Luscious Vegan Low-Fat/Low-Calorie
Cauliflower Cheese Sauce

This rich, thick and creamy cheese sauce–which contains no added fat and is ridiculously low in calorie–owes a debt of gratitude to Susan Voisin.  I consulted her recipe, but then tweaked the flavor to suit my taste.  It instantly became a staple in my home.

Angela Phillips, my friend and the owner of the yoga studio where I can be found every Saturday and Sunday morning, came over for happy hour on Wednesday evening, bringing with her some lovely baby Romaine.  So, instead of serving the sauce with a spoon as I’d threatened, I served it with Romaine leaves and waffle-cut carrot slices.  So pretty and delicious.  And Angela, who is not a vegan, loved it, reporting this morning when I saw her at the studio, that the leftovers with which I sent her home were delicious with plain broccoli last night.

Our happy hour would have been practically virtuous except that Bob decided to make some of our famous French fries.  Angela and I allowed ourselves a very few and, boy, were they good dipped in this cheese sauce!  I’m quite sure there is not much that wouldn’t be improved with some of this addicting sauce, perfect in taste and texture.  And so easy to boot.

4 cups cauliflower florets

4 cups lightly salted water

Juice of 1/2 medium-large lemon

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons yellow miso paste

1 teaspoon stone ground mustard

1 teaspoon Liquid Aminos

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

In a large bowl, combine cauliflower and water.  Microwave for about 10 to 15 minutes or until very tender.  (Alternatively, you may simmer, partially covered, in a large saucepan over medium to medium-high heat.)  Transfer cauliflower and about a half cup of the water into the bowl of food processor.  Save remaining water.  Process until cauliflower forms a thick paste.  Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl of the processor and process until very smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Transfer to a large saucepan and simmer over medium heat until desired consistency is reached, adding remaining water a half cup or so at a time.  Serve immediately as you would any cheese sauce.  It is delicious for dipping, drizzling, or stirring into casseroles and fillings.  Or…eaten with a spoon.

#vegan #veganrecipes #veganfood #veganfoodshare #veganfoodporn #plantbased #plantbasedrecipes #plantbasedfood #plantbasedfoodshare #plantbasedfoodporn

 

 

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Vegan (Microwave) Cheese Fondue

We decided to eat-in on Valentine’s Day to avoid the crowds on what a friend in the restaurant biz once referred to as “amateur night.”  But we wanted a bit of romance…maybe something we could feed each other little tastes of. Enter fondue.

After researching lots of vegan fondue recipes with potato, rutabaga, and more–and admittedly loving the rutabaga-based fondue at Vedge restaurant in Philly–all of them sounded like lots of work with questionable textures.

As with queso and all of the machinations vegans go through to create a Mexican cheese sauce causing me to wonder, “Why not just melt vegan cheese with Rotel tomatoes?,” and doing it with great success, I decided to veganize a very traditional dairy-based fondue.

I simply swapped out vegan for dairy-based cheese in a recipe by Tyler Florence and I wouldn’t change a thing about the dairy version for Bob nor the vegan version for me. Swiss is traditional, but if you can’t find vegan Swiss, cheddar is lovely too.

We own a fondue pot, but for just the two of us, we didn’t want to break it out because we didn’t want to make that large of a quantity. I wasn’t sure if microwaving would work, but a gratin dish in the mic seemed more fondue pot-like than a saucepan, and it worked beautifully.

Yield: 1 serving (easily doubles; if you double perhaps use 2 gratin dishes)

1/4 pound vegan cheddar or Swiss cheese, shredded

In a small bowl, coat the cheese with cornstarch and set aside. Rub the inside of a small ceramic gratin dish with the cut sides of the garlic clove halves, and then discard.

Using full power in the microwave, heat the wine and lemon juice and bring to bubbling, 30 seconds or so. Stir the cheese into the liquid and heat 30 seconds at a time, whisking in between, until melted. Once cheese is melted and smooth, stir in cherry brandy, mustard, and nutmeg.

Serve immediately on a wooden cheese board or platter with dippers. Gently reheat  fondue and whisk as necessary.

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Vegan Ro*tel “Velveeta” Dip or Sauce
The BEST Hot Vegan Cheese Dip or Sauce
Get Your Super Bowl Game On!

This is the old school recipe my way…

And hopefully I am not posting this too late for your Super Bowl festivities.

Recently, a local vegan bakery advertised their vegan “chick-un” nugget platter with “cheese” sauce for the Super Bowl.  I was curious about the sauce because, fairly recently in researching vegan cheese sauces online, there was a baffling array of sauces made with potatoes, eggplant, cashews and more.  But I was highly skeptical and  wondered to myself at the time, “Why not just melt some vegan cheese?”   And I shied away from experimenting.  But, Friday, I purchased some of the advertised sauce on the way to school to enjoy with my lunch at my desk.  It was a nice texture and lovely color, but it tasted oddly of garlic and mustard, ingredients I have used in vegan cheese spreads, but better camouflaged than that. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t taste convincingly like cheese.

So, I looked up the old recipe from my childhood–10 ounces of Ro*tel tomatoes and 1 pound of Velveeta–and purchased some Ro*tel yesterday on my grocery store run.  The cheese I had on hand.  Velveeta is so processed that it always reminded me of what would happen if orange vinyl were sold in blocks, so I figured that vegan cheese would be a shoe-in.  This morning I melted it in the microwave with the So Delicious vegan shredded cheeses I had on hand–both cheddar and cheddar-jack–and I was right!  I needed look no further for my go-to cheese sauce.  And, shamefully, I fantasized almost all the way through my yoga class, buying some jalapeno-lime corn chips on the way home and diving in.

Granted, this is not health food folks.  It is an occasional splurge.  And with the price of vegan cheese, it’s not cheap.  But it is super simple, lightening fast, and delicious.  It contains no nuts as some cheese sauces do, but it does contain soy.  However, soy is not even a whisper of a problem for me and hopefully not for you.

Plus, I can think of a million ways to use it.  It is hard to beat, plain, as a hot dip for chips.  But why not add corn, black beans, green chilies, vegan sausage, cooked diced potato, or some of all and enjoy it as a chunkier dip, as a sauce for nachos, a filling for enchiladas, or even as a base for a casserole, say potato and Poblano?  Or simply kick it up with some cumin, coriander, chili powder, or lime juice?

While your wheels are turning, why not make a batch and munch on it with some crispy chips?

Vegan Ro*tel “Velveeta” Dip

1 10-ounce can Ro*tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies, mild or spicy

1 pound shredded vegan cheese (I like So Delicious cheddar and cheddar-jack sold in 8 ounce packages)

Optional garnish: chopped fresh garnish

Place in a microwave safe bowl or a double boiler and heat until melted, stirring frequently, approximately 8 minutes.  Whisk for a smoother finished product.  Serve warm with chips and a sprinkling of chopped fresh cilantro.

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Vegan Cheesy Buffalo Chickpea-Tater Tot Casserole

Bob and I hosted our 2nd Annual Christmas Day open house again this year. It is amazing how many people are available on Christmas afternoon. We started at 3:30 and went on for hours. 35 people graced our home with their love, laughter, and warmth, creating such a special holiday.

Oh, and they also graced it with lovely and delicious vegan food. Last year, because we were hosting Christmas dinner for Bob’s family afterwards, I just did sweets and cider. This year, generous guests wanted to bring much more food and I didn’t turn them down on their gracious offers.

Our good friend, Juan Gelpi, loves my hot buffalo chickpea dip, so I made some in my never before used deluxe stainless steel Crock-Pot, and I will definitely do that again.

With some leftovers and a house guest for the week who we ended up taking out for most every finner, I didn’t want any spoilage and waste, so I decided to make Juan and his wife, Barbara, both excellent vegan cooks, a casserole out of the leftover dip.

Let’s just say that these two serious foodies gave it a big thumbs up.  And I hope you do too. Honestly, there i nothing not to like about this intensely comforting and satisfying casserole.

1-20 ounce package white or sweet potato tater tots, baked according to package directions ( I used Alexia brand Sweet Potato Puffs)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cup celery, diced

3/4 + 1/4 cup cup sliced green onions

3 cups Vegan Cheesy Baked Buffalo Chickpea Dip, at room temperature

(http://www.thebloomingplatter.com/vegan-appetizers/vegan-baked-buffalo-dipbetsys-best)

1/2 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese or cheddar cheese blend

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add celery and saute, stirring frequently, until softened. Add 3/4 cup green onions and continue sauteing a couple of minutes just until slightly wilted. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine sauteed vegetables, baked tater tots, and dip.  Spoon into a greased casserole dish, sprinkle with grated cheddar and remaining 1/4 cup green onions. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.

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Vegan Cheesy Baked Buffalo Chickpea Dip
Betsy’s Best!

So sorry I’ve been away for so long…

The start of school–especially a year like this with great kids but a punishing schedule–always creates a bit of a hiatus from The Blooming Platter.  Add to that either food poisoning or a stomach virus the last two days of the first week of school, and food was of little interest to me for quite a while.

However, the first thing I wanted to eat after 2 days of being flat on my back in bed too weak to even feed the dogs–I had to call Bob home from work the first day when I couldn’t rouse myself by about 9 a.m.–was a vegan Buffalo “Chicken” pizza slice from Whole Foods.  It proved to be a bit too much of a good thing and I couldn’t finish it.  But, something about those hot-n-tangy Buffalo flavors still sounded good.  So, the next weekend when I made my regular Whole Foods stop after weekend yoga classes, I plopped some vegan Buffalo seitan bites atop some kale messaged with tahini dressing, and it was a revelation.

Then, yesterday, our generous administration and counseling office at school hosted a “social” during lunch–a lunch teachers can never take–and because they specifically told me they had vegan leftovers, I went down after my last class and enjoyed some veggies, fruit and crackers.  But there on the buffet table was a baked Buffalo dip and I knew I had to recreate it my way.  And soon.

So that’s what I did today after researching some recipes, making some mental changes, stopping at Whole Foods, and testing it out for lunch. Wow!  It is so delicious that I was afraid I might devour half a recipe.  But it is so rich and satisfying that, honestly, just a small serving is perfect. Even Bob had to admit that it was “not bad,” a glowing endorsement from his omnivorous self.

The main recipe I decided to veganize was quite  basic: cream cheese, ranch dressing, grated cheese, hot sauce, and canned chicken.  Another recipe I consulted also called for ranch dressing which I found puzzling since blue cheese dressing is the typical accompaniment to Buffalo wings.  So, I was elated when I found Daiya brand blue cheese dressing and decided to substitute it.

For my version, I also used vegan cream cheese, So Delicious shredded jack and cheddar blend, Pete’s hot sauce (I didn’t have Frank’s on-hand), and chickpeas in place of the chicken.  However, I feel sure that the original protein must add a depth of flavor, so I used 1 vegan no-chicken bouillon cube. It does up the salt level, so if you are hyper-sensitive to salt, you might want to omit.

The rich and creamy mixture was plenty tangy without additional vinegar, but I felt it did need a hint of butter used in standard Buffalo sauce recipes, so I added 1 tablespoon of Earth Balance.

Also, I think everything savory is better with garlic and onion–an opinion Bob and I share–so I added minced garlic and, because he doesn’t care for cooked onion, I used finely sliced green onion both in the dip and over the top when its lusciousness emerged from the oven the first time I prepared it, and immediately after spooning it into the crockpot the second time.

Again, I pronounce the end result perfection scooped up with celery sticks; Bob a “not bad” scooped up with Fritos; and that, friends, means that it is a winner for you and your carnivorous pals.

Vegan Cheesy Baked Buffalo Chickpea Dip

2-8 ounce cartons vegan cream cheese

3/4 cup Frank’s hot sauce

1 cup vegan Blue “Cheese” or Ranch Dressing (I used Daiya brand, but you might try Just brand Ranch if you can’t find Daiya Blue “Cheese”)

1 cup shredded vegan cheddar, jack cheese or a combination (I used the So Delicious brand combo)

1 vegan no-chicken bouillon cube

2 large cloves garlic minced

2-15 ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup + 1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced

Accompaniment: fresh celery sticks and/or chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil or spray a small baking or au gratin dish with non-stick cooking spray. (If using crockpot, don’t preheat, but do sray removable dish compartment eith nobstick spray.)  Place all ingredients except chickpeas and green onions in a large saucepan over low heat.  Stir frequently until cheeses melt and the mixture is thick and creamy.  Stir in chickpeas and 1 cup of the green onion.  If baking, spoon into prepared dish and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, sprinkle with reserved green onion, and serve immediately with fresh celery sticks and/or chips.

If using crockpot, spoon mixture into dish compartment of unit, set to medium, sprinkle with reserved green onion, cover, heat until bubbly, and then reduce setting to low.

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Vegan Parmesan Crisps
Yes!

Yield: 4 crisps (recipe easily multiplies, but they are rich)

Yesterday, I purchased a new carton of Follow Your Heart brand vegan parmesan for a dinner party last night. But about 3 tablespoons remained in the previous carton. Wanting to save room in the fridge, I was about to combine them when the Parmesan Crisp idea struck.

I was afraid of a failed gooey or frizzled up failure, but 3 tablespoons wasn’t a huge gamble.  Wow!  I needn’t have been concerned. The results were company-worthy.

I squirted a little Just brand vegan Ceasar dressing on top and garnished with a sliver of marinated red pepper and a sprig of rosemary, as these are perfectly firm enough to pick up, sturdy enough for a topping, and both crispy and chewy.

They are delightful and deeply satisfying.

Vegan Parmesan Crisps

3/4 cup Follow Your Heart brand Non-Dairy Parmesan Cheese (it is sold shredded)

Toppings and garnishes of choice

Lightly spray a skillet with nonstick spray and place over medium heat. Using 3 tablespoons each of the parmesan cheese, make 4 mounds and then carefully  press them out with your fingers or a fork into a fairly flat pancake shape. Cook a couple of minutes or until cheese melts, holds together in a disk, becomes crispy around edges, and is lightly browned on underside. Flip with a spatula and cook just another 20 or 30 seconds. They should flip very easily. *Adjust temperature as necessary.  You may want to make one test crisp to determine correct time and temo on your range before making a batch.  Top as desired or offer options and let guests top their own.

*Note: I have a very powerful new range and what used to require medium-high heat, now takes medium or even low heat.

 

 

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Vegan Cauliflower Nachos with Best Vegan Queso

­Yield: 2 servings

To make these addicting vegan roasted cauliflower nachos, you will need part of a recipe of my amazing Vegan Queso.

I studied a number of recipes, omitting and adding ingredients to suit my palate.  I arrived at something so delicious that I think you might use it to replace whatever your current favorite vegan cheese sauce is.

I know that’s a bold statement, and I know everyones’ palates are different, but even my picky omnivorous guy liked it. And him liking it is equivalent to someone else loving it.

Vegetable cooking spray

One head of cauliflower, trimmed and separated into florets

Sea salt to taste

Ground cumin to taste

Smoked paprika to taste

About 1/2 cup my Vegan Queso

2 tablespoons can of chopped green chilies, drained

Assorted toppings: black beans, drained, pico de gallo, sliced green onions, sliced black olives, vegan sour cream, fresh cilantro sprigs, or whatever you love piled on nachos

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a metal baking sheet with vegetable spray and spread cauliflower out on it in one even layer. Spray cauliflower with vegetable spray and sprinkle lightly with sea salt, cumin, and smoked paprika. Roast for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, stir 2 tablespoons chopped green chilies into 1/2 cup vegan queso, or to taste.  Remove cauliflower from oven, divide between serving dishes, top with queso, return to oven for two to five minutes, carefully remove, place serving dishes on a plate, and top as desired before presenting.

 

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Betsy’s Best Vegan Queso

I used to never be without a crock of my homemade vegan cheese spread in the refrigerator; it was a staple. But then a Whole Foods market opened in our area and I began exploring their prepared cheeses which was a whole new delicious world.

Recently, however, I’ve been interested in making my own vegan queso for nachos, probably over cauliflower chips, but stay tuned for that.

So, as usual, I did some research but really didn’t find what I wanted. There was one promising recipe, but it included potato which sounded starchy and not the right flavor or consistency for a cheese sauce, though folks online seemed enthused.

However, the recipe also called for carrots, and I did include them, but I combined them with cashews, a key ingredient in my cheese spreads. That was the base to which I added pimentos, which I found in another recipe, nutritional yeast, and beer which I consider one of my greatest contributions to the vegan homemade cheese world. Feel free to use non-alcoholic beer if you don’t imbibe.

There are just a few other goodies, as you will see below, so it goes together simply and quickly. It is a beautiful color and an outstanding flavor and consistency.  I would suggest that you make it as is the first time, as I worked diligently to achieve just what my palate craved.  HOWEVER, food is nothing of not personal (and political), so alter as you see fit if it doesn’t quite suit you.

I’m not going to eat it tonight because I’m not hungry enough to fully enjoy it, but I plan to have nachos one night this week and will certainly share. In the meantime, the darn stuff is quite delicious off the tip of a spoon.

Note: To create a spicy queso for the outrageous Vegan Cauliflower Nachos depicted, simply stir canned chopped green chilies into the queso in whatever ratio you prefer and gently heat.

4 cups water
2 cups raw carrot pieces
2 cups raw cashew piece
3 ounces diced pimentos, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup vegan beer or non-alcoholic beer
Juice of 1/2 large lemon
2 teaspoons Liquid Aminos
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Sea salt to taste

In a medium saucepan, combine water, carrots, and cashew pieces. Bring to a simmer, losely covered, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off, cover tightly, and leave sitting for several hours. Then blend carrot mixture in a food processor with all remaining ingredients, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Heat gently in a saucepan or in the microwave before serving.

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Blooming Platter Recipes Posted On GO Veggie! Website: Vegan Smoky Cheddar Spread and Vegan Southwest Mac-n-Cheese!

GO Veggie! recently posted to their website two of my newest recipes made with their delicious vegan cheese products. Check out the cheesy goodness:

Vegan Smoky Cheddar Spread

Vegan Southwest Mac-n-Cheese

Go Veggie Smoky Cheddar Spread

 

Southwestern Mac-n-Cheese--horizontal

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