Thursday, January 31, 2013

oatmeal cookie pies

This is an amazing recipe that I borrowed from Macaroni and Cheesecake, with only 2 minor adjustments. These turned out perfectly amazing, and I'm surprised there are any left today.
Super simple, you are basically making an oatmeal cookie, but leaving out additions like raisins or chocolate chips. Mix your flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt together in a small bowl. I use pumpkin pie spice because I seem to have no regular cinnamon  and I liked the allspice flavor it added, but use what you want. Using room temperature butter, cream with brown sugar and regular white sugar, add your eggs, honey and vanilla then flour mixture. Last, add in your oats. Super simple, just like any other oatmeal cookie. Be sure to chill this in the fridge for about 15 minutes- it makes it easier to roll in your hands later.
After your dough is chilled, create 1 inch balls with your hands and gently press onto parchment paper. This will help ensure that your cookies will be a uniform size and shape. Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for 8 minutes- just until the edges have turned dark brown. The insides will be soft, but this will set up. Let the cookies set on the tray, the transfer to a cool platter or cookie tray. Let cool completely.
While your cookies are cooling, start to make your marshmallow frosting. If you don't like this kind of frosting, you can use any variety you enjoy. In a double boiler over low simmering water, add your egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar. Stir constantly until your egg whites are super frothy and the sugar is completely dissolved. Then using a stand or hand mixer, whisk on high for several minutes, until the mix creates stiff peaks. To help this along, I added about a teaspoon of powdered sugar. When finished, gently fold in your vanilla.
Radar's always around somewhere in the kitchen while I'm cooking. At this point, if your cookies are completely cool, then frost a cookie with ample frosting and top with another cookie. I wrap mine individually in plastic wrap and then store in the fridge so the frosting stays set.

Oatmeal Cookie Pies
Mildly adapted from Macaroni and Cheesecake.
2 sticks room temperature butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp honey
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups quick cook oats

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar until well creamed. Add in eggs, vanilla and honey until combined. In another mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Add to your butter mixture until just combined. Add your oats. Chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Using your hands, form cookie dough into 1 inch balls and gently press onto parchment paper. Cook in oven for 8 minutes or until edges are dark brown. Let set on cookie tray then transfer to cookie tray and cool completely.

Marshmallow Frosting:
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp powdered sugar

In a double boiler over low simmering water, combine egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar. Whisk constantly until the eggs are very frothy and sugar is dissolved. Using a whisk attachment on a stand or hand mixer, blend on high for several minutes- until the eggs created stiff peaks. You can add powdered sugar to help this along. When ready, fold in vanilla.

When cookies are completely cool, frost one cookie and top with another cookie. Individually wrap and keep in a cool place.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

bacon carbonara

This could have been a meatless dish- well, minus the eggs. But, since everything is better with bacon, I went with it.
This is also not a super simple recipe. The sauce to make the carbonara very easily becomes scrambled eggs and parmesan cheese over spaghetti- this is a lesson I learned the first time I tried to make it. This time, I made sure that my eggs, half and half and parmesan cheese were all room temperature before I even began tempering my eggs.
The nice thing about this recipe is you can alter it in any way you'd like, although that's kind of the hallmark of Italian food- it's very versatile. This recipe, I chose to use bacon and peas which is very traditional, but you can use sliced brussel sprouts, chicken, different cheeses, etc. Start by adding your pasta to salted boiling water. Meanwhile, add your half and half, eggs, seasonings and cheese in a small bowl and stir until completely combined. When your pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1/2 a cup of pasta water for tempering your sauce and drain the rest.
And what's BACON carbonara without its namesake? This recipe calls for 1/2 lb, but use as much or as little as you'd like. Using 2 tablespoons of the reserved grease, saute the onion and garlic until translucent. This is when I add my pasta.
Toss your pasta in the bacon grease, onions and garlic and reduce the heat as low as possible. Start by adding the hot pasta water to your sauce, a little at a time just until the sauce is considerably warmer. Then, pour a little at a time over your pasta and stir. Cook for about 2 minutes to ensure your eggs are cooked through. Add your bacon and any extra cheese you may want. Add your peas at the last moment so you don't break them up when stirring. Serve immediately!
Bacon Carbonara
4 eggs
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup half and half
Red pepper flake
Salt and Pepper
Garlic powder
1/2 lb spaghetti
1/2 lb bacon
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup peas

Begin by adding pasta to boiling salted water. When ready to drain, reserve 1/2 cup hot pasta water. Cook bacon until crisp, drain on paper towel and crumble. Using 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease, cook your onion and garlic until translucent.
While the onions and garlic are cooking, mix eggs, cheese, half and half and spices until thoroughly combined in a small bowl. Add your drained pasta to your pan and toss to combine with the onions and garlic. Reduce heat to low. Using the reserved pasta water, warm up your sauce mixture until you feel comfortable adding it to the pasta. Add sauce to pasta and cook for 2 minutes so the eggs cook through. Add crumbled bacon, toss. Now add peas being careful not to break them. Serve immediately with extra cheese.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

3000 hits!!

We've reached 3000 hits!!! Beyond excited and looking forward to 3000 more! Like The Dog Mom on Facebook, and please, feel free to leave comments!!!

Thanks again,
From The Dog Mom!

fleas... ew.

It is GORGEOUS in Savannah today- 73, sunny and no humidity. Not to bad for January, I'd say. The green and brown anoles are running around and birds are flying everywhere. But with warm weather comes the un-fun side of Savannah warm weather and creatures- fire ants, cockroaches and... fleas. Always fleas.

Fleas are rampant in our area and no one is immune to them. When I was working with that local pet store, not a day went by that a customer didn't come in complaining about "never having fleas before" but now were inundated with the little nasties. And unfortunately by the time you realize that your pet has fleas, your home is almost sure to be filled with eggs and larvae that are not easy to get rid of.

Fleas live in grass and shrubbery (not to mention other cats and dogs) and wait for a living, warm blooded animal to walk by. Although wingless, these buggers can jump, and they will. Fleas feed on blood exclusively  and adult females can eat up to 15 times their weight in blood a day. In less than 21 days, 1 flea can lay over 1000 eggs. And while it only takes 21 days for a flea egg to develop, they can remain encased in their cocoon for up to 350 days to ensure survival. And since their mobile, treating your yard and home one day doesn't mean that it won't have fleas in it the next day.

For these reasons and more, it's essential to control fleas on your pets- and I mean all your pets. Infestations are uncomfortable, irritating and hazardous to the health of a pet- anemia, hot spots and tapeworms are common in dogs with fleas.

So what are you to do, right? If they're everywhere, multiply rapidly and are difficult to kill, what options are available? And what's more, if you want your pets to be as green and healthy as possible, what choices do you have when almost all flea remedies are comprised of harmful chemicals?

Lucky for me (and my babies) I've finally found the trifecta of flea remedies that seems to work almost flawlessly- and no chemicals. They break down like this:
1) Nourish "Don't Bug My Dog" Bar Soap
2) Wondercide Organic Pest Control
3) Springtime Inc. Bug Off Garlic

What's better is all of these products are available online, so I'll link each website to it's respective product.

Nourish "Don't Bug My Dog" bar soap sounds strange, I know. Made in Savannah, it's paraben free, soap free and smells AMAZING! Not only that, it made their fur soft, lasted a lot longer than traditional shampoo and lathered very well. And, it rinsed out easily, which is important for to the owner of a fluffy little corgi. The essential oils they use are natural flea repellents, as well as deodorizers and cleaners. And for $6, it's a steal.

Don't Bug My Dog Soap Ingredients:
Soponified organic coconut oil, rice bran oil, olive oil, avocado oil, shea butter, palma christi oil, jojoba oil, citronella, cedarwood, eucalyptus, lavender and lemongrass oils and lemongrass herb.

Wondercide is a company out of Austin, Texas that produces natural and organic pest control products based in cedar oil, another natural pest repellent. This stuff isn't exactly cheap (well, not as cheap as the 9.99 flea control outdoor treatments you can get at Lowe's) but it lasts quite a while- Ed and I have been using the same outdoor Lawn and Pet Spray for over a year now, and we use it once a month and after heavy rains. What's even better, the pet spray, Evolv, can be used in your home along baseboards, in cabinets and around door frames to help repel cockroaches (another daily evil of the South). The $80 price tag is definitely worth it, but don't worry- it's almost always on sale.

Wondercide Ingredients:
Cedarwood Oil
And finally, Bug Off Garlic from Cockyesville, Maryland. Garlic has been used for centuries as a natural insect repellent, and the good people at Springtime, Inc. have air dried it to be used as a pet supplement. This stuff is strong and lasts forever. All three of my dogs combined get just more than 1 scoop per day, and the scoop is teeny tiny. Not only does it repel fleas, but also ticks, gnats, mosquitoes and flies. For the $28 price tag, this supplement will last you for months.

I know some of you are wondering about giving your dog garlic- being worried about Heinz Body Anemia, a rare disease that has been linked to garlic and onion intake in dogs. Multiple studies done by the American Veterinary Journal have determined that toxicity is determined by intake- a 100 lb. dog would need to be fed over 4 lbs of raw garlic before reaching a toxicity level that would lead to Heinz Body Anemia. The likelihood of harming your pet with Bug Off Garlic is beyond slim.

Bug Off Garlic Ingredients:
All of these products combined have produced an anti-flea regiment that has been fail safe so far- which is amazing.

Monday, January 28, 2013

beer cheese soup

Beer, and cheese? AND bacon? Yes, please!

This is a pretty easy soup, and unlike most soups that need lots of cooking time to develop the flavors of the broth, this comes together in about 30 minutes. We served our soup with homemade pretzel rolls- but that's a recipe for another day. Any crusty bread will do just fine for sopping up the cheesy goodness.

This is the second batch of bacon I cut up for this recipe, the first making it's way into Nora Jone's mouth before I could get to her. That's what I get for leaving the kitchen for chapstick, I guess. In any case, I start off with the same yumminess that starts almost any delicious recipe. Bacon. Use as much or as little as you like, because this will be crumbled and sprinkled over the finished project.
Another great thing about this soup is the cheese and beer. A lot of beer cheese soups calls for extra sharp cheddar and light ales, but we don't drink light beer in this house. Instead, I opted for Yuenging Black and Tan, monterey jack and sharp cheddar but not extra sharp- I find it too bitey for a soup I plan to eat copious amounts of.
This soup doesn't have a ton of steps. Start by cooking a red bell pepper and a small onion in a small amount of the leftover bacon grease until translucent and then add 2 tablespoons butter, melt and then add 2 tablespoons of flour to make a rue. Cook that rue until it's a nutty brown color and add your beer. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, to burn off the alcohol. Add 1/2 cup half and half, 1/2 cup chicken stock and reduce heat to low. Add your cheese, one handful at a time, until all your cheese is incorporated. Be sure to stir constantly until completely smooth. At this point I taste and add seasonings accordingly- garlic powder, paprika and pepper. Serve immediately with crumbled bacon!
Beer Cheese Soup
5 slices of bacon
1 small onion, diced fine
1 red bell pepper, diced fine
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1 bottle of your favorite beer (light or dark)
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 oz. monterey jack cheese
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
Garlic Powder

Start by sauteing bacon until crisp. Set aside on paper towel to drain, crumble and reserve. Using leftover bacon grease, saute red bell pepper and onion until translucent. Add butter and melt. Add flour to create rue and cook on medium heat for 3 minutes, or until rue is nutty brown. Add beer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1/2 cup half and half, 1/2 cup chicken stock and heat through. Reduce heat to medium low and add cheese 1 handful at a time until completely combined and smooth. Season with paprika, garlic powder and pepper (or any of your favorite seasonings). Serve with crumbled bacon and crusty bread.

Note: I have seen recipes that use all chicken stock and no half and half if you want to go a little healthier with this. When reheating, be sure to use either half and half or chicken stock- this soup will get clumpy fast and will be clumpy if not heated with another liquid.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

buffalo turkey balls

We love wings! I know I've been saying "we love" things in almost every post, but seriously, we love wings. They are so delicious, deep fried and saucy. But, as you know, we are trying to eat more healthy, and deep fried, skin-on wings aren't exactly the best choice if we're working towards that goal. But it's hard to resist the thought of spicy buffalo sauce and creamy ranch. So I opted for this, and they seemed to be a hit- Ed ate all of his, at least, and I managed to hide a few for me to eat for lunch today.
The essential make up of these turkey balls is the same as any meatball- celery and onion, bread crumbs, eggs and ground meat. Turkey meat is even less expensive than ground beef in our local grocery store, and less greasy, so we usually go with the poultry. Everything else is fairly easy to round up, so nothing too complicated here; low fat cream cheese, ranch dressing (as healthy as we want to be, I can't stand lite ranch), low fat blue cheese crumbles, butter and your favorite hot sauce (we love Frank's).
Start by preheating your oven to 350º. Then, finely mince a small onion (we use Vidailas, since Vidalia, Georgia is so nearby) and 2 ribs of celery. Then add 1 egg, a palm full of breadcrumbs, and mix until combined.
Next, add a palm full of low fat blue cheese crumbles and 2 ounces of softened low fat cream cheese. If you forgot to take the cream cheese out of the fridge ahead of time to soften (like I did), 15 seconds in the microwave will do the trick. Mix to combine, and then add your ground turkey. Mix, and then form the mixture into 1 inch balls and place onto a cooking tray.
Again, I use a Pampered Chef cooking stone that's been well seasoned, so I don't use cooking spray or aluminum foil. However, these puppies WILL stick to your pan, so either well grease your tray or grease your aluminum foil. These balls will not feel like a regular meat ball. Not only does the cream cheese add a little more moisture than a regular meatball will have, but ground turkey has a tendency to liquefy slightly when handled because of the higher moisture content. Seriously, they feel gross and your hands will be covered in mixture. Be sure you wash your hands in soap and hot water then pop your meatballs into the preheated oven for about 15 minutes- until the balls look slightly solidified and firm.
Meanwhile in a small saucepan, combine about 8 oz. of your hot sauce and half a stick of butter until melted. If you like your wings spicier, you can adjust the ration to be more hot sauce than butter, and vice versa. The 8 oz hot sauce to half stick of butter ratio will give you a mild flavor.
Next, using a basting brush (or spoon) baste the meatballs with the sauce. Or, if you're lazy like me, pour the hot sauce over the meatballs and continue cooking for 10 minutes more. Total cook time should be right around 25- 30 minutes. This will depend on the size of your meatballs more than anything.
They're not exactly pretty when they come out of the oven, but man, do they smell awesome. Since this meal consisted of a decent amount of cheese and butter, I chose to serve carrots and celery as a side. Besides, who eats wings without celery? Drizzle the turkey balls with ranch, and you've got yourself a craving quenching delight!
Buffalo Turkey Meatballs
1 lb ground turkey
2 ribs celery
1 small onion
1 egg
Palm full bread crumbs
2 oz. softened low fat cream cheese
Palm full low fat blue cheese crumbles
1/2 stick butter
8 oz. hot sauce (we use Frank's)
Ranch dressing

Preheat oven to 350º. Then, finely mince onion and celery and combine with egg, bread crumbs, blue cheese crumbles, softened cream cheese and ground turkey. Form into 1 inch balls and place on greased cooking tray. Cook for 15 minutes. While turkey balls are cooking, melt butter and hot sauce together in a small cooking pot. When balls are firm to the touch, baste (or pour) hot sauce mixture over them and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes until cooked through. Serve with drizzle of ranch dressing.

Friday, January 25, 2013

pepperoni chips

Pepperoni is a complete invention of Americans. In Italian, pepperoni means "large pepper", like a bell pepper, but there is no dried cured sausage like this fine grind, spicy meat in Italy. Pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in the United States, and it's not even a close race. And while I'd like to eat pizza every time I have a craving for it, I'd probably wouldn't get much done. And none of my pants would fit anymore. Ed and I are always questing for new, yummy snacks and pepperoni chips are a double whammy of craving quenching and low carb deliciousness. 
This recipe is beyond simple. Which is a good thing, because they disappeared fast. The cast of players is simple as well- pepperoni. That's it! I chose to use turkey pepperoni for this batch. Most grocery stores carry turkey alternatives these days- these were hung up right next to the other pepperoni.
Now when I say this recipe is simple, it's no more difficult than turning the oven on, putting the pepperoni on a cooking tray and popping them in the oven.
Preheat your oven to 350º. Line up your pepperoni on the cooking tray in a single layer and pop into the oven. If you use regular pepperoni, be sure to use a cooking tray with edges so that any grease lost doesn't run into your oven. These cook really quickly- only about 8-10 minutes. Again, I use the smell method. As soon as I can smell the pepperoni, I do my first check. When they are visibly darker, smaller and crispy, you know they're done. If you want them a little crispier, leave them in for a minute longer, but remember- these will burn in a flash. 
As you can see, these little puppies LOOK crispy, and that's how I knew to remove them from the oven. There's only one step more, and it's fairly important. Using a paper towel, blot off the excess grease that's cooked out of the pepperoni. If you don't do this, the oil will reabsorb and make them a little chewier and not as crispy. They're good hot (I know, because I ate a lot of them) and they're also good at room temperature. 
WARNING: You might as well buy 2 packages of pepperoni to start with, or you'll be making a trip back to the grocery store quicker than you expected. THESE ARE ADDICTIVE.

Pepperoni Chips
1 package turkey pepperoni

Preheat oven to 350º. Line pepperoni up in a single layer on a cooking tray with edges. Cook in oven for 8-10 minutes. Make sure to be vigilant against burning. Remove from oven when pepperoni looks visibly smaller, richer in color and crispy. Blot with paper towel. Store in ziplock bag to retain crunch.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

feed this, not that: episode 1

Before my life as an accidental stay at home Dog Mom, I worked at a premium pet food store in the Savannah area. I'm not going to name any names, but let's just say that the end of my position in the company didn't come on my terms and it had more to do with a conflict in core values than my abilities. I've been on the job hunt for a while now, but I've continued to help friends and family (and even some former co-workers) to determine what's best for their fur babies, as well as pointing out pet food industry recalls, new research, and new products.
Part of the goal of this blog is to help bring further to light what really happens beyond that bag of dog food- not only if it's a good food or a bad food, but what actually goes into the product, where it comes from, WHY it's good or bad, and what's the value for what you're going to spend. Let's face it, not everyone can spend $98 for a 24 lb bag of Addiction Kangaroo and Apple dog food. I compile most of the information about different kinds of both wet and dry dog food from 2 sources: the manufacturer's webpage and From there, I do the ultimate test- we see if dogs like it. And not just any dogs- but my dogs. And one particularly picky pup is Radar, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. If it makes it into his mouth, then I know that it must be tasty.
When I was still working for that company, I was given A LOT of dog food to try- this is a way that manufacturer's try to get their product into stores. But, one food has always been popular in this house and it's a food that I began feeding after we got Link. Before Link, Radar had been raised on Blue Buffalo Life Protection dog food, and we did well on it.  However, after Link came along, his tiny little belly was too fickle to eat the very rich food that Blue Buffalo makes, so we had to find another alternative. At that time, we switched to Nature's Recipe dog food.
Nature's Recipe is produced by the Del Monte Company based out of San Francisco, California.  And no, you're eyes are not mistaken. The Del Monte Company IS the company responsible for those little fruit cups your Mom used to pack in your lunch box. Something you learn very early on in the pet food industry is that there are very, very, very few independent companies, and most of them get bought out early on if their product is popular. Del Monte produces this particular line of it's food at it's company owned Lawrence, Kansas plant. This plant also produced Kibbles and Bits. The canned variety of Nature'd Recipe is produced in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania (go Huskies!!) along with 9 Lives, Kibbles and Bits, Gravy Train and Skippy, as well as the Wal-Mart owned brands Special Kitty and Ol' Roy. This probably also needs verification- there are only a few processing plants in the US that produce dog food so many times you find premium pet food being made alongside base dog foods, cat food, etc. Because of the limited number of plants, you'll also find that one company will own the facility and oversee the production of several other brands.
Anyway, onto the food itself. Nature's Recipe offers 3 different lines, what they refer to as "lifestage recipes , "special needs" and "ultra premium". These lines then break down further into "flavors" like venison, catfish, chicken, lamb and vegetarian as well as breed sizes, grain free and one specialty line called Farmstand Select that feature bits of dried fruits and vegetables. We're currently eating the Adult Lamb Meal and Rice Recipe  so I'll be basing my review on that "flavor".
The first ingredient on the back panel is Lamb Meal, a source of protein that is essentially concentrated lamb meat. Some companies debase meal as an evil of the pet food industry, but the inclusion of lamb meal in this product ensures us that most of the protein level is based in actual meat and not protein rich filler like soy. Meals generally contain around 300% more protein than fresh meat. What's more, this is a "named" meal source, meaning it's not a mystery meat. Many bottom barrel pet foods will list Meat Meal as a protein  and this meat can come from ANY source- the FDA does not require pet foods to specify what is exactly in these ingredients. The next ingredient is oatmeal, a gluten free dietary fiber. Following that is barley, another dietary fiber, but also one that is great for dogs with blood sugar issues, since barley is low on the glycemic index. Following are rice, poultry fat (believe me, this is a good additive!) and fresh chicken.
From there, the other ingredients comprise only a small percentage of the actual composition of the kibble. However, some ingredients may be highlighted, such as tomato pomace. This is a controversial ingredient in that proponents of tomato pomace claim that it is a throw-a-way additive from the production of things like ketchup. However, tomato pomace contains Vitamin C, Vitamin A and is high in fiber, making it a popular ingredient in pet food. Also listed is brewer's yeast, a popular supplement in the ongoing fight against fleas. While brewer's yeast may cause allergies in dogs with actual yeast allergies, the ingredient is also full of vitamins and minerals.
This food reigns supreme in our home. Not only is the kibble a good size for all three of our pups (ranging from 19 lbs to 48 lbs), a 30 lb bag lasts us for an entire month. What's more, the 30 lb bag is under $40 at PetSmart AND it goes on sale constantly (It's currently on sale for only $35.99). While the venison, catfish, Farmstand Selects and Grain Free varieties will cost you a little more, it's always nice to switch up your "flavor" to keep them interested, and to introduce different amino acids into their diets. After we've completed the bag of lamb, we're moving on to chicken here.
Nora Jones doesn't really care, as long as she gets to eat it.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

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prosciutto and goat cheese pizza with baby arugula

We do a lot of cooking in this house. I mean, a lot. We have date night once a week, and every other day is 2 meals worth of cooking, cleaning up, doing dishes and chowing down together at home. That being said, Ed is a carnivore. I'm perfectly happy eating vegetarian meals, but I've seen Ed's eyes quickly scan the plate doing a mental meat to vegetable ratio. However, recent weight gain and rampant heartburn has finally convinced us to get healthy. That's not to say that we're going to give up cheese, bacon, potatoes or pasta anytime soon but we will be cutting back on meat, adding more fruit and vegetables to our diet and being more conscious of what we put into our bodies. Easing into this transition, I think, will be the key to whether or not this sticks with us, so I started with pizza. 
We love pizza in this house. It's easy, yummy, satisfies so many cravings all at once and there's almost always leftovers. We normally go with the classics- pepperoni, Hawaiian and the like. This time, I've branched out and tweaked a recipe I saw on TV a few weeks ago. Here's the starting line-up:
I usually cheat on the dough. I know homemade dough is awesome, and that it's even better days later in the fridge, but I'm impatient and don't want to go through the hassle of waiting for dough to proof, re-proof and all that. So instead, I usually go with fresh, raw dough that's available in the bakery section of most grocery stores- I find it all the more delicious because it's so hassle free. I chose prosciutto crudo for this pizza over prosciutto de parma, solely based on price. Starring alongside the cured ham are crumbled goat cheese, shredded Italian cheese blend, grated parmesan and baby arugula.
I usually crank my oven to 450° and let it preheat for as long as possible. As much as I make pizza, I have yet to get up the courage to start tossing the dough. I use the hand stretched method, along with a floured rolling pin to shape my dough. This is a sauce-less pizza, so I substitute red sauce for a very light brushing of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. I usually go for a cheese, meat, cheese approach, and this pie is no different. I used considerably less cheese on this pie than I usually go with, using only about 6 oz. of shredded cheese rather than the entire 12 oz. package. Then using your hands, just gently tear apart the prosciutto and distribute. Sprinkle with about 2 oz. of goat cheese, a small amount of the shredded cheese and pop in the oven.
Cooking time is short- maybe 10 minutes at the most. I use the smell method. As soon as I can smell the dough cooking in the oven, I do my first check. Keep on eye on it from there, but try not to open the oven if you can. (The oven in our rental is ancient- it doesn't even have an oven light, so this is especially a pain for me). 
From here, there are only 2 more steps. Liberally top the pizza with the baby arugula- and don't be afraid. Baby arugula isn't quite as peppery and bitey as its adult counterpart. Then, dust with a palm full of grated parmesan, and you're ready to chow down!
The pizza was seriously delish, and so simple to make. Ed looked skeptical at first, but after his first bite, the slices seemed to disappear. And I have 2 slices for each of us today for lunch leftovers, so that's always a bonus!

Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Pizza with Baby Arugula
1 lb. raw, fresh pizza dough
6 oz. shredded Italian blend cheese
4 oz. baby arugula
4 oz. prosciutto crudo
2 oz. crumbed goat cheese
Drizzle olive oil
Garlic, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan, to taste

Preheat oven to 450°. Stretch dough to fit whatever flat edged pan you have available. Drizzle olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper over raw dough. Add half of the shredded Italian cheese, all of the torn prosciutto crudo and goat cheese. Then add remainder of shredded cheese and put into the oven. Cook at 450° for 8-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and dough is crunchy. Top with baby arugula and parmesan. Serve hot!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

an unexpected journey

The inaugural post. We won't get too complicated with this one, but we'll start with a little background. In 2008, I graduated from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in History. I immediately adopted my first dog, Radar. A Pembroke Welsh Corgi, he became the center of my life, more famous than myself, and arguably the favorite member of the family. Adopting Radar really began my interest in modern canine nutrition; I only wanted the best for him so we could have the longest life together possible. I traveled onto Graduate School in Shippensburg, PA to pursue a degree in Public History (a.k.a. Museum Studies). While there, I worked for PetSmart as a Pet Care Specialist and furthered my interest in canine nutrition. Just before graduating, I met a man in a bar named Ed. Long story short, we've been together for 3 and 1/2 years, and just last week, he asked me to be his wife.
Not too long after meeting, we moved in together and adopted our second dog, Link. His background was basically a guessing game until I was given a free canine DNA test. Although we loved him no matter what his breed, we decided to settle the bet once and for all. His genetic make-up is Dachshund, Samoyed, Basset Hound, Mini Poodle and Retriever. As you can guess, he's a complicated little fellow that's standoffish at first, but has more love in his little brutish body than seems possible.
In 2011, we decided we couldn't handle the Northern climate any longer and made the decision to migrate to the South. We visited Savannah, Georgia on vacation and had immediately fell in love. Ed took a position managing a retail store, and I took a job managing a premium pet food store. It was there that our final family member made her appearance. One particularly busy afternoon, a woman came in with a puppy that she had found wandering the Southside of town with cuts and wounds all over her small body. We made the decision to foster her and find her a new home, and needless to say, she's never left. Nora is now a healthy and rambunctious pitbull hound mix that terrorizes and loves on our boys.
I no longer work at that pet food store, and spend most of my time looking for a new career path, keeping our home, cooking for two and researching how to further enrich the life of our fur babies. My life has taken quite a turn from where I expected it to go, but I couldn't be happier. Our little family is complete for now, and we are prepping for our biggest year yet. We're looking forward to see where it goes...