Lemon Pesto Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

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September 6, 2015 By

Sometimes, I find myself in a pasta rut. During this time, I’ll rely too much on pasta to get by. How can I not? Just add vegetables to sauce and you have yourself a solid dinner and a filling lunch for the next day.

Well, the truth about pasta is that it can get repetitive. Sometimes, it’s fun to switch it up. That’s why I’ve created this recipe in the style of a sandwich. It’s a fun way to eat eggplant Parmesan, vegan style. You can eat it as a sandwich, burger, or even a sub!

This recipe can be a hybrid of other recipes and my own combined. For the “Parmesan” cheese, you have two options. If you have Chao cheese at your grocery store, using a slice on your sandwich is easy and delicious! If Chao cheese isn’t sold at your local grocery store of if you’d prefer to create something homemade, I have attached a moxarella cheese recipe, as seen by My Wife Makes and inspired by Vedged Out.

 

Lemon Pesto Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

Click here for a picture-free print out version of this recipe!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Yield: 4 patties for 4 sandwiches

 

Ingredients

For the eggplant patty:

  • one large eggplant, sliced
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, gluten-free and vegan (I use the brand Gillian’s Breadcrumbs)
  • 4 pieces of rice paper
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the lemon pesto:

  • 1 juice of a small lemon, squeezed (3 tablespoons of lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pinches of salt

Other ingredients:

  • grape seed oil, as needed
  • bread of your choice (sandwich bread, sub rolls, buns)
  • Chao cheese slices (or homemade Moxarella cheese recipe, seen here)
  • your favorite marinara sauce
  • any other sandwich add-ons (onion, tomato, spinach, etc.)

 

Step 1: Slice the eggplant and decide what you are doing with it.

Cut your eggplant into thick slices. When cooked, eggplant loses its volume a bit, so cutting it a bit thicker will work out nicely in the final product. I suggest cutting up to 6 inch/15 centimeter slices.

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After that, you have a big choice to make. Are you going to fry your eggplant or bake it? DECIDE NOW.

If you are going to fry your eggplant, see STEP 2.

If you are going to bake your eggplant, go down to STEP 3.

 

Step 2: Precook the eggplant in the oven.

Ah, so you’ve chosen to fry your eggplant. A fine choice for the taste buds. While taking photos of this entry, I chose to fry my eggplant as well.

You’ll want to precook your eggplant in the oven to make it softer before frying it. Preheat the oven to 350º F / 176º C. Coat your baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil and bake for 15 minutes. Allow the eggplant slices to cool before Step 3.

 

Step 3: Wrap and bread your eggplant.

Without egg, it can be difficult to keep breadcrumbs on whatever you’re trying to cook. My favorite solution is to first wrap it in sticky rice paper, which will hold breadcrumbs beautifully. Plus, rice paper has a fantastic texture that can hold any flavor.

Speaking of flavor, on the list of ingredients, I put “salt and pepper, to taste”. The breadcrumbs are where you really get that flavor in. Your breadcrumbs might already have an amazing flavor; in this case, you don’t need to add anything to it. In my case, the breadcrumbs I buy don’t have any flavor, so I need to add salt and pepper on my own. Feel free to get creative here. You can amp up your breadcrumbs by also adding garlic powder and/or Italian herbs.

Set up an assembly line for your work station: a large, flat dish filled with warm water, a plate to wrap the eggplant, a dish with the breadcrumbs, and a dish to place your finished patties on. To assemble, first submerge one piece of rice paper into the warm water for around 10 seconds. Next, transfer the softened rice paper onto the wrapping plate. Strategically fold the wrapping paper so all sides of the eggplant are equally covered. Lastly, take the patty onto the breadcrumb plate and cover the rice paper with breadcrumbs. Continue this process until all patties are complete.

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Step 4: Cook your patties.

If you are baking your eggplant: Cook your patties at 450º F / 232º C for 20 minutes, flipping the patties about halfway through.

If you are pan-frying your eggplant: In a deep skillet, coat the bottom with 4 tablespoons of grape seed oil at medium heat. Once the oil is heated, use a spatula to gently place the patties in the skillet. You may have to turn the heat down to medium low, depending on your stove. Flip patties over when they have cooked to golden brown (5-10 minutes). Cook the other side of the patty for 5 minutes. When both sides are golden brown, place on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil.

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If you created the homemade moxarella cheese, the patties taste delicious if the moxarella cheese is browned. After the patties are done cooking, add the moxarella cheese into the oven on broil. Cook for 3-5 minutes, keeping your eye on it to prevent burning.

 

Step 5: Prepare other toppings, including the lemon pesto.

If you haven’t done so by now, begin to heat up your marinara sauce in a saucepan on the stove. Cover and stir occasionally.

If your bread is gluten-free and vegan, you probably need to thaw and toast. This bread by Food for Life is expensive, but so delicious!

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If you are adding any vegetables to your sandwich (such as onion, tomato, or spinach), prepare.

To make the lemon pesto, put all lemon pesto ingredients in a food processor or blender. Spread it on your bread when ready.

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Step 6: Assemble and enjoy!

Put it all together, and you have delicious sandwiches!

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If you tried it and liked it, tag me on social media. Also, add me!


 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Mushroom-Walnut Tacos with Queso

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January 29, 2015 By

The idea for these tacos came in bits and pieces. I guess it started a few weeks ago  when my soon-to-be brother-in-law was telling me how mushrooms are the umami, or savory part, of vegan dishes. He’s right! Mushrooms have volume, can easily absorb flavors, and ooze juices when cooked just right.

Fast forward to that special time of month when my stomach becomes a dumping ground from all the crap I stuff my face with. Okay, I’m exaggerating a tad, but the cravings were a bit out of control this month. I was obsessed with this Dairy-Free Dorito Popcorn recipe from Whole New Mom.

I thought about that perfect spice blend nonstop that week. Then, it came to me: “This would be a delicious taco seasoning.” That thought, plus the thought of the savoriness of mushrooms, led me conceive this dreamy meal. The “meat” here is full of flavor and has a great consistency!

Don’t get me wrong; I looove black bean tacos. However, it’s difficult to incorporate taco seasoning in black beans. They’re just not the absorbent type.

Try this recipe and you will not be disappointed. In fact, you might be obsessed like I am.

 

Mushroom-Walnut Tacos with Queso

Click here for a print-out version of this recipe!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10-20 minutes

Yield: 8 tacos

 

Ingredients

For the Mushroom-Walnut Meat:

  • 2 large portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, crushed (but not minced)
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • a dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

For the Queso:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, milled in the blender or food processor
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/8 cup grape seed oil

Additional Ingredients/Toppings:

  • Taco shells/tortillas (I used mini corn tortillas to keep it gluten-free)
  • tomatoes
  • red onion
  • spinach
  • avocado

 

Step 1: Prepare the toppings.

I’m trying to get more organized in the kitchen by chopping the little stuff first.

I got an EXTREMELY rare, beautiful picture of my cockatiel Fleegle here. I was taking pictures of my chopped fruits and veggies, and Fleegle flew over to see what was going on. As soon as I snapped this picture, he flew away, leaving me with a lovely picture of his wingspan! I’ve never seen the details of his underwing, and it’s so beautiful!

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Step 2: Blend/mix/cook the meat.

I like to start with the spices. Since nutritional yeast is made with flakes, I like to put all the spices in the blender together at once. That way, all the spices are evenly distributed and fused together.

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After that, throw the mushrooms in the food processor until the mushrooms are in tiny pieces.

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Are your walnuts crushed yet? If so, do that now. Make sure your walnuts are decent chunks. I lightly crushed mine with the handle of my cutting knife.

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Mix the spices, mushrooms, and walnuts together in a bowl. There’s your meat!

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Throw the meat on a skillet set at medium heat. Stir/flip the meat every minute or so for about 10-12 minutes. You’ll start to see the meat become more crumbly; this is jackpot, people.

No, you're not looking at poop in a ramekin. It's deliciousness in a ramekin.

No, you’re not looking at poop in a ramekin. It’s deliciousness in a ramekin.

Step 3: Blend your queso.

The queso can be made in 5 minutes while the taco meat is cooking (as long as you keep stirring the meat every minute or so).

Start by placing only the cashews in the blender/food processor. Blend until the cashews are in tiny bits or like cashew meal.

 

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Post milling

After that, toss or pour the rest of the cashew cheese ingredients in the blender/food processor and blend until all ingredients turn into liquid gold.

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Step 4: Prepare your taco shells.

If you’re using corn tortillas like I did, you’re going to need to fry them on the pan on medium heat. I used a tiny bit of coconut oil for every tortilla I used. The tortillas fried for about 2 minutes on each side.

For those of you that are baking your tortillas in the oven, follow the packaged directions to do that.

For those of you eating soft flour tortillas, you may happily be on your merry way to Step #5… asshole. What? I didn’t say anything. Okay, I’m just super jealous, alright? Sorry.

 

Step 5: Assemble your tacos.

Oh yay! This is the fun part! Will you put on the leafy greens first, or the meat? Who cares? It’s up to you!

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If you like what you see, you might want to do the following:

  • Follow me on Instagram @thisvegangirl. I post my day-to-day meals there. If you try one of my recipes, I love when you post a picture and tag me!
  • Like me on Facebook for quick updates on new recipes.
  • Follow my board on Pinterest to see what’s pinspiring me.
  • Comment below!

 

¡Olé!

thisvegangirllogo

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Cheesy Green Bean Casserole

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November 17, 2014 By

This Thanksgiving will be my second vegan Thanksgiving. Last year, I spent my Thanksgiving at Matt’s aunt’s house, which was very nice. I contributed a dish, and Matt’s mom made several gluten-free vegan dishes. No pressure.

This year, the pressure is on me: I’M HOSTING. I’m hosting both Matt’s family and my family, where our parents will meet for the first time. Not only that, but I will be the only vegan in attendance, so all my vegan dishes are going to need to be kickass in order to please the omnivores. I get the sweats just thinking about all the pressure.

One of the attendees requested green bean casserole, so I went to work searching online. With disappointment, I looked through a lot of recipes that just fell short. I need to blow the socks off these people, and I refuse to make a subpar dish.

I decided to take a chance with a non-vegan recipe and to veganize it. I took the great Alton Brown’s “Best Ever Green Bean Casserole” recipe and made some gluten-free & vegan changes.

Now, I’m confident that my green bean casserole is awesome. If you need a gluten-free vegan green bean casserole for your Thanksgiving, look no further. This recipe is creamy, cheesy, flavorful, and has a pleasant little crunch from the crispy onions.

 

Cheesy Green Bean Casserole

Prep Time: 25 mins

Cook Time: 45 mins

Yield: 6-8 servings

 

Ingredients

For the Crispy Onions:

  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs or seasoned coating
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • a teeny bit of coconut oil (or grape seed oil), for greasing

For the Cheesy Cashew Cream:

  • 1/2 cup cashews, milled
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tbs grape seed oil or melted coconut oil

All Other Ingredients:

  • 24 oz green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 16 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbs grape seed oil or coconut oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbs all-purpose GF flour
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper, to taste

 

Step 1: Prepare and bake the onions.

Preheat the oven to 450/232 degrees Fahrenheit/Celcius. Chop the onions thinly and separate with your fingers. Brace yourself for this step. I had to walk away with burning tears in my eyes THREE TIMES.

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Stinky goodness… so beautiful, it brings burning tears to your eyes.

Take your chopped onions, put them in a large tupperware container, pour in the breadcrumbs/coating, and shake it up, baby. Go ahead and twist and shout while you’re at it.

Once the onions are perfectly coated, take out a greased baking sheet, spread the onions out on it evenly, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, shifting the onions halfway through. When you remove the onions from the oven, reduce the heat to 400/204 degrees Fahrenheit/Celsius.

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Step 2: Blanch the green beans.

While the onions are cooking, get to making those beautiful, lush beans! Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Boil your beans for only 4-5 minutes. I did 4 minutes and 30 seconds, and my green beans were perfect.

DSC_0004While those green beans are boiling, get out a big bowl and fill it with ice water. Once the green beauties have steamed their way to perfection, quickly strain them and immediately place them in ice water. This will keep them cooked, yet firm.

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You can keep them in the water for a while, since you’ve got other things to worry about.

 

Step 3: Prepare the cashew cream.

Once step 4 comes along, things will escalate quickly, so we’ll want that cashew cream ready to go.

I don’t believe in soaking cashews to make cashew cream. The whole thing can be done without soaking as long as you have a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder.

Start by placing the cashews into your milling machine of choice. Mine is a NutriBullet, which has an amazing milling blade that does the job beautifully. Mix the cashews until they become a pulp.

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Pre milling

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Post milling

After that, add all other cashew cream ingredients (coconut milk, oil, salt, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika). Set aside.

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Step 4: Cook all remaining ingredients on the stove.

But WAIT! There’s an order!

Start with the 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan on medium heat, followed by the mushrooms. Season those mushrooms with a little bit of sea salt and pepper.

DSC_0018Once the mushrooms start to sweat (4-5 minutes), add in the minced garlic and nutmeg and cook for another 1-2 minutes. After that, sprinkle the gluten-free all-purpose flour in there, letting it cook for 1 minute.

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Pour in the vegetable broth and let it simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to low and add the cashew cream, mixing it all together and letting it cook for about 5 more minutes.

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Step 5: Put the dish together and bake.

Remove the pan from the stove and mix in the green beans and 1/4 of the crispy onions. Place the mixture in a baking pan and sprinkle the rest of the crispy onions on top. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve it hot.

It’ll look something like this:

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Oh, man. This was awesome. I can’t wait to serve this on Thanksgiving!

In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying this as my leftovers tomorrow for lunch. 🙂

 

Before I go, FREE PLUG PARTY! (Right, fellow Tosh.0 fans?)

  • Follow me on Instagram @thisvegangirl, and don’t forget to tag me in pictures of creations you’ve made from my blog! You can use the hashtag #thisvegangirl, too.
  • Like This Vegan Girl on Facebook for updates on new blog posts.
  • Comment below if you’ve tried my recipe and liked it!

 

Happy Thanksgiving,

thisvegangirllogo

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Quiche Bites

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September 26, 2014 By

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:

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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!

 

Quiche Bites

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40-45 minutes (depending on which oil you use)

Yield: 24+ mini quiches

 

Ingredients

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:

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DSC_0005As you can see, the cashews aren’t ground into a fine pulp. Rather, it’s broken down to tiny little bits. It’s good for the texture we’re looking for.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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DSC_0053I know, it doesn’t look beautiful. Trust me, though; it really is.

 

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:

DSC_0062Lol, I know. Horrible.

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.

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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.

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It's easy to see which quiches were overstuffed… oops!

It’s easy to see which quiches were overstuffed… oops!

 

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!

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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.

 

Happy baking,

thisvegangirllogo

 

 

 

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The Best Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese!

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September 14, 2014 By

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:

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  • 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!

Click here for a print-out version of this recipe!

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 full servings or 8 side-dish servings

 

Ingredients

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

Other ingredients:

  • 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.

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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.

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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.

Pre 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.

Once you have blended the cashews, add the rest of the cashew cream ingredients. It will look something like this:

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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.

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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.

Splitting it in half

Splitting it in half

Yay for delicious leftovers!

Yay for delicious leftovers!

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.

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Place your dish(es) in the oven at 350º for 30 minutes.

See? No more sticky noodles. Only the yums.

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If you’re looking for more cashew cheese recipes, you can check out Quesadillas with Monterey Jack Cheese, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, and Balsamic Basil Chickun Wraps with Cashew Cheese.

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.

Connect with me!

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Happy reinventing,

thisvegangirllogo

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Balsamic Basil Chickun Wrap with Cashew Cheese

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September 7, 2014 By

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

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

Other ingredients:

  • spinach
  • 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.

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My green Organix pan!

My green Organix 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.

Golden brown goodness. These are ready to go.

Golden brown goodness. These are ready to go.

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.

Beauty

Beautiful basil

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Step 3: Combine the tofu and tomatoes in the vinaigrette.

Toss. Smell. Swoon. Set aside.

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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:

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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.

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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:

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DSC_0031I 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:

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First, cashew cheese.

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Then, spinach.

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Finally, topped with the tofu vinaigrette.

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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.

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I hope you can use this recipe to spruce up your lunch routine a bit. Enjoy!

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

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August 15, 2014 By

Ever since I defied the “sucky vegan cheese” odds with my Quesadillas with Monterey Jack Cheese, I’ve been trying to think of new ways to use my invention.

This past week, I have been surrounded by children. My cousins (ages 11-12) came down to visit from Delaware, which allowed me to channel my inner tween. I also babysat my former colleague’s little girls (ages 6 and 8) for the week, for whom I was a personal chef of mini treats.

Surrounding myself around young ones all week put my mind in a juvenile place. It wasn’t surprising that by the middle of the week, I was having an intense craving for the ultimate American young’un meal: grilled cheese and tomato soup. And now, with my new discovery of melty vegan cheese, I could finally pull off this gem! Don’t forget to check out my Tomato Basil Soup, which goes perfectly with the grilled cheese sandwiches!

 

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10-15 minutes

Yield: 4-6 grilled cheese sandwiches (depending on the size of the bread)

 

Ingredients:

For Cheese:

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

Other Ingredients:

  • your favorite bread (I used Trader Joe’s gluten-free vegan Brown Rice bread)
  • grape seed oil or coconut oil, for frying

 

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.

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mmmmm… cheesy!

 

Step 3: Scoop cashew cheese onto your bread slices.

If you’re using frozen gluten-free bread like I did, you’re going to want to toast your bread before you scoop. Don’t cook the bread fully, but toast it just enough to evaporate the wetness and make it warm throughout. (Disregard if you’re not using frozen bread).

Lay out your bottom slices and scoop 2-3 heaping tablespoons of cashew cheese onto your bread. Our bread is small, so we use 2 tablespoons of cheese per sandwich. If you’re using bigger bread slices, feel free to use three, or even four, scoops of cashew cheese. With the back of your spoon, spread the cheese evenly throughout the bread slice.

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Once the cheese is on the bottom slice, place your top slice on top of the cheese, making the sandwich kiss. Resist the urge to smoosh the sandwich down, as we don’t want the cheese to drip down the bread.

DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOUR SANDWICH!

DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOUR SANDWICH!

 

Step 4: Fry your sandwiches on both sides.

In a frying pan on medium-low or medium heat, pour about 2 tablespoons of oil onto the pan. Place your sandwiches onto the pan. I like to shake the pan around for a few seconds to help move the oil throughout the bottom of the bread.

Keep checking the face-down part of your bread every minute or so. When your bread becomes golden brown, flip the sandwich over. You might want to pour another tablespoon of oil onto the pan and mix it around again, just as an added measure to prevent break stickiness (the worst). Your bread should be ready to remove from the pan within the next few minutes.

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Step 5: Slice in half and enjoy!

I paired this bread with my Tomato Soup recipe, and oh my goodness, it was a dream. It was the perfect thing to dip my sandwich into! I haven’t enjoyed this treat in so long, and it was such a treat to indulge in this cruelty-free delight.

You gotta slice it in half!

You gotta slice it in half!

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Pair it with my tomato soup!

Pair it with my tomato soup!

If you make the grilled cheese sandwiches, I have an amazing Tomato Basil Soup (seen above) to pair it with! Also, don’t forget to take a picture of it, post it on Instagram, and use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can see it. I’d love to see your grilled cheese sandwiches and how you decide to present them. Speaking of Instagram, follow me! I post my day-to-day meals, if anyone gives a crap. I’m also on Facebook, too. Thanks for all your support!

 

Happy reminiscing (whilst cooking),

thisvegangirllogo

 

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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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