Let’s do savory today! Sweets are nice, but when you are trying to fit into a kind of form fitting wedding dress (one month to go!!), you have to go with the savory side of things. I tend to shy away from vegan ricotta since it never seems to quite get close enough to the real cheese flavor. (more…)
Remember back when I made this mushroom free green bean casseroleand I talked about how much I really don’t like mushrooms? Well, my mind has been changed..but just slightly! Ever since a gross mushroom pizza incident in first grade, I’ve always had a big aversion to mushrooms in any form. Mushrooms in salad, mushrooms in pot pie, I will leave them rather than take them, thank you very much. So, when I went to dinner with my fiance and parents for my dad’s birthday and saw portobello mushroom sliders on the menu, I was automatically all ‘Um NOPE’, you guys can have those. We were at one of those shared plates restaurants, where everyone orders different dishes and hopefully shares them with everyone else. Now, keep in mind that everything else I had ever eaten at this restaurant has been brilliant and delicious, so this would be the place to try mushrooms if I was going to make the leap.
So, my dad ordered the sliders while I just assumed that I would take one bite, hate them, and relegate myself back to my beet and blood orange salad (so good!). But, as soon as they came and we all grabbed a slider to try, we all just kind of looked at each other, amazed that mushroom bacon could be THIS good. It was crunchy and smoky, without being all mushy and gross like mushrooms are sometimes. The sauce on the slider was a perfect and I’m pretty positive the buns were homemade, so double win on that one. My dad and I immediately swore to re-create these at home and swap notes, because if I finally found a mushroom dish I liked, it begged to be a dinner staple from now on.
One of the keys to making the ‘bacon’ is slicing the mushrooms super thin, but not so thin that they burn when you go to cook them in the pan. Also, I tried two batches of this bacon, one that was marinated overnight and another that was marinated for 15-20 minutes. I logically thought that the overnight batch would work better, but as it turns out, when I went to cook the overnight batch, all the liquid from the marinade came out and started smoking up my kitchen, fun! So, marinade for at least 15 minutes and don’t try to sub in anything else for the liquid smoke, it just won’t do. The mayo is a combo of my favorite sauce thickener, cashews and a touch of lemon juice. It isn’t technically mayonnaise, but that hasn’t stopped me from slathering it on every sandwich I’ve made in the past three days.
I didn’t make the rolls from scratch, because sometimes, you just don’t have time for that, right? Between making the bacon and mixing up the mayo, I knew I wouldn’t want to mess with trying to fresh bake rolls in the meantime. A few slices of whole grain bread or a baguette would be perfect, but I chose to use a fast and easy rise and bake version from Rhodes Rolls. These rolls are actually vegan, which I wouldn’t have realized if I hadn’t looked closely at the packaging. I loved that they were super easy to let rise overnight, then bake off the next day when I went to assemble my sliders. Bonus, they are available all over Wisconsin and are made in Wisconsin, love! I’ve come to appreciate all the awesome brands that are made right here, especially when they do/make good things.
I hope you are staying warm where you are! It’s going to get to a balmy 28 degrees today, but back down to single digits tomorrow. I’ll just be here, drinking alllll the hot cups of tea and wearing alllll the scarves.
Thanks to Rhodes Bake N Serv for sponsoring this post. I received product and was compensated for my time, but all opinions are my own.
Portobello mushrooms make for the perfect vegan bacon, especially when they are sliced thin and marinated in a combination of liquid smoke and maple syrup. Siracha mayo makes for a perfect condiment to these vegan sliders!
For the bacon:
3 portobello mushrooms (rinsed and patted dry)
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup liquid smoke
Salt and pepper to taste
For the siracha mayo:
1 cup cashews (soaked for at least 4 hours and drained)
2–3 tablespoons siracha sauce (depending on taste)
1/4–1/3 cup water
For the sliders:
6–8 rolls or piece s of bread (whichever you prefer)
To make the bacon: Stir together the maple syrup and liquid smoke in a wide, flat bowl, set aside. Slice the portobello mushrooms very thinkly, about 1/4 inch thick and place in the bowl of marinade. Allow to sit for at least 15-20 minutes, moving around the slices as necessary so they all are submerged in the marinade. You may have to marinade them in batched, to make sure they all get a chance to soak up the liquid. Place a pan over medium heat and spray liberally with cooking spray or melt a teaspoon of coconut oil in the pan. When melted, cook the mushrooms slices for 2-3 minutes on each side, until they are dark golden brown, but not burnt. Cook in batches and allow to drain on a paper towel after they have been cooked.
To make the mayo: In a food processor or high powered blender, blend together the cashews, water and siracha, adding salt and pepper to taste and until mixture is smooth. Add more water is necessary.
To assemble: Spread both sides of the rolls cut in half with the mayo and place the back and greens on them. Serve immediately.
This Smoked Paprika and Cheddar Vegan Cheese Ball requires less than 10 minutes of hands on prep work and is perfect for holiday parties!
There are four recipes that remind me distinctly of my late Grandma Millie: chicken and noodles, custard pie, Swedish coffee cake, and this cheese ball. I was actually never a fan of the custard pie (too jiggly and weird texture for me), but loved every single one of the other recipes. Her chicken and noodles were a Sunday tradition in our house, and since she would send us home with huge tubs full of them already prepared we could eat on those for ages.
The pie I obviously stayed away from, but the cheese ball I was always all over come Christmas time. My mom has continued on in making the cheese ball each and every year since it’s tradition, along with our usual lasagna on Christmas Eve. (Does anyone else eat unique things on Christmas?). My grandmother never actually called it a specific name and I think when I found the recipe card in her recipe box it was just called ‘cheese ball.’ So descriptive, right? I think there are probably five or six recipes in there labeled just ‘Cookies,’ so I’m going to have to think on titles for those when I get to vegan-izing them.
As grandmas do, the measurements for the cheese ball were vague at best, simply because she and my mom probably know the measurements just out of habit rather than from looking at a piece of paper. I knew when I set out to vegan-ize this favorite holiday treat that I needed to keep the main components of it intact. The flavors I remember most about this cheese ball are onion, garlic, and pecans, among the cheesy flavors, of course.
The original cheese ball recipe actually calls for ‘onion juice,’ but since I know most people don’t have that laying around (I certainly didn’t), I opted for using red onion instead. Cashews are always a solid choice for a cheesy vegan base, along with a few spices, garlic and pecans, of course. I hope you enjoy this vegan cheese ball as much as I always have. I think this version is going to become a regular in my vegan cheese rotation now! Happy last weekend before Christmas!
How to Make Cheese Balls
Whether you’re making a vegan cheese ball or a regular one, you make them both in the same way. To make this savory vegan cheese ball recipe, you’ll need to plan ahead a little because the cashews need to be soaked for at least four hours (but overnight is better!).
Once the cashews have soaked, you simply have to add all the ingredients into a high powdered blender and blend everything together until smooth. Keep in mind that you might have to add a little more water to help this vegan cheese ball reach the right consistency. You don’t want the mixture too be too runny though, otherwise you can’t form balls out of it!
This vegan cheese ball recipe actually makes two medium-sized cheese balls. Once you’ve made the cheese ball mixture in the blender, form it into the two balls and roll each in the chopped pecans. Then, wrap them in plastic wrap and pop them into the fridge until firm.
You can serve this holiday cheese ball with any number of sides, but I like toasted bread and crackers best. However, apple slices would pair well with this as well (the cheddar flavor goes nicely with tart apples, in particular).
I’ve had these buggers in my head for a looong time now, which is weird, because I really don’t eat hot dogs much anymore. Now childhood? That was a different story. Remember those hot dogs they sold at the grocery store that were filled with cheese? They were regular hot dogs, but when they were made (in whatever sketchy way they were made), some sort of cheese solution was squeezed in there with them. Talking about it now, it sounds pretty gross, but at the time, wooo weee, those were my FAVORITE. I always wanted them, but my knowing mother only allowed them once in while, especially on special occasions. (What kind of special occasion merits a cheese filled hot dog? Who knows) I remember having them when my babysitter came over for a day, cooking them in the microwave until the cheese started oozing out the sides and them slapping a good ol’ slice of American cheese on them. Double cheese-ish product, lots of ketchup, hold the bun please. Yep, that was me.
Now, obviously my habits and tastes have changed, but I’ll still go for a good hot dog, especially if it’s dressed up a little bit. Back then, ‘dressed up’ qualified as all those various cheese things, but now, wrap a hot dog in a soft pretzel and I am good to go. For some reason, I got a craving for these a few weeks ago and vowed I would make them right away. Since I wanted them so badly, I even made a special trip to Whole Foods (aka where my wallet goes to die) and purchased my favorite Field Roast hot dogs. Then, more important things came up; like reading this book, watching The Office for the 900th time or just becoming obsessed with/wanting to be Nicole from Rehab Addict. Finally, I vowed to make these this past weekend, prepping them and making sure I had ample time for the dough to rise and even kept a close eye on the broiler while I made sure they got a nice golden hue and crunch to them. Sidenote: The broiler is usually the bane of my existence. I mean, I love something that will put a crunchy top on anything or make the top of my favorite dessert all caramelized, but really, that thing just goes from 0 to 100 in .5 seconds. Before I know it I’m all ‘AHHHH!’ and standing on a chair trying to wave the smoke away from our very loud, very close to the oven smoke detector. Anyway, these pretzel wrapped hot dogs came out perfectly and I even threw together a cranberry ketchup to make them feel seasonal and Thanksgiving-ish. I thought about making ketchup from scratch, but the truth of the matter is, I was getting frustrated with the waning winter light, over taking pictures, and really just wanted to eat a few of these before relegating to the couch for a few hours. Plus, my fiance was getting antsy and asking ‘Are you going to let me eat those yet or are you going to take MORE pictures?!’. So, I ended up just mashing up a few cranberries and mixing them with bottled ketchup, which ended up turning out pretty well.
If you want, you could even swap out the hot dogs for your favorite vegan sausage (this smoked apple sage one is my favorite right now) or put some sort of breafast sausage in there for a brunchy treat. Either way, these are a break from all the Thanksgiving recipes floating around and could be a nice ‘we are stuffed let’s watch football the rest of the day’ treat. These also refrigerate/freeze nicely, so if you want to make a batch before company comes over and pop them in before people start having a second hunger wave, that works well too! I know I mentioned breaking from Thanksgiving recipes, but next up is a cheesy/savory green bean casserole without mushrooms. Bon appetit!
This white bean dip had a definite process of getting it juuuust right. Too much Old Bay, not enough, too many white beans, you know the drill. Then finally, I last minute decided to add in a new to me ingredient, hearts of palm. I’ve been seeing hearts of palm on a lot of vegan cooking recipes lately, to be used as a substitute for crab in crab cakes or to give that ‘seafood’ texture. I thought they would be a weird, gross thing in a can that I would NOT want to use, but as it turns out, they are pretty normal, so that’s on me for judging too quickly! After I added in the hearts of palm this dip went from ‘pretty good’ to ‘pretty DANG good’. Before I even had the opportunity to take these pictures (more…)
I sometimes get stuck in a rut when it comes to real meals, especially when fall and winter come around. In the summer it’s all squash and grilling out and I-can-eat-popcorn-for-dinner-because-it’s-hot-outside, right? I know autumn offers up its own bounty of root vegetables and pumpkin in everything, but often, I get stuck in a cycle of snacks for dinner and pasta all the time. Both of these things are great, but sometimes I just want to be able to throw together a real meal, without a lot of thinking and planning. Oddly enough, when it comes to baking, I can wing it, throw together a recipe, and most of the time, something awesome comes out of it! But, when it comes to dinner or throwing together a quick lunch, I can kind of fall flat. This is exact reason is why I’m so happy I found the Vegetarian Flavor Bible.Last week, I had the opportunity to hear the authors of this book speak at our local public market, and let me tell you, this couple is inspiring! (more…)