Basil Cashew Cream Sauce

Hey, friends! It’s been a while since I posted a savory recipe, and I’m going to try to get on this more for a few reasons. The first reasons is I love sharing (duh) and getting people to try new things they normally wouldn’t. Second, we’re back to a mainly plant based diet and I need to have a good way of remember what we liked and how to make it again more or less.

A few weekends ago, when we were up in the mountains of Maine, Andy’s aunt who has been on a whole foods plant based diet for two years brought up some homemade basil cashew cream she made and we went nuts. This stuff is incredibly good and is awesome on pasta, for dipping veggies in, for dipping tortilla chips in and whatever the heck else you think sounds good. It really is super versatile, though we love it most on a good pasta. I had heard about cashew cream for desserts, but I had never made it or heard about it being made savory. I’m hooked.

This is a super duper simple dish that anyone with a blender, and I’m guessing a food processor, can make. It takes four ingredients and two spices and is incredibly hard to screw up. That’s it, unless you choose to do more to it.

  • Basil
  • Raw cashews (don’t use roasted or salted)
  • Garlic
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Pepper

DSC_7069-01Here’s how it goes:

Put all items in blender. Blend and add more of whatever until it has the taste and consistency you like. I would say I did about 1 1/2 cups of raw cashews, 4-6 handfuls of basil leaves, a whole bunch of garlic (we love it around here) and enough water to make sure it still had a nice thickness to it so it would really cling to garlic. Think hummus thickness, only slightly thinner.

DSC_7070-01Most important of all, just have fun with it as I think we should do with all cooking. Add your garlic slow, add your basil slow, add your water slow, add your salt slow and you’ll be fine. I don’t like a lot of salt, so I use very little and let Andy salt to his taste. I love pepper though, so I use very little and then pepper to my taste on my own plate. 

DSC_7073-01When all is said and done, use it however you would like. I put mine in masons jars since I made in the afternoon, and we used one jar over pasta that night, and one jar over pasta last night. 

DSC_7082-01DSC_7091-01This is officially a staple in our home. It’s simple, it’s clean, it’s easy, it’s worth the 2 minutes it takes to throw together, and it’s very good for you. I never thought I would say it but as much as we love pesto in this house, we’re actually going towards this delicious cashew cream on a regular basis. Crazyness.

xo,

Heather

Garden Eggrolls + Honey Chili Cider Dipping Sauce

My husbands family is made up of amazing cooks & bakers. No one is a professional chef, but any one of them easily could be. My mother-in-law could take a clove of garlic, a potato and some flour and come out with a delicious pot roast. My father-in-law has an extra chromosome allowing him to always grill a piece of meat over a wood fire perfectly. Needless to say, my husband inherited those genes. I grew up in a house where good food was a regular thing, but I didn’t really start cooking until college. I knew the basics, but I vowed I was going to learn to cook good food, and it was going to be delicious – no holds. My father is great at cooking more complex things, and my mom has a knack for comfort food. Thankfully I got a little of both sets of skills, though they took some time to flesh out. You never would have known I had the genes for it in high school when I opened a bag of salad – and it went all over the floor (first mistake – buying bagged salad).

So, with all that background aside, whenever we have time, Andy and I cook together. With the house renovations and other projects it’s become a rare thing, but when we can we absolutely do. It’s one of my favorite things.

Last week, after picking up a new fridge & dishwasher from my mom, Andy and I went out for some Thai food. Andy was immediately smitten with the egg rolls. That said, he’s smitten with egg rolls in general. This time though he mentioned we should try making them at home. We dissected one at the table (because we’re those people), and Andy took notes of the undertones of the chili sauce. In the words of Andy, “you don’t need a recipe, all you need is an idea.”

Our idea was inspired by what we had left in the garden; you can use anything you want to fill these. How we made them is below. There are no exact measurements for this recipe, so I’m taking a guess. As Andy said, “…it’s all optional. You can make it different every time.”

Garden Egg Rolls

Ingredients

  • Egg roll wrappers, found in most grocery stores in the refrigerated produce section (at least at our Shaws and Hannaford)
  • 1/2 head green cabbage
  • 3-4 kale leafs
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup diced green onion
  • teaspoon or two ginger powder
  • teaspoon or two garlic Powder
  • a bunch of basil
  • 1/2 to 1 cup diced white button mushrooms
  • 1lb ground pork
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Directions

1.) Slice and dice everything up small and cook together in peanut oil. Add in the basil, ginger and garlic and let it all cook down.

2.) In a separate pan cook your ground pork and keep cutting it up with your spatula so it doesn’t clump. Or, cook it like I did in a large thin patty and then chop up. Add salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze a lime into the pork. I sprinkled a little ground ginger on top too, why not?

3.) Combine the veggies and pork and set aside.

4.) Make sure your counter is dry and layout an egg roll sheet. Put a tablespoon or two of filling in the center on the diagonal. Fold the sides in first, then the bottom and then roll. Seal with just a little water. I just dipped my finger into a ramekin of water and pressed on the fold.

While you’re rolling start heating up your peanut oil, and gently place the rolls in the hot oil. Only do 2-3 at a time. You don’t want to crowd them, or let your oil boil over or you will have an oil fire. On second thought, keep your fire extinguisher close by anytime you fry. On third thought, never leave anything you are frying. Even for a second. Ever.

If you don’t seal them properly, like our first one, it will look like this. Delicious none the less, but it started to open. Andy was able to keep it sealed slightly with a spoon so the filling didn’t come out.

If you seal them right, they will look like this.

Now for the tasty sauce.

Honey Chili Cider Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

Everything below but make sure to also add in about 1/3 to 1/4 of a medium Hungarian wax pepper and a shake or 2 of cracked red pepper. As a note Hungarian wax peppers are less hot than a jalapeno but hotter than a banana pepper. Cracked red pepper is a different kind of heat, and it hits in a different way. We tried a second batch without either, but it just wasn’t the same. This sauce needs the heat, and it’s delicious.


Directions

This is a sweet sauce, that slowly transforms to have just enough heat to make the flavor profile unbelievably delicious. I asked Andy how he made it, so in his words, “You start off with a lot of sweet, add just enough liquid to make it thinned out and then it punches you with heat”.  If you don’t like any amount of heat, and want to leave it out then that makes me sad. But really, I would lessen the honey and add a little more vinegar. It will cut the sweet and give a bite. It won’t taste the same as with the heat, but it would still be okay. If you don’t have a wax pepper, sub any other hot pepper and see what happens.  We used a Hungarian wax because we have a plethora of them from the garden.

To translate:

1.) Start with about 3-4 tablespoons of honey

2.) Add a tablespoon or so of apple cider, and a teaspoon of cider vinegar to thin it out.

3.) A small splash of peanut oil next

4.) Whisk together and assess the thinness. It should easily drip off leaving just a thin coat on the spoon, i.e. not honey like at all. At this point the mixture is very sweet with just a little bite from the vinegar.

5.) Add a few shakes of cracked red pepper, just a tiny pinch of garlic powder and a pinch of salt.

6.) Here comes the deliciousness – dice up about 1/4 teaspoon or the Hungarian wax pepper and add it to the sauce. Stir in and taste. Preferably on a hot delicious egg roll.

If you want, add in a little basil at the end, it gives it another great level of flavor.

Oh. So. Delicious.

Happy Homemade Egg Rolls,

Heather

Kale Pesto, Beet-greens, Mushroom & Feta Omelet

This post won’t be too long, as we have a wedding to attend today for one of my best friends, but I had to share this before we got on the road.

As I rolled out of bed this morning, while Mr. A kept working on our addition, my stomach was grumbling hard. I quickly snapped some photos of progress (post to come soon) and then got into the kitchen before 8am to get a few things done before this afternoon. I was going to make pancakes for breakfast until I noticed we desperately needed to use up produce.

Last week I bought some beets with the greens still attached so I could sautee the greens and slice the beets to attempt salt and vinegar beet chips. I’ll be posting about that tomorrow when I bake them (they marinate for 24 hours in vinegar) but here’s a sneak peak.

Once I was done slicing the beets I had all the greens left over which were already starting to wilt a little. I knew they needed to be used asap. A little detective work also showed some kale pesto, mushrooms and eggs which were dying to be used into a yummy omelet for the hubs and I.

Ingredients

  • tomato basil feta
  • kale pesto (recipe here)
  • mushrooms
  • eggs
  • butter
  • garlic powder

Directions

I planned on making a large omelet for Mr. A and I to share this morning, so I sauteed an entire container of mushrooms and about two bunches of beet-greens in a pad of butter. By pad of butter I mean about a 1/2 inch of butter. It’s that kind of morning.

Once sauteed down pretty well, dust with garlic powder to taste and add in kale pesto. Feel free to skip the garlic powder if you aren’t a huge fan or you already made your kale pesto so garlicky it could kill a vampire – like we do. Set aside.

In a large pan heat some butter or olive oil. Whisk eggs in a bowl (about 4 for 2 people who are hungry). Once heated well, add the eggs and thoroughly coat the pan with them. I prefer a thin omelet, so I use my huge pan and get it nice and thin (but thick enough to hold the ingredients, think double to triple crepe thickness).

Once eggs are cooked through a little, add the mushrooms/greens mixture. Sprinkle feta on top. Be careful not to add too much feta, the kale pesto has feta in it so it’s already salty.

Flip into omelet form, cook on each side for just a minute longer to warm the feta through and then, as is tradition around here, mow down.


This was so good, but I put just a tad too much feta in ours. Oh who am I kidding. I love feta. It was just enough.

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend! Off I go to get dolled up and put on a nice pair of heels, with beet stained hands.

Classy.

Happy Breakfast Noshing,

Heather