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Life is too short to eat bad food! Sharing great recipes, farm life, stories and photography from our Northern California dairy farm.

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December 30, 2011

New Year's Day Cocktails

Loaded or not, a Bloody Mary is a fun way to begin the new year.  If you're serving up a New Year's Day brunch, this is one drink you might enjoy adding to your menu.  Or if you're into a sweet tasting drink, another all-time favorite of mine is the Gin Fizz made with ice cream~

photo courtesy google image

Bloody Mary

•4 cups tomato juice (preferably Campbell's)
•1 cup dill pickle juice
•1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
•1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
•2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
•2 teaspoons curry powder
•1 teaspoon kosher salt
•1/2 teaspoon celery seeds or celery salt
•1/4 teaspoon black pepper
•2 cups vodka
•8 celery stalks
•8 lemon wedges


Combine first 9 ingredients in a large pitcher. Chill overnight.

Add vodka to pitcher; stir well. Fill tall glasses with ice. Divide Bloody Mary cocktail among glasses. Garnish each with a celery stalk and a lemon wedge.

*This Bloody Mary recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit's version.

Another New Year's Day favorite is the Gin Fizz....

photo courtesy Bon Appetit


Citrus-blossom syrup

•2 cups water
•2 cups sugar
•1 tablespoon loosely packed fresh lemon verbena leaves (optional)
•1 orange
•1 lemon
•2 teaspoons orange-flower water extract


•6 cups ice cubes, divided
•1/2 cup gin, divided
•1 cup vanilla ice cream, divided
•4 large egg whites, divided
•4 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
•Freshly ground nutmeg
•Fresh lemon verbena sprigs (optional)

•Market tip:
Lemon verbena is sold at nurseries and some farmers' markets.


For syrup:

•Mix 2 cups water, sugar, and lemon verbena, if desired, in medium saucepan. Using vegetable peeler, remove peel (colored part) from orange and lemon; add peel to saucepan. Bring sugar mixture to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes. Cool completely. Stir in orange-flower water. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

For drinks:

•Combine 6 tablespoons syrup, 3 cups ice, 1/4 cup gin, 1/2 cup ice cream, 2 egg whites, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in blender. Blend until smooth and foamy. Divide among 4 glasses. Repeat with 6 tablespoons syrup and remaining ice, gin, cream, egg whites, and juice. Sprinkle drinks with nutmeg; garnish with lemon verbena sprigs, if desired.

Have a fantastic, safe and sane New Year's holiday! 

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December 29, 2011

TT w/Linky: Sibling Rivalry or Best Friends Forever

What ever happens in life, the one thing I wish for my kids is for them to remain best friends for a life time.  Sure, at the stage they are at now, ages five and seven, they want to beat each other to a pulp most of the time but they are partners, playmates, school mates and confidants some of the time as well.

A sibling is like having a best friend you can't get rid of.

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December 28, 2011

Time Crunch Dessert

The week leading up to Christmas, I found myself totally strapped for was literally non-stop activity in our household.  My plan was to bake my Brownies From Scratch recipe but when I realized all of my butter was stored in the freezer, I quickly needed to come up with Plan B.

Duncan Hines to the rescue.

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December 27, 2011

Salted Caramel Cookies ~ As Promised

Last week I posted about our Healthy Cooking Group's annual cookie exchange gathering and how my favorite of the evening were these, to die for, Salted Caramel Cookies.  I now have the recipe and as promised, I'm sharing with you!

These would be perfect to share at a New Year's celebration!

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December 26, 2011

Sisterhood of the Traveling Basket

As many of you know, I’m a member of the Real Farmwives of America, a group or “sisterhood” of 20 farm women from across the nation. This holiday season we teamed up with Longaberger to do some charitable deeds. We are taking the concept from the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and putting a farm wife twist on it.

Longaberger donated a medium sized  chore basket to the Real Farmwives of America to travel across the country to be used for whatever charitable endeavor we have chosen on an individual basis. Once the deed is complete, the basket is passed on to the next farmwife to do the same.

The journey of the traveling Longaberger basket began in Ohio with Jane from Going Jane, moved on to Indiana to Amy from a latte’ with Ott, A. and on to North Dakota to Val of Wag n’Tales and now on the final leg of its journey it ends here, in California with me.

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December 23, 2011

BOTW ~ Hot Apple Cider with Rum!

It's almost here!  Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Food, family, friends, loved ones, drinks, parties...all things good.  To help celebrate, here's Emeril Lagasse's Hot Apple Cider....the adult version, with RUM.


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December 22, 2011

Healthy Cooking Cookie Exchange ~ Peanut Brittle Recipe

Just the other night I attended my Healthy Cooking Group's annual cookie exchange.  I always look forward to this event as it always takes place in the month of December.  Danielle hosted it this year and her house was absolutely beautifully decorated for Christmas. 

The idea is to bake a healthier version of a favorite Christmas cookie, bring two dozen to the party and share with everyone else.

Chocolate, flour less cookie....a clear favorite.

Coconut macaroons, light and fluffy.

Peppermint Meringues that taste just like a candy cane...

Kristi's family recipe of Honey-Comb Peanut good!  {recipe below}

And my favorite......Salted Caramel cookies.  I seriously needed to step away from the cookie platter after I tried one of these!  I'm still waiting for the recipe to be emailed and when I get it, so will you!

Chocolate Gingerbread cookies....simple and delicious.

Then it was time to collect cookies to bring home.  I think I ended up with five pounds in my container.

Honey-Comb Peanut Brittle

3 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
8 oz. red-skin Spanish peanuts
1 T baking soda

Butter two cookie sheets and place in refrigerator.  In a large heavy saucepan mix together the sugar, corn syrup and water.  Using a candy thermometer, cook on medium-high heat to 275.  Add peanuts and stir.  Cook on same heat til thermometer comes up to 300, then remove from heat, remove thermometer and add 1 T baking soda.  Stir immediately until candy has turned to light brown, then pour onto buttered cookie sheets to cool.  After candy is cooled, break up in desired pieces and store in air tight container.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to leave a comment. I love to hear from you! Have a fantastic day!

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December 21, 2011

TT with Linky: On The 4th Day of Christmas ~ Healthier Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies

One of  my all-time favorite Christmas cookies is the Mexican Wedding Cake Cookie.  How can you go wrong with butter, sugar and flour?!  I feel good about being thankful for these cookies on this Thankful Thursday!

I had my Healthy Cooking Group annual Christmas cookie exchange party this week and wanted to try a 'healthier' version of the Mexican Wedding Cake Cookie.  I think the difference between this recipe and the original is eliminating half the amount of stick instead of two.

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December 20, 2011

On the 5th Day of Christmas ~ Seven Layer Cookie

As part of our Christmas cookie baking tradition here on the ranch, one of the recipes that is baked every year is this Seven Layer Cookie and there's nothing low fat about this one.  You can throw it together in a few minutes and even can create your own layers according to your taste.

This year we used semi-sweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and toffee bits.  But you can put together a mint chocolate chip with white chocolate chips, etc.

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December 19, 2011

On the 6th Day of Christmas ~ Family Traditions

Christmas is almost upon us.  My kids are excited....mostly for presents, but I know in 20 years what they are really going to remember is not the toy that was under the tree, but the family traditions that will be embedded in their memories for a lifetime. Creating memories for my kids to carry on, into the generations to come is what is most important to me.

This past Saturday, one of our family traditions took place here on the ranch at my in-law's house.  A day of Christmas cookie baking with four generations in the house, flour was flying on this day. 

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December 16, 2011

On The 9th Day of Christmas ~ Baked Nacho Platter

Who wants to cook on a Friday night?!  Go for the Nachos.  Cheese, avocado, black beans, add some lean ground beef and call this dinner.


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December 15, 2011

On The 10th Day of Christmas ~ Mini Crab Cakes with Lemon Dill Aioli

On this 10th Day of Christmas......Mini Crab Cakes with Lemon Dill Aioli.  Time to take advantage of crab season!  We live about 30 minutes from Bodega Bay and when crab is in season, I'm all over it.  Crab is probably one of my top 10 foods to eat, I can never get enough!
photo and recipe courtesy Safeway
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December 14, 2011

TT w/Linky: On The 11th Day of Christmas ~ Baked Parmesan Dip

On the 11th day of Christmas came, Baked Parmesan Dip.  This is another easy, go to recipe that would please anyone at a Christmas party.  It's all about the cheese for me.

photo and recipe courtesy Safeway
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December 13, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Recipes ~ Caprese on a Stick

The count down has begun.....the twelve days of Christmas is here, can you believe it?!  I've only bought one present so far, the kid's school is super busy with activities and events, we have around six more Christmas parties to attend and I need some easy to put together recipes to bring to these upcoming parties.

I shop at Safeway the majority of the time so I went to their website for some inspiration.  I'm sharing my finds with you.

On the first day of Christmas comes Caprese on a Stick. How festive looking is this?! 

photo courtesy Safeway


  • wooden skewers
  • grape tomatoes
  • fresh mozzarella cheese
  • fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper


Cut the basil and cheese into small pieces.

Arrange on wooden skewers.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Salt and pepper to taste. 

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to leave a comment. I love to hear from you! Have a fantastic day!

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December 12, 2011

Top 10 Tips WhenTraveling With Kids

Traveling with kids can be both fun and challenging.  Having a list of traveling priorities from both the kids and myself seemed to help on this recent trip to Nevada.

The top 10 list is ever changing with many of our trips but keeping the following things in mind when booking a trip help to keep things running {almost} smoothly....

1.  Come snow, rain, sleet, or summer, a pool is a MUST on any get-away.  And to keep mama happy, a hot tub is required.

This past week, the family attended the California Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting which was held in Sparks, NV at The Nugget Hotel and Casino.  They have a fabulous indoor pool area where the temperature in the room itself stays at a warm and balmy 98 degrees.

2.  The hotel room must be at the 20th floor or higher, which leads to long elevator rides....another favorite.

3.  Having plenty of things to climb on, ride on and play on is something to look for on any trip.  

4.  Okay, this one wasn't on the kid's list but it was on in the room to do the school work we brought with us since they were missing three days of school for this trip.

5.  Easy access to plenty of ice cream.

Sugar high, soon to arrive....

6.  Schedule or just find plenty of keep-busy activities such as the in-house arcade or shaking heavy cream to make our own butter at a farm convention....

 7.  If there is a grand dinner scheduled, I learned that having dessert sitting directly in front of the dinner plate from the start is a great motivator to finishing dinner.

Especially when it looks like this........

8.  Being two of the six or seven kids in this entire room of adults for a two hour dinner and presentation was not as challenging as I had anticipated.......bringing along the ipod touch was a good call.

9.  Ending the evening with a magician who handles fire torches was definitely a winner for both Bryce and Paige.

10.  And at last.....NEVER, EVER cry {or swear} over spilled milk.......even if half of it ends up in your purse, covering your cell phone and camera.......just ask the cocktail waitress for a Madras instead.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to leave a comment. I love to hear from you! Have a fantastic day!

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December 9, 2011

BOTW ~ Baked Brie with Pecans

It's Christmas party season!  We have five or six to go to in the next few weeks leading up to Christmas and for two of them I'll be bringing an appetizer to share.  My 'Best of the Web' feature for the week is this super easy and very tasty baked brie with toasted pecans by Martha Stewart will be coming with me to one of the parties.....can't EVER go wrong with baked brie.

I could make a meal out of this and a glass of old vine Zin.

Photo courtesy Martha Stewart

Toasted pecans and maple syrup complement the creamy Brie in this hors d'oeuvre. For the best texture, let the cheese cool before topping it with the syrup mixture. 


  • 1 small wheel of Brie or Camembert (about 9 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces
  • 3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • crackers or sliced baguette, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cheese on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until softened, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate; cool about 20 minutes.
  2. While cheese cools, place nuts on a clean baking sheet; bake until toasted and fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle nuts over cheese.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and maple syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat; simmer until foamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Drizzle warm sauce over slightly cooled cheese and nuts; serve with crackers or baguette.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to leave a comment. I love to hear from you! Have a fantastic day!

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December 8, 2011

Got Oysters? Wanna Keep Them Around?

Are you an oyster fan?  The situation that is currently happening in West Marin at Drakes Bay Oyster Company, a family farm, will impact you whether you live locally or across the United States.  The letter and information that follows was put together by my friend, Nancy Gates, with Marin County Farm Bureau.  I hope you will take the time to read through it.  Thank you!!

Photos courtesy Google Image

Dear family, friends and colleagues across the country,

As most of you already know, through my work as a director of the Marin County Farm Bureau I've joined a community of advocates of sustainable farming and ranching policy. Today, there is a threat in the form of a controversial attempt by the National Park Service to shut down Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC), a family-run oyster farm currently operating in the Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS). 

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December 6, 2011

Inside Out Lasagna

This title is fitting for the current trip I'm on to Sparks, NV for the annual CA Farm Bureau annual meeting.  If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you then know some of the complications I've encountered while here.  Another complication has just popped up {although I'm not surprised}....I'm not able to upload my Sparks photos to a blog post, for who knows WHAT reason.  So I'll fill you in on the Sparks trip when I arrive home and for now, to go with what feels like my inside out, upside down trip, here's some Inside Out Lasagna...

Inside Out Lasagna

Photo by Eating Well

Here we take basic lasagna ingredients—ricotta cheese, pasta and tomatoes—and skip the layering and long baking time to make a super-quick and satisfying meal for the whole family. To cut down on prep time, look for presliced mushrooms. For meat lovers, brown some crumbled sausage along with the onions and garlic. Serve with: Steamed broccoli and whole-grain baguette.

4 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each
Active Time: 25 minutes


8 ounces whole-wheat rotini or fusilli
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves cloves garlic, sliced
8 ounces sliced white mushrooms (about 3 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs
8 cups baby spinach (make sure this is dry}
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese


1.Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

2.Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms release their liquid, 4 to 6 minutes.

3.Add tomatoes, spinach and crushed red pepper (if using). Increase heat to medium-high; cook, stirring once halfway through, until the spinach is wilted, about 4 minutes.

4.Toss the sauce with the pasta and divide among 4 bowls. Dollop each serving with 3 tablespoons of ricotta.

NutritionPer serving: 364 calories; 9 g fat (3 g sat, 4 g mono); 14 mg cholesterol; 0 g added sugars; 16 g protein; 7 g fiber; 588 mg sodium; 786 mg potassium.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to leave a comment, I love to hear from you!. Have a fantastic day!

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December 5, 2011

Pie Dough for your Pie Hole ~ 4H Cooking

We just kicked off our 4H cooking group meeting this past weekend; a group of 10 kids and one Junior Leader {my niece}, Morgan.  Remember the Mini Apple Pie I shared with you a few weeks ago, well that's what my co-leader and I taught these kids, but instead of the pre-made pie dough I used, we used homemade pie dough.

Homemade pie dough is THE way to go.  What a difference!  Flaky, buttery goodness.  The pie dough recipe is from the cookbook, America's Test Kitchen and it's super easy to throw together.  Your pie hole will be very happy.

As a Junior Leader, Morgan helped Paige and cousin Leila measure out the ingredients.

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December 2, 2011

BOTW: Holiday Hopper Cocktail

My 'Best of the Web' this week was inspired  by a text message I received containing the word Grasshopper.  It had me envisioning a Grasshopper cocktail and I like a good Grasshopper, but wanted to find some sort of moderation to the age old classic.

Consider the Holiday Hopper a Grasshopper with a twist. What Midori {more specifically Mixologist Victoria Damato-Moran} has done is taken one of the more popular "martinis" and added their liqueur for this melon background that is really quite interesting and makes a far better cocktail. As with the Grasshopper, use white creme de cacao because the brown makes the finished drink look like some sort of sludge, which is unappealing, visually.

Photo courtesy of Midori
Holiday Hopper

•1 oz Midori melon liqueur
•1/2 oz green creme de menthe
•1/2 oz white creme de cacao
•2 oz half and half
•mint leaves for garnish
•raspberry for garnish


1.Pour the ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice.

2.Shake well.

3.Strain into a cocktail glass.

4.Garnish with a mint leaves and a raspberry.


Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to leave a comment. I love to hear from you! Have a fantastic day!

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November 30, 2011

TT with Linky: Service Animals ~ Guide Dogs for the Blind Field Trip

On this soon to be Thankful Thursday, I'm thankful for the service animals that help us in our world.  Today I'm not talking about our beautiful bovines, but these adorable, intelligent pups that have a HUGE responsibility to tend to.

But first, I can safely say, planning a field trip the Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday is a win-win situation.  The kids get to roll gently back into the school routine after a few days off and we were the only field trip/tour group at Guide Dogs for the Blind....we had the place to ourselves!

Our tour began in a classroom type setting with our guide, Alex, who immediately took a liking to Paige because she reminded him of his grand daughter.  She got a little special treatment that morning.

In the classroom presentation we learned about the history of Guide Dogs for the Blind and how every guide dog trained in this facility is born on the campus.  The pups stay with their mothers for about a month then they're moved to the 'nursury' for another month.  Once a puppy reaches two months old they are delivered to  host families, mostly 4H families who live within the eight western states until they reach 14 months old.  During their time with the host family, they are handled with love and just get to be puppies.

At 14 months they are picked up by one of the many Guide Dogs for the Blind vans and brought back to the Guide Dogs campus in San Rafael, CA where they begin their three month training to become a guide dog.
Only half of the dogs that go through the training course graduate as a guide dog. 

There is currently a very long wait list to adopt the 'career change' dogs that don't graduate to Guide Dog status.

The guide dog campus has dorms large enough to house 28 blind people who come from all over the U.S. and Canada for their own three week training course before going home with a guide dog of their own.  All costs are paid for by Guide Dogs for the Blind.

The 2011 operating costs for Guide Dogs for the Blind were, or will be $36 million dollars....all donated money.  Amazing, right?!

In the photo below we were lucky enough to see a blind person on his first day of guide dog ownership training.  The trainer, in the red shirt, is holding a guide dog harness and pretending to be a guide dog and the trainee is learning how it feels to be guided by him.

This guide dog trainee walked right through our group without becoming distracted at all....good boy!

Alex, shows us some new born pups with their mother on the web cam.

And then we had the pleasure to meet a few pups.  SO cute.  No one is allowed to pet, or touch them other than their handlers. 

We all wanted to snuggle with these adorable pups....

In the wash room, something special happened.

This guide dog, who was being blown dry after a bath was ready to come out.....

and since he wasn't in his training harness, we were allowed to pet him....he loved it and so did we.

Pretty soon, it was time to end the tour.

Time to say bye.....

But not before we got one more unexpected puppy fix out in the parking lot.

To learn more about, volunteer, donate or find out how to get put on the 'career change' adoption wait list go to: 

Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to leave a comment. I love to hear from you! Have a fantastic day!

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