Thursday, February 28, 2013

White Bean & Meatball Soup

This soup was completely made up on the spot and inspired by our homemade potato sausage that I made into meatballs. I baked the meatballs in the oven and then threw them in the freezer to use later…

White Bean & Meatball Soup - The Backyard Farmwife

Pop this soup in the crock pot and you’ll have a hot bowl of soup before you know it!

8 cups water with bouillon (I use Better Than Bouillon) or beef stock

1/2 onion, chopped

1 can white beans, drained

1 1/2 pounds of precooked meatballs (fresh or frozen)

3-4 potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 stalks celery, sliced

salt and pepper

Cook on low 6-8 hours or on high 3-4 hours. About 15 minutes before serving, throw in about 1-2 cups of baby spinach.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Potato Sausage

I have to confess that while making and sampling all the sausages we made, this one was not my favorite. But that was before I made it into meatball soup! Yum!!! I’ll post that recipe tomorrow. First, here’s how to make the sausage…

If you need help with the basics of sausage making, check out this post HERE.

potato sausage - The Backyard Farmwife

4 pounds ground beef

4 pounds ground pork

4 pounds potatoes, peeled, brought to a boil and drained

2 pounds onions, chopped

3/4 pound bacon pieces

5 Tablespoons salt

3 Tablespoons fresh cracked pepper

Run pork, beef, potatoes, onion and bacon through meat grinder. Combine all ingredients and mix well until fully incorporated.

Chill immediately. Cook a small bit to check taste. Add more spices or more meat according to your taste. Know that they flavor will alter some after a few days.

Use within a day or two or freeze for longer storage.

potato sausage - The Backyard Farmwife

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cranberry Fruit Gels

This is the latest chapter in my candy making obsession… I mostly just think about making candy but since I have perfected my fudge and caramels, I am now turning my attention to gumdrops. I wouldn’t called these gumdrops exactly, but they are pretty tasty! Next time I’m gonna try more fruit juice and then experiment with different flavors…

cranberry fruit gels - The Backyard Farmwife

Mix in small bowl:

4 envelopes of unflavored gelatin

2 ounces cranberry juice concentrate, thawed

3 ounces cold water

cranberry fruit gels - The Backyard Farmwife

Let this stand while you boil your syrup. This will get very thick! Don’t worry, it will be just fine!

cranberry fruit gels - The Backyard FarmwifeBring to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat:

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup water

cranberry fruit gels - The Backyard FarmwifeBring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

cranberry fruit gels - The Backyard FarmwifeRemove from heat and add thickened juice mixture. Don’t worry about the chunks, they’ll melt as you stir them into the hot syrup.

cranberry fruit gels - The Backyard Farmwifecranberry fruit gels - The Backyard FarmwifePour them into a pan lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick baking spray.

cranberry fruit gels - The Backyard FarmwifeChill in fridge at least overnight. The longer they chill the better!

I didn’t get any pictures of this part. :o(

Lay a piece of parchment paper on the counter. Sprinkle liberally with sugar. Peel the gelled candy off the foil and onto the sugared paper. Sprinkle the top with sugar, too.

Now cut out your candies with a knife, small cookie cutter or pizza cutter into desired size and shapes.

Sprinkle them with sugar on all sides to prevent sticking.

Place back in fridge.

Chill them up to 2-3 days more before serving.

cranberry fruit gels - The Backyard Farmwife

Monday, February 11, 2013

Peppermint Marshmallow Hearts

What’s better than a fluffy homemade marshmallow??? A tiny pink heart-shaped peppermint homemade marshmallow dipped in dark chocolate!

peppermint marshmallows- The Backyard Farmwife

Combine in stand mixer bowl:

3 packets of unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup cold water

1 1/2 tsp vanilla or other extract of your choice

peppermint marshmallows - The Backyard Farmwife

It gets thick immediately

Combine in medium saucepan:

2 cups white sugar

3/4 cup boiling water

1/8 tsp salt

Cook on medium high heat until candy thermometer reads 236. Stir occasionally. (It took about 10 minutes) Add 3 drops of red food coloring.

peppermint marshmallows - The Backyard Farmwife

Remove saucepan from heat and pour into gelatin mixture in mixer bowl.

Beat with whisk attachment on medium high speed until the consistency of thick marshmallow cream. It should form peaks in bowl. (It took me about 15 minutes) Start mixer slowly after adding sugar syrup. It’s HOT and you don’t want it to splash!

peppermint marshmallows - The Backyard Farmwife

Pour into a well-greased and powdered-sugared baking dish.

marshmallows 03

Let sit in fridge or at room temperature until set.

peppermint marshmallows - The Backyard Farmwife

Remove from pan and cut into heart shapes with small cookie cutter.

Dust well with more sifted powdered sugar until no longer sticky. (It takes quite a bit of powdered sugar)

Shake off excess sugar and store in air tight container.

Make a chocolate dip by melting 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 Tablespoon shortening in the microwave for 60-90 seconds.

Dip or drizzle marshmallows into the chocolate. Or just enjoy them plain in a cup of hot cocoa!

peppermint marshmallows - The Backyard Farmwifepeppermint marshmallows - peppermint marshmallows - The Backyard Farmwife

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Smaug’s Treasure French Toast

Here’s another of my recreations from the now discontinued Denny’s Hobbit menu… They called it Lonely Mountain Treasure. We call it Smaug’s Treasure French Toast. Just like the gold of the dragon’s hoard under the Lonely Mountain.

This French toast is simply lemon poppyseed Friendship Bread sliced, dipped in egg batter, and cooked to a golden brown on the griddle. Then topped off with a drizzle of lemon glaze. This is a treasure that makes any morning extra special!

Smaug's Treasure French Toast - The Backyard Farmwife

1 cup Amish Friendship Bread starter (here’s a recipe for the starter if you don’t have one)

1 cup oil

1 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest

2 cups flour

1/2 cup milk

3 eggs

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 Tablespoons poppy seeds

2 small boxes or 1 large box of lemon instant pudding

Preheat oven to 325.

Add each ingredient in order, stirring after each, to make sure batter is smooth. Use a wooden or plastic spoon only.

Grease 2 bread pans (metal pans are fine). Sprinkle the pans with sugar. Pour in batter. Bake for about one hour (or until golden brown and tester comes out clean).

Cool completely on wire rack.

This is better if the bread is a few days old and has sat out sliced for a few hours first.

Smaug's Treasure French Toast - The Backyard Farmwife

Make a batter of 4 eggs, 1 cup milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat well and pour into shallow pan for dipping.

Smaug's Treasure French Toast - The Backyard Farmwife 

Dip both sides of a slice of bread into the batter. Place on a greased griddle preheated to 350.

Smaug's Treasure French Toast - The Backyard Farmwife

Cook until both sides are golden brown.

Smaug's Treasure French Toast - The Backyard Farmwife

Make a glaze with 1/2 cup powdered sugar and enough lemon juice to make it a drizzling consistency.

Smaug's Treasure French Toast - The Backyard Farmwife

Serve hot with glaze drizzled on it.

Smaug's Treasure French Toast - The Backyard FarmwifeBilbo had heard tell and sing of dragon-hoards before, but the splendor, the lust, the glory of such treasure had never yet come home to him. His heart was filled and pierced with enchantment and with the desire of dwarves; and he gazed motionless, almost forgetting the frightful guardian, at the gold beyond price and count.” The Hobbit

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beef N Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

This is my idea of convenience food! Mostly thanks to instant mashed potatoes! The baby red roasted garlic & parmesan ones are perfect for this recipe and all ready to go in about 8 minutes!

beef n mushroom shepherd's pie -The Backyard Farmwife

Having already browned hamburger frozen in the freezer makes it even faster and easier!

1 pound ground beef, browned

1/2 onion, chopped

4-6 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

salt and pepper, to taste

2 packets of instant mashed potatoes, prepared


After the beef is cooked add the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Sauté just until they are tender. Add seasonings.

Pour the beef mixture into a greased glass baking dish.

beef n mushroom shepherd's pie - The Backyard Farmwife Spread with mashed potatoes.

beef n mushroom shepherd's pie - The Backyard FarmwifeBake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. Super fast and super easy dinner!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bag End Breakfast

Denny’s is no longer offering their Hobbit menu… So now it’s up to me to recreate some of our favs from it and relive the fond memories of opening night of The Hobbit!

First up on the list… The Hobbit Hole Breakfast. Eggs cooked in the middle of a cheddar cheese bun, bacon, sausage and hash browns covered with cheddar cheese and bacon crumbles.

Here’s my version… The Bag End Breakfast. I’ve always wanted to live at Bag End, and if I did, I’m sure I would eat this all the time!!! Two eggs grilled into the center of a Dutch Crunch roll, tater tots tossed with sausage crumbles (our homemade savory breakfast sausage, no less), and sautéed mushrooms, onions and peppers. I forgot the cheese, but I was going to sprinkle cheese over the tater tots, too! It’s just one of those comfort food kind of meals. Mmmm!!!

Bag End Breakfast - The Backyard Farmwife

While your tater tots are baking in the oven, cook up some sausage in a skillet.

Bag End Breakfast - The Backyard FarmwifeWhen the sausage is nearly done, toss in some chopped mushrooms, onions and peppers.

Bag End Breakfast - The Backyard FarmwifeBag End Breakfast - The Backyard Farmwife  Mix the cooked sausage and veggie medley with the tater tots. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Put them back in the oven (turned off) to keep warm and let the cheese melt.

The trickiest part is cutting the centers out of the rolls with a biscuit cutter. Oh, but first you should cut them in half…

Bag End Breakfast - The Backyard FarmwifeCook them on a griddle covered in butter. Crack eggs into the centers of the rolls. Flip eggs often so they cook evenly and completely. They are best if the yolks are still a bit runny!

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, not yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” Chapter 1 of The Hobbit

Bag End Breakfast - The Backyard Farmwife