Friday, November 29, 2019

Thanksgiving Leftovers -- My Annual Post

If you're out shopping today, good luck!! I can tell you I will be avoiding shopping in huge crowds. Not my thing. :) So for your enjoyment, if you're a homebody like me (or in between your shopping trips), here's my annual replay of my favorite Thanksgiving leftovers post! This is from 2011. Enjoy!

Missy, here. I wanted to tell you about a wonderful way to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers. I thought I'd share it today so you'd have time to add extra ingredients to your shopping list for next week. (Is it really approaching that quickly??!!)

Last year, 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 Thanksgiving leftovers?

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

From all of us at the cafe....

To all of you....

Wishing you a blessed and peaceful Thanksgiving Day.

Whether you have family around...

Or friends...

Or are eating as a party of one...

Please know that you are beloved. By God, by Christ and by so many others.

Life doesn't have to be scripted to be wonderful. It doesn't have to follow a protocol. It simply needs to be appreciated, so on this beautiful day of thanks and prayer, we wish you the very best. God bless you!

Jan, Mindy, Cate, Ruthy and Missy

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Kale - the new Romaine

Facebook and Twitter have been full of so many funny memes this past week.

My favorite may be this:

Unfortunately, it's not really funny. From what I'm reading, this last round of recalls was the straw that broke the camel's back for many people. As much as they love salads, they're just not willing to risk getting a serious life-threatening illness.

So, I'm here to tell you, you don't have to forgo salad. Just try a different base.

I've been preaching the benefits of kale for years, but for those I haven't convinced yet, consider this. If you buy a bag of kale like Glory, you can blanch it and then use it as a base for a salad. It won't have quite the fresh crunch of Romaine, but it won't have e coli either.

I thought I'd share photos of a few of the kale salads I've shared over the years.

You can really just add any of the things you would normally add to your salad!

Mindy even did a post on Kale salad back in June.

So, have you given up on salad? Want to give Kale a try?

Or will you just stick with cake?

And from my family to yours...

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Easy Thanksgiving Side

Okay, y'all, we're down to crunch time. Thanksgiving is only two days away. You know what that means. Let the cooking begin.

My turkey has been thawing in the refrigerator since Friday. Tomorrow I'll start brining it so it's ready to go in the oven Thursday morning. And then there are the sides. For most meals, I'm good with just meat, a salad and a veggie. But on Thanksgiving, it's too difficult to decide on which beloved side dishes to make so I just make them all. Mashed potatoes, dressing, green bean casserole (with fresh green beans and mushrooms), broccoli and rice... Everyone seems to have their favorite. But the one thing we all agree on is Corn Pudding.
And the best thing about it is that it's so easy to make.

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 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. Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture before people started digging in. 
Depending on how many folks I'm feeding, I usually double the recipe and extend the baking time as needed. The shallower the pan, the faster it bakes.

Four out of five kiddos will be making their way home for Thanksgiving this year. Having the two youngest grandbabies in the house at the same time should be fun. One is two and half and the other will be two the day after Christmas. Oh, just think of the mischief they could get into. 

So what are your plans for Thanksgiving? And what is your favorite Thanksgiving side dish? 

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 25, 2019

Story Time with Cranberry Tea

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

We'll be prepping for Thanksgiving today and tomorrow since the rest of the week will be packed to the brim with other things!

I'll be roasting the turkey tomorrow, then carving it and refrigerating the sliced meat until Thursday when I'll heat it up in the oven. Bread cubes for the dressing are ready and waiting to go in the slow cooker on Thursday morning, and the same for the potatoes. I'll slice the ham tomorrow, too, and keep it ready until Thursday morning.

Wednesday evening I'll set the table for our expected crowd of fifteen and prepare the relish plate (you might call it crudite, but my Amish forebears would think that is too fancy of a word!) The last thing on Wednesday will be the centerpiece to make the table festive - I'm still thinking about what that will look like!

All this prep means a peaceful Thanksgiving morning for hubby and I. We'll be sipping our cups of Cranberry Tea and watching the sun shine on the mountains instead of bustling around to get ready for our friends and family at noon!

Cranberry Tea? I shared the recipe several years ago in a post with a Thanksgiving story starring the characters from my Love Inspired book, A Home for His Family. Since then I've updated the story and changed it to Christmas, but the recipe is as good as ever!

You can still purchase this book here!

I hope you enjoy both the story and the recipe!

Christmas for the Colbys

Nate Colby paused at the edge of the clearing to get his bearings. Ahead of him, one line of tracks marred the pristine snow of the mountain meadow. They were his tracks from early this morning when he was fresh with the hope of finding game for his family’s Christmas dinner. Those tracks were straight and sure. Tonight? He glanced behind him. At least the approaching dusk hid his stumbling trail. Exhaustion was taking its toll.
This winter of 1878 was turning out to be a hard one here in the Black Hills. Most of the miners, their claims played out or sold to a bigger outfit, had gone south and east for the winter. Back to their city lives in hopes of finding a job to sustain them until spring when they could come back to Dakota and try again. The gold fever never let a man go once it grasped ahold of him.
But Nate hadn’t come to these hills for gold. He had come to make a home for his family. A home in a harsh wilderness.         
 He shifted the Sharps rifle to his left hand and started across the meadow. Even without meat, they wouldn’t starve. The fifty-pound bag of beans and a few sod potatoes in the root cellar ensured that. And if he had to….
 Nate shifted the Sharps back to his right hand again.
 If he had to, he could butcher one of the heifers.
 He shook his head at the idea. No man ate his breeding stock unless he had nothing else.
 The deep snow, soft from the winter sun, clung to his snowshoes like spring gumbo. He veered right at the far end of the meadow, avoiding the nightmarish Deadwood Gulch. Even in the best weather, a man could break a leg trying to navigate between the digs along the creek. And with snow covering the scattered mines, you never knew when the soft blanket would give way and you’d find yourself with one foot dangling in another man’s broken dreams.
  Trudging along the ridge, Nate searched through the possibilities of making tomorrow’s dinner special. Something to celebrate their first Christmas in the Black Hills. Something to help Olivia, Charley, and Lucy forget the anniversary of the fire that killed Nate’s brother and his wife, the children’s parents.
  Would any of the stores in town have sweets? Not likely. The last bull train bringing supplies had come through more than a month ago. A freighter or two still made the trek to Deadwood if they could, but the last wagon that had made it through just before the last storm had hauled pans, picks, and shovels. Supplies that wouldn’t be needed until spring.
  Some beef from Slaughterhouse Gulch on the north side of the valley? Too dear. He had spent all his cash on the cattle for his ranch.
  No, they would just have to make do with the beans and potatoes.
  Rounding Lexington Hill, Nate stopped, drinking in the sight of the cabin nestled under the shadow of the rimrock. His claim had been scoured by the miners in ’75, and then ignored. But the acres of grass in the high mountain meadows stretching in front of the cabin had been exactly what he had been looking for.
His gold was in the fifty bred heifers he had brought in from Montana last summer and his pair of Morgan horses. In his dreams, Morgan foals romped on the rich grass of these pastures. They represented a future for his family.
They meant the future for Coop’s family, too, if his partner ever got married and settled down. He missed Coop, but the young cowboy had gone west to spend the winter with his parents in Oregon. He’d be home in the spring, but until then, they’d have to get along without him.
  His pace quickened at the sight of a sleigh in front of the house. The MacFarlands had come. Did they know how important tomorrow was for the children? Sarah might have told her aunt and uncle, James and Margaret. Olivia had shared the tragedy with Sarah, confiding in the woman who had once been her trusted teacher.
  The thought of her put new energy in his steps. He tore off the cumbersome snowshoes as soon as he reached the front porch. As he swung the door open, James and Margaret looked up to greet him. The scene was as homey as he could wish, with the older couple sitting in the two chairs on either side of the fireplace while Sarah stirred a pot on the stove. Olivia and Charley stood on either side of her, leaning in to breathe in the fruity, spicy scent that filled the cabin.
   “Uncle Nate!” Five-year-old Lucy slid off Margaret’s lap and ran to him, grabbing his leg. “Sarah is making tea. Berry tea!”
   “Cranberry tea.” Olivia grinned at Nate over her shoulder, her cheeks pink from stirring the tea. She missed her mother more than any of them, but the sadness that had once haunted her eyes had disappeared since the wedding in October.
    Charley, with all the energy an eight-year-old boy could muster, ran to Nate and started pulling off his coat. “Wait until you taste it! And they brought turkey, too!”
   Nate glanced at James. The preacher smiled broadly. “The folks back home remembered us with a missionary barrel and sent it by special freight. It arrived this morning. The cranberries are straight from Maine.” He shook his head as if still unable to believe the blessing. “The Lord takes such good care of us.”
   With one arm around Lucy’s shoulders, Nate caught Sarah’s eye, returning her smile. Cranberry tea and turkey to make this Christmas special? It was only one of the miracles that had happened since he had made Sarah MacFarland his wife.

And here's the recipe:

Sarah Colby's Cranberry Tea


1 pound fresh cranberries
2-3 sticks cinnamon
1 cup honey
1/2 cup lemon juice

Cook the cranberries in a dutch oven or stock pot in two quarts water until they pop. Literally. When they get hot enough, you'll hear them popping in your pot!

Let them cook for a few minutes, and then strain out the cranberries - either with a strainer, or pour the tea through a colander, reserving the juice. and then put the juice back into the pot.

Save the cranberries, though! You'll want to use them for cranberry relish on Thursday!

Put the cinnamon sticks in the juice, and let simmer for about ten minutes. 

Add the honey, lemon juice, and an additional two quarts water. Heat to boiling, then reduce to a simmer.

You can remove the cinnamon sticks at any time, but Sarah likes to leave them in to get all the good flavor out!

Serve the tea hot, or refrigerate the leftovers and drink it cold. This is a great drink when you have a cold or the flu!

Have a great Thanksgiving!

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, November 22, 2019

My Favorite Salad Ever -- from The Tomato Head

Missy Tippens

This post is not going to be very long, because my favorite salad ever is from a restaurant, and I can't find the recipe for the dressing!

The good news is that my son is moving back to Atlanta this weekend! He's heading back to Georgia Tech, starting graduate school in January to get his PhD in Space and Planetary Physics and will start working on campus after Thanksgiving. The bad news is that we won't be regularly visiting Knoxville, TN, anymore, so I won't get to eat at The Tomato Head (sob!!).

When I recently visited him, he knew where I would want to go for lunch. He said it was a given. haha So I took a loving last photo of my very favorite salad ever, their Caesar (with Benton's Bacon added).

This amazing salad is made of romaine, mushrooms, black olives, and parmesan.

I could assemble these ingredients. I could even order Benton's Bacon.

But I cannot for the life of me find a recipe for the dressing, which is unlike any Caesar dressing I've ever had. It's more tart and vinegary (not really creamy at all). Maybe I'll call them and beg for it.

I did search and find that they've shared a lot of recipes online. You can check by clicking here. But you won't find the Caesar.

I did discover they use balsamic vinegar in some of their dressings, so I think I will do a little playing around in the kitchen to see if I can come close. If I ever do, I'll be sure to share it!

In the meantime, I may have to make the 3-1/2 hour trip when I'm craving this forever favorite. :) (Hmmm, I wonder if my son could bring me a salad in a cooler while moving??)

Salad dressing or not, we're thrilled to have him close by once again! As my oldest son once said about me: I love having all my chicks home. :)

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Ruthy's Favorite Pie Crust

I talk about pie crust a lot.

I love pie.

I think I've always loved pie and the love affair began as a child when I worked really, really hard to learn how to make pie crust that my dad would like. He wasn't an easy man in any way, and he was a very critical baker before I was born, so I would hear stories of the cool things he'd make with my older sisters.

By the time I was old enough to help in the kitchen, I'd lost my parents to alcoholism and mental illness. You don't realize all of this as a youngster. You glean it later, looking back,  realizing what was going on. As a kid, you just want to make Mom and Dad happy. And you want them proud of you!

Well to say my first Christmas pie crusts (age 12) were a total, unmitigated disaster would be an absolute understatement. To this day I can still remember my father's very negative reaction when he tasted it. Not a "thank you" for staying up all night to make pies because my mom never came out of her room... Not a hand on the head for taking care of my little brothers because there was no one watching out for them. Not a pat on the back for trying to oversee Thanksgiving Dinner for eleven people, except for the turkey and squash.

It's one of those memories that sticks because the whole thing was just so bad. I'm sure a psychologist would have a field day with it. BUT... what it did teach me is that good pie crust really does matter, and that no one's opinion but my own really matters because I'm the one that has to look in the mirror and face the Sweet Lord above. Those were two valuable lessons, my friends!

When I first saw the Country Tearoom Pastry recipe, it was at a "Learn to Speak to an Audience" thing. I'm not sure why I was there, I think to support one of the lovely ladies doing the course. I can promise you that I don't have a problem speaking to or with people, as a rule. :) We extroverts get a kick out of that.

But I was taken with this recipe and I'm giving it to you here today because this pie crust is a never fail. If you have to re-roll it, it still bakes beautifully. If you freeze it, it's still wonderful. And it's the kind of pie crust that balances a fresh chocolate cream pie or a warm apple pie equally, and that's the mark of a good crust! Flaky... softly golden... a hint of salt and sweetness.... and a perfect, non-tough texture.

So here it is as I do it, a family favorite and a recipe I've shared with so many! And huge thanks to the gal who introduced me to it at that speaker's meeting.... I can't remember her name, but I have never forgotten her speech/instructions or this pie crust!

Country Tearoom Pastry (Ruthy's version)

Mix together with fork:

4 cups flour (I use bread flour, and it needs a little extra water, but all purpose works fine)
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt

Cut in with pastry blender or two knives, criss-crossing:

1 3/4 cup Crisco

Mix together in small bowl:

3/4 cup water
1 large egg
1 1/2 Tablespoons vinegar

Pour liquid into flour mixture and stir with fork until mixture cleans the sides of the bowl and forms a large ball. Shape ball with your hands, cut into 4 or 5 wedges (4 wedges makes great 9" deep dish rounds or 10" normal rounds, 5 wedges works for a standard 8" or 9" pie pan)

Flatten wedges. Wrap and freeze any you're not going to use. I tuck the wrapped little rounds into a big freezer bag and that way I  have pie crust on hand all the time. That makes the very thought of making a pie so much easier!

And here's a glimpse of how to make a lattice-top pie:

 Lattice tops look fancy but they're easy! It's like making a potholder or braiding hair... alternate one over the other. I start in the middle and work my way out. So much easier that way.

Next week will be the first time our oldest daughter's family has been up north for Thanksgiving in fifteen years, so we're very excited to have almost everyone here... and we've got a few surprises up our sleeve if the weather is all right and I can coordinate a bunch of kids in a specified area for a few hours of pie-making time. :) Grammys always have something up their sleeve, friends!

Wishing you a wonderful upcoming weekend, and a blessed holiday week. God is good!

Multi-published inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne loves God... her family.... her country.... Pollyanna stories.... Fixer Upper... chocolate.... coffee.... dogs.... and she tolerates cats the way they tolerate her. Find her on Facebook.... Or stop on over at her website, cleverly named :) Or visit with Ruthy and her friends here at the cafe or over on These gals love to share their stories, their wisdom and their time with you!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

A Pathetic Appeal for Help

Hey there, Cafe folk.

Guess what - no new stove.

When I ordered it - and paid $400 extra to have the new stove installed (gas hookup) and the old one carted away, you'd think SOMEONE might have thought to tell me that those things don't happen on the same day, and, IN FACT, they don't even call to even discuss dates for installation for several days after delivery. Let's not get into how the old one was supposed to be hauled away if the installer who needs to disconnect the old one doesn't come for a week after the new one is delivered!!!

Long story short - I refused delivery. I'm not on board for that kind of deceptive customer service (especially when the delivery guy offers to take care of it on the side for a small fee after I already paid a heft fee for it to be done legitimately).

So, thank you for letting me get that off my chest!

So, now it's back to the drawing board, and I'm going to use a small local appliance dealer rather than the big box store.

But in the meantime, I am SO sick of takeout and variations on it. When your online order from the local BBQ place says You have previously ordered this item 6 times, you know it's a problem!

Between brisket and smoked turkey from the BBQ place, pizza, chicken tenders, mashed potatoes, rice, lentils, Mac and Cheese, etc., I'm just sick of everything!

So, does ANYONE have a suggestion for some variety? It has to be either microwaveable or able to be cooked on the stove top.


On a more positive note, aren't these sky pictures pretty? The other night, as temps were free-falling below freezing, the sky had a surprisingly tropical feel.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

When Bananas Turn Black

Black bananas. 
Many people see them as gross, inedible, slimy... No, no, no, no, no. Black bananas are a blessing. A fantastic treat waiting to happen. Because without black bananas, there would be no banana nut bread. Okay, there might be, but it wouldn't be the same with those hard chunks of ripe banana.

I turned in my tenth book on Friday, which means I've been feeling that deadline crunch for the past two weeks (maybe more like a month), so most other things in life have found themselves relegated to the back burner. Until now. And since hubby didn't eat his bananas, we all get to indulge in this delicious banana nut bread. And you can, too.

Here's what you'll need:
  •  1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • a generous 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cups chopped pecans
Butter standard size loaf pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder) and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until blended. 

Peel and place bananas in a small bowl and mash with spoon just until lumpy.
With your mixer on low, if using an electric or stand mixer, blend in your mashed bananas, sour cream and vanilla until barely combined. 
Add dry ingredients and mix on low until incorporated, then do the same with the pecans.
Spoon into buttered baking pan.
Bake in 350 degree oven 50-60 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing.
Allow to cool before serving.
I love biting into those chunks of banana, paired with the crunch of the pecans. This banana nut bread is a palate pleasing treat.

So the boys are back. 
 Studying each other.
 Circling each other.
Most mornings and late afternoons, this is what things look like behind our house.
But having the bucks in the mix is the exception, not the norm. Usually, we have anywhere from one to twelve does and fawns, but they usually run off when the bucks come around, so this was nice to see. Everyone getting along, simply hanging out for a little bite to eat. 

And next week is Thanksgiving. Time has suddenly gotten away from me. Now I need to rein everything in and start planning. It's a busy month ahead. All the food, festivities and fun of the holiday season will soon be in full swing and I can't wait.

What about you? Are you ready for the holidays or are you dreading them? If you're dreading, perhaps it's time to refocus. Christmas is the biggest birthday celebration of the year. However, some of the best parties are quiet and subdued, keeping the focus on the One who's being celebrated. Think of all Jesus has done for you. Where would you be without Him? Now that, my friend, is worth celebrating. 

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