Prairie Dog Jerky

We've had a problem on our property...prairie dogs! Although they seem cute, they eat everything, make holes that can hurt horses, etc., and are a nusiance.
We've been trying really hard lately (like most of you!) to be frugal. The economy has been hard on everyone in one way or another. So, I decided to solve two problems at once and create... Prairie Dog Jerky!

I didn't have the heart to kill them but Gourmet Dad was happy to get out his pellet gun and do the skinning for me. And, I was happy to prepare the meat...what a team! If you do not own a dehydrator, you can use your oven on the lowest setting and leave the oven door slightly ajar for air circulation. Easy! Feel free to adjust the spices, you can get as creative as you want. Also, in many areas Prairie Dogs carry diseases, so please make sure you cook the meat thoroughly. Prairie Dog Jerky Ingredients: • 1 Tablespoon liquid smoke • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce • 1-1/2 teaspoons mesquite flavoring liquid • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar, packed • 1 Tablespoon onion powder • 2 teaspoons garlic powder • 1 teaspoon kosher salt • 1 pound prairie dog meat, sliced thin

Directions: Combine liquid smoke, soy sauce, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mesquite flavoring, onion powder, garlic powder, and kosher salt in a large zip-top bag. Add prairie dog strips to the marinade, seal, and squish to coat all the meat. Re-open the bag, squeeze out all the air, re-seal, and refrigerate 12 to 24 hours. Remove prairie dog strips from marinade and gently pat off excess moisture with a paper towel. Place strips in a single layer, with space in between, on dehydrator racks. Dehydrate until prairie dog jerky is leathery and chewy but not crisp enough to snap when bent. Store jerky in sealed bags in the refrigerator. NOTES: Please try to find single prairie dogs. They mate for life and it would be terrible to leave one of them without a spouse...One more note...Happy April Fool’s Day!! Please do not eat Prairie Dogs! If you're looking for some fun April Fool's Day dinner ideas, go here!:)


Fluffy Bunny Cakes

Spring is in the air and Bunny Cakes are everywhere! You will LOVE this white chocolate cake mix fix with fluffy marshmallow icing! The best part? One cake mix will make three bunnies! That means this year there will be enough ears for everyone. :) Everyone has felt the pinch of the economy in one way or another. This year, instead of spending a lot of money on expensive table decorations, how about whipping up a family of these bunnies to serve as centerpieces AND dessert?
Fluffy Bunny Cakes
1 box Betty Crocker white cake mix
1 box (3 oz) instant white chocolate pudding
2 cups sour cream
5 eggs
1 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips

3 cups sugar
1 cup water
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
6 egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Food coloring, optional

3 large red gumballs
3 large marshmallows
6 round malt chocolate candies

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray or grease bottom of three 9 inch round cake pans.

Combine all cake ingredients except chocolate chips in large bowl. Mix until well blended. Fold in chocolate chips. Divide batter among three greased cake pans (make sure to use three pans or your cakes will overflow!).

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and turn over on wire racks to cool completely.

In a medium pan, combine sugar, water, cream of tartar and salt. Cook over medium heat until just boiling, stirring occasionally.

Place egg whites in large mixing bowl. Turn mixer on high and continue to beat while slowly pouring in hot sugar mixture. Beat until fluffy and glossy, about 7 minutes. Add vanilla.

Separate icing into bowls and color as desired.

When your cakes are cooled, cut in half. Use one half for the bunny face. Cut ears out of the other half, as shown below. One of the ears is longer, so don’t worry! Cut off the top and flip over to form a “folded ear”.
Divide icing into bowls and color as desired. I like to reserve 1 cup white for ears then tint three bowls pastel pink, yellow, and blue. Or, you can make your bunnies whatever colors you want to match your party!
Frost generously, using your knife to make peaks in the icing. Note: once the icing sets, don’t mess with it! You’ll ruin the smooth gloss. Use candies to create a bunny face, as below.


Gender Reveal Cookies

I don't normally post other people's recipes but really I want you to meet my newest favorite sweet treat blogger, Sugar Derby! I was instantly in love when I saw these
Gender Reveal Cookies...
How cute would these be to announce the gender of an upcoming baby or for a baby shower?
(and NO, I do not have an announcement to make of any kind!!:))

Cake Balls and Cake Pops are all the rage right now, but putting them inside cookies? Genius! Head on over here for the full recipe and be sure to check out all of Sugar Derby's great ideas.


Easy Chicken Enchiladas

Last week Little C and I went to Nebraska where I was a guest cook at a Taste of Home Cooking School Show. The chef, Guy Klinzing, was extremely gracious and we had a marvelous time! Here we are whipping up some Easy Chicken Enchiladas. We even did a little singin' for St. Patty's Day...

Also, openened my mail today and got a great surprise! I'm featured in Taste of Home's April/May issue (page 27). What an honor, I've been thumbing through my mom's Taste of Home magazines since I was a little girl. Thank you!
(click image to enlarge)


Edible Bling Rings

Everyone says that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. However, for little girls I’m convinced that it’s fruit snacks…
We whipped these up as a special project for Tablespoon one afternoon and had such a great time. The girls danced and pranced all over the house with rings on every finger!
These Bling Rings are extremely simple snacks to make, all you need are Gushers Fruit Snacks, yogurt covered circle pretzels and white chocolate. Since they’re so simple to put together, it would be a great edible craft project for a party or playdate!
Tip: If you have trouble finding the pretzels, check the snack aisle. They sell them in 100 calorie packs in both white and dark chocolate.
To assemble, melt chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until melted and smooth. Lay out a piece of wax paper. Dip one Gushers Fruit Snack in the chocolate and press onto a pretzel.
Let set completely, about 5 minutes.
When set, you’re ready to serve! You can also keep them in a sealed container for up to a week. Little Miss H couldn’t get enough of these and made them all afternoon! Here she is showing off some of her favorites…
Click here to get the full recipe. Have fun!

Also, if you're into aprons, head on over here to win the most adorable Mommy, Me & Dolly Apron Set! My friend Mindie made them and I can't believe she's giving them away!!


Spaghetti & Meatball Pie

Looks like pie, tastes like lasagna, comes together in a snap! My kids LOVE this meatball pie and the mascarpone gives it a grown-up taste that I love. If you can't find mascarpone, you can use Kraft's new Cooking Creme (Original Flavor, you'll find it by the cream cheese).
This is also a GREAT make ahead dish. It firms up nicely in the fridge overnight for slicing the next day. For the meatballs, you can use storebought but I love to make up batches of my Oven Baked Meatballs and freeze them for quick dinners like this one.

Spaghetti & Meatball Pie
6 oz. uncooked spaghetti
2 T. Butter
1/3 C. shredded Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
16 meatballs, thawed and cut in half
1 ½ C. Marinara Sauce
½ c. shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cook the spaghetti and drain. Return to pot and add eggs, parmesan cheese, butter and salt & pepper (to taste). Mix well. Place pasta mixture in greased pie pan, pressing down slightly to form a “crust”. Spread mascarpone over pasta and top with meatball halves. Pour marinara sauce over meatballs and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil (spray foil with cooking spray to avoid sticking) and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the oven, let sit for 5- 10 minutes, and then cut into slices and serve.


Q is for Queen Cupcakes

Little C's class needed a treat for Q day recently. I figured Kindergarteners wouldn't be too excited about my favorite Quinoa Salad, so we made up some Queen Cupcakes...

I think they came out pretty close to their Letter Friend of the week: Queenie Queen!

These look fancy but are pretty easyto assemble. You can improvise with ingredients you have on hand, but here's what we used :

-Your favorite cupcakes, baked and cooled
-White Icing
-Orange Food Coloring
-Small amount Chocolate Icing
-M & M's Candies
-Large red heart sprinkles
-Kix Cereal
-Wax Paper
-2 Quart Ziploc freezer bags
-White Candy Melts
-Yellow Candy Melts
-Edible pearls or various sprinkles (for crown)

Lay out a sheet of wax paper. Melt white candy melts in microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted and smooth. Pour into ziploc freezer bag and snip off the end of one corner. Draw the outline of white "hairdos" on the wax paper, one for each cupcake. Using a spoon, fill in your outline with additional melted white candy melts and smooth with back of spoon. When set, use melted yellow candy melts to draw on "crowns". Decorate with sprinkles, etc..
Tint white icing with a small amount of orange food coloring (to make a "peach" color). Frost cupcakes and place "hair and a crown" on top of each. Draw on eyes using chocolate icing. Add two M & M's candies for earrings. Add a large heart sprinkle for lips.
Microwave a small amount of peach icing in a bowl for 15 seconds until very soft. Coat a piece of Kix Cereal in melted icing and place on face for the "nose". Here they are, just waiting for those little kids to Quickly gobble them up!

Holiday Playlist

My grandmother hasn't been doing well...to cheer her up, I rounded up a few of my musical friends and made an album of Holiday songs fo...