Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Scuderi Fast Fake-Baked Ziti

      If your family is anything like mine, you will always appreciate a good pasta recipe. It appeals to adults and kids alike. This one is a gem. I think my hubby saw it on Rachael Ray and wanted me to give it a try. Are we glad we did! It is so fresh and springy, which is unusual for a baked pasta dish.  There is something magical about the combination of fresh basil, tomatoes, and fresh mozarella. 

Scuderi Fast Fake-Baked Ziti


3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
28 oz. can whole tomatoes
14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
Coarse salt
Handful of fresh basil leaves, rinsed, patted dry, and torn

1 lb. box of ziti rigate or penne pasta
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
Freshly ground black pepper
Generous grating of nutmeg
2 cups whole milk
1/2 C. Asiago cheese, grated
1/2 C. Parmesano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1 C. sliced fresh mozarella

Note: I never spend the money for all of the cheeses, I buy the grated parmesan blend and the fresh mozarella, and it is wonderful.


Boil pasta water.

Chop whole tomatoes. Heat oil in medium saucepan, add garlic and saute for about 1 minute, watch it carefully, or it will burn. Add chopped tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and salt to pan. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add basil and simmer 10 minutes more.

Cook pasta according to directions, until Al Dente.

Bechamel Sauce:
While pasta is cooking, melt butter in medium saucepan. Whisk in flour and stir to cook for one minute, adding salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Whisk in milk. Cook until bubbly and reduce for about 5 minutes until thick.

Drain pasta. Put in 9 x 13 casserole dish. Pour tomato sauce over pasta and turn to coat. Pour bechamel over already coated pasta. Top with Grated cheeses, then sliced mozarella. Place under hot broiler until cheese is browning and bubbly, 3-5 minutes. 

Adapted from: Rachael Ray

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Oreo Puddin' Poke Cake


1 box chocolate cake mix
Ingredients needed to make cake (usually eggs, oil and water)
2 (4 oz.) packages of Instant Oreo pudding
4 cups milk (2 % or higher)
crushed Oreo cookies


1.  Make cake mix according to directions and bake in a well-greased 9x13 pan.
2.  Just before cake is done, start making pudding.  In a medium bowl, begin to add milk to pudding mix and continue to whisk until most of the lumps are removed.  Let pudding mixture sit for about 2 minutes.  You want it to thicken slightly so it isn't runny but not fully thickened into pudding.

3.  When cake is finished, while still warm, poke holes all over cake (about 1 inch) intervals using a wooden spoon handle or a straw.  Pour pudding mixture over warm cake.  Spread it out with a spoon, gently pushing the pudding down into the holes.

4.  Put cake in the refrigerator and allow it to cool completely, about an hour.  Once it is set, top with crushed Oreo cookies.  The cake needs to be refrigerated.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Homemade Playdough

I love this recipe! It makes the BEST playdough! And it's is safe for little ones, has a nice texture to play with, and it comes out of clothes and carpet with just a moist rag. Such a fun, cheap easy activity for kids! 

Homemade Playdough

1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup water
1/2 cup salt
1 TBSP oil
food coloring (I have used liquid drops and gel. Either one works great!)

1. Mix flour, cream of tartar and salt together in a saucepot (no heat yet!). Add water, oil and food coloring. 

2. Stir mixture together. Make sure you have the right amount of food coloring so that it is the color you want. This is the only chance you have to add more coloring!

3. Turn heat on high and stir constantly until it forms a ball. This happens really fast! 

4. As soon as it has formed a ball and most of the wetness is gone, dump playdough onto a counter or cutting board. Let cool for a few minutes, and knead to until smooth. If you overcook it, the dough will be a little dry. I like to take it off the heat with a little wetness still showing in the dough, and then knead it until smooth. (See picture and explanation below.)

5. Store in a plastic bag. Have fun! (I put it in a plastic bag while still warm, so it keeps the moisture and does not dry out.)

Note: I always make a double batch, or a few batches with different colors. One batch will not be quite enough to share happily with 2 or 3 children. More is better!

Source: Adapted from Cookin' With Home Storage by Vicki Tate

This is what it looks like as it starts forming a ball. See how it is still wet? At this stage, I would flip the dough over and let the wet part touch the hot pan and then take it out with just a few wet spots on the dough. Once you make your first batch, you'll understand how fast it forms a ball, and when to take it out of the pan! 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mormon Morsels: Practice What You Preach

Photo Courtesy of

I was driving down Valley Road in My Town recently and saw this quote on the marquee of the local Catholic Church:


Such a profound little statement!  We all know that others watch our actions much more than they listen to what we say.  Back in the day, the statement would have been “practice what you preach.”

It's important for us to be sure that all of our actions reflect our values, beliefs, and standards.  We are being examples in many ways—some we may not even realize.  

Who out there doesn’t just LOVE Pinterest?  I know, right?  Well, I "re-pin" frequently, and for those who aren’t familiar with the website, it is an online kind of “someday I want to have/do/ try this really cool craft/recipe/outfit/ home d├ęcor trick-- kind of like a bulletin board or file.  Even more exciting is that it is all in photos that you can click on and eventually get back to the original source for more information and directions.  You go on the site and look at all these photos and “re-pin” them to your “boards.”  One thing I started noticing was that people I know who have high standards of modesty, were re-pinning immodest, revealing clothing--strapless, backless, super short dresses, etc.  I wonder if they even realize what they are saying by re-pinning these items?  There are others out there who also know their standards, and they are confused by the mixed message that is being sent.  We can all take a lesson from this:  Every action we make, every word we say, can preach the gospel or preach something else.  Remember that we are emissaries for the Lord and we need to make sure that all we do reflects that.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Marshmallow Buttercream Icing

I recently had a birthday and my sweet mom made me an out-of-this-world cake. (Thanks, Mom!)

Looks pretty tasty, right? Thank goodness I married a New Englander who introduced me to the lovely Whoopie Pie years ago (which did you know were originally called hucklebucks?!). This icing when paired with a dark chocolate cake is pretty much an inverted whoopie pie. Whoopie!

Marshmallow Buttercream Icing
1 C. Butter, at room temperature
7 oz. Marshmallow fluff (my preferred brand... Fluff)
2 C. Powdered Sugar
1-2 tsp. Vanilla, according to taste

1. In a mixer (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter until fluffy.
2. Add the marshmallow fluff and beat until fluffy, aprox. 2 minutes.
3. Add powdered sugar, beat for 2 minutes then add vanilla, beat for 1 minute.

This should make enough to frost a two layer 9-inch circle cake.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Halibut Burgers

 So, part of my life was spent in Alaska and my parents still live there. One of the perks to having them there is having an abundance of wild caught halibut, salmon, rock fish, etc. So delicious! Here is one of our favorite and simple recipes for halibut.

Halibut Burgers (or HALIBURGERS)
1-2 lbs. halibut
Salt and Pepper
Montreal Steak Seasoning
Olive oil 
Sesame buns (or buns of your choice)

1. Cut your halibut into pieces (butterfly them if necessary) Season with salt, pepper and a bit of Montreal steak seasoning 
2. In a frying pan, add a little bit of olive oil and a little bit of butter (about 1 Tbsp each) Cook the fish on both sides, til cooked through.
3. Toast your hamburger buns. You can pop them under the broiler (or if you have an obnoxious broiler that has to heat up for 20 minutes like mine, you can cheat and toast them over your gas burner.)
 4. Then build your burger. Mayo, lettuce, tomato, avocado and halibut. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cheeseburger Macaroni

I love recipes that I have all the ingredients to at all times, and this is one of those. This is definitely one of our family's favorite meals. There is never any leftovers! It is an as "easy as it gets" recipe and so delicious!

2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 -14.5 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes
3 cups beef broth
1 -3/4 cup water
1 box of elbow macaroni

Cheese Sauce:
4 TBSP. butter
4 TBSP. a.p. flour
1 -1/2 cups of milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Brown the ground beef and then drain off the grease. Stir in taco seasoning, tomatoes, beef broth, water, macaroni and stir well. Cooking on medium high heat. Continue to stir until it starts to bubble.  Then reduce the heat to simmer and cover the dish, cooking for about 12 minutes or until the macaroni noodles are done to your liking. 

Just as soon as you cover the macaroni, start your cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and then just before its completely melted add in your flour. Stir for about 2-3 minutes and then add the milk. Bring this to a boil, continuing to whisk the whole time. Remove from the heat and add the cheese and stir until melted. Salt and pepper.

When the macaroni mixture is ready, pour in the cheese sauce and stir well to incorporate it.

adapted from 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Blueberry Cobbler

I love summertime--not for the heat and humidity, but for the produce!  And summer is when we have all sorts of blueberry treats.  This recipe for Blueberry Cobbler is one I have used for several years.  I saw it first on Mennonite Girls Can Cook, a favorite recipe blog of mine.  Their blog inspired me to start Mormon Mavens, so I have a special affinity for that particular site.

5 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. cold butter
1/2 cup buttermilk

1.  Combine berries, 2/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch in a large microwave safe bowl.  Gently turn the berries around in the bowl to cover evenly with the sugar and cornstarch.  Microwave for 3 minutes, stirring at the halfway point.  Gently stir, then pour the berry mixture into a greased 8" pan.
2.  In another bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients.  Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add buttermilk and stir just until moistened.  Drop batter by spoonfuls over the hot berry mixture.
3.  Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Allow to cool for half an hour so that the blueberry juices can thicken a bit.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

I usually double this recipe and use a 9"x13" pan.

Source:  Mennonite Girls Can Cook

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Family Vacations to Church History Sites

In fall of 2010, and then again in 2011, we took a family vacation to Nauvoo, Illinois and had some of the most memorable times of our lives.  We toured by covered wagon and on foot the beautifully restored city of Nauvoo. We enjoyed the homes that had been restored. The Red Brick Store that was owned by Joseph Smith where the Relief Society was organized. We saw Brigham Young's home, and others. We toured the Dance Hall/ Cultural Hall, where the original wood floors were still intact.  On that very floor Joseph Smith had taken a piece of chalk and drawn out map of the trail west to the Salt Lake Valley, which he had received in a vision, for Brigham Young to follow with the Saints. We dressed up in pioneer clothing, played pioneer games, learned how to make candles, and rope, and barrels. There were so many things to see and do, and it was wonderful! We did it all, and most importantly we felt the Holy Ghost testify to us of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We also visited Carthage Jail. Upstairs in the room where Joseph and Hyrum Smith were  held as prisoner, we felt very intensely the Holy Ghost. We listened to a soloist sing "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief", which John Taylor sang to Joseph just before the mob rushed into the jail and killed Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and fatally wounding John Taylor and Willard Richards. To see the bullet hole in the door made by the bullet that killed Hyrum Smith, and how its been worn perfectly smooth over the years from saints who have touched it and inserted their finger into the hole to make real the story of Hyrum's and Joseph's deaths.
Maggie and Wyatt on the stairs of the Smith family cabin in Palmyra, New York, where Joseph Smith Jr. was visited by the Angel Moroni.
This summer we went north to Palmyra, New York. We visited the Joseph Smith Sr. family farm, their cabin, their barns, their other home, the "Alvin Tree", the Sacred Grove; where Joseph Smith Jr. prayed to Heavenly Father and was then visited by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, the Hill Cumorah; where Joseph Smith Jr. was shown the Golden Plates by the Angel Moroni, and the Pageant; (which by the way is fantastic!), the Witmer Farm, where the Church of Jesus Christ was organized in 1830. We also visited the Grandon building where the Book of Mormon was first published.  We had a wonderful time!  We felt the Holy Ghost testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and also that Joseph Smith is truly a prophet of God.

Sophi and Abi with members if the cast of the Palmyra Pageant. Joseph Smith and a Nephite woman. (real life husband and wife)
I think as Latter Day Saints we sometimes think, "if I ever get to the sacred grove I am going to have a powerful witness of the truth."  The truth is this, at peak tourist season quiet time in the grove can be hard to come by. But, I myself was able to have a couple of unexpected moments where I was reminded that my Heavenly Father is indeed mindful of me and that he loves me. I am thankful for my own special time there.
So, why go to these places? Why pick these places over other obvious vacation sites for our family?The answer is simple. We desire to impress upon our children that all of the stories we share and tell them about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith and the early pioneers are real! These are not fictional stories, these things really happened. There are so many wonderful opportunities at these Church History Sites where the Holy Ghost can teach truth and enlighten our minds and strengthen our testimonies.  We count ourselves very blessed to have been able to go to these places and have a sensory experience of the stories of our church's history.
I hope you all will find and opportunity to visit these places or any of the Church's Historical Sites! If you are interested in these sites you can go to and see actual pictures of the beautiful sites and lists of things you can do when visiting. All of these pageants and locations are completely free!  (which is a plus for a big family) 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sweet Tomatillo Dressing

This is a recipe I got from my cousin, who got it from Pinterest.  The recipe is for chicken enchiladas of sorts but we found that we like the sauce so much that we have it on had for salad, quesadillas, beans, rice, and veggies.  It kind of is our new ranch.  In her recipe she just called it the sauce, but I will name it Sweet Tomatillo Dressing.  You can find the original recipe here:

1 Cup Salsa Verde
1 pkg Buttermilk Ranch (I just use ranch seasonings so I can avoid MSG)
1/3 cup fresh Cilantro (I add a bit more because I love it)
1/3 cup Sour Cream
1/3 cup Mayonnaise
1 tsp mince Garlic
1/2 tsp coarse Salt
1 Tbsp fresh Lime Juice (I usually to help with the flavor and to maintain freshness, probably a whole lime)
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/4 cup Sugar (I use honey and it works great but honey is sweeter so I just add it to taste)

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Easy Sweet and Sour Catalina Chicken

Yesterday was busy-busy. Get the SUV washed, go to Sam's, fill up that SUV with the cheap gas at Sam's, come home and unload all that bulk stuff from Sam's.  Put it all away. Take a shower, get dressed, go to doctor's appointment, go by Walmart on the way home to pick up stuff for the blog post recipe and the other items that I couldn't get at Sam's.  Wait for that crazy thunderstorm to clear a little while shopping and enjoy the power flickering and the rain pounding the roof of Walmart.  Drive home and put all that Walmart stuff away and then prepare the recipe for the blog post for Thursday.'s in the oven and I can finally sit down and check my email.  Oh, looky there!  Jen posted a recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken!  What are the odds that we would pick the same type of recipe to post this week?  No worries, though, because they are slightly different.  It's all good.  No, really it is yummy good.

1 cup Apricot-Pineapple Preserves
1 small (8-oz.) bottle of Catalina dressing
1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Heat a large oven-proof skillet or dutch oven to medium-high heat on the stove top.

2.  While pan is heating, place jam, Catalina dressing, vinegar, and 1/2 of the onion soup packet in a bowl and stir to combine.  Set sauce aside.

3.  Sprinkle remaining onion soup mix onto chicken pieces and pat on all sides with clean hands. (I cut my chicken breasts into smaller chunks)

4.  Drizzle olive oil into hot pan to coat bottom of pan.  Place chicken pieces in and cook without moving them for 2 minutes.  Turn chicken to other side and cook for 2 more minutes.

5.  Pour sauce over chicken and spread evenly over the pieces.  Place pan in oven, uncovered, and cook until chicken measures 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.  I let these cook for about 30 minutes, then checked the temperature and cooked them for a few more minutes.

6.  Remove from oven and let cool at least 10 minutes.  Serve chicken and sauce over hot white rice.

Source:  Our Best Bites

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sweet & Sour Chicken

       I love sweet n' sour chicken. It is asian inspired cuisine that even my kids will eat (and enjoy!). I found this recipe and it was as good as promised. I also loved that the ingredients were on hand and inexpensive!
Sweet N' Sour Chicken
3-4 chicken breasts
salt and pepper for seasoning
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup cornstarch
1/4-1/2 cup canola oil

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp garlic salt

    1)Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
    2) Cut chicken into bite size pieces, season with salt and pepper
    3) Heat oil in medium sized skillet over medium heat
    4) Place cornstarch in gallon sized ziploc bag. Add chicken pieces and toss to coat.
    5) Whisk eggs in shallow pie pan, dip chicken pieces in egg and place in hot oil.
    6) Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden but not all the way cooked through.
    7) Place cooked pieces in single layer in baking dish. Continue with all pieces.
    8) Mix all sauce ingredients together and pour half of mixture over chicken pieces.
    9) Bake for one hour, turning chicken several times during cooking to coat with sauce.
    10) While chicken is cooking, heat remaining sauce over medium heat until combined and thickened.
 Serve over rice with extra sauce as desired.

Recipe source: Mel's kitchen cafe

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Chick-Fil-A Dipping Sauce


1/2 c. mayo
2 T. mustard
2 T. honey
1 T. vinegar
1/2 t. garlic powder


Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.

Source:  Pennies on a Platter

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever!

Forget about your diet! You have to try these! They will make you so happy! 

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever!

Cream together:
1 cup CRISCO shortening (Sometimes I use ½ cup shortening and ½ cup butter)
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar

Mix in:
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

2 ¼ cups white flour (you can use white wheat flour…it’s very good)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Chocolate chips (as many as you like!) I used "chunks." You can add chopped nuts too!

Put spoonfuls on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until just barely starting to brown on the edges. They will look a bit underdone to the average person! Take out of oven and let them sit for a few minutes on the pan. (DO NOT over cook if you want them to be chewy and soft.) 

Pour a glass of milk and ENJOY!!!! YUM YUM!!!

1. One batch makes 2 dozen large cookies. Trust me, you'll want to make a double batch. 

2. These make fabulous M&M cookies too! You can add anything you like in these cookies! White chocolate chips and macadamia nuts, or dark chocolate and pecans...the possibilities are endless! 

Source: My amazing mom! (Brenda Joyner) She taught my sister and I how to make these when we were really young, and we were famous for our delicious cookies! 

Sunday, July 14, 2013


What is the purpose of prayer?

    We have struggled with infertility for years. It is a common challenge for many people, but that doesn't make it any easier when you are faced with it yourself. Over the years, I have run the gamut of emotions ranging from disappointment, to anger, to resignation and defeat. Having children is a righteous desire, so why couldn't we, who are trying to be good people and who would give children a loving home, have children easily? 
    I also had a difficult time knowing how to pray about it. On one hand, we are taught that if we are faithful, our prayers will be answered. On the other hand, we are taught that the purpose of prayer is to bring our will in line with God's will. The two ideas seemed a little contradictory to me. I felt a little bit guilty praying for a child if it wasn't God's will for us. As I was sitting in Sunday School one day, the lesson was on prayer and the teacher referred us to the bible dictionary. What I read changed my perspective forever:
     "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings."
    When I was able to view prayer as a form of work, I no longer felt guilty for praying for a child. It released a huge burden and I could pray without reserve while hoping that it was a blessing God was willing to grant. This lesson has helped me in every trial since and I hope it helps you as well. God wants to bless us, but we have to do our part.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Southern Banana Pudding

I'm a southern girl through and through. I think when one becomes "Southern" they acquire southern taste buds. Biscuits, Fried Okra, Green Beans (cooked with an awful lot of salt and bacon), Barbecue... you get the picture. One dessert that is loved by many of "us Southerners" is Banana Pudding. YUM-MY.

This recipe is a light and easy take on the sometimes way-too-sweet dessert that all southern cooks should know to make. So, next time you find your self fixin' to go to the grocery store, grab your buggy and get all these ingredients so you too enjoy the flavors of the South. (yes, I really do use "fixin" and "buggy" in my everyday language!)

Southern Banana Pudding
3 bananas
2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding (I used Sugar Free)
3 cups cold milk
30 Nilla Wafers (I used Reduced Fat Nilla Wafers)
1 tub Cool Whip (I used Lite Cool Whip)

1. In a bowl combine pudding mix and milk. Whisk for 2 minutes, allow to set for 5 minutes. 
2. While pudding is setting slice bananas. 
3. Arrange about half the nilla wafers on the bottom of your dish (and if it's glass go up the side for presentation purposes). Follow with half the bananas and half the pudding. Repeat. On top of the last layer, top with Cool Whip.
4. Chill in the fridge for 3 hours before serving. 

Now go, be southern!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Grandma's Best Apple Pie

There once was a girl who liked making pies
But all of those years she could not devise 
how to make the perfect pie crust 
or apples that would not turn to mush

Until by chance she tried a new way
different from any she'd made up to that day
It turned out superb to her great relief
she conquered the pie that had given her grief. 

Perfect Pie Crust
12 Tbsp. very cold unsalted butter
1/3 c. very cold vegetable shortening
3 C. flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
6-8 Tbsp. ice water
Dice the butter and return to the fridge or freezer while preparing the other ingres. Place the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Pulse a few times. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8-12 times til butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out onto a floured surface and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 mins. 
The recipe says it is for a double crust pie, but it actually makes enough for 3 single crusts, depending on how thick you roll it. 
Grandma's Best Apple Pie (from All Recipes. Link here)

1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2-1 tsp. cinnamon (opt.)
8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored
and sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon (if using) and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.

Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.

Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Pie

2 cups crushed oreo cookies
4 tablespoons melted butter

1 8-ounce thawed container fat free cool whip
1 quart softened vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup melted peanut butter
1/2 cup Peanut Butter Cups
1/2 cup crushed Reese's Pieces or Peanut Butter M&Ms

-Combine the oreos and melted butter and form a crust.  Press mixture evenly into a nonstick 8-inch pan.
-In a large bowl, combine the Cool Whip and ice cream evenly.  Fold in the Peanut Butter Cups and half of the Reese's Pieces.  Layer half of the filling and then drizzle half of the melted peanut butter on top.  Layer the other half of the ice cream filling and drizzle with the remaining peanut butter.  Sprinkle the rest of the crushed Reese's Pieces on top.
-Cover and freeze for 5-6 hours or until firm.
-Allow the pie to soften at room temperature for about 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Peanut Butter Cookies

I'm so glad that Melissa is one of the Mormon Mavens now.  I've loved her cookbook, The Hows and Whys of the Year Supply, for many years (email us at to find out how to get your own copy).  This recipe from her cookbook, sure to please any peanut butter lover, has turned out to be a favorite because of the lovely texture of the cookie it produces.  Give it a try.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1.  Cream together the butter and peanut butter.  Then add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
2.  Roll into balls (I use a cookie scoop to measure out the dough) and roll in sugar.  Place on cookie sheet.
3.  Bake at 375 degrees until very lightly browned (7-9 minutes by original directions, 10-11 minutes in my oven).  Do not overbake them!  Allow to cool for 1-2 minutes on the cookie sheet, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Source:  Melissa Coombs' cookbook, The Hows and Whys of the Year Supply

Friday, July 5, 2013

Frozen Grapes

I am one of those know the ones that don't like high fructose corn syrup, food dye, ....etc.  So we usually don't have Popsicle in our home unless they are homemade.  I don't know why but homemade sometimes just seems like too much work, so I found an easier way.  Frozen Grapes!  They have a wonderful icy crunch, are prefect for those hot days, and super easy!  

Wash Grapes well (I use food wash for grapes to get off all the pesticides)
Pull off the vine and place individually on a cookie sheet

It is that easy.  Once mine have frozen (I usually leave them in for 3 hours), I put them in a zip lock bag to save space in my freezer.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Berry Cheesecake Pops & Happy 4th!

How did I get so lucky to post on Independence Day?  I am honored to post on the 4th of July because I am a patriot.  I get teary-eyed when the national anthem is played and the Stars and Stripes are presented at ballgames.  Every time. 

For our followers who are not of the LDS faith, I would like to share a couple of our Articles of Faith--what we believe--that correlate with our celebrations today:

Article of Faith #11--We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

Article of Faith #12--We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

I just thought these were very appropriate as we celebrate our freedoms and the principles upon which this great country was established.

Now that I have given you food for thought, here is my food post for today.  Have you seen the new cookbook from our lovely Kate and Sara at OBB?  It is entitled, "Savoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites."  Yummy stuff .  This recipe comes from that book and it is a perfect summer treat for this holiday.


2 cups assorted berries (I used strawberries and blueberries)*
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, divided
3 oz. cream cheese
1 cup Half-and-Half
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1.  Place berries and 3 tablespoons powdered sugar in a blender or food processor and roughly puree.  Add more sugar, if needed.  You should end up with about 1 cup of berry puree--smooth or chunky. Whatever you want.

2.  Transfer puree to a bowl or measuring cup with a pour spout and set aside.  Wash out food processor and place the cream cheese, half-and-half, vanilla, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup powdered sugar inside.  Puree until smooth--not going to show a picture but it is white and liquid.

3.  Fill popsicle molds, alternating berry mixture and cream cheese mixture.  You can swirl it with a popsicle stick or leave in layers.  Freeze until slightly firm if you are adding your own popsicle stick.  My form came with stick/lids so I just put mine in at the get-go and froze them completely.

4.  To remove from molds, carefully run warm water around the outside of molds until popsicles are loosened.  Store in an airtight container or zip-top bag in the freezer.

Next time I make these I am going to try some of my freeze-dried fruit and see how that turns out.  Sounds like a good way to use that fruit from my food storage and it is a healthy snack--pretty much.

Source:  Savoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, p. 124.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Garlic Marinated Chicken Cutlets

    I have really fallen in love with fresh basil. My problem is, I always have more than I need. This recipe is a great, easy, delicious way to use more of it. You can also use dried, but it is awesome with fresh!  The beautiful thing about this recipe is that you only have to marinade the meat for 10 minutes.

Garlic Marinated Chicken Cutlets

1 Tbsp EVOO
3 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp (or more) dried basil (use more if using fresh)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, butterflied or pounded flat

Mix marinade in a large bowl or baking dish. Add chicken and turn several times to coat each piece. Let marinate at room temp for at least 10 minutes, then grill until browned and cooked through.

Source: Adapted from a recipe in Martha Stewart's Great Foods Fast cookbook.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Strawberry Lemonade Bars


1/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 t. salt

1 c. fresh lemon juice
2/3 t. lemon zest
1/2 c. pureed strawberries (about 3/4 c. berries)
1 1/4 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

2.  Begin by making crust.  In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter, until smooth and fluffy.  Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly.  Pour into prepared pan and press into an even layer.  Bake for about 17 minutes, until set at the edges.

3.  While the crust bakes, prepare the filling.  In the bowl of a food processor, combine lemon juice, lemon zest, strawberry puree, sugar and eggs and process until smooth.  Add in flour, baking powder and salt, then pulse until smooth.

4.   Gently pour the filling over the hot crust when it has finished baking.  Return pan to oven and bake for 23-26 minutes, until the filling is set (There will be a light colored "crust" on top from the sugar in the custard--- nothing to worry about).

5.  Sprinkle the bars with some powdered sugar.  Cool completely before slicing and use a damp knife to ensure clean slices.  Store bars in the refrigerator, especially on a hot day.  Makes 24 bars.

Source:  baking bites

Monday, July 1, 2013

Easy Homemade Biscuits

The other night we were out of bread and rolls, so I decided to whip out some quick biscuits to serve with dinner. These are easy to make, delicious, and it only takes a few minutes until you can sink your teeth into a hot, fresh, fluffy biscuit!  

Easy Homemade Biscuits

3 cups all purpose flour (you can use 1 cup whole wheat flour in the place of 1 cup all purpose flour)
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 TBSP sugar (I personally don't add the sugar, but it's part of the original recipe.)
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cups cold butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/3 cups milk (plus a little more)
1 egg, beaten

1. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. 

2. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture looks crumbly. If you don't have a pastry blender, you can cut up the butter with a knife as shown in the picture, and then mix and blend with your hands. That might not be the most sophisticated way to do it, but it works just fine.

3. Add egg and milk, stirring just until moistened. If the mixture seems too dry, add a little more milk. You want the dough to be quite moist, like the photo below. Do not overmix. You want to stir the dough as little as possible.

4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Sprinkle a little flour onto dough so you can touch it. Pat out about 1 inch thick or so. Cut dough with a biscuit cutter, or use a glass or cup like I do. Do not handle the dough very much. The less you touch it, the lighter they will be.

5. Place biscuits on a sprayed baking sheet. Bake in preheated 450 degree oven for 10 - 12 minutes or until the biscuits are done and are starting to brown on top. I like them when they are lightly browned, but some people like to cook them a bit longer and get them more browned and crustier. 

6. Enjoy immediately with butter and honey, jelly, or even some delicious sausage gravy! 

Source: I got the original recipe from my friend Patty Graff, a fabulous cook!

I cut the butter up into small pieces first, then I use a pastry blender. But you can use your hands instead if you don't have a pastry blender.

Stir just until moistened. The dough will be wet and sticky.

Put on a floured surface.

Sprinkle on a little flour so you can touch it.

Pat it out about an inch thick. Touch the dough as little as possible.

Cut biscuits with a biscuit cutter or a glass or cup. They don't have to look pretty. They will still taste amazing!

Place on a sprayed baking sheet and bake.

Enjoy eating them!!