Potato and Carrot Cheese Sauce

Hi guys! It’s been a while. My apologies. 

Today I have a recipe for you that I am OBSESSED with. 

  
I’ve always been picky about cheese, but I LOVE macaroni and cheese. Seriously. In my pre vegan days I used to scarf the macaroni from KFC. Now that I’m vegan, it’s been difficult to find a macaroni that meets my high picky standards. I’m not a fan at all of Daiya, Earth Balance box macaroni tastes too sweet for me, and I’m not the kind of vegan who can just put some vegan butter and nooch on noodles and be satisfied. Then I joined this group on facebook called “What Fat Vegans Eat”, and came across a recipe for cheese sauce made with potatoes and carrots. So I made it as queso dip for Memorial Day, and really liked it. But I only like queso dip… I LOVE macaroni. So I took the recipe, made a bunch of changes and VOILA! I finally found vegan Mac that I’m happy with. 

  
You can use this to make queso dip, macaroni, cheese sauce for enchiladas or nachos, etc. It’s versatile. If you’re making it as queso, I recommend adding a tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Chipotle chili peppers in adobo would also be a good addition for if you’re making it as queso dip. Ah, possibilities. 

Ingredients:

2 cups skinned potatoes, diced 

1 cup skinned carrots, diced 

1 cup unsweetened plain dairy-free milk

1/8 cup oil (grapeseed, olive, coconut, avocado)

2 tsp. salt

4 Tablespoons lemon juice 

3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes (buy it here)

2 teaspoons onion powder 

2 teaspoons garlic powder 

A pinch of ground cumin

Instructions:

Gather all ingredients. Skin and dice the potatoes and carrots. Boil the potatoes and carrots until soft. Then add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. If it seems too dry, add a splash more non-dairy milk until you get the right consistency. Serve with chips or pour over pasta. Enjoy!

Tip: if reheating, add a few tablespoons of non-dairy milk to it to get it smooth. Makes all the difference!

  

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Chickpea, Mushroom & Wild Rice Soup

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I love soup in the winter. I also love it in spring or summer. I’m a huge soup fan. I used to eat at panera bread really often and order the “you pick two” with a bacon turkey bravo and a bowl of the chicken and wild rice soup. Then I moved to Okinawa, went vegan, and making a veganized version has been on my to-do list. So the other day when my husband offered to make dinner, I have him a list of instructions and ingredients and sent him off to do the dirty work. The end result? Magic. In my opinion this is better than the panera bread soup. It certainly has more nutritional value, and no animals were harmed! Take notes, Panera Bread!

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Ingredients
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 large yellow or white onion, diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 &1/2 cups mushrooms, halved
1 tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil

3/4 cup of cashews
1 cup of water (seperate from boiling water)

1 14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup of cooked wild rice

Instructions:
Firstly, cook your rice according to the package instructions. I personally used Bobs red mill wild & brown rice mix.

Next, lightly sauté the carrots and celery in the oil for about five minutes. Then add the broth, seasonings and the rest of the veggies. Leave it to cook on medium heat.

While the soup is cooking, add your cashews to a small pot full of water and boil for about 20 minutes. After the time is up, strain the nuts and add them to a blender with 1 cup of water. Once the mixture is smooth, add it to the soup.

Add the rice and chickpeas to the soup and heat through. Serve immediately. I recommend eating this with some garlic bread. Enjoy!

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Bang Bang Cauliflower

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This week I’ve been experimenting with cauliflower, AKA Broccolis albino cousin. I’d heard of people making a vegan version of Bang Bang Shrimp with it, and had to see if it loved up to the name. I grew up a stones throw from bonefish grill. My brother used to work there. I can’t remember the first time I had Bang Bang Shrimp, but I remember the last time. A friend/coworker and I used to go almost every Wednesday after work. We’d grab some bang bang, complain about the crazy people who yelled at us on the phone, and talk about our favorite moments of the day. All while enjoying an ingenious dish that will never really be 100% duplicated vegan-style. Now we are both vegan, and Bang Bang cauliflower is as close to the real deal as we get. And it is darn good! So, in her honor, here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

Fried Cauliflower:
4 tablespoons arrowroot starch (or cornstarch)
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 flax “eggs” (2 TBS flax meal, 6 TBS water)
1/2 head cauliflower

Coconut oil, for frying

Sauce:
1/4 cup vegan mayo or cashew cream
1/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons diced green onion

Directions:
Cut cauliflower into bite sized florets.

Set up your dipping system. One bowl with the flax egg, one bowl with the starch, then the last bowl containing the Panko mixed with the rest of the dry ingredients.

Roll each piece in corn starch, then shake off the excess. Dip each piece in the flax egg. Then in the Panko mixture. Make sure all the pieces are evenly coated with each mixture.

Fry two pieces at a time in a small pot of coconut oil on medium heat.

Mix all sauce ingredients together. You can either toss the cauliflower in the sauce immediately before serving or leave it on the side. Either way it’s darn good! Enjoy!

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Thai red curry with vermicelli noodkes

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This year for my birthday my good friend Kiwa gave me thai red curry pastes. I had been looking all over for a fish-free red curry paste with no luck, so I was very thankful to get these from her. I love Thai curry. It has so many complex flavors and spices, and I think of it as comfort food. Especially when you add vermicelli noodles, which add the perfect texture to this soup. You should be able to find vermicelli noodles and red curry paste at your local store in the ethnic section, or at a specialty Asian foods market.

Ingredients:
4 cups veggie broth
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced in half
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon agave nectar, honey or brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 ounces vermicelli noodles
1 tablespoon turmeric powder (optional)
1/2 cup drained, pressed, cubed tofu (optional)

Optional toppings: cilantro, lemon zest, sliced jalapeño, green onions, bean sprouts

Instructions:
Add all ingredients (except the noodles) to a large soup pot. Bring to medium high heat and let simmer for about fifteen minutes. Add the vermicelli noodles and heat through. They will take about five minutes to cook through.

Serve as soon as the noodles are done. Top with whatever suits your fancy. I like cilantro and green onion on mine. Enjoy!

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Vegan fried fish & mango avocado salsa

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Lately I’ve been using a lot of nori. I love nori. Nori is the reason for that ocean-y taste of fish. So it’s perfect in imitating that same flavor without actually eating fish. And I know some people think tofu is gross, but if you treat it correctly it’s going to be your best friend. As a vegan self-taught home cook, I’m pretty well versed in the ways of tofu. I’ve used it to make scrambled “eggs”, vegan fish, nuggets, “turkey” thanksgiving roast, cheesecake, creamy soups, and more. Tofu is your friend. Don’t be grossed out by it, embrace the versatility!

Tofu fried “fish”
Feeds 2, but can be doubled easily
Ingredients
1/2 of a 14oz block of tofu, drained
Nori sheets

2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable or any other mild oil

1/8 cup flour

1/4 cup soy milk

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions
Drain the water from the tofu package.
Sliced tofu width wise into 1/2 inch slices. Since I make this for two people I make four or five slices and save the other half of the tofu block in the fridge for another recipe (usually tofu scramble). Press the slices of tofu between two clean towels with something very heavy on top, such as multiple cookbooks or a large glass casserole dish. Press for at least 30 minutes, or as long as four hours.

Cut the nori sheets into strips to fit one side of each tofu strip and press until the nori sticks to the strips. You don’t need to have nori on both sides of the tofu. One is enough to get the fish effect.

Mix your seasonings/soy sauce/oil in a shallow bowl. It will turn into sort of a paste. Coat each tofu strip in about 1 teaspoon of the paste, then set the strips aside. There will be excess paste when you are finished. Add the 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk to the excess and mix.

Dust each strip with flour. You probably won’t use all of the 1/8 cup, and that’s fine. Just dust them, not fully cover them.

Dip strips in the paste/milk mixture, then coat them in panko (it’s easiest to have your panko in a bowl and make a factory line, so to speak. Dust with flour, milk marinade, panko). Make sure they are evenly coated.

Once all strips are coated, fry them in a pan with about 1/2 inch of oil on the bottom. Fry about three minutes on each side, until golden brown but do your best not to burn them. I always make my husband do the frying for me. I’m terrible at it.

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Serve these puppies up with vegan spicy tartar sauce and mango avocado salsa. Recipes below!

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Spicy tartar sauce
Makes about 1/4 cup
Ingredients
1/4 cup plain vegan mayo (or cashews that have soaked overnight and then been whipped up in a blender)
Juice and zest of 1/2 a large lemon
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder or girly minced white onion

Mango and avocado salsa
Makes about 1&1/4 cups
Ingredients
1/2 of a large ripe mango, diced
1 medium avocado, diced
5 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 tablespoon finely minced white onion
Juice and zest of half a lime or lemon

Voila! I serve all of this up together over some brown rice in a bowl for myself, while my husband prefers his taco-style. It’s good no matter how you do it. Try it out! And thanks for reading!

Vegan sugar cookies

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Are you familiar with sugar cookies? Let’s be serious, of course you are. They’re like the chocolate chip cookies angelic sister. And I’m not talking about those weird, floury, white cookies topped with icing that every one brings to parties. I’m talking about a light cookie that’s basically just heaven in your mouth. A little bit crisp on the edge but soft and chewy on the inside. Sometimes you top them with some sprinkles, because nothing says “I’m not working out today” like eating cookies topped with sprinkles. So here you have it, your perfect sugar cookies that taste just like the sample ones they give kids at the supermarket bakery. You’re welcome.

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Ingredients
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar (I used coconut sugar, but organic cane sugar will work too)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda

3 1/2 tablespoons of non dairy milk (I like almond milk)
1/4 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar

1 cup of vegan butter, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 vegan “egg” (I used the bobs red mill egg replacer powder, but you could use the ener G brand or make a flax egg)

Optional: crushed almonds or sprinkles

Instructions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together the milk and vinegar with a whisk, then set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the wet ingredients (minus the milk/vinegar) using a fork or hand mixer. In another medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the wet to the dry, including the milk/vinegar mixture, and mix together. On a greased cookie sheet drop tablespoon sized amounts of dough, careful not to let them get too close together. Top with whatever toppings you’ve chosen, or don’t. I usually make about nine cookies at once and then freeze the extra dough (after I have of course eaten some). Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until edges are slightly golden. Let rest on a wire cooking rack for a few minutes, then stuff your face.

Let me know if you make these, because I love when people make my recipes! I love sharing my food with you amazing people! Enjoy!

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Chocolate peanut butter thumbprints

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I’ve seen lots of recipes on Pinterest for things made from black beans instead of flour. I am not a huge fan of black beans. I eat them, but I don’t actually like them. So I set out to use them as a dessert, and mask the flavor with the things that are most delicious in the world- chocolate and peanut butter. The end result? A crazy delicious cookie that is not at all black bean ish.

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Ingredients for the cookies
1 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
7 tablespoons organic granulated sugar
1/3 cup cacao or cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of ground golden flax seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons non dairy milk (I used vanilla soy)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Ingredients for the chocolate center
1/3 cup of non dairy chocolate pieces (I use Enjoy Life brand)
1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 teaspoon coconut oil

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the black beans and melted coconut oil in a bowl and mash with a fork until they become a purée. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with a spatula or with your hands. Separate the dough into ten equal pieces. Shape the cookies with your hands, and make a small dent in the middle for the chocolate to go in later. I used the back of my teaspoon to make uniform dents in all of the cookies, but you can use your thumb (which is why these cookies are normally referred to as thumbprints). Line the cookies up on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10-13 minutes. No longer than 13 minutes, or they will burn. Let cook on a wire cooling rack or, if you don’t have one, a pizza pan with holes on the bottom works well too. If you can tell, that’s what I did. While they’re cooking, microwave the chocolate, salt and coconut oil for about half of a minute. Mix until smooth. Using a spoon, drop some of the chocolate into the dent of each cookie. Let sit for a few hours until the chocolate hardens. And that’s it! They are delicious and healthy, and I ate 9 of them in the past 36 hours. Ah, gluttony. Enjoy!