Thursday, December 1, 2016

Frostbite Cookies

Tis the season for cookies and treats for all your gatherings and get togethers! Have you started baking yet? Do you make a list of what you are going to make, or just "wing it"? Well, you need to try these cookies! Seriously. You need these cookies in your life! Frostbite Cookies have been on my baking list for some time now, but December's Fill the Cookie Jar, was when I finally pulled them together.

I have to control my excitement a bit on these cookies, I just love them so much. They are kind of a problem, because I am trying to control my sweet eating right now, so that I can indulge more at Christmas!

They are the right balance of a crisp cookie, without being too crisp. And then that  frosting? Get outta here! One of my co-workers was convinced there was another layer in these cookies, but my friend convinced him that was just the layer of love baked in :) While snacking on these during our weekly office meeting, one of my other co-workers started doing a cookie dance in his chair.
Again. Seriously. These are that good!

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!

Frostbite Cookies

1 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups cornflakes
12 ounces vanilla almond bark
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.   In large mixing bowl, beat shortening with electric mixer until creamy. Add sugars, beating until smooth and creamy.  Add eggs and vanilla, mix until combined.    In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually add flour into sugar mixture. Mix well. Add oats and cornflakes, stir by hand until completely incorporated.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls several inches apart on lined baking sheets. Lightly press down on cookie dough, just to flatten the slightest bit. (*See Note) Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, just until turning golden.  Cool for 2-3 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to cooling rack.

Once cookies are completely cooled, microwave almond bark and shortening for 90 seconds. Stir well. If not completely melted, microwave on 15 second intervals until completely melted.  Add peppermint extract (optional), stir well. Dip bottom of cookie into almond bark, let extra almond bark run off cookie into bowl. Place cookies, frosted side up, on wax paper until almond bark is set. 

**Note  - I found that using a glass to just slightly flatten these was to much, so I just pressed ever so gently with two fingers. Worked perfect.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Eastern Tennessee

Moving on from Kentucky, we reached our destination in Eastern Tennessee. This is a favorite destination of ours, and we really enjoy it here. This trip was a little different for us. We noticed that my allergies weren't letting up, which is always something I look forward to when getting out of our area. Then, Truckin' Man was starting to not feel well. We kept enjoying our time, but we were just "off". While in Pigeon Forge, we had the tv on in our room while we were winding down, and I heard a headline for the news that night. I knew what was wrong, and we had to watch the news. 

At that time, wildfires were impacting the air quality. Between North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia, there were fires burning in 70 counties! There was a "Code Red" being issued for the next day, and that is the highest alert for air quality. 

As I started writing this, I was checking the news channel I knew from the area. There is now a mandatory evacuation for Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. The reporters commented on debris and ashes in the air. So very sad. If you want to click through to hear more about this current situation, click here

We did change our plans, and kept things more "indoors" or in the car. 

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail was such a beautiful trail to drive. This photo gives you just a tiny sample of the haze in the air from all the smoke.

While on the trail, we were able to visit Ephram Bales Place. A farm preserved from the 1900's. 

We always enjoy walking along mountain streams.

 More scenery along the trail.

While spending some time shopping in town, we visited the Ole Smokey Distillery. Instead of Moonshine, we found they now sell whiskey!  We picked up some Rootbeer Whiskey, Salted Caramel Whiskey (REALLY good) and Mississippi Mud!  If you ever are near, do stop by. They have the best bands performing. We got to watch The Midnight Run Band, they were so entertaining. I really wish I would have picked up their CD. This is the first video I ever took using facebook "live", so please forgive my video skills!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Another Adventure

We felt that it was time to get out of Wisconsin before winter arrived. Truckin' Man doesn't mind the winter travel as much as I do, but I worry about what our road conditions will be. And, it's easier for our friends to take care of the farm if it isn't blizzarding outside!

(Pathway to Pinnacle Overlook)

So, we headed south! Our first stop in Kentucky was at Cumberland Gap, the first Gateway to the West. We have stopped here before, but love the history and the views, so we visited again.

(Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky)

If you enjoy history, the visitor center has so much interesting information about the early pioneers who were here. You can learn all about what Daniel Boone was doing in the area, and other things I really haven't read about since high school history class. While I was somewhat interested back then, I find it all much more interesting today.

Here is a video I found from the NPS if you're intested.

(View from Pinnacle Overlook)
While I love the views so much, I don't like heights, so this is as close to the edge as I was getting!

(Replica cannon)

 And a rare photo of me....

Stay tuned for the next part of our journey!

Friday, November 18, 2016

White Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies


Welcome to the Freaky Friday Virtual Holiday Cookie Exchange! 17 bloggers got together and were secretly assigned another blog to select a Christmas cookie or treat from.  This was sooo much fun! We are all finding out the same time as you, who was assigned to each other, and to ourselves!  Be sure to check out the links at the bottom of the page, and find what recipes everyone else found for their new holiday treats! They are sure to be tasty and delicious!

I was so excited to get Lisa's Dinnertime Dish. Lisa lives in Minnesota, and reading her blog just takes me back home! Whether she is hunkering down for a cold winter, with some tasty dishes, or getting food ready for the cabin up north, Lisa has some good eats to share! 

While looking through Lisa's blog to see what I was going to make for Freaking Friday, I found her Peppermint Holiday Bark. I am definitely making this for Christmas! And you really need to check out The World's Easiest Fudge. It looks so decadent! I know this isn't a sweet or a treat, but you need to check out Lisa's Favorite Christmas Eve Dinner!

Ok, so what I did decide to make is White Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies! Oh my gosh.. I have never made this cookie, and I love them! Due to my limited shopping, I did have to make a substitution in the recipe. Lisa uses crushed candy canes. I could not find a candy cane any where on a shelf here in rural Wisconsin, but I did find Peppermint Crunch Baking bits. I really liked these, since I think it took the peppermint flavor down just a notch, and I loved it!

These are definitely a cookie that you will want to add to your holiday baking, and to have waiting for Santa :)

White Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup Andes Peppermint crunch baking bits or crushed candy canes
8 ounces white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.   In small bowl, combine flour, baking power, baking soda, and salt.

In large mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add egg, beat to combine. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture mixing until ingredients completely combined. Add candy cane bits and white chocolate chips, stir by hand until evenly distributed.

Using small cookie scoop, drop dough onto cookie sheet three inches apart.  Bake for 8-9 minutes or just until turning golden. Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet, then transfer to cooling rack.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cranberry Orange Cookies

It's time to Fill the Cookie Jar for November! Where in the world did October go?  I for one, am ready for some lazy fall days of kicking back, and enjoying some cozy fall food and flavors. How about a movie night with a cup of hot chocolate? Yes, please!

I did manage to make a cookie to share with you that really pulls together all the traditional fall flavors. I have to give my mom a big shout out on this one, without her help brain storming this cookie I would have missed filling the cookie jar this month. I think her idea was great, and the flavors here are so perfect. Fresh cranberry, highlighted with some fresh orange juice and some zest, and then some pecans. It's like Thanksgiving in a cookie!

 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!

Cranberry Orange Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped fresh cranberries
1/4 cup chopped pecans

In large mixing bowl, combine butter and both sugars with electric mixer.  Mix until butter is completely incorporated. Add egg, mixing well. Add orange zest, and orange juice.  Add wheat, all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until combined.   Fold in chopped cranberries and pecans. Mix until evenly distributed.  Cover and chill in fridge for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using small cookie dough scoop, drop several inches apart on baking sheet. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until edges have just turned golden.  Cool for 2-3 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to cooling rack.

Orange Glaze
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice

In small bowl combined powdered sugar, orange zest, and half of orange juice. Stir until combined. And remaining orange juice as needed to reach desired drizzling consistency.   After glazed, let set until glaze is hardened.

Store in refrigerator in air-tight container 3-5 days.


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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Butterfinger Blondies

Welcome to October's "Fill the Cookie Jar"! This months theme is Halloween/Pumpkin. Instead of a spooky treat this year, I went with a bar featuring my all time favorite Halloween candy treat. Butterfingers. I always loved finding the houses with Butterfingers, and truth be told I would have traded every candy bar I had for a Butterfinger! 

You do have to realize at the age I was trick or treating, it was many many moons ago and times were different. Plus we lived in the middle of farm country, so you didn't make it to a lot of houses, and the parents had to drive us to all both one of the houses we went to. So, my version of a "lot" of candy is less than most!

Enough about trick or treating, and back to the bar. I won some of these Butterfinger Baking Bits in a basket at a fund raiser. I was so happy to find goodies in the basket I had never used, and knew exactly how to enjoy them. This is such a simple bar to pull together. Peanut butter mixed with Butterfinger Bits? Oh yes... Perfection!  Want to use up some Halloween candy instead? Just smash up 1 1/2 cups of Butterfinger Candy Bars, and you are good to go!

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!

Butterfinger Blondies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup ligh brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
10 oz bag Butterfinger Baking Bits, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray, set aside.  In large mixing bowl, combine butter and both sugars with electric mixer.  Mix until butter is completely incorporated. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add peanut butter and vanilla, mixing until smooth and creamy. Add flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing well. Add Butterfinger Baking Bits, reserving 3/4 cup. Stir until the bits are evenly distributed

Pour mixture into prepared pan. Spread as needed to have mixture even through pan. Sprinkle remaining Butterfinger Baking Bits over top and lightly press into the cookie mixture.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until edges are turning golden. Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Cut into bars, and store in air tight container.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Great Idea's That Weren't So Great

We thought we were on to the greatest idea this year. We wanted to have a second crop of cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. We were so busy with veggies when the first crop was ready, we just didn't get to enjoy them the way we wanted to. It was just a matter of getting everything prepped and frozen for the winter months.

Since we started everything from seed over the winter, we would just do it again, right? We loved the idea. We had talked about this previous years, but you can not find any veggie plants for sale after mid-June. So, off we were. Truckin' Man got the seeds started and those little buggers were just growing right along. 

We had some perfect weather days, so he even moved them outside to get them some natural sun. It was about that time, I had to take over their care, because the 18 wheels were calling. The day I went into our makeshift greenhouse room and found this, I could have cried!

I immediately assumed one of the cats snuck past us, and got in there and chewed up our beautiful plants.

Nope... Then I found these.... In the end, I picked off 27 cabbage worms from 8 plants! 
Apparently in the plants short time outdoors, the cabbage moth found them, and laid some eggs.

I guess there is a reason you don't have second crop cabbage plants around here. Well, without sprinkling them with protection dust anyways!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fancy Ketchup (AKA Tomato Jam)

I am loving the fact that I am officially a "Canner" now. Just a novice, or beginner, but I can vegetables that are coming out of our garden. Such a sense of accomplishment when I look at what is in the pantry that we get to enjoy during the cold winter months. 

I follow a couple of canning blogs, am friends with some amazing ladies on facebook that share their canning expertise and recipes, and am part of a canning group on facebook.  Between these media's I kept hearing the ladies mention Tomato Jam. Tomato Jam? Eh. Not interested. But then one day, one of the ladies referred to it as "Fancy Ketchup". Now that got my attention! I was sold on trying this.

And, the rest is history. I am in love. It's sweet, tangy, jammy, ketchupy goodness. We have used it in several different dishes, and even used it to dip tater tots in. Today, I was dipping Bread Cheese in it. Sooooo good. Give it a try with most any thing you would use ketchup for, or just as a new dipping sauce. 

I debated not sharing this recipe, as I can not answer any questions about the canning process. I simply am to much of a novice to do that, but I can not risk losing this recipe.  And I really think if you have tomatoes and like to can, you should try this recipe too!

Fancy Ketchup

5 pounds tomatoes, finely chopped
3 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup lime juice
2 tsp grated ginger (fresh)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 Tbsp red chili flakes

In a large non-reactive pot, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring frequently, until jam has reduced. Once you have reached the consistency of thick jam, remove from heat.  

Fill jars with jam, leaving 1/4 inch of head space.  Wipe rims, cover jars with lids and rings. Process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes.  Remove jars from canner, and let set on towel on counter top for 24 hours undisturbed. 

Store jars in pantry up to 1 year.

Source:  Food In Jars

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Around the Farm


The season is starting to change.

Corn is starting to turn, here on the farm.

With that change, we have to start getting firewood ready for the cold months.

It looks as though some of the hens will be starting to molt.

Meanwhile, the Morning Glories are doing well.

I love the colors of the blooms.

There is a bit of a story behind the Morning Glories. Truckin' Man did not want me to plant them. He is highly opposed to ANY type of vine because of how thick and dense they grow here. I convinced him it was fine. It's only a Morning Glory. 
They don't get that out of control.

Guess who was right? He was. 
As the vines are starting to pull the fence of the chicken run down, he just shakes his and and says 
"I told you so".

So, until the vines die back and he can repair the fence, Queen of the Farm will have to do her best to protect the ladies.

As much as she just posed pretty for this, and isn't much of a flock guardian, she has stepped up on occasion and saved them when a predator was near.

Hope you all had a great Labor Day, and are as excited for the change of seasons as I am!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Southern Pound Cake

A little over a year ago, I introduced you to a new cookbook, "Deep South Dish - Homestyle Recipes" by Mary Foreman.  Back then I had shared with you her recipe for Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad.  If you haven't tried it yet, you should. It's one of my favorite salads!

Since then Mary's Southern Pound Cake recipe has become a "go to" recipe for me. I don't even have to look it up in the index. The book will fall open to the page for me. That's how many times I have made this cake! I've wanted to share it with you before, but we gobble it up so fast I haven't been able to get a picture of it before!

You can serve this cake however you like. It's great with a scoop of ice cream ( Truckin' Man's favorite), with a nice berry sauce, or just a simple glaze. There is no wrong way to serve this.  

Southern Pound Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 tsp orange or lemon extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare bundt pan by greasing, then flouring (be sure to get in all the grooves of your pan). Remove any excess flour. Set pan aside.

In medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt.  In large mixing bowl, beat butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy.  Add sugar, half cup at a time, until mixture is fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add flour mixture, half cup at time, alternating with milk, on low speed. Start and end with flour.  Mix until flour and milk are completely incorporated.  Add vanilla and orange extract.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Level top of batter with spatula so that it is smooth.  Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake for 20 minutes then turn cake out to wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Deep South Dish: Homestyle Southern Recipes

Powdered Sugar Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tbsp half and half
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp orange extract
Milk, as needed

In medium mixing bowl, sift powdered sugar. Add melted butter to sugar, stir until combined. Add half and half, and vanilla mix well. Add additional milk if needed, to reach desired consistency. Once cake has completely cooled, pour or drizzle glaze over cake.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Cilantro Lime Rice

Sometimes the most simple side dishes can be your favorite go to dish. And believe me, simple dishes are what I need right now. I am so busy with the garden and taking care of all these veggies, I don't have time to fuss over recipes.

Set your favorite main dish recipe (Mexican Beef) to go in your slow cooker, and thirty minutes before dinner start this Cilantro Lime Rice. Simple and delicious. The cilantro and lime gives this such a fresh flavor, you will think it came from your favorite Mexican restaurant. 

Cilantro Lime Rice

2 cups water
1 cup long grain white rice
1 tsp salt
4 tsp vegetable oil, divided
2 Tbsp lime juice (freshly squeezed if you have it)
3 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
Cilantro for garnish, optional

Over high heat, bring water, rice, salt and 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil to boil. Let boil until most of the water is evaporated. When water just skims over the rice, cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. At the end of 15 minutes, remove from heat and let set covered for an additional 5 minutes.

Add remaining vegetable oil, lime juice, and cilantro. Stir to combine. Garnish with additional cilantro if desired.

Enjoy :)

Source: Macaroni & Cheesecake

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Gardening is Hard Work. But...

Gardening is hard work, and while I would love a break, I am so happy with our efforts.  Here we are in mid-August and still out there picking veggies daily. That makes me so happy. 

Something fun this year in the garden is that I even heard the hummingbirds buzzing through.
They must be loving all the blossoms.

This whole side of the garden is one big mess of squash family. Zucchini, spaghetti squash, a couple varieties of winter squash, and two different kinds of pumpkin. Oh, and one little watermelon plant lost in the middle. So many vines. Here a vine, there a vine.. 

Excuse my size comparison of adding my flip flop to this photo, but I was sooooo excited when I saw how big this pumpkin was I just had to add something to the photo. I don't have tiny feet either! So excited. There might be more, but in the mass of vines, this is the only monster one I could find.

Here is our one lil' watermelon. Still happily growing.

Cilantro, still growing. So happy. 

 One of my biggest joys of the garden this year. Sweet Heat Peppers. They are thriving! Each little compact plant has a minimum of 15 peppers on it. They are just loaded! And, bonus is they are a delicious pepper. More sweet than anything which of course keeps husband happy.

 And, here is our Carolina Reaper. Grown from a seed. From a pepper my cousin sent us. We never really expected the plants would grow (only one of three did). We really never expected we would get a pepper. Now, to see if it will grow to maturity. If it does, what will we do? Probably just admire it! 

Have you ever met a reaper?