Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mom's Chicken Broccoli Casserole - veganized

When I was little, one of my favorite dinners was my mom's Chicken Broccoli Casserole. It was a recipe she got from the back of a Campbell's Soup can, I think, but it was ultimate comfort food for me. When I stopped eating meat, she used to make the same dish only without the chicken. I took the recipe off to college with me and whenever I felt like I needed a taste of home, I'd make it. 

Of course in more recent years I have been eating vegan as often as I can and I learned about yucky things like MSG that Campbell's uses in their soups and I stopped making the recipe for a while. I figured if it wasn't exactly the same, it just, you know, wouldn't be the same. 

Then one day I was having a huge craving and decided to take the plunge and try it out with some healthier tweaks. Though I would still not consider this a "healthy" dish, it's a vast improvement from the version Mom used to make. 


Mom's Chicken Brown Rice and Broccoli Casserole

2 tbsp vegan butter or margarine
2 tbsp flour (most of this recipe is gluten free. If you want, change this to AP GF flour)
2 cups unsweetened plain soy milk (I use WestSoy because their milk is simply whole soybeans and water, no extra crap like carrageenens and lecithins)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
salt, pepper, garlic to taste
vegetable broth (for thinning sauce)
2 small or 1 large bunch of broccoli
2 cups brown rice
Saltines (I used GF ones)
More vegan butter
Drizzle of truffle oil (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook your rice according to the instructions on the package. I personally used this prepackaged Seeds of Change version with quinoa in it that just needs 90 seconds in the microwave (you can get a six pack of these at Costco). I love it and it's great as a side dish mixed with nuts and spices or even just on it's own. Also pictured are the Glutino GF saltines that I used. We'll get back to them later.

Trim and cut your broccoli into bite sized pieces and steam until just cooked. Mix broccoli and rice together and put into a prepared square casserole dish.

In a small saucepan on med-low heat, melt vegan butter. Whisk flour into melted butter. Slowly add soy milk, whisking as you pour. Add nutritional yeast and spices and continue whisking until the mixture begins to thicken. At this point, if your sauce is too thick, add vegetable broth, about 1/8 cup at a time. Pour the sauce over the broccoli/rice mixture and gently mix. Reduce heat to low and stir occasionally as you prepare the rest of the recipe.

With your vegan butter and your saltines, make little sandwiches. I like to be a little more funny with my food, so I made a giant multi-decker sandwich out of mine. Make as many or as few sandwiches as you prefer. It's your topping, so if you like more topping, get back to work. I used all the crackers I had here or else I would have had more. Topping is the best!

Now put the whole thing (or your individual sandwiches) into a baggie and crunch the heck out of it. You want lil' morsels here. At this point I added my truffle oil, just for an additional dimension of flavor ...and because it's friggin' delicious. I highly recommend drizzling truffle oil on anything you can.

Pour your crumbly morsels evenly over the top of your casserole. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the sides start to bubble and your crackers get all golden and crispy.

Take it out, let it cool a little bit and enjoy your MSG and dairy free comfort food!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Solitary Saturday

I love my husband and my time with him is precious. But today I have the rare opportunity to do whatever I want because he is out having an adventure with his step dad.

So far, I've eaten a delicious and nutritious breakfast (oatmeal with cinnamon, dried apricots, berries and toasted coconut with a splash of soy milk), filled in my to-do list, finished a mat board cutting project for a photog friend of mine, filed my business property tax statement (hopefully correctly), and written a blog post. And it's only 10:30! 

I'm excited for the rest of my day, which I am filling with a ton of other to-do items that I just don't get done while he's here. Next up: clean out the refrigerator. Wish me luck!

For those of you who are married or living with someone, what do you do when you have the house all to yourself?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Twenty-four brand new hours

I saw this quote on Facebook today, and it really resonated with me. Twenty-four brand new hours. Pause for a moment and think about that. Twenty-four hours that you have yet to live, that are not yet a part of your history. Twenty-four hours you can do anything with, be anything within. You can choose today to start over or to continue where you left off.

Wednesday was a really good day. I got a lot of stuff done, I entered a writing contest, a photography contest. I checked a bunch of stuff off my to-do list, won a raffle prize at a Chamber of Commerce event (a basket full of Starbucks goodness, in case you were wondering!) and went to bed feeling content and happy.

Thursday was not as good. But Thursday is over and today is another day. And tomorrow, I will have another whole day to be and do whatever my heart desires. That's a pretty empowering thought.

I am going to keep this quote on my nightstand so I remember in the morning to welcome the day and all of its possibilities.

Have you read any quotes lately that just strike a chord with you?