Homemade Dog Treats

I often mention the two-legged people I live with, but I've neglected to mention the other occupants of this house:

Wowzer (on the right), is the manliest dog you'll ever meet. He is fiercely protective of his home and his people, and ripples with muscles and testosterone. However, the tutu he's rocking in this picture is representative of the prissy, whiny-baby side that emerges when he refuses to get his feet wet during a rainstorm, and especially whenever Josh leaves a room.

Dizzy is a fluffy bundle of spunk who believes wholeheartedly that it's ok to plop in a stranger's lap and that everybody she meets must have her slobbery kisses. She is easily frightened by the mildest of noises and runs to the opposite end of the house when any of the following items appear: a roll of packing tape, a blender, or Josh weilding an electric drill. Despite that, she holds her own when Wowzer attacks her in play and can let loose with some grown man-sized, wall-shaking belches when she's finished her kibble.

Like any other dog, these two won't leave my side when I'm in the kitchen. I could only imagine their delight when I pulled these treats out of the oven - not only were they going to get a taste, but the whole tray was just for them!

You will need:

1/2 cup of peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon olive oil or melted unsalted butter
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together peanut butter, honey, oil and chicken broth. In a separate bowl, combine flours and oatmeal. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Place dough on flour dusted surface. Roll or press dough out to about 1/4” inch thick.

My dogs are 10 and 15 pounds, so I used a small cookie cutter to cut out cookies. If your dog is bigger, you can use a bigger cookie cutter. Roll out leftover scraps and cut out as many as possible (or freeze extra batter for another time). Put cut out cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 14-16 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before feeding to your dog. Cookies will keep for up to two weeks when properly sealed.

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

It's no secret at this point that I can't stand buying readymade items at the grocery store that I could just as easily make at home. I just won't do it, especially in the case of canned soups. I mean, just look at the ingredients (if you really can call them ingredients) on the back of a can of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup. Modified food starch, monosodium glutamate, soy protein and less than 2% of milk? Why bother putting that junk in your body when you can have something that not only tastes better, but consists of 5 ingredients that you can purchase without having to Google to find out what the heck they are first?

Ok, I'm done ranting. I understand the convenience of canned soups, especially for casseroles...but if you happen to feel like giving it a shot yourself, here's what to do.

You will need:

2/3 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter)
2/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped mushrooms
3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once oil begins to shimmer, add mushrooms and stir. Whisk in flour and stir quickly for 1-2 minutes, until the resulting roux deepens in color and the mixture starts to thicken.

Slowly pour in stock and whisk until combined. Continue whisking as mixture thickens - when it coats the back of a spoon, pour in milk and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and stir occasionally until ready to use.

I usually pour any leftovers into a Mason jar and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days, but it's at its best hot off the stove.

Spicy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Man, has it been dull around here lately.

Not that there hasn't been plenty to do - birthday parties, Predators games, lunch dates and deadlines continue to punctuate everyday life - but dinner? It's not been much to write about. In fact, it's been downright sad.

For the last week and a half, Josh has been on a fruit and vegetable detox which allows minimal protein and no sugar (I say Josh has been on the detox, but I have been too - only I lasted 6 days and he's still trucking along). The cravings for so many bad things I never typically want were overwhelming and I had to get back to my normal way of eating. So here we are out of the gate with good, old fashioned chocolate chip cookies - only these cookies aren't as classic as they appear. Along with chocolate chips, they are studded with chopped sweet and spicy pecans from Trader Joe's and kicked up by cayenne and cinnamon in the batter.

The detox helped me lose 5 pounds, but these cookies helped me to feel normal again.

You will need:
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup Trader Joe's sweet and spicy pecans, coarsely chopped

Melt butter, waching closely, until it begins to brown. Do not allow to burn! Add to mixing bowl. In another bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and cayenne.

Add sugars to mixing bowl with butter. Cream butter and sugar on medium speed. While mixing on medium speed, add eggs, milk, and vanilla. Slowly add in flour until well incorporated.

Stir in chocolate chips and pecans with a wooden spoon.

Chill dough for at least 24 hours, up to 36 (trust me on this one).

The next day, preheat oven to 375° F. Grease your cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper. Place cookies about an inch apart on baking sheets, and bake each sheet 8-12 minutes or until golden and puffy.

Adapted from Alton Brown's "The Chewy."


I've contemplated posting my guacamole recipe several times, but always dismissed that notion, assuming everybody has a go-to guacamole recipe. Not so, I learned over the weekend. A friend told me she gets that guacamole is inclusive of avocados and tomatoes, but beyond that, she's lost. I thought maybe there are others like her, so far it be it from me to keep my guac a secret.

You will need:

6-8 Hass avocados, halved, pit removed
4 tomatoes (try not to include any seeds)
Half a medium red onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed, diced
Handful cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
Juice of one lime
Salt to taste

In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice. Season with a little bit of salt and set aside for at least 20 minutes. Then, strain the mixture to remove as much excess water as possible.

Spoon each half of avocados into a medium mixing bowl and break up gently with a fork. I like my guac chunky, but if you prefer it smooth, mash it to the desired consistency either with a fork or a potato masher. Add cumin and salt and mix well. If you're going for chunky guac, you want to mix as little as possible to keep the avocados from getting too mashed.

Gently add the tomato mixture (aka pico de gallo) to the avocados and combine. Adjust seasonings as necessary.