Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I wanted a boy, I got a puppy…

OK. Maybe it’s not quite like that, but a little. Being single gets well… lonely. Not gonna lie, it  still gets lonely - and I have a lot of fun friends. J Who doesn’t want to be cuddled in the morning? So for a pal, I decided to make a new addition to the family – a black standard schnauzer. What can make you more happy than a puppy? Answer: nothing.

For those of you who don’t know, standard schnauzers are the perfect dog. Big enough to hike to the top of Mt. Pilchuck or run 10 miles, but still small enough to cuddle on the couch. Unfortunately, standards are also impossibly rare, but I was lucky enough to find a breeder in Milwaukee who had a boy ready for me on guess when… my birthday!

Already, lil Zeuggie  has been quite a pal. We have done HHs at Mcglivras and Ohana. (He is german, so of course, he likes beer. Err, only Miller Lite – Milwaukee influence.) So,  in honor of Zeuggie’s arrival, today’s recipe is dedicated to canine friends.

Pumpkin Peanut Butter with Bacon Icing

* Ingredients*
2 1/2 cups wheat flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 strips bacon
8 ounces cream cheese

* Instructions *

1.      Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.     Mix together flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter salt and cinnamon into  a solid dough. Roll out on floured surface and cut into shapes.
3.     Bake on greased pan for 40-45 minutes.
4.     Cook (microwave or fry) 3 slices of bacon. Reserve 1 tablespoon drippings.
5.     Melt 8 ounces package cream cheese in the microwave under defrost heat. Mix bacon drippings.
6.      Dip in biscuits. Let cool on wired rack.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Be Very, Very Quiet...

... we are hunting for rabbits! Happy Easter.

Here are 5 chance facts about me, rabbits and Easter: 

1) My oldest dog is named Haasenpfeffer. In German that means "Rabbit Stew."

2) As a child, my friend's mom used to use the phrase "quick, quick like a bunny" when she wanted Kristen and I to hurry along. I still use this today. Sometimes, I get strange looks at work. 

3) A kid in 4th grade brought in rabbit bones to look at. He said it was for science. Mrs. Fraley (the teacher) was not impressed. 

4) Back to the dogs. My boys used to love to chase the bunnies at Woodland Park. There are no more bunnies for them to chase. Thank you hippies. 

5) Lapin is rabbit in French. Pâques is Easter in French.

I love bunnies and I love France. A few people have asked why I love France so much. I don't know - memories of great times in Paris, Nice, Chamonix? Watching Amelie one too many times? Or maybe it is how good the Parisians are to their dogs? I gotta love any city that will sit a pooch at a table in a 5-star restaurant. I can't even get Zeuggie into
The Attic.

For this years Easter dinner, I opted for a feast devoted to France. 


  • For France, the Eiffel Tower.  A Marshall's $5.99 find. 
  • For Easter, Stargazer Lilies. One of my faves.Instead of a large bouquet, I opt'd for small glasses with blossoms closers to the table.  
  • A green table cloth - said fresh and spring! 
  • Baguette
  • Salade verte a la vinaigrette aux noix et echalotes (Salad with Walnut Shallot Vinaigrette)
  • Daube d'agneau printanier au champange et aux fevres (Spring Lamb Daube with Champange and Fava Beans) 
  • Gallette des Pommes (Apple Gallette)
Since I had limited time, I wanted to put my focus on the lamb. Baguette was from the local bakery, salad green from a bag and in a move that would for sure get me kicked off Top Chef, I used puff pastry for the gallette. 

Spring Lamb Daube 

* Ingredients *
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon peanut oil
3 pounds lamb shoulder, cubed
2 cloves garlic, shooped
2 cups Champagne 
12 small, red potatoes
1 14.5 ounce can beef broth
4 small turnips, peeled quarted
12 ounces baby carrots
3 cups fresh or frozen lima beans 
2 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon 

* Instructions *    
1. Heat 2 tablespoons and peanut oil in Dutch oven. Brown lamb with garlic for 5 minutes. 
2. Add Champagne. Braise for 60 minutes 
3. Add potatoes and beef broth. Simmer for 30 minutes. 
4. Add turnips and carrots. Cook for 15 minutes.  
5. Add lima beans. Cook for 15 minutes. 
6. Stir in flour. Cook for 10 minutes. 
7. Sprinkle with fresh tarragon. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Carrrots are Orange

So... I looked around the web about interesting facts about carrots that I could work into a story. There are no intersting facts about carrots. The best I could come up with is that China is the world's leading producer of carrots. Take that one to your next cocktail party. Also, carrots are orange.

I can say something interesting about soup. Well, at least a question - why does a cup of soup cost $6? Dude. Soup is one of the cheapest things to make.

I have eaten great carrot soup around the world - from Galway to Paris to Seattle. A good, creamy carrot soup would make a great appetizer to your upcoming Easter dinner. For me, I was opting for this as a full meal after running. To balance the sweetness (and to boost the carbs!),  I added a parsley, bacon dumpling. Enjoy!

* Ingredients *
For the soup...
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
6 cups chicken borth
2 pounds carrots, chopped
3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger root
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 cup whipping cream
Salt and Pepper
Sour Cream

For the dumpling...
3 strips bacon, cooked
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 tableshortening
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

* Instructions *
1. Add butter to stock pot. Melt over medium heat. Add onions. Cook until translucent.
2. Add carrots, brother, ginger and  cayenne pepper. Bring to boil and simmer until carrots are tender. About 10 minutes.
3. Transfer broth and carrots to blender or food processor. Pureee until smooth.
4. Transfer back to stock pot and fold in cream. Bring to boil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. For the dumpling, mix all ingredients. Spoon batter on to greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.  
6. Serve soup with a dollop of sour cream, dumpling and chopped fresh parsely.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Egg and I

My first play in high school was called "The Egg and I." I played Joanie - the boy-crazy younger sister of a family that moves to an egg farm on Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Recently, on a way home from a great visit to Port Townsend, I saw that there is even a road called "Egg and I Lane" off of Highway 20. It made me smile and brought back a memory or two. 

My role as Joanie led to an illustrious high school drama career as a character actor. I never played a leading lady - just the odd ball, goof with a funny accent stage left. When I was a awarded "most dramatic" of my senior class, I was shocked. First of all, I didn't think that anyone knew my name in high school. Secondly, should an award really go to a girl with ripped jean shorts, 16-eye Doc Martens and a slight shade of violet in her hair? 

Although I have grown up a bit now, I still appreciate the brilliant, lovely egg. No better time to celebrate the egg than Easter. The Easter egg represents the renewal and abundance that spring brings.  For my celebration of eggs, I adapted 3 ideas from one of my faves - Martha. Often, making a idea your own sometimes can be as gratifying as the original idea. 

My goal for this craft was to end up with decoration for a centerpiece or something a little larger for my sideboard. The foundation of my idea stated with The Willow Tree. I used an ice bucket as a vase. Floral foam held the willow branches purchased from my local market. 

Eggs Adorned with Paper Cut-Outs and Marbleized Eggs created the ornaments. I chose a blue and white theme to match the colors of my living room. I used white paper cut-out flowers decorated with fine prism glitter for the solid eggs. 

While the instructions for each of these crafts are on the MS website, I can provide you some  tips and tricks that I learned along the way... 

1) Get an egg blower. I don't know anyone that has enough lung capacity to empty 24 eggs. An egg blower can empty one in about 30 seconds. Just be prepared for the instructions in German. 

2) Marbleize eggs last. I tried to dye the solid and marbleized eggs at once. Mistake. The oil use in marbleizing gets everywhere.  

3) Glue ribbon perpendicular. Like Christmas ornaments the eggs like to turn inward. Gluing the ribbon at the top of the egg perpendicular to the design you would like to showcase can help minimize this. 

Happy egg-dyeing everyone! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April Showers Bring…

I admit day after day (after day after day) of rain is leading me to be a little stir crazy. Seattle, I know you are a practical joker. You tease with a warm ray here and there, only to catch me in a down pour 10 minutes later when I am without a coat or a bumbershoot. Seattle,  I know you you are a Don Juan, man-whore and are having an ongoing romance with the mist, the rain, the cold, the drizzle and the general gray days all at once. But, Seattle, PLEASE your love affair must end. For god sakes, we need a summer this year! Either that or I need a vacation to Mexico or the Caribbean.

Since I am without my own private jet and spent my frequent flyer miles on a folly, I decided to fast forward the adage “April Showers bring May Flowers” by making some flower cookies. Placed in a pot, these treats make excellent favors for showers, lined up for an edible dessert center piece, or potentially bundled into a larger pot for a Mother’s Day gift (yep… that is right around the corner.)

The pots, foam to hold the flowers, ribbon and straw can all be purchased at your local craft store such as Michaels or Joann’s. Below is the recipe for the cookies… I encourage everyone to make them – not only are they a sweet treat, but definitely can bring a little sunshine into a rainy afternoon.

Flower Shortbread Cookies
* Ingredients *   
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

* Special Tools *
Red Food Coloring
Pastry Cutter
Candy sticks
Chocolate sprinkles 

* Instructions *  
1. In electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes until fluffy. Add vanilla, nutmeg and almond extract and continue to mix until well combined.
2. Add flour and salt and mix until dough sticks together.
3. Divide into 3 balls. Mix red food coloring into one and yellow into other, leaving one ball uncolored. Wrap each ball separately in saran wrap and chill in refrigerator for 1-3 hours.
4. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. On floured surface, roll out each of the 3 balls. Cut a variety of petal shapes using pastry cutter.
5. Line baking sheets with parchment. Place cut petals around candy sticks. Press dragrees into center. Bake for 15 minutes.  
6. Cool completely. Decorate with icing if desired. Place candy sticks into floral foam inside pot. Decorate with straw and ribbon.