VeganMoFo Day 2: Nacho – or should I say Nutcho? — Cheese Quesadillas and Steamed Ambrosia

Another swelteringly fabulous fall day in the Central Valley found the temperature creeping up just over 100 degrees.

Never fear, oh those of you who prefer the dance and dazzle of a “real” fall. We allegedly have a cooling trend heading our way. There are rumors that we might careen down to a crisp 79 by Friday, but I’ll believe it when my owl thermometer tells me it’s true.

Our MoFo Fiesta Fajita leftovers were somehow saved from teenage annihilation during the night. If you remember, though, I need to have enough to feed an army of two plus myself and my husband. I knew I couldn’t count on leftover fajitas to feed that crew.

Rummaging around in the pantry after arriving home this afternoon, I came up with the brilliant idea to make quesadillas. The idea was brilliant because it went with the theme and it kept me out of the heat and minimized the heat that would be generated by cooking in my kitchen. Brilliant!

To go along with the quesadillas, I thought I’d do something fun that everyone here loves. It’s a recipe I adapted out of my Rival Automatic Steamer & Rice Cooker’s manual. Like I said in an earlier post, the steamer’s a nice fella to have around.

Steamed Ambrosia

  • 2 large oranges (the prettier, the better)
  • 8 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained
  • 2 tbsp. coconut
  • 1 ½ tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Agave
  • 1/8 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 tbsp. slivered almonds
  • 4 maraschino cherries

Scrub the oranges and cut them in half. Using a sharp knife, cut around the fruit without cutting the orange peel. Then use a spoon to carefully remove the fruit from the peel. Set the peels aside. Cut the fruit into small chunks.

Cut the pieces of chunked pineapple in half. (I’ve found that the chunks are too large, but the crushed doesn’t have the right consistency.) Mix all of the items excluding the cherries and the orange peels together in a bowl. Divide the mixture into the four orange peel bowls and top each one with a maraschino cherry. Place the orange bowls into a steamer and steam for ten minutes.

Everyone loves these every time I make them. Besides, they’re darling!

I’ve never used cashew cheese to make quesadillas before, so I perused the internet for a while looking for “THE” quesadilla cashew cheese recipe. Wow! There are a lot of cashew cheese recipes out there. I could have been reading for hours (not that I’ve ever lost hours reading vegan recipes online before, mind you).

I decided that I’d use a familiar recipe and see how it turned out. Dinner in my house is always an adventure. The family dinner table is the best thing ever invented. One thing about a table full of hungry men: You know you’re going to get fast, unvarnished feedback. There are a lot of other things that go on at the family dinner table around here, but I’ll try to keep focused here and save those for a future post.

The nacho cheese I made is based off of a dip I found here: http://shmooedfood.blogspot.com/2006/10/nacho-cheese-dip.html

I’d made it a few times although probably not in the last year. I’m not a big fan of vegan cheeses and don’t miss cheese much at all. Still, this is my MoFo adventure, so I bravely charged ahead, my raw cashews clutched in my hand. In the end, I added some extras to it and crossed my fingers. Here’s how ours went tonight.

Vegan Nacho Cheese

  • ½ cup raw cashew pieces
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 oz. jar pimentos
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2-3 tbsp. diced green chilies
  • 2-3 tbsp. diced roasted red pepper

I put all of the ingredients except for the diced green chilies and the roasted red pepper into the blender in the order they appear above. Then I turned on the blender and let it run for a couple of minutes while I contemplated how much of the chilies and red pepper to put in.

I don’t have a powerful Vita-Mix type of blender (although it’s on my extensive kitchen wish list), so I poured the blended mixture through a strainer and into a pot on my stove. I put in the green chilies and roasted red pepper and heated the cheese for about 5 minutes. After the mixture had thickened, I let it cool slightly while I fired up the quesadilla maker.

A quesadilla maker is a rather unnecessary kitchen item, but it does make even quesadillas with perfect little lines for separating the pieces. It’s actually my older son’s kitchen toy, but he’s good about letting me borrow it – especially when I’m cooking for him.

I used burrito sized tortillas and put ¼ of the cheese into each quesadilla and then made ‘em crispy in the quesadilla maker. The nice thing about doing the quesadillas on the maker is that the edges of the quesadillas were crimped. The cheese didn’t thicken, so without the crimping, there may have been a bit of a mess.

Son #2 proclaimed, “These are good, Mom. We should have them every day!” and went on to tell me that I should consider simply posting quesadillas each day until the end of VeganMoFo. Based on that review, I call these quesadillas a success!

Everybody merrily chowed down. Thumbs up all around from the Valley Vegan Crew! Who can ask for more? Tomorrow night’s going to be all wonky because all the menfolk have places to go and people to see. I can hardly wait to see what’s going to MoFo its way onto our plates for the first of this family’s crazy schedule nights for October!

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