Tag Archives: Cane Corso Mastiff

More Tales of O: Salty Dog Cocktails

Ready for our annual Pearls and Pinstripes Party.

The first thing most people commented on about Onca was how big she was. I mean, the dog was fucking huge and most people had never seen her breed before making her that much more mysterious. The second comment was always about her ears. The loser that had got her as a perfect puppy had taken it upon himself to wack them off on his own so she had these hysterical little diablo ears that crossed when she was trying particularly hard to be good.

Tomorrow is the one month mark of losing our girl. Thank you all so much for your thoughts, support, laughter, and stories of her. She was a force, a huge presence, and the house is sorely lacking of her big rumbling bark, her couch leaping jumps, and her oh so cute and oh so odd little wiggle of her sausage tail.

While very sad, the weeks have also been filled with wonderful stories and memories of Onca that friends near and dear have shared. Thank you for that. I’d like to share just a few here:

Best buddies.

NY,2004: Matt and I were heading to Massachusetts and Vermont for an epic Christmas tour. We had my Mom’s, my Dad’s, Matt’s Mom’s, Matt’s Dad’s, my Grandfather’s, and Matt’s Grandparents to hit. That’s right, six Christmases in 24 hours. I don’t know what we were thinking. We did at least have the wherewithal to not try to bring Onca and Lucky along with us, so we found the most expensive, most discerning doggy spa possible and dropped them off, promising to be back in 24 (okay 28) hours. When we returned they gave us a glowing report card on Lucky. Everyone loved him. They had an odd expression on their face about Onca. When we pressed it, the sixteen girl manning the desk finally spilled the beans.  It turned out that Onca had gotten out of her suite being quite the escape artist that she was (we don’t call them kennels when we’re charging your $50/night) and had proceeded to let Lucky out. The caretakers hadn’t taken too much offense to that, so they were letting the two roam around, but they quickly realized that Onca was letting all the dogs out and that chaos was soon to ensue. She was marked with a bright orange stamp as a rebel, and not welcomed back.

NOT going to miss being read to with baby Wesley.

Seattle, 2009: Our friends Angela and Harrison are sweet, dear friends. The kind that you can truly be yourself with, that you can sit on the kitchen floor and drink a bottle of wine with, that you can show your least flattering side to. They knew the best of Onca, and the worst of Onca, and they loved her fiercely in spite of it. They also had a new baby Wesley and would bring him round whenever they could, not caring that Onca would put her big slobbery face in his and give him a kiss. She was wonderful with kids, a true gentle giant, and Angela and Harrison trusted her explicitly. One night when Wesley was about one and learning to walk they were over. We were all talking and eating and loving that we had such good friends so close when Onca lumbered by teetering, tottering, just walking Wesley. The mere brush of her knocked him over and produced a massive howl out of the little guy. Within a split second we all gasped, Onca immediately sat down (that being her patented moved whenever she got in trouble, which was not infrequent), and Wesley’s howling immediately got muffled. Onca was, quite literally, sitting on his face. His little body was kicking and screaming like a little Oompa Loompa and Onca was just sitting there looking confused like, “What? What’d I do?”  (Fear not, Onca and Wesley would go on to have a great friendship of shared goldfish, PB&Js, and an endless tolerance for occasionally being smacked in the face).

No bears were going to get me.

Gee Point, 2006: The boys pulled into the driveway from their weekend camping trip, and as was customary I went out to greet them, welcome the dogs back home, and carry in a load or two of gear. They jumped out of the car, and talking over one another and interrupting like 8-year-old siblings they told me of the adventure they had just experienced. They had climbed up a mountain, over boulders and through snow to get to a favorite and coveted mountain peak. They had set up camp without a soul in sight and begun the evening ritual of building the fire, tending the fire, cooking tubular meats on the fire, and reminiscing while drinking beer and whiskey. Onca was particularly unsettled all evening, pacing the parameter of the campground with her low rumbling growl on repeat. They couldn’t figure out what it was and after enough beer and whiskey, they didn’t care anymore. A few hours later, as the sun was just setting, Onca leapt from her spot by the fire, and they turned to see a black bear less than 100 yards away. Onca immediately took off after it howling for all she was worth, while Matt howled after her. The bear took off running, and Onca chased it until Matt could no longer hear or see her. Pacing at the campsite and wondering what to do next, within a few minutes he heard the clink of Onca happily trotting back into camp, sausage tail wagging, and a grin on her face as if to say, “Ha! I told you there was something. We sure showed that bear who was boss.”

Salty Dog Cocktails

And with that I will remember that this is a food blog after all and share with you my new favorite cocktail, compliments of my friend Ila who knew exactly what I needed the first weekend alone and showed up with fixings for Salty Dogs and never mentioned that I was still in my PJs at 3p and my eyes were so swollen shut I looked like I’d been stung by a bee.

Admittedly the combination of these is a little odd at first glance, but they are delicious. And dangerous…watch out! I like to serve them in big old-fashioned glasses with one large ice-cube to make sure I don’t get into too much trouble. Don’t skip the salt, it’s the best part.

Yes, I'm being lazy. But they are delicious..and this will do for the recipe tonight.

Beauty and deliciousness.

What Good Friends are For...


Filed under Comfort Foods, Entertaining, Uncategorized

She Was One in a Million: Onca Dog

She came crashing into our lives in the Summer of 2004. We were two fools in love, living in upstate NY, in a darling apartment that was much too nice for us. We drove 2 hours to get her, to the Starlight Diner off some highway I can’t remember the name of anymore. We were meeting up with a man who delivered dogs in a horse trailer all over the country. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. It was sleeting and raining, as only it can do in upstate NY, and the wipers on our Ranger didn’t work so I kept leaning out to wipe off the windshield.

We’d found her through a rescue group that dealt with “bully breeds” and hard to place dogs. She was two and had been abused and abandoned. We thought she was perfect. Upon arriving at the diner the man with the big belly lumbered out of his truck and declared with a southern accent I couldn’t place, “This is the god damn biggest dog I ever seen. She broken two of my collars already. Good luck.”

I don’t think I really was listening to him because I was too distracted by the three or so missing fingers on his hands. We loaded her up in the truck, brought her home, and so began eight years of laughter, love, tears, frustration, fierce loyalty, unwavering protection, and never-ending dedication from a dog we’d call Onca.

At the times I needed her most she was perfect. Standing by my side in a dark alley in NY, ferociously growling and barking at the man trying to cross the street to get to us. When Matt would go away she wouldn’t leave my side, spending the whole night at the foot of the bed, quietly growling at the bumps in the night. He would come home and she would turn into pure goofy maddening puppy again. And so it went.

I used to joke about what life would be like without Onca. Without having to sprint out of the house in the morning, only to realize in a big important meeting she’d gotten a full slobber on me. Without scrubbing drool off the ceiling, off the walls, off the windows. Without having to get the postman an apology Christmas gift every year and writing a “sorry I try to eat you on a daily basis note…love Onca”. But I never thought about all the other things we wouldn’t have.

The utter joy and delight of an old dog acting like a puppy each and every day when she got her peanut butter kong. The unwavering protection I would feel walking her at night. The way my heart would burst when she’d be curled up, just so, happily snoring and purring away.

Today, we lost our dear Onca, and I’m not quite sure what we do now. There’s a big hole missing that will never be filled. She was one in a million: Onca Dog.

The weekend we got her.

She was amazing with kids.

Happy Days at the polo fields in NY.

Squishiest fact I knew.

Onca in the Badlands

A striking lady.

When Gabby Came for a Weekend at Camp

Sun tanning with the best of them.


Filed under Uncategorized

Neighborhood Loving: Turkey Sausage Egg Bake

Cane Corso Mastiff

Onca assisting at the neighborhood clean-up.

By now you’ve probably guessed that I can be a bit of a food snob. I rarely eat fast food, I don’t think twice about spending $20 on a hunk of cheese (but am appalled at how expensive the car wash is), and whenever I do get something pre-packaged at the grocery store I find myself offering a long, bumbling, drawn out excuse to the check-out teller, who frankly couldn’t care less, about why I’m buying Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese (to donate to the food bank obviously).

This weekend our lovely neighbors and neighborhood were planning a Spring Cleaning to get the streets a bit spruced up post-Winter, throw away the cans of Steel Reserve that had accumulated in the drains, and generally continue to signify to our transitional neighborhood that somebody does now actually care about it.

Mr. Wesley...taking care of business. With mittens on of course.

Our friends Brent and Ila Sole (don’t you wish that was your last name?!) offered to host a post-cleanup brunch featuring Bloody Mary’s, Mimosas, Fresh Baked Scones, and a few egg dishes. Ila did an amazing Artichoke Strata which I’ve already put in my bid to get the recipe for, and I decided to do a Turkey Sausage Egg Bake that been sitting in my inbox for years, helpfully labeled as “Recipes to Try”.

This recipe came my way via one of those Recipe Exchanges and is inspired from Chile, Corn & Croissants: Delicious Recipes from New Mexico Inns by Joan Stromquist. I have to admit that when I saw it called for shredded, bagged hash browns my snobby meter went off, but I pushed through…and boy am I glad I did.

This thing is delicious! A wonderful brunch addition, you can assemble it in advance, and use it as a base to throw whatever leftovers you have into. It is quite heavy, and not altogether healthy, so I wouldn’t suggest it all the time, but for a sunny, Sunday brunch with good friends, and happy dogs romping in the background, it was just the ticket.

Cane Corso Mastiff

A girl can only have so many mimosas...

Cane Corso Mastiff

And you don't want to get a sunburn.

Serve with Mimoas, Bloody Mary’s, and a side of Neighborhood Activism.

Turkey Sausage Egg Bake
Serves 8

Turkey Sausage Egg Bake

Turkey Sausage Egg Bake

3/4 pound Italian spicy turkey sausage
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red chile pepper, roasted, peeled and chopped
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 pound package frozen hash browns, thawed (if you forget to thaw them until the morning of, like I did, just pop in the microwave for about a minute until broken apart)
1 tsp seasoned salt (or to taste)
1.5 cups cheddar cheese, grated + extra for topping
8 farm fresh eggs

Preheat oven to 350

In a large skillet, place the sausage and cook it on medium heat so that
it is brown. (Do not drain the grease). Add the bell peppers, red chile
peppers, onions and tomatoes. Saute them for 5-7 minutes, or until the
onions are tender.

Add the hash browns and saute them for 5 minutes. Add the seasoned salt
and stir it in.

Add the cheese and heat it for 2 minutes, or until it begins to melt.

Place the mixture in a lightly greased medium baking pan. Make 8 divots
in the mixture with a spoon. Place one egg in each divot. Sprinkle tops with remaining cheese.

I thought this looked so cool before you baked it.

Bake the casserole for 30 minutes, or until the eggs are done, and the cheese on top is bubbling.

**Darling doggy photos compliments of the lovely Nadia Flusche.**


Filed under Breakfasts, Cheap Eats, Entertaining, Make ahead

Day 10: World’s Best Macaroni and Cheese

World's Best Macaroni and Cheese

World's Best Macaroni and Cheese

Today was a spectacularly beautiful day in Seattle. The kind of day that makes you appreciate living in the NW and just a tad bit smug that you aren’t living in New England and bracing for the next foot of snow to drop. The sun was shining, the buds on the trees starting to awaken, and Seattle-ites out in full force enjoying every minute of it. Onca and I were no exception and enjoyed a long walk along the lake and a trip to PCC complete with Onca’s backpack so she could pull her own weight (and by own weight, I mean beer, wine, cream, and milk). It was an exhausting trip and clearly required a full nap afterward.

Such a busy day.

While Ms. Onca slept I pondered what we should have for dinner that would be worthy of this day. Having enjoyed an amazing dinner with our friends Wendy and Andy at The Walrus and the Carpenter last night I was eager to keep the creative foodie genius I’d experienced going. And clearly, nothing says creative foodie genius more than a January BBQ and Bonfire with neighborhood friends.

Matt volunteered to do burgers, and Angela claimed ribs and spinach salad, which left me with no other choice but to make a big dish of the World’s Best Macaroni and Cheese. This is based  on Beecher’s famous recipe, but with a few suggested tweaks/additions, and I would challenge you to find a recipe you like more. This is certainly a treat to make since it’s so undeniably unhealthy, but as a once-in-a-while splurge there’s really nothing better.

This serves 8, but halves beautifully, or you can also make it in two smaller dishes and freeze what you like for a quick dinner some weeknight. Also, feel free to experiment a bit with the cheeses and use whatever you have in the fridge. Goat cheese is a nice addition and doing a bit of Parmesan gives it a slightly more complex flavor.

World’s Best Macaroni and Cheese


1 lb  penne pasta

Beecher’s Flagship Sauce (recipe follows)

1 ounce cheddar, grated ( 1/4 cup)

1 ounce Gruyere cheese, grated ( 1/4 cup)

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs


1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups milk

14 ounces semihard cheese, such as Beecher’s Flagship, grated (about 3 1/2 cups)

2 ounces grated semisoft cheese, such as Beecher’s Just Jack

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

dash of hot sauce (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Oil or butter a 9×12 baking dish

Cook the penne 2 minutes less than package directions. (It will finish cooking in the oven.) Rinse pasta in cold water and set aside.

Meanwhile, to make the sauce, melt the butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Continue whisking and cooking for 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. Add the cheese, salt, chile powder, garlic powder, mustard, and hot sauce. Stir until the cheese is melted and all ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes.

Combine cooked pasta and Flagship Sauce in a medium bowl and mix carefully but thoroughly.

Scrape the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the cheeses, chile powder, and panko. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Note: The sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to three days.


Filed under Comfort Foods, Month of Exploration, Pasta, Vegetarian

Crab Risotto Cakes with Spicy Remoulade

Crab Risotto Cake with Spicy Remoulade

Crab Risotto Cake with Spicy Remoulade

A dear friend of mine (who, incidentally is a fantastic chef) recently confessed to me that she no longer cooks. She just “combines prepared ingredients from Whole Foods’ deli.” Now…granted…she has two small children (I admittedly only have one crazy Cane Corso Mastiff as a dependent), but the thought of no longer being able to cook…or having cooking be a luxury definitely got my attention.

That said, as an unabashed multi-tasker who brushes her teeth while ungracefully hopping into her clothes each morning and reads the NYTimes.com while battling her way up Rainier Ave S,  I fully appreciate meals that can do double duty.

Risotto Cakes are the ultimate leftover. They are elegant, delicious, easy, and the perfect use for the giant pot of risotto I always seem to have left after we’ve eaten it for a few days. Serve with a lighter, white wine or Prosecco.

Crab Risotto Cakes with Spicy Remoulade

Serves 4

Spicy Remoulade:

1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges, for serving
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 Mustard
1 TB Hot sauce, or to taste
Combine ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

2 cups left-over crab risotto, formed into half-cup patties and set on wax paper to chill in fridge for at least 30 mins or up to 24 hours covered



1/2 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
3/4 – 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2-3 TB Butter

  1. Dredge the patties in the flour, ensuring that all surfaces are covered.
  2. Dip in egg.
  3. Add to bread crumb bowl and gently turn back and forth until covered with a full coating of panko.
  4. Add 2 TB butter to non-stick pan and melt over medium heat. Add the patties and cook approximately 5 minutes on each side or until a deep golden brown. If necessary add third TB butter to finalize frying if pan is smoking too much.
  5. Serve topped with spicy remoulade and lemon wedges.




Filed under Lactose Free, Seafood, Uncategorized