It’s Fast, Easy, and What’s for Dinner!

In the midst of all the snow days, I hoped for more time to write. Alas, “Life got in the way!” However, after listening to friends and family discuss home food delivery services and the time constraints to prepare weekly dinners, I decided to share this older post from 2013. Hopefully, this quick and easy recipe will become a tradition and time saver in your weeknight repertoire:

While I enjoy cooking, the weeknight rush is a challenge for me. Here is a quick meal that is among my kids’ favorites. Special thanks to “The Godfather” for sharing!

Baked Chicken in Cranberry Sauce

1-2 lbs. chicken (legs, breasts, thighs, boneless or bone-in, pretty much whatever is in the freezer)
1 bottle Catalina salad dressing (8 oz)
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 envelope dry onion soup mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix together cranberry sauce, dressing and onion soup mix
Cover 9×13 pan with some of the mix
Lay chicken pieces in pan and cover with remaining mixture
Bake at 350 degrees for 60 min (less if boneless, cooking times based on thawed chicken)

I usually serve this with a salad and either baked sweet potatoes or rice.

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

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Farm Markets, Nettles, and the Start of Summer

This past weekend was the annual nettle harvest, and Chad made a batch of nettle and asparagus soup (a favorite of Chad’s homemade soups, perfect with crusty bread, and a dish the vegan will eat). I’m excited to begin the Farm Market Season. This weekend, Cairn Hill Farms will have a stand at these markets:

  • 5/25 Middleville (8-1)
  • 5/26 Hastings (9-1)

We offer the following products:

    • Beeswax Lip Balms: A blend of coconut oil, avocado oil, beeswax, and vitamin E
    • Sprays: Enjoy as a room spray or facial toner
    • Essential Oil Blends: Add to a favorite lotion, make a spray, or use for aromatherapy
    • Salt Scrub: Treat your feet with this lovely new product!
    • Farm Fresh Eggs, Veggies, and Nettle Iced Tea

Can’t make it to the market or want a custom blend? Please message me cairnhillfarms.net

Orders can be shipped.

Nettle and Asparagus Soup

Below is Cairn Hill Farms Summer 2018 Newsletter.

Thanks for reading!

Move over Fondue: Introducing the Raclette Grill

We finally had the opportunity to try out a new foodie toy: The Raclette Grill. Historically, the Raclette referred to a block of hard cheese shepherds packed for long treks with their flocks. At the nightly camp fire, they would heat one side of the block and scrape softened cheese on their bread.

While this is one tasty aspect of the modern Raclette, many more food choices are available. This is similar to fondue, but rather than using pots of heated oil, people gather round a grill. Adding a light coating of oil and a dash of salt on the grill surface, diners enjoy a healthier option, avoiding the vast quantities of oil required for fondue. The Raclette also offers a broiler section with individual pans, so diners can utilize two cooking areas at the same time.

The broiler section is best for melting cheese, poured over potatoes or baguette slices. We also broiled pear slices with some dark chocolate and later topped with whipped cream.

Other items we enjoyed included steak, shrimp, oysters, mushrooms, zucchini, and summer squash. Items can be grilled individually or on skewers. There were even enough choices to keep our resident vegan busy!

Finally, Raclette Grills are affordable, ranging in price from $50-250 (Based on size and extra features, such as a marble cooking top). I highly recommend gathering around the table with friends or family and trying this wonderful tradition!

Thanks for reading!

Got Naan?

Have you ever walked down the bread aisle and saw a unique collection of flat breads? Ever tried naan bread? While personal favorites include homemade pita with a lamb and beef gyro or crusty, authentic French bread with Irish butter, Naan bread is another favorite in the Murphy kitchen.
Naan is a flat bread made with a leavening agent. This bread offers many possibilities in the kitchen.

  
 While the traditional bread compares to the size of a small pizza, some stores carry a toaster size, ideal for topping with peanut butter and jelly or for dinner with a bit of butter, garlic powder and Parmesan. 

  

In addition, we make custom pizzas using naan, easing family dinner with a vegan living in the house. Only taking 4-6 minutes at 425 degrees, the bread offers a unique combination of crunch around the edges and chewy consistency in the middle. We even found garlic naan bread at a local store, adding some extra flavor. 

  

Naan bread also provides a tasty alternative to regular sandwiches, toasted for a minute or two (or microwave for 20 seconds) and then fill with ham, cheese, tomato, and mayo. We even have a list of ideas for future menus: Naan grilled cheese, panini, or even small pieces served with spinach dip or olive oil and herbs.
Any ideas? Please share!
Thanks for reading!

Food, Family, and Heirloom Recipes

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Food traditions abound in our family. Both the Murphy and Roche Families gifted a love of food with celebrations. Whether the Timinski Family pickle recipe or the Roche Family sausage stuffing recipe, food remains a strong connection to happy memories.

Many years ago when I was having a bad day, my mom, in her unique, upbeat manner, offered some words of wisdom, “You should get in touch with your happy, French Canadian roots!” Mom shared stories of our ancestors, settling in Quebec in the mid-1600s. In fact, she mentioned one particularly obnoxious youth who was sent to be raised among a local Indian tribe (Is that the equivalent of boarding school on the frontier?). I also came across a lovely song book by Ann Arbor based songwriter, Kitty Donahoe, celebrating both Michigan and Canadian history through songs and stories. I even had the opportunity to see her in concert, hearing even more stories.

I was particularly drawn to her tales of the first fur trappers and their survival during the long, northern winters. Apparently, when all the food ran out and the weather was too rough to hunt wild game, many survived on beaver fat and sawdust (Yuck!). In later research, I came across another unique dish, the tourtière.

The tourtière is a meat pie, a French Canadian Christmas tradition. Scholars think the dish, dating back to Quebec in the 1600s, is named after passenger pigeons, or “tourtes,” probably the meat used in the original recipe. The tourtière can also be prepared with any meat, even fish. We have prepared the pie with venison and sweet potatoes, but our favorite remains ground pork with potatoes.

Many versions of this dish can be found on-line. In fact, regional areas across Quebec each offer an individual recipe, some shared and some secret (This reminds me of the many versions of stuffing across the United States at Thanksgiving). Each recipe is a piece of history, offering a glimpse into which ingredients were available or affordable in the various regions. More important, these recipes, handed down to each generation, contain more than food; they contain family memories from long ago, ready for the next generation.

What are some food traditions in your family? Are there any recipes worth preserving for future use? What a fabulous conversation to have with loved ones this holiday season. Thanks for reading!

Fish, Friends, and Fire: The Great Lakes Fishboil

This past weekend, we participated in a Labor Day tradition, a Great Lakes Fish Boil. This gathering is the ideal time to enjoy the bounty of our beautiful lakes and last weekend of summer. Since this may be a new experience for some readers, I thought I would explain our unique tradition.

We began by gathering supplies (enough for 12-16 people):

  • 16 potatoes (scrubbed and ends cut off)
  • 8 onions (peeled)
  • 8 lbs. of fish, skin on (whitefish and lake trout are favorites)
  • 1/2 lb. non-iodized salt, divided
  • 8 lemon wedges
  • Fresh herbs
  • 3/4 c. melted butter
  • Tartar sauce

This dish is prepared over the fire, so we also use the following:

  • Large pot with wire handles
  • Smaller pot that fits inside with holes drilled throughout the lower half (We also added a wire handle for easier removal)
  • A stand to set the large pot over the fire (We use an old turkey fryer stand).
  • A metal bar to put through the wire handles on the large pot (for easier removal after final boil over)
  • One small cup of gasoline or kerosene for final boil over
  • Heavy duty hot pads
  • Shovel, hose, etc. for basic fire safety

NOTE: Because this dish is prepared over an open fire, all appropriate safety measures should be taken, including the use of heavy duty hot pads, the appropriate location for a large fire with a shovel and/or water, spectators should not sit or stand too close to fire as final burn off creates a large amount of heat, and children should NOT be involved with any of the cooking process.

First, we started a large bonfire and waited an hour or two for the appropriate cooking coals. Next, a large covered pot filled with two gallons of water is added to the fire. Once the water was boiling, we added 1/4 lb. salt.

fish boil 1

Then the potatoes are added, cooking uncovered for 16 minutes. Later, we added onions, which cooked 4 minutes. After the onions were cooked, we added the last 1/4 lb. of salt.

fish boil 2

Placing the fish in the smaller pot, we added the basket right on top of the potatoes and onions, cooking uncovered for 10 minutes.

fish boil 3

Now, our favorite part, the final boil over! We carefully tossed a cup of kerosene on the fire, creating enough heat for the pot to boil over and reduce the fire’s intensity.

Then we removed the pot from the fire and placed our bounty on platters, the perfect end to summer! We usually serve with cole slaw and rolls. Thanks for reading!

It’s Fast, Easy, and What’s for Dinner

busy-mom1

While I enjoy cooking, the weeknight rush is a challenge for me. Here is a quick meal that is among my kids’ favorites. In fact, even my daughter who wants to become a vegetarian will eat this dish. Special thanks to “The Godfather” for sharing!

Baked Chicken in Cranberry Sauce

1-2 lbs. chicken (legs, breasts, thighs, boneless or bone-in, pretty much whatever is in the freezer)
1-8 oz bottle Catalina salad dressing
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 envelope dry onion soup mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix together cranberry sauce, dressing and onion soup mix
Cover 9×13 pan with some of the mix
Lay chicken pieces in pan and cover with remaining mixture
Bake at 350 degrees for 60 min (less if boneless and cooking times based on thawed chicken)

I usually serve this with a salad and either baked sweet potatoes or rice.

Enjoy!