Creamy mac and cheese – finally!

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It finally happened. After testing quite a few vegan mac and cheese recipes, I have found one that I like. Hooray! This recipe is straightforward (like Grade 8 Home Ec straightforward), uses only inexpensive pantry/fridge staples, and can be ready in the time it takes to cook pasta.

The result is a creamy, satisfying and filling meal that will keep you revved for hours.

My coworker refers to this as mac and yeast and you’ll soon see why.

Ingredients

12 oz of macaroni, fusilli or other firm, short pasta

½ onion minced finely (or even whizzed in the blender)

4 Tbsp vegan margarine

4 Tbsp flour

3 cups unflavoured plant-based milk

1½ cups nutritional yeast

1-2 tsp sea salt

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp black pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

MacandCheese2

Directions

Cook the pasta in a large pot according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the margarine on medium heat in a 1 quart pot. Sauté the onion in the margarine until the onion is softened. Add the flour and stir until you have a roux (a thick paste of flour and margarine/onion). Add half the milk and whisk constantly until the roux is incorporated into the milk and you have a smooth sauce. Add the rest of the milk, the mustard and all the seasonings. Stir to incorporate everything together and simmer stirring regularly. This will make the sauce thickens slightly. Add the nutritional yeast and stir in to combine.

Once you have a sauce that’s the consistency of a thin pancake batter you are good to go since the sauce will thicken slightly as it cools. Pour over your pasta and enjoy.

This dish is great with hot sauce or chili sauce and a side of green peas and broccoli.

I want to add that I have heavily based this recipe on an existing Internet recipe that I printed off months ago with no attribution showing. So…. if you come across a similar recipe elsewhere on the ‘net, they, not me, are the originator!

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Spread it on thick! A creamy, herbed cheese

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Growing up, my nickname was Mäuschen or Little Mouse because I loved cheese so much. So could I have just one go-to vegan cheese recipe? No way! I have several. Here’s another.

This creamy, spreadable cheese is flavoured with herbs and is wonderful on crackers or as shown here on toasted bread with a topping of braised onions and apples.

Ingredients for the cheese

1 cup raw cashews soaked for 2-4 hours

2 Tbsp hemp seeds

½ cup water

½ tsp miso paste

1 Tbsp lemon juice (about ¼ of a lemon)

½ to ¾ tsp sea salt

¾ tsp dried minced onions (you can substitute 1 Tbsp fresh, minced chives if you have them)

½ tsp garlic powder

1 -2 tsp fresh dill finely chopped

1-2 tsp fresh, chopped parsley (optional)

Directions

Add the cashews, hemp seeds, water, miso, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder and minced onion (do not add fresh chives if you’re using these!) to a blender and process until very smooth. Have patience and persistence – the smoother the better.

Add the fresh dill and any other fresh herbs you’re using and stir to combine

Store the cheese in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Let it sit for a few hours before serving to let the flavours blend. This cheese will keep for a few days in the fridge.

You can find two more vegan cheese recipes – for a ricotta and a mozzarella-style cheese in my easy 3-cheesey lasagna recipe.

To make the braised onion and apples

1 onion sliced

1 ½ apples cored and diced – do not peel. You can use any kind of apple, but I would go for a less expensive variety for this dish.

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp maple syrup

Directions

Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large frying pan or other wide-bottomed sauce pan. Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften – about 5 minutes. Add the apple and maple syrup and continue to sauté on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes. The onions will become golden and the apples will be soft but still in pieces – you don’t want to make an apple sauce!

Serve on top of the spreadable cream cheese or you can even mix it into the cheese and then spread on bread or crackers.

Say “Cheese”! A cheese ball for grown up parties

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As I considered becoming a vegan, the thought of giving up cheese forever was off putting, to say the least. I tried many commercially produced vegan cheese products. I didn’t like them. So I explored making my own nut-based cheese. And now? Now I’ve punched my ticket to the vegan side of town!

This cheese ball is not a lot of work, but it does take a bit of planning. The cashews have to soak and the cheese needs to sit and firm up before being rolled into a ball. If you know company is coming, start this cheese ball the day before.

CheeseballSliced

Ingredients

1 ½ cups raw cashew pieces – soaked in water in the refrigerator for 8 hours

2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes (NOT in oil), cut into small pieces. Soak these with the cashews in the water. The brighter and redder the sun-dried tomatoes are, the brighter and orangier the final cheese. You can see that my sun-dried tomatoes were quite brown.

¼ cup nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp sherry (optional but yes… you’re keeping sherry in the kitchen at all times, right?)

1 ½ Tbsp miso – I used a deep brown-rice miso and got a browner cheese. You can go with a milder miso.

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp mustard powder

½ tsp smoked paprika

¼ tsp turmeric

Pinch of cayenne (optional)

¼ cup unrefined coconut oil warmed to a liquid.

Walnut or pecan pieces or slivered almonds for rolling your cheese ball in. You’ll need about 2/3 of a cup. You could add thyme or sage to the mixed nuts too for colour.

Directions

Drain the cashew/sun-dried tomatoes. Place them and all the other ingredients EXCEPT the nuts for rolling the cheese ball in into a high speed blender or food processor. For this recipe, I find the blender is better.

Blend on high until you have a smooth, paste-like mixture. You can add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if you think the mixture is too thick (i.e. the motor on your blender is smoking), but be patient. The longer you blend, the smoother the mixture will be. You will need to spoon down the sides a couple times too to make sure everything’s well incorporated.

Place the paste into a container with a cover and let it sit refrigerated for 4-6 hours. You will be convinced that you will never be able to roll the pastey glop you’ve created into ball have faith. You will!

After 4-6 hours, remove the mixture from the fridge and roll it into a ball. You can serve as is, or roll in crushed/slivered nuts or herbs. Keep this cheese chilled until you’re ready to serve it since the coconut oil will go liquid at warmer room temperatures.

Slice this baby up and enjoy with crackers and olives, wine and friends. Enjoy!

 

With few exceptions, this recipe is based on the recipe in the excellent Vedged Out blog. Here’s the link.

Easy 3-cheesey and veggie lasagna

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Can you believe this is the first lasagna I ever made? And I had the audacity to do it without a recipe. I think you can’t help but get crazy-good results when pasta, cheese and spaghetti sauce are involved.

Remember that I am a lazy cook so even though I made two of the cheeses in this recipe (the third is Daiya mozzeralla-style shreds), the whole recipe is easy and fail proof. I don’t like to waste time or food or money.

I made the nut-based mozzarella and the tofu-based ricotta the night before just to make Sunday morning assembly easier.

Tofu ricotta cheese

Ingredients

12 oz block firm tofu

2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp dried basil

1-2 cloves garlic minced

1 teaspoon salt

A few grinds of pepper

1 Tbsp lemon juice (about 1/3 of a lemon)

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

¼ cup raw cashews soaked for a few hours and drained (optional but lovely)

Directions

Put everything in a food processor and pulse until the ingredients are all incorporated and look like stiff paste. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender or just dig in with a fork and get mashing and blending. I’m lazy… I used the blender because it’s easier to clean!

 Mozzerella cheese

Ingredients

¼ cup raw cashews soaked for about 4 hours or longer and drained

1 cup of hot water

2 ½ Tbsp tapioca flour

I Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp salt

1 tsp lemon juice or cider vinegar

Directions

Put everything into a blender and blend until creamy.

Pour into a small saucepan on medium heat. Heat and stir. The mixture will start to curdle (the way scrambled eggs do) and then become thick and look like thick melted cheese. The process takes about 5 minutes. Let the mixture cool and then use in lasagnas, on pizzas or broiled on French onion soup. This mozzarella will store in the fridge for a few days. Some water may separate out of it, if you store it. Just drain that water off.

 The rest of the lasagna

Ingredients

12 oven-ready lasagna noodles – the kind that you don’t need to boil first

2-3 cups of fresh spinach washed and chopped

1 small zucchini cut into ½ moon slices

1 cup of sliced mushrooms

2 ½ cups spaghetti sauce (honestly, I used canned)

1 cup shredded Daiya mozzarella cheese (or other shredded vegan cheese)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Okay – do not be daunted by these instructions. All you are doing is creating layers of noodles, ricotta/mozzarella, veggies and sauce. Just do that and it’s all good. My instructions are written to ensure you have enough of everything to get you to the top saucy layer!

Spread about ¼ cup spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a large ovenproof baking dish (my Pyrex dish is 16”x8”x2”).

Place a layer of 4 noodles – overlapping if necessary. Top with ½ of the tofu ricotta. I find the ricotta is thick so I dolloped it across the noodles as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the shredded spinach and sliced mushrooms on top. Spoon 1/3 of the remaining spaghetti sauce over top – again, it doesn’t have to cover the whole thing evenly. Add another layer of 4 noodles. Top with the remaining ricotta cheese mixture. Sprinkle the sliced zucchini on top. Add 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese in dollops. Spoon half of the remaining spaghetti sauce on top. Add the final layer of 4 lasagna noodles. Top with the remained spaghetti sauce as evenly as possible. Dollop the remaining mozzarella cheese on top.

Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Take the lasagna out of the oven. Remove the foil and sprinkle the Daiya mozzarella cheese on top. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.

Let the lasagna rest for about 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy!