Category Archives: Dip

Green Lentil Pumpkin Seed Dip

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Came across this dip on The Full Helping

(https://www.thefullhelping.com/simple-lentil-pumpkin-seed-dip/)

by Gena. She kind of downplayed it in her blog post, but I thought it sounded scrumptious. I decided to give it a try. Of course I didn’t have any cooked or canned lentils ready to go or some soaked pumpkin seeds, so it took me a day to get ready. I’ve just been reading Joyous Detox by Joy McCarthy and The Blender Girl by Tess Masters and they both strongly recommend soaking legumes, grains, nuts and seeds before using, and even sprouting them if you have the time. These authors convinced me that soaking is the way to go as it:

  • improves digestion

  • unlocks nutrients

  • produces better flavour and texture

  • reduces cooking time

  • makes for smooooooth dips

So, I soaked my green French lentils and my seeds before blending up this dip today. Here’s my adapted recipe:

Green Lentil Pumpkin Seed Dip

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1/3 cup soaked pumpkin seeds

1 1/2 cups soaked and cooked French lentils (Le Puy lentils)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsps. fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup tightly packed parsley

1/2 to 3/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 to 1/2 cup water

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Put all the ingredients in a blender. Add 1/4 cup of water and turn blender on to low. Blend on low for a few minutes, scraping down the sides as needed and adding more water as needed, a tbsp. at a time, to keep the ingredients in the blender moving. Add up to 1/4 cup more water. Turn blender on to high and blend until quite smooth.

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Serve with crackers or vegetable sticks. I spread the dip on some Pumpkin Seed Oat Rye Crackers that I happened to have in the cupboard … very tasty!

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Deconstructed Salad Roll

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I’ve been on a bit of a rice noodle kick lately. Today, while considering another meal to make with rice noodles, I had an inspiration! I thought of salad rolls and how they often include rice noodles and are wrapped with a rice paper wrapper. But salad rolls are a bit timely to make so … how about a deconstructed salad roll … eureka! A salad roll bowl! (And you all know how much I love bowls)! All I needed to do was julien up a few vegetables, prepare some rice noodles and whip up a peanut sauce. Easy peasy! And tasty too!

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Salad Roll Bowl

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1 carrot

1 green onion

1/2 cucumber

1/2 red bell pepper

wedge of purple cabbage

1/2 bunch cilantro

1/2 package rice noodles

Peanut Sauce

1 tsp Bragg liquid soy seasoning

2 tsps. tamari sauce

2 tbsps. peanut butter

2 tbsps. orange juice

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp sesame oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp finely minced ginger

2 tbsps. siracha

2 tbsps. rice wine vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

chopped peanuts or sesame seeds

Pour boiling water over the rice noodles and let sit for a minute. Use a spaghetti scoop to loosen and separate the noodles. Set aside while you prepare the vegetables. Julien-chop the carrot, cucumber, red pepper, and purple cabbage. Slice the green onion and coarsely chop the cilantro. Arrange the vegetables in two bowls as in the pictures. Drain the rice noodles, rinse with cold water and set aside. Make the peanut sauce by whisking all ingredients together. (You can heat the sauce if you want. This will soften the peanut butter for easier mixing. Also, I like the sauce a little warm when I pour it over the vegetables and noodles.) Arrange a serving of rice noodles in the middle of the bowl. Drizzle the peanut sauce over top of the vegetables and noodles. Sprinkle on some peanuts or some sesame seeds. Eat and enjoy!

Note:  You can also add mint leaves, tofu, and avocado to this bowl. That would make it even yummier!

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Springtime Eating: Dip, Soup, Salad

I’ve just returned from a trip to the old country, my birthplace and the home of most of my relatives. Although I absolutely love, and am grateful for, any opportunity to visit the folks overseas, I am always happy to return home. I miss my Canadian family when I’m away and I miss my own food! Every time I go to England, I have to begin every re-meeting with a reminder about my drinking and eating habits:

  • “Okay, let’s just get this out of the way, upfront, here it goes … I don’t drink coffee or tea, I don’t drink alcohol and I only eat plants! Got it? Okay, let’s move on!”

In the United Kingdom, you see, everything is about beverages! All transitions, all arrivals, all social engagements involve a drink, usually tea, but often alcohol. You can imagine how my drinking habits are received!

  • Julia, what can I get you?

  • Nothing thanks, I’m good.

  • What? Nothing? Surely a cup of tea?

  • Okay, how about a cup of hot water?

  • [mind blown]

  • or

  • Julia, what will you have?

  • Nothing right now.

  • What? Nothing? Not even half a pint?

  • Okay, how about some ginger beer?

  • [mind blown]

And food … cheese, savoury pies, fried food, Branston Pickle, salad cream, more cheese … not really a welcoming place for vegans. I admit that when I travel and when I am given room and board by my relatives, I become more of a flexitarian. I like to experience the food of the culture I am visiting and I’ll eat most anything put in front of me by someone who is kind enough to prepare and cook food for me. Having said that, I was craving nothing but salad and greens when I got home! Yes, I love chips and pub food when I’m in situ, but once I hit my home turf, I headed straight for the produce section of the grocery store and loaded up on vegetables and fruit. Here’s what I made for my first meal home:

Light Green Dip or White Bean-Edamame Hummus

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1 cup cooked navy beans

3/4 cup edamame beans

2 tbsps. tahini

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tsps. minced garlic

1/4 + tsp salt

bunch fresh dill, chopped

Pub beans, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt in a blender or small food processor and blend until smooth – about 3 to 5 minutes depending on your appliance. Add in a tbsp. of water if needed to make a smooth dip. Add in the dill and blend until the dill is well mixed in. Serve with crackers and vegetable sticks.

Green Spring Soup

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1 tsp butter

1 tsp veg oil

heart of one leek, about 1/4 cup, chopped

4 spring onions, chopped (or one thick slice of white onion, chopped, if you don’t have green onions)

1/2 bunch asparagus, chopped

3/4 cup green peas

2 large handfuls spinach, chopped

1 potato, peeled, cubed, cooked in 1 cup of cooking water

4 cups vegetable broth (I used 2 cups chicken flavoured veg broth and 2 cups veg broth)

black pepper

salt

3 tsps. fresh lemon juice

Heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the leek and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the onions, asparagus and peas and saute for 3 or more minutes until everything begins to soften. Stir in the spinach. Then add the potatoes with their cooking water along with the veg broth. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for a few minutes. Blend everything together with an immersion blender to make a smooth green pureed soup. Add a few grinds of black pepper, a bit of salt to taste and the fresh lemon juice. Stir, heat through and serve. Deeelicious!

Springtime Pasta Salad

(recipe from The Fed Up Foodie)

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3 cups dry rotini

2 cups broccoli flowers

1/2 English cucumber, cut into half coins

1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise

1/4 cup red onion, chopped in small pieces

1/2 red or orange bell pepper, chopped

1/2 bunch asparagus spears, chopped

handful or more of pea pods, cut in 1/2’s or 1/3’s

handful of green olives, sliced lengthwise twice

Dressing:

2 tbsp. olive oil

4 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. white wine vinegar

1/2 bunch fresh dill, chopped finely

1/2 tsp salt

Cook the rotini until al dente. Drain the pasta over the broccoli so the broccoli gets blanched. Pour cold water over both the pasta and the broccoli to cool then add to a big bowl. Add all the chopped vegetables to the bowl. Make the dressing by whisking together the ingredients. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and pasta and toss to combine.

Note: The amounts for the vegetables are a guideline. Please adjust as you prefer, including changing up the vegetables.

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Vegan Cream Cheese

I am so proud of myself! I made vegan cream cheese today and it’s delicious!

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You know, sometimes I lack confidence in the kitchen. I enjoy cooking and creating delicious and creative vegan dishes and meals, but, most of the time, I follow a recipe. I get a bit anxious about launching off on my own without a recipe to anchor my creativity. Oh yes, there are several dishes I can make off by heart or have invented (humous, various salads and salad dressings, chili, bowls …), but most cooking days find me consulting a recipe. Now, this cream cheese recipe … I based it on Kaylie Johnson’s Dairy Free Paleo Cream Cheese Recipe on the blog Paleo Gluten Free Eats. I followed her recipe, but I wasn’t pleased with the flavour. So, you know what I did? I added a bit of this, a bit of that until I was satisfied. While I was adjusting, I realized that I was feeling confident and sure, that I have enough experience to just go for it. Although I used someone else’s recipe to start, I made this recipe my own. I can truly call it my own because I used what I know, what I like, and made something that worked for me. Yay me! So here it is:

1 cup cashews, soaked

1 1/2 tbsps water

1/8 cup + freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/8 tsp salt

1/16 tsp finely minced garlic

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until very, very smooth. If you are using a high powered blender like a Vitamix, you shouldn’t have to blend for too long to get everything blended and the right consistency. If you have an ordinary blender, like I do, you will have to blend for at least 5 minutes, probably more, scraping down the sides as you go. I was able to keep the blender going while using a spatula to push the mixture from the sides into the middle. This way, the blender didn’t get stuck and I got everything really well blended together.

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This cream cheese is a savoury type, due to the salt and garlic, so use it in that way – on crackers, on bagels, on toast, with tomatoes … whatever your cream cheese thing is! I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m sure you could use this cream cheese in things like a layered mexican dip or in a salad dressing. Try it and let me know what you think and how you used it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a snack!

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Greek(ish) Salad and Humous(ish)

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I really love Greek salad and humous! I love the freshness of the vegetables in the salad and I love the wholsomeness of humous. Humous, of course, is a mainstay of a vegan’s diet and I make it weekly if not more often. And I make some version of Greek salad regularly as well. I call this one Greekish salad because it has what I consider the base of a Greek salad – cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes with a lemon juice and olive oil dressing – then has a few other things thrown in that you wouldn’t typically find in a Greek salad. Same goes with the humous – a base of chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon juice –  it’s a bit “ish” because I changed the type of beans. Read on to find out more.

Greekish Salad

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1 English cucumber, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

10 (or so) grape tomatoes, cut in quarters

5 green onions, diced

1 cup of quinoa, cooked

handful of chopped green cabbage (optional)

1 tsp olive oil

2 tsps red wine vinegar

2 tsps fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic, pressed

1/2 tsp salt

several sprigs fresh oregano, minced (if you can get it)

Put the vegetables and quinoa in a large bowl. Whisk the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt and oregano together then pour over the vegetables. Toss together.

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Humous

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1 1/2 cups navy beans

2 tbsps tahini

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of 1/2 lemon

zest of 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup water

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for at least 5 minutes until very smooth, adding water 2 tbsps at a time. I like my humous to be not too thick and not too runny.

 

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Vegan Raita and Kachumber Salad

Over the weekend, I made a new curry … well, new to me … or rather, a new take on a familiar curry. I found a great recipe for Chana Saag (Curried Chickpeas and Spinach) in Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s cookbook, Isa Does It.

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The recipe, as I said, was for Chana Saag … Coconut Chana Saag as a matter of fact:

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Now, I’ve made Chana Masala (curried chickpeas) before and I’ve made different types of Saag (spinach curry) and I’ve made curry with a coconut milk sauce, but this recipe kind of combines all of this – chickpeas, spinach and coconut milk – and turns out a really delicious curry. Try it out why don’t you? It’s pretty easy and quick to make and it’s very tasty.

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So, yep, I decided to make the curry, but I wanted some interesting sides to go along with it. Of course, I cooked some rice – white basmati with peas (“Tom’s” favourite) – but I really wanted a salad. I did a little research on Pinterest and on the internet and discovered that curries are often accompanied by a salad called Kachumber Salad. The name alone is enough reason to make it! This salad is usually made up of chopped cucumber, tomato and onion with a bit of acid and salt as a dressing. I changed this up a bit by adding cabbage and using green onion. As for the raita (yogurt and cucumber or other chopped/grated vegetables), it’s a standard condiment for curries, so I decided to invent a vegan version of raita using cashews to replace the yogurt. “Tom” and I were very pleased with not only the curry, but the salad and the raita, so I thought I would share the love and post the recipes. I really hope you try one or more of these recipes next time you’re cooking Indian. And please use the comment section to tell me what you think.

Kachumber Salad

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1/2 English cucumber, peeled and chopped

1 tomato, chopped

about 1 quarter of a small head of savoy or green cabbage, chopped

3 green onions, chopped

handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped

4 or 5 leaves mint, coarsely chopped

juice of a lime (2 tbsps.)

1/2 tsp salt

Combine the vegetables, cilantro and mint in a bowl and gently toss. Pour in the lime juice and sprinkle in the salt and gently toss again. Leave the salad to marinate for a bit, maybe 20 minutes. If you leave it too long, the juice from the cucumber and tomato will dilute the salad. This salad is best eaten all at once. This recipe makes 3 servings.

Cashew Cucumber Raita

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1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight or soaked for an hour in boiling hot water

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsps. water

juice of 1 lime (2 tbsps.)

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger

1/8 tsp cayenne

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 English cucumber, peeled and grated

1 green onion, chopped

handful of cilantro, finely chopped

4-5 leaves mint, finely chopped

Put the cashews, 1/4 cup water, lime juice, cumin, ginger, cayenne and salt in a blender and blend for 1 t0 2 minutes until everything starts to blend together. Stop, scrape down the sides and add 1 tbsp. water. Blend again for a couple of minutes. Add another tbsp. water if needed to make everything blend smoothly, but not too runny. Blend for a total of 5 minutes for the smoothest results.

Mix the cucumber, green onion, cilantro and mint together in a bowl. Pour in the cashew mixture and mix well. Let sit for a few minutes then taste and adjust for seasoning. (If your curry is quite hot and spicy, you might want to add more cilantro and mint to the raita; if it’s a milder curry, you might want to add some more cayenne and/or cumin).

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Vegan “Cheese” Sauce and Garlic Aioli

I made another yummy taco salad last weekend. I had a house guest staying so I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out some new recipes … you know, give “Tom” a break from being the only taste tester. The new recipes we sampled were vegan taco “meat”, vegan “cheese” sauce and a cashew garlic aioli. All were pretty good, but the cheese sauce and the aioli were outstanding!

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The cheese sauce is made from potatoes and carrots! I found the recipe on A Dash of Compassion. Here it is:

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Vegan “Cheese” Sauce

(adapted from A Dash of Compassion’s Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce – http://www.adashofcompassion.com/2016/06/my-favourite-taco-salad-with-spicy-lentils-and-easy-vegan-cheese-sauce/)

Serve the cheese sauce with this taco salad or make nachos or however and wherever a cheese sauce goes in your world! 

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2 cups peeled and chopped potatoes (about 4 or 5 medium sized potatoes)

3/4 cup chopped carrots (about 1 large and 1 small or 2 medium carrots)

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1/3 cup sunflower oil

1/3 cup water

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 tsps. salt

Cook the potatoes and carrots together until very soft. Drain, rinse with cold water, set aside to cool a bit. Combine everything in a saucepan and blend with an immersion blender. Add more water, 1 tbsp. at a time, if needed to make a pourable sauce. (I added 2 tbsps. water).

Cashew Garlic Aioli

(adapted from Vegan Heaven’s Vegan Sour Cream – http://veganheaven.org/recipe/vegan-taco-salad-lentil-walnut-meat/)

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Use this aioli anywhere you would use sour cream or mayonnaise. We ate it as a dip for fresh-from-the-garden vegetables and as one of the condiments for the taco salad.

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1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight or soaked for an hour in boiling water

2 tbsps. lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup + water

Drain the cashews from their soaking water. Put cashews, lemon juice and garlic in a blender. Blend for about a minute. Add 1/4 cup water and blend again. Add more water, 1 tbsp. at a time, to the blender in order to get the sauce to blend freely, but not so much to make the sauce too runny. Blend for 5 minutes in total to get a smooth sauce.

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Vegan Queso

I feel like the Cat in the Hat!

Why?

Because the Cat in the Hat says, “Look at me! Look at me now! It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how!”

And that’s what I’m saying right now! Look at me! Look at me now! I’m posting on my blog for the second day in a row!

(Of course, when the Cat in the Hat said it, he was balancing a cup and some cake and some books and a fish and lots of other things!)

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So, yeah, I’m posting another recipe today. This one is for vegan queso. You know, I’d never heard of queso until I became a vegan! Until I started reading and subscribing to other food blogs. Since then I’ve learned that Americans (that is, people from the U.S. of America) really like queso! Even vegans! Traditional queso is a cheese sauce, so creative vegan queso lovers have invented all kinds of cheeseless queso recipes. While I was looking for a Mexican flavoured appetizer to kick off a dinner party that I’m about to host, I came across this interesting take on queso on Minimalist Baker (http://minimalistbaker.com/cashew-less-vegan-queso/).

I made this queso tonight and I thought it was really tasty. I just ate some with tortilla chips, but I’m thinking of using it to make nachos – chips on a pan, a layer of queso, a layer of diced tomatoes, green onions, black olives, jalapenos, repeat layers, broil lightly, eat. I’m also wondering if I could use it for a pasta sauce.

Vegan Queso

(slightly adapted from Minimalist Baker’s Cashew-Less Vegan Queso)

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about 1/2 medium sized eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds (Unusual ingredient, that’s for sure! Whether you like or don’t like eggplant, you’ll really like this queso! I know because I taste tested it on an eggplant hater!)

salt

olive oil

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

3 tbsps. nutritional yeast

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

2 + 1 tsp cornstarch

Sprinkle the eggplant rounds on both sides with salt and leave to drain in a colander for 15 minutes. Rinse with cold water, pat dry and lay out on a lightly greased baking pan. Brush a little olive oil on the eggplant rounds. Broil on high close to the top of the oven for about 4 minutes, then flip and broil for another 4 minutes. Don’t let the eggplant burn. Broil to a golden-brown colour. Transfer rounds to some foil, loosely wrap and let steam for a couple of minutes. Peel off the eggplant skin. The broiled, skinned eggplant rounds, packed into a 1 cup measuring cup, should fill the cup.

Put the eggplant rounds, milk, yeast, garlic, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and 2 tsps. cornstarch into a blender and blend on high for 2 to 5 minutes (depending on how powerful your blender is) until smooth and creamy.

Transfer to a saucepan and warm over medium heat, stirring slowly. It will start to thicken and bubble (watch out for those bubbles!). If it doesn’t seem thick enough after 3+ minutes, mix the remaining 1 tsp of cornstarch with a splash of almond milk and a couple of tbsps. of the queso until smooth then stir into the saucepan. Keep cooking and stirring until thick.

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

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Next time I make this, I will roast the eggplant whole, then scrape out the inside to fill 1 cup .

The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of drained salsa to stir into the queso after it has been heated and thickened. I didn’t do this because I wanted to serve the salsa alongside the queso.

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Dill Pickle Chip Dip

I’ve probably  mentioned it a time or two on this blog, but I’ll say it again … I LOVE POTATO CHIPS! Have you noticed at this time of year, potato chips are on sale? You can’t afford to not buy them when they’re such a deal! So, of course, I have chips in the cupboard. Actually, they’re on the table right now. Right beside the computer while I type this. Open bag. Testing the recipe while I type!

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Earlier today, I thought I might like to have a potato chip snack and I started reminiscing about potato chip dips. The ones that we only had at Christmas time. The ones full of dairy! Well, I wanted a dip, a vegan dip, to go with my chips, darn it, so I just … made one! Here it is:

Dill Pickle Chip Dip

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1/2 cup organic, raw cashews

2 dill pickles

2 to 3 tbsps. dill pickle juice

1 tsp onion powder

Soak the cashews for several hours (or if you’re in a hurry like I was, soak them in boiling hot water for 20 minutes). Chop up the pickles, reserve about a tbsp. for garnish. Throw the drained cashews, pickles, 2 tbsps. pickle juice and onion powder into a blender and blend for about 2 minutes. If you need a bit more liquid, add in the extra tbsp. of pickle juice. Continue to blend for another 2 to 3 minutes. Pour into a bowl, garnish with the reserved chopped pickle and eat with your favourite potato chips.

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Here’s the dip chillin’ in the fridge just after I made it.

 

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