Monday, January 27, 2014

Old Man Winter....Time to Go!!

Winter....go away. It's been fun, but I'm seriously over the "polar vortex", unrelenting winds and snow. My chickens are over you too. On the days they decide to actually lay eggs, they freeze before I can even get to them.

Well, until winter listens to me, we have to make some temporary housing arrangements for the poultry.

With snow drifts like this, I can't even get into the run without shoveling around the gate. 

And the chickens won't leave the safety of the coop with this much snow on the they will be relocated to indoor accommodations. 

It's not exactly the Ritz, but see the eggs above? That's always our first indication they're happy with the living quarters. And our rooster, Deuce Bigelow, seems to relax more when he's inside.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Zesty Baby Back Ribs

With a wind chill of -25, several inches of snow on the ground, and more winter weather in the days to come, all I can think about is summer. Maybe that's why I was craving ribs today. But this is no time to stand outside at the grill (even I could even get it lit with these winds!), so on to plan b.....

For the sauce.....
1/4 c brown sugar
2 Tablespoons paprika
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 c hot sauce
1 small onion, minced
salt and pepper

Cut rack of ribs down to individual portions. I did about three ribs in each portion Mix together sauce ingredients and slather on ribs.

Wrap the rib sections in foil. If you plan ahead, toss them in the crock pot on low for 8 hours. Or, if you're like me and planning dinner 8 hours ahead of time is nearly unheard of, place in baking dish and bake at 275 for 4 hours....then grab snacks for everyone to hold them over until the late dinner!

After cooking (either crock pot or oven), unwrap and brush on a little bit of barbecue sauce and put under the broiler for a couple of minutes.

These ribs are fall off the bone, finger licking good!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie In a Cup

I love chocolate chip cookies....maybe a bit too much. That's why I love all these "in a cup" recipes-portion control. I have very little willpower when it comes to cookies, so I try not to keep them around the house. This recipe fills my cookie craving, and keeps me from eating too many!

What you'll need: 
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar 
1 egg yolk
a few drops of vanilla
1/4 c flour (add slowly, you might need less)
pinch of salt
pinch of baking soda
pinch of baking powder
1 Tablespoon chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon mint chocolate chips

Melt butter in microwave in coffee cup (if you have one, use a shorter, wider mug). Add everything except flour, egg yolk and chips and mix well. When everything is incorporated, add egg yolk and most of the flour. Mix until dough thickens like a normal chocolate chip cookie dough, adding flour as needed. Since my chickens produce abnormally large eggs, I had to use more than 1/4 c flour, but I'm guessing 1/4 c would work for a standard egg. Last, mix in chips. Microwave on high 45 seconds. If you're using a taller mug, you may need to add more time-about 5 or 10 seconds each time. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Chicken Helper-Sweet & Spicy Teriyaki

As a part of General Mills Hamburger Helper Community, I occasionally receive product samples to try. We received a couple of samples a few months ago (yes, I know....I'm waaaaay behind in actually posting this). We got to try out a couple of new products, both of the Chicken Helper line-Sweet and Spicy Teriyaki and Orange Chicken.

I tossed the cut up chicken into the skillet, then started reading the directions. Oops. Note to anyone else who is going to try one of the new Ultimate Helpers-the meat gets coated with the seasoning BEFORE going into the hot pan. Tossing the seasoning in the pan with the chicken still got the flavor right, but I did learn my lesson!
The teriyaki sauce and some water finish off the mix.

The box also comes with white rice. We added the broccoli. 

What I liked: Excellent flavor! Wow....just as good as my mom's teriyaki recipe (but I'll never tell her that). It had a nice spice to it, but wasn't too much for the kids. 

What I didn't like: Not enough rice. And the husband doesn't like steamed rice, so I had to make him fried rice to go with it. Our free sample had a bit more spice than the ones they sell in the stores. Too bad-the freebie was better. 

Verdict: Since this post is a bit late, I can tell you we've bought four boxes since our freebie. It's super delicious, even the less spicy version. 

We also tried out the Orange Chicken Helper. I used pork shoulder steak instead of chicken and made a box of Chicken Rice-A-Roni instead of the white rice it comes with. There was literally not a drop left in the pan. 

As a member of the Hamburger Helper community, I occasionally receive products free of charge. The information and above product have been provided free of charge by Betty Crocker and General Mills through MyInsite. However, the opinions in this blog post are those of myself and my family.

Philly Cheese Steaks

Peppers and onions are definitely a weakness of mine. I can eat them by the plateful. Unfortunately, the husband requires a little more at meal time. So when I'm craving peppers and onions, we have Philly Cheese Steaks. They're super easy to make and OMG....delicious!

In large pan, saute 1 Tablespoon (more or less) minced garlic, one bell pepper (sliced into strips) and one large onion (also sliced) in about 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Saute until onions are softened, but not mushy-usually takes only a couple of minutes.

 Add in thin strips of steak. I usually buy the thinnest cut of whatever steak is on sale. Salt. Then salt again.

Cook until meat is to your preference. Again, just a few minutes with these thin strips. Pile onto a toasted bun and add some provolone cheese.

I top mine with a few extra peppers :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

My Chickens are Meat Eaters....and I'm Proud of it

I just saw a commercial for one of the big name chicken companies that kind of made me laugh. They were promoting the fact that they feed their chickens a strict vegetarian diet. Before I had chickens, that probably would have made sense to me, and I probably would have been more inclined to buy chicken from that brand. But as I come upon my one year mark of raising chickens, I hear something like that and it's just crazy to even think about raising my flock on a vegetarian diet! Chickens are not natural vegetarians. One of the best things about having chickens is all the bugs they eat. Mosquitoes don't stand a chance in my yard....and watch out if a field mouse tries to find refuge near them!

The ladies searching for bugs