Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Meatballs for the Masses

Tonight is our annual New Year's Eve bonfire, complete with fireworks, loads of fun, and, of course, food. Our four oldest grandsons are joining us for the festivities.
These photos should give you a little insight into their personalities. They are a wild and crazy bunch of guys. Throw our two sons into the mix and, well, those finger foods had better be man-pleasing. And what better way to tempt these fellas than with yummy meatballs.
The first time I had these meatballs was at a friend's graduation party when I was in high school and it was love at first bite. I promptly asked her mother for the recipe and have been making them ever since. Except I no longer make my own meatballs. Instead, I look for good-quality premade meatballs like these from Sam's.
I simply put the frozen meatballs into a CrockPot hours before I need them to be ready (Tip: Add a CrockPot liner first and cleanup will be much easier) then pour the sauce over them.

For your sauce, you will need a bottle of chili sauce (this is sold by the ketchup), 6-10 oz. grape jelly, and one teaspoon of lemon juice. I made a double recipe, hence the two bottles of chili sauce and the 18 oz. jar of grape jelly (I used all of it).
Simply put the jelly into a sauce pan. Add the chili sauce and heat over low heat until the jelly has melted and no lumps remain. I use a whisk to help break up any lumps. (My apologies for the blurry pictures)
Pour the sauce over the frozen meatballs.
Put the lid on, cook on high or low, depending on how much time you have, stirring occasionally. One of the easiest appetizers ever. And always a crowd-pleaser. 

So what are you doing this New Year's Eve? Are you going out or staying in? And what are you looking forward to most in 2020?

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 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 a mindyobenhaus.com.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Ham Puffs - a recipe rerun for New Year's

This is the best week, isn't it? The week between Christmas and New Year's?

(Unless you work in retail... Then it can be a bear!)

But this year our weather has been mild and hubby had time off, so I took the week off from most of my work projects, and we've enjoyed spending time at home and in the Hills. What can be better?

Christmas Day was quiet - just four of us, two dogs and a cat. Since we're having our family celebration on New Year's, we spent Christmas playing board games, working on a jigsaw puzzle, and opening a few presents.

But I didn't cook a big dinner. We had sweet and savory snacks, just a few of the favorites. One of the recipes I used was one I shared here six years ago. I'm glad I found it - I had forgotten about it!

Ham Puffs

4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
1 can deviled ham (or deli ham, chopped fine)
1 Tablespoon minced onion
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 tube crescent roll dough

Notice supper cooking in the crock-pot...chicken for chicken tacos!
And I was going to add the mushrooms to the ham puffs, but they were voted down
by my mushroom-hating family :(

Mix the cream cheese and other ingredients (except crescent roll dough) together. You can do it by hand (that's what I did), or you can use a blender or food processor.

Don't forget the hot pepper sauce. We have several varieties around our house, but this is the one I used:

Unroll the crescent roll dough and separate into four rectangles.

Spread 1/4 of the cream cheese mixture on each rectangle and roll up jelly-roll style, from the long edge.

Cut each roll into five slices...

 ...and place them on an un-greased baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 8-10 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.

Let them cool slightly before serving.

These little puffs are perfect for the kind of snacking we love to do while playing board games!

Enjoy your New Year's, and best wishes for a wonderful year to come!

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 Drexler.com

Friday, December 27, 2019

Hawaiian Ham and Cheese Sliders

 Missy Tippens

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! On Christmas Eve we had a dish I bet a good many of you have tried. The recipe comes from King’s Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls. You can find the recipe here.

I bought a big family pack of 24 rolls. I sliced them in half (very carefully!) and ended up having to do it in two sections. Then I carefully lifted the tops off. I spread mayonnaise on the tops. Then I placed the bottoms in a baking dish. A basic rectangular single layer cake pan was the perfect size for 24 rolls (which is actually 2 regular size packs).

I didn’t want to have to slice the sandwiches apart so I cut the ham and cheese into squares that would fit on one roll. I put two squares of ham and one square of cheese on each roll. Then I replaced the tops.

I mixed up the melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, onion powder and poppy seeds well with a whisk and poured it over the top. I covered the rolls and let them sit for about 15 minutes.

Then I baked them, covered, then uncovered, as directed.

I’m sorry I didn’t think to take photos! We were having a late dinner after our candlelight service, and were so hungry we dived in to devour them (and the chili I also made).

I just love these sandwiches! It had been years since I made them, and I’m so glad my son happened to mention them (plus we had them at book club recently). I want to keep them in mind for future potluck dinners and book club.

I hope you all have a great weekend! Oh, and please check out my newly re-designed website!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Crab Casserole

Merry Christmas week!

Okay, I have a confession to make: One of my weaknesses is a good Chinese Buffet. I love Chinese food in general, but when I get to sample small helpings of all my favorites, I'm in my happy place!

However, I'm the only one in our household that feels that way. So when we go out to eat, we choose somewhere that we both enjoy. The result? It's been a while!

But earlier this month, when I was visiting my dad in Indiana, we went to his favorite buffet for lunch one day.

Guys, they had this new dish I had never seen before! (I'm sure you already know all about it, LOL!) It was a casserole made with fake crab (aka surimi) and cream cheese. It was like crab rangoon, but with more crab and less rangoon! I had two helpings!

And you guessed it, once I got home I started craving it... So I went hunting for a recipe. When I searched on-line and found dozens of recipes for "Chinese Buffet Crab Casserole," I realized that I was the only one in the world who hadn't known about this delicacy.

The main ingredient in this dish is seafood (of course,) but the recipes went from all surimi, to combinations of canned crab meat and fresh shrimp. The cheeses varied too, as well as other seasonings.

I came up with a combination I thought sounded like the casserole I had enjoyed so much and I made it for a Christmas party with the ladies from church.

Jan's Crab Casserole


about a pound of surimi (aka fake crab)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon minced onion
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (reserve 1/4 cup)

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl (except the reserved 1/4 cup cheese.)

Spoon it into a greased casserole dish. I used my 8"x 12", but a 9" x 13" will work great.

Bake in a 350° oven for about 30 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbly and the cheese is beginning to brown on top.

This casserole is delicious hot, but I had leftovers, so I tried them cold, too. Delicious both ways! And it's a great topping for a cracker or pita chip!

And I'm definitely going to save this recipe for future special occasions.

Since this is the day before Christmas Eve, I want to wish you and yours a very special, peace-filled Christmas!

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 Drexler.com

Friday, December 20, 2019

A New Favorite Vegetarian Meal

Missy Tippens

I thought I'd quickly share this, a new food we've come to love.


The place we discovered near our house is Mizumi Ramen. There are multiple options on type of broth. The ones I love are the soy sauce based and miso based. I get the vegetable broth, and it comes with the ramen noodles (of course), spinach, corn, bean sprouts, green onion, and fried potato cakes on top. It's sooo good and very filling! And wonderfully warming on a cold night.

Here's a photo of my bowl from Tuesday night.

Others in our family have gotten chicken broth, and they also have pork. There are many options!

We're blessed to live in Gwinnett County, Georgia, one of the most diverse counties in the country--which means we have many authentic restaurant choices. We love trying new things all the time.

I hope you'll keep an eye out for ramen restaurants near you! 


Thursday, December 19, 2019

Chocolate Fudge Makes People Happy

That's what I would call an ultimate truism.

Not every person, of course. There are always a few holdouts or folks who just are a little bit off the beaten path, but for the most part, chocolate fudge makes folks happy. I will stand by that assertion.

The holiday fun has begun in earnest around here. With two big families, we have several fun gigs over the holiday season and that's a wonderful thing. So for this fudge I use the recipe on the back of the 16 oz. Marshmallow Fluff container. It makes a monster-sized batch so then I can freeze both kinds, with and without nuts, in freezer containers and grab out one container for each party. Total bonus!


 Because this is a double recipe, I prepped my big 15" x 11" Pyrex pan. It works great for a doubled fudge recipe. Butter the pan. Then double-layer heavy duty aluminum foil over the pan, pressing into the pan. Then butter the foil. Set aside to use when fudge is ready.

And here are my adjustments because I doubled it:

1 16 oz. jar of Marshmallow Fluff
1 full can evaporated milk (13 oz.)
1/2 cup butter
5 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt

Put all of this into large 4 or 5 quart heavy duty pan. Stir over low heat until blended. Then raise to medium/medium-high heat and cook to boiling, stirring constantly. (This will be well worth it. Scout's honor) I used the "soft ball" test to get to the temp I wanted which is about 4 minutes into boiling. To do the soft ball test, you have a coffee cup half-full of really cold water and you drizzle a dollop of the fudge mix into the water. If you can then reach in and form the mixture into a "soft ball" with your fingers (it will flatten when you pull it out of the water), that's where you want to be.

Remove from heat. Stir in 24 oz. (two full bags) of semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Stir well.

Now I like to stir it until it begins to lose it's gloss and set up slightly. You can just pour it into the pans, but there's a slight difference in consistency that comes from hand-stirring cool air into cooling fudge.

I put a hot pad under one end of the pan to tip it slightly, then poured half the fudge into the lower half of the pan. 

Then I added a cup of chopped walnuts to the rest and added that to the pan.

Let cool completely. Then lift the fudge out of pan by using the aluminum foil, move to cutting board and cut into pieces with a nice sharp knife.

I love this fudge. It melts in your mouth and makes your mouth really happy while doing so. I've tried other variations on this recipe, but this is my fave.

And we had the Herne Family Christmas Gathering here at the farm this weekend, and it was so much fun! So many of the grandkids and great-grandkids (not mine, my parents) were here with their little ones. It was awesome!

Santa came....

And we had some tears when we took up my mother's tradition of reading Luke's Gospel telling of the baby's birth...

But plenty of laughter, too.

Great food, and I had some overnight helpers! So that made it extra fun!!!

These two weren't overnight, but they came along in time to drizzle almond and apple strudel:

And then to test the frosting was crucial:

And two party princesses:

Then joined by a more queen-type figure!

We had a wonderful time. A blessed time. A hot chocolate station... a coffee station... Punch! A family favorite. And everyone brings something to share around the tables and that made it all so very special.

Merry Christmas from the Herne/Blodgett house... and may God bless us, every one!

"For unto us a child is born... Unto us a Son is given..."


Multi-published, award-winning inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne is blessed to be writing the kind of stories she likes to read. Tucked into a farm in Western New York where if you don't mow it, a forest will grow, Ruthy loves God, her family, her country, dogs, chocolate and coffee. She is especially fond of small children and tender hearts even though she's proud to be thought of as a curmudgeon. Those that really know her say yes... she is, in fact, a curmudgeon! But that tough exterior hides a tender heart. Email Ruthy at loganherne@gmail.com find her on facebook or you can follow her on Twitter, but she really doesn't like Twitter at all. It is just packed with annoying people. You can also visit her non-annoying website ruthloganherne.com!

White Chocolate Almond Baklava Fudge

This is a recipe I tweaked from a basic white chocolate fudge recipe when I was writing "Small-Town Hearts", my fifth Love Inspired book... and now I'm working on Love Inspired book #30... so that's pretty cool, right?

 Okay, this isn't really Baklava fudge... it's a creamy white chocolate fudge done with almonds and Baklava mix stirred in... Baklava nut mix is simple and I keep it in the freezer so I can use it to spice up or crunch up lots of things, including old fashioned Baklava! 
I published this one years ago, but it's worthy to be brought up again. Tasty blend of crunch and smooth, creamy white chocolate.
So far I have Christmas Crinkles made and packaged in the freezer, (I'm using Christmas Crinkles as a popular thing in an upcoming series... because the name is so perfect!)
I've also got cut-out cookies, chocolate fudge and chocolate walnut fudge and way more candy than any four big families would need. Sugarholic!!!!
 I figure if I've got stuff set aside, there's always something to pull out when folks stop by and that's the fun of having people stop in. A box of cookies or fudge or a carrot cake are wonderful things to have on hand. 
Nut mix:
Mix in a bowl:
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Stir together, store in plastic freezer bag or firmly closed container in freezer.
White Chocolate Almond Baklava Fudge
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 teaspoons almond extract
  • 16 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped roasted almonds
  • ½ cup Baklava mix (chopped almonds, walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg)
1.     Grease an 8x8 inch baking dish, line with double wax paper, top side buttered. Set aside.
2.     In a medium bowl, beat soft cream cheese, sugar, and almond until smooth.
3.     In the top of a double boiler over lightly simmering water, heat white chocolate, stirring until melted and smooth.
4.     Fold melted white chocolate, almonds and baklava mix into cream cheese mixture. Spread into prepared baking dish. Chill for 1 hour, then cut into 1 inch squares.

Seriously, how much easier can you get than this? And the blend of nuttiness to almond "white chocolate" is wonderful.

And of course I love anything to do with Baklava, in any way, shape or form!
We've got a couple of busy weeks coming up. I'm working on a book, but Farmer Dave isn't exactly the "lets clean the house and throw a party" type. We're happy if we can get him to chat with folks at the party, so you can see where I'm going... but he really enjoys them once they're all here and folks are talking kids and farm and economics and football, baseball and/or track and field. 
But the cleaning, cooking and baking isn't his domain, so I've got my work cut out for me. My family is here this weekend, and then our kids and their families are the next weekend, then Farmer Dave's family on Christmas Eve, then the local ones will hang out some with us on Christmas Day. I get to see my youngest, in town from Dallas and that's enough of a gift right there!
I love gathering with loved ones on Christmas, even though we're of an age where there is the occasional empty chair. My parents passed away a long time ago, and I lost a brother two years ago, but I know when I see him again he'll be younger. More toned. :) And not carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. He's at peace with saints and martyrs and the sweet Lord, but it's still tricky to see that empty chair or take a picture with someone missing.
So we carry those folks in our hearts, don't we? As it should be.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season. Christmas is too special to try and cram into a day, so we use as many as it takes to have a fun reunion with friends and family because we're so blessed to be here, in America, land of the free... and home of the brave.
Multi-published inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne loves playing in the kitchen, hanging with friends over here on Yankee Belle or in Seekerville, and realizes that the majority of her friends are virtual but she refuses to contemplate that too much because better to have pretend friends than no friends at all! :) Visit her on facebook, follow her on Twitter (a vile place, but I've found a few nice people over there. Only a few. Trust me. I know.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Christmas Lights

One of my favorite things about Christmas decorating is all the houses lit up. (Confession: I love fairy lights at any time of year, so I love white lights at Christmas).

I've noticed that this year there seems to be a shortage of lights in my neighborhood. Usually Fenway and I enjoy taking in the lights as we walk in the evenings, but this year it's been sad and dark. I wonder if Thanksgiving being so late has left people scrambling, or if there just isn't that much desire for it this year.  It's odd to me to think that my neighborhood that goes whole hog for Halloween, doesn't do much for Christmas.

By contrast, the neighborhood where I teach is one of the most famous places in the city that people go to see the lights. Even the houses that aren't in the prime viewing areas are still bright and cheery with decorations and lights.

This video gives you a sense of the Dyker Heights lights.

Some of it is admittedly over the top. I read a report that some of these families spend as much as $20,000 on the light displays! As much as I enjoy Christmas lights, I can think of a lot better things to do with $20k though.

So what is decorating like where you live? Outdoor displays or does everyone just decorate within their homes?

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

My Most Favorite Holiday Recipe

Yes, just in time for this last week before Christmas, I'm going to share my most favorite recipe of the holiday season. I discovered this recipe more than twenty years ago and have used it every year since. Even if you're not a cook, you can still make your whole house smell as if you've been baking up a storm. It will smell like Christmas.

Oh, and did I mention it can double as a perfect gift idea, too?

This is my holiday scent I always have simmering on the stove from Thanksgiving till New Year's. And it's super simple. 

Here's what you'll need:
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup whole cloves
Now simply quarter the fruit and put two wedges of each into a large saucepan along with the spices and a quart of water. You can save the rest of the fruit for another batch later. Bring to a slight boil and then turn heat to a simmer. Add more water as necessary. 

That's it! It will last for several days. Simply put a lid on it and refrigerate overnight. And as far as giving it as a gift, put all of the ingredients except for the water into a clear cellophane bag, tie with a pretty bow and add a tag with instructions on the back and you're good to go. It's as pretty as it is practical. 
I can't believe Christmas is almost here. A week from today is Christmas Eve. What do you have planned? Does your Christmas center around that one day, or does it spread out over several days like ours usually does? 

Merry Christmas, y'all!

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 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 a mindyobenhaus.com.