Ingredient of the month: Cream of Chicken Soup

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Tricks of the Trade--The True Meaning

Wahoo! I didn't know I had the topic. Are there two Shelly's??
Anyway, I don't really know much about this. My son is not quite two yet and this is his second Christmas. He is still under the understanding that Christmas is all about the Christmas tree, the lights and the fun music. No expectations, no disappointments. Next year will be another story, but we are enjoying this while we can.
But on the cover of the Ensign is the manger scene that we look at a lot and always point out Baby Jesus. I have about 7 or 8 Nativity sets up all over the house and a big advent calendar on the wall. I keep the ones he can play with low and the ones I don't want touched, obviously, up high. We went caroling last night, wishing friends and neighbors Merry Christmas. As our family is just starting, the traditions are also just starting. Growing up, my most favorite memories of Christmas were the ones where we, as a family, gave to another family (especially secretly). I hope to keep those traditions.


Chilled Christmas Punch

I needed a quick christmasy punch last week and found this one on The cinnamon really gives it a christmasy kick. My husband liked it so much he asked me to make it again for Christmas dinner.




Hi, my name is Ericka and I have been a follower of the blog for some time. I am a friend of Cassi's and her family and now have decided to join in on the fun and become part of the awesome blogger mom's.
I suppose you would all like to know a little about me. I am originally from New York and Spain but have lived in AZ for the longest amount of time in one place so I like to consider it my home. My husbands name is Tyler and we have been married for 4 years and have a little boy named Porter who was born in July of this year. We live in Queen Creek, AZ where we just bought our first home and we love it! I have a degree in Elementary Education from ASU and got to teach 4th grade for a year before getting to become a stay at home mom. My husband and I met trough mutual friends and have been best friends ever since. He is from a small town in Wyoming which we like to visit often.
There are tons of things I enjoy such as crafts, cooking, traveling, shopping, taking pictures and of course blogging! I do have a blog for those who want to know more so come check out my crazy family!
Thanks for letting join you ladies, I hope what I contribute can be of help to others!


Shortbread Cookies

While at Rob's parents' house a couple days ago, his mom and I made some yummy Christmas cookies. One of her favorites are these Nut Shortbread Cookies. I'd never had them before, but I love them! And, of course, they're super easy.

1 c butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1/8 tsp salt
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c nuts, finely chopped

Mix all ingredients, then chill for at least 1/2 hour. Roll to 1/2 inch thick. Cut, bake at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Yield: 2 dozen cookies


Holiday Comic Relief

So, probably a ton of you guys know about this blog, but I thought that I would share for those of you who don't and who need a little laugh at this busy time of year. This blog is written by an anonymous (and hilarious) person who pretends to be TAMN - a girl who embodies almost all stereotypes of Utah Mormons. It's just funny because some of it is so true and it's in a very good natured way. I find myself laughing at her antics (and how some of it relates to me - yikes) all the time, so I thought you'd enjoy it too. Check it out at and if it's your first time she has an intro about herself in the upper right hand corner. Merry Christmas!

Superman vs. Batman

Okay all you mommies, I completed a project and I'm so excited about it that I thought I would share it with you. From one mommy to another, I know you'll appreciate it. I saw this idea at a craft show and I thought to myself.... "I bet I could do that." So today, I did. I didn't use a pattern or anything, it was REALLY simple, but if you want some rough directions of what I did, let me know!

Basically I just picked out material, used fleece behind the logos, and felt for the logos. Then sewed ribbon on the top for the tie. I'm giving it to my 2 1/2 year old for Christmas, I think he'll like it, and then I can post pictures of my little man being a super hero!


I got this recipe from a friend here in MN.  It is delish, and I think it makes a wonderful holiday treat!!  Oh, it is really easy too.  And sorry, it doesn't freeze..... hahaha.  

Line 15x1 pan (jelly roll pan) with foil and grease with butter (or spray with Pam).

Place down one layer of saltines and set aside (you might need to break some of the saltines so they fit).

In a sauce pan, combine 1 cup butter and 1 cup brown sugar.

Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes until it starts to caramelize.

Pour over saltines and spread around.

Bake for 7-9 minutes @ 350° F.

Pour 1 bag (2 cups) chocolate chips over the hot caramel.  Let melt and spread all over.

Sprinkle toffee chips on top.

Let cool for about 2 hours (or as long as you can stand it!)

Break apart and ENJOY!

Yummy Fudge!

I love this no bake fudge, so yummy and my kids love to help!
Bachelor Fudge
1/4 lb. butter (1 stick) softened
1/4-1/2 c. cocoa
3 oz. cream cheese
1 lb. powdered sugar (3 3/4 c. unsifted)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Sift powdered sugar and cocoa in a gallon size bag. Mix butter, sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla until smooth. (smush and smash the bag until all the lumps of butter and cheese are gone). Press into pan, or roll into logs. Press nuts on top or roll the fudge into them. Refrigerate- store in refrigerator. Vary amount of cocoa depending on individual taste.


Gingerbread Pancakes!!

Gingerbread Pancakes
2 c. flour
2 T. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
dash of ground cloves
4 T. molasses
2 T. vegetable oil
2 c. buttermilk
2 eggs lightly beaten
In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk eggs, oil, buttermilk and molasses. Slowly pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and stir until uniform. Lightly grease griddle over medium hat and cook the pancakes about 3 minutes on each side. Serve with hot maple syrup, applesauce and whipped cream or powdered sugar.
How great do these sound??? Try some.


A story I just have to share!!!

A little preface, I have two daughters Mikelle 3 and Kaylee 1 and am pregnant with child #3. Forever now Mikelle has wanted to name the baby Kaylee, if its a girl....

I have the funniest 3 year old in the whole world!!!! Kaylee was crawling up on the couch to sit by me and Mikelle says in a sad voice "I going ta miss her". I said "well, where is Kaylee going" Mikelle says "her is leaving" I said "but where is she going" Mikelle said "when da new baby comes Kayay haf to go bu bye". I about died from laughing. I explained to her that I love Kaylee and I could never send her away. I then told her that we would have 3 little kids, Mikelle, Kaylee and the new baby. I then asked her if that is why she wanted to name the new baby Kaylee, because she thought Kaylee was leaving and she said that yes, that was why she wanted to name the new baby Kaylee. Oh sad, I feel bad that she has thought that Kaylee was getting the boot, but mostly it makes me laugh. I also think its funny that she assumed we would send Kaylee away and not her. :)

A Time For Giving

We are usually out of town visiting family long before the plates of Christmas goodies from neighbors and friends come rolling in. This year, however, we are staying put here in Florida (really, who wants to leave 74 degree weather?!) We've thought about giving loaves of poppy seed bread, cookies, or other assortment of treats to those neighbors, home/visiting teachers, and friends whom we appreciate...but we are still undecided.

What do you give to friends and neighbors for Christmas?


And the winners are...

Thanks to everyone for sharing how they make Christmas special! We LOVED reading all of your Christmas was so hard not to comment in response! Thanks for the great ideas!

And now what you've all been waiting for!! We used our new best friend to help select our winners and here is what she said...

10-Steeves Family said...
Traditions -- Some of my earliest memories is of the 8th floor exhibit. I remember Mom and Dad taking us there every year, seeing Santa and then Dad would buy us Gingerbread cookies at the end. I don't think I have missed a year, even on college break or coming home for the holidays - we would always make a trip downtown to the 8th floor. Mom and Dad have carried this tradition on with my kids. This year we went to the 8th floor with Grandpa, saw Santa and had our gingerbread cookies It was a nice day, but we all missed having Grandma there

61-rdittli said...
Growing up the best part about Christmas was planning presents to make for everyone. Also, we acted out Luke 2 with costumes on Christmas Eve. For our relatively new family, the only consistent tradition so far is that at Christmas we have more family around. We've gone somewhere or had visitors every Christmas. I love the ideas I've read here! Maybe next year I'll report on which ones I successfully added to our holiday tradition. :)

You have 24 hours to claim your prize(s) may choose up to 3 prizes!! Be sure to email by 7am Sunday December 14th to select your prizes (with a few back up ideas in case the other winner beat you to the punch.) If we don't hear from you by then we'll select a new winner. We'll mail them to you before Christmas so you have some fun stocking stuffers!

Thanks again for participating!!


The Mommies


Pick Your Prize GIVEAWAY

Hey there Mommy Bloggers! With Christmas coming up in just 17 days we thought it was the perfect time to do our very first GIVEAWAY!!! We've actually been planning this for a while but couldn't quite come up with something that would be cool enough for a prize. So instead of doing just one prize we decided to combine our talents (and an assortment of other fun things) and do a "pick your prize" giveaway!!! So here's how it will work:

  • Just leave a comment to enter the contest. We don't care who you are, an author, a reader, or a complete stranger. But be sure to tell your friends because the more comments the more winners!
  • In your comment answer this question (any simple answer will do, we are not picking the winner based on your answers): How do you make Christmas special for your kids/family?
  • Only ONE entry per person. If you leave more than one comment we will delete them.
  • The winner will get to pick their prize(s) from the items below.
  • Every 50 comments we will choose an additional winner. Each winner may choose three prizes.
  • However if we somehow do get more than 300 comments we will stay with only 6 winners. You can still enter the contest after 300 comments have been left but only 6 from the total number of comments will be chosen.
  • Giveaway ends on Friday (Dec 12th) at MIDNIGHT (central standard time). Winners will be selected randomly using and announced the next morning.
  • If you are one of the winners email to claim your prizes. If we do not receive an email from you within 24 hours we will pick another lucky winner. So make sure you check on Saturday morning!
  • Prizes will be given on a first come first serve basis so when you email you might want to give a couple "back up" choices in case another winner emails before you.
So... let's show you what you're playing for!!
Each winner picks 3 of these:


Handmade placemat purse- this is just an example of the style, the purse won't look exactly like this.

2 little girl corker bows

Handmade purple little girl bracelet

The Lake House dvd*

Baby bibs*

Snugly sleeper 0-9 months*

Fun book for your little ones*

Set of 6 handmade greeting cards

Toy firetruck*

Handmade bow sewn fleece baby blanket in either pink or blue

Festive Fourth of July shoes infant size 3*

Little girl skirt 6-9 months*

Handmade Earrings

Handmade Earrings

Handmade earrings

2 handmade felt flower clips for mommies (you pick the colors)
-yes... I said mommies... these are all the rage here. Most people wear them next to the rubber band of a pony tail.

2 handmade felt flower clips for girls (you pick the colors)

Girl outfit 24 months*

Eye shadow and lip gloss/blush combo*

Twirly skirt made from this fabric. You pick the size (little girl sizes only)

I should mention that the jewelry and flower clips were all ideas inspired by Kara.

*Everything that is not made by us is brand new and never used and still has tags or plastic wrap.


Tricks of the trade

We are going to be painting our living room and since I have two kids I am looking for a quick and easy way to get this done. Does anyone have any items as to how to make sure that is goes smoothly??

{Christmas Gift Ideas on a Budget}

The last couple of years I have given my family calendars. I buy them for $3 at Office Max or Staples they are the big desktop kind and they have lines for writing. I can't write straight so having lines is a must for Then I buy stickers for every Holiday, Birthday. and Anniversary so that it looks more personal. I then add every one's birthdays and anniversary's. Each family is different. For example for my sister I added all of our family then I was able to email her husbands sister and I got all of his family members birthdays and anniversary's. I was only planning on doing it for one year but everyone wants it every year.

My sister makes a music CD every year with a song that represents each family member for that year. We only include my Mom and Dad, their children and spouses. The grand kids are not included. This is something that we look forward to every year and it's fun to see what song they have picked out for everyone. My song this year was called "Soccer Mom" It fit me perfectly.

Blender Wheat Pancakes

I've been meaning to put this up for a while - so Shalee's motivation was great. Here is a great way to use up some of your wheat without needing a wheat grinder:

Blender Wheat Pancakes
1 C milk (translation for powered milk is 3 T. milk and 1 C Water)
1 C wheat kernels (whole and uncooked)
2 Eggs (2 T. powered eggs 1/4 C. Water)
2 T. Oil
2 T. Honey or Sugar
1/2 C + Bisquick (ours were a little runny, so I'm still experimenting with how much is needed to make them the right consistency).

Put milk and wheat kernels in blender.
Blend on highest speed for 4 or 5 minutes or until batter is smooth.
Add eggs, oil, sugar or honey to above batter.
Blend on low.
Pour out batter into pancakes from the actual blender jar (the only thing to wash!) onto the hot greased or Pam prepared griddle.
Cook; flipping pancakes when bubbles pop and create holes.

We actually tried this as waffles and you can use applesauce instead of oil to cut out the fat.

This recipe came from Everyday Food Storage, which has great ideas on using food storage... well...everyday. Check it out at

FYI Mommies

Hi Mommies,

Each week leading up to Christmas we will have gift ideas being posted to help aid you in your christmas shopping. Check the sidebar to see what age we're focusing on. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions of gifts that your children have especially loved and that get the mommy stamp of approval!



Go Fish (or Memory)

For the last few years I tried to personalize our gifts for my nieces and nephews by making them their own set of Go Fish cards or a Memory game. It takes a little work but makes a lasting, exciting, inexpensive gift for Christmas.

Here's what I do...I print 2 pictures (I got a little over zealous one year and made 4 pictures...bad idea) of every family member (extended family too...which in my case isn't that many...or you could do all the cousins, etc.) The pictures don't have to be the exact time I used a picture of my sis-in-law making a silly face and another of her smiling. You want the pictures to be closer up so it is mostly of the person and not of the background.

Then I cut...I cut all of the pictures to be the same size (you can keep them as 4x6s but I thought that was too big to play with) and then I also cut up colored card stock to be a little bigger size than the pictures. For my gold fish game I stamped fish all over one side of the card stock and I glued the picture on the other side. (It's important to keep the non-picture side all the same though!)

Then to make the game a little more lasting (and just when you thought you were done!) I cover them in clear contact paper. Then I cut them out so they are all the same size again.

Next I find a good small box that the game cards will fit in. I type up rules to the game personalizing them to the family I am giving it to (i.e. instead of saying "player" I type the child's name.) And I paste it to the inside lid of the game. I think I also print out the name of the game and paste it to the outside of the lid.

And voila!


Tricks of the trade Question

I have a sick baby and am in need of advice. She's not sick enough to need to see a doctor but sick enough to be able to tell she's miserable. She's got a runny nose and cough and pretty grumpy. My Dr husband down plays everything but I feel bad for her. Any suggestions.....


Best Pumpkin Pie ever!

Hi Girls! I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with good food and good company! I will have my family up from NC and hopefully there will be a new baby to show off soon as well. We were actually at the hospital yesterday, I called it a dry run (aka. false alarm)! I guess it happens to the best of us. Anyway... I love pie! I love to bake all kinds of pies! I have always liked pumpkin pies but they haven't been on favorite list until I found this recipe. My family always stuck to the Libby's can for the pumpkin pie recipe (which is a fine pie). But this one is more creamy and rich. If you like Pumpkin pie, try this recipe and hopefully you will LOVE it too! Also this recipe is glutten free as long as you don't use a crust. My dad has celiac disease so I put some in a small oven proof bowl for him to enjoy with us.

The best pumpkin pie or pudding


1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/8 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Whipped cream (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Dump all the ingredients (except the whipped cream) into a blender and pulse until thoroughly combined.

2. Pour the mixture into buttered individual ramekins or ovenproof soup bowls, or the unbaked pie shell of your choice. (Decorate the top with little leaves cut from pastry, if you like.)

3. Bake for 15 minutes at 425F, then reduce heat to 350F and bake for 45 minutes, or until set. Allow to cool for 1 hour before serving. Top each portion with whipped cream, if desired.


My Grandma Audrey's Texas Sheet Cake

You all MUST make this around Christmas.

2 C flour
2 C sugar
1 C butter
1/4 C cocoa
1 C water
1/2 C buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Mix flour and sugar. Boil butter, cocoa, and water. Let cool slightly. Pour over flour/sugar mixture. Add buttermilk, soda, eggs, and vanilla. Pour in greased 9X13 jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 30-35 min.

1/2 C butter
6 Tbsp milk
3 1/2 C powdered sugar
1/4 C cocoa
1 tsp vanilla

Combine butter, milk, and cocoa. Bring to a boil. Cool. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Mix well. Frost cooled cake.

I love her cake so much I named my daughter after her! :)


this week's (late) tricks o' the trade

so the fact that this week's tricks of the trade post is coming to you late has everything to do with its topic: TIME! now that i have two girls under the age of three, i'm finding myself slipping back into that habit i hate most--being LATE! i was finally getting the swing of it with one kid, and now i'm back at the bottom of the hill again. HELP!

to be more specific, i could especially use ideas for quick transition times--getting out the door, coming home and needing dinner to be ready, and the worst of all--getting to church on time! my husband has meetings before church each week so it's just me with the girls (i know, boo-hoo, TWO whole kids...right!?) well it feels like a lot to me. i just doubled the number of children in the house! :)

ok, experienced ladies: fire away! i anxiously await your pearls of wisdom...


Sloppy Toms

And, here's my oats recipe. This sounds like a really wierd way to use oats, and it is, but it is really yummy. Apparently the oats help to thicken the sauce, plus they are healthy! It is my favorite sloppy joe recipe, besides Manwich! :) I also love that the recipe calls for ground turkey which is much leaner. I've used hamburger if I don't have ground turkey, but you can get ground turkey at a really good price at Costco, and of course, I freeze it. I think I'm the freeze queen.

Anyways, here's the recipe, we really like to put swiss cheese on our buns and toast them (that sounds a bit scandalous) and it is YUM. This is a family fun recipe so, click here for the full recipe. Oh, one more thing, you can freeze this if you make double! :)

Harvest Chowder

Okay, I know this is super late, sorry! Here's my evaporated milk recipe:

Harvest Chowder

1 med. onion diced
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. flour
1 can evaporated milk
1 c. water
1 t. basil
2 cans shoepeg corn (I used frozen super sweet corn from Costco, Shoepeg is really good small, white kernal corn)
4-5 cups grated zuchini (I used 1 zuchini, and added 1 grated carrot too)
1/8 t. pepper
3/4 t. salt
1 can chicken broth
1 TB parsley flakes
2 diced tomatoes (I used one can petite diced tomatoes)

Saute onion, carrot, and zuchini in butter. Add flour and evap. milk to make a white sauce. Let is thicken and bubble, then add water, spices, corn, and chicken broth. Let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Add fresh diced tomatoes just before serving, or if you use canned, I add it when I add the corn.

Enjoy! It is a great time for soups, and this is super yummy, and has lots of veggies. I think it would be good with chicken too.

Homemade Granola

I have made this many times, and my kids just love it. I pick out and eat all the toasted walnuts, they're so good! Store in ziplock baggies.

1/4 c brown sugar
1/3 c oil
2/3 c honey
5 c old fashioned oats
¾ c walnuts
1 c shredded coconut
¾ tsp cinnamon
1 c craisins

1. Combine sugar, oil and honey in medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat till sugar is dissolved.
2. Combine oats, walnuts, coconut and cinnamon in large mixing bowl. Pour sugar syrup over top and mix till all coated.
3. Spray large jelly-roll pan with oil. Spread granola evenly over surface.
4. Bake at 375 degrees F for 12 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and gently stir in craisins. Let cool and then store in plastic baggies.
Makes about 2 ½ quarts

Christmas Giving?

With Christmas coming up rather quickly I have been thinking a lot about gift giving. My kids are always so excited to open their gifts Christmas morning but are not so excited when it comes to buying gifts for others. As a family we always adopt a family at Christmas time and we make sure that they have a nice Christmas. They enjoy doing this when its Mom and Dad's money but not so much when it's their own. So my question is what are some ways that I can help my kids understand that it feels just as good to give as it does to receive. I also would like them to earn some money to purchase the gifts too. Do we draw names within our family or do they buy something for everyone?


Shapes and Colors

Shapes and colors are one of those things that I think kids learn through repetition. They are constantly surrounded by shapes and colors so it's easy to teach about them in a less formal way too. Plus, there are so many great books that are all about shapes and colors. That's what I think really did for my kids. Read read read!!
But I found this fun blog where this woman has put together tons of ideas for how to teach kids things. And I thought her shapes and color pages were full of fun things to do including activities, games and songs! So check it out and maybe get some ideas of fun things to do while we are all trapped inside this winter!

Super Fun Mama: Shapes

Super Fun Mama: Colors


Cold, Hard Cash

We were visiting with friends a couple weeks ago, and their five year old was excited to show us what she bought with her allowance. They start giving their kids allowance at age five, with no strings attached (ie: they don't have to actually do their chores to get it--everyone gets paid regardless...kind of like the lazy guy at the office who still gets paid...but I digress). So, what do you do/plan to do about allowances? What's the going rate nowadays? (I'm guessing the quarter a week that I got might not cut it anymore. In retrospect, that was pretty cheap even when I was little, but I was still extremely excited to get real money!) Do they have to meet certain expectations to get paid? How often will they get their allowance?

We don't really know what we'll do. I'm thinking we'll wait to start giving allowances until they ask for it, thus buying myself as much time as possible. We definitely want to teach the tithing/saving/spending breakdown from the beginning. And I think it should be contingent on fulfilling some sort of obligation, be it chores or lessons completed. And we'd probably pay them when Brian gets paid, so we can all fill out tithing slips and talk about money we want to save together. However, since this is all theoretical, I'd love your input!

10.27.2008 easy as 1,2,3

My daughter has always loved songs, reading and games (like every other toddler, right?) so here are a few examples of what we do to reinforce numbers.
  1. Ten In A Bed Action poem (you can find other great ideas here...
    There were ten in a bed and the little one said, "Roll over, roll over." (do arms rolling motion)
    So they all rolled over and one fell out.
    There were nine in the bed and the little one said, "Roll over, roll over." So they all rolled over and one fell out....
    (This is repeated until you get to the number one. Each time "roll over" is said, rolling motion is dramatized.)
    There was one in the bed and the little one said, "Good night!"
  2. 5 little monkeys book or 10 Little Ladybugs
  3. When she was first learning to count, we'd count everything...stairs we were going down, number of pretzels she was eating, etc.
  4. Spaghetti play (or string, or pipe cleaners) that she is learning how to read numbers we practice making them with these things. I've also practiced with her by writing them on her magna doodle.
  5. Playing Hide and Seek...she loves this game and I realized it helped her a ton as she learned to count to 20 and beyond.


Cooking with Kids

My two year old loves to dump and scoop EVERYTHING.  So, he really likes to help me in the kitchen.  Mostly we make cookies because that involves a lot of measuring and dumping (another good way to learn to count!).  What I'm wondering is what else do you cook with your kids?   What do they like to cook themselves and what are fun foods kids might enjoy cooking?  I get worried if he wants to help with something over the stove, so sometimes I don't know how to let him help, but he always wants to be right where I am.  I really want him to learn to enjoy to cook and see what a fun and rewarding experience it can be.  


Sesame Street

I hope I don't regret saying this but my oldest son used to watch Sesame Street a lot and I'm convinced he mostly learned how to count from that. Not to say my husband and I didn't play a big part (we also had number magnets, flashcards and counting games) but he's always been very fascinated by numbers and I think that fascination started from all the counting and number songs/rhymes they do on Sesame Street! So, I'm definitely not promoting the replacement of moms with TV but if you ever need a break or have to get something done and you're going to let your child watch a TV show anyway (admit it, we all do it!) I think Sesame Street is at least a good show kids can watch and actually learn something from.


Counting fun

Our girls learned to count pretty early because they LOVE temporary tatoos. Since you have to hold the wet washcloth on the tatoo for 30 seconds, we would start by counting to 10 three times, and then just go straight through to 30 once they got ten down.

Also, before we go anywhere, they both have to sit on the toilet and count to thirty, even if they say they don't have to go. Also, if one person has to use the restroom when we're out, everyone has to go and count to thirty. They get counting practice, and I have fewer pit stops! :)

Marie-Therese Gown GIVEAWAY !!!!!!!

Look at this gorgeous costume!
Marie-Therese Gown GIVEAWAY !!!!!!!


Chicken and Wild Rice Salad with Strawberries

Okay, when you look at this recipe, you are going to think it sounds really gross. I thought that too. Then I tried it and I LOVE it. I ate this at a RS training meeting and everyone loved it so much they had to send out the recipe. They served it with a croissant, and it was delicious. It is a great summer salad or baby/wedding shower salad. I hope you enjoy it!

Chicken Strawberry
Wild Rice Salad

This serves about 6-8 people

2 cups cooked diced chicken
1 cup halved strawberries
¾ cup cooked wild rice
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup blanched (not cooked) broccoli (small) flowerets
½ cup chopped green onions
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup crumbled bacon
1 tablespoon white onion, very thinly sliced (I don't add this, there are onions in the dressing and I'm not a huge onion fan, so this is a little overwhelming to me)

Using a blender, blend the following together:
1 bunch of chopped green onions
½ cup sugar
¾ cup canola or vegetable oil
(do not use olive oil, it is too strong a flavor)
1 tablespoon prepared honey mustard
¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon orange zest (sometimes i don't have this so I just leave it out)
1 tablespoon lime juice

Once blended, add in:
1 heaping tablespoon poppy seeds
Pour prepared dressing over top just before serving. Pour to
moisten, do not drench.


Hopscotch Counting

I'm excited about this new section because I definitely need help in the teaching department - great idea! The key to counting for us has been just trying to add it into everyday activities (how many grapes do you have?, etc.). But, one fun way for our daughter has been playing hopscotch. As she jumped we would count the numbers and it really started to teach her the number symbols as well. I don't know if our little boy will enjoy it as much, but it was definitely a hit for the girls!


Teaching MOMents

I noticed from our poll last week that many of us worry about teaching our children. This is something that I am constantly thinking about. A lot of what we teach our children is done through our example or the examples of others but some of it comes when we take the time to plan, prepare and sit down with our children and teach them temporal and spiritual knowledge.

One of our main objectives with Mommy Diaries is to work together to make us better moms. So we are starting a new section devoted to "Teaching MOMents" where we can share ways that we teach our children...primarily children 0-5 years old. We will be having a weekly theme (much like the weekly ingredient) and we hope you'll share insights on how you teach your children and what works (or doesn't work!) for you.

Happy teaching!

Early onset winter blues

I don't know about you, ladies, but I LOATHE the cold! I detest it. I despise it. It makes me want to cry and scream and throw things. So, instead of facing it at all, when winter comes I just stay inside. Now this would be a dream if it were just me and my cocoa and a great book...but like the rest of you, I have children that demand that I interact with them somehow. So, my question is: What are your tried and true indoor activities? What things do your kids seem to be interested in day in and day out that doesn't involve bundling (a word that makes me cringe)? Please, help me, before the snow comes to cover my last hope of a life outside my shrinking apartment!


French Onion Soup

I have never ordered French Onion soup at a restaurant, it just sounded like it would be weird. But Rob really likes it so I made it one day. It was a huge hit! We both loved it. So, here you go!

6 c thinly sliced onions (I know this is alot, but they are cooked and get so soft that you don't have to chew them or anything, they're so yummy!)

1 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
1/3 c vegetable oil
6 c beef broth
8 slices French bread (3/4 in thick), toasted
1/2 c shredded Parmesan or Swiss cheese

In a big sauce pan cook the onions, sugar and pepper in oil over med-low heat for 20 minutes or until the onions are carmelized, stirring frequently.

Add the broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Ladle the soup in ovenproof bowls. Top each with a slice of French bread; sprinkle with cheese. Broil 4-6 inches from heat until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

*I don't have ovenproof bowls for soup, so I just took the slices of bread, put them on a cookie sheet and put cheese on them. Then broiled them for 2-3 minutes and then put that on the soup when they were done, it was delicious!!


Tortellini Soup

I can't wait to try Chalece's broccoli soup, I love broccoli soup.  I found this on a website called Domestication in Progress.  I think Laura referred us there one time.  I made it all winter and it is definitely one of our favorites!!!  I really love it and it changes every time depending on what kind of veggies you put in.  Hope you enjoy!

The Ingredients

1 1/2 pkg tortellini (you can find this in the "deli meats and cheeses" section of the grocery store)
- they come in packages of about 10 oz. I usually buy two and use a package and a half. The leftover tortellini is also great with a little pasta sauce for lunch the next day. Or you can freeze it.
24 oz. chicken broth
4 garlic cloves - minced
14 oz. can of stewed tomatoes
1/2 lb. ground sausage (I like to buy the Jimmy Dean roll type things.... you know what I am talking about?  It is usually buy the bacon, other sausage, and hot dogs - basically all the healthy stuff! Haha
- you can use the whole pound if you want to but I find it overwhelms the soup. basically, it becomes "sausage soup" with tortellini - stick with the 1/2 lb.
1 tsp. basil
1 pkg chopped spinach 
(in the freezer section, but thaw and drain before adding it to the soup - I only add half the package)
1/2 c Parmesan cheese
1 can tomato sauce (optional - but I always add it)

* I also think adding some white beans, zucchini, or chickpeas would make this soup even better... I just haven't tried it yet.


Cream of Broccoli Soup

One of the greatest things about colder weather is having a nice bowl of hot soup. Yummy. I really love to make this super easy soup and then put it in bread bowls. It is AMAZING!

1 c chopped broccoli (fresh or frozen)
1 c water
1 tsp chicken base
3 TBSP margarine
1/4 c chopped onion
3 TBSP flour
1 c milk
1 c heavy whipping cream

Combine water and chicken base in saucepan. Add broccoli. Cover and cook over medium heat until tender (about 5 min). Meanwhile, melt butter in a frying pan. Add onions and cook over medium heat until the onions are soft. Add flour and stir well. Cook over low heat about 3 minutes until the roux is well formed and light tan. (just in case some don't know, this is going to help make your soup a little thicker)

Remove from heat and add milk and cream, stirring constantly. Return to heat and cook until think, stirring well. Add the milk mixture to the cooked broccoli-broth mixture and heat through.

Makes: 4 cups

Really, this is so yummy when you put it in a bread bowl! Enjoy!!

Also... I made an awesome discovery. When Kara put on the yummy Cafe Rio recipes I got really excited. I noticed that she didn't have the pork recipe, which is my favorite. So I went a-looking. I came across this great blog. This woman has some great recipes on her blog! You should really check it out. And I made the Pork salad yesterday. It was pretty involved, but the end result was to die for! I haven't been to Cafe Rio in a long, long time so this was such an exciting thing for me. I've had it for every meal since then. It made tons! Rob loved it too! (of course, Rob loves everything)

Oh, and p.s. the tomatillo dressing Kara put on here, amazing. I even poured it on my pasta noodles we ate tonight, it was so good!!

Vegetable Soup with Vermicelli (Martha style)

I found this on Martha's website and I think that it is the same one my mom made last December...I pretty much ate the whole potful of soup by myself. It's that good. Call me crazy but I like that there is no meat in it (I'm not counting the chicken broth.) Sometimes I feel like every meal we have has meat in it and it is refreshing to have a veggie meal with a side of bread.

(Serves 10...unless I'm invited and then...well, it serves 1.)
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large red peppers, cut into 1-by-1/4-inch strips
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 cups diced potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
8 cups rich chicken broth
2 pounds green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into quarters and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 pound vermicelli
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped parsley

In a heavy 6-quart casserole, saute the onions in the oil until soft. Add the garlic, red peppers, and carrots. Cook 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and stock and simmer until potatoes are almost tender.
Add the green beans and zucchini and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the vermicelli and continue cooking until the vermicelli is al dente. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with parsley. Serve piping hot.


Twilight Quiz

In honor of Cassi and all the other huge Twilight fans out there my cousin sent me this quiz and I thought it was really fun in preparation for the movie coming out soon. So, who are you?

I'm a Esme! I found out through Which Twilight Female Are You? Take the quiz and find out!
Take the Quiz and Share Your Results!


Cute Kids' Costumes

It's that time again, Halloween season. Time to start thinking about costumes. In my experience, it's best to get an early start so there's still a good selection. But costumes can be really expensive, and the more kids you have, the worse it gets. So my question for the week is, where do you get your kids' costumes? Do you make them or buy them? What are some cute, homemade ideas?

For me, I like to scan stores like Savers and Goodwill. Early in the month you can find bargains like this Dalmatian costume I found for $6. I also like to make costumes and accessorize. My son wanted to be Harry Potter, so I got him a $2 broom(Savers), glasses, and made a cape out of a larger vampire cape I cut down to size.

Most girls love to be a princess, so I made this Cinderella dress for my daughter. I don't recommend it, because it was too hard to do on a deadline(I kind of waited till the week before).

But I heard Party City is having a sale on Disney Princess costumes this week for $12.99 each. I think I'll just go that route this year!

What will you be doing?


My Sister's Sandwiches

I don't know the real name of the sandwhich, I just have it in my recipe box with my sister's name on it. Either way, it is delicious!! We LOVE these! These are great for get togethers too!

1 can chopped olives
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. cumin

mix those three together

1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. mayo
1/3 c. sour cream
1/3 c. green onions (we leave these out)

mix all the above plus the other mixture

Slice french bread into about 8 slices. Spread 1/2 the mix on all the slices, then layer with deli sliced turkey, a slice of tomato, then spread on the other half of the mix. Then layer with slices of avocado or guacamole dip, then a slice of monterey jack cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until they look nice and bubbly. Sometimes I put them under the broiler for a couple minutes at the end. They are messy, but good!!!

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

This easy chicken salad makes the classic bridal/baby shower sandwich. Just serve on cresent rolls(like from Sam's/Costco). Tasty and saves so much money when you don't have to buy it pre-made.

4 cups cubed, cooked chicken meat (buy a fresh rotisserie chicken)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup chopped celery
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup minced green bell pepper (I leave this out, but you don't have to)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
ground black pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, mix together mayonnaise with paprika and seasoned salt. Blend in dried cranberries, celery, bell pepper, onion, and nuts. Add chopped chicken, and mix well. Season with black pepper to taste. Chill 1 hour. Serve on cresents.


Scorpion Chili (don't let the name deceive you)

This is one of my favorite things to make...mostly because when we eat it we fill a bowl with a few spoonfuls of cooked white rice, add the chili, and top it with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and green onions. I used to have the tradition of making this for the first snowfall of the year (which should be just around the corner for you Minnesotans) but unfortunately Jax hasn't seen snow in, well, forever. I'll probably make it on 1st day of December or something this year. :(

Talk about SPICE! That's one thing I love about this recipe...plop your stock pot on the stove top and just add everything.

1 1/2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
3/4 c. chopped onion
3/4 c. chopped green pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 1/4 lb. cubed beef (bite size--I use stew beef)
1 1/4 lb. ground beef
3/4 Tbsp. salt
3 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder or to taste
2 1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp. finely chopped jalapeno peppers (I actually leave this out most times because I don't have it on hand)
2 (28 oz.) cans plum tomatoes (I actually prefer to use 4 (14.5 oz.) cans of diced tomatoes)
8 oz. tomato puree
3 oz. tomato paste
1 qt. beef stock
2 1/2 lb. cooked pinto beans, drained

Saute onion and bell pepper in oil until onion just wilts. Add garlic and continue to cook 3 minutes. Add meat; cook until it loses its red color. Add all remaining ingredients, EXCEPT beans. Simmer over low heat 2 to 3 hours (this is's the only way to get the whole neighborhood to smell like chili! oh, and it does a wonder of good for the spices.) Add drained beans and cook 1/2 hour more.

General Conference Activities

We had a question suggested to us for this week's tricks of the trade post. It comes from our reader/commenter Janalee!! Thanks Janalee for the questions!! When are you going to join us so you can ask them yourself?? :) We definitely appreciate all your input!!
Here is her question regarding General Conference:
"I grew up with conference bingo and quiet craft activities to keep us quiet while we watched conference on TV, but I have no idea how my parents kept me and my older brother quiet when we were toddlers. So what are all you moms planning to do with your kids while you watch/listen to conference this week?"

Pumpkin Muffins

Well, I am not sure what my favorite spice is, but these muffins are my favorite muffins...and they have a few spices. I ALWAYS double the recipe because we eat them so fast. Now, I have made the "drizzle" for them and it is great, but I usually only do that now if I am giving them away. I like them as a snack (for me or my kids) without the extra sugar. Plus, isn't this a great way to kick of Fall!? It almost makes me forget what comes after Fall...for like 3.7 seconds.


  • 1 (15 ounce) can 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Orange Drizzle:
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 4 teaspoons orange juice


  1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 36 mini-muffin cups with vegetable cooking spray.
  2. Bring pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon and cloves to a simmer in a medium saucepan until puree thickens enough to start sticking to pan bottom, 6 to 8 minutes. Turn hot puree into a bowl. Whisk in brown sugar and oil, then slowly beat in eggs.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; whisk into pumpkin mixture until just combined.
  4. Divide batter among the muffin cups and bake until golden and cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Let stand a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Mix the drizzle ingredients together and drizzle over warm muffins.
Whenever the 29 oz cans of pumpkin go on sale (like last week at Target or usually during the holidays) I stock WAY up.


Poppy Seed Cake

This cake is a family favorite! My mom found this recipe and we had it all the time growing up. It is super simple and it doesn't need frosting (I am not a big frosting fan). It comes out kind of like a spice cake so I thought of this recipe with the weekly ingredient being a favorite spice! Enjoy.

1 Yellow cake mix
1 small box Instant French Vanilla Pudding
4 eggs
1 Cup water
1/2 Cup oil
1/3 Cup sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons poppy seeds

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
Mix cake mix, pudding, eggs, water, oil, sugar, and cinnamon with a mixer for two minutes. Add poppy seeds and hand mix them in. Pour into prepared bundt pan.
Cook for 45-55 min.
Let cool and turn it out of the pan. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar.
It tastes really good served with fresh berries, whipped cream or ice cream.


Big-Batch Vegetable Soup

Here's my recipe for this week. I found this about 4 years ago on Martha Stewart and it really has been a favorite because it is so basic and you can change it up, so it tastes different each time. The best part about it is that it makes quite a bit, so I put it in small containers and..... yep, you guessed it! I freeze them, so we get like 4 meals out of only one pot of soup. I like to add noodles to it too!

2 T. olive oil
2 c. chopped onions (I just sprinkle a little dehydrated onion in there)
1 c. thinly sliced celery
2 t. italian seasoning
3 cans (14.5 ounces) chicken or vegetable broth, low sodium
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1 T. tomato paste
8 c. mixed fresh or frozen veggies, such as: carrots, corn, green beans, peas, potatoes, or zuchini. (Our favorite are just the basics, carrots, potatoes, and we grate some zuchini in there too - but if I do potatoes, I don't do noodles, it is one or the other. We also like to add meat, usually ground beef or ground sausage - cooked before we add them of course)

1. Heat oil in a large stockpot, add onions, celery, and italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until onions are translucent, 5-8 minutes.

2. Add broth, tomatoes and their juice, tomato paste, and 3 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 20 minutes.

3. Add veggies, and return to simmer. Cook uncovered until veggies are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool before storing. Enjoy! It makes your house smell really good too, and with breadsticks for dipping, it is a wonderful fall dinner!


The 2 Kid Transition

Announcing a new baby in our midst! Our mommy Molly Archibald gave birth this last week to a beautiful and very healthy baby girl. Her name is Georgia Carrie Archibald! Everything went really smooth from what I hear.

This brings me to my tricks of the trade question this week. As Molly is transitioning from one kid to 2 and I will be doing the same in about 10 weeks; we are welcoming tips and tricks that helped you in this transition. So let us know how did you take a shower? How did you go shopping? How did you clean your house? And especially how have you been able to give your older child enough attention as well as keep them from harming the baby? Or any other tricks that helped you keep your sanity! Another question... I am interested in buying a sling this time around and am wondering if any of you tried slings and have any recommendations. We have a baby bjorn carrier already, I might just stick with that. But those slings look so comfy and easy for nursing!


Blueberry Muffins

I know a lot of you read the Pioneer Woman's cooking site but I thought I'd put this up here for those that don't or those that may have missed this one. I think these look SO good! I can't wait to try them out!

The Awesome-est Blueberry Muffins

3 cups minus
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
Heavy pinch of salt
Dash of Nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 generous cup plain, unflavored yogurt (throw in extra if you want)
2 cups fresh blueberries
Vanilla Extract
Softened Butter, for muffin tins
Turbinado sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 385 degrees.
In a large bowl sift flour, baking soda, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In another large bowl whisk together sugar, oil, cap-full of vanilla, egg, and yogurt. Add the dry ingredients and stir to a count of 10. Add blueberries, reserving 1/2 cup, to mixture and stir 3 times. Add mixture to well-buttered muffin pans. Sprinkle remaining berries on top and press down lightly. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over top. (Brown sugar can be used instead.)
Bake 20 to 25 minutes and allow to cool completely.

Yogurt-Blueberry Sauce:
In small saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together 1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries (if using fresh, add 2 tsp water) and 1 tsp sugar. Cook until berries pop and liquid begins to thicken. Dump in heaping 1/4 cup plain yogurt and stir to combine. Drizzle on muffins.

To see the detailed instructions the the pictures click here: Awesome-est Blueberry Muffins


Raspberry Jello

Okay, ever since Chalece posted her recipe for Orange Jello Salad, I've been wanting to try it! Especially because I have this recipe that is so similar and we LOVE it. Will eats this by the bowl full! Oh, and it is SO easy.

3 oz. cook and serve tapioca pudding

3 oz. cook and serve vanilla pudding

3 oz. raspberry jello

Boil 3 1/2 cups of water. Add tapioca, vanilla pudding and jello. Stir until boiling. Stir and cool 4 minutes. Refridgerate overnight to set up.

The next day:

Add 8 oz. cool whip and 1 pkg. frozen raspberries.

It is super delicious!

Twirly Skirts

I don't know if any of you sew, but this is the new CRAZE in my ward! I definitely don't sew, but some friends helped me make a couple and it was EASY!!! I got 1 yard of the main fabric and 1/2 yard of the accent fabric. That was enogh to make 2 skirts so I had fabric left over to trade with the women I was making them with. I wound up with 6 different skirts for not much $. I decided to make just a couple that would fit Ella now and make most of them bigger. They really are so cute when the kid can walk is able to twirl.

I will be posting a picture on my blog of Ella wearing one hers as soon as I get a chance! =)


Peanut Butter Treats

I know the theme is berries this week, but last week was kids party snacks, and I'm running I'm still going with that theme for this post.

I made these last night and am now addicted. I even woke up in the middle of the night craving them and polished them off at about 3am.

Peanut Butter Candies

1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter and powdered sugar until blended. Beat in cracker crumbs. Shape into 1-1/2-in. balls. Place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. In a microwave, melt chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Carefully spoon a small amount of chocolate mixture over each candy. Freeze for at least 15 minutes.

Yield: about 1 dozen.
Nutrition Facts
• One serving: (1 each)
• Calories: 110
• Fat: 7 g
• Saturated Fat: 3 g
• Cholesterol: 8 mg
• Sodium: 69 mg
• Carbohydrate: 11 g
• Fiber: 1 g
• Protein: 2 g


Keeping the Spirit Alive

Lately I have been feeling like I'm not doing enough to bring the spirit into my life and into my home. I would like to know what you do that helps you to help keep the spirit in your homes. Also, do you have any tips on how to be a better scripture reader? I know we can all be better with that, surely. But how do you keep yourself going? I feel like I've read 1 Nephi a million times but the rest doesn't get done because, well, life happens. I would like to have it as more of a priority, for sure. But some simple tips would be great!

I'd just like to say that I feel so priveleged to be part of this blog. You are all such wonderful women and I am grateful to you all for your wonderful examples!


Choco Peanut Butter Cake

This is a super yummy, tiny cake. Its from a cook book called Lil Gourmet, and all the recipes make really small cute cakes. Which is actually the perfect size for my kids because we eat the whole cake instead of wasting half.

1 cup flour
3/4 cup+2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups peanut butter and milk chocolate chips divided (reserve 3/4 cup for frosting)

3/4 cup chips
6 ounces cream cheese
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour cake pans. (two round tiny pans)
Mix cake ingredients in bosch.
Pour batter into cake pans and sprinkle with chips save some for second batch
Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes

melt peanut butter/milk chocolate chips and add to rest of frosting ingredients, stack cakes and frost.

Makes 2 two-layer cakes



This stuff if very addicting! That's probably why it's called Sin. It's SO good though! A lot of you may have tasted it, I've seen it a few times at church parties. This recipe obviously makes a TON so if you just want to make it for your family you might want to 1/4 everything!


1 large box Golden Graham cereal
1 large box Crispix cereal
1 large pkg coconut
1 lb. silvered almonds
3 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups light Karo syrup

Mix cereals, coconut and almonds in large bowl. Set aside. Melt butter in a pot, add sugar and Karo syrup and bring to a boil. Let boil for 4-5 min. Pour over cereal and mix well. Pour on cookie sheets to let cool. Try not to eat the whole bowl by yourself! :)


BYU Mint Brownies

While attending BYU I fell in love with these mint brownies! I found their recipe on-line yesterday and am making them right now! I hope they turn out like I remember. Thought I would pass this on as some of you might have also fallen in love with these! Don't know if they would be a good kids party item but the mom's will definitely enjoy them.

BYU Mint Brownies

Makes one 9 x 13 pan

1 C. margarine
1/2 C. cocoa
2 Tbsp. honey
4 eggs
2 C. sugar
1 3/4 C. flour
1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. chopped walnuts
12 oz. chocolate icing (use your own recipe or purchase some chocolate frosting)

Mint Icing
5 Tbsp. margarine
dash of salt
3 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
2 1/3 C. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. mint extract
1-2 drops green food coloring

1. Melt margarine and mix in cocoa. Allow to cool. Add honey, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add nuts. Pour batter into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 min. Cool.

2. Prepare mint icing: Soften margarine. Add salt, corn syrup, and powdered sugar. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Add mint extract and food coloring. Mix. Add milk gradually until the consistency is a little thinner than cake frosting.

3. Spread mint icing over brownies. Place brownies in the freezer for a short time to stiffen the icing. Remove from the freezer and carefully add a layer of chocolate frosting.


Frog Eye Salad

This big salad is perfect for parties where you are serving a meal. Kids love it and it is easy to make ahead. It makes a ton, 25 servings!

1 16-ounce box Acini De Pepe pasta (little pasta balls)
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 ¾ cup pineapple juice
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, well beaten
½ tsp salt

1. Cook pasta in boiling water till done.
2. Drain and set aside.
3. Mix together juice (use the juice drained from the two cans of pineapple being used, add water if needed), sugar, cornstarch, eggs, and salt in a medium saucepan.
4. Cook until thick over medium heat.
5. Cool slightly, then pour over pasta in a large serving bowl. Stir together and then cover and chill overnight(or hours later when cooled completely).
6. The next day, add:

1 16 oz can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 qt. Cool Whip
1 16 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
1 pkg mini marshmallows
2 small cans mandarin oranges, drained

7. Stir together gently and serve cold.

Makes a very large bowl to serve about 25 people

Party Ideas

We have 3 kids with birthday's on Aug 10-11, so we do big parties. To make them all feel special, I did three separate themes that they chose. Each got their own decorated table and cake. They really loved feeling special. We also sang to them separately.

Pinatas are always a hit!


Party Time

2 of my kids have birthdays coming up. In the past I've only thrown one big party for my son when he turned 3. Now he's turning 5 and my daughter is turning 3. I want to have a party for both of them since it's our last year here but I'm a little overwhelmed. It's already getting cold so I need to find somewhere indoors to have the party. Then there's trying to decide how many kids to invite and what games to play, party favors, cakes, the list goes on and on!
I've obviously been thinking a lot about this lately so I thought my question this week would be about parties. First, what are your thoughts on kids parties? How often should you throw a party for your child... every year, every other year, just on big birthdays? How many kids should be invited? All the kids they see at church or just close friends? What about when they get into school and start making friends there? It's so hard not to leave someone out without making the party too big! And if you have a small place where can you have a party without spending a ton of money to do it somewhere special? I know you can do it places like Chuck E. Cheese, but I wanted to have our own themed party not just a pizza party. So what are your party ideas and if you've had parties before what's worked for you?


EASY Burritos

This is the BEST 5 min meal you'll ever make! :) My sister got this recipe and passed it along to me! She doesn't like to cook and I'm always looking for fast and easy meals so this made us both happy! And you would NEVER know you're eating microwavable burritos! We even made it for our family reunion last week and everyone was asking for the recipe because it's so good. It was a little embarrassing to admit how easy it was though! :)

EASY Burritos:
Frozen burritos or chimichangas
2-3 cans El Pato Sauce (this is a "hot tomato sauce" usually in the isle with canned green chilies and salsa)
Grated Cheese

Use as many burritos as you want, we used the Jose Ole steak and cheese burritos and the bean and beef chimichangas, both were good, but anything works. Lay them out in a baking dish, pour the El Pato sauce over to cover them. This is spicy so leave it off for the kids portion! Then cover with grated cheese. Bake on 350 for about 20 min.
We took them out of the freezer and had them mostly defrosted before we put them in the oven. So it might take a little longer if you cook them frozen. Just cook until they are warmed through and the cheese is melted! Enjoy!!


Apricot Jalapeño Glazed Chicken

I tried a new yummy and healthy recipe the other day that I thought I would pass on. It isn't spicy even though it has a jalapeño in it, I guess if you wanted it to be spicy you could add more. It is kind of like a sweet and sour chicken, try it out! I am all over one skillet meals that are easy to make.

Apricot Jalapeño Glazed Chicken

4-6 Chicken breasts, cut into chunks (I used 4 big Sam's club breasts and it was perfect)

1 (10.75 oz) can Chicken broth

3/4 cup Apricot preserves1 Jalapeno, remove stem and seeds and chop (my jalapeño was kind of small I might add more next time)

1 Tablespoon Soy sauce

1 Tablespoon Cornstarch

1 Tablespoon Water

Chopped pecans for topping (optional) I might toast mine next time.

1. Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Brown chicken in heated skillet.

2. Add chicken broth, jam, soy sauce, and jalapeño. Simmer for 20 minutes or until chicken is done.

3. Remove chicken from skillet. Add mixture of cornstarch and water to thicken the sauce(I doubled this to make my sauce thicker). Return chicken to skillet and turn to coat thoroughly with sauce.

4. Serve over rice, top with pecans.

We made this with a side of peas and a garden salad, what a yummy well rounded meal it made!


Baby Food?

Wow, I am a bad blogger, but things have been REALLY crazy around my house and here is one reason why:
My 9 month baby girl decided 2 weeks ago today that she was done nursing. She decided one evening that she wanted juice from a sippy cup- and while I pumped for a few days, she will not nurse and now, since she will eat formula and with 4 teeth coming in- I am DONE!. Before stopping she wouldn't take a sippy, now she will (so I guess it is a good thing). But now, she wants to eat big people food. I have been buying baby food but it is EXPENSIVE! So, I have 2 questions for you: 1. If you make your own baby food, what do you do? Besides just mashing bannanas or peaches?
AND 2. My baby only wants to eat sweet food, mostly fruits so how do I get her to eat her veggies? Any help would be most appreciated!


Orange Glazed Carrots

It has been a few months for me!!! Wow, I've been a little pre-occupied, I guess.
I made these last night, though, and my 19th-month-old loved them! It was so easy, too. I got it from a great cookbook I would recommend to all mommies out there. "Food for Tots" by Dr. Janice Woolley, M.D. and Jennifer Pugmire, Mom. My aunt is the illustrator! (Marilyn Taggart).

"Orange Glazed Carrots"
These lightly sweetened carrots are a good source of vitamin A.

4 cups frozen, sliced carrots or about 5-6 fresh carrots, peeled and sliced. (I used almost a full bag of mini carrots)
2 Tbls. brown sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbls. orange juice
2 Tbls. butter or marg.

1. Cook carrots by steaming, simmering, or microwaving.
2. Stir together brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
3. Mix orange juice into sugar mixture.
4. Add butter to sugar mixture.
5. Cook sauce on stovetop over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves, or microwaving for 1-2 min.
6. Pour sauce over carrots and reheat on stovetop or in microwave.

Yield: 4 cups


Disney Princess

So, I know that there are lots of quizzes out there, but I thought that this one was kind of fun. Here's my results and I'd be interested to see what everyone else is in the princess world. Now, if only I actually looked as beautiful as my princess...

You Are Pocahantas!
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Free-spirited and wise. You have a strong passionate spirit that touches and changes all who know you. The wisdom and common sense that you have is really what guides you through life. Even so, you also have a very playful side that loves adventure and excitement.

Which Disney Princess Are You?


Teaching Honesty

This week's question comes from one of our readers, Janalee. Thanks Janalee for the suggestion and all the great comments you leave here! Here is her question:

My daughter just turned 4 and a friend mentioned that 4 is the lying age. In fact she has been lying to me for the last few months. She fibs where the truth is obvious and she sticks to her story even after timeout or privileges are taken away. So my question is how do you teach honesty and deal with this lying problem?


Grandma's Orange Salad

I don't know if this is the right name for it, but my grandma used to always make this wonderful orange salad at every family function, so that's what we call it! Anyway, this is super yummy. And it's easy to make as a side dish for any dinner!

Orange Salad

2 small cans mandarin oranges
1 lg can crushed pineapple
4 pkg tapioca pudding
2 small pkg orange jello
1 container cool whip

Drain out the 3 cans of fruit into a measuring cup (put the rest of the fruit in the fridge). You'll want to get as much juice out as possible. Get enough of the juice, and cold water to be 4 cups. Put it into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Add 2 more cups cold water. Then add in the tapioca pudding and orange jello. Let boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly so it doesn't stick.

Pour the mixture into a med/large sized bowl and place in the refrigerator. Let it stay there long enough to set up (at least 2 hours). Once it's set up take it out of the fridge. Add in the oranges and pineapple, and then the cool whip. Mix it all together. You can either refrigerate it, or serve it right away.



Black Bean Tortilla Casserole

I know the "ingredient" is Oriental, but I just have to share this. It has been way too long since I last posted, sorry! I will try to be better.

Anyway, I just made this a couple nights ago for the first time, and let me tell you... if you like Mexican food, you're going to LOVE this!!! It's super easy, and it is SO yummy!

2 large onions, chopped
1-1/2 c chopped green peppers
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 c picante sauce (I wasn't sure if it was just a fancy way to ask for salsa, but that's what I used)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ground cumin (I didn't have this so I used curry powder and it was fine)
2 cans (15 oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained
8 corn tortillas
2 c (8 oz) shredded Mexican cheese blend (reg. cheddar cheese would work fine as well)

1-1/2 c shredded lettuce
1 c chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 c thinly sliced green onions
1/2 c sliced ripe olives
sour cream

1. in large saucepan, combine the onions, peppers, tomatoes, picante sauce, garlic and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in the beans.

2. Spread 1/3 of the mixture in a 13 x 9 baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Layer with 4 tortillas and 2/3 cup cheese. Repeat layers; top with remaining bean mixture.

3. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Let stand for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with toppings.

Yield: 9 servings

This is just so yummy, and it's super healthy too, except for the cheese, I guess. But come on!

Just a note... My brother has celiac disease, which means he has to have a gluten free diet, otherwise he gets pretty sick. This meal works great because of the corn tortillas!! If any of you know of any other recipes (good ones... some of what he has to eat is not exactly tasty) let me know!! Thanks!



My name is Nikki. My husband just started residency and I stay home with our daughter, Ella. I am looking forward to all the advice and ideas as well as a chance to keep in touch with some wonderful women.


Oriental Chicken Salad

This is a really tasty and filling salad. I leave out the onions and oranges, but that's just us. I love the red wine vinegar dressing. Tangy and sweet. Everything can be made during naptime, too!

1 large pkg. Coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
1 head romaine lettuce
3 green onions, chopped
2 pkg. Ramen noodles, broken into small pieces
1 pkg. Slivered almonds
1 small can mandarin oranges, drained
½ - 1 pound boneless chicken breasts
½ cup plus 2 Tbsps vegetable or olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
4 Tbsp soy sauce
¼ cup sugar
garlic powder
3 Tbsp butter or margarine

1. Cut chicken up into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large plastic bag with 2 Tbsp oil, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, dash garlic powder, and a dash of pepper. Mix in bag and marinate 30-45 minutes in the fridge.
2. Cook chicken over medium heat in a skillet, stirring till cooked through. Remove from pan and place in large bowl.
3. Wipe skillet with a paper towel to remove chicken drippings and add 2 Tbsp butter, a dash of garlic powder and the Ramen noodles. Brown lightly. Then place noodles in the bowl with the chicken.
4. Using the same skillet and the remaining butter, toast the almonds till light brown. Place in bowl also.
5. Make dressing by whisking together ½ cup oil, the red wine vinegar, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, sugar and a dash of pepper.
6. Add chopped romaine to coleslaw mix and add oranges in a large bowl. Top with chicken/noodles/almond mixture and serve with dressing.

Serves 4-6