Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Moving Woes

Well, the Obenhaus family has officially moved. And while the move itself was uneventful, we still had to unpack.
You know, all of those things that didn't go into storage. Those things we can't live without for the next 4-6 months.
This 900 sq ft camphouse that was built as a weekend getaway is having a hard time supporting almost twice as much stuff.
But things are coming along, albeit somewhat slowly. We still don't have internet and aren't sure when we will get it. We were supposed to have it Saturday, but apparently there were too many trees between us and the tower to allow us to receive the broadband signal.
Ah, the joys of going rural.

The dogs are in heaven, though.
And who can blame them when you get to have morning tea/coffee on the porch and look at this.
The rest will work itself out.

Unfortunately, I've been so busy unpacking and trying to find a place for everything, that I haven't done much cooking. So as I was remembering one of my favorite sweet treats and lamenting not having the time to bake, I though we would revisit one of my all-time favorite desserts.


When life hands you lemons, forget the lemonade. Make Lemon Bars.
Actually, lemon bars are more than just a Texas fave, they're a quintessential southern tradition. 
One problem I have with these tasty treats, though, is that sometimes they're too sweet. I prefer mine with a little more tang. And this recipe has the perfect balance of sweet and citrus.
Best of all, they're really quite easy to make. For years, I opted for a box kit but, really, this scratch-made version doesn't take much longer.
**FYI - refrigeration time is required, so plan accordingly**

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil.

For the crust you will need:
2 sticks of cold butter (I prefer unsalted)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix dry ingredients together, then cube butter before adding.
Cut butter into the flour, sugar, salt until crumbly, yet incorporated.
Then dump into foil-lined pan.
And press to cover bottom of pan.
Bake 20 minutes or until golden.

While that's baking, let's make the filling.

For the filling, you will need:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
6 eggs
Zest and juice of 5 lemons
Okay, so this is where homemade versus a box-kit might cost you a little more time, because you have to zest and juice the lemons.

First, you want to wash them. Yes, that means soap. Just be sure to rinse them well before drying.
I have three larger lemons and two smaller. What can I say, one store had big ones, the other small and I failed to purchase them at the same time.

Now I'd like to introduce you one of my new favorite kitchen gadgets.
This is called a microplane. You can use it for finely grating lots of things, like citrus peels, whole nutmeg, cinnamon, etc. I used to just use the fine grate on my standard cheese grater, but I was over the moon when I found this in my Christmas stocking. I can't tell you how much easier it makes things. And no more bloodied knuckles or chipped fingernails.

Simply drag the grate across the peel and it traps everything in this little channel. Then you simply tap what's there into the bowl. 
Once all you're lemons are zested...
Simply cut them in half and squeeze out all the juice, taking care to strain out any seeds. A task I usually just use my hands/fingers for.

Now, whisk together your flour, sugar and eggs until smooth.
Then add the lemon zest and juice...
And stir to incorporate.

Once your crust is done...
Pour the lemon mixture over the top.
Put it back in the oven and bake for another 20 minutes, or until just set.
Allow to cool, then cover and refrigerate 2 hours to overnight.

When ready to serve, lift foil from pan and dust with powdered sugar.
Cut into squares and serve.
So pretty. SO tasty.
And that citrusy tang is perfect for summertime or a nice compliment after any rich meal.

Okay, so the microplane is one of those things I couldn't live without. At least it doesn't take up much room. And now I can't wait to use it to make some lemon bars.

Lord willing, I will have internet next week so I can give you the scoop on all that's been going on here at the ranch. Until then...

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 www.MindyObenhaus.com 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ravioli Stew

This is a recipe I made quite often when our children were young, mostly because it's one of those freezer recipes (make two, freeze one) that saves bunches of time. And it's so versatile that you can use whatever you have on hand!

Ravioli Stew

ingredients: (double the amounts if you intend to freeze half for a future meal)

1 pound ground beef, sweet Italian sausage, or ground pork - choose your favorite or go meatless
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the kind in the green can)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup chopped onion
canned tomatoes - sauce, crushed, diced - however you like them
1 quart broth - beef or vegetable

1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon parsley flakes

1 package frozen cheese filled ravioli

Brown the meat (if you're using it) in a large pot. Drain and return to the pot.

Add the onions to the meat and cook them until they're transparent.

Add the rest of the ingredients (except ravioli) and bring the stew to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or so. Stir occasionally, and add some water if the stew gets too thick.

At this point, you can put half of the stew in the freezer and save it for a busy day.

In a separate large pot, cook the ravioli according to package directions.

Put one serving of cooked ravioli in a large bowl and ladle the stew over the pasta. Top with additional Parmesan cheese and serve with a salad and some garlic bread. Seasoned croutons are also a great addition! Just sprinkle them on the top.

Like I said, this has been a family favorite for years!

This post is actually and two-in-one when it comes to meal ideas. :)

One thing my husband and I like to do on these long spring and summer evenings is to take a picnic to Custer State Park, find a quiet pull-off, and enjoy the wildlife.

A week or so ago, we stopped by a little grocery store and picked up some deli sandwiches. We found our quiet spot and watched the bison and antelope while we listened to the meadowlarks in the meadows around us.

Have you ever heard a meadowlark's song?

Meanwhile, we watched a storm pass by to the north.

The pictures don't convey even half the beauty.

Before long, the storm had passed, we had finished our supper, and we went on our way.

The evening was wearing on and we wanted to get home before dark. As we drove along, we spotted these two young bison making their way down a hill. They must have been grazing on top during the afternoon, but now were on their way to a watering hole and a quiet place to spend the night.

It's always a sad moment when we turn our truck toward home after a foray into the Hills, but the end of the day must come, right?

We'll be back soon, though. Maybe this week....

Don't forget - Naomi's Hope is coming out next month!!!

You can pre-order Naomi's Hope through my website: www.JanDrexler.com

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 20, 2017

Best Pork Roast EVER

Hi everybody! Mary Jane here. I saw a recipe that was called "Best Pork Roast EVER" and I remember thinking it sounded a little iffy, with its ten cloves of garlic, five different spices, and extended broiler/ flipping after two hours. But I jotted down some of the specifics and decided to try it. Now, my recipe doesn't have the rosemary or parsley or chopped garlic added to the bottom. I also only used carrots and potatoes for the veggies (the original had corn cob pieces, which I thought was odd). 

So, one large boneless pork roast.
2 TBS of season salt
2 TBS of pepper
2 TBS of garlic powder
2TBS of onion powder
-- rub into the top (not the fatty bottom)

Three cups of beef broth in the bottom of a stock pot. 
Add 6-7 chopped potatoes
about two cups carrots
TEN cloves garlic, whole (I KNOW, I was thinking the SAME THING)
One large sliced onion.

Lay the pork roast onto the veggies and broth, cover with foil and roast at 325F for two hours or so. Make sure the foil has a little hole for venting.

 After two hours or when the pork roast is done, take off the foil, turn to broil, flip the roast and replace for ten minutes.
 Eeeek. Looking burned. But I'm standing my ground. I belieeeeeeeeve... Flip again under broil for ten minutes.
I'm wondering if I should stop here after four minutes but I have resolved to follow the recipe. Unlike my usual way of playing fast and loose in the kitchen.
 Now, after ten minutes,  the top is very dark and crispy. Holding onto hope... Flip again.
 Bottom looks more burned. Flip again after ten minutes.
 Top looks VERY dry and I'm pretty sure I ruined the roast. Quietly researching recipes for "dry pork roast leftovers".
Leave it on a plate to rest for 30 minutes. (Like it did anything! I was the one hefting its fatty rump over and over. )
After 30 minutes, I dry my tears and start slicing. Hmmmmm.... Juice is flowing onto the plate. That's promising.
After cutting through the seasoned crust, it's very tender. I take a nibble... and rejoice!!! It is DELICIOUS!!! Tender, moist, flavorful, savory, fragrant, and NOT burned. *whew* HUGE relief!
 A few of the seasoned potatoes and carrots (and garlic, YUM) from the bottom of the pot.

 MMMMM, with a little of the "gravy". The original recipe had something about making it into a dark roux. I thought it was perfect the way it was.
So, there it is! The most perfect pot roast ever!! I hope everyone is having a wonderful week. 
Be sure to stop by my author pages of Mary Jane Hathaway and Virginia Carmichael for more author news!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Quick Fried Okra

Missy Tippens

The Belle, here, sharing another recipe for fried okra. I shared the regular way to make it before here.

But the other day I had a nice bag of fresh okra from Sprouts but didn't want to spend much time fixing it. Sooo...

Here's what I did:

Fresh okra, sliced
Olive or canola oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
Panko bread crumbs (mine were herb, not plain)

Here's my beautiful batch of okra, washed.

Then I cut off the tops and sliced.

I heated an iron skillet, then added a few drizzles of oil. (Not deep. I didn't even cover the bottom of the skillet.)

Then sprinkle on some bread crumbs and a few pinches of salt and grinds of pepper.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until desired tenderness. Be careful not to burn your bread crumbs! Mine got a little too dark but tasted okay.

The breading doesn't stick very well this way, but it tastes very similar (my breading often falls off while cooking anyway since I don't have a deep fryer).

This was a good substitute for the more time consuming dish!