Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Herby Tomato Mac n Cheeze Pleaze

Have you ever had one of those days where you come home from work and your brain is just completely fizzled out?  Yeah, that happened to me yesterday.  All throughout the day I had grandiose visions of pumpkin risotto, but then I couldn't think what protein to put with it.  Then I thought I'd make the pumpkin ziti thing from Vcon, but the second I looked at the recipe, my mind went blank.  So I looked at other recipes...same thing happened.  Nothing looked good.  And I was getting cranky.

I attribute this to the fact that I skipped breakfast and my afternoon snack.  Wasn't in the mood for breakfast...ate a decent sized lunch.  Then came home and went for a nice longish walk, and by the time I realized I was starving, I felt it was too late to snack and not ruin my dinner.  And when I don't eat enough during the day, I am the crankiest, crabbiest, unhappy girl ever.  I get this trait from my dad.  Thanks, Dad!  It's ok though, I just have to remember to eat often.  Which I failed at miserably yesterday.  

I knew I wanted something comforting.  Pasta is sounding good at this point.  I also knew I needed something that would be good without a recipe, as my brain was turned off.  Pasta keeps sounding better and better.  So off I traipsed into the kitchen to create something probably even more complicated than any recipe I had looked at that evening, but by my own rules, so whatever.  I give you: Herby Tomato Mac N Cheeze.
i started to get all into it and made garlic bread crumbs to go on top

I can give you a recipe here, if you want.  It was mostly me just pouring crap into a pot and hoping for the best, though.  Ok, fine.  I'll type it out.


1 box whole wheat pasta (short and chunky..i used rotini)
1 cup TVP, soaked in a 'beef' broth for about 10 minutes (you could use crumblers of some type here, but i was out)
2 cans condensed tomato soup
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup of some sort of cheezy sauce (whatever is your favorite)
2 Tbsp vegan sour cream
couple handfuls of fresh spinach
1 shallot, thinly sliced
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 heaping Tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried sage

for breadcrumbs:
4 slices whole wheat bread
cooking spray
garlic powder

(see?  that's a lot of stuff, for me just throwing crap into a pot.)  Anyway, cook the pasta and drain it, and preheat the oven to 375F.  While you're doing that, saute the scallions, garlic, and shallot in some olive oil (med-low heat).  Once they start to smell nice, throw in the fresh herbs and cook for another minute.  Then toss in the diced tomatoes.  Cook until they don't smell like canned diced tomatoes any longer (about 3-5 minutes).  Add spinach, cook until wilted (like 30 seconds).  Dump in the tomato soups, cheezey sauce, and sour cream.  Raise heat a little, until it starts to bubble, stirring often.  Add tvp or crumblers, stir.  Now you want to add the dried herbs, garlic powder, and onion powder (gives it an extra kick).  Turn heat to very low, and remember to stir occasionally (the bottom will stick) while you make the bread crumbs.  

For the bread crumbs, just tear the slices of bread into smallish chunks (about 1-2 inch pieces), place them on a cookie sheet, spray with cooking spray, sprinkle on garlic salt, and pop into the oven for 20 minutes.  They'll be done when they're brown and yummy smelling.  

Put your pasta in a 9x13 baking dish, pour the sauce on top, and stir well until everything seems even.  Take the bread crumbs and crush them over the top with your hands (big chunks are still ok, but try to cover most of it with some breading).  Bake 30 minutes, uncovered.

So yeah, that's a lot of steps, but I was just throwing all kinds of stuff in there.  This is pretty versatile and you can add or subtract whatever you like.  Take out the crumblers and spinach, add some peas and another can of tomatoes.  Or whatever.  The herbiness of the sauce goes nicely with the tomatoes, and the cheezey sauce lends it that creamy texture that I miss from time to time.
dinner for a lazy, frazzled vegan

I mean lazy in that I can't follow a recipe when I'm frazzled.  I actually spent like an hour in the kitchen doing all that stuff.  It doesn't have to take that long, by the way, I was just kind of dragging.  I wanted to be cooking, but I didn't want to be reading and double checking myself along the way.  

And nicely finished off with the end of the pear tart (which, in case you didn't notice, did not even get a mention on katie's blog!...sad, sad me).

I probably will not blog tomorrow, as my dad is coming to town for the evening.  I will, however, post my dinner tonight on Thursday.  Gimme a break, I've only been blogging for over 2 weeks straight now!


Jes said...

Yes please, pass the mac n' cheese! Yumms!

Virginia said...

i throw together mac and cheese dishes like that all the time! have fun with your dad!

aTxVegn said...

Is it okay that it reminds me of kicked up vegan hamburger helper? I didn't get mentioned on Katie's blog either. Your tart was so lovely. You shouldn't have been overlooked.

Chelsea said...

Garlic breadcrumbs? What a great idea! I just might make that (minus the evil tvp)... thanks for typing it out! I'm the same way with cooking something out of my head vs. a recipe - recipes just feel longer!

Liz said...

This sounds really good- It's nice to see a twist on the usual pasta with cheeze sauce. I like the addition of tomato soup- Sounds like something the kids would dig, too.
I'm a total crab without my snacks, too. We just can't help it.

Bex said...

garlic bread crumbs make this sound way too awesome. I love curly pasta, it's insta comforting and relaxing.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great meal, but doesn't look last minute at all. Have a nice visit with your dad!

Anonymous said...

Looks nom. I can't find canned tomato soup that doesn't contain milk here in the U.K. I love(d) canned tomato soup :o(

Jeni Treehugger said...

It looks YUMMERS!!!

Chessa said...

Yum, that looks awesome! Way to be creative in the midst of low blood sugar crankiness - I totally suffer from this, too, and usually we end up eating out because it's like my mind just shuts down and I'm on the verge of tears or a serious psychotic break unless someone FEEDS ME NOW!!! I am well known for this trait among friends - they're like, Oh no, she's getting hungry, feed her or RUN!

Anyway, that looks delicious!!!

Joanna said...

omg im a mac and cheese addict. i've tried so many recipes but never one with tomato soup. this sounds so damn good.

jessy said...

you have been blogging like a mofo fo 'sho, Jessica! that stinks that yourglorious pear tart were not mentioned. grrrrr!

as for your herby mac 'n cheeze - dayyyyyyyum! it looks super stellar! and now i'm wishing i had the most gigantical plate filled with all that awesomeness RIGHT FREAK'N NOW! you're too awesome - i love it!


Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Mmm, that sounds GOOD!

das said...

As Heathy had yet to try her hand at nut cheese-making, we put it on 'The List, Plus, cheeze and crackers were the perfect complement to our daily soups and salads; leaving plenty of room for the decadent desserts that have been rolling out of our sunny kitchen. Anyhoo, I decided to make the delicious Herb Cheeze that was featured in my 'Not Cheeze Pleaze' post. After reading the tantalizing combinations that someone posted on Raw Freedom Community, I also came up with a Garlic & Dill variation that turned out really well.


Kelly said...

Mmmm. That looks so cozy and comforting. Thanks for sharing.

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