Port Wine “Cheese”

Port Wine "Cheese" ~ gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free

Port Wine “Cheese” ~ gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free

I know I was quiet on here for over a week.  A little unusual since I was posting regularly.  Rest assured I’m not super sick or life is spiraling out of control as it seems to do when I disappear.  I really didn’t mean to.  Every time I sat down at the laptop to write this post dialogue, scenes, and ideas swirled through my brain and I had to write them down.  I’m not even sure what happened this week other than I spent a lot of time typing on the keyboard.  So much so that Chaz was wondering what happened to his wife.  He’s never seen me in full-blown creative writing mode.  I’m not sure he likes this mode of mine, but he didn’t complain.

Finally, I can give you this recipe I keep making this week because I can’t seem to stop eating it.  Chaz and I used to eat a lot of port wine cheese years ago.  I can’t remember when we stopped buying it, but I started missing it recently and decided I needed to play with a dairy-free version.

You can eat this with your favorite gluten-free crackers or with veggie sticks.  I ran out of celery pairing it with this.  If you are vegan, make sure your port wine is vegan like Crusted Port, Single Quinta Port, Traditional LBV, or Vintage Port.

Port Wine “Cheese”

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours

3 tablespoons port wine

1 tablespoon olive oil or grapeseed oil (I like it better with the olive oil)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon filtered water

salt, to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process for a few minutes.  Scrape down the sides and bottom as best you can and process for a few minutes.  Test it and adjust salt as needed. Repeat scraping down the sides and bottom.  Process until it is as smooth as you want and then chill in the refrigerator.  You can eat it when it is done processing.  Chilling it makes it firmer like a regular dairy port wine cheese would be.

This recipe is linked to Wellness Weekends at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs; 5-Ingredient Mondays at The Daily Dietribe; Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free; and Gluten-Free Wednesdays at The Gluten-Free Homemaker.  

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free)

Vegan Artichoke Spinach Dip

Vegan Artichoke Spinach Dip

Some time last year I decided I needed to try to make Spinach Artichoke Dip without all the dairy and other stuff that makes it so gooey and irresistible when you see it on a menu at a restaurant.  We were out to eat and I saw a plate of it being delivered to a nearby table and I found myself thinking, I kinda miss that.  I bet I could make it without using dairy.  I added it to my growing list of ideas that kept getting put on hold because I had no energy.

Then Super Bowl Sunday started creeping up.  I was home to watch it for the first time in years AND my Niners were playing for the first time in even more years.  I made lettuce-wrapped burgers and decided to attempt a try at the Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip recipe that was swirling around in my head.

I was pretty impressed with the results and had to give myself a pat on the back.  Chaz even said it was “pretty good,” which he rarely says.  I normally get, “It’s good.”   Or sometimes he licks the bowl or plate.  The action says it all.  I thought the cheese flavor was a little strong, but Chaz liked it.  We both agreed that the spinach and artichoke wasn’t shining like it should.  Easy fix, right?


I served the dip with carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, and quartered radishes for the Super Bowl meal.   Making it again I decided to use up the corn tortillas in the fridge and made baked tortilla chips to go along with it.  I brushed one side of each tortilla with a little grapeseed oil as I stacked them together before cutting into sixths and throwing them on baking sheet in the oven.  Easy stuff.

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip – serves 4

1/2 cup raw cashews (covered in filtered water, soaked for 4 hours, drained)

1 Tablespoons filtered water

1 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoon grapeseed oil or olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and divided in half

1/4 cup frozen spinach, thawed and liquid squeezed out

Place cashews, water, vinegar, oil, salt, and nutritional yeast in a food processor or quality blender and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides 2 or 3 times.  Add in half the artichokes and process until smooth again.  Add remaining artichokes and spinach and process just until the spinach is incorporated through the dip.  You should have small bits of artichokes in the dip.

This post is linked to Wellness Weekends at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs; 5-Ingredient Mondays at The Daily Dietribe; Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free; and Gluten-Free Wednesdays at The Gluten-Free Homemaker. 

Meyer Lemon Lavender Bars (grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free)

It really is grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free!

It really is grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free!

This post is a year in the making.  I am so happy to finally have the recipe to share with you.  Toiling with this is one of those things that you really can only do one change at a time to know exactly what isn’t right in the final product.  Last week when I wasthisclosetoit, I had too much agar agar in it and it was more thick gelatin-like than gooey thick like a lemon bar should be.  It was good, but not great.  Yesterday, I ate a second piece right after the first piece.  The last few days have been rough, so hitting jackpot was a big bright spot for me.  Good things can always happen when you let them.

My first trials with this was to make it egg-free before I was even egg-free.  Then I decided to go back to using eggs and for some reason I was still having problems.  Now that I’m egg-free and Meyer Lemons are abundant in stores, I decided it was time to go back to the first trials.  I use agar agar because it will keep things clear and with most foods when trying to get it to thicken, you don’t need to cook it.  Bonus, it has a nice protein content.

The crust is a press in crust, but you need to use pie weights or dried beans when baking it.  Someone forgot to do it this time around.  *looks around whistling*  You also want to bake it completely because once you add the filling it doesn’t go back in the oven.  Also, my final product is fairly tart since I’m using raw local honey.  You can use palm sugar, but the filling will be a darker amber.  If you still use white sugar, you could use that, too.  Just make sure you taste the filling before adding the agar agar to make sure the filling is at your sweetness level.

This calls for some waiting.  The filling starts to thicken as it cools and it can take an hour or more for it to get thick enough to add the lavender. It will set quicker once it’s in the pan.  Also, I dusted the top with homemade powdered sugar.  The filling sucked it up really fast, but it did give balance to the tartness.

Meyer Lemon Lavender Bars – 9 servings

1 1/2 cups almond flour (I use Honeyville)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup palm shortening (I use Spectrum)

1-2 Tablespoons chilled filtered water

Juice of 6 Meyer Lemons (should yield 2/3 – 3/4 cup), pulp and seeds strained out

1 cup filtered water

1/2 cup raw local honey or palm sugar

1 Tablespoon agar agar powder

1 teaspoon lavender

2 Tablespoons palm sugar

1/2 teaspoon arrowroot.

Preheat oven to 350.  You can grease an 8×8 pan, but I didn’t and nothing stuck to it.  I use a glass pan.  In a medium bowl whisk together almond flour and salt.  Cut in palm shortening with a pastry blender or two knifes until you have coarse crumbs.  Add in a tablespoon of water and stir together.  Add more water a little at a time if it is not forming a big ball of dough.  It will look almost like regular pastry dough, but will feel stickier.  Dump the dough out into your pan and press firmly into the bottom, spreading it out as evenly as possible.  Cover with parchment and weigh it down with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake for 30 minutes and set aside to cool.  Combine Meyer lemon juice, water, and honey or sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil while whisking together well.  Whisk in agar agar powder well.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Check every 15 minutes or so and whisk.  Once it starts to thicken enough to suspend the lavender, whisk in the lavender.  Pour into the pan and let it finish setting.  Before serving dust with powdered sugar or unrefined powdered sugar.  To make the unrefined powdered sugar add palm sugar and arrowroot starch to a coffee/spice grinder and grind until the sugar is a fine powder.

This post is linked to Wellness Weekends at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs; at Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free; and Gluten-Free Wednesdays at The Gluten-Free Homemaker.