Monday, May 30, 2016

Should I stay or should I go?

Hello Blog Pals!  I have to admit I am in a tough situation.  My roommates have discussed a hiking weekend coming up soon and there has been NOOOOOO discussion about bringing me along.  What do I do?
The good fox in me wants to wait to be properly invited. However, I was reading this quote from Katherine Hepburn, "If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun."  After reading that I figured I better go. 
Shhhh, don't tell anyone. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Canadian Geese Airlines

Looks like the preferred airline of stuffies is training new pilots.  When will these little ones be ready to fly?  I need a vacation.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Recipes from the contest.

Hello Blog Pals:
As promised here are the recipes from our contest.  The prizes went out in the mail recently so be sure to keep an eye out for them.

From the kitchen of Alexander McKenzie Bear
Definitely the right outfit for the ice fields. 

Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin (for the carnivorous)
2 pork tenderloins (they go on sale often sooo... not tooo expensive)
grill seasoning - we use Montreal Steak spice or something similar
6 slices bacon - sometimes we use turkey bacon in stead

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple juice (although we've used cranberry juice and orange juice in a pinch)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Heat oven to 400
Line a 13x9 inch baking dish with foil, spray with cooking spray

Rub tenderloins all over with seasoning blend, wrap with bacon and lay in dish. Put in oven for 30-40 minutes.

While pork is cooking, blend glaze ingredients in saucepan over medium heat, stirring until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.

After pork has baked for 30-40 minutes, brush it generously with glaze mixture and continue baking for 10 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes and then slice.

We sometimes make extra glaze as it makes a nice sauce to go with the pork. Super delicious. Slurp.

Spinach Dip (way better than store-bought)
(this is for Reindeer as I know he's vegetarian... but hopefully not vegan!)

1 pkg frozen chopped spinach (thawed and water squeezed out)
1 can artichoke hearts (chopped)
1/2 brick Philadelphia Cream Cheese (light)
250 ml container sour cream (sorry.. not sure what this is in oz! - it's the little container)
3-4 garlic cloves (crushed)

Have cream cheese at room temp.
Mash it with a fork in a big bowl. Add sour cream, spinach, garlic and artichoke hearts and mix vigourously.

Optional - add some dashes of parmesan/romano or asiago

Add a good bit of celery seed (enough so you can see it). A bit of salt and pepper to taste.
Top with some dashes of paprika.
Let chill in fridge.
Serve with dipping chips.

Dark Hot Chocolate (for Little Bears)
In a big 12 oz mug, add 1.5 Tbsp white sugar, 2 plump Tbsp cocoa powder. Add 1/4 cup milk and whisk vigrouously (I just spin the handle back and forth like I'm trying to make a fire with a stick). Just to make a slurry. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds. Do the whisk trick again. Fill mug with milk. Heat in microwave (ours would be 3 minutes, but more powerful microwaves probably need less time). Whisk again afterwards and add a splash of vanilla extract, or rum extract if you're Drunk Fox.

I like my hot chocolate less sweet but... some might want to add more sugar, to taste.
Relaxing in the kitchen. 

From Ajdin  
Banana Bread
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
3 medium-sized ripened bananas with brown-flecked peel, mashed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour milk

1.  Cream butter and sugar together thoroughly.  Add eggs and beat well.  Mix in bananas.
2.   Sift flour, baking soda and salt together.  Add alternately with sour milk to banana mixture.  Turn into a greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan and spread evenly.
3.  Bake at 350 degrees F about 1 hour or until bread tests done.

From the Mid-West studies of Jerry's corner and Cooking with Chef Ben and Friends
 Here is a quasi secret message - I hope my French is up to par with yours.  La recette de cookies qui vous avez partagé étaient délicieux. Merci de partager la recette Ben.
Ben's Chocolate-Peppermint Cookies
yield: about 3 dozen

1 ½ cup flour
½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon coarse salt
4 oz milk chocolate, chopped
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 ½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon pure peppermint extract
3 large eggs
45 round swirled peppermint candies, coarsely crushed

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Whisk together flour, cocoa, soda and salt, set aside.  Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Remove and add ysugar, extracts, and eggs; mix on medium-low speed until combined.  Mix in flour mixture.  Stir in 1/3 of the candies.  Refrigerate dough until firm, about 30 minutes.  Use 1 ½-inch ice cream scoop, form mounds of dough, dip tops into remaining candies.  Place mounds, candy sides up, on backing sheets lined with parchment paper, about 2 inches apart.  Bake until just set, about 15 minutes.  Let cool on sheets of paper on wire racks.  Cookies can be stored in air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

These cookies provided much needed energy for working in the garden. 
Jerry's Beary Favorite Chocolate Yummies
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablesppon softened butter, more to coat hands (or paws) when mixing
1 1/2 cup Rice Crispies cereal
6 oz chocolate bits (we prefer dark chocolate)
(you can also add 1/4 bar of paraffin wax if you want the chocolate to harden; we just keep our cookies in the fridge, so the paraffin is not needed)

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over simmering hot water. Mix peanut butter, powdered sugar and butter. Add Rice Crispies and stir together (you can use your paws to mix ). Form into small balls, dip each into the melted chocolate, use two forks to turn ball in the melted chocolate to make sure you coat the entire surface. Lift ball out of pan with the forks and place onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment or wax paper. When the sheet if full, place it into the refrigerator and chill until the chocolate surface hardens. Store in a tine between layers of parchment or wax paper; keep tin in the refrigerator.
It's great when Jake can stop by and visit. 

Jake's Special Cranberry Chicken Wraps

1 cup shredded cooked chicken breast
1 cup chopped apple
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons fat-free Miracle Whip, divided
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/8 teaspoon  mmmm dried rosemary, crushed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 whole wheat tortillas (8 inches), room temperature
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach

In a small bowl, combine the chicken, apple, 1/4 cup Miracle Whip, cranberries, feta cheese, rosemary and pepper. Spread remaining Miracle Whip over tortillas. Top with chicken mixture and spinach. Roll up and secure with toothpicks. Yield: 2 servings.

Ben's Spinach Pomegranate Salad

1 (10 ounce) bag baby spinach leaves, rinsed and drained
1/4 red onion, sliced very thin
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts (optional)
1 pomegranate, peeled and seeds separated
4 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette

Place spinach in a salad bowl. Top with red onion, walnuts, feta, and sprouts. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the top, and drizzle with vinaigrette.
Ben's Beary Delicious Curried Squash Soup
Yield: approximately 1 quart.

4 tbsp. butter
2 cup finely chopped yellow onions
4-5 teaspoons curry powder
2 medium butternut squash (3 lbs.)
2 apples (such as Granny Smith), peeled & chopped
3 cup chicken stock
1 cup apple juice
Salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter, add onions and curry and cook over low heat until onions are tender. Peel and cut squash. When onions are tender, pour in stock, add squash and apples and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes. Strain soup, reserve liquid and puree the solids, adding cooking stock until the puree is smooth. Return puree to pot, add apple juice and cooking stock until soup reaches desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Yield: approximately 1 quart.

Ben and Jerry's Poor Bears' Soup
Yield: appox. 1.5 quarts

1/2 lb hamburger
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
salt, pepper to taste
1.5 quarts water
2 small carrots, diced
1/4 head cabbage, cut up
2 medium tomatoes, cut up
1.5 tsp. beef bouillon powder or beef base

Combine hamburger, celery, onion, pepper and seasonings in a pot.  Cover and cook until redness is out of the meat.  Add water, remaining vegetables and bouillon and cook until vegetables are tender.  Other veggies may be added as well.

Ben's So Good and So Easy Party Meatballs

1 lb lean ground beef (we sometimes also use all ground turkey, or 1/2 beef 1/2 turkey combo)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/3 cup minced onion
1/4 cup skim milk
1 large egg
1 tablesppon chopped parsley
1 bottle (12 oz) chili sauce
1 jar (100 grams) grape jelly

Mix meat, crumbs, onion, milk, egg and parsley.  Form into 1-inch meatballs.  Brown meatballs; turn each a time or two to ensure browning on most sides.  In the meantime, heat chili and jelly over low heat until jelly is melted; mix well.  Add cooked meatballs to liquid and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.  Recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Final Results Recipe Contest

Hello Blog Pals,
This January I posted a recipe contest and got a lot of recipes from my friends Sandy, Jerry, Ben, and Ajdin.  My stuffy friends overwhelmed my kitchen staff with a ton of great recipes to make.  I got through most of them and I am saving the  recipes that are more "winter" based for next year being that it's May 7th today and I still haven't made it through all the recipes.

Here are the winners as judged by my expert team of judges.

Easiest preparation goes to Ben's party meatballs.  **Editor's note** if you use pre-made frozen meatballs this meal is even easier.  Drunk Fox also says this a great meal to enjoy with a beer, wine, something mixed from the bar.  This was a crowd favorite at the house.
You might notice there is not any dip visable for these party meatballs, that's because a certain fox who loves bar food (and shall remain nameless) could not get enough of the dip.  Time to restock.
Regional Favorite:  Congratulations are in order for Ajdin since his banana bread recipe won in the regional recipe category.  We are not sure what region banana bread come from but it was certainly a favorite for stuffies and humans alike.  Little Bear mentioned that the only way this could be better is with honey in it.  This was best when it was right out of the oven.  Great job Ajdin.
Stuffies waiting patiently for photo shoot to be over to devour this treat. 

Coolest named dish: Jake's special cranberry chicken wraps.  Big Bear chose this recipe for the coolest name, probably because it has the word "special" in it and he loves feta cheese.  Way to go Jake.
Jake, you should open a restaurant focusing in healthy California cuisine. 
Honorable mention: Ben's chocolate peppermint cookies.  These cookies were delicious.  The only thing that I would recommend is that the recipe would make more.  **Editor's note** this also wins in the honorable mention category because breaking the mints was beary therapeutic.
These were great and didn't last long at the house.  Humans and stuffies alike enjoyed this recipe. 
Little bears who live in cold climates seem to be dominating the recipe contest.  But Sandy wins the the budget category with his Bacon wrapped port tenderloin.  **Editors note** this is a budget meal because bacon and pork tenderloin are always on sale.  This also wins the category for stickiest paws with the apple juice and brown sugar sauce.

Kermit is very excited - good thing there was a bottle of wine to keep his steady. 

Regional Dish #2 also goes to Sandy for his spinach dip.  Reindeer appreciates the vegetarianness of this meal and Drunk Fox always likes a good appetizer/bar bite.  There were so many recipes to choose from we needed to add another category for regional dish. 

"Reindeer, would you like another wheat thin for this amazing dip?"
Judges Favorite:  The dish that won judges favorite was from....drumroll please....Chef Ben's pomegranate spinach salad with feta.  Everyone loved this dish.  Reindeer liked how you could make it vegetarian, drunk fox loved the chicken, and Little and Big Bear liked it because you could customize the salad to fit their needs (i.e. add smoked salmon or extra veggies or extra chicken).
Everyone loves a good salad.  Carnivores and vegetarians alike.

The panel of judges thanks everyone for their submissions.  If you are interested in the recipes I have attached all recipes from the 2016 contest here.  Now, I must get to the post office to send off the prizes for our winners.  Thanks again everyone!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

80 degree day, what to do?

I can't believe how nice the weather has been lately.  Today was 80 degrees!  My roommates packed a picnic lunch.  Chicken sandwich, tortilla chips, and string cheese.  When we arrived at the park, I claimed a picnic table but my roommates were having nothing with it.  They pulled out the backpacks and I realized our picnic was a lunch to eat along the trail (who would have guessed:)?
The wildflowers were out today.  I didn't bring my wildflower pamphlet but I am pretty sure these are delphiniums.  Jerry, do you have these plants in your garden?
Sequoia is waiting patiently (at least for him).  It would be nice if he looked at the camera but he wasn't in the mood to be photographed today. 
Time to do some more searching for wildflowers.  Let's see what I find.

These white flowers are nice.  Oh, is that Indian Paintbrush in the background?  Man, I am a lucky fox!!!!
Finally, we made it to the top
The river looks majestic today - a perfect spot for my lunch.  Speaking of lunch, where is it and why didn't my roommates pack a dessert?