Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ratatouille Omelette Redux


 Although the weather has finally turned chilly (for a day or two), this weekend the farmer's market was surprisingly still full of gorgeous tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, etc.

So I thought I'd go with one last hurrah for summer produce and share this old post. It didn't get too much attention the first time around, so maybe more people will get to see it today.


Ratatouille Omelette and a Trip Down Memory Lane

Many years ago (too many to count!), one of my first jobs was as a waitress in a French restaurant. The owner was the most superb chef. He was Spanish, but his wife was French, and his cooking was definitely French and out of this world delicious!!!

I don't want to tell you how many times we would go in the fridge and steal spoonfuls of his incredible chocolate chip mousse.

Then there were the late nights when he would feed all of us after the restaurant closed at midnight. It was a heady experience for a high school student to be sitting around the communal table enjoying what Jose whipped up for us. One big family with Brigitte at the head of the table.

One of my favorites was a ratatouille omelette. Never before and never since have I had one made quite so well.

But last night when I was walking home from work (and starving because I'd had only a few mouthfuls of lunch), I decided to do my own version with some leftover summer veggies.

I didn't have any eggplant (and didn't think to buy any).

Mine wasn't Jose's but it was pretty darn tasty.

I'll let the pictures tell the story.

Wonderful summer vegetables. I love the colors!!!

Added some oregano, basil, and garlic.

And then tonight, when I got home after a late church meeting, I had the leftover ratatouille on some leftover Italian bread with garlic and cheese.

Sorry the picture isn't more clear. I was hungry!

But now I want some of that heavenly chocolate mousse!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Falling for Fall with Easy Chicken and Rice Casserole

Yes, it’s finally beginning to feel more like autumn here in southeast Texas. We can open the windows at the big house and allow all those paint fumes to escape.
Those cooler temps also mean bonfires and a longing to be outside after retreating from the heat all summer.
The nice weather makes the wildlife more active, too.

However, you'd better plug your ears if a water moccasin is seen scooting across the lake.

Of course, there are some things that never change, no matter what the season.

This glorious weather has me wanting to do anything but stay inside and fix dinner. Making it the perfect time for one of my all-time favorite casseroles.
My girls’ grandmother shared this recipe with me when I was a young bride and everyone who tries it wants to know the recipe. I guarantee you’ve rarely had rice that tastes this good. Best of all, assembly is quick and easy, allowing you to go outside and play while the oven takes care of the rest.

Here’s what you’ll need:

A whole chicken, cut up, or whatever part of the chicken happens to be your favorite. On this day, I had a package of 4 large chicken thighs, so that’s what I used.

1 ½ cups long-grain white rice, uncooked

1 packet dry onion soup mix

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 tablespoon Beau Monde, a Spice Islands brand seasoning blend. Unfortunately, there are no substitutions for this and I’m convinced it’s what makes this recipe.

4 cups water

4-8 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the dry rice in a 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle with the soup mix and seasonings.
Add water and give it a quick stir.

Melt butter in a saucepan and dip chicken in butter to coat. 
 Nestle chicken into rice mixture.
I drizzled the remaining butter over the chicken.

Once you have all of your chicken in the pan, place the pan into a preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes to one hour, until chicken is cooked and liquid has been absorbed.
I will warn you that the aromas filling your house as this bakes will make your tummy growl and your taste buds eager for that first bite.

This dish is perfect for potluck dinners (though one taste will have folks fighting for more) or if you’re taking a meal to someone in need. Just add a veggie and you’ve got a complete meal with very little effort on your part.

Now it’s your turn. Are you enjoying fall where you are? Has old man winter tried to make an early appearance? Or is summer holding on forever?

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, October 16, 2017

Fun and Frugal Revisited: Quick Roasted Almonds

It is deadline crunch time, so I thought I'd bring back a post I shared five years ago...

WAIT!!! FIVE years ago??? That's right, five years. Now I officially feel old. Very old.

Okay, the pity-party is over! I recently brought this recipe out to help with quick, nutritious snacks to have during my mid-afternoon writing sprint. Make these ahead of time, keep them in a closed container, and there you are! Instant snack!

I'll get back to my writing while you enjoy the healthy look back...

Quick Roasted Almonds

Okay you fit and frugal peeps. Jan here with a recipe that's SO EASY and SO GOOD you'll love it!

Remember, this month I'm sharing recipes that are 1) low cost, 2) tasty and 3) healthy.

Almonds aren't really low calorie, but they're such a healthy snack, you just have to have a few every day. I usually allow myself about 25 almonds a day, for around 170 calories. That way I get the nutrition without breaking the calorie bank.

I made my roasted almonds using a recipe from Spark People, but you can use this same basic recipe to make whatever flavor you want.

So here's the scoop.


2 cups raw almonds
3 teaspoons olive oil
3 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons lime zest, freshly grated

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the almonds and olive oil until the almonds are coated.

Note: be sure to use raw almonds, not roasted or blanched.

Add all the rest of the ingredients except the lime zest. and stir until everything is well blended.

Spread the almonds out onto a shallow baking pan (or cookie sheet with sides). I like to line mine with parchment paper.

Roast the almonds in the oven for about 40 minutes, stirring once.

Meanwhile, make your lime zest.

I don't have a zester, so I use my grater. Grate the lime peel, both the green part and into the white part, until you have 2 teaspoons.

When your almonds are done roasting, sprinkle the lime zest on right away and stir. Once they're cool, store the almonds in a container.

I really like this cumin/lime blend, but I keep thinking about other yummy combinations, like cinnamon/sugar or garlic/Parmesan cheese.

What combinations do you think you might try?

Jan Drexler loves her family, her home, cooking and just about anything made by hand. But she loves her Lord most of all.

Stop by Jan's website to learn more about her books:

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fancying-Up Your Meat and Potatoes

Missy Tippens

I admit my food is not beautiful. I love to watch cooking shows and read cookbooks, and I admire the plating and beautiful dishes. Then when I make something, I pretty much just slap it on the plate. :)

When I share blog recipes with y'all, I often show the ingredients and steps of cooking but not the finished plate. Granted, sometimes it's because I forget to take the photos (like when I'm starving!). But not all the time. I have a lot of plated food photos in my camera that just aren't appealing to post.

Today, as I was looking back through my photos, I was struck by how many beautiful food photos I've taken at restaurants (although sometimes the lighting isn't great).

This is a wonderful salmon dish I had at Marlow's Tavern. It came with pea risotto underneath. But the really special part was the fennel, radish and orange on top in a wonderful dressing. Here's their description:

Grilled Atlantic Salmon. Sweet pea, mint barley risotto. Fennel, orange and radish slaw with citrus vinaigrette.

Sounds divine, doesn't it? Here is another dish I had recently at Carrabba's Italian Grill. This was the Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Arugula with a side of butternut squash ravioli.

The fresh arugula salad is tossed in Mediterranean lemon vinaigrette, then topped with parmesan.

So, taking a regular protein like breaded and sautéed chicken or grilled salmon and then topping it with something bright and citrusy is a great way to elevate the dish--as well as make it look beautiful!

This is something I want to try to do! I bought a cool kitchen device at a Pampered Chef party a few weeks ago. I bought their salad dressing shaker that comes with recipes right on the container. It's called the Measure, Mix & Pour. I'd like to try making more of my own homemade dressings, then tossing with fresh greens or crisp veggies or fruit to dress up some of my stand-by recipes.

Have any of you tried this? I'd love suggestions!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Bakery Side of Farming

You can tell we're not a crop farm. Crop farms are farms that plant big fields of corn or sorghum or cane or tobacco or wheat or oats, alfalfa, soybeans, or veggies to go to Bird's Eye or other major food producers...

We're a "Truck Farm".

We can truck our produce here, there or the other place and set up a little stand and sell from the back of the truck. That's where the "truck farm" label came from.

But we decided to change things up when we began this enterprise... to do it our way, based on an idea from our daughter Sarah and Dave's dream of a community farm that everyone comes to.

We don't truck anything. We could, we know that, and a lot of producers do, but we want people to COME TO THE FARM!!!

"Why would you want that?" you're wondering. "To have strangers traipsing around your yard, your farm, your house? What form of crazy person ARE YOU????"

Well, that's another blog post! We live in an old-fashioned house. We like old-time things, old-fashioned recipes, and hands-on work. We blend that with some social media savvy, cute miniature donkeys and a great hand at recipes. When we put that all together with farm-fresh veggies, then the idea of the bakery (begun long ago with simple zucchini bread) and hand-done craft items (done by locals in exchange for work time) becomes a reality.

All these mums from August 20th??? Sold! 756 mums grown, 740 sold!!!!

Right now we work from the kitchen... we're hoping for a barn, with a small kitchen tucked inside, a real farm bakery presence.

Why are we doing this when we should be going to Florida every winter???

(Ruthy sighs because she can't even really explain it herself, much less to others!!!)

Call it a calling.

Call us workaholics.

Call us crazy.

All would apply. In the end, it's that idea of revitalizing an old farm to its glory days, of bringing people together, and to our town of Hilton, NY... and doing the work of our hands the way we've always wanted to.

I don't have easy explanations for it, but there is so much excitement being generated by our $5 Pumpkin Farm... by the family taking care of customers... by talking to folks and reaching out...

It's working.

It's fun.

And it's offering folks a whole new opportunity to "Come to the Farm" on the west side of town.

We're growing... and we're growing!

And as we do, I think of those sweet Biblical verses about the vineyards and the sheep and the workers. Those humble shepherds, called to greet the Son of God.

Simple farmers. With big hearts.

Alleluia. :)  And saying that, I have to include this sweet child's version of Hallelujah...

So if we throw in some Blodgett Style Whoopie Pies, carrot cakes, and old fashioned oatmeal spice cake... well that's a fun aside right there!

Here's the RECIPE for the oatmeal spice cake, a new favorite! 

Our season will draw to a close in early November... when we say goodbye to the last squashes.

And then we start immediately planning for next year.

And all the while, singing or humming "Hallelujah"... for aren't we so blessed???

Inspirational author Ruth Logan Herne is as at home in a kitchen as she is on the farm or at a keyboard, and she loves to hunker down in the long, cold winters and write sweet stories... and then hit the deck running come spring planting! You can find her on facebook (she talks a lot) on Twitter (not as noisy!) and her website keeps you updated on all her books!

She loves God, her family, chocolate, mini donkeys, coffee, and so many other things... including toasty fires on cold, wet nights!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What Says Fall to You?

I noticed this sign as I was walking home tonight.

It's on the front of this really pretty restaurant.

 The sign made me think of fall, but the beautiful flowers are more in keeping with our summery weather. Which got me to thinking, what says fall to you?

Jan talked about some of her autumn traditions on Monday, including a great new one. But down here, the only firewood scent is still coming from barbecue grills.

Ruthy often shares the very visible signs of fall (and pumpkin season) on a farm.  We do have some of those. I was on Jury Duty today and there was a farmers' market set up in the plaza outside the courthouse. There were some pumpkins, but they mostly still had tomatoes and corn and zucchini.

Fall in the city can be really beautiful, and I hope to share some photos in the upcoming weeks, but on a day when the temps are still in the 80s, it wasn't feeling very fall like. I spent the lunch break sitting on the plaza eating a yogurt and basking in the sun.

 Still, it IS October.

I used this quote from L. M.  Montgomery in a Facebook banner last year. I'm still glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.

I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
Anne of Green Gables

 I thought I would leave you with a link for a recipe that transitions from summer into fall.

Butter Strawberry (or Apple) Streusel Oat Squares.

So, does it feel like autumn in your neck of the woods? Or are you still experiencing summer's last gasp?