Sunday, October 28, 2012

Be Careful Where You Walk

We had a wonderful stake conference this morning with Elder Allan F. Packer, member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, presiding and speaking, along with his wife and several more local leaders speaking. There were many touching words spoken and topics touched on. One that stood out to me (I'll try to share others soon. I'll try.) is one that I've been thinking about a lot over the years since I'm a mother, but even more with this last conference.

For those of you who don't speak Spanish...this picture I saw on Facebook says,

"Son, be careful where you walk. Father, you be careful. Remember that I follow your steps."

That is so powerful. Our children really do watch our footsteps and see what we do, how we do it, what we say, our attitude, our devotion and where our heart really is. Once we become parents, we are no longer responsible just for our own salvation, but to teach and lead our little ones to know the truth and the word of the Lord. Our children should be able to feel the love of our Heavenly Father through our love for them.

With the announcement that the age of young men to go on a mission has been lowered to 18, I felt an electric shock go through me. What??? I already was afraid I wouldn't be able to teach my son all he needed to go out into the world as it is and now I'm losing an entire year with him? He is 16, getting close to 17 and I am not ready. I've been thinking and making lists of all the things I want to teach him and that I wish he can have in his heart, not just in his head. I know he knows a lot of the gospel and has a desire to do what is right, but we are all learning and growing as we go.

Have I done my part? Even with family home evening, church attendance, scripture reading, and all the normal stuff, there is so much more we can do with our children to "inoculate them from the evils in the world", as one of the speakers today said Elder Packer said in a meeting yesterday. 

Right after President Monson's announcement, the first talk of the October 2012 conference talked about families, along with other subjects.

"How we treat those closest to us is of fundamental importance. Violence, abuse, lack of civility, and disrespect in the home are not acceptable—not acceptable for adults and not acceptable for the rising generation. My father was not active in the Church but was a remarkably good example, especially in his treatment of my mother. He used to say, 'God will hold men responsible for every tear they cause their wives to shed.' This same concept is emphasized in “'Family: A Proclamation to the World.' It reads, '[Those] who abuse spouse or offspring … will one day stand accountable before God'14 Regardless of the culture in which we are raised, and whether our parents did or did not abuse us, we must not physically, emotionally, or verbally abuse anyone else.15

The need for civility in society has never been more important. The foundation of kindness and civility begins in our homes. It is not surprising that our public discourse has declined in equal measure with the breakdown of the family. The family is the foundation for love and for maintaining spirituality. The family promotes an atmosphere where religious observance can flourish. There is indeed 'beauty all around when there’s love at home'16"

Then the following really hit me, as it is what we’ve been told and what I’ve been thinking about, but was such a strong reminder of our duties.

Parents, the days are long past when regular, active participation in Church meetings and programs, though essential, can fulfill your sacred responsibility to teach your children to live moral, righteous lives and walk uprightly before the Lord. With President Monson’s announcement this morning, it is essential that this be faithfully accomplished in homes which are places of refuge where kindness, forgiveness, truth, and righteousness prevail. Parents must have the courage to filter or monitor Internet access, television, movies, and music. Parents must have the courage to say no, defend truth, and bear powerful testimony. Your children need to know that you have faith in the Savior, love your Heavenly Father, and sustain the leaders of the Church. Spiritual maturity must flourish in our homes. My hope is that no one will leave this conference without understanding that the moral issues of our day must be addressed in the family. Bishops and priesthood and auxiliary leaders need to support families and make sure that spiritual principles are taught. Home and visiting teachers can assist, especially with children of single parents.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook, Can Ye Feel So Now?, October 2012

Brother Winkle, a counselor in our stake presidency who also happens to be my daughter's friend's dad, said that he's been thinking about Elder Bednar's talk (which you can watch below) from October 2009 called "More Diligent & Concerned at Home". Brother Winkle also spoke of a boss he had who was a very hard worker, spending countless hours at the office and expecting the same of others and accomplishing much in the business world. This man found out he had cancer and was dying. What do you think his advice from his hospital bed was to Brother Winkle? "Spend time with your family. Love your family. Work on building lasting relationships with those you love."

A bishop from another ward was asked to give his impromptu thoughts for 3 minutes. Of all the things he could have spoken about, he chose to speak about families. He said that one of his biggest fears is that the may say or do something that may have a negative effect on his grandchildren's testimony or future. It reminded me of the picture above.

Then an Elder's Quorum President from another ward was asked to speak (sorry I didn't write his name down) said that he asks himself, "Am I the type of father my children can look up to as an example to show them what to do out in enemy's territory and that they can come to for spiritual guidance?" (Well, that's my version of what he said since he spoke faster than I could take notes.)

I feel an increased need to make sure that the MTC is a review, not a revelation for Alex, but also to prepare all my children to be strong, good adults who love their Heavenly Father and follow his commandments, and to be loving spouses and parents, which is the most important thing we can do on this earth. That's all. So I better keep working at it since that job that is easy to explain takes so much time and energy and guidance from the Spirit to accomplish.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Apple Cobbler Cookies

I've had this recipe in my "To-Try Cookie Recipes" file for a long time and I finally tried them last week when we bought a box of apples from a neighbor who was raising fund for a track trip. Good excuse! I left the pecans out because of my kids' allergies, but I did put pecans on a few of them for me. I had it with and without and I like it better with because it gives a nice crunchy texture to an otherwise soft cookie.
These are so good and I especially like the sugary crumb coating. The only problem I had is that the dough was too sticky to actually roll in the crumb coating, so it was a bit messy. I just didn't have time to stick it in the refrigerator for a bit to aid in rolling into balls. I forgot to count how many it made and the recipe, which I found at Chocolate & Chipotle , says the yield is 18. I'm not sure how many cookies that is per serving since it's more than 18 cookies, but it makes a bunch! Plenty to enjoy and to share. 
I do have to admit that I disobeyed the recipe since it says not to put on the cookie sheet since I didn't have any parchment paper. I sprayed it with Pam first and as long as I didn't let the cookies sit long after taking them out of the oven, they didn't stick at all.

Apple Cobbler Cookies
3 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
¼ t. salt
1 ½ t. cinnamon
½ c. brown sugar
½ c. white sugar
1 c. butter, softened
 2 large eggs                                    
2 t. vanilla
¼ c. apple juice
½ c. apple butter
2 c. tart apples, peeled and diced    
1 c. pecans, chooped
1 c. craisins (optional)
Crumb Coating Mixture:
2 ½ c. brown sugar
3 c. quick oats (not instant)
2 ½ t. cinnamon
1 c. butter, melted

Pre-heat oven to 325°. Combine flour, baking powder, salt & cinnamon, set aside. Cream butter then add the sugars and cream together until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, mix until smooth. Add apple juice & apple butter and thoroughly mix. Add flor mixture, scraping sides ½ way through. Mix in apple, pecans and craisins until just blended. (Dough will be sticky) DO NOT OVER MIX!

Crumb Coating:
Combine sugar, oats & cinnamon. Add melted butter and mix until all dry are moist.
Using a ice cream scoop (2.5 oz) Roll dough in the Crumb Coating and place in a sprayed muffin top pan or on a parchment lined cookie sheet (DO NOT PLACE DIRECTLY ON THE COOKIE SHEET!!!!) Bake for 18 – 20 minutes. Remove from oven to wire rack.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Written In Our Hearts

This semester is just like the last one and leaves me no time to blogging, which makes me sad, but the little bit of time I don't study or cook or clean, I spend with my family. I have had so many thoughts about General Conference and was so glad for the uplift that my weary mind needed. When I was studying the visiting message a week ago, I noticed how well it went with the messages we heard at the General Relief Society Broadcast.

There were several topics addressed, but the one that stood out to me in both Sister Burton and Sister Stephen's talks was that of our covenants. Our Heavenly Father has always expected his chosen people (anyone who is willing to follow and obey Him) to be a covenant-making and a covenant-keeping people. These covenants are sacred and serious, but sadly, many people treat them lightly and do not see the consequences of breaking such a holy promise. In our world today, keeping one's word is almost extinct.

But for those of us who make covenants and keep them, we see the blessings that come only through obedience. They help make us better people and to keep our perspective focused on the eternal.

Sister Linda K. Burton said in her talk, "When covenants are kept, families are strengthened." Families are falling apart more and more because of broken promises and covenants. Those families who stay together are blessed in ways that will strengthen each member all through their lives and into the eternities. How beautiful to be a part of something that has no end.

She also said, "Making, keeping, and rejoicing in our covenants will be the evidence that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is truly written in our hearts."

Heavenly Father asks of us a broken heart and a contrite spirit that leads to obedience. When we really love our Heavenly Father more than we love ourselves, we can do what He asks us to do and He will know we have faith in Him and His plan.

Sister Carole M. Stephens quoted Elder Hales, “When we make and keep covenants, we are coming out of the world and into the kingdom of God.”

Isn't that such a beautiful quote??? Each step that we make toward keeping our covenants takes us closer to our eternal home in the Celestial Kingdom. Until we are there, we get a taste of it in our homes as we continue to keep our covenants and remain holy and unspotted from the world around us.

The visiting teaching message had this quote from Elder Russell M. Nelson, “When we realize that we are children of the covenant, we know who we are and what God expects of us. His law is written in our hearts. He is our God and we are His people.”

It is important for us to feel we belong somewhere and to someone, and what can feel better than knowing we belong to the King of all the earth and even more? Our covenants link us together and help us to make it through the hardest things in life and still feel peace and love.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Black & White Cheesecake Brownies

I was looking through my recipes, trying to decide on a dessert to make, and came across this one, which I love, but haven't made in a long time. I can't believe I haven't shared it on my blog before since I've been making it for years. Found it in a cookbook my parents gave me before I even had kids.

 It's an easy cheesecake since it's in a 9-inch square pan, no messing with a springform pan or a waterbath. I love the thick, fudgy brownie layer under the smooth chocolate-chip-studded cheesecake layer. Rich and delicous!

Black & White Cheesecake Brownies
1 (12-oz.) package semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter softened
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
2/3 c. flour
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. butter, softened
2 eggs
2 T. milk
1 T. flour
1/2 t. almond extract
3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips, reserved from 12-ounce package
Preheat oven to 350°.
Melt over hot (not boiling)water, 1-1/4 cups Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Set aside. In large bowl, combine sugar and butter; beat until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla extract and salt; mix well. Add melted chocolate and flour; mix well. Spread into foil-lined 9-inch square baking pan.
Cheesecake Topping: In large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and butter; beat until creamy. Add eggs, milk, flour and almond extract; beat well.
Stir in remaining 3/4 cup Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate chips. Pour over Brownie Base. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack; cut into 2-1/4 inch squares.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Panda Express Orange Chicken

Sabrina loves Panda Express and always orders Orange Chicken. She has been begging me to make some, but I've been afraid that she wouldn't like mine since she is so picky. I found this recipe at and gave it a try. Sabrina actually liked it, but she likes Panda Express better. I, on the other hand, think it's better than Panda's hard, sometimes kinda creepy looking chicken meat. It has more orange taste too. It's a fried food, so not to enjoy all the time, but it's definitely a meal added to my list to make again.
Panda Express Orange Chicken
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 eggs
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. cornstarch, plus
1 T. cornstarch
1/4 c. flour
1 T. gingerroot, minced
1 t. garlic, minced
1/2 t. crushed hot red chili peppers
1/4 c. green onions, chopped
1 T. apple juice or rice wine 
1/4 c. water
1/2 t. sesame oil
Orange Sauce for Stir Fry
1 1/2 T. soy sauce
1 1/2 T. water
5 T. sugar
5 T. white vinegar
Zest of 1 orange
    Place chicken pieces in large bowl. Stir in egg, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon oil and mix well.
Stir cornstarch and flour together. Dip chicken in egg mixture and then in cornstarch mixture, stirring to coat.
       Heat oil for deep-frying in wok or deep-fryer to 375°. Add chicken, small batches at a time, and fry 3 to 4 minutes or until golden crisp. (Do not overcook chicken). Remove chicken from oil with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels; set aside.
      Clean wok and heat 15 seconds over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant; about 10 seconds. Add and stir-fry crushed chiles and green onions. Add apple juice or rice wine and stir 3 seconds.
      Mix ingredients together for Orange Sauce, add sauce to wok and bring to boil. Add cooked chicken, stirring until well mixed. Stir water into remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch until smooth and add to chicken. Heat until sauce is thickned. Stir in sesame oil and orange zest.

Blueberry Cheesecake Crumb Cake

Bursting blueberries in every bite! I made this coffee cake that I found on  Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts  (even though it's not a ...