Vegan Cornbread – Yes You Can!

I’m on the constant hunt to find “regular” recipes and make them into vegan versions so my daughter will eat them.  Since I was making my vegetarian chili for dinner I decided to test out a vegan cornbread.  I adapted this from a Food Network recipe and it was surprisingly good.  It makes use of a “flax egg” rather than a real one.  I used my daughter’s Ripple (pea protein milk) for the soy milk in the original recipe.  Next time I may even add some fresh corn.  My whole family ate it happily with the chili.

  • 2 tablespoons ground flax meal
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 14cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 34teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup vegetable milk
  • 14cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray 8-inch-square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Bring  water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the ground flax meal, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the ground flax seed in the water until thickened, stirring occasionally.  Takes about 2 – 3 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well-combined.

Add the ground flax seed mixture, milk, and canola oil to the flour mixture.

Stir with a rubber spatula, just until smooth (do not overbeat)

Turn into prepared baking pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack 10 minutes before cutting.


Vegan Desserts in Jars – Cookbook Review and Pumpkin Cream Brûlée Recipe

A few weeks before Thanksgiving I received the cookbook, Vegan Desserts in Jars, Adorably Delicious Pies, Cakes, Puddings and Much More by Kris Holechek Peters.  I was very excited flipping through the book since we would be going to my parents for Thanksgiving dinner, sharing dinner with my sister and brother in law (the vegans) and in charge of making dessert.


I realized the best thing about this book is inspiration for making dessert to go.  I know the jars are trendy in some restaurants however they are quite practical.  Since we had quite a drive for Thanksgiving, a pie may not have traveled as well, however these little jars with lids on were super easy to transport.  I’m going to keep this in mind for other potluck and school occasions.


The other thing I like about desserts in jars is the individual servings.  There is no bickering between my kids about the size of the slice or dollop or dessert.  Your jar is your jar.  You can experiment too with various size jars and vessels. Though many of the recipes are for 4 oz. canning jars which means you can reuse and try a variety of individual pies, cakes and puddings.  Canning jars can be found easily online and even at the hardware store.  Mine are from The Container Store which has a variety of styles and sizes in stock now for the holiday.  There is a section of the book that talks about jars and options.


I skipped the brûlée part mostly because there were so many things vying for space in my mom’s ovens.  So we made the suggested coconut cream.  I’ll be using that for all kinds of dessert toppings (or eat right out of the bowl).  I must warn you my sister, the vegan did not eat the pumpkin brûlées and that’s because she doesn’t like pumpkin pie and the consistency.  I somehow forgot.  However everyone else loved them.  My mom seemed disappointed at first because there was no traditional pie.  However we bought one from the Whole Foods bakery last minute to please the traditionalists and non traditionalists.  However it seemed the brûlées went faster.  Even though I’m not expecting any vegan guests, I’m already flipping through to see what to make for the next holiday dinner,…perhaps S’mores in a Jar or Rustic Rhubarb Cakes or Raw Pecan Pie or all of them!

Book Review:

Pros: variety of flavors and textures from pies, to breads, to custards etc.  Most of them are quick to make and convenient to transport. Great for vegans as well as those with dairy allergies.

Cons: powdered sugar wasn’t specified as “vegan”, which many vegans do not eat (see blog about bone char) . May have to invest in canning jars.

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée (page 74, Vegan Desserts in Jars)

Creamy, spiced pumpkin with a crisp sugar crust is as elegant as it is comforting.


¾ cup non-dairy milk of choice

½ cup raw cashews

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar, divided

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)

¼ cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1∕8 teaspoon salt

Makes 6 crème brûlées


Set aside six 4-ounce canning jars.

In a small bowl, combine the milk and cashews. Let them soak for about 30 minutes. Place the milk and cashews in a food processor or blender container. Purée until creamy. Add ½ cup of the sugar and the remaining ingredients, and blend until creamy, scraping down the sides as needed, about 2 minutes.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into a saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until it begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes. Fill each jar to just under the brim, leaving about ¼ inch of space. Refrigerate the jars until ready the serve.

Just before serving, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar over the top of each jar. There are two options for brûléeing the desserts: using a propane brûlée torch or by broiling the tops of the desserts. If using a torch, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If broiling, place the jars on a rimmed baking sheet and turn the broiler on high. Place the jars under the broiler, with about 2 inches of space between the jars and the element. Keeping a watchful eye (the sugar burns quickly), heat the jars until the sugar caramelizes and becomes brown, 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the heat intensity.

Note: Don’t feel like messing with the brûlée part of crème brûlée? This recipe is just as delicious as a lovely custard. Dollop some Coconut Whipped Cream (page 111) on top and call it good.

Coconut Whipped Cream (page 111)

This coconut whipped cream is deceptively simple and will change your life.Be sure that you use good old canned coconut milk, rather than the boxed coconut milk beverage, so the fat content is correct.


1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (not low-fat)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ to ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted

Makes 2 cups


Refrigerate the coconut milk for at least 3 hours, overnight if possible. Open the can and scoop out only the hard, white coconut cream, leaving the watery part in the can. Place the coconut cream in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and ¼ cup powdered sugar. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, whip the cream until fluffy. Add more powdered sugar, if necessary, to your desired sweetness.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using. Store the coconut cream covered, in the fridge, for up to 4 days.





Crisp Rice Treats – Familiar but Vegan

O.K. so everyone calls these Rice Krispies treats even though they are made with other rice crisp  cereal and vegan marshmallows.  I guess it’s like calling a tissue a Kleenex.  Anyways, I thought these would be fun to make and package for my daughter’s soccer team snack.  My box had a peanut butter version, so I went online to look up the original.  This was a fun one to do with my kids.  Super easy.  I realized I hadn’t made these in quite a while when my son looked into the pot with an amazed face and said “Wow, these are cool looking!”


How can 3 little ingredients add to so much fun, ease and taste?  The thing is we don’t buy Rice Krispies Cereal (high fructose corn syrup) or regular marshmallows.  No worries.  We used Trader Joe’s Puffed Rice cereal (Ewewhorn makes one too – no GMO’s and organic) and found vegan, gelatin free marshmallows  (Dandies’ or Sweet & Sara).  Of course once my vegetarian daughter found out what was in regular marshmallows (gelatin is made of hides and  bone) she wasn’t haven’t any.  I don’t blame her – yuck!  I bet you could even make this recipe with vegan sticks, but no need to go there if you don’t have to.  The expense of the marshmallows alone is twice that of the regular gelatinous ones.  The funny thing is even one of my daughter’s friends who apparently rejected one of these earlier in the day at Starbuck’s, ate this version after the game.  Maybe we’re on to something.  Of course most people didn’t know about the vegan marshmallows so when another family made Rice Crispy treats another game my daughter passed and said they weren’t vegetarian and told the dad all about what’s in marshmallows.  Oops!  We need to work on simply saying “no thank you” without a political or nutritional statement.


Here’s the recipe, which may not be on the box of other  rice cereal.

Crisp Rice Treats

3 Tbl unsalted butter

10 oz. vegan or regular marshmallows

6 cups crisp/toasted rice cereal

Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with butter or cooking spray. Set aside.

In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

Add  cereal all at once. Stir until well coated.

Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into prepared 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan while warm. (Be careful if children are helping) Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. (Best if served the same day.)


Peas and Thank You – New Family Meatless Cookbook Review and Give Away

Sarah Matheny, author of the popular blog, Peas and Thank You has written a new cookbook, Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love, after changing her family’s diet to one without meat products.  She has an easy and witty style about her writing and this book is peppered with food photos as well as her little “peas” (aka girls) enjoying her recipes.  This book has stories, tips and recipes from a mainstream family that takes on a not-so mainstream diet.


This book is a good one for those looking to make a diet switch and eat less animal products, as well as someone just looking for new meatless ideas.  I know I am.  Sarah has recipes from morning to night.  There are fruit smoothies for breakfast, sandwiches and salads (Hugh Jass Salad is just for mom) for lunch and hot meals (curry, jambalaya) for dinner.  Plus a few retooled desserts without the use of dairy (carrot cupakes).


My family made the homestyle chocolate chips cookies with sea salt, the thai veggie burgers and the homestyle spaghetti sauce.  While the cookies were good, I did notice they were missing something…butter.  But good to have a vegan recipe for such a popular treat.  Also the veggie burgers were good, but needed some sauce to lend moisture.  Luckily Sarah has a versatile almond ginger recipes that did the trick for me.  The spaghetti sauce was rich and easy (see below).  We used it on pasta as well as sauce for homemade pizza.


Pros: good variety of meatless dishes, some simple and quick, fun writing style, good photos, nutritional info on each recipe, pea points on each recipe give helpful hints

Cons: some dishes require special ingredients (tempeh, non dairy cream cheese) that may be hard for some to find, some recipes are time consuming and need many ingredients

Give Away!

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Sarah’s new cookbook, Peas and Thank You, please send a comment on this post, with the name of your family’s favorite meatless recipe.  One winner will be chosen at random on Thurs. November 10, 2011 and notified via email.


Homestyle Spaghetti Sauce, pg. 142 from Peas and Thank You

It’s almost as easy as opening a jar, both with the added joy, if you wish, of letting it simmer for hours, rubbing garlic behind your ears, smearing a few splatters on your apron and bringing your thumb and teo fingers together to emphasize, “Now attsa some tasty sauce!”  You’d be right.

2 14.5 ounce cans organic diced tomatoes

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

1/3 cup onion, diced

1/2 cup fresh basil

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender ot food porcessor and blend until smooth.  Pour sauce into a large saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occassionally.



It’s Father’s Day…Go Grill the Crap Out of Something

I saw the message above on a greeting card and think it’s very funny.  I don’t believe it’s an accident that Father’s Day is at the begining of summer and dad’s are ready to cook and eat outside.  I guess it’s like getting back to nature and feeling like you’re living off the land and providing food for the tribe.  Or maybe it’s just to get out of the house and away from the kitchen where most of the usual action (good and bad) happens.

Whether your dad is a BBQ guy or not, celebrate everything he does (or did) for you and your family.  I sure miss mine.  I’ll make sure my husband feels appreciated and loved by our kids and even let him watch some golf (before he grills our dinner).

Happy Father’s Day Dad’s, Grandad’s, and Husband’s!

Speaking of grilling, I received a copy of the new Cookouts Veggie Style, 225 Backyard Favorites – Full of Flavor, Free of Meat., by Jolinda Hackett.  This has some great inspiration for using the grill without the meat.  Note this is a vegetarian cookbook and not vegan (although there are many recipes) as there are many dishes with cheese (grilled Haloumi – yum).  Putting on a steak is always good and easy, but what if you want to grill something lighter?  Or you have a few vegetarians for dinner guest?  Or your daughter doesn’t want to eat meat today? (yes, that’s speaking personally).   We discovered putting tofu slices on the grill with our steak suits her just fine (and the rest of the family too sometimes).  See recipe below.


Pros – Lots of great sounding recipes, with simple instructions for a variety of tastes and flavors.  A few mouthwatering photos.  Good grill basic intro.

Cons – Serving sizes and yields seems very large on some recipes (4 people eat an entire head of cabbage for slaw? 1/2 cup of butter for 4 ears of corn!).


Easy Herb-Marinated Tofu

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 package, firm or extra firm tofu, sliced

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together juice, oil and garlic until emulsified, then add in basil and rosemary.  Marinate tofu for at least 20 minutes or up to overnight – the longer the better.

Remove the tofu from the marinade and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Place on a well greased grill over medium heat for 5 – 6 minutes on each side.

(Make etxra for left overs.  Grilled tofu is great for salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes)


tofu in marinade
Tofu on grill - oops I forgot to slice first




Guest Cookbook Review by My Sister…the Vegan

I’ve told you about my sister being a vegan.  Remember that Thanksgiving post a few years ago?  Yes, my sister ate bologna and McDonald’s as a child.  Which means there’s always hope and time to change your family’s diet, for health, political or any other reason.  She’s opened my eyes and tastebuds to lots of new ingredients, restaurants and recipes thru her diet.  And my family cooks and enjoys vegan meals quite frequently.  Recently I was given a few vegan cookbooks to review.  I thought it only right to give one to my sister, for a guest review.  Here’s her experience with some of the recipes she made from The Everything Vegan Cookbook by Jolinda Hackett…  (Thanks Christy!)


Nacho “Cheese” Dip which we put over nachos.  I really
liked it as it was a nice change from Daiya (“cheese”).  My husband was not as impressed as he felt it was not creamy enough and too doughy.
Lemon Basil and Articoke Pasta was another split decision
as I really liked it and my husband felt like the tomatoes over powered it (he
is not a tomato fan). I think less tomatoes and having them cook for longer
would have been better in keeping with the name of the dish.  Also very
important to use fresh herbs as I did not have fresh rosemary and the dry was
too woody.
Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing was a huge hit!  I have been looking for a good Vegan Ranch and this is it!  Used it for Mother’s Day and had guests (non-vegan)asking for the recipe.
Cookies and Cream Cheesecake is an interesting dessert.  Looked beautiful, has the consistency of non-vegan cheesecake but is very mild in flavor.  More flavorful with chocolate syrup drizzled and maybe should have added the crumbled cookies on top.  My 10 year old nephew, who is a very picky eater, liked it so that says a lot.
All and all I think this is a great cookbook as it has a lot of quick and easy recipes and I found that I had many of the ingredients already in my kitchen.  If one is considering Vegan-ism or maybe have a weekly Vegan menu these are good recipes.  Here are a couple sites to visit:

The Vegan Weekend – Part II, Brunch

Easter Pie ready for the oven

I enjoy entertaining for brunch on the weekends.  I think it’s a great time to visit, without worrying about getting the kids to bed on time, like hosting a dinner party.  We’ve been hosting lots of brunches lately with other families.  It’s a chance for the kids to play as well as have some adult leisure time.  Brunch is more casual.  No need to dress up or even bring a bottle of wine (although I never turn away some sparkling wine and orange juice for mimosas).  

Brunch is also great for menu planning.  There are many dishes that can be made ahead so you can enjoy your company.  There’s also a wide variety of foods, looking at both breakfast and lunch options, that appeal to all ages.  When having kids at brunch (or really any meal) I like to have something they can put together themselves.  Whether it’s spreading bagels with cream cheese, making a yogurt parfait, or decorating fruit faces on pancakes, kids like to be creative and involved.  And if the kids are not already familiar with everyone at the table, it’s a fun ice breaker to get to know and laugh with each other.

We’ve been fine tuning the brunch menu, and here;s kind of our set menu (with first time guests) and our favorites right now.  As you’ll notice these are all great menu items for any time of day.  And most of these ingredients are pantry and refrigerator staples (eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, bagels) to prepare quickly and easily:

  • · Savory Bread Pudding if making ahead, or a simple egg and vegetable scramble made just before eating.
  • · Platter of smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers, with a basket of mini bagels and English muffins.
  • · Arugula salad with avocado and toasted almonds with balsamic vinaigrette.
  • · Maple yogurt over mixed seasonal fruit, and topped with granola or Energy Bark (recipe follows).
  • · Juice sparklers (bubble water with a splash of juice) for kids, and mimosas for adults.

However I was hosting brunch with family for 14, while my sister was in town.  Remember she’s vegan and I can’t just make my usual brunch and hand her a plate of raw veggies.  Plus she wanted to help and we were hoping to discover some new tasty vegan brunch options together.  I printed off quite a few recipes from poppy seed muffins to  eggless scrambles.  However I was intriqued by an Easter Pie recipe.  My sister wasn’t too sure, and really didn’t want to be responsible for “ruining my brunch”.  

It’s so funny how people think all will be lost if the meal doesn’t succeed.  I’m cooking for family, not for paying customers.  If it doesn’t come out well, can’t we just all laugh over a bowl of granola?  Or just order something at a deli and visit in the park?  No one wants good food more than I do, especially when hosting, but let’s be kinder to each other and give our hosting families a break.   

Anyways the Easter Pie was great and I will make it again, for vegans and omnivores.  There’s lots of ways you could change it as well – adding roasted veggies, changing spices, etc.  There were plenty of other things to eat at the table, including food brought by other guests, but the pie was gone.  And nope my sister didn’t eat it all.

Here’s the recipe….You may even want to make it for Easter.

Easter Pie

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegan “butter” sticks 
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 lb. vegetarian sausage, crumbled
  • 1 lb. organic firm tofu, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup soy Parmesan cheese (I used daiya brand) 
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground fennel seeds 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a food processor, combine the flour, margarine, sugar, and 1/4 tsp. of salt. With the machine still running, add the water to form a dough ball. Divide the dough into two balls and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the vegetarian sausage, tofu, soy Parmesan, parsley, remaining salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and fennel seeds.

Roll out the dough into two 11-inch circles. Place one circle in a 10-inch pie plate and spread the filling mixture over it. Cover with the other dough, pinch the edges, and prick the center with a fork.

Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and cooked in the center.

Easter Pie, going fast

The Vegan Weekend – Part 1

Ellery's giant salad and "pizza"

So my sister came and the corned beef was put away.  Instead I stocked up on vegan sausage and cheeses, vegan “butter” sticks and pleny of fruits and veggies.  I am becoming pleasantly surprised by the vegan recipe choices and products, that are quite tasty.  Many of these items are not as soy based as in the past.  Surprisinlgy wheat gluten, potatoes and veggies make up the vegan sausage.

As my husband was picking up Aunt Christy and Uncle Craig (a.k.a. Unc and Tee Tee) from the airport, I was home with the kids, roasting veggies.   I make these veggies on a regular basis, to create last minute meals during the week.  These are easy to make and great to have on hand for any diet, be it vegan, vegetarian or omnivore.  The veggies (this time red peppers, zucchini, potobello mushrooms) are simply cleaned,  cut, oiled (I use olive) and seasoned (I use rosemary salt, pepper and fresh thyme and rosemary) and roasted in the oven on a baking pan on 400F for about 30 minutes.  These can be added to pasta, salad, couscous, pizza, sandwiches, wraps, and the list goes on and on…

During out weekend we went out to eat twice.  Often going out is a challenge for someone on a restricted diet be it food allergies, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian etc.   Once we went for chinese food at Feng Nian in Sausalito (lots of veggie options and yummy meat and seafood dishes for the carnivores) and the other time we went to Cafe Gratitude.  This place is vegan heaven.  They “celebrate the aliveness of food”.   I’d had their food at the farmer’s market, but never been to the restaurant and was waiting to take my sister.  All the ingredients are organic, local and sustainable.  They even have their own farm.  The food is wonderful.  However the ambance is lacking.  Kind of like eating in your college deli/bookstore.  I think take-out and a trip to the park for a picnic will be my choice next time.  My sister appreciated the food and effort and enjoyed being able to look at a menu and be able to choose anything.  And did I mention all the names of the menu items are affirmations, such as “I am Wonderful” or “I am Refreshed”?  Here’s a few photos, as the food is quite inventive and beautiful.  My daughter had a “pizza” on homemade cracker bread, called “I am Passionate” (above photo).  She liked it but it was a bit messy for her.  My sister and I shared these lovely spring rolls, wrapped in some type of kale leaves as well as yummy indian biryani quinoa dish (“I am Graceful”). My brother in law had a rich black bean mexican inspired dish (Yo Soy Mucho”).  My son had a comforting, sweet porridge with coconut and dried fruits (“I am Bright Eyed”).  However my husband got the short end.  The waiter recommended the “I am Giving” salad of kale and seaweed with miso sauce, and my husband bit.  We weren’t sure why as he is not a huge kale and seaweed fan.  This was the dish that makes people think “vegan” = funky food.  Yes, it was different, but fun.  Even the inside of the bowls ask, “What are you thankful for?”

Springrolls, vegan style
quinoa curry bowl

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?…A Vegan!

My sister has been a vegetarian for years.  Surprising since when we were growing up all she wanted was bologna and hamburgers from McDonald’s.  Anyways, she is an animal lover and advocate and it only makes sense she wants to protect animals – not eat them.

However she’s recently made the switch to veganism.  Wow, I’m impressed.  It takes dedication, time and planning to over haul your entire diet to one that is free of animals products.  I’ve written some vegan recipes.  But most are simple veggie recipes, purees and others with minimal ingredients.  I really didn’t realize how much effort it takes to eat vegan until I started planning the Thanksgiving meal.  My sister is coming (along with my brother-in-law and parents, fellow omnivors) and doesn’t want me to do anything special.  But come on.  I have to do something.  I write recipes and about food, I can’t get off the hook.  Plus it’s a challenge for me – which is always good. 

My sister is planning on making a butternut squash risotto – which sounds great.  We’re still having turkey.  The veggie is no problem – roasted root veggies or brussels sprout leaves.  But then the questions…  Do I do stuffing?  Does it go with the risotto?  Do I do mashed sweet potatoes?  Am I making too many starches.  Will it all fit in my refrigerator? 


I bought a vegan cookbook which I figured I would use to research and then give to my sister as part of her Christmas gift.  I bought a few vegan ingredients to see if I could recipe test and convert a few recipes to vegan.  First was Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks to replace butter.  The gentleman at the check out told me it was the closest thing to butter.  This is not butter.  So far I’ve spread it on bread.  No thank you.  This weekend I’m going to try cooking with it.  However I was very surprised by vegan sausage.  I bought this to try for a possibe substitute for the sausage in my sage dressing.  It’s a winner and I’ll buy it again. 

Then there’s my son’s request for pumpkin pie.  Remember we roasted that pumpkin?  So I decided to test the pie crust – an oil crust.  I was confused on the directions to “roll it out”.  It just wasn’t anything more than crumbles.  However I was able to press it into the pie pan with my fingers and the results were good.  Of course the pumpkin filling was not vegan, as I added my pumpkin puree to eggs and cream.  My sister called as I was baking and I made the mistake of telling her.  She told me she doesn’t even like pumpkin pie and doesn’t care about dessert.  However now I want to make a vegan pie (especially since the crust was tasty) for the challenge.  So I think I’ll make a non-vegan pumpkin pie and a vegan apple or apple cranberry pie.  Variety is good and I’m sure it won’t go to waste.  (I already made two pies and gave some to my son’s teacher and some to my neighbor).

I’m starting to feel like I’m neglecting the rest of the non-vegan guests – so I’m getting their weigh in on the final dishes as well.  Stay tuned… (and I’m open to suggestions).