Sunday, March 22, 2015

Start Your Morning Off Right with Green Chili Egg Bake

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

Last night on Facebook I asked what foods come to mind when you think Easter.  The top three answers were:  Ham (or some other pork dish), Salads (Waldorf, Broccoli Raisin, Pasta, etc.), and Deviled Eggs.  I couldn't agree more!  I am hosting Easter this year and we have all three foods (plus more!) on our menu.  I'm planning on baking a ham and/or smoking a pork loin and making plenty of salads (including my Overnight Salad).  One other thing I'm planning on making is Green Chili Egg Bake.  I feel like it is only right to start Easter morning with an egg bake!  I have many memories of helping youth group make Easter Breakfast at church, so it only seems appropriate to carry on the tradition in my home.

Start Your Morning Off Right with Green Chili Egg Bake for Easter Morning Breakfast

This Green Chili Egg Bake is cheesy and buttery; plus, the green chilies give it that added something!  A surprise ingredient in this egg bake is AE Dairy Cottage Cheese!  The cottage cheese helps give the egg bake a creamy texture.  I used my favorite AE Cottage Cheese - their Old Fashioned variety, but any of them would work nicely.  It'd be fun to try it again soon with one of their flavored varieties: Mr. E's French Onion or Mr. E's Garden Vegetable.

Green Chili Egg Bake

10 eggs
4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups AE Cottage Cheese
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies, drained
Salsa for serving

Lightly coat a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray, set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until well blended.  Stir in the shredded cheese, cottage cheese, melted butter, flour, baking powder and salt; fold in the chilies.  Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (or until the eggs are set) at 350°F.  Cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serve with salsa.

So start off your Easter morning with this delicious egg bake.  It'll be a sure family favorite!  What food do you think of when you think of Easter?  Do you associate Egg Bakes with Easter morning like I do?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Happy National Ag Day! #DayinIAag

Today is National Ag Day, so I thought what better to do, then share what we are doing today on the farm:

Joe from Brokaw Precision checking seed meters
We have been busy getting ready for spring planting.  Today is a busy day in the shop, as we are hosting a Planter Clinic.  This is where local farmers come in and get their planter meters checked.  We offer this service to our seed business customers.

Seed meters are part of our precision planting system that controls the seeding rate and population of individual rows on our planter.  Each row has its own meter.  This systems allows us to stop seeding where we don't want to plant, all on the go.  Our seed meters are checked for their efficiency by checking how many skips or double plants the meter has through a test on the meter machine.  Making sure our meters are working properly is one way for us to make sure that our planter is putting seed into the ground accurately, and in the end, increasing our yields.

Doesn't that giant picture of pork ribs
I'm standing in front of look good!
Now, while the guys are busy in the shop, I am actually busy in Des Moines for a social media training at the National Pork Board.  This is a great opportunity to meet other pork farmers from across the country and to discuss #realpigfarming.

Speaking of pigs, our barns are getting ready to go to market.  Soon My Farmer will be turning on the auto-sort feature of our barns to start sorting hogs that are in the ideal weight range into a select pen.  This element not only helps reduce labor, but also reduces stress on both My Farmer and Father-in-Law, and on the pigs.

So there is a little look into our day in Iowa agriculture.  What would you like to know more about?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mommy Monday - When You Need An Extra Hand

*I received a product to facilitate this review as a Nuby Parent Blogger.  
All views and opinions shared are my own.*

There are a lot of new babies and moms in my family.  One of my sisters had her first child at the end of September, my sister-in-law had her first baby at the end of January, and one of my cousins had her first in February.  Like I said, a lot of new babies!  It is a lot of fun!  We hosted some of my family at our house last weekend to celebrate my grandma's #8, #9 and #10 great-grandchildren (and by the way, she has #11 on the way!).

My Grandma's three youngest great-grandchildren
My nephew, JP, and my cousin's son
With all of these new babies, I've been enjoying bonding with all the new moms and talking everything baby and parenting life.  The other day we were talking about the "Mom Shower".  My cousin Sarah came up with the perfect description of the "Five Minute Mom Shower":

Minute 1:  He is finally sleeping, and I haven't bathed in 48 hours, let's shower.  Wait, is he REALLY sleeping?  Do I have enough time?

Minute 2:  Yep, he's REALLY sleeping.  Let's do this!

Minute 3:  Shampoo, conditioner and body wash all at once.  That's why they make all-in-ones, right?  Wait, mine's not an all-in-one.  Oh well, it is now.

Minute 4:  Do I have time to shave?  Who are you kidding?  No, just get the underarms and call it good.  It's not like you really shaved your legs that often before he was born...

Minute 5:  Rinse and dry.  Crap, is that conditioner?  I'll get it next time.  I'm dry ENOUGH, let's check on him.  He's STILL asleep, why did I rush?

I think all Moms can use an extra hand or even an extra minute when it comes to "bath time" - not only for ourselves, but also for our kids.  And with three kids needing baths now, I am happy that I have Nuby's Contour Bath Seat.  

Nuby Parent Review - Contour Bath Seat

Nuby's Contour Bath Seat's slim design allows me to take care of all three kids at once in the bath tub.  My other baby bath tub is wide and bulky, but Nuby's is not only narrow, but supportive.  Most bath seats you still have to keep a hand on your baby so they don't slide around or fall over, but Nuby's design with curves and bumps keep them sitting up and stationary.  I also love that the bath seat has a drain hole, which makes clean up easy.  Another great thing is that it is affordable.  BuyBabyDirect sells the tub for $12!

To learn more about Nuby get connected with them through their various channels of social media:

What baby product do you think a new mom can't be without?  Can you relate to the "Mom Shower"?  Remember to Comment for a Cause?

Friday, March 13, 2015

#PizzaTasteOff2015 - Who has the best pizza in North Iowa?

It's Friday!  Which means it is pizza night at our house, but I celebrated early with the North Iowa Bloggers on Wednesday night by participating in the #PizzaTasteOff2015.  So what is/was the #PizzaTasteOff2015 you might ask?  Well, it all started a few weeks ago when one our North Iowa Bloggers, Beth Ann, admitted that she had never had Casey's breakfast pizza on Twitter.  Now, if you are from Iowa or the Midwest you might be wondering how could anyone living in Iowa never had Casey's breakfast pizza - afterall Mila Kunis even mentioned that it was her favorite "junk" food earlier this year.  Well, Mila or Casey's weren't the first to respond to Beth Ann's tweet, instead it was Kum & Go, Casey's competitor, and they said she needed to try Kum & Go's instead.  So after some tweeting back and forth as a group with Kum & Go, Casey's and even Godfather's in Mason City, before we knew it we had several donated pizzas to determine who the true pizza king was in North Iowa, henceforth becoming the #PizzaTasteOff2015.

There were nine pizzas that were apart of the #PizzaTasteOff2015 on Wednesday:  Casey's Cheese, Casey's Hamburger, Kum & Go Taco, Kum & Go Sausage, Mushroom, Onion and Black Olive, Kum & Go Breakfast, Godfather's Chicken Bacon Ranch, Godfather's Combo, Pasta Bella Italian Restaurant's Margherita, and Udi's Gluten-Free Margherita.  (A special thank you to Casey's, Kum & Go and Godfather's for donating all of their pizzas.)  Now, to start off, I will have a full disclaimer, I didn't try every pizza.  I am not a fan of olives and saw no point in having a slice of cheese.  But I did try six of the pizzas.  I asked my Twitter followers what criteria I should judge the pizzas on and they suggested sauce, flavor combination, crust, proper ingredient ratio, general appearance and overall experience - so I took all of those into suggestion as a pizza critic for the night.  And I must have had a similar experience as everyone else because my top three pizzas were the top three voted pizzas from the group.

Pasta Bella Margherita Pizza, Mason City #PizzaTasteOff2015
First place (and my first choice) went to a local Italian restaurant, Pasta Bella, with their Marherita Pizza.  This pizza had great flavor and I loved the seasoning and tang of the sauce.  I felt like it was the most "authentic" pizza in the taste test.  Whenever I've been to Pasta Bella I've always gotten a pasta dish but I'm going to have to check out their pizza menu next time!

Kum & Go Breakfast Pizza #PizzaTasteOff2015
Photo from Beth Ann Chiles of It's Just Life
Second place (and my third choice) went to Kum & Go with their Breakfast Pizza.  Now, I will admit, being a fan of Casey's Breakfast Pizza, I had some doubt on how Kum & Go's could ever stand up to the classic Casey's version, but it was good!  With its nice, thick and fluffy crust, paired with a good surprise of string hashbrowns as one of the toppings, it was a very filling pizza.  Another reason I loved Kum & Go's pizza was because of the service we received from both corporate and our local station.  They all went out of their way to make the North Iowa Bloggers experience a positive one.

Godfather's Chicken Bacon Ranch #PizzaTasteOff2015
Third place (and my second choice) went to Godfather's of Mason City with their Chicken Bacon Ranch.  This was another filling pizza as it had a thick crust and was loaded with toppings.  I also loved that there was a lot of cheese on this pizza, because who doesn't love a nice helping of cheese on their pizza, right?  One of the North Iowa Bloggers, Loni, was very passionate about Godfather's you could say...  Check out this video to fully understand.

In the end, we had a lot of great food, great conversations and a lot of fun.  And we think we'll need a second installment of the North Iowa Bloggers #PizzaTasteOff2015 because we've already heard from the local Pizza Ranch and Little Chicago that they need to be in the next challenge.  So what is your favorite pizza place?  Who do you think should be apart of our next #PizzaTasteOff2015?  What do you look for in a good pizza?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Also, be sure to check out these other reviews from the #PizzaTasteOff2015:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Gather with friends and Overnight Salad

It is official.  I took the leaf out of our dinning room table this week, which means we aren't hosting any holiday gatherings, baby celebrations or birthday parties for the foreseeable future.  It is a little sad, because I love entertaining at our home.  But I know that it will only be temporary, because in a couple months I know we will be hosting again at our house.

There are many reasons why I love entertaining, and one reason is that I get to make Overnight Lettuce Salad.  This salad is a delicious combination of lettuce, cauliflower and BACON!  Another great aspect to this dish is that you make it the night before your gathering with family and friends.  (And I think everyone that has ever hosted at their house knows how nice it is to get some food done the day before the event!)  So without further ado, here is my family's favorite and go to entertaining salad dish:

Overnight Lettuce Salad recipe - perfect for entertaining

Overnight Lettuce Salad

Place ingredients in order in a large bowl, lettuce on the bottom, onion on top.

1 head lettuce, chopped
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I make sure there is enough to cover the entire surface)
1# bacon, cooked and crumbled
5 oz Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 to Full medium onion, chopped (depending on your onion preference)

Cover and refrigerate at least six hours (overnight is best).  Stir right before serving.

This makes a huge batch and only has about 48 hours of "quality of life".  So I only make it when I'm having a large group of family and friends over, like last night when I went to the North Iowa Bloggers Pizza Taste Off (more on that on the blog soon!).

Do you like to entertain at your home?  What is one of your go-to dishes if you're hosting a large group of family and friends?  Do you have any entertaining tips?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Why I Choose to Live in Rural America

On Wednesday I had the opportunity and privilege to meet with Iowa's Lt. Governor, Kim Reynolds, and twelve other women in agriculture for a round table discussion as part of the Lt. Governor's state-wide tour with women leaders (#kimtours99).  The group talked about several issues including regulations, the importance of high speed internet for rural areas, and young farmer credits and programs.

One underlying theme of the luncheon's conversation was providing opportunities for young people to stay, work and live in rural Iowa.  I am proud that I grew up in rural Iowa and continue to live, work and play in rural Iowa.  But I acknowledge that not everyone is doing this, as we see school consolidations, abandoned store fronts, and fewer grocery stores.  So why do I choose to live in rural America?

The main and first reason is because My Farmer and I obviously farm, but we were encouraged to come back home.  I feel like a lot of high school seniors are advocated to leave their hometown and to find opportunity in the "big city".  Why do people do that?  We should be encouraging our youth to come back as doctors, to plumbers, to farmers.

People feel that there are limited jobs in rural America but I think because of the entrepreneurship spirit of its citizens, there are endless possibilities.  Rural America is the perfect place to get inspired to start your own business.  Since much of rural America has a strong agriculture sector - think of the potential businesses that are needed to help make agriculture more efficient.  In fact, there are a group of young men in Iowa that just won the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge with their ScoutPro businesses, an electronic crop scouting program.  With quality internet (which is something the group talked to the Lt. Governor about) people are able to work and build their own businesses from home.

Lastly, the thing I probably like the most about rural America is the sense of community.  I have family members that live in larger cities, and yes, they know at least a couple of their neighbors and will attend the neighborhood block party (if there even is one), but rural America has a huge reach. I consider people that live miles away my neighbors.  We help each other out, even if we don't know each other that well.  I am so proud of my community so that is why I volunteer so much.  I also strive to support my local businesses.  Many people in rural America see volunteerism and supporting local as high priorities, so that just adds to the feeling of community.

Do you live in rural America?  What ideas do you have to support and grow rural America?  What advice do you have for young people who are living or want to live in rural America?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Be sure to check out Shannon and Katie's takes on the meeting with Iowa's Lt. Governor too.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Comments for a Cause - Children's Tumor Foundation

It is a new month and time for a new cause to support.  But before I get into the details for March, I'd first like to talk about last month.  During the month of February I had 81 comments, creating a donation of $40.50 for Room to Read.  Thanks for helping me support childhood literacy worldwide.

In the month of March I am paying tribute to my late friend Amy by supporting a cause she was very supportive of, the Children's Tumor Foundation.  For the last couple of years Amy participated in the Mason City Cupid's Undie Run, which is a fundraiser for CTF.  She had so much fun at this event and always was encouraging more people to join her.  So I am joining her now in spirit by donating $0.50 for every comment on my blog during the month to the Children's Tumor Foundation.

Amy before this year's Cupid's Undie Run
on Valentine's Day this year
which supports the Children's Tumor Foundation
The Children's Tumor Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding effective treatments for Neurofibromatosis (NF) through research.  NF is a debilitating genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow all over the nervous system which can cause blindness, deafness, learning disabilities and severe chronic pain.  Amy personally had a few people in her life who have struggled/struggles with NF, so that is what she got so active with the Cupid's Undie Run.

The Cupid's Undie Run takes place every year on Valentine's Day, where millions of people strip down to their skivvies and run for kids with NF.  Amy wrote a great blog post about her experience after this year's run that you should check out, along with a video she made after the event:

Have you ever heard of Cupid's Undie Run?  Or do you know anyone who has NF?  Be sure to comment all month long to not only help kids with NF, but also to help me honor Amy.  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Country Fair Blog Party: March Madness

It is the first of the month, so that means a few things on my blog, one of which, it's time for a new Country Fair Blog Party!  But before I share about March's blog hop, I'd like to share my favorite posts from February's LOVE party:

Farm Fit Mama's Raising Kids: Two Bottle Babies in 2015
One thing I asked for people to share to last month's blog hop was products they loved, and I loved Farm Fit Mama's Raising Kids: Two Bottle Babies in 2015 post.  She was of course talking about goat kids and shared some of her favorite milk replacers and bottle supplies.  Plus, she shared some cute goat kid photos!

Little Blog on the Homestead - Holland, Michigan
Another thing I asked for people to share to last month's blog party was places they loved, and I loved that Little Blog on the Homestead shared why she loves her hometown of Holland, Michigan.  I loved all the heritage aspects of Holland and would actually love to visit someday!

And I asked for people to share some recipes they love to last month's blog party.  Now, this was hard to choose a favorite but I'm going to have to go with Simple Suburban Living's 5 Ingredient Flour Tortillas.  My family loves Mexican food and actually my son LP even simply loves eating tortillas plain, so this easy and simple recipe was right up my alley.  Plus she includes a step by step video!  How cool!

I can't wait to see what great posts get linked up this month as celebrate March Madness.  Throughout the month of March we are looking for your posts to help you make it through the madness of March - from spring cleaning, to preparing spring gardens for planting, to Easter recipes or crafts.  Anything to help you make it through March is welcomed!  After all, this March is definitely coming "in like a lion" and hopefully you'll find some helpful posts to assist March go "out like a lamb."

This blog hop is a great opportunity to check out new blogs, and if you blog yourself, have your posts reach a new audience.  Bloggers, feel free to link up to 3 posts this month and be sure to visit some other party goers and let them know you are stopping by through the Country Fair Blog Party.

Also, be sure to visit my fellow co-hosts:
Belong with Wildflowers
Country LINKed
Dirt Road Charm
High Heels and Shotgun Shells
Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom
This Uncharted Rhoade
Tip Garden

We're excited to see everything you share this month!  What new blog did you discover through this month's Country Fair Blog Party?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!