When I’ve mentioned home improvement projects to some homeowners recently, I’ve received knowing sighs and head shakes as they sympathize with the “pain” of taking care of an older home. Maybe the novelty just hasn’t worn off yet, but I’ve never been more excited to clean and pack and organize.
Cameron and I spent the weekend prepping and painting the house, slowly gearing up for our big move in September. All the while we get to imagine a home that is our own. What an incredible gift and privilege to be able to invest ourselves in a place to share with friends and family. Our house turns one hundred this year. Surely it will take time and energy to maintain the property, but preserving its character and history matter to us. We’re willing to put a little extra effort into it so that it can stand for many years to come.
Below you’ll find a recipe for the perfect meal to complement a busy weekend. Unlike the hours it takes to prep a room for its Japanese Fern paint job, this homemade chipotle mac and cheese meal takes about 15 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to cook and plate. Also, it’s vegan. And if you think vegan food tastes weird, you’re in for a treat. This mac n’ cheese tastes so amazing, you’ll forget it’s free of all animal products.
Vegan Chipotle Mac and Cheese with Roasted Brussels Sprouts (adapted from a Post Punk Kitchen recipe)
Serves 2 as a main dish
8 oz macaroni (gluten-free, whole wheat, or any type)
1 lb brussels, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the sauce:
1 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours
4 chipotles, seeded (see note)
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons miso (I used chickpea miso)
Salt to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F for the brussels sprouts, and prepare a pot of salted water for the pasta. In the meantime, prep the brussels sprouts and make the sauce.
2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the quartered brussels sprouts with olive oil and a dash of salt. Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned. No need to flip them, just let ‘em roast. When they’re done, turn off the heat but keep them in the oven to stay warm until needed. (I added a little water to the pan when I shut off the oven to provide a gentle steam for the sprouts.)
3. To make the sauce: Drain the cashews and place all sauce ingredients in a blender and blend away until completely smooth. Scrape down the sides with a spatula to make sure you get everything. Depending on the strength of your blender this could take from one to five minutes. (By soaking the cashews for a longer period of time before using, the blending took about 30 seconds.)
4. When the macaroni is tender, drain it in a colander. Immediately place it back in the pot you boiled it in and stir in the sauce. Place pot on low heat and stir for 3 minutes or so, until the sauce is thickened a bit and everything is deliciously creamy. Toss in the brussels sprouts and serve.
1. I had intended to make this recipe a few days ago but didn’t have time, so the 2-hour cashew soaking in the fridge turned into a 3-day soaking. This longer soak time softened the cashews, helping them to blend into an incredibly smooth sauce. If possible, soak the cashews overnight in the refrigerator. Think of them like dried beans. They’re easier to work with if they’ve softened up.
2. Use a lower sodium mellow white miso, like this one. My work friend Emily made the recipe last week with a regular miso paste that contained MSG. Her major complaint (besides her partner being unable to eat it because of an MSG allergy) was how salty the original recipe tasted. Miso Master low-sodium white miso works great and is MSG-free.
3. Pat yourself on the back for being frugal. This meal is inexpensive!