Friday, September 21, 2018

One-pan Roasting and a Celebration!

Missy Tippens

Before my post...

Because Ruthy didn't brag on herself yesterday, I'm going to take a moment to do so today. Her book from Love Inspired, Her Secret Daughter, is a finalist for the prestigious Christy AwardTM!! Ruthy, we're so proud of you and excited for you!!


And now back to our regularly scheduled programming (though it's not nearly as exciting!)...

Recently, I had a craving and bought a bag of frozen tater tots (and also a bag of shoestring French fries!). Then what did I do?

I started back on Weight Watchers.

That first week, I was trying to come up with something quick to make for lunch and decided to roast some vegetables. While I was looking in the freezer to get ice, I saw that bag of tater tots. It was calling my name!

So I got out my WW app to see how many points they would be. A serving was a reasonable amount! So I decided to add them to my roasted veggie pan and cook them with no added fat.

In addition to the tots, I added some fresh cauliflower and green beans. I used Mindy's recipe for roasted green beans--click here. (I took these beans to a friends house for dinner and everyone loved them!)

I calculated the points for one slice of bacon as well as a little olive oil and decided it was a good plan. I had a healthy, low-point lunch! I added in fish (no points) for protein.

Here the veggies are cooked, nice and caramelized, the bacon crispy.

The beans ended up being a huge serving, but I keep hearing it's best to make half your plate be filled with veggies. I managed that even without counting the tots (a starchy vegetable).

This was such a great lunch! A successful weight loss program is about making good choices, and balancing that with taste and enjoyment and satiety. I think I did well with this one.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Loving Chrysanthemums and Other Fun Stories... :)

So youse all know I grow a lot of mums here on the farm.

Now not huge by mega farm standards, but huge compared to what normal folks do!

Two here... three there.... and a pair of pumpkins on the steps. For those normal people...

I started with 800 mums last year. 750 of them got planted. One strip hung around, hoping for a home but we didn't have enough pots....

They all sold within three weeks.... maybe 3.5. This is Chelsey Coral:

So this year (in all my bright wisdom) I ordered 1600 mums so we'd have some in October... And here's the cool part:

Mums blossom based on the hours of daylight in the day.

If they need 11.5 hours, they'll bloom when they get to 11.5 hours of daylight. This is Patty Purple but it's really more of a cranberry... and it's a huge plant, about 12" across, overflowing an 8" pot...

If they need 13 hours, they'll bloom then, and in my latitude that's like mid-August...

And the 12 hour mums are just starting to bloom now, right on time for mid-September.

This amazes me. It's like the perfect timing of God, that the plant knows when to initiate the budding process so it blooms at the right time. I know a lot of people who could learn something from these plants, a lesson about blooming where you're planted... and at the right time!

The bicolors are VERY POPULAR.... they change color, kind of like those kid toys that change color based on temperature... as they bloom,  the inside fades to another color and they are stunning.

Orange fusion... pearl fusion.... peach fusion.... Early plants that people buy quickly because they're so stinkin' pretty!

So the early mums have been selling and we're just bringing the later mums up... and they're stunning... and while it was a lot of work to care for 1600 flowers by hand, there is such a beautiful satisfaction in a job well done. To bring these plants to fruition, to have them ready for market and have customers love them!

Of course there were a few duds... a few guys who didn't form right, who listed right... or left... or just looked BAD....

But that was kind of like life, too, that not everyone (or every mum) calls from the same mold and that we can still love them, even if they're "needy" plants.

I love this season. We are blessed with color for over two months... green leaves, thick, green bushes, gorgeous flowers (although many customers told me that their normally lush summer flowers were just plain mad about the heat and drought and refused to stay pretty, so they're buying mums to spruce things up.

I understand.

I wilt then, too!

This is a lot like our writing.... we work and work and work and some of it stays, some of it doesn't measure up and a lot of it needs pruning.... and that's all right, too!

Life's analogies teach us in so many ways, a lot like that very clever savior talking in parables...

Knowing we had so much to learn!

Okay, cooking on the farm is taking a back seat to sales and moving pumpkins and flowers and more pumpkins...

So this week it's a flower report and maybe food next week.

But I did say maybe!

Multi-published, award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne is thick in the middle of harvest on their pumpkin farm in Western New York  but she still gets up in the wee smalls...the only quiet time in her house... and works on writing beautiful sweet stories because that's about her favorite thing in this world to do... along with baking, gardening, painting and playing with fourteen adorable grandchildren! Follow her on Twitter, friend her on facebook or stop by her website She loves to chat with people!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Stir Fry Pineapple Shrimp with Rice Noodles

Confession Time:

This healthy writer has been neither healthy nor writing much.

The reason?

School started.

I've been teaching for two decades or more, and during that time there have been many, many changes.

One thing never changes. The first two weeks of school are mind-numbingly exhausting. The night owl has fallen asleep by 9:00 more nights than my tired brain can count.  When I stumble in the door at the end of the day, cooking something healthy is just more than I can manage.

So there has been a lot of pizza, quick-cooking things like chicken tenders and fish fillets (the breaded kind you buy in the freezer section).

But my body is rebelling. It's craving something healthy.

So I'm hereby vowing to make at least something healthy each week so I can post about it.

Today's meal was relatively easy.

I didn't want pasta so I picked up some Thai rice noodles. I had never cooked with them before, but it was easy and they were perfect for the meal.

All I had to do was soak them in hot water and then add them to the stir fry. (On a night that making rice seems too laborious, this was a WIN!)

But I get ahead of myself.

Step one was to thaw some pre-cooked shrimp.

Step two was to stir fry the shrimp with a spoonful of coconut oil and some freeze-dried garlic.

Step three - add in some frozen pineapple. Simmer until the pineapple warms up.

Step four - add in the noodles and stir around until warm (about 3 - 5 minutes)

Serve and enjoy.

I did enjoy it. The rice noodles were light enough that they picked up a light flavor from the  pineapple juice and coconut.

Definitely a success!

And tonight I get a real meal out because I'll be celebrating my baby's 31st birthday!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Chocolate Chip Cookies and Rodeo

Well, it's county fair time all across south central Texas. And that can only mean one thing.


Where patriotism reigns.
Along with ropin',
Barrel racing,
Bronc and bull riding.
It's a tradition that's gone on for decades. And small town at its best.

But, boy, it'll work up an appetite and have your sweet tooth clamoring for something every bit as classic. And it doesn't get more classic than chocolate chip cookies.

Here's what you'll need:
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and shortening.
Add sugars...
And beat until well blended. 
Add eggs.
And, you guessed it, beat well. Until it looks like this.
With mixer on low, add flour, salt, soda and cinnamon a little at a time so as not to send flour flying everywhere. Once everything is incorporated, beat at medium to high speed for another minute.

Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if you're using them. I didn't, because there are some in my house who frown on nuts. Brats.
 Spoon onto ungreased baking sheet. I like to use a cookie scoop, like this.
I have a larger one I use when I'm making cupcakes. It helps keep everything nice and uniform. 
Bake 8-12 minutes, or until golden.
There's a reason these cookies are a classic. And they always get eaten.

Now it's your turn. Have you ever been to a rodeo? If so, what's your favorite event? And more important, what's your favorite cookie?


Three-time Carol Award finalist, 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, September 17, 2018

Welcome September with Butternut Squash Soup

With a deadline looming, I'm not cooking very much. Suppers have been pretty simple: hot dogs, salads, sandwiches... but that is all going to change this week.

Soup weather is here! Our weather is turning decidedly fall-ish this week with highs in the 60's, and even the 50's later this week!

As I wrote my menu for this week, I went hunting for some of my favorite soup and stew recipes, and ran across this one that I shared several years ago. I can hardly wait to make it again!

Butternut Squash Soup

I love fall. I especially love fixing those warm, comforting fall soups and casseroles after a summer of salads and wraps!

This soup is so easy - and all because of one simple ingredient.

Did you spot my shortcut ingredient? That bag of squash cubes! Peeled, cubed squash. All set for your favorite recipe.

Does life get any better than this?

Here's the recipe:

Easy Butternut Squash Soup

1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon oil - olive or coconut
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (or any other winter squash)
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
dash of chili powder for garnish (optional)

Buying the prepared squash saves so much time. The only other prep you need to do is to chop the carrots and onion, and mince the garlic.

Mini-lesson: Mincing the garlic is easy if you have a garlic press. But if yours is in the dishwasher because your son used it to make one of his delicious concoctions, you can mince your clove of garlic this way:

Lay the flat side of your knife on top of a peeled garlic clove.

Smash the knife against the garlic clove with a
sharp rap, then mince.

The veggies look fabulous, don't they?

Saute the veggies in the butter and oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the onion is translucent.

Stir in the squash, broth, salt, pepper and sage. Cook until the squash is tender - about 20 minutes or so.

Remove your saucepan from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Run the soup through your blender, half the recipe at a time.

Or use your hand-held blender. Go ahead. I'm not jealous.

Not at all.

Pour into a bowl, garnish with chili powder if desired.

This recipe makes two servings, or one if it's the main course of your meal.


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, September 14, 2018

Burned Cheese, Rubber Chicken, and Other Kitchen Failures

by Missy Tippens

<Big, huge sigh.>

It's been a kitchen fail type week for me. I have nothing impressive to share today.

First, I burned cheese toast at breakfast the other day.

But doggone it, I really wanted that toast. That was the last of the cheese!

So... I carefully dug through and discarded the scorched part...

Ta-da! There was good cheese underneath the burned "skin!" I had salvaged breakfast (much to my family's chagrin when I shared the photos with them). Some comments from them that I read AFTER eating my rescued cheese toast:

Oldest Son: Yummy cancer.
Husband: I would have advocated starting over.
Daughter: LOL Woowww
Middle Child (sent no reply. He probably just shook his head.)

So I figured I was done with kitchen failures for the week. Then I quickly proved that assumption wrong.

I made my favorite chicken recipe the other night (here's the recipe). And for some odd reason, it was as tough as nails!! I mean I could hardly cut it with a steak knife. Do y'all think certain brands of chicken are tougher??? I really wish I knew what to look for and what to buy (instead of just buying what's on sale).

Then yesterday, I decided to force myself to eat that chicken leftover for lunch (because I knew my husband sure wouldn't try eating it again!). I thought I'd steam some sugar snap peas to add a veggie.

I put the bag of fresh peas into a deep skillet, add a bit of water, covered the pan, and put it on high to steam. All fine.

But then I walked away and forgot it!! Thankfully, I heard it and remembered. But when I walked into the kitchen, I could smell the scorch smell.

Ugh. Another dish ruined??? I snatched it off the burner, then grabbed some tongs. Only the bottom layer was mildly scorched! I could salvage something healthy to go with my rubber chicken! haha

I gingerly lifted off the top layer and enjoyed them with my lunch as my teeth and jaws got a workout chewing the chicken.

I have a feeling next week will turn out better. It has to! :)


Thursday, September 13, 2018

A Season of Change on the Farm!

Well, it's that time of year, folks, when pumpkins of all colors...

And mums of all colors!!!

Come join us up front to be sold.

Bales of hay and straw to decorate people's yards.... Cute kids not included!

 Mums, just showing color! Pinks and yellows and reds and whites and purple and bronze and all shades in between! 1600 mums to choose from....

And the pumpkins!!!!

 Pink "Porcelain Doll" and peachy "Indian Doll" pumpkins, two beauties that have amazingly delicious dark orange squash inside... great for meals, pies, soups, whatever!

 Stacking pumpkins.... you have a "Fairytale" on the bottom, a Porcelain doll in between and a Speckled Hound on top... The Speckled Hound is like a buttercup squash and the other two are intense orange pumpkin.... Crazy good, and part of our French Heirloom pumpkin collection!

 A little side garden idea for customers... half a dozen mums (not quite blooming) and an array of pumpkins including one of our 60+ lb. Polar Bears.... a bale of straw... and a couple of stacks and single pumpkins finish it off. We do displays to give folks an idea of what they can do and at our wonderful prices, they can afford to have some real fun decorating for harvest... and then eat the decorations! Win!!!!
 Above are French Heirlooms: The green/tan are Fairytale, the orange are Cinderella and the bright red are Rouge D'Vif.... and yes, sometimes they cross and we get all kinds of fun mixed up colors (you can see a couple here!) but the pumpkin inside is still wonderful. Great pumpkin + great pumpkin = Great pumpkin! And we cook these (I roast them in the oven when it cools off) and use them in pumpkin muffins, pies, cakes, soups.... and just to eat.

Below you have more Indian Dolls and Porcelain dolls... and this doesn't even touch the BLUE PUMPKINS, the  Blue Dolls and the Jarrahdales (my personal favorite)

And the Tondos and Mini-warts and Warty Gnomes and One-too-manys.


It's the season of color. A season of change... and it brings us right to Thanksgiving and Advent... a season of waiting.

But that's a blog for another day because right now, on this pumpkin farm, we've got color galore... and books releasing, and cookies to bake and animals to feed....

What's fall like in your part of the world? Are you surrounded by "leaf peepers", tourists looking for peak color in the trees... or are you in aspen world, turning gold?

And I first saw Larch trees, all golden and needly in the Southern Tier of NY.... I didn't even know what a Larch tree was!

Or are you in the desert Southwest? Or coastal crazy?

I love my Northeast woodlands. I love the change of seasons, I love all four seasons... and I might be part dryad because I love trees....

But when I'm in the Southwest and see those vast vistas of colored rock and rim...  I see the beauty there, too!

Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne loves her quaint pumpkin farm in Western New York and all its trees and colors and critters.... Did you know the woodlands have lots of critters??? :) She's got a bunch of kids and twice that many grandkids and a couple of dogs, cats, way too many chickens and two mini donkeys that she loves.... and a huge assortment of toads, frogs and snakes. She does not love the snakes. Or having a flying squirrel in her kitchen. Or for that matter, a baby gray squirrel in her kitchen. Mostly she likes cookies in her kitchen.

Find her online at, friend her on facebook, follow Blodgett Family Farm on facebook or follow Ruthy on twitter @RuthLoganHerne.... And mostly she covets your prayers and gives hers in kind.

2 Chronicles 7:14 "if my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land..."

I'm in favor of that!!