Pistachio Smoothie [v.]

smoothie.png

The weeks are flying by at a terrifying pace. As a senior in college, right now is when I’m supposed to be figuring out my future by applying to graduate school or finding a job. Lately, every conversation I have seems to comes back around to, “so what are you planning to do after graduation?”

Meanwhile, I’m trying to remain calm, and continue on with my schoolwork and extracurriculars. Calmness is vibrant pistachio smoothies and warm bowls of oatmeal with blueberries and granola. It’s listening to my Discover Weekly playlist in the morning as I sip hot coffee. I hope that you try out this recipe, and it brings you the boost it brings me.

pistachio3The latest non-dairy milk I’ve been enjoying is pistachio milk. Oddly, rather than tasting like pistachios, it’s super almond-y, way more than any almond milk I’ve tried. For this reason, I’m willing to bet any nut milk plus a tiny dash of almond extract would produce the same overall taste.

This smoothie is perfectly sweet and creamy, has an extra nutritional punch thanks to leafy greens, and can be made in literally any blender (I use a 14 dollar blender from amazon). Feel free to add a little extra nut milk if the smoothie seems too thick, and if you’re a granola fiend like me, definitely sprinkle some on top and eat with a spoon.

Pistachio Smoothie

  • 1 cup pistachio milk or any nut milk + 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 cup packed spinach leaves (be generous, you won’t taste spinach I promise)
  • 1 sliced and frozen banana
  • 1 tbs coconut flour
  • optional: 2 tbs soy protein powder or 2 tbs cashew butter

Blend all the ingredients until smooth. Enjoy! Oolala.

smoothie.png

 

 

Carrot Crumb Cake Oatmeal [gf. v.]

carrot-cake-oatmeal

Hello again! Long time no talk. College has started up again, and that means 3 square meals a day and a whole lotta food “study” breaks. As a result I haven’t been doing much cooking besides a smoothie here and there. Since my school doesn’t serve Sunday breakfast, I made this oatmeal last night and ate it cold out of the fridge this morning.

This oatmeal has plenty of shredded carrots for texture and bulk, and I also added coconut flour and almond butter for flavor and body. Oatmeal normally doesn’t keep me full (I’m a scrambled eggs or breakfast taco gal at heart), but the extra fiber from the coconut flour and fat from the almond butter does the trick.

One last thing, now that I’m looking at these pictures, I’m thinking that a nice dollop of vanilla greek yogurt (“cream cheese frosting”) would have been great on this. Try out that route if you’re adventurous.

Carrot Crumb Cake Oatmeal

  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 2/3 cup water or milk
  • 1 packet Quaker lower sugar maple & brown sugar oats*
  • 1 tbs almond butter
  • 1 1/2 tbs coconut flour
  • 1 1/2 tbs raisins
  • granola, to top oatmeal**
  1. In a mug, or in my case, a paper cup, add the shredded carrots and 1/3 cup of water or milk.
  2. Microwave for 2 minutes, or until the mixture is hot and the carrots are beginning to soften.
  3. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of water or milk and the packet of oats. Microwave for another 2 minutes, or until the oats are beginning to foam up.
  4. Stir in the almond butter, coconut flour, and raisins. Add a bit more water or milk if the oats seem too thick.
  5. Serve immediately, or refrigerate overnight and serve cold. Top with granola, and a drizzle of maple syrup if desired.

*Or, replace with 1/3 cup quick oats + maple syrup, to taste.

**I used crumbled nature valleys bars (I can get it at my dining hall) and the pieces added a nice crunch and sweetness, but most plain granolas should work. If your granola is chunky, pulse it in a food processor before serving.

 

 

Dairy-free Biscoff Ice Cream [v.]

biscoff1

My favorite ice cream is the Biscoff flavor at this local ice cream shop in my hometown. It’s not what I would describe as a luxurious ice cream. It’s not exceedingly rich or overwhelmingly complex, but each bite is like a refreshing bite of chunky cookie butter. When I order it with friends, we get it sundae style, topped with chocolate shell and oreo crumbs. While I didn’t have oreos when I took the photos, chocolate shell was a must.

The ice cream’s base is lightly spiced, and there are copious rushed cookies added for texture. I’ve tried Trader Joe’s cookie butter ice cream and while good in a “how-can-you-screw-up-vanilla-ice-cream-and-cookie-butter” kind of way, it couldn’t compare to the biscoff ice cream at this shop.

Since my stomach has been rebelling against dairy as of late, I thought I’d try to make a dairy-free version of my favorite ice cream. I used a coconut cream and cashew milk base which I sweetened with brown sugar and plenty of crunchy cookie butter. I won’t lie and pretend you can’t taste any coconut because you can, but I thought the flavor paired perfectly with the cookie butter. I normally don’t like the taste of coconut, especially chocolate with coconut, ick, but the coconut flavor was mellow and if anything, enhanced the overall flavor of the recipe.

biscoff2

Dairy-free Biscoff Ice Cream  – gluten free. vegan.

  • 1 can coconut cream
  • 1 can’s worth cashew milk (measure with the empty coconut cream can)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup biscoff spread or trader joe’s chunky cookie butter
  • (optional: 2 tbs plain vodka, to improve scoopability)
  • 5 ounces biscoff style cookies, crushed into a mix of crumbs and chunks

To make the ice cream base, whisk together the coconut cream, brown sugar, and biscoff spread. Once smooth, whisk in the cashew milk, and vodka, if using.

Refrigerate the ice cream base until cold, and then churn in an ice cream maker according to the machine’s directions. Right as the ice cream’s finishing, add in the biscoff crumbs and let the machine go for a few more seconds until the crumbs are mixed in.

Scoop into a tupperware container and freeze for at least several hours. Or if you’re feeling impatient, eat soft serve style straight out of the ice cream maker.

No-knead Cranberry Walnut Carrot Bread

carrot-bread

Have you watched the Food Network show Chopped? I’m sort of slightly addicted. When I’m at college, I only have cable at the gym so the amount of TV I watch is limited to how long I’m willing to run, aka not that long. Now that it’s summer break I’ve developed this horrible habit of getting home from work, microwaving whatever food I cooked the night before, plopping my ass on the couch, and letting Food Network run in the background while I browse the internet on my laptop. 90% of the time this means watching Chopped.

The premise of the show is that four competitor chefs compete for three rounds (one chef is eliminated per round), where they have limited time to create an appetizer, entrée, and then dessert using “basket ingredients”. Each round has a different basket, but this usually means 3-4 unrelated and unusual ingredients. Sometimes the chefs absolutely kill it and create beautiful dishes and meals, and other times the clock or ingredients get the better of them.

While I am far too unqualified to ever compete in a show like Chopped, I am a huge fan of its premise, and am constantly trying to incorporate unusual ingredients into the foods I make. Mostly for fun (see sweet potato brownies)…and sometimes due to impulsive purchases. This carrot bread is because of the latter.

One day I found myself driving home from Trader Joe’s with a bottle of carrot juice, and a craving for a carrot cake smoothie. I made the smoothie (it was pretty good), and put the remaining juice in the fridge, only to find it a week and a half later when I was scrum-aging for ketchup. I didn’t want to let it spoil, and I had recently begun a no knead bread kick, so I decided that although I had never heard of yeasted carrot bread, it would probably taste alright. Turns out someone had the idea before me, and yeah, it’s a delicious combination!

If you’re not already a confident bread maker, my recommendation would be to learn how to make no knead bread before proceeding with carrot bread. No knead bread only has 4 ingredients (flour, water, salt, yeast), so it’s super cheap to make, but the dough can be a bit finicky so it’s best to develop some intuition before spending money on extra ingredients such as walnuts and carrot juice.

I kept the bread savory and didn’t add any sweetener besides the naturally sweet carrot juice, but I think an eight to quarter cup of brown sugar, either added at the beginning or folded in before baking would be delicious. Lastly, you can add the walnuts and cranberries with the initial ingredients, which is what I did, but they’ll absorb water and lost their chew and crunch. For this reason I recommend adding them later.

No Knead Carrot Walnut Cranberry Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups bread flour [400g] (I used all purpose. ymwv)
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed carrot juice
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup roasted walnuts
  • (optional: 1/4 tsp cinnamon)

Baking process:

Combine in a large bowl:

  • 3 cups bread flour [400g] (I used all purpose. ymwv)
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed carrot juice
  • (optional: 1/4 tsp cinnamon)

Stir together until a shaggy dough forms. The dough should be moist, but have some shape. Add a few tablespoons of water if the dough looks dry.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set on a warm counter to rise for 12-18 hours. It should double in size and be dotted with bubbles.

Deflate the dough by folding in:

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup roasted walnuts

Flour a flat surface. Scoop the dough onto the flat surface and folding the edges of the dough to the center to create a ball.

Wash out the bowl used originally, and grease with a thin layer of oil or cooking spray. Place the dough ball seam-side down into the bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise for 1-2 additional hours.

Half an hour before baking, place a 4-5 quart dutch oven on the center rack of your oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

After 30 minutes, gently dump the dough into the dutch oven (seam-side should now be on the top), and cover the dutch oven with its lid. Bake for 25 minutes, remove the dutch-oven lid,and bake for 10-20 minutes more. The crust should be dark golden bread.

Cool on a wire rack and serve with cinnamon butter or cream cheese.

Avocado, Hummus, and Chimichurri Sandwich [vegan]

sandwich2

Man oh man oh man oh man. This sandwich has revolutionized my life.

It started with a recent discovery. Chimichurri sauce. It’s similar to pesto, but tastes more fresh and herb-y, and I want to put it on everything. 

I’ve made two variations of this sandwich–first with chimichurri marinated zucchini, and again with  chimichurri marinated tofu [pictured]–and both had me cackling with disbelief because there’s no way a sandwich this simple should taste this good.

I recommend fresh ciabatta bread for optimal chewy crispy goodness, but I used frozen ciabatta rolls because they were calling to me from the freezer. Finally, because the flavors of this sandwich are so refined, I recommend finding a perfectly ripe avocado to avoid the unpleasant flavors that unripe and overripe avocados have.

sandwich

Avocado, Hummus, and Chimichurri Sandwich [vegan]

Makes 1 sandwich.

  • 1 ciabatta roll
  • 2-3 tbs hummus
  • 1/4 a large avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 small zucchini or 3 ounces firm tofu
  • 1 tbs + 1 tsp chimichurri sauce
  • lemon juice
  • salt
  1. If using zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Lightly salt and set to side for half an hour so that any excess water will be drawn out. Pat dry.
  2. If using tofu, press the tofu, and then cut into 1/4 inch thick slices.
  3. Coat the zucchini or tofu in 1 tbs chimichurri sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or sauteé at medium heat in a nonstick pan for 2-3 minutes per side.
  4. Remove the tofu or zucchini from the pan and coat with the remaining 1 tsp of chimichurri sauce.
  5. (Optional, but makes the sandwich less messy to eat: Slice the ciabatta roll in half, and scoop out about half of the bread inside. I found it was easiest to cut a rectangle in each side of the roll, leaving a 1/4 inch border between the rectangle and the edge of the bread, and shave away the bread from this rectangle. Freeze the innards to use as bread crumbs in other recipes.)
  6. Spread the hummus on the bottom half of the roll, and top with with the tofu or zucchini.
  7. Lay 1/4 of a sliced large avocado on top. Sprinkle the avocado with a pinch of salt and a few drops of lemon juice. I like adding a sprinkle of garlic powder as well.
  8. Close the sandwich and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, or cook panini style on a nonstick pan at medium-low heat until the crust of the sandwich is hot and crisp. If planning to eat later, wrap the sandwich in aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to a day (beyond that, the avocado gets a bit icky). Heat before serving. I brought it to work and warmed it up in a toaster oven. It was perfect!

Nutty Apricot Bars

bars3

My latest food stint has been vegan cooking. It evolved out of my desire to reduce the stress of “ahhh what am I going to do with this quickly expiring milk” and “oh my god i have 16 kinds of cheese let me just eat nothing but cheese for the next week” (really, I make this seem like a bigger problem than it is, because cheese is delicious), and has led to a lotta stir fries, smoothies, and pasta dishes.

Despite my growing confidence in plant-based cooking, there are still times when I turn to my dear friend butter, and this, my friend, is one of them.

These bars are so good. Like, bring-to-a-fancy-dinner-and-watch-anxiously-as-people-take-that-first-bite good. The nutty shortbread base melts in your mouth, and the slight tartness of the apricots is a perfect complement to the lightly sweetened frangipane. And this is coming from someone who is way more of a chocolate than fruit dessert person. (On a side note, I believe there are two type of people: people who prefer fruit desserts and people who prefer chocolate. I refuse to believe that there are people who want neither.)

bars4

They’re also incredibly easy to make. Seriously, if you have a food processor (and if you don’t, I highly recommend you get one, because it is one of the few things I am willing to lug across the country to college), all you have to do is throw two sets of ingredients in (at separate times) and whiz away. That, and chop a few apricots, but still, the prep for this recipe is incredibly quick.

My “secret” ingredient for this recipe is premium salted butter. It has a lower water content than regular butter, which makes it perfect for shortbread. Kerrygold butter should be easiest to find, but Trader Joe’s had another brand that was cheaper so I used that. If you can’t find premium butter, don’t worry, regular salted butter works as well.

Nutty Apricot Bars

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup almonds or pecans (I used half of each) [60 g]
  • 1 cup flour [125 g]
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar [50 g]
  • 1/2 cup salted premium butter, or unsalted butter + 1/2 tsp salt [115 g]

Frangipane filling:

  • 1 cup almonds or pecans (I used half of each) [120 g]
  • 1 tbs all purpose flour [10g]
  • 1/4 cup white sugar [50g]
  • 5 tablespoons salted premium butter, or unsalted butter + 1/4 tsp salt [70g]
  • 1 large egg

Toppings:

  • ~6 small apricots
  • 2 tbs sliced almonds

Preparation Process:

Begin by roasting the nuts. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, line an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper. Cut two ~15 inch long pieces of parchment so they are 8 inches wide. Drape one piece in the pan so that it lines 3 sides, and drape the other piece perpendicular so that all sides of the pan are covered.

Add to a food processor:

  • 1/2 cup almonds or pecans (I used half of each) [60 g]
  • 1 cup flour [125 g]
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar [50 g]
  • 1/2 cup salted premium butter, or unsalted butter + 1/2 tsp salt [115 g], cut into 1 tbs piece

Blend until the mixture is beginning to form large clumps. Press the dough into the pan into an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to darken, and then remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. To speed up the process, put the pan in the freezer.

While the crust is cooling, grind in the food processor until sand consistency:

  • 1 cup almonds or pecans (I used half of each) [120 g]
  • 1 tbs all purpose flour [10g]
  • 1/4 cup white sugar [50g]

Add to the food processor:

  • 5 tablespoons salted premium butter, or unsalted butter + 1/4 tsp salt [70g]

Mix until no butter chunks are visible, then while the food processor is still running, add in:

  • 1 large egg

Pulse until just combined.

When the crust has cooled (I recommend letting it cool fully, or else the butter in the filling will begin to melt), spread the frangipane filling over it.

Top with:

  • ~6 small apricots
  • 2 tbs sliced almonds

I cut the apricots in half, sliced each half into thin pieces, fanned out the slices, and then transferred them to the base on a butter knife.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the bars should come out clean, and the edges of the crust should be deep golden brown, but not burnt.

For the cleanest presentation, allow the bars to cool on the countertop until warm, and then cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator until cold. Remove the bars by pulling up the edges of the parchment.

Slice into 16* squares**, and serve at room temperature.

*The smaller the slices the more you can eat, right?

**A little tip is to slice off the outer edges of the bars before cutting into squares. The crisp edges are perfect for eating like biscotti, and the squares look more uniform sans edges.

Curried “Meat” Hand Pies (vegan)

curriedmeatpies1

This past summer, I’ve finally created a sustainable approach to cooking for one (hungry) person. I aim for fresh meals and zero waste, and so far it’s working well. As a result I’ve been thinking a lot about my food philosophy and approach to cooking.

On one hand, I’m a huge fan of the minimalist approach to cooking. I love simple high-quality dishes with flavors that are bright and true, rather than cluttered and muddled. Think, Minimalist Baker or Budget Bytes.

At the same time, some of the best foods have page long lists of ingredients that combine to form the perfect symphony of flavors. Think, Lady and Pups or Serious Eats.

meatpie2

I’m still trying to figure out where I should focus my cooking with respect to these two extremes, but I’ve found it’s usually better to start simple.

These curry “meat” pies are my take on Jamaican Hand Pies. I combined a few of the recipes I found online, stripping down the ingredients to my kitchen staples (hence, the minimalism). TVP might not be a kitchen staple of yours (yet), but I recommend buying a bag because it’s cheap, an easy protein addition to sauces and soups, and it has a shelf life of over a year. If you’re still hesitant, feel free to replace it with a generous ¾ cup of crumbled tofu or 8 ounces of ground beef.

Until I get a chance to try authentic Jamaican pies, I can’t say how close they taste to the real things, but they are savory and flavorful, and my friends inhaled them. I’m headed back to college soon, but my next kitchen with have a freezer stocked with these for sure (they’re basically a much improved hot pocket). These and this vegetable lasagna. So good.

Curry “Meat” Hand Pies

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup tvp “grains”
  • 3 tablespoons butter, margarine, or olive oil
  • 3 oz diced yellow onion
  • 4 oz sweet potatoes, diced in small pieces
  • 2 oz carrots, diced in small pieces
  • 4 oz cabbage, finely chopped
  • 2 oz frozen or fresh peas
  • 3 tsp beef flavored bouillon (3 cubes in my case)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce (or ¼ cup water and 2 tbs tomato paste)
  • 2 sheets puff pastry (1 box)
  • optional: 2 tbs crushed walnuts, salt or soy sauce to taste

Preparation process:

Combine in a bowl:

  • 1/3 cup tvp pellets
  • ½ cup boiling water

Stir, and let sit for 20 minutes so that the tvp can rehydrate (you can proceed while waiting).

In a large saucepan, cook at medium-low heat:

  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter or olive oil
  • 3 oz diced yellow onion

Continue cooking the onion until it is soft and light golden brown. Then, add:

  • 4 oz sweet potatoes, diced in small pieces
  • 2 oz carrots, diced in small pieces
  • 4 oz cabbage, finely chopped

Once the vegetables are beginning to soften, add the the pan:

  • the rehydrated tvp
  • 3 tsp beef flavored bouillon (3 SMALL–much smaller than the boillon cubes i’ve used in the past–cubes in my case)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce (or ¼ cup water and 2 tbs tomato paste)
  • optional: 2 tbs crushed walnuts

Continue cooking for 10 minutes, adding a few tablespoons water if the filling mixture looks dry.

Lastly, fold in:

  • 2 oz frozen or fresh peas

Taste, and add a pinch of salt or drizzle of soy sauce if desired (I added ½ tsp soy sauce). Transfer the “meat” pie filling to a bowl and refrigerate until cold.

While the filling is chilling, place a box of frozen puff pastry out to defrost for 45 minutes and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the two puff pastry sheets (each box of puff pastry should come with 2 sheets) into four pieces each. Put away 2 pieces for later use. I went this route and made peanut butter banana pastries. So good.

Roll out the remaining 6 pieces of puff pastry into thin squares. Place 1/6 of the filling onto one side of each square (each side is a triangle), leaving a ¼ inch border between the edge of the puff pastry and the filling.

Fold the puff pastry over the filling, creating a triangle shape.Crimp the edges with a fork, making sure to not leave any gaps where the filling might fall out.

Now, either bake at 400 degrees until golden brown (~15-25 minutes) OR put the “meat” pies into the freezer. Frozen pies can be baked straight from the freezer at 400 degrees for about 25-35 minutes. The pies are down when they are golden brown and flaky, and the filling is steamin’ hot.

Enjoy!

Chocolate, Fig, & Roasted Walnut Milkshakes (dairy free. refined sugar free)

chocolatefigmilkshake1

I almost got in a fight over milkshakes once.

You see, in my humble and objectively correct opinion, milkshakes should be thick. Creamy enough to stir, but almost too thick to drink from a straw.

Apparently there are other ways to make “milkshakes” because a while ago I was sitting at lunch as my friend sloshed together milk and vanilla ice cream in a ratio that could only produce cold, barely sweet liquid with icy chunks. I asked him what monstrosity he was making, and he tried to tell me it was a milkshake. I (only half facetiously) called him a liar. I take frozen desserts very seriously.

This started a table-wide discussion on what makes the perfect milkshake, and also the start of my disillusionment with the world as I realized that most people I know prefer slurpable vs spoonable shakes.

So in a sort of compromise, I’m providing a milkshake recipe that can be tuned to your own preferences. Add more or less liquid, and the shake will be more or less thick. Magic.

chocolatefigmilkshake2

These milkshakes are far from traditional, but they’re delicious, and not in a health food substitution kind of way. If you’re a classic chocolate milkshake kinda person, just leave out the figs and sub in cashews for the walnuts, and it’ll be just as tasty. Sprinkle with granola to add the perfect crunch, and enjoy poolside or computer-side; I’ve done both.

Chocolate Fig & Walnut Milkshakes

Makes 4 large milkshakes

Note: To make classic chocolate milkshakes, increase the cashews to 1 cup, and leave out the walnuts and figs. 

In a pot bring 2 inches of water to a rolling boil. Add:

  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • ½ cup dried figs

Boil for 3 minutes, then drain. Add to a blender along with:

  • 3 cups non-dairy milk*
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts**
  • ½ cup dates
  • ¼ cup coconut palm sugar
  • ½ tsp stevia, or 2 tbs coconut palm sugar
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder***

Blend until completely smooth and creamy.

To make milkshakes, there are 2 options:

Option 1: Chill the mixture, and then churn in an ice cream maker for 20 minutes. This should create the perfect milkshake consistency. Thin with non-dairy milk as necessary.

Option 2: Pour the mixture into an ice cube mold, and freeze. Once completely frozen, add about half of the cubes to a blender with ~½ cup of non-dairy milk, and blend! Thin with milk as necessary.

Enjoy!

*The consistency of the final milkshakes will reflect the fat content of whatever non-dairy milk you use. Use canned coconut milk for very creamy (and a bit coconut-y) milkshakes, or unsweetened cashew milk to lighten them up. Rest assured that the milkshakes will be plenty creamy regardless of what milk you use; the whole cashews and walnuts guarantee this.

**Toast the walnuts in a saucepan at medium heat until fragrant, being careful not to burn them.

***I prefer dutch-processed, but any type should do. Reduce to 2 tablespoons for a fainter chocolate taste.

On a side note, I built a lightbox over the weekend to help me take more pictures. One of the problems I’ve encountered is that I do most of my cooking early in the morning or after the sun has set, both awkward times to take photos. With this lightbox, I have pretty good lighting regardless of the hour. Expect more recipes as a result.

chocolatefigmilkshake3

Vegan Pesto Cream Sauce

pesto

In the many months since my last post, I learned something new about myself.  I’m lactose intolerant. Boo.

Apparently it’s common for people to produce less of the enzyme responsible for digesting lactose as they get older, but nevertheless I’m feeling a bit betrayed by my body. Betrayed and a bit in denial.

Luckily, I’ve also learned that there are some delicious (and simple!) replacements for traditional cream sauces: a prime example being this pesto cream sauce.

I was inspired by this recipe (cauliflower and cashews, brilliant!), but I made some alterations to cater it to my tastes. This sauce is so rich and hearty, but not heavy and cloying like many dairy-based sauces. I’ve made it twice so far, and shared it with enough people and kids to declare it picky eater approved. Lastly, don’t let the iphone photo with exactly 0 food styling dissuade you…it was so good I couldn’t wait to eat.

Now to figure out a way to make my favorite lasagna ever without cheese.

Vegan Pesto Cream Sauce

Makes ~2 ½ cups sauce

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add:

  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 2 white mushrooms* (use 1 or omit if not fond of mushrooms)
  • 4 florets cauliflower, ~¾ cup

Boil for around 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is soft. Next, strain the boiled mixture and add to a high speed blender with:

  • 1 cup unsweetened cashew or almond milk**
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast***

Blend until completely smooth and then add:

  • 2-3 tablespoons non-dairy pesto****
  • salt, to taste

The sauce is ready! Heat up in a saucepan or microwave and add to pasta, gnocchi, vegetables, lasagna or whatever else you can think of.

Store any extra sauce in the fridge. It stores and reheats perfectly!

*I looove mushrooms and used baby bella mushrooms for the sauce pictured. I’ve also used shiitake.

** Be careful to not use vanilla cashew milk. The packaging is almost the same.

***I thought I despised nutritional yeast, but it turns out the brand I had tried (Bob’s Red Mill) has a very strong taste. I much prefer this brand.

****Most pestos have parmesan cheese, but I found a brand without any.

Ricotta Maple Oat Muffin Tops

ricottamaplemuffintops1

Do you know those maple oat glazed scones at Starbucks? Now imagine them in muffin form. Mmm.

I originally intended to make scones, but I wasn’t heavy handed enough with the butter, and was a bit too generous with the ricotta and ended up with muffin tops instead.

At first I was disappointed, and packed them in a tupperware to share with friends, but I decided to try a bite and…I immediately unpacked them from the tupperware. They weren’t going anywhere.

These are truly little unassuming packages of joy. They’re not the prettiest (maybe some sliced almonds or a glaze could fix that), but they taste like autumn, and autumn tastes so, so good.

Ricotta Maple Oat Muffin Tops

Makes 8 muffin tops (size of regular muffins).

In a medium bowl, stir together:

  • ½ cup white whole wheat or spelt flour
  • ¼ cup oat flour + ¼ cup instant oats
  • ¼ cup + 1 tbs coconut palm sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

Stir into the dry ingredients:

  • 2 tbs melted butter

Finally, stir in:

  • ¾ cup fat free ricotta (or regular ricotta)
  • ½ tsp maple extract

Spoon the batter into a greased whoopie pie pan (what I used), or regular muffin tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serve warm, with butter, almond butter, or just plain.