Chicken Mushroom Fettuccine

Pg A5 - Recipes- Chicken Mushroom FettuccineIngredients

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
8-10 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast
1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup evaporated milk or half & half
2 oz. softened cream cheese
1 ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. (dry weight) hot cooked fettuccine
chopped parsley for garnish



1. Cook fettuccine according to package directions.
2. Cut chicken breast into thin strips or bite-sized pieces. Heat oil in medium skillet. Cook chicken pieces just until juices run clear. Remove chicken from pan.
3. Add mushrooms and garlic to skillet; cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms, stirring quickly. Stir in broth and milk/half & half. Reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes until mixture thickens, stirring constantly.
5. Add cheeses, salt, and pepper. Stir until cheeses are melted.
6. Return chicken to skillet; cook until chicken warms up, stirring as needed.
7. Divide fettuccine among 4 pasta bowls. Top with meat sauce. Garnish with parsley.

Dairy and Bacon Prices Down, Apples Too

Lower retail prices for several foods, including whole milk, cheddar cheese, bacon and apples resulted in a slight decrease in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Fall Harvest Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $54.14, down $.12 or less than 1 percent compared to a survey conducted a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, 10 decreased and six increased in average price.

Higher milk and pork production this year has contributed to the decrease in prices on some key foods.

“Energy prices, which affect everything in the marketbasket, have been quite a bit lower compared to a year ago. Processing, packaging, transportation and retail operations are all fairly energy-intensive,” said John Anderson, AFBF’s deputy chief economist. Lower energy prices account for much of the modest decrease in the marketbasket.

CS15_128 Fall Harvest Marketbasket SurveyThe following items showed retail price decreases from a year ago:

  • whole milk, down 17 percent to $3.14 per gallon
  • bacon, down 11 percent to $4.55 per pound
  • apples, down 7 percent $1.45 per pound
  • shredded cheddar, down 5 percent to $4.56 per pound
  • flour, down 4 percent to $2.37 per five-pound bag
  • bagged salad, down 4 percent to $2.46 per pound
  • vegetable oil, down 3 percent to $2.61 for a 32-ounce bottle
  • Russet potatoes, down 3 percent to $2.64 for a five-pound bag
  • white bread, down 1 percent to $1.69 for a 20-ounce loaf
  • chicken breast, down 1 percent to $3.42 per pound

These items showed modest retail price increases compared to a year ago:

  • eggs, up 56 percent to $3.04 per dozen
  • orange juice, up 7 percent to $3.43 per half-gallon
  • ground chuck, up 6 percent to $4.55 per pound
  • toasted oat cereal, up 3 percent to $3.09 for a nine-ounce box
  • sirloin tip roast, up 3 percent to $5.67 per pound
  • sliced deli ham, up 1 percent to $5.47 per pound

“As expected we saw higher egg prices because we lost so much production earlier this year due to the avian influenza situation in Iowa, Minnesota and some other Midwestern states,” Anderson said.

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: 1/2 gallon regular milk, $2.21; 1/2 gallon organic milk, $4.79; and one dozen “cage-free” eggs, $4.16.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.


“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 16 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Anderson said.

Using the “food at home and away from home” percentage across-the-board, the farmer’s share of this $54.14 marketbasket would be $8.66.

AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, began conducting informal quarterly marketbasket surveys of retail food price trends in 1989. The series includes a Spring Picnic survey, Summer Cookout survey, Fall Harvest survey and Thanksgiving survey.

According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world. A total of 69 shoppers in 24 states participated in the latest survey, conducted in September.

The Joys of September

Brett Pumpkin 082When it comes to Nebraska I love it when we get to September. From the cooler, crisper weather, to the shorter days and longer nights, to the promise of crops almost ready for harvest, September is a favorite time for me. September is also well known as the end of summer and the beginning of fall and while there are many other times of the year I enjoy, there is just something about September that grabs me every year.

Besides the reasons above, maybe it is because I can see the end of the year coming and I know that after all the hard work of the spring and summer our time is short until Mother Nature sends us another blast of Nebraska winter. September can be so much better than the heat of summer or the cold of winter, and in the Green Industry the return of September also brings with it being able to stop fighting the heat and being able to enjoy our work outside. Moreover, while fall isn’t truly with us until we reach September 23rd, there is so much we can do in our yards, gardens, and landscapes in September and on into the fall.

To me, and many of my fellow green industry professionals, fall is a great time for planting in our landscapes. While there are many who think the best time to plant in the landscape is in spring I actually prefer to install new plants in the late summer to early fall. The moderation of Mother Nature’s extremes offers us a wonderful time to plant, harvest, maintain and encourage our gardens and landscapes to even better levels. Mother Nature usually offers a bit of rain and nice lingering warmth to give our new plants a perfect chance to settle into place before winter blows into town. I also know how busy my schedule gets each spring. By planting in the fall, as soon as Mother Nature decides to warm up next spring my fall installed plants can “wake up” and begin growing before I even have time to think about planting.

Fall Color

And when talking about fall planting I always think we should mention a few plants that offer gorgeous fall color so our landscapes have interest all growing season long versus just spring and summer. For perennials consider the Sedums, Hardy Hibiscus, Goldenrod, and ornamental grasses. If you are looking for something more sizable consider varieties of Burning Bush, Althea (Rose of Sharon), Ninebark, Sumac, & Viburnum. And when it comes to trees I find the bright reds and oranges a wonderful choice versus the yellows of our many native tree varieties so consider Maple and Oak varieties.

Fall is also a wonderful time to experience beautiful color through the planting of fall blooming Mums and Asters. Whether you are changing out your summer annual beds or a few pots on the patio, to pockets of them mixed into your landscape beds, Mums and Asters are some of the most colorful plants in the landscape each fall. They are also able to withstand some cooler weather prolonging your enjoyment usually well through October or longer depending on Mother Nature. In most cases wait to transition your annual areas to Mums and Asters to when we start getting a bit cooler toward the middle to end of September. And don’t forget that with cooler weather you could plant another crop of pansies or other frost tolerant annuals.

And before we move on no discussion of fall planting would be complete without talking about spring flowering bulbs. Many feel spring is really here when we see the spring flowering bulbs poke their bright colorful blooms out of the ground at the start of spring. But to enjoy your own spring bulbs you need to install them this fall. Try to mix your colors and bulbs here and there through your landscape in areas that will receive southern or western sun for best results. Spring flowering bulb planting is almost fool proof and gives such a colorful return on a simple investment of your time.

Turf Grass Seeding

Finally, as you read this we are nearing the end of the best time to do turf grass seeding. We generally recommend mid August to mid September as the best time to seed but typically you should be fine as long as you seed before the end of September. Remember to properly prepare the areas, sow good quality seed, and utilize a covering material like peat moss, compost, or straw to keep the new seed moist through germination. Then once your young grass has germinated let it get a bit shaggy before mowing and try to get at least three or four mowings on the new grass before winter hits to help harden it off.

September and the return of the fall can be such an amazing time to enjoy in Nebraska. Whether it is enjoying the change in the weather, accomplishing some tasks around your landscape, or maybe being a spectator at a Husker game, September can be such a great time in Nebraska. It certainly is one of my favorites.

Andy Campbell is manager of Campbell’s Nurseries Landscape Department. A Lancaster County Farm Bureau Member, Campbell’s, a family owned Nebraska business since 1912, offers assistance for all your landscaping and gardening needs at either of their two Lincoln garden centers or through their landscape design office.

Omelet Bites

Pg A5 - Recipes- Omelete bitesIngredients

8 eggs
¼ cup milk
salt and pepper
¼ cup each of “add-ins” such as peppers, green onions, mushrooms, zucchini, your favorite breakfast meat
2 oz. shredded cheddar cheese



1. Preheat oven to 350º. Spray 12-cup muffin tin generously with cooking spray.
2. Crack eggs into large liquid measuring cup (one that has a pouring lip). Add milk, salt, and pepper and beat vigorously.
3. Divide “add-ins” among the 12 muffin cups.
4. Pour egg mixture over “add-ins”.
5. Sprinkle cheese over each omelet.
6. Bake for 20 minutes.
7. Run a knife around each cup to loosen the omelet. Serve immediately.
8. Omelets may be frozen for later use. Thaw in the microwave.


Healthier Times: Packing a Healthy Lunch

Pg A13 - Amber Pankonin PhotoIt’s back to school season and for many parents and caregivers that means back to packing lunches. It’s a very exciting time, but can also be a stressful time for parents and caregivers. How can you save time and pack a healthy lunch?

First, be sure to have the right tools on hand for packing a safe lunch. Purchasing an insulated lunch bag, ice packs, and containers with lids are important for keeping food tasting fresh and also safe.

The second step is making sure that you have planned ahead by completing a shopping list. It’s best to have a list when shopping so that you’re not tempted to fill the cart with items that might not be necessary.

When making that list, think about what a healthy lunch should consist of – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low fat dairy. Many fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas, and baby carrots are easily portable. And roasted deli meats paired with cheese slices and whole wheat crackers are always kid friendly.

Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Alfredo

A5 Recipes-Chicken alfredoIngredients
2 whole red peppers or equivalent canned roasted red peppers, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup milk
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 lb. medium shell pasta
2 cups shredded 6-cheese blend of Italian cheese, divided


1. If using fresh red peppers, roast in oven as follows: preheat oven to 500º, place red peppers on baking sheet, and bake 20-30 minutes or until peppers are charred. Remove from heat and cover with foil. Let rest 10 minutes. Uncover peppers, peel off skin, remove seeds and dice.
2. Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain.
3. Heat oil in oven-proof skillet. Saute chicken, onion, and garlic in oil until chicken is cooked. Remove skillet from heat.
4. In saucepan, whisk together broth and flour until all lumps are gone. Add milk and yogurt and whisk until smooth. Heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of shredded cheese. Stir until melted.
5. Add diced red peppers to sauce and puree with immersion blender or food processor until nearly smooth. There will be some small chunks of pepper remaining.
6. In skillet, combine chicken, sauce, and pasta. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top. Broil on high 3-5 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.


Yield: 8 Servings

Secret Documents, Questionable Actions Paint Ugly Picture of EPA

steve corn head shotGeorge Strait made a living putting out country hit singles. “Ace in the Hole” immediately comes to mind. You might remember the song for its message about having a little something up your sleeve to ensure things ultimately go your way. “You’ve got to have an ace in the hole,” sang Strait. “A little secret that nobody knows.”

While I don’t know if officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are George Strait fans, I do know they understand the idea of having a little something up their sleeve and know a thing or two about secrets. This became apparent a few weeks ago when documents came to light pointing out the joint Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and EPA “Waters of the U.S.” regulatory proposal was, in fact, virtually all EPA and very little Corps. Worse, the documents paint a picture of the EPA ignoring concerns the Corps had raised regarding the regulatory proposal to vastly expand EPA’s control over private property.

The documents came to light when Sen. Jim Inhofe, Chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, asked the Corps to provide information concerning the development of the “Waters” rule. The Corps provided the documents, but asked they be kept hidden from public view. Evidently they show that Corps staff had questions about the validity of EPA’s economic analysis and the rule’s unworkability due to lack of clarity concerning what “waters” were to be regulated. If those concerns sound familiar it’s because they are the same concerns echoed by virtually every opponent of the rule, Farm Bureau included.

And it doesn’t end there.

As I write this, a Dear Colleague letter is making its way through Congressional offices. The letter seeks to have EPA’s Office of Inspector General investigate all matters relevant to EPA’s efforts in generating support for the “Waters” rule. The effort stems from a recent New York Times article exposing EPA’s abuse of the public comment process by engaging in an unprecedented advocacy campaign intended to generate public support for the proposal. According to the Times, EPA engaged in a grassroots solicitation for public comments by partnering in social media campaigns with groups like the Sierra Club to intentionally drown out opposition and to help justify EPA’s actions.

EPA has consistently made claims it received over one million comments on the rule with 90 percent of them being supportive. However, according the Corps (EPA’s jilted partner) only 20,000 plus of those were considered unique, and of those, only 10 percent were considered substantive. The vast majority of comments appear to be mass mailings generated by EPA’s own lobbying efforts. Not only are EPA’s actions on this front potentially illegal, but reflect an abuse of the most democratic component of the federal rulemaking process designed to give a voice to those impacted.

The picture painted by EPA’s actions, while ugly, is clear. The EPA was determined to push this proposal through no matter what; keeping secrets and working to manipulate the public.

At Nebraska Farm Bureau we continue to work with our Congressional delegation and other partners to push back against this blatant overreach of power and disregard for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families. There is much at stake not only in how we respond to the rule, but in the way EPA has conducted its business in this matter. I do know one thing. If EPA believes we’ll go away quietly I’d point them to another George Strait song; one that involves selling ocean front property…in Arizona.

Until Next Month,

Steve Nelson

President, Nebraska Farm Bureau