Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mousse in Almost a Minute

This is such a quick and easy recipe. It's not very chocolatey or too sweet, just thick and creamy with a touch of chocolate. I tried the Symphony bar with nuts before, but it didn't mix well with the cream. Too much oil or something? So stick with the plain! This time I only had one candy bar left so I made it with just 4.25 oz. of candy bar, but it still tasted yummy.

Even Sabrina, who rarely even tries new desserts, enjoyed this one. Of course Robin (who is very picky and doesn't have a sweet tooth) made a face at it so the kids got to split it. I tried to be good and only had a spoonful. But I don't want to know how much fat was in even that one spoonful!

Mousse in Almost a Minute

1 (7-oz.) Hershey's Symphony Creamy Milk Chocolate Candy Bar (plain)
2 c. heavy cream, whipped

In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate over low heat. Gradually add melted chocolate to whipped cream. Ready to serve or refrigerate.

Suggestions:
*You can put in parfait glasses and top with raspberries or chocolate shavings.
*Put in pie crust and top with strawberries.
*Smooth in between layers of baked puff pastry.
*Add a sprinkle of cinnamon in when mixing.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Nippy Egg and Cheese Buns

I found this recipe somewhere when I was a newlywed. Robin always ate "2 eggs and 2 toasts" for breakfast every single morning. I thought it was boring for him to eat the same thing every day and it was boring for me to make the same thing every day. So I found a few recipes and tried them out. This was the first. He was confused about why I'd change his usual breakfast. ??? But he likes it now.

I looked for the recipe online to see if I could find where it came from. There are many copies of it out there online, but I noticed that they all call for 2 T. ketchup. Robin and I don't like ketchup much so I guess I deleted it from my copy of the recipe. You can also try putting a slice of ham on the English muffin before adding the filling. I added crushed red pepper for a bit of a kick.

Nippy Egg and Cheese Buns

2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (4 1/2-oz.) can chopped ripe olives
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 red or green pepper, seeded and finely chopped
4 English muffins, split
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
2 t. prepared mustard

Preheat broiler. Mix cheese, olives, red or green pepper, onions, eggs, and mustard until well combined. Arrange buttered English muffins on a baking sheet and broil until cut sides are slightly browned. Remove from oven and divide egg mixture evenly among the 8 muffin halves, spread it to edges. Broil, about 4 inches from heat, until cheese is melted and lightly browned. 3 to 5 minutes.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Frog, Skunk, Turtle

Having a birthday party for Sabrina in December is always a challenge. I want to make it fun and have it early enough that her friends haven't left on vacation yet or are booked with Christmas activities, but the whole month is already so busy. Last year I was good and planned early. This year Sabrina started planning months in advance, but kept changing her mind on what kind of party she wanted.

She wanted to have a party that no one has had before and I think she succeeded! She had a frog, skunk, turtle party and it was very difficult finding any ideas online for it or any decorations. We eventually decided to concentrate on the colors green, black and white. Here are the invitations that we put together.
Then we started with the decorations. Here is a silly picture taken from the family room through the streamers to see the green, black and white beads hanging from the light in the dining room.
Here is the table, set to eat. Each of the water bottles either had green ribbon or black and white ribbon. After setting it all up it looked more like a Mardi Gras party than a 7-year old's party, but it was too late to change it.
We bought a little frog that had a motion sensor and croaked each time someone came close to it. We put it on the front porch next to the door. Sabrina decorated it with rocks and fake plants. Every time a friend would come by, the frog would croak and surprise them. There was also a sign on the door that read, "Hop on in!"
We usually do pizza or some other real food, but this time it was only dessert. We had Stanley the frog. I don't know why I named him that. Don't laugh at my sad attempt at this fun
dessert. Or the kids could choose a scoop of vanilla ice cream with junior mint ears and chocolate syrup on the sides for Skipper the skunk, or a scoop of either ice cream with turtle shell poured on top for Slowpoke the turtle. (I didn't get pics of those not as cute options.)

Sabrina doesn't like cake. Her very favorite dessert is Rocky Road Bars. We made them with stripes of chocolate chips and marshmallows this time to make it look like skunk bars when we cut them.


I bought a bag of rocks at the dollar store, along with some goggly eyes. They painted the rocks green and glued the eyes on to make little frogs. That craft was WAY too easy for 7 year olds! It was very fast.
She had sooo much fun with her friends!
See her smile???? They are playing frog, turtle, skunk (instead of duck, duck, goose).
Move the turtle egg relay.
Froggy jump


Havin' fun hangin' out!
Impromptu funky dog song performance by Sabrina

Turtle says (like Simon says of course)


We started with all the kids sitting back while Sabrina started opening her gifts, but the kids got closer....
and closer...


and closer!!!!
It seemed like the kids had fun and Sabrina definitely did! Happy birthday, Sabrina. I can't believe my baby is 7!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bringing the Christmas Spirit

I was so happy that we got tickets to see "El Salvador del Mundo" the Saturday before Christmas. It's the Spanish version of "The Savior of the World" that the LDS church originally showed in Salt Lake during the winter olympics there. This was the first time I saw it though.
It is a musical production about the birth of Christ with beautiful music. If you'd like to read the whole script you can read it HERE. The whole play has the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, but this one we went to was only the first half since it's near Christmas. We waited in a crowded area before the doors opened to be seated. (Elisa said that Robin looks like a secret agent ready to kidnap her back there.)

Before it started and after it was over we were able to take a few quick pictures, but no flash photography was allowed during the show.



Three of our friends were in the production and we are so proud of them. They were so awesome! As you can see, Alex snapped a photo of Gabriel in his costume, but I didn't get one of Sofia or Veronica all dressed up unfortunately. But I did include pics of them.


The musical told the well-known nativity story, starting with Elisabeth and Zacharias singing of their desire to have a baby. It ends with the shepherds coming to visit the newborn Christ. Sabrina was sitting on my lap to see better for most of the play so I translated parts to her. Although they show that Elisabeth and Zacharias will have a baby, John the Baptist, they don't talk about him being born at all. So at the end of the production, Sabrina asked, "What about John the Baptist?" Then Alex asked the same thing a few minutes later. I was surprised he asked because the play was in Spanish and all my children know very little so I wasn't sure how much he could follow, even with it being this story that they know. Alex was on the other side too far to hear my translation.


For me, besides seeing these three talented actors/singers we know on stage, my favorite part was the song where Joseph and Mary are both singing a prayer in a duet. Mary told Joseph what the angel told her and they are both worried about what will happen with her not being married, but being pregnant. I always think of how faithful she must have been to be chosen for this enormously important task and what an honor it was, but how very difficult it must have been, to say the least. She had to worry that her life was in jeopordy and her fiance may not want to marry her after all. Even though these two people were faithful and chosen, Heavenly Father did not make their life easy. They had to suffer like we all do. I can feel their agony in the song. But also, the song ends with them both praising God. I know these aren't the exact words of their real prayers, but I can imagine that it was similar.

Joseph and Mary in the play didn't wait until there was a resolution to their problems or until the trials passed to praise Him. In the very prayer where they asked for knowldege and help, they acknowledge the goodness of our Heavenly Father. That made me stop and think. When I am praying, asking for something, whatever it is, how often do I praise Him in the same prayer? To me, the song is a beautiful example of what I need to do more often.

As the play was over and the actors were walking off the stage, two of the women who were playing angels were crying, touched by the music and story about Jesus. They hugged each other up on the platform where they stood. I imagined that when He was born, so many angels really did cry tears of joy.



I loved the production so much that I went to the LDS distribution center and bought a copy of it (they only have it in English) on CD. We've listented to it MANY times since I bought it last week. Apparently some stakes or wards have put on their own productions of it in their areas. Have you ever heard of it or seen it?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Austrian Cream Cheese Bars

This recipe came from a Pillsbury bake-off. I'm not sure if it was a winner or a finalist, but this is one of my favorites. I made two batches and took them to our ward Christmas party. I sprinkled green and red sugar on top of them for a festive touch. I cut them into small squares so it would feed more people and I taste-tested one of them before we left. I didn't have any dessert there, but was in the mood for these when I got back home. Luckily for my hips, I didn't save any and there were none leftover at the party. I love the combination of chocolate and cinnamon. You bite into the thin chocolate shell, into the cool, creamy layer and then the cinnamony crust. Mmmmm!

The only thing that is a big tricky is the chocolate chip shell that you spread on top. If you leave the pan in the refrigerator too long and then try to cut them into bars, the chocolate has become hard and will break and crack on top. It still tastes good, but doesn't look too pretty. So let the chocolate set a little so it's not melty, but not too hard yet. Then cut them into bars and return them to the refrigerator.
Austrian Cream Cheese Bars

Crust:
1 ½ c. flour
½ t. cinnamon
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 c. margarine, softened
Topping:
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
¾ c. sugar
6 oz. (1 c.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 T. flour
Glaze:
6 oz. (1 c.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ -3/4 c. chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 350º. In large bowl, combine all crust ingredients. Beat at medium speed about 2 minutes or until crumbly and well blended. Press mixture into ungreased 9x13-inch pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven.

In small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and eggs at medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1 c. chocolate chips. Pour over partially baked crust. Bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until topping is almost set. Remove from oven; immediately sprinkle with 1 cup chocolate chips over top. Return to oven for 1 minute to melt chips. Gently spread melted chips over top. Sprinkle with nuts; lightly press into glaze. Refrigerate 1 hour. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Tradition of Celebrating

I have seen so many festive and fun church Christmas parties around my home and on friends' blogs. There are so many creative and willing people to help their wards or congregations feel the spirit of Christmas. Since our little branch opened with 6 families about 4 years ago, we have always had the same celebration for our Christmas party--a dinner, a talent show and a dance. If you know much about the Latin American culture, you know that no party is complete without a dance.

We are now a large ward and it takes a lot of food to feed all of us. But Friday we enjoyed a delicious dinner followed by the talent show. There are several members in our ward who are in different folklore dance groups and they helped to bring color and fun to the stage.


Here is happy Sabrina walking back to me with her daddy. We as a primary (I'm the secretary) put together little candy bags for each child and a family home evening jar for each family. The jar just has little strips of paper with ideas for a lesson with a scripture and song. (Who knew such a simple idea would take sooooo many hours to put together?)

Then the piñatas--

I have to admit that I am not a fan of them. Why?? We have been to so many parties with them over the years and it's almost always the same thing. First, it's a scary danger with a child wielding a large stick around a group of small children anxious to get as close as possible to the piñata to see better and in case it opens suddenly. I can't tell you how many times there have been near misses. I thought it'd be better this time since, for some reason, the children weren't blindfolded, but as you can see, the children intent on destroying the hanging ball of candy do not pay much attention to anything or anyone around them.

And then at the end when it finally is broken open, someone has not gotten a turn yet and is in tears. Plus everyone dives for the candy, but always the older children (even older teenagers often times) grab huge piles of food and leave little for the smaller children, which causes more tears. And even when there is a kind child who shares with someone who didn't get any, it's just not the same to that child so the tears don't stop. Oh, my! It's a party and it's supposed to be fun.

While all the piñata drama was going on, the dance was starting. And in case you don't know, a Latin dance is different than most American dances. In the Latin culture, they play different types of music (classics, pop, ballads...), but the whole family dances to just about all the songs. So you see grandmas out on the floor dancing next to teenagers. It's so fun. Robin and I used to go Latin dancing just about every weekend before we had children, but we rarely do now so it's good to get a chance once in a while. Hope you had a good Christmas party!


Pepperoni, Mozzarella & Broccoli Pasta Salad

I have been making this for a very long time and can't believe I haven't blogged it before. My family got this recipe when my sister...