Saturday, November 24, 2012

It’s not too late…

It’s never too late to make Pumpkin Pie!  This is a super (easy) recipe that’s great to take to those holiday gatherings where finger foods will be in abundance.  It’s pretty & REALLY yummy…

The first time I made this recipe it was for a gathering of ladies here at the house.  I didn’t figure up the nutrition facts, just made it, served it, loved it.  THEN, I typed in the recipe to write it in my food journal…holy moly!  So, I skinnyfied it and found that I didn’t notice a difference between the original recipe and the skinny(er) version!

Pumpkin Squares (2)

Skinny(er) Pumpkin Pie Sheet Cake


  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 4 T (real) butter, melted
  • ¼ c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg


  • ¾ c sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 1 t ginger
  • ½ t cloves
  • 4 eggs
  • 29 oz can pumpkin
  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  1. Mix together crust ingredients until well combined. Spray a large jelly roll pan with cooking spray. Press crust into pan (I use Pampered Chef’s bar pan stone).
  2. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Set aside.
  3. Crack eggs into mixing bowl and whip on med-high using mixer for 1 minute or until frothy.
  4. Add sugar mixture and pumpkin to mixing bowl, and mix until combined. Then, add evaporated milk and mix until combined.
  5. Now, hear me when I say this…do NOT pour the filling into the crust yet (you would have a colossal mess in your oven and throw a few choice words my way!) Place the crust in the oven on the middle rack and pull out the rack just a bit so it’s stable but sticking out of the oven. CAREFULLY pour the filling over the crust. Your pan will be full….really full! Gently and slowly, push the rack back in the oven.
  6. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour or until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.  Cover and store in fridge.
  7. To serve, I cut off the outside edges and slice the remaining “inside” pieces into 24 servings and plop a bit of whipped cream on top.

Nutrition Facts: (according to the recipe builder at

1 bar = 133 calories, 3g protein, 0g fiber, 169mg sodium, 5g fat, 21 carbs

I do not feel guilty eating this for dessert…Sara Lee’s Pumpkin Pie is 270 calories per slice.  Word to the wise…slice these, put ONE on a plate and put the rest in the back of the fridge if you want to have some to take elsewhere. Do not eat the entire pan…it’s not a skinny(er) choice!

Happy Day :: Christy

Friday, November 9, 2012

Why did the chicken cross the road…?

…to prove to the opossum it could be done.  *haaaa!*  I heard this chicken joke from a 4th grader awhile back.  And since this post to dedicated to “The Ladies” I thought it would only be fitting.  Here’s a tour of Windy Ridge Farm’s chicken “operation”.  (I say “operation” like we’ve got hundreds of chickens under control.  Need I remind you, we have 7, SEVEN hens??) 

Along the way, we’ve had as many as 12 chickens at one time. Long story short…we killed some roosters and put them in our freezer, gave away some hateful bantams, had 2 mysteriously die, and now we have 7 hens. 

Winter Garden (8)

Count them…remember the missing lady.

We typically gather 4-5 eggs from the ladies each day.  Sometimes 3, but usually 4.  Now, do this math…Orpingtons are good layers, meaning they lay an egg once about every 26 hours.  We have 7 hens…shouldn’t that mean we should gather 7 eggs a day (or thereabouts??)  Apparently, we have some late bloomers, but since we rarely “catch” a hen in the act of laying, it impossible to tell which hens are the slackers…and even if we DID catch the hens laying, it’s impossible to tell them apart so we’re back to square one.

That being said, guess what I found this morning?

Chicken Coop (7)

Chicken Coop (3)

That feathery chicken bottom is a hen in the nesting box.  She had BETTER be LAYING an egg and not sitting on one.  Hens go “broody” most often in the spring, but can happen anytime of year.  Broody means they lay an egg and decide to be all motherly and hatch the egg by keeping it warm and sitting on it.  Our eggs can’t hatch though because we don’t have a rooster, which means, the eggs are just eggs, not potential fluffy chicks!  Makes you feel better about eating them!  We don’t want the ladies to go broody because that slows down (and sometimes) stops egg production.  And we eat a LOT of eggs (and supply Mrs. Bee’s family with eggs & fresh bread in exchange for dropping off our trash at her trash can weekly!)

Chicken Coop (6)

Yes, there is also a golf ball is in the other nesting box.  (There’s actually another golf ball under the better NOT be broody hen too…)  Chickens are dumb.  They are also approval seekers too, apparently.  They will lay where other chickens have laid their eggs and if you don’t want to leave one of their eggs in the nesting box…you can “fool them” with a golf ball, plastic easter egg, or other egg-shaped object.  Our chicken hating neighbors unknowingly supplied these golf balls, compliments of our field being used as a driving range.

Here’s the hen house where the ladies sleep, eat, drink, and lay eggs.  The nesting box is on the front under the window.  Miss Bossy Britches is now tall enough to open it and gather the eggs herself…but she won’t because she’s a big chicken herself and is afraid there will be a chicken on an egg or something???

Chicken Coop (1)

It’s a diamond in the rough right now.  It was built over 2 days our of dire need because we had 8 not so baby chicks in our garage.  There chicken fluff (and stink) was too much to bear for any longer AND they were getting ready crowded in the brooder (cage) we had them in.  So thanks to my Dad for free plywood, Ms. Bee for free windows, left over building materials from our new house, and a $300 trip to Lowe’s, this is what was born.  The picture in my mind is sooo much more beautiful.  Once we have money and time to paint and add trim, the cuter factor will increase exponentially, but for now, it is what it is.  We are the white trash neighbors with the ugly coop and make shift fence in the back yard.  I’m so thankful for it (and for the Handsome Husband’s ability and vision to make it happen). 

Here’s the inside…

Chicken Coop (2)

We have a chicken waterer with chicken “nipples” in the white bucket on the right. We fill the 3 gallon bucket with fresh water about once a month (more often now that we chickens have been banished from free ranging in the back yard).  The ladies’ food is hanging in the feeder with the red bottom.  They eat about 50 lbs of chicken feed every month- 6 weeks which costs $15.00

The roost is the 3 tiered contraption on the left.  They all pile on the top row and peer out the windows in the evening.  It’s kind of creepy looking from the outside in.  Chickens are extremely nosy and curious…

Chicken Coop (5)

The ladies heard me in the hen house and had to sneak a peek.  This is the “runway” from the coop to the chicken yard.  Above their chicken sized door is the most magical thing the Handsome Husband has ever done (with the exception of asking me to marry him)…

Chicken Coop (4)

All those wires, cords, and pluggy things are the magical contraption that keeps chicken farming a possibility for us.  It’s the automatic chicken door!  SOMEHOW, those timers, cords and wires make the electric car antenna thing (in the middle of the picture) pushes the door down when it’s evening and pulls the door open @ 8  in the morning.  (This means yours truly doesn’t have to make a trip to the back forty to lock up the ladies at night or trudge out in the cold morning to let them out.)  The ladies are pretty self-sufficient as long as we keep food & water in their house.  The Handsome Husband does go out each evening and check on them, making sure they all made it in the house before the door closed and checking their food/water supply.

THIS is my kind of chicken keeping dear friends.  Low maintenance, super yummy (and healthy), all natural eggs…

Happy Day :: Christy

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Good night Garden…

A few weekends ago, we spent all afternoon in our gardens.  It’s that time of year…everything is DEAD (at least in OUR summertime garden!)  Usually, by the time fall rolls around, I’m *beyond* ready to put the garden to bed for the winter!  

Here’s a pic of our last harvest as we ripped up the vines and made a new compost pile…

Fall Garden Update (2)

1 lone carrot (that somehow got overlooked by the chickens this summer…they ate all the green tops of the baby carrots so we only harvest 3 or 4 carrots big enough to eat)

3 green peppers & 1 reddish green pepper

1 butternut squash that was still dangling from the arbor trellis…the Handsome Husband somehow missed this one when he harvested the other 30

Handful of “baby tomatoes”

Lots of red & white potatoes (most were really small but totally free because they were left over potatoes that got too shrivelly to eat and my Papaw had given them to us from their harvest last year)

And here’s the main garden (featuring our dog, Pal) all “cleaned up”.  It’s soooo pretty to look at right now.  All neat & tidy with few weeds and no dead vines/plants.  But man do I miss the food that weeds & vines bring…Fall Garden Update (1)

In mid-September, I planted lettuce, cilantro & spinach in the herb garden closest to the house. The spinach (and some of the leaf lettuce) never came up, but the cilantro & butter head lettuce is grow, grow, growing…

from left to right

Chives, Butter head lettuce, lavender, cilantro (that self seeded from this summer’s planting)

Winter Garden (1)

left to right :: The edge of my oregano bowl to keep the “beast” contained so it doesn’t take over, new cilantro plants, a few sprigs of rosemary

Winter Garden (2)

Then, last weekend, I planted Round 2 of our winter crops.  This is our first year planting winter crops. We’ve been buying a ton of spinach from Sam's Club lately and our use of garlic is quite ridiculous, so we’re attempting to cut our grocery costs by growing our own. I already had the spinach & lettuce seeds; the garlic bulbs & kale seed cost around $16.50. We spend over $10/week on lettuce, spinach & garlic, so (if our crops do well), our plan to lower grocery costs over the winter should be on target!!! *fingers crossed*

Kale (Ms. Bossy Britches loves to help in the garden.  Her favorite job is writing “sticks” to help us know where we plant the tiny seeds.)

Winter Garden (3)

Then in the main garden (outside of the area the chicken have access to) we planted spinach, more kale & our garlic (to harvest at the end of the summer).  Winter Garden (4)

Anything you might be tempted to call spinach or kale in the above picture is a actually a blasted WEED! (Note the spinach & kale haven't come up yet, but the weeds have not only sprouted but are THRIVING!!)  The garlic cloves are planted beneath the straw & chicken poo compost. We’ll also mulch some leaves on the garlic once we gather them from Ms. Bee’s house.

And some pictures of the ladies…I would tell you their names but we gave up naming them.  All 7 chickens are Golden Buff Orpingtons.  All 7 hens are orange (with no special markings really.)  My girls, Little Miss Picklepants & Miss Bossy Britches, had superb names for them when they were little chicks, with the hopes that once their adult feathers came in, we’d be able to tell them apart….  soooo not the case.  So, we just refer to them as “The Ladies”. 

Garden Update - Chickens (1)Garden Update - Chickens (2)

There are were free range, cage free chickens.  The ladies discovered our neighbor’s planter in the front of their house (read…they were scratching MULCH out of bounds) , so we’re having to keep them within their fence for now.  Of course, “within their fence” is an area larger than most people’s back yard…so I don’t feel too sorry for them.  Especially after we opened up the garden beds to the ladies so they can peck up bugs, worms (hopefully eat all the grubs!) and scratch in our compost, straw, and leaves. 

Winter Garden (7)

This is a garden bed the ladies have worked their magic on…just last weekend there was a big pile of straw/chicken poo that I cleaned out of their coop in the middle of this garden bed.  In most of the beds, you can barely see the straw at all.  I think I may change their name from “the ladies” to “My little rototillers”.  Smile

Winter Garden (6)

Gardening definitely teaches faith, hope, and love.  Faith that God will provide the right amount of sunshine, rain, and warmth.  Hope that all your hard work prepping the garden beds, planting the seed will pay off in beautiful green sprouts poking up through the soil.  And Love for the land, the creation, the sunshine, the rain, and the Creator who orchestrates the delicate balance of it all. 

I’ll keep you updated about our winter garden progress and our (hopefully) decreasing grocery costs…

Happy Day :: Christy