Food For Lovers Queso & Teese Nacho Cheese Sauce

I’ve been neglecting my blog again, but not out of choice. The problem is my photos. I have plenty of windows in my house, but absolutely no place where I can get decent lighting for photos. I don’t get any direct sun on the house except for in the afternoon and early evening, and that light falls on the back of the house where we have two windows: one little one over the sink in the kitchen and another one in my yoga room. Neither of these give enough light for photos. Even when it seems bright and light in my house my photos look blurry and dark and just awful. I’ve taken a bunch of photos of food in the last couple of weeks only to find that they are completely unusable. So frustrating. If anyone has any tips or ideas for me, please, let me know!

Ok, so I ordered a bunch of “cheese” products from Vegan Essentials. Among them were Food for Lovers Queso, Nacho Mom’s Queso, Teese Cheddar Sauce, and Teese Nacho Sauce. Thus far I’ve tried Food for Lovers Queso and Teese Nacho Sauce.

Food For Lovers Vegan Queso

I have to admit, I did not like this as a dip very much. I didn’t heat it up, though, so maybe I should have? I just opened the jar and started dipping.  I didn’t know what to do with this whole jar of queso and I didn’t want to just throw it away, so I decided to make some enchiladas. I had flour tortillas on hand (I usually use corn tortillas for enchiladas), so I set out making some enchiladas. The filling was homemade refried beans into which I mixed diced, caramelized red onions, diced sauteed green bell pepper, and spices. I poured queso on the bottom of the pan and then again on top of the enchiladas. The whole process start to finish took about 20 minutes.

They were DELICIOUS! This queso may not have been my cup o’ tea as far as just something to dip chips into, but as a cheese sauce on these enchiladas…oh man!! Cheesy and satisfying. Here are my horrible pictures:

Teese Nacho Cheese Sauce

What better to do with nacho cheese sauce than make nachos? Tortilla chips covered in spicy refried beans, Teese Nacho Cheese, guacamole, Tofutti sour cream (I’m not a huge fan of this stuff, but I wanted something cooling on these), Sriracha hot sauce, and tomatoes. I’m not sure what I thought of this stuff. Unremarkable? It was pretty good on nachos, but in general I’m not a fan of vegan cheeses. My PMS led me to this massive cheese order from Vegan Essentials and I haven’t been exactly looking forward to trying them. I prefer my nachos piled high with beans, red onions, tomatoes, pico de gallo, salsa, guac, sour cream (vegan version, of course), and some shredded raw spinach and maybe some sweet corn. These nachos were kind of basic. Even when I was a vegetarian I wasn’t a huge fan of cheese, so bear that in mind reading my reviews of vegan cheese stuff.

It did get melty and saucy like… a sauce. It didn’t have an overtly “oh, yeah, this is vegan chemicals that so badly want to be cheese” taste that I find a lot of these products have. In general, I would definitely recommend it, especially if you are someone who enjoys cheesy stuff.

And that’s all I’ve got. Seriously, though, anyone with tips about taking photos without a lot of natural light, speak up!

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The Real Alfredo by Lachesis

This recipe has been floating around the web since I first posted it in 2008 (I’m amazed to see how many blogs it has ended up on and how many people have made it!), so I figured I should put my recipe up on my own blog, at least. The picture I took of this recipe is lost in the ether of cyberspace. I posted this first on the PPK as food porn, but when the new boards were put up last fall everything on the old boards was lost. Unfortunately I didn’t have the picture on my hard drive anymore. I’ll make this again soon and add a picture in.

I originally made this recipe as a sort of Alfredo Stroganoff. The sauce is the real star here, though. The Alfredo Stroganoff is incredible (and I’m pretty humble about my ability to cook and my recipes, but this one is GOOD), but the point of this post is the SAUCE. I call this the real Alfredo because it really is just like the real thing. I know, I know, you’ve heard it before. Please just trust me. I’ve “fooled” a few omnis with it. This sauce is not health food, but Alfredo has never been health food. It’s pure indulgence.

Ok, so I’m going to post just the sauce recipe and then I’ll post the whole Alfredo Stroganoff recipe. The Alfredo sauce recipe will be here twice, but it’s just more convenient not to have to cull the sauce instructions out of the Stroganoff recipe if all you want to do is make the Alfredo sauce. Now, I have never had an actual stroganoff dish, so the name may not be completely appropriate, but it’s what I imagine a stroganoff to be. The Alfredo sauce, on the other, is pretty damn authentic…and not just “that’s really impressive for a vegan Alfredo.” No “for a vegan [insert whatever]” caveats needed. I hope you like the recipes!

The Real Alfredo Sauce by Lachesis
½ cup Earth Balance
2 cups unsweetened soymilk
1 package extra firm tofu (Mori-nu, in the tetra pack, appr 12 oz)
1-2 tbsp white cooking wine
2 tbsp onion powder
2-3 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp sea salt
1-2 tsp black pepper (to taste)
pinch of nutmeg
2-4 tbsp arrowroot powder (more or less, as needed.. it should be creamy and the Earth
Balance should not separate)

Combine all of the ingredients except the arrowroot powder into a food processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Put the mixture into a pot on medium-low heat. In another container mix the arrowroot powder in a little of the sauce mixture. When the sauce in the pot is nice and hot, whisk in the arrowroot mixture. You can turn up the heat a little, but don’t let it boil. When it thickens and just starts to bubble it is done.

Alfredo Stroganoff
First marinate the mushrooms. They soak up the flavor pretty fast, so you don’t have to marinate them for too long if you don’t want to.

Mushroom Marinade Ingredients
1/3 cup vegan Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp Tamari sauce (or soy sauce)
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup water

Mix and let baby bellas or creminis marinate while you make the Alfredo sauce.

The Real Alfredo Sauce by Lachesis
½ cup Earth Balance
2 cups unsweetened soymilk
1 package extra firm tofu (Mori-nu, in the tetra pack, appr 12 oz)
1-2 tbsp white cooking wine
2 tbsp onion powder
2-3 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp sea salt
1-2 tsp black pepper (to taste)
pinch of nutmeg
2-4 tbsp arrowroot powder (more or less, as needed.. it should be creamy and the Earth
Balance should not separate)

Other Ingredients
Pasta: preferably Fettuccine or spaghetti
1 cup frozen peas (use more or less as you prefer)
Baby bella or cremini mushrooms, use as many or as few as you like

Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce except the arrowroot powder into a food processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Put the mixture into a pot on medium-low heat. While this is cooking get your pot of water started on the stove for your pasta.

Get the peas ready to be heated up (microwave or stove…whatever. You want to coordinate this all to be ready at the same time. You could also just toss them in with the pasta water at the end of cooking if you like.)

While your sauce is heating up on low-med heat, preheat a skillet. When it is warm, dump the marinade and the mushrooms into the skillet.

In another container mix the arrowroot powder into a little of the sauce mixture. When the sauce in the pot is nice and hot, whisk in the arrowroot mixture. You can turn up the heat a little, but don’t let it boil. When it thickens and just starts to bubble it is done.
Put the pasta on a plate, cover with sauce, add peas and mushrooms.

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Popcorn Chick’n (Popcorn Chickpea Cutlets)

I’ve been pretty much obsessed with the chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon.  I think I’ve made them about four times in the last week or so alone.  All that frying…holy cow. Yeah, I could’ve baked them or even baked them and then given them a quick, light-on-the-oil pan fry, but I just keep on frying them for some reason.  In general, I’m a very healthy eater, although you definitely can’t tell that from the foods I post here.  I think I just like photographing the less healthy stuff more.  I think my morning oatmeal with protein powder would be less than interesting in a food blog, unless it’s super amazing oatmeal (it often is, actually) that is unique and worth posting.  Anyway, chickpea cutlets.  I was thinking about popcorn chicken yesterday.  I very rarely ate meat in my pre-vegan life, but I did have chicken sometimes (had to be the breast and it had to be overcooked and dry–I’m much better suited to a vegan life!), especially the fried versions, and even more especially: popcorn chicken.  I loved the little bite-sized, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, pieces of fried goodness.  It occurred to me that I should fry up some chickpea cutlets in popcorn form and today I did.  They were amazing!

I don’t use fresh garlic, as the recipe calls for.  The bits of garlic just fall out when you knead the dough and garlic powder, while sort of sacrilegious to some, is just so much more convenient here.  Instead of lemon zest (because I don’t usually have lemons lying around and I’m not making the trip to the store just to buy a lemon to make these when the recipe really doesn’t need it) I used a bit of lemon juice (yep, from the trusty ol’ lemon juice bottle in the fridge).

Sorry about the picture.  I would have presented it more nicely, but they were fresh out of the pan and draining on some paper towels and I found myself eating them as soon as they came out of the oil….so they never even made it to an actual plate.  I swear, I don’t eat fried stuff all the time.  Stupid PMS.

Popcorn Chickpea Cutlets

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The Bombing of the Cookbook Challenge, et al.

Well, clearly I bombed the cookbook challenge.  I just started graduate school and cooking because I “had to” started to become a heavy weight on my chest, so I just stopped.  I haven’t updated the blog because I figured I would just delete it.  I didn’t end up deleting it, so I should probably post in it, eh?

Vegan Loot!! And this, my friends, is why you should never go shopping with an empty stomach. I went to Whole Foods to see if I could find FYH cream cheese, but instead I got Lara Bars, Luna Bars, Tings, Vegan American cheese slices (I need grilled cheese), Vanilla Soy Dream (which I needed…I was out…so, legitimate), espresso clusters (I don’t know why since I do NOT consume caffeine…I was senselessly hungry…figured I’d have one and give the rest away), chocolate soy pudding, bakery chocolate chip cookies, bakery berry muffin, Wayfare Cheddar Spread (this stuff is AMAZING! Try it!), Wayfare Mexican cheese dip (haven’t tried this one yet), and Tofurky kielbasa. SO much vegan goodness.  I guess I’ll have to try Trader Joes for FYH cream cheese, although I don’t hold out high hopes because the Trader Joes near me stinks.  I haven’t tried the FYH yet and I’m interested to see how it compares to Tofutti.  I like Tofutti cream cheese ok, but I’m not blown away by it.  It’s adequate on a buttered (Earth Balance, not butter!) and broiled bagel, but really, once you butter up a bagel and stick it under the broiler, it’s difficult to ruin.

About Wayfare products.  They sent me a few coupons for free tubs, so I marched right out to get some.  I started with the Cheddar and ate it all in one sitting.  Not ashamed.  It was *that* good.  Since then I’ve been on a Wayfare roll.  If you have not tried their products, I highly recommend them.  They don’t have that chemical taste that so many of the vegan “wannabe” products have, like cream cheeses and such.  The cheddar, for example, is very much cheddar-like, but it doesn’t try to pretend to be dairy cheese.  But oh my, it is so very good.

So, while I haven’t been cookbook challenge cooking, I have been cooking.  I haven’t been taking a lot of pictures, though.  I made the following for the cookbook challenge, but I was ahead of myself.  These are for week 11, which is still some time away. At any rate, I offer up this:

East Coast Coffee Cake (Vegan Brunch)

This coffee cake was tasty, but it lacked a certain something.  I’m thinking the actual cake could have used some cinnamon.  The topping called for cinnamon, but the cake itself didn’t and it was a little bland.  It needed some extra flavors to play around on the palate.  Still, though, very good, and a nice go-to recipe for a simply coffee cake.  In the book there are a few variations listed; in the future I will definitely have to try a few.  I think next time I make this I will add some diced apples tossed in cinnamon to the cake.  I also like dry rolled oats in my streusel type toppings, so maybe I’ll do that, too.

Bakery Style Berry Muffins (Vegan Brunch)

I started getting the ingredients together for this and remembered that I ran out of vanilla extract (how does one run out of vanilla extract??).  I decided to sub 1 scant tsp almond extract instead of the 2 tsp vanilla extract.  I went with blueberries for these.  A few minutes before they were done, I took them out, brushed some melted Earth Balance on the top, and sprinkled some sugar.  I’d have preferred raw sugar because it has larger crystals which go really well on top of baked goods for that extra crunch, but this had to do.  I didn’t get 12 muffins out of this; I made 10 because I hoping that if I filled the tins up more they might have bigger muffin tops…no such luck.  I used frozen blueberries, so I tossed them in a bit of flour and stuck them back in the freezer while I made the batter.  I took them out of the freezer at the last minute and folded them in.  This kept my muffins from turning purple—frozen blueberries make purple muffins if you don’t coat them with something.

These were really good.  The batter was freakin incredible.  The almond flavor was fairly prominent (so reduce by half if you try it this way if you aren’t a huge fan of almond extract) in both the batter and the muffins.  The muffins tasted almost like Spritz cookies. The muffin flavor and the blueberries went well together.

I stuck the muffins in espresso cups because, well, I thought it was cute that way.

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Week 3- Candle Cafe Cookbook (Sub for Urban Vegan)

Pumpkin Pudding

Holy crap–three posts in one day!  Talk about playing catch up.  I’m actually kind of beat from cooking all morning.  I should have been doing homework, but this interested me a bit more than current literacy practices and theory.

I don’t have Urban Vegan, so I’m subbing the Candle Cafe Cookbook. I made the Pumpkin Pudding. This stuff is delicious. I’m not sure if it was meant to eat hot or cold, but I took the pics warm and ate it cold. It was like pumpkin pie filling pudding. I didn’t have arrowroot, so I used cornstarch, which seemed to work just fine. Really–try this.

This week I’ll also be cooking the Tempeh Scallopini with Shallots and Mushrooms, and the Mushroom Risotto, both from the Candle Cafe Cookbook.

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Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes

I’m not sure if I liked these or not. I’m not a fan of Indian food, in general, and these seem Indian Foody…? It’s a bad pic, but I’ve been cooking all day (made three things from cookbooks for the challenge, so I don’t get behind) and I just didn’t care at this point. I only ate a few bites. I cut the recipe in half, but it still made more than I will eat. I feel sort of wasteful with this challenge because I’m cooking more food than I can eat and no one is helping me much eating this stuff. I’ve started halving and quartering recipes, so hopefully that will help.

Also, I accidentally grabbed fresh horseradish instead of fresh ginger. Caught that at the very last second! I had to use powdered ginger. Oh well.

I doubt I’ll make these again.  It’s nice to try new stuff, but these flavors just weren’t my cup o’ tea.

This ends week 2: Veganomicon.  Onto week 3! :)

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Veganomicon White Bean Aioli

Oh. My. God.  This was so good.  I definitely added extra lemon juice and salt, but I could have just eaten this with a spoon.  It’s like classed-up hummus almost.  I used it as a dip for organic carrots.

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