Thursday, January 31, 2019

Bread Pudding Warms Polar Vortex 2019

Nothing like chicken soup, mashed potatoes, stew, pasta and bread pudding to chase the chill-willies away...

And Cuddle Duds, a must when you live in the north!  But I digress...

Yesterday's cold came mid-day but even then some schools closed down for the day because they couldn't have kids walking home in -20 wind chills.

(Mind you, we didn't know about wind chill when I was a kid, and yes, I walked to school every day, so did all the kids.... and when it was cold we bundled up and walked to school like the Michelin man ... Waddle.... waddle.... waddle....

But now we know when wind chills are coming and this one is a solid force so bread pudding seemed like a nice thing to bake.


This is our standard Vanilla Bread Pudding which is a misnomer because it has vanilla in it... but it also has cinnamon and nutmeg, so it's a match made in heaven for fall and winter. I usually have some stale bread around... this is a loaf of a favorite "Texas Toast" (MINDY!!!!) a  really nice, thick-cut bread with great texture for toast or French Toast. It was in Beth's freezer for a long time so they donated it to the cause. And I made sure it didn't have freezer-taste.... (wrinkles nose)... no freezer-funk in our bread pudding!

Here we go!


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Put about 1" of hot water into a large baking pan, large enough to "cradle" your pudding dish. I used an 11" x 15" pan and then an 11" x 7" pan for the bread pudding. Perfect fit! The goal of the water is to add steam while you're baking the pudding.... but also to keep the bottom from getting overdone.

6 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, or 1/2 of a grated nutmeg

Whisk all of these together thoroughly.

Add 1 1/2 cups of milk. Whisk again.

Cut pieces of bread (I like to use the crusts, too) into small cubes, like stuffing bread size. Add to custard mix carefully... Don't mash or whisk, fold gently to hold the bread's shape...

This is too liquidy for me, so I cut up three more slices of bread. I like my bread pudding on the dry side, not oozie.....

BETTER!!! :)

Now it goes into the 11" x 7" pan... which then gets tucked into it's big brother pan.... and we bake at 325 degrees until firm.... Ovens vary and so do baking pans, and a dryer pudding takes a little longer, so just relax, have some tea or coffee and let the bread pudding bake.... It smells marvelous!

Artwork by Lena:

So it's cold here, and we heat with wood... which works 95% of the time.

MY FEET ARE SO COLD and I have two pairs of socks on. And one is wool..... but the floor in the kitchen and entry is icy!

This is when I get all that wonderful respect for prairie women. Remember Laura Ingalls talking about the thick frost above their beds and how their breath froze????

I am saving my quiet money for a new heating system.




Three dog night was an old saying in Alaska and parts north, that on the coldest night you slept with three dogs around you to keep you warm enough. You know what I think of???

Dog breath.

Me and three dogs with dog breath.


Give me central heat and call me spoiled. :)

I'm okay with that!

So how are you dealing with the cold? Or are you like me and we just kind of shrug it off and figure it's January... some days are colder than others... and it's kind of been that way right along!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Multi-published and bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne loves writing stories that touch the heart and warm the soul and when she's not writing, she's probably trying to fix something in her 164-year-old farm house in Western New York where if she fixes one thing-- she breaks two others! But that hasn't deterred her yet! Write to her at, stop by her website and friend her on facebook where she'll talk about most anything without being a bossy-pants.
Most of the time.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Perfect for Potluck

It's Catholic Schools Week which means my life is not my own!

I'm not complaining because it's a good thing to celebrate, but between open houses and wakes, I was barely home this weekend, so...


NO COOKING happened other than reheating chicken and greens.


So I was scrolling through looking for a worth recipe to share that I hadn't posted in a while. I came across this one that my daughter shared and it seemed appropriate comfort food for the nasty cold so many are enduring!



My daughter was having a pot luck luncheon at her job last week. She knew that one of the ladies is gluten-free, so she wanted to make something this woman could enjoy.

She spent a week running recipes by me, but when I saw this one, I knew she had a winner.  I'm posting a link to the original recipe, but here is her final result.

Butternut Squash, Fennel & Apple Galette

The recipe is from a site called NutritionStripped.
Her description:
"This Butternut Squash Fennel & Apple Galette is not only incredibly beautiful but a crowd pleaser. It’s made with slightly sweet and creamy butternut squash, tart apples, and fragrant fennel- a winning trio of fall flavors wrapped into a rustic gluten free and vegan galette, then sprinkled with fresh herb and a drizzle of olive oil."

Doesn't that sound like an intriguing combination?

All I can tell you is that not only did it garner raves at the luncheon, but apparently it was the only dish that had no leftovers. And people were emailing my daughter for the recipe.

I was not happy about the no leftovers part, and I told me daughter we'd be making this again soon!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Savory Breakfast Treat

Calving season has begun here at the ranch.

These little ones hadn't been spotted until yesterday. They're always so cute. But I hate it when they're born right before a cold snap. I suppose it makes them tougher, but it still makes me want to go out to the pasture and bundle them up in a nice, soft blanket. Though I can assure you their mamas would not stand for that. 

Today, we're talking breakfast. I am woman enough to admit that one of my favorite breakfasts comes from McDonalds. Let's face it, an Egg McMuffin is hard to beat. Not only is it tasty, using many of the same ingredients as Eggs Benedict, it's a good source of protein. There's just one little thing that gives this low-carb loving gal pause. 

The English muffin.

Okay, there's also one other teeny, tiny problem. I have to leave home to get it. 

Most days, I have either a high-protein smoothie or oatmeal for breakfast. But there are times when I crave something savory instead of sweet. So, as I stood in the kitchen one morning, longing for an Egg McMuffin, I was struck by genious. Not as painful as lightning, though much more rare.

What if I substituted a low-carb tortilla for the English muffin?

Tah, dah!

I would get my Egg McMuffin fix AND keep things low carb. 


Oh, and it didn't take much time. Simply start with a low-carb tortilla. I use the Mission brand with 4 net carbs per tortilla. Top that with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese.

This is my preference, but you can use whatever you like. Pepper Jack, mild cheddar, Havarti... You can even shred your own cheese, so you're not using as much. I just happen to like my cheese. 

Next, you'll want to fry up an egg, breaking the yolk and flipping it to cook it through.

That is unless you want it runny. Something I usually prefer, but not here. I'll end up with egg running down my chin and no one wants to see that. 

Set the cooked egg atop the cheese so the cheese will melt.

Now add two pieces of thin-sliced, deli-style ham to the same skillet. If you have Canadian bacon, go ahead and use that.
Cook those for a few seconds, only until hot, then place them over the egg.
And that's it. For ease of eating, though, I usually fold it in half like a taco.

This also makes it perfect for eating on the run. However, I do recommend a napkin in case of leaks. 

Okay, so I know this isn't rocket science, but maybe coming up a with a low-carb version of this favored breakfast treat never crossed your mind until now. But I love it when I can satisfy a craving with a healthier alternative that fits my lifestyle. 

Now it's your turn. Do you change-up recipes to fit your eating lifestyle? What are some favorites you've come up with?

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, January 28, 2019

January in the Black Hills = Chili

Jan here, shivering in the Black Hills!

Winter is a mercurial season for us. We live in the "banana belt" of South Dakota - a misnomer, really. I've never seen banana trees here! But while the rest of the state is dealing with blizzards, high winds, and tons of snow, we'll have a day where the temps reach the 50's or even 60's.

Custer State Park on a balmy January day

But don't count on it lasting! Because the weather can change drastically in a matter of a couple hours. You know that saying, "If you don't like the weather, just wait an hour?" We've heard that saying in every location where we've lived...but it's true here.

Another January picture - the group of pine trees
on the left are the same in both pictures.

Spearfish, South Dakota (just a quick jaunt up the highway from us) holds the world record for the fastest temperature change. On January 22, 1943, the temperature changed from -4° to 45° in...wait for it... two minutes!

While we haven't come close to that world record, we often experience huge temperature changes. The National Weather Service explains the 1943 event like this:

"The wild temperature fluctuations were likely due to cold air and warm air sloshing back and forth along the plains at the base of the Black Hills. A similar effect would be to pour warm water into a shallow bowl of cold water. The water would slosh back and forth a few times before settling down. This is likely what happened with the warm and cold air along the Black Hills."

Sunday was another example. Yesterday morning, we woke up to temperatures in the mid-40's with a mild wind from the south. A real "snow-eater," or Chinook. By noon it was 53° and rising. A beautiful sunny day!

But around 3:00 in the afternoon, the wind swung to the Northwest, and we enjoyed(?) winds of 40-50 mph, with gusts up to 70 mph. (We actually lost a piece of trim off the truck during one of those wind gusts!)

With the change in wind direction, we saw a drop in temperatures. From the mid-50's to 25° in twelve hours, and it continued dropping. By this morning, we were in the teens, and the temps aren't going up at all today. Tomorrow is supposed to be even colder.

This is definitely chili weather, so you know what we're having for supper tonight! I'm going to be making one of my favorite chili recipes - Jan's Cowboy Chili. I shared this recipe several years ago, but I think it's time for a refresher. :-)

And don't worry - there's a vegetarian long as you aren't a cowboy!

Jan's Cowboy Chili

Start with about 1 1/2 pounds steak. I like to use round steak, or these little chuck steaks.

They're slightly icy in this picture - being slightly frozen makes the meat easier to handle.

Cut the meat into 1/2 inch cubes, and then prepare the marinade.

Marinade ingredients:
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup oil - vegetable or olive
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix the marinade ingredients together, and then pour over the cubed meat in a plastic bag or glass bowl. Put it in the refrigerator and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes - an hour or two is better.

After an hour or so, it's time to start cooking the chili.

Drain the marinated meat, reserving the onions and meat.

Brown in a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot, and then add the rest of the ingredients:

2 cups beef broth
2 cans red beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can (14 oz.) tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons cumin

Let all this simmer, covered, for an hour or two. Or three. Or put it in the crock pot for a half day or so...

*Vegetarian option: Instead of marinating beef, marinate your beans instead. Whether you use canned beans or cook your own, marinate the beans just as you would the meat. Drain and use in the chili. And instead of beef broth, use vegetable broth.

Now, lift the lid and take a whiff. Don't you feel like you're on a cattle drive with the cowboy of your dreams?

So, how is January treating you at your house? We could use some more snow, but other than that, I'm not complaining. I love the cold!

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 25, 2019

Kale Chips in the Air Fryer

Missy Tippens

Years ago, I shared a recipe for kale chips. I love them. So when I bought my new air fryer a couple of months ago, I knew I wanted to try making them.

First, I washed and dried the kale.

Then I stripped of the stems. Part of the beauty of an air fryer is saving on oil use. So I simply spritzed the leaves with some Pam.

Then I placed them in the fryer and lightly salted.

I don't remember how long I cooked the kale, but it wasn't long enough. When I first tasted the chips, I found some really good ones. But as I sat down to eat dinner, I discovered there were some areas that didn't get done enough. They were soggy instead of crispy. Next time, I'll cook them longer and also pull out the drawer to shake them more often. I may also work in smaller batches. That way they'll cook more evenly.

Still, I got a decent serving that was crispy and tasty!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

How Is It Thursday????

Oh my stars, these Monday holidays are wonderful... but then I was pretty darn sure it was Tuesday yesterday...

And guess what?

It wasn't! :)

Oh mylanta.

So this happened last weekend:

While I was driving to Pittsburgh and back, but that's a whole other blog experience, LOL!

Winter arrived!!!!  Porch bushes about 4' tall...

Shoulda brought the grill inside!!!!

My flag hook in the sidewalk garden....

And yes, that's about a 4 foot hill behind it from shoveling! There's a sidewalk under there... someplace!!!!

And the snowblower.... totally Dave's job, and there are certain times when gender separation of jobs works for me! :)

So I got to visit Duquesne University and Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania last weekend. Both are beautiful!

And I visited some old churches and TWO OF THEM were unlocked.

That always thrills me when church doors are unlocked because I grew up in Rochester, NY in a time where church doors were never locked.... and I loved slipping into the old cathedral (before they messed it up with a crazy expensive remodel) and praying. Always in the back, to the left side. Isn't it funny how we gravitate to a certain spot in church?

Now I sit more eclectically. But back then I was a poor kid from a downtrodden family and I didn't feel right sitting in front with the normals.... kids' heads are like that, sometimes.

Now if I sit in the back it's because I'd rather be that widow, giving of her need... or that man, quietly in the back, asking God's forgiveness. Or that guest at the party, taking a back seat purposely.

I forget that too often, and it's a good thing to remember!

In Catholic churches there are often votive lights where you can light a candle and it's a reminder to the congregation that someone needs prayer.

Points of light. I love that. The reminders to pray for others...

And there was a coffee shop. We always explore churches, cemeteries and coffee shops, the THREE Cs!!!!!

The White Rabbit Cafe in Greensburg, PA.


The perfect macchiato!!!! And look how cute this place is....

 AND FOOD!!! A bacon, brussel sprouts and cheese quiche....

And we drove 350 miles back, through the storm, but we kind of skirted the edge of it until we got into NY state... and then the lake effect squalls got us, but we made it.

Did you know that the interior Pennsylvania roads go through lots of mountains!!!!

Well now you know!

So that's my story for this past week, a great trip, lovely friends, no one died.... and then two feet of snow fell at my house.


Multi-published, award-winning author Ruth Logan Herne loves adventures and someday she'll tell you about the TWO GUYS who rescued her when the mini-van went perpendicular to the road and there were ditches on either side.... Romance Heroes!!!! Find Ruthy at or on facebook or Twitter!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Cheddar Potato Pie with Beef or Chicken

Guess what?

I managed to get the oven to ignite long enough to cook something!

After chatting with Mindy about alternatives to salmon last week, I decided to try both a ground beef and a chicken version of my cheddar potato pie.

I'll let the pictures tell the story.

I had bought hamburger for Fenway, so I decided to use some of it for my pie.  Cute boy was good about sharing.

 The meat pie started with a pre-baked shell and a good coating of cheese.
 Next, the ground beef (pre-cooked as well).

Layer on the pre-boiled potatoes and some cheese and bake.

I added a sprinkle of freeze-dried garlic on top of the potatoes.

The chicken version:
 Same drill but with a chicken layer rather than beef.

Overall, I far preferred the hamburger version. It was sort of like a cheeseburger with potatoes on top!But I can't eat all that much hamburger, so the chicken is a worthy alternative!

And I may finally have eaten my fill of cheesy potatoes!