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.

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!

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!

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!



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


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


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


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.


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.


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

"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!

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

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

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!

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)


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!


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:
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.