Victoria Vegan Pasta Sauces: The Vegan Alfredo-Lover’s Dream! »
The lovely family over at Victoria Vegan recently sent me a variety of their pasta sauces for review, and so review them I happily will!
They sent me their Arugula Pesto Alfredo, Artichoke Alfredo, Vodka sauce, Roasted Bell Pepper Alfredo and Original Alfredo to try. I invited my sister over for the fun, as pasta is her favorite food. We called it our “Marinara Tasting Party”, though our party was dominated mostly by Alfredo sauces!
Clockwise from top left: My plate, my sister’s plate, sautéed spinach with vegan bac’un bits and my niece Audrey enjoying the Original Alfredo sauce with pasta! I made my sister and I the garlic bread and spinach (veganized), because those were staples on pasta night when we were growing up.
I had tried the Roasted Bell Pepper sauce a little while ago, so I already knew I was a fan of this brand! It was exciting to be able to sample so many varieties, and though I really enjoyed them all, my personal favorite was the Arugula Pesto. The Artichoke Alfredo definitely came in at a close second. They were so interesting and full of flavor; I thought the creaminess of the Alfredo complimented both the Arugula Pesto and Artichoke so well! My sister’s favorite was the Vodka sauce, so I sent her home with it. (She’s always open to trying vegan food, and it feels like such a victory when we find things she likes.) Audrey just had her 18 month check-up earlier that day, in which she was given the okay to finally introduce nuts in her diet. That was a good thing because Victoria Vegan Alfredo sauces are cashew based (it’s more of a fruit, I know, but you can never be too careful with nut allergies)! The sauces are also non-GMO and gluten-free! REJOICE! Sometimes they are soy-free as well, but be sure to check the labels on that.
After my sister left, I had four open, full jars of sauce to figure out what to do with! Things got creative over here. I had some jumbo shells I was waiting to do something special with, and having the Arugula Pesto sauce was the perfect reason to finally make them!
I filled my shells with sautéed mushrooms, garlic, onions and kale. I also added pinches of nutritional yeast, bac’un bits and salt. I was quite pleased with the results!
By this time I was getting tired of eating pasta, and was racking my brain for something fun to make. I thought fried mac and cheese sounded good, but not quite what I was in the mood for. So instead, inspired by this recipe, I fashioned baskets out of phyllo dough. It’s not as hard as it sounds, I swear! I made mac’n cheese with sautéed onions, mushrooms and spinach, again with a pinch of bac’un bits and nooch. I used the Orginal Alfredo for these, but any of the white sauces would be perfection! [Ed. note: DAMN GIRL GIMME THAT!]
Phyllo dough is not impossible or overly intimidating to work with, I swear! My mom’s secret is to keep it covered so it doesn’t dry out, but with a dry towel instead of a wet one. I greased a muffin tin, and then stuffed one folded sheet of dough into each hole. I then filled the dough with a spoonful or two of mac’n cheese, brushed the edges of the dough with olive oil and baked it at 350 until the edges were lightly browned. EASY, SEE?
All in all, I am a big fan of Victoria Vegan Alfredo sauces! If you see the Arugula Pesto, I’m telling you, pick it up! You can’t go wrong with any of the varieties and seriously, don’t be afraid to dress them up a little when you make them! I don’t live near a Whole Foods right now, but I was daydreaming combining any of the sauces with these ravioli (I can almost taste it!).
Full Disclosure: Victoria Fine Foods sent me these jars of sauces, free of charge, to review. All opinions stated above are solely my own.
Recipe: The Vegan Italian Hoagie! »
Growing up in Philly, I ate plenty of hoagies in my pre-vegan days. Italian hoagies were my jam especially so when I saw that Diaya was coming out with provolone slices, I was like, “this is it! It’s hoagie time!” And god bless me, my vegan hoagie turned out out of control delicious!
You too can make your own Italian hoagie, here are the supplies you will need:
-Italian Amoroso-type roll (I found one at the deli at the regular grocery store—had cornmeal dust and all)
-Vegan mayo (I used Earth Balance)
-Veg salami (I used Viana Velami, got this and the Daiya from Vegan Essentials)
Slice your roll along the side (not the top like crazy Subway) and spread the mayo inside. Place your meat and cheese slices like so:
Then slice your lettuce and onions. BTW this is prob the only time I will ever recommend iceberg for anything. Don’t tear it or anything, the lettuce should be sliced into strips like these:
And I just sliced the onion similarly. Sprinkle ample amounts of lettuce and onion on top of your open sandwich. Then top with pickle slices.
Sprinkle a little of your oil and vinegar on top. Then the salt, pepper, and a dash of oregano.
Vegan Dog Chews: Puppies say “yum!” »
When I tweeted about Figgy’s appreciation for his new vegan pig ears, a bunch of people responded. I understand why—it’s hard to find a good veggie chew! And I’ve read chewing is a natural habit for dogs that relieves boredom and stress, and can help clean their teeth. My Figaro doesn’t really care for chew toys nowadays—if he can’t eat it, he’s not interested. So I’ve done a fair amount of searching for the perfect edible vegan dog chew. I don’t know if I’ve found perfect, but I’ve found some good stuff. And it’s all Figgy approved!
Here are the pig ears you can see Figgy devouring in the top pictures. They are from Vegansaurus friend Vegan Essentials. Fig LOVES them. The only prob was one didn’t last that long. It lasted about ten minutes. That’s longer than it used to take him to eat those yam chews though. And like I said, he really liked it, so these will be a regular in the Figgy treat rotation.
This is a long-lasting option that is vegan, as far as I can tell: Paragon crocodile dog chews (there are hedgehogs too!). You can buy these at Figgy’s friend’s store Nip and Bones. The issue with these is that I don’t think they’re super flavorful but that may be why they last so long. It seems like Figgy likes to carry these around more than chew on them—but whatever keeps him happy! He even tries to take them with him on walks, so silly. And he does eventually work his way through them so it’s a nice little chew.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Sam’s Yams; well Fig is totally over those. They had a good run, but they only lasted him about five minutes anyway. But then I discovered these Sam’s Yams bones and Fig will actually condescend to eat these! I don’t know if the chamomile makes him calm but as chewing is a stress relieving activity, it must do something regardless.
Here’s a nice bone Figgy likes, the peanut butter Booda Bone. He’s not obsessed with these, but he enjoys them. I emailed the maker and they said both the peanut butter and mint bones are vegan. Fig likes the peanut butter ones.
This isn’t actually a chew but these deserve a mention. When I first got Fig from the PSPCA, he was a skinny-mini and liked any treat he saw. Now he’s a fatty and he’s so snobby about treats! He is totes over your dry biscuit variety; it’s all about moist, chewy treats. For that I recommend Paw’s Gourmet Chunky Chewies. Figaro loves these. They’re just made of peanut butter, molasses, and oats; so you could probably make them at home but bleh, I hate making stuff (though if you have a recipe you’ve tried and liked, send it and I’ll link it). If you are not opposed to honey, these little molasses bits from Paw’s Gourmet are a great size and also nice and soft. But the Chunky Chewies are honey-free.
Last but not least, don’t forget about a good old Kong toy filled with peanut butter. You can freeze it with the peanut butter inside to make it last a bit longer. You can find Kong just about everywhere. Again, not a chew; but this is good activity and sure to relieve boredom.
There you have it! To all those dogs who think chewiness is next to godliness, there’s sure to be something here for you.
Product Review: Nutty Cow Vegan Ricotta! »
Now, I don’t know what’s on the market these days in terms of vegan ricotta, but it doesn’t matter. I just tried Nutty Cow’s ricotta, and it’s all that exists to me.
I hate to admit this, but I really wasn’t sure what to expect when Carla of Nutty Cow approached us to sample this product. Vegan cheeses are sometimes great, but most of the time, kind of weird. However, I could tell I was going to like their cheese when it arrived in the mail just by the packaging—the logo is so well done!
Being hungry and impatient, I opened one of the three containers immediately and ate it with crackers.
I realized then that this wasn’t just any vegan cheese product. It was special. And though it’s made with nuts, the texture is so soft and creamy! I knew I’d have to hold back on the remaining two packages and make something incredible.
Carla suggested I make lasagna, which is a dish I haven’t made in 10 years! I was like, “all right,” but really I was just going to lazily spread it over Whole Foods spinach Florentine raviolis. Then I got inspired to fill large pasta shells with the cheese and bake it with my winning combo of spinach, mushrooms, garlic and caramelized onions. Fate was on Carla’s side, as I couldn’t find the shells I wanted at the store. Lasagna it was gonna be.
Boy, am I glad I made lasagna.
Nutty Cow Ricotta made this lasagna. I should not have indulged in cheese and crackers earlier in the week so that I could have topped my dinner with the ricotta—or at least added another layer to the lasagna! Oh, well. The ricotta was so creamy and delicious! My roommates and I loved it, one of my roommates being a new vegetarian and the other an omnivore. It’s awesome when my omni friends and family like vegan products as much as I do.
"Where can I get this Nutty Cheese?" you ask? Carla says, "We are so excited to be launching next month (fingers crossed), September at the latest. It will be available at Veganessentials.com [a Vegansaurus supporter!] and several stores in the Midwest (so far). We will be announcing stores as it becomes ‘official’ in the next few weeks on our FB page and have been encouraging everyone to ‘like’ us or at least check in on the page to see where we will be available. Also, we will be at Expo East in September in Baltimore and hope to have wider distribution after the show.” So there you have it!
*I find that the attention to detail in the artwork usually means a superior (albeit sometimes more expensive) product. This is not always true, and graphic designers DO NOT COME CHEAP.
Holy Cow vegan M&Ms! They are the yum. I got them from Vegan Essentials last week and they are SO GOOD. Like real M&Ms! They take a little longer to melt and I think the shells might be a bit crunchier but not in a bad way at all. And the chocolate is probably actually better because it’s not uber-sweet milk chocolate. Milk chocolate is for babies, am I right?! I’m always right!
Vegan Easter candy round-up! »
Hey pals! Easter is coming up! How about a vegan Easter round-up? Don’t mind if I do!
"Speckles" Chocolate Rice Crispy Bunny and Flavored Solid Vegan Eggs from Allison’s Gourmet. This bun is too cute! And I love crispies in my chocolate. These chocolates are also gluten-free and made with fair-trade cocoa.
White Rabbit Ostara Hare Easter Bunny Vegan White Chocolate from Realist Mermaid on Etsy. These are also gluten-free! Who likes white chocolate? Not me! But I know some people do and this actually sounds really good. It’s flavored with organic Tahitian vanilla bean. Yum!
Vegan Easter assortment from No Whey Candies on Etsy! This collection looks AHMAYZING.
And don’t forget your vegan creme eggs from Queen Balch! You know we love vegan creme eggs up in this piece.
Look at this little guy! This Sjaak’s chocolate bunny is filled with almond butter! My mom loves her some almond butter. And this is great for kids with peanut allergies! A special treat. And you know Sjaak’s uses fair-trade and organic ingredients.
For those not that into chocolate (you crazy bastards), Vegan Essentials has these cute sugar chicks and bunnies!
Vegan large Easter bunny girl from Chocolate Decadence! Such a pretty lady! This 12” chocolate statue stands up. Good lord! That’s a big bunny.
For you Peeps fans, Sweet and Sara’s Easter Skippers and Sunnys! These are so cute!
Vegan marshmallow chicks covered in chocolate! Dang, son! These look yums.
From Rose City Chocolatier, a super cute hat box filled with Easter chocolate! This is adorbs. Any kid would die if you got them this!
For another basket, Indie Candy has this great pack of Easter goodies! I love the carrot lollipops, so cute.
There you go guys, I hope you have a happy Easter if having a happy Easter is something you want!
Nacheez has a television commercial! How exciting and super adorable, right? Do you want to know more? We asked Ilsa Hess, Nacheez chef and creator extraordinaire, all about it!
Vegansaurus: How did this come to be and when do we get to see it on our airwaves?
Ilsa: The Sacramento Art Institute contacted me out of the blue and said they were starting their commercial video production class and wanted the students to work with actual businesses to get a real-life experience. So, they contacted about eight different small and local small businesses and I was one of them!
Right before we started meeting the students, the professor came to me and said that he had given the students a pop quiz. The student who got the highest score was able to pick the biz they wanted to work with. The winner chose Nacheez! I was so flattered!
Samuel Platz (the winning student) and I sat and talked Nacheez…. He shot the commercial, created the music and graphics, had a budding voice-over professional read the voice-over, and local budding actors be in the video. When I saw the end product, I was blown away yet again! He treated me with the utmost professionalism but was also very friendly at the same time. I recommend him to anyone who needs a great TV commercial. I’m holding off to air my TV commercial until I’m in more stores across the country. I’m hoping with some more exposure, that can happen soon!
Got that everyone? We gotta get Nacheez in more stores so Ilsa will air her commercial! Do it! Demand Nacheez at your local vegan-friendly supermarket! Also, buy it where it’s already available (Rainbow, Vegan Essentials, Nacheez) cause it’s goooooood.
Vegan nacho cheese: a love story, I mean taste-off »
I was on a mission. A mission to
gorge out elegantly eat every new vegan cheese on the market. For you! My most unselfish venture ever! To let you know, as the vegan consumer, where to spend your hard-earned dollars!
In the ring:
Food for Lovers Vegan Queso
Nacheez (mild and spicy versions)
Here’s what I have to say. If you are looking for a fight, go watch Rocky. Or The Fighter — it’s totally streaming on Netflix right now—‘cause I only have great things to say about both products.
Here’s how the taste-off went down. Sarah M. Smart came over with a bag of chips. I had the cheese. We ate.
Food for Lovers
- Spicy. I have a high tolerance, and didn’t notice until the roomie tried some and cried out “Whoo! That has some kick to it!”)
- Made in small batches by Crystal and Chris Tate in Austin, Texas.
- Every time I eat it, I think I belong in Austin. (SXSW!)
- Would bring it to a Superbowl party. Or somewhere there are sports. I don’t know. It has that taste to it. The only bros I know watch Star Wars, so I’d bring it to a screening of that. Non vegan guys would scarf this down. And not know it’s vegan.
- Has gluten. Sorry, celiac sufferers.
- Has nutritional yeast in it. I’m a vegan who dislikes nutritional yeast. NOT ANYMORE! I love this product! Cheesy, spicy, plus the tomatoes and peppers within taste fresh.
- No need to heat up. Can be eaten at room temperature.
- Comes in spicy and mild flavors! Spicy is good for me, mild is good for a dish like, mac ‘n’ cheese. Or my mom, pepper is too spicy for her.
- Doesn’t have gluten.
- Made by Isla Hess in Sacramento, Calif.
- Every time I eat it, I feel like maybe Sacramento isn’t a such a bad place after all. Maybe as a vegan, I could have a life out there.
- With this product, I imagine my girlfriends coming over, talking about things we do, putting on avocado face masks and making chili cheese tofu dogs without FEELING GUILTY! Cause Nacheez has so few calories with mucho taste! Bikini body, here I come. (Not. I just drank a six pack)
- OK, I love road trips. I miss gas station nachos. Nacheez brings me back.
- Has to be reheated. Not room-temperature friendly. But you own a pot and have a stove top, right?
All in all, both are worth your hard earned dollars. Food for Lovers is definitely a queso in the most delicious form ever, whereas Nacheez fills the void of the nacho cheese you’ve been missing.
Nacheez mac ‘n’ cheese:
What happens when Sarah M. Smart and I drink Trader Joe’s-brand Corona and wine:
Thank you so much Isla Hess, and Crystal and Chris Tate for providing your delicious and amazing products free of charge!
Vegan Fourth of July! »
Did any of you take pics of your feast? I did! Being vegan during the holidays is so much fun! Actually every day (eating is great)—but during holidays with my family I can rest assured they will help me stock up on vegan food at Whole Foods so I have things to eat/don’t feel left out. I’m so lucky! Thanks, fam!
Potato salad (yay Veganaise!), citrus spare rib cutlets, fruit salad, corn on the cob (yay Earth Balance!), Great White, and a green salad. What did you have? Send us pics!
Hey single veg males! Win a ticket to Veg Speed Dating in August! »
Are you a vegan, vegetarian, or veg-curious male? Over 21 but under 50? Single? Interested in girls? YOU ARE?! Well, I’m available!
Not only is there the possibility for you to score a hot date with me, but if you meet the aforementioned criteria, you could win a free ticket to Karine Brighten’s Speed Dating Event at Saturn Cafe in Berkeley!
There are two ways to win, both which involve having a Facebook account and one requiring Twitter. Ready boys? I Am Veganlicious is holding a giveaway in which you have to like: the comment on Facebook regarding the event; and the comment on the San Francisco Bay Area Vegan Events page. Full details here.
Karine Brighten is also holding a similar giveaway; follow her on Twitter and mention the event, or “like” her Facebook page and leave a comment! I totes won a Vegan Essentials gift certificate from her in the past, and I have no luck whatsoever! Do it single boys!