Tag Archives: freezer cooking

February Thaw


My favorite spot: a bluff overlooking the Medicine Bow river and Elk Mountain in the distance.

This month we had our mid-winter thaw. The weather warmed to an incredible 35-40 degrees! Tons of snow melted, the run-off swelling the river and making a muddy mess around the house. The river had been nearly covered in snow and ice since December. Only a few small open spots. But the warm weather melted most of the ice and the water was rushing merrily along.

I went for a walk one warm day, and while walking along my favorite spot above the Medicine Bow river, I had a strong sensation of deja vu. medicine bow river

I realized it was because I have read and re-read books about the far north; White Fang, Tish, Mrs. Mike, and Silence of the North. In them, you read of a ‘warm spell’ when the hardy pioneers would go out and relish the warm weather, having picnics on the bare patches of ground where the snow had melted.

“Less than a week after that the weather broke. The sun came out warm and bright, the snow started to melt, and the lakes opened up along the shores…”  ~The Silence of the North

When I read those stories, I never understood how it could be ‘warm’ at 30 or 40 degrees?! I mean, c’mon! There was still ice on the river and snowdrifts in the shade, for crying out loud! (remember, I spent childhood winters in Florida!)

But now I know.

When you have been through several months straight where the temps never climb out of the teens, there is literally 4 ft drifts, and the snow falls fresh almost daily — well, you can see how melting snow and 40 degrees feels warm! :)

I did actually consider a picnic, but the wind was blowing pretty hard, so I decided against it. Instead, I went for a walk, first along the top of the bluff, then down the winding lane to the river bottom. The late afternoon sunshine was so lovely, falling warm and clear across the water. medicine bow river

medicine bow river

wyomingdeserted cabinold ranch barn

But, the February thaw ended, as all good things do, and we are back to full blown winter. :) It is good, because when you live on what the land produces, you need snow. You may not enjoy working in it, but it is good for the soil. The land. The cattle. The grass. The water supply for next summer. So I will take it with thankfulness, and hope I don’t have to drive on the snowy roads too much! 😉


snowy cows

Both of the snowy pics were taken from my kitchen windows. Those cows are on some kind of internal clock that is pretty precise. Every morning when I get up, they are lying on the hillside. But right at 6:45 to 7:00, they all get up and file to the water. It’s funny, kind of, how they are so reliable. You could set an alarm by ’em!

sourdough cinnamon rolls in cast iron pan

I received a new cookbook for Christmas; ‘A Taste of Cowboy’, by Kent Rollins. I have been experimenting with some of his sourdough recipes, and they are pretty tasty! I made these sourdough rolls one day, and they didn’t last long, I can tell you! It was the first time I baked them in a cast iron pan, and I decided I need to pul them out of the oven a couple minutes sooner, because that cast iron holds heat for a long time, so they continue baking after they are out of the oven.

What are ya’ll doing today, I wonder? Anyone else staying close to the fire? 😉


Gluten-Free Peanut Blossoms

Welcome to another guest contributor: Mrs. Kauffman. This is my sister, and she runs a gluten-free cooking blog. Her husband is sensitive to gluten, so she cooks gluten-free daily in her home. I am anxious to try this recipe, myself! You can find her blog with more delicious GF recipes right here: Gluten Free Cook Shack

This is possibly the easiest gluten free cookie recipe ever. It only takes four ordinary ingredients. And I’ve had people say they taste better than regular peanut butter cookies. But that is for you to decide and then let me know what you think. 😊

Gather the ingredients.

Gather the ingredients.

You will need:

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. baking soda

These amounts can easily be doubled for a bigger batch.

Mix the soda into the sugar a little. White or brown sugar will work.

Gluten-free Peanut blossoms.
Then dump all ingredients into a bowl and stir thoroughly.

Stir together.

Stir together.

Spoon on to a cookie sheet. Press with fork, if desired.

Gluten-free Peanut Blossoms.
Bake at 350* for approx. 10-12 minutes or until they look just barely done.

Gluten-free Peanut Blossoms

Now the most important part – leave them on the cookie sheet to cool at least 3-4 minutes before carefully removing to counter. You want them to be still warm. Too hot or too cold and they will crumble to pieces. And they need moved very carefully to counter to finish cooling. Once they are completely cool; then they will hold together well.

Enjoy fresh or frozen, dunked in milk or however you like to eat them!

Gluten-free Peanut Blossoms

Gluten-Free Peanut Blossoms
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 10
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  1. These amounts can easily be doubled for a bigger batch.
  2. Mix the soda into the sugar a little. White or brown sugar will work.
  3. Then dump all ingredients into a bowl and stir thoroughly.
  4. Spoon on to a cookie sheet. Press with fork, if desired.
  5. Bake at 350* for approx. 10-12 minutes or until they look just barely done.
  6. Now the most important part - leave them on the cookie sheet to cool at least 3-4 minutes before carefully removing to counter. You want them to be still warm. Too hot or too cold and they will crumble to pieces. And they need moved very carefully to counter to finish cooling. Once they are completely cool; then they will hold together well.


Balsamic Chicken Recipe

I don’t know about you, but chicken is one of my top comfort foods! Maybe because I ate a lot of it as a kid – and boy! was my mom ever a good cook! Growing up Amish will do that…

But this Balsamic Chicken Recipe is different than the chicken my mom made. This includes the rich flavors of balsamic vinegar and soy sauce to bring a tastiness to simple baked chicken legs.


Easy balsamic chicken recipeI bought a family-sized package of chicken drumsticks on sale, and wanted to make them tasty and yet easy. Right now, I am homeschooling three kids,I have a 3 year old, and an infant!  So,I don’t have much time to peruse cookbooks or experiment. I wanted a new fun flavor, though, so I came up with this simple marinade, and it was an instant hit!

Easy Balsamic Chicken recipeI didn’t take time to let it marinade – it was close to lunch, so I just popped it in the oven right way. But marinating it a few hours would only improve the flavor, I’m thinkin’.

I baked them for most of the time in a normal oven, but the last 30 min or so, I turned on the convection roast feature in my oven, to get the skin crispy and brown. If you don’t have that feature – just turn on broiler for a few minutes – watching closely so it doesn’t burn.

We loved this balsamic chicken recipe – so easy and yummy. Let me know if you liked it!

Balsamic Chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6-8 servings
  • One family pack of drumsticks. Or a full 9X13 pan of preferred chicken pieces.
  • 3 TBL soy sauce
  • 3 TBL Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch ground red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place chicken in a baking pan. I used a 9X13 cake pan. Chicken shrinks when baked, so squish it in there tight!
  3. Mix sauces and spices together and pour over chicken.
  4. Bake, covered, at 325 for 2 hours.
  5. Optional: broil the last 10 minutes to brown the skin.


Easy Breakfast Tarts

Easy Breakfast Tarts


Breakfast quickly falls into a rut, for me. Toast, eggs, sausage… pancakes… biscuits and gravy…
Great food, of course, but once in a while I like to switch it up. So this week, I tried my hand at inventing some tasty little breakfast tarts! Now, ‘tarts’ may be a bit misleading, since they don’t have a crumbly, homemade crust. But I hope you forgive me when you realize how simple and tasty these are. :)

Take a package of wonton wrappers, place one in each muffin cup. I gave my muffin tin a light spray of cooking spray – to keep the cheese from sticking, and give it a bit of that fried texture.

They will look like they aren’t big enough – not coming up the sides very far – but they will be fine, no worries!

Easy Breakfast Tarts

Then you add the eggs and sausage, topping with a small slice (or spoonful of shredded) cheddar cheese. I think swiss would be good, too! I used about a tablespoon each of eggs and sausage.Easy Breakfast Tarts


Slide it in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, depending how crispy you like your crusts. Serve with fruit or juice. Perfect for little hands to grab and eat on the way to school! (not messy at all)Easy Breakfast Tarts

What are you serving for breakfast, these days? I’m always open to new ideas! :)

Easy Breakfast Tarts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • ¼ lb sausage
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 TBLS milk
  • 2 oz cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 wonton wrappers
  • 1 TBLS butter or oil for frying
  1. Heat oven to 400*.
  2. Whisk eggs and milk together, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Fry eggs just till set.
  4. Fry sausage till no longer pink.
  5. Spray muffin tin lightly with cooking spray.
  6. Place wonton wrappers into each muffin cup.
  7. Fill wrappers with 1 tablespoon scrambled eggs, 1 tablespoon fried sausage, and 1 tablespoon (or small slice) cheddar cheese.
  8. Bake at 400* for 8-10 minutes.


Makin’ Apple Butter.

makin apple butterCrisp, bright mornings and warm afternoons – feathered with brightly colored leaves, this is Fall. As a kid, I liked Fall, mainly because that’s when the leaves were raked into giant piles; fluffy and ready for jumping into and rolling through. They were spread out and raked into leaf-paths, perfect for playing ‘Fox & Geese’, or outlining our ‘playhouses’. After we’d played in them for hours and hours, we’d toss the leaves into the wheelbarrow, and if you were small enough – you hitched a ride on top, all the way to the dump.

But the second favorite thing about Fall, was Apple Butter. If you’ve never eaten this deliciousness, I am sorry! Apple butter is nothing like actual butter – it is a fruit spread, made with apples, sugar, and spices, cooked for a long time over low heat, till soft and smooth. You eat it on bread. Fresh bread, if possible! :)

makin' apple butter

My parents had a thing for using a copper kettle, and making it outside over a wood fire. First, Mom and us kids would cut bushels of apples for applesauce. We would can many quarts of applesauce, but after Mom had all she wanted, we’d use the rest of the sauce for apple butter.

Dad would build a wood fire in the yard, and after it had burned down a bit, he’d fix up a stand to hang the huge copper kettle on. We didn’t have a apple-butter kettle, but we had friends and relatives with them, so we would borrow one for the day. When we’d return it, we’d always give a few jars of apple butter as payment. (I miss the old days where everyone was neighborly, and loaned without expecting payment. A simple trade of goods or labor was enough!)

Well, we’d pour that applesauce into the kettle, and start stirring. We had a special wooden paddle made just for apple butter. It was a long handle, with a paddle at the end to stir with, and the paddle end had several holes in it, to better stir the apple butter. We’d take turns stirring it. At first, us kids would stir a lot. Once it had cooked down and was getting thick and brown, Mom and Dad did the stirring, to make sure it was stirred properly, and not burned in spots. Dad would add wood as necessary, to keep the fire not too hot or too small, but just right.

We added sugar and cinnamon and kept stirring. It took hours and hours for it to get to the right degree of thick, brown deliciousness! In fact, it was an all afternoon affair. Sometimes more. Once it was done, we would ladle it into jars and seal them. We always kept a jar out for fresh eating, of course.

I don’t know why, but it seems that the best tasting apple butter is made in a copper kettle, over an open fire. Maybe spending hours in the cool Fall air, stirring that kettle, makes it taste better! Anyways, I loved that tradition. I hope someday I can find a huge copper kettle, so I can make apple butter the traditional way. Not much better eatin’, than thick, sweet apple butter, slathered on thick slices of fresh bread!

Did you ever have apple butter hot from an open kettle?makin' apple butter

Basic Meatballs

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Who says ground beef has to be boring? We love it around here! Meatballs are so versatile, you can make many different dishes with them. 

Spaghetti and meatballs,

Meatballs in cream sauce over pasta,

Meatball subs,

BBQ meatballs… 

But the best part is having them on hand for those busy nights when you just don’t have time to cook! My kids (and me!!) love those frozen, fully cooked meatballs. But I refuse to buy them when I have beef in my freezer. I mean, how silly would that be?

So I decided to make my own precooked, frozen meatballs. I mixed up a big batch of these and baked them for 15 minutes, then bagged them and stuck them in the freezer. Now I can pull them out at a moment’s notice and pop them in the oven to reheat or in a pan of sauce on the stove-top. How cool is that?! :) 

I like to freeze these meatballs raw, too. Both ways work fine! Obviously, you will need to bake longer if you are freezing them raw. :)

My preferred method is to scoop the meat with an ice cream scoop, and then gently finish smoothing the meatballs with my hands. This way, they are all uniform in size. You can find a scoop on Amazon. 

Sharing over at: http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2014/04/homestead-barn-hop-155.html

Basic Meatballs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs, ground fine
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Shape into balls.
  4. Place on an un-greased baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Cool and freeze.
  6. Can double or triple recipe easily.


Fabulous Fajitas ~ Venison Recipe

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I have eaten Venison since I can remember. I like it ok – but it’s not my favorite meat. Still, I have friends ask me from time to time if I have any great recipes for Venison, so I decided to start posting a few of my favorites. And this is the winner – hands down.
It is easy, tasty, and tender.
And you can dress it up or down as much as you please.
So here you go…
Fabulous fajitas, crockpot or freezer friendly recipe.
Cast of characters:
Pour the oil in a slow-cooker, add spices and mashed garlic.
If anyone knows of a garlic press that actually squeezes the garlic out through those little holes – would do me a huge favor and tell me where to buy it? I hate every garlic press I have ever used. They just press the garlic flat – practically nothing comes out the little holes.
Update! I found the perfect garlic press!! Go to Amazon if you want a garlic press that actually presses it through the holes. 😉 
I normally use venison for this recipe, but since we have a freezer full of beef right now, I used beef. So, you can use beef OR wild game and it will be great!
Slice the venison into thin strips. Thinner is better.
Then throw the strips in with the spices, and mix well with your hands.
When it is mixed well, it should look like this:
Put the lid on, and cook on low for 6-7 hours. It can go longer, depending on your slow cooker.
When it is done, it will have some savory juices with it. Mmmm!
(note: you won’t get as much juice with venison as there is in this photo, cause this is beef, which has a higher fat content.)
When the meat has one hour left to cook, slice a bell pepper and a onion and throw the slices on top of the meat. Normally I do this. I mean, it’s fajitas, people! But  for some unknown, strange reason, I didn’t. But you should. It’s much better that way!
I usually just use a slotted spoon to put some meat on a tortilla, and drop a spoonful of sour cream on top and call it good.
But it is also good with tomatoes, cheese, salsa, you name it.


Fabulous Fajitas ~ Venison Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4-6
  • 1½ lbs venison steak, sliced thinly
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1½ teaspoon. ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 large green pepper, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  1. Mix all seasonings together in the crockpot.
  2. Add meat and mix well.
  3. Cover and cook for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high.
  4. Add onion and pepper during the last one hour.
  5. Serve with sour cream and salsa if desired.