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Easy Peasy Smokey Mac N Cheesy

5 Mar

Hello, friends! It’s been a long, long time since my last post and for this, I apologize! Life has been overwhelmingly busy with work, with friends, with my newly adopted crippled hamster (yes, a hammy!), and with studying for the veterinary technician national exam. There have also been some recent changes to the way I feel comfortable creating recipes so, finding myself in the recipe writing, experimenting, and cooking “mode” is rare. Hopefully for all, posting this recipe will help me get back to form. So, as you can imagine, with the precious little time I have to cook for myself, when I do cook, it’s almost always easy, filling comfort food. Usually that means a massive, loaded salad, but every once in a while, it’s a pasta dish. I love pasta almost as much as I love casseroles and anything that requires an oven to cook.

Recently, I posted a photo of the less involved version of my Sweet Potato Baked Mac N Cheese on my personal Facebook page that got quite a bit of attention and requests for the recipe so, here it is, folks! This is a “staple” recipe in my book and one that I turn to whenever I need something quick and filling and good enough for lunch the next day. As far as I’m concerned, it gives its maddeningly unjust, sad, and fat laden dairy counterpart a swift kick in the arse–mostly because it’s free of animal exploitation (awesome!), and obviously because it’s delicious. Feel free to add vegan sausage, hot dogs, or broccoli–if you’re so inclined–to make it more hearty. I also recommend adding crisp tempeh bacon or barbecue spices if you like, to make it more “smokey.”

Until we meet again…enjoy!
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Basic Cashew Cream for Soups and Sauces

12 Jul

If it wasn’t already obvious with the gazillion types of nut milks and dairy-like products on the market today, nuts are pretty much a vegan’s answer to non-dairy living. Cashews, like almonds, are particularly wonderful because they are mild in flavor thus, allowing them to be practical for so many uses. The raw food movement has known this for a long time. If you’ve ever had cashew cheese, cashew cheesecake, or cashew based ice cream you also know just how many outrageously delicious things this little nut can do. So here’s a basic recipe for an ingredient I will be using quite a lot of soon. If you have a recipe in mind that requires “heavy cream” this is all you’ll need. Continue reading

Mint Basil Pesto

6 Jul

I love summer. I mostly love non-humid summers, but I’ll take this New England heat, if I must, for now. My favorite thing about summer is the extended daylight, but coming in at a close second is the near daily opportunity to go to a farmer’s market. I absolutely adore farmer’s markets. Big ones, little ones — anywhere where there are farmers with fresh fruits, vegetables, or vegan baked goods — that’s where I want to be.

My first visit to a farmer’s market was last year in Portland, Oregon. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better initiation to farmer’s markets than the lively and vibrant Portland Farmer’s Market at Portland State University (Saturdays 8:30 to 2!). It was like being in an amusement park. Ok, not really, but I was overwhelmed with excitement and I hadn’t even started cooking for myself yet. I think this is where the revolution began. To be fair, it truly began in California where, as a new vegan and Animal Care Intern at Farm Sanctuary, I had to learn how to feed myself. But the farmer’s market was like a different sort of Eden to me. So many colors, so many smells, so many authentic “Portlanders” (if you know what I mean)! In any case, I could have spent hours there just looking at the plethora of colorful earthly goods, but I gathered my necessities, a bottle of pear cider, and went home.

Well, let me tell you, the farmer’s market I went to last week was no PSU, but it was still — a farmer’s market. And like a kid in a candy store, I couldn’t help myself. I had to have a little of everything. This recipe is something that came of it. As soon as I smelled that fresh basil and mint, I knew something had to be done. Something had to be done and it had to be simple, fresh, delicious, and versatile. Besides, I’ve been wanting to get into canning and preserving for quite some time. I didn’t properly “can” this recipe because I knew I’d be using it all fairly quickly, but if you want to preserve a little bit of the gifts of the summer sun for later on this year, I suggest that you do. It’ll probably last longer than your tan. Continue reading

Plaintain and Avocado Rolls with Spicy Cilantro Dipping Sauce

24 May

Hello again, friends! Here’s a fun and easy little summer treat I like to call: tonight’s dinner. This one’s inspired by one of my favorite foods — plantains. No matter how they’re cooked, I love ‘em! One of my favorite ways to eat them, however, is in the form of “mangú.” Yeah, yeah, I’m Dominican, can you tell? “Mangú” is basically mashed plantains, and nothing more. It’s traditionally served doused in fried onions and oil, with fried cheese and sauteed salami. Yeah, we won’t go there…yet. One day I’ll make all of that the vegan way. But for now, here’s a different, simple, delicious way to eat plantains. This was so easy to make; the most involved part was wrapping the plantains and that only took a few seconds. This is a really fun “finger” food that’s basic enough that you can substitute whatever favorite sauce or wrap you want. Try it on your next “Taco Tuesday,” you know, when you don’t feel like eating tacos but you want something just as easy and with a little spanish kick! PS: This is great beer food, just sayin’! Continue reading

Quinoa Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash Sauce (gluten free)

27 Feb

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what “new” vegetarians and vegans eat before they realize that they haven’t compromised anything in their dietary habits and that there is an abundance of food available to them. Until I went vegan, there were foods I avoided simply because I didn’t know how to cook them and didn’t want to risk buying something “gross” or “weird.” All I can recall eating excessively in the beginning was pasta and sauce because it was easy, satisfying, and didn’t require much thought or preparation.

Well, as they say, old habits die hard and sometimes you just want to eat something simple and satisfying that doesn’t come out of the freezer section at the store. And sometimes, as they say, you want to feed to birds with one scone and make something simple with just a touch more class. So here’s my new take on the pasta and sauce staple. It’s 100% gluten-free, meat/cheese analog free, and goes well served with sauteed kale and broccoli. The sauce recipe makes a little over one standard store-bought pasta jar of sauce so, if you don’t use it all up at once, you will have plenty for leftovers!

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