Thursday, October 23, 2014

Single-Serve Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chip Cake

Single-Serve Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chip Cake (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free, Paleo and Vegan)

Oy with the pumpkin already (anyone get that reference?). It's starting to be a problem. Not the pumpkin per se, but the pumpkin spice addiction. I wish I could say I could stop anytime I want, but that would be a bold faced lie. And make no mistake: it is the spice, not the pumpkin. 

Perhaps I will get kicked off the internet for this admission but the truth is that I don't love pumpkin. I appreciate its versatility and the health benefits it provides, but when was the last time you ate a scoop of pumpkin puree without any doctoring, etc? It's not terribly satisfying; kind of...vegetal. I much prefer spaghetti, butternut or even acorn squash on their own. 

But since pumpkin comes with its very own totally irresistible spice blend, it gets all the good publicity. And I have about a million cans of it in my pantry (what? you mean you don't stock up like you're rapidly approaching the pumpkin apocalypse every October?) so I am obligated, if by nothing else than the physical capacity of my pantry and the need to have other, non-pumpkin-food on hand, to put it in, if not everything, then at least come up with as many excuses as I can to use it. 

Single-Serve Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chip Cake (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free, Paleo and Vegan)

I can see no better way to use pumpkin-slash-anything than to use it to create a fresh, warm, gooey cake that is all for you. Is anyone out there starting to wonder what the deal is with my recent obsession with single-serve treats? (If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen a lot of them.) Besides the fact that they are just more exciting to eat, I live in a home where one of us bakes enough sweets to fortify a small army, and the other has almost no sweet tooth. I'll let you guess which is which. 

They say opposites attract, and I guess Bryan and I are evidence of that. This is my last week as a "single" woman (Single as in unmarried, of course) and, yes, I am marrying the guy who likes lemon more than chocolate, and cakey brownies more than fudgey ones. I'm pretty excited. More chocolate for me. But it's dangerous to have an entire cake in a house like ours, so single serve is the way to go. In addition to single-serve, other important criteria for these adorable little desserts are always simplicity, efficiency, and taste. In other words: make it quick, easy and tasty - and, of course, pack it full of pumpkin (spice) and chocolate. Do you have 5 minutes? Then you can have dessert!

Single-Serve Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chip Cake (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free, Paleo and Vegan)

Single-Serve Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chip Cake

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • Scant 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1/2 Tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon almond milk
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (substitute maple syrup if vegan)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1 Tablespoon dark chocolate chips (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 Tablespoon roughly chopped pecans (plus more for garnish)
Cooking Instructions:
  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, baking soda, pumpkin pie mix and salt. Add the coconut oil, almond milk and honey and mix to combine. 
  2. Whisk in the coconut flour vigorously until no clumps remain. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans.
  3. Pour batter into a small greased ramekin. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Carefully remove from the microwave (it is hot!) then let sit for 1-2 minutes before digging in. 

(1) If you want to make this into a mug cake, you'll probably want to double the recipe so that it fills the entire mug. You'll also want to increase the baking time.
(2) If you want this to be a little heartier, you can replace the coconut oil with 1 Tablespoon sunbutter, almond butter, or other mild-flavored nut butter (avoid peanut butter)
(3) Yield: 1 single-serve cake

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie

Paleo Chicken Pot Pie (Gluten and Dairy Free)

I didn't grow up in a pot pie family. In a health-conscious house, a creamy, buttery, meaty comfort food just wasn't on the menu. So, I really have no explanation for my recent obsession with this dish - though, of course, the one we have been eating is a version that I put a healthy, grain-free slant on. Why didn't I discover chicken pot pie sooner? It's a brilliant guise under which to clean out the produce drawer and it's full of fat, sweet green peas, which I kind of have a thing for. Plus, there are plenty of leftovers and, let me tell you, easy entrees that last for a few meals are pretty key right now (right, who are we kidding? Pretty key always). 

Paleo Chicken Pot Pie (Gluten and Dairy Free)

Don't be mistaken: even though it is a healthier version, it is still the warm, filling and flavorful dish that a pot pie is supposed to be. But instead of cream and butter, you get tons of flavor from one of my favorite spice mixes, herbs de Provence. It's not as soupy (though, if you want more gravy, you can easily adjust the recipe. There are instructions in the notes), but the filling is moist and satisfying and the crust is crispy and golden brown. 

Best of all, this is a quick and hearty dinner that can be prepared in advance and baked as soon as you get home from work for a delicious weeknight meal. 

PS: Don't worry; this is the last meat dish for awhile. We'll go back to desserts on Thursday!

Paleo Chicken Pot Pie (Gluten and Dairy Free)Paleo Chicken Pot Pie (Gluten and Dairy Free)

Paleo Chicken Pot Pie


For the crust
  • 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons coconut flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 Tablespoons very cold vegan butter
  • 1/2 cup vegan buttermilk (see note)

For the filling
  • 2 Tablespoons vegan butter or coconut oil
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1-1.5 lbs cooked chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 2 cups frozen green peas
  • 2 large red peppers, seeded and chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3/4 Tablespoon herbs de provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste (omit if your chicken stock is well-salted)
  • Almond milk or coconut milk (optional; see note)

Cooking Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. 
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the almond flour, coconut flour and salt with a few pulses. Then cut in the cold vegan butter by pulsing until it is mostly incorporated and only pea-sized pieces are left. Then, with the processor going, add the buttermilk in a thin stream until it comes together in a ball that is not too sticky. You may not need the entire 1/2 cup (I only used 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons). 
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface or piece of wax paper and roll out with a floured rolling pin (or cover another sheet of wax paper) into an 11" circle. Wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
  4. In a large, deep pan over medium high heat, melt the butter or oil and add the coconut flour and stir until the butter or oil is absorbed. It will be crumbly and dry. Let it toast for a minute or two until the color deepens slightly. 
  5. Add the vegetables and toss to combine and coat them with the coconut flour. Then add the chicken stock, herbs and spices. Cover and let it cook down until the vegetables are tender. Turn off the heat, add the chicken and toss to combine.  
  6. Transfer the filling into a 9" pie plate. It will seem like a lot but pack it in tight so it all fits. Cover the pie plate with the dough and seal around the edge of the pie plate (crimp or discard the excess). Carefully slice 4-6 vent cuts into the top of the crust, and brush the top with egg wash (1 beaten egg + 2 Tablespoons milk of choice) or oil.
  7. Bake for 35-45 minutes until top is golden and filling is bubbly.

(1) You can do a lot of this in advance, like preparing teh filling and making and dough for the crust. Store it all in the fridge and let the filling come to room temperature before rolling out the dough, topping it and baking.
(2) If you want more gravy in the filling, add 1/2 cup of almond or coconut milk when you add the chicken at the end.
(3) If you would like to make this vegan, replace the chicken with one can of chickpeas (rinsed and drained) and  brush or spray the top with oil, instead of using the egg wash, before baking.
(4) To make vegan buttermilk, gently stir 1 teaspoon of lemon juice into 1/2 cup almond milk and set aside for about 5 minutes to curdle slightly.
(5) Yield 1 x 9" pot pie

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Grain-Free Blondies

Does this blondie need much of an introduction? Has any blondie ever needed any sort of introduction? Doubtful. 

Ever since these cookies, I have had a hankering for grain-free blondies. Like the cookies, they are satisfyingly thick and pillowy soft, to the extent that biting into them is actually kind of relaxing in a really bizarro way. But they are even more moist than the cookies, if you had believe that. 

The extra moisture is thanks to the addition of sunflower butter (which, to the unfamiliar, is basically the equivalent of peanut butter, but sunflower seeds are pureed instead of peanuts), which I like to use as the base of these because peanut butter has too strong of a flavor and almonds, or rather their flour, are already pretty heavily represented in the ingredient list. 

Sun butter has a wonderful texture and one of the more neutral flavors of the nut/seed butters, in my opinion. It works perfectly as a base for a bar cookie. What's the catch, you ask? I wish I could tell you that there isn't one, but there is (it's a tiny one): Unlike peanuts or almonds, sunflower seeds contain an enzyme called chlorogenic acid, which reacts with baking soda and results in a greenish hue (source) after they have had a chance to sit for a little while. Luckily,  this recipe doesn't contain much sun butter or baking soda so the reaction is minimal - in fact, it looks like you mixed green sanding sugar into the batter - and it took about 12-24 hours to appear. You can see it in the photos below, if you look very closely. See? It's really no big deal. 

If it bothers you, you can swap in peanut or almond butter, or even cashew butter for extra super creaminess. But we ate them with the festive green flecks and were so distracted by the taste that we didn't even notice. In fact, it took me some time to convince the people who ate them that they were, indeed, "healthy". No one thought it was possible that these contain no flour, butter or sugar.

Don't believe me? Give them a try and see what you think!

Grain-Free Blondies
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  • 1 3/4 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sunbutter, almond butter, or your favorite nut or seed butter (see note)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla almond milk
  • Coconut sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Cooking Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 10.5" loaf pan and set aside. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, salt and baking soda. 
  3. In another bowl, beat the egg, and then stir in the vanilla, honey and almond milk until smooth and completely combined. 
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to completely combine. If you prefer a sweeter taste, add coconut sugar as desired.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and gently smooth into an even layer. The batter will be very thick, so be sure to work it into the corners, etc. 
  7. Bake for about 14-17 minutes and cool completely before slicing. (see note)

(1) After about a day, the baking soda begins to react with an enzyme called chlorogenic acid in the sun butter, resulting in tiny green flecks in the bars. It's actually sort of pretty, and looks like you stirred green sanding sugar into the blondies. But if that bothers you, simply replace the sun butter with peanut butter, almond butter or another favorite nut butter.

(2)  My batch was perfect after 15 minutes of baking time, but the tester did not come out entirely clean. That's because these continue to cook and firm up as they cool. I know it's a lot to ask but they have to cool to room temperature (or be chilled in the fridge) before slicing, or else they will totally fall apart. 

Yield: 8 large blondies or 16 blondie bites.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Vegan, Sugar-Free Pumpkin Spice Latte

You can always tell for sure that the seasons have changed, as opposed to just entering a cold snap, by one simple litmus test: where the cat sleeps. If it is still summer, no matter how cool the day and how aggressive the air conditioning, the cat avoids the bed like the plague. If, however, it is fall or winter, you'll be woken up several times throughout the night (if, that is, you sleep at all, but that's a discussion for another day) by paws in your face and a dense, furry body trying to burrow directly into your ribcage for warmth. And so, after a cold, sleepless undoubtedly-fall night of being pawed in the face and ribs, only the promise of a (homemade) pumpkin spice latte is consolation enough to expend the effort necessary to get out of bed and face the day.

Yeah, I know: everyone and their mother/brother/dog walker has their own "totally authentic you'll never know it's not from Starbucks so easy DIY pumpkin spice latte". Thankfully, this isn't one of those totes-easy-you'll-never-know copycat concoctions. You'll know. You should know. This one contains actual pumpkin and no sugar, instead of artificial-pumpkin-impersonator-sugar-slurry. Instead of being airy and heavy and milky, it's thick and spicy and silky and luxurious, like a morning pumpkin spice beverage should be but, in my experience, never really is when you get it at a coffee shop. 

The thing about a #PSL (as the kids call it) is that it needs no introduction of explanation, and is too easy, and too much better than the store-bought variety, not to make it at home. So, shall we? 

Pumpkin Spice Latte
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  • 3/4 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1-2 teaspoons espresso powder (see note)
  • Heaping 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup (or to taste)

Cooking Instructions:
  1. Dissolve the espresso powder into the almond milk and bring to a scald (tiny bubbles around the outer rim). Do not let boil.
  2. Whisk in the remaining ingredients.
  3. Serve immediately.
(1) I like strong coffee so I used 2 teaspoons of espresso powder, but you can use only one, or even a half, if you are more sensitive to caffeine. 
(2) If you don't have espresso powder, use 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee and reduce almond milk to 1/4 cup. Your latte will be a little thinner.
(3) Makes one large or two small lattes.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Turkey, Apple and Sage Meatballs

The theme of today's recipe is "using stuff up"*. Have a boatload of apples lying around from a successful trip to the apple orchard? Use one up! Can't figure out to do with the leftover majority of a bunch of sage you only needed 5 leaves of? Use it up! Needed half a pound of ground turkey but was forced by Costco's insane package sizes to actually buy 6 pounds, most of which is now languishing in your freezer? Use (some of) it up!

*which, hopefully, explains the rather unusual content. Meat on A Clean Bake? THE HUMANITY. Just go with me here...

Most "use it up" meals tend to be somewhat mismatched and potentially unappetizing, but this one, I can assure you, is neither of those things. The meatballs are moist and flavorful - and this is a testimony from a person who hates ground meat, so take it very seriously - with a crunchy pan-fried crust on the outside.

The spaghetti squash base is my own preference, but you can feel free to use whatever pasta/vegetable/starch base you prefer. Wheat or GF noodles, zoodles, mashed white or sweet potato or butternut squash, or even polenta would be an excellent base for this dish. Feel free to top it with whatever red sauce you have on hand if you prefer, though I found this to be quite good without being drenched in sauce.

Dinner is served!

Turkey, Apple and Sage Meatballs 
Print this

  • 1.5-2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 large apple, grated (about 1 cup, packed; peel if you prefer, but I didn't)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut flour
  • 2 lightly-packed Tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cooking Directions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the turkey, apple, onion, eggs, and coconut flour until combined. Then stir in the sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper until the flavors are evenly distributed. 
  2. Scoop into 3 Tablespoon balls and roll between your palms to smooth them out.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 and preheat a couple of Tablespoons of oil in an oven-safe skillet. Fry the meatballs, at least an inch apart, until the bottom is dark brown and crispy (about 3-5 minutes) and then flip and do the same on the other side. 
  4. Transfer the pan into the preheated oven and bake for 9-12 minutes until cooked through (no pink remains in the center). Mine were perfect at 10 minutes.
  5. Store cooked or uncooked meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. 
(1) Serve with whatever starch you prefer, but I like a spaghetti squash. I halve and microwave (covered) with 1-2 inches of water in the bottom of the bowl until fork tender. My squash was just over 3 lbs and took 20 minutes. Carefully remove it from the microwave, let cool slightly, scoop out the flesh (discarding the seeds) and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes to taste. 
(2) These are a great make-ahead option, as the prepared raw meatballs freeze extremely well. However, make sure to defrost them to room temperature before cooking. 
(3) Makes 20 meatballs

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Grain-Free Skillet Apple Pear Crisp (and A Taste of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin)

A few weeks ago, my wonderful friends whisked me away for a relaxing weekend in a quaint little lakeside town in Wisconsin called, fittingly, Lake Geneva. We sat outside, drank wine (Wisconsin has this thing for fruit wines, and you haven't lived until you have had the cranberry version), ate really well, drank some more, inhaled fudge and ... well you get the gist. A lot of eating, drinking, chatting and relaxing. And picture-taking, the spoils of which I will now subject you to*. Sorry.

*the recipe is at the bottom of the page, so feel free to scroll down if you don't want to read about apple picking in Wisconsin.

(Please don't be too jealous of my ability to take artistic photos from speeding cars. Thanks.)


The view from our room. It was pretty hard to leave.

And, of course, I dragged everyone to apple picking!
Wait. Isn't fresh-picked wine just grapes? I feel cheated.

I don't know about you, but most years, if I actually get around to organizing a trip to the apple orchard, it's on one of the last days of the season when the trees are barren and picked over, offering me little else than the unripe, undersized and - if you're particularly (un)lucky - insect-riddled seconds of the season.

But this year, as luck would have it, we happened to be in Wisconsin on the very first day that the apple orchards were open. The limbs of the trees were bowing with the weight of more voluptuous, juicy apples than they could seemingly handle, so we were happy to lighten their load. Since there were so many apples, and many of us, it only took about 10 minutes to fill our bag (even counting time spent taking selfies). Nonetheless, we felt so accomplished, even triumphant, that it was time for a snack.

You don't have to tell me twice.

I got home with a full stomach and a ton of apples so I made a crisp. Not a great story, I know, but it's kind of a great crisp. That's not just my opinion; I have it confirmed from multiple sources. So there: data. 

I had a few pears near the end of their lives that needed to be used up, so I used a mixture of fruit, but you can certainly use all apples, if you are lucky enough to have had a day at the orchard (or, you know, if they were on sale at the grocery store), or all pears if you accidentally bough too many from Costco, which was my predicament. I peeled the tough skin off of the apples and left the more delicate skin on the pears, but you don't have to peel whatever you don't want to or have time for. It's completely up to you. 

The rest kind of speaks for itself, and speaks so loudly and seductively that you should probably be prepared for this crisp not to last very long. Honestly, this recipe is so easy, flexible and forgiving that I have to insist you give it a try. 

Grain-Free Skillet Apple-Pear Crisp
Print this


For the filling
  • 2 ripe pears, cubed
  • 2 tart apples, peeled (optional) and cubed
  • 1/2 Tablespoon tapioca or arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch cardamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
For the crumble
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons honey or maple syrup

Cooking Instructions:
  1. Grease a small oven-safe skillet and preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, toss together the filling ingredients to make sure all the fruit is coated. Pour the fruit into the prepared skillet and smooth into an even layer.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, flour and salt, then stir in the coconut oil and honey until it comes together in a large ball of dough. Use your fingers to sprinkle large clumps of the dough over the fruit mixture.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes until the topping is golden and the fruit is bubbly around the edges.

Note: You can use all apples, all pears, or whatever stone fruits you'd like, as long as it amounts to about 3 heaping cups of cubed fruit.

Yield: One six-inch skillet crisp

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Baked Pumpkin Sage Macaroni and "Cheese"

In the interest of not exhausting the pumpkin thing long before even Halloween gets here, let alone Thanksgiving, I am trying to restrain myself. But it's hard. Maybe there is something to this whole mantra about eating seasonally because that's what your body craves or whatever. At least that is my story and I'm sticking to it, because I really want to eat all of the pumpkin I can get my hands on.

So original. I know.

But it's fall and that means football and tailgating, and, though I have only tailgated once or twice (Go Blue!) and I think the only food that was served went disturbingly quickly from freezer to microwave to soaking up the watery beer in my stomach, I hear that more adept tailgaters than I seem to take this very seriously. To those who love football (or at least tailgating) and love food, and may not be able to eat all of it indiscriminately, this one is for you: gluten-free, dairy-free mac and cheese. Er, "cheese".

Though it is still creamy and comforting, as any good mac and cheese should be, the baking process shores it up a bit so as to be more capable of being transported to a stadium parking lot and eaten in between keg stands. Or whatever you crazy kids do. But, if you want a more traditional mac & cheese dish, eliminate the eggs from the sauce and skip the baking process. Just fold the pasta into the (eggless) "cheese" and serve.

You can use any pasta you want, but I tried it with both gluten-free brown rice pasta from Trader Joe's and regular whole wheat, and I found the whole wheat seems to soak up a ton more moisture than the gluten free version, so it didn't end up with my preferred sauce-to-pasta ratio. Just fair warning. It works great with the gluten-free pasta (at least the variety I used).

The "cheese" is a combination of cashew cheese (which stood in for cream cheese here), nutritional yeast, which is a vegan powerhouse food that has a decidedly cheesy flavor, and of course, pumpkin, which lends moisture and texture and, of course, well, it's pumpkin.

Whether you're heading to a tailgate or just looking to spice up your bagged lunch routine, this comforting dish is just the ticket.

Baked Pumpkin Sage Macaroni & "Cheese"

  • 1 box (2.5-3 cups dry) gluten free pasta, cooked and drained (see note)
  • 1 cup whole unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree 
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons almond milk
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 5 large sage fresh sage leaves, minced

Cooking Directions: 
  1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain and set aside. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8"x8" (or equivalent) baking dish and set aside. 
  3. In a small bowl, cover the cashews with boiling water to about 1" above the cashews. Set aside to soak for a minimum of 30 minutes. Once they are softened and have absorbed some of the water, drain them, reserving the soaking liquid and puree them in a food processor with 2-3 T of the soaking liquid, or as much as it takes to create a smooth and creamy consistency, like hummus. Discard the unused soaking liquid.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cashew puree with the rest of the ingredients except the pasta and stir to thoroughly combine.
  5. Gently fold in the cooked pasta and mix until it is thoroughly coated and incorporated with the sauce.
  6. Pour the whole mixture into the prepared baking dish, smooth into an even layer, and bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is crisp. 
  7. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week and reheat before serving.

(1) I used Trader Joe's gluten-free brown rice fusilli. You can use any brand, grain or shape you want, but it might slightly change the texture of the final product. 
(2) You can substitute any other squash puree, such as butternut or acorn, if you prefer.
(3) If you want a more traditional mac & cheese dish, eliminate the eggs from the sauce and skip the baking process. Just fold the pasta into the (eggless) "cheese" and serve. 
(4) Yield: About 8 servings