Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Comforting Carrot & Garlic Soup with Guest Chef Michelle Karl

 I am so happy to welcome back my friend and fellow Love Inspired Suspense author, Michelle Karl. You may remember Michelle from her previous fabulous recipe for Chia Pudding.

 This time, Michelle has a recipe for a delicious carrot and garlic soup. Just the thing for these lingering cold days.

I also want to tell you about Michelle's terrific new release - OUTSIDE THE LAW. I devoured it. My only regret about this post is that it is for something healthy like soup, and not the absolutely delicious baked goods that her heroine,Yasmine, creates in her bakery!

At the risk of being corny, a baker, a rookie FBI agent, some romance and some really scary bad guys, together whip up an awesome read!

 Welcome, Michelle.

 Comforting Carrot & Garlic Soup
Everyone is busy. You’re busy, I’m busy, we’re all running around flailing and wondering when things will stop getting so busy, but sometimes it’s hard to see an end in sight. And I don’t know about you, but when I hit a busy season, one of the first things to get shoved aside is meal prep and healthy eating.
Making healthy food takes so much time, not to mention needing to go out and shop for ingredients, too. Maybe you’re better at preparation than I am, but I don’t tend to keep a lot in my fridge because I hate food waste, so I try to only buy what I need to prepare meals. But if I’m not preparing meals, I have nothing in the fridge, and… well, it becomes a vicious cycle.
Enter: the soup I’m sharing today.
It’s fast, it’s incredibly cheap, it’s ridiculously flavorful, it takes only a few ingredients, and—this is my favorite part—the main ingredients are the kinds of items that we all tend to have in our fridge and pantry, even when there’s “nothing” there, because they last so very, very long.
Do you have a bag of carrots? A bulb of garlic? Then you’re all set! I’ve made this recipe with fresh carrots and with carrots that have been sitting in my fridge for 6 months and were trying to take root inside the bag (uh, it’s possible I may also have a “cleaning out my fridge” problem…). It tasted great both ways!
Notably, it’s not my recipe, but comes from a blog called A Teaspoon of Turmeric ( ), which is run by a mother and daughter team who own the company Arvinda’s, which sells spice blends. That said, the version of this recipe up on their blog right now is a little different from their original one (which I use), so I feel comfortable replicating it here!

Carrot & Garlic Soup
It’s also worth noting that, depending on how much time you have, you could make this soup in two stages. If you’re short on time in the morning, or have extra time in the evening to prep and cook the carrots, do that. It will make for a quick “fresh” meal when you’re ready to eat.
And if you’re making this for more than a few people—double it! Or triple it! It will also depend on the size of your carrots.


4-5 large carrots, peeled, washed and cut into small pieces (size needed will depend on your blender strength & how much cooking time you have!)
4 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped (or more)
1.5 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
1 tbsp. parsley flakes (or fresh parsley)

  1. Place carrots, salt, and water in a large pot. Cook until carrots are fork-tender. Allow to cool slightly (this is for your own safety before step 2!).

  2. Using either a hand blender or a high-speed blender, blend up the carrots. I prefer mine with texture, so I only pulse it a few times in the blender.

  3. In another pot (or the same one, if you’ve blended the carrots up in a blender), gently heat your olive oil. Add chopped garlic and saute until fragrant.
  4. Add turmeric to garlic and stir frequently, allowing spice to cook for about a minute.
  5. Add carrot mixture to garlic and turmeric. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Stir in parsley flakes and serve hot! (Or ladle into bowls & garnish with fresh parsley.)

I love that this recipe is so simple that it can be easily done in stages, and that it’s not difficult to double, triple, or—yes, I’ve done this for a church potluck—quadruple! And for such a sparse ingredient list, the amount of flavor here is incredible. I’ve had folks ask what’s in it, and watched their eyes nearly bug out when I answered, “really, it’s just carrots and garlic, and a bit of turmeric!”
Also, if you’ve not worked with turmeric before, this is an excellent way to ease into it. Unlike many herbs and spices, the health benefits of turmeric have been widely studied for decades and peer reviewed by scientists and health professionals. And in this recipe, it’s so subtle that you won’t even taste it. I promise! (Well, unless you’re a supertaster ( , in which case I can’t promise anything…)
Thanks for having me here today! And I hope you get a moment to, well, slow down and enjoy this dish.

Michelle Karl is an unabashed bibliophile and romantic suspense author. She lives in Canada with her husband and several critters, including a co-dependent cat and an opinionated parrot. When she’s not reading and consuming copious amounts of coffee, she writes the stories she’d like to find in her ‘to be read’ pile. She also loves animals, world music and eating the last piece of cheesecake. Visit her at and on Twitter @_michellekarl_.

When her apartment is besieged by masked gunmen, Yasmine Browder's convinced it's tied to her investigation into her brother's "accidental" death three weeks ago. Narrowly escaping, she flags down the car of a passerby she thought she'd never see again—her childhood crush. Unlike the local police, newly minted FBI agent Noel Black doesn't believe the attack is a coincidence, especially when the attempts on her life don't stop. Yasmine's onto the truth about her brother, and someone powerful wants her dead. With nobody to trust and just days out of training, Noel must find a way to keep her alive…because now that he's found Yasmine, he refuses to lose her again.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

German Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

Yes, the title of this post pretty much says it all. This recipe combines two all-time favorites into one decadent dessert filled with three of my favorite things--chocolate, coconut and pecans.
The only thing wrong with this recipe is that it takes a little time to prepare, so plan ahead. However, I promise, it will be worth the wait.

Here's what you'll need for this over-the-top gooey treat.

  • 3 cups pecan halves
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup cold butter cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

While you're waiting, spread the pecans in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
Bake 8-10 minutes, stirring halfway through, until toasted and fragrant. If you're like me, you might to toast a few extra for sampling. I love pecans period, but toasted pecans are even better. Toasting nuts enhances their flavor, making them even harder to resist. Just be sure to keep a close eye on them as they can quickly cross that line from toasted to burned and no one likes burned pecans.

Set your toasted pecans aside and line the bottom and sides of a 13x9 baking pan with foil. Lightly grease the foil and set aside.
Place flour, powdered sugar, butter and cocoa in the bowl of a food processor or large bowl.
If using a food processor, pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. In a bowl, simply cut the butter into the dry ingredients until you achieve the same result.
Then press the mixture into your foil-lined pan, bringing it up the sides of the pan 1/2 to 3/4 inch.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Then as soon as you remove it from the oven, sprinkle your chocolate chips over the hot crust.
Set on wire rack to cool completely. Roughly 30-40 minutes. So pour yourself another cup of tea or coffee and take a little break. You deserve it.

Okay, now on to our gooey filling.

To a large bowl, add your brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter and eggs.
Whisk together until smooth.
Then add your coconut and toasted pecans.
Stir to combine.
And spoon into your cooled crust.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until top is golden and filling is set.
Cool completely and chill at least 1 hour.
When ready to serve, lift bars from pan using the foil sides as handles.
Cut into bars and serve.
Okay, this isn't the best picture. And why I didn't take a photo of the entire platter of bars I took to our middle daughter's baby shower, I'll never know. But they were a hit.
I also held out a few at home and they were even better the next morning. Yes, I said morning. Traditional breakfast appetizer, you know. ;-)  However, it had me thinking that the next time I make these, I just might make them a day ahead and keep them in the fridge overnight. You know, let all the flavors meld together.

Well, the clock is ticking here at the Obi house. Our home is set to hit the market this Saturday. That is, providing all of the last minute details come together. Like bumping the window cleaner from Wednesday to Thursday because the weatherman says there will be widespread storms on Wednesday. There's also staging, not to mention cleaning every little nook and cranny. Funny how we get used to living with things a certain way, but when faced with someone else's scrutiny, our perspective changes. In writing terms, we've done the revisions, now it's time for editing.

So until next week...

Mindy Obenhaus lives in Texas with her husband and kids. She's passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren. Learn more at

Monday, March 27, 2017

Baked Steak to Fight the Winter Doldrums

If you've been hanging around the Cafe for the last week or so, I think you've noticed that all of us have been suffering from some aspect of the late winter doldrums. From East to West, from North to South, we're getting over colds, dealing with more and more snow, or ice, or just the winter blahs.

But I think we're over the hurdle - dirty snow banks notwithstanding.

Because SPRING has finally come to the Black Hills.

So we're kicking sickness and doldrums to the curb, opening up the windows, and letting the fresh air in.

We drove up into the Hills on Saturday, to what some people consider the Jewel of the Hills: Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park. If the granite walls look familiar, you might recognize this area as part of the scenery in the movie, "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," with Nicolas Cage.

Whether there really is treasure in those Hills or not (I think not), it's a beautiful place.

Even the geese think so! And look who else we spied! The Western Bluebirds are back from their winter in the south!

We found two of the beauties searching for food on the ice. Now we know it's truly Spring!

To celebrate the end of winter/beginning of spring/end of the crud that's had me down the past couple weeks, I decided to hunt up a new comfort food recipe.

There's really nothing more comforting than a retro, throw-back to the 20th century, meat and potatoes meal.

Baked Steak

serves two 

two steaks - round steak works best, I had rib-eye on hand
1/4 cup flour
salt & pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons oil (I used one Tablespoon each of coconut oil and butter)
2-3 cups beef stock
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 small onion, sliced

Preheat your oven to 375°.

In a Dutch Oven, or other large pan that will go into your oven, heat the oil.

Mix the flour, salt and pepper together and dredge the steaks in it. Place the steaks in the pan in the hot oil and brown both sides.

Remove the steaks, and pour in part of the beef broth and bring to a boil. Scrape the yummy bits off the bottom of the pan as the broth is heating and mix them in. 

Add the Worcestershire sauce, more broth, and half of the sliced onions.

Layer the browned steaks on top of the onions, add the rest of the sliced onions, and the rest of the broth.

Cover and bake at 375° for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Cook some potatoes in your favorite way - I quartered and boiled some red potatoes and seasoned them with salt, pepper, and butter.

Serve with a big salad, and maybe some homemade bread, if you have any. 

It was a delicious meal for a cold and rainy early spring evening. 

What is your favorite way to push through the winter doldrums?

Jan Drexler loves her family, her home, cooking and just about anything made by hand. But she loves her Lord most of all.

Stop by Jan's website to learn more about her books:

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Banana Rum Shuttles

Hello, everybody! Mary Jane here and this is a repeat post. This cold has really kicked me to the curb. Everything has been on hold for a few weeks but I finally gave in and now I've got some powerful antibiotics on board. Here's to recovering quickly and SPEEDBO! 

So, this is a repeat of something  I first learned how to cook a few weeks before my 15th birthday (just a baby!) in France. La voila, Banana Rum Shuttles! Of course, over there they called them "tartes bananes" and they didn't have the little arrow-head end that looks like a loom shuttle. But the recipe I found that was the closest was this "shuttle" version and I thought it was really pretty so... I guess my tartes bananes sont "shuttles" now!
 So, you'll need:
3 bananas
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tbs rum (or more, depending on what kind of day you've had)
puff pastry, frozen or home made (I've tried to make it many times... I just can't. So, I resolved to stop wasting time on the impossible and buy the frozen stuff.)
1 egg white for glaze
 Cut the bananas length-wise. No reason for this except it's easier to dip them in the rum.
 You can't see the rum, but it's there. Really.
 Mix the sugar, cloves, cinnamon. Roll the rum bananas in the sugar. Lick fingers after ever piece.
 You should end up with bananas coated with sugar and spices and rum. Taste test a few to make sure everything is going well at this point.
 Defrosted pastry. Looks bad. Will taste good.
 Put the banana mix on the puff pastry. Sample a few more pieces that fall off the side. Lick fingers again.
 Seal the sides with the fork, cut the ends at an angle and seal.
 Slice the top for vents. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425F. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Take them out, brsh with egg whites, and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.

 I served these on plates I picked up in Poland when I attended the Warsaw School of Economics after I graduated from college. It was a little odd to serve something from my years in France on plates I bought ten years later during a sojourn in a completely different country. Then my five year old picked one up and proclaimed it "delicioso" and just like his abuelita's empanadas.  I had to smile at the intersection (collision?) of all these cultures in a small Oregon town.
Wishing you joy in the journey, wherever you are and wherever you're going! Until next time!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Another Kitchen Fail

Missy Tippens

It's March, which means Speedbo month at the Seekerville blog (our home blog). Plus, this month I've had my normal family commitments multiplied by about a thousand. So not much time for cooking new recipes. Rather than share the same things I've shared in the past, I thought you might enjoy laughing at me for another kitchen fail.

So maybe this doesn't look so disastrous on the surface. But I messed up twice.

First, I forgot to rinse the beautiful scallops I had bought. ALWAYS RINSE SCALLOPS BEFORE COOKING.

You know why? Because they can have grit in them. Yes, you guessed it. Our scallops that night would sometimes crunch.


And if you look closely at those carrots, you'll see I roasted them way too long. I was in a hurry so cut them small so they'd cook quickly. Then I proceeded to cook them for the regular length of time!

You know how beef jerky feels when you eat it???

These were carrot jerky. Oh my goodness, they were awful to eat. I told my husband they reminded me of dried apricots, too. I could barely chew them.

So, the moral of this story is that even when you're in a hurry to throw together dinner, make sure you slow down long enough to do it carefully.

Yesterday, my son came for lunch. He's on spring break, and we had been dog sitting for them while he and his wife took a day trip. So he came to pick up the fur babies, and I cooked for him. This time I made sure to cut the carrots just the right size so they would roast nicely. And they were wonderful! :)

And so I can leave you with a beautiful photo of food, this is the dish my husband ordered at a new Thai restaurant we love, Fresh Bowl Thai Cuisine. Now, that's how vegetables should look. :)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Granola Revisited With No Snow or Wind!!!

Two weeks ago Cate Nolan posted my in depth report on Granola: The myth, the man, the legend...

Okay, there is no man or myth or legend, but there is progress!

I wasn't able to post pics that week because of the storm and massive power outages, but this is worth having fun with because I've streamlined the recipe!!!

1. Granola is expensive.   If it's natural granola, it's even MORE EXPENSIVE.
2. It's easy to make Granola. Mix... spread on parchment-lined pan. Bake in slow oven.
3. It's crunchy. Anyone who's ever gone on a diet, or gone juicing, or protein shaking, knows that most of us like to chew stuff.
4. My family loves me even more with this discovery.
5. It's a shame it took CRUNCHY GRAINS to garner their respect!!! :)

So here we go:

Vanilla Spice Peanut Granola

4 cups chopped peanuts
6 cups oatmeal (I used the quick minute oatmeal)
1 cup sunflower seed kernels
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon nutmeg

Mix all of those dry ingredients together in large (like L-A-R-G-E bowl)

Warm on stove or in microwave:

1/2 cup honey
1 cup real maple syrup
1/2 cup Coconut oil

Heat until boiling. Remove from heat and add 2 Tablespoons Vanilla

Drizzle over dry mixture. Mix thoroughly. Spread onto parchment lined cookie sheets or roasting pans about 3/4 inch thick..... Press down lightly. Bake in slow 275° oven for fifteen minute intervals, stirring and pressing mix back down lightly.  In my oven it takes about 35 to 45 minutes to get the granola turning "golden".... and when it does, remove from oven and let set until cool.

Once cool break granola into chunks or pieces.

Store in airtight container.

You can add dried fruits (cranberries, raisins, apricots, etc.) but I didn't want to add empty sugar carbs into the mix. This was just enough to be a fun, chewy snack throughout the day and crazy popular with kids and grown ups alike.

The original recipe had mixed nuts... the dried, roasted peanuts worked great, enough crunch and nutty taste, and the perfect salty backdrop.... and dry roasted rocks!

So here are some pics when we were all "settlers" during the storms:

When the toddler's favorite toy rolls under the fridge, it takes a village!!!

And stovetop cooking was the only option... but we were so happy to do it! Lacey, AKA: Stovetop Mama!

No hot water? No problemo! We heated water on the stove like our ancestors did, so we could do dishes... and there were a lot of dishes!!!! 

And there were snuggle spots set up all over the place!!!

PILLOW FORT! And sunshine!!! :)

We've still got snow.... It's melting slowly, Mother Nature has her sights set on dropping to single digits early today, but then she's going to up the ante back to the 40's by the weekend...

And maybe (MAYBE????) we'll say goodbye to winter!!!

Cate Nolan, I love that pic you shared yesterday! I snagged it and put it on facebook because every Yankee and Midwesterner I know is feeling the same way!!!



WHATEVER IT TAKES!!! :) Because the Ruthinator is ready for spring!!!!

Popular inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne loves God, family, country, dogs, cats, kids, babies and she is living her dream of writing sweet books that makes folks laugh... and cry.

Visit her on facebook (where she loves to talk!) or her website or @ruthloganherne on Twitter.... here at the cafe or in Seekerville! But most of all... she'd love to share her love for books, faith, romance and life with you.

Complete book list on her website or here at Amazon....  Ruthy on Amazon!