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Pumpkin Cranberry Dog Treats

Pumpkin is good for dogs and helps soothe upset tummies.  They also love the natural sweetness and will gobble it up in no time.  These are so easy to make, with everything in my pantry!  Give these a try for your special pup.


I’ve been looking for good dog treats to have published in a dog treat cookbook (by Working Dobermans of Kentucky.)  I’m not a fan of so many recipes out there because they have things in them that dogs shouldn’t eat, like sugar or flour.  Wheat flour is a better alternative, but like anything that is a treat- it should be used for that purpose, as a special treat!  Most dog foods do have grains in them, so don’t let that make you nervous.  But for those on a no-wheat or grain-free diet, you should check out my Sweet Potato Chews for Dogs recipe as a great alternative.  (It is the most popular recipe on my site!)

Makes about 2 dozen treats (will vary based on shapes.)


-1/2 Cup Canned Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!)
-2 Eggs
-2 1/2 Cups Wheat Flour
-1-4 Tablespoons Water
-Dried Cranberries, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350F.  Mix canned pumpkin, eggs, and wheat flour together in a large bowl.  The dough will be slightly dry, so add a small amount of water until it is easy to form (but not sticky.)  Sprinkle a generous amount of wheat flour onto your work surface so dough doesn’t stick.  Roll out into about 1/2 inch thickness and use cookie cutters to cut into shapes.  (If you don’t have any cookie cutters you could use a glass for round treats.)  Bake  for 10 minutes.  Remove pan and carefully flip over each treat.  Bake for another 10 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack.  Store in a sealed container for up to a week.


Brooklyn approves!

Mason Jar Storage

Years ago I bought sealable plastic containers for things like flour and sugar.  They cost a fortune!  I wanted some cute smaller storage containers for things like rice, lentils, beans, and popcorn so I bought a bunch of mason jars.  These barely cost me more than $1 each.


An important note.  The metal lids do not seal to be airtight unless you are canning.  My suggestion is buy plastic lids so you have airtight storage.  You can buy them on Amazon if they aren’t on the shelves near the mason jars. Happy “canning!”


Do you Instagram?

I started using Instragram a few months ago for fun.  I take a lot of food pics with my iPhone!  Many times, I don’t take blog pictures of weeknight things I make due to lack of daylight or time.  Food pictures look pretty unnatural with flash photography, unless taken by someone with real photography skills.  (Ahem, not me.)

What do you think?  Do you love or hate Instagram?

Cinnamon rolls rising…

Weeknight stir fry…

A pancake feast for two…

Molten lava cakes…

Or, even delicious pasta dishes…

Without Instagram, I’d be missing out on a lot of lovely food memories.

I love it.

P.s. Follow me on Instagram @thedrivencook!

Happy 1st Anniversary to thedrivencook.com!

I can’t believe a year has come and gone so quickly!  Blogging for a year has forced me to be creative, find new recipes, and dream up recipes I’d never imagined before.  I have truly enjoyed every moment, and have been rewarded with a great reader base and five extra pounds.  :)

I wanted to share what I consider to be my greatest culinary successes of 2011.  Not necessarily ground-breaking, but definitely life-changing.  If I had to make the same ten dishes throughout 2012, here’s what they’d be.

Brown Butter Linguine with Cauliflower

Simple, elegant, and packed with unique flavors.  This pasta dish is guaranteed to impress you and whoever you serve it to.

Peanut Butter Pie

It’s a Thanksgiving tradition I picked up from my in-laws.  Of course, with my own recipe.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast
I came up with this recipe on a whim, one Sunday afternoon.  I’m always the most proud of recipes I come up with myself, from start-to-finish.  This one is so delicious and amazing.  It should be made all seasons of the year!

Asian-Style Beef Short Ribs
This is one of the most labor-intensive recipes I made all year.  I thoroughly enjoyed my first trip to the butcher, and every step of this recipe.  I plan on making it again…when I feel like spending three hours in the kitchen.

Key Lime Pie- With Graham Coconut Crust

This pie has the best crust I’ve ever concocted, especially as a non-crust lover.  The graham cracker crust with added coconut creates a complex flavor explosion.  It’s a must-try.

Thai Fried Rice

One of my favorite meals to make for guests.  Requires a few extra steps, but totally worth it in the end.  Has a great presentation too, if I say so myself.

Creamy Lemon and Chive Pasta with Breaded Chicken

I taught myself how to make the best cream sauces from scratch.  Nowadays, I just pour everything in a skillet and make new creations up as I go.  This recipe reminds me of discovering how easy and rewarding homemade sauces are.

Homemade Buns

Not only are these buns beautiful (they’re the header of my blog, after all) but they’re incredibly moist, fluffy, and flavorful.  I experimented with yeast breads a lot in 2011, which is one of my favorite things to make on a weekend afternoon.

Three Cheese Stuffed Shells

I adore stuffed shells because they make a ton and freeze really well.  Perfect for when one of us is traveling and the one stuck at home doesn’t feel like making a meal.

Shaved Asparagus and Green Onion Pizza

Darren and I still talk about this recipe with great fondness.  (And I made it in February 2011!)  Pretty incredible for a meat-and-potatoes type of guy to bring up a pizza without any meat!

And lastly, a big thank you to everyone who has supported my hobby throughout 2011.  To my mom, who instilled the values and joy of making (and sharing) a home cooked meal.  To my husband, Darren, for providing honest feedback and not complaining about now having to go to the gym more regularly.  To my friends and coworker-friends, who understand my love for cooking, blogging, and support my hobby instead of just shrugging their shoulders.

Happy new year, and best wishes as you head into 2012!


Photos: Sneak Preview

As I gear up for the holidays, I wanted to provide some great quality photos from a friend to help document the delicious things I’ll be making.  Things went unbelievably quick when I personally didn’t have to document each step along the way!  Thanks, Renee!

I kept things simple, with things such as a Crisp Autumn Salad, Ginger Soy Lime Grilled Shrimp, Linguine with Cauliflower and Brown Butter, Soft Ginger Molasses Cookies, and White Chocolate Peppermint Fudge.  All are perfect for entertaining and I’d suggest trying at least one of them out this holiday season!  You’ll see the recipes posted gradually as we get closer to the holidays.

Stay tuned!

New Kitchen Wish List

Having a new kitchen is amazing!  I have everything all situated where it should be.  I feel like it’s all logical, minus some minor items.

Here’s what I’m craving to fill my new kitchen with!

A DIY chalkboard.  I have a magnetic notepad I used to keep on the fridge that helped me remember what I had planned for the week.  Now, I enjoy clutter free fridge doors.  I have a wall next to the fridge which is looking pretty bare.  This would be amazing!  Check out the tutorial here.

An ice cream maker.  I know, so impractical.  To most!  I love simple, creamy homemade ice creams.  It’s nice knowing what’s in what I eat.Let me dream, here.  I’d love to try out a copper skillet.  And I might be vain in saying, one (or a set!) would look amazing hanging from my pot rack.  I have a beautiful pot rack and none of my Calphalon Stainless Steel pots/pans fit on it due to the hole size in the handles- I’m heartbroken I can’t use it!

Here you can see a glimpse of the rack:Wouldn’t this pan just fit in so well?!

A kitchen scale.  One cup of flour to me might be one cup of flour different to you.  Did you sift it first?  Did you pack it?  Did you level it?  Did you spin around and clap your hands twice before pouring it in?

Cute artwork.  I don’t even think I have any space for it.  But I want it.

Organizers.  Pottery barn has a cute collection called “Daily System.” I only want the letter bin and office organizer (the one with the key hooks.)  Although, I also like the linen pinboard.  At $54 each, I’ll have to think about it long and hard.

So, what’s on your kitchen wish list?

Swanson Health Products Review

A few fellow bloggers had written some reviews for this company, and I wanted to get in on it too!  They shipped me a few products for free to try out, in exchange for unbiased reviews of the items sent.

Here’s what I tried out!

Organic Sesame Oil

This is a great oil and has a very low price.  I used it in two Asian-inspired dishes instead of olive oil.  Hoisin Chicken and Asian-Style Beef Short Ribs.  While this is a good quality oil, the packaging is poor.  It has a basic plastic cap with a hole, but when done pouring the oil runs down the side of the bottle every time.  It’s a bit annoying to have to wipe up the side of the bottle after every use.  Otherwise, I would recommend this sesame oil!

Organic Onion Powder

This is a nice basic onion powder.  When you don’t have onions on hand, or don’t feel like chopping up a little onion to add flavor, this stuff is nice to have on hand!  Use sparingly, because this stuff is pure & potent!

Organic Poultry Spice Blend

I used a little bit of this spice blend when I made my Rosemary Lemon Chicken.  Normally I don’t add any additional spices or seasonings but this was a nice subtle addition.  I was nervous reading the ingredients and seeing cinnamon in there, but I couldn’t taste it.  A very good blend to have on hand, especially for how cheap it is!  Can’t hurt to try!

Thank you for reading my reviews! Swanson Health’s products can be found here.  They have thousands of products- happy shopping!

My (Old) Kitchen

So, it’s official.  We’re moving!  We’ve found an amazing home in a great area and are in contract.  We’ll be moving out of our home that we’ve been in for the last four years next month.  It still feels surreal.  The one thing I’m ecstatic about this new place is the kitchen.  We upgraded our old kitchen this Spring so I didn’t want to have to upgrade much with a new kitchen in a new house.

I know I’ll miss my old kitchen.  It used to be so unbearable with ugly, permanently dirty linoleum floors and damaged laminate counters.  We turned it into something much better- stainless steel appliances, granite counters, lighting, a deep sink with a new faucet, and wood laminate floors.  Most of the work my husband did himself, which makes it all that much more special to me.

Our eat-in kitchen, where we share most of our meals together.

My stove, which I’ve always disliked.  Mostly because it was the only appliance we didn’t change out.  Secondly because it’s electric, and I’ve always wanted gas.  The new place has gas- so I’m excited to try it out!

And the sink, which is strangely my favorite part.  Maybe because I never do the dishes. :)

Black Bean Quesadillas

Words can’t express how much I have been enjoying black beans lately. They’re such a great side dish to any southwestern style meal. They’re cheap and healthy. And of course, made the right way they are tasty.

Instead of using them as a side dish, I wanted a quick and easy meal with black beans featured as the main ingredient.

I whipped up my fabulous zesty refried black beans, and decided to put them between tortillas with cheese and sour cream.


-Zesty Refried Black Beans- click here for the recipe.
-8 Tortillas
-1/2 Cup Cheese, Mexican Blend
-Sour Cream- optional

Make black beans per recipe.

Seriously, they look gross. Even I’ll admit it. Give ’em a chance.

Heat a tortilla in a lightly greased skillet and melt cheese.


And serve with sour cream.

Preferably on your patio. With a beer. Or three.