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Whole Wheat “Mac” and Cheese Bake with Bread Cube Topping

5 Apr

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What to do when you have a nearly full jug of milk in the fridge and you have to use it before it goes bad? Mac and cheese.

I tried to balance the heaviness of a dish like mac and cheese by using whole wheat pasta and 1% low fat milk instead of whole milk. Serve with lots of colorful veggies to further balance out the full-fat creamy delicious cheeses, butter pats, and bread cube topping.

I roasted carrots and parsnips in the oven (cover them for the first 15 minute so they get nice and tender and glazed). For the broccoli, I rinsed it, and with the water still clinging, placed it on a plate , covered it with another plate, and steamed it in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes. And for fun, I sliced a few quick-pickled kirby cucumbers. Veggie Love!

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Not pictured, but leftovers reheat well with a little hot sauce dabbed on top!

Whole Wheat “Mac” and Cheese Bake with Bread Cube Topping

adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Originally from Martha Stewart

Serves 5-6

1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons), divided

3 thick slices bread (I used sourdough), crusts removed (I like to nibble on the crusts later, so I save them!), cut into bite-sized cubes

2 3/4 cups milk (I used 1% low fat milk)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon course salt

pinch of each: ground black pepper, fresh grated nutmeg, old bay

roughly 3 cups shredded cheese: I used a mix of Gruyere cheese and a fancy smoked Gouda (cheddar is more classic mac and cheese)

1/2 pound whole wheat pasta (I used fusilli)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a pie dish or 8 in x 8 in pan; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the bread cubes aside.

2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, old bay, 2 1/2 cups  of the cheeses. Set the sauce aside.

5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta until the outside is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the pasta to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the pasta into the reserved cheese sauce.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining  1/2 cup cheese and the bread cubes over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes (or until browned). Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.


(Almost) Vegan Baked Mac n’ “Cheese”

30 Sep

With a chill in the air and the leaves blowing, there is nothing like a cozy pasta dish to rear in the season. This baked pasta casserole is almost, but not exclusively, vegan.

The non-vegan part of the dish comes from using a bit of butter to make the roux, as well as some nonfat dairy milk (you could easily use vegan margarine/butter and unsweetened soy, almond, or rice milk).

I was just using up what I already had in the fridge…baby steps…

BUT, instead of cheese, I used nutritional yeast. All hail nutritional yeast. Gettin’ in some B vitamins and protein with significantly less saturated fat and cholesterol than your typical baked mac.

There’s a dash of tomato paste (I already had some in my freezer ready to go) and a bit of garlic powder, with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of agave. These flavors come together and taste just. like. cheese.

There’s also some spinach in the mix to balance this carb-tastic meal with a vegetable.

What’s that crazy-looking stuff on top? Triscuits. I had the crackers laying around and they added a great salty crunch. You could crush up any cracker you like, or you could use bread crumbs for a more classy aesthetic.

I shared a vegan mac n’ cheese recipe on the blog before, but I think this one is way better. I just prefer baked mac…creamy and crispy all in one.

You may also want to check out this Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo that I made from Chloe Coscarelli’s cookbook. I kid you not, it tastes like traditional fettuccine alfredo. Vegan magic!

Almost Vegan Baked Mac n’ “Cheese”

adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen

makes a 9 x 13 inch pans-worth

1 pound elbow macaroni (you could use whole wheat if you find a version, I also think shell-shaped would work great)

1/4 cup vegan butter/margarine (I used regular butter)

1/3 cup flour (I used all-purpose)

3 cups unsweetened soy/almond/rice milk (I used nonfat dairy milk)

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons salt

fresh ground pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon agave

5 oz fresh spinach or a bunch of chard or kale

2-3 tablespoons crushed crackers or breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, make a roux by whisking the butter and flour over medium heat until the mixture forms a paste. Add the milk, and keep stirring to avoid clumps. Add the nutritional yeast, tomato paste, garlic, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer until the sauce thickens. Stir in the lemon juice and agave.

Toss the noodles with the sauce and the spinach and transfer to the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the crushed crackers or breadcrumbs on top of the pasta and bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and crisp. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Tip: Chloe says that the unbaked macaroni and cheese can be refrigerated for 2-3 days until ready to bake. 

Roasted Beets, Sautéed Chard, and Quinoa Salad with YUBA!!!

3 Apr

I’ve been trying to cook quick, healthy meals for myself. For me, and for you.

Well, ok, a balanced diet can allow a chocolate chip cookie with sea salt sometimes too, especially when I bought it at a HUGE bakesale with all of the proceeds going to Japan. Yum.

And ok, I believe that a balanced diet also allows a trip to Oakland’s newest mac n’ cheese hotspot, Homeroom. “Mac the Goat” (goat cheese and scallions) and Peanut Butter Pie. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. It was phenomenal.

Alright alright, back to quick healthy meals. Today I took a walk to the farmer’s market. I sat in the sun, I started to read a book for fun, and I bought some colorful items to cook for dinner.

Chioggia Beets (google image them, so beautiful!) aka Candy-Stripe Beets:

Red-Stemmed Swiss Chard:

Yuba aka Tofu Skins:

I roasted the beets with a little water for about 45 minutes to an hour. I chopped my beets and added them to my sauteed chard. I mixed everything together with some quinoa and black beans and topped it all off with my spicy yuba.

I now have a happy tummy. I’ve been needing this.

But really, can you please come over for dinner? I need some company and I want to cook for you AND I will do your dishes. Please. It will be fun, I promise.

Roasted Beets, Sauteed Chard, and Quinoa Salad with YUBA!!!

I listed all of the ingredients in italics before each step

Serves 4-6 (or 1 + leftovers!)

Beets, about 1 pound
red vinegar

1. Roast your beets. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash and trim your beets then place them in a baking pan, sprinkle the beets with salt, and fill the pan with about 1/8th of an inch of water. Cover and roast for about 30 minutes to an hour, until a knife can very easily pierce the beets through to the center. Cool, peel (I used a combo of a paring knife plus my hands; its messy, don’t sweat it), chop, and sprinkle with salt and some red vinegar.

1 onion, chopped
1 bunch chard
water or broth

2. Saute the chard. Slice an onion and set aside. Wash your chard. Pull the leaves from the ribs. Trim the ends from the ribs and then cut them into thin slices. Cut the leaves into wide ribbons. Heat a pan with about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the chard and cook until the leaves are tender. Add some salt. Add a little bit of water or stock if the pan gets dry and the onions begin to stick and brown.

1 cup dry quinoa

1 cup water
1 cup broth

3. Prepare your quinoa. I used 1 cup of quinoa (rinsed), 1 cup of vegetable broth (leftover from making my polenta earlier this week), and 1 cup of water. Combine everything in the pan, boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 mintues.

Everything in steps 1-3 + black beans + yuba

4. Assembly. Combine the beets and the chard. Dump the quinoa into the mix. I added black beans because I had some left over from earlier in the week. Salt, pepper, vinegar (I used red), and top with yuba, or cheese, or nuts, or whatever the heck you feel like.

Vegan Mac (Fusilli) n’ “Cheese”

9 Mar

Creamy. Cheesy (ish). Nutty. Saucy. All nestling inside of each and every curve of the suave fusilli noodle.

Sounds pretty sexy, right? Sexy vegan “Mac” n’ “Cheese.”

But nah this little dish is really quite modest. Especially since I added frozen peas n’ carrots. From sexy to modest to good ol’ comfort food. The cheesy-ness comes from making a roux with a vegan butter substitute (I am definitely a big fan of Earth Balance “butter”), some flour, almond milk, and…drum roll please…NUTRITIONAL YEAST.

What the heck is nutritional yeast? Well, to me it looks like nasty yellow fish flakes. However it does provide a quite lovely (yet acquired) nutty taste and it is jam-packed with B vitamins, protein, and all sorts of good things for your bod.

Some love sprinkling nut. yeast on their toast or atop popcorn. I have not gotten there yet. I have, however, found myself basking in the goodness of nut. yeast melted into a “creamy” sauce sans actual cream.

And as always with mac n’ cheese (and pasta dishes in general), bread crumb topping or homemade croutons are always welcome and enhance the dish.

Now let’s get cooking!

(thanks, Chloe for the great recipe, check out her awesome website)

Chloe’s Vegan Mac N’ Cheese

makes, oh, 8? servings (yay lunch leftovers!!!!)

1 pound of the pasta of your choice
1/4 cup of soy-free Earth Balance
1/3 cup flour
3 cups nondairy milk (I used almond milk)
1 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I used marinara sauce because that was what I had on hand)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder (I used fresh garlic)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
optional: frozen or fresh broccoli or peas n’ carrots
also optional: bread crumbs or croutons

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. In a medium saucepan, make a roux by whisking the margarine and flour over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes (yes it looks solid and a bit clumpy, but keep whisking). Add nondairy milk, nut. yeast, tomato paste (or sauce), sea salt, and garlic. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently, then simmer the mixture until it thickens, about 5-10 more minutes. Stir in lemon juice and adjust seasonings to taste.

3. Toss the noodles with the sauce (and veggies, if using) and as Chloe says, “enjoy the sound of suctioning noodles as you mix.”

Next time:
mmm some smoky paprika might be nice! or maybe some pumpkin puree!!!