Branding season has begun in our part of the woods! So I thought I would share some of our favorite recipes that we used this year. I typically make the majority of our branding recipes during the winter months when we are calving, and freeze them, because nobody wants to waste time in a kitchen when the sun is shining I the summer!
Because our new place isn't finished (or even close!) my in-laws have so graciously allowed us to use their facilities to calve, and share their branding. Our herd is still growing so it works out just great to be able to pair with them to get all of our calves branded at once. And I think our neighbors and friends enjoy it, because although brandings are super fun, after the 10th or 11th one, you just want your weekends and evenings back!
What's on our menu
This is the ladies' job. When it comes to branding supper my hubs thinks we need to spend a fortune, have 5 courses and serve only desserts that need to be individually served with ice cream- YEAH RIGHT!!! So my mother-in-law and I sat down to hash out the details. We expect about 45 people at our branding (mostly family members) so we need things to be affordable, delicious and most of all, EASY!
I have linked some of the recipes we used this year, but here is our full menu:
Crockpot Cabbage Rolls
1- 1.5 lbs of bacon
3/4 of a pepper (red, yellow or orange), cut into small pieces
2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of brown sugar (depending on taste)
1 tsp paprika
pepper to taste
2 LARGE (2L each or 4 each of the regular sized cans) cans of tomato sauce or maple flavoured beans (NOT molasses flavoured or kidney beans)
2. In a large pot or pan, combine bacon, peppers, dry mustard, sugar, paprika and pepper. Let simmer to combine the ingredients. Taste the mixture. At this point it should have a bit of a bite to it. Adjust ingredients as necessary for your preference. You may want to add more paprika.
3. Add the beans to the pot or combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Let cook until all ingredients are hot.
I usually cook bacon a couple days ahead of time, chop it up and throw it in the fridge. On branding morning I quickly simmer the bacon, peppers, onions and spices. I then throw that in the crockpot with the beans and leave it on low all day until it's time serve.
I made a single batch for 45 people at our branding. There wasn't a lick left! I would suggest making a double batch for over 35-40 people. It will keep in the fridge or can be frozen to eat later.
2lbs frozen hashbrowns **
1 cup diced onions
2 cans mushroom soup
500mL (large carton) sour cream
1/2 cup margarine
2 + 1 cups shredded cheddar cheese
salt & pepper to taste
**I tried to use diced potatoes from my garden. It DID NOT work! I think maybe if you fried them first, but that's too much work for this gal. Just cheap out and buy the $2.00 bags!
Literally just mix this all together in one GIANT bowl. Add 2 cups of cheese into the mixture and save the remaining cup to sprinkle on top.
Grease a large tin pan (because nobody wants to clean pans after branding!) and spread the mixture into the pan. Top with extra cheese. Put a layer of foil on top.
Cook at 350F for about an hour. Test with a fork to make sure it is hot all the way through.
*I triple the recipe to feed about 65 people at branding. I also make extra and freeze in individual tin containers for Clay and I to just pop in the oven when we're feeling lazy!
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24 tart shells (or you can make your own using this recipe)
2 cups pureed pumpkin
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well.
3. Use a ladle to scoop the mixture (it will be very runny) into each tart. Fill to the top.
4. Bake for about 24 minutes. Check often. You want golden brown crust edges. The middle should no longer jiggle (but a toothpick will not come out clean).
5. Cool and enjoy! Or freeze for use at a later time.
My favorite part about this recipe is how cheap it can be! All the apples are from our trees the year before. I core and cut all our crab apples in the fall, lay them on cookie sheets and freeze them (so they won't stick together). I then throw them in large freezer bags and voila! Pies are too easy!. You can also make all your own pastry (it's actually easy!) for a super cheap way to feed guests.
2. Thaw frozen tart shells & apples (if necessary)
3. Cut apples, if necessary
4. In a bowl, mix flour, sugar and cinnamon together. Pour the mixture into a bowl with the apples. Mix until all apples are evenly coated.
5. Sprinkle lemon juice on top of apples (I only do this if using really sweet apples. I don't use the lemon juice when I am using crab apples from my backyard.)
6. Fill each pie shell, only to the top.
7. Put upside-down tart shell or pre-cut homemade pie shells on the top of the tart. Squish edges of the tart to keep from boiling over.
8. Brush each tart pie with milk. Slice a hole in the top of each tart.
9. Sprinkle sugar on top of the tarts.
10. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. Watch carefully. You want the tart to be golden brown when done.
**I like to put all my tarts on tin foil on top of the baking sheet. Inevitably, some tarts will boil over and it is really difficult to get the baked on goo off!
11. Let cool. Enjoy or freeze for later!
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