Loaded Potato Skins

I’ve been going through a bit of a transitory period in my life, and I haven’t written a post in a while. Ultimately I decided to close my bakery business to pursue a different career path. I love baking and cooking for others, but I quickly found out that owning a business was not for me. Pulling the trigger on closing my business to choose a new path in life has been a mixed bag. I’m excited to make steps towards a new career, but at the same time letting go of something I had worked very hard to build up was stressful. But hey, what’s better for stress than some comfort food? I made these vegan Loaded Potato Skins to fill the comfort food void, so I thought I’d share them with all of you. These are far from healthy, but it’s okay to indulge every once in a while. I think as a whole this has been a pretty stressful year for just about everyone. Have a treat. You’ve earned it.


Loaded Potato Skins

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 5 medium russet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • vegan sour cream
  • 5 strips vegan bacon, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup vegan shredded “cheddar” cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Thoroughly wash and dry potatoes. Poke a few holes in each potato with a fork. Wrap each potato in foil.
  3. Place foil wrapped potatoes on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake for forty minutes. Turn potatoes over halfway through cook time.
  4. Remove potatoes from oven, and allow to cool completely. Remove foils for quicker cooling.
  5. Cut each completely cooled potato in half lengthwise, and scoop out the center with a spoon. There should be about 1/4 inch of potato flesh left connected to the outer skin.
  6. Set the scooped out potato aside, and save for another meal. This can easily be made into mashed potatoes.
  7. In a small bowl combine oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Brush onto both sides of the potatoes.
  8. Return potatoes skin side up to the baking sheet, and bake for an additional fifteen minutes.
  9. Remove from oven, flip over, and add vegan cheddar cheese shreds and chopped vegan bacon. I don’t recommend cooking the bacon before hand, as it can dry out too much and burn in the oven. I used light life bacon strips.
  10. Bake for another five minutes, or until cheese is melted, and bacon is crisp.
  11. Remove from oven. Top each potato with sour cream and chopped chives to taste. Serve with some of your other favorite appetizers, and enjoy.

Cheeziest Mac & Cheez

I’m going to keep this weeks post short and simple, because it’s a short and simple recipe. We’ll use this as a foundation for a number of greasy, American style comfort food recipes in the future. While I have an arsenal of healthy vegetable based mac and cheese recipes this one is my go too quintessential cheezy mac and cheez. It’s just like every ooey gooey bowl of mac you had slathered in things that were barely cheese like Velveeta. It’s great for eating on it’s own straight out of the pan, baking in the oven with bread crumbs, topping your favorite burger with, and so much more. Add some broccoli for the illusion of a healthy dinner. The best part is it takes so little time to make which means it’s great to whip up as a main dish or a quick side with a more elaborate meal.


Cheeziest Mac & Cheez

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 8 oz dry elbow macaroni (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 3/4 cup oat or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 cup vegan shredded cheddar style cheese

Directions

  1. Boil the pasta according to its packaging directions, and then drain the macaroni. Rinse with cold water to halt the cooking process and set it aside.
  2. In a separate sauce pan create a roux by first adding the butter and allowing it to melt. Once the butter has melted, and becomes slightly darker in color add in the flour while consistently whisking. Make sure you have your oat milk measured out and ready to go before you start this step.
  3. Once the flour and butter have been integrated add the oat milk while continuing to whisk.
  4. Add miso paste, dijon mustard, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to the milk. Whisk thoroughly to incorporate the dijon and dissolve the miso.
  5. Allow the mixture to simmer for a bit while periodically whisking. It should start to thicken up. Once it reaches a consistency of about a heavy whipping cream start slowly adding the cheese. Whisk continually while doing so to keep the cheese from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Continue adding the cheese until it is all integrated into the sauce. Allow the sauce to simmer until it thickens to the desired consistency of a macaroni and cheese sauce. Whisk periodically while doing so. I recommend tasting the sauce while it thickens to see if you’d like to add any additional seasoning to taste.
  7. Once the sauce has reached a good gooey, cheese sauce consistency add the macaroni into the sauce stirring them with a spoon to thoroughly coat them.
  8. Cook until the macaroni and cheese is hot, and then serve.

Unbelievable Blini

With CorEats Pancake & Waffle Mix

It’s a New Year, and a lot of us are starting it out with a commitment to trying to make healthier choices. When you’re busy it can be easy to fall off the New Year’s resolution band wagon, I get it. CorEats mixes are a great way to stick to a healthy diet when you don’t feel like cooking from scratch. As pleasurable as scratch cooking can be, sometimes it’s exhausting. It’s nice to have a mix that you can just add a few ingredients to, and have a ready made meal. The time saved also allows for creativity with no bounds even on busy nights!

For those of you who don’t know about CorEats they’re a local Pittsburgh company that creates a variety of mixes for both savory and sweet baked goods. We did a post previously featuring the pizza dough mix in our Fall Harvest Pizza recipe. All of their mixes are gluten free, vegan friendly, paleo, and keto. That makes it incredibly easy to use them in comfort food recipes while still keeping the food light and healthy.

We made this blini recipe for New Years Eve as we wanted something that felt upscale and decadent, but didn’t leave us feeling bloated. I know for me at least I tend to overindulge during the holidays, and end up feeling pretty poorly because of it. It’s nice to fill that holiday comfort food craving without feeling overly full. We used the CorEats pancake & waffle mix, because we wanted to showcase that pancakes can be more than a breakfast food. Savory pancakes are where it’s at when it comes to appetizers and hors d’oeuvres. The pancake mix worked great for this, because it’s a bit thicker than a mix that contains gluten so it was easy to shape as it was placed into the pan. Even though it’s thick as a batter when it’s cooked up there were still nice pockets of air that made it feel light and fluffy, and not too dense. This mix could work great for crepes, or blintzes as well.

As you can see in the photos these blini have caviar on them. Before you exclaim “But, caviar’s not vegan!” and rage quit this blog forever, relax. It’s just balsamic vinegar that was spherified into pearls. That may sound really complex, but I assure you it’s not. Spherification is one of the most basic molecular gastronomy techniques. All you need is some chilled olive oil, a syringe or dropper, some agar, and whatever ingredient you plan to make into pearls (in this case that’s balsamic vinegar). I’ve broken the process down into easy to follow steps in the recipe, but if you feel like all of that is too much work you can leave the balsamic caviar off. Blini are traditionally paired with smoked fish or caviar, but you can really top them with whatever you want. Try making some smoked “salmon” by marinating some carrot slices, or enjoy with just the sour cream and dill.

While I myself am quite the carboholic I’ve done my research, and carefully chosen keto approved and gluten free ingredients. The sour cream is a light blend of silken tofu, vinegar, and garlic. If you don’t feel like crafting your own sour cream you can find tofu sour cream at a number of supermarkets now. I recommend Tofutti brand, because it’s delicious and it should also be keto friendly. Whether your adhering to a keto or gluten free diet, or are strictly here for the vegan things, these blinis satisfy. Like I’ve said before I love carbs, and so does Nick, and we both really enjoyed these. They’re a great light bite, and would make a great appetizer or finger food at your next dinner party post Coronavirus. These are sure to impress your friends with your new found molecular gastronomy skills. Until then make them for yourself, and pair them with a nice bottle of sparkling wine.


Unbelievable Blini

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Caviar Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 grams agar-agar
  • about 2 cups olive oil

Sour Cream Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic (optional)
  • 1 block of mori-nu firm silken tofu (about 12 oz)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Blini Ingredients

  • 1 package of CorEats Pancake & Waffle Mix
  • 3 tbsp flax meal
  • 9 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 cup plus 1 tbsp oat milk, or other non-dairy milk
  • -1/4 cup olive oil
  • a few sprigs of fresh dill to top

Caviar Directions

  1. Fill a tall thin glass with olive oil, and place in the freezer for at least a half hour. Using a tall glass ensures that the spheres will have time to cool and set before they hit the bottom of the jar. Using a thin jar allows you to do this while minimizing the amount of oil you actually need to use, and creating less waste. You can recycle a jar of the right shape just for this. I save a lot of glass jars for drinking and storing food in, and I have a jar that I believe used to be a home to olives that was the perfect size for this.
  2. In a small sauce pan start to heat your balsamic vinegar. Add in the agar-agar powder and whisk thoroughly.
  3. Bring the mixture up to a boil, and then promptly remove from heat.
  4. Using a syringe or a dropper drip small droplets into the chilled olive oil jar. Be sure to do this while the mixture is still hot. As it cools it will turn into a jelly, and be impossible to form into perfect spheres.
  5. You can either carefully spoon the spheres out into a fine mesh sieve, or dump the whole jar out into the sieve over the sink or a bowl. I’ve found that spooning them out, while tedious, makes it much easier to clean them. Dumping the whole thing out leaves behind a lot more of the oil residue that needs to drain through.
  6. Gently rinse off the caviar spheres, and store them in a bowl in the refrigerator until ready for use.

Sour Cream Directions

  1. Peel the garlic cloves, and add them to a food processor or blender with the tofu, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and sea salt. Puree until smooth. If you don’t want a garlic sour cream leave the garlic out, but I think it makes a nice flavor combination with the other ingredients and highly recommend it.
  2. Place in an air tight container and refrigerate for at least a half hour before use. This will give it the chance to develop more flavor.

Blini Directions

  1. Add the entirety of the CorEats mix to a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a small, separate bowl combine the flax meal with 9 tbsp water and allow to sit for five minutes. This will be the egg replacer.
  3. Add the oil, and non-dairy milk to the large mixing bowl, and whisk together well. I’ve found that adding a tablespoon or two more of non-dairy milk helps the consistency since we’re leaving out the vanilla. Do not add the vanilla as instructed by the mix package for this recipe. These are supposed to be savory, and even though they’re already lightly sweetened with monk fruit adding some extra salt and pepper seems to balance the flavors in a savory direction.
  4. Add the flax egg once it has congealed, and add in the salt and pepper. Mix well and allow the batter to sit for a few minutes while you preheat a skillet.
  5. Preheat a large pan. I used a stainless steel pan with plenty of canola oil spray in between batches, but you can use a non-stick pan as well if you have one. Either way I recommend spraying it with a bit of canola to enhance browning, and decrease sticking.
  6. Spoon the mixture by the tablespoon into the pan. I managed to cook about 4 at a time, but this will depend on the size of the pan you are using. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan.
  7. Cook until brown on one side, and flip to do the same on the other just like a normal pancake. This should take about 2-3 minutes on either side. The bubbles are more subtle with this pancake mix than with a thinner mixture, but they are still there. Watch for them to pop along the edges. This is usually a good indicator that it is time to flip the pancake.
  8. Cover a plate or tray with a towel to soak up some of the excess oil, and place finished blini on it. Repeat the cooking process until all the blini are nicely browned and cooked all the way through.
  9. Assemble the blini on a nice tray, or serving platter. Top the pancakes with sour cream, then caviar, then some little sprigs of dill. Add some additional salt and pepper to taste. You should have about 14 blini.
  10. Serve as an appetizer with your favorite sparkling wine.

Quick and Easy Queso

Last week we posted a recipe that we created for Notcho Nocheez to showcase their product. This week we’re doing it again, because we love Notcho Nocheez! The featured recipe last week was for our Veggie Packed Mac & Nocheez, an entree dish, so this week we figured we’d highlight the product as a side dish or snack to showcase its versatility. Notcho Nocheez paired with your favorite salsa makes for an easy queso dip. This recipe is great if you need something in a pinch for a party. Just throw together some Nocheez, a jar of your favorite salsa, and a few other ingredients you probably already have on hand.

For those of you who didn’t read the Notcho Nocheez recipe we posted last week here’s the run down. Notcho Nocheez is a Pittsburgh based company that sells a deliciously dairy free cheese dip that’s available in three flavors; classic, tangy, and hot. They’re all amazing, and the variety of flavors adds versatility to the recipes you can use them for. Nocheez is great as a basic dip and spread, but it’s also a great replacement for dairy cheese in your favorite dishes. Try using it in a cheese sauce for mac & cheese, a cream sauce for other pasta, a sauce for a vegan Philly Cheesesteak, broccoli & cheese soup, or a queso dip like this recipe.

Notcho Nocheez is perfect for queso dip, because it’s already pretty close to the same texture. We added some oat milk to thin it out a little bit, but it’s definitely easier to use for queso dip than solid vegan cheese that you have to melt down. The jalapenos in this recipe are optional, but they add a nice punch of flavor and act as a great garnish. This recipe is enough dip for 2-4 people, but it’s easy to double for a larger party.


Quick and Easy Queso

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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You can use any flavor of the Notcho Nocheez for this recipe. We used the classic flavor with a medium salsa.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of Notcho Nocheez (about half the jar)
  • 1/4 cup oatmilk
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp corn starch (optional)
  • 2 tsp water (optional)

Directions

  1. Dice jalapeno. Cut a few rings if you want to use them as garnish.
  2. Heat olive oil in a small pot on low heat. Add jalapeno. Allow for jalapeno to toast for a minute to develop flavor before adding other ingredients.
  3. Add the Notcho Nocheez followed by the oat milk. Whisk together vigorously.
  4. Add salsa. Whisk together.
  5. Allow queso to simmer for about five minutes, stirring often.
  6. If the sauce is not thick enough create a slurry with the corn starch and water. Whisk into the queso, and allow to simmer until the dip starts to thicken up.
  7. Remove from heat and serve. Top with jalapeno rings if desired.

Easy Trail mix

When I was growing up I regularly played sports, and was an active member of the Girl Scouts of the USA. I was on the go a lot, and frequently away from home for long periods of time. I learned that quick, filling, and nutritious snacks are a necessity when you’re active. Troop and activity leaders frequently provided trail mix to meet this need, and it’s continued to be a long time favorite of mine.

Trail mix offers a lot of versatility. You can add dried fruit, veggies, sesame sticks, nuts, pretzels, and even chocolate! This makes it ideal for even the pickiest of eaters. Trail mix makes it easy to pack a lot of nutrients into a small container to take with you wherever you go.

The recipe that I’ll share today has been our go to trail mix for the past year or so. It’s easy to make, and affordable. You can make the exact recipe, or use it as an outline for a basic trail mix and add whatever you want. Our trail mix contains almonds, dried fruit, and sometimes chocolate. I advise buying dried fruit that doesn’t contain any added sugar, or dehydrating your own fruit if you happen to own a dehydrator.

Easy Trail Mix

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup almonds or other nuts (you can use a variety if you wish)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dried coconut strips
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dried bananas
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened dried strawberries
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened dried blueberries
  • 1 tbsp vegan chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Measure out all ingredients into a container with a lid. We used a ball jar.
  2. Shake well to integrate.
  3. Store trail mix in original container, or portion out into smaller to go containers/bags. Enjoy.

If you do choose to add vegan chocolate chips we recommend that you refrigerate your trail mix until serving if it’s hot outside.

Vegan Loaded Baked Potato Salad

When I was a teenager I worked at a regional grocery store chain for several years. They had this loaded baked potato salad in their prepared foods case that I was addicted to while I worked there. Like most potato salads it was mayo based, but clearly had hints of sour cream in it as well. It was also filled with bacon, shredded cheese, and chives. I’m not a huge fan of potato salad, but this was the bomb.

undefinedI’ve had a few cravings for that potato salad over the last few years, but alas it contains a boat load of animal products, so I haven’t had it since around the time I stopped working there. Nick and I have been grilling a lot, and both had a craving for potato salad as a side, so we decided to recreate this using vegan ingredients.

We’ve been posting healthy recipes on and off, but this one’s all about the comfort. If you’re looking to skip a green side salad at your next meal and replace it with a more indulgent variety of “salad” this mayonnaise based monstrosity has got your back.

It goes great with your grilling favorites like this beyond meat sausage, and grilled corn!

Vegan Loaded Baked Potato Salad

  • Servings: 6-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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You can peel the potato skin after boiling them if you prefer, but we recommend leaving it on for the added texture.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb yukon gold potatoes
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup vegan sour cream
  • 1/4 cup vegan cheese shreds
  • 6 slices of light life bacon
  • 1 tbsp green onion
  • 1 tbsp chives
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Scrub potatoes well, and rinse them off.
  2. Fill an 8 qt or larger stock pot a little less than 3/4 of the way with water. Set burner to high and cover the stock pot to bring water to a boil.
  3. Chop potatoes into large chunks. Each chunk should be about 1/4 to 1/6 of the potato depending on the size of the potato. Think about two bites for each chunk. Try to keep the sizes consistent so they cook evenly.
  4. Once the water has come to a boil uncover the pot and add the potatoes. Boil for 20 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from heat and drain with a colander.
  5. While the potatoes are boiling add one tbsp of coconut oil, or other vegetable oil to a pan and lay down your strips of bacon.
  6. Cook bacon until it is crisp on both sides, turning halfway through. Remove from heat, and lay the bacon out on a towel to absorb some of the excess grease.
  7. Break bacon down into small pieces, and set aside.
  8. In a small bowl mix together vegan mayo and vegan sour cream.
  9. Place boiled potatoes into a large mixing bowl, and spread mayo-sour cream mixture over them. Mix together until all of the potatoes are evenly coated.
  10. Sprinkle vegan bacon, vegan cheese shreds, chives, green onion, salt, and pepper over top of the potato mixture and stir until everything is well integrated.
  11. Cover and refrigerate for one hour to chill.
  12. Serve chilled.

For our ingredients we used Hellmann’s vegan mayo, Tofutti Sour Supreme, Lightlife Smart Bacon, and Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds.