Pepperjack Cashew Cheese

Oh my my, I love cashew cheese. 
There are a lot of store-bought, processed vegan cheeses out there, and some of them are quite good but few are meant to be eaten without melting first. This Pepperjack recipes is inspired from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions, which I talked about here.
Check out the recipe for this Pepperjack Cashew Cheese on The Sweet Life



salted caramel corn

 gluten-free, soy-free, vegan

I only recently discovered how easy it is to make popcorn with just a stove and a pot. Upon this discovery my mind started racing with all the wonderful  flavors I could make. Naturally salted caramel was the first on my list.

Check out the recipe at The Sweet Life.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Roasted Eggplant and tomato pizza

gluten-free, soy-free, vegan pizza

When I removed gluten and soy from my diet I was afraid it was going to be a sad, sad month. How silly of me.This pizza is delicious, hearty, and completely satisfying.

Check out the recipe at  The Sweet Life

Thursday, April 26, 2012

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

vegan. gluten-free. soy free. delicious.

For the next month I'm on a gluten-free, soy-free food challenge. As a vegan this limits my diet substantially.  After five days of incredibly healthy, mostly raw meals I needed some chocolate! I have an old no bake cookie recipe in a family cookbook that I have been veganizing for years and I realized with one quick walk to the store, I could have my chocolaty gluten and soy free dessert.

Check it out here at The Sweet Life

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Fruit Tart

As I mentioned earlier, I am totally into cashews right now and have been eager to try cashew pastry cream. I have made other vegan pastry creams in the past and never been very pleased with the result. Going creamy often involves tofu (which I am trying to limit in my diet) and always runs the risk of having that "vegan aftertaste". Well I have decided it is time for that "vegan aftertaste" to become a compliment. It is time for people to expect our creams and custards and mousses to be better than their cow counterpart.

So my dessert challenge this week was to make a delicious pastry cream out of cashews that would be the base of my Easter fruit tart.

The Components:

Cashew Pastry Cream
Shortbread Tart Shell
1 pint Strawberries
1/2 pint Raspberries
1/2 pint Blueberries
2 Kiwi
1 Mango
Apricot Glaze

Cashew Pastry Cream

3 Tbsp non-hydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance is best)
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups soy milk
2 vanilla beans
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup water

Soak the cashews in 1 cup water overnight.

In a food processor blend the cashews with the water until completely smooth. This may take a long time so be patient.

Meanwhile melt margarine in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add cornstarch and quickly whisk until smooth and thick. Mix the milk and sugar in a separate bowl and add slowly into the cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly. With a paring knife slice the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape the bean clean. Stir vanilla into pastry cream. Switch from whisk to spatula and continue stirring while cream thickens, scraping down the sides. It should coat the spatula, looking something like this:
Once thick, remove from heat and allow cream to cool slightly. When it is no longer hot to the touch add it to the cashews which should be very smooth and creamy and blend for a few more minutes until well combined.

Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Set in refrigerator and allow several hours for pastry cream to set up.
This can be made several days in advance; it will store in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Shortbread Tart Shell

This recipe is from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's wonderful cookie cookbook, "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar."

1 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, slightly softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-inch tart pan.
In a large bowl beat together the margarine and sugar, scraping the sides often, until very light and creamy.

Sift together flour and cornstarch. Add to margarine mixture in batches, folding in with a spatula first. Beat together until mixture is crumbly yet moist, holding together when pressed. You want it to look something like this:

Empty dough into tart shell and press down with fingers so that it evenly fills the bottom. Press all around the entire rim of the pan to get the dough into the fluted edges as well as at the fold so that you have a good 90 degree angle.
For a clean look run a knife around the top to even out the sides.

With a fork poke holes into the dough.

Place tart shell in oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes until the shortbread is slightly puffed and the edges are staring to golden. Remove from heat and let cool.

Pour chilled and set-up pastry cream into completely cooled tart shell, filling about half full. Smooth the top with an offset spatula. Place back in fridge to set up for another hour or so.

Once ready, gently remove the sides of the tart pan by holding the bottom and slightly pushing down at the rim to remove. It's important to do this now before the tart gets too heavy. Take a knife and stick it between the bottom of the pan and tart shell. The bottom should just ease off at this point.

Place on flat round plate and begin assembling. You can do this however you like with any type of fruit. This is what I did:
Cut strawberries in half and place around the edge. Place raspberries just inside the strawberries, doubling them up to create volume.

Skin and slice kiwi into eight slices and place around the raspberries, followed by all the blueberries. Again, I used an entire 1/2 pint, stacking them to create more volume. I finished with three strawberries and slices of mangos in the center.

You're almost finished! Heat up 1 Tbsp apricot jam (or any jam really) and 2 Tbsp water, whisking constantly until boiling. With a pastry brush (silicone works best) brush the glaze on over the fruit. This gives it a nice shine and a couple extra hours of shelf life.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

strawberry banana parfaits

Strawberry Banana Parfaits
vegan and soy-free

My family gathers several times a year to celebrate clusters of birthday. This weekend we got together for three birthdays and I made the dessert. Ever since my fantastic birthday dinner at Portobello and their amazing tiramisu with cashew marscapone I had been eager to experiment more with cashews. The result: a creamy, fluffy, and very rich mousse I am extremely excited to share as part of my birthday parfait recipe.

The Components

Chocolate Brownie Cake Chocolate Mousse
Coconut Whipped Cream

Chocolate Brownie Cake

This is a delicious blend between a cake and a brownie: rich, moist, and super chocolatey. This is probably the easiest cake recipe I've ever seen and takes no more than ten minutes to assemble.

1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly oil a 9'' cake pan or 8x8 square dish. Mix together the first five ingredients until well combined. In a measuring cup combine the wet ingredients and pour into the dry. Mix together until smooth, but do not over-mix. Small chunks are okay; the batter should look something like this:

Place in oven and bake about 20 minutes, until knife comes out clean in the center.
Set aside to cool.

Chocolate Mousse

This recipe follows a classic chocolate mousse that is made up of three components: whipped eggs and sugar, melted chocolate, and whipped cream. After some experimenting and reading I came up with this vegan version of the classic mousse.

1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

12 oz chocolate, melted

2 cans coconut milk, chilled overnight
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract or 2 vanilla beans

Place cashews in a bowl and add 1 cups water.
Let the cashews soak in the water overnight.

Once ready blend the cashews, water, and sugar in a food processor for a looooong time until mixture is smooth and thick.

Meanwhile melt the chocolate on a double boiler, stirring occasionally.

Once chocolate is melted scrape into large bowl. Fold in the completely smooth cashew mixture until well combined. Let cool to room temperature.

While chocolate cashew mixture is cooling, open the two cans of chilled coconut milk and scrape out the fatty solids on the top (about half the can). Place in a bowl with sugar and vanilla extract and blend with a hand mixture until the coconut milk is the texture of whipped cream.

Fold in the whipped cream to the now cooled chocolate mixture. Place in a airtight contain and let set up in the fridge.

Coconut Whipped Cream

1 can coconut milk, chilled overnight
3 TBSP powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Blend together as done for mousse.

Strawberries and Bananas

Slice 2 bananas and 1/2 pint strawberries.
Place strawberries in bowl and mix with two tablespoons of sugar to bring out the moisture.

To assemble parfaits:
cut one inch chunks from cooled cake and place 3-4 at the bottom of the glass.
Top with several sliced strawberries.
Cover with 3-4 TBSP mousse.
Repeat, this time with bananas.
Pipe or spoon on the whipped cream and top with a strawberry.
Serve chilled.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

tacos sin carne

Remember the other day when I mentioned how delicious Textured Vegetable Protein is as a replacement for ground beef? I may have even said that many of my meat-eating friends prefer my tacos sin carne. Want to try it for yourself? Here's my incredible easy, surprisingly fast, and totally flexible taco recipe:
Tacos Sin Carne

the meat
1 cup dried textured vegetable protein
1/2 yellow onion
1 cup diced or crushed tomatoes, optional

the seasoning
2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t oregano
1 t paprika
1 Tbsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

the rest
any other toppings you love
taco shells or tortillas

Textured Vegetable Protein "Ground Beef"

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), a protein-rich meat substitute made from soy flour, can be found at health stores or in larger supermarkets, usually in the bulk section. When ready to use TVP needs to be re-hydrated at a 1:1 ratio. To do this place 1 part TVP in bowl and cover with 1 part boiling water. Place lid on bowl and let sit for five minutes.

While the TVP is re-hydrating, heat up 1 TBSP oil in a pan. Once hot add onion and saute, stirring often, until lightly brown.

Once onions are ready add chili , garlic, and onion powder, cayenne, oregano, paprika, ans cumin.
Stir to coat onion.

Add tomatoes. I just use whatever is in my pantry, usually diced tomatoes, and add to taste. The tomatoes add juiciness and flavor but could be omitted all together, in which case add a little extra water when adding tvp to onion mixture.

Add tvp and stir until combined. Let sit simmer for 5 minutes for flavors to soak in.

Prepare your toppings. Below and clockwise I have lime chive sour "cream" (I prefer Follow Your Heart), spinach, avocado, tomatoes, olives, and salsa.

Assemble tacos and enjoy!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Mousse Cake

This is a delicious and decadent chocolate cake recipe that was inspired
by a recipe I found in Hannah Kaminsky's "My Sweet Vegan".
This cake is not only a super easy, no bake dessert.
It is also vegan, gluten-free and without refined sugars.
Chocolate Mousse Cake


1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
3 tbsp canola oil

Combine all ingredients for crust until well combined and dough-like.
Press firmly into a lightly oiled 9 inch spring form pan.

Chill crust while preparing the filing.

Mousse Filling
2 12 ounce packages extra firm silken tofu
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup brown rice syrup
2 tsp almond extract
12 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

Drain tofu and blend well in food processor. Scrape down sides and add cocoa powder, brown rice syrup and almond extract. Blend again.
Meanwhile melt the chocolate chips in a double broiler and
add to tofu mixture. Scrape down and blend for several minutes
until mixture is smooth.

Pour mousse into chilled crust and smooth with offset spatula.

Chill in refrigerator for at least four hours.
Top with raspberries and chocolate shaving.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


It's been one month since giving birth to Eden, which feels like a great time
to refocus on my health and encourage the restoration of my body.
My first step is juicing. Juicing for health provides nutrients, antioxidants,
vitamins and minerals for the body to repair itself, allowing cell regeneration
and growth. When I commit to making juice once a day,
I become more energetic and feel clean and healthy.
To begin this juicing journey I tried out several recipes.

Orange Juice
High in Vitamin C and Calcium this energizing juice is a perfect start to a day.

1 golden beet, quartered
1/2 orange, quartered and peeled
3 large carrots
1 inch ginger root

Cold Buster
With the cleansing powers of ginger and lemon, this apple juice
will help fight of the winter bug.

3 Granny Smith apples, quartered
1 inch ginger root
1 /2 lemon, peeled
pinch of cayenne, mixed into juice

Detox Juice
Full of detoxing powers, these fruits and vegetables
combine for a great cleansing juice.

1/2 cucumber, quartered
1 celery stock
1 granny smith apple, quartered
1/2 lemon, peeled

and there are many recipes and uses for juice pulp
some of the many ways pulp can be used:
compost for garden
vegetable broth
fruit leather
mix into muffins, pancakes, scones...
add to smoothies

Thursday, February 9, 2012


I'm starting her young. At 16 days old I
strapped Eden in for her first day of baking.
We made two kinds of granola today, both super easy and very delicious.

Maple Almond Granola
4 cups rolled oats
2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
6 T dark brown sugar
6 T pure maple syrup
4 T canola oil
4 T agave nectar
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a second mixing bowl combine the remaining wet ingredients. Toss together until the oats are completely coated. Spread on baking sheet and bake about 30 minutes, stirring often.

While the Maple Almond Granola was in the oven
we started on our second variety.

Cherry Coconut Almond Granola
4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 cup unsweetened coconut
2 cups chopped almonds
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup agave nectar
2 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup brown sugar

2 cups dried cherries

In a large mixing bowl combine first four ingredients.

On the stove heat the oil, maple syrup, almond extract, and brown sugar until sugar is melted and mixture is simmering. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until oat mixture is completely coated. Spread out on baking sheets and bake at 300 degrees F for 30-45 minutes, mixing frequently.
Eden got tired and decided to let me finish while she watched from her chair.

Once the granola is out of the oven stir in the dried cherries.
Let sit for ten minutes then stir again to break up chunks.
When both granolas had completely cooled I filled four
quart-sized mason jars, storing three of the in the freezer.

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