Drop It Like It’s… Cheddar Drop Biscuits

Cheddar Biscuits

Cheddar Biscuits… Cheddar Bay Biscuits… Cheddar Drop Biscuits!

Back in the day, my mom and her friends would often grab lunch at Red Lobster. It was their thins to get together and gossip. I honestly don’t know if they dug their meals so much, but they did enjoy cramming those Cheddar Bay Biscuits in their mouths (and purses). I got to reap some of the benefits, because those biscuits were IT! So, of course, now vegan, I had to recreate the biscuits with an animal-free spin, but there was one tiny problem… Read more

How a Mistake Became Peanut Butter Jelly Cake [Recipe]

I like to experiment in the kitchen, especially with kitchen gadget and appliances. I wanted to try to make donuts in our air fryer, after seeing a video for PB&J donuts online. Sadly, things didn’t go too well with my donut dough, but I didn’t want to waste it. So, this is how my donut mistake became a Peanut Butter Jelly Cake! Read more

Simmered in Tradition with Ragú® & Vegan Cast-Iron Pepperoni Pizza Dip!

Vegan Pepperoni Pizza Dip

Traditions can mean many things when it comes to food. Those traditions don’t necessarily have to be conventional. Not a lot in my family was!

As a kid, most people in our family knew my mom, aka Momma Mac, to be an amazing baker. What many don’t know is that she taught me how to cook pasta, which she learned from her travels in Europe…and then later marrying my Italian father. At the same time, she was a busy lady, not really having time to make her own pasta sauce except on a rare Sunday. She would often pick up a jar of Ragú®, do some kitchen magic by adding her own blend of spices and serve up a plate of popping flavor. Little did she know that her “tradition” would be passed down to me.

Ragú® Old Style Marinara
Source: Ragú®

Mom often played around with jarred sauces by adding various ingredients and trying different cooking styles. I think she felt like a star chef on a shoestring budget. And when she would cook dinner, it was often good and weird. Pizza grilled cheese? Uhh yeah! Her creativity made up for her working late nights and being too tired to cook. Now that I’m vegan, I’ve found my cooking game has been improved by being able to be as creative as my mom and enjoying my time in the kitchen.

While there are many pasta sauces on the market, you have to be careful as many are not vegan, often having cheese/milk or even chicken broth (say WHAT?!?!). However, being vegan doesn’t mean you have go for the expensive sauces either. Ragú® Old World Style® Marinara* is an affordable vegan option, which is often around $3.00 for a 24oz jar. It makes for a good base for a variety of dishes from lasagne to pizza pillows. You can go basic or add your favorite ingredients to kick things up a notch. 

Pre-oven vegan pepperoni pizza dip

The marinara has a lot of real tomato flavor! Ragú® believes in using no artificial flavors, colors or high-fructose corn syrup. The sauce is made in a slow-cooking, simmering style to really appreciate that red fruit! While we find the sauce a bit thin for our liking, we use it as a base to which you can your favorite veggies, spices and even vegan cheese! You know how we roll in doing kitchen whip-ups, which are becoming our “tradition.” So, of course, we did one with this sauce!

I was having pizza cravings, but didn’t want an actual slice or pie. Thanks to Ragú® for providing us with the sauce, I was inspired by my mom’s cooking style, her love of cast-iron and favorite pizza spice blend. Hence, the Vegan Cast-Iron Pepperoni Pizza Dip was born! 


The marinara sauce set the platform for a creamy, “cheesy” dip mixed with vegan cream cheese and vegan mozzarella shreds. Whisked together with vegan pepperoni, later topped with more cheese and then broiled, you have no idea excited we were to eat this right out of the pan!! It was pizza…and really good pizza…where you could taste all of the ingredients, especially the tomatoes in the sauce. 

Vegan Pepperoni Pizza Dip with Bread

To serve this dip, Carlo sliced an Italian bread loaf and made some easy-peasy pan-fried bread!

Want to give this a try at your next party or raging pizza craving? Here’s the recipe!

Vegan Cast-Iron Pepperoni Pizza Dip
Serves 6
Got a pizza craving? Here's a fun way to satisfy it, featuring Ragú® Old World Style Marinara sauce! Share with family and friends or eat it by itself!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
30 min
Pizza Dip
  1. 1 24oz jar of Ragú® Old World Style Marinara Saue
  2. 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  3. 1 4.2oz pkg. vegan pepperoni slices
  4. 1/2 c. vegan cream cheese
  5. 1/4 c. nutritional yeast
  6. 1 1/2 c. vegan mozzarella shreds
  7. 1 tsp. garlic powder
  8. 1 tsp. dried oregano
  9. 1 tsp. dried basil
  10. 1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
  11. Fresh cracked pepper to taste
  12. Torn fresh basil for garnish)
Pan-Fried Bread
  1. 1 loaf of Italian bread, cut into 12 slices
  2. 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  3. 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  4. Dash of sea salt to taste (optional)
Pizza Dip
  1. Heat cast-iron pan with olive oil. When hot, add half of the pepperoni slices and cook for 2 minutes on each side
  2. Pour in marinara and bring to a boil. Then, stir in cream cheese and 1c. of vegan mozzarella shreds until melted into the sauce
  3. Lower heat to a simmer and stir in nutritional yeast and spices (except black pepper). Simmer for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally as sauce thickens
  4. Set oven to broil on high
  5. Remove pan from heat. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella shreds and layer the remaining pepperoni slices
  6. Place pan in oven for 5-7 minutes until the cheese gets slightly brown
  7. Remove pan from oven. Sprinkle fresh cracked pepper and torn basil on top before serving
Pan-Fried Bread
  1. Mix garlic powder and olive oil into a small bowl
  2. Heat a large skillet with the oil. When hot, arrange bread slices cut-side down
  3. Cook for 4 minutes. Turn over. Cook for another 4 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with sea salt before serving (optional)
  1. You can serve this dish right in the pan on a trivet
  2. Yummy ways to enjoy: Scoop with pan-fried bread, spoon into a bowl with fresh veggies or spoon on top of your favorite pasta
  3. Psst. This taste good cold too next day!!
The Food Duo http://thefoodduo.com/
Have you heard about Food.com’s Ready. Set. Cook! contest? It challenges home cooks to create new and unique recipes featuring Ragú® sauce plus a set list of other ingredients. The contest runs between now and November 30, 2015! Click here to enter!

Note: Not all of the Ragú® Old World Style varieties are vegan. Check the label before you buy!!

Bring the Heat with Mezzetta + Spicy Red Pepper Chickpea Spread Recipe + Summer Giveaway!

Summer is right around the corner! Barbecue Season is in bloom! Your food needs to get with the times! It’s time to Bring the Heat with peppery kick. 


Our friends know that we’re all about heat in our food, and we’re not talking about the temperature. We’re love peppers in all its varieties from the bell to the habanero (Carlo takes it to GHOST levels). We love them stuffed, sauced, brined and more. Whether it’s to add a little color and flavor or to really pack a punch, peppers are where it’s at for us. When Mezzetta presented us with an opportunity to try their products to share with you, we were game!

Mezzetta is a proud California, family-owned company, operating since 1935. They are the leader in delivering quality glass-packed peppers, olives, and specialty foods in the United States. They work with local farmers around the globe to source their produce and create delicious brined vegetable from deli-style to whole.

Yes, we’ve tasted a lot of peppers, glass-packed included. We recently tried Mezzetta‘s Roasted Red Bell Peppers and Deli-Sliced Hot Jalapeño Peppers. Both were a hit with us. Sometimes you get them too salty/too briney. Both varieties actually had a nice balance. There was enough saltiness to bring out a lot of the peppers flavor. The Roasted Red Bell Peppers are grown in Napa Valley, California and packed in fresh water and sea salt. enhancing the peppers natural sweetness. The Deli-Sliced Hot Jalapeño Peppers are sun-ripened in California. They have a nice pickle-like flavor with a strong heat kick at the finish. For glass-packed, we really were pleased with them. 


In fact, Carmella was so pleased that she couldn’t wait to try out a recipe using BOTH peppers. Now, if you follow our Instagram, you know she’s got a thing for toasts, especially Avocado Toast. Well, this time, she forewent the avocado wanted to up her hummus game. The end result was a delicious Spicy Red Pepper Chickpea Spread, which can also be used as a salad dressing; not too thick and not too thin. With the Mezzetta‘s Roasted Red Bell Peppers and Deli-Sliced Hot Jalapeño Peppers, there’s a lot of flavor hitting just about every taste bud: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and even a bit of umami! Simple ingredients thrown into a blender or food processors makes this spread all ready in under 5 minutes! You can’t beat that!



Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Chickpea Spread
Yields 2
Bring the Heat and up your hummus game! This spread goes great on toast, sandwiches and salads!
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
  1. 1 15-oz can of chickpeas
  2. 4 garlic cloves
  3. Juice of one lemon
  4. 1/8-1/4 C. olive oil
  5. 1/4 C. Mezzetta Roasted Red Bell Peppers (approx. 2 thick strips)
  6. 5 slices Mezzetta Deli-Slices Jalapeño Peppers
  7. 1/2 T. red wine or balsamic vinegar
  8. 1/2 T. agave nectar
  9. 1/4 t. dried oregano
  10. 1/4 t. sea salt
  11. 1/4 t. freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Drain the chickpeas
  2. Smash the garlic cloves
  3. Add all the ingredients to your blender or food processor
  4. Pulse a few times, add additional oil if needed, then blend until smooth
  1. Don't throw out the chickpea water! Use it to make meringues later!
  2. If using a high-speed blender, be careful that it doesn't liquify. You want your spread to be not too thick and not too thin. If you do run it too long, you can try to place it in the refrigerator for about 1 hour to thicken it up a bit.
  3. Using it later salad dressing? Blend the spread for a bit to loosen it up before mixing into your salad bowl.
  4. Making toast? Spread 1-2 tablespoons and top with your favorite veggies. We like artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, kale, asparagus, nutritional yeast or avocado slices. Play around with any combination you like!
The Food Duo http://thefoodduo.com/
In addition to this recipe, the kind folks at Mezzetta are hosting a season-long Summer Survival Kit Giveaway! See that kit we shared at the top? You can win one of your own with a beach town, beach ball, apron, cutting board and napkins! Get all the basics for your summer staycation, barbecue or family meal fun! You have three chances, as Mezzetta’s giving away a kit each month to one lucky person! Click here to enter!

How do you bring the heat during the summer? Share how you crank it up with your favorite foods and post in the comments.


Don’t forget about that giveaway! GOOD LUCK!