Friday, January 31, 2014

Hamburger Soup

It is soup weather here in North Carolina!  This is a an easy, budget friendly soup that doesn't call for bouillon (which I try to avoid).  Enjoy!

Sauté together:
2 cloves garlic
2 chopped onions
1 lb. Hamburger
Continue to cook until the Hamburger is well done then add:
1 qt. diced tomatoes
2 qt. water
5 chopped carrots
5 chopped celery sticks
6 peeled and chopped potatoes
1/4 t. thyme
1 t. parsley
2 bay leaves. 
Cook on low for 1 1/2 hours.  Remove from heat and add a little vinegar, a little honey, a little cayenne and salt to taste.

Source: Catherine Miller

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Black Bottom Coconut Bars

    Do you like Brownies? Do you like Coconut Macaroons? Then you will LOVE this dessert! These are wonderful, they don't take a lot of ingredients, and they have a definite WOW factor at any gathering. I inevitably get asked for this recipe. Thank you Martha Stewart.


For Brownie Base

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

For Coconut Topping

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (real really is best)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 package sweetened shredded coconut (7 ounces), 1/2 cup reserved for sprinkling


      For chocolate base: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving a slight overhang; butter bottom and sides of foil (not overhang). Melt butter in large microwave safe bowl in microwave. Add sugar and salt; whisk to combine. Whisk in egg, then cocoa and flour until smooth. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake just until sides begin to pull away from edges of pan, 10 to 15 minutes (do not overbake). Let cool slightly while preparing topping. (Keep oven on).
    For coconut topping: In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla. Gently mix in flour and coconut (except 1/2 cup reserved for sprinkling). Drop mounds of mixture over chocolate base; spread and pat in gently and evenly with moistened fingers. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup coconut. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Lift cake from pan, peel off foil, and cut into 24 bars.
Source: Martha Stewart Everyday food

Monday, January 27, 2014

Easy 100% Whole Wheat Bread

I made many whole wheat bread recipes and almost gave up on ever finding one that was light and soft, until my friend Kelly Wilde shared this one with me. I have never made another whole wheat bread recipe since! It is so light and soft that many people don’t believe it’s 100% whole wheat! Plain ingredients – no tofu or enhancers needed.


3 cups hot water                                
1 TBS salt                                                    
¼ cup oil                                              
1/3 cup honey
8-9 cups whole wheat flour (I like to use Hard White Wheat, but Hard Red or a mixture is good too!)
2 TBSP yeast
1 egg


1. Stir water, salt, oil, honey and yeast together. Add 4 cups whole wheat flour and egg.
Mix in a mixer for 4-5 minutes.You can use a Bosch or Kitchen Aid type of mixer, or just use bowl and wooden spoon. This will be thin like a batter. Mix it well. This will help your bread have a nice texture, and it's easier than kneading it once all the four has been added in.

2. Add 2 cups whole wheat flour. Mix well. Add 2-3 more cups of flour. The dough has enough flour when it is still a little sticky...if using a Bosch, it will pull away from the sides of the bowl and not stick to the sides of the bowl any longer. That's the precise moment when you know you have enough flour added in. Remember that it is better to have a little less flour than too much! Too much flour makes a very stiff and dry bread! Knead or mix 10 minutes. 

3. Preheat oven to 325°.

4. Let the dough rise in the bowl until double. Punch down.  

5. Cut the dough into 3 pieces. Shape into loaves and put in pans that have been sprayed with non-stick spray. (See photots below)

6. Let the dough rise until double in pans. Bake 35 minutes at 325°. 

7. Let the bread sit in pans for 10 minutes after baking. Then take out and let it cool on a bread board or wire rack. Or eat immediately with butter and honey or homemade jam, and you will think you are in heaven. Once the loaf has mostly cooled down, you can bag it and freeze it if desired. It will be good in the freezer for a few months. 

I had just put the dough into the pans.

Now they have risen enough and are ready for the oven.

This is so beautiful to me. But if you let it rise much more than this, it will rise too much and then deflate, and you will have a sunken in bread. You can still eat it, but it will look funny and be a little dense. Still good though. With a little practice, you will learn when when your bread is ready for the oven.

Source: Original recipe came from my amazing friend Kelly Wilde about 20 years ago. : )

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Nutella Cups

Imagine a chocolate chip cookie, without the chips, in a mini cup shape filled with Nutella. That is what you get with these little devils. They are so rich and so delicious! 

Nutella Cups
1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Jar of Nutella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease your mini muffin tin.
Cream butter and both sugars in bowl until light, smooth and fluffy! Beat in eggs and vanilla until fully incorporated. Gradually add dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) until all the flour is mixed in!
Put a hunk of dough in each mini muffin tin and bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown but not too dark around the edges.
When done, remove from oven and let sit for about 2 minutes. Then make wells for the nutella with a tart shaper or a similar object or a spoon. Add 1 dollop of  Nutella to each cup – it will start to melt quickly so you can swirl it around and make it nice and smooth.
Let cool 15-20 minutes in tin.


Monday, January 20, 2014

French Toast Roll Ups

Sometimes I like to try recipes that just look fun!  The precooking steps on this one would be fun to do with kids, especially rolling out the bread slices.  You can experiment with any fillings that have similar consistencies to the ones listed.

8 slices bread (should be somewhat soft--I used whole wheat)
Nutella, cream cheese, jelly/jam, peanut butter
2 eggs
3 Tbps. milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 heaping tsp. ground cinnamon
butter for skillet
maple syrup for serving

1.  Trim the crust off the bread slices.  This goes quick if you use a pizza cutter.  Then roll each bread slice flat with a rolling pin.
2.  Take about 2-3 teaspoons of your filling (Nutella, cream cheese, jelly, etc.) and spread down one end of the bread slice (see the pic above).  Roll up the bread tightly, starting on the filling end.  Do this with all the bread pieces.
3.  Whisk the egg and milk together in a loaf pan.  In another loaf pan combine the sugar and cinnamon.
4.  In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  When skillet is ready, use tongs to dip roll-ups one at a time into the egg mixture, allowing the excess to drip off.  Place in hot, buttered skillet and cook on all sides until golden brown.  Cook just a few at a time so you can keep an eye on them.
5.  When each roll-up is done, remove it from the pan with tongs and roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Serve warm with maple syrup, or even just plain!

Source:  It's made the rounds on Pinterest but I found it on Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Mormon Morsels: He Is the Christ

I am late posting for today, but wanted to get something up here that just really spoke to me today in one of our lessons. It was a quote from Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith, former president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He had such a sweet and powerful testimony of our Savior. You can read more about it HERE, but this he shared to the world about how we, as Mormons, feel about our Savior:

"May I say, as plainly and as forcefully as I can, that we believe in Christ. We accept him without reservation as the Son of God and the Savior of the world."

Amen, Pres. Smith.  Amen.

Image from

Friday, January 17, 2014

Easy Whole Wheat Waffles (Dairy Free)

I have used this recipe for 12 years because it is so simple and easy!  My kids love it with frozen berries and hot syrup on top (We usually make our own syrup).

3 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 Tbl. Baking Powder
1 Tsp. Salt
1/4 Cup Oil (I use EVOO and we like it but if that doesn't fit your taste buds another healthy alternative is Coconut Oil)
3 Eggs
3 Cups Water

If you like your waffles a little sweet you can add:
A squeeze of honey (I probably use about 2 tsp. worth), or one mashed Banana

Mix all ingredients together and cook in greased waffle iron.  Serve hot.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sausage Okra Gumbo

Today I am sharing a family favorite recipe that gets rave reviews no matter when I serve it.  Just had it the other night--8 of us for dinner and I doubled the recipe and had one serving left.  Yeah, that good.  I substituted the pork sausages with Hillshire Farms Turkey Kielbasa.  Actually, I never make this with pork sausage because Mom always made it with Hillshire Farms Kielbasa.  So enjoy the kielbasa!  Don't you love saying that word?  Kielbasa, kielbasa, kielbasa...

1 1/2 lbs. smoked country-style pork sausage (or you can use...wait for it...kielbasa!)
2-3 T. butter
3 T. flour
2 cups chicken broth
18-oz. frozen gumbo vegetables*
14-oz. can of tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 t. salt (you may want to adjust down, depending on how salty your meat choice is)
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. ground red pepper
2 t. gumbo file powder, opt** (I use 1 T. Old Bay Seafood Seasoning)
3 cups hot, cooked rice

1.  Cover sausages with water and cook for 10 minutes in a covered Dutch oven or large pot.  Drain; cut sausages into 1-inch pieces and set aside. (Probably not necessary to boil the kielbasa.  What do you think?)
2.  Melt the butter in the Dutch oven.  Add flour and cook, stirring, until mixture is deep brown. 
3.  Add broth, vegetables, tomatoes, garlic powder, salt, red pepper and sausages.  bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
4.  Remove from heat; add file.  Do not boil once file has been added. (I don't know why, do you?)
5.  Ladle gumbo into bowls and top with a scoop of rice.
* You can use a combination of okra, corn, onions, celery and sweet red pepper instead of the frozen vegetables.
** You can use 1/2 t. leaf thyme and 1 bay leaf.  Add with the broth and vegetables.  Remove bay leaf before serving.

Source:  Pat Brew, Brew Family Cook Book, 1st Edition.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Italian Love Cake

    When I think about what cooking was like before the internet, I feel flabbergasted (and old) by how different my culinary experience is. When I went to college, I took my little 3x5 card file with a few of my favorite recipes that I hand copied from my Mother's stash. Now you can find any recipe complete with reviews and ratings. Pinterest has also been a great source and that is where I found this little gem. Dare I say life-changing? I just might. This is an easy cake that looks and tastes very impressive! You can play with the flavors by changing the cake mix base, but Chocolate is still my favorite. The interesting thing about this cake is how the layers trade places while it cooks. A little bit of culinary magic.

Italian Love Cake

  • 1 package chocolate cake mix with all other ingredients to prepare according to package (most sites recommend Betty Crocker Brand)
  • 2 lbs. ricotta cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1  package instant chocolate pudding mix (5.1 oz.)
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 8 oz. Cool Whip or other prepared whipped topping
  1. Preheat your oven to 350*.F Spray a 9×13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, mix together cake mix according to the directions on the box. Set aside.
  3. In another bow, using a hand mixer, beat together the ricotta cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
  4. *The following directions are correct. The layers switch during the baking time!
  5. Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking dish. Spread to fill the pan evenly. Once the cake batter is in place, carefully pour the cheese mixture evenly over the top of the cake batter. Spread to cover the cake batter.
  6. Bake the cake at 350* for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  7. Once the cake is cool, stir the pudding mix and milk together with a whisk until combined. Carefully, fold the Cool Whip into the pudding until combined.
  8. Spread the pudding mixture over the top of the cooled cake. Cover the cake and refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving. It tastes even better the next day.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pink Grapefruit Smoothie


pink or ruby red grapefruit, peeled, membrane removed
1 banana
1 c. frozen strawberries
1/2 c. orange juice, chilled


Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.   You may find a whole grapefruit is too sour for your taste buds so add half first and do a taste test to see if it needs more.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Quick and Easy Beef Stew Soup

There's nothing more comforting on cold days that a warm bowl of delicious soup! This is a recipe I make all of the time because it is so fast and easy, especially of you are using canned food or dehydrated or freeze dried food. And you know me, I don't measure anything when I am cooking, and I make abnormally large pots of soup, so this will be a different kind of recipe can make as little or as much as you'd like. I think you will love this soup!!

Here are the ingredients that I throw in a big pot: (Use whatever amount you like. See my notes.)

Beef bouillon cubes or granules
Salt, Pepper
Tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes (or any kind of tomato product you like to use. I like a quart of home canned plain tomato juice from the garden)
Onions (freshly diced, or dried)
Potatoes, diced
Carrots, cut (fresh or canned)
Barley (optional)
Beef (fresh, canned, or freeze dried)

1. I fill the pot with almost as much water as I would like to have soup. Did that make sense? I also add the tomato juice, sauce or crushed tomatoes....whatever tomato product you like. You can also use tomato powder. Turn it on and start it boiling while you get everything else ready to add in.

2. Add some bouillon cubes or granules to taste. And some salt and pepper.

3. Throw in the onion. I always use dried onions. Use as many or as little as you'd like. 

4. Put in your carrots. I grew carrots and canned them, but I also have used store bought canned carrots, or fresh sliced. 

5. Cut up as many potatoes as you would like. I usually think of at least one good sized potato per person and I double it. (I feed teenage boys!)

6. Add the beef. Most of the time I use a few cans of the yummy canned beef from Aldi's. It comes with a gravy, and I add all of it to the soup. You can cut up raw beef and throw it right into the soup. Or you can use freeze dried beef and throw it right into the soup. It turns out great either way.

7. I really love barley. so most of the time I add a little barley to this soup.For my very huge pot of soup, I only add about 1 1/2 cups, so you may want to add about 1/2 cup at the most. Barley absorbs a lot of water, so make sure you have enough water in the soup as the barley cooks. Add more water if needed.

8. Make sure the soup has enough salt while it is cooking. If it doesn't, add more salt or bouillon.

9. Let the soup simmer on medium high until potatoes are done. Serve with crusty bread. YUM!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Look Not Behind Thee

It's a new year.

And of course, we all have at least thought about what our goals are for 2014.  Sometimes we may not want to even try for goals because we have experienced failure in the past.  Maybe we are bitter at where life has "brought" us up to this point.  Maybe we can't let the past go.

But we should remember this:
Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.  --Henry Ford
Lot's wife had the opportunity to begin again.  She didn't take it.  Really, she didn't just "look" back, she yearned for what she didn't want to leave behind.  She had comfort there and was unwilling to leave that comfort zone.  She had no faith in what the Lord had in store for her.

What comfort zone are we wrapped up snugly in?  And why are we so unwilling to leave it for frontiers unknown?  What are we afraid of?  Failure?  Pain?  Disappointment?

We must make a choice between suffering the pain of making mistakes (often inaccurately equated with failure) or the pain of regret.  I mean, let's face it....that's the choice.  Because none of us will pursue a goal without making mistakes.  But nearly every worthy goal left unpursued will become a regret.
If we fail to give our best personal self and undivided time to those who are truly important to us, one day we will regret it.  --Dieter F. Uchtdorf
This quote applies not only to loved ones but to ourselves.  We should be truly important to ourselves!  And if we don't give our best personal selves TO ourselves in order to achieve our goals, we will be filled with regret and remorse.

As we give our best selves to ourselves and our loved ones, let's remember to be kind to us.  Let's remember that we improve ourselves in small, consistent ways.  Progress, not perfection.   Steady, persistent improvements in our lives will yield amazing results.

My grandfather used to love to ask me this question:  If I paid you a penny the first day but doubled that pay each day after that for a whole month would you work for me?   The total after 30 days is $5,368,709.12!!!!  But it all started with one little penny.

Go ahead.  Invest a penny in 2014.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cabbage and Kale Salad

So, there is this salad mix that you can get from Costco. I decided I would attempt my own version.

Really easy, super crisp, sweet and tangy. There aren't any measurements, just make as much or as little as you want.

Cabbage and Kale Salad

Green cabbage (red as well, if you choose)
dried cranberries
pumpkin seed kernels
Brianna's Poppy Seed dressing

Wash and finely chop the cabbage.
Wash, remove ribs and roughly chop the kale.
Lightly toast the pumpkin kernels in a skillet
Add everything to a bowl. Pour some dressing over top. Toss it all together.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chicken & Broccoli Casserole

I got this great recipe from a good friend named Ginni.  I do things differently with it from time to time, but it is still basically the same. Its all good.  You can not go wrong with this one. Its simple, tastes great, comforting, and all in one dish!  Enjoy!

1 box Chicken Flavored Stovetop Stuffing Mix. Prepared according to package directions.
3 chicken breasts, cooked the way you like it (I grill it.) chopped into bite sized pieces
1 head of broccoli, cleaned and cooked until it looses some of the crunch, cut into bite sized pieces.
1 can cream of chicken
1 can cream of mushroom
1 cup water, or milk
Swiss cheese slices

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray your baking dish. I use an 11x7 size dish. Spread out your Chicken flavored Stovetop Stuffing on the bottom of the baking dish.  I usually spoon in the stuffing and then wit  a wet spoon I spread it out a bit until the bottom of the dish is covered.  Sprinkle the chicken over the stuffing evenly.   Sprinkle the broccoli over the chicken. then in a separate bowl pour in the cream of chicken and the cream of mushroom soup. add the cup of water and stir until incorporated. Continue to add water until the mixture is pourable. Pour the mixture over the casserole. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay swiss cheese slices over the top of the casserole. Bake at 375 for about 25-30 minutes. Watch that the cheese doesn't brown too much. You can always turn it down or cover it with tin foil.

Original recipe by Ginni White

Monday, January 6, 2014

Apple Cider Punch

6 cups apple cider or apple juice
2 cups orange juice, cranberry-raspberry juice, or orange-mango juice
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 750-milliliter bottle sparkling white grape juice

1.  Combine the apple cider, orange juice, and lemon juice.  Store in fridge until ready to serve.
2.  Just before serving pour juice mixture into punch bowl or beverage dispenser.  Add sparkling grape juice and stir well.

Source:  Better Homes & Gardens

Sunday, January 5, 2014

"True and Faithful"

I have a connection to the 10th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I was born on his birthday, July 19th (a mere 88 years after his 1876 birth).  I am excited to study his teachings this year in Relief Society.  As I was perusing the first lesson in the new manual for our 2014 course of study, I read the following the words:

Taken from the manual, Teachings of Presidents of the Church:  Joseph Fielding Smith, "President Joseph Fielding Smith 'used three words that I can never forget, ' recalled President Gordon B. Hinckley.  Those words were "true and faithful.'  President Hinckley said, "In his public addresses, in his private conversation, in his prayers to the Lord, he pleaded that we might be true and faithful."  President Thomas S. Monson shared a similar memory:  "Even in his advanced years, [he] always prayed, 'May we be true and faithful to the end.'"

My initial reaction was, "huh, that's not what I was expecting".  Then it hit me!  President Smith had been born into a family that had experienced many dramatic events in the history of the church.  His grandfather, Hyrum Smith, was martryed alongside his brother Joseph Smith  (the founder) of the Mormon church.  His father, Joseph F. Smith, was only 5 years old when his father was martyred and helped his family migrate to Salt Lake City across the plains.  His mother, Julina Smith, came from pioneer stock as well.  His heritage was rich indeed.  Therefore, being "true and faithful" was a magnanimous task yet so pertinent and straightforward to the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I began to ponder how my life could be changed for the better if I were to put those 3 words to the test.  I desire to be "true and faithful" to the end.  I decided to make these 3 words part of my New Year.  May we all be found striving to be "true and faithful".