chinese shrimp and sizzling rice neva: backcountry buddies dog training strawberries and cream malasadas morel asparagus prosciutto lemon pasta


copyright jennifer yu © 2004-2017 all rights reserved: no photos or content may be reproduced without prior written consent


splash and dash

Recipe: miso peanut butter vegetable dip

We now have a 10 week old puppy who consistently sits to ask for things like food, water, toys, to be let out of her crate, to have a ball tossed, to be let back inside, to be petted. You may wonder why she has to request water – why we don’t have a bowl lying around for her to take drinks as needed… After Neva takes a big drink, she loves to place her paw on the side of the dish and tip the whole thing over. It was funny the first time and not as funny the next 10 times. But she’s a lab and true to her breed, she loves the water. We wanted to get her swimming, but right now our lakes are cold with snow melt and she hasn’t received her leptospirosis vaccinations yet (they start in a couple of weeks). So we’re taking baby steps starting with Kaweah’s old baby pool. Kaweah never cared much for it (she was a hardcore girl – she wanted her frozen mountain lakes), but it’s perfect for Neva at this stage on a hot, sunny day.


jeremy introduces her to ankle-deep water

she warmed up to it when we tossed in her spiky ball

really getting into the fun with a flying leap



Everything was great until Neva fetched the ball, dropped the ball, and promptly squatted to relieve herself in the pool. We are still getting to know Neva’s bladder schedule, which is to say, we still have occasional accidents. But it’s all a big learning curve – which food works best for her digestion, what time of day is best for training, when she needs naps and when she needs play. It’s hard to believe we have only had Neva for two weeks because it feels like months.

running her brains out in a field

tired and plopped down in the middle of the trail



Jeremy and I are trying our best to do right by the puppy’s training as well as live our lives (sleep, eat, get work done). It feels as if we aren’t succeeding at any of it. For the first week, I wore the same clothes for days in a row because I couldn’t see the point of putting something clean on only to get dogged up again. But you can’t let a puppy put the kibosh on everything. Over the weekend, a good childhood friend came into town for a conference – so we had her and two other close mutual childhood friends over for dinner. I even showered and wore clean clothes! I figured, if I could manage to put dinner on the table, then we could declare the night a victory. I missed out on half of the conversations because Jeremy and I tag-teamed supervising the puppy, but it was wonderful to spend time catching up, especially since I hadn’t seen the out-of-town friend in over 20 years.

a toast to reunions



Summer is when entertaining at our house really gets underway. The only folks who visit in winter are the ones who truly love winter and the ones who don’t know any better. Our short mountain summers are green and pleasant, which make for great dinner parties, grilling, and views from the deck. Typically, I like to experiment with different recipes, but lately – because of the puppy vortex and in the interest of my own sanity – I’m sticking with super simple menus. One thing I love to serve when the weather turns warm is crudités with dip, but sometimes I tire of sour cream or mayonnaise dips. A few weeks ago I tried a couple of miso-based dips and really fell in love with this miso peanut butter dip. It’s just the right salty and sweet to go with a variety of fresh vegetables. And it’s easy.

peanut butter, white miso paste, mirin, rice vinegar, sake, honey



Six ingredients. Just measure and stir together. I like the more delicate flavor of white miso paste, but if you want a stronger miso flavor, you can use red miso paste. It takes a few minutes to make the dip, but you can store it in the refrigerator for a few days ahead of serving. Just give it time to come to room temperature before serving or else the dip will be quite thick when it is cold (because of the peanut butter).

measured out

stir everything together

it should be smooth



My two favorite vegetables to eat with this dip are carrots and cucumbers, but every vegetable I’ve tried tastes great with it. And if you want to make the dip vegan-friendly, just substitute sugar for the honey. It’s a nice change from my standard rotation of dips, and it is perfectly light and clean tasting for the summer party season or for a healthy summer snack.

with peppers, carrots, radishes, purple snow peas, and persian cucumbers

i have no problems eating my vegetables

dippy dippy



Miso Peanut Butter Vegetable Dip
[print recipe]
modified from this recipe

3 tbsps miso paste (I use white miso paste – use red miso paste for stronger miso flavor)
3 tbsps creamy peanut butter or tahini
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sake

Whisk all of the ingredients together until smooth. Serve with crudités or refrigerate for up to 3 days (let come to room temperature before serving). Makes just over 1/2 cup of dip.


more goodness from the use real butter archives

knorr’s spinach dip artichoke dip sweet onion dip hot chorizo sweet onion dip

18 nibbles at “splash and dash”

  1. Heather (Delicious Not Gorgeous) says:

    yum! i make a sauce similar to this one (miso, pb, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar), and it’s really tasty in vietnamese spring rolls.

  2. Tori@Gringalicious.com says:

    So cute!

  3. Kristin says:

    Love the Neva photos & updates. I have all of the dip ingredients except the sake, and a boatload of carrots leftover from our son’s grad party. I may just need to try this today!

  4. Jessi says:

    My husband will love this dip! He is always begging me for these flavors. I’m so jealous of your puppy, he is so sweet!

  5. Amy says:

    Hang in there, Jen and Jeremy – I remember very well the blurred-together-days and frustrating moments of puppy training. You guys are doing an awesome job training Neva (she looks bigger already!!) I’m sure in another month or two she’ll have her adult teeth and be housetrained. Oh, and the dip? Looks fantastic!

  6. Marin says:

    I come for the recipes, I stay for the puppy pictures.

  7. Amanda says:

    Your puppy is so adorable. Like, ridiculously adorable. That jumping into the pool shot is to die for.

  8. Kath the Cook says:

    that sounds terrific! Neva is so very, very adorable. Here’s a nice fresh nut/veggie based dip to try with a little bit of kick: It’s a real crowd pleaser and no one can figure out the main ingredient til you tell them.

    Spicy, Garlicky Cashew Dip

    1 cup roasted salted cashews
    6 tablespoons cilantro w/ some stems
    ¼ cup canola or safflower oil
    4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
    2 tablespoons soy sauce
    2 teaspoons brown sugar
    1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, rough chop w/ seeds or not, to taste
    Juice of 1 lime
    2 tablespoons water
    Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

    dump everything in food processor and process until smooth

  9. Holly says:

    I just read this warning about the leptospirosis vaccine and thought you might be interested: http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2015/06/10/vaccine-adverse-reaction.aspx?e_cid=20150610Z1_PetsNL_art_1&utm_source=petsnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20150610Z1&et_cid=DM76714&et_rid=985573815

  10. Joyce says:

    Puppy heaven just arrived in my inbox! Kitty and I sit and just gaze at all the pictures of her. Kitty is the same color. And we love ALL things “peanut butter.” I have to eat…er…WE have to eat far more veggies than we do and this will help so much. Must head to Buffalo to the Chinese stores to get some of the ingredients. Take a med called Flagyl which means no alcohol so am wondering what to substitute for the wine.

    Also, we too did not give our Kitty more shots after rescue from the SPCA. He never goes outside so since we have lost so many of our kitties way too early, we tried this. He has never been sick in his life, and once we started feeding him Halo all the hair he had lost grew back and for awhile we thought we would have a bald kitty….now the thick glossy hair and such good health has made it worth it all. We just pray for a long and healthy life for precious Neva! We know you must take her outside constantly, so she must be protected with the right meds.

  11. MEg says:

    Love this post, so happy to see the joy in your blog again. Agree with Marin!

  12. jill says:

    Neva is very photogenic. That black black fur is so rich! I’m glad she is a quick learner! Your patience will pay off!

  13. Gina Marion says:

    what i like about you is that you’re so real! “no point in putting something clean on only to get dogged up” you sound like me. always love your updates, recipes and pics!

  14. Tess says:

    Love your photos, recipes and most of all, your wonderful topics. What a beautiful life you and Jeremy have in beautiful Alaska!

  15. Melanie says:

    I just LOVE how tender and thoughtful you are with Neva and with Kaweah. That is one lucky puppy to have landed in your lives. I know you probably feel *you’re* the lucky ones. Puppies are a lot of work and we forget when we have a dog that grows old with us. When they settle into a routine and just become the good dogs that they are destined to be, we just enjoy the ride. Then, wham, a puppy comes into the picture and mayhem ensues. Nothing is the same or settled or to be taken-for-granted. But it’s a joyful, free, inspiring time. Keep the puppy posts coming. On a different note…..I’m going to see our friend & physician Dr. Hyde on Monday for my (probably) last six-month checkup. YAY!!

  16. Amanda B. says:

    I have never raised a puppy, but I *have* raised a baby human, and the amount of effort, care, and attention you’re describing sounds similar, which I think must mean you’re doing something right. :)

  17. Irmi from Munich says:

    Neva, catching the ball is a real great photo. I love it.
    Thank you for the awsome story, too.

  18. jenyu says:

    Heather – oh, that sounds great. I do one with hoisin and peanut butter, but I’ll have to try it with miso next time.

    Tori – :)

    Kristin – I loooove this dip with carrots! Congratulations on your son’s graduation!

    Jessi – thank you, she really is very sweet!

    Amy – ha ha! It wasn’t all that long ago that you were puppy training :) Thanks so much! xo

    Marin – xxoo

    Amanda – we were laughing so hard watching her jump into the water!

    Kath – thanks for the recipe, I’ll have to try it!

    Holly – thank you for your concern, but the lepto vaccine is pretty much standard here in the mountains where wild animals pass through our yards routinely and our dogs spend a lot of time in wild places. Kaweah had the vaccine and Neva shall, too. I feel that as a dog owner in the mountains, I would be completely negligent if my pup didn’t get this vaccine.

    Joyce – You can probably omit the sake and the dip would still be good!

    Meg – thank you!

    jill – I hope so :) xxoo

    Gina – ha ha, thanks sweetie!

    Tess – I’m sure if we lived in Alaska, it would indeed be a beautiful life! As it is, Colorado isn’t bad either ;)

    Melanie – Yay for you!!! xoxo

    Amanda – Oh, I think raising a human baby is MUCH harder than raising a puppy. Kudos to you! xo

    Irmi – thank you xo

leave a reply