Breakfast Cupcakes

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March 20, 2015 By

Are you allowed to eat cupcakes for breakfast? I guess so, but it’s highly frowned upon. If you tell someone that you ate a cupcake for breakfast, you will probably get scolded for it. It’s the dessert label, or high sugar content, that turns people off.

Despite the sugar that exists in both pancakes (with maple syrup) and yogurt, they’re both considered to be acceptable breakfast options. I suppose the fat and sugar content isn’t as high in these two items.

What if I were to tell you that you can have your cupcake (for breakfast), and eat it, too (without being judged or berated by others)?

If you have pancake batter, a mini muffin tin, an oven, and yogurt, you have the makings of breakfast cupcakes!

 

Breakfast Cupcakes

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Cook Time: 17 minutes

Yield: 48 mini cupcakes

 

Ingredients

For the Pancake Batter:

Dry:

  • 1 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup teff flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum

Wet:

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cup nondairy milk mixed with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (I used coconut milk, which made the mix sweet and thick)
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water

For the Yogurt “Icing”:

You may use any yogurt you’d like, but I recommend nondairy Greek yogurt (you’ll see why later).

I created my own concoction. If you’d like to use my recipe (as seen in pictures), use the following ingredients:

  • one container of nondairy Greek plain yogurt (I used the brand So Delicious)
  • 4 small strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

 

Step 1: Mix your nondairy milk with the apple cider vinegar.

Guess what? You don’t need butter to create buttermilk! I love this part. It’s very science-y!

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Step 2: Add the buttermilk, oil, and warm water into a mixing bowl.

Mix!

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Step 3: Whisk the dry ingredients together.

Do this in a separate bowl.

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Step 4: Combine the wet and dry ingredients.

Slowly add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients until full incorporated.

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Step 5: Pour the batter into the mini muffin pan.

Grease up your mini muffin pan. Use a tablespoon to scoop the batter into the mini muffin pan. Fill the cup 3/4 of the way.

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Place this in the oven at 350°F for 17 minutes. There’s a good chance that they’ll look like perfect puffballs of golden perfection when they’re done cooking.

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Step 6: Gather/create your yogurt icing.

If you just plan on plopping your yogurt on top, that’s perfectly legal! I guess all you have to do is take it out of the fridge.

If you plan on using the yogurt from the package, there are two roads you can take. To Greek, or not to Greek? That is the question.

If you want a more “glazed” cupcake (as seen in my photos), go for non-Greek yogurt. If you’re looking for the normal cupcake look, go with Greek yogurt. Here is a picture from my Instagram of an instance where Greek yogurt was used with minimal modifications:

A photo posted by Kristen (@thisvegangirl) on

That looks cool, too, right? It’s all about preference.

However, I must stress that if you plan on using the yogurt icing recipe I have provided on this page, you MUST use Greek yogurt. If you use non-Greek yogurt, the result will be way too runny. The strawberries carry water that that waters down the Greek yogurt.

For those of you using the yogurt icing recipe, place all ingredients in a blender and mix until fully incorporated. While waiting for the pancakes to finish cooking, place in the refrigerator or freezer after mixing to cool down the mixture. The pancakes might be a little warm, and we don’t want the warmness of the pancakes to melt the yogurt even more.

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Step 7: Put the icing on the cupcake!

Wait for your pancakes/cupcakes to fully cool down before placing on your icing. You don’t want the yogurt to melt even more on top due to the heat.

Use this opportunity to get creative here. You can choose the classic frosted look:

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You can dip your pancakes into a yogurt pool:

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You can even dress them up elegantly with a topping of your choice:

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This recipe allows for you to get inventive and use your imagination! If you’re on Instagram or Facebook, take a picture of your breakfast cupcakes and tag me in your post so I can see your unique result!

Connect with me!

 


Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Linguini Puttanesca in a Meat(less) Sauce

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November 21, 2014 By

As a vegan, you sometimes have to take a deep breath and go to a normal restaurant. I met up with my sister at a local restaurant in Stuart, FL at a restaurant in the downtown area called Eighteen Seminole Street Italian Bistro. Italian restaurants are almost completely safe for vegans, as you can always settle for spaghetti and veggies if they don’t have much to offer.

They had a dish called Linguini Puttanesca, which was the only menu option I could eat. I’ve never had it before. Linguini alla Puttanesca is literally “linguini of the whore” in Italian. Well, smack my ass and call me a whore, because this dish was fantastic. It was salty and tangy, which was a fun change from the plain ol’ spaghetti sauce I’ve been eating for 25 years.

Here is my version, “fattened up” with some lentils to give it a meaty texture. This one is A+ husband/boyfriend approved. It’s so easy to make: in fact, this recipe is only broken up into 3 steps! Enjoy!

 

Linguini Puttanesca in a Meat(less) Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

For the food processor:

  • 4 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 oz, or 1/2 cup, tomato paste
  • 3 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tbs, or 1 sprig, fresh oregano
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Other ingredients:

  • 1 pound of pasta (I use Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Quinoa Linguini)
  • 1 15oz can of lentils, drained
  • 1 cup of Castelvetrano olives, pitted and cut into thirds
  • 2 tsp capers
  • basil, for garnish (optional)

 

 Step 1: Make the tomato sauce.

Throw in all the food processor ingredients into your food processor. Mix until fully incorporated.

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Traditional Italian cuisine dictates that Puttanesca is made with olive oil. However, since Puttanesca is a salty dish, I decided to use coconut oil instead of olive oil. The coconut oil has a subtle sweetness that can help offset the tang a bit, so it complements the sauce well. Not only that, but apparently, olive oil doesn’t do well in high heat, but coconut oil does. I’ve been trying to mix up my recipes to only use olive oil in raw dishes.

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Once your sauce has been mixed, pour the sauce into a sauce pan set at medium heat. When the sauce starts bubbling, set heat to low.

 

Step 2: Cook your pasta.

In a separate pot, boil your pasta until cooked. Strain and rinse your noodles when finished. Set aside, if necessary. Normally, my everything seems to be finished by the time the noodles are finished cooking, so I jump right in and serve!

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Step 3: Add the olives, capers, and lentils to your sauce.

I’m an olive snob; I only buy my olives from Whole Foods’s olive bar. These were the olives that turned me on to liking olives in the first place, so it’s been hard to endure low-quality olives when I’ve already had the best. Therefore, I refuse to buy my olives anywhere else. Their Castelvetrano olives are out of this world!

I also buy my lentils canned. It sounds sketchy as f, but it’s actually not that bad! The lentils are organic and come in a non-BPA lining can, so I trust the source. A sad amount of attempts were made (years of trying) to try and transform dried lentils into that texturally-perfect plump consistency, but it never, ever worked for me. Ever since I’ve found organic canned lentils in my local grocery store, it has changed my life. It’s quick, easy, delicious, and perfect for a perpetual lentil failure like me.

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Anyway, add in the olives, capers, and lentils. Mix. Cover the sauce and let it sit until your pasta is ready.

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Step 4: Serve!

Pour some sauce on top of the pasta, garnish, and serve!

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Before you go…

 

Happy cooking,

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.

Pre milling

Pre milling

Post milling

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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Buffalo Quinoa Salad (new and improved!)

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August 31, 2014 By

If you care about something, you want to improve it and make yourself better, right? For me, this blog is a constant reminder of that. I get to see how far I’ve come with not only vegan cooking, but cooking in general. In fact, some of my earlier posts are a bit embarrassing for me to look at.

On that note, here is a specific recipe in particular that I’ve made slight improvements to over the past year, and that’s the Buffalo Quinoa Salad recipe. This is a staple recipe in our household, as it’s one of Matt’s favorites. This version is less processed, less work, and more delicious. You can’t argue with that!

 

Buffalo Quinoa Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes (mostly completed during cook time)

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

For the Tempeh Tenders

  • 1 8oz package of tempeh, diced
  • 4 tbs Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo wing sauce
  • 1/3 cup GF vegan breadcrumbs

Other Ingredients

  • 1 15oz can of garbanzo beans
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup celery, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white onion, diced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • your favorite hummus
  • Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo wing sauce (for drizzling and such)

 

Step 1: Prepare and roast chickpeas.

STEP 1: Preheat oven to 400°F. Drain the chickpeas and pat them dry. Get an oven pan oiled and ready, place chickpeas onto the pan, and dress them with 1 tbs of olive oil. The ONE TABLESPOON is crucial, people. If you add more, your chickpeas will turn out either too mushy or burnt. Move your fingers along the tops of the chickpeas until every chickpea is coated with a bit of oil.

Now, you’re ready to place them in the oven for about 50 minutes. Your result should be crunchy, roasted chickpeas. It’s a great GF crouton, and way more nutritious!

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The roasted chickpeas in their roasty state. It's the perfect GF crouton!

The roasted chickpeas in their roasty state. It’s the perfect GF crouton!

Step 2: Prepare and cook tempeh tenders.

Here is a step that I’ve changed about the previous recipe that will save you lots of time, is less messy, and produces better-quality results. Plus, it’s more fun this way, as dancing with food is involved.

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The best GF vegan breadcrumbs I have ever tried!

The best GF vegan breadcrumbs I have ever tried!

Take your diced tempeh and place it in a tupperware container. Next, pour in the buffalo wing sauce and GF bread crumbs. Put the top on the tupperware container and shake it up! Dance and have fun with your tenders.

When you open up your container, perfectly-coated nuggets will be revealed, without getting a single finger messy!

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Perfection.

Grease a baking sheet, pour the tempeh tenders on top, and place in the oven for 30 minutes. It’s okay to share the oven with the chickpeas. I do it all the time.

Step 3: Cook the quinoa.

Two cups of water and one cup of quinoa will go into a pot. Bring the pot to a bowl, lower the heat to simmer, and cover the pot for 15 minutes.

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Step 4: Cut the vegetables.

With three things cooking at once, you’ll have one more task: cutting the vegetables. CHEF STATUS! Lol, just kidding. Real chefs start prepping their food at 8am.

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Step 5: Combine ingredients in a big bowl.

As things start finishing up, start placing them in a big bowl. Mix it all together.

I like to save the hummus for “garnish” in my own bowl. I like to use Publix’s Jalapeño Cilantro hummus in this dish, as it amps up the kick. However, I’m sure every hummus, store-bought or homemade, works just fine here. Add a heaping tablespoon of your favorite hummus in your own bowl, mix, drizzle some hot sauce on top, and enjoy this heavenly dish.

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Add a heaping tablespoon of your favorite hummus in your own bowl, mix, drizzle some hot sauce on top, and enjoy this heavenly dish.

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I hope you all give this improved version a try!

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Fennel Salad Pizza with Pesto Base

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August 24, 2014 By

I’ve been wanting to make a pizza with a pesto base for quite some time now. However, I just couldn’t seem to come up with ideal toppings for the pizza. I had found myself in a rut, using the same ingredients as toppings over and over. I decided to put off posting the recipe until I came up with the answer.

A week ago, we went to Clearwater, FL to celebrate Matt’s birthday with his parents. Matt’s mom, Gail, loves to cook, and she made him a spectacular dinner for his birthday. On the menu was this to-die-for fennel, red onion, and olive salad. The rest of the family had their salad topped with sea scallops, but even without, mine was incredible.

An Instagram photo of Matt’s birthday dinner. The winning salad is on the bottom left.

I kept thinking about that salad. I thought about it for the next week. I’m not a fan of fennel, or olives for that matter. Nonetheless, I kept thinking about how perfect it was.

It suddenly clicked that this winning salad combination might be my answer to my pesto base pizza woes. I acquired the recipe from Gail, put it on top of the pizza, and the result was out of this world. I always say this, but this time, I mean it; this is my new favorite pizza. Shh… don’t tell the others.

 

Fennel Salad Pizza with Pesto Base

Prep Time: 30-45 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: One pizza pie

 

Ingredients

For the Gluten-Free 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

For the Fennel Salad:

  • 5-6 fennel stalks OR 1 head of fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, rinsed with cold water to reduce raw harshness
  • 1 cup Castelvetrano olives, crushed and pitted
  • 2 tbs fresh or dried tarragon
  • 2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed

For the Pesto Base:

  • 1-2 handfuls of fresh basil, rinsed
  • 1 handful of raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Step 1: Make the fennel salad.

The fennel salad needs to marinate for 20 minutes, so I think this should be numero uno.

I bought my olives at Whole Foods at their olive bar. Start by placing the olives in between sheets of parchment paper.  Mash the olives with the palms of your hand. If it hurts your hand too much, a potato masher will probably do the trick. Once all the olives are mashed, remove the pits, separate the olives into smaller bits with your hands, and place in a bowl.

mashed

mashed

Ready!

Ready!

Next, chop up the red onion. Once chopped, place the red onion in a strainer, rinse off with cold water, and add it to the bowl of olives. Raw red onion is extremely harsh and has quite a bite to it, so we don’t need that type of drama here.

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My knives are an embarrassment to the world of cooking, as I am a starving artist. Therefore, I had to pulse my fennel in the food processor to chop it properly. Hopefully, you don’t have these problems and can cut your fennel like a normal human being. Nevertheless, feel free to use my method.

The three caballeros.

The three caballeros.

Place the rest of the salad ingredients into the bowl. Mix and set aside. Let it marinate for at least 20 minutes.

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Step 2: Prepare the gluten-free pizza crust. (optional)

Not everyone needs to make a gluten-free pizza crust. Not everyone wants to make a gluten-free pizza crust. However, if you do, I’ve found that Bob’s Red Mill’s website has provided the best recipe. View it here. (Substitute 1 tbs flax seed meal & 3 tbs warm water (mixed) for the egg to make it vegan.)

Your pizza crust should look like this when complete:

Pre precook

Pre precook

Gluten-free crust needs to be pre-cooked before adding any base or toppings to it. At 425º, cook the pizza crust for 7 minutes. Set aside.

 

Step 3: Food process the pesto base.

This is the easy part, and it’s the perfect thing to do while you’re waiting for your gluten-free crust to precook. Place all ingredients in a food processor and mix until creamy. Garlic bits are graciously accepted.

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Step 4: Spread pesto base on pizza crust and bake.

Scoop the pesto with a spoon, then use the back of the spoon to smooth out the pesto throughout the crust.

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Bake in the oven at 425º for another 5-7 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

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Why bake the pesto, you ask? I think it gives the garlic a roast-y taste, which I like.

Step 5: Strain the marinade and scoop contents on top of pizza.

Straining the marinade is crucial. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with the most greasy pizza of all time, and that’s not what we’re about here. Just stick it in a colander, let the oil drip out for a few minutes, and scoop the remaining salad on top of the pizza.

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I’d be surprised if you’ve had anything like this pizza before. It tastes so fresh. One thing I really like about this pizza is that the need for tons of salt is minimal, as the parsley and lemon take care of that. It throws so many flavors at you at once, but they all seem to complement each other so nicely. These flavors really have seemed to taken a liking to each other and get along so well. I think they’ll be friends for a long time to come, and my mouth isn’t complaining.

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If you’re interested on trying any of my other pizzas, take a look at the following:

If you happen to try making this pizza and are on Instagram, take a picture of it and use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can take a peek. I’d love to see how it worked out for you. Don’t forget to add me on Facebook, too, as I post all my blog updates on there.

 

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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Peach Pie Quinoa Porridge

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August 7, 2014 By

The word “porridge” makes me think of something I’d hate. Lumpy, tasteless nast. Perhaps a mix between grits (which I’ve never liked) and bland oatmeal, which sounds absolutely awful, doesn’t it?

I’m pleased to say that my quinoa porridge tastes nothing like that! It’s delightfully sweet, a hearty texture, and pleasantly filling.

So, what’s the difference between this and, say, the Almond Butter Smoothie Bowl? Not much, actually! If you want something more light, go with the smoothie bowl. If you want something more substantial and pie-tasting, then try the quinoa porridge.

Using vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg in this recipe make you feel like you’re enjoying a decadent pie.  This is the perfect breakfast for someone who wants protein, has a sweet tooth, and wants something that won’t do damage on your figure.

 

Peach Pie Quinoa Porridge

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

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

Yield: 4 bowls (adjust measurements accordingly)

 

Ingredients:

For the base:

  • 6 bananas, frozen or ripe
  • 4 peaches, pitted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • coconut milk or almond milk
  • 2-3 handfuls of dark leafy greens (optional)

Toppings:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 4 peaches, pitted and diced
  • hemp hearts
  • chia seeds
  • walnuts

 

Step 1: Start cooking the quinoa.

Start by gathering one cup of uncooked quinoa and two cups of water. Pour these items together in a pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

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I prefer cold porridge (like Mama Bear), so when my quinoa is done cooking, I’ll place my quinoa into the freezer for a few minutes to cool down. You might prefer hot porridge, in which case you would scoop your quinoa directly into your porridge bowl.

 

Step 2: Prepare the base.

In essence, the base is a smoothie. A mock-dessert smoothie, that is. Thankfully, only spices create the illusion that you’re indulging in a pie, so you don’t need to worry about added sugar.

First, add all the “base” contents EXCEPT COCONUT/ALMOND MILK into your blender or food processor. I personally use a NutriBullet for my smoothie needs. Add the milk last, filling it up until it almost reaches the top of the rest of the contents. You don’t want to add too little (too lumpy) or too much (too watery).

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Pre-blend

Post-blend

Post-blend

As I mentioned before, I like my porridge cold, so I’ll use frozen bananas and frozen dark leafy greens to make the base a little icy. If you’d prefer your porridge to be warm/hot, you might opt for non-refrigerated fruit and milk as your base.

The dark leafy greens are optional because they don’t do anything for the taste or texture. I throw in these greens to create the most nutritious breakfast I can. If that’s not your style, leave it out! The base will turn out a beautiful peach color instead of a deep green, which might look more appealing to the dubious guest.

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Once the base is ready, I place my porridge bowls in the freezer to keep cold until everything is ready. Otherwise, pour your base in bowls and set aside.

 

Step 3: Prepare toppings.

Cut up your peaches and gather all your nuts and things. I didn’t have walnuts this day, so I opted to use chopped almonds instead. Personally, the almonds failed in comparison, as they were a bit too crunchy next to the other contents in the bowl. It’s all about preference, though. Use whatever nuts/seeds you have on-hand. Don’t be stressed if you don’t have everything, as all the added nuts and seeds are optional.

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Step 4: Create your bowl and serve.

Each smoothie bowl should receive roughly 1/4 cup of quinoa, 1 sliced peach, 1 tbs hemp hearts, 2 tbs walnuts, and 1 tsp chia seeds.

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I like to decorate my bowl to make it look as pretty as possible. Ultimately, you end up mixing everything together to get the full “porridge” effect, so the beauty is a fleeting moment in time. That’s why I take pictures of all my decorated bowls on Instagram. 🙂

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Pretty and pristine.

Pretty and pristine.

All mixed up.

All mixed up.

By the way, the peach route isn’t the only way you can take this bowl. In fact, I’ve made this exact bowl with strawberries, blueberries, mango, pineapple, and raspberries. See what’s in-season and go for it! You can see my day-to-day bowls on my Instagram account. Follow me there and see what I’m eating for the day. Also, I’d love to get inspired by you. If you use one of my recipes, take a picture and use #thisvegangirl so I can see your creations!

Don’t forget to friend me on Facebook, follow me on Pinterest, too!

 

Happy blending,

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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