Posts made in December, 2013

Peanut Butter Dog Bone Treats

Posted by on Dec 30, 2013 in New | 6 comments


This old man, he played one,
He played knick-knack on my thumb;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give the dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

My sister, Leslie caught me yawning (over the telephone) when she was talking about her beloved animals.  One thing led to another.


To prove I care about pets, I made Giada's Peanut Butter Dog Treats for the dogs in the lives of others.

So far, I learned our Golden Doodle grand dog; Koa trotted to his happy place under the kitchen table to savor his tasty treat.







This recipe is amazing and except for the laughable concoction, whips up in a hurry!








Combine the whole wheat flour, oats, and baking powder with the peanut butter and chicken stock.








Mix the dough until it is crumbly.








I rolled it out between two sheets of plastic wrap for easier clean-up.








Cut out the dog bone shapes (scraps are easy to combine for for more).








Dust the tops with Parmesan Cheese for a touch of Italy.








Yummy, I suppose.  The dough tasted like a dry PB& J sandwich (sans Jelly).








Always inquire if the dog is gluten-free. Just sayin'.

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Boxing Day 13

Posted by on Dec 27, 2013 in New | 3 comments

I was wilting but we had one more craft on our hearts.

Christmas Fruit Tree.

First, Izzy wanted to go to the semi-annual sale at Bath and Body Works and then decorate the fruit tree.








Sweet fruit and berry adornments ready.












The tree, scaled and prepped.










Focus on the pattern...








Mommy jumps in to help fill in the holes.


























Final serious assessment .








A few more blueberries cover the little sharp picks.











The doorbell rings...We made it !







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Christmas Morning

Posted by on Dec 25, 2013 in New | 1 comment

This petite satin clown sits on a bough in our Christmas tree.

A golden ruffle frames his shaggy topped head.

Wide cobalt blue eyes leap ahead of his heart shaped lips-- sealed with a short grin.

I don’t remember when he came aboard to hang with the disheveled elves

in their blue flannel PJ’s.

Time was when tiny hands placed him on a branch across the tree

from where the green beaded princess holds court.

Nimble hands of an older boy stashed him just below the glittery kindergarten star--

near a tuna can ornament adorned with the baby in a walnut shell.

Year after year, the mime reappears delightful and unchanging.

He holds my affection in his praying hands.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”

(God with us”).

Matthew 1:23

Merry Christmas from coco and MP too!

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Polenta for Christmas

Posted by on Dec 23, 2013 in Side Dishes | 2 comments


Occasionally, you need something to eat that has a powerful comfort denominator.  Long simmering polenta like American grits has this brilliant buttery creamy potent persuasion.

I had a crazy notion that you only ate polenta in restaurants because the same intimidation parked next to risotto was widespread for home cooks.



What if—what if you were also crazy enough to serve polenta soft style at Christmas Dinner for a crowd  instead of the usual (I meant, loved and adored) potatoes?


--photo courtesy of sf.eater

This recipe and technique created by the late, Judy Rodgers of Zuni Café allows you to prepare polenta two ways—soft  and velvety for now-- and a tender grilled triangle for another day.

Because Judy’s rendition is restaurant- ready, I proceeded to plan our Christmas dinner with soft polenta on the plate with an Italian theme.   The exception is homage to MP’s childhood favorite vegetable dish (another post).









The ingredients and method are quite simple.  A heavy bottomed pan prevents scorching and a balloon whisk is helpful too.

Use a premium coarsely ground polenta, like Bob’s Red Mill. Water, salt, a knob of butter and Parmesan cheese completes the lineup.

Bring the water  and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt to a simmer in a 2-quart saucepan.








Add the polenta in a steady stream all at once.  Use a whisk and stir constantly until the mixture returns to a simmer.

















Reduce the heat until the polenta only bubbles and sputters occasionally, and cook uncovered for an hour, stirring as needed, until thick and fluid.  If the polenta becomes stiff, add a trickle of water.















I moved the polenta into a stainless steel bowl.  Taste.  I added 1 more teaspoon of salt and  2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.








I created a makeshift double boiler.  Cover the polenta with plastic wrap and let it set there over barely simmering water or until serving time. Check the water level now and then.








Grab a spoon and the cheese... let it snow!








The remainder can be  spooned into a dish covered and chilled for another meal.








Reheat or








brown a slice for breakfast,








or grill a wedge with a side of marinara for lunch.


Polenta for a crowd...wish me luck.

Make ahead Polenta


  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup coarsely ground polenta
  • About 2 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
  • unsalted butter, to taste
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving (optional)


  1. Bring the water to a simmer in a 2-quart saucepan. Whisk or stir in the polenta, then stir until the water returns to a simmer. [I did this step, and the steps that follow, with a whisk.] Reduce the heat until the polenta only bubbles and sputters occasionally, and cook, uncovered, for about 1 hour, stirring as needed, until thick but still fluid. If the polenta becomes stiff, add a trickle of water. Taste. Add salt and a generous dose of butter. [I used 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and about 2 tablespoons of butter.]
  2. Transfer the polenta to a double boiler set over simmering water. Wrap the lid tightly in plastic wrap (*see note) and cover the polenta. Allow the polenta to rest that way for at least 30 minutes – or up to a few hours, depending on your schedule. If you do not have a double boiler, you can make a close approximation by setting the saucepan containing the polenta on a small, ovenproof ramekin centered inside a wider, deeper pot, and surrounding it with barely simmering water. Cover the pan as directed above.
  3. Judy Rodgers—Zuni Café Cookbook




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Posted by on Dec 20, 2013 in Asian and Vegetarian | 0 comments


Cauliflower Steaks with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Cauliflower Crumbles.

Cauliflower especially the uber fresh beauties from the Farmers’ Market are plentiful year round.  The little wintertime crowns are sweet and tender through the core.

We eat a lot of cauliflower, curried, steamed and pureed, riding alongside the pasta in Mac-n-cheese, and roasted as glorious nutty side dish.


Oh how I love this innovative trend for those who honor Meatless Monday or any other veggie nerd like me--cauliflower steak!

This was an inspired process because the window was closing on chanterelle season and not an exact recipe.








Wash the cauliflower, remove the tough outer leaves, and discard.  Leave the core (stem) intact. Using a very sharp knife cut the cauliflower into planks from the center.  How many you cut is determined by the size of the cauliflower.  This cauliflower was small so I got two good-sized slices.  The pieces remaining or those that break loose from the slices make the crumbles.  The remaining florets can also become a velvet puree to serve beneath the steak.









Brush the steaks with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Add another short glug of oil to a smoking hot cast iron skillet.  Brown the slices on both sides, about 2 minutes each, and remove to a foil lined baking sheet.  Roast the steaks at 350 degrees until fork tender, about 10 minutes.  Do not overcook the ‘steaks’ or they will fall apart.





























Meanwhile, finely chop the remaining bits and move them around in the skillet just like browning ground meat. Set aside.















Add a pat of butter to the skillet season and sauté the onion and the garlic for 2-3 minutes; then stir in chopped thyme and sliced mushrooms.  Sauté the mushrooms until they give up all their liquid.  Dust a couple of tablespoons of flour over the mushrooms and then a splash of heavy cream (roux style).  Stir the mushroom mixture until lightly thickened.  Adjust seasonings.








Serve the cauliflower steaks with the sautéed mushrooms and cauliflower crumbles and garnish with fresh parsley.

Simply rich and elegant!

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