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

Follow Lisa's Kitchen on Twitter!

May 28, 2011

The best fish sandwich ever


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.


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! 


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!


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! 


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

  • Tags:
May 18, 2011

Banana crunch muffins


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!


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


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. 


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.


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


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

  • Tags:
May 9, 2011

All-in-one breakfast biscuits


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!


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.


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.


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.

  • Tags:
May 9, 2011

Blackberry cream cheese pie


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.


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


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


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.


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


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!

  • Tags:
May 2, 2011

Blackberry scones with Devonshire cream


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!


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!


Blackberry (or choose your own fruit) scones


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


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.

Whisk the sour cream and egg until well combined.

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.


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


Devonshire cream


3 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 Tbsp. sugar

Pinch salt

1 cup heavy whipping cream


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

  • Tags:
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!

  • Tags:
April 19, 2011

Peanut butter hot fudge sauce



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!


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:


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


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.


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!

  • Tags:
April 9, 2011

Hot fudge lava cake


One of my favorite desserts to order at a restaurant is lava cake … chocolate cake with a core of molten hot fudge. So rich and delicious! This kind of concoction seems like it would be really difficult to make at home, but it isn’t! Once again, the slow cooker proves it’s worth its weight in gold.


Here’s the recipe for a 2 1/2- to 3-quart slow cooker. I usually double it and pull out one of my big crocks, because the leftovers are so good! When this dessert is finished, the baked cake will have risen to the top of the slow cooker, and the bubbly hot fudge sauce will be underneath.


1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. baking cocoa

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup milk

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup baking cocoa

1 1/2 cups hot water


Spray the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray. Mix flour, sugar, 2 Tbsp. cocoa, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in milk, oil and vanilla; mix until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread batter evenly in slow cooker.


In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa until combined. Stir in hot water until smooth. Pour evenly over the batter in the slow cooker.


Cover and cook on high heat setting for 2  to 2 1/2 hours, or until tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Turn off the slow cooker and let stand uncovered 15-30 minutes to cool slightly and let the sauce thicken. Spoon warm cake into dessert dishes and top with the sauce. Serve with vanilla ice cream.


Since this cake bakes in a slow cooker, it’s perfect for busy times of the year. I can throw the ingredients together before we leave for an evening of baseball practice, and we have a tasty, warm dessert waiting when we get home! Everyone in my family loves this cake, including Will, pictured here. It gets a little messy, but it’s totally worth it!

  • Tags:
March 30, 2011

Veggie quiche


Is there a better breakfast than quiche? You can add whatever vegetables or breakfast meats you have on hand, and you get a delicious, cheesy egg pie. You can’t go wrong!


This is the basic quiche recipe I like best. This time, I included spinach, asparagus, and mini heirloom tomatoes. The spinach went into the dish and the asparagus and tomatoes decorated the top. This quiche definitely has springtime written all over it!


Single pie crust (Use refrigerated crust or try my pie crust recipe)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup milk

4 eggs, lightly beaten

8 oz. shredded cheese (I used my standard Colby Jack)

10 oz. fresh or frozen spinach (thaw completely and squeeze out the liquid), chopped

1/4 cup chopped onion

Other assorted vegetables or cooked breakfast meats of your choice, chopped)


Whisk mayonnaise and milk together. Whisk in the eggs. Place a layer of spinach on the bottom of the pie shell. Top with a layer of shredded cheese. Add meat or other vegetables. Repeat layers. Pour egg mixture over the top. I added asparagus spears in a clock-face-type design, with mini heirloom tomatoes sliced in half and placed cut side down between the spears.


quicheslicePlace pie pan on a cookie sheet and cover the quiche with foil. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15-20 minutes, or until the middle of the quiche is set.


With this basic quiche recipe, you can create countless different combinations. How about bacon, onion and Cheddar with chives on top? Or ham with Swiss. Canadian bacon and pineapple with mozzarella sounds good, too … like my favorite pizza in quiche form! Use what’s fresh, what you have on hand, what’s on sale … whatever you like! Enjoy!

  • Tags:
March 27, 2011

Greek lemon chicken and potatoes



This is a recipe I’ve made for years, and it’s so refreshing and healthy. Serve it with whatever green vegetable looks good at the market or in your garden. I am obsessed with asparagus, so it has been my side dish of choice lately, just lightly sauteed in a skillet.


3 lemons (or 1/2 cup lemon juice)

1/2 cup fat-free chicken broth

2 Tbsp. olive oil

4 medium garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp. fresh oregano

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1 1/2 pounds uncooked new potatoes, cut in half 

1 small onion, cut into wedges (optional)


Juice 2 1/2 lemons and place juice and juiced lemon halves into a large resealable plastic bag or glass bowl. Slice the remaining half lemon into thin slices and add to the bag or bowl. Add broth, oil, garlic, oregano, and chicken. Seal bag or cover bowl, and marinate at least 2 hours or up to overnight in refrigerator.


Coat a large baking dish (10″ x 15″ or so) with non-stick cooking spray. A larger pan will allow the sauce to cook down better.


Place chicken and marinade in pan, including lemon halves. Top each thigh with a slice of lemon. Add potatoes. This time, I used two pounds of mini gold potatoes I found at the market. They were about the size of marbles and didn’t need peeled or halved. Just wash and add!


Bake at 350 degrees F. for 60 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes, until chicken is done and potatoes tender.

  • Tags: