Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Ham & Veggie Skillet Dinner

I am forever throwing stuff together into a skillet and seeing how it cooks up.  Seriously.  Do you do this, too?  I had some produce I needed to use up and some Thrive Ham Dices that I needed to use, so I just kind of cut it all up and came up with today's post.  It was really good!  And filling!  And healthy!  The meal trifecta.


Fresh Zucchini, cut up 
Fresh Red Bell Pepper, cut up
Fresh Cherry Tomatoes, halved
Thrive Ham Dices or any diced ham
Olive Oil
All Purpose Seasoning
Sea Salt
Feta Cheese

Heat up olive oil in a medium to large skillet.  Add all ingredients except cheese.  Saute until veggies are cooked, but not mushy.  Add in Feta Cheese and stir to combine.  Serve.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Chocolate Raspberry Shortcakes

If you like a light, not too sweet dessert, this one is for you.  Be forewarned: this is not a sweet, fudgy cookie.  Super easy to put together, this recipe uses Thrive Foods right from your home store.  I made the whipped topping earlier in the day and put the rest of it together after work, along with making the rest of the meal, and in time for supper with friends.


For the shortcakes:
  1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  1 cup Thrive White Flour *
  1 cup Thrive White Sugar * ( Next time I will add a little more)
  1 1/2 t. baking powder 
  1/2 t. Thrive Baking Soda *
  1/4 t.Thrive Salt *
  4 T. cold butter, cubed (original recipe calls for unsalted.  I will do that next time.)
  1/2 cup heavy cream

For the raspberry filling:
  3 cups Thrive Raspberries (freeze dried)
  2 T. Thrive White Sugar, or to taste
  2 t. vanilla extract
      Vanilla Whipped Topping (future post) or whipped topping of choice

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2.  To make the shortcakes:  In a large mixing bowl, sift together the  cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Cut in the cold butter with a fork or pastry cutter.  Blend the mixture until it resembles a coarse meal.  Add the heavy cream and stir the mixture with a fork until it forms a dough.

3.  Roll out the dough on a floured surface (should be 1/4 inch thick).  Using a biscuit cutter, cut out 4 shortcakes (depending on the size of biscuit cutter you use, you will end up with more shortcakes than what you need for this recipe).  Place shortcakes on a lightly greased baking sheet (I used a reusable parchment sheet), and bake for 12 minutes (a toothpick placed in center should come out clean).  Put the shortcakes on a wire rack to cool.

4.  In a small bowl, cover the raspberries with warm water.  Let sit for about 5-10 minutes until softened and rehydrated.  Drain.  In another bowl mash 3/4 cup of the raspberries with a fork, stirring in the white sugar and vanilla.  Blend in the remaining raspberries.

5.  Carefully cut the shortcakes in half horizontally with a serrated knife--this was surprisingly easy to do.  Transfer the bottom half of each cake to an individual plate.  Place a spoonful of the raspberry sauce and a spoonful of vanilla topping on each bottom piece.  Place the top parts on each dessert and dust with powdered sugar, if desired.  Or maybe use clear sugar sprinkles!  Yes, next time I am trying that idea.

*  I am finding ways to "Thrive-alize" recipes in order to use Thrive items from my home store.  You can still use your regular store-bought items for this recipe.

SOURCE:  Thrive Cookbook

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mom's Potato Salad

This recipe originally posted on May 8, 2014.  In memory of our Mom who passed away on June 5 of this year, and because today is our parents' anniversary, I am reposting this family favorite recipe.  Enjoy!

Hey, you know Julie posted a potato salad recipe back here and explained that we grew up in a different potato salad culture.  I, too, am a potato salad snob.  Mom's recipe trumps all others in my world.  I realize your world may include eggs, or you might like to smash up the spuds.  Whatever floats your boat.  I was feeling nostalgic this Easter and decided to pull out Mom's recipe, much to the delight of my family.  I had no idea they liked it so much!  Guess I will have to make it more often.  So, Moms' recipe in Grandma's retro Pyrex bowl.  Sweet memories.

5 lbs. potatoes, boiled in salted water & peeled & cubed (love the cubes--it's a texture thing)
1 lg. green bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion chopped
1 tsp. celery seed
3 small jars diced pimiento, drained
1 1/4 cup Miracle Whip (no, not mayo, please.  not for this.)
4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. prepared mustard

1.  Peel the potatoes, place in large pot and cover with water.  Bring water to boiling and cook until just tender.  No mushy spuds here!  Let cool, then cut into bite-size cubes.  Place in a large serving bowl.
2.  Add the green pepper and pimientos to the cooled spuds (I say spuds a lot.  My first two years in college were spent in Idaho.)
3.  Combine the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well.  This is your dressing.  Add to the...wait for it....spuds and friends.  Toss together gently with rubber spatula to make sure the dressing is evenly distributed.

Source: Pat Brew Recipes.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Quick Po' Boy Sandwich

Have you ever eaten a Po' Boy sandwich?  I have had one in my entire life.  This past week we spent a few days at the beach and of course had to hit a local seafood joint to get me some shrimp!  I brought the leftovers back to the beach house.  Mostly I just ate the cold shrimp right out of the take-out carton, but one day I was thinking I should be a little more creative.  And here you have another tasty concoction from leftovers...


Hamburger Bun (or a baguette or other kind of roll of choice)
Leftover shrimp
Lettuce, shredded
Mayo or mustard

Assemble your sandwich and enjoy.  Po' Boys can be made of different kinds of items, so be creative!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Tomato & Corn Salad

Isn't it fun to be creative with your leftovers?  Recently I served Slow Cooker Roast Beef, garden peas, sweet corn, and mashed potatoes for dinner when two of our missionaries from church joined us for supper.  Comfort food.  Real food.  Surprisingly, there were some leftovers of the vegetables so I used them for sides with my next meal which was a Thrive Express Meal of Fettuccine Alfredo.  (future post, so stay tuned).  I put the peas in with the Fettuccine.  That was yummy.  For the corn, I decided to combine that with some grape tomatoes that I needed to use up and added a few more things to dress it up.  So that is how we get this recipe.


grape tomatoes, as many as you want
Mozarella cheese, shredded
Red Wine Vinegar
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients except the salt, and toss.  Taste and then add salt as needed and toss again.
Serve cold.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Daughters of Our Eternal Father

As busy, stressed, stretched--but continually faithful--women, we sometimes wonder if what we are doing is enough and if we are enough.  The Visiting Teaching message for the month of April assures us that we are each "a beloved spirit...daughter of heavenly parents."  I am glad I get to share this with you today, because in a couple of hours I am going to visit one of the women in my congregation that I have been given stewardship over as a fellow sister in the gospel.

Here is part of the message that particularly inspired me:

“In [the premortal] realm, we learned about our eternal female identity,” said Carole M. Stephens, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency.
“Our mortal journey to earth did not change those truths.”2
“Your Father in Heaven knows your name and knows your circumstance,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “He hears your prayers. He knows your hopes and dreams, including your fears and frustrations.”3
“We each belong to and are needed in the family of God,” said Sister Stephens. “Earthly families all look different. And while we do the best we can to create strong traditional families, membership in the family of God is not contingent upon any kind of status—marital status, parental status, financial status, social status, or even the kind of status we post on social media.”4
Image from LDS.org

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Removing Burnt-on Food from Ceramic Cook Top

You will have to trust me on this one.  I had a yucky, stubborn black, burnt blob--well, in the shape of a blob but by now it just looked like a stain-- on my ceramic cook top.  I have been trying everything to remove that.  Needless to say, the "Ceramic Cook Top Cleaner" didn't do the trick.  Where do you turn to find everything you need to know about everything?  I mean besides Pinterest.  GOOGLE!!  I found a list of possibilities so clicked on one and watched the YouTube video. Yeah, not too crazy about that one.  Clicked on the next one and BINGO. Tried it out. NAILED IT!!!  For real, with stuff I already had at home.  Sure wish I could have thought to take a BEFORE shot, but who knew this would work so well that I would want to share it with the world?

You will need:
Small Dish
Baking soda
Lemon juice

Microfiber cloth

1.  Mix a paste of baking soda and water in a small dish.  It should be the consistency of toothpaste.
2.  Spread the paste over the burnt area and allow it to set for about 12 minutes.  Do not allow to sit too long or it will dry out.  Really it will.
3.  Pour a little lemon juice (bottled worked for me!) over the paste and let it fizz to help release tougher stains.
4.  After 12 minutes, gently scrub the area with a soft cloth or plastic scrubber.  Do not use anything abrasive or it will scratch the surface.  Found that out the hard way one time.
5.  Repeat as necessary until food is gone.  GONE I tell you!  So happy right now.

6.  Clean off surface with a wet cloth or paper towel.

Source:  How to Clean Stuff

Monday, May 23, 2016

Baklava Cookies

My first bite of these cookies, warm out of the heaven, was a heavenly experience!  You just gotta eat 'em warm.  They're still good once they've cooled, but warm? Holy Macaroni!--as my 7-year old would say. :)

To learn more about how you can get Thrive ingredients in YOUR kitchen, visit my website.

(This pic was submitted by me to the Thrive Life recipe site and is labelled with my Thrive Life website url.)

6 tbsp. butter
 3/4 c. THRIVE Powdered Sugar
 5 tbsp. THRIVE Honey Crystals
1 tbsp. water
1 c. almonds or walnuts, finely chopped
 1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
 1 c. butter, softened
 2 tbsp. water
 1 egg
 3 1/3 c. THRIVE Vanilla Sugar Cookie Mix

1. In a small saucepan, melt the 6 T. of butter over low heat. Stir in the powdered sugar, honey crystals, and 1 T. of water.
2. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and add nuts and cinnamon. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
4. In a mixer, cream the 1 cup of butter for a few minutes until smooth and fluffy. Add in 2 T. water and egg and mix well, scraping down sides part way through.
5. Add in the sugar cookie mix. Mix well, until dough begins to clean the sides of the bowl.
6. Using a 1.25"-diameter cookie scoop, place cookie dough on cookie sheet leaving 2" spacing around each cookie.
7. Bake for 10 minutes.
8. Remove cookie sheet from oven and top each cookie with 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon of the nut mixture.
9. Return cookies to oven and bake for 3 minutes.
10. Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes, then remove cookies to a wire rack to cool.

To use this recipe without Thrive cookie mix, substitute your own cookie recipe, mix, or dough for the last four ingredients.  To use without Thrive honey crystals, use 4-5 tablespoons of honey.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lemon-Guava Pound Cake

My mother-in-law made some yummy cakes, but this one is my favorite because it is so different from other pound cakes.  Her original recipe (a special shout-out to my sister-in-law Gayle for providing the recipe since Verna Mae kept recipes in her head!) is Lemon-Apricot Pound Cake, but one time I had some guava nectar at the house that I needed to use and I thought I would try it with this recipe.  Oh goodness.  So moist and delicious.  I. Can't. Even.


1/2 cup sugar
1 Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme Cake Mix
3/4 cup coconut oil (or Crisco oil)
1 cup guava nectar (or apricot)
4 eggs


2 cups powdered sugar
juice from 2 lemons*

1.  Mix cake, sugar, oil and nectar together.  Add eggs one at a time.  
2.  Bake in a greased tube or bundt pan at 325 degrees F. for approximately 1 hour.
3.  Mix glaze ingredients and pour over warm cake.

NOTE:  I had no lemons when I made this today, so I substituted a few drops of lemon essential oil, about a tablespoon of leftover guava nectar and enough milk to get the glaze consistency that I needed.  Goodness, that was some tasty stuff!

Source: Verna Smith Jenkins.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Decadent Skillet Cookie

Don't those cookie skillet desserts at your favorite restaurants look amazing?  Sometimes they actually taste amazing too, but sometimes that little skillet is a fake!  Make the real deal with this easy, decadent recipe.

You may even get a "this is one of the best desserts I've ever had" compliment like I did tonight!
(To learn more about using Thrive foods in your cooking, visit my Thrive online store.
To view all my Thrive recipes, visit my "chef page" on the Thrive recipe site.)

1 c. butter, softened
 3 1/3 c. THRIVE Classic Cookie Dough Mix
 2 1/2 tbsp. water
 1 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
 9 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
 1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce 
 1/4 c. butter
 1 1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
 3/4 c. THRIVE Cane Sugar
 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
 1/4 c. heavy cream
 1/8 tsp. THRIVE Iodized Salt
 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Peanut Butter Sauce 
 1 c. Creamy Peanut Butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream butter in mixer until light and fluffy. Add in cookie dough mix and water and mix well. Add in 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips and mix until chips are well distributed.
3. Divide dough in half. Place half into greased cast iron skillet, patting to spread dough evenly across bottom and up the sides a little.
4. Place unwrapped Reese's cups atop the cookie dough. Fill in the spaces between the peanut butter cups with the 1 cup of chocolate chips. Place the remaining cookie dough over the top, spreading evenly to cover.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until edges are brown.

1. To make the chocolate sauce, melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate together in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
2. Add sugar, cocoa, heavy cream, and salt. Stir until combined.
3. Bring slowly to a low boil, stirring only once or twice to make sure sugar has dissolved.
4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

To "make" peanut butter sauce, place peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30-45 seconds until peanut butter is runny.

To Serve
1.  Scoop out some cookie, top with ice cream and sauces. Serve immediately.
2. Prepare yourself to receive praise.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Sometimes I like to share recipes that help me use my Thrive foods from my Home Store.  It is always a good idea to "store what you eat and eat what you store."  I threw together this meal in record time thanks to the cooked ground beef and some other Thrive ingredients that I had on hand.  This recipe was a huge hit.  I had one serving left, only because I had taken some out to get a picture for the blog.  I didn't use that one and used my filled plate instead.


2 cups THRIVE Cooked Beef, Ground
1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup THRIVE Instant Milk, re-hydrated (3/4 T. powder + 1/4 cup water)
2 T. THRIVE Chopped Onions (FD--freeze-dried)
1 t. THRIVE Iodized Salt
1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 THRIVE Whole Egg, re-hydrated (1 T. powder + 2 T. water)
1/2 cup THRIVE Brown Sugar, packed (I just used brown sugar from the store)
1 T. cornstarch
1 20-oz. can pineapple tidbits with juice
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 T. soy sauce
1/8 cup THRIVE Mixed Bell Peppers
5 cups THRIVE White Rice, prepared (I used rice from the store)

1.  Re-hydrate freeze-dried meat by bringing 4 cups water to a boil.  Add beef and boil for 5 minutes. Drain excess water.

2.  Mix meat, dry bread crumbs, milk, onions, salt, Worcestershire sauce, and egg together; shape into twenty 1 1/2 inch sized balls.*

3.  Place in skillet and cook over medium heat, turning occasionally until brown (about 20 minutes) OR (and this is what I did, so I could be working on something else like setting the table) Bake in an ungreased 9 X 13 pan at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, until light brown.

4.  Mix brown sugar and cornstarch in a skillet.  stir in pineapple with juice, vinegar, and soy sauce.
Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium, then add meatballs and peppers.

5.  Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes.  Serve over cooked rice.

* I made my meatballs ahead of time, put them in the fridge, and then baked them when I got home from work.  They are quick to come together anyway, because the ground beef comes precooked, but any little thing I can do ahead of time is good when you work until 5:00 and your guests are coming at 6:00, you know?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Oriental Chicken Salad with Crunchy Noodles

Ramen!  I don't think they had this when I was a poor college student, but it sure has become popular over the years.  My first experience with it was in a delicious salad a friend shared at a church dinner.  I was mesmerized and asked for the recipe.  Which I could not find this week, so I googled and found this recipe.  It's a little different than my friend's but it's a variation on the same theme.  I made some changes to this recipe and it proved to be delish!

Ingredients for Salad:

2-3 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts (I used Thrive chicken, rehydrated)
1 head of cabbage, shredded or chopped (I opted for Broccoli slaw, 2 12-oz. pkgs.)
1 bunch green onion, finely chopped (Thrive chopped green onion, rehydrated)
2 2.5-oz. pkgs. slivered almonds
3 T. sunflower seeds, shelled of course
1 can Mandarin oranges, drained well
2 pkgs. Ramen noodles
3 T. vegetable oil


3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
4 1/2 T. seasoned rice vinegar
4 1/2 T. sugar
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper

1.  Prepare dressing and set aside.
2.  Smash Ramen noodles, removing seasoning packets (save to flavor something else sometime) and brown over medium heat in 3 T. oil--I used olive oil here because I used all of my canola oil in the dressing.
3.  Once noodles are slightly browned, add the almonds. Brown until noodles are a medium golden brown.  Remove from heat and set aside.
4.  Combine cabbage, green onions, chicken and sunflower seeds in a large bowl.
5.  Add Ramen/almond mixture and stir well.
6.  Add dressing and stir to coat.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Pesto Chicken Pizza

Originally posted on 4/24/14.

Hey, this is my contribution to throw-back Thursday!  As I was reading through the recipe again I got really hungry.  Might have to get the grandsons over to help me make this again really soon.

Not an original recipe (see source below) but we all get to tweak away at someone else's in this recipe blog world, don't we?  This is a great quickie dinner that you can throw together in about 30 minutes or so if you have the ingredients on hand.  Or you can just send your daughter and her fiance out to the grocery store to get the stuff for you while you clean off the kitchen island so that there is room to actually EAT there.
Pizza Dough (home- or ready-made)
Basil Pesto
Cooked Chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken from my local grocery store)
Shredded mozzarella cheese
1.  Preheat oven to temperature for your pizza dough.
2.  Spread dough onto pan or pizza stone; sprinkle corn meal on pan first so your pizza doesn't stick.
3.  An extra step if you are using the refrigerated dough, is to pre-bake it for 6-8 minutes before adding your toppings.
4.  Spread pesto, chicken and cheese over the crust.
5.  Bake for suggested time for dough, about 8-10 minutes.
Adding a salad would be a great idea.
Source:  Shawni Pothier, 71 Toes Blog.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fish Tacos with Lime Sauce

Who doesn't love a good fish taco?  They can be hard to find--can't stand when they are too fishy.  The tilapia in this recipe is so mild you will swear you are eating chicken.  I kept snatching nuggets and snacking on them while I was frying up the other batches.  A nice healthy alternative to fast food tacos.  Now, authentic Mexican tacos...that's another thing all together.


1 lb. fresh tilapia fillets
3 limes (I used Thrive Limeade powder instead--a tsp. or so should be enough.)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 t. chili powder
2 T. olive oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
8 6-inch flour tortillas
1 cup shredded angel hair cabbage (I prefer it thin)
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, thinly sliced

1.  Rinse fish and pat dry.  Cut into 1-inch pieces.
2.  For lime sauce, juice two of the limes into a bowl (cut your 3rd lime into wedges for serving).  Stir mayonnaise and chili powder into juice.  Transfer 1/3 cup of the sauce to another bowl; toss fish in this.  Set remaining sauce aside.
3.  In a medium to large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Combine flour and salt in a shallow dish.  Work with about 1/3 of the fish chunks at a time, toss them in the flour and add to hot oil.  Cook for 2-4 minutes or until fish flakes easily, turning to brown evenly.  Add more oil as needed.  Drain fish on paper towels.
4.  Wrap tortillas in paper towels (loved this.  worked great!); heat in microwave oven for 30 seconds.  Top tortillas with fish, cabbage, carrots and jalapeno.  Drizzle with Lime Sauce.  Serve with lime wedges.

NOTES:  Add lime juice to mayo gradually and to taste.  Thrive Limeade powder is available seasonally, so may not be listed on my consultant site.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Brownie Cookies

There is this bakery in town that has some of the most delicious goodies out there.  And their sandwiches and salads are pretty darn good, too.  Anyway, one of my favorites things there is their brownie cookie.  Oh my crispy, chewy goodness.  Yes, very good.  I don't have a recipe to make them at home, but I do have a box of brownie mix--with a brownie cookie recipe right on the box, baby!  Just thought I would try those out and they did not disappoint.  Try some for yourself with your own brownie mix or recipe.  The only difference is to cut down on the oil.  And of course, you don't bake the cookies as long as the brownies. That would not be a good thing, at all.

1 pkg. brownie mix
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
1 T. water
chopped nuts pecans (we always add these to brownies)

1.  Make mix according to directions on the box.
2.  Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheet.  Definitely use this measurement.  The first time I made these I used a small cookie scoop and they were too big and ran together.
3.  Bake at 325 degrees for 12-14 minutes, until the edges have crisped.  Don't over bake.
4.  Cool on wire rack.
5.  Enjoy!

Here's a tip!  Melt peanut butter in the microwave and drizzle over your cookie.  My son-in-law was at the house when I baked this batch, and he requested the peanut butter.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

More Meaningful Prayer

I don't know about you, but I have always struggled with having a daily, meaningful prayer life.  My parents tried to instill regular prayer into our lives as a family, but we were not always as supportive to them and consistent as we could have been.  How do you make take the time in your life for this vital communication with a loving Heavenly Father?  Please comment and share with us, if you would like to. 

For me, reading over some  highlights from our recent LDS General Conference helped me today as I was trying to figure out a thought to share with you.  This has a lot of truth to it, when you think about how our prayers can be at times, or all of the time.  I am really going to work on this--it's definitely a crucial building block for increased spirituality in our lives.
“We need to pray from our hearts. Polite recitations of past and upcoming activities, punctuated with some requests for blessings, cannot constitute the kind of communing with God that brings enduring power. Are you willing to pray to know how to pray for more power? The Lord will teach you.”

Image from LDS.org

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Shawarma-jo Tacos

Thank you, Disney Cruise Line!

 Why?  Well, it was there--by the pool deck--that I had my first taste of shawarma.  I thoroughly enjoyed the shaved, slow-roasted chicken with its unusual spice set.  The fresh fixins and delicious garlic aioli made it a special treat.

I've been wanting to figure out how to recreate it but, doggone it, I don't have a roasting spit or the patience for all-day roasting!  And ever since I started using Thrive Life foods, I'm been a little spoiled in the quick meal prep department.  I want it.  And I want it now.

So I combed the internet, looking for just the right recipe to "Thrive-alize".  After a less than stellar attempt, I found a recipe that fit just right.  Thrive's Seasoned Chicken Slices make it super fast.  They are freeze dried and reconstistute quickly.  Once the spices have been added to them, they really only need to heat through!

 Why the funky name?  Well, I thought I'd use my Thrive dough mix to try and simulate naan bread.  Didn't work.  But what happened was a scone-like bread circle that my family has previously used for Navajo Tacos.  So I thought, well.....let's mix the two.  Add a little garlic sauce, and there you go! 

If you don't want to try this recipe with Thrive foods (why wouldn't you, though?  It's so super fast!) then I encourage you to visit the recipe site that I used as a springboard for my Thrive-alized version, Jo Cooks.  And if you don't have time to do the bread, pick up some naan bread in your grocery store.

Give shawarma a try.  Your hunger will be AVENGED!


Taco Bread
 1 1/3 c. hot water
 2 1/4 tsp. THRIVE Instant Dry Yeast
 1 tsp. THRIVE Iodized Salt
 4 c. THRIVE Honey Whole Wheat Dough Mix
Chicken Shawarma
 4 c. THRIVE Seasoned Chicken Slices - Freeze Dried
 2 c. hot water
 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
 1/2 c. Olive Oil
 2 tsp. Paprika
 1/2 tsp. Ground Turmeric
 2 tsp. cumin
 1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
 2 tsp. ground black pepper
 1 tsp. THRIVE Iodized Salt
 4 clv. Garlic, minced
Garlic Yogurt Sauce 
 1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
 1 c. Vegetable Oil
 1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
 6 clv. Garlic, peeled
 1 tsp. THRIVE Iodized Salt
 1 tbsp. THRIVE Parsley
 diced hothouse cucumbers
 halved grape tomatoes
iceberg lettuce, sliced thinly

 Taco Bread 
1. Dissolve yeast in hot water (hot from the tap). Add salt. Whisk. Stir in Thrive dough mix.
2.  Knead for 5 minutes. Lightly cover dough with a little vegetable oil, place in bowl, cover with towel, and allow to rise until dough has doubled in size.
3.  Punch dough down. Divide into 8 equal pieces.
4.  Place nonstick or cast iron skillet on stove on medium heat.
5.  Take one piece of dough, roll into ball, then flatten as thin as possible with your hands. Place on skillet and cook on each side until golden brown and cooked through.
6.  Repeat with remaining dough pieces. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
Chicken Shawarma
1.  Put the chicken into a bowl and add the 2 cups of water. Toss with a spoon every few minutes while you let it reconstitute (about 15 minutes).
2.  Put remaining shawarma ingredients into a small bowl, whisk well, and pour over the chicken (after the chicken has sat for 15 minutes). Toss to coat the chicken well.
3.  Drizzle a little vegetable or olive oil in a large skillet and heat to medium high on the stove. Pour in the chicken and allow it to heat through for about 5 minutes.
Garlic Yogurt Sauce
Place all sauce ingredients in a blender and process for 1-2 minutes. Allow to rest while you prepare the toppings.
Assembling the Tacos
Place a bread circle on a plate and top with some chicken. Add toppings and drizzle with sauce.

This recipe is highly customizable; reduce or increase the shawarma spices as you see fit.
Too much garlic?  Simply reduce.
Want a creamier sauce?  Increase yogurt and decrease oil.
Play around with it and make it your own!

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Try as I might, there are just no words to add to this beautiful message.  Just enjoy, and let it touch your heart on this Easter Sunday.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


This recipe first posted on July 28, 2011.

Since we are getting ready to launch our new blog, I thought it would be fun to share the very first recipe I ever posted.  Haha.  The photo quality isn't all that, and I did have a date stamp on the photo.  Didn't know about PicMonkey back then or I would have cropped that out and done a little more editing!  But still, this is one of my favorite recipes.  Hope you enjoy it again!

(Sorry about the date stamp! I'm a newbie.)

When I left El Paso, TX  9 years ago, one thing I brought back to North Carolina was a good salsa recipe.  I learned how to make it in a Relief Society Homemaking  mini-class (the Relief Society is the women's auxiliary of our church).  I loved our Hispanic members and learned so much from them, including how to make homemade tortillas.  This recipe started there, but I have tweaked it along the way.

6-8 roma tomatoes
1-2 fresh jalapenos
1 clove garlic, minced
Fresh cilantro (I use a handful)
Lime juice, to taste
Salt, to taste

1.  Roast the tomatoes and jalapenos in the oven until skins are nice and crispy.  I put mine in a toaster oven.  Remove from oven and let cool enough to handle them.

2.  Peel the tomatoes and "gut" and de-stem the jalapenos.  If you leave the seeds in the peppers you will have a spicier salsa--muy picosa!

3.  Place tomatoes and jalapenos in a food processor along with the rest of the ingredients and process to desired consistency.  I prefer slightly chunky. You can add water to thin it.

4.  Serve with tortilla chips.

A few tips--a squeeze or two of lime juice is all you need.  Salt to taste, but take into consideration the saltiness of your chips.  I buy a dozen or so jalapenos at a time and roast them and then keep them in the freezer so I can have them on hand when I need a salsa fix or when my sister Amy comes to visit.

"Cool" Tip--I used to waste so much fresh cilantro until I saw a neat thing on an Emeril Legasse show.  Loosely chop the cilantro bunch and distribute into the sections of an ice cube tray.  Lightly fill with water and freeze.  Once frozen, pop cilantro cubes out of tray and store in a Ziplock bag in the freezer.  Easy to pop into soups, pasta sauce, chili, etc. I thaw several cubes out when I am thawing the jalapenos and then they are both ready for the salsa.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Chocolate Bombs

It's the afternoon.  You're dragging.  And you're hungry.  "Is there still ice cream in the freezer?" you think to yourself.  "Wait, no, there's a bag of chips in the pantry!"  Or maybe you're at the office and there's leftover birthday cake in the break room.  Or donuts.  Or both!

Let me introduce you to my secret weapon against those junk food temptations.  I wage war on those moments with this recipe in my arsenal.  I call them....(pause for dramatic effect).....Chocolate Bombs!

Ever since I found this recipe from The Gabriel Method E-Cookbook, it's been my go-to for fighting hunger and snack attacks with a healthy and filling alternative.  One of my most vulnerable times for hunger is Sundays.  I try to eat something right before I leave, but by the time I get home after church (which is three hours long) I am ready to eat the front door!  Armed with a few of these tucked away in my purse or waiting for me in the car, I soothe the hunger beast during the twenty minute drive home.

You could make a breakfast of these if you like; or just snack on them when you need a pick me up or have an afternoon snack attack.  I always have a big glass of water (or water bottle) on hand with these as they are quite the mouthful!

It's the afternoon.  You're dragging.  And you're hungry.  "Chocolate bombs to the rescue!" you shout triumphantly.

1/3 cup almonds
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
unsweetened coconut (to taste)
1 tsp. sesame seeds
4 tsp raw cacao
3 Tbsp almond butter
2 Tbsp coconut palm sugar
1 Tbsp raw cashew butter
5-10 drops liquid stevia
1 tsp cinnamon

1.  Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until the almonds are in very small pieces.
2.  Check the consistency by taking a small amount of the mixture and forming it into a ball.  If it's too crumbly, add more almond or cashew butter in small amounts and process again.  Once it will form a ball, you've gotten it right!
3.  Using your hand or a small cookie scoop, take out tablespoonfuls of the mixture, squeeze if necessary, and roll into a ball in your hands.  
4.  Eat immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Makes about 10-12 bombs, depending on how big you make them

A few notes:
  • The original recipe calls for Tahini in place of cashew butter.  Not a Tahini fan, so I subbed.  The original also called for a teaspoon of stevia but I only had liquid.  For the cacao I increased the amount from 3 teaspoons in the original, to 4.
  • How much coconut you say?  I'm a coconut lover, so I would guess I add 1/4 cup.  This will affect how much extra nut butter you need to add at the end (if any).
  • I love these.  So when I make them, I triple the batch.  Tripling just fits the mixture in my Ninja food processor.
Source:  slightly adapted from the Choc Seed Treat recipe in The Gabriel Method E-Cookbook 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Tending Your Life's Garden

Beautiful roses at Bodnant Garden, Wales
I was a Master Gardener.

Taking the Master Gardener course was exciting.  I just kept thinking, "I'm gonna be a Master Gardener!"  A Master Gardener's garden would surely look amazing--lush, beautiful, and serene.  A Master Gardener's yard would look well-kept and be a beautiful green.  A Master Gardener's veggie garden would be overflowing with perfect produce and fragrant flowers.  If a Master Gardener had acres of land (like I do), her property would look like something on the cover of Country Gardens magazine.

I guess I thought I would come out the other end of the class with magical gardening powers or something.

But I didn't.  

I came out the other end with a lot more book knowledge about gardening, but with no more experience than I had before.  And since that class many years ago, I have yet to achieve any of those gardening dreams.  A combination of life stresses, crazy calendars, and a revulsion for hot and humid Southern summers have been challenging.  And because of all that, I also did not put in the yearly volunteer hours necessary to retain my Master Gardener title.

But couldn't I have steadily improved, even in small increments, even with my crazy schedule and the oppressive summer heat?

Of course I could have.  I just chose not to.  I chose instead to daydream about what my Someday Garden would look like: 
  • once this month is over.
  • once this event is done.
  • once we get back from this trip.
  • once, once, once....
Georgeous water lilies at Bodnant Garden, Wales
This past weekend I attended Time Out for Women in Raleigh NC.  One of my favorite speakers, Jon Bytheway, was one of the first to address us.  He spoke a lot about having roots, about seeds and soil, and then he talked just a little about gardens.

He said that some of the most important events to have ever taken place have been in a garden.  The Garden of Eden.  The Garden of Gethsemane.  The Garden Tomb.  That last one is timely considering the holy day we are about to celebrate next week.  

And I began to think about my spiritual life--my whole life really--as a garden.  If I translated my life, in its current state, into a garden, what would it look like?  As I imagined this garden, I began to feel uncomfortable.  I imagined weeds much too large and much too numerous.  I imagined some plants overgrown and needing dividing while others struggled in their little patch of earth, neglected and withering away.  I saw some points of beauty there too.  

Me in a London park in 2006
But I imagined the gardener as distracted, inconsistent, and a little lazy.  Yes, the gardener is busy; but busy with what?  Is the gardener so preoccuppied with creating a garden art project to hang on the garden wall that she ignores watering the garden?  Is she so consumed with daydreams of what the garden ought to look like that she forgets the work it would take to someday get there?

I realized that both in my actual garden and in my life garden, I have been neglectful.  I have the "book learning" for both.  I know how to garden; I know how to live the gospel.  But am I doing either in an effective way?  

Am I looking for weeds?  
When I find them, am I pulling them out early, before their roots get too deep?
Am I providing nourishment regularly so that no part of the garden begins to suffer?
Am I fertilizing it with rich material that will encourage strong growth?
Am I taking time to appreciate and enjoy the garden?
Do I feel comfortable sharing the garden with others and helping them along their own gardening path?

Today is the first day of spring where I live.  Spring is a time of renewal, growth, and hope.  And it feels like the perfect time for me to get out my gardening gloves and go to work.  

It's time I became a Master Gardener of my life.
Bodnant Garden, Wales

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Spaghetti Pie

You get home from work at 5:15 pm.  Guests are coming for dinner at 6:00 and you are trying yet another new recipe, hoping it's a hit and your guests will come back.  Score!  Back in the 80's my good friend Jill used to make spaghetti pie and I used to have the recipe.  Well, do you think I could find it these many years later?  Google is my best friend and this entry isn't exactly like Jill's, but it is a yummy second.  


6 oz. spaghetti, cooked (I used thin)
2 T. olive oil
2 eggs, well-beaten
3/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1 c. whole milk Ricotta cheese (yes you can use skim, but why?)
1 c. pasta sauce
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

  1. Drain spaghetti well, then put in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil.  Stir in eggs and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
  2. Pour mixture into greased 10-inch pie plate; form into a "crust" by pushing spaghetti up the sides of the plate and forming an indentation in the center.
  3. Spoon Ricotta cheese over the crust.  Top with pasta sauce.  Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 25 minutes.
  4. Top with Mozzarella and remaining Parmesan and bake another 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Cool 10 minutes before cutting.

NOTE:  You can also add veggies to this dish.  I used shredded zucchini that I sauteed with a little onion and put it on top of the Ricotta cheese layer.  Spinach would also be good.

SOURCE:  Sargento

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Italian Elvis Sandwiches

A recipe so weird, I just had to try it.

There I sat, thumbing through who-knows-what outdated magazine at the salon, color setting in my hair.  And I almost didn't read it.  I almost passed right by it.  But when I read the ingredients I couldn't help myself.  I snapped a pic of it with my cell phone and made a mental note to try it soon.

The family was up for it.  (They are adventurous with anything that involves Nutella.)  And when we bravely tried it for the first time, they were not disappointed.  It as a big hit!  And though this dish is a rich, not-every-day kind of food, it gets requested more often than I can tell you (especially from one kid in particular).

So tonight, when we had the missionaries over for dinner and served these for dessert (at the request of that one kid in particular), I remembered...."Oh yeah, I never put this on the blog, did I?"

It only took me a year and a half to remember to share it.  Once you try it, you may not forgive me for waiting so long!  My apologies.....but honestly, you'll be so transported by the unique flavor, you'll forget all about being mad at me.  :)

p.s.....comment below if you get why it's called an Italian Elvis.


8 slices sturdy white bread*
6 strips of crispy bacon, in bit sized pieces
1 ripe banana
8 ounce tub of mascarpone cheese
softened butter
lots of napkins

1.  Heat a griddle or skillet to medium-low heat (like you are making a grilled cheese sandwich, cuz well, you are!).
2.  Place the banana on a dinner plate and mash it well with a fork.  Empty the tub of cheese on top of the mashed banana and use the fork to incorporate the two together.  Set aside.
3.  Butter one side of a slice of bread.  Place this butter-side down on another slice of bread.  Then carefully spread Nutella on top of the slice that's face down with butter.  About 1/8" thick is fine--it's up to you how much you want.  Now place the bacon pieces on top of the Nutella.  (Each sandwich has about 1 1/2 strips of bacon.)
4.  Carefully lift just the Nutella slice of bread and place it butter side down on your griddle or skillet.  Immediately drop some scoops of your banana/cheese mixture on top of the Nutella/bacon and carefully spread it out (it will be about twice as thick as the Nutella).  
5.  Place the other slice of bread on top (you know, the one you used earlier).  Using your flipper/turner/spatula device, gently press down on that top piece.  Then carefully spread some butter on it.
6.  When the bottom slice is golden brown, VERY carefully lift and turn it over to cook on the other side.  All that gooey goodness might make this step a little challenging, but stick with me....it's worth it.
7.  Once the other side is done, lift it out carefully and place it on a flat surface to cool for a minute or two before slicing and eating.

Makes 4 sandwiches

A few notes:
  • Regarding the bread*--super soft white bread will not hold up well to the spreading of Nutella and tends to flatten too much during cooking.  I recommend something like Pepperidge Farm breads, which are delicious and stand up well to this recipe.
  • How many sandwiches this recipe makes will depend a lot on how thick you spread the ingredients on the bread slices.  The amounts listed above reflect my family's preferences and you may need to adjust the recipe based on your own preferences.
  • Where to find mascarpone cheese?  In my grocery store, it's found in the deli department, but if you can't find it, just ask someone at the store.
  • Yes, you do need to have the bacon in pieces.  If you just lay 3 half-strips on bacon down, those suckers will slide right out of the sandwich when you take a bite.  Also, my family prefers it crispy; yours may like it chewier (in which case it's even more important that the bacon be in pieces).
  • Why lots of napkins? You obviously haven't tried to eat one yet.  Go make one, eat it, and then we'll talk.
source:  pretty sure it was out of a Food Network magazine

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Old Settler's Beans

 Make a double batch--there were no leftovers at my house!  Loved by young and old alike, this will be a hit at your next covered dish supper or BBQ.


1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. bacon, cut in small pieces
1 large onion, diced
1 can green butter beans (I think it's probably Lima beans, so that is what I used)
1 can kidney beans
1 can pork & beans, undrained
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup catsup
1/2 T. dry mustard
2 T. molasses
Dash of Worcestershire sauce

1.  In a dutch oven, brown the hamburger, bacon , and onion together.  Do not drain.
2.  Add all the beans and stir together.
3.  Mix the remaining ingredients together and then add to the bean/meat mixture.  Stir to combine.
4.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

NOTE:  This can be cooked over hot coals for about an hour and would be great on a camping trip.

Source:  My friends Tim & Casey Van Buskirk of Tucson, AZ.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Yummy Healthy Spinach Salad

This recipe was shared on Facebook with no title, so I gave it one.  Oh goodness.  Here is a quote from the original post: "This SPINACH-based salad will boost the thyroid gland's output of metabolism-reviving hormones!"


5 oz. fresh spinach (half a 10-oz. bag)
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 15-oz. can mandarin oranges (or fresh Cuties/Halos, or 1 cup pomegranate seeds.  I used the mandarins.)
1 large Granny Smith apple, cut in bite-size pieces
1 t. lemon juice
1/3 cup pecans--I toasted mine in butter and a little sea salt
Optional: Feta cheese & orecchiette pasta (did you know that means little ears?)

Dressing: (I made this separately, in case I needed to adjust the amount I poured on the salad):
4 T. olive oil or vegetable oil
2 T. apple cider vinegar
2 T. white wine vinegar
2-4 t. white sugar (or honey or Stevia to taste)--I used 3 t. sugar
1/8 t. each of paprika, onion powder
1 T. poppy seeds

Just throw it all together and enjoy!

I also added grilled chicken to this.  Makes a great main dish salad that way.

Source:  Tammy Elmore, Facebook, 1/5/16.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fried Corn Cakes

I made these corny, crispy critters to go with some Sausage Okra Gumbo--a perfect pairing with the snow and brisk temperatures provided to us by Winter Storm Jonas.  I am sure you experienced some of the same weather if you are on the East Coast.  So, next time you are snowed in, hunker down with some of these and a nice hot stew or soup.  Or not.  They are good all by themselves.


1 cup fine cornmeal
1 cup water
oil for frying--I used coconut oil
salt to taste
Add-ins (use your imagination) : chopped bacon,  minced onion, chopped green chilies, shredded cheese, etc.

1.  Add water to cornmeal and whatever you decide to throw in there, and stir to combine. You don't even need to add anything.  These are yummy on their own.

2.  Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a skillet to medium-high.

3. Drop corn mixture by tablespoonfuls into hot oil.  Fry until golden brown and flip to brown other side.

4.  Remove from skillet and place on paper towels to drain excess oil.  Lightly salt each side.  You can also add the salt to the mixture before frying, if desired.

These will be crispy on the outer edge and chewy in the middle.  What?!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Broccolini with Chicken

This recipe originally posted on November 7, 2013.  I am cheating today, but now that I look at this dish, I am inspired to make it really soon!

This started out as someone else's recipe but when I couldn't find a key ingredient, I just changed it into my own with a different sauce.  Hope you enjoy it.  It's quick and easy and has some healthiness to it.


1 13-oz. package frozen cheese tortellini, about 3 cups
1 10-oz. package frozen broccoli florets, about 3 cups
2 T. butter
1 1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used the tenders) cut into 1-inch cubes
Creamy Cauliflower Sauce. 

1.  Cook tortellini and broccoli in large pot of boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender.  Drain well.

2.  Melt butter in large skillet on medium-high heat.  Add chicken and stir fry for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

3.  Add chicken to tortellini and broccoli mixture. Gently mix well until chicken is distributed evenly. 

4.  To serve, spoon desired amount of tortellini mixture onto plate and top with the Creamy Cauliflower Sauce or your favorite Marinara.

(Image provided by me. Twice.  For two recipes.  It's all good.)