No-Cheese Cheezy Sauce

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No-cheese cheezy sauce turned into nacho cheeze sauce

Welcome  to Vegan Mami’s Good Food Kitchen. This past weekend my grandsons came over to visit, and what a fun visit it was! Both boys are growing so fast and always playing so hard! Along with growing and using up their energy stores they bought with them their ever increasing appetites. One of their very favorite meals is macaroni and cheese. You know the kind, the one that comes in a box and has a very creamy, rich sauce.

Because I don’t have boxes of mac-n-cheese in my pantry or cheese in my refrigerator to make it from scratch, I decided to try a no-cheese sauce for them and see if I could get them to eat it and hopefully enjoy it. The following is the recipe I like to use when I want to make a sauce that is easy to put together, cheezy, versatile and  is healthier than loading cheese and butter into a recipe.

No-Cheese Cheezy Sauce

  • 2 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks
  • 2 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled. Or use powdered turmeric, 1/2 tsp.
  • 1 large onion, or 2 small, peeled and chopped into quarters

put all ingredients listed above into a medium saucepan and fill with water until all vegetables are covered. Put pan on burner over high heat until water begins to boil. Turn heat to medium and cook until veggies are fork tender.

With a slotted spoon, put all veggies in a blender, or food processor, with no more than 1/4 cup of cooking liquid. Add 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast, and 1/2 tsp. ground yellow mustard. Carefully blend veggies until a smooth sauce develops. It will take about 30 to 45 seconds.

At this point you can add more of the cooking water if you think the sauce is too thick. Add salt and white pepper to your taste, and if you want a cheezier flavor, add more nutritional yeast, but only add in 1 tablespoon at a time and taste to see if the flavor is  where you want it. You should have approximately 3 cups.

To make macaroni and no-cheeze, cook your favorite pasta shape and put into a bowl, and spoon a bit of sauce over all and mix well. Very good, and very satisfying. Both boys enjoyed it and asked for seconds.

You can enjoy this sauce as a dip for your oven baked potatoes, and you will have a low fat and low sodium snack or side dish. Or you can ladle the sauce generously over a hot, steamed cauliflower sprinkled with bread crumbs, and enjoy a decadent dish!

Or, you can do as I did this afternoon, and bake your own corn chips by cutting corn tortillas into four wedges, baking them in a 425 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until they become golden brown and toasty. Remove from oven and set on serving plate. Take some leftover No-cheese sauce and stir in some chili powder seasoning, cumin, smoked paprika and a couple shots of your favorite hot sauce, all to your taste. You can add tomato salsa or black olives or chopped green or red onions, depending on what you like and what you have on hand. Mix all together and warm the sauce in microwave or in a pan on the stove. and voila! Your have just made a healthier alternative to Tortilla chips and Nacho Cheese sauce!

Enjoy! Thank you for stopping by, I hope all your meals are tasty, nourishing and healthy  and your heart is filled with love.

A Totally Cheezy Experiment

I’ve been researching my cookbooks,various recipe websites on line, and watching endless You-Tube presenters, trying to find and comparing recipes for a fairly low fat, easy and delicious, cheese- type sauce.  And all recipes I found were pretty similar and also appeared as if they all used a similar technique. It really blew my mind at how easy a vegan cheese sauce could be. All I could wonder was, could it really be that good? And if it was good, perhaps it would be nothing like a cheese sauce, but more like a white sauce. This idea seemed to logically make more sense to me. But where was the flour and  butter to make a roux, or the cornstarch slurry or arrowroot slurry? Could it really be that easy and also taste good?

Well. I was surprised.

To start with,I soaked 1/2 cup raw cashews in a container with plenty of water to cover. I let the cashews soak for one hour while I was preparing everything else.

In a medium saucepan, I put 3 cups water, 1 small to medium potato, peeled and chopped, 1/2 onion, peeled and chopped, 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped, 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped, 4 cloves garlic, salt and pepper. I let this cook until all veggies were soft, then set aside to cool a bit before blending in a blender.

After an hour, I poured the pan of veggies and all its water into my blender. I then drained the cashews and put them in the blender with the veggies. Also to this mixture I added a pinch of cayenne pepper, a pinch more of salt, and 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast, and then let the mixture whir away in the blender. At first I thought, this is strange, how can this be? But I stayed with it and begun to see a change in the texture of the sauce. I stopped the blender and tentatively lifted the lid to check out the consistency of the contents. I’ll be darned if it didn’t look like a cheese sauce. Then I tasted it. Gingerly, at first, but wait a minute… Wow! That was good! Texture was silky and amazing and the taste was very delicious. And it would pass as a cheese sauce!

I immediately steamed a head of purple cauliflower which I had in my refrigerator waiting for me to get inspired as to how I was going to serve it. I presented the cauliflower in a large bowl then poured the cheese sauce over the entire head, it was beautiful. And it tasted even better!

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Purple Cauliflower with Vegan Cheeze Sauce

But wait, I thought, I can pretty it up with a sprinkling of a few seasoned bread crumbs:

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Picture Ready!

And then I thought, Why not add taco sauce, hot sauce and more nutritional yeast? I gave a sample to my husband and he was very impressed. I  told him it was queso sauce and gave him tortilla chips with it. He said it was very good, and ate the entire serving I gave him. He also liked the cauliflower with cheese sauce and was surprised when I told him how I had made the sauce, and how easy it was to vary the sauce, to get a different flavor spin.

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And for my last experiment using the cheese sauce, I thought I would put it with a lasagna. The stuffing of the lasagna was made with a tofu spinach blend, which consisted of tofu and spinach, of course, and bread crumbs,nutritional yeast, italian seasoning and smashed garlic cloves sauteed with chopped onions and chopped red peppers, and then seasoned with salt and pepper.

I layered the cooked lasagna noodles with the tofu spinach mixture, the cheese sauce, noodle, tofu spinach mixture, red sauce and continuing on until all ingredients were used. I think I had four layers of noodles. I baked the dish for one hour and then let it sit for half an hour. And, another surprise! It was very hearty, and very good. Not to be confused for a luscious Italian lasagna laden with ricotta and parm and all the other cheesy tastes, but it was a good meal. Filling and warmly comforting, with a robust flavor. Yes. It was a very good lasagna. But just not a great lasagna. But then again, I never was a fantastic lasagna cook. I will have to keep at it to see if I can come up with one that is better.

Next time I do a cheese sauce, I will try it without the cashews and see how it does.Even though I only used half a cup of cashews in the entire batch- and the batch made about four and a half cups- I would like to make a cheese sauce with no fat added. I have seen recipes that do not use nuts, everything else was pretty much the same, so maybe that will also be possible, and hopefully I will be just as surprised.

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My Lasagna( non-Italian)

So, all in all, I was pleased with learning this new technique.It opened up another avenue of learing how to make sauces to serve with meals when you need that extra something for flavor, but you just don’t want to add alot of calories or fat in the form of dairy products and processed prepackaged sauces.

Thank you for reading my post, and let me know if you’ve had similar experiences discovering something new!

Till next time, take care of yourself and your family, feed them and yourself, well!

 

Mushroom Spinach Stew over Baked Potato

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Mushroom Spinach Stew over Baked Potato

 

Yesterday, when I punched out for the day from work, I knew I wanted to make my husband and I something hot and filling for supper. We needed a change from the rice and beans we have been having lately, even though the recipes we’ve been coming up with have been so, so, so, GOOD!  Spinach and mushrooms kept popping up in my mind, and naturally a warm,fluffy, perfectly baked russet potato kept inserting itself  into the equation.

So, I stopped into the grocery store to buy fresh baby spinach, white button mushrooms, and two of the biggest, handsomest russet potatoes I had ever seen in my life…maybe they just looked sooo good because I was truly hungry! How I escaped the grocery store without buying half of the store is still a mystery to me, because everyone knows you should never shop while hungry. And I know better from experience. Hahaha.

Once home, I preheated oven to 350 F, and placed my well scrubbed russet beauties in the oven on top of my pizza stone, and let them roast lazily as I prepared the stew.2016-01-03 14.08.16I prepped veggies next. Chopping 1/2 large white onion, 2 large cloves garlic,12 oz. White button mushrooms and 8 oz washed spinach. I measured out 1 cup frozen green peas.

Next I sautéed the onions and garlic in a couple teaspoons of water (to keep the fat low), in my favorite soup pot. Then added the sliced mushrooms to the pot and let them saute until they released their delicious mushroom juice. At that point I added2016-01-03 14.15.15.jpg2 cups of unsweetened almond milk, 1 cup of low salt mushroom stock, 1 tsp thyme, a pinch of nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. I let it all come to a boil, then turned the pot down to low and let it simmer covered, for 25 minutes. Then I added the spinach and peas to the pot, and bought the stew back up to a boil.2016-01-03 14.10.59.jpgThen I tasted the stew for seasoning, adding more of anything I might think it would need…it tasted perfect…well…maybe it needed just a touch more salt.

For the finish of the stew, I dissolved 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder with 4 tablespoons cold water and stirred it into the stew, until the stew thickened. If I had wanted a thicker sauce-like stew, I could have added more arrowroot slurry; but I was happy with the way it was.

I sliced open the baked potatoes and layed them in a shallow bowl and then ladled the stew over them. So sublime! So warm and filling! So very delicious!

Once again, I find my food philosophy to be so true. The simplest and most basic preparations can be the most satisfying and most delicious! And it’s a bonus that it happened to be nutritious too!