Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Homemade Chocolate Mint Oreos

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

Last week on Twitter I shared that "It's the most, wonderful time, of the year" because Anderson Erickson Dairy's Egg Nog is at the grocery store.  
All of AE Dairy's versions of Egg Nog are released at the end of October (I know this because my birthday is at the end of the month and I'm such a big Egg Nog fan that I've received cartons as birthday gifts...) and their other seasonal milks, which debuted last year, hit the store shelves earlier this month.  Seeing these "holiday" milks in the grocery store makes me excited for the approaching holiday season and in the mood for baking!

Once I saw AE Dairy's After Dinner Mint chocolate milk hit the shelf, I was inspired to create a tractor friendly treat with it.  I love to bake, and especially for the holidays, but with my days spent harvesting corn and soybeans, I had to figure out something that was quick, delicious and easy enough to eat while traveling down the field at 3 mph.  My first thought was a cookie.  Cookies are always a hit during the fall (and for Christmas) because they're easy to eat.  But how could I use this chocolate milk, that has a mild mint undertone, in a cookie?  Ding, Ding, Ding - frosting!  Well no one wants a frosted cookie while driving a tractor or combine... but what if the frosting was sandwiched between two cookies???  Aha!  Homemade Chocolate Mint Oreos.

Homemade Chocolate Mint Oreos #AEdairy #sponsored

Homemade Chocolate Mint Oreos

2 boxes of Chocolate Cake Mix
4 eggs
2/3 cups vegetable oil

1/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup Shortening
1/4 tsp Peppermint extract
2 cups Powdered Sugar
2-3 Tbsp AE Dairy's After Dinner Mint Reduced Fat Chocolate Milk

Start by making your cookie batter.  Mix the cake mixes, eggs and oil with a spatula till all ingredients are fully incorporated.  This will be a thick batter, so don't give up on it - it will come together, I promise!

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 9-10 minutes.  After you take them out of the oven press them down to flatten them.  Let them rest a couple minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

While the cookies are baking you can make your frosting.  Blend the butter and shortening together with a hand mixer.  Add peppermint.  Then add the powdered sugar.  Finally, add AE Dairy After Dinner Mint chocolate milk to the mix a tablespoon at a time until it is fluffy.

Once the cookies are cool, spread a nice helping of frosting between two cookies.  Recipe yields 2 dozen sandwich cookies.  These pair delicious with a glass of AE Dairy's After Dinner Mint Chocolate Milk too ;)

Homemade Chocolate Mint Oreos #AEdairy #sponsored

Have you tried AE Dairy's After Dinner Mint Chocolate Milk before?  I'm not even a huge fan of chocolate and mint, but this milk has the proportion of chocolate and mint just right that everyone can enjoy a glass.  This milk would also be great milk to warm up for hot chocolate!  Remember to Comment for a Cause

Homemade Chocolate Mint Oreos #AEdairy #sponsored - quick, easy and fun cookie that all ages will enjoy!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Having fun in the tractor with Mom

The kids and I are kind of a packaged deal.  Wherever they go, I go and wherever I go, they go.  I guess that is what happens when you're a stay at home mom.  So when it comes to the time of the year when I am out in the field daily, the kids come along with me.  This is fun (and a little crowded) and I know we are making memories that will last a lifetime.

Having fun in the tractor with Mom
Miss L and I hanging out in the tractor
taking a stretch break
Many people have asked what do the kids do all day out in the tractor?  We read a lot of books, we play with tractors, dolls, stuffed animals, etc.  Each kid has a tractor cinch sack bag that they take out to the field with them that includes their favorite things to play with and a couple snacks, a juice packet and their water bottle.

Having fun in the tractor with Mom - first harvest photos
Miss R's "First Harvest" photo
One thing I have done every fall, for the last five years, is that for their "First Harvest" I take a photo of them on top of my tractor wheel; it's turned into a tradition.  I shared Miss R's photo in my Harvest Happenings post yesterday and it made me walk down memory lane and check out all four kids "First Harvest" photos.  I couldn't resist sharing them with you too :)

Having fun in the tractor with Mom - first harvest photos

Can you tell they're siblings?  Who do you think looks the most alike?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Farm Friday - Harvest Happenings

Harvest is a busy time of the year on our farm.  The days start early and the nights end late.  We work as hard as mother nature allows us to bring in both our corn and soybean crop.  When I find myself at home I play "catch up" with all of the house work and try to cross off a couple things (or at least one) from my to-do list.  And since today is Friday, I thought it'd be a fun excuse to ignore my messy living room and breakfast dishes in the sink and write a Harvest Happenings blog post.

Harvest Happenings - My Buddy and I
My tractor riding buddy Miss L and I
Harvest this year has been going a little slow and to tell you the truth, has been full of the unexpected.  We normally like to start harvesting our soybeans and then switch to corn.  But this year, due to flooding in September, I think we've switched back and forth between soybeans and corn four times because we're simply just going to fields that are dry enough to be worked in.  And you might not think switching back and forth isn't that big of a deal, but it takes time and slows down harvest.  We have to completely clean out the combine, catch cart, wagons, auger, etc. and switch the combine's head between corn and soybeans.  We store and sell our corn and soybeans separately so you don't want corn mixed in with your soybeans and vice versa.

Harvest Happenings - Unloading corn from catch cart to set of wagons
Here is a picture of me dumping corn from my catch cart
to a set of wagons.  Every piece of equipment used for harvest
has to be cleaned out when we switch between corn and soybeans.
And talking about that September flooding, that is causing concern for a couple different reasons.  First, is that the ground is still not completely dry and very soft.  While taking out the crop, we have to be careful while driving in the field so we don't get stuck.  We also are waiting to do any fall tillage work because things are so wet that we'd end up just compacting the soil more, rather than breaking it up which is the benefit in the first place.  The second reason for concern is the crop health and stand.  Many, if not actually all, of our corn and soybeans were in standing water at some point.  This has caused our stalks to deteriorate and the chance of fungus growing on our plants to increase.

Harvest Happenings - water line from flooding on corn in North Iowa
Can you see that line along the bottom of the corn stalks?
That is a water line from the flooding we had in September.
But this fall hasn't been all gloomy.  Part of the unexpected of this year is that our crops are yielding average to above average.  That makes the increase stress of harvesting in these non-ideal conditions a little better to handle.  Also, my favorite part of harvest is always the time spent making memories with our family.  Sometimes it gets a little crazy having our kids out in the field and so involved during harvest, but it is so much fun too.  How lucky are our kids that they get to be with their parents and grandparents everyday?!

Harvest Happenings - First Tractor Ride of the Fall
Miss R taking the customary
"First Fall" steering wheel photo in the tractor
So this is a little bit of everything I've been thinking about, stressing about, and enjoying lately.  I also did my first "Farm Friday Facebook Live" from the tractor last week and I hope to find time to do it again today.  What questions do you have about corn and soybean harvest?  I'll try to answer those questions in my next Facebook Live and on here through my next Harvest Happenings.  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Comments for a Cause - My Stuff Bags Foundation

Comments for a Cause - My Stuff Bags Foundation
It's October 1st and time to talk Comments for a Cause!  In the month of September I had 92 comments, equaling a $46 donation to Make Our Day which I'm excited is going to be matched by another donor!  Our combined efforts will cover 8 weeks of classes and tutoring for one of the Thai children.  Isn't it amazing how we can make such an impact in just a month of commenting!

In the month of October I'm looking forward to making an impact for children in crisis centers and foster care nationwide by donating $0.50 for every comment made on my blog to My Stuff Bags Foundation.

Comments for a Cause - My Stuff Bags Foundation

My Stuff Bags goal is to provide a My Stuff Bag filled with new belongings to each of the nearly 300,000 children nationwide that enter crisis shelters and foster care each year with nothing of their own.  These children are often taken from their homes, or lack there of, with no possessions.  The My Stuff Bag is a cute, individual duffel bag filled with essentials that are theirs to keep like clothing, toys, a stuffed animal, school supplies, toiletries and a blanket.  One neat thing is that most of the blankets are handmade from people across the country.

Children in all 50 states have benefited from My Stuff Bags.  I was surprised, yet happy, that they serve 22 agencies in the state of Iowa.  I have a special place in my heart for any child that has to be and needs to be moved to a new home, and I'm so pleased there is a group like My Stuff Bags that gives those children hope for their new phase of life.

So help me, help these children not only get their own stuff but also an outlook on life, by commenting all month long.  Have you ever heard of the My Stuff Bags Foundation before?  What other programs do you know that help kids in foster care or at crisis centers?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!

Country Fair Blog Party: October 2016

The air is crisp, the combine is in the field and I've been craving apples and pumpkins - it must mean fall is here!  To celebrate the fall season and the start of the month, it is time for a new Country Fair Blog Party!  Before I share the link-up for this month's Blog Hop, here are the Blue Ribbon Winners from the September Country Fair Blog Party:

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Gluten Free A-Z's Grandma's Baked Ziti
During last month's Blog Party, Gluten Free A-Z's Baked Ziti The Way Grandma Made It was the most viewed post from the link-up!  Congratulations to Judee on getting the most clicks and receiving a Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon!  Her Baked Ziti sounds like a perfect dish to warm up with this fall.

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: The Frugal Pantry's Oreo Bars
My Readers' Choice Blue Ribbon goes to The Frugal Pantry's Oreo Bars.  My readers, and I, thought this recipe looked too good not to try.  Plus, it is a cake mix recipe.  I think cake mix recipes are always fun to make and always seem to be soft and chewy!

Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon Winner: Vickie's Kitchen and Garden's Donuts from a Can of Biscuits
And my final Country Fair Blog Party Blue Ribbon goes to Vickie's Kitchen and Garden's Donuts from a Can of Biscuits.  This wasn't only one of my favorite recipes, but actually was in a three-way tie for the second most clicked on post from last month's link-up.  This is a tried and true recipe from Vickie that she made for her kids and now her grandkids.

Join the Country Fair Blog Party by linking up to 3 of your favorite food, family, farming, crafts, canning, etc. posts!
Thanks to everyone that joined our blog hop last month, and I can't wait to see what great posts get linked up to this month's 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 and
Laurie of Country LINKed

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 Comments for a Cause!