31 January 2011

Carob Chip Doggie Biscuits

We are puppy training...we are going through LOTS of treats in training.  Our Pierre is incredibly food motivated!  (Thank goodness!) 

This has been an interesting 4 months for our family, owning our first puppy.  There have been some tribulations, especially since the weather in Michigan has been consistently under freezing since Pierre's arrival.  It's hard to housetrain when you are shivering...the dog that is!  Pierre has done well and my carpet has barely survived, and I developed a new carpet cleaning solution that actually works pretty well for accidents, and also accidents that you don't "find" right away!  Recipe at bottom of post!

   We are learning all the stuff that dogs teach their owners...I mean people teach dogs.  I have been reading and following "30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog" by Tamar Geller.  I absolutely love the book and her methods have proven very successful so far.  I would highly recommend it!  I didn't like the idea that I was supposed to create a "submissive" animal, and this method actually does that, but in a different way.  Pierre wants to please us all the time and does a great job with a few reminders.  We have learned many tricks and are working hard on a few essential commands.  Check it out at  www.tamargeller.com

On to the biscuits!  We do have to be careful that Pierre doesn't turn into a little tubby terrier, so I've been making lots of biscuits that I know are healthy and tasty.  The peanut butter biscuits I posted earlier in January are great, and Pierre LOVES these new carob ones!


2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup carob chips
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup hot water
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 cup oatmeal or wheat germ

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl combine oatmeal and hot water, let soak about 5 minutes if using whole rolled oats.  Add rest of wet ingredients and stir to combine.  Add flour, stirring until smooth and add carob chips.  Roll out on floured surface about 1/3 inch thick and cut to desired shapes.  Bake about 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let dry an additional 2 hours.  Store in airtight container for up to 1 week or refrigerate up to 3 weeks, freezes for up to 3 months.

We are practicing on making some recipes with brewers yeast, meat stock and meats.  I will post some of those next week.  We are testing them out as we post....

I fill up an old Lysol spray bottle about 3/4 of the way with water, I add about 2/3 cup of white vinegar, 1/3 cup of carpet cleaning solution and 1/2 teaspoon clorox bleach.  Shake it all together.  I will measure everything and repost exact measurements soon.  
 For a new spot, I soak up the stain, sprinkle the area with baking soda and spray with the solution.  For an old spot, I soak the whole area for about 10 minutes and then blot it up until mostly dry and sprinkle with soda and let dry.  

27 January 2011


My word for the year is "REDISCOVER".  In a world that "reduce-reuse-recycle" has become the mantra, I prefer the word "re-discover".  Its exploring, finding, unearthing!  It sounds mysterious, fun and exciting versus re-utilizing a previous piece of excitement.

I am rediscovering some previously loved recipes to make again and previously loved dishes that will make someone else very happy...when they go up for sale at The Salvation Army store.

I am rediscovering my love of baking and this Apple Cheddar cake recipe is what did it for me!


¾ cup unbleached all purpose flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter (1 stick) unsalted, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
6 tablespoons milk
1 cup chopped cheddar cheese (I used Isle Of Mull)
1 large apple, cored, peeled and chopped in 1/4 inch cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 inch cake pan.

Combine all dry ingredients and mix to combine.

Combine butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until fluffy.  With mixer on medium-low, add eggs one at a time.  Turn mixer to low speed and add ½ dry mixture.  Add milk and stir remaining dry by hand until just combined.  Add apples and cheese.

Pour into prepared pan, smoothing top with a spatula.  Bake about 35 minutes until golden brown and toothpick in center comes out clean.  Let cool about 10 minutes before removing from pan.


½ cup egg white
1 cup sugar
3 sticks butter
3 ounces of Stout

In a glass or metal bowl over a double boiler heat egg white and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved.  Place wire whip on mixer and whip until mixture is white and cool.

Change to paddle attachment and on medium speed add butter a tablespoon at a time.  Once all butter is incorporated, increase speed to high and beat until smooth.  Add stout and mix until combine.Then, because I had so much room for discovering some NEW things...I picked up this super sweet purse at The Resale Boutique when I dropped off our winter items to consign.  I would say it fits into the re-use category!

And, this little "Parsley Planter" was just the ticket for my kitchen window!

I CANNOT resist cheese plates and of course, Williams Sonoma agrees.  They produce new ones each year that I "have to have"!!  Aren't they great in this rectangle shape with the bit of depression for sliced baguette or maybe a bit of salami.  They also fit a grilled cheese sandwich perfectly!


24 January 2011

Raw Milk; cheese makers perspective

At The Boulevard Market, we discuss the subject of raw milk on a regular basis.  We are sampling cheeses daily that are made of pasteurized milk and raw milk, sometimes it's the same type of cheeses one raw milk, the other pasteurized milk.  The question is always the same; "Are raw milk cheeses better?" 

The answer is not simple and that's why we are only discussing the cheese making perspective in this post.  The answer is; "It depends on the cheese maker's desired results". 

There is a huge misconception that all European cheeses not exported in Europe are raw milk.  It's not true.  We ate many cheeses in Italy and France that were pasteurized and labeled for sale as such.  (No, they are not just sending the Americans their crappy cheeses.)  It's true that many European soft cheeses WERE raw milk that, by law, are not available in the USA.  (We also had choices of raw milk or pasteurized yogurts in both countries)  Our law states cheeses must be aged at least 60 days, which pertains to most brie and other soft and/or fresh cheeses.  I purposely purchased raw milk soft cheeses to see if I could tell the difference from what I eat at The Boulevard Market everyday.  With the exception of 4 soft cheeses, I could not blatantly tell which were raw.  Now, there was a huge difference in the raw milk brie, but the Fromage de Meaux and Brie Nangis that we procure are pretty fantastic and would satisfy a European ex-pat. I would also like to note that most brie produced in France was quite flavorful and strong.  From a retailers perspective, most of my customers want a little less potent.

The cheese maker's perspective comes into play when choosing what cheeses to create.  Raw milk cheese ages much more quickly than pasteurized.  So obviously, if you are looking at creating older cheeses, you would want to pasteurize that milk to acquire the desired result after aging for X amount of years.  Let me point out a couple particular cheeses that do better with gently pasteurized milk.  Gouda, from the Netherlands.  It cannot age for 5 years if made of raw milk.  Goat cheeses in particular are usually pasteurized in even the most rural areas of Europe for any type of storage, as they age really fast. 

The one question you might want to ask the cheese maker is HOW are they pasteurizing?  At Four Corners Creamery, we pasteurize at 145 degrees for 30 minutes.  By using this method, we still preserve essential enzymes and proteins necessary for great cheese and abide by the laws.

A question I like to ask people that are proponents of drinking raw milk and eating only raw milk cheeses "Why?" 

On the personal opinion side of things I tend to think about issues like raw milk and organically grown foods in broader terms.  There are many bacterias that are extremely harmful to humans, do I want to take the PURPOSEFUL chance in consuming them if I don't have to?  I completely agree that the less processed a food is the healthier it is.  Does heating whole milk to kill off mainly harmful bacteria fall into the category of processing?  Have you seen milk that comes straight from the farm?  Do you know how the farmer prepares his cows for milking?  Every time, every cow?  What does he use to clean his equipment?  Are you getting residue?  Do you wash your organic produce?  Are you familiar with the list of pesticides approved for organic growing?

These are questions I like people to think about, whatever your choice may be.  When we are all informed, we make better choices in foods.      

22 January 2011

In need of cake...

Something strange happens to me when the temperature drops like a stone...my need for cake increases.  A warm kitchen with the oven churning out heat, drops of batter on the counter and the smell of baking coconut wafting through the entire house.  I make a cup of tea and all is right in the world for 40 blissful minutes! 

A Birthday (http://blvdmarket.blogspot.com/2011/01/culinary-book-club.html) was the perfect excuse for a BIG cake on a Wednesday night!  In our book club novel this month was a white cake.  Now, I don't know about you, but white cake just doesn't do it for me.  I want coconut or nuts or chocolate or fruit or all four in my cakes!  I want cream cheese frosting, or caramel glaze!  white cake.  no.

So after fooling around on some of my favorite blogs and recipe sites, I decided on Italian Cream Cake.  (This was also determined by the fact I had 5 DOZEN eggs in my fridge and lots of coconut left from the holidays in the freezer!)  It's white, so it sorta went with the general theme of our book club.
I chose an Italian Cream Cake recipe from The Pioneer Woman site www.thepioneerwoman.com and I'm glad I did!  WOW!  All the "essential ingredients" were there for a terrific cake!  Moist, flavorful, rich,excess of cake goodness!  It was a winner! (I will be writing a separate post about my experiences with TPW website/blog.)

Recipe: Billie’s Italian Cream Cake

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  • 1 stick Butter
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 5 whole Eggs (separated)
  • 3 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 1 cup Coconut (from PW: If You Think You Hate Coconut, Trust Me: I Do Too, And I Love It In This Recipe)
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • _____
  • 2 packages (8 Oz) Cream Cheese
  • 1 stick Butter
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 1 package 2 Lb Powdered Sugar
  • 1 cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 1 cup Sweetened, Flaked Coconut

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolks, vanilla, and coconut.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
Alternate adding buttermilk and dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix until just combined, then fold in egg whites.
Pour evenly into the three prepared pans, then sprinkle the top of each pan with 1 (at least) tablespoon sugar.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely.
In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Stir in chopped walnuts and sugared coconut. Spread between layers and serve.
Note: cream cheese frosting will soften at room temperature, so refrigerate if you won’t use it right away.

I made my cake only 2 layers to appease the household, one 8" round just for them! 

I decorated Linda's cake with fresh lemon leaves instead of nuts (in case of unspoken allergies) and the bright, shiny green leaves gave us a much needed respite from blustery winter weather!   

I ate the last chunk standing by the counter with my coffee, right out of pan.  $10 says you will too.

20 January 2011

Culinary Book Club

At our book club meeting last night I offered up "guest posting" for my blog.   It was a wonderful surprise to wake up and see Linda's email this morning!  All of the food was outstanding as usual and I will post more recipes from the group this month!  Thanks so much Linda and I hope everyone enjoys!

Hi Erika,

Here is something for the blog.  Feel free to edit as you wish.

The first rule about Culinary Book Club is you DO talk about Culinary Book Club.  Our bi-monthly meeting at Boulevard Market is all about conversation.  Sure, we meet originally to talk about the book we have all read, which is always food related.  But we do not hesitate to branch out into discussions of family, pets, local events, and pretty much any sidetrack our train of thought chooses to explore.

Last night's meeting was especially fun for me as this week was my birthday, and Erika made a wonderful Italian Cream Cake for our celebration.  We all brought food that was inspired, but not limited to, dishes and influences from "The School Of Essential Ingredients" by Erica Bauermeister.  The book was a story of a restaurant owner, Lillian, who offers a cooking class, and it explores the lives and experiences of the class members, and shows how food and learning to fully appreciate it can change their lives.

We all enjoyed this book (not always the case with previous books, but that in itself is good for conversation).  The descriptions of the characters were as well presented as the food that they were making.  The author really made us care about these people, and left us hoping for more.  A sequel?  A movie?  They are people we would like to know more about.

The book inspired me to make a Curried Butternut Squash Soup.  It was not specifically mentioned in the book, but for me it contains some essential ingredients, so it fit into the "inspirational" category.  I am very fond of local, fresh ingredients, and I still had some butternut squash from Prochaska Farms this fall.  I also used some of our homemade wine, a blend of LaCrosse and St. Pepin grapes from 2009.  I followed a basic recipe from the Round Barn Winery.  http://www.michiganwines.com/page.php?page_id=145
I kicked up the curry powder a bit because I kinda like it spicy. And I may have added a touch more wine.

I hope the other book club members will post some of their recipes.  We had a very nice variety of tasty dishes, and lots of memories and thoughts to share.  It is so nice when strangers with a common connection can come together and become friends.

Perhaps you should join us for the next Culinary Book Club meeting.

Linda Utter
Flying Otter Vineyard
3402 Chase Road
Adrian, MI  49221
fax 703-814-4979

NOTE:  The only food I did not get a photo of was Gretchen's Mexican Hot Chocolate...I was not thinking photo, I was too busy enjoying her fabulous chocolate! 

16 January 2011

Things I'm thinking about this week

I'm going to write about a few things I've been thinking about this week!

NASA has a yearly budget of approximately $8.17 billion dollars.  While space exploration is great, could we get their scientists to develop a cleaner that gets dog pee out of carpet permanently?  The 43 million (40% of our total population) dog owners/tax payers would really appreciate it!  Now that would be money well spent!

Cashmere has got to be the most fabulous fiber ever.  I especially love it when it's on SALE!  Coldwater Creek had a great sale on sweaters and for $33 I am toasty, stylish and anticipating the rest of winter.  You should totally check it out!  I think I have to go back tomorrow, sans John and Pierre.

This week I purchased rosemary, parsley and pink cyclamen plants, tulips and a bouquet with asters and hydrangea.  My house seems cleaner, the sun brighter and my attitude has drastically improved.  Plants just exude love, don'tcha think?

I love Norah Jones' first CD and Jack Johnson's everything....puts me in the mood to bake, paint and putz around the house in slippers.

I am embarrassed and yet totally satisfied after hoarding and eating the last Little Debbie Christmas Tree cake.

Why hasn't someone invented a painless uni-brow remover?  We have Nair for legs....

Every Sunday when I clean the tile floors in the laundry room and girls bath, I get pissed at the contractor all over again...it's been 8+ years and I just CANNOT let it go.  It's a 2011 priority to either fix them, or get over it and be done. 

I really like how the dog barks at the dogs on TV.

It is weird that farmers have to sign contracts to grow Honeycrisp apples.

Why does hair only seem to grow when you have it colored? 


15 January 2011

Lamb Kafta

One benefit of living in southeast Michigan is our enormous population of people of Middle Eastern descent that brought their foods with them.  I love the food!  I love Lamb Kafta the very most!  Grilled served with a rice pilaf, on a pita with tomatoes and garlic sauce, chopped on top of a salad or shaped into meatball size and stuck on a ke-bob with vegetables to grill.  You can serve with a bit of cucumber sauce too! 

I'm looking for simple and quick, so I buy my spices already mixed at a Mediterranean market.  15 minutes to a really delicious, healthy meal at home!

1 pound ground lamb
3 Tablespoons chopped onion
3 Tablespoons chopped, fresh Parsley
4 cloves garlic ground into paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 Tablespoons Kafta spice blend

12 wooden skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes

Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and stir to combine.  Shape meat around skewer in desired size.  Grill over high heat 8 minutes for a skewer full or 6 minutes for meatball size with veggies. 

Like most lamb, be careful not to overcook as meat will dry out.

I love to have this fresh grilled flavor in January!

Bookcase Makeover

The saying goes..."a picture says thousand words".  Well, I was sorely embarrassed by my Christmas morning photographs of happy people, puppy, beautiful tree and this horrid, overstuffed bookcase in nearly EVERY shot!  It wasn't until I was asked to share the photos that I really noticed how bad it had gotten.  Hopefully Lewis' parents are not concerned for his safety at our house after viewing this...


Yesterday, I picked up a tidy little 5 shelf bookcase for cheap to deal with my problems.  I think I will upgrade later when I turn an empty bedroom into an official library, once we find permanent placements for daughters!

In July, I painted Gina's bedroom this lovely peacock blue and I just love it!  It's warm and inviting in the winter, yet cool and relaxing in the summer!   So I thought I would go with a magazine article suggestion and group the books by binding colors and add interest to my bookcase with other objects.  Well, I have plenty of "other objects" and went into the depths of the dungeon (aka basement) to dig out something interesting and still loved.

I kept the majority of my cookbooks and culinary based books in the living room and moved all of the fiction or reference stuff to the new bookcase.

There was no cure for the magazine ugliness and I am not yet ready to let go.  I did organize magazines by name and date and threw away all but cooking magazines.  Progress?

OK- This post is now almost a week old and the project is not quite finished, but I will post the before only shots and complete this weekend and post the afters! 

08 January 2011

Eating local in January...

Living in Michigan, eating locally grown vegetables can be a challenge in winter.  Thankfully, our area has some ingenious growers and life is tasty even in the snowing months!  I've stock piled a few veggies and fruits myself (root cellar) as well as a freezer full of vegetables, jams and herbs.  I've been contemplating throwing some lettuce leaves into an old copper fish poacher on my windowsill...5 day micro greens!

It's a good thing our family loves root vegetables!  Any which way is fine with us, but roasting is the preference.

This is a combination of Hubbard squash, red potatoes, parsnips, carrots, turnips, onions and thyme.  All local.
Root vegetables, cleaned and cut into 1 inch pieces
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Thyme, ground coriander 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place vegetables in a shallow pan and drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  I love ground coriander and add about a teaspoon to a 9X13 size pan and stir together.  I throw in a few sprigs of thyme, but you can feel free to use rosemary or oregano.  I always add a few extra veggies so on a weekday night I can make this:
Winter Vegetable Soup

3 Tablespoons Butter
1 ½ cups thinly sliced onions
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced parsnip
1 cup diced turnips
½ cup diced celery-preferably with leaves
1 cup thinly sliced cabbage (I used brussel sprouts)
1 Tablespoon fresh, minced ginger root
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 clove minced garlic
13-14 ounce can Coconut Milk
2 cups chicken broth-more as needed
3 cups diced Butternut squash (about 2 lbs.)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Over medium heat, melt butter and add onions, carrot, parsnip, turnips and celery, stir occasionally until soft, about 8 minutes.  Stir in cabbage, ginger, thyme, garlic, salt & pepper and sauté until cabbage softens.

If you would like to garnish your soup with coconut cream, do not shake can and reserve ¼ cup when opening.  Add coconut milk, broth and squash, scraping up any brown bits.  Reduce heat to low, cover and let barely simmer for 20 minutes until squash is tender.

Puree with immersion blender or traditional blender, adding more broth until desired consistency.  For a smoother soup, pour thru mesh strainer.  Season to taste.  Garnish with reserved cream and croutons.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Oil baking sheet with EVOO.  Spread about a tablespoon blue cheese of choice on a ¼ inch slice of good quality bread.  Bake 10-15 minutes or until browned on bottom and cheese is bubbly.  Let cool and cut into ½ inch pieces.

I simply replace all the root vegetables it calls for and add the cabbage!  It's an awesome soup with the coconut milk but does need a bit of bite, therefore the blue cheese croutons!   


04 January 2011

Doggie Treats!

Ahhh, a day off!  With nothing more important to do than relax!  These days are freedom, they are dreaming days, planning, renewing, napping, baking and enjoying days!  Today I made a new recipe...tiny treats for Pierre and bigger treats for his friends!  This is new territory for me...baking for a dog?  Why not?  It took about 30 minutes including the baking time and Pierre is one happy terrier!!  I couldn't believe the amount of doggie treat recipes available on the internet!  The one I'm sharing was posted by many people, so I won't attribute to anyone, but I did add some grated cheese (surprise right?) to the original recipe, about 3/4 of a cup of cheddar that was a bit past it's prime.

Pierre helping bake treats
I had everything I needed on hand!

Waiting patiently by oven for treats to be finished!

We are learning the in's and out's of dog care.  Ye-gads, I had to post a poison list on the fridge!  I'm hoping the Sunday trip to The Boulevard Market had no lasting effects, as Pierre found and promptly ate a piece of Pannetone with raisins, a few stray coffee beans as well as many crumbs of cheese and salame, 2 toothpicks and some artificial greenery.  Yes, I technically stopped in to work...that did not happen.  But who can work with all that cuteness staring at you?

Happy Day Doggie Treats
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (you can use another type of flour if your dog is sensitive to wheat)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter, chunky or smooth (I used smooth this time)
  • 1 1/4 cups hot water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease baking sheets.

Mix all ingredients together until combined.  Turn out onto floured surface and roll to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut out shapes (dog bone maybe?) and bake for about 20 minutes until browned and crunchy.  I cut ours into small bites...but if you do larger biscuits (cookie size), you will need to add 8 minutes to baking time.  I added the cheese right before rolling out and brushed mine with an egg wash to make them a bit shiny.

Hope you enjoy your next day off with a doggie too!