Wednesday, July 27, 2011

College Favorites Food Fest-The Best Nachos and Wings

We have a visitor here, Ollie my friends sweet six year old Havanese. (He kind of had a hard time looking at the camera, I think he was looking for his Mom and Dad).

Ollie gets along great with everyone, he is a love.

He is staying with us for four days while his family attends freshman orientation at the University of Virginia.  Ollie's human brother will be attending the University in the fall.  This got me thinking about my own college experience, I attended the University of Buffalo.  I LOVED college, its where I met my wonderful husband and lots of good friends.   Its also where I stayed up all night eating a lot of delicious fattening college food, like Nachos and Buffalo Wings.   So in honor of my old college days I decided to make both of those tasty treats.

The Best Nachos (simplified version of Nachos on the Grill from Bobby Flay)


Salsa Verde  (I used one from Fresh Direct but any good green salsa will do, or make your own)

Tomato Relish
  • 8 plum tomatoes, halved
  • Olive oil for coating tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of the sauce that canned Chipotle Peppers come in
  • 1/2 Spanish onion chopped
 Rub the tomatoes with olive oil and grill on both sides on an outdoor grill or grill pan (a grill pan is easier) until charred.   Meanwhile, combine the other ingredients, whisking well.   Cool and chop the tomatoes and stir in to the relish.

Green Onion Cream
  • 8 ounces of cream fraiche or sour cream (cream fraiche is better, if you can't find it here is a link on how to make it)
  • 1 bunch green onions/scallion

Stir together.


8 ounces yellow corn tortilla chips
8 ounces blue corn tortilla chips
1 bunch scallions
8 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese
8 ounces sharp white cheddar

Place a cost iron skillet on a hot grill for five minutes or in a 424 degree oven.   Remove the skillet and put half chips in a cast iron skillet and top with half the cheese and then half the scallions and then repeat these layers.   Place the skillet back on the grill or in the oven and heat five to seven minutes.   Be careful the pan is HOT!

Buffalo Wings in The Oven From Ina Garten

I know without a doubt that the only really delicious wings in the world can be found in Buffalo.   The best ones are at Duffs.  No other wings compare, and trust me I have tried them.    Traditional wings of course involve deep frying oil and mess.    Here is a link to a recipe  from the Anchor Bar, supposedly the bar in which Buffalo Wings were invented (still not as good as Duffs).   Without a commercial fryer though the wings will never be that good so if you ask me its not worth the mess.  Sometimes though I still have the wings craving and since I can't make the eight hour drive to Buffalo I use this mess free recipe from Ina Garten.

  • 3 lbs chicken wings, if they are too large cut them at the joints
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 tsp Frank's Hot Sauce
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
Preheat broiler.  Melt butter in a measuring cup in the microwave and stir in the cayenne, hot sauce, and salt.   Put the wings in a bowl pour over the sauce making sure they are completely coated.  Place wings on a sheet pan and  broil 3 min, turn and Broil 4 minutes.

Blue Cheese Sauce
1 1/2 cups crumbled blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola
1 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tbsp milk
3/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and process to smooth.

Serve wings with sauce and celery sticks.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Owney The Postal Dog, A Good Luck Charm-A Historical Hounds Posting with Professor Ping and Saturday Pet Bloggers Blog Hop

Professor Ping here...

There is big news brewing in the world of historical hounds.  A legendary dog of merit is about to get his due.   Owney the postal dog is about to get his own commemorative stamp.   Owney was an adorable Heinze 57 mutt,


like our own dear Norbert.  The legend is that Albany postal workers found a puppy asleep in the mail bags in 1897. The historical accuracy of this is subject to some question though as another version of the story is that Owney was owned by a postal worker who then moved away and left him with the railway mail clerks.  Whatever his origins, one thing is clear, Owney loved the mail.  He traveled the country on railway mail trains acquiring a large collection of tags, badges, and medals along the way that he wore on a vest.   In fact he had such a large collection of tags that according to Bark Magazine he has become the mascot of the International Society of Animal License Collecting, who knew there is such a thing! I am sure Owney would be very flattered.

At the time he rode the rails, train travel was dangerous and wrecks where not infrequent.   Since no train Owney traveled on ever  had an accident he became known as a good luck charm and workers where always pleased to see him and have him accompany them on trips.

Owney even voyaged around the world on trains and barges leaving from Tacoma Washington and traveling through Asia before returning to Albany. 

Owney was retried in 1897 purportedly due to poor eyesight and old age.  Poor Owney did not take to retirement well and the story is that he snuck onto a train again and while being mistreated bit a postal worker.    His death was very tragic, the result of a gun shot wound on July 11, 1897.  The circumstances are unknown, possibly he bit someone else while being mistreated.   After Owney's death postal workers raised money to have his body preserved by a taxidermist so he could be displayed at the Post Office head quarters in Washington, D.C.  In 1911 his body was moved to the Smithsonian Postal museum and can be seen there to this day: 

Owney's stamp

will be available for sale on July 27 and our mom will be in line to buy some.  I suggest you tell your moms and dads to by some too.  Its a fitting remembrance for a fascinating canine and a great addition to all of their snail mail.

Today is also Saturday Pet Bloggers Blog Hop--Click the linky tool below to see some great pet blogs:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

10 Commandments for Seniors

With Norbert's 9th birthday passed I am now living in a house filled with senior dogs.  Four of my five hounds are over the age of 7 and there are definitely more gray and white hairs on my guys.

Its hard not to hear the tick tick of time passing when I look at them.   All of us who share our lives with dogs know about the inevitability of loss.   Part of the wonder of dogs is they show us how to face our own mortality.  If we are luck watch them go through a version of our life span in 10 or 15 years, from puppy to adolescent to adult to senior. Dogs of course live in the moment, something most of us humans need to get better at.

In the last few years Ive read quite a bit about senior dogs and these are the ten things I think are the most important for insuring your dog enjoys their golden years (please remember I'm no expert, just mom to some great older dogs and cats.)

1) A quality diet: Of course this is important for every age but older dogs and cats in particular need quality nutrition.   Many of the popular senior diets are actually  not ideal for pets, for example they reduce the protein, when in actuality older dogs and cats need even more protein then their younger counterparts.   I believe every dog owner should have a subscription: Whole Dog Journal if only to read their yearly dog food review.  I personally will only feed foods they recommend to my dogs and casts.   Among the kibbles they recommend are Natures Variety, Blue Buffalo, Merrick, Canidae, and Wellness.   They also recommend several varieties of premade raw (Natures Variety, Stella and Chewys) and freeze dried foods such as the Honest Kitchen.   I feed my little guys (Tubby, Ping, and Zira) Natures Variety Raw or Honest Kitchen.  Unfortunately both of those foods are cost prohibitive for my big guys and so I feed them a rotation diet of quality grain free kibbles (Wellness, Canidae, Natures Variety, etc).  The kitties also eat a rotation diet of quality kibbles.

2)  Add some love to the food with fresh additions: I know this really connect with number 1, but since most pet parents  feed kibble (as I do with my big guys) I think its important.   You can cook up some doggie stews with fresh meats and veggies or if you are pressed for time you can add canned sardines in water, yogurt,  or a lightly cooked egg.   Or you can make a very simple stir fry.

The one pictured above is made with ground turkey, summer squash, and blueberries (blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants.) By adding fresh foods to the kibble you make it healthier and more appetizing and you don't have to take as much care to balance the diet as you would with an entirely home made diet.  Of course if you are not the cooking type you can also add some raw meat to your dogs diet, there are lots of good internet resources like this article from Dog aware about feeding your dog raw.

3) Supplements: I am a big believer in supplements to the point that I have to work really  hard to stop myself from buying every doggie tonic on the market.  However, I still give quite a few supplements and I also try to rotate the supplements, just as I rotate the kibbles.  These days my seniors are taking Dr Harvey's Golden Years.  All of the dogs get fish oil every day, I use salmon oil from Olive Green Dog because it comes in a large cost effective size.   Everyone also get glucosamine, I buy  Glycoflex 3 from   Other supplements I give the dogs include milk thistle for the liver, curcumin for antioxidant properties, and hawthorne berry powder for the heart.  I get these herbs from mountain rose herbs which is cheaper then many other sources.   I also give Bob Barley Dog a green foods supplement since he is a grass eating addict and Dr. Zira gets Vetri Science renal essentials since she has early stage kidney disease. 

4.) Regular vet visits-every 6 months.   All my dogs and cats over 7 go to the vet every 6 months for complete blood work and a thorough physical exam.   I think this helps catch anything early, caught early many life threatening disease are treatable.

5) Specialist vets.  You wouldn't go to a general practitioner if you had a specific health problem, and neither should your dog.   Veterinary medicine has exploded in recent years and there are specialists for everything.   They may not be cheap but their expert knowledge is well worth it.

6) Exercise. I admit it  I can be a bit of a sloth.  When I picture the perfect dog human relationship I don't see myself jogging down the street with my canine companion, I see myself curled up on the couch with them reading a book or watching TV.  That's not to say I don't love walking my dogs, I do.    I really believe all dogs need some exercise even if its just a walk around the park,  no matter what the age.   Exercise is just as important for mental stimulation as it is for physical health.   People who exercise regularly have a lower incidence of Alzheimer's and it stands to reason that active senior dogs will have a lower incidence of canine cognitive disorder.   Even if a dog is too old to walk you can put them in a stroller--here is a picture of the late sweet Bingo out in his stroller in Hoboken.

7.) Toys:  Older dogs like their toys too:  Here is a picture of Norbert playing with his baby brother Bob in our back  yard:

Planet dog makes a line of toys just for older dogs called old souls with contrasting colors to help older dogs see them.  I have not tried these toys out myself yet, thankfully all my older guys seem to see just fine, but I bet my older guys might be getting them soon.  

 8.) Read a good book about dogs getting older:  Well this is for the pet parent not the dog,  but you could try reading to your dog for some nice one on one time.  My two favorite books about older dogs are the photography book Old Dogs are The Best Dogs


and the memoir Dog Years by the poet Mark Doty.  The first book is wonderful for its beautiful photographs of greying canine faces and the little blurbs that accompany them telling you all about the dogs fascinating lives.  The second book is my favorite and is a memoir not just about older dogs and loss, but about life and loss in general.   In the book Mark Doty writes about losing his partner to aids, and how his dogs Beau and Arden help him deal with the enormity of that loss.  He then writes about his life with the dogs and his new partner, Paul.   Since he is a poet his writing is particularly beautiful.  Much of the book deals with his dogs aging and passing and I found it particularly moving, but not overly sentimental.   Reading the book really helped me understand my own older dogs and feel better about their aging.

9.) Inspiration: Check out these gorgeous photos by artist Nancy Levine from her photo project Senior Dogs Across America.  Many of the dogs are in their late teens, one is 21!  Or read this wonderful story from Bark magazine about Muttville a California based senior dog rescue group celebrating the adoption of their 1,000 dog.  
10.) Appreciation: This is the most important tip of course.  Don't forget to cherish every single day with your dog. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award

I am so honored that One Pibbles Wish gave me the Versatile Blogger Award.  Before I pass the award on I am supposed to tell you seven things about myself (sorry if its a bit dull)

1).  I always wanted a dog as a kid but my mom is afraid of them.  When I got married my mom and dad gave us Tubby as a wedding present, that was 10 years ago.

2).  My cat Baby was my first pet as an adult.  I had two cats, Munchkin and Cleo, growing up.   My husband and I got Baby when we moved to Brooklyn after we graduated from college.  She is now 11 years old.

3.) My favorite yearly event in Manhattan is Meet the Breeds.  

4.) I am a terrible driver, however, I do like bicycles.  I ride my folding commuter bike from Bike Friday to work every day.  I ride to the train station in Jersey City, fold it, and then get of in Manhattan and unfold it and ride it to the school I teach at.  Now that I am on summer break I ride it for fun.

5.) I love to eat and I'm always trying new restaurants.  My favorite thing about New York is definitely the food.

6.) I'm a science fiction and fantasy nerd and have a big collection of my favorite shows and movies on DVD.  If I like them I can watch them a 100 times  I am very excited about the new Harry Potter movie.  

7.) One of my dogs is a rescue, one is a semi-rescue (she was returned to the breeder), and three are from breeders.   I support responsible breeding and rescue.  Bob my bulldog comes from red brick bulldogs and his breeder is really terrific.   

There are lots of wonderful blogs so its  hard to pick 7 to pass this on too, but here it goes:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Happy Bastille Day! (Plus Doggie Dining Take 6 Madame Claude's in Jersey City)

We are really more of an Anglophile bunch as is befitting the family of the world's cutest English Bulldog (as proven by his baby picture below):

See the cutest English Bulldog ever!

Even so whats not to love about France great food, great fashion, great culture all around. Plus Tubby does have this shirt:

Its a little hard to read but it says: "I'm Not French But I Kiss That Way" and boy is is it true!

Anyway even though we live in New Jersey miles from France, and even though mom and dad will never get to go to Paris (too many vet bills, and they wouldn't want to leave us behind anyway) we are all lucky that there are some nice french restaurants in the area.  A few weeks ago mom and dad took Ping too one for of them for breakfast: Madame Claude's.  Here are some pictures of Ping with mom at the restaurant:

The food was very yummy.  Mom had a crepe with lamb sausage and cream fraiche

and dad had eggs benedict.

Ping enjoyed tasting the lamb sausage and the ham from the benedict, but she wasn't too crazy about the mesclun salad:


more ham and sausage please!

Since we can't all fit at Madame Claude's mom decided to make us a special Beef Buorginon (minus the Bourginon since we can't have wine) kibble topper for dinner.   Here is the recipe:

Beef Bourginon Kibble Topper


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1b ground beef
  • 1 zucchini chopped or sliced
  • 1 28 oz can whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
Heat the olive oil in  a large pot over medium heat.  Add the ground beef and stir until it is browned.  Add the zucchini and stir and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the plum tomatoes, broth, and broccoli and stir well.  Cook the stew for about 30 minutes, cool and use as a kibble topper. Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday--The Felines of Urban Hounds

"When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction." Mark Twain

Above a quote from my favorite author--below pictures of my three favorite felines

Monday, July 11, 2011

Norbert's Birthday Recipes

So as I posted on the weekend that it was Norbert's 9th birthday so we had to have a nice party.   Above are the celebrants waiting for their cake:

Norbert's Meatloaf Cake

1 1lb ground turkey
1/2 cup oat meal (uncooked)
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 10 oz package chopped spinach
4 sheets of nori (japanese seaweed kelp) crumbled (kelp is very good for dogs)
1 tomato, chopped
2 eggs beaten
1 to 2 cups cottage colored with food coloring

Preheat oven to 350.  Stir together all the meatloaf ingredients.  Bake in the oven for about an hour until done.  Cool and frost with the cottage cheese.

Of course you can't have a part without presents.   Norbert got a nice haul

He got a green scarf with his name embroidered on it that says: 100% pure mutt.

from  Pure Mutt a great online store that caters to wonderful mixed breeds like Norbert. 

Then from our favorite online toy store Olive Green Dog he got a Squirrel toy 

and a cool retro duck:

Of course there were some nice freeze dried organic treats too, (Norbert is very picky.)  He got liver kisses and raw naturals chicken bites.

It was also Norbert's Dad's birthday this weekend, 33 years old.  So he had to have a special dinner and cake too.  Here are the human friendly recipes:

Birthday Steak with Asian Flavor (from Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer)

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 cloves minced garlic
1 and a 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and minced
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
5 scallions chopped

2 lbs top round steak (in one piece is best)

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a heavy duty zip lock bag and marinate over night.

Spray a griddle pan with non stick spray and heat pan it over med high heat for five minutes until very hot.  Grill the meat apoximately 8 minutes per side, or longer if you want it more well done.

Dipping Sauce:

5 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 minced garlic gloves
2 thai chilies seeded and chopped
1 inch piece of ginger seeded and chopped

Stir the sauce ingredients together and serve with the steak.

Tres Leches Cake-Norbert's Dad's favorite Cake

1 package cake mix (I used Duncan Hines moist deluxe)
1 cup heavy cream
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup rum

Prepare the cake according to package directions, but use milk instead of water.   After the cake comes out of the oven cool it and then poke all over with a fork.  Stir together the cream and milks and rum in a large measuring cup and pour slowly over the cake.  Refrigerate several hours or over night.

Top with sweetened whipped cream, shredded coconut, and pineapple chunks.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dining with DogsTake 5-Norbert's 9th Birthday Visit to the Bagel Smashery in Hoboken

Question: Whats better then a bagel?

Answer:  A smashed Bagel!

Everyone knows that New Yorkers, and those in the vicinity of New  York, love their bagels and Norbert is no different.  That is one reason why we decided that as part of his 9th birthday treat he deserved a solo trip to the Bagel Smashery in nearby Hoboken.   

The smashery takes bagels, and you guessed it, smashes them making them all the more warm and delicious.  They have lots of special treats like the  peanut butter and chocolate pictured at the start of this post and meatball Parmesan, but they also have more classic choices like plan old cream cheese and egg and cheese.   Norbert got cheddar cheese smashed up on a plain bagel, his dad got egg and bacon, and I got strawberry and cream cheese on a poppy seed bagel.  Norbert loved his bagel (and he is a very pick eater):

He washed it down with some water (never forget water on a warm summer morning), you can see the outdoor table at Bagel Smashery is the perfect height for Norbert

After his bagel treat we went for a walk along the Hoboken water front.  We saw lots of happy urban hounds (pugs, pit bulls, labs, english bulldogs, brussels griffons, chihuahuas, yorkies, daschunds, etc.).  The view of the skyline was pretty nice too: