Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Gametime Snacks: Cashew Queso

Only a few more days until the big game! I thought I might take a little break from buffalo flavored snacks and, instead, in my continuing effort to provide you with the best vegan gametime snacks, here is my favorite Queso recipe. It is from my and Celine's new book Vegans Go Nuts! which will be out later this year.

Cashew Queso

*Oil-Free Option *Soy-Free *Gluten-Free
This makes a ton of queso. Perfect for putting in a crock pot to keep warm at a get together. It’s also pretty awesome to stir in a can (or two) of your favorite vegan chili. You can also pack it up in Jars and keep it refrigerated (or frozen) until you are ready to use it. Or…simply cut the recipe in half and you will still have plenty of queso to last for several dip and chip sessions. If you want to save time, you can stir in some of your favorite salsa at the end, instead of chopping up all of those fresh veggies.

1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces, or 681 g) peeled red potatoes, cubed
2 cups (224 g) cashews, soaked overnight or boiled, rinsed and drained
1 cup (235 ml) vegetable broth (for dip, add more for sauce)
1/4 cup (30 g) nutritional yeast
1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil, optional
2 tablespoons (30 ml) lime juice
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (or cayenne) to taste
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup (252 g) finely diced tomatoes
1/2 cup (50 g) finely diced green onion
1/2 cup (80 g) finely diced red onion
1 whole fresh jalapeno, finely diced (you can leave in, or take out the seeds, your preference)
Salt and pepper to taste

Add potatoes to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
Boil until very tender. Drain.
Add boiled potatoes, and the rest of the ingredients, through the cumin, to a blender and puree until silky smooth. Add additional vegetable broth to get to your desired consistency; Less for dip or more for sauce.
Stir in remaining ingredients.
Store in an airtight container until ready to use. (up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator and indefinitely in the freezer.)
To use, add desired amount to a microwave safe dish and heat on high in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until warmed through.
Place in a pot and heat over low heat, constantly stirring, until warmed through.
Add to a crockpot, heat to desired temperature, then switch to low or keep warm.

Yield: about 5 cups (1175 ml)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Gametime Snacks: Beer Battered Buffalo Mac and Cheese Balls

I am sure having a blast planning and testing out some deep fried deliciousness for the big game next Sunday. A few years back I featured a recipe for deep fried mac and cheese balls in my and Celine's book Home Cooked Vegan Comfort Food. And they were delicious...But, I felt for a game as important as the 50th, I needed to step it up a notch.  And as I said in my previous post, buffalo is a must for gameday. I also changed the batter up to include an almost corndog like flavor. Crispy and crunchy on the outside, rich and creamy on the inside. They aren't too spicy, just a hint of heat. That way you can add extra heat to your liking with a variety of dipping sauces! (As if deep fried mac and cheese wasn't good enough on its own...)

Me? I'm a sucker for a liberal drizzle versus a dip, so I choose to serve them up in paper hot dog trays just dripping with sauce (in this case Follow Your Heart Vegan Bleu Cheese and Spicy Buffalo Aioli (below) made with O'Brother That's Hot! Habanero Hot Sauce) and healthy dose of Sweet and Smoky Chipotle Seasoning (below) and a sprinkling of green onions to keep it bright.

Beer Battered Buffalo Mac and Cheese Balls

These are really easy to make, but I still recommend doing it in two days. Make the mac and cheese, scoop and freeze the balls on day one, then batter and fry on day two. Makes it seem like it doesn't take as long. Haha. And please note, this recipe yields about 50 to 60 balls! I mean if you are going to, or hosting a party, that's perfect, but if you are just watching the big game in your PJs with your partner, like I am, well, you might want to cut the recipe in half. (Or you could make a full batch of the mac, use half of it for balls, and eat the rest of it with a spoon!)

For the Buffalo Mac and Cheese:
1 pound (454 g) dry elbow macaroni
1 cup (112 g) shredded vegan cheese (I used Daiya Cheddar Shreds)
8 ounces (227 g) vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese)
1/4 cup (60 ml) hot sauce 
1/4 cup (56 g) vegan butter (I used Earth Balance Buttery Spread)
1/4 cup (30 g) nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons (28 g) vegan mayo (I used Follow Your Heart Vegenaise)
1 tablespoon (15 g) prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon (8 g) onion powder
1 tablespoon (8 g) garlic powder
salt, to taste

To make the mac and cheese, prepare macaroni according to package directions, strain and return to pot. Stir in all of the other ingredients and mix well until thoroughly melted and combined. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment or a reusable baking mat. Using a mini ice cream scoop, or a spoon, scoop about 2 to 3 tablespoons of mac and cheese into balls and arrange on the baking sheet. Place in the freezer to harden. (This step is essential, otherwise you will never be able to batter your balls!)

For the Beer Batter:
2 1/2 cups (313 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (210 g) yellow corn meal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
2 cups (470 ml) vegan beer, IPAs work great here (use Barnivore to check if your beer is vegan!)
1/2 cup (120 ml) hot sauce
1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened vegan milk (I used almond)
1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
2 tablespoons (30 ml) agave nectar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
Oil for frying

In a large mixing bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet. Add the dry to the wet and mix until well combined and no lumps are present.

If you have a deep fat fryer, now is a good time to use it. If not, us a deep pot (I use a small one, when I am not using the deep fryer, so I don't waste too much oil) filled with at least 3-inches (7.5-cm) of oil heated to 350 F.

Have ready a tray lined with paper towels. Batter your balls, one at a time, using tongs. Carefully transfer battered ball to the hot oil and fry until golden and crispy, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a tray to absorb excess oil. Repeat with remaining balls.

Spicy Buffalo Aioli

This easy to make sauce is great for dipping these balls in, but also tastes pretty f'ing amazing on an assortment of finger foods!

1/4 cup (56 g) vegan butter, melted (I used Earth Balance Buttery Spread)
1/4 cup  (60 ml) hot sauce (the spicier the hot sauce, the spicier the aioli)
3/4 cup (168 g) vegan mayo (I used Follow Your Heart Vegenaise)

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to use. If you wanna get fancy, put it in a squeezy bottle for delicious drizzling.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups (295 ml)

Sweet and Spicy Smoked Chipotle Seasoning

I took a cue from my own playbook (see what I did there?) and was thinking about how great the spicy smoked pepper shake I made with Jackie for our hush puppies and thought these balls could use a little of that same love!

2 tablespoons smoked sea salt
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper

Place all ingredients into a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder and grind into a superfine powder. Transfer to a shaker. Use liberally on anything you want to add a sweet, smoky, spicy flavor.

Yield: 1/4 cup (32 g)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Gametime Snacks: Buffalo Polenta Fries

It simply ain't gametime without Buffalo something! I have been lazy the last few years, simply reposting my Toffalo Wings recipe every time this time of year rolls around. Not this year. This year I am going buffalo crazy. Last week I posted my recipe for Buffalo Peanut Sushi (are you and your friends brave enough to try it on gameday?) and today I give you Buffalo Polenta Fries!

Buffalo Polenta Fries

These Polenta Fries can be baked or fried, and I actually think they taste better baked. I know, who am I? Either way you decide to make them, make sure you serve them up with celery sticks and some Follow Your Heart Vegan Bleu Cheese Dressing to dip 'em in.

6 cups (1410 ml) water
2 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups (273 g) dry uncooked polenta (corn grits)
1/2 cup (112 g) vegan butter
1/2 cup (120 ml) hot sauce (I used Red Rooster Louisiana Hot Sauce on these, but any hot sauce will work!)

Bring water to a boil in a large. Stir in salt.
Slowly whisk in polenta. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to stir until polenta is thick and creamy (kinda like Cream of Wheat) which will take about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in butter and hot sauce until fully melted and mixed in.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. I like to make the parchment sheet larger than the pan so I can easily lift the whole sheet of polenta out of the pan when it's cool, making it easier to cut.
Spread polenta in an even layer on the lined baking sheet, smoothing it with a spatula.
Place in the refrigerator for a few hours to cool and stiffen up.

Once cool, use a pizza cutter, or sharp knife to cut into fingers about 1/2-inch (1.3-cm) wide by 3-inches (7.5-cm) long.
To bake: Preheat oven to 425 F. Arrange fries in a single layer with about 1/2-inch (1.3-cm) in between fries on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a reusable baking mat. Lightly spray with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes, flip and bake an additional 20 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

To fry: If you have a deep fat fryer, this is a good time to use it. If not, fill a small deep pot with at least 3-inches (7.5-cm) of oil. The polenta fries need to be fully submerged, and only a few can cook at a time, because they stick to each other like mad. A frying pan doesn't work the best for these because they will stick to the bottom, and the polenta pops quite a lot while frying, so it's best to use a deep vessel. Heat the oil to 350 (you can test the oil by dipping the end of a polenta fry in the oil. If it sizzles, the oil is hot enough. Add just a few to the oil and allow to fry, fully submerged for about 3 minutes. Carefully remove, using tongs, and transfer to a paper towel lined tray to absorb excess oil.

Yield: about 50 fries

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2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, or remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni