Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Tradition #3 from the pigpen

Even though I'm already talking about Christmas tradition #3, I can't believe tomorrow will be December 1st.   How is it possible that we are 25 days from Christmas?

Any way, Christmas tradition #3 is decorating the Christmas tree.

The Farmer and I both grew up in houses with a live tree and we had a live tree the first couple of years of our marriage.  In fact, I can remember bundling up Big Sissy for her first trip to the Christmas tree farm when she was only over a month old.  However, we lived in a very small rental house the first three years of her life and once she was able to walk, we had a very tiny space for a tree.  So we went the pre-lit artificial route that year and havent' looked back until this year.

This pigpen's tradition is to start decorating our house and Christmas tree the Sunday after Thanksgiving when we get back from visiting my family for the Thanksgiving weekend.  Everything was going as planned this year until I got the tree out of the box and all set up.

After plugging in the tree, this is what I got....

a partially lit up tree.

Now this is not the first time I have had this problem.  Two years ago, none of the lights came on, but after shaking it quite hard for quite some time all of the lights came on and down the road we went.  Last year when I first plugged it in, the entire middle section of lights did not come on so I added a strand of lights and we were back in business.  So this year when only part of lights came on, I was slightly depressed.

I shook the tree.  I unplugged and replugged in the tree several times with no luck.

I wondered if this was a sign that we should go back to a real tree.

I decided to wait to talk to The Farmer before making any decisions and I'm glad I did.

After some discussion, we decided to get a new pre-lit artificial tree and since The Farmer gave me the go ahead I went ahead an ordered a new tree on Sunday night from Home Depot.  (We ordered from Home Depot as we had a store credit to use and liked their online selection.)

When I ordered the tree, they said it would take 3-5 days for shipping after 1-3 days of processing.  Well much to my excitement, the box was sitting by the door when I arrived home tonight.

Now I just have to find time to decorate the tree.

Are you a real tree or artificial tree family?


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Big Sissy's Pumpkin Fluff

I have to admit I have done a lot of Christmas shopping and decorating the last few days.  So much that it is almost hard to believe that Thanksgiving was just a few days ago.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  We were able to spend Thanksgiving Day with The Farmer's family and then headed north to spend the rest of the weekend with my family.  I even squeezed in some Black Friday shopping with my mom and sisters and we took the family to see the new Muppet Movie and created a whole new generation of Muppet fans.

Before I completely move past Thanksgiving, I wanted to share Big Sissy's pumpkin fluff that she made for Thanksgiving.  Now Big Sissy can be a picky eater and I never pegged her to be a fan of pumpkin, but ever since she tried Gal in the Middle's pumpkin chocolate chip muffins she has been a huge fan.  In fact we made some of Miss Megan's muffins for Thanksgiving as well.

Pumpkin Fluff
16 oz. can of pumpkin
8 oz. container of Cool Whip (we used fat free)
6 oz. container of vanilla instant pudding mix
1 t. pumpkin pie spice

Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and blend.

Serve with regular or cinnamon graham crackers or sticks.

I don't know what she calls this face. :-)


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey: Two Ways

When Ott, A from a Latte with Ott,A announced turkey was the secret ingredient for her November Iron Chef Challenge, I immediately thought of two different recipes that could work.  These recipes both came to mind as they can be made in less than 10 minutes each and always receive rave reviews from the pigpen.  Additionally, they can be made with turkey breast from the deli case or with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving or anytime you make a whole turkey or turkey breast.

So I decided I would go ahead and share both recipes with you as we all know we will be looking for many different ways to serve up the leftovers from Thanksgiving come Friday.

First up is my semi-homemade Turkey Manhattans.  Now, you can make this recipe as homemade as you want or as semi-homemade as you want.  At this pigpen, we usually go the semi-homemade route as it is hard to beat a delicious comfort food that can be made in less than 10 minutes.

Semi-homemade Turkey Manhattans
White Bread
Turkey Breast
Mashed Potatoes

When making semi-homemade turkey manhattans, we use turkey breast from the deli case, Bob Evans Original Mashed Potatoes from the refrigerator case, and Heinz's Home Style Roasted Turkey gravy in the jar.  

Prepare your mashed potatoes in the microwave as instructed.  (This takes approximately 6-7 minutes.)

Heat your gravy on the stove top.

Place one piece of white bread in the middle of your dinner plate.

Add the desired amount of turkey breast.  Then heat the bread and turkey up in the microwave oven for about 30 seconds.

Add the desired amount of mashed potatoes and then drizzle with the desired amount of gravy.

And you are ready to eat one yummy meal.

The second recipe I'd like to share is for a Cranwich.  My mother-in-law made these when she used to work at a local tea room as their chef and it has become a treat for our family when she makes them.

Brownberry Whole Grains Health Nut Bread
Whipped Cream Cheese
Chopped Walnuts
Sliced Swiss Cheese
Turkey Breast
Leaf Lettuce
Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

Chop walnuts and set aside.

Take one piece of bread and spread whipped cream cheese all over one side.

Sprinkle chopped walnuts over the whipped cream cheese.

Add a slice of swiss cheese.

Add the desired amount of turkey breast.

Top the turkey with a piece of leaf lettuce.

Spread the whole cranberry sauce on one side of another piece of bread.

Assemble the sandwich.

Cut into 4s and serve with a toothpick inserted into each fourth.

This sandwich is a real treat as it puts a real twist on a traditional turkey and swiss sandwich.

Hopefully these recipes have given you something to think about as you  stare down your Thanksgiving leftovers and think of quick and easy weeknight meals that just hit the spot.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Christmas Tradition #2 from the pigpen

It is no secret that we love to bake at this pigpen when we can find the time.  As if the Christmas season wasn't already busy enough, we try squeeze in lots of baking in the coming month.  From puppy chow AKA reindeer chow to peanut butter balls, we love to bake during the Christmas season.

This is a tradition I picked up from my amazing mother-in-law.  Usually during the month of November and December, she bakes up a storm of Christmas cookies that we then share with family and friends in addition to our family farm's landlords.  (We rent some of our farm ground from local land owners that don't farm themselves, but want to keep their land in production agriculture.  This arrangement is really a win-win for all as it allows them to retain ownership of their farm ground without having to farm it themselves and it allows us to farm more ground without having to own it all.)

My mother-in-law usually makes around 10 different kinds of cookies.  Many are the same cookies she made the year before, but each year we do try to find a new recipe.  This is one reason why I was so excited to be a part of The Real Farmwives and Friends In the Cookie Kitchen partnership with Gooseberry Patch as it allowed me try out a new recipe, Graham No-Bake Cookies.

Big Sissy gave them a big thumb's up!
After all the cookies are made, we package them up in cute containers and then deliver them around the countryside.  This is a really fun family tradition and one that I'm glad my mother-in-law shares with me and the kids.

So Christmas Tradition #2 is baking Christmas cookies for our family, friends, and landlords.

What is your favorite Christmas cookie?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Bubby's Big Week

It's been a big week for Bubby.

Yesterday, he lost one of his top front teeth

and gained a completely new smile and part of a new Christmas wish.

Today, Bubby turned 6 and celebrated all day long.  (On a side note, where has the time gone?  I mean how can my Bubby be 6.)

He took donuts to his class this morning.  My father-in-law AKA Pop Pop picked him up from school and took him out to eat for pizza for lunch.  And tonight, we had an impromptu family celebration at the Mexican restaurant complete with a homemade cake from my mother-in-law AKA Gamma.

So we all sang Happy Birthday and Bubby made a big wish before blowing out his candles.

Here's to hoping all his wishes come true!

Linked to the following Wordless Wednesday parties:


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Christmas Tradition #1 from the pigpen

I realize Christmas is still 45 days away, but I must admit with the first sighting of snow today I'm starting to get in the mood.  Now that doesn't mean I'm ready to decorate my house, but I have surfed the radio stations a few times looking for a good Christmas song as I love Christmas music.

Any way, I thought in the days leading up to and after Christmas, I would share some of my favorite family Christmas traditions with all of you.  Some have been passed down to me by generations before me and others are ones that we started right here at the pigpen.

Christmas pajamas are tradition #1.

I don't know where I got this idea, but every year since Big Sissy's first Christmas I have bought the kids a new pair of Christmas pajamas for them to wear on Christmas Eve.  They love putting on their new pajamas on Christmas Eve and, selfishly, it ensures that the kids looks pretty good in their Christmas morning pictures.  (Their hair can often be another topic, but at least they are dressed in something that matches as opposed to some of Big Sissy and Bubby's random pajama concoctions.)

I try to coordinate the pajamas as much as I can, but this is getting harder and harder with Big Sissy getting older.  (I can't believe she is 9.)

Today I stopped by Gymboree as I had a return to make and it must have been meant to be as they were having a sale on their Christmas pajamas.  I was able to pick up a pair of coordinating pajamas for Big Sissy, Bubby, and Little Sissy for $12.99 each.  The icing on the cake was I still got a refund after I purchased all 3 pairs of pajamas and made my return.

Now I can't wait to give them their new pajamas on Christmas Eve and capture their smiling and happy faces on Christmas morning.

What Christmas traditions does your family have?

Monday, November 7, 2011

A favorite appetizer from the pigpen

It is no secret that we eat a lot of pork around this pigpen.  As pig farmers it just comes with the territory.

A couple of years ago when I was pregnant with Little Sissy our great friends Troy and Stacy from South Dakota came to visit us.  We had a blast, but when it came time for dinner, The Farmer thought he would just prepare an array of pork dishes for our friends.  Since he was cooking, I didn't want to complain, but I was a little embarrassed that our menu consisted of bacon, pork burgers, sausage patties, and pork chops.  Now don't get me wrong, I love each of these items and serve them a lot at our pigpen, but usually not all at the same time.  The Farmer thought he would just showcase several of the items we had in our freezer and that he did.  And he did buy a bag of potato chips to go with it so what more could I want.  Needless to say it was all very good and filling and has fondly been referred to as Porkapalooza.

Well a couple of weeks ago, we were lucky enough for Troy and Stacy to visit us again.  As soon as The Farmer knew they were coming, he immediately starting making plans for Porkapalooza 2.  I didn't completely want to ruin his hopes, but I told him I would help with a menu.

Our menu consisted of one our favorite pork appetizer, lettuce salad, fresh fruit, and Cheesy Ham Potatoes which seemed to be a little bit more balanced than the original Porkapalooza.

It was so much fun to be able to spend some time with our amazing friends and Troy even helped make the appetizer which was like having a celebrity guest chef in my kitchen so I thought I'd share the recipe for one of our favorite appetizers.  I don't even know what it is called, but we will go with Wrapped Smokies.

Wrapped Smokies
2 packages of Lit'l Smokies
1 pound of bacon
Brown Sugar

Cut each strip of bacon into 3-4 smaller pieces.

Wrap each lit'l smokie with a piece of bacon and use a tooth pick to hold the bacon in place. (You will probably run out of bacon before you do lit'l smokies.)

Place wrapped smokies onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper

When the cookie sheet is full of wrapped smokies, sprinkle brown sugar all over the wrapped smokies.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes as you want the brown sugar to start to dissolve/melt and form a sauce and the bacon is browned.


Tip:  I have put these in the crock pot to keep warm for serving as they need to be eaten warm.

Hunk of Meat Mondays


Friday, November 4, 2011

Farmer Fridays - 2011 Harvest Season


Well Harvest 2011 is not quite in the books for us yet as we still have a couple hundred acres of corn to shell, but the end is definitely in sight.  I thought I would share some of my favorite photos from this year's harvest season for today's Farmer Fridays.

And remember Big Sissy shared some of her own earlier this month as she shared her view from the combine with us.

And just because our real harvest is almost over, doesn't mean Bubby's harvest is over.  He is planting and harvesting crops year round in our house.

Don't be alarmed by the red equipment.  He is a John Deere boy 100% just ask Miss Liz, but he will use whatever people will give him. 

Please feel free to ask me any questions you might have about our harvest season.
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