Heavy Meals: Vegan Ricotta/Mushroom Stuffed Pasta Shells

1,425 calories


Despite my better judgement (and the fact that I need to lose 10lbs, STAT), I thought I’d experiment with some pasta.  Overall, the result was okay, but I don’t like pasta enough to not regret the calories.  No matter what you do to it, pasta + tomato sauce + cheese always tastes exactly the same.  Oh well, sometimes you do things just because you can.


Serves two people.  Preparation Time: About 1 hour.

Approximately 1,426 calories for 1/2 recipe.  Calories in the whole batch: 2,852.


Mixing Bowls, Spoons, Wooden Spoon, Knife, Cooking Pot, Medium-Sized Square Baking Pan, and an Oven.


  • 1 Box Large Pasta Shells
    + DaVinci Jumbo: 1,400 calories per container.
  • 1 Jar Pasta Sauce
    + Barilla Traditional Pasta Sauce: 350 for 2-1/2 cups.
  • 1 Tub Vegan Ricotta Cheese
    + Tofutti Better Than Ricotta Cheese: 800 calories for 2 cup.
  • ~1/2 Cup Vegan Mozzarella Cheese
    + Daiya Mozzarella Shreds: 180 calories for 1/4 container.
  • Vegetarian Parmesan Cheese
    + Go Veggie Grated Parmesan Style Topping: 92 calories for 1/5 container.
  • 2 Cups Diced Mushrooms: 30 calories.
  • Italian Seasoning


Step 1. Boil the large pasta shells in a pot of water until tender, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon.  Drain the pasta and set aside.

Step 2. Dice some stuffer mushrooms, about two or three cups worth.  You could also use spinach instead.

Step 3. In a bowl, mix the tub of ricotta cheese with the Parmesan topping to make the filling.  Stir in the diced mushrooms.

Step 4. Pour half of the pasta sauce into the baking pan.

Step 5. Stuff the pasta shells with the filing.  If you have any shells left over, just eat them separately or throw them in the pan with the stuffed ones.

Step 6. Place the stuffed shells in the sauce.  Pour the rest of the sauce over them and sprinkle with the mozzarella and some Italian seasoning.

Step 7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

External Content: Vegan Pumpkin Pie

I’m just never satisfied with vegan pumpkin pie recipes.  Every year I try a new one, and every year I’m unsatisfied with the chunks of tofu or whatever other gloop I use to try and simulate the texture of normal pies.

This recipe, however, is amazing.   I was skeptical at first, especially when I saw that it used cornstarch and maple syrup.  I thought it would turn out to be a maple-flavored mess with globs of cornstarch suspended in it.

20171014_223439 (1)

I had to eat my words, and the pie.  Like, the whole thing.

P.S. The recipe says to use a blender–not necessary.  Just stir it vigorously and it’ll be fine.

Baking: Glazed Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

485 calories

For the unmodified original recipe (i.e. how to make them properly and not the lazy way), go here


Makes 12 cinnamon rolls.  Preparation Time: About three hours.

Approximately 486 calories for 1/12 recipe.  Calories in the whole batch: 5,836.

Additional Nutrition Information (Per Serving)
Carbs 81g, Fat 18g, Protein 4g, Sodium 210mg, Sugar 54g


Mixing Bowls, Measuring Cups/Spoons, Wooden Spoon, Cooking Pot, Rolling Pin, Medium-Sized Square Baking Pan, Wax Paper, and an Oven.


  • 1/2 Cup Warm Water: 0 Calories
  • Approx. 3-1/2 Cups Flour
    + Great Value All-Purpose White Flour: 1,400 calories for 3 1/2 cups.
  • Approx. 3/4 Cup White Sugar: 580 calories
  • 2 Tbsp Light Brown Sugar: 113 calories
  • 2-1/2 Tbsp Powdered Sugar: 25 calories
  • Approx. 1-1/2 Cups Margarine
    + Earth Balance: 1,920 for 1-1/2 cups.
  • 1/2 Cup Nut Milk
    + Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Cashew Milk: 13 calories for 1/2 cup.
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Packet of Quick-Rise Yeast: About 21 calories.
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp Cinnamon: 25 calories.
  • Cooking Spray


Step 1. Gather your gun cleaning kit (responsible gun parents always keep their firearms sparkling clean) because baking is boring and you’ll need something to do while the dough rises.


Step 2. Warm the 1/2 cup of water and dissolve 1 tbsp of white sugar in it.  Sprinkle in the packet of yeast.  Let the yeast sit in the bowl for around 7 minutes until foamy.

Step 3. Mix 2 cups of flour in a bowl with 1/2 cup melted margarine, 1/2 cup nut milk, 1/3 cup sugar, and a tsp of salt.  Add the yeast mixture and stir until combined.

Step 4. Add the yeast mixture to the dough along with another 1/2 cup of flour.  Stir until combined.  It will be a sticky mess.

Step 5. Knead in additional flour until the dough is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky.  You’ll need to add quite a few handfuls.  Spray some cooking spray on to your hands if you want so that it won’t stick to you.

Step 6. Spray a bowl with cooking spray and insert doughball.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise about 1 hour until doubled.  Or, do what I did and make the dough, leave to eat dinner at a restaurant, and get back to the dough at some indeterminate time in the future.

Step 7. Make the pan sauce (see recipe below) and coat the bottom of your baking pan.

Step 8. Wash any gun oil off your hands and lay out some wax paper.  Sprinkle it with a light coating of flour. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it seems “big enough.”  The dough sheet should be vaguely rectangular in shape.

Step 9. Butter the surface with 1/4 cup melted margarine.

Step 10. Prepare your spice mix.  Add some cinnamon to some quantity of sugar, about 1-1/2 cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar.

Step 11. Sprinkle the sugar/spice mix over the buttered surface of the dough until it’s well-coated.  Avoid getting too much of it on the edges.

Step 12. Roll the dough up into a tube.  Start rolling at the shorter side of the rectangle.

Step 13. Cut the dough into 12 pieces.  You might want to cut the ends off and discard them so that all the rolls have nice, flat tops.  Put them in the baking pan spaced slightly apart.

Step 14. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 45 minutes in the oven with the light on (no heat).  Or, if you’ll be baking them tomorrow, put them in the fridge and take them out up to 18 hours later, then place them in the oven for 20 minutes with the light on, preheat, and proceed to the next step.

Step 15. Bake for about 27 minutes at 350 degrees F and remove when the rolls are golden brown in spots.  When they’re almost finished cooking, start preparing the glaze (see below).

Step 16. Remove the rolls from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Glaze or frost the rolls and serve.

Pan Sauce Recipe

  • 1/4 Cup Margarine
  • 2-1/2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Melt the butter in a pot, add a few spoonfuls of brown sugar.  Stir with a wooden spoon until it thickens.  Coat the bottom of the pan with the resulting syrup.

Glaze Recipe

  • 1/2 Cup Margarine
  • 2-3 Tbsp Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Melt the butter in a pot, add the vanilla and few spoonfuls of powdered sugar.  The less sugar, the more buttery the flavor.  Cook on high and stir until it becomes thick.  Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then drizzle on the rolls.


Baking: Leche Flan

300 calories

I recently learned this recipe from my Puerto Rican great aunt.  She’s completely nuts and yells at you if you’re standing idle in the kitchen while she’s cooking, but her culinary skills are on point.


Makes 1 large or several small custards.  Preparation time about an hour and forty-five minutes.

Approximately 292 calories for 1/12 recipe.  Calories in the whole batch: 3,500.

Additional Nutrition Information (Per Serving)
Carbs 41g, Fat 9g, Protein 10g, Sodium 120g, Sugar 41g


Measuring Cups/Spoons, Aluminum Pot, Wooden Spoon, Mixing Bowls, Whisk or Fork, Strainer, Bake-Safe Bowl, and an Oven.


Flan has two main components.  The first is the custard, the second is the layer of caramelized sugar.  They must be prepared separately.

To make the caramelized sugar topping:

  • 1 Cup Granulated White Sugar (774 Calories)
  • About 1/2 Cup Water

Pour the sugar and 1/4 cup water into a high-walled, aluminum pot.  Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and allow the sugar to brown.  You can stir occasionally with a wooden spoon or add more water if you need to.  Once the sugar has changed color, pour it in the bowl in which you intend to bake the flan.

Protip: Caramelized sugar is a pain to clean.  Boil some water in the dirtied pot to get the residue off the bottom.

Now you can make the custard.  You need:

  • 2 Cans Evaporated Milk
    + Coburn Farms Evaporated Milk: 960 calories for 24 oz.
  • 1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
    + Coburn Farms Sweetened Condensed Milk: 1,300 calories for 14 oz.
  • 6 Eggs (70 calories each.)
  • 1-2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt

Crack the eggs in a bowl and beat them with a fork.  Place a strainer over a mixing bowl and pour the egg slime into it to remove the fetus nubs (or whatever those stringy bits are).  Add the milk, vanilla, and a dash of salt.  Combine well and pour into the bake-safe, caramel-coated bowl.


Bake the flan for about 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Flip the contents of the bowl onto a plate and allow to cool.  Serve warm, or refrigerate for a few hours and serve cold.  Don’t forget to drizzle the slices with the sugar syrup.

Baking: Vegan Chocolate

681 calories


You learn a lot about the food you eat when you make it yourself. In particular, you get a sense for the constituent parts of any dish (rather than viewing it as a whole).  That tasty cake you’re eating?  It’s just flour, oil, and sugar.  That muffin, loaf of bread, or cookie?  Same thing.  In fact, almost everything we eat is the same handful of ingredients arranged in slightly different ways.  Food is not actually more than the sum of its parts, is what I’m saying.

The takeaway is this: if you cook, you become more conscious about food.  Really conscious.  I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing, but I’m not one to shy away from cold, harsh truths.  I honestly think, as obvious as it may seem, that the apparent “diversity” of food is an illusion is a reality most people miss–especially if all you eat is processed junk (soy and corn, corn and soy, more soy and corn).

Chocolate is a great example of this.  I’ve always wondered why it’s so high in calories.  I mean, it’s just cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and sugar.  But, what is cocoa butter, fundamentally?

Solid at room temperature, but oil nonetheless.

It’s oil.  You’re eating sugar and cocoa powder suspended in oil.

Well, let’s make some chocolate!

Nutrition Information (Entire Base Recipe)

Calories (681), Carbs (54g), Fat (58g), Protein (8g), Sodium (0g), Sugar (29g)

Ingredients: Cocoa butter (4 Tbsp), cocoa powder (1/2 Cup), confectioner’s sugar (1/4 Cup).

Preparation: Heat the cocoa butter in a saucepan until it melts.  Add the other stuff.  Stir.  Pour into container of some kind.  Let harden in fridge.  Done.

That’s really all there is to it.  Chocolate has this reputation of being a finicky luxury item.  Maybe it is if you want like, silky smooth tempered milk chocolate.  I’m not so refined, which is good because I’m also extremely sloppy and lazy.

Now, me being completely unable to follow even the simplest of instructions, here’s how I actually made the chocolates.  I dumped a random amount of cocoa butter into the pot, eyeballed the sugar, and threw in enough Hershey’s cocoa powder until the turned dark brown.  Then I stirred and added more crap until the chocolate was kinda thick.  Then I poured the goop into silicone moulds I bought off Amazon for five bucks and let it set in the fridge.  Some of the moulds had coconut shavings in them (because I can).


Anti-climatic, right?  Exactly my point.  Also, now that I’ve made chocolate, I don’t want to eat it.  Especially because I hate Hershey’s.  Ugh, this is like the Injera Incident all over again.