Cherry Pie Pops

Cherry Pie Pops
One last farm related treat before I wrap up all the festivities, and that’s these Cherry Pie Pops. Homemade pie is such a perfect All-American staple, I knew I had to have it reflected in my Farm Table. But there was no way I was letting 20 kids loose in my house with plates full of cherry pie. These pie pops were the perfect solution. All of the tastiness of pie, but somehow I made it through the entire party without any cherry stains on my rugs!

Step 1
Since I was in time management mode, I used a pre-made refrigerated dough. If I was serving this to grown ups I’d make my own, but either way you just roll your pie dough out as normal. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out as many pieces as you can.

Step 2
Line the pieces up on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and press a lollipop stick down into the dough.

Step 3
Spoon some pie filling into the center. I actually kind of overfilled the pies in the picture. You want to be able to get that top piece on.

Step 4
Use a fork to pinch the edges of both pie crusts closed, then cut a couple of slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Since there’s a lot of crust to a smaller amount of filling than usual, I gave the crusts a little touch of water and then sprinkled them with sugar, just to up the sweetness a bit more.

Pie Pops
When it comes to the epic cake vs. pie debate, I’m a member of team cake. But if we’re talking cake pops vs. pie pops, these win, hands down.

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Corn Cob Marshmallow Treats

Corn Cob TreatsWith Easter behind me, I have to get back to showing you all the ideas I had for Atti’s farm themed birthday party. The party was a success for Atticus, but also a big success for me since I got to go nuts with the snacks and live out all my Pinterest dreams.

popcornWe borrowed a popcorn machine from Bear’s work and had popcorn popping all day. The goats were BIG fans of this one.

Orange PumpkinsA few other ideas were simple things I saw online. These orange pumpkins popped up all over the place, and so did serving potato chips and chex mix under the names “wood shavings” and “chicken feed” respectively. I’d link to something if I could find an originator, but everything I found just has people saying “I saw this online.”

But these Corn Cob treats are all mine, and I’m obsessed with them.

Step 1If you’ve ever made rice krispie treats, you know how to make these. I followed the instructions of the back of the marshmallow bag and melted together 3 T butter and the contents of one bag of marshmallows.

Step 2Then stir in 6 cups of Kix cereal and keep stirring until each little ball is coated in marshmallow.

Step 3Scoop the goopy covered cereal out onto parchment paper, making little handful sized mounds. Let these cool down until they’re not too hot to touch.

Step 4When the cereal treats are cool enough to touch but while they’re still warm and malleable, give each mound a squish to get it thoroughly stuck together but also to shape it into a corn cob shape. Just a long oval will do, you don’t need to put much thought into it.

Step 5For serving, and to finish the look, put each treat into a cellophane serving bag. Give the top of the bag a twist and tie it closed with green raffia to make it look like a husk.

Not only are these treats about the cutest things ever, but making them with Kix instead of Rice Krispies really changes the taste. There’s more cereal compared to marshmallow, so they’re not so cloyingly sweet. They disappeared embarrassingly fast. Like, Bear may or may not now posdess a blackmail picture of me double fisting these while my mouth is already full. I have to remember to stay on his good side now.

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Haystack Cookies….or Birds Nest Cookies!

Birds Nest Cookies
This is a two for one recipe. The only difference is which theme your party treats need to fit. If you’re throwing a farm birthday like I did for Atticus, then these are Haystack Cookies. If you’re looking for an adorable little treat to bring to Easter dinner, than these are Birds Nest Cookies. Either way they are crazy delicious. In the words of my friend Noelle, they taste like dehydrated funnel cakes.

Step 1
All you gotta do is melt some chocolate. I prefer to use a double boiler method, which is really just a bowl on top of a saucepan full of water. You can do it in the microwave if you feel strongly about it, but I find it not worth the convenience when you can’t control the temperature and end up burning it half the time.

Step 2
Then you just stir in a bag of crunchy chow mein noodles. As always, my measurements are *super* precise (sarcasm). I used a bag of chocolates and a bag of noodles, and just stirred and stirred until everything was coated.

Step 3
Drop spoonfuls of chocolaty noodles onto parchment paper, giving them a little squish so they’re touching enough to get stuck together as the chocolate dries.

Haystack Cookies
If you’re theme is farm or harvest, congratulations! You’re done! These were such a hit at Atti’s birthday, I thought these up at the last minute and yet these were the treat that had people questioning how my brain works. Store them in a ziplock or cookie jar and they’ll keep for ages.

Step 4
To transform the cookies from haystacks, just press down in the center to make a little dent.

Step 5
Then, using a little more melted chocolate if you need to in order to make them stay, add a few Cadbury Mini Eggs on top to complete the look.

One of the things I dislike about making food fit a theme is that you often sacrifice taste for adorableness. Have you ever eaten the fondant that cake decorators use to make all those gorgeous cakes? Bleck. Give me a plain looking buttercream frosting anyday. This is one of the very few times I can say with all honesty, this cookie is so delicious I’d make them even if I didn’t have a themed party to throw. But when I do? You better believe these will be on the table.

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Crock Pot Swiss Steak Pot Roast

Swiss Steak Pot Roast
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This was one of the very first recipes I ever shared here on the blog, but in the years since I first posted it I’ve fine tuned the recipe and figured it was time to add photos and video. Gosh I’ve been doing this for a long time. Everything has changed.

How I came up with this recipe is another of my favorite stories. On the phone with a friend we were trading recipes and I wrote down both her pot roast recipe and her sloppy joe recipe, but didn’t label anything. So when I next went to make a pot roast I accidentally came up with this concoction – a pot roast with a spicy tomato based gravy full of onions and peppers. Which is pretty much what swiss steak is. Except mine is spicy and delicious and cooks up in the crock pot with barely any work.

Crock Pot Swiss Steak Pot Roast
Pot Roast
Potatoes
Carrots
Celery
1 onion, small diced
1 green pepper, small diced
2 T butter
1 small can tomato paste
1/4 C brown sugar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
hot sauce to taste

In a hot and dry pan, sear all the sides of your pot roast until it’s got a lovely golden brown crust. Meanwhile, roughly chop the potatoes, celery, and carrots and toss them in your crock pot. When your pot roast is fully seared, nestle it on top of the vegetables in your crock pot.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the diced onion and peppers. Saute until soft and the onions are translucent. Pour the onions and peppers out on top of the meat.

Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients to make the sauce. Add a little water to thin the sauce as necessary, especially if you’re cooking a lot of vegetables or a huge hunk of meat. Pour it into the crock pot and add water if needed to cover the vegetables. Close the lid and cook until the veggies are tender and the meat falls apart with a fork.

This recipe is one of the many reasons I’m a believer in making mistakes. I never would have come up with this without totally screwing up.

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Herbal Caramel Chocolates

Herbal Caramel Chocolates
When I was a kid we used to make those microwave wilton chocolate candies for everything. We’d pull out the box full of molds my mom had stuffed in a back cabinet from the week she decided she was going to take up chocolate making, we’d rescue some ancient chocolates from another pantry, and we’d laboriously paint with melted “chocolate” to make little gobs of something that tasted like wax. All the fun was in the making, but now that I’m older and snobbier about my chocolate, I want to make something that is worth the trouble. I’ve been intimidated by chocolate but there’s really no need. It’s way easier than I believed. You just need a thermometer.

For my filling I wanted to make an herbed caramel. Some of my favorite Chocolate Artisans (that’s what they call themselves) make caramels infused with rosemary and lavender and brandy and a whole bunch of other not sweet concoctions. So far, the weirder they are the more I like them, so I had to try my hand at my own version.

To add a flavor to the caramel there are a few different ways you could go. You could just chop up bits of whatever and toss it in and you’ll get a crunchy texture, or you could infuse it by melting the butter and then soaking the flavor item in the butter until it took on the flavor, or you can just go straight to adding a few drops of flavored oils – making sure they’re food grade of course. I tried a few options and I found the oil almost fool proof, while the other ways took more finesse than I seem to possess.

Caramel Filling
4 T butter flavored as desired
1/2 C half and half
1 C brown sugar

Over a gentle heat let this all melt together, whisking frequently. Don’t let the sugar burn or the milkfats cook. When it gets to be the consistency of a good caramel sauce, take it off the heat and let it cool.

Meanwhile, prepare your chocolate. If you just melt it and mold it it will taste fine, but if you want that beautiful shiny coating the fine chocolates have you want to take the time to temper your chocolate. This just refers to a heating process that creates the most preferable texture, and has to do with how molecules line up. It’s a simple three step process.
1.)In a bowl that sits over a pot of water, you melt the chocolate until it’s about 115 to 120 degrees.

2.) While stirring, add unmelted chocolate pieces until it cools down to around 81 to 83 degrees. Remove any chocolate pieces that remain unmelted.

3.) Return the bowl to the heat and bring it slowly back up to the working temperature – 86 – 89 degrees.

When your chocolate is tempered pour it into the molds. After much watching of youtube videos, I found that the paintbrushes I used to use as a kid are for suckers. The better way to get a coating on the molds is to fill it up completely, then flip the mold over and let it drain onto a rack or back into a bowl. You’ll get a beautiful thin even coat. Let that set up thoroughly.

The caramel needs to be cool enough to not melt through the chocolate and warm enough to pour. Room temperature is ideal. Fill the molds up, but resist the urge to overfill it. Top with more chocolate and use a metal spatula to scrape off any excess and leave the clean edge.

I was not super clean when I was making mine, I went through a whole lot of trial and error to get the caramel flavorings down and I just had no more patience for doing things the right way that day. But I still found the experience pretty empowering. Chocolate making isn’t that hard, you guys! If you passed seventh grade chemistry, you can totally make beautiful shiny chocolates.

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Apple Peanut Butter Bars

Peanut Butter Apple Bars
With only a few days before Christmas, it’s time to abandon plans for elaborate home made gifts for everyone from your mother to the mailman and go to the fastest gift of all – food. A plate full of sweet treats is part of what makes the holiday so much fun, so if you haven’t knitted a scarf for your neighbor or crafted an elaborate picture frame for your hairstylist, a plate of cookies is the way to go.

I came up with this recipe based on one of our favorite evening snacks – a fresh apple cut into pieces and dunked into peanut butter. I’d take those two flavors together even over peanut butter and chocolate, but you rarely see them together. So I had to fix that. If you don’t have any apple butter available or don’t feel like making any, you can sub in your favorite jams.

Apple Peanut Butter Bars

1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C white sugar
1/2 C butter
1 C peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 C flour

1 C apple butter

Cream together the sugars, butter, and peanut butter. Add the egg and vanilla and mix together, then add the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Set aside about 1/4 of the dough.

Butter and flour a casserole dish, then press the remaining dough into the bottom until it’s covered evenly. Poke a fork into the dough all over to give the steam somewhere to escape to so the dough doesn’t puff up. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Spread the apple butter over the cookie layer. If your apple butter is thinner than jam you might want to cook it on the stovetop for a while to thicken it up so the bottom cookie layer doesn’t get too soggy.

Take the reserved dough and crumble it over the top of the apple butter layer.

Bake at 350 for another 15 minutes. Let cool and cut into squares.

Apple Peanut Butter Bars
I made these for Bear’s work party and when I pulled the first batch out of the oven I was debating whether or not I should make more or if one would be enough. I brought a piece over to Bear and Atti and the tore it apart like cookie monster. I ended up making two more batches, so you might want to plan ahead.

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Creamy Corn Chili Dip

Creamy Corn Chili Dip
I had a pretty great weekend, filled with party after party, all at my house. Which means that as the week has gone on, I’ve been eating party leftovers every day. I think my cheese addiction has gotten a little out of control, but I regret nothing.

Parties are always a fantastic excuse to break out the food I love but can’t really eat on a daily basis (like spinach artichoke dip. How do you call that a meal? (Hmm…note to self: make that a meal)) but with having so many parties right on top of each other, it gave me an excuse to branch out and find even more food I love but shouldn’t eat daily. This corn dip is a fantastic option if you love the creamy goodness of spinach artichoke dip, but get a bit bored with the ubiquity. The corn gives a sweetness and the chilis add a punch of brightness. I could eat this for a week. Oh wait, I have.

Creamy Corn Chili Dip

2 bricks of cream cheese, softened
2 cups corn, cooked
1/2 cup milk
2 cups shredded romano cheese
7 oz can diced green chilies

I used frozen corn, because it’s convenient, so if you do to, defrost it before including it in the rest of your ingredients. Toss all the ingredients together and heat for two minutes.

Serve with tortilla chips, veggies, or bread. Makes enough to serve a crowd. Or one.

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Creamy Chicken Crepes

Creamy Chicken Crepes

Creamy Chicken Crepes


I really kind of can’t believe I haven’t blogged this recipe before. This has been a part of our family repertoire since before we were a family. It was, like, the *one* “fancy” thing my mom ever made and each of us daughters adopted it when we launched our own domestic efforts. My mom had an electric crepe maker appliance, something like an inside out frying pan you’d dip into the batter, and one sister got one as her most cherished wedding present. Another sister made this so frequently that when I, newly married, called for the recipe, she recited it from memory. In our early married years I made this so often and in such abundance that we got thoroughly sick of it and I haven’t made it in years. Which is probably why I haven’t blogged it. But today is the day. Today is the day I reclaim this part of my history and share it with all of you.

How to make crepes

How to make crepes


Contrary to how I was raised, you don’t need a special crepe maker appliance to make crepes. If you can make a pancake you can make a crepe. In the same pan. Mix up the batter and get the pan medium hot. I like to use a smallish skillet that heats evenly. Coat the pan with non-stick spray – butter is better but you only need a very little bit – and pour a little less than a 1/4 cup of batter in. Unlike pancakes, you don’t just dump the whole amount in the center and let it spread. To get it as light and thin as you want it you have to make it spread. I start pouring the batter in at one side and pour it as thin as I can, trying to get it all around the skillet. Then I tilt the pan to make a solid surface – no gaps or holes – and to use up any batter that is pooling anywhere. You can even use a knife or a spatula to help this process if you’d like, but once you make a couple of wonky shaped crepes you’ll get the hang of it.

Crepes for dinner

Crepes for dinner

Creamy Chicken Crepes

2/3 C mayonnaise
1/3 C flour
4 C milk
3 C jack cheese, divided
2 C cooked and chopped chicken
1 green onion, chopped
1 large jar pimentos

Crepes
2 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
6 eggs
4 cups milk

Whisk together the crepe ingredients and cook as explained above.

Melt the mayonnaise in a pot and when the oil is released add the flour to make a roux. Add the milk a cup at a time, stirring to incorporate the roux and remove any lumps. Add 1 1/2 C cheese and stir until it melts. Add the rest of the ingredients.

Fill the crepes and roll them up. Place in a 9 x 13 casserole dish and top with the remaining sauce and cheese. Bake at 350 until cheese on the top is browned.

If you hate mayonnaise you can always use regular butter to make the roux, but then you’ll want to be thoughtful in seasoning. The mayo adds a great tangy kick that a regular bechamel sauce doesn’t have.

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Recipe: Plantains Fried in Browned Butter

Plantains Fried in Brown Butter
I’m known to be rather…well, “excitable” is the word we use in our family. I scream, I clap, I jump up and down, I have a laugh that shakes the rafters. There’s really no mistaking how I feel about something, especially if I’m enjoying it, and I don’t really have a public filter (which I think is pretty obvious if you’ve been reading here for more than a week).

Bear and I went to a Cuban restaurant once where I ate plantains served with sour cream and onions and the yummy noises I was making were apparently so ridiculous that the waitress started joking with me. But I couldn’t help it. I was discovering a taste that was brand new to me and I was savoring every morsel. It was worth a little embarrassment.

Plantains are common in a lot of South American and Caribbean cooking, but since I’m not familiar with those traditions I just saw the weird green banana looking things at the grocery store and shrugged my shoulders at them. Not anymore. It’s got a freshness like a cucumber as you’re peeling it, and then when you eat it it’s like a banana and a potato had a beautiful starchy baby with just a hint of sweetness. But unlike a potato it cooks up so fast that you can get the rich browned butter flavor on it and it’s cooked before the butter turns black.

Plantains Fried in Browned Butter
1 plantain, peeled and sliced
2 T butter

It really is this simple: Melt the butter in a saute pan and let it heat until foaming and brown. Toss the plantain rounds into the butter and let it cook for 30 seconds or a minute. Flip, cook for 30 or so more seconds, then remove from the butter.

I like to eat mine with sour cream and green onions, just as I had it in the restaurant, and sprinkled with a little chili powder. But the possibilities are endless. They’re like unique little french fries, you could dip them in anything that tastes good.

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Recipe: Winter Root Vegetable Gratin

Winter Root Vegetable Gratin
This picture is from our Thanksgiving meal last year and it’s been sitting on my hard drive all year waiting to be seasonally appropriate again. I brought a friend with me to our family Thanksgiving, which meant that she was responsible for contributing a side dish. But since I am a bossy friend who loves to cook, I made her buy the vegetables and then made it myself.

Last year I was OBSESSED with parsnips. I still am, they are woefully underrated, but last year I was putting them in every single dish. So when it came time to come up with a Thanksgiving side dish, I decided to go with my obsession and top it. I pulled out every underrated winter vegetable, threw them in a dish, poured cream and cheese over the top, and called it heaven.

This recipe, like most of mine, is really flexible. I just started chopping vegetables until I couldn’t fit any more in the dish, grated cheese between each layer and more on the top, and poured on as much cream as I could without it overflowing. So basically, what I’m telling you is that my measurements are guesses and you should embrace this recipe as the free form experiment it is.

Winter Root Vegetable Gratin

3 Parsnips, sliced
2 Rutabegas, sliced
3 Turnips, sliced
2 Leeks, white parts only sliced
1 pt heavy cream
1 can chicken broth
2 Cups gruyere cheese, grated
salt and pepper

Rub butter around the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish. With all the vegetables washed and sliced into rounds – a food processor makes short work of this – start layering them into the dish one vegetable at a time. Between each layer sprinkle salt and pepper, and some cheese. Save half the cheese for topping. Keep going until your dish is full, saving the leeks for the top layer. Pour in the cream and chicken broth. Cover the dish with tinfoil and bake at 350 for an hour or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the tinfoil, top with the remaining cheese, and bake until the cheese is melted and crispy.

This dish was my favorite kind of “make it up as you go and see what happens” kind of recipe, and was such a huge hit that my family is already double checking that it will be there again this year. One of these days I’ll learn to measure as I go.

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