What to do with all the photos I take of my food.. and Cashew Cheez

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I’ve been trying to get into vegan and healthy lifestyle blogging, as I try to get better at a vegan and healthy lifestyle, and along the way, I’ve taken pictures of the particularly successful dishes I’ve made to remind myself that it’s easy and fun. I post photos of my food on Facebook, like everyone else, so I figured I should take them elsewhere, and maybe include recipes… so here goes!

Baked Cashew Cheez (Dairy, soy, and gluten free)

This takes some time to prep, but the herbed chewy crust and creamy spreadable center make this small project a worthwhile effort and can last refrigerated for up to a week- if you can last that long. (Please note that even though there is a hair-tie in this photo, the recipe does not call for hair.)

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Soak 2 cups of raw cashews fully submerged in salted water overnight or for at least 8 hours. Drain and reserve at least half a cup of the water for later.

Blend the soaked cashews, adding the soaking water slowly to get a smooth consistency. Taste it at this stage in case you need more salt which will bake out, or want to add a flavor to the entire cheez. If so, add the spice or your select flavor (i.e.- basil, red pepper) as you are blending to get it all the way through. (You can use the blended cashews at this stage for a vegan mac n cheez, add spices and put on nachos, use for v. pizza, and more.)

Pour the blended cashews into a cheesecloth, wrap it in a bundle, tie the top with a rubber band, and suspend the cheez bundle over a bowl or bucket to drain at room temperature for 2-4 hours. (Leave a little room between the top of the cashew cream and the rubber band and stick a dull knife through to balance on the rim of any deep dish.) Then put it in the fridge to chill for another 4 hours at least. 

The cheez will be in a firm ball at this point but should be unwrapped delicately and placed in an oven-safe dish to be herbed. Cover the top with your choice of herbs or more salt, depending on your flavorings and preferences. Bake at 200 degrees for 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how crusty you want the… crust. If you want to bake it for less time, you can turn the oven up a bit but not more than 250 or the process will backfire. (The photo above was baked at 200 for about 2 hours and 30 mins.. I was going for a Brie-like texture and I think I got pretty close. Chewy but flavorful and slightly different from the warm velvety inside cheez.)

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