Author Archives: Jen

About Jen

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. I studied at the University of Pittsburgh, where I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor's in Japanese and a certificate in Asian Studies. I spent a year in the JET Programme teaching in Kyoto before returning to Pittsburgh for graduate school, where I earned my Master's of Teaching with a focus on Elementary Education. Upon graduation, I received a job teaching Japanese with Pittsburgh Public Schools, where I taught for a little more than 2 years. I now teach elementary school at an international school in Nagoya, Japan. I have experience teaching students from ages 3-18. My hobbies are cooking, singing, photography, traveling, and studying Japanese.

Zucchini Buttermilk Pancakes

I am still inundated with zucchini, so this past weekend, I decided to make buttermilk pancakes with a zucchini bread twist.

Zucchini Buttermilk Pancakes

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Categories: Breakfast, Main Dish, Quick and Easy | Leave a comment

Tofu Steak

While living in Kyoto, my husband and I had the opportunity to eat tofu in many preparations. One way that we tried at a restaurant was tofu steak. My version is different than the kind we ate at that restaurant, but it is super easy and delicious.

Tofu Steak

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Categories: Advance Prep Required, Main Dish | Leave a comment

Taco Rice

While living in Japan, my husband and I had the chance to visit Okinawa. Okinawa is not very vegetarian friendly, and as a result, we ate a lot of taco rice minus the meat. Once we got back to Kyoto, I recreated a more nutritious and delicious vegetarian version of taco rice.

Taco Rice

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Categories: Main Dish, Quick and Easy | Leave a comment

Zucchini Fritatta

Once again, I was faced with zucchini overload. When I visited my friend in Japan last year, she also had a zucchini overload, and made us a delicious zucchini fritatta. I decided to recreate it.

Zucchini Fritatta

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Categories: Appetizer, Breakfast, Main Dish, Quick and Easy | Leave a comment

Peanut Tofu Satay

While living in Kyoto, my husband and I often went to a vegan cafe called Proverbs 15:17. Their food is amazing, so if you are ever in Kyoto, I recommend that you give it a try. One of my favorite dishes at Proverbs was their “Peanut Satay”. Their satay is made from “veggie meat” (probably okara, based on the texture), but I make mine from tofu because it’s more readily available here.

Peanut Tofu Satay

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Categories: Main Dish | Leave a comment

Gyoza Ravioli

I really love ravioli. However, I don’t really like eating a bunch of frozen foods, so I decided I wanted to try making my own. I also decided that I didn’t particularly feel like making my own paper thin pasta dough, and I happened to have extra gyoza (round dumpling) wrappers sitting in my crisper. So, gyoza ravioli were born. I make these any time I have leftover gyoza wraps. Of course, you can use wonton wrappers, too.

Gyoza Ravioli

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Prix Fixe Vegetarian/Vegan Dinner at Kaya

For this entry, in lieu of a recipe, I instead have a Pittsburgh dining recommendation for you.

Last night, my husband and I went to Kaya’s Prix Fixe Vegetarian/Vegan Dinner. Kaya is a Carribean themed restaurant in the Strip District, and is run by the same company who runs Mad Mex, Soba, Umi, Casbah, and Eleven. On the third Wednesday of each month, Kaya has a special dinner for $39 per person. Half of the choices are vegan, and half are vegetarian. All of them are delicious. If you can, go with a friend so you can try all the courses!

While attending another month, our waiter informed us that August was generally the most delicious month, so since we were in town, we decided to go.

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Categories: Restaurants | Leave a comment

Mango Wraps

A few years ago, there was a tiny vegetarian cafe over on Pittsburgh’s Northside called Hoi Polloi. My absolute favorite dish of theirs was their mango wraps. Unfortunately, Hoi Polloi closed a while back, and I have since been mango wrap-less. Finally, I have remedied the situation!

Mango Wraps

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Recreating Italy

There were certain dishes I ate in Italy that I knew I had to replicate. So, I decided on a menu of Melon Salad, Gnocchi alla Romana, and Chocolate Gelato for this week.

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Categories: Appetizer, Around the World Meals, Desserts, Main Dish, Quick and Easy | Leave a comment

Zucchini Lasagne with Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce

My garden is, of course, once again overrun with zucchini. There are also many tomatoes. I decided to kill two birds with one stone, and so I decided to make zucchini “lasagne” with fresh tomato sauce. This recipe is great for anyone whose cutting back on gluten for health or other reasons – the zucchini slices replace the need for lasagne noodles.

Zucchini Lasagne
Zucchini Lasagne with Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce
Makes a 9×13″ pan of lasagne
For the tomato sauce – Makes about 3.5-4 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
4-5 cups of cherry tomatoes
1/4-1/2 cup of red wine
6-10 basil leaves
3 large sprigs of flat leaf parsley
1 large sprig of rosemary
sea salt, to taste

For the lasagne
2 medium zucchini (About 1 inch diameter and about 6-8 inches long)
15 ounces ricotta
4 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 eggs

First, get the sauce started. Cut the onion in half and thinly slice it. Thinly slice the garlic cloves. Cut the tomatoes in half. Heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, sprinkle on a little salt, and then saute until lightly browned. Add a little wine to deglaze the pan, and then add the tomatoes. Add enough wine to lightly cost the bottom of your pan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer (medium-low heat). Simmer for about 25-35 minutes, squishing the tomatoes occasionally with a spoon. If the pan starts to get dry, add a little more red wine.

When the sauce is almost done, finely chops the herbs. Add the herbs to the pan and stir until they are bright green (1-2 minutes). With an immersion blender, blend the sauce until there are no more big tomato pieces. It should be a little textured. If you don’t have an immersion blender, cool the sauce to room temperature, and then pulse a few times in a food processor. Season to taste with sea salt.

Next, make the ricotta mixture. Put the ricotta in a bowl with 2 cups of mozzarella, the Parmesan, and the eggs. Mix well.

Now, you need to prepare the zucchini. Cut off the ends, and then cut in half. You should have 4 pieces of zucchini. Using a mandoline slicer (or a very steady hand, a sharp knife, and some patience), cut the zucchini into long, thin strips.

Finally, let’s assemble the lasagne. Preheat the oven to 375 F and spray a 9×13″ baking dish (I use a Pyrex) with oil.

Spread about 1 cup of your sauce on the bottom. Make a layer of zucchini – make sure they overlap a little bit. Next, put half of your ricotta mixture, and then about 1 cup of sauce. Sprinkle over 1 cup of mozzarella. Layer more zucchini, then the rest of the ricotta mixture, and about 1 more cup of sauce. Finally, put one last layer of zucchini, the rest of your sauce, and the final cup of mozzarella.

Spray a piece of aluminum foil with oil (nothing worse than all the cheese getting pulled off of your lasagne), and cover the baking dish. Bake in your preheated oven for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5-10 more minutes.

Let the lasagne sit for at least 5-10 minutes before cutting. It’s pretty watery at first and will need to firm up a little bit.

Categories: Gluten Free, Main Dish, Slow Food | Leave a comment

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