Friday, March 12, 2010

Peanut Butter Poppers for Pups!

I'm a complete animal lover, so when a co-worker asked if I'd be interested in helping out with a bake sale to help raise money for a Pug they rescued I was all about it. Poor Sherman needed knee surgery and it cost about $1,500! This is a rescue that pays for everything based off donation and is run strictly by volunteers! 100% non-profit! Although Sherman has had the surgery and is doing well, they're hosting a bake sale this weekend at their Pug party to help raise money to pay for the very expensive bill :) If you'd like to check out the rescue (and possibly donate or even ADOPT a Pug!) visit their website: Polar Pug Rescue.

In addition to people food I made these super easy peasy dog treats too for Fido :) Of course they're people friendly in ingredients, but I don't think you'd enjoy them as much, lol! I altered the original recipe slightly because I found the original recipe's dough to be dry and impossible to keep together to roll out to do cutouts!

Peanut Butter Poppers
from my lovely friend Ericka J.

2 cups whole-wheat flour (you must use whole wheat)
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky
1 cup milk
approx. 1/2 low-sodium chicken broth

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In another bowl, mix peanut butter and milk, then add to dry ingredients and mix well. If batter doesn't come out smoothly and doesn't stick together in a nice dough add a few splashes of chicken broth to help bind it all together.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. I found with my cookie cutter I got about 22 dog bones and a few extra treats (excess dough) that I rolled into balls and then slightly flattened.

Bake for 18-20 minutes on a greased baking sheet until lightly brown. Cool on a rack, then store in an airtight container. (They keep longer if left in the fridge) --- Make sure you watch your cookies as these can burn easily!

Just realized my tags say "baking soda" eep! It is actually baking powder! Sorry!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup, Olive Garden Style

The boy and I really do love Olive Garden! Especially if we can make it early for lunch and have the unlimited soup, salad and bread sticks deal. Yummm! Unfortunately with my trip back I didn't get a chance to visit the Italian place, so I found this wonderful recipe through handy dandy Recipezaar posted by Anne G. Now, I can't say it's EXACT like the talented chefs at Olive Garden, but I will say it's pretty darn close and totally cured my ache for the stuff!

I changed the recipe a bit by chopping instead of shredding my carrot and dicing my celery. I'm one of those people who like big chunks of stuff in their soup (except for the garlic, eep!)

If you don't want to use frozen gnocchi or can't find it at your local grocery store Ken at A Food Year has a great homemade recipe that is minimal ingredients and is very simple! Check out his other stuff as well, he's got plenty of good eats that are on my to-do list! :)

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup
adapted from Anne G.'s recipe at Recipezaar

3-4 chicken breasts, cut into pieces and cooked to "nearly done" (see note)
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups half-and-half
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 carrot, sliced
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper
16 ounces potato gnocchi, frozen
1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)

Saute the onion, celery, garlic, carrot in oil over medium heat until onion is translucent.
Add chicken, chicken stock, half and half, salt and pepper, thyme.
Heat to boiling, then add gnocchi. Gently boil for 4 minutes, then turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes.
Add spinach and cook for another 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted. (Heat to boiling and add cornstarch dissolved in 1-2 Tbsp water at this point if you want a thicker soup.)
Ladle into bowls and enjoy! (Original recipe says it serves 8-10, but I'd say around 4-6 depending on your household and how many boys in it that loooove food!)

Note: The original recipe called for the chicken to be already pre-cooked, but I feared it would be dried out and over cooked by the end of the soup making process. On medium-high heat I cooked my chicken until nearly done and set aside until the recipe called for me to plunk the suckers in! The results? Deliciously tender chicken!