Friday, January 18, 2019

Baked Sausage Canneloni

Missy here, and I'm going back to comfort food this week with a favorite from a couple of years back. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! Here it is... And my wishes for a great January weekend!

I saw this wonderful, ooey, gooey, cheesy recipe on Pinterest and knew I had to make it. So I pinned it to my cooking board. Then when we were discussing our menu for Christmas Day (and my traditional beef roast was axed), I decided to make pasta and went straight to Pinterest.

The recipe for Baked Cannelloni is from Johnsonville (Who else besides me can't say that name without thinking of the old TV commercial where they call all the neighbors-- "Johnsonville braaaats"?). :) You can find the recipe at Johnsonville.com by clicking here.

I'll tell you right now that the recipe was delicious. But it was very time consuming. Probably one that I won't make again for that reason. Of course, part of the reason it felt so tiring was that it was Christmas Day, and I'd been up until 3:30 am getting ready. Then had cooked breakfast, gone to church, and then cooked lunch. So maybe I should give it another chance! If you don't mind all the steps, then be sure to try it. Everyone loved it.

You can find the list of ingredients at the original link. A couple of notes:
--I used 1 package sweet Italian sausage links.
--I could NOT find cannelloni pasta at Kroger or Publix so just bought large shell pasta (I was afraid manicotti tubes would break while stuffing them with meat).
--I only baked for 30 minutes and that was plenty.

I'll share my photos...

Cooking the vegetables.



The sausage before removing from the casings (Oops. I bought store brand without thinking about where the recipe came from!)


Making the béchamel sauce. Which is basically the white gravy that I make (with sausage) for our favorite breakfast food. :) For this recipe, you add cheese. :)


Adding the egg yolks.


The baking dish with some of the béchamel sauce for the first layer.


The shells stuffed with the meat, vegetable and sauce mixture.


And, no big surprise, with the craziness of Christmas Day dinner I forgot to take a photo before we nearly ate the whole pan of pasta! Here's the last little bit with the yummy browned cheese on top.


So, if you don't mind a recipe that takes a good while to prepare, you may want to give this one a try. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Feast of the Epiphany: Go to Bethlehem!

The Twelve Days of Christmas aren't just song lyrics....

They're a season of Christmas celebrations, a wonderful way to look at the waiting days of Advent (the start of a new church year in many churches) and the celebration of the birth of that sweet baby Jesus and then.... the celebration of the Holy Family and the Feast of the Epiphany.

So much to celebrate, and our church had an absolutely wonderful Epiphany event....

When that Caesar Augustus put that call out to come and be counted and pay your taxes (hey, I'm from New York, I know what this all means!!!!) he meant it! So the church set up a Marketplace... a Bakery.... Food.... The Three Wise Men (although we don't really know how many there were, we just know of the three mentioned gifts) and a lovely visit from Joseph and Mary with their new baby... (who just happen to be new members of our church and they registered and had a BABY so that got them an instant invite to be part of the Epiphany Celebration!)

The nice thing is they didn't run away! And they were adorable.

We took Eli, Xavier, Finn and Lena to Bethlehem.

First you had to walk past the Roman guard, show him your "tax" (a food donation for the local food shelf) and go inside and be "counted". Then a name tag and then out to find your way around the unfamiliar city.

Wise men, looking for a star in the East, greeted us.




A bakery with sustenance was located nearby.



And there was a marketplace (they set up a big tent in the back of church!) with jewelry making,



handmade tiles,


weaving stars...


 and every child was taught how to spin a dreidel and how to play the game.  Only I was too busy with the little spinners to get a picture of them. Oops!

And then there is this, an old way of blessing a home for Epiphany:


The "20" represents the 20 centennials that have passed since Christ's birth... C+M+B represent the three kings, Caspar and Melchior and Balthazar and the 19 is the number of years past the centennial change. (Caspar is also known as Gaspar and/or Kaspar)

The house blessing is done with chalk... you put the figures and letters near your front door and you ask God to bless your home. The "C M B" also represents the blessing in Latin:

Christus mansionem benedicat

Here's how these Carmelite sisters did it: 

http://www.carmelites.net/news/chalking-door-epiphany-house-blessing-2015/

I had never heard of this tradition, but I love it!

And in the church kitchen, lovely women had make vast pots of turkey soup for the hungry masses coming to their town to be counted.

And before it drew to an end, the young couple playing Mary and Joseph arrived with the baby...

I was in the middle of dreidel with six little kids, so I couldn't snap a picture of them, but they were darling....

And this beautiful day concluded the weeks of prayerful preparation, joyful anticipation, some folks with flu and some tragedies have unfolded around our town, our neighborhood...

So the thought of praying for blessings and safety for us and others is a wonderful thing to do right now!



Wednesday, January 16, 2019

On a Cold Winter's Night

The oven is still broken - no time to get a workman here since he only comes during the day when I'm at work - so I improvise. This was dinner last night.



But I love it, so eating a variation each night really isn't a hardship.

But these cold winter nights have me hankering for some comfort food. To me, that says pot pies. Since I can't cook one at the moment, I figured I'd share one of my favorites that I've done before. I'll just pretend I get to eat it!

Salmon Potato Cheddar Pie

I really should call it Cheddar Salmon Cheddar Potato Cheddar Pie.

I'm guessing you figured out the key ingredient. :)

The recipe is one of my creations and it's really simple.

First I boiled potatoes and baked the salmon filets.  (The amount of each would vary according to your preferences. I definitely err on the side of potatoes.)


Sacrilege here - but I used deep dish pre-made pie crusts. This is easy, remember.  Those of you who are pie crust whizzes, feel free to whip up your own. I pre-bake the crust for about ten minutes, just long enough to make sure it won't be soggy.


Now comes the fun part.

A layer of shredded cheddar, a layer of potatoes.







I added in some sweet onion to this layer. It gives it a nice bite.

More cheddar.

I crumbled the salmon on top.

More cheese and potatoes.




I used the Kraft Triple Cheddar shredded cheese.


Place the crust on top. Then, you guessed it - sprinkle more cheese over the crust.  The first time I did this it was because I only had some broken pieces of crust left over and I was trying to fill it up. It was so delicious that it became an official step in the recipe.

Heat for about half an hour or until everything is heated through and the cheese is nice and melty. I took Fenway for a walk during this part and it was the exact right amount of time.



Enjoy!


Last week (I think), Ruthy shared a spectacular sunrise photo. I snared the matching sunset photo today from my classroom window.  So pretty.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Braised Short Ribs

I love short ribs. They're like a decadent comfort food. And I've had some sitting in my freezer for months, just awaiting that perfect day when I was motivated enough to take the time to fix them. Well, that day came this past weekend. It's not that they're difficult to make, but the prep does take a little time. Of course, once the prep is done, that's about it. They cook, you serve. Easy peasy.


Here's what you'll need for these deliciously braised short ribs:
  • 3-4 lbs. short ribs, you can use boneless or bone-in
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • Bacon, cut into small pieces (about 4 strips if you're using thick-sliced like I did or 6 regular slices)
  • 2-3 tablespoons cooking oil 
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 32 oz beef broth
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Season your ribs with salt and pepper.
Then lightly dredge in flour.
Set aside.

In a large Dutch oven, over medium heat, cook the bacon until all of the fat is rendered and the meat is crispy, but not burned.
Remove bacon to paper towel.

Crank up the heat to high and add your oil to the bacon fat. Brown the ribs in batches.
Remove from pan and set aside.

Lower the heat and add the carrots, onion and garlic.
Stir that around for a minute or so, then add a little bit of the beef broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate all those little bits of meat.

Add the remainder of the broth, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil.
Now add your browned ribs and top with thyme and rosemary.
And don't forget about that cooked bacon.
Cover and place pot in oven for two-and-half to three hours.

Remove from oven and allow to rest with the lid on for at least 20 minutes.
Oh, the aromas of this feast will have you counting the seconds.

I like to whip up a batch of creamy cheese grits to serve with these. You can find that recipe here. But if you prefer, mashed potatoes are an option, too.

So here we are, two weeks into 2019. Life has been fairly peaceful here at the ranch, which is good since I have proposal due at the end of this month and I'm also working through line edits. Though I did have to pause to celebrate my baby's birthday Sunday. How he can be 20, I have no idea. It seems like only yesterday I was cradling him in my arms. Time sure has a way of flying by, making me realize just how important it is to savor every moment. Something that's hard to wrap your head around when you're dealing with the terrible twos or three AM feedings. Then one day you wake up and realize those challenges may not have been so bad after all. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

Now it's your turn. What are some of your favorite comfort foods? Do you have a favorite dish you love to indulge in but don't make it very often because it requires too much effort? 



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 www.MindyObenhaus.com 
  

Monday, January 14, 2019

Egg Roll Bowls

Jan here, with another healthy and simple meal. Actually, Ruthy shared a similar recipe a year ago or so, but it's worth repeating!

We have this one quite often, mostly because it is SO easy!



Here's what you need:

1) Protein. I often use ground beef or diced chicken, but you can use any kind of protein you want. Pork, tofu, scrambled egg... Sometimes I even mix and match.

2) Veggies. I use a bag of coleslaw mix as my base, and then add whatever I have on hand. Onions are always good! Slivered carrots, corn, snow peas, chopped kale, garlic.... Again, I often mix and match.

3) Oil and other liquids. I love to start with sesame oil to soften the onion and garlic, and finish off with soy sauce. Oyster sauce adds a nice flavor, too, but I don't have that very often. You really don't need very much liquid - enough cooks out of the cabbage.

4) Herbs and spices. Don't forget the ginger! A couple teaspoons of ground ginger MAKES this dish. Add other flavorings as you like - cilantro is great, and so is a dash of cayenne.

Set your burner to medium heat.

Use a big pot (I use my 3 quart cast iron dutch oven - it's like a deep frying pan). Cook your meat then add your veggies. Pile the sliced cabbage on until you think the pan is going to overflow...then add another handful.

As the cabbage cooks down, stir the mixture carefully. It only takes about five minutes for the veggies to cook through without turning to mush. 

Taste, and add more soy sauce if needed.

Serve in a large bowl either as it is, or serve it over a bed of rice.

Yummy!


One reason for our quick dinner this week is that the weather has been warm and mild! It won't last, so we take advantage of the break to take refreshing trips up into the Hills.


We really don't need an excuse to go hunting for these views, do we?


*sigh* 

There was no wind the day we were up here, in one of our favorite spots just west of Mt. Rushmore, and all was silent. A few pecks from a woodpecker. A chickadee's chatter. Silence.



There's nothing like it to refresh my soul.



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 Drexler.com.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Instant Pot Potato Soup

Missy Tippens

I made some really tasty soup this week--but of course didn't think to take photos until the very end. However, I still want to share the recipe!

I used this recipe as my guide-- from the Delish website. Click here.

But because of some dietary restrictions from one of our family members, I made little adjustments. Here's how I did our version...

In my Instant Pot, I used the sauté setting and cooked bacon (about 3 slices) and about half a bell pepper (I used an orange pepper). Then I added vegetable broth (I thought I was opening a box of chicken broth!). So since I didn't have the chicken flavor (and couldn't use bouillon cubes), I added some McCormick poultry seasoning. I also added some Italian seasoning since I couldn't use onion and garlic.

I peeled and cubed 6 potatoes and added them. Then I closed the Instant Pot and set it on high for 8 minutes.

Once it was done, I let it vent naturally for about 10 minutes and then released the pressure.

I set it back to the sauté setting and added the cornstarch slurry. I used lactose-free milk (no cream). It said to stir constantly during this phase so I was careful to do that. It thickened up nicely.

Also, it needed salt added!

The recipe recommends using an immersion blender but I don't have one (and don't plan to get one because of I know of two people who have been injured using them). So I used my hamburger/potato masher and it did a fine job! I don't mind some pieces of potato in mine.

We really enjoyed it! I did snap a photo of my daughter's bowl before it was gone. :) Not too pretty but so good. And it would have been great with shredded cheddar and some bacon on top!



www.missytippens.com

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Belgian Waffles for the Win

The Yank is in the house!!!!

This is one of our favorite things to have with some of the grandkids...

Belgian Waffles. And I hunted and hunted for a recipe that worked, then Sandy Jamison found this one online (Sandy is my son-in-law Jon's mother, and she is the sweetest thing!!!)

And she one-upped me because it's the best. And it's not hard. And no yeast...

I used to have one of those old metal waffle makers. You know what I mean. The kind you see at garage sales.

WALK ON BY!!!!

Seriously, I burned or messed up so many things using that thing, and I'm pretty sure it was trying to burn the house down, too!!!

But then I got a Belgian Waffle Maker for Christmas a few years ago.

OH MYLANTA.

Nothing burns. (I did discover that you have to turn the magic dial to get it hot enough, duh on me.... because the old one just went automatically to gazillion degrees/scorch/burn/smoke)

Once I realized that, we've been besties!!!

LINK TO THE RECIPE HERE BECAUSE I CAN'T BLATANTLY STEAL IT, CAN I????


This is what the batter looks like when you've folded the egg whites into it. That's about the only tricky part, friends. You whip the egg whites and fold them into the batter... and do not skimp on the butter in this recipe....

Also, it calls for Aunt Jemima self-rising flour but I don't have that.... And I make my own self-rising flour by doing this:

1 cup flour + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt.  (Mix together)

And that gives you self-rising flour!



My beloved waffle maker.....


PHOTOBOMBED BY NEW YORK REAL MAPLE SYRUP!!!!! Just like Fiji Water Girl at the Golden Globes!!!!

And a finished product:

You can add fruit, but I wanted mine with just a little maple syrup... and whipped cream. So good! They are light and fluffy and melt in your mouth. I'm happy just talking about them!

And then there's this, the changing look of Western New York. A local reporter had shown the difference between last January 3rd and this one.... One was insanely cold, this year wasn't.

But this is a sunrise two days ago.... gorgeous because the cloud bank hanging low over us is a gift from Lakes Ontario and Erie, but when the sun first breaks the horizon, the rays are diffused into this gorgeous palette of colored light:


Isn't that stunning?

But then the next morning we had pouring rain and snow fog... together. An oddity, for sure:


Our temps have done their see-saw dance for ten weeks. A bitter cold and snowy November, then a mild, muddy December with a dusting of Christmas snow... and then mud. And more mud. So much rain....

Folks are fond of saying "You don't have to shovel it", but it's just dreary, my friends! So when the sun peeks through, you get all Ray Bradbury  "All Summer in a Day" kind of excited!

So that's it for this week. Much going on with the writing angle, I'm having so much fun and very excited to have THIS WESTERN collection coming out soon..... 

AND YOU CAN PRE-ORDER IT HERE!!!!


Followed by my first full-length prairie historical in March!

I love delving into the past and who doesn't love, love, love prairie romance??? :)

The wind is howling tonight... temperatures are dropping quickly and it feels like winter's got his sights on us at last.... but there's a kitten pestering my shoulder and food in the kitchen.

God is good!

Multi-published, award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne writes beautiful romances and women's fiction in small towns with big hearts, not unlike the one she calls home! Write to her at loganherne@gmail.com, visit her website ruthloganherne.com  or friend her on facebook!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Happy Hollister Book Club

One of the things that I love about being a writer and a reader is how scenes from a book will just stick with you.

The scene I'm writing about today has stayed in my imagination for over 50 years. I'm sure I’ve talked about this before - either here or on Seekerville - about how I used to get The Happy Hollister books in the mail every month when I was a child.

I seriously wanted to be part of their family, because they always did such cool things and had such fun together.

For the uninitiated, The Happy Hollisters are a family of five children - Pete, Pam, Ricky, Holly and Sue - who lived with their mother and father in a rambling house on a lake in the fictional town of Shoreham. (I don’t think I ever really knew where Shoreham was, but it still exists in my imagination as sort of a utopia - except for the resident bully, Joey Brill.)

Mr. Hollister owned The Trading Post and Mrs. Hollister stayed home to take care of the children, their donkey Domingo and their dog and cat, but they weren't often home they were always off on fun trips solving interesting mysteries. As an adult I look back at the idea that these children, the oldest of whom was 12, were off solving mysteries that the adults couldn’t solve as kind of humorous, but as a child I loved it and I looked forward to getting the two books in the mail each month. That was far and away the happiest day of the month.


From the website:  Over one million children joined The Happy Hollisters Book Club between 1962 and 1971—were you one of them? Joining was easy: you (or your parents) simply sent a dime (yes, one thin dime!) to become a member. In exchange, you received a copy of The Happy Hollisters and the Haunted House Mystery, sold in bookstores for a whopping $1.95. The initial volume was yours to keep, even if you canceled your membership immediately. If you didn’t cancel, you continued to experience the joy of reading The Happy Hollisters, receiving one new volume each month for the low cost of $1.00 (plus shipping and handling)—what a swell deal that was!


I don't remember this part, but I sure do remember getting the books every month!

I also found this on their website:

"Andrew Svenson’s goal in writing the youth mystery novels series was to encourage a love of reading in children; each book was planned so that the first page would draw the reader in with a dangerous or mysterious situation, and each chapter would end with a cliffhanger or exciting twist that encouraged the child to turn the page and keep reading."

As an author, I love the connection so many *cough 50 cough* years later. 



So why am I blogging about The Happy Hollisters, you may be asking.

Well, I've been craving cheese and potatoes lately, and that brought to mind a scene from one of the books. I'm pretty sure it was from The Happy Hollisters and the Swiss Echo Mystery. In the scene, the Hollister children are visiting in a mountain village and one of the locals is a cheese maker. He shows them how they can take hot potatoes and hold them against the spinning wheel of cheese to make a tasty treat.


Honestly, on a night when I don’t kick feel like cooking, a big wheel of cheddar cheese and hot potatoes sounds like a fabulous combination. Alas, I had to settle for cheesy fries to satisfy the craving, but the memory of reading that scene made them taste spectacular!

So my question for you today is are there any scenes from books that particularly stand out for you because of the food?

And what is your best recipe involving cheese and potatoes?