Tag Archives: pasta

VEGAN Mac ‘n Cheese

Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese? Say what?!

I love real cheese and real Mac ‘n Cheese, so I’m only posting this recipe because it fooled me and tastes like the real deal. I’m not vegan, so pulling off a non-vegan recipe without it tasting fake is rather impressive. Since this dish leaves out the cheese (and we all know some of the best Mac ‘n Cheese calls for high-fat, high-caloric, and sometimes artificial flavors) it’s actually healthier than the original classic. Don’t worry, the flavor and texture of creamy cheesiness is still there!



  • 300g pasta – Penne or Fusilli works great instead of Elbow Macaroni
  • 350g (1 cup) chopped potatoes
  • 170g (1/2 cup) chopped onion
  • 170g (1/2 cup) chopped carrots
  • 1 cup water (use from pot of boiled veggies)
  • 230g (2/3 cup) raw cashews
  • 75g (1/3 cup) coconut milk
  • 2 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast (Hefeflocken in German, not to be confused with plain Hefe or Haferflocken)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt & pepper
  • couple dashes of cayenne pepper and paprika (optional)



  1. Soak cashews in hot water for minimum 1 hour.
  2. Boil and cook pasta until al dente in salted water (usually 6-8 minutes). Drain and set aside.
  3. Boil potatoes, onion, and carrots in a couple cups of water for about 10 minutes or until tender.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to place veggies in blender or food processor and add a cup of the boiled water they were in.
  5. Drain cashews and add them to blender.
  6. Add remaining ingredients, generous pinches of salt, pepper, and blend until smooth.
  7. Pour over pasta and enjoy!







Photo cred: Angela Joseph

Rome, Italy

“Mi scusi, mi scusi!”


“Buonissimo!”  (Italian words are so fun to say!)

My whole life, I had always wanted to visit Italy. From photos I had seen, to stuff on TV, to everything I had heard about Italy – I was fascinated by all of it. Something innate in me made the thought of its pasta, wine, historical & scenic views, and even the language feel comforting.

Then the idea of an Italian grandmother in the kitchen is something of its own. You can’t beat that kind of comfort. Although it might be stereotyping, I have no shame in believing that Italian families have it the best. I would love for my staple food to be pasta and for the weather to flourish vineyards. They also take things slow in Italy, unless you’re driving with them, which is when things can get crazy. Nonetheless, I finally got to experience the culture and visit Italy’s capital, Rome. For the four-day trip, I was accompanied by Bae, Becky, and Dan.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. The talk about adapting to local customs. I had no problem doing this there. I ate traditional Roman cuisine, and if it wasn’t for all the walking, I’d weigh 10 kilos more by now (that’s just over 22 pounds for my people back home). Cheeses, breads, meats… the epitome of foods which taste awesome but are terrible for you. That didn’t stop me from having Spaghetti alla Carbonara for 4 days straight.

Traditionally made with Guanciale (a salty, cured Italian meat from pork cheeks), eggs, pepper, and Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese.

One of the restaurants we ate at was called Trattoria Vecchia. They had a couple specials on the menu that got flambéd in either a Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese wheel. The cheese is smoothly melted and coats the pasta generously.

We prepared breakfast in our Airbnb apartment. A bakery down the street sold these cookies that Italians usually eat with coffee in the morning. These lemon ones were recommended. The center was chewy and it was perfectly sweet & tart.
Not the best photo but I couldn’t wait to dive into one restaurant’s homemade Tiramisu.

Many resources said to book tours in advance for attractions like the Vatican Museum. Glad we did this and got to pass the extremely long line for buying tickets at the door. I found out that the Vatican City was its own country and was heavily guarded. Made the whole experience feel very sacred.

The Vatican Museum was full of sculptures, paintings, tapestries, history, and biblical-everything. It felt like taking a walk through the bible.

St. Peter’s Cupola, the dome, was a trek. Never-ending stairs led us up to the very top, where we had a panoramic view of the Vatican City. The hallway of steps winding up the dome was extremely narrow. Claustrophobic for some, I imagined how awful it’d be for someone to get too tired and need to get back down. The humidity in some parts of the hallways were almost unbearable and it wasn’t even summer yet. Regardless, totally worth it when you get to the top.


After 4 hours of the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica, we had a late lunch of lasagna (Becky’s is pictured because again, I couldn’t wait to dig into mine) and pizza. This place had a slightly thicker pizza crust compared to another one we went to. Both kinds were good, even though I prefer the thicker crust. You know it’s good when you see those wood-fire oven marks.

The Colosseum was another attraction we booked in advance. Admittance to the highest level (the Belvedere) and the underground level was only possible with tour guides. Even though I tried booking about 2 months in advance, all the English tours were sold out so I had to book a tour in Italian. I learned that others have used this trick and it happened to work out.

This is now one of my favorite historical attractions I had ever been to. I envisioned how it would be in the past… walking in to be a part of the audience… to watch a show of gladiators and wild animals – man against beast. It probably would’ve been epic. The arena and the stone structures used to build it were of great magnitude.  It made me feel like a small spectator on the grounds of such a manly and ancient sport. The Colosseum, afterall, was the largest arena built in the world.

The Trevi Fountain was a charming feature. It was crowded (again, wasn’t even summer yet and look at all the people) but we had to partake in the tradition of tossing a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder. Some people would make a wish, while other rumors said this tradition guaranteed your return to Rome in the future. I read that at the end of each day, the coins were collected by the city and went to charity. Every single day turned up around €3000 in coins!


The Spanish Steps. Only named this because of its location near the Spanish Embassy. I didn’t think there was anything special about the steps but it made a nice resting point.

Pictured here is the bottom of the steps. It gets about 4 times higher, totalling 135 steps.
View from sitting on the Spanish Steps

Rome is a city that banned all euthanisation of animals. We visited a cat sanctuary that was on an ancient, sacred ground called Torre Argentina. It was actually where Julius Cesar got stabbed by his rival, Brutus.

There were around 150 cats and it was awesome to see that they were so well-cared for that they didn’t care to leave the premises. For 7 days a week, volunteers took care of them and helped put them up for adoption. Interesting that this photo doesn’t show any visible cats, but there were definitely tons of them upon entering the other side, where the adoption office was located. How cool is this site for cats to roam freely?


View from top of Castel Sant’Angelo
Rome was way greener than I expected!
Arc di Constantino and peak of the Palatine Hill as seen from top of the Colosseum
The Pantheon, a former Roman temple, is now a church

In conclusion, early May was an ideal time to visit. Less crowds, cheaper accommodations, and good weather (it rained hard for about an hour but was great otherwise – and the rain only called for another “Wine o’clock” as Becky would say). Speaking of wine, I never documented the different wines we tried, but I can safely say all the house wines were fantastic. You can’t expect less in Rome. The locals were so nice and I couldn’t get tired of hearing the language.

On our last day, we finally got to try some gelato. Creamy, rich, decadent. Great way to end the trip. Until next time, addio Roma!


Fettuccine Alfredo with Sausage & Bell Peppers

Mmm Creamy Alfredo sauce. My absolute gluttonous favorite. I would eat it everyday if it didn’t mean suffering the consequences. This version is paired with a sausage and bell pepper medley. Just because the Alfredo sauce is so creamy and flavorful with garlic, the sausage and bell peppers could be replaced with any meat and veggies. And this isn’t limited to Fettuccine pasta noodles either, try it on top of any pasta! It’s just THAT glorious.

Fun Fact: When choosing bell peppers at the market, think about what you’ll cook them with. Bell peppers with 3 bumps (or points) at the bottom, tend to be sweeter and keep their shape; great for eating raw or dipping in Ranch dressing. Bell peppers with 4 bumps are better for cooking and getting that nice, charred taste. To me, there’s not THAT much of a difference. Just cool to know.



  • 1 package Fettuccini pasta, boiled ‘al dente’ (“to a bite”, not too cooked and soft)
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons Flour
  • 4 tablespoons Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (not pictured)
  • 4 – 6 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • About 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream (1 med. container is fine) (Or milk)
  • About 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (a 5 oz. container will do)
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped length-wise
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped length-wise
  • 1 package of Smoked Sausage (about 1 pound)
  • About 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning (not pictured)
  • Optional: cilantro or parsley for garnish
  • Salt & Pepper

Boil pasta in large pot with a lot of water. (Read my “Boiling Pasta” post for great details on mastering al dente pasta. Unless you’re confident they’ll turn out great, the extra seconds to read it is well worth it.) Reserve about 1 cup of the starchy water and set aside. Drain and set aside.

Sauté the bell peppers and sausage in a little olive oil on medium-high heat. Add salt and pepper. They’re done when softened and charred around the edges. Set aside in separate bowl or container.



In the same and emptied pan, add the butter to make a roux (pronounced “rue”). After it melts, add equal parts flour, or a little less at first. Add more if you want it thicker. Turn up the heat a little. Stir constantly to prevent burning. Then add the minced garlic to slightly toast before pouring in heavy whipping cream. Keep stirring.


Turn the heat back down and add the parmesan cheese. This is the part where you add as much starchy water as you’d like from the pasta earlier. Season with salt and pepper, and Italian Seasoning. Taste the sauce at this point and see if it needs more seasoning.

Pour the Alfredo sauce over the pasta, and add the sausages and bell peppers. Depending on how large your pans are, I usually do this part in the same pot I used to boil the pasta.

Serve with garlic toast (See my “Seasoned Garlic Butter” post)

Recommended: Garnish with diced tomatoes and cilantro or parsley.