Category Archives: Hints, tips and general fun stuff

Peanutty Doggie Biscuits


I’ve made my own home-made dog food for many years, but for some reason never tried my hand at making doggie biscuits.
And I have no idea why.

My Chimi gets all kinds of treats that I buy, and in fact she has her own little table, with a selection of treats, and is given a couple a day.  I try to change them out, so she doesn’t get bored with the same all the time.

Well, I get bored eating the same thing, so, why shouldn’t she get some variety?

I decided that it was time I tried my hand at baking her some treats.
This is my first try.
I nailed it.

These are Chimi approved.

I got my inspiration from this recipe I saw on the King Arthur website and  here is the Link to their recipe.

Of course I changed it up, but just a little, I added a couple of tablespoons of bacon fat, cause I had it and didn’t want to throw it out, or eat it myself.

Recipe:

2 cups AP or Bread Flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon dried Parsley
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup peanut butter, crunchy or plain  (I used some organic, whole peanut butter)
2 tablespoons bacon fat
1/2 cup water, plus a little if it’s too crumbly, just enough to make a dough.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Lightly grease a couple of baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
Mix together the dry ingredients,

 

then add the eggs and peanut butter.  This will be crumbly.  Then add the water, just enough to make a dough.

Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and cut out with a cookie cutter.  I had a doggy bone shaped one, so I used it.

Cut out the shapes, gathering and rerolling the scraps until you’ve used up all the dough.

Bake for about 40 minutes, checking after 30 minutes.   They should be a dark golden brown and crisp all the way through.   Remove from oven and let cool right on the pans.

Take one cookie off, and burn your fingers on it, tossing it from hand to hand so you can cool it off quickly and let your dog taste test it.
I got just over 50 biscuits, and Chimi did approve the taste.

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Za’atar Pita Crisps


Have you ever tried Za’atar?  It’s an interesting spice mix from the mid-east, usually consisting of thyme, sesame seeds and sumac and other herbs sometimes.   It has a kind of lemony taste, but is so good on roasted meats, on top of greek yoghurt and various Syrian and Lebanese dishes.

A friend, Debi Jordan, musician extraordinaire, introduced me to this spice mixture the day she showed me how to make Stuffed Grape Leaves.   And then I went and bought more, just for myself.   Well, the bag I bought was quite large, so I split it with her.

The Za’atar has sat in my spice drawer for quite a while now.   I keep meaning to use it, and in fact have used it seasoning some chicken dishes, etc.

But…

As I was moving it aside the other day, I realized that I really did need to use it up, or at least use more of it in something.

Then I saw this recipe on TheKitchn.com and realized “YES” I can do this.

And in this season of conspicuous consumption, this is even semi healthy.

At least the olive oil is good for you.

Take about 1/2 cup of Za’atar, mix it with some olive oil, in other words make a paste.  Set aside.

Pull out a couple of Pita Bread rounds, cut them into wedges, and then split them in half.    Put the rough inner side up on a baking sheet, and spread the Za’atar mixture on top.

Bake in a 400 deg. oven for about 6 minutes, or until the edges start to brown a little.    ( I cut them in half before I split them, they were a little harder to cut into wedges after baking)

Serve with some Hummus and you either have a nice light snack or lunch.

I made these for NPA last night and they disappeared.

I think I’m going to keep some Za’atar on hand as well as some Pita Breads in the freezer from now on, cause this was so simple and easy to make and it just plain tasted good.

I did sample a couple or three before I took them to NPA as well.

You know I’m not going to share something unless it tastes good, right?

Home Made Mayonnaise


I made some mayonnaise the other day, and was about to do something rude to myself, cause I realized, that this is so much better than any commercial mayonnaise, and why haven’t I been making this more often?

Have you ever tried making some?   I guarantee you, it’s not hard, and the taste and texture, well, hands down I think it’s better than most commercial brands.

And with an immersion blender, so dang easy to make, I’m kicking myself I haven’t made it for myself in a long time.  And when you make your own, you can customize it, however you like.   I like mine a little on the lemony side, but sometimes I like garlic or tarragon or an herby kind of mayo.

But for your basic old mayonnaise, this is the way to go.

Just 4 basic ingredients and I bet you have them all in your house.

Recipe:
1 Egg yolk
1 teaspoon Lemon juice (half a lemon works well here)
1 cup mild Oil (I like using a bland vegetable oil, but have made it with olive oil in the past, but it takes on the flavour of the oil)

1 teaspoon Mustard

That’s it.

I have to add in a caveat here, I love my immersion blender, especially the little whisk that came with it.    I use it a lot.

First off.   Separate an egg, set the white aside, you can always add it to the omelette or freeze it or do what I did, which was add it to the dog food I was making.

Sorry got sidetracked there.

Place the egg yolk in a beaker, add a squeeze of lemon juice, a little mustard.  I used some Grey Poupon Country grind, about 1/2 tsp. (sorry I didn’t measure too carefully).

Whisk the egg yolk mixture together, you’ll notice it thickening up a little, well, OK a lot.  Then start drizzling the oil in, just a drop or two to begin with.
Then the magic happens.

It starts to look a little thicker, and as you add more oil, drops at a time, it all comes together.  After you’ve managed to get about half the oil in the beaker, then you can drizzle the oil in, whisking it continually.
That’s the trick, continually whisking as you’re pouring in the oil.  And drizzle the oil in very slowly.

And after you’ve got the whole cup of oil incorporated, you end up with this luscious, velvety, smooth concoction called Mayonnaise.

Which you can use how you use regular mayonnaise, cause, umm, gee, this is real mayonnaise.

Couple of hints here.
I did say it’s been a long time since I’ve made mayonnaise, and I ‘broke’ it.  Which means it started to separate, which is not what you want it to do.
But I rescued it.
I added a tablespoon of hot tap water, whisked it through just a tad and the mayo got reacquainted and made up.
Just a little trick to keep in mind.
And if you have access to pasteurized eggs, go ahead and use them if you’re concerned with any kind of salmonella contamination.   You are using an uncooked egg yolk here, and don’t feed it to anyone who maybe be immune compromised, you know the drill.

Home made mayonnaise will keep for about three days in the fridge, but mine never lasts that long, it gets eaten.

****BTW****  Is your turkey in the fridge thawing yet?  It’s not too early to haul it out of the freezer and stick in the fridge to start thawing.    Remember for every 4 lbs. of turkey, you need to have it in the fridge for 24 hours.    So that 20 lb. turkey needs to go in the fridge today.

Home Made Snaps or Schnapps


As you may have figured out by now, I’m Danish.

Yup, I am.

You figured it out?

Oh, OK.

At any rate, as I’ve posted here before I love my Rye Bread and Herring, and I don’t think I’ve met a Smørrebrød yet that I didn’t like either.

But for myself,  as for a lot of Danes, one of the key elements of a good smorgasbord is not only Beer, but Snaps, Schnapps, Aquavit, or Akvavit.  Doesn’t matter how you spell it. Or even say it.

Also known as ‘water of life’.   Which might be a little bit of exaggeration.

Nah.

My favourite Akvavit is Jubilaeums, by Aalborg, but since Danish Distillers was sold, it apparently is not imported into the US anymore. I can buy the Taffel Akvavit here, but I have to admit to liking the flavour of Jubilaeums better and since I can’t buy it, I decided to try my hand at making some, or at least flavouring a good potato based, in other words, neutral, vodka with some Dill, Anise and other spices.   There is a website I looked at for ideas, here and they had all kinds of ideas.  So many ideas…

But, I wanted to see if I could recreate or at least approximate the taste of my favourite.

So here’s what I did back in July.

I managed to get the last seed head from my dill plant (the rest had been eaten by the swallowtail butterfly caterpillars), placed that in the jar, added coriander and some star anise.  Sealed it up tight, put it in the cupboard and managed to keep my lips off of it for a couple of months.

It is now the most gorgeous amber colored liquid.   And it tastes good too.

I did taste test it.   I had to.

It is now residing in my freezer, waiting…

I think I see a nice piece of Smørrebrød in my near future along with a glass of snaps as well.

*** I have to add, that in my search for Jubiliaeums Akvavit I did find a distiller here in the US who makes a version that they say is similar to Jubilaeums.  It is called Gamle Ode, and they produce a variety of Snaps.  Now, I haven’t tried it, but…. Here’s a link to their website, and if you’re in Minnesota, or Wisconsin or any of the other places they distribute it to, go ahead and try it.

Orange Fused Ginger Chutney Sauce


Wow, long title, huh?

But this sauce was so good, people were using it not only on the Pork Fritters but on the fried chicken, the pound cake and I guess, just eating it.  (and I should add this was all for the Boat Club last week)

I know I liked it, a lot.

I was playing around with stuff the other day when I came up with this dipping sauce and I even measured it out, just in case it was good.  And it was good, very good.
But don’t take my word for it, make some yourself and try it out.
I’ll even give you the recipe.

Recipe:
2/3 cup Mrs. Ball’s Chutney
1/3 cup Orange Marmalade (I used some of my 3 Citrus Marmalade)
2 tablespoon Mandarin Fused Olive Oil (use more if you like)
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (I use the ginger root I keep in the freezer)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Grey Poupon mustard, the coarse grind
3 tablespoons brown sugar

Mix it all together in a little pot, heat together and taste.

Which I did, and then I added more ginger, tasted it again and pronounced it good. Heating helps the brown sugar melt into everything.   You get little bits of orange and mango and peach all overlaid with a lovely orange flavour.

I have to say, I’m making this again and again.

** Edited to add:
I just made a second batch of this sauce and this time I added a second tablespoon of the Mandarin Fused EVOO and let it cook for a couple of minutes.   And I think it’s even better than the first batch.

Palak Paneer


I never realized you could actually make this at home.  I’m in trouble now.

Just kidding.

Now that I know how to make Paneer, I can indulge myself.  Well, not really, but how cool is this?  I can make it at home now, Woo Hoo!   I  have to say, you do need full fat milk for this, and no using ultra pasteurized milk or cream.  It doesn’t work, trust me on this.

Really.

Trust me.

I know whereof I speak, cause I tried making some with 2% milk and didn’t get hardly any cheese, and so I went to the store and bought some full fat milk, otherwise known as whole milk.   And the same night I made it with the 2% milk, I tried using some cream I had, and since it was ultra-pasteurized, it failed miserably.  In other words, no curd. That attempt turned into an offering to the Kitchen Goddess.

And of course you need Palak for Palak Paneer so I did a double.  Recipe that is.

So, here goes.  And for those who are interested, using 2 cups of 2 % milk got me 2 oz. of Paneer.
When I used the 4 cups of whole milk I got 5 oz. of cheese.   Just sayin…

Paneer Recipe
4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt if you want, I choose not to use it

Bring the milk to a boil, remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice.  Let it sit for a couple of minutes, stir again, you should have some lovely big curds, if not add just a skootch more of lemon juice, and stir again.

Pour into a cheesecloth lined colander or do like I did, cause I couldn’t find my cheesecloth, sigh.  I used an old (bleached clean) flour sack teacloth, and poured it into that.

Let it sit for about 10 minutes or long enough to eat your breakfast, then gather up the corners of the cheesecloth (flour sack) and expel more of the liquid by squeezing it gently.   Place the entire mass of cheese in a press to expel the rest of the liquid.  I used two small plates, on top of a larger lidded plate, and weighed it down with a bunch of cans inside a bowl.  Let sit like that for about hour or so, then peel the cloth off of the cheese and cut into chunks if you’re using it right away, otherwise wrap well, and place in fridge.

Now for the Palak.    I found some spinach on sale (WOOHOO), sorry got excited there.

Palak Recipe
1 lb baby spinach, washed at least three times to remove the grit

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

1 medium tomato, diced

2 C homemade paneer

1/2  t cumin seeds

1 tsp. fennel seeds

1/2 t ground turmeric

freshly ground salt
freshly ground pepper
lemon juice from 1 lemon

1 tablespoon ghee (I made some last January, so had some in the freezer)

In a large saucepan, melt the ghee and toast the cumin seeds and fennel . Once they are aromatic, add the onion and cook till translucent.

Stir in the tomato and cook until softened and beginning to break down. Season with turmeric.

Add the spinach at this point, and let it cook down for just a couple of minutes.  Cook it too long and it turns a shade of olive which doesn’t look all that great.   If you have an immersion blender, use it here and just buzz the spinach mixture a little.  You want it to break up, but not be too liquid.    Set it aside for a minute.

Take out your paneer and cut it into cubes and depending if you’re using the nice fresh-made warm paneer or using it from the fridge, you will need to warm it up a bit.
You can either brown it a little in some ghee or just warm it in the hot palak for a minute or so.
Serve with some warm Naan and enjoy.  Or do as I did and eat it for breakfast, and it was so good.  And I have enough for breakfast tomorrow, giggle.

Chicken Balls


I finally done did it!
I made some incredible, just like the restaurant, Chicken Balls.
I’m so happy.

Honestly, I think I need a life.
Nah.

Sorry, I got side tracked, again.

I love Chinese food, but as I said before, I live 30 miles away from the nearest Chinese restaurant, in either direction.    And to think I used to just take running out to get Chinese food, casually.  sigh.
But that’s OK, it just makes me stretch my cooking chops.
Did that make sense?

Well, for years I’ve experimented and tried and failed to make a good, light, crisp coating for one of my husband’s favourite dishes.
Chicken Balls with Sweet and Sour Sauce.
I nailed the sauce years ago, but the coating for the Chicken Balls, well, let me say, we’ve eaten a lot of marginally good chicken balls, and a few recipes have been offerings to the Kitchen Goddess.

Not any more.

I nailed it.

I found this recipe by Kittencals on Food.com  Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls 
And I will never, ever, ever make them any other way.

Recipe:
1/2 cup all-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Cornstarch
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. sugar
1 clove garlic, mooshed through the garlic press or
1/4 tsp. garlic powder or more to taste
1/2 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons Cold Water
Oil for frying.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into pieces
or
2  boneless pork chops cut into pieces.

Whisk the first 8 ingredients together and let sit for a couple of minutes, while the oil is heating.  If you have a Fry Daddy, use it.   I have a Fry Baby, and it heated the oil perfectly.   If not, then heat the oil to 375 deg. in a pot, and monitor it carefully.    The oil should be at least 2 inches deep.
Cut the meat into small pieces, and dip them into the batter, and then into the hot oil. Let them cook for a couple of minutes, until golden brown, remove and let drain in a sieve or on something where the oil can drip off.

Serve with Sweet and Sour Sauce, Chow Mein and Ham Fried Rice.

I have to say, this was so good.   I actually did one chicken breast and one pork chop.   And there was just enough batter.   And more than enough for the two of us.  There probably was more than enough for 3 or more people.  But I like leftovers, so…

I’ll probably play around with this a little more, but for now, my mouth was happy.  Very happy.

I think this could also be made gluten-free, using the cornstarch and some gluten-free flour.   I’ll be experimenting with it later on.

And the Ham Fried Rice.

Well, I do it my way as well.  Cook the rice and set it aside to cool.  Chop up some ham, and half an onion.  Saute the onion in a little oil, just til soft, add the ham, stir it around a smidge, then add the rice and some soy sauce.  Fry it for a couple of minutes, then add a half cup or more of bean sprouts, and stir together.  Serve with some chopped green onion on top, and even a little egg.