Thursday, May 28, 2015

Taco Dip

This Taco Dip is a favorite of mine, that I have been making for years. I don't make it often because it's one of those foods that I just can't be around without eating it non-stop! We had a party this past weekend for my nephews birthday, so I figured we had enough people to eat it up that I would be safe. Or is that the dip would be safe from me?

Use any of your favorite "taco" toppings on this. There is no right or wrong way to make this! I don't measure any of the toppings. Just chop up what you have on hand and sprinkle it around. Add more if your crowd would like more of any of the toppings. I bet to the family that likes olives, they would be great on here. 

While writing this recipe up for you, I realized the day I made this for my nephews party I forgot the shredded cheddar! See... no mistakes with this dip, it is just delicious with whatever toppings you have. 

Taco Dip

8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
16 ounce sour cream
1 1/2 cup taco sauce (mild or medium - whatever heat level you prefer)
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 Roma tomato, chopped
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sour cream with electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add taco sauce, mixing until combined.

Spread mixture into a 9 x 13 cake pan, or onto two serving plates.

Over top of cream cheese mixture, add toppings. This is the order I add them in:
Sweet peppers
Roma Tomato
Green onion

Serve with tortilla chips.


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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Cooking with Morels

I have struggled with how to write a post on cooking with morel mushrooms. Why? First off, because I am stingy with them. They are such a treat, and they were hard for us to find this year, which makes me pull in the reigns even tighter. If the season is good, I am more liberal with them, and willing to take chances. Not the case this year.

But. I did go for a walk one night. Not intending to find any morels. I was just out for the fun of looking. And I found some. I hardly ever find more than two or three on our own land. I was thrilled! But, still stingy with the mushrooms when cooking. Even though I don't have any fancy recipes for you, I will tell you what I like to do.

I clean the mushrooms by soaking them in some water. 15 minutes should be sufficient. My main purpose is just to get any bugs out. After the soak, lay them on a towel for a while, and pat gently.
I trim the stems of the morels to get rid of any blemished or discolored stem. Then, cut them in half lengthwise.

Honestly, I LOVE them in the simplest form. Just sauteed. A couple tablespoons of butter. Or half butter, half olive oil. I do it both ways. I like them just when they are starting to crisp a little bit.

My next favorite way to prepare them is breaded. Beat a couple of eggs in a shallow bowl. Crush some saltines, and put the cracker crumbs in another bowl. Melt several tablespoons of butter in skillet. Dip morel in eggs, then roll gently in crushed crackers. Fry until golden, then turn and fry on other side until golden. Mmmmm.....

You can also just give a cleaned mushroom a light toss in some flour, and then saute in butter.

I did make an oven baked omelet this year with some morels, it was quite tasty. But, in the end, I prefer the mushrooms to be on their own so I can enjoy their flavor alone, and savor every bit of their goodness.

If you would like to try some fun and delicious recipes with your morels, I highly recommend this one from Sumptuous Spoonfuls for her Morel Mushroom, Havarti & Chive Souffle.  This recipe is what inspired my baked omelet.  It also inspired my friend to make Morels and onion sauteed with bacon, butter and Havarti Cheese over pasta.

Here is a link to Midwest Living for a collection of 19 recipes with morels.

If you try any of them, I would love to hear what you think of them. Or do you prefer them alone, to just savor every last morsel?

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Not Smooth Sailing - Baby Chick Update

The first time I went to my parents to visit the chicks, my mom already had a problem identified.
We had a "picker". This sweet little girl, was picking the eyes of other chicks. 

After lots of research, it was determined the best thing to do was to separate her. She would outgrow it.
So, wire fencing was put in. 
The other girls with injured eyes all healed, thankfully.

Mom emailed this picture later. No improvements. I think the subject of the email was "Bad Girl".
Something along those lines anyway.

So, I went and picked her up and brought her back to the farm. 
We had a broody hen, I read that "sometimes" a broody hen will adopt a chick.
That didn't work. 

I became the mother hen. Little one spent some time with me out cleaning up the raspberry patch.

We didn't have to worry about her running away. She wouldn't think of leaving my side. Or neck.
Then we did what we should have never done. We named her. I named her. I named her Sally.
Meet our newest pet, Sally.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Italian Cookies ~ Ally's Kitchen A Passport for Adventurous Palates

I am so glad that today is finally here, and I get to share with you about Ally's Kitchen ~ a passport for adventurous palates. I am so fortunate to have received an advance copy of this one of a kind cookbook.

Let me tell you a little about Ally. I have the pleasure of knowing Ally online, where you are able to meet up with so many like minded people. People who inspire. People who guide. Ally is one of these inspirational people. When I found out she was from South Carolina, I wasn't the least bit surprised... You all know how much I love South Carolina, and the people that live there!

"Ally's Kitchen ~ a passport for adventurous palates" will have you joining Ally on her magic carpet ride around the world. She has dishes from around the world that will having you wanting to taste her recipes, as well as get your passport dusted off and see a fraction of what she has seen! The passport stamps throughout the book really add to the charm.

Ally encourages you to take each recipe and make it your own. Experiment. Try new things. Ally is Bohemian Bold, and it shows!

I have so many recipes flagged that I am excited to try. Truckin' Man is even excited to try Ally's Lemon Pepper Grilled Steak with warm butter herb sauce. 

I decided to share with you Italian Cookies. Ally learned how to make this cookie while in Italy. Honestly,  as I was standing in my kitchen, working this cookie dough... reading Ally's words....the scent created by these simple, but amazing ingredients... I almost expected to hear some Italian music start playing in my kitchen. I am sure at this point, Ally would encourage you to find an Italian CD to pop in and that would be the perfect "Mood Maker". There are lots of Mood Makers listed with recipes, just another fun way each recipe is enhanced to the next level.

I have never made a cookie with no dairy, and no eggs. But, let me tell you... It. Is. Amazing. The only change I made to this recipe is that instead of a Chardonnay, I used a Pinot Gregio. We don't drink much wine at all, and when we do we prefer red. So, this was perfect use for our remaining Pinot Gregio.
The flavor in these cookies is like no other. Light. Fruity. 

For a chance to win a copy of Ally's Kitchen ~ a passport for adventurous palates,
scroll down for the Rafflecopter entry.

To see more of Ally, visit her website at: Ally’s Kitchen Website

A trailer for the cookbook:  Video Trailer 

Italian Cookies    (Source: Ally's Kitchen)

4-5 cups self rising flour, divided
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt (I used kosher)
2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup Pinto Gregio

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

On your countertop (or cutting board), place two cups of flour, and make a well in the center. To the well add extra virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and salt. With your hands work the sugar into the oil. Add  one cup of flour, and start working that in. (Ally tells you it's messy here, but just hang in there).  Work in the flour that is around the oil mixture. Add half cup of flour, continuing to mix with hands.

Slowly, add the wine. I added about 1/4 cup at a time. Continue to mix, and add wine until all is added. Add more flour until dough can be shaped into a ball.

Tear off small about of dough, and roll into a rope. Shape as desired. Ally suggest pinwheels, knots or donut holes. I made most of mine into knots.

Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar to small plate. Dip each cookie into sugar, covering well.  Place cookies on prepared baking sheets. Bake 17-21 minutes or until just light golden. Be careful to not overbake.  Cool for three-five minutes, then transfer to wire rack.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

The Newest Additions

We have babies! Baby chicks that is! We decided (ok maybe it was just me) that we wanted to add a few more chickens to our flock. My parents wanted some chicks too, so lucky for us my parents are going to raise our four chicks for us until they get a little bit bigger. 

The poor chicks got off to a rough start. Something happened with the post office that I could not get a clear answer on, so lets just say I will not be ordering chicks to be delivered through the mail ever again. I will drive to the hatcheries and pick them up. That would be fun to see anyway.

With lots of pampering, and extra vitamins, they seem to be doing well. They are cute as ever, and I am so excited for them to be able to come home and join the rest of my flock.

In case you want a little more cuteness in your day, here is a short video of our chicks!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hunting Morels

Hunting for Morel Mushrooms in the woods is something I have been doing as long as I can remember. I am pretty sure my parents had my sister and I out hunting, as soon as we were able to handle the terrain of the woods.

A special shout out on this post to my friend Carla, from The River. I hope that this might help you and your family find some morels in your neck of the woods!

You have to be patient when you are on the hunt.

A good place to look is by old elm trees. 

Not sure if it's an elm tree? Better off to just look around it and be sure.
(Be sure to look under those Mayapples)

My grandpa says that the elm tree needs to still have bark on it for it to be an elm hot spot.

 You have to keep your eyes open and be careful where you step. 
They can be hidden by old leaves, pieces of bark, and many other pieces of nature.

Morels are not always in the deep cover of the woods. They can be in a grassy meadow.
Do you see it?

 By the end of your trek, be it 30 minutes, or 3 hours as it was this day, I hope you have some delicious morels to take to the kitchen!

While you are looking for the ever elusive morel, 
you are sure to see many other exciting signs of spring.

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ramp Pesto

If you are lucky enough to have a way to get your hands on some Ramps, this Wild Ramp Pesto is a favorite of ours.  This recipe is just a starting point. I always adjust it depending on my mood, and ingredients on hand. 

This is great added to pasta, or any other dish you would use with a pesto. 

I often freeze the pesto in small portion sizes so I can pull some out during the off season and enjoy it in a dish.

Wild Ramp Pesto

1/4 cup, plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces ramps ( I only use the greens)
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 tsp salt

In large skillet heat 2 Tablespoon olive oil. Add ramps, and saute until just wilted. Set aside to cool.

Add cooled ramps and remaining ingredients to food processor. Puree until almost smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Ramps (AKA Wild Leeks)

In the past spring time hunting in the woods meant morel season to me.That changed last year when a friend introduced me to Ramps. In Wiscosnin, these lovely greens are harvested in the spring. They have a lovely garlicy onion flavor. This year the season started in late April, but of course, would vary depending on temperatures.

We have yet to find Ramps on our farm, but my friend has had me over to pick them on his farm this season, and last.  

We had to head way back, past old cow pastures.

We reached a hillside that was covered in a carpet of Ramps! 

This particular hillside was covered. The plant is strikingly similar to Lily of the Valley

You will get hungry while you are picking the leaves. The smell is intoxicating.

For most food dishes, you only need to harvest the leaves. So, we pick one leaf off near the base. Leaving one leaf to let the plant continue to live.

We did harvest a small amount of the whole plant, bulb and leaf. The bulb is very flavorful as well.

Winston accompanied us on our hunting expedition. Isn't he cute?

If you would like to know more about Ramps, try some of these links:

More posts to come on preparing Ramps.

Tell me, have you heard of Ramps or Wild Leeks before? Do you know them by another name?

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Frosted Lemon Cookies

I have seen some of my blogger friends asking where does the time go, and I would like some help with that question! It seems like I just shared my Easter Cookie Cups, and here we are already to May's "Fill the Cookie Jar"! This month the theme is "Mother's Favorites". 

 I turned the cookie decision process over to my mom, and she requested "Lemon". Other than that, Mom left it up to me. I made a couple different recipes, and this one was the hit. Loved by all, and requests for more!

It is a soft, chewy, bright flavored cookie, with the lemon zest bringing the lemon flavor to the top! These cookies were just as popular without the frosting, so if you are looking to save time, or calories, feel free to skip it! They will be just as popular.

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!

Lemon Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp lemon juice
Zest from one lemon
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

6 Tablespoon butter, softened
1 Tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon extract
2 cups powdered sugar
Sprinkles or colored sugar, optional

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg (plus one egg yolk), mix well. Add lemon juice, and zest, mixing until combined.  Slowly add flour, baking powder, and salt.  Mix until dough forms a ball. Cover and chill dough for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using small cookie scoop, drop dough onto cookie sheet two to three inches apart.  Bake for 9-11 minutes, just until edges are starting to turn golden. Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet, then transfer to cooling rack.

While cookies are cooling, in large mixing bowl add butter, lemon juice, and lemon extract. Mix until smooth and creamy. Slowly add powdered sugar, mixing until desired consistency for spreading. Add more powdered sugar as needed, if you want it thicker. Frost when cookies are completely cooled.

**For the bright colored decorating sugar: Put 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar in a small bag. Add 1/8 tsp of yellow gel food coloring. Squish the gel and the sugar around for a couple minutes until the two are completely mixed together.

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Around the Farm

This past week was somewhat quiet around the farm.  

Almost time for this fuzzy monster to go in for his spring time grooming!

Truckin' Man was gone for the weekend, and the chickens found there way into his shed and made quite the mess! 
Of course, I thought it was cute :)

I was shocked to find one patch of our bleeding hearts in full bloom! Apparently, this is a nice warm spot!

Hosta's are shooting up further and further every day

Hazel wanted to help with the eggs?

Georgette is always so pretty.

I just loved the way the tractor sitting and the clouds were hanging around this day.

Until next week....!