Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Strawberries, Blueberries and a Salad

Summer Salads and Strawberry Blueberry Vinaigrette

I planned to make something new and delicious this week, but I was writing instead. That excuses me, doesn't it?


Plus, I went to the farmer's market this weekend and the first strawberries of the season were there. Along with rows of gorgeous flowers.


Some of these came home with me!

Don't look at the prices. Rather horrifying.

So sweet.


So I had to do something with strawberries. So, in honor of them (and the blueberries appearing on my supermarket shelf thanks to my southern friends), I bring you this delicious repeat.


A few weeks 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. :(

I've noticed that I tend towards adding fruit to salad. Am I alone in that or is that a habit for anyone else?

Want other strawberry salad ideas? Mary Jane shared one a few weeks ago for strawberries, spinach and goat cheese.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Life Change = Pork Tenderloin Change

Greetings from the ranch!

Phase one of our big move is finally complete. For the most part anyway. We're still waiting on internet, which has us relying on our phones. At least until we completely lost service. 
Can you imagine? No internet, no email, no text, no phone...
Fortunately it only lasted for a day.

Yes, it's been an adjustment, but we've been so busy that you kind of don't notice. In the last two weeks I think we've only stopped long enough to eat or sleep. Because before things were totally put away at the camphouse, it was time to begin work on the big house.

Here's a glimpse of our demo projects.

Bye-bye dark wainscoting and parquet wood floor.
 And where a brick wall once made a courtyard, we now have a view.
I tell ya, you give a couple of strapping young lads some sledgehammers and it's amazing what they can do.

But all that hard work makes for some hungry workers, which means one of the workers--okay, supervisors--has to pause to fix dinner.

On this night, I was craving grilled pork tenderloin. But I wanted something different. And what better way to do that than to play with some spices.
Cumin sounded good, so that was my starting point.
Here's what I came up with.

3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder

Mix that all together.
***Note: A pork tenderloin package has two pieces of meat. Since I was experimenting, I seasoned one piece with my usual salt/pepper/garlic/paprika blend, then put the cumin mixture on the other. So if you're coating both pieces of meat, double the amounts above.***

Now just sprinkle the seasoning over the meat and give it a nice rub.
The one in front has the cumin blend.

Place seasoned meat on a heated grill.
  And cook until internal temperature reaches between 145 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
The verdict?

The new seasoning was a hit. Everyone loved it. Tender, juicy, flavorful meat.
And if you're watching your fat, pork tenderloin is as lean as grilled chicken breast, so it's a win-win.

So...there has been one other thing keeping us busy.
 You've heard of a two-dog night. Well, this was a four-snake weekend that started with this non-venomous fella slithering across the camphouse porch.
Luckily our snake-loving son was there to save the day.
Isn't he dressed appropriately?
But I'll consider it all trade off, so long as I get to hang out here.

Now it's your turn. Do you like to play with spices? What are some of your favorites?

Mindy Obenhaus lives in Texas with her husband and the last of her five children. 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 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day 2017

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope you're having a wonderful day of family time, picnics, and fun to kick off summer!

Things are low key today at our house. Hubby is working, and so am I (how better to spend a day alone?). And the dogs will get their morning walk. Tonight we'll have brats (using this recipe, Midwestern Style)

So it's business as usual...except for this:

Memorial Day

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. 

WWI British Cemetery at Abbeville in France, 1918
public domain 

That poem was written May 3, 1915 by John McCrae. He was a Canadian, and a soldier first, and physician second. He had volunteered for service in the Second Boer War, and at the age of 41 volunteered again for duty in World War One. On May 2, 1915, during the second Battle of Ypres, his friend, Alexis Helmer, was killed in battle. Lieutenant Colonel McCrae wrote this poem for his funeral.

Why do we celebrate Memorial Day? So we never forget to remember.

So enjoy your picnics, rest, and family time. But don't forget to remember why we hold this day separate from all the rest...

Have a great holiday, a wonderful week, and I'll see you all next Monday!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Lemon basil asparagus chicken

Hello, everybody! Mary Jane here and I have a delicious recipe for springtime meals! There are quite a few variations of this around on the internet so I read through a few of them and cobbled together my own version. I wondered if it might have too many flavors (I always overdo on the herbs) but it was perfect!
 So... fresh asparagus. Washed and cut into pieces. I love asparagus season! We live in a valley where it's a popular crop so we have no problem finding it for several months of early summer.
 One lemon. One red bell pepper. (I should have gotten two red bell peppers because I kept nibbling pieces. Fresh bell peppers is so good!)

 Oh, random roasted red new potatoes. We tossed them with melted butter, parmesan, salt and pepper. Not really necessary for the recipe. It just sounded good.
 First corn of the season!!!

So, toss the chicken (cut into 2 inch pieces), red bell pepper, asparagus, 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 tsp salt with 1/2 tsp pepper, and 2 TBS lemon juice. Roast at 400F for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the pan and salt/pepper to taste. Cut fresh basil into small pieces and add to the dish.

Easy peasy early summer meal!!
 Something about lemon and asparagus and butter.... YUM.
Behold, my ridiculous kitty. He makes me smile so much!!

OK, that's all for this weekend. I hope everyone is finding spring food popping up in your area. I'm SO glad winter is over and the farmer's markets are on their way!
Pop on by my author pages of Mary Jane Hathaway or Virginia Carmichael for all my book news!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Pasta

Missy Tippens

First, I thought I'd share this fun gift I received the other night...

When my daughter was in high school, she frequently had her friends over to spend the night. Several times, they came to stay after concerts (they loved going to concerts!). Sometimes, the events were on school nights, and we'd get in very late. They would sleep in as late as possible, so I wanted to make sure the girls had something they could grab to take to school with them for breakfast. I always bought them muffins and Starbucks frappuccinos (the grocery store kind).

The girls all just finished their sophomore year of college. Recently, while having dinner together, they recalled the concert night tradition. Well, when they came to spend the night here at our home the other night, one of them brought me my very own muffin and Starbucks! I was really touched by the gift, and the fact that they remembered. I miss having them here all the time.

Now for my quick, clean-out-the-fridge pasta! The other day for lunch I found a small serving of spaghetti in the refrigerator. But I was getting pretty sick of it because I had already eaten it leftover twice. I decided to doctor it up with some vegetables. You can do this with any veggies you have on hand!

First, I heated a drizzle of olive oil and then sautéed some Power Greens that needed to be eaten. Then I added some chopped orange bell pepper, some leftover green peas, and some leftover corn. The corn and peas were in small plastic containers--you know, those tiny ones that barely hold enough to serve one person?

Then for some extra flavor, I added some chopped kalamata olives.

While everything cooked, I heated the spaghetti and meat sauce (actually, it was made with linguine noodles) in the microwave.

Then I topped the spaghetti with the vegetables and sprinkled on parmesan cheese. It turned out beautiful and healthy! And it stretched several small servings of leftovers, that probably would have ended up thrown away, into a serving that was enough for two people.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Patriotic Pie Revisited for Memorial Day!

I am repeating this wonderful pie in time for Memorial Day here in the states, a time to remember those whose sacrifice and service made our freedom the reality we enjoy today! So check this out, it's a hugely popular pie here because it says what we all feel... We stand for the flag and God bless America... and all of us!  FROM 2015:

Susanna Smith inspired this creation by sending me a link on facebook... and I knew I had to make a patriotic pie for Independence Day!

I didn't use the recipe accompanying the picture, it called for canned pie filling and that just isn't the norm here in Ruthy's kitchen, not when making pie filling is really easy-peasy!

So pick a pie crust of your choice. My recipe is here, it's my all-time favorite, but if you buy the pie crust the world as we know it won't end! I promise!!!

Here's the goal, my friends!

And here's how we get there!

I like firm-set pies that cut beautifully, so I do my fillings on the stove-top first. That way, once cool, the pie doesn't ooze and run, but you can just mix the fillings in a bowl and put them in the appropriate sections! I used a deep dish 9" pie pan, so these measurements work for that. If you're not cooking the fillings first on the stovetop (and that's fine!) don't use water! Water is only for pre-cooking, just use berries, sugar, cornstarch and dot with butter.

I didn't have fresh berries and cherries, so I used frozen wild blueberries and frozen strawberries and fresh cherries. Great textures!

Blueberry filling:

3 cups blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon butter

Mix water and blueberries in 2 quart pan on stove top. Heat over medium heat. Mix sugar and cornstarch in bowl, add to hot blueberries, and stir until thick and bubbly, about two minutes. Add in butter, remove from heat, stir and set aside.

Strawberry filling:

4 cups strawberries
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
Do the same thing! Mix strawberries and water in 3 quart pan, bring to boil. Mix sugar and cornstarch together. Add to strawberries, stir while thickening, add butter, stir and set aside.

Add 3 cups fresh pitted cherries to strawberry mixture.

Roll out pie crust and line the pan with it. I took step-by-step pictures of this, and I crimped the edge of the pie crust because I love crimped edges!

Lay crust in pan, trim overhanging edges to about 1" +/- , then fold it under like you see below.

Now to crimp the edge, I poke the inside edge of the crust (closest to where the filling will be) with the index finger of my left hand, and using the thumb and pointer finger of my right hand, I "pinch" a small section of the dough around that pokey finger! Pinch! Pinch! Pinch!!!  And here's a crimped edge:

Yes, I love it!!!!!!

 Fold a piece of aluminum foil to make an "L" and section off a corner of the pan for the blueberry mix.

Fill the small section with blueberry filling.

Fill the large section with the strawberry/cherry filling.

Roll out second crust. Using a little star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out five or six stars, whatever fits on your "blue field".

Cut strips for stripes from the rest of the pie!

I cover the edges with two strips (or so!) of narrow, folded aluminum foil to prevent over-browning. If you don't cook the filling first, pie will need more baking time.

Bake at 425° for about twenty minutes.

And although facebook thought it was too pretty to eat, I assure you, we did eat it, LOL!

Notice how well the filling stays together in the cooled pie. It cuts beautifully, so other than apple pie (apples maintain a better firmness when cooked, and have more pectin) I usually do a quick cook of berry and rhubarb pie fillings.

And here's some 4th of July at the farm!

Maple-glazed bacon made an appearance!!!!

Trimming trees to give the chickens more sun and remove some of the shelter Mr. Coyote has been using to creep around the chicken coop! GO AWAY, COYOTE!

Mr. Coyote might be seeing the business end of ... Wait, I can't say that here! :)

But rest assured, Mr. Coyote would be better served to hunt mice and rats and ... anything but chickens!

And then there's this, a special Happy Independence Day from six-month-old Morgan Delaney...

And here's Morgan now, at our annual "Bake and Make a Memory Day"!

And yes, it wouldn't be a Ruthy post without a glimpse at the books I've got on the shelves right now....

These beautiful cowboy stories are on shelves nationwide right now, at Walmart, Target, Winn Dixie, Winco, Tops Markets, etc.... wherever mass market paperbacks are sold, you'll find Ruthy's westerns!
And do I want you to buy them... well, sure... but most of all, I want you to love them when you read them. Because that's the best thing of all!

Multi-published, bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne loves to chat with folks... you can friend her on facebook, follow her on Twitter, stop by her website or stroll over to her blog and see what's happening in her books... and on the farm!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Lentil Rice Salad for a Busy Night

Time seems to be in short supply in the Cafe lately, which is sad because this is where you come to linger and relax, right.

I have only two words - Summer's coming!

I know for Ruthy that means busy time, but for me it's a time to catch my breath and relax and write.
But I still have a month to go before summer vacation, so the pressure is still on.

And - those 90 degree days from last week gave way to 50s and 60s and rain and clouds. Not inspiring.

My mother used to quote at me the Necessity is the mother of invention.

That sure rang true with this recipe.

Tonight was one of those nights when things just went wrong.

It started with getting delayed at work and getting home late.

I thought I'd gain some time by switching up dinner and making a quick cooking fish rather than roasting a chicken breast.

Except at some point while the fish was cooking, my oven started to click. If any of you have gas stoves, you'll know the sound the electric ignition makes when you turn the knob, but then it stops when you turn it down.

Except no one was turning a knob, and it WOULD NOT STOP!

With visions of exploding gas stoves in my head, I called my husband. I may have called rather loudly and in a panicked voice.

We finally figured out that the clicking sound was the igniter sparking and that it did not involve the gas.


But as my daughter pointed out, we'd have felt a whole lot better if it didn't sound like a ticking bomb.

Google to the rescue. Eventually the ticking slowed and finally stopped.


Those frozen fillets of flounder had shrunk up to practically nothing. My husband informed me he could easily eat it all.

Um, what am I going to have?

Just kidding. I didn't say that to him because I knew he would have given it up (and frankly I'd lost interest in the fish by then).

But I was hungry so I used the rice I'd made for the fish, and cooked some quick sprouted lentils. (5 minutes) I tossed in some Garam Masala for flavor. Smells so good!

But it looked boring. So I opened my favorite salad greens (a mix of baby romaines) and spread the rice/lentil mixture. I had a craving for an orange mixed in, but I had none. So red grapes were added and they were the best part!

Nothing fancy, but it was tasty and filling!

By creepy odd coincidence, the fire department showed up on our block just as my clicking drama was happening. Fortunately they were not there for us!