Friday, December 28, 2012


The Hubs and I went on vacation right before Christmas, to a ski resort near Somerset, PA called Hidden Valley

 The first full day we took a group ski lesson. I fell, a lot. And the group lesson really turned into a "teach Anna how to ski" lesson. The instructor even skied backwards in front of me to teach. It scared the crap out of me because I was afraid he would lose control. But he didn't.

The second day was a lot better. We had fresh snow, so it was easier to stop and the skiing wasn't as fast.

The last day, the Hubs learned how to snow board and I kept going on the beginner slope. The last day, I only fell once and it wasn't my fault. I was standing in line to go up the conveyor belt and a snowboarder couldn't stop. I didn't see him coming, and all of a sudden I was on the ground. The worst part was that he couldn't even speak English...
 The place we stayed exceeded our expectations. We reserved a king suite, which had a separate bedroom, and the living room area had a real-wood burning fire place. We expected it to be a gas fireplace, but when we checked in they said "and the wood is right outside your door". Literally 20 feet from our door. It was awesome. There were three restaurants on site, plus a cafeteria style area.

We came back home on December 23. I woke up bright and early Christmas Day to prepare breakfast for the family. We had homemade cinnamon rolls, farm-fresh scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, and a cured smoked ham that the Hubs received as a Christmas bonus from work. 

I'll share the cinnamon roll recipe soon. Hopefully what I share will be more complete than what I wrote down - a list of ingredients with few instructions, no cooking time or rise time. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cookie baking

Saturday, I was baking Christmas cookies while the Hubs was deer hunting. Black powder season started and we have tags to fill.
Sometimes I'm convinced that my family has ESP. Because who would show up as I'm pulling a batch of chocolate chip cookies out of the oven? My uncles, Will and Joe. Who don't live near me at all. Of course I had to share a couple of each type of cookie I was making: oatmeal chocolate chip, lime coins and chocolate espresso coins. Thumbs up on all, I think.
Saturday night I decided to make another new recipe: Cherry Surprise. Imagine the red cherry dough of ribbon cookies wrapped around a hershey's kiss. They tasted delicious, but we decided they were too suggestive to put in Christmas cookie boxes, and we renamed them chocolate cherry nipples. Because the dough melted down around the kiss and, well, looked like a nipple.

So I made some today but put the kiss on top, like a peanut butter blossom instead of in the dough. Same taste, but G rated instead of XXX.

The recipe will be posted soon; I wanted to double check with Better Homes & Gardens before I reprinted their recipe... 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

When Life Give You Lemons

Also known as "that time you made caramels, only for them to harden into an 8x8x 1/2" sheet of toffee". 

Yes, that happened last week. 

I made caramels, but somehow between the overcast weather and the candy thermometer, the caramels hardened too much. 

My parents and brother agreed it still tasted ok, but couldn't be marketed as caramels. As soon as Mom called it "toffee" I knew what I had to do. 

Cover it in melted chocolate and chopped pecans. 

To make it more edible. 

Start out with this recipe

Then chop it up into 1/4 to 1/2" pieces. Lay it single layer on a piece of parchment paper, on a cookie sheet.

Melt 1 bag of chocolate chips in a sauce pan and pour over the toffee. 

Sprinkle 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped pecans* on top of the chocolate. 

Let the chocolate cool and harden, and then break the toffee into bite-sized pieces. 

*Make sure to chop the pecans before you start melting the chocolate, because the chocolate needs to be stirred and monitored so it doesn't burn!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Quiche: version 1

Several years ago, the Hubs was on the Atkins diet and was on a big quiche kick. We got a little burnt out on egg-pies. That was over 5 years ago, so I decided to brave the possibility that we still wouldn't like quiche, and try a recipe again. One of the blogs I follow suggested using a pie crust, which differed from the way we were making quiche. Atkins diet = no carbs = no pie crust. 

I had a leftover pie crust from Thanksgiving, when I intended to make turkey pot pie, but there wasn't enough leftover turkey to have pie and "regular" leftovers, so the pie crust just hung out in the fridge. 

Until yesterday. 

The hubs isn't sure he likes it, but he's recovering from a sinus infection and bronchitis, so his taste buds can't be trusted right now. He even said "I'm sure this is delicious, but I can't taste a thing."

So of course I'll have to make another one once he recovers. 

Last night, we ate the quiche for dinner; I had a side salad with three-cheese ranch. 

Then I ate a serving for breakfast this morning too. Amazing.


8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced or diced
2 Tbsp butter (or some leftover bacon grease)
10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2-3 turkey sausage links - close to 1/2 lb 
1 refrigerator pie crust
5 eggs, beaten
1/2 -1 c milk (or heavy cream if you have some leftover from making caramels)
3 handfuls of cheese (I used Italian cheese blend because we had it in the fridge)

In a large skillet, saute the onion in the butter/grease until tender on medium heat. Then add the mushrooms and saute until they have released their liquid. Add the spinach, and cover the pan to steam.

In a separate pan, cook the turkey sausage. I removed it from the casings. Drain the grease when it is finished cooking, and then add the sausage to the veggie mixture. Turn off heat. 

Roll out the pie crust into a pie or tart pan. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until it starts to get golden. Remove from oven. It's okay if the crust bubbles up - it will flatten out once you put the filling in!

Mix the eggs and milk in a medium bowl.

Put the filling into the pie/tart pan. Then pour the egg/milk mixture over it. Sprinkle the handfuls of cheese on top. 

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Inside and Out

The building where I work was built in the 1930s and served as an elementary school. Originally, the building was heated by coal. Now, we use natural gas and the 60' tall chimney is no longer necessary. For several years now the chimney has been in pretty bad shape, needing either tuckpointing or removal. My first architecture project with my own seal on it was a brick project here at City Hall, which along with renovating the porch at the municipal court entrance and rebuilding a wall on the north side of the building also included demolishing the excess chimney. 

At this moment the demolition crews are reducing the height of the chimney, brick by brick. 
Yesterday, I, as well as several coworkers, had to evacuate our offices because the demolition crews were removing the large concrete chimney cap. This morning, the crew is back at it, despite the dense fog, and this is the view out my window. Along with the sound of falling mortar and bricks as they are deposited into a bucket on the crane. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My favorite parts of gardening

One of my favorite parts of gardening started yesterday - the arrival of seed catalogs!

Check out last year's post and the bounty of catalogs we received.

There are a several times during the year when I get really excited about the garden:

  1. Seeds catalogs arriving in the mail
  2. Stuff I ordered arriving in the mail (Should I admit that I already ordered plants for my orchard area? Strawberries, blueberries, grapes, raspberries, asparagus and rhubarb. And I'm going to try my hand at a miniature lime tree - potted and kept indoors during winter, of course.)
  3. Tilling the garden - I love the smell of soil
  4. Seeing new fruits and vegetables set on
  5. Harvest time! - It's not unusual to find me in the garden eating vegetables and fruits straight from the plants. MMmmm my mouth is watering just thinking of fresh tomatoes and blackberries. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Feast

Sorry, I'm a little late with posting this.

Thanksgiving lunch was at our new house. It was kind of last minute. Like, the Saturday before. Just in time to get the turkey out of the freezer and thawed in time.

The last couple years, we've had Thanksgiving lunch at our house in Springfield, and our parents and my brother came to eat at our house. We had a total of ten people at our house this year. Before we have our next big get together at our house, we need to invest in a folding table and some chairs. Our dining table came with 6 chairs, and we could probably fit 8.

I had a general idea when the turkey would be out of the oven (12:30), but it ended up being later than that - this turkey had a pop-up timer and it wouldn't pop! So, I had some snack foods...
I also had a veggie tray with hummus, but the cheese/sausage was a hit!

I made the turkey and stuffing. Just this year I found out the turkey stuffing recipe is my great-grandma's recipe, not my mom's as I always thought. It is so delicious that my grandpa went back for thirds and kept complimenting me on it. Here's the recipe:

turkey giblets and neck - put in a large stock pot with a lot of water, some salt & pepper, and bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or until the giblets are cooked. Then dice up the giblets (liver, heart, gizzard) into 1/4" or so pieces.
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 stick of butter
palm full each of salt and pepper
2-3 eggs
1+ loaf of bread - this year I used a loaf of honey wheat bread and about half a dozen leftover dinner rolls, but I usually use 1-1/2 loaves of bread
5-10 sage leaves, chopped - I know that's a wide number range, but it depends on how "sage-y" you like your dressing and how big the leaves are

In a large bowl (I used the crock out of my crockpot), tear up the bread into bite-sized pieces.

In the meantime, melt the butter in skillet. Add the onion and celery and saute until translucent. When cooked, pour into the bread.

Add the rest of the ingredients (you might beat the eggs before you add them so they mix more evenly), and then ladle in some of the turkey stock until everything is gooey. (I know, that term doesn't sound very appetizing, but you want it to be really moist or it will dry out!)

We always cook our stuffing in the bird. Make sure to put it in both ends of the bird! If there's any leftover stuffing that won't fit in the bird, you can refrigerate it in a baking dish, and then bake it after you pull the turkey out of the oven. Probably about 350 degrees for about 30-45 minutes.

Read the directions on your turkey, but usually you cook a turkey for 20 minutes per pound, plus an extra hour if it is stuffed.

I meant to photograph the turkey after pulling it out of the oven, but forgot. We were hungry.So here's a photo of the lunch I brought to work on Friday:
Clockwise from the top left: mashed potatoes with gravy, corn casserole, homemade cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, turkey, green bean casserole and stuffing. Yum. I should make freezer meals like Marie Calendar.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Curried Quinoa, Kale and Sweet Potatoes

This recipe is loosely based on this recipe.

Several weeks ago, I picked an entire plastic shopping bag full of kale. It nearly filled up the crisper drawer it was so full. I've been slowly making my way through the bag.

The original recipe used spinach, but since I had kale, I modified it.

Curried Quinoa, Kale and Sweet Potatoes
 1 large sweet potato
1/2 c dry quinoa, cooked per package instructions
enough kale to fill up your salad spinner, after removing the central rib from each leaf
chickpeas, prepared per this recipe
1/3 c raisins
about 5 dried apricots, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 to 1 tsp sweet curry powder, to taste
olive oil

Start by preparing the sweet potato. Dice into 1/4" to 1/2" pieces. Spread out flat on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a 350 degree oven until tender, about 20 minutes. Stir at least once during cook time, to keep them from sticking.

I already had the chickpeas prepared. If you don't, put in them in the oven with the sweet potatoes.

Put about 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven. Saute the onion until tender.

Then add the raisins, apricots and garlic. Saute for a couple minutes.

Then add the kale and stir. Put the lid on and let the kale steam for a few minutes. You may need to add a little water. Steam until it's at the consistency you want. I like my kale to still be a vibrant green; if you cook too long it will turn brown. Turn off heat.

Stir in the sweet potoatoes, chickpeas and quinoa. Then start seasoning with curry powder. I ended up using one teaspoon.

I topped mine with sharp white cheddar, which melted nicely when reheated for lunches at work.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I Promise This isn't Photoshopped

Yesterday morning I went to the farm to walk Freddy. After his walk, I always feed him. Lately, the kittens have been getting in Freddy's pen and eating his feed. He doesn't try to scare them off; he just lets the kittens eat his feed. 

So I put some feed on the sidewalk for the kittens so they would leave Freddy's food alone. 

Except there's a different animal the kittens have to compete with now. 

Coconut Shrimp

The original recipe may be found here

1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined 
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp panko crumbs
2 tbsp all purpose flour 
1 large egg
pinch salt

For the Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce:1/2 cup peach preserves 
Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a non-stick baking sheet with cooking spray.
Combine coconut flakes, panko crumbs and salt in a bowl. Place the flour on a small dish. Whisk egg in another bowl.
Lightly season shrimp with salt. Dip the shrimp in the flour, then into the egg, then in the coconut crumb mixture.
For the sauce, combine all the ingredients and place in a small bowl. You may need microwave it for 15-20 seconds.
Lay shrimp on the cookie sheetbake in the middle rack for about 10 minutes. Turn shrimp over then cook another 6-7 minutes or until cooked though. Remove from oven and serve with dipping sauce. I baked the shrimp on a silicone mat so I didn't have to grease the pan.
Served with baked broccoli and cauliflower, rice pilaf and garlic-parmesan rolls.

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pear-Apple Pie

You know, I have this list of recipes I would like to try, as a page here on the blog. Somehow, I'm really good at making other recipes from the same books, but not the one on the list.

Yesterday, I stopped by my Grandma's house to pick up a massive bag of banana and bell peppers. We're talking a plastic shopping bag so full the handles barely met. This is the second time in the last couple of weeks that we've had such a large bag of peppers in the house. And apparently her deep freezer is full of them as well. The last bag I used in chili, sauteed with onions with steaks, and in breakfast hashbrowns. This bag is going in meatloaf and chicken fajitas this week.

At the same time that I picked up the peppers, Grandma also gave me several pears from her tree. These pears are huge; I believe Grandma said they weighed one that was 1-1/4 pounds!!! These are easily twice the size of pears I buy at the store. For scale, here's a photo of one with two of the apples I have left from Aunt Patty:

The recipe I chose is from 100 Great Breads, which obviously has recipes for things other than bread. The original recipe calls for a raspberry-confectioner's sugar syrup to be served with the pie. But there aren't free raspberries being given away by family members to use for such a sauce, so there isn't a sauce with my pie.

Pear-Apple Pie

For the pastry dough:
2-1/2 c flour
1-1/4 c sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1 medium egg
2 Tbsp water, plus more if dough won't stick together

Mix the above in a (large Pyrex) bowl with a hand mixer or pastry blender. Split the dough in half. Roll out half of it on a floured surface, and line a pie pan (or a tart pan).

For the fruit filling:
8 apples, cored, peeled, sliced/chunked
3 monstrous pears, cored, peeled, sliced/chunked
about 1/4 c sugar

Put the above in a dutch oven or some other large pot and cook on low/medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until the fruit begins to soften and smell heavenly.

Pour or spoon the filling into the pastry. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. I probably used about 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg (this was not in the original recipe).

Roll out the other half of the dough and cover the fruit filling, pinching edges to seal.

Brush a beaten egg onto the top of the pie, then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Did you have leftover dough after making the top and bottom crust? No worries! Roll it out, brush with leftover egg wash, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden. It's like a cinnamon-sugar cracker!

Something else from this weekend... While the Hubs was out hunting on Saturday morning (a successful hunt, as he bagged a 10-point buck on the farm!), I was working away at the house, cleaning and putting the rest of the cabinet handles on! The bags of produce from left to right: pears, apples, peppers

Monday, November 12, 2012

Christmas Cookies

I know, it seems a little early to think about Christmas. But it's less than two months away. I made a big dent in Christmas shopping last week and started thinking about which cookies to make for the men in the family. The last several years, I've made about 3 dozen cookies per man. If I start stockpiling supplies now, my grocery bill won't be so big at one time (this list of cookies will take 5 boxes of butter, and nearly 25 cups of flour...)

Here's the list for this year:
Almond Caramel Swirls
Salted Caramel Thumbprints
Chocolate Crinkles
Key Lime Coins
Chocolate Espresso Coins
Mexican Chocolate Snickerdoodles
Hazelnut Kisses
Browned Butter Blondies
Cherry Surprise Crinkles
Farmgirl Susan's Ginger Snaps
Farmgirl Susan's Shortbread Chocolate Chip Toffee Bit cookies
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Nigella's Chocolate Chip cookies
Ribbon Cookies
Sugar Cookies

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dinners week of 11/12

Meatloaf w/ mashed potatoes and veggies
Chicken tacos (crockpot recipe)
Pork Chops
Fried fish w/ hushpuppies

I promise we'll eventually get to something more than food. It's almost Thanksgiving, which means garden catalogs are on their way...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cajun Chicken Pasta

The original recipe may be found here.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

8 ounces uncooked pasta - I used elbow macaroni because that's what we had
1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1/2" pieces
1-2 tsp Cajun seasoning  - used Weber Cajun Seasoning
1 tbsp olive oil
about 6 mini sweet peppers, sliced
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
medium yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup 2% milk
1 tbsp flour
3 tbsp cream cheese
pepper and salt to taste

Prepare pasta in salted water according to package directions.

Heat a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; saute the chicken in olive oil  5 to 6 minutes or until done.

Add olive oil to a second large skillet; add bell peppers, onions, and garlic to skillet, sauté 3-4 minutes

In a small blender make a slurry by combining milk, flour and cream cheese. Set aside. Season chicken generously with Cajun seasoning, garlic powder and salt.

Add mushrooms and tomatoes and sauté 3-4 more minutes or until vegetables are tender. Season with salt, garlic powder and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium-low; add chicken broth and pour in slurry stirring about 2 minutes.

Add chicken to vegetable skillet; adjust salt and Cajun seasoning to taste, cook another minute or two until hot. 

Serve with the pasta. 

Note: I may have used too much Cajun seasoning, as the Hubs was sweating. Oops. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Making use of Apples

Mom gave me some apples from my Aunt's tree (Thanks Mom and Patty!) I love eating fresh fruit, but in addition to the clementines, bananas, pears, grapes, and additional apples from Mom last weekend, I was afraid some of this fruit would go to waste. So instead of eating them raw, I dug out the Joy of Cooking cookbook and searched for apple recipes.

The Hubs doesn't like pie. Weird, I know. So I settled on the recipe for Apple Tartlets with the Basic Pie Dough.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Basic Pie Dough:
2-1/2 c flour
1-1/4 tsp salt

With a pastry blender, cut in until blended to the size of peas:
3/4 c shortening
3 Tbsp cold butter

Add 6 Tbsp butter, then roll out to 1/4" thick.

Use a 3" biscuit cutter to cut 12 rounds of dough, and then pressed them into and up the sides of a muffin pan.

4 c thinly sliced apples (hint: use your Pampered Chef Apple Peeler Corer Slicer for this!), and then cut into 1/2" pieces

Distribute the fruit between the mini-pies. Then mix in a medium bowl:
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 c evaporated milk (I had this left over from a recipe from last week, otherwise use 1 c heavy cream)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Distribute the liquid, about 1/4 c per mini-pie.

Bake for 40 minutes.
Mini apple pies!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dinners week of 11/5

Crockpot Roast w/ Potatoes, Carrots, Onions - didn't make this last week as planned!
Coconut shrimp w/ parmesan roasted cauliflower
Cajun chicken pasta
Deer Chili

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Lucky One

Don't worry, there won't be anything graphic in this post. I was too busy working on the chickens to take any photos.

Saturday, October 13, Mom, Grandma and I butchered four of these brown leghorn roosters. We left one alive because I think they are beautifully colored. The whole process went a lot easier than I expected.

Mom and I watched several youtube videos on butchering and Grandma passed on her expertise.

This Saturday, my Mom, brother and I butchered four Buff Orpingtons. It went a little faster this time. 

You see there are five roosters in the cage? One of the Buff Orpingtons has a really great crow; it wanes/dwindles at the end of the crow, and he leans into it. I didn't want to kill him. 

He's the Lucky One.

Next year if we get new chickens to butcher, I'd like to get meat breed chickens, that have more meat on them.

I also brought home my first dozen eggs from this year's batch of chickens!

Friday, November 2, 2012


Wednesday was one of those throw together dinners. I knew I had the components, but didn't have a "recipe". I just went with what I thought would taste well together.
1 pkg of spinach/ricotta tortellini, prepared per package instructions
1 lb ground pork, browned and drained
about 4 mini bell peppers, diced
half an onion, diced
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 jar of pasta sauce

Brown the pork and drain it, then add the seasoning, onions and peppers to the pan and saute until tender.
Add the mushrooms and saute until cooked.
Mix in the pasta sauce, and mix in the drained tortellini once cooked.

On the side, I sauteed about 1 lb of asparagus, that were cut into 1-1/2" pieces. I sauteed in about 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil, and seasoned with salt, pepper and Parmesan.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Hub's birthday cake

The Hub's birthday was this week. I grew up in a household where you chose your birthday dinner and birthday cake. Is it like this in all families? I'd like to continue that tradition in my household. The only problem is, who will make my cake?

Anywho, the Hubs decided he wanted a carrot cake with the icing that goes on German chocolate cakes. Weird combination, I know. But it worked, and tasted delicious. Notice the past tense in that last sentence...

To make this cake, I used recipes out of two different cookbooks. The cake came out of the Joy of Cooking. The icing came out of Better Homes and Gardens Bridal Edition of the Red Plaid Cookbook.

I used (2) 9" round cake pans and made a layer cake. Next time I make this icing for a layer cake, I'll double the recipe because there was only enough icing to ice between layers and the top. The sides of the cake were exposed.

Carrot Cake
Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk together in a large bowl (I used my large Pyrex bowl):
1-1/3 c flour
1 c sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt

In another bowl (I used my medium Pyrex bowl), whisk together:
2/3 c vegetable oil
3 large eggs

Mix into the egg mixture:
1-1/2 c shredded carrots (about 21 baby carrots)
1 c chopped pecans (original recipe called for walnuts)
1 c raisins
1/2 c canned crushed pineapple

Mix the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Scrape into 2 9" pans, or a 9x13, lined with parchment paper. (This was the first time I've lined a cake pan with parchment paper and it was genius!) Bake 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Let cake cook for about 5 minutes, then remove the cake and parchment paper from the pan and let col on racks.

Coconut-Pecan Icing
In a medium saucepan, beat:
1 egg

2/3 c evaporated milk
2/3 c sugar
1/4 c butter

Cook over medium heat until thickened, about 6 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in:
1-1/3 c coconut
1/2 chopped pecans

Allow to cool before icing the cake.  

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is one of those recipes I found on Pinterest. The original may be found here. I tweaked it by adding vegetables. One of our favorite Chinese restaurants in Springfield was Hong Kong Inn, and they put pineapple, peppers, and possibly onions (I can't remember!) in their sweet and sour chicken. It was delicious. I haven't found a Chinese restaurant here that compares. And then I made this recipe.

We may never eat out for Chinese again.

Start off cooking your rice. I used Bob's Red Mill Brown and Wild Rice blend. This takes about 45 minutes to cook properly.

Sweet and Sour Chicken
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
1 c cornstarch or flour in a ziplock baggie
2 eggs beaten in a bowl
2-3 bell peppers, or about 6 mini peppers, cored, seeded, and julienned

Heat a skillet with about 1/3 c vegetable oil in it.

Put a handful of the chicken into the ziplock baggie and shake it to coat. Then put several pieces in the egg to coat.

Cook the chicken until lightly browned. You'll probably want to coat and cook in several batches.

Put the chicken in a 9x13 pan.

In a separate skillet, saute the peppers in some olive oil until tender. Place on top of the chicken.

For the sauce, mix together:
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c ketchup
1/2 c white vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp garlic powder

Then pour over the chicken mixture. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Serve over the rice.

Next time, I'll add canned chunk pineapple and about half an onion, sauteed.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Three Country Acres

You'll notice I've personalized the blog header. It's no longer the generic Blogger header.

Since we've settled into a house that I don't intend on ever moving from (queue the realtors and potential purchasers), I'm changing my blog name. I'll be renaming my blog to Three Country Acres. The web address will be
You shouldn't have to do anything except update your reader feeds. I'll be slowly working through posts to make sure the links still work.

Meals week of 10/29

This week, I went out of town for a conference for work for a day and a half... I knew I would be gone for part of the Hub's birthday, so I made his cake on Sunday. His cake was carrot cake with coconut pecan icing.

For dinners this week:
Tritip roast on the grill
Tortellini with asparagus
Pinto beans with Ham (crockpot)
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Crockpot roast with potatoes, carrots and onions

My lunches:
Sauteed kale and mushrooms with carmelized onions, roasted chickpeas and white cheddar. Make this chickpea recipe!!! I could eat this instead of popcorn!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Crock Pot BBQ Ribs

About last night's dinner.... I meant to photograph the ribs, but we ate them all. I had about a 2 lb package from the half hog we bought awhile back. The original recipe may be found here.

Crock Pot BBQ Ribs

  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp Sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 rack spareribs, cut in half as needed to fit in crock pot
  • 1 cup your favorite barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)
  • 1-1/2 c water


In medium bowl, mix all the ingredients.
Add the ribs  to the crockpot  and top with the sauce, turning them to coat. Cover the crock and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

I added water to the recipe because I knew I would be away from the house for 12 hours. Last time I made fajita chicken in the crockpot, I didn't add water, and the chicken was really dry and almost burnt. I didn't want that to happen with ribs!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chicken Fricassee

I made this recipe for dinner Sunday night.The original recipe may be found here.

Chicken Fricassee

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
Seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, diced
2 handfuls of baby carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
chicken organs: liver, gizzard, heart, diced
2 Tbsp flour
2/3 c dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
4 cups chicken broth
2 sprigs fresh parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large egg (original recipe called for 2 egg yolks)
1/4 c half & half (original recipe called for heavy cream)

Season the chicken pieces with the spices.

Melt the butter in a large dutch oven. Then place the chicken pieces in the butter until lightly browned. Remove chicken and put on a plate; you may need to cook in batches depending on the size of the chicken and pot.

Add the veggies to the dutch oven and saute until tender. Stir in the flour until incorporated. Stir in the wine and cook until evaporated. Stir in the chicken broth, chicken organs and spices. Bring to a boil.

Add the chicken pieces back in and simmer for 25 minutes, or until chicken reaches correct temperature (165).

Remove the chicken pieces to a plate again....

In a heatproof glass, or a coffee mug, mix together the egg and half & half. Stir in 1/4 c of chicken liquid at a time, until mug is full. This is to prevent the egg from scrambling when it hits the broth in the dutch oven! Slowly pour the egg mixture into the veggies, stirring constantly. When all egg is in the pot, add the chicken back in.


We ate this on top of mashed potatoes.

You'll notice the original recipe included mushrooms, which I forgot to buy even though they were on the grocery list... How does that happen?

I used one of our freshly butchered roosters for this meal. The rooster was one of those that ran wild in the cow pasture eating bugs and grass all day, and he had the darkest "dark meat" I've ever seen! Very tasty though!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Freddy Fred Fred

Friday, Freddy's registration papers arrived!!!
I've never had a registered dog, so this is all new and exciting to me. The papers show his lineage for four generations back, including the dog and owners' names.

Freddy is getting pretty big, but not too big to get carried around by my brother, or to sit in my lap.

He'll be making a vet visit soon to get his rabies shot and to get neutered. Which I almost feel bad about since he's registered. If we weren't going to neuter him, we'd need to identify a female border collie for breeding...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

The original recipe for these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins may be found here.

The recipe makes 12 muffins. 

Cream cheese filling:
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 c sugar

Mix together with a fork or hand mixer and put in the fridge until needed. 

3/4 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 c pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1-3/4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves

Mix together the sugar, oil, pumpkin and eggs. Then mix in the flour, baking soda and spices. 

Place 1-2 Tbsp of the batter in the bottom of a muffin pan, either lightly oiled or lined with paper cups. 

Then place about 1 Tbsp of the cream cheese in the muffin pan. 

Then cover with the remaining batter, about 2-3 Tbsp per muffin. 

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Meals for week of 10/22

This coming week we're having:

Chicken fricassee - made from one of the roosters we butchered last weekend
Enchilada casserole
BBQ ribs in the crockpot
Goulash - made by the Hubs
Chili - if we need another meal - we need to perfect our recipe so we can win the chili cookoff next year!

Anniversary #5

Saturday, October 20 we celebrated our five year wedding anniversary. Did you know that the fifth anniversary's traditional gift is wood?

We didn't know that until after the fact... Last weekend we planted 9 fruit trees.
This weekend, we staked an additional 3 of those trees (there are still 3 needing staked, but Lowe's only had 3 more staking kits...)

And we built a compost bin.
It's a 4 foot cube. The slats on the front side of it are removable for when I need to flip the compost over or remove it to put in the garden. My husband is genius.
In addition, I also received flowers, that were delivered in the middle of the night by the "anniversary mouse" and placed beside my coffee pot. I also received a rain gauge/thermometer combo. I'm not sure where to locate it, so it is inside the house still.

I got up early and made cream cheese filled pumpkin muffins. I'll share the recipe this week. They were good, but I was expecting the cream cheese filling to be gooey-er.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Baked Pasta with Spinach and Sausage


Tuesday night for dinner, I made Baked Pasta. The original recipe may be found here.

1/2 c ricotta or cottage cheese
1 c Italian cheese blend, shredded + 1/2 c more for topping
1/2 box of pasta
4 Italian sausage links
10 oz frozen spinach
1 can tomato paste
1 pint tomatoes, I used home canned
Italian seasoning
handful of fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced

Preheat the oven to 350.

Remove the sausage from its casing and saute in a skillet. Add the spinach and cook until warmed through.

Prepare the pasta per package instructions.

In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta/cottage cheese, Italian cheese, Italian seasonings and parsley.

In a medium saucepan, simmer the tomato paste, tomatoes and garlic. Cook until slightly thickened.

Once everything is cooked, mix the pasta, spinach/sausage mixture, the cheese mixture, and half of the tomato mixture together. Pour into a 9x9 baking dish.

Cover with the remaining tomato sauce and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Chicken Marsala

Monday for dinner I made Chicken Marsala. The original recipe may be found here

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 10 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 c marsala wine or white wine (I used Chardonnay)
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • c 5-minute brown rice
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. 

Saute the mushrooms in the butter until tender. 

Mix in the flour and cook for about a minute. 

Then mix in the wine and cream and cook until slightly thickened. 

Stir in 2 cups of water, the parsley, salt and pepper and chicken and cook until chicken is almost done. 

Spread rice in the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan.

 Pour the chicken mixture on top. Bake for about 25 minutes. 

Sprinkle the top with parmesan then cook for 5 minutes longer. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The orchard

We now own three acres in the country. I love gardening and planting, and for as long as I can remember, I've dreamed of an orchard. An orchard so plentiful that I could eat fresh fruit, preserve some for the dead of winter, and still have some left to give away. Saturday, that dream started coming true.
We came home with an orchard...

This month at Sunny Hill is garden bucks month. All throughout the year, for every $10 you spend, you receive $1 in garden bucks. In October, you get to spend the garden bucks. They were a little low on trees, but I purchased an apricot and a pie cherry.
Then we went to Lowe's, where we found their fruit trees were 25% off. You all know that discounted plants are dangerous to me.... We left with another 7 trees: 2 peaches, 2 plums, 2 apples, and a pear. For the pear to produce, we really need to get one more. Next year, or next week after we've planted the nine trees we bought yesterday, I would like 2 sweet cherries and some pecan trees.

Here's the varieties we planted:
Elberta Peach
Red Haven Peach
Santa Rosa Plum
Bruce Plum
North Star Cherry
Granny Smith Apple
Golden Delicious Apple
Ayers Pear
Early Gold Apricot

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pumpkin Bread

There's a blog I read, KERF, and the author blends pumpkin puree into her oatmeal. I'm a huge oatmeal fan, and a pumpkin fan, so I tried it. It is pretty delicious, especially with cinnamon mixed in and almond butter on top. However, a 15 oz. can of pumpkin goes really far when you only use 1/3 c. of pumpkin every morning. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to eat the whole can before it went bad, so I searched by cookbooks for a pumpkin bread recipe. I found on in Joy of Cooking.

Pumpkin Bread
(makes a 9x5 loaf pan)
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease your loaf pan.

Whisk together (in your medium sized glass Pyrex bowl):
1-1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves

In your small Pyrex bowl, combine:
1/3 c milk
½ tsp vanilla

In your large Pyrex bowl, blend with a mixer until fluffy:
6 Tbsp (1/3 c) shortening or butter
1-1/3 c sugar

Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, to the butter/sugar mixture.

Beat in on low speed, 1 c. pumpkin puree

Add the flour and milk mixtures in two-three parts, alternating, until smooth.

Then mix in with a spatula:
1/2 c chopped pecans
1/3 c raisins

Bake in the loaf pan for about 1 hour, or until toothpick comes out clean.

As expected, our oven is off. I bought one of those thermometers that hangs from the oven rack. When the knob is set at 350, the thermometer only reads 325. It's a bit of a pain in the butt, because higher settings, like 400, read closer to 425 on the thermometer....   

Monday morning I expected to have a piece of pumpkin bread with my breakfast... but the pumpkin bread mouse a.k.a. the Hubs finished off the pan in the middle of the night! And he doesn't even like pumpkin!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Spinach and Feta Casserole with Brown Rice and Parmesan

The original recipe may be found here. You'll notice the original doesn't contain salmon. But while I was preparing this, I thought the flavors would go well together and it would sneak in some Omega-3s. This really tastes like spinach artichoke dip.

Spinach and Feta Casserole with Brown Rice and Parmesan  

3 cups cooked brown rice
10 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
5 oz container crumbled Feta cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan
Salt & Pepper
7 oz pouch boneless/skinless salmon
1/2 c shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cook enough brown rice to make 3 cups cooked brown rice. (I used 5-minute rice and needed to cook 1-1/2 c rice with 1-1/2 c water.)

Put thawed spinach into a colander, then use your hands to squeeze out as much of the water as you can.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs and then mix in the milk, sliced green onions, thyme, salt, and Worcestershire sauce. When ingredients are combined, mix in the drained spinach. Then mix in the crumbled Feta and Parmesan, followed by the brown rice and salmon. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the mixture into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Then sprinkled about mozzarella on top and bake for another 10 minutes.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Meals for week of 10/15

In addition to the below meals, we'll also eat a rooster that Mom, Grandma and I butchered on Saturday.

Leftover chili from the Chili cookoff at the Hub's work
Brown Sugar and Soy Sauce Salmon w/ veggies
Sausage and spinach casserole
Marsala chicken casserole

My lunches:
Spinach, Feta, Brown Rice casserole

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Meals week of 10/8

Grilled meats w/ leftover veggies: last night we had a beef rib roast rubbed with salt, pepper, Chicago Steak seasoning, brown sugar, and grilled to rare/medium rare, and cheddar brats
Enchilada casserole
Chicken w/ rice and broccoli
Chili- the Hubs is entering a chili in a competition for his work on Friday

Corn chowder

Breakfasts: oatmeal!!!

Corn Chowder

Something about cool weather makes me hungry for corn chowder. This recipe is loosely based on a recipe from a cookbook I borrowed from Mom awhile back, The Daily Soup. As usual, I tweaked the recipe, so only my version is below.

Corn Chowder
5 slices bacon, sliced into 1/2" strips
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
3-4 small sweet peppers, or 1-2 regular size sweet peppers, diced
2-3 jalapenos, seeded and diced
2 chipotles in adobo, diced
2-3 small potatoes, cut into 1/2" pieces
16 oz bag of frozen corn
1 quart vegetable stock
1/2 to 1 c of 1/2 & 1/2
handful of cilantro, chopped
2 scallions, sliced thinly

Fry the bacon in a large soup pot. I used my Lodge Dutch oven. If there is a lot of grease, drain it, otherwise leave it in there to saute the veggies.

Add the celery, onion, sweet peppers and jalapenos and cook until almost tender.

Add the potatoes, frozen corn, potatoes and vegetable stock. Simmer until potatoes are tender.

Add the chipotles, 1/2 & 1/2 and simmer for a couple minutes.

Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro and scallions.

Notice I forgot to add any other seasonings, even salt and pepper... But the chipotles made additional seasoning unnecessary!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...