Sunday, February 3, 2013

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan and Gluten Free)

I'm so excited because I figured out a vegan and gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe that I wouldn't only make for little Sean... I'd make these for anyone, anytime. They are scrumptious!  

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies 
(Vegan and Gluten Free)


1/2 cup peanut butter (salted creamy Adams)
½ cup Spectrum shortening with smidgen of Earth Balance
1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed 
brown sugar
2 single serve cups 
unsweetened applesauce (or ¾ cup)
1 teaspoon 
1 cup 
oat flour
1 cup almond meal
1 cup 
old-fashioned oatmeal
1 teaspoon 
baking soda
1/4 teaspoon 
3/4 cup 
chocolate chips (more or less to taste)


Cream together the 
shortening, Earth Balance, peanut butter, and sugars.  Add the applesauce and vanilla, and beat until fluffy.  In a separate bowl sift together the flour and almond meal, baking soda, and salt.  Combine with the oatmeal.  Mix the flour mixture into the liquid mixture about 1/2 cup at a time.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for a couple hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or use baking spray).  Drop spoons of the cookie dough onto the sheet, about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 12 minutes, transfer to a wire rack to cool, and eat!  Makes roughly three dozen cookies.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Super Simple Vegan Cornbread

My husband isn't a huge fan of cornbread, and yet he loved this version and went in for a second serving!  It's not crumbly at all, is moist and spongy, not super dense, and YUMMY.  Best of all... it's easy to make.  Hubby said I shouldn't have told him that, because he really loves it and now knows he can request it often.  

Super Simple Vegan Cornbread 
(including a gluten-free version)
modified from my Great Grandmother's recipe

Dairy and Egg Free Cornbread


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white cornmeal 
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (I accidentally left the salt out of one batch, and it was still yummy!)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (I use one of the single serve cups)
1 cup soy milk soured with 1 Tablespoon lemon juice (or cider vinegar) 
2 Tablespoons shortening (I use Spectrum brand. Coconut oil or Earth Balance would work also)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease an 8x8 baking pan.  Place the lemon juice/vinegar into a liquid measuring cup then add soy milk until it measures 1 cup.  Set aside.  Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Stir in the cornmeal, combine well.  Cut in the shortening/oil until the texture is fine.  Add the applesauce and soured soy milk.  Mix until well-combined (don't over-mix) and pour into the baking pan.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until it's golden brown on top and springs back to the touch.

Gluten-Free Version: Omit the flour and use 2 cups of cornmeal.  I have only made this version as muffins, and we really enjoy them!  This recipe makes 1 dozen of standard-sized muffins, and bakes for about 15 minutes.
Gluten Free Vegan Cornbread Muffins

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Oatmeal Cookies Minus the Dairy & Egg

We recently had to omit both dairy and egg from our son's diet, so I will be sharing some dairy and egg free recipes now and then.  My son's chocolate-mint birthday cake turned out amazing (and I'll post that another time)... Cookies have been hit and miss.  Paper thin...  Too greasy...  Fortunately, these oatmeal cookies turned out chewy and delicious!  The dough is super yummy, and safe to eat too!

Oatmeal Cookies Minus the Dairy & Egg


1/2 cup of margarine (Earth Balance Buttery Spread) and/or shortening (Spectrum)
1/2 cup plain sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup raisins (or chopped prunes, dried apricots, chocolate chips, nuts, etc)


Cream together the shortening, Earth Balance, and sugars.  Add the applesauce and vanilla, and beat until fluffy.  In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Combine with the oatmeal.  Mix the flour mixture into the liquid mixture about 1/2 cup at a time.  Stir in the raisins.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or use baking spray).  Drop generous spoons of the cookie dough onto the sheet, about 1 inch apart (these don't spread much), flatten each drop a bit with the back of a wet spoon, or just use your finger dipped in water.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes (or until slightly golden brown), transfer to a wire rack to cool, and eat!  Makes roughly three dozen cookies.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Lemony Cake Mix Bars

I love cake mix.  I also love lemon tea cake.  The other night I wanted both, and so I combined them in bar form.  The result was super delicious.  Super.  Delicious.  They're extra lemony and tart... just as I hoped.

Lemony Cake Mix Bars
by Jenai May

Bar Ingredients:

2 cups Yellow Cake Mix (I used Pilsbury Golden Butter)
1/2 cups (1 stick) Salted Butter, mostly melted (but not toooo hot)
1 Egg
Grated Rind from 2 Lemons
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Glaze Ingredients:

Juice from 1 Lemon
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease or spray an 8x8 baking pan.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine the Cake Mix, Butter, Egg, Lemon Rind, and Vanilla until just mixed.  Add the Egg and beat by hand with a spoon until smooth (not finicky, just a minute or two).  The mixture will be very thick!  Spread evenly in the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Whilst the bars are baking, combine the Lemon Juice, Vanilla, and Powdered Sugar.  Microwave it for about 1 minute, stirring every 15 seconds.  Just make sure it's warm and that the sugar is dissolved.  Spoon over the bars in the pan immediately after removing them from the oven.  It'll make a nifty sizzling sound.  Be sure to let some of the glaze seep in around the edges.  Everyone will fight over the edges.  Cut.  Devour.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cream of Zucchini Pesto Soup

Cream of Zucchini Pesto Soup
conjured up by Jenai May

Apparently I cannot use zucchini without dipping it in my Sicilian heritage.  Easily adaptable, this soup can be as vegan or non-vegan as you desire.  I used chicken broth merely because it's what I had on hand, but would likely use veggie broth in the future.  Cream?  It would have been creamy enough without the half & half.  However, was it absolutely perfect as is?  Oh yes.  Oh so very yes.  My son usually does not care for soup, and yet gave this one two BIG thumbs up.  :)


5 or 6 modestly medium-sized Zucchini, grated
32 ounce box/can (4 cups) of vegetable or chicken Broth, low sodium (water would suffice)
1/2 large Yellow Onion, chopped small.
3 cloves Garlic, crushed.
3 medium-sized Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 Leek, sliced smallish (see photo)
4 Tablespoons prepared Pesto (or 6 Tablespoons finely chopped basil)
1 teaspoon dried crushed Thyme
1 teaspoon dried crushed Oregano
1/2 teaspoon White Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper (can omit the white pepper and use only black)
2 teaspoons Salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon grated Lemon Rind
1 cup Half and Half (can omit for a lighter version)
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Bread to eat with the soup!


Combine everything... except the Half and Half, Parmesan Cheese, and Bread... into a large soup pot.  It will look as though there is not enough liquid.  However, once that zucchini cooks it will add quite a lot of its own water to the mix.  Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes to 1 hour (until the potatoes are tender).  Remove from the heat and blend to desired smoothness with an immersion/stick blender. I don't blend to complete smoothness, and instead choose to leave a few chunks. If you do not have an immersion blender, then you can blend batches in a blender, and return the soup to the pot.  That said, this would be yummy if one omitted the blending entirely.

Next, stir in the Half and Half.  Serve in bowls and sprinkle each generously with Parmesan Cheese.  Enjoy with bread!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tamale Pie

Here's an old family favorite, and one that many other families have enjoyed as well.  It really does not play well with cameras.  At all.  It is, however, yummy.  My mom first enjoyed this dish as it was made by her mom.  Then her step mom made it.  And even a neighbor friend made it.   They all lived on the same block in San Francisco. Therefore, I've concluded that all San Francisco housewives in the '50s and '60s were making various versions of Tamale Pie.  

Tamale Pie
(Mom's version of Grandma Barbara's version)

2 pounds extra lean Hamburger
1 Onion, minced
Salt to taste
1 ½ Tablespoons Chile Powder
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced/crushed
2 - 15 oz. cans plain Tomato Sauce
¾ c. Yellow Cornmeal
1 tall can of whole Black Olives
1 - 15 ounce can of Yellow Corn, drained (or one small box of frozen corn)
8 ounces (or less, to taste) of shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Sauté Hamburger, Onion, Garlic, salt, and Chile Powder in a medium-sized pot (I used a 2 1/2 quart dutch oven).  Remove the pot from the burner and then stir in the tomato sauce.  Add the cornmeal by sprinkling about 1/3 of it at a time and stirring well, to avoid lumps.  Stir in the olives and corn.  Sprinkle the cheese over the top.  

Bake in the oven at 375º Fahrenheit for 1 hour.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gelardi Family Spaghetti Sauce

This is an old Sicilian recipe passed down to me via my maternal Great Great Grandmother, Ignazia Dimino, born in Sciacca, Sicily in 1875.  In 1899, Ignazia made the journey to the United States to meet up with her husband-to-be, Pasquale Gelardi.  They married and settled in San Fransisco, where they had 10 children.  

My Great Nana, Lena Gelardi, was their eldest child, born in 1900.  She passed away before I was born, so sadly I never enjoyed a meal cooked by her.  Fortunately my mom has an excellent food memory (it's almost a superpower).  Thanks to my mom's awesome food memory, I'll be sharing more of my Great Nana's recipes here soon.  For now, I believe her (and her mom's) spaghetti sauce is a good introduction recipe.  
Ignazia Dimino-Gelardi (my Great Great Grandmother), 1875-1938 (Sciacca, Sicily to San Francisco)
Lena (my Great Nana), 1900-1970, San Francisco
Vera (my Great Great Aunt), 1907 - 2008
About 15 years ago we visited my Great Great Aunt Vera (the second eldest Gelardi daughter) and her daughter, N.J.  One evening N.J. treated us to spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, using the old family recipe.  Vera confirmed that this was the recipe that Great Great Grandmother had taught her.  It was DELICIOUS!!!  Total bliss in my mouth.  However, the recipe wasn't written down, and N.J.'s dictated version includes "a little of this" and "a pinch of that"... "sometimes this"... "sometimes that."  Like many traditional recipes, you sort of let intuition, preferences, supplies, and habit guide you. If the recipe looks too precise or complicated, it's probably not the "real thing"...  Hehehehe... 

We're fairly confident that this is also the recipe that my Great Nana used, and was taught to her by her mother.  We also know this because... my mom doesn't like it... and for a very distinct reason;  whenever my mom tastes it, her mind expects to hate the meat... which was originally brains.  In this case, her food memory is perhaps a bit too vivid (usually that's a good thing).  Yes, Great Nana's version included cow's brains.  Mom didn't know why she always hated the meat until years later when she was reminiscing and complained about the meat's texture, and her dad told her the secret.  

THIS version does NOT contain brains.  Being a total coward when it comes to experimenting with new cuts of meat (I've failed many attempts at being a vegetarian), I'm not interested in achieving that level of authenticity.  Besides, it was originally served to me with proper yummy meatballs.  Great Great Aunt Vera didn't say the meatballs didn't belong with the original recipe, so perhaps it was only my Great Nana who used brains, and not her mother.  We'll likely never know.

That said, this recipe can easily be turned into a meat sauce with the addition of... meat... or meatballs.  We love it with meatballs, but also enjoy it as a purely meat-free meal option.  I've never altered the recipe to incorporate ground meat (though I probably will someday).  It's probably quite yummy that way as well!

I just made a pot this sauce, and had promised to (finally) write down exactly what I add and how much.  The quantities are subjective and were measured to my preferences.  So, even now, it's just a rough idea and very tinker-friendly according to personal taste... without compromising authenticity.  My measure of success is whether the final product triggers my mom's food memory and makes her cringe, expecting brains.  This does that.  And it's delicious.  

(I seem to have misplaced the photo, so I promise to add a photo the next time I cook it!)

Gelardi Family Spaghetti Sauce


2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped small
3 large cloves of garlic, chopped or crushed

1 large can can (29 ounces) tomato sauce
1 small can (6 ounces) tomato paste

2 large carrots, chopped small
2 stalks of celery, chopped small
1/4 cup red wine
4 large mushrooms, chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less to taste, and is optional)

In a medium-sized pot on medium heat, saute the onion in olive oil until it's somewhat transparent (a few minutes), then add the garlic and saute for about another minute (careful not to burn).  Add the tomato sauce and paste, carrots, celery, red wine, mushrooms, and seasonings.  Simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes.  Serve over the pasta of your choice, with Parmesan cheese.  You can add meat (brown before adding onions) or meatballs, but really should simmer longer if you do.