flyin’ by

I’m currently at the airport, just finishing a Jamba Juice smoothie and trying to connect to the internet.  Free internet is great, if it works that is!  So besides my banana scramble breakfast yesterday, I made quite a few other things as well.  It was a crazy day of cooking, cleaning, laundry, swimming, grocery shopping, fitness assessment at the new gym + packing.  Glad that’s all over and I’m at the airport with nothing to do but sit and wait.

The first thing I made yesterday was a batch of Mama Pea’s KIND bars.  These are better than the real KIND bars, just so you know.  They are the perfect chewy/crunchy texture and also have such great flavor.  It tastes like they are filled with butter…I swear!  I think it’s from the coconut.  The ingredient list is simple, as is the process.  

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I’ve made these twice now, and I’ll definitely say that grinding your flax seeds fresh makes a difference, just as Mama Pea says to do in the recipe.  Last time I think I just used 2T pre-ground flax meal.  However, this time, I ground 2T whole flax seeds.  Grinding fresh definitely held these bars together perfectly!  If you only have the pre-ground, I would recommend using 3T.

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I’m never buying pre-ground again!  Did you know you should always keep your flax seeds + meal in the fridge or freezer?  They can turn rancid pretty quickly, especially once it’s ground.  I think freshly grinding will help in other baked goods as well.  I didn’t change 1 thing with the recipe.  It’s perfect as is. 

Chris is a HUGE fan of KIND bars, which is why I was making them.  I try to stock Chris up on yummy foods before I leave. :)  They also make good airport snacks. 

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Next, I got started on dinner.  My plan was to make vegan macaroni + “cheeze” again, because 1. it’s delicious 2. lot’s of leftovers for Chris + to freeze 3. it’s delicious.

I made a LOT of variations this time and it still turned out really tasty!  I realized that I only had 1/4c of cashews when the recipe called for 1.5 cups.  What to do?  Add every other nut + seed you have!  This totally worked.

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I think I’m going to rename this, Creamy Vegan Noodle Casserole.  Because that‘s what it is!!   Like I said last time, it’s the consistency of an alfredo sauce and then you can flavor it any way you like.

Guess what I added this time?  By now you should be able to guess…

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Smoked Paprika…duh! ;)

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I used frozen organic cauliflower + frozen organic tri-colored peppers as well.  While sometimes frozen veggies are a little funky eaten whole, these were being pulverized to a smooth sauce, so fresh or frozen doesn’t matter much!

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Smoky Vegan Noodle Casserole [serves ~6] [adapted from my own from an adapted version of Angela’s from an adapted version from VegNews ;)]

  • 1lb dried pasta [shells or similar shape work best]
  • 1 1/2c unsweetened almond milk [or other non-flavored milk]
  • 1 slice of bread [ground to make breadcrumbs]
  • 1/2c walnuts
  • 1/4c cashews
  • 1/2c pepitas
  • 1/3c sesame seeds
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2c cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, whole
  • 2t salt
  • fresh black pepper
  • 1T smoked paprika
  • 1/2T oregano
  • 1/2T parsley
  • 2T nutritional yeast
  • 1/4-1/2t cayenne [optional]
  1. Steam or boil chopped carrot, onion, pepper, and cauliflower until just tender.  About 5-10min, depending on method.
  2. Pulse 1 piece of bread in food processor [or blender] until crumbs have formed.  Set aside.
  3. While veggies are cooking, combine nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, nuts + seeds, oregano, parsley, lemon juice, mustard, almond milk, earth balance, salt, garlic, cayenne, and black pepper in your food processor bowl.
  4. Process until smooth. [Or use a a blender]
  5. Drain veggies and add to processor/blender.  Process again until smooth.  About 1-2 minutes.
  6. Par-boil pasta for about 6 minutes. 
  7. Preheat oven to 350*.
  8. Drain pasta water + rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
  9. In a large bowl mix sauce + pasta.  It seems like a LOT of sauce, but it thickens a lot during baking. 
  10. In a 2qt casserole dish, pour in the mixture.  Top with smoked paprika [optional] and bake covered for 30min.
  11. Uncover + top with breadcrumbs.  Broil on low for ~3min until nice and crispy.

*If you make this ahead of time, it works really well.  First, cover and refrigerate the casserole.  The sauce will get very thick in the fridge, so add about 1/3c extra almond milk and stir before covering and putting in the oven.  Bake for 45min.

**This would be fabulous topped with any veggie protein of your choice or with mixed in cooked vegetables.  They taste awesome mixed in with this sauce!

I used spiral noodles this time and did not like them nearly as much as the large shell-like noodles I used last time.  These were much more limp, even though I only pre-cooked them for 5minutes in boiling water.  I definitely recommend using a larger shell-like noodle!  Despite the mushier noodles, this was smoky, slightly spicy and extremely creamy.  Loved it!!  I’m not sure if I like my version from last week or this more.  I guess it’s fun to have 2 different variations to make.

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Here is what the finished KIND bars look like.  I have one in my bag and can’t wait to dig in on the plane!  My seat neighbor is going to be jealous!  Be sure to check out the recipe for yourself!

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You just can’t go wrong with these ingredients!!

  • flax
  • coconut
  • almonds
  • apricots
  • honey + maple syrup

chew. chew. crunch.

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Time to get on the plane!  No internet yet, so I’ll post this as soon as I get to my house in Cleveland! 

I’m not looking forward to the 20* temps + all of the snow!!  Eeeek!

**Obviously I didn’t get this posted from the airport.  It’s now midnight, East coast time, and I just sat down in my house.  My mom picked me up and we met my dad and brother at PF Changs.  I had a delicious plate of veggies + egg noodles and then I went to visit my aunt, uncle, AJ + Jenna.  I love coming home!

<3 Ashley