Thursday, February 28, 2019


Cate inspired me yesterday because I love bread.

I won't pretend I don't. Low carb diets are a pain in the neck and even though I know I should be feasting on jerky or beans...

I love bread.

I love sweet bread and savory bread and cheesy bread and everything bread and cinnamon bread and there is something so absolutely marvelously wholesome about homemade bread.

And I've been writing historicals so the making of bread is RESEARCH. :)

I had to do it!!!!

Yesterday was a preschool day with Laney and The Mighty Finn and our focus was science. To that end our "experiments" are recipes.... and yesterday's recipe was to make bread. Which turned into "Everything" bread, where the fresh bread dough is plastered with a combo of poppy/sesame/garlic/onion/salt and then baked to be a delicious melt-in-your-mouth bit of deliciousness. I believe I ended up calling that "supper".... And it was so good with grated Parmesan melted on top.


So we did this and I got a few fun videos of the "Littles" as we studied. Now this was AFTER Lena turned the mixer on full speed, filled with flour, and we had flour everywhere! In my hair, all of us, the counter, the floor, the chair. Oh my stars it was so funny! One must have a sense of humor when cooking with preschoolers.

We used the basic Betty Crocker White Bread recipe that is my go-to basic dough for so many things. I love this bread dough!!!!

Here's the link to the recipe:

Here's a play by play of the initial EXPLOSION of flour!!!!
Oops, turning the mixer on to "high" isn't suggested before the flour is mixed in, LOL!

Now this is worth checking out the video version because when the bread got kneaded, it rolled up the dough hook and tried to take over the world... which made the kids get very excited! This is where they decided it was "tornado bread".

Tornado Bread:

Almost dropped Tornado bread

Ready for the oven: Everything Tornado Bread:

The final loaf (this is an artisan free-form loaf.... the typical loaf went home with Jon because this recipe makes two big loaves...

And then this.... a slice of fresh buttered everything tornado bread with grated Parmesan cheese...

How can I resist???? (Clearly I could not!)

This was our Super Snow Moon or whatever it was, but isn't it so pretty through the trees? And we don't see too many moonlit nights in the winter, so this was a treat!

So that's the fun going on here.

It is still snowing.

The crazy horrible winds of the weekend are over.

But the snow has returned and it hasn't stopped since yesterday morning...

And we're tired of it now and there is no end in sight.

Be that as it may, I am having so much fun with my books that I can pretend it's any season I want!!!


When a "Mr. Darcy"-like hero finds his father's illegitimate five-year-old son on his doorstep, he takes him  in despite the ensuing damage to his reputation as an upstanding citizen when the town assumes the boy is his... his son, his progeny.  Seb has never wasted time caring what others think, but he'll do whatever he needs to in order to protect his mother and sisters from his father's scandals.

But when his attraction to the new schoolteacher grows, will her affiliation with him cost her the job she's longed for and deserved? A woman who consorts with a man of loose morals probably shouldn't be teaching the youth of the town, and there are a few folks in town who are willing to say that out loud.

Seb's good deed might backfire on him, but when his mother and sisters come to town, the stakes get higher and he's got to do whatever he can to protect his family. But will it cost him his love?

Multi-published, bestselling inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne is living her dream of writing great stories and baking with little kids because how can that be bad???

Find her on facebook or twitter, visit her website or email her at She loves to chat with readers!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Chicken sandwiches with a twist

So I'm having kale for dinner again.

I know, you're all bored. YAWN.

But seriously, when I get home from work, boiling some kale for a few minutes and topping it with chicken that I've cooked in advance, beets that I've cooked in advance, sunflower seeds that toast in a few minutes, and some slices of mandarin oranges with a few croutons tossed on...and I'm a happy person.

But that isn't going to excite anyone, so I thought I'd start this discussion.

Do you ever make sandwiches on unusual bread?

After an unfortunate run-in with a mouse yesterday, I was running late and needed something quick. So I grabbed some chocolate chip brioche that I had in the refrigerator and made a chicken sandwich. It was delicious.

Sorry, I ate it without thinking to take photos, but this is a photo of the brioche.

Tina Radcliffe introduced me to Dave's Killer bread, and I'm a huge fan of the raisin loaf. For that sandwich I used honey mustard, chicken and some slices of orange.

I think I've mentioned before the absolutely fabulous sandwich I had at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden which had turkey, honey mustard and orange slices on a mini baguette with lettuce.

So, I'm curious. Are you a plain old sandwich eater? PB&J, Ham and Swiss, etc?

or do adventurous combos appeal to you?

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Zucchini - The Veggie I Love to Hate. Or Do I?

Last week, in one of my comments to my post, I was lamenting a certain cow who kept coming into our yard, even going so far as to munch on grass outside of our bedroom window while we were trying to go to sleep.

Well, after making herself scarce for a few days, she finally returned. And look what she brought with her.
Only days old. Isn't he/she the cutest thing? I told Bessie she's welcome to bring that baby back around anytime. I wonder if it would like zucchini?

Me, I am not a fan of zucchini. I know a lot of people love it, but whenever I have it sautéed with some mixed veggies, it just makes me cringe. I guess it's a textural thing. And the fact that it squeaks against my teeth makes she shudder. 

That said, I have a recipe for a sugar free chocolate cake that uses finely chopped zucchini for moisture and I love it. Can't even detect the zucchini. Zucchini bread? I've never made it, but I've eaten and enjoyed it. So then these zucchini noodles, aka Zoodles or Troodles, started showing up, even precut and bagged at the grocery store. It's supposed to take the place of pasta. 

You really expect me to believe that?

Well, last summer, I was at a friend's and she made this awesome sun-dried tomato sauce with chicken and she offered a variety of pastas, including zucchini noodles. This was my chance to give these buggers a try. And they weren't bad. So, I came home and ordered a Zoodle for making zucchini noodles. When it arrived, I put it in the cupboard where it's been ever since. Until a could of weeks ago.
My son wanted Chicken Alfredo for dinner. I was onboard with that, except for one thing. I've been steering clear of carbs. And even my beloved Dreamfields pasta wasn't going to do the trick. I had a major dilemma. Then I remembered the Zoodle tool sitting in my cupboard. And, hallelujah, I was still at the grocery store when I remembered. So, I made a beeline for the produce section and grabbed some zucchini.

Later, after the chicken was cooked and the alfredo sauce was bubbling, I spiralized my zucchini. Easy enough. Then I rubbed a little bit of coconut oil into a nonstick skillet.
Once it was hot, I added my zucchini swirls.
I tossed those around until they began to soften, added a tiny bit of salt, and that was it. You can also boil them, but the skillet method is not only faster, I think it's easier to get the right consistency.

I put them into a bowl, then added my Alfredo sauce and chicken and sat down to dinner with my guys.

Here's goes nothing.

I was pleasantly surprised. Not only were they not squeaky, the texture was perfect and they absorbed the flavor of the sauce. Score! I mean, that's like having  your cake and eating it too. With no guilt.

But I still wondered how they would work with other things.

So, a few nights later when my husband was craving spaghetti, I made myself some more Zoodles, though I was skeptical as to how they would taste with a tomato sauce instead of a cream sauce.
The verdict? 

Zucchini noodles are an absolute treat for anyone looking for a tasty pasta replacement. No funky texture. No carbs. And it takes on the flavor of your sauce, no matter what kind it may be.

Now I don't have to fear some of my favorite dishes, because I have a healthy carb substitute that won't leave me wanting. I do have one suggestion, though. If the amount of one spiralized zucchini looks like enough in terms of portion, go ahead and do two. Unlike pasta which expands, the zucchini noodles lose some of their moisture during the cooking process, so what may have looked like a lot, may look kind of skimpy by the time you get it into your bowl.

Now it's your turn. In your opinion, is zucchini a friend or foe? If you're trying to cut carbs, would be willing to try spiralized zucchini with your favorite pasta sauce? Or is it something you already partake in on a regular basis?

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, February 25, 2019

Tackling a Long-Neglected Chore

I used to be a good housekeeper.

I had a schedule for cleaning the house and other chores, and actually followed it. I taught my children to do the chores, rotating the assignments occasionally so they would become proficient in all areas. My house was usually clean...except for a few spots that were always in need of decluttering or whatnot.

Our house in Kansas - just before I started writing
for publication.

I even helped to write a book about homemaking for girls where I shared my schedule and how to clean the house! It's still available, although I sold my rights to it a few years ago. It's fun to see it pop up on Amazon!

Here's the link to the listing on Amazon!

On the whole, things hummed along smoothly in my homemaking life.

Then two things happened, almost simultaneously:
1) Our children grew up and started leaving home.
2) I started writing.

Before I knew it, the house was back to looking like we lived with a passel of toddlers!

The children and their grandparents, 1994

I can only blame myself.

But recognizing the problem is half the battle, right? Balancing housework and writing has been a struggle, I admit it.

There are some seasons when the writing consumes all of my time. There are other seasons when thinking about writing consumes every minute. And yes, there are those days when procrastination is the overriding force (although they are becoming fewer.)

But all of that doesn't keep the house clean. To help my problem, I started following someone else's decluttering schedule (hey, doing it on my own wasn't working!) I downloaded a calendar from Home Storage Solutions 101

I follow her 365 decluttering missions and the weekly organizing challenges...but not in a timely fashion. Using the schedule, I work on the tasks when I can, knowing I will never finish in a year...but I WILL FINISH!

And I'm making progress!

On Saturday I tackled the freezer.

I forgot to take a "before" picture, but here's what it looked like when I reached the bottom:

Quite the mess! Saturday was the warmest day we had had for weeks - we reached a high of 33°. Not quite freezer-defrosting weather, but it worked. I filled a gallon pitcher with hot water and set it in the closed (and unplugged) freezer for a while. Then repeated the process. Then repeated it again.

Meanwhile, I took care of all the stuff I had hauled OUT of that freezer.

It was cold enough in the back of the garage to keep everything frozen for the afternoon. I sorted through the items, dumping anything that was too old or freezer burned.

Then I took inventory, sorting the different kinds of foods into their own baskets or boxes: meat, herbs and spices (I buy in bulk and store the excess in the freezer), grains and cereals, miscellaneous.

*By the way, you might notice a big category that's missing: fruits and vegetables! I keep those in the kitchen freezer to save space in the big freezer for the 1/4 steer we're expecting soon.*

I wrote down what we had and how much we had on a chart. I'll use that chart to keep a running inventory from now until next year when I do this again.

By that time, the frost was thawed and I finished cleaning the freezer.

So clean!

Then it was time to reload the freezer again. Since I had sorted each kind of item, and each kind had a container, it was easy to organize it with the meat in one place, grains in another, etc.

And now we have room for the beef we ordered. It should be arriving around the end of March.

We still have a little bit of meat from our 2017 order, and now that the freezer is organized, all that meat is in one place, and I know exactly what we have, we'll be able to use it between now and then. Without my inventory sheets in place, I had no idea how much beef we had left. I thought there might be a pound of hamburger left (we actually have six!), and a couple steaks (we have one.) It turns out we have quite a few ribs, too.

So we'll plan to have ribs sometime soon!

There's nothing like organization! The refrigerator and freezer in the kitchen are next on my decluttering and organizing schedule, and after that comes the pantry.

How is your housekeeping going? Are you an semi-organized wanna-be like me? Or are things pretty much under control?

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, February 22, 2019

This and That

I haven't cooked much in the last week or two. Just my old standbys that I've shared on here multiple times already. So instead of sharing a recipe today, I thought I'd just share some random fun photos.

First, my One Word for 2019. And I did a painting of it. This is my first ever oil painting. Such fun!

 Next, some spring flowers at the church, arranged by a member of the flower guild. Gorgeous! And some of the flowers were out of the yard of another member.

And those flowers made me think of my Valentine's Day gift from hubby!

And another inadvertent gift--a display of my books at the church library! I was touched to see it.

 Oh, wait. I DID cook a little! In addition to making dinner on Valentine's Day, I baked my husband's favorite: brownies. And I made them in a heart shaped pan. :) I also tried, for the first time, a sugar-free mix. They turned out good!

I also got to spend time recently with the grand dogs! Here I am with my spoiled rotten grandchild. I can't imagine the joy of maybe one day having human grandchildren. :)

And speaking of animals... COVER REVEAL!

I'm thrilled to be a part of this devotional book coming soon from Guideposts! I'll share a link later once it is released.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Cherry Pie: A February Must-Have Here on the Farm!

I am totally repeating this cherry pie tip because the pie comes out perfect every time! So here's a February/Presidents' Day all things George Washington recipe for you! 

Ya' gotta start with good pie crust or the pie ain't worth eatin', so go HERE for the pie crust recipe.  Mary Curry's crust recipe is in the top post, mine is in the second one. Once you have the crust made....

I order a HUGE box of frozen pitted sour cherries each summer from a local farm stand.

Then I re-freeze the cherries in quart sized freezer bags. It takes about two bags to make a good pie, but I also use DEEP pie pans so if yours are narrower, then you can scale back the recipe to suit. I can never, ever, ever get enough fruit in my pies, so I'm okay with a little country spillover!

Cherry Pie Filling

6 cups pitted sour cherries
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup flour
3 tablespoons butter

Warm cherries in large kettle on stove top over medium heat. Mix sugar and flour together. Add to warm, juicy cherries. Toss in butter. Heat on medium low, stirring now and again, until mixture thickens into pie filling consistency.

Why? you wonder.

Why am I doing this when I could simply toss the cherries into the crust, add the sugar and flour, dot with butter and be done with it?

ANSWER:  soggy pie. Soggy pie means soggy pie crust. Yuck. Try it this way. Really. Do I ever (mostly?) lead you astray? 

I cook berry pie filling first always. Strawberry Rhubarb, blueberry, cherry.... The end result is awesome and that's what counts, right?

So now roll out your first crust and gently re-roll it up, onto the rolling pin and transfer it to the pie pan. If it breaks a little, mend it. It will be fine, I promise.

Now pile in the pie filling. Feel free to taste some. Make sure it's good!!!!  ;)

Crimp edges if using dutch crumb topping.  (recipe HERE , scroll down to bottom of page for the Dutch Crumb topping)

If you're going to use a regular crust topping (I like that better with cherry pie) then cover the cherry mix with the top crust, tuck edges up and under the bottom crust, then crimp them together by pinching little "V's" all around the outside edge. Then cover those edges with strips of foil because they cook faster than everything else and no one wants burned pie crust, right?

And here it is:

I like to do lattice crusts because they look fancy.

I am not a fancy person, but I like my pies to be fancy. Like I'm living vicariously through baked goods.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 25-35 minutes, depending on your oven. I do add a folded narrow piece of foil over the crimped crust edge when I bake fruit pies... it keeps them from burning, although the quicker baking time with the pre-done fruit makes that pretty much a non-issue with this one.

So here's what's going on in my neck of the woods this week:

A beautiful Super Snow Moon peeking through the trees!!!

We have lots of winter cloud cover off the Great Lakes, so it's always fun to welcome the moon and the sun up here!

And there is this wonderful new Ruthy-book, my first full-length historical...

AND I LOVE IT!!!!  It's available for preorder here.... and the Kindle version releases in FIVE DAYS!!!!

A beautiful love story about a business-minded man who's pretty sure he's destined to spend his life alone and he's ready to do just that--

And the school teacher who doesn't want to spend her life alone... and yet the last thing she wants is a gruff recluse of a man who reminds her of her late father...

When a five-year-old boy steps off the 9:03 train and attaches himself to Seb Ward, the stakes change instantly. To save his mother's reputation, Seb's forced to take his illegitimate brother under his wing and Rachel Eichas is enchanted by her new student... and maybe a little enchanted with Seb Ward himself. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

Years ago I had lemon soup with orzo at a Greek diner. I'd never had lemon soup before, but since I love all things lemon, I was delighted.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I had a bad cold and didn't have an appetite. Suddenly lemon appealed to me, so I decided to try to make a lemon chicken soup with orzo.

First step was to cook the chicken. Once that was ready, I added it to some broth (I used a combination of bone broth and low sodium chicken)with some carrots, lots of herbs, and a hearty squeeze (more like 1/2 a cup) of lemon.

I simmered some spinach separately so it wouldn't wilt, and added it right before serving.

I cooked the orzo separately and then spooned the soup over it.

The soup was delicious and tasted even better with bread two days later! The lemon added a perfect zing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Wildflowers, Wild Hogs and White Chocolate Mousse

Well, whether I'm ready for it or not, signs of spring are popping up all over the ranch. The pastures are getting greener by the day, trees are budding out and even some of the wildflowers are emerging to showoff their spring colors. Perhaps they're tired of being overshadowed by our favored Bluebonnets, which are still a good month away, so they decided to arrive early to claim some of the attention.  

And there are these creatures.

Feral hogs are not limited to spring. Though it is when their piglets arrive. These pigs are a year-round nuisance for ranchers and land owners. They root around the ground, tearing up the land. This is about a third of the group we spotted over the weekend. Three sows and at least triple that number of piglets. Definitely a mess in the making.

This past weekend was also the Servant's Heart banquet at our church. Servant's Heart is a ministry to cancer patients, and every February they hold a banquet for patients and their caregivers in our region. 

This year, I had the privilege of preparing the food for the banquet. It was a delightful menu with Braised Pork Loin, Roasted Rosemary Potatoes, Roasted Green Beans and a decadent White Chocolate Mousse. Not only was the dessert decadent, it was easy to prepare.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 - 8 oz brick of cream cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Salt
Beat the whipping cream in a medium to large bowl until stiff peaks form.
Set aside. 

Now melt your chocolate. I simply set the bowl of chips over a simmering pot of water and stirred occasionally until smooth and thoroughly melted, but you can use whatever method you prefer.
In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and a good pinch of salt until smooth. Add in the melted chocolate mix until well combined.
Add the whipped cream to the white chocolate/cream cheese mixture...
And fold together.
At this point, it's ready to spoon into your serving dishes, but since I was planning to pipe the mousse into my serving cups, I put the bowl back on the mixer and beat the mixture on medium for a few seconds until it was nice and smooth. Then I spooned it into a piping bag and swirled it into the cups.
You can serve immediately or refrigerate up to two days. I made mine the day before the banquet. I found these cute little 5 inch tall, square plastic shot-glass-type cups that were perfect for a small-portion dessert, so piping the mousse into them was less messy than spooning. 

When it was time to serve, they each received a small dollop of whipped cream along with a raspberry for a nice pop of color. Unfortunately, I failed to take any pictures. But judging by the number of requests I got for the recipe, the White Chocolate Mousse was a hit. And with it being so easy to make, it's perfect for almost any occasion.

So what do you think? White chocolate mousse, yay or nay? Wildflowers in February? And how would you feel about wild animals destroying your land?

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