Friday, September 30, 2011

AMEX Dinner@6 Winner!

Good Morning y'all!! Today I'm am SO thrilled to announce the winner of the $100 American Express Gift Card, drumroll please....

And the winner is: Comment #54 Tracy R said... My favorite is a Bisquick one:

Congratulations Tracy!! You will be receiving an email from me shortly, to get your contact information which will be forwarded to FoodBuzz who will be sending out your prize! I want to note that according to the rules provided by FoodBuzz and American Express the winner will only have 48 hours to respond, if they don't I will choose another winner. 

Thank you so much everyone for commenting and your willingness to share your 6 ingredient recipes with me! I have so enjoyed reading each and every comment and checking out those fabulous recipes! Y'all are awesome! Keep up the cooking!

Happy Cooking!

*This giveaway is sponsored by Foodbuzz along with American Express. The winner was chosen via a Random Number Generator*
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Korean Beef

Korean Beef, Family Recipe

Y'all know I like to make some of my childhood favorites, and sometimes even re-create them. Korean Beef is a dish my Mom used to make when we were kids, in fact I think she still makes it to this day. Don't ask me where this recipe originated, as I have NO idea, lol! However, this is one of very few dishes that I have not made any changes too. There's just something so delicious about this simple meal, that I just can't change a thing. As you know this is a rare thing for me, and at times I've actually had to battle that little voice in my head saying "play with it, you know you wanna!". But every time I sink my teeth into a big ole' bite of this I know I made the right decision to leave well enough alone!

Words alone really can't describe this dish, it is most likely different from anything you've had before. If you're thinking this is going to taste like Beef and Broccoli, you would be very wrong. You can add broccoli to this, or even snow peas (do those still exist? I haven't seen them in YEARS!) but we like it best with just the carrots, and let me tell you what... My boys ADORE those carrots! I've even started adding extra because we end up fighting over who got more carrots... haha! The recipe listed below is actually for double the sauce of the original recipe, because we love this sauce so much. If you're not a sauce person feel free to cut it in half, but in my house we are saucy... BAHAHA!! Sorry I just couldn't resist! ;-)

1 lb. boneless beef top loin or sirlion steak (I buy the pre-sliced stir fry steak for this)
1/2 c. soy sauce
6 T. sugar (or Splenda)
4 T. vegetable oil
1/2 t. pepper
3-4 green onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
Cornstarch Slurry:
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
1 Tablespoon Water

Trim fat from beef; cut beef diagonally across grain into 1/8 inch slices (for ease in cutting, freeze partially for 1 1/2 hours).  Mix remaining ingredients; stir in beef and carrots until well coated. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. Cook the meat and carrots in 10 inch skillet or wok over medium heat until beef is cooked through and the carrots are soft. In a small container combine the cornstarch and water until it forms a white paste, add to the pan and let boil for a few minutes, this will thicken up the sauce. Serve beef with hot cooked rice. Serves 4.

Review: This is a very simple and yet utterly delicious meal! It's been a long time favorite in my family, and now I make it for my hubby and son and they love it just as much as I did growing up! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! 5 Stars.

Happy Cooking!

P.S. Don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY!! It's ends tonight at 11:59pm, so enter while you still can!
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Waffles

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Waffles, Farmers Wife Original

It probably won't come as much of a shock to you that I created yet another breakfast recipe... lol! I'm just a little bit obsessed with breakfast foods, and it's the one thing I can be completely creative with and have no fear of how my boys will react. For awhile now I've been toying around with the idea of a Pumpkin Spice Waffle, but I wanted to add something to make it stand out just a little bit. Then a couple weeks back I received the most fantastic package in the mail...

Thanks to the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program I received a box FULL of Ghiradelli Chocolates to try! I was so excited I started bouncing off the walls... No seriously I did. Then I opened the packages... Yeah... Getting chocolates in the mail in the middle of our AZ heat didn't work out too well, lol! They did have a completely melted ice pack in there in the attempt to keep the chocolates from melting, unfortunately that didn't work. These were SO melted, they haven't really recovered even being stored in the fridge. Once chocolate melts, it changes the texture completely, and I learned this lesson the hard way. Now don't get me wrong it tastes fantastic still, but to eat it as normal chocolate is impossible, since as soon as I remove it from the packaging it starts to melt again. It is however great for baking! So instead of pairing it with some fruit or beverage, I paired my chocolates with Pumpkin and baked it into waffles... Oh yeah baby! They were AWESOME! I can't believe how much we enjoyed these, in fact we even ate these cold as midnight snacks... haha!

These waffles came together SO fast, the longest part was honestly just the baking, in other words, waiting for the darn waffle iron to cook each one... haha! But it was worth the wait, served up with some warm maple syrup, these are such a wonderful treat full of fall flavor!

Ingredients: (yield about 12 waffles)
2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/4 Cups Pumpkin Puree
1/2 Cup Milk (I used 1%)
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Eggs
1 Bar Ghiradelli's 72% Twilight Delight Dark Chocolate

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spices. Whisk together until fully combined. Then in a medium bowl combine the vanilla, pumpkin, milk, oil and eggs. Whisk those together until full combined, then pour into the dry ingredients and mix until everything is combined and the batter should be thick. Next coarsely chop the chocolate, and using a spoon fold into the waffle batter. Heat your waffle iron, and spray with cooking spray. Using a measuring cup, measure out the amount of batter needed to fill your waffle iron, for my round one that was about 1/2 cup. Spread out slightly, and lower the top of the iron and let it cook until golden and slightly crispy. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm with your favorite syrup.

These were just outstanding, they were fantastic fresh out of the iron (because you know it's torture to wait for them all to finish baking!), and were delicious smothered in syrup too! The addition of the dark chocolate was out of this world, it took an already delicious waffle and made it spectacular! My Little Sous Chef devoured these, and then asked for more, so I'd give them a 4.5 star rating!

Happy Baking!

P.S. Don't forget about the Giveaway going on until this Thursday, Sept. 29th for a $100 American Express Gift card!! There's still time to enter!

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Spicy Mayo

Spicy Mayo, Farmers Wife Original

Hey y'all!! I am SO sorry it's been almost a week since I posted last... This whole week has been NUTS! I fell and twisted my ankle earlier this week and have been running around shopping, and then regretting it and laying down icing my foot for the better part of this week! With everything going on my brain has been way too fried to write up a post, however I have been cooking and baking up a storm! My house smells like fall today, and I'm loving it! But today's post is about something different!

We've all been to those upscale sandwich shops at one point or another, and most of us have favorites that we order ever single time we go. Well I remember one such place when I was living back East, that had the world's most amazing Turkey Sandwich, full of flavor and the most delicious spicy mayo. That was the only "wet" portion of the sandwich but it was enough, and I've long wanted to replicate that sandwich. I finally got as close as I could with this delicious mayo recipe, and some amazing onion poppy seed ciabatta bread. I made this for dinner one night last week, and then again for lunch the next day. hehe! If you love a flavorful sandwich, and want to replicate your favorite deli shop's specialty sandwich's, I hope you'll give this a try! And I hope y'all have a wonderful weekend!

1/2 cup Mayo (I like the Olive Oil based ones)
1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Paprika
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1-2 Green Onions, finely diced

Combine the mayo and spices in a bowl and whisk together. Taste test and if you want it spicier add more spices. Then add the diced onion and mix, spread on your bread of choice for a delicious sandwich. Cover and keep in the fridge.

I have to say I really, really love this stuff! I not only enjoyed my replica sandwich, but I also used this to make a BLT the other day on a delicious Everything Bagel, and I will never go back to plain ole' mayo on a BLT again! I hope you give this easy and delicious mayo a try soon! 5 stars

Happy Cooking!

P.S. Don't forget about the Giveaway going on until the 29th for a $100 American Express Giftcard!! There's still time to enter!
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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Apple Bars

Apple Bars, My Grandma's Recipe
 Hey y'all! Well it seems that fall is here, the temperature has dropped even here in AZ to the 90's! WAHOO!! haha! I know, I know that's not really cool, but when you go from 115+ everyday it feels like a drastic drop to us. And because of that I'm really in the fall mood, dying to bake and use all those beautiful apples that are showing up in my stores and pumpkin... I'm getting hungry just thinking about it! I don't know about y'all but this is my favorite Food time of the year, all the warm flavors and cinnamony goodness, just makes my soul sing.

I'm actually pulling this recipe from the archives and updating it. Believe it or not this blog was not always popular... Lol! I started it back in the spring of 2009 and the only person who read it was me. And there's quite a few posts that never got the attention they deserved, or good pictures either. So I'm going through and updating some of them, and in this case actually changing the recipe a bit. Not a lot really, but I did a few things. First off though I adore the original of this, what I really wanted was a thicker crust, because well... I LOVE this crust! I could eat just that and be happy. (I'm weird, but we've already established my insanity.) And I used less butter than the original called for, and upped the spices just a tad. Otherwise it is exactly the way Grandma made it! The weird thing is I don't remember this recipe from my childhood. There's very few of Grandma's recipes I don't remember, but this is one of them. Why that is, I don't know, and it seems a tragedy because they are AWESOME! In fact I'm thinking these need to make an appearance to the dessert table this Thanksgiving instead of the typical Apple Pie! Oh yeah... ;-)

2-3 Apples (I like gala or granny smith), peeled and thinly sliced

2 cups Flour
1/2 cup Oatmeal
1 cup Brown Sugar (or Splenda Brown Sugar Blend)
1/2 cup Melted Margarine

1 cup Water
1 cup Sugar (or Splenda)
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

Peel and slice the apples, and set aside in a little bit of lemon juice. Mix together the crust ingredients and reserve 1 cup of mixture for the top and pat the rest into a 8x8 pan. Cover with the sliced apples. In a medium saucepan boil the sauce ingredients for 5 minutes. Should be thick and bubbly. Pour over apples and cover with reserved crust mixture. Bake for 45 minutes at 350F degrees. Best if served warm (but is also delicious cold), may be topped with ice cream or whipped cream.

This is a very loved recipe in my house. I made it a few years ago for my Sister In Law's birthday and it's since become my easy fall back dessert that impresses and is like comfort food! My Little Sous Chef thinks it's the most yummy "cookie" and loves the cinnamon apples. Be sure to give this a try for the holidays, a wonderful substitution to the typical apple pie! 5 Stars.

Happy Baking!

P.S. Don't forget about the Giveaway going on until the 29th for a $100 American Express Giftcard!! There's still time to enter!
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Not Your Momma's Ravioli Lasagna - AMEX 6 Ingredient Challenge and Giveaway

Ravioli Lasagna, Farmers Wife Original

Hey y'all! If you're a Facebook fan, you know I've been working on some really special posts, that I've been DYING to share with you... Well here it is! I was chosen, along with 19 other fabulous bloggers, to be a part of the AMEX Dinner@6 Challenge by FoodBuzz's Tastemaker Program along with American Express to create a dinner with only 6 ingredients!!! I have to admit when I first got the email that I was chosen for this challenge, my emotions went haywire! I very quickly went from stunned, to ecstatic, to downright worried lol! This really was a challenge for me. I've made a few recipes in the past that were 6 ingredients or less, but never as a requirement (though I was relieved when I read the rules that water, oil, salt and pepper didn't count as one of the six so I could use them to my heart's desire! hehe!). So after spending a few days marinating ideas in my food obsessed brain, finally this one came to me at 2 am... Yeah... I told you before I dream in food. ;-) Ravioli Lasagna... Or as I like to call it "Not Your Momma's Ravioli Lasagna" this is unlike any traditional lasagna you've ever had, trust me on this!

For this challenge I had my own criteria on top of the 6 ingredients or less, it had to be easy, full of flavor and kid friendly. Because that's what this Momma needs at the end of the day. Though I have to be honest... I am surprised at how good this turned out. I know, I should wow you and say I knew it would be awesome and blah blah blah... But the truth is I was scared to make this. I've never really had luck with a lasagna before, and this is so NOT traditional lasagna. But then I served it up to my *picky* Little Sous Chef, and after he took his first bite, he closed his eyes... After a somewhat awkward pause... lol! The following conversation ensued:

Me: "So........ How is it?"
LSC: *Stuffs his mouth and says:* "It's so nummy... You're a nice cooker Mommy!!"
Me: "Really?!? Are you sure?"
LSC: "Yup! I'm not allowed to lie remember Mommy?"

Lol!! He cracks me up sometimes, but when a 3 year old pays you such a high compliment it must be taken into consideration. And to my surprise this lasagna really was full of flavor even with such few ingredients, and it held up so beautifully... This is truly the best and easiest lasagna I've ever made and the best part is it came together in under an hour, including bake time! Serve this alongside a salad and some delicious garlic bread, and this dinner would impress even the pickiest eater, or at least it did in my house as my son even asked for seconds... You read that right, SECONDS! Yum....

16 oz. Ravioli, any filling you like I had Cheese on hand
1 lbs. Italian Turkey Sausage (or 3 links *optional, leave out to make this vegetarian*)
3 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
3 Roasted Red Peppers
1 15 oz. Can Italian Diced Tomatoes
3 cloves of Garlic
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large pot boil 6 cups of water, and cook the ravioli about 7 minutes, drain, rinse with cold water and set aside. In a skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until hot. Remove the sausage from the casing then add to the pan, and cook until browned. Meanwhile in a blender puree the peppers, tomatoes, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper and remaining oil and puree until desired consistency (I like some small chunks). Pour the sauce into the pan with the meat and heat through, once hot add about 1/4 cup of cheese to the sauce and let melt. In a greased 8x8 pan place a small amount of sauce in the bottom, then add a layer of the ravioli, top with more sauce, and a layer of cheese. Repeat layers using all of the ravioli and sauce, ending with cheese on top. Place in a 350F degrees pre-heated oven, bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted. Once done, let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.

*Don't leave!!! I have something special for you!!!* 

Along with creating this recipe, and as part of the Dinner@6 contest sponsored by Blue Cash PreferredSM, American Express has also provided me with $100 gift card to give to one of YOU!!! How awesome is that y'all? Thank you American Express and Foodbuzz for sponsoring this giveaway for my fantastic fans! But as with EVERY good giveaway there a few rules...

1. This Giveaway will run until September 29th, 2011 at 11:59 PM ET. I will announce the winner Friday September 30th, 2011. The winner will be chosen via a Random Number Generator, and the winner will only have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be chosen. I will contact you VIA email to receive your mailing info which will be passed on to Foodbuzz who will be sending out the gift-card.

2. Comments must be made on THIS BLOG POST. Comments on Facebook or Twitter will not be counted as entries. 

3. Leave a comment letting me know what your favorite 6 ingredient dinner is, and your name and email address! Only ONE comment per person will be counted.

4. Share this post along with the link on your Twitter/Facebook Accounts saying "I have entered to win a $100 American Express Gift-card on The Farmers Wife, and you can enter too!"

As always Good Luck! I look forward to reading what you like to make with 6 ingredients or less!

Happy Cooking!

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sargento Cheese Taster - and Honey Apple Sandwich's

I love cheese... I have to be honest here, I really do. Not all cheese's, but there are certain kinds that I just adore. Cheddar, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Swiss, Pepper Jack, just to name a few! But I've never considered myself much of a cheese snob until I met my Hubby.

I will never ever forget the first Christmas I spent with my In Law family, not only was it my first time meeting them, so there was that awkward factor, but it was my first time spending Christmas away from my family. I remember that Christmas Eve so well... We spent the day just relaxing with his family, getting to know each other, and then going to the church's Christmas Eve service that night. Which was incredibly nerve wracking for me, meeting the congregation, and extended family... Let's just say before the service I was so nervous I felt sick. Everything went fine, at least for the most part. But afterward when we finally headed back to my In Laws I was finally famished! I hadn't eaten in hours because of my stomach and was ready for some serious grub. But to my surprise I find out his family has no real intentions of eating dinner, because they all ate such a big lunch. So when they pulled out different cheeses and crackers for everyone to munch on, I was floored. lol! This was the first time I experienced the art of eating cheese and crackers as a real "meal" and the tastes to look for in different cheese's.

I have since grown to love this tradition and it's something my Hubby and I do on occasion. In fact almost every year for Christmas I will fill his stocking with different summer sausages, mustard's, and crackers for us to munch on for dinner after the heavy holiday meals. So when FoodBuzz contacted me asking if I'd like to sample Sargento's Natural Blend of cheeses I jumped at the opportunity! I mean we love cheese, and crackers, and just about any pairing that goes with them, so why not? We had so much fun with this y'all!! So here's the details and a special recipe I came up with! ;-)

Plate of Cheese's and pairings. The Sargento is the "marbled" looking one!

As some of you know I'm a part of the FoodBuzz Tastemaker Program, which is totally awesome! As a part of this program I received a $25 American Express Gift card to try my choice of Sargento's Natural Cheese, a processed cheese of my choice and the pairings of my choice (crackers, fruit, etc.). I have to admit there wasn't a huge selection at our store of Sargento's cheese, but after a while of hemming and hawing I decided to try one of their blends, so we got the Cheddar Mozzarella Blend... Oh my word y'all! I've never had a blended cheese quite like this before it was delicious!! I got a pairing of Summer Sausage, Apples and my favorite Crackers to go along with this tasting, (and of course the processed cheese). There was a pretty large difference between the Sargento and the Processed Cheese. The taste of Sargento, especially when paired up was exceptional. The processed was well... Processed. Not great but not completely awful either. They have a very different texture and taste from each other, and I have to say the Sargento was strong on both the Cheddar and Mozzarella in this blend, a great mixture of salty and almost fruity tastes. I would highly recommend giving the Sargento Cheese's a try, especially the blends... They really are delicious, however they do melt REALLY easy... So don't eat them in a room that is over 80 degrees, we found out (we live in AZ folks, it gets hot here!) or it starts to get gooey really fast. However this is GREAT for the recipe I am about to share with y'all!

Honey Apple Sandwich's

Today my Little Sous Chef and I are stuck home in some nasty weather, so we decided to have some fun with lunch. We took a few simple things we had on hand, rolls, ham, cheese, honey mustard sauce and apples and made ourselves some sandwiches. I was a bit skeptical of his idea, but it did smell awfully good... Who knew he would hit it out of the park with this?!? I have to say I just loved this, and the cheese brings everything together because it's subtle enough to let the other flavors shine, but you can still pick it out of the line up!

8 Potato Rolls, sliced in half lengthwise
4 Slices Sargento Cheddar Mozzarella Natural Blend Cheese
8 Slices of Honey Ham
1 Apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
Honey Mustard Sauce:
2 Tablespoons Mayo
1 1/2 Tablespoons Yellow Mustard
2 Tablespoons Honey

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Using a serrated knife, slowly slice through the rolls lengthwise (place the rolls on a flat surface, and holding the top in place slice through the entire "tray" of rolls so they are like one long flat surface). In a small bowl combine the mayo, mustard and honey with whisk until smooth. Then spread about 1 teaspoon of sauce over the top and bottom halves of the rolls. Place 2 slices of apple on the bottom half of each roll, then top with the ham and cheese. Place the top half back on, and wrap the entire thing in foil. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and everything is warmed through. Serve warm.

I have to say not only did I love the cheese by itself, but in this little sandwich is was amazing! These were so easy, and would be exceptional for parties! 5 stars.

Happy Cooking!

*This post was sponsored by FoodBuzz's Tastemaker Program along with Sargento Cheese's.*
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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Buttermilk Chicken and a Tribute to my Grandma

Buttermilk Chicken, served on my Grandmother's China

Y'all know how I love to make/recreate some of the classic recipes I grew up with from my Grandmother. Some of them just out of nostalgia, and some because I want to try to lighten them up. But this is one recipe I just can't change. Buttermilk Chicken... My Grandma knew what she was doing with this baby. If you're looking for a quick, lowfat dinner, then I suggest you look at another recipe right now, because this isn't it. But this recipe is so very near and dear to my heart and brings back all sorts of memories for me. 

As a kid this was the coveted dinner, the one and only dinner you looked forward to as soon as you knew it was going to be made. Everyone in our family felt that way about this meal, everyone who's ever had it loves it. I remember almost every single time we had company coming over (unless it was last minute) my Mom and Dad would make this up along with mashed potatoes and of course some sort of vegetable and dessert. But this was the star of the meal, the recipe everyone asked for, ate seconds of, and there was almost never leftovers (much to my disappointment... lol!). We had this for holidays, birthdays, you name it and this was usually the meal that was asked for. 

As an adult I don't make this very often. It is kind of heavy, takes more time and energy and planning than I really have to put into a meal, and bakes for so long that some times of the year I honestly can't justify having the oven on for 1 hour. But there is one thing that never fails. Every single year my Hubby and I have been married, I make this for Christmas Eve. And we devour it, my Little Sous Chef could get lost in that gravy (and the first year he had it I'm pretty sure he did... haha!) and for that one night we indulge. 

The picture you see here is particularly special to me, as it is served on my Grandmother's China. As you have probably guessed by now I have always been incredibly close to my Grandparents, in many ways I would say they have been unsung hero's in my life. As a child they were so much fun and spoiled me like crazy (I admit I had them wrapped around my fingers...), and even took me on trips with them to see my Great-Grandmother, though heaven knows why they put up with me on those road trips and my annoying tape recorder where I made them do "talk shows" with me... haha! And as a teen they were an escape from my crazy life. They let me sleep in without bothering me, and there was always fresh coffee waiting when I got up. And no matter what age I've always been able to sit down and have a serious discussion with them. My Grandparents are the couple who will have been married for 57 years this November, and are such a wonderful example to us. I see a lot of my Geeky Farmer and myself when I watch my Grandparents together. They still tease each other, exchange hidden messages with their eyes, and are so in love it makes you smile. So when I got married and my Grandma offered me this china which was theirs, I'm pretty sure I cried. It means so much to me to have this, and I only bring it out when we have Buttermilk Chicken on Christmas Eve. So Grandma if you're reading this (and yes folks she really does read my blog!) know that you are so loved, and thank you for the recipes that have warmed my soul and my stomach all my life, and for the shining example you and Grandpa are! I love you!

1 Stick of Margarine
1 Quart Buttermilk
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup (I use lowfat)
4-6 Chicken Breasts (I use boneless, skinless)
1 Cup Flour
1 Tablespoon Paprika
1 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper

Mix together breading ingredients, and set aside. Melt butter and pour into a foil lined (for easier clean-up) shallow baking dish. A 13x9 pan works great. Dip chicken in buttermilk; then roll in breading mixture. Place in the baking pan. Bake on bottom rack in a 425F degrees oven for 20 minutes, then turn chicken. Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until chicken is done and slightly browned. Mix the Cream of Chicken Soup with 1 can of Buttermilk; pour over chicken. Return to oven and heat until gravy is hot, about 5 minutes. Serve with your favorite recipe for mashed potatoes and use the gravy on those as well as the chicken.

This meal is fantastic! We just love it, it's kid friendly and will wow your dinner guests! It does take some planning ahead, but it is well worth the splurge! 5 stars

Happy Cooking!

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fall Festival Granola

Fall Festival Granola, Farmers Wife Original

I am hitting a major writer's block tonight as I write this, not sure if it's the weather, lack of sleep, stress or a little person in the background going "Mommy, are we doing school tomorrow? What am I learning? Can I color instead of learning school?" Lol! Ah the life of a homeschool Mom is kicking in, but I have to be honest, I'm loving it! My little man just started his preschool year and I am so thrilled to be teaching him at home. Today we went and got ourselves new library cards and checked out all sorts of books as a sort of "Field Trip" and are looking forward to going for story time every Tuesday this fall!

Speaking of which... It has come to my attention that fall has arrived! Or well... it hasn't exactly arrived HERE in AZ (unless you consider the start of those fabulous fall flavored drinks at Starbucks! hehe!), but from what I hear it has arrived to other parts of the nation. haha! Though regardless of when the weather cools down, by September I always start to crave the fall flavors and food, and sing Christmas Carols (as seen in my last post for Cinnamon Rolls). So a few weeks ago when I ran out of my normal recipe for Granola, I decided it was time think up a brand new recipe, with a more fall inspired theme. And just like right now as I write this, I was hit with a writer's road block. I just couldn't figure out what in the world to do with this idea. Until one night, last week while laying in bed around 2 in the morning WISHING I could fall asleep I started thinking up recipe ideas. I know... I'm seriously insane but it did help me fall asleep! Anyway, back to the story, after a little bit of thinking I sat up straight in bed (luckily not waking my hubby as he was still awake too watching a scary movie) and declared I had it figured out! haha! I went to the store the next morning and promptly bought exactly what I needed for this, and I am so glad I did. This granola is amazing, it smelled fabulous while cooking, and even my Hubby ate it, and he is not a granola fan! I have a few more ideas for fall inspired granola recipes, but this is the first one! Happy Fall! ;-)

10 Cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup Golden Flax Seed
1/3 Cup Wheat Germ
1 Package Dried Apples, diced into small pieces
1 Package Dried Cherries, diced into small pieces
3/4 Cup Smooth Peanut Butter
1 1/4 Cup Honey
3 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
Pinch of Allspice
3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 Cups Slivered Almonds, Pecans, Pumpkin Seeds, or Peanuts

Grease a large crock pot (6-8 quarts) with cooking spray. Then combine the oats, flax seed, wheat germ, fruit and nuts (if using) in the pot. In a medium sized bowl place the peanut butter and heat for about 45 seconds in the microwave to soften it up. Add the honey and spices and whisk to combine. Pour over the oat mixture and add the oil. Mix very well. Place the lid on, but vented with a spoon and cook on high for 2 hours, stirring EVERY 15 minutes (This is VERY important to do, if you don't parts of the granola will get very burnt while the rest will remain uncooked!). Once done, turn off your crock pot and you can either cool the granola in the pot, this will keep it slightly more moist and less crunchy, or you can spread the granola onto cookie sheets and let cool for about 1 hour, this will produce a crunchier granola. Store in an airtight container or ziploc bags. This will keep for up to 2-3 weeks (if it lasts that long!)

I LOVE this stuff!!! It tastes like fall to me, is so delicious by itself, in a bowl with cold milk, or even with warm milk making it almost more of a oatmeal... Yum! Next time I'm trying Pumpkin Puree! 4.5 stars.

Happy Crock-Potting!

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Best Ever Cinnamon Rolls

Best Ever Cinnamon Rolls, Adapted from my Grandma's Cinnamon Twists.

Happy Labor Day friends! I hope that you all are having a wonderful holiday weekend, and for those of you with a 3 day weekend I hope you're making the most of it and having fun!  We only get our standard farm weekend... Sunday. Haha! Oh well, we had a wonderful time yesterday relaxing and chowing down on some fabulous food. And you know me, no weekend would be complete without a delicious morsel of yummy baked goodness to go with my morning up of coffee (I say morning because there is also the afternoon cup, and early evening cup... hehe!) This week I decided (at the VERY last minute) to whip up a batch of cinnamon rolls, but not just any rolls, I wanted to take a recipe that was my Grandma's for Cinnamon Twists and change it up a little and make rolls instead. Sometimes I love my brain.

I know the title says Best Ever in it, I hate doing that, honestly I do. But when my little Sous Chef took a bite and immediately made yummy noises and then promptly announced "These are the BEST EVER Cinnamon Rolls Mommy!! You have to post about them, go take a picture!" I knew that I really had to include it in the title. lol! Pleasing a 3 year old's palate is the hardest thing to do if you ask me, so when you hit a home run with it the feeling of success is overwhelming. We were so pleased with how these came out to be completely honest with you, cinnamon rolls are not something I make very often. Probably about once a year, and as soon as I start I remember instantly why I hadn't made them in a year, because let's face it homemade cinnamon rolls may be good, but they are a royal pain in the rear. But these? Let me tell you, it only took me 30 minutes to get the dough made, rolled out, coated in cinnamon-sugary goodness, cut and in the oven to rise. I'm not kidding. Then after a fairly short rising time they baked... SO freaking easy! I know I have found my new go to Cinnamon Roll recipe, this is the one that will become a new family Holiday tradition. Christmas Morning will be better because of these rolls... haha! *Channeling Christmas time....*

"Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? 
In the lane, snow is glistening. 
A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight... 
Walking in a winter wonderland!"

Yes, yes I did just sing a little Christmas song. Yes I also danced around in my chair whilst singing it. You know you wanna join in song and go bake yourself some of these. I promise I won't tell... ;-) Merry Cinnamon Roll Day! (hehe! and Happy Labor Day too!)

1 cup non-fat sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (or one package)
1/4 cup warm water
1 egg
2 tablespoons soft shortening
3 cups flour

2 tablespoons soft butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk

Heat sour cream to lukewarm in a large pan.  Remove from heat and stir in sugar, spices, baking soda and salt. In a separate container dissolve the yeast into the warm water to activate the yeast. Once activated add that to the sour cream mixture. Add egg, shortening, and flour to the mixture. Mix well, use hands if necessary. Turn dough on floured board or counter and knead until smooth. Roll the dough into an oblong 24 x 12". Spread the butter over the whole thing, then sprinkle evenly with the sugar mixture. Starting at one end, tightly roll up pinching the seam together. Cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls into either 2 cake pans, or one 13x9 pan. Cover and let rise until doubled in size about 1/2 hour (heat oven to 200 Degrees for about a minute and then shut off, this will be warm enough to raise the dough). Once risen, remove from the oven and preheat to 350F degrees, and bake for 15 minutes or until slightly golden and the center is firm. In a bowl combine the glaze ingredients and glaze the rolls while still warm. Serve warm.

I will never make another cinnamon roll as long as I live. I've found my recipe, we love it and I hope you will too! They are flakey, but not so much that they fall apart. Moist (thanks to the sour cream) and so sticky and gooey with cinnamon goodness... And the absolutely best part?!? They are ONLY 207 calories a piece... All put together and this recipe get 5 stars.

Happy Baking!

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Pizza Muffins

Pizza Muffins, Farmers Wife Original Recipe

If there is one thing I have learned about my son is that asking him the question of "What sounds good for dinner?" can result in some pretty interesting conversations to say the least. The things he comes up with sometimes leave me floored and others hungry, and on the rare occasion slightly nauseous... Haha!! My little Sous Chef is quite the culinary experimenter. He's not afraid to challenge me, and make me try it first.

So the other day when I asked him this fateful question his response was "Um... I want Pizza Muffins!" I was flabbergasted for about at a minute before asking him to describe what his vision of pizza muffins were. You see my little man loves to eat finger foods, anything that he can pick up and eat easily is a winner is his book (and mine too!) so I wasn't exactly surprised at his request so much as slightly repulsed at first. haha! But after talking about it, and thinking about it I figured out that it would litterally be a little pizza made into a muffin. So the taste would still be that of pizza. (Which was NOT what I first thought he meant.) Last night my little Sous Chef and I whipped up a batch of these to go with our family movie night, and I have to say he was right. These are pretty AWESOME! They were incredibly easy to make, and totally delicious. A great surprise for any kid to find in their lunchbox (they're good both cold and hot!) and will make them the envy of the cafeteria! ;-)

Ingredients: this recipe made 16 pizza muffins
Pizza Dough: adapted from Bread Machine Magic
(I made homemade but you can easily use a store bought dough)
This is for a bread machine (but can be made in a stand mixer)
1 Cup Water
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Sugar
3 Cups Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
1/2 Teaspoons Oregano
2 Teaspoons Active Dry Yeast

Pizza Sauce
Pepperoni, Sausage or preferred Pizza Meat
Shredded Cheese (I used Cheddar but Mozzarella would be good)
Diced Bell Peppers
Diced Onion
Diced Mushrooms
Sliced Black Olives
Diced Tomato
Diced Pineapple

To make the dough place all ingredients in the order listed into your bread machine, select the dough cycle and press start. Once the dough is done, turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Preheat your oven to 350F degrees, and grease your muffins tins. Take about 2 tablespoons worth of dough (a small ball) and press it into each muffin well, so that you create a little "bowl" inside the tin, repeat with remaining dough. Place about 1/2 teaspoon pizza sauce in the center of each well, then add your desired toppings, ending with cheese on top. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is slightly golden and the cheese is melted. Serve warm with more sauce if desired.

My honest review of these is that they surprised me. We loved these, which was unexpected. They were devoured by my little sous chef, and smelled amazing while baking and were oddly enough elegant for pizza. haha! I'd give these 4.5 stars.

Happy Cooking!

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