Saturday, March 21, 2015

Guarantee smiles with Ultra-Tender Teriyaki Chicken

I have one kid who wants to eat only pasta and potatoes, one kid who wants to eat only meat, one kid who eats everything, and a hard-working husband who just wants something to eat. Finding meals that please everyone, while still meeting my nutrition goals, can be challenging.

So when I find those meals that make everyone smile, it’s kind of like winning the lottery – and sometimes the odds really do feel like one in a million.

Ultra-Tender Teriyaki Chicken, paired with brown rice and oven-roasted teriyaki vegetables, is one of those winning meals. The first time I made it, there wasn’t a single piece of chicken left to save for tomorrow’s lunch.

I have to say, though, that when I found the recipe that inspired my Ultra-Tender Teriyaki Chicken, I was a little intimidated by the two-step cooking process. But then I thought, I can do this, it’s not that hard. And I was right. This cooking method is really pretty simple and the results are phenomenal. Ultra-Tender Teriyaki Chicken is so tender and so full of flavor; I seriously believe it’s the best chicken you’ll ever eat.

To me, that’s what Land O’Lakes’ Kitchen Conversations are all about – inspiring confidence in the kitchen. I can definitely say that participating in Kitchen Conversations has made me a more confident and adventurous cook. I am simply thrilled to be participating again this year.

I’m also extremely proud that this first conversation is centered around Land O’Lakes’ Pin A Meal. Give A Meal. campaign. As a farmer-owner of the Land O’Lakes cooperative, I believe giving back to our local communities is incredibly important. Food insecurity is a problem many of us don’t think about, but, according to Feeding America, one in six Americans faces food insecurity. Nearly 16 million of those challenged by hunger are children.

You can help Land O’Lakes reach its goal of donating 3.5 million meals to hungry families in need of nourishment. By pinning my Ultra-Tender Teriyaki Chicken, or another recipe of your choice, you will contribute 10 meals to Feeding America. And to provide even more meals, simply pin additional recipes from Land O'Lakes. Use the hashtag #pinameal on Pinterest and other social media to help spread awareness and give hungry families hope. To learn more, visit

Just think of all the smiles that will come from those 3.5 million meals. I hope my recipe for Ultra-Tender Teriyaki Chicken puts smiles on the faces of those you cook for, too.

Ultra-Tender Teriyaki Chicken

Serves: 4-5 people
Ready to eat in: 45 minutes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes


3 pounds chicken thighs or drumsticks
3 cups water
½ of a large sweet yellow onion, sliced (or one small)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1-inch piece of gingerroot, peeled and sliced

¼ cup LAND O’LAKES butter (one half stick)
¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground ginger


In a large (8-quart) dutch oven or stock pot, combine chicken, water, onion, 2 tablespoons garlic and gingerroot. Bring water to a boil, cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, turning chicken over after 10 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, melt butter in a large (12-inch) pan over low heat. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon garlic, vinegar, pepper and ground ginger.

When chicken has cooked for 15 minutes, scoop out ½ cup of the onion-garlic broth, add to melted butter-soy sauce mixture in pan, and stir well. Then use a tongs or slotted spoon to transfer chicken pieces and onion slices to pan.

Place pan of chicken and sauce over medium-high heat, with lid propped on pan, and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn chicken pieces and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes more.

Serve with sauce.

Recipe inspired by the Asian-Style Braised Chicken Drumsticks from MJ and Hungryman.

*The Land O’Lakes Foundation will donate $1 to Feeding America® for every recipe pinned or repinned between March 2, 2015 and April 30, 2015. (Pin any Land O’Lakes recipe or submit any recipe pin at $1 helps provide 10 meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member food banks. Land O’Lakes guarantees a minimum of 3.5 million meals (monetary equivalent of $350,000).

I am a Land O'Lakes Cooperative member-owner. I received compensation from Land O'Lakes for this post. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Baby Calf Names of 2014

One of the best parts of dairy farming, at least for me, is naming all of the new babies that are born. Now, I don't name them all – it's oftentimes a joint effort between me, Glen, and the kids. The inspiration for each of the names can come from many places. I wrote a column a couple years ago about the process, so I won't go into detail here. But I will say that the one rule we normally follow is that the calf's name starts with the same letter as her mother's name; that way it's easier to remember down the road which cows belong to which cow families.

red and white roan heifer calf
Here are all of the names we picked for our baby calves in 2014, followed by the calf's mother's name. We broke tradition a couple times this year to name calves after some of the special guests who visited our farm this summer.

Zula – Zora
Harp – Heaven
Lia – Loa
Gael – Gem
Laila – Louie
Sparkle – Star
Downy – Dove
Honey – Hurricane
Wiggle – Wink
Lego – Lucy
Dana – Deryck
Umbrella – Ulla
Spring – Stormy
Nimble – Noelle

newborn black and white heifer calf in grass

Ree – Agape
Becky – Widget
Sommer – Ivy
Maria – Deluge
Brenda – Gigi
Julie – Jade
Bridget – Opal
Gloriana – Gala
Joanne – Holiday
Jessica – Lady
Jenny – Beauty
LaurĂ© – Shiver

Milking Shorthorn Holstein twin heifer calves
Darcie and Dallas

Darcie – Dixie
Dallas – Dixie
Paige – Penelope
Dotsy – Dignity
Suede – Silk
Goldie – Georgia
Zeppelin – Zoe
Willie – Wilma
Dabble – Dapple
Tipper – Tillie
Dyno – Dynamite

newborn Holstein heifer calf in pasture

Hosta – Happy
Betsy – Beth
Hailey – Heidi
Twinkle – Twilite
Wonder – Winter
Tornado – Tretta
Cheer – Cherub
Linzer – Luna
Hyacinth – Heather
Malihini – Mahalo

Jersey heifer calf

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

#MilkTruth: Thoughts on Milk

glass of milk

There were a lot of conversations about milk in the media yesterday. Those conversations will continue and they will continue to run the gamut from milk is the best food in the world to milk is the worst food in the world.

I happen to be in the camp that feels milk is one of the best foods in the world. I was lucky enough to inherit lactase persistence from my ancestors; as a result, I enjoy several servings of milk and dairy foods every day. I also happen to be a dairy farmer, who comes from a long line of dairy farming families, which, by nature, makes me biased towards the goodness of milk.

However, I understand that some people cannot consume dairy foods. Food allergies and food intolerances are real. My own sister poured orange juice over her corn flakes for the first several years of her life before she outgrew a dairy allergy.

Regardless of how I feel about milk, I support the consumption of whatever foods best meet an individual's or family’s needs. Stated another way, people should be free to make their own food choices. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who believe in converting others to their way of eating using whatever means possible. Thus, information about food has been tainted with opinion, emotion, and misconstrued science. And that has led to lots and lots of questions about the food we eat.

If you have questions about drinking milk, here are five things I think you should know:

• Milk is a nutrient powerhouse – and it’s not just for kids. Eight grams of high-quality protein per glass plus calcium, potassium, phosphorus, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, riboflavin, and niacin is one heck of a nutritional package.

• Milk contains a lot that’s good, without the “bad” that some people think (like excess calories and fat). Whole milk is less than 4% fat and contains only 150 calories per eight-ounce glass.

• Milk is simple – especially compared to non-dairy milk-like products that can have more than 10 ingredients. Regular milk has no added sugars, fillers, or flavorings.

• Milk provides high-quality protein (some non-dairy milk-like products may have just 1 gram of protein). The protein in milk is a complete protein and, gram for gram, one of the most affordable proteins.

• Milk is a real, wholesome and local product from family farms across the nation. My family and all of the dairy farm families I know take great pride in providing the best possible care for our animals, being stewards of our land and resources, and providing consumers with high-quality milk. That milk travels very few miles, relatively, from the time it leaves our farm to the time it reaches the grocery store.

If you’d like to read more, the new website – – includes links to a number of good articles about milk, authored by experts and writers from outside of the dairy industry, who aren't as biased towards milk's goodness as I am.

Holstein dairy cows

Along with believing milk is one of the best foods in the world, I take issue with plant-based beverages being marketed as dairy products.

Milk is known for it's purity, simplicity, and nutrient content. Commercially manufactured nut, seed, and grain milks are not pure or simple and they don't compare nutrient-wise to real milk. That doesn't mean I feel they shouldn't be produced; on the contrary, they are a great option for those who can't drink milk but want to enjoy a bowl of cereal or a latte. I just don't believe they belong in the dairy section of the grocery store.

The bottom line: If you think milk is one of the best foods in the world, keep on drinking. If you have questions about milk, please seek answers from a reputable source. If you happen to think milk is one of the worst foods in the world, let's respectfully agree to disagree.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dollop and Scoop – No. 3

This has been one of those weeks where I feel like I take one step forward and three steps back. I was trying to catch up after an event-filled weekend away from home. Then Monika came down with such a bad case of strep throat that she spent 24 hours vomiting. And then the kitten had to go to the vet. Maybe that's too many details, but I think you have an idea what the week's been like.

The wedding

at the wedding

The big event last weekend was Phil and Ashley's wedding. Since Glen was Phil's best man (Phil is Glen's younger brother) and Monika was one of the flower girls, we left for the wedding on Friday so that we could be there for rehearsal. The early arrival also gave the kids time to play in the hotel pool.

The wedding and reception were both beautiful. We all had a wonderful time. My only regret was not taking more time to get a nice family photo. We don't get dressed up all that often – heck, I can't even remember the last time I wore a real dress – so I was really hoping for a keepsake family portrait.

at the wedding

Unfortunately, we were in a bit of a hurry and taking photos with two cameras at the same time. So we ended up with half of us looking one way and half of us looking the other. And then there's always the challenge of getting everyone to hold still and actually smile.

We ended up with a couple of almost-keepsake portraits. And some super adorable candid photos.

Dan, Monika, and Daphne

Glen and I

Monika and Daphne dancing

Sunrise, sunset


We've had some absolutely stunning sunrises and sunsets this winter. I caught a glimpse of the sunset below while waiting in our entryway for the kids to finish getting their barn clothes on. I told the kids to come look and grabbed my phone to take a picture. Then I went and got my good camera. Neither camera (or maybe it's just the photographer) took a photo that did justice to the sunset's colors. So I tried, instead, to enjoy the beautiful sunset while it lasted.

I've reached the conclusion that breathtaking sunrises and sunsets like these, which seem to happen more when winter is at its most frigid, supply us with the rewards we need to continue our outdoor chores – or simply help us focus on something other than how blasted cold we are.


As I write this, though, we are enjoying unseasonably warm weather. (Thirty degrees in January is almost unheard of.) The kids can play outside without freezing their fingers and we've been able to clean out the heifer yard. We're even supposed to get some sunshine tomorrow! Maybe Old Man Winter feels bad about how he treated us last winter.

*     *     *     *     *

Thanks for reading this edition of Dollop and Scoop. I've got my fingers crossed that next week will at least feel a little more manageable. I hope your week goes well, too.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Christmas Cookie List – 2014

If I'm still bringing Christmas cookies and candy out to the barn for Glen, then it's not too late to share my Christmas cookie list, right? That's what I thought.

When I finished my holiday baking and treat making last year, I told myself that this year's list of treats should probably be a bit shorter. Well, that didn't work. Before I even started baking this year, I had a list of 17 different treats.

decorated cream cheese sugar cookies
Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

To be honest, my goals were probably a bit overzealous. At one point, I was commenting to a friend about feeling behind on my baking. "I might only get four treats made," I told her, with sad acceptance.

"Why don't you just make four treats and call it good?" she asked.

Christmas cookies and candies
From lower left to upper right:
Rolo Pretzel Turtles, Coconut Macaroons, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies,
Caramel Nut Logs, Peanut Butter Bonbons, Raspberries, Chocolate-Drizzled Spritz

I didn't have a good answer for my friend at the time.

But after I thought about it for awhile and talked to my sister, I realized that deciding to just make four of the cookies on my list would require something terrible: choosing. As in, choosing which of the 17 cookies on my list were most important or most favorite. That, my friends, would be like asking me to pick my favorite child. It simply couldn't (and shouldn't) be done.

fat cookies
Fat Cookies

Part of not being able to choose is that I was again bringing treats to my family's Christmas gatherings and I know that certain family members have certain favorite treats. It didn't help either that I asked my family for their special requests and wanted to honor those requests.

I ended up with 14 different treats – that is, if Christmas Jell-O  counts as a treat. The list is below, in alphabetical order, because ranking the recipes any other way would be impossible to do. *wink*

decorated chocolate-hazelnut cut-out cookies
Chocolate-Hazelnut Cut-out Cookies

Buttercream Almond Bonbons
I developed this recipe last fall after discovering real buttercream frosting.

Caramel Nut Logs
This was another new recipe for me this year. I used this recipe from Land O'Lakes and coated some of the rolls with salted pecans, some with salted peanuts. (The 2 cups of chopped nuts called for by the recipe wasn't enough.) I will definitely be making these again next year, but I'll use all peanuts – those tasted better. More like a Salted Nut Roll. I'll also be rolling the filling into smaller diameter logs, so that the finished candies are smaller.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Cut-out Cookies
These chocolate cookies from Bridget Edwards' book, Decorating Cookies, are as gorgeous as they are tasty. I tweaked the recipe a little for a couple reasons that I'll share in a future post. I made these and the Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies for the cookie decorating get-together we had with friends.

Christmas Jell-O
I'm not sure if this counts as a Christmas treat, but it sure is fun to eat. And it's nice to have a lighter option on the dessert table. I've used this recipe and tutorial for Layered Jell-O for awhile now, but this year I made the white layers with Greek yogurt instead of sweetened condensed milk. (Recipe coming soon.)

Coconut Macaroons
I suppose I could have just scrambled all the egg whites I had left over from making the spritz, sugar cookies, and buttercream bonbons. Instead, I made coconut macaroons and dipped them in chocolate. I combined a couple different recipes with fantastic results; I'll share the details in a future post.

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
These might be my most requested cookie. I make them with raspberry extract and then add raspberry extract to the icing, too. Raspberry + Cream Cheese = Scrumptious! I tried a new method for icing the cookies this year and am pleased as punch with the results. The kids and I made some mini cookies this year, too, and decorated them with just sprinkles.

Fat Cookies
Yes, they're really called fat cookies. These no-chill cut-outs are rolled out thicker than a regular sugar cookie and puff a little when baked. I got the recipe from my friend Marcia a couple years ago, but this is the first time I've made them. I think I'll be making them more often because they're super quick and easy to make. And super yummy!

Marcia's recipe says the cookies should be frosted with white butter frosting, but I wasn't sure which of the million butter and powdered sugar recipes out there to use. I found a recipe on the side of an extract bottle for white wedding frosting. I substituted salted butter for the shortening in the recipe and had the perfect frosting for these cookies.

Mini Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
The kids said that Santa's favorite cookies are chocolate chip, so I made my go-to chocolate chip cookies for Santa's cookie plate. I made them about half the size I normally do (using a #40 scoop, instead of a #20, and baking for 11-12 minutes)  so they'd fit better on a cookie tray, but they still ended up having a tray all to themselves.

Oatmeal-Brown Sugar Cut-out Cookies
A recipe for Chewy Oatmeal Decorating Cookies came up one day when I was searching the King Arthur Flour website and I was immediately intrigued. Even though the reviews following the recipe were mixed, I gave it a try. The resulting cookies were awful – Ozzy (our dog) wouldn't even eat them. I thought this recipe had potential, though, and I love a good culinary challenge, so I tweaked the recipe and made them again. Then I tweaked the recipe a few more times and ended up with a cookie so tasty that my sister-in-law said they might almost be better than my chocolate chip cookies. I need to make these one more time so I know for sure the recipe is a winner and then I'll share it.

Peanut Butter Bonbons
I have been making these for years – they're basically Buckeyes that I dip completely in chocolate. But, every year, I fiddle with the recipe or the technique for one reason or another. This year's version was as close to perfection as I've got yet.

Last year I tried making these fruity candies with shredded, unsweetened coconut and had trouble forming them. This year, I had some sweetened, flaked coconut to use up, so I went back to that. The flaked coconut, which is what my grandmother used, works much better. I also ran out of white chocolate for making the leaf on top, so I used green icing. I'll go back to tinted white chocolate next year.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
I probably wouldn't make these if I didn't have kids who love unwrapping candies! Last year, I made these with a flourless peanut butter cookie dough. This year, I tried using the peanut butter and oatmeal dough (sans chocolate chips) from Kathy's Cookies. The oatmeal-peanut butter dough didn't work quite as well, so I'll go back to the flourless peanut butter cookie dough next year. Plus, then my gluten-free friends can enjoy these tasty treats. Oh, and I also used muffin tin liners this year, which was a huge time saver in removing the cookies from the muffin tins.

Rolo Pretzel Turtles
More candies for the kids to unwrap! Glen loves these treats and, minus the candy unwrapping, they are so quick to make. This year, I found round holiday pretzels at the grocery store in October (yes, October!!) and bought several bags. Last year, the round pretzels were all sold out by the time I was ready to start my holiday baking.

I made these for the first time last year, using the recipe from my parents' recipe box. But when we got to my dad's for Christmas, I found a different recipe with my grandma's notes on it inside the box that holds her old cookie press. I tried that recipe last spring. The cookies turned out even better than the ones I made last year. I made them again for Christmas, but I think I was a little short on the flour this time, because they spread more than I wanted them to. They still tasted great, though. At Glen's request, I also tried drizzling some of the spritz with chocolate this year; it was a nice addition to the traditional almond spritz flavor.

decorated oatmeal-brown sugar cut-out cookies
Oatmeal-Brown Sugar Cut-out Cookies

What Christmas cookies did you make this year? What are your favorite holiday treats? Could you pick just one favorite, if you had to?