Saturday, December 29, 2012

Crusty French Bread

Yum
After so many Christmas sweets and cookies, I am absolutely craving warm, hearty foods. So, let's start talking about my favorite food group. Bread. For me and Truckin' Man, Bread is it's own food group. Most days we would both pass up a cookie, if we could have some amazing bread.

Earlier this year, I started trying some recipes with yeast. I was working on learning how to work with yeast and wanted to master it. I still struggle, but have come so far this year. The bread recipe that is our favorite, comes from Joan over at Chocolate, Chocolate and more... I absolutely love her recipes. She even gave me a virtual "helping hand" while I was learning how to make bread. I will be forever grateful to her!

Making this recipe really is as easy as driving to the store, and you don't have to deal with all the crazy holiday shoppers. It even makes 2 loaves ... one his and one hers!  I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we do!



Crusty French Bread (Source: Chocolate, Chocolate and more....) 

1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water, divided
1 T. shortening, melted (or olive oil)

1 T. sugar
2 t. salt
4-5 c. all purpose flour

cornmeal

Combine yeast and 1/2 cup warm water in mixing bowl, stir until yeast is dissolved.

Add sugar, shortening, remaining water and 2 cup of flour. 


Mix until blended, using paddle attachment on mixer. Add salt and 2 more cups of flour, mix again until combined. Add remaining flour as needed until a soft dough ball forms.

Remove paddle from mixer, and cover bowl to rise for about an hour, until doubled in size.
Remove dough from bowl onto floured surface and divide into two equal pieces.  Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Roll each piece into a rectangle and roll from long side into a log.  Tuck ends under and place seam side down on a greased baking sheet (I use my stoneware pan) dusted with corn meal. Cover loaves with cloth and let rise again, until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place 2-3 slits in tops of loaves with a sharp knife. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and loaf sounds hollow when thumped. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve warm.


Enjoy:)

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Almond Bark - Nut Krispies

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Blizzard Draco moved through yesterday, and we survived. It was the worst snow storm I have been through in years. Of course, the benefit to being house bound was lots of time to bake! We were fortunate to not lose power even once through the storm. The winds pounded us, more than the snowfall. The deepest drift I have seen yet, was blocking my path to my chickens and must have been at least 7 foot deep. This girl is not made to handle these conditions! Thankfully, Truckin' Man stayed home during the storm, and he has everything plowed out so I can get to where I need to be! 



One of the treats I made yesterday, doesn't require baking. It's a simple recipe, and so very popular! It is always one of the fastest to disappear from the cookie plates. My bestie borrowed this recipe a month ago to make up for homeless people in the Twin Cities that they were helping during a boot drive. It was nice to know that my recipe was helping out such a great cause. In the bestie's conversations with people about this recipe, it seems so many people know this recipe, but have their own twist on the ingredients. This is how I have been making these treats, since getting the recipe almost twenty years ago. I tried messing with the ingredients once, and swore I never would again. It's as close to perfect, as I am going to get it!




Almond Bark - Nut Krispies

1 1/4 lb. almond bark
1 c. peanut butter
1 c. dry roasted peanuts
1 c. miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 c. Rice Krispies

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  In 9 x 13 pan, melt almond bark in oven for 20-25 minutes. When almond bark is completely melted and smooth, remove from oven. Mix in peanut butter. Stir well. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until everything is coated with the peanut butter mixture. 

With tablespoon, drop spoonfuls onto wax paper. (I used my medium Pampered Chef Scoop for this). If the mixture starts to set up on you, put back in the oven for 3-4 minutes to warm up the mixture. Also, if the mixture gets to "runny" towards the end, add in a sprinkle or two of the cereal or peanuts to add some consistency back to the mix.

Let set until firm. Store in airtight container.

Enjoy :)

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Bark

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Oh, the weather outside is frightful and winter looks to be in full swing here!  Don't worry, it's to early for me to be complaining about snow. I really do look forward to having a white Christmas! After the snow fall today, and the system moving in tomorrow night, a White Christmas is what we will have! 

One bonus (for me) with the "bad" weather, is I am home more, with lots more time to get some baking done.  "Christmas Bark" is such a simple recipe, but it's a fun one. I think the pieces of  look so pretty on a cookie plate. Be careful with it though, just because it's simple, doesn't mean it's not addicting. With the salty sweet combo, you really can't go wrong.





Christmas Bark

16 oz. vanilla coating
2 c. pretzels (broken)
1 c. M&M's (Green and Red)
1-2 T. Christmas Sprinkles.

Line 10x15 baking sheet with wax paper.  Melt the candy coating, following package directions. 

Add pretzels and candy.  Mix well. Spread thinly on wax paper.  Sprinkle with "sprinkles".  Cool overnight. Break into pieces. 

Enjoy :)

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Spritz Cookies

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Christmas is approaching way to quickly, and I have so much to do! Honestly, when the days get this short, I get so unproductive (aka lazy). I try to do better, honestly I do! My Christmas baking is as far behind as everything else. My girlfriend and I teamed up the other night for a cookie baking session. We had so much fun, and got so much accomplished! If the weather stays decent, I am probably going to her house next week for a second bake-off. 

The most challenging cookie we tackled the other night was the spritz. Laura had complained that her spritz never turn out, I swear by my spritz. The recipe I rely on is out of my 1977 Betty Crocker Cooky Book. This recipe has never failed me.
Well..... Somewhere in one of my many moves, I lost a crucial part to my spritz maker. Fortunately, we had three cookie press's total, so we tried making our own press by substituting parts from others. Let me tell you right now, that does NOT work. No matter how many times you try. Apparently, each part is designed to work only with the set it is sold with. It may "fit" nicely into the other machines, but a nice cookie will not be formed. Unless you like Christmas tree's with spikes on them, then you would be super impressed!
 
 
 In the end, we ended up using the oldest press of all, the original non-electric hand twist style. 





How cool is this? My friend used the star blade to make candy cane shaped cookies!
I had never seen this shape before!


 


Spritz (Source: Betty Crocker)

1 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 t. salt
1 t. almond extract
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
Food Coloring (optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix butter, sugar, egg, salt and extract thoroughly.  Add flour and mix thoroughly.  If you are going to use food coloring, mix it into the dough at this time.  Using 1/4 to 1/2 of dough at time, force dough through the cooky press onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 6 to 9 minutes, or until set, but not brown. 

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Pumpkin Roll Bars

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Once fall arrives and we start having all the yummy fall flavors, I wish that I would treat us to them more often year round. This year, I made my own pumpkin puree, maybe that will spread the flavor through the year more? It really was so simple to make the puree, I will be doing that again!

Of course, after doing all that work making the puree, I wanted to try it, but on what? There were so many other desserts being shared for Thanksgiving, and we can only eat so much! After bringing home some office leftovers of a pumpkin roll, and Truckin' Man going crazy over that, I knew what direction I was going to head for a recipe. Pumpkin Roll Bars, I had just read about them over at The Recipe Critic.  Even though a pumpkin roll is easy (or so I am told), these were so simple. And they were sooo good! Pumpkiny goodness, with a cream cheese layer baked in, what more could you ask for? Of course, Truckin' Man loved them. He had a lot of driving to do last week, so I packed up a bunch for him to take with him.



Pumpkin Roll Bars (Source: The Recipe Critic)


6 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar

2 large eggs
1 15 oz. can pumpkin or 15 oz of fresh pumpkin puree

1 t. vanilla 
1/4 c. water
2 c. all purpose flour
2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt

Cream Cheese Filling
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a bowl, with electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until smooth. Beat in 2 eggs, pumpkin, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and water until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and combine until well blended. Spread 2/3 of the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, beat cream cheese, 1 egg, 1/4 cup sugar, and ½ teaspoon of vanilla until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over the pumpkin batter. Dollop the remaining pumpkin batter over the cream cheese batter and spread out as evenly as possible. With a  knife, swirl together the cream cheese and top layer of pumpkin batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the center of the pumpkin batter springs back when touched. Cool completely in pan, then cut into bars.

Enjoy :) 

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Monday, November 26, 2012

No-Bake Biscoff Cookies

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Cookie Butters.. Have you tried them? Do you like them? Or is Peanut Butter the only one for you? I absolutely adore Trader Joe's Cookie Butter, there is a special place in my cupboard for that insanely addicting spread. I finally tried Biscoff, and while it is good, I will have to say it did not win my affection. 


I bought the Biscoff to satisfy my curiosity about it's taste, but also to make these No-Bake Biscoff Cookies from Chef In Training. Truckin' Man is absolutely in love with these and thinks they are the best ever. I certainly can't argue when a recipe this simple makes him so happy!  And, it works as great portion control for me when he loves our sweet's as much as he loves these. I get to put them in the truck, save one or two back for me, and away the sweet's go. I am set and ready to make the next treat!



Cookie Butter


No-Bake Biscoff Cookies  

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. milk
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. Biscoff Spread
2 1/2 c. rolled oats
2 t. vanilla

Directions
In a large saucepan melt butter, milk and sugar, stirring, until it reaches a rolling boil. Let it boil 1 minute.
Remove from heat. Stir in Biscoff Spread, oats and vanilla until well mixed.
Place spoonfuls of batter on parchment or waxed paper.  Let cookies set up. Store in airtight container. 

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(Source: Chef In Training) 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Seasons are Changing for the Chickens

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The temperatures are dropping, and our free range chickens are having to make some changes to their lifestyle and diet. The endless supply of bugs and other treats they loved, are coming to an end. They are resorting to climbing the wood pile for the little insects to make them happy.



The ground is freezing, the puddles are now ice. 



The ladies are unaware of the dangers that lurk beyond the yard, and will wander into the woods to scratch away the leaves in attempts to find more bugs!

Since we have let the ladies be completely free range, we are having to make some changes. We had a large barn door we would just swing open for them every morning and let them do their thing. With winter weather coming, we have to keep the cold and snow away from that door. So, our awesome friend that has been helping out around the farm, built a little ramp for the ladies to go through an old window.


They will adapt to their new diet. They are happy chickens and still come running to see me when I get home... Should be a busy winter!


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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Stuffed Garlic Bread

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One year blogging? After looking back, my first post was on November 16, but it just doesn't seem possible. This really has grown to more than I ever expected, I didn't know if anyone other than my parents would read what I put out here! I have made great friendships through every path my blog takes. Amazingly awesome foodie friends.... learning and sharing with so many on my new venture of raising chickens....my gardening friends are so motivational and keep me moving! But, my biggest focus is food. I love it. You love it. We are just all a bunch of foodies! Besides meeting such amazing people, the inspiration from you all is HUGE! The recipes shared, techniques shared... I just love it and everyone out there so much :)




Since this is my one year anniversary, I wanted to make something special for ya'll. I haven't made this in such a long time, but it's one of my favorites. I got this recipe years ago... Back when Emeril still had his show on the Food Network. Yikes.. when I pulled up the original recipe off their website, it is dated as 2001! It's a forgiving recipe too...If you are missing one ingredient, just substitute something else in.



Stuffed Garlic Bread  (Source: Emeril Lagasse- Food Network)

1 loaf French or Italian bread about 22-inches in length
12 T. unsalted butter, softened
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. grated parmesan
1 1/2 t. Essence, recipe here
2 t. minced garlic
1 T. finely chopped parsley
1/4 t. salt
1 T. olive oil
3/4 lb Italian sausage, removed from the casing
1 c. thinly sliced yellow onion
1/2 c. thinly sliced green bell pepper (I used red)
Pinch crushed red pepper
1 T. chopped garlic

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Cut the bread in half lengthwise. Lay the two halves of bread cut-side up on the lined baking sheet.

In a small mixing bowl combine the butter, olive oil, grated Parmesan, Essence, garlic, parsley, and salt and mix well. Spread the butter mixture evenly onto the two halves of bread. Place on the baking sheet and bake until just starting to get bubbly but not brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and breaking up with a large wooden spoon, until cooked through and the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Add the onions, peppers, and red pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add the sausage back to the pan, and stir well. Spread the sausage mixture evenly over the bottom half of the bread and cover with the top half. Wrap in aluminum foil and return to the oven to warm through and for the flavors to blend, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove bread from the oven, slice and serve immediately.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Banana Nut Muffins with Oatmeal Streusel

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It's been a crazy couple weeks here. We had our first snow, it was pretty, then I wrecked my car. Not so pretty then. No damage to me... Yeay! The car is still waiting for the body shop and the insurance company to determine it's future. So, I switched over to my winter driver (which I should have been driving anyway), the brakes went out on that after work one night, and I got to carry groceries home. Again, no damage to me, and none to my jeep, but really?  My nerves are getting pretty rattled, and I can't get anything done when I can't get anywhere!

One of my days stuck home, I was going to make banana muffins with my VERY ready banana's. Enough of making the banana's wait another day already. I head for my killer muffin recipe and get ready to rock out some muffins. Nope, they call for a cup of oil, and I could at most get a third cup out of the bottle. Nothing is easy this week! I remembered a recipe I had bookmarked a long time ago, and pull that up. I didn't remember them being such a healthy muffin, but what the heck, at least I had all the ingredients for this recipe. O.M.G. They were one of the best muffins I have ever made! I don't think they surpassed my "unhealthy" banana muffins, but they really were super good. The recipe makes a dozen, and for the two of us, that lasts a couple days, but even that very last muffin was still moist and tasty.

Give 'em a shot, they can turn a bad week all around!



Banana Nut Muffins with Oatmeal Streusel (Source: MyRecipes)

Muffins:
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2/3 c. packed light brown sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana
3/4 c. milk
3 T. canola oil
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/4 c. chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)

Streusel:
6 T. regular oats
5 T. all-purpose flour
2 T. light brown sugar
2 T. butter, softened
1/4 t. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°  Combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Combine banana, milk, oil, vanilla and egg in a bowl; stir well. Add to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened; fold in walnuts (optional). Place 12 muffin cup liners in muffin cups. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups.

To prepare streusel, combine oats, 5 T. flour, 2T sugar, butter and 1/4 t. cinnamon. Blend with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle streusel over muffin batter. Bake at 375° for 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Store in air tight container.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Beer Bread

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I have always loved bread, most carbs in fact. If you were ever to offer me a choice between a biscuit and a piece of chocolate, I would take the biscuit.  Lucky for me, Truckin' man is the same way. Or unlucky? We always have so many carbs around. We crave them!

As far as baking breads, I am new to it. Back in the day, I would make fresh breads, but it was always from a mix. Well, except for banana bread, that one I have always managed on my own. Beer bread is one that was always from a mix too. I would get the mixes from the at home party places. Since I have moved away from the mixes and started making so many things from scratch, I have a HUGE problem with expiration dates. I pulled my last Beer Bread mix out of the cupboard last week, and couldn't remember when I bought it, and there was no expiration date on it. After staring at the box long enough, I remembered that I bought it before my girlfriend became a consultant for the company, so out the door that mix went. Next step, surfing for a recipe for Beer Bread.  I quickly settled on one from My Baking Addiction. It is such a simple recipe, I am wondering why I was buying the expensive mixes all those years?



Give it a shot. Use a beer you like. I used some Pumpkin Ale from Blue Moon. I was curious to see if the pumpkin flavor would come out more in baking, than it did in drinking. It did not. But, it did make a delicious beer bread!


Beer Bread 

3 c. self rising flour**(see note below)
1/3 c. sugar
1 t. kosher salt
12 oz. beer (Blue Moon was my choice)
2 T. melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8x4 inch loaf pan. In large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and beer.  Mix well. The mixture will be very thick. Pour into loaf pan and bake for about 55 minutes.

At the last three minutes of baking, remove from oven, brush the top of the loaf with the melted butter and return to oven for the final three minutes of baking.

**Note: If you don't have self rising flour, you can make it.   Directions can be found here, or below.
  1. Using a dry measure, measure the desired amount of flour into a separate container.
  2. For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  3. Mix to combine.

Enjoy :)

Source: My Baking Addiction

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

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Pumpkin Seeds are my number one reason for looking forward to Halloween every year. I absolutely love munching on them. And there are so many ways to make them. If you have never tried them, grab that last pumpkin you have decorating your outdoor step, and scoop out the seeds!

There are a bazillion recipes online with preparation methods, and recipes. They all start the same though, gut your pumpkin and clean the seeds. Get all those slimy stringy pieces and chunks out. Once you have all the chunks out, you are ready to start adding your flavors and making them tasty!  I like to spice them up, but also have just tossed them with olive oil, then give them a good sprinkle of kosher salt, and then bake.








Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
2 c. pumpkin seeds
1/4 c. melted butter
1/2 t. Tabasco
1 t. cayenne
1/2 t. cumin
1 T. chili powder

Combine all ingredients.  Bake at 300 degrees for 70 minutes or until crisp.  

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Roasted Sunflower Seeds

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Gardens are a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. When I was planting everything in my garden this spring, I had little bit's of space left along some of the edges. I wanted to make use of all my space, but know that I have to draw the line somewhere on what I can maintain. That meant using my leftover space for fun and color. Enter Sunflowers! I have never planted a sunflower seed before, so I decided to try them.


We went to a local fair in July that had a massive field full of sunflowers... I was in love!


 Soon after the fair, my own beauties started showing off!


They grew to sizes, I would have never imagined!


My mom shared a blog recipe with me for oven roasting your own sunflower seeds, 
so I cut the heads off and brought them up to the house.





After getting the heads to the house, you hold the head over a large pan or bucket and run your fingers across, and the seeds just fall out.  The ones toward the center that don't come out easy, aren't ready. Just leave them, you want the ones that fall off the head.  To the experienced sunflower roasters, there is probably a better way of getting the dried flower remains off so you don't have to pick all the little pieces out of your seeds before preparing them. I don't know that trick yet, so it was a little bit tedious (annoying!) to me.  All in all it was fun, and they are tasty. Not sure if I would go through the work again, but if you have more patience than I do, it's probably worth it!




Roasted Sunflower Seeds ( Source: My little cottage in the making)

Clean sunflower seeds of all the little dried flower bits.  Next, give them a good rinse to wash away any remaining dirt.  
In a large bowl, dissolve about 1/2 cup salt ( I used kosher).  Add your sunflower seeds to the salt water. They will float, so set another bowl or plate on top of them to hold them down into the salt water. Let them soak for at least 8 hours, up to 24. When you are ready to roast them, drain them in a colander, but DO NOT RINSE! You want all that salty goodness to stay on them.

Place on cookie sheet in single layer. Roast at 300 degree's for 30 minutes. Stir them around half way through to prevent burning. At 30 minutes check to see if they are done. I ended up roasting mine for 20 minutes more (50 minutes total) until they were roasted to my taste.  

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pumpkin Cream Cheese

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November 1st... Allergies are finally leaving me, and I am feeling a little more back on my game. I missed decorating for Halloween, and have not been enjoying fall much until the last couple days. So, no more whining, time to get in gear and start enjoying my favorite time of year!!!

This week I made my first pumpkin treat of the season (told ya I am behind on everything!). Pumpkin Cream Cheese. This stuff is so dang good, it almost makes up for the fact that it's my first pumpkin adventure! Back in the city days, I would get a pumpkin bagel shmeared with pumpkin cream cheese from Einstein Bros. I just loved it, but again... that was back in the day. It was one of those foods that I just put out of my mind and learned to live without. Then... One day... On pinterest... You got it, I found Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread. Thank you for sharing, My Favorite Things!  




Pumpkin Cream Cheese (Source: My Favorite Things)

1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. canned pumpkin
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 t. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t. vanilla

Beat all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours*


**Note: The closer you wait to the 24 hours, the more this will just "wow" your tastebuds!! 

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Friday, October 26, 2012

The Pumpkin Patch

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We finally had our first freeze two weeks ago. That was the end of the growing season. As much as I hate to admit it, I am looking forward to a break from everything since I worked so hard all summer. Even with the freeze, my allergies have been so bad I have barely been outdoors in three weeks. I miss my animals, and all my outdoors stuff.

Yesterday, I took a quick walk through the garden just to start thinking about clean up (when the allergies allow), I was stunned to find a few veggies that had somehow survived the frost.

 Yummy!!

But, all veggies aside... my biggest pride and joy out of the garden this year was my amazing pumpkin patch!
We don't know for sure how much these big ones weigh, but rough guess of 100 lbs!



The pumpkins produced beyond what I ever expected, so I even sold some! My very first pumpkin customer's were more than happy to pose for a pic. Aren't they just the cutest???

Lil' Miss K, was just lovin' posing with her pumpkins and squash!

Happy Halloween All!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Crockpot Tavern Sandwich

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Have you ever had a Tavern before?? I have had this recipe for years, but never really new why it was named a "Tavern". It's very much like a "Sloppy Joe" or whatever name they may have in your region. Thanks again to Wikipedia for giving me the answer... Tavern Sandwich is a regional term originating from Iowa for a "Sloppy Joe". I lived in Iowa for years, and still live very close to Iowa, but I am sure I didn't get the recipe from any one I know in the area. Oh well. That's what I get for not keeping track of where my recipes come from!

This is a great crockpot recipe for your busy days. I brown the meat the night before, throw it all in the crockpot in the morning, and the guys could feed themselves! Have the slotted spoon close at hand, since these are super juicy. They go perfect on a crusty bun, and would be great with a side of mac and cheese!



Crockpot Tavern Sandwich

2 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 large onion - chopped
1 c. ketchup
1 t. chili powder
1 t. dry mustard
1 t. salt
1 t. Worcestershire Sauce
2 c. beef broth or water

In skillet, brown ground beef; drain well.  Place browned beef and remaining ingredients in crockpot.  Stir well to mix all ingredients.  Cover and cook on low setting for 8 - 10 hours.

Enjoy :) 


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Thursday, October 18, 2012

White Rice with Toasted Angel Hair Pasta

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I LOVE watching my foodie shows. Learning new cooking techniques, new recipes, and sometimes the shock factor of what other people eat! I enjoy the Food Network, but sometimes get tired of it. The Cooking Channel is not offered here (sob), so one day I found myself over at PBS. Does anyone else watch the cooking shows over there? I was in shock at how many are aired. I set my DVR to record Pati's Mexican Table, and am so glad I did! I came to find out it was her first season, and her second season is starting soon. I am going to be checking into more of the shows over at PBS now!

Pati's Mexican Table is a great show. Pati teaches you Mexican cooking, something I would truly love to learn. So, the other night when I was looking for a side dish, I remembered a simple dish she made on her show. Why not start simple? I loved it!  If you haven't seen Pati's show, please check it out... and try this recipe! The only change I made to it, was to add some cilantro... Just because I love cilantro!




White Rice with Toasted Angel Hair Pasta (Source: Pati's Mexican Table)

2 cups white rice
1/4
c. vegetable oil  

1 c. angel hair pasta, broken into pieces  
1/4 c. white onion, diced  
1 garlic clove, minced 
4 c. water or chicken broth 
1 T. fresh lime juice 
1 t. kosher salt
1/4 c. chopped cilantro 
 
Soak white rice in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again. In a cooking pot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Add the angel hair and fry for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. It should be browned but not burnt. (On the show she describes the color as "tanned")

Add the drained rice, cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Rice should reach a milky white color and it feels and sounds heavier when you move it.

Add onion and garlic, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Add water or broth to the rice, add the salt and lime juice.  Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover with the lid, and cook for about 20 minutes.

The rice is ready when the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender and cooked. Turn off the heat and keep it covered for at least 5 minutes. Add cilantro.  Fluff with a fork and serve. 


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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Homemade Butterfinger Bites

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Butterfinger candy bars have long been one of my top five favorite candy bars. Snack size, miniatures, king size..  whatever size, you can't go wrong. A Dairy Queen Blizzard with chopped Butterfingers mixed in... heavenly! With my love for Butterfingers, I was curious about this recipe when I first stumbled across it. Could you really make a Butterfinger candy bar with 3 ingredients? In my own kitchen?? 

Well, finally a year later, I bought the candy corn. Step one accomplished! I surfed through numerous recipes, comparing them. All very similar, just slight variations. I finally decided to go for it! I was so worried that I was throwing away a jar of peanut butter, and a bag of chocolate chips for this. No worries though... It was a complete success! All of my friends who have tried these, LOVE them. The texture is not as crisp as the candy bar, but the flavor is just amazing! 



Homemade Butterfinger Bites (Inspired by Plain Chicken and The Baking Robot)

16 oz. candy corn
16 oz. creamy peanut butter
12 oz. milk chocolate chips
1 T. Shortening (optional)

Line 8”x8” pan with wax paper. Melt candy corn in microwave for one minute.  Stir, and continue in 30-second intervals until melted. Stir after each interval. Stir in peanut butter.

Spread mixture into pan and cool completely. Cut into bite sizes. Trim edges if necessary.

Melt chocolate according to package instructions. If needed, add one tablespoon vegetable shortening to thin the chocolate.  With fork, dip each "bite" into melted chocolate and completely cover. Place on waxed paper until set. Store in airtight container.

Enjoy :) 

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chow Mein Casserole

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Hot Dish or Casserole? What are they called in your house? I have lived in several different area's of the midwest, and had to learn to change with the region on what the dish is that I am baking. In Iowa, it was always "Casserole". After moving to Minnesota, I had to switch to talking about baking a "Hot Dish". Here in Wisconsin, both terms are used.  Some people believe that it has to do with the region and what the religion of the area is, meaning Catholic or other. When getting ready to post this recipe, I did a little research on this topic. On Wikipedia, their research found that a "Hotdish" is a variety of baked casserole, that in the end is mixed with a "canned soup". What do you called your baked dishes?? 

Now that I have all that out of the way... (I got on a little research tangent there just because I typed "Casserole" in the title of the post)... I have been so busy lately, and not feeling the greatest, so I have been counting on some of my quick and easy recipes. Some times you just don't have the energy to be in the kitchen. This recipe is like that for me. Brown the meat while the rice is cooking, throw it together, bake, done.  You are ready for dinner!




Chow Mein Casserole

1 lb. ground pork ( ground chicken also works well)
1 6 oz. bag Chow Mein noodles (divided)
1 c. cashews (add more if you are like me and LOVE cashews)
1 pkt Chow Mein seasoning
1 28 oz can Chow Mein vegetables
2 c. cooked white rice

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare rice.  Brown meat, drain.  Prepare seasoning, following directions on packet.  Add meat and vegetables to seasoning mixture.  Bring to boil, and cook for 10 minutes.  

In small roasting pan, layer as follows: Meat Mixture, 3/4 bag of noodles, rice, and cashews.  Cover with foil, and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and mix ingredients thoroughly.  Serve with soy sauce, and reserved Chow Mein noodles. 

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