Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Recipe Time: This One Comes With a Warning!

I saw this recipe here on Sherbet Blossom, and decided that i HAD to try it!

This is my own photo of it - sorry it's a bit fuzzy. A word of caution: If you are on a diet, or watching your weight, DO NOT follow the link above! You are pretty much guaranteed to gain five pounds just by reading this recipe! Everyone else, make at your own risk!

I had to make sure i made it on a day when we had company so there were other people to eat it. And I STILL have half a pan left!! But they are SOOOO delicious and addicting!! Somebody come eat them, and save my poor hips from further expansion!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

FHE: Cookies and the Scriptures

In our church, Monday nights are set aside for what is called "Family Home Evening". The church holds no events or meetings on Monday nights, and encourages members to stay home and teach, play, and generally spend time with their family. Since M works late most evenings, and ALWAYS late on Mondays, we move our Family night to accommodate his schedule. For the past few weeks Fridays have been his earlier shifts, so they've worked well for us.

This week, the assignment fell on me to prepare the lesson. Since M doesn't cook, and i am determined to teach him AND our boys to cook at least a few basic things, I decided that once a month, on one of my lesson weeks, i would prepare a "cooking lesson". For our first one, since M wouldn't be home in time for us to make dinner together, we made dessert - double chocolate chip cookies! This recipe is the best I've ever tasted, and is solely responsible for my massive, pre-SparkPeople weight gain. But I'm pregnant now, and M and the boys are more than willing to devour as many as possible for the sake of their mother's hips.

The boys had a great time, and laughed hysterically when it came their turn to hold the mixer.

They enjoyed licking the beaters afterwards....

... while dad stirred in the chocolate chips (i was determined to do as little as possible, as it was supposed to be THEIR learning experience).

umm.... yeah... M isn't wearing his teeth. Can you tell?? Hahaha!
Then i gave them each a spoon and a tray so they could form the cookies...
M made his really big...

E made his too small, and mom had to keep adding dough to them...

(those crumbs right below his fingers? yeah, that's how big his cookies were)
R used his spoon to eat the dough rather than drop cookies on the sheet, so mom took it away and he contented himself with stirring the big bowl...

While the cookies baked, we had our lesson. I'm going to summarize it here, because it was put together "on the fly", as it were, and i was surprised and impressed with how much baking cookies can be parallelled with living the Gospel.

(just for emphasis, I'll say again, I had NO IDEA where I was going to go with the lesson, as i hadn't planned one beyond baking cookies. So the fact that it went together so well was pretty fun!)

I explained to the boys about the recipe we used to make the cookies. We talked about how a recipe is a list of ingredients and instructions for making something good. I showed them all my other recipes that i use for cooking different foods. I even told them a story that immediately came to my mind; when i was about 9 or 10, i wanted to make a pizza and was determined to do it on my own. I made a dough of flour, water, and salt, and despite my mother's warnings that i needed yeast and other things if i wanted it to turn into pizza dough, i insisted i knew what i was doing and went ahead, topping it with tomato sauce and cheese. Well, you can imagine the pizza tasted horrible! I didn't follow a recipe, and even though it looked, smelled, and felt like dough before it went in the oven, once it came out of the heat it became all too obvious that it had not been properly prepared.

Then I asked the boys, "Did you know that there is a recipe that tells us how to make a happy life?" And we explained to them about the scriptures, and about how living the principles of the Gospel has helped us so many times in our own lives, and helped us to be happy and find peace. M, in brilliant inspiration was able to find us a scripture to read:

"Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do." 2 Nephi 32:3

(I love that it even had "feast" in there... heehee)

During the entire process, E kept asking us, "Are they cookies now? Can we eat them?"
And so, when the cookies came out of the oven, I showed him a tray of unbaked cookies....

And then the tray of baked cookies...

And i explained how the cookies were not actually cookies until they had been baked, and now that they were baked we could eat them. 

M, still in "scriptorian mode", and rifling through his scriptures, mentioned the verse about "the refiner's fire", and a light went on in my head! If we use my experience with the pizza dough, and our cookies as examples, it shows that a food may be prepared any way, but whether or not you have followed the recipe correctly does not become apparent until it "goes through the fire" (literally for us, because ours is a gas oven. haha!), or is baked. Similarly, we must all be tested and tried, and whether we have followed the "recipe" the Lord has laid out for us becomes apparent only after we have come through our trials. As M put it, with regards to my pizza dough, "those who don't follow, or don't know, the commandments don't know where they're going wrong until... it's time!" 

I then told the boys that we wanted to "follow the recipe" and be delicious cookies. E didn't much like the idea of being a cookie, but he's too young to get metaphor anyway.

I love the Gospel, I love my boys, and i love my husband! We work so well together!

For fun, here's a couple more pictures:

I was taking R's picture (he likes to do the weird squinky eye thing...), and E's expression is his "take my picture too, mom!" face. 
(Side note - the boys each had three cookies - right before bedtime!! I wonder if they'll ever fall asleep....)
Aaaaand.... My cookie recipe!!!

1 c. Margarine or butter (somehow, i find Becel makes the best cookies!)
1 1/2 c. Granulated Sugar
2 lg. Eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 c. Flour
2/3 c. Cocoa Powder
3/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 c. (or one bag) Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

Cream together margarine and sugar.
Add eggs and vanilla, mix until light and fluffy.
Add dry ingredients and mix well.
Stir in Chocolate Chips.
Drop on UNGREASED cookie sheet in 1 1/2 to 2 inch balls.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Makes 5-6 dozen cookies (depending on how big you make them).

Now, i'm going to go help myself to another one right now, while the chocolate chips are still melty...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Recipe Time: Cake... Just Cake...

There is an episode of Bewitched where Samantha, very pregnant with their second child (Adam), starts to get obsessed with food, and her magic suddenly starts to work on its own to make whatever food she craves suddenly appear. Then the Witch Doctor comes and puts a spell on her to stop it, but somehow reverses it so instead of the food coming to her, she goes to the food, making many awkward situations for her and her mortal husband.

I mention this because on particular line has been stuck with me lately... A comment her (mortal) doctor makes at one point: "I've never known an expectant mother who was so preoccupied with food!" 

This is how i have felt, especially the past few weeks. Perhaps it's because my kitchen is now clean daily, which means i have lots of space for cooking (and i've always loved cooking!). Perhaps it's because I have a blog now, and second only to my love of cooking is sharing my cooking. Perhaps it's simply because, well, I'M PREGNANT! Hahaha! But whatever the reason, i can't seem to stop thinking about food! Unlike Samantha, however, i don't have magical powers to bring whatever food i crave instantly to my hands (but how awesome would that be?!), so i have to cook the things i want.

Well, at the beginning of the week i got an intense craving for a cherry cake my mom used to make. I phoned her up, and after playing phone tag for a day or two, I finally got to talk to her, and got the recipe from her!

This cake is so quick and easy and amazingly delicious! I'm eating a piece as i type this, and it's awesome. Heehee!

My mom calls this a "Coffee Cake", M calls it "Pie Cake", and a friend of ours called it a "Shortcake", so that's why i don't really have a name for it. We'll go with "Coffee Cake" (even though we don't drink coffee!) since that was first.

4 eggs
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 c. flour
1 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 can (540 mL) Pie filling (we use Cherry - we like it best!)
cinnamon and sugar

Beat eggs in medium bowl until yolks are well blended. Slowly add in sugar.
Add in oil and mix on medium speed until well blended. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.
Spread half of mixture on bottom of 9x13 cake pan or casserole dish. Carefully spread pie filling evenly over bottom layer. Carefully spread remaining batter on top.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes (on my oven 40 minutes is about perfect).
Serve with wipped cream or ice cream.

And as a small piece of advice - when storing leftover cake, do NOT cover with plastic wrap! The cake will "sweat" and the sugar on top will make the cake REALLY sticky. Cover loosely with a lid, or a cloth, or something that will allow a little air in so that the top crust stays nice and crisp.

Oh, how i love it!! 
(And please forgive the dirty plate - i was getting second helpings for Josh and myself, and i had cleaned my own plate for a photo, but Josh's slice looked better than mine.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Recipe Time: Beef on a Bun

Just two days before M got all his teeth yanked out (he got dentures - long story), there was a 20% off all meat sale at the local grocery store. I stocked up, but obviously didn't consider M's upcoming operation and bought lots of steaks and a beef roast! Since M is still on a soft food diet, for the most part, i've been trying to come up with recipes that included more on the side of meat than eggs and canned tuna. We aren't exactly voracious carnivores, but we always have meat once a day, at dinnertime. And there's only so many times you can eat pork chops super-marinated in cream soup gravy before you get tired of them.
So i decided to make good use of this roast to make beef on a bun. We hardly ever have it, simply because of the time involved in making it, but it is SO good! Today i finally got up the energy to do it, and I thought i'd share my recipe on here. Actually, I got it from my sister, and i'm not entirely sure where she got it...

Anyway, on to the recipe!

1 boneless beef roast (3 lbs)
1 3/4 c. beef broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped

3/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. salt (if you don't like a lot of salt, you could probably reduce this, or go entirely without - packaged broth these days has lots of salt in it already)
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (don't ask me why there's powdered AND fresh garlic in this recipe....)
1/4 tsp. paprika

Remove the string(s) from around the roast and place in roaster. Add onion, celery, and broth. Bring to a boil on stovetop. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2 1/2 - 3 hours or until meat is tender.
Remove roast and place on cookie sheet (for me it was easiest to have a nice big surface to shred the meat), and let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, strain vegetables from broth (save the broth!) and return vegetables to roaster.
Shred beef with two forks, discarding fat strips (or keep them, if you like that sort of thing... *wink*). Return beef to roaster.
Skim fat from broth, and add 1 1/2 cups of broth to meat and vegetables.
Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to boil on stovetop, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf before serving.

This beef tastes just as good as leftovers, and you can also cook it up one day, freeze it, and reheat on the stove or in a slow cooker for a quick and delicious dinner! I'm thinking i might do this again later on and add it to my post-new-baby freezer meals!


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Happy Alopecia Day!

Today was National Alopecia Day! It used to be called "Bald Out Day", and Alopecia World would try and set up events to raise awareness for Alopecia, including encouraging all those with the condition to show their true, beautiful selves, and go the entire day without hats, wigs, or other coverings.

I meant to do up my makeup (really, i'm truly frightening without it!), and take a picture of myself this morning, but i ended up being crazy busy all day reorganizing and dejunking my house! But there was a broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on tonight at the church, and i ended up doing makeup for that, and just snapped a photo before i put my wig on. Now i just need some great editing software to get rid of all the pregnancy acne...

The reason i wanted to do this is because I had never before been brave enough to post a "bald photo" of myself on facebook, and i decided that for Bald Out day i was finally going to do it! I still wasn't brave enough to go out in public with my bald head on display, but ... baby steps.
So here I am! Happy Alopecia Day!

(P.S. Please excuse the fact that my face is much redder than my head... you can see the tan line across my forehead that came from spending hours in the sun with a bandanna on.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I Love to See The Temple

Yesterday, M had the day off. I had asked him a week or so ago if he would be willing to stay home and look after our boys so i could make a day trip to Edmonton to go to the Temple.

Some of you who belong to the LDS church know and understand why i would drive four hours down in the morning and four hours back home in the evening just to spend two hours in the temple. And for those readers who don't understand, let me simply say that it is SO worth it!

The wonderful feelings of peace, joy, and strength that i feel is indescribable. And who could resist taking any opportunity to visit a place this beautiful??

(Directly to the left of the photo is a meetinghouse, so it's impossible to get a front-facing angle)
I love this place, especially when it's summer and all the trees and flowers are in full bloom! Josh and i were married here, so this particular temple has a special place in my heart!

After going through, i always make sure to walk the gardens - Don't they just look amazing??

The LDS temples and their grounds are the most peaceful places in the world. And if anyone needed a little peace this week, I sure did!

And for my curious visitors, here is a little information on the LDS temples:

What are they for?

"Temples are places of learning. Their principal purpose is to provide ordinances necessary for the children of God to enable them to return to dwell with Him. Temple ordinances lead to the greatest blessings available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Everything in the Church—the meetings and activities, the missionary efforts, the lessons taught and the hymns—all lead to the work done in holy temples.

"One ordinance received in the temple is called the endowment. The word endowment means "gift," and the temple endowment truly is a gift from God. The ordinance consists of a series of instructions and includes covenants to live righteously and follow the requirements of the gospel. The endowment focuses on the Savior, His role in Heavenly Father's plan, and the personal commitment of each member to follow Him.

"Another temple ordinance is celestial marriage. In this ordinance husband and wife are sealed to one another for eternity. A sealing performed in the temple continues forever if the husband and wife are faithful to the covenants they make.

"... People who have died without these essential gospel ordinances may receive those ordinances through the work done in temples. Acting in behalf of ancestors and others who have died, Church members are baptized and confirmed, receive the endowment, and participate in the sealings of husband to wife and children to parents." (Taken from The LDS Church Website)

This video talks about WHY we built temples. They say it so much better than i ever could. Please take a moment to enjoy:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Recipe Time: Strawberry Bread

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted a recipe for Strawberry Bread on her blog. I was instantly intrigued - I've heard of banana bread and zucchini bread, but strawberry bread?? I am what you might call a strawberry maniac, so i marked it down as one to try as soon as possible!

Well, today was that day! I had bought some strawberries on sale at the store that were getting too ripe - and thus too soft - to eat, so i figured they'd be perfect!

Check out this beauty:

and the inside...

Those moist morsels of strawberry in the middle are simply heaven!

(i did mention the crummy quality of my camera, right?? Good, so long as you know.)

You can find her recipe here. She uses ground flax to give the bread a nutritious boost, and from what she says, you can hardly tell it's there. I didn't have any, and wasn't sure if i should leave it out altogether, or replace it with something. In the end, i replaced it with an equal measure of flour, which i now know is most likely unnecessary - my loaf was really crumbly.

Today hasn't been a great day for baking anyway. The strawberry bread took a lot longer to bake than i thought (probably because of that extra flour!), and my plain bread, which was rising in the intirim, rose too high, and then fell a little and got wrinkly on the top. *sad face*

Then, after finally getting that strawberry loaf out of the oven, i realized that i had forgotten to grease the pan! And this is what happened to the other side of the bread....


Oh, well. Both breads still ended up delicious!