Monday, March 18, 2013

Sweet Potato Chicken Mash for a Pup's Upset Tummy

It's not often Misty gets to partake of my kitchen handiwork. But, when she gets sick, she gets to enjoy the same home-cooking any other family member would benefit from.

Poor little Misty has more issues than any dog I know. In fact, she's more of a handful then our new baby, in some ways. We're talking about a pooch who's got her very own (very full) shelf in the medicine cabinet. She's had it all, from ear infections and allergies, to tick bites (ehrlichia) and montezuma's revenge (giardia).

Speaking of the latter, almost all dogs are going to experience some tummy trouble from time to time. The first thing my vet's office advises is to give her chicken and rice and call back in a couple days if she hasn't improved. Sweet potatoes and canned pumpkin are also good for the runs. And, from my own experience with Misty, you also have to make sure your little friend drinks plenty of water to replace any lost on her "runs" outside. Easier said than done, especially in Misty's case. Seeing her with a fluid injection (looks like a blobby hump on her back) once was enough to make me do anything to get fluids into her since.

Misty is also the only dog I know who could care less for food and treats. When we adopted her, she would eat on her own schedule, no matter what we did. Even if that meant eating once every two days. We tried scheduled meals, leaving food down for 2 hours at the same times every day. But she continued to starve herself. We had to, and still do sometimes, hold her food bowl up to her nose and coax her to please eat.

She's eventually gotten better about eating, but it has to be on her own terms. So we've become the people that leave the food out all day, and just gave up on stressing about her weird habits. She fits into our family so well in every other way, but she just doesn't enjoy food like the rest of us.

The one exception however, is fresh chicken. It's magical. So when she is feeling ill, she gets her very own fresh chicken to entice her to eat and settle her tummy. I've tried adding pumpkin and sweet potato in the past, but she will only pick the chicken out. I'm reading up on homemade baby food, so I must have purees overloading my brain. Why shouldn't Misty get her own "baby food"?

Misty has been having a tough time dealing with the bad weather lately, and to top it off this morning we had an emergency run outside at 5am that lasted 30 brutal minutes. As I cooked my own lunch, I decided to make her a special meal. I blended the sweet potato with the chicken so she couldn't separate the two. It worked awesome - she loved it so much. And she licked up every last bit of that sweet potato, since it was so intermingled with chicken she had no choice. So far, it's doing the trick and she's feeling much better.

Sweet Potato Chicken Mash for Dogs
makes 4-5 cups

2 large chicken breast halves (boneless, skinless)
1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut into 2" chunks
Pinch of salt

Heat oven to 400F. In a baking dish, place chicken and sweet potatoes. Season with just a pinch of salt. Cover with foil and bake 1 hour. Cool at least 15 minutes, and cut the chicken into small pieces.

In a food processor, add chicken, potatoes, a couple spoonfuls of the liquid from the baking dish and about 1/2 C water. Puree until well blended, just for a few seconds, to combine potatoes and chicken. 

Doggy sit! Serve with love!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Which Came First: The Chicken, Or The Deviled Egg?

I'm very behind on posting here lately. Life has been just too eventful, too busy, in both good and bad ways. But, I promised myself that I would post my new Chicken Deviled Eggs before Easter. So I'm squeezing in 15 minutes to quickly share this recipe I concocted back in January, for my "meet the baby" day.

Scroll straight to the recipe below, if you have as little free time as me. I won't be offended.

Friends who follow Libra Loves are always asking how can I possibly manage to keep the blog up. I must be pretty organized, pretty amazing. Truthfully, I don't feel amazing at all - I've hardly been keeping up! Now, when I do post, the turnaround from creation to publish is muuuuuuch longer.

In my pre-baby freedom days, I would spend time researching, perfecting, and experimenting with foods. Recipe and procedure would be noted simultaneously. As dinner time neared, I'd get out a fancy dish, maybe a few props (although not as many as I aspire to use). Food would be plated, photographed and eaten. Kitchen would be cleaned (or my husband would help). And then my lovely functional noggin would craft some sort of back story to be written up within the next day or so, and everything would come together on the blog rather quickly.

I'm already feeling long-winded, and precious time is slipping by as I write...

Long story short, posting takes much longer on a baby's schedule. I get 15 or 30  minutes to myself here or there during the day, which usually are used up taking care of my needs - eat, sleep, shower. Or Misty's needs - eat, walk, poop. Or cleaning the house, half a task at a time. So dinner is often something quick, easy, a tried-and-true standby, and prepared and eaten whenever the baby falls asleep (and stays asleep). Don't get me wrong, my husband helps a lot, and is the only reason I ever get to post at all.

I do get bored eating the same things all the time, though, and naturally I try to keep things interesting. Once in a while, I manage to muster creativity from my foggy brain, have an extra cup of coffee and skip a nap, and throw together something new. If we are not starving, and the baby isn't crying, I manage a quick unglamorous photo to remind me what I'd done. I forget things a lot these days, so I do try to write something down within the next day or two, about how I made the dish. And then, sometime in the next few weeks, or months, I upload the photos to my computer, eventually re-touch, eventually type up the recipe, and finally insert all components into my blogger form.

Unfortunately, long-story-short is not one of my strong skills.

The short story of the chicken deviled eggs is that I only set out to make a few snacks for an afternoon of visitors. I could have made normal deviled eggs, but I wanted them to be extra filling and healthy to make the most of a limited spread. So instead of packing them with mayo and yolks, I decided to fill them with chicken salad. Low carb, high protein finger food. They were a hit!
(I know you are curious - the other major snack was pizza-bites: small balls of dough filled with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Thus the eggs to balance out the hot, high-carb snack.)

Chicken Deviled Eggs
In short, these are simply hard boiled eggs, filled with finely chopped chicken salad using a little bit of yolk in the mix. You could take that idea and run wild with it, but I kept the ingredients simple and minimal to save time. This takes 30-45 minutes, depending on your egg-peeling skills (mine are not so good, but the fresher the eggs the more luck you'll have).

1 dozen large eggs
1/2 lb chicken breast, cut into strips
1-1/2 C chicken stock, or 1-1/2 C water with 2 packets of chicken bouillon (2 tsp)
1/2 C celery, finely chopped
1/4 C light mayonnaise
seasoning salt (Mrs. Dash)
salt & pepper
dried parsley or dill

1. Hard cook eggs: place in pan, cover with cold water and set on high heat. Bring to a boil, cover and then remove from heat and let set 15 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to peel. Cut each egg in half and remove yolks and set aside.

2. While eggs are cooking, bring chicken stock to a boil in a shallow pan or skillet. Add chicken, cover, and poach over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. When cooked through, remove chicken and chop into very small pieces.

3. Assemble chicken salad by mixing together chicken, celery, mayo, 4-5 egg yolks and seasonings to taste. Arrange egg halves on a platter and spoon the salad into the eggs. Garnish with parsley or dill. 

Refrigerate 1 hour, or until ready to serve.

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