Friday, May 31, 2013

Salad Days--And a Wilderness Escape

Missy, here. I figured if you saw the title of the post, you would think it was a Ruthy day. But no, I, too, am trying to eat salads more often. Especially after a short vacation where we ate every meal at a restaurant!

We just went to spend a few days at my in-law's farmhouse. It's in a nice little oasis that sits smack-dab in the middle of a major metro-Atlanta county. So while we have 48 acres of wilderness...

Photo by Missy Tippens--the road to the farmhouse
Photo by Missy Tippens--panoramic view of the house

...we also have major shopping and dining nearby. Whenever we visit, we usually head to Panera Bread (just a couple of miles away) for breakfast (and wifi!). On Wednesday, we also ate lunch at Panera.

I had this wonderful salad. The Strawberry, Poppyseed and Chicken Salad.

So today, while trying to get back to my diet post-vacation, I tried to make my version of this salad with the ingredients I already had in the house (a week from my last grocery trip!)

So here's my take on the salad...

Romaine and baby kale.
Fresh blueberries (and any other fruit you have on hand)
Turkey breast (or leftover grilled chicken)
Honey roasted almonds (or walnuts if you prefer)
Raspberry vinaigrette dressing (or poppyseed dressing if you have it)

I also added some cheddar cheese after snapping the photo.

It made a yummy salad, even if I didn't have a variety of fruit like the one from Panera. It's a good way to get in your 5-a-day fruits and veggies!

So, do you like fruit on your salads?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sesame Chicken with Tina Radcliffe!

Ruthy note: Tina Radcliffe sent us this recipe that she got off the World Wide Web.


And she made it and fed it to Tom, her cute husband.

And he loved it!

And this is absolutely a man-pleaser up here in WNY too!!!

CROCK POT SESAME CHICKEN  (This recipe via "April")

Sesame Chicken for slow cooker (Tina made it on stove-top, even quicker!)

1 1/2 pound boneless/skinless chicken breasts (4 will serve four people, depends on the size of the breasts)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons dried onion
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon oil (I keep sesame oil in the cupboard for when I do any Asian dish... But regular oil works well, too!)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tablespoons water
Sesame seeds

Put chicken into crock pot.

Combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, and garlic. Pour over chicken.

Cook on low for 3-4 hours or on high 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours, or just until chicken is cooked through.

Remove chicken from crock pot, leave sauce.

Dissolve 2 teaspoons of cornstarch in 3 tablespoons of water and pour into crock pot. Stir to combine with sauce.

Replace lid and cook sauce on high for ten more minutes or until slightly thickened.

Cut chicken into bite size pieces and return to crock pot - can leave chicken in and simmer on low or serve.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice.

Tina Radcliffe said this makes enough for TWO NIGHTS... and two nights means we don't have to cook ON ONE OF THEM, RIGHT????


Here is a picture of our beautiful Tina, the Heroine of Seekerville with my buddy Karen Ash from Allegany County:

Aren't they stinkin' cute together?????

I love new ways to do chicken.... and I enjoy eating this right on top of a salad when I'm low-carb. It's absolutely delicious on a bed of broccoli slaw, sunflower seeds, and any veggies you might have around!

And here's a picture of "Jeter" and Mary Ruthy just in case you're jonesin' for puppy pictures!

Ruthy lives in upstate New York, she loves to cook and bake, she thinks little kids and puppies are the cutest things EVER and she's thrilled that God's got her back 24/7. She writes delightfully insightful romances for Love Inspired Books and has to pinch herself daily to make sure she's not dreaming! E-mail her HERE or pop over to her webpage HERE!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Time Management vs The Biological Imperatives

Hello, everybody!

 The Fresh Pioneer is back and I have a quick dish that will save your heinie. All right, maybe not save your heinie exactly but it will nourish your heinie when you've got bigger problems than cooking.

 Sometimes we have stuff to do.

Sometimes that stuff take a really big chuck of our time.

Sometimes that time crunch means that our basic needs are pushed to the very bottom of the list. Which basic needs? Well...

"Biological imperatives are the needs of living organisms as required to perpetuate their existence. It is possible to define the following hierarchy of logical imperatives for a living organism: survival, territorialism, competition, reproduction, quality of life-seeking, and group forming. Living organisms that do not attempt to follow or do not succeed in satisfying these imperatives are described as maladaptive; those that do are adaptive." -Wikipedia

 HM, I don't wanna be a MALADAPTIVE!! I want to... eat. Survive. Thrive.

So, while I was working on editing this...
You can peek at it here!
And preparing for this one to go on a free day....

    OH MY GOSH! As I write this it's #2 on the Free Kindle List!!!! If you're not sure what that mean in numbers, it's approximately 27,000 downloads in 12 hours. That's a lot of readers.

 And there are six kids and a husband and errands and cleaning and bathing... OK, so those last two just get dropped off the to-do list right away, but there is still a family to feed. And we can't cheat and use McDonald's. Although I have done the 'Binner' deal where we eat waffles because everyone is happy and I get them off to bed so I can write some more.

So, conical cauliflower. No, that's not it's real name. It's just a weird cone shape and we call it that. Sounds... alliterative. CHOP CHOP. Remember, we're under a time crunch.
Red cabbage.

I have a thing against cabbage since that whole stint in Poland, but we've reached a sort of uneasy truce. Cabbage agrees not to be boiled and stink up the house and I agree to eat it.

Baby asparagus, fresh carrots.


Admire nature's beauty.

Lay all the veggies on a pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

375F for 15 minutes. Not too long. Edna is watching the timer. She doesn't enjoy limp veggies unless we're talking about carrot cake.

OK, I know it doesn't look really fancy, but this is brain food. And body food. And it will be a lot better for you than Mickey D's. When it has been consumed (with crusty French bread and some of that red pepper/green olive tapenade on the plate at the top), you'll be ready to jump back into the fray!!

Once more into the fray.

Into the last good fight I'll ever know. 

Live and die on this day. 

Live and die on this day.
 Don't freak out. I'm not planning on working myself to death. The poem is mostly about choosing battles. About when to jump and when to wait. So, I'm jumping!

My next project is another historical. Wish me luck. Historicals hurt my brain. But people like to read them so I think I'll write another. You can chalk it up to one of those biological imperatives. Maybe the territorial part, which we'll just call 'paying the mortgage'!

 Until next time, my dears!


Shrimp Love!

Tex here, and the only thing I love better than an easy dish that's yummy is an easy dish that's yummy AND quick AND versatile. These days, I'm all about quick meals. But quick doesn't have to be boring or blah. And this shrimp dish is neither boring or blah.

When I saw one of my favorite Food Network personalities make this, I had to try it. And I'm so glad I did. Whether you're looking for a meal or an appetizer, the PW's Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp fits the bill.

Here's what you'll need:
  • 2 pounds raw frozen shrimp, deveined, shells on
  • 2 sticks cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 lemon, juiced
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rinse the shrimp to separate, and then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.

To the bowl of a food processor, add the butter, parsley, salt, red pepper, garlic and lemon juice.

Pulse until combined.

Now, sprinkle the cold butter crumbles over the shrimp.

Bake until the shrimp is opaque and the butter is hot a bubbly, approximately 10-15 minutes.
On this occasion, I put the cooked shrimp and some of the sauce into a bowl and served it family style with a loaf of french bread for a rustic dinner. The bread is SO good dipped in the sauce.
This also makes an easy appetizer for parties. Just pop the tray into the oven as your guests arrive.
And wouldn't this be delicious over pasta?
I have to apologize for not having any pix of the finished product. We got a little carried away and dug in before I even thought about the camera. Sorry.
Now don't let the spicy part scare you. It's not hot. Maybe cut back some on the red pepper flakes, but you definitely do not want to omit this entirely. You'll lose an important dimension of flavor.
Okay, so my world is completely topsy-turvy these days. I never know what to expect from one day to the next. But what's going on in your world?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Puppies Need Treats!!!

This is Thatcher, Corgi Puppy Extraordinaire!

And yes, since he's still a baby, he constantly alternates between this...

...and this,


well, we'll leave the other part up to your imagination. Let's just say he's learning quickly to do it outside rather than inside the house :)

And then there's meeting the rest of the family:

Maggie-Cat is less than thrilled with the new fuzzy baby, but Wynter took to him like...well, like she had been wanting another dog to join the pack!

Maggie-Cat prefers to bathe on the comfy couch, preserving the dignity of the feline race with her delicate ablutions, upholding the great traditions of....oh, never mind. She fell asleep in the bathtub again.
We'll leave the cat be, and go on.

So, in honor of all the dog lovers around here, I thought I'd share a few recipes for homemade dog treats.

Now don't think these are hard - I work hard for my family, but dogs are, well, dogs. They're fun, and I love having them around, but I'm not going to spend hours in the kitchen when I can spoil them just as easily in a few minutes!

So here they are - Easy-Peasy Puppy Treats!

Disclaimer: Give your dog treats sparingly. Even healthy ones like these will cause problems if they take the place of their regular food. Once or twice a day is often enough.

First off, Beefy Chewie Cookies


2 - 6 ounce jars beef and vegetable baby food
1 cup of wheat germ
2 cups of nonfat dry milk

Preheat your oven to 350°.
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. It will seem like you just have a dry mess, but keep stirring until it's completely mixed.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and flatten slightly. I made small ones for Thatcher and large ones for Wynter.
Bake for 12 minutes for large ones (8 minutes for small ones), or until slightly brown at the edges. Let cool.

Store in the fridge for up to one week, or in the freezer.

They passed the taste test!

Next up, for the vegetarians among us, Delicious Oatmeal Puppy Cookies

3 cups uncooked oatmeal flakes
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, or a blend (I used a blend of spelt, millet, rye, buckwheat and wheat)
1 1/2 cups cold water (or broth, for non-vegetarians)
1 Tablespoon parsley (a natural breath freshener - all pooches need that!)
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix all the ingredients together and drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes at 350°. Let cool. Store in the refrigerator or freeze.

These must be delicious, because the entire time they were baking, Thatcher wandered around the kitchen with his nose in the air!

And finally, for those hot dog days of summer, Meaty Poochsicles

2  32 ounce containers plain yogurt
2-3 cups minced meat (chicken, beef, etc. This is a great way to use scraps, leftovers, chicken livers, etc. A couple cans of tuna also work)
1 Tablespoon garlic powder

about 24  3 ounce plastic cups (not paper)

Mix all the ingredients together. Spoon it into the plastic cups, place on a tray and freeze overnight. Store in a freezer container or bag.

You can let your dog lick the frozen treat out of the cup, or remove it from the cup and let your pooch go at it (you'll want to keep her outdoors until she's done!).

 By the way, did you know garlic is a natural flea deterrent? That makes this summer treat even better!

That's it! I'll leave you with one more gratuitous puppy picture:

Thatcher loves his monkey!

Of course, the day wouldn't be complete without remembering our fallen soldiers. Memorial Day is a time to remember those who gave their all in the service of their county. The holiday was first observed during the Civil War and continues to this day as a time of remembrance.

In Flanders Fields
by Lt. Col. John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row, 
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Last Minute Dinner!

This week, I invited the family over for dinner - with a preschooler-friendly menu in mind. At the last minute, I asked my daughter to bring her new boyfriend, figuring she’d decline since meeting the parents is a big deal. She’s been playing things low key, dropping hints and then announcing she was “in a relationship” via Facebook. She said they could make it.  ACK! “They,” meaning the new guy was coming too. 
It couldn't be as bad as the movie, right? Right????
Did I mention the house was suitable for family but not for guests? I mean, we've been working on patio project so our house was a mess of dirt tracks and dust bunnies! Did I mention this meeting was a big deal?  When it comes to cleaning or cooking, I pick cleaning every time.  I'm an "all day" sort of cook.  With limited time, I didn't want to be totally frazzled when our guest walked through the door. Plus, cleaning produces endorphins and burns calories! 

Fortunately, I live two blocks from my Fresh Market grocery store and a mile from a French bakery. Have I mentioned when we were deciding where our empty nester home would be, I refused to move when Fresh Market was built within walking distance? Hence, our screened porch and patio project we planned to christen with the family dinner that night.

I needed a simple entrée that could be made for a crowd. Just because I live out of the box doesn’t mean I don’t have a bag of tricks. Off to Fresh Market I went. Boneless chicken breasts were on sale! A sign for sure! So I picked up my favorite Vidalia onion dressing. Why is it my favorite? See those words? GLUTEN-FREE!

Cut up fruit, bagged salad, carrots, tomatoes, and corn on the cob went in the cart.  A stop by the French Bakery for brownies, lemon bars and a macaron made with almond flour for me (see Virginia’s post on how to make them when you have time Virginia's macarons) and back home I flew to, gulp, trap and release dust bunnies.
I set the oven for 350 degrees, covered the chicken with the Vidalia dressing and baked  them for 40 minutes or so depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts.You can also dress it up with grated cheddar cheese or bacon strips. My daughter-in-law has had to give up dairy so we went with healthy! But that is it! Easy!

How did dinner go?  We like the guy our daughter likes and he liked the chicken. He even brought me flowers!  Whew!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Tina Radcliffe Juices Her Way to Writer Health

Tina Radcliffe Juices Her Way to Writer Health

I’ve got the juice bug. Inspired by Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, the movie (available on YouTube for free right now, also free for Amazon Prime and available on Netflix free streaming), I purchased a Breville Juice Fountain Plus and began my REBOOT!

I started last Monday and I’ll tell you how it REALLY was. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I spent napping or wishing I could be put out of my misery. I was in severe caffeine, processed sugar, flour, and processed food in general WITHDRAWAL. No less pain than a junkie. Trust me. Severe headaches as I was a total java addict.

By Wednesday afternoon I was beginning to show signs of surviving detox.

Thursday I felt great. Not just good but great with lots of energy I haven’t had in a long time. I’m going as long as I can on this juice fast, but don’t let that intimidate you. You can juice one meal, two meals or check out the three day and five day REBOOT on the Reboot with Joe website.

Basically, it’s five 16 oz. juices a day, 80 percent veggies and 20 percent fruit. A fruit only juice is recommended in the am only as it will raise your blood sugar and plunge it.  I started working my way up to five juices. Frankly three was filling me up. But it’s good to have options if you are hungry. Strangely enough, I am NEVER hungry.  I have a few cups of hot water with lemon in the am, herbal tea at night and lots of water during the day, including a pitcher of TAZO tea (unsweetened) that I keep in the fridge.

As far as recipes there great juice recipes on the Reboot site, and many come with the Breville, and you can get this free for Kindle juice recipe book on Amazon-.Breville Health Full Life: Juice Recipes for the Juice Fountain® Plus. There’s some REALLY good stuff in there, obviously valuable no matter what kind of juicer you have.

It’s trial and error to find what you like and what gags you.  Also, if a fruit or veggie is on sale I buy it and then go home and go to the Reboot site and search for a recipe to use it in.

Here’s my yummy breakfast today:

Spiced Celery, Apple and Carrot

4 celery stalks
2 apples (red)
3 inch piece of fresh ginger
3 carrots whole and unpeeled

Clean up is easy. I toss the parts in a sink of warm water to soak while I drink and then clean them and let them air dry. The pulp is collecting in a shopping bag on the side of the machine. You can use it for cooking, compost or toss it.

Serve your juices over ice, at least until your taste buds acclimate.

Another favorite recipe?

Apple, strawberry, pineapple and cabbage with lemon!!

BTW on a side note, I am trying to send an author friend to REAL REBOOT CAMP. So if you have a chance, go and vote for her here.

So what do you think? Is juicing in your future? Have any questions?

Tina Radcliffe is a Love Inspired author who resides in Arizona. Her latest release is Mending the Doctor’s Heart. You can find her at

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I Need a Leash on my Camera and my Remote Control

Or at least a "find handset" button like you have on a phone.... You know, a button you press that then signals you where the device is hiding this time.

I lose my camera constantly. And then it shows up in some obscure spot and I get that light-bulb "Oh, yeah!!!" moment of clarity (which are all too few lately).

I blame the puppies.

Really, you can LOSE yourself in puppies. It's totally doable.  Just check this out:

This was long-haired me with Maddie when she was a puppy.... How stinkin' nice are puppy kisses, right???

And that's son Seth and beautiful daughter-in-law Lacey behind me.

So here's the current batch of puppies...

This was taken a few weeks ago when there were about two weeks old....

And look at what six additional weeks brings:

 How stinkin' cute is this??? Look at her hamming it up for me!

And here is her brother, lovin' up on Beth.... Puppy kisses rule!!!!

We've been eating emergency rations these past weeks. Frittata. Tuna fish. Grilled something with grilled something else veggie-style. Pasta sauce. Because puppies are work....

And they don't get easier as they get older because they want to chase cats... follow children and construction workers... and eat.

They eat a lot.

Which means... well. I'll let you figure that out, LOL! So while I'll miss having puppies around because of their cuteness factor to the max.... I won't miss the extra morning and evening work!

The truth?

I'd rather write.

I love making up stories. I love writing them down. I love revising, editing, brain-picking.... I love the blessing of the Holy Spirit on my heart and my words. And as much as I love puppies, I'll breathe easier once they're safely at their new homes. Keeping one puppy safe and sound is a job.

Keeping ten of them that way?  The words "great exercise" come to mind, LOL!

I keep saying this is the last litter. I think I mean it. But every now and again the urge comes upon me to take care of babies... That inherent nurturer inside.

Libby understands me. This is Libby, our Standard Poodle. She's nursing Maddie's puppies a couple of years ago. What a nice friend, right? Yup.

Born Nurturer.

We need to do something about that. There must be a way to QUASH the nurturer.


Save me from myself. Make me realize that it's okay to STOP the baby producing madness....

But, oh...


Puppy breath.

Puppy eyes....

Puppy whimpers....

Stinkin' cute. And that's how they SUCK YOU IN.... by being that cute.

Of course the kid's not too bad herself!

Tell me if you're a dog person.... Because despite my best efforts, I am...


A dog person.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ooh La La! Macarons and A French Obsession

Hello, everybody!

 The Fresh Pioneer is back and I've got some fun eats for you! Edna and I were just reminiscing over our very favorite desserts of all time. That's what we do around here. No stimulating conversations over politics or religion. Favorite desserts is our topic of choice.

  When I lived in France, I lived in the North where they used almond paste for almost every dish. But every now and then I had something truly different. One day a friend of mine brought me a macaron. (I tried to find her on facebook, but there are a lot of Stephanie Michels out there and it's hard to tell what someone would look like at nearly forty when you knew them at 13. So, Stephanie, I really, really loved that macaron! And now I'm going to try and make my own.)

 Apparently there's a real science to it. I suppose I should have researched it a bit before I started. For one thing, it's NOT a rainy day activity. Which makes no sense. If it wasn't raining, we'd be at the park, not in the kitchen!!

1 1/2 cups ground almonds
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 300F.

(I used almonds with skins. I think you're not supposed to use almonds with skins because my nut flour had little dark specks and the other pictures don't have those specks. That's my theory. The other theory is that the internet is a big fraud and no on can be that perfect.)
Edna went to work on 4 large egg whites, room temperature. She was singing a lovely song. You can listen to it here. Sing it, Edna!

 So, she got the egg whites whipped to stiff peaks.
 Slowly add 2/3 cup sugar.
 Then we stirred in the nut and powdered sugar mixture, just until it was mixed.

 Then, I put it in a pastry bag and piped it onto a cookie sheet. Put it in the oven for 18-20 minutes.
While they're cooking, cut some fresh strawberries.
Ok, the oven went off and these looked done. They didn't look right, but they looked done. How do I know? I poked one.
The top should crack and cave in while the inside stays chewy. At this point I'm re-reading instructions because they look a bit... flat. Edna mentions the 'rainy day/ meringue' issue and I agree. Perhaps a sunny day would have a better time to try the elusive macaron. But we are not deterred!!
Leave the macarons on the sheet for 20-30 minutes until cool. Otherwise they will come off the sheet in one piece. Here's one with some whipped topping and strawberries. Verdict?? DELICIOUS. It was almost exactly like I remembered. And hey, that memory was from a long time ago. I'll say this was a success. A bit flat, but still a success.
And of course I had to try and make some cool colors. Here are some blue... with raspberry filling. My kids said it looked like they'd been given a color filter like one of those fancy apps on the phone...
So, they were good. An now they're gone. I thin I'll leave you with this picture of the cake my sister made for my birthday last week. DO NOT TRY TO COUNT THE CANDLES. The smoke alarm might have gone off. We might have had to get the fire extinguisher. We might have vacated the house. Or not.

Anyway, the cake is vanilla layers with huckleberry cream cheese inside an buttercream frosting for the outside! Huckleberries grow in the mountains where she lives. If you've never had them, they're like tiny blueberries an insanely hard to harvest. You can spend all day picking huckleberries and come home with half a gallon and a number of ticks. Yikes.

  But lucky me, I don't have to do any of the hard work. THIS just SHOWS UP at my house! yee-haw! And the picture doesn't do it justice. It was bursting with flavor, partnered with the light vanilla cake and silky smooth butter cream frosting... it was amazing.

 So, until next time my dears! Edna waves her beaters and we'll see you in a week!