Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Visit Manna Pro and Enter to Win

It seems like only yesterday my little chicks came home and first started exploring their brooder; trying the feeder, spilling the waterer, and doing what little chicks do best - besides looking adorable.  Yes, I do mean making a mess!  How do you keep your brooder fresh?

I'll admit, I was a round the clock cleaner.  Constantly trying to stay ahead of 11 little chicks was impossible!  I wish I'd known about Coop N Compost and how it could save me some time in between cleanings.  Now I've got a new trick up my sleeve for the next time, and I do plan on getting chicks again!

If you'd like to read more about using Coop N Compost with baby chicks and have a chance to win a supply of your own, visit Manna Pro's blog and enter their contest today.  The contest ends March 25th, so be sure to get your name in before those baby chicks start hatching!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pumpkin-Apple Harvest Delight Muffins

Look at all those little goodies inside just
waiting for the chickens to peck them out!
If you have learned anything from looking at my blog, it's that I love my animals dearly.  Some folks might think that it is a bit overkill to bake for birds and if you would have asked me a few years ago, I might have been one of them.  But day by day, these feathered creatures have shown me that they have as much personality and capacity for love as the traditional family pets I was raised with and found it commonplace to give treats to.  They beg for goodies, jumping and racing around at my feet to make sure they are at the very front of the line.  Their eyes look up, shining and expectant, waiting to see if I have something special with me.  Oh, and the delighted little noises when they receive even simple scraps of vegetables or fruits!  Who am I to deny them this pleasure?  Who am I to deny myself this enjoyment in watching their happy antics?

This particular batch of muffins came about because of an event we had scheduled for February 22nd for my volunteer reading program called Read to Roo (see website here, blog here and Facebook here).  Author of Percy the Perfectly Imperfect Chicken, Rick Rieser, and a few feathered friends were set to come in and speak with our students about his wonderful book.  In this book, a new little chicken (Percy) hatches in the coop and soon is discovered by the others.  He is found to be less than perfect in their eyes and feels ashamed, though he doesn't quite understand what perfect is.  I will be writing a book review, event details and even be hosting a book give away soon - so stay tuned for that!

I wanted to be able to give Rick's birds a thank you gift for being good companions and helping the children experience the book's message in a fun way, besides being an extra exciting way to get to learn more about chickens for those who have never been around them!  Wanting to give them something that was heartfelt and showed them I appreciated him going the extra mile with the kids experience of the book, what better way than with home-baked goodies?

from my original Pumpkin Muffin recipie:
muffin for humans (Right), muffin for chickens (Left)
I decided to dust off my old Pumpkin Muffin recipe and make that for Rick's birds.  My girls really loved it, and it freezes and thaws very well in case he didn't want to use the entire batch all at once.  I began to get my ingredients out when an idea struck me.  I had recently purchased a bag of Manna Pro Harvest Delight Poultry Treat.  My recipe called for mixing in sunflower seeds, raisins, and craisins...why not substitute this wonderful poultry treat in place of the typical mix in's?

For those who have never heard of Manna Pro Harvest Delight Poultry Treat, here is a quote taken directly from Manna Pro's website:

Harvest Delight™ Poultry Treat is a great way to reward your flock! With whole grains and real fruits and vegetables, you can provide a treat year-round that contains the goodness of a spring garden! And with peanuts, flax, sunflower seeds and your specially-formulated nutrition pellets, you’re also getting added protein, vitamins and minerals. At Manna Pro, we understand that animals are our companions as well as our providers. So whether you raise blue-ribbon show birds or you simply enjoy the eggs and entertainment from your backyard flock, treat your feathered friends with wholesome and delicious Harvest Delight.
  • Wholesome and delicious!
  • Whole grains, peanuts, carrots, tomatoes, raisins, flaxseed, sunflower seeds and more!
  • Perfect for treating your flock!

my own shot of some of the delectables for your chickens inside Harvest Delight Poultry Treat by Manna Pro

Thus, this recipe modification was born:

Pumpkin-Apple Harvest Delight Muffins

  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. cornmeal
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2.c old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 c. wheat germ with flax seed
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 c. pumpkin
  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1 c. applesauce (natural, no sugar added)
  • 2 c. Manna Pro Harvest Delight Poultry Treat
Dry Ingredients + Pumpkin + Applesauce + Egg
All Mixed Up
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, oats, wheat germ and nutmeg until blended.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the lightly beaten eggs, pumpkin and applesauce.  Mix together until blended.
  4. Add wet and dry ingredients together and mix well.
  5. Stir the Manna Pro Harvest Delight Poultry Treat into the well mixed batter.  
  6. Spray muffin tins with a light spray of non-stick cooking spray.  (or line with liners if you choose, but I haven't been.  They don't mind the slightly chewy bottoms and lets face it...peeling off that paper only slows you down when you've got beggars at your feet!)
  7. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full of batter.
  8. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until muffins are a beautiful golden (somewhat orange) brown and they pass the "toothpick test".
Read, Set, Bake!
My daughter and I made this batch in a mini-muffin pan, baked at 15 minutes exactly, and had enough batter for 48 mini-muffins.  These pint sized baked goods looked good enough to eat - but we didn't - and got packaged up to gift as soon as they were cooled.  I could hardly wait to see if his birds would enjoy their snack as much as we had enjoyed making them.

Flash forward to 05:40 am when school is canceled due to an ice and snow storm, you'd find me pouting in bed.  I had my heart set on so much that day with the event and so many people had worked hard to pull it all together.  I knew it would be rescheduled, but I couldn't deny myself a childish moment of sulking.

Flash forward to 07:00 am when I finally brave the elements and slip slide my way to the chicken coop to do chores.  The wind is still whipping pretty fiercely out here, so I decide to keep the girls on lock down a bit longer until the storm subsides and they look at me with (almost) narrowed eyes as I don't pop open the coop door to the run.  Bad momma!  Then, a crinkling sound from the depths of my deep winter jacket pockets shake them from their tantrum.  I have brought them muffins and I have been redeemed.  Good momma.  This pleases them and they coo excitedly, forgetting that they have been denied the going's on of the outside world for a bit longer.

I will again make another batch of muffins the night before the rescheduled event to gift to Rick's chickens, because these were a massive hit with my girls.  Without a doubt, they preferred this over the original pumpkin muffin recipe and it has to be because of all the wonderful surprises hidden inside each muffin, thanks to Manna Pro Harvest Delight Poultry Treat!  

...If this keeps up, my chickens are going to need their own recipe box...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Twisted Oreo Truffles: Dark Chocolate Caramel

My creation: Dark Chocolate Caramel Golden Oreo Truffles.
Disclaimers: this will not be a typical chicken post.  Majority of my blog revolves around my birds, recipe modifications for my birds and events that involve chickens.  Not today.  This blog post is pure, selfish indulgence.  This recipe that follows is not healthy.  It isn't intended to be low fat, organic, or homegrown.  It’s sugary sweet, rich, delicious decadence that if you – like me – have a weakness you’ll admit to, will permit yourself every now and again.  If you’d like to judge me, feel free.  I’ll just sit here with my truffle while you ride that high horse of yours.  I hope you enjoy your nosebleed while I enjoy my chocolate bliss.

I've heard of Oreo Truffles before.  I believe I've even had them a few years back.  I liked them.  Who wouldn't?  Chocolate, cream cheese, Oreo cookies; a dream combination.  Couldn't get any better, could it?  There, we both stand corrected, my friend.

Key Players: Golden Oreo Cookies and
Philadelphia Indulgence Dulce de Leche Cream Cheese.
These days everything comes in at least 26 assorted sizes and flavors, give or take.  For instance, Oreo cookies: original, golden, golden chocolate cream stuffed, triple double chocolate, chocolate berry burst ice cream, peanut butter, mint, cool mint (different how?) springtime (what does springtime taste like?), heads or tails, several kinds of cakesters and double stuffs and probably a half dozen more at the time of this post.
Philadelphia Cream Cheese is wonderful in its original flavor and a bunch of savory flavors great for bagels and other cooking matters, but then comes in tempting Indulgence flavors of: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, cinnamon, and dulce de leche.


You see where I’m going with this, don’t you?  Of course I’m going to mix things up.  Wouldn't you? 
Here is how you make original Oreo Truffles:

  • 36 Oreo Cookies, finely crushed
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 16 oz Baker’s brand chocolate, melted

  1. Combine crushed cookies and softened cream cheese together in a bowl until blended.  
  2. Shape into 48 balls, approx 1” in shape (1/2" if you prefer a smaller treat), and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.   
  3. Freeze for 1 hour until firm.  
  4. Melt chocolate. (use your preferred method)  
  5. Dip cookie balls in melted chocolate and place back on lined cookie sheet.  
  6. Place back in freezer for 1 hour.  
  7. Store in refrigerator until eaten…which won’t be long

Mixing it Up.
Ready for the Freezer.
They are pretty uncomplicated to make.  You crush the cookies, creme and all.  You will see that the only chain in the photographic sequence that is missing is the dipping.  Anyone who has worked with warm chocolate knows that you have a window of time before it starts to set.  Baker's brand chocolate is wonderful for dipping and almost immediately creates a magic shell like quality, which prevented me from taking a moment to stop and snap any photos.  My  "after" shots with them lining the cookie sheet will have to do until you try this for yourself.

Freshly Dipped!
My twist today?  I used Golden Oreo Cookies, Baker’s Chocolate and Philadelphia Indulgence Dulce de Leche Caramel Cream Cheese.  The end result?  Think Dark Chocolate Caramel Truffle.  I only wish I would have thought to sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top.  

Adorable Evie loves Aunt Tina's candy!
My family enjoys them so far.  Even my niece Evie loves them.  She is really big into sharing.  She let her momma have two small bites before she stuck the whole truffle in her mouth.  I’d say that’s a pretty strong endorsement!

Next time I think I might try Mint Oreo Cookies, White Baker’s Chocolate and Philadelphia Indulgence white chocolate cream cheese.  Or maybe Peanut Butter Oreo Cookies, Baker’s Chocolate and Philadelphia Indulgence milk chocolate cream cheese: ala peanut butter cup.  What do you think?