Biscuit’s Frozen Birthday Treats

July 13, 2012 § 2 Comments

Every year, Biscuit has a birthday party.  Yes, a dog birthday party.  It is a joyous time when friends and family convene to barbeque in the backyard, tails wag, hot dogs get stolen out of hands and dog tricks and treats abound.  Biscuit really knows how to celebrate.

There is something about watching the unabashed joy of a dog birthday party.  There is excitement and bright, pure, unfiltered happiness that make lips curl into smiles, tails swish back and forth, wet noses nuzzle in laps and little giggles slip out of mouths.

Usually it is the simple, everyday kind of things that make this joy come alive at a dog’s birthday. Guests simply enter through the gate into the backyard and Biscuit is overcome by happiness.  He rushes to greet every single person, as if he has been waiting for him or her to arrive for weeks (and maybe he really has).  Inevitably, Biscuit receives birthday presents during his party.  This, too, overwhelms him with excitement.  It is not the present and how it sparkles, how expensive it is or if it is the latest tech gadget or brand name, but the wrapping paper that gives Biscuit his delight.  He tears off the wrapping paper, tosses it around the yard and then prances by everyone in the party to show off his treasure that he carefully carries in his mouth.  After a couple of hours of running around the yard with dog party guests, covertly trying to steal chips and grilled hotdogs and hamburgers off the table and endlessly dropping balls and toys at people’s feet inviting, no, insisting that they play, Biscuit collapses at my feet in a content and tired heap, panting with his tongue out and dripping, and with what looks to be a smile on his face.

The unrivaled excitement and happiness of these moments make Biscuit’s birthday the best party we throw all year.  I don’t know of any other party where the guest of honor may steal your food or whack your drink over with their tail, but I also don’t know of any party where the guest of honor exudes such excitement and genuine jubilation at just being by people that he loves.  And he loves everybody, especially when they come to his party.

This year, I plan on serving peanut butter banana frozen yogurt dog treats to Biscuit and all of his animal guests.  I gave Biscuit a pre-birthday tasting of these treats before his big day.  Immediately when I popped the treats out of the freezer, I saw Biscuit’s nose twitch and heard his paws prance over to where I was standing.  He sat down (one of his time-honored tricks) looked mournfully up at me and perked up his ears (Biscuit knows that this practice and honed tactic will get him a treat every time).  Biscuit, again, was elated at this surprise frozen treat.

To Biscuit, the world is a beautiful, joyful place where happiness is pure and simple.  It is in many things – an arriving guest, a ball to play with, a pat on the head and a cold treat on a hot summer day.

Biscuit’s Frozen Birthday Treats

Adapted from bunnyroobeagle.com

Ingredients:

18 ounces plain low fat yogurt

½ cup peanut butter

4 ounces mashed ripe banana or jar of banana baby food

1 tablespoon honey

8 miniature dog milkbones to use as popsicle sticks

Mix yogurt, peanut butter, banana and honey in a large bowl until thoroughly combined.  Pour mixture into mini Dixie cups and stick the milkbone in the center of treat.  Freeze for 24 hrs.

When ready to serve- peel away Dixie cup and give to your pup on a hot summer day or at your next dog birthday party :)

Wine Poached Cherries with Ricotta

June 27, 2012 § 3 Comments

There is an old cherry tree in the back of my mother’s yard.  There, every other year, friends and family gather to pick cherries when tips of branches drip with ripe, juicy, deep red fruit in the warm sun of early summer.

This year, there was a bumper crop.  The branches sagged low to the ground with the weight of the plump cherries and on every branch and twig; there hung a round, red cherry ready to be devoured.  Hungry birds were frantically shooed away, and phone calls went out to inform the anticipating cherry lovers that the tree was ready for picking.  Only a few words were said during these phone calls, “The cherries are ready for picking, better come fast.”  Minutes from these calls, visitors rapped on the back screen door with buckets in hand and wooden ladders already leaning against the trunk of the old tree.

My mother always walks out to the old cherry tree with the visitors, chatting about the crop of cherries, how the birds, squirrels and raccoons have already started their feast, reminiscing about the cherry tree that used to be on her grandparent’s farm, where family members, like with my mother’s tree, gathered in their old clothes with buckets and ladders to pick cherries.

The lowest branches of the tree are saved for children who are still too small to climb on the branches of the old tree or the ladder that leans against its trunk.  The children gaze in wonder at the luscious fruit and delicately select the very best cherries from the sagging, low branches, popping some cherries in their mouths and placing others, reserved for later, gently in the bucket.

Only one or two days after the phone calls to the expectant cherry pickers and the flurry of visitors, the cherries vanish. There are no signs, no sentimental goodbyes until next time, just a quiet morning where my mother makes the discovery. She wakes up and walks out into a yard still sprinkled with morning dew.  The cherry tree is stripped, even the birds that readily found ripe cherries on the topmost outer branches now flurry from limb to limb searching for the sweet fruit.  My mother pushes the branches from side to side, goes under the tree and gazes up through intertwining limbs and undulating light, trying to spy a dot of red.  Nothing- not one ripe cherry is left.  The beauty and bounty of the cherry tree is fleeting, and all who know nature understand this.

A smile spreads across my mother’s face as she thinks about the visitors, the cherries that were popped in mouths and smeared on old clothes, the plop, plop of cherries as they dropped in metal buckets from wooden old ladders.  Not all things about nature are temporary

This year, I was fortunate enough to receive some of these cherished cherries.  With these delicious treasures, I made wine poached cherries with ricotta.

Wine Poached Cherries with Ricotta Recipe

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

-2 1/4 pounds cherries, pitted, room temperature

-2 cups dry red wine

-2/3 cup sugar

-1 vanilla bean sliced and scraped – seeds and bean reserved

-3 fresh basil leaves

-3 three-inch strips lemon zest

-1 1/2 cups fresh ricotta cheese

Directions:

Pit cherries and put in a large heatproof bowl.

In a medium saucepan, combine wine, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, basil and lemon zest.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Pour hot mixture over cherries.

Let cherries soak in wine mixture until they are slightly soft (about 1 hour).

Drain cherries, reserving the poaching liquid.  Discard the basil, vanilla bean and lemon zest strips.  Put liquid into a medium saucepan and cherries into a large bowl.  Bring wine poaching liquid to a boil and continue to boil until liquid has reduced to 1 cup.

Pour hot liquid over cherries and chill for a minimum of 1 hour.

Serve cherries in a shallow bowl topped with ricotta.

Enjoy!

New England Clam Chowder

June 21, 2012 § 7 Comments

My mother once told me that I have saltwater in my blood.  She didn’t mean, literally, that I have saltwater running through my veins.  She meant that the ocean had become a part of me.  I feel like this is a particularly true statement.   I grew up with the sea as my salty, tumultuous, yet beautiful friend. I once knew a wealth of the sea’s secrets and treasures – signs of the changing tides, hidden sandbars, little hermit crabs that scuttled in the receding waves, fresh mussels that clung to rocky piers, fancy sea glass that was frosted over after years of being washed by sandy tides.  Although I don’t live next to the sea anymore, the ocean still calls for me like a lost friend, and I yearn to know its treasures and secrets like I did as a young child.
Recently I answered one of those distant calls and returned to my home by the sea where my father still lives in Connecticut.  Hermann Broch once said, “Those who live by the sea can hardly form a single thought of which the sea would not be a part.”  Even though I have lived in the Midwest for years now, I reclaimed this mindset as soon as I stepped on Connecticut soil.  Memories of the ocean flooded my mind with my first breath of salty air as images and thoughts of sandy shores, beach sunsets, sun-soaked beach days and fresh seafood gradually replaced meadows, lakes, farm fields and cheese. The same mindset is apparently true for my father as well because the first thing on the agenda of my visit was to stop by Lobster Landing, a local lobster shack owned by Bacci, a lobsterman, that is a neighbor and longtime friend of my father.

Lobster Landing is a quintessential New England seafood staple.  It has been written up by the New York Times and receives rave reviews from all who visit, yet seems to be nicely unaware of all the press and prestige, nestled away in a quiet harbor selling fresh lobsters, steamers and lobster rolls.  Bacci, who owns Lobster Landing, is a true lobsterman who wears a red bandanna around his head, has a windblown and sunburned face and is a vibrant man who shook my hand and gave me a hug when we arrived.  He immediately informed my father that I needed a big lobster dinner because I had been deprived of fresh seafood for so long living in Minnesota.  My father wholeheartedly agreed.  Bacci proudly ushered us over to his lobster tanks, stuck in his hand, and quickly pulled out two very alive lobsters as they flailed their legs and snapped their tails.  He threw them in a brown paper bag as he murmured goodbye sentiments.  Next, he insisted that we must have steamer clams for our lobster dinner and ushered us exuberantly over to another bin where he pulled out handfuls of clams and threw them in another brown paper bag.  Minutes later, we walked out of Lobster Landing with a friendly slap on the back, lemons, potatoes, two lobsters and pounds of clams ready to make a genuine New England lobster dinner.
It was heaven eating this lobster.  The seafood was fresh, salty, rich and deeply satisfying.  I was back home in mind, spirit and stomach.  Even after eating close to two pounds of lobster, potatoes, and what seemed to be hundreds of steamers, there were still pounds of clams leftover.  More than enough clam broth, potatoes and clams to make New England clam chowder.
The next morning my father and I visited the local market and bought bread, cream, thyme, bay leaves, sherry, onions and cherrystone clams to complete our clam chowder recipe.  The steamers and reserved clam broth from the lobster dinner, combined nicely with our freshly bought ingredients and married together as it warmed and simmered in a big pot.  The result was a dinner almost as delicious, if not equal to, my long-awaited lobster dinner of the prior night.  I had never had chowder so fresh and full of clams.  Spoonfuls heaped with clams and potatoes drunk with cream, sherry, thyme and bay leaf flavoring.   The ocean had given me yet another treasure.
Now, at home in Minnesota, far away from salty sea shores and lobster shacks, I hear the ocean calling for me to come back.  For now, I cannot answer the call, but it helps to know I have a fresh dose of saltwater running through my veins.
New England Clam Chowder Recipe
Ingredients
1 pound steamer clams steamed and then removed from shell
1 pound cherrystone clams steamed and then removed from shell
3 cups of juices reserved from steamed clams or lobster boil (use bottled clam juice if there isn’t enough reserved)
3 bacon slices diced
1 onion diced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves chopped
1 pound of cooked red potatoes diced
3 cups heavy cream
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups of french baguette bread cut into crouton sized pieces
Put about 3 ½ inches of water  (or just enough to cover the bottom half of the ingredients)  in the bottom of a big pot and boil.  Put in whole red potatoes and steam for about 10 minutes.  Add steamer clams and cherrystone clams to the pot and cover pot with lid.  Steam clams for about 6 minutes.  Remove clams from shells, throw away shells but reserve clam flesh.  Cool and chop clams.  Remove potatoes, cool and chop.  Reserve broth.
Cook the bacon slowly over medium high heat in a large pot.  Remove bacon when lightly crispy but reserve grease in pot.  Cool bacon slightly and dice and store, momentarily, on a paper towel.
Add onion to the bacon grease in the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Add flour and cook over low heat for about 2 minutes
Whisk in clam broth and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the fresh thyme, bay leaf and potatoes.  Simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add cream, clams, sherry, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and pepper.  Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Make the croutons.  Chop french baguette into crouton sized pieces.  Heat 2 tablespoons of butter on a large skillet over medium heat.  Add baguette pieces and coat with evenly with butter by stirring in skillet.  Add ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.  Stir croutons again to make sure they are evenly coated with seasoning.  Toast croutons in skillet for about 5-8 minutes, flipping and stirring croutons periodically to make sure all sides are browned and toasted.
Top clam chowder with croutons and enjoy a taste of the sea!

Early Morning Chocolate Swirled Pastry Bread

June 14, 2012 § 3 Comments

I like the idea of getting up early in the morning – seeing the sunrise, soft morning light seeping through tree branches, Biscuit blinking sleepily on his dog bed at the first morning movement, as a whole day looms ahead of me full of endless possibilities.  In the morning, everything is new and full of promise.  After a deep sleep, things seem more alive and restored. Plants stretch and unfold, soaking in the warmth and light, squirrels scamper up and down trees in the yard, our cat Huckleberry is momentarily good friends with Biscuit and gently rubs against his long legs.

But after about a full minute of enjoying this slow morning time, the pace drastically changes.  Biscuit starts whining and Huckleberry starts yammering.  They must be fed IMMEDIATELY!  I have to make the bed, walk Biscuit, do a load of laundry, pack a lunch, shower, gather all of my belongings together and get out the door as soon as possible.  Needless to say, sitting down and savoring breakfast, is not a top priority.  Most weekday beginnings, after the first glimpse of morning sunlight, are harried and frenzied.

Saturday mornings, however, are blissful.  I rise early, not because of a blaring alarm clock, but because my internal clock tells me to get up.  I enjoy the first few moments of morning light, Biscuit’s sleepy eye blinks, stretches, and Huckleberry’s congeniality like weekday mornings, and then I take the time to prepare a slow breakfast.

This week, I prepared chocolate swirled pastry bread.  For me, preparing bread early in the morning is one of the wonderful simple pleasures in life.  The process is impossible to rush and with this slowing down, things in life also start to become easy, gradual and deliberate.  I have been reading the book French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon and came across this quote by Janet Luhrs, “Cooking can be an act of love and delight, or it can be yet another exercise in racing through life on automatic pilot- never stopping for a moment to notice, feel or taste.  Cooking prepared as an act of love brings us renewed energy and vigor.” Slow Saturday mornings seemed in perfect alignment with Luhrs’ thinking.

When making the chocolate swirled pastry bread last Saturday morning, I tried to bake as an act of “love and delight” as Luhrs suggested.  I enjoyed the process, felt the shapes and folds of the smooth, elastic dough.  I inhaled slowly as the chocolate melted for the ganache and took the time to notice the richer more rounded smell as I added the butter, syrup, egg and rum.  I observed the beautiful contrast of the dark ganache on yellow pastry dough and how the butter in the dough glistened as it warmed and rose.  The bread baked and filled the house with the sweet smell of chocolate and buttery pastry dough.

As I enjoyed two warm slices of bread on the patio table, I felt just as Luhrs described: renewed with energy and vigor.  Even though the rising and baking time added up to hours, I did not feel anxious, harried or frenzied like most mornings that I am wrestling with time, but relaxed, rejuvenated, and satisfied.  It may not be possible to devote hours to baking a pastry bread every morning, but I do know it is possible to enjoy the remnants of slow Saturday morning baking during the weekday mornings.  If only for a couple minutes, I can sit on the patio on warm summer mornings, and slow down momentarily to notice the taste, touch and smell of a slow baked pastry bread made with love and delight.

Early Morning Chocolate Swirled Pastry Bread

Adapted from  Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by: Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

For the Brioche Bread:

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

8 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup honey

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, melted

7 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 egg beaten for egg wash spread on top of bread

granulated sugar for sprinkling on top

For the Chocolate Ganache:

1/4 pound good quality bittersweet chocolate chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

5 tablespoons corn syrup

1 tablespoon rum

1 egg white, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

The Brioche dough is best prepared the day before, but can be made day of by decreasing the amount of flour by 1 cup.

Dough Directions: Mix the water, yeast, salt, eggs, honey and melted butter in a electric mixing bowl or large mixing bowl. Slowly mix in the flour on a low speed until all of the flour is incorporated. Transfer dough to a 5 qt. storage container and allow to sit and rise for about two hours (the dough should double in size and begin to collapse. Refrigerate dough in a lidded, but not airtight, and store overnight

Early Morning Chocolate Swirl Pastry Bread Directions:

Prepare the chocolate ganache first.  Melt the chocolate in a double broiler.  Immediately remove from heat when all of chocolate is melted.  Stir in butter until incorporated.

Mix together the cocoa powder, rum and corn syrup until smooth.  Add to the chocolate mixture.

Lightly butter a 9x4x3 inch loaf pan.

Dust the surface of stored Brioche dough with flour and cut off a one pound piece of dough (there will be dough leftover that can be stored and used for more baking) Shape dough into a ball and then roll out into a  ¼ inch thick rectangle with a rolling pin.  Dust with flour lightly if dough is becoming sticky.

Spread ½ cup of the chocolate ganache over the center of the dough rectangle and spread on dough leaving a 1 inch border on all sides. Start at the bottom short edge of the rectangle and roll dough.  Tuck ends of the loaf beneath and form into a oval loaf and place in the loaf pan.

Let dough rest for 1 hour and 40 minutes in a warm spot.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and brush loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake the loaf for 40 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Remove loaf from pan and cool slightly.

Spread remaining ganache on top of the loaf and reserve some for dipping.

Enjoy!

Fresh Mango Salsa

June 4, 2012 § 5 Comments

A good portion of my life has been spent daydreaming. When I was little, I dwelled in imaginary worlds with eccentric imaginary friends.  Now, as my life has turned more hectic, and I have lost the whimsy of childhood, I daydream for the more tangible and realistic. I dream of summer.

I find that Minnesota is a perfect state for dreamers, mostly because it’s frozen for most of the year, which prevents most people from doing anything outside. Breath freezes before it escapes open mouths, tiny icicles form around nostrils and the very tips of toes hurt and start to tingle, all while just bringing the groceries back to the car in the parking lot. These conditions almost force ingenuity and creativity in a home setting. It also provides ample time for sitting and thinking.  Come February, after enduring about four months of bitter temperatures, almost all my daydreams focus around summer and warmer temperatures.

And then suddenly it happens.  The daydreams start to come true.  The ice gradually thaws and it seems after waiting years for just a glimpse of green, everything is born – new, green, fresh and living.  I begin to sleep with cracked windows and listen to the rain pitter-patter on the drain spout and soak into the awakening ground.  Then the birds start to get up early to sing and the windows are opened wider, screens are put on, and fresh warm breezes float on the edges of softening winter chills.

Now, there are real, genuine signs that summer is here and with summer comes the want, no, the need, for fresh fruit and vegetables and long lazy dinners sitting outside at the patio table talking, letting the twilight tip toe in as the warmth of the sun hides behind the horizon.

On one warm day, I deeply craved fresh homemade mango salsa – a staple of my summer eating.  The crisp crunch of fresh vegetables, the spicy notes of fresh jalapenos and sweet juicy mango make this the ideal summertime dish.  Mango salsa is perfect for lazy outside dinners with long conversations, meandering thoughts of summer plans, and a content Biscuit sprawled out in a fading sunbeam.  It is fresh, easy, vibrant with summer color and pairs nicely with pork, grilled fish or chicken.  Mango salsa is best eaten outside on a warm summer day, but it is also delightful to dream about at any time you please.

Fresh Mango Salsa

Serves 10

Ingredients

2 mangos skinned and diced

1 red pepper diced

1 jalapeno chopped(take the seeds out or omit according to desired spice level)

1 cucumber skinned and diced

1 small red onion diced

juice from one freshly squeezed lime

1 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic minced

½ cup of fresh chopped cilantro

Cut up mangos, cucumber, onion, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, red pepper and mix together.  Squeeze the juice of one lime over the top of mixture and sprinkle with salt and mix again.  Done!

Fried Pork Chops with Mango Salsa

Ingredients for chops

Serves 4

4 pork chops

1 cup of bread crumbs

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 eggs (whites only)

Mango Salsa (see recipe above)

Combine bread crumbs, cumin, salt, paprika, chili and pepper.  Spread mixture out on a plate and set aside.

Dip pork chops into egg whites and then transfer to plate with bread crumb mixture.  Evenly coat each side of pork chops with bread crumb mixture by pressing each side of the chop down lightly into bread crumb mixture on plate.

Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.  When the oil is hot (you can see ripples) add the pork chops.  Let each side fry for about 6 minutes.  The interior temperature of the chops should be around 155-160 degrees when done.

Top liberally with fresh mango salsa and enjoy!

Redemptive Rhubarb Strawberry Crumble Bars

May 29, 2012 § 13 Comments

Recently, I have made it my mission to seek out the redeeming qualities in things, people and decisions. Biscuit’s redeeming qualities are that he is cute, soft and cuddly, unconditionally loving, and endlessly entertaining.  A few weekends ago, I discovered that one of my redeeming qualities is my ability to make rhubarb strawberry crumble bars (among numerous other qualities of course).  These bars also redeemed one of the poorer decisions I made that weekend (The Pool Disaster Weekend).

One of the good decisions I made on Pool Disaster Weekend was to make my first farmer’s market expedition this spring.  The rhubarb at the market immediately caught my eye.  It is one of the few vegetables that is currently in season in Minnesota.  It was in full force at the market and looked deliciously fresh.  After going past stand after stand of rhubarb, trying to eye up the perfect batch, I spotted intense hues of red and green in sturdy, crisp stalks.  I could not resist buying a few bundles to make rhubarb strawberry crumble bars.

As I made the bars, everything seemed to go together perfectly – the rhubarb was crisp and tangy, the strawberries sweet and juicy, the buttery crumble and crisp crust complemented each other like an old married couple.

I decided to bring these bars and pair them with vanilla ice cream for a poolside get-together at my fiancé,  Sam’s,  parent’s house – a good decision.

Then, I made one of the worst decisions of the weekend.  I decided to bring Biscuit to the pool get-together.  To understand why this was such a bad decision, some background information would be beneficial about Biscuit’s pool tyranny.  The following is a typical step-by-step pool gathering for Biscuit:

Step 1: Whine and bark at a high-pitched level during the car ride to the pool. Optimal whining and barking to be done directly behind owners’ ears.

Step 2: Bust out of car and sprint directly to backyard pool gate upon arrival, dragging owner on leash behind.

Step 3: Enter backyard pool vicinity.  Go directly to pool, jump in when guests are yelling, “No Biscuit, No!”  Swim immediately to pool kiddie toys and floaties and take them as own.

Step 4: Initiate game of chase with a three-year-old’s pool floaty in mouth.  Run around the yard and through the woods with pool floaty.  Do this super fast and taunt those trying to catch you.

Step 5:  Drop pool floaty after about five minutes of running around the yard and head for the chip and dip table.  Perfect nose height!  Grab all the chips that can fit in one mouthful

Step 6:  Get dragged out of pool area by mortified owner.

I made the decision to bring Biscuit because he had not been at the pool since last summer’s horrific pool side behaviors and has matured quite a bit since then ( I tried to come up with an  example of how he has matured but couldn’t think of one.  He is a year older though).

To my dismay, the pool trip this year had the same outcome as all the other fateful pool trips.  We entered the pool area and only moments later Biscuit had a child’s pool toy in his mouth as shocked and horrified voices screamed at him to, “Drop it!”  Sam, my fiance, and I helplessly yelled at Biscuit to, “Heel”, “Sit!” “Drop it!” “Come!” “Stay!”  After grabbing a mouthful of chips and jumping in the pool one more time, I decided it was time to get Biscuit out of there before any more damage could be done.  We dragged him back to the car, and I drove a tired but content Biscuit home.

I did not even want to begin to think of what was being said or thought about Biscuit and his owners back at the pool.  As I was on the brink of tears wondering how Biscuit and I would redeem ourselves from yet another horrific pool-side disaster, I remembered the rhubarb crumble bars I baked for just this event.  This was my redemption ticket.

I returned back to the pool Biscuit-less but with rhubarb crumble bars and ice cream in hand.  To my surprise, everyone seemed glad to see me.

As all the pool guests enjoyed their hot dogs, burgers and rhubarb strawberry crumble bars with ice cream, it seemed as if order had returned to the pool.  Sam’s parents were even talking fondly of Biscuit.  Although everything ended well, I probably will wait another year until I bring Biscuit back to the pool again.  I may have redeemed myself in the eyes of the pool guests, but I don’t know if I can say the same for Biscuit quite yet.

Redemptive Rhubarb Strawberry Crumble Bar Recipe

Serves: 16

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Rhubarb Crumb Recipe and Whiteonricecouple.com

Ingredients:

For Crumble:

½ cup unsalted melted butter

¾ cup brown sugar

⅓ teaspoon Kosher salt

1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

For Crust:

¾ cups unsalted butter room temperature

1 ¼ cup powdered sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon Kosher salt

For Filling:

1 lb rhubarb diced into ½ inch pieces

1 lb strawberry hulled and sliced ½ inch thick

1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar

⅓ cup all-purpose flour

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Line a 9 inch baking dish with parchment paper, allowing paper enough paper to hang over the edge of the dish on two sides.  Butter and flour parchment paper and dish.  Tap off excess flour.

Make the crust:

In an electric mixer, mix together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy.  Slowly add eggs and vanilla extract to the mixer.  Mix until combined.  Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.   Add flour mixture and stir until just incorporated.  Don’t over mix.  Pour the crust mixture into the bottom of the lined baking dish.

Make the filling:

Combine chopped strawberries and rhubarb in a large bowl.  Mix in flour and brown sugar until spread evenly over strawberry and rhubarb combination.  Pour on top of crust mixture.

Make the crumble:

Whisk together melted butter, brown sugar and salt.  Add flour and mix together with fingers to create large crumbs.  If mixture is too soft, refrigerate shortly and then mix.  Sprinkle crumble on top of filling in baking dish.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool, then cut bars to preferred size.  Serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Bacon Dog Biscuits

May 22, 2012 § 2 Comments

When my fiancé and I first started talking about getting a puppy, our conversations were filled with dreams of a perfectly mannered pup that was calm, cuddly and eager to come when called.  But after a few years of actually owning Biscuit, I learned this was not the case – picture a whiny dog that steals hotdogs out of people’s hands, licks out of the dip bowl when friends are over to eat and will gladly bring the ball back to anyone but you when playing fetch at the dog park.  He does, however, tolerate pet parades and people clothes.

We have tirelessly tried to teach Biscuit to behave respectfully and with good manners.  We have taken him to obedience training, tried the clicker method, praised, scolded and developed a routine where he would practice his “skills” 20 minutes a night.  None of our efforts worked or showed even a glimmer of improvement in behavior unless I had a treat or treats (in some cases he wouldn’t do anything unless I had an extra-large treat or multiple treats) in my hand.

This struggle is what inspired me to start making my own dog biscuits.  The dog biscuits sold in stores are expensive and full of unknown mystery ingredients, and I don’t give Biscuit people food scraps, in hopes he will stop begging at the table (hasn’t worked yet).  Homemade dog biscuits are the perfect, wholesome, high incentive treat that I can bribe Biscuit with.  I am in no way a dog nutrition expert, but I do know what my dog likes to eat, what is healthy and wholesome, what doesn’t give Biscuit stomach problems, and what makes him drool uncontrollably.  One of the recipes that Biscuit likes best is Peanut Butter Bacon Dog Treats.  This recipe just couldn’t get any better for Biscuit.  The peanut butter reminds him of his puppy years when we used to fill the middle of his Kong dog toys with peanut butter to keep him occupied for oh… 5 minutes.  The bacon reminds him of all the wondrous moments when he has stolen bacon off unattended breakfast plates.

Peanut Butter Bacon Dog Treat recipe adapted from Dog Hill Kitchen

Peanut Butter Bacon Dog Treats

Makes 6 dozen little (1 inch) biscuit sized treats

Ingredients

3 slices of bacon, crumbled (grease reserved)

1 egg

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

1 tablespoon maple syrup

3 tablespoons water

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup wheat germ

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mixture 1: Mix together the egg, peanut butter, maple syrup and water until blended.  Set aside.

Fry bacon until crispy and then set aside on a paper towel

Allow the bacon grease to cool slightly in the pan (3-5 minutes)

Add Mixture 1 to the cooled bacon grease and mix until combined

Pour bacon grease mixture into a large bowl and add whole wheat flour and wheat germ.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  Add bacon crumbles and mix until combined.

Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface until about ¼ inch thick. Cut out dough to desired shapes and put on lightly greased cookie sheets.

Bake for 15 minutes and then flip biscuits to opposite sides so the top of the biscuits can now brown on the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 15 more minutes or until both sides of the biscuits are golden brown.

  • If you are baking biscuits with two trays in the oven, make sure you rotate them half way through the baking time.

Cool biscuits and treat your pup!

Use within a week, or store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks

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