Vegan mac & cheese!

Hey all!

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Life has been busy & crazy in all sorts of ways. I moved to a new state with my partner, had other relationships begin & end, and done quite a bit of self exploration in various forms. But I’ve decided I would like to get back to posting some recipes on here. I’ve cooked some really delicious things lately, and it’s only fair to share, right? 🙂

This recipe is something I discovered lately and I am in love with this sauce! So healthy and yet so yummy. Pasta is my favorite way to eat it, but I’ve also used it for some delicious nachos, a cheesy hashbrown casserole, and philly cheese sandwiches (with portabello mushrooms, mmmm).

I don’t have a picture with this one, but I plan to get some more pretty pictures and posts on here soon.

~~~

Vegan mac & cheese (adapted from Veg News)
8 ounces pasta
2 potatoes
1/2 cup carrots
1/3 cup butter/Earth Balance (not needed if trying to be extra healthy, but certainly adds a yummy buttery taste)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 can coconut milk
1/4 tsp garlic
1 tsp minced onion
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/4 tspn paprika
1/8 cup nutritional yeast (optional as well, but adds a bit of extra cheesiness)
Salt to taste
Add in veggies as desired! Broccoli is my favorite.

  1. Cook pasta on stove.
  2. Cook potatoes in microwave for several minutes until soft.
  3. Saute carrots until soft as well. Add all ingredients to blender, add about 1/3 cup of the can of coconut milk, and blend.
  4. Add more coconut milk as needed until sauce is smooth and still relatively thick. A little water can be added as well if the sauce is still a bit thick. Taste and adjust spices as necessary.
  5. Saute whatever vegetables you want to add in to the pasta and then heat everything together in one big pot on the stove. You can also throw it in a baking pan, add some breadcrumbs on top and put it in the oven if you want a baked version! (350 degrees for 30 minutes)

Simple pasta shells

Though I love experimenting with crazy new vegan ideas, sometimes this causes problems for me.

For example, my attempt to make vegan mayo a few days ago turned out very scary. But then I fed it to my dog, and he liked it!

Sometimes my friends aren’t quite willing to try the crazy concoctions I come up with. My boyfriend has been teasing me for awhile now that I put cauliflower in everything… which is only slightly true. 😉 But seriously, I think cauliflower is amazing. (Stay tuned for a new cauliflower recipe soon!)

Anyway, I thought it was about time I made something that was naturally vegan. Making crazy items taste like alfredo or creamy soup is certainly fun, but I think it’s time I get back to the basics. Time to make some dishes that don’t need cream or creamy substitutes to be delicious. Dishes that don’t even need cheese!

I created this recipe because strangely enough, I couldn’t find any stuffed pasta shell recipe that didn’t involve cheese or a cheese wanna-be! Why can’t you stuff pasta shells with other things?? Well, I decided you can!

I present to you, simple veggie stuffed pasta shells. Enjoy!

pasta shells.jpg

Simple pasta shells
1 box large pasta shells
8 oz mushrooms
3 cups spinach
2 small cans of tomato paste
1 medium can of diced tomatoes
1 tbsp italian seasoning
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp onion powder

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Bring water to boil in a pot on stove and cook noodles for 8 minutes (al dente). Drain in sink when done.
  3. Meanwhile, pour 2 cans of tomato paste in a large bowl. Slowly add water and whisk until desired consistency.
  4. Add diced tomatoes and all seasonings to tomato paste/water mixture. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  5. Dice spinach and mushrooms. Add mushrooms to a large pan on the stove. Sprinkle some italian seasoning on them. Cook over low until most of the water has gone. Then add chopped spinach to pan and saute just until wilted.
  6. Pour a small amount of the tomato sauce in a 13×9 in pan, just enough to cover the bottom. Take the cooked noodles & stuff them with the spinach/mushroom mixture. Set these in the pan (you will probably need more than one pan).
  7. Once you have stuffed all the noodles, pour a generous heaping of the remaining tomato sauce over the top.
  8. Cook uncovered in the oven for 30 minutes, or just until desired temperature has been reached.

Leftover remake: Squash & bean “meatballs” with a spicy cream sauce

Cauliflower, I’m afraid I’ve moved on.

While I do love the fact that I can buy you frozen and the fact that you are incredibly good for me, I’m afraid someone else makes better creamy sauces than you.

My new creaminess of choice is… silken tofu!

Despite the fact that pressing it is kind of a pain, tofu makes such creamy deliciousness when blended that I simply can’t go back to cauliflower sauces. It’s just too good!

Anyway, remember those butternut squash & black bean burgers I made a bit ago? I made a bit too much, so I decided to switch it up & make some “meatballs” & pasta with them!

I cut up the extra burger buns I had and made some delicious croutons to put on the pasta. I blended the small amount of the old cauliflower sauce with the new tofu pasta sauce. I chopped up the remaining tomatoes I had and threw them in the pasta too.

All in all, it turned out great! A little improvising is always fun!

Here’s the recipe that resulted–

editing.jpg

Squash & bean “meatballs”

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Original recipe here.
  3. Form into small balls and place on greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or just until crispy on the outside.

Croutons
Several pieces of bread
Italian seasoning
Olive oil
Salt

  1. Chop bread into small squares.
  2. Pour into a bowl. Toss with olive oil, italian seasoning, and a pinch of salt.
  3. Spread out on a greasy baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 300 F for 20 minutes or just until crispy, stirring them a little half way through.

Spicy & creamy pasta sauce
1 block of silken tofu
1/4 cup milk of choice
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

  1. Wrap tofu with paper towels and press with heavy books for at least an hour.
  2. Add tofu to blender with milk. Blend until creamy.
  3. Add in remaining ingredients. Add more milk as needed to get desired consistency.
  4. Pour over cooked pasta and heat just until warm.

Cauliflower alfredo sauce

Have I told you how much I love pasta?

The answer is a lot. Mmmm. Creamy, delicious things are my favorite. I’ve been searching and playing with a basic creamy base that would satisfy both my healthy tendencies & my vegan boyfriend.

The answer is cauliflower! This vegetable is so wonderful that both vegans & carnivores are embracing it to make creamy goodness.

Some vegans advocate for cashews as a creamy base, but I don’t particularly love the expensive price or texture (perhaps because I’m just using a regular old food processor and not an amazingly efficient Vitamix). Other recipes use tofu, which I’ve had some success with. But the food that wins for both simplicity and healthiness is, in my opinion, cauliflower!

You can use blended up cauliflower for anything, from this alfredo sauce to a healthier mac & cheese to a thick creamy soup (stay tuned for a good soup recipe this coming week). Trust me, even if you don’t love cauliflower, you will love using it in this way!

If you want to add more or less butter or salt, feel free to play with the measurements. The less, the healthier of course. But, you’re already making an incredibly healthy dish so feel free to liven it up a little. =)

2013-11-18 16.11.02

Cauliflower alfredo sauce (adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie)
2 cups frozen, thawed cauliflower OR 1 medium head of cauliflower
3 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter of choice
1 cup milk of choice
2 tsp Italian seasoning
Optional: 2 cups ish of cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, veggie versions)

  1. Cook garlic in a tiny bit of olive oil for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  2. Steam cauliflower for 10-15 minutes (click here for four easy ways to steam vegetables).
  3. Add cooked cauliflower, garlic, salt, and butter to food processor. Blend thoroughly. Add milk slowly, blending as you go until you reach the desired consistency. Add more or less milk as needed.
  4. Pour over cooked pasta, preferably with some delicious sauteed veggies added in. If cheese was added to the sauce, heat until cheese has melted, stirring as you go.
  5. Taste, and add more butter or salt as desired.

Spaghetti & mushroom “meatballs”

Mmmmm I love spaghetti. So comforting & delicious!

Since I made way too much delicious tomato sauce for my pizza, I decided to add a bit more water to thin it out & make spaghetti!

2013-10-24 17.44.51

I made these meatballs before with mac & cheese, which was amazing. So I figured I’d make them again!

2013-10-24 17.44.39

(I know  the term “meatballs” doesn’t really work here, but I don’t know what else to call them. Mushroom-balls? Eh. I’ve heard “neatballs” before but that sounds kinda ridiculous.)

2013-10-24 17.49.36

I also discovered the best drink ever! I hardly ever drink water, but I do love flavored water. Problem is, it’s often expensive & has weird things added to it.

Juice is too full of sugar. Soda is just all around a bad idea. Tea is wonderful, but what about when I want a cool drink?

Enter, homemade flavored water! Simply take a bunch of any fruit you like (not apples or bananas though, berries work great or even certain herbs like mint), put it in a pitcher, fill it up with water, and let it sit for awhile. I just bought frozen mixed berries and dumped them all in, and my water tastes amazing! Mmmm. You can add sweeteners if you want, but I just like it plain & simple.

Anyway, spaghetti recipe time. =)

STEP 1:

Make easy delicious tomato sauce

STEP 2:

Mushroom meatballs (adapted from Oh My Veggies)
1/2 c. dried brown lentils
1 c. water
8 oz. mushrooms
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. vegetable broth
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
salt + pepper to taste

  1. Combine lentils and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for only 10 minutes.
  2. Add mushrooms and lentils to food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Stir in mushroom-lentil mixture. Cook until browned.
  4. Stir in broth, soy sauce, oats, and Italian seasoning. Continue to cook until liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and allow to cool.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Once mixture is cool enough to work with, shape it into meatballs. Place in muffin tins or just on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with oil.
  8. Bake for 20-30 minutes or just until browned.