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For some reason, my life has been surrounded by fruit gratin lately.  Ina Garten was making one on Barefoot Contessa and then there was one Smitten Kitchen made with raspberries and sour cream which sounded… ummm… scary.  So I decided to make it with plain yogurt instead.  Which, yes, I realize tastes almost the same as sour cream.  But it sounds different in my head and my version tasted just great, so I’m thinking I won’t even voyage into the land of sour cream mixed with fruit. 

 

The first time I made this it was with peaches, and it was delightful except for the fact that I am an idiot and can’t get through my brain that sometimes you just need to use the full-fat version of food if you want it to taste good.  I had this fat-free plain yogurt and – no surprise – was kind of thin and not as flavorful as I would have liked.  It was fine but there wasn’t really any “wow” factor.

Fast forward to this past weekend when I had fresh raspberries and blackberries in the fridge.  Why not give the whole fruit gratin thing another try?  This time I used greek yogurt and a couple of drops of pure vanilla extract and it was amazing the difference it made!  I would definitely advocate using real, fatty, delicious yogurt.

Then you throw a whole lotta brown sugar on top.  You can’t go wrong with brown sugar.  Ever.  I could see you eating this for breakfast (it is practically a parfait) or even as a light dessert.  Personally, I would eat it any time of day.  And if you ever try making it with sour cream or creme fraiche or anything instead of yogurt, let me know how it goes!

Brown Sugar Fruit Gratin

2 cups plain greek yogurt
3-4 drops of pure vanilla extract
2 cups bite sized fruit (berries or other fruits sliced up)
1 cup brown sugar

Preheat the broiler on low.  Mix the yogurt with the vanilla extract.  Spread a layer of half the yogurt on the bottom of a shallow baking dish or ramekins.  Add all of the fruit, gently pressing it down into the yogurt.  Spread the remaining yogurt on top of the fruit.  This makes you less likely to crush the berries than just mixing it all together, but if mixing it is easier then feel free because this isn’t a pretty dish by any stretch of the imagination.  Then crumble all of the brown sugar on top, making sure that there are no lumps.  Broil for as long as it takes for the brown sugar to melt and start to bubble a bit (it took me about 10 minutes).  Enjoy!

It is way to hot to have the oven on this summer (please forget for a moment about the corn casserole that I just posted), so here is another ice cream recipe.  And this one is for humans!  Much to Buster’s disdain.  He probably still has puppy dreams about the ice cream that I made for him last month.  Wait, no he doesn’t.  He has spent the last several weeks playing with his doggy girlfriend at his grandparents’ house on the lake.   So any dreams that this dog has right now are probably about going back there!

On to the ice cream (do I talk about the dog too much?).  The name six threes is pretty obvious.  It is 3 each of 6 ingredients.  But be warned that this actually makes two batches of ice cream!  I should have realized it while reading how many ingredients were going in there but it somehow slipped right through my head.  And then after the first batch I had to sit around and wait for the ice cream maker to freeze again before making the second batch.  You know where this story goes…

I got impatient while waiting for the ice cream maker to freeze and decided that it was frozen enough and just threw the second batch in there.  Well, it wasn’t “frozen enough” and the second batch never fully froze.  Smart, Lindsay.  So, I just threw it in the freezer and hoped for the best.  It ended up ok, but kind of icy.  Note to self: don’t rush the ice cream.  Or just turn it into six one-and-a-halfs ice cream and forget about all of the refreezing mess.

Six Threes Ice Cream (from AllRecipies.com):

3 cups sugar
3 cups cream
3 cups milk
3 bananas, mashed
3 oranges, juiced
3 lemons, juiced

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and cream until sugar is dissolved. Mix in the milk, mashed bananas, and fruit juices.

Pour mixture into ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions, about 45 minutes.


It seems to be summer!  Or at least that’s why my un-air conditioned built-in-1880 house is telling me.  I’m melting.  There are only a couple of days each year that really make me wish we had AC, but just as hard are those first days of summer when your body still thinks that it should be 20 degrees outside and snowing.  The sudden emergence of sun and heat is a lot to handle! 

Black-coated Buster gets especially hot.  Which is why he completely deserves the kiddie pool and ice cream treats that Jake and I spoil him with.  Had he been a yellow lab he probably would be getting no love from us at all.  Right.  But we’ll use the black coat excuse for now.  It also helps that our back yard, which he would live the rest of his life in if would let him, has a big tree to block the afternoon light.  And there is a mysterious rodent living under the deck to keep him constantly entertained.  It seems to be Buster’s mission to get to whatever is under there, but I’m fairly certain that if he ever did find it he would be too shocked and frightened to actually kill the thing.  Which is nice for the animal lovers in all of us. 

There isn’t really a “recipe” for dog ice cream, or for any dog treats for that matter, because dogs will eat pretty much anything without complaint.  As long as you put foods in there that won’t hurt them they seem to enjoy whatever is thrown their way.  It’s the temperature factor that makes this treat a summer hit.  Most dogs will eat ice cubes and be perfectly happy, but Buster isn’t most dogs and ice cubes are scary.  Very very scary.  They make a loud clinking noise when they hit the ground, and no one really knows what kind of evil things they are capable of.  Creamy yogurt and peanut butter?  Less scary and more delicious. 

“Don’t mind if I do…”

Is it possible to get drunk off of ice cream treats?  Evidently, it is!

He is licking the deck just in case there are any morsels that he missed.  Watch out for splinters, buddy!

“Can I pleeeease have more?  I promise I won’t jump up on your white sheets with muddy paws for at least 3 days!  Or until the next rain storm.  Whichever comes first.”

Ice Cream Dogs Treats (but remember that this is flexible):

1 individual container of plain yogurt
2-3 Tbsp peanut butter
3/4 cup uncooked oatmeal
2-3 tsp of honey

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl.  Transfer to any ice cube tray.  I use the silicone ones that are easy to pop out  and that have a flat top so that I can dump the whole mixture on top and then push the mixture around into the separate compartments.  But really any tray will do.  Freeze the tray.  Feed to Fido (but not all at once, obviously)!


There are three reasons that I’m posting two recipes in a row from Austin: 1) Jake took my camera to work a week ago and has yet to return it… so my pictures are being held hostage.  2) I happen to love anything funfetti.  Check the cake balls.  3) Based on past experiences, Austin’s recipes are deeelicious and there is no need to keep them from the world for one extra minute!

Read it and drool:

“I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, which is the only reason I’m still able to fit through doorways without turning myself sideways. Basically, if I loved cookies they way I love chili cheese fries, I would have to be buried in a piano crate. My husband, on the other hand, loves sweets of all kinds. It’s not unheard of for him to eat ice cream WITH snack cakes crumbled on top for dinner. Youuu heard me: cookie dough ice cream topped with crumbled swiss cake rolls. Feel free to judge him, god knows I do.

 

So yeah, sometimes I see recipes that look right up his alley, and I make them for him because I’m a good wife and because sometimes it feels good to make something so sugary and sinful and say, oh no thanks, none for me. It’s a rare occurrence in my life, and it’s fun to pretend that I’m dainty and have some control over my eating. Shut up Lindsay, I can hear you laughing 5 states away.

 

When I saw these funfetti sandwich cookies on Cakespy, I was like JACKPOT because not only are they ridiculously sugary and adorable, but they’re also pink. One little known fact about Travis is that he loves pink foods. I nearly broke up with him years ago when he confessed his favorite donut was pink frosted with sprinkles. I mean, I needed to be dating a real man, and real men like double chocolate frosted or boston crème donuts and everyone knows this. He claims he only used the pink frosted line to get in my pants, which totally ended up working, so joke’s on me.

 

So I made these, and tasted one just to verify that they were too sweet for me and then I must have blacked out because when I came to, half of them were gone and I had crumbs in my bra. What I’m trying to say is: these are seriously delicious, and if you make them more than once a fiscal quarter, you’re probably going to get diabetes in a serious way.

 

Also, you could make the frosting any color you wanted, I just go with pink because it makes Travis giggle like a 5 year old girl.

Funfetti Sandwich Cookies (Originally from Cakespy):
For the cookies:

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 package funfetti cake mix

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Cream the butter and cream cheese. Blend in egg and vanilla.
3. Add cake mix in two parts, mixing well (the batter will be pretty thick, if you need to you can add a dollop of heavy cream and mix that in)
4. Using a small cookie scoop (or a spoon), drop balls of cookie dough on an ungreased baking sheet. Leave about 2 inches between the cookies.
5. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool cookies for at least 15 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack; the cookies are very delicate when they first come out of the oven and they will break if you try to transfer them too soon.
6. Once completely cool, add a generous dollop of frosting to the bottom of half the cookies, and then sandwich the rest of the cookies on top.

For the filling:

The recipe originally called for a different frosting recipe, but I have much better luck following the frosting recipe on the side of the Domino confectioners sugar box.

 1 package Domino powdered sugar
½ cup butter, softened
3 to 4 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Food coloring drops

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mix on medium speed for 2 minutes until it’s creamy. Add more milk if it’s not a spreadable consistency.

Puppy chow is a sweet treat of many names.  We called it “trash” when I was a kid… though I have no idea why.  Maybe because you throw everything in a bag? 

I’ve also heard it called muddy paws and muddy buddies, which would be perfect in our house right now.  It is finally hot outside and we bought Buster a kiddie pool to play in (yes, he’s spoiled).  He LOVES it.  But he gets so excited every time he gets in there that he will jump out with a newfound energy that only cold hose water could provide, run around the yard, and then run into the kitchen to show us how awesome he is for getting in the water.  It is all very cute, but we end up with muddy paw prints all over the kitchen floor.  We could close the door, but then who would he show his wet coat to?

This dessert/candy is really quick and easy to make.  You just melt, stir, shake, and eat!  It takes about 10 minutes total and is perfect if you bought one of those huge boxes of Chex at Costco.  Hey, I had a coupon.  And I didn’t hear anyone complaining about my odd purchase when they were eating the puppy chow.

Jake had never heard of or tasted puppy chow before I made it, which is really interesting considering his dad makes a mean Chex Mix.  Maybe their family was just so focused on the salty, they didn’t think to make the sweet.  Luckily for Jake, I am constantly thinking about eating dessert, so there was no getting around it in this house. 

Only an animal would eat it right out of the bag… right?  Yea?  Oh, fine, I ate it right out of the bag. 

Puppy Chow (adapted from the Chex cereal box):

1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup peanut butter
9 cups Corn Chex or Rice Chex
4 cups powdered sugar

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt together butter, peanut butter, and chocolate chips by microwaving on high in 30 second increments, stirring each time, until it is completely melted.

Measure out the Chex into a large bowl.  Pour chocolate mixture over Chex and fold until all the Chex are completely covered in the chocolate mixture.

Put the Chex and powdered sugar into a gallon-sized bag and shake until all chex are covered.  Add more sugar as needed, but I didn’t really use any extra.

Bakerella has pretty much made these little cake balls famous by creating characters and turning them into lollipops and doing pretty much any other creative thing that you could ever think to do with a call of cake.  I have always been intrigued from a distance but have never worked up the courage to make them.  I mean the whole idea of it seems contradictory: you use boxed cake mix and store-bought frosting so it should be easy, but then all of the different steps like rolling the cake into little balls and dipping each one into chocolate is pretty labor intensive.  I use the term “labor intensive” as someone who sits at a desk for 7 hours a day and then goes home to eat bon bons.  I realize that dipping candies into chocolate doesn’t make a normal person work up a sweat.

So anyway, I finally broke down and tried it.  It was certainly a lot harder than making a cake, but gets more of a reaction, too.  It is easy to say no to a piece of cake (well, it is easy for some people) but there is no denying one of these harmless little calorie-free treats.  You can’t say no!

The cake balls that I made we funfetti themed because it was for my birthday, and they were good, but super sweet.  Which worked out fine because it kept me from eating 12 of them.  Everyone else at dinner who tried the cake balls seemed to like them, so that’s a good sign.  The white chocolate was more of a hit than the dark chocolate. I’m not sure why, but it is something to keep in mind.   

I was surprised that when combined with the icing the cake balls taste more like cake batter than real cake.  Like little truffles.  And doesn’t the name “cake batter truffles” just sound more elegant?  Ok, it’s decided then.  They will now officially be called cake batter truffles.  Spread the word.

Cake Balls (adaped from Bakerella’s Red Velvet Cake Balls):

1 box cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 can frosting (16 oz.)
1 package semi-sweet or milk chocolate bark
1 package white chocolate bark
wax paper

After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.
Mix thoroughly with 1 can of frosting. (It may be easier to use fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)
Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay on cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50. You can get even more if you use a mini ice cream scooper).
Chill for several hours.  You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.
Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.
Roll balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.) I also only melt a few pieces of chocolate bark at a time because it starts to cool and thicken. It’s easier to work with when it’s hot.

I guess I should call this one “oatmeal dried sweetened cranberry cookies” but that would be kind of confusing.  And unnecessary.  I mean, it isn’t like there are millions of people reading this post and running out to buy craisins instead of whatever the other companies call their cranberries.  Do any companies other than Ocean Spray make dried cranberries?  I’m really getting off topic now.  Focus, Lindsay!

Yum.  Craisins are just so good.  My friend, Allie, used to have a huge Costco bag of them at all times and would eat them throughout the day.  I don’t know how many bags she went through freshman year of college, but it was enough that I thought she would get sick of them and never have them again.  But I was wrong.  She still loves them.  So much so that she named her cat Craisin.  And he is completely crazy, so it fits. 

Now, the recipe calls for the cookies to be in 1 inch balls, but I used my ice cream/cookie scoop and they ended up bigger.  A lot bigger.  I didn’t realize until the cookies turned into hub caps are were completely raw when the cooking time was supposed to be pretty much complete.  So, I dropped the oven temperature and let them continue on their cooking journey and they actually ended up really good (though huge).  If you want monster cookies I would say you should just drop the oven to 325 degrees and then keep an eye on the progress. 

Oatmeal  Craisin Cookies (from Recipe Zaar):

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats (not instant)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional… I left them out)
3/4 cup Craisins

Preheat Oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer combine, sugar, brown sugar and butter and mix well. Add in egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Add in cinnamon, baking soda, salt and flour and mix well.

Fold in by hand the oatmeal, walnuts, and dried cranberries making sure that all ingredients are uniformly distributed.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls (or just drop them on the sheet) and place 3-inches apart onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, just until the edges are lightly golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 2-3 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving to a cooling rack.

When you make bread as moist and tasty as the banana-oatmeal bread that I wrote about yesterday, it just seems to be a shame to smear some butter on it and call it a day.  There has to be more to this world than bread and butter, right?  Well, Elvis would be proud because I decided to take the banana bread and throw on some PB (though he might not be as happy that I left out the bacon… it just didn’t seem right, but maybe next time!).

      

This sandwich could be served for breakfast or a snack or even dessert .  Really, just eat it whenever you want to because it’s tasty and fun.  And a little bit messy with the melty PB.  If you are really feeling wild, you could throw some chocolate chips in there.  Oh, yum. 

Here is how you make the grilled PB&A (this makes two sandwiches):

4 slices of banana-oatmeal bread
4-6 thin apple slices
4 Tbsp. peanut butter
4 tsp. butter or margarine

The process for making this sandwich is just like making a grilled cheese, but with different ingredients.  For each sandwich, spread 1 teaspoon of butter on one side of each slice of bread.  These will be the outsides of the sandwich.  Then spread peanut butter on the insides of one of the slices (2 tablespoons).  Lay the apple slices on the pb and then put the other slice of bread on top. 

Put the sandwiches on a skillet over medium heat.  Let them cook for about 5 minutes (or until the bread is toasted) and then flip them and cook the other side. 

Then you’re done!  It’s that easy!

Winter in Boston is tough!  Jake and I have two comforters on our bed and we still sleep in sweats and wool socks. 

Buster has to wear a coat on his walks.  The whole idea of putting a dog in a coat is something that didn’t come easily to us.  He is a dog after all; he has a built-in coat, right?  But when he started shaking and cowering with every wind gust below 15° we knew that it was time to throw in the towel. 

My point in complaining about the cold weather is that all you want is something warm to hold and drink.  This hot chocolate is so much better than the powder that you get in a packet.  It isn’t as sweet as the packet; it is closer to European hot chocolate.  The flavor is rich even though skim milk makes up a majority of the liquid (not that it’s healthy, but it isn’t as bad as a lot of other hot chocolates out there).  The cornstarch makes it thick and creamy.  I love it.  Jake does, too.  Poor Buster didn’t get to have a taste.   

Here is the recipe:
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp. cocoa power (unsweetened)
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp cornstarch

In a small saucepan, heat the cream, milk, and cinnamon over medium heat.  After a couple of minutes throw in the cocoa powder, sugar, and cornstarch.  I suppose you could throw it in at the beginning, but it dissolves so much more easily once the milk is warm.  Let it heat up until it is at a drinking temperature – nearly boiling – and serve it with marshmallows.


Since most of the country has been getting hit with snow recently, I asked myself, “What could possibly be better than making a treat out of all snow-white ingredients?”  Ok, that’s not exactly how it happened, but it would have made a good story, right? 

In reality, Jake and I happen to have a super pack of popcorn that I got on sale, and when that is combined with the marshmallows, white chocolate, and sea salt that were already in the house, it makes a very tasty winter-themed treat.  It reminds me of those kids who will only eat things that are white (potatoes, bread, vanilla ice cream, etc.).  This would be perfect for them!

Here is how I made it:

1 large or 2 small bags of popcorn
~20 marshmallows
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 tsp sea salt

Pop the corn and spread it out on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Make sure that you take all of the unpopped seeds out at this point or you will regret it later when you are biting into the treat and you end up making an emergency trip to the dentist.  

Over medium-low heat, melt the butter and the marshmallows, stirring constantly.  Don’t rush it!  Using a higher heat will just burn them. 


Once they are completely melted and liquidy, remove from the heat and pour over the popcorn.  Using a silicone spatula (just because it is less sticky than other utensils), gently toss the popcorn with the melted marshmallow and try to push it down into a somewhat flat layer without breaking all the kernels.

Next, melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring it every 30 seconds. 


Evenly drizzle the melted chocolate over the popcorn, and while it is still wet sprinkle the sea salt on top.  Then let the whole thing sit for about half an hour so that it will have a chance to set up and not be as sticky when you eat it.  Unless you don’t mind liking your fingers.  In that case, just go ahead and eat it right away.

In case you couldn’t tell by now, I’m a big fan of the salty/sweet pairing (chocolate dipped pretzels, chocolate caramel crackers).  This popcorn treat is just another example of why it is the best food combo ever.  Yum.

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