Monday, April 30, 2012

Foodie Pen Pals

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My second month of the Foodie Penpal program was....well... interesting.

I sent my package of the month to the delightful Rachel, from Three Men and a Little Lady . Rachel is also starting to raise chickens herself, so it was fun to see how things were going for her. She is even venturing out further than I am, and raising ducks, too! Check out her blog and her adventures. You can also see the Wisconsin goodies that I sent to her. 

I don't have anything to right about for my own package this month. Casey, that was linked up with me to send my package, sent me this.





That was pretty disappointing for me. Since I have "nothing" to post for this month, here is a link to the box that the lovely Anne of From my Sweet Heart sent me last month. If you love good food, you should check out her blog. The Blackberry Cheesecake that she most recently posted is teasing me right now.  I will have to make my first attempt at cheesecake soon!!

I had so much fun in the first month of the program, I am going to participate again. I can't let one bad egg ruin my fun!~ If you are interested in participating in the Foodie Penpals, click here for all the details and the sign up form. It really is a fun group, and having people like Anne send you tremendous packages makes it all worth while!

The Lean Green Bean

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Blackberry Lemonade Muffins

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I am approaching my 6 month anniversary of having my blog. I have been having so much fun with this, and absolutely love the people I have been meeting through this great new network. The tips, idea's, and recipes that are shared are priceless.  These have all been great for me to break out of my routines and try new recipes and approaches to different food. If only I had more days in the week, to try more of the foods on my list!

Blackberries. I love baking with you. This is a muffin recipe that From Cupcakes to Caviar shared on her blog. It peaked my interest when first reading it, as I have one standard blackberry muffin recipe that I always go to.  I went for it! Time to try something new! It made such a thick batter, I was really frightened that I was going to have a flop. But with further reading, I saw that this thickness was correct. This is hands down, one of the most amazing muffins I have ever made. 



Blackberry Lemonade Muffins  (Source: From Cupcakes to Caviar)

2 c. flour
5 T. sugar
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. lemonade concentrate, thawed
1/2 c. milk
1/3 c. unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
16 oz. frozen blackberries (keep frozen)
Coarse Sugar 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line muffin cups.  

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients except for the berries.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until moistened. Fold in the berries*

Fill muffin cups about 3/4′s full. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired.  Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Approximately 20-25 minutes. Let muffins cool in pan for several minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

** The batter will be very thick.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Peanut Butter Granola

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I am such a grazer. Most days I could get by without any meals, if I had enough food to graze on. Every time I go through the kitchen, I need a bite of something. This can be a nasty habit depending on the snack and food choices we have on hand! I am always on the lookout for bite size snacks that can help me stay away from the sugar cookies!

I stumbled across this yummy recipe and fabulous blog, thanks to Pinterest. Pinterest is the new go to website, isn't it?? Delightful Country Cooking has some wonderful recipes, you should check them out!  I tweaked her recipe, for my Peanut Butter Granola, that is my new addiction!



Peanut Butter Granola (adapted from Delightful Country Cooking)

3 c. old-fashioned oats
3/4 c. sliced almonds
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1 1/4 c. honey
1 c. Grape-Nuts cereal
1 T. melted butter
1/4 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. ground flax seed
1 T. cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried bananas, chopped into small pieces

Combine oats, almonds, and sunflower seeds.  Spread on cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.

In large bowl combine Grape-Nuts, butter, peanut butter, ground flax seed, cinnamon, and honey.  Add the oatmeal mixture; mix until well coated.  Spread on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 325 for 20 minutes.  Cool.

Once cooled, break the granola into small bits and stir in dried fruit**.  Keep in an airtight container for up to 2 months.  

**If you would like to make your own dried bananas, follow the instructions that Delightful Country Cooking has on her recipe. Simple, and fantastic idea!

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Morel Mushroom

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Tis the season...  The season that I look forward to all year. Morel Mushroom Season.  Those delectable little mushrooms that, with a little time and effort, you can pick out in nature. Or if you are super lucky, like my aunt, they grow in your yard... in town!  Yeah.. she is just to cool! 

I have been a morel girl for as long as I can remember.  I remember "hunting" them with my parents probably starting about 4 years old. We would head out to the woods every spring. Some elderly neighbors also let us hunt in their woods.  We would bring 'em home, Mom would clean them, then fry them up.  This was a yearly event.  Years later, living in the cities, I had better things to do with my time (yeah right). But, my parents still went out to the state parks that were nearby, and fought the hundreds of other city dwellers, and found the morels. 

Now that I am living back in the sticks, I have plenty of land to for hunt them. I am learning the spots here that produce better than others.



To buy these lil' guys in the store, it is insanely expensive.  For a package of dried morels, the price is around $20 for a small ounce package.  The website I just checked for current pricing was $39 for 2 ounces dried! Ouch! I can pick a pound easy, most years,
in one hike through the woods.  This year is going to be a little more challenging with the
dry weather we have been having. 



The standard way of cooking Morel's is to slice them in half. Dip into an egg wash. Roll in crushed cracker crumbs, then fry in obscene amounts of butter.  In searching for other recipes to use them in, I found that they eat them using similar cooking methods in Turkey.
They were featured on this Turkish Blog last year.

I made it out yesterday for my second hunt of the season, and they are growing. Hopefully the biggest and best morels of the season yet to come. 
Thanks to Pinterest, I have lots of new recipes I can't wait to try them in!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chickens - Week 4

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The chickies are doing great!  Cornish Rocks are growing like crazy.. Still a little creepy to me how fast they grow! One of them did have a little accident on his toe last week, so we had to make up a "sick bay" for him to recover in. He wasn't in much pain, but the others were picking at the injury. His "friends" really are pretty mean.  But, he recovered and has been moved back in with the rest of the flock and is fine.

Pictures were a bit hard to get for the weekends growth report.  The weather was pretty crappy, which made it challenging to get some decent pics. They weren't out as much, and when they were, the wind was so nasty they went back inside pretty quickly.






Monday, April 9, 2012

Slow Cooker Pork Roast

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Over the winter, I had purchased a variety pack of meat from a local CSA. One of the items was a Pork Roast. Since it was my first time buying anything from a CSA, I wanted to do something a little different with it, to give the meat a chance to shine through and not be to covered in a sauce. That seemed the  best way for me to judge the quality of this meat and see if I wanted to purchase more.

I finally found a recipe that seemed to be what I was looking for. It had nice flavor, but wasn't to heavy. It was delicious! The meat definitely shined through! Served with Maple Glazed Carrots and some Garlic Smashed potatoes, the meal was complete.



Slow Cooker Pork Roast (adapted from Allrecipes.com)

1 large onion, sliced
2 1/2 pound pork roast
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1 c. hot water
1/4 c. sugar
3 T. cider vinegar
2 T. soy sauce
1T. ketchup
1/2 t. garlic powder

Season roast with salt and pepper.  In large pan, brown roast all both sides.  Arrange onion slices evenly over the bottom of the slow cooker.  Place roast on top of the onions.  In bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Pour over roast.

Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours, or high for 3-4 hours.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Chicken Update!

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The lil' baby chickens are growing!  Oh my, they are growing so fast! I haven't been around chickens since I was less than ten years old, so a lot of fuzzy memories, and things that amaze me now!

I will admit, I learned of another insane personality trait I possess. Apparently I have a need to sing to my chickens. You should feel very bad for these poor lil' chicks, cuz me singing.... is NOT a good thing. I sing in the shower when no one else is on the property, and I sing when alone in the car. That's it, until now. Poor chicks. The other sad part is, for some completely bizarre reason, I feel the need to sing "Rockin' Robin" to them. With this obsession, I have learned that I do NOT know the lyrics to this song. I can muddle my way through the chorus, and that's it. So, about all these chicks get is "Tweet Tweet... Tweedle...leee...deee." Yes, my chickens are tortured.



Anyway, back to the chicks... the Cornish Rocks are HUGE! Their legs are about catching up with the thickness of my pinky finger, stocky birds. Since getting them, I have learned that they do grow VERY fast.  The Red Pullets, are growing, but not nearly as fast. It's hard to catch in photo's, but the pullets are really starting to change colors, and are going to be a pretty bird.

Here are a couple pics of old and new... I pulled some old together to help show how much they have grown.

 Week 1

 Week 2


 Week 3

Tippy is interested in them, but seems peaceful so far.


Rusty just loves them, and races me to the coop.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Angie's Sugar Cookies

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Last weekend, my friend Angie and I, went to my mom's house for a "girls day" of baking cookies.  We had a so much fun..... to much sugar, caffeine, pizza, and made WAY to many cookies! For 3 families of 2, over a hundred cookies, may have been a bit much. But, let me tell you, these were amazing cookies! When Ang and I were setting up the date, we were discussing recipes. I wanted to try her recipe for something different. I have been using the same recipe for so long, I thought something new would be good. Dang glad we agreed on using her recipes. Even my truckin man (that prefers my old cookies, to bakery cookies) could not get enough of these. And amazingly enough, one week later, our portion of the cookies are gone. All ate up, and not a crumb to be found.

You'll be getting to try some more of Ang's recipes, as she is going to be posting on here soon and sharing some of her dishes. Trust me, you'll love her creations! In the mean time, grab some butter and give these a shot!





Angie's Sugar Cookies
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 c. flour

In large bowl, blend butter, shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Mix in flour, baking powder, and salt. Chill at least one hour.  
Heat oven to 400 degrees.  On floured surface, roll dough 1/4 inch thick.  Cut with a flour dipped cookie cutter.  Shake excess flour off by tossing back and forth on hands.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake only until there is a hint of brown around the edges. (Cookies will stay soft.)  Cool and frost.

Angie's Buttercream Frosting
3 c. butter
9 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla 
In mixing bowl, cream butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes. (After every 2 additions, increase speed to high, and beat for 10 seconds, then reduce speed to medium-high). Add vanilla, and beat until buttercream is smooth. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using.)

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