California = Mexican Inspiration = Cheese Nachos

The biggest takeaway from our recent trip to California was that we needed to get beans back into our lives and we (I) needed to start experimenting with making my own Vegan Cheese. This was a direct result of a fantastic dining experience we had at Gracias Madres, a beyond delicious joint we ate at not once but twice (so typical of us). Located in the Mission District, we stuck to going there in the daylight hours, but it is conveniently located only two blocks from the BART and if you head towards 17th street there are tons of cute Hipster Shops/Eats (not so scary).

I came upon Gracias Madres about five minutes after I found out we were going to San Fran. I hash tagged #VeganSanFran and boom it was there. Mouth watering photos came to life when we stepped in and ordered a number of different dishes. Andrew and I were so overwhelmed when we sat down we wanted to order everything and it took a solid few minutes deliberating and justifying the reasoning behind our appetizer selections (if only life was full of such hard decisions).

If I had to pick two favorites it would be the Coliflor Frito, which is flash-fried cauliflower, nacho cheese & lemon and the Butternut Squash & Caramelized Onions Quesadilla, topped with nacho cashew cheese, creama, pumpkin seed salsa and cilantro. When we asked what was in the nacho cheese there was mention about pecans, cashew and something else....I guess I have to go back to ask again. Andrew was so jealous of my Quesadilla (winning) he ordered his own (ahem, after asking me to finish his dish...which I obviously did without complaint since I am the garbage disposal for all goodies). 

So, beans have been heavily implemented in the last couple of weeks, but I think our greatest win came out of the Vegan Mexican Cheese (cashew based) I made per instructions from Minimalist Bakers recipe. Pretty yummy and incredibly easy to make. Plus this gave us the chance to have a dish we have been avoiding like the plague but love....Cheese Nachos!! With all the extras of course. 

Cheese Ingredients: 1 1/2 cup of Cashews, 3 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon chili, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chilli, 1/4 teaspoon garlic, 1 tablespoon oil. Plus your favorite hot sauce (we only had Siracha, but the recipe recommends chipotle in adobo, which I have never seen in a store before, so kind of lost on what it actually takes like). But I think you can use anything your heart desire to make it spicy. .

Pulse your ingredients in a mixer as you add them. It should be like a spreadable mixture. Add hot water a little bit at at a time to make it creamy to pour over your nachos. 

Black bean nachos were thrown on the pan. Added some raw onions, tomatoes, jalapenos and cooked pinto beans and set them in the oven at 350 to bake for 10 minutes. I then added some cheese and baked for another 5 minutes. In the mean time I whipped up some guacamole and opened up a salsa jar one of my good friends gave us a few months ago. Success!!! I, like the weirdo I am used a spatula to scoop the chips onto my plate and using a spoon put a bit of guacamole and salsa on each bite. Andrew told me I obviously have no idea how to eat Nacho's, as he proceeded to eat right from the pan and dip into the bowls. So much to learn!!!