Virtual Vegan Potluck

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.

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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.

Oil-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Squares. Guest Post from Annie at An Unrefined Vegan + Last Chance for VVP!

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Here’s a final, last minute shameless plug and call for sign ups for the Virtual Vegan Potluck. The potluck is nearly full, so if you haven’t signed up all ready, get in there. Oh, and the founder of the VVP (and my blogger BFF), Annie from An Unrefined Vegan is sharing a guest post with us today. Just looking at this recipe makes me think about all the other luscious desserts in store come potluck time!

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Let’s give a hearty welcome to Annie and her luscious Oil-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Squares! I think these are healthy enough to qualify as breakfast food!

Banana Cake Slice

Over the years I’ve made a lot of banana bread from many different recipes. A lot. This one is the simplest I’ve ever made and also the most delicious. While away from home recently, I needed a banana recipe fast so I did a Google search and used the very first listing – from Simply Recipes. I veganized it; traded out the oil for almond butter, used whole wheat pastry flour, added chocolate chips, and then baked it in a square pan rather than in a loaf. This comes together ridiculously fast and is craved by vegans and non-vegans alike (mom and dad, I’m looking at you).

Thank you, Somer, for inviting me to share this recipe with your readers and for letting them know about the Virtual Vegan Potluck! I hope that the food bloggers out there will consider signing up for the November 16 event. It’s always a lot of fun and it’s a great way to find new blogs to love and to add delicious, plant-based food to your recipe stockpile.

Quick Chocolate Chip Banana (Bread) Squares
Makes 1 9″ x 9″ pan

3 large, very ripe bananas, mashed
1 tbsp. flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp. water (whisk together then let sit for a few minutes)
1/3 cup natural almond butter
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1 full stopper of liquid stevia (I used NuNaturals Alcohol-free Stevia Pure Liquid)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly spray a 9″ x 9″ baking pan with oil.

In a large bowl, combine the bananas, flaxseed meal, almond butter, sugar, and stevia. Stir well.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and firm on top. Let cool before slicing.

Banana Cake with Slice

Banana Cake on Plates

 

And the Award Goes To…. Virtual Vegan Potluck Flashback

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It’s that time of year again, the Virtual Vegan Potluck is rapidly approaching! Annie (Creator and Head Mistress of the VVP) is the featuring the winners of each category over at the Virtual Vegan Potluck site, and today, my Jackfruit and Kimchi BLT Slider Bites are being featured. Head on over to check it out, and if you haven’t signed up all ready, what are you waiting for?

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

VVP Edition: Mini Jackfruit and Kimchi BLT Slider Bites

Peppered Maple Jackfruit Bacon

Yeah, I invented a new vegan bacon, especially for the Virtual Vegan Potluck 3.0. It might just be the meatiest and most versatile vegan bacon yet… You’re welcome.

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Since I can’t just serve you bacon, (I mean, I could, but this is supposed to be the appetizer course). I’m sharing my take on some special bite sized BLT’s. For size reference, the plate I’m using in these photos only has a 3 inch diameter.

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To assemble these little cuties, you’ll need the following: Mini Caraway, Onion and Rye Pretzel Rolls (recipe follows), Kimchi, store bought or homemade, Peppered Maple Jackfruit Bacon (recipe follows), sliced tiny grape and or sun sugar tomatoes, and Vegan Wasabi Ranch Dressing (1/4 c. vegan ranch dressing + 1 t. wasabi paste, stirred til combined)

Vegan BLT Sliders

Peppered Maple Jackfruit Bacon

  • 1 can young green jackfruit in brine (unsweetened) I bought mine from a local Asian Market
  • 1-2 T. liquid smoke (mine is concentrated, so I only used 1 T.)
  • 1 T. Bragg’s liquid aminos or coconut aminos for those with soy allergies
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil or melted unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 T. pure maple syrup
  • 1 t. – 1 T. ground black pepper (depending on how peppery you want your bacon)
  • 1 t. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t. unsulphered molasses
  • 1/2 t. sea salt (optional)

Method: Rinse and drain the jackfruit. Press lightly onto clean kitchen towels to drain any excess moisture. Slice jackfruit into very thin strips with a filet knife, it’s okay if some of it shreds. Jackfruit is kinda shreddy like that. Press sliced jackfruit on the clean kitchen towels again to remove additional moisture. Place jackfruit slices in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together all the other ingredients to form the marinade. Pour marinade over the sliced jackfruit and gently toss to coat with your hands. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to let the jackfruit absorb the flavors. Preheat your oven to 425°. Lightly oil a large rimmed baking sheet and arrange the jackfruit slices on it so they don’t overlap. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring a time or two and watching to make sure the jackfruit bacon doesn’t burn and that it gets nice and crispy (a fine line). Remove from oven and spread onto paper towels and let cool a bit before use.

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Mini Caraway, Onion and Rye Pretzel Rolls

  • 1 1/2 C. unbleached organic all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C. dark rye flour
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 1/2 C. warm water
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 t. active dry yeast
  • 1 T. caraway seeds
  • 1 T. cocoa powder
  • 1 T. vital wheat gluten
  • 1 T. unsulphered molasses
  • 1 T. dried chopped onion or 1 t. onion powder
  • caraway seeds, sesame seeds and flaked sea salt for sprinkling on the rolls

Method: in a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (including yeast). Add the wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon til combined. If mixture seems to dry, add warm water, a tablespoon at a time. knead dough for 10 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and Let rise for 30 minutes or until doubled. Punch dough down, divide into 32 mini pretzel roll bites or 16 slider sized rolls. Lightly press each piece of dough down with your fingertips. Arrange rolls on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silpat (otherwise they’ll stick like crazy). Cover and let rise for 20-30 minutes until doubled in size. In the meantime, bring to a boil: 2 quarts (8 cups) water with 1 T. kosher salt and 4 T. baking soda.  When the water comes to a rolling boil, Poach 4 rolls at a time, if doing bite sized, poach for 20-30 seconds, for slider sized 30-40 seconds, turning over halfway through poaching time. See photos of this method hereRemove rolls with a slotted spoon. Slash each roll a couple of times across the top with a sharp knife. Quickly sprinkle with caraway seeds, sesame seeds and flaked sea salt. Repeat until all buns are poached. Let rest while oven preheats to 400 degreesBake for 10-15 minutes for bite sized or 15-20 minutes for slider rolls. Please use parchment paper or a silpat to bake on, otherwise you will need a chisel and a hammer and quite possibly ruin your favorite baking sheet.

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

vvpIf 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 169 bloggers from all around the world flaunting their vegan awesome! Use the buttons below to Go Back to visit the lovely Bex (Sparkles) at Vegan Sparkles in Australia. Go Forward to see what The Singing Vegan brought to the party.

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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.

Frosty Strawberry Lemonade with Mint and a Virtual Vegan Potluck Crash Course

Close upFrosty Strawberry Lemonade with Mint

I’m bringing you a throwback recipe today, the one I created for the very first (and epic) Virtual Vegan Potluck. Unfortunately, even though I pre-scheduled my post to go live with everyone else’s, I showed up more than 8 hours late to the party because the time clock on the blog was wrong. Oops.

I’m sure my friend Annie (mastermind behind the VVP) was pulling her hair out over the lateness of mine and several other posts, but somehow she forgave me and invited me to help her run the event that is now cool enough to have appeared at #28 on the PPK top 100 for 2012 list.

Lemon, strawberries and mintLemon, Strawberries and Mint

For you bloggers who haven’t signed up for the Virtual Vegan Potluck yet, I encourage you to do so. Having over 100 bloggers from all around the world contribute courses from beverages to desserts makes for an incredibly cool event. What if you’re not a VEGAN? Doesn’t matter, all that matters is that the dish you “bring” is 100% vegan. Besides, there are tons of cool giveaway prizes for participants this round!

So here’s a quick crash course: 

1- Sign UP (sign ups for the May 11th 2013 potluck closes on May 6th)

2- Get your 100% vegan post ready to go

3- You’ll get an email letting you know where you are in the lineup (i.e., what bloggers comes before and after you do in the potluck)

4- You’ll link to those bloggers before and after you in your post (don’t worry, we’ll let you know how and even give you some cool buttons)

4- You’ll pre-schedule your post to go live at the same time as everyone else’s

5- You’ll feel like a rockstar for participating

Easy as Vegan Chocolate Cream Pie….

For those that want more detailed info about how it works, click here.

In the blender

Frosty Strawberry Lemonade with Mint

  • 3 C. fresh or frozen strawberries
  • juice and zest from one lemon, I peel the zest in a long thin strip with a vegetable peeler
  • 5-6 mint leaves
  • 1-2 packets truvia (stevia), or other natural sweetener to taste, depending on how sweet your strawberries are
  • 1 C. water (2 C. if using frozen strawberries)
  • 2 C. ice (omit if using frozen strawberries)

Method: Blend til smooth.

Frosty Strawberry Lemonade with Mint

Wanna see what I brought last round? Head on over to Virtual Vegan Potluck Blog to see my winning appetizer post featured there. Anyone have any ideas of how I can top it this year? Ideas, pretty please?

macadmia-nut-brie-en-crouteMy November 2012 VVP contribution,

The Macadamia Nut Brie En Croute