Wednesday, March 31, 2010

When the Call Comes

I have so many posts floating in my head and a couple I've started on my computer, but I can't seem to find the time to sit and finish them. I read this story in Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's book Broken Things to Mend, Chapter 11, "When the Call Comes" and wanted to share it. It is from an address on November 4, 2007 at an eastern and southern Utah stake conference. It has been in the Ensign before, but maybe someone doesn't remember it or never read it.

In the late 1800's (from what I gather) there was a group of people sent to an area in Utah that was along the Colorado River (fairly close to Orderville) called the Muddy. They were sent to settle the area, grow cotton and teach the Native Americans. Apparently, this area was barren and living there was very difficult. Most people who were called there would say, "Of all the places on earth, why the Muddy?" I think I would have felt the same!

Elder Holland tells about a teenage girl named Elizabeth Claridge McCune (1862 - 1924) who lived in Utah. If any of you have ever been to (or through) Nephi, you might chuckle at Elizabeth's thought that the city of Nephi was precious, but compared to where she was sent, I'd agree.

“No place on earth seemed so precious to me at fifteen years of age as [the city of] Nephi [Utah]. How eagerly we looked forward to the periodical visits of President Brigham Young and his company! Everything was done that could be thought of for their comfort and entertainment. And with all it was a labor of love.

“We went out with our Sabbath Schools and all the other organizations, with bands of music and flags and banners and flowers to meet and greet our beloved leader and his company. On one occasion the people were lined up on each side of the street waiting for the carriages to pass. Among them were twenty-five young ladies dressed in white who had strewn evergreens and wild flowers along the path. Bro Brigham, Bros Kimball and Wells with the entire company got out of their carriages, and walked over the flowery road . . . to our homes, [where] dinner was prepared and served.

“We all attended the afternoon meeting, the girls in white having reserved seats in front. The sermons were grand, and we were happy until President Young announced that he had a few names to read of men who were to be called and voted in as missionaries to and settle up the ‘Muddy.’ This almost stilled the beating of the hearts of all present. Many of our people had been called to go to settle the Dixie country—but the Muddy, so many miles farther south! And so much worse! Oh! Oh! I did not hear another name except ‘Samuel Claridge.’ Then how I sobbed and cried, regardless of the fact that the tears were spoiling the new white dress. The father of the girl who sat next to me was also called. Said my companion, “Why, what is you crying about? It doesn’t make me cry. I know my father won’t go.’ ‘Well there is the difference,’ said I, ‘I know that my father will go and that nothing could prevent him, and I should not own him as a father if he would not go when he is called.’ Then, I broke down sobbing again. . . .

“We had just moved into a new house and were fixed comfortably. Many of our friends tried to persuade father to keep his home and farm; to go south a while and then come back. But father knew that this was not the kind of mission upon which he had been called. ‘I will sell everything I own,’ said he, ‘and take my means to help build up another waste place in Zion’”
(in Young Women’s Journal, July 1898, 292-93).

What an example of obedience, faith and service Elizabeth's parents must have been for her to know without a doubt that they would heed the call, despite the challenges and dramatic change in lifestyle. I hope that I can show my children that same example with my actions. Not that I want my decisions to move them to tears, but I would feel so proud if my child ever said or thought such a thing of me! And apparently Elizabeth learned a lot from her parents, as shown in her comment "I should not own him as a father if he would not go when he is called" and in her later callings. I know that I have learned the meaning of selfless service as I have seen my parents serve in their callings, whatever they have been called to do. I am grateful for their example to me and I hope that I can teach my children to serve willingly as well.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake

After a stressful and busy week last week (that I was grateful was full of blessings too), I was glad to see a new week begin! I was ready for 2 things to help me feel better—sleep and chocolate. I actually took a half-hour nap while watching a DVD with my children so that helped with the first. That might not seem like much, but I N-e-v-e-r take a nap. I never even lay down during the day. But this time I was so tired that I drifted off.

So I still had the second one to take care of. And I wanted an over the top great dessert. I saw this recipe at Brown Eyed Baker. (If you’ve never been there, you must visit! I have several of her other recipes in my to-try files.) Michelle found the recipe at Smitten Kitchen (another SUPER food blog…in case you just HAVE to find more even though you already have tons of recipes and cookbooks, like me). Isn’t this recipe an awesome idea? Chopped brownies mixed into cheesecake with chocolate ganache on top?

Believe it or not, I wanted to figure out something even more over the top to do with this recipe. So I thought of three options. 1) Add orange extract and orange zest to the cheesecake batter. 2) Add chopped up cherries (fresh, dried or maraschino) to the cheesecake batter. 3) Add a layer of caramel before adding the ganache and top it with pecans (on a small part of it). All three sounded good to me, but I decided to try #3.

This really was a choc-o-laty cheesecake. In fact, it was so chocolaty that I couldn’t taste the gooey caramel. That was unfortunate. Michelle mentioned that a friend of hers recommended doubling the crust so she included the crust ingredients for the doubled amounts. So I doubled it. I would not do that next time. The crust was too thick and even hard. Another problem with the crust is the overload of butter. I cut it down in my copy of the recipe. Michelle said to put the cheesecake on a cookie sheet to catch any drips, but I had no idea what a big puddle of butter would pour out. See the butter at the top left corner of the cookie sheet? I should have used one that had sides.
Well, it definitely satisfied my sweet tooth and my desire for chocolate! And it was a lot of fun making it with Elisa, even with the extra step of making brownies (which made picky Sabrina very happy since she ate some of the leftovers instead of cheesecake). And I think it’s pretty. But in all honesty, the cheesecake part was not as good as The Cheesecake that I usually make. But it was still amazing and I don’t know how many days it will last in my refrigerator. Any of my family or friends who live close wanna come pick it up? Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake

Part One: Brownies

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
¾ c. (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
1¾ c. sugar
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
½ t. salt
1 c. flour

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Grease foil.

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix well. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minute or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan, using foil handles.

Cool brownies, then cut them into 3/4- to 1-inch squares for use in the cheesecake (I used a pizza cutter, per Deb’s recommendation). You will have more than the two cups of cubes, loosely measured, than you will need, and I’m sorry, you’re just going to have to decide for yourself what to do with the extra. Add cubes to cake batter as directed below.

Part Two: Crumb Crust

1½ c. or 5 ounces finely ground Oreos, or other chocolate cookie
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/8 t. salt

Stir together ingredients and press into bottom and 1 inch up side of a buttered 10″ springform pan. Fill right away or chill for up to 2 hours.

Part Three: Cheesecake

3 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 t. vanilla

Make crumb crust as directed above for 10-inch cheesecake. Preheat oven to 350°.

Beat together cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.

Fold brownie cubes in very gently and pour mixture into prepared pan. Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan. Pour filling into crust and bake in baking pan (to catch drips) in middle of oven 45 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken.

When completely cool, top with following glaze.

Part Four: Ganache Glaze

3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 T. (½ stick) unsalted butter
¼ c. heavy cream
½ t. vanilla
1 T. powdered sugar

Place finely chopped chocolate in a medium size mixing bowl. Scald the butter and cream together in a saucepan (or in the microwave on HIGH for 1 minute). Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in vanilla and then whisk in powdered sugar until smooth. Spread over cheesecake while ganache is still warm. Chill until ready to serve.

Monday, March 29, 2010

We All Talk to Ourselves. What Do You Say?

What is your self-talk like? Do you congratulate yourself for doing something great? Do you compliment yourself on the color of your eyes or friendly smile? Or do you spend more time thinking about your flaws, whether physical or otherwise? I know that I do not give myself enough silent compliments—or even out loud so my children can hear that it is GOOD to give praise to yourself. I’ve been remembering a dance I saw before (almost a year ago), which I mentioned on this post.

I found this video, Flawz by Caitlin Crosby, which has a great message. When I saw first saw it and then saw a photo of the singer, my first thought was, “Of course, it’s easy for Caitlin to sing about since she is a thin, gorgeous singer with obvious talents.” But I after a minute, I thought that maybe the reason she did sing it, is because she knows how it feels to concentrate on negative things and even be blinded by those and not see the positives.

Then I popped over to Rambling Rachy's blog where she is starting a challenge to share our compliments on her blog. Great idea, huh? Not only does it give us a reason to THINK great things about us, we get to write them down and share them. She is looking for people to participate in the fun and inspiring challenge, so check it out!

What is something about you that is unique and makes you “YOU”? I wanna know.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Trish's Blackberry Lemon Lime Bars

When I saw these on WishTrish's blog (her own creation), I knew it was something my family would like. I had never thought of putting berries in lemon squares before, but they taste as delish as they look! I think my blackberries were too small because even though I added extra blackberries to it, they still didn't look as berry-y as WishTrish's. Next time I will definitely add more.

You could always just add the berries to your favorite lemon squares recipe or try this lemon lime one. I advise you to grease your pan WELL. My bars stuck to the pan quite a bit.
Trish's Blackberry Lemon Lime Bars
For Shortbread Crust:
1/2 lb. unsalted butter, softened (1 cup)
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 c. flour
1/8 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease well a 9x13-inch pan. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Combine flour and salt and add to the butter mixture just until blended. Dump dough onto well floured board and gather into a ball. Knead a few times. Flatten dough into greased pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

For Blackberry Lemon Lime Filling:
4 extra large eggs (5 large)
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. lime juice
1/2 c. lemon juice
1/3 c. flour
12 extra large blackberries, gently cut in small pieces
Lemon zest, if desired or available

While shortbread dough is baking, begin the filling. Whisk together eggs and sugar well. Add lemon and lime juices, mixing well. Add flour, and zest (if desired). Gently cut berries, but do not add to liquid. When crust is finished browning, remove from oven and immediately pour egg mixture over lemon filling. Drop berry pieces over the surface of the lemon filling. Reduce temperature to 300º and bake an additional 25-35 minutes, or until set when touched with the pad of your finger.

Let cool completely before cutting. Keep refrigerated. Before serving, dust with powdered sugar and garnish with an additional berry and mint leaves.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lunch with Melanie

Today was a really fun day. I was so excited! I had lunch with Melanie, who I have "known" for quite a while now, but have never met. We had been on the same email group and then she visited my blog from the blog list there. And she commented and I visited her blog (now private) and we got to know each other a little bit. When she recently mentioned she was coming out to Utah from California, I thought it would be fun to actually meet her. She was nice enough to take time during her vacation to have lunch with me. She is as bubbly and kind as she looks!
While we were planning our meeting, Melanie asked me what was a good restaurant for lunch. She was staying in American Fork so I wanted to choose something close to her, but didn't know many restaurants there. Then I thought of Cafe Zupas. I have heard great things about it and have wanted to try it, but just hadn't yet. So that's where we went. We were sure glad we did. Besides the fun conversation and getting to meet Melanie's four children and her friend Courtney who was soooo nice to travel out here with her (our husbands were working), we enjoyed some really yummy food. I will definitely be going back---again and again! It's great that all their food looked just like the photos on their website.
Melanie orded the Wisconsin Cauliflower Soup with a sandwich, but I was so concentrated on the conversation, that I didn't even notice which sandwich.
Courtney had the Summer Chicken Salad, which I want to try sometime soon.

I had the Nuts About Berries Salad. Lo-o-oved it! Half salads are big.
But I also had the Milano panini--Ham, Tomatoes, Muenster Cheese, and Pesto Spread (perfect amount of pesto). And each order comes with a chocolate covered strawberry. Since I ordered so much, I got to take some home to enjoy tomorrow for lunch.

The desserts look absolutely amazing! I didn't get any, but am planning on going just for desserts some time. I am drooling over the Caramel Rockslide Brownie, but they have several cheesecakes that are tempting too.

But back to Melanie! I got to hear the story of how she met her husband and how he proposed and some other fun things, but time passed quickly. Luckily she'll be coming out to Utah again some time and we'll get together again!
This is Melanie's baby. Isn't she so adorable with that bright flower? And her three boys remind me of little knights who protect their little princess sister. They were so polite and waited while we talked and visited, even though they were excited to go to the Treehouse Museum in Ogden after we were finished. Not once did they say, "Let's go" (like my kids probably would have).
I hope you get home safely, Melanie and come back again!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

One by One

I have a quick post today. I wanted to share this video with you. I took my children to the EFY Steady and Sure Concert in 2008 and loved the music so much that I bought the CD and listened to it so many times. This is one of my favorite songs from it. It reminds me that while the atonement was for everyone, it was also very personal for each one of us. And Jesus loves us each individually and will come to each of us to succor us in the unique way that we need Him and He knows how.

"One by One" Performed by Hilary Weeks

When the night is clear enough I can see through Heaven's door.
Endless stars like endless sand upon the ocean's shore.
Of all the human lives to plead, or ever that will be.
I stand amazed that Heaven knows me.

He hears one by one, loves one by one.
When this crowded world around you, doesn't know your name.
He knows us, one by one.

When he saw the hungry thousand, every person ate.
Comforted the aching the soul, and looked into each face.
And when he had a world to save, he had a world of time
To stop and hold a little child.

He hears one by one, loves one by one.
When this crowded world around you, doesn't know your name.
He knows us one by one.

He notices it all, the sparrow when it falls,
The sheep within his fold, every person breathed
Was born upon his soul, one at a time he makes us whole.

He hears one by one, loves one by one.
When this crowded world around you doesn't know your name.
He knows us, one by one.
The way he loves you is one by one.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You Gotta Try Flaxseed

I’m sure if you’ve seen more than one recipe that I posted (like the Super Peanut Butter Filled Brownies that I just updated to include the brownie part of the recipe, the one I use when I make it. Thanks to Mindy for pointing out that I didn’t paste that part of the recipe!), then the last thing you’d expect to see here is nutritional information. It is true that I have a dangerous sweet tooth, but I love fruit and vegetables and I do try to balance (sorta) the foods I eat.

A year or two ago, I found a recipe for a smoothie that included flaxseed. I decided to try it so I bought flaxseed for the first time. I was nervous that I wouldn’t like the taste. It is high in fiber so I was thinking wheat germ. It is definitely not like wheat germ. It has a nice nutty flavor. I’ve been using it almost everyday since then.

You can buy the whole seeds (that look kinda like colored sesame seeds) or flaxseed meal (ground flaxseed). If you do buy the seeds, you need to grind them before eating in order to get the full nutritional benefits since most of the good stuff is trapped inside. I usually just buy the flaxseed meal. There's golden flaxseed or brown flaxseed. I've heard golden has slightly more fat than the brown, but another source said there was no signicant difference.
I store it in my refrigerator or freezer to keep it fresh and I’ve heard you need to store it in an opaque package so that light cannot get to it. The package I usually buy them in (unless I get it in bulk) is opaque so no problem there.

In my grocery store, I have found the flaxseed near the flour in the area where you see all the great Bob’s Red Mill products. There are a couple of other brands at some stores too. Also, I have found it at Sunflower Farmers Market and at a smaller, local health food store in bulk—both the seeds and the meal.

So what is so special about flaxseed? I am no expert, but everything that I’ve read about it makes it sound like a wonder food. Seriously!

The first reason I had to keep using it was that I saw that the oil in flaxseed is 50% Alpha-linolenic Acid, the plant version of omega-3. I learned as a young college student that omega-3 is an essential fatty acid, meaning that our bodies need it to grow and function correctly, but it has to be consumed since our bodies can’t make them on our own. As most people know, a good source of omega-3 is fish, but I don’t eat fish (I’m strange, I know) so I immediately switched from using vegetable oil to canola oil, which has more. But when I found out (all these years later) that canola oil has only 10% compared to flaxseed’s 50%, I decided to add it to my diet.
The second reason I like flaxseed is the amazing amount of fiber packed into these shiny, little seeds! According to the Bob’s Red Mill package, “Just two tablespoons of flaxseed meal delivers 4 grams of fiber, as much fiber as 1 ½ cups of cooked oatmeal.” Who doesn’t need more fiber?

Flaxseed contains much higher levels of lignans than any other plant food. Lignans are natural antioxidants, so they help protect your cells against free radicals. This is great for many reasons in our awesome bodies.

There is evidence (studies are still being done to find out more) that consuming flaxseed can help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. I don't want to be too much of a nerd here so if you’d like to read a little more about the benefits you can read here at:
WebMD or
The World's Healthiest Foods

How do you eat flaxseed meal? I try to eat or drink 3-4 tablespoons a day. Every time I have a smoothie, I toss in the flaxseed meal. It gives it a great taste. (One warning—the meal is sticky once wet and will stick to the side of your blender and glass if you don’t rinse it out soon after using.) I also have sprinkled it on my oatmeal, cold cereal, yogurt or even ice cream. (Trying to balance things a bit, remember.) You can add a little to your baked goods like pancakes, breads, or muffins or even replace ¼ to ½ cup of flour called for in a recipe (as long as it calls for 2 cups or more of flour) with flaxseed.
Most people aren’t allergic to flaxseed, but I’ve been afraid to try it out on Sabrina so far. We do have an Epi-pen so maybe one day I’ll sneak it into chocolate chip cookies, one of the only desserts she’ll eat besides rocky road bars.

If you use flaxseed, how do you use it? If not, think you’ll be trying it now? I’m curious.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Random Tuesday

Why is it that you spend your first several years wishing and wishing that you didn’t have a bedtime and waiting for Fridays to stay up late…

(Alex would often fall asleep screaming and holding onto the bars of his crib.)

then when you finally don’t have anyone to tell you when to go to bed, all you think about all day is, “When do I GET to go to bed?”
Or maybe that’s just me!

Sabrina was reading a book to me that she is reading in her reading group at school. It was about the history of the White House and a little about the rooms inside. When she read that in the Oval Office there was a rug that had the Presidential Seal on it. She stared at the picture and said, “I think it looks like a bird. Not a seal.” (I agree!)

Then at the end of the book, it said that if you became President someday you’d live in the White House. I asked her if she wanted to be President. She said, “Yeah, but it would be a lot of work. What does the President do anyway?” After discussing some of the Presidents duties, her eyes got big. “I just wanna LIVE in the White House. I don’t want to do all that.” Such a cutie.
Just for fun, here’s a Spanish lesson for the day. It’s really a Spanish song that I like, but it has the words in Spanish and English so if you don’t know Spanish, you could pick up a word or two, but you’ll have to be fast!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Super Peanut Butter Filled Brownies

Last week I had guests coming over for dinner and was trying to plan a dessert. I started thinking about these divine brownies that I had made a long time ago and started craving them. I started searching all my computer files, unable to find the recipe. I remembered they were brownies with a creamy, not-too-peanut buttery topping, but I didn’t know the name. Finally I decided to search my pile of recipes I had from when I used to print off recipes all the time. I mostly just keep everything on my computer (and back up) now. Then I found it. I actually had printed it off twice I had liked it so much. I found out that I made them in 2007. What?! How could I not make them for so long after having tasted this perfectly decadent dessert? So we really enjoyed the dessert (and made sure to give away lots because I would eat them ALL if they stuck around) and I added the recipe to my computer cookbook file so we can have them again, before 3 years from now.

I doubled the recipe and baked them in a 9x13-inch pan for 22 minutes. It was fudgy and not at all overbaked. You could use a brownie mix and put the filling on top. I searched online to try to find out where I originally found them and found them at Recipezaar and realized that is where I found them. The original recipe has a little less cream, but several people who reviewed the recipe said it made a fugdge topping more than a filling, so I changed it to a little more cream and the filling layer is creamy and soft.

Super Peanut Butter Filled Brownies
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/2 c. butter
2 eggs
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1/2 oz. semisweet chocolate (1/2 square)

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1/4 c. butter, softened
3-4 T. cream
1 oz. semisweet baking chocolate
1 T. butter

Preheat oven to 350º. In a small saucepan, melt unsweetened and semisweet chocolates with butter over low heat, set aside to cool slightly. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar until light and pale colored. Mix in 1 tsp vanilla. Add flour, salt and melted chocolate. Stir to combine.

Pour into a greased 9 in square baking pan. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until brownies test done with toothpick coming clean but with moist crumbs clinging to it. Do not overbake. Cool.

For filling, mix peanut butter and butter in a mixing bowl and mix until thoroughly combined and smooth.Slowly add powdered sugar,mixture will be a bit crumbly. Blend in cream until mixture is fluffy and reaches desired spreading consistency. Spread over cooled brownies. For glaze, melt chocolate and butter in saucepan, stir until smooth. Drizzle over the filling. Chill well before cutting.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

He Can Mend It

I have been so busy that I haven't been able to post as much recenty as I'd like. Then two of my children and I got a bad cough from a virus. I have been working on a special post, but I don't know enough about Blogger to get it to come out right yet. Soooo I wanted to share a couple of quotes with you. After wanting to read Broken Things to Mend for so long, I finally got it from the library and just started reading it. I didn't realize that it was a compilation of Elder Holland's talks from various years. Most of them are General Conference addresses, but some are talks at universities or conferences. The first chapter is his General Conference address from April 2006 called "Broken Things to Mend". You will probably remember him reading this poem. I just think it's such a beautiful poem with a message that we can all relate to and understand.

"If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort. If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope. If you are poor in spirit, please know you can be strengthened. If you feel you are broken, please know you can be mended."
In Nazareth, the narrow road,
That tires the feet and steals the breath,
Passes the place where once abode
The Carpenter of Nazareth.

And up and down the dusty way
The village folk would often wend;
And on the bench, beside Him, lay
Their broken things for Him to mend.

The maiden with the doll she broke,
The woman with the broken chair,
The man with broken plough, or yoke,
Said, "Can you mend it, Carpenter?"

And each received the thing he sought,
In yoke, or plough, or chair, or doll;
The broken thing which each had brought
Returned again a perfect whole.

So, up the hill the long years through,
With heavy step and wistful eye,
The burdened souls their way pursue,
Uttering each the plaintive cry:

"O Carpenter of Nazareth,
This heart, that's broken past repair,
This life, that's shattered nigh to death,
Oh, can You mend them, Carpenter?"

And by His kind and ready hand,
His own sweet life is woven through
Our broken lives, until they stand
A New Creation—"all things new."

"The shattered [substance] of [the] heart,
Desire, ambition, hope, and faith,
Mould Thou into the perfect part,
O, Carpenter of Nazareth!"

George Blair, "The Carpenter of Nazareth," in Obert C. Tanner, Christ's Ideals for Living (Sunday School manual, 1955), 22.
The second quote that I'd like to share is from Chapter 2, "A Prayer for the Chidren", Elder Holland's April 2003 General Conference talk.

"Carl Sandburg once said, 'A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.' For that baby’s future as well as your own, be strong. Be believing. Keep loving and keep testifying. Keep praying. Those prayers will be heard and answered in the most unexpected hour. God will send aid to no one more readily than He will send it to a child—and to the parent of a child."

I know a few friends who are having different struggles with their children and this made me think of them. It is so true that Heavenly Father loves the children so much (even the teenagers) that He will try to touch the hearts of that child who is in need as well as those around him or her to come to the child's aid. We have the right to such special blessings as parents. I'm very grateful for that since raising children is not easy, no matter how much you love your dear ones.

I'm sure I will find a lot more inspiration from this book and I already have pondered about the cover and will share my thoughts with you about that some time soon.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cinnamon Chip Crescents

You haven't used cinnamon chips yet? Here is another recipe that uses them, along with the Cinnamon Fudge and Banana Cinnamon Chip Cake that I've made and enjoy. This is a super easy recipe that we really like. It's easy to throw extra stuff in with the cinnamon chips too if you'd like--nuts, marshmallow creme, dried fruit or chocolate chips. I only make half of the topping to drizzle the crescents instead of cover them like an icing.
Cinnamon Chip Crescents

2 (8-oz.) cans refrigerated crescent rolls
2 T. margarine, melted
1 (10-oz.) pkg. cinnamon chips, divided
1 ½ t. shortening

Preheat oven to 375º. Unroll dough; separate into 16 triangles. Spread melted butter on each triangle, Sprinkle 1 cup cinnamon chips evenly over rolls; gently press chips into dough. Roll up triangles. Place rolls, point side down, on ungreased cookie sheet; curve into crescent shape. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Melt remaining 2/3 cup chips with 1 1/2 teaspoons shortening. Drizzle onto warm crescents.

Monday, March 8, 2010

He Holds My Heart

Probably all of us have at one time or another (or many, many times), gone to our Heavenly Father in prayer, pleading for Him to answer a concern we have, to help reslove a problem or to just help us to feel His love. One of my favorite places to go and mediate with a prayer in my heart for many years has been Rock Canyon Park in Provo. I love sitting up where I have a view of the valley where I can see so many houses and building scattered among the trees, and cars that look like little ants on the roads.
It always helps me feel grateful for what I have and somehow closer to the Lord. It might seem like it would make me feel like a tiny piece of dust among all of these people and creations. But instead, it helps me to see how tiny my problems are compared to so many. I just remember all the people I know who are suffering with different problems and what they might be doing at the moment. In the hospital, at home in pain, worrying about a wayward child... Then I look at all those houses and think of so many other things that the people who live there might be suffering through. And I am certain that Heavenly Father hears each one of us and feels our pain. I am certain that He already has help "in the works" if we don't feel it now. And I feel so grateful for all the blessings He gives me daily.
And I look up at the mountains that stand so majestic and tall. Heavenly Father made those rise from the flat earth. It took a very long time, but amazing things were accomplished in the Lord's time and in His way. Things that only He could do. I know that He can do that with me too, if I just do what He tells me to do and stay close enough to the Spirit to know what He wants. (Easier said than done!)
And there are even little groves here and there. I think Rock Canyon Park will always be one of my favorite pondering spots.
I'm very grateful to know that my Heavenly Father always hears me and will answer me when He is ready to (and when I am ready to receive). This song reminds me of how so many people feel at different times in their lives--alone, in need, reaching. We can't always see it or feel, but He really is always holding our heart!

"Hold My Heart" by Tenth Avenue North

How long must I pray, must I pray to You?
How long must I wait, must I wait for You?
How long 'til I see Your face, see You shining through?
I'm on my knees, begging You to notice me.
I'm on my knees, Father, will you turn to me?

One tear in the driving rain,
One voice in a sea of pain
Could the maker of the stars
Hear the sound of my breakin' heart?
One light, that's all I am
Right now I can barely stand
If You're everything You say You are
Won't You come close and hold my heart?

I've been so afraid, afraid to close my eyes
So much can slip away before I say goodbye.
But if there's no other way, I'm done asking why.
Cuz I'm on my knees, begging You to turn to me
I'm on my knees, Father, will you run to me?

One tear in the driving rain,
One voice in a sea of pain
Could the maker of the stars
Hear the sound of my breakin' heart?
One light, that's all I am
Right now I can barely stand
If You're everything You say You are
Won't You come close and hold my heart?

So many questions without answers, Your promises remain
I can't sleep but I'll take my chances to hear You call my name
To hear You call my name.

One tear in the driving rain,
One voice in a sea of pain
Could the maker of the stars
Hear the sound of my breakin' heart?
One light, that's all I am
Right now I can barely stand
If You're everything You say You are
Won't You come close and hold my heart?

Hold my heart, could you hold my heart?
Hold my heart.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ultimate Orange-Raspberry Brownie Muffins with White Chocolate

You know the other day when I posted Alex's sugar cookie recipe and I let you all think that I actually had some kind of self-control when it comes to dessert since I didn't eat any cookies??? Well, I didn't have any cookies, but it's only because I also made these brownie muffins and I ate one of these instead. Now you know my secret. I have NO willpower at all. Yeah, it was never a secret.

I used the recipe that I've used for years for Ultimate Brownie Muffins as a base. I always make them into mini muffins. One of these days I'll have to take another picture of them because the photo I have on that post does NOT do the chocolatey goodness justice! (The muffin recipe is at the end of the post. It was at the beginning of my blog when I posted a bunch of recipes in a single post.)

This time I decided to make them more special-and full muffin size so it would be faster. I grated orange peel into the batter and used orange juice instead of vanilla. I chopped some white chocolate baking squares (white chocolate chips would work great) and threw that into the batter too. Then I filled the muffin cups half-way, spooned a little raspberry pie filling into the middle, and covered that with more batter. These muffins are great as is, but I thought I'd make them even MORE special since they were for Alex's birthday celebration so I put some chocolate frosting and more raspberry pie filling on top.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Scriptures for Kids

While I was searching for some primary (children's group in the LDS church) information online, I came across a new site that I think is great. It is Angela Robert's site called Scriptures for Kids. It's still in Beta so it's not complete, but you can get on right now. They have scripture stories with pictures that children can read on their own. There are 4 different levels for each page so that children of different levels can all read it. They even have a button to click on to hear the text read to you. (Sounds great for kids learning to read or even for adults learning English.) On each page there is also a question you can click on that will help you apply the story to your own life. Right now they have the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants up and they are working on the Bible stories.

They also have a game available now and will release 30 new games expected in the summer. And just because you readers are so special, Angela sent me some a peek of some of the games that I included below. (Okay, she sent them because she's so nice, but you're still special to me!)

There are also FHE ideas and coloring sheets!
Of course, this won't replace reading our scriptures, but it will help the stories stick in their heads. Children love just about anything on the computer so it'll be great to have them spending time learning gospel stories and thinking about the least some times. My younger children (even my 14 year old) thought it was fun and kept clicking to listen to the story narrations while we were cutting sugar cookies.
Isn't it so nice that it's free??? Be sure to check out the donate page if you would like to help cover some of the costs or the volunteer page if you'd like to help translate text into different language. They have people helping with German, Spanish and Romanian right now. That'll be fun too!
So pop on over and check it out and then become a fan on Facebook at Scriptures for Kids to get updates. The site has only been up for a month and they already have 2,576 fans on their Facebook page and have had 3000 visitors on their site from 61 countries.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Soft Sugar Cookies

In our family we don't always have cakes for birthday celebrations. We just have the birthday girl or boy's favorite dessert. I was so surprised when I asked Alexander what he'd like for his birthday dessert and he said sugar cookies. I wasn't expecting it because I never make sugar cookies and didn't even know he liked them at all. I had to search for a good recipe for soft sugar cookies and found these pretty frosted cookies at Christy's The Girl Who Ate Everything. I made the dough while the kids were in school and then let them roll it out and cut them up when they got home. We baked them for 9 minutes in our oven and they were soft and looked perfect. Can you believe I didn't even try one of them??? But the kids did and they really liked them so the recipe is a keeper!
I did some hearts, but the kids did all kinds of shapes.
We made an icing and left half of it white and made half of it teal. We ran out of that before we frosted all the cookies so the rest of them were covered with chocolate. These were the three that Alex chose to eat. A for Alex, a bass clef, and an almost yin-yang cookie (it has no dots) that Sabrina made.
Soft Sugar Cookies

1 c. sour cream
2 c. sugar
1 c. butter
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla or almond extract
6 c. flour
3 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350º. Combine sour cream, sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well.

Add dry ingredients until everything is mixed together. Let the dough chill in fridge for 20 minutes or until firm.

Roll it out and use cookie cutters. Bake until LIGHT golden brown-no more than 10 minutes. When you take them out they will seem underdone but aren't.
I found the icing recipe at All Recipes.
Sugar Cookie Icing
1 c. powdered sugar
2 t. milk
2 t. light corn syrup
1/4 t. almond extract
Assorted food coloring

In a small bowl, stir together powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.

I thought this cookie that Elisa made was especially beautiful. She cut the base with a knife and then made a little swirl and stuck it on top before baking.
Happy birthday, Alex!

Japanese Cheesecake

My son Alex, who was in Japan for 2 years, has asked me a couple of times to make Japanese cheesecake. I've never had it before, so I di...