Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mac N Cheeze

Cheeze and Co.

Despite the fact that I am not currently partaking in "Vegan-O-Con," there are still times when I see a vegan recipe and think "hot dam! Can this be better than the real deal?"

When I came across Branny's vegan mac and cheese, I knew what was about to go down in le kitchen. GF noodles and some cheeze, all in the name of good, clean fun. To make things extra kosher (wait, this recipe isn't kosher. or is it? what does that entail, exactly?), I added some frozen broccoli florets to please the boy, as well as some tomatoes for all those lycopenes. Lycopenes are bomb.

We ate this mid-April, the same night it snowed 5 miles away from us. YEAH, the frozen rain business that wasn't supposed to show it's face again until next November (at the earliest. You hear me snow?). But you know, this is comfort food through and through, and was content with how it warmed me up despite the 35 degree weather.

For those of you who are like I was and scared of nutritional yeast, don't be. It's perfectly fine to eat, and no one will know you threw fungus in their food unless you tell them (Don't tell them. Maintain your untarnished reputation). I buy mine in the bulk food department at Freddies, and I'm sure you can find it at most other grocery stores. It's cheap, and healthy, and best of all...gluten-free! Go figure.

Mean mug that shadow

Vegan Mac-N-Cheeze Bake
hardly adapted from Branny Boils Over
Makes 1 8x8 Dish

*Despite being ridiculously easy, this is a multi-tasking recipe and requires using your noodle to maneuver these noodles (sorry. I had to). Put the pasta water on to boil before you begin the cheeze sauce so the whole dish comes together roughly the same time.

Cheeze Sauce
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup oat flour
1 T olive oil
2 Tb. minced garlic
1/2 small white onion, diced
pinch dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 tsp. curry spice
3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard

For Everything Else in the Bake:
1/2 pound small noodles
1/2 pound extra firm tofu
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 T olive oil
1 T lemon juice
1 cup frozen broccoli
1/2 cup canned tomatoes

1. (Remember: Noodle water on to high heat for boiling!) In a small bowl whisk together the broth and flour until there are no clumps; preheat oven to 350.

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the garlic and onion up for a couple minutes; add theyme, salt, pepper, turmeric, and curry spiced and stir all together for a brief moment.

3. Add in the broth/flour mixture, nutritional yeast and mustard; turn up heat to medium-high and whisk constantly for a few minutes until it's thick and bubbly and the consistency of melted cheese. When it reaches this texture, take off burner.

4. By this time, your water is either boiling or your noodles are on their way to being cooked. If not, your cheeze sauce will stay warm so no big.

5. Mash the tofu, salt, oil and lemon juice together in your 8x8 dish until it resembles ricotta cheese.

6. Microwave your frozen broccoli and add to the tofu with the tomatoes; mix all together.

7. Now add in the cooked noodles and all put 1/2 cup of the cheeze sauce; combine well and spread evenly in dish.

8. Pour on the reserved 1/2 cup cheeze sauce and place uncovered in the oven for 25 minutes; cool a good 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Itza Pizza!

That's right - deep breath, inhale, ahhhh. 

And yes, there is over 3 different kinds of tomatoes laid out on that pan of glory: jarred (spaghetti sauce), sun-dried, and fresh. Pizza is something my gluten-free main squeeze digs (who doesn't?), and the dish he misses most frequently. I had another pizza crust recipe in mind that requires almond flour, which unfortunately is sold too far away for me to go fetch. So I, knee-deep in a weeknight  pizza-crazed state, pulled out my long-lost Gluten-Free Vegetarian cookbook, and crossed my fingers it had some answers for me.

Then, page 83 came into my life and spot on - cornmeal pizza crust! This can actually be the bottom layer for anything you wish a nice, sturdy foundation on. It came together in about 30 minutes which makes it not only a great idea in general, but especially when you're low on time or near starving. 

Caprese Pizza with Cornmeal Crust
Makes 1  large rectangle pizza

Cornmeal Crust
2 cups course-ground yellow cornmeal
1 cup cold water
1 cup boiling water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper

1/2 cup prepared pasta sauce (we used spicy tomato)
sun-dried tomatoes
1 large, ripe tomato
7 basil leaves
1/2 sliced white onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
more mozzarella cheese

How You Do:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees; lightly spray your baking sheet with oil.

2. In a large boil, mix together cornmeal and the cold water; slowly add in boiling water and whisk together for 3 minutes until it's cooled a little. 

3. Add in eggs, mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper; combine well.

4. Spread the cornmeal mixture into your baking pan and distribute evenly, smoothing out with a spatula; bake in the enter of the oven for about 10 minutes. (It's super fun once you start to see the bubbles start popping up!)

5. While the crust is cooking, get a saute pan heating up over medium heat with garlic, onion, and a little olive oil; saute it all together until cooked (you could even caramelize the onions here if you want - just cook the onions first and add in the garlic the last few minutes.)

6. Spread the pasta sauce over the crust and continue to layer on your tomatoes, basil, onion and garlic mixture and cheese; bake in the oven until cheese has melted and the pizza is bubblin'.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Polenta, Act 1

This is what I've been up to this past month of not blogging. Playing with polenta. Well corn meal, technically, which does a pretty darn good job of turning into polenta.

I've done a polenta-love post before, and this will definitely not be the last. In fact, shortly (read: hopefully less than a month) I will be posting an Act 2, because these are 2 recipes I am dying to share with you.

Corn meal is so easy I almost feel like I'm cheating when I cook with it. I don't know why, I guess I feel like I should be experimenting with gluten-free bread or making vegan pudding or some other things that seem a little too complicated the majority of the time.

Another corn meal trait that makes me want to jump and leap stars? It tastes good with anything. It's a great kitchen-sinker - throw whatever in the pot that you will be throwing away in your garbage tomorrow.

Sans wrapper.

and peel.

and maybe mold.

But anything else that hangs out with your food, yes! Throw it in! The pot wants it!

Mediterranean Polenta Casserole
Makes one 2 quart casserole

2 cups milk
1 3/4 cup cold tap water
2 Tb. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 onion (any kind)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1.5 cups tomato soup
10 spears asparagus, cut into thirds
1 12oz. can tomatoes with juice
1/2 block tofu
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
dash of salt and pepper

Plus, 1/2 cup prepared pesto

1. Spray your casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Bring the milk, water, butter and salt to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.

3. Sprinkle in the cornmeal and continue stirring; reduce heat and let the mixture simmer about 35 minutes until it thickens. You will know the polenta is done when it plops off a spoon and when you scrape the bottom of the pot, the polenta doesn't immediately spill to the empty space.

4. Pour the polenta into your greased casserole dish and put into the fridge for cooling.

5. Now, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and pull out a skillet; begin to saute up the onion and garlic for a few minutes.

6. Once the onions begin to get soft, add in the tomato soup, asparagus, canned tomatoes, tofu, and seasonings; let mixture simmer over medium heat until asparagus begins to soften, about 10 minutes.

7. Once the tomato mix is warmed and done, pull the polenta out of the fridge. Spread the pesto on, and top with the warm tomato mixture.

8. Bake covered in the oven for 15 minutes; uncover and sprinkle with cheese for the last 5.

9. Devour!