Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cheesy Potato Salad

I'm not a fan of the traditional potato salads. I do, however, like potato salads that taste like a loaded baked potato and that's exactly what this recipe is. I've taken this to a few gatherings and most of the time it gets great reviews. If you were at my last family holiday party, my apologies. I must have used too much green onion and I totally forgot the bacon bits and salt and pepper. It turned out not so well. Just remember all the ingredients and it will be a hit!

Cheesy Potato Salad

2 1/2 pounds red potatoes, cubed
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon real bacon bits
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Place the potatoes into a pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, and set aside to cool.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise, sugar, half of the onions, and half of the cheese. Gently stir in the cooled potatoes. Top with remaining cheese and onions,salt,pepper, and sprinkle bacon bits over the top.

Here are the results:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cherry Christmas Jello

This is probably the easiest Jello salad you will ever make. I've kept this recipe for over ten years and absolutely adore it. This recipe is creamy and bursting with cherries. It's perfect for potlucks at Christmas time!

Cherry  Christmas Jello
1 large (6 oz) box cherry Jello
2 C boiling water
2 cans cherry pie filling

Dissolve Jello in water. Add 2 cans cherry pie filling. Chill

Here are the results:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Baked Maryland Lump Crab Cakes

I've never lived by the ocean, so I can't take part in the whole "fresh seafood vs canned vs imitation" debate. All I know is I work with what I have, and I have imitation crab meat. I personally love it and use it in most of my recipes that call for crab meat. I whipped up a batch of these the other night and gobbled them down (with the help of my hubby of course!)

Baked Maryland Lump Crab Cakes

1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay™
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup cholesterol-free egg product (I used 2 eggs)
1 pound lump crab meat (I used imitation crab meat)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet.
2. Combine bread crumbs, baking powder, parsley, mustard powder, pepper, and seafood seasoning; set aside. Stir together mayonnaise, butter, Worcestershire, and egg product until smooth. Fold in crab meat, then fold in bread crumb mixture until well blended.
3. Shape mixture into 12 crab cakes, about 3/4 inch thick, and place onto prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn the crab cakes over, and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until nicely browned.
Here are the results:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Brattan's Boston Clam Chowder

I dont' know about the rest of the country, but Utah is being hit with a BLIZZARD tonight and it's cold! What better way to warm up than with soup. I got this recipe from a church cookbook (which are always my favorite). For some reason I was always afraid to make clam chowder, but it was really simple and hubby thought it tasted fabulous! I had a cold so I couldn't taste very well but I liked it a lot!

Brattan's Boston Clam Chowder

2 cans minced clams (6½ oz), undrained
1 c onions, chopped fine (I usually reduce onion amounts but DON'T for this dish)
1 c finely diced celery
1 c finely diced carrots
2 c finely diced potatoes
¾ c butter
¾ c flour
1 qt half and half
1½ tsp salt
Few grains pepper
½ tsp. sugar

Drain juice from clams and pour over vegetables in medium saucepan; add enough water to barely cover and simmer, covered, until tender over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meantime, In large saucepan, melt butter, add flour and blend and cook 1 or 2 minutes. Add cream. Cook and stir until smooth and thick, using wire whisk to blend. Add undrained vegetables and clams. Heat through. Season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste.

Here are the results:

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

After seeing the movie Percy Jackson and the Lightning Theif, I totally wanted to check out the books. I have only read the first two so far but have very much enjoyed them. Here's their description from amazon.com:

"The Lightning Thief Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. When his mom tells him the truth about where he came from, she takes him to the one place he'll be safe--Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island). There, Percy learns that the father he never knew is actually Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon Percy finds himself caught up in a mystery that could lead to disastrous consequences. Together with his friends--a satyr and other the demigod daughter of Athena--Percy sets out on a quest to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods."

"The Sea of Monsters After a summer spent trying to prevent a catastrophic war among the Greek gods, Percy Jackson finds his seventh-grade school year unnervingly calm. But things don't stay quiet for long. Percy soon discovers there is trouble at Camp Half-Blood: the magical borders which protect Half-Blood Hill have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and the only safe haven for demigods is on the verge of being overrun by mythological monsters. To save the camp, Percy needs the help of his best friend, Grover, who has been taken prisoner by the Cyclops Polyphemus on an island somewhere in the Sea of Monsters--the dangerous waters Greek heroes have sailed for millennia--only today, the Sea of Monsters goes by a new name: the Bermuda Triangle. Now Percy and his friends must retrieve the Golden Fleece from the Island of the Cyclopes by the end of the summer or Camp Half-Blood will be destroyed. But first, Percy will learn a stunning new secret about his family--one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon's son is an honor or simply a cruel joke... "

MY REVIEW: Love them so far.... I still have to finish the series. I'm surprised I'm reading so many fantasy books lately, and even though I enjoy the complexity of books like Harry Potter, sometimes I think some writers go too deep into their make believe world. I can't quite describe it but in this series the author describes the battle scenes, which are supposed to be cool, but I just glaze over them unintentionally because I don't find them exciting. That's probably my only complaint. I do love how the story mixes with mythology and it makes me want to read up on Greek Gods now.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fantasy Fudge

This fudge was a staple in our home around the holidays. I am somewhat anti-desserts because most of them are too time consuming (and we are trying to be a little healthier). That said, this fudge recipe is super easy and super delicious! It comes from the back of the Kraft Marshmallow Creme jar and I omit the nuts because they are nasty!

Fantasy Fudge
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup margarine
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 12-oz. (340 g) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 7-oz. (198 g) jar Kraft Marshmallow creme
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine sugar, margarine and milk in heavy 2-1/2 quart saucepan; bring to full rolling bail, stirring constantly. Continue boiling 4 minutes over medium heat, stirring. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate till melted. Add marshmallow creme, nuts & vanilla beat till blended. Pour into greased 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Let cool and cut into 1-inch squares.
Here are the results:

Happy Holidays!

Here Lies the Librarian

Here's the description from amazon.com:
"Parentless Peewee, 14, and Jake, the big brother she idolizes, live in rural Indiana in 1914. They run a small garage, but face nasty sabotaging from the rival Kirbys. The novel opens with a hilariously macabre twister that tears up Buelahland Cemetery, turning up coffins, and strews Mrs. B. D. Klinefelder's laundry, including her massive step-ins, around the county. The tornado doesn't dare to touch the stern former librarian's grave. The board of trustees closed the library after her death, but that situation is about to change. Irene Ridpath, a library science student from Butler University, arrives with her three equally pretty and wealthy sorority sisters, all of whom drive fabulous cars, sparking Jake's interest (not just in their cars). After many pranks and hijinks, Peewee ends up being the only finisher in a rough-and-ready auto race, an event recounted in the closing chapter when she is an elderly, although still spunky, old lady. A master of capturing voice, Peck aptly conveys the nuances of rural life in the early years of the last century while weaving in early feminism, the history of the automobile, and the message to be oneself. Kids will love the fast-paced action and librarians will guffaw over all the library puns."

I didn't realize that this book was for middle school, just a random pick from the audio book section. That said..... Meh! Pretty boring and the narrator didn't help much either with her drone voice. Don't bother with this one when there's so much more out there!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Green Bean Casserole I

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it's time to break out some of my traditional Thanksgiving recipes. I think this one is a classic, and if you haven't had it before, shame on your family!

Green Bean Casserole I
2 (15 ounce) cans cut green beans, drained
3/4 cup milk (I reduced to 1/2)
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (2.8 ounce) can French fried onions
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a medium casserole dish mix together green beans, milk, cream of mushroom soup, and 1/2 of the can of onions.
Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until heated through and bubbly. Sprinkle remaining onions over the top, and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Here are the results:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Looking Glass Wars

Here's the description from the author's website:
    "The Looking Glass Wars unabashedly challenges the world’s Carrollian Wonderland assumptions of tea parties, dormice and a curious little blonde girl to reveal an epic, cross dimensional saga of love, murder, betrayal, revenge and the endless war for Imagination. Meet the heroic, passionate, monstrous, vengeful denizens of this parallel world as they battle each other with AD-52’s and orb generators, navigate the Crystal Continuum, bet on jabberwock fights and slip each other the poisonous pink mushroom. Finally, someone got it right. This ain’t no fairytale.
     Alyss Heart, heir to the Wonderland throne, was forced to flee through the Pool of Tears after a bloody palace coup staged by the murderous Redd shattered her world. Lost and alone in Victorian London, Alyss is befriended by an aspiring author to whom she tells the surreal, violent, heartbreaking story of her young life only to see it published as the nonsensical children’s sojourn Alice in Wonderland. Alyss had trusted Lewis Carroll to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere would find her and bring her home.
      But Carroll had got it all wrong. He even misspelled her name! If not for the intrepid Hatter Madigan, a member of the Millinery (Wonderland’s security force) who after a 13 year search eventually tracked Alyss to London, she may have become just another society woman sipping tea in a too-tight bodice instead of returning to Wonderland to battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts."

MY REVIEW: A fun twist on Alice in Wonderland. Beware: it's part of a trilogy so if you read one, you'll want to read the rest. I think I enjoy fantasy more than I realize, but sometimes the details go over my head. The author is detailed in his battle scenes and sometimes my eyes just glazed over his descriptions. The plot was excellent though and I'm already starting on the second book Seeing Redd.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cheesy Enchiladas

My husband hardly ever eats the same dinner twice. No joke, I cook that much variety. However, there are a few go-to meals that I make when I'm in a hurry, I'm in a pinch, or the recipe is just that good, I want to make it again. This one fits into all of the categories. I hope your family loves this recipe as much as I do.

Cheesy Enchiladas

1 (8 ounce) package cream Cheese, softened
1 (8 ounce) package shredded cheddar cheese,divided
1/4 cup sliced green onions (can sub dried chives if necessary)
6 (6 inch) flour tortilla (6 inch)
1 (16 ounce) jar salsa
I sometimes add a large can of canned chicken when my hubby wants meat

1. Beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add 1 cup of the cheddar cheese and onions; mix until blended.
2. Spread 1/4 cup cheese mixture down center of each tortilla; roll up. Place, seam-side down, in 11x7-inch baking dish. Pour salsa over tortillas. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese; cover. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

I hate the winter, the sun goes down too early so my pictures aren't nearly as good so pardon my picture. Here are my results:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Jana's clean-out-the-cupboard Pasta Salad

I used to never make up my own recipes. I really only do so now if there is a need. The other day I NEEDED to use up some produce and so this recipe came about. Pretty tasty if I do say so myself.

Jana's clean-out-the-cupboard Pasta Salad

6 oz cooked pasta shells
2 tomatoes, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 can olives, sliced
1/2 cucumber diced
Italian dressing to coat

Combine all ingredients.

Here are the results:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Peanut Butter Noodles

Asian food is a favorite of mine, but it always takes too long to make, until now. These peanut butter noodles are so easy. I couldn't find UDON noodles anywhere so I just got low mein noodles in the Asian section of the grocery store. It was fairly good. Here's the recipe:

Peanut Butter Noodles
1/2 C. Chicken Broth
1 1/2 TBS. minced fresh ginger root
3 TBS. Soy sauce
3 TBS Peanut Butter
1 1/2 TBS honey
2tsp hot chile paste (optional
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz Udon Noodles
1/4 C chopped green onions
1/4 C chopped peanuts


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until tender according to package directions. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, combine chicken broth, ginger, soy sauce, peanut butter, honey, chili paste, and garlic in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until peanut butter melts and is heated through. Add noodles, and toss to coat. Garnish with green onions and peanuts.

Here are the results:

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I have never seen Pride and Prejudice. There I said it! All my family has, as well as my in-laws and probably most of my friends. I just never got around to it. HOWEVER, there was a funny TV series on PBS last year that was a spin off of it and I really enjoyed it. Most of the parts I didn't get were easily explained to me by my HUSBAND.

Unfortunately, says my husband, he was subjected to watch Pride and Prejudice a little too much while he was living at home. I just think it's hilarious that he knows way more about it than me. He's a good sport about it.

I was a little hesitant to try this book Austenland by Shannon Hale because of the fact I have read the book it's based off. Here's the description from Shannon Hale's website:

"Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen—or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?"

MY REVIEW:Funny, very funny! Always a fan of Shannon Hale, but this one is a different twist to her normal books. She usually writes LDS fiction, but this one isn't. It's funny like her other ones though, which is what I love about her. It's a comedy about this girl who's obsessed with Mr.Darcy, like most girls are. I totally recommend this book, such a good read.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff I

I've been hearing from tons of people they got snow here in Utah. Thankfully, it must have skipped over our house because I'm not ready. With cold weather upon us, it's the perfect time to break out the old crock pot. This recipe is very highly rated on allrecipes.com but I've never had an opportunity to try it..... until now. I was a little weary because I've tried beef stroganoff in a slow cooker before and it turned out terrible. This, however, was EXCELLENT and I'm keeping it for sure.

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff I
1 pound cubed beef stew meat
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed golden mushroom soup
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup water
4 ounces cream cheese

1. In a slow cooker, combine the meat, soup, onion, Worcestershire sauce and water.
2. Cook on Low setting for 8 hours, or on High setting for about 5 hours. Stir in cream cheese just before serving.

Here are my results:

Heist Society

Here's the descriptions as found on amazon.com:
"Tired of her lifelong involvement in her family's illicit dealings, teenager Katarina Bishop enrolls herself in a prestigious boarding school. Then after a mere three months there, 16-year-old billionaire Hale arranges for her to get kicked out. He informs her that five paintings have been stolen from the menacing Arturo Taccone and that her father is the prime suspect. Determined to save him by locating the real thief and stealing the paintings back, Kat gathers a crack team of larcenous teens for the heist to be pulled off before the two-week deadline. However, her resolve falters when she learns that the paintings are Nazi war spoils. She negotiates complicated relationships in an action-packed plot, and the unknown identity of the thief suggests a sequel. This irresistible light-fingered fairy tale is elevated by glamour and mystery. Carter's style is conversational, smooth, and clever, exposing Kat's wry humor and her steely determination. Amid themes of family loyalty and identity, the protagonist comes to understand herself, her beliefs, and her place in her family. Daring, delicious, but filled with a sense of purpose, Heist Society mixes classic elements of the adolescent bildungsroman into a high-stakes escapade."

MY REVIEW: I enjoyed it and found myself not wanting to put it down. I heard somebody compare it to Ocean's Eleven but I wouldn't go that far. You want to know what happens but it's not high suspense. I quick read but I liked it!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Breaded Ranch Chicken

As I planned this week's meals out, I needed something simple most days as I would be caring for a bed-ridden hubby this week. I have had this recipe stashed in my recipe box for some time now and decided it was time to give it a try. I'm glad I did. This is a simple,quick, and good tasting chicken recipe. Although not a 5 star recipe by any means, it was hearty and well liked in my house.

Breaded Ranch Chicken

3/4 cup crushed cornflakes
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1(1 ounce) package ranch salad dressing mix
8(4 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1. In a shallow bowl, combine the cornflakes, Parmesan cheese and salad dressing mix. Dip chicken in butter, then roll in cornflake mixture to coat. Place in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until chicken juices run clear

Here are the results:

Devil's Food Cake

Here's the description from amazon.com:
"It s been years since author Thom Mortenson has been back to Garrison, Colorado. As part of the committee who invited the bestselling writer to speak at the library fundraising benefit, Sadie Hoffmiller wants everything to be perfect right down to the homemade devils food cake she baked herself. Certainly, murder was not on the menu. When Thoms manager ends up dead on stage, Sadie jumps in to offer her guidance and expertise to investigators. But when the police refuse to take her seriously, Sadie has no choice but to pursue justice on her own. After all, is Sadie to blame if she keeps stumbling over information? Can Sadie turn her back when people intricately woven into the deception keep crossing her path? With her son, Shawn, at her side, her reputation on the line, and a full cast of suspicious characters, Sadie Hoffmiller is once again cooking her way through a case that offers far more questions than answers."

MY REVIEW:This book is 3rd as part of Josi Kilpack's murder mystery series, but each book can be read individually without a problem. I enjoy her combination of food loving, problem solving, heroin Sadie Hoffmiller as she tries to figure out the latest murder that she witnesses. With plenty of suspects, it kept me guessing until the very end.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Candy Shop Wars

I enjoyed the tremendously popular series Fablehaven by Brandon Mull and decided to try one of his other books out and listen to it while I was enlessly cleaning my house. Here's a description of The Candy Shop Wars from amazon.com:
"Welcome to the Sweet Tooth Ice Cream & Candy Shoppe, where the confections are a bit on the . . . unusual side. Rock candy that makes you weightless. Jawbreakers that make you unbreakable. Chocolate balls that make you a master of disguise. Four young friends--Nate, Summer, Trevor, and Pigeon--meet the grandmotherly Mrs. White, owner of the Sweet Tooth, and soon learn about the magical side effects of her candies.

In addition, the ice cream truck driver, Mr. Stott, has arrived with a few enchanted sweets of his own. But what about the mysterious man in the dark overcoat and fedora hat? Why are all these "magicians" trying to recruit Nate and his friends? Who should they trust?

The mystery deepens and the danger unfolds as the four youngsters discover that the magical strangers have all come to town in search of a legendary, hidden treasure--one that could be used for great evil if it fell into the wrong hands. The kids, now in over their heads, must try to retrieve the treasure first. And so, the war begins . . . "

MY REVIEW: It was a cute book and a little slower moving and less adventurous than the Fablehaven series, but fun nonetheless. It would be really fun to listen to with young children as it's easy to follow and fun. Overall, it was cute and fun.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Halloween Pretzels

My sister got this cute little Halloween pretzel kit from the store last year and we loved making these cute little edible chocolate pretzels. Here are the cute pictures:

Witch's Finger




They came in a little kit found here or you can go to Hancock Fabric and pick one up. They come with the little molds and, paint brushes, and colored chocolates. You do have to buy your own pretzel rods though. You don't have to color them different colors on the same rod,we just thought they looked cooler that way.

Happy Halloween!

The Actor and the Housewife

I recently just finished reading The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale. I couldn't put it down it was so good. Here's the description from her website:

"Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity heartthrob Felix Callahan. A few hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened, though nothing has happened...it isn't sexual. It isn't even quite love. But soon Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what's hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends--talk-on-the-phone, drop-everything-in-an-emergency, laugh-out-loud-at-stupid-jokes best friends.

Becky's loving and devoted husband, Mike, is mostly unconcerned. Her children roll their eyes. Her large extended family and neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special... something unusual, something that seems from the outside--and sometimes from the inside too--completely impossible to sustain.

On the surface, Becky's story of a steadfast housewife and the handsome star is the ultimate romantic fantasy. But the depth of emotion that Shannon Hale shows us in Becky is the strength that underpins only the strongest relationships. It is what makes this story resonate beyond the glitter of Felix's movie-stardom to the deeper understanding of the kinds of true love we all dream of having.

Shannon Hale has created a magical and often hilarious story that explores what might happen when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life, and changes everything."

MY REVIEW: LOVED IT! It's such an interesting basis for a story and so bizarre, you just want to know what happens. Shannon Hale is an incredible author and seriously made me laugh and cry in the book. Amazingly well written!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chilling Jack-o’-Lantern Smoothies

I got so many cute Halloween ideas from a recipe group I attended. One of my favorites was this Chilling Jack-o'-Lantern Smoothie. The original recipe was from Bettycrocker.com but we tweaked it a little to make it more simple. Here's the original recipe:

Chilling Jack-o'-Lantern Smoothies
1 tablespoon semisweet chocolate chips
4 plastic cups (8 to 9 oz each)
3 containers (6 oz each) Yoplait® Original 99% Fat Free orange crème or harvest peach yogurt
1/4 cup frozen (thawed) orange juice concentrate
1 can (11 oz) mandarin orange segments, chilled, drained
1 banana, sliced

1. In small microwavable bowl, melt chocolate chips on High for 1 minute or until melted. With tip of knife, spread chocolate on inside of each plastic cup to resemble eyes, nose and mouth of jack-o’-lantern. Repeat with 3 more cups. Refrigerate 5 minutes or until chocolate is set.
2. Meanwhile, in blender container, place all remaining ingredients; cover and blend until smooth. Pour into chocolate painted cups.

1 Tbs Nutella
1/2 bag frozen peaches
1 C. sugar
milk to desired consistency

1.With tip of knife, spread Nutella on inside of each plastic cup to resemble eyes, nose and mouth of jack-o’-lantern.

2.Meanwhile, in blender container, place all remaining ingredients; cover and blend until smooth. Pour into chocolate painted cups.

Here are the results:


Eat Pray Love

I've wanted to read this book even before the movie came out and I finally got the chance. Here's the description from BOOKLIST:

"Gilbert, author of The Last American Man (2002) and a well-traveled I'll-try-anything-once journalist, chronicles her intrepid quest for spiritual healing. Driven to despair by a punishing divorce and an anguished love affair, Gilbert flees New York for sojourns in the three Is. She goes to Italy to learn the language and revel in the cuisine, India to meditate in an ashram, and Indonesia to reconnect with a healer in Bali. This itinerary may sound self-indulgent or fey, but there is never a whiny or pious or dull moment because Gilbert is irreverent, hilarious, zestful, courageous, intelligent, and in masterful command of her sparkling prose. A captivating storyteller with a gift for enlivening metaphors, Gilbert is Anne Lamott's hip, yoga-practicing, footloose younger sister, and readers will laugh and cry as she recounts her nervy and outlandish experiences and profiles the extraordinary people she meets. As Gilbert switches from gelato to kundalini Shakti to herbal cures Balinese-style, she ponders the many paths to divinity, the true nature of happiness, and the boon of good-hearted, sexy love. Gilbert's sensuous and audacious spiritual odyssey is as deeply pleasurable as it is enlightening." by Donna Seaman

MY REVIEW: I loved this book when she was in Italy discovering her love of food; in India learning to mediate; but it lost my interest in Indonesia when she's trying to find love. It turns out what she's trying to find is LUST, not love. Totally inappropriate. Like I said though, her journey through Italy is so fun and yummy, and I loved her description of grueling yoga and mediation sessions.So my suggestion is if your going to read this book is to read the first and second part and end it there. You will not miss the ending.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Pumpkin Dip

Happy October! I would like to start the month with a fantastic recipe for pumpkin dip. I served this at a recipe exchange and everybody loved it!I served this with apples, graham crackers, and nilla wafers!

Pumpkin Dip

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese,
2 cups confectioners' sugar (I only used 1 and 1/2 Cups and thought it was perfect)
1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon frozen orange juice concentrate

1. In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gradually mix in the pumpkin. Stir in the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and orange juice until smooth and well blended. Chill until serving.

Here are my results:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Plain Potato Soup

I LOVE POTATOES! Just thought everybody should know. It's my favorite food and the one I would choose to eat for the rest of my life if somebody made me choose. Unlikely, but still. Here's a fabulous recipe for potato soup now that fall will be upon us soon. It's way simple and way yummy!

Plain Potato Soup

4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
water to cover
2 (12 fluid ounce) cans evaporated milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place the potatoes in a large pot over high heat. Add water to cover, about 1 inch over the potatoes. Boil for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.Do not drain.
2. Reduce heat to low and pour in the evaporated milk and the butter. Mash the potatoes in the pot with a potato masher. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.

Here are the results:

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cream Cheese Penguins

Already planning your Christmas Party? Me neither. BUT I do have a cute idea when that time comes around.... Cream Cheese Penguins! They are adorable. Kids love them and adults think they're cute too.

Cream Cheese Penguins

18 jumbo black olives, pitted
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese,softened (I used flavored cream cheese)
18 small black olives
1 carrot

1. Cut a slit from top to bottom, lengthwise, into the side of each jumbo olive. Carefully insert about 1 teaspoon of cream cheese into each olive.(If you use a plastic sandwhich bag with one corner cut off, this is much easier) Slice the carrot into eighteen 1/4 inch thick rounds; cut a small notch out of each carrot slice to form feet. Save the cut out piece and press into center of small olive to form the beak. If necessary cut a small slit into each olive before inserting the beak.
2. Set a big olive, large hole side down, onto a carrot slice. Then, set a small olive onto the large olive, adjusting so that the beak, cream cheese chest and notch in the carrot slice line up. Secure with a toothpick.

Here are my results:

The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner

On BYU TV, sometimes I see The Food Nanny. She helps people sit down and plan their dinners ahead of time. She's so bubbly and fun to watch. I met her at Swiss Days and she was just as energetic in person. She has a book: The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner.I've already tried her Crunchy Parmesan Baked Chicken and it was 5 stars amazing! I've cooked a few things out of her book and here are the results:

Mac & Cheese Kids Crave

First time I made homemade mac & cheese and we both loved it.

Northern-Style Corn Bread with Liz's Honey Butter

Husband said this was the best corn bread he's ever tasted. We also loved the honey butter.

French Baguettes

These were way easy by the way! And they were pretty good. I didn't have a baguette pan but they turned out chewy anyways.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Dark Divine

The description of The Dark Divine as found on amazon.com
"Grace Divine, a pastor's daughter, doesn't think she lives up to the name that her father tells her means "heavenly help." Her brother, Jude, a church volunteer whose faith seems unshakable, has always seemed to be the more "graceful" Divine. When his friend Daniel returns to town after a long and mysterious absence, Jude recognizes Grace's attraction to him but urges her to stay away with unusual vehemence. Against his advice, Grace begins a relationship with Daniel, whose reluctance to discuss his disappearance piques her curiosity. As she attempts to uncover the mystery of Daniel's past, Jude discourages her investigations with oblique references to an ancient evil and a transforming curse. The novel builds to a dramatic climax involving the surprise revelation of a Divine family secret and a violent confrontation that suggests a possible sequel. Despain's first novel mixes romance and the supernatural and offers true love as the ultimate defense against lycanthropes. This long novel is a slow starter, but as Grace discovers unexpected local connections to the mystery of Daniel's absence, the pace picks up and the suspense builds. Although not a novel of Christian fiction, the book's thematic investment in faith and sacrifice distinguishes it from traditional supernatural romances."

MY REVIEW: I really did enjoy this book. I thought it was another Twilight Ripoff, but it totally wasn't. This one actually had a plot and was very well written. It had me thinking and guessing up until the last chapter. I really liked this book and was glad I read it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Vegetarian Lime Orzo

Once again, I came upon this recipe by necessity. I had orzo I needed to use and have never cooked it before. This dish turned out spectacular. If I had a LARGE non-stick skillet, I surely would have used it in this recipe, since the orzo tended to stick. It just so happens to be vegetarian, but you can use chicken broth like I did if you aren't so strict in the vegetarian area.

Vegetarian Lime Orzo

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups orzo pasta
1 zucchini, peeled and shredded
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1 (16 ounce) can stewed tomatoes,undrained
1 (14 ounce) can vegetable broth
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese for topping

1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and orzo pasta; cook and stir until pasta turns a light, golden color, about 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini and carrots; cook until vegetables soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, vegetable broth, Italian seasoning, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium. Cover, and simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in the green onions, parsley, lime zest, and lime juice. Remove from heat, cool slightly, and serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Here are the results:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Asian Chicken Salad

I saw this on the side panel of a Keebler box one day and thought it looked yummy, so I tried it and it was! A nice change from a tuna sandwich. You can serve it on crackers or make a sandwich out of it. Here's the recipe:

Asian Chicken Salad


* 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
* 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
* 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
* 2 cups finely chopped, cooked chicken breast (I use canned chicken)
* 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
* 1/2 cup sliced green onions
* Keebler® Club® Crackers
* Coarse ground black pepper

1. In small bowl stir together mayonnaise, soy sauce and sesame oil.

2. In medium bowl toss together chicken, bell pepper and onions. Add mayonnaise mixture. Toss to coat. Serve on crackers. Sprinkle with pepper.

Here are the results:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Some of Saving Dinner's Food

I am a big fan of the Saving Dinner book and website. Here are a few pics of recipes from the book.
Fish in a Bag:

Skillet Chicken with Spinach:

Parmesan Drumsticks:

Warm Spinach Salad

Caramelized Garlic Chicken

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Caramel Filled Chocolate Cookies

If anybody ever asks me what my favorite cookies are, I tell them Caramel Filled Chocolate Cookies HANDS DOWN. I make mine with Rolos but I've made them with a king-sized Caramello bar before. They are so yummy! MY CHANGES ARE IN BOLD

Caramel Filled Chocolate Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup chopped walnuts (I hate nuts so I leave these out!)
1 tablespoon white sugar
48 chocolate-covered caramel candies

1. Beat butter until creamy. Gradually beat in white sugar and brown sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, and cocoa. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in 1/2 cup walnuts. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. I don't chill them, I don't have patience
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
3. Combine remaining 1/2 cup nuts with the 1 tablespoon sugar. Divide the dough into 4 parts. Work with one part at a time, leaving the remainder in the refrigerator until needed. Divide each part into 12 pieces. Quickly press each piece of dough around a chocolate covered caramel. Roll into a ball. Dip the tops into the sugar mixture. Place sugar side up, 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets.
4. Bake for 8 minutes in the preheated oven. Let cool for 3 to 4 minutes on the baking sheets before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Here are the results:


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms

I don't get why people don't like Brussels Sprouts. They are delicious to me and I needed a change of pace in my vegetable department. I'm sick of canned green beans. I loved this recipe.

Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms

4 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1/2 pound whole mushrooms
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
fresh lemon juice

1. Cook Brussels sprouts in a pot of lightly salted boiling water for 15 minutes, or until fork-tender; strain through a colander, removing as much water as possible. Set aside.
2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook and stir mushrooms until lightly browned. Toss Brussels sprouts with mushrooms, and sprinkle with parsley and lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Here are the results:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I ran across Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater on a friend's blog and since she seemed to like it so much, I decided to give it a whirl. Here's the description from the author's website:
"For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human... until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever. "

My review: SPOILER ALERT:I enjoyed The Twilight Series and my first thought when I read this book is "Total ripoff of Twilight". There are too many similarities for me to think this is another werewolf book. I'm pretty sure they even have pack members with the same name. The one thing I didn't like about Twilight was the stalker scenario between Edward and Bella, and that Bella actually LIKES it, and the same with this book. Sam is a stalker and Grace likes it. At least in Twilight they actually waited until they were married to "seal the deal" but in this book, NOPE, just do whatever you little heart desires.

So as you can see, I wasn't impressed. I wanted to be but wasn't. Sorry.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The BEST Zucchini Bread

Still have more zucchini? The only way my hubby REALLY likes zucchini is in zucchini bread form. I have to admit, I have never tried another zucchini bread recipe other than this because it always gets rave reviews and I figure "Why go searching when I've got what I want." It's also great because it doesn't have any eggs or complicated directions, just mix everything together! This recipe originally appeared in my church cookbook.

Zucchini Bread
1 C. sugar
1 C. brown sugar
1 C. Oil
3 C. zucchini,grated
3 tsp. vanilla
3 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 C. nuts/raisins, optional (I don't put in because of my preference)

Mix together, Bake for 1 hour at 325°F. Make 1 (9X13 inch pan) or 2 loaf pans.

Here are the results:

Right out of the oven

Yummy Goodness!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Connie's Zucchini 'Crab' Cakes

Are you exploding with zucchini's out of your ears? Well have I got a recipe for you! Connie's zucchini 'crab' cakes were awesome. Although they claim to taste like crab, I didn't think they did BUT they did taste great in their own way. I followed some popular review on allrecipes.com and instead of frying them, baked them in a 400°F oven for 15 minutes ON EACH SIDE. I also used Panko bread crumbs on mine since they needed to be used up. Mine also needed another egg. So what if I changed the recipe a bit, that's what good chefs do right??

Connie's Zucchini 'Crab' Cakes

2 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup minced onion
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning TM
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying

1. In a large bowl, combine zucchini, egg, and butter or margarine. Stir in seasoned crumbs, minced onion, and seasoning. Mix well.
2. Shape mixture into patties. Dredge in flour.
3. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until hot. Fry patties in oil until golden brown on both sides.

Here are the results:

Not the best picture I've ever taken, but it's a work in progress.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Spaghetti Pizza

Every once in a while, you run across a recipe you know will become a family staple. I thought this recipe that combined Pizza and Spaghetti was a great idea and it turns out, it was. Nothing that blows your socks off, but still pretty good. Hubby says it tastes like lasagna, but that's a good thing in his eyes. Great recipe the kids will love.

Spaghetti Pizza I
1 (8 ounce) package spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 (16 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
4 ounces pepperoni sausage, sliced

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and cool.
3. Beat egg in large bowl, add milk, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese, salt and garlic salt. Stir in cooked spaghetti, mix well.
4. Spread mixture evenly in greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Spread sauce over spaghetti. Sprinkle with oregano, basil and the remaining 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese. Top with pepperoni, return to oven and bake for 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

Here are the results:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lemon Pepper Green Beans

My sister just picked a ton of green beans and I had to find a good recipe for them quick! I had some almonds I needed to use up so this one fit nicely. Hubby adored them so it's a keeper.

Lemon Pepper Green Beans
1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed and trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 teaspoons lemon pepper(I reduced this to 1 tsp)
1. Place green beans in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water. Cover, and cook until tender but still firm, about 10 minutes; drain.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Saute almonds until lightly browned. Season with lemon pepper. Stir in green beans, and toss to coat.

Here are the results:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Paula Deen's Bayou Banana Puddin'

I usually don't make a ton of desserts, but I'm glad I made this exception. I saw Paula Dean on TV one day making this and it looked delicious. I had my niece come over and help me clean one day and decided we needed to do something fun. I only had to run to the store to get vanilla wafers but I had everything else on hand. This was a spectacular dessert! I think it's going to be one of my all time favorites!

Bayou Banana Puddin'

1 (8-ounce) package Philadelphia cream cheese
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (5-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups cold milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1/2 (12-ounce) package vanilla wafers
4 bananas, sliced

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in the condensed milk, pudding mix, cold milk, and vanilla until smooth. Fold in half of the whipped topping.
Line the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch dish with the vanilla wafers. Arrange the sliced bananas evenly over the wafers. Spread with the pudding mixture. Top with the remaining whipped topping. Chill for at least an hour and a half.

Here are the results:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Blueberry Muffin Murder

I chose a book randomly at the library and actually enjoyed it. Here's the description from amazon.com

"In her third top-of-the-line culinary cozy (after 2001's Strawberry Shortcake Murder), the delightful amateur sleuth Hannah Swensen once again faces murder and mayhem with good cheer. To fight the late February doldrums, Lake Eden, Minn., is about to celebrate its first winter carnival with ice sports on the lake, activities for children and Hannah's delicious cookies from her shop, the Cookie Jar. The whole town is involved, and even Hannah's mother, who usually spends her time trying to get Hannah married, has found a new interest in recreating the home of one of Lake Eden's founding fathers. Connie MacIntyre, bestselling cook book author and star of a popular cable TV cooking show, has agreed to make the cake for the carnival banquet. But when Hannah discovers Connie's dead body in the pantry of the Cookie Jar, Hannah and her sister Andrea join forces to track down the killer, despite warnings by one of her boyfriends, policeman Mike Kensington, to stay out of the investigation. Since everyone who had contact with the abusive Connie disliked her, the sisters have plenty of suspects. Delicious food descriptions and recipes, warm and familiar characters who grow into real people (Hannah's increasing respect for Andrea is a highlight), a vivid picture of the small lake town and a well-crafted mystery provide the ingredients for yet another tempting feast that should satisfy all fans, old and new."

MY REVIEW: A very good, clean, murder mystery that I could follow, even though I hadn't read the whole series. Even though I guessed whodunit about half way through, I still enjoyed it. I'll probably pick up another one in the series sometime