Who’s a good boy?

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It’s the holiday season, and lucky me, I just finished reading The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Ok! Confession… the recipe came before the book on this one! I’ve been wanting to make homemade dog biscuits for some time… but in all fairness this book has been on my “to read” list forever! I’ve heard so many good things about Stein’s bestseller, and it certainly did not disappoint.

Anyone who knows me, would likely attest that I’m a “dog-person”. In fact, I’m sure my closest friends would argue that dog-person does not insinuate the amount of love I feel for man’s best friend. I spend more time than I’d care to admit researching adoptables on petfinder, perusing puppy videos (this one will forever be my favorite), checking out monthly vine compilations (don’t judge, just get hooked too) and showing every new person I meet my favorite new dogs’ instagram page (c’mon, Reese Lightning? goodness).cookie 5 (1 of 1)

So, The Art of Racing in the Rain, which is told in the first person through the eyes of a family dog, made my top 10 list of favorite books before I even cracked the spine. But then made its way to my top 3 by the last chapter. Stein does a phenomenal job of reminding us all why we should be skeptical of people who don’t love dogs. His protagonist, Enzo, a philosophizing, cinephile mutt is lovable, comical and just downright sensible. He believes he will be reincarnated as a human, something he spends a great deal of time fantasizing about. The novel reminds us all of the beauties in life that we might be missing while we busy ourselves with our opposable thumbs. It also puts to shame the thought that a dog’s inner dialogue is nothing more than “Kibbles and Bits”. I cannot praise the beauty of Stein’s words enough. The cathartic ache in my heart when I finished reading reminds me of the first time I read to Kill a Mockingbird, where your brain stops and thinks, “how did I never think like this before?”. So trust me, even if you might side with cats (weird), this book will not disappoint.

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Seeing as it’s the holiday season, I decided to whip up a batch of tasty treats for my favorite four legged friend: Mr. Charlie Pants. I wasn’t sure he would enjoy these very healthy and easy treats, but honestly he is going crazy for them. So! why not make these for your favorite pup and show him some love this Christmas season. In fact, I bet Santa wouldn’t mind if you left him a few.

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The Art of Baking for your Can(ine)

  • 1 cup of grated carrots (about 2 medium sized carrots)
  • 1/2 cup organic chicken broth
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup ground oats
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large sweet potato (cubed, boiled until soft and cooled)

In a large bowl mash the sweet potato and egg, until smooth. Add the chicken broth. In a second bowl combine the oats and whole wheat flour. Next add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, slowly, stirring to combine throughout. Preheat your oven to 400 F. Evenly flour a surface and roll out the dough (it helps to cool it slightly – in the fridge for about an hour!).

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Use whatever cookie cutters you’ve got to cut out the cookies, or using a knife cut the cookies into squares. I got about 30 medium sized cookies out of this recipe.  Bake on the middle rack for 15 minutes, flipping once during cooking. Remove, let cool, get your dog a beggin’.

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Like a tall glass of slaughter…

sociopath 1I’ve been a little engrossed lately with murder.  Let me qualify that, murder and false pretenses. I finished reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It had me enthralled to the last page. Predictable? Maybe. Nonetheless it was a refreshingly quick and fun read. I’ve also been obsessing over The Serial. MAN OH MAN. If you haven’t been completely consumed by this podcast yet, do yourself a favor and head over here to listen. AND if you have been listening… what’s the deal with Jay ?

So, in the spirit of a good murder mystery, I’ve decided to make a truly deceitful but devilishly delicious cocktail. This drink packs a mean punch, but you’d never know it! It’s sweet and bubbly, but with enough booze to leave even a professional drinker a wee bit tipsy. She’s a lying, two-faced, charmer of a drink.  I know I’m probably the last person to have read Gone Girl, but in an attempt to not share any spoilers I’ll leave it at this… this cocktail is the sociopaths of all cocktails.

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Like a good murder, this drink requires some planning and a bit of devotion. It starts with making bourbon soaked berries, they are the real star in this recipe. Picture grown up maraschino cherries (that are actually blueberries)….

Bourbon Soaked Blueberries

In a glass jar combine the following:

  • 3 oz. kentucky bourbon
  • 2 oz. simple syrup (try this easy recipe if you’re new to the cocktail scene!)
  • 1 cup blueberries

Ensure the blueberries are completely submerged. If they aren’t add a splash more syrup and bourbon. Give the jar a good shake and place it in the fridge to let those berries absorb that bourbon goodness. Let them soak a minimum of 2 days (giving the jar a shake whenever you think about it) and up to a week.

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For the Cocktail you will need:

  • Bourbon soaked blueberries
  • Cassis Liquor
  • Prosecco (or other dry sparkling champagne or wine)
  • Lemon
  • Ice

In a Shaker add 2 heaping tbsp of bourbon soaked blueberries, a squeeze of lemon and about 1 oz of the blueberry liquid. Smash the blueberries using a muddler, and if you don’t own one of those use the back of a spoon, wrench, candlestick… whatever you’ve got. Add 2 oz. of Cassis liquor. Fill the shaker with ice and shake well. Pour the mixed cocktail evenly into 2 cocktail saucers or flutes. Top with champagne and a lemon peel garnish.

Sweet Sweet Murder Cocktail.

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Black Bean and Beetnik Brownies

intro (1 of 1)I just finished reading Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon. It was hard. Not in a conventional over exert your brain because the words are so big and pretentious type hard, but in a “I have no idea what’s happening” way. This book is a psychedelic ride through a drug-addled detective’s gig to find his ex-girlfriend and her lover, while uncovering multiple layers of shady business and shady characters.

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In Vice’s defense, my challenges getting through this book may have been perpetually increased by the fact that winter is upon us here in Toronto. Some of my anger was  unduly projected onto the characters, who spend their time following clues amongst surfers and girls in bikinis in downtown LA.  While I found this book very difficult to follow, I suppose that is sort of its beauty. The entire book is like one long paranoid drug trip. Like a never ending ‘shroom induced word vomit. Imagine Raymond Chandler and Kurt Vonnegut had a baby, who they raised only on Peyote and Jefferson Airplane. That is inherent vice.

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The protagonist of this novel, Doc, a well-known PI spends the majority of his time smoking dope and having “hiippiephanies”. So in his honor I’m making black bean brownies … man. With an extra ingredient. BEETS – to add a little psychedelic flare. These brownies are super gooey, but super healthy. Vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free. But despite their very healthy ingredients these brownies are deliciously satisfying. Satisfying enough to cure any case of the munchies.hippie (1 of 1)

Blackbean and Beetnit Brownies

Step 1 – Head over to Songza, start this serious psychedelic mix, prepare for deliciousness to ensue.

 

  • 1 large beet (peeled, cubed and steamed until soft) – about 1 cup worthfrost
  • 1 can black beans (rinsed and drained well)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite liquid sweetener – I used maple syrup
  • 1 flax (or chia) egg
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.
To make the chia or flax egg, mix 1tbsp ground flax or ground chia with 3 tbsp warm water. Mix well and let sit for 5 minutes.

In a blender or food processor mix all ingredients except chocolate chips. Blend thoroughly (about 3 minutes on high).

Stir in chopped dark chocolate.
Line a 9”x9” baking sheet with parchment paper or coat with coconut oil. Pour the mixture into the pan and make sure it is spread evenly. Bake for 50 minutes, rotating the pan once throughout cooking.brownies background1 (1 of 1)

Remove brownies and let cool – then place then in an airtight container and let them chill in the fridge for 1 hour to help firm them up. These brownies are super gooey so they will not look cooked all the way through (the middle might still jiggle) but they will harden up in the fridge.
Creamy Avocado and Date icing:

Blend the following:

  • 1/3 cup semi-soft pitted Medjool dates (if your dates do not feel soft soak them in warm water for 30 minutes and drain before adding them to the blender)
  • 1/4 cup liquid sweeter (I used agave)
  • 1/2 cup ripe avocado ( about 1 regular avocado)
  • 1/3 cup cacao powder or 1/3 cup melted dark chocolate

Top brownies with your favorite ingredients – pears, raspberries, coconut. Groovy Man.

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