Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Lasagna with Cashew "Cheese"

  • Serves 6.
Being constantly-touring singers, my husband & I have completely omitted cheese & other dairy from our diets. Dairy likes to cake-on your vocal cords, and when you sing as often as we do, it can really affect your vocal health. If you told me 3 years ago that I would order pizza sans cheese, and not miss it, I would have thought you were crazy. BUT, it's true. I'm okay with not eating cheese, especially when I can indulge in yummy substitutes like cashew "cheese!" 

I found this awesome cashew "cheese" recipe on The Blender Girl's blog*, and decided it would be a fun experiment to make lasagna using the cashew blend instead of ricotta, and nutritional yeast instead of parmesan. IT WORKED! My husband & parents went nuts over it, and I have to say, nobody missed the cheese. ;)

If you are vegan, just omit the turkey. This recipe would be delicious without it, as well!

  • Lasagna Ingredients:
  • Oven-Ready lasagna noodles
  • 1 lb. ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 jar of your favorite tomato marinara sauce
  • 2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 bags baby spinach
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Cashew "Cheese" (recipe below)

  1. Directions for Lasagna:

  2. Preheat oven to 375°.
Make cashew cheese (recipe below). Set aside. Cook turkey over medium high heat in a large skillet. Salt & pepper to taste. Set aside. In the same pan, add a 1/2 tbsp. olive oil, half of the garlic, and 1 bag of baby spinach. Cook until fully wilted, and then repeat with 1/2 tbsp. olive oil, the rest of the garlic, and the 2nd bag of baby spinach. Set aside. In the same pan, add 1 tbsp. olive oil and mushrooms. Salt & pepper to taste, and cook until tender. In a large bowl, mix together turkey, spinach mixture, mushrooms, fresh basil, and tomato sauce.

Spread a thin layer of cashew "cheese" on the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish. Spread a little cashew "cheese" on the lasagna noodles, one at a time, to cover completely; place in a single layer in the baking dish. Top with turkey, spinach, etc. sauce mixture. Evenly sprinkle on some nutritional yeast flakes. Keep layering in the same order until all of the sauce is used (this should make 3 layers). For the top (4th) layer, spread cashew "cheese" on the noodles, make the layer, spread the rest of the cashew cheese over top, and sprinkle on some nutritional yeast. 

Rest lasagna for 30 minutes to allow the noodles to absorb liquid. Place in the oven & bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned. Rest at least 20 minutes before cutting.

  • Cashew "Cheese" Ingredients:
  • 4 cups soaked raw cashews (soaked for at least 2-4 hours)
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup nutritional yeast + more for sprinkling
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, ground

  1. Directions for Cashew "Cheese":

  2. *This cashew "cheese" recipe is adapted from The Blender Girl

  • Place the cashews, nutritional yeast, 1/2 of the water, 1/2 of the lemon juice, garlic and sea salt in the food processor and pulse until roughly blended.
  • Gradually add in more lemon juice, garlic, nutmeg and salt to taste.
  • Transfer the "cheese" to a bowl, and stir through the parsley.

    You want the "cheese" to be the consistency of ricotta. The more water you add, the creamier and thinner the cheese will become.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Perfect Paella

  • In February, Shawn & I gave my dad a birthday present: a meal of his choice, cooked by the two of us. Three nights ago, he told us that he wanted us to make him this birthday meal… and he wanted Paella. The two of us are leaving on a 'cross country-into Canada-40-day tour on Friday, so this freaked us out a little bit, but there was no way we were going to say no. :)

  • We found a recipe online that had raving reviews, and seemed pretty simple, so we adapted it to include some really yummy seafood, and put our spin on some of the spices & techniques. It turned out to be the perfect paella… not too saucy, yet not dry; tons of flavor, and perfect balance between the chicken/Andouille sausage and the seafood. My dad LOVED it.

  • No need to be afraid of making paella any longer. This recipe is not very involved at all. Enjoy!

  • Ingredients:
  • chicken thighs, skinned 
  • 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • (4-ounce) links fully-cooked Andouille sausage, sliced in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/3 cup chopped onion 
  • 3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 cups uncooked Arborio or Valencia rice
  • 3/4 cup canned diced organic tomato
  • 1 1/3 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 1/3 teaspoon saffron threads
  • garlic clove, minced
  • 4 cups free range, low-sodium chicken broth 
  • 1/2 pound large shrimp, shell & tail intact
  • 1/2 pound Mahi Mahi (or other fish that will hold it's own), skinned & de-boned, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • ~20 high quality fully-cooked frozen Blue Tip mussels, cleaned & de-bearded
  • 1 1/4 cup (1-inch) diagonally cut asparagus 
  • 3/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup green onion, sliced diagonally in 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into wedges

  1. Directions:

  2. Preheat oven to 400°.
  3. Rub chicken down with Herbes de Provence, smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Heat the oil in an 8-quart nonstick pot or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pot; cover and keep warm.
  4. Add sausage, onion and bell pepper to pot; cook 7 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove & set aside. Add shrimp & fish to pot; cook 2 minutes on each side; remove & set aside (seafood will not be fully cooked). Return sausage, onion, and bell pepper mixture to pot. Add rice, tomato, paprika, saffron, and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return chicken to pot. Add broth and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Cover pot. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Stir in shrimp, fish, mussels, asparagus, and peas. Cover and bake an additional 5--8 minutes or until chicken & seafood is completely done. Serve in a large bowl with mussels featured on the top. Finish with sliced green onions & lemon wedges.
Recipe adapted from MyRecipes.com

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

JJ's Asian-Inspired Slaw

My mom rarely cleans her plate at the dinner table, but last night when I cooked for the family, she had a second sandwich - and ate all of it. That's how I knew this was a recipe I will have to make again & again, so I'd better write it down.

Most of the time when I'm cooking I don't measure out the ingredients - I just fly around the kitchen, tossing ingredients together by intuition. I'm not sure of the measurements for this dish, but since I had a lot of requests for the recipe, I figured I will share the basics & let you all try it per your own intuition!

I initially was making this slaw to accompany BBQ pulled pork tenderloin sandwiches and was going to make my homemade BBQ sauce, but lost track of time. Last minute, I decided to top the pulled pork tenderloin sandwiches with this slaw, some vegenaise, Sriracha pepper sauce, and a little hoisin sauce. YUM. Directions are below for the pulled pork as well. :) -JJ


  • Half a head of green cabbage, shredded
  • 2 large radishes, peeled & julienned
  • Bragg's Apple Cider vinegar (add gradually to taste)
  • Mirin (add gradually to taste)
  • Fresh lime juice (maybe 1/4 lime?)
  • Black sesame seeds (shake generously!)
  • Tupelo honey (maybe a heaping teaspoon?)
  • Toasted sesame oil (add gradually - it's a strong ingredient!)
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped (to taste)
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • Chopped roasted peanuts (to top)


Toss cabbage, radish, vinegar, Mirin, lime juice, sesame seeds, honey, sesame oil, salt and cilantro in a large bowl. Taste it. Love it. Top with peanuts. Done.

Asian Pulled Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches...

  • Pulled pork tenderloin
  • JJ's Asian-Inspired Slaw
  • Toasted buns
  • Vegenaise
  • Sriracha pepper sauce
  • Hoisin sauce

Pulled Pork Tenderloin

Adapted from this recipe.

  • 2 pork tenderloins (~2.5 lbs.), halved lengthwise & cut into 2.5 inch pieces
  • 1.5 beers
  • 3/4 cup Bragg's apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 garlic cloves, bruised
  • Black pepper
  • Dried chili pepper
  • Kosher salt (~2 tsp)


Bring all of the ingredients to a boil, add the pork, cover, reduce heat to low, simmer for at least 1 hour or until pork is tender when stabbed with a fork. Remove pork from liquid, and pull apart using 2 forks.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Thai-Inspired Chili

This. This is really, really good. The photo of it… Not so much. ;)

My dad & I conceptualized the idea of a Thai-inspired chili recipe at least 4 years ago. The idea has been scribbled on a tattered piece of paper, hidden in a family recipe box, and we decided last night that it was finally time to make it come to life. The addition of red curry paste, fresh basil & cilantro, and a coconut drizzle to a pot of chili seemed like the perfect match - and it sure was!

I made enough for an army, so this recipe serves, like, 12 people. You will probably want to half it if you want to make it for a family of four - but I suggest you go ahead and just make a big pot of it so you have lots of leftovers. 

  • 2 tbsp. peanut oil
  • 3 sweet onions, chopped
  • 3 small bell peppers, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
  • 3 lbs ground pork
  • 28 oz. can of whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cups sliced button mushrooms
  • 22 oz. can of Sapporo beer
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 4 oz. jar red curry paste
  • 1 quart beef broth
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 cans red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 red chili pepper, deseeded & chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • Salt, to taste
  • Coconut milk, to drizzle (optional, but suggested)


Heat peanut oil over medium heat in a large pot. When the oil is hot, add onions, bell peppers, garlic, and pork until browned.

Add tomatoes, beer, tomato paste, red curry paste, beef broth, basil, cilantro, brown sugar, salt and turmeric. Mix well. 

Stir in 2 cans of kidney beans, mushrooms & chili pepper. Reduce heat & simmer for 1.5 hours.

Add 2 remaining cans of kidney beans & simmer for another 30 mins. Serve hot with a swirl of coconut milk.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Summertime Penne

Serves 4

Well, hello blog! I've been really bad about posting lately. I posted a photo of this dish on Instagram & Facebook and had a lot of requests for the recipe, so here we go! I didn't actually measure anything out while I was making this, so this isn't going to be a very "exact" recipe with measurements, etc. I suggest you only make this one if you're comfortable feeling things out in the kitchen. :)

  • 1 box Dreamfield's Penne Pasta
  • A handful of freshly shredded Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 3ish sun dried tomatoes (in olive oil), thinly sliced
  • A bunch of fresh green beans... maybe 4-5 cups? (see, this is really not exact at all)
  • 4-5 tbsp. good, unsalted butter
  • 2-3 tbsp. good extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • A handful of fresh tarragon leaves
  • About 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Sea salt & freshly grated black pepper


Bring a pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, snip the ends of your green beans, and wash them in cold water. Add them to the boiling water, and let them boil for about 1-2 mins, or until they are bright green & at your desired done-ness. I like mine very al dente so that they have a nice crunch to them. Set the beans aside.

Bring your water back to a boil, and salt it (I used the same water, but you can switch it out if you want). Cook pasta as it describes on the box.

When you have about 5 minutes left for your pasta to cook: In a large skillet (or a wok pan), melt the butter & add olive oil over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the garlic. Let cook for about 30 seconds, while stirring, then add the green beans. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in the sun dried tomatoes. Add a little sea salt.

When the pasta is finished, strain, and add to the pan (or add everything to a big bowl if you can't fit it all in the pan). Mix in Pecorino Romano cheese, lemon juice and tarragon. Salt & pepper to taste.


This was, seriously, one of my favorite dishes that I not only have made, but that I've eaten. The flavors worked perfectly, which could've gone either way since it was a complete experiment. I hope these directions do it justice. Enjoy!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Halloween on the Simple Man Cruise 2012

My boyfriend's band, Son of a Bad Man, was one of the acts on this year's Simple Man Cruise. It was such an amazing experience - one that will never be forgotten. The last night of the cruise, October 30th, was a Halloween celebration. This photo was taken of Shawn & me in our ventriloquist/ventriloquist doll costumes by Will Byington.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Food Porn

I haven't posted in awhile because I've been out of the country on the Simple Man Cruise with my boyfriend Shawn & his band, Son of a Bad Man. It was a BLAST. Shawn & I stayed in South Beach for Halloween, so, very soon, I will be back into the swing of things. I figured I'd post a beautiful photo that I took (with my iPhone 4) at Les Halles (Anthony Bourdain's restaurant in NYC) of beef tartare. I recently printed this on a large canvas for my kitchen. Enjoy. ;)