Monday, October 31, 2011

Howl-O-Ween: Treats and Tricks

Here are some pictures of the dogs from previous Halloweens:


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 Of course the best part of Halloween is the treats.   I first tasted Popcorn balls a year ago and I loved them.  They are definitely a once a year treat, you can almost feel your teeth rotting as you eat them.  


Halloween Popcorn Balls
 
1 cup plain unpopped popcorn to be made in a stove top popcorn maker like the Whirley Pop
1 stick of butter
2 1/2 cups Dark Brown Sugar
1 cup light Corn Syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Pop the popcorn in the popper and place in a very large bowl.   You need to make totally plain popcorn for this recipe so dont add anything and don't use microwave popcorn.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium high heat with the sugar, corn syrup, and condensed milk.  Bring to a boil and boil for 5 and a half minutes stirring almost constantly with a silicone spatula (make sure to scrape the bottom and the sides).  

Pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir.   When it is cool roll the popcorn into balls and wrap in treat bags.

Another great treat is candy bark from Bon Appetit.  Usually chocolate bark involves nuts and dried fruit, but this version uses halloween candies, making a treat that is much tastier then the candy on its own.

Halloween Candy Bark (you can make this treat a week ahead and bring it to any parties you might be attending).

2 12 ounce bags of bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup each of chopped Butterfinger  candies, Peanut Butter cups, Reeses Pieces, Heath Bars, and honey roasted peanuts.
4 oz melted white chocolate.


Line a jelly roll pan (a baking sheet with sides) with aluminum foil.   Melt the chocolate chips in a sauce pan over low heat stirring constantly with a heat proof spatula.  As soon as they are completely melted pour on to the foil and spread out evenly.  Scatter over the candies and nuts, pressing slightly so the candies and nuts adhere to the chocolate.  Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over.  Allow to harden and then break into chunks with a knife.  Store in the Fridge.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Soup Cooked in a Pumpkin

Who doesn't love Pumpkins?





For costumes and carving....and also for soup.    Yesterday during the Snowtober storm I  made Cheese soup baked in a pumpkin from Bon Appetit

Cheese Soup in a Pumpkin



1 Cheese Pumpkin (about 8 lbs)
3/4 to 1 1lb Gruyere Cheese
Fennel Seed
Ancho Chili Powder
3 Garlic Cloves Sliced
2 cups of Fresh Bread Crumbs made from French Bread
About 6 cups of Chicken Broth
1/2 Stick of Butter, soft
Chives
3 slices Bacon 
Cream Fraiche

Preheat the oven to 350.   Use a pumpkin carving nice to cut of the top of the pumpkin like you would with a Jack O' Lantern.  Save the top.   Scrape out the seeds and the stringy flesh.  Rub the pumpkin on the inside all over with the butter.  Season a few pinches of chili powder, fennel seed, salt and pepper.   Put the cheese, bread crumbs,  and sliced garlic into the pumpkin.   Pour chicken broth into the Pumpkin until it comes to 3 inches from the top of the Pumpkin.  Put the lid on the pumpkin and bake on a sheet pan for 1 hr.   

Remove the lid from the pumpkin and put it flesh side up next to the pumpkin on the pan bake about 60 to 90 minutes more until the flesh of the pumpkin is very tender. Serve soup topped with crumbled bacon,  chives, and  cream fraiche.

While you are waiting for your Pumpkin Soup to cook sit on the couch and watch a movie




Urban Hounds List of 5 Good Halloween Movies

1) Wallace and Gromit In The Curse of The Were Rabbit.  Dogs, bunnies, England what's not to like?
2) The Omen Tubby likes barking at the Hell Hounds
3) Nosferatu Probably the best Vampire movie ever.  I saw it at the Landmark Loews last year with a live organ.
4) Dracula The classic Bella Lugosi version.
5) Ed Wood Cult classic, goes well with Dracula, since one of the characters is Bela Lugosi.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkins and Pugkins at Demarest Farms-and Pumpkin French Toast

I love Halloween!  I love the pumpkins, the candy, the costumes (particularly if they are on dogs), and the horror movies.  Why outgrow something that is so much fun.  Every year we take a few of our dogs to Demarest Farms to get a pumpkin.  It gets very crowded with families and young kids so all of the dogs would be too much, but the pugs really enjoy it.  They get lots of compliments, particularly Tubby in his pumpkin hat from All You Need is Pug, on how cute they look and attention from all of the kids.   The pugs also love the  nibbles of potato pancake and apple cider donuts we give them, and I like the hot cider.





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Of course cooking with Pumpkin is part of Halloween too.


Pumpkin French Toast
Ingredients:
6 slices of Challah, or other Egg Bread
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup of half and half or heavy cream
1/2 cup of canned pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp or less of vegetable oil


Combine the eggs, half and half or heavy cream, canned pumpkin, and spices in a shallow bowl or pyrex dish.   Soak the slices of bread in the mixture for about 3 minutes per side.


Heat a skillet or griddle over medium high heat and melt about 1 tbsp of butter and a drop of vegetable oil for every 2 slices of bread.   Fry the bred for about 2 minutes per side and keep warm in the oven as you make batches of french toast.  Serve with maple syrup.


Saturday Pet Bloggers Blop Hop













Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dr. Zira with a Pumpkin-Almost Wordless Wednesday (and an eye update)




Here is Z with last years pumpkin.  Poor old lady continues to have eye problems.   She has an ointment now too and still needs the cone, and more checkups to come.  At least the scratch looks a little better.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cowboy Cookies-Tasty Tuesday

A few years ago, Halloween 2009, I decided to dress the dogs as Cowboys and Indians for Halloween.  It was when Bingo was still with us so we had 3 little Native American Indians and 3 Cowboys:



















I liked both of the costume styles, but I admit I was partial to the cowboys. I've always liked cowboys.  These cookies are one reason, though I am not sure what they actually have to do with cowboys.  I picture cowboys eating more beans then cookies.  There are lots of different versions, some with coconut and some with pecans, but these are my favorite.

Cowboy Cookies




  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 12 oz package semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

preparation

Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating to combine. Add dry ingredients and beat until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.

 Cover dough and chill 1 hour in the fridge.  Meanwhile preheat oven to 350.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Form dough into balls, using a large ice cream scoop or spoon. Place on prepared sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly. Bake 10 minutes, then rotate sheets. Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges and firm in center, about 4 minutes longer. Cool on sheet 5 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool completely. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)












Kol's Notes

Monday, October 24, 2011

Warming Stew and Rolls-Yum

In NYC the Magnolia Bakery and the Buttercup Bake Shop  are well know for their cupcakes, and for being over rated.   Take a look at this picture of a line of sugar desperate tourists outside of Magnolia:


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Its not that the cupcakes aren't good, they are fine, just  not two hour wait fine, particularly as you can make that at home in half the time.  The bakeries are also at the center of some controversy.  They are blamed for starting the cupcake culture craze and setting back feminism and the stores were also at the center of a decidedly un-sweet feud that that the NYC gossip press was mad for, see this article.


If  you ask me though what Magnolia Bakery should be famous for is a much less popular cookbook, Magnolia Cooks at Home, written by Alyssa Torrey that has lots of tasty recipes.  As a bonus for dog lovers the cookbook has cute picture of her and her Collies in their upstate New York Home.  Most importantly it has best recipe for beef stew I have ever tasted, trust me it is way better then any cupcake (and I like cupcakes).

Beef and Vegetable Stew 


1 to 2lbs of beef stew meat, such as boneless chuck in 1 to 2 inch pieces
1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp Sweet Hungarian Paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup minced garlic
3 cups of red wine (I use Merlot)
1 14 oz can of Tomato Sauce, I use Muir Glen
1 6 oz can of Tomato Paste
1 lb Yukon gold Potatoes or white baby creamer potatoes unpeeled and cut in 1 inch chunks.
1 1lb carrots, peeled and cut in 1 inch pieces
1 large yellow onion diced
1 16 oz package Cascadian Farm frozen green peas
1 16 oz package of egg noddles
butter
1 bunch of scallions
Parmesan cheese
Sour Cream

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Toss the meat with flour, paprika, salt, and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a large oven safe pot over medium heat and add the garlic and beef (and any flour left in the bowl).   Brown for 5 minutes.

Add the wine, tomato sauce, tomato paste, potatoes, carrots, and onion and stir well.  

Cover the pot and place it in the oven and cook for 3 1/2 hours, stirring about every 45 minutes.  Add the peas and cook 45 minutes more.

Towards the end of the cooking time prepare the egg noodles and toss with butter to taste, scallions, and Parmesan cheese to taste.

Serve the stew in bowl atop of the egg noodles with a small dollop of sour cream, trust me its tasty.

We smell stew!



Of course I said stew, and rolls, and I meant it.  I like to serve the stew with Parker House Rolls.  The famous buttery rolls invented in Boston in the 1870s.   Of course you could buy frozen rolls but they taste so much better made from scratch and they really are the easiest yeast bread to make.   I  use the recipe from the Pioneer Woman, as her version seems to have the most butter and therefor must be the best (although I did reduce the butter a bit).


Don't crowd the rolls like I did


Parker House Rolls

Ingredients


  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • 1 stick, plus 3/4 of a stick, of butter
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 package Fleischman's Active Dry Yeast
  • 5 cups King Arthur's Bread Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon  Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon  Baking Soda
  • 2 and 1/2 tsps Salt

Preparation Instructions


Combine 2 cups milk, 1 sticks butter, and sugar in a large pot. Bring to barely a simmer, turn off heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes, until it is just lukewarm.
Sprinkle in the yeast and 4 cups of bread flour. Stir to combine, then cover and allow to rise for 1 hour. I let it rise on top of the stove since the warmth of stew cooking helps.

After 1 hour, add baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 additional cup of flour. Stir to combine. Turn out onto a floured surface, like a wooden board. Knead dough for 8 to 10 minutes, then form into a ball and cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place (again on top of the oven is good) for 30 to 45 minutes.

Melt 3/4 of a stick of butter in the microwave.  Put the dough onto the floured board and roll out to 1/2 inch thick with a floured rolling pin.  Cut out circles with a floured biscuit cutter. Dunk each circle in melted butter, then immediately fold in half and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, flat side down. Press lightly to encourage sealing. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Cover with a towel and allow rolls to rise 45 minutes. When you get to the last 15 minutes of baking time take the stew out of the oven and keep it warm on the stove top at very low heat.  Turn the oven heat up to 400 degrees.

When the rolls have finished rising and the oven is at 400 bake them for 15 minutes. Serve right away.

(Note: Be very careful to never, ever give dogs any uncooked yeast dough, it is very topic as it can expand in their stomachs causing blockages).









Saturday, October 22, 2011

Two Waterside Walks

Last weekend we enjoyed two water  side walks.   First Bob went on a nice solo outing with us to the waterfront walk way near the Yachting school in Pavonia Newport.  They have a lot of nice tables where you can sit and watch the boats. They also have a conveniently located Starbucks.  Speaking of coffee and dogs check out this cool blog Coffee with a Canine.  Anyway, here are the pics:


It is hard to see but the belt I am wearing has a bulldog on it.  I got it on sale from Anthropologie.  They sometimes have some really cute dog themed items.


Then we took Norbert, Tubby, Ping and Dr. Zira to Island Beach state park.  It is about an hour and a half drive from our house so not so good for regular walks but nice for a once or twice  year outing.  We didn't bring Bob because sometimes there are a lot of off leash dogs running on the beach and he can be a little unpredictable with off leash dogs.  It was breezy and chilly down by the ocean early in the morning so the little dogs wore their jackets, it was a perfect time for Tubby and Ping to wear their Aloha Pug Snugglys.

















It is Saturday so its time for the blog  hop, check out all the adorable doggies and kitties:






Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Simple Projects: Basket Weave Scarf

If you are a beginning knitter and you want to make a scarf that is a bit more interesting then a basic stockinette, then a basket weave scarf is for you (please ignore the dog hair in the bottom picture, it clings to everything I own).   All you need to know to make it is how to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off.

Materials: 
  • 300 yards of DK Yarn (I used Manos Del Uruguay from Purl Soho)
  • Size 6 needles
  • yarn needle
 Cast on 32 inches.  Knit 4 and purl 4 for rows 1-4.  Then reverse and purl 4 knit 4.   Continue until you run out of yarn.   Bind off and weave in ends.  This can  be adapted to any weight yarn and needles you would like to use.

Blast from the Past-Bob's 1st Halloween Costume

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Here is baby bob in 2007 when he was 7 months old.   

Monday, October 17, 2011

Poor Dr. Zira-and Some Good News

Things have not been going so well for poor little old lady Z.  On Sunday we noticed that she was squinting her left eye a little, she has cataracts and is generally a little squinty so we didn't worry too much.  However, by Monday morning she was holding her left eye completely closed. 

Now, Dr. Zira has a deep, dark secret: she is not a cat lover.   She came to us at the age of 9 and had evidently never lived with cats.   Luckily for the cats little old girl that she is there is no chance of her catching them, but it hasn't stopped her from trying.  Z has arthritis and several times a day she will get up all stiff from her bed and run her limpy gait after an offending cat, at least she is getting some exercise.  The cats don't seem to bothered as they just jump on the nearest table.  Due to her cat chasing proclivities I was worried that one of our kitties might have gotten fed up with the harrasment and scratched Zira's eye.

When we got to our vet Dr. Green  at Jersey City Animal Hospital  she looked at Zira's eye and confirmed that she has a corneal ulcer.  Dr. Green felt Zira had been rubbing or scratching her eye and making it worse, so uh-oh time for the cone of shame.  In addition to the cone Zira also got pen meds and eye drops to be given three times a day and she needs to go back to the vet for a re-check in 7 days.


Unfortunately, Dr. Green found something else in the exam.  Poor Z also has a heart murmur, this is brand new as she didn't have one during her dental cleaning in August.   Dr. Green thinks that all we should do for now is monitor Zira and watch for any signs of coughing or exercise intolerance (I guess for Zira the exercise is cat chasing as she is not much for walkies, she prefers being carried).  If the murmur gets worse or we see any symptoms then we will do an EKG.  


So we sped off home with all the meds and Z settled in for nap and I checked the computer.


Then we got our good news of the day, our awesome kitty friends Gorogoro and Nikoniko gave us two awards!

The stylish blogger award:


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Mom has a monthly subscription to Vogue and we love high fashion, so we are very flattered to be considered stylish!  Also Dr. Zira is doing a great job carrying of that cone.


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The second award is the You Are An Inspiration Award.  We love being inspirational.  After all anyone who sees mom's attempts at knitting should be inspired that anyone, and we mean anyone, can try their hand at knitting.

We are passing our award on to three blogs that we recently discovered:

Pug Slope