An Amateur Chef’s Take on Vegan Recipes
September 16, 2021
Though not completely vegan myself, I try my best to stay away from dairy, and I have found that eating vegan is the best way to do so. When I cook vegan food, I try to find recipes that resemble my childhood favorites or comfort foods that I can no longer stomach being lactose intolerant. Here, I have compiled some of my most successful recipes, being an amateur chef myself, with a few tips I learned in the process.
Vegan Pizza Bites
Recipe from Eat Figs, Not Pigs
It started as a craving for my childhood favorite: Totino’s Pizza Rolls. I willed myself not to drive to the nearest grocery store to scour the frozen section for what would end in a stomach ache. Instead, I settled for an alternative that wouldn’t leave me feeling bloated and greasy. Though tedious work, I created a new craving.
My first batch barely resembled the perfect pockets filled with goodness that I had envisioned, but they were delicious. After a few more takes on the recipe, I found the ingredients I prefer, namely the Miyoko’s cashew mozzarella cheese over the plastic-like Daiya cheese the recipe recommends and the Violife parmesan cheese. Though these brands come as a block of cheese, the effort to shred them is worth it. When it comes to the dough, that is the make or break for the presentation of the pizza bites, so make sure you choose a premade dough or one you are familiar with. I have still not found the perfect way to construct these. Using the ice cube tray as the recipe suggests is not ideal. I have since invested in a ravioli press to ease my frustration, but my advice for using the tray is not to roll the dough too thin, instead make sure that each indention is flexible and sturdy enough to hold the filling.
Vegan Banana Cinnamon Rolls
Recipe from Ambitious Kitchen
You will find that most of my practice with these recipes emerged out of a craving that would have compromised my tummy. These recipes rescued me from impending discomfort.
My memories of cinnamon rolls are of the anticipation felt when I peaked in the fridge at night to see a ready-to-whop roll of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, knowing that would be the smell I would wake up to the next morning. With this craving and the guilt of having overripe bananas on my counter, I searched for a solution, and this recipe found me. This recipe was one of the most difficult of my vegan endeavors yet the most crowd-pleasing. Also, precision is key with this recipe, not one of my strong suits.
My first tip would be to have a thermometer handy, as the activation of the yeast in the dough mixture depends on the exact temperature of the almond milk, which can be scary if you are not a skilled baker. Once done making the dough following the precise instructions, the rest is easy. Some of my preferred ingredients for this recipe include Califia unsweetened almond milk and Earth Balance vegan butter.
Creamy Jalapeño Dip
Recipe from Crumb Top Baking
An otherwise mediocre Tex-Mex chain has created a craving in many: the famous Chuy’s creamy jalapeño dip. I am no exception, having sacrificed my stomach for it on many occasions.
I tweaked it quite a bit for this recipe to more closely resemble the muse; I will explain my version below.
- 1 cup Hidden Valley Plant-Powered Ranch
- 1 cup raw cashews
- ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- Lime juice
- ⅓ cup Califia unsweetened almond milk
- 4 oz diced jalapeño peppers (note: this is based on your preferred level of spiciness, you can always add more)
- Sea Salt (desired amount, start with a pinch)
Start by soaking the cashews in hot water for about an hour. After soaking and draining the cashews, add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. I would recommend tasting and adjusting the ingredients based on your taste and consistency preference.
Homemade Vegan Mozzarella Sticks
Recipe from Sweet Simple Vegan
To not try my hand at these would have been an injustice to my fellow vegans and dairy-free eaters who fight the urge every day to not stop by Sonic for warm mozzarella sticks with marinara.
The instructions are straightforward to follow on creating the breading station and the frying process, but If you are like me and have never fried food, I would recommend making this a team effort. The stress put on keeping the breading station clean and separated becomes more challenging the more into the process you get, but sticking to it is beneficial to the structure of the sticks. The suggested ingredients already include my favorites, so no tips there. However, when making and storing these, I have to warn that they do not keep well. It is hard to reheat them and return them to their initial crunchy, gooey state after coming out of the frying pot. So plan to enjoy these fresh.