Tag Archives: Daiya

Hashbrowns the Second City Vegan Way

I use hashbrowns as a base for a meal on a regular basis. It’s something I learned from Nick. The neutrality of the potato allows for a wide variety of flavors to be added, as well as various vegetables, vegan meats, vegan cheeses, nuts, etc. This simple meal has taught me how to be a better cook by allowing me to experiment with a wide variety of spices, like cumin, chili powder, curry powder, paprika, etc. as well as whatever I happen to have in my fridge.


I always make sure I have a bag or two of frozen hashbrowns in my freezer. Today’s meal was made up of cauliflower, red and orange bell peppers, peas (frozen), nutritional yeast, Upton’s ground beef seitan, chili powder, flax powder (have to get those Omega 3s in there) and a little bit of olive oil and salt.

What I typically do is pour half a bag of hashbrowns into a pan coated in oil and place the heat on medium. Then I chop the veggies before adding them and stirring everything around to make sure everything has some oil on it, so nothing sticks to the pan. I don’t add spices until the end when most of the hashbrowns have browned because they absorb a lot of the oil. If you add them beforehand it’s not the end of the world though, just add a little more oil to keep things from sticking to the pan, don’t add water cause your potatoes will turn to mush. I typically also add nuts, daiya and hot peppers towards the end if I’m going to add them because burnt nuts can ruin a meal, spicy peppers heated for too long can become unbearably hot and Daiya can melt and stick to the pan instead of your food, which is a waste.

Do some experimenting of your own. It’s an easy meal, you can throw in pretty much anything you have in your fridge and more often than not you’ll be pleased by your results.

If you need more ideas try:

Southwestern Style: Hb’s, jalapenos, corn, peas, green onions, chorizo, flax powder, vegan cheese (the cheese can help cut the heat of peppers sometimes), and chili powder.

Indian Style: Hb’s, peas, cashews, garlic powder, cumin, curry powder and coriander powder.

Midwestern Style: Hb’s, broccoli, Daiya cheddar cheese, onion powder.

The possibilities are endless!


Melt Bar and Grilled – Lakewood, OH

Melt Bar and Grilled is a haven for those who love music and cheese, both vegan and not. Their walls are covered with movie and music memorabilia and the entrance and main counter have an awesome mural any fan of independent music can appreciate. As their name suggests, they offer a wide variety of melts, including The Kindergarten, which is simply a grilled cheese sandwich. Many of the sandwiches can be made vegan with either vegan cheddar or mozzarella cheese substitutes and you can add all sorts of toppings to them, from grilled veggies to fried tofu. They also offer soups and salads, which also include vegan options.

This was our second trip to Melt in Lakewood, Ohio. We’d originally planned on stopping in at The Flaming Ice Cube once again, because the last time we visited Melt, there was a long wait and we like supporting vegan businesses, but unfortunately The Flaming Ice Cube is closed on Sundays. When we got to Melt we were informed there was a 2 hour wait to dine in and a 45 minute wait for take-out, so we went the take-out route and ate in the car.

Both Nick and I got The Kindergarten, but with different toppings.

The Kindergarten

I am a big fan of grilled cheese sandwiches. They were one of the things I missed most when I first went vegan, until I discovered vegan cheeses that melt nicely, like Daiya, Ste Martaen and Tofutti. This sandwich is better than anything I’d ever make myself at home though. The bread was thick, and toasted just right (not too crunchy, not too soft and no burnt spots!). I got mine with mozzarella vegan cheese (I think they use Tofutti for the mozzarella, though they would neither confirm nor deny), tomato, grilled onions and grilled peppers. It was delicious! The only thing that would’ve made it better would be fresh avocado, which was on the menu of toppings, but is $1.50 extra and as much as I like avocado, I decided to skip it. The cheese was melted perfectly, my only complaint was that my grilled peppers were a little over cooked, so they didn’t add much flavor to the sandwich. The last time we visited Melt, I got The Kindergarten with the vegan cheddar cheese and tomato, it was better than my choice this time around, but both were worth the wait.

Cheesy Hash Browns

I eat hash browns as a meal on a regular basis. I recently made these for a pancake brunch.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium scallion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cups of hash browns
1 cup cheddar Daiya
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Pour the olive oil into a medium sized non-stick pan. Sautee scallion over medium heat, add green pepper and hash browns. Mix everything together, lower heat a little and let potatoes fry (the key to good hash browns is patience). Pour nutritional yeast and cheddar evenly over potatoes. Flip potatoes when they begin to brown on the bottom. Mix in cheese and nutritional yeast as you flip the potatoes. Wait until other side has browned. Add salt to taste.

Serves 4-6 people as a side dish or 2-3 people as a meal.

Pizza “Cookies”

I made these as a snack for a craft circle I held the day after Christmas. They were a big hit! Nick, named them “Pizza Cookies” because the crust is soft, as opposed to crunchy, so if you’d like pizza crackers I suggest you make the crust thinner than I did.

1 ball of pizza dough (I’ve been using Trader Joe’s pre-made vegan crust a lot lately)
1 cup marinara sauce
1 cup Daiya mozzarella
1/4 cup Upton’s Pepperoni, cubed

Roll out dough until it’s about 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut out 1 inch circles, place them on a cookie sheet. Spread marinara sauce in the center of the circle. Sprinkle on a little Daiya and add a couple of pieces of pepperoni. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes or until crust edges are tan.

Mista Pizza

I visited Mista Pizza last winter with a couple of friends. We’d heard through the Vegan Nerd Meetup that they had vegan options, so we decided to check it out. At the time most of their pizzas could be veganized by substituting Veganrella for whatever cheese was on the pizza. I’m not a huge fan of Veganrella and I wasn’t impressed, however, I recently heard they’d given up Veganrella in favor of Daiya, so Nick & I went to check it out again on Friday night.

Mista’s Broadway location is small and cozy. The man behind the counter was friendly when we walked in and he offered to answer any questions we might have about the menu, so we asked if they had vegan options. We were informed that most of the “Signature Pizzas” could be made vegan with Daiya (which unfortunately he said was soy based, even though it is not). Mista offers 10 signature pizzas and their menu informed us that most of their ingredients are organic, which I support. After perusing the menu and conferring with each other, Nick and I ordered a large (12-14 inch) “Florentine” which was topped with sauce, cheese, mushrooms, garlic and spinach.

Mista's Florentine Pizza

If you’ve never been to Mista you should be forewarned that they are home of the “cracker crust pizza” and they’re not kidding around. Their crusts are about as thick as a soda cracker, with moist centers and crispy edges. I, however, am a bread lover and enjoy thick crusts. As a whole, the “Florentine” was a tasty pizza. The ingredients were fresh, nothing was overcooked and the switch from Veganrella to Daiya is something I support wholeheartedly. However, a large pizza was not enough to satisfy both Nick & I and at $14 a pizza we weren’t about to get another one and since Mista doesn’t have anything else vegan on their menu (with the exception of a couple of salads, though most of those contained cheese and/or meat, as well), we opted to go somewhere else to satisfy our appetites.
I have yet to visit Ian’s Pizza in Wrigleyville (which has vegan options) and Delisi’s which offered deep dish vegan pizzas with faux meat & Teese seems to be gone for good, so my only point of comparison is Whole Foods Deli’s vegan pizza which I find to be a better bargain since 1) it has a thicker crust, 2) it’s roughly the same price and 3) they offer both Daiya and Upton’s as toppings and will top pizza with pretty much any faux meat you buy in store, plus you get to pick your own toppings!
But, if you find yourself in Andersonville or East Lakeview and you’re a fan of thin crusts/are looking for a snack, you should check Mista out.

Mista Pizza
2929 N Broadway or 5351 N Clark

Stuffed Crust Pizza

Stuffed Crust Pizza

2 tsp (1 envelope) dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp Olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried basil

In a large bowl sprinkle the yeast over 1/2 cup of warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then add the oil, garlic powder, dried basil and the rest of the warm water. In another bowl mix the flour and salt together. Gradually add the flour & salt mixture to the water & yeast mixture, stirring everything together with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough is formed. Using your hands finish blending the flour & salt mixture until the dough forms a ball. Knead the dough until it becomes elastic (roughly 5 minutes). Continue to knead the dough in the bowl adding water or flour as needed until the dough comes together in a soft, not sticky ball. Continue kneading for 15 minutes or so to increase dough’s elasticity.
Place the ball of dough into a medium mixing bowl lightly coated with olive oil. Coat the dough with the oil and cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and leave to rise for about an hour (the dough should be twice it’s size).
Punch the dough down and place it on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half and turn each ball inside out. Form two small smooth balls with no air pockets. Take each ball and rotate it clockwise. If you’re only making one pizza, wrap the other ball up and refrigerate it.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Place your palm in the center of the dough to flatten it. With a rolling pin roll the dough out into a circle from the center, working in a clockwise direction. Re-flour the surface as needed so the dough does not stick. Roll the dough so an inch to two inches hang off around the rim of your pan. Place the dough on your pan and add sauce and toppings to your pizza. Line the dough directly inside the rim of the pan with whatever cheese you’d like to fill the crust with, fold dough over the cheese, pressing the dough down so it sticks to the dough on the bottom of the pan.

6-8 Roma tomatoes
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 clove minced garlic

Dice 6-8 tomatoes and drain juice. Sautee garlic in olive oil in a medium frying pan. Add tomatoes and mash them with a potato masher. Allow sauce to simmer for a few minutes before pouring on pizza.

Ste Martaen Pepperjack cheese (in crust)
1/2 cup Daiya Mozzarella
1/2 cup Daiya cheddar
Upton’s bacon
1/2 Red Bell Pepper
(Of course, you can top the pizza with whatever you like. I like my friend Minku’s creation: Bananas and Upton’s bacon. It’s like a Hawaiian pizza, but better!)

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until edges of crust begin to brown.

If you divide the dough equally this recipe should make two medium pizzas.

*If you prefer not to make your own sauce you can use pizza sauce or pasta sauce.

Creamy Spinach Pesto

This recipe was inspired by a Spinach Pesto recipe my CSA sent out this fall. With a little tweaking I veganized the recipe and made it unique with a little experimentation. The cashews and coconut milk yogurt make this a slightly sweet and very creamy pesto. It’s great both on pasta and on bread.

1/4 cup toasted cashews*
2 slices crustless bread
2 cloves garlic, minced (I like things garlicky, if you’re not as big of a fan, use 1 clove)
3 handfuls of fresh spinach or 1/2 cup of cooked spinach
1/2 cup plain coconut milk yogurt
1/2 cup Daiya mozzarella
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Roast the cashews on a baking sheet at 350 F for about 10 minutes, making sure to turn them so they don’t burn. While the cashews are roasting cook spinach (I do this by cleaning the leaves, cutting off the stems and cooking the spinach in a frying pan with a little bit of water, over low heat making sure to fold it over frequently so it doesn’t stick to the pan). In a blender or food processor mix the bread, garlic and nuts. Add the yogurt, cheese, spinach and olive oil and blend until creamy.

Makes about 1 cup of pesto.

Eggplant Parmesan

Recently Nick and I joined Tomato Mountain Farm CSA based out of WI and we’ve been getting all sorts of awesome produce from them, including eggplants. Now eggplant isn’t something I’d normally buy because it’s not a vegetable I’m used to cooking with. However, since it was part of last week’s share I had to find something to do with it, so I decided to try to make my own eggplant parmesan. The eggplant was big enough to make two batches, so I made two separate sauces, one sweet and one savory. Try whichever one sounds better to you, or if you’re feeling adventurous and have the tomatoes on hand, try both.

Eggplant Parmesan



Sweet Sauce:
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium shallot, chopped
6 Roma tomatoes cut lengthwise and de-seeded
3 Juliet tomatoes, chopped
A handful of fresh basil
1/2 a red bell pepper chopped
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp Basil flakes
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion powder
Olive Oil

Savory Sauce:
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lg green onion, finely chopped
6 Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise and de-seeded
1 large slicer tomato, chopped
1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped
A handful of fresh basil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Olive oil

The process for making both sauces was fairly similar, check parentheses for variations.

Coat the bottom of a medium sauce pan with olive oil. Add garlic and onion (savory)/shallot (sweet) and sauté until translucent over low heat. Add in red pepper and tomatoes and stir occasionally until sauce begins to simmer. Add spices and basil, stir. Cover sauce and allow to simmer for 15-20 min, checking on it occasionally, until the tomatoes are no longer chunky and the mix looks like pasta sauce.

Note: The savory sauce will be runnier than the sweet sauce. Each sauce recipe makes enough for one
casserole dish of Eggplant Parmesan, so plan accordingly. All vegetables used were from Tomato Mountain CSA!


1 medium eggplant (roughly the size of a softball – makes enough for 2 casserole dishes/ 6-8 people, if you want less use a smaller eggplant)
Olive oil
1 C Daiya Mozzarella
3/4 C vegan Parmesan (I use Galaxy Nutritional Food’s Vegan Grated Topping)
1/4 C Flour
1/4 C Cornmeal
Pasta or rice

Preheat oven to: 400 F

Wash the outside of the eggplant, cut the top off and cut the eggplant down the middle lengthwise. Cut each half into half inch strips lengthwise. Spread out on a plate or paper towel and lightly coat with salt. Allow to stand for 10 min. While you wait pour olive oil into a medium sized frying pan and turn on low-med heat. Take a piece of eggplant and rinse in cold water (it’s ok if the salt rinses off). Mix flour and cornmeal together in a bowl, coat eggplant in the mixture and fry until brown on both sides (I have a big frying pan set up for this so I can do multiple pieces at once, making the whole process quicker.)

While your eggplant is frying, pour a layer of sauce in the bottom of a 8×8 casserole dish. As your pieces of eggplant are ready, lay them over the sauce. Once the bottom of the dish is covered with eggplant, spread a handful of Daiya mozzarella over the eggplant and sprinkle on some vegan Parmesan. Add another layer of sauce and repeat until you run out of sauce/eggplant.

Place casserole dish in oven for 30-35 min.

Serve over rice or pasta.

Note: Medium eggplant makes enough for 2 casserole dishes. Each casserole dish is enough to serve 3-4 people.

Vegan Alfredo

Thanks to the Chicago Vegan Co-Op I’ve been able to purchase large quantities of Daiya for less than what I’d pay at Whole Foods AND thanks to Tomato Mountain Farm I now have a CSA hookup for all sorts of veggies and I got my first delivery today! Therefore, despite the fact that it’s currently 91 degrees in my apartment I decided to do some experimenting and here’s what I came up with.

Alfredo Sauce:

¼ c Tofutti sour cream
3 Tbs Earth Balance
¼ c water
½ c Original Unsweetened Almond Dream
1 c Daiya Mozzarella
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp vegan parmesan
1/2 tsp black pepper

Combine sour cream, Earth Balance, water and Almond Dream in a saucepan over low heat and stir together until margarine melts. Once margarine has melted add Daiya, garlic, vegan parmesan and black pepper, stir until creamy.

The Rest:

1 small red pepper, chopped (from Tomato Mountain CSA!)
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1 handful of basil (from our “garden”)
1 Tbs Olive Oil
2 cups of pasta

In another saucepan prepare your pasta as directed on package. Pour olive oil into a small frying pan and add red pepper and broccoli. Sautee until peppers begin to brown. Turn heat down and add basil until all is browned.

Makes enough for 2-3 servings.

News & Events

My apologies for the lack of activity on here as of late, but I recently moved and have been busy working on setting up a Chicago Vegan Buying Club with some of our other collaborators (more info to come).

-For those of you who haven’t heard Daiya vegan cheese is now available at Whole Foods! Check out the vegan mac & cheese we posted a while back if you’re looking for something delicious to make with it!

-Thanks to a tweet from the people at Vegan Chicago we’ve added a new restaurant to our list. Rockin’ Tacos (1467 W. Irving Park, 773-975-8226) on the North side offers vegan options which are affordable enough that I should be able to try them in the near future. Super stoked to try Tofu Al Pastor!


Chicago Vegan Mania Spring Shindig Fundraiser, Saturday, April 10 7pm, Framing Mode Gallery, 1526 S. Wabash

Featuring vegan treats, complimentary spirits, silent auction, DJ Veganinblack, plus more to come from local cruelty-free vendors! Tix are $35 advance, $40 door. For more info. & tix:http://www.chicagoveganmania.com

Dunkin’ Cruelty Feed-In, April 17 10am, Clark & Belmont Dunkin’ Donuts

MFA & Compassion Over Killing are teaming up to hand out free vegan donuts & breakfast foods. For more info:http://www.mercyforanimals.org/events

Vegan On Tap @ Vegan Gallery, April 17 at 7pm, 4645 N. Rockwell

Featuring art from 7 local artists, $1 drinks and free food samples from Posh Nosh! For more info: http://www.veganchicago.com