December 30, 2012

A "new" New Year's Eve Munchie.

 With New Year's Eve just a day away, my family is already asking what "goodies" we are going to munch on for the big night.  Ugh, I do not know about you but I am still trying to recover from all the eating that we did from Christmas! When I suggested we do not have anything, we almost had mutiny here in the ol' homestead. The tradition of each person picking out a munchie for the big night runs strong in this clan, I was out numbered!

Since I am trying to whittle down to the "Goddess I Truly Am Inside" I came up with a NOT as fattening goodie for me. I found that I had some mini sweet peppers back in the fridge. (I like to say I buy these for the health benefit, well I sort of do, but I am a sucker for anything little and cute.) Sorry, I digress...

With my stock of what not in the refrigerator, a bit of creativity, "Savory Stuffed Sweet Peppers" came to life!

Savory Stuffed Sweet Peppers

Believe me they are just as yummy as they look! The best part is these are ALL mine! (Insert Evil laugh here!) My kids and hubby are not pepper fans. Here is how I made them:


*For a serving of Eight Peppers

8 Mini Sweet Peppers
 4 oz. Low-fat cream cheese
1/4 cup of low-fat cheddar cheese
2 slices of bacon, crumbled
1 tsp. of onion powder
1 tsp. of garlic powder
1 tsp. of Oregano
Black Pepper to taste

Clean and hollow out the peppers, removing the steam and seeds. In a separate bowl, mix all the other ingredients together.  Spoon the mixture into the peppers to fill them. Now for the tricky part. Baking them standing up so your mixture does not spill out of the pepper. I have seen baking pans that are made for Jalapeno Poppers. They have small holes to allow the pepper to stand up. I do not have one, so I just used a mini muffin pan to keep them in their up right position.I also use this idea when I make Stuffed Mushrooms. I am all about using what you already have in your kitchen. Bake them at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the pepper is soft. I put sprigs of Marjoram on the tops for an added sweet taste.



December 28, 2012

Family Favorite Holiday Cookies

Nut Jammers

1 cup of Butter
8 oz. package of cream cheese
2 c. sifted flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 12 oz. jar of apricot or peach jam
2 tsp. granulated sugar
1/2 cup of powdered sugar

Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

Oh, the light, fluffy, nutty goodness! Here is how to make them:

Cream butter and cream cheese. Sift flour and baking powder and then add to the creamed mixture. Chill dough for 2 to 3 hours. Mix nuts, jam and granulated sugar. Divide dough into 4 equal parts, work with half of the dough at a time. Roll dough very thing on a floured surface. Cut dough into 2 inch squares. Spoon in nut mixture in the center of the square. Fold on side of the dough square over nut mixture to create a pocket. Use fork to seal. (See picture above) Bake 20 minutes. Remove cookies from cookie sheet to cool. Sprinkle powdered sugar over them. 

Here is another Family Favorite! Especially for my Dad. This is his Mom's recipe!

Grandma Cutcher's Molasses Cookies

2 cups sugar
2 sticks of margarine
2 large eggs
1 12 ounce bottle of molasses
1/2 cup of water
3 tsp. of baking soda
2 tsp of Cinnamon
1/2 tsp of Ginger
1 tsp. salt
6 cups of flour

Cream the first three ingredients together. Add Molasses and water to the creamed mixture, mixing well. In a separate bowl, combine the baking soda, Cinnamon, Ginger, Salt and flour. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed ingredients. Make sure you mix together well. Batter will be sticky, so put into the refrigerator for about 2 hours to chill. Roll dough onto a well floured surface to about 1/2 inches thick. Cut out with a round cookie cutter or use other fun shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes. I look at the bottom of the cookie to see if they are done. The bottom should be just lightly brown. Remove from sheet immediately to cool. Frost with your favorite icing

December 20, 2012

Cluck, Cough, Cluck, Cough! A Chicken Cold.

** My Disclaimer: Before I even begin, I am not a vet and do not claim to be. My experience with what I am going to talk about comes from first hand, a lot of reading, and my own vet's instruction.

When we decide to venture into the world of "chickens" we educated ourselves, talked to other chicken owners, and read countless books and blogs. Having chickens seemed like a fairly easy thing to do, and truly it is. However, we were not prepared for dealing with illness. The illness we have encountered is one that many small backyard flock owners deal with. Coryza.

Coryza? Maybe you know it by Roup, or you have never heard of it before. If you have not, then I am glad. Basically, the word Coryza means "cold." In chickens, Coryza is one the most highly contagious respiratory illnesses. Just like humans, a cold in chickens spreads easily and will infect your whole flock. If you are like me, you will Google this and freak out, don't! You will end up crying thinking you will have to cull your flock. Dealing with Coryza is not fun or cheap but it can be managed in small flocks. Remember I said "small flocks." Granted having a Coryza outbreak in large commercial flocks would not be good and many in this situation do have to cull their birds. Depending on your situation, you may even cull your birds. I would not judge anyone for this. For us, this was not an option. We are lucky to have a avian vet locally that "knows her chickens." But I digress...

Let's look at the Nuts and Bolts of this Coryza thing, alright? The best place to turn to when you have a sick chicken is a reputable source for chickens and their illnesses. My first mistake was to go to a "forum" and read and ask questions. Some of the information was helpful, some scarey, and some according to my vet was way off! So, proceed with caution.

So how do you know if your sick chicks have Coryza? There are common symptoms. For us some of the symptoms did not show right away. We actually thought our chicken  had just got her eye pecked and kept irritating it by rubbing it with her foot and her wing. It was not until another of our girls started with watery eyes that we knew we had an issue.

Our Luna at her worst.
Common Symptoms of Coryza

  • Watery and bubbly eyes
  • Swollen eyes and nasal areas. Especially around and behind the eye.
  • Coughing
  • Nasal discharge that smells like a dead animal. Believe me once you smell this you will always know the smell! That was the number one give away for our vet.
  • Lack of eating/drinking
  • Lack of energy
  • Death may result if not treated or in birds that have a low immunity or are young.


Coryza is caused by a bacteria. The Merek Veterinary Manual does a good job explaining the type of bacteria if you are interested.   Because it is caused by a bacteria, antibiotics are the only way to treat Coryza. Common antibiotics used are Erythomycin and Oxytetracycline based. Sulfamides can also be used.  Despite our efforts to treat this herbally, we had to use medicine. However, we still gave the girls their Apple Cider Vinegar, greens, garlic and other immune giving treats to them. I believe this did help when combining the medicine. Our vet also suggested that we utilize a vaporizer or put them in our bathroom and steam them to help loosen up the congestion. I used VETRX which is to me Vicks for chickens! Because Coryza is highly infectious, we had to separate the sick chickens from the rest of the flock for 21 days while they were being treated. Coryza does not penetrate egg. However, you must throw out the eggs while the chickens are being treated with antibiotics. We did not have to worry about it because our girls were still young.


Oh, the things you learn! The best way to avoid Coryza or any other disease in your flock is BIOSECURITY! Maintaining an "All in/All out" practice is important. When getting new birds, isolate them for a good period of time before introducing them to the rest of the flock. Make sure that you do not cross contaminate anything between flocks. Symptoms for our chicken took about 2 1/2 weeks to even show.

Coryza even though we successfully treated our girls is not anything I would wish upon anyone. The expense, the special accommodations, and not to mention the emotional aspect. I was a emotional wreck! I was such a worried Chicken Mom, just like I worry over my own human children when they are sick. Not to mention what a hassle it was to give antibiotics orally to chickens. Luckily, they were only about a pound, I could not imagine doing it now with 5 month old big girls! It gave wrestling a whole new meaning! But we do what we do, and continue to love our chickens!

December 5, 2012

*Update* On Willow vs. The Chickens: We have success!

 Let there be peace on earth, or at least in our backyard!
We knew that having a "bird dog" and getting chickens may be a conflict of interest. However, we have success! I joke that it is a holiday miracle, but after three months of a LOT of getting to know you, training, and positive reinforcement, our Weimaraner Willow no longer wants to eat the Ladies of the yard! However she still becomes a hot barking jealous mess any time I go out with ladies and do not include her, but I will take it!
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"What do you mean you are going to bed?

December 1, 2012

Ninjabread Cookies

Well I cannot take 100% credit for these fun little guys. My hubby and I were out shopping and came across these fun cookie cutters at our local Big Lots store. Of course we just HAD to have them for a few reasons.
  1.  My husband is a martial artist and has been for over 28 years.
  2.  I love cookie cutters and collect them. The more unique the better!
  3. My kids are really into Lego Ninjago at the moment.
  4. I love to cook. However, regardless of my aspirations to become the "Cake Boss" baking is NOT my forte. So, I am trying to embrace baking by adding a bit of fun. (As you can see my hubby and kids were doing most of the work. I am getting there!)
How could I not get these, so quirky, so us! Of course we had to "set" them up after they were done in "action packed" scenarios. Can I get a "HI-YA?"