Vegan French Onion Mac And Cheez

Where are my vegan friends at?

actually, scratch that, where are my food loving friends at? Cause this vegan French onion mac and cheez is one dish everyone will love – so long as you love caramelized onions that is! Vegan is a sore topic for many – “HOW could you not eat meat or dairy with a meal?” or “That’s gross and strange, not for me!”.

It’s a fallacy guys – vegan just means no animal products are consumed. Don’t Worry! It’s not scary and you also don’t need to be a vegan to eat a vegan, plant based meal! For instance, this is how I like to live my life – with balance and an open mind, and with that, you get to have amazing meals like vegan French onion mac and cheez. I am not a vegan and I LOVE vegan food.

In this recipe, there are quite a few steps but this is only to enhance major flavor into the pasta dish. I recommend you save this for a day off or a weekend cause the process is a longer one. It’s worth it – and any plant based meal is a big W for win in my books! This pasta sauce has roasted garlic, French lemon juice, Dijon mustard, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavorful “Swiss Cheez Sauce”.

What is nutritional yeast?

Nutritional yeast is a type of yeast that has a cheesy, nutty, savory flavor profile! Which is why in many vegan dishes it is used to mock the flavor of cheese! Furthermore, It is unbelievably healthy for you packed with vitamins, minerals and protein. One tablespoon has 2 grams of protein, and all nine essential amino acids. Nutritional yeast is especially rich in thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. It’s like cheesy flakes of goodness when added to a sauce, you’d fool anyone into believing there was real cheese in the sauce.

In conclusion, this recipe is very yummy. Give it a go and let me know in the comments below if you want to try this recipe out!

Vegan French Onion Mac & Cheez

Vegan French Onion Mac & Cheez

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

This Vegan French Onion Mac n Cheez is insanely tasty and totally cheezy - without the cheese, go figure. Don't let the word vegan turn you non-vegan folk away, because this is recipe is for all food lovers alike! I cannot take credit for this recipe as I found it on Tik Tok and oh my, its got Flavor Flav and I don't mean the rapper!

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 3/4 Cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 Cup Hot Water
  • 2-3 Cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 Lemon, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 Cups non-dairy milk (oat, macadamia, almond, soy, etc.)
  • Black pepper, to taste

Other

  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 2-3 large sweet onions, sliced
  • 1 Tsp sea salt
  • 4 Cups of pasta, like shells or cavatappi (my fave)

Topping

  • 3/4 Cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tsp paprika

Instructions

    1. Hot-soak the sunflower seeds. To do this, pour nearly boiling water over sunflower seeds and allow to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Drain.

    2. Caramelize the onions. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add sliced onions and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Cook onions for about an hour, more or less, until dark golden brown and sweet. During the cooking process, stir onions periodically and check for moisture level. Whenever the onions start to stick, and the pan is dry with caramelization, deglaze the pan with a splash of water and continue cooking. I used about 1-2 cups of water during the entire caramelization process.

    3. Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, make the “Swiss cheese” sauce. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and the roughly chopped garlic to a small sauce pan. Turn heat to low and allow garlic to gently simmer until golden (it takes about 4-5 minutes after the sizzle starts). Remove from heat immediately and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

    5. In a blender combine soaked/drained sunflower seeds, the garlic-oil mixture, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, mustard, 2 teaspoons salt and 3 cups non-dairy milk. Blend until super smooth. It will be a very thin consistency, this is what you want. Pour the sauce over the cooked noodles. Stir to combine. Add the caramelized onions and stir until onions are evenly distributed. Season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a large baking dish.

    6. In a small bowl combine breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons olive oil, dried thyme, garlic powder, paprika and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix until all breadcrumbs are saturated with oil. Evenly coat pasta with the breadcrumb topping. Bake for 15 minutes until heated through and crunchy/golden brown on top.

Notes

Baking – the “cheese” sauce sets up quite a bit while baking, avoid over-baking to keep it at it’s creamiest and if you didn't make enough sauce add 1/2 cup more of plant milk to the dish before placing crumbs on top!

Amazing Baked Chicken Lettuce Wraps

How many times have you gone to Cactus Club and ordered the Schezwan Chicken Lettuce Wraps?
I know for myself, its a staple order when I’m at Cactus. They are so tasty, you omit some heavy carbs, they pack a punch of great flavour – what’s not to love? I can say the same for this amazing baked chicken lettuce wraps recipe. They are so damn delicious! Originally I found this recipe from Ahead of Thyme (Thank you!). Over the past year of eating them, I’ve gone on to make my own tweaks and suggestions for this recipe.

Unlike the Cactus Lettuce Wraps, these have crispy baked chicken instead of deep fried chicken for a healthier alternative (and easier). I’m not sure about you – but frying at home in a pot of oil on the stove just isn’t a lot of fun. Its messy and time consuming! With these chicken bites you will be coating them in a layer of flour, then whipped egg and then into toasted panko crumbs. Then, placing them on a baking sheet to crisp up in the oven! Yum!

Lettuce Tell You More…

When preparing the lettuce for the wraps, I like to get kind of specific with it. I really enjoy a cold crunchy piece of iceberg that will hold all the amazing filling. In order to do this, I recommend these few steps to take. First, Slice the ice berg lettuce in half length wise. Then, on the cut side let the lettuce fill with cold water in the sink to wash the layers in between.

After that, shake out any excess water when you are done rinsing and repeat for the other half. When the washing step is completed, place the halved lettuce heads face down in a strainer with a bowl underneath it. Place in the fridge to get really cold as you continue making the rest of the meal. When you are ready to serve – take the lettuce out and use a paper towel to dab off any excess water before filling each wrap. Its worth it when the lettuce is cold and crisp 🙂

Amazing Baked Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Yield: 3 Servings

Amazing Baked Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

These Amazing Baked Chicken Lettuce Wraps are made with crunchy cold lettuce, crispy baked chicken, sweet Thai sauce, peanuts, green onions and spicy yogurt. These are a staple recipe in my home, and a much healthier version of cactus club's spicy Szechuan chicken lettuce wraps... but just as tasty!

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 2 Chicken Breasts, cut into small 1-2 inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil (or avocado oil if you don't have sesame)
  • 1 ¼ Cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • ½ Tsp sea salt
  • ¼ Tsp black pepper
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tbsp mayo – I use Hellman’s with olive oil
  • ¼ Cup all-purpose flour

Toppings & Wraps

  • 1 Cup Farkay steam fried noodles
  • ¼ Cup green onions, sliced finely
  • ¼ Cup roasted peanuts
  • ½ Cup sweet chili sauce
  • 2 Tsp white sesame seeds
  • 1 Head of iceberg lettuce, cut in half through the stem

Spicy Mayo

  • ½ Cup mayo
  • ¼ Cup 5% plain greek yogurt
  • 2 Tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 Tsp sriracha hot sauce, or more to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cooking pan with parchment paper.

1. In a medium pan, heat sesame oil over medium heat. Add panko breadcrumbs and cook for 4-5 minutes while stirring continuously until the breadcrumbs start to brown. Be careful not to burn them, you only want them to turn a golden brown colour. Remove from heat and mix in soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss to combine and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, beat the egg and mayo together in a shallow dish. Place flour into another shallow dish and set aside.

3. Fully coat each chicken piece with flour, then with egg mixture, and lastly with the panko breadcrumb mixture.

4. Place the coated chicken strips onto the cooking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is golden brown and no longer pink inside.

5. Make the spicy mayo by combining mayo, hot sauce, lime juice and sriracha together and mixing until combined. Taste and add sriracha and lime juice as needed!

6. Place chicken bites into a large bowl and add noodles, green onions, peanuts, and sweet chili sauce. Toss to coat with tongs. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.

Assembling the lettuce wraps:

Take the lettuce out of the fridge, you can pat dry each piece with paper towel to get the water off if you choose. Then, spread spicy mayo on the lettuce and scoop several tablespoons of the chicken mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf. Then, Drizzle extra spicy mayo on top, and wrap like a taco. Crunch down and enjoy!

Notes

I recommend using Farkay Steam Fried Noodles for crunch! You don't need too many, just enough to give some texture.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

3

Serving Size:

3

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 500

Calories are based upon ingredients I used and may differ to the brands used for this recipe.

Homemade Margherita Pizza with Prosciutto Crisps

Homemade Margherita Pizza with Prosciutto Crisps

Its homemade pizza time!!!! If you haven’t made pizza from scratch at home – you are sorely missing out. It may seem difficult – but I can promise you it is completely manageable. This recipe that I’m sharing with you is my families re-creation of our favourite Margherita pizza with prosciutto crisps. Inspired by our many dinners out to Famoso Pizza – which we all pronounce fah-mo-sa for some reason!

When we would go to Famosa for a family dinner out, this was my papa and my moms favourite pizza to make! A classic Margherita – basil, tomato, mozzarella but add EXTRA prosciutto crisps – so salty and delish! I love mushrooms personally so I added those to my pizza this time around – I know mushrooms are either a love or hate for people so please omit them if you aren’t feeling the shrooms.

PIZZA DOUGH

Furthermore, for the pizza dough part of things, my mom always made ours homemade – I will link a pizza dough recipe here. You can totally make your own – it’s not as hard as people think. Otherwise, you can buy a frozen pre-made dough ball from your local grocer or bakery. Ask the staff! Almost all places have them hidden away somewhere. I get mine from Safeway or Thrifty Foods in the deli/bakery area! You just need to have time to thaw it out on the counter or in some hot water (keep the dough in the package). I like to roll the dough out until its about 1/2 an inch thick for a medium pizza crust. If you like thin crust – go to 1/4 inch. Alternatively, if you like it thick, go about 1 inch thick.

All in all, making homemade pizza is a fun experience! You can make individual ones up by splitting the dough into smaller portions so everyone can pick the toppings they want, or you can make one big yummy pizza like the recipe below!

I hope you enjoy this Margherita pizza with prosciutto crisps! You won’t regret buying the prosciutto and crisping it up for this pizza – the flavours are unreal. Happy Pizza Making!

Homemade Margherita Pizza with Prosciutto Crisps
Yield: 2 Large Pizza's

Homemade Margherita Pizza with Prosciutto Crisps

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

This homemade Margherita Pizza with prosciutto crisps, sauteed mushrooms, fresh basil, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella cheese will have you singing something italian real quick. This is a magic combo of salty, fresh toppings that make for a really fun and tasty night around the dinner table. Make sure you let the pizzas cool down before devouring - dont be like my family and burn your mouth everytime...we are impatient when it comes to piping hot homemade pizza!

Ingredients

  • 2 Pizza dough rounds
  • 3 Cups of tomato sauce
  • 2 Cups fresh basil
  • 1 Package of fresh mozzarella
  • 2 Cups of shredded mozzarella
  • 1 Package of Prosciutto, crisped
  • 2 Cups of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Cups mushrooms, sliced and cooked

Instructions

    Preheat the oven to 425° F.

    1. First, make your pizza dough or if you have store bought frozen pizza dough, leave it out to thaw in a bowl of hot water for an hour or so.

    2. Next, wash and slice the mushrooms. Place them into a pan and cook them on medium-high heat for roughly 5 minutes, add a bit of salt and pepper halfway through cooking.

    3. Next, rip the prosciutto up into a pan on medium-high heat, and stir around until its crisp and golden. Remove from pan when crisp - about 10 minutes. When its cooled it should crumble easily!!!

    4. Shred the mozzarella cheese and slice the fresh mozzarella into ½ inch pieces (you should have 1 cup of shredded mozzarella and 9-10 pieces of fresh mozzarella for each pizza.

    5. Roll out the pizza dough with rolling pin on a floured surface. It doesn’t have to be perfect, personally like in between a thin crust and thick crust pizza. I roll my dough to be about ½ an Inch thick!

    6. After your dough is all ready to go and all of your ingredients are ready, start to build your pizza!

    7. Place the tomato sauce down, then the mushrooms and prosciutto crisps. Then add a layer of shredded cheese (about 1 cup) and add the halved cherry tomatoes on top with the slices of fresh mozzarella cheese. Rip the basil leaves in half all over the pizza – they should be in decent sized pieces because they cook up!

    8. Repeat for pizza #2 and then drizzle both with olive oil. Place the pizza's into the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and crispy!

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

1 Slice

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 250

Chewy Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate Chips

Chewy Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate Chips

Chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips are so simple, decadent and always delicious. These double chocolate cookies have rich flavour with white chocolate and semi sweet chocolate chips in every single bite. I believe on the same night I was making this recipe ay my place, my sister was also making the same recipe at her place. Telepathic sister cookie making! She is the cookie queen and can’t get enough of any kind of cookie.

With this recipe, you will combine cocoa powder, semi sweet chocolate chips and white chocolate chips to create a chocolate lovers cookie dough. After the dough is made, you will want to drop these cookies from a cookie/ice cream scooper onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. About 12 of each should fit on 3 sheets for a total of 36 cookies. It seems like a lot, trust me, it’s not!

What I always do is freeze one pan of these chewy chocolate cookies…for emergencies right? Just let them cool after baking and then transferring them to an airtight container, these are the ones I use. Then I can have a decadent chocolate treat whenever I please.

CHOCOLATE:

I like to use the white chocolate and semi sweet chip-its by hershey – I think that Hershey’s Chip-it brand of chocolate is the best, and most affordable when it comes to baking. That being said, you could go to that extra level and go to Gourmet Warehouse and get their chocolate, and chop it up to add to this cookie dough. It’s a giant possibility if you are an avid baker – you know what I’m talking about and you have a bag in your cupboard.

COCOA POWDER:

I grew up using Fry’s Cocoa Powder and it’s the only one I will use. It’s conveniently in most grocery stores, a good price point and overall it does the job well. If you know of a better one, please comment below! I’d love to hear suggestions.

ICE CREAM SCOOPS:

How the ice-cream scoops changed my whole world with cookies…part 1! The ice cream scoop, yes! With the little side button that swipes it off into a neat dough ball onto the sheet, with no mess on your hands what-so-ever??? Yeah, that one is what I’m talking about. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please, get a set of them in your life right now. You will seriously use them over and over, anytime you make cookies and you will thank me later! Heres a link to get some delivered to your door this week.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate Chips
Yield: 36 Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate Chips

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Using a mixer, cream softened butter and sugar until fluffy, scraping the sides once. Then beating again for 1 minute until fully combined and fluffy.

2. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Then mix in vanilla.

3. Place all dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt into the mixer and mix until combined. Gently blend in chocolate chips and white chocolate chips until just combined – on low for 30 seconds or hand mix.

4. Using a cookie/ice cream scoop, drop dough onto cookie sheets (you should fit 12 per sheet). Dot the top of each cookie with 3 white chocolate chips if you'd like them to really show up on top. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes or until cookies are barely done but still soft and chewy, be careful not to burn (it’s hard to tell since they are dark dough!)

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

36

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 190

Easy Spinach And Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Easy Spinach And Ricotta Stuffed Shells

These easy spinach and ricotta stuffed shells will leave everyone wanting more! It is a family recipe that we have been making for years. Even the meat eaters of the family don’t complain when we serve this vegetarian dish. Its super filling, flavorful, cheesy goodness! You can sneak some spinach and onion in and no one will be complaining. These are surprisingly packed full of protein, and make an awesome dinner or meal prep for the week.

I hope you make these spinach and ricotta stuffed shells for your loved ones and everyone rants and raves about how delicious the dinner is. You will look like a superstar cook, and they don’t have to know how easy they really are to make, shhhh!

Okay now, lets get straight to the good stuff!

Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Yield: 5 Servings

Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

This stuffed pasta shell recipe is one of me and families favorites. We keep making time and time again and never get bored of it. It's easy to make, packed full of protein (for being a vegetarian dish especially) and so tasty!

Make this flavorful dish for dinner tonight served with a side salad or meal prep them for the week ahead!

Ingredients

  • 30 Large conchiglie (Pasta Shells)
  • 28oz tomato sauce
  • 4 Cups of ricotta cheese
  • 3 Cups baby spinach, chopped
  • 4 Green onion stems, finely chopped
  • ½ cup of grated parmesan
  • 1 Tsp sea salt
  • ½ Tsp black pepper

Instructions

PREP: Set your oven rack to mid-high position in the oven and preheat the oven to 400° F. Get out 1 large baking dish or 2 medium sized baking dishes

PASTA: Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. I will recommend that they are al dente (kind of chewy but not soft) when you strain them as they are easier to fill and will cook again in the oven – we don’t want soggy soft pasta. When straining run the pasta under cold water until they are fully cool and then toss them in a bowl lightly with olive oil, separating any pasta shells from each other. The oil is used in order to prevent the pasta from sticking to one another.

SAUCE: Using a large baking dish, spread tomato sauce in the bottom of the dish. You may need two baking dishes, depending on how big the baking dish is.

FILLING: In a medium sized bowl combine the ricotta, chopped spinach, finely chopped green onion, grated parmesan, sea salt and pepper. Spoon the mixture into the shells until full and place them on the tomato sauce in the baking dish. Repeat until all the shells are done.

BAKING: Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes on 400° F until warmed through. Then for the last 5 minutes switch the oven to broil – be careful to not burn them! I recommend just staying by the oven for the last 5 minutes. They should just have a golden crisp on top and the sauce should be bubbling!

Serve hot with a side salad if you choose to, or pack them up as meal prep for the work week. So good!



Notes

My Advice:

I have a hard time finding these big shells in store, you can get them at Safeway sometimes.

Ricotta is expensive, but I always think of this as the "meat" of the meal, and its around the same cost as a pack of chicken breast.

If you like things to be really saucy, buy an extra can of tomato sauce. I like to use hunts tomato sauce for this recipe.

Ricotta is a blander cheese, so remember it needs more salt than most recipes. Don't be afraid to add more so the flavor really comes out in the baking process.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

5

Serving Size:

1 (6 Shells)

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 550

Calories are based upon ingredients I used and may differ to the brands used for this recipe.