Chicken Pizza   

Pizza crust

14 inch purchased pizza crust dough or round


Pizza sauce

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup sour cream

1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch powder mix

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 garlic clove crushed

1 tsp Tabasco


In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients until there are no clumps. Refrigerate until ready to use. Can be made 1 day ahead.



2 cups roasted chicken, shredded

3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning

2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

½ cup red onion, diced

8 basil leaves, chopped

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cups shredded cheese blend (suggested: mozzarella, asiago, pecorino, fotina)


Toss chicken and Cajun seasoning together in a small bowl. In a separate bowl combine tomatoes, onion, basil and vinegar.



Heat oven to 450. Place crust on baking sheet and prebake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Top with sauce, cheese, seasoned chicken and marinated tomatoes. Bake until crisp and cheese is melted and bubbling. About 10 minutes.




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Branching Out with Faith Appelquist



Questions, suggestions or comments are welcome.

Contact Faith at (612) 618-5244 or by email 


Homemade Deer and Rabbit Repellent 


Deer should be discouraged immediately when they first appear.  Young trees and shrubs can suffer permanent damage from deer browsing.  Deer damage is usually identified by the torn or jagged appearance of branches or twigs compared to the clean-cut feeding damage caused by rabbits and squirrels.

How, exactly, do you discourage deer?  One natural organic option is homemade repellents:

  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon powdered cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 gallon water

Mix all above ingredients well. Dilute 1 part of the above mixture with 4 parts water. Apply with a sprinkling can 2 or 3 times a season, especially to new growth. It works for bunnies too.


For more information on saving your gardens from deer and rabbits

(Photo credit:
Stephanie Town)

Oh, those darling little "Bambi's". I quickly get over the "Bambi Syndrome" when I see the deer eating the flowers and shrubs I have nurtured, and spent so much money to buy.

(Photo credit: Stephanie Town)

Without some quick action, this garden will soon become a buffet for this hungry deer. A mature deer consumes from 6 to 10 pounds of food daily.
Save It or Chop It?


It is very common for people to be afraid of trees simply because they are large. Even the most majestic tree can feel like a ticking time bomb to a homeowner waiting for it to topple. All trees have the potential to cause injury, damage, or to disrupt our daily lives. Does this mean we give our trees a pre-emptive whack just because we are in no mood to take chances?


People are all over the map in what they consider safe or not. The perception of risk varies considerably. Avoidance may seem the answer to all risks, but avoiding risks may also mean losing out on the potential gain that accepting (retaining) the risk may have allowed. Not entering into a business to avoid the risk of loss also avoids the possibility of earning profit. On the other hand, the owner of trees does have a legal duty of care to ensure that their trees are reasonably safe.


After many years of being confronted with this dilemma, the International Society of Arboriculture developed TRAQ, or Tree Risk Assessment Qualification.  The amount of research on tree structure, heath, and biology has grown in leaps and bounds over the last decade. The tree risk assessor must attend classroom training and pass an exam in order to be qualified. Using this method, the "tree risk assessor" employs a systemic process to identify, analyze, and evaluate tree risk.


Using the TRAQ system, the tree owner is referred to as the "tree manager" and the arborist is the "tree risk assessor." The risk level, whether it be low, moderate, high, or extreme, is then communicated to the tree manager along with options for mitigation. The tree manager must decide what level of risk he/she is comfortable with. The final decision belongs to the tree manager. How we balance risk and benefits is really a management decision, not a tree assessment decision.


So what is the risk? Generally the risk is really, really low. In North America the death rate from being killed by trees is about the same as being struck by lightning, about 80-100 per year.


On the plus side, trees around a home can increase property value up to 15 percent, according to a 2009 Virginia Tech study. The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equal to 10 room-size air-conditioners operating 20 hours per day, according to the U.S. Forest Service. In addition, a single bur oak can support up to 523 species of caterpillars which feed many birds such as chickadees.


In risk management we are trying to balance risks and benefits. Hopefully the new TRAQ system gives us more tools to retain trees, to demonstrate their value, and to help us decide when the risk is worth the benefits.


To find a TRAQ qualified arborist, go to the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) website: and click the link to "Find an Arborist".


Extensive decay at the base of a boulevard tree may lead to root failure. People in cars, on the sidewalk and nearby structures could be possible targets.


A silver maple with extensive defects might be retained if all targets were removed, reducing the risk.    


Trees may have special significance because of their historic, aesthetic or wildlife value. A valuable leaning pine is mitigated with props to reduce risk, rather than removed.    

Thanks for reading. Happy Planting!    


Faith Appelquist

President & Founder


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