Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mac and Cheese Casserole

I got lazy for a few days...but I'm back with lots of pictures. The last recipe from Week 2 of Vegan Cooking for One was Piquant Chickpea Spread. Chickpeas, cumin, coriander, soy yogurt and Tabasco sauce...all mashed together and served on rolls or in pita. Watch the Tabasco on this one...I accidentally made mine extra piquant ;) Not bad...I still prefer chickpeas mashed with Vegenaise though.

Next thing I made: Black bean and lentil salad from La Dolce Vegan. I don't like bean salads usually. I find they're boring or just not tasty enough to keep eating. Sarah Kramer writes something similar in the book. But this salad is delish! It is very flavourful. And pretty. Its another "Wolffie Winner". Black beans, lentils, corn, red onion, red pepper, and a lovely oil and vinegar dressing. I love love love the colours in this salad. It would be perfect for a picnic or potluck. You could have it as a meal with a side or as a side, or as a quick and easy lunch.

I made a few things from Vegan with a Vengeance. Two of the recipes being for cookies. Billy approves of both so far, which makes the book worth buying already ;). I made the gigantoid crunchy peanut butter oatmeal cookies (or something to that effect) and the chocolate thumbprints (which I'll post tomorrow). The pb oatmeal cookies were huge! and so chewy and awesome. If you make these, get yourself a big glass of soymilk to up the perfection of this snack. I also threw in a few chocolate chips, which were great. I'll definitely add the chips next time too. For me, chocolate makes everything better. Yes, there is a big bite taken out of one of the cookies...the cookie monster snuck into the kitchen. Word of caution: these are the kind of cookies that don't seem done at all when they actually are. Take them out after the specified cooking time and just let them sit, they really do firm up. Some of mine burned at the edges because I thought they weren't cooked at all!

I had some food sitting in the fridge that had to be used up. So, using VwaV's Tofu Scramble as inspiration I threw together a breakfast dinner before work. Tofu scrambled with collards, tomato, carrot, mushrooms, onion, and garlic with seasoning (turmeric, paprika, cumin, salt) and nutritional yeast. It ended up being more veggie than tofu, but it was a good, quick, nutritious meal to fuel me up before work. I served it with some cauliflower and cinnamon raisin muffins.

I was browsing through a "magazine" that Kraft sent to my mom. It had a bunch of recipes using their products, of course. I decided to veganize some, just to get back at 'em, and because they looked yummy. The first one I experimented with was the "Cheesy Mac-topped Casserole". It is now Melissa's mac'n'cheese casserole ;). Here's how I veganized it:

I made the macaroni and cheese recipe from La Dolce Vegan (you can also use your own recipe or one from another source). I would use about one and a half cups of uncooked macaroni to use on the casserole.

The rest of the ingredients are:
1 pkg. ground round (I used President's Choice)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1 can (19 oz.) Aylmer Accents Petite Cut Tomatoes with Garlic and Olive Oil, undrained
2 cups frozen green beans, thawed, drained
1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese ( I used Earth Island's Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare the mac and cheese. Meanwhile, cook the ground round with the garlic and oregano in a large nonstick skillet for 3-4 minutes. Add tomatoes with their liquid and the beans; mix well.

Spoon meat mixture into 13x9-inch baking dish; top evenly with prepared mac and cheese. Cover with foil.

Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through and bubbling. Remove from oven; uncover. Sprinkled shredded cheese over top. Put back in oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

Makes 6 servings.
You can make this ahead of time by assembling the casserole (without shredded cheese) and covering for up to 24 hours. When ready to serve, bake at 375 F for 40-45 minutes or til heated through. Continue as directed.

This is my first attempt at making my own recipe, so I wasn't expecting any miracles. I found it was okay, but the flavour improved the next day as leftovers. Billy said it needed more seasoning, possibly some chili powder or something. But I'm not *that* creative yet, haha. All in all, I'd rather just eat the delicious mac and cheese on its own, but I think this casserole is well rounded, with whole wheat pasta, protein and nutrients from the fortified ground round and veggies from the tomatoes and green beans. Plus the awesomeness of the cheese :P. It was pretty easy to make. I can see myself making this ahead of time on a weekend during the school year and just baking it on Sunday or Monday. The leftovers would last me almost through the week.

I'm sure many of you awesome cooks out there can think of some variations and improvements...which I'd really like to hear about if you do!

Well this post was a long time in the making, but I finally got through it. Tomorrow I'll post the cookies and cake and waffles I made and will be making from VwaV.


KleoPatra said...

Holy veganoli! Everything, and i mean EVERY THING looks soooo good!!! I must try the chickpea spread you made... Wow. I'm drooling at pretty much this entire post. Nice!

Anonymous said...

You have been busy! I'm going to have to try those cookies.
I agree, bean salads can be boring. But, I like how easy they are to prepare, that I always have the ingredients on hand, and that they pack a nutritional punch!

Sweet Pea said...

I get that Kraft magazine and it's all comfort food -- fattening and not so nutritious. However, I will use it for inspiration for my vegetarian meals. It's great that you veganized the mac 'n cheese. It looks delish.

yardsale said...

Food looks yummy, as always, Sudzy.

Spice-wise, I think Billy is right -- considering the cheesey mac and tomatoey "beef" combo, I'd spice the beef part with some southwestern seasonings: chili powder, cumin, cilantro (plus some salt and pepper). I might even switch the green beans for a combo of green, yellow, and red peppers and some onion to really play up the "chili"ishness of it.

You've become a cooking goddess, Sudzy, so don't be afraid to experiment with flavors! Rule of thumb: if the dish tastes bland before going into the oven, it's going to taste hot and bland coming out.

So when you're cooking up the ground "beef," take a taste. See what flavorings you think would compliment it and toss them in. If you're worried it won't go well with the mac half, do a taste test -- in a small bowl, place a bit of mac and a bit of beef, add the flavorings, and see how it tastes. If you like it, go to. If you don't, try something else. Pretty soon you'll know how well it will match/what it will taste like without having to even test it out.

And yes, before you chide me, "chili"ishness is indeed a real word. So saith my Webster's Dictionary of American Nonsense.

Melissa said...

Thanks everyone!

Yardsale, you're right. I got a big "Ooooo" from Billy about making it more like chili...haha. I think I will experiment a bit with it.

No complaints on tonight's dinner though. Pizza nachos!

Carrie™ said...

That really is a comfort dish. I get that Kraft magazine too and sweet pea is right. Mostly junky sort of stuff, but it does give some good ideas now and again.
And from someone who does like bean salads, your photo looks marvelous! Another must try from LDV.

VeganDoc said...

That all looks awesome, Melissa, especially the mac n cheese. Does the La Dolce Vegan mac n cheese recipe use nutritional yeast?

Melissa said...

vegandoc...no it doesn't. It uses block cheese. I'm sure you could make it with a nutritional yeast sauce though. I've tried a few recipes here and there.

sarchan said...

I <3 scrambled tofu! And I love your picture of the cookies (minus one big bite)--that made me laugh. Just wondering how does the La Dolce Vegan mac n' cheeze recipe compare to others (and "real" mac n' cheese); I'm wondering, because I still really haven't found a vegan macaroni and cheese recipe that I really like yet.

Melissa said...

sarchan, well I haven't made any other recipes from other books with fake cheese. But its the best of all the vegan mac and cheese I've made. I used to make it with nutritional yeast, but this recipe is so yummy. Even though I can't compare it to other "cheese" using recipes, I've made it over 5 times, that should tell you something ;)

It doesn't taste like KD, but maybe that's because its lacking in chemicals, haha.

raising_kahne said...

Thie looks so yummy. I can seem to master the chick pea salad mix good. Everytime I make it, it taste weird, but I think that might be because of too much Nayonaise, I think I should try vegenaise. Those cookies look so delicious! Hmm...That "cookie monster" sure did take a big bite! haha

Poppy said...

I am all for spiciness and would use a can of Rotel tomatoes(They do have it in mild)instead of the plain kind.

raising_kahne said...

Where did you get the recipe for the cinnamon raisin muffins? Because they look(and sound) delish! I would LOVE to make those!

Melissa said...

The recipe is from Table for Two by Joanne Stepaniak.

raising_kahne said...

Oh ok thanks! Im going to have to check out that book!