Thursday, May 31, 2012

Food Cravings!!!!


I'm starving as I write this. Well, that's an exaggeration (like what ISN'T in Ruthy-World???) but I'm really hungry and no time to eat before choir practice...

And Dave's splitting wood.

And I had to get the house in order after the "leastun's" went home because I can't do it in the morning... that's writing time.

I'm being a food snob. Normally I'd grab tuna... there is none.

Or a Zweigle's white hot (Porker, up here!!!) but the store was out of them. And I've had so many red hots lately that I'm seriously Nitrate/nitrite overloaded. In fact, if nitrate-laced hot dogs are bad for you, start plannin' the music to lay me to rest, 'cause I'm clearly in the danger zone!

No time for salad because I have to leave.   I'm not whining (really, truly, it's not like I'm an emaciated waif... we all know that.... tiny sigh inserted here for effect...)

BUT... what do the lot o' youse do when you're out of time and need food?

If I cheat and eat junk, then I'm just mad at myself.

The only yogurt in the house is high calorie kid friendly with granola and real fruit, but that's like trashing two days of being carb-good!!!

I want beef.

I confess, a nice burger with cheese would make me so happy right now. Only the ground round in the fridge tastes metallic and I don't know if it's me (I had a bug a few days ago) or that the meat is a secret government weapon to implant heavy metals into an unsuspecting populace.

So what do you do when you need food... you've got no time... and you're a big ol' whiner like me??? Give me ideas and I'll stock the cupboards before next Wednesday's whine fest

When I got home, Dave had cooked a few pounds of asparagus up...

And it was 9:15 at night, but it was totally delicious!!!  ;)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Coffee Chat! Tell Us Your Dream...

Missy, here. Pull up a chair, a coffee/tea/chocolate beverage of your choice, and let's chat!

I just recently joined in on Pinterest. Check it out if you haven't before by clicking here. It's so cool! You can share things you "pin" and can also re-pin others' pins to your own virtual bulletin boards.

One of the boards I made is called "Dreaming of..." I post places I dream of visiting. Photos of things I'd love to do or see. So that got me to thinking. If you could choose only ONE of these things, what would it be?

--To visit a deserted island
--To have someone clean your house for you every week
--To have a private chef
--To climb a mountain
--To own a beach home
--To own a lake home
--To travel around the world
--To own your dream car
--To drive a race car
--To skydive
--To snow ski at a resort of your choice
--To have a personal fitness trainer
--To fly a plane
--To go up in a hot air balloon
--To meet a famous person you admire
--To become a New York Times bestseller
--To have your invention become a well-known household object
--To discover a medical cure
--To have your favorite hunky star or athlete fall for you :)
--To attend the Olympic Games
--To be a famous athlete
--To be CEO of a world renown corporation
--To be a famous songwriter/artist (maybe the next American Idol!)
--Choose your own!

Okay, now please share!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Celebrating the Healthy Way

Mindy here. Hope you all had a marvelous Memorial Day weekend. Ours was quiet, uneventful. Of course, I smoked the slab o' meat Sunday, but was still at a loss for sides. Since I'm enjoying much success with my return to Weight Watchers, I didn't want to splurge too much. I needed at least one healthy, satisfying side. And, thanks to the Food Network, I found it.

I don't know about y'all, but lately I seem to be hearing more about kale than ever. Like it's the latest craze. But when I saw this recipe for Kale Slaw, I knew I had to try it.

Here's what you'll need:
  • l head kale, stems removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1/2 an orange, juiced
  • 1/2 a lemon, juiced
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
  •  1 slice bacon, cooked crisp and chopped (since I don't dare have real bacon in the house, I used a heaping tablespoon of bacon bits)
  • 1 rounded Tbsp. mayonnaise
Place the kale into a salad bowl. Toss with carrot, orange juice, lemon juice, and salt. Using your hands, rub the acid into the kale. Basically, pretend you're giving it a massage.

Set kale aside.

Prepare a large bowl of ice water and a saucepan with boiling water.
Place the sliced  onion into the boiling water for 15-30 seconds. Remove and immediately plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process. This removes the bitter taste of the raw onion.

Drain the water and blot the onions with a paper towel.

Add the onion, bacon, olive oil, salt, and pepper to kale and toss well.

Add the mayonnaise and mix the slaw well.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be made several hours in advance.

This was so yummy, y'all. Though the next time, I think I'll add the juice of the entire orange. That citrusy flavor lends just enough sweetness to make it addicting.

I know Missy posted a recipe for kale chips not long ago, but have do you use much kale in your cooking? Or is it one of those greens you've avoided, uncertain what to do with it, like I was? Maybe kale is a staple for you. How do you like your kale?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Remembrance

Glynna sent this to me the other day. I shared it on my personal blog and wanted to share it with you as well. May we remember those who sacrificed for us and our freedom!

I hope you have a fantastic Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Book giveaway and signing today!

10 - 12 Morning... 
Alpha and Omega Books
Stoneridge Plaza 
Greece, New York

2 - 4 Afternoon
Alpha and Omega Books
Panorama Plaza
Penfield New York

Come. Meet Ruthy. 

Eat cookies. Chat. Browse. For a $5 donation, you can choose any Ruthy-book available (even the out of print North Country Series!!!!) and Ruthy (that's me, in case you didn't know) will sign the book, smile for pics and just have old-fashioned fun meeting you!!!  Proceeds to benefit the Open Door Mission,
a Christian Rescue mission in Rochester New York that works to help the impoverished and homeless each and every day.

No tax.

No shipping.

Great company.

Can you say SUH-WEET????? 

And if you can't be there and just want to support a good cause, call the store... 
We'll order books for you and mail them to you and proceeds will still go to support food and shelter for the homeless.

Remember when the great "Wizard of Oz" talked about being a "Good Deed Doer"?
Today, that's what it's all about!
So drive on down... over...up to meet The Yank (Ruthy) and have some fun!

This promo has been brought to you by the owners and managers of the Yankee Belle Cafe. The opinions of said author do not necessarily reflect those of the owners/managers of the Yankee Belle Cafe, but usually they do. For obvious reasons.

No cookies have been hurt in the making of this commercial.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Favorite Friday! Birthday Cakes!

Missy, here. And who doesn't love a birthday celebration?

My husband recently had an...ahem...major birthday. One of the decade kind. :) And a wonderful friend from church surprised him with one of her special cakes.

I'm talking the kind of cakes that go up for auction in fundraisers and create bidding wars. One last year raised over $100 for the missions auction!

And Evelyn, bless her heart, spent four hours making one for my husband to celebrate his 50th!

Look at this amazing beauty--that must've weighed over ten pounds!

Seven luscious layers!

Evelyn said she uses two batches of batter and two batches of frosting to make these. And rather than try to slice layers, she bakes seven individual thin layers.

It was so huge we had to slice and freeze most of it. We put it in individual baggies and thaw out a few pieces at a time. The enjoyment will last for weeks!

Thank you, Evelyn, for your labor of love!

What's your favorite treat on your birthday?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Memorial Day Parades...

Our parade is small.

Of course, our town is small.  Sweet. A mix of rural/farm/suburban. Kind of typical, right? With lots of apple trees.

So our Memorial Day Parade is only about ten minutes long.

I used to take the kids when they were knee-high to a grasshopper. They'd salute the soldiers and the flag. The boys would ogle the cool, camo-clad jeeps, trucks, tanks.


And then they got older and we got older and work interrupted and I got out of the habit of going. When I was waitressing, I worked most Memorial Days. But then there was a bunch of years where I just got busy doing other things.

Shame on me!  What a dork.  About ten years ago, I realized my priorities were skewed so I made it a pledge to go to every Memorial Day parade from that day forward. I missed one, when I had to work at the bakery job (pre-publishing) because they had no one else and I know how tough it is for managers to drum up last minute help...

But I've made the others.

Because what would we do if the soldiers didn't have time to soldier on? To work? To defend? To fight, as needed?

Their choices are limited.

Now the grandkids come along. They like the parade...  Dressing in red/white/blue outfits. Waving little flags. Cheering.  And their parents remember going as kids, saluting the flag. Listening to the memorial speeches.

And two years ago I stood alongside a former soldier whose stance and expression inspired a book..."His Mistletoe Family" due out this December is based on that soldier, a man of substance, standing tall, somewhat grim, wearing a USAF cap with two teensy, tinsy yellow ribbons pinned to the hat behind his left ear. Those ribbons were part of his story, and he became the model for Colonel Brett Stanton, retired, U.S. Army the hero of my 2012 Christmas book.

All because I went to a small-town parade on Memorial Day.

So this Monday, we'll be there again, on Main Street.  And I'm wishing you all well and hoping you get the chance to attend a Memorial Day service.

Because we're so very blessed to call this land home!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday Chat!

The Belle, here. It's Wednesday and time for our weekly chat her at the cafe! So pull up a chair, grab an iced coffee, tea or chocolate beverage, and let's talk.

This week on the Seekerville blog, I talked about creativity and early writing memories--the joy we had in our writing.

Today I wanted to ask about your earliest reading memories. What do you first remember about books and reading?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Making the Ordinary Extraordinary!

Mindy here. Last week I shared that we'd celebrated my daughter's birthday with pizzas on the grill. Of course, that wasn't all we had. After all, a birthday isn't a birthday without the birthday person's cake/dessert of choice. In this case, she likes chocolate cake with buttercream frosting. She also adores cupcakes. So I decided to go the cupcake route and spruce things up just a bit.

First I made their favorite chocolate cake--Duncan Hines Devil's Food Cake. Easy peasy. Since she was having friends over, I made two batches, all in cupcake form.

Now I knew my boys would not eat the cupcakes with buttercream frosting. They only like 'em with Duncan Hines Classic Chocolate Frosting. And heaven forbid I should veer from that course. I made one of them this luscious chocolate cake one time. It had ganache that was to-die-for. He said it was okay, but he really wanted just the regular, my usual, chocolate cake. Like I've said before, they have no taste.

Of course, when we're talking buttercream icing, it has to be homemade.

Here's my recipe:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • A few drops of food coloring (optional)
Place butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. Add food coloring, if desired, and mix thoroughly. Miss's favorite color is aqua, so that was my color of choice.

 I put as much as I can into a pastry bag with a large star tip (D2 or 2D, something like that). Twist the end closed and pipe/swirl the frosting around the top of the cupcakes. Trust me, this is easy. Then I did the same with a can of chocolate frosting. Aqua and brown are such hot colors right now, so it all worked together.

But they were too pretty just put on a plate. Instead, I got two cake pedestals of different sizes (you could use more) and set the cupcakes on those, alternating the colors.

And what a pretty centerpiece it made.

That is, until my grandpup decided to sample them.
The brat. Apparently she likes buttercream frosting too.
Lucky for her, I had plenty of extras.

How do you take the ordinary and make it extraordinary? And it doesn't have to be just food.

Later, y'all.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Magnolias and Gardenias, Oh My

The Belle, here. I got inspired this weekend, snapping shots of some beautiful flowers in my yard and at church. I thought I'd share with you today and give you a taste of the South.


Gardenia by Missy Tippens

These two are the wonderful-smelling gardenias on the bush beside my front porch. I wish I could somehow let you smell them! I like to cut blooms and float them in a glass bowl. They make the whole house smell amazing!

Then next shots are of the magnolia trees at my church. I was leaving today with my daughter and her friend, and I knew I had to get a shot of the huge, dinner-plate sized blooms. So I hopped out, telling them I'd only be a minute. :) Which turned into about ten minutes. They smell wonderful as well!

Magnolias by Missy Tippens

Magnolias by Missy Tippens

First United Methodist Church, Winder, GA. Photo by Missy Tippens

First United Methodist Church Winder, GA, photo by Missy Tippens

Magnolias by Missy Tippens

What are your favorite fragrant flowers?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Simply Saturday Bacon-wrapped Scallops

Okay, this is truly simple.

But probably not health conscious.

And my buddy Kav probably can't do it with tofu or mashed green beans...

Sorry, Kav!!!!


These babies are worthy!  ;)

Two ingredients:



This is all Luke's fault. Because he's home this weekend, I pretty much blame him for everything, but especially great food! Nothin' like a kid comin' home to inspire me to light the home fires!!!

Here's what you do:

Wrap each scallop in a piece of bacon.
Broil, turning every 3-4 minutes until bacon is cooked as desired.

I cut the huge scallops in half, then used a half strip of the nice extra thick bacon I get at Sam's club.


I used the upper broiler setting because the lower rack and lower setting weren't cooking them fast enough and we were hungry. It could have been a Tim Allen Home Improvement flash fire event, but I have a fire extinguisher handy....  (big grin here.)

Just in case.

I think thinner bacon works better. These came out great but they took a while of turning and cooking...  But either way, they were amazing and disappeared throughout the evening. A great 'grab-me-now' snack!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Favorite Friday!

Missy, here. And it's Favorite Friday! You know, we mostly talk about favorite foods or places to eat. Today I want to talk about your favorite way to work off those foods!

I'm not a fan of exercise. I usually try to avoid it. :) But last fall, I discovered Zumba. I had heard all the ladies at church talking about how fun it was, but I never made myself go. Then one day, I decided I needed to do something for my health. And I put on my workout clothes and dragged myself over to our church gym.

I met Debbie for the first time and loved the fact she wasn't some tiny, skinny-as-a-rail Energizer bunny. No, she was (in my book)...normal. Average. An everyday woman who could teach us the dances and encourage us to join her.

Granted, Debbie could do the moves and give 110% though the whole hour! (And I was dragging those first few weeks.) But she didn't make me feel inadequate.

I was hooked.

I had a blast and continue to do so. I've finally found a type exercise that I don't dread. I actually look forward to it! I love the music, and I love the moves. And I love the fun ladies who join me in the dancing.

In case you've never heard of it, here's the Zumba website where you can learn about it. Here's what they say on the website:


Are you ready to party yourself into shape? That’s exactly what the Zumba® program is all about. It’s an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party™ that’s moving millions of people toward joy and health.


Zumba Fitness® is the only Latin-inspired dance-fitness program that blends red-hot international music, created by Grammy Award-winning producers, and contagious steps to form a "fitness-party" that is downright addictive.
Since its inception in 2001, the Zumba program has grown to become the world's largest – and most successful – dance-fitness program with more than 12 million people of all shapes, sizes and ages taking weekly Zumba classes in over 110,000 locations across more than 125 countries.

And now I have to share a funny photo my daughter sent me after she attended a class with me--and laughed at me through it!


So what about you?? How do you burn off all the wonderful calories we eat here at the cafe?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

So we talked generic yesterday.... Now let's talk family gatherings today.

Beth and Emma on "Bake-a-Memory Day"
I've got a crew coming in this weekend.

Do you plan?


Go with the flow?

Do you notify the local sheriff's office, just in case?  :)

Do you wash sheets on un-used beds????

Do you even USE sheets????  LOL!

Karen and Anna-Banana on Anna's first birthday...

Do you cook or order in?

Do you make favorite desserts??? (Guilty, guilty, guilty!!!!)

This is a grilling weekend for us. Luke's coming to town, (Youngest Finance Boy) he's living in Boston, in an apartment, and never gets the chance to just hang and grill... So we're cooking up a storm for him!  And buying him groceries. Because food in Boston is crazy expensive, ala NYC, Phillie, etc.

Give me advice or share your ideas! I'm totally open to suggestion!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Coffee Chat!

Missy, here. And it's time for another coffee chat. Is it just me, or does Wednesday seem to roll around quickly every week?? I suspect when we're young, time moves slower. Just one of the laws of nature, I guess. :)

Today, I thought we'd chat about name brands versus generic. Or maybe I should say finer name brands versus discounted brands.

I just bought a graduation/house warming gift for one of my son's good friends (the daughter of some of our good friends) who graduated from college and is settling into a new house and job. I got her a couple of nice sets of towels at the Ralph Lauren Factory Store. They're beautiful, plush and heavy. I think towels are one of those things where you get what you pay for. We have really nice towels we got for our wedding (25 years ago) that are still in great shape! The cheaper ones we received at the same time haven't fared as well. They're frayed and worn--and some are now used for cleaning rags.

So...on what items do you splurge and buy name brand? And what do you feel is just as good when you buy generic or discounted brands?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Did Somebody Say Pizza?

The Texan here, thanking the Belle for a great segue to my post today.

Last week was my daughter's birthday, so we did pizzas on the grill, one of my kiddos' favorite meals. But a pizza is only as good as its crust, so I almost always end up making my own (a food processor makes this really easy). And if I'm going to take the time to make crusts, I may as well make a bunch and keep them in the freezer.

For one batch of dough, you will need:
  • 1 cup lukewarm water (105-115 degrees)
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • one packet (or 2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast (I use the rapid rise)
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp. coarse salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
Mix water and sugar until sugar dissolves. Sprinkle yeast over top of water and let the mixture stand until foamy, approx. 5 minutes.

While you're waiting, pulse flour and salt in food processor to mix.

 Add the olive oil and yeast mixture and process until the dough comes together in a sticky ball, approx. 20-30 seconds.

Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes.

Place dough in a large, oiled bowl, turning until the dough is coated.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm, draft free area until doubled in size (about an hour).

Punch down dough and turn onto floured work surface.

Using a large knife, quarter dough.

One at a time, shape dough wedge roughly into a ball. Place the dough ball on the work surface and, with your hand cupped over it, roll it on the work surface until the surface of the dough is smooth.
Place dough balls in a large resealable plastic bag and refrigerate up to 48 hours. The dough will continue to rise, but this resting period is what makes the crust soft on the inside, crispy on the outside.
Let dough sit at room temperature for 1 hour before shaping, or freeze for up to two weeks, letting frozen dough sit at room temp. two hours before shaping.

On a floured work surface, press each dough ball into 9-in. round. To make mini pizzas, cut each dough ball into three or four pieces before shaping.

Now this next part varies, depending on what type of grill you have. In general, you want to use indirect heat. Oh, and if you don't have a grill, feel free to use a 400 degree oven.

Here's how Rachel Ray says to do it:

Lower the heat on one side of the frill to low. Oil the grate on that side of the grill. Move the shaped dough to the frill. Lower the edge of the dough onto the oiled grill. (Mindy says, the size of your rounds will determine how many you can comfortably fit on the grate at one time.)

Now, cover the grill and cook for roughly 3 minutes, until crusts begin to bubble and brown. Loosen crusts with a metal spatula, recover and cook for one more minute. Flip crusts over; cook until beginning to brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes.

Top pizzas as you please and return to grill until toppings are hot and cheese is melted. Sorry, I was so busy cooking everyone's pizzas, I forgot to take a pic of the finished product.

For the party, we set up an assembly line of every pizza topping you could think of and everyone got to fix their own. (Note: I had the crusts all pre-baked before everyone arrived) They loved it!

You can use any sauce you like, I make my own by pulsing italian style tomatoes (the ones with basil, oregano, and garlic) in the food processor. This go-round I also added a can of the same variety of tomato paste, but that was a little too sweet for my taste. Maybe a half a can of paste next time, or none at all :-)

And there you have it. Everybody gets what they want and they have fun in the process.

Since school will be out soon, I think I'll make up several batches, prebake the crusts and keep them in the freezer so the kids can make their own pizzas for lunch and pop them in the oven. That's a lot cheaper than buying Bagel Bites and they taste a hundred times better.

Happy eating.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Missy, here. And I LOVE pizza. I especially love homemade pizzas. Or maybe I should say partially homemade. :)

Here's what I like to make...

I buy pre-made crusts, which are usually near the lunch meat in my grocery store (must be because it's near the bacon and pepperoni). In the same location, I find jarred pizza sauce. These store well in the pantry. When I have a craving, I also gather any other ingredients we may want like pepperoni and veggies. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Here, I chose some greens. We sometimes use Canadian bacon or ham, green peppers, etc.

And I decided to do a mix of cheddar, parmesan and 4-cheese Italian mix.

Drizzle a little olive oil on the crust and spread it around. Then add the pizza sauce. Top with your chosen ingredients!

Lower temp on oven and bake at 425 for about 10 minutes.

It's fantastic! And what's nice is each person can choose his or her favorite ingredients. :)

Do you ever make pizzas at home? (Ruthy, if you make your own crust homemade, I don't want to hear it!!) ;)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Strawberry and Custard Stuffed Croissants for Simply Saturday!

You're thinking this is hard.


You're thinking it might not be worthy....

Nope. Totally worthy.

So now you've stopped thinking and you're simply preparing a quick batch of pudding because that's the only time consuming part of this and you can do it a day or two ahead of time.... Suh-WEEEET!


Basic ingredients:

Mini croissants (you can use the big ones, but they're like a MEAL....the minis work well for dessert)

Fresh strawberries

Two cups custard or vanilla pudding

One - two cups of heavy cream, whipped and lightly sweetened.

Make the custard: really, truly, this is the only INVOLVED step and it's minimal... promise!!!

2 Tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter in two-quart saucepan.... Mix sugar and cornstarch together with spoon. Take butter off heat, mix in the sugar/corn starch combo.... Whisk in the two cups of milk and two egg yolks. Return to heat, hold great Love Inspired novel in one hand while stirring mixture as it heats and thickens over medium high heat.... Pudding thickens once it boils.  Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Chill.

Split croissants in half the l-o-n-g way....

Spread some whipped cream on bottom. Top with a spoonful of custard. Slice a nice, big red strawberry onto the custard. Top with more whipped cream. Put croissant top on whipped cream and press lightly.

Refrigerate. Eat. When I actually make these today, I'll post a real photo of the finished product!


So you split the croissants and spread or pipe thick, lightly sweetened whipped cream on bottom...

Then add a generous spoonful of vanilla custard pudding...

I'm glad you cannot see me. I'm salivating.

Soooo not pretty.

Now the strawberries...

Some of these berries were the size of small peaches!!! One thick slice did the trick.

And now, the top layer of whipped cream:

Place the croissant top on the whipped cream and press lightly...

Then dust with confectioners/powdered/10X sugar, whatever you call it in your neck of the woods...

And here is the finished plate:

And here is how 'Lijah's croissant looked (minus the runny nose inherent to toddlers...)

I love having little helpers in the kitchen, LOL!


Happy Mother's Day!!!!