For Leontien…

On the day she would have turned 34, her family laid her to rest.       The van de Laar FamilyIt still doesn’t seem real. It doesn’t seem right to see her family without Leontien too.

Leontien in 2010And all the showering of love was evident throughout the room in the forms of flowers, pictures, cards, blankets and other gifts as we, those crazy American gals in Indiana, gave our condolences to Baastian and Maria and Wim and Jan Willem and Meagan and Henneke.

Farm gals with the Pioneer WomanAnd we were so confusing for her sometimes. Can you believe we drug her to IKEA? Leontien just couldn’t understand why were so excited to go to this store. But for her, IKEA was like going to WalMart. Well, maybe not WalMart, but you get my point.

Dragging a Dutch girl to IKEABut, I think she might have found comfort in just being with other women who were her age. It was good to leave the girls with the boys every now and then after all.

Wim and Leontien with the girlsAnd today, to honor her. To celebrate with her. To share a little piece of her. We shared random acts of kindness.

For me, it was buying a random polar pop at the gas station for the person behind me.

For me, it was giving some time to a brand new ag teacher who is just trying to find her way through the muddiness of getting what you need from your school board to do your job.

For me, it was making cookies with my little girl who has been begging to make them for days.

For me, it was giving the tip of getting a good accountant, lawyer and financial investor to a young farmer as he dropped by crop insurance papers for signatures.

For me, it was knowing that she will ever be a part of my heart. My outlook on life is forever changed because of her spirit, passion, and generosity.

Leontien and Me

See you on the other side, Sweetie!

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” John 14:1 – 4

To read about Leontien’s life, visit her blog, Four Leaf Clover Tales.

My food tribute to Leontien

I know a lot of you have followed along with Leontien’s blog. I guess a day doesn’t go by that quite a few of us farmwives and friends pause to pray for her. Think of her. Text her. Smile about the gift she has been to us. I know sometimes we have all felt helpless on how to help ease her pain, both physical and emotional.


But, as I moved a few weeks ago, a friend was helping me pack up food in my pantry. She came across a box of dark chocolate sprinkles. Seems pretty simple. But they froze me in place. I felt a lump develop in the back of my throat. Sort of like the one I have right now. It was a box of the sprinkles from that February day we drug Ms. Leontien with us to meet The Pioneer Woman. We also took her to Jungle Jim’s. And there she found her sprinkles. And ketchup. And cookies. All from home. All from The Netherlands.

There is something about food that triggers comfort. Whether it is a smell or a taste, it is crazy how food can take us back to days when we were young. And that day, as Leontien picked up a bottle of her favorite ketchup, which is actually German, we all saw that memory on her face. It was as if she was back home again.
As we all continued to walk up and down the aisles of Jungle Jim’s, she pointed out other foods she loved. Then she nonchalantly walked by what seemed like thousands of bars of chocolate and pointed to the top row where two types of chocolate sat. She looked at us and said, “This is the best chocolate.” It was as if she had let the hounds out to go hunting. We attacked that chocolate. It was as if she was the global chocolate czar. We were her minions. I am sure the checkout workers thought we were crazy.
Now, when someone makes a trip to Jungle Jim’s, I beg them to pick up a few bars for me. I smile as I savor the chocolate. I smile not because the chocolate truly is the best I have had, but I smile because God blessed us by letting us have Leontien for a while on earth.

Bastiaan and Leontien

Girl, you are such a blessing. You have given so much more than we have been able to give to you. We cherish what we have learned from you. We bask in the rays of your light you give this world. We are all better people because of you. Love you, Sweetie.


Hunk of Meat Monday: Baked Cheesy Beef Spaghetti

So this friend of mine (we are friends in my mind) has this pretty amazing baked chicken spaghetti recipe. I decided to see if I could adjust it a bit to make it with ground beef instead of chicken this past week. And it was a successful new dish for ground beef.

Baked cheesy beef spaghetti

This dish becomes perfect for a weeknight meal if you have some ground beef that has already been browned to pull out of the freezer.

frozen crock pot browned beefStart by getting water going to cook a pound of spaghetti. I used cut spaghetti. If you use regular noodles, break them into three or four parts. While the spaghetti is cooking, finely dice one onion and one bell pepper.

diced onions and peppersOnce the spaghetti noodles are cooked, drain and begin mixing the rest of the ingredients in the pan you cooked the spaghetti.

cooked spaghetti noodlesMix the diced veggies, two cans of cream of mushroom soup and one can of cream of cheese soup, and 1 cup of shredded colby jack cheese along with the one pound of browned hamburger together.

soup, cheese and veggiesSeason with one teaspoon of seasoning salt and pepper to taste. Then stir in spaghetti and pour into a large casserole dish or 13 X 9 pan.

mixed beef spaghetti casseroleCover with an additional cup of shredded colby jack cheese.

Cheese covered beef spaghettiBake for 30-35 minutes on 350 degrees until the casserole is bubbly.

Baked Beefy Spaghetti CasseroleNext time I make it, I am going to split it in half and freeze one casserole for later. This made enough food for us for at least two meals if not three meals.

Beefy White Spaghetti
  • 1 lb browned hamburger
  • 1 pound of dry Spaghetti, into thirds
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can of cream of cheese soup
  • 1 cup grated colby jack or cheddar cheese
  • 1 finely diced bell pepper
  • 1 finely diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup additional grated colby jack or cheddar cheese
  1. Cook spaghetti according to directions, drain and set aside. Mix beef, soups, 1 cup of cheese, and veggies together. Stir in seasonings and spaghetti noodles. Pour into large casserole dish or separate into two smaller casserole dishes to freeze one casserole for the future. Cover with the additional 1 cup of cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes on 350 degrees.

What do you have cooking this week? Link on up to Hunk of Meat Monday!

Hunk of Meat Monday: Philly Cheese Steak Pizza

If any of you have a love for the cheesy goodness of Philly Cheesesteaks, you are not going to be able to resist this pizza. Yum!

Of course you can make this with left over Italian Beef. I should just have a cookbook devoted to all you can do with the base of Italian Beef.
I had made the PW’s pizza crust for a pizza earlier in the week when I was going to be at a meeting. I figured the hubby could put together a pizza if I had all the ingredients. So, I needed to use the other half of the dough. I also had some leftover Italian Beef, so I figured I could make some kind of pizza. But, if you have a tube of store bought, feel free to use that too!

To get started, I caramelized onions, green peppers and mushrooms. For a quick catch up on how to do that, go here.

To start getting the pizza ready, I start by putting some EVOO and garlic powder down on a round pizza stone. I then use a paper towel to spread it out over the stone.
Then I spread the dough over top and put slices of provolone on top of the dough. I used no tomatoe based sauce.
Since the Italian Beef had been in the fridge, I warmed it up a little in the microwave and then drained all the extra broth and juice off the meat. I had about 1.5 cups of meat. I sprinkled that over top of the cheese.
By this point, my caramlized veggies were ready. I then layered all of them over top of the meat.
Then I shredded 8 ounces of pepperjack cheese and covered the pizza.
I baked the pizza on 475 degrees for about 12-15 minutes. You want the dough to be done and the cheese to brown.

It was amazing. I am to the point that I am making Italian Beef to have all the yummy things I make from the leftovers. If you are more of chicken person, be sure to check out the strawberry balsamic chicken pizza that Mamie at Home Grown Beanes from last week’s Hunk of Meat Linky Party.

What are you making this week? Can’t wait to get some inspiration. Did you see
Hunk of Meat Mondays

Hunk of Meat Monday: Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

A few weeks ago I made some lemon basil chicken. I made quite a bit since I was making it for a group of people to come over. Since I had the chicken grilled up I made up the PW’s grilled chicken with lemon basil pasta for the kids. Since the hubby was out of town no one would complain about having chicken. But, then I had a whole bunch of pasta leftover and still piles of chicken.

I had to plot how to convince eating chicken for supper would be ok. After a quick once over of the meat and cheese drawer I figured out a little Swiss cheese and some ham might be the trick. So, I bring you chicken cordon bleu casserole with a lemony twist.

I must admit, after seeing the chicken cordon bleu lasagna from My Kitchen Apron, I think I will trying her recipe as well. It looks awesome!

For my casserole, I started by cutting up about 2 cups worth of the leftover lemon

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basil chicken and shredding about a cups worth of Swiss cheese.

I then pulled out the leftover lemon basil pasta. There was most of the pasta left. I would recommend making at least 12 ounces of pasta if not a whole pound for a 13 x 9 pan or two 8 x 8 pans. I used a rigatoni past but use whatever shape you have on hand. Cook the pasta to al dente if you are not using leftovers like I did. Add the cheese and 1 cup of milk to the pasta and combine.

For extra creaminess I added a can of cream of chicken soup and then added the cut up chicken and a cup of cubed ham.

Pour into a 13 x 9 pan.

Since mine had a lemon base to the chicken and pasta, I sprinkled the top of the pasta with lemon pepper.

I melted 2 tablespoons of butter and mixed in 1 cup of breadcrumbs. I poured over top of the casserole.

Bake on 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes until bubbly.

The casserole was fantastic. The kids loved it and the hubby even ate leftovers:) Double win!

What do you have cooking this week. Link on up. No rules except show me the meat. Enjoy getting new ideas for you too!

Linked to:
Melt in your mouth Monday
Tasty Tuesday

Hunk of Meat Mondays

Just add more butter…advice from the PW!

You know, I have a lot of women that I admire in my life. I have had strong women who have mentored me. Advised me. Cried with me. Drank with me. Got in trouble with me. OK, you get it. But, this whole blogging thing is really one woman’s fault. The PW’s.

Almost a year and a half ago, the Pioneer Woman, was a stranger. And then I got this wild itch to make cinnamon rolls. So, I did what every good cook does. Googled a recipe. And I landed on her page.

As I was drooling over her cinnamon rolls, I glance over to the right side of the page and saw a box that stated, “5 things to know on a ranch.” Number 1: Prolapse. For all you folks who don’t know what a uterine prolapse is on a ranch, you may not want to click through. For those that do, you know how shocked I was to see a link to that next her cinnamon rolls. And that there was over 500 comments on the prolapse post really blew my mind. It struck me how powerful of a voice women could have by just blogging about the everyday things that happen to them. Many things like non-farm women, many not anything like that of our peers off the farm.

From that day on, I knew that farm women everywhere could have show the world through our own eyes just how we grow the food. And the birth of Beyer Beware and a whole love of other Farm Wives and Friends.

Photo courtesy of Goodeness Gracious

Cris and I spent hours in my office reflecting on how we could get other women to have the voice that the PW has today. Hours on the phone at night. Hours emailing. Hours blogging. This woman has changed our lives. At least our blogging lives.

Well, this weekend, I got to be star struck with my mentor, blogger inspiration, farm sister.

She kept joking about how she was so nervous she was sweating. I was thinking, you aren’t the only one!! I actually got called on for a question. If you want to hear me fall over myself you can go here.

She gave lots of advice. Three that stuck with me were:

  1. Just blog. Blog about whatever is going on. Don’t have a schedule. Just talk about what you want.
  2. For recipes, use your mommas. And just add more butter!
  3. Remember you just see what I get done. Amen sister, I needed to hear that.
So, then we waited…

Caught up on our organic cannabis gardening techniques while we waited.

Finally got called to stand in line. Almost there!!

And then we could almost touch her.

And then we gathered around.  We giggled about our little t-shirts we wanted to wear. We embarrassed our Dutch friend, Leontien. We then got serious.

Photo courtesy of Gal in the Middle
We thanked Ree for giving us a voice. To showing us that we can just be us. For making farmers cool. Sexy. Funny. Dirty. Trustworthy.
While many on farms down play what Ree does for agriculture on her little blog, I am completely thankful. She has over 10 million visitors a month who get to see how a large working ranch looks. Sure she doesn’t talk about her farm on every blog, but who really wants to read about the day in and day out of a farm except farmers and those obsessed with farms. Plus, farmers have lives besides farming. We eat. We have children. We watch football. We shop. We travel. Hmmm, so do all the other people who don’t have farms to talk about. 
So, Ree, tonight, I added a couple tablespoons of extra butter to my recipe just for you!
Thanks Sister!

Crock Pot Beef and Noodles

Last week when I was out working at Dig IN, I got drawn in by the Indiana Artisan next to our booth selling homemade noodles. Well, I couldn’t just let these noodles just sit there in my pantry.

So, I went and got a few roasts out of the freezer to throw in the crock pot. I figured if I am going to be roasting some beef for some crock pot beef and noodles, I might as well roast a few.

frozen beef in slow cooker

The bad thing about frozen meat, you can cram it as well as you can into a 6 quart crockpot. Here you will see an arm roast and a rump roast.

If you are going to be slow cooking, you need a liquid. I like slow cooking in alcohol. For this savory dish I grabbed a beer. A light beer is not my first choice, but since it was Sunday (you can’t buy beer on Sunday in Indiana) and light beer is what I had, a Bud Light was what I used. Pour the whole bottle over the meat.

Lipton's onion soup mix

I tossed two envelopes of onion soup on top of the meat.  I threw in a few garlic cloves for good measure. I mean, really can you cook without adding a few cloves of garlic.  Give ‘em a good whack with the knife.

garlic cloves
Pop the peels off and do a rough chop. Toss on into the crock.
beef in crock pot

Make sure you get some of the goodness down in the beer. For these rock solid, frozen roasts, I put the crock on low all night and go to bed.

cooked beef roast in crock pot

When I got up in the morning, I pulled the rump roast out to make barbecued beef later in the week. I then picked out the large pieces of excess fat and tour the meat of the arm roast a part. I then grabbed a can of cream of mushroom soup and poured over top. Add about six cups of water. Add salt and pepper.

shredded beef crock pot

Mix all together and go to work for the day.

An hour or so before you want to eat, add the fabulous Coe’s Noodles or whatever noodles you have in your pantry. Add up to four more cups of water to your liking.

beef and noodles in the slow cooker

Serve over mashed potatoes.

Tonight I also made the Pioneer Woman’s zucchini cakes. A meal isn’t a meal without PW recipe on the plate after all.

Crock Pot Beef and Noodles
A creamy slow cooked beef and noodles recipe that will warm you up after a cold day.
  • 3 lb. Beef Roast
  • 1 Envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 bottle of beer or 12 ounces of beef broth
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 10 cups of water
  • 1 pound of noodles
  1. Place beef roast in the crock pot and pour beer, onion soup mix and garlic over top. Cook overnight or 4 hours on high.
  2. Remove any bones or excess fat and shred beef. Add mushroom soup and six cups of water and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  3. Add 4 cups of water and noodles. Cook until noodles are softened. Add more liquid as needed.
  4. Serve over mashed potatoes.
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