Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Mexican Casserole - A Versatile Favorite

Mindy here, taking a break from deadlines and the mounting chaos of life, but I'll have more on that later.

To me, winter is the perfect time for casseroles. I mean, who wants to bake something in the oven for 20 minutes to an hour when it's hot outside. But when Jack Frost is nipping at your nose, there's nothing better. Especially if you're the one in the kitchen, staying nice and toasty.
And the only thing better than a nice, warm casserole is a versatile casserole recipe. Make it easy and that scores even higher. Add a little bit of Tex-Mex and...well, you get the idea.

I shared this recipe a few years back, but it's one that's worth repeating. You can make it with either chicken or beef, depending on what you have on hand.

Here are the basic ingredients:

Corn tortillas (I'm not sure how many. I usually buy a pack of 20)
1 can of Ro-tel (diced tomatoes with green chilies - I use the milder version)
1 onion, chopped
1 packet enchilada seasoning
1 - 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Now, depending on which version you're making, you will need:

1-1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (I used venison)  AND 1 can cream of mushroom soup


Approx. 4-5 cups of cut up cooked chicken (if I'm really in a hurry I'll pick up a rotisserie chicken at the store, but this is also a good use of leftovers) AND one can cream of chicken soup

We're making the beef version, this time.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Brown your ground beef with the onions. For the chicken, simply sauté your onions in a little bit of olive oil. Drain the ground beef.
Add the Ro-tel, chicken (if that's the version you're making) and soup and stir to combine.
Remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk together enchilada seasoning, tomato sauce, and 1 1/2 C water (follow directions on seasoning packet, but you don't need to cook it). Whisking in important, because it's gets rid of any clumps.
Add to meat mixture and stir to mix.

Cut tortillas into triangles. I usually get about 8 per tortilla.
Add a thin layer of sauce to bottom of greased/sprayed 13 x 9 in. pan. Top with tortilla wedges. I took this pic half way through, but you do cover the whole thing.
Top with half of the remaining sauce and half of the cheese.
Then add another layer of tortillas.
Cover with the rest of the sauce and top with cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is browned and sides are bubbling.
I can't tell you which version I prefer, because I love them both. My guys scarf it up. Hubby likes to top his with jalapenos or salsa. Guess I don't make it hot enough for him.

And if I'm feeding a crowd, I simply make one of each variety.

Another bonus is that you can assemble this ahead and freeze it. Simply thaw before baking. This is a great option when you're looking for a dish to take to someone in need. And if you take it unbaked, they can decide if they want to freeze it or bake and eat it right away.

And this casserole is extra perfect when life throws curve balls at you like a pitching machine.
So yes, I have a looming deadline. Yes, we are in full prep mode for our move to the ranch in a couple of months. And then we find out that I'm going to have to have surgery in a couple of weeks for a torn rotator cuff.

Okay, surgery is one thing, but when you're looking at a 4-6 month recovery, especially when your family happens to be planning a big move during that time, well, then it's appropriate to freak out. I mean this is my dominant arm. How am I going to be able help with said move?

The way I see it, I have two options. I either become very adept at using my left arm/hand or I'm going to have to learn to delegate. Something this I-can-handle-it gal isn't very good at.

(insert BIG SIGH)

So what would you do if you were in my shoes? I mean, aside from freaking out and praying. I've got those covered. Would you fill your freezer with casseroles? If so, what would be your favorite?

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, January 30, 2017

Ranch House Pot Roast

A nasty cold virus has been visiting our house off and on for the past month. I'll spare you the details, but one of the symptoms is bone-dragging weariness. So even though I've been able to get some writing done, that's about all that I've gotten done since Christmas.

Walking the dogs? Not in the wind and cold. Cleaning the house? No way - nothing other than laundry and dishes. Cooking? I'm not sure I even remember where my pots and pans are...

Well, maybe it isn't quite that bad, but I haven't tried any new recipes in quite a while.

The hardest thing this weekend is that we both feel like we really need to rest up for the week ahead, so we're missing the first few days of the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo! One of my favorite events of the year!!!

So I went back into the Yankee Belle Cafe archives, and found this fabulous recipe from a couple years ago. I had forgotten all about it!!! I'm getting a roast out of the freezer right now so we can have this during the coming week. :)

And we can all enjoy a virtual visit to the Stock Show!

Ranch House Pot Roast

The Black Hills Stock Show ended yesterday, so we don't have as many cowboys in town as we did last week. Which is sad.

Because face it, how often do you get to have a photo op with a bunch of rodeo cowboys?

My daughter, Carrie, with the Wrangler Rodeo Cowboys
a couple years ago. These guys are all brothers from Utah.
A friend of ours had his picture taken with the rodeo queens this year. Much to his wife's dismay!

But all week long we've been livin' cowboy culture and sheep ranchin' and horses.

On Thursday I went to the sheep activities over at the Central State Fairgrounds.

There was the National Sheep Shearing contest -

- where I learned tons about shearing sheep. Once those woolies are on their backs, they relax and let the shearer do his work. The top guys can shear a sheep in about a minute. That's a lot of wool in one minute!

I also got to watch the preliminaries of the North American Sheep Dog Trials. It's thrilling to watch those dogs work.

I also learned to weave on a rigid heddle loom, card wool and spin. The Black Hills Crafters spent the entire day demonstrating the "sheep to yarn" process.

On Saturday we had made plans to head over to the stock show again to watch the afternoon PRCA rodeo, but our youngest son was coming home for the weekend. I wanted to fix a special dinner for him, so I decided to use my trusty slow cooker and a classic western dish.

This recipe is from a Montana ranch in the 1890's, where the lady of the house fixed it for family and guests. This is no Yankee Pot Roast!

Ranch House Pot Roast
(Slow-Cooker version)


A medium-sized lump of lard
3-4 pound beef roast (chuck, round, or whatever you have)
2 handfuls of flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups beef broth or water
1 medium onion, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
6-8 potatoes - enough for all being served

I cook with lard occasionally - often enough to keep a
small container in the cupboard.

Heat the lard - a lump about the size of a small hen's egg - in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Season the flour with salt and pepper, and spread out on a plate. Dredge the beef in the flour. Brown the roast in the hot fat. Move the browned beef to your slow cooker.

Now add your broth (or water), onion, garlic, bay leaf and chili powder. Simmer until the onion is softened. 

Pour this over the roast.

Scrub or peel your potatoes, cut them in half, and arrange them on top of the roast.

Cover your slow cooker, turn it on low, and let it cook for 6 - 8 hours.

Now it's time to go to the stock show and rodeo!

If you're looking for a western stock show, here's a hint: Follow the nearest cowboy.

Before the rodeo, we wandered over to the show ring where they were judging the Simmental bulls.

This big guy can father a lot of calves by UPS!

I also fulfilled a long-time dream (close to 50 years!) by buying my first (and probably only) pair of cowboy boots.

Puppy photo-bomb!
Okay, here's a better view - 

I love these boots :)

The rodeo was great, we got to hear our friend's five year old grandson sing the National Anthem, and we got home in time for supper with the family...

...except the prodigal son had decided to go to a friend's house with his brother for a bonfire and supper there.

No worries. We have plenty of leftover beef, so I'm fixing barbecued beef sandwiches for supper tonight!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Reading this post again makes me want to head off for the Stock Show right now! But I'll wait until later in the week. I have a deadline looming on Wednesday, so maybe I'll celebrate by visiting the Stock Dog Trials on Thursday.

We'll have to take in the rodeo, too. There's a different show every night, so we can take our pick. :)

Of course, I'll have to wear my boots....

Have you ever been to a stock show or rodeo? Tell us about it!

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, January 28, 2017

15 minute dinner-- Huevos Rancheros and book release!

Hello everybody! Mary Jane here and I have a repost of a delicously quick and easy dinner that even a child can make. Super easy, very nutritious, and lots of protein.
 You'll need olive oil, some corn tortillas, some beans (refried out of a can is fine, but I'll use some that we made a few days ago), lettuce, eggs, salsa.
 Brush the tortillas with olive oil on both side, sprinkle lightly with salt, and put in the oven at 400F for 12-14 minutes. Some people like them softer, and some like them more crispy.
 While the beans are heating in the microwave, get the salsa bubbling on the stove. When it's ready, drop in your eggs.
 Put a lid on and wait about 3-4 minutes until the egg white is opaque.
Take out your corn tortillas and lay a few on a plate.

 First layer is beans, then the salsa and an egg. Add some lettuce and chopped tomatoes if you have any. A bit of salt and pepper and --- DINNER!

My ten year old son can make this dish, so don't be afraid! It's super easy simple, and nutritious, too. Lots of protein in the beans and egg, vegetables in the salsa and lettuce, and fiber in the tortillas. Low fat and good for you!

My sixth Cane River Romance book releases on Tuesday!! So exciting! I just love this best-friends-turned-more story. 
Here's the blurb for fun:

One magical bookstore, two best friends, and a whole cast of interfering busybodies determined to help true love happen!

Despite her miserable childhood, Flannery Beaulieu has always loved Christmas, and celebrating Christmas in idyllic Natchitoches, Louisiana is very the best of all. The carols, twinkling lights, smell of simmering gumbo, and the sound of zydeco music can't be beat. But when Flannery moves into a beautiful apartment over an old bookstore, her orderly life becomes a lot more complicated. She’s not only the pet project of every matchmaker in the city, but her best friend is acting like he doesn’t even want her around.

Remington Becket would never go a day without talking to her, even when he’s halfway across the world. Handsome, bookish, and as happy to be single as she is, Rem is like her other half.
Now, even though he’s living in the apartment right next door, Flannery is sure Rem is avoiding her.

It's shaping up to be the absolute worst Christmas on record and by the time a once-in-a-century blizzard hits, Flannery suspects moving back to Natchitoches― and into the apartment over By the Book― was a terrible idea after all.

But By the Book isn’t just any old bookstore. It’s a place where faith is real, grace is present, and the miracle of true love happens every day... if only Flannery has the courage to take a risk with her heart. 

That's all for now! Have a wonderful, healthy weekend and be sure to stop by my author page at Mary Jane Hathaway!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Brownie Tiramisu

Missy Tippens

Sounds amazing, doesn't it? This is a recipe my daughter found on Facebook and made while home for Christmas. I don't have but one photo! But I thought I'd share. She said it was really yummy. I resisted trying it. :)

Click here to see the original on Tasty on Buzzfeed.

My daughter served this in Mason jars.
The brownie layer:
1 boxed brownie mix (Duncan Hines dark chocolate is our favorite)
1/3 cup espresso or really strong coffee
1/3 cup canola oil 
1 egg
The cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream 
1/2 cup powdered sugar
16 ounces mascarpone cheese (good luck finding this at the grocery LOL)
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350ºF
Combine brownie mix, egg, liquid coffee and oil. Mix well. 
Pour batter onto a parchment lined 10" × 15" baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Let cool.
Mix together mascarpone, espresso powder and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream and gradually add in powdered sugar. Gently fold in mascarpone cheese.
Take the brownie off the baking sheet and cut out as many circles as you can. My daughter used the lid of the mason jar.

Place the brownie circles and cream in the jars, alternating layers, with the cream on the bottom. 
Chill for an hour or so. Dust with a bit of the espresso powder.
Okay, so our wasn't the neatest looking dessert, but it turned out yummy (that's second hand info of course). :)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Superbowl Sliders!

Ever since the beautiful and amazing Lacey Blodgett came up with these sliders, the family has been in love, love, love with the idea of ready-made little sandwiches.

Today we're going to look at Buffalo Chicken Wing sliders and Philly Cheese Steak sliders. The Philly Cheese Steak sliders can be layered with cooked peppers and onions, grilled mushrooms, etc. Whatever you'd like to layer in.

And if you love Hawaiian Rolls... Well, this is the perfect go-to, grab it meal!

First, you're going to cook the meat. We simmered the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, then forked it into shredded pieces once cooked and drained. Dredge shredded chicken with Red Hot Sauce, just enough to coat it all.

For the steak we used boneless sirloin. Lacey cut it into small strips and then grilled it on the stove in a frying pan with a smattering of olive oil. Don't overcook the beef. Get it "Mostly" done... It stays more tender that way.

1 12 or 16 pack Hawaiian Rolls
1/2 cup melted butter (if desired)
12 or 16 slices of cheese
1 1/4  pound (or a little more) cooked steak or chicken
Red hot sauce
Blue cheese dressing
Cooked peppers and onions or mushrooms or all three!

The Red Hot sauce and the blue cheese dressing are for the Buffalo Chicken Wing sliders... the cooked peppers and onions are for the Philly Cheesesteak sliders. These handy sandwich trays can be made ahead and then heated at game time... or any time!

Slice a full pack of Hawaiian rolls in half, crosswise, so you have tops and bottoms. They should stay connected.

Lay out a full 12 count pack of Hawaiian rolls in a 7 x 12" pan. (If using a 16 pack, use a 13 X 9" pan)

Layer rolls with cheese:

Then meat:

Blue cheese dressing:

Then cheese again!

Followed by the top half of the buns.

Now some folks like to pour 1/2 cup melted butter (or seasoned butter) over the top. Let sit 10 minutes, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so (until heated through and cheese is melted.)  This is a picture featuring the Philly Cheesesteak variety.... Same procedure, only you layer cheese, steak (seasoned with garlic, cajun, salt) cooked peppers and onions and more cheese... top with upper parts of rolls, cover with aluminum foil and bake!

These pull-apart sandwiches were amazing... We skipped the 1/2 cup of butter step and all but two were fine... two in the back got a little dark on the bottom, with no butter, but these were two trays full of delicious snacking, let me tell you! We did salad on the side, great football/Sunday food.

And of course when you have six cute kids overnight, they all wake up ready to start the day with some fun... Stealth baby/toddler attempted to destroy Grandpa's puzzle but left incriminating evidence behind!!!

 So the big boys, Logan and Eli tried to put things back together...

They were rewarded with homemade peanut butter cookies...

And then the big guys (8 and 6) decided to check out Grandpa's penny jars...

Sorting by dates...

Newer pennies are shinier!

And then, learning how to wash really cruddy coppers with salt and lemon juice:

Two little boys thought it was way cool to make the old, grayed pennies shine again! The oldest one they found that day was a 1916 penny.... and a couple of war-era steel pennies.

Who said we don't know how to have fun down on the farm??? :)

Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne loves writing sweet books and teaching sweet kids how cool the world around them really is. She lives on a farm in upstate New York where she is surrounded by deer, possum, coyotes, black bears, snakes, foxes and a yard full of tree fogs, spring and summer! You can find her on facebook, on Twitter @ruthloganherne or her website ruthloganherne.com

Here's a look at her latest book, an amazingly wonderful, heart-grabbing Western you can find here at Amazon: 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Tale of Two Daughters - and some lentils

I've been trying to eat more fresh foods, mostly plant-based, for a couple of reasons related to health and optimal weight. So last night I made a delicious recipe I'll share below.

I messaged a photo to one daughter and she said - Oh, that looks delicious.

I sent it to the other one and she said, "I can't say it photographs well." So I sent another photo and got back, "Still not my kind of meal. I had chicken."

I raised them both!

The one who ate chicken - she lived on blueberries and green peppers during one childhood stage. She's now the carnivore. She was bragging about the chili she made the other night that was beef, beans, and cheese. 3 proteins  - nothing extra - and she loved it.

The other one became a vegan in college. Her food is healthy and wholesome, but so low in calories that it can't put weight on a bird.

Did I mention I raised them both?

On to the recipe -

Last time I was in Whole Foods I noticed something new to me - black lentils. They're called the 'caviar of lentils' probably more for their color than anything else.  It certainly wasn't price - the whole bag was just $2.99.

I looked over some recipes, but then I had an idea -

I baked a sweet potato.

I cooked the lentils separately (boil for 20 minutes)

I roasted and shredded a beet.

Then I layered - the way all the finest restaurants do, right?

A squeeze of fresh orange over the top was the perfect moisture and unifying flavor. Oh, and I added some strips of Swiss Chard.

So tell me about your families. Do the family members share the same taste in foods?