When I’m looking for an easy way to bring a little elegance to my casual get togethers, I head immediately to the fancy cheeses and pick up the stinkiest, creamiest, and sharpest varieties I can find along. At home I arrange them alongside some savory nuts and dried fruits. It’s a well-received splurge, for sure. For those that can’t handle all the dairy (I admit, sometimes I need a break!) my friend Lexie of Lexie’s Kitchen has the answer. A vegan “ricotta” cheese that is simpler than you’d ever imagine and can be dressed up with all kinds of sweet and savory toppings. Lexie is a master of serving up simple, family-friendly and fancy fair without any gluten, dairy or eggs – not to mention a talented photographer and designer, and a dear friend of mine. I would love to spend a day in her kitchen learning how to master gluten free Fried Green Tomatoes, Sticky Toffee Power Balls and picture-perfect Pumpkin Pie!

For more of Lexie’s recipes, visit Lexie’s Kitchen, “Like” her on Facebook, and follow @lexieskitchen on Twitter.

The season of festivity we’re headed into is my absolute favorite for two reasons. One, the gatherings of friends and family and two, the food!

And, because spending time with loved ones is my priority this time of year, there is one rule I abide by …


I am all about small food, hors d’oeuvres, appetizers—little bites that can be prepared in advance or easily assembled at a moment’s notice.

We forgo large holiday meals—unless potluck-style. My readers over at Lexie’s Kitchen know that I am a no- fuss kinda gal. I simply refuse to spend an entire day in the kitchen and wipe myself out. By the end of it I am cranky and in need of a massage—and that’s before the dishes are even done!

So needless to say, I’ve been waiting in anticipation to join all of you here at Cara’s place for her Clean Eating Cocktail Party. A HUGE thanks goes out to Cara for hosting us and for each blogger joining in to share a platter of yummy inspiration.

The tray I am passing around features one of my favorite nut cheeses—a sinfully rich and addicting Mac Ricotta. Paired with a gluten-free cracker (we are gluten-, dairy- and egg-free), this macadamia nut spread makes the perfect base for all kinds of toppings—sweet, savory or both.

This cheese can be made zippity quick as macadamia nuts do not require soaking. However, a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix, Blendtec or OmniBlend is a must. Macadamia nuts may be found in the refrigerated bulk section of many natural grocery stores.

This time of year presents a great opportunity for you to subtly expose your Standard American Diet-eating friends and family to healthier options and a cleaner way of eating. So bring that kale salad or your winning “healthified” green bean casserole to next company potluck or family meal. You may be surprised by the sheer number of requests you get for the recipe!

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Mac Ricotta

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

A no-fuss creamy vegan "cheese" for party-perfect appetizers.


Mac Ricotta
1-1/2 cups raw, unsalted macadamia nuts
1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small clove garlic

Topping Ideas

Rosemary & Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Sliver of sun-dried tomato
Spring of fresh rosemary
Slice of green or black olive

Fig & Walnuts

Slice of dried figs
Walnut half
Drizzle of honey

Smoked Salmon
Small piece of smoked salmon
Sprig of fresh dill


In high-powered blender container combine all ingredients.

Cover; blend on high 1-2 minutes or until super smooth.

Stop blender and use a rubber spatula to scrape down sides as needed.

Keeps for up to 3 days in a tightly covered container in refrigerator.

Once you’ve made the Mac Ricotta, you can easily pipe it on to crackers or cucumber rounds. Simply make a makeshift piping bag by filling a zip top bag with the ricotta mixture. Snip off one corner and pipe. Top with your favorite toppings.