Thursday, October 4, 2012

Nachos With Cheesy Sauce & Veg

Colds tend to hit me pretty hard. Much to my hubby's chagrin, who does not enjoy listening to sniffles, coughing, sneezing, all that stuff.

Mom's just aren't allowed to get sick. Come to think of it, I can only squeeze one childhood memory from my brain when my Mom was sick. She didn't get sick. Or so I thought.

So a little bit of the feminist comes out in me when I see this going on. What happens when Dad gets sick? He can take time off of work, take a nap, watch movies. Kids? Just skip school, sleep in, watch movies, and then when magically feeling better in the afternoon, go jump on the trampoline.

When MOM is sick? Change dirty diapers, do the dishes, call in and take the day off...wait, what? Oh, yeah. This is a job that does not accept sick days, vacation days, or paid holiday.

By the way, what's for dinner?

I have learned to ask for help. I know, novel concept. In the past, I have expected others to just see what is bothering me, feel my pain, give me a break and take over. That's not always how the male mind ticks. Or any mind, for that matter.

I have this thing in my head where, if I have to ask for it, it means he loves me less.

Paul is available. He is willing. You may remember this post and how he completely took over my responsibilities, taking the kids on hikes and more. Sometimes he is not able to do that. Conferences at work, collaborations with people from Germany. Company dinners.

But female pride rears it's ugly head and claims that if he loved me he would read my mind and know exactly what I want, so I would never have to talk. Not one word. Now I don't know WHO to feel sorry for. Me, or him?

Here's another problem. Paul used to cook for me all the time when we were GF/BF. Granted, usually it consisted of opening a few bags, boxes, or cans, but I must say that it was genuinely good food. I loved it. Both the fact that he cooked for me, and the food he made.

When I was pregnant with any three of our kids I would tend to get emo. BAD emo. While I was crying and completely beside myself he would frantically make some food, put it in front of me, and say, "Eat it." And I would respond, between sobs and tears, "But I'm not hungry!"

After consuming everything he had given me, and more, I would then be smiley and cheerful and say, "Oh, I guess I was hungry." Ha! Crazy me.

NOW. But now. We are plant-based. In this marriage, we have decided to take on the mantra, "Divide, and conquer." I am a psycho-control-freak-perfectionist when it comes to MY kitchen, MY food and what my family eats. I take pride in being able to cook for my family, sometimes a little too much pride, and am guilty of not allowing others to help me. I have gotten better at letting Paul do dishes for me...which happens just about every day now.

So when I get sick, he's at a loss. Because of me and my pride, he doesn't know where to start when it comes to plant-based meals. How to make cheese sauce. One of his pre-vegan meals was a cheese melt. Bread, a slice of deli meat, with slice of cheese, heated for 30 seconds in the microwave until cheese melts. Pretty yummy back in the day.

Back to the novel concept of asking for help. I wrestle my pride. Eventually find a way to beat it down long enough to say, "Paul, I need you to help me make dinner." And to my surprise, he responds, "Okay, tell me what to do."

Wow, that was not as hard as it should have been. I was gearing up for an angry fest. Well, switch gears, and just tell the man what to do, Ash.

Chop veggies, using the mini-food processor (my new toy, $30 from Costco).

Heat up a can of refried beans. Set the table.

Little hands can't wait to eat.

Find some juice, and the corn tortilla chips.

And let me make cheese sauce, uninterrupted.

Mom, you don't need to wait to get sick to make an easy dinner. And when you are sick, ask your dear, sweet hubby for a little bitty help. Because he's so willing. Loves you, even if he doesn't read minds. And if I remember correctly, I went and watched a movie right after eating dinner, while he cleaned the kitchen. A little gratitude may be in order; some kindness.

Paul proclaimed, "Mm, this is delicious, I think this is my new favorite meal!"

Because this, is some DELISH VEGAN FAST FOOD!

Kids LOVE it. Have them build their own nachos, so it's exactly the way they want it, and they can take some pride in their work.


Basic Nachos, You will Need:

Tortilla chips (ours are gluten free, Costco Kirkland Brand)
Cans of refried beans, heated
Optionally, this would also taste great with some Tofu Sour Cream
Chopped veggies, we like:
Avocados sprinkled with pepper
Romaine lettuce
Red onions
Green chile
Bell Peppers

Simple Cheddar Cheese Sauce
From Neva Brackett's, "Seven Secrets Cookbook."

Note From Ashlee: I've had quite a few taste testers try this cheese sauce. Family and friends have all stated that it tastes exactly like the dairy nacho cheese sauce. Or better. It's ALWAYS been gobbled up. Sometimes I have to go back and make a second batch. Amber has incorporated it into her home, and met with great success. Her kids STILL don't know it's dairy free.

If you follow the directions EXACTLY, you will find yourself with a really good cheese sauce. Best for Mexican types of dishes, but also good on kids' pizza.


1 cup raw cashew nuts
2 cups water
1/2 large or 1 small red bell pepper, or 1/4 cup canned pimentos or roasted red peppers (I ALWAYS use the jarred, roasted red bell peppers, also called pimentos.)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 tablespoons food yeast flakes (nutritional yeast)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Blend smooth (about 2 minutes) and then bring to a boil, stirring until thick. Use for pizza, lasagna, burritos, etc.

Lite Cheese Option: Use only 1/2 cup cashew nuts plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch.

*Makes 3 Cups*

I also use this cheese sauce for:

Cheesy Mexican Casserole
Tamale Pie Casserole


  1. Oh I have an immersion blender too. Love it. Glad you have such a helping husband. That was a huge shock for me too when we got married, what men can't read minds? You mean I actually have to speak! That ruins everything. Although I am tons better and don't make hime mind read anymore. what in the world is nutritional yeast? How does it differ from regular baking yeast?

    1. That is a FABULOUS question. "Plant-based" language can be like a foreign language, at first.

      I put a wikipedia link on the words, "food yeast flakes." And I put an link on the words, "nutritional yeast." I buy mine from amazon, the exact product shown. It can also be found in the bulk food section of most health food stores -- Whole Foods Market, Sunflower Market (Sprouts), The Vitamin Cottage, etc. I have never seen it at Trader Joe's.

      It basically provides a cheesy flavor, is a complete protein, and is fortified with B vitamins.

      If you do make the sauce, make sure it is blended until there is little to no grittiness when rubbed between two fingers. I have a blendtec blender that completely pulverizes/purees in 45 seconds, but not everyone has one like that.

  2. Ashlee, this is like a peek into MY kitchen! One of our fave, all-round, crowd pleasing meals are nachos. We could eat them nearly every day for dinner, my kids wouldn't complain!

    1. It seems so simple, I wasn't going to blog about nachos. But EVERY time I serve this to extended family or friends, it's a hit. They all stack their plates high, and ask for seconds. Which surprises me, because they seem to like the dairy free cheese sauce more than the dairy cheese sauce.

      Good to know you make this, too. I must be doing something right!

  3. Hey Ashlee. Just wanted to thank you for the cheese sauce recipe. My family has been living a mostly whole foods lifestyle for almost a year and my husband and kids really miss cheese. This is the first "replacement cheese" dish I have made that they just loved. And I loved how simple it was. I just recently started following your blog. I linked onto it from bring-joy. Anyway, thought you should know your recipes are appreciated!
    Alicia in Nashville

    1. Alicia, thank you so much for letting me know!

      It is simple, and I am so glad that it worked for your family. Paul and my kids love this dinner, too. The great thing about this sauce is it's versatility. I use it on other recipes, and also spread lightly on pizza for my kids. I love feedback, it means a lot to me, so thanks again for taking the time!

  4. When you made this cheese sauce at our house I couldn't get enough of it! It was better than real cheese sauce and definately better than any nacho sauce I have ever had! Thank you for the recipe!

    1. You know what is the funniest thing? When I first made this cheese sauce about 3 months into plant-based eating, I didn't think it was all that great. I wasn't used to anything heavy or creamy (I had been living practically fat free for so many months). Only when I made it for you did I realize how popular and delicious it was. Remember how we had to go back and make a second batch? And how the bowl was licked clean? After that I had many other taste testers try it, and love it. Gave me the confidence to post it!