Drooling for DIN-DIN

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drooling for dinner

drooling for din din!

Like clockwork, come 5:00 p.m. the pooches are in pursuit of prying Malcolm away from watching the news to feed them their chow.  They arrive first for a gentle rub, a few scratches around the ear, a pat on the belly.  A sweet, loving reminder to be fed.  If they timed it right, it will be a commercial break, a good time to fill their dog bowls.  If that doesn’t work, they try nudging Malcolm’s elbow, hoping to displace some prized Coke-a-cola poured over shaved ice onto his pants, forcing him to arise to clean up the spilled sticky mess.  Once up, it’s usually a given they’ll be served dinner….

Hopefully.

If the spill-the-coke-on-pants trick doesn’t get a surge out of Malcolm, they move into their next plan-of-attack:  sumo wrestling.  Body slams, shoulder pins, ear grabs, all played within close range of the china cabinet.  You can hear the crystal rattle as the dogs roll under the dining room table, often hitting the cabinet leg.  Uncaring that family heirlooms might break, they tackle each other in their quest to win dominance over the other.  At this point, Malcolm is speeding through the house to halt any further damage and put some food in their bellies to calm the battle…

Usually.

As last resort, and Malcolm still needs prompting, Amore does her race through the house routine, landing on all fours, she slides on the hall rug, getting a free ride into the living room.  Weeeeee, look at meeeee!  Crash!  She resembles a surfer dude riding a big wave.  Dolce has now entered into the melee, barking at Amore, she scares Gordita, our fat cat, into using Malcolm’s leg as a spring-board, claws digging into his thigh to gain purchase as she continues to leap over his shoulder towards a safe haven.  Yep, this will get them their kibbles….

Finally!

Malcolm has 5 minutes to hide the destruction before I arrive home from work.  Dinner just might be late….

Naturally.

PORK & PORT

Try this sauce with beef tenderloin as well!

  • 2 boneless pork  tenderloin, approximately 1 lb. each
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 cups port wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6-8 oz. Stilton cheese

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add pork, browning on all sides.  Transfer pork to a covered roasting pan.

Deglaze skillet with port and reduce by half.  Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Pour over pork and bake at 450 degrees until done, approximately 15 minutes.  Remove pork and keep warm.  Reduce liquid by half and slowly stir in cream.  Cook over medium heat until sauce thickens.  Add Stilton cheese and stir until blended.

Spoon sauce over sliced tenderloin.

Cold!

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DSC01151 The last few days have been bitterly cold. The car thermometer showed single digits on the drive into work, add some wind into the mix and the temp with the wind chill factor is in the negatives.  I feel like Ralphie in the Christmas Story  when we bundle up to take the girls for their walk –  can’t move!  My arms stick out and I have to turn my whole body to see to my left or right.  But the girls looove the cold and the snow, so we persevere and brave the cold, we pile on layers and layers of thick socks, silky thermals, woolen scarves and gloves, ear muffs and heavy snow boots to tread through the snow.  We hike through drifts, slip and slide across icy patches, and break new trails trying to find some virgin snow for the girls to play in.  Dolce loves to make snow angels, Amore just loves the cold.

Our reward at the end of the trail?  If we finish our trek before 5:00 p.m. – we whip up some hot chocolate with some added peppermint liquors .  After 5:00 p.m. and we go for the stronger warming up beverage – Santa Fe Sluggers.

PEPPERMINT & HOT CHOCOLATE

  • 2 Cups milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 oz. semisweet chocolate (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp. creme de methe liqueur
  • 1 tsp. instant coffee granules
  • 1/2 tsp. Mexican vanilla

Heat milk and salt for the hot chocolate in a saucepan over medium heat and steam is starting to rise.  Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. Continue to heat until just before the mixture comes to a boil.  Ladle into mugs and top with frozen whip cream (see below).

  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 tbsp. pulverized peppermints
  • 1 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. crushed peppermints

Beat cream, pulverized peppermints and sugar for the whipped cream to stiff peaks.  Pipe or spoon onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Sprinkle with crushed peppermints and place in freezer until firm.  About 20 minutes.

SANTA FE SLUGGERS

  • 1 Cup Freshly brewed strong coffee (I use dark roast)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 oz. Kahlua
  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (not unsweetened)
  • 6 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp sugar (or more, depending on taste)

Heat coffee, bourbon, Kahlua, chocolate and 2 tbsp. cream in a 1 1/2 quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate has melted.  DO NOT ALLOW to BOIL!Beat remaining 1/4 cup cream with sugar to stiff peaks.  Pour coffee mixture into two large mugs and top with the whipped cream.

 

Friday nights

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Friday. 5:00 p.m.  Time to close up shop.  Time to shut down the computer, turn off the copier and printer.  Time to head home to the hubby and dogs and start the weekend.

About two years, on a Friday in early summer, I was doing exactly that, shutting off lights and grabbing my keys to head out the door, when the phone rang, a distraught member on the line, frantic that their entire brokerage was unable to access the forms library.  To a REALTOR, this is bad –  really bad –  especially with the weekend looming in the background.  I dropped back down into my office chair and began damage control.  It was two hours later before I was able to correct their “user” error.  In the middle of their crisis, I phoned home to let Malcolm know I’d be late and to hold off on dinner.  It had been a long week just made longer, but I was able to keep 200 brokers in business for the weekend.  I locked up the office and headed home……

A half-hour later I walked in the house.  I was tired, hungry and grouchy and there was my sweet, wonderful husband, waiting for me at the door, a blended margarita with salt in his hand, the dogs eagerly awaiting to be allowed to hug me in their welcome home attack, a platter of appetizers (okay, cheese and salami with salsa) sitting on the kitchen counter.  Malcolm grabbed my purse and handed me my drink with orders to go outside and sit on the lounger on the portal.  The girls followed me outside and waited for me to get comfortable.  Once settled, Dolce immediately crawled up on the long wicker lounge, curled up between my legs and put her head on my lap.  Tiamo sat by my side, getting her ears gently rubbed as Malcolm and I caught up on the week’s happenings.  One margarita led to two, cheese and salami ended up being dinner,  we watched the sun set over the Sandia’s while the tension eased and I was able to relax.  Dolce never lifted her head from my lap, Tiamo never left my side.  Amore would amble over every so often throughout the night ensuring all was well.  Malcolm and I talked until well after all the stars were lit and sparkling.  It was one of the best nights ever and the start of our “wine nights”.

The following Friday, I was able to head out for the weekend without any phone calls or delays.  On my drive home from work, I called Malcolm and asked that he uncork a bottle of red wine and pour two glasses, I’d be home soon.  Summers in Santa Fe are gorgeous – it’s our monsoon season, afternoon showers help cool down the day’s heat and create some spectacular sunsets, showing off the colors of the sky as it opens the door to the night.   Malcolm had put together another tray of hor de oeuvres which we nibbled on throughout the night.  We sat outside on the portal, the dogs at our feet, content in hearing our voices as we conversed, sipping on our wine.

We have continued  our Friday night wine nights ever since.  On occasion we invite friends and neighbors over to join us, but mostly it the two us and the girls.  On cold winter nights we will light a fire while we enjoy a warm toddy, Dolce always by my side.  Since Tiamo’s passing, Amore has taken to laying down at my feet, keeping them warm, letting me know she is right there.   She’ll lift her head when she hears a car drive by, check out what’s happening when Malcolm gets up to add another log on the fire and come right back to me, leaning up against my feet.   Eventually, she’ll roll over and start to snore, relaxed and at ease.  I believe the girls enjoy the evenings as much as we do.   I believe they hear the cadence of our voices, the low tones of our words and know their family is all right.  All’s well.

Start your own Friday night tradition with these Blackberry – Poblano Margaritas.  The deep purple color is a stunner!

Blackberry – Poblano Margaritas

  • 3 tbsp fresh blackberries (ok to use frozen berries)
  • 2 tbsp finely diced poblano peppers (seeds and membrane discarded)
  • 2 oz silver tequila
  • 1 1/2 oz Cointreau

Muddle the blackberries and poblano peppers in a cocktail shaker.  Add a tablespoon of superfine sugar if the berries need a little sweetening, at this point.  Add the tequila, Cointreau and ice and shake.  Strain into two margarita glasses filled with ice.

May substitute with raspberries, blueberries or a combination of berries.  To avoid pulp or seeds in your glass, strain before serving.

 

 

 

 

Apple Snatching Thief!

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Dolce – the apple snatching thief!

Every year, my husband, ever the rural gardener (NOT!), decides to plant fruit trees.  Cherries, peaches, apricots, apples, you name it.  And every year, he has high hopes of a bumper crop.  Unfortunately, we live in an area where the wind blows right about the time the blossoms are popping on the tree, blowing away any glimmer of  fruit off the branches.  And, we live at an elevation of 7,000 feet where it can easily snow into the month of May, freezing the fruit.  If the wind and the freeze doesn’t get the apples,  in late August, the coyotes come and feed off of the trees.  Needless to say, at best, we might be able to pick a dozen or so of token apples, just enough to bake a pie  – a small pie that we can claim the apples grew in our garden.

One year, we were able to gather two huge baskets of apples.  I left them on the high kitchen counter to use at a later date.  Each day when I came home from work, I noticed the pile of apples was getting significantly  smaller.  Naturally, I assumed my husband was pigging out on apples.  To our surprise, we learned differently….

Our two movie star felines – John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe, had co-op’ed with our three Berners:  Tiamo, Amore and Dolce.  Together, our sweet little kitties would jump up on the counter to the basket of apples and knock down the fruit with their paws to the floor, where three canines were eagerly waiting.  In one chomp, the apple would disappear down the throats of the dogs.  They were all in cahoots together!  In less than a week, the apples were gone.  Watching the antics of three dogs madly scrambling to catch the apple before the other two could was hilarious!  Watching the cats toy with the dogs, knowing they were in control, was more so.  You could see the cats thinking; “silly dogs going crazy over  shiny red balls”.  Watching the five of them playing together was worth losing two baskets of apples.

This year our apple tree is loaded with fruit.  Having survived the wind and any possible freeze, the branches are lowering to the ground with the weight of its produce.  Only now it’s not the coyotes we need to worry about – its Dolce!  The little stinker has learned a new trick.  The apples are low enough for her to burrow into the branches, sniff for the perfect fruit, grab the apple and run to a safe spot to eat it.  She loves the snap of the fruit as she is pulling it off the branch.  She knows at that exact moment, the apple is hers!  When the branch springs back from her tug, when the water droplets on the leaves from the recent rains splash onto her face, when the resistance of ownership transfers from the tree to her mouth, she knows she is the victor.  And, let me tell ‘ya, she is one happy camper!  Shiny bright eyes, a mouth full of apple and believe it or not, a grin of pure happiness.

Here’s to all the apple-snatching dogs in this world!

DOLCE’S APPLE PIE

  • Pastry for a 2 crust 9″ pie
  • 7 cups of apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 -1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice or vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • a little bit of milk

Divide half of the brandy and pour into a brandy sniffer.  Sip a few times to be sure the brandy is good enough to be used for the pie.  Sip again throughout the baking process to ensure the pie was worth the effort of making it.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out 1/2 of the pastry and line the pie pan.  Add the apples to the pie pan, layering the slices evenly.  Add lemon zest over the apple slices.

Combine all of the remaining ingredients and blend thoroughly.  Pour evenly over the apple slices.  Roll out remaining half of pastry dough and arrange over the apples and filling.  Flute the edges and cut vents in the top crust.  Combine the egg and milk and brush over the top crust.  Place prepared pie on a baking pan and place in oven for one hour or until done.  If the pie crust is browning too fast, tent foil over the fluted crust edges to slow the browning.

Great with the remaining brandy!

Sluggin’ it Down Sluggers

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Serve on a snowy, lazy day with a roaring fire.

  • 1 cup freshly brewed strong coffee
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 oz (1 tbsp.- or more) Kahlua
  • 2 oz. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
  • 6 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. sugar

Heat coffee, bourbon, Kahlua, chocolate and 2 tbsp. of cream in a 2 quart heavy saucepan over low heat, whisking constantly, until chocolate is melted (about 2 minutes).  Do not let boil.

Whisk remaining 1/4 cup cream with sugar until it holds soft peaks.

Divide mixture into coffee mugs and top with whipped cream.

“i like licking the coffee rings left on the end table, even though I’m not suppose to!” – amore

Caipirinhas

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How to stir up a pitcher of Brazilian Fun!

  • Peel the green rind from 4 large limes into 2-inch strips
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 8 (1/4 inch thick) slices of peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 30 large fresh mint leaves + 10 mint sprigs for garnish
  • 1 cup rum
  • 3 cups ice cubes
  • 5 cups ginger beer or ginger ale

Combine the lime peel, ginger, sugar and 30 mint leaves in a medium bowl.  Using the handle of a wooden spoon, crush the lime peel, ginger and mint leaves together.  Add lime juice and mix well.
Transfer mixture to large pitcher.  Add the rum and cover.  Place in refrigerator to chill.

To serve, stir in ginger beer or ginger ale.  Fill cocktail glasses with ice cubes and pour.  Garnish with mint sprig.

Turn up the volume and dance the night away!