Life just got a whole lot better because… VEGAN QUESO!

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Really, there are no words. I mean. OH MY GAWD. QUESO. VEGAN QUESO! It’s like savory nectar from the kitchen gods. And is perhaps one of the best things I’ve made. Maybe ever?

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Rich, savory, delicious with just the right amount of spice and umami, this dip got all manner of delicious things dipped and dunked into it. Even a dish or two got smothered by its deliciousness. The fact that it’s gluten free is just icing on the very queso-y cake. And yes, I did just stand in my kitchen eating it with a spoon. No shame. No shame at all. Because it really and truly is that life changing.

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VEGAN QUESO!

(Adapted from The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook‘s Mac and “Cheese” recipe, pp. 62)

1/2 oil or Earth Balance

1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour (besan) or other flour of your choice

3.5 c. boiling water

1.5 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons soy sauce (I used tamari)

1 clove fresh garlic, run through garlic press or very finely minced

dash of turmeric

and additional 1/4 c. oil

1 cup nutritional yeast flakes

dash hot sauce

1 tablespoon finely chopped jalepeno (I used fresh but pickled would work well too)

1 smallish tomato, diced

Melt 1/2 c. Earth Balance or heat oil over medium heat, then whisk in the flour. Continue to stir until the mixture is smooth and bubbly. When you can smell the flour beginning to toast, slowly whip in the water. (It’s going to look realllly watery. Don’t worry, you’re doing everything right. It WILL thicken up.)  Add salt, turmeric, soy sauce, a tiny dash of hot sauce, and garlic and whisk well to incorporate all ingredients. Lower heat to medium-low. Continue to whisk occasionally. The roux will begin to thicken up, slowly but surely. Whip in the remaining 1/4 cup oil and nutritional yeast flakes, adding each slowly. Then add the jalepeno and tomato. Allow to cook until the tomatoes begin to look melty and a nice dip-able consistency has formed.

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Served on top of pudla for brunch the next day. Ermergawd. So. FREAKING GOOD.

Thick, rich, decadent, savory. I’ve been dreaming about this dip since I made it last weekend. It really is the stuff that vegan dreams are made of. Not to mention the possibilities for its uses are endless! Atop tots or fries (I’m imagining a killer chili cheeze fries with this!), on a burger, hot dogs, corn chips, tacos burritos, or stuffed poblano peppers as you will see in my next MOFO post! Until then, MAKE THIS. Eat it on EVERYTHING. You won’t be sorry!

Beer and Sriracha Marinated Tempeh Wings

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When I posted a photograph of this meal on Instagram, I said:

“In case you were wondering, bachelorhood is treating me very well, athankyou. #vegan #glutenfree mac and cheeze, Sriracha tempeh wangs, kickass salad. #vegansofig #veganfoodshare #veganmofo2014 #ladybachelor”

And it’s true.

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I’m enjoying being master of my own culinary universe and creating some delicious things while I’m at it. I’ve always had a penchant for bar food. The kinds of things your order across a deep, dark, mahogany room while drinking a pint of freshly poured draft. It’s my not to secret and not so guilty pleasure. Give me a huge burger smothered in chili, mustard, and raw onions (Carolina style) or give me some cheeze fries. Served in one of those little plastic boat-like baskets on top of waxed paper? Even better.

Veganizing bar food is a passion of mine. I love making the vegan versions of my favorite diner-y, bar foody classics. And when I think bar, I thing WINGS, or WANGS as I like to call them as this variety was never meant for flapping. Pair the nutty richness of tempeh with sriracha (one of my favorite hot sauces) and this meal was the absolute perfect plate to enjoy along with Mystery Science Theater 3000 after a busy week.

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Sriracha Tempeh Wangs

1/2 block tempeh, cut into strips

2 tablespoons sriracha

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari

1 clove minced garlic

1/4 cup beer (I just poured some of my open PBR right into the rest of the marinade)

Whisk ingredients together. Pour about 1/4 of the marinade into the bottom of a lightly greased baking dish. Lay your tempeh strips in the marinade, then pour the rest over top. Allow the flavors to mingle for 2-4 hours, then bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or cook stovetop (what I did) until the sauce has reduced and creates a delicious, savory coating.

Serve hot, with optional dipping sauces if you feel so inclined.

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Alternatively, in a sandwich like the one I made with the leftovers the next day.

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NEW LANDSCAPE

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Went on a hike last weekend to clear my head. Things have gotten quite busy for me around here! I’m so captivated by this new Florida landscape in which I am living. Live oaks, dripping with spanish moss and sporting tiny ferns on their huge branches, palm trees (EVERYWHERE), strange lakes and lagoons with beautiful blue birds who walk on lily pads and alligators in them. Lilly pads and cypress swaps, going way off into the distance. Then there are the regular trees that I know already, sweet gum, oak, and pine all mixed in and covered in even more spanish moss, connected to each other by swooping vines. It’s no wonder Spanish settlers searched for the fabled fountain of youth in the Florida panhandle. Sometimes I catch myself wondering if I might find it.

OMG It’s Mofo, Oops… And chickpeas

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A sinkhole that I went to my first weekend in town. The water is only emerald because it’s so deep. It’s perfectly clear otherwise.

 

So, Mofo has snuck up on me yet again. Oops. I really must change around my blogging sabbaticals so that they don’t coincide with the beginning of Mofo. So, I’m not technically on the blogroll for this year, but I’ll definitely be participating right here in my own way. If you’re not on the blogroll either, you can participate via Instagram. Use the hashtags: #veganmofo and #veganmofo2014 and post as many epic vegan food and lifestyle pics as you can during the month of September! Gosh, it’s already September. And living in Florida I won’t get my beloved fall weather until October I’m told.

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I saw an alligator in this water while hiking!

Can’t wait for snuggly warm nights under blankets, pumpkin beer, and the horror flicks I so relish as I prep for my favorite holiday, Halloween. And by horror flicks I mean that I’ll likely be under a pile of books doing research for my various papers and projects this semester. Gosh. I. LOVE. This. Life. I’m serious. I joke with my colleagues about the pressures of graduate school, but in actuality I can’t recall a time when I’ve been happier. Things have all fallen into place, and I’ve been the force that’s driven them. Wow, that’s a cool feeling. I get to talk to people who love the same things that I love, everyday. I have the most beautiful apartment and I don’t think I’ve ever seen my cat radiate more joy and stability. I’ve been cooking, always a marker of my joy, and eating beautiful, radiant foods. I’m planning a trip to my local farmer’s market tomorrow to get my first taste of local Florida produce. I can’t wait.

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But, moving along… CHICKPEAS. I’m always shouting the goodness of chickpeas to the stars, to the moon, to the gato, to anyone who will listen! They’re hands down my favorite legume, probably for their versatility. Ground, they make an amazing gluten free flour, roast some in the oven and you’ve got a delicious crunchy topping for salads, puréed the little chickpea can be the best spread in the world (hummus) or sweetened up into heavenly desserts. I’ve always got at least a couple of cans in my kitchen to rinse and drain and toss onto a salad or mix up with some various other goodies into a quick dish.

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Like THIS!

Savory Chickpeas With Caramelized Kale and Onions

1 can chickpeas, drained and thoroughly rinsed

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

1 knob ginger, minced

3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup thinly sliced onion, rings separated

Several large handfuls of kale

Over medium-high heat, sauté onions until they begin to brown. Add chick peas, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until chicpeas begin to crisp slightly on the outside. Add kale, mixing to incorporate. Add tamari and lemon juice, continue cooking until all the veggies are caramelized in the soy sauce, and it has reduced into a nice glaze like coating. Remove from heat, served immediately.

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I ate my kale and chickpeas over rice, with some toasted nori and avocado on top all in a big bowl. Divine. If I had a Mofo theme this year, I might just make it chickpeas. Planning another chickpea meal for today, to be served on top of brown basmati rice cooked in saffron and garlic. Stay tuned for that one, folks!