Creamy Mac and “Cheese”

I had been craving macaroni and cheese for a while, and this stuff definitely hit the spot. I found the recipe on a blog called Delectably FreeThe blog has a lot of amazing vegan and gluten free recipes. This recipe is extremely easy to make, it just takes a bit of time and you’ll need a slow cooker. I will most definitely be recreating this for holiday potlucks.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of gluten-free pasta (I used rice pasta) (8 oz.)
  • 1 head of broccoli (I used frozen broccoli, but I’m sure fresh would have been better)
  • 2/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsps sesame tahini
  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 3 tbsps Earth Balance
  • 1 1/2 tsps salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper (you can omit this if you prefer your mac and cheese without a kick to it)
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 2 cups water (divided)

Mix it up

  • Add 1 1/2 cups of water to slow cooker
  • Combine all other ingredients except pasta in slow cooker
  • If using frozen, precooked broccoli do not add that yet!
  • Mix well and set cooker to a low setting
  • Allow ingredients to melt, stirring every so often
  • Leave on low setting for 1 hour

Add the pasta

  • Add the pasta and broccoli (if frozen, precooked) to the cheesy mixture
  • Add 1/2 cup water
  • Turn cooker to high setting and allow pasta to cook for 30 minutes
  • Test pasta frequently for doneness
  • Turn cooker off, but keep covered to keep warm when pasta is desired consistency

Serve!

  • Your mac and cheese is ready to eat!
  • You can keep some vegan breadcrumbs on the side to top it off if you want

Cranberry Sauce

This recipe is super quick and easy! It was adapted from a recipe I found online at the Cook’s Country website. It calls for slightly less water than most recipes, so it makes for an amazing consistency in the end.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag cranberries (12 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Boil

  • Combine water, apple cider, sugar, and salt in a medium sauce pan
  • Bring to boil

Simmer

  • Add cranberries and reduce heat
  • Allow to simmer for 5 minutes
  • 2/3 of berries should burst and sauce should thicken

Chill & Serve

  • Remove from heat
  • Allow to chill for at least 1 hour in refrigerator before serving

Happy Thanksgiving!

And thus the fasting began this morning– must save our appetites for the feast tonight! I stayed up late last night finishing another pumpkin pie and a vegan cheese cake. I’ll post the recipe for the cake later on. I also made some homemade cranberry sauce. I was very surprised at how quick and easy it is to make, and at how tasty it turned out. I think I’ll warm some of that up and pour it over the cheesecake before I serve it for dessert.

This morning I made vegan stuffing and started on some slow cooked vegan macaroni and cheese. I’m really excited and about how flexible and generally interested my family is being in regard to my vegan twist on Thanksgiving. All our sides are vegan this year, whether or not I’m making them! I suppose it pays to keep the refrigerator stocked with soy milk and Earth Balance. Hah. Hopefully next year they’ll forget about the bird.

The other day, I showed my 15 year old brother a post from Vegans of Instagram that talked about sponsoring a turkey rather than eating one for Thanksgiving. He laughed a bit, then thought about it and asked, “Why can’t we just do both?” At least he’s thinking about it, that’s more than I can say for myself at his age.

Pumpkin Pie

This recipe was adapted from a recipe I found on vegweb.com. I have made it once before and added a bit of pumpkin seeds to the top. This was the first Thanksgiving pie I made this year. I prepared it a few days in advance and put it in the freezer before baking it. On Wednesday night I’ll take it out to defrost and I’ll bake it Thursday morning. Can’t wait!

Ingredients

  • 1 can pureed pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup of maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 package of silken (or soft) tofu (10-12 oz.) (not the lowfat kind, or else it will taste funny!)
  • 3-4 tbs. cornstarch (very important!)
  • 1 unbaked vegan pie shell (9 in.)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1. Blend it

  • Using a food processor or blender (I’ve tried both and found a food processor works best), blend the pumpkin puree until smooth and creamy
  • Add the tofu and maple syrup and pulse until well mixed
  • Add the cornstarch and pulse again until smooth

2. Spice it up

  • Add the spices and blend until incorporated evenly

3. Bake it

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Pour the blended pumpkin mixture into the pie shell
  • Lift pie shell about 1 inch off the counter and drop a few times to settle the mixture in the crust, don’t do this too hard or you will break your crust
  • Bake the pie for 15 min.
  • Lower heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 60 min.

4. Enjoy!

  • Chill and serve with vegan ice cream

Thankswhat?

I can’t decide if the renaming of the poultry-centered, American holiday of Thanksgiving to Thanksvegan, Thanksliving, or whatever vegans out there are choosing to call it is missing the point. On one hand, I definitely want to redefine the holiday to be perhaps more fittingly associated with a spirit of mindful graciousness and thanks that is meant to be felt during the holiday season. Such a mindfulness, in my opinion, could never be associated with gluttonously consuming another being, as I’m sure other vegans/vegetarians would agree. Despite this, there is something to be said about the sense of familial community and love that one feels when seated around a table waiting to share a big meal. I think I’ve alluded to this before, but eating a plant-based diet can be lonely as hell. And who really wants to be lonely during the holidays? No one. We are constantly reminded that we are SUPPOSED to be sharing time and food and presents during this season (oh, help us…), and no one wants to feel as though they are left out of the festivities. So how can we, as conscious consumers, as plant-based eaters amongst meat-feasters come to terms with this?

My solution is this: Cook good fantastic food. That’s it. This solution is simple, but I have to admit it’s not fully mine. Over a month before this Thanksgiving holiday season got into full swing, I went to a Vegan Meet-Up in Boston in the hope of networking and making some vegan friends (I was feeling particularly lonely after moving back home to a house full of meat eaters). Roberta Kalechofsky was speaking about cooking for “the harvest holiday,” as she calls it, and about her book entitled Thanksvegan: A Vegan Cookbook for the Harvest Holiday. That woman is a hoot. She gave comical anecdotes about her experiences over the years with preparing holiday meals for a “mixed” crowd of dietary preferences and needs. She talked about how she continues to win her guests over time and time again with great food. Her guests don’t ask Roberta whether or not what she prepares for them is vegan, they ask her for the recipe.

This holiday season, I will not be creating my own holiday. I refuse to sit in the corner or leave my family members behind (no matter how much I disagree with their food choices). I will be participating fully in Thanksgiving this year. I will continue to be mindful and it is my hope that this shows. I want to remind my family members about the give thanks part of Thanksgiving, I want to celebrate what I am thankful for with them, while staying true to my morals… And hopefully, my delicious vegan dishes will get them to forget about eating turkey for a while.

I’ll be posting some recipes and anecdotes as I prepare for the ultimate vegan feast this Thursday. Stay tuned.