Slow Cooker “Crack” Chicken

Today I tried a new recipe called Slow Cooker  “Crack” Chicken and it was good!  It’s got everything a good meal needs; meat, cheese, ranch, and bacon.  It was pretty rich,so a little bit went a long ways, but the flavor was superb and even though it took some work to shred up the chicken breasts it was well worth it.  Not sure where they got the name crack from, but that’s what the link called it so that’s what I’m going with.

Here’s what you do to make the recipe:

  • Put 3 lbs of chicken breasts in a crock pot on low setting for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours; also add a two 8 oz packages of cream cheese and a packet of dry ranch seasoning.
  • After the elapsed time or when the chicken breasts shred pretty easily stir the contents of the crock pot so all of the ingredients are mixed well.
  • Add 1 package of cooked crumbled bacon to the pot and then stir.  Serve warm on a bun or it may even be used as a dip with vegetables or chips.

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Ingredients needed:

  • 3 lbs chicken breasts
  • 2- 8 oz packages of cream cheese
  • 1 package of bacon
  • 1 package of dry ranch seasoning

I would definitely make this again, but would make sure I have lots of friends or family to eat it with, 3 lbs of chicken goes a long ways!

Here is a link to where I found the recipe: click here 

Enjoy the beautiful and sometimes rainy weather we’ve been having lately.

Brian

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Miss America

Today was just another Monday; moved the sheep to pasture, Karla caught a missing laying hen in the shed, and then  I got to meet Miss America.  Wait…what did he just write?  Miss America?!  Yes it’s true, Miss America came to the neighboring towns of Hampton, Northfield, and Dundas to tour the local establishments, farms, and schools.  She started off her day at Little Oscar’s in Hampton for breakfast, then made her way to Northfield to see Far-Gaze Farms and one of their pea fields, from there it was off to Wolf Creek Dairy in Dundas for lunch with many MN Farm Bureau members, 4-H’ers and other leaders in the ag industry, and lastly she was going to Northfield’s Sibley School to talk with the students about food.

meetbetty

 

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Betty Cantrell, Miss America 2016

I got to hear her speak at the dairy farm where she told us more about her farming background, how she got started with Miss America, and even got to hear her sing!  She is from the state of Georgia and was raised on a farm where they grew peaches, pecans, and other crops.  Betty isn’t your average girl, she grew up as a bit of a “tom girl”, shooting guns and hunting with her dad.

This young lady is a great asset to us in the agricultural and food industry, she’s out there teaching kids about food and farming.  What a powerful influence to have, Miss America, challenging youth and adults to engage in agriculture.  We are not only lucky to have her on our side, but that she is able to be knowledgeable on many different topics and has some good people in the American Farm Bureau helping her a long the way.  Her platform as Miss America is to have “Healthy Children, Strong America”  What’s a better way to build a strong America through good quality foods raised by American farmers?

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Dakota County Farm Bureau members with Miss America

You could see by the fifty or so people in the Liebenstein’s shop at Wolf Creek Dairy that everyone was engaged in her message and enjoyed hearing her message to the crowd.  Thank you Betty for coming to our little towns in Minnesota and helping us strive to better feed America.  If you get a chance google her and watch some of her videos.

Video of Betty singing

 

Beer Can Chicken

It’s almost the day of the big game, you know the game where you’d rather see the commercials than the actual  football being played?  Yep it’s almost Super Bowl Sunday and why not take a break from the normal chicken wings, cock tail wieners, or chips with dip and make something that will taste great and is a great source of protein.  Today I’m sharing a recipe that many of our customers use to cook our broiler chickens, the Beer Can Chicken!  Wait, you’ve never heard of beer can chicken?  Well let me tell you what, it’s some good eating, great flavor, and you get to do something fun during the cooking, drink beer.

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There are many different variations of this recipe on the internet, so you can either use this one, try a different search for a recipe, or even use a different cooking method like a grill, smoker, or whatever suites your fancy.  Today I’m sharing a recipe that is for a baked chicken.

Here is what’s needed:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Mix the garlic powder, seasoned salt, onion powder, dried oregano, salt, and ground black pepper in a small bowl; set aside. Pour 1/3 of one can of beer into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Place the open beer can in the center of the baking dish.
  3. Rinse chicken under cold running water. Discard giblets and neck from chicken; drain and pat dry. Fit whole chicken over the open beer can with the legs on the bottom. With the breast of the chicken facing you, use a paring knife to cut a small slit on each side and press the tip of each wing into the slit to encourage even cooking.
  4. Rub the prepared seasoning mixture to taste over the entire chicken. Pat the sliced green onions around the whole chicken evenly. Some will fall into the beer, that’s fine. Press the halved green onions into the top cavity of the chicken. Open the remaining beer and pour 1/2 of it into the pan under then chicken. Reserve the remaining beer.
  5. Bake the chicken in the preheated oven. After 45 minutes, pour remaining beer into the pan under the chicken. Continue baking until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 30 additional minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 180 degrees F (82 degrees C). Remove the chicken from the oven and discard the beer can. Cover the chicken with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes before slicing. 

Note: This recipe was a variation of one from stacycd on http://www.allrecipes.com

Please feel free to add or subtract any spices that you may or may not like, it’s totally up to your taste buds.
I hope that you’ll think of trying out this recipe either this weekend or maybe later this year when we have some chickens to sell to you.  I was at the elevator this afternoon and they were telling me to get ready to order my chicks starting in March, I love hearing those words as that means spring is on it’s way!

Buyer Beware!

 

How many of you gone in the grocery store lately and seen a label on a package of meat that says “Farm Raised”?  Did you think twice when you saw this label?  There are so many marketing ploys out there now with food labels and you really have to think twice on what you’re buying.

My favorite label is the one for free range chickens; did you know that for an animal to be considered free range it just has to have the availability to range?  You could also have a trough full of yummy corn in the barn that the livestock really enjoy!  Shocking right?  The consumer buying said animal may see the a difference in price at the cash register from $.25-.50 per pound.  That adds up fast if you’re feeding a family.

Other commonly used marketing slogans when trying to sell products in the meat case:

  • Natural – According to the USDA a product labeled “Natural” can have no artificial ingredients, coloring agents, not chemically processed, or minimally processed.  Many meats like chicken, turkey, beef, etc can be labeled with this
  • Grass Fed – unless Certified by the USDA, any animal fed grass could have the label Grass Fed on it if it was fed grass during it’s life cycle.
  • Farm Raised – All livestock sold in the grocery store are probably farm raised.  I mean seriously, how many pigs do you know raised in a town home?
  • No Hormones Added – If you didn’t know, all poultry and pork are raised with out any hormones so all poultry and pork could be labeled as “no hormones added”
  • Made in the USA – Just about all meat sold in the USA is in fact made in the USA

no antibiotics label

Farm raised label

If you are paying more at the meat counter for any of the above claims please beware that it’s probably not necessary.  The good and bad of having great marketing campaigns out there is that we can sometime be mislead by the slogan or phrases that they give us.  If you’re ever in doubt head on over to the USDA Meat and Poultry Labeling Glossary  This will give you a good idea of what you’re seeing on your label and if it’s what you’re wanting to buy.  Another good reference is the USDA Food Labeling Fact Sheets website, it gives great insight into all things to do with food labels from allergies to safety.

The moral of my story today, beware of what you buy, but when it comes down to it, eat meat, it does the body good!

Straw Bale Gardening

This summer I decided to try out a new option for growing vegetables, it’s called straw bale gardening.  I heard about this from my mother-in-law who told me that I should try this out.  I did some reading up on it online and found that it’s a new and easy way to plant your garden.  In past years I have used my raised bed garden which is 4 feet tall by 6 feet long and it works great for me to be able to pull right up beside it in my wheel chair and either work from my chair or stand up and use the garden to hold onto while I stand, another way to do some physical therapy.

Raised garden from 2014

Pictured above is a photo of what my raised garden bed looked like last year.  The only big problem I have with this garden is that when I plant tomatoes, zucchini, or anything else with a long vine it tends to take over the garden.  That is why this year I bought six “Better Boy” tomato plants and planted them into two straw bales.

The best place I found on the internet to read about straw bale gardening was at www.strawbalegardens.com  On this site they give some links to articles about the gardens and also will give you an option to buy a book on this concept.  I didn’t buy the book, but it does look interesting.  Another good place to see pictures and hear from others who are planting these gardens is going to Facebook and “liking” the Learn to Grow a Straw Bale Gardens page. https://www.facebook.com/learntogrowastrawbalegarden?fref=ts

Back to planting the tomato plants; what I did was found two straw bales and let them get “conditioned” outdoors for a month before I was ready for them to be planted.  Conditioning means that you are letting the rain break down the bales and making the straw easier to contend with.  They also say that you should put some Miracle Grow or other type of plant food onto the bale for a while and let the rain wash the food into the bale.  Now if you’re not getting rain you’ll have to water the bales yourself, but this year that has not been a problem as of yet.  A week ago I bought my tomatoes and took a small garden spade and dug a 3 slits into each bale and put the one plant into each hole.

One of my straw bales

Then I took some potting soil and helped fill in the hole where there was still space.  As of yesterday the plants were still looking a bit rough, but I used the Facebook page to ask a few questions and they told me to add some more plant food to the plants so hopefully this will work.

Large straw bale Garden

Pictured above is a superb looking straw bale garden that a farmer posted to the Facebook page, so obviously it does work well.

I’m in no way a veteran at doing this and if you want to do a straw bale garden for yourself I suggest that you read up on it more before planting anything.  I hope that it works out well for me and I’m able to produce lots of tomatoes for my homemade salsa and maybe my mother-in-law Rozetta will make some more of her awesome spaghetti sauce!  I will update you as the growing season goes on and if you try this out please let me know how it goes.

Where’s the beef?!

May is beef month in many states of the U.S. including Minnesota. Beef month doesn’t meet hug your nearest cow, although if you do, proceed with caution.  No actually it’s a month where farmers, ranchers, consumers, and everyone who likes beef or it’s many bi-products should celebrate the commodity.

steak

As I sat contemplating what to write about beef and the wonderful qualities that it offers, I thought, what’s there not to like about beef?  Not only if cooked properly does it taste great, it is healthy too, providing 25 grams of protein in a 3 oz serving (about the size of a deck of cards or a hockey puck)   Beef’s internal temperature to eat must be at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here is a great image from http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/beefsbig10.aspx showing the benefits of eating this meat:

10 reasons why beef is so healthy
10 reasons why beef is so healthy

Whether you enjoy a steak, hamburger, roast, or another beef product you’ll get a great value for your serving and it will taste great.  Now I know many of you are thinking that it’s been so expensive to buy lately.  Have you considered filling up your freezer by buying a quarter of an animal from a farmer?  Some markets will even sell bundles or “baskets” of products that aren’t as big as a quarter of beef.  This can be a better value and won’t take up as much room in your freezer.  This option does cost more money up front, but will save you some cash in the end.

In order to get your meat on the table there are many people to thank along the way.  The farmers and ranchers who raise the cattle work hard 365 days a year to put that food on your table.  There are many different types of cattle operations out there including; cow-calf, seedstock (purebred or registered cow-calf herds), stockers, and feedlots.  Each of these operations work in different ways, but all strive for one goal, to provide safe and great tasting food for your table.  After the farm operations cattle go to be harvested and processed.  In these facilities there are many different jobs and tasks that are completed.  Did you know that 98% of the beef animal is used when it is processed?  That’s a pretty high percentage that is use able and able to be sold.  Make sure to thank your local beef herds-person for working so hard to provide you with a safe product.

Beef at water tank

There are also many great fun facts about beef including:

  • Cattle produce about 25 billion pounds of meat each year
  • The combined value of the cattle and beef industry is around $200 billion
  • The hide from one cow can make 144 baseballs, 20 footballs or 12 basketballs.
  • On average calves are born weighing 70-80 lbs
  • Cows have four stomach compartments; rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum

Facts courtesy of http://beef2live.com/story-cattle-101-hist-breeds-fun-facts-terms-0-104671

Hopefully this post will give you some more reasons to eat beef and knowing more about the food that you’re feeding your family.  Until next time be safe, eat well, and thank a farmer for providing you with a full stomach!