Category Archives: Comfort Food

The Plant-Based Bowl: Quinoa, Black Beans, Tomatoes, and Caesar Chavez Dressing

Quinoa Bean Bowl with Caesar Chavez Dressing
Well, our 6-Week Vegan Challenge is up, but we are still trying to keep the habit of eating a mainly plant-based diet.

This is a "bowl."  It is very adaptable.

You simply choose a grain or healthy pasta (quinoa, rice, barley, soba noodles), a veggie or two, a bean, and a dressing or sauce.

I tried quinoa, black beans, tomatoes and Caesar Chavez Dressing.

The taste is great!  Not photogenic, but very tastogenic.  There.  I made up a word.


Caesar Chavez Dressing
Compliments of JennaDish

from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Serves 4 (or 2 if you're having a bowl of plain quinoa, which needs more sauce)

I found the cashews difficult to chop in the blender/food processor fully, so soaking them first would help, or even chopping, then mashing with a mortar and pestle. However, even without the prep, you'll have 4-5 teeny pieces of cashew chunks. Not a huge deal.

2 Tablespoons chopped shallot
2 Tablespoons cashew pieces
1 Tablespoon tahini
1 Tablespoon miso
1/3 cup water
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon capers with brine
1/8 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Blend it all in a blender or food processor until well blended, 2-5 minutes.

Vegan Ricotta & Spinach Lasagna

Our 6-Week Vegan Challenge

Vegan Lasagna

I've never had a non-dairy lasagna.  I was bracing myself to be tolerant. But to my surprise, it tasted just like another awesome Italian dish.  No tolerance necessary.

Vegan Spinach Lasagna

Alyssa and Allen liked it also.  Jill wouldn't try it. 

The "ricotta cheese" is replaced by a mixture of crumbled extra firm tofu, roasted cauliflower and nutritional yeast flakes.

No Dairy No Meat Lasagna

Here it is assembled and ready for the oven….

Cut Vegan Lasagna

and after being baked and cut.

Also, I used plain lasagna noodles, which is what we had on hand.  But the original recipe called for, and I would recommend, using whole wheat.


Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta & Spinach
Compliments of JennaDish

adapted from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz


Drain the tofu well by squeezing gently to release much of the excess water, then wrapping the tofu well in thick paper towels and setting a heavy on top for 10 minutes or more.  You can make the "ricotta" mixture ahead and refrigerate.  Hodgson Mill's makes a whole wheat lasagna with flax seed.

1 head cauliflower, chopped into 1/2" pieces
3 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound extra firm tofu, drained well
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
6-8 grinds of freshly ground pepper, or a few pinches canned pepper

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil (or add about 10 fresh basil leaves, torn)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt

5 whole wheat lasagna noodles, broken in half, cooked according to directions
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup black olives or green olives for top, (other ideas: pepperonata, capers, roasted red pepper strips)

Summary of Timing: 
Preheat oven, start draining process with tofu, meanwhile roast cauliflower, meanwhile put pot of pasta water on medium low (so that getting it to the boiling point later won't take as long), start on sauce by sauteeing garlic in oil, after "ricotta" mixture is finished, turn pasta water up to high and start cooking noodles.  Basically, you have 3 things to make,but you never have more than 2 things going on at the same time that you have to watch.  

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  

On a heavy baking sheet or roasting pan, drizzle a little olive oil and spread over bottom, dump the cauliflower pieces in a pile, drizzle with remaining 2 teaspoons oil, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and mix together well with your hands, coating all pieces of cauliflower.  Spread evenly over pan.  It doesn't have to be a single layer. 

Bake for 10 minutes, remove and stir/flip cauliflower well with spatula.  Bake for another 10 minutes. Flip and stir again.  Bake another 5-10 minutes if necessary, until cauliflower is lightly browned and tender.  Set aside.  Turn heat down to 350 degrees F.

In the meantime, in a pot that will hold the tomato sauce, turn heat to medium, pour the 2 teaspoons oil and sautee the garlic until lightly golden and starting to become aromatic (don't burn), pour in the crushed tomatoes and thyme and let simmer on low for 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally so it doesn't stick.

Crumble the drained tofu into a medium mixing bowl, add the nutritional yeast and lemon juice and mix well.  Add the cauliflower, mix well, and mash well with a potato masher, or pulse it a few times in a food processor.  Set aside.

Boil lasagna noodles according to package directions – a little salt and a little oil is recommended. Drain, run cold water over noodles to stop cooking, lay them out on a lint-free towel or on a plate. 

To assemble:  In an 8×8" baking dish or something close – I used an 8"x10" clear Pyrex baking dish – put a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish.  Place a single layer of noodles on the sauce, spread 1/3 of the "ricotta" mixture evenly over the noodles, layer with 1 cup chopped spinach evenly, pour on a cup of sauce.  Repeat this one more time.  Then the last layer will be noodles, then sauce, then the "ricotta" (no spinach).  Sprinkle will olives in whatever design you prefer.

Bake 40 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and top has at least lightly browned.  Serve immediately or let cool just a few minutes.  Unlike regular cheese lasagna, this dish will not hold it's heat for very long, so don't plan on letting it cool more than 10 minutes.


Vegan: Quick, Spicy, and Peanutty Sesame Noodles for One

Our 6-Week Vegan Challenge

Quick and Spicy Peanut Noodles

No one in my family likes peanut sauce on anything.  

But I LOOOVE it!!

So when I heard that I'd only be fixing dinner for moi, I grabbed some frozen (formerly fresh) pasta and a jar of natural peanut butter.  Yay.  Another vegan friendly dinner.


Quick, Spicy, and Peanutty Sesame Noodles for One
Compliments of JennaDish


4 oz fresh pasta or 1 serving dry noodles (linguine or spaghetti are good choices, use eggless for vegan)
1-2 tsp toasted sesame oil (or use olive or canola as an alternative)
1 Tablespoon natural peanut butter, smooth or better yet, crunchy
1 Tablespoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 teaspoons Chili paste, such as sriracha
juice of a lime
sesame seeds
scallions (chopped green onion) 

Cooking the pasta, drain, and put in a small to medium bowl for tossing.  Toss with the toasted sesame oil. 

Mix the next three ingredients, through the chili with 1 Tablespoon water in a small microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 30 seconds or so, do not let it boil or burn.  Just get it very warm so it will stir completely.

After stirring, squeeze some lime juice in the mix, stir and plop onto noodles.  Toss well to coat all noodles.  Top with sesame seeds and scallions.

Crispy Potato Skins

Crispy Potato Skins
At 6am today, it was 90% humidity.  At 6pm when I took a walk through Mt. Adams, it was 45% humidity and I had to cut my walk in half with Allen and Gracie.

So today I decide to post a recipe that requires cranking the oven up to 450 degrees to crisp the potato shells.

Hmmm.  Well, it doesn't matter.  When we search for this on a cool day, it will be right here.  On May 7th.

Potato Skins with Cheddar and Bacon
The Flying Pig Marathon was yesterday.  30,000 people walked or ran by our high-rise over a few hours on a Sunday morning.  As for people-watching, it doesn't get any better. 

Our building is on a bend coming out of Eden Park, along the running path.  Therefore, someone years ago decided it would be a great idea to place a DJ in front of our building each year.  Sounds fun, right? It starts at 6:15am.  

So before we are anywhere near ready to wake up on a Sunday morning, three floors below our window, party songs like Thriller, Don't Stop Believin', and Born This Way play while we cringe and groan.  

There's no getting away from it.  Plus there are about 10 people out there jumping around to the songs and banging their clappers or, like last year, hula hooping.  


May 10,2010 …

Flying Pig May 12 2010

April 30, 2011 …


 May 6, 2012 …


Anyway, back to potatoes.  

Potato Skins with Onion Sour Cream
I made Onion Sour Cream as a topping. So tasty.

Potato Skins with Mashed Potato Sour Cream Topping
After baking the potatoes and scooping them out, you can save the innards for making mashed potatoes and topping the skins with it, to make it more of a meal.  Add Cheese and Bacon to your liking.


Crispy Baked Potatoes
Compliments of JennaDish

You can bake the potatoes ahead of time up to a day ahead and refrigerate until ready to use.


4 baking potatoes, scrubbed (about 1/2 pound each)
canola oil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4-6 strips bacon
Onion Sour Cream, optional (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pierce potatoes several times with a knife or fork.  Bake about an hour or until a knife slides through potato easily.

Meanwhile fry your bacon and allow to drain and cool on a paper towel.  You can make the Onion Sour Cream now if using.

Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool a few minutes.  Turn oven up to 450 degrees.  Cut potatoes in half. Scoop out the potato leaving about 1/4"-1/2" potato on the skin.  Lay skins on a rack over a broiler pan. Don't use a cookie sheet or it will get too hot and warp.

Brush skins on both sides with canola oil and sprinkle with salt.  Bake on middle rack for 10 minutes each side.  

Onion Sour Cream

1 cup sour cream (low fat is fine)
1 medium to large onion, chopped fine
olive oil or canola oil for frying pan
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a medium, non-stick skillet on medium low heat.  Saute onion for about 5-6 minutes until softened.  Remove onions from pan and allow to cool to room temperature before stirring it into the sour cream.  

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting


I kind of hate that term.

But that's what these are. 

Made these strawberry cupcakes from a Pillsbury Strawberry box mix for a baby shower.  Made the frosting from scratch.

The taste of both are smashing, I must say.  The cupcakes are light and flavorful and the frosting is so smooth and creamy.  Tasted better than the shortening-based frostings of many bakeries. 

Semi-homemade is a great idea if you want to make something a little more special but don't have the time or know-how for a full-blown, day-long kitchen project.

I doubled the recipe below to frost 24 cupcakes and had icing left over.

Quick Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Compliments of JennaDish

from the Food Network

Makes enough to frost 12 or more cupcakes heavily, and more than 12 if frosted as in the photo – not edge to edge

3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

Make Your Own Baked Shoestring French Fries

  Baked French Fries

You may ask why I've tipped my bowl of french fries over on my outdoor iron table.  Here's the deal.  To take good pictures, at least without special equipment, you need natural light. 

At the time of the fry making, it was dusk.  There was a wee bit of daylight left, but only if I went outside.  And only if I could hold my camera perfectly still (because of the waning light).  Which can only happen if it's sitting on something.  Like a table. 

Plus, remember that this is my meal.  Fries are supposed to be hot, so I need to take a picture fairly quickly.  I'm not going to set up a tripod while my fries are getting cold. 

I have my priorities.

So the plan of action is.  Run outside juggling bowl of hot fries in one hand, camera around the neck,  using the other hand to open the door.  Look out for dog bolting through the door in excitement.  Step over annoying dog, put the camera on the table, tip the fries, take 2 or 3 pics for good measure.  Gripe at dog to move so you can get back inside, slide door closed while trying not to let the camera swing around your neck too wildly.  Eat.  Done and done.

 How to Cut Potatoes for French Fries

Cut fries like this:  Wash potato and dry, cut in half lengthwise (on a secured cutting board), place one half cut side down, slice down the middle lengthwise and keep cutting 1/4" thick slices while keeping the potato together, lay half of these stacked slices on it's side (as in the above photo) and slice in 1/4" segments to make matchstick-sized slices.

Raw Cut French Fries

Soak to rid some excess starch – 30 minutes or more

Shoestring Fries

Dry well, using a spinner or colander, then paper towels.

Classic Baked Fries
Compliments of JennaDish

from Veggie Burgers Every Which Way by Lukas Volger


3 large russet potatoes
3 tablespoons canola, vefetable, or grapeseeoil

Cut the potatoes into 1/4 inch matchsticks.  Cover with cold water in a large bowl and let stand for 30 minutes, or up to 12 hours in the refrigerator.  When ready to cook, dry the fries as thoroughly as possible by running them through a salad spinner and then blotting with a towel.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

Toss the potatoes with the oil and 1 teaspoon salt.  Spread the potatoes on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake, flipping every 10 minutes, for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden and crisp.  Remove with a metal spatula and toss with additional salt to taste.


Vegan Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies


Finally found some vegan chocolate chips.  That means only one thing.  Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies!


Heart Shaped Chocolate Chip Cookie


… and heart-shaped chocolate chip cookies …




…and big, fat round chocolate chip cookies.

These are cakey cookies, which I love.


Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Compliments of JennaDish

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


1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup almond milk (or nondairy milk of choice)
2 Tablespoons tapioca flour (you can sub arrowroot powder or cornstarch – I used arrowroot)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350oF.

In a mixing bowl, mix together the sugars and oil for about a minute.  Add the almond milk and tapioca flour and beat vigorously until there are no clumps of tapioca left.  Mix in the vanilla.

Add half the flour, the baking soda, and salt and mix well.  Mix in the remaining flour.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, or lightly greased.  Space the cookies about 2 inches apart and flatten them down a bit with your fingers.

Bake 10 minutes for soft, chewy cookies, 12 minutes for crispier ones.  When they're done baking, let th cookies rest on the sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to finish cooling.


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.


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.