cashews · cheese · greens · jalapeno · mac and cheese · pasta · vitamix · weeknight

Weeknight Vegan Mac and Cheese

The football offseason is officially upon us but that doesn’t mean we should stop making epic foods! I understand many people, including myself, are crunched for time after work. Easy and delicious recipes are tough to come by, especially those with a wow factor.

This recipe comes together in about 30 minutes and will blow you away with how good it is.  Here is where it definitely pays to have a Vitamix or else you’ll need to soak the nuts and work at it in a regular blender. Pair this with some bbq seitan cutlets (that I like to keep in the freezer) and a steamed veggie side. While similar to past mac and cheese dishes found on this website (Tailgate Mac and Cheese and Chili Mac and Cheese), this version is much simpler without losing any of that creamy delicious flavor. 
If you don’t have sunflower or sesame seeds feel free to use all cashews. If you a nut allergy, use all seeds. Gluten intolerance? Use your favorite gluten free pasta as this sauce is naturally gluten (and soy) free. You can make everyone happy this week for dinner, enjoy!

Prep 10 mins ∙ Cook 20 mins ∙ Makes 8 servings


  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Water or veggie broth to cover
  • ⅓ cup raw cashews
  • ⅓ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ⅓ cup raw sesame seeds or tahini
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 16 oz whole wheat pasta of choice
  • 1 jalapeño chopped and quickly sautéed (optional)
  • A handful of greens, chopped (optional)


1. Toss the sweet potato, carrots, onion and garlic in a small pot and barely cover with the water or broth. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minuted or until soft.
2. Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water and cook the pasta according to the directions. I like to add a large handful of greens during the last 5 minutes of cooking to make it more healthy!
3. In a vitamix (if not using a high speed blender, please soak your seeds/nuts accordingly) add the cashews, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, spices and the contents of the veggie pot, including water or broth. Blend until creamy.
4. Mix together the cheesey sauce and drained pasta. Toss the jalapeño if you want so kick or serve with your favorite hot sauce.

cashew cheese · cashews · cheese · grilling · liquid smoke · mushrooms · sandwich · smoked · tailgate · vegan · vital wheat gluten · vitamix

Grilled Vegan Cheesesteaks

Week 9 Browns v. Bucs

The vegan tailgate is going strong! Not to be confused with the Bucks of Ohio State, the Browns took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past weekend in Cleveland. Perfect football weather made for perfect tailgate conditions. And the Brown won! The Browns have a winning record and this recipe was quite the crowd pleaser. 

This is another seitan recipe, so if you follow the blog you are basically an expert by now! It is my take on Philly Cheesesteaks, inspired by the Vegan Zombie. Everything, except the buns, is made from scratch, so you’ll need to set aside a few hours the night before the game to make everything. Also, this doesn’t have to be made in the parking lot and can be made at home very easily. Great for away games!

The key here is the tender, thinly shaved seitan and homemade herbed cashew cheese.  They pair together very well with grilled marinated peppers, onions and mushrooms. Load these sandwiches up the brim and expect a mess. We used a little BBQ or Sriracha on top and served alongside a roasted cauliflower and peanut salad with peanut dressing. Enjoy!


Seitan dry ingredients:

The seitan after baking for 90 minutes in homemade stock

1 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

Seitan wet ingredients:

1 cup vegetable stock
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp liquid smoke

2 cloves of shredded garlic

Ground pepper to taste

Stock for seitan:

1 1/2 cup vegetable stock

1 diced onion

4 smashed cloves garlic

2 bay leaves

1/4 agave nectar

1 tsp chili powder

1 tbsp dried parsley

1/2 bunch of fresh thyme

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp molasses

2 cups water

Herbed cashew cheese:

Herbed cashew cheese block

1 cup cashews raw

1-1/2 cups water (and more if you need to soak your nuts)

2 tsp agar agar powder OR 2 tbsp agar agar flakes (this can be hard to find but most health food stores carry it)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp onion powder

1 tsp smoked salt (or just regular salt)

1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 cup fresh herbs (I used basil and oregano)


3 bell peppers
2 medium onions
8 oz. mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. Fresh herbs (I used thyme and oregano)
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. agave nectar
1 tbsp. rice vinegar

8 Hoagie rolls

-Preheat the oven to 375
-Combine the wet and dry ingredients and form a dough. Roll into a log and place in a covered casserole dish (I used a roasting pan)

-Bring all the ingredients for the stock to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes

-Pour the stock in casserole dish to cover seitan. Cover and bake 375 for 45 minutes (Note: baste the seitan if it didn’t quite cover it every 20 minutes or so). Then flip seitan and continue to cook for 45 hour uncovered.
-Meanwhile make the cheese: Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and add the agar agar. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Turn down the heat to simmer and cook another 5 minutes, stirring constantly until the agar is dissolved completely.

-Put the cashews into the blender with all the remaining ingredients. Pour in the agar mixture and Blend on high until very smooth.

-Pour into a glass dish or non-stick pan (if you think it will stick then spray with vegetable oil.) Refrigerate until firm. Remove the cheese by running a knife or spatula around the edge and it will pop out of the container.
-For the veggies, slice the peppers, onions, mushrooms and garlic and place in a sealed bag or container. Add lime juice, soy sauce, agave, rice vinegar and herbs and let marinate until ready to grill.
-Once the seitan is done, let cool and wrap up in foil, along with cheese, until its tailgate time.
-Grill the peppers, onions and mushrooms until charred. Set aside
-Shave the seitan using a grater or sharp knife. Grill in a grill pan or cast iron skillet.

-Grate this cheese using a box grater. toss on the seitan in the last few minutes to soften.
-Toast the buns on the grill and assemble the sandwiches to your liking

Marinating the veggies the night before

Grilled veggies

Shredded seitan
I used my cast iron skillet on the grill
The sandwiches can be served with your favorite side dish
Ready to take a bite!

beets · daiya cheese · grilling · tempeh · vegan · veggie burgers · vital wheat gluten · vitamix

Veggie Burger Off 2014: Beet Bacon Cheeseburgers

Week 9 Browns vs. Ravens

The last time the Browns beat Baltimore I was a senior in college.  11 straight losses and a Super Bowl win later, the Ravens came to town in a much-hyped matchup. A 4:30 game meant the tailgate had “bonus hours.”  Add that to a bonus hour from daylight savings time and we had a recipe for an amazing tailgate.  A great time to hold the annual Veggie Burger Off, where I ask all vegans to bring their best veggie burger to grill.

Last year’s edition of the Veggie Burger Off ended in bitter disappointment for me, as my friend Rob stole the show with his Spicy Bean Burgers.  This year I was determined not to drop the ball.

Many people in Ohio and beyond claim that Northstar Cafe in Columbus has the best veggie burgers.  They are made with beets, black beans and brown rice for a meaty texture and unbelievably simple and delicious flavor.  My intention for the veggie burger off was replicate it and then take it to another level.  Instead of just black beans, I used red kidney beans.  I also topped it off with some tempeh bacon and melty daiya provolone cheese slices.  A recipe for success… Enjoy!


Gator wanted me to drop something!
  • 1 lb. beets, roasted
  • 1/2 dry brown rice, cooked (slightly mushy)
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/2 cup dried black beans, cooked (or use 1 can)
  • 1/2 cup dried kidney beans, cooked (or use 1 can)
  • 1/4 cup prunes, chopped small
  • 2 tbsp. mustard of choice
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp. ground flax mixed in 3 tbsp. hot water)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package tempeh bacon (I used Lightlife Brand Organic Smokey Tempeh Strips)
  • 1 package Daiya Provolone Deli Slices 
  • Buns
  1. Wash beets, remove greens and wrap tightly in foil.  Roast at 425 for about an hour.  Let cool in the foil packet so skin loosens.  
    1. Meanwhile, sauteé onion for 10 minutes over medium heat.  Add garlic and sauteé for another minute.
    2. Pour half of the beans into a food processor or vita-mix.  Add the prunes and pulse.  You want to chop the beans but you don’t want to blend them.  

      Looks gooooood
    3. Peel and grate the beets once they are cooled.  Pressed the beet shavings into a colander and drain as much juice as possible (I had a shot of beet juice left over!)
    4. Add the onion/garlic mix, beans (both chopped and whole), beets, vinegar, mustard and spices to a large bowl.  Mix.
      1. Then add wheat gluten and flax egg.  Mix again.
      2. Put it in the fridge over night or at least an hour to set.
      3. When your ready to grill, wrap the tempeh bacon in foil and poke a few holes.  Place it on the hot part of the grill for 15 minutes. 
      4. Meanwhile, form the patties and place on a well oiled grill grate.  Cook 5 minutes each side.
      5. Once you flip the burgers, place a slice of provolone on top.  
      6. Assemble your burger and enjoy!
      Wrap tight!
      Hot beets
      Bean chop
      Veggie burgers on the grill
      Award winning
      Mmmmm yum!
      appetizer · dessert · nutritional yeast · super bowl · super bowl party · vitamix

      Vegan Super Bowl Party 2013

      The Super Bowl is just around the corner and its time to start thinking about what to bring to the party.  For one, you don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb.  I brought cayenne kale chips to a party last year and was on the receiving end of furrowed brows.  Needless to say the chips were good, people couldn’t quite make the leap to kale chips with all the meat and cheese on the table.

      On the other hand, you do want to make something that will stand out for its unique taste and memorable ingredients.  The Super Bowl embodies American flare and exuberance.  Everything is over the top, and everyone participates in some way.  Go beyond setting out a crudite tray with hummus and chips and salsa.

      Finally, the Super Bowl, like a tailgate, is about sharing.  Be mindful of how much you make, even though you may be the only one eating it, because people want to try new things.  Im sure if you follow these recipes, everyone will remember your dish over Beyonce’s halftime show.  Maybe you’ll start someone down the path to healthy, plant based eating.  Enjoy! (check Twitter @holdthepigskin the night of the game for my pictures)

      The Menu:

      Tomato Queso Dip
      Buffalo Tempeh Wings
      Chocolate Kale Chips

      Additional items at the Vegan Super Bowl:

      Bobby is making Caramelized Onion Buffalo Tarts and potentially BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Sandwiches
      Chris is making some sort of Vegan Buffalo Chicken Dip (the link is a google image search of Vegan Buffalo Chicken Dip.  Your mouth will water…)
      I can convince my mom to make Guac to go with the Queso dip below and maybe some other dessert (love you mom!)

      Tomato Queso Dip (adapted from Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson)


      • 1/4 cup cashews
      • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained 
      • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
      • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
      • 1 teaspoon onion powder
      • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
      • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder 
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
      • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
      • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
      • Freshly ground pepper, to taste


      1. Grind the cashews in your spice grinder until powdered, about 30 seconds.
        Image from
      2. Place the tomatoes with juice in your blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add the ground cashews, nutritional yeast, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, and salt, and blend until smooth.
      3. Lightly oil the insert of the slow cooker or spray it with cooking spray, and transfer the queso mixture to the cooker.
      4. Stir in the water until well incorporated (use less for a thicker dip, you can add more later if it thickens too much).
      5. Cover and cook on Low, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours, or until the mixture is thick and hot. If the mixture isn’t thick after 2 hours, turn the setting to High, remove the lid, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes longer.
      6. When ready to serve, spoon about 1/3 cup of the queso into a small bowl, stir in the lemon juice, then stir the mixture back into the slow cooker.
      7. Taste, add pepper to taste, and adjust the seasonings, if needed.

      Image from
      Sriracha-Habanero Tempeh Wings (adapted from
      • 2 8 oz packages of tempeh
      • 1 cup rice milk
      • 2/3 cup flour
      • 1 tsp salt
      • 1 tbp thyme
      • 2 tsp paprika
      • fresh ground pepper, to taste
      • 1 tsp garlic powder
      • 1 and 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
      • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
      • 1 and 1/2 cup sriracha
      • 5 or 6 habeneros, diced (with seeds!)
      1. In a small saucepan, boil about three cups of water. Cut the tempeh into four equal blocks, then cut those blocks into triangles, and carefully slice the triangles in half lengthwise. Put the tempeh in the boiling water and cover, for about fifteen mintes or until tempeh is softened. Pour the pan into a colander and rise with cold water. Allow the tempeh to cool enough that you can handle it.
      2. While the tempeh is cooling, make the sauce. In a large pot, melt margarine and briefly sautree the habeneros.  Add the siriacha and set aside.
      3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
      4. Make your assembly line for the wings. Put your soymilk in the first bowl, your flour and spices in the second, and your panko in the third. At the end of the line, have a greased baking sheet waiting.
      5. Take a triangle, and dip it in the milk, then coat in flour. Then another quick dip in the milk before thoroughly coating it in the bread crumbs and placing it on the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the tempeh.
      6. Spray the tops of the wings with cooking spray, and bake in the oven for ten minutes. Remove, flip over, and bake for ten more. Just before you take the wings out of the oven, heat the sauce over a medium heat until just warm – there’s no need to boil it, we’re just trying to make sure the sauce isn’t cold.
      7. When you take the wings out, immediately transfer them to the pot and coat in the sauce. Serve immediately.
      8. Optional Cooling Sauce (for the faint at heart): 1/3 veganiase, 1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley and 1 tsp garlic powder mixed together.
      Image from
      Chocolate Kale Chips (adapted from <<< apprently they have a new vegan cooking show?!  UPDATE: Here are some free vegan cooking videos on the website)
      • 3/4 cup sugar
      • 1/2 cup cashews, preferably soaked in water for 1 to 2 hours (no need if you have a vitamix)
      • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons agave nectar
      • 1/3 cup cacao or dark chocolate powder
      • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
      • 1 teaspoon ground vanilla powder (liquid is ok)
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      • Pinch cayenne pepper
      • 1 large bunch of curly kale, washed, stemmed and torn into palm-size pieces (make sure they are dry)
      • 1/4 cup extra-fine shredded coconut flakes
      • 1 teaspoon hemp seeds
      1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
      2. Add the coconut palm sugar, cashews, agave nectar, cacao powder, coconut oil, vanilla powder, cinnamon and cayenne pepper to a high-speed blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth. In a large mixing bowl, pour the chocolate sauce mixture over the kale leaves. Using your hands, massage the chocolate mixture into the kale leaves until each one is evenly coated. Fold in the coconut flakes and hemp seeds.
      3. Transfer the coated kale to the cookie sheets and bake about 20 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet, flip the kale leaves and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. Watch them very closely, as they may burn quickly if left in the oven a few moments too long. Remove the kale chips from the oven when crispy. Allow to cool a bit, then serve.

      greens · mac and cheese · vegan · vitamix

      Tailgate Mac and "Cheeze" (with greens and jalapeños)

      Week 3: Browns vs. Bills (part 2)

      In addition to the traditional tailgate ribs I made for week 3, I wanted to bring a little more southern BBQ to the table.  Nothing says BBQ like mac and cheese next to a plate of ribs, greens, and baked beans.  But being a vegan doesn’t mean you have to forego any of these things.  Mac and “cheeze,” as many cookbooks and chefs call it, can be made a variety of ways without any cheese.  Common ingredients include:

      This recipe again comes from Alicia Simpson’s Quick and Easy: Vegan Comfort Food.  I wanted something in a casserole dish that could be easily heated on the grill.  I added a few additional ingredients, such as the collard greens (from the last CSU farmer’s market of the season) and jalapeños. Enjoy!
      • 24 oz. whole wheat macaroni noodles (don’t be fooled by the label!)
      • 1 bunch collard greens, destemmed and chopped (see technique below)
      • 5 jalapeños, finely chopped (leave the seeds for extra heat)
      • 3 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
      • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
      • 1 cups diced yellow onion, chopped
      • 3 cups water
      • 1/2 cup canola oil
      • 1/3 cup raw cashews nuts
      • 1/3 cup raw macadamia nuts (just use more cashews if you can’t get them)
      • 3 garlic cloves
      • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
      • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
      • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
      • Pinch of tumeric
      • Pinch of sea salt
      • Juice of one lemon
      • 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (I like Ian’s brand)
      • Preheat the oven to 350. 
      • Prepare the macaroni according to the package.  Add in the chopped collard greens in the last 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
      Destem by folding the leaf in half and cutting along the side

      Roll a bunch of leaves in a tight cylinder 

      Chop it up!

      Cooked pasta with greens (you can do this every time you make pasta with any greens)
      • Sautee the jalapenos in a bit of water or olive oil spray for a few minutes.  Toss in with the pasta.
      • Meanwhile, combine the potatoes, carrots and onion in a pot with the 3 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and simmer until soft (about 10 minutes).
      Chopped veggies
      • Place the boiled veggies (don’t drain), nuts, garlic, spices and lemon juice in a high speed blender.  Blend until smooth. (Note: I love my vitamix, thanks mom!)
      Nuts, garlic, spices and lemon juice

      No joke, it’s the Ferrari of blenders
      • Pour the sauce in with the noodles to coat.  Transfer to a sprayed casserole dish (pyrex or foil).  Top with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes.
      Action shot 

      With the jalapeños 
      • Note: If bringing to the tailgate, you’ll want to bake it for a little bit before you step out the door. Then just throw in on the hot grill to warm up in the parking lot.

      The complete BBQ meal from Week 3