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Sunday, November 28, 2010


Dear Family and Friends,

Snow finally hit last night, dumping a foot of snow everywhere.  Spencer and the girls are outside running around with abandon trying to get numb enough for hot chocolate.  Taylor is snug in his bed glad to not be throwing up anymore and listening to Christmas music.  We put our ornaments up on our tree and are eating the last of the Thanskgiving pies tonight - holiday season is definitely here.

Kids were only in school two days this week.  Robyn even got to attend school twice.  Once at her preschool Monday for her Thanksgiving feast.  She was convinced that you had deviled eggs at Thanksgiving so that is what she brought.  She must have been onto a good idea as they were a hit.  And second Robyn got to go be a preschooler at Lincoln for a child science class.

Tuesday we were all excited as blizzard warnings went across the state.  All the universities closed down, airplanes were grounded and we got .2!!! inches of snow.  What we did get was a huge drop in temperatures where we got down to single digit temperatures at nights and highs in the teens during the day.  If it is going to be that cold we expect some snow!  But Allison spent the evening at a birthday party living it up doing girly stuff while I hosted a bunch of women at our house to watch a movie.  We had no problem switching to vacation mode of eating too many treats and staying up late!

Wednesday Allison spent the day playing with different friends all day while the rest of us cooked, cleaned and I worked on a cushion for our hallway bench.  Thursday while I was downstairs Robyn and Allison were busy setting up the dining room table as a surprise.  Complete with place setting turkeys.  The sad part is that I realized I have a long way to go as a mom as my first thought was shoot, I wanted to get out the china and tablecloth.  But I at least kept my mouth shut! 

  Cousins came over for the day, slept over so their parents could shop and spent the day Friday.  My kids were eating up all the cousin play time!  We hiked in the bitter cold up to the waterfall, our coldest, iciest hike yet.  Ate a lot, visited and watched movies.  It was a great Thanksgiving.

Then we woke up, put on Christmas music and started setting up Christmas decorations.   Taylor added to the festivities by being sick all weekend and throwing up most of Friday and being a pale weak noodle on Saturday.  But he put away a bunch of egg nog this morning and has kept it down although that required resting for several hours.  But he looks better and better.  The whole weekend felt just lazy and laid back.  Saturday night Jeremy and I went out to dinner with a bunch of friends and then came home to watch Inception and for me to eat left over pie.  Recommend the movie Inception and am still trying to figure it all out.

Kids can no longer feel their chins and have decided its time for hot cocoa.  Hope you are enjoying your holiday weekend.

Love Heather
 Allison found an old loom my parents gave me as a kid and has been busy getting it all set up.  Let me rephrase that - she was busy instructing me how to set it up for her!

 Robyn doesn't like her coat.  She thinks lime green is a boy color and it causes tears everytime we break it out.  To ease the pain she wore a pink tutu for our hike.

Allison and Garion finished up the puzzle.

I thought this recipe was common knowledge but I guess it isn't!  This is just the regular original recipe on the side of the chex box and is family favorite, addictive munchie - great for football game watching.

Chex Mix

3 c corn chex cereal
3 c rice chex cereal
3 c wheat chex cereal
1 c mixed nuts
1 c bite sized pretzels
1 c regular size bagel chips broken into pieces
6 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

  1. In a large bowl mix cereals, nuts, pretzels and bagel chips.
  2. In a second bowl mix the rest of the ingredients.  Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture stirring to coat evenly.
  3. Pour into a 9 x 1 pan and cook at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Cool and eat.
  4. Optional you can make it in a microwave by cooking it on high 5-6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Peter

Peter - We are living vicariously.  Wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday and congratulations on your new job:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Chocolate Pecan Pie

This is Allison's favorite pie.  Really it is just a candy bar in a pie crust which is why she likes it so much.  It is super rich and tastes wonderful with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

1 9 inch pie crust, uncooked
6 Tbsp butter, cut into chunks
1 1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 c light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c pecans
6 oz semisweet and/or milk chocolate chips

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Cover the crust with foil and fill with beans or pie weights.  Cook 25-30 minutes till light in color.  Remove the pie from the oven and take off the foil and weights.  You want to add the filling while the crust is still warm.
  2. In a medium sized pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar and salt until the butter is all absorbed.  Whisk in the eggs, corn syrup and vanilla until smooth.  Return the pan to the stove.  Cook over medium heat till it looks shiny and hot to the touch (130 degrees).
  3. Stir in pecans.  Pour into pie crust.  Sprinkle chocolate over the top.  Press chocolate slightly into the filling.
  4. Reduce oven heat to 275 degrees.  Cook the pie 50 - 60 minutes till the filling looks set.  Let the pie cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

I have never been a big fan of the sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows.  But this recipe strikes just the right note for me between sweet and tart.  I make these the day before or in the morning and then just put them into the oven 30 minutes before dinner.  And when I saw sweet potatoes, I really am talking about yams.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

3 large sweet potatoes
1/2 c cranberry relish
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 craisens
1/2 c pecans
salt and pepper

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Scrub and pierce sweet potatoes.  Cook in a dish for 1 1/2 hours or till tender.  Cool slightly.
  2. Cut tops off of potatoes.  Scrape out the inside pulp into a separate bowl, leaving behind a thin shell of potato.
  3. Mash the pulp in a mixer along with the relish, sugar, butter and 1/2 tsp salt.  Stir in craisens.
  4. Sprinkle sweet potato shells with salt and pepper.  Fill with mashed potato mixture.  Top with nuts.  bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Holiday meals always feel a bit like a one man circus in our kitchen.  I like this recipe because it cuts down on the craziness.  I can make them in the morning and leave them covered on the counter.  Then when the turkey comes out I pop in the mashed potatoes to get hot and it tastes like they were just made.  When I serve them with ham I will throw in a cup of shredded muenster cheese and a little extra milk.  You can adjust the amounts up or down.

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

12 russet potatoes
1/2 c butter
1 c milk or half and half
8 oz cream cheese
Salt and white pepper to taste (I use around 1 tsp of each)

  1. Peel and boil the potatoes till soft.
  2. Mash the potatoes with butter, milk, salt and pepper.
  3. Mash in the cream cheese till smooth.
  4. Put the potato mixture into a 9 x 13 dish.  Cover.
  5. When dinner is almost ready, bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven until hot, about 1/2 an hour.

No holiday meal would be complete for my family without this cheeseball.  It has obtained almost legendary status since my family served it to us growing up and we each still boast about the cheeseball our individual families have made.  I have been overruled in my family so we make our without nuts but rolling it in nuts gives a nicer presentation I think.


2 pkg. creamed cheese (16 oz)
8 ox can crushed pineapple, well drained
1 Tbsp Season Salt (no this is not a typo)
1/4 c green pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp green onion, chopped
1/2 c craisens, optional
2 c chopped nuts, optional

Mix all ingredients except nuts in a mixer or food processor.  If you want to roll it into a ball on nuts you can or simply mound it into a bowl.  Chill well, preferably overnight.  Serve with crackers - ritz and wheat thins are our favorite.

This is Taylor's pie and coincidentally it is from a recipe by Robert Taylor that my mom had.  We have tried all sorts of other lemon pies but this one is the best and next to huge helpings of mashed potatoes and gravy is one of Taylor's favorite things at the holidays.  Make sure you beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add them separately.  If you just dump the eggs in to the hot mixture you will end up with chunks of cooked egg white in your pie.

Lemon Pie

1 1/2 c sugar
1/3 c cornstarch
1 1/2 c hot water
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 c lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp grated lemon rind
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
9 inch baked pastry shell, cooled

Mix sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan.  Gradually stir in water.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils.  Boil 1 minute.  Slowly stir in eggs a little at a time.  Boil 1 minute longer.  Remove from heat.  Blend in butter, lemon juice and rind.  Pour into baked shell and chill before serving.  Serve with whipped cream.

For some reason if Lasagna is in the recipe's name Allison automatically likes it.  I will assemble this before kids get home from school and then pop it in the oven a half hour before dinner.

Mexi-Corn Lasagna

1 lb ground beef
1 can 17 oz whole kernel corn, drained
1 can 15 oz tomato sauce
1 c favorite salsa or picante sauce
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 carton 16 oz cottage cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic salt
12 corn tortillas
1 c (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Brown meat, drain.  Add corn, tomato sauce, salsa, chili powder and cumin.  Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. In a seperate bowl combine cottage cheese, eggs, parmesan cheese, oregano and garlic salt.  Mix well.
  3. Spray a 9 x 13 pan.  Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Arrange 6 tortillas on bottom and up sides of 9 x 13 pan, overlapping as necessary.
  5. Top with half the meat mixture.  Spoon all of cheese mixture over meat.  Arrange the other 6 tortillas over cheese.  Top with remaining meat mixture.  Sprinkle on cheese.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.  Serves 10.

My mom used to make these out of bisquick dough sprinkled with cooked hamburger.  I loved them as a kid but didn't have much luck as an adult having them turn out.  So I switched to making them like a cinnamon roll and had much better results.  You can serve them with gravy but I still revert to childhood with these and break out the ketchup bottle every time.

Meat Rolls

1 egg
1/3 c sugar
2 c warm water
1/3 c shortening
3 3/4 tsp yeast
4 1/2 - 5 c flour
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c dry powdered milk
1 lb ground hamburger
1 onion, chopped
8 oz of mushrooms, fresh or canned
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp worcerstershire sauce
3 oz blue cheese, crumbled (opt)
Ketchup or gravy for serving

  1. Mix together egg, water, yeast, salt, sugar and shortening.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Add 4 1/2 c flour and powdered milk.  Knead until smooth, about 10 minutes.  Let rise until double.
  2. Brown hamburger in a pan.  Add onion and mushrooms.  Cook until onions are soft.  Add salt, pepper and worcestershire sauce. 
  3. Roll out dough, into a rectangle 12 inches tall and 24 inches wide.  Sprinkle on meat mixture.  If desired top with cheese.  Roll up dough just like a cinnamon roll.  Cut roll into 1 inch slices and lay on a cookie sheet.  Cover and let rise until double, about an hour.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 min till lightly browned.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Under pressure...

Dear Friends and Family,

Snow has finally come with a vengeance.  We woke up to a world of white and it is still coming down mixed with pockets of rain/slush when a warm wind comes through.   Kids were excited about their primary program today but when they saw the snow dreams of snowball fights and making snow men took over.  We hosted choir practice at our house today after church and while Allison and I sang, Spencer and Robyn suitably decked out were having a "snow warrior" school in the backyard.  Not sure what that entailed besides trying to hit targets on the playhouse in a true "snow warrior" fashion.

Jeremy yesterday morning quickly got our Christmas lights up before the snow came down.  It seemed like our whole neighborhood had the same idea.  Putting up lights in snow and ice is miserable and a great incentive to get your lights up early.  Jeremy had a full day yesterday spending the day in a photo class with a photographer he admires and then the night at a boys night of UFC watching.  So he really enjoyed his weekend.

This week was the school spelling bee.  Allison was very excited to be the girl representative for her class.  I showed up Friday and she was the first one up.  Those spelling bees are high pressure and pretty rigid in their format.  And I was crossing my fingers as she spelled gnash "n-a-s-h" and was out.  But then all the third graders got out on their first words.  So they had to stay at the end after the school champion won for a third grade tie breaker.  And then Allison won which she was thrilled for.  And then she had her 5th grade math test where she is getting As.  (She is doing well in 5th grade math all by herself.  Spencer is in 7th grade math and requires 30-60 minutes a night of me helping to correct his homework to keep his grades up).  And then choir practice and then home and off to her piano recital.   We really started wondering about the pressures we put on her.  Throw in running to help Taylor every time he has a seizure and living with Spencer which isn't always easy and you have the possibilities of ulcers on the horizon.  But she seems to love it all so far.

Piano recital with both kids was really enjoyable to listen to now.  They used to be an exercise in endurance and your cheeks started to ache from trying to keep a smile on your face.  Now its just nice to listen to all the Christmas music.  And afterward to celebrate we all went out to 5 guys for hamburgers.  Allison got a hot dog with bacon and American cheese on it.  She thought it was the best thing ever.  I almost gagged looking at it.  Robyn told me that after that dinner we better skip dessert and just have fruit to make up for all the junk food!  Stuffed with french fries no one even complained when we stopped to clean the office.

The papers sticking out of Spencer's pocket are his sheets of music just in case he had a case of amnesia when facing the grand piano.

Yesterday afternoon I was able to go attend the sealing of Jeremy's cousin up at the Bountiful Temple.  Dirk reminds me of Santa Clause, complete with the big belly and long curly hair and beard.  This is their second marriage and after 12 years they were sealed.  It was neat to be there.  Coming up to the middle of a snowstorm and literally sliding down a mountain guided by policemen and a snow plow was not so fun.  I was praying hard and used up any blessings from attending the temple.

The rest of the week was full of all the day to day errands and trivia - church meetings, school, classes, getting fabric to make our bench cushion etc.  Robyn "helped" me wrap up some Christmas presents.  Watching Allison get Taylor all fitted out in bibs and feed him a candy bar.  Cutting down dead plants in a rare afternoon of warmth and kids racing bikes up and down the street before the sun disappeared.  Running with a large group of women from our ward along Linden's running trail.  Spencer reading the Hunger Games trilogy any chance he can get.  Being shocked to find out how much Allison's jazz dance shoes are.  Just our basic life which I am always grateful for.

Hope you are enjoying the Thanksgiving season,


Monday, November 15, 2010

Mrs. Reese's Noodles

My brother Peter had friend named David Reese growing up whose mom made the best noodle dish ever.  I could always tell when she was making it because Peter would be eating at his friend's house that night.  It makes a lot!  I have consolidated some of the steps for how I make it.  And I make it without bok choy or cilantro as I don't care for either in this dish.  But it is one of my favorite meals.

Mrs. Reese's Noodles

1. Cook 3 chicken breasts till just barely done.  I usually cook mine in water.  Fill a pot with your chicken and water to cover.  Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer for 30 minutes until chicken tender.  Let chicken cool.

2. In a large mixing bowl put:
4 carrots, peeled and sliced diaganolly
6 stalks of celery sliced
2 heads broccoli cut up
3 garlic cloves minced
1 bunch green onion, sliced
2 cups of bean sprouts
(optional: 1 bunch bok choy cut up and 1 bunch of cilantro cut up)

3. Cut up your chicken into small pieces and put on top of your vegetables.  Sprinkle whole bowl with 2 tsp salt, 1/4 c sugar and drizzle with sesame oil.  Let it sit.

4. Cook one box spaghetti noodles till just all dente.  Drain.  Stir with a Tbsp of sesame oil.
5. Make your special sauce in a bowl.  Stir together:
1 c oyster sauce
1/3 c soy sauce
1/3 c catsup
3 Tbsp sugar (you can also do 3/4 c sweet chili sauce instead of the sugar and oyster sauce)

6. In a large frying pan heat a little oil over medium high heat.  Dump in half of your vegetable mixture.  Add 1/4 c water and cover for 5 minutes.  Then remove lid and stir fry mixture until all is tender.  Dump into a large serving bowl and repeat with the other half of your vegetable mixture.  Then pour 2 Tbsp of oil into your pan and stir fry your noodles till light brown.  Stir often otherwise the noodles will stick.  Dump noodles into serving bowl.

7. Pour 1/2 of the special sauce into your serving bowl and mix everything together.  If you want a stronger taste you can add more of the sauce.  I only do half of the sauce as my kids like a mild flavor.

This is Italian wedding soup only made with sausages rather than small meatballs to make it easier.  My kids don't seem to notice the veggies in it as they all agreed it was a keeper.  This soup keeps for several days but does not freeze. You can half the recipe though.  You can also make it up to adding the pasta and spinach earlier and then bring the soup back up to boiling a half hour before dinner.

Italian Sausage & Potato Soup
makes 10-12 servings

2 lbs mild Italian sausages, cut into 1/4 inch slices
3 carrots peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 quarts chicken broth (or 12 c of water with 12 tsp chicken bouillon)
2 cans (14 1/2 oz each) diced tomatoes
2 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp dried basil
2 c dried shell-shaped pasta (I like big shells, kids like small)
1 box frozen chopped spinach, 10 oz or one bunch of fresh spinach chopped
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese

  1. Cook sausage pieces, breaking them up with a spoon in a pan over high heat, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add carrots, onion and garlic, stirring often till onion is limp, 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add broth, tomatoes (including juice), beans and basil and bring to a boil.
  4. Add pasta, reduce heat and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until pasta is just tender to bite, about 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with cheese.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Scared Straight

Dear Friends and Family,

This week Robyn's preschool had a field trip guaranteed to keep Robyn on the straight and narrow.  Her preschool teacher's dad is that Utah county sheriff.  So we toured the county jail.  Imagine a group of 4 and 5 year olds with their moms walking through booking, seeing the "time-out" room for combative prisoners (the grate in the floor for their bathroom had them all grossed out), door slamming behind us and prisoners in booking cells trying to figure out where all these little kids came from.  Robyn loved learning that prisoners who got in trouble had to wear red and pink stripped jumpsuits and climbing all over the metal bunk-beds in an empty "unit".  But the highlight of the trip was meeting the k-9 unit and seeing the wildfire forest guys and climbing all over their humongous trucks.  I think all the guards and workers were so excited to be dealing with non-prisoners that they made the outing really special for these kids but I think all of them have decided they will never go there as adults.

Robyn's partners in crime - the tires on the fire trucks were bigger than them

We thought earlier this week that something had died in Spencer's room.  The smell was so strong one morning when we opened his door that we knew we weren't just dealing with bad hygiene issues.  So I spent the day wiping everything down and was pleasantly surprised to find his room pretty clean.  Till I moved his punching bag and found that Macho had decided it looked like a fire hydrant.  It must have been going on for awhile because the smell had really built up.  I tried our green machine, odor crystals etc but couldn't get rid of it.  So our nice carpet cleaning guy came back and put de-skunker all over.  It smells like bubble-gum in a really not good way.  Spencer has been sleeping in the basement ever since.  But today we opened his door and it wasn't too bad so I think we are back to normal.  And our cat is not on our good list right now.

Spencer (and a reluctant me) spent the week getting ready for his pow-wow on Saturday.  He had to build a rocket, a mouse house (he pushed for a bat house but the instructions lost me on the shopping list alone), write a report on a ferret and figure out 2 life cycles.  I think pow-wow instructors should hand out chocolate bars to all these little scouts and instruct them that they need to give the chocolate to their moms and give them a foot massage while they eat it to make up for all the scout homework they need to do.  But we did it and he had a great time at his pow-wow and his rocket worked (I was praying hard for that one!).

Spencer's mouse house - Grieslda this is the box the cinnamon rolls came in last year - the gift that just keeps on giving as I didn't want to drive to Home Depot for plywood
 Jeremy has been excited this week as his photo studio co-op has been coming together.  He did a tour with his perspective partners and it looks like it will work.  He also modeled again for a photo shoot for a gun manufacturer, along with Jason and Kelly.  (Kids thought it was great.  James Bond for a dad and another cousin and pizza night here)

Saturday was my annual girls' shopping day.  I love this tradition!  We all were neighbors in Orem and really only get to stay in touch with all of us a few times a year.  It amazes me to hear everyone's stories about their kids as we have all known each other for 10 years now.  We spent the day walking through toy stores, craft stores and eating and visiting.  Twelve hours just flies by.  The best part is that by the end of the day most of us have almost all our Christmas shopping done. 

We found plastic pants for Taylor this week.  Who knew they made them for adults?  The problem is that his waist is so narrow we need to take them in to do any good.  But between Taylor and Robyn (who still has accidents most nights) I am washing one to two loads of bedding every day.  That is not cool.  So I am hoping this does the trick. 

As the days get cold outside, I am taking more exercise classes at the Rec center and cleaning house.  Running or working outside don't have much appeal right now.  But there is a group of us who still run together on Saturday mornings and then take a yoga class at the rec center.  It is really fun to visit with everyone.  And thankfully there are a few really good runners in our group who do all the talking for the second half as I just gasp along.

Allison has decided to join church choir with me.  Watching her sit with another little girl who comes and carefully follow along with the music makes her seem so old.  Tonight we go to Priesthood preview with Spencer as he turns 12 in 4 months.  How on earth am I going to keep a straight face and not giggle or cry when he passes the sacrament?  Good thing Robyn is still little.  When I asked kids what they wanted for Christmas, Spencer didn't want a single toy and Allison only wanted a few.  So I am glad for Robyn whose eyes still get big when she finds a cool leaf on the ground and we all have to stop and ooh and aah for her.

I have been enjoying the prospect of hunkering down a bit.  Breaking out the fruitcake, cleaning out my craft supplies, reading the new shopaholic book.  Life seems to slow down a bit when it is dark and cold at night and I am enjoying the process.

Love, Heather

Macho not liking the neighbors dog playing with Rocky in our backyard
Robyn really likes reading about all her cousins on their blogs

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Crustless Quiche

I made this recipe once for a Stake Merry Miss dinner with my mom.  It felt like we made hundreds of these things.  But its an easy recipe, relatively healthy and quick. Goes great with french bread and salad for a dinner or with muffins and fruit for breakfast.  I cook up a package of bacon and then drain it and store half cup amounts in small bags in my freezer.  I have also used instead of bacon, turkey bacon pieces, canadian bacon that I have fried, and small pieces of ham.

Crustless Quiche

Sprinkle into greased pie pan:
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 c swiss cheese shredded
1/2 c chopped green onion (1/2 of a bunch)

In a bowl combine:
2 c milk
3/4 c bisquick (at lower altitudes you can do 1/2 c)
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs

Pour mixture over ingredients in pan.  Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mexicali Pie

A great regular casserole.  Can't be made ahead of time as the filling has to be hot when you pour on the cornbread topping.  And it doesn't freeze.  But you can make the filling and then heat it up again when you are ready to assemble the casserole to cut down on the prep time.  It is a great winter dish, warm, spicy and hearty.

Mexicali Pie
8-10 servings

In a large pan brown: 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
Add 1 medium onion, chopped and 1 green bell pepper, chopped

Add: 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cans (14 1/2 oz) Mexican diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn
1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, rinsed
1 packet taco spice mix OR 2 tsp chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 Tbsp flour

Pour mixture into a 9x13 pan.
Top with a mixture of:
1 c cornmeal
1/2 c flour
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 c milk
1/4 c oil
1 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Cook at 400 degrees for 22 minutes.  Serve with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.

I have old granny tastebuds, I admit it.  But every year the week after Halloween finds me making fruitcake for the holiday season.  In our family only I, Robyn and Spencer like fruitcake.  But nothing says holiday time for me like a piece of fruitcake with a cup of hot chocolate while reading a new book or looking at Christmas cards.  I used to make my Grandma Drechsel's recips but was never quite pleased with the results.  So last year we experimented to find our favorite recipe.  You are supposed to let fruitcake age in a cupboard wrapped up in saran wrap and aluminum foil.  But after an unfortunate event early in our marriage where I helped myself to a piece of fruitcake in a dark kitchen only to learn that it was not a green cheery piece I was eating but rather a moldy piece of fruitcake I take the cautious route.  I stick them in my freezer and then let them age for a week out in my cupboard before I eat them.  I have the feeling that no one else will ever make this recipe but me.  Since I love it though, it is going into the master cookbook.  This recipe is adapted from the Lionhouse cookbook


2 c chopped dates
3 c raisins
1 c candied pineapple
1 c candied red cherries
1 lb fruitcake mix (4 c)
2 c chopped pecans
2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp mace
1/4 tsp soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 c melted butter
1 1/4 c brown sugar
4 eggs
1/4 c honey
1/4 c citrus based fruit juice

In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, salt, cloves, mace, soda, and cinnamon.  Stir in the dried and candied fruit and nuts, making sure everything is well coated with the flour mixture.
In a large mixer bowl beat together the butter, brown sugar, eggs, honey and fruit juice.  Pour into the large mixing bowl holding the fruit and flour mixture.  Stir by hand till everything is well mixed together.
Spray two 8 x 4 inch pans with cooking spray.  Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.  Spray again.  Fill the pans 3/4 full.
Heat oven to 275 degrees.  On the lower rack of the oven place a pan of water.  Cook the fruit cakes on the second level.
Bake 2 1/2 hours at 275 degrees.  (You can do smaller loaves for 2 hours)  Cool
When cool dribble on additional fruit juice and wrap in saran wrap and foil.  Let age one week in a cool, dry place before eating.  I store mine in the freezer till ready to use and then age for one week.

Dear Friends and Family,

Jeremy has told me that is doesn't really count as a holiday but I think daylight savings time ranks right up there.  Sleep in for an extra hour and no longer have to wake up before the sun.  Cause for celebration in my book!

This week was a rather emotional one in our neighborhood.  The week started off great.  Robyn and I went to a friends' house who was hosting a brunch for her birthday.  I thought it was a brilliant way to celebrate a birthday rather than waiting around for someone else to celebrate for you.  Tuesday Robyn had a birthday party to go to, Allison and Spencer loved scouts and activity days.  Allison and I went out for a late night girls shopping trip for new clothes.  I was not sure whether to laugh or cry as Allison would preen in front of the dressing room mirror and asking me if I thought she needed a bra yet.  When did she get this old?

Then Tuesday night Jeremy woke me up at 1:30 to tell me that after I had fallen asleep he had been called to go the hospital.  A neighbor's 17 year old son was found an hour after getting home from YM, dead in the hallway of his home.  Jeremy was there as despite their efforts at the hospital to revive him, they could not bring him back.  Jeremy was up for most of the night after that.  The next night was our ward temple night.  Many of the youth and their parents were at the candle-light vigil at the high school so our numbers were small.  But it was a good reminder to me about the purpose of our family and our life here on earth.  Only a few weeks earlier our friend's 13 year old daughter in Orem was killed while waiting at the school bus stop by another 13 year old girl thinking she could drive.  Jeremy was quite involved in the fund-raising efforts for that family (the dad had died 5 years earlier in a car crash and a ponzi scheme con man had taken all the insurance money).  So it is no wonder when we told our kids what had happened that Robyn asked if all teenagers died.

So funeral plans dominated our week and our thoughts a bit.  Jeremy went over to stay at the house during the funeral and the viewing.  Our neighbor kids joined us for movie night while they went to the viewing.  Kids and I spent Saturday at the funeral.  So we have had lots of deep talks this week about what is important in life.  And to top if off with a Fast Sunday full of people testifying just really brought it home.

But we did have one night of fun.  Jeremy and I were able to go out Saturday night.  Jeremy patiently trolled through Ikea and Walmart with me looking for girls' Christmas presents, we had a great meal at Walmart and then watched Knight and Day which we really enjoyed.

Combined with all the other events of the week, Jeremy has been busy visiting all the elders in our ward.  Home-teaching numbers have been struggling for a while so they are busy committing people to make a big push in November.

Spencer spent a day at junior achievement city up in SLC on a field-trip.  It is where the 6th graders act out a town's economy.  Spencer was a bank manager which he thought was very cool.

Last week was full of sunshine and warmth, one last hurrah before the snow hits.  I hacked away at bushes, trees and pulled out our garden.  Robyn ran around on her bike whenever possible usually in some glamorous outfit.  I opened up windows whenever possible to get rid of some of the funk that pervades our house.  And I found a new series I am enjoying called The Dresden Files.  So lots of good this week along with the sad.

Love to you all, Heather

This recipe is from my neighbor Diane.  She cooks it in a jelly roll pan for 25-30 minutes.  While I like the super thick style that has to be eaten with a fork.  Either way its delicious and a completely fall like dessert.

Pumpkin Bars

2 c flour
2 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 c oil
4 eggs
2 c pumpkin
1 pkg mini-chocolate chips (12 oz)
1 c chopped walnuts opt.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl - flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and soda.  In a mixer blend together the oil, eggs, and pumpkin.  Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.  Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts if wanted.  Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan (or a jelly roll pan).  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes (if doing a jelly roll pan cook for 25-30 minutes).  Cool then frost with cream cheese frosting.

8 oz cream cheese
6 Tbsp butter
1 3/4 c - 2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Mix on low speed for 30 seconds and then beat till smooth on medium high speed, around 3 minutes.  Cut into bars.

Every Halloween we make brains (stuffed pumpkins), bones (breadsticks) and blood (marinara sauce).  My neighbor Deborah shared the same recipe for stuffed pumpkins this year with our ward, so I must not be the only one out there who likes this recipe.  My kids like the idea of eating brains more than the actual recipe but Jeremy and I love it.

Stuffed Sugar Pumpkins/Brains

1 medium sugar pumpkin (washed and cleaned out - save the top) (if pumpkins are small, use 2)
1 diced medium onion
1 1/2 lbs hamburger
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 8oz can water chesnuts
Optional: add 1 4 oz can sliced mushrooms, or 1 c dried craisins or 1/2 c sliced almonds

Saute onion in oil.  Add hamburger and cook till done.  Drain.  Add soup, soy sauce, brown sugar and mushroom if wanted.  Simmer about 5 minutes.  Stir in water chestnuts and craisens or almonds.  Place pumpkin on greased pan (you need a lip of at least a 1/2 inch to contain the juices).  Spoon mixture into pumpkin and cover with pumpkin top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until pumpkin meat is tender.  To serve scoop out pumpkin meat with the stuffing.  Serve with salt and pepper.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Our kids Sunday entertainment

This is what our kids spent their Sunday afternoon working on.  The computer can be such an educational tool...