Mac & Cheese Monday: Deep Dish Mac & Cheese Pizza

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

You guys, this scene made me so happy – the reference is so random and unexpected, plus PIZZA. And not just any pizza; MAC & CHEESE PIZZA!

Leslie and Ben are officially my people.

Let’s see it again, in gif form:

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Yup, I kinda sorta do.

So there was no doubt that I’d have to make a mac & cheese pizza this mofo.

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Mac & Cheese Monday: Five-Cheese Baked Pete-aroni and Cheese

Monday, September 8th, 2014

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This is a VeganMoFo special straight from the kitchen of Pete Oglini (of Pete’s Petezaria fame!), Pawnee’s own 3-star, Yelp-rated chef. The very best in “ethnic dining,” at least according to Leslie Knope’s definite guide, Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America.

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Because the residents of Pawnee love their cheese, this epic mac & cheese dish contains (count ’em!) one-two-three-four-five (five!) kinds of cheese:

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Mac-and-Cheese Monday: Twice-Baked Creamy Mac & Cheese with Sausage

Monday, September 30th, 2013

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Well, this is it. We’ve reached the end of Vegan MoFo VII, my friends. It’s been fun, it’s been hectic, it’s been waistline-expanding. And I can’t wait to do it all again in August! (I’m already brainstorming next year’s theme. True story!) Luckily, September 30th just so happens to fall on a Monday – and what better note to end on than one final Mac & Cheese Monday?

This recipe’s courtesy of Shane, who wanted to veganize a macaroni and cheese recipe from his childhood. What he came up with is a kind of mashup of our favorite stovetop recipe, various oven-baked dishes, and a few of our go-to alfredo sauces. The result is a rich and creamy, twice-baked dish with two cheeses (cheddar AND mozzarella; three if you sprinkle a little vegan parm on top!), pan-fried sausage, and a generous helping of breadcrumbs to garnish.

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We used Tofurky brand sundried-tomato sausage, which are mildly spicy. I would’ve liked to have played up the sun-dried tomato angle – may be with the addition of some dry (not oil-packed) sun-dried tomatoes, tomato flakes, or even fresh cherry tomatoes – but Shane decided to take it in another direction. Ah well. Next time maybe?

The sauce also contains cashews and nutritional yeast (and no margarine!), making it slightly healthier than our Creamy Mac & Cheese. Which, if you couldn’t tell by now, if the bar by which we judge all other macaroni and cheese recipes!

Shane’s newest concoction measures up rather well: it’s flavorful, rich, and creamy – and the breadcrumbs give it a nice crunch. Baked mac & cheese dishes can sometimes be a little dry, but this one’s almost (so close!) as moist and saucy as the stovetop version. Definitely one of my favorite experiments.

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Twice-Baked Creamy Mac & Cheese with Sausage

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 vegan sausage links (we went with Tofurky, but you can use your own favorite)
16 ounces (4 cups) elbow macaroni (or similarly sized pasta)
3 cups soy milk
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons corn starch
12 ounces vegan mozzarella shreds (we used Daiya)
8 ounces vegan cheddar shreds (we used Follow Your Heart)
enough breadcrumbs to cover a 9×13 pan
vegan parmesan to garnish (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium. Slice the sausage links into bite-sized pieces and add them to the pan; fry until golden brown. Set aside.

3. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain, rinse, and set aside.

4. In a blender, mix the soy milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic, soy sauce, and corn starch until well blended. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and heat om medium-high until it starts bubbling. Add the cheese shreds and stir until the cheese is mostly melted and blended. A few lumps are fine.

5. Mix the macaroni, sausage, and cheese sauce in a pot until the sausage and macaroni is well coated. Put the mixture into 9×13 pan and cover with a thin coating of bread crumbs and optional parmesan.

6. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the cheese is bubbling. If the breadcrumbs are slow to brown, you can set the oven to broil for the last minute or two – but keep a close eye on the breadcrumbs, as they can burn quickly!

7. Serve warm and gooey!

And lick the plate clean in Kaylee’s memory, okay?

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FIN.

Mac-and-Cheese Monday, I’ll miss you most of all.

Mac-and-Cheese Monday: Slow Cooked Mac and Cheesy

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

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This week’s mac & cheese is a bit of a departure from the norm, since it’s slow cooked. The afternoon that I made it the thermometer topped 90F, so it was rather refreshing not to have to stand over the stove for an hour plus. Just ten minutes to cook the broth and taters and that was it. Shiny!

Aside from last year’s Christmas pizza, we really haven’t had a ton of luck with our slow cooker. To be fair, we haven’t done very much experimenting with it, either. Can you say “vicious circle”? I even own a copy of Robin Robertson’s Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker – it was a x-mas present to myself, actually! – but it hasn’t provided the motivation I’d banked on. Slow cookers require so much advance planning, yo! So not my forte.

Luckily, the Mac and Cheesy recipe is easy peasy, at least as far as crockpot dishes go. It takes maybe a half hour to set up, and then just 2 1/2 hours to cook. Technically you’re supposed to soak the cashews overnight – ugh, there go the preparations, getting away from me again! – but I let them sit for a mere hour and it worked well enough.

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Veggie broth, cashews, and boiled potatoes form the base of the cheese sauce, which is further seasoned with nooch, mustard, miso, lemon juice, onions, garlic powder, and pimientos (or roasted red peppers! I used a combo and it was mmm, mmm good!). Additional Daiya (or whatever) cheese shreds are optional, but after two hours of cooking, the cheese sauce was so thick and creamy that I didn’t think them necessary. (Ugh I know, what’s wrong with me!? Someone rush me to the doctor stat!)

The finished dish is tasty, but of course not as deliciously junky as one made with 100% procressed vegan cheeses. I used gemelli in place of the traditional elbows or (for me) shells, on accounta I wanted to add some variety to the pictures. As it turns out, the sauce is so thick than you can barely see the shape of the pasta under all the saucy goodness. Shane thought it was fusilli! Ah well.

The recipe only makes eight ounces of pasta, but I was able to double it without trouble. (Though I did have to process the cheese sauce in two batches. My slow cooker may be big enough to handle a double batch; my blender, not so much.) Don’t try this at home unless you have at least an 8-quart slow cooker, as the original recipe calls for a minimum of four!

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Mac-and-Cheese Monday: Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese

Monday, September 16th, 2013

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I can’t quite drink this cheese sauce, but I can pretend.
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When I was planning this month’s menu, I left my four “free days” open for the Iron Chef challenge – and, while I was disappointed to learn that it wasn’t going to be a weekly thing this year, I’ve got to say that Mac & Cheese Monday more than makes up for it! If you know me, you know I’m all about three things: pizza, ice cream, and macaroni and cheese. It’s not like I need another reason to enjoy a cup of hot, creamy liquid gold – but then again, extra motivation sure doesn’t hurt. The things I do for VeganMoFo!

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Shane burned the bread crumbs a bit, but I consider this one of his tastier mistakes.
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This week’s dish is one I’ve been meaning to try for a few months now: Cauliflower Macaroni and Cheese from Vegan Yumminess. (And yes, I deliberately omitted the scare quotes because ain’t no one gonna tell me that cheese HAS to come from torture and exploitation.) As the title suggests, the cheesy sauce is a blend of cooked cauliflower, carrots, nutritional yeast, and olive oil (the only significant source of fat in the whole shebang). It’s a far cry from the crazy decadent stuff I so love – but, as far as healthy vegan comfort food goes, this one’s a winner!

I mean jeez, you can’t drink a mug of Daiya every day, can you? (Wait. CAN YOU!?)

Anywho, the sauce is super-creamy – not dry, like some baked mac & cheese can be – and the bread crumbs really add that extra ooomph!. Plus, I kind of have a soft spot for cauliflower, so often neglected for its more colorful cousin broccoli.

Incidentally, Shane broke the jar of our blender last week (he swears he only tapped it against the porcelain sink before it shattered, but I have my doubts) and we literally JUST received the replacement in time for Mac & Cheese Monday. You see? Even the universe wants me to eat macaroni and cheese on the weekly.

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Tip it!
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Bonus Vegan MoFo: Mac-and-Cheese Monday!

Monday, September 9th, 2013

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I hadn’t planned on finessing vegan mac & cheese into my alphabet theme – but when I saw that Mac-and-Cheese Monday had become an “official” theme, I just couldn’t resist! And, let’s be honest, it’s not like I need an excuse to enjoy macaroni and cheese, mkay.

This is a little different from our traditional (dare I say infamous?) recipe, with its mix of Follow Your Heart and Daiya cheeses. Shane was in the mood to experiment, so for today’s recipe he diluted a Daiya cheddar cheese sauce with vegan broth and added nutritional yeast for an extra cheesy flavor. He used the Cheezy Sauce in Veganomicon as a jumping off point – the result is kind of a mash-up of the two recipes.

It’s not quite as tasty as my old favorite, but it’s pretty close. And healthier, too: Shane calls this one Creamy Mac & Cheese Lite.

 

Creamy Mac & Cheese Lite

(Cheese sauce is modified from the “Cheezy Sauce” in Veganomicon, page 214.)

2 cups vegan vegetable or chicken broth
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon mustard
8 oz (1 bag) Daiya cheddar cheese shreds
13 oz soy milk
4 oz margarine

4 cups pasta of choice (small elbows and shells work well)
3 cups water

1. Heat the vegan broth in a small saucepan, bringing it to almost boiling. Add the flour, and whisk until completely mixed.

2. In another saucepan, cook the garlic and oil for a few minutes, until the garlic is lightly browned. Mix in the broth and stir together. Add the nutritional yeast, whisking the mixture together until smooth. Heat on medium until mixture begins to bubble and thicken.

3. Stir in the mustard, lemon juice, and turmeric until completely mixed. Stir in the soy milk and margarine until mixed. Add the cheese shreds, and stir until the cheese is melted into the rest of the mix. Once fully mixed, put on simmer, stirring occasionally.

4. In a deep skillet or wide, shallow sauce pan, cook the pasta according to the directions provided on the package in three cups water. Stop when about 90% done and drain, leaving a little hot water with the pasta. (This will mostly cook down as you continue to heat the pasta.)

5. Mix the cheese sauce into the pasta, stirring well. On medium low heat, let the pasta continue to cook, until it reaches the desired consistency. Stir constantly during this last step so that none of the pasta or cheese sticks to the pan. Serve warm topped with hot sauce, vegan bacon bits, or more macaroni and cheese!

 

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