Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vegan Essentials: "Cheese"cake:

Vegan Cheesecake:

Never in a million years did I ever think I'd cook, let alone eat, a vegan cheesecake. Today, I have conquered that fear. This cheesecake turned out delicious and tasted almost the same as regular cheesecake. I was super proud of and pleased with my first try. My roommate gave me an A+, and my friend Sara loved it too. ☺

I adapted this from Annette's recipe on VegWeb. I used firm tofu instead of silken tofu because I didn't feel like running to the store to pick it up. I added unsweetened almond milk to achieve the same silky texture. Another idea is to use 1/2  cup plain soy yogurt with firm tofu instead of the almond milk, but only try this if you're brave because I haven't tested it yet!

I didn't feel like reinventing the wheel just yet, so I opted to buy a premade crust instead of having to make the crust as well, but I plan on making my own crust next time.


1 premade 8-inch pie crust (I used a 9-inch pie crust, and it was a little too big).
1 10 ounce package of firm tofu, drained and crumbled
2/3 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 8 hours
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (you may want to add more to achieve a smoother texture)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp. brown sugar
3 tbsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer (or 2 flax eggs)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh fruit


1. Preheat oven to 375℉.

2. Combine cashews, tofu, olive oil, almond milk, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy, adding more almond milk as necessary.

3. Transfer to bowl and whisk in remaining ingredients (minus the pie crust). Whisk until smooth and creamy.

4. Let sit for a few minutes, then transfer the mixture to the pie pan. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes. The mixture should set. Let cool and refrigerate for a few hours. Top with fruit and serve.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Welcome Back (To Me):

Well, here I am, back in Orlando.

I can't begin to explain how much fun I had this summer: it started with a road trip from Florida to Ohio, and then I spent a few weeks at home and at my cottage on Lake Erie before heading to Spain and somehow getting by on little to no sleep.

The time that I spent in Europe went by all too quickly. Those few weeks took a few good years off of my life, but they were more than worth it. I stayed in a village outside of Madrid and made trips to Barcelona, Mallorca, Prague, and Vienna, all while spending time with some of my best friends.

When I got back to the states, I celebrated our nation's independence (and my favorite holiday) with my family and a few more of my very best friends (Ann and Nikohl). Despite my recent struggles with mono, I got over my jet lag very quickly. (I credit most of this to being vegan).

The summer continued, and I was given the opportunity to see a few concerts: Eric Church, Toby Keith, John Michael Montgomery, Kenny Chesney, Tim Mcgraw, and Jake Owen. I was also very fortunate to spend most mornings in my mother's kitchen drinking coffee and carrying on with her.

The rest of the summer was spent camping, cooking, laying out on the beach, and, of course, getting into trouble.

Eventually, however, like everything else,the summer had to come to an end. I will admit that I was exhausted and just about ready to get back to Orlando and back into some sort of a routine.

So there I was, packing up my worldly possessions: a very well-traveled Puma backpack, a few bikinis, a foot-tall stack of cooking magazines, my disassembled Canon DSLR camera, and my small but growing arsenal of food blogging plates, bowls, and ramekins. I think that there were a few clothes in there as well. 

I left home with a heavy heart, saddened to leave my family, but ready to get back to school and work. The goodbyes never get any easier, but it was time to get back to my life in Orlando (which I also missed very much).

Now, here I am: back in Orlando, done with my first week of my last year of law school. I didn't think that I was going to make it, but here I am. So here's to a new year. Here's to being a 3L.♥

Adventures in Vegan "Cheese" Making:

Ultimate "Cheese" Sauce:

Because my books for the semester had yet to arrive and since it was kind of hurricaning outside, I decided to have a lazy Sunday, make a trip to Whole Foods, and venture further into vegan "cheese" making. I did, however, experience a small lapse in judgment in thinking that going to Whole Foods on a Sunday would be relaxing. It was a zoo in there: people were everywhere. I must've said "excuse me" at least ten times and I probably ran into at least five people. To top it off, I pretty much spent a small fortune. However, I should be stocked up on cashews for most of the semester/ year, and the "cheeses" that I plan to make with the ingredients that I bought should definitely be worth it (and I actually did enjoy being at Whole Foods).

Anyways, this cheese sauce is very good and can be used with just about anything: chips, toast, veggies, pasta, and pizza...not to mention the fact that it only takes 10 minutes to make.

I adapted this recipe from the Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook's recipe for Melty White Cheez. If you are at all interested in knowing more about making non-dairy cheese, you should definitely get this book. It has cheese sauce recipes, salad recipes, block cheese recipes, dessert recipes, and a full description of the ingredients that people often use when making non-dairy cheese. It's a good book for the curious too. 


1 1/2 cups plain (unsweetened) almond milk
1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp. tahini
1 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. salt (I used Kosher salt)
1/4 tsp. paprika


1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

2. Next, place mixture in a medium saucepan and heat on medium to medium-high heat until the sauce has reached a smooth and thick consistency. Enjoy.

Today's Whole Foods Finds:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pizza Night:


I made this when I got home from work today. I haven't gotten the chance to stock up on food yet, so I've kind of had to get even more creative than usual. With both avocado and garbanzo beans, half of one of these pizzas with fill you up. It's comforting, healthy, fresh, and delicious. I came up with two ways to make it: the first is the easy way, where you can you premade ingredients. It's faster and takes a little less energy. But, for those who are feeling ambitious, I included the more difficult recipe from scratch. You also mix them up by using premade pizza dough and making your own guacamole or vice versa. Enjoy!

The Easy Way:


2 pieces of Naan or other flat bread
1 1/2 cups premade guacamole
1 medium tomato, diced
3/4 cup garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1  tsp. olive oil
A few drops of lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt
Crushed red pepper, to taste
Black pepper, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. While the oven is preheating, spread 3/4 cup guacamole on each piece of naan.

3. Next, add half of the tomato, half of the garbanzo beans, and half of the salt to each piece of naan.

4. Add a few drops of lime, crushed red pepper, and black pepper. Brush each pizza's crust with olive oil.

5. Place in oven and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. (NOTE: for a quicker dinner, just top the naan with the ingredients and don't bake it. It'll turn out just as delicious).

The Harder Way: (FROM SCRATCH):



1 1/2 cups bread flour
About 2/3 cup water
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt


1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place your pizza stone or baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix together.

2. Knead until the dough has reached a smooth and elastic consistency, adding more flour as needed.

3. Roll the dough out into a 10 to 12-inch circle or square.

For the Guacamole:


1 1/2 cups guacamole, diced
1/2 cup baby spinach
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. salt
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Black pepper, to taste


1. Add all of the ingredients to a blender or food processor.

2. Blend until smooth, adding seasonings as necessary.

Pizza toppings:

1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 tp 3/4 cup garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp. olive oil
Crushed red pepper, to taste
Cajun seasoning, to taste
Salt, to taste


1. Once the oven has preheated and once you've made the dough and guacamole, remove the pizza stone or baking sheet from the oven and place the pizza dough on it. (NOTE: if you're using a pizza stone, sprinkle it with corn starch before adding the dough to keep it from sticking. If you're using a baking sheet, spray it with non-stick cooking spray). Precook the pizza dough for 10 minutes in the oven.

2. Take the pizza dough out and top with guacamole, garbanzo beans, and tomatoes. Brush the crust with olive oil, and add salt and crushed red pepper. Bake for another 7 minutes.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fun Stuff:

Summer is quickly coming to a grinding halt: the kids are back in school, the days are getting shorter, and it surely has not cooled off yet here in Florida. To keep you inspired in light of your end-of-summer woes, here's a healthy and delicious idea for your end of summer and Labor Day cook outs. 

(I credit my dad, who was kind enough to make this for me the night before I left for Orlando, with this brilliant idea). <3

Ingredients to include:


Fresh corn
Fresh green beans
Sugar snap peas
Chopped carrots
Broccoli florets
Diced onions
Chopped bell peppers
Chopped mushrooms
Zucchini, eggplant, anything else your heart may desire




Soy sauce
Teriyaki sauce
Barbecue sauce
Olive or canola oil

Other seasoning ideas:

Coarse sea salt
Black pepper
Cajun seasoning
Sesame seeds


Line up all the veggies and rice/ quinoa separately in big containers on the counter buffet-style. Give every person their own medium sized bowl, and let them move through the buffet and choose which ingredients they'd like. Make this carnivore-friendly by adding bowls of steak, chicken, or shrimp.

Place each person's ingredients separately in a large wok or pan (either on the grill or on the fire). Let them pick their own sauce and seasoning. Cook each individual's bowl of ingredients separately on the fire or on the grill on high heat until cooked through and tender, with a little bit of char.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Check it out!

My Cannellini Bean Salad Recipe was featured in Tasty25 Magazine yeterday:

Tasty25 Magazine features healthy recipes that can be made in 25 mintutes or less. Follow the link below to check out my recipe and their site. <3


I picked these grape tomatoes up from a produce market with my dad. Because of the large amount of grape tomatoes that I bought, I made double this recipe, but I cut it in half for the site for practical purposes. Look at how pretty this salad looks! It's amazing and refreshing, and you can add it to pretty much anything: argula, rice, pasta, even pizza.

I ended up using soy sauce as a dressing, which turned out to be a tiny stroke of genius. It gave the grape tomatoes an extra salty and nutty flavor. I couldn't resist it and ate half of the three-pound salad in a day.

My younger brother, Mac, explained to me that, when he got home from the bar the night before, he smelled the tomato salad and got excited because he thought that it was chicken or something else that would satisfy his drunken munchies. (He hates tomatoes). When he took the foil off of the salad bowl, he was shocked and dismayed that the bowl was full of tomatoes. Unfortunately for him, he wasn't feeling brave enough to taste the tomato salad, but I know that he would've liked it a lot had he been able to muster up enough courage to try it. (He just recently got back from exploring Australia, Thailand, and New Zealand by the way).


1 1/2 cups (or 1 package) red grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups yellow grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp soy sauce (to taste)
11/2 tsp. garlic salt or coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Dash of thyme
A few drops of lemon juice

Serves 4 (as a side dish).
Total Cook Time: about 10 minutes.

1. Add the  cherry tomatoes, parsley, onion, olive oil, and soy sauce to a large bowl. Mix together.

2. Add the sea salt, black pepper, thyme, and lemon juice. Toss to coat.

Personally, I wouldn't change anything about this salad, but here are a few ideas:
- Substitute Italian dressing or balsamic if you're not a big fan of soy sauce.
- Substitute Bragg Liquid Aminos for the soy sauce to make this recipe gluten free.
- Use sesame oil instead of olive oil to give this salad a richer flavor.
- Put this salad in a food processor, and process until smooth for a creative, Asian-style salsa. Eat with tortilla chips, on toasted French bread, or use as a pasta or vegan pizza sauce.
- Pair this with your favorite salad greens and crunchy Asian noodles for a perfect dinner or side salad.

My brother Mac and I right before going canoeing last week in Cook Forest, PA.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Orzo and Veggies:

Summer Orzo and Vegetable Medley:

This creative pasta salad is perfect served cold on a hot summer day.My grandma made this for her annual bowling party, and she gave me what was left over. She added black olives, but I didn't have any, so I made it without the olives.


1 1/2 cups orzo, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup zucchini, diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup corn
1 tsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp italian dressing
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
Dash of black pepper


1. Cook the orzo according to package directions. Transfer it to a large bowl.

2. Add all of the other ingredients to the bowl. Toss to coat. Refrigerate for an hour or so to serve cold, or serve hot.

Other ideas:

- Cook the veggies before adding them to the orzo: add zucchini, bell pepper, tomato, corm, and parsley to a medium saucepan and saute over medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, and then proceed to step 2.

- Add olives or mild pepper rings to add a different flavor.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Sponge Cupcakes:


I'm not a very big dessert person, but I love anything sweet and savory, especially chocolate and peanut butter together. These cupcakes are really good, just be careful when baking them. You want them to have a spongy texture. I baked them on 400 for 10 minutes, but they turned out a little dry. I think that cooking them on 350 for 13 to 15 minutes will keep them moist and spongy.

Also, use caramel if you want to achieve a sweeter taste. The cupcakes are delicious once they've cooled off a little, but the melted peanut butter is sticky when melted. If you still would like to use peanut butter and don't want it to stick to the roof of your mouth, refrigerate the cupcakes for at least 30 minutes.

Other ideas: use all brown sugar instead of white, or sub 1/2 cup of wheat flour for the 1/2 cup of all purpose flour for a healthier outcome (I've done this with chocolate spongecake before, and I think that it actually turned out a little better).


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup olive or canola oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. agave syrup (optional)
1/2 cup peanut butter (or vegan caramel), melted
Dash of salt

Makes 12 cupcakes.
Total cook time: 25 minutes.


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of the ingredients (except the peanut butter) in a large mixing bowl.

2. Once the batter has reached a smooth consistency, add it to the cupcake pan. Make sure that you leave a little room for the peanut butter on top.

3. After you've added the batter to the cupcake pan, sprinkle the tops of the cupcakes with the melted peanut butter or caramel. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes. If using peanut butter, let the cupcakes cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Cannellini Beans and Broccoli:


This side dish is delicious, and it only takes 10 minutes to make. I only used Bragg's Liquid Aminos for dressing (it doesn't need anything else), but feel free to experiment with different dressings and seasoning.

Unfortunately, this incredibly awesome summer has to come to an end. I have just a few more days in paradise (my hometown) until I have to head back to sunny Florida and enter the real world again. I have definitely succeeded in avoiding real life this summer. Still, it has enabled me to realize what's really important in life, and that's family and friends. I'm going to miss my family A TON, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

I promise that, no matter how busy I get, I will continue to post on here (probably more frequently - weeknights in law school can get pretty lonely).

2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup small broccoli florets
1 red pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
1 to 2 tsp Bragg's liquid aminos or soy sauce
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic salt or coarse salt
A few dashes of black pepper

Serves 4.
Total cook time: 10 minutes.


1. Heat the olive oil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the broccoli, red pepper, onion, and garlic. Add the liquid aminos or soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Cook on high heat until cooked through and a little tender, but still crunchy.

2. Pour the drained beans into a medium bowl, add the cooked veggie mixture. Add more soy, liquid aminos, or Italian dressing if desired.

Bragg's Liquid Aminos is a soy sauce alternative that's gluten free. I think that it tastes a little different from soy sauce, but in a good way. It's not as salty-tasting. I found it in the grocery sauce in the same aisle as the barbecue sauce and other condiments, but you can also find it in health food stores.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Vegan Substitutes:


Here are a few ingredients that I like to use as substitutes:

1. Nutritional Yeast Flakes:

Find it at: Whole Foods,, other health food stores
Use: Nutritional yeast has a cheesy, nutty flavor and can be used  to make cheesy sauces, vegan mac n' cheese, sprinkled over popcorn, or as a seasoning.

2. Vogue Cuisine Instant VegeBase:

Find it at: Whole Foods,, other grocery and health food stores.
Use: for soup broth, sauces, and gravy. (They also have a chicken-flavored broth).

3. Earth Balance Buttery Spread:

Earth Balance has all the flavor of butter and more. I have never cooked with or eaten a lot of butter, but I definitely use a lot of this Earth Balance now that I've discovered it.
Find it at: Whole Foods, pretty much any grocery store in the dairy section.
Use: anything you'd use butter for.

Other brand buttery spreads: Smart Balance and Best Life. These brands are also good, and they're cheaper than Earth Balance. You can  find these brands in the grocery store too. I also cook with a lot of olive oil instead of butter.

4. Daiya Dairy Free Cheese:

Daiya is my favorite dairy-free cheese. I've only had the mozzarella flavor, but I know that Daiya also has cheddar and pepper jack flavors. It doesn't taste exactly like mozzarella, but it's salty and gooey and pretty much amazing. It's like crack for me. My only problem with it is that it has a sticky texture when it's melted. It sometimes feels like you're eating glue, but hey, at least it tastes better.

Find it at: Whole Foods, Health food stores, and select grocery stores. You can probably ask your grocery store to special order it for you.
Use: the same as you would for cheese.

5. Galaxy Foods VEGAN (not RICE - it contains milk ingredients)* Grated Parmesan:

True story: Parmesan cheese was my absolute favorite food before I went completely vegan. I was addicted, and it was definitely the hardest for me to give up. I sprinkled it on everything. It made everything taste amazing, but I realized later that it only masked the flavors of everything else I was eating. Needless to say, after months of trying, I was finally able to give it up, and today, I really have no desire to eat it.

I found this when we were on vacation. I was kind of leery about it at first because I haven't eaten Parmesan in so long and because all of the other Parmesan substitutes I've found have been subpar compared to the real Parmesan cheese , but I figured that I might as well give it a try.
Anyways, this ended up tasting almost exactly like real Parmesan cheese. When my dad mixed the Parmesan with olive oil and other seasonings to dip fresh bread in, I yelled at him for putting Parmesan in it when I took a bite. He just laughed at me. Only then did I realize that he used the Vegan Parmesan.

Find it at: Whole Foods, select grocery stores (I found it at Food Lion), other health food stores, and
Use: as parmesan cheese: sprinkled on pasta, in sauces, etc.

 Dad and I on vacation in Bethany Beach, DE/ Ocean City, MD. <3

*Make sure to buy the Vegan Parmesan, not the Rice Parmesan. I made the mistake a couple times. I made the mistake of thinking that all cheese substitutes are vegan. They're not. :( Fortunately, they have a Vegan Parmesan that's just as delicious.



If you like sushi, you will love this recipe.


2 hearts of romaine, stemmed
1 1/2 cups quinoa, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 medium cucumber, diced
2 tsp. olive oil, divided
3 tsp. soy sauce (or to taste)
Wasabi, to taste
Fresh or pickled ginger, to taste
Garlic salt, to taste


1. Preheat grill. Cook quinoa according to package directions, add 1 tsp. olive oil. Set aside.

2. Toss the romaine pieces with olive oil and garlic salt. Place it on the grill, and grill on medium to high heat until golden-brown.

3. Mix the quinoa, red onions, and cucumber in a large bowl. Lay a few romaine leaves out on each plate, top each with 1/2 cup quinoa mixture, and drizzle each plate with soy sauce. Serve with wasabi and ginger on the side.



I know that I can buy pre-made pasta sauce at the store, but I love making sauces from scratch. It's like therapy for me, not to mention that homemade sauce is healthier and cheaper. Throw this together in 10 minutes, and let the flavors soak together on the stove for a few hours or so.

This makes a lot of sauce, but it will keep for awhile as long as you keep it refrigerated. Feel free to cut this recipe in half if you don't want to make as much.


2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion, half quartered (see below) and half thinly diced
1/4 cup white cooking wine
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp Smart Balance buttery spread
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
Pepper, to taste


1. Add all ingredients to a large pot. Bring to a boil, stir, cover,  and reduce heat to low.

2. Simmer for 3 hours, until flavors have blended together. (Cook on medium-low heat for an hour and a half if you're in a hurry).

Quartered onions.

Grilled Caprese Stackers and Cashew Cheese:



1 large zucchini, sliced (see above)
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup cashew cheese (recipe below)
1 tsbp. olive oil
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1 tsp. dried parsley
Garlic salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Serves 4. (As a side dish/appetizer).
Total Cook Time: 30 minutes.


1. Preheat grill. Combine zucchini, tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a large bowl. Toss to coat.

2. Grill the vegetable mixture on high heat until the zucchini and tomatoes are cooked through and golden-brown (my grill takes 10 to 12 minutes, but the cooking time will depend on your grill). Add salt and pepper while grilling as needed.

3. Stack the vegetables in whatever order you like, placeing a small spoonful of cashew cheese in between the veggies. I made some that were mainly zucchini and some that alternated between zucchini and tomatoes.

4. Drizzle each stacker with the balsamic vinegar, and top each with the sesame seeds and parsley.


Cashew cheese: a vegan essential. Use it as a sub for cream cheese, dip, tzatziki sauce, and even as cheese on pizza. This recipe is ridiculously easy. All you need is either a blender or a food processor.

I made this to use for pizza and dip on our recent beach trip to Delaware.


PS: This post was written especially for Nikohl (pictured below), who has wanted this recipe forever. (Sorry it took so long!)

Also important: make sure that the cashews you buy are raw instead of roasted. 


10 oz. raw cashews, soaked (or 1 small container from the grocery store)
1/2 cup water
3 tsp olive oil
Garlic salt

Makes 1 jar.
Total Cook Time: an hour and 10 minutes.


1. Soak cashews in a bowl of water for at least an hour. Drain.

2. Add the cashews, olive oil,  and salt to a blender or food processor. Add the water gradually. Blend until smooth. You may want to add more water to achieve a smooth consistency. Add paprika and cayenne and blend until they're mixed in.

You can also add chopped garlic, onions, white wine, dark beer, or nutritional yeast for a little extra flavor. 

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