Tag Archives: cashews

Vegan Valentine Truffle-O-Rama

Truffles.  THE decadent candy.  Butter and sugar and flavors coming together in the perfect proportions to create a melt-in-your-mouth sinful candy experience.  But I’m vegan, I whined.  Will I need to turn my back on my dietary preferences and REALLY sin?  turns out, no!  Just in time for Valentines Day, a vegan truffle appeared in my Facebook feed, compliments of VegNews Magazine and the Healthy. Happy. Life. blog at lunchbox.com.  Cake Batter Truffles.  Who doesn’t love cake batter?!  A quick pantry check revealed everything I needed to make these exquisite little yummies.

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The original recipe said it made 9 truffles.  Seemed hardly worth the effort, and I was worried it wouldn’t be enough to process properly, so I doubled the recipe.  Then I decided that chocolate and espresso might make this even more of a party; why not make half of them mocha?!

ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 5 Tbsp liquid sweetener (I used agave)
  • 4 Tbsp non-dairy milk, warmed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • a couple pinches of pink salt
  • sprinkles of your choice–1 tsp to fold into half, the rest to coat the truffles
  • 2 TBSP cocoa powder (optional–amount is enough to flavor half of this truffle batch)
  • 2 tsp espresso powder (optional–amount is enough to flavor half of this truffle batch)

Start by soaking your cashews in enough water to cover them by an inch.  At least a few hours, overnight is best.

When cashews have soaked, melt the coconut oil over low heat.

melt coconut oil

Combine cashews, coconut oil, agave, non-dairy milk, vanilla, and salt in a food processor.

everything in the processor

Process until silky smooth.

process until smooth

If making two flavors, divide into two seal-able containers that will fit into your freezer.

divide into containers

Fold in 1 tsp sprinkles in one container, fold in cocoa and espresso powder into the other.

sprinkles in one choc and espresso in the other

Most of the sprinkles melted into my cake batter-flavored half.  The resulting pink hue was not a problem as I wanted them for Valentines anyway.  Freeze until firm enough to form into balls, but not too stiff.  I found the mocha truffle half firmed up quicker and was much easier to work with.

stir to combine

When firm, work quickly to scoop the truffle mixes and form into balls.  (The heat of your hands will melt them a bit.)  Quickly roll in sprinkles and place in an oiled pan.  This pan will need to fit into your freezer as well.

scoop and roll in sprinkles

scoop choc and roll in sprinkles

Once again, freeze until firm.  The cake batter ones slumped a bit; not affecting their yumminess at all.  😉

birthday cake truffles

chocolate espresso truffles

Serve frozen.  Pack into cute little Valentine tins with mini-muffin liners if you choose.  I shop the after-Valentines sale for these sorts of things and stash them away for the following year.

Valentine your truffles

 

ready to pack in tins

 

 

Valentines

Use the tin’s lid to trace a heart-shape onto parchment paper.  Cut out inside your pencil line for a clean heart that will fit perfectly over the truffles, inside the lid.

parchment paper

Continue packing and then place tins and all back into your freezer to wait until Valentines Day.

packing another tinpacked and reaady for the freezer

Who wouldn’t want a cute little tin of vegan truffle-love for Valentines?!

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The cake batter truffles have a coconut-y flavor to them that would marry well with lots of other flavors besides mocha.  Let your imagination loose and think about what flavor YOUR sweetie might enjoy, and truffle on!  Get all creative with sprinkles as well–cocoa powder is classic for chocolate truffles, but what about toffee bits or chopped nuts or powdered sugar, or ….. ?!

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Filed under dairy-free, dessert, food gifts, Gluten-free, Holiday foods, recipe, vegan, Vegetarian

Vegan Baked Ziti

Cold weather always makes me want to bake something.  Something warm and aromatic and comforting.    Something your grandmother might have made for the family.  Something that feels like a hug and tastes like a whole lotta love.  I give to you the perfect answer:  Baked Ziti!

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I had never made baked ziti even before becoming vegan, and never had a grandmother make it for me.  But for some reason, the squat little rigatonis in my pantry thought that’s what they should be.  Who am I to argue with cute pasta?!  To the Google!  A few short clicks later, I had two recipes to inspire me; one classic, and one vegan.  Here’s what I came up with:

ingredients

For the ziti:

  • 1 pound short tubular pasta, such as rigatoni or penne or ziti, prepared according to the package
  • 1 pound vegan sausage  (I used Gimme Lean brand–very sausage-y)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped  (I had chopped bells from my garden in the freezer and used them)
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 jar prepared marinara sauce  (I had most of a jar leftover from making pizza)
  • Vegan Parmesan for topping

For the cashew ricotta:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours in enough water to cover them by at least an inch
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP of fresh basil or 1 1/2 tsp dried
  • a couple shakes of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400F and spray a 9×13″ pan.  Prepare pasta according to the package.

Drain cashews and place in a food processor with lemon juice, garlic, basil, paprika, and salt.

all in the processor

Blend until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides.  This should take 3-5 minutes.

blend until smooth

Brown the sausage.  It can be hard to tell when vegan sausage is brown.  Cook, breaking up with a spoon or spatula until it doesn’t feel sticky anymore.  Use a splash of veggie broth or No Chicken Broth (my personal fav) to help keep it from sticking to the pan.

brown sausage

Add onions and peppers and cook until onions are transluscent, about 5-7 minutes.

add onions and peppers

Add tomatoes and marinara, stir to combine.

add tomatoes and sauce

Add cooked pasta and cashew ricotta.  Doesn’t that ricotta look amazing?!

add pasta and ricotta

Stir to coat the pasta evenly and transfer to the prepared 9×13 pan.  Shake some vegan Parmesan over the top.

spread in pan

Bake 20-25 minutes, until the top pasta is getting a tiny bit crisp.

baked

Scoop out with a serving spoon and get your smile on.  You’re gonna feel like your Grandma stopped by with a warm apron-wrapped hug and some pasta to show how much she loves you.

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Just the thing when winter comes a-callin’.

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It snowed almost 6 inches the night I made the ziti.  We were expecting a dusting to MAYBE an inch.  Brrrrr!  It sure was pretty, though.

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Our crab apple trees looked just lovely, and leftover ziti was a perfect warm-me-up after playing outside in the snow.

 

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Filed under comfort food, dairy-free, Garden produce, lunch, Potluck, recipe, vegan, Vegetarian

Curried Chickpea Salad Sammiches

Last weekend, we were at a wedding up in a beautiful, flower-filled meadow.  Some 20 degrees cooler than the valley floor, it was still a warm day.  A light lunch of veggies and chicken salad sandwiches were served before the cake, and being vegan, I abstained from the sandwich.  Sigh.  How I love a good chicken salad sandwich.  My friend Barb, who is also vegan, was there and she told me she’d heard of making “chicken salad” using chickpeas.  Well!  Chickpeas are my fav and go great with curry, so I started thinking about how I’d make that all come together in a satisfyingly yummy summer sammich.  Oh, I am one happy, happy vegan!

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Next time I make this, I’m doubling the recipe; it’s that yummy and crave-able.

ingredients

  • 1 (15oz) can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2-3 TBSP vegan mayo
  • 1/4 cup chopped cashews or peanuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped apple
  • splash of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Drain the chickpeas and place into a food processor.  Pulse about 10 times to break up the beans, you want chunks, not hummus.

pulse chickpeas

Place the chickpeas and everything except salt and pepper into a bowl.

everything in the bowl

Stir until well combined.  Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.  Add more curry and/or mayo if you like, or another splash of lemon juice to make it more spreadable.

stir til blended

Spread a bit more mayo on some yummy whole grain bread, add lettuce, and pile on the chickpea salad!  So yummy!

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Chicken-schmicken.  I’ve got a new favorite summer sammich!  This salad is better the next day, and is delish all on its own, or wrapped in a lettuce leaf or tortilla, or inside a pita pocket.

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Filed under comfort food, dairy-free, dinner, lunch, recipe, salad, side dish, snack, Vegetarian

Kung Pao Tofu

I know I say this a lot, but this is my new favorite way to enjoy tofu.  Yes.  Tofu.  Tofu is the chameleon of vegan foods, taking on the flavors of whatever you cook with it, while providing a nice texture your mouth will enjoy.  This recipe was inspired by the clearance corner of the local grocery store.  It’s located right next to the produce department–very, very convenient for this vegan!  Anyway, a recent visit produced a variety of Asian sauces and marinades, including a Kung Pao sauce.  Kung Pao has always been a favorite Chinese take-out option, so why not try it at home?  With tofu.  Oh, yeah, yum-o-palooza!

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I Googled around and found most Kung Pao recipes had peppers, onions and squash–staples of my vegan fridge.  I also had a bit of broccoli and a head of cauliflower.  Essentially, this is a stir-fry of whatever veggies you have, Kung Pao sauce and usually peanuts.  I used cashews instead.  Here’s what was in my recent Kung Pao, cut all veggies to a similar size–about 1 inch.

ingredients

  • 2 bell peppers (different colors), diced 
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • broccoli
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1/4-1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 1 package firm or extra firm tofu
  • Kung Pao sauce–enough to coat the veggies
  • 1/4-1/2 cup cashews

Squeeze moisture from tofu and dice.

cut tofu into cubes

 

Lightly spray a large fry pan or wok with cooking spray and saute tofu until golden.

saute tofu til golden

Set tofu aside and add peppers and onion to the pan.  Saute until onions start to caramelize–about 5 minutes.

saute peppers and onions

Add the rest of the veggies to the pan and  saute until tender-crisp, another 5-10 minutes.

add squash cauliflower and broccoli

Gently add tofu back to the pan, avoiding breaking it up.

add tofu back

Add cashews, gently stir to combine.

add cashews

Add enough sauce to coat the veggies and tofu.  I used about half the jar.

add sauce

Serve over rice.  How pretty is this?!  The pre-made sauce makes this company-worthy meal quick and easy.  And taste?  Yum-o-palooza!  I liked it just like this, but Michael added some hot sauce to kick up the heat.  Red pepper flake would be awesome as well, or a sambal chile sauce.  Mmmmmmm.

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Filed under dairy-free, dinner, Garden produce, recipe, Vegetarian

Roasted Cauliflower and Purple Potato Curry

Mr18 is home from college on spring break.  However, he hasn’t had a part in Michael and my decision to eat vegan.  When he’s home I usually cook his favorite meals for him–most of which involve meat, cheese and eggs.  I did buy him eggs for the omelets he loves in the morning, and treated him to his favorite meat-layered pizza.  The rest of the time he’s been eating vegan with us.  He’s always been a kid who ate his veggies and has always been game to try a bite of something new.  I’ve stayed away from anything with beans (Mr18’s kryptonite), and I’ve tried to stay with flavors he likes; curry is one of his favs.  He did miss the chicken that was included in the curry I used to make, but decided this curry was ok.  Since I’ve been having a bit of a love-fest with cauliflower lately, I replaced the chicken with cauliflower.  I thought the combo of the sweet roasted cauliflower was perfect with the savory spiciness of the curry.  Yummy!

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Once you’ve roasted the veggies, this curry comes together quickly.

ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 purple potatoes, peeled and cubed  (I picked purple because of the color, but red or yellow potatoes would be yummy, too)
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 3-4 TBSP veggie broth
  • 1-2 TBSP curry powder
  • a pinch or two red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 1/2-1 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (coconut milk would be yummy)
  • pasta of your choice, prepared according to package directions (optional)
  • toppings of your choice–I have coconut, cilantro, cashews, and edamame

Preheat oven to 425F.  Prepare a baking sheet with a silicon mat, parchment paper or spray oil.

Chop the cauliflower, potatoes, apple and onion.  Spread them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Season with salt and pepper and mix with your hands.  Spray lightly once more and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir, then place back into the oven for an additional 15 minutes.

chop potatos cauliflower onion

While the veggies roast, prepare your pasta and the curry sauce.

Place 3 TBSP veggie both in a large pan over medium heat.  Whisk in 2 TBSP flour to create a paste.  Add more broth if your paste is too thick.

make paste w flour and broth

Add the curry and red pepper flake, stir to combine.

add curry and red pepper

Whisk in 2 cups of veggie broth until smooth.  Heat to a simmer to thicken.

add broth

Add 1/2-1 1/2 cups non dairy milk, depending on how you like the flavor and thickness.  I ended up using 1 1/2 cups, to tone down the heat from adding a bit too much red pepper.  🙂

add milk

Remove veggies from the oven, and add the roasted veggies, stirring to coat.

roasted2

add veg1

Add the cooked pasta and toss.

add pasta

Serve with toppings!  Other topping to consider: golden raisins, peas, peanuts, more red pepper flake, chile oil…..  I was thinking I’d use peas, but when I looked in my freezer, the bag I thought was peas was actually edamame.  Not as sweet, but a nice punch of protein.  I love recipes that let me adjust them according to what I have on hand.

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Curry is also a lovely flavor with shrimp or chicken.  It can be served over a starch such as the pasta I chose, or rice or another cooked grain.  It can also be served without the added starch or thinned out with more broth as a soup.  Make it according to your personal tastes and whatever’s in your pantry.  Enjoy!

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Filed under comfort food, dairy-free, dinner, Garden produce, lunch, recipe, Vegetarian