Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sofia Snacks (Pumpkin and Carrot Dog Treats)

Well, it is no secret that my George and I have added a new member to our family recently.  Sofia Isabella Matilda Simmerman is the missing piece to our family that finally completes us.  Yes, I know, that name.  Well when we got her,  we went to IHOP and had a late dinner and discussed names.  My choices were...


George's picks were dumb.  No not really, I just had to be smart to him.  He like Isabella, and call her Bella.  He wanted Gia, and I said it sounded like a doggy stripper name.  He wanted and wants all kids or dogs in our family to be named George, or Georgette, he must like George Foreman.  BUT he did like Sofia WITH an F.  So he said, because yes, (hangs head in shame) we give our dogs entire names.  Ya know so when they are bad, you can confuse them with your real kids and they are instantly part of the family sort of a thing?!  And that is the story of Sofia Isabella Matilda Simmerman.  Because he knew how much I liked Tilly.

I know what you are thinking.  "That is 2 minutes of my life I can never get back".  Right?  I agree.  Well anyway as you may or may not know I do have a dog treat recipe on my blog already it is called, Lucy and Ava's Favorite Peanut Butter Tookies, make sure to check those out as well!  Those are 2 of my niece dogs who are like my kids, Ava has sadly passed away but Lucy still loves them!  It was obvious that I would need to create a "Sofi Snack".  When I say it in my head it sounds like "Snofi Snacks".  Weird.

My granddaughter has one more week left out here, so we are trying to get all of our special cooking time in before she leaves until next summer.  I told her we needed special treats for Sof and she agreed.  She made you a video because she wanted to tell you what she was doing.  It is on my FB Fan page!  She is a doll from the inside out.

After researching a few recipes, then researching flavorings, herbs and spices that were safe and perhaps even beneficial to dogs I came up with this perfect Pumpkin and Carrot recipe.  These turn out EXTREMELY crispy, and should last a good while.  Put them in a Ziploc, and find every reason to treat your puppy and doggy friends!

I use these as Christmas gifts as well.  I make a ton and friends and family who have dogs, all get a special pretty bag of treats for their pets.  Yes, I said Christmas, it is coming friends, and fast!

Here is what you need for your Sofia Snacks

15 oz pumpkin puree  (NOT PIE FILLING)
1/2 cup finely grated carrots
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp cinnamon
2 T. dried parsley
2-3 cups whole wheat flour  (and some for rolling out)

Now, this isn't difficult.  Toss it in a bowl and mix with a hand mixer or a stand mixer or your trusty wooden spoon.

We rolled these out and cut out shapes.  Maddie wanted an "I"  and then a heart and then an "S" for Sofia.  For bigger dogs you might use bigger shapes or you may roll in a ball and smash down with a cup to flatten or use a bone cookie cutter or, roll into a long thin snake and just cut off pieces.  I rolled my dough I would say, umm....Oh Lord, I hate guessing, it gives me the shakes.  I would say 1/4 inch thick.  Maddie's were like 3 inches thick. ROFL  (not really, kinda) There is like, 5 million ways to do this.  Do what tickles your fancy.  The world is your sandwich, make it how you like it!  Place on to ungreased cookie sheets, yes I said sheets, because this made 4 huge bakery size cookie sheets, FULL.  You might consider halving the recipe is you only want a small batch.  Maddie kept saying, "Nonna, I am losing my cookie energy".  I said, "me to Maddie, I think Nonna made to much".  She replied, "Nonna, I think you are NOT a genius". HA!  I think she hit that nail on the head, but we have plenty of family dogs to share with.  Preheat your oven to 350 and let them bake 35 minutes.  If you get all of your treats on two pans, place them in the oven, and when the timer goes off, keep them in the oven and turn it off.  The more dried out you can get them the crispier and the longer they will keep.

Maddie and I hope that your dogs enjoy these treats.  Maddie kept telling me her tummy was SO hungry for pumpkin pie every time she would smell it. 

I had to agree.

Please spend time in the kitchen with your children and grandchildren, you will make memories to last a lifetime.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sausage and Cheese Breakfast DIp

 I always start these notes off the same way.  I need a new introduction.  Good evening, I will start with that tonight!  I hope you are all anticipating your kids going back to school, here, school starts tomorrow.  School shopping done?  Get those supply lists and get to shopping!  I miss those days, although I always do a little shopping for Maddie my oldest grand little and send it to her.  We get to shop together this year since she is here, but, sadly will be leaving in about 10 days to go home to NJ.  WHY did I even bring that up?  I am going to be sad beyond sad to say goodbye to her but I know she is happy, healthy, and full of joy and what more can you ask for them?  Anyway we will do some shopping soon and send her off with it all!

I have had this breakfast casserole running through my brain for a good 2 months now.  I tried to make it really difficult and different, and the reality is, none of that made it better.  I stuck to some old standbys that everyone usually has on hand and it turned out perfectly.  I mean, like REALLY freakishly delicious and I would never argue with freakishly delicious!  Serve this with little toasts, OR.......add some salsa to the cream cheese mixture and serve with tortillas!  Umm-hmmm....  GENIUS, my sentiments exactly.  I will make it for my darling Geo that way next time.  He will think he is in heaven.  As if being married to me isn't heaven in and of itself.  Pfftt.

Enjoy this easy, quick make ahead dip, that you can serve for any breakfast or brunch.  I don't know anyone who wouldn't love "chips" and dip for breakfast!

1 lb. ground pork sausage, browned and drained (yes, use turkey sausage if you want!)
2- 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese
1 T. chives
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (divided)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
cocktail bread, or unsplit hotdog buns, cut into little slices like bread

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  In a bow combine, browned ground sausage, cream cheese, chives, and 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese.  Mix until completely combined.  Pour into a small casserole dish, I used about a 9 inch one and it was perfect.  Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheddar and Parmesan cheese on top.

Pop it in the oven for 20-30 minutes.  Let it get bubbly and the cheese melted.  I can't say "bubbly" with thinking of Steel Magnoilia's "gooold and bubblah".  Anyway...

After you have sliced your bread or gotten your cocktail loaf out, just place it on a baking sheet in a single layer and put under your broiler for a minute or 2, flip and do the same.  Just get it golden and crispy.  You can certainly just use plain toast cut into triangles.

This can EASILY be made the night before and popped in the oven in the morning.  Breakfast dip.....does it get better?!


Monday, August 10, 2015

Stuffed Tomatoes

 How are your gardens doing?  Are you running over with anything?  We aren't!  Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits.  Need I say more?  So I went to the farmers market today and picked up some tomatoes.  I know many of you have gardens and hopefully have a bountiful harvest, count yourself lucky!

These stuffed tomatoes are just an old standby but I was making them for dinner tonight, I realized, I had never shared with you.  I don't know if everyone makes them this way but I always have, probably always will.  I bet there is a million things you could do with this.  Chicken salad served in a hollowed out tomato would be good served on a hot summer day!  YUM!

There isn't much explaination.  Just when you think you have shared all the family and regular stuff you make, you realize you were wrong!  Thank goodness for you all, because these are really delicious.  Perfect for a meatless meal, or a meatless side dish. 

4-6 tomatoes
1 cup orzo pasta (measure before cooking)
2 T. butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
8 oz. ball of fresh mozzarella cheese (or more)

Bring a medium pan of generously salted water to a boil.  Add in your orzo pasta and cook according to package directions.  Drain well and put back in the pan.  Add butter, cheese, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  Mix until cheese and butter are melted.  Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350.  Cut about 1/2 inch off the tops of the tomatoes.  Using a small knife run it around the inside of the flesh of the tomato and then use a spoon to scoop out the centers.  Be careful not to pierce the sides or bottom.  Set them into a cupcake pan.  I find it works best.

Slice the cheese into as many slices as you have tomatoes.  I did 4 tomatoes, there was a bit of stuffing left, so you might need more cheese for the extra 2 tomatoes.  Following me?  You will need one slice and one small cube for each tomato.   Take a small spoon and fill each tomato up 3/4 of the way.  Poke a cube of mozz in the center  and then fill to the top.  Lay a slice of mozzarella over the top.

Bake for 15-25 minutes.  Let the cheese get melted and ooze down the sides and for it all to heat through.  If you want the cheese browned on top, pop your oven to broil for a minute or two until it browns up.

Serve this next to a steak, a grilled piece of chicken, or with a salad.  It is a great meatless main dish or side dish!


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

3 Ingredient Nutella Brownies

I got sucked in.  It said NUTELLA and I was mush.  I had to try the because quite honestly I wonder how some of these recipes are that just float around the inter-webs.  I found these from www.buzzfeed.com.  The recipe was taking over my news feed so I decided to go for it.  God knows I have 5 jars of Nutella on hand at all times..  Ridiculous, don't you think? 

So after deciding just to finally make these things, I decided I wanted a topping.  I lied, this particular version is 4 ingredients.  You can omit them but what ISN'T better with toffee bits on top?  Precisely,....nothing.  The big "thing" with these brownies, is besides being VERY rich, it all depends on what size pan you bake them in as to how LONG you back them.  I used a, um.....hmm....let me go find it......

Ok, I used a 10.5x7.  I sprayed it liberally with nonstick cooking spray and then got to the important part, the mixing!  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl mix...

1 1/4 cups Nutella
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
(I added 3/4 cup Heath toffee bits) OPTIONAL

Mix all ingredients except toffee bits until completely combined.  Pour into your prepared backing dish and although it says to bake for 15 minutes, mine took nearly 30-35.  You can see they were not thick at all, so I am not sure how that timing is off so much but for me, it was.  Maybe for you it will be done at 15 minutes.  Doubt it, but maybe.  Let cool completely before cutting and serving.

I love Nutella so nothing about these was bad, NOTHING.  You will only need small piece they are in fact very rich!  You could mix in, or stir in darn near anything, let me know if you do!


Monday, August 3, 2015

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.  And zucchini?!?!  I know, it makes no sense.  I mean it REALLY makes no sense.  A veggie such as this, married with more chocolate than you even knew you could consume?  Fantastic.  And what is better?  MADDIE will eat it!  Maddie wanted to make a cake, and a co-worker of my husbands (thanks Emily!) brought him a zucchini.  I am NOT about letting food go to waste, even if it is a veggie that isn't necessarily my favorite, it is getting consumed, period, end of story.

In my mind, I decided it was ok to convince Maddie this was a "chocolate vegetable".  Because yea, she was going to fall for that.  In fact, I thought she had.  Then when I took video of her saying that, she blurts out that it is a zucchini.  Little rascal knew all along, almost as if she was just appeasing me.  Well, the joke is on her, because it DOES taste like chocolate.......in this cake!  Another way to get your kids to eat a veggie!  Throw in some extra zucchini, they won't be any the wiser.

Now with mine, I shredded it using my food processor and then I took half of that, and just used the blade in my processor and zapped it into little bits.  Sometimes kids have a texture more than taste issue and I wanted that to be a non issue.

I also went a slightly different route than the sometimes more "earthy" flavor of a chocolate zucchini cake.  The expresso powder is just enough to make the chocolate even chocolate-ier, and the milk chocolate chips along with the zucchini makes it so moist, it ALMOST doesn't need frosting.........almost.

Enjoy making this cake, it seems like a lot of ingredients but it isn't, and your kids will have fun helping!  

You will need:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract or paste
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp expresso powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2-3 cups zucchini (half shredded and half zapped in the food processor until it is in small pieces)
10-12 ozs. milk chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.  In a large bowl or bowl of your stand mixer cream together butter and sugar.  Next add in oil, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk.  Mix until a smooth batter is formed.  Set aside.

In another large bowl add in flour, cocoa, expresso powder, baking soda and baking powder.  Mix together until combined.  Pour into liquid ingredients and mix until just combined.  Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.

Pour into your greased 9x13 pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.  This takes a bit, but at 50 minutes start checking, mine took longer.  When the cake is set and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean of wet batter remove from the oven.  Start making your frosting immediately!

In a medium saucepan combine:
1/2 cup butter
2 T. unsweetened cocoa
3 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Bring to a boil then turn off the heat and add in vanilla and 3-4 cups of powdered sugar.  Whisk until all combined and the frosting is the consistency of elmers glue.  (good one eh?) Pour over warm cake and let sit until the icing is set on top, about an hour.

Enjoy this delicious dessert, nobody will even KNOW has anything good for them in it!  It is so moist and delicious, get a piece right away or you are going to be waiting for that next zucchini to be ready in your garden to make it again!