Monday, May 21, 2018

Come for a Hike with Me!

by Jan Drexler

A couple days ago, my dear husband and I took advantage of a brief respite in our daily thunderstorms to fit in our first real hike of the season.

We went to a trail we had never tried before, the Stockade Lake trail at Custer State Park.

We've visited the stockade a couple times. It's a reproduction of a stockade built by early gold seekers in 1874, in spite of orders from General Phil Sheridan prohibiting non-Natives from entering the Black Hills. To see pictures of the original stockade and to read more of the history, read this blog post.

Stockade Lake is a favorite spot for fishermen and picnickers and is the location of this 1.2 mile trail. Don't let the short length of the hike fool you, though. The elevation rises 400 feet - and goes back down - in that distance.

We started out in sunshine, enjoying the early wildflowers along the way.

I'm still on the quest to get a good picture of one of these beauties. It's a Shooting Star, and blooms for a short time in May and June. It's the size of a violet, with the petals swinging up from the yellow and white center. Every photo of this flower that I've taken so far is out of focus. The slightest breeze makes the blossom quiver!

Trails in the state park are easy to follow. The blue diamonds point the way.

The trail isn't always have to watch your step!

When you stop to look around, though, the views are gorgeous. Hmm, are those rain clouds to the north?

When we looked toward the east, I got this shot of sunshine on one of the burned over mountains from last November's fire.

The trail never looks as steep in the photo as it felt when we were hiking up it!

When Badger Clark, a native South Dakota poet from the first half of the twentieth century, was asked why the Black Hills aren't called mountains, he said something along these lines: when visitors come, "it is better to delight than disappoint."

The Black Hills are definitely mountains, and we delight in every inch of them!

The rain finally did move in when we were on our way down the trail, so I tucked my camera inside my jacket. But not before I got one last picture...

I hope you enjoyed our hike together! What is one of your favorite things about where you live?

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan

Friday, May 18, 2018

Vegan Banana Fudge Brownies Stuffed with Chocolate Chips

Missy Tippens

My daughter made these gorgeous things this week. To fully experience them, you need to check the recipe on Instagram (where she discovered them) on the account @tumblinbumblincrumblincookie. Click here to see the post and official recipe (it's in the comments section). You also need to see her gorgeous photo that attracted my daughter in the first place. Our photos don't look nearly as yummy. I'll post our modified version of the recipe here. My daughter (who is not vegan) didn't have all the ingredients so did her best.

1/2 cup unbleached flour (we didn't have whole wheat)
2 tbs cornstarch
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar (we actually used Truvia to save the calories)
1 packet instant coffee (we used Starbucks Via)

1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup aquafaba (we had to look this up. It's the juice out of a can of chick peas)
6 tbs coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (we didn't have dark chunks)

Now some photos. Michelle whisked the aquafaba until foamy (they serve like egg whites in vegan dishes).

Mush the banana.

To the whipped aquafaba, add in the coconut oil, banana and vanilla. This is where Michelle had a disaster. She accidentally dumped a LOT of vanilla. I had to try to pour some of it off and hope that the chocolate could offset some of the strong vanilla flavor. :)

Sift in the dry ingredients and then fold it into the wet. Then add in chocolate chips.

We baked it in a 8x8 (or maybe it was 9x9) pan that had been sprayed with Pam and lined with parchment paper to help with removing it.

Now here's something unusual: bake at 180 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. A toothpick inserted will come out a little fudgey. Let cool on a wire rack completely before removing from the pan. Lin (of Instagram) suggests chilling the brownies for a few hours to obtain optimum fudginess. We chilled ours for about an hour. Then Michelle took them out of the pan to slice.

We did not top ours with melted peanut butter like Lin did. These are just the brownies.

Warning: these are VERY fudgey and rich. In fact, I told Michelle I think I would call them fudge rather than brownies. And I would suggestion only eating a 1 inch square piece at a time! But if you're having a chocolate craving, these will definitely do the trick.

Missy Tippens, a pastor’s wife and mom of three from near Atlanta, Georgia, made her first sale to Harlequin Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been nominated for the Booksellers Best, Holt Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Maggie Award, Beacon Contest and a 2013 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award. A House Full of Hopewas a Romance Writers of America 2013 RITA® Nominee. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.com and

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Roasted Asparagus and Spring!

Roasted Asparagus is back! This simple and popular veggie side dish can be a meal for me! I love it! And it's simple....

Take a pound or two of asparagus spears, fresh from your local farmer or grocer...

Trim bottom ends.

Cover baking pan/sheet with foil.

Spread out asparagus. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with Bruschetta seasoning, whatever is your favorite "go to" seasoning...

 Broil on low for about fifteen minutes, more or less depending on spear "size". Thicker spears take longer to cook. Or if you forget that you put things in the oven (like I do!) then bake at 400 degrees for about fifteen minutes, Plus or Minus a few.... Ovens vary, so if you know your oven, dance to its tune.

Serve hot and delicious!!! A great way to increase the green veggies in your diet and make use of the local farmers!!!

Then we've got the twisty slide.... Now I'm not a fan of new slides. They're so safe that they're boring. They look cool... but you can't come down fast on most of them, and that's sad! But you don't fall to your death from up top, either, so that's a good thing!


 But as you can see, MacKenzie and Morgan figured out ways to make it less boring... by climbing up the outside of the slide and then doing various interesting ways of coming down "SLOWLY" while making faces... or laying on bellies... or pretending it was REALLY FAST when it was painfully slow, LOL! Slow-mo slides!!!!

And these are all Herne girls! My great-nieces and some of my grandbabies...  Aren't they beautiful little athletes? It was soccer night for Alicia and Mary Ruth.... The rest of us were there to cheer them on!

And from my last visit to NYC, a shot of one of the reflecting pools at the 9-1-1 Memorial. I try to get there whenever I drive down to the city. It's the perfect place to pray... to think... to remember that day... and then pray for peace.

And then to the huge new subterranean mall and train station next door beneath the "Oculus", wide-spanning white steel "arms" that make a winged above-ground entrance that is breathtaking from inside!

This is an picture credited to Tim Queng because mine from last year seem to have disappeared!

Upscale stores line every level of the sides of the train station, going down four levels.... NJ Path, Fulton Street Station and soon more entrances to other Lower Manhattan places... It's an amazing place to visit, right next door to the 911 Memorial and the reflecting pools inscribed with the names of all victims of the terror attacks of September 11th.

It's lovely to be back home... it's green here! LEAVES ON MANY TREES! And you can chart the leaves by soil temperature because the trees react to soil temperature to begin the leafing process. By me, the Black Locust trees are one of the last to get their leaves and first to lose them. By late August, tiny golden leaves begin dotting the black locust trees, super tall trees with craggy trunks and branches.

But for now, we are in the business of welcoming leaves! Welcoming spring!!!!

And getting smelly cleaning out little water ponds to attract birds and frogs and toads! They love the bugs attracted to the water. Perfect! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Calling All Pet Lovers!

Who loves their pets???

I think most of us here would give a big two thumbs up to pets. Between us we have a bunch of dogs...

Missy Tippens "Duke" getting a little gray in the muzzle!

Cate Nolan's famous "Fenway"!!!! And Yankee-loving Ruthy doesn't even make fun of his name. MUCH!!! :)


And Jan's "Wynter".... How pretty are those ears????

A few cats...

Xavier and baby "Toasted Marshmallow" kitten

Patti Jo Moore and one of her feline faves!!!

And we love them!

So we'd like to do occasional posts about pets. What they mean to us? What they mean to you? And we'd like your help!

Send us your pet pics and feel free to share a personal story or brief tidbit about your pet. We'd like your permission to use those tidbits here in Yankee Belle Cafe, where folks like to gather around the coffee pot or the wood stove or grab sweet tea and take a rocker on the covered porch... and chat about this, that and the other thing.

We'd like to know more about you...

And the things you love!

You can send your thoughts, pics and prayers to

And we'll see what this group of chocolate and pet lovers can put together.

Our pets love us... and we love them. So let's have some fun with it!


 Award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne is a down-home gal who loves living on her farm, working in dirt, baking cookies (not at the same time, usually, but she makes no promises!) and loves God... her family... her friends and faith community, diet Mt. Dew (shh... don't judge) and chocolate. You can friend her on facebook or follow her on Amazon or Bookbub!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mother’s Day Burgers, Courtesy of My Guys

By Mindy Obenhaus

Well, after a whirlwind Saturday that included our oldest son’s college graduation,
I came home from church Sunday, contemplating what I might do with such a quiet day. Our younger son was gone for the weekend, there was nothing pressing so, hey, maybe I’d take a nap or at least attempt to be a vegetable and become one with my couch. The possibilities were endless.

Then the younger boy texted that he’d decided to come home early. Next thing I know, our college grad is walking through the door, wishing me a happy Mother’s Day. So much for a quiet day, but who cares. This mama is happiest when her chicks are in the nest.

And since everyone was tired of traveling, we decided to stay in for dinner. Talk about a Mother’s Day present. They cooked for me!

Grad boy has spent his college years working on the perfect hamburger, so he decided to show off for Mom. And I have to say, I was very impressed.

He started with 2 pounds of ground chuck and 1 pound of ground venison, then chopped up some onion, mushrooms and jalapeno. (all seeds and ribs were removed so there was no heat).
Wait. There are veggies in this burger? Who are you and what have you done with my non-veggie-eating son?

Mix everything together in a large bowl, including some Montreal Steak Seasoning to taste.
Then form your patties.
He prefers half-pound patties, but then he’s a growing boy. You’re welcome to go smaller.

From here, you can grill the burgers
Or pan fry them.
He decided to try both methods to see which he liked best. Not sure I ever heard the verdict, though.
The outcome, however, was one juicy, delicious burger.
Mama was impressed. Throw in some bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers and my favorite Mesquite Barbecue potato chips and I was in heaven.

After dinner, we went for a drive around the property. Hard to believe that after all the flooding from Hurricane Harvey last fall, we now find ourselves heading into a drought. The lakes are already getting low.
Most of the pastures are still green, though. And the calves continue to arrive.
Some still find it difficult not to stray from their mamas.
Note that this one’s mama is on the other side of the fence. Baby decided to hop the cattle guard and do a little exploring. Unfortunately, they never seem to remember how they got in and, inevitably, have to be coaxed back out.

Oh, and remember this guy/gal from a few weeks ago.
He/she is still keeping watch over their family in that mulberry tree and always on the lookout for anyone or anything that might seek to disrupt them.

So how was your Mother’s Day? Did you do anything special? Is Mother’s Day celebrated in Canada?

Three-time Carol Award nominee, Mindy Obenhaus, lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the youngest of her five children and two dogs. 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, May 14, 2018

A Spring Visit to Amish Country and a Cover Reveal

by Jan Drexler

We spent the past week visiting family in Michigan and Indiana, and of course we included a tour through Amish Country!

Indiana's Amish Country is full of farms and seemed a bit crowded compared to our wide open prairies in South Dakota! But at the same time, it's home.

It was also Ascension Day, so the Amish families were spending the day observing the holiday with family. We saw several farms with many buggies parked in the drive.

Since it was a holiday for the Amish, it was a day of rest for the horses, too!

Another bonus? We saw babies of all kinds!

This mama was watching over two sleeping foals in this pasture. These are draft horses - huge horses! The day before this, we saw a farmer plowing with a team of eight of these horses, four in front and four behind. There is a lot of power in those muscles!

There were also plenty of lambs, kids, and calves with their mothers, too. But the cutest was this little guy:

There is nothing better than a passel of baby animals to welcome spring, is there?

And now it's time to reveal my new cover!

Order this book here!
Due to be released Sept. 18, 2018

"The Sound of Distant Thunder" is the first in my new series from Revell, The Amish of Weaver's Creek. The series is set in the Holmes County, Ohio Amish community during the American Civil War.

Here is a little bit about the story:

 Katie Stuckey and Jonas Weaver are both romantics. Seventeen-year-old Katie is starry-eyed, in love with the idea of being in love, and does not want to wait to marry Jonas until she is eighteen, despite her parents' insistence. So much can happen in a year. Twenty-year-old Jonas is taken in by the romance of soldiering, especially in defense of anti-slavery, even though he knows war is at odds with the teachings of the church. When his married brother's name comes up in the draft list, he volunteers to take his brother's place. But can the commitment Katie and Jonas have made to each other survive the separation?

From the talented pen of Jan Drexler comes this brand new Amish series set against the backdrop of the Civil War. She puts her characters to the test as they struggle to reconcile their convictions and desires while the national conflict threatens to undermine and engulf their community.