Quesadillas with Monterey Jack Cashew Cheese

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July 27, 2014 By

I have been going a little crazy over cashew cheese lately. I was avoiding it for a little while. I think that’s because perfecting the taste of cashew cheese takes a lot of experimentation, and I’m someone who likes to get it right the first time.

About a week ago, I decided to put my ego aside and took a stab at making the first vegan quesadilla I’ve ever attempted to make… with cashew cheese. DUN DUN DUN. My first attempt created the texture I wanted, but the quesadilla as a whole was a bit dry. Next time, I added more cheese to moisten it up, but the taste didn’t wow me.

The third time was a charm with this one, which is what you’ll be viewing today (and hopefully trying yourself later)! I have to give it up to my once aquaintence, now friend, Nutritional Yeast. You really pull your weight in creating the cheese flavor. I must say, however, that the true star of this post goes to Smoked Paprika. Smoked Paprika was the key ingredient I needed to make me say, “Oh my God. This tastes like a real quesadilla.” out loud.  Nutritional Yeast and Smoked Paprika, you two make a GREAT COUPLE, and you have earned a permanent spot in my spice collection! Congrats!

Quesadillas with Monterey Jack Cashew Cheese

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 whole quesadillas

 

Ingredients:

For Monterey Jack Cashew Cheese:

  • 1 cup of raw cashews (soaked for 8 hours, then drained, OR milled)
  • 4 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil

Other Ingredients Needed:

  • 8 flour tortillas (for GF, corn tortillas and GF tortillas both work perfectly)
  • 1 15oz can of organic & vegetarian refried beans
  • red onion, diced
  • tomatoes, diced
  • red pepper, diced

 

Step 1: Blend the raw cashews.

Let’s get the most difficult part out of the way first, and that’s the cashew cheese. I have a NutriBullet, which has a milling blade that grinds cashews to a flour without the need for soaking. (Seriously people, buy a NutriBullet. They’re the best.) I believe a coffee grinder will do the job, as well. For the non-soakers, blend your cashews first before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Pre milling

Pre milling

Post milling

Post milling

For most of you, you will need to soak your cashews for 8 hours prior to making this meal. Once the soaking is over, drain your cashews. Make sure you have a strong blender or food processor to avoid chunks of wet cashews (ew). For the soakers, you’ll probably need blend the cashews and coconut milk first before adding the rest of the ingredients.

 

Step 2: Blend the rest of the cashew cheese ingredients.

Blend ingredients until you have a smooth, thick consistency. This cheese is really thick and oozy. It makes a huge mess in whatever it’s being blended in!

Messy!

Messy!

Put the cashew cheese to the side.

Mmmm… I can't wait to eat you.

Mmmm… I can’t wait to eat you.

 

Step 3: Prepare tortillas, refried beans, and vegetables.

Start with the bottom tortilla. Add 1-2 generous spoonfuls of refried beans on top, spreading it around evenly with the back of the spoon.

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For non-GFers, I am currently in love with Trader Joe’s Habañero Lime Tortillas!

Next, add your vegetables. I didn’t specify specific amounts because it’s your preference!

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Step 4: Spread cashew cheese on top tortilla.

Add 2-3 generous spoonfuls of cashew cheese on top of the tortilla that hasn’t been used yet.

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Now, take the top tortilla and make it “kiss” the bottom tortilla. Pat it down gently so everything sticks.

MUAH!

MUAH!

Here was Matt's gluten-free corn tortilla. :)

Here was Matt’s gluten-free corn tortilla. 🙂

Step 5: Bake.

Bake your tortillas in the oven at 400 degrees for about 7-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on your quesadillas, as every tortilla is different and unpredictable.

Just ask my toaster oven, which is now covered in soot after a tortilla incident a few weeks ago. It caught on fire while toasting a tortilla. I swear, sometimes, I wonder if I really should be the person behind a food blog.

Anyway, just make sure the tortillas are crispy enough to hold their own, but by no means burnt. Okay?

 

Step 6: Slice and serve!

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Look at the oozy cheese! It’s so exciting!

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I enjoyed these quesadillas with a Mexican side-dish favorite, Fiesta Potatoes. Click here to get the recipe.

If you happen to try this recipe and have Instagram, take a picture of your quesadilla and use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can see your wonderful creation. Don’t forget to add me at thisvegangirl, as I update my IG every day.

This is just the beginning of my cashew cheese journey! Stay tuned, everyone!

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Classic Hummus (Revamped)

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July 21, 2014 By

It’s a damn shame that after a year of blogging, I have yet to post a single hummus recipe. It’s better late than never, I suppose!

Ever since I’ve had a food processor, I have been stirring up hummus around once per week. It’s such a staple in my diet, I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it. I don’t think I’ve ever turned down hummus before, nor will I ever do such a thing. If I ever turn down hummus, please put me down to sleep, as I am bedridden, being fed by tubes, and most likely shitting my pants. I should put that in my will…

As I digress from that disturbing thought, let’s shift the topic over to something more pleasant: how easy it is to make hummus. Dump, mix, taste, mix some more, taste again, tweak, mix one more time, and serve. It’s the best snack/light lunch of all time.

I’ve been making the same recipe for a long time, involving chickpeas, olive oil, tahini, lemon, garlic, and salt. Simple, but it was a bit plain. Spices are a vegan’s best friend, so I decided to, ya know, SPICE THINGS UP A BIT. The result was WOW! It definitely had the kick that was missing for so long. Thus, the classic hummus routine had become revamped.

If you’re looking to revamp your classic hummus recipe, give mine a mix!

 

Classic Hummus (Revamped)

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Yield: 2 cups of hummus

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of organic chickpeas or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs tahini
  • 4 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • hemp hearts as garnish (optional)

 

STEP 1: Drain and rinse the chickpeas.

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STEP 2: Place all ingredients in the food processor.

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STEP 3: Mix.

STEP 4: Enjoy.

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Wow. That was the easiest entry I’ve ever written. Again, this is why hummus reigns supreme.

 

Don’t forget to add me on Instagram, which I update every day. Also, use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can see your renditions of my recipes you try!

 

Happy mixing,

thisvegangirllogo

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Almond Butter Smoothie Bowl

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July 14, 2014 By

I have been more active on the This Vegan Girl account on Instagram recently.

Being on IG, I had no problem finding people to follow. Gorgeous photos, vibrant colors, exotic fruit, and ideas made to inspire filled my feed.

There was one recipe that seemed to be appearing time and time again: the smoothie bowl. In Buddha bowls or mason jars, these bowls were fruity, colorful, and versatile. The term “nana ice cream” also became a new word in my vocabulary.

I decided to try it myself. Not only was it incredibly easy, but the results have been superb time and time again. It is a fabulous breakfast or snack that can fill you up with healthy, wholesome ingredients.

The main things you’ll need to make Nana Ice Cream, or the base of any smoothie bowl, must contain the following:

  • frozen banana
  • non-dairy milk (I use coconut milk, as it is thick and sweet)
  • a blender/food processor

I bought three bunches of bananas, sliced them, placed them in a plastic storage ziplock bag, and put the bag in the freezer. Do this the day or night before you intend to make your smoothie bowl. These bananas will definitely be gone in the next week or so.


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When you’re ready to make the smoothie bowl, place 2-3 handfuls of frozen banana in your food processor. Fill with milk near the top of the fruit, almost covering the top frozen banana (but not quite). Mix and serve. It’s that simple.

Of course, there are so many ways to get creative with it. Here is one of my favorite smoothie bowls to make.

 

Almond Butter Smoothie Bowl

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Yield: as little, or as much, as you need

 

Ingredients

Base: (to go in the food processor)

  • frozen banana
  • frozen dark leafy greens
  • coconut milk
  • 2 tbs almond butter
  • a splash of vanilla
  • flax seed (optional)

Toppings:

  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • walnuts
  • hemp hearts
  • chia seed

 

STEP 1: Gather your base ingredients and place them in your food processor or blender. 

The day before, I cut up frozen banana and placed them in the freezer in a plastic ziplock storage bag.

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As far as the frozen dark leafy greens go, I make my own plastic ziplock storage bag containing a medley of my three favorites: kale, spinach, and swiss chard.

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My baby Fleegle loves to help in the kitchen! Here he is singing to the bag of frozen dark leafy greens.

When placing the items in the food processor, put in all ingredients except the coconut milk. You want to pour in the milk last in order to fill in gaps and see exactly how much you need. The milk should be filled near the top of the pile, but don’t have it cover the ingredients. You want enough milk so the contents will stir, but you don’t want so much that you’ll be left with watery soup. You’ll want it to be the consistency of frozen yogurt (or frozen yogurt juuuust as its starting to melt).

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STEP 2: Pour the base into a bowl.

I usually end up putting the bowl in the freezer as I prepare the toppings. This keeps the base cold, along with the bowl.

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Or, you guys could be professional chefs and have everything ready before you begin. Whatever, all you organized people out there. Again, I’m the epitome of amateur hour.

 

STEP 3: Prepare the toppings.

I have all my seeds and nuts in mason jars. I’ll set them out in a row, kind of like an assembly line.

In this case, I needed to cut the strawberries. I sliced up a handful.

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STEP 4: DECORATE!

This is the fun part!

Remove your smoothie bowl from the freezer. Stir it up before dressing it up, as the top and edges may be slightly solid from being in the freezer. After that, have fun!

Matt likes to just sprinkle and pile his toppings in no particular order or fashion. I, on the other hand, treat each bowl like a blank canvas. I try to make each bowl a different work of art.

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To check out all of my smoothie bowl art, go to my Instagram account. Don’t forget to add me while you’re there. I’m trying to update the blog once per week, but I upload something on IG almost every day.

 

 

Happy blending,

thisvegangirllogo

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The Toast Sampler

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July 7, 2014 By

It’s breakfast time, and you’re not quite sure what you’re in the mood for. Never to fear, for The Toast Sampler is here!

The Toast Sampler cures breakfast heartaches and solves all your morning culinary problems, including:

  • I don’t know what I’m in the mood for. Each piece of toast caters to a different taste region of your tastebuds, so it’ll combat any/all cravings.
  • I don’t want a sugary breakfast. I hear ya. With The Toast Sampler, few strawberries will be the only sugar you’ll consume, and it’ll be the perfect amount of sweetness.
  • I need something to-go. Have you ever tried eating cereal and driving? I have, during my stupid teenage years. Not only was it completely idiotic, but extremely difficult. My point is that toast is a lot easier, and more safe, to eat on-the-go.
  • I’ll be hungry in an hour. You obviously didn’t have The Toast Sampler for breakfast, then. I pile on the vegetables and fruit, with filling spreads on the bottom.
  • It’s not gluten-free. Oh, but it is. I use GF bread and toast them up. The GF bread will also help with problem of staying full.
  • I’m not hungry in the morning. The Toast Sampler is so yummy, you’ll want it.
  • I don’t have time. You’ll need a bit more time to prepare this than cereal, but definitely not as much time as, say, pancakes.Wake up 10-15 minutes earlier to indulge in this breakfast delight. It’s worth it.
  • I don’t cook. … it’s toast.

 

Are you convinced? If not, maybe the pictures will help. BEHOLD:

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Forgive me, as I don’t  have exact measurements on spreads and seasoning. Just spread and sprinkle, guys. It’s not that hard.

 

Avocado Toast

  • Tofutti vegan cream cheese base
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • spinach on top (I took a few leaves and tore them with my fingers.)

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If you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or someone who loves avocado, you’re probably very good friends with avocado toast. There is my spin on it.

 

Almond Butter Toast

  • almond butter base
  • lots of strawberry slices on top

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I actually have two almond butters right now. One is a CRUNCHY VARIETY (hardly ever seen), which I adore. The other is a vanilla espresso variety, which I equally adore. I hope that eating the vanilla espresso almond butter gives me a tiny boost in the morning.

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Hummus Toast

  • hummus base
  • grape tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • arugula leaves
  • hemp hearts

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This one was a spur-of-the-moment toast that I ended up loving! I used a kalamata olive hummus, which was divine.

 

Happy toasting,

thisvegangirllogo

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Creamy Dreamy Garlic Pizza

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July 1, 2014 By

I love experimenting with vegan pizza. This is my fourth pizza on the blog, officially making pizza the most versatile dish ever. It’s all about the base.

My other three pizzas include:

And now, the latest edition to the vegan pizza brigade: the creamy garlic base!

I’m proud of this one. The creaminess imitates the presence of cheese. I’m also thrilled by the fact that this is soy-free and free of processed ingredients!

 

Creamy Dreamy Garlic Pizza

Prep Time: about 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes (most can be done during prep time)

Yield: 8 slices

 

Ingredients

GF Pizza Crust: (see recipe here) (optional)

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Water (warm)
  • 1 tbs flax seed mixed with 3 tbs warm water
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1-1/2 cups GF all-purpose baking flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Cashew Cream Base/Drizzle:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, milled (or soaked in water for 8 hours)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/8-1/4 cup water (depending on how thick you want it. I opted for 1/4 cup.)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Pizza Toppings:

  • 4oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 10 grape tomatoes
  • 1 small handful of arugula
  • 1 small handful of pine nuts

 

STEP 1: Make the pizza crust or knead your dough. 

For all the glutards out there (don’t worry, guys… I’m a part of the community, so it’s cool), I have provided a great gluten-free recipe hereIt’s from Bob’s Red Mill’s website. I have tried more than a handful of different pizza crust recipes, and that one is by far my favorite one.

GF pizza crust works way differently in terms of how it’s handled. Regular dough requires kneading to spread it onto a pizza pan. GF pizza crust is more of a smoothing process, as the dough doesn’t “bounce back” like normal dough does. A great tip for smoothing the GF dough onto a pan is to keep your hands wet.  This prevents your fingers from transforming into those of a dough monster.

GF crust needs to go through a preliminary cooking stage before any toppings go on. Place the crust in the oven at 425 degrees for 7 minutes. Take out and set aside.

 

Pre precook

Pre precook

Post precook

Post precook

 

STEP 2: Prepare toppings that need to be cooked down beforehand.

After the mushrooms and onions are chopped, let them simmer in the coconut oil until they are sweating, which will take 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Spritz them with lemon juice during the last minute. Set aside.

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STEP 3: Prepare the cashew cream. 

This is a great step to tackle while Step 1 and 2 are cooking.

If you did not soak your cashews and have a very strong food processor or milling device (I use my Nutribullet milling blade. A coffee grinder will probably work, too.), mill the cashews and garlic before adding the rest of the ingredients. Mix until creamy and smooth.

If you did soak the cashews, drain the cashews and mix well in the food processor with the garlic. Once the cashews are completely liquified, add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until creamy and smooth.

If you want a thick cream, opt for 1/8 cup of water. I wanted my base to be the consistency of a drizzle, so I measured out 1/4 cup instead. It’s all about preference.

 

Milled garlic and cashews: The Bold and the Beautiful

Milled garlic and cashews: The Bold and the Beautiful

 

STEP 4: Put the crust with base and precooked toppings in the oven.

Start with pouring the cashew cream on the crust and spreading it to the edges. Make sure to save some for the drizzle at the end! Sprinkle on the mushroom/onion mixture as the topping. Place in the oven for 6-7 minutes at the same temperature.

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STEP 5: Chop and prepare raw toppings. 

I love mixing fresh, raw toppings with cooked toppings on pizza! Grape tomatoes and arugula worked very well with this recipe. Complete this step while your base is still cooking.

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STEP 6: Once the base is done cooking, dress up the rest of your pizza! 

Add on the tomatoes and arugula, along with pine nuts and drizzle. Slice it up and enjoy!

Pre drizzle

Pre drizzle

Post drizzle

Post drizzle

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So, I went to sit down in front of the TV to relish this tasty lunch I made when I found THIS. TWO SLEEPY BEEPY BABIES.

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Be still my heart.

 

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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