Cheez

Kick Ace Extra Sharp Raw Vegan Holiday Cheddar Cheese Ball. Virtual Vegan Potluck Edition.

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Ah, the Holiday Cheese Ball. When you’re standing around snacking on it at a family gathering, you feel like you’ve got the most coveted spot in the kitchen. If you take this to a real live potluck, you’d better guard it fiercely so it doesn’t simply disappear while your back is turned, leaving you cheeseless and forlorn.

DSC_0003-001no turkeys were harmed in the making of this post

Thankfully, this is a virtual potluck, so nobody can hork this from me. Though, I have to admit to scrambling at the last minute to put this post together since the last cheese ball I made disappeared in the middle of the night last week. Apparently, I’m not the only one in this house who is obsessed with it. Luckily, the recipe is ridiculously simple with only about 10 minutes of hands on time.

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You can serve the cheese ball with any of your favorite raw vegetables, we even put sliced honey crisp apples on our tray, the combination of the sweet crisp apples and the piquant cheese was amazing.

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The cheese ball is also incredibly good with crackers, raw or otherwise.

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Kick Ace Extra Sharp Raw Vegan Holiday Cheddar Cheese Ball

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashew pieces, soaked in purified water overnight
  • 2 packed tablespoons dry pack sun-dried tomatoes, snipped into small pieces with kitchen scissors then soaked in the purified water with the cashews. Note: if your sun-dried tomatoes look brownish, so will your cheese ball. Use fresh, bright red sun-dried tomatoes for best results.
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry (optional)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon mellow white miso (use chickpea miso if you are sensitive to soy)
  • 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • dash cayenne
  • 1/2 cup organic unrefined coconut oil, warmed to room temperature (liquid)

Method: 

Pour the soaking water off the cashews and sun-dried tomatoes and then rinse them with fresh purified water. Drain well.

Place the soaked cashews,  sun-dried tomatoes, nutritional yeast, dry sherry, miso, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, onion powder, mustard powder, smoked paprika, turmeric, cayenne, and coconut oil in a food processor or high-speed blender and pulse until the mixture starts to form a paste, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Blend or process until the mixture is completely smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally. If your food processor or blender is struggling to blend the mixture, add purified water, 1 tablespoon at a time to help it to keep turning over, using no more than 3 tablespoons of water. This process takes up to 10 minutes in a food processor and a few minutes in a high-speed blender.

Scrape the soft cheese into a container that holds at least 2 cups. Cover and refrigerate for 4-6 hours or until the cheese is quite firm. Scrape the cheese out of the container and place onto a clean surface. With your hands, form the cheese into one large ball or two or more smaller balls.

See notes below for topping/variation ideas.

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Notes: The organic unrefined coconut oil does leave a slight coconut flavor in the finished product. If you prefer, you can use refined coconut oil for no coconut aftertaste.

The cheese ball can be served as is or rolled in any variety of chopped nuts and or herbs. I used sliced almonds, but walnut pieces or pecan pieces with some fresh minced parsley, thyme or sage would be amazing.

The cheese ball gets softer as it reaches room temperature, so it’s best if it’s kept chilled until immediately before use.

If you are in a hurry to get this cheese ball on the table, Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows made an adapted version of my cheese ball (only available in her e-book). In her very similar version, she places the cheese mixture in a parchment lined baking dish and freezes it for 30 minutes before rolling it into a ball. I’ve tried this and it works very well.

A word about coconut oil: I have had many readers ask if this cheese ball can be made without the coconut oil. You are welcome to try it, but I DO NOT recommend it. The oil adds a beautiful melty mouth-feel to the cheese ball, helps it to firm up and makes it taste ultra-delicious. This was never intended to be a low calorie or fat free food, indeed the cashews alone are very high in fat. This cheese ball was created especially for Holiday or other special occasions and it is to be treated as a special occasion food. I have had readers reduce the oil by half with favorable results and you are welcome to try the same if you are concerned about the fat content, but this will still be a very rich and high fat food. If you are strictly opposed to oil for whatever reason, you could try using coconut butter instead of the oil, but I haven’t tested that in my kitchen. For those allergic to coconut oil, you could try palm oil instead, but there are concerns about whether or not this is a sustainable product, so please do your research first.

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To start at the beginning of the potluck, click here:

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If you run into any broken links along the way, (some bloggers show up a little late to the party) here’s a list of the bloggers in the potluck to help you get back on track. Pretty cool to see over 150 bloggers from all around the world flaunting their vegan awesome! Use the buttons below to Go Back to visit the lovely Holcomb HollowGo Forward to see what Sensual Appeal brought to the party.

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Cheese ball reviews: Thanksgiving Joy, Holy Cheeseballs, My Favorite Vegan Cheeses, Vegan Party Appetizers, LalaRaw, What I ate for Thanksgiving.

Adaptations: Smoked Jalapeno CheeseballVegan Buffalo Cheddar Cheese with Coconut Bacon, Party Hearty Cheeseball.

Featured Articles: One Green Planet, Sunwarrior, Veg Kitchen, Key Ingredient, Chic Vegan, Buzz Feed, Vegan Lifestyle Magazine.

Vedged Out Turns One, Gets a Sweet Book Deal and More Awesomeness!

Howdy beloved readers! It’s Vedged Out’s One Year Blogiversary today and I’m taking you on a tour through the highlights and lowlights of the year:

chocolate layer cakeInsane Chocolate Layer Cake

It’s been an amazing year! Some highlights included Forks Over Knives featuring my health transformation testimonial and ChooseVeg.com featuring me on their health page.

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Then we’ve had two very. awesome. Virtual Vegan Potlucks.  

macadamia nut brie en crouteSpooky Macadamia Nut Brie En Croute 

um, I’m still dreaming about that one

vegan-blt-slidersMini Jackfruit and Kimchi BLT Slider Bites 

Two words. Jackfruit. Bacon.

The top viewed post on my site this year:pizzaIndividual Vegan Margherita Pizzas with Homemade Fresh Moxarella

people go crazy when homemade vegan cheese is tastier, easier, healthier and cheaper than running to your local Whole Foods for another bag of Daiya.

The least viewed post on my site this year:maple lima beansBaked Maple Dijon Baby Lima Beans

Yeah, can’t blame my readers, doesn’t look like the most appetizing dish, does it? I swear they were good!

The cookie bars that took over Pinterest by storm:cookie barHealthied Up Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

who doesn’t love an easy to put together ooey gooey dessert?

This ALL VEGAN Thanksgiving Menu shared with beloved friends and family, including Annie at An Unrefined Veganvegan thanksgiving

Then we had that low point, with that injury (currently still injured, I’ll have another healing series coming up soon).goodbye-runningGoodbye Running, I still miss you like crazy.

But when one door closes another one opens! And now I’ve also got some awesome news, I’ve signed a book contract with Vegan Heritage Press! I couldn’t be more proud to be working with such an amazing and compassionate publishing house. You’ll have to wait for all the juicy details, but it’s official. I’m an author!

vegan heritage press

The Vegan Heritage Press family all ready includes some Vegan Superstars: the amazing and talented raw vegan chef Amber Shea Crawley, prolific vegan cookbook author and goddess Robin Robertson, recipe developer extraordinaire Bryanna Clark Grogan, vegan baking fool Tamasin Noyes, national recipe competition winner Betsy DiJulio and several new faces that I can’t wait to become acquainted with!

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Oh, and I’ve all ready been a recipe contributor for Sunwarrior for some time, but now I’m joining their expert ambassador team as well! Yeah, just gotta submit that Bio. They’ve truly got the best vegan vitamins and supplements on the planet. Pure love.

Thanks for all the love and support along the way. Can’t wait to see what this next year brings!

good-clean-foodAmanda, Somer (holding Amanda’s juicy baby), Carolyn and Erika

If you want to start at the very beginning, see my very first post on Vedged Out here: 20 Reasons Why Going Vegan Sucks.

Love, Somer

Thin Crust Sriracha BBQ Tofu and Moxarella Pizza

National Pizza DayBringing this baby out of the archives in honor of Vegan Pizza Day Tomorrow. Enjoy Peeps!

Thin Crust Sriracha BBQ Tofu and Moxarella Pizza

Recipes follow:

1/2 recipe of the Solid Moxarella Cashew Cheese, grated

1 recipe No Rise Whole Wheat Thin Crispy Crust

1 recipe Sriracha BBQ Sauce

1 recipe Sriracha BBQ Tofu

1 recipe Caramelized Onions

2 T. Chopped Cilantro 

First do these things the day before: 1- Make the cheese 2- Drain and press a block of extra firm tofu, stick it in a ziploc bag and chuck it in the freezer. Freeze tofu overnight, then defrost on the counter-top the next morning.

It’s Business Time

Solid Moxarella Cashew Cheese

(grate-able, plus it melts and browns baby)

This cheese comes together quickly, but you need to work SUPER fast while making it as it starts to set almost instantly. So try to work without interruptions while putting it together if possible.

  • 1/2 Package Pomona’s Pectin, about 4.5 teaspoons (you can find it at Whole Foods and other Health Food Stores or purchase it online here)
  • 1 C. Ground Raw Cashews (soak for 4-6 hours if you don’t have a power blender or food processor)
  • 1 C. Water, plus an additional 1/2 cup for the calcium packet in the Pomona’s Pectin
  • 1 T. Lemon Juice
  • 2 T. Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 T. Melted Coconut Oil
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes

Method: Lightly oil small glass dish (square or round glass tupperware). Next, in a small lidded jar, mix 1/2 C. of water with the small calcium packet from the pectin package, set aside. Add cashews, nutritional yeast, sea salt, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes to your power blender or food processor. Pulse until the cashews are finely ground, but don’t make nut butter! Add lemon juice and the melted coconut oil, pulse again til just combined.  Heat the cup of water til boiling in a small saucepan on the stove-top or in a heat safe container in your microwave. Immediately Pour water into power blender. Add half of the large pectin packet (about 4.5 teaspoons). Blend or process until smooth (power blenders give the smoothest, creamiest results). QUICKLY add 1/4 cup (HALF) of the calcium water and pulse til incorporated. Immediately pour cheese into the prepared dish and put in the refrigerator. Let set uncovered for a minimum of an hour. Remove cheese from the mold and place upside down on a plate. Return to fridge uncovered for a minimum of 4 more hours until firm enough to grate.

Next, make Sriracha BBQ Sauce

Sriracha BBQ Sauce

  • 1/2 C. organic ketchup
  • 2 T. agave nectar
  • 2 T. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 t. molasses
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 t. liquid smoke
  • 2 t. Sriracha Hot Sauce (or to taste)
  • few grinds of black pepper

Method: combine all ingredients in a small bowl or glass measuring cup

Next make Sriracha BBQ Tofu

Sriracha BBQ Tofu

Half of this recipe never made it to the pizza. It is so good!

Method: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Press any additional water from defrosted block of tofu as possible with a clean kitchen towel. Slice into pieces and then  press again with the clean kitchen towel. Put tofu in a bowl and drizzle with 1/4 C. above sauce. Put some parchment paper on a baking sheet and arrange tofu on it. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until it starts to get lovely little crispy bits.

Next make Caramelized Onions

Caramelized Onions

  • 1 jumbo sweet or red onion thinly sliced (or 2-3 regular sized onions)
  • 2 t. molasses
  • 1 t. salt and a few grinds of pepper

Method: Heat a skillet over high heat,add a cup of water and all of the above ingredients, occasionally stir and replenish water if skillet gets dry before the onions are completely translucent. Total cooking time can take 15-20 minutes. This recipe makes about 2.5 to 3 C. caramelized onions.

Next make the No Rise Whole Wheat Thin Crispy Crust while the onions are caramelizing.

No Rise Whole Wheat Thin Crispy Crust

  • 1.5 C. white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 C. warm water
  • 1 t. active dry yeast
  • 1 T. vital wheat gluten
  • 1 t. sea salt

Method: in your favorite kneading apparatus (perhaps a bowl, and then your hands) combine all the above ingredients. Knead until elastic. Let rest 10 minutes. Roll with a rolling pin into the shape of a baking sheet, crust should be VERY thin. You can Press the whole crust recipe onto one large lightly oiled baking sheet, or make multiple thin crust pizzas. Set aside.

Assemble: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush remaining sriracha BBQ sauce over the thin crispy crust, layer caramelized onions over the sauce, next arrange pieces of the BBQ tofu over the onions,  sprinkle the moxerella cashew cheese over the whole pizza, sprinkle with the chopped cilantro. Bake on middle rack for 15 minutes or until cheese starts to brown.

Still following me? Phew, I thought I was getting a little long winded.

Oh, you’re still here and you want that salad dressing recipe too?

Chia Miso Cashew Ranch Dressing

  • 1/2 C. Raw Cashews (soaked for 4-6 hours if you don’t have a power blender)
  • 1 1/4 C. unsweetened soy milk
  • 1 t. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 heaped T. white or yellow miso
  • 1 T. chia seeds
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 t. onion powder
  • 1 T. dried chives or 2 T. fresh
  • 1 T.  dried parsley or 2 T. fresh
  • 1/2 t. ground black pepper
  • dash cayenne

Method: Blend all ingredients except chives and parsley until completely smooth. Add chives and parsley and pulse until just mixed in.

Celebrating 100 Posts!

It’s a good day all around, this post marks my 100th post since I started this blog in September 2012. I’m feeling all kinds of love and support! Thanks to all of you. Today I got twitter follows from Forks Over Knives, Dr. McDougall and a Hospital!?! I also got featured on the brand new site, Choose Veg. Feeling happy and blessed. Here’s a look back at 99 posts, in no particular order.

My Foot is a Desert, my brother Abe McCowan’s final MFA Thesis Exhibit + Vedged Out Catering Menu and Recipes

All photos in this post courtesy of Chelle McCall

Menu for the Show

For all the recipes for the show, please click here

Salads:

  • Curried Brown Rice Salad with celery, cranberries, green onion and cashews
  • Ultimate French Green Lentil Salad with radishes, red onion and capers
Appetizers: 
  • Stacy’s Pita Chips and Homemade Hummus
  • Organic Corn Tortilla Chips and homemade Fire Roasted Salsa
Vegan Cheese & Cracker Platter:
  • Pepperjack Cashew Cheese & Wheat Thins/Gluten Free Cracker option
  • Macadamia Nut Brie
Snack Cups:
  • Filled with Sesame Sticks, Coconut Shreds, mini vegan chocolate chips, tamari pepitas, pistachios, golden raisins, wasabi peas and amazing corn snack
Vegetable Tray:
  • Assorted Olives, Cucumber, Grape Tomatoes, Broccoli, Celery Sticks, Baby Carrots, with Cashew Vegan Ranch Dressing
Fruit Tray:
  • Strawberries, Watermelon, Grapes, Pineapples, Blueberries, Kiwi & Pears
Desserts: 
  • Gluten Free  & Regular Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
  • Gluten Free & Regular Vegan Lemon Bars
Beverages:
  • Iced Water
  • Homemade Ginger Ale Lemonade

Heart Healthy Pizza: Review, Recipes, Interview, Giveaway!

PortraitSpanakopizza, named for Mark by the Prolific Vegan Cookbook Author, Robin Robertson

After I posted a photo of my Margherita Pizza with Foxy Moxy on Facebook, my friend Mark Sutton contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing his book, Heart Healthy Pizza. He said Pizza… So of course I was in like Flynn. He also arranged a giveaway of an Autographed copy of his book for one of my awesome readers.

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I didn’t let him off the hitch there though, I asked if I could interview him and possibly share a recipe or two, I mean, people want to know what they’re getting into when they buy a new cookbook ;) Turns out there wasn’t much arm wrestling. Mark was more than happy to share recipes from his book as well as have me interview him.

I have to admit, when I first dug into Mark’s Book, I was a little overwhelmed. There are nearly a dozen crust recipes (including some for my GF peeps!) Close to 20 sauce recipes (for the pizza base), then more than 50 No-Nonsense  Non-Cheese Sauces. I mean, the combinations are nearly endless. It all felt a bit daunting! Thankfully, Mark knows how to help a home cook out, he devotes a whole chapter to some amazing pizza combinations (nearly 40 combos) to help you get started. All of the recipes in his book are vegan, heart healthy and very low in fat. Several of the combinations immediately caught my eye. However, this Spanakopizza recipe that Mark is sharing with you today is going to be hard to beat.

Spanakopizza

Spanakopizza

For the Crust: 

Whole Wheat Dough

  • 1 C. warm water
  • 1 T. oil (optional)
  • 1 T. sugar (or sweetener of choice)
  • 1 t. salt (optional
  • 1 C. whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 C. bread flour
  • 2 1/4 t. yeast (1 packet)

Method: Mark’s book has all sorts of helpful instructions in the dough chapter that I can’t fit here, so this is what I did: Dump everything into my bread-maker. Push the dough cycle. Walk away. Come back an hour and a half later. Roll out into preferred sized pizzas (I did mini’s). You can knead this by hand for 10-12 minutes, then let rise til double (about an hour), punch down and let rise again (another 30-45 minutes) then roll out.

dough

Layering Ingredients:

(Layer in order)

  • chopped raw spinach
  • diced raw mushrooms
  • fresh or dry thyme
  • thinly sliced red onions
  • Tofu Feta Cheese (recipe below)
  • black or green olives (sliced)

Tofu Feta Cheese:

  • 1/2 lb. firm or extra-firm tofu (not Mori-Nu), drained and pressed for at least 30 minutes, then cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 C. water
  • 1/4 C. red wine vinegar
  • 1 t. salt (optional)
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1/4 t. ground black pepper

Method: Combine all ingredients in a lidded glass container. Refrigerate overnight to develop flavor, stirring a couple of times before use.

toppingsBake at 425° – 450° for 15-20 minutes til lightly browned and delicious

Stay tuned for another recipe from Heart Healthy Pizza and my Interview with Mark Sutton on Friday the 5th of April.

Click on the link below to enter the GiveawaySorry, only open only to entrants in the USA. You must also follow this blog by email or RSS feed to qualify. You have 7 days to enter!  I will notify the winner by email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

SliceBetcha can’t eat just one slice!

p.s. Don’t forget to enter my Sunwarrior Liquid Vitamin Mineral Rush Giveaway. This is an Organic Raw Vegan Multivitamin made completely without synthetics. I have 5 bottles to giveaway to my blog readers! There are three days left to enter!

Individual Vegan Margherita Pizzas with Homemade Fresh Moxarella Cheese

Close up 2Vegan Margherita Pizza

If you don’t want to make a pizza from scratch, then use bottled pizza sauce, and a pre-bought crust, but whatever you do, Please make the fresh Moxarella Cheese. It’s nearly instant.

SlicedHomemade Vegan Moxarella, without any artificial anything. It browns and stretches.

Top ViewIndividual Pizzas Make Everyone Happy!

Vegan Margherita Pizzas 

This Recipe Makes 4 individual pizzas. Don’t forget to have fresh tomatoes and basil on hand. First, start the dough.

Pizza Dough:

This crust contains gluten, for several gluten free crust options, click here.

  • 2 C. organic all purpose flour
  • 1 C. organic whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/4 t. active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 t. sea salt
  • 1 t. agave
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil (optional)

Method: Combine all ingredients and knead for 10 minutes. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 60 minutes until doubled. While the dough is rising, make the pizza sauce and the fresh moxarella cheese.

The Dough

The Pizza Sauce:

  • one 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 t. dried thyme
  • 1/2 t. dried oregano
  • 1/2 t. dried basil
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • 1 t. agave
  • sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Method: saute the garlic in a little vegetable broth or the olive oil in a small saucepan for a minute or two on medium heat. Add all the other ingredients. Reduce heat to low and let simmer while you make the Moxarella Cheese.

Pizza Sauce

Fresh Moxarella Cheese:

I wanted to call this “Foxy Moxy,” but that name has been taken by some unsavory characters on the web….

This cheese stays in a “melted” type form until baked, and then it forms a nice crust, like dairy cheese does. It’s not intended to be eaten plain (like real dairy fresh mozzarella can). It’s also fairly salty to make it stand out in your recipes, if you prefer less salt, please feel free to reduce to 1/2 teaspoon, or less, but the flavor won’t be as pronounced.

  • 1/4 C. raw cashews (soaked in water for several hours and then drained IF you don’t have a high powered blender)
  • 1 C. hot water
  • 2  T. + 1 t. tapioca starch
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4  t. sea salt
  • 1 t. fresh lemon juice

Method: Blend all ingredients together in a high speed blender until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into a small saucepan and cook, stirring constantly over medium high heat. After a couple of minutes the mixture will start to look weird, like it’s curdling or separating. This is totally normal, reduce heat to medium and KEEP stirring so you don’t burn the cheese to the bottom of the pot. Keep cooking and stirring til really thick (about 2-3 more minutes) and the mixture becomes like a cohesive mass of melted dairy cheese and stretches like in the photo below. Remove from heat and let cool a bit while you assemble the pizzas.

p.s. Moxarella stores well in a sealed container in the fridge for a few days and can be used to make excellent grilled cheese sandwiches, mac and cheese, etc….

Moxarella

Assembly: Your dough should be nearly ready now, so when it hits 60 minutes or is doubled, punch it down and divide it into four pieces. Preheat the oven to 500°. Roll out the dough on a floured surface as thin or thick as you like. We opted for thicker pizzas this round. Spread each pizza with 1/4 of the pizza sauce. Top with fresh tomato slices, dollops of the fresh moxarella cheese and fresh basil leaves like shown in the photo below.

Pre-Bake

Bake individual pizzas for 10-12 minutes on a baking sheet until cheese and the crusts are nicely browned. Note: there is a very fine line between nicely browned and burnt here, so please, watch your pizzas carefully. Sprinkle pizzas with a bit of additional chopped fresh basil once out of the oven if desired.

BiteI won’t take any responsibility for anyone burning their mouth on hot cheese.

Margherita Pizza