Friday, June 29, 2012

Broccoli/Cauliflower Salad

In the summer, it's nice to have a quick salad that you can throw together when company is coming or just for a side dish for dinner.  If you've never tried it, broccoli/cauliflower salad could be just what you're looking for.

Although you can purchase broccoli and
cauliflower in regular form, if you're in a hurry,
try purchasing it in pre-made bags like these.

2 cups broccoli florets, remove the stems (chopped into piece as little or big as you want them)
2 cups of cauliflower florets, remove the stems (chopped into piece as little or big as you want them)
Crumbled, cooked bacon
1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper (optional)
1/4 cup chopped Vidalia onion
3/4 cup Mayo
3 T sugar
2 T vinegar


WASH the broccoli and cauliflower and let dry.  Pre-cook bacon and have ready while the vegetables are drying.

In a bowl, combine the broccoli and cauliflower.

Add the onion, sweet pepper and bacon.  I didn't have sweet pepper so I used bacon and onion only.

In another bowl, stir the mayo, sugar and vinegar until smooth and pour over the salad and toss to coat.  Store in refrigerator for 24 hours before serving.  Occasionally, I make more of the mayo sauce and add to it after it has set for the 24 hour period. 

I have also seen people add raisins, sunflower seeds and other goodies to this salad.  The possibilities are limitless!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Vase Centerpiece

I'm not a crafty person by nature, but I do like to do simple crafts to make my home feel more personable.  I came across several vases that were in a cabinet and wanted to do something with them.  After looking at things that I had around the house, I found the above items to put together.

1 - A green doiley
2 - A two-tone candle
3 - Coffee beans
4 - A round ring of plastic berries

Put the candle in the bottom of the vase, pour the coffee beans around the candle, set the round ring of berries on the doilet and place vase in the middle.

There you have it!  A beautiful, decorative centerpiece for your table!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

French Toast Crowd Pleaser

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet a lot of us go without it.  On the weekends, I always try to make something special.  Growing up, my grandparents spoiled us with biscuits and gravy, bacon, eggs, milk, orange juice and our Flinstone vitamins.  It seemed like my Grandma and Grandpa woke up at the crack of dawn to make this special breakfast for all of us.  This is still my all time favorite breakfast. 

Recently, I came across this recipe.  My husband loved it and I thought it was okay.  I guess that's what happens when you try new things.  One thing different that I would add to this recipe is ground cinnamon.  I don't think it would need a lot, but a little bit would give it that extra kick that it seemed to be lacking.

4 count of sweet buns from your local bakery
8-oz cream cheese, softened
8 eggs
1 and 1/2 cups of milk
2/3 cup half and half cream
1 and 1/4 cups of maple syrup
1/2 tsp of vanilla
2-4 T of powdered sugar


Cut or tear bread into 1" square pieces.  Place bread cubes in a lightly greased 9x13" casserole dish.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth and then add eggs one at a time, being sure to mix well after each addition. 

Stir in milk, half and half, 1/2 cup of the maple syrup, and vanilla until mixture is smooth.  Pour cream cheese mixture over the bread, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the casserole from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Pour remaining maple syrup over the casserole and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Serve warm.

This recipe is also good reheated.

Monday, June 25, 2012


This is one of the many blackberry bushes in bloom.
My nephew was quick to remind me to only pick the purple
colored berries and not the red ones! 
This weekend, we went to visit my parents in northern Kentucky. I was excited to see that there were many blackberries ready to be picked and mom didn't mind sharing. With a small bucket in my hand I started down the lane. Plump, ripe blackberries were everywhere and I couldn't help but pick a few and eat a few as I went. They were delicious!

When I was done picking, I had almost a gallon Ziploc bag full.  You can see in the picture above that as soon as I was home, I washed and cleaned them and made my hubby take my picture!  He thought I was nuts, but I felt like I had hit the jackpot of fresh blackberries.  I thought about making a recipe or jam with them right away, but decided to freeze them for later instead.

Whenever you put items in the freezer, a rule of thumb is to label the freezer bag with what it is and the month and year you're freezing it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Beef Jerky

Beef jerky I made in the dehydrator.
As a woman, I love beef jerky, which my husband thinks is odd.  Having three brothers though, you learned to eat things or you didn't eat!  I've been anxious to use my dehydrator out for this specific purpose and it was GREAT!

I went to Rural King, and purchased some Backwoods Jerky Seasoning in original and hickory flavor.  I have to tell you that the directions weren't very clear and I had to call my friends Jason and Lori to decipher them for me.  Basically, I used the entire package for four pounds of ground meat. 

I used my newly purchased "jerky gun" to make the jerky mixture into strips and put on the dehydrator.  I know that not everyone uses the jerky gun, but it was a lot easier to use it than to do this all by hand.  My dehydrator came with a timer, so I set it for 10 hours.

When I woke up the next morning, this is what my beef jerky looked like.  I wiped each strip of jerky off with a paper towel and to my surprise, there was very little grease.  I broke the long pieces in half and stored all of the jerky in an air tight container.  Needless to say, the first batch went quickly.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Oh Say Can You See

Bill and I just tuned in to the Miami Heat and Oklahoma Thunders game 3 tonight.  I was taken back when I heard 11 year old Julia Dale sing the National Anthem.  Wow, she has a set of vocals.  I was brought up to respect not only my elders, but my country as well.  I take the singing of our National Anthem and honoring of our flag very seriously. 

I don't know about you, but nothing disturbs me more than when I go to a sporting event and I see young teenagers who refuse to remove their hats, or talk during the playing of the National Anthem.  I can't help but think of my grandpa's generation and wonder how this makes them feel to see this type of disrespect. 

I can remember in elementary school standing to the side of my desk and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance everyday.  I was taught, in that same elementary school, to put my hand over my heart during the playing of the National Anthem.  Why?  To show respect and honor to my country and to the men and women who sacrifice for it. 

Do you remember Whitney Houston singing the National Anthem before the Super Bowl back in 1991.  Talk about a moving performance and such a wonderful set of vocals.  I was moved.  The National Anthem seems to bring a tear to my eye each time I hear it.  Am I just being sentimental?  Maybe, but I wouldn't want to be any other way.

To all who have served, is serving, and have given their life for this country - thank you.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Another Slow Cooker Favorite

I adore my slow cooker and am all about finding and using recipes that will help in our fast paced life.  The thing that I don't like about magazines and some blogs, is that the recipes don't call for "normal" ingredients that I would usually have or be able to find. 

Utilize your slow cooker when you can to help prepare supper.

This is a simple throw together recipe and one of my favorites. 

You will need:

Green Beans - don't drain - a few small cans worth, or one large can
2 medium potatoes cut and diced into chunks (or you can use 2-3 cans of whole potatoes, drained).
Onion - As much as you want, diced
Smoked Sausage - sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of this in the slow cooker and cook on low for at least 6 hours.

Serve with bread and butter to complete the meal!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bill's Diner

Mom and Pop restaurant's are the best, especially in small towns.  For those of you that drive I-70 through Indiana, be sure to stop at the New Castle exit to visit a little place called Bill's Diner.  This family friendly restaurant is owned by auctioneer Larry Stewart and is decorated with items that Larry has come across in his year's of auctioneering.  People come from all around to eat the Jumbo Breaded Tenderloin that he serves.  The "Jumbo" is almost as big as the plate that it is served on and can be topped with your favorite condiments.

Bill's Diner serves breakfast all day long.  They have a soup of the day and really delicious fruit bowl for those looking for something light.  Today, Bill and I went there for lunch.  The special for Saturday was catfish or codfish with two sides and choice of biscuit...oh, they have delicious fried rolls that they serve with apple butter and it just melts in your mouth.  Yummy!  Needless to say, Bill had this to eat and I had french toast with eggs.  Do you have a favorite small town restaurant that you like?  Tell me about it!!

To visit Bill's Diner, here is their information:

1 (765) 529-9556
Hours (estimated)
Mon:2:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Tue:11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Wed:8:00 am - 2:00 pm, 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Thu:7:00 am - 11:00 am, 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Fri - Sat:6:00 am - 9:00 pm
Sun:7:00 am - 3:00 pm

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Pasta Salad

You can't go wrong with this crowd pleasing
Summer Pasta Salad.

As the summer progresses, the more plentiful your bounty should be in your garden.  One staple in our house this time of year is Summer Pasta Salad.  We eat this almost bi-weekly at the McDonnell House.  It's simple to make and uses the crop out of my garden.  The thing I love most about this salad is that you can put anything in it!

1 box of Rotini Spiral Noodles
1 bottle of Italian Salad Dressing (to taste)
Vegetables:  Cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, radishes, zucchini, etc.  Anything in combination that you like.

Cook the noodles and let cool.  Chop vegetables and add them and the noodles to a 9x13" pan.  Pour Italian Dressing on top and mix well.  Chill until ready to serve.  I usually add a little more Italian dressing if it needs it.  Will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's Nesco Time!

I haven't had a dehydrator for a long time, and since I am trying to become more sustainable, I searched the internet high and low for the perfect dehydrator for our home.  I read reviews, visited manufacture web-sites and even asked Bill's opinion, just to be nice that is, and I finally decided to by the Nesco FD-1020 Gardenmaster. 

Dehydrators are not cheap and I wanted to make sure I bought a quality product.  I have already made a fruit roll sheet batch.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great neither.  It was my first attempt, so I wasn't too upset.  We love fruit, so I plan on drying some fruit, making some beef jerky and dehydrating some onions.

Some details that I like about this machine over the others is:
  • that some parts are dish-washer safe
  • it has an adjustable thermostat
  • there is no need to rotate trays (so they say, I haven't found that out for sure yet)
  • the fan is on top of the unit forcing the air down
The negative is that it is loud.  I will take loud however, if it means a good product in the end.  I was able to purchase some vidalia onions at the grocery store on sale this week, so I am going to try and dehydrate them (in my garage of course) this weekend.

I'll be blogging more about recipes and ideas on how to use your dehydrator this summer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Here Comes the Rain

Sadie is sitting outside as the rain begins to fall.  Being
part lab, she loves any type of water.

When you live on a farm and you primarily farm for a living, the weather plays a huge factor in crop production and yield.  Here in Indiana, it has been very DRY and we need rain to help the crops grow so that we can pay the bills come fall.  Contrary to popular belief, farmer's are not rich.  Sure, just like in society, there are some that are filthy rich, but most of us are the average farmer trying to get by. Just remember that when use buy or repair a flat tire, it may cost you up to $200, but for a farmer to repair or replace a tractor tire, we are talking up to $2,000!!!  That's a big difference!

Also, as farmer's we enjoy what we do.  The motto for our farm is "caring about agriculture...caring about the land."  Bill and I believe in being good stewards of the land and taking care and pride in the crop we put out each year and the people and land owners we work with.

With all of that being said, when the crops don't look good - Bill gets stressed and having no rain is stressful!  So when it began to rain yesterday, I went out on the porch and began to do my farm wife rain dance so it would continue to rain!  Every little bit will help the crops popping up out of the ground and hopefully the garden as well. 

Bill and I driving around the "Farm Block" to check out
how much rain our fields were getting.  It was great
to have the windshield wipers on.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dried Beef Roll Ups

These little snacks won't last long!

If you're looking for a great appetizer for your guy during a Nascar, football or basketball game, this little snack will do the job.  Easy to assemble and only requiring three ingredients, you'll find yourself making these on a regular basis.

These are the only ingredients you will need:)

1 jar of Armour Dried Beef
1 jar Mt. Olive Kosher Petite Dill Pickles
1 container of Philly cream cheese

Can't be any easier than this...
Spread the cream cheese on the dried beef.  Lay the pickle on top and roll the beef around it, put it in a container (as in the top picture) and chill at least 2 hours in the fridge before serving.  These can taste a little salty, but they are very good!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Product Review Time

I am a coffee drinker.  Bill on the other hand, supports Diet Mt. Dew.  Since I am the only one in the house that loves to drink coffee, I really struggled with having a regular size coffee machine and brew several cups of coffee that I may or may not drink.  It seemed wasteful and I am quite frugal.  A friend of mine kept suggesting a Keurig machine.  So I began to look into them.

After reading reviews on line, shopping around at stores and surfing the internet for various models and varieties for what seemed like weeks Bill said I just needed to buy one.  So, the tight-wad in me couldn't just go buy one.  Whatever I decided to buy, had to be on sale and I needed to have a coupon.  I wanted the best bang for my buck.  That's just what I do...which drives poor Bill crazy sometimes.

Long story short, I went to Kohl's after deciding that I wanted the Cuisinart SS-700BK.  It was on sale for $199.99 and I had a 30% off Kohl's coupon and some Kohl's cash.  I wasn't about to pay anymore than I had to for this thing.

Folks, I have to tell you, I enjoy it.  It is very easy to assemble and I purchased the model that came with the K-Cup Reusable Coffee Filter, so I can use my own normal coffee should I choose to do so.  It has a charcoal water filter, which is a good thing, because we have well water.  There on the left, is the water reservoir.  The top, where it says "Cuisinart" in silver lifts up and you put the K-Cups in there.  The menu allows you to brew into a 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 oz cup size.  You clean it completely every 60 days and the water reheats its self after each use. It brews at a set temperature of 192 degrees, but if you want your coffee cooler, it's adjustable.

 It's even programmable!!! When it brews, it can be a little bit noisy, but that seems to be the only downfall of this machine so far.

Let me warn you now...there are literally thousands of K-Cups and brands out there.  I personally, don't like strong coffee, so the two above are my favorite.  I strongly suggest that you try out all of the samples that come with your machine before purchasing a case of these things.  There were some varieties of coffee that I thought, "Hey, Emeril's picture is on that, so I bet it's really good."  Wow, was I wrong.  My favorite of these two is the Donut Shop and I did score a super deal for a case of 50 of them on 

Do you own a Keurig machine?  What do you like or dislike about it?  What K-Cups do you use?
Leave me a comment!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Slow Cooker Country Ribs

We usually us our "fine china" (a.k.a. paper plates) when
Bill is doing the dishes!  lol!
My husband loves ribs.  Bill and our nephew, Austin, have often tried to out eat each other on them, but usually Uncle Bill wins.  They especially love the ribs from Montana Mike's.  For dinner tonight, I decided that we would have some deviled eggs, sweet corn out of the freezer and some slow cooker country ribs that have cooked all day while I was at work. 

I purchased about 4 pounds worth of Country Style Ribs at our local Aldi store and seasoned them with a meat tenderizer, salt and pepper and let them sit in the fridge over night in a covered container.

Before I went to work the next morning I put the ribs in the slow cooker, and put about 2 tablespoons of minced onion on top of them.  (You can use fresh onion, but I decided I wanted to use minced today).

Then I poured a small bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's over the top.

This is going to be good!

Then just a touch of brown sugar on top for sweetness.

Cook on low for 6 hours and you have ribs that you can cut with a fork! 
This picture really doesn't do them justice!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Procession

What a day.  Had a three hour meeting right off the bat at work, computer problems, then lunch.  My wonderful husband picked me up for lunch for none other than farm work!  Ugh.  Regardless, we were still able to spend time together and in this crazy day and age, that is important. 

While we were eating our lunch, a funeral procession went by.  Now, I don't want you guys to think I have a thing with death - I mean at some point, we will all expire, but I was brought to have respect for my elders and proper funeral etiquette.  As this funeral procession headed north, all the cars in both the south bound lanes pulled over and stopped.  Bill and I quit talking and watched in silence as the procession went by, knowing that these people were about to bury a loved one.

The entire funeral procession took maybe three minutes.  It did my heart good to see people pull over and show not only respect, but compassion for this family.  Three minutes isn't a long time in the hustle and bustle of life.  We all have things to do and places to be, but that family will never get that loved one back or forget that all those cars were nice enough to let them by.

Additionally, I believe that you should pull over for the police, ambulances, funeral processions, fire trucks and volunteer fire fighters.  These service members are trying to save lives, fight fires, or help in some way.  LET THEM BY!  I have never understood why people don't pull over.  I've pulled over and had cars go around me because I pulled over to let an ambulance by.  Seriously!

I guess this is a pet peeve of mine.  Do you feel the way that I do?  Does your community handle things differently?  I know parts of the world do things opposite of the Hoosier state. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Eggs Anyone?

This is one of my beautiful Barred Rocks!

On our farm, we have around 100 chickens that we keep.  It started out as a hobby and has grown into a passion.  I enjoy hearing the roosters crow in the morning, the hens clucking as they're laying and just watching them peck around in the pasture or the barn.  They are fascinating creatures!  Not to mention a source of food for eggs and meat.

We usually take our chickens in for processing once a year.  I like to keep the flock fresh and I enjoy having meat that we raised in our freezer.  We only have two roosters on the farm and the rest are hens (females).  It is wonderful to have farm fresh eggs for breakfast when we want them and for cooking.

This is a batch of eggs that was washed and cleaned today.
We have chickens that lay brown, white and green eggs.
Potato salad, egg salad, ham salad...any salad that uses eggs is a staple at our house.  We eat eggs daily.  There is a misconception about eggs not being healthy for you, especially when it comes to your cholesterol, but that is really not the case.  According to the American Egg Board, "...eggs are lower in cholesterol than previously recorded. The USDA recently reviewed the nutrient composition of standard large eggs and results show the average amount of cholesterol in one large egg is 185 mg, a 14 percent decrease. The analysis also revealed that large eggs now contain 41 IU of Vitamin D, an increase of 64 percent."  They ARE good for us!

Growing up, I can remember my grandma and grandpa getting up at what seemed like 3 A.M. to start cooking breakfast.  It was a hillbilly breakfast and we ate it everyday.  Grandpa would start the coffee and begin frying the bacon while grandma made the buttermilk biscuits.  After the bacon was done, the eggs would be cooked over easy and then the gravy would be made from the leftover bacon grease.  It was heavenly!  Then we'd have an small glass of orange juice, a small cup of milk and our Flinstone vitamin.  Life was good! 

Now that I'm married, I can't cook a hard egg.  My husband loves for the yolk to be busted and cooked that way, but I just wasn't raised that way.  I can only cook my eggs scrambled or over easy.  I don't want the yolk busted.  In fact, I make myself an egg sandwich every once in awhile.  I gently toast two pieces of bread, put a little Miracle Whip on it, and then stick my egg in there.  That first bite, the yolk busts and yummy is it good!  And of course, I have to sop up the yoke with my bread.  Bill thinks it's gross, but I enjoy it.

The yolk is the yellow portion of the egg.
It contains most of the vitamins, minerals and fat
from the egg!

The Incredible Edible Egg has numerous egg recipes that you can try!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Delicious BBQ Meatballs

I'm not a big meatloaf fan, but I enjoy meatballs.  They're similar, but you can jazz them up more.  Several years ago in a Taste of Home magazine, I found this recipe and have never strayed from it.  They are always a crowd pleaser at potlucks and church events.  Give them a won't be disappointed!

1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c quick cooking oats
1 t salt
1/4 t garlic powder
1.5 #'s ground beef
1 (5-oz) can evaporated milk
1/2 c finely chopped onion
1 t chili powder
1/4 t pepper

1 c ketchup
1/4 c chopped onion
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1/4 t garlic powder

In a bowl, combine the ingredients listed above.  I use my
hands and mix the ingredients until well blended.  Be sure
to mix well!!!

After mixing the ingredients, shape into 1" balls.  I like to use
a cookie dough scoop.  It keeps all the scoops even. 
Place the meatballs in a greased 13x9x2" baking dish.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 18-30 minutes or until
meat is no longer pink.  I often turn the meatballs in the pan
halfway through baking so they cook all the way through. 

About 5 minutes before the meatballs are done, combine the sauce ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
When the meatballs are done cooking and no longer pink, drain the grease (I actually put my meatballs in another dish so I can avoid any and all grease).  Pour the sauce over the meatballs and bake an additional 10-12 minutes longer.



Monday, June 4, 2012

To Be a Kid Again

This is the "Twin Mill" and it was a beauty!
Last week, I was able to go on a field trip with a group of 4-H members to the Indianapolis Children's Museum.  It was so much fun to see all of the different attractions and to watch the kids eyes light up when they saw something they found fascinating.  I had a group of boys, so needless to say, we spent a lot of time in the new Hot Wheels For Real Exhibit.  Here, the boys got to play with Hot Wheels cars, draw them, race them, see life size versions of was AWESOME!  I even fell in love with my own Hot Wheels car - the "Twin Mill."

We also visited the Lego Travel Adventure where we built our own Lego travel vehicle in a competition against other teams, played in a huge cock-pit of Lego vehicle and saw different Lego artworks from the past. 

Dinosphere was really cool too.  The boys were fascinated by the displays and kept asking me if dinosaurs were really real and if the bones on display were real.  Good thing for me, the Children's Museum actually had specialists on hand showing fossils and answering questions.  What a relief. 

There were many other displays that we visited, but these were their favorites.  If you have children and come to Indianapolis, I encourage you to make this one of your stops.  Your kids will love it!

According to their web-site, "We (the Indianapolis Children's Museum) pride ourselves on being a top tourist attraction for family vacations. So if you're planning a Midwest vacation this summer, make sure The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is on your list!"

Friday, June 1, 2012

It's a "Scotch-A-Roo" Kind of Day

We have a friend at church that always makes these delicious Rice Krispie type of treats with melted chocolate and butterscotch on top.  They NEVER go to waste and it's a great treat to take to the guys when they're in the field and want something sweet.  Give them a try.  I know you won't be disappointed!!!

Chocolate Scotch-A-Roos
1 c white sugar
1 c light corn syrup
1 c creamy peanut butter
6 c Rice Krispie Cereal
1 12-oz pkg chocolate chips
1 12-oz pkg butterscotch chips

See the pictures for directions:

Cook the corn syrup and sugar in a 6 quart dutch oven
until sugar dissolves.  I didn't have a dutch oven, so I used
this pot instead.

Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter until the
mixture is all blended.

Add the cereal to the mixture above and mix well.
Be sure that all of the cereal is coated with the peanut butter mixture.

Once mixed, spread the cereal mixture into a buttered 13x9"
cake pan.  I use a kitchen scraper with a little bit  of butter
on it to spread it.  Makes it really easy!

Set aside your cake pan and mix your chocolate and butterscotch
chips together and melt them in the microwave.  Be sure to check
it frequently and stir each time until the chips are completely melted.

Once the chips are melted, spread them on top of the cereal mixture
and let cool.  Once it has cooled, cut, serve and ENJOY!!!