Saturday, March 29, 2008

Treats for the Monkeys

We really are dog dorks, but I urge you to take a long hard look at these two and how could you not be?

Molly, the black one, recently had knee surgery and she's been living like a zoo animal in a cage in our living room. This has to go on for 8 weeks! Its been hard on all of us- she's our first dog and she's oddly humanistic in many ways. Molly is special and really, really loved. Abby, is our Golden and she's as sweet as cotton candy. We found her at a rescue shelter about 8 hours away and when she came to us, she had recently had a litter of puppies and she was so sickly. Someone had found her on the side of the road. She probably wasn't even a year old yet. We refer to her as Molly's dog, in jest, because really that's what she is first and foremorst and its her choice. She worships Molly and that's how Molly likes it.

When I have some free time, I like to make them doggie treats. I usually have the ingredients I need in the cupboard and I never follow a recipe. I just kind of mix things together, until they're similar to a biscotti or a cookie dough. Sometimes I bake them like biscotti, so they get extra crunchy. This time, I used the doggie cookie cutter and made them "pumpkin cookies".

My ingredients were, approximately:

2 Cups Cornmeal
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 Cup Oat Bran
1 Egg
3/4 Cup Pumpkin
1 Tablespoon Chicken Stock Concentrate
1 Tablespoon Miso Paste
1 teaspoon onion powder

I mix it together in a large bowl and add more pumpkin if the mixture is too dry, or I'll add more flour if its too wet. The greatest thing about this is you don't have to worry about the look in your husbands or co-workers eyes when you hand them their cookie. Our dogs LOVE all of the treats we make.

Roll out the dough on a floured board and I sometimes use a cookie cutter, or if I'm in a rush, I'll cut them in strips, lengthwise and crosswise and make little rectangular or square treats. The dogs don't care. Bake on parchement covered or greased cookie sheets at 350 degrees until they seem done. I usually over bake them, because I want them to keep longer and stay crunchy. These are good enough for us to eat, and that's what I like to feed our two furry friends.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie

Well, I've done it- I've joined a blogging group called Tuesdays With Dorie. We're cooking our way through her wonderful book, Baking From My Home to Yours , one recipe at a time. I really like this idea because I know I will be inspired to try recipes that I wouldn't have tried before and how's that for expanding your horizons?

This weeks recipe is Gooey Chocolate Cakes from pages 261-262. My husband Paul is a huge chocolate fan, like most of us are and I know that these will be a hit on our new "Saturday Night Eat Whatever You Want Date". This really is his new thing, not mine, but it seems to be working (for him at least). Paul's very disciplined with his eating throughout the week- lately he's been talking a lot about his beloved grain, quinoa, and the virtues it extolls (quinoa really is amazing and delicious and if you've never tried it you must). So, he's decided that if he eats healthy all week, then on Saturday he can eat whatever he wants all day long and believe me he will eat whatever he feels like. Pizza from our town's newest pizzeria is usually included- its really just like New York pizza, and since he's a New Yorker, he just can't stay away. I really can't either. It's that good. Pizza is a perfect food in my book and even bad pizza is good pizza. Since moving to Northwest Montana years ago, I've really missed great food. We have okay food here, but people come here for the scenery, the quiet, the mountains, the lakes, the contemplation, the fishing, the skiing- they don't come here to eat. So, we're rejoicing in our new pizzeria. Its the little things, you know?

This weekend I'll be busy making my chocolate cakes and some amazing brown butter cookies to send to my mom for her birthday. I'm so excited its Friday. Now, back to the banking world....... my lunch break is over.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Easter, Happy Spring

Its that time of year isn't it. Pastels and chocolate bunnies abound. Here in Montana we still have snow on our ground and its falling still. I’m just not feeling the early Easter! In an attempt to reconnect myself to this holiday, I made a bread that my mom used to make when I was young. It is a pretty, braided egg bread that you tuck your dyed eggs into before baking. The cool thing is that you dye your eggs when they are raw and they steam through as the bread bakes around them. The finished product tastes really good- so good that I just ate a third of it all by myself. Iknow the memories of this bread make it taste even better.

I ate mine when still warm and served with melted honey butter. If you don't like to bake bread, or are afraid of this venture don't be! I’m not very skilled with yeast breads, and this came out wonderfully. Its a great recipe to try and fun to make with young children.

Braided Easter Bread


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast, or 2.5 teaspoons of yeast
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
5 whole raw eggs, dyed if desired
egg wash- one egg yolk whisked with some cream and a tiny pinch of salt
sugar to sprinkle on top


1. In your Kitchenaid mixer with the whisk attachment, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast; stir well.
2. Combine milk and butter. Heat in a small saucepan or in your microwave until milk is warm and butter is softened but not melted(if the butter melts, its not a big deal).
3. With the mixer running on medium low, gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture. If you need to scrape the bowl go ahead and do so.
4. Turn mixer off, and add two eggs and 1/2 cup flour; mix well on medium speed.
5. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
6. Switch from your whisk attachment to the dough hook and turn on high for about 6 minutes to knead. This is a wet, sticky dough, so don’t expect it to look like a regular bread dough that is made with only flour,water and yeast.
7. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
8. Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal size rounds; cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
9. Roll each round into a long roll about 36 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick. On your greased baking sheet (I used butter, but parchment would work fine too)loosely braid the two pieces of dough by simply overlapping them lengthwise. Seal the ends of the ring together by pinching and use your fingers to slide the 5 eggs between the braids of dough. As the dough bakes and rises, the eggs tend to push themselves up and out, so start the bread with the eggs worked down between the braids to counteract their movement.
10. The dough will need to go through its last rise, which takes about 45 minutes or so. Cover with a damp towel and put in a warm spot. If you don’t have a warm place, just let the dough rise a bit longer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Brush risen loaf with egg wash, but don’t brush anything over the eggs-if they’re brushed with anything they may bleed their color onto the bread. Sprinkle with your choice of sugar-colored is pretty this time of year.
2. Bake in the center of your preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until golden. If your bread starts to get too brown, place some foil on top of it until its time to come out.
Let the bread cool for at least 5 minutes before digging in. You’ll also want to let the eggs continue to steam and avoid eating them for the first 20 minutes or so while they set up.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My New Endeavor into the Blogging World

Well, here it goes-my new endeavor as a blogger! We’ll see how long this lasts. I’m a girl of many ideas- its a topic of conversation among friends actually, an eye-rollling topic of conversation. I mean, I get really excited about these new ideas, plans, jobs, places, people…but I don’t have much of a follow through. I’m really thrilled to have my very own blog, aptly named Passionfruit and Pineapple because I love tropical fruit.

For now I have great expectations for this. Maybe I’ll learn some new things, try new recipes, meet new friends and enliven my world. What has inspired me and brought me here is all the amazing food blogs out there! The first one I discovered was Tartlette, -her writing, her baking, her photos; I felt like I found a new friend (except this friend has no idea about this fan in Montana!). I then discovered Orangette, -she seems like someone a little closer. A person I could relate to, go to the farmers market with, attempt new recipes together, get to know. The list then goes on. I don’t know how long this will last- maybe I’ll be on our vacation in Kauai next month and will forget all about my blogging world, but until then, I hope this new chapter sees me through the last few weeks of winter here. That’s all I can hope for for now.