Monday, October 29, 2012

Introducing the Newbie - Rosy!

So I have some big news...this weekend I picked up a new addition to the family!  A 2 year-old female pug named Rosy!  I've actually been looking for another female pug for almost a year but have had bad luck and some disappointments.  The young ones go fast!  And I really wanted to get a young one so that there's a slight age gap with Sunny.  I stalked the local pug rescue's website and Petfinder every day and found Rosy at a rescue a few hours away.  I knew she was the one and a few days later I was making plans to drive over and pick her up and welcome her to my home!

Rosy is itty bitty!  And she's super fit and lean.  I'm hoping I can keep her that way but then again, look at Sunny and all her rolls.  Sigh, I'll try real hard!

Anyways, Sunny liked Rosy at first until she realized that Rosy was here to stay.  Then she acted really sad and distant.  But now she's getting more comfortable with Rosy and I'm hoping they'll be best of friends soon!  Rosy is obsessed with me and I love it although I don't love how she cries and scratches at the door when I leave.  I do love how she whines and stares at me as I shower.  She sticks her face in the tiny gap in between the shower and the shower curtain blinking as the water mists into her face.  And anytime I look at her, her lil tail goes into helicopter mode.  I'm looking forward to having two pugs (been my dream since I was a kid to have multiple pugs!) and will be sure to update regularly on the developments going on here with Sunny and Rosy (the bright parts of my days!)

And without further ado, here are some photos of Rosy and Sunny!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Carb Loading!

One of the great things about preparing for a race (no, it's not the running) is the carb loading!  I tried to increase the carbs in my diet the week before the race and enjoyed every bite of it!

The first dish here is the soba noodle soup with shiitake mushrooms recipe from Six O'Clock Scramble.  I added some shredded chicken and some Korean red peppers to the bowl.  Delicious!
Mmm, I love soba and shiitake mushrooms, so this recipe was awesome!
Poor, sad, fat pug.
 Sunny wants to know if I will share with her.
I also made a yummy breakfast for dinner kind of meal.  I got this Turkey Sausage, Mushroom, and Potato Gratin Recipe from MyRecipes.  I used Trader Joe's chicken jalapeno sausage for this and added some rosemary.  I also didn't add the cheese until after I uncovered the pan for the last 15 minutes.
It tastes better than it looks here!  It kinda reminds me of Thanksgiving stuffing.  I think it's the broth and onions?
As I was taking photos of my food I noticed a little lurker.
Aw look at that lil begging face and head tilt!
Sorry buddy.  None for you!
And lastly, I made Six O'Clock Scramble's rotini with sundried tomatoes and goat cheese.  Excuse the messy stovetop.
This was soooo yummy and carby!  I usually like to add some kind of protein to all my pasta dishes but I was making this for my last few dinners and so was fine with the heavy carb content of this.
Aw Sunny's tail is down because she's so sad!
 Oh and I also made some of the Trader Joe's pumpkin pancakes - yum!
And I am obsessed with this Trader Joe's sea salt crystal grinder.  I have been putting it on everything!  So deliciously salty and with a nice sized crystal.  I find sea salt too big normally but this grinder is genius!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Banana Coconut Donuts (Baked, Not Fried)

So as part of my recent baking frenzy I decided to combine two things I love - coconut and donuts!
I used this Baked Banana Donuts Recipe, but added toasted coconut inside the pan and on top.  I also only recently discovered the ease of toasting coconut in a pan on the stove.  Duh, why didn't I think of this earlier?!  It's so much easier than having to open the oven and get a wave of heat in your face as you stir the coconut.  

These tasted more healthy and muffin-like than donut-like.  All the banana donut recipes I found online were healthier donut versions.  Still very yummy but I don't think I would've enjoyed it as much without the coconut.  Coconut makes so many things taste better!
At least I didn't feel as guilty eating a ton of these as I did when I ate a ton of buttery madeleines!
My baking frenzy has since ended but I imagine it'll pick up again soon.  I bake in spurts and have a lot of them during the holidays!

Pumpkin Madeleines

I was on a huge madeleine kick recently and used my recently purchased madeleine pans to make some pumpkin ones.  I get pumpkin obsessed when fall comes around!
I used this Chocolate-Dipped Pumpkin Spice Madeleines Recipe, but I didn't do the chocolate dipping although I imagine that would be delicious!  The recipe at the link says to whisk the dry ingredients into the wet, but don't!  Madeleines need to have the dry ingredients (and later the butter) folded into the batter.  This is what makes madeleines so delightfully airy and fluffy.
Sadly the pumpkin madeleines don't get humps like the traditional ones.  I've made this a couple times and haven't been able to get as good a hump as I do with the coconut ones I've made.  But these are still absolutely delicious!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Coconut Madeleines - Yum!

Darn you Pinterest and your tempting dessert pins!  I recently got obsessed with Madeleines, thanks to Pinterest, and after some extensive internet research decided to buy some madeleine pans and make some tasty treats.  Sunny approves.
While most madeleien recipes are the traditional lemon based ones, I decided to do a coconut version since I loooove all things coconut.  I used David Lebovitz's Madeleines Recipe as the base but didn't include the lemon and instead added a teaspoon of vanilla and about 1/4-1/3 cup of shredded coconut.  There are a lot of recipes out there for madeleines and I've found that making yummy and humpy madeleines requires a few basic rules:
  • Yes, you need a madeleine pan.  But madeleines are essentially just mini cakes so you can always use a different pan if all you want is the buttery cake goodness.  But the larger the pan the less you'll get that beautiful ratio of spongy inner cake and slightly crispy outer cake. 
  • Some recipes I saw online just called for stirring in the ingredients.  No.  You need to whisk the egg, sugar, and wet ingredients until it's nice and foamy (about 5 minutes).  And you then fold in the dry ingredients slowly.  It takes patience, but don't stir at this point because you need the folding to make the cake fluffy and airy.  You also have to fold in the melted butter.  
  • The dough has to be rested and chilled for at least an hour, preferably a bit longer.  The cold dough helps make the coveted hump and the resting helps.  The resting is also required so that the gluten has time to relax and air bubbles can work their way out.
  • Buttering and flouring the pans helps.  I have nonstick pans but when I didn't butter and lightly flour the pan it browned unevenly.  
  • Chilling the pan both before and after filling it with the batter helps to create the hump.  The hump is created by the cold pan and cold batter getting hit quickly by the high heat in the oven. 
  • Spoon approximate amounts of batter into the molds and don't spread it.  Just leave it plopped in the middle.  It'll even out.

Ok, so those are the few things I realized as I've made a few batches of madeleines.  So onto the coconut madeleines!  I kept the oven light on so that I could see them bake.  Since it's such a short baking time (especially for the mini madeleine pans, which are what I got - approximately 8-12 minutes for those), I didn't want to risk overbaking them.  It was fun watching the humps rise!
Finally, they were done!  You know they're done when the edges are lightly browned and when the cake rises back up after a gentle press.  I had one madeleine on the edge that acted as my tester.  It got all misshapen from my early and eager finger pushing but as soon as I saw the cake bounce back up I knew it was ready!  Look at my lovely humps (hehe)!
The pug knew something was up.
These suckers popped out nice and easy thanks to the light buttering and flouring of the pans.
Sunny looks so sad here.  She hates it when I spend a lot of time cooking/baking, especially since she has to smell all these yummy foods and doesn't get a taste!
Again, look at my hump!
 And then I arranged them all nice and pretty on my plate.  Of course a few ended up in my belly while I was arranging them.
Poor Sunny didn't get any madeleines.
I love you buttery, coconut madeleine.
Nom, nom nom!
 Sorry Sunny, you can't eat any madeleines, but here's one as a hat!
Nothing's better than noshing on some yummy madeleines on the couch, with a lil pug on your lap.

Pumpkin Donuts (Baked, Not Fried)

In my recent baking frenzy I also purchased some donut pans.  Again, darn you Pinterest!  I never thought about how I could bake donuts and not fry them.  Yes, they're more cakey or muffiny in texture but so much healthier!  I got mini donut pans since they're so cute and I was hoping it might help with portion control (hah! No, instead I just eat more of them).
I used this Petite Pumpkin Spice Donuts Recipe, but instead of the various spices I used 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice.  I also didn't do the coating and instead just did a cinnamon sugar powdering.  They're also really good plain.
Mmmm, these taste just like pumpkin pie!  They're really yummy but I also realized that while I love pumpkin pie, I love it with whipped cream so these donuts didn't taste complete to me.  Maybe the coating in the recipe would've helped.
These definitely taste like fall!
Man I'm so mean.  Why did I bring the plate over and put it right in front of Sunny's face?  For this photo of course!  Don't worry, Sunny got a treat afterwards.  Just not a donut.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October 2012 BarkBox

I've been hearing great things about Barkbox, a monthly subscription service for your dog, and of course had to give it a try!  You can't do a month-to-month subscription, and instead have to sign up for a 1-month, 3-month, or 6-month plan.  The one month box is $25 but the price per box gets smaller the longer your subscription.  It's a bit more than my own monthly subscription boxes, but when I looked at the boxes from previous months they're always filled with several full-sized products and contain a nice variety of fun things.  The site says that they require the longer subscription plans in order to get the lower prices for the products they provide in the boxes.  

Anyways our first box arrived today and I think I was more excited than Sunny to open it up!  Although she stayed close by while I opened the box so I think she was excited too!
The box has the cutest little dog comic on it.
The box contained a variety of fun things, but unfortunately Sunny doesn't play with toys much (she really just sucks on her berber stuffies) so this box didn't have as much that we could use.  However, I will be keeping them for a potential little sister that I'm hoping to bring home to Sunny next weekend (like how I just nonchalantly drop that bombshell into this review post?).  My sister also has three playful pups and so I'm sure they'd appreciate any freebie toys I give them.

Each box always contains a great description of the items inside.  I love these cards - so helpful and informative.  They provide the sites where you can buy more of the items if you like them!
I eagerly tore into the box to see what goodies were inside!  Sunny patiently waited.
 Tada!  I LOVE the mustache ball (when the dog holds the ball in his/her mouth, it looks like they have a mustache!), but sadly Sunny doesn't fetch or pick up balls.  Her mouth only holds delicious treats or soft berber stuffies.  Darn.  I would've loved it if she'd liked it!

While the Lollycadoodle wool ball is soft, again Sunny doesn't fetch or play with balls.  Sadness.  I wish there'd been a bit of variety in the kind of toys in this box.  I think the box for big dogs contained a wool animal toy which Sunny probably would've liked better.

I am excited to try the Tropiclean breath spray but this is definitely something Sunny will not be thrilled with.

The Metro Paws poopy packs will definitely get good use from us and they're so cute it's almost a shame to use them to pick up poop!

I've never shopped at Wag, but I'll definitely be checking it out with the coupon.

And finally, Sunny's favorite part of the box were the Feelgood Treat Company treats!  These are handmade in Canada from all natural and organic ingredients and are wheat, gluten, and preservative-free.  They do have flour in them.  I usually feed Sunny just baby carrots or jerky treats for her snacks so I'm unsure what to do with these treats in the long run.  I definitely gave Sunny a sniff and a try though and she LOVED them!
All in all it was a great box in general but not great for Sunny since she doesn't play with toys much.  I can't wait to see what's in the next Barkbox!