I never really cared much for mozzarella. Even years before I went vegan, I ordered cheeseless pizza. Perhaps the shift in options since becoming vegan made me much more interested in finding the perfect pizza. Follow Your Heart has been a satisfactory -- sometimes mediocre, sometimes decent -- stand in for a number of years, but now there's a new non-dairy, soy-based, cheese-like product on the market from Chicago Soydairy.


So far it's standing up to its claims of superior melt-ability, and it's pretty darn tasty to boot. More flavor than FYH, but not in an overly cheesy way. I've wasted several blocks of FYH over the years from premature molding, so I'll be very happy if it stands up to its shelf life claims as well.

I look forward to seeing it becoming more accessible in the near future! In the meantime, you can order Teese via the website above, and please refer local restaurants to Teese as well!

Ice cream cupcakes

Ice cream and cake were made for each other. Your favorite cupcake recipes and ice cream flavors can easily be combined for some super tasty treats.

These mini cookies & cream bites are the basic chocolate cupcake recipe from VCTOTW. Once cooled, simply use a small knife to dig out a hole in the top of your cupcake. Using ice cream that has been sitting on the counter for about 10 minutes to soften, spoon a little bit into each cupcake and use the back of the spoon to smooth out the surface. Freeze for about an hour until set. (Handy note: Use your cupcake pan as a convenient holder for the filled cupcakes.)

Melt some chocolate chips in a double boiler, then dip the tops of your frozen cupcakes into the chocolate, and return to the freezer to set up again. They can be enjoyed straight from the freezer or allowed to soften up at room temperature for a couple minutes.

Regular-sized ice cream cupcakes can be made the same way, or alternatively, mix only a half batch of your cake recipe, and fill each cupcake liner half the normal amount. Once cooled, simply spoon softened ice cream to fill the rest of the cupcake liner, and use a knife to smooth the surface. Freeze until set and dip in chocolate as above.

These lemongrass cupcakes are layered with Coconut Craze ice cream and topped with a swirl of caramel before getting their chocolate cap. Get creative! Combine unexpected cake and ice cream flavors. Throw in your favorite sundae sauces and decorate the chocolate with your favorite toppings, like nuts or sprinkles.

Asparagus with black bean sauce

It's spring! Along with this killer sunshine, that also means asparagus, fresh from a local farm thanks to my CSA. This dish comes together very quickly, so don't be intimidated by those salty beans. Don't overcook your asparagus either!

Asparagus with black bean sauce, makes 2 servings
1 tbs. Chinese black beans
1/2 c. water

3 tbs. water
2 tbs. soy sauce (low sodium)
1 tsp. mirin (or other cooking rice wine)
1 tsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. canola oil
14-16 spears of asparagus, sliced on a bias (about 2 1/2 c.)
1 large clove of garlic, sliced
1 heaping tsp. fresh minced ginger

Chinese black beans are fermented soy beans that have been preserved in salt. They have a distinct, pungent flavor with a hint of bitter smokiness, and are incredibly salty. A quick soak in water, plus low sodium soy sauce and no additional salt, make this dish incredibly tasty while still being far less salty than anything you'd get in a restaurant.

You can find them packaged in vacuum-packed plastic bags at a Chinese grocer. Because of all of the salt, they will keep indefinitely in an airtight container in the fridge, so don't worry about trying to use it all up. A little goes a long way!

Soak the beans in a small bowl for 5-10 minutes with the 1/2 c. of water, then drain.
Use the back of a spoon to crush the beans just slightly, then stir in the water, soy sauce, mirin, agave, cornstarch, and pepper. Set aside.

In a very hot pan or wok, stir fry the asparagus, garlic, and ginger in the canola oil. It should only take a couple minutes until they turn bright green and are just tender.

Pour the sauce mixture over the asparagus and stir. Turn off the heat and continue to stir for about 30 more seconds until the sauce thickens. (If you're blessed with a gas range, unlike me, you can leave the heat on for a little longer while the sauce thickens. With electric ranges, or even with heavy bottomed pans, there should be enough residual heat to finish the sauce without overcooking the asparagus.)

Enjoy immediately!

Cupcakes really are taking over the world

These have been sprouting up all around in the town where I work.

Let's just pretend they're vegan.