Monday, September 30, 2019

Thai Pumpkin Peanut Curry Soup

Tomorrow is October 1st!

I've been thinking about this - is there anything I don't like about October?


Rainy days? Nope. I actually enjoy a good rain.
Cold weather? LOL! I'm a northerner - I love cold weather.
The aspens turning gold? Ahh...
The approaching snow? Snow in the air puts a smile on my face!

I even love the pumpkin spice everything!

But today, as I work furiously to meet my deadline for my Fall 2020 release, Softly Blows the Bugle, I'm sharing a rerun recipe from 2014 for my favorite pumpkin dish. Something a wee bit different than the norm...

Thai Pumpkin Peanut Curry Soup

Jan here, with a pumpkin recipe that's a little bit different....

LOVE pumpkin breads, pumpkin pie, and all the traditional pumpkin spice recipes, but sometimes a girl just wants some Thai food.

Spicy Thai food.

Delicious spicy Thai food.

And we live 700 miles away from my favorite Thai restaurant. Sigh.

So since it's October and time for everything pumpkin, I thought I'd share this recipe with you.

Thai Pumpkin Peanut Curry Soup
four servings, preparation time about 25 minutes

2 Tablespoons oil (I use coconut oil, but olive oil works just as well)
3/4 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 or 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed, to make about 1 cup
3 Tablespoons Thai Curry Paste (red or green - I used green)
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup water
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
3 Tablespoons smooth peanut butter
salt and pepper to taste

Note: Like most soups, this recipe is very versatile. You can leave out the peanut butter if you need to, use vegetable broth instead of chicken, use russet potatoes instead of Yukon Gold, use pie pumpkins the way Virginia taught us here.... Make the recipe your own! :)

In a 3 quart sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat, and then cook the chopped onions until they're soft.

Add the garlic, potatoes and curry paste. Cook, stirring constantly until everything is blended and the curry paste is fragrant - about 3 minutes.'s smelling good!

Increase the heat to high, and add the broth and water. Once it starts boiling, turn the stove down to low, partially cover, and let the soup simmer for 15 minutes or so.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the pumpkin and peanut butter. Stir until it's all blended, and you're ready to go!

I love this soup because of the blend of flavors - the slight sweetness of the pumpkin with the heat of the curry paste is fabulous!

Another way to serve this would be with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt in the bowl. Heavenly creaminess :)

Have a great Monday!

Jan Drexler spent her childhood dreaming of living in the Wild West and is now thrilled to call the Black Hills of South Dakota her home. When she isn’t writing she spends much of her time satisfying her cross-stitch addiction or hiking and enjoying the Black Hills with her husband of more than thirty-seven years.

Friday, September 27, 2019

My First Attempt at Zoodles

Missy Tippens

I finally used my veggie spiralizer! I only bought it about a year ago. :) When a saw a really tasty-sounding recipe from WW (formerly Weight Watchers), I decided to pull out that zoodler and put it to good use.

The recipe that inspired my dish is called "Veggie 'Pasta' with Lemon, Chives and Goat Cheese." I didn't share a link because I believe you have to be a member to see the recipes. Here's my take on it:

3-4 squash (I used yellow and zucchini)
Goat cheese crumbles
2 lemons (zest and juice)
Chicken broth (about 1 cup)
pre-shredded carrots (or make a whole carrot into "noodles")
Fresh asparagus, chopped
chives (I didn't have any)
shallot (I didn't have a fresh one so used dried ones and let them absorb some broth)

Make the "noodles" using whatever method you use.

Look at all the "noodles" I got from 4 squash!

Wait. Back up a few hours! While making my lunch that day, I realized I could use the last of the rotisserie chicken carcass to simmer and make some homemade broth. It turned out amazing and was a great use of something I had planned to just throw away. I'll start doing this every time and freezing it.

Now back to the recipe. :) I sautéed my dried shallots in about a cup of chicken broth to rehydrate them. (Actually, I used about 2 cups, which was way too much chicken broth, and it was almost like soup. So start out with 3/4 to 1 cup and move up from there.)

Meanwhile, I zested the lemon.

Then I added the carrots and asparagus to the pan.

Once the asparagus had cooked just a bit, I stirred in the lemon juice and zest and half of the goat cheese.

I bought this kind but will probably use the softer "tubed" kind that I love so much next time I make this.

Then I added the noodles and tossed them with tongs to mix. Here's everything stirred together after the cheese has melted. Don't cook too long or noodles will get mushy.

We served and topped each bowl with additional cheese crumbles. Very tasty and healthy!

Thursday, September 26, 2019


This is one of our family faves. It's great for a crowd, but also great as a side dish any old time.

And it's simple!

My only caveat is to use good rice. I use Basmati, but Jasmine or another good quality rice is fine. The good rice gives it's flavor and texture twice over!

So basically, dirty rice is achieved by cooking the rice in seasoned water. Then we add whatever veggies we have on hand, water chestnuts (for crunch) and any leftover meat or seafood.

I have not found a combo we didn't love!

And if it's raw veggies, I steam them lightly in the microwave first because we only stir them into the rice at the end and heat through, so you don't want them too raw. I did that with the celery and carrots this time, but you can use any veggies you want!

And for Kav and other vegetarians, you can simply use Sazon seasoning in your water and dirty it up with Cajun seasoning, salt and black pepper... not too spicy, though... unless you want it spicy!

Water chestnuts, canned or frozen corn, lightly steamed carrots and celery!

I dirtied my water with equal combinations of Beef and Chicken Base by Tone's. That way it was a meat-stock base, then seasoned it with garlic and Cajun seasoning.

Nice and dirty!

And we had two grilled chicken breasts that needed a home and they found one in the dirty rice....

In the end I could honestly use this as a main dish. I really don't need anything else, a bowl of this is a meal for me.

But we paired it with grilled sausages and fresh rolls because men are DIFFERENT.

And that's all I'm sayin' 'bout that!

A great dish, great flavors, and quick to prepare gives Dirty Rice a win in our house!

USA Today bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne is busily helping to run a vibrant (read: crazy) pumpkin farm in Western New York and scribbling out books when she can find a hiding place... she loves to hear from readers and writers. Friend her on facebook, follow her on Twitter which is a really crazy awkward place to say much of anything, isn't it????? and you can email her at Her website is and she loves adding folks to her newsletters. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Praline Peach Shortbread

I had several different meals planned for today, but life got in the way. Then, as I was scrolling through looking for a post I wanted to revisit on sandwiches (which I couldn't find), I found this. My mouth started to water just remembering it, so I figured since we STILL have summer weather, I'd share it again.

Also - I'm hosting Melanie Dobson over on Seekerville day, so please hop on over.

For the past few weeks, Facebook has been taunting/tempting me with a recipe for Peachy Praline Upside Down cake. Have any of you been getting that in your sidebar? It shows up in mine at least once a day.

So of course I had to look.

It's a recipe from Taste of Home.

Here's the link in case you want to make the real thing. Taste of Home Peach Praline Upside Down Cake.

I didn't want that big cake - mainly because I'm the only one here who would eat it. But really because it involved separating eggs and whipping the whites... and well, I just wanted something simpler.

Then I remembered a praline shortbread I'd had a few months ago from the farmer's market. It was pretty good, but lacked that home made taste.

So, why not combine them.

The first part I cribbed from Taste of Home.
2 sticks of butter softened
2/3 cup of sugar  (They call for brown. I used coconut palm sugar which is brown ;)  )
1 tsp of cinnamon (They added ginger but I skipped that. Nut meg might have been tasty.)

You mix all of that together over low heat until it's a yummy, gooey texture spread across the pan

Then you layer peach slices and pecans. I used 4 peaches and a bunch of handfuls of pecans.

Next, with bows to King Arthur Flour, we had shortbread. You can find that recipe here:
King Arthur Flour Shortbread Recipe.
2 sticks of butter, 1 cup of confectioner's sugar, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.
Cream everything together, then add 2 cups of flour.

Mix well and spread over the peaches. Bake at 350 degrees until done.

 The recipe for the shortbread says about 35 minutes, but I found that it took longer this way because the peach praline mix made the dough take longer to cook. It tasted really good after 35 minutes, but it wasn't thoroughly cooked.

I couldn't resist a peek as it was cooking
The finished product - a perfect accompaniment while I write.

Note: It is very rich, hence the small serving. But oh so delicious!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Cookies-and-Cream-Filled Cupcakes

Mindy here, and between deadlines and preparing to head off to the annual ACFW Conference in San Antonio, I have not done a lot of cooking. And definitely no baking. But that doesn't mean I don't dream about it. Since I've been dreaming of cupcakes, I thought we'd revisit these indulgent Cookies-and-Cream-Filled Cupcakes I share a few years ago.

I started with my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe. You can find that recipe here. Once the cupcakes have cooled, core out a little belly button in the center of the cupcake. You can use a cupcake corer (which you can see at the back of this photo - they're inexpensive and easy to use) or apple corer or a knife. Whatever works for you. 

For the filling, you will need:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
  • 4 oz. butter, salted or unsalted (I only had unsalted, so that's what we went with)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 12 Double Stuff Oreos, pulverized
First, to take care of the Oreos. And no, that does not mean eating them. The recipe only calls for 12, so there are plenty left in the package for eating. Preferably with a nice cold glass of milk. :)

I put the 12 in my food processor and pulsed them until they were where I wanted them. Nice and crumbly, but not powdered. If you don't have a food processor, a zip-top plastic bag and a rolling pin can achieve the same results. Not to mention remove any pent up frustrations you might have.
Next, cream the butter and cream cheese. Add the vanilla. Then slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
Fold in the crushed cookies.
 Sample the fruits of your labor.


Now the recipe says to use the filling immediately or refrigerate until ready to use. Of course, if you do this, it will get stiff. Since our cupcakes were waiting to have their tummies filled, I spooned the filling to a disposable decorator bag with the tip cut off to give me an opening that was just the right size for the holes I was filling. This didn't take long and got the job done with no mess at all.
However, once they were filled, I had to figure out what to frost them with. I mean what kind of frosting goes well with cookies and cream filling. My son suggested cookies and cream frosting, but I asserted my veto power. Instead, I opted for the chocolate frosting Ruthy touted in one of her posts. (recipe here)

Yet for as wonderful as the frosting was, it was a little overpowering for the filling. Next time, I think I will just dip the tops in a simple layer of ganache. Because, after all, the filling really is the star of the show.
I gotta say, the filling really is amazing. And what a way to wow your friends. So what do you think? Are cookies-and-cream-filled cupcakes worth a try?

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

Monday, September 23, 2019

Moving: my own personal treasure hunt

Jan here, happily ensconced on Heaven's Back Porch...

Jack on Evening Deer Patrol

I was reminded this summer (over and over again!) that moving is never easy, no matter how well prepared you think you are! It's been a rough go since the beginning of April, and we aren't done yet!

But we're getting settled in. Jack is establishing his own place in our abbreviated family (empty nesters!) And I'm making headway on my next book with the deadline of October 1st.

So, even though I should be writing instead of chatting here at the Cafe, I have to tell you (again) about this fabulous drink I discovered about six years ago.

Why now? Because I found my french press and bag of cocao nibs in the back of a cupboard when I was packing in June, and found them again when I was unpacking a week or so ago! I told you that moving is a treasure hunt! I've fallen in love with this drink again. (My first post about brewed chocolate was from 2013 - you can read it here.)

Basically, this drink is hot chocolate, but made like coffee. I have never learned to like coffee - although I make up for it with my addiction to Earl Grey - but this stuff is...well...South American Ambrosia!

When I first discovered brewed cocao, I drank it straight. Now I add a teaspoon of stevia sweetener and a tablespoon of cream. YUM!

You can buy cocao nibs on Amazon here, but I found my most recent bag at my favorite bulk foods store, E&S Sales in Shipshewana, Indiana. I paid $1.14 for a pound. Yes, you read that right!

I brew the chocolate in a french press reserved just for this drink.

Four tablespoons of ground cocao nibs, about twelve ounces of boiling water, and 12-15 minutes brewing time. You can use the cocao nibs two or three times, so go ahead! Brew as many batches as you want!

And did I mention how healthy it is? Antioxidants and everything!

And it is so chocolaty!

I think I'll go brew another cup right now!

Meanwhile, like I said, Jack is settling into our home and our lives. Here are some gratuitous puppy pictures:

He's a fluffy, friendly little guy who loves to play and cuddle. But he's still a baby. He spends much of his day like this:

Next spring he'll be grown enough to hike with us in the Hills, but until then it's eating and sleeping!

Jan Drexler spent her childhood dreaming of living in the Wild West and is now thrilled to call the Black Hills of South Dakota her home. When she isn’t writing she spends much of her time satisfying her cross-stitch addiction or hiking and enjoying the Black Hills with her husband of more than thirty-seven year

Friday, September 20, 2019

Welcome Sourdough Bread Cookbook Author Carroll Pellegrinelli!

I'd like to welcome guest Carroll Pellegrinelli today, whom I met through Debby Giusti! Carroll is sharing a recipe from her new cookbook, Starter Sourdough: The Step-by-Step Guide to Sourdough Starters that is available for pre-order now. Take it away, Carroll...

Sourdough starter is an amazing creation. It can be made from two simple ingredients, flour and water. The fermentation of sourdough extends the shelf life of bread. No one in the entire world will be able to make bread or other baked goods exactly like yours as no two sourdough starters are the same.

Want to learn more about sourdough starters and try more recipes? Order my book “Starter Sourdough – The Step-by-Step Guide to Sourdough Starters” from Amazon at:

Here's a recipe for you today from the new cookbook...


Note from Missy: I love making sourdough bread and have shared my experience here. But one thing that's tough for me is to throw away the starter as I'm making room to feed it (since I don't bake weekly). So it's wonderful to have recipes to find ways to use that "discarded" starter! I bought my copy and can't wait to get started once it releases October 1st!

Thanks to Carroll for visiting today! 

Carroll Pellegrinelli has been baking for as long as she can remember. Under her mother’s guidance she began creaming her butter and sugars as soon as she could reach the counter. A few years later, in an effort of self-preservation, her father took up bread baking. He found that kneading dough alleviates work-related stress. Carroll soon followed suit and began baking bread too. For almost 20 years Carroll wrote about Desserts and Baking for, which was owned by The New York Times. Combining her love of food and travel, Carroll wrote the first book in a series of adventure travel cookbooks: Travel with the Lee Girls, As they Shop and Eat Their Way Through the South, New Orleans. The book is available on Amazon in paperback and in e-book at
Her latest book is a cookbook called: Starter Sourdough – The Step by Step Guide to Sourdough Starters. This book can be found at: