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.

Friday, November 25, 2011


"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." ~ Thornton Wilder

Our Thanksgiving Table

I do hope everyone had a memorable Thanksgiving Day.  It is an American holiday when we are reminded to give thanks for all the things that make our life worth living.  We celebrate with lots of food and sit around with family and friends and of course, our faithful furry companions.  It's great to have one day dedicated to being grateful.  I try to live by that every day and take the time to look around, appreciate the beauty and whisper some words of thanks for my good fortune.

It was only me and Brian and the boys around the Thanksgiving table this year, but still, I made a traditional Thanksgiving feast with the anticipation of leftovers and some creative meals to follow.  Enclosed are some photos of my Thanksgiving creations which were lovingly and happily prepared.

As we watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on television, I prepared some appetizers:

Stuffed Mushrooms

Brie cheese with Kahlua and Roasted Pecans
I prepared an organic turkey which I stuffed with crusty french bread, celery, onions, cranberries, apples and pecans and seasoned with sage, thyme and rosemary.
For the sides, I made traditional mashed potatoes and gravy, sauteed green beans with garlic and sliced almonds, raspberry dill carrots and yams with brown sugar and pecans.

Here you have a glimpse of my dinner plate, packed with a sample of everything on the table:

And last but not least, I made some homemade pies.  The banana creme pie is made with a cream cheese crust and filled with a lovely vanilla creme custard and organic bananas topped with freshly made whipped cream and sprinkled with organic coconut flakes and shaved Ghirardelli dark chocolate.  I forgot to take a photo before we cut into it but you can get a glimpse of it in the photo of the full table at the top of this post.

I did take some photos of the apple pie.  This crust was made with lots of cold butter and finely grated Gruyere cheese.  What a fantastic crust this was!  It was flaky and light from the butter and savory from the Gruyere cheese which incredibly complimented the sweet honey crisp apples that were baked with butter, brown and white sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves. I brushed egg whites on the crust to make it shine a beautiful golden brown.  Delicious!

Apple Pie BEFORE

Apple Pie AFTER!
Well, that's does it for this year's Thanksgiving Dinner.  I hope you all ate heartily and are as thankful as I am for the bounty in our lives!  Thanksgiving Day is only a remembrance of what should be in our hearts every day.

P.S.  The boys had a nice walk and some skinless turkey on top of their crunchies which made them very happy, too!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Homemade Pizza, Anyone?

"You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six." ~ Yogi Berra

3 cheeses with caramelized onion and roasted garlic

Nothing is better than pizza, right?

Brian and I are pizza fanatics.  Even bad pizza tastes good.   We have a really good delivery place here in Mill Valley called Rocco's (what else?) and we often order it for something easy on on Friday nights. We even eat the little frozen pizzas or the store-bought-rise-in-the-oven-style pizzas.  But lately, I decided to make my own pizza.  With my handy bread maker (that I have used for over 20 years thanks to my mom who gave me a great one!), I can whip up good pizza dough; and with plenty of tomato paste on hand I can make a delicious pizza sauce.   We usually have a variety of cheeses and fresh veggies in the frig so there you go - all set for homemade pizza night (or day)!

Here are two recipes for pizza dough.  If I am in rush, I make the no-yeast dough but if we have some time and patience, I make the (better) pizza dough the proper way -  using yeast.   

No Yeast Pizza Dough – makes crust for one large pie or two small pies
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive or Vegetable Oil
  • 3/4 cup luke-warm water
  • Set bread machine on white dough cycle in bread for machine for first 15 minutes only and then remove
  • Dough will supple and smooth and easy for rolling out with a rolling pin
  • Roll dough out flat over a pizza stone*

Pizza Dough Using Yeast (and the better of the two) – makes a thin crust for two large pies
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour (Sometimes I use half bread flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 cup plus about 2 Tablespoons luke-warm water
  • Set bread machine to white dough and go through the entire cycle (about 1 hour and 50 minutes)
  • When bread machine beeps and dough is done, divide into two halves and roll out on pizza stone*
*I brush about a teaspoon of olive oil on the pizza stone before rolling out the dough  for a beautifully browned crust.

Delicious, tangy pizza sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon shopped garlic
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
  • 6 ounces of warm water
  • 2 Tablespoons of honey or one Tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of anchovy paste (this is optional and does not have to be used)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried marjarom
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
Cooking Instructions:
In a medium sauté pan, cook onions and garlic in 1 TBS olive oil on medium heat until soft and fragrant
Turn the heat down to low and add tomato paste;
Fill the 6-0z can up with warm water and add water to the sauce and stir until combined
Add the honey and anchovy paste and stir in
Add the spices and Parmesan cheese and stir in
Add the pat of butter and stir in until melted
Spread half of sauce on one pizza dough with a ladle, starting in the middle and out to the edges

Now put your pizza together – be creative!

Add your favorite toppings such as mozzarella cheese or any other cheeses you have in your frig. Some dollops of ricotta cheese on top of shredded mozzarella is yummy.  Add sliced tomato, pepperoni, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms….whatever.  I love to roast a head of garlic until soft and sweet and squeeze the caramelized cloves on top of my pizza.  It’s so delicious!
Before - half pepperoni & sausage & half cheese and tomato
Bake your pizza in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden.  Use a pizza cutter to slice.  Be careful not to burn the roof of your mouth if you eat it right away!  I can’t tell you how many times I have done that and end up with a nice blister the next day .  

Next time you have a hankering for homemade pizza, just look in your pantry and frig and chances are you  have the ingredients to create your own.  It's a great little meal while watching a Sunday Football game.  And it's fun to make!