From Foal Watch to Freezer Bag Cookin’

I have to say – what a wonderful winter it has been so far!! It’s been so lovely here at Twin Corazones Ranch this last little while that even despite the mud the pasture horses are finding, these temperatures couldn’t be nicer for March in Canada.

We’ve been keeping busy and hubby is gearing up for a busy show season, which will be on us in no time – I’m sure. The yearlings have all been started, the spring vaccinations will be done soon and we have already started baby watch for our first foal of the season! My matriarch mare “Chicolet” has started waxing and therefore, we’ve got her in the barn by our house, in a stall on a bed of straw. Clay and I have been taking turns through the nights – alternating checks on baby twins and, broodmares :) I’ll keep you posted!

Here Clay is with the 3-year-old filly “Serena,” he is preparing for the Oklahoma Futurity later this year in November. We are super excited for this 2012 show goal and love watching the progression of Serena as the weeks go on. That’s something I’ll keep you posted on as well.

These days, I’ve been keeping busy preparing our books for tax season and prepping meals for the days when time is limited. One of my new favorite pastimes is “Freezer Bag Cookin'” because with two babies (about to become yearlings, I might add!) – my time is always limited. Therefore, if the recipe says “crock pot” I’m all in!!

Here’s a quick little recipe I picked up from “Pinterest” (more on that later too…), I thought I’d share with y’all:

Honey Garlic or Teriyaki Chicken

Ingredients: (Makes 2 Large Bags)

Onion – cut into Large Chunks

2 large cans pineapple (undrained)

1/2 bag of peeled baby carrots

4 Garlic Cloves

4 Chicken Breasts

2 Bell Peppers

2 cups Honey Garlic or Teriyaki sauce

Chop up your peppers and onions into large chunks. Mince the garlic. Split everything equally into two gallon freezer bags. Shake it up, seal, label and put in the freezer. Instructions for Bag: Put in crock pot and serve over hot rice. (Of course this also implies: Cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours.)

Freezer bag cooking is absolutely brilliant and allows me to get a lot done in short nap spurts. Or often in my case, one of the babes wakes up and I have a little helper:

Happy Monday everybody!

– JW

Likes of the Week

While we’re in the midst of final preparations on our new WordPress theme, as well as production of Nov/Dec issue of the magazine, I haven’t had a lot of time to spend on anything else. I’ll be back later in the week with my Christmas countdown, but in the meantime, here’s some things and links I’ve been enjoying and thought you might as well.

Up close and personal on a racehorse is possible and thrilling with EquiSight.

I enjoyed blogger Heather Anne, from Sealey Lake, Montana’s poignant musings about her grandfather. “He was a hard man, but romantic and nostalgic. He didn’t often come into your world, but if you made the effort to know him on his ground, he openly shared his wealth of knowledge on many topics.” Beautifully done, young gal, keep writing. Read it all here.

My continuing love affair with the Hipstamatic camera app on my iphone. Oh, the shots I’ve been able to capture, including my latest favorite, the vintage-like, textural feel of this shot of Wee.

Loving the definition of the new Cinemagraph technique – “an image that contains within itself a living moment that allows a glimpse of time to be experienced and preserved endlessly,” and intrigued with how this technique might be applied to equine photographs.

Finally, if you’re searching for a fall theme baking recipe, we whipped up these pumpkin spice muffins (with cream cheese frosting and decorated with a gooseberry) for an editorial meeting. Delicious.

Back to work!

A Homemade Present

I figure this one should be entitled "We 3 Queens.."

Happy Monday everybody! If you’re in the mood to stay indoors and create some homemade Christmas presents this year, I have a sweet idea for you. It’s a gift straight from the heart of the kitchen and it’s so easy to do – even I managed okay!

Before we get into the wholesome goodness though, please remember that My Stable Life has a wonderful Christmas contest going on right now. Since I love our readers so much, I have an awesome gift basket for anyone who’d like to share their favorite Christmas memories with me, or the reason why this upcoming Christmas will be special for you or someone else! Check out My Stable Life Christmas Contest for more details.

Alright back to the warmth of my oven… literally, do you know how cold it’s been in Regina, SK, for the last couple of days??

BANANA BREAD

____________________________________


Butter or Margarine                    1/2 cup

Granulated Sugar                       1 cup

Eggs                                             2

Very ripe, mashed bananas      3

All purpose flour                        1 3/4 cups

Baking soda                                 1 teaspoon

Baking powder                            1/2 teaspoon

Salt                                                a pinch

Chocolate chips                          3/4 cup

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Cream 1/2 cup margarine (I use Becel) and 1 cup sugar together.

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and then add to your sugar mixture together, beat and mix together until smooth.

Peel and mash bananas with a fork in a small bowl.

Add mashed bananas to sugar / margarine / egg concoction.

In another bowl, mix your remaining dry ingredients together: 1 3/4 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, salt and chocolate chips.

Stir dry ingredients up.

Add banana / sugar / margarine mixture to dry ingredients.

Stir altogether to moisten.

Then using two 14 cm x 23 cm glass pans that are greased, divide the batter evenly among them.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes and ensure the outside has browned. Place a toothpick in the center of each loaf to make certain it comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes.

Once the loaves are cool, wrap them with plastic wrap and a nice Christmas bow and your gift is ready to give. (The glass pan is part of your gift.)

9 Weeks ’til Christmas: Great Gift Ideas

So I’ve been counting down to Christmas and sharing some of my best gift ideas with you over the past few weeks. Catch up at the beginning with 12 Weeks to Christmas.

This is one of the simplest gifts you can give your family. And, it doesn’t have to “cost” you anymore than time spent with them and a bit of grocery money.

This book is not just a cookbook, it’s a journey into learning to provide a cleaner diet for your family.

I love Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution right from the opening statement on his website. . .

“This food revolution is about saving America’s health by changing the way you eat. . . it’s a movement for you, your family and your community. If you care about your kids and their future take this revolution and make it your own. Educate yourself about food and cooking. Find out what your child is eating at school. Make only a few small changes and magical things will happen. Switching from processed to fresh food will not only make you feel better but it will add years to your life. You can…”

It’s about throwing away the packets, bottles and stuff sitting in your freezer in boxes pretending to be food. It’s a simple enough concept. Our mothers and grandmothers knew it like the backs of their hands.

You begin with a few essential tools.

And a well-stocked pantry. All the more essential when you live in the boondocks, like I do.

Jamie Oliver’s food revolution, and his cookbook, based on the movement, is about learning how to cook with real ingredients – simple ingredients.

Rediscover the cucumber salad – with four delicious variations.

Or try it out with tomatoes.

Salad dressings are really incredibly simple to make, but we’ve all become so accustomed to the colorful commercial varieties, it feels like a gourmet venture to whip up our own. How crazy is that?

In this household, we’ve made a concerted effort to rid our diets of packaged and processed food over the past few years. And, I’ve taken the time to teach some basic techniques to my kids. Teenager makes a killer chicken noodle soup from scratch, and in a pinch, Wee can whip up scrambled eggs and bacon.

My mom cooked everything from scratch. I swear the only items she purchased at the grocery store were flour and sugar.

Oh, and ketchup. But, she even made that herself for a few years.

I wish she had taught me to cook back when I was a kid, but then I probably wasn’t very receptive to it. I likely would have choosen the barn over the kitchen any day of the week.

But, nowadays, I like to cook. In another life, I lived in the city with a girl who was French Canadian and taught me how to make things like caesar salad dressing and spaghetti sauce from scratch.

The connection between the heritage and recipes beats me too. But, her love of cooking from scratch and entertaining awakened the same qualities in me.

She’s become my lifelong friend, and we still exchange recipes. Cooking together is something we both look forward to when we meet up.

Nowadays I can make a beautiful and healthy lasagne from scratch. But, someday soon, I’m going to try Jamie’s.

I’ve always loved the “it takes a village” concept and Jamie’s philosophy embraces it. He’s spent a lot of time teaching ordinary people in his neighbourhood how to cook and dispersed throughout this cookbook are their stories. It’s one of my favorite aspects of the book.

Meet Tracey & Andy. They now own Sunday dinner roast.

Geoff, who has the most amazing set of coffee mugs above his windows!

and Julie, who learned how to cook out of her traditional box.

Last night I made this. Yum.

So, if you’re still haunting the aisles of your local Costco freezer section, go out and buy this cookbook, I dare you to.

It’s loaded with photos and step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow. Perfect for the beginner cook, for lazy cooks, for busy horsepeople, like me, like you, who don’t have time to spend all afternoon in the kitchen, and for anyone who just needs a little bit of inspiration in the kitchen.

If you already practice clean diet, aka, cooking from scratch practices, pass it on! To your kids, your spouses, your friends, and neighbors. I promise it will be one of the best gifts you can give – at any time of year.

Besides, how hard is this guy to look at. . .

Ahhhheeem, where were we on that recipe?

Bowl Art

If the walls of your home are as overflowing with artwork as mine, artist Shannon Lawlor has devised the perfect solution for you and I. Shelf art. Or, desk art. Or, table art. Dinner art. Living quarters art. In fact, any horizontal flat surface art.

Yeah, that’s it.

Beautiful bowls. Gorgeous bowls.

Bowls which are not only knockout works of art themselves, but also usable and enjoyable as serving dishes.

I love this turquoise hue with its exquisite fence-sitter characters.

The ultra-Texas longhorn – this one blows the doors off any mass-produced version, don’t you think?

This brilliant bright orange is one of my favorites.

A whimsical piece, elegant and subtle.

Flamboyantly wild west, this would fit many a western-styled dinner party.

A similar themed piece, with vintage appeal.

Bowls are $125.00 each. Display easel can also be purchased for $40.00. Visit Shannon Lawlor Fine Art for more information.

Better yet, head down and visit Shannon personally at this coming weekend’s Canadian Supreme Western Lifestyle Show.

Of course, we’ll be there as well at the Western Horse Review booth so be sure to come by, pick up the latest copy, and visit for a bit.

Chili Anyone…

A bowl of chili tastes good just about anytime… and if you get the meat cooked early in the day and throw everything in the crock pot, your house will stay cool and still allow you to serve up a hearty supper.

This recipe is a simple one that easily allows the cook to alter ingredients, replace the meat for more beans, use whatever type of beans you most enjoy or add other vegetables to the mix (chopped carrots and celery are options)

Mexican Black Bean Chile

1 lb hamburger

1 onion chopped

2 or 3 cloves garlic chopped

1 large can black beans, drained

1 large can pork n beans

1 pkg low sodium taco seasoning

1 14 oz can stewed tomatoes

2 cups fresh mushrooms chopped

Note: You can replace the pkg of taco seasoning with the following if that is your preference:

1 tsp cumin
2 tsps chile powder or to taste
1/2 tsp oregano

Brown hamburger with chopped onion & garlic. Drain well.

Put hamburger in crock pot, large heavy bottomed steel pot or large casserole dish.

Add beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and seasoning

Cook on low for 4-6 hours if using crockpot.

(If using steel pot on stove element, cook on low for 2 hours)

(If using casserole, cook at 350 in oven for 2 hours)

Garnish with grated cheddar or jack cheese and sour cream if desired.

Serve with buns, cornbread or biscuits (and a green salad). I serve almost everything with a green salad!!

Note: Tastes even better the next day. And, leftovers freeze well. (I often double this – or add more beans – if feeding a larger crowd or if I want to freeze half the batch.)

Lisa’s Butter Tart Squares

Lisa's Butter Tart Squares

Okay… I have to admit, these squares are not the low-cal variety, but they’re soooo good!!

Whether you have a family reunion, a community picnic or a branding, these decadent butter tart squares won’t last long. Even folks who don’t love raisins seem to like these squares. With a shortbread base and a creamy caramel filling, they’re a hit every time!

I’ve doubled the recipe here as I often freeze a container – they taste pretty good frozen too!!    :)

This recipe comes from a special lady (my late neighbor, Lisa Baptie), who brought these to many community gatherings.

Lisa’s Butter Tart Squares

BASE

2  1/2 cups flour

1 cup soft butter

½ cup brown sugar

Mix above ingredients and press into a 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 mins

FILLING

2/3 cups butter

4 tbsps whipping cream

2 tsps vanilla

2 cups raisins

2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tbsps flour

Cream butter, eggs, sugar, cream and vanilla until nicely blended. Mix flour in well. Add raisins and stir.

Pour mixture over partially baked base. Bake 20-30 mins or until brown and center looks done.

Enjoy!

Rich, gooey Butter Tart Squares

Flautas

I’m sure I’ve told you before – I can’t cook. But my friend, Perla certainly can…!

Perla shows off a plate of culinary perfection!

Today I thought I would share one of Perla’s famous dishes with you – Flautas. Around here, people coming running when Perla sets these babies out at the JDF Saloon.

Here’s the recipe:

Just kidding.

In English the ingredients are:

• 18 Tortillas, long and thin

• 1 Chicken breast

• 1/2 Cup of milk

• 1/2 Cup of cream

• 1 Cup of a Ricotta-type cheese

• Oil for frying

DIRECTIONS:

You can use either corn or flour tortillas.

1. Cook the chicken breast in boiling water with a small amount of salt in it. Once the chicken is cooked, shred it.

2. Put the shredded chicken in a line down each one of your tortillas and shape/roll them into flautas – also known as “flutes”.

3. Fry the rolled flautas in oil until they brown.

4. Whisk the cream with the milk and bathe the browned flautas with the resulting sauce, then sprinkle with cheese. Or for a lesser calorie version – skip the cream sauce and cheese altogether.

5. Add shredded lettuce, onions and tomatoes on top of flautas, or salsa.

6. We like guacamole with ours – which probably adds all those calories back on!

And enjoy! (We also like ours with Coronas and lime…)

Banana & Chocolate Chip Muffins

I just baked these last weekend for teenager daughter’s volleyball tournament and because I actually prepared them the night before as opposed to my usual 4:00 a.m. in the morning, I had time to photograph them, and savor the moment.

Whether it’s horse show weekend, or 4H weekend, or another event where kids are gathered, and you are required to bring sustainability in the form of food, these muffins fit the bill. So, in honor of the upcoming 4H on Parade this weekend at Calgary Stampede, and the early mornings it is sure to bring to parents and kids alike, I’m sharing it with you now.

What’s great about the list of ingredients is that you will probably have it all on hand, and the bonus is it takes about 15 minutes to throw it together.

You’ll need the following ingredients:

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1-1/2 cups of flour

2/3 cup of sugar

1-1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

splash of salt

1/4 cup of butter or margarine melted

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

3/4 to 1 cup of chocolate chips

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl mix together the melted butter, milk, beaten egg and mashed bananas. Then mix this in with the flour mixture and finally, fold in the chocolate chips. Mix, mix and mix, but try not to over-mix, as that would not be the proper approach with muffins.

Spoon the batter into 12 muffin tins and bake at 350° for 32 minutes. Let them cool, throw them into a Ziploc bag and away you go.

If you’re having these at home they go well with this:

Yum!

or this:

Sorry, just practicing my food photography. Evidently I’m going to need some instruction in this area. Just trust me on the muffin-fruit salad combo, it’s a winner.

And yes, that is a Bernie Brown cutting board. Every western kitchen should have one. Highly recommended for nostalgic value.

Bon appetite, friends!