Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Triple Chocolate Cookies



"Be still and know that I am God."
Psalm 46:10

I literally need to take this message to the core of my being. And this scripture means to me-

Hie to the kitchen, make these cookies, eat them, share them, and count your blessings!!

Triple Chocolate Cookies
1/2 cup butter flavored Crisco
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup cocoa. (I mix Hershey's Special Dark with regular)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 oz. grated dark chocolate
2+ cups chocolate chips

Cream Crisco, butter and sugars. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and grated chocolate and stir until well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop onto cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes or until done.


Ok. Maybe that's not exactly what the scripture means to me. But it's my interpretation for today :)


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Protein Waffles


J went for a run yesterday. I can’t keep up, but I walked in the same direction. I passed a large park where there were two different young kids’ teams practicing football. I saw parents coaching, watching, and waiting in cars. I used to have that role. And I was reminded of my limitations of that role as a mom.
It was B’s senior season. He had suffered what eventually became a season ending injury the previous week. I recall the next Friday night was rivalry week. There was some hype: the pep band led a parade of the team followed by the mass of students into the stadium. I looked for B. He was easy to spot- only two kids were injured and thus just wearing their jersey with street clothes. He was the one with a high and tight haircut and black sweats. He stood next to the coaches during the warm up sprints, and then was very busy on the sidelines managing the defensive play clip board, and always holding a football with his other hand.
I sat in the stands watching him walk out to take his usual spot next to his quarterback lined up for the Nation Anthem. As my eyes fixated in the lights by the flag, my thoughts turned to an experience I had when I was 5 years old. It was just a few weeks before Kindergarten when my dad told us the empty house next had sold and we would be getting new neighbors. To my sheer delight he told us that they had 2 daughters, one of which was my age. My new neighbor quickly became my best friend. Her dad was the new principal at the high school which was adjacent to the elementary school we would soon attend. As my friend and I readied for Kindergarten our mothers wanted us to have no doubts in the course we were to walk to and from school. They walked it with us many times, making sure we knew the way. Several weeks into Kindergarten, the library was introduced to us. I quickly found a book to borrow and take home. The librarian reminded us to take special care of these books and return them next week in exchange for another. We agreed. The next week, my friend and I met out in front of our homes on the sidewalk. She was so excited to tell me that her dad told her of another way we could go to school. I tucked my book beneath one arm and clasped my hand in my friend’s as we skipped down the sidewalk on our NEW way to school. At one point conflict arose as the sidewalk’s concrete was broken. It was marked off and we could not pass. We noted our options and justified that since no cars were coming and it would be a short walk into the street, it was okay. As I stepped off the curb, I tripped. Immediate fear overtook me. My fall caused me to drop my library book which fell into the water run-off grate beneath the street. I cried. I cried for my disobedience in going the wrong way to school, walking in the street, and failing to take good care of my library book. My friend insisted we should continue on to school and that her dad would take care of everything. I didn't listen. Instead, I broke another rule. I turned around the other direction and ran home as fast as I could sobbing the entire way. Unexpectedly my dad was still home. I poured my regretful heart out to him. I recounted the tragedy as it had unfolded. My dad made a phone call, then took my small hand securely within his. I did not understand what we were going to do, but I knew I could trust him and did so by following him. A man from the city met us there. He removed the large bolts and the grate. My dad borrowed his ladder and retrieved my library book. Then without a word but of gratitude to the city worker, he walked with me to school.
My dad was my hero that day. He made all the fear and sadness go away.
As the team took the field, I felt sad for B, that he couldn't be out there with them- that he couldn't finally get to play a position he had worked so hard to be good at. I felt bad that I couldn't be his hero and make all the hard parts about this go away. Then I thought about how this trial is one more part of the refiner’s fire that my son has the opportunity to work through. I thought about how much stronger he could be if he chose to remain faithful during this adversity.
I was okay with not being able to rescue him. After all, he is no longer five. I prayed that the Lord would be generous in compensating him, and that we can all be patient with the Lord’s time schedule and His perfect wisdom.
That was years ago. My role of hero definitely continues to have its limits. But these healthy waffles will allow you to at least bask in momentary hero status :)

Protein Waffles

½ cup steel cut oats blended in food processor (or a full cup omitting flour)
½ cup flour (I use whole wheat)
2eggs
3 egg whites
1 cup of cottage cheese (I use fat free)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
Blend all ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. Scoop out about 1 cup of batter and cook in a waffle maker. Top with fresh fruit, maple syrup, peanut butter, or whatever is your family’s favorite topper.
 
These waffles are packed with protein and lean carbs delivering the right kind of energy to keep your family playing football, recovering lost library books, or fighting through adversity.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

S’mores Bar Cookies


My morning walk took me past a large park where I saw a young girls' soccer team practicing.  All three of my kids played soccer growing up and all three eventually traded it in for a sport they loved a little more.  I recall the season that would be J’s last.  The league was a rec league that only went through age 11.  She wasn't interested in competing on the travel team because of the Sunday conflict so she opted for the only opportunity to play another year- a co-ed rec team.  One game was especially rough.  She was matched up against a very fast, very aggressive, developmentally advanced BOY.  We encouraged her to get in there and not hold back and battle.  She did fine, but was physically out matched.  Towards the end of the game, I could see her tiring.  Her overzealous cheering section of parents, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins cheered a little louder for her as she dribbled the ball down the field.  Then it was snatched away and booted in the opposite direction.  As she and the BOY jogged down the field, trailing all other teammates and the refs, I kept my eyes on her worried she might burst into tears as the pressure was great.  Instead, what I witnessed seemed nothing short of a mental toughness miracle.  She ran a bit closer to that BOY and elbowed him- hard!  Without even thinking about it or the level of appropriateness or the fact that I was an influential adult in her life I threw my hands into the air as I leapt from my seat and screamed at the top of my lungs, “J- You are awesome!!!!!”  I lingered in my proud mama bear moment well past the appropriate amount of time and only quieted at the stern urging of my husband.  Right or wrong-that day became my favorite soccer mom moment ever.
So, as we head back to school and back to sports fields, courts, studios and whatever lessons or activities those we love are engaged in this fall, let’s cheer them on s’more with these delightful bar cookies. 


S’mores Bar Cookies

1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup soft butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups graham crumbs
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugars. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients at once and stir until well mixed. Flatten 1/2 of mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Layer with Giant size milk chocolate Hershey Bars. Spoon a 13 oz. jar of Marshmallow fluff on top. Gently spread with knife or back of a spoon. Flatten pieces of remaining dough and place on top of fluff. Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 30 minutes.
You can stop here- or. Make 'em posh by sprinkling the top with mini marshmallows. Put them in oven on broil for just a minute or two. Watch them close so they don't ignite :) (That’s happened in my kitchen before :/ )
Remove from the oven and drizzle the top with a 1.55 oz Hershey bar melted in a freezer strength quart size Ziploc. (Cut small hole in the corner of the Ziploc.)

Now you are ready to share s'more cheers with someone you love!




Sunday, June 15, 2014

S'mores Cookies


In the 1970’s my parents had 5 daughters. Since there were no sons -yet- and Dad still needed a helper, that helper was usually me.  Working closely with dad helped me develop a deep love and adoration for him.  As an adult, the most powerful reasons I love my dad are not because of the things we did together, but rather the things he taught me.  My foundation of a fervent testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ lay in the faith I had in my dad- that wherever he went, I would follow.  Winters in the southwest Iowa town I grew up in were very harsh.  When it snowed, it was often measured in feet, not inches.  Oft times, I was the daughter selected to go out and help my Dad shovel the walks.  As winter skies darkened in late afternoon, by the time dad returned from work, the light from the street lamp reflected on the snow to give a strange illumination to the task.  The sounds of the shovel scraping the sidewalk and Dad’s breath as he worked hard and quick became sounds of comfort for me.  I remember a particular evening that Dad had assigned me to help shovel the walks.  I was eight years old, short and scrawny.  There had been at least a foot and a half of new snow that day.  As I tried to walk down the steps to the sidewalk, trying to catch up to Dad, I could barely move.  Every time I put my foot down, it sank up past my knee in the fresh snow.  My Dad kept turning around and calling for me to catch up.  I was trying to be tough (certainly a trait I was known for) and move quickly towards Dad, but I was truly having a tough time moving at all.  I began to get frustrated and tears fell down my cheeks.  Dad turned around again to call to me, and saw me crying.  He came back to where I was struggling in the snow and pointed to his footsteps in the snow.  He told me that if I walked in his footsteps, I wouldn't get stuck.  He had paved the way with his larger boot.  We were both headed to the same place and all I needed to do was follow him.  And I did.  Not just in the snow that night, but in learning to live the gospel, and learning to enjoy the happiness that it brings to my life as I feel the love of my Heavenly Father and enjoy the blessings He grants me as I obey.
Today is a shout out to Dads everywhere for their selfless love they render on our behalf.  Time to give them all s’more of our love and appreciation!

S’mores Cookies
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
½ cup soft butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup graham crumbs
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugars.  Stir in egg and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients at once and stir until well mixed.  Roll into 16 balls.  Place on greased baking sheet.  Gently flatten just a bit.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. 
Slice 8 campfire (the largest) size marshmallows in half.  Place the cut half down on the center of each baked cookie.  Return to the oven on the Broil setting for just a minute or until tops are toasty.  Place 1/16 of a Giant sized Hershey Bar in the center of each toasted marshmallow, slightly pressing down.  (You can also make smaller balls of dough, use regular sized marshmallows and portions of a 1.55 oz or Ling sized Hershey bar.)


I struggled in the snow—sometimes we are going to struggle in life.
As I began to cry, I received the comfort of a loving Father—this comfort is all of ours to claim, through the Holy Ghost, from a loving Father in Heaven.
I received guidance and direction as I was told to very simply follow in my Dad’s footsteps.—We have a brother who has gone before us, who has shown us how to live, all we need to do is follow Him.
Throughout my childhood and teenage years, my dad was beside me helping me pick my row of peas, snap my bowl of beans, and retrieving volleyballs as they soared in every which direction; he did so for my siblings as well, in the manner they most needed.  My Dad served his children first.  Perhaps, this is why he was so successful in teaching us the gospel.
And for that I think I’ll express S’more gratitude.
Happy Father’s Day Dad!!

I love you!!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Reese's Peanut Butter Brookies


Today my eldest works his first shift as a staff member at his favorite childhood summer camp. It is a father-son basketball camp. When my boys were young, they excitedly looked forward to this opportunity for bonding over basketball and hoped to be among those who would win shooting competitions throughout the weekend and wear the title (prized t-shirt) “Camp Champion.”

Years ago I learned with perfect knowledge that a champion can come in 747th place.

(Many) years ago I was at the starting line of a triathlon. I was surrounded by thousands of fellow athletes. I was in awe of my surroundings and the magnitude of this race my friend had encouraged me to participate in with her. I recall the race director, Sally Edwards, leading the next wave of swimmers in a mantra. It was a group cheer. Ms. Edwards told us that the mantra could serve as a critical crutch if during our race we allowed self-doubt to enter our minds. We repeated the mantra several times as the start of our race drew near.
I am a swimmer
I am a cyclist
I am a runner
I am a triathlete
At this moment the significance of the mantra seemed lost amongst the waves of participants. Soon, my race began. I darted out into the water fast and strong. Moments later, self-doubt filled me as if it were literally trying to sink me. I exerted every bit of energy I could muster and as I thrashed in the water, I seemed to go absolutely nowhere. My thoughts moved quickly to:
What am I doing here?
What was I thinking?
I certainly did not train hard enough.
I can’t do this!!
In an instant, I saw my training partner swim next to me. My mind clicked “I am a swimmer…” As I resumed my rhythmic stroke and breath, I repeated in my mind the mantra:
I am a swimmer
I am a cyclist.
I am a runner
I am a triathlete.
Truly in that moment of despair, I leaned on a learned truth about myself. That mantra became a source of pivotal importance to the completion of my race. It helped me remember who I really was, and what I was capable of.

Later, I reflected- What makes a champion?
I truly believe there is a champion within each of us. I also believe that being a champion is not about reaching the finish line first…it’s about discovering our inner potential.
Certainly there are some champions in your life that would appreciate these treats.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Brookies
• Begin by mixing and a brownie mix according to package directions. (I use 2 mixes in a 10 x 15.5 airbake pan.)
• Spray pan with Pam Baking spray. Spread brownie batter into desired size pan.
• Bake at 350 degrees for 28-36 minutes. (This really depends on what size of pan you use. It may be a few minutes more or less depending on the thickness of the batter. Basically the brownie needs to be fully cooked.)
• Remove from oven and sprinkle with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (I used 24 cups for 2 mixes) cut into small pieces.
• Mold Peanut Butter cookie batter (I used about 2/3 of this recipe) with your hands and piece together a layer of cookie dough to cover the baked brownies. Dough should be about ¼-3/8 inch thick.
• Bake an additional 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees.
• Remove from oven. Cookie portion of bars will be soft, but will set up nicely. Over baking them will result in crunchy cookie and dry brownie layers.
• Drizzle the top with 2 oz. melted Hershey Bar.
Let set. Cut. Share.




“Camp Champions” will be named this weekend at the camp where B is coaching. My hope is that every kid in his group understands what a true champion is. Champions are those who keep getting up no matter how many times they fall (or get knocked) down. A lucky shot can win a kid a title and a t-shirt. But the kid who takes his new camp issued basketball home and shoots and dribbles everyday to get better is the real champion. The kid who offers a kind encouraging word to a fellow camper or teammate is the real champion. The kid who is thoughtful enough to thank his dad for spending time with him is the real champion. Share these treats and encourage yourself and those around you to celebrate the champion within.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Key Lime Coconut Fruit Dip

The other day I saw a quote that defined me.
"I danced like no one was watching but someone was watching, thought I was having a seizure and called an ambulance."
The worst grade I ever got in high school was a C in P.E. One quarter of my 4 years we did gymnastics. The teacher told me I worked hard, included all the important elements- except I had no grace...
Apparently, I exhibited this same flaw in the kitchen the other night. J was working on a school project at the kitchen table. W was working on his laptop nearby and I was bonding with my Kitchenaid. There had been a recipe in my head I was wanting to experiment with, so I got to work. The result?
Apparently I took a large rubber spatula and with all the absence of grace humanly possible I began to inhale this fruit dip.

Key Lime Coconut Fruit Dip
2 oz. softened cream cheese
1/2 cup cream of coconut
12 oz. key lime yogurt
8 oz. Cool Whip
zest of 1 lime
*optional* 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Cream together softened cream cheese, cream of coconut, and yogurt. Fold in Cool Whip, lime zest and coconut. Let flavors meld a day (24 hours) before serving.

Did I forget to mention...Serve with fruit. In my kitchen this is completely optional. But perhaps the "Give me a spoon and get outta my way" mentality with resulting cream on my nose and chin, impairs the ability for others to concentrate on work or homework...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Miracle Cinnamon Rolls



A few weeks ago I attended my daughter's first Varsity Track and Field Meet.  In the hours that passed that evening, I couldn't help but be reminded of my own first Varsity Meet. 

It was 1984.  Our first four meets were rained out that year.  In week 5, we finally were blessed with a sunny clear day without the threat of thunderstorms.  Area coaches agreed to hold multiple large invitational’s the rest of the season to try and play catch up and give the athletes the opportunity to compete against each other.  So my first track meet was attended by eight area high schools. As we arrived at the stadium, I was completely awe struck.  There were so  so so many people.  I was a small town girl, and this was an awesome sight to see.  We were immediately given the instruction that we were not allowed on the football field as they were protecting it to look perfect for football in the fall.  A string about a foot high was placed around the entire perimeter to try and keep people off of the field.  Our team found a nice grassy spot on the embankment and set our bags there and took off for our warm up lap.  The upperclassmen on the team completely ditched me.  I knew that I was supposed to listen to the first call for my event and turn my entry card in at the scorer’s table.  After I did, I simply watched other teams’ runners and followed their lead.  When they stretched, I stretched, when they jogged around, I jogged around.  Soon I came back near the scorer’s table and saw the hurdles being moved onto the track.  I asked the nice lady at the scorer’s table if they had moved the mile run to be after the hurdles.  She jumped up and called the people putting hurdles on the track to get them off and told me the mile was getting started on the far side of the field.  In near disbelief combined with panic-stricken horror, I broke the big rule of running on the football field in an attempt to make my race.  I jumped over the string barrier sprinted as fast as a distance runner could sprint and when I was confident the race starter could hear me, as his gun was already raised to start the race, I screamed “Wait!”  At that moment I failed to navigate the string barrier on that side of the field and tripped, landing face down right at the starting line.  It was there that I uttered the most sincere fervent prayer of my life thus far.  I begged my Father in Heaven, whom I was desperately trying to believe in; with all the faith I could muster, to make me invisible…
When I heard giggles, I knew my prayer had gone unanswered. I prayed for a miracle- to become immediately invisible. But God had a different idea of a miracle. I ended up winning the race. 

This recipe is a spin off from Miracle Bread.  It’s simply a quicker version omitting the middle dough rising process.

Miracle Cinnamon Rolls 
 2 cups warm milk (microwave for 1-2 minutes)
2 T yeast
1/3- 1/2 cup sugar
Mix these three ingredients together and let sit for 5 minutes until yeast mixture is foamy.
Add :
¼ melted butter
1 egg
2 tsp. Salt
3 cups bread flour
Add 2-2 1/2 more cups of bread flour.
Use the Kitchenaid dough hook attachment for 5 minutes. (Or knead on your well-floured work surface).
Roll dough into a 20x14 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 4T soft butter and a mixture of:
1 1/2 cups brown sugar mixed with
3-4 Tablespoons cinnamon.
Roll dough up tightly the long way. Cut into 12 equal rolls. Place on a greased baking pan.
Let rise until double.
Bake at 335 degrees for 18-24 minutes.
Cool somewhat.
Frost, glaze, or dust with powdered sugar.


The lesson I needed to learn my freshman year of track- that we must all learn is that the Lord’s wisdom is greater than our own.  As we work to gain a relationship with our Heavenly Father- to know He is there and hears and answers our prayers, we may feel at times it’s hard, or not working.  To this, I turn to the message in “Good Things To Come”.   It’s a story of a young poor father having a hard time.  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland says the advice he would have given to himself, is the same advice I believe we need to hear as we try to progress.
“Don’t you quit… You keep trying… There is help and happiness ahead.”

Gratefully my daughter never found herself face down praying for a miracle during her first meet.  She simply prayed that God would help her do her best.  And her best was good enough for an 8th place finish in a field of over 50 competitors.  That sounds good enough to celebrate with some hot from the oven Miracle Cinnamon Rolls.