Vegan Queso Dip + Ode to Gardein

Easy Vegan Queso Dip Recipe


Happy New Year veggies, aspiring veggies, part-time veggies, and new veggies of 2016! I’m hoping that this year, more and more people will make the switch to vegetarian or vegan. 

I was talking to some vegan friends during the Holidays about how much easier it is becoming to be a vegan in this world. There are so many great vegan options, mock meats, and substitutes for pretty much everything…. and it only gets better every year!

One of my favorite mock meat companies is Gardein. They have a ton of great tasting options – everything from beefless tips and veggie crumbles to faux chicken tenders, fishless filets and even holiday roasts.

I use the Beefless Grounds a lot for tacos. They taste delicious right out of the package. Just thaw in a skillet for a few minutes, throw in a tortilla with your favorite toppings, and eat. No need for seasonings… they’re just that good! I also use them for spaghetti and stuffed shells (I’ll post a recipe soon, promise!), and this Vegan Queso Dip. They’re so good that people are surprised when I tell them that they’re vegan!

Companies like Gardein have made it so easy to leave meat off the plate. And, it can be found in most grocery stores such as Kroger, Scotts, Owens, Walmart, Meijer, and even Target! Thank you Gardein. Because I love you so much, I wrote you a little poem….

Ode to Gardein

You’re the chicken in my Cordon Bleu,
the Beefless Tips in my Mexican Stew.
The burger when I want to grill,
the protein in my meatless meal.

Vegan meatballs, crumbles, and barbecue wings,
no need to eat animals when you’ve got these things.
Plus they’re good and cruelty-free
the way a meal ought to be.

So thank you Gardein for such great food
and being easy to find in my neighborhood!

Now, back to the regularly scheduled recipe….

I’ve came up with this recipe a few years ago and tacked it on as a variation to my Vegan Macaroni and Cheese recipe. However, it’s been getting so much love that I thought it deserved it’s own page.

I make this for family potlucks and my Mexican non-veg family scarfs it down… sometimes while we’re waiting for the rest of the meal to be made. I made this for some non-veg friends one night and it received rave reviews. One even said “this is better than Velveeta!” Although, for me, it’s not hard to think something’s better than Velveeta, I took it as a great complement! Especially since I used to make queso dip using Velveeta cheese. My neighbor loved it so much that she made it for a work carry-in. She sent me a text that day and said that her co-workers were loving the dip!. I took this queso dip to a New Year’s Eve party and walked into the kitchen to a non-veg chowing down on the dip and telling someone that “this dip is amazing!”

So, I may be biased… but I think this is definitely the best vegan queso recipe. Other recipes out there use diaya cheese and way too much nutritional yeast –  I’m really not a fan of either. Mine uses cashews and just a small amount of nutritional yeast for the cheese sauce, the same sauce I use to make my vegan macaroni & cheese.

This dip can be made and eaten the next day. It keeps really good for 3-4 days in the fridge. And, it can be put in a crockpot to take to a potluck. Just be sure to keep it on the lowest setting to avoid scorching it to the bottom or turning it into lava!

Ingredients:

1 batch of vegan cheese sauce
1/2 pound vegan veggie crumbles or 1/2 package of Gardein’s Beefless Crumbles
1/2 package of taco seasoning. I use Ortega Taco Seasoning Mix
1/2 cup water
1 jar of your favorite salsa. I like On the Border Mild Salsa

Directions:

In sauce pan, make cheese sauce according to directions.

In separate sauce pan, combine water and taco seasoning. Add veggie crumbles and cook on medium-high until most of liquid is absorbed. Once cheese sauce is thickened, add taco “meat” and salsa to cheese sauce and stir to combine. Heat and eat with chips! Great on nachos too!

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Easy Taco Soup

Vegan Taco Soup

vegan taco soup recipe vegan soup recipe

Wow! It’s been awhile since I’ve posted any recipes. I guess I’ve been a little busy and lately I’ve had a couple of companies over doing some home improvements and remodeling. With my hectic life, and working on a new weight loss program, I’ve really not had a lot of time to cook. However, tomorrow I invited some family over for lunch so was trying to decide what to make that was fast, easy, and something that everyone would enjoy, including my grandma who normally won’t try my vegan food. I remembered a couple of years ago I made some taco soup to take over to my grandma’s so my husband and I would have something to eat while the rest of the family ate Caldo (beef stew) (see my version of vegan caldo). I put some leftovers in a Tupperware and left it so my grandma would have something to feed my grandpa the next day and wouldn’t have to cook.

My mom emailed me this the following day:

Grandma just called all excited about your delicious taco soup. That’s what they had for lunch and had just a small bit left over. She said she was giving Grandpa chili for supper and she was finishing the rest of the soup. Asked me if I got any or tasted it. Wants the recipe—said it was delicious and filling. She called specifically to tell me that and ask for the recipe. Told her you would be glad to hear that.

Win! So here it is, the easy, delicious, grandma approved vegan taco soup:

1/2 (48 oz) jar great northern beans- drained
1 can fiesta corn or mexican corn (any corn with peppers) – do not drain
3 cups water
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes – do not drain
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans – drained
1 envelope taco seasoning mix – I like Ortega
1/4 cup quinoa or 1/2 cup of rice (Spanish rice would be really good in this soup!)

optional add-ins:
diced onions
zucchini
veggie burger crumbles

Mix all ingredients together and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until quinoa or rice is done and zucchini (if using) is soft. You can also throw it in the crockpot on low in the morning and come home to some warm, tasty soup!

Vegan Conchitas or Mexican Small Shells Recipe

Conchitas: Easy Vegan Mexican Recipe
Conchitas: Easy Vegan Mexican Recipe

Although you can’t tell by looking at me, I am Mexican. And, since I LOVE Mexican food so much I’m going to post another vegan Mexican food recipe! This one is an old family favorite. Maybe I should change the name of the blog to Easy Not Queso-y!

Before my grandma stopped cooking she used to make Conchitas all the time for almost every family gathering! Conchitas mean “small shells” in Spanish and it’s very similar to the Spanish rice recipe but it uses shells instead of rice! It’s such a simple recipe with only a few ingredients and ooooh so good!

Make it a meal by adding diced carrots, peas, and vegan crumbles. Add extra broth and tomato sauce to turn it into a soup or eat it as a side dish.

Ingredients:

No-Stick Cooking Spray
1/4 small sweet onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 box small or medium shell pasta
3 cups Water
1 can 8 oz tomato sauce
1 cube Vegan Bouillon Cube Vegetable or Chicken Flavored. I preferEdwards & Sons Not-Chik’n Bouillon (find it at Krogers, specialty stores, or order on their web site.)
Salt & Pepper to taste

 

Directions:

1. Generously spray large, high-sided pan with non-stick spray. Add 1/2 box of uncooked shell pasta to pan and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until browned making sure not to burn the pasta.

2. The last few minutes of cooking the pasta, add diced onion and minced garlic and saute for 5 minutes over medium heat or until onion becomes translucent making sure not to brown or burn them or the pasta by stirring continuously and adding extra spray if needed.

3. Add the water, tomato sauce, and bouillon cube. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer until pasta reaches desired consistency. You can add more water, 1 cup at a time, if needed. I like my pasta with little sauce so I cook mine down more. My family likes to have extra sauce on theirs so they cook it less. Your choice!

4. Salt & pepper to taste

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Vegan Enchiladas!

easy vegan black bean enchiladas with quinoa

Not that I need an excuse to enjoy Mexican food but it helps me explain to my husband why we’re having Mexican AGAIN! I really could eat it every day! My hubby on the other hand doesn’t really like it (blasphemy!)… I guess he should have thought about that BEFORE he married into a Mexican family!

And, who says vegans can’t eat great Mexican food! You won’t miss the meat or cheese in these black bean quinoa enchiladas!

Black Bean Quinoa Enchiladas

Non-stick cooking spray
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1/2 tomato, chopped
1 16-ounce can black beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup prepared quinoa
10 6″-8″ corn tortillas
Prepared enchilada sauce (recipe below)

Optional add-ins: zucchini, sliced portobello mushrooms, corn, shredded kale or spinach. Like it spicer? Add red pepper flakes or a pinch of cayenne!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare enchilada sauce (recipe below) or use your favorite vegetarian enchilada sauce.

Spray medium pan with non-stick cooking spray. Add garlic and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Saute on low for about 5 minutes. Add sliced red pepper and diced tomatoes and saute until desired doneness (is that a word?) – about 5-8 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Microwave tortillas for a few seconds to make them more flexible so they don’t tear. If you don’t  mind the mess, first dip the tortilla into the warm sauce. Lay on flat surface and add about 2 tablespoons of filling onto center of tortilla. Roll it up and place in large casserole dish.

Continue with the remaining filling and tortillas. Pour desired amount of sauce over top of enchiladas. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve with guacamole, salsa, & vegan sour cream.

Vegan Enchilada Sauce

1/2 c flour
1/4 c. oil
1/8 c. chili powder
1/2 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. minced garlic
4 c. vegetable stock or broth ( I use Edwards & Sons No-Chick’n Bouillon Cubes)
Salt to taste (no salt if using No-Chick’n Bouillon… trust me!)

Saute first 5 ingredients over medium heat for 5 min. Add vegetable stock or broth and simmer on med-low heat for 15-20 mins.

You can store this for a week. (it will thicken when chilled)
If you do not use right away, you can reheat before adding to enchiladas.

Vegan Caldo Recipe – a.k.a “Beef” Soup

vegan caldo recipe | easy vegan recipes

Growing up in a Hispanic family, Sundays and family gatherings meant Caldo. Caldo is a traditional Mexican beef and vegetable soup using beef shank and large cuts of veggies.

This vegan version is just as hearty but more nutritious! Feel free to skip the “beef”. I used it in the soup I made last night but normally don’t include it…. it really doesn’t need it! I’ve also added a few less traditional veggies and barley to mine but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. My husband likes his with only corn, potatoes, tomato, and green beans (the staples – don’t skip those! If you don’t like tomatoes add an 8 oz can of tomato juice instead). I try to add as many vegetables as possible into mine though! Also, the amounts are just guides, use more or less of what you like.

This really is an easy recipe… add broth to a pot, throw in veggies, cook, eat, enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 package Gardein Beefless Tips (optional)
1/3 cup non-dairy milk (only if using beefless tips)
1/3 cup flour(only if using beefless tips)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup minced onion
6 cups vegan not-beef broth (I like Edwards & Sons)
1 large tomato, diced (or 1- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes or 8oz tomato juice)
5 carrots, cut into chunks
3 potatoes, cut into chunks
1 cup green beans, halved
1 turnip, diced
2 kale leaves, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 head cabbage, sliced
1/2 cup barley
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
In a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the 1/4 cup of water and diced onion. Saute onion until translucent. Add the Add the broth, carrots, potatoes, corn, and green beans. Simmer until vegetables are tender. About 10 minutes. Add remaining vegetables and barley and simmer an additional 10-15 minutes until vegetables are cooked to your liking. Salt & pepper to taste.

Gardein Beefless Tips | Vegan Beef Tips

For the “beef”. Add non-dairy milk to a bowl and the flour to a separate bowl. Dip the beefless tips into the milk then coat in flour. Saute in frying pan sprayed with a non-stick spray over medium-high heat and cook until flour is no longer white and the tips are warmed – about 5-8 minutes. Add to soup with the second batch of vegetables and barley.

Eat it with some warm corn tortillas and avocado!

Black Bean Bowls with Mexican Rice & Creamy Taco Dressing

Vegan Black Bean Bowl | Mexican Rice | Creamy Taco Dressing

Vegan Black Bean bowls, my latest obsession! I will admit that I had this 4 times in the past week! I love mexican food and this is easy, fast and yummy! Throw whatever you have on hand in the bowl. I use black beans, corn, diced red peppers, diced tomatoes, shredded romaine lettuce, avocado, baked tortilla strips and mexican rice (recipe below). I then top it off with a creamy vegan taco dressing (recipe below)! You could also add veggie burger crumbles! You can serve it hot or cold or layer it in a pan to take along to a potluck!

Mexican / Spanish Rice:

Vegan Spanish Rice | Vegan Mexican Rice Recipe

1c brown rice or quinoa
1/2 med size sweet onion, diced
2 clove garlic, minced
3c water or veg no-chick’n broth
1/2 of 6 oz. can tomato paste

Spray sauce pan with non-stick cooking spray, add garlic and onion and saute on low until translucent, being careful not to let it brown.  Add brown rice or quinoa and cook about 5 minutes or until it becomes a golden brown color. Mix in 3c water and 3 oz. tomato paste. Stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to low and cover. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until water is dissolved and rice is tender. Fluff with a fork.

Add-ins:
Diced bell pepper
Diced tomatoes
Cubed avocado

Creamy Taco Dressing:

1 cup veganaise or other veg mayonnaise
1/4 cup soy or rice milk
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp packaged taco seasoning (or more to taste)

Blend all ingredients with mixer until smooth and creamy and chill for at least 1/2 an hour.
Dressing will thicken and as it cools.

Vegan Black Bean Sliders

I wanted mexican, my husband wanted burgers. We met in the middle with these tasty little black bean sliders. While scouring the web, my husband came across this recipe for mini vegan black bean burgers. These were mighty fine burgers and one of the best black bean burger recipes I’ve had yet. I loved the addition of walnuts, and lentils for added protein. You could also substitute rice for the lentils… or better yet, to make it even more bueno, use spanish rice!

This was a super easy recipe to make. I cooked the lentils then threw them, along with the rest of the ingredients into the food processor. Once processed, I made them into patties and cooked them on the griddle…. EASY!

vegan black bean burger sliders | easy vegan recipes

Most bean burgers I’ve had are usually a bit mushy on the inside, but making them smaller helped with this! I topped mine with guacamole, lettuce & tomato. The hubs topped his with lettuce, veganaise & veggie bacon. Mine of course were better than his…. he didn’t agree!

Get the recipe here: http://www.veganhappyhour.com/?p=142

vegan black bean burger sliders | easy vegan recipes