mac and cheese with roasted brussel sprouts and seitan bacon.

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It has been COLD here in Chicago. Record breaking low temperatures mean all I want is comfort food. Earlier in the week I made nachos for dinner, last night I made my favorite vegan mac and cheese recipe, but took it to a whole new level.  I posted this photo on instagram and everyone was going crazy, so I promised to post the recipe. This is hands down, my favorite, go-to vegan mac and cheese recipe. I’ve made it tons of times – its really easy and fast and I always have the ingredients on hand. It’s also pretty speedy, which makes for easy weeknight meals!

Original recipe can be found in Vegan Diner, but below is my modification.
(P.S. This is one of my favorite cookbooks! I’ve made lots of things from it, and they are all comforting, delicious and simple to make. If you are contemplating this book, bite the bullet and own it, because its totally worth it.)

1 bag of noodles fit for making mac and cheese (elbows, shells, fusili, etc)
1/2 cup raw cashews
6 T Nutritional Yeast
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 T cornstarch
2 T flour
2 tspn granulated garlic
1 1/2 tspn onion powder
1 1/4 tspn smoked paprika
Dash of sea salt
Bit of black pepper ( to your liking)

Brussel Sprouts
olive oil
Seitan bacon (Uptons is my favorite!)
more salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Slice up your brussel sprouts and coat with 1-2 T olive oil and some salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes.

Get your water for the pasta ready to boil. When your water is boiling, add the pasta to the water and cook according to package directions.

While that’s happening, dump all of the sauce ingredients into a high powered blender and blend until the cashews are smooth. If you dont have a vitamix, or something similar, make sure to soak your cashews for a few hours, or preferably overnight.

Add the cheese sauce to a sauce pan over medium heat and whisk every so often until it starts to thicken. When its thick, lower the heat to low until your pasta is ready.

Make sure to fry up your bacon and cut into bits too!

When everything is ready, strain your pasta and put back into the pot. Dump your cheese sauce in and mix it in really well, adding some more crushed black pepper. Throw your brussel sprouts in there and your cut up bacon and enjoy!

chocolate chip skillet cookie.

COOKIEPIE

Oh, you bet we ate it with ice cream on top….
recipe is from vegan diner

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tspn bkg powder
1 T ground flax
3T hot water
1 stick earth balance
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tspn vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 inch skillet.
combine flour and baking powder. In a small bowl, combine water and flax. Mix well.
Set aside to thicken.

In another bowl, cream earth balance and sugar until light and fluffy. add flax mixture and vanilla. Add dry ingredients until batter comes together – don’t overmix. Add in pecans and chocolate. Spread into pan and bake for 30-40 minutes until edges turn brown. let cool about 15 minutes and serve warm.

07. quinoa burgers.

I love a friday night were we stay in and have nothing to do the whole weekend. These are very few and far between unfortunately. But this month we were fortunate to have a few of those and I’m definitely taking advantage of them. This particular friday night, Dj wasn’t feeling very well, so he did’t really have any opinion about what was happening for dinner. I love a good veggie burger, and don’t really love any that you can buy frozen or in stores, so I went to Julie Hasson’s Vegan Diner book and gave the quinoa burgers a shot since I had all the ingredients on hand. These were so so good. I had my friend Peggy come over and eat one, and Dj even ate two!

I topped my burger with avocado and Julie’s recipe for vegan ranch dressing. Oh, and whats a veggie burger without fries? I found a recipe on pinterest for making some crispy oven fries, and those turned out great too!

Quinoa Burgers
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
12 oz. chickpeas
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup quick oats (not instant)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 tspn poultry seasoning or your favorite spice blend ( i used a southwest chipotle blend in mine)
1 tspn smoked paprika
2T soy sauce
2T chickpea flour
1/2 tspn salt
black pepper

In a bowl of a food processor, add the onion and the garlic and pulse until finely chopped. Add chickpeas and oats and pulse until well mixed. Don’t puree. Place in large mixing bowl and stir in quiona, parsley, seasonings, soy sauce and chickpea flour. Stir in 1 to 2 T of water if needed to help the burger mixture stick together, although you don’t want to make the mixture too moist. Add salt and pepper to tasted. Thoroughly mix the ingredients well, cover the bowl and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Form into 6 balls and pres into 3 1/2-4 inch patties.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat and lightly coat or spray with olive oil. Dust the burgers with some flour and add to hot skillet to cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until they are nicely browned and crispy.

Vegan Ranch Dressing (from Vegan Diner)
1/2 cup non dairy sour cream
3 T unsweetened non dairy milk
1 tspn dried parsley
1/2 tspn garlic powder
1/2 tspn onion powder
1/2 tspn sea salt to taste
1/4 tspn black pepper

mix items together and blend until smooth and creamy.

Crispy oven fries (found here)

  • 2 pounds of russet potatoes (about 5 potatoes); can be peeled or unpeeled the decision is yours; sliced into 1/2 inch strips
  • 4 cups of water for boiling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of seasoning salt
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a pot big enough to hold the water and the sliced potatoes, add water and potatoes; bring the potatoes to a boil; once the water starts boiling add the salt; cook until the potatoes are 3/4 of the way done, about 4 minutes. You should be able to insert the tips of a fork, but it should be a little tough to remove it.  (Note: If you are unsure, it is better to under cook the fries at this point, otherwise they may get too soft)
  3. Remove from heat and strain, place under running cold water for a few seconds to stop the cooking process.  Strain. Place on a paper towel and pat dry.
  4. In a bowl big enough to fit the fries, add the fries, olive oil and seasoning salt. Gently stir to combine.
  5. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray and lay the fries out in a single layer. Place in the oven; cook for 15 minutes.
  6. After 15 minutes, remove from the oven and turn the fries. Return to oven for 10 more minutes.
  7. After 10 minutes broil for 5 minutes. You can broil for longer depending on how crispy you like your fries.

04. granola.

I have only made one kind of granola before. And it was fabulous. Granola is one of those things that is so easy to make, and I usually have everything on hand, I just don’t ever think to make it. I guess I always thought it would be time consuming, expensive, and require alot of oil to taste good. So I usually just always buy Milk and Honey granola from Whole foods, but at $7 a bag, I don’t do that very often. I got the book, Vegan Diner, from my library a few months back and was so in love with everything I made that I just went ahead and bought it as soon as I had to send it back to the library. So I figured I would try her version of granola and it did not disappoint!

Try it yourself! And don’t be afraid to experiment with it….Try different combinations of ingredients based on what you have.

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 T flax seed
1 1/2 tspn cinnamon
4 T canola oil
3 T agave nectar
1 tspn vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts (i used pecans)
1/3 cup dried cherries, raisins or other dried fruit of your choice (i used cherries)
*I added some shredded coconut too.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a large bowl combine the oats, brown sugar, flax and cinnamon. In a small bowl, mix together the canola oil, agave and vanilla extract. Add the oil mixture to the oat mixture, mixing well until the oats are very evenly coated.  Spread the oat mixture evenly on a 9×13 baking sheet. bake for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the oven  and add your nuts (and coconut in my case). bake for another 10 minutes until evenly browned. Remove and add your dried fruit. Once cooled, store in an airtight container.