Pretty as a Princess

Cora showed us her ballet and tap dance moves at the recent Dance Branson recital.  Not only did she nail her routine, she even blew kisses into the audience.  Love that girl!

Lost Valley- Arkansas Adventures

Looking for a great day trip for some exercise and adventures with the littles?  Lost Valley Park in Arkansas is one of our favorites.  Not only is a beautiful hike, but you might even see the elk near Ponca will you are there.

Ham, Bean and Cornbread Meal

ham and beans

If there is one meal that I remember as a child on the farm it was ham and beans! It was a meal my mother would cook-up on cold wintry days that would keep us fed for days. It seemed as though this meal took all day for my mother to make, plus she would whip up a batch of her famous Jan Baldwin cornbread. (I’m not kidding about the “famous” part in her cornbread either, just ask ANYONE that has ever enjoyed it.)

During Christmas our family was “flooded-in” at the farm, as we saw massive amounts of rainfall throughout Southern Missouri. So, my niece Sydnee and I helped out in feeding our large crowd with a huge pot of ham and beans and four batches of cornbread. With the help of mom, I wrote down instructions and measurements for both recipes. Here are our instructions for making a traditional ham and bean dinner with cornbread for your family.

Traditional Ham and Beans
3 cups of washed beans, pinto or Great Northern

*Soak the beans overnight in water, skim off the “spoiled parts” that float to the top. If you don’t soak the beans overnight, you will have additional cooking time.

1 large onion, chopped
4 celery sticks and tops, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 T. parsley
1 tsp. Cavenders seasonings
1 T. sugar
Chicken bouillon cubes
Diced cooked ham

In a large stockpot, add a couple tablespoons of bacon grease and sauté the onion, celery and garlic for 5 minutes. Add all the seasonings, except for the salt and bouillon cubes, and stir. The salt isn’t added until the beans are soft. Continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes.

Add the beans and four cups of water and two chicken bouillon cubes and place lid on pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

After an hour of cooking add the diced ham. Continue cooking the beans, stirring occasionally and adding water when needed.

If you soaked the beans overnight the beans are done in three hours, if you did not soak the beans overnight then the beans will take 5 hours.

Add one washed and skinned potato at the beginning of cooking the beans to thicken your broth. Add enough water to have a good stock in your beans to soak up that great cornbread!

Jan’s Famous Cornbread
In cast iron skillet- heat 1/2 cup oil

In a small bowl add:
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 heaping tablespoon of baking powder
1 T sugar

Mix well. Then add:
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs

Mix well, then add half of the hot oil from the skillet to the mixture and stir well. Keep a little oil in skillet and add the mixture to the skillet. Cook at 375 for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Homemade Pancakes

Have you ever served up homemade pancakes?  I mean real, made-from-scratch pancakes.  There is nothing like them in my opinion…light, fluffy and delicious.

I am sharing  my grandmother’s recipe for pancakes, which has been used forever in our family.  To me nothing says morning like good old homemade pancakes. Many people think that the out-of-the-box pancakes are easier, but this recipe is as easy as it gets and you should have all the ingredients in your pantry.

One major trick to the perfect pancake that I have learned over the year is don’t over-mix the batter.  You want some lumps in the batter.  If you over-mix the batter you will have a pancake that isn’t as light and fluffy.

Pancakes by Grandma Pat
2 c. ap flour
1 tsp. salt
5 tsp. baking powder
3 T. sugar
2 eggs
2 C. milk
1/3 C. oil

Sift dry ingredients. Beat the eggs and milk well. Pour in shortening. Add the flour mixture all at once. Beat until smooth.

Keep a small amount of oil in the skillet, before pouring pancake mixture. This makes a lot of pancakes, you can freeze what you don’t use and have them for another day.

I also like to add things like fresh fruit or chocolate chips every once in awhile.

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

wild rice soup

I’ve been working on a new soup recipe for a few weeks now, as I had to get the recipe perfect before posting it to you all!  Chicken & Wild Rice Soup has always been a favorite on mine that I typically order at tea rooms and bakeries and I thought it was time I developed my own classic recipe this winter.

I have to admit, I cheat a little on the recipe with the help of boxed wild rice (I like the Roasted Chicken flavored kind), but it does make the recipe easy to whip up for your family for a great weeknight meal.

Be sure to choose good-quality chicken for this recipe from your local farmers market or health food store, plus I add homemade chicken stock or chicken bone broth for an added health benefit for my family.  It isn’t hard to make your own stock, I save all bones from chickens that I have roasted and cook them a second time with carrots, onions, celery and garlic, plus I will add in some chicken feet for added gelatin.  You can also buy chicken from local farmers that includes all the giblets that help make a delicious and healthy stock.

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup
cups homemade chicken broth
cooked chicken breasts, diced
4-5 cooked chicken thighs, diced
 package long grain and wild rice blend
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
½ cup all-purpose flour
12 T. butter
cup carrot, diced
cup celery, diced
cup onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
cups half and half
Seasoning packet with rice
Chopped fresh parsley

Combine the pepper and flour in a small bowl, set aside. In a large stock pot or Dutch Oven combine broth and chicken over medium heat. Bring to a rolling boil, then stir in the rice. Cover and cook to instructions on the rice box.

In a medium pan melt butter then add veggies and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the seasoning packet of the rice and continue to cook until the veggies are soft, about 6 minutes. Next add the flour gradually to the veggies and continue to stir to form a roux. Sauté the roux mixture for 4 minutes to cook out the raw flour. Add a little half and half, a little at a time, until smooth. Cook until thickened completely, 5 minutes.

Slowly add the cream mixture into the broth and rice. Cook over medium heat until heated through and rice is done, 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Festive Cranberry Cookies

100_2402If there is one cookie that you MUST make this Christmas, it’s Cranberry Noels.  A buttery shortbread cookie with the perfect amount of cranberries and pecans and a sprinkle of raw sugar make this cookie a crowd favorite.

These are icebox cookies that are easily made ahead, which make your holiday baking even easier this year.  I sprinkle raw sugar on top of each cookie before baking or roll the edges of the cookie in red or green sprinkles, this gives the cookies an added touch of sweetness and crunch.

Cranberry Noel Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cream or milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Raw sugar

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add milk and vanilla and beat until combined. Gradually add the flour, salt, cranberries, and pecans and mix on low until combined.

Divide dough into 2 dough balls and place the dough on plastic wrap.  Shape each ball into an 8-inch log, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap logs in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. (Or you can freeze the dough until ready to use.)

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Sprinkle each cookie with raw sugar.  Bake until edges are golden, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through. Remove from oven, and transfer cookies to a wirerack to cool completely.

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

Red-Velvet-Crinkle-CookiesEach holiday I have my list of go-to goodie recipes that are family favorites, but I also add some new recipes to the mix.  I bake quite a large amount of goodies every year for friends, family and business professionals I work  with.  Gifts from the heart and kitchen are ones that always touch the soul!

This year I experimented with a few new cookie recipes, including one for Red Velvet cookies.  This recipe uses a red velvet cake mix with  pudding in the mix and is similar to gooey butter cake- which you just can’t go wrong with.  It’s become our 2015 holiday favorite cookie, hope your family enjoys it just as much.

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
1 package Red Velvet Cake Mix
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer.  Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined, then add the cake mix and continue mixing until a dough forms.  The dough will be very thick.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Place powdered sugar in a bowl.  Form one inch dough balls and roll the dough in the powdered sugar to coat throughly.  Place cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.  Bake for 11 minutes, until the centers are set.  Cool on a wire rack then dust with powdered sugar.

Thanksgiving Blessings

_MG_0061As I wash up my kitchen from another day of Thanksgiving baking, I am surrounded by my two favorite smells: Pumpkin and Pecan Pie.  Both smells resinate the holiday season for me and bring back so many good memories.

This year I am thankful for my FAMILY and FRIENDS. My husband and I  have watched our Caston turn into a big 6 year old who’s spirit for life is invigorating, and our little Cora has become quite the charmer, bringing a smile to everyone she meets.  As I opened my third farmers market this year, it was my family that supported me and provided me with love, patience and encouragement.  We have also made many new friendships this year, both within our community and professionally, that have made profound impacts on our lives.  I am thankful for true, genuine friendships that are based on trust and love.

Give thanks to your family  & friends this holiday and let them know how much they are appreciated and loved!

If you are looking for a special pie to share with your loved ones this Thanksgiving, I highly suggest my family’s Pecan Pie. It’s a staple around the holidays for me and isn’t as sugary sweet as most pecan pies.  Check out this previous post above with the recipe.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!


Grannie’s Pie Crust

Looking for a flaky pie crust for your Thanksgiving Day?  I’ve got just the recipe for you to try this holiday.  This is from my Great Grandmother Garrison and is a family favorite for holiday functions.

Single Pie Crust
(My grandmother Garrison’s recipe)
1 1/3 c flour
½ tsp salt
½ c Crisco shortening or lard
3 T ice cold water
½ tsp vinegar

In a food processor pulse flour and salt. Add shortening and pulse into combined (it will resemble cornmeal). Add water and vinegar and pulse until combined- the mixture will form a ball. Place the dough in a bowl and cover and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Beef Tenderloin for Christmas Dinner

Photo from Food & Wine Magazine

Why is it during the holidays we always cook up the traditional turkey and stuffing? Why not try something new?

I don’t know about you, but after having turkey and stuffing for Thanksgiving dinners and then again at Christmas dinners – I’m turkey’ed out!

Now don’t get me wrong- I’m a huge fan of turkey and stuffing. I make chicken and stuffing throughout the year and occasionally splurge and buy a turkey, but there is nothing wrong with mixing it up a bit.

My family mixes it up during the holidays when it comes to the main course: sometimes wild turkey, venison, beef brisket or even pork loin (which I love) on the Green Egg.

This beef tenderloin makes a beautiful main course for entertaining  and would be great for your Christmas dinner this holiday.

* Try and make this a local affair this holiday and buy local products from area farmers. Beef, onion, carrot, wine, and cream can all be sourced from your local farmers market.

Peppery Pinot Noir Beef Tenderloin
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature, divided
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped carrot
1 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/4 cups Pinot Nor wine (try and choose a Missouri wine)
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 cups beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (3- to 4-pound) beef tenderloin roast (try and buy from a local farmer)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 to 6 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons butter and flour; set aside.

In a large frying pan over low heat, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add onion, carrot, and celery; saute approximately 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add tomato paste and stir until vegetables are coated. Add wine and boil approximately 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Add chicken and beef broths; boil approximately 5 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 1 1/4 cups. Remove from heat and strain liquid, discarding solids. Return liquid to pan; add butter/flour mixture and whisk over medium heat about 1 minute or until sauce thickens. Add heavy cream at the very end (do not overheat the cream). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bring roast to room temperature before cooking (usually about 20 minutes). Trim the tenderloin of fat.

Pat the beef dry with paper towels. Lightly oil outside of roast and sprinkle with pepper.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Without adding any cooking fat, brown the roast on all sides (approximately 10 minutes). When browned, remove from heat. Place the browned roast and cast-iron pan in the oven and bake, uncovered, until a meat thermometer registers desired temperature (see below).

Rare – 120°F Medium Rare – 125°F Medium – 130°F

Remove from oven and transfer onto a cutting board; cover with a tent of aluminum foil and let stand 15 minutes before carving (meat temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after it is removed from the oven).

In the cast-iron frying pan over medium heat, re-warm Pinot Noir Sauce over low heat; mix in any juices from roast.

Cut the roast into 1/2-inch slices and place them on a warm serving platter. To serve, spoon some Pinot Noir Sauce over the meat; pass remaining sauce separately. Serve immediately. Makes about 6-8 servings.

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