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Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Week & 4 Weeks Before Christmas - Pecan Pie & Holiday Check List

It's Thanksgiving Week!  Turkey, green bean casserole, pecan pie, family, Black Friday, shopping.  Those would all be words I'd use to describe this week.  It's a busy week, but a fun one too!  Each Monday during the 2015 Holiday Season I'm sharing a holiday recipe and my weekly check list.

I thought this week it'd be appropriate for me to share my family's  Pecan Pie recipe.  How much more Thanksgiving can you get than Pecan Pie?  Well, maybe turkey, but Pecan Pie is definitely the top dessert.  In fact, I took an unscientific poll on my Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids Facebook Page and my readers agreed.  Thanksgiving is the universal excuse to indulge in this rich, calorie-filled pie.  Now I've both made and tried different variation of the Pecan Pie - chocolate, whiskey, etc., but nothing beats the original with a lard crust!

The Traditional Thanksgiving Pecan Pie Recipe

Pecan Pie

9" Crust:
1/3 cup Lard
1 cup Flour
1/4 tsp Salt
2-3 T Cold Water

1 cup Corn Syrup
3 Eggs
1 cup Sugar
2 Tbsp Butter, melted
1 tsp Vanilla
1/8 tsp Salt
1 cup Pecans, chopped

Start by making your crust.  Cut the lard with the flour and salt until you get pea-sized dough.  Add 1 Tbsp of cold water at a time until the dough sticks together and you can form a ball with it.  Put the ball of pie dough in plastic wrap and flatten it.  Let it cool down in the refrigerator.

After it has cooled, roll the dough out large enough to fit your pie plate.  I love using my Tupperware Pie Mat to roll my dough on because it gives me an outline of a 9" pie crust on it.  Be sure to sprinkle both the mat and your rolling pin with flour, as well as the top of the dough to prevent sticking.  If your crust is too dry, keep a cup of cold water next to you as your roll out the dough so you can sprinkle water in trouble spots that are starting to crack.

Pie Making Supplies + Pecan Pie Recipe
Some of my staple pie making supplies
Pie Ring Shields, Lard, Wooden Rolling Pin, Tupperware Pie Mat
After you get the crust rolled out and laid into your pie plate, make a simple edge design with the top of your crust.  Usually I do the "dent" method using my thumb and bent index finger of my left hand, and dent the dough between the bent index finger of my right hand.  But you can also use a cute little cookie cutter like I did in the above picture to decorate the top of the crust.  I used a little leaf cutter; I thought it was a festive touch!

Next it is time to make the filling.  Mix all the ingredients together besides the pecans.  Once it is all incorporated, stir in the pecans and pour into your unbaked pie crust.

Bake your pie at 400 degrees Farenheit for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees for an additional 30-35 minutes.  Use a pie ring shield on top of your pie so the top of your crust doesn't burn, or put aluminum foil around the edge of the pie.  The pie is done when the filling looks solid.  Give your pie a little shake in the oven and if the center of the filling moves around a lot in needs some more time.

I hope you enjoy my Pecan Pie recipe as much as my family does!  Now this week isn't all about pie, but really, would that be that bad.  Besides making and prepping food for Thanksgiving this week, I'm also needing to finish making my shopping list for Black Friday and finalize our Christmas travel plans.  Be sure too see my complete check list for Thanksgiving Week and 4 Weeks Before Christmas.

Holiday Check List for Thanksgiving Week and 4 Weeks Before Christmas

And if you missed last week's Check List and Horchata Pumpkin Waffles Recipe, you better catch up on those items too.

Horchata Pumpkin Waffles Recipe and Weekly Holiday Check List

What is your favorite dessert for Thanksgiving?  Are you a pecan pie fan too?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Farm Friday - Harvest Recap + New Additions

As the first fall snow fell today, I was thankful that we finished our corn and soybean harvest last Monday and 95% of our field work at the beginning of the week before we got rain for three days and snow today.  What we didn't get done, will and can wait til Spring and I think we are all okay with that.

Combining Soybeans - #Harvest15 Recap
Combining our soybeans
This fall's harvest went pretty well.  We had average to above average yields for both corn and soybeans, and we were able to work almost daily to get the job done since it was so dry this fall.

Flat Aggie learns about Corn Harvest in Iowa
A fun thing that the kids and I did this fall was host Flat Aggie during harvest.  Flat Aggie is similar to the Flat Stanley project (which I personally loved doing Flat Stanley as a first grader 25 years ago...) based on the book Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown.  Students send a flat cutout to friends and family to then go on adventures and return after a certain period of time with a story of their travels.  Flat Aggie travels to farms and ranches and this year is being shared with classrooms in Illinois, Kansas, California and Arkansas.

Bagging Corn in #Harvest15
A new addition to this year's harvest for us was that we started bagging corn.  The current market price for corn and soybeans is low, so we wanted to store as much of our grain as possible in order to get a better price for it at a later date.  All of our soybeans and most of our corn is being stored in grain bins that we both own and rent.  But as we ran out of bin space we started bagging the corn.  Think of it as "on farm storage."  These 250' long bags are made of a thick plastic.  From the catch cart, we filled the grain bagger, which inches along as the bag gets filled.  We will have to unload these bags before spring, so we can plant in those areas.  But at least for this winter, the bags have given us some much needed storage space.

Grain Bags in #Harvest15
Our "on farm storage" - grain bags
And speaking of new additions, we are excited to announce that our family will be growing in May!  We are expecting Baby #4 on May 20th and are very happy and full of love.  The kids are excited and have given the baby the nickname of "Tinker".  Our son LP came up with the name and we asked him where he got the name from and he responded nonchalantly, "My brain."  Oh, of course.  But anyways, the name has stuck, and we are all very excited to welcome Baby Tinker this spring.

4th pregnancy announcement - LIFE board game

Do you have any questions about Fall Harvest or our new "Spring Arrival"?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Monday, November 16, 2015

1 Week Before Thanksgiving - Horchata Pumpkin Waffles & Holiday Check List

* This post has been compensated through the AE Dairy Blog Ambassador program.  All views and opinions shared are my own. *

Can you believe that it is the week before Thanksgiving already???  Even if you can't, it is time to get ready for the holiday season!  If you've been following my blog for awhile you probably know that I am a list person.  Lists help me stay organized and give me a sense of accomplishment when I can cross something off of it!  And the holiday season is the perfect time to utilize lists so you don't feel overwhelmed or stressed out.  Throughout the 2015 holiday season I thought I'd share my holiday check lists weekly, as well as a holiday recipe.

AE Dairy's Seasonal Milks #ad #AEdairy
AE Dairy's Seasonal Milks,
including their new Horchata milk (4th from left)
This week's recipe is my Horchata Pumpkin Waffles.  I was inspired to create this recipe after trying AE Dairy's new Horchata seasonal milk last month.  Horchata is a traditional Hispanic drink.  AE Dairy's version is their 2% milk flavored with vanilla and cinnamon.  When I took my first sip of the Horchata milk I thought about how it would be a great milk to add to holiday cookies and breakfast pastries and sweets.  I decided to first try it in one of my family's favorite breakfast meals, waffles.  And besides just replacing the milk in my traditional waffle recipe, I decided to add pumpkin, as well as vanilla and cinnamon to bring out the Horchata flavor more.

Horchata Pumpkin Waffle recipe featuring AE Dairy's new Horchata seasonal milk #AEdairy #ad

Horchata Pumpkin Waffles

2 cups Flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
6 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Pumpkin, pureed
2 Tbsp Vanilla
1 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon

Place ingredients in a large mixing bowl and combine until well blended and smooth with a whisk.  Preheat your waffle maker on desired setting (I always go for the medium setting on ours).  Pour 1/2 cup of batter onto the center of the lower grid of your waffle maker.  Close cover and carefully remove after indicator light says it is done, around 1 1/2 minutes.  Repeat with remaining batter.  

Make eight 6 1/2 inch round waffles.

Horchata Pumpkin Waffle recipe featuring AE Dairy's new Horchata seasonal milk #AEdairy #ad

These waffles were a huge hit for our family and made it feel like the holidays!  The combination of the pumpkin and Horchata was the perfect savory and sweet waffle bite.  So if you have a waffle maker laying around your house, get it out and use it!  I'm glad I held onto ours that we got as a wedding gift almost 8 years ago because the kids love waffles and I love making waffles for them.

So now that you are warmed up for the holiday season with a new breakfast recipe, it's time to start checking things off your Thanksgiving and Christmas checklists!  We have one week before Thanksgiving and five weeks before Christmas!  This week I'm getting my Thanksgiving menu groceries (which includes my Overnight Salad and Shrimp Dip!), working on Christmas Wish lists, and organizing our family's holiday travels.  Be sure to check out the complete Holiday Check List!

Holiday Check List - 1 Week Before Thanksgiving, 5 Weeks Before Christmas

What do you have planned for your Thanksgiving menu?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - My Catch Cart Buddies Through the Years

Fall is always a busy time of year.  We've been thankful to have been able to harvest almost daily since we started on September 22nd.  If things keep up, we should have everything out of the field sometime next week!  I've been wanting to blog but since things have been so busy I just didn't know where to start!  So I thought sharing photos of my catch cart buddies through the years would be a fun way to get back into the blogging groove. :)

Can you tell they are all siblings?  Each first fall for our kids I have taken a photo of them on my tractor's steering wheel while waiting for the combine.  (Everyone needs to get out and stretch a bit during the day, and I know the kids enjoy getting out of their car seats to get a different view.)  Too bad MP was a little too young to sit up on her own (she was 4 months old in her photo), but nonetheless, it is still fun to see each of them during their first fall as my tractor buddies. :)  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Comments for a Cause - No Kid Hungry campaign

Comments for a Cause - No Kid Hungry campaign
It is November 1st which means it is time to introduce a new Comments for a Cause program!  But before I talk about the new cause, let's wrap up last month's Project Night Night donation.  Throughout the month of October I had 37 comments, equaling a $18.50 donation to help children find comfort at night, no matter where they are.  Thank you for all of the comments!

In November I'm continuing my efforts to help children in need by donating $0.50 for every comment made on my blog to the No Kid Hungry campaign.

Comments for a Cause - No Kid Hungry campaign

If you follow my blog, my passion for our youth and combating hunger is no surprise to you.  This is why I'm excited to contribute to the No Kid Hungry campaign this month.  With core partners like the Food Network and Wal-Mart, and national partners like Tyson (who is the company we sell our hogs too), this campaign has a lot of energy and attention.  According to their website, "The No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals.  The campaign also engages the public to make ending child hunger a national priority."

The statistics on childhood hunger in the United States is amazing and sad.  Even though it might not be visible to the casual eye, one in five children in America live in households that struggle to put food on the table.  When kids are hungry, they have a higher chance of having short and long term illnesses, as well as they can have both behavioral and emotional problems.

As a Mom, I hate to see any kid not have access to basic needs, such as food.  My heart hurts for them and I want to help them.  I think it is the natural, nurturing instinct of all mothers.  As a farmer, I work hard to care for our livestock and land.  I take pride in providing for my family and others.  No Kid Hungry does a great job of bringing my voices, the voices of government officials, business leaders, and other caring citizens together to work on solutions.  If we all work together, and bring more awareness, we can help hungry children nationwide.

So help me share the No Kid Hungry message by commenting on any of my blog posts all month long, bringing awareness of the campaign to your family and friends, and by sharing your own stories of solutions.  Share about some successful combating hunger programs in your community.  What ideas do you have to help alleviate childhood hunger in the United States?  Be sure to Comment for a Cause!

Country Fair Blog Party: November 2015

It is November 1st!  Our family has spent the day harvesting, spending time with family, eating too much candy and treats from trick-or-treating, and hopefully going through the last 24 hours of pink-eye (I guess this is what happens when you start having kids in school...).  To tell you the truth, I'm ready to go to bed, but I have some blogging that needs to get done!  Before I share the link-up for the new Country Fair Blog Party, I'm going to share my three Blue Ribbon winners from October's Country Fair Blog Party:

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner - Chasing Saturdays's Payday Chex Mix
I always have to pick a new recipe from each month's Country Fair Blog Party for a blue ribbon winner, and October didn't disappoint with the variety of tasty recipes to try.  I really look forward to trying Chasing Saturdays's Payday Chex Mix.  This reminds me of my Sweet & Salty Corn Chip snack I like to make for the tractor, but different.  If you like scotcheroos then you'll like this recipe combination of peanut butter and the classic corn syrup/sugar coating!

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner - Oak Hill Homestead's Canning Tips
My next blue ribbon winner is Oak Hill Homestead's Canning Tips blog post.  For me when it comes to my garden, I think I probably enjoy canning my harvest more than eating it fresh, so Kathi's canning tips caught my eye!  I've been canning since I was a 4-Her, but even I learned some new tips to think about and remind myself.

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner - Nebraska Wheatie's Love in the Shape of a Red Balloon
My final blue ribbon is a touching, heartfelt post that made me smile.  In Nebraska Wheatie's Love in the Shape of a Red Balloon post, Tracy talks about finding a set of balloons in a field while harvesting.  She said how she normally ignores balloons in fields because she actually sees quite a few, but for some reason this time she decided to stop and check them out.  The balloons were memorial balloons of a young man close the age of one of her children.  Through social media she learned more about this man's life but it also made her stop, pray and think of the loved ones who let those balloons go.  I think this post really hit me because my family releases balloons annually for a cousin who passed away from cancer 10 years ago.  We don't put notes on our balloons, but I hope someone stops, thinks and prays for whoever let that balloon away and for whatever reason when they find them.

Join the November Country Fair Blog Party by linking up to 3 of your favorite food, family, farming, crafts, canning, etc. posts!
I can't wait to see what great posts get linked up this month as we have our Country Fair Blog Party.  Country Fairs are all about food, family, friends, farming, animals, arts and crafts, canning, baking and more.  And that is what our our blog hop is all about too.  Feel free to join our Country Fair by linking up to 3 of your posts.  This blog hop is a great opportunity to check out new blogs, and if you blog yourself, have your posts reach a new audience.  Be sure to visit some other party goers and let them know you are stopping by through the Country Fair Blog Party.

Country Fair Blog Party Co-Hosts
Also, be sure to visit my fellow co-hosts:
Jan of Tip Garden
Laurie of Country LINKed and
Nicole of Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom

We're excited to see everything you share this month!  What is your favorite link from this month's Country Fair Blog Party?  Whichever post is mentioned the most in the comments will receive my "Readers Choice" Blue Ribbon next month!  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bake with Seasonal Flavors and AE Dairy

* This post has been compensated through the AE Dairy Blog Ambassador program.  All views and opinions shared are my own. *

MP, JP and LP with their pumpkins
I can't believe it is the end of October!  Soon the kids will be trick-or-treating, we'll be finishing corn harvest, and I'll have to take down the Halloween decorations I just put up and replace them with Thanksgiving, or in less than a month - Christmas!  It is definitely the holiday season.  There are so many things happening so close to each other, but it also a great time to sit back, relax and enjoy what makes this time of the year so special.  And one way to sit back and relax and enjoy the season for our family is through food!

The first seasonal flavor I think of when it is this time of year is pumpkin.  Now I will admit, I haven't always been a pumpkin fan, but now really enjoy its rich, spicy flavor.  One of my family's go to pumpkin treats are Pumpkin Orange Cookies.  These soft, pillowy, cookies give you the richness of pumpkin, with a little zip from the AE Dairy Orange Juice.  We eat these cookies for breakfast, afternoon snacks, dessert, and really just anytime all day long.  Let's just say a batch doesn't last us long...  I've given these delectable little cookies as gifts this fall and have instantly been asked for the recipe.  So it isn't just our family that loves the combination of pumpkin and orange!  So, since we've had friends and family ask for the recipe, I figured I'd better share it here on my blog!

Pumpkin Orange Cookies #AEdairy #ad

Pumpkin Orange Cookies

1 cup Butter, softened
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 - 15oz can Pumpkin
1 Egg
2 Tbsp AE Orange Juice
Zest of 1/2 of an Orange
2 1/2 cups Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt

1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
2 to 3 Tbsp AE Orange Juice
Zest of 1/2 of an Orange

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and brown sugar until creamy.  Add the pumpkin, eggs, orange juice and orange zest.  Gradually add the flour, baking soda and salt, stirring until incorporated.

Drop batter onto baking sheets using a tablespoon or 1.5 tablespoon cookie scoop.  Bake at 375 degrees Farenheit for 10 minutes, or until the edges are set and cookies are firm to the touch.  Let cool slightly on the sheet and then transfer to cooling racks.

For the glaze, in a small bowl stir together powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons orange juice and orange zest, adding more juice if needed for desired drizzling consistency. Top each cookies with a 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of glaze.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

glazed Pumpkin Orange Cookies #AEdairy #ad

The second seasonal flavor, I think of this time of year is Egg Nog.  I am an Egg Nog fanatic.  Too be specific, I am an AE Dairy Classic Egg Nog fanatic.  I've tried other brands of egg nogs and they just don't compare.  I think back to high school when I use to get a donut and an Icy Cold To Go AE Dairy Egg Nog before jazz band practice from Casey's General Store...  Can't eat like that anymore!  Or when Santa Clause would put a note in my stocking telling me I had my own quart of AE Dairy Classic Egg Nog in the refrigerator... (oh wait, that still happens...)  So yes, I love Egg Nog!  So I was really excited with AE Dairy sent me a shipment of their seasonal milks straight from their Des Moines, Iowa plant last week!

#AEdairy's Seasonal Milk Line Up is here! #ad
Photo from Instagram (@PlaggeVal)
As you can see, AE Dairy's seasonal milk line up includes more than just Egg Nog, and my family was excited to have our own taste test of all the varieties available now in stores!  (And if you're wondering, isn't this early?  It isn't.  My birthday was on Sunday and I have received Egg Nog as a gift many times!)  From left the right, this year's milk varieties include: Mimi's Milk Nog, Dark Chocolate Milk, After Dinner Mint Chocolate Milk, Horchata, Classic Egg Nog and Lite Egg Nog.

Each milk received high marks from our family.  The kids all liked the AE Dairy Dark Chocolate Milk best (and I have to admit, it was a favorite of mine too).  It wasn't really a surprise they liked it so much since they love chocolate milk to begin with.  My Farmer liked the After Dinner Mint Chocolate Milk a lot.  I am not a "chocolate and mint" combo fan but even I thought the milk was good.  It's a nice, rich chocolate milk, with a slight mint undertone.  Nothing too overpowering, but yet, giving it something special.  Now when we move onto the "Nogs" my favorite was the Classic.  I love the thick, rich flavor that I have grown to love over the decades.  It makes me think Christmas!  My Farmer isn't that big of a fan of Egg Nog but enjoyed Mimi's Milk Nog.  Mimi's is a combination of AE's Skim Milk and AE's Classic Nog.  He thought it was the perfect balance and has enjoyed several glasses and even adding it to his morning coffee.  And everyone wants to know about the Horchata.  This is AE's 2% milk with vanilla and cinnamon - their version of the classic Hispanic drink, or what other's might be more familiar with, a non-alcoholic version of RumChata...  I thought is was really good and it made my mind start rolling with ways I could bake with it during the holidays!

So what seasonal flavor are you craving now?  Pumpkin?  Egg Nog?  Horchata?  Let me know in the comments and remember to Comment for a Cause!