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Separation Anxiety

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Oh, hello blog. I hope I did not lose any of my dedicated readers (all ten of you). I was on vacation down in the land of the South and then I got lazy for a while when I got back. Inexcusable, I know, but that’s my excuse.  The plan to visit the ‘Rents for 4th o’ July had been in the works for a while, but it wasn’t until about 2 weeks prior to departure that we realized we would have to do something with Moriarty. I immediately set out to scour Yelp for all the dog kennels in Chicago. Some were straight up ridiculous (“Upgrade your pup to an executive suite for just $20 more per night”) and almost all had at least a few horror stories in their reviews. The anxiety began to set in.

I probably wouldn’t argue if you said that we are attached to our dog perhaps to an unhealthy level, but that’s just the way it is. I convinced myself that leaving him for 4 nights would send the clear message to him that we no longer loved him and had abandoned him forever. Now, I don’t know if a dog would even be able to think at that level, but that didn’t make the worry any less. We finally settled on a boarding joint recommended by a friend, that was modest in price and “suites,” but seemed to have a dedicated and caring staff, with plenty of Facebook pictures to prove their dogs aren’t chained to trees all day and fed rats. We dropped off Arty a couple hours before take off, and I would be lying if I said the look he gave us as he walked down the hall didn’t stick with me the entire time we were gone. I know, I know, I make myself sick with this ridiculousness, but I can’t help it. Texas, meanwhile, was great. We enjoyed the company of family, and more importantly, visited more than once the home of the best donuts IN THE WORLD.

When we got back into town we rushed to the kennel, cursing the Chicago traffic the whole time, and ran through the doors, envisioning some sort of movie-scene leap into arms reunion. As it was, it took them about five minutes to get our dog away from his puppy friends, and when he saw us, he was clearly a little confused. This just confirmed my fears that he had believed he was abandoned forever. Actually, after the 30-minute car ride home, he slowly came around to remembering us, and becoming the same great/crazy pet he was when we dropped him off.  Pictures from the kennel proved he was perfectly content while we were gone, and all the anxiety was probably just one-sided.

On a terribly sad note, we got word last night that Moriarty’s best friend from the neighborhood, a 9 month old bull mastif puppy, that was about 12 times his size, died of some sudden onset crazy respiratory virus. We were sad all night, and still are, even though he was not our dog. It also put into perspective that it is not embarrassing (well, not THAT embarrassing) to worry and fuss over and love our pup like we do, because if that had happened to him, we would be heartbroken.  That is all, I will be back to blogging about bacon etc. tomorrow. I apologize for the absence. Here’s a bonus lovely picture of Chicago skyline taken by The Wife to make up for it.

“Y’know, this pasta is delicious, but it could really use more booze.”

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That’s what I assume the thought process was for whoever invented vodka sauce. I didn’t know much about vodka sauce, until I made this and turned to my trusty friend, Wikipedia. Oh, Wikipedia, all those college professors said I couldn’t use you as a source, but they didn’t say I couldn’t use you as the primary way to find sources, but really just quote from you… I digress, I didn’t know much except vodka sauce is deeelicious. Turns out the alcohol in vodka, much like wine, enhances certain flavors, especially in tomatoes. This, combined with a bunch of cream and butter makes for a great time. I do the grocery shopping ’round here but usually ask The Wife for input as to what she would like to eat for the week. I don’t know why I keep doing this, since it seems to irrationally fluster her and she usually just blurts out “I JUST WANT SUSHI!!” but this time she contributed “a light pasta would be nice.”  Maybe it would, Wife, but light is not on the table tonight. I present you penne alla vodka with fresh basil and prosciutto.

Bonus prosciutto shot.

Puppy Pride

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This weekend was the Pride parade in Chicago. We live pretty much adjacent to the most fabulous part of town, so of course went down to check out the festivities. We decided to take the pup down and observe from a slight distance. I came away with a deeper understanding that no matter race, nor gender, nor sexual preference, everybody loves a corgi.

Moriarty kissing Gazpacho. Gazpacho is a boy, but we're okay with that.

Pretty sure he likes the attention.

He is pretty hugable. It's true.

 

I'm not saying we have the cutest dog in the city, but I'm not saying we don't.

Chipotle float was by far the most modest.

 

Ice Cream Sunday: Nutella & Peanut Butter Cup

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Mmmm, Nutella. Thank you, Ferrero, for making chocolate in spreadable form an acceptable condiment for breakfast, or anytime.  This ice cream is based off of my favorite college poor man’s desserts. Take a spoonful of peanut butter, spoonful of peanut butter, let them mate onto one spoon and you have a treat fit for a king. That’s your recipe right there, goodnight. But wait, it is ice cream Sunday so we will alter this up a bit and cram some cream in there.

Get some:

*half a jar of nutella

*2 cups whole milk

*1 1/2 cups heavy cream

*handful or two of miniature peanut butter cups from Trader Joes. If you don’t have a Trader Joes, you are on your own

*a couple Reeses cups

*3 egg yolks

*1/2 cup sugar

*pinch of salt

Do work:

In a large bowl, put your nutella and couple Reeses cups.

Heat milk with sugar and salt until warm.

Add egg yolks and cook on medium until thickened just slightly.

Poor mixture over nutella and whisk well until nutella and cups are melted.

Add heavy cream and stir.

From here, follow your ice cream maker instructions. Add miniature cups about 3/4 of the way through.

It’s a pretty simple ice cream, but super rich and indulgent, so that means try to limit yourself to a small bowl…and then go get more, so it doesn’t look like you have too much in front of you at one time.

Bonus pic of how I conquer every new Nutella jar I acquire.

The Best Mac & Cheese You Have Ever Eaten?

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Control yourselves.

Look, I’m sure you have your favorite mac & cheese. Maybe you are a kraft purist and don’t even consider something cheese if it isn’t powdered. Maybe some homemade or restaurant version blew your mind and you call it the best ever. Previous to perfecting this recipe, mine was from Slows BBQ in Detroit. This is better. Much better. In my opinion. I am going to take the Glenn Beck approach to this statement. I am not saying definitively that this is the best mac & cheese in the world, but it might be.  I didn’t say it was better than any other cheese and pasta concoction you ever put in your mouth, but shouldn’t we ask ourselves if there’s a possibility that it is? Shouldn’t we? I take no responsibility for this comments if they prove to be untrue. After all, this is just an opinion blog. A delicious, delicious opinion blog.

Chives and cheese about to do battle

That’s it.  Don’t let anyone tell you it’s unhealthy to just eat mac & cheese for dinner. Also pictured is some cheddar herb beer bread, which I may post a recipe for at a later date, but you don’t really need anything else.  Eat until you feel somewhere between guilty and uncomfortable.

Moving to the City, Gonna’ Eat Me a Lot of Peaches.

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I always have a hard time knowing when certain fruits are in season. I can be found squealing in the produce department whenever I see the first good pomegranate of the year, and who the hell knows when you can get a decent plum? But apparently it is peach season now, because they are filling up stalls at the farmers market and practically spilling out the doors of every grocery store. Whole Foods was selling them at 99 cents a pound, and when Whole Foods sells something that cheap, you know they have got to move that product. So I said to myself, “Self, I want to make something delicious with these peaches, but I am feeling very lazy.” And then it hit me. Refrigerated biscuit dough.  A key ingredient in many lazy concoctions in this house (ghetto donuts, anyone?) So here I present you with a surprisingly good peach tart-like-thing. It’s the easiest tart since Bristol Palin. **rimshot** .

Surely you can obtain these things:

* A couple pounds of peaches

*1 can of refrigerated biscuits

*2 tablespoons butter, softened

*2 tablespoons brown sugar

*1/2 cup mascarpone 

*1 tablespoon honey

*As much cinnamon you would like

Surely you have 10 minutes to spare:

Preheat your oven to 350.

Mix together brown sugar, butter, and some cinnamon.

In a separate vessel, mix mascarpone, honey, and some more cinnamon.

Take 1 biscuit if you would like a small tart, 2 if you would like a larger tart. Smoosh together well if you have two.

Roll out the biscuit until it is pretty thin. 1/8 of an inch? I’unno, this is supposed to be easy here.

Spread some of the butter/brown sugar mix on the dough, then arrange the peaches in middle as beautifully as you have patience for.

Fold over edges of the dough to create a tart-esque treat.

Bake on parchment until dough is brown, I think I did like 10 minutes.

Top your tart with the mascarpone mixture, eat, and have a good, hearty laugh at all those schmucks out there laboring over a legitimate pie crust.

Bonus relevant music video. Hello, nostalgia:

Wild Mushroom & Leek Risotto (It’s easier than you think.)

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This recipe doesn’t have any bacon in it. It does, however, have a lot of another favorite of mine, fungi. As far as I am concerned, mushrooms are pretty much the bacon of the forest. This recipe is a pretty standard risotto recipe and is actually very difficult to screw up as long as you are patient and attentive. Let’s get to the ingredients, shall we?

Gather:

*2 cups Arborio rice

*4 cups chicken stock

*2 1/2 cups white wine

*1 onion

*1 clove garlic

*1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

*a bunch of shrooms, whatever you can get. The wilder and fresher the better. In this case, I went with some fresh Brown Clamshells and Dried Wood Ear mushrooms. Get as exotic as you like here.

*at least 1 leek, more if you like it extra leeky.

*3 tablespoons butter

Pay Attention:

Chop your mushrooms to your desired size, this will vary depending what kind of forest bacon you have chosen. Sauté  your shrooms at high heat with a little butter and olive oil, maybe some salt and pepper, maybe some thyme, but don’t overdo it.

Finely dice onion, mince garlic.

Add chicken stock and wine to a pot and heat on low. Keep warm.

Add onion, garlic, butter, and rice to a medium sized pot, large enough that it will handle the ever-expanding risotto.

Sauté on medium-low heat until onions and rice are becoming translucent, but not browning.

Add a ladle of the stock & wine to the rice and stir constantly until it is absorbed.

At this point, it’s a matter of adding the liquid, one ladle at a time and stirring almost constantly. The slower you go and more you stir, the creamier and better your risotto will be. Don’t pour a bunch of liquid in and go watch Jeopardy (do people still watch Jeopardy?) or something and you should be fine. Total cooking time will be around 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, roast your leek whole, making sure to rinse it thoroughly beforehand.

When your risotto is about 2/3 done, add the mushrooms.

Wait until it is completely done to add the Parmigiano.

Roughly Chop leeks and put on top, toss a little extra cheese on there and bam, you have a damn impressive dish.

Word.

Bonus sexy parmigiano grating action shot.

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