Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

This recipe is from my Granny Dot who died last year. I’ve been missing her lately and decided tonight was the night for her Poppy Seed Bread.

I’ve annotated where my version differs from my Granny’s with *. See the bottom of the post for details on her original version.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

Makes 2x loaves (8.5″ x 4″ pans) or 1 bundt cake.


  • 3 c white flour
  • 2 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp poppyseeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4c milk*
  • 1/4 c lemon juice*
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil*
  • 1/2 c butter*
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour the 2x loaf pans or the bundt pan, whichever you are using.

Mix dry ingredients (first 5) together in a mixing bowl. Add in remaining ingredients and mix well. Place the batter in the loaf or bundt pans (if using the loaf pans, split the batter evenly between them both).

Cook at 350 degrees for 60 to 65 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan.

Note: non-dairy milk and butter works well in this recipe too.


  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/4 c orange (or lemon) juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

In a sauce pan, bring all ingredients to a boil. Pour over bread in pans.

Cool for 5 minutes, remove from pans, and cool completely.

Changes from the original

My grandmother’s original bread recipe has no lemon or butter in it, somewhat surprisingly, and instead uses 1 1/2 c milk, 1 c vegetable oil, and 1 1/2 tsp butter extract.

The original glaze recipe also calls for an added 1/2 tsp butter extract.

Adult Cherry Cokes

I’ve loved the cherry cokes from Sonic Drive-In forever, but sometimes you want something that has a bit of a kick to it for those pandemic Zoom happy hours. My BFF made this upscale, adult version of a cherry coke which I heartily recommend.

Adult Cherry Coke

Mix the liquid ingredients together in a tumbler and then add the ice.

If you want to make it even better, use drive-in ice (for that real Sonic experience) and top with a Luxardo Maraschino Cherry.

While you may be tempted to skimp and use an inexpensive grenadine like Rose’s, don’t. The pomegranate flavor is what really makes this drink so don’t compromise on it. Similarly those bright red “maraschino” cherries from the grocery store aren’t doing you any favors either — go for the real deal.

Peanut Butter & Oat Protein Bars

During the workday I always end up needing a snack around 3p. Before the pandemic that would often be a Kind Bar or Larabar. Since I’ve been working from home during the pandemic I’ve been iterating over making my own no-bake protein bars and here’s the recipe I’ve settled into.

Several of the recipes I found online included a large amount of sugar — one recipe called for a cup of maple syrup! — so I’ve tried to reduce the overall sugar in these.

Peanut Butter & Oat Protein Bars

  • 2.5c cut rolled oats
  • 0.5c yellow pea protein powder
  • 1c creamy peanut butter
  • 0.5c almond milk
  • 0.25c agave

Mix dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. In a sauce pan, add remaining ingredients. Warm and stir until fully incorporated and add into bowl with dry ingredients.

Using your hands mix everything together, pour into a 8×8 pyrex dish, and pack the mixture down well. Place in refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes, then cut into 12 bars.

Store these in the fridge until you’re hungry in the afternoons!

Estimated nutrition value per bar

  • 254 calories
  • 22.7g carbs
  • 12.5g fat
  • 12g protein

“Beefy” seitan

As a vegetarian household we use a lot of different sources for protein, like beans, tofu, and seitan. Many of you might be familiar with seitan through Field Roast products. Indeed, their Italian and Apple Sage sausages are some of our household staples.

Over the past few years we’ve been making our own after discovering two great recipes in Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Isa Does It cookbook. We’ve played with the recipes a bit and crafted something of mashup between her Simmered Seitan (p240) and her Steamed Chicky Seitan (p241). This “beefy” seitan slices up great and browns nicely for saucy recipes like “beef” and broccoli and numerous other stir-frys. These also freeze very well.

“Beefy” Seitan

  • 1c veggie broth
  • 2T tomato paste
  • 1/4c soy sauce (yes, you read that correctly)
  • 1/2c water
  • 2c vital wheat gluten
  • 5T nutritional yeast
  • 2t onion powder
  • 1t garlic powder

Prepare a steamer and bring the water to a boil. Tear off 4 squares of aluminum foil.

Mix together all wet ingredients. Add in the dry ingredients and mix well. While you can start off with a fork be prepared to get your hands dirty to knead it all up towards the end.

Divide the mass into 4 equal patties (ours end up resembling very thick hamburger patties) and loosely wrap each in a piece of foil.

Steam for 40 minutes.

You can use them immediately or store them in a ziplock in the fridge (for about a week) or in the freezer (for several months).

Egg and spinach breakfast burritos

This recipe isn’t exactly rocket science, but it’s the easy, protein-rich way that I break my fast every workday. I make 5 burritos on Sunday and warm them up in the microwave before I go to work in the mornings. Reheated eggs aren’t for everyone though, so your mileage may vary.

Egg and spinach breakfast burritos

  • 5x 8″ flour tortillas
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/3c chopped spinach, frozen
  • 4x vegan breakfast sausages (I use Apple Maple Field Roast)
  • storage container that will hold 5 burritos

Prep: Cut vegan breakfast sausages lengthwise into quarters, and then slice into small chunks. In a small bowl, defrost the frozen spinach in a microwave for 1 minute and drain off any liquid. Chop the spinach up into smaller pieces. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat with a fork.

Cook: Warm up a large sauté over medium heat and brown the sausage chunks with some safflower oil. Add spinach and cook a bit. After sausage is lightly browned, add the eggs and cook the mixture as you would scrambled eggs.

Assemble: After the eggs are fully cooked, take off the heat and put onto a large dinner plate. Place the 5 flour tortillas on another dinner plate and warm up in the microwave for 30 seconds, flip the tortillas, and microwave for another 30 seconds. They should be easily malleable but cool enough to touch. Using a large spoon, divide the eggs into 5 sections (this is by far the hardest part of the recipe I swear). Take one of the 5 sections and place it onto one of the tortillas, wrap into a burrito, and place into the storage container. Repeat for the other 4 tortillas. Place storage container into fridge.

To re-warm: Place burrito on a plate and cook in the microwave for 50 seconds. Let set for 30 seconds and then devour.

Estimated nutrition value

  • 284 calories
  • 26g carbs
  • 11g fats
  • 17g protein

Vegan Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeño Dip

One of the most frustrating things about becoming lactose intolerant is not being able to eat some of the delicious foods that I once could. One of those is the Creamy Jalapeño Dip at Chuy’s. I liked the stuff so much that I sought out and tweaked a copy-cat recipe a decade ago. It’s one thing to substitute a vegan sour cream in a recipe that calls for 2T of the stuff, but it’s another thing entirely to substitute vegan milk-like-products in a recipe that is almost entirely dairy. I had essentially given up hope of being able to find something as a base for this recipe.

Enter Isa Does It by Isa Moskowitz. We stumbled across this cookbook in Elliot Bay Books, a local bookstore, and despite having already eaten dinner I was suddenly ravenous.  Every single recipe we’ve tried has been delicious. And the best part is that it’s all vegan which means that both Daniel and I can eat everything in it. One of Isa’s secret ingredients is using cashew cream in place of dairy in several recipes, which was an entirely new idea to me. One evening we made her Nirvana Enchilada Casserole (p 225) and after tasting the white sauce I knew I had found the base for my vegan Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeño Dip.

That left the little problem of ranch dressing. Ranch dressing itself is, of course, full of dairy (ranch dressing dip mix even has whey in it). While you can find vegan ranch dressing, I was wary of using it as a major component in the dip.

Enter Daniel and his copy of The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer. This kitchen stalwart, first published in 1936, is full of odds and ends, including a ranch dressing recipe (p 241). The recipe calls for dairy, but I’d already solved that problem and just needed the list and ratio of spices.

This weekend Daniel and I did some very tasty experimenting and have concocted an initial pass at a vegan version of the recipe. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close!

Vegan Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeño Dip

This will make ~3c of dip and take at least 2 hours to make but most of that time is soaking the cashews. It’s best served chilled, so allot some time for that too.

  • 1 1/2c raw cashews, unsalted and not roasted
  • 1T cornstarch
  • 3/4t salt (for the “sour cream”)
  • 1c 2T water (plus more for the initial soaking)
  • 4oz can hatch green chilies, drained
  • 4oz can sliced jalapeños, drained
  • 2t dried chives
  • 6T fresh cilantro (or 2t dried cilantro)
  • 1/4c lemon juice
  • 1/4t course ground black pepper
  • 3/4t salt (for the dip)
  • 1T garlic-infused olive oil (or 2 garlic cloves)

Start out by making the “sour cream” – this is a 2x quantity of Isa’s white sauce from her Nirvana Enchilada Casserole recipe: Soak the cashews for at least 2 hours in enough water to cover them, longer won’t hurt. Don’t skip the soaking or your sour cream will be gritty – eww! Drain the cashews and put them into a blender. Add the cornstarch, 3/4t salt, and 1c + 2T water. Blend until smooth which will take several minutes. You only want 2c of this, so set the rest aside.

With 2c of the “sour cream” in the blender, add in the other ingredients and blend well. Adjust to taste, adding some of the remainder “sour cream” if it’s too strong or spicy.

Chill in the fridge, preferably overnight.

Serve cold with warm chips and try not to eat all of it at one sitting!

(Almost) Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeño Dip

As an Austin transplant living in Seattle, one of the things I miss the most is Chuy’s. Nothing comes close to their chips, salsa, and creamy jalapeño dip. At least 10 years ago I searched to find a recipe and stumbled across this copycat recipe which, for reasons totally unknown, includes tomatoes. Anyone who’s ever eaten it can tell you there are no tomatoes in sight.

Using that as a starting point, I created this version which, while not perfect, is a pretty good rendition of this taste of Austin.

(Almost) Chuy’s Creamy Japaleño Dip

  • 1/2c sour cream1
  • 1 1/2c ranch dressing
  • 4oz can hatch green chilies, drained
  • 4oz can sliced jalapeños, drained
  • 4 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic
  • splash of lemon juice

Combine all ingredients into blender and puree until smooth. Chill and serve with corn tortilla chips (preferably warm ones).

1 See also my attempt at a vegan version of this recipe!

Pumpkin Pie

Nothing says fall to me like the smell of a pumpkin pie baking in the oven. Honestly, given how ridiculously easy it is to make one of them, I can’t imagine why anyone would buy one in a store.

This recipe is the one my Mom has used for decades. I’ve no idea where it came from so I’m unable to give proper attribution. For all I know it could be from the back of a can of pumpkin! Regardless, it’s delicious.

Pumpkin Pie

  • 12oz can pumpkin
  • 1c milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1c light brown sugar
  • 1t salt
  • 2t cinnamon
  • ½t ginger
  • ½t allspice
  • ¼t cloves

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Pour into pie crust1. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees for another 45 minutes. Pie is done when a knife in the center comes out clean.

Tip: To prevent the pie crust from getting overly-browned, I use a silicon pie crust protector for the last 30 minutes.


Milk: The original recipe calls for a can of evaporated milk, but I used regular milk for years without issue and I’m much more likely to have that in the house. I’ve used unsweetened almond milk with success for the past few years as well.

Brown sugar: The original recipe assumes you’re using light brown sugar. I’ve found that dark brown sugar also works superbly and gives a much richer taste.

1 I make my own pie crust in the food processor using a recipe from my Mom. There are tons of them online and if you have a food processor and a rolling pin, there’s no reason you shouldn’t make the pie crust too!

Brandied Pecans

This recipe is one of my holiday favorites that everyone else seems to love as well. The original is from the “black sheep” side of Jenny Wible’s family (so says the recipe!) although I’ve modified it a bit over the years. Because of how popular they are, I always double the recipe below when I make it.

Brandied Pecans

  • 3c pecan halves
  • 2T butter, melted
  • 1/3c water
  • 3/4c brown sugar
  • 1T brandy

Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Spread pecans on baking sheet, dot with butter, and roast at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Turn off the oven and crack the door to keep the pecans warm. Be careful not to burn the pecans!

In a 4qt saucepan combine sugar and water on high heat. Stir with a long wooden spoon (trust me on the wooden bit) until it boils. Continue to boil to soft ball stage (about 234 degrees F). Take off heat and beat until creamy. Add alcohol and nuts and mix well until the pecans are thoroughly coated.

Spread in prepared baking pan to cool. Break apart with a fork and eat.

Tip: Keeping the pecans warm makes the sugar mixture apply evenly without forming crystals (which are perfectly edible, but not as pretty). If you’re really quick you can roast the pecans and do the sugar mixture in parallel, but I would suggest waiting until your second attempt before doing so.

Chai tea

I’ve been iterating over various chai tea recipes the past several months. This is one I’m finally happy enough with to post. It is taken largely from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, Spiced Tea, p321.

Chai tea

  • 5c water
  • 4 3″ cinnamon sticks
  • 4″ fresh ginger root sliced thin
  • 2t cardamom pods
  • 2t coriander seeds
  • 2t black peppercorns
  • 2t whole cloves
  • 4t loose black tea

Bring water and all spices (not including the tea) to boil. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Add tea and simmer for 4 more minutes. Remove from heat and strain.

To serve, combine half chai tea and half milk (or milk substitute). Sweeten to taste.

Update: After initially posting this I’ve further tweaked the proportions. The original version used 4c water and half the amount of everything else.