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Recipe: The Best Freaking Snack Mix Ever aka “AgHag Chex Mix”

If you are into “clean” eating, low calorie, or unprocessed food, move along, nothing to see here. However, if you are into delicious snack food, that brings you a great sense of joy and happiness, you are in the right place.

Chex mix has always brought me inner food peace. From my Great Aunt Mary’s mix as a child, to the stuff you buy in the store, I have never met a chex mix I didn’t love. Whenever I have felt ill or not hungry, chex mix can usually be counted on to make me feel better. It’s my spirit food animal. If I am ever on death row, this will be requested as part of my last meal.

Oh, chex mix, how I love you.

Oh, chex mix, how I love you.

Lately I have been on a huge Chex Mix kick. I’ve been making about a batch a week. My friends are getting care packages of it. Every time I make it just a whisper different. You see, that is the beauty of making your own chex mix. You can do anything you want! You can add your favorite things! This is currently how I am making my favorite batch.

AgHag Chex Mix

For “The Mix”

3 cups Corn Chex cereal
3 cups Rice Chex cereal
2 cups Wheat Chex cereal
2 cups cheese-its
2 cups Bugles
2 cups cheerios (I prefer the store brand actually, it has more nutritional value, read the label!)
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 cup cashews
2 cup pretzels

 For “The Sauce”

1 cube of butter
1/2 cup worcestershire
1/4 cup hot sauce (tapatio, rooster sauce or tabasco sauce work just fine)
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 package of ranch mix (keep this separate)

Don't make it all pretty like this, just dump it in a big pile, it makes it easier to mix. I did this purely for a pretty photo.

Don’t make it all pretty like this, just dump it in a big pile, it makes it easier to mix. I did this purely for a pretty photo.

 

1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

2. Melt the butter. Add the next 7 ingredients for the sauce to your melted butter.

3. In a large 9×13 sheet cake pan, mix together all 9 of the cereals, nuts and chips.

4. Toss “the sauce” and “the mix” together until coated. Be gentle, as you don’t want to crush your cereals. After everything is coated, open up your ranch mix and gently sprinkle that over your sheet pan, gently toss again.

Step 4: the dry ranch mix being incorporated. This is an important step, don't skip it!

Step 4: the dry ranch mix being incorporated. This is an important step, don’t skip it!

 

5. Bake for 1 hour, stirring the mixture every 15 minutes.

6. Store in an airtight container, that is if you have any left.

Again, Friends, use this recipe only for good. It has great and powerful juju. It is also perfect for Ranch Days, soccer games, movies, Super Bowls and field trips.

 

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Chokecherry Jelly

A few weeks ago, my Dad was reminiscing with me about family history and family members long dead and gone. I was lucky enough to meet some of these people when I was small. I have some hazy memories of certain encounters. I am constantly trying to strengthen these memories by pestering people who remember more than I do, or connecting by recipes, because taste and smell seem to bring memories galloping back.

I battled beard and mountain lions for these chokecherries! See the broken limbs?  From a bear!

I battled bears and mountain lions for these chokecherries! See the broken limbs? From a bear!

My Dad was telling me about cutting firewood for his Aunties and doing various “chores” for them like picking fruit, killing wild game, etc. Dad mentioned he used to pick a lot of chokecherries and gooseberries for jelly making. Immediately I perked up and demanded to know more.

This is what chokecherries look like.

This is what chokecherries look like.

I had vague memories of riding my horse and picking something for jelly when I was very small. I was little, therefore, super short, and couldn’t reach the fruit. But, like any enterprising young ranch kid, you found ways around that. I can’t remember much about this memory, like what berry, how old I was, or who we were picking them for, but I do remember riding my horse Sequoia.

Some of the biggest bear poo I've ever seen. I had all my cowdogs with me, just in case!

Some of the biggest bear poo I’ve ever seen. I had all my cowdogs with me, just in case!

I spent so much time on our mountain ranch this summer I was unable to devote as much time to my passions of gardening and canning. However when Dad taught me what a chokecherry bush looked like, I knew I had the opportunity to make up for lost canning time! During the middle of the afternoon, when it was too hot to do much else, I picked chokecherries, lots and lots.

Seriously, I went overboard. Typical.

Seriously, I went overboard. Typical.

 

Chokecherry Jelly

  • 3 cups chokecherry juice
  • 6 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 box (2 pouches) liquid pectin
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter (to prevent foaming)

Pour juice, sugar and butter into large heavy saucepan and stir to mix. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin. Bring to a full, rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir and skim off foam.  Add almond extract. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal with two-piece canning lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

This jelly is delicious. The almond extract really adds a lovely layer of flavor. Since I picked so many chokecherries I am attempting to make wine. Stay tuned as I am just a few more weeks from trying it, and if it’s good, I’ll show you how I did it!

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Salt Cured Egg Yolks

Like the majority of Americans, I have a Facebook page. As most of us know, Facebook offers groups you can join. There are groups for everything, I belong to everything from teacup pigs owners groups to stuff your own sausage groups.  One of my favorites these days is The Cult of Pre-Pasteurian Preservation and Food Preparation, moderated by Ken Albala.

A turkey egg.

A turkey egg.

 

A few months back someone in the group was talking about salt cured eggs and how delicious they were. I decided I needed to try them!

Aren't they pretty?

Aren’t they pretty?

I just happened to have a dozen free-range, red bourbon, turkey eggs that were begging for me to use them. I also had some black truffle salt, itching to be used on eggs! Match made in heaven.*

Egg yolks buried in delicious truffle salt.

Egg yolks buried in delicious truffle salt.

I buried the yolks in a layer of black truffle salt, then a layer of regular sea salt. I left this alone, covered, in my refrigerator for two weeks.

ALmost cured yolks.

Almost cured yolks.

After the two weeks were up, I knocked as much salt off as I could, wrapped the yolks in cheesecloth and hung them in my fridge for another week.

All done!

All done!

I had been dying to try these for months at this point and finally got the chance on a green salad. You literally must use a cheese grater to use these eggs, but it is worth it! The eggs could also be served over pasta and other vegetables.

So, so, so good.

So, so, so good.

Once your egg yolks are cured, keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a month.

*Also you can use regular chicken eggs and salt. I was just being extra fancy.

 

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Roasted Broccoli

Growing up, I always liked broccoli. My Mom steamed it and served it with mayonnaise. I never cared for the mayo, because I liked how broccoli tasted! It’s delicious! But just TRY and make me eat onions, I’ll have a temper tantrum, to this day! I can safely say, I loathe onions and the more that people give me a bad time about that, the more I hate onions.

Speaking of, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve enjoyed learning new and different methods of preparing my favorite foods and avoiding those I loathe. Roasting has quickly become my new favorite way to eat broccoli! And the good news? NO ONIONS IN SIGHT!

This recipe will change the way you feel about broccoli.

This recipe will change the way you feel about broccoli.

Roasted Broccoli

1 head of broccoli, washed and chopped into bite size pieces (about a pound)

4 cloves of garlic, minced (you could use less, I really like garlic)

2 tablespoons olive oil (use lemon infused for a real treat)

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Broccoli, olive oil and garlic, yum.

Broccoli, olive oil and garlic, yum.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix the broccoli, chopped garlic, oil and salt together in a bowl, making sure to evenly coat. Spread on a cookie sheet, in a single layer.  Roast for about 15 minutes, until tender. Then place the cheese and pepper on the broccoli and roast for 5 more minutes or until your cheese is golden.

YES!!!!

YES!!!!

I’ve also made this recipe with bacon, citrus zest and juice, and all different kinds of finishing salt. If you omit the cheese and add bacon, it’s paleo! If you add cheese and bacon, it’s a main dish! There are so many variations with this recipe, it’s easy to keep it interesting.

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Sour Cream Chicken Casserole

You know those meals that are seared into your memory because they are the ultimate comfort for you? Those meals that when something bad happens, your Mom would make them for you to feel better? I also call these meals, death row foods. They are just so good I would want to eat them for my last meal.

I’m going to share with you one of those recipes. Here is the caveat though, you must PROMISE me you won’t try and church this recipe up. No replacing greek yogurt for the sour cream, no fake chicken, no margarine, the only thing you can do it add more butter, more sour cream, MOAR (but seriously though, don’t mess with this recipe, just enjoy).

When I was on  my puking tour (I HAD super bad anxiety, being off the ranch was hell for me, and my body would respond by being violently ill) of the Oregon Country Faire. My vegan ex-boyfriend tried to keep me from meat (puking up tofu sucks, it doesn’t taste any better coming back up (and who in their right mind tries to keep a cattlerancher from eating meat?!?!?)) this is the one meal I dreamed about (and a steak). All I wanted in life was for my Mom’s Sour Cream Casserole (and a steak). In the end, I got my meaty casserole and the vegan ex-boyfriend was released back into the wild as a single, omnivore (it’s my catch a release program).

This is what you will need (plus shredded chicken).

This is what you will need (plus shredded chicken).

Sour Cream Chicken Casserole

4-6 chicken breasts or 1 whole fryer
8oz pkg. Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix (make sure you get the kind in the BLUE package, it matters, trust me)
8 Tbsp. butter
8oz container sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup

Shred your chicken. If you use chicken breast, you can just throw them in your Kitchen Aid mixer while they are warm, with the paddle attachment, and it will shred your chicken FOR YOU!

Shred your chicken. If you use chicken breast, you can just throw them in your Kitchen Aid mixer while they are warm, with the paddle attachment, and it will shred your chicken FOR YOU!

Cook chicken, pick off meat.

You are going to have a layer of stuffing on the bottom and the top - plan accordingly.

You are going to have a layer of stuffing on the bottom and the top – plan accordingly.

Melt ½ of butter and ½ of the stuffing mix in the casserole dish.

The "filling". It's so good.

The “filling”. It’s so good.

In medium bowl mix sour cream, soups, and chicken. Spoon over layer of stuffing butter mixture. Mix together remaining stuffing and butter and spread over top of chicken.

I want this in my belly.

I want this in my belly.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Serve with cranberry sauce (for reals).

Promise me you will make this. It’s excellent with corn on the cob too and green beans, or brussel sprouts, or salad! And you need to serve warm bread with it so you can wipe up all the creamy goodness left on your plate. AND it’s is glorious as leftover!

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Pomegranate Jalapeno Jam

Pomegranate jalapeno jam. The best thing ever.

Pomegranate jalapeno jam. AKA the best thing ever.

I had a Facebook friend mention she made pomegranate jalapeno jam for Christmas gift. Since we have a few pomegranate trees and I grew a crapton of jalapenos, I felt the immediate need to make it. I scampered out to the garden and picked my special hot jalapenos and a bucket of pomegranates.

This is what a pomegranate tree looks like.

This is what a pomegranate tree looks like.

Juicing pomegranates is its own special kind of fun, the little pips will spit red juice at you and stain everything, the pith holds tight to the pips, it’s a lot of work. I have found if you put your pomegranate under water it makes it much easier to remove the pips.

Trust me, this prevents a lot of mess.

Trust me, this prevents a lot of mess.

My Mom has one of those industrial steam juicers, that makes it a whisper easier to juice them as well. If you don’t have access to pomegranates just go buy a bottle of Pom Wonderful juice and cheat, actually I highly recommend doing that, it will save you a lot of time.

Steam juicer. I love this thing.

Steam juicer. I love this thing.

3.5 cups pomegranate juice

1 cup jalapeno pulp (about 6 large)

6 Tbsp Classic Pectin (Or 1 box)

1/2 tsp butter

5 cups sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

Puree your jalapenos with 1/2 cup pomegranate juice in your cuisinart, you  may use less or more jalapenos, just make sure you end up with 4.5 cups of liquid.

The pom/jalapeno mixture. This will singe your nose hair's, beware.

The pom/jalapeno mixture. This will singe your nose hair’s, beware.

Put the juice mixture in a large saucepan. Gradually stir in pectin. Add up to 1/2 tsp butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to a full boil, stirring constantly.

Pips! Before juicing.

Pips! Before juicing.

Add the sugar and lemon juice, stirring to dissolve. Return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary.

Leave 1/4 inch headspace in your jars.  Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

Serve over pork chops, or cream cheese, or off the spoon.
Pomegranates are pretty.

Pomegranates are pretty.

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Candied Ginger, Vanilla-Blueberry Jam

I reached the zenith of my canning with this recipe. Local blueberries were on sale at our market and I couldn’t help myself, I had to buy some! Blueberries are my favorite. I could eat them everyday and still love them. Silly pig agrees with me, she loves them too. It was only natural I made jam with them.

Glorious blueberries. For cheap.

Glorious blueberries. For cheap.

I searched the internets for a suitable blueberry jam recipe. But I wanted something special. Something unusual. And I couldn’t find what I was looking for. So I had to mash-up a couple of recipes to create something that sounded  amazing to me. Enter candied ginger, vanilla-blueberry jam. I found a great recipe for blueberry jam over at Food in Jars (I love them, so much). But I wanted something more. I had some candied ginger in my pantry and some old vanilla beans I needed to use up, so I decided to combine them all, and I’m glad I did.

Candied ginger and vanilla beans. Heaven.

Candied ginger and vanilla beans. Heaven.

About 6 cups of smashed blueberries (this is around 8-9 cups of whole berries, it kinda depends on the size of your berries)
6 cups sugar
1 cup candied ginger, chopped fine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 vanilla beans, the guts scraped out
two packets liquid pectin

Smash your blueberries.

Smashed berries with sugar. Brought to a boil.

Smashed berries with sugar. Brought to a boil.

Add to a large pot. Add sugar.  Bring to a boil and add cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla guts, lemon juice and ginger and let jam continue to cook (simmer) for about fifteen minutes. Add pectin and bring to a rolling boil for a full five minutes.

Full, roiling boil.

Full, roiling boil.

Remove from from heat and fill sterilized jars. Leave 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust lids. Wipe rims and apply lids that have been cleaned and placed in a warm water bath. Screw on the bands and lower into the water.

My jam, ready for it's water-bath.

My jam, ready for it’s water-bath.

Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Enjoy this yummyness on pankcakes, biscuits, toast  or, my favorite standby, over cream cheese with crackers!

The finished product. It's good. I'm not going to lie to you. It has a very complex flavor that I really enjoyed.

The finished product. It’s good. I’m not going to lie to you. It has a very complex flavor that I really enjoyed.

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Adult 4-H: Processing the Hogs

This morning I had the pleasure of going to the Locker and watching my hog get cut up. Like watching a master musician or artist create a masterpiece, watching Craig the butcher break down these hogs was just breathtaking.

Linda holds your hand and very nicely walks you through your cuttinh order. It's so fun!

Linda holds your hand and very nicely walks you through your cutting order. It’s so fun!

The best thing about raising your own meat, or buying from people like me, is you get to decide how you want your meat cut and wrapped. That means you can decide what meat cuts you want, for example a pork loin or pork chops. You can decide how many chops you want in a package, how thick you want your chops, or bacon. For a foodie, it’s like a dream come true. I like it because it makes my life convenient – since I live alone, I only got two chops per package.

The whole pig. It took less than 30 minutes for them to break it down.

The whole pig. It took less than 30 minutes for them to break it down.

If you want a more in-depth explanation of these pictures please read Jenny’s post here

This is MY half. It will live in my locked freezer. It's MINE.

This is MY half. It will live in my locked freezer. It’s MINE.

The hog has been split into two sides. They will process one side at a time.

Kidney lives in the leaf lard, if that gives you an idea of where it is.

Kidney lives in the leaf lard, if that gives you an idea of where it is.

The first thing Craig does is remove the leaf lard. This is supposed to be the best lard ever for making baked goods. I’ve never had any before so I requested them to save it for me. I will render it down in my oven and then make heck of pie crusts and tortillas! Yum!

Kidney lives in the leaf lard, if that gives you an idea of where it is.

BACON

Check out this video of Craig cutting my beautiful chops.

Pork chops! Glorious chops!

Pork chops! Glorious chops!

This is the one time you will hear me say "look at all my beautiful fat!". Don't be jealous, I might share some if you ask....

This is the one time you will hear me say “look at all my beautiful fat!”. Don’t be jealous, I might share some if you ask….

This is a whole pig, granted he was small, but it is still pretty cool he's all there.

This is a whole pig, granted he was small, but it is still pretty cool he’s all there.

This is my Dad’s pork. It’ll get him through a summer of BBQing, it’s nice to change it up with some pork! We love beef, but variety is the spice of life!

This will be sausage.

This will be sausage.

All the scraps are saved for sausage, I wanted my sausage “southern style” because it is my personal favorite and makes the best biscuits and gravy. For reals. Come over for brunch, I’ll blow your mind!

Again, it's mine! It's all mine! It even has my name on it like an adult!

Again, it’s mine! It’s all mine! It even has my name on it like an adult!

Yeah, I’m excited. This was a lot of work right here!

My bacon and ham. Yum.

My bacon and ham. Yum.

The bacon and ham will take longer to get, because they must cure it. They said I would have my ham in time for Easter! YAY!

The Man, the myth, the legend. Mr. Dewey. Thank you so much for being so transparent and awesome! I love you guys!

The Man, the myth, the legend. Mr. Dewey. Thank you so much for being so transparent and awesome! I love you guys!

So my next blog will be what this whole project was about – pork!!!! I cannot wait to try it. Even though I raise animals for a living, I’ve never had this caliber of pork before. I’ve been dreaming about it! What should I try first?!

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Giveaway: Black Truffle Finishing Salt

Salt. Such a basic ingredient. Most of the time we don’t even notice it. This will change that. This black truffle finishing salt blew my mind.

Brown Ranch Filet with a generous sprinkling of black truffle finishing salt.

Finishing salt is added to the food after cooking. It’s enhanced flavor compliments whatever food it is served on. This particular salt compliments red meat like nothing I’ve ever tasted. This little grass finished  filet was breathtaking.

Perfect meal. I was in food coma for hours after. Also if you’ve never grilled a nectarine you haven’t lived!

All you have to do in leave me a comment below and I will use random.org to select a winner Monday, August 6. Good luck!

This could be yours!

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Biscotti

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 running over teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla, or coconut, ect. ect.  – almond is traditional)
1 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped* (or dried fruit, pecans, coconut, chocolate chips. Also good is lemon or orange zest.)

*if you divide the dough use 1/2 cup in each dough ball.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. If you don’t use parchment or a sil pad, lightly grease your cookie sheet.

Combine flour and baking powder; set aside.

In a mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the lemon zest (if using) and almond extract. Add the flour mixture, mixing until smooth.

Divide dough into two separate balls, adding two different mixtures of fruit, nuts or what have you, if you feel like it. (You don’t have to make two different flavors, I just like to, cause it’s fun)

Shape each portion into a loaf about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. Place loaves onto the cookie sheet about 4 inches apart, and flatten slightly.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until light brown. Cool on baking sheet for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cut baked loaves into 1/2 inch thick slices. Lay slices cut side down on the baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, or until crisp. Cool on wire rack. Make several
days before serving.

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