A Squirrel Gathering Her Pumpkin

Of all the seasons, the only one I can say I’m not too fond of is winter.  I’m invigorated when spring arrives with pre-season baseball, energized when summer goes full swing and we can go see our beloved Cardinals play in St. Louie and I’m absolutely in love with fall – its colors, the cool breezes, the hay rack rides, The Pumpkin Festival, wiener roasts, hot cocoa at football games, Pumpkin Pie Blizzard’s, family at Thanksgiving but pumpkin pie tops the list.  I’ve tried on many accounts to cook and mush fresh pumpkin but it just isn’t the same as Libby’s canned pumpkin.

Around these parts we are known as the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.”  Pumpkin fields are as common as a corn or bean field.  The harvest operation is one of the most interesting.  You can sometimes hear them in the middle of the night…pumpkins thumping as they are scooped up to a conveyor belt into the wagon and then into the semi.  I’m sure that being so close to the plant provided us with an advantage over the rest of the country.  However, last year canned pumpkin was as scarce as Easter candy at Christmas.

It was an unusual year with it being so wet during the spring, most farmers didn’t finish planting until around June 1st vs. the general rule of thumb of April 15th.  That set everyone up for a late harvest.  Then the rain returned making the fields too muddy for the equipment. It was heart breaking to see all of the fields that had to be destroyed last year. There were pumpkin fields that went all the way through the winter.  And, even a cornfield here and there.  This one was just down the road from us.

This was one corn field which had to be left through the winter. The picture was taken on March 2nd. Note the snow in the background.

For many down south it isn’t odd to see an entire field standing through the winter.  Around here it’s one of those things you rarely see.  Unless it’s a farmer who’s left a small patch up for the deer.

This year, when I started to see the pumpkin in stores, I was like a squirrel gathering her nuts.  I have a nice little stockpile in the

All winter I wondered about the moisture count of this field. I never have heard.

storage room.  My hubby’s uncle, a retired math teacher, works at the Libby plant during harvest.  In the beginning, he was seeing low quality and smaller amounts of ‘meat’ per pumpkin.

Even though it was a slow start, the year turned out very well considering.   I’m so thankful that we’ve had a nice pumpkin harvest and there is no longer a shortage!!

Here is one of my favorite pumpkin desserts:

The Magic Farmhouse’s Cold Pumpkin Pie


  • 1 pkg. vanilla pudding
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin


  • 1/2 Graham crackers crushed
  • 1/2 Ritz crackers crushed
  • 1/4 c. butter

    Crush the graham crackers and Ritz crackers crumbs into the pie dish with the melted butter.


  • 1/2 container Cool Whip topping
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

To make pie crust, combine crumbs and melted butter; pat into a 9 in. pie plate.  Bake at 350 for 8-10 min. Let cool. For filling, combine milk & pudding mix in a mixing bowl; beat well.  Add pumpkin, cinnamon; mix well.  Pour into crust.  Chill for at least 2 hrs.  Combine topping ingredients & smooth over pie.  Sprinkle just a bit of cinnamon on topping for presentation.

I wish I could show you a picture of the final deal but someone dove into the pie before I had a chance to snap a shot.

What’s more, did you know pumpkin is one of the most nutritional vegetables around?

In one cup of cooked, boiled and drained, pumpkin your body consumes….

  • Calcium – 37 mg
  • Dietary Fiber – 3 gm
  • Folate – 21 mcg
  • Iron – 1.4 mg
  • Magnesium – 22 mg
  • Niacin – 1 mg
  • Potassium – 564 mg
  • Protein – 2 grams
  • Selenium – 0.50 mg
  • Vitamin A – 2650 IU
  • Vitamin C – 12 mg
  • Vitamin E – 3 mg
  • Zinc – 1 mg
  • And, ONLY 49 Calories!!

Tantilizing Venison Bacon Kaboblets

First, I apologize for the lap in posting.  Our internet data card had a little mishap, I just received the replacement – not related to last week’s storm damage.

If you read my post from last week called Got Meat?, you know that after 25 agonizing days, my hubby finally harvested his first deer of the season.  I was so relieved as we were running low on ground meat and a dry shoulder for him to cry on…LOL!  As a treat to our family (and now that I think about it, maybe an apology for being so grumpy over the course of those 25 long days) he made us a wonderful meal.

A couple of years ago, he began making these little wraps I call Kaboblets.  The first time he made the Kabolets for my mom’s birthday at which time he used duck.  He has since tried deer and beef.  I’m pretty partial to the deer but the duck was fantastic too!

This recipe is great because there really aren’t any rules or measurements…here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 Deer tenderloin (or your choice of meat – I’d like to try a goose breast next)
  • Box of toothpicks
  • Package of bacon, cut each strip into thirds.
  • Brown Sugar
  • A grill
  • Patience
  • An empty stomach…seriously, you won’t be able to stop eating these little treasures!
  • A grill heated to approximately 350 degrees.

Begin by cubing the tenderloin into your desired sizes.  Take each piece and smother in brown sugar.

Once they are wrapped, run to the grill!!

Smother the cubes into brown sugar, covering them generously!

Remember to slice your bacon in thirds, then wrap the cubes.

Then wrap each cube with a strip of bacon, secure with a toothpick.  Once you have finished wrapping and rolling all of your cubes head out to your grill.  If you do not have a grill a broiler works great in the oven.  Place the Kaboblets on the grill and close the top for 2-4 min.  Roll each Kaboblet 1/4 of the way.  Close grill for 2-4 min. and repeat until all sides have been evenly cooked and look similar to the photo below.

These babies are just about ready to come off the grill!!

In the meantime, my hubby started a side dish of potatoes and onions.  I’m not exactly for sure on the recipe but I couldn’t resist sharing this picture of him using his hunting headlight to check on the potatoes.  Silly rabbit!

Goofy boy!! That's why I love him so!

A lovely side dish of carmelized onions and potato slices...yummy!!

Enjoy these wonderful Venison Bacon Kaboblets!!

How does *The Pioneer Woman’s* Cinnamon Roll recipe rate?

I’ve been dying to try The Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls.  The dreams about her rolls got too intense that I had to do something about it.  I’ve been so short on time lately that even though I wanted to keep the recipe true to the core but needed a short cut.  I resorted to using the, gulp, bread machine.  I generally only use it making the dough and prefer to bake in the oven.   I couldn’t find a cinnamon roll settling so I settled for plain old dough…LOL!

This recipe is from Ree Drummond’s (aka The Pioneer Woman) cookbook, ‘The Pioneer Woman Cooks,’ which came out last fall.  If you do not have a copy I highly recommend getting your hot little hands on one.  I wanted it so badly, I received two copies  for Christmas.  They are available at Barnes & Noble and some selected Walmart stores.  I’m sure there are other locations too…just Google “The Pioneer Woman Cooks.”  I’ll warn you, butter is a main ingredients in many of the recipes but that’s what makes them so yummy!

The Pioneer Woman's Cookbook

Keep in mind that due to the size of my bread machine, I modified the recipe a bit cutting each ingredient in half.  I’m going to list the ingredients as used in this new bread machine version.


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups (approx.) flour **Without problem, I used an organic, unbleached flour which resembles white flour**
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 scant teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt


  • 1 cup melted butter, plus more as needed **see what I mean about the butter!  Yummy I tell you, YUMMY!!**
  • 1/8 cup ground cinnamon for sprinkling
  • 1 cup sugar, plus more as needed

What to do…

Begin by making sure the paddle is in the bottom of your bread machine pan. Sometime people, ok, I forget!  When using a bread machine you

Add dry ingredients after the wet ingredients.

begin by pouring the wet ingredients followed by the dry.  Pour in the milk and vegetable oil.  Then follow with the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt.  I used the teaspoon and gentle mixed the dry ingredients

Drill a hole with your pointer finger for the job for the kids!

together.  Next, drill a hole in the dry ingredients.  Pour the package of yeast into the hole.  Select dough on your bread machine and then start.  Presto, you are on your way to fresh cinnamon rolls.

I started my machine mid-afternoon, ran a couple of errands, made supper, put the boys in bed and then attended to the dough.  I normally wouldn’t let it rise that long but in this case it needed the extra time.

Next, you will need to flour a clean surface where you will empty the bread pan.  Begin kneading the dough until it’s smooth and elastic but try not to handle the dough too much.  In my experience with yeast breads, less is more.  Overly handled dough results in tough, heavy rolls or breads.

Then using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle shape.  To make the filling, melt 1/2 cup of the butter and spread evening over the dough.   Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon.  I can not emphasize this enough.  I thought it would be too much.  In retrospect, I didn’t have enough in my rolls.  Follow up with sprinkling on 1/2 cup of the sugar.  As Ree says, if you feel the need to add more butter and sugar, go for it!!

You then need to begin rolling the dough to form the log.  I roll my logs opposite of Ree and begin with the side closest to me whereas, she begins with the farthest side.  The implications of doing this differently?  I’m not sure.  The next time I make the rolls, I plan to roll the Ree way and investigate.  Either way you choose to roll your dough, you’ll need to pinch the seam together once you’ve reached the end.  Transfer the log over to a cutting board and using a sharp knife begin cutting 1 1/2-inch slices.  One log will produce 20-25 rolls.

Now pour a couple of tablespoons of the melted butter into your baking dish and coat evenly.  Place each of the slices into the pans, being careful not to overcrowd…Amen!  Repeat until all slices are in the pans.  Preheat your oven to 375 and cover the rolls with dish towels.  Leave on the counter for at least 20 min.  Mine could have stood to stay a bit longer but it was late.  Then remove the towels and bake the rolls for 13-17 min. until golden brown.

At this point she instructs us to make the maple icing while the rolls are baking.  As I said before it was late so I decided I’d do it in the morning.  I did sample these scrumptious little guys to make  sure they would be suitable for my boys.  Heavenly, I might even call them magical.  Morning came and before I knew it my hubby and boys had devoured over half the rolls!! Without the icing!!  Later Willis said he really like the rolls but he liked the store-bought ones better because they have icing on top.  I explained that had they waited a bit longer they would have had their icing too!  “Oh, well then, I like these more.”  Lesson learned…stay up until you have finished making and covering these little beauties with icing.

Check out Ree’s cookbook, where you will find the recipe for what I’m sure is a delightful maple icing which could be used on much more than the rolls.

So on a scale of 1 to 10, just how do they rate in The Magic Farmhouse?? An easy 11…without the icing!  DISCLOSURE:  I’m in no way a cooking or baking expert and  I did not use any magic LOL! However, I am the connoisseur of all things sweet and wow-wee these babies are to die for!

Happy cookin’!

Going Dutch!

Last week I reviewed the Cub Scout Camp out we hosted at The Magic Farmhouse.  I’m going to continue with that topic today focusing on our morning activities.

Once they were awake the boys immediately, with a capital ‘E’, ran back to the maze.  I didn’t know it could be such a hit.  While the kids went crazy the parents were preparing to prepare the meal.  Once we had all of our ingredients outside and on our prep table we called the boys over.  In groups, according to den, the boys helped make US breakfast!!

In preparation for our camp out I completed the Boy Scouts of America’s Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation (BALOO).  One of the activities was preparing food at the camp fire.  We were each in charge of our own meal and then as a group we make a wonderful peach dessert using a dutch oven.  For years I’ve listed to my hubby talk about the ovens however, I couldn’t place a face to the name.  I really did know what all the buzz was about.  Now I do – and I knew what it was all the time, just didn’t know it had a name.  The best portion of the orientation was by far the cooking.  It reminded me of ‘true’ camping.  Since we purchased our camper in 2003, we’ve seldom gone tent camping.  Prior to having children we would often boat and then tent camp along a nearby river.  Needless to say I came home from BALOO boasting of our experiences talking quite a bit about the dutch oven and tent camping.

It just so happens that my birthday fell the week after BALOO training.  Guess what my hubby and boys got me!  Guess?  You’ll never guess.  A Dutch Oven!!  I was so super excited!  And that brings us back to today’s story…

Now that a dutch oven was available we merged a breakfast recipe from the cookbook which accompanied the oven and a recipe provided to me by another den leader (I will post the cookbook recipe at the very bottom of this post).  Due to the size of our oven and the hungry kiddos who I knew would be getting restless we went with something like this…

The Magic Farmhouse Dutch Oven Breakfast Casserole

  • 2 lbs. sausage (we used pre-cooked sausage patties which were broken up into little pieces)
  • 2 doz. eggs (we pre-scrambled ours)
  • 2 cups (approx.) Bisquick mix
  • Milk – enough to get the mixture a fluffy consistency
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese – 2 cups or more depending on your taste buds

Rub a bar of soap around the bottom of the oven.  According to my instructors, this will help with clean up time and preserves your oven.  Pre-season the dutch oven using butter or cooking spray.  Add eggs and Bisquick.  Stir gently until it’s somewhat mixed.  Then slowly add milk and stir.  Continue until the consistency is just shy of being able to pour.  Cover with cheese.  Each den was responsible for adding the ingredients or stirring.  It was a great way to incorporate some teamwork instruction.  Now comes the tricky part…

Place the top on the oven and cook with 8 coals underneath the oven and 16 on top for 20 to 25 min.  DISCLOSURE:  We have found that these instructions will sometimes work but you will probably need to adjust things depending on how hot your coals are and what type of coals you are using.  To keep things real we used hot coals left over from the fire pit.  In the cookbook, they are talking about grilling charcoals.

Ours cooked in about 15 min.  Just in time because the kids were turning into animals.  Aside from needing salt it turn out very well….nice and yummy!  The boys were pretty proud of themselves which was the cherry that topped the cake!

We've been using my hubby's, Grandparents' old stove with the dutch oven on top. Pretty cool! Or, hot!

Since the camp out we’ve been trying different recipes, dutch style.  We recently made an outstanding pot of Chili.  Instead of cooking on coals, my hubby decided to try it out on his grandparents’ old wood burning stove.  This made for easy cleanup and a nice history lesson for the boys.

I challenge you to start going dutch with your cooking!  I’ve heard it provides additional iron to your food.  I can’t verify that as true however, when your anemic like me you are willing to try anything.  (Yes, my hemoglobin has dropped again…another topic for another day.)

Happy cooking, dutch style!!

Mountainman Breakfast – taken from ‘Camp Dutch Oven Cooking 101: from Backyard to Backwoods’ published by Lodge 1896

  • 2 lbs. sausage
  • 2 lbs. frozen hash brown potatoes
  • 8 eggs, beaten with 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups cheese, grated

In a 12 inch Lodge Camp Dutch Oven oven full bed of hot coals, fry and crumble sausage.  Remove cooked sausage and drain on paper towels.  Using the sausage drippings in the pan, brown potatoes, and spread them evenly in bottom of camp oven.  Place cooked sausage over potatoes.  Pour eggs over sausage layer.  Sprinkle top with cheese.  Cook with 8 coals underneath and 16 on top for 20 to 25 min., until eggs are cooked.

Spooky Spider Cake…overcoming my fear of spiders?

All three of our boys have birthdays near one another.  This has it’s pros and cons.  Do you have two friend parties?  Two family parties?  Do you do it all together?  Separate?  Last year for Pickle & Willis’ we decided to have a joint family birthday party.  Willis had yet to establish a group of friends so that wasn’t an issue.  Pickle had a friend party and then shared a joint family party with Willis.  Since the birthdays are in the fall we decided to throw a Halloween themed party.

I love to pretend I can decorate cakes…I’m horrible.  My hubby has done an amazing Dinosaur cake and an outstanding John Deere tractor.  This time I wanted to give it another try.  One of the magazines I subscribe to is Disney’s Family Fun magazine.  They have great ideas!  When I received the Oct. issue I was immediately drawn to a white frosting cake with a black spider.

Ok, so spiders are one of those fears I’m attempting to conquer but the cake looked really cool.  The coolest part was the shiny sprinkles which are used to ‘draw’ the spider.  After our shopping trip to find these special sprinkles, we referred to the magazine which sent us to Family Fun’s website for a downloaded template of the spider.  Willis & I began by using a box cake mix to create the cake & allowed it to cool overnight.  Then frosted with white frosting, placed the template we printed from Family Fun and went to work as fast as possible before the frosting set up.

Willis helping make the Spooky Spider Cake

Although it was challenging to keep the sprinkles within the template Pickle & I had a great time decorating.  For a final touch we mixed Wilton’s black paste with some leftover frosting & lined the top and bottom edges with a Pampered Chef star applicator.

I’m still no where near the gourmet cake decorator I wish I could be but the final product wasn’t too shabby.  Don’t tell, but from time to time I sneak in a pat on the back to keep my confidence up.  And, who can deny the big step I took in decorating a cake with a SPIDER!?!  Which by the way are everywhere I turn.  Probably my least favorite part of fall.

If you get a chance, take a look at Family Fun’s website.  They offer so much!

Wow! Stop the lawn mower! REALLY!

Who knew we were all sitting on herbal goldmines!?!  I sat down to read my newest copy of ‘Turkey Country’ the NWTF’s (National Wild Turkey Federation) member magazine and came across an article that blew my socks off.  It talked about a plant that many pay big dollars to eradicate from their lawns.  Being frugal and cheap we at The MagicFarmHouse just mow them over and pray they never return.  Until now.

I gasped as I read all of the common ailments it may cure or relieve…

  • Reduces hypertension
  • Cures anemia (I’m chronically anemic)
  • Improves night vision
  • Acts as a mild diuretic
  • Improves liver and gallbladder function
  • Detoxifies the body
  • Mitigate mild constipation and other digestive issues (as a Crohn’s/Ulcerative colitis and IBS sufferer my colon was kicking me in the butt)
  • Clears skin problems including acne, eczema, warts, fungal infections and psoriasis
  • Eases arthritis
  • Stabilizes mood (I could use that all the time!)

What is this plant?  DANDELIONS! I know I still can’t believe it.  The author Lisa Densmore explains in the article that “It turns out the weed I tried in vain to eradicate is a nutritious herb, valued in Europe and the sub-Indian continent for myriad medicinal uses.”  Who knew?  Here’s one of the recipes they included with the article.  Unfortunately, since all of our dandelions are gone now (they usually dominate during the early spring), I haven’t had an opportunity to make any of their recipes.  I can’t wait to try them though!

Dandelion Blossom Cake


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup dandelion petals
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (we will exclude this since we have a son with nut allergies)
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened coconut (same as with the pecans)

Happy dandelion hunting!

A Magical Breakfast Dish

This is a recipe I tried from The Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen site.  It’s called Baked French Toast and is listed under the Breakfast section.   Between you and me, it’s really a dessert posing as breakfast… so heavenly and magically, I’m almost certain it’s a sin to eat this for breakfast.

I’ve made this dish two times; each a bit differently.  The first time I made ‘sides’ – an apple side, a blueberry side and a plain side and used a loaf of french bread as called for in the recipe.  The second time was yesterday morning and it was on a whim so I used hamburger buns rather than the french bread.  Since I was in a hurry I skipped on the fruit.  Although it was still delectable I missed the fruit.  In both cases I altered the recipe to make it a bit more healthy (see below).  Even so, oh my gosh!  Yummy, yummy!

Baked French Toast


Part 1: The Meat of the Recipe

  • 1 Loaf Crusty Sourdough or French bread
  • 8 Whole Eggs
  • 2 cups Whole Milk (I used 2% to cut down on the calories)
  • 1/2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream (both times I skipped this entirely and added a bit more milk instead)
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Vanilla

Part 2: The Topping

  • 1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cups Firmly packed brown sugar (I didn’t pack my cup all the way full)
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) Cold butter, cut in pieces (I could not bring myself to use that much and only used 1/2 to 3/4 of a stick)

What to do…

Grease 9X13 inch baking pan with butter.  Tear bread into chunks (or cut into cubes) and evenly distribute in the pan.  Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar and vanilla.  Pour evenly over bread.  Cover tightly and store in the fridge several hours or overnight.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Add nutmeg if desired. **  Add butter pieces and but into the dry mixture until mixture resembles fine pebbles.  Store in a Ziploc in the fridge – I saved a bag and used a covered bowl.

When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat over to 350 degrees.  Remove casserole from refrigerator and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top.  (If you’re using fruit, sprinkle on before the crumb mixture.) Bake 45 min. for a softer, more bread pudding texture.  Bake 1 hour or more for a firmer, crunchier texture.

Scoop out individual portions. Top with butter and drizzle with maple syrup.  (I didn’t bring out the butter and syrup…just to save on calories)

Enjoy with a nice cup of coffee on your front porch on a Sunday morning!