Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Mac 'n Cheez -many different ways!

Anyone remember this commercial? :) The tune stuck with me ever since and I'll admit, every time I decide to make some Mac 'n Cheez, this pops up in my head! (Only none of my cats would let me dance with them like this cool cat lets his/her human do! *lol*)

I know, I know... I've been gone for a loooong time, but I'm reviving my blog here again now as I still enjoy baking & cooking vegan food and would love to pick up where I left and continue sharing with you! (Who ever is still left, reading my blog that is! LOL)

Over the past few months I've come across quite a few different variations of vegan Mac 'n Cheez and have to say, I love them all!
By now my Hubby is actually also a full fledged vegetarian (almost 99% vegan!) since last November [yay!] and he's definitely broadened his horizon when it comes to vegan versions of dishes from his omni days! ;)  
Some of the dishes he actually really raves about, which is the highest compliment I'd ever get from him! ^_^

So without further ado I'd like to share with you one of those very raved about dishes!

1. Mac 'n Cheez, using (hold it!...) a potato, onion & carrot!!!
You can find the original post here http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/211087/36a2ea2d27/379000935/bf11321813/ 

Best Mac 'n Cheez (VegNews)
Serves 6
What You Need:

4 quarts water
1 tablespoon sea salt
8 ounces macaroni
4 slices of bread, torn into large pieces
2 tablespoons + 1/3 cup margarine
2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup water
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon paprika

What You Do:

1. In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

2. In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.

4. In a blender, process cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.

5. In a large bowl, toss cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.

 2. Mac 'n Cheez - a smoky version containing.... Cauliflower!

 Smoky Vegan Mac and Cheese

Serves 4

Cauliflower Cashew Cream:

    ¾ cup cashews
    ¼ cup nutritional yeast
    juice of half a lemon
    2 cloves garlic
    ½ cup water
    1 teaspoon grated turmeric (optional but awesome)
    1 teaspoon mustard powder
    1 small head of cauliflower
    ½ cup coconut milk
    2 teaspoons smoked paprika
    salt and pepper


    2 cups mushrooms of your choice
    ½ cup balsamic vinegar
    ½ cup organic GF soy sauce (I used San-J Organic Tamari)
    1 Tablespoon olive oil
    1 16 oz package of pasta
    1 medium red onion
    2 garlic cloves
    1 teaspoon liquid smoke
    salt and pepper
    scallions or chives for garnish (optional)

Vegan Parmesan:

    ¼ cup pine nuts
    2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
    1 teaspoon himalayan sea salt


    Cut mushrooms into small pieces and add to a bowl with balsamic vinegar and tamari. Let marinate for 2-3 hours, stirring frequently to make sure mushrooms are evenly marinated.
    To make the cauliflower cashew cream, first soak the cashews overnight or for at least 4 hours.
    Rinse and add all ingredients to blender except for cauliflower and coconut milk. Blend until you have a smooth cream, add more water if it needs thinning, the consistency should be of yogurt. Pour into bowl and set aside.
    Add enough water to bottom of pot to fill about 2 inches and turn to high heat. Cut cauliflower into florets and place in steamer basket and lower into pot and cover. Steam until cauliflower begins to get soft, approx 7 min. Let cool.Once cauliflower is cool, Add to food processor along with the coconut milk and process until cauliflower is smooth with no lumps. Set aside.
    Chop onion and mince garlic add to pan. Sautee until onions become translucent, then add mushrooms, salt and pepper. Sautee for approx 8 minutes then set aside.
    Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions on package, Rinse with cold water.
    Add the cashew cream, cauliflower, mushrooms and liquid smoke to the pasta and mix well. Taste to see if any additional salt/pepper is needed.
    Heat a pan on medium heat (with no oil) and add pine nuts. When nuts start to get brown, remove and let cool for a couple of minutes. Add to food processor along with nutritional yeast and salt, and grind for a few seconds only- until consistency of parmesan cheese is achieved.
    Transfer mac and cheese to glass baking dish and top with vegan parmesan cheese and bake at 375F/200C for approx 10 mins or until top begins to brown.
    Garnish with chives or scallions (optional)

3. And yet another one (I really like the tangy flavor in this one!).... using Sauerkraut! ;)

It's originally from Isa Chandra M. http://www.theppk.com/2011/02/mac-shews/ but for an easier overview I'll share it here directly too:

 Mac & Shews by IsaChandra

Serves 8
Time: 1 hour || Active time: 30 minutes

Recipe notes:
~You really need to blend the beejeezus out of the cashews and sauerkraut. Although it won’t be completely creamy until after it’s cooked, it should still be relatively smooth, with absolutely no chunks, when it comes out of the food processor. I think a Vitamix type thing would work here, too, but I don’t have one myself.

~Make sure that the roux is cooked and toasty before streaming in the veggie broth. It really makes a difference in the final flavor, so get your roux a really beautiful gravy color.

~You can use any smallish pasta. I love to use chiocciole because it can hold plenty of sauce, and I just find the shape pleasing. Small shells or traditional macaroni are both great choices, too.

~To soak cashews, just place them in a bowl and submerge with water. Soak for at least an hour, preferably two, or up to overnight.

~And lastly, the type of veggie broth you use makes a huge difference. If I use my own homemade broth, I make sure it’s super assertive. If you use the type of broth that comes from a powder or concentrate, that is totally cool, just make it a bit stronger than you usually do.

1 lb small pasta like shells, macaroni or chiocciole

1 1/2 cups cashews, soaked (see recipe note)
4 cups broth, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 cups sauerkraut

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon tumeric
Several dashes fresh black pepper
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

First boil salted water for the pasta. Cook pasta and drain. In the meantime, prepare the rest of the recipe.

Place the soaked cashews and 2 cups of the vegetable broth in a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping the sides of the food processor with a spatula occasionally to make sure you get everything. This could take 5 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat a large pan (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic and a pinch of salt in a tablespoon of the oil, until onions are softened.

Drain the sauerkraut in a sieve, pushing it into the sieve to remove as much moisture as possible. Add to the pan just to heat through, a minute or two.

Transfer sauerkraut mixture to the food processor with the cashew mixture. Once again, puree until relatively smooth. There will be some texture, just make sure it’s not chunky.

Wipe out the pan that you sauteed the onions in and preheat it over medium heat once again. Add 3 tablespoons of oil, along with the flour. It should become a gooey clump. You’re now making a roux! Add a little bit more olive oil if necessary. Toast the roux for about 15 minutes, until it smells toasty and turns a medium brown. Stir practically the whole time so that it cooks evenly.

Now stream in remaining 2 cups of broth, whisking constantly so that it doesn’t clump. Whisk until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes.

Stream in the cashew sauerkraut mixture, and whisk until well incorporated. Add the tumeric, black pepper, nutritional yeast if using, salt and fresh lemon juice. Heat through and stir occasionally, allowing the mixture to thicken.

Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly grease an 11 x 13 casserole with olive oil.

Add the cooked pasta back to the pasta pot and pour in the sauce. Taste for salt and pepper. Mix to coat, then transfer to the casserole dish. Cover casserole with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove tin foil and bake an additional 5 minutes. Serve hot!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Chickpea Casserole

I absolutely loooove casseroles when it's cold and windy outside! It's just great comfort food!
So when I came across several of Isa's Mac 'n Cheeze variations as well as this post, I had to make it work with whatever I had! (Which was pasta, plently of chickpeas -after a great find of a 7 lbs bag of dried ones in an Indian food store closeby! *yay*, I cooked several batches-, cashew nuts and home made bread crumbs.)  We're not GF so I didn't strictly follow the recipe but still liked the outcome!
I threw some roasted cauliflower as well as broccoli in the mix intead of peas, sprinkled some nooch on as well as some hot sauce, done! :D

Hubby didn't enjoy it too much, unfortunately.. but ok, more for me! :p
I froze the majority in portions so I'll always have a quick, comforting lunch!
[I realize this pic probably doesn't look as appetizing as it tasted! lol]

Tonight will be some yummy soup and fresh bread! I love the fall and crispy weather!!! =)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Zucchini noodles and a great song!

A few weeks ago I got a spiralizer after someone on my veg Goodreads group recommended it to me (thanks again, Don! :) ) and after having read Isa's recipe the other day on her PPK blog (here Zucchini noodles ), I just had to try it tonight! :)
Hubby was skeptical when he heard the 'noodles' would be raw (he thought I'd steam them after being spiralized) but then thankfully took the first bite and loved it! Ha! (Don't you just love when that happens! *big grin*)

Anyway... here's my dish in all it's glory... The sauce was plenty so I have some leftover for whatever tomorrow, yay!

The song I'd like to share is one I just learned about yesterday and have to say I'm totally in love with it! The group is German and I find it pretty awesome!