Sunday, July 31, 2011

Have You Entered Yet

There's still time to enter my giveaway of this Gooseberry Patch cookbook.

Thanks to the Real Farmwives of America and Gooseberry Patch for coordinating this fun project.

Go to this post to enter! You have until 9 p.m. EST TONIGHT!

Special thanks to Gooseberry Patch for providing me with this great cookbook to try and share with you. If you would like to purchase this or other cookbooks, please visit their store. If you would like to see other great recipes, check out

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Christmas Kitchen Cookbook Giveaway

Since the end of May I've been fixing recipes from Gooseberry Patch's Christmas Kitchen cookbook.

This was done in anticipation of a giveaway of this cookbook right here on my blog as part of the In the Kitchen project between the Real Farmwives of America and Gooseberry Patch. And, yes, it's a brand-new copy - NOT the one I cooked from, promise!

In case you missed one, here is a round-up of my 10 recipes:

Recipe 1: Quick Cheese Bread
Recipe 2: Grandma's Butter Cookies
Recipe 3: Cheesy Potato Puffs
Recipe 4: Baked Ziti Supreme
Recipe 5: Cheesy Garlic Biscuits
Recipe 6: Cream Cheese Candy
Recipes 7 and 8: Tina's Creamy Bacon Crescents and Scrambled Eggs in Toast Cups
Recipe 9: Hot Cinnamon Twisters
Recipe 10: Chicken, Spinach and Bows Casserole

Big Thanks to Gooseberry Patch!

So with no further ado, let's get down to business.

There are LOTS of ways to enter to win. You don't have to use them all, just do the ones you want. Just make sure you leave a separate comment for each entry.

1. Follow Gal in the Middle through Google Friend Connect (GFC) (right sidebar).
2. Subscribe to us via email (right sidebar).
5. Subscribe to our feed (right sidebar).
6. Check out The Real Farmwives of America and Friends and follow through GFC. 
8. Follow @realfarmwives on Twitter.
10. Comment on Gooseberry Patch's Blog or Facebook Page and tell them Megan from Gal in the Middle sent you.
11. Follow @gooseberrypatch on Twitter.
12. Tweet about this contest and include @realfarmwives and @gooseberrypatch in your tweet.
14.  Share this giveaway on your Facebook page and tag The Real Farmwives of America and Friends, and Gooseberry Patch in your post.
15. EXTRA SPECIAL ENTRY: I just started my own Facebook Fan Page - Gal in the Middle - so go over and like it and let me know in a comment and get an extra entry!  

Contest ends 9 PM EDT on July 31st and the winner will be selected at random. The winner must live in the continental U.S.  

Special thanks to Gooseberry Patch for providing me with this great cookbook to try and share with you. If you would like to purchase this or other cookbooks, please visit their store. If you would like to see other great recipes, check out

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Baseball and a Six Year Old

My six-year-old nephew LOVES to take photos with my camera.

My expensive Canon Rebel XS camera...and I usually let him. I've actually featured his photography on here before.

He really does have quite an eye for composing a shot. I taught him how to work the zoom lens and he does.

Last night the family joined me at an Indianapolis Indians game that I was "working" at as part of the Indiana's Family of Farmers. More than 300 people came out as guests of Indiana's Family of Farmers and enjoyed the game and a picnic. Even though it was 90-plus degrees, I think everyone had a great time.

While we were watching the game, my nephew asked if he could take some photos...and, of course, I let him!

All I did to the photos below before posting them was reduce the size - no other Photoshop work done on these. Pretty good for a kid, right?

He captured a couple shots of the game...

Then he turned his attention to the people!

The shot above actually had to be re-taken once his aunt saw the photo and realized that he got a little too close and shot her at a bad angle! Everyone is a critic.

It's Bennie the Bean!

He wasn't satisfied with his game shots so he took a couple more...

He had to re-take Grandma and Papaw's photo after we noticed Papaw's eyes were shut! I think the second effort was pretty good!

Not bad for a six-year-old!

Hooking up to Wordless Wednesday over at Pinke Post and


Monday, July 18, 2011

Pizza Batter Bread and a Challenge

I'm participating in Ott,A's Iron Chef Challenge again this month (BTW...I won her milk challenge!) and the sponsor is King Arthur Flour.


I chose King Arthur's Unbleached Bread Flour so I could test my bread-making skills! It's been years since I've done any serious yeast baking. When doing a bit of research on what King Arthur flour I wanted to use, I found out that the higher the protein level in the flour, the stronger the rise...King Arthur bread flour has a higher protein level than most brands. Check out more nutritional information about the flour here.

I was tempted to mix up the Cheddar-Stuffed Crusty Loaves from the recipe on the back of the package...yummy.

But, I decided to mix up a loaf of Pizza Batter Bread from the local extension homemaker cookbook. This cookbook features recipes from local women and 4-H members and I have had great luck with the ones I've made before. This one was no exception, two thumbs up from the family.

Here are the ingredients...

I didn't snap many photos of the dough in process...but I did get this one of the dry ingredients...flour, spices and yeast!

Here's the "soft dough" before I set it in a warm place to rise.

Once it doubled in size, I stirred it and placed it in a bread pan to double in size again before baking.

It turned out great! I took it to a pitch-in at my mom's on Sunday night and it was well-received!

Here's the recipe:

Pizza Batter Bread
3 c. flour (I used unbleached bread flour from King Arthur.)
1 pkg. yeast
1/2 t. dried oregano (I used Italian seasoning.)
1/4 t. garlic powder
1 1/4 c. water
2 T. butter
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1/4 c. finely chopped pepperoni

In mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of flour, yeast, oregano and garlic powder.

In saucepan, heat water, butter, sugar and salt just until water is warm, stirring to melt butter. Add to dry mixture in mixing bowl. Beat at low speed for 1/2 minute, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat at high speed for 3 minutes.

By hand, stir in pepperoni and enough remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough. Cover, let rise in warm place until double, 45 to 60 minutes. Stir dough down. Spread evenly in greased 9 x 5 x 3-inch pan. Let rise until double, about 30 minutes.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from pan: cool on rack. Makes 1 loaf.

Check out the other Iron Chef Challenge entries here.

King Arthur provided me with a coupon for a free sack of flour. But the opinions and thoughts expressed in this post are all mine, of course!

Yummy Casserole from GP

I decided to tackle a main dish for my 10th and final recipe out of Gooseberry Patch's Christmas Kitchen cookbook as part of my Real Farmwives and Friends of America In the Kitchen experience!

I went for the Chicken, Spinach and Bows Casserole courtesy of Karen Fulton of Huntington, Ind. I thought it was appropriate to fix a Hoosier contribution!

It was very easy to make and yummy to eat. I halved the recipe because I didn't need to serve 10-15 people! I also used frozen, pre-cooked diced chicken instead of fresh. 

Here's the recipe:

Chicken, Spinach and Bows Casserole
16-oz. pkg. bowtie pasta, cooked (I used 8 oz. of what I had on hand.)
26-oz. can cream of chicken soup  (I used a regular sized can - 10 oz or so.)
16-oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed (I used a 10 oz. box.)
4 to 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced (I used about 2 cups frozen, pre-cooked diced chicken.)
8-oz. pkg shredded Colby-Jack cheese
1 T. butter, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Combine cooked pasta and soup, stir until coated. Add spinach and set aside. In a lightly greased 3-quart glass casserole dish, layer half each of chicken, pasta mixture and cheese. Layer with remaining chicken and pasta mixture; dot with butter and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes, until heated through and cheese is melted. Serves 10 to 15.

Stay tuned for a chance to win this great cookbook!

Hooking up to:

Hunk of Meat Mondays

Special thanks to Gooseberry Patch for providing me with this great cookbook to try and share with you. If you would like to purchase this or other cookbooks, please visit theirstore. If you would like to see other great recipes, check

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Putting it All in Perspective

Sometimes things happen in our lives that put everything in perspective.

This happened to me this weekend when I learned of the passing of a family member. One whom I was close to in age, but whom I hadn't had an actual conversation with for years.

Hearing the news made me feel sad for a life that ended way too soon.

It made me ache for the loved ones left behind to miss him and wonder why.

It made me sad that I haven't been good about staying in touch with my extended family. We share a history and that's important.

It made me a bit ashamed for the way I've been feeling about my own life.

And it made me think of all the times I spent with him...hunting Easter eggs at Grandma's; riding the Spider at our church festival; sitting at the kid's table at our family Thanksgiving even though we were technically adults; and seeing each other at so many family holidays, weddings and other functions over the last 30-plus years.

In the end, it made me remember this...

"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 
--Revelation 21:4

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ending the Week OK

I've had a long week. I'm getting to the end of a really big project at work that is going to be awesome (more about that later) but there's still a lot of work to be done.

Take a heavy workload add a looming deadline and that equals STRESS!

But no matter how much stress I have at work, I need to keep it all in perspective.

So here are a few things I learned at work today...

First, that I have some AWESOME coworkers. On my desk this morning, I found a pick-me-up card and this...

What can I say...they get me! (Also, I'm loving Instagram on my iPad.)

Second, don't order 8 milkshakes and a Coke Zero in the drive-thru during Happy Hour at Steak 'n Shake and expect to get them in sooner than 20 minutes.


Source: via Megan on Pinterest

Fourth, a 20-minute wait for milkshakes is worth it when you surprise people with a Friday afternoon treat.

Fifth, I have always known that my brain works in a different way and that I have a habit of starting a conversation somewhere in the middle, not the beginning. However, I never realized how bad it is until we got a new intern and he point blank tells me - repeatedly -that he doesn't understand what I'm talking about.

Source: None via Megan on Pinterest

I guess he just doesn't get me!

Finally, I love the work I'm doing and that I get to things like this and consider it work!

TGIF, my friends!

Enjoy your weekend.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Buried in Email

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

It's 10:49 p.m.

I just finished responding to work e-mail that was sent to me today.

Well, not all of it. I have 156 emails from TODAY in my inbox.

That's not counting the 89 from today that are in my deleted folder and another 20-plus that I filed in Outlook folders.

What did people do at the office before e-mail?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hot Enough

This was down one degree from when I got in the car...

Enough said.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dreams of Travels

This summer is super busy for me at work so I have NO vacation plans in the near future.

So, as much as I'd like to go here...

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

or here...

or back here...

I don't think I'll be going ANYWHERE for a while.

But I've promised myself some vacation time in September and/or late October, possibly a long weekend in New York City with my sisters.

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

I've never been to NYC but have always wanted to go there and see a Broadway musical.

Source: None via Chandra on Pinterest

So, I'm looking for suggestions, travel tips and recommendations.

What show(s) should we see?
Where should we stay?
Where should we eat?

Don't be shy, any help is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Another Round of Random Posting

I'm feeling a bit random today so stick with me here...

1.  I watched two movies over the weekend that I had recorded on my DVR during a free HBO/Showtime weekend. They both disappointed me so I turned to a movie that ALWAYS makes me laugh...

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

"To the windows, to the walls..." Sing with me girls!

What's your go-to movie?

2.  This Facebook post almost made me laugh out loud during a meeting this morning!

If you don't "like" himyf on Facebook, check her out. What are you waiting for, go now! Be sure to check out her blog too.

3.  When is it time to switch from an over-the-counter PM medication to a prescription option? Excederin PM has been the only thing that's kept me asleep for the last week and I'm worried that I may soon grow immune to its power! Right now, I'm writing this post about 30 minutes after taking two tablets...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz - just kidding!

4.  Watching my nephews trip and fall over NOTHING - multiple times - this weekend, I realized that lack of grace may just be genetic! The joke when I was growing up was that my middle name was definitely NOT Grace.

Source: None via Megan on Pinterest

In less than 3 hours on Monday, I tripped over a large ottoman that was sitting in the middle of my living room AND ran into a closed door at the office. In my defense, I was in the dark on both occasions, but I should have known better.

5. Did you know that Milwaukee has an area called "old town" (I think) that has several German-style bars and restaurants? They even have their own version of the famous Hofbrauhaus in Munich.

Once I saw this, I immediately called my dad who told me that I had to go in and see if they had the dark beer that he enjoyed so much when we visited the real Hofbrauhaus in Germany earlier this year. Check out more about our afternoon in Munich, including beef and pretzels, here. BTW, I didn't go in. I was by myself and a girl just doesn't hang out in a German-style bar on her own.

6.  Nothing makes a girl feel more on display than sitting in a restaurant alone with not one, but TWO beers in front of her. While in Milwaukee for business last week, I ate at a very nice restaurant and decided to order a Spotted Cow - a Wisconsin brew - with my dinner. It was 2 for 1 night and the waiter brought me BOTH beers at the same time.

No worries, I drank both of them and by the end of the meal, I wasn't feeling like a loser any more! Also, I didn't need my Excederin PM that night.

Thanks for joining me for another of my rambling, random posts!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Daylilies Make Me Smile

I took a walk in my mom's garden this weekend.

Her flowers were beautiful...especially the daylilies. I heart daylilies! While I was writing for a farm newspaper, I visited a daylily farm...yes, a daylily farm! It was actually in a very lovely couple's backyard, but it was definitely a labor of love for them AND a great example of value-added agriculture.

Back to mom's garden, I got some great shots.

Like the dark red ones...

The pink ones...

The orange ones...

I'm pretty sure my mom got these orange lilies alongside the road almost 40 years ago...thus the nickname "ditch lilies."

These dark red spider daylilies...

My mom has also incorporated lots of wildflowers in her landscaping...

Out of all of the flowers, my mom and I agreed that this flower is our favorite...

I played with the PW's action sets too!

Dramatic color...

Soft color...

What's your favorite flower?


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