Friday, November 17, 2017

Why I'm Thankful

There is so much to be thankful for and this year is no exception.

I'm thankful for hard work, perseverance and dedication. Pushing through the hard days and keeping an eye on the end goal. For good nutrition and reliable running shoes. And of course, family.

Perseverance is turning down ice cream and pushing through a tough workout instead of quitting. It's that point during an ab workout when your abs hurt so bad and you want to switch to any other exercise, but your trainer won't let you. It's turning down comfort foods for healthier alternatives. Ice cream might as well be its own food group in my world, so this was a task in itself. Swapping social outings for more running, walking and gym time. In the end, it all paid off (more about that in a future post!). I'm thankful for hard workouts that become easier with time.

There was a day in the beginning of April when I decided I'd had enough. Enough of putting everyone else's needs ahead of my own, enough of not taking care of myself, and enough of being unhappy. My happiness is my responsibility and I was just tired of always being tired. I have been losing the same 10 pounds for decades. Literally, it's been 15-20 years on this losing and gaining weight roller coaster. I'm down 25 pounds and I am never going back. Healthy feels too good. I never really believed I could do it and I'm thankful for a personal trainer who believed in me from the start and kept pushing me. I'm also thankful for the wake up call on that chilly April day.

Hard work, dedication and perseverance are also innate qualities found in most farmers. Farm work is not easy and the volatile markets are not for the faint of heart. Working for the greater goal of preserving a family legacy and feeding families around the community, the nation and the world keep us going. It's important work!

On Thanksgiving and all year long, I'm thankful for farmers. Not only do they make the holiday feast possible, but they are some of the best friends, colleagues and people around. I'm so thankful to be part of the agriculture community and for our family farm.

On Thanksgiving, our cows will be feasting on their favorite meal before we eat ours. It's business as usual at the barn.

From our family to yours, Happy Thankgiving! (I'm also thankful for this family photo of all of us in 2012 - it's not the same with anyone missing)

Cranberry Walnut Stuffing

Stuffing and cranberry sauce are two of my favorite holiday side dishes, especially at Thanksgiving. If you love these two holiday staples, you will love my Cranberry & Walnut Stuffing. A little sweet, a little nutty, and all the comfort of stuffing.

Holidays bring out the cook in everyone. So many unique (and delicious) dishes. holidays get especially busy at the farm. Farmers cannot leave 'work at the office and enjoy the day.' Don't get me wrong - they definitely enjoy the day, after the work is done.

With livestock, every day is business as usual - holiday or not. Dairy cattle need to be milked, all livestock need to be fed, ice on the water troughs need to be broken if it is below freezing, and chores need to be completed. It's all about balance, and everyone pitches in to get the work done.

That's what I love about farming - the family component. It brings families together to work for a common goal. And what better goal than literally feeding the community and the world? For more about holidays on the farm, check out this post.

If you love cranberries, you will love this Cranberry Meatloaf. All the sweetness of cranberries and the comfort of meatloaf with a jalapeno finish.

Cranberry & Walnut Stuffing


  • Stovetop stuffing mix
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 0.5 cups crushed walnuts
  • 1 can cranberry sauce
  • 1.5 cups water


  1. Add the water and butter to a sauce pan and bring to a boil
  2. Then add the stuffing mix and immediately remove from heat
  3. Mix thoroughly
  4. Add the cranberry sauce and crushed walnuts
  5. Mix again until both ingredients are evenly distributed
  6. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Cookies are perfect all year long. Perfect for holiday parties. Perfect for summer picnics. Perfect for snacking - in moderation, of course. Chocolate peanut butter ice cream is one of my favs, and these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies are just as good! The best of both worlds: all the chewiness of classic peanut butter cookies with the rich chocolate you love.

There is nothing like homemade cookies. Store bought cookies or even prepared cookie dough just does not measure up. It's a little extra work, but toss the ingredients into your favorite mixer and you'll have cookie dough in no time.

Most of my cookie making memories are from my early childhood. Mom would make cookie dough and even though we weren't supposed to, we loved to sneak some of the cookie dough. Decorating Christmas cookies was always fun too!

Your family will love these Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies! For more cookie recipes, check out these Cherry Delight Cookies (a fav everywhere I take them!), Cherry Mint Sugar Cookies, and Thumbprint Cookies.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies


  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tablespoons Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa (100% Cacao)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I used creamy peanut butter)
  • 2 eggs
  • 0.5 teaspoon salt

1. Mix butter, peanut butter, white sugar and brown sugar together until blended in the mixer
2. Beat eggs into mixture
3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt (dry ingredients)
4. Stir dry ingredients into mixer
5. Add 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
6. Add 3-4 tablespoons Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa powder (taste it after 2-3 tablespoons and add more if desired)
7. Place dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour
8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
9. Add parchment paper to baking trays.
10. Roll dough into balls and place on baking sheets
11. Using a work, create criss cross marks on each cookie, flattening them
12. Bake cookies for 9 minutes
13. Let cookies cool for 20 minutes
14. Enjoy!

**Makes approximately 36 cookies. The dough also freezes well if you do not want to bake all of the cookies immediately***

Monday, November 6, 2017

Cranberry Meatloaf

Nothing says holiday cooking quite like cranberry sauce. This time of year is all about comfort food and it's a good time to try out new recipe and get creative in the kitchen. This is my go to holiday meatloaf recipe and it is always a hit! My Cranberry Meatloaf has the sweetness of cranberries, the comfort of traditional meatloaf and to finish it off, a hit of jalapeno from the jalapeno ketchup.

Our family celebrates the holidays potluck style with the entire side of the family. Hosting rotates between my mom and her siblings for each event and each year. Of course, everyone is known for a favorite dish and generally brings that. Aunt Mabel has a delicious dirt pudding recipe that was always a favorite with the kids. Then there's a pretzel salad with raspberry jello and cool whip that is amazing and several other staples.

As a kid, cranberry sauce was my favorite part of Christmas dinner, and Mom would bring one can for each my brother and I and then another for everyone else. On the farm, the animals still need to be fed on holiday mornings. On a dairy, there is milking and more than has to be done. This stays on schedule with non-holidays and everything else fits around it. At our place, we make sure the beef cows have enough hay to eat and their water trough is full. We do the same in the evening as well. They are sweethearts. I doubt they realize it's a holiday; although, I'm sure they are aware of the extra commotion.

The holidays (or any day, really) aren't the same without Grandpa. He loved his cows and his family so much. This photo was a few years ago during a snow storm, which isn't a frequent occurrence in our neck of the woods. He was going out to feed the cows. For more about holidays on a dairy farm, click here.

This Cranberry Meatloaf is a new twist on an old favorite. For more comfort food the family will love, check out this Parmesan Chicken Fettuccine and Chicken Pot Pie.

Cranberry Meatloaf


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 6 oz box stuffing mix (chicken)
  • 1 can cranberry sauce
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup regular ketchup
  • Jalapeno ketchup is added on top (I used Red Gold's Mama Selita's Jalapeno Ketchup)

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
2. Mix ground beef, stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, eggs and regular ketchup until blended
3. Coat a 13x9" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and shape mixture into a loaf
4. Bake for 60 minutes
5. Add jalapeno ketchup to the top
6. Bake for 10-15 more minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the meatloaf comes out clean
7. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, slice and enjoy!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan #44

Fall is in full-swing and these Pumpkin Pie Spice Waffles from The Shirley Journey are perfect for a cool November breakfast!

Mondays need something easy! Kimmi's Dairyland has you covered with a yummy Tomato & Basil Grilled Cheese.


Celebrate Taco Tuesday this week with Organized Island's Taco Pasta with Ground Beef!

The Shirley Journey's Chicken Enchilada Soup looks perfect for a midweek pick-me-up!

How amazing do these French Dip Sandwiches with Caramelized Onion Au Jus look?!? I think The Crumby Kitchen nailed this one!

Finish up the week with this Enchilada Casserole from My Fearless Kitchen.

Dessert's Required's Crustless Pecan Pie Rice Pudding will hit the spot for your pie craving this fall!


 Enjoy your weekend with leftovers or a fun night out - we'll see you next week with another tasty round-up of meals!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan #43

We've got you covered with another week of delicious and family-friendly meal plans. Enjoy and be sure to let me know which is your favorite!

Meal-plan 43 Keeping it Easy Weekly Meal Plan  
 Fall is in full swing! These Simple Pumpkin Pancakes from Organized Island are a great way to celebrate a fall morning! So easy to make too, with just a few ingredients.

  Simple way to make fluffy, pumpkin pancakes! A fun fall breakfast.Monday
 Not quite ready for Monday? Put your slow cooker to work today to help you get these tasty Slow Cooker Tacos from My Fearless Kitchen. What an awesome way to start the week!


 This Creamy Baked Crab Macaroni and Cheese from The Shirley Journey will have your family asking for more. Talk about some tasty comfort food!
 Another busy week? These Sweet and Spicy BBQ Ribs from Kimmi's Dairyland are a nice addition to your week! Nicely glazed and roasted to perfection!

 Whoo-hoo! The weekend is almost here. Get dinner on the table quickly with this easy Potato and Mexicorn Chowder from Organized Island


It's FriYAY! Celebrate the moments of the week with your family with this tasty Slow Cooker Jambalaya from The Crumby Kitchen.

 Get the family excited for Halloween with these cute Halloween Potato Chip Haystacks from Desserts Required. So easy and cute!


 Take the weekend off, enjoy your leftovers, or eat out. We’ll be testing more recipes for you in our own kitchens!