Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chicken and Black-eyed Peas

I ventured out last night and decided to make a country dinner with fried chicken, black-eyed peas, and salad. Yum! Well, as yummy as you can expect from someone who just can't grasp the art of frying chicken. I had given up trying to fry chicken years ago but after SC mentioned something about me making some fried chicken I decided to try again. While visiting Hickery Hollow Farm blog I ran across her recipe for fried chicken and decided to put it on my menu.

As I found out I still haven't mastered the art of frying chicken. The 'breading' just doesn't ever want to stay on for me while it's frying. Maybe I'm just missing something. But I'm not going to give up trying. The chicken was fairly good and some of the pieces came out looking like real fried chicken! Now, to me the best part of the meal was the black-eye peas.

These dried black-eyed peas were from my own garden last year and I've been itching to cook them. So glad I finally tried it! I will definately be growing more this year. Never knew I even liked them!

Island Black-eyed Peas

Dried black-eyed peas
2-3 slices bacon chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp bacon drippings
few rings of pickled jalapeno peppers, chopped, optional
pepper and salt to taste

The amount of beans to use depends on how many you want. I think I used close to a 16oz pkg amount which was really more than I needed.

Soak the beans overnight in plenty of water. Drain and rinse the beans. Place beans in a bean pot or slow cooker. Cover with water 1-2 inches above beans. Add bacon, onion, bacon drippings, jalapeno peppers, salt and pepper and stir. Cook on high all day in the bean pot or 8 hours in the slow cooker. Once done you may want to drain off some of the water before serving. Serve with a slotted spoon and enjoy!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

It's a Keeper!

So, last night I decided to try a recipe for White Bean Chowder I found on A Communal Table blog. I was really worried about how the guys would like it so I changed the recipe to hopefully appeal to them more (which means I added tons more BACON!). I also changed a few other things that depended on what I had on hand at the time.
Well, guess what?! Scott said "It's a keeper"! He loved it and so did I. Boys thought it was okay and they did eat it all, so that's something.
Here is my modified recipe for White Bean Chowder.

White Bean Chowder

1 lb bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup finely diced sweet onion
1/2 cup each of finely diced celery, carrot, and bell pepper (I didn't use pepper because I didn't have any on hand)
1/2 cup Chardonnay (this is the only alcohol I had on hand. Original recipe called for dry sherry but I think anything would work even beer.)
1 Tbsp flour (next time I will use more, it didn't thicken enough for me)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
5 cups chicken broth (I used boullion)
2-3 cups great northern beans, cooked (I used only dry beans now, so I soaked my beans over night and then cooked them all day in my bean cooker first. Original recipe calls for 2 cans of white cannelli beans.)
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

In large pot or dutch oven, cook the bacon on medium high and until brown and crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Pour out all but about 1 tsp. bacon fat. Add vegetables and saute until softened, about 3-5 minutes. I added salt and pepper with the veggies.
Increase heat to high and add the alcohol, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Cook until almost all the liquid is evaporated, about 4 min.
Reduce the heat to medium and sprinkle the flour and thyme over the veggies. Stir and cook for 1-2 min.
Add the chicken broth, stirring and scraping the bottom of pan. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 4 minutes. Add the beans, bacon, and milk. I added a little garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Warm through and adjust seasonings if need be.
You can garnish with minced veggies if desired.
Serves 4-5. Enjoy!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Baking and Creating

Okay, so I've been doing some baking and cooking today. Love the smell of fresh baked bread and rolls! While I was looking through my Pinterest account I came across a recipe for Kahlua Balls that I pinned awhile back and thought it sounded yummy. I knew I didn't have any Kahlua but I do have Irish Creme Liquor! So, I adapted the recipe to use what I had.

Irish Creme Liquor Balls

2 sleeves of graham crackers
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
6 oz (half a package) of white chocolate chips {could use more if you want}
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup Irish Creme Liquor
3 Tbsp brewed coffee
1/4-1/2 cup granulated sugar for rolling balls in

In a food processor, crush the crackers into crumbs. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa and process until cornmeal texture. Add chips and process till mixed in. Fold in the vanilla, liquor and coffee until you form a soft dough. Roll into 1" balls, roll in the granulated sugar, and refrigerate in an airtight container for 1-3days to let the flavors mingle. Makes about 20 balls. Enjoy!

Greenhouse growing

It's time to start veggie seeds in our area so they will be ready to plant in April. With my greenhouse I'm able to get a good jump on the season. When we first built the greenhouse I researched so many ideas of how to heat it on a budget in order to start seedlings. I found a solution that work so very well last year! Rather than purchase expensive heat pads I found that electric blankets work perfectly! Yes, used twin size electric blankets!

Two twin size blankets fit the length of one of my benches and provide the perfect amount of heat to the soil for seed starting. Now, the only thing that you have to remember on cold nights (and some cloudy days) is that most electric blankets now have an automatic cutoff and don't stay on indefinately. I usually have to go out right before going to bed and switch the blanket off and back on in order for it to stay on all night. Of course, I haven't gotten into the habit of that this season yet!

Now, once I have seedlings coming up, if it's going to be a very cold night, i.e. frost weather, I will also bring the other half of each blanket up and cover the plants for the night. The id markers I have sticking in my flats keeps the blankets from damaging the plants but the little plants stay nice and warm through the night.

So, there's my budget secret to starting plants in an unheated greenhouse! Oh, and I'm sure you wonder how I water the flats? On mornings I need to water I move all the flats to the other bench (with out the blankets) and water. They drain during the day, the bottoms dry and then go back on their blankets that night. Yes, it's a lot of work but definately worth it! Happy growing!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New Direction

With the new year barely behind us, I've been thinking about a new direction for my blog. Homesteading is on my mind more and more and I'm daily looking for ways to live a simplier life. So, I will share my journey along the way.

Providing my family with more homemade food has been one path I've been exploring. I bake bread and rolls from scratch on a weekly basis which the guys really enjoy. As I've tried to steer a little further away from processed and packaged foods, I began looking at what we eat for breakfast. I really wanted to get away from toaster pastries, cereal, other 'sweet' breakfast treats. Teenage boys can be picky but I really wanted to find something filling, not-so-sweet, and quick for weekday breakfasts.

One thing I found that has proven to be a hit is breakfast burritos. They are filling and quick for them to heat up. I make a batch up on the weekend, stick them in the freezer, and they can pop one in the microwave in the morning. Simple!

Breakfast Burritos

8-10 flour tortillas (burrito size)
1 lb ground sausage
1-2 cups frozen southern hash browns or dice your own potatoes
4-6 eggs, optional
Crumble and fry up the sausage, drain. Cook the hash browns according to the package, or if using fresh potatoes fry till done. Salt and pepper the potatoes. Scramble and cook the eggs if using. Only two of my boys will eat eggs so I only put eggs in half the burritos I make.
Working with only 3 tortillas at a time, wrap in a paper towel and microwave on high about 20 seconds. Put some sausage, potatoes, and eggs in the tortilla and roll up burrito style. The amount of filling all depends on how stuffed you want them and how many you are going to make. I then wrap each burrito in wax paper and stack them in a plastic container and put in freezer. In the morning you can unwrap and microwave on high about 1-1/2 minutes. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Freedom Protected

Freedom, Liberty, Honor;
motives of the servants.

For all, love of Country,
the fallen and the present.

To them we owe so much,
more than we even know.

May we never lose sight,
never forget the sacrifices
offered by these heroes:

Our Founding Fathers
Patriotic citizens
Uniformed Soldiers
and all those who have defended the freedom
granted us by our Maker and Creator.

God Bless America and God Bless you all

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Island Sunset

Licking the sky
with brilliant colors
of pink, red, yellow, and blue.
As an inferno
spitting toward the sky,
she lowers her head
and bids goodnight.