Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday & Cheesy Casserole Recipe

Happy Wednesday everyone! Hope you had a good Valentine's Day yesterday, or as Brandon and I like to call it in a boycotting-kind of way, "Heart Day". We know someone who sure enjoyed it...

Celebrating her first Valentine's Day.


Onto today's gluten-free, vegan food...which is linked up to the blog, Peas & Crayons.  Curious what other's are eating this Wednesday, check it out here where dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of bloggers all meet up once a week to post our eats for the day. The link up is a great way to find new blogs, discover new recipes, and see that your not the only one who eats the same thing nearly every day (he he!).

Now on with my food for the day:


5:00 AM Just woke-up snack: Rice Chex cereal with
SO Delicious Sugar-Free Vanilla Coconut Milk

Workout:  1 hour of yoga, 2 episodes of Namaste Yoga...my favorite yoga series of all time that I blogged about here.



7:30 AM Breakfast:
 "Chocolate Ice Cream Smoothie"

Want to know what makes it so much like ice cream?
The frozen bananas! I have something called a "banana bank"
where I keep banana halves in a glass container (with no lid)
in my freezer. Main rule of the banana bank: if you make a
withdraw, you must make a deposit (aka... refill it!).


9:15 AM First Morning Snack: Peanut Butter Chocolate
Chip Larabar...tastes like a Snickers bar to me!


10:30 AM 2nd Morning snack: Gluten-free, vegan pancakes
 from Cinnamon Quill with Maple Agave Nectar.

11:30 3rd Morning Snack: 1 banana

12:15 Lunch: Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew...awesome
combo of flavors, veggies, and even beans!
2:15 Afternoon snack: "Melty Pizza Hummus" with
organic corn tortilla chips from Chocolate-Covered Katie.
This stuff is amazing! My husband loves it, parents love it,
brothers love it...and clearly I love it! You've got to try it.


5:30 Just-got-home snack: "Chocolate Vanilla Smoothie": vanilla
coconut milk, Chocolate Sun Warrior Rice Protein Powder,
Spinach, 1 1/2 frozen bananas, 3 frozen strawberries.


7:15 Dinner: "Cheesy Casserole" with rice, tofu, broccoli,
carrots, and potatoes. See the recipe below!
Dessert: "Chocolate Mousse Frosting" from Chocolate-Covered Katie

Onto that "Cheesy Casserole" recipe...
This is one recipe that Brandon and I have loved for years. It reminds me of those cheesy, rich, and warming casseroles I enjoyed in my pre-vegan days.  Ahhh...cheese. I bet cheese is one of the main reasons why so many people feel they could not make the switch to going vegan. I get ya'.  There's times I wish I could go to a restaurant and order a yummy, cheesy dish, but I can't. Luckily, I've got recipes like this one that remind me of  regular old cheese, only this time no animals were needed to make it. Sorry shameless, vegan plug there.

Moving on, I love to take this casserole to holiday gatherings because it hits the spot, just like all the non-vegan food would. The only downside to this recipe is that it takes a bit longer than most recipes to prepare. No worries though, I've cut corners, multi-tasked steps, and streamlined the preparations to help save you time.  My tip: try making it on the weekend when you've got more time to do all the prep.  Even better, do it in stages. Cook the rice one day. Chop the veggies another. Press the tofu overnight. You get the point. Once you taste this, you'll want to make time for it. I know I do. Now enough jabbering, let's get on with the recipe!

Cheesy Casserole

Modified from "Cheezy Casserole" from Skinny Bitch in the Kitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

Casserole Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups dry short grain brown rice  
  • 1 pkg. of extra firm tofu
  • 1 small red onion or 1/2 a large red onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 4 small russet or red potatoes (or 3 large)
  • 1 broccoli crown
  • 1/2 cup cashews (optional for topping)
"Cheese" Ingredients
  • 1 pkg. Daiya cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups rice milk or other milk alternative
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. You'll need a 3 quart casserole dish (mine is 9.25 x 13.25).

The casserole ingredient group-shot.






1. Press your tofu. I use (and love) my TofuXpress. It' makes
pressing tofu a breeze! I'll usually press the tofu
overnight, but sometimes I forget so just a few hours works too.

Once you assemble the press, it looks like this. This will help
get all the extra water out of it to make it even more firm.

2. Cook your rice. I use a rice cooker and it takes 1 1/2 cups of
rice with 3 cups of water. You can also make this on the stove.
Here's what mine looks like once it's done cooking.

3. Peel and chop the potatoes into bite-size pieces. 


4.  Boil water in a large stock pot. Once boiling, add the
potatoes and cook until mostly soft...10 minutes or so.

5. While the potatoes are boiling chop the carrots into "coins".


6. Next, chop the broccoli and onion into bite-size pieces.

7.  Once the potatoes are mostly soft, scoop them
out with a strainer or slotted spoon into a large mixing bowl
with a napkin at the bottom (to absorb the extra liquid).


8. Now add the broccoli, carrots and onions to the boiling water and
let them boil for about 3-5 minutes. Then remove them in
the same way you did the carrots and potatoes and
add to the large mixing bowl.


Time to make the cheese!

Cheese Ingredient group shot

9. In a  saucepan turn the heat to medium and add 1/4 cup
coconut oil, and allow to melt. Then add 1/4 cup brown rice flour
to the oil and whisk constantly so it won't burn.

10. Now add the 2 cups of rice milk and crank up the heat
until it starts to simmer.

11. When you start to see bubbles, lower the heat,
and then add the entire package of cheddar
Daiya cheese and stir it in. I also add 1 tsp. of salt and 1
shake of pepper at this point to the cheese.


12. When you first put it in, it will look clumpy like this.


14. Keep stirring it until it looks more creamy like this.

Time to bring it all together...

15. Now add the cooked rice, about 3 cups total, to the big
bowl.  Feel free to use more or less if you want. Be
sure you've pulled out the napkin that was at the bottom
of the bowl from earlier!

16. Now add the cheese and stir...don't add the tofu just yet.

17. Remember that good ol' tofu that was pressing? Time to get
it out and pour the extra water out of it.
Next chop the tofu into bite-size pieces, as big or as small
as you would like. I go with small rectangles.

18. Once your veggies and rice get all coated with cheese,
then add the tofu and stir carefully. I like my tofu to retain
it's shape a bit so if I stir it too much I end up with small tofu
crumbs.

19. Now pour the mixture from the bowl into a greased 3 Qt.
casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.


20. While the casserole is cooking, food process or finely
chop 1/2 cup of cashews to add as a topping (optional).


21. Take the casserole out after 30 minutes, sprinkle the
cashew crumbs on top and bake for 10 more minutes.

Then let the casserole cool and enjoy this filling, veggie-
loaded, "hits the spot" casserole.


Do you have any favorite vegan casseroles that you love? Share about them below...I sure love a good casserole and would love to try some new ones.

Happy WIAW! See you next week.

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