Tag Archives: cheese

Microwave Twice-Baked Potatoes

13 Oct

The potato, derived from the Spanish word patata, is said to have originated in Bolivia and present-day Peru, and is the world’s fourth-largest food crop (source). A good source of Manganese, Potassium, and Vitamins B6 and C (source), baked potatoes have the potential to lower blood pressure, build cells, assist with and protect the nervous and cardiovascular systems, and even help improve athletic performance (source).

Twice-baked potatoes get their name from, you guessed it, being baked twice. Whether using the microwave or conventional oven, raw potatoes are first baked thoroughly in order to scoop out the inner flesh, mix it with various ingredients and then place the mixture back into the potato shells, baking a second time until the entire mixture is heated through. The result is a handy bowl-like potato that can simply be picked up and eaten without silverware.

Twice-Baked Potato

Microwave Twice-Baked Potatoes

2 large russet potatoes
1/2 cup regular unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese
1/4 cup vegan sour cream
2 tablespoons vegan butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh cracked black pepper to taste
ground paprika
chopped fresh chives

Scrub potatoes and pierce each with a fork 6-8 times.

Place potatoes on a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for 10 minutes, or until tender.

Remove from microwave and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.

Cut each potato in half and scoop out flesh, leaving a shell that is approximately 1/4-inch thick.

Place flesh of potatoes in a large bowl with deep sides along with almond milk, cheese, sour cream, butter, salt and pepper, and blend with a hand mixer until smooth.

Spoon blended mixture into potato shells, and place in microwave, cooking an additional 60-90 seconds on high, or until heated through.

Sprinkle with paprika and chives and serve.

Tofu and Sausage Sauté

2 Feb

I love weekends. Why? Because I have time to cook and savor a sizeable breakfast. And if you don’t know by now, I love my breakfast!

A little note: anytime I mention sausage, cheese, or any other typically animal-based product, I am referring to the vegan version.

Tofu and Sausage Sauté is one of the most popular recipes of mine. My family, herbivores and omnivores alike, always devour it. This protein-packed dish is chock full of tofu, “sausage”, greens and “cheese”, most of which are excellent sources of protein; topped with a delicious, savory sauce. Tofu and Sausage Sauté is perfect for anyone, especially those who live an active lifestyle. Following is the estimated amount of protein this dish provides:

  • Tofu: fried tofu provides over 67 grams of protein per 14-ounce serving (source)
  • Vegan Sausage: seitan-based sausage contains approximately 26 grams of protein per 4-ounce serving (source)
  • Spinach or Kale: raw spinach has 1.35 grams of protein per 1½ cup serving (source) and raw kale has 3.3 grams of protein per 1½ cup serving (source)
  • Vegan Cheese: vegan cheese typically contains approximately 1 gram of protein per ¼ cup serving (source, source and source)

Tofu & Sausage Sauté

Tofu and Sausage Sauté

1 (14-ounce) package extra firm tofu, drained
2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
½ cup crumbled or diced vegan sausage
2 tablespoons diced white onion
1½ cups chopped fresh spinach or kale
¼ cup shredded or diced vegan cheese (I prefer mozzarella or monterey jack)

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
½ teaspoon garlic powder

Press tofu by wrapping in cloth or paper towels and weighing down with a couple of plates for 20-30 minutes. After this time, cut tofu into ½-inch cubes and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare sauce by combining soy sauce, mustard, dill weed and garlic powder in a small glass and mixing until combined. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook until light brown on all sides, turning occasionally. Add sausage and onion to the pan and cook, stirring often until onion is translucent and sausage begins to brown, approximately 5-10 minutes. Add spinach or kale and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes, or just until tender. Remove from heat and add the sauce, stirring to coat. Finish by sprinkling cheese over top and mixing in if desired.

Breakfast Bake Extravaganza

12 Nov

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This is because it gets your metabolism going and provides that bit of energy to help kickstart your day.

Now I don’t know about you but I absolutely love breakfast. If I could have a buffet filled with vegan scrambles, cheese, bacon and sausage, hash browns, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, pancakes, french toast, hell, everything, I would be a happy camper. But alas, having all that can be expensive and time-consuming to make. SO, why not create something that encompasses many of the above? I present to you my Breakfast Bake Extravaganza. This recipe is easily adaptable if you prefer broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini or any other vegetable of your choosing. You could also add some tofaken. Yum!

Breakfast Bake Extravaganza with green onion, mushrooms, spinach, tater tots and vegan Canadian bacon and cheese

Breakfast Bake Extravaganza

2 (14-ounce) packages firm tofu
½ (8-ounce) package fresh or frozen chopped spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ (8-ounce) package white button mushrooms, chopped
2 stalks green onion, green parts chopped
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 teaspoons nutritional yeast
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon turmeric
2 cups frozen tater tots
½ (8-ounce) package vegan shredded cheddar cheese
½ (6-ounce) package vegan Canadian bacon, chopped

Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease 9″ x 9″ glass baking pan; set aside.

Drain the tofu and wrap in a clean, dry towel. Place a heavy item over it and allow to sit for 30 minutes.

If using fresh spinach, bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add spinach, stirring often, and boil for 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Drain and rinse spinach until water runs dry, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Chop and set aside. If using frozen spinach, thaw, rinse until water is clear, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in frying pan over medium heat until hot. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until tender, approximately 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a food processor combine pressed tofu, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, onion powder, salt, pepper and turmeric. Process until combined. Pour out into a large mixing bowl and add mushrooms and spinach, green onion, tater tots, cheese and Canadian bacon. Stir until combined.

Pour mixture into prepared baking pan and spread evenly using the back of a spoon. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Breakfast Bake Extravaganza

Cheesy Pesto Pizza Bites

8 Jun

Galaxy Nutritional FoodsGalaxy Nutritional Foods is at it again! Having introduced their fabulous cream cheese in 2011, they’re showing no signs of slowing down with their latest debut, their Vegan Shreds, available in Mexican and Mozzarella styles. Perfect for those avoiding gluten and soy, these “cheeses” are not only free from gluten and soy, but also hydrogenated oils, saturated fats, trans fats, preservatives and GMO ingredients.

Upon first trying these new “cheese” shreds, I noticed a slightly buttery, but mostly smokey flavor. If you like smoked cheeses, I would think you will enjoy these, and they are nice in a variety of dishes. Galaxy’s shreds are great on veggie burgers and melt wonderfully (just as advertised) when baked. The cheese even stretches nicely! Furthermore, ¼ cup of these babies provides 25% of your daily calcium intake! Who says vegans don’t get enough calcium? Pssshhh!

Following is a recipe I created that utilizes Galaxy’s Vegan Shreds:

Cheesy Pesto Pizza Bites

Cheesy Pesto Pizza Bites
Yields approximately 20 pieces

1 french baguette (approximately 2-3 inches in diameter and 20 inches long)
½ cup prepared vegan pesto (recipe below)
1 cup tomato sauce
1-1¼ cups non-dairy shredded mozzarella cheese (I used Galaxy Nutritional Foods’ Vegan Shreds)

Vegan Pesto:
4 ounces fresh basil leaves
¼ cup pine nuts
2 medium cloves garlic
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Process basil, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add olive oil and and salt, and continue processing another 10-15 seconds, or until oil is incorporated.

Next, preheat oven to broil and prepare a baking sheet by either lightly greasing with oil or lining with aluminum foil. Set aside.

Meanwhile, slice baguette into 1-inch slices. Place in a single layer on prepared baking sheet and spread approximately ½-1 teaspoon pesto on each slice. Next, top each with approximately 1-2 teaspoons tomato sauce, then sprinkle with cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 5-10 minutes or until cheese has melted. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before consuming.

NOTE: The Vegan Shreds used in this recipe was a free sample provided by Galaxy Nutritional Foods, Inc. The views and opinions expressed herein are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect that of others.

Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole with Chickpeas

3 Mar

Brown rice is a healthy grain to consume as it provides vitamins and minerals not prevalent in white rice. When compared, 1 cup of brown rice provides more than double the omega-6 fatty acids, fiber, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and selenium than that of white rice (source and source). This is mostly due to the fact that brown rice still contains its bran and germ layers, which are rich in nutrients. With white rice, these layers are removed. Brown rice also provides energy, antioxidants, lowers cholesterol, and reduces your risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Read more about the various health benefits of brown rice here.

Soaking rice before cooking not only provides a fluffy final product, but also renders the rice more digestible and shortens cooking time. This can be convenient for those with busy lives due to the fact that the rice can soak while you’re out taking care of your daily duties, then, when you get home, you can proceed with cooking. For this recipe, however, should you find that you are super short on time, instant rice can be easily substituted. Simply prepare according to package directions and substitute vegetable broth for water.

Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole with Chickpeas

Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole with Chickpeas

1½ cups uncooked long grain brown rice
3 cups warm water
1 quart vegetable broth (divided into 3 cups and 1 cup)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup chopped white onion
3 cups chopped fresh broccoli
¼ cup water
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (8-ounce) container chive and garlic imitation cream cheese (I use Galaxy Nutritional Foods)
1 cup vegan shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for the top
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Soak rice in 3 cups warm water for 6-8 hours. Drain, rinse and place rice in a medium-size pot. Add 3 cups vegetable broth, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Keep covered, remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350º F. Lightly grease a 9” x 13” casserole dish and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large, wide pot with lid, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and broccoli and stir for 1 minute. Add ¼ cup water, cover and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes or until broccoli and onion are tender. Do not remove the lid during this time as it will allow steam to escape. Remove pot from heat and add remaining ingredients, including cooked rice and remaining 1 cup vegetable broth, stirring to combine.

Spread mixture into prepared dish and sprinkle with extra vegan shredded cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

NOTE: The cream cheese used in this recipe was a free sample provided by Galaxy Nutritional Foods, Inc. The views and opinions expressed herein are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect that of others.

Award-Winning “Cheese” and “Sausage” Ravioli

25 Jul

Ahhhhh ravioli, how I missed you! Up until recently, I hadn’t had ravioli since before I went vegan for a New Year’s resolution in 2009. This seems to be the case with most other vegans as well, simply because there is a lack of vegan ravioli on the market. Though making ravioli can be a rather time-consuming task, it is rewarding to devour afterwords and makes you appreciate this bite-sized pasta even more!

So without further adieu, here is the recipe for my award-winning ravioli which was made for the Chicago Vegan Chef Showdown.

Ravioli | White Wine & Mushroom Sauce | Marinara Sauce


Ravioli“Cheese” and “Sausage” Ravioli
Yields approximately 156 (1¾ inch) ravioli

2 cups semolina flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ cups water

1½ cups roasted, unsalted cashews, soaked in water overnight then drained
1 large clove garlic
½ rounded teaspoon salt
½ – ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
1 (8 ounce) package Upton’s Naturals Italian-style seitan

Begin with the pasta by combining the semolina flour, white flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add water, mixing until dough forms into a ball. Knead until dough becomes firm and smooth, approximately 5 minutes. Form into 2 inch round balls and place on a clean work surface underneath an overturned bowl for 30-45 minutes, allowing dough to rest.

Meanwhile, for the filling, combine the soaked cashews, garlic and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Slowly add almond milk, ¼ cup at a time, until mixture comes together. Continue to process for 1-2 minutes or until mixture is smooth. Add seitan and process an additional 30-60 seconds, or until incorporated.

Once dough has finished resting, check to see if it is sticky. If so, coat each ball with all-purpose flour and knead until incorporated and smooth. Repeat if necessary. Using a pasta roller or a clean, lightly floured work surface, roll out a dough ball until 1/8 inch thick. Using a shot glass or something similar in size, cut as many 1¾ inch circles as possible. Using half of the circles, place approximately 1 teaspoon of filling onto the center of each. Using water, moisten the outer edges of each remaining circle, then place on top of the circles that have filling. Seal each ravioli by pressing firmly around the edges. Place finished ravioli in a single layer on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Continue with remainder of dough until all has been used.

If consuming immediately: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add half of the ravioli and stir. Allow to boil for 2-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until all ravioli float to the top and become slightly enlarged. Drain and repeat with remainder of ravioli. Combine with your favorite pasta sauce immediately.

If consuming at a later date: Freeze ravioli in a single layer on the cookie sheet. Once frozen, place ravioli into a sealed container and store in the freezer until ready for use.


"Cheese" & "Sausage" Ravioli with Creamy White Wine & Mushroom SauceCreamy White Wine and Mushroom Sauce
Yields approximately 3 cups

3 tablespoons vegan buttery spread
1 cup chopped baby bella mushrooms
1/3 cup diced shallots
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-2/3 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup sauvignon blanc wine
¼ teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and shallots, cooking and stirring for approximately 1 minute. Add wine and continue cooking and stirring until mushrooms are tender and onion is translucent. Whisk in flour (mixture will be somewhat dry) and then add almond milk, whisking until smooth. Add salt and black pepper and continue to stir until thickened, approximately 1-3 minutes.


"Cheese" & "Sausage" Ravioli with Marinara SauceMarinara Sauce*
Yields approximately 5 cups

2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
¼ cup chopped fresh parsely
1 clove garlic, minced
6 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup diced white onion
½ cup syrah wine
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
pinch sugar

Combine stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley and garlic in a food processor, processing until smooth, approximately 1 minute. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add onion, cooking until translucent, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add tomato mixture to saucepan along with wine, oregano, salt, pepper and sugar, cooking and stirring until heated through, approximately 5 minutes.

*Adapted from AllRecipes.com

Creamy Macaroni & “Cheese”

30 May

One of my all-time favorite foods is Macaroni & Cheese. I remember eating it often as a child and savoring every single bite of it. Whether it was homemade or from a box, I had certain expectations when consuming this dish. It had to be both cheesy and creamy, and of course with just enough salt. With the creaminess of the pasta and the crunchiness of the topping, this recipe passes my test. If you’re feeling daring, try it with Herbs & Chives cream cheese. Yum!

Creamy Macaroni & "Cheese"

Creamy Macaroni & “Cheese”

16 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked
3 tablespoons vegan buttery spread
1 cup white onion, chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces imitation cream cheese, softened
2½ cups unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1½ teaspoons salt (add more to taste)
½ teaspoon paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch black pepper
3 cups shredded vegan cheddar cheese (I use Daiya)

¼ cup vegan buttery spread
1 cup panko
1 teaspoon dried dill
¾ teaspoon dried thyme

Prepare pasta according to manufacturer’s directions. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350º F. Lightly grease a 9” x 13” glass baking dish and set aside.

Begin by melting 3 tablespoons vegan buttery spread in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Reduce heat to low and add cream cheese, almond milk, nutritional yeast, salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper and cheddar cheese, stirring frequently until mixture is thoroughly combined and cheeses are melted. Remove from heat and add cooked pasta, stirring until pasta is evenly coated. Pour into prepared baking dish and set aside.

For the topping, melt the vegan buttery spread over medium heat. Add panko, dill and thyme, stirring until combined, about 1 minute. Turn off heat and pour topping evenly over pasta mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for 15-30 minutes, or until mixture is bubbly and topping is light golden brown.


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