10-Ingredient Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Mac & Cheese



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Honest to God – this might be the most fucking delicious vegan meal I have ever made!  Seriously!  And to think it only came together because I had a fridge full of random leftovers & ingredients that I needed to be done with.  I had a package of Tofutti American cheese, several slices of their mozzarella cheese (both of which I totally shit-talked in my vegan cheese review) & some leftover pasta.  Oh – and two Chinese eggplants.

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I actually had this selection of vegan cheeses – seen above.  I opted to use the individual slices first because 1) they were getting old and 2) I thought this dish would make better use of (read: mask) their less than fabulous flavor.  Ultimately – I did use some of the other two cheeses, as well.  The result is AMAZING!  You can use whatever vegan cheeses you prefer but you are going to need about a pound of various cheeses – before all is said & done.

I used Chinese eggplant & I recommend them because they are less bitter & carry less moisture than regular eggplant.

I used nutritional yeast but a vegan Parmesan would also work.  Or use neither.

This takes a few steps but all are simple & the result is a decadent feast that nobody would ever guess was vegan – at least with this particular combination of cheeses.  I find some vegan cheeses taste more fake than others – so – the brands you use will matter – but I am certain lots of other brands would be just as yummy – especially the Field Roast Chao cheeses – my favorite of the vegan cheeses I have tried.

Whatever you do – get it together to make this – at least once.  It really is killer!

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10-Ingredient Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Mac & Cheese

Feeds 4-6 depending on appetites


4+ cups or so of cooked pasta

2 Chinese eggplant (or other variety) – sliced 1/2″ thick

1 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or vegan Parmesan)

1 TBS dry parsley

8 oz (or 12 individual slices) vegan American or cheddar cheese (or a mix) – PLUS SOME  EXTRA – just in case

4 oz (or 6 individual slices) vegan mozzarella – PLUS SOME  EXTRA – just in case

(Extra grated vegan cheese to top the casserole – one that melts would be prettiest)

2 – 3 cups unsweetened vegan milk

1 1/2 – 2 cups pasta sauce (I used Rao’s Arrabbiata)

Basil or parsley (or both) – chopped for garnish

Olive oil

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Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the bread crumbs, nutritional yeast & dry parsley in a bowl.  Put about 1/2 cup milk in another bowl.  Heat some olive oil in a frying pan.  Dunk the eggplant rounds in the milk & then through the breadcrumbs and drop into the hot oil.  They should brown pretty quickly.  Flip & brown the other side.  Put on a cooking sheet & into the oven while you repeat the process until all the eggplant is cooked.  You will likely need to wipe out the burnt breadcrumbs & add more oil with each batch.

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In a stock pot, melt the American and/or cheddar cheese.   Add vegan milk in small increments until it becomes creamy.   Stir in the pasta.  At this point – I decided it needed more cheese so I added two slices of this cheese (below) and a bit more milk & cooked it until it looked wet & yummy & creamy.   I am not giving exact directions as to the cheese-milk-pasta ratio because different cheeses might have more or less moisture – and everyone has a different idea of how wet mac & cheese should be.    I would suggest going a little wet – as the pasta & eggplant will absorb it & you won’t have a dry dish.

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Look at that up there!!!!  Doesn’t that look just ridiculous?!  It was all I could do not to just start shoving it in my face.  But I used considerable will power & continued with the recipe.

So – when you get your pasta-cheese-milk ratio to where it looks creamy but still a bit wet (so it won’t dry out in cooking) – take it off the flame.

Grease a casserole pan & layer half the eggplant on the bottom.

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Add another layer of eggplant with the rest of the slices & top with pasta sauce.

In the same pan you melted the cheese in – melt the mozzarella & pour it over your casserole & pop the pan into the oven.

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At this point – I took my dogs for a walk – COMPLETELY forgetting I had this in the oven.  I think it needed 30-45 minutes in the 375 oven – but it got way more than that.  Don’t burn yours.  I kinda did.   Look – not so pretty.

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So – in an effort to make it pretty again – I grated some of that cheese above onto it & popped it back into the oven for about ten minutes.  As you can see – it did little to make it prettier (that cheese did not want to melt) – but when I scooped it onto plates – it looked & SMELLED amazing!

So – maybe do not burn yours & it will be prettier but nobody needs to see it before it hits the plate, anyway.

So – scoop some onto plates & garnish with parsley and/or basil.  I swear – this will fool people out of suspecting it is vegan.  So yummy & comforting!

Waste no time & devour it!

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Easy Cauliflower and Broccoli and Turmeric Mac and Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


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vromans back

It’s still ON! The Christmas special!

Buy a signed and LETTERED (hence – limited to 26 copies) copy of my book FROM THE LINK BELOW, and get copy of the short on DVD & 3 signed bookplates so you can give three people signed copies as gifts. The cost will be $25 which will include DOMESTIC shipping.

First come – first serve. When the 26 are gone – that is it. Buy ASAP if you want to be sure to get the templates for your gift giving this season!


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I took those two outdoor images this weekend on my Hollywood sign hikes.  Living in LA does NOT suck.  Don’t believe the hype.

You know what else doesn’t suck?  Pretty much any variety of mac & cheese.  But being a big fat ass does suck – so I added a huge head of cauliflower & two small heads of broccoli to this so it is about 50% veggies & 50% pasta.  Easy & delicious.  I skipped the whole roux business so this is a very quick dish to put together.

I used turmeric because it adds that vibrant yellow color but I also added it because it is really good for you.  Google “turmeric benefits” or look HERE & see some of the amazing good it can do for you.

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Easy Cauliflower and Broccoli and Turmeric Mac and Cheese

Feeds 6 easily


1 lb dry pasta

1 large head cauliflower – cut into bite-size florets

2 medium heads broccoli – cut into bit-sized florets

1 cup sour cream

1/2 pint heavy cream

3 cups pepper jack cheese – grated

2 cups cheddar cheese – grated

1 TBS turmeric

1 tsp salt

1 TBS ground pepper

A few squirts of hot sauce – I used Crystal (optional)

1-2 cups panko or other bread crumbs

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Heat the oven to 350 & grease a large casserole pan or a bunch of ramekins.  The quantity I ended up with filled my largest casserole pan plus two ramekins.  Your results may vary depending on the quantity of vegetables you use & the sort of pasta.

Put the cauliflower florets in a large pot of water (large enough to hold all the pasta & veggies).  Heat it to boil & add the pasta.  Cook as long as the package says – but add the broccoli in the final three minutes.

Toss with all the other ingredients (except the breadcrumbs) and top with the panko.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly & the breadcrumbs are beginning to brown.


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Southwestern Taco or Nacho Style Mac and Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


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I don’t know what is wrong with me but I have a definite pattern of opting to make comfort food on the hottest of days.  Yesterday was no exception.  One hundred degrees out?  Turn on the oven & get baking!

This dish is pretty simple & very customizable.  I used ricotta because I had some left over from my Zucchini Squash Blossom White Pizza with Goat Cheese and Ricotta and Mozzarella.


Ricotta is better suited to lasagnas though & I might not use it if I didn’t already have it around.  I also opted to roast 5 jalapenos because 1) I have a convenient stove-top grill and 2) it was another opportunity to have another heating element cranking away in my already unbearably hot kitchen.

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Roasting peppers (or eggplant) can be done directly on the burners of your stove.  Just put them on a flame & turn until they are black everywhere.  Put them into a covered container for a few minutes so they “sweat,” and then rub the blackened skins off under cool running water.  Seed & mince the jalapenos & you are ready to go.

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I also made my own taco seasoning (more than I ended up using) but you could just use a packaged kind – if you prefer.

Homemade Taco Seasoning


1/2 tsp dry oregano

1 TBS chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

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This is a pretty spicy recipe so go easy on (or eliminate) the spicy parts if you prefer a milder dish.  Also – if there is an ingredient or two that you do not have or do not like – lose it.  Or – like corn in your tacos or nachos?  Add some!   Want some cooked meat in there?  Add it.  This is a very forgiving dish.

Southwestern Taco or Nacho Style Mac and Cheese

Feeds a lot – 6 easily


8 oz dry macaroni

9 oz vegan beef crumbles (or real beef)

1/2 red onion – diced

1/2 red bell pepper – diced

1-5 roasted (or raw) jalapenos – (I roasted mine as explained above & I used all 5) – minced (optional)

1 (4 oz) can chiles (I used hot ones)

1 (15) oz can black beans – drained & rinsed

1 (10 oz) can Rotel (or diced tomatoes)

2 TBS taco seasoning (packaged or use the recipe above)

Olive oil

1-4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – minced (optional)

3 cups cheese (I used 1 cup ricotta & 2 cups grated cheddar/mozzarella blend but 3 cups of grated cheese is fine (maybe better) and pepper jack would be great) – or VEGAN alternative

Extra grated cheese to top the casserole (1-2 cups or so)

1 (4 oz) can sliced black olives (as garnish)

Raw jalapeno – sliced – as garnish

Cilantro – as garnish

Tomato – diced – as garnish

Avocado – as garnish

Pico de gallo or salsa as garnish

Corn chips – as garnish

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Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook & drain the macaroni.

Make the taco seasoning – if you are not using packaged.

Roast the jalapenos – if you are using them roasted.  Mince & set aside.

Heat 2 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan.  Saute the onion, bell pepper & canned chiles & fresh jalapeno (roasted or not) and chipotle peppers and heat until the onions & peppers are softened.  Add the beef & heat through.  If using real meat – be sure it is cooked through.

Add the seasoning & the macaroni & stir around.

In a large bowl, mix the black beaks & Rotel (or diced tomato) & then add the macaroni beef mixture.  Add the cheese you are using & mix it all up well.

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Grease a large casserole dish & put the mix in there.  Top with additional cheese & some sliced olives & jalapeno.  Cook for 30-45 minutes or until the cheese is all melted & bubbly & beginning to turn golden.

Garnish with your choice of olives, jalapeno, avocado, tomato and cilantro.  Corn chips might be a nice touch, too.

Crack a cold beer & get your eat on!


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Fried Catfish, Collard Greens and Macaroni & Cheese at The Serving Spoon in Inglewood


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

I selected  The Serving Spoon because it is literally ten minutes from LAX.  I needed a spot near the airport to have breakfast with my parents before I dropped them off for their return to Boston.  I did a bunch of different searches on Google & Yelp & The Serving Spoon kept making the “best of” lists – so be it.  Nestled in a corner strip mall in a neighborhood rife with abandoned businesses & auto accessory shops – the sign for The Serving Spoon was disappointing.   Owning a cafe is a fantasy of mine but my fantasy involves the design of the place as much as the menu.  I am always frustrated when any business falls short on the style-factor or any opportunity for cool graphics etc.  Here are the two signs:


Actually – that one isn’t too bad.  Sorta retro…OK.  Seems to be original.  I actually like that one, in retrospect.  But – here is the storefront:


Sorta underwhelming – no?  It looks like a yarn store called the Sewing Spoon.  But those two sets of wheels outside suggest there are not octogenarian knitters inside.  An urban eatery?  I’ll be the judge of that.

The interior.  Basic as basic gets.

We stepped inside & found there was a 10-15 minute wait.  On a Wednesday.  At 9:30am.  While I detest waiting for seating anywhere – this seemed a very promising indication.   I looked at the daily special board & saw OXTAILS were on the menu along with many traditional sides & peach cobbler.  For some reason – the crowd & that special board won me over completely.   I asked my parents to guess how we’d rate the food – once we had it – on a scale of 1-5.  Everyone expected to give The Serving Spoon a 5.  That can be hard to live up to.



After about 15 minutes, I began to suspect that folks arriving after us were being seated before us.  It was the first time I ever had a fear that I was being discriminated against because of race.  As a woman?  Sure.  As a punk rock kid or person not wealthy enough to be in the Gucci store in Milan or some other fancy place?  Sure.  I’ve been judged & assessed & underestimated in various way.  We all have.  But, as I watched the hostess seat another group I swore had entered after us, I actually blushed with shame.  The shame of humiliation.  And I whispered to my mother, “What if they won’t seat us?  Oh my God.  Can you imagine?”  And for the first time, I viscerally felt a tiny hint of what so many have felt historically & to this day – when they are truly discriminated against in a really basic, human rights kinda way.  Breakfast.  Don’t we all have a right to eat in a cafe – if we can afford to pay for it?   And as I reflected on the (obvious) horrors of institutionalized racism and my first, pinky-toe sensation of how it feels to be a victim of it, the hostess approached us.  “You’re Gail, right?”  Gail is my mother – the name we put on the wait list.  With that fact confirmed, she smiled & said, “Your table is ready.”

We weren’t being ignored, after all.  Hahaha!  What an asshole I am.  The folks she seated before us had been waiting on a bench I hadn’t seen.  What a total schmuck I am.  But I can tell you – it was eye opening to feel that rejection first hand – even mistakenly.  I’ve always sympathized with victims of racism but sympathy & experience are very different.  Hot flashes & the urge to run away & hide in shame.  That’s what I felt.  How unbelievably awful.  Had you asked me an hour before how I would react to being rejected because of my race, I think I would have said, “With righteous indignation” or some other thing that had a hint of resilience in it.

It wasn’t.  I felt shame.  A really unfamiliar kind of shame.  And the urge to skulk away as invisibly as possible.

Well, thank God it was all in my bleary head because it sucked.  I can’t explain why I jumped to the most negative explanation first except to say – I have had a REALLY, no – REEEEALLY, bad month or two where everything in my life seems to be dying or breaking or needing a root canal.  I think I have some sort of minor PTSD where I now just assume & expect the worst out of every encounter – whether it is with my dentist or the vet or the refrigerator repair man or my computer or my phone or ANY technology or my agent or my friends.  Step in dog shit?  In the dining room?  OF COURSE.  Why expect better?

Right now – I seem to explain everyone’s motivations with the darkest adjectives.  Every minor problem is just the first loose thread of an unraveling sweater.  Every cloud – a category five hurricane headed straight for my face.  My TEETH – actually.  My GOD – I have been having the most nightmarish monthly run of dental horror – I can’t even get into it.  Anyway – this isn’t ALWAYS the way (that I assume the grimmest outcomes & brace for disaster everywhere) but, lately, I really do seem to expect just the worst possible news from every possible source.  Coming home to a perfectly healthy, 4 year old dog – suddenly & inexplicably dead in his bed can really put the fear of God into you.  Nothing seems safe or stable after that.  So – I am writing off my bizarre conclusion at the Serving Spoon that way – the culmination of a seemingly endless run of bad luck.

And since I mentioned him – here is my gorgeous Grisbi.  RIP – August 16, 2012.


But I digress –

Seated in a comfy booth, we were greeted by our waitress & a waiter brought us coffees.  My mother declared the coffee to be a mere 1 on a scale of 1-5.  I thought that was harsh & might have upped that to a 2 or 2.5 — but maybe that was just the gratitude talking – gratitude that we hadn’t been chased away by an angry mob calling us “crackers.”

🙂  If you can’t laugh at yourself….

My parents ordered eggs & some of the expected AM sides like grits and biscuits.  I had spied a plate go by that looked like THIS.


(photo stolen from HERE)

A whole fish on a plate with its battered tail curled up into the air like fried flag.  I knew what I was gonna get.

I ordered the fried catfish – the fillet, not the whole fish – with a side of collard greens and mac & cheese.  It took a while for the food to come but wowsa!  Was it worth it!  Everything was piping hot & fresh.  The mac & cheese was not mushy or bland, the greens weren’t mushy either nor the salt lick that they are at Roscoe’s.  And the catfish?  THICK, like a chicken breast, and the crust was so crispy & perfect – I was in heaven.   A little lemon on the fish & it was even better.  Really – truly outstanding.  Look at it!



Nothing had the slightest greasy element to it.  The cleanest, freshest soul food I have ever had.   NEVER go to Roscoe’s again – until you have tried this place.

Upon leaving, I asked my parents if The Serving Spoon had lived up to our hopes for a full blown 5-star rating and we agreed, unanimously, that it had.  I cannot recommend this place more highly!  Run, don’t walk.

ESPECIALLY if you are having a long run of bad luck (LIKE ME) and expecting nothing good (or worse) from everything in life (like I am).  Break the streak & treat yourself to the joy that is The Serving Spoon!

Oh!  And lastly – the music on The Serving Spoon’s website is YOU by Lucy Pearl (featuring Q-Tip & Snoop Dogg).  Video HERE.  Serving Spoon mentioned at 1:38.  Cool!

Me and nephew snoop was eating
At the serving spoon
And my partner skin it back
Was sitting with us too
And all of a sudden
Your body was inside
I couldn’t finish breakfast
Now something just aint right
Now snoop was looking like
What the hell is wrong with you
I said I know you understand
Youve been through a few
But this one is special
Special to me
Is it my imagination killing me

Macaroni & Cheese for Everyone You Know & Leftovers, too!

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

Last night – I had to feed a group of folks and I wasn’t certain of the head count.  One possibility was that 25+ people would show up & expect to leave full.  One reality is that I wanted to do this on a budget.  I ended up making etouffee, red beans and rice & mac-n-cheese.  This mac & cheese recipe produced a MASSIVE amount of decadent pasta.  I fed 18 people with it (remember there were other dishes served, too), sent several people home with some & still have more in the fridge that I will likely not get through.  It is pretty delicious, though.  Next time you have a lotta people to feed – consider this easy & cost effective recipe.


Macaroni & Cheese for Everyone You Know & Leftovers, too!



8 TBS flour

1 TBS dry mustard

1 TBS ground pepper

1 tsp cayenne pepper

4 tsp salt

8 TBS butter

2 bunches scallions, chopped

6 cups milk

6 cups (or more) grated cheddar cheese (or other cheese blend)

16 cups cooked pasta (about 3 or 4 lbs of dry pasta) – macaroni or shells or penne – your call

1 can Campbell’s Cream of Celery Soup

1 can Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese Soup

1 can diced green chiles

1 12 oz can sliced jalapenos (jarred always seem too salty for me) – CHOPPED

Several fresh jalapenos – seeded & sliced (optional)

1 pint sour cream (optional)

1 cup plain breadcrumbs (optional)

yellow food coloring (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the macaroni until just done.  Drain & set aside.

Combine flour, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper & dry mustard in a bowl.  Melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the chopped scallions & saute until soft.  Add the flour mixture & saute this paste a minute or two.  A little at a time – whisk in the milk.  The paste should become a thick, creamy stock.  Whisking all the milk in without making this blend too watery might take up to 10-15 minutes – so be patient – and stir constantly.  Once all the milk is absorbed & you have a thick sauce, remove this from the heat & stir in the cans of celery & cheddar soup, the green chiles & the chopped canned jalapenos.  Stir in all but a cup of the grated cheese.  Squeeze in some yellow food coloring – if you are using it – until the mix reaches the shade you feel best with.  Reserve a cup or two of this newly blended yellowy goodness & stir the rest in with the cooked pasta.  Grease your cooking container – whether you are using one or several casserole dishes.  I have this awesome 7 quart, Martha Stewart cast iron thing and I love it!  I got it on Ebay – cheap.  Anyway – this recipe made more mac & cheese than could fit in that – so I cooked the rest in a regular sized casserole dish.

Pour the mac & cheese blend into your casserole dish(es) and then pour the reserved melted cheese on top.  If it seems too dry for some reason – feel free to pour some extra milk over the whole thing.  Sprinkle the reserved cup of grated cheese on top & the bread crumbs.  Placed sliced, fresh jalapenos on the very top.  Bake this – COVERED – for 30 minutes or so at 350 & take it out of the oven.  If you want the bread crumbs browned – remove the cover about 10 minutes in.  I preferred that the mac & cheese not get too dry – but this is a personal call.

I added more diced jalapenos – both fresh & canned – but I like things spicy.  I also ground fresh pepper over it.  Let the mac & cheese sit for 5-10 minutes & then serve it.



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012