Recipe: Cauliflower Queso

Howdy! If you’ve visited or hail from the great state of Texas, you know that queso is a Tex Mex staple. If you don’t know, queso is Spanish for cheese and is also a liquidy, cheesy heaven of a dip. I’m here with a cauliflower(!) version so you can indulge your craving without guilt.

Ingredients

1/4 c raw cashews, soaked in hot water for one hour
2 T organic Earth Balance
1 yellow onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
1 large cauliflower head, chopped
1/2 c vegetable broth
1/3 c + 2-3 T coconut milk
2 sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 c nutritional yeast
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t chili powder
1/4 t turmeric
1/2 t sea salt, more to taste
tortilla chips or crudité for serving

Instructions

  1. Poor boiling water over cashews and allow to soak for one hour. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet heat butter over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and jalapeños and sauté for about six minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, remove about half of the onion/jalapeño mixture and set aside.
  3. Stir cauliflower and vegetable broth into the remaining half of onion/jalapeño mixture, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender.
  4. Add cauliflower mixture to a food processor or high-powered blender along with remaining ingredients, including cashews. Blend mixture until smooth. If too thick, add additional milk 1 T at a time until desired consistency is achieved.
  5. Taste queso and add more sea salt, if desired.
  6. Transfer queso to a large bowl and stir in remaining onions and jalapeños. If desired, top with fresh jalapeños or cilantro.
  7. Serve immediately with tortilla chips or crudité.

This recipe creates a vat of cauliflower queso. I advise freezing most of it in small portions and, when ready to eat, move from freezer to fridge 24 hours in advance and then reheat on the stove. Consume unfrozen queso (or incorporate it into another recipe calling for cheese sauce) within one week.

Super into cauliflower? Buy too much cauliflower for this recipe? Try one of these recipes:

Spiced Cauliflower with Feta
Roasted Garlic Cauliflower

Adapted from Vegan Cauliflower Queso.


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Recipe: Shepherd’s Pie

Special Announcement! Meat-eating Rick has released a statement to the media (me) that this is his new favorite recipe of mine, even trumping his beloved lasagna. He does not ~dish~ out compliments regarding my cooking liberally, so this is notable.

This recipe has some veggies but I think of it as vegan junk food because it has substitute products galore. I feel like vegan substitutes for animal products are great in a pinch or to satisfy a particular craving but aren’t great for day-to-day eating. The closer you can get to simply eating whole, plant-based foods the better, but everybody needs a comfort meal sometimes.

Ingredients

5 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 c vegan mayonnaise
1/2 c coconut milk
1/4 c + 2 T olive oil
3 T vegan cream cheese
2 t sea salt
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 c frozen peas
1 tomato, chopped
1 t Italian seasoning*
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t black pepper to taste
~14 oz package vegan ground beef
1/2 c vegan shredded cheddar cheese

*The dry mix from my Crack Italian Dressing recipe works here, too.

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, cover potatoes in cold water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn heat down to medium-low and continue to boil the potatoes until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain potatoes in a colander and then replace them in the pot.
  2. Stir mayonnaise, milk, 1/4 c olive oil, cream cheese, and sea salt into the potatoes, mashing with a potato masher until smooth and fluffy. Set potatoes aside.
  3. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion, carrots, celery, peas, and tomato until mixture softens, about ten minutes.
  4. Stir Italian seasoning, garlic, and pepper into vegetable mix.
  5. Preheat oven to 400° F and lightly oil a two quart baking dish. Set aside.
  6. Reduce vegetable mix heat to medium-low and add vegan ground beef crumbles. Stir and break up the crumbles until mixture is hot, about five minutes.
  7. Spread meat / vegetable mixture into the bottom of the baking dish and top with mashed potatoes. Then, top mashed potatoes with cheese.
  8. Bake 20 minutes.

This recipe is super filling and hearty. Enjoy!

Serves 6-8.

Adapted from Traditional Style Vegan Shepherd’s Pie.


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Recipe: Roasted Tomato Basil and Rice Soup

Normalizing psychiatric care is vital and there are some things everyone should know. I’ve previously discussed stigma and today I wanna address…

Accessibility and Connectivity

Finding a psychiatrist you connect with is like dating, only the stakes are higher. Not only are you looking for someone you get along with personally, you’re searching for the right fit medicinally. You want to be in someone’s care who takes more than 20 minutes every 4-6 months to understand the inner-workings of your mind and know what meds would best compliment your brain chemistry. The consequences of faulty prescription can be lethal.

Couple this ideology with the fact that a new psychiatrist = a fresh emotional upheaval. You’re having to hash out and essentially relive everything that may be helpful for a doctor to know in order to assess your mental health needs. This requires a verbalized excavation of traumatic experiences and it is draining. If the psychiatrist isn’t a good fit, or you move away, or your financial situation changes, or anything happens that causes you to change psychiatrists, the cycle has to start all over again.

Another disconnect that, to me, causes an egregious margin of error is the psychologist / psychiatrist team up. This model has a patient seeing a psychologist frequently who then communicates their thoughts to a psychiatrist who then prescribes you meds. Psychologists cannot prescribe meds and are often cheaper and therefore more accessible. It’s most certainly better than nothing, but to me this kind of one-two punch care leaves too much room for poor communication and faulty, insufficiently monitored RX prescriptions.

The current mental healthcare situation in the United States is dire. Receiving adequate care is a privilege, even a luxury, and that is so, so wrong. Have mercy towards those struggling with mental health issues in the U.S. The system is not currently equipped to support those of us who do, and it is extremely disheartening for folks just trying to live their best life like anyone else.


Stay warm with this delicious, hearty, and healthful tomato soup.

Ingredients

1 1/2 c cooked brown rice
4 1/2 lb plum tomatoes, quartered
10 garlic cloves
3 T olive oil
~1 1/2 t sea salt
1 t black pepper
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 T cane sugar
4 c vegetable broth
1 t thyme
~1/2 c basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Prepare brown rice.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  3. Arrange tomatoes cut side up onto two large, foil-lined baking sheets and drizzle them with two tablespoons of olive oil. Using your hands, stir tomatoes around to coat them well. Sprinkle tomatoes with sea salt and black pepper and place garlic cloves in between them.
  4. Roast the tomatoes for 50 minutes, until browning and juicy. Remove from oven and set aside.
  5. Heat remaining olive oil in a large pot over medium. Add onions, a big pinch of sea salt, and the cane sugar to pot and sauté for about ten minutes, until the onions are golden.
  6. Add roasted tomatoes and garlic (along with all their juices), the vegetable broth, and the thyme to the pot. With a potato masher, mash the tomatoes a bit to help release their liquid.
  7. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Uncovered, simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. In batches, transfer soup to a blender or food processor. Add basil, and puree until smooth.
  9. Return soup to pot and taste. Add extra sea salt and black pepper to taste, if desired.
  10. Finally, stir in rice.

Serves 4-6.

Leftover soup will keep in the fridge for up to five days or freezer for up to two months.

Adapted from Roasted Tomato Basil and Rice Soup.


Today’s my brother’s birthday, and I like him a bunch. Here’s a touching photo of the love we share, featuring approximately one mullet.


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Recipe: Red Cabbage Salad

Ingredients

1/2 c sugar
4 T grated yellow onion
1/2 t caraway seeds
1 t sea salt
1 head red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
1/3 c olive oil
t t black pepper
1 c crumbled blue cheese
1 c sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. Combine sugar, onion, caraway seeds, and sea salt in a large bowl and let sit for one hour.
  2. Add cabbage to marinade and stir to combine.
  3. Add vinegar, oil, and black pepper and mix well.
  4. Top with blue cheese and almonds.

Adapted from The Best Red Cabbage Salad.


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Recipe: Borscht Topped With Sour Cream

Normalizing psychiatric care is vital and there are some things everyone should know.

Stigma

Look, not all of us with mental health issues are blatant, eating other people’s faces on the side of a highway in Florida. Most people who seek or are in need of psychiatric care are average folks you interact with regularly: your colleague, your grandchild, your mail person, your stepdad, the person two people behind you in line at the grocery store, yourself.

Unfortunately it’s common for a lot of people to suffer in silence and confusion. Not only do they need care, but they also often have no idea where to begin in terms of finding the right doctor, are overwhelmed by the expense and, most unnecessary of all, have to deal with the crippling stigma attached to mental health issues.

I think a lot of de-stigmatizing begins with open, judgement-free discussion. There is no shame in seeking mental health care you need, just like there is no shame in having to use a crutch, getting braces, having LASIK, etc. There is no shame in getting help with or correcting something in order to have better quality of life. Empathy and understanding surrounding mental health are paramount. Let’s start today.

Now… borscht!


Borscht is a fabulous, flavorful soup (stew?) that is a staple to the good people of frickin’ freezin’ Russia. So, if you’re weathering frightful weather this February this is a good option. If it’s not cold where you are this soup is A) red and therefore on brand for the month of February and B) a good excuse to pair a meal with vodka. * shrug *

Ingredients

Borscht:
1 T coconut oil
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 t caraway seeds
4 carrots, thinly sliced
3 beets, peeled and diced
3 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 c red cabbage, shredded
6 c vegetable broth
1 T apple cider vinegar
sea salt to taste
black pepper to taste
cashew sour cream
fresh dill, chopped
fresh parsley, chopped

Sour Cream:
1 c cashews
1/2 c water
1 T lemon juice
1 t apple cider vinegar
1/4 t sea salt
1/4 t Dijon mustard

Instructions

Borscht:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about five minutes.
  2. Stir in caraway seeds, cooking for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add carrots, beets, potatoes, and cabbage to pot, stirring to combine.
  4. Pour in vegetable broth and bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to a simmer for 30 minutes until vegetables are tender. (I found beets to be the last to cook and the best veggie to test for doneness.)
  5. Stir in apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and pepper.
  6. To serve, top with cashew sour cream, fresh dill, and parsley.

Sour Cream:

  1. Cover cashews in boiling water and let sit for an hour. Then, drain and rinse.
  2. Combine cashews, water, lemon juice, vinegar, sea salt, and mustard in a blender and blend until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Top each bowl of borscht with a generous dollop. Store leftover sour cream in an airtight container in fridge.

Serves 6-8.

Adapted from Vegan Borscht and Vegan Sour Cream.


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