Easy Peasy Spaghetti Pie

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Cashews are one of my favorite nuts, if only because they pop up in so many vegan cheese recipes. And with their rich, savory, vaguely cheesy flavor, it’s no wonder why. (Gawker even rated them the Second-Best Nut of All Time. “Cashew: A crescent moon of flavor / In the night sky of nut jars.”)

In addition to some pretty rad dried strawberries, Gourmet Nuts and Dried Fruit also provided me a five pound bag of raw cashews to play around with.

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Naturally, I made cheesy pasta!

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So I was first introduced to the concept of Spaghetti Pie by Tami Noyes, by way of her most excellent cookbook, American Vegan Kitchen. (Seriously, this is one of a handful of cookbooks that I can’t recommend highly enough.) Since then, I’ve encountered variations on this theme in a number of places. (See, e.g., Bake and Destroy by Natalie Slater.) Over time, I’ve plucked elements from each recipe and smooshed and mashed and cobbled them together to create a version that’s a) easy; b) mostly sticks to ingredients that I’m likely to have on hand; and c) is still super freaking delicious.

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Spaghetti pie (or cake, or whatever you want to call it) typically has a bottom layer of pasta (either plain or lightly coated with sauce), followed by a tofu-based, ricotta-like cheese (this is where the cashews come in!), and then topped with pasta sauce and either vegan mozzarella cheese or some other bake-able topping, such as breadcrumbs mixed with nutritional yeast. You can get as complicated as you want; for example, by hand-roasting red peppers and then simmering them in your own special red sauce for a full day beforehand. One of my favorite things about this recipe is its versatility: sure, you can go all gourmet when time allows – but if you’re in a pinch, swapping out the special sauce for store-bought stuff saves time time without sacrificing quality (well, not too much, anyway).

Without further ado, I present: Kelly’s Easy Peasy Spaghetti Pie. (Yeah, I know it’s hot out. Still worth it.)

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Carbs & Rec: I MADE CREPES!!!

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

We are getting down to the wire, Pawnee, and I am pulling out ALL THE STOPS.

(Just wait until you see what I’ve got planned for Tuesday.

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For realsies!)

Today on Carbs & Rec, I attempt to do something I never thought I would-could-should do: make crepes!

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And – spoiler alert – it was not a total disaster. Not a tear was shed nor a crepe destroyed.

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Cookbook Review: Vegan Ice Cream, Jeff Rogers (2014)

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Should be Called “(Mostly) Raw Vegan Ice Cream”

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through the Blogging for Books program.)

I’ve been vegetarian since 1996, and went vegan in the mid-aughts. Along with vegan pizza, vegan ice cream is my absolute favorite – and have tumblogs dedicated to each to prove it. I own one ice cream maker (a Cuisinart Ice-45) and covet a second one (the KitchenAid Stand Mixer & Ice Cream Maker Attachment). No fewer than five vegan ice cream cookbooks line the bookshelves in my pantry. I’ve been allergic to milk my entire life (technically it’s galactose – milk sugar – that’s the problem, but same diff), and have never been able to have “real” ice cream. Growing up as I did in the 1980s, I still remember the Dark Days of vegan processed food: when vegetarianism was fringe and my mom bought my dad’s meatless links in the basement of the local Unitarian Church, and I was ecstatic to have two (TWO!) vegan ice cream options in the mainstream grocer’s freezer: Rice Dream (*shudder*) and Tofutti (which will forever occupy a special place in my heart).

I’m a bit of a vegan ice cream connoisseur, is what I’m saying.

I purchased Jeff Rogers’s Vice Cream way back in 2009, but as of yet haven’t tried a single recipe. For whatever reason (the abundance of cashews? the insistence on juicing everything? the multiple steps and machines required for each recipe?), none of the recipes really appealed to me. So when I spotted a new and revised edition – now called Vegan Ice Cream – on Blogging for Books, I decided to give it a try, in the hope that Rogers had tweaked his formulas. As it turns out, the updated edition contains twenty or so new recipes – along with the seventy originals – but all use the same bases found in Vice Cream. Hopes, dashed.

Just scanning through the book, I had my doubts. From my experience using cashews to make vegan cheeses, I could tell that they alone wouldn’t thicken the batter substantially, and certainly not to the pudding-like consistency needed to make a smooth, dairy-like ice cream. Nevertheless, I did experiment with two recipes prior to writing this review: Chai and Chocolate Pecan.

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Tricolored Vegetable Pasta with Sun-Dried Marinara and Cashew Cheese

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

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Another raw pasta dish from The HappyCow Cookbook – this one courtesy of G-Zen. I like the greater variety found here; in addition to zucchini noodles, there are also spiralized beets and carrots. Much more interesting than plain old zucchini! (But the beets? Hella messy! I cannot imagine trying to eat this pasta in public.)

The marinara sauce is pretty tasty too; I was a little unsure of the dates, but you can’t really taste them in the finished product. You’re supposed to serve the sauce at room temp, but mine was cold owing to several of the ingredients (I keep the dates and sundried tomatoes refrigerated), so I warmed it up on the stove top a bit.

The cashew cheese resembles Ricotta more than it does Parmesan; soaking the cashews prior to blending them introduced extra moisture that isn’t usually present in vegan Parm recipes. Weird, right? Still good, though, and Shane used the cheese to soak up all the extra beet juice.

Not bad, and since dinner was so low-cal, I was able to double down on the ice cream cones later that night. (Kidding! Thought about it though….)

Vegan Eats World this entire pan of Pastichio Vegani.

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

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As if The HappyCow Cookbook wasn’t keeping me busy enough, Da Capo Press sent me a copy of Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Eats World for review. Two cookbooks at once; the insanity right? I can barely juggle one at a time.

Originally published in 2012, a shiny new paperback edition of Vegan Eats World came out a few months ago. I liked the original cover well enough, but I’m seriously digging the paperback version. You know what I want to see on the cover of my cookbook? Food, food, and more food. Please!

Since I’m a seriously fussy eater, I figured the international bent of Vegan Eats World would provide a nice challenge for my taste buds. I already have a list several pages long of the recipes I want to try (and a corresponding shopping list several miles long!) – but of course, my very first is a pasta dish. OF COURSE. Greek Eggplant Lasagna, otherwise known as Pastichio Vegani, eggplant optional.

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This lasagna, you guys? Totally my favorite. Of all the times. For starters, it doesn’t call for lasagna noodles, so no laboring over a giant, steaming hot cauldron, gently stirring giant lasagna noodles while whispering a prayer to the great Spaghetti Monster in the sky that they’ll come out with minimal rippage.

The top, cheesy, crispy layer is what Romero calls an “almost-Bechamel topping” (I hadn’t heard of Béchamel sauce until earlier this month, and now I’m seeing it everywhere!). It’s a tofu and cashew-based cheese that’s cooked until it’s firm and crispy brown on top. You guys! I could seriously just eat the cheese by itself.

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Then there are two layers of pasta slathered in a roux sauce (again, the roux is so surprisingly tasty that I could eat it as is) separated by a layer of chunky veggie sauce with mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. The sauce has a special surprise: a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon, complemented by the nutmeg in the almost-Bechamel topping. I have to admit, I was a wee bit nervous putting these two spices in pasta; it’s not my usual way of doing things. But the end result was pretty awesome: the cinnamon gives the sauce an extra kick that’s spicy, but not hot; and the nutmeg just rounds the cinnamon out. Hella good.

My favorite part, of course, are the corners:

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Next time I’m totally gonna make this in a brownie pan. THEY’RE ALL CORNERS!

So yeah, my first attempt from Vegan Eats World? A massive success. Luckily, there are only a few more Mediterranean-style pasta dishes here, so even if I play it safe and stick with pasta to start, sooner or later I’ll have to move on to more adventurous (to me!) fare.

Baked Ziti with Herbed Ricotta and Cashew Cream

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

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Of all the recipes in Mayim’s Vegan Table, I think I was looking forward to the Baked Ziti the most. (It’s got two kinds of nut cheese! TWO!) I had to wait to try it though, on accounta I had to order some bulk macadamia nuts online. I’m not sure why, but I rarely cook with raw macadamia nuts. I can’t even remember the last time we had them in the house!

The verdict: pretty good, though I think it stopped just *this short* of living up to my expectations/wildest fantasies.

While the recipe might look a wee bit daunting to newbies, it’s not a terribly difficult dish to make. For one, you can use store bought sauce if you’d rather. (I made my own from scratch – using the rest of last year’s tomatoes, long since in deep freeze – but didn’t use the recipe provided in the cookbook. There was several gallons of sauce there, and I just winged it.)

Also, the nut cheeses are rather easy, with just a few ingredients each. The hardest part is remembering to soak the nuts the morning of. (The macadamia nuts need at least four hours; the cashews, two. I like to soak the suckers all day before I pulverize them into mash. It’s like a spa day before the apocalypse!)

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The Oh She Glows Cookbook Release – and a Recipe for Life-Affirming Warm Nacho Dip!

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Those of you who have been following along with me as I cook from The Oh She Glows Cookbook will be happy to know that it finally drops today! That’s right – as of this morning, you can snag a copy for your own bad self.

And to celebrate, the publisher has been kind enough to share a recipe for Angela’s Life-Affirming Warm Nacho Dip. I haven’t tried it yet – but how can you go wrong with cheesy cashew sauce? (Answer: You can’t. It’s impossible.)

Enjoy, and keep an eye out for my review. Coming soon to an interweb near you.

 

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life-affirming warm nacho dip

FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE:
1 cup (250 mL) raw cashews
1 cup (250 mL) peeled and chopped carrots
2 tablespoons (30 mL) nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 large clove garlic
1 1⁄4 teaspoons (6 mL) fine-grain sea salt
3⁄4 teaspoon (4 mL) chili powder
1⁄2 teaspoon (2 mL) onion powder
1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon (1 to 2 mL) cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)

FOR THE DIP:
1 cup (250 mL) chunky marinara sauce
1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped sweet onions
2 to 3 handfuls of baby spinach (about 3 ounces/85 g), roughly chopped
1⁄3 cup (75 mL) crushed corn chips or bread crumbs
1 to 2 green onions, finely sliced, for serving (optional)

Tortilla chips for serving

You’d never know there isn’t a lick of dairy or oil hiding in this mouthwatering hot-out- of-the-oven dip! This dish is always a crowd-pleaser. It’s best when hot, so serve it on a plate warmer or pot holder so it stays warm for as long as possible. I like to bake it in a cast-iron dish, which keeps it warm for almost an hour.

Serves 8

PREP TIME: 25 to 30 minutes, plus soaking time • COOK TIME: 25 to 30 minutes

gluten-free, oil-free, soy-free, sugar-free, grain-free

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Luxurious (Read: Cheesy!) Tomato-Basil Pasta

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

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I’m pretty sure the “Luxurious” in the Luxurious Tomato-Basil Pasta (found in The Oh She Glows Cookbook) is code for cheesy. And if it’s not, it should be. Put vegan cheese on ALL the things!

This dish is reminiscent of the Spaghetti Cake from Bake and Destroy (and before that, the Spaghetti Pie from American Vegan Kitchen) – only it’s not cooked, of course, and the white sauce is made of cashews instead of tofu. Naturally, the white sauce is combined with red marinara sauce to make a delicious hot pink (traffic cone orange?) mess.

So good, and super-easy to make. The cook time on this one is just 30 minutes, so you can whip it up in a snap. (Though I prefer to let my tomatoes simmer for awhile so that they get nice and tender.)

Broccoli & Cashew Cheese-Quinoa Burritos

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

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I don’t know why I don’t have burritos more often; aside from pizza, they’re pretty much the flyest finger food out there, and soooo much fun to eat. Seriously, I think the last time I made burritos was for a cookbook review more than a year ago! Such a shame. Note to self: must rectify this immediately.

So I wasn’t quite sure how these Broccoli & Cashew Cheese-Quinoa Burritos from The Oh She Glows Cookbook would turn out. I really don’t eat quinoa very often – I’m still working on a two-pound bag I bought several years ago – so yeah. I figured I’d either love it or hate it. (In which case there’s a 99% chance that Shane would be more than happy to eat the extras. Human garbage can, that one.)

Well, I’m happy to report that option A prevailed. As in, this is totally one of my new favorite recipes! The combination of broccoli, sundried tomatoes, onions, and quinoa is tasty, but it’s the cheesy cashew sauce that really takes this burrito to the next level. (Yeah, I left out the celery. Sue me!)

Mine looks nothing like the burrito portrait in the book but I suspect that’s because I’m an amateur when it comes to wrapping burritos. Consider me flummoxed.

As a Saturday Raturday Bonus: A shot of Finnick, begging for food right next to a picture of him begging for food in nearly the exact same spot. How meta.

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P.S. If you’d rather not use quinoa, I bet plain old rice would make an excellent substitute. I’ll give it a try next time around and report back to you. Deal? (The things I do for you people!)

Spaghetti Not-Cake

Friday, January 10th, 2014

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So remember that Spaghetti Cake I made for New Year’s Eve? Yeah, well, I didn’t even last a week before I decided to experiment with an unbaked version! Turns out, there’s not much tinkering necessary: I just made the pasta sauce (with an added zucchini and roasted red pepper for extra chunkiness; also, in the spirit of cleaning out the fridge!) and tofu-cashew ricotta as instructed and then mixed them both with the cooked pasta and, voilà!, dinner is served! The resulting sauce is kind of like a marinara-alfredo hybrid: rich, creamy, oh-so-hearty, and super-decadent.

Initially the plan was to set some extra sauce aside for dipping (dinner rolls, nom) but, as it turned out, the “meatier” parts of the sauce kind of naturally separated from the noodles when I stirred it all together, so measuring and parsing seemed unnecessary.

Plus the once-baked version requires 45 minutes less bake time AND one fewer dirty dish, so it’s a win-win. There’s no breadcrumb-nooch topping on this one, but you can always sprinkle some homemade parm on there if you’d like. Almost the same thing! Or just toast some nooch and breadcrumbs and use that instead. Tasty either way!

This is one of those rare pasta dishes that tastes better fresh out of the pot, but it’s still damn good the next day.

Virtual Vegan Potluck: Pretty in Pink Double Cheese Pizza

Friday, November 15th, 2013

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When I signed up for this month’s installment of the Virtual Vegan Potluck, I checked off the box for “beets please!” without giving it much thought. And then I promptly began to panic: I’ve never cooked with beets before. Never even eaten a beet, in fact! (Well, I’m at least 99% sure, so don’t quote me on that.) Next thing you know, my mind turned – as it always, inevitably does – to pizza.

As it turns out, pizzas are beet-friendly in a multitude of ways. You can blend ’em up and put ’em in the dough to turn the crust neon pink. (Bitchin’!) Or perhaps you’d rather cut your beets into fun shapes and arrange them playfully atop a pizza pie. (Crafty!) Mash them up and turn them into a hummus or a pesto and for a tasty and colorful base. (Neat-o!)

 

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Me, I decided to convert one of my favorite homemade cheese recipes into a delicious hot pink mess. Enter the Cheddary Cashew Cheese from Julie Hasson’s Vegan Pizza, which I adapted special for this potluck. Since beets don’t have much of a taste, this sauce may look sweet, but it’s 100% savory, with cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic, onion, and paprika colliding into a plate of gooey goodness. As for the toppings, I decided to keep it simple, since I didn’t want any olives or mushrooms distracting from the pretty pink beet hearts. Just beeting hearts and Daiya cheese, please.

Shane wanted to call this a Bleeding Heart Pizza – and perhaps that would have been a more appropriate title, seeing as how the beets bled all over their pillows of mozzarella Daiya cheese, staining them a glorious shade of pink.

Ah well. Whatever you call it, you’ll be begging for seconds!

 

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Fettuccine Alfredo – now with cashew and Daiya cheese!

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

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Another day, another cookbook. This time it’s Mark Reinfeld’s The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe. I haven’t had much occasion to use it yet, but mostly that’s because I’ve been occupied with Vegan Italiano and American Vegan Kitchen. Everything looks mouthwatering, though, and it’s proven invaluable in planning my Vegan MoFo menu. (English cuisine, hello!)

Naturally the first recipe out of the gate is one involving pasta: Fettuccine Alfredo, my favorite! (I like all the creamy, carbalicious dishes.) This version is right up there with Tami Noyes and Lane Gold’s – SO GOOD I CAN’T EVEN EVEN! The sauce – a blend of cashews (no soaking required, yay!) and Daiya cheese – is thick and creamy and tastes so, so rich. The Daiya is optional, and omitting it will give you a healthier dish, so that’s cool too. We used less than half the recommended amount of Daiya, and the sauce still came out boss.

Seriously having a foodgasm just thinking about it. And I didn’t even mind that Shane used the full amount of crushed red pepper, thus turning my super-sensitive mouth into a fiery inferno. Hell is very, very tasty, it turns out.

Fettuccine Alfredo from Chloe’s Kitchen

Friday, January 25th, 2013

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As soon as we whipped the sauce together in the blender, Shane and I knew it was too thin. But Shane wanted to follow the recipe to a T and, seeing as this was his operation, I let him go for it. Alas, after mixing sauce with pasta he ended up adding some flour in a futile attempt to thicken things up. It helped, I guess, but only a little: it’s mighty hard to add new ingredients to a sauce with all those noodles blocking your way. Duh, right?

So anyway, this cashew-based Fettuccine Alfredo from Chloe’s Kitchen is pretty tasty, though the sauce could use some work. Assuming that you remember to soak the cashews overnight, it’s a no-cook sauce (otherwise you can boil the cashews for ten minutes to soften them up) – but methinks a little time simmering on the stove top could do Alfredo some good! Ditto: a thickening agent.

File this one under “further experimentation required.”