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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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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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May 9, 2011

All-in-one breakfast biscuits

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This year for Mother’s Day, we decided to have a little brunch at my parents’ house. My husband (a former bartender) made Mimosas, I whipped up a quick batch of cinnamon roll bread pudding, and we tried something new. I love eggs, but didn’t want to stand around making them for 10 people, especially on Mother’s Day. This was a really good solution!

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Jayson fried up a pound of bacon, cut in half, until it was about half done. Next, I opened two tubes of extra large refrigerated buttermilk biscuits. I separated 6 biscuits in half by just pulling the layers apart horizontally. Each half was pressed into the bottom and up the sides of a non-stick muffin tin. We put a few slices of bacon into each biscuit-lined compartment, then simply cracked an egg on top. (You could also beat the eggs, but I thought they’d look pretty with the sunny yolks on top.

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We baked the bacon-and-egg-filled biscuits at 350 degrees F. for 35 minutes. If you like your yolks runny, start testing around 28 minutes and remove from oven when the whites are set. I wanted the yolks to be firm, so 35 minutes was about right.

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These were so yummy, and perfect for our little brunch buffet! They’d be perfect to take to a church breakfast or to make for Mom’s group. The best part, though, was the leftovers. We only had a few left, but they were delicious right out of the fridge. Like a bacon-wrapped hard-boiled egg in a biscuit. I’m going to make these again soon, so the boys will have quick and easy leftovers for those rushed school-day mornings, or a protein-packed snack before baseball practice.

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May 9, 2011

Blackberry cream cheese pie

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I have been busy editing a pie cookbook (stay tuned!!), and seeing photos of all of those scrumptious pies has been driving me crazy! Last week, I made pie for dessert two nights in a row. Tuesday, I made my husband’s favorite, double cherry pie. Wednesday, I got creative and made up this recipe. I was so happy with the results, and my family went nuts for it. In fact, it was so good I’m planning on making it again tomorrow night! Give it a try and it will become part of your regular rotation, too. If fresh berries are available, by all means, use them! You may need to add a little water or juice to the sauce. And you could certainly use raspberries, blueberries, or even cherries in this recipe. We thought it would also make a good bar.

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Prepared pie crust (prepare and bake at 400 degrees F. for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden, or use refrigerated crust and bake as directed)

2 8-oz. cartons cream cheese, softened (I used reduced fat)

16 oz. bag frozen blackberries (or 3 cups), thawed

6 Tbsp. sugar

3 Tbsp. corn starch

3 Tbsp. powdered sugar

1/2 cup whipped cream

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Prepare your pie crust, bake, and cool. Reserve about 1/2 cup of blackberries and 3 Tbsp. of their juice.

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Pour the rest of the thawed berries and juice into a medium saucepan. Add sugar and corn starch. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the berries break down some and the sauce thickens. Cool.

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Meanwhile, beat together the cream cheese, reserved juice, powdered sugar, and whipped cream until fluffy.

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Scatter the reserved berries in the bottom of the cooled pie crust. Spoon the cream cheese mixture on top of them, using a spatula to smooth it out. Pour the blackberry sauce in the center of the pie and smooth out toward the edges. Refrigerate the pie for a couple of hours or until thoroughly chilled before serving. Enjoy!

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May 2, 2011

Blackberry scones with Devonshire cream


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The Royal Wedding has come and gone, and my mom and I sure enjoyed the day. I went to her house and we watched it on DVR, and enjoyed British-style snacks throughout the day. For breakfast, she made two kinds of scones, using the same dough. She patted fresh blackberries into one half, and pomegranate-flavored dried cranberries into the other half. We enjoyed store-bought lemon curd on them, along with homemade Devonshire cream. The scones would have been delicious by themselves, but when topped with the lemon curd and scrumptious Devonshire cream, they were … well … fit for a Queen!

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For lunch, we had cucumber sandwiches: Rye bread spread with spinach-and-artichoke-flavored cream cheese, stuffed with baby spinach, cucumber slices, and sliced radishes. They were so delicious! And, of course, we drank tea. Lots and lots of tea!

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Blackberry (or choose your own fruit) scones

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2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
1 cup fresh or 1/2 cup dried fruit
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg

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Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture and use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal). Stir in fruit.

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Whisk the sour cream and egg until well combined.

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Using a fork, stir the sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Shape the dough into a ball. Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Place dough on a cookie sheet that has been greased or lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with additional sugar. Score the dough into slices like a pizza, but don’t cut all the way through.

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Bake at 400 degrees F. for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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Devonshire cream

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3 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 Tbsp. sugar

Pinch salt

1 cup heavy whipping cream

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Cream the cream cheese, sugar, and salt. Add the cream and beat until stiff peaks form. Chill.

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April 21, 2011

Corn dog casserole

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who think corn dog casserole sounds like the grossest thing they’ve ever heard of, and those who demand the recipe and plan to make it that very night. I fall into the latter category. I have three sons, so of course hot dogs and corn dogs are part of my life. .

The other day, a friend from high school, Mike Welshhons, posted this as his Facebook status: “Just got done cooking up some corn dog casserole. Yummy!” Within no time, he had more than 20 responses from people asking for the recipe. He was nice enough to share it, and also posted a photo, which generated even more comments from friends who couldn’t wait to give it a try.  Here’s Mike’s recipe:.

2 cups celery, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 lbs. hot dogs, cut into bite-sized slices
2 boxes corn muffin or cornbread mix
1/4 tsp. ground sage
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups shredded cheese, divided (I used Colby Jack; Mike recommends Cheddar)

Saute the celery and onions in the butter for about 5 minutes. Add the hot dogs and saute 5 minutes more. 

In a large bowl, combine the cornbread mix, sage, and pepper. Stir in the eggs and milk until the batter is combined. Stir in 2 cups of the cheese, then add all but 1 cup of the hot dog mixture, and stir to combine.

Pour the mixture into a greased 3-quart baking dish and top with the remaining cheese and the reserved hot dog mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown and set in the center.

UPDATE: I made this again in the slow cooker and it turned out great! Grease your crock well or use a liner. Pour the mixture into the crock and top with the remaining cheese and hot dog mixture. Then cook on high for 3 to 4 hours, until cooked through. Fantastic!

Note: If you prefer to make your cornbread from scratch, omit the mix and use 1 1/3 cups flour, 1 cup cornmeal, 6 Tbsp. sugar, and 2 tsp. baking powder. 

This dish got 10 enthusiastic thumbs up from the Prater family. The kids were SO excited to be eating a casserole that actually tasted like corn dogs! We topped it with a little mustard and ketchup, and it was delicious. The leftovers were great for lunch, warmed up in the microwave. Making this casserole would be a great way to use up leftover hot dogs, too.

Mike said it best when he described his recipe: “It’s just like going to the fair, but you don’t have  to spend 50 bucks to get in.” Thanks for the recipe, Mike! It’s definitely going into the regular rotation at the Prater State Fair!

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April 19, 2011

Peanut butter hot fudge sauce

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My kids have been asking for ice cream a lot lately, so I picked up a carton of vanilla at the store the other day. Last night, we decided to have some for dessert. I purposely didn’t buy chocolate sauce at the store, because I know they’d go crazy with it and want chocolate milk all the time. We made our own sauce, which was fun, and it turned out to be really tasty!

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This sauce started out as just a peanut butter sauce, but at the last minute we decided to add some cocoa and make it chocolatey. You can just never go wrong with chocolate and ice cream. The result was a yummy combination of chocolate and peanut butter that reminded us of one of our favorite cup-shaped candy bars. Here’s how we did it:

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1 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 Tbsp. butter or margarine, softened

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 Tbsp. unsweetened baking cocoa

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Combine the sugar, milk, corn syrup and butter in a saucepan, and cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring the whole time. Remove from heat and add the peanut butter, stirring well until combined. If you just want peanut butter sauce, stop right here. If you want to turn it into a chocolate-peanut butter treat, add the cocoa and stir well. Serve warm over ice cream. Refrigerate leftovers in a sealed container and microwave to warm.

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Give this sauce a try … we had a good time making our own sauce, and although it’s not exactly a healthy food, it’s rich, so a little goes a long way. Enjoy!

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