September 26, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
When it comes to my own recipes, sometimes I need to get Pinspired. I follow a lot of vegan recipe boards on Pinterest, which allow me to step out of my comfort zone and make something I’ve never made before. These recipes aren’t for my blog, though. It’s just for me to enjoy.
However, there are the rarest of occasions when I step out of the vegan realm, put on my big girl pants, and reluctantly creep into a scary world: the vague search option Food & Drink. Anyone who is vegan knows that just looking at the Food & Drink option on Pinterest without anything in the search bar is very, very difficult. The worst, even. Recipes oozing with cheese and countless amounts of other options I can’t indulge in flood my feed.
But there’s a method to my madness: the Barney Stinson in me is bored and wants to challenge himself by looking for something to veganize.
Sure enough, a few days ago, I came across this famous pin from The Kitchen is My Playground:
They’re called Individual Veggie Quiche Cups To-Go. Woah! That’s cool! My Gluten-Free Pancake Bites have probably been my most popular recipe to-date, so I am a huge fan of the cute little to-go breakfast treats! Unfortunately, the quiche recipe above has egg and cheese in it.
Challenge accepted, I told myself.
My first attempt at the recipe you are about to see was a huge success. Don’t you love it when that happens? Who knows… maybe I’m just getting better at this stuff!
Anyway, I’m very impressed with the taste and texture of these Quiche Bites. I can picture them as being an awesome hors d’oeuvre. I just relocated to a new Florida city, so I’m thinking about making these when I attend my first vegan potluck!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40-45 minutes (depending on which oil you use)
Yield: 24+ mini quiches
For the food processor:
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbs grape seed oil or coconut oil
- 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 heaping tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/8 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 12oz package of extra firm tofu, cubed
To (finely) chop:
- 1 cup spinach (or any dark leafy green)
- 1 cup broccoli
- 1 cup mushroom
- 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
- 1/2 cup green onion
Step 1: Blend the food processor ingredients.
You want to start out with the cashews. Just the cashews. My food processor is pretty weak, so here are the results it yielded:
After that, add all the other food processor ingredients (oil, milk, nutritional yeast, salt, smoked paprika) but the tofu. We’ll save the tofu for last.
As far as oil preference, I’ve found that different oils produced a different quiche. If you’re looking for a light, airy quiche, use grape seed oil. The batch containing coconut oil was more moist and hearty, so if that’s what you’re all about, use coconut oil. The ones photographed here contained coconut oil, but I’ll admit that I prefer the taste/texture/results of grape seed oil in this recipe.
Now, what I like to do with the tofu is plop in the cubes while the food processor is turning. I don’t know if it does anything special, but I like to think that it’s less overwhelming for my appliance.
Once all the tofu is mixed in, you’re going to be left with a strange concoction: the base! Pour/gloop the base into a big bowl. Set aside.
Step 2: Place chopped veggies in the bowl.
If you haven’t chopped your veggies yet, now is the time to do so.
I’m proud to share that my green onions are doing very well! I’m using them for today’s recipe. All of these have grown just by placing the white bulbs in soil… that’s it!
Just to let you all know, you don’t have to do use these particular vegetables. You might want to take this opportunity to clear out the refrigerator by using veggies you have on-hand. In my previous batch, I used arugula instead of spinach, white onion instead of green, and didn’t use any mushrooms at all. It still tasted marvelous. Use whatever you’ve got, and I’m sure it’ll be yummy.
Once your vegetables are chopped, place them in the same bowl as your base. Mix.
Step 3: Pour and bake.
I need you all to know that I used a mini muffin pan for these Quiche Bites. Using a regular muffin pan will not yield the same fantastic results; it’s too heavy and thick, causing the quiche to fall apart. However, if you have a round pie dish lying around, you could probably yield some nice results from that.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Get out your mini muffin pan. I didn’t use muffin cups for this recipe, but hey, that’s up to you. Also, I didn’t grease my muffin pan, as the mixture has enough oil in it to moisturize the pan with minimal stickiness.
Take a tablespoon and try to neatly spoon your mixture inside the divots. Here was my best attempt at cleanliness:
I really, really wanted to only do only one batch of these, so I stuffed and stacked them high. If you have enough patience to do another batch, by all means, do that. You’ll get to see my results in a few seconds, anyway.
If you used olive oil or grape seed oil, your bites should be ready in 40 minutes.
If you used coconut oil, bake them for 45.
Take them out and let them cool down for 5 minutes. They’ll seem a little moist when you first take them out, but the cooling process will help them harden a bit.
Step 4: Spoon out quiche bites and enjoy!
Actually, I “forked out” my quiches (with a fork). It won’t be perfect, but that’s the glamorous life of someone who doesn’t like to buy cupcake cups!
These little babies are SO GOOD! They’re the perfect breakfast treat for those of us who miss omelets!
If you decide to make the best decision of your life and try these out, make sure you let me know how your dish turned out! You can comment below, tell me on Facebook, or use the hashtag #thisvegangirl on Instagram. I update the blog once a week, but I post on Instagram several times a day. Also, you can follow my board on Pinterest. I post my own recipes there, but I also post other recipes that tickle my fancy.
September 14, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
When I first became vegan, I tried to substitute a lot of food I was previously addicted to (namely cheese). I bought all the fake cheeses at the store, and almost every single one disappointed me. I tried to substitute the taste I missed so much.
Here I am, a year and a half later, and I don’t have those cravings anymore. I guess you can say I’ve weaned myself off of my former addiction to cheese. Although I make cashew cheese now (my latest obsession), I’ve accepted that they are two different tastes. In fact, I love the way my cashew cheese tastes, and I feel good about the benefits.
This recipe is an upgrade from my last macaroni and cheese entry, which I deemed to be “The Best Vegan Macaroni and Cheese.” No, lol. Just no. It was not the best macaroni and cheese. I know this now because THIS is the best macaroni and cheese.
Here is a picture of my former macaroni and cheese, including a list of why it wasn’t the best:
- It was sticky. Macaroni and cheese shouldn’t have the consistency of white rice. It should be oozy.
- It was processed. Adding the Tofutti cream cheese gave the mac n’ cheese a processed flair that I didn’t care for.
- The flavor still had room for improvement. It could still afford to be cheesier.
Rest assured that this entry right here is the cure to all of your vegan mac ‘n cheese woes, including the ones listed above. To make the dish more oozy, I added more oil and milk and took away the water completely. I formerly used Tofutti cream cheese to improve texture, but it turns out that if I added more cashew cream, Tofutti wasn’t at all necessary. Finally, to improve flavor, I used some different spices, which includes a perfected medley of nutritional yeast, sea salt, and smoked paprika.
So come on down and try the best vegan mac ‘n cheese you will ever try in your life. Yeah, performed that song and dance before, but that was then and this is now. I guarantee you that this is the last time I will ever change this recipe, because now, it’s perfect the way it is.
The Best Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese!
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 full servings or 8 side-dish servings
In the skillet:
- 1 cup russet potatoes, chopped (any white variety will do)
- 1/3 cup onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup carrots, chopped
- 2 tsp grape seed oil
For the cashew cream:
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked** for 8 hours prior to use OR milled)
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbs of grape seed oil
- 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbs nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 pound of your favorite noodles (I use gluten-free quinoa pasta from Ancient Harvest)
- 1 head of broccoli, de-stemmed and chopped
** If you soak your cashews, use 3/4 cup of raw cashews instead of 1 cup, as the cashews will expand.
Step 1: Cook the skillet ingredients.
Cut up the potatoes, carrots, and onion. Don’t peel your potatoes; keep those nutrients in! Place these items in skillet with the 2 tablespoons of oil. Initially, place the items on medium heat. Once the contents start crackling, turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
Step 2: Boil the macaroni noodles.
Don’t worry about cooking them al dente. I have found that the al dente noodles tend to get a little crunchy in the oven, so I always cook my noodles until they are squishy, but not mushy. Nobody likes mushy.
Once you strain the noodles, rinse them off with cold water. This prevents the noodles from cooking themselves longer from the heat they retain during boiling.
Step 3: Prepare the cashew cream.
I have a NutriBullet, which has a milling blade that grinds cashews to a flour without the need for soaking. If you place the raw cashews in a strong food processor, blender, or coffee grinder, it will probably work. The result you’re looking for is the cashew pulp, seen below. For the non-soakers, blend your cashews first before adding the rest of the ingredients.
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.
Once you have blended the cashews, add the rest of the cashew cream ingredients. It will look something like this:
Step 4: Blend the skillet and cashew cream ingredients in a food processor.
Your skillet time should be up. Dump both the skillet ingredients and cashew cream ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.
Step 5: Mix the noodles, cheese, and broccoli together. Cook.
I cook for only two, so this recipe is excessive for us. We are huge leftover fans, so I put half of the noodles in one baking dish and half in another. I do the same with the cheese and broccoli. One dish will be cooked now; the other will be placed in the fridge and will be cooked tomorrow.
If you live in a house of 4 or more, you’re probably intent on cooking all of it at once, and that is a splendid idea! Oil your favorite baking dish(es) first. Place your noodles in the baking dish. Dump the cheese on top, sprinkle your broccoli pieces, and stir it all up.
Place your dish(es) in the oven at 350º for 30 minutes.
See? No more sticky noodles. Only the yums.
Also, as always, make sure you let me know how your dish turned out! You can comment below, tell me on Facebook, or use the hashtag #thisvegangirl on Instagram. I update the blog once a week, but I post on Instagram several times a day. Also, you can follow my board on Pinterest. I post my own recipes there, but I also post other recipes that tickle my fancy.
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September 7, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
Recently, I’ve been seeing a trend of food blogs taking a “less is more” approach with their ingredient lists. The idea behind it is the less ingredients a passerby sees, the more likely they’re going to say, “Hey! I can do this.” I suppose a long list of ingredients can seem a bit daunting to, say, a busy mom who wants to whip up something fast and yummy on a hectic Thursday night. It’s a cool concept.
I don’t know why, but these blogs made me feel a little down about my own work. I was noticing that some of my entries had the daunting long list of ingredients, and it made me feel like my blog, and its content, wasn’t good enough. I began to try and simplify my ingredients in order to compete.
A few weeks ago, I saw that cooking movie The Hundred Foot Journey. You know, the one about the Indian restaurant that moved across the street from a snooty French restaurant. I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying that movie. Aside from the love story and giggly scenes, I was relieved to see how much they emphasized bold flavor, lots of spices, and a variety of ingredients. The chef in the movie was first criticized by the amount of flavor he used, but was then adored for it once he was given the chance.
As silly as it sounds, I don’t feel so bad about my own creations after seeing that movie. In fact, I’m proud of my flavors, regardless of how many ingredients are involved. Good taste isn’t always simple; sometimes, something complex is what makes someone say, “Mmmm! Wow, what’s in this?” I encourage you all to not be intimidated by ingredient lists, but be inspired to try something you’ve never tried before.
Anyway, back to the recipe at hand: this wrap is amazing and you need to make it today.
Balsamic Basil Chickun Wrap with Cashew Cheese
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes (can be done during prep time)
Yield: 4-6 wraps
Ingredients for Cashew Cheese:
- 3 handfuls (almost 1 cup) of raw cashews
- 3 tbs tahini sauce OR hummus
- 2 heaping tablespoons of nutritional yeast
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
Ingredients for Tofu Viniagrette:
- 6 tbs olive oil
- 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbs fresh basil
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1 15oz container super firm tofu, pressed and diced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- wrap or bread
Step 1: Chop and cook the tofu.
We’re aiming for a chicken-like texture here, so we’re going to pan fry the tofu. I have a green nonstick pan, so I didn’t add any oil to my tofu. However, if you’re afraid of a sticky disaster, use 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or grapeseed oil onto the pan.
I set my temperature a little higher than medium heat, tossing the tofu every couple of minutes. Your tofu will be complete when it’s golden brown, as seen below.
Step 2: Prepare the vinaigrette.
While your tofu is cooking, prepare the vinaigrette. Chop the basil until it’s minced. Place the basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, and salt in a bowl. With a whisk, whip it up quickly for about 10-15 seconds. The idea is you want the oil and vinegar to blend, so it has to be fast.
Step 3: Combine the tofu and tomatoes in the vinaigrette.
Toss. Smell. Swoon. Set aside.
Step 4: Create cashew cheese.
It’s really easy. With a food processor, you’ll want to pulse your cashews to be chunky. Not whole, not milled, but a little in-between, like this:
After that, toss in the rest of the cashew cheese ingredients, and stir until contents are fully mixed together. Use the back of your spoon to press down on the mixture to truly blend the ingredients.
You might have some questions about the tahini sauce. It’s not your regular tahini. I get it from Trader Joe’s, and it looks like this:
I like its paste-y texture, unlike traditional tahini, which is more liquefied. I totally understand if you have never heard of tahini sauce, let alone have it available at your local grocer. If it’s not available, hummus works exactly the same. I’ve tried both, and I enjoyed them equally.
Step 5: That’s a wrap!
Assemble the wrap. This is the order I did mine:
First, cashew cheese.
Finally, topped with the tofu vinaigrette.
For those eating a gluten-free diet, you may or may not have a yummy wrap you can rely on. For those who don’t, you can always go the open-faced sandwich route, which Matt did for this particular meal.
I hope you can use this recipe to spruce up your lunch routine a bit. Enjoy!