Friday, December 23, 2011

A 2011 Handmade Christmas....


Girls love to communicate, whether it's chatting your ear off in person, texting, on the phone, or writing, they love to keep the conversation going.  My granddaughters are no different, so I  thought I would capitalize on that fact and give them a Christmas present that I can replenish on occasion using my own art, and give them a way to keep in touch that exercises their writing and penmanship skills.  I took some photos I already had on my computer and used them to make cover sheets for their letters, and then added plain lined sheets using the colors I already used for their cover sheets. So they have one sheet with a nice graphic, and two plain lined sheets for each letter they might like to send. I also found pretty half size envelopes in colors to match each theme at the UPS store.
 
I found packs of colored pens for each, and marked each set with their first name initial on each pen so there wouldn't be confusion. Luckily these have a soft grip where you can permanently mark the pens. I then took pretty stickers and labeled each box, which are shoe box size Sterilite tubs with locking handles. They are a perfect size for the stationery sheets, which are half size of regular copy paper.  I threw in a role of giant Smarties and whaalaa! An inexpensive gift with a touch of home made and grandma's art to boot. All total each gift cost about $7 to put together, including paper, envelopes and candy. Not bad for a gift that keeps on giving, and one I can build on in the future by replenishing their supplies.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gingerbread House 2011 done! Now the waiting begins....

 Can you see the stash of candy in the background? I had to really be creative this year as the candies I used 12 years ago, the last time I created a house, are not available anymore. Luckily, Red Vines are still easy to be found, which I used for the bricks, as well as sugar wafer cookies, although these were doubledecker, which I didn't notice until I got them home. Eeek! They kept trying to separate in layers and were a bit bulky. I tell you this in case you want to create a gingerbread house using some of the elements I have.
 Lifesavers were used to make the stained glass windows, although I would really try to find some yellow candies to crush with the lifesavers as I couldn't find the rolls and in the bagged ones don't have the yellow lifesavers anymore. I put a tealight through the back door to illuminate the windows so you could see them better. Note to self, if wanting to use tealights, make the door big enough for them to go through all the way. :-)
 Spearmint gum drop leaves were harder to find this year, it took me trying at 3 stores before I found them, but I also found some very cool Kukaburra licorice that is similar to millifiore flowers, and were easy to slice. Yay! I wanted to get some pastel mint parielles, but the only store that carried them wanted $8 for them, no way was I going to pay that! Note to friends, they would make a nice Christmas present....I'm just saying.....the Smooth and Melty mints are the best!
 This was the first year I used Necco wafers for the roof, and I like the way they worked out. I used chocolate non-parielles and silver draggies as embellishments which my mother-in-law says looks like diamonds.

All parts of the house and grounds are edible, which to me is the best part of a true gingerbread house. Now the waiting begins, we shall see who the winner is. I did have one woman pass me as she and her son were leaving the store and she gasped as she saw the house and said, " Oh, your house is so beautiful! It's the prettiest one here that I've seen!" So, if nothing else, I know that at least two people were delighted at what they saw, and that's the reason to created these. To delight the adults and evoke memories of childhood past, and to delight children and conjure dreams of sugar plums....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gingerbread House 2011

 It's been sooooo long since I created a gingerbread house, something I love to do if given an opportunity. A local business is offering a $500 dollar 1st prize so that was incentive enough to try my hand at creating one again. It will be an interesting process and project as my FIL is at home from the hospital after a second bout of pneumonia. Although hospice is tending to his needs as far as prepping for the day or getting him ready for bed, I'm the primary caretaker now. He's so sweet, and so appreciative of all that's done for him that he makes it easy to care for him.
While he naps, I will try adding a bit here and there to my little house, in hopes of having it done by Saturday night. Things look a bit rough so far, but as with all creations, you start out with a rough up and then add detail until you have a finished product, with all flaws or oops! parts fixed or covered up. Lucky for me that frosting is a magic eraser or the perfect cover up, as this has been a challenge so far, working in a tiny kitchen without all my tools of the trade at hand. Wish me luck, this will be fun, but we shall see if it gets done. :-)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Coconut Cream Pie - To Die For!

I've never made one before, but coconut cream pie just sounded so good! I have a great pie recipe book, THE PERFECT PIE by Susan G. Purdy. So here is her version of

COCONUT CREAM PIE
PASTRY
1 1/2 c. unsifted all-purpose flour
1 to 1 1/2 T. granulated sugar
1/2 t. salt
6 T. cold or frozen butter, cut up
3 T. cold shortnening, or canola oil ( I used oil)
1 large egg yolk
2 t. lemon juice, or white vinegar
3 to 4 T. ice water, or as needed  (because of the oil, I only used 2)


FILLING
2/3 granulated sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 t. salt
2 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. heavy cream
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract
2 T. butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c. shredded coconut

WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING
1 c. heavy cream, chilled
2 T. powdered sugar
1/2 c. toasted coconut

Okay, let's get started by putting together the crust. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar) in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Add the cut-up chilled fats/oils. Working quickly and lightly, pinch and slide lumps of dough between your fingertips until the mixture resembles dry rice. This process layers the shortening and flour together, creating "leaves" that will form flakes when baked. If you use the oil like I did you may find it will be a bit lumpy but that's okay, don't overwork things, just get rid of big butter lumps. Add the yolk, lemon juice or vinegar, and the minimum amount of iced water. I only needed 2 tablespoons. Toss lightly, just until it clumps together. The dough should not be sticky, but clumps easily. The oil helped with that. Now form a flat 6 inch disk, wrap with plastic wrap or waxed paper and chill for at least 30 minutes. When ready to roll out and bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface, I used the wrap to roll it out on. Be sure to flour the wrap though as the dough will stick to the plastic or paper if you use the oil. Fold in half and place in pan, opening and tucking into pie pan without stretching it. Crimp edges. Chill again then blind bake by lining the crust with foil and filling it 2/3 with dry rice or beans. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes then remove liner and rice or beans and turn oven down to 350 and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Cool before filling.
To make the filling combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. In a bowl, whisk the milk and cream into the egg yolks. Whisk the egg-milk mixture into the cornstarch-sugar in the pan. Whisk well to be sure all the cornstarch is picked up off the bottom of the pan and dissolved.
Set pan over medium heat and cook the mixture for about 12 minutes, until thickened and brought to a boil. Stir on and off with a wooden spoon for the first 5 minutes, then stir constantly for abot 7 minutes longer, until the mixture really thickens and reaches a boil and you see fat heavy bubbles work up to the surface and burst. Use the whisk instead of the spoon occasionally to remove lumps. Boil for 1 full minutes while stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla. Stir in the coconut and spoon into the cooled pastry shell. Cover with plastic wrap to keep from forming a skin and refrigerate until just before ready to serve. In a cool bowl whip the one cup of cream, the powdered sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Spoon over chilled pie and sprinkle toasted coconut over the top. This is the BEST coconut cream pie I've ever tried, bar none. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Message of Hope





We thank thee O God for a prophet
to guide us in these latter days.
We thank thee for sending the gospel
to lighten our minds with it's rays!
We thank thee for every blessing
bestowed by thy bounteous hand.
We feel it a pleasure to serve thee,
and love to obey thy command.

I woke up this morning with this hymn running through my head, a wonderful way to start off the week. We celebrated our Autumn General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and were blessed to be spiritually fed by men and women of courage and fortitude, faith and love. So I share in part, the message of hope, that He lives and is real and loves us. May we all have a song in our hearts today!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Upcycled Treat or Cake Plate

 Treasure hunting is pure pleasure, especially when you can find something beautiful to upcycle. I found this plate at a second hand store here in Oregon, and immediately fell in love with it. The handles and colors reminded me of Autumn, and more especially Halloween.
 So I found a candle stick and adhered it to the bottom of the plate with epoxy, and whaalaa! A treat, or cake or cupcake plate! I know it looks crooked in the photo, but that's the doily and not the plate. :-) I took this before I dashed out of our apartment this morning. I drove up from Utah to Oregon to ready the house for winter so I was in a hurry. Anyhew......
Think of the possibilities! A little taller brass candlestick, paired with a vintage china plate, or a short milk glass vase, paired with a royal ruby or forest green plate, there's so much that you can do with this idea!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Colors of Autumn....Jewelry

 It's that time of year, when I put away summer clothes and bring out my Autumn wardrobe. For me, some items of clothing are like old and dear friends, colorful and vibrant, always there for you. This particular shirt I've had for around 20 years now, a sturdy but nice enough to wear anywhere top that has seen me through thick and thin, literally. Now that I've lost some weight and am getting down to my old sizes I can wear this again with joy!
I find that each season brings with it a palette of colors that often fit the mood I'm in. I find clothing, home decor, make-up and even jewelry that seems to be just perfect for that particular year. I went shopping yesterday and found some beads that caught my eye, not really for any reason but that they're pretty and I wanted them. When I sat down to play around with my new treasures, I realized that some of the beads would match my old and favorite shirt! This necklace and the matching earrings are simple, but perfect for a semi-casual top that is suitable for a walk in the woods, or going out for fish and chips with hubby. What I would love to do, and perhaps you may be interested, is to help create jewelry that goes with a new or old favorite outfit you have. We can go fancy, or simply, whatever you desire. I will be posting pieces at my etsy shop for fall, so if you see something you would like in colors that would match a particular ensemble, or you find a photo of a design you like, let's work together to create a one of a kind piece or set for you. Just drop me a line and we can talk.!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Foodie Friday - No Knead, Dutch Oven Bread

"Without bread, everyone's an orphan" is an Italian phrase any foodie should live by! Okay, that's if you aren't allergic to wheat...:-). I pooh pooh anyone who tries to say you should never eat bread though. What good is a bowl of hot steaming soup on a cold Autumn day without a nice hunk of crusty bread to sop up the juices with?! I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but I got it out of the Mother Earth News - Guide to Fresh Food All Year. An article by Roger Doiron shares his love of bread and a search for bread like he found in Europe. This loaf is easy to make although it does take time. It's well worth it though as it has that chewy crust and soft fine texture on the inside that you love in a good bread for soups and such. It makes a wonderful french toast as well, and the nice thing is that there's no fat or sugar and it uses very little yeast, as well as no requirement to knead the dough. I have to say that my bread came out just like the photo in the article and Kent loved this, so we will be having this again.
NO KNEAD, DUTCH OVEN BREAD
1/4 t. yeast
1 1/2 c. warm water
3 c. all purpose flour, wheat flour or a combination of. I used 2 cups white to one whole wheat
1 1/2 t. salt

In a large bowl dissolve yeast in the warm water. Add the salt and flour and blend well. The dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap if you have it and let the dough rest in a warm place for at least 8 but up to 12 to 18 hours. I started mine in the evening so I could finish it up the next day.
The dough is ready when the surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough on it. Sprinkle it with a little flour and fold the dough over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or towel and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your work surface or to your fingers, gently shape it into a ball. Generously coat a clean dish towel with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. I used both flour and cornmeal. Put the seam side of the dough down on the towel and dust with more flour. Cover with another towel and let rise for about 1 to 2 hours. When it's ready, the dough will have  doubled in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
At least 20 minutes before the dough is ready, heat you oven to 475 degrees. Put a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the over as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and lift off the lid. Slide your had under the towle and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. The dough will lose its shape a bit in the process, but that's okay. Give the pan a firm shake or two to help distribute the dough evenly, but don't worry if it's not perfect; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover ena bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake another 15 to 20 minutes until the loaf is beautifully browned. Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let it cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Spicy Zucchini Relish

 Surprise, surprise, zucchini is cropping up everywhere! The two of us can't eat it all before it spoils and with a small apartment freezer we can't shred to freeze much either, so I did a google search and found several recipes that I tweaked to come up with a very delicious and spicy relish that will make your hotdog lover shout for more!
Here's my version of
Spicy Zucchini Relish
6 c. each finely chopped zucchini and cucumbers
4 c. each finely chopped onion and bell peppers, including half red peppers and a couple of hot jalepenos
Place all veggies in an enamelware or stainless steel pan or glass bowl. Sprinkle with 5 tablespoons of canning/pickling salt. Mix well. Cover and let sit over night, for about 8 hours and rinse. 
Sterilize 6 pint or 12 half pint jars and sets of lids for all. 
In a large pot combine:
4 cups white sugar
2 cups brown sugar
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 T. curry powder
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 1/2 T. celery seed 
1 T. dry mustard powder
Add rinsed vegetables and bring to a boil. Turn down to a slow boil and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle into hot jars, straining a little of the syrup off if needed so relish is not soupy. Put lids on firmly and hot water bath for about 10 minutes. As an aside, many of the recipes called for 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch, but if the veggies are drained well before cooking, the sugar and vinegar mixture should be the perfect consistency when cool.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Apple Galette for Two

 There's almost nothing better than a rustic French apple tart or Galette to help usher in the Fall season. I cut the recipe in half because there are only two of us at home now, but if you double it this will serve 10 to 12 people. I started with 1 cup of flour into which I whisked in 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I then added 5 tablespoons of cold butter cut up, and pinched it into the flour until all large lumps were gone. No photos I know, I had an OOPs! moment there. :-) Then I  took 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt and one of sour cream and stirred those in. I made a ball of dough and flattened it on a sheet of waxed paper and wrapped and put it in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes while I made the filling. First though, I took two layers of tin foil and marked off a 10 inch circle using my springform pan. For a full size Galette you will need at least a 12 to 13 inch circle. Make sure the shiny side is facing down on the foil. Then I brushed on an eight inch circle of butter. The edges of the dough will be folded up over the fruit filling so you don't want it to stick to the foil.
 The filling consists of 2 generous cups of thin apple slices, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3-4 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 heaping tablespoon flour. Gather for later, apple jelly or apricot preserves, ( I used this) and 3 tablespoons graham cracker or plain bread crumbs.
 Combine fruit, sugar, seasonings, nuts and flour and stir well. Now take out your disk of dough and roll it out into a 10 inch circle on your buttered foil with a floured rolling pin.
 Now you are ready to put this together. Whisk a tablespoon of water into an egg, and brush over dough. Now take 1/3 cup jelly or preserves and spread over that. Then sprinkle your crumbs over that and pour filling on top of that, mounding it to stay within an 8 inch area.
 Gently lift the crust edges to fold over the outside of the apple filling. Pinch cracks together and brush crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with a dusting of sugar over the whole thing. Slide the Galette, foil and all, onto a cookie sheet and bake on a lower rack in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the apples are done and the crust is golden brown.
 Brush a bit of fruit jelly or preserves over fruit to give it a nice shine.
Whalaa! Apple Galette for Two!  Serve with warm vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Soooo yummy Kent wants this for breakfast tomorrow. Enjoy!

Apple Galette for Two
CRUST
1 cup flour
5 T. cold butter
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
FILLING
2 c. thinly sliced apples
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
3 T. brown sugar
1/4 t. each apple pie spice and nutmeg
1 T. lemon juice

1 egg whisked with 1 T. water
1/2 cup apple jelly or apricot preserves
 3 T. graham cracker or plain bread crumbs

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Chicken Salad Sandwich Filling...

 Yesterday we went berry picking so I threw together some chicken salad sandwich filling that got rave reviews. Let's see what you think. I started with 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, simmered in a small pot with just enough water to cover. I added 2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning, and 1 tsp Lawry's seasoning salt. I simmered until just tender. The house smelled heavenly!

 I chopped the chicken up after letting it cool. Save the broth the chicken left behind, it will make delicious soup. I then took 1/4 cup freeze dried celery and reconstituted it. My source is a company by the name of Shelf Reliance. They have awesome products so check them out. Anyhew...I then crumbled three slices of crisply cooked bacon, and added 1/2 cup Craisins. Don't you love Craisins?
I also added 1/2 cup minced sweet onion, 1/2 minced apple, 1/2 cup each plain yogurt and mayonnaise, 2 tsp. creamy horseradish, 1/2 tsp Lawry's, 1 1/2 tsp lemon pepper.
Stir well, but gently. Serve on any good bread. You might consider adding walnuts or pecans, chopped to the mix, but I didn't due to not knowing if anyone had allergies or not. This makes enough for 8 nicely filled sandwiches. Enjoy!
Chicken Salad Sandwich Spread
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts simmered in a small pot with 2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning, and 1 tsp Lawry's Seasoning salt, chopped
1/2 cup each, Craisins, minced sweet onion, minced apple, mayonnaise, and plain yogurt
1/4 cup Thrive celery reconstituted, or 1/2 cup minced celery
3 slices bacon, cooked til crisp, crumbled
2 tsp lemon pepper, creamy horseradish
1/2 tsp Lawry's

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Richer by far....

As I jogged up to the lake this morning I just happened to find a penny and a dime, in two different spots on the road. So I'm 11 cents richer monetarily, just by going for a run.
The sky is clear over the mountains, but as the sun came up over the horizon it shown through a cluster of clouds in glorious splendor, as if to say, "He is coming!" It was one of those, "I wish I had my camera!" moments, although the photo never quite seems to match what you see with the naked eye.  A doe bounded away from my neighbor's yard as I started out, probably startled by the crazy lady in the pink visor trying to run up the hill.
I get to the top of the hill just in time to see a chipmunk circling something in the road, then he takes off with his treasure, his little tail straight up in the air as he dashes off. As I padded past the lake parking lot a covey of quail darted here and there on the road, trying to decide where to be, then all took to the air, thankfully, as a car was coming around the bend and I feared they would get hit. I turned to head back and spied a creature that looks sort of like a fox on steroids as he has very long legs, not what most foxes look like. He sat down to watch me pass, chewing on something he found under a tree.
Farther down the road I passed a man I see on occasion out walking his rottweiler. We tossed greetings at each other about the beautiful morning and then he said, "It's getting rather boring, having all this sunshine." Funny old Eeyore that he sounded like, he surely enjoys getting out each morning as he will walk at least a couple of miles.
On I trudge, only to meet up with a handsome young buck prancing across a parking lot. He and I parted ways quickly, him I'm sure, off to raid the flower beds of some unlucky home, and me to end up back at the homestead, ready to start the day.
So three miles and a run full of the good things God has placed here, I think I'm richer by far.....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday's fishing report....

 It was threatening to rain and rather dark and breezy as I cast my line into the water. I turned to wipe the power bait off my fingers and looked up to see that my bobber was gone! "Where'd my bobber go?" I asked hubby, who replied that he didn't know. All of a sudden we could see it running around in the water, "Fish On!" I shrieked and pulled in a nice little fish to my utter amazement. I hadn't even had time to find my stance! So we tried again and again and nothing. Hmmmm, where did they all go? All of a sudden my bobber disappears again, this time with a nice sized trout finding it's way into our net! 14 inches long, and over a pound in weight, he sure did make a tasty meal last night! So, we caught 4 more smaller ones last night, but there's some really big trout out there waiting to be caught. We are geared up with fresh bait, and a new pair of pliers, which got lost the other night, so stay tuned for more fishing excitement!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Speaking of flowers and Fiats......

It's funny how my mind meanders during Sacrament meeting as I listen to speakers share their thoughts on a subject. Today the topic was our pioneer heritage, and the sacrifices those folks made. One speaker compared their daily duties, to what he does each day, bringing up in particular the 10 minute drive he made to church in a truck sitting out in the driveway waiting to go, instead of having to groom and hitch up a team of horses to a wagon or buggy for a 45 minute ride to cover the same distance. 
Recently my husband bought a new car, a Fiat 500 to be exact. Cute little cupcake isn't it?! The payments aren't too bad although it does take premium gas the mileage at 46 mpg on average more than compensates for that. We have been struggling with being a one car family due to circumstances beyond our control. With my needing to be in Tooele to help with my in-laws and Kent needing to travel back and forth for the same, having one car has been a difficult situation. So we bought this little car to help. Sure, we could have purchased a used car, but with the distance and travel we do Kent wanted to be safe. Kent was worried about how we would handle the payment with Annie going on her mission in about a month, but two days after he bought the car he found out he was getting a raise, almost enough to cover the payment amount. Why we are being continually blessed in this way is beyond me, but it shows that Heavenly Father loves us much more than we understand at times. 
Now to the flowers. There are always two vases of fresh flowers on the podium in the chapel so of course what I see I think...lol... which took me to my flower beds at home that are in desperate need of tending to. I got to thinking about that, and how I seldom take the time to sit and enjoy them. Perhaps that's why we need to constantly weed and tend to our gardens, to put us where we can enjoy them once in awhile. Heavenly Father knows us better than we realize doesn't He?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thrifty Thursday - Best Day of the Week to Shop

 From gas....
 to groceries.....
 and clothing,
or travel, there are better days of the week to make those important purchases. Here's a great article that came out recently I'm sharing in hopes you will find a good deal by following these guidelines.
Yahoo! Finance - Best Day of the week to shop
I am planning a trip with my youngest daughter so I'm going to put this to the test. Let me know if you have some success yourself.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Yogurt Cheese and Artisan Bread Dippers

I have been fascinated by the idea of making my own cheese, so I picked up a magazine on the subject the other day and tried my hand at an easy and very tasty soft cheese. I had some artisan bread on hand as well so I made tasty dippers to go along with this luscious and creamy cheese. A perfect way to start a party, or to snack on during a hot summer day, just add fruit or a salad as a side, along with fresh lemonade, and you will be praised for your culinary prowess. Here's how to go about making the cheese:
Yogurt Cheese
2 cups plain low fat yogurt
2 tablespoons heavy cream, (optional but improves the texture and spreadability of the cheese)
cheesecloth (can be found at your local hardware store
colander
Line the colander with the cheesecloth and clip to edges with clothespins or clips. Mix the yogurt and cream together and pour into the cheesecloth lined colander. Place the colander in/on a large bowl to catch the whey as it drains. Place in the refrigerator and allow the mixture to drain. After about 4 hours check to see how much of the whey has drained into the bowl and pour off. You can save and freeze the whey to be used in soups, gravy or bread. When whey stops draining, the yogurt cheese is ready. This will take about 48 hours. Don't worry about covering the colander. I noticed that I didn't have much whey drain off. Perhaps it was because I used non-fat yogurt, but anyhew, this still worked.
I seasoned my yogurt cheese with chopped chives, a few dashes of celery salt and some garlic powder. Wow, is that yummy! You can also make a sweet yogurt cheese for bagels and such by using vanilla flavored or fruit flavored yogurt. If you'd like to add fruit, use dried, snipped fruit and fresh will make the cheese runny.
Artisan Bread Dippers
Any good bread such as french, rye, or sourdough will do
melted butter
Old Bay Seasoning
Slice bread about a half inch thick and brush both sides with butter. Sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning on both sides as well. Place on cookie sheet and toast under broiler until golden brown. Slice bread into strips and let cool. Serve with yogurt cheese and fresh fruit. Yummy!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday Travelogue - Portland, Oregon

 Beautiful Portland, Oregon is a wonderful city full of arts, events such as the blues festival coming up tomorrow, and eating establishments galore. International taste treats from so many countries I can't list them all here at this time, but if there's something you like in the way of food, clothing or art, you will find it here.
We are staying at the Marriott Waterfront Portland, which, if we had been given and choice and known would not have been our favorite. Don't get me wrong, Marriott usually has some of the best hotels around, but we are not so impressed with our room here. The pros are the view, the bed, and furniture are nice, the concierge service, which is perfect, and the pillows, which are like sleeping on a cloud. The room is small though for the price, only one towel rack in the bathroom, and it's in the shower, no fridge or microwave, which is a must for those of us who like good food but can't eat the whole meal all at once. Having said that, our preference would have been the Marriott Residence Inn, which is incredible! The rooms are so spacious and well equipped, with a way to store and cook food if needed, a nice living room area, and I do remember the bathroom being much bigger. I do have a question though, why is it there are no exhaust fans in the bathrooms of the fancier hotels? Anyhew, we are enjoying our stay, and love being here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Wing and a Prayer.......





Thus seems to be how my life has been lately, running on a wing and a prayer. I can tell I'm running so behind, and really not very in tune by the simplest of things. Today we talked about tithing in Relief Society. There was some great discussion, but I discovered as I was reading the June "Ensign" magazine our church puts out every month, while eating my lunch, that there was an even more in depth article on tithing, which happened to be the first one in the publication. The points of discussion in the article would have added to our discussion and better understanding, if, we had read THAT particular article when the magazine first arrived in the mail. So, a missed opportunity to share, because I'm so scattered and not as focused as I should be on taking advantage of the words of wisdom that are in the Ensign. Lesson learned I hope.
In the same magazine came an answer to a struggle I was having with helping a friend in need. My struggle is that I've a 3 day window to get some needed cleaning, organizing, and art work done. My friend has an appointment 2 hours away from here to see a neurosurgeon and was driving herself in to town. She has numbness in her hands which is starting to travel up her arms, she has severe arthritis and has trouble walking without help and the drive one way is enough to wear her out. So I volunteered to drive her in. I was feeling stressed about it though, and was praying in my heart to have some peace about the "to do" until I read in.... Luke 24:28-29 where the Savior was traveling through a village on his way to somewhere, and when spotted he was asked to stay and spend time with people there. Although he was headed elsewhere, he stayed, although unplanned. The article states that sometimes the greatest opportunities to bless and serve come when it isn't convenient. Such also was the case of the good Samaritan, who interrupted his journey to minister to a stricken man's needs. There is no way I would have peace knowing she was driving in to town without an adult with her to help. I will drive, we will see her doctors, then go have a good lunch somewhere. On the way we can visit, which I get so little time to do with friends anyway. I have a feeling that I will be the one blessed.......
Now I'm ready to start making phone calls to family members to get a tally on who is coming to our reunion in two weeks. I couldn't find the list, or so I thought, as it's been a bit since I sent out letters and a myriad of events, tasks and so on had clouded my memory as to where I put the list of phone numbers. So I got down and said a prayer after unloading the pocket of my computer bag where I thought I had last seen the list, and lo and behold, after the prayer I looked down and there was the list! Yes, it was in the pile, but not readily seen. So, life these days is running on a wing and a prayer, but who can doubt that prayers are answered?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom - Staying Alive on the Road





The robins were dancing around slithering worms in the road as I went for a run this morning. It seemed as if I'd been transported back to Oregon as the drizzle touched my cheeks. The air, washed clean by the night's rain was sweet and clear, refreshing my lungs and energizing my spirit. My heart was full to bursting as I marveled at the beauty of our rugged desert terrain and the gift it is from God. Aahhhhh! What a way to start a day!
My words of wisdom for today have to do with safe driving. I don't know about you, but driving a small car on the freeway can be a daunting experience, especially when large semi-trucks blow by and seem to want to take you with them in their air stream. My tip is this, watch your rear view and keep an eye on those trucks as they come up behind you. Most truck drivers are very responsible and will make sure they pass you safely, but on occasion there are those who should have never been let behind the wheel of anything, much less a large truck. Because of the weather the last few months, I've had several instances where a truck would blow by me, but a gust of wind would swing their trailer end in my direction, yipes! Once or twice there have been drivers who couldn't seem to wait until they got by me before they moved back into the right hand lane. On our way back from Flagstaff a few weeks ago, a trucker had just gotten her cab past our tiny car when she pulled back into our lane. IF I hadn't been watching her, we would have been wiped off the road and I wouldn't be here to share this. I had to swing over to the shoulder, slam on the brakes, and no I didn't swear, but I did lay on the horn. Luckily no one was following her too closely so we were safe from that direction. We got back on the road and caught up with her, she was going 70 in a 65 MPH zone, took down the truck number and the company phone number and slowed down to 60 while Kent called the incident in. Later on down the road she was pulled off, staring at her cellphone and not looking too happy. We suspect this wasn't the first time for her as we got a phone call a few days later saying she'd been terminated and they were apologizing for the incident.
We are grateful for my having been conditioned to watch for the trucks, as we are still here, but I wonder how many other folks haven't been so lucky. So stay safe, watch your hinder ender as Thelma used to say, and be well.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Southwest Chipotle Chicken

 We all have those days when a craving hits, and you have to find a way to satisfy it. Yesterday afternoon was one of those where I was craving something with a barbecue flavor but with lots of veggies added. We'd picked up fresh bell peppers and baby Portobello mushrooms at Costco and they were calling my name. So I grabbed some of our Costco chicken and all the veggies and sauce fixings I could find and came up with a sort of east meets west type of chicken that my Nature Guy raved about!
This dish has a nice smoky barbecue flavor due to the Chipotle chilies but isn't too sweet. If you don't have the sweet chili sauce try apricot or peach jam, but I think it really adds to the flavor. You can find it in most Asian food sections of your grocery store. So because I love you, I will share!

SOUTHWEST CHIPOTLE CHICKEN AND RICE
1 1/2 lbs, boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast, cubed
2 bell peppers, any color, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, sliced
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2- 4 chipotle chilies in adobo, diced
1/2 a fresh orange, peeled and diced
8 oz. tomato sauce
1/4 cup sweet chili dipping sauce, I used Mae Ploy
1 t. ginger
1/2 t. horseradish
1 t. salt or less depending on your taste

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add chicken, ginger and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add veggies and saute until veggies start to soften, sprinkling with salt to help the process. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook just until veggies are crisp tender, about 10 minutes. Serve over cooked rice. Yield, 4 - 6 servings. Bon appetite!


 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sabbath Share - Desires dictate all other decisions....

Recently at the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Dallin H. Oakes said this, " Desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions." It has become clear to me that my children do see the reason for choices I've made over the years, and why I've tried to correct mistakes when possible and not redo the things that I know lead to misery instead of happiness. I can also see that they have a testimony, whether they realize it or not. I was lamenting to my youngest the fact that going to Alaska always seems to be a priority to my children and that I wished for once that some of my children gave me more priority. I try to not to put them on a guilt trip or get into the tug of war game that divorced parents can get into with their adult children but I felt it was time to speak up and see what the results were. So she tells me that she and her siblings know I will always be around for them, but with their Dad, he may go soon. He recently had a stroke and is still doing things that go against his doctors advice regarding his health issues. I asked her how she knew I would always be around and she said that she was talking with her brother or sister about the situation and they brought up my patriarchal blessing and how it says that if I'm trying to do as I should I will live a long time as she put it. Those aren't the exact words in the blessing, but you get the gist. It took me by surprise to say the least!
My desire has always been to have an eternal family. It took me awhile to fully understand the importance of following certain doctrines and commandments set by God to achieve that goal. I've made my share of poor decisions over the years, partly due to feelings of unworthiness regarding Heavenly Father and the Saviors love, but through trial and error, a lot of error, I'm heading in a better direction because I love my children and grandchildren enough.
I'm grateful to know that families can be together forever. I know I've said that over and over again, but with our recent visit to Arizona, and the heart rending goodbyes we have to make after a visit with our grandson and mommy, it's so comforting to know that no matter what happens we will see each other again some day, and if we obey the commandments, there will come a time when we don't ever have to say goodbye again. Won't that be wonderful??? I know that some folks don't even try because they think they can never make it, but I'm here to tell you that if I can make it anyone can! If we are honestly doing our best, the Savior has made up the gap for us.  That's also very comforting as I know I will never be perfect in this life. I'm very lousy at setting goals, so I think I will type up and print off the quote from Elder Oakes to remind me every day to keep my eyes and heart set on the right desires.
What are your desires?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Hot Cross Buns for any time of year...





We tried a new Easter sweet bread this year, these cinnamon flavored, currant filled buns. Traditionally served on Good Friday, they are so good, I wouldn't wait until then to bake and serve these soft little gems.
HOT CROSS BUNS
4 - 4 1/2 c. Best for Bread flour
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
2 T. active dry yeast
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. each butter and canola oil
3 eggs
1/2 c. currants
1 egg white, beaten
FROSTING
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 T. soft butter
1-2 T milk
1/2 t. vanilla
Grease a 15x10 jelly roll pan. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In large bowl combine 1 1/2 flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and yeast; blend well. In small saucepan heat 3/4 cup milk and fats until very warm.
Add warm liquid and eggs to flour mixture. Blend at low speed until moistened; beat 3 minutes at medium speed. Stir in currants and an additional 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups flour until dough pulls away cleanly from sides of bowl.
On floured surface, knead in 1/4 to 1/2 cup flour until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place dough in greased bowl and cover. Let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes.
Punch down dough several times to remove all air bubbles. Allow to rest on counter  covered with inverted bowl for 15 minutes. Divide dough into 24 parts; shape into balls. Place in prepared pan; brush with egg white. Cover; let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size, about 35 to 45 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 degrees and bake buns 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly. In small bowl combine all frosting ingredients; beat well. Using a pastry tube or bag, pipe crosses on each bun. If frosting is too thick for pastry tube, stir in additional milk a drop at a time until desired consistency. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Mexican Pesto Turkey Wrap

 I really hadn't forgotten to add some recipes using the Mexican Pesto, but it was one of those weekends where it was either run away with the computer to a quiet place..... or tend to the tasks at hand. Since today is a day I can have more flexibility, here I am! I started with a flour tortilla that I warmed over a hot burner, flipping and pulling the tortilla across the hot spiral until it was soft and toasted.
 I then took some of my Yhonnaise, which is half plain yogurt and half real mayo, not the low fat variety (blech!!) and mixed a bit of the Mexican Pesto in it to make a nice creamy sauce.
 This I spread over the tortilla, you can go as thin or thick as you want. I would do more next time...
 I added some shredded turkey......
 and piled on top of that some chopped tomato, green onion and shredded lettuce. I topped that with a slice of pepper jack cheese, but I think I would try extra sharp cheddar next time. And, I might try to add some chopped fruit such as apple or grapes to the mix.
Then I rolled, tucking the tortilla edge over the turkey and veggies, until I had a nice little wrap. This was delicious with a bunch of grapes on the side. Easy, pretty healthy, and filling!

Mexican Pesto Turkey Wrap
flour tortillas
shredded turkey
Mexican Pesto Sauce - 1/3 each plain yogurt, real mayo and Mexican Pesto
chopped tomato
chopped green onion, one per wrap
shredded lettuce
pepper jack or shredded extra sharp cheese