Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Welcome Katie Drexler to talk about Essential Oils in the Home

Hello all.

The week before last, when we were all in our flu-prevention/treatment mode, Katie Drexler commented about how she used essential oils in her home.
I was  particularly interested because I have experimented with them some, but I'm really a novice at it.
I reached out to Katie and asked if she would consider sharing her knowledge with us. She graciously agreed, so today, I bring you Katie and her wisdom and experience using essential oils in her home. 

Essential Oils in The Home
Hello from this pure-bred South Dakota girl! I am excited to be with you guys today on the other side of the blog! Huge thanks to Cate for inviting me on to talk about how we use Essential Oils in our home.

 When I started to think about what I was going to share I started listing off what we use oils for and realized my husband and I use essential oils in our everyday living often. If you are working with essential oils make sure you are using a reliable brand. I personally prefer doTERRA oils. Today I am going to touch base on four different uses:

1)     Flu Bomb

I got this recipe from one of my mom-friends she is a mother of FOUR and this is what she had to say about it Every time someone has had something here, either stomach flu or influenza, I do this and it shortens and lessens the severity AND prevents the others from getting it. Special thanks to Missy for the recipe! Now this recipe does call for one specific oil that is sold by doTERRA called On Guard. Link here:

Things You Need

On Guard, Oregano, Lemon, and Melaleuca (Tea Tree) essential oils, and carrier oil of choice (I use fractionated coconut oil)
Mix one drop of each with one Tbsp of carrier oil. You can apply to soles of feet, chest, or throat. If you have a diffuser you can also diffuse a drop of each without carrier oil. When we are sick, my husband and I actually will put a drop or two of each oil we are using in a glass with a small amount of our favorite juice to mask the taste as much as we can and just drink it. (Remember to make sure all the oils you are using are made to be ingested) I like to do that because your body doesnt have to wait for a capsule to dissolve. You can also use a vegetable capsule to take the blend internally. It is said that oregano is natures antibiotic so it doesnt hurt to diffuse it on its own.

2)     Cleaning the Kitchen Sink with Lemon Oil

Things You Need 

Lemon oil, non-scratch scrub pad, and paper towels
I know this may sound silly because it is so simple! One of my favorite things to do is to clean the kitchen sink out with a few drops of lemon oil. It leaves a nice shine and smells lemony fresh! All you have to do is put just a few drops of lemon oil in the sink, scrub it around until you feel you have scrubbed all the grub out of your sink, rinse with water and wipe out with a paper towel. I took a photo and it doesnt do the shiny sink justice, but it still looks good!xx

3)     Cleaning Dogs Ears 

Things You Need

Dogs with dirty waxy ears, cotton balls, Melaleuca oil, Fractionated Coconut oil, dog treat (bribes are ok sometimes), and an extra human
Our dogs have big floppy ears and at times they get something in them that causes them to get wax build up and causes what could be a dog version of an ear infection. A dogs skin can be sensitive so you must use caution by doing a test spot before going full on with the oils. Because Melaleuca is so strong you just mix one drop of the oil with about a teaspoon and a half of fractionated coconut oil. You then let a cotton ball soak up the oil and get your extra human to help soothe the dog while you gently clean their ear with the oiled cotton ball. Just do not go all the way in the ear. If you have a dog with more folds in their ear a Q-tip will work as long as you have the dog secure so they wont move. Once all is said and done, give the pup a treat and they will immediately forgive you for making them live through a trauma that could keep them out of the vets office. Usually we have to do this about two or three times, no more than once a day, before it is fully clear. If trying this please do use caution and make sure it is deluted properly and if you are using a brand that you don't know is pure melaleuca oil please ask your vet before using on your pet. 

 Cate back adding a note: I know that tea tree oil is very dangerous for cats because apparently there is something in there that their bodies can't process, so if you have cats in the house, take extra care!

4)     Peppermint for Motion Sickness and Headaches

Things You Need
Peppermint oil (either in a roll-on or plain)
Living in the Black Hills sometimes it feels like I am riding in a roller coaster because I struggle with motion sickness. Then I discovered my peppermint roll-on oil! If you dont have a roll-on, all you need to do is take one drop of peppermint oil and place it by your temples. The aroma will do the work from there! Do a test patch on your skin first and if you need to make sure you dilute it with a carrier oil. The premade roll-on already does that work for you or you can purchase roll-on bottles and make one yourself with peppermint oil and a carrier oil of choice.

These are just four ways we use oils in our every day lives and I am so glad I got to share today! Now I will leave you with a final photo of a Curry Thai vegetable chicken soup I made for my husband this last week. Sorry no recipe, but I can tell you I used ginger essential oil in it for flavor and that is why I wanted to share! He gave it a 7 out of 10 only because it did not have pita bread to go with it. I would say pretty good score considering I dont care for curry and it was a special soup just for him!

Thank you so much, Katie for being with us today. I'd love to hear from others in the comments with any of your own experiences or questions!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Chicken and Dumplings

Mindy here with a bit of a headache. You see, I've been banging my head against the wall, trying to decide what to share with y'all today. I didn't even have any cool pictures I could share. I finally came up with something, however, I knew I'd shared it before, so I searched the archives to discover that not only had I, indeed, shared this favored recipe with you before, it was my very first post here at the Yankee-Belle Café, six years ago this week. Hard to believe I've been here this long. I thought for sure Ruthy and Missy would get sick of me and kick me out after a couple of months. But here I am. So rather than rework my original post, I thought I'd leave it intact. Just for fun.
Happy Tuesday, Yankee-Belle faithfuls. Well, the Yank and the Belle have gone and done it now. They've given this Texan--aka Mindy Obenhaus--keys to the cafe. Yep, no telling what you might find jalapenos or chipotle in now.

Ah, but we Texans aren't all about Tex-Mex. We like good ol' down home comfort food too. Actually, I'll let you in on a little secret. I grew up a Yankee. However, I got to Texas as fast as I could. I love everything about Texas. The people, the food, the diversity of this great state, and the heat. Okay, I fibbed on that last one.

Once I got here, though, I latched onto a great-mom and grandmama who knew how to cook. That means I learned from the best. Given my dual heritage, though, I'm just glad Ruthy didn't decide to call this Tuesdays with the Tank.

Today we'll continue Ruthy's fowl comfort food theme with Great-mom's chicken and dumplings. I LOVE this stuff. And if chicken soup is good for the soul, chicken and dumplings must be a double blessing.

First we need to make our chicken stock, which will also provide us with the chicken half of our chicken and dumplings. So, in a large dutch oven or stock pot, add one chicken (I leave mine whole, but remove the skin so there's less fat), two or three carrots cut into thirds, a couple stalks of celery (I left the leaves on mine), one onion, quartered, 1 Tbs. salt (I use kosher), and  3/4 tsp. ground black pepper or 1 1/2 tsp. peppercorns. After I took this picture I found some thyme in the fridge, so I added a couple sprigs of that as well.

Now add three quarts of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for one hour.

Cool slightly, then remove chicken and vegetables. Strain broth, discarding solids.

Once the bird has cooled, remove the meat from the bone and shred. The veggies don't make it into the soup, however they do make a great snack.

Return broth to stove, add chicken, and bring to boiling. *NOTE* I try to skim as much of the fat as possible from the broth. If there's time, I will put it in the fridge and then skim.

While you're waiting for the broth to boil, prepare your dumplings.

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil (I use canola)
  • Approx. 1 1/2-1 3/4 cups self-rising flour (if the mixture seems too sticky, add more flour in small amounts)
Turn dough onto a floured surface and kneed a handful of times.

From here, it's up to your personal preference. Some like their dumplings big, others like them small. I like a bite of dumpling in every spoonful. My sons want as little dumplings as possible. Personally, I think that's just wrong, but they're brats.

You can roll out the dough and cut it into pieces. That's too much work for me so I flatten a portion of dough on a cutting board, slice into strips, then cut the dumplings into the boiling broth mixture with a scrapper or knife. Remember, you can add as many or as few as you like.

Once you've added all your dumplings, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Then you're ready for a bowlful of pleasure. One sure to warm the cockles of your heart (Does anyone know just where that is?).

Now, if you're intimidated by making the dumplings, here's a secret shortcut--canned biscuits. (Ooo, did y'all hear Ruthy gasp?) Just break or cut them into pieces and drop into boiling broth. Easy-peasy.

Oh, here comes Ruthy again. She's been pacing the kitchen the entire time. She's so protective of the cafe. Missy's at the counter, hiding behind her laptop. Man, her fingers are moving across that keyboard faster than a Texas tornado. Looks like she's got a new story brewing. Speaking of brewing, I think Ruthy's gone through that entire pot of coffee already. Don't worry, gang, I gotcha covered.
Here we are, back to present day. That was fun, though. You know, Ruthy still paces the kitchen. Except for this past week, because she's been sick. But as we all know, not even the flu can defeat our precious Yank. She might have slowed down a little, but she's too determined to let anything beat her. 

I'm still blown away that I've been here at the Yankee-Belle for six years. It seems like only yesterday. No matter how long it's been, though, I've loved every minute.

Now it's your turn. So what do you want to talk about? Ruthy? Your favorite soup? A special relative who taught you how to cook? The upcoming BIG game? The floor is yours. Have at it.

Mindy Obenhaus lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the youngest of her five children and two dogs. 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, January 29, 2018

Big Breakfast, Low Carb Style

Jan here, with full disclosure: we are not vegetarians at our house.

But I do love to incorporate as many veggies as possible into our meals.

That gets a little difficult this time of year when fresh veggies can be scarce. I've talked about this other winters - we live hundreds of miles from the nearest big city, so transportation becomes a problem. Add the sub-zero freezing temperatures that we often have in the winter, and fragile fresh produce is at risk. On our last trip to Walmart, the produce department was almost bare and we could tell that a shipment hadn't survived the journey to the store.

So, what do we do?

If we can't find fresh veggies, we go with frozen.

I love the zero waste and convenience frozen veggies provide. I buy fresh veggies when I am able to, but frozen is my winter-time go-to.

Another veggie that is a recent addition to our grocer's freezer case is riced cauliflower.

Have you ever seen this? It's convenience overload!

I cook a bag full of riced cauliflower at the beginning of the week, and use it with my breakfast or lunch dishes all week long.

My favorite way to use it is in a huge breakfast: eggs, bacon, and "hashbrowns"...all low carb.

Super easy -

Big Breakfast, low carb style


2 eggs
1 cup riced cauliflower, cooked
butter or coconut oil

from here on, use your add-ins of choice:

bacon, cooked and chopped
sliced mushrooms
minced onion
minced garlic
frozen or fresh chopped kale
frozen or fresh chopped spinach
diced zucchini or yellow squash

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, saute your cauliflower and other ingredients in the butter or oil until the veggies are cooked and beginning to brown. (If you're using frozen veggies, turn the heat down and cover your skillet for a few minutes to thaw them first.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Push the "hash" to the side of the skillet, add a little more butter or oil, turn the heat up to medium, and add your eggs. You can scramble them or fry doesn't matter.

When the eggs are cooked the way you like, place the "hash" and eggs on a plate. Season to your liking (I like to add some nutritional yeast on top) and enjoy!

This is a huge, filling breakfast. And did you notice that we've added no carbs?

Of course, you can substitute potatoes for the cauliflower if you want to! No rules! This is a meal to put together the way YOU like it!

What is your favorite breakfast?

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan

Friday, January 26, 2018

Kale and Farro Stew Revisited

I've been trying to find this recipe to make again, so I'm re-sharing it. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Missy Tippens

I tried a new recipe a couple of weeks ago that I saw in a demo at the grocery store. Publix has a booth where they make recipes and let you taste them. They provide the recipe on a card and have all the ingredients you need nearby in one place so that it makes grabbing dinner items easy!

Click here for the original recipe. The only thing I did differently was use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth. Just about the whole family had been sick with a cold, so I wanted to use the chicken broth since I long ago heard that it can help with congestion.

I won't share the whole recipe since you can click the link above and see it. But I thought I'd share the photos I took while making it.

Here are all the ingredients and the handy-dandy recipe card. I have a notebook I put them in.

Here are the chopped "trinity" of celery, carrots and onion. I cooked them in oil for the 3 minutes and then added the garlic so it wouldn't burn.

Then sautéing in oil.

Then you add in the broth, tomatoes, faro and spices. Simmer.

And next, stir in the kale (I actually used a bag of baby kale, chard and spinach) and beans. 

At the end, you brighten it up with lemon juice and zest and parsley. It never stated how much lemon juice, so I juiced the whole lemon. It was too much. (Can you say pucker up?!) I'd say only do half (or less).

Look how beautiful it looks! So colorful and healthy looking.

Then you sprinkle on feta cheese, which adds a nice bite and creaminess to it.

Ta-da! A hearty, tasty meal.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


Well, we are self-quarantined because we have a dreadful bug going around our house... So a couple of us are hiding out on the second floor, avoiding the spread of germs...

Which means I have very little to offer for fun this week!


Having said that, into each life some rain must fall, so I'm hoping next week will be better. But there is this I'm sharing, done with cube steaks....

And it's like an old-fashioned diner meal!

First, I pounded out the cube steaks slightly.... and cut them into smaller pieces. And I sliced up a big, sweet onion... Beef and onions? Yes!

Then I shook the steaks in a simple flour/salt/pepper/garlic powder blend to coat them.

Heat a large frying pan with olive oil, not too much.... Just cover the bottom, plus a little! :)

Set the cube steaks into the heated oil.  Brown on both sides... Set into big roaster or broiler pan when done... and do the rest of the cube steaks (Yes, we were feeding a crowd...)

When done, add water to the drippings... stir and heat... pour over the pan of steak and onions.

Cover and heat in oven at 300 degrees for about an hour, until fork tender.

Now you can thicken the broth, or serve it just like this. Great with pasta or a side of potatoes, or just on its own for a high-protein, low-carb choice!

And then this is farm life in winter in Western New York.... Snowblowing after a foot of overnight snow last week....

A kitten in a nest....

Sunrise through the trees from my kitchen window! The winter sunrises are often alive with color because of the hovering cloud banks...

Isn't that so fun?????

So that's how life is going up here... other than being sick, we're blessed to be warm. Snug. Fed!!!

Counting our blessings!

Multi-published inspirational author Ruthy Logan Herne loves to cook and bake but she mostly loves to write sweet stories that bring faith, hope and love alive for the reader... That's her happy place! :) Follow her on Twitter, Friend her on facebook, e-mail her at or visit her website she loves to talk and visit with readers and authors!  (In the interest of full disclosure, this picture is of the NON-SICK Ruthy... The sick Ruthy does not resemble this today.... But she is hopeful to resemble this again soon!!!!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Summery Splash of Color for January

A couple of weeks ago, right after our blizzard and snow days, I was craving tomatoes.

I don't know exactly what it was. Maybe I was tired of all the winter squashes and soups and stews (which I DO love), but I wanted something fresh and colorful, and, well, summery.

But every store had the same stock problem - pallid, sad-looking, more yellowish-orange than red spheres that were trying to pass as tomatoes.

I was resigned. No tomatoes for me.


I happened on the most amazing looking, bright red, plump tomatoes.

I just knew I had to do something special with them.

I had some leftover chicken which I shredded. I tossed on some oregano, basil, and garlic.

Added the chopped tomatoes on top and topped with cheese. (Note the parchment paper? That was because last time, I lost half the cheesy goodness when it stuck to the pan.)

I like my cheese crusty, so I cooked it until it looked almost burnt.

There's a peek inside under the cheese crust.

While the chicken and tomatoes were cooking, I boiled up some cavatappi, then spooned the deliciousness on top.

So, do you crave summer dishes in winter and winter dishes in summer, or is it just me?

 I might be crazy, but I prefer to think I just like variety.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Butterscotch Brownies for the Win!

Mindy here, and would you believe that we actually had winter here in south-central Texas last week? Yes, I can say it like that because while winter may, indeed, pay the Lone Star state a visit, it never sticks around long. That's probably why we get so excited when it snows. We know it'll be gone in a day or two, instead of dragging on into March or April. And deep inside, I think that's why officials call off school for only a half an inch of the white stuff. We never know when it'll show up again!
Unfortunately, this was the extent of our "snow." And it wasn't really snow, but sleet. And only toward the end. No, what we got was freezing rain, aka ice.
Granted this wasn't near as bad as the Icemagedon we had in North Texas a few years back, but when you're talking ice, even a little can cause a whole lot of trouble.

So I stayed inside and simply enjoyed the view. I love looking out of my kitchen windows. No roads or privacy fences. Just trees and who knows what else.
Cattle, coyote, a hawk, feral hogs... Or just a couple of does enjoying a lazy Saturday. Can you see them there at the back?
By the time gameday arrived, though, the ice was a distant memory as temps moved into the 70s. If only our temperatures would be so varied in the summer.

But it was gameday and I was in search of a quick dessert for me and my guys. But what? I wasn't in the mood for chocolate (did I really say that?). I wanted something more substantial than cookies, plus I didn't want a huge batch of anything because yours truly would eat all the leftovers. I was in one of those moods where I had no idea what I was hungry for.

Then a taste popped into my mind. Something I hadn't had in years. Something I used to make when I was a kid. It was easy. Check. I had all of the ingredients. Check. It only made an 8x8 pan. Score!

When I was growing up, back before the internet and Food Network, if I wanted to make something, my search started, and usually ended, with Mom's Betty Crocker Cookbook. So, just like I did back then, I reached for Betty and quickly located these quick and easy Butterscotch Brownies. Though I think I prefer the name blond brownies. Whatever you call them, they're yummy.

Here's what you'll need:
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup chopped pecans
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Melt shortening, either on the stove or in the microwave on a low setting. You don't want it to get hot. To the shortening, add the brown sugar, egg and vanilla and mix well.
Blend in flour, baking powder and salt.
Then add your pecans.
 And stir to combine.
Spread the mixture into a greased 8x8 baking pan.
Yes, it will be thick, so take your time.

Bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. You want the brownies to be warm when you cut them, not hot like mine were.
They'll come out prettier if you wait until they're warm. But either way, they'll still taste delicious. This was exactly the flavor a was looking for. And that crunch of pecan... YUM!

I am contemplating something for the next time I make these small-portion babies. What if I substituted butter for the shortening? They're both fats, so I don't think it would change the texture. The flavor, though... Well, it would definitely be more buttery. And that's not a bad thing. 

I'll keep you posted.

So teams for the "BIG GAME" have been decided--the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. Though I don't really care as much about the teams as I do the actual game and, of course, THE FOOD. Whether my Cowboys are in the mix or not, it's still party time. Not to  mention the one day when people actually look forward to the commercials. As I recall, last year's were kind of lame, so I'm hoping for better things in 2018.

Now it's your turn. Did you do much cooking/baking when you were young? Did you have a go-to cookbook? How about a favorite recipe? If so, when was the last time you revisited that recipe?

Mindy Obenhaus lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, the youngest of her five children and two dogs. 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