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Isanti, MN 55040

Phone: 763-444-8206



Guy's Chicken White Bean Chili Recipe

Usually I try to post my annual Guys Recipe around mid-November, obviously that didn't happen, but here it is--just in time for the New Year's party.

This is one of my favorite Guys soup recipes.  Almost everyone likes chili and you can get it in just about any restaurant during the winter months.  However, it's usually the hamburger & kidney bean type, which I like, but here is something even better.

Ditch the hamburger and kidney beans and use chicken and white beans.  The chicken is certainly better for you.  I don't know if there is much nutritional difference in the bean types.  However, the taste is completely different.

It's easy to make and great while watching the games over Christmas and New Year's or after coming in from any outdoor activity.

Simply start by having the Mrs. par boil a couple of pounds of chicken breasts and cut them up into small chunks.  Then you can take over from there.  Using a cast iron pot, if you have one, makes the chili look all the more impressive.  Otherwise, any large pot will do.

Cover the bottom (of the pot) with olive oil and toss in a large onion.  Chop it first--another good job to delegate.  Also toss in several chopped cloves of garlic.

When the onion starts to turn translucent (that means clear), throw in the chicken.  Let it brown for a couple of minutes, then start tossing in the small stuff:

   Some salt--a teaspoon or so.

   Some fennel seeds--like a tablespoon (I don't know what they add, but lots of chili recipes call for      them, so may as well.)

   Some cumin--a couple of tablespoons of the ground stuff.

   Some oregano--yay--a couple of tablespoons--can never go wrong with oregano.

A little rosemary wouldn't hurt either.

Oh, and some chili power--a couple of teaspoons--how could I forget!

Then dump in a couple cans of white beans (15 oz size--the big boys have cheated us out of an ounce).  Drain them first, but don't bother to rinse--that just dirties more dishes.

Next comes a quart (4 cups = 1 quart) of chicken stock

and 1 or 2 cups of frozen corn--thawed if you think of it ahead of time.

It probably looks a little watery at this point, but there are a couple of solutions.

First, you can go the flower or corn starch route (mix it with cold water first).

Second, (and this is what I do) add some instant potato flakes, a little at a time, until the viscosity looks about right.

If you want to make it look a bit more upscale, add some Swiss chard leaves.

Crank up the burner until it just gets to a near-boil and then back it off to simmer speed for a 30-40 minutes.  Better yet, lead off with a simmer setting just as the game starts and it will be perfecto at half-time.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve with nacho chips and Spilled Grain Brewhouse craft beer.  [Bet you would never guess that's my son's Brewhouse over in Annandale, MN.]  There's no need to wait for halftime with the beer!




Guy's Cranberry Wild Rice Pancakes

Every year about this time I add a guy's recipe for the upcoming big day.  This year it's back to breakfast--the most important meal of the day.  But that's one of three, not a lot of competition.  Anyway, it's pancake time!  Everybody's favorite--even the kids--although they may not like these until they're hungry enough--they'll really love them by mid-afternoon if you use the old "you're not getting anything else" routine. 

Cranberry Wild Rice Pancakes.  What could be more Minnesotan--and also more Wisconsinite.  They get along much better in pancakes than on a football field. 

You can always buy of box of pancake mix, but to get full credit and laurels you should make your own.   There are a zillion recipes on the internet and very cookbook has a couple but I often use one from a Greek yogurt container.  For a double batch just dump together:

3 cups vanilla yogurt
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking power
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk 

Combine the dry stuff
Mix up the wet stuff
Dump the dry into the wet 

This generally comes out like cement that is starting to set up so I add more milk until it's gooey, but not runny.

Remember the Guy Cooks eleventh commandment:  Do not use a recipe without making changes.  So add a smidgen of vanilla, maybe a titch of lemon juice, perhaps a dollop of sugar.  Let me know if you try rum or brandy;  I haven't gotten that far yet.  And somehow beer pancakes don't sound appealing. 

Now for the fun part.  Use fresh or thawed whole cranberries.  The secret is to put them in the microwave for uno momento.  Then check, if soft and just starting to burst open your ready, otherwise nuke a few seconds at a time until perfecto.   Drain any juice and dump them in. 

Most recipes say to add a 1/2 cup of blueberries, chocolate chips, or whatever.  At a minimum always double up on the goodies.  Add a cup or more of the cranberries and likewise the wild rice.  You need enough batter to hold everything together but the whole object is flavor, flavor, flavor.

Word of warning--cook the wild rice first! Easy to do the night before.  Then you have an excuse if things don't turn out right.  Just simmer a cup of wild rice in three cups of water for 40-50 minutes or until soft and splitting open.  Drain well and it's all set for the morning. 

Set the griddle to 350-400 and start spooning on the batter when the itty-bitty light goes off.  Don't make them too large and let them brown up before flipping.  These things are so loaded that if you try to flip them when they are girly golden you'll have a mess on the griddle.  Make sure you have a construction worker tan under them.  Serve with real maple syrup. 

You've now had a true Northwoods breakfast.  You're ready to fire up the chainsaw and cut and split some firewood.  These pancakes will fuel you for the whole day.  Except that you're now too stuffed and tired to go outside.  So park yourself on the couch, turn on the game, and sleep through the first half. 

The tag 'Guy's Recipe' will take you to my prior recipe posts. 

2014 Guy's Potatoes Extraordinaire
2013  Guy's Caramel Corn Recipe
2012  Guy's Chips Supreme Recipe
2011  Guy's Baked French Toast
2010  Guy's Bread Pudding
2009  Guy's Baked Apples


Guy's Potatoes Extraordinaire

Long term readers know that every year I put a 'Guy's Recipe' for the holidays on the blog.  I've convinced myself that everyone remembers and is anxiously waiting for this year's taste treat.


Guys--this is one of the easiest yet--lots of credit and little work, especially if you have your spouse pick up the ingredients.  BUT, unlike the earlier recipes that dealt with breakfast or game-time snacks, this one goes mainline and takes center stage on the dinner table.  So…expect some pushback from the spouse when you say "move over--I'm doing some cooking."


And now for the advanced planning part:  Set out a 30oz bag of shredded frozen potatoes to thaw for several hours or overnight before proceeding.


 The next day dump them into a tub, throw in a can each of good old cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup (don’t add any water), also dump in a couple of cups of sour cream and most of a 16oz bag of shredded cheddar cheese.


You could also sprinkle in some white pepper and powered garlic and onion, but be brave and use some real onions--I'm partial to scallions--plus some red or green pepper for appearance sake (remember the mantra of the TV cooking shows: 'presentation is everything'. 


If you're courageous (that means more than brave) fry some bacon  and break it up into small pieces or get out some of that venison sausage that’s been in the freezer since last year.  Toss whichever into the heap.


Mix everything into a big glob and dump into a lubed baking dish.  Flatten it out and then sprinkle on the remaining shredded cheese.  It's ok to ice it until ready to bake or stroke up the fire to about 350 degrees and bake for 40-50 minutes.  Let the top get bubbly and cheese start to brown (remember: presentation).


Serve to the sound of accolades.  Dig in!


Also scroll down the blog posts to try out some my previous 'Guy's Recipes'.

2013  Guy's Caramel Corn Recipe

2012  Guy's Chips Supreme Recipe

2011  Guy's Baked French Toast

2010  Guy's Bread Pudding

2009  Guy's Baked Apples


Buckthorn Is Easy To Find In November

Now is the time to be checking for buckthorn in any brushy or woody areas you might have.  Note in the first photo how it stands out like a sore thumb this time of year.  It will hold its green leaves until around Thanksgiving.  Cut it out (good) or grub it out (better).  Either way be prepared to treat the popups next spring with Roundup.  At the farm we like to wait until we get a nice fresh leaf set so we have plenty of surface area to spray.Buckthorn Plant


Also shown is a close-up of the leaves--note they are mostly oval with a ragged edge and deep veins.  Ever wonder why you don’t see any thorns growing along the sides of the stem like most thorny plants?  That's because buckthorn has a single thorn at the very tip of each branch.  You normally don't
notice it but it's there and its sharp!.  See third photo.

Buckthorn LeavesBuckTHORN


Tree Planting Technique

This is a four year old Fraser Fir transplant in it's new home for the next 10 years or so.  Note the 'belt and suspenders' approach we use when planting--first, we lay down drip tape for irrigation, second, we mulch around the base.  Every tree we plant gets this treatment; anything less is a death sentence when July and August turn hot and dry.  So far, other then test for leaks, we haven't had to do any watering yet this year..


Winter Burn in Conifers

Over the Arbor Day weekend several people who stopped by to pick up a free potted transplant commented on the amount of winter burn on the trees this year.  So I decided it would make a good blog topic.  Let's address three questions:

What causes it?

What can I do about it (now)?

How can I prevent it (next time)?


What to do?  Nothing!  Absolutely nothing--until early June.  You need to know if it is just the needles that are dead or if the buds are also dead.  If it is just the needles, the tree or plant will be ok, maybe look a little sparse for a year, but will grow out of it.  If you trim the dead off now you may be also trimming off live buds.  If by early June the buds have not started to grow you know you have a dead branch to prune off,  or, in extreme cases, a dead tree.


Winter BurnThis photo shows some of the winter burn in the Colorado Blue Spruce.  I'm guessing 90% or more of these trees will come out of it, that is, the buds are still alive.  However, they may need a couple of years to fill in sufficiently to make a Christmas tree.


What causes winter burn?  A combination of prolonged cold, persistently strong winds, lots of snow cover, and clear sunny, but cold, days.  Sound like our past winter?  These factors dry out the needles, causing them to discolor.  Some, if only slightly discolored,  may survive and green up again, but most have died.  If you see winter burn on the north side of the plant you know that the wind was the major culprit; more often the most severe damage is on the south side and the sun was the major culprit.  When combined with the heavy snow cover we had this year, the sun, reflecting off the snow, can slightly warm the needles, which of course freeze again at night.  This sequence, repeated many times over the winter season, eventually damages the needles. 


It's rather common to see on a single plant:  needles that are slightly discolored and will green back up, needles that are totally brown and most likely dead but the buds are fine and will soon cover up the loss, and some buds that also died and the branch or part of the branch will have to be cut out.  Loosing the entire bush or tree is the exception, however, if you have lost an entire side you may wind up replacing it anyway.  The tree on the left will fully reccover, the one on the right may not make it.

Winter Burn Winter Kill

What can you do to prevent winter burn?  The easiest thing to do is continue to water your evergreens up until the ground freezes.  This may not prevent winter burn but at least it gives the plant more of a fighting chance to avoid it.  However, the only way to totally prevent winter burn is to wrap the entire plant loosely with burlap.  Burlap is generally superior to almost anything else, although old light-weight blankets also work.  The important thing is to use something that is porous,  the needles breathe even in  winter and  tarps or plastic  (or wrapping that is too tight) inhibits the breathing.


Winter BurnSome people who had planted our Arbor Day transplants over the last couple of years commented on the fact that the part above the snow line appears to be dead, but the part below the snow line is green and healthy. 

Again, wait until you are absolutely certain the top is dead.  Then if it is, cut the dead side branches out, leaving the stem.  Take one of the live branches and pull it up and tie it to the stem.  This will give you a new leader.  The tree already has an established root system, so it's better to work with it than pull it and start over again.  You may have to retighten the tie to the stem every  few days to help pull the new leader in close.



Guy's Caramel Corn Recipe

Each year, this is year number five,  I put a Guy's recipe on the blog .  Something a guy can make to--pick one--a) help out his better half , or b) win kudos from family and buddies and boost his ego, c) just stuff himself. 


My pick of the year for 2013 is Caramel Corn.  This one is not as original as some in the past, but it is always a winner.  Tip--make lots, serve before dinner (with plenty of beer) and you won't have to buy  and prepare a turkey.  Everyone will be way too full to even miss it.  That will really help out the misses.


You have to plan ahead for this.  Two or three weeks before the big day you have to start answering "paper" to the "paper or plastic" question at the grocery store checkout.  I normally answer "you too"  because I can't hear very well and simply assume they are saying "have a good day."


This Carmel corn is to die for.  And you might.  It must have a Glycemic Index rank of 137. 


Lets get started with the raw materials list.  You will need:

The paper bags--several of them.


Popcorn--not the microwave type!  Don't be lazy, get out the popper!  I prefer an air popper.

White Karo Syrup--Translation:  High Fructose Corn Syrup.   Hey, it's in everything else that’s bad for you but good for your taste buds so why should this be any different!

Brown Sugar 

Butter--the real thing, margarine is not allowed!

Baking Soda--I still haven't figured what good this does, but it works, so I have never skipped it.

Pecans &/or Almonds--optional, but in my case, mandatory


Step 1--I'll spell it out for you nice and simple in case you have already started on the beer.

  • Pop the popcorn
  • Load up the paper bags with 12 cups of popcorn.  You could cut back on the popcorn to make it even gooey- er, but I don't recommend that.  Why?  Because I already have!
  • Repeat as necessary--I have never made less the three bags worth.  Trust me, this is "bet you can't eat just one handful" stuff.


Step 2--for each bag (bold, underlined, and italics to get the point across).

  • Place a stick of butter, a cup of brown sugar, and 1/4 cup of white Karo Syrup into a glass container.
  • Microwave 3-4 minutes, but watch it closely.
  • When it starts to boil, stop the microwave, remove and stir (also stir in the nuts), then microwave for 2 additional  minutes.
  • Add 1/2 tsp. of baking soda and stir again, but no more zapping.


Step 3--ask for assistance from someone who is willing to be left holding the bag.

  • Now with someone holding the bag open, dump in the mixture.
  • Have a spatula ready to clean out the bowl--but work fast!
  • Close (did I need to say this) and shake the bag in all directions.


Step 4--Empty the bag onto a cookie sheet.

  • Allow to cool for a couple of minutes
  • Then break up into smaller hunks so someone can't take half the bowl at one time.
  • It's ready to have at it, but you're not done, you have to repeat steps 2 through 4 for each bag.
  • Use the above spatula to whack any hands attempting to steal some of your creation before you're done.


Step 5--Invite me over.  Give me a large bowlful, pop me a beer, maybe two or three, and I'll settle back in a corner and watch the game.  You'll hardly know I'm there.


Guy's Chips Supreme Recipe

As promised, this year’s Guy's Recipe for 2012 bypasses breakfast and dessert and goes straight to halftime.  Get this ready before the game and shove it into the oven a few minutes before halftime (not responsible for overcooking due to excessive time-outs).

Spray a cookie sheet then layer it with  Nachos, Doritos, corn chips or whatever your preference—even crackers such as Wheat Thins or Triscuits will work .  Just make sure to cover all the open spaces so the toppings are on the chips, not the pan.

Now you want to load it up with toppings.  I use any or all of the following.

·         Pre-cooked bacon (for best favor),  or ham, sausage, pepperoni…

·         Broccoli (cut into small bit size pieces).

·         Cauliflower  (likewise)

·         Tomato (ditto)

·         Green pepper, scallions, olives, mushrooms…

[The Broccoli and cauliflower allow you to pretend it’s good for you.]  If you have a Packers fan in the group make one with anchovies and jalapeno peppers.

Now pretty much cover it with shredded cheese until it’s hard to see what’s underneath.  Then drizzle (not pour or soak) Ranch Dressing over it.  Tip—have the Ranch at room temp or even nuke it for 15-20 sec or it will come out in gobs.

Now you’re ready to shove it in the oven (preheated to 350) or under the broiler—if you go the broiler route remember to key your eye on it, not the cheerleaders.  It’s ready when the cheese is nice and bubbly (just like a pizza, which it sort of is)

The biggest risk is that you didn’t make enough and you miss the third quarter because you have been sent back to the kitchen to make another batch.

As always, goes best with a good micro-beer.Chips Supreme

Next year’s guy’s recipe—right now I don’t have a clue

Also check out the recipes from the last three years—just page down to them.

                Guy’s Baked French Toast (2011)

                Guy’s Bread Pudding (2010)

                Guy’s Baked Apples (2009)


Decorating Your Christmas Tree

We are not interior designers, but we have had many discussions with our customers about decorating their trees, often on weekdays when we are not as busy and have the time to chat a bit.  So we wish to share some ideas with you.

Decorating starts with using a stand that will hold the tree nice and straight and also supplies the tree with all the water it needs.  The stands we sell have a 2 ½ gallon capacity, which is generally enough even if you happen to forget to water it for a day.  A great idea is to associate watering with a “trigger” event such making coffee in the morning or starting the dishwasher in the evening.)

Surprisingly enough one of the hardest trees to decorate is the “perfect” tree.  Trees come in all sizes and shapes.  Just as you like interesting people, you want your tree to be interesting as well.   Thus, trees with wild branches and holes may present more opportunities for doing something memorable.

Next come the lights--lots of lights.  At the farm we are gradually replacing all our lights with the much lower energy consuming LED lights.  But no matter which type of lights you are using, the commonly accepted rule of thumb used by interior designers is 100 lights per foot of tree.  That’s 800 lights on a 7-8 foot tree!  Based upon discussions at the farm I would say that most people use about 300 on a 7-8 foot tree—less than half of what an interior designer would use.

Everything is personal preference.    Some, for example, prefer a theme tree and there is no end to potential themes—all white, gold, or purple ribbons, sports memorabilia, children made ornaments, Victorian ornaments, birds, dogs, cats, photos, Christmas cards, only lights, tinsel…

However, we normally go for a family tree—one that’s full of the kids and grandkids home or school made photos and ornaments, plus various special meaning ornaments picked up over the years.  Perhaps the theme in this case is “more is better”.

Back to that less than perfect tree.   Here’s where you can let your creatively shine!  Every tree almost needs a hole or two for rag dolls or teddy bears.  Wild branches often allow you to use some heavier ornaments that you might not normally use.  A couple of years ago we had a tall, but very open wild tree.  It was so open that we ran the lights along the trunk and then wrapped them in place with ribbon instead of using them on the branches.  After we loaded it up with tinsel it seemed to almost glow from inside.

Finally, remember to decorate your tree twice--once for your home, and then, after Christmas, for the feathery and furry creatures outside.  Place it in a snow bank and have the kids decorate it with popcorn strings, carrots, peanut butter pine cones…  Use your cookie cutters to make ornaments out of a slice of bread.  Everyone will enjoy the window show all winter long.

We hope this was helpful.  Be sure to share a photo of your decorated tree on our Facebook page atwww.facebook/pinesteadtreefarms.com or email it to us at reachus@pinesteadchristmastrees.com.

The Hartley family


Arbor Day Weekend

Up to this year we had never done anything special for Arbor Day.  Arbor Day is "plant a tree" day--a nice complement to Earth Day, which occurs a few days earlier.  As we do every year, we are planting trees here at the farm, however, we have never provided our Christmas Tree customers an opportunity to plant a tree of their own.  Everyone who purchased a tree last Christmas received a "Cut one, plant one" certificate for a free tree on Arbor Day weekend.

Shown are some of the potted Blue Spruce, Fraser Fir, and Balsam Fir three and four year old transplants we gave away this Arbor Day weekend.  We had a great response and are already looking forward to our "2nd annual Arbor Day Free Tree Weekend."