Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Peanut M&M Cookies

What's your favorite kind of M&M's? Mine is definitely Peanut M&M's...not peanut butter--ewww! Emily at Visions of Sugar Plum loves 'em too, so much that she created this cookie recipe using them. It's colorful and fun and tastes YUM! I like soft cookies and was afraid this cookie would be too crunchy, but it's not. As Alex said, "The edges are crispy and the middle is soft." I was so good and only ate one of these beauties. I had to taste it before I gave them to friends and to review it for you, my nice readers. So I sacrificed.
I did find it a little tricky cutting through the logs with the hard peanuts. It kinda mooshed the cookie slices, but I molded them back into shape. It was probably my fault for not cutting with the "courage of my convictions" as Julia Child would say.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Peanut M&M Cookies

2 1/2 c. unbleached flour plus an additional 1/4 c.
1 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/3 c. creamy peanut butter
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. peanut M&M's
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease cookie sheets using preferred method.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, baking soda and salt.In a large mixing bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, beat together butter, peanut butter, sugar and granulated sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla until well combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in flour mixture until combined.

Divide dough into two bowls. In one bowl, beat in additional 1/4 cup flour until combined; stir in 1/2 cup M&M's. In additional bowl, beat in cocoa powder until combined; stir in 1/2 cup M&M's. Lightly cover dough and chill in the refrigerator or freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.

Form dough into two balls, shape into logs, and wrap in separate pieces of plastic wrap; chill for
10 minutes.

Place additional 1/2 cup peanut M&M's in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Remove cookie dough logs from freezer, press together, and roll into crushed M&M's to coat the outside. Cut log in half, wrap logs in plastic wrap, and chill for 10 additional minutes.

Slice logs into 1/2-inch thick rounds, place on cookie sheets, and bake for 14-15 minutes, or until golden brown around edges. Cool 1 minute before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Yield: About 3 dozen cookies

Fond Memories?

Here is another random thing I wanted to share. On church on Sunday, Sabrina drew this picture of the temple. (For my friends who are not LDS, our temples are special buildings that are even more sacred than our church buildings. We go there to learn and make promises to the Lord for ourselves and to make those promises in behalf of people who have died without having the opportunity to and we believe they have to choice to accept those ordiances or reject them. If you would like to know more, click here.)Then she drew her family inside the temple. She remembered that there is a baptismal font, which she drew above us and wrote "Baptis the dead". Then below us is what she remembers most about temples. The waiting room and the mother's room (you can barely see it on the left of the waiting room). She has had to wait in the waiting room for 3 of my siblings' sealings with other family members---sometimes for a very long time, huh, Sheri and Jon? This just made me smile!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Back After 5 Years

I have so many random things to post right now so I might be posting two posts a day for a few of days. Somewhere in there will be a new cookie recipe that I tried. I'll just say that there's peanut butter and there's M&Ms. Don't forget to come back and check.

Today I spent several hours organizing the basement, which meant going through lots of boxes full of memories and fun surprises---and too much trash that I put in the recycling can. One thing I found was Alex's time capsule that he made on Sept. 8, 2004 to be opened in 5 years. So it's not terribly late. He was so excited to open it since he didn't remember what was in it besides a paper airplane that he made with his dad.

It was a bit hard to get into it, but he finally made it.

There were three photos--one of him with his sisters and two of him making the time capsule in his boy scout's uniform. There was also a paper with questions like "What do you want to be when you grow up?" His answer was "an art teacher" even though it's changed several times since then. For quite a while it was an engineer at Boeing and then recently it was a video game tester. Uggg! But lately he just says, "I don't know."

The Original

Have you heard of William Steig? He was a famous cartoonist for the New Yorker starting in 1930 and had won many awards for his children's books. He passed away in 2003. I had read his book Doctor De Soto about a mouse dentist who has different animals for his patients, but I didn't know that was the same author until I looked it up online after I spotted this book at the library and just had to check it out. It is pretty similar to the DreamWorks' Shrek movie in some ways and very different in others. There's an ugly green ogre named Shrek who is mean. He meets a donkey and they go together to rescue an ugly princess from a castle where he sees a dragon protecting the gate.
The dragon ends up being nice and he gets to rescue his princess with no name. She is very ugly, not like the more likeable Fiona. There were no funny fairy tale characters and no Lord Farquaad to laugh at. Sabrina said that the story was confusing. It did use some unusal vocabulary for small children. Although we probably won't be checking it out again, I thought it was fun to see the original Shrek.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall is Here...Maybe

It is officially fall, but it's going to be around 90 degrees today. Of course, in true Utah climate fashion, Wednesday will be in the low 50s. I like it in between those two, but that rarely happens for more than a day or two at a time here. Too bad!

I have been taking a lot of pictures lately so I'm sharing them here. The first few are of Sabrina with her newest cousin Aileah. When the kids and I went up to Boise to visit my sister Tiffany and her husband Adam in the spring, we bought these matching dresses. Sabrina was so excited that they could finally wear them together.

Then we got my kids together with all of their cousins--yep, 3--from my side of the family. Tiffany, Heather and I were clicking away with our cameras. They were so nice to sit for us. And of course I think they're the cutest bunch of kids around!

I can't believe that I only took one photo of Tiffany while she was here! We miss you already, Tiffany! We'll have to come out to get more photos of you and ones with Adam and the improved house....someday.
I took the kids out to Hobble Creek Canyon for a quick photo shoot to try to get some fall colors. There are some red trees out there, but still lots of green. We'll have to go back in a few weeks for more color.





Gotta let 'em be silly sometimes!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

Just made this last week for the first time, after having it sit in my to-try file for a very short time. It just kept calling my name since I found it at Two Little Chefs and I'm so glad I made it. The roasting vegetables made the house smell so wonderfully delicious. I added baked chicken to it since my hubby thinks he'll surely faint if he doesn't have some kind of meat for dinner every day. I loved all the veggies and the creamy fontina.

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

2 red peppers, cored and cut into 1-inch wide strips
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 butternut squash, skinned and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cremini mushrooms, halved
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 t. salt, divided
1 t. freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 T. dried Italian herb mix or herbs de Provence
1 lb. penne pasta
3 c. marinara sauce
1 c. fontina cheese, grated
1/2 c. smoked mozzarella, grated**
2/3 c. Parmesan, grated and divided

Preheat the oven to 450º. On a baking sheet, toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and onions with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and dried herbs. Roast until tender, about 25 minutes.


Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes, not until completely cooked through since it will finish cooking in oven. Drain in a colander.
In a large bowl, toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, cheeses (half the Parmesan), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix, until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined. Pour the pasta into a greased 9 by 13-inch pan. Top with the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes.

Tips from The Two Chefs:
*I would suggest roasting the squash about 10-15 minutes before you add the other vegetables. If you don't, you'll end up with either perfect zucchini, mushrooms and peppers and slightly crunchy squash, or squishy zucchini, mushrooms and peppers and perfect squash
**Using smoked mozzarella will add a distinct flavor to your dish. If you don't like the smokey taste or can't find it in your supermarket, regular mozzarella will also do.
Yield: 1 very large 9x13 pan

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chocolate Raspberry Streusel Squares

My daughter Elisa keeps telling me that I should change the name of my blog. When I started the blog, it was with the intention of having somewhere to record my random occasional thoughts. I came up with the name of my blog pretty quickly, without giving it much consideration. I started sharing recipes (with no pics at first) from time to time. But now I seem to post more recipes than ponderings. It’s not really that I cook and bake more than I think (well, sometimes I do), but it’s easier to post a recipe than to sit and write out my thoughts coherently. Writing does not come easily to me and it never sounds polished even after a few drafts and I usually just throw my thoughts onto the computer and post my first draft. Soooo, I will probably keep posting more recipes than thoughts despite my blog name. Sorry, Elisa.

I just found this recipe in some of my very old files and made it since I had all the ingredients and I’ve been in the mood for coconut. I made a few little changes to the recipe and came up with this. When I put it together, you could see the very white coconut, but after baking, the chocolate chips melted and the jam bubbled and spread so the coconut kind of hides in the layer, but you can still taste it. I really like the mixture of flavors. I didn’t have any more raspberry jam (my favorite), so I used blackberry. Use your favorite kind!

Chocolate Raspberry Streusel Squares

1 1/4 c. flour
1 1/4 c. oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar firmly packed
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
3/4 c. butter or margarine, chilled and cut into pieces
3/4 c. raspberry jam
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 c. chopped almonds
1/2 c. flaked sweetened coconut
1/2 c. semi-Sweet chocolate chips, melted, optional

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine flour, oats, sugars, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture is crumbly. Reserve 1 cup oat mixture for streusel. Press remaining oat mixture onto bottom of ungreased 8-inch square baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Spread preserves evenly over hot crust to within 1/2 inch of edges. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup chocolate chips and coconut. Combine reserved oat mixture and almonds, if desired; sprinkle over morsels, patting gently.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired. Let chocolate set before cutting into squares. Store tightly covered.

Won Ton Salad

I got this recipe several years ago from Kristin, a friend who is a phenomenal entertainer. I wish I knew if she had a blog because I know it would be so fun! I serve the dressing and won tons on the side since some people like them, but not everyone. And when I serve it at home, I serve the chicken on the side so that all of us can throw in the amount of chicken we want and then Robin can heat his portion up. He doesn’t like cold chicken even in salads. ???

Of course, you can use any vegetables you’d like. I used tomatoes since we didn’t have water chestnuts and have sometimes used celery. I left out the almonds due to allergies here, but it is sooo good with them.
Won Ton Salad

Dressing:
4 T. rice vinegar
4 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 T. sesame seeds
1/2 c. oil
Salad:
1 lg. head lettuce
2 c. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1 c. water chestnuts
3 - 4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/4 c. sesame seeds
1 sm. pkg. won ton wrappers, sliced in strips and fried
Dressing:
Heat vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, sesame seeds and mix until sugar is dissolved. Add oil and put in jar; refrigerate.
Salad: Chop chicken and lettuce. Toss all salad ingredients together. Shake dressing well and pour over salad just before serving.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More Valuable Than Gold

“No man is too rich or too poor to play with his children.”
Bryant S. Hinckley, Not by Bread Alone [1955], 84

Just as mothers have a unique role in a child’s life, fathers are important and influence children in a way that only they can. I am grateful for a father who was willing to spend time with me when I was growing up. I remember him teaching me Army exercises like keeping my arms up on my sides until they ached when we lived in Georgia, eating his Army ration peanut butter (gross!), playing baseball in the backyard and handball on the porch on Phillips Avenue, him being willing to wear a wig during a silly game at a daddy-daughter primary activity (too bad I can't get my scanner to communicate with my computer!), and him waking up when it was still dark outside every single day to take me to early morning seminary and even going outside before me so he could warm up the car for me in the winter. I love you, Daddy.
My children adore their father and love to spend time with him. I love to see them laughing and playing together. I hope that they have many sweet memories to pass on to their children.
“When I was called to be a mission president, I was fearful that at a most critical time in the lives of my eight children I might not have sufficient time to be a good father. I was determined that being a father was a more important call from the Lord than being president. That meant that even though I would dedicate myself to the mission, I would double my dedication as a father. I knew that in order to preside effectively in the mission, I must first preside well at home. I spent much time with my family, knowing they were the only ones who would still be mine at the end of my mission. If they felt secure and happy in the early days of our mission, things would go from good to better.
“One of the first orders of business was to throw a big rope over a high limb on the huge ash tree that towered over our front yard. [A missionary] climbed the rope and tied it to the limb. Thus the giant mission home swing was born. With the swing came instant neighborhood friends for our younger children.

“A few months after our arrival, we attended a mission presidents’ seminar. Each president, asked what he felt was his best idea so far, reported on some program which he felt had enhanced the work. When my turn came, I said, ‘The best thing I’ve done so far is to build a swing.’ Everyone laughed. President S. Dilworth Young was amazed and asked, ‘What?’ I described the swing and explained that my major goal was to be a good father. … The swing became my symbol of this setting of priorities. Later came a basketball standard and a sandpile. Our yard became a park where I spent much time with my children and where they settled for three happy years. I believe they will forever remember with joy their time in Kentucky and Tennessee.”
George D. Durrant, Love at Home, Starring Father [1973], 18–20

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fortunately...Unfortunately

I often have very random memories come back to me for seemingly no reason. Am I the only one? I call them flashbacks. Well, the other day I had a flashback of a book that I read more than 25 years ago and I don’t think I’ve seen it since. All I could remember about it is that the whole book told a story with a bunch of sentences that started with “Fortunately…” and then “Unfortunately”. Anybody else read this before? I looked it up online since I was curious about it and found it on Amazon.com and it is called (of all things) Fortunately by Remy Charlip. Here is a little bit from the book: “Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party.
   Unfortunately, it was a thousand miles away.
Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane.
   Unfortunately, the motor exploded.

Fortunately, there was a parachute in the airplane.
   Unfortunately, there was a hole in the parachute.”

I also looked online and found out that they have it at my local library so I’m going to check it out this week to share it with my kids! But since I was thinking of that book, I thought I’d do today’s post in the same format. I don’t have a story to tell, just random (not necessarily interesting) happenings.

Fortunately, I got to sleep in on Saturday.
   Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough bread to make French toast like I was craving.
Fortunately, Elisa was in the mood for pancakes so she made them for all of us!
   Unfortunately, Sabrina had never eaten a pancake in her life because she thought they looked gross.
Fortunately, she decided it was time to try them…for some strange reason.
Fortunately, she loved them!
Fortunately, I found this conditioner on sale a while ago so I thought I’d try it.
   Unfortunately, the bottle is VERY annoying and rigid so you can’t squeeze the thick conditioner out and if you try it makes a very loud POPPING sound that echoes in our shower and you just end up twisting the cap open and shaking some out anyway.
Fortunately, it’s almost gone and I will have a new kind of conditioner soon, hopefully a quiet conditioner.
Fortunately, tonight I am going to my sister Tiffany’s birthday party while she is here visiting from Georgia! Unfortunately, I will miss the 2-hour season premiere of House M.D. after a suspenseful finale last season. I even thought about having a premiere party with a silly medical theme with a few friends, despite Elisa thinking I was going a bit crazy. But of course I'd rather spend the night with my family!
Fortunately, I got a lot done this morning.
Unfortunately, I put on my make-up, but didn’t blow-dry my hair before I started on housework so my hair dried funny.
Fortunately, I have a flat-iron so I was able to make my hair look better.
   Unfortunately, my flat-iron is the worst! I have to give it a hard, 2-handed squeeze and go down my hair VERY slowly to straighten my hair. Anyone know of a good flat-iron I could buy??? Seriously!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pretzel Crusted Caramel and Chocolate Brownie Cups

I was making treats for a few people so I wanted to try something new. This one is fun and combines sweet and salty, which I love. I have raised Elisa into a cake mix snob--she doesn't like them, like me. I might buy one mix every year or two since I just don't like them. But I decided to try this recipe as is since it is slightly faster than whipping up from-scratch batter. I didn't tell Elisa until after she ate some and asked for more. She couldn't believe I used a mix, but that didn't stop her from wanting more.

This gooey, yummy treat is Stephanie's creation. Her blog Stephanie's Kitchen is full of scrumptious recipes. Stephanie is also a contributor to Cafe Zupas where she posted this one. I made these into mini muffins. To make the caramel easier to pour, you can add a little evaporated milk or water while you are melting them.

Pretzel Crusted Caramel and Chocolate Brownie Cups
1 German Chocolate cake mix
1 egg
1/2 c. butter

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, egg and butter until smooth. Scoop batter 2/3rds full into a muffin tin sprayed with non stick spray. Scoop 1 tablespoon pretzel crumble on top of brownie batter. Pat down lightly. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges are set.

Pretzel Crumble:
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 T. brown sugar
1 c. crushed pretzels

1/3 bag of caramels, melted until creamy
1 c. milk chocolate chips

Immediately after taking the brownie cups out of the oven, pour caramel over the cups, and then sprinkle with chocolate chip.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Goal for One is a Goal for Both of Us

I'd like to share this short story that I read in a book with talks from the 2008 BYU Women's Conference.


"When I was a young boy, my mother sang in the Tabernacle Choir. That meant Sunday dinner became Dad’s responsibility.



As children, we thought nothing of it. Dad never expressed any resentment for the added duty of fixing Sunday dinner so that we could eat when Mom came home from choir. In fact, he seemed to delight in it.



When the choir was asked to sing at a special worldwide satellite broadcast from Mt. Rushmore, Dad could hardly wait to see Mom on television. When the camera panned over to Mom, Dad smiled and exclaimed, “There she is! Did you see her?” To put the scene in today’s world, it was like Mom had just been named the winner of American Idol.



Mom had wanted to sing in the Tabernacle Choir for years, but she never mentioned it. Then when the time was right, it just happened without a lot of fanfare. She was pursuing one of her personal goals in life. But her goal became as important to my dad as it was to her. He owned her goal as much as she did. It wasn’t his goal to sing in the Choir, but it was his goal to help her reach her goal to sing. It was as important to him as any of his own goals. So rather than feeling burdened by fixing Sunday dinner every week, he seemed to enjoy it, because that meant that the one he loved as an equal partner could do something she really wanted to do. He was doing what the Lord wanted him to do, and in the process, learned to love doing it."

Russell T. Osguthorpe, "Celestial Marriage: The Role of Redeeming Love"


I appreciated reading this and thinking about my own marriage. Do my husband's goals become important to me because they are important to him? For as long as I knew him, Robin wanted his own business. I was afraid of it and tried to help him find a job that he would enjoy and that would erase those thoughts, but it didn't work. It was his goal. I finally decided that I needed to put my own feelings aside, after praying about it and feeling that it was more important for me to support him like I would want him to support me. It hasn't been easy for him, but he has loved having his own business and many experiences that he has had because of it, despite the downs that come with the ups--especially with this current bad economy.

I also am grateful to him for his support me with my goals. When I have had callings that required a lot of time, he never complained about the time I was away or the hours I spent working on callings at home. I appreciate his effort to support my on-again, off-again school attendance and asking me what he can do so I can go back, even if he has to ask me a hundred times and still doesn't remember that I want a degree in molecular biology one of these years. He doesn't actually cook like the husband in the story, but he is willing to arrange his schedule so that I can accomplish my goals.

Just this week he told me that I should tell him what day I'd like him to be home when the kids get home so I can have the day off. I told him that the kids are all in school all day now so everyday is like a day off. He told me he'd like me to do something I enjoy and not have to worry about rushing home. I better take advantage of that offer! And I'm so grateful for him thinking of me and my comfort and goals, even while he is struggling to keep his goals alive. I'm so blessed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Double Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies

I found this recipe at 4 Every Kitchen and tried it for the first time last week. We all liked it, even Sabrina. I think I will add more cherries and a little less chocolate chips next time. It's a very thick, soft cookie. I only baked mine for about 12 minutes since I don't like crispy cookies. And Elisa had begged me to make them because she was having a chocolate craving and didn't want me to chill them, so I skipped that step. I didn't mind eating the chocolate sooner either, but don't tell her that. It didn't seem to hurt the cookies at all, but I'm sure they look more uniform if you chill and slice them.

Double Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies

1 c. flour
¾ c. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 t. baking soda
¼ t. kosher salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 c. sugar
¼ c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg, at room temperature
¼ t. vanilla
¾ c. semi-sweet (58%) chocolate chips
1/3 c. dried sour cherries

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the egg, mixing well. Stir in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture n three batches, mixing until incorporated after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips and cherries down the sides of the bowl. Refrigerate the dough for a few hours until firm. Turn the dough onto a clean work surface and divide it in half. Roll out into 2 uniform logs about 12” long. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate again until firm enough to slice. Preheat oven to 350°.

Line the bottom of 2 rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place the slices 1½” apart. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the dough looks just baked. Don’t overbake. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and let the cookies cool for a few minutes before eating.
Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Is Anybody Listening?

"Home is where you can say anything you please, because nobody pays any attention to you anyway."
Joe Moore
You mean it's not just my family who ignores me???

Monday, September 14, 2009

What's Cooking?

We checked this cookbook out at the library and I asked the kids to tell me what they thought about the book. The pros are that each recipe has a big color photo and there is a hidden spiral spine so the book lies flat. But they didn't see many recipes in it that they wanted to try. Elisa says the recipes are kind of boring (French toast, French fries) or not food she'd want to try (ratatouille, vichyssoise). There were a few cute recipes like chocolate rats made out of dried apricots dipped in chocolate with licorice whiskers and rolled Starburst for tails that we didn't try yet. We did try these two.
This is called Eiffel Tower Cookie Sundae, but it's not really a recipe. It just tells you to use sugar wafers like building blocks and make this shape without other instructions. It wasn't as easy as it looked and the girls got frustrated that they couldn't make it look like the photo in the book. It says to serve it with ice cream and chocolate syrup to make it a sundae, but the girls didn't want to.
This was the one Thomas Keller (chef and cookbook writer) recipe in the cookbook. It has LOTS of butter and more cocoa than flour so it's very chocolatey! Robin and Sabrina loved them. Elisa, Alex and I thought they were good, but nothing special. I made them in my muffin pan with removeable bottoms to make it easier.
Chocolate Bouchons
3/4 c. flour
1 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 t. kosher salt
3 large eggs
3/4 c. plus 2 T. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
3 sticks unsalted butter, melted and just slightly warm
6 oz. (3/4 c.) semisweet chocolate chips
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350º. Place muffin liners in a 12-cup muffin pan. Set aside.

Sift the flour, cocoa, and salt into a large bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, mix together the eggs and sugar with handheld mixer on medium speed for about 3 minutes or until very pale in color. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then 1/3 of the butter, and continue alternating with the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. The batter can be refrigerated for up to a day.

Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full. Place in oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When the tops look shiny and set (like a brownie), test one cake with a toothpick: it should come out clean but not dry.

Transfer bouchons in their liners to a cooling rack. After a couple of minutes, invert the bouchons and let them cool upside down in their liner; then lift off the liners. Invert the bouchons and dust them with powdered sugar. Serve with ice cream, if desired. (The recipe says they’re best eaten the day they are baked. We ate some the day after and they tasted fine.)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Grilled Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I made this meal for the first time tonight and it was a hit at our house. I found it on Good Lovin' On A Plate . It was juicy and full of flavor. Instead of cutting up the onions and tomatoes and grilling them, I cut each in half and grilled them and then cut them up.

Grilled Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 large onion
1 large tomato
1 bottle sun dried tomato dressing/marinade
Salt, pepper and garlic to taste
2T butter


Marinade chicken in 3/4 of the bottle of dressing overnight or at least for 2 hours. Slice onion, and tomato. Place chicken on grill to start cooking. While chicken is cooking, place onions in a pan with butter and saute. When chicken is almost done, baste with leftover marinade that you did not use. Place onions and cut up tomatoes on grill to smoke. When chicken is done, take off grill, and spread onions and tomato on to serve.

Friday, September 11, 2009

NOW Is a Good Time

I was listening to a talk on CD that I recently got called No Time Like Now by Troy Dunn. ($3.99 at Seagull Book, you guys!) Troy was reading the beginning of John chapter 20. He emphasized part of it that I hadn’t though about before.

John 20
2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.
3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.
4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

Usually when we read this chapter, we talk about Jesus and the resurrection, but Troy talked about how when Mary saw that Jesus was not in the sepulchre, she didn’t say, “I’ll have to tell the apostles about this next time I see them.” She ran. And Peter and John, as soon as they heard, ran to see—so fast that it even mentions how John outran Peter. Troy asks if we respond with the same urgency when we are called to do something, whether called by the Spirit or by a leader. Do we run to visit the families each month? Do we run to do our callings?

It made me think about those questions, but also “Do I run to find Jesus?” When I am tempted, do I run away from temptation and run to Jesus or do I walk or even stay a while before reluctantly dragging my feet? When I feel discouraged or down, do I run to Jesus (prayer, scriptures…) or do I wallow in my pity? I will keep in my mind that when I am doing my calling, I am not just completing a task, I am running to Jesus. When I run to someone’s aid, I am running to Jesus.

I happened to see these great handouts/bookmarks at Emma's Place a week or so before I listened to the talk. (Check out her blog for GREAT lesson and visiting teaching handouts!)
Both the CD and the bookmarks remind me that when I am calling children’s parents to remind them of a talk, printing agendas, taking care of attendance or any other primary secretary duty, I am doing what Heavenly Father needs me to be doing. Those things that He wants me to do are really more urgent and important than many other things that occupy my time.

"Brethren and sisters, we are living in a time of urgency. We are living in a time of spiritual crisis. We are living in a time close to midnight. There is an urgency to meet the worldwide spiritual crisis through action now. It can only be accomplished by performance. Procrastination is a deadly weapon of human progress. Thank God there is no need of a shortage in the oil of preparedness. It is accumulated at will, drop by drop, in righteous living."
Marvin J. Ashton, “A Time of Urgency,” Ensign, May 1974, 35