the great cookie debate

Last week, I posted my chocolate chip pumpkin cookie recipe.  You can see it here.  I thought, they were okay, healthy tasting, but good enough to share.  Well, that evening, Greg popped a few in his mouth and said, “These aren’t that good.”  (Don’t fret, it was said in a nice way, and I actually like it when he tells me something isn’t good — why would I want to spend time and effort to make something that no one likes.)  Anyway, I felt really bad for posting something that was yucky.  Then Taryn came in, grabbed a cookie and said, “These are so good.”  And the great cookie debate began.

We still don’t have a definitive answer on whether or not these are actually good — as of this morning, all five dozen are gone, so they couldn’t have been that bad.  But, I do feel the need to apologize to anyone that made them and thought they weren’t that great.  Sorry to waste your pumpkin and chocolate chips.  To redeem myself, I offer you another pumpkin recipe.  And this is really good — it was universally approved — no bake cheesecake graham cracker sandwiches.

I found the recipe at The Well Floured Kitchen.  I’m in love with this blog.  She is super cool and makes her own graham crackers.  I had some nasty store bought ones left over from making smores with the cub scouts, so I used those.  They were still wonderful, but I’m excited to go totally Martha and make the graham crackers — next time.  But for now, here you go.


No Bake Cheesecake Graham Cracker Sandwiches

1/4 cup pumpkin puree (just pumpkin, not the pie filling stuff)

4 oz. cream cheese softened

2 tablespoons organic sugar

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or a little more if you like)

graham crackers

Mix the cream cheese and sugar.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix. 

Spread on your graham crackers and make sandwiches — sorry, there’s not much else to say other than if your cream cheese mixture seems a little too soft, put it in the fridge for a bit.

These things are so yummy.  In fact, I need to wrap this up so I can go make some more.  Enjoy.

pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

In theory, it’s fall; although, it was 95 degrees here yesterday.  Regardless of the temperature, whenever I think of fall, I think of pumpkin.  I was a pumpkin lover long before pumpkin was cool, and I still love it.  These cookies are fast and easy and satisfy even my pumpkin cravings.  I have to warn you, they’re pretty healthy as far as cookies go, and they kind of taste that way.  The good news is, you can eat them without much angst.

ImagePumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup organic sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup butter

1 cup canned pumpkin (just pumpkin, not the pie stuff)

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

2 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat sugars, butter, and oil until light and fluffy (I whip them for about 3 minutes in my stand mixer).  Add pumpkin, vanilla, and egg; blend well.  Add dry ingredients and mix.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop dough by rounded teaspoons on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 10 minutes or until light brown around the edges.  Makes 4-5 dozen depending on how round your teaspoonfuls are and how many tastes everyone takes as you’re making them.

Serve with a little apple cider and holy cow, what a fun fall treat. 

down on the farm

It’s been a while.  Sadly, I was not on my dream European vacation.  I just had a lot on my plate and decided to take a little virtual break.  We’ve had a lot to do around here the last couple of weeks, and there is still so much more that needs to be done.  Isn’t that always the case.  Oh well, at least no one ever complains about being bored.

I’ll see if I can remember everything.  The alfalfa is in — that is huge.  Our front yard is not longer a giant plain of cow poop — it’s poop with little sprouts.

ImageI can’t tell you how happy I was when I saw those sprouts.  All of that work.  All of that time.  It may be silly, but the alfalfa is constantly in our prayers.

Greg worked super duper hard this week and got the winter rye planted in the rest of the front yard.  Phoenix is weird.  You have pretty winter grass and nasty summer grass.  I’m just glad we’ll have grass period.

ImageGrow baby, grow.

Next step — flowers, shrubs, and shutters and project front yard completed.  I get giddy thinking about it.

Ugh, and then there is the garden.  It’s been a learning season, let’s just say that.  Lesson 1 — don’t try and beat Mother Nature.  Don’t plant too early, and don’t plant too late.

Here’s our corn — planted too early.

ImageSee how sad it looks.  I don’t think we’ll be having any corn of the cob this season.  Oh well, the chickens have been enjoying the stalks that have completely fallen over.  Boo.

The rest of the garden is doing okay, but progressing slowly.  We planted a few weeks later than we had intended, and while things are growing, I’m not sure how much they will actually produce.



We’ll have to wait and see.  I’m glad that we’re learning how to do this now when there are still grocery stores around with food.  I’m not sure that will always be the case.

The animals are all doing well.  The baby bunnies get bigger every day.  They are so dang cute.


They’re even eating regular food now.  I know Joy is glad about that.

Speaking of babies, we had some new ones move in.


Oh man, baby chicks are so fun even if they are noisy.  I don’t know how people can name them.  I can’t tell them apart (within their breeds that is — I’m not a complete idiot).  Anyway, I decided to give each breed a name.  All the chickens within that breed have the same name.  The Barred Rocks are all named Meg (Barred Rocks are from New England, Meg in honor of Little Women).  The Rhode Island Reds are all named Providence (self explanatory).  The Buff Orpingtons are all named Afton (just because — they reminded me of fall in Wyoming.  Afton is a small town in Wyoming).  The White Leghorns are all named Lizzie (another just because.  I like Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice).  Last but not least, the Cuckoo Marans are all named Marie (they’re French, so Marie Antoinette).   Tah-dah.

Oh, and here’s the big news — we finally started getting regular eggs this week.  Hurray.  We’re getting about two a day.  Nothing like the 7 we were getting before, but we’re happy.   At first the girls we’re having trouble figuring out where to lay, so we put ping pong balls in all the boxes to help them out.  I saw it on the web, and thought, this is stupid, but what the heck.  I’ll be darned, it worked.


Now if we can just get all of them laying we’ll be in business.

So there you have it — life at Blissful Homestead.

are you a little nutty?

I am in more ways than one, but in this case, I am talking about a nut lover — pecans, walnuts, macadamias, not so much peanuts, but everything else — yum.  Several years ago, one of my sisters introduced me to those super delicious cocoa-almonds.  Oh, talk about bliss, and then I learned all about sucralose.  Boo, so much for my love affair.  That is until a couple of weeks ago when I happened along this recipe from Stacy at  No sucralose and made in a crockpot.  That’s about as good as it gets I tell you.  She has a pretty detailed tutorial, but if you just want it straight, here you go.

ImageCocoa Almonds

2 cups almonds

2 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon stevia (or 1/3 cup sugar — I haven’t tried it with sugar, just fyi)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 to 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

dash or dashes of salt (depending on your preference)

Combine almonds, stevia, vanilla, cocoa, and salt in a crock pot.  Mix well.  Slice the butter up and place on top of the nuts.  Turn the crock pot onto high, put the lid on, and walk away.  In an hour, stir.  Walk away for another 30 minutes.  Stir one more time and then place nuts on wax paper to cool. 

All done.  Super easy and good.  Even Thomas loves them, and he wants nothing to do with almonds.

I will give you a little heads up.  If you’re not used to stevia, you’ll be able to taste it.  It’s sweet, but not quite like sugar.  After I ate like three cups, I couldn’t even tell it was there.  Just kidding, I only ate about a cup.  Seriously, they’re that good.  Hope you enjoy.

our week — 7 october 2013

I love October — crisp mornings, beautiful blue skies.  Here is Arizona, it’s also fall garden time, and we’ve got things coming up all over.


Our second crop of corn has popped up.

ImageThe zucchini is off to a great start.

ImageGive this a couple of months and it will be a beautiful green salad.

ImageI’m not sure what this is, but I don’t think it’s a weed.  I’m going to let it grow for a little bit longer to see if I can figure it out.  I’m open for suggestions if anyone has one.

It’s been a great week for the animals as well.  Joy’s babies are HUGE, and when I went out this morning, they had finally opened their eyes and have started exploring their basement home.

ImageWe sold eight of our chickens this week.  I love it that they are going to some really nice families.  I feel like we have been super blessed to have these chickens and am thankful we can pass those blessings along.

We kept most of the younger ones for ourselves.  We’re hoping they’ll start to pay rent soon.  We’re close that’s for sure.  Greg found this little starter egg on Saturday.  I used a ping pong ball just to give you an idea of how big it is.  I would have used a standard egg, but Greg ate the last of them for breakfast this morning.  I’ve gotten totally spoiled not having to add eggs to the grocery list.

ImageIsn’t it cute?

We are finally wrapping up our front yard project.  On Saturday, we dug out the last of the grass and tilled the soon to be alfalfa field for the last time.  This morning we dug a trench for the edging we’re putting in to separate the grass from the alfalfa.  We’re so close.  I’m not sure who will be happier when it’s done — us or our neighbors.

ImageOn the home front, we enjoyed our last day of school before fall break.  We celebrated by visiting the Arizona Natural History Museum’s Night of Star Gazing.  Thomas and Muf were in heaven.  Not only were they able to look through several telescopes, but they also faced their fears and walked through the Arizona Territory Jail.  I have to admit, it was a little creepy.

When the guides asked how his evening went, Thomas replied, “tremendous.”  Yeah, he’s five going on sixty.

Speaking of Thomas, he also took his first solo bike ride on the street.  He’s pretty proud of himself and rightly so.

Nice good week, I must say.



cookie time

We’ve gone more than a whole week without temperatures topping 100 degrees, so I felt pretty safe in turning on the oven.  Number one on my list of things to make were these gingerbread cookies I spied on Christmas Your Way.  They are so soft and yummy.  The secret ingredient — cream cheese.  Never would have thought of that.  I followed the recipe exactly, with the exception of substituting freshly ground whole wheat flour for the white flour.  No one around here seemed to mind the healthy revision.  They were a huge hit.

ImageSoft Gingerbread Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup brown or coconut sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

3 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine butter, sugar, and cream cheese.  Mix until smooth and creamy — I let my kitchen aid do it’s thing for about 3-4 minutes.  Add the molasses, egg and water and mix until combined.

In another bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.

Mix the wet and dry ingredients together.

Shape into two inch balls and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  I just used a 1 1/2 inch cookie scoop and and just filled it really well. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes.  (This is what the original recipe called for.  My oven is really hot, so I only baked them for about 8 minutes).  After taking them out, let them rest on the pan for a minute or two before moving them to a cooling rack. 

This batch made just shy of three dozen cookies.  Had I really wiped the bowl clean and not snuck a few tastes, I probably would have gotten a full three dozen. 

As I was typing, I thought I had better double check and make sure these were good as I remembered them, so I ate one.   (I tell you, the sacrifices I make for this blog.)  I have to say, they are even better today than they were yesterday when I made them.