Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It's a boy!

After months of uber lovin and sometimes total chaos I think it's about time I share with you, my blogging buddies, the newest adventure in my life...

His name is Duncan, and although he's now more than three times the size he was in this photo, I look at his precious face everyday and remember him just as he was the day we brought him home, an innocent little ball of fur.

My entire life I've always, and I mean always had dogs. But I've never had a big dog, and I've always wanted a Labrador. I really fell in love with them this past winter during my two month long hospital stay. One of the things that helped me through those many long days were the therapy dogs, several of which were Retrievers, which occassionally came by my room for a visit, along with that, the thoughts of one day finally returning home to my two dogs. Upon returning home and slowly getting back on my feet, eventhough I was reunited with Sammy and Stumpy who I love more than I can even explain, my life still seemed to lack something, and as I tried to search and figure out what that was my thoughts always went back to those visits with the therapy dogs in the hospital. I knew I needed a Lab. And that's where Duncan came in.

After much searching we found him about a week after he was born. I held him before he was even able to open his eyes, but I knew I couldn't let him go, I was in love. Because he was so young, it was over a month before we could finally bring him home to join the family. Finally, he's here now, and I couldn't be happier. Duncan may have four legs and be covered in fur, but yanno what? He's my son and there is no doubt I'm his Momma. He's so smart, curious and full of energy. Sometimes he's almost more than I can handle, and I get so frustrated I want to either scream or cry, but that's how motherhood goes right? And can I just say, the boy's got good taste in shoes!!

Duncan - 8 weeks

Simple yet satisfying

Snuggled up with my Crocs

Dunky Monkey

Duncan - 8 weeks

I figured since this is a food blog, while I'm being a doting mother I would share with the dog owners out there an easy treat for your fur-covered little ones.

Good Doggy Dog Biscuits

Good Dog Cookies

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cubes beef bouillon
3/4 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheet.

Dissolve bouillon cubes in boiling water and allow to cool.

Combine flour, dry milk, egg, oil, beef broth and brown sugar. Mix well and knead dough for 1 minute.

On a floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out bones and place on cookie sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes and allow to cool.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Kick-Off To Fall

hearty beef & beer chili

I'm so not a fan of the cold weather months, so this recent fall cool down we've been experiencing is not a welcome feeling for me. Yes, it's nice not breaking into a sweat everytime you walk outside. But knowing that fall has arrived has always been bittersweet to me because I know winter and nearly freezing temperatures will be here before I know it. One of the few things I enjoy about fall and winter is that it's cool enough that I can actually enjoy eating chili and soups. For whatever reason I've always left the soup and chili cooking to my Big Bad Dad, but last week I decided to tackle chili making myself, with a recipe I found from Cooking Light.

I made a few changes to the original recipe, adding a bit more cornmeal for thickening as the specified amount did nothing to actually thicken the chili, and I used diced tomatoes prepared especially for making chili which had peppers added. Also, I started cooking so that it was ready about an hour early, then I just cut it off and left the pot on the burner so that the flavors had a little more time to develope. That part was key, although I'm sure if you didn't have the extra hour to spare the chili would have still been good. It wasn't the best I've ever had, I think the spices need a bit of tweaking, but I will definitely make this recipe again.

As an aside, since there are just two of us and the recipe makes a decent size pot, I decided to use some of the leftovers for making nachos. They came out delish and were super quick, I just heated the chili then layered corn chips in a baking dish, added some of the chili, then some salsa and cheese, then another layer of the chips and so forth. I popped them under the broiler for a few minutes to heat everything through and get the cheese all bubbly. Yum!

Beef and Beer Chili

Cornmeal helps thicken the chili to a satisfying consistency. Serve with a chilled lager. Time: 41 minutes.

1 1/2 cups chopped red onion (about 1 medium)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1 small)
8 ounces extralean ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (19-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14-ounce) can beef broth
1 (12-ounce) can/bottle beer (I used Miller)
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal (I used 1 1/2 Tbsp)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (omitted)

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble. Stir in chili powder, cumin, sugar, and salt; cook 1 minute. Add oregano and next 4 ingredients (through beer) to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in cornmeal; cook 5 minutes. Stir in juice.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Hot, Fudgy Goodness

Although fall has crept up on us, in my neck of the woods it certainly doesn't feel or look anything like it. So with the sun still blazing hot it is a perfectly suitable time to endulge in ice cream and treat yourself to a batch of decadent hot fudge sauce. But then again, if the craving hits, you I think any time is a suitable time for the aforementioned. Besides, think of all the wonderful things, other than ice cream, that would make the perfect accompaniment to hot fudge sauce. You could get creative and have waffles for dessert topped with hot fudge sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. Or you could slather the stuff on a slab of pound cake and, just for the sake of being healthy, top it off with some fruit. (I was, of course, joking about the healthy part.)

I made this recipe for the first time early last spring and featured it in an article I wrote for Sugar Savvy. Until then I was a bit leery when it came to making hot fudge sauce, I didn't want to suffer disappointment. I worried that I would have the misfortune of trying a recipe that would yield more of a chocolate syrup than a thick, rich hot fudge sauce. I wanted a real hot fudge sauce. You know, the kind you find in the neighborhood ice cream shop, one that goes on hot, melting your ice cream slightly and thickening as it covers the frozen goodness. Well folks, this is it! The sauce is a great consistency with a rich chocolatey flavor. Best part of all? It's the exact hot fudge sauce served in Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream shops! This hot fudge sauce recipe, along with other authentic and delicious Ben & Jerry's recipes can be found in their book, "Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream & Dessert Book". Now, run along and whip up a batch for yourself. If you don't love the stuff I'll be shocked.

Ben & Jerry's Original Hot Fudge Sauce

Hot Fudge Sauce

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream or whipping cream

In double boiler, melt chocolate and butter, stirring frequently. Whisk in cocoa powder until dissolved.

Gradually stir in sugar; the mixture will resemble wet sand. Cook over simmering water for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check water level of double boiler, adding more if necessary.

Gradually stir in milk and cream. Continue stirring until completely blended. Continue cooking for 1 hour, stirring and checking water level occasionally. The sauce is ready when completely smooth and all sugar is dissolved.

Yields 1 quart

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