Pupsicles!

It has been just over a year since we got Arthas. We thought about getting him some puppy ice-cream for his anniversary date, but when I looked at the ingredients, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. After a little thought I decided to make my own “puppy ice cream” but make them more popsicle like. The shelter had used frozen chicken broth with milk bones in them for treats, so we did a play on this concept.

IMG_20170807_111004Basic, cheap ice-cube trays from the dollar store were perfect for portioning out the treats. I found a recipe on-line and modified it just a little. Erin was super helpful and very encouraging (I am way more creative when she is around) so we just got a few ingredients and made pupsicles.

These are stupidly simple to make. Yogurt, honey, peanut butter and a banana. Mix then portion into the ice-cube tray and add a milk bone in the center as a stick/handle. They froze in about two hours, although we did keep them in the tray a little longer to solidify more. Except for the milk bone, these are all human ingredients so technically you could eat them too.

Recipe:

  • 16 oz. plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 ripe banana
  • small Milk bone dog biscuits

Mash the banana with a fork in a bowl. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Portion out into ice-cube trays and add the milk bone biscuit in the center for a handle. Freeze.

Arthas loved these. Small snack for him, but perfect for these really hot days.

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Spicy tofu, sweet potato and pepper

There is a joy in a simple to make, less than an hour start-to-finish delicious meal. There is something even better about such a meal that is also colorful and tasty.

I was searching for something easy to make, that didn’t require a lot of heavy pots or constant stirring and came across a really interesting recipe from Cookie and Kate. I loved the idea of this, but wanted to make sure it would be filling enough as a main dish, especially since I needed to use less pepper as Bob is not a fan of them and I only had one sweet potato on hand. So with this as my starting point, I experimented a bit and came up with quite a tasty dish. And Bob even said he did not mind the peppers. Bonus points for me.

Recipe:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1/2 block tofu
  • 1/2 cup uncooked jasmine rice
  • nut butter of choice – about 1/2 cup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • hot water to thin – about 3 tablespoons
  • oil for coating and frying
  • ground cumin
  • 2 scallions
  • cilantro leaves
  • peanuts (dry roasted, unsalted)
  • salt

Cook rice according to package directions. Should be about 1 cup water to 1/2 cup rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Take of heat and let sit, covered, for about ten minutes.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut sweet potato into 1/3 – 1/2 inch half moons or cubes. Chop peppers into large chunks, about 3/4 – 1 inch pieces. Coat in oil and spread on baking sheet, keeping separate. Sprinkle all with salt, and sprinkle some cumin on the sweet potato. Roast for about 25 minutes – the potato and peppers should be soft but not burned. If your oven is anything like mine, stir half way through to prevent burning the bottoms of the potatoes before they are cooked.

Press tofu to remove as much water as possible and cut into chunks. For crispy tofu, coat in corn starch, for less crispy tofu, leave uncoated. Heat about 1 tablespoon oil in pan over medium high heat and add tofu. Let cook about 4 minutes before flipping. If the bottoms are not browned, let cook another 1-2 minutes. Cook second side until slightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.

To make the sauce, add nut butter (I used a combination of almond and peanut as I didn’t have enough of either) to a bowl. Add soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, ginger, rice wine vinegar and honey. Mix well and add water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, until creamy and sauce is thinning enough to pour. It should be similar to a dressing consistency, but not a vinaigrette.

Chop scallions, cilantro and peanuts.

Layer rice on a plate, then top with potatoes and pepper then tofu. Spoon dressing, about three tablespoons, over top and garnish with scallions, cilantro and peanuts. Serve hot.

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Domaine de la Roche Bleue – Chenin Blanc, 2015

  • Basic info: Domaine de la Roche Bleue “Jasnieres” Chenin Blanc, Loire Valley, France, 2015
  • Type: White
  • Price estimate: $19
  • Look: light straw color, some legs, but not many when chilled.
  • Smell: honeysuckle, lemon and melon
  • Taste: Lemon, salty. Crisp and clean, but with a little brine. Medium finish.
  • Conclusions: Good wine. Easy to drink and great on a hot day. Not something I will seek out again, but it was definitely a good wine.
  • Other notes:
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from Chamber Street, ” The Roche Bleue 2015 Jasnieres shows pale bronze color with beautiful aromas of pear, lime-flower and peach with hints of stone, anise and citrus peel. The palate reveals almond, pear, stone and chalky minerals that continue in the ver long, tart, very mineral finish.” 12% alcohol by volume.

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Shebang Wines – Red Blend, No Vintage

  • Basic info: Shebang Wines, “The Whole Shebang” red wine blend from Sonoma, California
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $15 (Chamber Street Wines)
  • Look: Dark plum, opaque with good legs
  • Smell: plum, cherry, deep dark fruit.
  • Taste: Cherry, blackberry, ripe plum, dark fruit and chocolate on the back end. Long finish.
  • Conclusions: Fantastic wine and one that tics all the boxes for both Bob and I. It is rare that we both find a wine we really love, but this zinfandel blend is doing the trick. It is higher alcohol content than either of us guessed because we didn’t taste any alcohol and we didn’t feel anything in the back of our throats (sure sign of high alcohol). We had this with our cheese box last month and we were both super happy with the wine.
  • Other notes: I love zinfandels and I love the dark fruit taste of them and this wine is 55% zinfandel, so I was pretty sure I would like it. I wasn’t prepared to love it, especially not at $15 a bottle. We liked this wine so much we ordered more of it the next day. I don’t usually do that, and we have only ever decided a wine was that good that we needed to make sure we stocked away a few bottles twice. Because the wine is high alcohol, I can only do a glass of it, but I savored my glass and drank slowly because I wanted it to last. This is really an incredible wine.
  • From the bottle: No tasting notes from the bottle, but from Chamber Street, “55% Zinfandel blended with Carignane, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Alicante Bouschet, Grenache, Syrah, Barbera and a touch of whites for aromatics from old vine plantings (up to 100 years old) around Sonoma County, fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel and raised in a nice bit of French oak for a bold, bright-fruited, silky, and satisfying wine that is unbeatable at this price.” 14.2% alcohol by volume.

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Smashed Chickpea Sandwich

There is something very comforting about a smashed chickpea sandwich. I’m not sure exactly what, but it is a little like a tunafish or chicken salad sandwich from childhood, but with less icky mayo. It is pretty amazing that this little sandwich can be so satisfying that even a meat lover lover like Bob is perfectly happy to eat one for lunch.

I’ve made variations of this over the years, generally with a tahini based dressing and sometimes with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette, but I think this version is my favorite. I used the Caesar-ish dressing from the salad (since it is now a staple in our house) and combined it with my favorite version of the sandwich and it was pretty perfect. It is also stupidly simple to make, cheap and portable.

In the picture above I used cabbage in place of the spinach since I was out of spinach. kale, any type of leaf lettuce or other green would work just as well. The bread is also totally personal preference. I like the wrap style just for the ease of transport – nothing squishing out into my lunch bag.

Recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (about 1 15 oz can), rinsed
  • 1/4 cup vegan caesar salad dressing (from food.com)
  • 1/2 carrot, grated
  • pinch of grated cheese – pecorino, cheddar, etc.
  • spinach leaves – about five per sandwich
  • flatbread, wraps or pita

In a small bowl dump the chickpeas and lightly mash with a fork. Add in most of the dressing and carrot and mix/mash. You want some chunks of chickpea for texture. Make sure the carrots are mixed through. Add more dressing if needed – you want the creamy taste to come through but not so much that it overpowers.

Layer spinach leaves across the bread and then spread chickpea-carrot mixture on top, leaving about a 1/2 inch on the ends of the bread. (The order does not actually matter – the chickpeas can go first and the spinach last.) Roll the wrap fairly tight – you want a nice spiral without everything oozing out.  If using regular bread or a pita, fill as you would with any other mixture.

That’s it. Simplest lunch ever.

 

Edmunds St. John – Gamay Noir, 2015

  • Basic info: Edmunds St. John, Bone Jolly – Gamay Noir, El Dorado County, California, 2015
  • Type: Red
  • Price estimate: $23 (Chamber Street Wines)
  • Look: ruby red, translucent with noticeable legs
  • Smell: blackberry and cherry
  • Taste: Raspberry and dark fruits with currants on the back end. Bright wine with just a little effervescence and some mineral on the finish.
  • Conclusions: Good wine and fairly interesting. It is a little like a pinot noir, but just different enough to make me want to try more.
  • Other notes: Gamay noir was one of the grapes on my list that I really wanted to try. I didn’t want to get just any bottle, I wanted to find one that would be a good example of the grape and I think this was it. I would like to try one that is just a little more expensive because I think I will get more depth to the wine. This one was good, very good, and easy to drink, but there were subtle things that make me think I can find something just a little better.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from Chamber Street, “Made from 100% Gamay Noir, it is beautifully aromatic with candied black cherries, orange blossom, hibiscus and sweet spice aromas rising from the glass. Candied fruit abound on the palate pairing well with an array of different meals.” 13.5% alcohol by volume.

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Herve Villemade – Sauvignon Blanc, 2016

  • Basic info: Herve Villemade, Vin de France, Sauvignon Blanc, Loire Valley, France, 2016.
  • Type: White
  • Price estimate: $15 (Chamber Street Wines)
  • Look: translucent straw with medium legs
  • Smell: lemon, jasmine, granny smith apples. Bob got pineapple and pine.
  • Taste: Crisp, dry, diluted grapefruit with a touch of honey.
  • Conclusions: This is definitely a Sauvignon Blanc, but it is an excellent example of the grape. It will never be my favorite varietal, but this is one I could easily drink. The finish was good and it had the right balance of acidity and sweetness  even though it is NOT a sweet wine.
  • Other notes: I bought this bottle specifically because I wanted to try Sauvignon Blanc again. I tend to avoid Sauvignon Blancs as I’ve had lots that were more like drinking alcoholic grapefruit juice than wine. I know that is a style and flavor profile some like, but I don’t. However, with this one, I enjoyed the wine even if I didn’t love it.
  • From the bottle: No bottle notes, but from Chamber Street, “The wine shows lovely aromas of pear, melon, lime-flower and boxwood, really pretty, with pear and apple on the palate with stone and lemon confit – perfectly balanced and refreshing.” 12% alcohol by volume.

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