Friday, July 10, 2020

Salvaging a Kitchen Fail (Chicken Salad Edition)

Missy Tippens

Well, I've done it again. Another kitchen fail. Please don't feel as if you have to act surprised. This happens all too often and we all know it. LOL

This time around, I made chicken salad from the chicken I had bought at the farmer's market. It was pre-roasted and came cubed and frozen. I made a big batch of chicken salad from the chicken using what I had on hand: mayonnaise and dried cranberries (that I reconstituted for a little while to plump them up). I tasted it once and then added more mayonnaise. But it was so dry I could hardly choke it down while eating it on top of salad greens. I was so disappointed!

That huge container of the leftovers sat in the fridge for a couple of days. I could not get anyone to eat it. (I wonder why!)

So the next evening, needing to figure out something for dinner, I decided to try to salvage it. I was determined to make it into a casserole.

I thought back to an old recipe I used to make that called for a small, whole chicken (boiled and pulled off the bones), can of cream of chicken soup and a small container of sour cream. I loved that casserole! So I went searching. I came up with cream of mushroom soup and a small amount of sour cream (not nearly a whole container). I did not have any Club or Ritz crackers to use for the topping. Then it hit me: I have cranberries in here! I can play that up, almost Thanksgiving-like.

So I found I did have a bag of Pepperidge Farms herb stuffing cubes. And since I didn't have as much sour cream as needed, I decided to use some buttermilk. I figured I could use the extra moisture anyway! haha

I mixed the chicken salad with the sour cream, buttermilk and cream of mushroom soup (undiluted).

Then I topped the casserole with the herb stuffing mix, which I had ground into crumbs, and drizzled a half stick of melted butter over top it to moisten the crumbs (the old recipe called for a full stick, but I didn't think we needed it).

Then I baked at 350 for about 40 minutes. It actually started browning a little too quickly, so I put foil over it until the end.

Y'all, this was SO GOOD. My family loved it! They were fighting over who would get to take the leftovers to work for lunch. haha

A big save for me!

So next time you make something that is a total flop, consider making it into a casserole. Sour cream and butter can make just about anything taste good.  :)

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Zucchini Latkes Straight From the Farm

So this is what greeted me one writing morning... :)

My grandson Logan built this guy and wanted him to keep me company when I got up to write. How stinkin' adorable is this mega transformer??? He's about 1 foot and a half tall... so an imposing figure!

Hi, I'm Ruthy.... and I'm a writer. And a mom, grandma, farm lady, baker... We all wear a lot of hats, don't we? And how wonderful to be healthy enough to do that!

This is jam making time on the farm.

And mum-growing.... they're coming right along! This is me, keepin' it real....

And the local geese are raising their families quite nicely... and stopping traffic!

There were over sixty geese marching step by step... single file... across this road at the back of a college campus. How funny is this???

So life is busy, fun, crazy and altogether normal up here on the farm... but I got a sweet note from one of my readers, Ted Morrow. Ted's from the heartland and every now and again he sends me recipes... and they're always good, but this one is a new family favorite!

He got the recipe from a magazine and I'm not sure which one, but I'm going to print it here and hope I don't get arrested or something.

We double it so that we have a plate full of these to snack on. Yes. They're that good!

Zucchini Cakes

2 cups shredded zucchini
3 eggs (the recipe calls for two, we like three better)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese
2 teaspoons Montreal Chicken seasoning (or any great zesty seasoning) (this was a Ruthy addition)
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
Salt and pepper to taste....

Mix all together.

Heat griddle with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Drop batter onto hot griddle. Flatten slightly. Fry until browned. Flip. Repeat... fry until browned.

Lift off and enjoy!

I don't have words to tell you how happy these make us. We eat them straight and make sandwiches out of them and sprinkle them with salt and pretend they're haute cuisine because they make us that happy. And I took pics but they're in my camera... and I can't find the little cord! Oops! Maybe by Thursday, darlings??? :)

We've got our produce stand open for business with veggies, jams, breads and smiles! It's always so nice to see customers again... and meet new ones!

This has become a summertime favorite for lunches, snacks, etc. We eat them hot or cold... and they're delightfully healthy, like a meal in the palm of your hand! And at this time of year, when we're too busy to put much thought into meals, they're kind of something to to get through from time of day to time of day.... and we're okay with that!

But the joy of being able to use the farm produce for our own good and to sell it to others makes us happy!  And sharing the ideas with you, our readers and friends, only makes it that much better.

AND LOOK!!!!!!! My newest Guideposts mystery, book 2 of "Savannah Secrets" is just out!!!!! And you can get 20% off right now by entering the code CELEBRATE in the space provided.... I love this story, this series, and working with the wonderful people of Guideposts. We are truly blessed to work together. 


Back to farm work, watering mums and starting to set up for Fall Extravaganza.... And sending you blessings!

Multi-published, award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne is running from this to that on their pumpkin farm in Western New York, and having a wonderful time because she ignores the crazy overstuffed garage and basement... she'll clean those later! Right now there are flowers to raise and books to write and grandkids to love on! First things first! Visit her at, friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter... she's always happy

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Peaches and Praline Pie

This summer I've been seeing lots of reference to the Covid Tush or Covid Fifteen - all referring to the weight people gained in quarantine.

But since everyone has been talking about peaches the past few weeks, I decided to repost a yummy recipe

It's so tasty you won't care about the calories. At least not while you're eating.
For the past few weeks, Facebook has been taunting/tempting me with a recipe for Peachy Praline Upside Down cake. Have any of you been getting that in your sidebar? It shows up in mine at least once a day.

So of course I had to look.

It's a recipe from Taste of Home.

Here's the link in case you want to make the real thing. Taste of Home Peach Praline Upside Down Cake.

I didn't want that big cake - mainly because I'm the only one here who would eat it. But really because it involved separating eggs and whipping the whites... and well, I just wanted something simpler.

Then I remembered a praline shortbread I'd had a few months ago from the farmer's market. It was pretty good, but lacked that home made taste.

So, why not combine them.

The first part I cribbed from Taste of Home.
2 sticks of butter softened
2/3 cup of sugar  (They call for brown. I used coconut palm sugar which is brown ;)  )
1 tsp of cinnamon (They added ginger but I skipped that. Nut meg might have been tasty.)

You mix all of that together over low heat until it's a yummy, gooey texture spread across the pan

Then you layer peach slices and pecans. I used 4 peaches and a bunch of handfuls of pecans.

Next, with bows to King Arthur Flour, we had shortbread. You can find that recipe here:
King Arthur Flour Shortbread Recipe.
2 sticks of butter, 1 cup of confectioner's sugar, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.
Cream everything together, then add 2 cups of flour.

Mix well and spread over the peaches. Bake at 350 degrees until done.

 The recipe for the shortbread says about 35 minutes, but I found that it took longer this way because the peach praline mix made the dough take longer to cook. It tasted really good after 35 minutes, but it wasn't thoroughly cooked.

I couldn't resist a peek as it was cooking
The finished product - a perfect accompaniment while I write.

Note: It is very rich, hence the small serving. But oh so delicious!

This is 

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Revisiting Summer Salads

I don't know what the weather's like where you live, but it's hot here in Texas. So today we're going to revisit a couple of my favorite cool and refreshing summer salads.

First is Cucumber and Onion Salad. As soon as the weather turns warm, my husband starts asking for this. And I always have to add extra onion just for him.

Start by peeling and thinly slicing a cucumber or two. 
Put them into a bowl, then slice some onion, add that to the cucumbers and toss everything together.
Next, in a 2 - 4 cup measuring cup or medium bowl, mix 2 cups water, 1 cup vinegar, 1/4 - 1/2 tsp black pepper and sugar to taste. I usually add about a tablespoon, but you can start with 1 tsp and go up from there until you reach the desired amount of sweetness. For me, I'm simply looking to take the edge off of vinegar, not anything really sweet. Stir until dissolved and pour over onion/cucumber mixture.
Allow to sit for at least an hour before serving.

Avocado and Tomato Balsamic Salad is quickly becoming one of my go-to sides. I can whip it up in a flash and it's so delicious and healthy that I've been known to make a meal of this alone.

Simply cube the avocado and some tomatoes into a bowl. I prefer the flavor of grape tomatoes, so I just halve them. 
Then drizzle a little bit of olive oil over that, add several shakes of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt.
Gently toss everything to coat and that's it. You're ready to go. 
Fresh veggies and fruits are part of the beauty of summer. And while we can get many of these items year-round, they just taste better in the summer when they're fresh and, often, locally grown. 
What are some of your favorite summer salads/veggies?

Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, one sassy pup, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at

Monday, July 6, 2020

A Visit to the Pacific Islands: Kelaguen

by Jan Drexler

Welcome to summer! I mean real summer. Hot days, afternoon thunderstorms, cloudless blue morning skies, cooking outdoors on the grill (or not cooking at all!) These are lazy summer days!

There are a few recipes that I save for summer only, and this is one of them. I cook the chicken in the early morning and mix this salad up around lunchtime. By supper time, it's been in the fridge for a few hours and ready to go.

The key ingredient in this dish is unsweetened coconut. In the grocery stores it's easy to find the sweetened coconut flakes that are so essential for fruit salads and Christmas goodies, but that version would make this dish too sweet.

You can find unsweetened coconut in some health food stores, or you can find several different brands by searching for "unsweetened coconut flakes" on Amazon. I find mine at E&S Sales, my favorite bulk food store in Shipshewana, Indiana.

I've shared this recipe before, but it deserves another look. I especially love sweet Thatcher's face in the last picture! I miss that dog...although his successors are doing a fine job following in his footsteps. :-)


Because of my husband's job as a hospital food service director, he goes to a lot of food blogs. And he comes into contact with a lot of different recipes.

Recipes he rarely brings home!

So imagine my surprise when he gave me this recipe a couple summers ago!

He says the guy who posted the original recipe on the blog is from the Philippines. I Googled the dish, and learned that it's found all over the Pacific Islands.

Originally, it seems the islanders used this recipe to ferment seafood - basically "cook" it in acid and salt. When other meat sources were introduced to the islands, the recipe was adapted to include them. Even Spam! Although one of the sources said the Spam version is only popular among beer drinkers.

Draw your own conclusions :)

The version I make uses cooked chicken.



2 cups cooked, diced chicken
1 hot pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup lemon juice (or juice of 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut - dried or fresh

Mix all the ingredients together and refrigerate for at least two hours. Serve with warm tortillas or with a green salad.

Since this is an ancient recipe, pretty much anything goes.

Use whatever meat - or even tofu - you choose. I use diced, cooked chicken breasts. You can also use seafood, beef, canned tuna...whatever!

Use whatever pepper you want - or even none. I like the zing a hot pepper gives the dish - although I don't like too much of it. I used one of these - I think it's a Serrano?

Green Bell Peppers would work well, too.

And, of course, for the coconut I used some of the huge bag that I dug into last week to make my Delightful Coconut Dreams (recipe here).

Paired with a green salad, this makes a wonderfully quick, nutritious cold dish for summer!

Someone else thinks so, too!

What's your favorite go-to dish for hot summer days?

And while you're enjoying the hot summer, don't forget to think about Christmas! If you missed my Christmas novella last year, Bethany House is releasing it in ebook form for this year!

Jan Drexler is an author by day who is addicted to counted cross stitch and sauntering through the Hills with her dear husband and their puppies - goofy corgi Jack and growing-fast border collie Sam. You can find Jan's books and other fun things on her website:

Friday, July 3, 2020

Mindy's Peach Cobbler and Happy 4th!

Missy Tippens

Since I shared that I'd bought a large box of peaches last week, I thought I'd also share what I did with them.

First, I made Mindy's peach cobbler! She has shared two recipes in the past, but this is the one I used: click here.

It turned out so good and was a big hit!

One thing I really liked about this recipe is that you cook the peaches with sugar first. This was perfect since my peaches weren't really ripe yet. It made them sweet and flavorful!

Another thing I really liked was melting the butter in the oven, then pouring the batter over it. I love this method for making the perfect buttery crust/cakey part.

When we pulled this out of the oven, we almost drooled. I even took a video of the bubbling goodness (turn the sound up!).  LOL

Here's the finished product, hot from the oven.

While I was at it, I made use of the hot oven and baked bread at the same time. One of my favorites is a mix made by Tastefully Simple, Beer Bread. Our family loves it!

My husband and I took our goodies to our first non-family social outing since March. Some friends had us over for an outside, socially-distanced dinner. They have been working on their back yard during the pandemic, and it was beautiful!

They had cleared and leveled the area near the creek at the back of their property. So peaceful! And they'd strung lights and sat out quite a few tiki lamps and bottles with citronella oil.

We had a wonderful evening with their family at one end of the table and us at the other. :) Lots of good food, talking, and playing cornhole.

They loved Mindy's cobbler and asked for the recipe. I'll be sure to send them here to the Cafe. :)

I hope you all have a wonderful, safe 4th of July celebration!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

A Patriotic Salad

I've been doing a lot of writing this summer. The tradeoff (not surprisingly) is that I haven't been doing much cooking.

About the most ambitious kitchen adventure I've had this week was freezing milk cubes. A few weeks I blogged about my discovery of powdered coconut milk. I love that in my coffee, but sometimes you need milk - like for cereal. Stores here seem to still be having some problems with the milk supply. When I finally went to the supermarket last week (only the 2nd time since March) the milk was all very close to expiring. So I bought half a gallon and froze it into cubes. It worked really well!

Anyway, it's July and that requires something better than milk cubes. I came across this recipe that I posted years ago. It seemed beautifully festive, so I decided to share it again.

A few years ago we ordered salads at work and I got one that had blueberry vinaigrette with red onions and feta cheese. It sounds like an odd combination, but it was very tasty. (Although way too many red onions made their way into my serving. It looked like an onion party at the bottom of the bowl when I was done!)

So fast forward to this Sunday. I had some luscious looking strawberries from the farmer's market.
Emphasis on looking. They didn't taste quite as sweet as they looked, but they were good and were the first of the season, so all is forgiven. Plus they made an amazing vinaigrette!

 I had lettuce - romaine and red leaf. To that I added slices of avocado and diced red onion. I sliced some strawberries on top. Because I was making this a meal, I also added in some pieces of my salmon burger.

It sure looked pretty.

But the best part was yet to come.  I finally found a use for those Talenti jars that have been mysteriously accumulating. :)

First I mashed some blueberries and strawberries. I added them to the jar with some red wine vinegar and olive oil to taste. I mashed some more, then put the lid on and shook.

I drizzled it over the salad. (Doesn't that sound like a fancy chef word? I drizzled it. Better than I dumped it on top.)

 The salad was so delicious and so refreshing that I made it again on Monday. This time I added sliced almonds and they gave it a fabulously satisfying crunch.

Oh - the red onion added just the bite the salad needed. I accidentally left them out on the second night and their absence was noted. :(

We've talked before about my tendency to add fruit to salad. Where do you stand on that?