Guilty Pleasures, Recreated

One of my pre-vegetarian-guilty-pleasures in NYC was S’Mac, painfully located just a few blocks from my Alphabet City apartment. It actually should have been more dangerous than it was, but thankfully there’s only so much mac and cheese, no matter how delicious, a body can handle. I certainly pushed those limits in undergrad, though.

S’Mac’s M.O. is gourmet mac and cheese, baked to-order and mixed with basically anything you could ask for. It’s changed a lot since I’ve been there [it’s been years] – they now offer whole-grain macaroni, vegan mac and cheese bakes, and gluten-free options. My absolute favorite dish, for some reason, wasn’t the one with the figs, or the one with the manchego, or one of the other creative ones. It was the cheeseburger macaroni. Seasoned ground beef, cheddar and american cheeses, and the kicker: a bit of ketchup and yellow mustard swirled right in. It was really, really tasty.

I don’t know what reminded me of this dish so many years later, but I suddenly wanted to recreate it. Actually, I do know. I think about mac and cheese a lot. Mac and cheese is really good. I’m in a constant cycle of thinking about mac and cheese, craving it, and then hating my tanked metabolism for not allowing me room for it. The solution? Manipulating those flavors in another dish.

I don’t really know how I got the idea to make a cheeseburger egg bake, because as I write this it actually sounds kind of disgusting. It’s not, I promise. I know wanted to make a quiche, but Shaun doesn’t like quiches. I also eat a lot of pickles, so maybe I was thinking about picnic food as I snacked on pickles. Don’t worry, there are no pickles in this. But somewhere in that mess of ideas, S’Mac appeared to me [probably in a dream about mac and cheese], blew up my mind, and a savory egg bake emerged from the rubble.

part I.

The base was sauteed mushrooms and onions [that’s what I love on a burger], soy “ground beef” seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper, and then drizzles of ketchup and yellow mustard. I just put the condiments in a tiny Ziploc bag and swirled it like those toaster strudel things [remember, remember?].

step 2.

Then, egg whites are whisked with vegan cheese, poured over, and the whole thing is baked for a while. It actually took a while to bake measly egg whites – maybe 25-30 minutes when all was said and done.

And there you have it. I really think it’s the ketchup and mustard that does the trick. Nothing beats those flavors sometimes. It’s like a cheeseburger, without the cholesterol and carbs. I of course had to put pickles in somehow.

spinach salad.


Craving satisfied. No need to drive all the way to NYC for mac and cheese… this week.

“Cheeseburger” Egg Bake (Vegetarian)

Prep Time: 30-35 minutes

Serves: 2


  • 2 servings of soy meat crumbles (I used Lightlife)
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • ~ 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 1/3 cup vegan cheddar cheese, divided
  • 8 egg whites (or 4 eggs)
  • Ketchup and mustard, with ziploc bags
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: bread crumbs might be nice!


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a saute pan, cook two cloves of garlic with the onion and a teaspoon of oil until softened. Add the mushrooms and a splash of water.

3. In a second saute pan, cook two more cloves of garlic with the soy meat, and salt and pepper. You can also do this in one pan, but the cooking times of the onion/mushroom/soy meat vary. Spread the soy meat, and mushroom/onion blend onto the bottom of a baking dish (lightly greased).

4. Using a ziploc bag with a tiny hole cut out, drizzle ketchup and mustard over the meat and vegetables.

5. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites, 1/4 cup of the cheese and (optional) a splash of milk. Pour the mixture over the meat and spread evenly. Garnish with remainder of cheese, salt and pepper, and (optional) bread crumbs.

6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. I’m convinced our oven kind of sucks, so it could take much less time, closer to 18-20 minutes. Keep an eye on it!


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Categories: Food, Recipes


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: Tumblr:


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3 Comments on “Guilty Pleasures, Recreated”

  1. Laura McDonald
    January 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    Do you think you could be craving mac’n’cheese because of the cover to the recent Veg Times? I made the cauliflower and cheese pictured this week, though I kept calling it “mac’n’cheese cauliflower,” to which David would ask if there was any pasta in it. His sad face at my answer almost made me give up. Ultimately, it was pretty good. The roux base was a little off, in my opinion (I thought roux, by definition, was equal parts butter and flour?) so the cheese was less than creamy, but I felt like I was both indulging and being healthy at the same time – who doesn’t like that?

    • January 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

      I’m glad you reviewed that recipe because it’s been on my short list for a while! I LOVE cauliflower, but you’re right, the ingredients did seem a little off. Maybe I’ll give it a try soon and see how it turns out, but I’m sure like David, Shaun will miss the pasta 🙂


  1. The Best of All Worlds | Ryes and 'Shine - January 23, 2012

    […] life. What’s better to warm up with on a cold, boring night than soup? I know, homemade mac and cheese. No wait, I’m thinking soup. WHY NOT MAKE BOTH: Skinny Macaroni and Cheese Soup, from Gina at […]

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