Thursday, August 25, 2011

Homemade Dog Treats

I was making a cake tonight for a co-worker's birthday tomorrow.  She requested Apple-Cream cheese Bundt Cake - which calls for 3 cups (1 1/2 lb) of finely chopped apples. It seems to me that every time I try to purchase exactly the amount of fruit that I need for a recipe like this, that I end up with not enough or too much.  It was too much in this case.  I had 1.5 lb of Gala apples. . .which made about 4 1/2 c of finely chopped apples.  What to do with my quickly browning cubes of Gala?  Well, it's not in my calorie budget for today to eat them. . .although I would love to. . . how about homemade dog treats?

"Dog treats?" you may be thinking.  Yes, dog treats.  Let me 'splain.

My dog has 2 kong toys.  A "puppy" kong and a regular kong.  After she was a year old, I saw a regular kong for a great price and bought it for her.  I assumed that she had grown out of her puppy kong - as per the instructions.  I was wrong.  The puppy kong has special use.  It is more flexible than the regular and can fit treats that the regular kong cannot.  Enter:  Frozen Yogurt Dog Bites from The Hillbilly Dog Company (My designer dog company. . .a.k.a.  anything I make for my dog).

Here we go.  Tonight, I took my leftover apple dices, some yogurt (I normally use regular plain, but I only had plain Greek), and some peanut butter.

If I had to guess, I would say a cup of apples, 1/2 c. yogurt, and 1/4 c. peanut butter.

Mix it all up . . .and mold.  Here is my dog treat ice cube tray that I use. . .because the size fits into the kong nicely. . .and I love hearts.

And here is my molding process. . .when I use regular plain yogurt, the process is a little smoother. . .
P.S.  The silicone mold is nice. . .the treats pop out easier than I would imagine them to do in a traditional hard-plastic mold.

Then we put them in the freezer.  When I make these, I normally end up doing 2-3 freezing batches.

Here are my frozen treats from another recipe:

I believe I used regular plain yogurt, cranberries, and banana.

Well, the cake is smelling good. . .I suppose I should go check on it!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Love Them

Recently, there was someone who did something to hurt my feelings . . .intentionally.  I think that is the worst thing.  A lot of times, people hurt us, but for me, it is easier when I can give them the benefit of the doubt that they really didn't mean to hurt me.

So, as I was dwelling on it later in the day (as I am prone to be a deep thinker), I began to pray about the situation - knowing that I can not change the other person, but I can change myself . . .and needed help doing so.

I was very frustrated as I was praying, "Lord, help me to. . ." - and before I could even think of the word I had meant to put in there (you know, "teach her a lesson" or "ignore her" or "get back at her" :) ), the Holy Spirit put the words into my prayer, "love her."

My flesh screamed, "That's not what I wanted to say!" But I knew that was what I needed to do.  I needed to love her - like Jesus would.  Jesus, Who, when He was tortured and nailed to a cross said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

And I remembered a portion of scripture I have been ruminating on.  Romans 8:26-27.  "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought:  but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit knew what I needed to pray.  I am so thankful that He is here to help me with everyday living.  I am so thankful that He will not only help me pray, but will also make intercession for me with "groanings which cannot be uttered. . .according to the will of God."  I do not know God's will for my whole life, but at that moment, the will of God was to love my neighbor as myself.

I was further helped to understand the big picture (instead of my small pinhole of sight into the situation) when I went to church last night.  My husband was preaching (he is my favorite preacher!) about unity in the church.  He said, "You must have teamwork to make the dream work."  He continued to explain when everyone has their own agenda, no one will get along, but when we have the same agenda and goal, we will be able to make our dream work.  I realized at that point that the reason this person was not very nice to me was that she had her own agenda.  It was not my agenda, and as far as I could tell was not my authority's agenda.  When I realized that, I was okay with her being hurtful.  I was helped.  Everything was okay.

"Our Father which art in heaven, 
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done
in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, 
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil:  
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory,
for ever.

Matthew 6:9-13

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Friday Night Pizza

Every (mostly) Friday night, we eat pizza.  I have to admit. . . it is
pre-t-t-y good.  I thought I should share a few secrets.

Secret #1:  Bread-maker.  
I used to think that I didn't need one. Until I found mine at $30 and couldn't say no.  I am in love - still.  My favorite feature is that I can set my bread-maker so that my dough is ready at exactly the right moment.  When I am at home, I can set it and know that in 1 hour and 40 minutes, I will have pizza dough.  That frees my mind to concentrate on other important items. . .like my to-do list.

Secret #2:  Chicago-style pizza. . .dough.
I follow King Arthur Flour's blog.  One day, a while ago, they posted about Chicago Deep Dish Pizza.  I tried it and fell in love.  I altered their recipe a tad (I don't care for cornmeal so I sub extra flour).

Secret #3:  My version of semi-homemade pizza sauce.
I'm not too keen on just going to the store and picking up any old pizza sauce - although that will do in a pinch, I agree.  Over my short pizza-making career, I have discovered our favorite pizza sauce.  It would probably be a little healthier than just a jar of pizza sauce. . .unless it were maybe organic pizza sauce.

Melodie's Semi-Homemade Pizza Sauce
2 cans of DICED tomatoes (I like the kind that were canned with basil, oregano, and garlic)
1 can of tomato PASTE
Red Pepper Flakes

1.  Open all cans.  Drain diced tomatoes.
2.  Put everything into your food processor.

3.  Process until smooth.  Use and/or store.

Secret #4:  Pizza stone.

My pizza in pictures. . .
Pre-bake for 6 minutes @ 425 F

Add Sauce

Add Cheese

Add Pepperonis

Add Parmesan Cheese

Bake for 13 minutes @ 425 F

All I can say is, "YUM!"

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Are you nice?

On Saturday, Josh and I went to a teacher store and an office supply store.  In both places I heard little ones talk.  They are so cute.  When we were at the teacher store, there was a little boy.  His mom's car was parked next to ours.  I was waiting for her to get her little troupe ready before I could get into my car - so I struck up a conversation.

Me:  Are you helping your mom?
Little Boy:  Yes, ma'am.
Me:  You sure are a good helper.
Little Boy:  Yes, ma'am.  I'm cool in my glasses and hat.  I'm four.

I told Josh about the conversation later.  We were talking about how as adults, we just think things.  Little kids just say them.

When we were in the office supply store, there was a three-year-old little girl.  She just walked up to a lady and asked, "Are you nice?" Ha. She ran back to her mother, and everyone smiled.  How cute.

But again, little kids only say what we are thinking in our heads. In our heads, we ask that question all the time.  But let me switch it up. "AM I NICE?"  Am I nice only when I feel like being nice - or only when someone is nice to me?  Am I nice when someone is not being nice to me?  Am I nice to someone I don't know?  Am I nice to their face, but not nice behind their back?  Am I nice?

Think about it.  Is there somewhere in your life you need to work on beeing . . .nice. . .er?  Just remember the little three-year-old girl with curly red hair bouncing up to you with an important question, "Are you nice?"

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Have you had a bad day?

I've been contemplating the topic of mercy for quite a while.  I have felt that it needed more definition than I was giving it.  Nothing was working together.  But today, it came to me.

Josh and I tease with Daisy.  For her birthday, we give her "mercy credits" - for all of the things she has destroyed. . .i.e. glasses, furniture, computer cords, things like that. Our definition of mercy?  Not "making a hat" out of her for the things that she has done wrong. (The "making a hat" came from a time when she was young and got into more things.  Josh would say that he was going to make a coat out of her. . . but she only weighed about 6 pounds at the time. . .so he amended to "making a hat" out of her. :) )

Another definition of mercy I had to learn after living in the south for a while.  Southerners really do live life at a different place.  I work in a very easy-going environment.  You get there when you get there (within reason, of course!)  This morning, I overslept.  Not too much, but enough to be late to work.  I left my house 10 minutes later than I should have, and my gas tank was on empty.  I called my boss to tell him that I was running about 15 minutes late.  He said, "Oh, no problem.  Take your time.  Be careful.  Just get here when you can."  Ha.  I have never been employed by someone like that.  I do feel that I do give my all while I am at work, and if I am late like today, I do stay over to make up the time, but still.  His definition of mercy?  I know you made a mistake and I trust you to do what you should.

A few minutes after I disconnected my phone call, I remembered that I had left my debit card at home.  "That's okay."  I thought to myself.  "I have my checkbook."  Now, I just wrote a check yesterday. . .but when I was at the gas station and looked in my purse. . .it was no where to be found.  And I HAD to have gas to get to work.  I had two dollars.  I needed ten dollars worth of gas to get to work and back.  So I went to the gas station manager and told him my situation.  I told him that if there was any way to allow me to get some gas, I could bring cash back on my way home, since I had my drivers' license, I could get cash at the bank.  He said, "Sure.  I'll put it in, so you will owe it to me.  Just bring it by later." {SIGH} Thank you!  And I went on my merry way.  His definition of mercy?  You made a mistake, but I will cover for you.

And what of God's mercy for us?  I won't make a hat out of you. :)  I know you make many mistakes.  I trust you to do what you should.  It's okay. And You make mistakes, but I will cover for you.

P.S.  My worst morning was right after we got Daisy last year.  I was running a little late.  Josh was taking Daisy to the groomer.  I was opening the refrigerator and spilled grape juice concentrate all over myself, Daisy, and the kitchen floor.  That's okay.  I'll clean myself and Daisy up now and get the kitchen floor later.  So Josh and Daisy left.  I finished getting my things together and went outside. . .dismayed to see only Josh's truck.  I forgot he took my car because it has air and he had the dog.  That's okay.  I just like my car better.  So I was driving down the road and realized that I needed to adjust the rear-view mirror so that I can see. (I am shorter than Josh. :) )  As I was adjusting it, it just broke off.  That's okay.  Josh can fix it later.  I drive 30 miles one way to work.  It seemed that all of the people were driving five miles underneath the speed limit and I could not pass them. That's not okay. Once I got into the city where my work is, I was at a red light.  The light turned green.  I started to go. . .but the truck in front of me was not as speedy as I was. :)  I bumped into his bumper.  I started to cry.  I tried not to, but I couldn't help it at that point.  He got out of his truck, saw that no damage was done, said, "It's okay, let's go."  And we were both back on the road. . .apparently, he was late too. :)  I had a good day the rest of that day. . .but that was a rough hour!