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Baked Vegan Macaroni Casserole

I made this macaroni casserole a couple of weeks ago to satisfy an urge for comfort food.  It hit the spot!  Although I will not claim that it is exactly like it’s non-vegan equivalents, it is pretty darn good all the same.  I served it with my Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup for the ultimate cozy Sunday afternoon meal.  Recipe below!

Baked Vegan Macaroni Casserole


  • 1 lb cooked Macaroni noodles (I used whole wheat and it tasted fine in the casserole!)
  • ½ c raw cashews, processed into a powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium chopped potato
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 1 c nutritional yeast
  • 1 c non dairy milk
  • Juice of half of a lemon
  • 3 T corn starch
  • 1 tbsp oil/earth balance
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t Dijon mustard
  • ½ t tumeric
  • ½ t onion powder
  • ¼ t black pepper
  • 1/8 t cayenne
  • dash of soy sauce
  • **Garnish:  Paprika, bread crumbs, ground almonds
  • **Optional:  Peas and halved cherry tomates


  1. Grease a large casserole pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook your macaroni noodles according to the package instructions and drain.  Put in casserole pan and set aside
  3. In a food processor, blend the raw cashews with the carrots, potato, and garlic, and process until well combined.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the macaroni, the garnish, and the optional ingredients) to the food processor and process again until a smooth “cheese” sauce forms.
  5. Pour the “cheese” sauce directly onto the macaroni noodles and toss to coat the noodles evenly.  If you want to add optional ingredients to your casserole, now is the time to do it!  I added a bag of frozen peas and some spare, halved cherry tomatoes for color and nutrition.
  6. Top with paprika (for a little kick), bread crumbs, and crushed almonds (for some crunch).
  7. Cook for 30 minutes.
  8. Serve!  This recipe makes enough to serve about 4-6 people, depending on how hungry everyone is.


Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup

We’ve had a couple of cold weekends in Pittsburgh lately, so I decided to throw together some tomato soup out of two cans of plain tomato sauce I had in my pantry (which is actually just my dining room floor…college kitchens are tiny!).  In my pre-vegan days, I would have let heavy whipping cream give this tomato soup it’s comforting creaminess, but I veganized it with some full fat coconut milk and added thickness by blending it with carrots and potatoes.  I wouldn’t skip the the Herbs de Provence, they really elevate the flavor, adding an air of French sophistication (maybe?)

Anyways, the result is a thick and creamy tomato soup that even my tomato soup hating boyfriend and roommate really enjoyed.  Recipe below!


  • olive oil
  • 3 large cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 2 t Herbs de Provence
  • 1 t basil pesto
  • ½ t nutmeg
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 c vegetable broth
  • 1 medium chopped potato
  • 23 oz (for me, one small can and one regular-sized can) of plain tomato sauce
  • 4 T full fat coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste (wait until the end to add)


  1. Coat a medium saucepan with olive oil and sauté garlic on medium heat until fragrant.  Add the onion and carrots and turn heat to low.
  2. Add the spices and combine, and cook until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, potatoes, and tomato sauce.  Turn the heat to medium, and wait until the soup starts gently bubbling and potatoes are tender (for me this was conveniently the same time).  Take the soup off of the heat and allow it to cool down a bit.
  4. Put the soup in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.  Pour it back into the saucepan and heat on low.
  5. Slowly add the coconut milk while stirring the soup.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve!



Quick and Easy Indian-Inspired Chili (Vegan) with Coconut Basmati Rice

Last night I had a bunch of produce that had just about outlived it’s fridge time so I decided to cook up an Indian-inspired chili to use it all up! The only part of this recipe that is time consuming is the veggie chopping, other than that you just throw everything in the pot and let it simmer away. It ended up being pretty spicy because I was a little heavy-handed with the crushed red pepper flakes (oops! I adjusted the recipe afterwards as to not kill anyone), so I paired it with some mellow coconut basmati rice.  It was really yummy and really filling!


Spicy Indian-Inspired Chili

Yield: About 6 servings


  • 1 ½  each of garam masala, cumin, & turmeric
  • ½ t each of cayenne, nutmeg, ginger, & cardamom
  • 3 bell peppers, chopped (I did green, yellow, orange, because that’s what I had on hand)
  • 3 small or 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • ½ jar of marinara sauce
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 can of corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c vegetable broth
  • olive oil


  1. In a medium sized pot, heat olive oil and garlic on medium heat.  Add the chopped onions along with all the spices and sauté until your kitchen smells like magic!
  2. Add in a little more olive oil (to cover the bottom of the pot) and toss in the chopped zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes, corn, and beans.  Toss it around with a spoon so everything is combined.
  3. Add the marinara sauce and vegetable broth and mix.  Heat until the entire mixture boils, then turn down the heat to low.
  4. Simmer the chili on the stove for about twenty minutes (or more if you want, I just used this time to make the rice) to let the flavors meld.  FLAVA FLAVVVVE!!!
  5. EAT!


  • If you like your chili to be spicier, add crushed red pepper flakes along with the other spices.  BE CAREFUL THOUGH! Once you put them in, you can’t take them out. (If you don’t heed this warning and your chili ends up being too spicy, salt it a bit and it will tone the spice down).
  • You can essentially use any vegetables or beans that you want in this recipe, or leave them out entirely.  I just used what I had on hand!  This is why chili is awesome.

Coconut Basmati Rice

Yield:  About 3 cups (6 servings, 1/2 cup each)


  • 1 ½ c basamati rice, rinsed and drained until it doesn’t make the water cloudy (this took about 4 rinses for me)
  • 1 c coconut milk
  • 1 ½ c water
  • ½ t turmeric
  • pinch of salt
  1. Put everything in a rice cooker and mix so the turmeric and and coconut milk are well combined with the water.
  2. Turn the rice cooker on and let it do it’s rice cooker magic!
  3. EAT!
  • If you don’t have a rice cooker (I actually don’t, but my lovely roommate Abbey let’s me use hers [and all her spices (THANKS ABBEY!)]) then you can easily do this on the stove following these basic cooking instructions.  Just use the same ingredients/water and coconut milk ratio above.
  • You can easily do this with another kind of white rice, I just had Basmati in my pantry.

Happy cooking 🙂


Scotland Recap: Visiting Luss and Loch Lomond

Once we rented our car and departed from the airport, we headed towards our first real destination: Campbeltown. But of course, we had to stop and eat on the way there! There’s something about that plane food that just doesn’t sit right. So we pulled over in a very small town called Luss. Being able to take in the beautiful green hills of Scotland (spotted with free-grazing sheep and cows), and breathe the fresh air was amazing! Everywhere we turned, it looked like a postcard.

The little cottages in Luss were adorable…they reminded me of DisneyWorld! (Is that awful to say? They were just so quaint and tiny!)

Loch Lomond was amazing. See for yourself!

At first I thought these swans added to the serene appearance of Loch Lomond, but I was mistaken. First of all, they were absolutely HUGE, and secondly, when a curious puppy was sniffing near the water, the swans started hissing at the puppy and trying to attack it. SO SCARY.

We ate at the visitor’s center’s restauraunt, Purdies. It was beautiful on the inside; big windows gave a perfect view of the Loch!

I went with the traditional Scottish breakfast: tomatoes, mushrooms (mushrooms are served with everything because the damp Scottish climate is perfect for growing them!), baked beans, a runny egg, toast, sausage and bacon. I quickly found out that I was not a fan of Scottish meats (they just taste different, like they are less meat and more filler perhaps?) but I actually love having baked beans with breakfast!

After our brief stop in Luss, we headed towards Campbeltown where we would be staying for about five days. I’ll talk about where we stayed and what we did there in the next post, so stay tuned!

Myrtle Beach Day 5: A Little Competition Never Hurts Anyone

One of the defining features of my family is that for the most part we are very competitive.  My dad was a star football/basketball/baseball player his entire life, and he does not like to lose!  Whether in sports, the arts, academics, or arguments, us Benzio’s like to fight to be the best. When we’re on vacation it’s no different!  Last night, Gigi entered a ping-pong tournament at SeaWatch.

Gigi playing in the championship ping pong game.

Gigi played in the kids division, and kicked major butt!  Only 4 kids were entered, Gigi and 3 other boys.  She played 2 games and won them both; the first she won 11-6 and the championship game she won 11-1!!  The other boys were shouting “Don’t get beat by a girl!”, but Gigi stayed cool as a cucumber and was victorious!  She had the whole room cheering for her.  Girl power!  The funniest part is after she finished playing, she sat next to me and said, “I went easy on them.”  🙂

Let the races begin!

One of my family’s favorite activities at the resort are the twice daily Turtle races!  Anyone can buy a turtle (like a rubber duckie) for $5, decorate it, and enter it in as many races in the lazy river as they want.

Just floatin' on by...

Gigi races her turtle, Kevin, as many times as she can, and so far has won 3 races (not an easy feat!).  She’s been trying to use a lot of different strategies to get Kevin to race faster, including but not limited to freezing him before the race and dipping him in oil. The races are so fun, and it’s great to watch the kids (and the adults!) get so into it, cheering and chasing their turtle around the river.

Pappy following Kevin around the river

Gigi with Tara the Terrible (Cannon's turtle) and Kevin (her turtle)


Let’s Chat:

  • What would you name your turtle? 
  • What do you get competitive about? 

Myrtle Beach Day 4: Broadway at the Beach

Tuesday night we visited a popular Myrtle Beach attraction, Broadway at the Beach! We had a lot of fun looking around and shopping.  I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking. 🙂