Saturday, November 5, 2011

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

This post is late in coming, as are all my posts lately.  (Can you use late and lately in the same sentence?)  Any-who..This is one of my husbands favorites.  It's our favorite vegetarian meal and easy peasy.  We like to use fresh tomatoes of course, however, this works very well with canned tomatoes any time of year.  It's so fast to put together that when life gets busy we probably  have it once a week.   It makes a great appetizer as well, as my husband and his brother can tell you.  I think that dh was just having fun showing off his cooking skills to his brother while they visited because we rarely see them.

The recipe is written for either canned or un-canned ingredients.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

1 can or 2 cups Black Beans
1 can or 2 cups Corn
1 can or 1-2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 teas. Cumin
1-2 chopped jalapeno (or preferred hot pepper) peppers - or to taste
Salt to taste

Mix together and serve.

We also often add a dash of vinegar or lime juice, pepper, green or banana peppers. Regular onions if no green are available, but in smaller amount. I have been known to use a few teaspoons of dried cilantro if no fresh is available.

It's great rolled in soft tortillas with all the other fixin's - lettuce, cheese, sour cream... - or as a dip with chips.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Jean Purse

Yet another purse project for my daughter.  She has swapped it for her school bag, good thing they don't have any large text books to carry.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

T-Shirt bags

My daughter and her friends took their cheer camp shirts and made cute purses/bags.    They did it without me so I can't take you through all the steps but they cut off the sleeves and collar tied a little bow around the straps.  Then cut off the bottom hem and cut into the shirt fringes that they tied in knots.   I thought them quite clever.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Harvest Bread

Harvest Time!

I have had both good and bad in the garden this year, some plants growing well, others not so much.  It changes every year and we take what we can get!  But what to do with all that bounty?  So far this summer I have frozen peas and green beans, which because they are earlier have all been used up now, (some of the not so plentiful crops).  I have frozen lots of zucchini and given away lots of zucchini and eaten lots of zucchini and tossed some zucchini.  (I still have more that is probably huge because I haven't ventured to that patch for a week)  We have bottled 15 pints of tomatoes and have more to go this week.  I plan on hot pepper sauce this week too.   Today I made pesto and washed and hung up mint, thai basil, and rosemary to dry.  I still have tons of basil too.  Sadly I have been so busy this summer I have barely used any of it fresh.  Used fresh carrots, (frozen peas) and cantaloupe for dinner tonight.  GALLONS of fresh salsa have been made the past month with ingredients all from the garden. I can barely eat it anymore. 

Can you say Blessed!?

Here is a recipe that is one of my favorites to use this harvest time and all year around since I freeze the zucchini.    It is a recipe I put together myself because I am not a big fan of banana bread plain, or zucchini bread plain, but together they work very well.  This is a big recipe, it makes 4 loaves. I make it in a large bundt pan and two smaller loaf pans.  I feel like it is packed with enough good stuff to balance some of the bad and makes a way better snack for after school than fishy crackers for my kids. It has so many garden goods in it I called it harvest bread.

Nicky's Harvest Bread

1 1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbls vanilla
4 eggs
2 Tbls cinnamon
1/4 teas. nutmeg
1/4 teas. cloves
1 teas. salt
1 1/2 teas. baking soda
1/2 teas baking powder
1 cup shredded apples
1 1/2 cup shredded and drained zucchini
2 or 3 bananas
1 cup shredded carrot
1 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans and walnuts [from mom's garden :) ] )
5 cups flour

Heat oven to 325 deg.

Beat butter and sugars, add vanilla and eggs and beat till incorporated, add cinnamon through baking powder and mix.  Add all veggies and fruit and mix in well.  Mix in flour.  Bake for 1-1/12 hours, until toothpick comes clean.

Here is the tricky part.  Depending on your water content for your veggies, you may need to add more flour,  I find the difference is usually the zucchini, if I use it frozen it is easier to drain a lot of water from it.  Fresh is harder and my batter is usually more watery.  Last time I made it I actually had to put some cups of the batter in a mesh strainer and drain some liquid from it.  It turned out fine as you can see above.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Shannon Yellow

Congratulations Shannon and Michael!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chewy Sugar Cookies

I don't really have time to blog about these cookies except to say that I love them. I just wanted to post this since it's been in my edit box for 3 months. So. Busy. It is America's Test Kitchen recipe.

The only thing negative I have to say is that they are oily. I leave out some but I need to try and leave out more and see if they work. 

I do use a whisk to make them, just like it says, no beaters.  

  • 2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar , plus 1/3 cup for rolling
  • 2 ounces cream cheese , cut into 8 pieces
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter , melted and still warm
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


* 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.
* 2. Place 1½ cups sugar and cream cheese in large bowl. Place remaining 1/3 cup sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate and set aside. Pour warm butter over sugar and cream cheese and whisk to combine (some small lumps of cream cheese will remain but will smooth out later). Whisk in oil until incorporated. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; continue to whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix with rubber spatula until soft homogeneous dough forms.
* 3. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces, about 2 tablespoons each (or use #40 portion scoop). Using hands, roll dough into balls. Working in batches, roll balls in reserved sugar to coat and evenly space on prepared baking sheet, 12 dough balls per sheet. Using bottom of drinking glass, flatten dough balls until 2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle tops evenly with 4 teaspoons of sugar remaining in shallow dish (2 teaspoons per tray), discarding any remaining sugar.
* 4. Bake, 1 tray at a time, until edges are set and just beginning to brown, 11 to 13 minutes, rotating tray after 7 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets 5 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


This is a simple time taker-upper for kids to do.  Find a rock.  Smooth is better.  Take your crayons to it and color very very hard to really coat the rock.  Heat oven to 350 deg.  place rocks on old pan and place in oven, keep watch on them and remove when the crayon has melted and is wet/shiny.  The bigger the rock the longer it takes.   I'm not sure what to do with them when they are done, paper weight or whatnot but it occupies the kiddo's for a bit anyway. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Grape Salad

I realize this picture is not very good but I wanted to share this recipe with you.

It comes from my husbands family (Thanks B for the recipe) and my daughter fell in love with it. So when we had to take a pot luck item recently and I had a bag of grapes that we needed to use it fit the bill. It is easy enough that my daughter made it herself. We left out a little sugar to make it not as sweet. We also only had red grapes on hand.

Grape Salad

2 lbs green grapes
2 lbs red grapes
8 oz sour cream
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla


1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Remove grapes from vine and wash. beat sour cream, softened cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Add grapes and fold together. Mix brown sugar and walnuts and sprinkle over the top of the grapes. Refrigerate a few hours or overnight.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Summer means the kids crafting increases.  Ages 11 and 7 were playing some game and decided they needed to make some stuffy dragons to go along with it.  So they found a picture, traced it on felt and cut and sewed and painted and Voila!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'm still here

Just a quick note to let you know I'm still alive.  Blogger is just at the bottom of my pile and my pile feels so big right now.   I don't know when I'll get back, I'm not tech-fast it takes me a while to get pictures transferred to the computer etc.   I hope soon though.  This week is PTA Convention followed by a concert at The Tabernacle with my women's choir We Also Sing as part of a choir festival on Temple Square.  Our part is on Friday at 6:00 if anyone cares to mosey over.   Cross your fingers for me that I'm only experiencing heightened allergies and not catching my son's cold so I can still sing. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mini Notebooks

My daughter and I had fun making these tiny notebooks. They are quick and easy.  My daughter loves having notebooks to write stuff, from random stuff to diaries and stories.  So I thought she would enjoy this simple craft.

I always get little thoughts like "as soon as I get home I need to find...... and take it to......"  But as soon as I get home I don't remember, I thought maybe if I put it on my key chain I would remember to write it down, then remember it.  So far it hasn't worked.  
First, take a sheet of paper and cut in half long-ways.  Fold that in half long-ways.

Then I start in the middle and do a half fold, and continue with halves until I get an accordion.  
Take a quarter strip, cut long-ways again, from a colored 'cover' paper, (ours was thicker than regular printer paper but not as thick as card stock, I'm sure anything will work)  and measure around your book and cut to length.  You can't just take a quarter of the strip because the layers of the pages add length to the cover. 
Hold the pages together and elmer glue the the edge/side with the most folds.

Then wrap the cover around, pressing on the spine to get it connected and wrap with a rubber band, cross of the band on the open side of the book.  This holds it together while the glue dries and put two little bind marks on the spine.

When dry enough, about an hour or two, remove rubber band and trim edges of book to cut off the folded edges (two sides) so it will allow all the pages to open.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Harvest Soup

Last time I was visiting the little town in Maryland where my husbands parents grew up, or near there anyway, we stopped at what they call the bulk food store.  It's not what I picture as a bulk food store but that doesn't matter.  Its run by some Amish and they pre-package food into bags with their labels and weigh them on really old scales in a back room to get all the bags the same.  I know because I got to visit the little back room because as we went into the store they were spraying for bugs? and instead of turning the sprayer the gentleman doing the spraying sprayed the door and the sidewalk up to it just before and while I was on it.  So I had to touch the door to open it and of course get sprayed with the droplets still coming down.  So I asked if I could wash my hands and they directed me there.  It was HOURS before I could change clothes.  The others had already gotten inside while I settled the kids who didn't want to come in. 

Anyway,  they were out of my favorite salve and the young girl didn't even know what I was talking about but I assured her I had bought it at that store only a few years previously.  They did have another by the same manufacturer that I also use so I just got that.  It's marvelous on burns.    BUT, I did spy a bag containing what they called Harvest Soup.  It was a blend of lentils and rice and wild rice and maybe a couple of other beans.    I bought it along with a few treats for the rest of the long ride.   it was a while before I tried it but I enjoyed it and my family seemed to like it too. 

I've been trying to figure out how to recreate the mix and last time I was at Winco, AKA Bin-heaven, I spied a bin with almost the same mixture.  It wasn't quite the same but I grabbed some, along with a few extra french lentils and some wild rice mix.   I tossed them altogether and voila! I had my mix, although when this mix runs out I will cut down on the rice when I get some more.  Way too high on the ratio.   The mix has about 4 different kinds of lentils, yellow and green split peas, yellow and green dried peas, 2 kinds of wild rice, barley and regular rice, and a handful of misc. beans thrown in.  Like I said the rice is a bit too much and I will just get wild rice next time instead of a rice mix because the lentil part already had some rice in as well.

I put my old chicken carcass in the pot and boiled and picked it clean.  So for this time there wasn't really a lot of chicken, you could leave it out (because do you know how freaking awesome lentils are??!!) but do use a broth, either chicken or vegetable. Then I added enough water to fill the pot.  For the recipe I will try to estimate the amounts.  This is how I remembered to make the soup:

Harvest Soup
6 c. water
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 c. carrots diced
1 c. celery and leaf (finely chopped)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt (According to taste)
1 tsp pepper (According to taste)
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 lb cooked chicken
about 1 1/2 cups lentil/rice mix

Place all in pot and simmer until carrots are tender and peas/lentils are slightly dissolved or whatever it is they do.  About an hour.  Once again, because that's the way I do it, add or subtract ingredients or amounts as you feel works for you. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Clay Pots

I finally got some clay that you bake to dry.  My daughter has wanted some for years, usually after she does a craft somewhere else and wants to continue at home.  Then my son got a book from the library of crafts and almost all of them were for something made with the clay.
He chose to make a little pot and then so did my daughter. We opted for the coil version and these were their creations. After they were dry they painted them with simple acrylic paints.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rusty Cake Skills

I was asked to decorate a cake for a church party tonight.  As usual I decided to do more than was necessary.  But, I thought it would be a good chance to practice my decorating skills which I have really let go the last few years.   I used Marshmallow Fondant.  It's a little harder to work with, but tastes so much better.  Since I knew it would take a little while I divided it up into a few hours a day, some days more hours.  Since I only had 1 6in pan and 2 9in. pans it took hours just to bake all the layers.  I made Chocolate (baked 6 layers, 3 on the cake, 1 to experiment with and two for later use. The recipe just makes a lot.) one day. Yellow (3 6in layers) another day. I made the fondants on one day. Another for frostings and fillings and one to decorate. The yellow I filled with Lemon curd and vanilla buttercream.  The chocolate is filled with ganache and vanilla cream.  I messed up on the vanilla cream but left it, it still tastes good, just a bit lumpy.  shh. 

This is the kitchen just after decorating.  it looked at least this bad all those separate days.

The MMF is a little stretchier so I had problems with the ribbon pulling as I put it on.  I tried twice.  The bow started pulling the Choc. MMF so it cracked a bit above that.  The ganache dots were a little too pointy and of course I wish it wasn't so lumpy. The bow got a bit cracky as well but dried better than my past experience. But overall, from a distance it looks alright.

I was able to bring one slice from each cake home.  The family was happy. 

Monday, March 14, 2011



Finally.   It only took me about a year and a half to get around to actually painting this thing.
Now maybe I can get my Thanksgiving word done before 2 years go by on that one.

(Thanks A. for pushing me to work faster on it.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pink Lemonade Cake

I experimented with a new cake last night.  Pink Lemonade.  Sounds good, right?

It was good.

I think it started when my neighbor asked me at church if I had some lemon juice at home, I didn't have time to chat but assumed she meant to borrow.  I told her no but said that I had some lemon powder, without further explanation.  I figure she didn't know what that was or wanted something else, never heard from her later. You  just reconstitute it.  Anyway, lemon must have been in my brain so I decided to try this.  

We have been through this before, where I didn't really have all the ingredients but made due anyway.  (ahem- icecream) I was ok with the lemon powder, but I didn't have fresh zest.  I have dehydrated lemon rind though.  NEVER buy this, at least from SF herb.  It turned out the whole rind is just chopped up, yup, bitter part and all.  So when you use it, it mostly tastes bitter.   Anyway I made it, putting the dry powder in with the sugar, I don't know if that was the right way but that is what I did and just put in the water for when it called for lemon juice.

For the frosting I tried adding grenadine syrup, I wanted a berry-ish flavor.  I was at the bottom of the bottle, it needed more.  I added a pinch or two of the lemon powder too.  I liked it but it probably would be better with real berries. I adapted a frosting recipe from my niece.

The recipe only makes a small 9 in cake.  I divided the batter and made two short layers.  The recipe was adapted from one I have seen several places around the Internet. I don't know who truly originated it. It did  have a slight gooey feel, that may or may not have been from the lemon powder? The family really liked it, The kids and I had seconds my husband kept eating while at the same time saying, there is just something about it...maybe it's needs a stronger lemon?
As I was cleaning up later, I picked up the container of lemon powder to put away.  Light goes on.  It says Lime Powder.  Oops, both containers look exactly alike.

Lemon Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour  (I took out a tablespoon and substituted a tablespoon of cornstarch)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
Zest of 1 lemon
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 T lemon juice
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and prepare cake pan.  
Sift all dry ingredients together and set aside.
Combine zest and sugar and rub or mix together to infuse lemon into sugar. Add the butter and cream cheese to the sugar and beat until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each egg. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beating on low speed until just incorporated. Add 1/2 of the buttermilk, once incorporated, add the next 1/3 of the flour mix, followed by remaining buttermilk, and remaining flour, beating each addition until just incorporated. Add lemon juice, beating until just incorporated on low speed.
Bake until edges pull slightly from side of pan.  (I didn't time it, I just always do it this way.  Cooking at the lower temp. also helps keep the sides high and the middle from doming.)


2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teas. vanilla (this is where I substituted about a tablespoon of grenadine but it could use more)
1/2 cup Butter
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar


In a small saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk and heat, stirring constantly until it thickens. You want it to be really thick, like brownie batter thick.
Remove pan from heat stir in the vanilla and cover the mixture with plastic wrap or wax paper so no skin develops. Let the mixture cool completely to room temperature.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and ALL the graininess is gone (this can take a while,... 5-10 minutes)
When Flour and milk mixture has cooled, stir vanilla into the mixture. Then add the mixture to the butter and sugar and beat until it is combined and resembles whipped cream. If it looks separated, keep beating, another 5-10 minutes.  (With the grenadine it is less stiff at the end)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Utah Scones and Dr. Suess' Birthday

Dr. Suess is the bestest author ever! So today to celebrate he birthday we thought about Dr. Suess foods and came up with of course Green Eggs and Ham. My son also suggested Scrambled Eggs Super. I didn't go all out though.  I made simple green scrambled eggs for the kids and Scrambled eggs super (omlets) for the dad and me.  We had ham, not green, in the form of bacon.  I decided to make some scones as well.
(I got a little messy with the honeybutter)

If you don't live in Utah or have not been here long enough to have Utah Scones than you need to try these.  I do not know why they got called scones in the first place but I was an adult before I knew that they weren't a traditional scone that the rest of the world knows.  Some people think they are the same as frybread, and I suppose that depends on your version.  Having grown up around some Navajo's I know it's not the same as their traditional fry bread. I have a recipe for that which is a simple dough made with only a little baking powder and not necessarily deep fried.  Utah Scones are closer to a yeast bread dough that is deep fried golden and most often served with whipped honey butter. Often you will see Navajo Taco's at a fair food stand and the frybread is almost more a cross between the two.  Another interesting thing about this recipe is that as well as yeast it also has baking power and baking soda.  I have also seen them served filled with just about everything, but usually chili or taco type toppings and sandwich fixin's.  But most people I know just eat them plain with honeybutter.

I didn't get a very good picture, I wasn't trying real hard.  Sorry.  This is a recipe that has been around a long time, it was published by a local newspaper food editor.  This makes a TON. Which makes it a good recipe to share with family and friends for a fun evening/brunch/whatever.  Goes great with some hot cocoa or hot cider too.  It was an odd time for me to make them, I usually equate them with fall.  I have quartered and halved the recipe just fine.  Also I have made them, as this time, without the overnight step although it probably makes them better to do it.

Utah Scones
From Three Decades of Cooking With Donna Lou Morgan.

1 quart warm buttermilk
2 packages (2 tablespoons) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
10 to 11 cups flour
Heat buttermilk; pour into a large mixing bowl. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add to the buttermilk: sugar, eggs, oil, salt, baking powder, baking soda, dissolved yeast and 6 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Add remaining flour to make a moderately stiff dough. Place in a greased bowl; turn. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk; punch down. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight. Roll out 1/2-inch thick and cut into squares just before frying in hot, deep vegetable oil. Serves 15 to 18; recipe can be halved.

Serve with Honey Butter, made by beating 1 cup softened butter with 1 cup honey for 10 minutes, or until fluffy.

Monday, February 28, 2011

T-Shirt Scarfs

After seeing this:

I knew that my daughter would love it. I had her watch it and she and her friend immediately started hounding me for a tee-shirt to use. We found two that had logos' on them but those were worked around and soon there were t-shirt scraps and girly vibes filling the room.

Here were her creations

They even used some scraps to make matching ones for their dolls

Friday, February 25, 2011

View from theTable

Today I woke up to snow.
I was expecting it, but not like this. 
A lot of our snow storms in this area tend to be in high wind.
That makes for a lot of high drifts but not so much left on the ground.
Yesterday and last night were windy so I expected more of that,
but, to my surprise the wind stopped in the night.
I miss the calm lightly falling snow that can be so peaceful.
Thankfully I had it all to myself this morning while I shoveled a path to the bus stop.
I knew it wasn't done snowing but I shoveled anyway for my kids and the few others that cross our path
and past the neighbors to the street.
When I finished there was another half inch on the ground.
It's snowing harder now, faster and bigger clumps.
already there is another 2 inches plus accumulated.
I measured it with my trusty ruler. 
The snow on the little table on the back porch is already past 7 inches.
But for a little while I had the pre-light soft and serene snow,
perfect, and all to myself.

Update:  What a Difference a (half) Day Makes.

the above picture was taken about 7:30 - 8:00 am.
I measured the snow on top of the little table at over 9 in.  
The picture below was taken at 1:30 pm.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

French Bread

Today's recipe is a french bread recipe but I rarely use it as a traditional french bread.  I most often use it to make sub rolls for a better want of a term.  Usually when we have pulled pork or bbq etc.  I really like the flavor of the bread for this use.  When I make them for rolls I just bake it, I don't do a french bread water spritz or steam which forms the crust and glaze on the outside of a french bread.  I think I got this recipe from a roommate back in college, I don't remember, that was a long time ago.  I started using it for sandwich type meals because it was fairly quick to make and didn't require kneading.  Instead you do several short risings.  I have used 1/2 whole wheat in the recipe and it turned out fine also. 

When forming loafs I make two long loafs which fit on a baking sheet side by side.  For rolls I make them in whatever shape I care too.  This time they turned out quite like hot dog buns.  I don't take the time to really carefully make them all exactly the same size and shape as you can see but you certainly can do so.  I also usually add an extra rise time.  Make sure you let them cool before slicing or the inside sort of stays too moist. But it's hard to resist hot bread.

French Bread

1/2 cup warm water
2 Tbl yeast
1 tsp sugar

Dissolve yeast and sugar in water in traditional method.  **If using Instant yeast add water and sugar to next step and add yeast after the first mix

2 cups hot water
3 tsp salt
3 cups flour
3 Tbl sugar
5 Tbl shortening

Mix all above until well combined.     **Add instant yeast now and mix in well.

Mix in another 3 cups flour. 

Let rise 15 minutes, punch down.  Repeat 3 times.
Divide dough in half for loaves and form as desired.  Let rise until double.  Bake 375deg. for 20-25 min.  Remove from pan and cool.

(I usually spray pan with 'pam' and dust with cornmeal. )

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cheesecake Brownies

These are an old favorite of ours.  I made them for Valentine treats.  I always wish there were more middle pieces but it's impossible.  I really don't understand those "all edges" brownie pans.  Maybe I'm completely different but I would much rather have a nice middle than a crusty outside edge.   With the cheesecake layer it tends to run to the middle as the edges bake up so you get more in the middle and less on the edge, at least with my recipe

The beauty of these is that most brownie recipes will work for the base.  I'm not sure which ones wouldn't but I'm not sure they all would either.  I have used a few different recipes including a box mix and had it work out great always.  This time I used an old standby with extra cocoa.  I almost prefer them the next day but they are good right out of the oven too.  Something about letting them just settle and meld I guess, although make sure you cover them so the edges don't dry hard.   They are nice if you like to slightly marble the layers together and look good that way too.   The one thing I should have done is double my cheesecake part because the brownie recipe I made is for a larger pan thus the cheesecake layer was smaller.

I am warning you, this recipe is not correctly paired up.  The cheesecake part is for a 9 in pan and the brownies fit in a 9x13.  I just settle for the thinner layer of cheesecake but you can use a smaller brownie recipe.  These brownies are on page 2 of my most used recipes.  That tells you their importance in my life.  They are in the middle of cakey and fudgy.  They are of course great all on their own.  They are followed only by my fudge brownies with ganache and BYU mint brownies in my brownie repretoire.  The cheesecake layer only makes them better. 

Brownie layer

3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Combine first 4 ingredients and beat until smooth.  Add eggs, sugar and vanilla and mix well.  combine flour and salt and mix into batter until incorporated, do not over mix.

Cheesecake layer

1 8oz pkg. cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbl. butter, softened
2 eggs
2 Tbl. milk
1 Tbl. flour
1/2 tsp. almond extract

Combine cream cheese, sugar and butter until creamy.  Add eggs, milk, flour and almond extract, beat well.

Preheat oven to 350º.  Spread brownie mixture in 9x13 in. pan.  Pour cheesecake mixture over the top.  Bake for about 40-45 min. 

Edit:  I linked up with Lisa at this week.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The New Table

I've been wanting to do something like this for a while, but it takes me a long time to get around to things. I love it. It has been well received and everyone likes exploring the map and learning new places and names, my daughter has already gone through one page of brain teasers. It's not fancy but it's fun and educational. I plan on switching out art and brain teasers but the map will stay.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dixie Salad

Dixie Salad, a Southern Utah tradition.
One of my favorite things about having Thanksgiving with my Sister's family is that her daughter always brings traditional Southern Utah Dixie Salad.  I looked around for a recipe online and couldn't find one that sounded just like hers.  So I broke down and called her.  Horror, I know, what kind of family doesn't call each other?  Mine.  At least I don't.  Maybe it has to do with my not liking to call anybody in general.  As a secretary in PTA and Church I have to call people often, but I do not like it.  Maybe it's because I usually am calling to ask them something and have a fear of rejection.  Anyway I asked her and was pleased with her answer.  4 simple ingredients.  Some recipes I found had mayonnaise and pineapple and one or two other things, they just didn't sound as appealing.

Whipped Cream

Pecan trees are everywhere in my Sister's little town.  You can hardly walk down the street without crunching some under your feet.  And since it's warm pomegranates grow very well too.  Thus the 'Dixie', as southern Utah is often called, in the Dixie Salad.  I love the crunchy sweet combination and it feels like I'm eating healthy, although the whipped cream doesn't exactly help in that area.  You need a little dairy though, right?

You can combine the ingredients in any proportion you would like.  I made a small salad just for myself this time for lunch. So it only had 1 apple, 1 small pomegranate and a handful of nuts. I also used whipped table cream because that is what I had on hand, and not much of it to keep it healthier for me.  But I do like a lot of cream on it.   You can add some sugar to the cream or use cool-whip as well.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


I haven't made Calzones for a long time.  Last time I made them I vaguely remember the kids not really liking them and  saying something along the lines of "this is yucky", probably before actually trying it.  You know how it is introducing new foods no matter how similar they are to favorites like pizza. I don't recall how long ago it was that I made them last but long enough that none of the kids remembered me making them before.

This time, however, everyone loved them and sang praises to me.  I don't know what I did different or maybe this time everyone was hungry enough to actually try them before stating their opinions.    I have fond memories of calzones.  Who doesn't?  I remember learning to make them in college using frozen bread dough.  I remember my favorite place to eat them, the mom and pop Italian restaurant 1 block north of where I used to work. In High School, my friends and I used to always get them at the Mall.  I remember my brother, not too long home from Sicily, deep frying them for dinner.  Maybe they are called something different when you deep fry them but they are basically the same.    So I was delighted that my kids finally liked them.

This time I used a Wolfgang puck Pizza dough recipe and filled them simply with Sausage, Ricotta cheese and Mozzarella cheese.  I then had a red sauce and pesto for dipping or putting on top.  You can put the sauce inside but I think this was one of the reasons the kids didn't like it before. That may be more like Stromboli. Other ingredients you can use to stuff the Calzone might be Spinach, Pepperoni, Parmesan, Pesto, other vegetables or cheeses etc.  Lots of choice. This time I also made them smaller so they could be picked up and dipped.  I think everyone liked them that way better. We enjoyed them so much, I forgot to take a picture till they were almost gone. 

Roll out rounds of pizza dough to the size you would like. 
Put ricotta cheese, mozzarella and other ingredients of your choice in the middle.
Fold over and pinch edges together. 
Bake until golden brown. 
Top or dip in marinara or pesto or sauce of your choice. 

Whatever you choose to use for dough and ingredients, Enjoy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cake

This is the first time I have tried this recipe. I made it for my husbands birthday. It looks impressive, if you can see past my bad photography, tastes very rich and is simpler than it looks.  I believe I had two or three requests to "Make this for my next birthday."

Notes: The batter is more like cookie dough when done and subsequently the cake is more cookie-like. This makes it easier to assemble. Make sure your chocolate is completely melted or you get little choc bits like I did. I did not have a 15x10 pan that I trusted to bake in anymore (I don't know why I keep it around still) so I used a regular larger cookie sheet. this resulted in 5 layers for me. I cut 4 across the pan then cut some off each end to make a 5th layer. Probably for this reason I needed more frosting than the recipe made. Slice it thin, it is very rich or sweet.  Even age14, aka. the bottomless pit, said "I'm full."   Do not leave out on counter where you will be tempted to have a piece every time you pass it.

1 cup Butter, softened
1 cup Brown sugar, firmly packed
2/3 cup Sugar
4 Eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 cups Flour, all-purpose
1 12 oz. package Little Bits Semi-sweet Chocolate chips, divided

1 cup Little bits semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup Butter, softened
1 1/2 cups Sifted confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla

Cake: Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1" baking pan. Line with parchment or waxed paper. In bowl, cream butter, brown sugar, sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and salt. Mix well.  Gradually add flour. Stir in 1 cup chocolate bits. Spread in prepared pan. bake 350º for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely.

Frosting: Melt over hot (not boiling) water, 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate bits, stir until smooth. Set aside. In bowl, combine butter and confectioners' sugar; beat until creamy. Add melted chocolate and vanilla; blend until smooth.

Loosen sides of cake. Invert and peel of paper. Trim edges if necessary. Cut cake crosswise into 4 sections. Spread frosting on one layer. Top with second cake layer. Repeat layers. Frost entire cake with remaining frosting.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pumpkin Fudge

Finally, here is what I used part of my baked pumpkin on.  Pumpkin Fudge.  Its a holiday tradition at our house and one of the few I hung onto as I tried to slim down the stress this past Christmas.  And we really did cut out a lot of stuff.  I hope next year is not so busy so we can do more.  Dh didn't even get to make his Toads.  Speaking of Christmas, while I did take down all decorations, I'm still waiting on my husband to dismantle and take the tree down to the basement (and a few odds and ends).

This is one of those recipes I'm reluctant to give out.   I have only shared it once and I'm pretty sure that is how my husband got his promotion at work.   See, if I give this out then everyone will be getting promotions and my husband will be out of a job by next Christmas.

I recommend using non-white chocolate in this recipe.  The difference being in order to be called White Chocolate it has to have cocoa butter in it.  When I have made it with the cocoa butter kind it tends to separate a little more.   I make half without the nuts since some of my kids don't like the nuts in it.  I have also used a mixture of nuts instead of just almonds.  Also, depending on the moisture in your pumpkin and altitude and all the other candy factors this can take a long time to reach soft ball stage.  I'm always a scardy-cat and don't turn my heat up very high so it can take me up to an hour.

Pumpkin Fudge

1 cup almonds
3 cups sugar
1 cup butter
5 oz evaporated milk
1/2 cup pumpkin
1 teas. pumpkin pie spice
2 cups white choc chips
1 7oz jar marshmallow cream
1 teas. vanilla

Spread nuts on baking sheet and toast in 300º oven until toasted to your liking.  (Sorry I don't have a time.)  Combine sugar, butter, milk, pumpkin and spice in pot and cook on medium - medium low until candy reaches soft ball stage about 234º on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat and stir in chips, then marshmallow cream and then nuts and vanilla.  Pour into pan either buttered or I prefer lined with non-stick Reynolds-wrap.  Cool and cut into pieces.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Boy did I let the blog go this last month.    Well I will make up for it right here with these Ginger Snaps.   These are so good.  I can't resist them straight from the oven, hot and a little gooey.  mmm.   

I made 7 dozen of these.  And I bet I could have eaten almost all of them, I might have gotten sick but I would have given it a try  if I hadn't of known that they were for a greater good and not for me.  My poor family got to look at them all and I only allowed them one each.  Seriously sad.  

The best way to do gingersnaps in my opinion is to leave them a little gooey so that when they cool they stay a bit chewy.  I know the title any everything says 'snap' but I really don't care for hard gingersnaps.    I cook them just until the cracks form good and the bottom is slightly browned.  This is the same recipe I have used for 30 years, probably longer but I don't really remember much cooking before that.  It has been hard for me to beat.  Also, I always double this recipe. 


1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 teas. baking soda
1 teas. cinnamon (maybe a pinch more)
1 teas. ginger
1/2 teas cloves
1/4 teas. salt
2 1/4 cup flour
granulated sugar

Preheat Oven to 375 deg.  combine sugar, shortening and molasses until well blended.  Add egg and mix in.   Add all spices and soda, mix.  Stir in flour.  Refrigerate for 1 hr.  Form 1in. balls, dip half  in sugar and place on baking sheet sugar up.  Bake 10 - 12 min.  
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