Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sopapilla Cheesecake

I posted this in 2009 on my old blog, but thought I would re-post it, cause it's so good.  The topping is the absolute best!

I tried it this week, and it makes a delicious, simple cheesecake.  It’s best refrigerated, keeps the cinnamon/sugar topping crunchy!

1 1/2c Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 stick butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3 (8 oz pkgs) softened cream cheese
2 cans crescent rolls
Mix sugar and cinnamon together. Set aside 1/2 cup for topping. Mix cream cheese, vanilla and remaining sugar mixture together. Place one can of crescent rolls on bottom of large pan. Spread cream cheese mixture over top. Then place the second can of crescent rolls on top. Melt the butter and pour on top of the rolls. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar mixture on top.
Bake at 350*F for 30 minutes. For variation, layer can of apple pie filling over bottom crust before spreading on cream cheese.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

I've been making this for years, and now cringe when I have to use canned pasta sauce.  I usually make a big batch and either freeze half or use the leftovers for a baked pasta dish the next day.
I manage to cram a ton of veggies in, even my veggie hating husband can't complain, though.
Please, give this recipe a try.

(I am not a measurer, so my ingredients list may be a bit vague.  Edit it to fit your tastes.)

1 lb. Ground Deer, or Beef
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Medium Sweet Yellow Onion, chopped
3-4 Carrots, minced
1 Green Pepper, chopped
2-3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
2 Cans of Crushed Tomatoes
1 Tbsp. Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp. Dried Basil, or 2 Tbsp Fresh
A Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tsp. Salt

*Brown the ground deer/beef in a medium size saucepan.  Drain and set aside.
*Heat the olive oil in the same pan.  Slowly cook the onions, carrots and peppers until they're soft.  Add the garlic, stirring it so it doesn't burn.  Add the oregano, basil and red pepper, stirring for a minute.  Then add the tomatoes.  Add salt to taste.
*Simmer until the flavors meld, at least 45 minutes.  Up to a few hours.  The longer it cooks, the thicker the sauce will get.  You can thin it with more crushed or chopped tomatoes.
*Serve over whole wheat noodles with parmesan cheese.

I would show you a picture of the sauce over noodles, but it didn't last long enough on anyone's plate to take one.  So, here's one in the pan, simmering.

I know you are all going to try this soon - let me know what you think of it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

An Eco-Friendly Sink Cleaner

I was watching HGTV the other day and Sabrina Soto taught me a new way to clean my sink.

I have a white, porcelain sink.  I really wanted stainless steel, but my husband insisted on a white, farmhouse sink.  It's beautiful, and large, really fun to use, but awful to keep clean.
I usually use Barkeeper's friend.  I'm a fan.

But, I decided to give this new way a try.
We're always trying to do things healthier, safer for the family.

Here are the ingredients:

3 parts Baking Soda
1 Part Hydrogen Peroxide
1 Lemon

Mix the Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide to make a paste.  Drop a spoonful into your sink and rub it around with a soft, wet cloth.  After you've scrubbed the stains off, rub half a lemon over it.  Enjoy the yummy smelling fizz.  Rinse with hot water.

It worked so good!  And, although it did leave my hands a touch slimy, it was way better than the gritty, sharp stuff BKF leaves behind.

Here are the pics of it's beautifulness
After and Before
(I had a REALLY dirty sink, I know)

The whole sink the next day, in the sunlight

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2011 Christmas Cake Pops

Every year, I make goodies to send to my husband's office.  This year, I sent out 7 boxes to his office and other people he works with.  I think I made 5 cakes with of pops.  I also sent peppermint bark, but that's not picture-worthy.

I made Red Velvet Santa Hat pops.  I used a mini marshmallow for the top.  The Christmas Pudding balls were also red velvet.

The trees were yellow cake.

I used chocolate for the blue, with blue sanding sugar.
I also made white with white sanding sugar, but didn't get pics of them.  It was 1:30 am when I was finishing them and all I wanted to do was go to sleep, not take pictures.

The peppermint topped balls were also white cake.  They were our favorite.

This is what can happen if you aren't paying attention.  I think these were hard to do right because I added too much frosting.  The recipe says to use 3/4 of a can, but I never even use 1/2 a can.  I usually use about 2 rounded serving spoons full.
(yes, it was tasty.)

Here they are all boxed up and ready to pack.  I am getting good at packing them to ship.  I pack each pop surrounded by tissue paper and bubble wrap, then place them in a bakery box.  I put a couple of layers of large bubble wrap on the bottom of the shipping box, then some tissue paper or shredded craft paper.  Next the box of cake pops, then bubble wrap around and over it all.  Tape it up good, label and ship.

This time, the boxes I got to ship in were HUGE and ended up being so expensive.  Oh well, everyone loved them.

If you're reading this and don't know how to make Cake Pops, here is my tutorial on them:
Cake Pop Tutorial

Hope you enjoyed my pictures!

Linked to A Well-Seasoned Life, Sweet Indulgences Sunday

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Cake Pops - A more detailed Pop Tutorial

I'm not so good at making cupcakes.  I'm pretty good at making them taste yummy, but not so good at decorating.  I don't think I'm patient enough nor artsy enough to create something so intricate.  Guess I could make them and stick Oreos or peanut butter cups on them.  I've stuck strawberries on them before.  Or mint.  I'm real earthy like that.

Cakes, those I'm even worse at.  I used to live near a friend who is wonderful at cake art.  She and I would create masterpieces.  Beautiful towers of fondant and buttercream.  Then, she moved away and suddenly, those towers didn't look so nice.  I've pretty much retired my tips and bags, shhh, don't tell on me.

Now, when I make cupcakes, I end up with a nice, moist cake, something yummy shoved inside, and delishiousness slopped on top.  And they're gobbled up.

I don't know how these pastry shops do it.  Make those beautiful smoothly swirled icing hats.  Someone want to tell me how?

In the meantime, I make cake pops.  They're just as much work, maybe more.  But, they're such tiny bites of sweet mush, no one can resist.

This week, I made pumpkin cake pops.  They were supposed to be Jack-O-Lanterns, but I can't seem to figure out how to make those really expensive edible markers work on the chocolate.  I get frustrated and throw them out.  Yep, there went $8 in the garbage last night.  Ugh.

Do you remember how to make cake balls?  I'll tell you again, maybe with a few more good tips than the last time.

1.  Bake a boxed cake mix in a 9x13" pan.  I used a Spice cake this time.  Let it cool.
2.  Take it from the pan.  Break off any hard edges, and crumble the rest into a large bowl.
3.  Add some canned frosting.  About 1/3 cup worth.  I like to use cream cheese flavored frosting.  Some recipes say to use more frosting.  I've found that if I do, or if I use homemade frosting, the balls are too soft and fall off the sticks.
4.  Shape the mix into balls.  I make them small enough to fit into my cupped hands easily.  Smash the mix a lot until it's not crumbly any more, then form it into a ball.  Or whatever shape you're going to make.
5.  Refrigerate said balls overnight.
6.  Melt some candy disks.  I use the microwave.  You can use the microwave, too.  Or a double boiler.  My double boiler's in the attic.
7.  Dip your sticks into the chocolate, then insert them half-way into a ball.  Let it set up for about an hour, preferably in the fridge.

8.  Melt more candy disks.  You want this portion to be a bit thinner than the previous.  You can achieve this by adding some shortening to the disks.  I usually add about 1-2 teaspoons per bag of melts.  If you add too much, your chocolate won't harden.  Trust me, I am speaking from experience.

9.  Take a few of the balls on sticks out of the fridge.  3-4 at a time.  Dip your cake ball into the chocolate.  Lift it up and tap it gently on the side of the bowl to shake off excess.  Turn it a little as you go so you evenly distribute the chocolate.  Be careful, if you haven't inserted your stick far enough, or if your chocolate is too thick, this could happen...

Yep, the ball falls off the stick.  Then, you've got trouble.  Yummy trouble!
So, back to the right way, dip, tap.

10.  Insert the stick into a chunk of styrofoam until the candy is dry.  Then, once it's dry, you can decorate it or just wrap it up.  I like to wrap mine in nice cello bags.

I used spice flavored cake, orange candy melts and green tic tacs for these.  If you can figure out how to make those pens work, let me know?
(I also tried a squeeze bottle of black icing.  That was a really gross disaster.)

I sold these at my daughter's soccer game as a donation to the program.  I've had requests for more before the season's over.  I've got a red velvet plan in the works...

I linked this recipe to
Sweets for a Saturday by Sweet as Sugar
Sugar Bananas Sweets This Week
A Well Seasoned Life Sweet Indulgences Sunday

Monday, October 17, 2011

Raising Meat Chickens, Week 4

This week the meat chickens are 4 weeks old.  We estimate that they weigh over a pound already.  They're huge, compared to my pullet peeps who are only 3 days younger.  I'll have to take a picture of them next to each other, that would be interesting.

They are doing well out in their tractor.  It's holding up well, such a simple design but sturdy.  I'll have to come up with a new idea for a roof, the plywood we're using is already warping a little bit.  I would love to find a sheet of metal roofing to fit.

They are eating 12 hours on, 12 off now.  24% protein food.  Drinking 3 gallons of water a day.  I still add the chicken vitamins to their water.

They love sunning themselves after they stuff themselves.  The roos are beginning to develop their combs and wattles.  There isn't a huge size difference between them and the girls, yet.

In case you can't tell, they're poopy chickens.  They poop, a lot.  They should probably be moved more than once a day to fresh grass.  But, they thenselves stay surprisingly clean.

In other news, I have a ringleader for my escapees.  This Barred Rock has taught at least 4 of her sisters to jump the fence and free range.  I love to let them free range, but while we're dealing with naughty Brady, I'm trying to keep them confined.
It's so nice to have friendly chickens wandering around...

This post linked to:  Homestead Barn Hop

Juliana Rancic is echoing my past, (Or, A Blessing in Disguise)

She has been trying to get pregnant for a few years.  She's tried IVF and it hasn't worked.  This last time, her doctor sent her to have further testing and they discovered she has breast cancer.  She has to have surgery and chemotherapy.  Then, she can try IVF again.

It's like my life 7 years ago.  I couldn't get pregnant.  My doctor sent me for further testing.  They found atypical cancerous cells.  I had a year of treatment.  Then, after IVF I got pregnant.

She said what I've been saying for years.

I love my babies.  If I didn't have infertility which led to the testing, who knows how sick I would be now?  I believe my babies saved my life.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Raising Meat Chickens - 3 Weeks old

The meaties are 3 weeks old this week, their birthday was yesterday.  They've done well transitioning to the tractor outside, even though it's been dropping into the 40's at night.  They have their heat lamp in the covered portion of the tractor and they huddle together under it at night.

During the day, they love to run around and forage a little bit in the grass.  I feed them 12 hours on mostly, now.  Really, I just feed them in the morning and make sure they have food throughout the day.  Then, when I tell them goodnight, I make sure they are out of food for the night.

We did lose one the first night out, or the second.  I think it just got too cold for her?  Maybe she ate too much.

They're feathering out nicely.  They come running when they see me, and attack my hand when I put their food trays in the tractor.  We are steadily moving them closer to the garden, where they'll spend their older days creating lovely compost for me.

We had an escapee.  My run isn't covered, but has 5-6' sides.  She took a running start and leaped the fence.  I let her wander alone for a couple of hours.  Some of the others tried to copy her, and Brady tried to go right through the fence, but no one else succeeded.

This post is linked to Simple Lives Thursday Blog Hop.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Raising Meat Chickens Post 1

I have laying hens.  They're wonderful, I love having them.  I raised them from a day old.  They lived in my kitchen for a few weeks, then the garage until they were about 5 weeks old, then moved outside to their coop.

After many months of pondering, I took the plunge and ordered meat chickens.  Cornish cross.  I had many hesitations, the main one being, who's going to process them for me?  I've never killed anything before, not even a fish while I've been fishing.

I asked for some help on Craigslist and had a couple of offers to teach me and do the actual processing.  So, that was what I needed to convince me to order them.

I ordered 38, received 39.  They came in a week ago this past Friday.  I'm thinking they were hatched that Wednesday, so they are now 12 days old.  I was shocked about their growth.  They eat like they're starving whenever I put the food in their brooder.  They climb over each other and stand on each other in order to eat.  They sleep in the food dish.

They are growing so fast.  Here's what they look like today compared to my hand.

I am too grossed out by their dirtiness to pick them up and hold them, so I'm just putting my hand next to them.  If any of you know chickens, you will realize that this is not typical for a 12 day old chick.  These guys are huge!  And hot.  That's really why I can't hold them, without the typical feathers of a chick, I can feel their body heat.  It's awful.

Their legs are huge too, they have thunder thighs and really large feet.  They're just all over giants.

I'm trying to raise them humanely.  I have them in a good sized brooder, they're not overcrowded nor do they have too much room to move around an hurt themselves.  (being so large, they can injure their legs with their weight.)  I'm feeding them starter/grower feed.  They have water available to them constantly and I am adding vitamins to it.  I have a heat lamp on the brooder, but I only turn it on at night and it's angled out the corner now, just to make sure they don't get chilled overnight.

Speaking of heat...I made a bad discovery yesterday.  It's been raining for a few days, and I didn't realize it, but the chicks tend to freak when it rains.  They piled into a corner of the brooder and smashed some of them under the pile.  They were fine one minute, then gone the next.  I'm glad Troy was with me when I discovered them.  He helped me with the "burial".

So, now we are down to 30.

I have plans to build their tractor early this week and get them outside permanently.  They've been out a couple of times when I've been cleaning the brooder, but they don't seem to enjoy it like the other chicks.  I hope once they're out all the time they'll have more fun.

Here's a pic of them hanging out in the brooder.

You have to admit, they have the potential to be cute.  See the little guy with the "toy" in his mouth.  He's going to be my class clown, I think.

Keep checking back for updates.

I shared this post at the Homestead Barn Hop on Prairie Homestead.

Monday, September 12, 2011

How the chickens are faring

It's September.  I have 5 hens who are 27 weeks old and 7 hens and a roo who are 22 weeks old.  The 5 hens have been laying for almost 3 months now.  Today, we got our first egg from the younger girls!  I believe it was one of my Barred Rocks, she looks really red in the face.

Here are a few pics of them.

This is Brady, he's our roo.  He only has one waddle, the girls think it's cute.

My red stars are the girls who have been laying for a while now.  

My 2 Eaaster Eggers, (one is sun bathing), one of the BR girls, and a Buff peeking out from under the tree.  I don't think this is the BR who is laying, but, I have trouble telling them apart.

And, my little helper.  She loves to stick her fingers through the fence, until the hens get curious to see what treat she's offering and give her a peck.

I have almost 40 meat chicks arriving later this week, and another 10 laying chicks next week.  Then, we should be set for the winter, no brooding chicks when it's cold...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

After Hurricane Irene

We made it through with minimal damage.  Some large tree limbs, and we are going to have to take down the rest of the tree.  Some shingles.  That's about it.  No flood damage.  No windows or siding.  We didn't lose power.  We sure were protected!  Thank you, Jesus.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness

So, after I remodeled my kitchen, we had a catastrophe. No, not the earthquake, it didn't cause any damage. No, not the hurricane, yet. We had a bad leak, caused by one of my wonderful, new LG appliances.  More on that later.

Meanwhile, pictures of the prep we are doing for Hurricane Irene.  (we are supposed to get hit starting tomorrow at noon.)

We started on the deck.  Cleared off all the plants, the table and chairs, the grill and toys.

Moved on to the hot tub.  We have a strap system set up, attached to the stakes you see.  We just took it apart so it can be used tonight before the storm.

See all the stuff in the garage?

We had to come up with a good plan for the chicken coop.  It's just a shed set on cinder blocks, a flying kite.  We didn't want to have to try to drag it and my chickens from the field on Sunday, so we anchored it.  Steel cable and huge spikes.  It's pretty strong, we hope.
My husband is so smart, look at the system he designed to tighten the straps.

We cleaned the gutters, yucky.  There were a few crepe myrtle branches hanging over the front, trimmed them off.

And, we removed all the hanging plants, potted plants, bird feeders and bird baths.

I picked all the ripe tomatoes and hope to either can or freeze them tomorrow.  And, I dug a few potatoes to have fried up for breakfast or something else delish.

So, we seem to be prepared.  What I'm mostly concerned about is the chickens, never had to protect something living outside in a storm before.  And, I'm pretty sure we will lose power.  Not too bad, except it's hot and muggy and my family is spoiled by AC.  And...I have a freezer full of stuff like blueberries, corn, venison and I would cry if it spoiled.  I plan to plug it into the car periodically if I have to.
(Is it too hokey to say, "Come On, Irene"?)