Vegan Mac&Chee

I have seen nutritional yeast in lots of savory vegan recipes, namely vegan macaroni and cheese recipes.

Nutritional yeast is not brewer’s yeast, nor is it baker’s yeast. It is a yeast (S. cerevisae) that is grown on enriched molasses and then deactivated (killed) and used as a supplement. It is chock-full of nutrients such as all 18 amino acids (a complete protein), B-complex vitamins, and a great source of vitamin B12 for vegans and others who don’t eat animal products.

Flaky and golden yellow in form (also found as a powder), nutritional yeast lends a cheesy, nutty flavor and texture to foods. Besides being made into a “cheese” sauce, apparently nutritional yeast can be sprinkled on hot popcorn, kale chips, cereal (sorry, this one just grosses me out… cereal should not taste cheesy?!), eggs, tofu, mashed potatoes… It’s a good substitute for parmesan cheese, although the only use I can vouch for is a “cheese” sauce, as this is what I have tried thus far.

(It was freakin’ delicious.)

(And supah easy.)

(And my notoriously picky brother ate it without complaint… of course he had no idea what was actually in it. Let’s keep that between us.)

Vegan Mac & Chee
(The name comes from what we used to call macaroni and cheese, for short, except we said “mackeechee”; but I didn’t think that would spur instant recognition from my enormous fan base from my small pool of readers) 

Adapted from Oh She Glows, which was adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

1 pound whole wheat pasta (rigatoni, penne, shells… something cheese-sauce friendly, of course)
half a bag of frozen peas
1 orange bell pepper, chopped into bite-sized pieces (or broccoli… or spinach… any veggie will do)

1 1/4 cups water
1 cup unsweetened silk soymilk
3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon garlic puree
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard or regular mustard (I used honey mustard)
1/2 teaspoon paprika (did not have; added a bit of chili powder)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (curry powder)
1 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (if you have tahini, use that)
black pepper to taste

Cook pasta in a somewhat large pot; during last 5 minutes cooking, add peas and orange pepper. Drain.

While pasta cooks, process everything else (1 + 1/4 cup water to black pepper to taste) in a food processor. I’m sure you could just whisk it all together if you don’t have a food processor.

Return the pasta to the saucepan and add the cheese sauce mixture. Heat on low/medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently–the sauce will thicken magically before your eyes. Taste and season as needed.

Mangez-vous.

Don’t you love when things just WORK OUT? I had no idea how this would go — Oh She Glows‘ pictures were promising, but too often than not I don’t get the same result in my own experiment. And experiment this was — I felt like a mad scientist combining the strangest, un-foodlike ingredients (when I opened the bag of nutritional yeast, or “nooch,” I thought it looked and smelled like fish food… but I was not deterred! Please don’t let that gross you out… uh…) into something that could be edible.

BUT! This was so good! A delicious yet exceedingly healthy comfort food that while obviously not cheese, had a great taste and texture. Especially paired with the veggies and later, some applesauce (favorite side dish to macaroni and cheese).

This is creamy out of your mind. Creamier than any other (non vegan) macaroni and cheese I have ever made. And easier than any other macaroni and cheese! No roux-making, no waiting for sauce thickening that never really gets thick enough… Plus, it is so, so full of nutrients barely any fat, tons of protein, and most of the flavoring from spices.

Even though this January has been feeling more like spring, a steaming pot of this macaroni and cheese will hit the spot.

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Red Quinoa Sliders with Lemon Zest Greek Yogurt Sauce

I’ve been eyeing this recipe for a while (by which I mean about 2 days) and decided they were just too cute not to make.

Quinoa, carrots, chickpeas, sesame seeds, spices, egg to hold it together, with a creamy, cool dipping sauce.

Paired with a little glass of wine (I am a twenty-something undergrad… no worries… cough) and arranged on cucumber slices, this was as fun to assemble as it was to eat.

Quinoa Sliders with Lemon Zest Greek Yogurt Sauce

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen (please go check it out… the photos are gorgeous)

1/2 cup red quinoa
1 cup chopped carrot
1 small shallot, sliced
1 tablespoon dried parsley (3 tablespoons fresh)
15 ounces (1 can) chickpeas
2 eggs
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1/4 a lemon)
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (Convection oven @ 375 F, bake sesame seeds in a single layer for 2 minutes, shaking and rotating pan midway)
2 cloves garlic
dash salt
sprinkle pepper

olive oil for pan

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 peanut butter (use tahini if you have it… I used crunchy natural peanut butter and enjoyed the texture)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Fresh Chives to taste (if you have. I didn’t, so I sprinkled more parsley on top)
dash salt
sprinkle pepper

1 English Cucumber, sliced into long sticks for presentation (and dipping!)

In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to boil. Add quinoa, cover, and reduce heat to low, cook about 12 minutes to allow water to be absorbed. Note: I usually add the quinoa to the cold water and bring it up to a boil together… if not sure, just follow the directions on the package. Also, turn off the heat even if it looks like the quinoa could adsorb a little more–the water will be adsorbed just from sitting there. Let cool.

Stir together yogurt, peanut butter, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste (and the chives; reserve a few chives for sprinkling later). Cover and chill.

Pulse carrots and parsley (dried or fresh) in a food processor. Add shallot, chickpeas, toasted sesame seeds, lemon juice, eggs, garlic cloves, coriander, and cumin, salt and pepper. Pulse until combined. Add quinoa, pulse a few more times. Taste-test, if you aren’t all that concerned about raw egg. (I’m not.) Let set in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight.

Form two-tablespoon’s worth of quinoa mixture into small, thick patties.

Over medium heat, drizzle a bit of oil in a nonstick pan to cover the surface. Sear the patties about 3 minutes on each side, flattening them out with the back of a spatula in the pan or until golden brown on each side. For each batch, use some new oil. Also, turn on your fan and crack the window as your fire alarm may go off because if you’re like me, something’s burning at some point or another.

Serve warm, on top of the cucumbers, with the yogurt sauce.

Sprouted Kitchen suggests putting them into mini pitas for a vegetarian appy.

Yum!

These were good. The ones I took outside to photograph got pretty cold, pretty fast, which is how we learned they taste better warm.

They were really yummy, though. A nice browned crust formed on each side, and the burgers themselves held together pretty well (something I have had trouble with in the past). If I had not been too lazy to go get fresh herbs, they would have been quite amazing. The yogurt sauce was especially good. Thick, from the Greek-ness; uber creamy from the Greek-ness and from the peanut butter running through; yet light-tasting from the lemon zest. My dad later heated the sliders in the microwave for about a minute and declared them delicious. I need to eat more quinoa and home-made food in general; these definitely hit the spot.

Seared Salmon with Pecorino-Romano Lemon Kale Salad

One of my favorite foods is salmon.

I couldn’t go completely vegetarian, much less vegan, if I could never have salmon again.

I know… fishing is horrible and so much is wasted. But I’m going to be honest; it’s hard to remember when I’m not on that end of the food chain. I’ve decided to be pescetarian this year (the only animal I eat is fish/seafood) so I am a few steps closer (not that I really like red meat or poultry that much to begin with). Maybe I can go all the way to no animals but … that’s a resolution for another year.

Um… anyway, with that being said, please enjoy seared salmon (wild-caught), with lemon-kale salad. It looks gourmet (or so I think) but it’s so super easy, I randomly made it for lunch one day which had the added benefit of natural light coming in (when often I end up finishing a dish at night and have to make do with our dim kitchen lights). Just cook the salmon, toss the kale, and you’re good to go!

Seared Salmon with Pecorino-Romano Lemon Kale Salad

Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

4 cups kale, rinsed and dried

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup lemon juice

2 cloves garlic

Salt & pepper

1/3 cup whole-grain breadcrumbs (I baked a piece of whole wheat bread, torn in pieces at 400 for 6-10 min; it gets dry and toasty and can be crumbled into breadcrumbs)

1/3-1/2 cup Pecorino cheese

4 salmon filets (I use the frozen wild-caught ones from Costco; just thaw in a bowl of cool water)

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup white wine

Remove the the tougher-looking ribs from the kale, lay leaves on top of each other, and slices into 1/4” ribbons. Put them all in a bowl. (Mine was pre-sliced).

In a food processor, whiz the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic cloves, salt, and pepper and adjust the seasonings to taste; you may need to also adjust the lemon juice : olive oil ratio. Too tangy? Add some honey (I didn’t). Pour some over the kale and let those kale leaves soak it all up.

Take the thawed salmon (if not fresh) and dry both sides with a paper towel, and sprinkle/rub on the garlic, salt, pepper and dried basil. You don’t really have to measure; just sprinkle it on. Heat some oil in a large skillet and add the salmon filets skin-side down and let them get crispy, about 5 minutes (mine didn’t get that crispy… not sure what to do?) Flip, sear for 1 minute, and add white wine. Cook 5 minutes, checking for doneness along the way (depending on thickness of filet). Remove the salmon.

To finish the kale salad, add breadcrumbs, pecorino, and any leftover dressing (if so) to the salad and toss to combine.

Serve each plate with lots of kale and a salmon filet.

I like salmon skin, so I plated it with the skin showing. This meal is so healthy and satisfying (my second time making it). The kale, especially, is delicious with the lemon/cheese/garlic combination; the kale’s bitterness is toned down with the acidity of the lemon and pairs well with the salty flavor of the cheese, with bite from the garlic. Breadcrumbs added a nice contrast visually and in taste, texture, and flavor. Although tasty when fresh, the salad only gets better when it’s allowed to sit–kale is pretty hardy and doesn’t get soggy from the dressing.

The salmon is so yummy and hard to mess up. Simply sear and cook until cooked through! It results in a mellow flavor that doesn’t compete with the kale, just complements it.

All in all, a delicious meal.

Kale Chips

This barely counts as a recipe but… gonna hop aboard the bandwagon and do the food-blog-post-rite-of-passage of Kale Chips.

Never heard of them? Yay! Now I feel original!

Kale is a leafy green (we all need to eat more of those), specifically a cruciferous vegetable. It’s kind of like spinach in taste, but has more texture and is not as light as spinach. Kale is a powerhouse of nutrients and functions: antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, cancer-treating, cholesterol-lowering, detoxifying, tons of fiber… (source)

… If eaten regularly, of course.

Which, with the following “recipe,” should be easy to do.

Kale Chips

Some kale, washed and dried with ribs removed (ribs don’t make a good chip)

Olive oil cooking spray

Pecorino-romano cheese (or nutritional yeast for a vegan version)

Garlic powder

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a pan with foil, and spray with olive oil or PAM. Distribute the leaves in a single layer.

Bake for a few minutes, then sprinkle some cheese and garlic powder, and then bake a few minutes more or until the crinkly parts of the leaves are browned or until you notice smoke coming out of your oven (no, I’m not speaking from experience…. cough).

If you’re making lots and lots of chips, you can put more on the pan at once and turn them midway through cooking. It takes some trial and error. Experiment with different oven temps and times and Google other recipes. This just worked out for moi.

Like my green sweatshirt that got its closeup in the corner over there? Oy…

Anyway, these chips are lighter than a potato chip, especially the crinkly bits of leaves that browned. The cheese gets browned in the oven too, making the chips addictive. Try different toppings and seasonings. I’ve seen sour cream & onion, dipping into ketchup, chocolate-coconut, banana chocolate… To do these toppings, you would have to combine the topping ingredients, toss the kale leaves in them, and then bake.

Trying to quit potato chips for 2012? Try this!

Pumpkin Tiramisu

After an epic journey of finding and buying coconut milk, amaretto and instant espresso powder (do you realize how hard it is to find espresso powder? my goodness) I finally have made Chloe Coscarelli’s vegan Pumpkin Tiramisu!

I used to hate tiramisu, but after having the freakin’ delicious one in the city, I wanted to try this spin-off.

Note: It tastes even better the next day after chilling and allowing the layers to meld to each other. The first night, the layers are still kind of separate as are the tastes; but that did not stop me from chowing down.

Pumpkin Tiramisu 

Straight from Chloe Coscarelli’s recipe, my notes in italics.

Pumpkin Crème

1/3 cup cornstarch or arrowroot
¼ cup water
¾ cup canned coconut milk, mixed well before measuring
1 can pumpkin puree
¾ cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon salt

Vanilla Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour plus 1 ½ teaspoon xanthan gum) [I did 1 cup WW pastry flour + 2 cups all-purpose flour)
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups soy, almond, or rice milk
1 cup canola oil
¼ cup white or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla or almond extract

Espresso Soak
½ cup amaretto
¼ cup water
3 tablespoons instant espresso

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (dairy-free), ground in a food processor or finely chopped (Although I love chocolate, I used just 6 ounces and it was the perfect amount)

To make the Pumpkin Crème: In a small bowl, thoroughly mix cornstarch and water with a whisk or fork and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together coconut milk, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice, and salt, and heat over medium heat until it just begins to boil, about 5 minutes. Slowly drizzle cornstarch mixture into the saucepan, whisking continuously. Let cook until the mixture becomes very thick in texture, about 5 minutes, whisking frequently. (It will spew forth pumpkin creamy goodness at you if you don’t whisk, so watch out!) Pour the crème into a bowl and let cool about 15 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap so that the plastic wrap is touching the top of the crème. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

To make the Vanilla Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease three 9-inch round cake pans or one 9- x 13-inch pan and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together nondairy milk, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not over mix.

Fill each prepared cake pan evenly with batter. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes (or 30-35 minutes if using 9×13-inch pan), or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean with a few crumbs clinging to it. Rotate the cakes halfway through the baking time. Cool the cakes completely before assembly. Slice the 9×13 inch cake transversely, and then use your trifle dish/bowl to determine the size of the cake circles. So, each cake layer is half the thickness of the original cake. Get it? 

To make the Espresso Soak: In a small bowl, whisk amaretto, water, and espresso until espresso dissolves.

To assemble: In a large bowl or trifle dish, place one layer of cake at the bottom and drizzle it with the Espresso Soak (Enough to cover the cake in the stuff… you’ll have Soak left over).  Spread a layer of Pumpkin Crème on top and generously sprinkle with ground chocolate. Repeat this process for three more layers until all components are used up. You could also cut the cake into mini rounds for individual servings in mini trifle dishes or ramekins.

This was really good. Especially, as noted, the second day when the layers marry each other. The pictures may not do it justice–check out the original pictures–but it was fun to make.  It’s just a plethora of different tastes and textures — soft, espresso/amaretto cake layer; creamy, spicy pumpkin layer; and of course, the rich chocolate layer. YUM. Plusssss if you use actual nondairy chocolate and coconut-milk whipped cream, it’s totally vegan. Yay!

If you like pumpkin pie… coffee… chocolate… and cake (uhm, who doesn’t…?) then you’ll totally like this. It’s so rich but so delicious.

Maple Browned Butter Poached Pears


Are you a fan of cinnamon, maple, and pears that have been sautéed in browned butter and then roasted in the oven?

If you are NOT, the aroma of said combination wafting through the house will be sure to convert you.

Maple Browned Butter Poached Pears

Adapted from Cook This Now, by Melissa Clark

3 almost-ripe Bosc or Anjou pears (1 1/2 pounds), or a mixture of the two

3 tablespoons butter

2/3 cup maple syrup

1 cinnamon stick

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Peel and halve the pears lengthwise, and scoop out the core with a spoon; I left a stem or two in for a garnish. Brown 2 tablespoons of butter in a large NON-nonstick, oven-safe skillet until frothy, and then until the milk solids are nutty brown; be careful not to burn it! Add the pears, cut side down, to the pan and cook without moving until the undersides are golden (3 min). Flip the pears and cook until golden again (3 min). Pour in maple syrup over the pan and drop in the cinnamon stick. Flip pears to original position and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake 12 minutes or until pears are just tender.

Transfer the pears to a pretty lipped plate, using a slotted spoon to leave the sauce behind. Simmer the sauce until reduced (3-5 minutes) and whisk in the lemon juice.  Spoon the reduced sauce over the pears and serve.

These were quite delectable.

Especially when served with a little whipped cream. Because I eat almost any dessert with whipped cream. Spoon a little sauce over it and you’re in maple cinnamon pear heaven. A really yummy but light-feeling dessert for a cold winter day.

I’d plan to have the entire dish eaten as soon as it’s cool enough to eat. In the fridge, the butter hardens a bit and it’s not as pretty. But, nothing a little zap in the micro shouldn’t fix.

Scrumptious Bran Muffins with Cranberries and Raisins

Today I made you bran muffins.

Whole wheat flour, bran flakes, cranberries and raisins…

They were amazing. Even with the flax “egg” I had to use because I ate the last egg for breakfast the morning before and didn’t tell anyone we were now out of eggs. Oops.

Scrumptious Bran Muffins with Cranberries and Raisins

Adapted from Whole Wheat or Bust

1 1/2 cups wheat bran flakes (I used Bob’s Red Mill, it was in the baking aisle)

1 cup unsweetened Silk soymilk

1/3 cup butter

flax egg: 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 4 tablespoons warm water, allowed to sit

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup whole wheat white flour

1/4 cup oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup raisins

Handful fresh cranberries

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Mix the wheat bran and soymilk and let stand. With an electric mixer beat the butter, flax “egg,” sugar, and vanilla… Beat for a while; at least for me it looked kind of weird, not perfectly creamy & smooth but it worked for me. Add the bran mixture to this and mix. Sift the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bran mixture, and stir until combined. Fold in raisins and cranberries. Divide into a greased six-muffin tin and bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

These lived up to their namesake. They are crumbly and buttery, and sweet enough to stand up to the tart cranberries without being too sweet. You could really taste the delicious crunchy/chewy texture of the bran, which got nice and crisp on the tops and outside but remained chewy, yet tender inside.

My muffins didn’t really rise out of their muffin tin to get that delectable muffin-top, but these were so so so good. All six muffins were devoured by us before the sun went down. They were so good warm, with a little shmear of Greek yogurt too.

Leftover bran? Well, one cup has your day’s worth of fiber… and it is crunchy and a good topping for oatmeal or yogurt. Or you can just make batches and batches of muffins until it’s used up. Yum.