Steel City Pops – Gormet Vegan Popsicles in Birmingham, Alabama

I know what you must be thinking.  Popsicles in January?  We’ve had some very unusual weather lately.  Alabama generally has wacky weather, but this is just absurd.  70+ degrees in January?  Folks wearing flip-flops, t-shirts, and shorts, all while eating popsicles… outside… in January?!  Believe it!

This past weekend, it felt more like the end of April than mid-January.  Some friend and I went to Steel City Pops for the first time (hadn’t even heard of it before!) and had a blast.  Now I must preface this by saying that not all of their popsicles are vegan.  Many of them have milk, cream, and even sour cream in them.  But they offer many flavors that are completely dairy-free and delish!

I tried the Avocado flavor, which is made with avocado, lime, organic cane sugar, and water.  It was so creamy, like sherbet, and had just the right balance of lime and sugar so that it wasn’t overly sweet.  I also tasted the Sweet Tea flavor, which was made with tea, raw sugar,and water; the Strawberry, made with lemon and organic cane sugar; and the Chocolate Chili (NOT vegan), made with Mexican chocolate, Serrano peppers, and organic cane sugar.  The Chocolate Chili does have both milk and cream, but I just had a very small nibble of my partner’s!

Their flavors change seasonally, but their current vegan offerings include:
Cucumber Lime
Sweet Tea
Strawberry Balsamic

All of the ingredients used at Steel City Pops are 100% natural and they try to use certified organic and local ingredients whenever possible. They state on their website that the fruit-based pops are both vegan and gluten-free.  I highly recommend stopping by if you’re in the area!


Vegan Cheese Sauce #2

I posted a cheese sauce recipe from Robin Robertson’s Vegan on the Cheap previously, but here’s another from Lauren Ulm’s Vegan Yum Yum.

This has a slightly more complex flavor due to the soy sauce, tahini, and miso.  At first I thought those were weird ingredients to put in something that is supposed to resemble the  flavor of cheese, but I actually love the taste of this sauce and so does my best friend’s 4-year-old son, who is very picky about his mac n cheese!


1/3 cup non-dairy butter (I always use the Earth Balance brand)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon white miso
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon tomato paste (I’ve left this out several times and haven’t noticed a difference)
1 1/4 cups non-dairy milk (I used almond)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 pinch salt
black pepper, to taste

Melt the butter over medium-low heat and then whisk in the flour, forming a roux.  Add the soy sauce, lemon juice, miso, tahini, and tomato paste and continue stirring until everything is mixed together (it will be thick).  turn up the heat to medium-high and add the non-dairy milk 1/4 cup at a time, whisking well each time.  The mixture will start to simmer.  Continue stirring for 2 minutes or so until the mixture is smooth and thick (like you would expect cheese sauce to be).

Remove from the heat and whisk in the nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper.


Mexican Pasta Casserole (Vegan)

Well after a very long blogging break, I’m back! I’ve been away so long, it took several attempts to remember my password.  Our busy season at work runs from July through October and then there are the holidays and then the flu and to top it all off, pneumonia, so yeah, I have (good) excuses for being away.

So much has happened, and a lot of it revolves around good food., so I’m going to make an honest effort to catch up and post some of the recipes I’ve had the pleasure of making (and devouring – mostly devouring) for the past 6 months or so.

I’ll start with this quick casserole recipe.  Everyone loves a casserole – all those flavors and textures mingling in one dish.  It’s especially easy on the cook because everything gets dumped into one baking pan, shoved in the oven, and forgotten for a while until – voila!  Dinner!  And then there’s only one thing (give or take) to wash.

This recipe calls for pre-cooking the pasta and you’ll make a cheese sauce while that cooks, so you’ll actually have 3 pans to wash, but it’s really no trouble at all to make this.  If you’re feeling extra lazy, you can just use pre-packaged vegan cheese (like Daiya cheddar or pepperjack wedges) and skip the cheese sauce step altogether.

The recipe is extremely versatile.  Add anything you like:  corn, olives, cooked vegan chorizo or “beef” crumbles, sliced jalapeños…

This recipe serves 5.

1 lb whole wheat rotini ( think the box I bought had 14 oz – close enough)
2 cups cooked black beans
1 15.5 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel)
1 8oz can tomato sauce
handful fresh baby spinach leaves
chili powder and garlic powder, to taste
1 recipe cheese sauce (or just use your favorite store-bought vegan cheese)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions and while that’s going, make the cheeze sauce.

Spray a 9″x9″ baking dish with non-stick spray and preheat the oven to 450.

When the pasta is done, drain and then in the same pot, mix in the cheese sauce, diced tomatoes with green chilies (drained slightly), tomato sauce, and beans.  Add about 1 teaspoon of chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, mix well, then taste.  Adjust the seasonings and/or add salt as needed.

Pour half the mixture into your prepared baking dish, then add the layer of spinach leaves and cover with the rest of the pasta mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes.