Why Dogs and Food?



Why Dogs and Food?

It's simple. Write about what you love. And what is better than dogs and food? If you are anything like me - and millions of other people - you will relate to and understand the unwavering love I have for my dogs and my passion for cooking - and eating - great food. I hope you will enjoy reading about my day to day experiences with good food and a couple of very special dogs.

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Comfort Foods for a Rainy Day

"Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort." ~ Norman Kolpas

When it’s raining and not a good day to spend outside, I declare it a good day for watching movies and cooking. The dogs don’t like it much because it means no long romps at Blackie’s Pasture or hikes through the woods behind the house. Oh well, even a dog’s life is not always, well, a dog’s life.

This past Sunday - despite the crazy commotion with our creepy neighbor - I made homemade Mac and Cheese for lunch, baked until bubbly and delicious. I also made homemade herb bread with garlic, rosemary and dill, pistachio-crusted pork loin chops and roasted mini potatoes and brussel sprouts for dinner. I guess the rain really put me in the mood for comfort foods - something I try not to make too often because of the guilt - but worthy of indulging from time to time.

Check out my recipes for a rainy day (or any other day you need some comfort!)

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Asparagus and Green Onions
Ingredients and Preparation:
Pasta
• 8 oz. macaroni (your choice of elbow, penne or farfalle)
• ½ teaspoon salt (for the boiling pasta water)
• 4 asparagus spears, chopped
• 4 green onions/scallions, chopped

Boil water in a medium sauce pan. Add salt when water comes to boil and then add pasta with chopped asparagus and scallions and boil for about 8 minutes, until pasta is al dente. Drain in colander and pour pasta and veggies back into the sauce pan.

Cheese Sauce
• 3 TBS Butter
• 2 TBS flour
• A few sprinkles of Ground Nutmeg, Tarragon, Garlic Powder and Black Pepper to taste
• Dash of Worcestershire Sauce (optional)
• 1 and ½ cups of milk
• ¼ cup of chicken stock
• 1-1/2 to 2 cups of shredded white (or yellow) sharp cheddar cheese and 2 oz. of cream cheese.

Cook butter in small saucepan on medium-low heat until melted
Add flour and make a roué
Stir until completed combined
Add nutmeg, tarragon, garlic powder and black pepper and stir
When bubbly, add milk and Worcestershire sauce
Add cheddar and cream cheese and stir in until melted
Sauce will thicken and become smooth and creamy
Add Chicken stock to thin the sauce (as it will thicken again when baking) and remove from heat
Pour cheese sauce over pasta in sauce pan and mix completely
Spray a small casserole dish with cooking spray and transfer mac and cheese to the casserole dish

Breadcrumb Topping
• 1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
• 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
• 3 tablespoons butter, melted

In small sauté pan, melt the butter on medium-low heat
Add breadcrumbs and stir for a few minutes until breadcrumbs absorb all the butter and are slightly toasted – do not burn! Set aside.
Spread breadcrumbs over mac and cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes until bubbly and breadcrumbs are dark golden.
Let sit a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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Homemade Garlic, Rosemary and Dill Herb Bread
• 2 tsps. active dry yeast
• 3 cups bread flour
• 1-1/2 tsp. salt
• 2 TBS sugar
• 2 TBS butter, softened
• 2 eggs
• ¾ cups of milk mixed with ¼ cup of warm water for a total of I cup liquid
• 2 large or 3 medium cloves of fresh garlic, finely chopped
• 1 tsp. of chopped fresh rosemary
• 1 tsp. of chopped fresh dill
(You can use more fresh herbs if you like a stronger herb flavor – this amount makes a nice, subtle herb taste)

Make dough on white bread cycle in bread machine
When dough is done, split in half and press dough into 2 loaf pans sprayed with cooking spray
Let rise under a dry cloth for at least an hour
When doubled in size, bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes, until top of bread is a nice golden brown

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Pistachio-crusted pork loin chops (sorry - forgot to photograph it)
Mix about ½ cup of shelled, crushed pistachio nuts and ¼ cup of flour and ¼ cup of panko bread crumbs in a bowl
In another bowl, beat one egg, one teaspoon of honey and a ¼ cup of milk. Add a splash of soy sauce and a small squirt of mustard (about 1/8 teaspoon of each). Mix well.
Take 2 thick pork loin chops, pounded, and coat with egg mixture.
Dredge in pistachio/breadcrumb mixture, pressing nuts into the pork loin
Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and place coated pork chops on the cookie sheet
Spray top of pork chops with cooking spray
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until pork is cooked through. If pistachio topping starts to burn a little before chops are done, cover chops with aluminum foil for remainder of cooking.

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Use these adorable mini-potatoes - they pop in your mouth and have a smooth, buttery flavor!

Roasted mini potatoes and brussel sprouts
Take as many potatoes and brussel sprouts-trimmed and cut in half as you need and place in a medium sized bowl. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of kosher or sea salt and a dash of black pepper
Then sprinkle about 1/8 teaspoon each of various dried herbs such as rosemary, basil, garlic, tarragon and thyme.
Drizzle potatoes and brussel sprouts with Olive Oil until all vegetables are coated with oil and mix them up with your hands until all the herbs are distributed over the vegetables
Dump the herbed potatoes and brussel sprouts (brussel sprouts with cut half side down) onto a baking pan or sheet and cook in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes until potatoes are tender and brussel sprouts are soft and browned on the bottoms.

11 comments:

Cafe Pasadena said...

Comfort food with a dog. Is there anything more comfortable???

Liz Berry Wagner said...

Cafe: You said it! I certainly can't think of anything better. Eating good food by a cozy fire with my boys laying by my feet.....it's heaven on earth.

Sandy said...

Wow - that macaroni and cheese recipe looks great! I might have to try that.

Liz Berry Wagner said...

Sandy - it is pretty delicious. I hope you enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

"Life is like riding a bike, in order to keep your balance you gotta keep moving!"
this was so beautiful and peaceful and made me happy for you.
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Liz Berry Wagner said...

Thank you "Anonymous" - my dogs make help me to be peaceful. They are my treasures.

Kristen said...

Hi Liz:
I am so honored to have you on my blog. When is the last time that I saw you, in the 80s oh dear? You live in the Bay Area now in Tiburon, Lynne told me. One of my best friends lives right in Mill Valley. Do you want to meet her for coffee and dish about the goings on about town? She is very dear to me. Let me know and THANK you. Will you send me your blog? Take good care now. Yes the doggies are a form of god I do believe too. And let's always celebrate that Tommy Lee with the best mommy ever! Let me know if you would like to meet Christina. Mill Valley is right down the street form Tiburon. The Bay Area is so very very special...
xoxox
KK

Susan Campisi said...

Yum! Everything sounds delicious! Brian is a very lucky man, and you are lucky to have someone to share your wonderful meals with.

Fun to see Kristen here too. Liz, you should meet Christina!

Liz Berry Wagner said...

Sue - glad to see you and yes, happy that Kristin has joined me....now that I am working, I have to find time to pay attention to my blog!

Heather Sybil Chavez said...

oh I like all the colorful food, cute blog I love the title

Liz Berry Wagner said...

Thank you for stopping by, Heather.