Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas goodies!

It's the villain all dogs love to hate, Michael Vick. On a stick. One of our local dog bakeries used to make these all the time, and my soon-to-be sister-in-law ordered a bunch for the dogs for Christmas. What does one do with Michael Vick on a stick? Ask the pups.

The pups also got new collars. I picked out a cute pink martini collar for Coral from Bridget's TeenyTinyCollar's Etsy shop, but I couldn't figure out which one I liked for Duke. Tim decided to make the decision for me, and chose to get a UT collar for Duke. I was very concerned at first, because I didn't think a burnt orange collar would be very becoming on my orange/black dog. Fortunately, he picked out a nice brown leather one instead. I'm having a hard time getting used to it, because it does blend in with Duke's coat, but I'm still just happy it's not burnt orange.

One of my presents was the BakersEdge brownie pan. I LOVE the corner pieces on brownies. In fact, anytime I bake them, I eat the four corners, and then send the rest to work with the hubby. So he got me this pan for Christmas. A pan with two edges on every piece! And two bonus brownies with THREE edges! Of course, my happiness was met with groans across the room, because this means I will be hoarding all my brownies from now on, instead of sending them to work with Tim.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Now I know how Duke feels.

One of my presents was a box of Godiva truffles. But I can't eat them. The plague does not like chocolate or creamy things, and gives me major coughing fits if I try to eat them.

So here I sit, pathetically staring at truffles I can't eat. With Duke at my side, commiserating with me. Someday I'll get over this cold, hopefully.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Santa Paws was very good to us this year. Coral and Duke both got spiffy new collars. Coral has a pretty pink martini collar courtesy of Bridget while Duke has a leather UT collar. They also got lots of new tennis balls, a new frisbee, and a beginner agility set. We've already started playing with it, and after being a weenie about the tunnel initially, Duke is now zipping through the tunnel and jumping over the bar. Coral has had a small introduction to some agility obstacles from her training class a few years ago, so didn't require much coaxing. I'll post pictures of the beasts with their snazzy new duds and playing with their new toys over the next few days

I got the Baker's Edge brownie pan, a Pampered Chef mandolin that I've been coveting forever, a cheesecake cookbook with a zillion yummy looking recipes, and a book on dog essays. You're jealous, aren't you?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Fletch!

For Christmas, Fletch is getting a forever home! We recently got an amazing application in on him, and we went over to meet everyone and do a home visit yesterday. His new mom is wonderful and perfect, as is his new sister, Elisabeth. Merry Christmas, and be good to your new mom, Fletch!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dogs like cookies too!

I love baking for the beasts. Anything I make for them is appreciated and devoured with gusto.

Cinnamon Apple Drops
1 large apple (or two smaller apples)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2.5 cups wheat flour

Preheat oven to 350 ° F (180 ° C).

Core, slice and mince the apple (use a food processor if you have one). In a large bowl, combine the minced apple bits, honey, water, and cinnamon. Gradually blend in the wheat flour, adding enough to form a stiff dough.

Spoon the dough by rounded teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches (5cm) apart. Using the bottom of a glass dipped in the wheat flour (to prevent sticking), flatten each spoonful of dough into a circle. Adjust the size of the drops based on how big a treat you like to feed your dog.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and flip each cookie to brown evenly on both sides. Return to oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Let cool overnight.

Makes about 3 dozen crunchy cookies, depending on how big you make them.

****I decided to roll out the dough and use cookie cutters instead of making drops. Because the cookies don't spread while baking, you don't need to space them out very much. Also, an egg white wash makes for a prettier cookie. If you prefer a softer cookie, bake for a shorter length of time. Just remember that a softer cookie with more moisture in it is more perishable, so keep them in the refrigerator or freezer for longer storage.

Assuming your pup doesn't have allergies, you can use any type of flour. I typically use oat flour, but my foster may have an oat allergy, so I used regular wheat flour. I just prefer to avoid corn or soy because they are also common allergens for pups.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dogs too hyper?

Feed him raw.

For some strange reason, Duke was really hyper the first part of this week. He was bouncing all over the place, waking me up in the mornings, throwing tennis balls in my lap, etc. This was pretty normal behavior for him when we first got him, but definitely uncharacteristic of him in recent years.

For the past few days, I've been giving him rice because he wasn't having solid bowel movements. I just quit giving him rice, so he's back to an all raw diet, and he instantly calmed down. I guess he's just really sensitive to sugars/carbs. I had noticed the pups calmed down a lot when I switched them to raw, but I had attributed that to age. Coral had calmed down a lot around that age so I assumed Duke was doing the same. Guess I was wrong.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Lobster is on sale at HEB right now, so I decided to get one just for fun last night. I split the tail, sprinkled with a little garlic powder and butter and broiled in the toaster oven. Yummy! Unfortunately, I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out, so I only got one lobster. For two people. Those buggers look big, until you see the curled up little tail next to a giant potato. Fortunately, we had lots of sides.

Duke got to enjoy some of the spoils as well. I don't have any crackers to get into the claws, so I just whacked it a few times with our meat tenderizer. That was messy. Duke ever so graciously cleaned the floors for us, and then kept circling the floors looking for more.

With the remnants of the lobster, I made a lobster stock. Just the smell of that was heavenly. I kept hovering over the pot to enjoy the aroma. Today I made lobster bisque with the stock. I wasn't quite sure how well it would work, since I only had one lobster, and my recipe calls for I just kind of made it up as I went. I forgot to run by the store, so I didn't have any sherry. But still, BEST lobster bisque I've ever had. You know you want some.

Lobster Bisque, recipe courtesy Billie Bourque, Bank Street Lobster House, as provided by Food Network.

This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The FN chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.

4 (1 1/2-pound) lobsters
1 1/2 cups tomato paste
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped celery, including leaves
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped carrot
1 sprig thyme
3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, plus extra, for garnish
1/2 teaspoon saffron
6 cups heavy cream
1 cup cream sherry
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup cornstarch

Fill large stockpot with water and bring to a boil. There should be enough water to cover lobsters completely when immersed. Place live lobsters in boiling water head first to minimize splashing. When water re-boils, turn down the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not overcook lobsters. Remove lobsters from the pot using tongs; save all the water in stockpot as this is now a flavorful stock to be re-used.

Place 10 cups of stock in a clean stockpot and put on low heat. Clean claws and tails of lobsters and reserve meat, legs, and swimmerets. After lobsters are cleaned, place shells in stockpot with 10 cups of stock. Cut bodies in quarters and place in stockpot, making sure to include all roe and tomalley in pot. Add 1 cup tomato paste and simmer on low heat for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to have heat so high as to burn stock. Pour entire contents of pot through sieve into clean stockpot; this should now be 8 cups of glorious red stock.

Place onions, celery, carrots, thyme, parsley and saffron in a large saute pan, add 4 cups stock from original stock pot and put on high heat for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup tomato paste and black pepper. Turn down heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Press entire contents of saute pan through sieve into stockpot of 8 cups previously made stock.

To finish Bisque, put pot on medium heat. Add heavy cream slowly, using whisk to blend. Add sherry. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes; bisque will thicken slightly. Mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup water and slowly add to bisque with whisk. Simmer on low heat for another 20 minutes.

If you prefer your bisque to be thicker, you may add more cornstarch, or perhaps, flour, but have found the bisque thickens nicely over low heat, and additional cornstarch or flour takes away from the wonderful flavor.

***I used 1/2 cup each of carrots, onions, and celery; 4 oz of tomato paste, 1 sprig thyme, a sprinkle of dried parsley, and 1/4 teaspoon saffron. I have no idea how much cream or cornstarch I used, I just added it until it looked about the right color/consistancy.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's raining frisbees!

About two months ago, I saw a Frisbee Dog demonstration, and decided that Duke could totally do that. After purchasing a couple inexpensive frisbees, and spending some time tossing it to Duke, I learned a few things: 1. Duke has really strong jaws. With each catch, the frisbee got several new puncture wounds. Fortunately, Duke can't really catch, so each frisbee lasted about.....three days. 2. Frisbees with 40 holes in them don't fly straight. 3. I can't throw.

A friend of mine quickly recommended the Jawz frisbee, which solved problem #2. After about a month of play, they're looking dirty and the paint's coming off, but Duke's teeth have not inflicted any damage. Even though the Jawz is relatively heavy, it's lack of prickly puncture wounds helped greatly with aerodynamics.

Today I meet up with the local Frisbee Dog club, and they had a throwing workshop, exactly what I needed. Between this workshop and a few pointers I got last month, my throwing is getting less sucky. I still suck, mind you, but at least I'm getting better at my backhand throw. The forehand throw....yeah, that's just not pretty. After showing us the techniques, they pulled out about 50 frisbees, and we just went to town throwing them back and forth. At one point there were 10 of us throwing rapidfire, with a couple of the more experienced frisbeedogs working themselves up into a frenzy on the sidelines. One managed to get loose, and he just ran around like a crazed madman, chasing the flurry of frisbees. He probably thought he was in frisbeedog Disneyland.

My wrist is a bit sore from throwing, but Duke is a happy camper, who is currently passed out at my feet from the fun and excitement.

Duke, the Fearless

Duke found something in his yard tonight. It was frightfully scary. He barked at it, but it was unphased. Determined to protect his yard, even though he was obviously terrified, he slowly crept up on it, inch by inch. Only to have Coral and Fletch come up from behind him and pounce on the big, scary......sheet of newspaper. Yes, my dog is a big fat weenie.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tis the season for...cheesecake!

Cheesecake, how I love thee. I was so excited about making this cheesecake, that I got impatient and started before the cream cheese had completely warmed to room temperature. Problem with being impatient, little white cream cheese lumps, which were painfully obvious once the raspberry preserves were added, turning the mixture pink. Because the cream cheese was still a little cold when I started mixing it, I overmixed it, and incorporated too much air, leading to a raspberry layer that got very puffy in the oven and cracked. Fortunately, the white chocolate layer hid any cracks. No cracks in that layer though, maybe because it sat for an hour while the raspberry layer baked.

Double Decker Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake


1 9 ounce package chocolate wafer cookies, coarsely broken
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 12-ounce package frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed, juices reserved
6 ounces good-quality white chocolate, finely chopped

4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

White chocolate curls (optional)

For crust:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Double-wrap outside of pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place cookies in processor and blend until coarse crumbs form. Add butter and process until evenly moistened. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and halfway up sides of prepared pan. Bake crust 8 minutes; cool on rack.

For filling:
Press raspberries and juices through fine strainer into small bowl. Measure 1/2 cup puree for filling (reserve remaining puree for another use). Stir white chocolate in small metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water until just melted and smooth; set aside.

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth and fluffy. Beat in flour, then eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in whipping cream and vanilla. Transfer 2 1/4 cups batter to medium bowl; stir in melted white chocolate. Stir reserved 1/2 cup raspberry puree and almond extract into remaining batter in large bowl.

Pour raspberry batter into prepared crust; place springform pan in large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come 1 inch up sides of pan. Bake until raspberry filling is softly set in center and beginning to puff at edges, about 60 minutes. Remove roasting pan from oven; let raspberry layer cool 5 minutes to firm slightly.

Starting at edge of pan, spoon white chocolate batter in concentric circles onto raspberry layer. Smooth top. Bake until white chocolate filling is set in center, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate cake uncovered until cold, at least 4 hours. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead; cover and keep refrigerated.)

Cut around pan sides with small knife to loosen cheesecake; release sides. Garnish cheesecake with white chocolate curls, if desired.

(optional) Make sauce with chambord, amaretto, puree, sugar

I used 9 ounces of Oreos for the crust. However, the crust seemed a bit greasy. I think I prefer the crust from the Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake, which only calls for 5 tablespoons of butter. 6 seems like overkill, and the sides fell a bit as the crust baked.

I was also too lazy to strain raspberries, so I opted for seedless raspberry preserves. However, the preserves are pretty thick. Diluting it with a little warm water first would have made for easier incorporation.

***After finally getting to taste the cheesecake, the texture was just fine, without any lumps.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


It snowed last night! Here! In Houston! Snow! Coral and Duke were not amused. Duke just ran around in circles on the back patio. Prissy Miss Coral does not like cold or wet. So she ran to her usual rainy day potty spot under the eaves, and was sitting in front of the back door in seconds to be let back in. Fletch was a good sport about the snow. But then, I'm not entirely sure he even noticed it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Brown-Sugar Brown-Butter Shorties

Mmmmm....delicate buttery goodness, with a hint of nutty flavor from the browned butter. And the fragrance....absolutely divine. I'm a sugar fiend though, I think I may sprinkle a little more sugar on top of the dough before baking next time.

Brown Butter Brown Sugar Shorties

Adapted by smitten kitchen from Gourmet

Makes about 32 cookies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (preferably dark)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (flaky salt would be great in these)
Demerara sugar (Sugar in the Raw) or sanding sugar for rolling (optional)

Cut butter into four or five pieces and cook butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until it has a nutty fragrance and flecks on bottom of pan turn a light brown, anywhere from 4 to 7 minutes. It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Transfer butter to a bowl and chill until just firm, about 1 hour.

Beat together butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, then mix in flour and salt at low speed until just combined. Transfer dough to a sheet of wax paper or parchment and form into a 12-inch log, 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Chill, wrapped in wax paper, until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Unwrap dough and roll it in coarse sugar, if using, and press the granules in with the paper you’d be using to wrap it. Slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, arranging 1 1/2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until surface is dry and edges are slightly darker, 10 to 12 minutes. Let sit on sheet for a minute before transferring to a rack to cool. (Cookies will quite fragile at first, but will firm up as they cool.)

Dough keeps, chilled, up to 1 week, or in the freezer, up to one month. Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature 1 week.

And Coral completes the menagerie

Sweet, sweet Coral. These are older picture of her, because I'm in denial about her growing older. She's gotten some grey around her muzzle and on her chin lately, which makes me very sad. She can still run and play with the best of them, but she has lost some patience for hyper puppies that bounce all over her. She has, however, been great as far as teaching my fosters puppy manners.

One of her favorite activities is jumping into ponds after her bumper. LOVES it. when we go to Millie Bush dog park, or Bill Archer dog park, she runs straight to the pool and whines and waits for me to throw her bumper. So I thought DockDogs would be a fun activity for her. For DockDogs, the pup goes to the end of a deck, and jumps into the water after a toy. This was Coral's very first jump.
Isn't she talented? ;) Go go to see how it's really done.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Duke is a Dog Star!

This weekend our local dog park club had a party, and I brought Duke with me. We entered the stupid pet trick contest, and my silly Duke won first place! He showed off several of his tricks, including sitting pretty, balancing a treat on his nose before tossing it up and catching it, and standing up straight on his hind legs and walking forward. He's a very talented boy.

Enjoy another laugh at Duke's's a slideshow of the world's cruelest torture, peanut butter on the nose.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Meet Monkey!

Meet my current foster dog, Fletch. He's a very silly monkey, thus his nickname. He's about a year old, and is still very puppyful. Life with Monkey is always entertaining. He's very active, and while he has super long legs, he hasn't quite figured out how to work them yet, so seeing all 4 legs fly in different directions is not an uncommon occurrence. Nor is watching him trip over his own feet. He's doing very well learning basic obedience, and working on puppy manners. He's sweet as can be, and loves all other dogs and people. He's still learning to speak dog and learning when other dogs have had enough, but he's very quick to defer and flop into an omega roll or play bow when my cranky female has played enough. He certainly means no harm though, and just wants to play all the time. I take him to the dog park frequently, which he absolutely adores. He finds pups to run around and play with, and then takes short breaks to visit all the people and love on them.

I foster through a great rescue group called Scout's Honor ( Scout's Honor is an all-breeds rescue that typically has almost 100 dogs and cats in their program at any given time. Most of these guys come from pretty dire circumstances. Many were pulled at the last minute from kill shelters. Some were strays with nowhere else to go. Some needed expensive surgeries that other rescues/shelters were not able to provide. The ones in the program are the lucky ones though. Once they make it in, they're provided for, and have a foster home that takes care of them. Unfortunately, we can't take in every dog or cat--funds and resources are too limited. So this season, if you can, don't forget our furry friends. Donations of money, time, food, towels, or toys are always appreciated.