Cheddar Cheesy Cashew Ball / Spread

Springtime is a wonderful time to lay off the dairy.  I know, there are creamy sauces and ice cream and cheese and milk on your cereal, etc.  Well, I’ll tell ya – dairy makes ya snotty.  Not bratty (although it might do that to some people), snotty.  And who needs extra mucus in their life with all the pollen that’s gloriously drifting about allowing the abundance of flowers, trees and fruits that we love?  Not me.

Plus, Mr. Bigg Sis is not supposed to be eat dairy because it is inflammatory in nature, so we have discovered many other things to enjoy in it’s place but are always open to something that can go on a cracker, bread or sandwich that tastes or feels a bit like cheese.  This one comes from our good friend Somer at VedgedOut.com  She has an amazing array of tasty recipes if you would like to eat less animal products and she is the Queen of Vegan Cheese.  I changed this recipe just a little and my husband and I have been enjoying the results.  Little Sis has also made this (maybe following the recipe exactly – break for laughter here, Little Sis does not ever follow recipes exactly) and they enjoy it very much as well.

Follow the link for Somer’s original version:

Kick Ace Extra Sharp Raw Vegan Holiday Cheddar Cheese Ball

and here’s mine : Cheddar Cheese Spread:

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 4-6 hours
2 packed tablespoons dry pack sun dried tomatoes, snipped into small pieces with kitchen scissors then soaked along with the  water with the cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon dry sherry (optional – I used 1 Tbsp of Cabernet that I had on hand)
1 heaped tablespoon mellow white miso (I used 1.5 Tbsp of red rice miso – again what I had and I overscooped and just dumped it in anyway)
1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon onion powder (I used a heaping tsp.)
1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (I used 1/2 tsp)
dash cayenne
1/2 cup organic unrefined coconut oil (I used 1/4 cup and will explain why below so you can decide what you’d like to do)

Rinse the soaked cashews and sun-dried tomatoes and drain well.
Process the cashews and the tomatoes in a food processor (Somer states you can also use high powered blender but I did not) to form a paste – scrape down sides to incorporate all
Add seasonings and pulse until combined
Add the coconut oil.  I chose to use half the coconut oil because it is the coconut oil that will make this firm up more to make a cheese ball, and I was looking for something that would also serve as a spread.  I was also concerned that it not taste too coconut-ty.
Process well until the mixture is completely smooth, scraping down to mix it all. This process can take up to 10 minutes in a food processor and a few minutes in a power blender.
I then split my cheese into 2 containers and refrigerated – make sure you cover it as it will darken if you don’t.

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It firmed up nicely – and it holds it’s shape pretty well if it is cool in the house.  It softens mightily if you take it out on the deck when it is 75 degrees outside!

I used half to make a cheese ball by forming a ball once it was firm (about 4-6 hours) and rolling it in chopped pecans and dried, powdered sage.

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The other half I just left alone to be more of a spread.

Somer’s original version uses slivered almonds which would also be delicious!

If you are interested in other non-dairy cheesy like items, check out these other posts!
Cheese Free Italian – AWESOME recipe Little Sis had at a restaurant and reproduced
Dairy Free Pasta Toppers
Spaghetti Squash with Sunflower Lemon Pesto
 Dilly Sunflower Cheese Spread
 Zucheesy Noodles with Crunchy Bits

If you’re having a snotty spring, try laying off the dairy – you might be amazed at what a difference you notice after a week.  And if you’re not snotty…. well excuuuse me.  Then you can give these a try anyhow ;-0 – Just because I said so (I told you I was snotty).

GF pizza crust mix review and super fast pizza sauce

I used to make pizza at home about once a week.   Little Sis’ family has homemade pizza once a week as well – I know you’re stunned that we do something alike .  However, Mr. Little Sis is a gluten genius and makes heavenly crust from scratch.  My husband is funny and plays a mean guitar lick but does not make pizza crust and for some reason I don’t either.  I used to use whole grain flat breads from the store and add my quick sauce, lots of fresh veggies and cheese and bake.  Still a great fast option if you do gluten!

Since we can’t do gluten or dairy anymore we do not eat pizza.  This makes it much harder to deny my son crappy restaurant or school pizza.  I mean the kid LOVES pizza, he ought to be able to eat it sometimes, don’t you think?

I have tried a few GF crusts including using soccacia (garbanzo based crepe type thing), but although a nice meal, it doesn’t feel like pizza.  I should say the crust doesn’t feel like pizza.  It’s too flat – no spring.  I am SO spoiled.  Some people don’t have enough calories and I’m worried about spring in my dough, but there you have it.  If one CAN have spring in one’s dough – and yes I feel a song coming on – then why not?

Enter Namaste Foods GF pizza crust mix.  While it does include tapioca flour and arrowroot flour (pretty starchy, no fiber), the first ingredient is brown rice flour – and I’m sure it’s still better than what one gets in the school cafeteria pizza crust!

P1000676This was very easy to prepare – add water and oil, beat up for a few minutes and spread out on an oiled pizza pan (or cookie sheet in my case).  The crusts baked for 20 minutes and came out looking crispy on the edges and still a bit doughy in the middle:

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I topped them with my super fast tomato sauce:
1 28 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes (by all means use fresh if you have them)
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 large clove garlic
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp of basil, thyme and/or rosemary if you like.  I was using flavorful toppings so I just did oregano
Whiz it up in your blender.
If you don’t have a power blender like a Vita Mix, you could mince your garlic and then mix it by hand.

Spread the tomato sauce out on your crust….

P1000677  Let everyone have a little input on what goes on top (making sure that the reluctant vegetable eaters are only given choices you approve of 😉 )  and put back in the oven until the ‘cheese’ melts.  I used cashew cheese on half of the pizza for me and my husband and cheddar (my son’s fave – even on pizza) on the other half.  Olives  and bell peppers for everyone – zucchini on the other pie.

P1000678I have to say that the crust was crispy in spots and chewy in spots.  It was strong enough to pick up and eat the pizza with my hands, yet there was some chew.  Now the chew did not rival wheat crust, but it was at least chewy.

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We ALL enjoyed it, so I’m thinking if the gluten-eating pizza lover enjoyed it, that’s a good endorsement!  I may experiment to come up with my own mix from scratch, but until then, a bag of this in the pantry means I can get GF pizza on the table in about 35 minutes.   That makes me feel springy all over!