutter? I want!


18 Kristen at The Red Velvet Life October 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Thanks, Russell! I got the cookie cutter from the co-op online! You live in Houston, right? I bet you could find the cookie cutter at the co-op store in Uptown Park? And then stop in for a Crave cupcake . . . WOW I miss those! :)


19 jessie ann james October 11, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Hello there! I just discovered your site and I love what you have going! the vegan recipes look awesome! I will def be a follower! check out my site sometime if you get the chance::) http://www.jessieannjames.com/?page_id=12


20 Kristen at The Red Velvet Life October 12, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Hi, Jessie! Thanks so much for visiting my blog. I checked yours out and I love it. Can’t wait to read more!


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