Recipe 51: Easiest Vegan Mac and “Cheese”

You may remember that I once tried a vegan mac and “cheese” a while back. You may also remember that it wasn’t that great. Naturally, I was dubious about trying another. But when another vegan recipe presented itself, I decided I needed to soldier on.

No More Ramen is a great recipe website, though not for the usual reasons. It helps those who are on a limited budget who want to make things beyond the usual rice and beans (though you can find some recipes for that, too!). It also takes into consideration those with food restrictions and health concerns which may make high-energy or longer recipes difficult. It’s a labor of love compiled by a lone blogger, but anyone can contribute. I heart this website.

This recipe was pretty simple in terms of putting it together, which made me hopeful.

Easiest Vegan Mac and “Cheese” (from No More Ramen)

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup raw cashews or cashew pieces (soaked for 2+ hours beforehand if you don’t have a high-speed blender) OR 2/3 cup canned white beans, drained – I used canned beans
  • 2 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbs miso (if you can’t have soy, omit this- I’ve made the sauce before without it and it’s just fine) – I left this out because I didn’t have any
  • 3 tsp soy sauce (or tamari, or Bragg’s liquid aminos)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbs lemon juice
  • 3 tsp mustard
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 4-6 tbs olive oil
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 3/4-1 cup water
  • 8 oz cooked macaroni – I used corn elbows

Directions

In a blender, blend cashews, nutritional yeast, miso, soy sauce, salt, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, olive oil, pepper, and water on high until completely smooth. Toss with cooked macaroni (that has been returned to the pot after draining) until the noodles are completely coated. That’s it!

Verdict: 1.5/5

I said I wanted to solider on with a new vegan recipe, and that I was hopeful about it. Both were in vain. The sauce was watery and tasted of nothing but lemon and vinegar. Neither Loverman nor I wanted seconds. There is no picture because it was that bad.

Here’s to a better recipe next time.


Recipe 50: Crockpot Mac and Cheese

Look at that!  I’m starting to get close to my original 2012 goal of 52 recipes with this recent blitz of macs I’ve had.  Better late than never I suppose, right?

This is a recipe that has been floating around Facebook for a while (speaking of, you know you can follow me on Facebook, right?).  Finally I decided to give it a whirl.

Crockpot Mac and Cheese (found on Facebook, unknown origin)

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 3 – 4 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • (1) 8 oz pkg cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a slow cooker; cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours.  Stir throughout cooking time to combine ingredients.  You can add more grated cheese for a cheesier version. Up to 4 cups (I did this because the hubz had used up some of the cream cheese, and I wanted to ensure the cheesiness).

A shapeless mess!  Yum!

A shapeless mess! Yum!

Verdict: 3.5/5

Here’s another mac that works as a good basis for other stir-ins.  I think something like a chorizo would be well iat home here.  It reminded me of the sort of taste that you might get if you ordered mac and cheese as a side at a BBQ restaurant – nothing too fancy, but not the usual boxed stuff.  It also fits in the “easy mac” category since it takes care of itself.  My crockpot had well and thoroughly cooked this in three hours, so keep an eyes on this.  This tastes fine plain, but also is good with ketchup or Sriracha.

It’s officially Xmas Eve, so if you celebrate, I hope your Xmas is merry and bright.  And if you don’t celebrate, I still wish you tidings of comfort and joy.


Recipe 49: Dessert Macaroni and Cheese

After the success of the breakfast mac and cheese, I felt pretty saucy about trying non-traditional macs. Well, I’ve done a breakfast mac, so the next major new territory was for a dessert mac. Yeah, you read that right. After all, cheesecake is good, and couldn’t a sweet mac and cheese be like a deconstructed cheesecake? The logic seemed sound, but I was seriously scared.

So naturally, I made this and served it to a huge group of friends.

Dessert Macaroni and Cheese (from Annie Capell)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups macaroni noodles
  • 12 oz cream cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup white chocolate
  • 1 recipe streusel (recipe follows)
  • ½ cup sugar

Struesel Recipe

  • ½ cup flour (I used Pamela’s)
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 Tbsp butter, cold and cubed
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch salt
  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped

Directions

1. Cook the noodles in a pot of sugared water. Take water, bring to a boil with about 2 Tbsp sugar in it and cook the noodles, strain and cool
2. In a separate bowl combine the cream cheese, softened, sour cream, vanilla and 1/c cup sugar until smooth
3. Melt the white chocolate in microwave and whisk into the mixture.
4. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more sour cream or sugar to smooth it out. Taste and adjust seasonings, add more vanilla if needed or more melted chocolate
5. Add the noodles and mix until they are coated
6. Preheat the broiler
7. Pour into a pan and pat down
8. Sprinkle the streusel on top covering it (streusel ingredients should be combined until crumbly, but not dry)
9. Bake in the broiler until the topping is just beginning to brown. Serve warm or cold (see my note on this below!)
Rating: 1.5/5

I was scared about making this, and lemme tell you, I had every reason to be. This was actually pretty terrible. But some of the reasoning might be because of my gluten issues. Let me explain.

The recipe said to eat this hot or cold, so I served it cold. After all, that’s how you eat cheesecake, right? Everyone agreed, this made the texture terrible. Texture with gluten-free pastas can be iffy anyway, so cold? Gummy, gluey, waxy chunks of food that sits heavy in your belly. The taste was good, especially with the strudel topping, but the texture ruined it all.

One friend had the thought to warm it up in the microwave, maybe 30 seconds. She said it was much better warm. However, this friend is pregnant and I thought this might affect her taste (everyone has stories of weird cravings, it seems). I warmed it up. The texture was better, but now I didn’t like the taste.  As another friend described this recipe, “It’s so almost-there.”  Almost, but not quite.  Still, the original poster of the recipe says her friends all loved it, so take that into consideration as well.  My group of eight disagreed.

Now all this is not to say that I think dessert mac and cheese is bad all around. I still think there are some recipes that could work. But I admit, I’m a little leery about trying them any time soon.

Have a mac I should try soon? Let me know!


Recipe 48: Gluten-Free One Pot, No Drain Mac ‘N’ Cheese

I think you all know me well enough by now to know that I like when recipes are EASY.  Any exotic ingredients or unusual steps?  Kind of a hassle.  I have a whole set of recipes tagged “easy mac” because if it just involves stovetop cooking, it deserves some special recognition.

I’ve seen recipes before claiming to be one pot, no-drain recipes, ones where you make the sauce while cooking the pasta, but they were all “normal pastas,” i.e. not gluten-free.  This sounded like a great idea, but I had no idea if this concept would work with GF pastas.  Then I found this website: All gluten-free.  I think we all know I had to try this just about right away.

Gluten-Free One Pot, No Drain Mac ‘N’ Cheese (from Flippin’ Delicious)

Ingredients

  • 3 c. gluten-free elbow pasta (or penne or other short pasta) – I used corn elbows
  • 2 1/4 c. milk – I used skim, though the original recipe discourages this
  • 2 1/4 c. water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2-2 c. grated cheddar cheese
  • Pepper, to taste

Directions

Dump all ingredients, except the cheese, into a large saucepan.  Stir, cover, and heat over med-high heat until it comes to a boil (admittedly, with the milk this smells a little weird.  Trust the process).  Remove the lid and continue to simmer until the pasta is cooked al-dente. The liquid will thicken as it cooks creating the sauce.  Once the pasta is cooked stir in the cheese and season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve while hot.
IMG_7348Verdict: 4.5/5
This might be the easiest recipe of all my easy recipes.  This is a very simple flavor, so this could easily be the base for any of the mac hacks listed, or any other you might come up with.  Don’t have a blue box on hand, but have some cheese?  MAKE THIS.
Not to give too much away, but there is totally another mac coming soon that I’m excited about.  Hopefully the flavor pleases me as well as the idea.  Have any macs you’re excited about?  Let me know!