Saturday, December 28, 2013

Top 10 of 2013

I've seen some other blogs sharing their most popular recipes of the past year, which made me curious. What were the most popular recipes I had shared? 
I pulled these recipes together to share with you in a year end recap. 
I'm now feeling the urge to make some Baked Ham Balls, and some Buttery Garlic Ranch Pretzels!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Random 5 Friday

So, I am trying something new on the blog today. 
For some time now, I have been reading Random 5 Friday where some of my blogger friends link up. 
I've decided to give this a try, and see how I like it.
Rules are:  Share 5 random facts about you, your day, your pets, your kids, whatever!

Random 5 Friday

The new snow plow driver in our township is awesome, he is making winter a lot easier to handle.

I received several new cookbooks for Christmas, I am so excited to start reading them.

I wish our snow plow driver was our mail carrier. A PO Box may be in order if we want to get our mail.

Trying a new recipe for cabbage and ham soup tomorrow. It was recommended by a friend.

Our Christmas tree will be up for a few more days. My parents make a point of visiting every year to see our tree, and the way the roads have been, they haven't been here yet.

Linking up with Nancy @ A Rural Journal

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Winter is here - A week in photo's

We have had a couple weather systems move through in the last week. 
First we had an ice system move through. Luckily, we didn't get hit bad. 
Once the roads were cleared, I admitted it was kind of pretty!

 These boots AREN'T made for walking.  
Hard working trudging through the snow with these, when you have to be careful for the ice underneath it all!

Truckin' Man is home for the holidays. He is now on duty for the wood stove. 
Kind of like the start of a vacation for me :)

We all went for a walk today. Rusty loves when Truckin' Man is home, too. 
He gets to kick back and relax from guard dog duties for a while.

We went to see my grandparents yesterday before the snow started. 
Gram sent me home with this lovely blanket. I wish I had her talent!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Homemade Gumdrops

I was wanting to break out of the tried and true recipes this Christmas season, and try to make some new treats. Between Pinterest, and so many amazing bloggers sharing their recipes, I was INSPIRED! One ended up being a disappointment, but out of all the new recipes I tried, that really isn't bad. Most of them were good! I even made caramels for the first time ever .... patting myself on the back for succeeding on that one. 

Then, I had a recipe that I found absolutely outstanding! Homemade Gumdrops! I have no idea how I stumbled across this one, but it was one of those I couldn't get out of my head. I just had to try it! I am so in love with these little goodies! I could have dressed them up a little more and used a cookie cutter, but I don't have any miniature cookie cutters. Plus, I figured with just cutting them into squares, I would have less waste. I am so glad I did it this way!

You can make these with whatever flavor of gelatin you like. You could even make these up with your favorite football team colors for a great game snack! I am so not a football person, but I know people love their game time foods!

Homemade Gumdrops (Source: Mom On Timeout)

2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 - 3 oz pkgs flavored gelatin
2 - .25 oz envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 tsp lemon juice

Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Set in refrigerator to chill.

Add 2 cups sugar, applesauce, gelatin, unflavored gelatin and lemon juice to a large saucepan. Stir until combined, then let stand for 1 minute.  Stirring constantly, bring gelatin mixture to a boil over medium heat.  Boil for one minute, then pour into the refrigerated pan.  Refrigerate overnight, or until completely set.

Cut around the sides of the pan to loosen the gelatin. Carefully, remove from pan, and place on cutting board. Be VERY careful doing this to not let the set gelatin fold over onto itself (It will take a lot of work to release it, if this happens!)

Using a sharp knife, cut the gelatin into horizontal rows, then cut vertically to make square shaped gumdrops. (You could use cookie cutters here, if you like)

Cut a sheet of wax paper larger than the pan.  Sprinkle remaining half cup of sugar over the paper, push each gumdrop into the sugar,  and let set on top of sugar.  Let dry overnight. Toss gumdrops around in the remaining sugar.  Store in airtight container.


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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Our Little Man

It's been a rough year for our chickens. Sadly, we lost some beautiful birds. 
Things are better now, we just have a smaller flock.

One of our joys is our little man, Punky. When we got him as a chick, we were not told a breed, just that he was a bantam.  It didn't take long for me to research his specific features, and learn that he is a Porcelain D'Ucle Bantam.

This is Punky back in May.

The more he grew, the more rooster characteristics we saw.

Punky is growing up. Truckin' Man told me about something Punky did about a month ago, but I did not witness it myself until this past week. 
Our little Punky, is crowing! It is the cutest little crow!

Today, Punky spends most of his time in the general vicinity of anywhere 
Butterscotch, our Cochin Bantam, is.

I think Punky likes the way Butterscotch walks!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tiger Butter

A few months ago, I found a food blog that was new to me, Southern Plate.   I even won a cookbook by the author of Southern Plate, Christy Jordan. After reading through her blog, I found recipes there, as well as her cookbook, that I am so anxious to try.

Let's start with Tiger Butter. I feel like I have been missing out on a very important treat that I had never experienced until this past week.  Am I the only one that has never heard of this before? I did a quick google search on it this morning, and it is quite popular. There are tons of versions and recipes, but it all comes down to two key things. Chocolate. And. Peanut Butter. Sign me up for this treat please!  What I am sharing with you today is a bark. It's quick. It's simple. It's 3 ingredients! So, if you need a last minute recipe to impress, make this!

Ever since making this, I keep remembering commercial's from the 70's for Reese's Peanut Butter cups. These commercials are so funny to watch today. Do you remember these commercials?

Tiger Butter (Slightly Adapted From: Southern Plate)

1 lb White Almond Bark
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large microwave safe bowl, break almond bark into chunks. Melt according to directions on package.  When completely melted, add in peanut butter. Stir until completely mixed.  Pour onto lined sheet pan. Smooth and spread with spatula, until desired thickness of bark is reached.

In small microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips following package directions. Drop spoonfuls of melted chocolate onto peanut butter mixture. Swirl with a knife (have fun with this!).

Set pan aside to cool and harden, or refrigerate for faster results. When hardened, break into pieces, and store in airtight container.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sour Cream Cookies

It's time to "Fill the Cookie Jar"! This month, Cynthia challenged the group to bring our best holiday cookies. So, today I bring to you Sour Cream Cookies! My mom and I have been baking these cookies as long as I can remember. The recipe is in an old church cookbook that is slowly loosing it's binding...  I do wish there was a way to get it put back together with some some new spiral binding! It is my go to cookbook for so many recipes. Like this one!

This dough is so soft, it's like working with a "pillow" of cookie dough. It really is a dream to work with. The cookies are very soft, with soft lines. I love how my snowflake cookies turn out with this recipe. Depending on the size and shape of your cookies, this can be a lot of cookies, so I often cut the recipe in half.

If you are interested in joining Fill The Cookie Jar group on facebook, fill out the form that can be found at Fill The Cookie Jar. Each month we bake a different theme for the cookie.
We bake, we share and we enjoy our cookies!

***12/3/17***Update. Making cookies today, and it's unseasonably warm outside, so it is quite warm in the house as well. And humid do to all the cooking I am doing. This resulted in a very sticky cookie dough. If this ever happens to you, add additional flour, 1/4 cup at a time until it is workable and not so sticky.

Sour Cream Cookies
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shortening(Crisco)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In large bowl, blend sugar, sour cream, shortening, eggs, and vanilla until combined. In medium bowl mix together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  Add dry ingredients to the sour cream mixture, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. (If dough is to sticky, and additional flour 1/4 cup at a time until dough is workable and not so sticky)

Divide dough into two balls.  On floured surface, roll dough out to between 1/8" and 1/4" thick, and cut with cookie cutter. Place on lined cookie sheets.  Bake for 10 minutes or just until a hint of golden-ness around the edges.

Cool on sheet 3-4 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack. Cool completely. Frost with your choice of frosting, and enjoy with as many of your favorite sprinkles as you like!

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Tree

We took some time away today to go cut down our Christmas Tree.  We try to do this every year, only one year we failed due to timing and bad weather. Today was the perfect day! We went to a local tree farm, Snowy Ridge Christmas Tree Farm. This lovely farm has made getting your Christmas Tree such a wonderful experience.

We walked all over the farm looking for the perfect tree. We walked and searched more than we needed to, just because it was such a beautiful day!

 We finally found the perfect tree, and Truckin' Man carried it back to the tree station.

These awesome folks shake and trim your tree. We had a couple brown branches, and they cleaned them up for us. They ask which vehicle is yours, and send you off to the warming shack while they wrap your tree for you!

Once you get to the warming shack, you are offered coffee or hot chocolate.  Rest your feet while sipping your beverage at a table with some cookies! They have everything decorated with adorable ornaments and decor that you can purchase, if you like. (I only bought a few things!)

The fun continues for kids of all ages! My friend, Michele and her kids, went the day before, and enjoyed roasting marshmallows over the campfire. Michele let me share her picture of the fun her kids were having with the day.... don't you wish you could pull up a stump with them and roast your own marshmallow?  They even took a ride on the Zip Line to the tree house!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Onion Rolls

You must know by now, my love and adoration of bread. Any kind of bread. Yeast breads are still a challenge for me, but I love them. I love seeing beautiful pictures of bread and reading recipes about how easy they are. Once in a great while I stumble across one, that I just know, was made just for me!

Today, I want to introduce you to BeBetsy. I stumbled across BeBetsy's blog completely accidentally. They had commented on a recipe I was reading from one of my favorite Carolina bloggers, and something about their comment made me click back through to see their blog. And there it was. In all it's goodness waiting for me to discover it. BeBetsy's recipe for Onion Rolls. This recipe, is no-knead, so I was already loving it. A simple, manageable recipe, that was full of onions that are GBD (Golden Brown Delicious). I thank my friend Kristine, for making me love the term GBD. Plus, with so much buttery goodness, the recipe was destined for success.

I don't know if it just me, but I have noticed that I have more success with certain brands of yeast, and definite failures with other brands. Coincidence? I don't know yet. But, I will suggest, if you are new to working with yeast, and have problems... Try a different brand and see if it helps you, it sure helped me!

Onion Rolls (Source: BeBetsy)

4 Tablespoon olive oil, divided
3 medium onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 cups luke warm water
2 packages active dry yeast
2 large eggs, room temperature
6 Tablespoon melted butter, divided (at room temp)
6 cups all-purpose flour

In large skillet, heat 3 tablespoon of olive oil, over medium-high heat.  Add onion, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown or caramel colored, About 20 minutes. Add more olive oil, if needed.

In a large bowl, add 2 cups of luke warm water (105-115 degrees F).  Sprinkle yeast over water, and let stand until it gets bubbly. Whisk eggs, then add to the yeast. Whisk in 4 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt.

Reserve 1/4 of the cooked onions.  Add remaining onions and flour to the yeast mixture.  Mix until a sticky dough forms.  Make sure all ingredients have come together, and is fully mixed. Brush top of the dough with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Set bowl in a warm area to rise until doubled in size, about one hour.

Butter a large baking pan (I used my baking stone). Once the dough is doubled, punch it down. Butter your hands, and form 24-30 balls, and space evenly on baking sheet. (I find that washing my hands occasionally in COLD water helps keep the dough from sticking so much to my hands) Sprinkle rolls evenly with reserved onions. Cover rolls loosely with plastic wrap. Set in warm area to rise until almost doubled in size.

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Uncover pan, and lightly brush with one tablespoon of melted butter. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. 

Optional, but recommended: Let cool for five minutes, and then brush with another tablespoon of melted butter.


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Monday, November 11, 2013

Cake Cookie Bars

Remember all those recipe cards I showed you a week or two ago that my mom had passed along for me? I am still in the process of sorting.  I ended up making a category of "Need to try soon"! I didn't think there was anything wrong with that category.

First up, Cake Cookie Bars. The name had me curious, plus it had all ingredients I had on hand, except one optional one. Mom did have that you could use crushed toffee bars in the topping, which I think would be a great addition, but I used chocolate chips. These bars are great! They are a little bit cake, and a little bit cookie, and a whole lotta bar!  Easy to throw together. Fun, different, and they are definitely a tasty treat. I especially loved them since they aren't overly sweet.

Make a pan of these bars .... You won't be sorry!

Cake Cookie Bars

2 cups brown sugar, packed
2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cup chocolate chips (or substitute crushed toffee bars)
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 x 13 pan, set aside.

In large bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour, and butter; mixing until thoroughly combined. Reserve one cup of mixture. In medium bowl, beat egg. To egg, add salt, soda, vanilla, and milk. Add egg mixture to large bowl. Mix until dry ingredients are completely incorporated into the egg mixture.

Pour batter into pan. Top with reserved cup of crumbs. Sprinkle nuts and chocolate chips over top.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Bars are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Swan Migration

We are lucky to live near the Upper Mississippi Wildlife & Fish Refuge that draw in the Tundra Swans that are migrating.  On our drive into "town" today, we found that the swans have arrived.

The view from Wisconsin, looking towards Minnesota. 
At this moment, I wished I had a higher powered lens!

 The dense patch of white is pelicans. The scatter white are swans.

 Binoculars are provided. If you are there early enough, no waiting line.

Later this week, or next week, I am planning to go to another site that is known for even better viewings. I am so excited and hope that the swans will be in close for our viewing pleasure!

Have a great week!

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Around the Farm

I got to go with on a small road trip this week, but not in the 18-wheeler, only 4 wheels this week. 
We headed to western Iowa to pick up a new trailer.
I was hoping for a beautiful fall day, but we had more fog and clouds than anything.

Lots of wind farms along the way.

The beans are all harvested. Today, the guys are working on corn.

I went for a walk yesterday, and my baby girl Tippy came with. 
It was a beautiful day for a walk.

Have a great week!

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Friday, November 1, 2013

Fall Harvest Roast with Whiskey Peach Sauce

Crops are coming off the fields now. That means that Truckin' Man is busier than ever, and he is also around the farmstead more than ever. That in turn means lots more cookin' for me! When he is on the road truckin' I typically just have leftovers. Maybe some stir fried noodles, sometimes even just a bowl of cereal... Not meals in Truckin' Mans eyes! So, for now I have to keep the "Real" meals flowing on a regular basis.

This Fall Harvest Roast is absolutely the most warming and filling fall meal. Served with some mashed potatoes, you can't go wrong. This meal leaves everyone satisfied, warmed up and ready for whatever needs tending to next!

Fall Harvest Roast with Whiskey Peach Sauce 

3 lb pork roast
Salt and Pepper
1 TBSP Olive Oil
4 apples, peeled and sliced
3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1"-2" chunks
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground thyme
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Whiskey Peach Sauce (Can substitute peach butter or apple butter)

Trim any excess fat from roast. Season roast with salt and pepper.  In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Sear roast on all sides, until browned.

In bottom of crock pot add apples, carrots, garlic, and apple cider.  Place roast in crock pot, on top of apples. 

In small bowl, combine brown sugar, thyme dry mustard, cinnamon, and Peach Whiskey Sauce. Mix until combined. Spread mixture over roast.  Cook, covered, on low for 7-8 hours.


Adapted From: Our Little Coop

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Around the Farm - The Perfect Fall Day

So many days of the past week have been so cool.
The winds have been blustery. 
There have even been snow flakes spotted.
Today is perfect.
Sun is shining.
Winds are gone.

I love the look of the hillsides when harvest has begun.

One of my projects while the weather had been blustery, was sorting through recipe cards that my mom cleaned out of her recipe box. Many written up by her, and others in each of my grandma's hand writing.

My recent hauls from the orchards has me so inspired with apple recipes. 
Truckin' Man's all time favorite dessert is Apple Pie. I rarely make it, because apple pies are a challenge for me. But, yesterday, I was inspired. I had 3 recipes waiting for me.
I decided on this recipe (click here) from Joy, at Yesterfood
Look at this pie! It's gorgeous! 
I even made the crust from scratch!

If you want to see what's up next on the apple baking list, check out these two.
From Mandy at South Your Mouth, Mama's Apple Cider Pie
From Anne at From My Sweet Heart, Cinnamon Applesauce Tart

Have a great week and watch out for those goblins!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cider Baked Beans

So, I have been sick. Nasty cold. Then enter seasonal allergies. Then laryngitis. This has all left me with a LOT of time on my hands. Scrabble, Words with Friends, Candy Crush. Uh oh... Did I just admit I play Candy Crush. Ok, move on, lets just forget that. I did finally get our Netflix going again so I could watch tv in the bedroom with my new vaporizer going. Yup, that's been the great excitement going on around here!

You would think this would leave me with a lot of time in the kitchen, but my energy just hasn't been there. And, I really don't want to be germy around all the food. BUT, I did test out a couple new recipes that didn't need a lot of hands on from me. And, ooooh my. Are you going to love 'em.

Since it is apple season, and I am lucky enough to be surrounded by apple orchards, apple recipes are the focus of my attention. This was the first time I ever made baked beans out of dried beans. It was not labor intensive, but did take a fair amount of time. Worth it? Oh, yeah. The flavor in these was amazing, and I liked having a bit more texture to the beans than what you get with canned kind.

Cider Baked Beans  (Adapted from:

16 oz dried pinto beans
3 cups apple cider
6 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp dry mustard
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
6 strips thick cut bacon ( or more if you like!)
1 yellow onion

Pick through the dried beans and remove any stones or broken beans. Rinse beans. In large pot or bowl, cover beans with 3 inches of water. Cover and let set overnight, or 10 hours.

Drain beans, and add them to dutch oven. Add apple cider, and slowly bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and gently boil for thirty minutes.  Stir occasionally. After thirty minutes, remove from heat, and drain.  Reserve your cooking liquid.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In small saucepan, combine molasses, mustard, and salt.  Cook over medium heat until salt is dissolved.  Add black pepper to molasses mixture, set aside. In bottom of dutch oven, lay three slices of bacon. Cut ends off of onion, then cut in half. Lay both onion halves on top of bacon. Pour beans over top of bacon and onions. Pour molasses mixture over top of beans, and now lay remaining bacon slices on top of beans.  Pour reserved cooking liquid over top of beans, adding hot water as necessary to completely cover the beans.

Bake for 3 hours. Check beans to see if they are dry. Add water as needed. Return to oven and bake for another 2-3 hours. When beans are tender, remove from oven.

Enjoy :)

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Around the Farm

It's been a quiet week around the farm. In battling this cold, I ended up loosing my voice. Makes for a long frustrating week, when I am such a chatty person. Work involved a lot of projects that normally take a back burner, but I am grateful that I was able to keep working through it all. Now just to get my voice back!

Onward to what's been going on around the farm. 
We bought my grandpa's tractor, and it made the trip to the farm this week. 

Good thing we can move the firewood, since the wood stove got fired up this week.

And, here is the last in our series of introductions.... Please meet Butterscotch.

Just a random shot of one of The Rosie's hanging around in the barn.

Have a great week!