The Best Gift For (Wo)Man’s Best Friend

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Raise your hand if you are celebrating the year of the dog. That’s right. 2018 is all about that WOOF. There is nothing like the love of a good pet and I, along with millions of others, love dogs. Looking back 3 years ago I posted a pumpkin dog biscuit recipe here.

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My Deacon loved that recipe, but pumpkin is not always readily available. After watching my daughter’s dog chow down on a few fallen apples in the yard last fall I wondered about using unsweetened applesauce in place of the pumpkin. Turns out that dogs love apples and unsweetened applesauce is safe for dogs to eat.

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So in addition to celebrating your favorite humans this Valentine’s Day consider showing your favorite Fido some love, too. This recipe for grain free dog biscuits is dog approved and with only 5 ingredients super easy to make.

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Honest and loyal, Dogs are the truest friends and most reliable partner. Could you ask for a better Valentine? 

Apple of My Eye Grain Free Dog Treats

3/4 cup buckwheat flour (did you know that buckwheat is actually a fruit seed related to rhubarb—me neither, but it is true)

1/2 cup almond flour

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 egg

1 tablespoon peanut butter

Mix all the ingredients together adding more buckwheat flour if too sticky. Roll out to a 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Bake on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 300F for 30 minutes. Turn each biscuit and bake 5 more minutes. Cool. Makes about 2 dozen.

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Flash Back to Apple Crisp Slices

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It all started with the squirt of an aerosol whipped cream can. You know the sound….shirrrrrrrrg. The memories flooded in. Back to the days when the kids would scream with laughter as they filled their mouths with the sweet pillowy stuff and William would impersonate the famous John Belusi Animal House cafeteria scene. Duck for cover, I sure miss that goof-ball.

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Will: Hey mom guess who I am Me: Who? Will: I am a sugar cookie

But where was the shirrrrrrrg coming from? I haven’t bought whipped cream in a can in years. Enter husband and daughter. I find them in the kitchen filling their mouths like back in the old days. They are delighted and I am cracking up that husband smuggled in a can without me knowing.

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The kitchen antics remind me that many years ago I represented Connecticut in a recipe contest sponsored by a company that makes aerosol whipped cream. As a winner I was given a set of recipe cards that included all the state winners and their recipes. I dug those out and looking back I am so pleasantly surprised to see some of my dearest contest friends among them. We’ve come a long way and am so humbled to be in your company.

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Moving on and creating new memories I took Annabelle to  Barnard’s Orchard to pick up some fresh apples. The farm is 74 acres of preserved land that has been in the Barnard family for 4 generations. It’s a real gem of a place open all year long.

f2f2c1af-0b5e-45b6-ad08-88d466ab6873Annabelle loved her first farm visit with Kiki (I think) and we were delighted to find some of my favorite heirloom varieties.  This grandma will probably have Annabelle cooking before she can even eat solid food let alone stand at the counter, but she watches me in action and you know the best food memories have to do with the aroma of the kitchen.

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So, let’s bake some apples and create some warm memories. I love baking with a Stayman apple. These apples are crisp, juicy, spicy and tart, but best of all bake up tender and still hold their shape. This seasonally delicious and memorable recipe is just as easy to bake for two as it is for a whole crowd.

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Apple Crisp Slices

2 baking apples, peeled, cored and each sliced into 4 rings

3 tablespoons butter, melted

6 Stauffer’s Apple Pie Snaps*

¼ cup pecan halves

2 teaspoons turbinado or demera sugar

Aerosol whipped cream

Heat oven 450F. Line a rimmed baking sheet, just large enough to hold the 8 apple rings in a single layer, with heavy-duty foil. Brush foil with a little of melted butter. Place cookies and pecans in food processor; pulse until mixture is just crushed. Place cookie mixture on a flat plate. Brush apple slices all over with melted butter and then press each side into cookie mixture to coat. Place apples in prepared pan. Mix any remaining butter with any remaining crumbs and sprinkle over apples. Top apples evenly with sugar. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until apples are tender. Watch carefully to make sure crumbs don’t burn during the last few minutes. Serve with your favorite whipped cream. Serves 4.

*Note: if you can’t find Snaps then substitute cinnamon graham crackers

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TGIF Sweet Reflections

Smokin' Chocolate Spice Cookie

Smokin’ Spice Dark Chocolate Cookie

It’s Friday and I am happy that my husband returned home safely after 2 weeks away in North Carolina caring for his dad. My husband is a good guy. It is the first time in probably 35 years that we were apart for this long. On my own, lots of refection took place and I liked what I saw. Certainly not the scare-d-cat I thought I was nor was I weak during another wicked snow storm.  Most impressive, I single handedly took care of a winter flood in the basement. Me and a caulk gun, cussing like a sailor–kind of bad-ass!

Being alone in the grief process, however, is another thing. There is less distraction and that black hole calls your name. It is a blessing to have someone around or someone to call when the sadness grips you by the throat. While my better half grieves completely different  without him I would never be able to be alone in my heart and mind. His strength is mine and mine is his.

cheers in Charleston

cheers in Charleston

It’s Friday and we do enjoy a little 5:00 somewhere. It’s a time to sit back, relax, and reflect on all the good in life. Like you folks who read this blog. Your support means the world to me. To show my gratitude I want to let you in on a little secret—drink some red wine with your dark chocolate–that’s a match made in heaven.

Smokin' Spice Dark Chocolate Cookies

  • Servings: 30 cookies
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1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, ground cloves, grated nutmeg and salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice plus 1 teaspoon grated zest

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips (go for the Ghiradelli double chocolate bittersweet)

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 teaspoons corn syrup

30 whole smoked almonds or ½ cup chopped nuts

Heat oven 350F. In mixing bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, spices and salt; set aside. In bowl of stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light. Add egg, orange juice, zest and vanilla; blend well. Add dry ingredients; mix well. Using a cookie scoop, drop batter on to ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10 minutes. Cool on pan 1 minute before transferring cooking to rack to cool completely. In microwave or on stovetop, melt chocolate chips with heavy cream, stirring, until smooth; stir in corn syrup. Spread chocolate mixture over tops of cookies. Top each cookie with a whole almond or sprinkle with chopped nuts.