Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce
Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

My new obsession is nachos. Well, it isn’t that new, I think it was spring when I started to make these. It is all the fault of my friend; we were talking about lunch one day and she said she had been on a nacho kick. It was all over at that point. I came home that very day and started making nachos. It switched to taco salad for the summer, but as soon as it started to cool down again I’ve been back to nachos. I think the ingenious thing she said that made me “have” to try nachos that day was she was putting refried beans in the BOTTOM of the pan, then the chips on top. This, of course, makes the most sense ever as the chips get all crispy and warm, the beans warm up, and they don’t make everything soggy.

This recipe is just for the cheese sauce, but I’ll give you a quick run down of the rest. I heat my cast iron on the stove, saute a few cups of sliced veggies with a little salt and pepper, then dump them in a bowl. In the still hot pan I swirl a tablespoon of oil, then spread refried beans on the bottom. Top the beans with chips and pop it under the broiler for a few minutes until the chips are toasty brown and perfect. I then dump it on a plate, and pile on the veggies, nacho cheese sauce, and salsa. I then eat it all for lunch while watching my husband work out.

The cheese sauce. It is a variation of my cheese sauce from my cashew mac n cheese with some spice added. I made a nice big batch and freeze any I don’t use within a few days.

 Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup peeled and cubed russet potato (1 small)
  • 2 TBL sliced carrot (1 very small)
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4-1 cup reserved cooking water
  • 3 TBL nutritional yeast
  • 2 TBL tahini
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp tomato paste
  • additional salt to taste
  • 1 small can diced green chilis
  • 1/2 tsp ground chipotle powder or one chipotle in adobo sauce

Instructions

  1. Place potato and carrot in a small saucepan and cover with cold water.
  2. Add the vinegar and 1 tsp salt to water, bring everything to a boil partially covered, and boil for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cashews and continue to cook until the potatoes and carrots are completely tender, about 5 minutes more. They are done when they slide off a fork that is inserted into a piece of potato or carrot.
  4. Drain potatoes and carrots reserving at least 1 cup of the cooking water.
  5. Transfer potatoes, carrots, cashew, and 3/4 cup cooking water to a blender.
  6. Add nutritional yeast, tahini, mustard, and tomato paste and blend until smooth.
  7. Add more cooking water if you want the sauce to thin out a bit.
  8. Add green chilis and chipotle and pulse to combine.
  9. Taste, and adjust salt as needed.

Mexican Fried Rice (vegan and gluten free)

Vegan Mexican Fried Rice
Vegan Mexican Fried Rice

We are in between holidays right now. The perfect time to basically eat all the leftovers, clean out your pantry and freezer, and get ready for the next round of cooking. At times like these one must use what you have to make delicious food that eats as a perfectly composed meal, but takes little planning or preparation. I say between the holidays, but really, with two under two this is every day.

This Mexican Fried Rice was developed with bits and odds from my kitchen. It turned out so well my mother and my husband told me I had to blog it. Super simple, rich, just a little different, easy, and delicious. Feel free to mix and match veggies from what you have on hand. Same with the beans, kidney, pinto, black, or pretty much any bean you like would work just fine here.

 Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked in mushroom or vegetable broth (or whatever leftover rice and add a bit more salt to the whole mix)
  • 2 TBL olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 other bell pepper (white, red, yellow, orange) diced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 7.5 oz can El Pato tomato sauce, or other enchilada sauce (100% prefer El Pato)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 TBL nutritional yeast
  • Salt to taste.
  • Optional cheese to top

Instructions

  1. Cook rice in vegetable broth according to package directions.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add oil, and saute onion and mushrooms for a few minutes, until starting to soften.
  4. Add zucchini and cook about 2 minutes more.
  5. Add bell pepper and cook until just starting to soften 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add coked rice, garlic, kidney beans, and El Pato stirring to combine.
  7. Stir in nutritional yeast and garlic, taste, and add salt as needed.
  8. Sprinkle with cilantro and cheese if using and serve hot.

Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce and Guacamole

Vegan Nachos with Cashew Cheese and Guacamole
Vegan Nachos with Cashew Cheese and Guacamole

I had nachos for dinner and they were delicious! I highly recommend that you try a big plate yourself sometime soon. These were topped with a delicious vegan nacho cheese sauce from Serious Eats with a few minimal changes to reduce the spice level for my pregnant self. I also added a saute of onions, mushrooms, and black beans, some perfect homemade guacamole, and a touch of salsa. My only regret is that I am too full for dessert.

By far the most time consuming part of these nachos is the sauce. It is well worth the effort. I am giving you the recipe for the nacho cheese sauce and guacamole. What else you want to add is up to you. I do strongly suggest that you heat your tortilla chips in the oven until warm and crispy (350 for 5-7 minutes watching them carefully so they don’t burn). I heated my chips, then piled them on a plate with my toppings. I find if you heat your toppings on the chips the chips get soggy. So, heat chips, pile with stuff, top with vegan nacho cheese and guacamole. Sit and eat in delighted silence.

Originally from Serious Eats with some modifications by me.

 Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 4 ounces russet potato (about 1/2 medium), peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces roasted cashews (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, unflavored nondairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Frank’s)
  • 1 4 oz can fire roasted green chiles
  • Kosher salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Melt shortening in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until completely softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add cumin, paprika, and garlic powder, Cook, stirring, until fragrant and mixture starts to sizzle, about 1 minute.
  2. Add potatoes and cashews and cook, stirring, until cashews are lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add water and nondairy milk. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, until potatoes are fully tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer mixture to the jar of a high-powered blender. Add hot sauce, 1/2 the green chilies, and a pinch of salt. Start on low speed and slowly increase speed to high. Blend on high speed until completely smooth, about 2 minutes, adding water a few drops at a time as necessary to thin to desired consistency. Season to taste with more salt.
  4. Add the other half of the chilies and pulse to combine leaving some pieces of chili. If you like your sauce smooth feel free to blend to your heart’s content.
  5. Cheese sauce can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 1 week. To reheat, microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, or reheat in a small pan on the stovetop, stirring constantly, and adding extra water to loosen sauce as necessary.

 Ingredients

  • 2 large perfectly ripe avocados
  • 2 small to medium cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 TBL red finely minced red or yellow onion
  • half a small jalapeno, finely minced, about 1 tsp. (optional)
  • 1 TBL minced fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 3 TBL minced fresh tomato (optional)
  • juice from half a small lime
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Scoop out the flesh of the avocado and mash in a bowl large enough to give you some room to work.
  2. After the avocado is mashed to the consistency you desire mix in the rest of the ingredients. Start small with the lime and salt, and add more if you like.
  3. Try to refrain from eating it all before moving it to the table.

A Vegan Cinco de Mayo

Homemade Refried Beans
Homemade Refried Beans

I love Mexican food, and there is no better excuse for eating it than the 5th of May. There is a common misconception in the US that Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican independence day which is actually celebrated on September 16th. Cinso de Mayo actually celebrates the Mexican victory over French troops at the battle of  Puebla on May 5, 1862. As I said though, it is just a wonderful reason to thank Mexico for their delicious food and celebrate when spring actually comes to the East Coast.  It also happens to be my husbands, and my father-in-law’s birthday. It’s really just a wonderful and special day for me overall.

In case you want to celebrate I have a few recipes for you to choose from, or build a buffet of this holiday. Happy Cinco de Mayo and I hope the day is beautiful.

Vegan Mexican and Mexican Inspired Dishes

vegan refried beans
vegan refried beans

Refried Beans

 

 

 

Homemade vegan tortillas
Homemade vegan tortillas

Homemade Corn Tortillas

 

 

 

 

Black bean stew with Soyrizo
Black bean stew with Soyrizo

Soyrizo and Black Bean Stew

 

 

 

 

Vegan Lentil Tacos with Homemade Refried Beans
Vegan Lentil Tacos with Homemade Refried Beans

Lentil Tacos

 

 

 

 

Pizza Burrito
Pizza Burrito

Pizza Burrito

 

 

 

National Mojito Day Morita
National Mojito Day Morita

Morita – a Margarita/Mojito 

 

 

Pizza Burrito

Pizza Burrito
Pizza Burrito

You heard me, Pizza Burrito. Two of my favorite things join hands in this delicious combination to bring you a tangy, spicy, salty, cheesy, creamy, crunchy, soul satisfying bite. This dish was born on the drive home from a weekend climbing trip as my husband and I discussed what we should have for dinner. His go-to is pizza, and mine is burritos. We compromised/brought both our favorites to the next level.

There are two ways to go about pizza burrito making, and both are amazing. 1) make a tortilla pizza and add burrito filling, or 2) make a calzone filled with both pizza and burrito fillings. I like the calzone version better, but the tortilla version is a little less work.

I realized as I wrote this recipe I have never posted about pizza, pizza dough, or guacamole! . I’m sorry. I will rectify my oversight soon.

 Ingredients
  • Pizza sauce
  • Tortillas or Pizza Dough
  • Leftover refried beans, or canned
  • Vegan or regular mozzarella cheese
  • Soyrizo or other fake taco meat
  • Guacamole
  • Hot Sauce

Instructions

Tortilla Version

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Place tortillas (1 per person) flat on a baking sheet and spread pizza sauce in a thin layer on tortilla topping with cheese.
  3. Bake tortilla pizza in hot oven for 10-12 minute until cheese is melted and tortilla is starting to brown.
  4. While tortilla pizza is baking heat beans and taco meat until warmed through.
  5. When tortilla pizzas are done top with beans and taco meat, roll up, and cover with guacamole and hot sauce.

Calzone Version 

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Roll out pizza dough into an oval about 1/4″ thick (1 oval per person).
  3. Spread pizza sauce over half the oval and top with cheese, heated beans, and heated taco meat.
  4. Fold the naked half of the pizza dough over the topping and pinch the edges together to keep the filling inside.
  5. Bake in hot oven until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Finish with guacamole and hot sauce and be careful because the filling is HOT!!
 Ingredients
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 5-8 dried chile de arbol
  • 1/4 no salt added tomato sauce
  • 1 TBL minced onion
  • 1 TBL white wine vinegar
  • 1 TBL white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 TBL chopped fresh tomato
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp agave nectar

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat.
  2. Once oil is hot add the chile de arbol and cook until browned and fragrant.
  3. Place chiles and the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning to you preference.

Homemade “Refried” Beans and What To Do With Leftovers

Homemade Refried Beans
Homemade Refried Beans

Something many people struggle with is what to make for dinner, and what to do with leftovers. I have an answer for both! I personally love leftovers and love turning them into something new for dinner. One of my favorite leftovers is refried beans. There are so many things you can do with them!!

We make these beans almost every week. I love beans in general, and these in particular. We usually start out by eating them the first night in tortillas, homemade if you have the time, with rice and whatever else we have. Leftovers, if there are any, are used in many different ways. I made a chart you can see below the recipe with ideas for your leftovers.

I posted a recipe for refried beans a few years ago, but my recipe has changed a good bit since then and I want to do do an update. These beans are not re-fried at all, they are just cooked until they are so tender they are melting. This is important for the best beans, but you can do a shortcut by mashing them in the cooking liquid if you are running out of time.

 Ingredients
  • 1 cup dry pinto beans
  • 1 cup dry black beans
  • water to cover beans
  • 1 medium onion, cut into eighths
  • 4 small whole cloves garlic
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or 1 large carrot and 1 stalk celery cut into large chunks
  • salt to taste
  • piece of kombu (optional)

Instructions

  1. Put both kinds of beans in a bowl, cover with cold water and soak 8 hours or overnight. OR if you decide too late for this put the beans in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil over high head. Turn off the heat and allow to soak in the hot water for one hour.
  2. Drain the beans from their soaking liquid.
  3. Place the beans, onion, garlic, salt, vegetable broth or vegetables, and kombu in a large pot filling the rest of the pot with enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches.
  4. Cook the beans over medium heat for a minimum of one hour. I cook them until they start to fall apart which is about 2 hours. I often have to add more water during cooking to keep the beans soupy enough until they are as tender as I like them.
  5. Remove the carrot and celery if using.
  6. You can either mash the beans at this point, or continue to cook them until they are truly falling apart.
  7. Add salt to taste.
  8. Serve hot.

 

What To Do With Leftover Refried Beans

Vegan Lentil Tacos

Vegan Lentil Tacos with Homemade Refried Beans
Vegan Lentil Tacos with Homemade Refried Beans

It’s May! May is my favorite month to eat Mexican food. I don’t know if that’s true; we eat Mexican at least once a week all year. I love it. After living in San Diego and having amazing Mexican, I can’t just go out for it anymore. Most restaurants fall flat when it comes to tasty vegan Mexican. Because of this I have turned to my own kitchen to build the flavors I miss while living ever so far from a good burrito stand.

These lentil tacos are rich and savory and bypass any processed fake meat product. In the fall and winter I serve this lentil filling with roasted veggies, which is awesome. Pictured here I am serving the filling with homemade refried beans (watch for a new refried bean recipe coming soon), homemade corn tortillas, fried onions, and a cabbage slaw. I also added guacamole and served them with margaritas. Truly a winning combination.

Happy May and enjoy your tacos!

Vegan Lentil Tacos

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup brown lentils
  • 2 cups mushroom broth
  • 1/4 cup reserved lentil broth
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 cup prepared salsa
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring lentils and mushroom broth to a a boil over medium high heat in a covered saucepan.
  2. Once Lentils have started to boil reduce the heat to low, crack the lid and simmer until tender, but not mushy, about 20-25 minutes.
  3. Once lentils have cooked, drain them reserving the lentil broth.
  4. Return lentils, 1/4 cup reserved broth, tomato paste, garlic, paprika, chili powder, onion, and salsa to the pan. Heat through, taste, and adjust seasoning to your preference.

Vegan Chili Cheese Bean Casserole

Chili Cheese Bean Casserole

And last night for dinner I used up the rest of the chili. This is one of those recipes that you can’t believe it is vegan because it is so cheesy, melty, tastes like you should be eating it at a Superbowl party. Actually the last part is true, if you must go to a Superbowl party you should bring this. Don’t share with the non-vegans, you don’t want them to know our secrets.

This version I used up leftover chili and homemade re-fried beans. You can also use cans of both which also tastes pretty darn good. I also had some vegan cheese left over from making vegan chili cheese dip for New Year’s eve, but you could go without if that isn’t your thing. It won’t be as good, but still worth it.

I usually make this in the oven, but last night I used my slow cooker while we were out climbing. I used exactly the same recipe and cooked it for 2 1/2 hours on high. It turned out really well.

One warning, it is very easy for two people to sit down and eat this whole recipe, so I recommend taking very small portions so you can go back for seconds and thirds without actually eating that much. Also reminding yourself you want it for lunch tomorrow can help. Just be careful.

I’m not sure what to call this Chili Cheese Bean Casserole is the descriptive name. It could also be Mexican lasagna, tortilla bake, layers of happy. I don’t know. If you have a name let me know.

Superbowl Casserole 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups chili (or one 15 oz can)
  • 2 cups re-fried beans (or one 15 oz can)
  • 2 cans (7 3/4 oz) El Pato brand tomato sauce or enchilada sauce
  • Vegan cheddar or nacho cheese
  • 5 8″ tortillas

Instructions

  1. pour one can of tomato sauce in a 8″ round baking pan or pie plate.
  2. spread half the re-fried beans on tortilla and grate a little cheese over them.
  3. Place another tortilla and half the chili on those and grate a little more cheese on top.
  4. Layer another tortilla, the other half of the beans and more cheese on those.
  5. Layer another tortilla, the other half of the chili and more cheese on that.
  6. Top with the final tortilla, the other can of tomato sauce and more cheese.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350F for about 30 min until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through.

Vegan Tortillas

Homemade vegan tortillas

To continue with a tribute to Mexican food we have a recipe for homemade tortillas. The flavor, texture, and smell of freshly made tortillas is so amazing. I just want to eat them by themselves for all that yummy corny, freshly baked bread smell. They are warm and soft, have real flavor, and are ohh so satisfying compared to packaged brands.

I only recently started making tortillas, and I confess I still buy them as well. I like these better, but sometimes you just need quick. I started making tortillas because where I’m living now any tortilla you buy has a list of ingredients as long as my arm. As you can see by this recipe a tortilla only needs 3 ingredients.

I’m including lots of pictures of the different steps in case you are not familiar with rolling things out. This is an easy recipe, just be patient and you will enjoy fresh tortillas for the rest of you life.

Vegan Tortillas 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Masa flour or masa harina
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup water

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl for about 2 minutes until a soft dough forms.
  2. Divide dough into 16 equal balls by rolling dough into a log and cutting it.
  3. Cover balls with a damp cloth while working.
  4. If you have a tortilla press use it to make tortillas.
  5. If not, place each ball between two pieces of wax paper.
  6. Press out dough with your hand a little to start to form a circle.
  7. Finish by rolling dough with a rolling pin until as thin as a tortilla.
  8. Keep rolled tortillas covered with a damp cloth until you have them all rolled out.
  9. Heat an ungreased griddle or frying pan on medium/high heat.
  10. Cook tortillas one at a a time until they start to turn golden brown, about 50 seconds. Flip and cook second side about the same amount of time.
  11. Cover cooked tortillas with a damp cloth until serving time.
Dividing the dough
prepping to roll out the dough

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pressing the dough before rolling it
the rolled tortilla

Homemade Vegan Refried Beans

Homemade beans

As I said in my last post I was just in Mexico, so my theme is Mexican food. I started really getting into Mexican food while living in San Diego. I had no idea refried beans could be so good. There was one place I would go and get a burrito with rice, beans and guacamole. That’s it. Well, then I would dump hot sauce over everything. The place is Taco Fiesta in Ocean Beach if anyone is out that way.

Since moving I have been working on making my beans and hot sauce taste like theirs. These beans are pretty close, but my hot sauce is still not worth posting. Soon I hope.

Homemade vegan refired beans are the best thing in the world if you ask me, the flavor and texture is so different from what you can get in a can, and so much better. You also have a lot more control over the texture. I like mine a bit chunky, but not thick. When you are mashing them up you can stop whenever you get to your perfect bean texture.

 

Homemade Vegan Refried Beans 

I make these in my pressure cooker, so the measurements are for that. You could also soak the beans overnight and cook them on the stove. Stove top the beans will take about 2 hours to cook. I have a 3 in 1 pressure cooker that cooks at 12 psi, the cooking time might be a little shorter if you have a 15 psi cooker.

If you are watching your fat intake you can omit the shortening and just mash the beans in their own juice.

Ingredients

  • 11/2 cups dry pinto beans

    Mashing the beans
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 onion, cut into eighths
  • 4 small whole cloves garlic
  • 1 TBL vegetable broth powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 TBL vegetable shortening
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Put pinto beans, water, onion, garlic, broth powder and bay leaves in pressure cooker.
  2. Cook on high for 33 minutes.
  3. When beans are done melt shortening in a large skillet.
  4. Remove the bay leaves and spoon beans into pan and mash with a potato masher.
  5. Add bean juice a little at a time until beans reach desired consistency. The beans thicken a lot as they cool, so add a little more than you think you want.
  6. Add salt to taste.
  7. Serve hot.