Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Creamy Mango Sorbet and Watermelon Sorbet

The ice cream maker is my friend. It's been hard at work lately. Because I only had heavy whipping cream in the house, this is more of an ice cream than a sorbet. Creamy mangoey goodness. How can you go wrong?

I also made a watermelon sorbet last week which was super yummy and also super easy. Since the watermelon was already so sweet, I halved the sugar. Unfortunately, I think the decreased sugar resulted in a rock-hard sorbet the next day. It was still tasty, mind you, but it didn't make for pretty pictures. Next time I'll eat it faster.

Creamy Mango Sorbet
Source: www.allrecipes.com
2 mangos - peeled, seeded, and cubed
1 cup sugar
1 cup cream
1 cup ice

Place cubed mangos, sugar, cream, and ice into a blender; puree until smooth.
Pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's directions. Transfer the sorbet to an airtight container and place in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours before serving.

Watermelon Sorbet
Source: www.foodnetwork.com

1 pound, 5 ounces diced watermelon, muskmelon or honeydew
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons vodka
9 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/4 cups

Place the melon in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice, vodka, and sugar and process for another 30 seconds. Place the mixture into the refrigerator until the mixture reaches 40 degrees F; depending on the temperature of your ingredients and refrigerator, this could take 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's directions. Transfer the sorbet to an airtight container and place in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours before serving.

Friday, June 26, 2009

FrisbeeDog demo yesterday

Working with Duke on new tricks and frisbee jumps.....good idea.
Thinking I can show them off at the next frisbee demo....dumb idea. Especially when the demo is outside at noon on a 100 degree day. Duke wasn't interested in playing. His speed decreases exponentially as it gets hotter, and he's not exactly a speed demon to begin with. Duke and I have only been practicing lately after 8 or 9 pm when it cools down a bit. He even has a snazzy new glow-in-the-dark frisbee if it's really dark. I did a couple short throws to warm him up, and he was slow, but fine. Once we started the demo, he caught his frisbee, and just stood there in the shade. He may be smarter than I thought.

One of the new jumps we've been working on is what I affectionately call the throatpunch move. This is what it's supposed to look like when done properly. Dog is in front of the handler, and jumps over them.

However, to teach it, you start off in this rather unattractive position to make sure the dog jumps over you rather than cheating off to the side.

Have I mentioned that Duke tends to jump short? He missed and landed on top of me, hitting me with one paw in the stomach, one on my hip, one right on my throat, and the fourth one right by my ear, pinning me by my hair. It hurt. Tim suggested not practicing this move without adult supervision anymore.

Some of my fav shots from the day:
Chaser takes a photo op.

Lexie is a new puppy to the sport, and is distracted very easily by the clicks from the corner.

Little Zoey is also new to the sport, but had so much fun demo'ing today she's giving her daddy wet willies to thank him.

I'm a dobie, and I has big teefs. (I think this is Jake.)

Jumping's for those little dogs, I'll just stretch.

Taz likes to jump, and likes to go long. Taz does NOT like boring close stuff.

Taz says "MOMMA! What did I just tell you about the boring close stuff?!"

Little sister Dakota has been hanging around Taz too much.

Too far Taz, frisbee's behind you!

Little Wendy in her natural state. Crazy about the frisbee and airborne.

Bucky thinks if he looks sad enough, someone will play frisbee with him.

A million zillion more pictures here:
Just pictures I took, so you're out of luck if you wanna see pictures of Duke giving me the paw.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dark and White Chocolate Napoleons

Otherwise known as "How to clog your arteries in three easy steps." It's chocolate mousse sandwiched between layers of chocolate phyllo. The individual parts are tasty on their own, but amazing together. It's not a difficult recipe, but I did manage to make an impressive mess in the kitchen. But I just seem to have a knack for that. That's the real reason I don't take pictures of the actual baking process, I don't want people to know just how big of a mess I make.

I use clarified butter for the phyllo. The recipe calls for just melted unsalted butter, but Alton Brown says it's better to use clarified butter because removing all the water and milk solids is better for the phyllo. And you don't argue with Alton Brown. Just do what the man tells you. I also learned that clarified butter has a much higher smoke point than regular butter...which means you can cook with it more easily than regular butter. Nom, nom!

So I found this video by The Seasoned Cook and opted to slowly melt 2 sticks of butter over low heat, skim off the milk solids, and then ladle off 4 oz of the clarified butter for the recipe. Then I whisked in 1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa power, and I was ready to go. Brush some of the butter on parchment paper, and place a sheet of phyllo on top. Brush with more butter, add another layer of phyllo. Repeat for 4 layers of phyllo. (I was supposed to sprinkle a little sugar on between layers, but I forgot, so I just sprinkled it liberally on both sides of the stacks before baking.) Refrigerate until the butter solidifies (30 minutes) and cut into 2 by 3 inch rectangles with a pizza wheel. Place a silicone baking mat over the phyllo to keep it flat and bake for 10 minutes at 350.

Dark and White Chocolate Napoleons
Source: Chocolate Epiphany by Fran├žois Payard

Recipe can be found here, on page 30 and 31.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cookies or cheesecake...

That is the question. Or is it? Why choose when you could have both? Martha Stewart's cheesecake thumbprints were perfect for using up half a block of cream cheese left over from the Bavarian cheesecake. The only fault of these bite-sized buttery goodies is that they disappeared too quickly. While I would have preferred a higher cheesecake to cookie ratio, it didn't slow me down any. If I made these again, I would probably double the cookie recipe, triple the cheesecake recipe, and make bigger wells that could hold more cheesecake. But I'm not exactly known for my self-control when cheesecake is involved.

Cheesecake Thumbprints
Source: Martha Stewarts Baking Handbook

4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar,
1/4 tsp salt, plus a pinch
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tsps sour cream
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups flour

In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add 1/4 cup sugar, a pinch of salt and beat until smooth. Add 1 egg yolk, sour cream, vanilla and beat until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350, with rack in the upper and lower thirds. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and remaining 1/4 cup sugar on medium speed until well combined, scraping down the side of the bowel as needed. Add remaining 1/4 tsp salt and egg yolk, beat to combine. With mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour, mixing until combined.

Shape level tablespoons of dough into balls, and place on prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Using the lightly floured end of a think wooden spoon handle (or your thumb), make an indentation in the center of each ball.

Bake 10 minutes; remove from oven and make indentations again. Rotate sheets, return to oven and bake until edges of cookies begin to turn golden, 7-9 minutes more. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Using a small teaspoon, fill the center of each cookies with about 1 teaspoon cream cheese filling, mounding it slightly. Return cookies to the oven, and bake until the filling is firm, 7-8 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate in an airtight container, layered between wax or parchment paper, at least 4 hours before serving. (Cookies can be refrigerated overnight.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Anyone want a fluffybutt mix?

We think she's a St. Bernard mix, but I personally thinks she's too dainty and ladylike to be a drooly Bernard. Most people think she's a baby because she's got some big paws, but I really think she's a bit older, between a year and two years. We all agree, though, that she is a complete sweetheart. She was dumped at someone's home, but they are unable to keep her, so she's being fostered by my brother-in-law and his wife. According to the couple, she's a counter surfer, but she was at my house with meat, cookies, and dog biscuits on the counter, and not once did she even look like she was going to try anything. She sniffed the trash a couple times, but stopped with a quick verbal correction. She appears to be housebroken, is very sweet and friendly with other dogs. While she played well with my pups, she doesn't appear to be too active. She's a complete lovebug, and loves to be petted. She doesn't appear to know any commands, but she is mellow, well mannered, doesn't jump, and will probably be pretty easy to train

Friday, June 12, 2009

Duke's new crate

With all the demos and activities the Houston Canine Frisbee Club does, I decided it was time to get a travel crate. After learning that the largest plastic crate is incredibly bulky and very heavy (45 pounds), I realized that I need a soft-sided crate. Fortunately for me, www.dog.com had a very conveniently timed sale on crates. I got this one in XL for $35. It only weighs about 10 pounds and has a handy bag to lug it around in. It just arrived today, and Coral loves it. Duke is a little leery of it, but Coral keeps darting in there.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy Anniversary to us!

Four crazy years ago, Tim and I got hitched. It was a crazy time because we bought a house, got hitched, and adopted a dog all in a month. It was a good time though, because we were surrounded by supportive friends and family. And good cake. To this day, the only thing people remember about our wedding is the wedding cake. It was that good.

Our wedding cake was a Bavarian cheesecake, with a layer of cheesecake sandwiched between two layers of sponge cake. Except for the reception venue (which included rental, full bar, and dinner), and the photographer, the cake was one of our biggest expenses, costing more than my TWO dresses plus alterations. But when we were sampling cakes, I took one bite and proclaimed it was the greatest thing ever invented, and insisted I was having this cake at my wedding.

So when I found this recipe, of course I had to try it. I can't find baker's cheese, so I just used 12 ounces of cream cheese instead. After letting the cake harden in the fridge overnight, I made a quick whipped cream icing and slapped it on. It wasn't pretty, but it's whipped cream, it doesn't have to be.

Making the cake was a bit chaotic. Reminds me that I still would like an extra bowl for my mixer (this one), hint, hint. Beating egg whites by hand for the cake was still not fun. Then I had to beat the whipped cream, transfer to another bowl, wash the bowl, and make the rest of the filling. Course, the cream cheese that I just bought earlier in the day was bad, so I had to make a run to the grocery store just for cream cheese. After assembling the cake, I decided I wanted to cover it with whipped cream, but didn't have enough, so I had to run to the store again. Then I was looking up how much sugar to add, and realized that whipped cream doesn't stay whipped for long, and that ideally, I'd add a little unflavored gelatin to help it hold it's shape. But I didn't want to run to the store a third time for this cake, so I'm just freezing the cake, and we'll thaw slices as we eat them. We had so much leftover wedding cake that we were eating it for months, and I actually preferred it slightly frozen.

This recipe is a reasonable facsimile of our wedding cake, but not quite as good. Because of the whipped cream in the filling, it was quite airy. And I could definitely tell a texture difference between this no-bake cheesecake with gelatin and a standard baked cheesecake. Not all of the filling fit in the springform pan, so I ate some of the filling before it chilled, and I really liked it then; I just didn't care for the texture of the chilled filling. But I'm sure it will just be liquidy goo without the gelatin. Maybe halving the gelatin would give me the result I'm looking for.

Oh, and because I have an extreme aversion to raw eggs, I used pasteurized eggs. The yolks were a brighter yellow than regular eggs, and the yolks broke very easily, so I had a hard time separating them. But, since I have 10 pasteurized eggs left, I see mousse in my future. I've been dying to make it, but I fear raw eggage.

Bavarian Cheesecake
source: http://allears.net/din/rec_bc.htm

6 ounces Cream Cheese
6 ounces Baker's Cheese
2 Egg Yolks
4 ounces Granulated Sugar
8 ounces Sour Cream
1 ounce Lemon Juice
12 ounces Heavy Cream
1/2 ounce Gelatin
2 ounces Water
Vanilla Sponge Cake -- recipe follows


3/4 cup Sugar (granulated)
4 Egg yolks
1 teaspoon. Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup Flour (all-purpose)
3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
4 Egg Whites

1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a mixer, add the egg yolks and sugar beat until light and creamy. Add the vanilla extract.

4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Beat until smooth.

5. Whip the egg whites until stiff, but not dry. Gently fold this into the cake batter.

6. Place into two separate greased and lined 8-inch round cake pans. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes.


1. Whip heavy cream until soft peaks. Set aside.

2. Mix together in a mixing bowl the cream cheese, baker's cheese, egg yolks, and granulated sugar until smooth. Then add the sour cream and mix until smooth.

3. Gently add the whipped mixture to the cheese mixture being careful not to over whip.

4. Dissolve the gelatin in the water over a double boiler until the mixture is clear. Be careful not to whip the gelatin so it does not get air bubbles in it.

5. Add the gelatin mixture into the cheese mixture and fold quickly. When adding the gelatin mixture to the cheese mixture set the mixer on medium speed, and add it from the edge of the bowl, being careful not to get the gelatin on the whip or the side of the bowl so as to prevent lumping.

6. Using a springform pan, place one of the vanilla sponge cakes smooth side down. Immediately pour the cheese mixture on the cake, and smooth out surface. Then place the other cake on top with the smooth side out. Let set overnight.

7. Remove the cake from the springform pan. Sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar. This cake can be served with any of your favorite fresh fruit sauce(s).

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lime Meltaway Cookies

I've never particularly been a Martha Stewart fan. I always found her slightly creepy with all her cooking and arts and craftiness. That, and the whole insider trading thing didn't help things either. But recently I find myself flipping through more and more of her books. Because while she's an icon that no normal woman could ever live up to, the woman can cook. And they're normal, easy to follow recipes.

These cookies are good as is, but I'm a child of the Sour Patch Kid and sour Tearjerker candy generation, so I like a little more bite in my sour goodies. I would probably throw in the zest of a third lime next time. Two limes is limey, but not overly tart.

Lime Meltaways
Source: www.marthastewart.com

Makes about 10 dozen
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Grated zest of 2 limes
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream butter and 1/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla; beat until fluffy.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and beat on low speed until combined.
Between two 8-by-12-inch pieces of parchment paper, roll dough into two 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. Chill at least 1 hour.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Place remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Remove parchment from logs; slice dough into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets, spaced 1 inch apart.
Bake cookies until barely golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. While still warm, place cookies in the sugar-filled bag; toss to coat. Bake or freeze remaining dough. Store baked cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Giggling Treat Ball

Forgive the silly blogger who didn't realize how dark the videos were. If I were smart, I would have opened the windows.

And unfortunately, my circa 2003 camera doesn't do sound (I need a new one, hint, hint), the giggling treat ball makes funny noises when it's rolled around. The pups started bouncing all over the place as soon as I opened the box, and they went to town once I put a handful of treats in it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Party at my place!

These are the occupants of my house right now:
Wilbur (dog)
Pixie (dog)
Dolly (dog)
Phantom (dog)
Bug (cat)
Blue (cat)
Ember (cat)
Sunshine (bird)
Grandma (bird)
Izzy (bird)

Duke's not sure what to make of the herd of pugs in his living room.

If you want more pictures, go here.