Daiya “Cutting Board Collection” Dairy-Free Cheeze Shreds


I recently posted my recipe for Dairy-Free Chicken Curry Pizza, which uses Daiya Mozzarella Cutting Board Shreds. Having liked the mozzarella, I decided to try another shredded “cheeze” from Daiya’s Cutting Board Collection: the Pepperjack Cutting Board Shreds.

Success! This dairy-free cheese melts beautifully and doesn’t have a weird aftertaste. It works perfectly in Mexican-inspired dishes like Skillet Taco Pie, a deconstructed crispy taco that is one of my go-to weeknight recipes because it’s quick and easy. (Stay tuned… I’ll post that recipe soon.)

Skillet Taco Pie with Daiya Pepperjack mixed into the meat.

This dairy-free pepperjack is also great in omelets and scrambled eggs. It has a nice stretchy texture and just a hint of sharpness and spiciness that gives the eggs some pizazz. Add some salsa and you’re good to go.


Getting the pepperjack this weekend was perfect timing because the Super Bowl happened yesterday… and we all know that the Super Bowl is just an excuse to eat your weight in guacamole. I used the Daiya pepperjack to make Kalua Pig Quesadillas.

If you’ve never had Kalua pig, it’s like carnitas but moister. And it’s incredibly easy to make: You simply rub a pork shoulder with minced garlic and Hawaiian Alaea sea salt and cook it on low for nine hours in a Crock-Pot lined with three strips of raw bacon. When it’s done, shred the meat, and you’ve got the basis for all kinds of pork-centric entrees.

Now, I’ve actually eaten quesadillas without cheese — if the meat is flavorful enough, it can be done — but I have to admit that quesadillas without cheese are a little sad, not to mention structurally unsound because there’s nothing to hold them together. The Daiya pepperjack was the answer to my quesadilla woes.

Forgot to include the giant mound of guacamole in this photo.

Keep in mind that this stuff isn’t good for snacking straight out of the bag. When I tried that, the texture made it obvious that it wasn’t real cheese. You must melt it. The application of heat is the key to its success.

My love-hate relationship with Daiya products is on a upswing with this Cutting Board Collection. If they can get these vegan cheese shreds right, maybe there’s hope for their vegan cream cheese.


Shakshouka (Poached Eggs in Spicy Tomato & Pepper Stew)


Shakshouka is a dish of eggs poached in a stew of tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions, spiced with cumin and coriander. It originated in North Africa, but is also popular in the Middle East. I tried shakshouka for the first time a few months ago while having breakfast at a Mediterranean restaurant in New York. I was instantly hooked — I love breakfast, and I especially love a spicy breakfast.

Best of all, shakshouka contains no lactose. If you’re dairy-free or trying to go dairy-free, you can safely add this recipe to your breakfast repertoire. It’s also vegetarian, and if you eat it without pita bread, it’s Paleo, too.

I adapted this recipe from an old vegetarian cookbook. You can do your own variations, but for the heat I recommend using harissa, a Moroccan chile pepper paste that you can find at Middle Eastern grocery stores or Cost Plus World Market.


Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

1 red bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon harissa (or hot sauce to taste)
2 cups diced tomatoes (canned is fine)
4 eggs
minced fresh parsley (optional)
4 slices pita bread (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roast the bell pepper for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it starts to soften and collapse. Transfer the bell pepper to a bowl and cover it with a towel, letting the pepper steam for 10 minutes. When it’s cool enough to handle, remove the peel and slice the pepper into thin strips, discarding the seeds.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, and harissa; cook, stirring, for one minute. Stir in tomatoes, sliced bell pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

If serving right away: Make four evenly spaced indentations in the stew and crack one egg into each hollow. Cover the skillet and gently cook for several more minutes until the whites are set and yolks are soft-cooked. Transfer to shallow bowls. Sprinkle with parsley.

If making ahead of time: Let the stew cool, transfer it to an airtight container, and refrigerate until needed. In the morning, heat a portion of the stew in a small pan. Make an indentation in the center, crack an egg into it, cover the pan, and cook until the white is set and the yolk is soft-cooked. Transfer to a shallow bowl. Sprinkle with parsley.

Serve with warm pita bread. Makes 4 servings.

Ratatouille with Poached Egg


The fourth installment of my Dairy-Free Breakfast Series is inspired by my favorite dish at a now-defunct café in New York’s Greenwich Village. The dish, named Oeufs Gamins, consisted of a poached egg atop a crispy potato pancake infused with goat cheese and surrounded by roasted ratatouille. This gorgeous concoction was the perfect hangover cure, served by French expat servers who acted like they couldn’t care less about you. So Français!

I’ve recreated this dish without the potato pancake (too much work) and the goat cheese (too much dairy). Although I will always treasure the memory of the starchy, cheesy Oeuf Gamins, the one I make now is healthier and just as tasty. It’s a great way to fill up on vegetables first thing in the morning. Because they’re caramelized, they taste wonderfully sweet. And don’t be afraid of poaching eggs — it’s easy once you get the hang of it.


1 yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch half moons
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
8 ounces eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
8 ounces zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks, squeezed and drained
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
splash of white vinegar
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

To make the ratatouille: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, toss the onion, bell pepper, eggplant, zucchini, garlic, olive oil, rosemary, and salt until well mixed. Spread the vegetables evenly in a baking pan. (They will shrink as they cook.)

Roast the vegetables for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Stir in the tomatoes and continue to roast for 30 more minutes, again stirring halfway through. When the vegetables are browned and caramelized, remove them from the oven and stir in the basil.

Store the ratatouille in an air-tight container in the fridge. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

To poach an egg: Fill a small pot with about an inch of water, add a splash of white vinegar, and bring it to a boil. Crack the egg into a small cup or ramekin. Turn the heat down to a simmer and gently pour the egg into the water. Let it cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the white is just set. (The yolk should still be runny.)

Meanwhile, heat up a serving of ratatouille in the microwave. When the egg is done, lift it out of the water with a slotted spoon and place it atop the ratatouille. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


The Slut (Coddled Egg & Mashed Potato)

“The Slut” from Eggslut in Venice, CA.

Welcome to Week 2 of my Dairy-Free Breakfast Series! This week I’m going to tell you how to make “The Slut,” the signature dish at L.A.’s popular breakfast joint, Eggslut. It’s a coddled egg over super-smooth mashed potatoes, poached in a little glass jar and topped with minced chives and a generous sprinkling of coarse sea salt. It’s served with toasted baguette slices drizzled with olive oil. Yeah, it’s as good as it sounds.

The best part is it’s easy (and much cheaper) to make at home, especially if you have leftover mashed potatoes lying around. All you need is a small glass jar with a lid and a large pot full of water.

Here’s how my homemade version turned out.

I didn’t have any bread, so I ate it with a side of bacon.

For the best results, use really smooth mashed potatoes. You can see my recipe for Milk-Free Mashed Potatoes here. Also, keep an eye on your egg. Some people like their eggs more well-done than others. The rate at which your egg cooks can vary a lot depending on several factors.

Have a slutty morning!


1/2 cup mashed potatoes
1 egg
minced chives, to garnish
coarse sea salt, to taste
3 slices toasted baguette
olive oil

Fill a large pot with water, making sure there’s enough to cover the glass jar you’re using. Bring the water to a boil on the stove.

If you’re starting with cold mashed potatoes, heat them up first. Place the warm mashed potatoes at the bottom of a small glass jar (a jelly jar works great). Crack the egg on top of the mashed potatoes. Screw the lid onto the jar.

Turn the heat down to medium-low so that the water is simmering gently. Using tongs, carefully lower the lidded jar into the water. Cover the pot and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the egg white is no longer clear but the egg is still jiggly.

Remove the jar from the water. Wearing heat-proof gloves, carefully unscrew the lid. Garnish with chives and sea salt. Spoon your Slut onto baguette slices drizzled with olive oil. Makes one serving.


Easy Dairy-Free Huevos Rancheros


I’m a big fan of breakfast. It’s my favorite meal of the day. But breakfast can get boring if you tend to eat the same thing every morning. It can also be daunting if you’re trying to go dairy-free and you’re used to eating things like cereal with cow’s milk or bagels with cream cheese.

So for all of you breakfast eaters who need some dairy-free inspiration, I welcome you to the first post of my Dairy-Free Breakfast Series!

Just to clarify, I don’t consider eggs to be dairy, since my dietary restriction is lactose. I love eggs and they are the staple of my breakfasts. They’re a great source of protein, and if I don’t have protein at the start of my day, I can barely function.

Today I’d like to share a ridiculously easy recipe for huevos rancheros that can be whipped up with stuff I usually have on hand. The photo above shows one I made using leftover homemade black bean chili, but you can use canned beans. I promise you won’t miss the cheese. There are enough strong flavors in this dish to make up for the lack of queso.

Cholula: Mexican food’s best friend. If you don’t have it, get some.


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup refried black beans (canned is fine)
1/4 cup salsa
Cholula or other hot sauce, to taste
2 teaspoons minced cilantro
tortilla chips
guacamole or sliced avocado (optional)

Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Crack the eggs into the pan, cover and cook for approximately 2 minutes, or until the whites cook through.

Meanwhile, heat the refried black beans in the microwave until hot.

Spread the warmed beans on a plate. Top with the fried eggs. While the pan is still hot, warm the salsa, seasoning it with Cholula to taste. Garnish the eggs with the salsa and minced cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips and, if you have it, guacamole or sliced avocado.

Makes one serving.

Egg-Lemon Soup (Avgolemono)


When I see a soup that looks like this, I usually assume it contains milk. But the creamy appearance of this delicious Greek dish actually comes from blended eggs — music to my ears because (1) there’s zero lactose in it and (2) I love eggs. This soup also contains a hefty amount of lemon juice, which gives it a wonderfully tart flavor. I’m a big fan of pairing chicken with lemon.

You can use leftover chicken, such as the scraps from a rotisserie chicken. Or you can cook raw chicken breasts or thighs by poaching them in water. Bring the water to a boil, then immediately turn the heat down to low and simmer for eight to ten minutes. Remove the chicken from the water and shred with two forks.

And by the way, you shouldn’t have to worry about salmonella from the eggs, since the liquid you add to the blender will be very hot. But if you’re really paranoid about raw eggs, this may not be the recipe for you.

For those of you who like to live on the edge, give this one a whirl!

Egg-Lemon Soup (Avgolemono) Recipe

Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything

3 pints chicken stock
1/2 cup orzo or other small pasta
1 carrot, peeled and sliced thinly
1 stalk celery, minced
sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 eggs
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
minced fresh parsley to garnish

Place the stock in a large pot and turn heat to medium-high. When it’s just about boiling, turn the heat down to medium so that it bubbles gently.

Stir in the orzo, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they are all tender, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the chicken. Turn heat to low.

Place the eggs in a blender and whir for 10 seconds; add the lemon juice and blend briefly. With the motor running, drizzle in about 1 cup of the hot soup. Pour this mixture back into the soup; stir and cook briefly, until the soup is slightly thickened. Do not boil.

Garnish with parsley and serve. Makes 6 servings.

Outpost Kitchen in Costa Mesa


My husband recently had a work conference in Irvine, so I tagged along to explore the O.C. Though the coast of Newport Beach is teeming with good restaurants, go a little inland and you’re surrounded by bad chains and fast food joints. After suffering through the sad breakfast buffet at our hotel, I was desperate just for a decent cup of coffee.

I found a place on Yelp called Outpost Kitchen, off the 55 freeway in Costa Mesa. It had four and a half stars, glowing reviews, and an interesting breakfast menu. And it was on my way down to the beach. Perfect.

I was confused at first by its location: a weirdly industrial neighborhood where you wouldn’t expect to find any restaurants. But there was something charming about Outpost Kitchen. First of all, they play records. That’s right, no Spotify playlists here. There’s a turntable right next to the cash register and a collection of vinyl that would make anyone who grew up in the ’70s and ’80s very happy.


I knew it was fate when I heard “White Boys Can’t Control It” coming from the speakers. Never heard of it? That’s because it’s a deep cut — we’re talking seriously deep — from Culture Club’s Kissing To Be Clever album.


Why was this so exciting to me? I was a huge Culture Club fan growing up. Actually, that’s such an understatement that I’ll just show you a picture to illustrate this.

Holding my Boy George Snoopy before going to a Culture Club concert in 1984.

But for those of you who don’t care about Culture Club or the other records in rotation at Outpost Kitchen, the food and drinks there are fabulous. What I love about their menu is they have many dairy-free choices, but you can still get meat and bread. A lot of places that cater to dairy-free eaters assume we’re all vegan and gluten-free. Not so.

One of their signature dishes is the Aussie Style Scramble. Fresh eggs scrambled with roast prosciutto and spinach, served atop a tangy tomato sauce, with a side of olive-oil infused toasted flatbread in lieu of toast. Oh my goodness. Apologies — it was so delicious I forgot to take a picture of it before I devoured it.

But the main reason I came back the very next day was because they made the best almond milk latte I have ever had. The coffee was strong and flavorful and not the least bit bitter. They use Four Barrel coffee, roasted in San Francisco. The almond milk, Califia Farms, was smooth, creamy, and didn’t have that cloying almond-y taste that many almond milks have.

And to top it off, each paper cup is branded with something funny.


The unfortunate footnote to this sublime coffee experience is that I subsequently discovered that almond milk — Califia Farms in particular — gives me gas. I put two and two together when I realized I was having terrible gas pains every time I drank it. But alas, this is how we learn what foods do and do not agree with our bodies. It’s a constant practice of awareness.

However, for those of you who can enjoy almond milk without problems, I heartily endorse Califia Farms for its exceptional taste and texture. And if you find yourself in Costa Mesa, Irvine, Newport Beach or the like, Outpost Kitchen is, as they say, the bomb.

OUTPOST KITCHEN, 1792 Monrovia Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

Dairy-Free Scrambled Eggs


I always thought you needed milk to make fluffy scrambled eggs. In fact, after I went dairy-free, I pretty much stopped making scrambled eggs because every time I did it without adding milk, they came out tough and heavy.

Well, here’s a secret for you: You don’t need milk to make great scrambled eggs. You just need the right technique. Here are some tips.

Beat It

Crack your eggs into a small bowl or a measuring cup and beat them vigorously with a fork. Really put some speed into it and try to whip as much air into the eggs as possible. This will break up the proteins which cause the eggs to be tough and stringy.

Add Salt Before Cooking

I used to think it didn’t matter whether you added salt before cooking or after. But it does. The salt, like the vigorous beating, helps break down the proteins. So add it early and don’t be afraid to let the beaten eggs sit for a few minutes before you cook them.

Use a Nonstick Pan

A few years ago I got paranoid about nonstick pans leaching toxic chemicals into my food. So I switched to stainless steel pans. Which are great — except when making scrambled eggs. No matter how much you lubricate the pan, once you start scrambling those eggs, they’ll stick like glue. You’ll lose half your eggs to the bottom of the pan, and you’ll spend half your morning scrubbing that pan. No fun.

Do yourself a favor and use a nonstick pan for scrambling eggs. I use a brand called Scanpan that’s supposed to be eco-friendly and nontoxic. Just make sure you don’t use metal utensils on it or you might scratch the coating. I find that a rubber spatula works best.

Never Use High Heat

Unlike fried eggs, scrambled eggs should never be cooked over high heat. Start warming your pan over medium heat. Once it’s hot, lube the pan. Butter gives the best flavor, but if you’re lactose-intolerant or vegan, you can use a butter substitute like Earth Balance. Don’t use olive oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, or coconut oil. All of those will impart a flavor that just isn’t right.

Keep ‘Em Moving

Once the butter is melted, tilt the pan to make sure it coats the bottom. Give your eggs another good whipping and then pour them into the pan. Immediately turn the heat down to low. Start scrambling the eggs with a spatula and don’t stop. Seriously, you can’t leave those eggs alone for a second or they’ll end up clumpy.

The eggs should be done almost instantly. When they’re mostly solid but still look a little wet, take the pan off the heat and scoop the eggs onto your plate — they’ll continue cooking on their own. Trust me, there’s nothing that can ruin breakfast like dry scrambled eggs.

Eat While Hot

This is probably the hardest part: timing your breakfast so that as soon as your eggs are done, you can sit down and enjoy them. Once they get cold, they’ll be far less appealing. So fix your coffee, make the bacon, toast your pastries, blend your smoothie, get your fork and napkin set up — then scramble your eggs. Do not attempt to multi-task while scrambling eggs. It’s a lightning-fast procedure that requires your full attention.

But when you give it that attention, you will be rewarded with fluffy, moist, beautiful scrambled eggs that contain no milk whatsoever.

Earth Balance Organic Whipped Buttery Spread


If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’m a fan of butter — it’s one of the few dairy products I still eat despite being lactose-intolerant. But lately my stomach hasn’t been happy, and one night after eating a piece of buttered toast, it really wasn’t happy. So I decided to experiment with trying a dairy-free alternative.

I first heard of Earth Balance when I was enjoying a delicious vegan cupcake at Big Sugar Bakeshop and asked what they used in place of butter. Earth Balance is made of vegetable oils, like margarine. But unlike traditional margarine, Earth Balance doesn’t use hydrogenated oils– you know, the “trans fats” that are so bad for you.


I bought the Organic Whipped Buttery Spread, since I mostly intended to use it on toast and other bread products. Indeed, as a spread, it works beautifully and tastes very much like butter, although a little less full and complex. It’s great for making garlic bread.

The label says you can also use it to fry, sauté, and bake. I haven’t used it to sauté or bake yet, but I have used it for frying eggs. Here’s a photo of a Dairy-Free Egg McMuffin I made. I toasted an English muffin and spread Earth Balance on it. Then I melted a slice of Go Veggie non-dairy cheese on one half. Inside the sandwich is an egg, fried over-easy in Earth Balance, and two breakfast sausage links.

Dairy-Free Egg McMuffin

This egg turned out pretty well compared to some of the others. The verdict: Butter works way better for frying. When Earth Balance melts in the pan, it becomes thin and acts pretty much like olive oil would. The result is that my eggs would usually stick to the pan and burn around the edges.

So I’m going to continue using Earth Balance for spreading, and stick (no pun intended) with butter for cooking. When I finally get around to making some baked goods with Earth Balance, I’ll post an update!

Go Veggie Lactose-Free Cheese Singles


I had called off the search for a dairy-free alternative to American cheese after I tried the one made by Follow Your Heart. But the other day when I was shopping at Ralphs — which doesn’t carry as many health foods as Whole Foods or Sprouts — I happened upon Go Veggie Lactose-Free Cheddar Style Singles. Although it says “cheddar” on the package, it’s more like American cheese — exactly like it, in fact. I have to say it’s as good as Follow Your Heart’s, even better in terms of how it melts.

The ultimate test for an American cheese is how it does in a grilled cheese sandwich. I’ll let these photos speak for themselves:


The cheese melts beautifully and has a smooth, gooey mouthfeel.

I also tried it mixed in with scrambled eggs. Again, the cheese melted perfectly.

Finally, I tried making nachos with it, the kind my brother and I used to make when we were kids. Every day after school, we’d spread a bunch of Doritos on a paper plate, lay a few slices of Kraft American cheese on top, and nuke it until the cheese bubbled. This time I used tortilla chips instead of Doritos, and Go Veggie slices instead of Kraft Singles. Voilá! Transported back to childhood — without the lactose.

After adding some salsa to this, it was a pretty rad snack.

The only downside to Go Veggie is that it contains a lot more ingredients than Follow Your Heart, some of which sound a little questionable. It also contains soy, which I usually avoid, but I was able to digest this cheese without a problem.


I also discovered upon researching Go Veggie that they make this cheese in a vegan version and a lactose- and soy-free version. The Ralphs I go to only had the lactose-free. But it’s encouraging to see mainstream grocery stores like Ralphs carrying any dairy-free alternatives.

Hey, in times like these, we’ve got to celebrate the little things.