Thursday, May 30, 2013

Foodie Friday -- May 31, 2013

It's time for another Foodie Friday, where great food is always on the menu.
My husband had major dental surgery today, and I'm running a little behind.
It's been one of those weeks. First, Bandy and I discovered a problem with the kitchen design (the oven/microwave/warming drawer wall didn't have a "landing pad" for hot food, which
meant we would be traveling to the island with scorching pans). Bandy, my contractor, and I
came up with a solution after we looked at inspiration photos on Houzz--we could add
a counter/butler's pantry near the ovens.  

 However, I'm losing a small pantry and will need to find a creative, space-saving
way to store staples.
Next, we solved design problems with the fireplace and master bath. That bath
is giving me gray hairs! Tonight, as I mentioned, I'm taking good care of
Dr. Will.
Last weekend, I was stuck on a book project, so I cooked and cooked and cooked.
And then I cooked a bit more. I ruined the potato salad, which is extremely hard to do,
but the experiment with Boston Baked beans was a success. Too bad I didn't write down the recipe. I "eyeballed" everything and tinkered relentlessly.

For me, cooking is all about love, sustenance, and stress relief. Like my mother
says, cooking is also a blessing and a privilege.

You can find recipes for healthy dog treats HERE.
 I was inspired to make fruit pies by a quiet life's gorgeous triple berry threat. These little pies are works of art, filled with sweet, healthy berries and adorned with darling pastry garnishes. They are a must see (you'll love her whole blog). The filling is a mixture of fresh strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries, with a bit of cornstarch, sugar, and lemon juice. You can use store-bought (refrigerated) pie crust dough or make your own.
I doubled Jain's RECIPE. But, I was so excited about cooking (and eating),  and I  had not bought extra Pillsbury pie crusts. So I used the leftover fruit mixture to make a mascarpone-filled cake. Bandy called it the "ugly dessert," and it did look odd...but the ambrosial flavor made him eat his words. It was delicious. Between the hand pies and the mascarpone dessert, I must have gained five pounds.

This isn't a true recipe. I didn't want to go to the grocery, so I gathered items from my pantry and fridge. I used a streusel mix and baked it 15 minutes. Next, I added a mascarpone layer: 1/2 cup mascarpone, 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, 3 tablespoons white sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Mix well and spread over the cake. Bake until filling has "set," about 20 minutes. Add a layer of cooked berries and streusel crumbs. Continue to bake another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the filling bubbles and thickens. Be sure to place a cookie sheet beneath the cake pan (I used a tart pan) to keep your oven tidy. If you don't want to use a streusel mix, a nut or graham cracker crust would be delicious, too. Serve with whipped cream.

Foodie Friday's "Picks of the Week."

fine-looking sweet rolls. Can't you just imagine the beguiling aroma?

The Parisian adventure continues as Wives with Knives bakes Vanilla Bean Madeleines.

My Cozy Corner's roses and sautéed pea tendrils capture the essence
of early summer.

Nothing says "summer is here" like Pine Cones and Acorns'  homemade ice cream--you'll want to save the recipe for Trader Joe's Chocolate-Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

Purple Chocolate Home made a beautiful bridal shower cake--it's so pretty, it
should be on the cover of a magazine!

 Now it's time to share our latest recipes. What did you bring to the potluck?
It would be super nice is everyone will Tweet or Pin at least three of your favorite Foodie Friday recipes. You can also give a shout-out on Facebook.

Thanks to all of the great cooks who participate each week. I look at each post to make sure it is working, and it is always such a treat to see what you've been cooking. I'd like to invite you to add your recipes to the "Consuming Passions" group board at Pinterest, which can be found HERE.
It is a small, private group, but Foodie Friday folks are welcome. If you'd like to "pin" with us and chat about food, just leave a comment on one of the "pins," and I will send you an invitation. Or you can email me.

To participate in Foodie Friday, locate the blue Inlinkz icon and follow the directions. The red "x"
will allow you to delete your link if you made an error; the "x" is visible to you only.

For a complete guide to this linky party, click HERE. If you have still have questions, click HERE
for a detailed Foodie Friday tutorial.

** By adding your link to Foodie Friday, you are granting us permission
to include a photo of your FF recipe (and a link to your blog post)
to be included in the "Picks of the Week" feature or on our Facebook page.

**Many bloggers add their recipes on Thursday evening. From these contributions, I will select random recipes for shout-outs on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook 
I would like to ask pretty please if Pinners will "pin" photos of the "Picks" and all FF contributions from the source blogs, not from Foodie Friday. 
Thanks so much for visiting  today. I am always inspired by your recipes--and by you. Food blogging is more difficult than any kind because of the sheer work that goes on behind the scenes--planning, shopping, prep work, cooking, taking photographs, culling those photos, and cleaning.  I am amazed by your ideas and creativity. .
I hope to see you again soon! Have a great, food-filled weekend.

Mlee  & Bandy

Pin It

Monday, May 27, 2013

Treats for Your Diabetic Pooch

One of my Yorkies, Zap, was diagnosed with diabetes in 2011. Every twelve hours,
I test his blood glucose level, feed him exactly 1 cup of a prescription diet, and determine how much insulin he needs.  Because Z is a brittle diabetic, and his blood glucose can plunge very low, he gets a snack every six hours. Sometimes he gets tired of broccoli, so I make diabetic dog biscuits.

Zap's father, Murphy (left), doesn't have diabetes.

Nor does Mister.

These Yorkies are serious foodies.
Mister has been known to jump onto the kitchen table the moment his humans
have left the room. Once, he wolfed down Dr. Will's steak.
Mister developed a collapsed trachea after a surgical procedure,
and this condition worsens when he gains weight.

 Murphy is almost thirteen years old and tends to be portly.

All three boys can benefit from diabetic-friendly biscuits and cupcakes.

What You'll Need:

Diabetic Dog Biscuits
                                                                    Yield: approximately 50 biscuits
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

Into a bowl, add eggs and pumpkin. Whisk until smooth.
2 tablespoons dry milk. Stir.
2 1/2 cups brown rice flour
2 teaspoons dried parsley
Place dough onto a (brown rice) flour-smeared cutting board. Roll out 1/4 to 1/2" thick.
Cut into strips or use a cookie cutter.
Place "bones" on a baking pan. Place pan in oven and bake 18 minutes. Turn biscuits.
Continue baking another 18 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool.

Since mixing bowls and ingredients are already on the counter,
it's a good time to make canine cupcakes.

Healthy Peanut Butter-Carrot Cupcakes for your Pooch
                                                           Yield: 1 dozen
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
1 cup shredded raw carrots
1/2 cup organic (sugar free) applesauce
1/4 organic or natural peanut butter (smooth; no sugar added)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 c. whole wheat flour
Blend ingredients.
Line a cupcake pan with liners and add batter.
(It won't rise very much, so go ahead and fill to the top.)
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until browned.
Note: you can ice the cupcakes by blending 8 oz fat free cream cheese and 4 tablespoons sugar free
applesauce. This is a bit rich for my Yorkies, so I skip this part.

Because a diabetic animal needs to be fed the same amount of food at the same time of day, it's imperative that you consult your veterinarian before adding these treats to his/her diet.
Your vet will explain how to calculate calories and the dog's weight--and he/she will also know
which foods will be acceptable for your animal's personal health history. 

Note: Before making these treats or serving them to your pet, consult your veterinarian.  

Printable Recipes are available HERE.


Publix Grocery-- Natural Peanut Butter (deli)

 Disclosure: Wholeport provided green and red patterned cupcake liners.

Pin It

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Trip to the Stone Yard

It was time to choose a slab of granite--or something--for the kitchen. So I gathered paint samples, studied photos of kitchens, and tried to learn about the pluses and minues of each stone.

But my preparation always flies out the window when I see a slab that calls out to me.

When Medana and I arrived at the fabricator's shop, I whipped out my sample of Benjamin Moore's "Simply White" and placed it against small samples of Caesarstone's new marble-like products.

Next, I tried Caesarstone's "Pure White." Here, it's placed against a cabinet that's been painted Sherwin Williams' "Creamy," the trim and paint color that I ran through the downstairs at Rattlebridge. The manager told me that Caesarstone is at the top of the price range, more expensive than (some) granite.

The manager showed me a slab of Bianco Macaubus. I've heard it called "granite" and "quartzite." It resembles marble yet it's more durable.  I've seen many beautiful kitchens at Houzz that had "Macaubus" counter-tops. 

Medana held up the SW "Creamy" door. (Actually, we had one door--SW "Creamy on one side, BM's "Simply White" on the other.)

I totally forgot the name/type of stone. I want to say travertine. After a while, the white area
began to resemble an animal. I saw the eye and the jaw. Then I made out a fine line inside the jawline. It's a

Super White is another option for a "marble-like" appearance. Is Super White a granite or a quartzite? Some say it's bulletproof, the perfect choice if you love Cararra; others say that Super White is prone to chipping and etching. Here's one of many debates at Houzz.

I liked this slab of Super White. It worked with my sample of "Creamy" and "Simply White."
However, the slab had quite a few blurry places. I don't know why that bothered me, but it did. The manager told me not to worry, that she could find slabs without this discoloration.

Was Super White too busy? Not busy enough? Too cool? I was a little worried that my kitchen might look "cold." I tried to imagine Super White on the counters, surrounded by white cabinets, stainless appliances, and polished nickel pulls/knobs. Would it be a beauty or a beast?

Super White with a "Creamy" door:
Super White with a "Simply White" door: 

My present kitchen has a swirly, wild granite, and it has black spots. I like little surprises. However, when I texted a photo to Dr. Will, he texted back, "Keep looking."

Medana and I passed by a wild slab. If I'd seen it 8 years ago, it would have been love at
first sight. I'm a little shocked at myself. Where's my sense of adventure? But I just can't
see this slab in my kitchen.  Not even if I put Absolute Black granite on the perimeter (or white Caesarstone). No. I would get so tired of it, I tell myself. And it's far too cool to work with "Creamy."

More wildness awaited us in the next aisle.

Finally, a bit of calm. However, this slab was peppered with "cranberries," little ball of reddish
purple. Again, that wouldn't have bothered me a few years ago, but now, those berries leaped out.
What a shame, Miss PickyPants.
This slab (and its three sisters) were reserved. But that was fine. It almost felt...too calm. Too safe. Yet not safe, because I didn't like it with my cabinet, "Creamy."

What a bummer. I'd expected to find "the" stone. I thought it would call out to me. I remembered the many horror tales about stone yards. Women going to look at slabs for a YEAR and never finding "the one." At this point, I started to worry. I had to get home to my diabetic Yorkie, and dense, killer traffic that was gathering on the Interstate.
As we left the building, Medana held up the cabinet. The granite looked blue-black.  

We passed by the crazy slab we'd seen earlier.  "It could be a show stopper," Medana said.

Dejected, we walked into the remnant yard, my favorite place. Long ago, I'd found some hidden
gems for powder rooms and table tops. I knew I wouldn't find anything large enough for the kitchen, but that didn't matter. My pulse began to speed up.

"Here's a black and white granite," Medana said. (Shown with BM's "Simply White.")

I have three beat-up tables that need granite or marble tops. And I needed a bit of Cararra Marble
to go around the master bath tub.


Medana told the manager to please reserve that slab.


Inside the manager's office, she showed me a picture of a gorgeous slab that was in a yard on I-65.
It was granite but had a "marble-like" movement. Medana programmed her GPS, and we dove into the beehive of afternoon traffic.

When I saw the slab, it was riddled with cranberries. No, it wasn't "the one."

We looked at a Cararra slab. The "Creamy" cabinet was a bit too creamy. And somehow,
this wasn't my dream marble. Would it be worth nagging my family to not spill lemonade?
To be on edge whenever I cooked?


I'd heard stories about tomato sauce ruining a countertop in, like, twenty seconds. I'd heard
tales of etching and water marks.

Let's be really real. I'm a messy cook, though I strive to clean as I go.  However, if a slab had truly "called" to me, if it had made my soul sing, I would have changed my evil ways; I would have worked hard to avoid stains.

But I didn't find that slab.

In a way, I felt relieved.
Now that I'd decided against marble, I needed to find a granite that worked with my kitchen. But if Medana and I wanted to beat the nail-biting traffic, we had ten minutes to look. Then we had to scoot. On our way out, we noticed a slab.
"How'd we miss this one?" Medana said.
Here it is with "Creamy."

"It looks like you," Medana said.
But what the heck does that look like? (And what does it mean?)
Eight years ago, I chose a granite that induced vertigo.
Today, this quieter slab wasn't calling out to me. . . yet, the more I looked, the more I liked it. It was warm, not too busy (slabs are always calmer when they are on a counter, somehow). The movement reminded me of flowing water. And the colors would look great with the stainless appliances.

I sent a quick text to Will.
He texted back, "Z white looks like a ship. Keep looking."

In any event, three slabs weren't available. They'd been reserved. I needed four. The salesman said he would double check.

Here's the slab with the "Simply White" door.

As we headed out the door, the manager said, "Hey, those three slabs just came off hold."
So I put them on hold.

No money had been exchanged, so I went over my options. I wasn't bowled over by the Caesarstone--or the price.  I hadn't found the marble that I'd wanted (but that was a sign from The Kitchen God: Messy cooks with messy families might want to think twice about marble. And granite has worked in two previous kitchens.)

So, granite it shall be. Since my kitchen will be Very White, I will need to find a paint color with depth. The backsplash won't be chosen until much later.

Here are three possible paint options.

                             Sequoia                                    Macaubus                                      Super White

Which slab do you like?