Not Cheese, Nacho Cheese

As you may or may not have noticed I’m on a bit of an experimental food kick. So, this post is all about making a classic late night snack food healthy, plant based, and – best of all – GUILT FREE!

What might I be talking about? You guessed it (or you read the title) – Nacho Cheese! Now, I’m not talking the kind of cheese you may find on fancy nacho’s from your neighborhood “I’m working really hard to be fun and hip” restaurant that is actually some smoked gouda béchamel. No. My friends, I’m talking the crappy kind of nacho cheese you find at a college football game. The kind that you literally feel clogging your arteries as it goes down your gullet. That is the kind of cheese I am trying to create here. But, you know, minus all of that artery clogging good(?)ness.

So, after much research and taking into consideration the fact that most vegan cheese’s contain cashews – to which I am allergic – I came up with this recipe!

Vegan Veggie Nacho Cheese

  • 1 sweet potato – Or 2 carrots
  • 1 potato
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper 
  • Scallion (green onion)
  • Salt to tast (will probably be around a 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/4 Cup (about) water
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil or some other kind of oil 
  • 1/3 cup Salsa or diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeño (optional) 
  1. Boil a medium size pot of salted water. Wash off potatoes and chop them up.
  2. Toss potatoes into boiling water and cover. Let steam for about 15 min.
  3. In a food processor or blender, place roughly chopped green onion. Use all of it (aside from the roots) so that the flavor really comes through.
  4. Next, add all seasonings and nutritional yeast to the food processor. Lightly pulse or stir a few times to be sure everything is evenly combined. 
  5. Once potatoes are fork tender, add those into the food processor along with water, oil and salsa. Blend until smooth and creamy!
  6. At this point you could be done, OR, you could add in some diced pickled jalapeño. Either stir these in or add them and run the food processor one more time if you don’t want to have any surprising spicy chunks. 

And… VOILA! You have some delish Vegan Nacho Cheese! 

I was so pleasantly surprised by how this recipe turned out and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments, as well as any modifications you try to improve upon this recipe! Thank you for reading, until next time peeps!

XOXO,

Em

Chickpeas – The New Wonderfood?

It seems all the health-conscious internet can talk about right now is how great chickpeas are. I have seen YouTube videos and Pinterest posts galore about the wonderful things that this unassuming bean can do, so, I decided it was time to test them out!

The first recipe I came across was for Vegan Chickpea Chocolate Chip Cookies, making that the natural selection for my first attempt at baking with beans. I took to my handy Ninja and got pureeing! However, I may have overwhelmed it by adding everything in at one time so the puree turned into more of a slightly masticated mush. (Patience is a virtue I rarely have.) This left my attempted desert rather chunky… though the flavors were good, the texture was definitely less than desirable.

After my first, not so fabulous, attempt and making chickpea cookies I was eager to try my luck at a different sweet delicacy – the meringue. Luckily, I had saved the liquid from the can of beans, as it was the main ingredient in the recipe for Auqafaba Meringues. (AKA – Bean water.) I know this doesn’t sound the most appealing, however, with some research I found that this murky substance really does appear to be magical!

So, I turned to YouTube (as it always seems to have to answer) and was blessed to find a great recipe and demonstration  for Aquafaba Meringues. I was as shocked as you likely are to find out that one of the worlds more classy desert choices can be made with, you guessed it, bean water! So, here  ya go!

 

The recipe I used for the Meringues was this one by Alton Brown as it was easy to follow and simple.

My little strawberry topping was a sort of an afterthought, but it really was delicious so here is how I made it:

Lemon Lavender Strawberries:

1 1/2 Cup strawberries

1 Tsp dried lavender

1/4 Cup simple syrup

Lemon juice to taste 

  1. Quarter berries (or chop however you feel) and place in bowl 
  2. In a small sauce pan (or microwave safe bowl) combine 1/4 water and 1/4 cup sugar and stir until dissolved – This is the simple syrup!
  3. Add lavender to simple syrup and place in a closed container to steep 
  4. Once, your simple syrup has gotten enough of the lavender flavor, pour over berries and toss until evenly coated.
  5. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top and…

Voila! You have made a yummy tart, sweet, and floral topping – perfect for any light summer desert OR on it’s own as a yummy fruit salad! 

For a first try I’d say this well pretty well – especially in comparison to my intentionally chunky chocolate chip cookies! There was very little I would change aside from perhaps cooking them a little closer to the recipes instructions. I grew impatient of letting them sit in the oven, so the way the settled wasn’t quite right. But aside from that I was so happy with them! (and my little strawberry topping) More impressively, had I not been the one making them, I would have never known that they were made with bean water instead of eggs!

This recipe would be great for a tea party, dinner party, or just for a party of one! Especially, if you have friend or family (or if you yourself) have either voluntarily or involuntarily had to remove eggs from your diet! I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments if you try this or any other chickpea recipe!

Thanks as always for reading! 🙂

XOXO,

Em

What graduation was like: A story told mostly through food

These past few weeks have been insane. But, the plus side to entering the real world is that all of your family and friends are there to feed you and try to keep you from thinking about the strange shock that arises when you realize homework won’t just start up again in August. Don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly pumped to have completed my Undergraduate career and realize I am lucky to, not only, have gone to college, but also, to have my family there to celebrate and support my work along the way.

Though, an odd emotion has accompanied all of the excitement and satisfaction. This emotion is some confusing mixture of emptiness because undergraduate studies are no longer part of my life, excitement that my hard work paid off and that schoolwork is done for at least a year, and confusion about how I am going to occupy myself now outside of the 40-50 hours of scheduled work I have per week. Is there a name for this odd emotion? I know I can’t be the only person to experience it…

Regardless, I have been exposed to so many new foods in this past week with all of my friends and family wanting to celebrate that I figured I’d show you some of them! I mean really, what better way to try and understand your feelings than through food?!?! (I realize there are better ways, but this has really been quite a nice way!)

First things first: the big, fancy, obligatory Italian meal was awesome! We ate at this great place called Lidia’s on Smallman St. in the Strip District. It. Was. Fabulous! While everyone’s food was DEE-lish the dish that truly stood out was the Duck Ragu Gnocchi. Luckily, I was the member of our party to have ordered this, so aside from letting everyone taste, it was mainly all mine! I would 10 out of 10 recommend this meal to anyone who is looking for a hearty, modern take on a reliable Italian classic. I had it with a light, but fulfilling Sauvignon Blanc, which, much like this dish, was an unexpected but delicious combo!

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The next night we went up to the iconic Mt. Washington to see the sunset which made for some great photo ops of the horizon.

We ate outside on the deck of the Shilo Grill, which was unexpectedly part of the Harris Grill franchise. Though, had we not been told that by our fabulous server, I’d have been completely unaware because the quality of service and food surely felt like a small, privately owned restaurant! I got two drinks, a Blackberry Basil Gin Fizz which was AWESOME! And another that was some sort of Strawberry Lavender Mojito, this was not very good but I think it may have been a completely different drink because it tasted more like the way their Pink Lemonade cocktail sounded than it did the drink I ordered. Alas, things cannot exist without balance, ya win some ya lose some and all that. 🙂 My meal, Eggplant Napoleon, was awesome though and a great vegetarian option (one of the many on their menu!)

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This post seems to be getting long, so I can save some of the other highlights from my graduation celebrations and start of life in the real world for these next few weeks! Who knows, maybe the nostalgia will give me some closure as the reality that college is done, at least for now, starts to set in. They say denial is the best coping mechanism, right?

I hope you enjoyed this post, let me know your thoughts below!

XOXO,

Emmie

4 Ingredient Four-get About Winter Cocktail

For many of you living in the North East, you know that Winter is more of a lifestyle than a season. This time of year can be particularly menacing for your travel plans and if you don’t enjoy winter sports (or at least the snow) then you’re pretty much going to be miserable for 4-5 months.

I, fortunately, embrace Winter and all that it brings, but those of you who don’t may be thirsty for some sort of escape. Well have no fear, I have found a remedy for your seasonal-affect disorder AND dissatisfied tastebuds!
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This vacation in a mason(jar) cocktail has appeared just in time to get you through the notorious February Freeze! I came up with this cocktail the other night because I was feeling disinterested in the usual Kraken and Coke, and I must say it was one of my better concoctions! four-get-about-it-shaker-ingredients

I have a known knack for getting creative but have a significantly lower success record for creating cocktails that S. likes. However, he thoroughly enjoyed this one, so I figured it was worth sharing!

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(Disclaimer: I am not certain if he liked it due to flavor or the fact that it was quite strong and we hadn’t yet eaten dinner…) Regardless, it was a winner so here y’all go:

Four-Get About Winter! 

Makes: 2 (rather strong) Cocktails

Ingredients:

1 Cup (8oz) – Sweetened Lemonade (I recommend from the mix so you can control the level of sweetness)

4 oz  Vodka (doesn’t need to be good quality)

1 Navel/Large Orange (peeled)

1 Cup (8oz) – Decent-Quality White Wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)

*Optional 5th Ingredient* – Either shake with ice or, if you’re less dedicated to the name’s pun, use frozen tropical fruit mix to chill and add more flave!

How To:

  1. Slice and peel orange and place in shaker with either frozen ice or fruit, vodka and lemonade. 

  2. Shake mixture until shaker feels quite cold. 

  3. In two glasses (I used mason jars for cute-ness), equally divide the cup of white wine.

  4. Top off wine with the lemonade, fruit/ice, and vodka mixture. 

  5. Cheers! And, Enjoy Responsibly of course! 😉 

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Did you try it? Are your Winter Woes remedied? Let me know what you think in the comments! ♥

XOXO,

Emmie

 

Rainy Days and Mac & Cheese Never Get Me Down

 

There are very few things that inspire me as much as good music and food. So, to set up the scene: imagine a rainy October in the library, listening to some good, new tunes (after spending the weekend singing and rehearsing) strolling through some Pins. When, all of the sudden a mystical new idea comes into your mind; sprung of the seeds that a three week hiatus from grocery shopping will produce. “BBQ Mac & Cheese”. Seeing that phrase initiated a hunger that (when paired with my lack of lunch) made my mouth water more than a meal had in a LOOONNNGGGG time! (Probably as long as it’s been since my last post!)

So here it is!

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The before: even this looks great!
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The after… I mean come on. My mouth is watering all over again!

It looks D-LISH, right!? Well, let me tell you, it tasted even better! I took into account nearly 5 different recipes to make this dish. And, really, I think that it is therein where the beauty of a good Mac & Cheese dish lies; you can get creative!