Archive for the ‘Chicken Treats’ Category

Thanksgiving Treats

November 24, 2010

The kitchen’s getting steamy and overheated—the food marathon has begun. First up: Pumpkin-Toffee-Pecan Cookies. It’s a variation of a recipe from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, The Victory Garden Cookbook. I hadn’t planned to make cookies as we’re already having an over-abundance of desserts in the way of pies tomorrow, but I had an extra cup of pumpkin puree leftover so decided to put it to good use. I’m glad I did, yum!

These puffy cake-like cookies are very special with a strong hint of orange combined with toasted pecans and bits of crushed toffee. They’re almost like mini cakes with a large dollop of cream cheese frosting on the top. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. I just have to remember to put some aside for our Thanksgiving guests or we may just nibble them all away.

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Spiced Pumpkin Soup

November 15, 2008

This year I decided to cook my Halloween pumpkin rather than relegating it to the compost heap. I was particularly excited to share the pumpkin with the chicks and give them a little variety in their diet. They love leftovers and kitchen scraps—it’s one of the great reasons to keep chickens—they’re better than a garbage disposal.

Wielding my foot-long chef’s knife I hacked the pumpkin in two. Instead of cutting it up I decided to offer the girls a little excitement on this chilly gray day by letting them have the entire half pumpkin to peck at during the afternoon. I proudly carried it out to them and placed it on the ground with a flourish. They didn’t jump up and down with excitement as they often do. They acted like I had just offered them a Halloween trick in the form of a Trojan pumpkin. With suspicion they walked gingerly around it, being careful not to get too close. Apparently they’re well versed in Greek mythology. Being aware of the Trojans’ fate, they decided not to open their gift and risk attack. Hoping to entice them, I sprinkled their favorite cracked corn inside, but to no avail. Their attitude said “You can’t fool us with the attack pumpkin trick.” The poor pumpkin sat there all day without a single peck.

The Trojan Pumpkin

Would they would have been more interested if I had shared some of the Spiced Pumpkin Soup I made with the other half of the pumpkin? Probably. I think I’ve created little gourmet snobs out of my chicks. See the Italian Chicks blog.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup
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This rich creamy soup is made without cream! Rice is the secret ingredient that creates the smooth richness in this soup as it’s blended into a silky consistency. It’s delicately flavored with the Indian spices of garam masala and saffron. Garam masala is a spice blend fragrant with cinnamon, cloves, cumin and black pepper. It can be purchased in the spice aisle or the ethnic section of well-stocked supermarkets, Indian markets or you can create your own. The tastiest pumpkin to use is a sugar pumpkin, also called a pie pumpkin. They’re smaller than the large jack-o-lanterns. Butternut squash and other squash are tasty alternatives for the pumpkin.

1½ large onions, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
6 cups cubed pumpkin or butternut squash (1-inch)
1 (32 oz.) container lower-sodium chicken broth
1 sprig fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon garam masala or ground cinnamon combined with pinches of ground cloves and cumin
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of saffron threads, crushed
¼ cup basmati rice or white long grain rice
¼ cup plain yogurt (nonfat is fine)

Stir the onions and oil together in a large pot over medium heat until the onions are coated. Cover and cook 5 minutes to sweat the onions (the onions will glisten and be slightly softened). Uncover and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until the onions are golden brown, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring continually. Stir in the pumpkin.

Pour the chicken broth over the pumpkin and stir in the thyme, garam masala, salt, pepper and saffron. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rice and reduce the heat to medium-low or to the point where it maintains a gentle boil. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and cook for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin and the rice are tender, stirring now and then.

If you have a hand blender (also called an immersion blender), use the hand blender to blend the soup in the pot until smooth. Otherwise, cool the soup to lukewarm and blend it in batches. Fill the blender container half to three-quarters full and pulse until the soup is smooth.

Whisk together 1/4 cup of the blended soup with the yogurt. Stir half of the yogurt mixture back into the soup and reserve the remaining mixture for the garnish.

Serve the soup warm with a dollop of the yogurt mixture swirled in the center.

Serves 4 (1½ cup servings)

Italian Chicks

September 28, 2008

When chickens are molting it’s important to feed them well to keep up their energy. Protein is especially good for them. I don’t feed my chicks meat so I give them protein by way of cooked beans, sunflower seeds, oatmeal, cottage cheese, yogurt and cooked eggs.

My chicks eat a little too well sometimes. I feed them layer feed because it’s nutritionally balanced for laying hens. When I’m home the chicks have free-range of the garden, lawn and overgrown woods. On top of that, they often get leftovers from a day of cooking when I’m creating recipes for an article.

They love their treats, but I don’t think they realize how lucky they are. I kept track of their menu for a few days this week:

Saturday: Linguine with Tomatoes and Beans
Sunday: Scrambled Egg, Squishy Raspberries and Yogurt
Monday: Mascarpone Polenta
Tuesday: Leftover Bits of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Extra Ripe Tomatoes From the Farmer’s Market
Wednesday: A Cheese Plate of Leftover Fontina Cheese Accompanied by Apples and Pears

I’ll probably hear from my two sons that they didn’t eat this well growing up!

As you can see, it’s been Italian week at our house because I’m working on an article on Italian cooking. The chicks do a lot of running when they free-range or I’m afraid they’d start to gain a lot of weight. Not that they’d mind. I’m sure they’d bustle around like stereotypical Italian grandmothers, a little overweight but with a very happy smile on their face.

If you’re getting a little hungry reading about all this wonderful food, I’ve included a recipe for my favorite no-effort pasta dish.