Garden Veggie & Chicken w/ Gnocchi

Our gorgeous rainbow chard was calling my name today, while I was working in the garden.  Hmmm, what to make for dinner tonight?  I only had four chicken thighs in the refrigerator, but did not feel like running to the market.  Inspiration smacked me like finger flick to the cheek.  Oh wait… that was the grasshopper that smacked me in the face when I  was picking the last few small yellow summer squash.

Either way, I was smacked with something, and came up with an idea.  Plus, I would get to use some of those amazing Oven Dried Cherry Tomatoes that I made yesterday.  So here you have it:

Garden Veggies and Chicken with Gnocchi

1 small bunch of rainbow chard, stems and leaves separated and chopped.

1 small sweet onion, chopped

2 small yellow summer squash, quartered and sliced (you could totally use zucchini here too)

1 cup of Oven Dried Cherry Tomatoes (you can also use store bought sun dried tomatoes in oil… but I can’t promise it will be the same)

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tbs concentrated vegetable broth.

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This is the brand I use.  I love this stuff!

1/2 cup water

1 tsp Sweet Flora Dried Mushroom Blend (you could also use fresh mushrooms here)

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breast), cut into bite size pieces

1 package of prepared gnocchi

salt and pepper

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Saute onion and chard stems in a skillet for about 4-5 minutes, add the squash and cook about 4 more minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes, and season everything with salt and pepper.  Remove from the pan.

Saute the chicken in your choice of oil until almost done.  Sprinkle with chicken with salt, pepper and mushroom blend and cook until done. Stir in the cider vinegar, water and veggie broth.  Add the vegetable mix back to the pan, and toss to heat through.

Meanwhile, prepare gnocchi per package directions.  When they are done, toss with the veggies and chicken.

Enjoy, and relish the full tummy bliss that follows.

Let me know if you try it, and what you think. My family loved it, and devoured the whole thing.  This will be a new favorite for sure.

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Oven Dried Cherry Tomatoes

This summer gave us a plethora of cherry tomatoes.  We planted two each of three varieties. Regular red, a slightly larger oblong red, and sun gold (my favorite).

I added rabbit manure and epsom salt to our soil mixture before planting this year.  I’m convinced that this is part of our explosive growth.

We have had them in salads, as snacks, and I even made a delicious sun gold tomato sauce.  I’ll post that recipe soon.

There came a point where everyone was on tomato overload.  So what to do with these? 

 Oven Dried Cherry Tomatoes!

These are pretty easy, and ridiculously delicious.  I store them in jars, in olive oil, in the refrigerator.  They don’t last long.  Toss them with hot pasta,  or put in pasta salad.  Put them on a pizza, or snack on them with some fresh mozzarella. (That recipe is coming soon too.)

Preheat The oven to 225 F.  I use convection bake for mine, but you do it with just a regular setting.

Halve your tomatoes,  and toss with olive oil to coat.  This is when you can get creative.  Add salt and pepper, rosemary, basil, garlic… any flavors that you love.  Spread everything cut side up on parchment lined trays.  

Bake them for three to four hours, or until they are mostly dried.  Once cooled, put them in a mason jar(s), and cover with olive oil.  

I’ve never had them last more that two weeks.  Try it, let me know what you think.

Farm Chores

This past week has been a busy one at home.  We are preparing for fall and winter, which means getting the animal shelters up the task, building and repairing.  We are also preparing for hay deliveries, tending to baby animals and dealing with goat mating season.

The new chicken coop is almost done.  It is bigger than the original, and hopefully much more efficient for us and the birds.  We have planned the nesting box opening to be on the outside of the house, so that you can collect eggs without going inside the fence.  I have hosed off more than one child this summer, who has slipped in chicken poo while collecting eggs.

We also planned a new gravity feeder that can be accessed from outside the fence.  The new coop will be at the edge of the goat yard, and will give the chickens much more room to roam.  This should also allow them to pick off any bugs and such from the goat yard, keeping the goats happier too.

The mini horses have one new run in, with another being built before winter.  This should give them plenty of options.  I don’t lock them in a stall at night, because I feel like they deserve to be able to move about if they want.  They are funny, and often stand out in the rain, or go in during sunny days.  It’s their prerogative to be sure.

The goats are currently all together in the front for breeding.  I am thinking about castrating my buck in the spring.  He’s had his fun, and will hopefully make some beautiful babies, but I would much rather have my snuggly boy, than a stinky pee face buck.

We have had two successful rabbit breedings so far this summer, resulting in sevent kits from one momma, and eight from the other.  The babies are precious.  I have already sold four, and any remaining will head to freezer camp before winter.

With help from my future son in law, I built the new rabbitry, Hopper Heaven.  The rabbits all have larger cages, with wire bottoms for optimal health.  Their waste is deposited directly into worm bins, where the composting magic happens.

I added 3,500 composting worms, shredded paper that they love, and some veggie peels to get the action started.  We also add egg shells to the mix.  The worms do the work to the compost the waste and eliminate odor, and our garden will benefit next spring.

Our crazy little flock of Muscovy ducks have been an interesting experiment.  We have one male and three females.  This breed is well know to be excellent parents.  Mine, well, not so much.  So far they have killed every single duckling before it even finishes getting out of the shell.  And then one morning…

M, age 9, was checking for eggs and feeding the birds, when he saw the chickens chasing something.  It was a freshly hatched duckling.  It somehow evaded its cannibalistic parents, escaped into the chicken yard, and was running from my velociraptors.  Chickens, I meant chickens.

We now have a lone duck who is convinced that she is a human.  She loves to cuddle and snuggle under my chin, and follows me around the yard.  I’m not entirely sure what will happen with her.  She is too young to hang with the big ducks, but way too stinky to be a house duck.

As you can see, we have had lots of busy work here.  Next week…school!

Virginia Vacation 2017

Our big trip in the spring of this year, was to Williamsburg, VA.  We spent 8 days exploring Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement and Bush Gardens.


We used Air BNB for the first time ever.  Overall, it was a good experience.  The house was nice, with lots of room to stretch out.  We had couple of strange nights there, but they were pretty harmless.

The owner had told us that he was staying at his girlfriends while we were there.  He showed up the second night and, he said that he would be staying for the remainder of the week in the attached guest apartment.  The next night, we returned for our exploring to find a couple parked in the driveway, peering through the windows of our rental, with their hands up against the glass.  It was more than a little strange.

They were booked to stay in the apartment for the next 3 nights.  The property owner’s car was there, and his dogs were outside, but he wasn’t answering the door or their phone calls.  his dogs stayed outside, barking at our window, until 2am.  I messaged the owner and told him that my kids couldn’t sleep, and then the dogs stopped.

They following day, the other couple showed up again, and still no response to door knocks or phone calls.  This time, the dogs were inside, but his car was still there.  When we woke up int he morning, his car was gone.  We never talked to him during our stay.  It was freaky.

The kids absolutely loved Williamsburg and Jamestown.  They not only enjoyed the property, but also the activities.  They were able to help the brick maker to work clay with their bare feet.  It was mucky and muddy, the loved it.  Another big hit was the lumber area.  We learned about how lumber was milled in colonial times.  The reenactment was amazing.  So much work and pride put into everything that they did. The kids are determined to build a playhouse using colonial techniques.  We shall see how that goes.

I highly recommend purchasing the bounce pass.  We had the spring bounce pass.  It gives you access to both Colonial Williamsburg and Bush Gardens for 7 full days.  We were able to visit both parks on multiple days.  At $99 for adults, and $79 for children, it is very worth the money!

This is definitely a trip that I would take again when the kids are a little older, although maybe next time, we will stay somewhere else.