Living the Country Life

Lisa's Kitchen Blog

Thank you for visiting my blog! I'm glad you're here. I am a part-time Living the Country Life and Successful Farming web editor, and a full-time stay-at-home mom to my three young sons, Jake, Luke, and Will. My husband, the boys, and I live on 40 acres in south-central Iowa. We have a handful of cattle, an old farmhouse, a dog, a turtle, a goldfish, and a garden. It's a great life! I really enjoy cooking for my family and friends, and am thrilled to get to share some of my favorite recipes and meals with you.

Come visit my blog anytime you’re looking for ideas on what to fix for your family. The coffee’s always on!

~ Lisa Foust Prater

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October 9, 2013

Twice-crocked potatoes

One of my favorite parts of my job is putting recipe slideshows together. It's so much fun to look through all the photos and recipes here at Meredith, and choose the ones I think sound best. I recently posted the slideshow 12 Easy Slow Cooker Meals, which featured the recipe for Twice-Crocked Potatoes.

I love my slow cookers. In fact, last weekend, I had three going at once. One had a pork roast cooking in root beer, which we turned into shredded pork with our favorite barbecue sauce. The next was filled with baked beans. The third held the twice-crocked potatoes. 

I have always loved twice-baked potatoes, but they are such a pain to make. These had all the flavor of this favorite side-dish, with almost none of the work. It's a win-win! I did a couple of things differently than the recipe above called for, but that's the beauty of cooking, especially slow cooking! You can tailor the recipe to suit your likes. I didn't have Yukon gold potatoes, so I just used regular old russets. I also had about 6 ounces of cream cheese lying around, so I added it to the mix as well. 

The first step was baking the potatoes in the slow cooker, and this is amazing in and of itself. I have tried this before, wrapping the potatoes in foil, but this recipe said to just pop them in the crock. so that's what I did, and they turned out amazing. They would've been perfect to serve alongside a steak with butter and sour cream. I will never bake potatoes in the oven again! They mashed very easily with a potato masher, which meant that the only dishes that got dirty in the making of this recipe were the crock and the masher. Yes!

Click on the link above and give this recipe a try. My whole family ate it up like crazy!

Happy slow cooking!

July 16, 2013

Rhubarb dump cake

Some days, it seems like all you see on Facebook are recipes. Some look super good, and others just look frightening. One I've been seeing A LOT of lately is rhubarb dump cake. Now, I love rhubarb, and I love cake, so naturally I wanted to give this one a try. Luckily, my parents have a ton of rhubarb growing at their house!

It turned out to be really delicious! I'm not sure I'd exactly call it a cake; it's more like a cobbler or a crisp. But when it tastes this good, who cares what you call it?!? Here's the recipe we used, as seen all over Facebook:

Rhubarb dump cake

1 lb. rhubarb, cut into 1/4" pieces (between 3-4 cups)
1 cup sugar
1 (3-oz.) pkg. powdered strawberry gelatin
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 cup water
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13" baking dish. Spread the rhubarb evenly in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle the sugar over the rhubarb, followed by the gelatin, and finally the cake mix (just the powdered mix, not prepared batter). Pour the water and melted butter over the top. Do not stir. Bake for 45 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender and the top is golden brown.

That's it! Serve it up with whipped topping or ice cream, and you're all set. You could experiment with other types of fruit as well, adjusting the amount of sugar as needed. Rhubarb obviously would require more sugar than peaches, for example. Enjoy!

Find more ways to use your rhubarb here: 8 amazing rhubarb recipes

July 3, 2013

Gooseberry crunch

Yesterday, my boys and I packed a picnic lunch and went for a hike in our back 40. I wanted to check the raspberries, and we needed a little adventure. After lunch, I started looking for raspberries, and noticed a bush with something else on it ... gooseberries! We have lived in our house for 14 years, and I had no idea there were gooseberries growing all over the timber parts of our property. Not only that, but there are raspberries, blackberries, mulberries, and grapes, too. We picked enough gooseberries to make a dessert, and also picked raspberries and mulberries to just munch on. The blackberries and grapes aren't ready yet, but we'll be there when they are! (See more photos of our berry-picking hike!)


My mom found her recipe for gooseberry crunch, and we made it today. It was delicious! The gooseberries (picked when green) are mouth-wateringly tart. The boys described it best: they look like beans but taste like rhubarb!

Gooseberry crunch

Crumb topping:
1 cup flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup soft butter
1 tsp. cinnamon

Fruit mixture:
3-4 cups gooseberries
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. corn starch
1 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix together crumb topping until crumbly. Press half of the mixture into a greased 9" baking dish.

In a saucepan, combine sugar, corn starch, water, and vanilla. Bring to a boil. Add fruit and cook until clear and thick.

Pour fruit mixture over crumb mixture. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture on top.

Bake at 300 degrees F. for 45 minutes or until browned. 

June 18, 2013

Peach-graham crisp

My husband and our oldest son, Jake, LOVE peaches. I was feeling extra nice the other day and decided to buy a whole mess of them at the grocery store, and whip up a peach crisp. I found a recipe on our sister site,, and set to work.

Unfortunately, the peaches I bought turned out to be less than stellar. A few of them were hard as apples, and the rest were mushy. They all felt fine when I picked them out the day before. Apparently I need to refine my peach selection technique. Ideally, I'd get them from a farmer's market or orchard, but it's not quite time for that around here yet. My parents just planted a small white peach tree in their backyard, so with any luck, I'll be able to get peaches from them in a few years. 

I think next time I make this recipe (and I will make it again!), I'll just use a few bags of frozen sliced peaches. The work of peeling and slicing is done, and the peaches are uniform in size and texture. I also think I'll double up on the topping. We like our crisps extra crispy, with lots of crunch. That said, this dessert made everyone happy, and we loved the way the sauce became almost caramel-like. It would be delicious with apples! The graham crackers in the crisp topping added a nice flavor, too. Here's the recipe as I prepared it.

Peach-Graham Crisp

1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7 cups 1/2-inch fresh or frozen peach slices (8 peaches about 3-1/2 lb.), or 1/2-inch cooking apples, such as Granny Smith
2 tablespoons honey
2/3 cup coarsely crushed graham crackers (5 squares)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. For filling, in a bowl stir together granulated sugar, the 2 tablespoons flour, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Add peaches; toss to coat. Spread in 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Drizzle honey over peaches; set aside.

For topping, in a bowl stir together crushed graham crackers, brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, rolled oats, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping evenly over the peach mixture.

Bake, uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Serve warm. Makes 8 servings.

June 14, 2013

Monkey bread

When you live in a house full of monkeys, it's important to feed them the things they would eat in the wild. That means lots of bananas, and, of course, monkey bread. Here's their favorite monkey bread recipe, courtesy of Grandma!

1 pkg. (3 1/2 oz.) cook-and-serve butterscotch pudding mix
1 cup brown sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 tubes (10 oz. each) refrigerated biscuits
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine pudding mix, brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans, if desigred. Pour the butter into a shallow bowl. Cut biscuits into quarters.

Dipseeral pieces into the butter, then place in the bag and shake to coat. (Note: the butter gets cold fast because of the cold biscuit pieces being dipped into it, so you may need to rewarm it.)

Arrange coated pieces in a 10" fluted pan. Repeat until all biscuit pieces are coated and in the pan. Pour any remaining butter and mix over the biscuits in the pan.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30-35 minutes or until browned. Cool for 30 minutes beore inverting onto a serving platter. Makes 10-12 servings.

June 7, 2013


I went to college at Grand View (then Grand View College; now Grand View University), a Danish school in Des Moines. There were many wonderful things about being a Grand View Viking: a rich history with many interesting Danish traditions, small class sizes, excellent teachers, and every Christmas, an all-you-can-eat aebelskiver breakfast. Go, Vikings!

So what is aebelskiver? I had never heard that word before I went to Grand View. This traditional Danish pastry can be served for breakfast or as a dessert. It's like a cross between a pancake and a popover, with a pancake texture and a popover flavor, but in the shape of a ball, usually between golf ball and tennis ball size. Heavy cast iron aebelskive pans with round cups are used to make the treats. (Aebelskive is the singular form of the word; aebelskiver is plural.) A few years after graduation, I came across an old pan at an auction and snapped it up. I had never actually used it to make aebelskiver until today! (You can find aebelskive pans online, sometimes called pancake puff pans.)

This morning when I saw something on Facebook about today being National Donut Day, I thought I'd make some baked donuts for my still-sleeping boys. Then I remembered my aebelskive pan was tucked away in my cupboard, so I found a recipe on our sister site,, and got to work. I like this recipe because it's basic and simple, and what I think traditional aebelskiver must have been like. It doesn't call for fancy ingredients, so the old-time Danish farm mom would have everything she needed on hand to whip these up for her family. The word aebelskiver is actually Danish for "apple slices" because traditionally, they would mix chopped apples into the batter. That would be delicious! 

You can top the aebelskiver with powdered sugar, maple syrup, honey, jam, peanut butter, or whatever tickles your fancy. I had mine with honey and a mug of hot tea, and they were delicious. It definitely brought me back to Julefest breakfast at Grand View! The boys tried all kinds of toppings on theirs, but decided they liked strawberry jam the best. 

It may take a little practice to perfect your method for flipping the aebelskiver. I tried using a fork, but found that using two wooden chopsticks worked best. I'd push on one side of the aebelskive with one chopstick, until it started to come up out of its cup, then would let the uncooked batter pour back into the cup and flip the shell over on top. In the old days, Danish ladies used their knitting needles to flip aebelskiver, which I think would work perfectly! I also had less trouble with sticking when I used non-stick spray rather than oil. Give this recipe a try, find which method works best for you, and share this delicious treat with your family, on Donut Day or any day at all!


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
Cooking oil (about 3 tablespoons)
Jam, jelly, honey, syrup, or applesauce (optional)
Sifted powdered sugar (optional)

1. In a mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another mixing bowl stir together milk and egg yolks until well combined. Add to flour mixture. Stir until smooth.

2. In a small bowl beat egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Gently fold beaten egg whites into batter, leaving a few puffs of egg white. Do not overbeat.

3. Place an aebleskiver pan over medium heat; lightly brush each cup with oil. When the oil sizzles, use about 2 tablespoons of the batter to fill each cup 2/3 full. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. As a thin shell forms, use a fork or wooden toothpick to gently invert the cooked portion and allow the uncooked portion to flow into the cup. Invert each aebleskiver and cook until all shells are set and all sides are sealed. Continue rotating and cooking until they are evenly golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted in their centers comes out clean.

4. Use a fork or wooden toothpick to transfer each aebleskiver to a plate. Serve immediately or keep warm in a loosely covered ovenproof dish in a 300 degree F oven. If desired, serve with jam, jelly, honey, syrup, or applesauce and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 30 aebleskiver.


April 8, 2013

Cherry cordial brownies

I love taking a box of cake or brownie mix and turning it into something sort of homemade! Last night for dessert, I tried something new, and it was a hit. I was trying for the flavor of chocolate-covered cherries, or cherry cordials, with the creamy filling. They turned out great, and Jayson even said, "This may be the best thing you've ever made." He's a sucker for chocolate and cherries, though. Here's how I did it!

Cherry cordial brownies

1 family-sized box of brownie mix, plus the ingredients called for on the box
1 cup dried cherries or cherry-flavored dried cranberries
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp. flour

Preheat oven and prepare brownie mix as directed on the box. stir in the cup of dried cherries. Pour batter into a greased 9x13 baking dish.

Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and flour. 

Spoon the cream cheese mixture on top of the brownie mixture, forming stripes. Drag a butter knife through the batter in the opposite direction as the stripes, going one way and then the other, to marble the batter.

Bake as directed on the brownie mix box. You'll need to add a little time, but start checking the brownies about the time the box says they'll be ready. When a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean, they're ready! Serve with ice cream, hot fudge sauce, and, of course, a cherry on top!

April 1, 2013

April Fools!

I love April Fool's Day! When I was a kid, my dad would fool me RELENTLESSLY on April 1, and it was so much fun. Now I get to fool my kids!

This morning, I made them green scrambled eggs by putting some blue food coloring in the bowl as I whisked the eggs and milk together. I didn't take a picture, because the bus comes just after 7:00, and mornings are a bit crazy at my house.

When the boys got home from school, they could smell brownies. I asked them if they wanted a brownie, then I opened up a pan and they saw this!

Ha! Brown EEEEEs! They thought that was pretty funny, but their laughter was followed immediately by fury at the lack of actual brownies. No worries, I had a pan baking in the oven!

I must say my oldest got me even better than I got him, though. When he first walked in the door, he looked really worried and upset, and told me that he had been suspended. Thank goodness that was an April Fool's prank!

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March 23, 2013

Coconut shrimp

Whenever I go to a certain seafood chain restaurant that rhymes with Fred Globster, I always get the coconut shrimp. There's something about the crunchiness of the coconut and the sweetness of the fruity dipping sauce that just makes me feel like it's summer and I'm someplace tropical.

For my husband's birthday, the boys and I got him a giant outdoor fryer. It's fairly huge, and can fry a turkey lying flat, or four fried chickens at once. It also came with two baskets for frying a couple of different things at once. As you know, we love fishing for catfish, and this little gadget will make it much easier to host a fish fry. We are looking forward to lots of tasty fried fish this summer, but we had to go ahead and try it out.

Today, as we were bracing for what is HOPEFULLY the last snowstorm of the season, we decided to fry ourselves some lunch. We made corn dogs and fries, and since I am in desperate need of sunshine and a tropical feeling, I tried coconut shrimp. I found a recipe on our sister site,, and customized it a bit. I have loved this site for years, so you can imagine how excited I was when Meredith purchased it! It's a great addition to our family of magazines and websites.

The coconut shrimp was delicious! It tasted every bit as good as in the restaurant, but we made a giant batch for around $6. You can't beat that!

If you live in an area where fresh shrimp is readily available, then lucky you! Use your fresh shrimp! I live in Iowa and it's a million degrees below zero, so I went with frozen. The shrimp I bought was precooked, peeled and deveined, but had the tails still on. Perfect for this dish.

Coconut shrimp

1 egg
1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup beer
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cup coconut
24 shrimp (I used 28 large shrimp, which came in a 12-oz. bag)
Oil for frying

Dipping sauce

Orange marmalade or apricot preserves
Orange juice

Clean and/or thaw shrimp, if necessary. In a medium bowl, combine egg, 1/2 cup flour, beer, and baking powder. Stir to combine. Put 1/4 cup flour in a small bowl, and coconut in a separate small bowl.

Dredge shrimp in flour. Shake off the excess flour.

Dip shrimp in batter, and allow the excess to drip off.

Dip in coconut to coat both sides. Place on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Repeat until all shrimp are covered. Place baking sheet in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Heat cooking oil to 350 degrees. Fry shrimp in small batches for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on a platter lined with paper towels.

To make dipping sauce, spoon some of your favorite marmalade or preserves into a small bowl. Add orange juice, a little at a time, and stir well. Add juice as needed until it reaches a dipping consistency.

Put some Jimmy Buffett on the radio, pour yourself a margarita, and enjoy!


February 27, 2013

Potato chip cookies

Potato chip cookies? Are you kidding me? I had never heard of this before, but apparently moms and grandmas have been making these cookies for years. I was given this recipe by one of my cousins, and couldn't wait to give it a try. Today, my kids are home on another snow day. We wanted a treat this afternoon, and honestly they needed some time apart, so Luke helped me whip these up.

Let me say that I in no way recommend eating cookie dough or anything containing raw eggs. It is a terrible idea. But I am a dough hound and can't help myself. I am telling you, this cookie dough is the absolute best cookie dough I have ever tasted, with the possible exception of my grandma's snickerdoodle dough, and that is really saying something. When I was growing up, my mom couldn't even make noodles without me and my dad swiping bunches of dough. With dough this good, I knew the cookies would be great. 

We were so excited to try these, and they didn't disappoint! The cookies are thin and crispy, and the chips give them a nice extra crunch, and really add to the flavor. It's hard to describe, but I'm telling you they are good. Really good. Plus, crushing the chips is a great job for a kid. Luke went to town crushing them up, and he made sure we got the regular potato chips out of the pantry, not the sour cream and onion kind. "That would be a disaster," he said. The boys can't wait for their dad to get home, so we can give him a cookie and make him guess the secret ingredient!

Potato chip cookies

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter or margarine suitable for baking, softened
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (or butterscotch chips, or nuts, or whatever you like)
2 cups crushed potato chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream together the sugars and butter or margarine. Add eggs and beat until combined.

Add baking soda and flour. Mix well.

Fold in potato chips and chocolate chips. (To be honest, I dumped everything in my stand mixer, in the order listed here, and mixed well between ingredients.)

Drop by teaspoon onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (I used my mini ice cream scoop). Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.