Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm fairly certain...

that this will never be mistaken for a cooking blog, but this one was too good not to share.

It's taken me almost 35yrs but I've figured out that I really like cook. Baking (bread, in particular) is like therapy for me. And trying to keep the dog hair out of everything...well, that's sometimes a challenge. I figure it's like the baby in a King Cake...having the hair in your slice is a sign of good things to come. Or projectile vomitting...depending on how you feel about dog hair in your food. But I digress...

Chocolate Cheesecake (recipe adapted from AllRecipes Chocolate Cheesecake II, changes noted in red):

1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs **Oreos with the filling removed**
2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

**I omitted the ingredients that made the topping (bad reviews) and used the chocolate ganache recipe that follows.**

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F ( 175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9 inch springform pan. **I used a mini muffin pan and cooking spray.**

In a small bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar, and melted butter. Press onto the bottom and 1 1/2 inch up the sides of the prepared 9 inch springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 minutes. Allow to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). **I pressed a spoonfull of crumbs into each mini muffin cup and cut the baking time to 5min**

To Make Filling: In a small saucepan, heat 1/4 cup whipping cream and 1/4 cup chocolate chips, stirring constantly, until chips are melted. Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar until smooth. Add cocoa and beat well. Add eggs and beat on low until just blended. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and reserved chocolate mixture until blended. Pour over crust. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 45 to 50 minutes or until center is almost set. **I filled each mini muffin cup to the top with filling and baked for 20 minutes.**

This recipe made 48 mini cheesecakes.

Chocolate Ganache (recipe adapted from AllRecipes Chocolate Ganache, changes noted in red):

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped **I used semi-sweet chips**
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon dark rum (optional) **I substituted my homemade vanilla extract**

Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the rum if desired.

Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over a cake. Start at the center of the cake and work outward. For a fluffy frosting or chocolate filling, allow it to cool until thick, then whip with a whisk until light and fluffy. **I spooned the ganache onto each mini cheesecake and refridgerated overnight.**

**NOTE: I used less than HALF the ganache for the cheesecakes - next time I'll just half the recipe**

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

He's Mr. April!!!

I got an email a few weeks back from one of my adopters regarding the 2009 Purina Celebrity Charity Pet Calendar that comes out each year in the winter issue of Animal Fair magazine. After WEEKS of hunting, I found three copies at a local Books-a-Million last night:

Mr. April (along with Piper Perabo) is our former foster puppy Wally!! He's the BIG little guy that was abandoned by his family and was living underneath their empty trailer. He was adopted in April 2006 and calls a penthouse apartment (with Perabo's manager) in Manhattan home now...quite an improvement I'd say.

The tiny text underneath Piper Perabo's name gives the mailing address, contact information and website for our rescue group - that's HUGE!!!

You've come a LONG way baby!

Friday, January 9, 2009

*sigh* Oh Ralphie.

We're really trying to break this habit...but it was too funny not to tape it at least once!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

And just like that...

she's gone. One month after diagnosis. Rest well Maxine - you'll be dearly missed.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

8/1/1992 - 1/6/2007

We'll see you again Pepper. In the blink of an eye.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Instead of getting upset this year...

about not being able to get a family photo for my Christmas cards...I used a Snapfish layout that allowed me to use individual pictures of each dog. Paid a little too much for them, but I love the way they turned out! And most of them even went out on time!

Clockwise from top left, that's CiCi, Mazie, Frankie, Veronica, Lily, Marley and Ralphie.

2008's adoptions

1. Valentine - adult female pit bull mix. Poor Val had a litter of puppies, had them taken from her at 4-6wks and was dumped at my vet's office.

She needed a quiet place to recover from her ordeal...and I think it's been established that my house is anything but quiet. A friend in Chicago offered to foster Val...she's still in Chicago :-) She has a great mom and dad and a brother named Gizi - I still get updates and she's doing really well.

2. Dudley -young male pit bull mix. Dudley was one of Val's pups.

Strangely enough, Dudley is in Chicago as well. His new family drove all the way to Birmingham just to meet him and he made the big move the same weekend. Dudley has two sisters, Izzy and Mabel - both bully-mixes as well. He's a lucky boy!

3. Ruby - young female Dachshund-mix. We pulled Miss Ruby from our local animal control thinking, "Oh she's small and young...she'll be adopted fast!" FIVE MONTHS LATER Ruby found her family! Ruby now lives in New Orleans :-)

4. Ralphie - adult male pit bull. Okay, okay, WE adopted Ralphie...but it's not like we turned a lot of other people down. Their loss = my gain. By far.

He's a fantastic breed ambassador - he starts Level III obedience next week and we're working toward his therapy dog certification.

5. Meatball - adult male domestic medium hair. Meatball was our "neighborhood cat" who moved into our front bathroom last winter when the temps dropped below freezing.

Meatball's new family includes his mom, and four sisters (one human, one feline, two canine). He's a sweet boy and he deserves this happy ending.

6. Shirley - young female Lab-mix. I got Shirley and her sister Laverne for free at Walmart. It's amazing what you can find there, really! I can only hope the other seven puppies in the litter are being cared for properly.

Shirley stayed in the Birmingham area and has two (human) sisters who love to dress her up in their dolls' clothes.

7. Laverne - young female Lab-mix. Shirley's sister. Laverne was adopted by an incredible family in Connecticut - she made the big move just before Christmas and has been adjusting to the snow ever since!

And last but certainly not least...

8. Riley - adult male Lab. Riley is the pup that was abandoned by his family and turned out to be hw+. He's still living in my sewing room, but just until he completes his heartworm treatment. An adopter has been approved for him so as soon as he gets the all clear from the vet, Riley will be headed to Rhode Island!