The October Sunrise & Operation HotDish

Caribbean Vegan Ham Balls!!!!

See these balls to the left? They’re the delicious, steamed ham-style seitan recipe from Taymer Mason’s Caribbean Vegan cookbook. They’re smoky, they’re sweet, they’re spicy (how could I not add a big pinch of cayenne?) they’re chewy, and they were diced and pan-fried as part of an entirely inappropriately named October Sunrise casserole at Saturday’s Operation HotDish. I can justify the namesake because who doesn’t want to eat sun-colored macaroni and cheese on a gloomy fall day? Come on.

The main components of this crazy indulgent casserole at the crazy packed potluck and competition were wagon wheels smothered with 3 different cheesy sauces.  I based the primary cheesy element on this recipe for Who Cares Vegan Mac and Cheese (which has two separate sauces!!) from the 2009 SF Mac Battle Royal with Cheese, which seems to be based on the VegNews nooch-less creation. And because this layer sat in the fridge overnight and was looking a little dry, I spooned a batch of garlickly nutritional roux sauce on top of it before layering it up some more.

Here’s the breakdown of the October Sunrise Casserole:

  • Lightly oiled casserole pan
  • Layer of cooked hash browns
  • Diced vegan ham
  • Massive layer of wagon wheels & cheese > with chopped broccoli!
  • Layer of cooked hash browns
  • More and more diced vegan ham
  • Super sprinkling of breadcrumbs, nutritional  yeast and Hungarian Half-Sharp Paprika

Pre-baked October Sunrise

  • Lightly sprayed with oil & baked at 350F for 35 minutes

Ready to go: October Sunrise Casserole

I’ll admit, I didn’t try any casseroles, but I did bring an empty casserole dish home, which was totally my goal.

Thank you to everyone who came out and ‘sold out’ this event within minutes!

Here’s a couple of pics my friend and fellow VIC volunteer, Stephanie, took at the event:

Live Casseroling!

The Winners & Judges!

P.S. If you’re constantly on the search for great vegan mac & cheese creations and recipes like me, you must check out The Noochy Noodle. Trust me.

P.P.S. My long-term favorite remains this lower-fat version of The New Farm recipe.

A Day in the Life: My Favorite Vegan Mac & Cheese remains the New Farm

This falls into my MoFo theme as an immediate result of yesterday’s post and the failed intention to make some for dinner last night. I did my part, supported my own economy, and did that leftovers thing.

New Farm Style Comforty Gluten Free Mac & Cheeze

I’ve been posting variations on the classic, but very, very rich New Farm Mac & Cheese for a long time. It’s one of those classic cookbooks that vegans don’t seem to mention anymore, and simply a recipe that I’ve added to – It’s by no means mine. Long live New Farm! My favorite variation is below. It’s gluten-free and adds a tint of green with chopped broccoli into the mix. I feel as though the gluten-free spirals hold up best after baking, and aren’t as heavy, or soggy, come leftover time. I’ve updated the recipe to have the right noodle ratio!

New Farm-Style, Comforty, Gluten Free Mac & Cheese

Makes: 4-6 servings (easily doubled)

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces.of uncooked rice spirals
  • 3 tablespoons of vegan margarine
  • 2-3 tablespoons of minced garlic
    • Or, 1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
  • ½ cup chickpea flour, or other gluten-free flour(s)
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ cup nondairy milk
    • Nut milks are encouraged for creaminess
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Generous dash of freshly ground black pepper or white pepper
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon or hot or sweet paprika (use common sense with your tastebuds here)
  • 2 tablespoons of wheat-free tamari
    • Or, if gluten-free is not a requirement, soy sauce or shoyu, etc.
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 ¼ cups of nutritional yeast

Consider:

  • 1 cup of gluten-free breadcrumbs for topping
    • Or, a combination of ground nuts and breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup of rinsed and chopped broccoli
  • ¼ cup vegan pesto
  • 1 tablespoon miso – I just may find it impossible to make noochy dishes without it
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini – for that vegan ‘aged’ taste
  • Cajun style: add a generous pinch of crushed red pepper, 1 tablespoon of Cajun spices, 1-2 tablespoons of hot sauce, and 1 teaspoon of liquid smoke when you add the liquids.

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350Fº. Lightly grease an 8×8 casserole dish.
  2. Boil and drain the noodles – save water for the sauce, if you’re that clever. Toss with a very small amount of oil or margarine. You know the drill – and you can easily do this as you cook the sauce, as well.
  3. Melt the margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Toss in the garlic, stir, and cook for 2 minutes, being careful not to burn.
  4. Beat in the flour with a whisk, making a roux. Stir for one minute. Lower the heat if needed. It may clump, and that’s okay, just proceed quickly to the next step and don’t burn anything!
  5. Stir in the liquids, nutritional yeast, sea salt, tamari, garlic powder if using, turmeric, pepper, paprika, optional ingredients, and any other spices you want (Cajun spices, onion powder, oregano, thyme, chili powder, whatever).
  6. Stir for another minute or two until the sauce starts to thicken. Whisk in the oil and the nutritional yeast.
  7. Add at least half of the sauce to your cooked noodles and broccoli*, if using, in the casserole dish. Carefully spread in the rest of the sauce, optional toppings, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden (or, however you interpret orange to brown…)
  8. Broil for an additional 5 minutes, if desired.
  9. Cool for at least 10 minutes, and serve.
*Broccoli note: I don’t precook mine, but you can add it to the last couple minutes of boiling time, if you’re so inclined.
Karla or anyone else – if I’m utterly crazy with this pasta:sauce ratio, please let me know! We’ll boil water together and stuff.

A Day in the Life of Leftovers: Yellow Curry and Favorites

Yesterday’s ginger-riffic take out from Just Thai for lunch really hit the spot. The mellow yellow, (had to be said) brothy curry, chewy cubes of fried tofu and cutely ridged vegetables over steamed rice was super decently priced, quickly prepared, and with a drizzle of Srichacha, was just what my still-dulled-from-sickness taste-buds wanted. As you can see, even before I sat down for a single lunch, the leftovers were incredibly generous. I had the second round today, and there’s 2 more to go.

I’ve never been a big fan of leftovers. Growing up, my family rarely ate casseroles. Green bean what? The closest things in my memories were homemade Italian pasta dishes, and being picky, I didn’t eat most of them.  Nowadays, in my trying-to-be-a-grown-up years, busy life, and an always-cheap-at-heart mindset, I’m better behaved. I just like making something new so much! I’m well versed in what restaurants, and more likely, food carts, offer meals that will yield leftovers for at least a day, and I do take my leftovers from home to work. I mean, I have a rule where I HAVE TO LEAVE the building I work in for AT LEAST A WALK on my lunch hour, because I’m sane –  and I’m usually wary of the microwave and the smell of defrosted frozen meals of death – but I return and eat my lunch more often than not.  It’s actually refreshing when a couple of weeks go by and I realize I haven’t spent additional money on lunch.

I’ll admit that I’m just as likely to make dishes for the week with different components that can be assembled, such as noodle or grain bowls. I live alone, and again, don’t love leftovers, but I’m here to talk about casseroles*, not what homemade vermicelli bowl sauces have spilled in my purse.

Here are some of my favorite meals that yield more than a day’s worth of worthwhile leftovers.

Homemade Leftovers to Look Forward To:

  • New Farm-style, Gluten Free Mac and Cheese with Broccoli – will be posting an updated recipe for this tomorrow. Traditional Mac & Cheese was something else I never ate until college, strangely enough.
  • Sweet Potato Pie Casserole - I don’t make this every holiday season anymore, but it’s the essential dish attached to Thanks, Mom.
  • Lasagna. It’s been forever since I’ve made one. Therefore, the next time I’m invited to a social outing, I’m bringing one.
  • Tomato, Rice, Roasted Garlic and Navy Bean Soup from Veganomicon - one of the soups I’ve made the most in the past few years, since the ‘ole testing days.
  • Persian Eggplant Stew – a new one to my repertoire this past year that is just as soul-warming the next day, just like a stew should be.
  • Curry Roasted Vegetables – cube your protein, roast, add chopped vegetables, roast some more, add broth/curry paste/peanut butter/spices, etc., roast a bit more, serve over grains. Tah dah.
  • Tempeh Bacon: not so much of a dish, but the easiest of the baked proteins to just throw into everything: sandwiches, salads, wraps, smokey greens, etc. In most recipes it’s pan-fried, but I tend to bake it now.
  • Stuffed Mushrooms. I make these the most often for potlucks, stuffed with nuts and wine and herbs and goodness and whenever I do, I think, “Why the hell don’t I have these around more often?”
  • Chili: and it’s nearly always a variation of Tempeh Chili Con Frijoles or Seitan Chili Sin Carne Al Mole in my kitchen – even when I start out with another recipe.
  • Basil Fried Rice. Leftover rice? Acquire basil. Add garlic, veggie, sesame oil and pepper. Rice pudding is even easier, but this is my go-to path.
  • Refried Beans. Because with beans, which you really should be cooking on a regular basis anyway, you have the options of tacos, burritos, nachos, dips, beans bowls with sauce, etc.  Again, eat your beanz!

*Speaking of casseroles, the Vegan Iron Chef group in Portland is in the beginning stages of putting together the warmest, more comforting competition ever this winter – The Great Vegan Casserole Off! (a better name is perhaps, in the works)