Monday, October 25, 2010

It Ain't Easy, Bein Cheesy...

So for some reason, most vegans I know are obsessed with finding a good mac and cheese recipe.  I admit, I include myself in that group.  For a while now I have had a very good mac and cheese recipe that is my go-to recipe, BUT.... it's not really like classic mac and cheese.  As I mentioned a while back, an awesome company sent me some dairy-free "cheese" samples.  I thought that having this available would be the perfect chance to try to just "wing it" and make my very own recipe.

I got out:
1 pkg Whole Wheat elbow noodles
1 pkg Galaxy Nutritional Foods Rice Cheese Block
1/3 cup Earth Balance Margarine
1 3/4 cup Almond milk
2 Heapin teaspoons Nutritional Yeast
big dash of paprika
big dash onion powder
4 table spoons vegenaise (seriously, I have yet to find something vegenaise did not improve...)
Panko bread crumbs
italian seasoning
onion flakes
garlic salt
More Earth Balance

I set water on to boil for the noodles, and then cooked them, while they were boiling I added the margarine and "milk" to a seperate pan and set it to warm.  Then I grated the cheese block into fine shreds and added it and the big dash of paprika, big dash onion powder, flour and 4 table spoons vegenaise.  I stirred this all till the cheese had completely melted and become an orange colored "sauce".  By this time the noodles were done, so I drained them, put them in a baking dish and poured the sauce over them. 

Now, if you like the Kraft mac and cheese style of macaroni and cheese, then you would want to stop here.  At this point it is already totally edible, BUT, I personally like baked Macaroni and Cheese with bread crumb topping, soooooo, I took the Panko bread crumbs, italian seasoning, onion flakes  and garlic salt and mixed them in a little dish and poured it over the mac.  I don't give you measurements here because it is all to taste.  I like quite a bit of seasoning, but that's me.  Then I put dollops of earth balance over the top (do small bits, but all over.  It makes the crust brown and crunchy.  Mmmmmm.)and baked it for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  This was the result:

Do you see that?  Do you see it's deliciousness??  I hope this is coming through the page at you... all steamy and cheesy.  Not to toot my own horn (TOOT TOOT!) but it was awesome.  Even hubby was a fan, and he hates vegan food! :)

I served it with peas and some falafel balls cooked in a mushroom gravy.  Side note on the falafel, not so great in a mushroom gravy.  Eh, I tried something new, you win some, you lose some.  Anyway it was a success overall, so I can't complain, and for once, neither did my husband! ;)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Easy Peasy Junk-Food Vegan

Ok, so I admit it.  I use a lot of processed vegan products.  I like to cook, but I also like having the option of whipping something together at a moment's notice.  In many vegan circles, this is heresy, I know.  But here at very-nearly-vegan, I hope to create a little space that isn't so uptight.  I agree that all organic, fresh, homeade foods are best.  But I also live in the real world where sometimes you just don't have the time.  So I do my best, and move on.  

As I mentioned previously, I am working on my Masters degree, which takes up a lot of my time.  Last week was term paper time, which is always a time of much weeping and gnashing of teeth in the James household.  Because of this, my weekly cooking time was greatly reduced, as was my will to be creative.  The thing is though, during these times of stress, you crave something yummy even more than when you have the time to really cook.  So my solution was some prepackaged goodies to help me survive.

Here we have Gardein Chik'n Scallopini, boxed Mac and Chreese, and Green Giant Grillers.  I like to bread the scallopini in vegenaise and panko bread crumbs, and then heat them in the oven on an oiled cookie sheet at 350 for about 20 minutes or until brown.  The grillers (a mixture of potatoes and veggies) get heated in the microwave for 6 minutes, and the mac and cheese is prepared almost the same way as the Kraft version.  After your bread the Chik'n, really most of the "cooking" can be done from the couch, while you wait for the buzzer to let you know dinner is ready.  Heat up some frozen peas, and voila! A balanced, and super yummy dinner.  Awesome.

Nothing beats a dinner that took like 20 minutes from freezer to table.  Unless of course YOU want to come cook from scratch for me.... someone else cooking beats doing it yourself any day. ;)

Ball One.....

Ok, so I have already documented that I struggle with the absence of Fettucini Alfredo in my life.  It's a real drag, quite frankly.  I have had multiple failed attempts, and last week I had yet another.  I was quite hopeful about this recipe.  It really sounded like it had potential,  and it was the best so far...
But it wasn't that good either. :(

I will spare you the recipe, cause you shouldn't waste your time making it, but here were the ingredients:

Earth Balance
Soy milk
vegan parmesan
flour (for thickening)
vegan cream cheese
a splash of coconut creamer

There.  Doesn't that sound good?  Doesn't it look good?  Well it wasn't.  It was edible.  It was fine. Passable... at best.  Le' sigh.  But never fear folks, I will press on!  There MUST be a decent vegan alfredo recipe out there somewhere.... mustn't there??  The search continues, stay tuned.....

Back Blogged

My apologies dear readers!  I know it has been more than a week since my last post, and I feel awful!  How did you ever manage in my absence??  Don't worry, I am back, so your world can go on!  LOL, just kidding!  Though I have missed writing, and reading your feedback. I was busy writing my term paper for grad school and unfortunately it took precedence over my for-fun-writing, but I am finally finished!   Hopefully you were able to get your vegan fix at one of the other 9 billion vegan blogs while I was away. ;)  Look for multiple postings this week, because even though I wasn't writing, dear readers, you can be assured that I was cooking!