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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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October 31, 2012

Last Minute Halloween Dinner~Mummy Dogs

Halloween night is hurried, busy and non-stop evening for most families.  Definitely a good idea to fill the tummies with something other than all the candy that's laying around before the trick-or-treating begins.  I found this Pillsbury recipe online today that I know my kids would love.....

Mummy Dogs.

recipe and photo courtesy Pillsbury

Super easy to make and great finger food to serve.  Pair it with some 'Witches Brew' punch and some carrot sticks and dip and you're ready for a night of trick-or-treating.

Mummy Dogs

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls or 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations refrigerated seamless dough sheet
2 ½ slices American cheese, quartered (2.5 oz)
10 large hot dogs
   Cooking spray
   Mustard or ketchup, if desired

·         1 Heat oven to 375°F.

·         2 If using crescent rolls: Unroll dough; separate at perforations, creating 4 rectangles. Press perforations    to seal. If using dough sheet: Unroll dough; cut into 4 rectangles.

·         3 With knife or kitchen scissors, cut each rectangle lengthwise into 10 pieces, making a total of 40 pieces of dough. Slice cheese slices into quarters (1/2 slice cheese, cut in half).

·         4 Wrap 4 pieces of dough around each hot dog and 1/4 slice of cheese to look like "bandages," stretching dough slightly to completely cover hot dog. About 1/2 inch from one end of each hot dog, separate "bandages" so hot dog shows through for "face." On ungreased large cookie sheet, place wrapped hot dogs (cheese side down); spray dough lightly with cooking spray.

·         5 Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until dough is light golden brown and hot dogs are hot. With mustard, draw features on "face."
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October 30, 2012

Salted Caramel Cookies

I first tried Salted Caramel Cookies last December at a cookie exchange party and I totally fell in love with them.  They are SO, SO good, I love the perfect combination of the sweet with the salt.  I haven't tried to bake them, {for fear of eating the entire batch} until a few days ago. 

Because there is nothing healthy about these cookies.


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October 29, 2012

Coffee Frosting topped Best Brownie

My boy, Bryce, who just turned 8 this past Saturday is not a fan of cake, or cookies....he would rather have nothing than choose to eat a piece of cake or a cookie, so birthday parties can become a challenge when thinking up an appropriate dessert to  make the Birthday Boy happy.

Bryce LOVES brownies.  I haven't used a box brownie mix in a few years now and it's all because of this recipe for Easy Best Brownies, made from scratch, they are not only super easy to make, but are so much more delicious than the boxed mix variety.  Topping them with a dab of Coffee Frosting, also super easy to make from scratch, was the ticket for Bryce's 8th birthday party.

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October 25, 2012

"BOTW" Pumpkin Fudge

I have an overabundance of canned pumpkin taking up room in my pantry right now.  I completely stock up this time of year, so when I found this recipe for Pumpkin Fudge, online, it is now next in line for me to try.  I hope you'll enjoy it also!

Recipe and photo courtesy MidWest Living

Lower in fat than traditional chocolate fudge, I think it'll be a winner in my house.

Best of the Web:

Pumpkin Fudge
cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
5 1/3 - ounce can evaporated milk (2/3 cup)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
12 - ounce package (2 cups) butterscotch-flavored pieces
7 - ounce jar marshmallow creme
cup chopped pecans
teaspoon vanilla

1.    Butter a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Set aside.
2.    In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine sugar, butter, evaporated milk, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
3.    Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat. Boil over medium-low heat until mixture registers 234 degree F (soft-ball stage) on a candy thermometer, stirring constantly (about 25 minutes).
4.    Remove from heat and stir in butterscotch pieces until melted. Add marshmallow creme, nuts and vanilla. Mix until well combined.
5.    Pour mixture into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Cool at room temperature. Cut into squares. Wrap tightly and store in refrigerator. Makes 3-1/4 pounds.

Nutrition facts
Sat. fat (gm) 2, Cholesterol (mg) 5, Fat, total (gm) 3, Sodium (mg) 21, Calcium (mg) 10, Carbohydrate (gm) 10, Vitamin A (RE) 72, Calories (kcal) 73

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October 24, 2012

Thankful Thursday Easy Halloween Treats

If your kids are like mine, they love marshmallows.  They'll eat them, one after another right out of the bag if I let them.  I normally only keep them stocked in the house during the summer months for s'mores or during Halloween and a few other holidays.

Marshmallows are a ton of fun to decorate.  Just pop one on a popsicle stick and choose the icing color of your choice and go at it.  

For Halloween I stuck with basic black for a spooky look.  I know my kids are gonna love them when they see them after school today.

This is a great activity for a school Halloween/Harvest party or as an after school fun project with your kids! Get creative and use a variety of, green and bloody red would be some ideas for Halloween.

Link up with anything you’re thankful for! And if you’re not a blogger, just let us know in the comment section what you happen to be thankful for on this day
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October 23, 2012

Girl Scout Rodeo

Being that Paige is the only girl in her entire one-room school this year, I try my best to ensure she gets enough 'girl time' outside of school.  This past weekend it was all about Paige...from her last soccer game and end of season soccer party to the Girl Scout Rodeo we attended.

The Girl Scout Rodeo was a last minute add for us.....the event needed a cow for exhibition and I had two girls that were so wanting to go but I didn't get them registered before the cut-off day.  It all worked out, they got their cow and I was able to register two anxious cowgirls.  

After Emma, our resident 'lap cow' {heifer} was loaded into the trailer, the girls and I headed over to Novato Horseman's for the event.

Once arriving at the event, Paige was SURE she could unload Emma, who happens to be a pregnant almost 2 year old heifer, from the trailer all on her own.......but she had to settle on feeding her the hay and finding the hose to fill her water bucket instead.  Once Emma was settled, Paige and her friend, Hailey, began their day with around 75 other eager Girl Scouts.

The girls were grouped off and watched demonstrations on how and why a horse wears shoes and needs his hooves trimmed.  They learned that trimming a horse's hooves doesn't hurt the horse and keeps the horse's hooves in shape and healthy.

They learned the difference between a horse and a mule....

They got to go on a covered, horse drawn wagon ride down the street and back.

You can't have a Girl Scout function without having a few fun craft projects to make.  In this case they decorated cowgirl hats and......

decorated their very own stick horses.

The morning flew by and soon it was time for lunch where were serenaded by Cowboy Dan throughout the lunch hour.

With tummy's full, the girls made their way to the arena for horseback riding demonstrations that included barrel racing, shooting from horseback and some ground work with a horse.  They totally got into it, especially with the girl horseback riders in the arena.....Girl Power for sure.

To finish off the day, the girls were called into the arena to race their own stick horses they had made earlier that day....Yee Ha!!

In groups of six, they all had their chance to race.

Other activities they were happy to participate in included line dancing inside the club house and roping.

Roping picture taken by Kristi Steadman

Such a full, fun-filled day.  Just before leaving, my two cowgirls did a last minute check on Emma who was waiting patiently inside the trailer and off we drove.

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October 22, 2012

Should California Settle for Prop 37? ~ GMO Labeling?

I am all for healthy eating, knowing what is in my food and what I'm buying, where it comes from, and having a choice in what I feed my children.  So with California paving the way, as it does so often for the rest of the country, when a badly drafted initiative such as Prop 37 is on the ballot, I feel the need to voice my two cents.

As Californian's, we should not settle for the way Prop 37 is written.  

This prop has good intentions but is very poorly written.  Why does this prop contain so many exemptions?  For instance, Prop 37 exempts milk, cheese and meat from its labeling requirements although cows, pigs and chicken are fed GE grains. 

Proposition 37 would require mandatory labeling of Genetically Engineered foods and
if Prop 37 passes, foods that will be required to be labeled as "Genetically Engineered", even if they have no level of a GE ingredient, include:

Labeled                                                     Exempt from Labeling
fruit juice....................................................but beer, wine and liquor=Exempt
canned soup from a grocery store...............but the same soup bought as 'to go' or at a restaurant=Exempt
Soy milk.....................................................but cow's milk and dairy products, eggs, poultry=Exempt
snack food from the store............................but same snack food sold at a snack bar=Exempt
cookies and candy made in USA.................but fortune cookies and candy from China=Exempt

And here's a Biggy....
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October 19, 2012

Spooky Pretzel Sticks

Looking for a quick and easy food project to make with your kids for Halloween?  Check out these Spooky Pretzel Sticks!  Wouldn't these be fun at a party or for your child's classroom Halloween project?  Fun for all and tasty too.

'Best of the Web'  Spooky Pretzel Sticks by Midwest Living.

photo and idea courtesy Midwest Living

Candy Coating: Look for colored candy disks at crafts stores. They come in a variety of colors and melt for dipping and decorating. Our critters use white, green, orange and black. Apply eyes and mouths with a small brush or toothpick. Dip twice for a contrasting face and body {see Dracula}, or drizzle stripes {see Mummy}. Make sure the candy sets between colors; chilling speeds the process.
Sprinkles:  For a fuss-free treat, roll a dipped rod in seasonal sprinkles or decorating sugar. Nonpareils and sprinkles also make good eyes and noses.
Gumdrops:  Mold a dark gumdrop into a pointed witch’s hat.
Fruit Leather: Snip colorful fruit leather into strips of hair {see Witch} or accessories {see Dracula’s bow tie}.
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October 18, 2012

Crock Pot Harvest Chipotle Chili

I've found a new taste addiction that happens to be really fun to cook with as well.....Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce.  Chipotle adds just the right amount of heat and a whole lot of flavor.

Just yesterday, I added Chipotle to this super easy Harvest Chipotle Chili.  Even though the outside temperature reached 90 degrees....chili is good any time of the year in my I'm pre-thinking chili recipes for Super Bowl Sunday.

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October 17, 2012

TT w/Linky: Halloween and Fall Pumpkin Decor

Halloween is around the corner with Thanksgiving close behind.  Autumn is my favorite season of the year. I love the colors, the smells, the crisp air, all things pumpkin....including decorating with them.

While searching online I found a new favorite site....Midwest Living.  They have great ideas on anything from recipes, home decorating, garden, holidays and much more.  
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October 16, 2012

Easy Crock Pot Apple Butter

Harvest time is my favorite time of year.  Whether it be wine, pear, nut, you name it.  In our area, there are a few apple orchards close by where you can pick them yourself.  Totally fun for the kids, and me.  An abundance of apples on hand, means plenty of fall recipes to try.  Here's one that's super easy for Apple Butter.
If you've not tried apple butter yet, you don't know what you're missing!  Great on crusty bread with a nutty hard cheese for a snack or as a cocktail party appetizer.
This is a MUST try.

photo and recipe courtesy Midwest Living
Crock Pot Apple Butter
pounds cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced (about 12 cups)
cups sugar
1/3 cup water
tablespoons cider vinegar
teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Place apple slices in a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. Stir in sugar, water, vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg.
  Cover; cook on high-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours. Stir. Cool mixture at least 1 hour or cover and        
  chill overnight.

Ladle apple butter into half-pint storage or freezer containers, leaving a 1/2-inch head space. Seal and label. Store 3 weeks in refrigerator or for 1 year in freezer. Makes 4 half-pints.
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October 12, 2012

'BOTW' Mini Caramel Apples

I love caramel apples and so do my kids but sometimes a regular sized apple is too much, so check out what I found......Mini Caramel Apples!  Using a melon baller and a regular sized apple, you can make eight of these little gems.  Perfect for a Fall themed party or a school Halloween carnival!  

'Best of the Web':  Mini Caramel Apples

Photo and recipe courtesy Disney's Family Fun recipes.

·    4-inch lollipop sticks
·    Melon baller
·    Granny Smith apples (one apple makes about 8 mini apples)
·    Butterscotch or peanut butter chips or melted Caramel
·    Chopped nuts, nonpareils, sprinkles, shredded coconut (optional)
·    Small paper candy cups
1.      First, cut the lollipop sticks in half at an angle (the pointy end will go into the apple pieces easier). With the melon baller, scoop little balls out of the apple. Each ball should have a section of apple peel. Push half of a lollipop stick into the peel of each ball. Pat the apple pieces dry.
2.      Melt the chips or caramel according to the package directions. Dip and swirl the mini apples in the melted chips, then roll the apples in nuts, sprinkles, nonpareils, or coconut, if desired. Place the mini apples in paper candy cups to set.
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October 10, 2012

TT w/Linky: OktoberFest Kona Stout Ice Cream

I recently reviewed the cookbook, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams At Home by Jeni Britton Bauer for my local newspaper and in doing so, I picked three fall inspired recipes for ice cream.  

My first and favorite is the Kona Stout Ice Cream.  The recipe calls for using any dark beer and stout adds a lot of flavor without adding very much water to the ice cream.  So why not use a chocolate stout?!  I did, in hopes the flavor would taste similar to a mocha.  I wasn't disappointed.  My stout of choice these days is this Bison Chocolate OR out of ice cream.

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October 9, 2012

Wine Tasting at Trek Wine

Long awaited for downtown Novato...the opening of Trek Wine.  After one month of being open, I finally made it in to check it out and am so glad I did.

Trek Wine has a large open tasting room with a tasting counter to one side, a few bar tables and stools and a couple of nice sitting areas with couches and club chairs along the front window.  

After looking at the tasting menu, we decided to do a 'flight' of all reds.....only $5!  And if after, you decide to purchase a bottle of wine, the tasting fee will go towards your!

Trek Wine is large enough to reserve for private parties, maybe a company meeting in their Board Room......

If you find yourself hungry while tasting, you can order some snacks from their provided by nearby restaurants.

Their wines are made with grapes from local growers and are not over-priced.  My favorite was the 2007 Syrah, $20, with the 2008 Cab a close second.  The bottle of Syrah we bought has been corked and consumed, I need to plan a 'shopping trip' and stock up on it for the holidays.....SO good.

They also have an outdoor patio complete with coy pond and outdoor heaters.....very cozy, nice atmosphere.   I think my next girl's night out is going to begin at Trek.

If you're headed out to dinner or maybe have some out of town guests to entertain, a great starting point would be Trek Wine.  Trek is located in downtown Novato, just one block off Grant Avenue and within walking distance to many downtown restaurants.  You will not be disappointed.  This is JUST what downtown Novato...or even all of Marin County needed!

website:  Trek Wine  
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October 8, 2012

MCFB VIP Lunch at Red Hill Gun Club

Every October Marin County Farm Bureau holds its annual V.I.P. luncheon and this year, it was once again held at Red Hill Gun Club.  The luncheon is to bring together Marin County's public officials with our Marin County farmers and ranchers, who work together throughout the year on various county and state issues.  One of the current issues being discussed is the Local Coastal Plan.

A few of M.C. Farm Bureau board members; Gerry Corda, John Taylor and Martin Pozzi stock up the bar with beer, wine and Clover Stornetta milk, of course.

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October 5, 2012

'BOTW': Indian Summer Stew

We are experiencing some major Indian Summer weather here in northern CA.  Mostly in the 100's this week and cooling to the 80's towards the later part of the week.  Phew!  And who wants to cook in this weather?!  But if you do, my 'Best of the Web' for this week is a great recipe from Food Network for Indian Summer Stew. 

photo and recipe courtesy Food Network

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October 4, 2012

Our Wii U Experience

Most of the time when I'm invited to participate in various events, it's normally me, going solo.  Most events are adult type where kids aren't invited or wouldn't even be interested in.  When the Wii U Experience event came up, I knew my kids would totally dig it and feel special about being included in one of my blogging events......I couldn't say no.

So off we went for a quick drive in to San Francisco, Fort Mason Center on a Sunday afternoon.

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October 3, 2012

TT w/Linky: Get Your Rack Checked ~ Breast Cancer Awareness

I think everyone I know has been touched by breast cancer in some way or another in their lives.  Maybe your best friend had it, your sister, aunt, daughter, mother, for me it was my mother.  She battled it many years ago and won and I'm thankful she is still with us today.  Many other friends have battled and lost.

October is breast cancer awareness month, you can see the signs everywhere from your local grocery store, the gym and even on the players of the NFL wearing their pink cleats! 

Just a friendly reminder to please, please, please get your rack checked.

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October 2, 2012

Savor the Central Coast

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending an event put on by Sunset Magazine, 'Savor the Central Coast'.  It was held in Santa Margarita at the historic Santa Margarita Ranch in San Luis Obispo county.  The San Luis Obispo area is one of my favorite places to visit. It's beautiful, surrounded by hills and close to the coast, it actually reminds me of home, here in northern California but with a much slower pace, I think that's why I'm so drawn to it, so any chance to visit the area, I'm there.

Savor is in its third year and it's an event where you can sample wine from over 100 area wineries, food from local restaurants and farmers, take in a demonstration from one of the celebrity chefs that were scheduled to appear, wine and food seminars straight from the central coast growers, or maybe relax in the beer garden.  Many things to taste and experiment over this four day event.

I attended one day and this is how I spent it....

Walking in, you receive a shopping bag, your wine glass and an event program.

The celebrity chef seminars where held in this beautiful historic barn.

Here they are setting up for Food Network's Aarti Sequira.

I was able to attend a media Q & A with celeb chefs, Susan Fenigar of Mandalay Bay and Aarti Sequira of Food Network, moderated by Sunset Magazine's Editor, Kitty Morgan.

I must say, Aarti is absolutely adorable in person.  If you enjoy her personality on TV, know that she is just the same in person.

The last question of the Q & A.....'if you had only five spices to choose from to stock your pantry, what would they be?'

Between both chefs, some of the spices included; tumeric, cumin, black pepper, ginger, chili pepper and cinnamon sticks.

After the Q & A I decided to see what was happening at the wine tasting area.  It happened to be 98 degrees outside over the weekend and I'm normally a big wine drinker, but not in this kind of heat.  I did manage to try a few ports though.

The port was paired with some delicious hard cheese; sheep, cow and a combined sheep and cow cheese, which happened to be my favorite.

My favorite Port was from Roxo Port Cellars out of Paso Robles.  Next trip to SLO, I'm visiting their cellars for sure.

On my way over to the pavilion, I stopped to listen and learn all about olive oil tasting and tips on quality of fresh olive oil by Joeli Yagunda, Founder of Pasolivo Olive Oil.  This is the tent area, Farmers' Market to Meal, where you could meet the Central Coast farmers and chefs and learn a little about how they farm and hear techniques on anything from cheese making, canning to seasonal cooking.

The next stop was the Central Coast Pavilion for some tasty food..

Strawberry Lime Parfait.  The good people of Mandalay Bay had put together this very refreshing parfait.

The parfait was paired with Kiona 2009 Chenin Blanc Ice Wine.

Then over to the Big Sky Cafe booth where they were serving Grilled Turkish Leg of Lamb on flatbread.......

Made with fresh local ingredients, arugula and tahini yogurt dressing.

I did spend some time at Morro Bay oysters....he couldn't shuck them fast enough.

Walking back outside, I heard the band start up and I was immediately drawn over to the Beer Garden where they had a great lawn area with picnic tables, beer and more food booths and a little bit of shade.

Some lager from Tap It Brewing Co. and chocolate cake from Madonna Inn hit the spot in the heat of the day. 

I spent a good part of the afternoon here, a great place to hang out people watching, eating and drinking all while listening to music.

After the chocolate cake sugar rush, I was craving some meat.  The Harris Ranch tent was calling my name with their grilled ribeye steak and tomato-basil bruschetta sandwich.

I have the recipe....I'll be making this one at home.  SO flavorful.

There were so many good bites to choose from, I just wish I had had a bigger appetite!

The Bay Shrimp with mango salsa was also a favorite of mine, very refreshing and so very fresh tasting.

It was getting close to the end of the day and I needed to make a decision on what my last two experiences would be.  I can see why the Main Event is a two day affair, you definitely need two days to take it all in.

I couldn't possibly go to a Sunset Magazine event without seeing some very unique gardening ideas...

And my last sight of the afternoon was riding this 115 year old original Disneyland Coach that took you around the historic ranch for a 15 minute tour.

A perfect way to end my first time experience at Sunset's Savor the Central Coast.

My Savor ticket was complementary but this, in no way swayed my opinions regarding the event.
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