Breakfast Enchiladas, the perfect Brinner!

What’s for Brinner?

If you’ve been around me off or online for very long, you know that I am NOT a fan of winter. I’m a gardener and a homesteader and I enjoy the warmth and comfort that spring and summer bring to my heart. However, in the winter, for me it’s all about the spring planning and the comfort food. In our house, there is one comfort food that we can all get around is Brinner, or breakfast for dinner.

While I love making and eating Brinner, I don’t like the clean up. A few weeks ago I came across a new idea and of course I had to tinker with it all and put my own spin on it. Breakfast enchiladas as we know it were born and an immediately favorite in our home.

Breakfast Enchiladas, the perfect Brinner!

Breakfast Enchiladas, the perfect Brinner!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 lb. sausage, cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped (I used red, but you can use whatever you like best)
  • 4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tbspn. garlic powder
  • 6 eggs
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 medium tortillas (I used low carb)
  • sour cream (optional)
  • salsa (optional)
  • hot sauce (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl mix bacon, sausage, cheese, onion, and garlic powder.
  2. Reserve half of the mixture.
  3. Spoon a heaping amount of the mixture into a tortilla.
  4. Fold the ends of the tortilla and roll tight.
  5. Place tortillas seam down in a greased casserole dish.
  6. In another bowl, mix eggs, salt, pepper, and milk.
  7. Poor egg mixture over the tortillas.
  8. Sprinkle rest of meat/cheese/onion mixture over the top of eggs and tortillas.
  9. Cover with foil and either place in refrigerator until ready to cook (overnight if you want).
  10. Bake at 350 degree for 35-40 minutes or until eggs are fully cooked.
  11. Remove foil and bake for additional 5 minutes.
  12. Serve immediately with your choice of garnish (sour cream, salsa, hot sauce).
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2018/02/21/breakfast-enchiladas-the-perfect-brinner/

These enchiladas can be made the night before if you want them in the morning for , or they can be made in the morning and ready to cook for Brinner. Everything is in one dish so clean up is a breeze.

Gardening Series #3: Now What? How to get your Garden Ready!

This is the 3rd installment in the series. 

#1: Reasons to Plant a Vegetable Garden

#2: What Kind of Garden Should I Plant?

Welcome back to the third installment in my Gardening Series. If you missed the first two, the links are at the top of this post.

If you ask any successful gardener what the most important aspect of their garden is, they will tell you that it is SOIL. Having your soil just right is the difference between a bumper crop and devastating failure. Today we will be talking about soil prep and how to get it as good as you can.

How Do I Know What my Soil Needs?

The easiest way to find out is to talk to successful gardeners in your area. They have been tackling your area’s trouble spots for some time and know the tips and tricks to propserous yields.  Another way is to take a soil sample from your prospective garden to your local agriculture extension office for testing. You can get most soil samples back in a week or two and they will counsel you on what your soil needs.

prepare the soil

If this is your first time gardening in a specific area (in-ground, or raised bed) there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

  • Determine the soil ph – Get yourself a Soil test kit and find out the ph of your soil. If it is too acidic, it can be neutralized by using lime. If it is too basic, you might need gardener’s sulfur and some compost to make it more acidic.
  • “Double-dig” – Dig down a foot or so and turn the soil. Remove all rocks and roots. You can do this using a shovel, or a pitchfork. Using a tiller can work too, just be careful when using.
  • Check the moisture – The soil should be dry before planting. As soon as you plant you will need to water, but not prior to putting plants or seeds into the ground.
  • Adding organic matter – Organic matter (such as compost or manure) gives soil the nutrients that it needs to fuel plant growth. You can either create your own compost pile, or buy it through your local garden center. Be careful though, a little can go a long way.
  • Level the soil – It may seem like overkill but it i necessary to level out your soil in your garden to make sure that water is uniformly absorbed by your plants.
  • Mulch your paths –  Adding mulch or hay in between garden rows will help with deterring the growth of weeds.

Learning about soil preparation is not hard, it just requires your attention and a little bit of time. This will definitely be time well spent and will help you have a healthy and fruitful harvest.

The Bestest Sugar Cookies EVAH!

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m usually all about healthy and sustainable food choices and it’s true. However when my youngest begs to make Valentine cookies for her friends, and then I want to make some for my friends, the only way to do that is to break out the bestest cookie recipe.

The recipe comes from a super secret cookbook I bought from a 4-H club in 1998.

The Bestest Sugar Cookies EVAH!

Yield: 30

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 sticks margarine (room temperature)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Instructions

  1. Using a mixer cream together: sugar, margarine, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract.
  2. Then add the dry ingredients: flour, salt, and baking soda.
  3. Chill in the refrigerator at least 2 hours or overnight (very important to do this).
  4. Take about 1/4 of dough and roll out on floured board.
  5. Keep remainder in ice box.
  6. Cut out and bake at 350 for 8 minutes for a soft cookie and 10 minutes for a crunchy cookie.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2018/02/11/bestest-sugar-cookies-evah/

After making the cookies, the thing that just makes it is the icing and decorations. I just used the recipe for royal icing on the back of the meringue powder container.

Royal Icing: Combine 1/4 cup meringue powder with 1/2 cup cold water, and beat until peaks form. Then beat in 4 cups of powdered sugar. 

For the decorations this year we opted to use Edible Color Markers.  The ones we used are Wilton Foodwriter Edible Color Markers. They are the way to go for people who can’t pipe icing worth a dang (ME!)

For my daughter’s cookies, we just put her friends’ names on them and made them pretty. For the ones for my friends, I let my adult humor hang out just a tad.

Moral of the story? Sometimes it’s ok to splurge and do something fun and not in the regular realm. Start to finish my youngest and I spent about 6 hours of quality time together working on these and that is worth each and every calorie and gram of sugar!

Baked Chicken Bruschetta (recipe)

In a world where faster is always better, I tend to disagree. I’m more of a slow cooker, all day electric meat smoker kind of girl. However, in the middle of the week I’m always trying to figure out how to get a healthy beautiful meal on the table in record time with limited mess.  Most weeknights find the girls running from activity to activity, me doing chores at home and at the farm, and the husband coming in late from working and ranching, but I have about a 30 minute window in which we can all eat together.

One of our favorite newer to us recipes is Baked Chicken Bruschetta. It combines our love of baked chicken, along with fresh ingredients and incredible flavor…. not to mention it takes 35 minutes start to finish and bakes all in one pan.

Baked Chicken Bruschetta (recipe)

Baked Chicken Bruschetta (recipe)

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts, butterflied
  • 4 medium tomatoes (ripe), chopped
  • 1/2 cup basil, julienned
  • 2 Tbspn. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Spray bottom of casserole pan with cooking spray
  3. Lay chicken breasts in the bottom of the pan.
  4. Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  5. In a bowl mix tomatoes, basil, and Parmesan thoroughly.
  6. Spread the tomato, basil, and cheese mixture over chicken.
  7. Cover with boil and bake for 25 minutes.
  8. Uncover and bake for 7 to 10 more minutes.
  9. Serve with roasted vegetables or over rice.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2018/02/11/855/

So put this recipe on your monthly dinner rotation, your family will thank you for it, as now I’ve learned to double the recipe so that there is actually some leftovers.

Gardening Series #2: What Kind of Garden Should I Plant?

Welcome back! This is the second in a series of posts for beginning gardeners. If you missed the first installment, you can go to it here

Gardening was not an easy road for me. I didn’t grow up gardening and I just thought all food came from the grocery store and why did you need to grow anything. My husband grew up around his grandparents and great-grandparents large farm gardens so he expected the same.  My advice here is purely that, advice. I’m using what I have learned along this journey to help guide you in yours.

1. How Big of a Garden Should I Grow? My advice here is to start small. The first time I decided to garden I did about 20 different pots on our porches. They did great for awhile, but it became too many for me to take care of properly. I didn’t have the habit of taking care of them regularly. That takes time. My advice would be to start small. It will grow exponentially in the future as you get a handle on it all, and learn each season.

2. Where Are You Going To Put A Garden? Depending on the space you need and the time you have you need to determine if you are going to have a container garden, raised beds, or an actual plot. Again, small is best to start.  Most vegetables need 6 to 10 hours of sun (whether direct or indirect), so even though you have this beautiful spot under a tree in the backyard, nothing is really going to grow there and you’ll just end up feeding your local backyard creatures.

3. What Should I Plant?  Stick with hardy vegetables your first foray. In my area, spring is good for lettuces, radishes, and spinach. Summer veggies that are easy are tomatoes, peppers (bell and jalapenos), herbs (basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, peppermint), and if you have the room zucchini or summer squash.

4. Should I Start From Seed or From a Plant? Personally, we start all of ours by seed, indoors. However, we have been doing this for a while and have an intricate indoor growing set up (some neighbors thought we were growing pot a few years back).  If you are just starting, finding a good source of plants and just buying and planting them is probably the best solution. It is a little more expensive, but you’ll yield the best results and be more likely to continue gardening in the future.

5. When Should I Start Planting? It all depends on what zone you are in. To find out you can go here and find which zone you land in. In that link it will also give you a planting schedule as well as a list of what grows best in your area.  This year I wanted to plant ginger, however I’m on the line of zone 6 and 7 and it grows best in zones 8-11, so I’ll just have to decide if I want to try it.

What Are We Doing? Our plans are to continue our acre gardening area, as well as we have two raised beds up next to the house on the west side. In our raised beds we will do climbing spinach, rosemary, basil, oregano, sage, chives, and lemongrass. We might add a few heirloom specialty varieties of tomato or cucumber as well as a salad mix. Out at the farm in our large garden space we grow garlic, onions, potatoes, corn, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, asparagus, jalapenos, hatch chiles, cayenne peppers, bell peppers, summer squash, zucchini, and spaghetti squash.

Word of Advice. If this is your first year, don’t go crazy. Gardening takes time and discipline. You have to make the time to care for your plants, not just when you plant and harvest. It takes time to form those habits and if you do too much you’ll be overwhelmed and more likely to give up.

Next Up: Preparing Soil and Other Ways to Get Your Garden Ready!

 

Gardening Series #1: Reasons to Start a Vegetable Garden

Earlier this month, I was crowd sourcing on Instagram about questions people have about gardening. I decided that since there were so many questions that people had and truly didn’t know the answer to that I would start a Gardening series here on the blog.

One of the biggest things that a potential new gardener should ask themselves, is if gardening is a good fit for them, especially before you begin. Gardening is a lot of hard work, but it is definitely worth it . Look through the reasons I have listed below and see if it trips your trigger to dive into vegetable gardening.

5 Reasons to Start a Vegetable Garden

1. Learning Something New: I am a seasoning gardener and each year I plant, weed, harvest, and preserve I am always learning some new tip or trick. Gardening is an ongoing  learning experience and if you think you have it mastered, the garden usually lets you know you don’t.

2. You Know Where Your Food Comes From: When you grow your own food, you not only have a grocery store at your disposal, but you know where it came from, how it was grown, what chemicals (if any) have been used, and you can eat it with a clear conscience.

3. Saving Money: When you grow your own food, you are usually only out the cost of the plant and/or seed. Some gardeners like to have a more elaborate set up, however no matter which route you take you will be saving money and have delicious and beautiful produce to show for it. In addition, if you are like me, and tend to over plant, you can always sell your leftovers, or preserve them through canning, freezing, and dehydrating.

4. Exercise: Gardening is a great form of exercise. It’s not like you can skip it, like you can the gym. There is always work to be done such as weeding, watering, planting, harvesting, etc. Depending on the size of your garden and how much time you spend in it, you can give yourself a daily workout.

5. Dirt Therapy: I use this term to describe the time I spend in the garden. When I’m in the garden it is my time to think, work through emotions, and just generally clear my head. Time in the garden also tends to be quite solitary as no one wants to weed through it with me, ha. The therapy also comes in handy when you are able to be proud of your harvest accomplishments.

If any of this sounds good to you, then stick around this week for another installment in the gardening series. The topic will be How to Get Started Gardening. If you have any gardening related questions, please feel free to add them in the comments, come to my Facebook Page, or email me at houghfamilyhomestead@gmail.com 

 

Easy Cajun Rice Pilaf, the Ultimate side dish.

This post was sponsored by Riceland Foods in conjunction with The Women Bloggers, LLC. All opinions are always honest and my own.

As a homesteader, I like to use as many homegrown ingredients in my cooking as possible. However, when I can’t grow the food myself,  I go with brands I trust and one brand that I have mad love for is Riceland. Riceland Foods is the world’s largest miller and marketer of rice grown by farmers in Arkansas and Missouri. #ProntoPerfectRice

In my neck of the woods, Riceland products are hit or miss. But I’m willing to drive if it means getting the quality ingredient that I need. I know that Harp’s Foods carries most Riceland products, but not all carry Boil-in-Bag white rice.

I was already in Vinita for a family gathering, so I decided to go stock up on Boil-in-Bag at the next town over, Chelsea.

Normally I just use the rice all by its beautiful self as a side dish, but I’ve been wanting to do a little more and to add my own flair to it.

My husband spent some of the weekend out on a local lake fishing for catfish. I knew at some point we would be having fried fish, so I wanted a side dish that would compliment the fish but have some of its own flair, so Easy Cajun Rice Pilaf was born.

Easy Cajun Rice Pilaf #RicelandBoilinBag

Yield: 8

Easy Cajun Rice Pilaf #RicelandBoilinBag

Ingredients

  • 2 bags Riceland Boil in Bag White Rice
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 c. chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 c. chopped yellow onion
  • 2 Tbspn. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbspn. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. cajun seasoning (I used "Slap Ya Mama", but any will do)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Pour chicken broth into pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add bags of rice and cook according to the directions on the box, using chicken broth rather than water.
  3. While the rice is cooking, in a large saucepan, on medium heat, melt butter.
  4. Once butter is melted and simmering add onions, peppers, garlic, Cajun seasoning, and salt and pepper and allow to cook.
  5. Once rice is finished, pour off 1/2 cup of broth and add to saucepan. Drain rice and add to saucepan.
  6. Cook on medium low heat for about 3-4 minutes, stirring consistently until all liquid is dissolved.
  7. Serve warm or cold as a perfect side-dish
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2018/01/11/easy-cajun-rice-pilaf-ultimate-side-dish/

I prepared the rice the way it is listed on the package, however instead of using water, I boiled the rice in some of my homemade chicken broth. If you don’t have homemade, I was then use store bought because it gives the rice such an additional rich flavor.

Look at this gorgeous rice. It seems to always cook perfectly with Boil-in-Bag.

Once the rice is finish, just add it to the mixture, stir and cook for a few minutes while the liquid is absorbed. Then it is ready to serve. Have a wooden spoon ready, as I had to beat the family off just to get a picture.

As you can see it was a perfect compliment to the fish. The batter on the fish is also from Riceland and gluten free just like the rice.

What are your favorite rice dishes? Please share them in the comments, because I would love to know more way to use my favorite rice!

 

A Legacy Not Lost….

Towards the end of the summer I was in a panic! I was almost out of canning jars.  In fact I was headed to my local farm store later in the day to get more when I received a phone call. I was butt deep in the garden so I didn’t answer. I eventually called my friend back and he asked if I was interested in some jars.  A distant relative was moving out of her house and moving in with her daughter and needed to get rid of all her jars.  Of course I was on it in a hot minute.

When I arrived I was in awe. The garage was full of shelving that contained years of canned goods. There was pretty much anything and everything there. I told the people who I was and who had sent me. They apologized for the jars being full and told me I’d have to empty them myself.

They started piling the jars in boxes and started loading my SUV until it was completely full and couldn’t hold anymore.

 

The woman’s daughter asked me what I needed all the jars for. I informed her that I would be using them to can things from my own harvests, as her mother had done. She then asked me to come in and talk to her mother. I walked into the house, now empty of just about everything, and saw a small woman with a homemade dress and a neat bun on top of her head. I introduced myself and told her thank you and what my plans were for the jars.

A petite  elderlywoman rose and walked over to me, she put one hand in mine and the other on my face. She told me, “Thank you for taking the jars and using them the right way. I worked very hard to provide for my family the only way I knew how. They have no idea how much love is in each one of those jars”.

A lump rose in my throat. Again I thanked her and told her I promised I would take care of the jars and their contents and I quickly left.

I took the jars to the farm. Unloaded them into a shed and went through them. If they were too old, I put the contents in a bucket and fed them to the hogs. The rest of the jars were put away for safe keeping and eating.

IF there is a lesson from my story, it is that I realized that my lifestyle of homesteading and food preservation is important, but it’s also my way to show others that I care about them. I care to spend the time and give them the very best. I also realized how important it is to carry this tradition on to others and my own children.  The way was paved for me by many women in homemade dresses and buns doing what they could to make sure their family was cared for and it makes it all worth while.

Peanut Butter Protein Balls – I got balls y’all, no bake balls!

My youngest, a high school freshman, goes through these phases when it comes to her lunch. My oldest was easy, same thing every day. it was always a PBJ on wheat bread. Every.Single.Day.  Not the same with Nan as she has an aversion to sandwiches. She needs a nutritious lunch as she has weightlifting later in the afternoon. I did the Pinterest thing, and found a few things she was willing to try, but I tweaked one of the recipes I found and it’s become a major hit .

No-bake Peanut Butter Protein Balls

Yield: 24

Ingredients

  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (crunchy or creamy, your choice)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 3/4 cup quick oats
  • 2 small scoops protein powder (I used a vanilla pea protein, but you can use whatever you want, or omit altogether)
  • 1/2 cup mini dark chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir together.
  2. Place wax or parchment paper on a cookie sheet.
  3. Roll the mixture into 1 inch balls and place on parchment paper.
  4. Freeze about 2-3 hours or until set.
  5. Keep in refrigerator.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2017/11/09/peanut-butter-protein-balls-got-balls-yall-no-bake-balls/

I love that they make about 24 and I pop 5 or 6 into her lunch.  Nan usually ends up eating 4, and her friends love eating them too! I love that I don’t have to feel guilty about her lunch and that when I open her lunch box at the end of the day they are all gone. I’m working on tweaking this recipe again and working with almond butter as well. They also make a great quick breakfast.  Try it out!

Game Time the Simple Way – #RedBaronGameTime

This post was sponsored by Red Baron in conjunction with The Women Bloggers, LLC. All opinions are always honest and my own.

It’s not secret that we lead a busy life. Between both working full time jobs, farm and ranch responsibilities, and parenting two busy teens, we long for the simple things in life. Sports unites all 4 of us together. Our family LOVES sports. Both girls have played or are playing sports, and when we aren’t running from gym to gym for volleyball, we enjoy watching sports together as a family. The simple way that we choose to gather around the TV and watch our favorite games is a special tradition for us.

When we go to the “big city” it’s important for us to stock up on the essentials.  Earlier this month we were in the city for a volleyball tournament so I snuck to my favorite place to stock up, Sam’s Club. 

Even though we try to eat as natural as possible, one area that we splurge on is gameday food. It’s important that it is something that everyone likes and that it is easy to cook. The Red Baron Deep Dish Mini Pizzas fit that bill, and they are a favorite of the under 21 crowd in our house.

I also found these Red Baron Deep Dish Singles that came in both pepperoni and cheese which makes me happy. They are great for game day, but also for a quick lunch for this teacher too!

One of my favorite things about Sam’s Club is the ability to do self check out.  Honestly, it satisfies my busy lifestyle, but also my obsession with using the hand held scanner.

Last week was an away game for our favorite college football team, so of course we had to have our game day tradition!  The hubs and I thought it would be fun to try to cook the Red Baron pizzas on our flat top griddle. We love cooking outside and with out griddle.

The griddle works best for us when we are cooking for a crowd, or just us. Did I mention we know how to eat? Place the griddle on low heat, and spray with non-stick spray.

Cover the pizzas with a foil tent and let cook for 10 minutes.

The pizzas come out perfectly cooked with a gooey top and a crisp crust!

From start to finish it only took about 15 minutes total. While the pizzas were cooking it game me time to throw together a lite salad and get my comfy clothes on.  Game time meals don’t have to be elaborate or time consuming and they don’t have to include a full house. Sometimes it’s just the simple things in life that make the best memories. Want to try these awesome products from Red Baron Pizza? You can find them at your local Sam’s Club, and be sure to check out Red Baron on social media as well!

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