Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sriracha Dipping Sauce and a Book Release

I'm sore.

I spent the weekend painting. The guest room Saturday, the master bedroom Sunday. The master is the one that kicked my butt. Tall ceilings meant lots of reaching, stretching and going up and down the ladder. Of course, it was all worth it. The rooms looks great and it's another item ticked off of our to-do list as we prep the house to go on the market after the first of the year.

Sorry, no pix, though. You know me, so eager to get started that pictures never even cross my mind.

All that work (yes, it was a lone endeavor) meant no cooking, though. Instead, I made hubby take me out one night and order pizza the next. The perfect trade off, right?

So today I thought I share one of my new favorite pantry staples
Sriracha sauce (pronounced sir-ah-cha). Nowadays, you can find this at most grocery stores on the Asian food aisle.

Now, I'm not a fan of super spicy foods. However, sometimes things need a little kick. And there's just something about the flavor of this Korean hot sauce that does the trick.

One of my favorite things to make with it is a dipping sauce that is perfect with chicken fingers, SWEET POTATO FRIES (love those) or anything else you might want to dip.

First, I start with some regular old mayonnaise and ketchup. About half and half.

Now add a little sriracha. And by a little, I mean a little. You can always add more later.

Whisk that all together and taste.
Hmm... Needs a little more sriracha.
Whisk again.
Taste again.


Another ingredient I add on occasion is Worcestershire sauce. It simply adds another dimension of flavor.
Like I said, I absolutely love this with sweet potato fries. Shoot, I love sweet potato fries just about any way, but the little bit of heat with the sweetness of the fries makes them even better.
Oh, and it's also tasty spread on burgers.

In other news, guess what is now on Walmart shelves?
I love this story. And I love that it's out right before Memorial Day because Kaleb, the hero in this book, is a wounded warrior who knows the true meaning of Memorial Day and pays tribute to it in the story.
I hope you'll consider picking up a copy.

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 www.MindyObenhaus.com.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Cheese Spread for a June Wedding

There's just something about a June bride, isn't there?

We have just under three weeks to go until THE WEDDING!!!

In case you haven't heard, daughter Carrie is marrying her guy Josh on June 11.

We had a wedding shower for them over the weekend, and it was as special as could be.

We ate goodies, played a fun "get to know Carrie and Josh" game, and opened presents.

What would a shower be like without presents?

And since the happy couple are big fans of the show "Fixer Upper," I got one of their favorite items from that show to adorn their new apartment.

We had so much fun, and enjoyed pampering our favorite bride. :)

A pensive moment. I think she was deciding between
a bite of the egg casserole or a cracker with
her mom's famous cheese spread.

Speaking of her mom's favorite cheese spread, that's the recipe I'm going to share with you today. It gets rave reviews whenever I take it anywhere, and not just from my family!

Jan's Wonderful Cheese Spread

(Yes, I shared this recipe back in 2012, but it deserves another showing!)


1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 jar Kraft Old English Cheese Spread
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing (like Miracle Whip)

2 teaspoons chili sauce
1 teaspoon minced onion
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon ground mustard

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

This goes together very easily using a food processor, but I've also done it by hand and it still works. 

First, blend together the cream cheese, cheese spread and mayo until they're smooth and creamy. 

Then blend the chili sauce, onion, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and ground mustard in a small bowl. 

By mixing these ingredients together before adding them to the cheese, you avoid those pockets of garlic powder in one bite and Worcestershire sauce in the next.

I like to avoid surprises like that :)

Add the spicy stuff to the cheese and mix thoroughly.

Finally, add the 2 cups of shredded cheddar and mix some more. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. 

Serve it with crackers and enjoy :) It's also good on celery sticks...Mmmmm....

One thing I love about this recipe is that you can switch it around - make it your own!

For instance, I often switch this ingredient:

For these:

My family loves the kick. You can ramp up the sizzle or tone it down to your heart's content!

You can also shape the whole mess into a ball ~ like one of those pretty ones you spend big bucks on at the grocery store. Just refrigerate the cheese spread, then shape it into a ball and roll it in chopped walnuts or pecans.

Like I said, this cheese spread gets rave reviews everywhere! Take it to your next picnic - folks will love you!

So let's talk brides! Missy has a wedding coming up soon, too, and will be starring as the Mother-of-the-Groom. I get to be the Mother-of-the-Bride for our do.

Does anyone have any advice for us??? Please share!

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: www.JanDrexler.com.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Tutorial: Make Your Own Delicious Walnut Milk!

Hi, everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and I've got a tasty treat for those of you who are looking for a way to boost their nutrition, cut fat, and lower cholesterol. Or, if you're like us, make something tasty for people who are lactose intolerant!
First, an odd fact: did you know that while approximately 15% of Caucasians are lactose intolerant, up to 50%-80% of Hispanic/Latinos are? (East Asians have the highest at reported nearly 90%... which made me think of all the Asian food dishes I know and realize almost none of them have dairy. Interesting.)
Hazelnut milk, about $8 a quart.

When our pediatrician first suggested testing our oldest daughter for a milk allergy, I thought that was something he always did with babies who were colicky. But then he told me that studies have shown Hispanics to be much more lactose intolerant than Caucasians. Luckily, none of my children have inherited any milk allergies, but my husband can only handle dairy in small amounts.

Almond milk, about $6 a quart

  That wouldn't be a problem except that he LOVES dairy. Ice cream, cheese, milk, yogurt. Everything that is made from cow milk, he craves. The good news: he also loves goat milk (which is easier for l.i. folks.) And the better news is that he thinks nut milks are delicious.
Walnut milk $14.99 a quart
The bad news (again)? It's SUPER expensive. Walnut milk is 14.99 a quart in some places (like Amazon). We have six kids and I cook on a budget. I just can't imagine spending $14.99 for something you can drink in a day or two!
So, I was thinking of all the walnuts we have and decided to try and make my own.
I know these are hazelnuts. But I also had a whole bunch of hazelnuts around and decided to try two different varieties.
 So, rinse the nuts you have, if they're whole. No need to peel. Put them in a heat-proof dish and cover with boiling water. Add a few squeezes of lemon juice and a few shakes of salt. This is important. Every tutorial I had mentioned this and I decided to believe the people who wrote, "Don't skip this. It helps soften the nuts AND it brightens the flavor. Otherwise it tastes like mushroom water." Yuck. Mushroom water does not sound appealing!
 We had several canning jars full of shelled walnuts. (We also have a whole garbage can full of last year's nuts in the shed, curing for this year!)
 Let the nuts sit in the boiling water for several hours. I added a few more cups of boiling water to the bowls every now and then. Some people soak the nuts overnight, but most tutorials said a few hours, so that's what I tried first.
Strain the soaking water and put the nuts into a blender. Then for every one cup of nuts, add four cups of water. Some people use filtered water. I didn't think it really mattered since our water is pretty good.
 Blend for several minutes or until the water is light and frothy.
 If you have cheese cloth, great, but we'd just ruined our last one by letting it sit in red cabbage (don't ask) overnight. So, a pillow case also works. (Clean, naturally.) Place the pillow case over a large bowl.
 Dump everything into the pillow case. Doesn't look too appetizing!
 Carefully lift the case and let the walnut milk run out. You can squeeze the bottom to get the very last drops.
 This was pretty thick and I added a few more cups of water to the milk after I took this picture. It really was rich and creamy. I put some in fresh brewed espresso right away and it was INCREDIBLE. So good!
Anyway, at this point, some people put in a drop of vanilla and some honey, or other sweetener. I put in 1/2 tsp of raw sugar (cow's milk has sugar so although we knew it wasn't going to taste like cow's milk, I still wanted it to taste like MILK).
 You can see how creamy it is.
 The flavor reminded me of agua de orchata, a rice drink my husband makes sometimes, so I decided to put on a dash or two of cinnamon.
 OH MY WORD. Delicious! My husband drank the whole thing and had NO issues at all. His stomach wasn't cramping and there was no nausea. Plus, it has great nutrition, low fat, and helps lower cholesterol? YAY! He's a pretty active guy but he's pushing 50 and we've got to keep that heart healthy!
 So, the hazelnuts were waiting patiently.
 I could tell this batch would be different.
 It looks very rich and frothy.
 This was before I diluted it a little further with some water but you can see the darker color. It smelled heavenly even before the vanilla. It reminded me of the best hazelnut coffee creamers, but without any chemical taste.
The kids said this one was their favorite, maybe because it was so flavorful, but I think I like the walnut milk. My husband had a second glass of this one and said he really couldn't choose between them. 

So, there you go! It's super quick and easy to make your own nut milks if you have the curiosity, or the need, for a non-dairy alternative in your house. It can last up to a week in the fridge and a lot of people use these milks for their smoothies... but outs disappeared in hours. YUM. Now I'm wondering about granitas and other frozen deserts. Maybe I'll try that next!

Until next time! Be sure to stop by my author page at Mary Jane Hathaway, my other author page Virginia Carmichael, or my blog at The Things That Last. We've been super busy with state testing, college stuff, baseball, a woolen mills tour, and an alpaca farm visit, but I hope to finish my newest historical in the next few weeks. (Wouldn't it be great to have an alpaca on the cover?? No?? Ok, fine...)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Favorite Fridays Revisted: Missy's Wilted Spinach Salad

Sharing a favorite post from 2012...

Missy Tippens, here. And I have a new favorite salad to share. Let me say, first, that it takes a little longer to prepare than Ruthy's cabbage salad (which I've eaten twice this week already!). But I love my new favorite. And it's still pretty quick...

Missy's Wilted Spinach Salad

Ahead of time, boil some eggs to keep on hand for when you want this salad. Store in fridge.

Ingredients for 2 large meal size servings:
Baby spinach leaves (I buy pre-washed to make life easy)
Mushrooms (about half a container)
1 shallot
4 slices bacon
2 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbs. Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tbs. sugar
2 Boiled eggs
(Wheat thins are optional to snack on while cooking and got included in the photo by accident!! LOL)

Fry bacon on medium heat.

While bacon is cooking, chop the mushrooms and shallot.

Remove cooked bacon to absorbent paper towels and and SAVE THE DRIPPINGS (a nice way to say grease). (For Kav and other vegetarians, just skip the bacon and heat some olive oil in the pan.)

Add scallion to the skillet and cook until translucent. Add a pinch of Kosher salt (optional, but something I feel the need to add to any vegetables I'm cooking!)

Add the vinegars, whisking constantly.

Lower temp a little and add the sugar, whisking constantly. (Be careful of how hot it is. The second time I made this, the sugar hardened and I made a very strange candy!) :) Cook a couple of minutes until reduced.

Meanwhile put however much spinach you want into a serving bowl and add the mushrooms.

Pour hot dressing over the spinach and toss immediately to slightly wilt the greens.

Top with crumbled bacon and chopped eggs. Toss.

Serve and enjoy!