Friday, October 26, 2012

The Pumpkin Patch


We finally had our first freeze two weeks ago. That was the end of the growing season. As much as I hate to admit it, I am looking forward to a break from everything since I worked so hard all summer. Even with the freeze, my allergies have been so bad I have barely been outdoors in three weeks. I miss my animals, and all my outdoors stuff.

Yesterday, I took a quick walk through the garden just to start thinking about clean up (when the allergies allow), I was stunned to find a few veggies that had somehow survived the frost.


But, all veggies aside... my biggest pride and joy out of the garden this year was my amazing pumpkin patch!
We don't know for sure how much these big ones weigh, but rough guess of 100 lbs!

The pumpkins produced beyond what I ever expected, so I even sold some! My very first pumpkin customer's were more than happy to pose for a pic. Aren't they just the cutest???

Lil' Miss K, was just lovin' posing with her pumpkins and squash!

Happy Halloween All!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Crockpot Tavern Sandwich

Have you ever had a Tavern before?? I have had this recipe for years, but never really new why it was named a "Tavern". It's very much like a "Sloppy Joe" or whatever name they may have in your region. Thanks again to Wikipedia for giving me the answer... Tavern Sandwich is a regional term originating from Iowa for a "Sloppy Joe". I lived in Iowa for years, and still live very close to Iowa, but I am sure I didn't get the recipe from any one I know in the area. Oh well. That's what I get for not keeping track of where my recipes come from!

This is a great crockpot recipe for your busy days. I brown the meat the night before, throw it all in the crockpot in the morning, and the guys could feed themselves! Have the slotted spoon close at hand, since these are super juicy. They go perfect on a crusty bun, and would be great with a side of mac and cheese!

Crockpot Tavern Sandwich

2 1/2 lbs lean ground beef

1 large onion - chopped
1 c. ketchup
1 t. chili powder
1 t. dry mustard
1 t. salt
1 t. Worcestershire Sauce
2 c. beef broth or water

In skillet, brown ground beef; drain well.  Place browned beef and remaining ingredients in crockpot.  Stir well to mix all ingredients.  Cover and cook on low setting for 8 - 10 hours.

Enjoy :) 

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

White Rice with Toasted Angel Hair Pasta

I LOVE watching my foodie shows. Learning new cooking techniques, new recipes, and sometimes the shock factor of what other people eat! I enjoy the Food Network, but sometimes get tired of it. The Cooking Channel is not offered here (sob), so one day I found myself over at PBS. Does anyone else watch the cooking shows over there? I was in shock at how many are aired. I set my DVR to record Pati's Mexican Table, and am so glad I did! I came to find out it was her first season, and her second season is starting soon. I am going to be checking into more of the shows over at PBS now!

Pati's Mexican Table is a great show. Pati teaches you Mexican cooking, something I would truly love to learn. So, the other night when I was looking for a side dish, I remembered a simple dish she made on her show. Why not start simple? I loved it!  If you haven't seen Pati's show, please check it out... and try this recipe! The only change I made to it, was to add some cilantro... Just because I love cilantro!

White Rice with Toasted Angel Hair Pasta (Source: Pati's Mexican Table)

2 cups white rice
c. vegetable oil  

1 c. angel hair pasta, broken into pieces  
1/4 c. white onion, diced  
1 garlic clove, minced 
4 c. water or chicken broth 
1 T. fresh lime juice 
1 t. kosher salt
1/4 c. chopped cilantro 
Soak white rice in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again. In a cooking pot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Add the angel hair and fry for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. It should be browned but not burnt. (On the show she describes the color as "tanned")

Add the drained rice, cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Rice should reach a milky white color and it feels and sounds heavier when you move it.

Add onion and garlic, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Add water or broth to the rice, add the salt and lime juice.  Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover with the lid, and cook for about 20 minutes.

The rice is ready when the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender and cooked. Turn off the heat and keep it covered for at least 5 minutes. Add cilantro.  Fluff with a fork and serve. 

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Homemade Butterfinger Bites

Butterfinger candy bars have long been one of my top five favorite candy bars. Snack size, miniatures, king size..  whatever size, you can't go wrong. A Dairy Queen Blizzard with chopped Butterfingers mixed in... heavenly! With my love for Butterfingers, I was curious about this recipe when I first stumbled across it. Could you really make a Butterfinger candy bar with 3 ingredients? In my own kitchen?? 

Well, finally a year later, I bought the candy corn. Step one accomplished! I surfed through numerous recipes, comparing them. All very similar, just slight variations. I finally decided to go for it! I was so worried that I was throwing away a jar of peanut butter, and a bag of chocolate chips for this. No worries though... It was a complete success! All of my friends who have tried these, LOVE them. The texture is not as crisp as the candy bar, but the flavor is just amazing! 

Homemade Butterfinger Bites (Inspired by Plain Chicken and The Baking Robot)

16 oz. candy corn
16 oz. creamy peanut butter
12 oz. milk chocolate chips
1 T. Shortening (optional)

Line 8”x8” pan with wax paper. Melt candy corn in microwave for one minute.  Stir, and continue in 30-second intervals until melted. Stir after each interval. Stir in peanut butter.

Spread mixture into pan and cool completely. Cut into bite sizes. Trim edges if necessary.

Melt chocolate according to package instructions. If needed, add one tablespoon vegetable shortening to thin the chocolate.  With fork, dip each "bite" into melted chocolate and completely cover. Place on waxed paper until set. Store in airtight container.

Enjoy :) 

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chow Mein Casserole

Hot Dish or Casserole? What are they called in your house? I have lived in several different area's of the midwest, and had to learn to change with the region on what the dish is that I am baking. In Iowa, it was always "Casserole". After moving to Minnesota, I had to switch to talking about baking a "Hot Dish". Here in Wisconsin, both terms are used.  Some people believe that it has to do with the region and what the religion of the area is, meaning Catholic or other. When getting ready to post this recipe, I did a little research on this topic. On Wikipedia, their research found that a "Hotdish" is a variety of baked casserole, that in the end is mixed with a "canned soup". What do you called your baked dishes?? 

Now that I have all that out of the way... (I got on a little research tangent there just because I typed "Casserole" in the title of the post)... I have been so busy lately, and not feeling the greatest, so I have been counting on some of my quick and easy recipes. Some times you just don't have the energy to be in the kitchen. This recipe is like that for me. Brown the meat while the rice is cooking, throw it together, bake, done.  You are ready for dinner!

Chow Mein Casserole

1 lb. ground pork ( ground chicken also works well)
1 6 oz. bag Chow Mein noodles (divided)
1 c. cashews (add more if you are like me and LOVE cashews)
1 pkt Chow Mein seasoning
1 28 oz can Chow Mein vegetables
2 c. cooked white rice

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare rice.  Brown meat, drain.  Prepare seasoning, following directions on packet.  Add meat and vegetables to seasoning mixture.  Bring to boil, and cook for 10 minutes.  

In small roasting pan, layer as follows: Meat Mixture, 3/4 bag of noodles, rice, and cashews.  Cover with foil, and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and mix ingredients thoroughly.  Serve with soy sauce, and reserved Chow Mein noodles. 

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