Thursday, April 09, 2015

Dinner With Jane

farmers' market cherry tomatoes for snacking

A while back, my friend Jane and her wonderful husband and daughter came over for dinner. It was so great. First of all, it's obviously just fun to have friends over for dinner. But Jane is one of my favorite people and we both have full lives, and we don't get to hang out together nearly as often as we would both like to. A whole evening to eat and visit together feels like such a gift. Plus, her husband and her daughter are wonderful and interesting and kind people - bonus friends! Spending time together with them, talking, sharing stories, continuing to get to know each other ... feels so good. They are the kind of people whose companionship leaves you feeling full and happy to be alive. 

Also, possibly on a related note, they always bring really good food.

Some sort of amazing farro salad with roasted winter squash and fresh tomatoes, over lettuce. 

Jane is such an inventive cook (and person in general!) and she just loves to fly by the seat of her pants and adapt and innovate and go with the flow. It is one of her most wonderful and exceptional qualities. According to her, she was just winging her way around the kitchen with this salad, and the result was a perfect autumn dish - with hearty grains and roasted squash combined with fresh tomatoes and lettuce. I love dishes that have this nice balance of warming and fresh, and I always love grains and cooked veggies in salads, though I often forget to do it!

Jane also brought this dish: peas and beets with pea shoots and avocado... I think there was a citrusy dressing. Practicing great personal restraint, she told me that she actually followed a recipe to make this (gasp!). ha ha. I don't know the name of the dish, but it's from Yotom Ottolenghi's new vegetarian book and it was crazy good. Mr. VE&T was totally in love with it! I'll have to get the recipe just so that I can make it again for him. I have Ottolenghi's book "Plenty," and I like it quite a bit, but when I flipped through the new one it seemed as though every recipe was loaded with cheese and eggs, so I put it back. Maybe if I ever see it at a garage sale, I'll pick it up. This dish was certainly great!

I made another casserole from Julie Hasson's book "Vegan Casseroles." This was the "Boozy Baked Penne with Caramelized Onions" - one of many mac and cheese type dishes she has in the book. So far I've tried 3-4 different variations. They all have something in common as far as the foundation flavors and sauces, but each is slightly different, and I want to gradually try them all -- mostly just so that I'll know which couple recipes are my top favorites. I liked the crunchy buttery topping on this one a lot.

Kitchen Sink Cookies from "Isa Does It"

I wanted to make a quick and easy dessert - and in my book that means one thing: Cooooooookies. I love cookies. Flipping through my various cookbooks, I noticed this recipe for "Kitchen Sink Cookies" in Isa Does It. I already had all the ingredients on hand - oats, raisins, chocolate chips, roasted peanuts, cocoa powder, coconut oil... YUM. They're like trailmix cookies! And, I guess I always make my cookies smaller than everyone else because I got a lot of cookies out of one recipe. These cookies were chewy and filled with all sorts of exciting tidbits of crunch and texture. I'll definitely make them again! 


  1. What a fun night! Plus, you've got to love friends who bring over vegan dishes. Bonus!

  2. YUM! I could go for a big ole grain salad right now. I had fried tofu from a food truck for lunch, and I'm craving something healthier for dinner!

  3. I love those cookies, raisins and peanuts... who knew?

  4. kitchen sink cookies are the best cookies!

  5. What a fun dinner! The cookies look great as does the casserole and I'm totally drawn to that avo' salad, it's been a while since I had a truly great avocado.


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