Saturday, May 31, 2014

Crunchy Pea Salad with Bacon

Hey y'all. I am still here, and I am still cooking! It's just been so stinkin' busy, I am having a hard time having much computer time! I promise I will be better and share some pictures of what's been going on, but here is a little update. We have relocated our garden, and it is huge! And thankfully, most everything is in and planted! I am so excited to see everything grow! And.... we got more baby chicks! 16 of them! 2 of them, I am raising for my parents until they get a little bigger. I am super excited to see these little ones grow too!

With all this busy-ness going on, things have been a little less exciting in the kitchen. Lots of throwing a burger on the grill with a veggie on the side. But, things are starting to calm a bit, and we had a friend over for dinner the other night, so I got back on my game and did some fun stuff in the kitchen.

This pea salad is so yummy. I LOVE pea's.... as long as they aren't out of a can! And, it has bacon!!! The original recipe called for a pound of bacon, but I tried to keep it a little lighter than that since this was a side dish to a pork chop.  You can substitute or add in any other favorite salad items you might have. I think some small cubes of colby or cheddar cheese in here would be a great addition.

Crunchy Pea Salad with Bacon (Slightly adapted from: Sugar 'n  Spice Gals)

10 oz frozen peas, thawed and drained
1 cup roasted and salted peanuts
1/3 cup chopped green onions
5 slices bacon
1 cup craisins
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp, plus 1 tsp of vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Cut bacon into pieces, about 1/2 inch. In skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet with slotted spoon.  Set aside on paper towel to cool.

In small bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix until all ingredients are incorporated.

In large bowl, add peas, peanuts, green onions, bacon and craisins.  Add mayonnaise mixture and stir until all ingredients are coated with dressing. Taste, and add salt as needed.

Chill for at least one hour.

***Note, if you have leftovers, you may need to add a little more mayo to the salad.

Enjoy :)

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Great Smoky Mountains

Life has been so busy, I am just now getting the chance to share the last leg of our journey with you.

The beauty in the Smoky Mountains never ceases to amaze me. This was the first time I have traveled through during the spring, so it was nice getting a different perspective.

From Asheville, North Carolina to Gatlinburg, TN we traveled on the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you have the time, this is definitely the best way to travel this area. I have been on the parkway before, and Truckin' Man had not. He was so happy we took the little bit of extra time to go the scenic way.

There are pull-offs every where for you to stop and enjoy the views. 

So many creeks with the clearest water imaginable.

Noah "Bud" Ogle Farm was one of many places we explored.

The Floyd Garret Muscle Car Museum was Truckin' Mans must see destination. 
He loved ever minute of this amazing museum. 

Just outside of Pigeon Forge, we drove through a covered bridge. My first time seeing, let alone driving through one!

I will be back later this week with more of what has been going on around the farm keeping us so crazy busy!
Hopefully, some recipes will be rolling out this week too!

Update: If you are looking to travel to the Smoky Moutains, a good site to check out would be

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Magnolia Plantation

After leaving Hilton Head, we headed for Charleston, South Carolina. Through all the travel prep I had done, I learned of a place called Magnolia Plantation and Garden.  We really weren't sure we should go this direction, or if we had time for it. There was also a tulip festival going on in Asheville, NC that I wanted to see. But, we pressed on for Charleston.

Even as we arrived, I questioned if we should bother going in, it was so early in the season, would there be enough color to warrant the admission fee? Note: I can be REALLY cheap at times. Thankfully, Truckin' Man pushed that we at least walk up to the entrance and check things out closer.

It was AMAZING!  I am so glad we took the time to visit!

Some of the trails were more open than this, but this part was my favorite 
as we were surrounded by all the blooms!

In Wisconsin, we don't have moss that hangs from tree's. I found this so beautiful!

The trails wind through the plantation.  There are so many places to sit and enjoy your time there.

We did not take the time to tour the Plantation House. Had to save some things for next time!

One of my favorite parts of the gardens was the bridges.

If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend visiting Magnolia Plantation!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Neiman Marcus Cookie

It's time to Fill the Cookie Jar! I missed out last month, and with the poor time management I have had lately, I am lucky to have made it this month! Our theme for the month is for Mother's Day, and a cookie that Mom likes. So, I asked my mom what she would consider her favorite cookie. Her answer, chocolate chip. I did a lot of thinking on what would make a special chocolate chip cookie, and I finally had it. The ever elusive, urban legend, Neiman Marcus Cookie.

To any that remember the beginning of internet and email, you probably got the cookie email a bazillion times. It was as common as the email from Bill Gates telling you to forward your email and you would win ten thousand dollars. But, I knew they were both a hoax, and I deleted them and moved on, every time. I never actually considered that the cookie email might be a good recipe. But, over the years, I started hearing whispers and rumors about this recipe, and even though it was not a $200 recipe, it really did make a good batch of cookies! If you don't know the hoax, click here to read about it!

There are many sites that have the Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe online. That made me feel better about attempting this recipe, because if there is one thing that makes me sad, it is having a disappointing cookie! I did enough research that I felt good about making this for my mom's, Mothers Day Cookie. 

It is Amazing. Awesome. Perfect. Chocolately. I only changed two things. I cut the recipe in half. The original is way to big! And, the Hershey bar? I chopped it instead of grating it.

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!

Neiman Marcus Cookie 

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla 
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups oatmeal
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
4 oz. Hershey bar, chopped ( I used 4 regular Hershey candy bars)
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In blender, add 2 1/2 cups oatmeal. Blend until it is a fine powder. Set aside.

In large bowl, cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, beat to combine. In another bowl, mix together flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, mixing until all ingredients are completely combined.  Add chocolate chips, and chopped Hershey bar, stirring again until chocolate is completely incorporated.

Using small cookie scoop, drop dough onto cookie sheet two inches apart.  Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet, then transfer to cooling rack.


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Monday, May 5, 2014

Our Wedding Day

 Today, I will share some highlights of our wedding with you. It was a beautiful clear, sunny, and warm day on Hilton Head Island. 
We could not have asked for better weather! 

We left our resort, and walked down the beach until we found a perfect spot between two sand dunes.

 My cousin was our wedding officiant. His family, and my friend Missy and her husband joined us.
And maybe a few people watching from afar on the beach.

 This really was exactly what I had envisioned for our wedding.

Even though we left the "country" for our wedding, we brought the country with us, and each wore our boots.

The newlyweds!

 The AMAZING White Velvet Cake my friend Missy made for us!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Pecan Cake

I have read so many recipes for flourless cakes, and see pictures of these rich fudgy cakes without flour, but just hadn't been able to bring myself to invest the time or ingredients. That all changed recently. I was watching an episode of Pati's Mexican Table and she made Nana Jose's Flourless Chocolate Cake. It had been in her husbands family for years. So, not just a recent trending fad, but a tried and true family recipe. Ok, I was getting more interested. And, it had Pecans! When in South Carolina, my friend Missy sent home lots of Pecans from their tree's, so I have been wanting to try more pecan recipes.

This recipe could not be easier!  Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler, and then the rest is done in the blender. Seriously, can it get any easier than that? Into the oven, it went. I was still really nervous that this whole thing was not going to go well, but when I pulled it out of the oven, everything was still good. I let it rest for a couple hours, and served it for dessert that night.

Rich, fudgy, everything I hoped it would be. Truckin' Man loved it, too. Rich enough that he even wanted smaller slices than normal.  He didn't even guess anything was different about this cake, until I told him. The next day, I took some into work for the crew to try. My friend that is on a gluten free diet loved it. I was happy that she was finally able to enjoy some of my baking!

Flourless Chocolate Pecan Cake (source: Pati's Mexican Table)

1/4 cup unsalted butter 
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate 
1 cup pecans 
6 large eggs 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
Confectioners sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray, then line bottom with parchment paper.  

Melt chocolate and butter in top of double boiler over simmering water, stirring occasionally. Once melted, set aside to cool. 

Add pecans to blender, chop until pecans are very fine. To the pecans, add eggs, vanilla, sugar, salt and cooled chocolate.  Blend until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes.  Cake is done with a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a moist crumb. 

Cool for 20-30 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen the cake. Remove side of pan and serve on bottom of pan. Or, if you want to serve on a plate, place serving plate upside down over cake; turn plate and cake over. Remove bottom of springform pan. Dust top of cake with Confectioners sugar. 


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