Monday, October 29, 2012

Easy brownies for a crowd

This is a recipe that I have had for a while. They end up being nice and chewy. With the added chocolate chips they are delightful.

Super easy brownies for a crowd

Preheat oven to 350
1 cup melted butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
stir together well, then add
2 cups all purpose flour
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
mix  until just moistened and no flour streaks are left.
then add
1 cup of chocolate or other flavored chips
1/2  cup chopped nuts (optional)

spread batter evenly in a 9x13 inch pan

bake in a preheated 350 oven for 30 minutes

Friday, October 26, 2012

Avoid the Holiday insanity

                                                                         © Robert5061 | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Does it seem like the Holidays hit you like a tsunami? Do you barely have time to recover when the shock waves knock you over again?

It has become out of control for so many of us. I saw a sign that said "Are you ready for Merry Hallowthanksmas?"  A few year ago my Mother said "enough is enough!" and the holiday season has been so much better for all of us.

Some tips for slowing down and elimintating stress from the holiday season.

Can you get together another time of year?

Is there a group of people you get together with during the holiday season that would benifit from getting together at a later date? Maybe you could suggest  something like, "I enjoy getting together with you, but the holidays are so busy for all of us. Maybe we could get together in February or March and do a Weekend brunch (or whatever seems appropriate for the group). I really want to spend time with you and catch up on what is going on with your life, I think we could do this better when we are not all so busy."

We had a Christmas party on Valentine's  day one year. Our freinds had a foreign exchange student at the time. You can imagine his surprise and perplexed look. "I thought Christmas was in December?" He didn't quite get it, but he had a nice time. We were able to really enjoy one another and it was a lovely party.

Gifts and more gifts oh my!

Instead of a pile of gifts so high they could reach to the moon and back. Let's settle down and give a few gifts and really enjoy them. I was surprised by a movie I watched recently. It was set in the wild west. It was Christmas. The main character was a young lady in her first year of marriage away from her family. She worked hard and made gifts for her new family, (the farmhands on the ranch). One of the older gray haired gentleman said "Thank you, this is the first Christmas gift I have ever recieved." It struck me. If we were to be transported back to that time, all the gifts for one family would fill that old farmhouse cabin and be spilling out the door. The family would have to sleep out in the barn with the animals. Sometimes we get so overwhelmed by the river of gifts we cannot enjoy them, we get swept away.

Janice of celebrating family has written a great post detailing how they got away from the pile of presents. They made a move to real gift giving with a meaningful purpose.  The link to her post is included below
Celebrating family... gift giving with purpose

Do you really need to give gifts to your second cousin's dog?
How many neighbors do you really need to give to?
How about Teachers and others, could you recognize them and give them gifts later on?
A surpise gift in the middle of the year can go alot further than a token gift lost in the shuffle of a busy holiday season!

Non traditional gifts:

The promise of time spent later on.  
My parents speak the language of time spent together. Over the last few years they have given up the traditional gifts and spend the money on a summer getaway for us all. Christmas is a real joy, we get an envelope with a note that tells us what summer getaway Mom and Dad are planning.  It has really helped the stress level for my parents, and we get a chance to all get together again.

The gift of service.
Some of my favorite Christmas memories are the years that we gave service. We spent several years working on service projects instead of exchanging gifts one with another. Those things make memories.

Now is the time to re-evaluate. What are the things that are most important to you for the Holiday season?  How can you simplify the holiday season? Are there some traditions that can be simplified or eliminated? What are your biggest holiday stressors? What can you do to lessen or eliminate those stressors? What can you do to increase holiday joy?

Now it is your turn. Leave a comment below as to what you are going to do different this holiday season.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

play dough


I grew up with homemade playdough/Salt dough.  I have found a new recipe made with kool-aide powder. It is smoother than my mom's recipe and smells good too. I like it so much better. It does not crumble or leave residue on your hands.  It is really simple to make.

Kool aide play dough
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tarter
1 envelope kool-aide unsweetened drink mix

mix dry ingredients in a medium sauce pan.
Stir in oil and water
1 cup water
1 1/2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

cook on a medium high heat for a few minutes until the dough forms a ball. 

here is the dough as it formed in the pan
 it comes together quickly

remove to a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until smooth and cool enough for the kids to handle. 

store in a zip top bag or a container with a tight fitting lid.

Monday, October 22, 2012

taming the sugar beast part 2

In case you missed it last week
                           taming the sugar beast part 1

How did you do last week? For some, adding fruit has nearly stopped the sugar cravings, but for others it has only dulled the roar. Is it a real sugar addiction? There is evidence that for some, sugar can turn on the brain just like a person who is addicted to heroine or other drugs. It can be a real struggle to break the sugar habit for those who have this condition. There are some links below that can help you decide if it is a real sugar addiction. For most people it is just training. We have been well trained  to eat sweets, all we need to do is break those cycles and re-train ourselves.

Did you Journal last week? If you didn't, it is not to late to start. Journaling is very important to this process. It can give you valuable insight as to patterns in your eating behavior. Once you have identified some problem areas, you can work on changing them.

© Janabacikova | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos


1. Look for patterns. Maybe you crave sweets at a specific time of day. Perhaps there are things that trigger your need for sugar. Finding patterns and changing them is crucial. Let me give you some examples from my own life. For me I still sruggle at Mom's house, it is really easy to sit about and crave sugar while with the family. That is what we do when we get together, and usually the sweeter the better. I have found that if I bring a good snack, I am less likely to indulge when I go there. I can still snack, but do it in a healthy manner. Sunday afternoons have been a hard one for both hubby and I. Both of our families had the habit of making a sweet treats Sunday evenings. We got married and carried on the tradition becuase it was part of what we do. We had to choose to do differently. We choose to do it only occasionally. It has become a real treat when we do. Once you identify some things, you can work to change them. For me, If  I eat a lousy breakfast I get hungry an hour later. This brings me to point two.

2. Breakfast, including a protein. Breakfast starts you body. Too much sugar for breakfast gets it overstimulated and you go into overdrive, then crash later on. Protein digests much slower keeping you fuller longer. Slow carbs (whole grains) also digest slower and can help avoid cravings later in the day. There are two links below with good information and suggestions for how to accomplish this.

3. Clean house. Get into those drawers and cupboards, clean out under the bed, the closet, all of it. Yes, all of it, even that hidden secret spot. Come on be honest with yourself. Get it all out in the open! Now gather it all up. Get all that junk food together in one place.  Do not throw it away! Keep it, put it in a spot dedicated  for junk food. No more junk food hidden all over the house. I once heard advice for a Mother with a chocolate addicted daughter. She was given the advice to fill a cupboard full to the top with chocolate, then tell the daughter "It is all for you, you can have all the chocolate you want, It will always be there for you." Next, she was supposed to trust her daughter and watch. She just about had a heart attack. She had spent her life telling her daughter to limit chocolate, and now telling her to eat all she wants, she couldn't belive her ears. She just knew that her child would eat all the chocolate in one sitting. She was fearing the worst, and just the opposite happened. The chocolate cravings went away. The daughter knew that she could have it, that it would always be there. She slowed down her chocolate craving by allowing herself to have it. No longer feeling deprived, she was able to show self discipline.

4. Allow yourself a treat and enjoy it slowly!  Sniff it, taste it, savor it, let your senses tell you about it. There are foods that I thought I really enjoyed. I slowed down and really tasted them, To my surprise, I found out that I really did not enjoy them as much as I thought I once did.

There is something about it when we slow down and enjoy the process of eating food. There are days when I slurp down my meals on the go. Quite often on these days my brain tells me that I am still hungry. It is a different story when I slow down, sit down, and enjoy a meal or snack on a conscious level. My brain resets. It says, "I have eaten today".  Mindless eating can be a real dealbreaker. Eat with a purpose to fuel your body.


Next week: more ideas and suggestions on how to create new and lasting habits.

Releveant links

is sugar addiction real?

Dr Wilson on sugar addiction benefits of high protein breakfast

benifits of protein breakfast

taming the sugar beast part 1

Friday, October 19, 2012

pork chops

This is a recipe I have developed for easy pork chops.  Everyone has just loved them expecially the kids.

We use pork loin chops. We usually cut up our own. We buy a whole pork loin and cut from it pork chops, pork roasts, boneless ribs, and scraps for stir fry etc.  learning to cut your own meat can save a bundle.

Easy grilled pork chops.

1. preheat the grill

for the recipe you will need
6 pork loin chops about 3/4 -1 inch thick these happened to be about 1/2 inch, but I prefer a thicker chop
Salt and pepper
garlic powder
Worchestershire sauce

Optional: Sazon goya seasoning (in the orange box)

2. Season the pork chops on both sides with the above mentioned seasonings I only use a small amount of the Sazon. (Msg is a main ingredient). The instructions say to add a packet to 4 servings of food. For the six pork chops I may use up to 1/3 packet although about 1/4 is normal for me.

3. cook the chops on the hot grill.  For chops that are about 3/4 inch thick cook them covered about 2 minutes then turn them a quarter turn to get the nice grill marks and cook about 3 minutes more.  Then turn over and finish cooking about 8-10 minutes in all (10-12  minutesfor 1 inch).  You can give them the poke test to see if they are done.  They should feel slightly firm to the touch, not springy and spongelike.

4. cover with foil and let rest for a few minutes so they will remain nice and juicy. 

5. Serve up with your favorite vegetables and sides.


these can be made inside under the broiler.  They are still pretty good that way, but I like the looks and taste of grilled foods.  It also makes the neighbors jelous when they smell the grill. 
here is a link to a post with step by step instructions for cutting a whole pork loin into chops

Thursday, October 18, 2012

slow down and savor life


                                 Slow down and savor your food and life

My kids favorite buddies "hanging out"
This is what we should all be doing more often "hanging out" together with our family
 As I am on a journey of weight loss and good health.  One tip I have learned is to Slow down and enjoy life. We live in such a hurried world, running all about in a microwave "grab and go" society.  My father as a boy scout leader made an interesting observation.  The boys had gone out for a campout.  They had each brought a tin foil dinner to cook in the fire.  My father noticed that some of the boys were very impatient while waiting for the dinners to cook. He related to me that he sensed that these boys were the ones that lived in a home where the microwave was a main source of food.  He said it was about two minutes and they were ready to eat. This was about 10 -12 years ago.  I wonder what he would find nowdays. Do we ourselves exist where the microwave provides a majority of our food at home?  Is takeout food our best freind?  I am slowing down and cooking not only on weekends, but all the time. My body has been happier these last few weeks as I have made a move to pay attention to it. When we slow down our eating the body has time to respond to the food we are putting in. We are healthier today because I chose to slow down and pay attention. I want my family and I to be healthy in body and mind. I am creating my world according to those things. Family time together at meals is something that I am begining to value. It is becoming a great part of life.

I grew up in a family that was on the go alot, my husband was different.  Both of our families value time together, but how we do that is different. We were always going and doing and on the move.  There were always games to play and places to see. My husbands family spends alot of time just sitting and chatting. My husband values time together just sitting a while and watching the sunset etc. He is content to just sit a while. While I am sitting there I have a whole list of things going on in my brain. I think that as a woman I have to multitask. I get so distracted, Sometimes I forget to stop and take stock of what is really important. My husband is very important and he needs me to slow down and pay attention to him. My Children need me there with them. I am making them priority in my life. I am showing them by the things that I do. As Dr Phil says "You gotta get plugged into your family" My challenge to you SLOW DOWN, MAKE TIME FOR THE IMPORTANT THINGS.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Taming the sugar beast part 1

We eat so much sugar in the United States.  It is insaine to look at the amounts of sugar we eat in this country. It is really sad for our children to be in this situation. It can be turned around one person, one family, and one neighborhood at a time.

How? you may ask. Let me share some things I have learned.

1. Sugar substitutes are not it! This past week I heard and read several articles and TV shows about the dangers of Sugar substitutes. We all know they are not the answer, otherwise this discussion wouldn't be taking place. I will include links to the articles at the end of this post.

2. Corn syrup is not the same as sugar! I was surprised the other day when I was watching a TV show about going green. They were making plastic bottles out of corn. They went through the whole process from feild to bottle. I was surprised when about twelve steps into the process, the narrater announced that "we now have corn syrup". I was shocked that it took that many steps to make corn syrup. Then I was really shocked at the fact that it was only two or three more steps and they had plastic bottles.

3. Our brains need sugar (glucose) to function properly! It needs sugar that our body gets from the food that we eat. The problem is we are feeding our brains and bodies loads of processed sugar and artifical sweetners, not the real food that it is really needing. Our brain keeps signaling for real food, and we keep interpreting it as a need for sugar, and artifical sweetners only make it worse.

What is the next step.

                                                            © Jjmaree | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos


Three tasks for this week:

1. No artifical sugars or sugar substitutesEliminate them all this week. No more diet sodas, no pink, blue, or yellow packets added to coffee. No more light yogurt.  What are you going to use instead? You can use a natural sweetner like honey, maple syrup, stevia, or just plain old sugar. Now hold on a minute! sugar! I thought this was about getting rid of excess sugar in our diet. Yes it is, and we will get to that in part two. For now, eliminating artifical sweetners is upmost important.

A word about agave nectar or syrup. True agave would be acceptable, but it is hard to find and is an aquired taste. The stuff sold to us in America as a healty sweet alternative is really overprocessed goo made from the starch of the plant in a very similar fashion to corn syrup.  It is like corn syrup, just begining with a different starch.

2. Eat a serving of fruit every three to four hours during the day.
This was advice I heard from Zonya Foco. She is a leading nutritionist. Our bodies and brains are craving real food. Fresh, frozen or canned it does not matter, except watch out for canned fruit in heavy syrup. Read your labels on the frozen fruit. Stay away from corn syrup. Canned or frozen in natural juices is best. This will begin to feed the brain with good whole food nutrition. It will help to stabilize your blood sugar, and your glocose level in the brain. The cravings will begin to diminish to a low rumble as opposed to an all out, in your face roar.

3. Journal. Write down everything that you eat for the week. If you can, also write the time of day, and what you were feeling at the time. This will aid in discovering patterns and cycles in your eating habits. Later we can evaluate, and work on breaking those cycles.

YOU CAN DO THIS STUFF! Or you can live with the ever present roar of your body trying to get the nutrition it needs. If nothing else try adding the daily fruit to your diet. Zonya swears by it.  It has helped me to tone down the amount of sugar that I desire. It is worth the try.

Links to relevent information

Zonya Foco health articles

Dr Axe artifical sweetners not so sweet at all

Dr Oz on artifical sweetners

how bad is corn syrup?

fructose evil or misunderstood

food for your brain

berries for the brain Dr weil

nourishing carbohydrates to fuel the brain

agave nectar good or bad?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

fish tacos


YES! There is fish in this taco under all the veggies and stuff.
Fish tacos are yummy and easy to make. These were made with some tilapia filets that I battered and  fried.

I prefer to cook my own fish. I then know what is in the batter. I have used frozen fish that I have cooked according to the directions on the box. Either way they are good.

cooking the fish is the hardest part of it all.

1. cook fish portions.
2. warm tortillas. We use flour tortillas, but corn ones are yummy too.
3. add a piece or two of cooked fish
4. top with your favorite toppings We used lettuce, tomato, bell pepper,chopped onion, avacado, salsa, sour cream, cheese and a squeeze of lime. You could also add fresh cilantro if you like it.
 5. enjoy

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

pickled purslane


When I was reading about the effects of Omega fatty acids on the body and brain. I read about Purslane, a weed that grows wild in these parts. It is a noteble source of Omega 3's. I looked in my garden. Purlsane was abundant and ready to be picked. I picked a bunch, cooked some, and put some in my salad. I then decided to preserve some for later use.

It is actually pretty good for a weed.


1 quart purslane stems and leaves
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 quart apple cider vinegar
10 peppercorns

Clean the purslane stems and leaves by rinsing with fresh water.
Cut into 1" pieces and place in clean jars with lids. Add the spices
and pour the vinegar over the purslane. Keep this in the refrigerator
and wait at least two weeks before using. Will keep for up to a year.

PS. There is a weed similar to purslane called spurn which can be poisonous.
 Below is a link to a blog that talks about the difference along with some great photos.
spurge vs purslane


This is a poem that I memorized years ago when in the 6th grade.  It has been an inspiration in my life. It is a reminder that the hard times are worth it in the end.

                                                    GOOD TIMBER
by Douglas Malloch

The tree that never had to fight
for sun and sky and air and light,
but stood out in the open plain
and always got its share of rain,
never became a forest king
but lived and died a scrubby thing.

The man who never had to toil
to gain and farm his patch of soil,
who never had to win his share
of sun and sky and light and air,
never became a manly man
but lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow with ease;
the stronger wind, the stronger trees;
the further sky, the greater length;
the more the storm, the more the strength.
by sun and cold, by rain and snow,
in trees and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth,
we find the patriarchs of both.
and they hold counsel with the stars
whose broken branches show the scars
of many winds and much of strife.
this is the common law of life.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

crustless spinich quiche

This is one of our favorite recipes. It is simple and easy to make. You can make a traditional quiche with a crust, but we prefer it this way. Whenever we have fresh spinach we make this recipe.

Crustless spinach quiche

preheat oven to 375

6 slices bacon chopped
1/2 cup onion chopped
Brown the onion and bacon together in a skillet until the bacon is crisp then drain on a papertowel

In a bowl beat together
8 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
3 cups chopped fresh spinach
2/3 cup shredded cheese (swiss or monterary jack are two of our favorites)
bacon and onion

pour into a greased 9x9 pan or a 9 inch deep pie dish

bake in a 375 oven for about 45- 50 minutes. A knife inserted in the center should come out clean. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

So yummy, and you will never miss the traditional quiche with a crust
Great for a lazy breakfast on a weekend, or as a light lunch. We also serve it with a salad for supper.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Come hear the word of the lord!  To all people everywhere: The general worldwide conference for The church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints is this weekend!  I CANNOT WAIT TO HEAR THE MESSAGES OF HOPE AND INSPIRATION.   Twice a year; in the spring and in the fall, the millions of members of my church get together to praise and worship God. It is such a wonderful time to come together with millions of people in love and unity. There are four general sessions that are open to anyone and everyone to participate by radio, television, and internet.

When: Saturday, October 6th and Sunday, October 7th 2012

Time: 10 am and 2 pm    MST (Mountain standard time)   Saturday and Sunday
(this would be 12 noon and  4 pm on the East coast)

Where: weblink for conference viewing

There will also be many radio stations hosting. Many of the stations that host the Mormon tabernacle choir broadcasts on Sunday mornings will also be hosting. BYU television is also another place to check for a chance to watch on the television. I know that in my Area KSL Television will host.

I hope that you will take the time to join in and participate in this wonderful event for all

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

pumpkin pie squares

With fall in the air it is a great time to share pumpkin recipes.

This is a recipe that I have had for years. We do not make it very often anymore because we have chosen to get away from pre packaged items. That aside, it is still yummy and very easy to make.

easy pumpkin pie squares

preheat oven to 350

1 box yellow cake mix (reserve 1 cup for the topping)
1/2 cup soft butter or margarine
1 egg
Mix together until moistened and then spread in the bottom of a 9x13 pan

1 large can pumpkin (2 cups)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup milk
beat together until smooth and pour over the crust

1 cup reserved cake mix
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)
mix together and sprinkle over the filling

bake in preheated 350 oven for 1 hour

He doesn't have to share at home!

The other day while my kids were playing with a bunch of neighborhood children, fighting broke out. They were fighting over a toy. I pulled my children aside. I told them that we needed to share, or we would go home. I heard one of the Grandmothers comment about her grandson, "He doesn't have to share at home, they each have their own rooms and own toys,they don't have to share."  That comment really struck me.

A few weeks later I caught the end of a documentary on the television. They were speaking with a School Prinicpal who had made great strides in her school to clean it up. The school was in such bad shape it was a real problem. The building itself was nearly condemed. Once they cleaned the building up, they needed to get the teachers on board. They were no longer going to have some of the lowest test scores in the nation. In the process of it all they were shocked to discover that the children lacked the basic skills to be able to learn

They began with the simple things that the children should have learned early on as a toddler; things like, please, thank you, taking turns, and sharing. It was making a huge difference. They were having less distractions in the classroom.  The children were more focused and ready to learn. They were able to turn things around for these children.

It takes a village to raise a child. My parents know this and lived it. They have spent countless hours working with the youth over the years. In scouts, as young men's and young women's group leaders in our church,as 4-H leaders and various other things. They were a part of the community. I remember them serving on the volenteer fire department. They contributed  to society and they taught us children to do the same. There have been many who have come back as an grown men and women and said to my parents "Thank you". They encouraged us to participate in such things as 4-H, and Youth city council. They wanted to give us a good start in life. I am grateful for that. Now that I am grown, I am making a difference in my family and community.

Teaching my children to be a good example to their peers is a good start. The other day I heard my three year-old saying to one of the other children "lets be caring and sharing" I was proud of her.  She learned that from my good example. We can all be a force for good in this world. We can make a difference, one child at a time.

Now it is your turn. Go and make a difference in the life of a child.