Saturday, June 25, 2016

Starbucks Copycat Low Calorie Strawberry Cream and Lemon Chiller Drinks- and FREE BOOK!

Hi, everybody! This is a repeat post from July 2014 (that was my year for good recipes, apparently) and it's become a favorite in my house!
But first I have to share this picture of our kitty cat. I honestly didn't know if he was enjoying the sun or was a victim of a terrible tricycle accident. :O

So, going back to 2014 now, at the time of the original post, we were in the middle of a heat wave. I can happily say we have gorgeous weather as I type this, and when this post airs, we should be at the beach, so I'm betting it will NOT be 104F the second time around... but I could be wrong!
Without further ado...
I got this great cookbook at the library. The author battled diabetes and other health issues so she tries to take the most popular recipes and remake them several different ways. Each recipe has about four or five alternatives, whether you're cutting fat, sodium, sugar or carbs. I loved this idea! I don't have a problem with sugar, but I would love to cut unnecessary fat from my diet, so I thought I'd try some of the recipes and see if they were as good as they looked.

BUT this happened: record-setting temps all week. 107 on Thursday but some said 109F unofficially. I figure anything past 100 is officially whatever you want to call it because we're all melting and nobody's going to be around to argue.
 So I decided to make some of the drinks in the book. The first one is called "Luscious Lemon Slim Smoothie".
1/3 cup low fat milk
1 TBS instant sugar free lemon pudding mix
1/3 cold water
1/3 Greek yogurt (non fat)
 2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup ice
 I got out the ninja, but you can use a blender. This entire process took about 3 minutes, start to finish. Definitely doing this for refreshments when we have guests!
Add the milk and pudding mix together, and let sit for one minute. Then add all the other ingredients.
 I wasn't really sure how this would taste, since I'm not big on sugar free products. They always have an odd flavor to me. But this was delicious! Light, cool, lemony, and very filling.
 Of course, always better with some whipped topping and a few blueberries. The kids split one and I gave the other to hubby. He said it was "savroso". I told him to hold on, I was still testing recipes. He was in the garden, so he just handed me back the jar and went back to work.

Nutritional information: 100 calories, carbs 14, fat 1.5, protein 10g, sodium 350mg

 The next recipe is apparently copied from a famous Starbucks recipe. We have one but I don't often go there, so I haven't tried the original. What I know is that this one IS DELICIOUS.

1/2 cup nonfat milk
1/4 cup nonfat half-and-half
2/3 cup frozen strawberries (about 6)
3 TBS sugar (or substitute)
1/2 cup crushed ice
 Place all ingredients together and blend.
 I was really surprised at how "strawberry" this was. I thought since they were frozen, it would turn out like a lot of strawberry ice chunks, but I think the half-and-half brings out the creamy flavor.
 For me, this was closest to a real treat. Rich and flavorful, like a milkshake but not as heavy. Again, kids shared some and I took the rest to hubby. He said, "delicioso". I told him to just wait... there was more.

Nutritional info: 150 calories, 25 carbs, fat 1.5 g, protein 7g, fiber 2g sodium 65mg
In comparison, the real Starbucks version has 380 calories, 15 g of fat, and 57 carbs!
 The next recipe was Mocha Fudge Mudslide Milkshake. This took a few ingredients I didn't have but I think I can use the sliced almonds in another batch of granola, so I figured it wouldn't be too expensive to try. If it didn't work out, I'd just stick to regular milkshakes!

2 tsp sugar free hot fudge topping
2/3 cup low fat milk
1 tbs vanilla sugar free instant pudding mix
2 tsp instant coffee
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup no sugar addeded or light ice cream
2/3 cup ice
 First, wipe the hot fudge up the inside of the glasses. Put them in the fridge to chill.
Combine the milk and the pudding mix, blend, and then let it sit for 1 minute.
Add all other ingredients and then blend until thick and creamy. Carefully pour into the glasses and top with whipped topping and almonds if desired.
 These definitely were tasty-looking. But would they pass the Munoz taste-test??
Apparently, the answer is YES. They were devoured, and I had to make more. My kids decided that this was the best dinner they'd ever had and they wanted it to be 109F every single DAY. (Forgive them, they know not what they wish for.)

Nutritonal info: calories 205, carbs 35, fat 4.5, protein 8, fiber 4, sodium 480mg

My personal favorite was the lemon chiller. The cookbook author also gives several different flavor ideas made from the same "starter" of instant pudding mix, low fat milk and yogurt. I have some strawberry pudding so I might try that and see if it's as refreshing. For a 100 calories, it sure beats a popsicle on a hot day.

Now, before I go, I thought I'd share a few pics of my kids. Every year on their birthday (which most were born in the summer- no cracks about keeping warm, I've heard them all, haha) we open their baby boxes.

 My soon-to-be 13 year old's Sunday dress might not fit her anymore.
Just for giggles, here's her birth announcement in the paper. Yikes.
 The four year old's foot is still chubby, but these shoes aren't going to fit at all.
 My 11 year old's first tshirt is wayyyy too tiny.
My nine year old says, "Ugh, do I have to?"
But I think my fourteen year old wins. She was a preemie who had colic and screamed for the first three months of her life. She weighed 5 lbs 11 oz and was 18 inches long, now she's taller than I am.
And here are her size 11 feet and her baby booties. That's my baby! Time does fly... and I'm so very grateful for the health and well-being of all my children. 
Now, if they'd just clean their rooms...

EDIT June 2016: Awwwww, my babies are so little! It's amazing how much they grew in just a few years. What a fun stroll into the not-so-distant past.
My book A Star To Steer By is also free from the 24th through the 29th. It's one of my favorite books!

Here's the blurb:
Roxie Sunshine Hardy is perfectly happy living in Philadelphia, far away from her hometown. Growing up as a chubby nerd obsessed with classic literature, Roxie finally feels like she’s found her place in the world. She’s kept her full name a secret and has never, ever, ever told a single soul how she spent her high school years. People might think growing up in a family bakery is delightful, but Roxie knows the reality. Spending countless sweaty afternoons inside Sunshine Bakery’s big, pink foam cupcake costume is the stuff of her nightmares. 
Those terrible days are behind her now, but when her family needs her, Roxie decides to return to Natchitoches. She assures herself that it’s only for a few weeks, and there isn’t a snowball’s chance in Dante’s Inferno that she’ll have to get into that cupcake suit. 

Moving from New York City to Natchitoches shouldn’t be a problem for Andy McBride. The slower pace, Creole culture, and friendly locals make up for the lack of any good Thai take-out. But Andy hasn’t counted on how much he’d miss his brother, Mark. He can’t uproot Mark from his group home for the mentally disabled back in New York, so Andy tries to go on as usual. To everyone else, including his fascinating neighbor from Philly, he’s living the carefree life of a wealthy bachelor, but Andy is haunted by the knowledge that Mark might not be around for much longer. 
When an unlikely friendship blossoms with Sunshine Bakery’s anonymous dancing cupcake, Andy decides to stop pretending to be someone he’s not. He learns seizing the day isn’t just for poets, and life is too short to be without the people you love. A story of family, loyalty, and a true love that can’t be disguised, A Star to Steer By will warm your heart. 

Be sure to drop by my author page at Mary Jane Hathaway, or my other author page at Virginia Carmichael, or my blog at The Things That Last! All my newest book news and musings is there, including anything else that strikes my fancy!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Kitchen Gadget Day with Chef Tina

Today I'm featuring some of the kitchen gadgets that I have or are on my wish list.

1. My favorite knives. Pure Komachi 2 Series.

I started my collection with the Sandwich Knife with comes with a cover. It's now ten years old and still works like it's brand new.

From Amazon:  A fantastic multi-purpose knife; large, reverse scalloped edge cuts through fruits, vegetables, and bread; spatula tip gets mayo out of jar and back of blade spreads
9 Piece Set with Block

High-carbon stainless-steel blade retains super-sharp edge over time

Color is made by bonding food-safe FDA-approved resin to the stainless-steel blade

Non-stick resin coating resists corrosion makes cleaning simple and helps blade glide through food with ease.

Handle is lightweight and ergonomically contoured for a comfortable, fatigue-reducing grip

You can collect them one at a time as I do or buy them as a set with or without the holder.

2. On the top of my wish list!  The Paderno Spiralizer from Williams-Sonoma for vegetables, including making zucchini pasta! There are a variety of models and price ranges. This is the 4 blade. 

From Williams-Sonoma: "This simple-to-use machine produces spiral cuts, shoestrings and vegetable "noodles" for adding a new texture to pasta dishes, stir-fries, and salads. You can make long ribbons of cucumber, carrots, and radishes for salads, or apple spirals for apple slaw. Cut onion rings, potato chips, shoestring potatoes or curly sweet potato fries in seconds."

I recently learned that Ruth Logan Herne uses something called the Zoodle Slicer.

3.  OXO Good Grips 3-in-1 Avocado Slicer. Available on Amazon here.

I ordered this product after mangling two avocados making taco salad. I love it and it's dishwasher safe.

4. I'm shopping new spatulas as well. The Best Review Guide recommends these.
But I'm looking for a one piece all purpose spatula. I'm tired of seeing residue between the handle and the spatula itself.  Considering these. Any suggestions? 

di Oro Living Silicone Spatula Set

5. Not a gadget, but I highly recommend that if you are not following this site, you start now. The Kitchn. Follow on Pinterest, FB, and Instagram. But start by checking out the website and signing up for the newsletter. You can thank me later.

6. Finally I present a gadget that's only four bucks, but once it arrives, you will wonder how you lived without it.

Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer

Has 5,551 reviews and 634 answered questions. You can't go wrong with this baby. A sampling of information customer comments:

Question: Is there a metric version? My mom lives in Europe and I don't want to send her one that won't work in her country.

Answer: Yes, the US version has the slicers spaced at 0.375". The metric version has the slicers spaced at 9.525 mm. I hope that helps. 

Question: A friend used my H571 to slice a few bananas, but accidentally sliced too many. Is there any reverse mode to unslice them? The manual is not helpful.

Answer: Yes, I was confused as well, but after some experimentation, I found that instead of pressing down the slicer onto the banana to slice, you can unslice by pushing the unused slices back through the corresponding slots. I will post a video on Youtube when I have a free moment. I... just... can't stop using this amazing product.

That's it!!! Those are my Kitchen Gadgets. Any gadgets you'd like to recommend?  

Tina Radcliffe is a two-time Golden Heart finalist, a two-time Carol Award finalist, and a 2014 Carol Award winner. Her 2015 release, Safe in the Fireman's Arms, is the recipient of the Holt Medallion Merit Award Finalist and a Bookseller's Best Award finalist. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Re-Visit... With a few kittens!

This is a miniature version of my traditional strawberry rhubarb pie.... When I made the rhubarb custard pie there was enough crust left to do an 8" aluminum pie pan filled with springtime goodness! So the first pics are of this pie.... Before baking (Notice that I had to pretend on the crust, so this was my fancy pretense because there wasn't enough crust to lattice or cover... so I made it scalloped!!

And this is how it looked after baking it!!! Cute, small and enough for a half-dozen folks....  to make one this size, all you have to do is cut the lower recipe in half..... 

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, Ruthy Style!!!

What's not to love????

For our Rhubarb Extravaganza, we're playing with strawberries and rhubarb today, and that only makes the world a nicer place to live!!!!

First, use the crust recipe I gave you HERE for the pie crust because it's the best pie crust ever, and NO ONE can mess it up. Promise!

So here's the basic filling recipe... We're going to cook it on the stove top first (I do this with blueberry, cherry and raspberry pie filling too, to avoid runny fillings.... )  I use a deep dish pie pan so if you're using a standard glass Pyrex pie pan, you can cut the recipe by a third or so... But if math is NOT your forte, buy a bigger pan.  ;)

6 cups fresh or frozen rhubarb, cut in 1/2 inch slices
3 cups strawberries, sliced, fresh or frozen
1 1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter

Cut rhubarb, mix with strawberries in large (4 quart) kettle....

Mix sugar and flour....

Heat rhubarb and strawberries over medium/low heat until the berries start to juice... then stir in flour/sugar mixture. Cover and simmer until hot. Add the butter, stirring now and again. Once mixture thickens and rhubarb turns somewhat translucent, it's ready for the pie pan!

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (hot oven)

Roll out bottom crust and place in pie pan. Pour in strawberry rhubarb mixture. Now you may top with a second crust, rolled out and placed over hot mixture. Cut 3 or 4 vent "slits" in crust, crimp edges and bake approximately 20 minutes... Pie does not take long because filling is cooked and hot.


Use the Dutch/French apple crumb topping recipe HERE to sprinkle on top.

 Bake same as above.


Roll out crust, cut into thin strips and criss cross over hot filling, creating traditional lattice work top. (That's my favorite way!)

The crimped edge has a tendency to burn but you can avoid this by folding a piece of narrow aluminum foil over edge before baking. It's a little awkward (foil likes to slip off) but it works great and your pie crust stays golden. Not brown.

For the crumb topping, a piece of aluminum foil over the top during baking keeps it from getting too brown.

Now here's a glimpse of this week....  Kittens for sale? Anyone need a kitten? We have five!

And I had to get a picture of this beautiful shrine at Holy Cross church.... This is such a lovely glimpse into yesteryear.... and just beautiful. Every time I think of the sacrifice Mary was willing to make to be the mother of God, I am in awe of how feeble I truly am....

My computer died this week, so it's been a busy week of kids (last week of school here), using back-up computer (slow and not as much fun as my HP Pro that I love) and yesterday I went and made strawberry rhubarb jam with Sr. Maria, my high school Introduction to Physics teacher at Nazareth Academy....

And what can be bad about making jam at the Motherhouse????


I'm attempting to download the back-up files into my fixed computer today, and if you want to whisper a prayer or two that it works, I'd be grateful! Technology is like any other modernization, electricity, plumbing, cars, etc.... great when it works, but boy we become dependent really fast, don't we?

Ruthy Logan Herne loves writing sweet stories and hanging around online to talk to cool people like you.... especially if there is food involved. The multi-published author with over one million books sold, she still can't believe that she's living her dream... so she pinches herself, every day! You can find her on her website or on Logan Herne where she loves to play and pray with folks!


I am so excited to see this new Grace Haven book going to Harlequin Book Club readers this week!!! YAY!!!!! If you've ever wondered how to get the books ahead of time, here's the link:

This is a great way to get your Love Inspired books a month before anyone else gets them.... And I love it when those e-mails and messages start pouring in.... I am so blessed to be doing this!!!! Happy dancing in upstate NY!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Summer Quinoa Salad

Tina posted a comment about quinoa on Facebook last week and it inspired a huge response. That reminded me that I had done this post about a summer quinoa salad on the Healthy Writer blog about four years ago. Since it's the first week of summer, I thought I'd share it here.

Have you ever had Taboulleh? I think it's currently out of favor because of wheat's bad rep. Enter the Quinoa version.

I absolutely love the videos from Chef MD so today I bring you Chef MD’s Easy Gluten-Free Quinoa Taboulleh.
 Here he is showing you how to make it. It's well worth watching the video because he is so entertaining.

His website has the complete recipe if following the video is too confusing.
Ingredients –
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 cup frozen baby lima beans, thawed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup packaged julienned (matchstick) carrots
1/4 cup each: chopped fresh parsley and mint
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Doesn’t this look like a lovely summer lunch or dinner?

One comment on the website suggests substituting cilantro for the parsley. That sounds good too!
An added benefit is the claim that quinoa helps combat migraines!

Do you have any go-to summer recipes?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Summertime Fave - Revisiting Kale Slaw

Last week I talked about salads and how, now that the temps are heating up, I 'm eating more of them. So I thought I carry that over and revisit one of my favorite summertime salads.
I will confess that, aside from this recipe, I don't eat kale. However, the combination of flavors in this dish is so good (IT HAS BACON!) and the hint of citrus makes it a perfect candidate to beat the heat.

So here we go...

Here's what you'll need:
l head kale, stems removed and thinly sliced
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 an orange, juiced
1/2 a lemon, juiced
ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
 1 slice bacon, cooked crisp and chopped (since I don't dare have real bacon in the house, I used a heaping tablespoon of bacon bits)
1 rounded Tbsp. mayonnaise
Place the kale into a salad bowl. Toss with carrot, orange juice, lemon juice, and salt. Using your hands, rub the acid into the kale. Basically, pretend you're giving it a massage.

Set kale aside.

Prepare a large bowl of ice water and a saucepan with boiling water.
Place the sliced  onion into the boiling water for 15-30 seconds.
Remove and immediately plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process. This removes the bitter taste of the raw onion.
Drain the water and blot the onions with a paper towel.

Add the onion, bacon, olive oil, salt, and pepper to kale and toss well.

Add the mayonnaise and mix the slaw well.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be made several hours in advance.
Just look at all those vibrant colors.
This is so yummy, y'all. Though the next time, I think I'll add the juice of the entire orange. That citrusy flavor lends just enough sweetness to make it addicting.

Now it's your turn. How do you feel about kale? What's your favorite way to eat it?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Preserving Wedding Flowers Without Spending a Fortune

I'm still loving wedding memories! The bride was beautiful, the flowers were gorgeous, the wedding was so meaningful...

But two days later, I was cleaning up the wedding leftovers (tons of wedding leftovers!), and I saw this beautiful display in our living room:

The flowers were so lovely! A combination of blush roses, ivory roses, peonies, hydrangea, baby's breath and one cascade of orchids in the bride's bouquet.

Such beauty, and such a short lifespan. Already by Monday morning the peonies were about done.

Years ago my mother hung my bouquet from the rafter in our garage to dry it. It was lovely...and fragile. One bump from a curious dog and that bouquet was in pieces. Lots of dry, crumbly, rose petal pieces.

Yes, I cried.

But then I gathered up the pieces and put them in a mason jar. I still have that jar, and love what it represents.

I wanted to do something similar for my daughter, but she married a cat-loving man. I knew that if I tried to dry the bouquet, it would suffer the same fate as mine had thirty-four years ago.

So then I thought - why not just skip a step and put it into the jar?

The first thing to do was to dry the flowers. Instead of the hot garage, I used our dehydrator. If you don't have a dehydrator, you can use an oven set to very low heat - 110° is the recommended maximum. If you leave your oven door ajar and set the temp as low as you can, you'll be okay.

I started with the rose buds. I knew they would take longer to dry, so I set them on the bottom tray. They took about 36 hours.

Then I cut branchlets off of the hydrangeas...

...and the baby's breath.

Each of these trays only took about six hours to dry.

Then I piled petals into the other trays.

I mixed the rose and peony petals together, and let them dry. They took between 8 and 10 hours. Then I'd pour them into a big bowl and fill the trays again.

We had a LOT of flowers to work with!

Instead of the mason jar I had used for my own wedding flowers, I went to Hobby Lobby and bought three sealable jars. Two small ones for the groom's mother and myself, and a large one for the happy couple.

Some of those "chalkboard" vinyl labels worked great!

So, how have you preserved memories of a special day?

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: