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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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July 30, 2011

BLT salad sandwiches

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Here’s a quick lunchtime salad that’s perfect for summer. Chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad … and now BLT salad!

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Just shred some lettuce (or save time by buying a bag of shredded lettuce), toss in some diced tomatoes, add crumbled bacon, and enough mayonnaise or Miracle Whip to coat. Toss, and serve on bread or toast with more tomato slices and leaf lettuce, and cheese, if you like. These are the easiest BLTs ever!

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July 24, 2011

BLT finger salads

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Bacon and tomato sandwiches are a popular dinner choice at my house in the summer. Well, popular with everyone except me. I just don’t like tomatoes, and no matter how hard I try to change my taste, I just can’t. My husband and our three sons love them, and they think I’m crazy! I don’t mind making them, though, and I’m happy to be able to satisfy my family with an easy dinner that doesn’t heat up the house.

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They like their sandwiches on either toast or bread, with just Miracle Whip (don’t let my husband hear you call it mayonnaise), bacon, and tomato slices. That’s it. No lettuce, nothing fancy, just the basics. They go nuts for these. We usually serve them with some fresh sweet corn, and I’m happy just eating corn and sneaking a few slices of bacon.

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I’ve been trying to think of other ways to serve bacon and tomatoes, and came up with the idea for these mini salads. I love finger sandwiches. Why not make a finger salad?

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First, chunk or section your fresh tomatoes, pop them into a resealable plastic bag, add enough Italian dressing to cover them, give them a toss, and refrigerate for a few hours to marinate. Cook your bacon. (Or even better, use leftover bacon!)

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I found some miniature heirloom lettuce heads at the market, and they worked out perfect for this. You could use any type of lettuce leaf, as long as it’s a bit bendable so you can use it like a wrap.

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Lay washed and dried lettuce leaves out on a tray or on little plates. Top each with a few slices of bacon and some of the drained, marinated tomatoes.

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To make the dressing, simply spoon a little Miracle Whip (or you can use mayonnaise if Jayson isn’t around) into a small bowl, and add enough milk to make it the right consistency. Stir with a fork and drizzle the dressing over the salads. Add a few croutons, and that’s it! Eat them like a mini taco, with the lettuce leaf taking the place of the tortilla.

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I thought these little salads would be so nice to serve at a tea party, alongside cucumber finger sandwiches, petits fours, and other tiny, tasty treats. They’re also nice for kids. My oldest two sons love salad, and my youngest is coming around, but some kids flat-out hate salad. This is a good way to get them to eat a salad without even realizing it. It can’t be a salad if you’re eating it with your hands!

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July 24, 2011

Creamy cucumber spread

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I first tried this spread/dip several years ago when my friend Jill made it for a party. It was so delicious I had to ask for the recipe, and I couldn’t hardly believe it when she told me how easy it was. It’s really good on pita bread or crackers, spread into celery, or used for dunking carrot sticks.

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First, set an 8-ounce carton of cream cheese out until it’s soft. Peel a cucumber, then slice it in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds, and discard them. Next, use a grater to shred the cucumber. Use paper towels to squeeze as much of the water out of the shredded cucumber as possible. There is a LOT of water in a cucumber! Then, just stir the cucumber shreds into the softened cream cheese until well combined. You can eat it right away, or cover and pop it in the refrigerator for up to a couple of days. The flavor is even better the next day, but you may need to stir it up a bit before serving.

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What a great way to use up all of those cucumbers out of the garden!

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July 8, 2011

Follow Lisa’s Kitchen on Twitter!

Well, I’ve made the leap and joined the wonderful world of Twitter! You can click here to follow me, or find me at @lisaskitchen. I’ll share recipes, cooking tips, meal ideas, and more, and I’ll be asking for your ideas, too!

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Follow me! Tweet me! I’ll see you on Twitter!

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July 8, 2011

Angelic French toast

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The boys and I got a nice surprise the other morning when my husband made us breakfast. He took some leftover angel food cake, sliced it up, dipped it in an egg/milk mixture, and toasted it in a skillet with a little butter. Angel food French toast … what a brilliant idea!

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The French toast was even better since he warmed up some fresh peaches and poured them over the top. I had sliced them up the day before and put them in the refrigerator with a tiny bit of sugar, so they were nice and juicy.

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When it comes to Angel food cake, I have a little tip. My favorite way to make it is just to buy a box mix, but instead of adding the ingredients listed on the box, I just mix it with a can of crushed pineapple, juice included. Don’t over-stir it, just mix to combine and bake as directed. Yum!

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What a sweet treat, and what a sweet husband!

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June 26, 2011

Watermelon ice

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Is there anything better on a hot summer day than a big, juicy slice of watermelon? Maybe! I whipped up some watermelon ice the other day, and we had some for a snack today. It was like all the delicious juiciness of watermelon, but in snow-cone form! The kids loved this shaved ice treat, and the grown-ups thought it would be even better with a little vodka!

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This is a great way to use up leftover watermelon, too, since it’s pretty forgiving. If the melon is a little softer than you prefer for munching on, make it into ice and you’ll never be able to tell. Here’s how:

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Add 5 cups of seeded, diced watermelon into a blender. I bought seedless watermelon, and the little white seeds just disappeared in the blender, so don’t worry about taking them out! You could add other fruit if you’d like. Strawberries or blackberries would be yummy!

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In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup flavored gelatin powder. I used a melon-flavored gelatin, with hints of watermelon, cantaloupe and muskmelon. Pour 3/4 cup boiling water over the mixture and stir until dissolved.

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Pour the mixture into the blender and blend until completely combined. It will be pretty much liquefied. Pour into a container that has a lid. I used a large plastic container, but a metal pie pan with a lid would work fine. Freeze overnight or until solid. Use a spoon to scrape across the surface, and serve the shavings in a bowl, or for even more fun, pick up some snow-cone cups!

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June 25, 2011

Grandma Ruby’s 1-2-3-4 chocolate cake

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My grandma, Ruby Tilton, could bake a cake. That’s for sure. Like many good cooks, she never wrote many of her recipes down, which is too bad. Recipes are such a great way to reconnect with people we’ve lost, and even to get to know them. Grandma Ruby, pictured below, passed away when I was four years old. I do remember her, but only vaguely. I remember her hugging me, and that she was soft. 

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Luckily, my mom had the foresight to watch her mom bake her famous chocolate cake one day, and write the recipe down. Now Ruby’s descendants will be able to enjoy the taste of her delicious cake for generations to come! For me, this cake is like a big soft hug from my Grandma!

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You can frost this cake however you choose. I like white frosting on chocolate cake. My mom said when she was a kid, they’d eat this cake warm right out of the oven, with a little cream poured on top. YUM! 

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Like most old-fashioned cake recipes, this one is subject to falling. It happens once in a while. My mom said she isn’t sure what causes that to happen … opening the oven door once to often, kids jumping from kitchen chairs, who knows? But I highly recommend you make this cake and take that risk. It is so rich and moist, and a million times better and more chocolatey than anything you’ll find in a box. Take Grandma Ruby’s word for it!

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1 cup sour milk (add 1 Tbsp. vinegar to a measuring cup; add milk or half-and-half to make 1 cup)

1 cup boiling water

1 tsp. baking powder

1 Tbsp. vanilla

2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

2 sticks butter, room temperature

2 tsp. baking soda

3 eggs

4 HEAPING Tbsp. cocoa (use a serving tablespoon and heap … should be about 1 cup)

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Combine cocoa and baking soda in a large bowl and set aside.

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Combine flour and baking powder and set aside.

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Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla. Beat until well combined. Gradually add the flour and baking powder mixture and beat until combined and no longer lumpy. 

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Pour the 1 cup boiling water into the large bowl containing the cocoa and baking soda and stir very quickly. This mixture will bubble up a lot. That’s why you really need to put it in a large bowl.

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Pour the cocoa mixture into the batter and beat until mixed well.

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Pour into a buttered and floured 9″ x 13″ baking pan, and place in a 325 degree F. oven for about 1 hour. Watch closely and use a toothpick to test for doneness. Enjoy!!

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June 19, 2011

Gingerbread scones

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My mom and I love to drink coffee and chat together. She’s always got the coffee on when I get to her house, with a yummy assortment of flavored creamers. She also likes to bake, and often she’ll have a yummy snack to go with our coffee. With three small boys, I’m used to waiting on everyone, so it’s really a nice treat to walk into my parents’ house and have my mom offer me coffee and a snack! She made these delicious gingerbread scones the other day. I’m going to remember these at Christmas. They’ll make a tasty addition to our breakfast table, or a welcome treat for Santa. Don’t wait until then to try these, though … they’re great all year! Thanks, Mom!

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2 cups flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 cup cold butter

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup molasses

1/2 cup milk

1 egg, separated

Sugar for sprinkling

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In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add walnuts.

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In a small bowl, combine the molasses, milk and egg yolk until smooth. Stir into the flour mixture until moistened.

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Knead several times in the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet and pat into an 8″-10″ circle.

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Beat egg white until frothy; brush over scones. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve warm. (Also delicious cold!) Yields 12 scones.

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May 28, 2011

The best fish sandwich ever

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My husband’s friend and high school classmate Hughie knows how to catch some crappie, and knows how to cook them, too. Every so often when we’re back in the ol’ hometown, Hughie will have a bunch of us over for a good, old-fashioned fish fry. He dredges the fresh fillets in a cornmeal mixture and cooks them up in his propane-powered fryer. Hush puppies and sliced potatoes usually round out the menu.

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The crappie fillets are so delicious … crispy and fresh, and seasoned just right. The kids love them. The grown-ups love them. They disappear as quickly as he can fry them! 

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A few weeks ago, my husband saw a fish sandwich on TV that he couldn’t wait to try. When we heard Hughie was going to be frying crappie on our last trip down, we made sure to bring all of the fixings. Jayson also brought a rack of scrumptious pork ribs and barbecue pork loin he smoked in the smoker his dad built. There was plenty of good eating that night! We had a fantastic time sitting around with friends and family on Hughie’s deck, eating, talking, and laughing. The kids played ladderball in the yard and ran around with the dogs. Later, we made s’mores … perfect!

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The base of this best-ever sandwich is a fresh roll made by Hughie’s mom, Ruth. These things are addictive! We opened the roll, spread tartar sauce on both sides, then piled on the crappie fillets, topped them with a drizzle of creamy hot wing sauce, and topped with cole slaw. Hello! 

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Give this sandwich a try … you won’t be sorry! It’s hot and cold, spicy and creamy, and delicious all the way around!

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May 18, 2011

Banana crunch muffins

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When bananas get soft, banana bread usually comes next. We love muffins at our house, though, so that’s what we decided to do when our last bunch of bananas got too ripe. My mom shared this recipe, and it’s a good one! The muffins are moist and flavorful, and the crunchy crumb topping makes them really special!

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1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

3 large bananas, mashed

3/4 cup sugar

 1 egg

1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

For the crumb topping:

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp. flour

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 Tbsp. butter or margarine

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Mix together the 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat together the bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter. 

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Stir the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and stir just until everything is combined and moist. Fill 12 greased or paper=lined muffin cups.

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Mix together the dry ingredients for the crumb topping, and cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping over muffins.

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Bake in a 375-degree F. oven for 18 to 21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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