Fun with Daiya, a Confession, and a Giveaway!

I recently had a chance to have some fun in the kitchen with the king of Vegan Cheeseland, Daiya.  [Disclosure: Daiya Foods provided me with free product vouchers, which I used to obtain the items discussed in this post.  However, I was not compensated for this post and all thoughts and opinions are my own.]

At the end of the post, I have a free product voucher that I’m giving away to a lucky reader, if one exists (see below).

I am a longtime fan of Daiya’s vegan cheese shreds, and have used them for years on everything from pizza and grilled cheese to burritos and quesadillas (the pepper jack flavor is particularly awesome for this use, btw).  All Daiya products are dairy free (obvs), gluten free, and soy free.

Beyond the cheese shreds, Daiya now makes frozen pizzas (!), as well as wedges, slices, and cream cheese style spreads in a variety of flavors.  I used one of my vouchers to try this one:

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The first thing to do, obviously, was spread it on an everything bagel.

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And add a tomato slice.

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I really enjoyed the cream cheese spread.  Before applying it to the bagel, I tasted it plain and my first thought was that it tastes like Daiya.  I mean, duh, right? But if you’re familiar with the ubiquitous mozzarella style shreds, then you can easily imagine the taste I’m talking about…mildly sweet, a little tangy, plus this particular one also has a subtle oniony flavor that went perfectly with the flavors of the bagel and tomato.  This makes a great, quick vegan breakfast for a busy workday morning.

I also picked up a bag of the cheddar style shreds, with which I made cheesy breadsticks:

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To make these, I simply took a small roasted garlic ciabatta loaf, sliced it into four pieces, then spread each piece with Earth Balance and sprinkled it with garlic salt, Daiya cheddar style shreds, and dried basil.  I toasted it at 350 in my convection toaster oven until the shreds were melted and was rewarded with these.

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As you can see from the picture, I served them along with a Tomato Fennel Soup from this VegNews recipe.  [Sidenote: I adore this recipe, but not as a soup, surprisingly.  It cooks up more like a marinara sauce.  The best marinara sauce you’ve ever had, but sauce all the same.  It was absolutely perfect for dipping the cheesy breadsticks.]

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So, cream cheese on a bagel and cheese shreds on bread are nothing revolutionary.  Worry not; I did attempt something a little more bold with these two products, and producing some pretty outstanding Daiya Jalapeño Poppers.

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I fried half of the peppers and baked half of them.  The recipe below contains instructions for both methods.

Daiya Jalapeño Poppers
Yield: 20 poppers
Time: 35 minutes for baked; 25 for fried
Gluten-free customizable

10 jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded
6 oz. Daiya cream cheese style spread, either plain or chive & onion flavor (about 3/4 of a container)
1 1/2 cups Daiya cheddar style shreds (I bet the pepper jack flavor would be awesome as well!)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup non-dairy milk, preferably unsweetened (I used soy)
1/2 cup flour (I used all-purpose)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/16 tsp. paprika
1/16 tsp. chili powder
1/16 tsp. garlic powder

If frying:
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Canola oil for frying

1) If baking, preheat the oven to 350F.  Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.  If not baking, begin with step 2.

2) In a bowl, cream together the Daiya cream cheese style spread, Daiya cheddar style shreds, and cumin.  Use a spoon to fill each pepper half with the cream cheese mixture.

3) Place flour in a separate shallow bowl, then add salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder, and garlic powder and stir until well combined.  Place non-dairy milk in yet another small shallow bowl.

For baked poppers: 4a) Carefully dip each stuffed pepper half in the milk and then dredge in the flour.  Place coated peppers cut side up on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, until the filling is gooey.

For fried poppers: 4b) Carefully dip each stuffed pepper half in the milk and then dredge in the flour.  Place floured peppers on a baking rack and let them dry for about 10 minutes.  While they are drying, place bread crumbs into a separate bowl.

5) When the peppers are dry, dip them again into the milk and then roll them in the breadcrumbs.  Place them back on the baking rack for about 5 minutes while you heat up the oil.

6) Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  I used a 3-quart saucepan and filled it with just enough oil so that the peppers would be submerged.  If you have a thermometer, the oil temperature should come to about 350 degrees.  If, like me, you don’t have one, then simply test the oil by adding a tiny pinch of breadcrumbs to it.  If the oil bubbles around the crumbs, it’s ready for frying.

7) Add the peppers to the hot oil one or two at a time and fry until the coating is golden brown.  Be really careful to avoid spatter!  I fried each pepper for exactly 1 minute; this was all they needed.  It shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes regardless if your oil is properly preheated.  Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel.

Enjoy immediately.

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I wish I had better pictures to show you, but I was in a hurry to eat these because they smelled SO GOOD and because they really do need to be enjoyed hot.  H and I ate them during Sunday Night Football so the darkness didn’t help either.  But trust me, they were absolutely delicious.

The baked poppers had kind of a chewy crust that reminded me a little bit of the outer edges you would get on a well-done omelet.  I thought it might taste kinda burnt but it actually had a ton of salty flavor that I loved, and did a good job protecting the gooey insides from spilling out everywhere.  The baked poppers were for some reason spicier than the fried ones.

The fried peppers were a little more al dente, but the filling and breadcrumbs stayed put beautifully.  The filling also stayed soft and melty throughout.

H and I agreed that we both liked the fried poppers better, but in a way that’s like saying you’d rather sleep in on a Saturday morning than go to the office.  Deep fried is going to taste better 10 times out of 10.  I do think that the next time I make these (and I will be making them again) I will use bread crumbs on the baked ones too, because I think that was another factor that gave the fried ones the edge.

For more ideas of what you can do with Daiya products, visit their recipe page.

As I mentioned way back at the beginning of this post, I have a free product voucher from Daiya Foods (good for any Daiya product up to a $5.99 value) that I will mail to you if you win.  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me what product you most want to try.  Open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.

Daiya Coupon

And Now the Confession…
This is the first time in over 5 years of blogging that I’ve ever attempted to give something away, or really even had something to give away.  I have actually been feeling pretty nervous about doing it, and have even procrastinated putting up this post, because I’m insecure that no one apart from, like, my dad reads my blog and I’ll get no comments.  No seriously!  But I finally figured that worst-case scenario is that no one comments and I get to keep the voucher for myself.  So I’m going for it!

Enter if you want free stuff!  I will select a winner with a random number generator in the next week and notify that person by email by the end of the day on Wednesday, November 6.