Monday, July 31, 2017

Summer Fruit Trifle and Cowboy Music

Are you enjoying this summer? I hope so, because it's slipping away!

Jan here, with a great summertime recipe.

One advantage to having adult children is that sometimes they find that perfect person to marry and bring into the family!

Our oldest son, Jacob, married Katie in February, and her love of cooking has fit so well into our family! She gave me permission to share the recipe she brought to our church picnic last week, and I thought it was so delicious - perfectly smooth and cool for a summer meal!

Summer Fruit Trifle


2  8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
2 tubs frozen whipped topped (Cool Whip)
2 cups strawberries
2 cups blueberries
2 cups blackberries

In large bowl, mix softened cream cheese and whipped topping together. In another bowl, mix the fruit together - gently!

In a trifle dish or other serving dish, make layers of fruit and filling (about 3 layers of each), ending with a layer of fruit. Cover and chill for 2-3 hours before serving.

Isn't that easy? And it was SO GOOD!!! 

And Katie used sugar free whipped topping, which made the recipe a little easier on the calorie punch.

You could also use real whipped cream, of course!

While you're enjoying your trifle, let's move on to other fun stuff. I'm sure you realize by now that I am in love with the Black Hills. After almost seven years, we still thank our Lord every day for bringing us here!

Saturday night we spent the evening with a bunch of folks who are deep in their own love affairs with the Hills!

That's our daughter, Carrie, on the bass, playing with the classic country group, Aces & Eights. This summer they're headlining monthly shows at the Black Hills Opry. The concerts are played in the historic Homestake Opera House.

The Opera House deserves an entire blog post of its own, but you'll just have to head to their website to get the scoop - Historic Homestake Opera House

There are better videos on Youtube where you can listen to Aces & Eights, but this one includes Carrie. It's from "Deadwood Days" earlier this summer when they opened for Sawyer Brown. Yes, THE Deadwood. Check out the Aces and Eights Youtube channel for more of their music -

On Saturday, Aces & Eights was joined by some guests. One was Paul Larson. This guy is a cowboy who retired from the Rodeo Circuit after qualifying and competing in the Worlds Finals Rodeo in the team roping event. He has made his home in the Black Hills, keeping busy with cowboying for neighbors, custom carpentry, and singing in shows like this one. 

For a sample of his music, head over to his website,, and scroll down to the mp3 samples. His song, "Home" is my favorite. True Black Hills cowboy imagery. *sigh* I love this song...and of course, I bought the CD. :)

The other guests - and the reason why we chose Saturday to head up to Lead for the concert - were Allen and Jill Kirkham.

You may know them better as Meg Brummer's parents!

Yes, Meg comes from cowboy music loving stock. :)

Allen and Jill on stage at the Black Hills Opry

Head over to Reverb Nation to learn more about their music and listen to some samples -

Or just listen to this classic cowboy song from their "Ghost Towns" CD - 

Or this one by Dan Seals, sung by Allen and Jill at the Western Music Association Friday Night Opry- -

Needless to say, we had a wonderful time.

So what do you think about Cowboy Tunes and Western Music?

When I listen to it, it tugs me toward writing another cowboy story....

Jan Drexler loves her family, her home, cooking and just about anything made by hand. But she loves her Lord most of all.

Stop by Jan's website to learn more about her books:

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Cranberry Apricot Scones with orange sauce

Hello, everybody! Mary Jane here with a repost recipe. I'm so bummed because I just spent the last hour trying to get my pictures to upload and... nada! Zilch!! It's a no-go. I'm not sure what the problem is. 
WE participated in a Farmer's Market in a town near us and had a great time (even thought it was close to 100F- yuck). The kids made so many cool crafts, cookies, brownies, paintings, and I brought my books. We met a lot of great people!

We also made cranberry- apricot scones and they were a big hit! So... I guess I'll repost that recipe here. They were just as good as they were in 2015!

Preheat the oven to 375F
The ingredients for the scones:
2 cups flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs orange zest
5 tbs chilled butter
1.5 cups cranberries
1/2 cup dried apricots
1 cup whipping cream
The orange drizzle:
3 tbs butter
1.5 cup powdered sugar
3 tbs orange juice
So, as I said... cranberries. Delicious and packed full of antioxidants, and are high in fiber,vitamin C and K. Mine were frozen and a lot easier to chop.
 MMM. Dried apricots. I sent my teens to the store to get dried apricots but didn't specify how much. Instead of calling, they returned with two giant bags. YUMMY. I could hardly be mad, since they were so delicious. We snacked on them for a few days, completely ignoring our apples and pears.
 Mix the cranberries and apricots together.
 Add dry ingredients and cut in the chilled butter.
 Add the cream to the fruit.
 Looks terrible. I have faith this will be great! If it's not... I shall cry lots of tears.
 Mix in the dry ingredients with the fruit. I think we over stirred because it turned pink!
 Make 1 inch think disks.
 Hmmm... It smells delicious but I wasn't sure how this was going to taste.
 Cut it like a pizza.
 Lay out several inches apart.
 Crossing my fingers! Into the oven they go. Bake for 15 minutes. I checked them at ten and them seemed done, but I wanted to make sure they didn't fall to pieces, so I gave them another few minutes.
 With the orange drizzle...
 AMAZING! Even the pickiest eaters enjoyed these. My husband, who doesn't like sweets, thought they were really good. I think scones are more like pan dulce or the sweet bread he's used to. Also, the dried fruit gave it such a satisfying texture. Scones are soft and buttery, and the dried fruit was a great counterpoint.

So, that's all for now! Be sure to visit my authors pages at Virginia Carmichael or Mary Jane Hathaway to find all my latest book news! 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Pork Roast...Chop

Missy Tippens

I've shared a recipe very similar to this in 2014. It's called Harriet's Pork Tenderloin. And that was what I intended to make with a pork tenderloin I had in the fridge the other day. But then I got caught up in my work, and looked up and realized it was already past 5:30 and the roast would take an hour. (We usually eat around 6.)

Soooo... I decided to slice the roast into chops and cook them in the skillet.

First, I sliced the tenderloin into thick porkchops--maybe 3/4 to 1 inch thick.

I melted some butter in an iron skillet along with a drizzle of olive oil. Then I salted and peppered the pork and placed it in the hot skillet.

I browned the meat on one side for a couple of minutes, then turned it. I actually added some white wine to it, but may not do that again because it messed up the caramelization on the second side. I guess maybe a dash of wine would be okay. Once flipped to the second side, I put the lid on to let the meat cook for about 5-7 more minutes.

For the last couple of minutes, I took the lid off to let all the liquid cook down.

Then I decided to make a sauce that's similar to the original recipe. I added a couple of pats of butter to the skillet. Then I stirred in 2 heaping tablespoons of apricot preserves. Stir and mix until the preserves are melted and and mixed well with the melted butter.

These pork chops turned out to be melt-in-your-mouth tender! They were amazing. You can serve them over rice, which goes really well with the sauce.

I served them with sautéed portobello mushrooms and asparagus. Turned out to be a great side dish.

A very quick and delicious meal!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Peach Pie Recipe from Grandma Blodgett

I've posted this before... but it's peach season and this is the best peach pie I've ever made. 

My mother-in-law isn't a baker, but she had this pie and realized it had all the components I love in a pie... great taste, a blend of textures (flaky crust, delicious filling) and it wasn't soggy.

I don't like soggy crust.

I like that balance of crust to cream/fruit, etc. That's what makes pie so special to me, and this recipe has that wonderful balance so here it is... and while you're reading this, I'm at a Cleveland Indians game so that Farmer Dave can see Mike Trout play for the Los Angeles Angels... because he missed Trout in NYC. Trout was out on injuries and this is part of Dave's bucket list: To see a future hall-of-famer play. 

Now mind you, he's seen a lot of Hall of Fame guys play in the last ten years, but Trout's not on this side of the country very often, so off we go.... and this weekend our house fills with kids and grandkids for our annual "CousinPalooza" celebration... and this pie is on the menu!

Okay, here it is, as promised!  I can't believe I didn't post this a few weeks ago. We are to say NOTHING of Ruthy's memory lapses from this point forward, 'kay????



So here is the basic pic of recipe ingredients:

 Of course, you need pie crust so go HERE and use my Country Tearoom recipe that has won awards all over the place. I know this because the magazine said so a gazillion years ago when dinosaurs made pies.

Basic recipe with Ruthy flair:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 Tbsp. quick cooking tapioca
Dash salt  * Note for you purists.... Add it. Look at what Lindt has done for dark chocolate by adding a hint of sea salt???? Chocolate covered pretzels??? Delish, right? Trust me, adding incidental hints of salt and savory tastes will not (most likely) end the world. And it gives a background pizzazz.

1 1/4   cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon  or nutmeg or both (if desired)  It's great with or without the spices, but I love the scent and taste of fall.

Peel and slice 6-7 cups of fresh peaches, or use frozen peaches, thawed and drained

Combine all dry ingredients. Mix all but a tablespoon or two of the heavy cream with the vanilla. Save the extra bit of cream for brushing the top crust...  Add to sugar mixture.   Add peaches. Toss lightly. Let sit for 10-15 minutes while you do the crust.

Take two sections of pie crust, either fresh or frozen. Roll one out to fit a deep dish 9" pan. Don't roll top crust yet...

Once peach/sugar/cream mixture has sat a while and maybe you've had a cup of coffee or a glass of tea, roll that top crust out. Using a sharp knife or 'ruffle edge' cutter, make a bunch of 1" (one inch wide) ribbons of crust. To do a lattice crust, start in the middle of the pie with the longest pieces. You usually only use about 10-12 pieces of crust, and if you start in the middle, you can easily raise the piece below up enough to "weave" the next piece of crust. It's like making a potholder only more delicious than any stretchy cotton yarn I've ever eaten. And I've had my share!

Tuck the edges under, then flute the edge by pinching. Brush remaining cream over the pie crust and sprinkle with sugar. When the little boys help me sprinkle with sugar we get LOTS OF SUGAR.

They were nowhere to be found today, so we have NORMAL sugary sparkles!!!

I use aluminum foil strips to prevent the edges from over-browning. I'm fussy that way. I like them golden, not brown. But then, I like wimpy toast, too. Clearly, I'm a wuss.

Eat. Eat. Eat. Truly, this is by far the best peach pie I have ever eaten. I'm not a peach pie person, although I love peaches. I hate soggy pies. I get SO MAD when a pie crust is ruined by day 2 because the crust is soggy. Obviously I'm a little OCD when it comes to pie, but this pie????

Oh.... THIS PIE doesn't do that. It's just perfect, even several days in.

'Sall I'm sayin'.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Differentiating Meals

There's this thing in education - one of the newer fads, if you will, called differentiating instruction.

In theory, it's great. It's basically grouping within a class, but not calling it grouping and actually creating the groups based on interests, learning styles, talents, etc.

I say in theory because every teacher I have ever spoken to about this says it is way too much work to have it happen on a regular basis in a self-contained class. Sort of like creating separate lesson plans for each lesson for each child in your class. Um, nice - in theory.

In reality, we modify it.

It occurred to me that differentiation is rather similar to cooking meals for my family. I start with a base and then change it up to meet preferences.

Just like education today is not the way it was when I was in school, my meal prep is nothing like my mother's.  She was of the I cooked it, you eat it mindset. I have too many horrific memories of struggling to swallow tongue. I just cannot inflict that on my family.

Today's recipe comes via just such a differentiated meal.

My husband was having flank steak. I really wanted a salad that had beets. So I improvised.

 I took some of the flank steak
and simmered it in horseradish sauce.
 I had some beets that I'd cooked and then frozen. I'd planned to use them in a smoothie, but I had the sudden inspiration that they would taste good in my salad.
You can still see the ice in this photo.
The icy beets were delicious.

I plated it with the greens in the middle with the horseradish steak on top. The horseradish acted as a dressing. Then I arranged the beets and slices of orange.

Really, all very delicious. This is definitely a salad I will make again. The flavors really blended together well.

So, the sad news around here is Fenway busted something in his other leg. I fear it's another ripped ACL. We're off to see the surgeon this afternoon.

He is such a sad pup tonight.

But earlier today, something he was dreaming had him happy!

So, what is dinner time like at your house? Do you "differentiate" or "make 'em eat tongue?"

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Baking Therapy with Easy Coconut Cake

Mindy here and we are now down to the studs throughout the entire house. The only place drywall remains is in the closets.

This was not part of the original plan, but I love that the house is going to have a fresh start.

I must admit, though, that the renovation process can sometimes be stressful. And in my book, the best way to combat stress is to bake. Okay, so the flip side of that coin is eating, but we won’t go there.

On this occasion, I asked hubby what he was in the mood for. His request? Coconut cake.
Perfect! I’d just pinned a sour cream coconut cake recipe to one of Pinterest boards and I was eager to try it out. You all know how much I love cakes with sour cream in them.
So here’s what you’ll need:

1 white cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
4 tablespoons melted butter
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
1 cup sweetened flake coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease 9x13 baking pan with butter or spray.
Combine all ingredients except coconut in a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides then continuing mixing at medium speed for two minutes.
Fold in coconut with a spoon or spatula and pour into prepared pan.
Bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from oven and allow to cool before frosting.

I wasn’t a fan of the frosting recipe that accompanied the original cake recipe, so I took this from another coconut cake recipe. This version is a little more like a spreadable glaze than a frosting, but yummy nonetheless.

1 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup sweetened flake coconut

Whisk all ingredients except coconut together until smooth then fold in coconut.
Spread over cake.
Top with more coconut.
And enjoy!

This cake was very tasty as is, however I do think I will change a few things next time. For starters, the original cake recipe called for a teaspoon of coconut extract. I did not have any and was not about to run into town, so I skipped it all together. That said, I think I will add it in next time for more coconutty flavor and/or substitute some of that Bakers brand coconut milk that comes in a blue can for the regular milk.

The original glaze recipe also called for coconut extract but, again, I wasn’t about to drive into town for that one thing so I used vanilla instead. Ah, the things one learns when they go rural.

But I’ll take it. I mean, where else can Maddie enjoy her post as top deer/cow watcher when we go for our evening drives?

And I love taking in the views unobstructed by buildings.

Now it’s your turn. What's your favorite way to beat stress?

Mindy Obenhaus lives on a ranch 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