Mac & Cheese & Butternut Squash

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

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So this past VeganMoFo I bookmarked a ton of recipes to try – but unlike years gone by, I actually did it! And in a timely manner! Yay me!

Necessity was the deciding factor here, as I had a ton of butternut squash from my garden that needed to be eaten stat. When I saw House Vegan’s Baked Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, I knew it was meant to be. Her recipe was in turn inspired by the Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze at Oh She Glows; after comparing and contrasting the two, I ended up doing a sort of mashup, with roasted (vs. steamed) squash like in the original (fewer dishes, yo!), but baked with a panko topping similar to House Vegan’s version.

I also doubled the because hey, I am a growing girl and need my carbs!

But not the pasta! I only increased that by a cup, for extra-awesome creamy cheesiness. I think it turned out to be a pretty killer pasta-to-cheese ratio in the end. But you can go with a full four cups of pasta if you’d rather! Be your own decider person.

While it’s not as amazing as the processed, junky stuff, the butternut squash cheese sauce is still hella tasty, and makes for a rather satisfying macaroni and cheese. And the parmesan topping? Out of this world. Just be sure you supervise it during the broiling phase, lest you come dangerously close to charring it like I did. Learn from my mistakes!

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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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Creamy, Cheesy Nondairy Kugel

Saturday, April 19th, 2014

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When Peedee got a clean(ish) bill of health of Tuesday, I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or scarf down a giant bowl of mac & cheese. No surprise here: I did all three. As it turns out, the cookbook I’m currently reviewing has two (TWO!) recipes for vegan macaroni and cheese.

This one’s the Kugel which, while not technically mac & cheese, is close enough me for me. I mean, just look at it! (LOOK. AT. IT!) Creamy Daiya cheese sauce. Breadcrumbs browned on top. With just “a touch of sour cream for that classic and slightly tart kugel taste.” Sooooo good.

Since I knew this dish was to be baked – and baking mac & cheese often dries it out – I made a little extra sauce and thinned it out too, with an additional 1/2 cup of soy milk and handful of cheddar Daiya on top of what’s required. Worked like a charm: the sauce was still super-rich and creamy even after 25 minutes in the oven.

My only complaint? The onions tasted a bit raw for me. Next time I think I’ll sautee them in the same saucepan used to make the cheese sauce, rather than add them uncooked to the pasta. Baking just didn’t get ’em done, imho.

On another note, Shane used his portion as a burrito filling! Maybe I can has a burrito-themed VeganMoFo after all? (Burritos are like pizza: everything goes great in them!)

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The Great CriFSMas Food (and More) Roundup, 2013 edition!

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

It felt like I did a ridiculous amount of baking this Christmas – so, when I went and looked back at last year’s roundup, I nearly fainted in disbelief. (Full disclosure: there may have also been a food coma involved, due to the copious amounts of sugar I’ve been ingesting.) Did I seriously make a dozen plus batches of cookies last year? Little old me?

Fun story: after feeling super-smug and self-satisfied over my achievement of baking FIVE WHOLE BATCHES of cookies in one day, I headed on over to tumblr – where some lady posted about the 40 donuts and multiple trays of cookies she baked in one afternoon. Whoops! There goes my self-confidence!

So anyway, here’s the Great CriFSMas Food Roundup, 2013 edition! But with bonus x-mas presents and vegan pop culture observations.

First up: the noms. As per usual, let’s start with dessert, shall we? All the cookies are from Kelly Peloza’s The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, a review of which I’ll probably have for y’all soon. Unless. Maybe I need to try out a few more recipes? You know, for the love of science and books and all that is holy and sugar-dusted.

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Glazed Rum Raisin Cookies – With their copious amounts of liquor and strong rummy taste, these cookies aren’t for kids. Very tasty and easy to bake, though I opted to make my glaze into more of an icing, so as not to risk the cookies sticking to one another during storage. If you go this route, start out with less rum. I ended up with way more icing than I could use. Or drink! (Yes, I actually tried that.)

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Chewy Caramel Pecan Cookies – SO GOOD! Caramel and pecans, what’s not to love? Well, the cookies’ inherent stickiness, for starters: I had to refrigerate the sheet of cookies for about ten minutes before I was able to peel them from the parchment paper without tearing the cookies to shreds. I wonder if my batter was too wet; the caramel pecan mix didn’t get especially thick, which resulted in a very sticky cookie dough. Further experimentation may be required.

Also, pro tip: these cookies have mad spread, so space them far, far apart. As in four cookies to a medium-sized tray. No kidding!

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Cookbook Review: The Cheesy Vegan, John Schlimm (2013)

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

It’s easy being cheesy!

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: The publisher sent me a free copy of this book for review at my request.)

Vegan cheese! No two words in the English language are able to arouse the excitement, the vociferous debate, the unbridled passion of vegans quite like “vegan cheese.” (Except – maybe – “free pizza”!) Whether arguing about the merits of Daiya vs. Teese or swapping our favorite cheesy sauce recipes, us vegans love to cut the cheese. (Sorry I’m not sorry.)

John Schlimm’s latest cookbook, The Cheesy Vegan, doesn’t disappoint. Filled with recipes for cheesy sammies and cheesy pizzas and cheesy pasta dishes and cheesy soups and sides (and an entire chapter of mac & cheese! ONE WHOLE CHAPTER!), there are also a ton of recipes for homemade cheeses: Cheddar. Mozzarella. Brie. Swiss. Feta. Ricotta. Blue. Jack. Muenster. Wine. American. Cottage. Cream. Parmesan. Nooch cheese. You name it! If it’s cheesy, it’s in here.

Better yet, the cheeses are all pretty easy to make: just blend and chill. I’ve been on the fence about whether I should give Artisan Vegan Cheese a try, since (from what I’ve seen) some of the recipes border on alchemy. But these are actually recipes that homemade cheese novices like myself can pull off with some ease!

While choosing recipes to test for this review, I tried to select dishes that would allow me to experiment with a variety of the homemade cheeses. Six weeks, seven cheeses, and thirteen (plus!) meals later, and I think I’m finally ready to do this!

For what it’s worth, I’ve been allergic to milk my entire life – so I’m not exactly the best judge of whether vegan cheeses taste or even behave like their non-vegan counterparts. Luckily, my husband was more than happy to help with the taste-testing and opinionating. (We’ve both been vegan since the mid-aughts and consider ourselves connoisseurs of vegan cheese.)

With that disclaimer out of the way – let’s get cheesy!

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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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Baked Macaroni (and Cheese!) with a Twist

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

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Every time I acquire a new cookbook, I inevitably discover another macaroni and cheese recipe I’ve yet to try. This around it’s the Baked Macaroni with a Twist from Robin Robertson’s The Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes Cookbook.

The first twenty or so times I scanned this recipe, I mentally added in some tomato paste or sauce, since the title is suggestive of regular old baked macaroni. Imagine my shock when I actually began to make it and realized that it’s actually good old mac & cheese. Vegan Christmas came twice this winter, my friends.

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Surprisingly moist and creamy for a baked mac and cheese dish, it’s the topping that really won me over: homemade breadcrumbs mixed with cheese – in this case, cheddar Daiya. The sauce is mainly silken tofu, but there are some Daiya shreds hiding in there too.

Of course the crispy, crunchy edges didn’t hurt either.

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Being the picky vegan that I am, I made a number of modifications to the original recipe. For starters, the cheesy sauce: it doesn’t call for a single flake of nutritional yeast. Blasphemy! Perhaps nutritional yeast wasn’t quite so popular back in 2002, when this book was published? That’s the only explanation that makes sense. Anyway, I added a half a cup, along with several tablespoons of miso and some minced garlic.

Also, you might notice that my macaroni isn’t particularly twisty. While it’s the rotini pasta that makes this mac & cheese do the twist, all I had in my cupboard was boring old elbows, so there you go. Go vanilla or go home.

Cheesy Mac and Greens, Redux

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

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Remember those Cheesy Mac and Greens from last week? The ones with all the spinach and the fuckery? Well, I remade it as promised, this time using frozen mixed veggies in place of the spinach – though I did serve it atop a bed of spinach greens, because it’s classy as shit. (And also I had some spinach left over from the last batch of mac and cheese, but who’s counting?) I also doubled the recipe, quadrupled the amount of nutritional yeast, and went the super lazy route by using garlic and onion powder instead of the fresh, minced stuff.

The verdict? Awesome. Not only is it easy to make – it took me a half hour, tops – but the pasta is super-cheesy, and with the added veggies you can totally call this a complete, healthy meal. (Macaroni and cheese is a side dish? SAYS WHO!) Stir in some vegan links for protein, or top with bacon bits because YUM.

Cheesy Mac and Greens

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

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Cheesy Mac and Greens from American Vegan Kitchen. Spoiler alert: the greens are spinach! Popeye would be so proud.

This is definitely one of my more favorite cheesy sauces. It’s a stovetop recipe, so the mac and cheese stays nice and moist and creamy (even the leftovers!). In addition to the standard nooch, flour, and soy milk, there are also some bits of crumbled tofu hiding in there, along with sour cream and miso. So many yummy things!

The spinach is okay – it doesn’t get cooked at all, so it’s fresh and crunchy – but honestly? I think I’d like the mac and cheese better without it. The whole time I was chowing down on cheesy pasta laced with spinach, all I could think was

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Hoodwinked with the mac and the cheese and the vegetables.

“Best-Ever” Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

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Another week, another batch of mac n cheese! This version is from one of the cookbooks I received for Christmas, Chloe Coscarelli’s Chloe’s Kitchen. I really wanted it for the salt and vinegar french fries – but, seeing as I don’t currently have any malt vinegar on hand, I’ll have to settle for macaroni and cheese instead.

Compared to some of the other mac & cheese recipes I’ve tried, this one is so-so. For a baked dish, it’s not as dry as you’d expect, which is a bonus. But super-cheesy stove top mac and cheese is still the way to go, imho. I like my mac and cheese saucy, yo!

BUT. The taste is a little understated for me. Aside from the nooch and garlic powder, there aren’t many seasonings to be had. A little thyme or basil would go a long way.

Not a bad recipe, but far from the best I’ve ever had – even excepting my own super-unhealthy, over-processed version. Just off the top of my head, I prefer those in American Vegan Kitchen and Veganomicon. Mac Daddy, mmmmmmm

Erm, not to imply that I’d turn my nose up at the Best-Ever Baked Macaroni and Cheese if you offered to make it for me, nosiree.

I wish diners had this when I was a kid! *

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

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Another stop on our ongoing quest to try every vegan mac & cheese recipe in existence: Stovetop Mac and Cheeze from (where else?) American Vegan Kitchen. (Which actually features TWO macaroni and cheese recipes, dontchaknow! I will see you again next week, nooch.)

It’s pretty tasty, though my own super-unhealthy version still has my heart. Noyes’s recipe is mostly soy milk and nutritional yeast (plus a quarter cup of olive oil), so it’s way better for you. Also, there’s basil, which is new. I can’t recall ever adding basil to mac & cheese before. Good stuff.

True story: Saying that I want macaroni and cheese is the single most effective way to get Shane to make dinner. The man’s got priorities.

 

* Forever eating french fries and salad.

 

Catch me daddy!

Monday, November 19th, 2012


 

Having tried somewhere in the neighborhood of 31 new-to-me recipes during the course of Vegan MoFo – and having had a gloriously delicious time of it – I promised myself that I’d keep experimenting with new recipes, to the tune of at least one a week. And, just to keep myself honest, I’ll be blogging the results! (Also because, as a vegan, I’m apparently incapable of devouring a meal without first taking and sharing at least several photos of it.*)

This week, it’s the “Mac Daddy” mac & cheese from Veganomicon. I know that Vegan MoFo is over, yet I can’t help but riff off this Janis Joplin song. Pair ALL the vegan foods with groovy music!

 

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I still heart my overly processed, Daiya and Follow Your Heart blend best, but this is definitely my new favorite noochy version. (And believe me when I say that I’ve tried quite a few!) With crumbled tofu (reminiscent of ricotta) for extra sauciness, and just a hint of thyme (genius!), this is a surprisingly rich, creamy pasta dish.

And fairly healthy: the sauce only requires a tablespoon of olive oil (two here, since the recipe is doubled) – whereas, as Isa and Terry point out, many other vegan cheese sauces require a stick of margarine. (And my sauce? Don’t even get me started on my sauce. Sooooo bad for you!) Sadists!

It’s also worth noting that I’m often suspicious of tofu, but it totally works here. It’s almost like it’s part of the sauce!

 

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All in all, this mac-n-cheese is so moist that I might actually try adding a top layer of breadcrumbs next time around. Usually I find that breadcrumbs dry out an already-parched mac & cheese dish, especially one that’s baked. Not so with the Mac Daddy! He’s smooth, smooth like the blues.

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Vegan Pizza Day Giveaway @ fuck yeah vegan pizza!

Friday, June 29th, 2012


 

Happy Vegan Pizza Day, y’all! Well, VPD doesn’t technically begin for another nine hours, but we’re celebrating all weekend long at fuck yeah vegan pizza. (And at the Garbato-Brady household. I just polished off a slice of leftover za while writing this post. True story!)

The festivities include a shiny new contest! From now through Monday night, send us a pic of your Vegan Pizza Day (or Weekened! we don’t care!) eats for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to the vegan store of your choice. It’s that easy!

Deets here. The giveaway is hosted tumblr, but you don’t need a tumblr account to enter! And it’s international! Vegan pizza for everyone!

 

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Saturday Night is Pizza Night! Pie #1 = cheddar Daiya cheese, Lightlife Smart Pepperoni, and black olives. Pie #2 is topped with vegan mac n’ cheese – specifically, the “Mac Daddy” recipe from Veganomicon. The dough didn’t quite rise enough, but the pizzas are still delicious.

Too bad Shane wasn’t home to try ’em – he had to take Jayne to the animal e.r. after she was bit by a woodchuck she managed to corner in the yard. She’s had all her shots, so she’ll be okay, but he tore a decent-sized hole in her chest.

Of course this all happened just as the pies were going in the oven. Jayne, your timing.
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Vegan Junk Food Cookbook Review: Riots, not diets!

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Vegan Junk Food by Lane Gold (2011)

 

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher.)

Lane Gold’s Vegan Junk Food is my new favorite cookbook. (The previous title holder? Wheeler del Torro’s The Vegan Scoop – which should tell you a little sumthin’ sumthin’! Namely, that I like my vegan food filled with empty calories.) At my request, I was lucky enough to receive a review copy – along with two copies to give away – from the publisher, Adams Media. With a name like “Vegan Junk Food,” I figured it couldn’t disappoint.

Whether you like your junk food sweet or savory, chocolaty or cheesy, Lane (can I call you Lane?) has got you covered. The 225 recipes in this collection are divided into ten categories: breakfast foods; deli favorites (i.e., sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and sliders); comfort-meets-takeout foods (entrees); crusts and carbs (pizzas and breads); festive grub (party foods!); dips, hummus, and sauces (including sundae toppings!); savory treats; cakes; candies and cookies; and grab ‘n’ go sweets (brownies and bars). As you can see, the recipes are roughly divided between meal-type items (entrees, main courses) and snacks/desserts.

The husband and I tried out about twenty recipes before I sat down to write this review; and, while I don’t usually review cookbooks, this is easily the largest number of recipes I’ve sampled for a cookbook review, like, ever. (I just couldn’t stop myself; everything looks so good!) Possibly it’s the most recipes I’ve made from a single cookbook, period. Though I own a ridiculous number of them, I don’t use cookbooks with much frequency; more often I cook from memory or pull recipes off the internet. But Vegan Junk Food? Most definitely joining my repertoire!

The book’s obvious strength, of course, is the food: oodles and oodles of junk food! Pizza. Pasta. Tacos. Pot pies. Casseroles. Cupcakes, pies, and brownies. Empty calories as far as the eye can see! Wait, that’s not entirely fair: some of these foods aren’t all that bad for you. Ironically, many of the recipes in Vegan Junk Food are actually healthier than my own versions. The Mac and Cheese Bake, for example, uses a vegan Velveeta-like cheese sauce made of potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, nutritional yeast, and soy milk. Even factoring in the additional vegan cheese shreds in this dish, it’s still way better for you than my own mac & cheese recipe, which is basically just pasta and processed vegan cheeses (namely, Daiya and Follow Your Heart). Don’t let the book’s title fool you: while these foods may look and taste like junk food, they’re not all super-trashy.

With options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, Vegan Junk Food is versatile. Mix and match the recipes for something new – or experiment to make them your own. For example, I used leftovers from some of the recipes to create new banana ice cream dishes!

While some of the recipes call for pricey vegan meats and cheeses, Gold doesn’t rely on these products exclusively. (Unlike the PPP blog, Vegan Junk Food doesn’t read like a Lightlife ad!) In fact, she offers diy recipes for many of these vegan staples so you can make ’em your own bad self, oftentimes at a fraction of the price! See, e.g., gravy (page 61); ricotta (pg. 120); sour cream (pg. 120); cheese sauce (pg. 121) basil pesto (pg. 124); and ranch dressing (pg. 126), to name just a few!

My complaints are few and relatively minor. Some recipes reference other recipes – to return to the Mac and Cheese Bake, the Cheese Sauce is its own recipe, located in a different section of the book – but don’t include a page number alongside the recipe title, thus forcing the reader to consult the index in order to find it. A minor annoyance, compounded by the index’s lack of user friendliness. (I find it counter-intuitive and difficult to use.) An estimated cook time and rating for difficulty on each dish would have been nice too, but I suppose both are easy enough to gauge by reading through the instructions.

I also ran into issues with two of the recipes – the Almond Joy Bar Cake and the Red Pepper, Caramelized Onion, and Hash Brown Quiche – which I’ll explain below. Still, out of twenty recipes, two small glitches? Not so bad! Especially when you consider my lackluster track record with baked goods. Brownies, why you no like me?

What follows is a run-down of all the dishes I’ve tried thus far. I’ve only tackled about half the items on my to-do list, so I’m far from done with this cookbook! I’ll post additional pictures as I take them, so keep an eye out for those.

 

  • Pesto Chicken Pizza with Creamy Garlic Sauce (page 85)

    2012-02-18 - Chik'n Pesto & French Fry Pizzas - 0009

    This was the first recipe we tried out, and quite possibly it’s also my favorite! The pureed white beans, seasoned with vegetable broth, nooch, and garlic, makes for a savory and filling pizza sauce, and the Basil Pesto is simple yet delicious. Enjoy this pizza with a fork and bib, though – it’s a messy one!

    (More below the fold…)

  • Vegan Mac & Cheese Pizza! With two kinds of vegan cheese! And a side of macaroni and cheese for dipping!

    Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

    2011-06-04 - Mac & Cheese Pizza No. 2 - 0017

    So regular readers, Facebook friends, passing acquaintances, the cashier at my local Green Acres, et al. are already all-to-familiar with my mac & cheese pizza recipes, mostly because I talk about them ALL THE TIME. As in, EVERY CHANCE I GET. (I love macaroni and cheese, yo. YOU DO NOT WANT TO COME BETWEEN ME AND A POT OF MAC & CHEESE! Throw in a pizza pie and it’s on like Donkey Kong!) And veganmofo is no exception! Why should it be? More people to share my soon-to-be infamous Creamy Vegan Mac & Cheese Pizza with!

    I’ve actually made three different versions of this pie, including one with twice-baked macaroni and cheese, and a similar dish using Daiya Pepperjack cheese in place of the traditional cheddar. But version #2 is far and away my favorite: because the mac & cheese – made with both Daiya and Follow Your Heart cheeses, for double the cheesy goodness! – is added to the pizza pie after it’s baked, it retains its oozy, gooey, melty, liquid cheesy deliciousness. And if I love anything, it’s a hot, soupy bowl of vegan macaroni and cheese on a chill fall evening. Like hot chocolate, BUT WITH CHEESE! Pizza in a cup, drink up!

    Okay, done now. Promise. I JUST LOVE MAC & CHEESE SO MUCH!

    This recipe – along with dozens more – was originally published on the Perfect Pizza Press blog. If things go as planned, we’ll be able to give away some shiny pizza presses for veganmofo vi! But alas, those were my plans last year, so we’ll have to see how things play out. WHO KNEW THAT IT WOULD TAKE SO LONG TO GET A PRODUCT SAMPLE!?! Six to twelve months, pfffft.

     
    Creamy Vegan Mac & Cheese Pizza, No. 2

    Ingredients

    For the dough:

    1 cup warm water (110 degrees F / 45 degrees C)
    1 tablespoon sugar
    2 1/4 tablespoons active dry yeast
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

    For the mac & cheese:

    1/2 cup Follow Your Heart cheddar cheese, shredded
    1/2 cup Daiya cheddar cheese, shredded
    1 cup uncooked macaroni (Mini shells are my personal fave!)
    2 tablespoons margarine
    6 oz plain soy milk

    FYI: this is 1/4 of my recipe for Creamy Mac & Cheese with Daiya and Follow Your Heart vegan cheeses; double or quadruple this recipe you’d like some extra mac & cheese to serve with that mac & cheese pizza – or if you’d just like the mac & cheese, please! For a healthier pizza, sub in a mac & cheese recipe that uses a nutritional yeast sauce.

    For the pizza:

    Cornmeal or cooking spray with which to coat the pizza stone or pizza pan
    Two to four tablespoons of margarine with which to coat the dough
    1/2 to one cup of vegan cheddar cheese for the pizza (We used Daiya – it melts better than cheddar FYH, at least in the oven. Stovetop, they’re roughly equal.)
    Eight to twelve strips of of vegan bacon, diced into small bits (Optional; we used Lightlife Smart Bacon.)

    2011-06-04 - Mac & Cheese Pizza No. 2 - 0007

    Directions

    Prepare the dough!

    1. Stir the water, sugar and yeast together until dissolved. Add the olive oil and salt, as well as any extra spices or seasonings. Stir in the flour until blended. Form the dough into a small ball and let rest in large bowl, covered loosely with a towel, anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.

    Assemble the cheesy pizza!

    2. Once you’re ready to make the pizza, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

    3. As the oven is heating, spread a dusting of cornmeal onto your pizza stone (or lightly coat your pizza pan with cooking spray). Using fingers dipped in olive oil (optional), pat the dough onto the stone, spreading it out evenly.

    4. Next, lightly spread some margarine onto the uncooked dough, taking care not to press down too hard as you do so. It helps if the margarine is near room temp when you try this! You want even but sparse coverage; too little margarine means that the pizza will be a little on the dry side, while too much will compromise the integrity of the crust. We used between two and four tablespoons to coat the entire pizza.

    5. Spread the diced bacon onto the pizza, followed by the cheddar Daiya cheese.

    6. Bake at 425 degrees, for between 15 and 20 minutes for a single pizza, or 30 minutes for two pizzas.

    Make the cheese sauce!

    7. Once the pizza’s in the oven, it’s time to make the macaroni and cheese! Begin with the cheese sauce. In a small saucepan, bring the soy milk to a boil.

    8. Reduce the heat to medium and mix in the margarine, stirring until melted.

    9. Add the cheese shreds, stirring gently until they combine with the liquid to form a creamy cheese sauce.

    Optional: season to taste with salt, pepper, onion or garlic.

    10. Reduce the heat to low, stirring every few minutes.

    Make the pasta!

    11. In a skillet or sauce pan, cook the pasta according to the directions provided on the package. 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.)

    Combine the two to make mac and cheese!

    12. Mix the cheese sauce into the pasta, stirring well. On medium low heat, let the pasta continue to cook until it’s the desired consistency. Stir constantly during this last step so that none of the pasta or cheese sticks to the pan.

    Mac & Cheese Pizza, holla!

    13. Once the pizza’s done cooking – and hopefully you’ve timed this so that the pizza and pasta finish cooking at roughly the same time! – remove it from the oven and top with a drizzle of mac & cheese. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy warm, perhaps with a side of extra macaroni and cheese?

    2011-06-04 - Mac & Cheese Pizza No. 2 - 0028

    Hey, it’s not too hard to double or even quadruple the recipe, giving you two glorious vegan junk food meals in one!

    Vegan MoFo 2011 logo banner

    vegan nomz roundup!: even more pizza ed.

    Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

    …because it’s been entirely too long since our last vegan pizza party!

    null

    By the way, I pizza blog in this. In fact, I’m wearing it right now. The more you know.

    Now bring out the pizza!

    Creamy Vegan Mac & Cheese Pizza, No. 2!

    2011-06-04 - Mac & Cheese Pizza No. 2 - 0017

    Another vegan mac & cheese pizza!

    This recipe is fairly similar to the original, with one key change: instead of adding the macaroni and cheese to the pizza before it’s baked, we added the mac & cheese after the pizza came out of the oven (and more sparingly, too; this pizza is more like a “regular” pizza and less like a carb pie!). Since it isn’t baked twice, the mac & cheese topping is a little creamier and soupier. There’s also some extra cheddar Daiya and margarine hiding under there – along with bits of Lightlife Smart Bacon – for added moisture. (It’s like a white pizza only orange, yo!) Here’s the recipe, give it a try!

    fwiw, this was the scene as we sat down to plates loaded with pizza slices and sides of mac & cheese (we made a full recipe, of course! ALWAYS MAKE A FULL POT OF MAC & CHEESE!):

    Me: I AM GOING TO GET PREGNANT WITH THIS MAC & CHEESE!

    Shane: [looks of horror and revulsion; not just at the thought of sexy time with cheesy pasta, but also – presumably – because neither of us wants children, to the point that this is a condition in our prenup]

    Me: I mean I’m going to eat so much that my belly bloats up to where I look pregnant. YOU KNOW, MY BABY BUMP.

    Shane: Oh.

    And I did.

    Mac & Pepperjack Pizza

    2011-06-18 - Mac & Pepperjack Pizza - 0015

    Vegan macaroni and cheese pizza #3! “Mac & Pepperjack,” as we nicknamed it, is made with Pepperjack Daiya cheese (duh!) and topped with breadcrumbs, baked mac & cheese styley. Between the pasta and the pizza, this pie is like two meals in one. It took the husband a week to finish off the leftovers, what with the way he loaded the mac & cheese on there. Three inches of cheesy goodness? This bad boy is practically a deep dish!

    Kalamata Olive Bread Pizza

    2011-05-28 - Kalamata Bread Pizza - 0007

    Kalamata Olive Bread Pizza, made in the toaster oven! (The pizza, not the bread; you’ll need a bread machine for that!)

    This recipe for Kalamata Olive Bread is one of my favorites, and here it’s been improved upon in the only conceivable way one might so polish a masterpiece: ADD DAIYA CHEESE! Immediate success! The tang of the bread complements the mozzarella Daiya and red sauce nicely, and it’s even better when toasted to a lovely brown crisp. I see many more slices in my future. (Also: a kalamata olive pizza crust!)

    Of course, you can sub in your own favorite bread recipe; I’ve made quickie toaster pizzas with everything from homemade loafs to french bread to plain old sliced white bread. It’s hard to go wrong when vegan pizza is involved!

    (More below the fold…)