Monday, December 22, 2014

Spinach Chips

A while back I posted a recipe for Kale Chips.  I never even considered that you could use another type of green but I like these Spinach Chips even better than the kale!  If you can find curly spinach it will probably be even easier, but the baby spinach leaves are great.  Just make sure you put them in a single layer not touching each other.  And take it easy on the salt--these are really easy to overseason.

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Italian seasoning, to taste
salt, to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with foil.
2.  Put the spinach leaves in a large bowl.  Drizzle olive oil over leaves and gently toss with your hand to evenly coat the leaves.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and salt and toss.
3.  Arrange the leaves in a single layer not touching each other.  Bake for 8-12 minutes or until leaves are crispy.  Take from oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes.  Use a spatula to remove from foil.

Source:  Divas Can Cook

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bistro Chicken Twist


This recipe comes from a good ol' Pampered Chef recipe book. I have been making it for years and used to make it for my family on Christmas Eve before we decorated Christmas cookies.

1 C. Chopped cooked chicken
1/2 C. diced red bell pepper
1/4 C. snipped fresh basil leaves
1/4 C. grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 C. mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 packages (11 ounces each) refrigerated French bread dough-I use frozen bread dough, thawed.

1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 Tbsp Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl, combine chicken, bell pepper, basil, 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, mayonnaise and garlic. Mix well.

Place bread dough on a greased cookie sheet. With a knife, cut each loaf length wise, end to end, halfway through. Then, use your hands to spread the dough about a bit.

Spoon half the chicken mixture into each of the two loaves. Gather up the edges over the filling, pinching to seal. Turn the two loaves over so the seam sides are down.

With the two loaves next to one another, crisscross them together. Leave a 1 1/2 inch space between the two loaves in the centers of the figure eights that you created.

Combine the egg white and the Italian seasoning. Brush over the top of the twist. Cut a small slit in the tops of the twist to expose the filling. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes.
Slice and serve.






Fideo Pronto


This is a super-easy dish to throw together when you don't have a lot of time on your hands--so basically any day of the week.  It can be a main ( throw in some grilled chicken or whatever meat you want) or side dish.  The recipe is from a box of broken up vermicelli that I used to be able to get in El Paso, Texas at my local grocery store.  Now I buy the vermicelli in a bag, in the Hispanic Foods section, and the recipe is not on there.


This is also a good way to get some veggies into your kids, and a good way to use leftovers.

Ingredients:
1 7-oz. pkg. vermicelli, broken up
1 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes, any flavor, with juice
1 tsp. sugar
1-2 T. olive oil
any veggies you want to add (we like fresh spinach, green chilies,  fresh broccoli...)
salt to taste

1.  Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add vermicelli and stir-fry until golden brown.  Be careful to not burn this.  The vermicelli will continue to brown quickly.

2.  Add the tomatoes with the juice and the rest of your ingredients.  Bring to a light boil, reduce heat and let simmer about 5 minutes or so.  You want the vermicelli to be a little chewy, but not crunchy.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Santa Hat Party Mix


This is so yummy and fun to make and to eat!  You'll definitely want to take it to one of the many Christmas parties of the season.

Ingredients:

Santa Hats

  • Bugles
  • Red melting disks
  • mini marshmallows
  • white sprinkles (nonpareils)
Snack Mix
  • 3 c. mini pretzels
  • 1/2 c. craisins
  • 1 c. salted dry roasted peanuts
  • 2 c. Rice Chex
  • 2 c. holiday colored M&M's
  • 8 oz. white chocolate for metling
How to Make

Santa Hats

1.  Melt the candy melts, along with a tablespoon of shortening (to help thin the melted candy), in 30 second intervals on half power in your microwave until melted.
2.  Immediately start dipping.
3.  Let them set up for 10 minutes or so on parchment or wax paper.
4.  When they are set, remelt the red candy disks (if necessary) and dip just the bottoms (the large part of the Bugle) into the white sprinkles.
5.  Then flip it over and dip the top in the melted candy and press a mini marshmallow on top.
6.  Let dry on wax paper.

Snack Mix
1.  Spread all your ingredients, EXCEPT M&M's and Santa Hats, out on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.
2.  Melt your white chocolate according to package directions and drizzle over the pretzel mix.  Transfer to a large bowl.
3.  When chocolate is set, sprinkle M&M's and Bugle Santa Hats over the mix.

Source:  cookiesandcups.com



Sunday, December 14, 2014

Keeping it Simple at Christmas

Christmas time! Oh what a wonderful time of year. But why does it seem that our list of "To-Do's" gets larger and we seemed more rushed to get the decorations up, the presents bought and wrapped, the certain foods made, the cookies delivered, etc, etc?

I am really trying to keep things simple in my life and to let go of what is superficial and, in the grand scheme of things, unimportant.

I love seeing beautifully decorated houses down to the table runner and goblets on the perfectly set table. Or the mantle decked out with all manner of color coordinated candles and ribbons and pine garland. I have dreams of buying and even making my own decorations to beautify my home during the holiday season. However, I am learning to give up on what I feel are society's expectations of me as a home maker during the holidays. I have mismatched Christmas decorations that are mostly gifts from when I was a teacher. 

One thing I have done, is sewn handmade stockings for each member of my family. However, I still have some finishing touches to add to them, as well as my own stocking to make. A few Christmases have passed and I still don't have mine made. I am to a point where I am okay if another year passes and it is not made. 

We recently returned from a trip to Hawaii. It was lovely. It was relaxing. It was calming. I know that Christmas is only a couple of weeks away, but I am feeling more calm and less stressed about getting "everything" done that I feel needs to be done. I am safe home with my children around me and that is what is most important to me!

While we were gone, I had my sister help make sure that Eve did her homeschooling. Everyday, Eve has a journal entry to fill in. Here is one that she did while I was gone. I was so happy and so touched when I read what she wrote and saw the picture that she drew. For a 6 year old girl whose Christmas list keeps growing, it was a bit surprising that she didn't talk about the presents or the advent calendar or the tree or the decorations or Santa. 

Because really the meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We are blessed to have the knowledge of our Savior and to have this time to reflect on the gift Heavenly Father has given us. 

“When we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the Spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ Spirit. It will block out all the distractions around us which can diminish Christmas and swallow up its true meaning." -Thomas S. Monson


So, let us take a deep breath, don't worry about having the perfect decorations, don't rush around like a mad person trying to buy presents or cook gourmet food. Let us stop, slow down, simplify, and cut out the worldly distractions. Let us celebrate the Spirit of Christ this Christmas season.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Avocado Tuna Salad

I love a good tuna sandwich, but it can be a bit, well, uninspired sometimes.  Here's a way to jazz up your tuna salad.  And you can eat it plain, over greens, on crackers, or in a a good old sandwich.  I ate it over salad and didn't need any dressing because it's so moist.

Ingredients:
2 cans tuna packed in water
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 red apple, finely chopped
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. dried dill
1/2 tsp. Dijon or Dusseldorf mustard
1/4 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Drain the tuna.  Mash the avocado in a bowl with the back of a fork.  Mix the tuna and avocado together.
2.  Add celery, apple, and walnuts.  Stir to combine.
3.  In a small bowl mix water, mustard, and spices.  Add to tuna mixture and mix well.

Can store in fridge for up to a week.  Serves 4-6

Source:  slighly adapted from thehealthymaven.com

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Chicken with Sun Dried Tomato-Basil Sauce


I found this recipe a year or two ago and have it pinned as one of my favorites. It is rich and delicious. One thing I did differently is that I added some of the drippings from the pan I cooked the chicken in. I de-glazed the pan with a bit of water and poured that into my sauce.








4 chicken breasts
Olive oil
Salt and fresh pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup onions, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 shallot, minced
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped (in package, NOT oil packed)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and fresh ground pepper. Cook in pan until thermometer reads 162 degrees or so (chicken will continue cooking after being removed from the pan.) Remove chicken from pan and set aside, keeping covered.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and shallots, cook 1-2 minutes, just until soft. Add sun dried tomatoes; stir.

With a whisk in hand, add flour and stir. Pour in chicken broth and whisk constantly to remove any lumps.
Add cream; whisk.
Continue whisking for 3-4 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken.  Take off heat and let sit; it will

continue to thicken
Add fresh basil to sauce and give it a good stir.

Serve the chicken and sauce with your choice of pasta.

Source

Slow Cooker Chicken Chili with Cream Cheese


This is a multi-use dish that is tasty and easy to prepare.  You will love walking in the door after work and remembering that dinner has been cooking for you all day and the aroma is calling you in.  This dish can be used with rice, as pictured, or without.  It would also be great as a taco or burrito filling--even as a dip with tostadas!


Ingredients:
2 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts (do not thaw)
1 can Mexican-style chopped tomatoes
1 can sweet corn, undrained
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 pkg. Ranch Dressing mix
1 T. cumin
1 t. chili powder
1 t. onion powder
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese ( I used Neufschatel)


1.  Place the chicken in the slow cooker.  Top with remaining ingredients, ending with the cream cheese.


2.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring once or twice to blend the cheese.

3.  When done, shred the chicken into bite-size or larger pieces and serve over rice.  Can also be served with burritos or tacos.

NOTES:  Serves 4-6.  Also makes a great dip!

Source:  Rita's Recipes via Pinterest.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Black Bean Salad With Citrus Dressing



I like to serve this as a side dish to many of my mexican main dish favorites.

Ingredients:

2 cans black beans
1 can corn
8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved or diced
1/3 c. red onion, chopped
3/4 c. loosely packed cilantro, stems removed
1 avocado, chopped

Dressing:

juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 1/2 limes
1/4 t. cumin
1/2 t. agave or honey
1/8 t. salt

Directions:

1.  Mix all ingredients except avocado.
2.  Mix the dressing ingredients and pour over salad and toss.
3.  Chop and add the avocado right before serving.

Source:  adapted from the gardengrazer.com

Monday, November 24, 2014

No-Fry Fries

I love homemade fries.  But I don't make them anymore for two reasons:  (1) fried food is unhealthy, and (2) frying stuff makes my whole house smell gross.  I've seen this recipe bounce around Pinterest enough to know that these fries must be pretty good.  So I figured I'd give 'em a try.  I'm not normally a crispy fry person, but I must say with these I prefer them crunchier.

Ingredients:
2 large Russet potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
coarse sea salt or kosher salt

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Cut potatoes into 1/3" thick fries.  (Cut in half first, then cut each half into 1/3" slices, then cut each slice into fries.)
2.  Place in a bowl of very cold water and stir them around with your hand.  Strain in a colander and place on a cookie sheet lined with a clean kitchen towel.  Use another clean towel to dry the fries well.
3.  Remove the towels.  Drizzle olive oil over the fries and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with salt and toss again.  Spread the fries out evenly.
4.  Bake until browned, turning halfway through.....25-35 minutes, depending on your oven and preference.

Source:  this is all over Pinterest and is supposedly from Gwyneth Paltrow

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread


This recipe comes from my friend's sister of The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
She basically has it down to a science and it always turns out wonderfully!

Ingredients:
4 c water (room temperature)
8-10 C. (2 lbs 10 oz) whole wheat flour
2 T instant yeast
1/2 c (2 oz) gluten
1/2 c brown sugar
4 t salt
1/4 c vegetable oil

In a large mixer combine the water and whole wheat flour. Blend for 3-4 minutes. It will be sticky. Cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours. I often mix the flour and water the night before and finish the bread in the morning.

Add the remaining ingredients and knead 2-3 minutes.  It should be cleaning the sides of the bowl by this point.  If it isn't, add 2 T wheat flour at a time until it does.
Knead another five minutes and touch test the dough.  Squeeze the top quickly with a few finger tips. The dough should not stick to them. Add flour or water 1-2 tablespoons at a time to get the correct look and feel. Knead an additional 5 minutes.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Punch down dough, knead for a minute or so and then cover tightly again and let rise an additional 45-60 minutes until dough triples in size. 

Grease 3 loaf pans with cooking spray. Punch down dough and separate into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long, skinny rectangle, making sure to remove any air pockets, roll each rectangle tightly and pinch bottom and side seams to create a loaf shape. Place in greased loaf pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise 30-45 minutes. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover loaves and let rise 15 mins more, or until the oven is preheated. Bake 40 minutes. 

Remove immediately from pans and place on a cooling rack. You can eat it warm or cool down to slice and freeze it. 


Nachos de Sobras




I made a big batch of ham and veggie soup Sunday and figured we were good for at least 3 nights of supper.  Well SOMEBODY didn't want soup for supper last night and so I am thinking what the heck will I fix now?  And then it hit me!  I had leftovers from a THRIVE class/party and from dinner at my daughter's house one night.  Put it all together and what do you get? Nachos de Sobras (leftovers).  It was a filling and tasty meal and perfect to have while watching the election results.  SOMEBODY even commented on how good it was.  Really? Leftovers?  Yes, really. Que rico!

Ingredients:
Fritos Scoops or any tostada or corn chips
Taco-seasoned ground beef
Cooked and seasoned Pinto beans
Chunky salsa 
Shredded Mexican-blend cheese
Sour Cream

Assemble as desired.  Done.



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Apple Cobbler Cupcakes with Pumpkin Pie Frosting


Made these for a school party.  A mouthful of fall flavors!

Cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 t. lemon extract
2 1/2 c. apples, roughly chopped and loosely packed

Directions:

1.  In a medium-sized bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and ginger.
2.  Beat butter and sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
3.  Beat in eggs, sour cream and lemon extract until blended.
4.  Mix in flour mixture.
5.  Fold in apples.
6.  Divide batter evenly among 12 cupcake liners (they will be filled almost all the way to the top).
7.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the cupcake clean.

Pumpkin Pie Frosting

Ingredients:

3/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
2 large eggs
15 oz. canned pumpkin
12 oz. evaporated milk

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.  In a large bowl, beat eggs.
3.  Stir in sugar, salt and pumpkin pie spice.
4.  Mix in pumpkin.
5.  Mix in evaporated milk.
6.  Pour into 9" pie plate.
7.  Bake for 15 minutes.
8.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out dry.
9.  Remove from oven and leave on counter for two hours before use.

*Put "pumpkin pie" into a piping bag or ziplock bag with a hole cut out.  Pipe frosting onto cupcakes.

Notes:

While you can load a slice of pie directly into the piping bag, I found that the pie piped better if I put it in a large mixing bowl and beat it for about thirty seconds to evenly distribute any moisture before loading it into my bag.

Source:  cupcakeproject.com


Sunday, November 16, 2014

We Are Capable of So Much More



It feels like I have spent a lot of time in my life just going through motions and living on the surface.  That is why the following comments struck home to me.  I should know better.  I have a divine lineage that sets me up to be so much more capable than I am on so many days.  Those darn natural man Goliaths can wreak havoc with even the best of us on days when we are doing the best, the very best we can.

"In the absence of a compelling testimony, some have let their daily
thoughts and actions become so focused on the things of the world that they
have minimized the influence of the light of the gospel in their everyday
lives. 

"And then as Elder Neal A. Maxwell has so eloquently
described, also included are those ' "honorable" members who
are skimming over the surface instead of deepening their discipleship and
who are casually engaged rather than "anxiously engaged" (D&C
76:75; 58:27)' (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 89; or Ensign, Nov.
1992, 65). . . .

" . . . President Gordon B. Hinckley . . .
said: 'I have been quoted as saying, "Do the best you can."
But I want to emphasize that it be the very best. We are too prone to be
satisfied with mediocre performance. We are capable of doing so much
better' ("Standing Strong and Immovable," Worldwide
Leadership Training Meeting, 10 Jan. 2004, 21)."

( Elder Donald L. Staheli, "Securing Our Testimonies," Ensign, Nov. 2004, 37)

So, take comfort in the tender mercies of the Lord as we use daily repentance and trust in His atonement.  Jeffrey R. Holland said, "Surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don't expect it and often feel they don't deserve it."




Thursday, November 13, 2014

Savory Mushroom Sage Stuffing


This is my family's stuffing recipe. I don't actually stuff my turkey. I use this recipe and make a big 9x13 inch pan of this stuff. The bread gets slightly crispy on top and the mushrooms and onions and celery are soft. It is really simple, but one of my all time favorite things to eat!

Ingredients:
14-16 slices hearty white bread (I use Grandma Sycamore's white bread)
2 sticks butter
7-8 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium onions, diced
16-20 ounces button or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp. rubbed sage
S & P to taste
1 1/2-2 Cups chicken broth

Directions:
1. Using a serrated knife, cut the bread slices into small cubes. Lay the cubes out on a baking sheet. Dry them out in an oven set to 170 degrees over the course of a few hours or overnight. You want them to be completely dry and crunchy.
2. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the celery and onions. Saute til just tender. Add the sage and S & P to taste. Add the sliced mushrooms, cook til mushrooms begin to soften.
3. In a large bowl, place the dried bread cubes. Add the warm mushroom mixture. Stir a bit. Then, add about 1 1/2-2 cups chicken broth-depending on how moist you want your stuffing.
4. Place the stuffing in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover with foil. Cover with foil and cook for about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top becomes slightly crispy and golden.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Pumpkin-Shaped Dinner Rolls

http://finlayson.thrivelife.com/honey-whole-wheat-dough-mix.html

This time around I thought I'd post more of an idea than a recipe.  You can use any bread dough recipe you like or use a mix like I did.  Whatever dough you choose to work with, the results will be similar.  This is an easy way to bring a little fall fun to your Thanksgiving table.





Directions for one-loaf's worth of dough:
1.  Prepare dough according to recipe or can instructions.  Allow to rise until doubled in bulk.  Punch down.
2.  Roll dough into a log.  Using kitchen shears (or unflavored dental floss) cut the log into half, then cut each half into half again.  This will give you four log pieces.  Each of these pieces should then be cut into thirds.  You will have 12 pieces.
3.  Take one section of dough and roll firmly between your palms.  Roll into a tight, smooth ball.  Take your kitchen shears and snip into the edge of the dough eight times equal distance apart.  Do not cut all the way through.
4.  Place on greased baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Cover lightly with a sheet of plastic wrap lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Allow to rise.
5.  Bake according to your recipe.  Garnish with a sliver of pecan.


Source:  it's all over Pinterest, baby.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pumpkin Bread


A long time ago, in a land far away (Idaho), I went to my first two years of college.  One weekend we had a homemaking fair kind of thing and I was asked to make a batch of pumpkin bread. Thankfully, I was given a recipe to follow.  I was a student, remember, and I didn't have a lot of cooking/baking experience.  I learned a lot of that while living off campus.  Anyway, I have just held on to this recipe for 30+ years.  Yeah, the recipe is that awesome.  It also makes great muffins.  In the spirit of pumpkin season, I am now sharing that recipe with you, our faithful followers. Get crazy with it!

Ingredients:
3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
15-oz can of pumpkin (or use the equivalent of fresh puree)
2 t. salt
1 t. cloves
1 t. allspice
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1.  Mix sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin and water.

2.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder.  Then add to pumpkin mixture.

3.  Add salt, cloves, allspice, raisins and nuts.  Mix well.

4.  Pour into greased and floured loaf pans.  You will need several, depending on the size. This particular time I used two larger loaf pans and one mini pan.

5.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for approximately 1 hour.  Test for doneness with a cake tester.

NOTE:  This recipe will produce about 30 muffins, baked at 28 minutes.


SOURCE: Ricks College 2nd Stake Relief Society, Rexburg, Idaho.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Peek-a-boo Pumpkin Cake



There's a pleasant surprise baked into every slice of this fall-inspired pound cake....a pumpkin!  Everyone will be asking, "How'd you do that"?

For the pound cake:

1 (14 oz) box pumpkin bread mix
1 (16 oz) box pound cake mix
Orange food coloring

For the icing:

8 T. (1 stick) butter
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 T. evaporated milk
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:

1.  Mix up pumpkin bread ingredients according to the directions on the box.  Add orange food coloring to make it more "pumpkin-y" looking (less brown).

2.  Bake in a 9x5 inch loaf pan according to directions.  Remove from oven before completely done, about 8-10 minutes less than instructed.  Let cool, remove from pan and refrigerate for up to four hours.  Cut cold pumkin bread into large slices.  Cut pumpkin shapes from slices.  Align them (vertically) down the center of a lightly greased and floured 9x5 inch loaf pan.

3.  Make pound cake batter according to the directions on the box.  Pour over your pumpkin bread cutouts in the pan, making sure to cover the tops of the pumpkins.  You may have more pound cake batter than you need.  Try not to overfill the pan.  Bake according to the directions on the box.  Let cool when done.

4.  Put powdered sugar in a mixing bowl.  In a saucepan, melt butter and boil, stirring until it starts to brown and form dark flecks on the sides and bottom.  Remove from heat.  Pour the melted brown butter and flecks over the powdered sugar.  Add the evaporated milk and vanilla.  Stir until combined and creamy.  Add more powdered sugar if it appears too runny or more evaporated milk if it seems too stiff.

5.  Remove baked and cooled pound cake from pan and top with brown butter icing.  Add chopped pecans, if desired.  Cut into slices and delight your guests with the pumpkin-shaped surprise that peeks out from inside!

Source:  sheknows.com

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Our Two Great Responsibilities

 
My church calling is a Relief Society teacher.  I LOVE it!  Once a month, I get to teach certain modern-day-prophet-inspired gospel lessons to a class full of wonderful spiritual women.  The lessons I am currently teaching are from the Relief Society lesson manual, 'Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith.'  It can be found here and is a wonderful reference and source of guidance: https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-of-presidents-of-the-church-joseph-fielding-smith?lang=eng
 
During my next lesson, I get to teach about individual responsibility.  As children of a loving Heavenly Father, we have the obligation to focus on our personal salvation and to help bring others into the light and knowledge of the Lord's church.
 
Joseph Fielding Smith states, "We have these two great responsibilities. … First, to seek our own salvation; and, second, our duty to our fellow men. Now I take it that my first duty is, so far as I am individually concerned, to seek my own salvation. That is your individual duty first, and so with every member of this Church.
                 
Our first concern should be our own salvation. We should seek every gospel blessing for ourselves. We should be baptized and enter into the order of celestial marriage so that we can become inheritors in the fulness of our Father’s kingdom. Then we should be concerned about our families, our children, and our ancestors.
                 
It is … our duty to save the world, the dead as well as the living. We are saving the living who will repent by preaching the gospel among the nations and gathering out the children of Israel, the honest in heart. We are saving the dead by going into the house of the Lord and performing these ceremonies—baptism, the laying on of hands, confirmation, and such other things as the Lord requires at our hands—in their behalf.
                 
It is my duty, as it is your duty, my brethren and my sisters likewise—for responsibility is placed also upon you—to do the very best that is within our power, and not to shirk, but endeavor with all our soul to magnify the callings the Lord has given us, to labor diligently for the salvation of our own house, each one of us, and for the salvation of our neighbors, the salvation of those who are abroad."

So, please take the time to focus on your personal salvation today.  Make it a priority.  Once you have secured your personal testimony, you will be more capable to fulfill the second great responsibility--to save the world.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Cheesy Sausage Pasta Skillet

First off, I want to share how happy I am to be back with the Mormon Mavens. I took a year hiatus... and missed it! I love trying new recipes and sharing the good ones I find as well as those tried and true recipes that you can never go wrong with. Thanks for having me back, friends!

Now... onto the yummy food....

Cheese.
Sausage.
Pasta.
YUM!

This recipe is a true one pot meal and comes together quickly. 

Cheesy Sausage Pasta Skillet



Ingredients

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. Smoked Turkey Sausage, sliced
1 C. diced onions
1 Tbsp. minced garlic (about two fresh cloves)
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream (if you don’t have this on hand – milk would work too)
8 oz dry pasta (any small pasta will do)
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup chopped scallions, for garnish


Directions

1.  Add olive oil to a 4-5 quart saute pan over medium high heat. Add onions and sausage and cook until lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.

2.  Add chicken broth, tomatoes, milk, pasta, and seasonings. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until pasta is tender.

3.  Turn off the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of cheese. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and cover for about five minutes to allow cheese to melt. Top with sliced scallions and serve.

Makes about 4 servings.



Many thanks to Yellow Bliss Road for sharing this recipe!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Red Curry and Ginger Pork Loin


So, I like to cook with pork. It is so versatile and lends itself well to different flavors. I decided to make up a curry and ginger marinade and sauce. It is slightly sweet with a definite kick due to the curry.

Ingredients:
1/4 C. oil
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar2 Tbsp. red curry paste
1 tsp. fresh ground ginger

2 lbs. meat. I used pork, but it would be great with chicken or beef. 

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Place meat in a large zip top bag. Pour marinade over the top. If you have a meat injector, you could also inject some of the marinade into the meat. Let marinate in the fridge for an hour or two.
Heat up your grill over med high to high heat. Oil your grill grate. Remove meat from marinade and place on grill. Let sit for a few minutes, then turn. Continue cooking pork until an instant read thermometer registers between 145 and 160 degrees F. Let meat rest for at least 5 minutes.

For extra sauce cook the following in a small sauce pan:
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. Brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. red curry paste
1/3 c. water
juice of 1 lime.
Heat til just boiling, then simmer for 5 mins or so. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

One of the things I have a hard time resisting is pizza.  Even when I'm not trying to eat wheat- and dairy-free, pizza is a huge temptation.  I just love it.  But it doesn't love me.  I didn't think there would be an alternative that I would enjoy.

I've seen pics for this crust all over Pinterest but never really had the gumption to try it until now.  While it doesn't rival Domino's or Pizza Hut or Whatever-Your-Favorite-Pizza-Place-Is, it's good enough that I will be making it again.  And that's sayin' somethin'.

Ingredients:
2 cups shredded cauliflower
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup mozzarella Veggie Shreds
1 tsp. dry oregano
1/2 tsp. finely minced garlic
1/2 tsp. onion salt

1.  Remove leaves from cauliflower and cut head into pieces.  In a food processor with a grater blade, process the cauliflower.
2.  Place 2 cups of cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl and cook on full power for 5 minutes.
3.  Cool to room temp.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined.
4.  Grease a cookie sheet or pizza pan.  Form pizza crust into desired shape.
5.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with desired toppings.  Return pizza to oven for a few minutes, or broil to melt additional cheese.

Notes:

  • The head of cauliflower I used yielded about 3 1/3 cups of shredded.  
  • You can use regular cheese, but I'm trying to go dairy-free so I used a cheese substitute.  If you want to give it a try, you can find it in the produce section at the grocery store.
  • I didn't add extra cheese since there is some in the crust already.  I just topped with a bit of pizza sauce and some pepperoni.  If you are adding veggies, you may want to saute them a bit first since they won't spend long in the oven.
Makes 6 pieces of pizza crust

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chili Blanco



This is my favorite time of year for so many reasons.  One is that we get to have stews and soups and all kinds of yummy, warm comfort foods.  This chili recipe is actually quite healthy and was really easy to put together.  You just need to allow time for the beans to cook, as you will note in the instructions.  I will probably be posting other recipes from this cookbook (see source below), so stay tuned for more deliciousness.



Ingredients:
1 pound dry white beans, rinsed and picked over *
4 (14-oz. each) cans of chicken broth *
1 t. chicken stock base (I didn't have any so I just made my broth stronger)
2 onions, chopped *
1 T. oil
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (7-oz.) can diced green chilies *
4 t. ground cumin
2 t. dried oregano leaves
2 t. cayenne pepper
4 cups cooked, diced chicken
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro, if desired (I added this)
1 cup fat-free (yeah right!) sour cream *
3 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

1.  Place the beans, broth, chicken stock base, onions, oil, garlic, chilies, cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook very slowly until the beans are done--test to see if they are done as they cook.  You don't want them to be mushy, just tender.  Beans that are not soaked first take 2-3 hours to cook.  Make sure to add more broth or water if the liquid gets low so they won't dry out.

2.  Remove beans from heat.  Stir in the cooked chicken and the cilantro.

3.  Top each serving with sour cream and shredded cheese.

* I have noted when I have used freeze-dried or other items from food storage products, just so you can get an idea of how to incorporate those items into your every day cooking.

SOURCE:   The Romney Family Table.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

North Carolina BBQ Sauce


This sauce was a huge hit at our daughter's graduation pig pickin'.  We cooked the pig in the sauce but you'll want to add more to your plate when you eat your pork because it is that good!

Ingredients:

4 c. cider vinegar
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/3 c. ketchup
1/4 c. butter
2 T. hot pepper sauce
2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 t. mustard powder
1 t. salt
1 t. fresh ground pepper

Directions:

1.  Place all ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the stove and pour into a heat-proof bowl.  Cover and refrigerate the sauce for 2 days.

2.  Strain the sauce through a mesh sieve to remove the red pepper flakes.  Store the sauce in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

***I did not remove the red pepper flakes and I thought it was delicious that way.

Source:  www.fullybooked.com

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Love and Concern for All God's Children



Today, we had a wonderful lesson at church about having love and concern for all God's children
Here are some of my favorite excerpts
 


"I believe it is our solemn duty to love one another, to believe in each other, to have faith in each other, that it is our duty to overlook the faults and the failings of each other, and not to magnify them in our own eyes nor before the eyes of the world. There should be no faultfinding, no back-biting, no evil speaking, one against another, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We should be true to each other and to every principle of our religion and not be envious one of another. We should not be jealous one of another, nor angry with each other, and there should not arise in our hearts a feeling that we will not forgive one another our trespasses. There should be no feeling in the hearts of the children of God of unforgiveness against any man, no matter who he may be. …

… We ought not to harbor feelings one against another, but have a feeling of forgiveness and of brotherly love and sisterly love, one for another. Let each one of us remember his or her own individual failings and weaknesses and endeavor to correct them. We have not reached a condition of perfection yet, it is hardly to be expected that we will in this life, and yet, through the aid of the Holy Ghost, it is possible for us to stand united together seeing eye to eye and overcoming our sins and imperfections. If we will do this, respecting all the commandments of the Lord, we shall be a power in the world for good; we shall overwhelm and overcome all evil, all opposition to the truth, and bring to pass righteousness upon the face of the earth. For the Gospel will be spread and the people in the world will feel the influence which will be shed forth from the people of Zion, and they will be inclined more to repent of their sins and to receive the truth."



"In other words, all that has been revealed for the salvation of man from the beginning to our own time is circumscribed, included in, and a part of these two great laws. If we love the Lord with all the heart, with all the soul, and with all the mind, and our neighbors as ourselves, then there is nothing more to be desired. Then we will be in harmony with the total of sacred law. If we were willing to live in harmony with these two great commandments—and we must do so eventually if we are worthy to live in the presence of God—then wickedness, jealousy, ambition, covetousness, bloodshed, and all sin of every nature would be banished from the earth. Then would come a day of eternal peace and happiness. What a glorious day that would be! We have been endowed with sufficient reason to know that such a state is most desirable and would establish among men the Fatherhood of God and the perfect brotherhood of man."

I could not put it better. As one woman said during our lesson today, "LIFE IS HARD, LET'S HOLD HANDS!"

I love that. We all need to show more love, more concern, more kindness to everyone. Those in and out of our faith, those that we agree with and those we disagree with. The world needs more love!
Let's try to be more Christlike and love all of God's children.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pulled BBQ Chicken

My neighbor told me this recipe over the phone. Super easy and satisfying.

Pulled BBQ Chicken in the Crockpot
Ingredients:
3-4 Frozen chicken breasts
1 onion
smoked paprika
garlic powder
a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce- I used Stubbs original

Directions:
Slice up the onion and place on the bottom of your crock pot. Lay the chicken breasts over the onions. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and garlic powder. Pour some of the BBQ sauce over the top of it all. Cover and cook on low until chicken is cooked through.
Shred the chicken with a fork and add more BBQ sauce as needed.

Serve on rolls with lettuce or wrapped in a tortilla with blue cheese cole slaw.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Candy Corn Cookies

Now, I'm normally a "make it from scratch" kind of girl.  But sometimes, well, you just don't have the time or energy.  I had planned to make these cookies from scratch but then thought, "You know, it's just as wonderful to have a time-saving way to make something cute as it is to have a scratch way to make something cute!"

So, if you're the type of person who loves ideas using convenience foods, you'll love this.

Ingredients:
2 logs of sugar cookie dough
food coloring

1.  Preheat oven according to dough directions.  Unwrap logs of dough.  Set aside about 1/3 of the dough.  Take the other 1/3's and place into two small mixing bowls.  Color one of the 1/3's orange and the other yellow.  (I used gel food coloring in orange and yellow because that's what I had.  If you have liquid food coloring, use yellow and then yellow/red to make orange.)
2.  Line a loaf pan with a large sheet of wax paper (you want it to cover all the sides, not just the bottom...and allow some to hang over the sides).  Press the uncolored cookie dough into the bottom of the paper-lined loaf pan.  Make sure it's even.  Then do the orange, then the yellow so that you have three even layers.  Fold the wax paper down over the top of the dough and press to help the layers be even and also to adhere them to each other well.  Chill for an hour.
3.  Use the paper to lift out the dough from the loaf pan.  Remove the paper.  With the dough on a cutting board, carefully cut the dough into slices about 1/3-inch thick.  Cut each slice into little candy corn shaped wedges (also known as triangles!).  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, two inches apart.
4.  Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until the edges are just barely starting to get golden brown.  Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet.  Then carefully remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

I could have sworn I had a picture of the loaf slice cut into diagonal candy corn shaped wedges, but apparently I did not.  Sorry!

These cookies are a little on the small side, but 2 logs makes a lot of them.  I only had time to cut and bake a few of the slices and that was over 2 dozen.  The rest of the dough I put back in the fridge to use later.

Source:  idea from Kathie Cooks

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hugs

I am so so so so so tired.  In fact I believe this is the most tired I have been in a long time.  I have a almost 5 month old who has been waking me up every 1 1/2 to 2 hours at night, a 3 and 5 year old who are up at 6:00 a.m. everyday, a 10 year old who somehow can't fall asleep until 10:00 p.m. every night despite the fact that I want to be in bed and asleep at 9:00, and last but not least I have a brain that won't let me fall asleep when I can sleep because it keeps going over all the things I need to be doing.  We are getting ready for a move across the country and every time I start working on something for the move a child needs something from me that keeps me from getting what I need to do done.  In fact right now it is 6:30 a.m. and I have been awake since 4. I have now told my 3 and 5 year old to stay in bed until the sun comes up at least 5 times and have tried to settle the baby back into sleep twice since I have began writing this blog post 30 minutes ago.  Right now being a mom feels like too much!  When the house is finally quiet at night I lay in bed and try to think if I have had more positives then negatives with my children that day.  Did I use every teaching moment?  Did I snap at them when they were doing nothing wrong?  Did I talk kindly to them?  Did I love them enough?  

What can I do to make things right?  Last night as I was thinking and praying about all of this a song from my childhood came into my mind, it is titled Four Hugs a Day by Charlotte Diamond.  The song starts out with the lyrics:

Nobody gets enough hugs a day
'Cause the minimum number is four
Now if you haven't got Four hugs today
Then you better get some more....

As I laid in bed thinking about this song I decided that today my goal would be to give my children at least 4 hugs each.  If all else fails today, if I go to bed tonight completely exhausted, if I didn't get any packing done and my kids have only eaten macaroni from a box, at least I can say that I hugged them and maybe today that is enough.

Mommy’s Hug

My mommy baked a cake today,
But Mommy didn’t hug me.
She made some puppets for a play,
But Mommy didn’t hug me.
She washed the dishes, clothes, and walls.
She picked up papers, shoes, and dolls.
She made my lunch and answered calls …
But Mommy didn’t hug me.
When nap time came, she tucked me in,
But Mommy didn’t hug me.
She saw a tear run down my chin,
And then my mommy hugged me!
She tickled, kissed, and hugged me tight.
I hugged her back with all my might,
And that made everything all right.
I’m glad my mommy hugged me.

Who wouldn't want to hug these cute kids!  Today is going to be a good day!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Candy Corn Fruit Salad



I am not a fan of Candy Corn, but I love this salad.  It is simple:

1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 cup Marshmallows
1/2 cup Coconut

Mix together and place in the bottom of a glass bowl, layer 4 cans Mandarin Oranges and 2 cans Pinapple on top. Gently mix together just before serving.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Halloween Poison Cake




You know, it's scary how many Halloween recipes you can find on Pinterest.  All the boys and ghouls are pinning all their faves for their upcoming spookiest soirees.  Every year I get so excited and say "This is the year I am going to host a "Tim the Tool Man Taylor"  monster bash!"  And every year I don't.  Maybe next year.  Anyway, here is a sweet treat you can try out, the trick is trusting the conversion equivalents.  The source for this recipe has included both, but I think next time I make this I will tweak it.


Ingredients:
375 grams sugar (2 cups)
250 grams soft unsalted butter (9 oz.)
3 large eggs
250 grams all-purpose flour (1 3/4 cup)
1 1/2 t. baking powder
pinch of salt
250 ml  milk, room temperature (1 1/8 cup)
2-3 t. almond extract (or vanilla or mint )
Green food coloring, to desired color


Cocoa Icing:

1 cup or more of powdered sugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder, about 1/2 a cup
A few T. boiled, lukewarm water (not sure how this makes a difference.  I just used tap water.)


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


2.  Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment (I used baking spray with flour).

3.  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

4. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well each time.  Scrape down the sides when needed.

5.  Add the flour mix to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, mixing well.

6.  Stir in the almond flavoring.  Next add green food color.  Don't use too much since the color will darken as it bakes (it really does!).

7.  Pour the green batter in the cake pan and smooth with a rubber spatula.  Place cake on lowest rack in oven to prevent over-browning. Do this for sure.  I didn't and ended up with a zombie cake top  Bake for about 40-60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

8.  Transfer cake to a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.  Cut the cake into squares.



ICING:



Mix ingredients together in a bowl, adjusting liquid/sugar depending on desired consistency.  It should have a thick pouring consistency that is easily spread with a spatula.




SOURCE:  Cake Journal.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Spider Deviled Eggs and Clementine Pumpkins


Just thought a couple of healthy treats would be nice for a change around the Halloween season.  No need for recipes here, just a few simple instructions.

For the Spider Eggs:

Make your basic deviled eggs.  Use a half black olive for the body of the spider.  Slice the other half into 4 segments to make legs.  You'll need one and a half olives to make one spider.



For the Pumpkins:

Peel a clementine.  Insert a cut piece of celery into the top opening for a stem.

Source:  pinterest


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Mormon Morsels: How's Your "To Do" List?



I was scrolling through Facebook this afternoon at work, kind of filling in some time and I came across this video.  I want you to take 9 minutes and watch this, pay close attention to the boy's prayer, and grab a tissue.  I will not even attempt to write any more about it.  You will understand why once you watch it.






Monday, September 29, 2014

Whole Grain Buckwheat Pancakes

I love breakfast.  Love it!  But when you're trying to go dairy- and gluten-free, breakfast can be hard.  Well, hard if you're like me and love carbs for breakfast.  Pancakes weren't something I ate every morning but when they were gone, they were missed.  In the few months that I've been eating this way I've tried a few pancake recipes;  and they were okay.  When I found this recipe I really didn't have high expectations.  And when I saw the batter, my expectations dropped even lower.  (Seriously, it looks like mud.  And don't the pancakes look more like hamburger patties from a distance?)  But I was pleasantly surprised when I took my first bite.  So happy I decided to try these!

Ingredients:
1 cup whole grain buckwheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 egg, separated
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. melted ghee
coconut oil for cooking

1.  In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients (flour through cinnamon).  Whisk and set aside.
2.  In a smaller bowl, combine the milk, egg yolk, maple syrup, vanilla, and ghee.  Whisk well to combine.  Add this to the dry ingredients and stir well until just combined.
3.  In a small bowl, whisk the egg white until soft peaks form.  Fold this into the batter gently.
4.  Coat griddle at medium heat with coconut oil.  Pour batter onto griddle, forming 4" cakes.  Cook until bubbles form on top and the edges are no longer shiny.  Then flip and cook on the other side until done.

Serve with maple syrup.  Like, the real stuff!

Makes 8 four-inch pancakes

Source:  mountainmamacooks.com (very slighly adapted)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Are you holding up an umbrella?

I got so many inspirational messages in last night's General Women's Meeting from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I especially loved the addresses of Sister Marriott and President Uchtdorf.  One thing he said stuck with me, and with many others I'm sure since a graphic depicting the message had already begun circulating only an hour or two after the talk.

President Uchtdorf said that sometimes we imagine that Heavenly Father has this store of blessings locked away with Him and that He will only send them down to us when we have done a list of certain things.  But President Uchtdorf said this is not true.  He said that Heavenly Father is constantly raining down blessings upon us but that we often block these blessings, not recognizing them, because of our own actions.

Image Credit:  lds.org

This made me think of a few things.  First of all, it made me realize that Heavenly Father is indeed always trying and wanting to bless me.  He loves me.  Not just as one of billions of His children, but that He loves me uniquely and individually and really is interested in my happiness.  He knows my name and everything else about me.  He knows me better than I know myself and knows what blessings I need, not just the ones I may ask for.

Secondly, it made me think of all the blessings that I do receive but take for granted.  In a video presentation during the same meeting I noticed a woman walking to her front door.  Her door was made of just plywood, unpainted and unadorned.  This scene pierced my heart because I thought of how often I have complained about my house being too small, not pretty enough, etc.  I was humbled.  I need to be content with the blessings Heavenly Father has already granted me.

Lastly, I began to think of what I am doing to block the blessings my Heavenly Father is so earnestly trying to give me.  How is fear stopping me?  What doubts are blocking the blessings?  What sins are acting as an umbrella?  These are deep questions and ones that I need to ponder for a long time to figure out.  Deep questions require deep thought and meditation.  Once the answers are unearthed, deep commitment is then required.  This will be a long process for me, I am sure.

Are you holding up an umbrella?