Friday, November 30, 2018

Missy's New Kitchen Gadget!

Missy Tippens

I have a new appliance in my kitchen! Thanks to Audra Harders's recommendation, I splurged and bought an air fryer for myself during all the big sales last week. I used it yesterday for the first time and thought I'd share!

I had a craving for tater tots. :) Plus, I wanted to add some veggies. Audra had said how much she loves to make crunchy vegetable snacks, so I poured a bag of frozen, whole green beans onto the tots.

I cooked for 18 minutes at 400 degrees, shaking halfway through.

The tots turned out great! And with no oil at all. The beans were overdone. I learned a lesson! I should have added them about halfway through when I was doing the shaking. I think it would have been just perfect that way.

You can see that the beans look a little dark. They were hard to chew--although I found some that were still good to eat.

I'm pleased and look forward to trying other dishes in my new air fryer. I especially want to try chicken wings! I LOVE wings at restaurants but the frying oil and skin make them high-calorie. I want to try them with and without skin in the air fryer. Will let you know how it goes!

Have y'all tried this gadget yet?

for His Perfect Christmas, click here!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Gales of November

You know it's November when the winds start gusting on Arctic Clipper systems... and lake effect snow pummels Erie, PA, Buffalo, NY, Wyoming and Allegany Counties, NY, my area outside of Rochester and the Tug Hill Plateau.

These are all big snow venues depending on wind direction. Yesterday's winter storm warning gave us about 5 inches here by me, while Wyoming County (east of Lake Erie) got hammered....

Isn't this beautiful? So "Currier and Ives" which is my way of saying the snow has cleaned up the look of display pieces and pallets we haven't moved to the back lot as yet... :) It's amazing how much better things look in the snow than in the mud! 

And by late afternoon the temps had gone up and it sprinkled... then rained... all from the same thing, wind off the lake to add "oomph" to a fairly small storm system... and then pouring, driving sleet by nine o'clock last night.

What a day!

We never take the gales of November lightly around the Great Lakes. They're quite real and shippers still use these massive bodies of water to reach inland harbors in Ohio and Michigan and Wisconsin.

For us landlubbers, it just means a whole lot of precipitation as cold air rushes over warmer waters. But for the shipping industry, it can spell a whole lot of trouble. "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is more than a popular song dating back to the 1970's... it was an actual wreck of a freighter on Lake Superior that lost 29 lives. The entire crew. And the biggest freighter on the waters.

What a heartbreak.


That link takes you to a memorial site set up by family members of the lost crew and the timeline shows how scary this must have been....

So, yeah, we take lake squalls and lake effect snows and storms seriously but we are well-equipped to handle them up here so six inches of snow? We just call that "Wednesday" hereabouts! :)

There is something wonderful about comfort food. Tis the season for all kinds of things, but fresh breads and soups and stews and chicken-and-biscuit-type meals are the thing right now. And the time of waitful and hopeful anticipation is upon us! Advent starts on Sunday and my porch flag says Christmas is approaching!

Shepherd's Pie is a favorite around here over the winter. I use the Alton Brown recipe for Shepherd's pie (which is basically seasoned ground meat.... veggie mix... and mashed potatoes piled on top. When I want to make Shepherd's Pie I make sure to make extra potatoes a day or two before to cut down on preparation time.)  Here's the link!

But while I say I use that recipe, I really don't. I don't use lamb... or rosemary or thyme... because I'm using beef. But I do use onion, garlic, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and chicken broth.

And I don't mix the veggies in with the meat. I take a package of frozen mixed vegetables, thaw them, and put them over the hot meat in an oven-safe casserole or deep frying pan.

And then I pile the mashed potatoes on top and smooth them out.

Bake at 350 degrees until the potatoes begin to brown lightly on the top.

Serve  hot.

So what's "comfort food" by you?  I'd love to hear about it!

And this is what my son and daughter-in-law found at Kohl's last week. They asked "What would you like for Christmas?" and I said "Peace on earth, joy to the world and people to love each other."

They texted me while they were out shopping "WE FOUND YOUR PRESENT!!!"


Wishing you a beautiful first weekend of Advent! We'll be setting up our Advent wreath... Lena and Finn will be helping with the Nativity set today... and we'll pray for peace... love... and joy!

Multi-published, award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne loves to write sweet stories of regular people... Like the ones who live on your street. Your block, In your building. She writes in the wee small hours of the night when no one is around but her and the dogs and a cat or two... and in the winter, these late night scribblings are so very, very quiet! You can find her at, friend her on facebook, follow her on Bookbub and e-mail her at
 She loves to hear from folks!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Peanut Clusters - Let the Candy Making Begin

The pumpkin pie is gone. Only the last dregs of turkey and dressing remain. That can only mean one thing.
Yet as the Christmas decorations go up, I find myself craving some of those traditional holiday treats. You know, the cookies, the candy... Those things that only come out this time of year. But when you're up to your elbows in tinsel and twinkling lights, who has time to bake/candy make? If only we could do both. At the same time.

Well, have I got the perfect recipe for you. One where you dump everything into your crockpot and let it do the cooking.

Here's what you'll need:
  • 1 pkg vanilla almond bark
  • 1 pkg chocolate almond bark
  • 12 oz pkg semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 bar Baker's German Chocolate
  • 35 oz container dry roasted peanuts (This is non-negotiable. Other types of peanuts/nuts won't work in this recipe. Something about the oils.)
Chop barks and chocolate and put everything except the peanuts into your crock.
Cover, turn to low setting and walk away. Seriously. You're free to get back to hauling boxes out of the basement, decorating, reading, whatever. 

After one hour (longer, if you like), stir until smooth. If lumps remain, replace lid and let it go a while longer.

Once the chocolate mixture is smooth, stir in your peanuts.
Make sure everything is mixed well.

Then, using a spoon or small scoop, drop dollops, as large or small as you like, onto parchment or waxed paper. 
Allow to set completely before transferring to serving tray or airtight container.
One of the best things about these peanut clusters, besides the whole sweet and salty thing, is that they freeze beautifully. That means you can make them now and store them in the freezer until you need a special treat for a holiday party or if you're entertaining unexpected guests. Of course, you might also sneak one or two for dessert every now and then.

So the tree is up and mostly decorated here at the Obi house. My guys took advantage of the nice weather this weekend to put up the outside lights and decorations. I love all of the twinkling lights, the holiday music, the sights and sounds of the season. Last year at this time, we were hustling to be into our house by Christmas, meaning I didn't get the opportunity to savor many of our usual traditions. And that makes this year even more special. So if my house ends up looking like the North Pole exploded, then so be it. Because I'll love every minute of this blessed season.

It's your turn now. What's going on at your house? Are you decorating yet? Baking/candy making? Shopping? Isn't online retailing wonderful? The way I see it, the more I get done now, the more time I have to sit back and enjoy everything throughout December. 

Three-time Carol Award finalist, 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, November 26, 2018

Oven Baked Egg Cups

Jan here, with a myth-busting fact!

Many people believe that the average American gains 7-10 pounds during the holiday season between Halloween and New Year's.

But a quick Google search reveals that this is a media myth. Studies have shown that the average weight gain for Americans during this two month period is only about one pound.

So where did this hype come from? My personal theory is that we eat so poorly around the holidays - loading up on sugar and other simple carbs - that we end up feeling like we've gained ten pounds! We (read "I") hit January 1st feeling tired, sluggish, and out of shape.

This year, I've resolved to change that pattern. I want to concentrate on healthy eating before it's time to make those New Year's resolutions. So for the next several weeks, I'll be trying new recipes and sharing them with you. Foods that nourish and energize rather than attack our health. Foods that are quick and easy to make rather than taking hours in the kitchen. And foods that don't require expensive special ingredients.

Are you ready to take this journey with me?

The first recipe is a breakfast idea I got from the Trim Healthy Mama "Trim Healthy Table Cookbook." (You can find this cookbook here!) I changed a couple things to fit our family, and you should do the same. These are easy and versatile!

Oven Baked Egg Cups

ingredients (for each person):
2 eggs
2 slices ham, thin cut (I use Hormel Natural Choice lunch meat)
toppings and mix-ins of your choice

Super simple!

Preheat your oven to 350° and prepare a muffin tin by spraying the cups you'll be using with Pam or greasing them with butter or oil (mine is silicone - super easy when it come to clean-up!)

Place one slice of ham in each cup, pressing it against the bottom and sides.

In a small bowl, beat one egg at a time. Add in anything you want - I left hubby's plain, but added frozen spinach to mine and seasoned them with a little salt and pepper. The next time, I'll add cheese, too.

Pour the egg mixture in the first cup, then repeat for the rest of the cups.

Total prep time for these four: about 5 minutes.

Bake them in the 350° oven for 25-30 minutes or until the eggs are done (not wiggly and no longer shiny.)

A delicious and satisfying meal!

This breakfast is super low on carbs. You can add some berries on the side and still keep it low carb, or add some whole-grain toast and an orange to have a healthy balance of fat, protein, and complex carbs.


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, November 23, 2018

The Annual Turkey Cranberry Wrap!

Missy Tippens

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of love, laugher and good food. I'm so grateful for my fellow bloggers and for each of you who visits with us at the Cafe.

For those with turkey and dressing crowding your fridge, I'm once again re-sharing my favorite recipe for Thanksgiving leftovers!

Years ago, I chaperoned a trip with my son's AP U.S. History class. We visited Boston and surrounding areas. At one stop in Concord, we let the kids go do lunch on their own. Several of the teachers and I hit a fantastic restaurant called Main Streets Market and Cafe. I had what I think may have been the best sandwich of my life. The Turkey Cranberry Wrap. I was in heaven. Recently, I decided to recreate this sandwich on my own. (I can't believe I didn't think to do it sooner.)

So, here we go! Pull out those leftovers and get to wrapping!

Get some of those low carb wraps I mentioned a few weeks ago. Spread on cranberry sauce. Your choice of type. My daughter chose jellied, "the kind that's shaped like a can."  :) Layer with baby spinach.

Add dressing. I heated mine.

Then layer on the turkey. Again, I heated mine.

Wrap up and serve with a side of sweet potato fries just for fun. :)

How easy is that?! And it's an amazing sandwich. I ate it leftover on three days last week! And didn't even get sick of it.

What's your favorite thing to make with turkey leftovers?

P.S. Is you're going to hit the crowds shopping today, good luck!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

From all of us at Yankee Belle Cafe to all of you... Wishing you the most blessed of holidays. And if (like Ruthy!) you're not celebrating the holiday today...

Well, we've learned that the holiday isn't when someone puts a random date on a calendar...

It's when we can all slip away from our varied lives to be together and thank God for all we've been given.

Because it isn't the calendar that makes the holiday.... It's the people at the table.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

And just like that...November turned white

Last week I was claiming that November was yellow.

What a difference a day makes.

On Wednesday, snow arrived.

Someone called Fenway a fox, but he was really more moose-like.

Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving with the chance to spend time with family.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Holiday Favorites - Revisiting Corn Pudding

This has been a busy weekend. Kids and grandbabies visiting, family dinners, church potlucks... 
A prelude to Thanksgiving, if you will. And what is Thanksgiving without our favorite side dishes.

Corn Pudding is my husband's fave, one his mother made for decades, and it's easy peasy.
Not to mention all kinds of yummy.

Here's what you'll need:
  • 1 - 15.5 oz can cream style corn
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 - 4 oz. can diced green chilies
  • 1/2 cup corn meal
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Mix everything together in a medium size bowl.

Now I know some of you folks north of Oklahoma are thinkin', "Chilies? Cayenne?" I promise, this is not spicy. However, you're free to skip the cayenne, if you must. The green chilies aren't hot, though. Just flavorful. And we're all about flavor, right?

Pour mixture into a greased casserole, bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
It should be golden to slightly brown on the top and around the edges.
Depending on how many people I'm feeding, I usually double the recipe and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Thanksgiving Day will be rather low-key around the Obi house this year. Only four of us. We'll have turkey and everyone gets to pick a favorite side. Mine is cornbread dressing, though you may call it stuffing. Since I make it only once or twice a year, it's a treat. One I will likely feed on for days. And I can hardly wait.

What's your favorite Thanksgiving side dish? Are you hosting dinner or going to someone else's house? What's your favorite part of Thanksgiving Day? Parades? Food? People? Football games?

Three-time Carol Award finalist, 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, November 19, 2018

Good Old Fashioned Potato Cheese Soup for an Autumn Evening

Jan here. I've been working as a Santa's Helper at our local Cabela's during November, and will continue into December. It's a lot of fun, and I'm getting used to the long hours on my feet and the necessity for quick meals - especially ones that are cooked in my Instant Pot or Slow Cooker.

One of the soups we still enjoy is this one that I shared here in the Cafe six years ago. This one is yummy, rich, and oh-so-good!

Enjoy this peek at the past, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving this week!

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Good Old Fashioned Potato Cheese Soup

Hey all,

This is your favorite Mid-Westerner relishing these warm sunny days and cool nights. The weather the last week or so has been the best of the best.

I have to share a picture from our trip up into the Hills Sunday afternoon. That foggy-looking stuff in the air? That's snow! There's nothing like snow in the air and the sound of wind in the pines to make my day perfect :)

Although you ladies from the south may think temps in the 50's during the day and in the 20's at night a bit extreme, it's perfect weather for homemade potato soup and bread.

Here's the great thing about soup: you can use whatever you have on hand! Start with a basic idea and add or subtract from there to make your favorite soup.

Last week, I made Potato Cheese Soup for my family. Super easy, in the crock pot so I can put it together in the morning and not think about it until supper time, and tasty.

It's comfort food to the max. Especially if you add in homemade bread!

So, here's the basic recipe:

Homemade Old Fashioned Potato Cheese Soup...your way

Start with basic ingredients.

It's Potato Soup, so start with potatoes.

I always throw in an onion for flavor.

Peel and dice all those potatoes and onions...

How many, you ask? Well, I cook for six, so I used eight potatoes and a half of an onion. Adjust accordingly for your tribe :)

Just for color and added flavor, I peeled and diced a few carrots, too.

Dice all those veggies so they're a uniform size. There's room for a bit of individualism here, but you want them to cook nicely.

And if you happen to have your potato pieces too big, they won't absorb the flavor of the soup, and you'll end up with a bite of...well, potato...instead of the flavorful concoction you're looking for.

The next major ingredient is broth. You want those veggies to simmer all day long in flavor.

I had some ham broth in the freezer from our Easter ham, so I used that. You could also use Vegetable Stock, Chicken Stock, or even plain water.

But you really want the flavor a good stock or broth will give you.

Use enough to cover your veggies by about an inch, once they're in the crock pot (or in your pot on the stove).

Cover that lovely mixture and let it simmer. I turn my crock pot on high for about an hour to get things started, then turn it down to low for 6-8 more hours.

About 30 minutes before you're ready to serve your soup, it's time to really dress it up. This is a nice, thick creamy soup - but it sure doesn't look like it yet.

The first step in dressing it up is to mash your potatoes. I have one of those old fashioned potato mashers that looks like a "W" gone crazy, but it works great. I use that to gently mash most of the potatoes against the bottom. It doesn't have to be all mashed - just not so chunky.

Now add milk, half-and-half, or cream. I didn't have any of those on hand, so I used some evaporated milk I had in the pantry.

The next part - the way to give your potato soup that nice, rich, stick-to-your-ribs body - is a secret.

Shhhh...don't let ANYBODY know I keep these in the house!

But instant potatoes are perfect for thickening all kinds of dishes, without worrying about lumps from using flour.

I used 1 cup of this secret ingredient for 8 cups of was perfect.

In the last 10 minutes or so of cooking time, add shredded cheese to your soup. I added 2 cups of cheese to mine, but I wish I had added more to make it cheesier.

Other tasty things you could add are ham, or bacon, or different cheeses. Steamed greens (kale or spinach) would be a great addition, too.

And there you have it! Good Old Fashioned Potato Soup - done your way.

Just remember the basic ingredients: potatoes, onions, broth, milk and cheese.

So, tell us, what will you add to your potato soup to make it your way?

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