Homemade Dog Biscuits

Ok, I admit, I've taken to spoiling my dog. Quite a bit.  One look at her face and all my troubles melt away.  So when I came across a homemade dog biscuit recipe in Yvette van Boven's book Home Made, I knew I would be baking them.

The ingredients are so pure humans could eat these biscuits.  Why not feed your dog the same wholesome food you would feed yourself?

I used a cookie cutter I bought for a craft project that made the perfect size of treat.  I ended up with a full jar (she had a few before I took photos of them).  Needless to say, she loves them, and I feel good giving them to her knowing they are not filled with preservatives. 


2/3 cup of salt-free homemade beef broth or hot water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 egg
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Combine all ingredients into a firm dough in a bowl.  Roll into a thin sheet approximately 1/8 inch thick on a flour dusted counter top.  Cut the dough into strips or cut out shapes using a cookie cutter.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake the doggy biscuits for approx. 30 minutes until golden brown.  Keep in a sealable jar. 

*recipe copied directly from Home Made

Roasted Pork & Apples with Cream Gravy

I missed the traditional turkey dinner this Thanksgiving.  Since cc and I went to Galveston it didn't make sense to cook a large meal for the two of us.  So I opted for a seasonal option and roasted a pork which was a great alternative.  I found the recipe in one of my favorite books, The Farm to Table Cookbook.  It was surprisingly easy and oh so delicious.

The gravy calls for a hard cider but apple cider can be substituted.  I used regular apple cider but I was worried about it being too sweet since it is drastically different than hard cider so I split the it with chicken broth for a more savory gravy and I was pleased with the results.  You will see my substitution noted in the ingredients.

Roasted Pork & Apples with Cream Gravy*


3-4 pound pork loin roast (healthy free-range organic pork is best)
kosher salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 small (4 ounces) shallots, peeled and whole
Two 4-inch sprigs fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 sweet-tart baking apples such as Braeburn or Granny Smith, halved and cored
1/2 cup hard apple cider** or 1/4 cup of apple cider + 1/4 cup of chicken stock
1 pint cream

**hard cider is fermented apple cider; it can be found in bottles wherever beer is sold.  You can substitute apple cider which is what I did.


1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Season the roast on all sides with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or ovenproof pan over high heat.  Sear the pork on all sides until it is deep brown, carefully turning with tongs.  Transfer to a plate.  Arrange the shallots, rosemary, and bay leaf in the Dutch oven and place the pork on top.  Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

2.  Remove the foil, nestle the apples around the pork, and continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the roast reads 145 degrees, 20 to 40 minutes depending on the size of your roast (the pork should have a blush of pink juice when sliced).  Remove from the oven, place the pork on a cutting board, and cover it loosely with the foil.

3  Put the shallots and apples in a small serving bowl and keep warm.  Over high heat degalze the Dutch oven with cider (or cider and broth), scrapping any browned bits on the bottom and sides of the pan; reduce the liquid by half.  Add the cream and simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

4  Carve the roast and serve with the shallots, apples, and cream gravy.

For my side dishes I served warm homemade bread, braised brussel sprouts with bacon, and roasted, rosemary potatoes.

*This recipe, with the exception of the gravy substitution, is copied directly from the book.

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Autumn Squash and Kale*

Have I mentioned that fall is my favorite season?  Not just for the weather but also the fabulous food that comes into season.  This book is a great staple because when you have no idea what to do with the food at the market it provides a simple, delicious recipe anyone will love.

I have already made this soup twice.  TWICE.  Ok, I should clarify...cc made the first pot on the day I flew home from Squam, and I made the second pot last week.  It is full of flavor and nutrients!

Quick note:  I left the peas to simmer with the rosemary and took Annie for a run, forgetting to take out the sprig.  If you don't take it out, it's very potent.  For our palette we enjoy it, but if you're not a big fan of rosemary, set yourself a timer to take it out.

serves 6

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 ounces pancetta, minced (I have used bacon)
1 large onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of dried yellow split peas
1 fresh sprig of rosemary, 4'' long
4 cups of homemade or canned chicken broth, plush more for thinning
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound peeled hard shelled squash such as kabocha or butternut, in 1/3'' dice
1/2 pound plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1/3 pound kale or green chard with ribs removed

Heat olive oil in a large pot over moderate heat.  Add pancetta (or bacon) and saute until it renders some of its fat, about 3 minutes.  Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is soft and sweet, about 10 minutes.  Add split peas, rosemary, 4 cups of chicken broth and 4 cups of water.  Bring to a simmer, cover and adjust heat to maintain a simmer.  Cook until split peas are completely soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Taste often and remove rosemary sprig when rosemary flavor is strong enough.  (It should be subtle.)

Season soup with salt and pepper.  Stir in squash and tomatoes.  Stack kale leaves a few at a time and slice into ribbons about 1/4 inch wide.  Stir them into the soup, cover and cook until squash and kale are tender, about 20 minutes.  If soup is a little thick, thin with chicken broth. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving.

*recipe copied directly from Fresh From the Farmers' Market

BYG: Beat the Heat with Mint Tea

{image source}
I've never been a fan of mint.  I love the smell, I love the color, but I don't love the taste.  I found a reason to get over it when I took a homesteading class.  I was standing in the middle of a sweltering herb class when we were offered a glass of mint tea.  Minding my manners like my mother taught me, I took the glass of tea and drank it despite my dislike for mint.  Five minutes later the air felt as if the temperature had dropped ten degrees.  My body felt cool.  I could breath deeper.  I asked our instructor what was in the tea and her answer was simply peppermint leaves.
She said during the heat months our bodies, especially the digestive system actually heat up, and not because of the season.  It's important to cool our systems during this cycle because excessive heat in the system can burn out the adrenal glands and trigger inflammation.  All culprits that make us irritable.  Herbs have healing properties and mint in particular has a calming effect on our system as well as cooling agents.

She went on to tell us that peppermint tea was the best drink in the summer because it will actually cool us from the inside out.  After having experienced what she was saying, I prefer mint tea that is slightly chilled on a hot day to a glass of ice water.

Mint is making its way up my list of favorites (i.e. vinegar, honey, baking soda, etc).  As a bonus, growing mint to harvest for tea also has an impact in your yard.  It's a great insect repellent. 


Yield: 2 cups

1 handful of fresh mint (any variety)
2 cups of boiling water

First, wash the mint leaves in a little white vinegar and water to clean them. Roughly cut or tear the mint leaves and add to a pot of boiling water and cover or use a coffee press. Allow to steep for about 3-7 minutes, depending on how strong you want your tea.  There really is no particular recipe, and adding honey or other herbs adds a nice touch. 
Enjoy and stay cool. 

Make Coffee Cubes for a Caffeine Perk

Coffee has its perks.  Not only is a cup of coffee a morning ritual for most people, it surprisingly has healthy benefits when consumed in moderation.  The problem is, this time of year most people are experiencing a major heat wave, and the thought of a hot cup of coffee sounds uninteresting.  It's possible to enjoy your energy boost by making an iced coffee, but traditional ice cubes will only water down your joe.  

Instead of throwing out what coffee you have left in the pot, simply pour the remainder in an ice tray and freeze.  When you're ready to make your iced coffee you'll be able to drink it chilled without losing any of the robust flavor. 

Still need a reason to drink coffee?  Here are five.

1|  Sore muscles from exercise or yard work?  Caffeine from two cups of coffee has been found to reduce muscle soreness.  

2|  Daily coffee (without sugar) drinkers are about 25% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

3|  Need help with short-term memory?  Caffeine boosts brain power and helps to increase memory.

4|  Forget berries, coffee is a great source of antioxidants that help protect your body from deadly diseases such as stroke.  

5|  It may help reduce your risk of developing some cancers.  A study has shown that coffee drinkers are 50% less likely to get liver cancer than non-coffee drinkers.

**information based on consuming 2-3 cups of coffee daily