Birthday Cakes from MINECRAFT for our grandson Jonah – a labor of love!

I love making birthday cakes for my grandsons – its a lot of work but so worth it to see their faces. YUM!
Mine-craft  is all the rage with little boys mainly – a game where they build imaginary worlds – with sods of grass, lakes, buildings and internal and external choices. They love it. And Jonah – who is now 6 – is besotted! He is only allowed limited time on the video game but loves every second as well as the books and Lego and more. Here are the two cakes I made for him – one is CREEPER ( a mine-craft figure) and the other is a very large piece of sod. CREEPER was made from yellow cake, cut into the shape that I got off the internet – with green cream cheese frosting, squares of Cadbury’s milk chocolate covered with green, or black or white frosting as the squares and more chocolate squares for his eyes, nose and feet.

The sod was from THREE individual layer cakes – one strawberry ( in the middle to make it rainbow) and the other vanilla and yellow on top and bottom. The cakes were stuck together with cream cheese frosting ( white) and then frosted around the sides with chocolate frosting. Then I crumbled double chocolate creme Oreo’s and stuck them on the side to make the dirt pieces, and got a special Wilton grass making nozzle, filled my frosting bag with green frosting and stood Minecraft Cake Jonah happy Feb 2015pulling up 300 tufts of grass. Lots of arm work but such fun! The candle 6 on top of both cakes completed the job. Jonah was delirious with happiness. What a lovely day!

Minecraft Grass Sod CakeMinecraft rainbow cake half eaten Feb 2015 Minecraft grass sod cake 2 Minecraft Creeper Cake

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Tangerine Marmalade – it’s that time of year again with abundant citrus at The Little Farm

Here is the recipe for Tangerine Marmalade – it takes a couple of days to be really good – if you have the patience!!  I do – as the result is truly spectacular!

Tangerine Marmalade

Ingredients:

  • 18-20 Tangerines
  • 6 cups of water
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • Two boxes of pectin
  • Maple Syrup – 8 ounces – if you like the taste

Directions:

  1. Cut the tangerines into slices  DO NOT PEEL THEM ( just wash them first)- about three per piece of fruit – cut the ends off and discard.
  2. Take out the pits – as many as possible.
  3. Boil in the water for about 30 minutes until the skin is soft
  4. Add the sugar and cook on high for 20 minutes
  5. Add the pectin and cook on high until boiling then reduce to low heat.
  6. Add the syrup if you like the taste of maple syrup.
  7. Simmer until the mixture darkens somewhat and is thick enough to suit your taste for marmalade – I find that it takes about 10 hours – 5 hours a day for two days. Be VERY careful that the mixture does not stick on the bottom of the pot so keep it at a low heat.
  8. Yes this is a bit tricky – and deceptively easy looking. It is all in the slow simmer!
    Enjoy!

Below  is the finished product before bottling!

Tangerine Marmalade finished in pot

The sliced uncooked fruit!Tangerines Cut and sliced 2015

The abundant crop from The Little Farm.Tangerines just picked 2015

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Great easy recipe – for cooking with kids! Chicken and Pretzels!

Its always fun to find a way to make boring chicken a little less boring. Here is a great and easy recipe that the kids absolutely  loved! Try it and let me know how your family enjoys it?

Pretzel Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts ( we prefer thighs so I did a mixture)
  • 4 Tbsp each of yellow mustard, brown mustard and if you like it, ( we don’t) hot mustard
  • 3 Tbsp of honey
  • 2 Tbsp of canola oil
  • 4 cups of salted pretzels
  • Pam Spray
  • 1/2 cup of low fat mayo

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees ( I needed two ovens for this)
  2. Mix 2 Tbsp of each of the mustard’s and 2 Tbsp of the canola oil in a freezer bag and mix well then place aside
  3. Pound the chicken pieces one by one in a strong double plastic freezer bag until thinner – like for Vienna schnitzels
  4. Place the chicken pieces into the marinade in the freezer bag and put in the fridge for an hour or so.
  5. Pound 4 cups of salted pretzels in a freezer bag until crumbs.
  6. Place foil onto two baking pans and spray Pam  over the foil
  7. Put each piece of chicken into the crumbed pretzel mixture until well coated and place onto the baking pan and spray again with Pam spray.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes each side – flipping after the first 12 minutes and cook for 25 minutes or until cooked through. Do NOT overcook
  9. In the meantime mix the remaining 2 Tbsp of yellow, Brown and Hot mustard with 2 Tbsp of honey and 1/2 cup of low fat mayo and drizzle over the chicken before serving.

The children snacked on pretzels and loved the pounding part of this recipe!! A keeper for sure!

CAVEAT: The only part about this recipe that I was not crazy about – was that when I flipped the pieces, the lovely crust did not stay on – if anyone has a great idea on how to prevent that happening – please share! I am tempted NOT to flip them next time as the picture you see below is of the flipped side and the crust is uneven and not pretty. The taste was still great – but visual cues are also important – so any advice on this is welcome!

Chicken and pretzels

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Slow cooker heaven – the most delicious lemon dessert – you will LOVE this! Also good when cooking with kids!

Lemon Pudding Dessert Slow CookerI have never tried making desserts in the slow cooker – and this last week it was so cold that it sounded like a good idea. Here is the first experiment – which turned out so well that I have made it twice this week !

Slow Cooker Lemon Pudding Cake

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs, separated
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    3 tablespoons butter
    1 1/2 cups milk
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and set aside. ( TIP: Add a pinch of salt – helps make the whites stiffer faster).
  2. Beat egg yolks; blend in lemon juice, butter and milk.
  3. Combine sugar, flour, and salt ( best to use a sifter as it blends the ingredients well); add to egg-milk mixture, beating until smooth. Fold into beaten whites. Spoon into crock pot.
  4. Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 to 3 hours. This tends to over-brown around the edges, at about 2 hours take a look and turn it off. It will stay warm for a while.

Delicious easy and fast – what could be better!

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Chicken Tortilla Soup – easy and filling

Chicken Tortilla Soup in the Slow Cooker ( from All Recipes with some changes)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound shredded, cooked chicken
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes,mashed
  • 1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth ( I make it up using Better than Bouillon)
 

 

 

 

  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 7 corn tortillas
  • vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

1. Place chicken, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, and garlic into a slow cooker. Pour in water and chicken broth, and season with cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Stir in corn and cilantro. Cover, and cook on Low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on High setting for 3 to 4 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
3. Lightly brush both sides of tortillas with oil. Cut tortillas into strips, then spread on a baking sheet.
4. Bake in preheated oven until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. To serve, sprinkle tortilla strips over soup.

Chopping garlic grown at the Little FarmChopped garlic from LFThe view of the mountain range not far from us, and some late fall roses.

IMG_8325 Range and rosesAnd finally one of the statues from sculptor John Davidson in our front yard – the children love this one…..and so do we.

IMG_8311 Reading 2

 

 

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Turkey eggs are soooo delicious – try them some time! We grow our own

Turkey eggs are much larger than chicken eggs – and much more delicious. They are a more intense flavor and the yolk is more yellow – we love them.

I love making egg salad – generally low fat mayo, salt and great fresh farm eggs – you could add chopped celery ( we don’t) or chopped onion ( we don’t do that either as our eggs have such flavor we don’t want to sully them).

A flour tortilla with egg salad wrapped into it and a green salad is a very satisfying Sunday night dinner.

Here is a picture of turkey and chicken eggs – you can see the difference in size. The speckled ones are the turkey eggs.IMG_8304 Turkey and Hen's eggs 1And here is one of our turkeys!

IMG_8248 Turkey head 1

 

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More animal photos that make me smile – you too?

I love these photos. I am always impressed by the depth of love that animals feel for humans -both cats and dogs – horses too – perhaps I am suffering from anthropomorphism them but you can see it in these photos.

THIS IS WHY IT IS GOOD TO BE TALL!

Why its good to be tall

AH PLEASE CAN I KEEP IT?

Can I keep it

I AM READY FOR MY WALK ARE YOU?I am ready for my walk There there
Love my new humanALWAYS CHECK YOUR SHOES….. Always check when putting on your shoes

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Bok Choy Lemon Chicken Noodle Soup – a good way to use cooked chicken – comfort food!

Chicken Noodle Soup does seem to have medicinal qualities for me – and for many others – although I am not sure that is scientific but it sure comforts me. This recipe takes a slightly different angle on it – and is delicious. We grow our own bok choy, ginger, onion, and love cooking with all of it!

Bok Choy Chicken Noodle soup

Bok Choy Lemon Chicken  Noodle Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • ½ cup of chopped onion
  • 1.5 tbsp. of minced fresh ginger
  • 1 8 ounce packet of pre-sliced mushrooms – any kind – cremini are best
  • 4/5 cups of unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/5 cups of shredded skinless rotisserie chicken breast
  • 3 cups of chopped Bok Choy
  • Precooked brown rice or cooked noodles
  • 1 tbsp.Ponzu (or soy) sauce
  • ½ tsp of kosher salt
  • ½ tsp of black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon rind
  • 2 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium high.
  2. Add onion ginger and sauté 5 mins.
  3. Add mushrooms sauté 2 mins.
  4. Add stock chicken and boy choy.
  5. Bring to boil and reduce heat and simmer 10 mins.
  6. Stir cooked rice or noodles, Ponzu sauce, salt and pepper into soup cook 5 minutes till Bok Choy is tender.
  7. Take off from heat and stir in lemon rind and juice
  8. Serve in large generous bowls – YUM!
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Stress reducing photos – just in time for 2015!

We  are BIG pet lovers and have many animals on the Little Farm – the latest edition are 6 feral kittens who work for their keep catching rats and mice on the farm. In addition they are adorable. Here is our oldest grandson Jack holding Fluffy -who is the only male and we have 5 females – all neutered now – and cute as anything with turquoise eyes! They are not allowed indoors – except Jack just would not put Fluffy down – and every night Fluffy comes into the house through the doggie door – looking for Jack. He takes one look at me and heads for the outside! YES! ALPHA CAT – that’s me!

Jack and fluffy cat Dec 2014

A friend sent me these following pictures – aren’t they adorable?

ARE YOU SURE THIS IS MY BED?

Are you sure this is my bed

I WISH THEY WOULD ORDER A NEW STOVE  -IT SURE IS GETTING CROWDED IN HERE!

Cats in box

EVERYONE NEEDS SOMEONE TO HUG AT NIGHT

dog hugging toy

FRANKLY I DO NOT THINK THIS IS FUNNY…..

Sausage dog

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Making Short Ribs in the Slow Cooker – so easy and time efficient and perfect for cold winter days!

I love making dishes that last for days and this is one that does. I started this dish late in the afternoon in the slow cooker and before bed put it into the fridge then the next afternoon took it out and finished it off – so easy and delicious!

Short Ribs with Coca Cola!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 (6-ounce) bone-in beef short ribs, trimmed  ( if serving 8 or depending how large the short ribs are)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted beef stock
  • 1/3 cup lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 8 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 (12-ounce) can coca cola
  • 1 (4 x 1-inch) orange rind strip
  • 4 cups (1-inch) diagonally cut carrot
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 cups diagonally cut snow peas
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add half of beef to pan; cook 10 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove beef from pan; place in a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and beef. Add stock and next 9 ingredients (through rind) to slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours or until beef is very tender. Carefully remove beef from pan; keep warm.
  2. Skim fat from surface of cooking liquid; discard fat. Strain the cooking liquid into a large saucepan; bring to a simmer. Add carrot to pan; cook 20 minutes or until carrot is almost done. Combine 1/4 cup water and cornstarch, stirring with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Stir in peas; cook 2 minutes.
  3. Put the whole mixture back into the slow cooker and let simmer on high for half hour.
  4. Place 1 short rib in each of 8 shallow bowls. Ladle 1/2 cup sauce and vegetables over each serving; sprinkle evenly with cilantro.

Short ribs browning in a skilletshort ribs being browned

Ginger Root from the Little FarmGinger root from LF

Chopped garlic from the Little FarmChopped garlic from LF

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