Monthly Archives: February 2012

Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Blondies


No Dairy Peanut Butter Blondie


This may be one of the quickest, easiest desserts to throw together and bake.  And it's delicious – rich and fudgy, lots of peanut butter flavor – not too sweet.  Just a few tips to keep in mind… Oh yeah.  It's vegan.  No dairy or animal products used in the ingredients.

So here's the tip …


Peanut Butter Blondies Vegan



The blondie will be very moist.  And if you use a natural peanut butter that needs to be stirred, like I did, the oil from the PB will make an even more moist blondie.  After it cools, pop it in the freezer in the same pan you baked it in, well-covered with plastic wrap.  The blondie will become cold, of course, but will not freeze, and will take care of the oil issue.  I froze this for two days then served it at work – it absolutely did not taste frozen or "day old".





Peanut Butter Blondies
Compliments of JennaDish

from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

3/4 cup peanut butter (see note)
1/3 cup oil (I used canola)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup nondairy milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup peanuts

Preheat oven to 350oF.  Lightly grease a metal 8 x 8-inch baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix together peanut butter, oil, and sugar.  Stir in the nondairy milke and vanilla. Stir in the flour, salt, and baking powder.  Once you get the flour somewhat mixed in, it's easier to just use your hands to knead the dough until soft.  It will be very very thick and won't spread on its own.  Transfer dough to the baking pan and press it into place.  Springkle on the peanuts and lightly press them into the top.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes; the blondie edges should be just barely darkened.  The top will appear soft, and that's okay.  Remove the blondies from the oven and cool completely before slicing.

NOTE: The authors used a salted, no-stir creamy peanut butter but offer that a very well stirred natural peanut butter in which the oil has been incorporated should work as well.  You can use chunky PB also.


Sweet Wine Biscuits with Sesame

 Vegan Sweet Wine Cookies with Sesame

Sweet Wine Biscuits with Sesame

This recipe post is more of a report, not a ringing endorsement.  These cookies confuse me.  They taste OK, especially the sesame seeds.  But they just beg, "Improve Me," "Change Me."  Plus mine are tinged green inside…


I think it might be the olive oil.  Maybe I'll use walnut oil next time. 


Sweet Wine Biscuits with Sesame
Compliments of JennaDish

from Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar by Moskowitz and Romero

1/2 cup sweet port wine
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup white sesame seeds, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350oF.  Line two medium-size baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together port wine, oil, sugar, and lemon zest until thick.  Sift in the flour, aking soda, and salt.  Mix until the dry ingredients are completely moistened and a thick dough forms.  The dough will be very sticky, so cover it with plastic wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

When ready to bake the cookies, pour the sesame seeds into a shallow bowl.  Scoop chilled dough into generous teaspoons, roll it into balls with lightly moistened hands, drop the balls into the sesame seeds, and roll to coat.  Place the dough balls on the baking sheets about 2 inches apart, and bake for 12 to 14 minutes until the edges are browned.  Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool.  Store in a tightly covered container.

Vegan Roll-And-Cut Sugar Cookies

Vegan Sugar Cookies

I was very curious to find out what vegan sugar cookies would taste like and crunch like.  They are very good, very crunchy, and as I like to say, Not Cloyingly Sweet.

I sprinkled some with sanding sugar, and some with cinnamon sugar, since that's what Jillian requested.  The cinnamon sugar caramelizes just enough to crackle the top and look rustic. 

 Dairy-Free Sugar Cinnamon Cookies

The sugar cookies make a better presentation.  My shapes included ribbons (as in pink ribbons), flowers, teapots, elephants, donut shapes, donut holes, and finally, the State of Ohio.  We live about where the bottom-most, left sprinkle is – not the dark sprinkle.  That's a rogue black sprinkle from another cookie.   


The dough is much softer than a regular sugar cookie dough.  I was able to push the dough in a Springerle form, but once it baked, you could barely tell the cookie had a design at all. 

The dough is also sensitive to overworking.  So the trick is to try to roll the dough out once, and be very efficient with how you use your cutters.  When you gather the remaining dough and re-roll it, it's those cookies that are a bit chewier.


My elephant, teapot and state of Ohio shapes turned out great, but the most crispy was the ribbon because the hole in the middle allows for more crisp edges.

Icing would also be nice.  Maybe next time.


 Vegan margarine on the left, vegan shortening on the right.  Whole Foods. 





Roll-and-Cut Sugar Cookies
Compliments of JennaDish

from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

MAKES ABOUT 3 DOZEN COOKIES depending on the size of your cutters

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 tesaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, slightly softened
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond, lemon, maple, or other flavor extract (I used lemon extract)
1/4 cup vanilla nondairy milk (I used vanilla almond milk)

In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use electric beaters to cream together the margarine, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy, at least 4 minutes.  Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula.  Beat in the vanilla extract, the flavor extract, and the nondairy milk to combine.  Beat in half the flour mixture until moistened, then carefully mix in the remaining flour mixture to form a soft dough.

Divide the mixture in two and pat into discs about 1" thick. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and chill for several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350oF.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Lightly flour a large, clean work surface.  Roll the dough to a 3/8" thickness and cut into shapes with cookie cutters.  If the dough seems too stiff to roll or cracks too much, let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes, then try rolling again.  Pull away excess dough and use a thin metal spatula to carefully lift cookies onto cookie sheets, leaving an inch of space between cookies.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cookies have just started to turn golden around the edges.  Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on sheets for 5 minutes before using that spatula again to transfer them to wire racks.  Use only completely cooled cookies for decorating or filling.  Store in a tightly covered container for softer cookies; store loosely covered for crisper cookies.

Cinnamon Variation: Brush dough cut-outs lightly with non-dairy milk and sprinkle withcinnamon sugar mixture (3 Tablespoons sugar plus 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.  Bake until edges are golden, but not too brown.  Start checking at 6 minutes (although mine took 10+ minutes on convection setting).

Vegan Banana Everything Cookies

 Vegan Banana Everything Cookies

I'm not vegan, but I'm intrigued by the idea of making cookies out of ingredients that don't rely on animals. Allen likes to mispronounce vegan just to get on my nerves.  His version sounds like they are cookies from Las Vegas.

These are from a neat little cookbook called Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero. Some of the vegan ingredients are foreign to me, so I started with a recipe that called for common cookie ingredients.

 Banana Everything Cookie Variations

And just to prove I had a limited social schedule on January 15, 2012, the day I made these, I made 8 variations of Banana Everything Cookies. 

All had chopped pecans.  So my variable ingredients were cinnamon chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips,  bittersweet chocolate chunks …


 … or rolling them in crushed pretzels, or ground nuts/sugar.

Here's the basic recipe, then I'll reveal my findings.  The bottom line is, out of my 8 versions, 2 really shined.  This test kitchen method really helps you to learn, with one dough mix and one sitting, what works and what doesn't as far as combinations, so that you can learn those basic rules and transfer that knowledge to other similar recipes.

P.S. I did not use vegan chocolate chips because I just hadn't found them yet, and I don't think they make vegan cinnamon chips at all.  There is one maker of vegan white chocolate chips but you will likely have to order them online. 

Banana Everything Cookies
Compliments of JennaDish

from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero


1 very ripe medium banana (I used 1 small frozen ripe banana + 1/4 ripe fresh)
1/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup sugar (I used raw sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla (whoops forgot this, and lived to tell about it)
3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (I used Vietnamese cinnamon)
2 cups quick-cooking (not instant) oats or old-fashioned rolled oats (I used the latter)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or cinnamon chips if you're not really vegan, or white chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350o.  Lightly grease two baking sheets.

In a mixing bowl, mash the banana well.  You can use a fork for this, or your hands (I used a potato masher).  Add the oil, sugar, and vanilla and mix with a strong fork.  Add the flour baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and mix until the dry ingredients are just moistened.  Add the oatmeal, walnuts, and chocolate chips and mix well.  It's actually good to use your hands for misxing when using oatmeal, that way you make sure that the oats get nice and moist.  If the dough is very slippery, you might want to add a few tablespoons extra flour – it depends on how big your banana was.

Clean your hands and roll the dough into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball.  Flatten it a bit in your hands and place each ball about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned.  Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack.


*Variation 1: with cinnamon chips only
Very good, consider using less chips to allow banana flavor to come through. Careful to tuck in chips so they don't get burnt.

Variation 2: no chips, just pecans
More banana taste, but plainer and dryer.

Variation 3: no chips, but rolled in mixture of wheat germ, ground nuts, brown sugar
Much better than #2 but would be better with raisins for sweetness and texture.

*Variation 4: no chips, rolled in crushed pretzels
Very good, pretzels are better to roll in.  The salt helps, no raisins needed because you can taste the banana more.

Variation 5: with chocolate chips only
Very good but chocolate overpowers.  Hardly any banana taste.

Variation 6:  with cinnamon chips and bittersweet chocolate chunks

Variation 7:  with only bitterweet chocolate chunks
Better than above but too bitter and no banana taste.

Variation 8: with chocolate chips, rolled in crushed pretzels
No, can't taste banana much, the salt is nice though.

Amish Friendship Bread

 Amish Cinnamon Bread

 Amish Bread

Came home from work and fixed dinner.  Looked at my sad-looking plastic bag of Amish Friendship Bread Starter that has been laying around a few days.  Read the bag and discovered that today is Wednesday.  Day 10.  Oh crap. 


This is the big day.  I'm supposed to add to the starter, and make 2 loaves of bread.  I have all the ingredients.  I even have the instant vanilla pudding.  I guess that means I should go ahead and do it.


Helpful Hint:  Since you have to keep the starter outside of the fridge, I kept it in an urn-type holder to keep it protected from getting thrown around on the counter.



 After mixing the batter and pouring in the pans, there are instructions that you can sprinkle a cinnamon sugar mixture on the top, or not.  So I decided to sprinkle it lightly on one and not on the other.  I can't stand overly sweet quick breads.


 You can taste the cinnamon-sugar with both versions because of the sugar-dusted pan…


but the big difference is what it does to the looks of the bread.  Crackled and rustic vs. smooth and pound-cake-like.  Again, both are awesome. 

Amish Friendship Bread Starter

These are the 4 additional (1 cup) starters it makes in addition to the bread.


Amish Friendship Bread

MAKES TWO 9” LOAVES and 4 cups of starter for friends

To be left on counter, not meant to be refrigerated.  Burp bag as needed.

Day 1 – receive the starter and do nothing
Day 2 – Mush the bag.
Day 3 – Mush the bag.
Day 4 – Mush the bag.
Day 5 – Mush the bag.
Day 6 – Add to the bag 1 cup each flour (I recommend unbleached, all-purpose flour), sugar (plain white) and milk (I used skim milk, but usually doesn’t matter). Mush the bag.
Day 7 – Mush the bag.
Day 8 – Mush the bag.
Day 9 – Mush the bag.
Day 10 – Follow these instructions:

1. Pour the entire contents of the bag into a non-metal bowl.
2. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups milk. Stir.
3. Measure one cup batter into four 1-gallon Ziploc bags and give to friends along with a copy of the recipe. (Keep one for yourself if you want to make bread again in 10 days.)
4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. (baked mine at 300 degrees on convection  setting)

5. Add to the remaining batter:

3 eggs (bringing eggs to room temperature is a generally accepted practice in baking)
1 cup oil (I used canola oil)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon (I used Vietnamese cinnamon)
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
1 large (5.1 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding (I used French vanilla flavor)
1/2 tsp. salt (I used fine grain sea salt)

6. Grease 2 large loaf pans (my instructions say glass, but I used metal and turned out great)
7. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Dust the greased pans with 1/2 of this mixture.
8. Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans.  Optional: sprinkle the remaining sugar mixture over the tops of the breads. (I lightly sprinkled one loaf, none on the other.  The big difference is that the sugared version cracks and looks beautifully rustic.  The unsugared loaf remains smooth and looks like a pound cake. Both taste great.)
9. Bake 1 hour (until golden brown and firm on top.  I added an extra 5 minutes.) Cool the bread  a few minutes.  Run a knife along the edge of bread and gently turn out of pan onto a cooling rack. 

If you keep a starter for yourself, you will be baking every 10 days. The bread is very good and makes a great gift. Only the Amish know how to create the starter, so if you give them all away, you will have to wait until someone gives you one back. ENJOY!!

Here is a recipe for the starter that I HAVE NOT tried.  Got it from

Amish Friendship Bread Starter
This is the Amish Friendship Bread Starter Recipe that you’ll need to make the Amish Friendship Bread.

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110°F)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup warm milk (110°F)

1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water for about 10 minutes. Stir well.
2. In a 2 quart glass or plastic container, combine 1 cup sifted flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or the flour will get lumpy when you add the milk.
3. Slowly stir in warm milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Loosely cover the mixture with a lid or plastic wrap. The mixture will get bubbly. 

Follow the 10-day instructions above for Amish Friendship Bread. The day you make the starter is Day 1.

Allen’s Valentine’s Day Apple Crisp


Apple Crisp with Ice Cream

Happy Valentine's Day!


Allen loves apple pie, apple crisp, anything with cooked apples.  So….

Heart Shaped Apple Crisp

 I dug out my heart-shaped pan and made some apple crisp a la mode.

Apple Crisp
Compliments of JennaDish

adapted from a Betty Crocker recipe


4 tart apples (like Granny Smiths), peeled, cored sliced
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats (not instant packets)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped pecans, walnuts or slice almonds (optional-makes a crunchier topping)

Preheat oven to 375o.  Grease bottom and sides of 8" square or heart-shaped pan with shortening.

Spread apples in pan.  In medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients, cutting butter into dry ingredients with pastry mixer, butter knives.  Sprinkle mix over apples evenly.

Bake about 30 minutes, until golden brown and starting to bubble on the edges.  Serve with ice cream.


Homemade Chicken and Stars Soup


Homemade Chicken and Stars Soup w Text
I've read so many different ways to make chicken broth.  

So many different opinions.  I normally prefer Martha Stewart recipes but …

I found one that makes more sense to me.  And it's pretty quick.  

No simmering for hours or multiple steps.  Or using odd parts of a chicken I don't have.

It's more work than throwing some boxed chicken broth in a pan.

But sometimes you just want to have the good stuff.

The idea of this recipe is that cutting the chicken in 2" pieces and sauteeing it first before putting in the water, helps speed the process of getting all the flavor from the chicken.

For this job, a cleaver would be great.  I got this one at Wasserstrom Restaurant Supply in-store.  
Great deal.

Chicken Pieces Sauteeing

Saute chicken pieces (reserving breast) and onions about 25 minutes.

Add water, whole chicken breast, salt and bay leaves, simmer another 20 minutes.

Chicken Breast in Chicken Stock

Remove chicken breast, set aside.  When cool, remove skin and shred or dice meat into bite size pieces.

Chicken Broth
Strain broth into a large bowl.

Sauteed Onions with Thyme

Return soup kettle to medium high heat.  Add onion, carrot and celery.  Saute 5 minutes.

Add thyme, broth and shredded chicken.  Simmer until flavors meld, about 15 minutes.

Add noodles or other pasta and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes.

Adjust seasonings, adding salt if necessary and pepper.  Stir in parsley and serve.  

Flavored croutons are a nice addition.


Chicken Noodle Soup

Compliments of JennaDish

from The Perfect Recipe by Pam Anderson 


1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions,cut into medium dice
1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds), breast removed and split; remaining chicken cut into 2-inch pieces
2 bay leaves
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 cups (3 ounces) hearty egg noodles (or 1/4-1/3 cup dry stars pasta)
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup mined fresh parsley leaves

1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large soup kettle.  Add half of chopped onions and all chicken pieces (reserve breast).  Saute until chicken is no longer pink, 5-7 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until chicken releases its uices, about 20 minutes.  Increase heat to high; add 2 quarts water (already boiling if you are in a hurry) along with the whole chicken breast, 1 teaspoon salt and bay leaves.  Bring to a simmer, then cover, reduce heat to low and barely simmer until chicken breast is cooked and broth is rich and flavorful, 20 minutes longer.

2. Remove chicken breast from kettle; set aside.  When cool enough to handle, remove skin from breast, then remove meat from bones and shred into bite-size pieces; discard skin and bones.  Strain broth into a large bowl and discard any remaining chicken pieces and bones.  Skim fat from broth and reserve 2 tablespoons.  (Broth and meat can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

3. Return soup kettle to medium-high heat.  Add reserved chicken fat.  Add remaining onion, along with carrot and celery.  Saute until sofened, about 5 minutes.  Add thyme, broth and shredded chicken. Simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors meld, 10 to 15 minutes.  Add noodles and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes.  Adjust seasonings, adding salt, if necessary, and pepper, stir in parsley and serve.

Texas Sheet Cake


Texas Sheet Cake

Texas Sheet Cake is like a giant cakey, iced brownie.  I like this version with a little bit of cinnamon, and using lighter ingredients where you can, without sacrificing taste.


This is my dessert offering for our 2nd Annual Nephrology Chili Cookoff tomorrow to benefit Artswave.

Here's a sneak peak of my entry, Jenna's Cha-Cha-Cha Chili. 


Cha Cha Cha Chili


Texas Sheet Cake
Compliments of JennaDish

from Cooking Light

Cooking spray
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa (more below)
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract, divided
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup fat-free milk
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 375°.

Coat a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray; dust with 2 teaspoons flour. Set aside.

Weigh or lightly spoon 9 ounces (2 cups) flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 9 ounces flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Combine 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Pour into flour mixture. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and eggs; beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 375° for 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack.

Combine 6 tablespoons butter, fat-free milk, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in powdered sugar; stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla and pecans. Spread over hot cake. Cool completely on wire rack.