Vegan mac and cheese

I’ve been to a few potlucks recently and I was running out of ideas for simple, delicious dishes to bring. So I thought about veganizing a traditional baked mac ‘n’ cheese casserole. I started off following the directions on the package of pasta and strayed wildly–with great success!

Ingredients:

16 oz elbow pasta
2 cups vegan cheese*
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 slice of bread
2 tbsp. margarine
2 tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. turmeric
salt to taste

Directions:

First, I brought a large pot of water to a boil (4-6 quarts). Then I added an entire box of elbow noodles and cooked them to al dente (firm).

While the pasta was cooking, I turned half a slice of bread (I used Dave’s Killer Bread) into bread crumbs in my food processor and set it aside for the topping. Then I crumbled 2 cups of vegan cheeses in the food processor and set it aside too.

food processor

* I combined five types of cheese to create the two cups needed for this recipe: Field Roast Chao Cheese Slices in Coconut Herb; Field Roast Chao Cheese Slices in Tomato Cayenne; Daiya Jalapeno Havarti; Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds; and Sundried Tomato from Miyoko’s Kitchen. Use whatever brands and flavors of vegan cheese you prefer.

In a small pot, I melted 2 tbsp. of Earth Balance margarine and added 2 tbsp. of flour and 2 cups of vegetable broth (I used a bouillon cube to create the broth). I added chili powder, turmeric, and black pepper, set the element to low, and whisked the mixture until it thickened.

The blend of spices and spicy cheeses gave this dish a nice kick. If you don’t like a lot of spice, you can use plain cheeses and less pepper.

broth and spices

When the pasta was ready, I drained it into a colander and poured the broth mixture into the big pot where the pasta was. I added the cheeses and stirred until it was mostly melted. Then I added the pasta back into the post and mixed it up well.

Finally, I scooped the whole thing into a 9′ x 9′ glass casserole dish, sprinkled the bread crumbs over the top, and baked it uncovered on 450 F for 10 minutes.

vegan mac n cheese

I let it cool a bit, covered it up, and took it to Christmas dinner with friends. Everyone loved it–even the non-vegans. One omni even said she would have been fooled if I hadn’t told her it was vegan. A compliment for sure!

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Daiya grilled cheese contest

Do you love a good grilled cheese sandwich? Do you think you have what it takes to make a winning sandwich using dairy-free Daiya cheese?

Daiya just launched their First Annual Daiya Grilled Cheese Cook-Off, and they have a pretty sweet grand prize up for grabs: a one year supply of Daiya, a feature on the Daiya website, and mention in their upcoming digital cookbook.

Daiya

If you’d like to participate, just create your own original grilled cheese sandwich using any Daiya dairy-free cheese alternative and submit your masterpiece to the Daiya here. They’re accepting submissions through May 12, 2014.

Bonus: After the contest closes, I’ll pick someone at random to receive a free coupon for Daiya Shreds, Slices, Wedges or Spreads. All you have to do is comment below or tweet me at @jeaniebellini and tell me why your #daiya grilled cheese is a contender.

Contest is open to US and Canadian residents so get grilling’ and start commenting and tweeting!

Update (May 16th): I used an online tool to randomly generated a name from the comments and the winner of the Daiya coupon is…

Carmen

Carmen, you doubled your odds with that second comment–and it worked! I’ll contact you privately and get the coupon to you.

Nacho time!

Why haven’t I made vegan nachos before? This meal wasn’t even planned, but you can bet I’ll make it again.

I had company last weekend and was left with an abundance of tortilla chips. I “lamented” to a coworker today that I had too many chips. He said, “why not make nachos?” Best idea ever!

vegan nachos

And by a stroke of luck, I had all the ingredients I needed for my 8-layer nachos:

  • Tortilla chips
  • Pico de gallo salsa (mine was store-bought but you can make your own)
  • Daiya vegan cheese shreds
  • Vegan ground “beef” (I used Tofurky Chorizo style)
  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 1 tomato, diced

Place a layer of tortillas on a plate, sprinkle tomatoes over them. Add a layer of ground “beef” and top with Daiya shreds. Add another layer of chips, sprinkle with salsa or pico de gallo, add a layer of ground “beef” and top with Daiya.

Microwave for 1.5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Use avocado as a dip.

I made individual portions, but you could make one platter and serve as a side dish. You could also stick a load of these in the oven and bake them. They’d be perfect for book club or watching the game.

This would be great with other things on it as well, like green peppers or black olives. Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream would be a nice, cool dip.

You can’t go wrong with nachos. Super easy and delicious!

nachos for dinner

Simple tabouli and grilled cheese lunch

Mealtime doesn’t have to be complicated. I don’t always have time to make an elaborate meal–and sometimes I don’t even want one. Simple comfort foods are always welcome.

tabouli and grilled cheese

Grilled cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods. I hadn’t had grilled cheese for several years after going vegan. Then I found vegan slices. Perfect for melting. More recently, I discovered Daiya vegan cheese. It melts really well and is delicious too.

I like my grilled cheese on whole grain–I’m not a carbophobe, but I do value complex, carbs over simple ones. Whole grains have B vitamins, protein, fiber and are really healthy.

In addition to the sandwich, I nibbled on grapes and a hearty tabouli salad. Tabouli is a bulgar and is high in protein and fiber. This one was from a box, complete with parsley and seasonings. I added beans to it for flavor and nutrition.

A meal like this provides a variety of flavors and health benefits and can be made in under 15 minutes.

Do you have any quick and easy vegan meal ideas?

Cheddar beer bread

When I was a university student, I made the easiest bread–but the recipe wasn’t vegan. After going vegan, I missed that bread, but I never thought to veganize it. So imagine my delight when I found a vegan version on the Daiya website.

Here’s what it looks like. Tempted? Read on!

cheddar beer bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 3 tbsp. organic cane sugar
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 bottle of beer, room temperature (341 mL lager or light ale)
  • 2 tbsp. dairy-free margarine, melted

ingredients

First, preheat your oven to 375 F and grease a 9” x 5” loaf pan. This is a good time to melt the margarine.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl and then stir in the cheese. Pour the bottle of beer into the bowl and stir just until batter is moistened. I used Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It’s a vegan beer! Don’t overmix. The batter will be lumpy. That’s okay.

Spread the batter in your loaf pan and pour melted margarine evenly over top.

Bake loaf for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack. Cool completely before slicing.

finished bread

The bread is easy to make, foolproof, and delicious! I ate it with a hearty vegan stew. Perfect for dipping! It’s great on its own too. A yummy snack.

Grits Casserole

When I was in Georgia, I visited the Savannah farmers market, where I bought a bag of grits. Quintessential southern cuisine, I thought. I’d had grits as a kid when I was on a family a road trip through the South. I enjoyed the grits this time too (hubby added salt and margarine, I had mine with agave and a dollop of peanut butter).

grits

The real treat, however, was the recipe for grits casserole that I found on the back of the package. It called for sausage, eggs and two kinds of cheese. I knew I could veganize it. I did, and it was delicious!

The company, Carolina Plantation Rice, carries a lot of great kitchen staples like cornmeal, grits, rice flour and, well, rice. I plan to order some soon. Bonus: They’re a green-certified, renewable-energy company!

My ingredients

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked grits
Half a brick of firm tofu (instead of eggs)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp kala namak (black salt)
2 Field Roast vegan sausages
1/2 cup Daiya vegan Swiss, grated
1 cup Daiya vegan cheddar, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

First I added the cooked grits to a 9″ casserole dish. Then I browned the sausage, broke it up, and added it to the grits.

Field Roast and grits

Next, I drained and crumbled the tofu into a pan and heated it up, while mixing in the turmeric (for flavor and color) and kala namak (for eggy flavor). These last two ingredients weren’t in the original recipe, but it’s what I did to veganize it. Be careful not to overcook the tofu. In theory, it (and the sausage) doesn’t need to be cooked. Field Roast is pre-cooked and tofu is fine in any state. Plus, the whole shebang gets baked anyway.

tofu scramble

Finally, add the Swiss and cheddar, stir, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

grits casserole - before

My husband and I loved this dish! I’m definitely going to make it again soon. It’s almost quiche-like. Next time, I’ll add onion, broccoli and red pepper. And more cheese!

Grits casserole - out of the oven

Have you veganized any recipes lately?

Visiting Vaute Couture

One of the highlights of my New York trip was visiting Vaute Couture, a vegan-owned, compassionate clothier in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Fellow blogger Jesse Anne O lives in Brooklyn, and although it was a hike from her neck of the woods, she met my mom, dad and I at Food Swings, near Vaute. My mom is a blogger too, so it was great for the three of us to compare notes while my dad, patient as always, enjoyed his coffee.

We loved the vegan fast food at Food Swings. It’s a great diner-style establishment with a terrific brunch menu. We chose from sandwiches, burritos and scrambles. They use Daiya vegan cheese in their recipes too. Yum!

Walking from Food Swings to Vaute Couture, we passed Skinny Skinny, an organic, sustainable bath and body store, and Bliss, a vegetarian restaurant down the street. It’s a veg-friendly ‘hood!

brooklyn collage

Seeing Vaute’s flagship store was a thrill! I’ve been a fan for a while and I finally got to be a customer. Owner Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart is a passionate animal advocate and she’s put her heart and soul into creating sustainable, eco-friendly, made-in-New-York clothes that are free of animal products and oh-so stylish. I didn’t buy my wool-free coat this particular day, but I did jump online a week later for the Fall 2013 presale.

I got a Friends not Fashion tank top and a Vaute necklace. Jesse picked up a dress she had preordered. And of course we had to do the obligatory “blogger pose” on our way out. Sure was nice to have our own personal photographer on hand!

three bloggers

Next door to Vaute Couture is Eco Closet, another sustainable shop. I found a gray and black tunic there. and I’ll be blogging about that on my style blog soon.

The four of us enjoyed walking through Williamsburg. We ended up at a flea market, but that’s a story for another day.

walking through Williamsburg