Fresh Food For Fido (or should I say Oscar )

fresh food pet food

If you are a pet lover, you are probably aware of the fresh food trend as it relates to pet food. There are a number of providers out there who will ship fresh, all natural pet food right to your door. All for a hefty cost, but a nice alternative for those furry friends who have trouble with kibble and canned foods.


Licking his chops waiting for his next meal.

I had never considered the fresh food route for Oscar, since he’s been on prescription dog food for the majority of time we’ve had him.  He had always done well on his prescribed food and that sweet boy will eat anything, so I never saw a reason to change. Until, one day in August Oscar did the one thing I’ve always said would be a sure reason to worry – he refused his food.


Let me back up a bit and explain. All had been going well on his prescription food, until a new bag was delivered.  I noticed the smell and kibble shape were different. I double checked the bag and indeed had the correct variety. However, the print on the bag noted a new and improved taste. No big deal, a change in flavor shouldn’t impact anything. Boy, was I wrong. After several days on the new formula, I noticed Oscar becoming lethargic. Truthfully, he’s old and diabetic so I thought he was simply have a few bad days. It happens now and again and it was August –  he hates summer. A few more days passed and he continued to decline. Then, one morning he snubbed his food all together. NEVER, I mean never, has this happened. Panicked, I ran to the fridge to see what else I had that he could eat. I threw together a bowl of chicken, rice and sweet potato that I luckily already had prepared. I set it down and he gobbled up every last bite. My poor baby had been sick for days and, in that moment, I knew it was the food. Something in the formula change was making him sick. Of course, I spoke with his vet and informed the dog food company, but I knew what I had to do. I couldn’t feed him his old food again, so I began making his own fresh food. I could’ve purchased fresh food, but with his diabetic condition I couldn’t be sure how he’d respond, so better to make my own.

Oscar’s Fresh Food

fresh food pet food

Oscar will be 14 this month – he has good days and bad days. But since making his fresh food, I have seen noticeable change in him. He seems more satisfied and content, his insulin dose has reduced, he sleeps more soundly and he enjoys his meals soooo much. After several trial runs, I settled on a combination of ground turkey, brown rice, hard-boiled egg, cut green beans and carrots. Once in a while I’ll sprinkle in some shredded cheese for an added treat. He loves it and I feel good about giving it to him. I stock up on ground turkey when it’s on sale and cook in batches. Cooking Oscar’s food myself is more cost-effective. It also gives me control over the ingredients. It’s a lot of extra work, but he’s happy and I’m happy to do it for him.

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Lemon Blueberry Cake as seen on Facebook by Delish

blueberry lemon cake

Man, the past few weeks have been nuts. Between April break, an anniversary celebration, a fun writing assignment, back-to-back Easters (American and Greek), a memorial event and Ally’s confirmation, I have lost complete track of my usual day-to-day routine.

Despite having felt a bit overwhelmed, so many good things came out of the chaos. One of which was this new recipe for a really good lemon blueberry cake. Typically, I’m not a baker but this cake kept popping up on my Facebook feed and it looked so good, I had to try it. Have you seen it? Celebrating Ally’s confirmation seemed the perfect occasion to give this fresh and spring-like sweet a try.

A Funny Faux-Pas

I followed the directions explicitly. Right down to the parchment paper liner for each layer. But, oops! Nowhere in the directions does it say to remove the parchment after baking. I totally forgot this step and served 3 layers of lined cake to all of my guests. Guess what? It didn’t matter one bit. Everyone liked the cake so much, they ate it anyway after pulling out the paper. Guests even went back for seconds. Not my finest moment, but the cake was a huge success and I would gladly try it again – parchment free, of course!!

The original recipe for this Lemon Blueberry Cake, as seen on Facebook, can be found at –Lemon Blueberry Cake.

Here’s everything you need to know…


  • 1 box vanilla cake, plus ingredients called for on box
  • Juice and zest of 1 1/2 lemons, divided, plus more zest for garnish
  • 1 3/4 c. fresh blueberries, divided (I read that some folks used frozen blueberries and the end result was just as good)
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Thin lemon slices, for topping (I bought candy lemon wedges from Market Basket and used those instead – yummy and cute!)


  • Preheat oven to 350º and grease three 9″ cake pans with cooking spray (I bought 3 disposable pans). Line with parchment. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, then stir in juice and zest of 1 lemon.
  • In a small bowl, toss 1 cup blueberries and flour until completely coated (to keep the berries from sinking). Gently fold blueberries into the batter.
  • Divide cake batter evenly among prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.
  • Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
  • Make frosting: In a large bowl using a hand mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat butter and 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Add remaining lemon juice and zest and heavy cream and beat until combined, then beat in vanilla and salt. (Add remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar as desired for texture and flavor.)
  • Place a dab of frosting on cake plate (to keep cake in place) and place parchment strips on each side of the cake plate. Place down first cake and top with frosting, then top with second cake and frost. Repeat with third cake and frost sides.
  • Garnish with remaining blueberries, lemon slices, and zest and serve.

Buon appetito!

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Seasoned Pretzels from Karla’s Kitchen

With Super Bowl LIII coming up, I thought it would be a good time to post this recipe for an easy, yet addictive, crunchy snack. A crowd pleaser for sure!

I typically don’t enjoy pretzels because, and I don’t think this is a shocker, I find them dry and bland. However, when my sister Karla began serving her seasoned pretzels, I could not control myself. No sooner would I say done, then my hand would be right back in the bowl. When my Ally said she loved them too, I knew we were on to something. There’s not a lot of foods Ally loves.

Karla’s seasoned pretzels provide just the right amount of tang and crunch and to make them is soooo easy. When I first saw the simple recipe, I thought there was a step missing. Seeing that so much liquid was to be poured over the pretzels, I imagined I’d have to dry them out to achieve the dry, pretzel texture I was accustomed to.

Interestingly, the pretzels fully absorb the oil. When the pretzels have completed their overnight marinating process, you wake up to tasty, seasoned pretzels that are ready to serve.

Without further ado, I give you…

Karla’s Seasoned Pretzels

  • 40 ounce pretzels (I used 2, 16 ounce bags and it was fine)
  • 1 bottle Orville Redenbacher popcorn oil
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dry salad dressing
  • 1 tablespoon dry dill
  • 1 tablespoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt.

Empty pretzels into a 2-gallon sealable plastic bag.  In a bowl, mix all other ingredients and pour liquid over pretzels. Seal bag securely and mix well.  Flip bag every 15 minutes for an hour to distribute liquid.  Let sit overnight and your seasoned pretzels are good to go and go and go!

I hope you enjoy! GO PATS and thank you Karla for sharing your yummy recipe.

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Repost! Fig Jam and Goat Cheese Crostini-So Easy!

fig jam and goat cheese crostini

This is a RePost from December 2016. I just enjoyed these delicious treats as lovingly prepared by my mom and it made think it may be worth a re-post. Enjoy!

Hello Everyone,

I hope you all enjoyed a fabulous holiday. I sure did and although I’m still trying to come out of a food coma, I realize we have one more celebration that may warrant some creative cooking.

At the risk of anyone thinking 3 Olives & Twist has turned into a food blog; today I offer you one more recipe that you may find useful when ringing in the New Year. Like most foods I prepare, it is quick and easy and, if this year’s Christmas Day reviews were any indication; it’s a winner.

The star of the dish is most definitely the fig jam. I pick mine up at Stop & Shop.  It is the Bonne Maman brand which is actually a fig preserve, but any fig jam, spread or preserve should do.

The combination of the sweet fig jam paired with the tart, creamy goat cheese is the perfect sweet and savory bite. To add just a bit more texture and flavor to this easy appetizer I also add toasted, chopped walnuts which seems to elevate this four ingredient appetizer. As far as hors d’oeuvres go, these are a favorite that seem to fly off the plate as soon as they hit the table.

When I first made these tasty bites, I used the prepared filo cups available in the frozen section of the grocery store. While good, I found them a little difficult to fill and pricey when I wanted to make them in bulk. This year, I opted to use a sliced baguette as the base and found the end result to be even more successful.

If you are looking for a quick and easy appetizer to welcome in 2017, give this recipe a try.

Fig Jam and Goat Cheese Crostini with Toasted Walnuts


  • 1 thin baguette, sliced. I have mine sliced right at the grocery store – just ask the bakery department.
  • 1 jar fig jam, preserve or spread
  • 1, 8 oz. package of goat cheese. Bring to room temperature to facilitate spreading.
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts, toasted.


To begin, toast chopped walnuts in a dry pan. Be sure not to burn – I pull them off the burner just as soon as I smell the toasted, nutty aroma. Set aside.

Place baguette slices on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Toast lightly in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes. Remove from oven. Generously spread the room temperature goat cheese on each piece of toasted bread. Top with a teaspoon of fig jam. Sprinkle the toasted walnuts over the fig jam.

You’re done! If the fig jam seems a little loose, pop into the fridge for ten or fifteen minutes to help them set.

Otherwise, serve and enjoy.

Happy New Year.

All my very best in 2017!

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3 Olives & a Twist at Home and Bookery Manchester – Join me!

Ingredients for 3 Olives & a Twist martini

Please join me on Wednesday, August 22 at 7pm at Bookery Manchester. This cool, indie bookstore and café is a great spot to talk travel and Musing Mediterranean. Hope to see you there.


3 Olives & a Twist

When you hear 3 Olives & a Twist you may think I’m talking about my blog. Often I am, however today I’m talking about my signature cocktail.

Somehow a martini with 3 olives & a twist of lemon became my go-to drink, and this blog’s namesake. It still tops my order list today, however my preferred concoction was something I only ordered at bars or restaurants until recently. I tried making it at home, but it was never quite right.

On a girls’ trip back in June, I visited my friend Sue who kindly stocked up on all the accoutrement I’d need for my signature martini. I was thrilled and equally perplexed. I didn’t really know how to make my favorite cocktail. At this time I’d like to thank Sue, Suzie and Karla for helping me finally bring 3 Olives & a Twist home!

Never to back down from a challenge, my lady friends and I approached the mission with as much cluelessness as you might expect from four suburban housewives.

Much to my pleasure, and everyone’s surprise, the end result was a perfectly smooth and delicious martini that I vowed to replicate at home.

Here’s what I learned when making my first successful 3 Olives & a Twist martini.

The Shaker

You need a good martini shaker! Sue had one and it allowed the vigorous shake that my former, at-home martinis lacked. The strainer allowed just the right amount of ice shards to slip through and add an even greater finish to the pour. Lucky for me, Julia and Ally got me a really nice shaker for my birthday and I absolutely love it. It makes making my martini so much easier and more delicious.

Look at the chill on that stainless steel. Freezing never looked so good!

The Ice

Crushed ice! Since I don’t have an ice crusher in my fridge, I had previously used cubed ice in my makeshift shaker (2 glasses locked together)-simply not the same. The result was a glass full of vodka with a bite the likes of a rattlesnake. Crushed ice made all the difference in superbly cooling the cocktail and lightening its load by incorporating a bit of air into each sip.


If you use vermouth at all, add just a drop or two. Too much vermouth equals a drink too bitter to swallow. Interestingly, I’ve learned from several bartenders, who have served me premium martinis, that they don’t use vermouth at all.

The Olives

I like them plain, queen-sized and in triplicate. When you purchase, be careful to notice if they are labeled tipsy. If they are, they are soaked in vermouth and that will alter the taste of your final product.

The Twist

However you cut it, use your lemon twist to flavor your rim. Rub the pith of the rind all around the glass’s edge and give it a strong squeeze over your glass allowing a touch of lemon essence to infuse the vodka.

The Glass

No matter what the trend might be, it’s a stem glass only for me. I don’t want my nicely chilled martini being warmed as I hold a stemless glass in my heated hand. Speaking of chilled, while you prepare your martini, be sure to chill your glass. Add ice and water and let it sit on the counter or place in freezer. The colder the better!

There you have it! My 3 Olives & a Twist at home. As I write this, it’s Monday night and I have officially instituted Martini Mondays.

Shaker and 3 Olives & a Twist


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