Monday, June 27, 2011

Banana Coconut Loaf

I have been making this bread for so long that I don't even remember where I found it originally. It's a moist quick bread full of yummy bits of goodness. I add an almond glaze to the recipe and love it, but it's optional to your taste. I just take powdered sugar, a bit of almond extract extract, and enough water to make a glaze and pour it on top of the slightly cooled loaf. This last time I used cream of coconut and powdered sugar. Sorry I don't have measurements for the glaze.
Banana Coconut Loaf

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. flaked coconut
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
1/2 c. maraschino cherries, cut up
2 eggs
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 t. almond extract

Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

Mix together flour, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chopped walnuts and cherries. Break eggs in a mixing bowl, and beat until light. Add sugar and melted butter. Beat well. Stir in mashed banana and extract. Add flour mixture, and stir just to combine. Spoon into greased loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes, and remove from pan. Cool.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Or Maybe Not, Not Today

My classes are over for the summer and I am so excited to have time to just BE with my children. I have so many notes in my notebook and thoughts and feelings in my heart and head that I'd love to share, along with a few recipes, when I have a few minutes to post here and there. But I want to leave a quick thought and some beautiful music, OF COURSE.

This last week was a single adult conference (for anyone single 31 to death) and there were some workshops that are like BYU Education Week or Women's Conference classes, which I love. So I was happy I was able to attend those. The theme was "Be still and know that I am God". Several of the speakers talked about the importance of being patient with the Lord's timing and will and learning to live joyfully now, even as we are waiting for future blessings. Can you imagine why they'd say that to a big group of wanna-be- married-for-eternity-but-instead-alone people? But obviously this same message applies to all of us.

One of the wonderful classes was this group of women One Clear Voice (Tammy Simister Robinson, Johanne Frechette Perry, Tanya Barkdull, LaRene Tinney) who I had never heard before. They shared their beautiful voices and also a few thoughts and their testimonies. Powerful!


I could seriously write a post on every song, so listen to them all. One that they sang that has touched me so deeply is "Gratitude", song #11 above. You will know it's great when I tell you the song is by Nichole Nordeman if you know who she is. These women sing it so perfectly to send the message directly to my heart. I am working on having gratitude even and especially during trials. We all pass through very difficult times while on this earth, but there is no shortage of blessings during those struggles. In fact, if we look, we can find so much to be grateful for every day when "in the midst of affliction". We just have to use our faith in our Heavenly Father that the blessings He is giving us now are the ones we need now. Yeah, "just" that.


Gratitude
Lyrics and music by Nichole Nordeman

Send some rain, would You send some rain?
'Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade
Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid
But maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain

Daily bread, give us daily bread
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight
Wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger's view this time
Or maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
A lesson learned to hunger after You
That a starry sky offers a better view if no roof is overhead
And if we never taste that bread
Oh, the differences that often are between
What we want and what we really need


So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
Between alibis and enemies tonight
Or maybe not, not today
Peace might be another world away
And if that's the case . . .


We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need
And if You never grant us peace

But Jesus, would You please . . .

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Luck of the Irish Dessert Squares

I have one more exam and a final and tons of homework to finish by next Thursday so this quick break will likely be my only post until after my final. And I have so many things to do the rest of next week after finals so I don't know when I'll be able to catch up with all of you.

I found this recipe at Hersheys.com and made it for a family Memorial Day BBQ (along with Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake). It was cloudy and rainy, like most of the spring and summer days have been this year in Utah, but I pretended we needed a cool dessert. This one is very simple to throw together, although not so simple to cut into pretty pieces when it hasn't had time to be refrigerated long before you have to snap a photo and run with the food to the party.
Luck of the Irish Dessert Squares


CHOCOLATE CRUMB CRUST (recipe follows)
1 (3-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa
1/4 c. milk
5 c. frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed (about 12 oz.), divided
1/4 - 1/2 t. peppermint extract
Green food color
Mint leaves (optional)
Prepare CHOCOLATE CRUMB CRUST.

Beat cream cheese in medium bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until well blended. Add cocoa alternately with milk, beating until smooth. Gradually fold in 3 cups whipped topping; spoon mixture over crumb crust.

Stir together remaining 2 cups whipped topping, peppermint extract and food color in small bowl; spread over chocolate layer. Cover; refrigerate about 6 hours or until set. Cut into squares. Garnish with mint leaves, if desired. Cover; refrigerate leftover dessert. 6 to 9 servings.
CHOCOLATE CRUMB CRUST: Combine 1 cup graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa and 5 tablespoons melted butter or margarine in small bowl; stir until well blended. Press mixture onto bottom of 9-inch square pan.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Night of Awesomeness


You can play some music related to the post while you read. And just for the record, Alexander suggested the title when I couldn't think of one.

I took the kids to Acoustic Explosion at BYU. I was the oldest one (by far) and my children were the youngest ones minus one baby that was there. I wanted to go because The Lovecapades were playing and I've only heard them online and their lead vocal singer, Colin Rivera, was the MC at BYU Unplugged that I went to a few months ago. When we got there, but before we found a spot on the lawn, I spotted Ruth, one of the young single adults from our old Spanish ward so I went to say hello. She introduced me to her boyfriend, who it turns out plays with The Lovecapades. How fun!

The show opened with a group called MayDay. I couldn't find anything online about them.

If you look really hard, you can see Ruth and her musician boyfriend in the right upper corner on a bench. Accidental spy cam.


Then Steven Stucki played.


Then the Lovecapades were up. Lots of fun!

Then we ran from BYU to Guru's in Provo to see J.Wride. Do you remember my blog post about them? It was the first time I got to see them live.

Clay Summers opened.


I won't post J.Wride's music since I did before, but it's great. They were energetic and it was fun to watch them jammin. Elisa said they were her favorite of the night. If you look hard, you can see a poster for Nikki Forova on the board behind the guys. Happy listening!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake

One question before the recipe...Why won't Google let me log in and make comments to some people's blogs when I used to be able to? When I click "post comment", I have to choose Google account and it takes me to the Google Blogger log in page. I log in with my info, but it shows me my comment as "anonymous" and then just won't let me post the comment. I can log into my blog just fine. Any bloggers have any ideas???

I made this cake for the first time to take to my brother Jared and sister-in-law Debbie's house for a family Memorial Day BBQ. I really like the orange/chocolate combination. I will probably throw in a few more chocolate chips next time just cuz I like them. I drizzled it with a simple glaze, but you don't need to. I found this pretty cake at Joy the Baker. Head over there for good recipes and gorgeous food photos.
Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake


3 1/2 c. cake flour
1 T. baking powder
3/4 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 c. unsalted butter at room temprature
2 c. sugar
4 large eggs, left at room temperature for 30 minutes
2 t. vanilla extract
2 c. sour cream
1/2 t. orange extract
Zest of 1 large orange
4 T. cocoa powder
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Put rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan and set aside.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add half of flour mixture, and mix until just blended. Add sour cream, mixing until just combined, then add remaining flour mixture and mix until smooth.

Divide the batter evenly into two bowls. In one bowl add the orange zest and orange extract and stir to combine. In the other bowl add sifted cocoa powder and chocolate chips and stir to combine.
First pour the orange batter into the buttered Bundt pan, spreading it evenly around the bottom of the pan.

Next, simply add the chocolate batter on top of the orange to cover. No swirling is necessary, although you can swirl the batters together if you like.

Bake until cake is springy to the touch and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool cake in the pan for 30 minutes. Invert onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's Really June Already???

Since I don't get to update my blog much at all anymore or even keep in touch with friends like I would like, I'm just posting some random recent photos. It's mostly for my family and friends who actually know us (cuz others just might not care), but you can all enjoy the good music while you're here. This is Taylor Olson, a BYU student and pop/jazz singer/songwriter. We like BYU and good music at our house. If you are around, you can hear her live this Saturday, June 11th at 10:00 at Muse Music Cafe in Provo. She'll be performing and so will some other great women like Jacqueline du Plessis. So click play and look through the photos or listen to her while your reading other windows.

stand alone player

 Alexander and I went to a program at BYU called Foundations that helps prepare kids for college and parents to know what to do to help them (ACT tests, classes to take, GPA requirements, etc.). This was his second year and he loves it. The parents and kids were separated on different sides of the room for this opening session. Before I left him, I told Alexander to go up and dance or answer trivia because that's what they do at the beginning. He said, "No way!" Then they asked for people to get up and tell jokes and he ran right up. (Horrible quality photo, but it was the best of the 4.)
 He came home with free loot!
 We went over to the Provo temple for a quick photo shoot. Only like 10 minutes. It's not easy to get photos of my children without them making silly faces!







 Maria Mercer Adams, my sister's sister-in-law, so kinda, almost my sis-in-law, had an art show at BYU and Sabrina and I went to see it. They are illustrations that she painted for a book that is to introduce newly diagnosed children to Type 1 Diabetes, which Maria has. I am in awe of people with such talent!

 Sabrina loved the apples!
 Maria's mother Lanette and Maria's cousin, who I just met for the first time that night. You can barely see Maria behind her mother's shoulder in the background.
 Maria was so busy talking to friends and family (even an art editor for The Friend was there) so I didn't want to interrupt her for a photo. So I snapped one while she was conversing.
 When we were leaving the art show, Sabrina asked me to take a few photos of her on campus.
 Yeah, we like BYU!
 For my family birthday party, we went to my parents' house and Alex played the fluter while the girls sang a couple of hymns for me. Alex taught himself to play the flute recently and didn't even practice the hymns before he played for us. The girls just decided what they wanted to sing in the car on the way to my parents' house. Lots of talent there too!
My niece turned 2 and I snapped some photos at the party. My sister Heather made the cute cake.
 This is my cousin Angela and her son Sky. As you can tell, she is lots younger than me. I met her either once or twice before she got married and took a trip out to Utah like a year ago. When I was growing up, I only had 2 cousins. Yep, 2 total on my father and mother's sides. A few more came along over the years, but not many and I barely know them. So it's pretty special that she is living in Utah for a few months while her hubby is deployed away from home.

 This is my brother Jared and his wife Debbie. They have the two amazing boys below.

I think that's enough pics for today! My family has probably seen most of these anyway, thanks to Facebook. Hope to be back soon for a new post, but I have a test to study for so I dunno.

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...