Monday, August 23, 2010

Reader Reward!

I'm so excited to share this news with you! Do you remember the cute serving tray and bowl that I chose to get with the CSN Stores gift certificate I won? There were so many awesome items to chose from and it was fun going through them all. And now one of you will have that chance!

CSN Stores is giving me the chance to have a giveaway for my readers. When I almost completely stopped blogging while going through my divorce, I thought I'd lose all my blogger friends and readers. I have been grateful that so many of you actually remembered me even after all that time and continue to visit me and comment and let me visit you.

The winner will receive a $65 gift certificate to use on any item at CSN Stores. (Any Canadian readers may have to pay international shipping charges so be aware of that.)

If you check out the site, you will see why it took me a while to chose what to use my gift certificate on. Since I love cooking and baking so much, I spent a lot of time on the pages and pages of kitchen products. One thing that I don't have that I would like to own someday is a Dutch Oven. Before, when I used to read that a recipe was cooked in a Dutch Oven, I passed over it, thinking that it meant you had to be out camping or doing survival cooking. They do have a Dutch Oven with a Tripod that looks PERFECT for camping.

But (as most of you probably already know, but I didn't) there are lots of Dutch Ovens designed for indoor stovetop and oven use. And they come in a variety of pretty colors and sizes! There are 15 pages of them on the site.
I even searched online and found some recipes I'd like to try when I have a Dutch Oven someday.
Monkey Bread Mountain High Utah Stuffed Dutch Oven Pizza Pie Dutch Oven Chicken Paad Thai

But this giveaway is about YOU! You get to choose what you get. To enter, just leave a comment telling me one thing you like at CSN Stores (of course you can choose what you'd get later). I'll give you a second entry if you are a follower or have made a comment in the last month. Just leave me a comment saying that. Entries accepted until August 31st at midnight MST and I will do my best to post the winner on September 1st.

Thank you, CSN Stores, for letting me reward one of my awesome readers with your great prize!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Truffle Tarts with Raspberries

I chose to make these for the first time to take to my friend Patty's baby shower that was today. I took them along with Oreo Truffles since I knew that many of the people who liked them before would be at the shower. Those easy little things were a big hit again. I am always nervous about making something for the first time when I need to take it somewhere. Luckily, these truffle tarts turned out great--really great. They are really rich and chocolatey and I love the combination of chocolate and raspberries. Nummmmmy! Elisa helped me with the first batch, but not the second. Sabrina helped with hugs. Alex had better things to do. *Smile
I used these chocolate wafers, but you can use Oreos. It takes more than half of the package of Famous Chocolate Wafers to make the 1 1/2 cups fine crumbs.
I found the recipe on Food Network and kept the ingredients the same, but slightly changed a couple of parts to the method.
To press the crust, I used my Pampered Chef mini-tart shaper. I love that thing!
I drizzled some pink tinted white chocolate to the top since it was for a girl's baby shower.
Truffle Tarts with Raspberries

1 1/2 c. fine chocolate wafer crumbs
6 T. butter, melted
1/2 c. heavy cream
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 t. vanilla
Raspberries, cut in half

Mix together wafer crumbs and melted butter. Spray 24 silicone mini-muffin cups. Silicone is awesome for popping the tarts right out, but if you have a metal mini-muffin pan, spray the cups. Line the cups with strips of parchment or waxed paper. Cut so that they are as wide as the diameter of each cup and long enough to overhang the sides since you'll need this to remove the tarts. Divide crust mixture into the 24 cups and press on bottom and up sides.

To make the truffle filling, in a saucepan, bring cream to simmer on low heat. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate to pan. Let sit 10 minutes. Add vanilla and stir until smooth. Set aside for about 1 hour to cool to room temperature. Beat on medium speed until thick.

Drop a small amount of truffle mixture in each tart and pat down. Place one half (or both halves of one raspberry next to each other) in each tart on truffle mixture. Divide remaining truffle mixture among tarts. Use spoon or hands to pat truffle mixture in tarts, covering the raspberries completely. Smooth the tops and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ham and Penne Milano

This recipe is from the Taste of Home magazine, although I'm not sure of the date. I copied it at the library one day while I was looking through it. I like spice and herbs and this had none so I sprinkled more pepper on mine than you'll probably want, but I liked it that way. The nutty crunch of the walnuts made it special. Of course, due to allergies and dislikes, I only put the walnuts in my serving. Alex, Elisa and I all liked it. Sabrina was at a friend's house for dinner, but wouldn't have eaten it anyway. She doesn't like pasta except for macaroni and cheese. Crazy little girl.


Ham and Penne Milano

16 oz. penne pasta
2 2/3 c. frozen broccoli or asparagus
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. butter
3 T. flour
1 (14 1/2-oz.) can chicken broth
1/4 c. milk
1 lb. chopped cooked ham
1 jar roasted sweet red peppers, drained and diced
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 t. pepper

Cook the pasta and then in the last 5 mins add the broccoli or asparagus. Saute garlic in butter for 1 minute. Stir in flour then slowly add chicken broth and milk. Bring to a boil; allow to thicken for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Add the pasta and broccoliand toss to coat.

Think You Can Make It Through This Long Post?

If you read my past post HERE where I shared the news of my divorce (which is official and finalized, by the way—no 90 day wait after all), then you read that I listened to Jack Marshall’s talk on CD called Calming Storms - Overcoming Hurt, Injustice and Anguish the week before receiving the news myself. I have been wanting to do a review on it for weeks, but have been unsure about how to explain how much it helped me without sounding like I was tooting my own horn. More about that at the end of the post. Can you make it that far? My mom and (I’m pretty sure) my sister Sheri both had Brother Marshall as an institute teacher and told me how much he loves to tell jokes. I was in one of his BYU Education Week classes before and he definitely did! He starts this talk on CD with several jokes. I’m sharing this one just for my several Idaho blogging friends.

The first man had married a woman from Iowa and had told her that she was going to do the dishes and house cleaning. It took a couple of days, but on the third day he came home to see a clean house and dishes washed and put away.

The second man had married a woman from Illinois. He had given his wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, dishes, and the cooking. The first day he didn't see any results, but the next day he saw it was better. By the third day, he saw his house was clean, the dishes were done, and there was a huge dinner on the table.

The third man had married a beautiful girl from Idaho. He told her that her duties were to keep the house cleaned, dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry washed and hot meals on the table for every meal. He said the first day he didn't see anything, the second day he didn't see anything, but by the third day some of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of his left eye, enough to fix himself a bite to eat and load the dishwasher.

After the jokes, Brother Marshall starts talking about the importance of forgiving the person who has caused us hurt or anguish. Of course, it is a commandment to forgive others. He quotes Terry Warner from Scapegoating and the Atonement (Side note--That sounded like an interesting book so I looked it up, but couldn’t find anything with that name. I found a talk on CD called Why We Forgive by C. Terry Warner. Now that’s on my list to listen to! And I saw another book he wrote called Bonds That Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves that I would like to read someday too.) Back to Brother Warner’s quote. “The sin of refusing to forgive involves us in the sin of refusing to accept Christ’s forgiveness.” This reminded me of something I learned when I read The Peacegiver: How Christ Offers Heal Our Hearts and Homes by James L. Ferrell. (Although I have to say the book was not one of my favorites, I did learn something about forgiveness from it which I will never forget. Someday I’ll have to post about that.)

He also quotes Wayne Muller’s book Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood (another one that looked interesting and I found the book you can read a little of online).
“For to let go of the ones who hurt us is to let go of our identity as the one who was hurt, the one who was violated, the one who was broken. It often feels like the bad guys are getting off scot-free while we are left holding the bag of pain.”

While I don’t think I have had a problem with forgiveness in my case, I have felt exactly like this quote. It’s hard to explain without going into details, but I’m sure that most of you have felt similarly at one time in your life to varying degrees.

Brother Marshall uses many scriptures of how Jesus handled injustice and betrayal and uses the examples to teach us how we can be like him. The one part of this whole CD that stood out the most to me when I listened to this just days before my life was changed was the story behind the two short verses about Simon of Cyrene in the Bible. “Who?” you may be asking.

When our dear Savior was forced to carry the crossbeam to his crucifixion, he became weak and tired and the soldiers pulled a stranger out of the crowd that had gathered on the street.

Mark 15: 21 And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

The Bible doesn’t tell us anything that happened while the two walked along together so we don’t know what was said, but apparently even in the midst of this overwhelmingly painful physical suffering, Jesus thought of others. How do we know?

Romans 16: 13 Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell in his talk A More Determined Discipleship in 1978 gave his apostolic view that this Rufus spoken of so briefly years after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, is Simon the Cyrenian’s son Rufus. Paul even used the words, “chosen of the Lord” to describe him. So apparently, whatever Jesus said to Simon on that day changed Simon’s life and made him and his family become Christians.

Brother Marshall says that when he read Elder Maxwell’s words on this, he thought to himself, “Marshall, do you think there could have been other things on Jesus’ mind that day as he marched to Golgotha to have nails driven through him then to reach out and minister to another person in his hurt, in his betrayal?”

After I listened to this CD, the only thing I could remember from it to blog about was this story. After I was in the middle of my own pain and suffering, days of feeling like I was in a bubble where nothing else seemed to matter, I remembered this. How could I follow Christ’s example? Reach out to others during my own suffering. Forget myself in service. Please do not think I am boasting of myself here. I would just like to testify of what I learned to be true through practice. I still wish I did more.

But while I could barely find the energy to get out of bed, to cook (and you know I love to cook) for my family, to clean, in the middle of that, I decided that I needed to find ways to serve others. I did not do anything dramatic. As a matter of fact, I only did things that I often do—take dinner to a family, mail cards to a few people to thank them for things they’ve done, take balloons to a friend on her birthday, listen to a friend going through a divorce herself (without being able to tell her about mine yet), things like that. But it helped me. It helped me see how much others are going through and it helped me see how others overcome their trials and I could too.

I bet you’d find it hard to believe, but during this time, a friend of mine moved to a new city, a little girl in our ward died, a wonderful woman in our stake (used to be in our ward) died, two friends were going through their own divorces, a woman in our ward had a mini-stroke and almost died, several family members found out they’ll have to move due to an increase in rent, another friend lost her house due to foreclosure, and lots of other trials all around me. Thinking of them and serving them, even in the little, insignificant ways that I did, helped me to see outside of my bubble and was like therapy to me.

I am so grateful for Jesus’ example to us. I’m grateful that I was able to listen to this CD and apply a part of it when I needed it most.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lookie What I Got

My children and I have moved out of our home we loved so much and back into our old home that we've been renting out. Lots of emotions and hard work!!! I'm grateful for family and friends helping me so much. It's great that there are still neighbors that we know and love in this neighborhood even though many have moved.

But my post today is about something happy. Back in June, Bonnie had a giveaway on her blog City Home/Country Home for a $40 gift certificate to CSN Stores and I won! I was so glad for something to be happy about, but I was so busy and heartbroken about the divorce that I didn't do a lot of things I normally do, including figuring out what cool free thing I wanted. Finally I looked around their site and it took a long time looking through all their many items. It was not easy to choose, but when I saw these, they were calling to me! A beautiful tray and matching bowl. CSN shipped them quickly and packed them in lots of bubble wrap so they were so protected.
Okay, I did have to pay $10 for the little bit over $40 and the shipping, but that is still GREAT. The only problem is...what was I thinking??? My tiny kitchen can't hold half of the things I already kept in my other kitchen and I have no basement for storage. But I'll find a place for them. I just love them and can't wait to use them.

If you haven't been to City Home/Country Home, go check out all of Bonnie's great recipes and awesome photos of the gorgeous place where she lives.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bell Canyon Waterfall

Since Alex went to Lagoon (Utah's amusement park) last week with marching band and once with the junior high, Robin took the girls there on Saturday. I wanted to find something fun and free to do with Alex while they were gone for the day so I found a hike online and we drove up to Sandy to the trailhead near Little Cottonwood Canyon. I didn't do a lot of research on the hike before we left that morning. It said it was a 4 mile hike and I thought, "How hard could it be since it's that short?" I had no idea! It started out with these easy steps and we soon crossed a little bridge over this stream. Just fine so far.
About half a mile in, we arrived at this resevoir. That wasn't bad at all.
You can see downtown Salt Lake from up there. Can you see it?
We need to get some hiking clothes! We were so hot. Alex is also begging for us to buy CamelBaks for our next hike. We definitely didn't take enough water.
This was the trail for a little while, shaded and easy. Sooooooo deceptive. You can't even tell what lies ahead.
The trail was up, up, up and up on these big rocks for more than an hour.
That's actually the trail that Alex is on in the picture below. Besides the elevation change, the big rocks made it a workout. The review that I did read before we started off for the day said it was a strenuous hike. Strenuous? It was so difficult even with resting on the rocks here and there.
Alex told me about half way up that he couldn't make it and he wanted to go back. I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to make him go if he really couldn't or didn't want to, but I wanted to make it to the first waterfall. I asked if he'd try a little longer and he said he would. Shortly after, he got a second wind and said he felt great. That's when I started feeling it. I could hear my heart beating in my ears. Alex kept saying, "Let's just go back, Mom. You don't have to kill yourself." On the way up in the car, we listened to the CD "I Can Do Hard Things" by John Hilton III (an LDS youth speaker), so I kept telling Alex, "I'm not giving up. I can do hard things." The trail to the waterfall is not marked so I stopped a few people who were coming down for tips on how to find it. Then a few others who passed us volunteered similar clues. I would have been so sad to go that far up and pass right by it. Finally we got there!
After climbing up and up, when you can see the waterfall, you have to climb down to actually get to it. That climb was a little more precarious than it looks. The beautiful waterfall with the sprays of water and cool breeze made the whole journey up worth it! We didn't want to leave.
I was sweaty and tired, but happy to be there.
Here is Alex, very happy to feel the cool spray. Then he turned around and slipped on the wet, slippery rock and scratched up his arm and leg. Luckily it wasn't bad and he was able to climb back up to the trail and down to the parking lot.
Here's the view from up there.
Of course, our trip down was so much easier, although my feet hurt from maneuvering on the rocks and I lost my footing and skidded down several times. Once we got to the car, we headed off for dinner. We worked up an appetite! Not surprisingly (if you know him), Alex chose Japanese food.

Alex ordered the cheesecake for dessert. He didn't know it, but it had green apple-flavored syrup on it. He said it was okay, but he would have prefered it plain. It's pretty though! I didn't get a dessert. I didn't want to pack back on all the calories I had just burned.

Caramel Frosted Fudgy Chocolate Cookies

Most of the things I imagine look so much better in my head than they turn out. Okay, like everything. And these cookies are no exception. I...