April Sunday

After devouring a yummy dinner – a bowl of Puppy Beef Stew (beef, potatoes, carrots and parsnips) – Pepper is peacefully sleeping on the couch next to me. She’s tired after a busy weekend! Yesterday we went scouting for new hiking trails in the San Rafael Hills.    scholl freroad fr leak fb

4.2 miles and a big bottle of water later, we had enjoyed panoramic views of the trails we usually hike from a couple of miles away, and discovered new scents, sights and sounds. Today we took some friends along on our morning hike to share our discovery: a fire road along the ridge of Glenoaks Canyon with great views of the LA basin, the San Fernando Valley and the San Gabriels. Just a handful of people with their dogs were out and about early on this beautiful Sunday morning. And we all seemed to agree that off-leash dogs are the happiest trail dogs. We met Merry Christmas, the St. Bernard girl, and Ms. Nellie, the min pin who showed off her smooth I’ll-just-jump-into-daddy’s-arms move. Pepper tracked down some tennis balls, and added some extra mileage chasing them down the hills and carrying them back up. Morning walk? Check!

ag fly eatbarkhike

So what’s a girl with a dog to do on a warm Sunday afternoon? How about brushing up on our agility skills? After adding some new facilities, the local shelter is offering agility classes again.  Today they had an open house to promote the classes. Pepper had a blast, running over the A-frame, jumping through the tire, and, her personal favorite, charging through the tunnel! And did I mention the treats that were generously dispensed? What a great way to spend the afternoon! Doggie gym? Check!

With Pepper taking a nap, I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon cooking and baking.  Here in Southern California the citrus harvest is in full swing, and Meyer lemons (my favorite!) and regular lemons from my friends’ trees are piling up in my kitchen. There’s some extra cream cheese and sour cream in the fridge, too. A perfect excuse to adapt a vintage cream cheese-pumpkin pie recipe (Bon Appétit 1992) for citrus season. It probably won’t satisfy the purists among the bakers, but I used one of my store-bought pie shells to get rid of the chametz in the house before Passover. Admittedly I could have put the triple ginger cookies in the pantry to good use, too. But making my own pie crust seemed a bit too involved today. A little swirl of chocolate syrup to make the pie look pretty – et voilà! 15 min prep time plus 30 min baking time. It’s what I call a quick dessert. And it’s great for potlucks!

lemon choc pieLemon Cream Cheese Pie
8 oz whipped cream cheese
6 tbsp sour cream
juice from one Meyer lemon
zest from one lemon
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 large eggs
Chocolate syrup for decoration

Use a pie shell or prepare a gingersnap crust

Beat cream cheese and sour cream until smooth, add sugar and ginger. Add eggs one by one, beat briefly until mixed. Pour into pie shell. Swirl chocolate syrup over filling in decorative pattern.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 min until filling is firm in the middle. Let cool on rack, then chill for a couple of hours before serving.

While the pie was in the oven, I whipped up a quick turkey meatloaf for Pepper. I had no cooked quinoa and used oats instead. Both are rich in carbohydrates and soluble fiber. Popped it in the still-warm oven when the pie was done, baked it for about an hour, and doggie dinner for the next couple of days was ready in no time at all. Dinner and dessert? Check!

Time to send a text with a picture of the pie to some friends and invite them for dessert. The table is quickly set, and soon the hounds sample the meatloaf, and the humans enjoy the lemon-cream cheese pie. As one of them puts it, “I’m not big on cheese cake, but this is very yummy!” I suspect my guest appreciated the light, fluffy texture courtesy of my secret ingredient, a.ka. whipped cream cheese. I prefer it to regular cream cheese because it makes the end product less dense. It tastes lighter than regular cream cheese, but, alas, it’s not light on the calories. This being said, don’t even think about substituting with low-fat cream cheese or low-fat sour cream. Just limit yourself to one slice. And savor the rich flavor!


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