Friday, March 30, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals!!

The Lean Green Bean

Early in March, I read about this awesome club called Foodie Pen Pals! I joined immediately! It has turned out to be as fun as I hoped it would.Lindsay over at The Lean Green Been coordinates this program, and she matches you up with someone new every month.

My package of the month was sent from Anne over at From My Sweetheart. Her blog has as many  yummy and delicious treats as my box had! Anne lives near Washington DC, so she has the lovely store called Trader Joe's nearby. Since she has introduced me to the tasty treats they have there, I will be stopping at a Trader Joe's next time I am near civilization!

What a treat to open this up! It truly was like celebrating Christmas in March!
 Old Bay Seasoning with Anne's favorite recipe for Crab dip. As soon as our seafood truck starts running up here again, I will be trying this!

Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds. Really? I have never heard of these before. I only sample a few of them to see how yummy they are. I am holding out to try them this weekend in Anne's recipe for SunFlower Seed Cookies! This is the most spring like, yummy treat I have seen this year. Love the colors!

How did she know that I have always wanted to try growing Basil? Smart!

Let me tell you, these little lemon cookies are so dang amazing! If I could walk into Trader Joe's for just one thing it would be for another bag of these! Just like having a little bite of sunshine :)

Thanks so much Anne for an awesome box and a great first month of belonging to this fun club!
Here is the scoop on the program in case you are interested in joining 
in spreading some foodie joy!!

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 

-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I'm going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!
If you’re interested in participating for April, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions. 
You must submit your information by April 4th as pairings will be emailed on April 5th!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rotisserie "Chicken Scratch" Chicken

It seems like it has been so hard to get any cooking accomplished the last two weeks.  Adding a flock of chickens to our lives has definitely been an adjustment. Hmmm . . . . Does a dozen chickens make a flock? Not sure, but in my book it does!

Add to the chickens, the fact that truckin' man has been having mechanical issues. I had to take off at midnight one night last week to go pick him up. I spent an hour drivin' to get to the repair shop he was going to, only to have him not be there. Checked all the local truck stops.... not there either... and believe me, even though this isn't exactly a high population area, trolling around the truck stops at 2 a.m. was NOT my favorite thing to be doin'! Super long story short, I gave up and headed for home. Please note that during all this, I am ringing his phone every five to ten minutes.  Well, his phone finally decided to start working about 2:30 a.m., once I was about 5 miles from home. Since I hadn't called him, he parked at an empty lot while he was waiting for me. I think it is finally time to quit talking about getting him a new phone and just do it!!! I was then late for work the next morning, and still had to get our youngest Hazel in, to get her spayed. Yikes, was I beat!

After a week of lots of pizzas, frozen foods and fast foods, I finally was able to get back in the kitchen this weekend. Sunday, I was able to try a couple recipes that have been on my list from South Your Mouth.  I just LOVE southern food, it may not always be the healthiest, but you can count on it tasting the best!  For dinner, we had Chicken and Greasy Rice, adapted to fit my timing issues.  Then for dessert Suck It, Betty Crocker Chocolate Cake. I didn't get a pic of this cake, I didn't get it frosted either. Sometimes, there just isn't time to do anything but grab a fork!  If you like chocolate, you have to try it :)

I really wanted to try the Slow Roasted Oven method in the recipe, but by the time I got my act together, I didn't have enough time. So, I pulled out my Baby George Rotisserie.  Rubbed down my chicken with this amazing Chicken Scratch Recipe. Set the timer for 90 minutes, and done! YUM! I can't wait to use this seasoning blend again! 

Chicken Scratch (Source: South Your Mouth)

2 T. salt
2 T. paprika
2 T. garlic powder
1 T. dried thyme
1 T. onion powder 
1 T. white pepper
1 T. black pepper
1 T. cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients together, and store in an airtight container.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

More Signs of Spring

The chicks are all doing so good! Everyone is healthy, and there have been no casualties yet! I am so excited. Last week we moved them out of the temporary housing and into the temporary coop. No rodents or wild critters have harmed them or been a threat yet. Our great killer watch dog has met them, and amazingly enough, he has shown no aggression towards them. I think we are going to have a successful season of chicken farming! 
Whooo Hooo!

The garden preparation is underway, and has been being bulldozed..... 
Yes, we own a bulldozer, doesn't everyone have one of those parked in the garage? During my truckin' mans last couple days home, he has cleared the tree's that had surrounded my garden, and has been working on clearing more ground for it! Yeay! It's so nice to have all this stuff being taken care of so early in the season.

HOLD ON! We're goin' for a ride!

One of the Red Pullets

Aren't they cute?

More Cuteness!

Bleeding Hearts are already in Bloom!

Hosta's are growing like crazy!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spring is here!

Spring has sprung and what a beautiful week.  I may be a little concerned how hot this summer is going to be at this rate, but no point in worrying about that now. Just going to enjoy it!! 

I stopped after work yesterday and picked up some baby chicks. Not really a whim purchase, but kind of.  This is the first time I have been around chickens since I was a kid. I almost said what decade that was in, but that made me feel to old, so we'll skip that part. . . . .   We planned to get the chicks set up once we were both home, but truckin' man got stuck on the road MUCH longer than anticipated, so I had to get the chicks set up myself. It was a little more work than I planned on, but I got it done. And 24 hours later, all birds are alive and doing well. 

We had planned on going to Madison to hit the big green house this weekend, but it looks like that will get pushed back to another weekend. With the time at home, and the lovely weather, I hit the flower beds today and found so many beautiful green surprises.  

I think I finally figured out the problem with the comments not working on here. Looks like it anyway!

Here is my weekend so far :) 

The chicks....  Cornish Rocks and Red Pullets

Red Pullet

Cornish Rock

My beautiful Tiger Lilies coming to life

Coreposis...  Really need to thin this out soon!

Hosta's are starting, too.

Bleeding Hearts just starting to break through.

Oh my gosh... I couldn't believe there was spinach growing in the garden. 
A dandelion trying to keep it company, of course!

Lilac Tree's already have buds on them

New growth on the pine tree's that survived their first year

Burdock... My dog loves to embed this nasty stuff in his coat

Look over there... Isn't that more burdock for me to go roll in?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Red Chile Chicken with Rice and Black Beans

This dish has been a long time coming for me. I first saw the recipe back in October, and it immediately went onto my must try list. The delay was due to the spice it called for, "Ancho Chili Powder".  I'd never tasted or heard of Ancho Chili Powder before, so I was not about to substitute. I was now on a mission to find that spice. Living out in the middle of farm country, that was not an easy task. I finally found that Penzey's sold it, so I sent for it in my most recent order. I am so glad I waited, its a lovely smokey chili flavor, without much my opinion :) But I like things with a little kick, so most don't always agree with my thoughts on what is hot or not. You try it and decide! 

Red Chile Chicken with Rice and Black Beans (adapted from Smells Like Home)

2 T. canola oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 1/2 T. ancho chili powder, divided
1 large onion, diced
1 c. white rice
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 c. chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a large heavy pot, over medium high heat.  Season chicken breasts with salt and 1 Tablespoon of ancho chili powder.  Place chicken in hot oil, and brown on each side, about 3 minutes.  Remove chicken to plate, leaving behind as much oil as possible.  

Add onion and rice to pot. Stir for several minutes, until the rice turns from translucent to opaque.  Add garlic and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of ancho chili powder. Cook one minute, and then add broth and salt, to taste.  Stir well.  Bring mixture to boil, then reduce heat to medium low.  Cover, and cook for 10 minutes.  

Cut chicken into 1" pieces.  Add them to the pot along with beans.  Cover and cook 12 minutes longer, or until rice is tender. 

Top with additional cilantro, sour cream and cheese and desired.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cheeseburger Soup

It seems as though we have survived winter.  We hit 60 degree's this week. For Wisconsin, in March, that is pretty amazing!  Other than bad road conditions from ice, I certainly didn't have as many complaints as normal this year.  

Sadly, my laptop is in for repair, so getting online has been a little challenging these last couple days. I hope it is back from the repair shop soon! Note for cat owners:  Do not leave your morning coffee sitting unattended next to the laptop. Learn from my mistake!!!

I did have one last winter soup I wanted to get made because I know I will never get it made during warmer weather.  This isn't a typical soup for me, as it has Velveeta cheese in it, which I am not a huge fan of.  But, this is one of my favorite soups!  Apparently, my trucker has never had Velveeta cheese before, so when I was buying cheese that wasn't refrigerated, he was a little worried what the heck I was making. In the end, he admitted he also really liked this soup (with the weird cheese)! 

Cheeseburger Soup 

2 C. water
2 1/2 C. cubed potatoes
2 carrots, grated
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 c. green pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t. salt
2 cubes beef bullion
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
2 1/2 c. milk, divided
3 T. flour
1/2 lb. Velveeta, cubed
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg

In large saucepan add water, potatoes, carrots, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic.  Sprinkle salt and bullion over mixture.  Over medium heat, bring to boil. Then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until your potatoes are tender.

While your veggie mix is cooking, in skillet cook beef until brown; drain. When the potatoes are tender, add beef and 2 cups of milk to the saucepan. Combine remaining 1/2 c. milk with flour, stirring until smooth; add to soup.  Bring to a low boil and cook, stirring until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Reduce heat to low, and stir in cheese until melted.  Add cayenne pepper and a couple grinds of nutmeg.

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Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen - Manic Monday