Altering Vegan Food for Normal People

Once again, I present you with recipes. The food I’ve been making lately has been more than a little bit vegetarian and, more often than I would like, vegan. Here’s the thing though, I tend to take the vegetarian/vegan recipes and make them for normal people. Simple fact is, I’ve lived my whole life eating garbage. Typically, it’s expensive garbage (at least, over the long term). As a piece-of-shit nearly 40 year-old, I can’t keep eating like a 20 year-old. Fortunately, as a house spouse I have nothing but time to make something that doesn’t taste like paste and is easy to throw together.

For example, this was touted as ‘Naughty & Nice Vegan Enchilada Casserole. I kept it vegetarian, but I’ll be damned if I will put not-cheese into anything I cook.

Finished product for my first vegan-made-normal dish
Finished product for my first vegan-made-normal dish

Moving into a more meat inclusive realm, I recently made this Jamaican Chickpea Stew. Although I followed this recipe faithfully (except I removed the onion and thyme while adding a jar of capers), I realized that I could easily throw in some chicken and not really add any minutes to prep or cooking. Adding chicken (canned chicken) or cheese to these kind of recipes is my default.

Quinoa has become one of my favorite ingredients
Quinoa has become one of my favorite ingredients

Which is why the above pic of Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bites (if you click the link just ignore the painfully annoying blog post & just scroll down to the recipe at the bottom) is a nearly perfect storm–high protein, cheese, potent flavor, and quickly made. I like keeping canned chicken on hand for exactly these kind of recipes, but it’s difficult to really bypass cubed chicken tenderloin or chicken breast. Unfortunately, I detest handling meat, a fact that leads me to making things like Red Lentil & Squash Curry Stew.

A bag of lentils & a butternut squash
A bag of lentils & a butternut squash

This recipe called for red lentils; I had green but it all turned out (I also ditched the greens although I should have thrown in some baby spinach).

So what do we do now? Well, these recipes are all quick, easy, cheap, and healthy–the greatest qualities any recipe can possess–so we have to keep on in that vein. Merging my new love of quinoa with my Wisconsinite adoration of cheese and casseroles, I present to you Cheesy Quinoa Mac & Cheese (perhaps one of the dumbest names I’ve encountered). I have a rather large bottle of sriracha and it fits this dish perfectly.

Cheesy Quinoa Mac & Cheese

The finished product
The finished product


1.5 cups of quinoa

1 can of chicken (5 ounces)

broccoli (optional)

2 minced cloves of garlic (about two teaspoons)

2 eggs

cup of milk

at least 1.5 cups of shredded cheddar (I tend to bump this up to 2-2.5 cups)

2-4 tablespoons of sriracha (or a quarter cup)

optional–sprinkle panko for topping.



1. Briefly saute your veggies. In this case, it’s broccoli and garlic.

2. Cook the quinoa. I like using a rice cooker to do this.

3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter or spray your casserole dish, a 13×9 works best, make sure it’s relatively deep like an inch and a half or so.

4. Whisk eggs and milk in a large bowl. Throw in the quinoa, most of the cheese (you’ll want to have some cheese remaining to sprinkle on the top as it all bakes), sriracha, chicken, and veg and mix well. 

5. Pour into casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese or panko over the top and bake for 30-35 minutes. Once the cheese/panko is brown, it’s ready to be pulled out and serve.

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