Jul 30, 2009

The "Dog Days" of Summer

Here in WA we've had record breaking temps. It's been miserably hot for us PNW peeps and likely even more so for our furry pets. I have 3 dogs, one who is quite fuzzy and having a hard time in this heat. For a nice cool treat in the summer, I like to buy some organic low-sodium chicken broth (or beef if you prefer) and freeze it in ice cube trays, then store them in a container. The dogs LOVE these and they gobble them up which makes me feel like they are getting more liquids and nice treat they enjoy. We've labled one of our ice cube trays with "C" in permanent marker so that we know that's the chicken tray for the dogs and nothing else. But this isn't necessary.
Another ice cold treat I've made for my dogs are these really great yogurt ice cubes that I found the recipe for in Modern Dog magazine last year. They really like these as well, but they are a teensy bit more time consuming than the broth version. Either one I am sure will get your pups attention. Try it! And if your pets really like them and you want to have a bit more fun, then get one these and freeze them in it.

1 large container of plain yogurt or vanilla yogurt (1 litre/32 ounces)
1 ripe banana
2 tablespoons peanut butter, with no added salt or sugar
 2 tablespoons honey

Blend ingredients, using a food processor or blender. Freeze in ice cube trays, and then transfer to Ziploc freezer bags, for easy storage. A large measuring cup, makes filling trays, cups, or molds, very easy. Frosty Paws are great for teething puppies.

On another note let's not forget that we don't want to cook in the house when it's this hot outside! Because where I live, most of us don't have air conditioning so when it's this hot (which is usually not often, with the exception of this summer) you don't even want to cook something on the stove let alone in the oven. I've been making this recipe for a few years now, and I have to admit the first time I made them I wasn't so sure about these pieces of plain tofu in the wraps. I don't mind tofu mixed into recipes, usually cooked, but plain and cold? not usually what I want. Well, I learned my lesson cause these are SO delicious and perfect for hot summer nights or days. You don't even notice the tofu with all the other textures going on in these wraps. My husband even loves these as much as I, which is even more unusual for him considering the tofu factor I mentioned before.
I usually skip the peanuts, but if you want them throw them in there. Try them, I swear you will probably like them a lot if you like any kind of Asian lettuce wraps, the sauce is outrageously good, and if the kids don't want the tofu, they can skip that part. There's still plenty of good stuff in them.

Vegetable and Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Miso Sambal

In this appetizer, the fresh flavors of the vegetables come alive with the spicy, gingery sambal. This popular Indonesian condiment takes on many variations of the basic combination of chiles, brown sugar, and salt. Prepare a double batch, and serve the extra with fish. The creamy texture of the avocado pieces and tofu slices are a pleasant contrast to the crisp vegetables.

Miso sambal: 
2 tablespoons chile paste with garlic (such as Sambal oelek)
2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons white miso (soybean paste)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

1 cup matchstick-cut English cucumber
1/2 cup cilantro sprigs
2 tablespoons chopped dry-roasted peanuts
1 (12.3-ounce) package reduced-fat firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips
1/2 avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
12 large Boston lettuce leaves

To prepare miso sambal, combine the first 6 ingredients in a blender, and process until smooth. To prepare wraps, divide cucumber, cilantro, peanuts, tofu, and avocado evenly among lettuce leaves. Drizzle each with about 1 1/2 teaspoons sambal; roll up.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 wraps) CALORIES 106 (51% from fat); FAT 6g (sat 0.9g,mono 2.9g,poly 1.5g); IRON 1.1mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 27mg; CARBOHYDRATE 8.5g; SODIUM 261mg; PROTEIN 5.5g; FIBER 1.5g Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2005

****NOTE I like to experiment with this recipe a little, like trying other veggies in them. I add shredded carrots almost every time, once I sliced fresh snap peas and threw them in the wraps too. Both are great with these!

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