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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January 28, 2013

Idaho omelettes

Here is yet another creative meal inspired by Pinterest! If you aren't on this wonderful pinboard site, I recommend it! Take a look at the Living the Country Life Pinterest page and follow us for all kinds of great tips for country living! This is a super simple idea that can be customized based on what you like or have on hand.

I made a quick casserole the other night, and threw 5 baking potatoes in the oven at the same time, specifically for breakfast the next day. If you make baked potatoes with your steaks, this is a great way to use up leftovers! Here's how:

1 baked potato per person
1 egg per person
Shredded cheese (I used Cheddar)
Cooked crumbled bacon, sausage, ham, Canadian bacon, or meat of your choice (I used leftover sausage links and chopped them up)
Green onions, bell peppers, spinach, or veggies of your choice, diced
Butter, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice the very top off of the baked potatoes, and hollow them out with a spoon, leaving enough potato to hold the shell together, at least 1/4 inch. Save the scooped out potatoes for another meal! Brush the inside of the potato with melted butter if you'd like. (I didn't do this, but it certainly couldn't hurt!)

Sprinkle a little cheese into the bottom of each potato shell. Add cooked meat and diced veggies. Each person can choose the toppings he or she likes, for a custom breakfast!

Crack an egg into each potato shell. Top with salt and pepper.

Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F. for about 20 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs done. I cooked ours until the yolk was still a little soft, but the whites were completely set. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's runny egg whites! Some people like that though, so just cook them until they look good to you!

The kids loved this breakfast, and came up with the name "Idaho omelettes" because it really is like an omelette in a potato. They just picked them up and ate them with their hands, which made for a quick and easy breakfast for a busy school day. From now on, whenever I'm making baked potatoes, I'll throw 5 extras in the oven so we can have these the next morning!


January 23, 2013

Apple bars

Buying apples by the bag or bushel can mean a good deal at the market, but then what do you do with all those apples? After we each eat a few, we're ready for something different. Making these bars is a great way to use those apples! My mom made these the other night for our Cub Scout Pack's Pinewood Derby, and they were a huge hit. These bars are moist and tasty, and you'll love them!


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/2 cups diced apple
1-1/2 cups walnuts, finely chopped
Powdered sugar for top of bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large cookie sheet with sides or a jellyroll pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the beaten egg and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the apples and walnuts. Mixture will be very stiff. Spread into prepared pan using a buttered silicone spatula.

Bake 20 - 25 minutes , until the bars are golden brown and spring back when lightly touched. Sift powdered sugar over top of bars after removing from oven. Let bars cool in the pan. Cut in squares. Makes 48 bars.

January 14, 2013


My boys love pancakes, and they love muffins, and they love it when they get to add their own toppings to things. That makes these tasty little breakfasts just perfect! They're part pancake, part muffin, so my boys decided to call them "puffins" ... although they also considered naming them pupcakes, since they could be considered part pancake and part cupcake. They like puffins though, so puffins it is!

This couldn't be easier, and it's quick enough that I can actually make it before school on a busy morning, giving my boys a hot breakfast they love before they head out into the cold to wait for the bus. And since the puffins have maple syrup in them, you don't need to put syrup on them, so they'd also be great to take for an on-the-go breakfast.


1 cup baking mix or pancake mix
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all ingredients. Spoon batter into 12 muffin tin cups treated with non-stick spray or lined with cupcake papers. This may not look like much batter in each cup, but they will rise quite a bit. (Or, rather, the puffins will PUFF up quite a bit!)

Top puffins with the ingredients of your choice. Absolutely any fruit will do. We used pomegranate arils, blueberries, and chocolate chips. You could use cooked, chopped up bacon or sausage, too! Let the kids top their own puffins! This is a great way to use up those leftover few pieces of bacon or sausage (unless you're at my house, where there's no such thing as leftover bacon or sausage). The photo above was taken just after we added our toppings, before baking the puffins.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, until puffins are puffed, and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Enjoy!

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January 10, 2013

Tasty little tassies

My mom recently made a big platter of tassies for a family get-together, and they were such a hit, I knew I had to blog them! She made four different flavors: chocolate fudge in a peanut butter cookie shell; and pecan, lemon, and raspberry in pie crust shells.

She has a small tassie-tamping-tool, and was nice enough to get me one, too. It's the perfect size for mini muffin pans. Just put in a piece of dough, press with the tamper, and you get perfectly shaped mini pie shells! These little treats would be perfect for tea parties, birthdays, potlucks, and, of course, school lunches!

Peanut butter-chocolate tassies

1/2 roll refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough (or you could use my peanut butter cookie recipe)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a mini muffin or mini tart pan with non-stick spray. Place a rounded tablespoon of dough into each cup. Bake for 9 minutes until the edges are lightly browned and the dough is slightly firm, but not set.

Remove from oven. Using a tassie tamper or the back of a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, gently press a shallow indentation into each tart shell.

Bake 2 minutes longer, or until edges of tart shells are firm and light brown. Let cool in cups on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Carefully remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

For the filling, combine the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a small saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until the chocolate is melted. Spoon into the cookie shells and cool, allowing to set. Makes 24.

Pecan pie tassies


6 oz. cream cheese
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour


1/8 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease or spray 30 mini tart tins or muffin cups.

To make crust, in a medium bowl, cream together cream cheese and 1 cup butter until light and fluffy. Blend in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, forming a smooth dough. Roll into 30 balls and press into each tart or muffin cup so it lines the bottom and sides like a pie crust.

For the filling, cream together 1/4 cup butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla until thoroughly blended. Stir in pecan. Fill each pie crust half full. It will rise as it bakes.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool in tins, then use the end of a table or paring knife to flip each tart out of its tin.

Lemon and raspberry tassies

2 cups flour
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. oil
6 Tbsp. ice water
Jar of lemon curd and/or seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.For dough, mix flour, oil, and ice water until flour is no longer dry in the bowl. (This is enough dough for a double pie crust.)

Roll dough into rounded tablespoon-sized balls and place in mini muffin or tart pan cups. Press to cover the bottom and sides. You'll want it to be fairly thin, because the dough does puff up a bit.

Fill crusts with prepared lemon curd or raspberry jam. You could use any flavor of jam, really! Bake for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool in tins, and remove with a knife.

January 4, 2013

Bacon pancakes

My parents got me a new electric griddle for Christmas, and I couldn't wait to use it! I can fry an entire pound of bacon on it at once, which is revolutionary for me. And since my kids devour pancakes like they're going out of style, it is great to be able to make a whole stack at once, rather than only 3 or 4 at a time.

I saw this idea for bacon pancakes on Pinterest (follow Living the Country Life!) and knew I had to make it. Basically you just cook your bacon, then pour pancake batter over it and cook the cakes. Why didn't I think of that?!? The pin I saw showed entire strips of bacon, but I cut mine in half so they would basically be finger food for the kids. They like dipping their cakes in maple syrup.

I used my standard recipe for buttermilk pancakes, but you can use whatever recipe you like, or even use a mix! My kids went nuts for these, and will be demanding them on a regular basis from now on. As one of my boys said, "It's like the pancake is giving the bacon a hug."

January 2, 2013

Italian tortellini soup

We spent Christmas day at my parents' house, and enjoyed a relaxed, all-day buffet rather than a sit-down meal. We had bunches of cookies and candies, cheese and crackers, relish trays, and salads. It was all good. And in lieu of a turkey or ham, we had a pot of my dad's chili, and a pot of Italian tortellini soup that my mom made. Thankfully it made way more than she thought it would (she doubled this recipe), because that meant we got to take the leftovers home!

1 lb. Italian sausage
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups beef broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dry red wine
8 ounces fresh tortellini pasta
1 cup sliced carrots
2 cups stewed tomatoes
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups sliced zucchini
2 green bell peppers, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese

Remove sausage from casings, if needed. Cook sausage, drain, and reserve 1 Tbsp. drippings.

In a large pot, sautee onion and garlic in the drippings until tender. Add broth, water, wine, carrots, tomatoes, basil, oregano, tomato sauce, and the sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Add vegetables, parsley, and tortellini. Simmer another 25 minutes, covered. (If you are using frozen tortellini, simmer 45 minutes.) Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

January 2, 2013

Candy eggs and bacon

This is one of the hundreds of good ideas I have found on Pinterest! I am in love with the idea pinboard site, and use it for all areas of my life! You can follow Living the Country Life on Pinterest for even more great ideas!

My middle son, Luke, wanted to bring treats to his Christmas party at school, and thought these would be fun. I melted some vanilla almond bark in a double-boiler, and spread parchment paper out on the counter. When it was melted and creamy, I dolloped it onto the paper with a spoon, making circles that were about an inch and a half across. Then Luke put a yellow candy-coated chocolate (our grocery store has a dispenser where you can get one specific color!) in the middle of each. Then we took skinny pretzel rods, broke them in half, and pressed them into the chocolate to make "bacon." Once the candies were hard,we just popped them off the paper and into a resealable plastic bag.

These candies were so fun and easy to make, and they tasted good, too! A nice mix of sweet and salty. Unfortunately, Luke's school party was cancelled because of a snow day. Fortunately, that meant we got to eat the bacon and eggs!

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January 2, 2013

Slow cooker cran-apple pork loin

Pork and apples go together like ...well ... pork and cranberries.This super easy, delicious dish blends all these flavors together beautifully, and it's made in the slow cooker, so that's a bonus! I put this together the other morning, headed to town for the day, and when I got home, the house smelled amazing! The pork was so juicy and tender, and tasted great! 

Lately, our grocery store has been having some super sales on pork loins. I have the butcher cut the loins in half, and I use one right away and freeze the other. I could feed my family of five with one-third of the loin, but we like leftovers, so I use half. Plus, this is the perfect size for my oblong slow cookers.

This dish is so easy that it really doesn't even have a recipe. First, spray the inside of your crock with non-stick spray, or insert a disposable liner. Slice a couple of apples, and place a layer of slices on the bottom of the slow cooker. Sprinkle with apple pie seasoning. Place the pork loin on top of the apples.Slice "pockets" into the meat every inch and a half or so, and slip an apple slice into each pocket. Surround the meat with more apple slices. Open a can of whole cranberries in sauce, stir a little to break up the gel, and pour over the roast. Sprinkle with more apple pie spice.

That's it! A 3- to 4-pound pork loin will take about 6 hours on low, or 5 hours on high. Test for doneness with a meat thermometer. Slice and enjoy! 

January 2, 2013

Slow cooker breakfast casserole

Happy New Year! Just after midnight on the big night, when my boys were still running around the house blowing their noisemakers, I started frying bacon. Is there a better way to start the new year? We were planning on a lazy New Year's Day at home, and I wanted a hot breakfast for everyone without the work. Enter the slow cooker! I have been meaning to try this recipe for a while, and this was the perfect time.

We finally went to bed around 1:00, and when we woke up some 8 hours later, it was to the smell of breakfast cooking downstairs. Yes! The casserole turned out great, and I will definitely be making it over and over again. It's great for lazy holidays or weekends, but would be very welcome on busy school-day mornings as well. Much better than toast and cereal on a rushed morning! Customize this dish by adding chopped vegetables, your favorite herbs (dill would be good!), and whatever kind of cheese you like best. The sky's the limit!

Slow cooker breakfast casserole

1/2 pound bacon, cooked and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1- to 2-lb. package frozen hash browns or potatoes O'Brien with onions and peppers
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used Cheddar)
12 eggs
1 cup milk
Salt, pepper, and herbs to taste

Spray the inside of your slow cooker with non-stick spray, or insert a disposable liner. Spread frozen potatoes across the bottom. Top with cooked bacon pieces. Sprinkle cheese on top.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper, and any herbs you like. Pour over the ingredients in the slow cooker.

Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 160º F. Enjoy!

December 9, 2012

Red velvet whoopie pies

Whoopie pies are all the rage right now. You can even buy special whoopie pie pans, which you don't need, and little appliances that only bake whoopie pies. Yes, whoopie pies are good, but I wasn't moved to make any myself until I saw this recipe for red velvet whoopie pies from our sister publication, Better Homes and Gardens. First of all, you know anything made by the pros in the BHG Test Kitchen is going to be amazing. And second, I can NOT turn down red velvet.

I made these today, and they turned out DELICIOUS! I was planning on taking them to work with me tomorrow, but after filling them, I realized it would have been a good idea to just take the cookies and the cream filling with me, and fill them there and arrange on a tray. If you are taking these anywhere to share, that's what I recommend you do. Otherwise, the cream filling kind of gets all over the place. 

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Yield: 60 one-inch or 42 two-inch cookies
 Prep: 45 mins. • Bake: 375° F. for 7 mins. to 11 mins.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1-ounce bottle red food coloring (2 Tbsp.)
1 recipe Whoopie Pie Filling (see recipe below)

1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line baking sheets with parchment; set aside. In medium bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. In large mixing bowl beat butter on medium to high 30 seconds. Beat in brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beating after each addition just until combined. Stir in food coloring.

3. Spoon batter in 1- or 2-inch diameter rounds, about 1/2-inch high on prepared baking sheets, allowing 1 inch between each round.

4. Bake 7 to 9 minutes for 1-inch cookies or 9 to 11 minutes for 2-inch cookies, or until tops are set. Cool completely on baking sheets on rack. Remove cooled cookies from baking sheets.

5. To fill, dollop Whoopie Pie Filling on flat sides of half the cookies. Top with remaining cookies, flat sides down. Makes 60 one-inch or 42 two-inch cookies.

To store: Refrigerate in airtight container up to 4 days. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.

Whoopie Pie Filling:

In a medium bowl, beat 1/4 cup softened butter and 4 ounces softened cream cheese until smooth. Fold in a 7-ounce jar of marshmallow creme.