Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dairy-Free Mac and Cheese

We were in Whole Foods for the first time 2 weeks ago buying a Christmas gift. While there, we decided to check it out because a vegan friend of mine has often raved about their dairy-free selection. After being in the store for about 5 minutes, I was sold. A woman had a table set up with cookie samples. I usually go to these tables, listen to what they have to say, then look at the ingredients and take a sample. If it's "safe", I'll eat it. If not, the hubby gets it. The woman saw me looking at the ingredients and was like "it's gluten free, dairy free and casein free.." and I said "I'm sold!" It was a delicious cookie :) I ended up leaving the store with dairy-free whipped cream in a can, dairy free boxed mac and cheese, Blue Diamond almond milk (which my friend has been saying for months is a million times better than soy milk.. btw, it is), and Daiya cheddar style shreds.

I promised Ryan that when I attempted to make mac and cheese I'd make him, the cheese lover, his own, with real cheese. However, I was feeling very defiant yesterday and also in the mood for mac and cheese. So I made just one. With the Daiya cheese. He walked in the door commenting on how good it smelled. I had rehearsed in my head "just give it a shot", but I didn't even have a chance to finish my sentence before he said he'd eat it. In the end, I loved it and he said while it wasn't the best (he compared it to having lite mayo instead of the real stuff) mac and cheese he'd ever had, it was better than Kraft boxed mac and cheese and it definitely looked and smelled like cheese.

Serves: 6 

  ~ 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  ~ 1 pound chicken breast tenders, chopped (I used about half of this)
  ~ Salt and pepper
  ~ 1 pound macaroni elbows
  ~ 2 1/2 cups frozen raw broccoli florets
  ~ 3 tablespoons Fleischmann's unsalted margarine
  ~ 4 tablespoons flour
  ~ 1 teaspoon paprika
  ~ 3 cups Blue Diamond almond milk
  ~ 1 cup chicken broth
  ~ 3 cups Daiya cheddar style shreds

1. Boil a pot of water for the macaroni. Sprinkle a little salt in the water.

2. Heat a medium pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and chicken and season with salt and pepper. Saute for a couple minutes and cook until cooked through. Turn off heat and reserve.

3. Add pasta to boiling water. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the broccoli. Cook for another 3 minutes or so, until both the pasta and broccoli are cooked.

4. While the pasta cooks, heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Then add the flour and paprika, whisking together until small bubbles appear. Cook for about another minute or so. Whisk in the milk and broth, raising the heat slightly, to bring it to a boil. Once it's boiling, reduce the heat and simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes.

5. Drain the macaroni and broccoli. Add back to the same pot and stir in the chicken.

6. Add the cheese to the milk sauce pan and stir until it is melted and a cheese sauce has formed. Pour the sauce into the chicken/macaroni/broccoli pot and stir until everything is covered. Serve.

Source: A modified version of Rachel Ray's recipe

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