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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Corn Casserole Recipe – Better Than Paula Dean

Easy Vegan Corn Casserole Recipe

corn casserole - vegan

Every year for Thanksgiving my aunt makes corn casserole. Since becoming vegan, this was something that I thought I had to give up since it included egg and sour cream. However, this year while shopping at Meijer’s I found out that Jiffy makes a vegetarian boxed corn bread! So, I thought I’d try my hand at making the corn casserole for a Veg-giving party I was hosting. It turned out great, better than my aunt’s and better than Paula Dean’s …. because there’s no eggs or dairy! Cruelty-free and cholesterol free! Take that Paula Dean! (Shown above in my blurry picture with Tofurky roast and vegan green bean casserole.)

And, with only 5 ingredients, it was so easy to make!

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Easy Vegan Corn Casserole. This is how it looks before baking. – Vegan Butter not Pictured.

Ingredients:

1 – 15 1/4 ounce can of whole kernel corn
1 – 14 3/4 ounce can of cream style corn
1 box of Jiffy Vegetarian Corn Muffin Mix
1 cup of vegan sour cream, I like Follow Your Heart’s
1/2 cup of melted vegan butter, melted (not pictured), I like Earth Balance

Directions.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick spray.

Add all ingredients to large bowl and mix to evenly combine. Pour into prepared casserole dish and cook for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown.

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

Vegan Fettuccini Alfredo

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Looking for a great vegan Alfredo sauce? This cashew cream sauce is not only delicious but incredibly easy!

The cream sauce can also be used as a base for cream based soups such as cream of broccoli.

1 cup raw cashews
2 cups water
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 Edward & Sons No-chicken bouillon cube
2 tbsp flour or cornstarch
1.5 cups non-dairy milk
2 tbsp vegan butter

Directions
1. Place first 6 ingredients in blender and blend on high until smooth

2. Melt butter in saucepan over medium high heat. Pour cashew sauce into sauce pan. Add 1.5 cups non-dairy milk to blender. Swish around to get remaining sauce. Add to saucepan.

3. Cook over medium high hear stirring consistently to avoid lumping. Cook until desired consistency.

4. Mix sauce with cooked noodles and add your favorite veggies such as sautéed mushrooms, sliced bell peppers, green peas, spinach, broccoli, or all of he above!

BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich: Not your Grandma’s Pulled Pork!

Are your ready for one of the easiest sandwiches that will both impress vegans and carnivores? Here it is, the BBQ Jackfruit sandwich is the vegan cousin of the pulled pork sandwich, but better.  The part I love most is that it’s only TWO ingredients! Plus, there’s no faux soy meat so it’s also an easy gluten free recipe!

BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich | Easy Vegan Pulled Pork Recipe
BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich | Easy Vegan Pulled Pork Recipe

You can find Jackfruit at most asian groceries. Make sure you get the Young Green Jackfruit in Brine, not in juice!

Easy Vegan Sandwich
It looks so much like bbq pulled pork it’s scary… but delicious!

I ate it on a sandwich with vegenaise and vegan coleslaw. My hubby likes it with vegenaise and pickles. You can also make it into wraps or bbq jackfruit tacos with pinto beans and your favorite toppings!

Whip this easy sandwich recipe it up for your next gathering or picnic!

Ingredients:
1 bottle of your favorite vegan BBQ sauce
2 cans of Young Green Jackfruit in Brine.

Directions:
Drain jackfruit and rinse a few times to remove the brine. Place jackfruit, 1 can at a time, onto a plate lined with a couple paper towels and squeeze out as much water as possible. The more water you remove, the more flavor it can soak up!

Place jackfruit into crockpot (or large pan) and add as much bbq sauce as you’d like! Like it really saucy? Add the whole bottle! Allow it to simmer for a couple of hours. The longer simmer time makes the jackfruit really tender and gives it time to absorb flavors and get rid of the briney taste. Then, shred it with a fork! It’s that easy!

If you’d like to give it a smoky grilled flavor, put it on a pan on the grill for 10-15 minutes!

Vegan Sandwich: Not meaty, meaty grilled portobello sandwich

vegan sandwich ideas, easy vegan sandwich, vegan a-1 sauce, grilled portobello, vegan grilling ideas
Easy Vegan Sandwich: Grilled Portobello Sandwich with A-1 Sauce

Who LOVES portobellos? I DO, I DO! And, who says vegans can’t enjoy A-1 Steak Sauce? Not me! Even though it says “steak” right there in it’s name, it is in fact, vegan! Use it on veggie burgers or this grilled portobello for a meaty taste, that’s tender & juicy, without the meat!

If you’re one of those weird people, like my hubby, who doesn’t like mushrooms, sub 1/4″ slices of extra firm tofu instead – just remember to squeeze out as much water as possible before marinating !

Makes for a wonderfully, delicious easy vegan sandwich! Or, skip the bun and eat it with a fork and “steak” knife! Steak knives are vegan too! 😉

Ingredients:

1/2 A-1 Steak Sauce
1/4 cup vegan worcestershire sauce (Kroger brand is vegan!)
1/8 cup low sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground pepper
4 large portobello mushrooms caps, stems & gills removed (or tofu)

Directions:

In a shallow dish, mix together steak sauce, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic, and ground pepper. Add mushrooms and toss gently to coat both sides. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Or, put it in the fridge if you won’t be using grilling within 30 minutes.

Grill for 5-6 minutes each side or until desired doneness.

Throw it on a bun with your favorite toppings. I like vegenaise, lettuce, tomato, and avocado! YUM!