Mac and Cheese

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When I finally conceded defeat to dairy at the start of the year, I thought I would never have a mac and cheese I was satisfied with. I find most commercial non-dairy cheeses to be strange so I don’t eat them. A good friend had brought me a pretty awesome dairy free mac and cheese, but it used white miso paste as a base and that’s a little bit too specialized for me. Out of frustration, I created this version using two simple recipes to create a creamy, rich sauce. I may have used a whole very ripe jalapeno in the tester version, making it a bit too spicy for most people. Oops. Sadly, that means more for me!

Mac and Cheese

Motivation rating: Love for mac and cheese is a really good motivator, no matter how crappy you’re feeling.
Planning rating: Soak cashews overnight. Or if the craving suddenly strikes, boil them instead and you’re on your way.
Salt rating: It’s mac and cheese. Need I say more?

Ingredients:

The cashew sauce base of chip dip (minus onion soup mix and onion powder)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground dry mustard
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 medium Yukon gold potato
1 large carrot, peeled
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 Tbsp tapioca starch (can also use cornstarch, but tapioca gives a bit more stretch)
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
Noodles (I used gluten free elbow noodles)

Optional:
1 jalapeno
Breadcrumbs

 
Step 1: Prepare the cashew sauce base of chip dip, but no need to refrigerate it. I love versatile recipes and finding new uses for things I already make because it allows me to be that much lazier when it comes to food prep. Put a small saucepan with water on to boil, a medium saucepan with water for the noodles on to boil, and preheat oven to 350F. (Quick version: Use the same saucepan you boil the carrot and potato in for the noodles, and skip cooking in the oven as the noodles are ready to eat with the sauce)

Step 2: Mix the dry spices (onion through pepper) into the cashew sauce.

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Spiced cashew sauce

Step 3: Make sauce #2! Give the potato a wash and cut into chunks, no need to peel the skin off. Cut the peeled carrots into chunks roughly the size of the potato chunks. Toss them both into the boiling water until a fork pierces through them easily.

Step 4: Drain the carrot and potato pot, and dump into a blender. Add the milk, lemon juice, tomato paste, starch, yeast, and salt into the blender and mix on medium until smooth. (Optional: cut up the jalapeno and add to blender if you like it spicy)

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Small, personal blenders are a great size for the sauces

Step 5: Mix the two sauces!

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It’s like latte art but more delicious. Plus there’s no caffeine to mess you up.

 

Step 6: Cook the noodles according to the package. Dig the package out of the recycling to make sure it you actually read the cook time right. (Repeat as many times as necessary, until noodles are al dente) 

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Step 6.5: Admire your cheese sauce

Step 7: Mix the noodles and sauce. If you want, eat it right away. If you’re a mac and cheese snob like me, go to step 8.

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Step 8: Put in oven safe-pan and top with breadcrumbs, more seasoning of choice (mine is paprika), and salt. Bake at 350F until top is golden brown (about 30 minutes).

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