Ingredient of the month: Cream of Chicken Soup

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A Christmas Tradition

So I love Christmas. I love the magic. I love the extra reason to talk about Jesus Christ with my kids. I love the smells, the tastes and the memories of it all. I love Santa too. I love giving gifts...and is this terrible...but I love getting gifts too. And I love traditions.

For Christmas we do lots of the normal advent calendar all month, leave Santa a note with milk, and share gifts Christmas Eve. Growing up, I recall drinking Orange Julius and eating waffles made by my mom Christmas morning after rummaging through all of the great stuff Santa left behind. My husband's family acts out the nativity on Christmas Eve and although I am not by any means good at role playing I look forward to dressing Kara up as Mary and Jared as Joseph or a shepherd in the coming years. My own little family adopted the tradition to do something special on December 8th. This was the day my husband and I exchanged gifts our first Christmas (before we were even engaged) and it happens to be the day that Christmas "starts" in Italy (my second home!) I have dreams of doing service or being more organized so as to enjoy the traditions more fully but alas I'll have to try again in 364 days.

My point? What are some of your Christmas traditions?


Mmmmm Turtles

These are a traditional Christmas treat in my family. It is my Great Grandma Beatrice's recipe. It is fabulous. One recipe made 3 cookie sheets worth of turtles.

Grease (very well) cookie sheets and place halved pecans about 1 and 1/2 inches apart. DO THAT PART FIRST.

Heat one stick butter, 1 cup white Karo Syrup, and 2 cups sugar, bring to a boil then add 1 12-oz can of evaporated milk. Cook to firm ball stage (244 degrees), I use a candy thermomater. It takes a while but you have to stir constantly.

Use a teaspoon ( I used a tablespoon, mmm more carmel) and poor over each pecan. Do this quickly because it sets up fast.

Then melt milk chocolate, chocolate chips and put 1/2 tsp, (I used 1/2 tablespoon) on top of carmel. The chocolate is like the turtles back. Eat and enjoy!! These are the best, I took some of these around to my Aunts and grandfather and they were happy to see Great Grandma's turtles. :)



This is our traditional Christmas morning food! My dad's grandma made these every year for them and now he makes them every year for all of us and when we have our own Christmases I will make them for my family. It's similar to a scone except better! I don't like scones that much and I love these!

Heat some vegetable oil in a skillet
Take some bread dough (easiest way is Rhodes- thawed and risen)
Stretch and flatten into several 1 in x 2.5 in rectangles
Drop into hot oil until brown on underside, flip with tongs to brown the other side.
Smother in butter and honey or jam and eat!!

Not the best food for you but really yummy!
Merry Christmas!


Favorite Books

One of our favorite things to do at our house is to read to our little girl (we'd love to read to our baby too, but he mostly just wants to eat the books, so he gets to hear from far off). And, since we also like to give books at Christmas I thought I'd ask what some of your most-loved kid books are in your families. One of our rediscovered favorites is "Grandpa Bunny". It was one of my husband's favorite books when he was a kid and they just started republishing it so we got a copy from my in-laws. It is an adorable story and Rachel loves it already. Some of our other favorites are the Olivia Books by Falconer and of course any of the Dr. Seuss books (the little board books they make of these are fantastic!). I look forward to hearing what you and your kids love to read!


Gifts for Teachers

Any ideas on what to give a preschool teacher and aide for Christmas? I really don't want to go the gift card route.


Candy Cane Kisses

I'm with Bridget here, this isn't really a recipe, but I absolutely LOVE these little devils. They only come out around Christmas time, so last year I bought like 4 bags just to get my fix after Christmas... don't ask me how long they lasted, it is shameful. I didn't even share them with Scott, I kept them hidden! I'm terrible. Anyway, if you haven't tried these, you should, they are yummy. This year I also saw a whole bunch of other holiday kisses, hot cocoa, mint truffle (very good), and a toffee crunch. Looks like I'll have to do some major stocking stuffing so I can try them all!

Peppermint Icecream with Brownies

Okay, so this isn't really a "recipe", but one of my favorite things about Christmas is peppermint ice cream with chocolate sauce on top. I eat at least one bowl-full a day because it just screams Christmastime to me. And, to make it extra delicious, sometimes I make brownies to go underneath the ice cream. This is my mother-in-law's wonderful brownie recipe that is super versatile. You can add nuts or any kind of chip (chocolate, swirls, etc.) and they are great. Also, adding icing on top never hurt either! Enjoy the brownies and definitely grab a carton (or two in my case) of this ice cream the next time you're at the store. Merry Christmas!

Chewy Brownies
Blend well:
2 cups sugar
2 cups butter/margarine (2 cubes)
4 eggs
2 cups flour
1 t. salt
1/2 cup cocoa
1 t. vanilla
Optional Add-ins:
1 cup chips, nuts, or coconut

Bake at 350 for 22 minutes
(I usually put this in a medium-sized cookie sheet to cook).


Seasoned Nut Gift Idea

This Christmas I wanted to go beyond cookies and give something different to my Visiting Teaching sisters. I found this cute idea in an old issue of Martha Stewart Kids Magazine (yes I keep crafty magazines too!). The recipes are really good, I can't keep my hands out of the sweet pecans! The recipes are easy enough to make with your kids and would be good to have as a snack at your holiday celebrations too. I am going to bring some to Idaho with me this year.

Spicy Almonds
makes 2 cups

2 C whole blanched almonds
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet, and toast until fragrant, 7-8 min. Set aside.
2. Whisk together salt, sugar, and spices in a large bowl; set aside.
3. Bring butter, molasses, and vinegar to a boil in a large skillet over med heat. Add toasted nuts, and stir to evenly coat. Add nut mixture to spice mixture; toss to coast. transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, and spread in a single layer.
4. Return to oven, and toast 4 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheet. Almonds can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks.

Sweet Pecans
makes 2 cups

2 Cups pecan halves (7.5 oz)
1/4 Cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons maple syrup

1. Preheat oven 350*. Spread pecans on a rimmed baking sheet, and toast until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
2. Whisk sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a large bowl; set aside.
3. Bring butter and maple syrup to a boil in a large skillet over med heat. Add toasted nuts; stir to coat evenly. Add nut mixture to sugar mixture; toss to coat. transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, and spread in a single layer; let cool completely. Pecans can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks.



Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

I'm a huge fudge fan, especially over the holidays. And I just found this recipe. I haven't tried it out yet but if it works it's gotta be the easiest fudge recipe I've ever seen!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge:
12oz chocolate chips
12oz (1 1/2 c) peanut butter
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk

Place chocolate chips and peanut butter in a microwavable bowl and microwave on high for 1 min or until chips are melted. Stir in milk. Pour into 8x8in pan and refrigerate until set (maybe 2 hours). Cut into small squares.



I've been invited to join you guys, I'm excited. For those who don't know me, my name is Molly Archibald, and I am Christine's sister-in-law. I was in the New Brighton ward up until Sept. 2007 when we moved up to Lindstrom (blink and you'll miss it) so we're in the North Branch ward.

My husband's name is Geoff, and we have a 21 month old daughter named Quinn. She and Christine's boy Ian are best buddies, and are always a hoot to see when they are together. Currently, Quinn's chief occupations are torturing our cat Boo, naming objects in her immediate proximity at the top of her little lungs, and dropping play-dough on the floor.

I'm somewhat new to the blogosphere but we do have a family blog that we sporadically update. I'll try and contribute often here, though. Right now I'm going to hunt for this famous shredded chicken recipe my sister in law keeps telling me about! More later--Molly


Fasting Prevents Heart Disease?

Thought this was an interesting article on

Jam Thumbpints

I make these cookies every year for a cookie exchange party and they're a big hit.


3 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp water
7 ounces sweetened coconut

1. Cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla and blend. Add flour and salt and mix. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes.
2. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and dip in egg wash, then coconut. Make a small impression in each ball. Place balls on greased cookie sheet. Fill impressions with a small amount of jam.
3. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes or till lightly browned and done inside.
4. Cool on racks.

Makes 4 dozen


Picky Eater!

My son Ian is 22 months old and is becoming the pickiest eater on the planet! He used to eat many things and had a great appetite, not any longer. The only things he seems to eat these days are...
Kraft Mac n Cheese
Clementine Oranges
Mandarin Oranges
String Cheese
and the list keeps shrinking. I try giving him new things all of the time and he either won't even let it get near his mouth or he spits it out when he tastes it. Trying to sneak things into his mouth or disguise them doesn't work either. He is starving! He brings us food from the pantry and when we open it to feed it to him he refuses it! I feel like we waste so much food at our house. I think he is too young still to say "this is what is for dinner and you either eat it or go to bed hungry". I am getting the Deceptively Delicious cookbook for Christmas but I fear that he won't even try those recipes, maybe the mac n cheese one.
So my experienced mommy friends I need some help, suggestions and encouragement! Are your kids picky? What are sure fire recipes/ foods that your kids eat, hopefully ones with some nutrition. I am loosing patience and am just plain worried about Ian's nutrition.
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Parade of Elves

My sister found this site and I thought it was so cute! My kids were cracking up when they saw their faces on ours, so I thought it would be fun to do some for the Mommy blog!
Can you find your little elf??

Little elves 1:

Little elves 2:

Little elves 3:

Enjoy! :)

Tortellini Soup

Here's my favorite pasta soup recipe. My kids even eat the tomatoes and spinach (usually), so that should speak for itself! It's also my sneaky way to introduce you to another favorite site, Domestication in Progress. It was started by an LDS girl, and it's all recipes with photos. YUM!

Heeeere's Laura!

Okay, here's me in a nutshell. I grew up in Ohio and majored in theatre at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio (focusing on stage management and theatre history, not acting). I then served my mission in Thailand and got my master's degree in theatre history at Ohio State, where Brian and I met at the singles ward there. We've been married six years. Before having our daughters, Haley (age 3 1/2) and Jessica (1 1/2), I worked for a national arts presenter based in Columbus, while Brian finished school. I was the touring coordinator (organizing national tours of plays we brought over from the UK) and then the development director for the theatre company we managed. I LOVED my job!!!! As any of my close friends will tell you, I had a very hard time transitioning to being a stay at home mom. In fact, I'll probably continue to be working on it for a very long time. However, I am grateful that I can stay with them. When Brian graduated three years ago, we moved to MN for him to work as a financial analyst at Target headquarters. He moved to Macy's in March, and we moved to this area of town in August so he could be close to both work and school (he's going back for dental pre-reqs). We absolutely love this ward--the people are amazing!


Hawaiian Haystacks

Hm... do chow mein noodles count as pasta? Probably not but I've already put all my favorite pasta recipes on here so this will have to count! :)
This used to be what my family would have every New Years Eve, but since I married Brian he likes it so much that we end up having it a lot more than once a year!

Hawaiian Haystacks:
1 can chow mein noodles
2 c cooked rice (or however much your family eats)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 c water
1 c cooked and diced chicken
1 tomato, diced
1 can crushed pineapple
1 c grated cheese
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 can black olives, sliced
1/2 c coconut
maraschino cherries

Mix soup and water in a pot and simmer for 10 min. Add chicken pieces and heat through. Put all other ingredients in separate bowls and serve buffet style. First noodles then rice then chicken sauce and then everything else. Top it with a cherry.
You can also add chopped celery, green onions, and slivered almonds to this if you like.

Tell me what you think?

Ok, so I had my 20 week Ultrasound last week. I talked with the Doctor today and found out that because of the measurements of the baby they have moved my due date back 3 weeks. So instead of April 18th it is now May 5th. I not very excited about this. Am I just being silly? I will go back to the Doctor in about 2 weeks and then in about 4 weeks have another 21-23 week Ultrasound. I don't know why this is such a big deal to me, but I am really bummed out. Please give me some input!! Thanks all!


Olive Garden Pasta

You will die at the calories that go into this, but it is so yummy. And supposedly, it is from the olive garden. I only make this occasionally, but when I do, we always love it. I like to add peas or broccoli, and of course, crumbled bacon on top.

1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 stick butter
3/4 c. parmesan cheese
1/2 c. milk
10 oz. pasta

Melt butter, cream cheese, and milk all together. Stir in cheese, and toss with noodles. I found it works best to stir constantly on a low heat setting, that way the cheese and butter don't separate as much. Enjoy!... And try not to think about the calories you are eating!

Traveling with kids

Well, I've traveled a lot with Will, mostly by myself, so I'm always looking for new and exciting things. Some things that have really worked for us are:

1.) New and exciting treats/food they have never eaten before. I got Will some of those crackers that have the cheese with them all in one little package... what a hit! They also come with oreo's and you dip them in the frosting, those were a hit too. Others I've tried: a new kind of dried fruit (bananas were a hit), suckers (great, but keep the wipes handy), fruity cheerios (always a hit, especially if they never get it at home).

2.) STICKERS! Kids can be entertained for hours with stickers. My friend packs a roll of blue masking painters tape and her little boy who is 2, LOVES peeling pieces off and sticking them everywhere. Just make sure they are peeled off the seats in front of you if you are on a plane before you get off.

3.) A "new" book. I say "new" because it usually takes Will a few reads to really start liking a book. So, before we travel, I get him a book, get him reading it and loving it, and then it disappears into the travel bag a few days before we go. That way, when I pull it out on the plane, he is instantly interested and excited to read it. Sometimes if it is a book he's never seen before, he could care less.

Hope that helps. I could probably post some better stuff after our three lay-over trip to Utah in a couple weeks. We'll see how well my ideas work this time!


Pasta and Meatball soup

This one is more soup than pasta - but it has pasta in it so it fits the bill. Just throw it all in the pot and relax!

Pasta and Meatball soup

1 cup spiral pasta
1 lb meatballs
29oz vegetable broth
28 oz diced tomatoes
1 ½ cup frozen sliced carrots
16 oz kidney beans
14 oz spaghetti sauce
4.5 oz sliced mushrooms
1 cup frozen peas

Cook pasta
Combine all ingredients except the frozen peas in a Dutch oven
Bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes
Add the frozen peas during the last 5 minutes or so
Add water to thin it out if you like a thinner soup

*brown meatballs well before adding to Dutch oven

Introduction - Heathere WIlloughby

Hello everyone - This is Heathere Willoughby. I have been slow to post an intro, but I am finally doing it! I live in NE Minneapolis with my stay-at-home dad husband and my little 18 month old Lijah (rather than post pics here you can see plenty at We both grew up in Minnesota so we are used to the cold. One of the favorite things I love about our ward here in MN is seeing all the new student families come each year and telling them all about the winter horror stories! I'm lucky because I love the cold, and the snow - so I think I am living in the right place.

I work at Capella University as an enrollment counselor and by doing this I get free tuition. So I will continue to go to school and rack up the degrees and certificates. The price is right - so I cannot see myself not taking advantage of that! Some non-work, non-school things I enjoy are knitting, making jewelery, photography, arts & crafts, and chasing my little boy around every night when I get home from work.

Crockpot Ribs

Okay, since I didn't get to the crockpot post I thought that I'd double the fun with a crockpot-pasta post. We love this easy recipe and it's great for Sundays (I make it in the crockpot on Saturday and stick it in the fridge until Sunday).

3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbls cider or white wine vinegar (or whatever)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt
5 lbs. country-style pork ribs (I usually cut this in half and keep the sauce the same)
1 medium onion, sliced (I use the dehydrated ones)
1 Tbls sesame seeds (optional)
2 Tbls chopped green onions (Also optional)

In a large bowl, combine the first 8 ingredients. Add ribs and turn to coat. Place ribs and sauce in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Place ribs on a serving platter; sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions. We serve the ribs over egg noodles, but rice is also great.


Hello all, I have been told that when I join this group I need to introduce myself. I am Rachel Gaulke, my husband is a full time student going to school to get a BA in it changes every day!! We live in Minneapolis, MN with our 2 year old William and our second boy on the way. I have been born and raised in MN so we are one of the lucky ones to be close to family. Let me tell you it helps a lot, Mike and I get to go on dates whenever we want. I think that is enough info for now. Thanks all!!

Travel with Kids

With December being a major travel month I was curious if you have any great tips on how you travel with kids...whether in the car or on a plane what tricks of the trade do you have?


1 Dish Chicken Supper

I got this recipe from my mom and we like it...and I LOVE that it is so easy...I usually double the recipe so that I have leftovers.

4 boneless chicken breasts (cut in half)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup milk
1 pkg. stovetop stuffing mix and seasoning
1 2/3 cup water

Place chicken in slow cooker. Combine soup and milk and pour over chicken. Combine stuffing, seasoning, and water. Spoon over chicken. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.