Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rhubarb Cake

It's about that time of year again: when the rhubarb plant my husband transplanted from his grandma's yard to ours is in full production mode. That means tons and tons of rhubarb! This cake is one good way to use some of it. It has a very tender crumb and is moist and delicious. It's good as is, or topped with a little whipped cream.

Rhubarb Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 cup buttermilk (or soured milk made by putting 2 t. lemon juice in the bottom of the 1 cup measure and adding milk to the top. Allow it to stand for about 5 minutes.)
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 c. sugar
1 egg
2 c. sliced rhubarb, sliced about 1/4 inch thick

1/4 c. sugar
3/4 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 pan with pan spray. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Beat butter and sugar together well, until light and fluffy. This should take about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat well. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix well. Add 1/2 of the buttermilk, then 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the buttermilk, and the last 1/3 of the flour mixture. Mix well between each addition. Fold in the sliced rhubarb. Spread batter evenly in the pan. For topping, mix the sugar and cinnamon together thoroughly. Sprinkle over the batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a pick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool 30 minutes before serving.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Nothing is impossible because of Him

Happy Easter week!

I feel like I have sooo much to be grateful for lately (more on that later), and this is at the top of the list. How blessed we are to have a Savior who knows us and loves us individually! #BecauseofHim, we can start over. Again and again. So much is possible because of Him! I know it's true. Go here for more about what Mormons believe about Easter.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Must try: Sally Hansen Ultra Wear Top Coat


Today I have a review of Sally Hansen's new Comple Salon Manicure Ultra Wear Top Coat (completely my own opinion--no sponsorship of any kind).

Not too long ago, I posted about my experiment with  DIY Gel nails using Gelous. That stuff is okay, but you know what? Sally Hansen's Ultra Wear Top Coat is better. As in, days worth of wear better. I got four days of wear out of the Gelous Advanced Gel Coat before the chipping was just too much.

Now take a look at the pic above. You can see minimal chipping of my nails, and this is seven days of wear. Mind you, I'm cooking, I'm cleaning, and I even put on some work gloves a few days back and pulled some weeds in my garden. I am not easy on my nails, that's for sure. So for approximately $6, you get pretty darn good results!

In the pic above, I'm wearing Pure Ice nail polish in Tickle Me Pink under the Ultra Wear.

Monday, April 7, 2014

What I learned this weekend.

Howdy, friends.

This weekend was LDS General Conference (#LDSConf) and it was awesome. What is General Conference? It is a series of 7 meetings, each two hours long, over a period of two days. It happens every first weekend in April, and every first weekend in October. What is talked about? Jesus Christ and His gospel. How we can follow Him. How we can emulate Him. How we can be better people.

It is edifying, uplifting and positive. And yes, Mormons are Christians.

Today I thought I would share some of my favorite quotes from this weekend's conference. There are lots of great ones out there, just check Pinterest....but these quotes are from my own note-taking, the things that stuck out to me personally.

Christ-like love is the greatest need we have on this planet. ~Jeffrey R. Holland
The best filter is the personal filter of a deep and abiding testimony. ~ Linda S. Reeves
Families are the treasure of heaven. ~Neil L. Andersen
 If blessings were immediate, choosing the right would not build faith. ~Henry B. Eyring
Obedience prepared the Savior to endure to the end on Golgotha. ~Robert D. Hales

There is one thing we can do to make life sweeter, more joyful, and even glorious--be grateful! ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Heavenly Father accomplishes his miracles one prayer at a time, one person at a time. ~ Jean A. Stevens

The Savior has known and felt ALL our individual burdens. 
~David A. Bednar

No sacrifice is too great to receive the blessings of the temple. ~ William R. Walker 

Christ's resurrection from the dead ended the great human predicament. Now there is only personal predicament. 
 ~ D. Todd Christopherson

 Did you listen/watch General Conference? Share your favorite quote in the comments.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

After five days of eating out it's nice to come home and have a home cooked meal, even though the eating out is fun while it lasts. Part of this mom's vacation is a vacation from cooking.

This recipe is a favorite that I always seem to forget about. Don't ask me how that works....I just know that every so often when I'm trying to figure out what to have for dinner, I'll suddenly remember, "CHICKEN BROCCOLI CASSEROLE!" Capitals, exclamation point and all. And every time I remember to make it, everyone loves it. Maybe they love it because I don't cook it too often? Whatever the reason, it's always a hit!

Chicken Broccoli Casserole
serves 4-6

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 10 oz. bag frozen chopped broccoli
1 10 oz. can cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 t. prepared Dijon mustard
2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray an 8x11 baking dish with cooking spray. Put the chopped broccoli in the bottom of the dish. Top with diced chicken. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soup, mayonnaise and Dijon until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Spoon mixture over top of chicken and spread to evenly cover. Cover dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 10 more minutes. Top with remaining cup of shredded cheese and bake five more minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring Break Southern Utah Style

Last week was Spring Break in these parts. We decided to take off and enjoy the beauties of Southern Utah. Everyone in our family just loves being around the red rocks. Something about a red rock landscape is soothing to my soul.

All of the following pics were shot by me in and around Zion National Park. 

There are plants and flowers that manage to thrive in this environment. What a life lesson!

We hiked from the road at the bottom of this pic, up to where I took this shot. It wasn't easy, and coming back down was harder on my knee than going up, but with a vista like this, it was worth it!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Recipe Fail {a baking lesson in moisture vs. structure}

With all the recipes I post on my blog, I wouldn't want anyone to think I never mess contraire. There are plenty of things I make that no one likes, or a few of us like, or they just aren't pretty. Case in point:

This is a Chocolate Chocolate Chip bundt cake I was making for after the first LDS General Women's Meeting this Saturday. I thought I should try it out early, and lemme tell you, it was a good idea. Because this cake definitely did not turn out. It tastes pretty good, but no one is going to want to eat a cake that looks like this!

Sometimes I mess up a recipe, and other times I think the recipe needs tweaking. In this case, the recipe definitely needs a little bit of help so that the cake can support its own weight. Here's what happened and how I plan to fix it.

First off, the cake needed five minutes extra to bake, and then while it cooled it started sinking into itself. When I tried to turn it out of the pan....well, you can see what happened then. This is one of those recipes that has 4 eggs, a lot of oil, pudding mix AND sour cream. The final result was almost soggy it was so moist, and no one wants soggy cake! So my amateurish baking intuition tells me that one, there is too much moisture in this cake and two, not enough structure (flour) to hold it up. The plan for Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bundt cake #2 is to cut out one egg, cut the oil from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup, and add 1/4-1/2 cup of flour, and I think that'll do the trick. I may also cut the sour cream in half, from 8 ounces to 4. If these changes don't work, I'll be going back to the store for more  ingredients for Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bundt cake #3! Wish me luck....

Monday, March 24, 2014

Looks like.....a game of I Spy?

To help me blog, I try to remember to take pics of stuff (food, books I read, stuff I/my kids do) throughout the week. Then when I get ready to write a post I get my phone and check to see what pics I've taken before I decide what to write about. Sometimes I plan ahead.....other times, not so much. Taking and keeping pics helps keep me inspired. 

This morning I opened up my pics to find a couple of funny shots that I had nothing to do with, but they inspired me just the same.

 Love the wild look in her eye. Mia, ever the actress.

Evidently, she's spying on her little sister. I have no idea where I was. If Broadway doesn't pan out, she could probably put these skills to use.

Thanks to Mia for the fun surprise! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Balsamic-glazed Slow Cooker Pork Loin

Need an easy Sunday meal? Or an easy anytime meal? Here's a good option for you--Balsamic-glazed Slow Cooker Pork Loin from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. Yep, Mel did it again.

I slightly adapted Mel's recipe, and it was an overall hit at our house. I say overall, because a couple of the kids didn't care for the glaze, but my hubby loved the glaze and asked for more of it. I liked a little of the glaze, but not too much, and everyone loved the pork itself.

I like to brown roasts/pork loin/etc, before putting them in the slow cooker, and then I deglaze the pan I browned the meat in and pour those yummy juices into the slow cooker.

Balsamic-glazed Slow Cooker Pork Loin
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

2 T. olive oil
 2 pound boneless pork loin, trimmed
1 tsp. ground sage
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper 
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 c. brown sugar
1 T. cornstarch
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. water
2 T. soy sauce

Heat olive oil in a heavy pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the spices over the entire pork loin and then brown on all sides in hot oil. Transfer pork loin to slow cooker. Add chicken broth to hot pan and bring to a boil, scraping the pan to release the spices and browned bits left from browning the pork loin. Pour hot broth into the bottom of the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.

Near the end of the cooking time, combine the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer til it thickens, stirring occasionally. 

Remove the pork loin from the slow cooker. Cover with foil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. After resting, use two forks to shred the meat, and then drizzle with some of the balsamic glaze. Serve additional glaze alongside the meat. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Snapshots: There are no small roles, only small actors. Date night. Garden time. Whatever else I feel like saying.

I love today's title. It totally reflects my state of mind right now. Yep, you guessed it. All over the place! My mind is with Nicole. It's also in Washington with my missionary....which probably explains how my Fitbit ended up like this:

 I washed my Fitbit in the washer. And then to add insult to injury, I dried it in the dryer. The ol' rice trick is in total desperation, but I really like that thing so I'm hoping it works! 

These two cuties are in their school musical, The Wizard of Oz. This is Libby's first musical, Mia's I've-lost-count. Last year, she had the starring role when the school did The Little Mermaid Jr. This year, though she could have ROCKED the part of Dorothy, she has a bit part as an Ozian and an "Optimistic Voice" (translation, high soprano singer). It's all in the name of other kids getting a chance to shine. I'm proud of Mia, because she knows it's true, "There are no small roles, only small actors." She hasn't complained one bit. 

 Got a letter from Elder Sedlacek last week that looked like it went through a tornado to get to us.

Garden time! One night while the rest of us were out, Daddy and Libby planted a bunch of seeds. They are successfully on their way to having a lot of good starts to transplant into the garden in a few weeks. Libby literally takes a little dropper bottle and waters "her" starts every day. :)

Last week's Date Night at Cafe Rio. Somehow I missed getting a shot of my Creamy Tomatillo dressing. I can't go to Cafe Rio and NOT have any of it. And Date Night? Absolutely, positively the best night of the week for me. And so important. Even if you end up at Costco.