G.F. Ranch

The beginning of His vision

I’m Dreaming of a Fresh Thanksgiving 

So earlier this year Bug and I stopped at the feed store that carries chicks and we usually go and look at them. Well, they had turkey chicks. I asked the woman when we should get them for Thanksgiving and she said ‘now’. Ohhhhh. 

I proceeded to call Hubby, who was out on the rig. I don’t think I caught him at the best of times so he wasn’t very warm and fuzzy about the idea.  

“We have no place to put them” he said. Actually, they can go in with the chickens. Even though I told him we would absolutely respect his answer of yes or no, I think he knew we really wanted one. And by one, I of course mean at least 2. I don’t like our animals to be lonely. 

He did say yes and Bug named them Apple Pie & Dumpling Sauce. It’s so cute the way he says their names. 


Needless to say they have grown quite a bit. Hubby thinks they will be ready to butcher next month when he gets home. 

We think they might both be females, but honestly we really don’t know. Not sure if it really makes a difference except that males tend to get bigger. 

I have had fresh, farm raised chicken and there is a huge difference in taste. So I am very excited to taste one of these for Thanksgiving. 

Sadly, hubby won’t be home for Thanksgiving this year. I have invites some family up but not sure if they will make it. If they don’t, I’m not making a turkey. And in my whole life if I have turkey for Thanksgiving, I REFUSE to have it for Christmas. Honestly doesn’t matter if I had it for Thanksgiving or not, I’ve never had it for Christmas. I just refuse! But I promised Hubby turkey (and ham) for Christmas since he will be home. I just love & respect him that much!



And that is our sweet Grace who adopted us. She had 4 legs when she found us and a few weeks later she got caught in a trap. That was such an emotional and horrible night!! But she was our gift from God and had to save her! 

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Cravings

Let me start off with….NO I am not pregnant.  But a few nights ago I got hit with a sweet tooth and a craving for a candy bar.  As I’ve said before, it’s 13 miles to the ‘corner store’ plus it was about 8:30 at night and they close at 8.  I tried to focus on the TV show we were watching but mentally I was trying to figure out what I might have in the cabinets that would satisfy my craving.  Ohhhhh, I had an idea.  I was pretty sure I had the fixin’s to make Almond Joys.  Everything except the almonds, so I made Mounds.

This is where I would normally insert a photo of what ended up being extra-large Mounds, except, honestly, they looked like bug turds. But they tasted wonderful!!! I will share the how I made them with you though.  Because seriously that is more important than the picture!

2 1/2 C unsweetened flaked coconut (I just used the whole bag)

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (I just pour, but it should be somewhere around 1T)

pinch of salt

20 oz (about 1 1/2 bags) of semi-sweet or dark chocolate.  Use the good stuff!

7 ounces sweetened condensed milk (I had a 14 oz can and used 2/3 of it.  Might be because I used a whole bag of coconut. But felt that’s what I needed to hold it together)

In a bowl, stir together sweetened condensed milk, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Stir in the unsweetened coconut. The mixture will be thick. Placing the mixture in the freezer for 30 minutes makes it easier to work with.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and remove the coconut mixture from the freezer. With clean hands shape one tablespoon of coconut (or more if you want to make bigger ones) into a small log about 2 inches long and 3/4 inch thick. Press the logs together tightly so they stay together when dipped. Place the logs on the lined baking sheet and continue until the coconut mixture is gone. Your hands will get VERY sticky, but it’s so worth it.  Just rinse them off as needed. I put the baking sheet back in the freezer while I melted the chocolate. Ha!  I forgot to put chocolate in the ingredients; I need to correct that!

Place two inches of water in a  medium pot and bring the water to a simmer. Place chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl and place the bowl over the simmering water. Stir the chocolate as it melts and turn the burner off once the chocolate has melted but keep the bowl over the hot water.

I had to mix and match a few things of chocolate and didn’t have much of the good stuff.  What I really was hoping I had was dark chocolate, but sadly did not.  But it is on my shopping list.

Bring the coconut logs from the freezer. Place a coconut log on a fork and lower the fork into the chocolate to coat. Lift fork and gently shake to release some of the chocolate. Scrape the bottom of the fork along the side of the bowl and place on the lined baking sheet. A toothpick may be handy to help get the candy off the fork. Repeat with all logs. If the chocolate thickens, just turn on the burner on and heat slightly.

My chocolate mixture was thick to begin with.  I even added just a small amount of coconut oil to it in hopes it would thin a little.  I also knew my family would not mind a thick coat of chocolate.

I put the baking sheet back into the freezer for about 10-15 minutes.  It’s as long as I could wait.  Note to self…do not give an extra-large Mounds bar to your 12-year-old at 9:15 pm! After leaving the rest in the freezer for about another 20 minutes, I transferred to a pint size bag and put back in the freezer.  I like my candy bars frozen (Hubby, not so much), but if you don’t I would suggest maybe using waxed or parchment paper to separate the layers and store in the fridge.

I will definitely be making these again, in about 5 weeks.  Hubby is getting ready to go back to the rig and I really need him home to share the calories with me!

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Carrot-Thyme Soup with Cream

I think Bug is officially souped-out!!  Pretty darn close to being there myself.  But at least he can say Momma cooked more than usual while Hubby has been gone, lol.  This was by far the easiest soup to make.  But it wound up in the category of ‘it’s good, but not our style’.

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Picture via The Pioneer Woman

I will probably serve it as a side dish to a main meal rather than as a meal in itself.  Perhaps I will get motivated to make mini bread bowls to serve it in.  Ha! Perhaps.

Yes, this is another recipe from the Pioneer Woman herself.  You can find the recipe HERE.  If you like this style of soup, I would bet you will love it.  Perhaps it’s just that we miss meat and are getting veggied out?

I know this is short, but waiting for the plumber to get here.  I won’t go into more details as it isn’t a pretty situation.

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Corn Chowder with Chilies

Bug and I finished lunch shortly ago and all we can say is “YUMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!”.  Going through our recipes from The Pioneer Woman, I decided to make the Corn Chowder with Chilies before the corn-on-the-cob went bad.  Super easy recipe, especially since we had to skip the bacon step again.  Ohhhh, just stopped for a minute to imagine how much better it will be when we can add bacon.

My cobs were a bit on the small side and decided to add a drained can of kernel corn to it.  There is definitely a different taste between fresh and canned.  But I was shopping for them at about 10 p.m. while exhausted.  Didn’t think to get more fresh ears.

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The only other difference was I left out the can of diced green chilies.  After the 7 Can Soup fiasco, I wanted to play on the safe side.  The chipotle peppers did a fine job adding a little kick (but not too much), and I love the smokey flavor of them in the adobo sauce.

Bug really liked this one!  And I believe hubby will too, so this is definitely going into my recipe binder!

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Tomato Soup with Parmesan Croutons

I may be souped out by next week, but it’s okay.  We are eating for now plus have some in the freezer for a no-cook meal!  As I said before, Bug does not like tomatoes.  I will always fondly remember when he was around two; we stopped at a local corner store to get some local honey and they had a big display of tomatoes as you walked in the door.  As I was getting the honey, I hear’ewwwww’ and the sound of spitting…profusely.

The tomatoes were such a bright red that he thought they were apples.  Thankfully he was so young, otherwise I don’t think the clerk would have been as understanding about my child spitting all over the floor.  I cleaned the floor, paid for the honey…and tomato, then headed home.

I thought perhaps Bug would like this Tomato Soup with Parmesan Croutons (Pioneer Woman) since he will eat ketchup and spaghetti sauce, but nope, he didn’t like it.  So he chose to have a salad and some leftover Cheesy Cauliflower soup for dinner.

I on the other hand, very much enjoy tomatoes.  I was that crazy kid in elementary who had 13 stewed tomatoes on their tray because no one else liked them.  And my ex-Mother-In-Law looked at me weird as I would ask to have a jar of  stewed tomatoes she & Nannie canned.  She would ask what I wanted it for and I would say, ‘to eat of course!’ And I love me  some homemade tomato soup.  It is just delicious!  I followed the recipe for the most part with the exceptions of using dried parsley rather than fresh and I added some parmesan rinds I had into the soup as it simmered.  That was a tip I learned years ago about getting all the flavor out of them before throwing them away.

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I tried taking a picture of my bowl of coup topped with shredded parmesan, a leaf of basil and parmesan croutons that did not turn out nearly as pretty as Ree’s. But the lighting in the house is lacking and the pictures looked horrid.  Don’t know if I could have even photoshopped them to look decent. So, here is one of Ree’s pictures.  She is definitely better at blog photos than me.

 

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Cheesy Cauliflower Soup

I just made a couple of no sew beanies for my great-niece’s birthday presents and the fabric adhesive I used has given me a heck of a headache!  So to take my mind off of it, I decided to do another blog post.  That is if I can keep focused.  If not, I’ll go play a game and come back in a little while.

A couple years ago I found The Pioneer Woman.  I like her!  She’s simple, funny and I can just relate to her. I would also love to have her kitchens and cookware! Although I’m sure much of what you see was set up as props for filming, I have heard many complain it makes her seem unreal.  Why do we feel the need to find negativity to complain about????

Matter of fact I had recently purchased a couple items from her new line.  I LOVE my measuring cups!!!!  The only thing that would have made them better was if I could have gotten them in turquoise rather than red.  But I still love them! I also received a box of kitchen gadgets from Bug & Hubby for Christmas.  It was a very sweet surprise! And a few of the items were from her line too.  They know me so well!

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The next piece I want is her 7 quart dutch oven!  I think it’s adorable how she includes 2 knobs for her lids.  A plain boring one and an adorable butterfly one.  The pretty one would definitely be on my lid!

 

Our second soup we made during our fast was her recipe for Cheesy Cauliflower Soup.  Sadly we had to skip step one!  Everything taste better with bacon….okay, almost everything.  But I followed the rest of the recipe.  I also used my immersion blender and blended it 2/3 the way as she suggested.  However, neither Bug or I liked the texture of the soup.  We ate it, enjoyed the flavor but choked down the texture.

After it had cooled most of the way, I put it in the blender (in batches.  Heed her warning about not putting too much in at a time.  My last batch had a hair too much and it spit out the corners.) to get it smooth.  Much better!!!  Even Bug liked it way better today too.  I put a small amount back in the fridge for leftovers and put 3 quart sized bags in the freezer.  Along with 3 bags of the 7 Can Soup as well.  I really love cooking big and having some to freeze so I don’t have to cook to eat it later.

Really not sure if I would make it again though.  Maybe with some sausage or bacon in it, just maybe Hubby might like it.  Will find out in 3 weeks!

FYI…I made it through the post without running off, but my head still feels lousy.  Thinking a big glass of water and head to bed.

 

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Still Using Them

Even though my cooking has improved TREMENDOUSLY over the past decade, I still turn to  recipes to inspire me and at least get me started.  I say that because I do not very often follow a recipe 100%, unless it’s one of those that if you don’t, it will be a complete fail.  Often when looking for a recipe for a particular item, I will compare 2 or 3 recipes and then create my own somewhere in the middle.

As I said in a previous post, I have been craving soup and since we have the Daniel Fast going on, figured it was perfect timing.  So now I have recipe reviews for you beyond just cleaning products.

The first day Bug and I made 7 Can Soup that I found over on The Pioneer Woman website.  I could have let Bug made it by himself and it would have probably came out better.  I added extra spices (cumin and chili powder) that was probably completely unnecessary with the rotel and green chilies.

Of course, we had to adapt the very first ingredient. Daniel Fast = NO MEAT!  So we used 1/2 of a large can of refried beans I had on hand.  Bug & I love them, Hubby not so much (or any bean for that matter), so it was a good thing he is offshore.  I also didn’t have any kidney beans ready for use and not in the mood to wait so we substituted a can of regular corn in addition to the mexi-corn.

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Via The Pioneer Woman

Bug didn’t enjoy the spiciness, but other than that he liked it.  I put a large dollop of sour cream in mine, as well as 1/2 an avocado.  Some fresh diced tomatoes would have finished it off for me perfectly.  Bug hates tomatoes (but likes spaghetti and pizza sauce & ketchup????) so I don’t normally get any tomatoes beyond what a recipe calls for.  And lucky for him, I’m making homemade Tomato Soup tonight!  The joys of being the cook!!!

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Daniel Fast

Our church is doing a corporate Daniel Fast for the next 3 weeks.  That means 3 weeks of no meats and sweets. Hubby is offshore so it is just Buggy & I.  My niece and 2 great-nieces will be visiting during it as well.  Hope Mak loves my veggie chili as much as she loved my regular chili (for a little girl who eats like a bird…she went back for thirds).

I love soup and have been craving it.  Haven’t been impressed with the taste of canned soup for a long time so I went hunting for recipes.  My first go-to site is almost always The Pioneer Woman. I have yet to make a recipe of hers that I haven’t loved.  Her ingredients are ‘normal’ and they are easy to create. And can’t forget the adjective ‘hearty’.  Maybe it’s because she lives on a ranch too.  Would love to sit and have a cup of tea with her.

So, I have printed out my recipes, made my shopping list and now trying to figure out when we will go to the store. When you live 30 minutes from town (including the one you live in, lol) it takes planning.  It takes 15 minutes just to get to the ‘corner store’.

I’ve already told Bug he will be helping to cook many of these soups.  I love to incorporate real life experiences to his school days.  I remember seeing a thing on Facebook about the best test to see if you’re a control freak…bake with your children.  LOL, I FAIL!!!  I conclude I am a control freak.  I do tend to just do it myself and get it done quicker BUT my son also deserves to learn how to cook.  And as a parent, we often have to put aside what we like or what is easier for ourselves and do what is right for our children.  At least, that’s how it should be.

Just wanted to give you a heads up of what you can expect to see in the upcoming recipe reviews.

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Meal Planning Made Easy

Last week I shared with you my favorite homeschooling app.  This week I want to share a meal-planning program that I LOVE!  I was able to sign up for a 30-day FREE trial before we made our move.  I found the program so easy to use, add recipes from online, and with the drag&drop, meal planning was a breeze.  Being able to edit as needed and print out my shopping list was just that easy.  The program I’m talking about is Plan to Eat.

The grocery list is especially important to me now as there is NO such thing as a quick trip to the store when the closest store is 30 minutes from the house.  

On many websites the recipe is saved in my recipes with a quick click of the mouse.  But if for some reason it doesn’t auto-load, it still takes under a minute to copy and paste. 

So if you’re like me…

  • Desperate to become organized and efficient
  • Need things planned out
  • Easily forgets to write than one ingredient on the shopping list
  • Lives far from the store

…then this is a must try for you!  What do you have to lose? Try it for a month.  If you don’t like it, you have lost nothing.  You may have even gained a new recipe or two to try.  But if you love it, as I do, then a years subscription is very affordable.  I paid $39 for a full year of making my life easier.  Occasionally you can catch it on sale for 20% off, bringing it to $31.  Or you can pay just $4.95 a month.  

Some of the features….

  • Drag & Drop Meal Planning – The menu planner is at the heart of Plan to Eat. Easily drag recipes from your recipe book to create your personalized meal plan, and then add additional ingredients, events and notes. Save existing meal plans from your planner as menus, then drag them back to your menu planner to simplify future planning. View nutritional totals, change servings for individually planned recipes, easily view and print menu plans and export your planner‘s iCal feed to other calendar software.

  • All Your Recipes — Plan, Cook, ShareKeep all of your recipes in one place with your Plan to Eat Recipe Book. Plan, cook and share your recipes anywhere on any device. Import recipes from any website using our super simple import bookmark. Quickly search and filter your recipes by multiple criteria like ingredients in your pantry, tags or how often you’ve planned them.
  • Mobile Grocery Store Assistant – Simplify your grocery shopping with the Plan to Eat mobile site. Use it to access your shopping list from your smartphone and check off items as you go. No more pen and paper needed! Search and plan recipes, view your menu planner and add new items to your shopping list on the go.

I just learned about that last feature myself.  Loving this program that much more now!  Try it out and let me know what you think.

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