sunny side up

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Unfortunately, our dogs are conditioned to enjoy breakfast at the crack of dawn.  Most days, we will find a cold, wet nose sniffing for some activity, checking to see if we’re alive, usually on my still warm from sleep neck and usually when it is still dark outside.  And if there is one nose nudge, there soon will be two.  The down side is having a cold nose (or two) poking and prodding you while you still have ten minutes before the alarm goes off.  The up side is being greeted in the morning by two very happy dogs!  There is no way you can wake up grumpy with two in-your-face exuberant dogs impatient to start their day.  Always in good humor and with shiny bright eyes, Amore and Dolce embrace each morning like a Bridgestone on pavement, wanting the day to unfold like a stretch of road opening up wide from a tight curve, at full throttle, gaining traction as they hit the ground running. They have yet to learn the meaning of “sleeping-in”.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are the type of dog that wants to be with you – constantly.  Where you goeth, they want to goeth.  If they are ready to begin their day, they want to make certain you are there with them.  And once up, they  will follow me throughout my get-ready-for-work rituals just for the company.  They know when the hair dryer shuts off, it’s count-down to breakfast. And, once full from breakfast, they get to race up the drive to fetch the newspaper, always with the hope of a Cottontail crossing their path.

For Amore and Dolce, there is only one way to greet the morning and that is sunny side up!

 

Cheesy grits

Cheesy grits

Cheesy Grits with Ham and Eggs

  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 can low-sodium chicken broth (1 3/4 cups)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 3/4 cup quick grits
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1   –  1/2 ” thick ham steak approx.  1 1/2 lbs.
  • 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar

In a 2 – quart saucepan, combine milk, broth, cayenne, and thyme, bring to a boil over high heat.  Slowly whisk grits into liquid and reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 5 to 7 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally.  Remove saucepan from heat and stir in 1/4 cup green onions and cheese.

While the grits are on the stove cooking, heat a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium high heat until hot.  Pat ham dry with paper towels and coat both sides with the brown sugar.  Add to skillet.  Cook ham 5 minutes or until heated through and glazed, turning once.  Remove ham and keep warm.

Leaving  the skillet on the stove , add the butter to the hot skillet and melt.  Coat the skillet with the butter, tipping the skillet until covered.  Add the eggs, keeping the whites from touching the each other.  Fry the eggs until cooked to the desired level.  Sunny side up

Cut ham into serving sizes and arrange on individual plates with a serving of grits.  Place a fried egg on top of the grits and garnish with remaining chopped green onions

 

cherry tomatoes

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Damm!  A whole carton of cherry tomatoes on the floor! One of those fangdangle bowl-shaped cartons with the snap-on-lid that holds a whole bunch of cherry tomatoes just came unsnapped, flinging its contents all over the kitchen.  Three red orbs land in the sink, a bunch hit the counter and the majority are rolling all over the brick floor.  Dolce and Amore perk up when they hear me cussing and immediately come running into the kitchen to investigate, muzzles to the ground, checking for spillage.  In Amore’s eagerness, she grabs a little red sphere before Dolce can, and quickly bites into it. Just as quickly, she drops it back on the floor, her jaw working furiously to remove the acidic taste from her mouth.  There’s not enough water in the toilet bowl for her to rinse out the flavor.  Apparently, Amore doesn’t like cherry tomatoes.

Now Dolce on the other hand, comprehends real quick that Amore has the lead in eating the lit’l delicacies.  She only sees Amore getting the drop on the tomatoes before she can.  Dolce immediately turns her focus to a pile of tomatoes nestled in the kitchen corner,  swiftly scoops up five tasty morsels into her mouth and promptly heads to her special pillow in the living room with her coveted stash.  In her rush to grab the most, she doesn’t see Amore heading to the bathroom to guzzle down some water, she only knows she grabbed more than her sibling.  Sensing victory, Dolce chomps down on the juicy lit’l guys,  squirting seeds and sticky tomato juice in all directions.   Faster than you can say the word “ta-mah-tau” the look of triumph that had entered into her eyes turned to horror as she realized she didn’t like what was in her mouth.  Hastily, she spit out the tomatoes.  UCK! Chunks of tomato carnage go flying through the air, landing on chairs, couches and pillows.

It seems Dolce doesn’t like tomatoes either.

Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

Tomato & Mozzarella Salad

TOMATO & MOZZARELLA SALAD

A great summer salad and perfect for company!

Slice the tomatoes and then slice the mozzarella.  On a serving platter, alternate the tomato slices and the mozzarella.  Tuck in the basil leaves between the tomato and mozzarella.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill. In the blender, mix together the remaining ingredients until well blended.  Keep at room temperature.  Drizzle over the tomatoes and mozzarella when ready to serve.

Sunday tradition

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Monday through Friday, I am the one to feed the girls their morning meal. Early.  5:00 a.m. early.  Our dogs are conditioned to enjoy their breakfast at the crack of dawn, when it’s still dark and cold out.  Once their bellies’ are full, they settle back down on their huge dog pillows for a little morning shut-eye as I sip my coffee and read the paper before I leave for work.

Come the weekend, my wonderful, sweet hubby gets up early to feed Amore and Dolce, allowing me to sleep a couple more hours before I start the day.  For some perverse reason, on the weekends, the girls start scrambling for their breakfast  around 4:00 a.m.  They’ll come around to the side of the bed, checking to see if one of us is up yet, being sure to whack their tail several times for good measure.  On a good day, they might wait until 4:30 a.m. before starting their wake-up antics.  If need be, Amore will jump up on the bed and sit on one of us in her attempt to get fed.  It’s about this time, I’m kicking Malc in the back, “it’s your turn to feed’em!” I mumble.

Blurry eyed, and three-quarters still asleep, he stumbles out to the dark kitchen, tripping over 200 excited pounds of two hungry dogs in their mad bid for their kibbles.  From the other room, I hear several choice words spewing loudly from his lips as his bare feet and legs are clawed by dog paws in their eagerness to be fed. I hear the clank and clatter from their metal dog bowls being pushed around the hard floor as they devour their food.  Then quiet. Blissful quiet.  Wonderful-fall-back-to-sleep quiet.  While the girls are still chowing down their food, Malc will crawl back into the still warm bed, staking out his territory on the mattress.  He has about 2 minutes to fluff his pillows and get comfortable before the girls search us out, climbing up on the bed to snuggle in for a few more hours.  A half hour later, Gordita joins the family snugglefest, stepping over fur and bodies to curl up on a down pillow.

By the time, I’m ready to rise, I have two dogs stretched out on each side of me and a cat up on my pillow loudly purring in my ear, a black cat tail draped across my face. I can’t move.  I look over at Malcolm and see a slight smile peaking through the covers.  “Psst! You awake?”, I persist in waking him.  One visible eye opens, we share a contented, loving look as we view our menagerie nestled on the bed.  Our family.  It brings a warm hug to our hearts.

Sunday morning is our special day of the week to laze around, read the paper, drink our coffee, share breakfast.  It’s turned into tradition, having our girls curled up around us as we read the comics, the OpEd page, the local news, sipping hot coffee, being careful not to spill any on the covers.  Breakfast turns into brunch, but who cares, it’s our lazy day to enjoy our family.

RASPBERRY PANCAKES

Perfect for those lazy Sunday mornings, these cakes are light and fluffy – the secret is taking the time to beat the egg whites separately.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup non-fat milk (may use buttermilk)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated
  • 2 large egg whites (save extra egg yolk for your canine friends)
  • 3/4 cup sliced bananas
  • 3/4 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam (heated in microwave)
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together milk, egg yolk and zest.  Set aside.

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks forms.  Stir milk mixture little by little into the flour mixture.  Carefully fold in egg whites and then add the sliced bananas.

Spray non-stick cooking spray on a large non-stick skillet or griddle and warm over medium heat.  Ladle batter onto hot griddle using a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour batter, making a hotcake.  Repeat until griddle is full.  Cook until bottom is set and golden brown, about two minutes.  Flip and cook until firm, another 2 to 3 minutes.  Set aside and cover to keep warm until you’ve cooked all the hotcakes.

Serve hotcakes topped with warm raspberry jam and vanilla yogurt and raspberries.