Tuesday, June 30, 2015

It's Taco Tuesday!

Do y'all have any routines when it comes to food?  Like Meatloaf Monday or Taco Tuesday?

We don't necessarily have a routine but on most Tuesdays we like to have tacos.  I don't know why or how it even got started but it's not a bad routine to have (wink).

Several months ago I came across a recipe on Pinterest for a Taco Bake.  I decided to give it a try to change things up a bit.  (CountryBoy would say I like to change things up all the time; I like to keep him on his toes, ha!).  I followed the recipe and it was yummy but could've been tweaked a bit to suit our tastebuds.

So I took what we like in our tacos and came up with my own version of the Taco Bake and man, was it oh so good!

Here's the cast of characters I used...

Brown some meat.  I used ground turkey.  You can use whatever you like, ground turkey, chicken, beef, bison, whatever suits your tastebuds.

I seasoned it as I usually do when browning meat with salt and pepper.  I added some chopped onions and let them cook.  Once the meat is browned and onions are translucent I sprinkled a tablespoon of homemade taco seasoning on the meat and added 1/2 cup of water and let it all simmer until the water was absorbed.

While the meat was browning I heated up the refried beans.  We like a little heat in our food but we don't want to sweat while eating it!  So, I got a can of refried beans with green chiles.  Use whatever kind of refried beans you like.  Or, if you don't like refried beans don't use them.  

Now that everything is ready, I misted the bottom and sides of the pie plate with olive oil and placed a burrito style tortilla in the bottom of the pie plate.

You don't need a whole lot of olive oil, just enough to keep the tortillas from sticking.

Once your tortilla is on the bottom it's time to start layering.

I spread about one third of the refried beans on the tortilla.

Then topped it with about a third of the ground turkey and black olives.

Next came some shredded cheddar and pepper jack cheese.  I would recommend shredding your own cheese.  It's cheaper than buying pre-shredded cheese, it's cheesier and it's tastier because it's just cheese with no other additives.

Also, use whatever cheese or cheeses you like.

I used a little over half a small block of cheese each.

Repeat this two more times starting with the tortilla and ending with the cheese.

Now it's ready for a preheated 350 degree oven.

It doesn't need to be in too long since every thing is already cooked.  Just long enough to melt the cheese and warm through.

While it's heating, chop some lettuce and tomatoes.

I was going to put it on top of the taco bake when it came out of the oven but I decided there wasn't enough room and probably wouldn't stay so I put them in bowls and added them to the slice of taco bake.

I also added a dollop of sour cream and poured some taco sauce on mine.

Oh.My.Goodness.  YUM!

Oh.My.Goodness.  GONE!

This was definitely a hit with CountryBoy!

I will share with you my recipe but I want to stress that you can totally customize the recipe to what you like in your tacos.  If you like a lot of heat add jalapenos.  Don't like any heat?  Use plain refried beans and just cheddar or maybe a mix of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese.  It's totally up to you.

Here's what we like:

Taco Bake
1 lb. ground turkey
1 can refried beans
1 small can sliced black olives
3 burrito style tortillas
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
1/2 - 3/4 lb. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 - 3/4 lb. shredded pepper jack cheese
lettuce, shredded or thinly sliced
1 tomato, diced
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown meat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add onions.  When onions are translucent, sprinkle taco seasoning on meat and add water.  Simmer until water is absorbed.

Heat refried beans.

Using a pie plate, mist bottom and sides with olive oil.

Layer:  tortilla, 1/3 of beans, meat, black olives and cheese.  Repeat layers two times.

Bake in preheated oven until cheese is melted and warmed through, about ten minutes.

Shred or thinly slice lettuce and dice a tomato.

Slice and serve with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and taco sauce.


And, in case you're wanting to make your own taco seasoning here's the recipe I use..

Taco Seasoning
¼ cup chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon black pepper

Put ingredients into a jar and shake.

Which reminds me, I need to make some more!

Again, there's a lot of room for creativity in this dish.  Use ingredients you like and it will be yummy!

I hope ya like it!



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wild Wednesday

I wasn't quite sure what to title this post because there's not a consistent theme in what's running through my head as I get ready to write.  So, wild Wednesday it will be since it's Wednesday and my thoughts are running wild. Ha!

For starters, we've gotten a nice bit of rain here the last several weeks causing the gardens to really flourish.  I posted a few photos on Facebook yesterday but for those of you who have managed to stay away from Facebook here's a brief update for ya...  

Gordon's garden from a different angle...

We have gotten more rain since this photo was taken a couple of days ago and everything is almost twice as high.  It's amazing what good 'ol rain water will do to a plant!

It probably won't be long until we will be picking okra, squash, green beans and cowpeas.  Yay!

Gertie's garden is also doing well.  Here's a different angle...

We've picked some green beans and rhubarb so far and it won't be long before we'll be picking tomatoes and harvesting onions.

The sweet potato vines and lima beans are spreading and vining and the younger tomato plants are starting to bloom.  Our first batch of potatoes we planted didn't fair so well. Potato bugs got the better of them even though we sprayed with an organic spray.  New leaves are appearing on the plants so we will leave them be and see what happens.
We have also been picking black raspberries every few days and have gotten a gallon freezer bag full.

The blackberries are just starting to ripen so we picked a few of them this morning along with some more black raspberries and a few dewberries.

This morning I went out and picked some wildflowers, mostly red clover, to make some wildflower jelly.  I threw a cup of fresh picked blackberries in the pot, too, so it will be blackberry wildflower jelly.

The flowers were washed then the combination was brought to a boil and will steep overnight.  Tomorrow I will strain the berries and flowers then we can make jelly with the infusion.

Several weeks ago we bought a bushhog for the tractor which was a must-have to keep the hillside and fields mowed and maintained.

CountryBoy practiced alongside Gordon's garden before heading up the hill. 

He tackled the hill like it was nothing but in actuality, it was pretty scary coming down and is much steeper than it looks.

This morning he is taking care of a tree that had been cut down some time ago before we moved here.

It was an eyesore from the road, a haven for snakes and a pain in the neck to mow around.

He will be cutting and splitting the salvageable wood for use this winter.  A win-win.  Eyesore gone-wood for fireplace, yay!

When we moved to the farm four months ago the place was overgrown with trees, shrubs and plants.  We decided not to trim any of it (even though the urge to get everything nice and tidy was strong) so that we could find out what plant was what.  We are glad we resisted the urge.  The briar patches throughout the property have yielded delicious fruit and we've had something in bloom every week since the snow melted.  Here's just a few of the flowers we've had around here...

Pretty, huh?!

We've also had lots of butterflies flitting around sampling the goods...

And this?  This makes me smile...

Oreo cat-napping in the grass by the laundry line.  My sweet little buddy!

And last, but not least, the kitchen is done, woohoo!  We may tweak a few things here and there but structurally speaking, it is done.  Here's a sneak peak I shared on Facebook...

My next blog post will, more than likely, be the kitchen reveal.  I've got lots of photos to take and edit and I have to find some 'before' photos in the archives so stay tuned. 


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Garden Update

What a difference a week makes.

Here is Gordon's garden (named after the scarecrow) a week ago...

and here it is today, one week later...

We had a nice rain early last week which resulted in quite a bit of growth.  The rows are much more distinguished now.

Four rows of potatoes, two rows of cowpeas, one row of okra, one row of green beans, three rows of corn, several mounds each of watermelon, cantaloupe and squash.

Gertie's garden (named after the scarecrow) is also doing well.  Here it is a week ago...

and here it is today...

There are flowers on the tomato plants shown as well as on the green bean plant.

The potatoes are growing tall and hopefully there are lots of potatoes in the ground.  The sweet potatoes have perked up after being transplanted but haven't started spreading yet.  The cucumbers are coming up and the transplanted tomatoes (on the left in the previous photo) are taking off and growing now.  The space to the right of transplanted tomatoes is for the sweet peppers when they are ready to be transplanted.

Overall, we are pleased with the gardens' progress.

We could use some more rain in the next day or two.  If not, we will use rain water collected in the rain barrels to water the gardens.

We also have flowers taking turns blooming throughout the property...

Does anyone know what the flowers above are?  They were growing in the grass and being mowed over until they bloomed.  I tried to dig them up and transplant them in a container but the roots were too deep so I cleared the grass from around it so that they won't get mowed down again.

There's a nice patch of these lilies in front of the house and around the property...

They only last for a day so I'm glad there are lots of them and they take turns opening up.

I don't know what this bush is but the bees and butterflies enjoy it...

Several months ago I tended and pruned a patch of thorny plants in the area we call the peninsula just before you cross the bridge.  We thought they were blackberry bushes but as it turns out they are wild raspberry bushes.

This is the first of many raspberry pickings...

We are excited to have raspberry bushes on the property since the ones I purchased and planted did not make it.

There is another patch of thorny bushes growing by the chicken run.  We think they are blackberries.  We should know in a week or two when they are ready to be picked.

To say that we have been truly blessed to be the owners and caretakers of this little piece of God's green Earth is an understatement.  May God give us the strength and knowledge to do it justice.