Monday, February 22, 2016

M & M Chocolate Pudding Bars

My baking has been at a strange level lately. With Truckin' Man laid off for the winter, he has been home lots and working on home based projects. That means I don't pack lunches for him 5 days a week. When I am not packing lunches, I tend to loose track of what sweets we have on hand.  If we go without for too long, he lets me know. The drivers at my job let me know too. 

A couple weeks ago, I was noticing I was getting the evil eye around every corner. Before I got a complex over the evil eye, I realized it was due to my lack of baking. As a quick remedy to those with the sweet tooth, I pulled out this recipe I have had in my collection for years. Since we were near Valentine's Day, I changed up the standard vanilla pudding with chocolate pudding. 

These bars are always a hit. Quick and easy to prepare, makes me happy. Not as rich as a brownie, yet nice and chocolaty from the pudding. The perfect snack.

M & M Chocolate Pudding Bars

1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 - 3.9 oz box instant chocolate pudding
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup M & M's, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray, set aside.

In large mixing bowl, combine butter, sugars, pudding, and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition.  Gradually add flour and baking soda, mixing well. Add 3/4 cup M & M's. Stir until combined.

Pour mixture into prepared pan. Spread as needed to have mixture even through pan. Sprinkle remaining M & M's over top and lightly press into cookie mixture.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges are just pulling back from pan, and center is set.  Remove from oven and let cool completely. Cut into bars, and store in air tight container.

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Feeling like Spring

Temps are warming and snow is melting! That and the longer days are making for some happy chickens. 
And yes, we are finally getting eggs!

The ladies are enjoying the dirt floors in the pole shed. Makes for a relaxing dust bath.

Everyone seems happy, yet not quite trusting that spring is here.

Queen of the Farm was keeping an eye on the chickens while they were taking their dust bath. 
She had a hard time keeping her butt in place and not going to join in the fun.

If Truckin' Man doesn't need my help as much this week on the remodeling project, I will be back again this week with at least one, if not two new recipes for you!

Have a great week!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Our Latest Project

So, it's winter. Truckin' Man is laid off. Time for a project right? Even though my "honey do" list has plenty of things on it, he finally has enough time to tackle our biggest project. "The Other House".  

Yes, we have another house.  Well, actually, I like to say that HE has another house! Truckin' Man had bought this house shortly before his dad passed away, and then he moved back to the farm. Since then, it has been a rental house, or been for sale. Back and forth between both status's. Seriously in need of remodeling and updating. One summer when we were between renter's, we finally had the opportunity to start doing some work on it. A family friend was also available, so two of the four bedrooms were gutted, and remodeled. 

When you have a mortgage on a place and work full time, you can't afford to let a place set vacant to long, just so you can put more money into it, when money isn't even coming in. The time finally came for us to put the effort into just selling the place. We want to have a second property, but not here... somewhere warmer please. And neither of us want to be landlords. 

Let the project begin then, right?

Want to see more about "The Other House" Click HERE.

2 Bedrooms, one hallway with super high ceilings, and a dining room. All coming down!

 LOTS of clean up to do. Lathe, plaster, and blown in insulation. YUCK!

 Finally getting the mess under control.

This small window is an area Truckin' Man is excited about. 
He's planning to change it to a doorway to the 3 season porch. 

Bonus was doing all this when temperatures are hovering around zero all week, and keeping pipes in the basement from freezing.  Good times!

 FINALLY done with the clean up. Time to start rebuilding. 

 Please let someone buy this place!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Lay Some Eggs Already!

When we started raising chickens, I bought our first chickens at a local farm store. They were so cute in the bins, that I just had to have them. Truckin' Man supported this decision. The chicks were a hybrid, and were fantastic chickens. They were excellent layers, great personalities, but one big clique.  When we tried introducing other breeds, or sexes, to the flock, the ladies weren't having any of that. A couple other small issues, made me want to try some "true" breeds.

I have come to learn that there are advantages to the hybrid chickens. They lay eggs in the winter.
Today's ladies, while pretty and all, don't lay much for eggs. We have 16 hens, and we are lucky if we get 2 eggs a day. Just enough to keep me from having to buy eggs. But, no eggs to share or sell. 

Just enough eggs to keep these chickens from ending up in the fryer. 

I know when the temperatures warm, and we finally get some days of sunshine, egg production will resume. Until then, we will appreciate what eggs these little beauties leave for us.

What about you? What do you think about the hybrids versus the true breeds?

 Want to see more of my chicken posts? Click Here.

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sugar Cookie Bars

Want to treat your sweetie, your children, or yourself for Valentine's?? Sugar Cookie Bars are the way! I've seen this recipe floating around pinterest, and many blogs for years, and I have always wanted to try them. So, just in time for Fill the Cookie Jar's February edition, I made a batch, and I am so glad I did!

Sometime's this recipe is called Lofthouse Sugar Cookie Bars.  I didn't even know what that meant until I googled it. Apparently, Lofthouse is a brand of packaged cookies you would buy at the store. Am I the only one that didn't know this? I will have to watch for them, just so I can taste one. 

This recipe has been featured on so many blogs, so I was curious where it orignated, and while I can't say for sure, I followed it all the way back to 2010 at Today's Mama

But, these bars... Oh my gosh. Ridiculously Delicious. Soft. Chewy. Darn near perfect in my opinion. The frosting I used, was a bit to sweet for me, but got really high marks from everyone else.

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!

Sugar Cookie Bars

1 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
4-5 tbsp milk
Food coloring (optional)
sprinkles (optional, but recommend!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 15 x 10 baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.  In large mixing bowl, cream butter, cream cheese, sugar and mix well.  Add egg, and continue mixing for about four minutes.  Add vanilla, and mix until well combined.

In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Mix until flour is completely incorporated.

Press dough into prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, just until edges are a very light golden.

Cool completely.

While Sugar Cookie Bars are cooling, beat butter in large mixing bowl until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar. Blend in vanilla and salt. Add milk as needed to reach spreading consistency.


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