Saturday, April 22, 2017

Cherry chip cake disaster!

Hello, everybody! We made the most DELICIOUS cherry chip cake for my husband's birthday. Unfortunately... it didn't want to come out of the pan! WHY OH WHY didn't I use Ruthy's recipe?? But I have pictures so you can laugh along with us. Since it's probably user error and not really not the recipe's fault, so I'll share it, too.
But first, some of our recent happenings!

 We have a new project. We've done trunk refurbishes before and it's a BIG project. This is a steamer that my grandparents used in the early 1900's and we've had it for quite a while. But now is the time! Stay tuned for updates...
 So, my kids raised a ton of money for the Cub Scout pack and this was one of the rewards, hitting the den leader with a pie. I rolled my eyes when I heard, but apparently to an 8 year old boy, it's the greatest thing EVER.
 They were all good sports about it...
Also one of the prizes they won- a walkie talkie set. This was very useful for when we delivered all those bags of coffee.They would run up to the door, and then they'd stop at the curb until I sad, "RETURN TO THE MOTHER SHIP".
 We just turned the last of our Easter eggs into deviled eggs and I hated to say goodbye. Our hens lay beautiful brown eggs and they turned out looking like dragon eggs!
 Also... baseball season is here. Goodness. I'm not a sports person but seeing these kids in their teeny uniforms... like goats in pajamas. SO CUTE.
Of course, all this running around is in between viruses. We're STILL fighting different bugs. This time it was the stomach flu. Yuck.
 Cherry trees are blossoming!! Pray for good weather and no hail. A few years ago we lost most of the cherry crop in the area. It was horrible.
 Those clouds better bring rain (good) but not hail (bad).
 SO. That brings us to this delightful creation!!
 Here is my husband accepting his fabulous cake. With a smile, no less!!

It was absolutely delicious, so I'm posting the recipe. Just make sure to let it cool before removing from the pans. I wasn't in the kitchen at the time and my younger kids didn't know that step. Now they do.

1 10 ounce  jar maraschino cherries
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tspt salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice

I also added about three drops red food coloring. Maybe that was my mistake?? LOL. Anyway, cream the butter, sugar, egg whites, vanilla and almond together. Mix the dry ingredients. Add, in alternating batches, the buttermilk and dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Add in the chopped cherries. 

Pour into greased cake pans and place in a preheated (350) for 35 minutes or so. GOOD LUCK. :D

All in all, it was delicious. We used a buttercream icing but you can also use a cream cheese frosting if you prefer. 

That's all for now! Be sure to stop by my authors pages at Virginia Carmichael or Mary Jane Hathaway for book news. 

All the Blue of Heaven was free last week....
And on the 27th, Purple Like the West will be on sale for .99! All to prepare for a new historical release on May 15th! 

Until next time!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Garlic and Cheese Grits Casserole from The Belle

Missy Tippens

I've got a good southern recipe for you today! For those of you who've said in the past that you can't even buy grits at your grocery store (and I'm sad about that!)...well, you need to order some online! You need to try this. I served it for Easter lunch.

I based my recipe on one from Trisha Yearwood. Click here for the original, which is a video of her making Garlic Grits Casserole. I watched it and jotted all the ingredients. :) Then I modified it because I wanted to double the recipe--and while I was making my decision about how much cheese to buy, someone grabbed the last two packages!! (I think it was a woman I had just been talking to who probably overheard me tell my husband that the cheese was buy one get one free!) If she hadn't already disappeared, I might have begged. LOL Instead, I came up with Plan B.

This is the doubled recipe, so it's enough to feed a crowd (probably 15-20).

9 cups salted water
2 cups Quick Grits
2 5-ounce packages of garlic herb cheese (I used Boursin)
8-ounce package extra-sharp cheddar, grated
1 stick butter + 2 TBS butter
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups cornflakes cereal, crushed

Boil the water. Stir in the grits and cook until thickened. Here's the garlic herb cheese I used.

Once the grits are thickening, crumble in the cheese. Next add in the 1 stick of butter (reserve the 2 TBS for the topping).

Then add in the grated cheddar. (Trisha's recipe only called for the garlic cheese, but the casserole I grew up eating also had extra-sharp cheddar, so I chose that for doubling my recipe.)

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.

Scoop out a ladle full of the hot grits and mix with the eggs/milk to temper it. I actually tempered with 3 or 4 ladles full. Then I stirred this tempered mixture into the pot of cheese grits.

Next, pour this into a large casserole dish. Mine nearly overflowed, so I ended up pouring this into a large, greased cake pan.

Crush the cornflakes (my daughter did it in a ziplock bag). Melt the 2 TBS butter and mix into the cereal. Sprinkle this topping onto the casserole.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or so, until bubbly throughout.

Enjoy a bit of southern tradition!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Make Ahead Meal Ideas with Lacey Blodgett

Spring has arrived.

Spring is different here. It means that planting and tilling and planning and organizing and equipment problems and time all pile on because to everything there is a season...

And when spring comes around, it's all hands on deck.

Seth and Lacey both work and they also are track-and-field and cross-country officials. That means that 2 or 3 days/week during April and May they're officiating at a meet either for the high schools or the local colleges and universities, including big invitationals. And did I mention they have three kids, 8, 6 and 2?

So Lacey has become that paragon of women who preps meals ahead of time and freezes them.

A cheesy ravioli bake: (Lots of recipes, here's an easy one!) 

Shredded, seasoned, cooked chicken for Tex-Mex dishes with canned black beans and enchilada sauce:

Chicken, Bacon and Ranch casserole: RECIPE HERE! And we use chicken breasts, not thighs.... 

Wrapped for the freezer!

Lacey does each casserole to feed "4" which means "2" because normal people eat... and this way there are some leftovers. And only one of the three kids will eat these... because they're kids. 

And as Lacey told me in a meme: "You don't hear lion cubs whining and saying "Ugh! This gazelle is too stringy! Can I have something else?????"

But it seems our human varieties are different! 

Within a couple of hours she had these all done, wrapped, labeled and ready to freeze... and this will make the next 3-4 weeks, on track-and-field nights, so much easier.... because busy working moms don't want to come home at 7:30 PM and cook....

I hope you had a great Easter and a wonderful time with faith and family! 

Here at the farm we're starting seeds at the house for later planting, we're loving warmer temps and there are so many seeds to plant... but we're excited about the thought of tens of thousands of pumpkin plants... either excited or crazy!

Sending you blessings as you jump into whatever spring brings your way, and if you an make it easier by prepping ahead? Go for it!

Multi-published author Ruth Logan Herne is so excited to have this sweet story releasing this week from Love Inspired!

She's living her dream from her farm in upstate New York and loves to chat with readers, cooks, writers and most anyone! Friend her on facebook, e-mail her at, visit her website or on Twitter @RuthLoganHerne 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Welcome Guest Chef Dana R. Lynn and her Jello Pretzel Salad

 Hello. Today we're welcoming my fellow LIS author, Dana R. Lynn. Dana's here to celebrate spring and the launch of her latest book.

Welcome, Dana!

            I love spring, don’t you? Everything seems so new. I love the smell as the plants grow and the blossoms bloom on the trees.
            This year, I realized that I hadn’t taken the time to really enjoy the season like I usually do. Mostly because my work has taken a crazy turn. For the past few weeks, I have been taking on a new role at work, filling in for an injured co-worker. Now, I am enjoying the work. And the challenge. I have found, however, that the change is exhausting.
            I decided that I needed to really take a step back enjoy the things around me. That’s why I am posting a picture of these chicks. 

See, my family loves our critters. Dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, even the occasional rat or two. We love them. A couple of weeks ago, we added six brand-spankin’ new chicks to our menagerie. Aren’t they sweet? They are Leghorns, and will be beautiful white hens. Plus, they will supply my family with fresh eggs, which we love. I can almost taste the quiche, and the omelets these eggs will make. Yum!
            And that’s another reason that I love spring. It’s so obvious in nature how God provides for us. Food, warmth, rain to help our plants grow.  God always has us right in the palm of His mighty hand, if only we would look around and see it.
            Okay, so in my zest to enjoy spring, I decided to be daring this Easter and forgo the normal chocolate cake. Gasp!!! I know. But I was in the mood for something different. So I got my mom’s recipe for her Jello Pretzel Salad. Yummy. It’s sweet and salty, and really easy to make.

1.     Mix 2 cups crushed pretzel pieces, ¾ Cup melted butter, and 3 T sugar. Press them into a 9 by 13 dish and bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Let it cool completely.

2.     Combine 8 oz. of cream cheese, 1 Cup sugar and 8 oz of cool whip. Spread over the cooled crust.
3.     Mix together 1 large box of strawberry jello, 2 Cups boiling water, and 2 Cups frozen, unsweetened sliced strawberries. Stir until thickened, then pour on the cream cheese mixture and chill until set.

I have a couple of pictures of this delicious dessert. You can see how much my family loves it… they didn’t even let me take the picture before someone stole the first piece. Still, it’s always a joy knowing that I can provide for my family that I didn’t care.

            In my new book, Plain Target, the hero and heroine are on the run from a killer who seems to be always one step away, even as they hide deep in Amish Country. The lesson that God will provide is one that they will need to learn and hold tight to. Here’s the blurb:

Horse trainer Jess McGrath only wants to clear her disgraced brother's name, but enemies keep coming out of the woodwork and danger only gets closer. Jess soon learns that no place is safe—and no one can be trusted…except for the last white knight she'd ever expect to ride to her rescue. Paramedic Seth Travis was the boy behind her high school humiliation, but he's also the man keeping her alive. When they find sanctuary in the Amish community, can they uncover answers in time to stop a killer—and resolve their past in time to build a future together?

            I love this cover. It gave me chills the first time I saw it.

            Thanks so much for having me at the Yankee Belle Café today. Always a joy to be here!
Biography:  Dana R. Lynn grew up in Illinois. She met her husband at a wedding and told her parents she had met her future husband. Nineteen months later, they were married. Today, they live in rural Pennsylvania with their three children and enough pets to open a petting zoo. In addition to writing, she works as an educational interpreter for the deaf and hard of hearing and is active in several ministries at her church. Dana loves hearing from readers and enjoys interacting with them on social media.


Thanks to Dana for visiting with us today. I just started reading Plain Target and am already hooked.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Potato Salad and House News

Mindy here, and yes, we've had an offer on our house. If all goes according to plan, we should be moving in about four weeks. Four weeks filled with packing, an Eagle Scout court-of-honor, packing, a graduation party, packing, a new grandbaby (due May 8th, and had better not decide to linger too far past), more packing and...did I mention packing?

Oh, my... This dream we've looked forward to for so long is about to take wing. It's as exciting as it is scary.

But in the meantime, let's celebrate. Sunday was Easter and most of the kids were here. The perfect excuse to smoke some meat and make potato salad.

I love potato salad, though I do tend to be rather picky about it. Not too sweet or too mustardy... Just your good old fashioned potato salad.

Of course, what's potato salad without potatoes.
I prefer red potatoes. Their texture is just better for potato salad. They're usually kind of small, so I boil them whole, just until tender, drain them and spread them on a baking sheet to cool enough for me to work with them.

Then I peel them with my bare hands. The skin usually slips right off , though I like to leave a little bit on. Then cube them up, toss them in a bowl and gather my other ingredients.
There are certain people in my family who don't particularly care for celery, so I limit it to one stalk, chopped finely, but you're welcome to use more. Then I round things out with a couple of green onions, two hard boiled eggs and a third of a cup of sweet relish.
After everything is chopped (well, except the relish), fold the ingredients into the potatoes.
Now it's time for the dressing. Which also happens to be the easiest part.
To a medium bowl, add 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper and 1/2 tsp. ground mustard.
Whisk until smooth and pour over your potato mixture.
Gently fold everything together.
And voila!
You've got the perfect dish for your next barbeque or a delicious side for smoked chicken or just about any other meat.
Throw in some veggies for a nice pop of color and you're good to go.

This really is one of my favorite summertime sides. And this recipe has the perfect balance of creamy and tangy.

Now it's your turn. Are you a potato salad fan? If so, how do you prefer yours, mayo or mustard? Vinegar? If not, what's your favorite summertime side dish?

Mindy Obenhaus lives in Texas with her husband and the last of her five children. 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, April 17, 2017

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter! Our Lord's Resurrection is the high point of Christian history, and the celebration of it is the most wonderful day in our church calendar, isn't it?

But for moms and other family caretakers, Easter Sunday can mean a LOT of work. A special day at church, followed by a dinner to celebrate the wonder of the season.

Not to mention the task of getting everyone dressed up in their finest!

Long ago, I learned the secret to making these demanding days work. You have to have two tools at your fingertips:

1) Learn how to plan ahead.

2) Learn how to prepare.

Planning ahead is simple - as long as you understand the logistics of what you need to accomplish. For this Easter Sunday, we had committed to providing four breakfast casseroles for the annual brunch at church, and then after church the family (all adults) were coming to our house for a turkey dinner with the fixings.

So I made my list and started preparing by doing my grocery shopping on Friday morning.

Saturday afternoon, I started to prep the ingredients for the items that needed to be cooked on Sunday morning.

On Sunday, before church, I baked the casseroles. Then before we walked out the door, I put our turkey dinner in the oven.

But what about the mashed potatoes? A turkey dinner just isn't a turkey dinner without mashed potatoes!

Here's my secret: I made the potatoes on Saturday afternoon.

YES! Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

serves 8-12
Good for special dinners or potlucks!

5 pounds potatoes
8 ounce package cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons butter

Peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through and ready to mash.

Meanwhile, cut the cream cheese into cubes, and place in your mixing bowl along with the butter.

When the potatoes are cooked (you want them slightly overcooked), drain them well, and put them in your mixing bowl.

Let them sit in there for a few minutes to melt the butter and cream cheese, and then whip. But be careful! You only want to whip them for a short time - maybe one minute - because you don't want it to become a starchy lump!

Now is the fun part. You can refrigerate the potatoes for up to three days (how is that for make-ahead sweetness?), but you need to find a good container.

If you have room for it, you could put the potatoes straight into your crock pot and stick that in the fridge. 

Or you can do like I do - I love those crock pot liners, so I put the potatoes in the lined crock pot, then close the liner, remove it, and stick that in the fridge.

Or you can put it in a separate bowl, and then put it in your crock pot in the morning.

However you decide to keep it refrigerated, don't forget to put the potatoes in the crock pot about five hours before you want to eat them.

I like to put a couple more Tablespoons of butter on top, and then set it on low. Now I can forget about the potatoes until the big meal! 

And what does that give me? Peace of mind and more time chatting with the family. Priceless!

What is your favorite food to make ahead?

Don't forget to pre-order Naomi's Hope!