Sunday, July 29, 2012

Standing Firm

We live in a world where we are constantly battling to find firm ground to stand on and the strength to go on. There are so many different struggles that we, as humans, face--so many ways to be pulled away from the gospel. Whether those are physical or mental infirmities, distractions, etc., it is sometimes hard to grasp hold of the truths that we know are important.

I found two quotes from our prophet, President Monson concerning testimonies--and really, if you think about it, testimony is that base that keeps us, as individuals, going. What do you believe? Why do you believe it? What experiences have kept you steadfast in the gospel? Everyone is so different and yet we all have the same goal. Exaltation. To be with God, and our families, FOREVER.

It is my personal opinion that the following is a key to getting there. And when we are living our testimony, we are a beacon to those around us.

President Thomas S. Monson:

" that you have the courage to stand firm for truth and righteousness. Because the trend in society today is away from the values and principles the Lord has given us, you will almost certainly be called upon to defend that which you believe. Unless the roots of your testimony are firmly planted, it will be difficult for you to withstand the ridicule of those who challenge your faith. When firmly planted, your testimony of the gospel, of the Savior, and of our Heavenly Father will influence all that you do throughout  your life. The adversary would like nothing better than for you to allow derisive comments and criticism of the Church to cause you to question and doubt. Your testimony, when constantly nourished, will keep you safe." (April 2009, General Young Women's Meeting)

"Although that testimony can continue to be fed spiritually and to grow as you study, as you pray for guidance, and as you attend your Church meetings each week, it is up to you to keep that testimony alive. Satan will try with all his might to destroy it. Throughout your entire life you will need to nurture it. As with the flame of a brightly burning fire, your testimony--if not continually fed--will fade to glowing embers and then cool completely. You must not let this happen." (April 2012, General Young Women's Meeting)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mexican Stuffed Shells

I love tacos.... I love pasta. So naturally when I came across this recipe a while back - it was meant to be made. This recipe is so easy and a really nice spin on taco night. I know you'll enjoy it. It is easy to either kick up the heat or to tame it down by varying the ingredients.

Mexican Stuffed Shells

1 lb. ground beef (turkey or chicken would be great too)
1 package taco seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese
16-20 jumbo pasta shells
1.5 cup salsa (more/less depending to your taste)
1 cup taco sauce (at least)
1-2 cup cheddar cheese (depending on how cheesy you want it!)

- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a pan cook ground beef; add taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions. Add cream cheese to beef, cook on medium/low until cream cheese is melted and incorporated. Set aside and cool. (If you want to kick up the heat, diced green chiles would be great to add to the beef.)
- Cook pasta shells and drain. Set shells out individually on cutting board/baking sheet so that they don’t stick together.
- Pour salsa on bottom of 9×13 baking dish.
- Stuff each shell with the meat mixture.
- Place shells in 9×13 pan open side up. Cover shells with taco sauce.
- Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes, with the foil removed.
- Top with any condiments you’d like. Green onions, sour cream, lettuce, salsa, taco sauce... you name it!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Marinated Grilled Chicken

"Kara, can you give this recipe to my mom so she can make it? It is SO GOOD!"

Liam is six years old. He has the most adorable face and the most beautiful hair (that's right. HE does). I cannot deny the child the one pleasure in life he has asked me for. I daren't. So, here you go! The real plus is how dang EASY-PEASY it is!


1 Cup 7-UP* 
1/2 Cup Soy Sauce**
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp+ Ground Ginger
5-6 Chicken Breasts (about 1.5 lbs)

1. Mix all ingredients in a 1 Gallon zip lock bag (I do two bags just in case) and refrigerate over night.


2. Slap those bad boys on a grill the next day for lunch or dinner and VOILA!  You'll have 6-year-old boys...and 80-year-old boys for that matter...lined up begging you to give their moms the recipe. (Please cook the chicken all the way through until the juice runs clear. Those boys will take it all back if they get food poisoning!)

*Sprite works, too, but I really do think 7-UP is better for some reason. I feel a science experiment coming on!
**For a different kick, try 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce and 1/4 Cup Teriyaki Sauce.

NOTE: I think that smaller chicken breasts work better. I always cut the chicken down into "Smallish" sized portions. This way, the portion size is great for kids, too.

Source: My Great Aunt, Audrey


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Family Favorite Chicken Salad

When it comes to chicken salad, my family can't get enough! That includes my extended family. It's a go to meal for all of us. An entertain the company meal, even!  So, several years ago one of my girls had a preschool teacher that introduced us to her chicken salad. And this is the chicken salad that I always make. But, I will warn you, if you have a hard time taste testing your recipes, or playing around with them, this probably isn't for you. It always tastes the same to me. But, its one of those recipes that I just make up as I go. So, I will try to give you a general idea  and then you have to experiment!  It will be fun! And your family will love this!

5 or more chicken breasts, boiled, and chopped into bite sized pieces.
3-4 big stalks of celery, chopped
1 med. sized onion, chopped
Note: But, be careful not to add all of the onion at first.  you don't want to over power the celery!
2-3 big red delicious apples, chopped
2-3 big granny smith apples
Note: You use the apples to stretch the salad. If you have a lot of people to feed up the apples! Up the veggies even!
2 cups Red seedless grapes, halved (obviously you can add more)
1 cup walnuts, or pecans, optional
Duke's Mayo
Kraft Creamy Poppy seed Dressing (this is the secret ingredient)
Crescent rolls, crackers, yeast rolls, lettuce, etc. Anything and everything you would like to serve with this!

After you have boiled and chopped the chicken add all ingredients to a super large bowl and mix. In a separate bowl pour in the entire bottle of the poppy seed dressing and add about 3/4 c of mayo and stir until mixed well and the dressing has thickened up.  You made need to add more mayo. But, be careful not to over do the mayo, you will lose the poppy seed flavor if you add too much. Chill and serve!  Delicious!

Sometimes I find myself without poppy seed dressing and so I will make up a mixture of mayo and sugar and vinegar. This will taste yummy too!

Recipe adapted from Sherene Winkle.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cheesecake Berries

I had some friends over a few nights ago and wanted to try some new recipes that were collecting dust in my "Recipes to Try" Pinterest board.  I needed something simple, easy, and tasty.  BINGO!

I think this will be my new go-to treat to bring to parties and showers, or just to eat in the privacy of my closet while my children clean the kitchen.

I can dream can't I?

a carton of strawberries (there were about 20 in mine)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
graham cracker crumbs (it doesn't take much)
chocolate or vanilla melts for decor (optional)

1.  Wash the strawberries, drain completely, and dry completely.   With a pairing knife, begin coring out the middle of each berry down through the stem.  For me this was easiest while holding the pairing knife higher up on the blade with maybe and inch of blade actually exposed beyond my fingers.  Work slowly until you get a feel for it.  You want a nice, roomy area for the yummy cheesecake filling; just don't go all the way through the berry.

2.  In a mixer blend together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Scoop this mixture into a zip-top baggie, seal the bag, and snip off one corner.  You can always snip off more if the hole's not big enough, so be stingy with your cut.  Holding a berry in one hand, use your other hand to squeeze the cheesecake-baggy mixture into the strawberry holes, allowing the filling to come up out of the berry just a bit.
3.  After filling the berries, either sprinkle on or dunk the tops of the berries with graham cracker crumbs.
4.  Place the berries on a cooling rack with a sheet of wax paper underneath.  Melt your chocolate and drizzle over the berries.  A tip here:  don't try to "draw" the lines onto the berry.  This will make for a sloppy job.  Just quickly go back and forth over the berry, letting some of the chocolate go past the berry on each side.  I had a lot of melted decor here so I did lines in two directions.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.  YUM!

I think next time I will:

  • double the berries and one-and-a-half the cheesecake mixture.
  • try a chocolate cheesecake filling.
  • not invite people over so I can have more for myself.  (Just kidding.  Sort of.)

Source:  Sugar Derby via Pinterest

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fresh Courage Take

The 24th of July is a day that members of the Latter-day Saint faith celebrate. It is called Pioneer Day. A day that we commemorate the early members of the church finishing their trek westward and settling in the Salt Lake Valley (in Utah). In church we often will sing a song titled Come, Come, Ye Saints. This is one of my very favorite hymns.

When I sing this, many things will come into my mind. I think about the pioneer heritage that I have. I think of my ancestors walking across the plains in search for religious freedom. I think of their great courage, and hope that their faith and hope are still alive in me today. I also think about how we all are pioneers in some way or another. I also think how we all have trials today, and Heavenly Father is there, waiting to help us. 

My very favorite stanza from this song is in the second verse....

 Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
’Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we’ll have this tale to tell—
All is well! All is well! 

 How often do I find myself in a woe as me attitude? I put this verse into 'today's language' and apply it to my light often! Afflictions, illnesses, situations, seem to bring me down at times. Why should I morn and think my lot is hard? Why should I think that I'll get to my goal if I don't fight for it! (hello! baby weight that desperately needs to be lost!) So, I need to buck up and fresh courage take. Heavenly father knows me and nows my situation. He is there waiting to help. I know he will be there when I ask. So really, All is well, All is Well!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pepper Rubbed Pork

I found this recipe for pork rub on a little sticker attached to a pork loin roast. After trying it, I just couldn't let it go undiscovered! Great for roast or chops.

The Rub:
1/2-1tsp ground pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)
2 tsp each: dried basil, rosemary, thyme
2T Grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp each: garlic powder and salt

Combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl and apply liberally to all surfaces of your pork. The first time I used the rub, it was on a pork loin roast. I had just enough to cover the whole thing.  When I made these chops, I doubled the rub recipe. It seemed there was more surface area to cover since I was working with the front and back of each piece.  Now here's where you can choose your own adventure!

If you plan ahead and have some time before dinner:  Place the pork chops in a 9x13 dish with a splash of water in the bottom, cover tightly with foil and bake for about 3 hours at 300*. 
Now, I know some will warn you not to cook them too long for fear of drying them out.  I will say this:  If you're foil is on tight, and your temp is not too high. They will be juicy, slow cooked chops.  The longer they bake the better, if you ask me.  They were falling to pieces!  Mmmmm!  And the flavor? WOW! 

Or, if you're ready to get dinner on the table sooner than later:  Let the pork rest with the rub on it, preferably in the fridge, for about 10 minutes or so.  It just gives the pork juices a chance to mingle with the spices.  Then...I used my marvelous grill pan (any pan will do) to sear the flavors and juices into the pork.  About 3-5 minutes on medium heat on each side. Then another 10-12 on each side to cook through (internal temp. should read between 140-160.  I always shoot for 160).
   Enjoy!  (I know I did =)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mexican Street Corn

Do you get Runner's World magazine?  We get it.  We don't run.  Well one of us did at one time.  That was not me, but you know...Anyway, I don't usually look past the cover, but one day I was bored and started looking through the magazine and actually found about 3 recipes that I wanted to try.  This is one of them.  It was so good that I am going to start checking out all of the issues.  I made this corn at the beach last week, and had it with fish tacos with watermelon salsa that my sister made--que rico!

4 ears fresh corn, shucked
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used low fat with olive oil)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
  grated zest and juice of 1 lime
 Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup crushed tortilla chips
1 ounce queso fresco

1.  Heat a grill to medium-high heat and put the rack 4 inches from the fire, or preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Grill or roast the corn, turning occasionally, until some kernels char and others are lightly brown, 15-20 minutes.  

2.  In a bowl combine mayonnaise, oil, chili, lime zest, juice, salt and pepper.  

3.  Pulse remaining ingredients in a food processor until crumbly and spread on a plate.  When the corn is done, remove ears from the heat and smear evenly with the mayonnaise mixture.  Roll them in the crumb mixture and serve.  Serves four.

Source:  Mark Bittman, Runner's World Magazine

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Blueberry Lemonade

Nothing says "summer" like good old fashioned lemonade.  This one has an even healthier twist with blueberries, one of nature's super foods.  Enjoy!


1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice (about 8 lemons)
4 cups water
4 cups blueberries
1 - 1 1/4 cups sugar (depending on your taste for sweet or tart)


1.  Process ingredients in a blender until smooth.
2.  Pour through a wire-mesh strainer into a pitcher, discarding solids.
3.  Serve over ice.  Garnish with lemon slices, if desired.

Source:  Southern Living

Friday, July 13, 2012

Chicken Guacamole Quesadilla

I've been trying to come up with some new lunch ideas lately. This little ditty came to me while I was trying to clear out some leftovers. Chances are, you too have most of these ingredients in your fridge right now.

Flour Tortilla
Guacamole (I used a 100 calorie pack of pre-made guacamole)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Bacon Bits

Directions (pretty self explanatory, but here you go!)
- Spread guacamole on one half of tortilla. Top with cheese, chicken, and bacon bits.
- Fold and lightly spread butter on the outside of the tortilla.
- Cook in skillet over medium-low heat.
- Enjoy!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Apple Cider Syrup

I guess this is one of those recipes that you don't usually find until the fall, HOWEVER, we LOVE pumpkin. Pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin heads...that's what my granddad used to call us kids when we were young.

This syrup is the perfect combination for pancakes and waffles. It is Celestial Kingdom food--trust me.

1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 Cup Apple Cider
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Butter

1. In a medium sauce pan, stir together Sugar, Cornstarch, and Cinnamon.
2. Add Apple Cider and Lemon Juice. Stir until well combined.
3. Cook over Medium Heat until it comes to a boil. Boil until thick enough to coat a spoon.
4. Remove from heat and stir in butter.

Serve warm.

Source: Uh...somewhere on, I'm sure


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cherry Cheese Pie

This is so yummy! Have you ever had a serving of cheesecake with cherry topping and wished there were more cherries!?  Well, this is the pie for you! Most of the time the cheesecake is too much for me, but this has just the right amount.  AND, its way healthier than a regular cheesecake. (At least that's what I told myself while eating practically the whole thing. Shh...don't judge.) By the way, the crust on this pie is delicious!

3/4 c a.p. flour
3 TBSP. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter, softened
1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling
1 pkg. (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the first three ingredients into a bowl and add in the softened butter. Stir until combined well.  Press onto the bottom of a 9" pie plate...also, go up the sides of the pie plate with the crust.  You will have to press it pretty thin to have enough to spread up the sides, but don't worry, it will be great! Bake the pie crust at 350 degrees for 10-12 min. or until lightly browned. (I baked mine for about 15 min. But, don't brown too much, you still have more baking to do.) After removing the crust from the oven, pour in the pie filling and set aside.

The Cheesecake part!
In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. Pour the mixture over the cherries and spread carefully. Bake for 30-35 min. or until its beginning to brown around the edges. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate for several hours before serving!

Recipe  adapted from Taste of Home

Monday, July 9, 2012

Gooey S'mores Bars

I love S'mores.

(That's "smores" not "shmores" if my husband is listening, ahem!)

But really....I mean, it's hotter 'n heck right now and I am not about to go build a campfire so I can indulge in some gooey chocolate, marshmallow madness.

(That's "-mallow" not "-mellow" if the misspelling world is listening.  Your You're welcome.)

Enter:  this easy and satisfying recipe via Pinterest that seduced me with its siren song.  I knew when I bought the two giant Hershey bars for it that this was going to be love.  Real heart-pumping, jaw-dropping, artery-clogging love.

If you ask me, this recipe has "Family Night Treat" written all over it.  Enjoy!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 (4.4 oz) Hershey bars
1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow creme

1.  Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8" square baking pan.
2.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until well-combined.  Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until well-blended.
3.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt.  Add this to the butter mixture, mixing on low speed until combined.

4.  Take half of this mixture and press it evenly into the baking pan.  Add the chocolate bars on top (they just fit side by side in my pan).

Spoon the marshmallow creme out on top of the chocolate; gently and evenly spread the marshmallow creme over the chocolate.

Make square-ish patties out of the remaining dough and piece together on top of the creme (I did this in four patties and it worked just fine).

5.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool completely at room temperature (or all the gooey wonderfulness will ooze out of the bars and we don't want that, do we?).

Makes 16 bars

Source:  Lovin' from the Oven via Pinterest

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

These little babies will add a kick to any party this summer! They are tangy, sweet, and (let's just face it) SUPER cute! The best part is, they really do taste like strawberry lemonade! I frosted them with a lemon mousse buttercream, but you could also change it up a bit and try a strawberry frosting.

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

4 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 C. buttermilk
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 C. plus 1 T. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Instant Pink Lemonade Mix (like Crystal Lite or Country Time)
3 or 4 large, fresh strawberries, diced to 1/4" pieces

1-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 10 muffin cups with baking liners and set aside.

2-Cream butter, sugar, and lemonade mix together. Add vanilla, soda, salt, and egg yolks. Mix in buttermilk. Gradually add the flour.

3-Clean berries, remove stem. With a sharp knife, slice dice the berries into 1/4" pieces, being careful not to crush the berries. If the berries are crushed or mushy there will be too much moisture and your cupcakes will not bake properly.

4-Fill each cup with about a Tablespoon of batter. Then place 4 or 5 pieces of fresh strawberry in the middle of the batter (try to to get them on the edges, it will leave a gap in your cupcake when baked). Then add more batter per cup filling each to about 2/3 full.

5-Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

*If baking mini-cupcakes (as shown in the photo) line 24 mini-muffin cups with liners. Use only 2 or 3 strawberry pieces in the middle, and bake for about 15 minutes.

Source: Thanks to Michelle from for creating this awesome cupcake!!!!

Lemon Mousse Buttercream

First, you need to make a lemon curd:

1/3 C. granulated sugar
1 egg
1/3 C. fresh lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
2 T. plus 2 tsp. butter, melted

1-In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth. Stir in lemon juice, zest, and butter.

2- Cook for 1 minute intervals on high, stirring after each minute until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. (it usually takes about 3 minutes for me)

3- Cover the curd with cling wrap placed directly on the surface of the curd and refrigerate until set. (When I need it fast I put it in the freezer for like 15 or 20 min).

Buttercream Frosting:

1 pound bag of powdered sugar
1/2 C. milk
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 sticks butter, cut into 1/2 in. slices
1/2 C. shortening

1-using a whisk attachment on your electric mixer, mix the pwd. sugar, salt, vanilla and milk a low speed until smooth.  Add butter, one slice at a time, until incorporated.

2-Add shortening and whip at highest speed about 10 minutes or until volume increases by 50%.

When the curd is set and buttercream mixed, fold the lemon curd into the buttercream with a spatula until incorporated.

Friday, July 6, 2012

"Healthy" Chocolate Sauce

A few weeks ago my husband came out of the kitchen sporting the evil scientist laugh.  "MWAHAHAHAHA!" What had he created now? Healthy chocolate sauce!  I realize this may not be a new concept to the world (according to Google), but do you think my husband would research recipes online? ...I don't think so.  He did this all-by-him-self.
Get this: It's easy  
2 parts Cocoa Powder
3 parts Agave Nectar 

Mix the parts together...
keep mixing...keep mixing...that's right, you're getting there. 
And finally! The Agave bursts through and you have a lovely sauce.  
If this is too "dark" for your taste, just add more Agave.

How do you use it?
Chocolate Milk
Add a dash of salt a splash of vanilla for Hot Chocolate
Drizzle on pancakes, cakes, cookies, pies brownies, etc...

What will you use it for?  Please leave comments. I would LOVE to know!

If Agave Nectar is new to you. Check out some really interesting info HERE about it.  Long story short: It's better for you than sugar in almost any form.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Kickin' Collard Greens

Okay, this recipe is from  I thought it would be a good idea to find a healthier alternative to typical southern-prepared collards, since they really are good for you.  It's a pretty good recipe, but next time I will add more red pepper and give it a little more zing, like they suggest.  If you are used to the usual fatback-laden, way-cooked collard, be prepared for a different experience!

1 tablespoon olive oil (I used extra virgin)
3 slices bacon
1 large onion, chopped ( I used yellow)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt (I used Kosher)
1 teaspoon pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
1 pound fresh collard greens, cut into 2-inch pieces (as you can see below, I opted for the bagged fresh collards.  These definitely need to be cut smaller and I would also remove any large ribs.)

1.  Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat (I used a dutch oven).  Add bacon and cook until crisp.  Remove bacon from pot, crumble it and return to the pot.  Add onion, and cook until tender, approx. 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until just fragrant.

2.   Add collards and fry until they start to wilt.

3.  Pour in chicken broth and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (next time I will use a little more seasoning).  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes--I would go a little longer--until greens are tender.

Source:  Ken Adams,

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Mormon Mavens Blog Spot

This is one of those recipes that came to "be" out of desperation -- when I was out of other things for a recipe.  It has become a go-to recipe for us - Even our "I don't really like chicken people" love this.  It is on the table from start to finish in less than 30 minutes.  Use the leftovers in a wrap - Yummy!
Note:  Some of the ingredients are "to taste"

1 Tbls Coconut Oil
7-10 Chicken Tenderloins chunked
2-3 cloves garlic or equivalent in Garlic Powder
1/2 - 1 medium onion chopped
2 cups broccoli florets
2 zucchinis cut in half lengthwise and sliced
Lemon Pepper

1.  Melt Coconut Oil in large frying pan, add chicken
2.  Fry chicken for 4-5 minutes - add a little water if necessary to keep from burning
3.  Add garlic, peppers and onions - saute/fry for 5 minutes or until chicken is almost done
4.  Add Broccoli and Zucchini with a little water for steaming and to keep from burning.
5.  Sprinkle entire pan with Lemon pepper
5.  Cook for additional 4-5 minutes or until broccoli is tender.


Source:  A Jennie original

Happy Independence Day!

Other than the sweltering heat, I always love the Fourth of July.  I love fireworks and parades (which always make me cry for some reason) and sparklers and flags.

And I love my country.

I have a great love for the Founding Fathers of America.  They were not perfect men but I believe that they were divinely inspired to do the great work that they did for my country.  They took a stand that required complete and total commitment.  One that was also, quite literally, do or die.

I have to ask myself if I have that kind of courage.  I think I do in some situations.  I think we all do in very drastic situations, perhaps involving the safety of a loved one.

But what about the less obvious opportunities to take a stand?  What about our personal independence from whatever tyrants we have allowed to rule our lives?

While we are totally dependent upon, and grateful to, a loving Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ, we must not allow ourselves to be enslaved by the ruthless despots that rob us of our precious "natural" resources of time, energy, and talents.  Are there any ways that we, in our very personal lives, have allowed a "foreign" ruler to reign supreme?  An addiction, a habit, a weakness, a character flaw....something that we know we need to break free from but somehow feel unable or unwilling to declare our independence from?

President James E. Faust once said:
Each new day that dawns can be a new day for us to begin to change. We can change our environment. We can change our lives by substituting new habits for old. We can mold our character and future by purer thoughts and nobler actions. As someone once put it, “The possibility of change is always there, with its hidden promise of peace, happiness, and a better way of life.”

Peace, happiness, and a better way of life?  Sounds good to me.  Sounds like something the Founding Fathers wanted.

And so, I challenge myself (and you, if you are up for it) to declare independence from one thing today.  One vice or habit that steals away a part of you, that somehow holds you captive.  It doesn't have to be huge.  In fact, it probably should be something small that you can tackle with confidence.  

Really think about it.  Has something been gnawing at you, making you squirm, filling you with regret?  Analyze it and pick it apart if it's too big to handle in one chunk.  Pick a baby step that at least puts you one foot into the journey towards independence from whatever maniacal monarch has you in chains.

Declare it, and then fight for independence from it!  Look it straight in the eye and say:

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans!  May it mean more to you on this day than ever before.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Peach Ice Cream

 The texture of this is like frozen custard.  I think I would add even more peaches though.


2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup whole milk (I used half-and-half)
4 large egg yolks
2 cups fresh peaches (about 4 of them), peeled, pitted, and pureed
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup whipping cream
1 t. vanilla extract


1.  In medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, milk, egg yolks, and a pinch of salt.  Place pan on medium-high heat, and whisk until mixture comes to a simmer.  Lower heat to medium and whisk mixture 5 minutes, or until it begins to thicken.  Strain into large bowl, then whisk in peaches, half-and-half, cream, and vanilla.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours, or until chilled.

2.  Pour mixture into ice cream maker; process according to manufacturer's instructions. 

Source: Country Living

Monday, July 2, 2012

Zucchini Bake

I know we JUST had a zucchini bake posted here but, sometimes options are good, no?  I tried this recipe for the first time today and thought it was delicious and comforting.  Hope you enjoy!

4-5 small zucchinis (up to 15 oz) unpeeled and coarsely grated*
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 packet Canadian bacon (6 oz or to taste) finely chopped**
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, packed
1 heaping cup self rising flour***
1/3-1/2 cup oil
5 eggs lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a small or medium size baking dish (size will determine baking time).
2.  Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour into greased baking dish.
3.  Bake 30-40 minutes for a medium or shallow dish.  Today we used a small deep dish and it took 1 hour.  Zucchini bake is done when brown on top and skewer inserted comes out clean.  Can be served hot or cold.

Entertaining?  Garnish with tomato slices or fresh chopped parsley!

*The smaller zucchinis will make the dish greener due to more skin.
**You can use ham or bacon as well.  If you use bacon you may need to adjust the oil.
*** If you don't have self rising flour use 1 cup flour, 1 tsp. baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt

Source:  My Australian friend

Sunday, July 1, 2012

"What Matters Most"

Thinking back on my life, the happiest times have been spent with family. Those people whom I love the most!  The people that matter the most. Letting them know how much I love them is important to me.  And really, its never been hard for me to share those feelings.  But, I know from experience that when I do tell them I love them or appreciate them, it makes a difference in their lives.  That is why we are family, to love and support each other.  To help each other find the way to Heavenly Father.  Love them, and tell them so.