Friday, October 31, 2008


3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar for 2 minutes. Slowly add eggs, molasses and vinegar and combine well until fluffy. Sift in flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Mix until just combined.

Pour approximately 1 cup of granulated sugar in a flat bowl. Roll dough into 1" balls and gently roll again in the granulated sugar until completely coated. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes (or until cracks start to appear on top). Let cool for 5 minutes on the pan

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Mission call...

California Santa Rosa Mission, English speaking, reporting to the MTC on Wednesday, 17 December, 2008. We are so excited...

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Christmas, IKEA and Cookies

A few years ago I was browsing through a holiday catalog from my favorite New York gourmet store, Dean & Deluca. Their catalogs are always full of specialty meats, gourmet cheeses and beautiful seasonal bakery items. I immediately noticed their featured gingerbread cookie ornaments. I wanted them. The boxes were small and they were pricey, but my Christmas tree is important to me, two boxes full of important to me. I ordered. When they arrived half of each box was filled with broken cookies. I called Dean & Deluca and they immediately shipped two more boxes. I salvaged what I could out of the two original boxes and waited for the next two boxes. Same deal, still broken cookies, but in the end I was satisfied. I tackled the task of stringing each cookie with twine. Loved it. As it turns out, so did Otis, who walked directly over to my Christmas tree and proceeded to munch on the ornaments. Truly Christmas for him.

I suppose it was no surprise to me that Dean & Deluca discontinued those cookies. I'm certain they shipped many replacement boxes the year they offered them. Imagine my delight when I walked into IKEA the first weekend in October only to see a pallet of gingerbread cookie ornmanets in large boxes. No price. It was clear they'd just arrived. I walked to the register and, I'm not going to lie, my heart was racing. I was excited. Nothing scanned. The 15-year-old said "$4.50?" with an "Is that too much?" face. Three boxes, thank you very much. This year the cookies will be strung with baker's twine. Do you think 100 yards was too much?

Tell me your Christmas ideas for this year.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mandoline and some creamy herbed potatoes...

I made this recipe from Pioneer Woman Cooks! over the weekend. Bridget loved them. Let me talk about the journey making those creamy herbed potatoes.

I have an amazing top-of-the-line mandoline that is so scary I'm inclined to use it as a Halloween decoration on my front door. I am afraid of it. Always have been. It was a Mothers' Day gift from my children a really long time ago and I love it, but it intimidates me. This weekend, after seeing this recipe I decided I would master this gadget and I would master it by myself. No engineer husband help.

I took potatoes and experimented with the thickness of each slice. I moved blades and screws and mandoline legs over and over again. Maybe I said a bad word. But that mandoline worked. Suddenly I wanted to slice everything in the house. Onions and cucumbers and maybe even experiment with crinkle cut french fries. It is my new best friend. What else can I slice up? The possibilities are endless.

I searched FLICKR for "mandoline" thinking perhaps I'd discover more uses. Here's what I discovered. Hundreds of reminders about the danger of a mandoline. As in pictures of injuries. Bloody injuries. I am back to being afraid of it.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Millionaire's Shortbread

I originally saw this recipe on Nigella's website but my metric conversation skills aren't what they should be. Alright, so they don't exist. I keep using that "I had my appendix out in the 5th grade" excuse. Really, I missed cups and pints that year when I was home recuperating. Maybe fractions, too.

Here's the converted recipe. By the way, Whole Foods makes a terrific version of this little shortbread if you only want one. But you'll go back...

1 stick salted butter
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups flour

1 14 oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 ounces chocolate, milk or dark
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 350° F. Oil an 8x8 square pan and set aside. In a mixing bowl, mix softened butter with flour, salt and granulated sugar until a crumbly dough forms -- flour should be completely mixed in. Press into prepared pan, building up a bit of a wall on each side. Poke the shortbread base three or four times with the tines of a fork and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and set. Remove and cool completely.

Over medium heat mix together the sweetened condensed milk, butter, salt and brown sugar until caramel forms. Stir continuously until you have a thick and golden caramel. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract, stir well, and pour the finished product over the shortbread crust. It will cool quickly so spread the mixture quickly over the shortbread. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and melt over a pot of simmering water. Once melted, glossy and no lumps remain, stir in the butter and pour over the caramel layer, smoothing and spreading if needed.

Sprinkle bars with a pinch of kosher or sea salt. Chill completely and score and cut into small squares with a sharp knife.

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Mississippi Mud Cake

I don't know how this recipe escaped the blog . . . this was one of the first recipes I ever added to the 'repeat' column. It's rich.

2 c. sugar
1 c. butter, softened
4 eggs
2 t. vanilla
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c.unsweetened cocoa
1/2 t. baking powder
1 Jar Marshmallow Fluff

Beat butter, add eggs one at a time. Add sugar, flour, cocoa and vanilla. Stir with large spoon. Batter will be very dry and heavy. Bake in a 9x13x2 inch greased pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

It may take longer so check for doneness. Spread marshmallow fluff over cake as soon as you take it out of the oven. Let cool 20 minutes.


1/2 c. butter, softened
6 tbsp. milk
1/3 c. cocoa
1 lb. confectioners' sugar

Blend all ingredients at low speed, gradually increasing until smooth. Spread on cake swirling through marshmallow.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

BYU Mint Brownies

This recipe was adapted from the Scripture Mom blog . . . thanks for the recipe!


1 c. butter
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 (optional)
12 oz. chocolate icing (your own recipe)


5 Tbsp. butter
dash of salt
3 Tbsp. cream
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
2 1/3 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. mint extract
1-2 drops green food coloring

1. Melt butter and mix in cocoa. Allow to cool. Add honey, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add nuts (optional). Pour batter into a greased 9-by-13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool for 1 hour.

2. Prepare mint icing: Soften butter. 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 icing.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Step back in time...

Today's office conversation brought me back to a time when my kids were really little. A coworker described her toddler's obsession with The Backyardigans. Not surprisingly I am clueless about this particular show (thus the link), but I couldn't help but reminisce about like-minded toddler obsessions. Especially ones that now bring a smile to my face.

Caity was obsessed with the movie Annie. I mean it when I tell you the kid just couldn't get enough. In the end that movie is the reason my mom was "Annie" rather than "Nanny". Cait knew every line, every word, every song. Fast forward 25 years and that movie has a tender spot in my heart. It brings a smile to my face and I just can't help myself.

Zach's perpetual movie of choice (and this says a lot about his personality, even at that age) was H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. It was scary. And a little creepy. He was 2, and he loved it . . . a toddler watching Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux over and over again? I'm smiling.

Patrick's maniacal love was The Brave Little Toaster. Even typing this I can see members of my family glazing over at the mention of this movie [David]. I actually remember hiding that videotape hoping he might forget about it. He never did. By the time this kid turned 3 tolerance was low for The Brave Little Toaster.

(Know what's funny about the imdb link to The Brave Little Toaster? It has spoiler alerts. Think about that.)

Bridget . . . not so much did she have a toddler movie obsession. She waited a little longer than everyone else. At a very early age she loved a tender-hearted movie, a love story. Bridie's brothers learned very early on how to get their sister to watch a movie with them . . . "Bridget, there's love in this movie." [It was always a lie.] When Forever Young came out she sat on the edge of our bed with tears in her eyes at this tale of true love. Others followed . . . I'd need her permission to publish that list.

And then, of course, we can see even younger members of our family have their own obsessions. It isn't annoying at all now. In fact, it's cute.

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Rainy avenues walk

I really can't remember the last time I took a walk in the rain. This morning I dressed in gym clothes and headed out. I made my way up to Mrs. Backer's Pastry Shop in pursuit of that sugar cookie my husband loves - the one I can't seem to successfully duplicate. Loved my rainy Salt Lake City walk . . .

I stopped along S. Temple and looked at condo floorplans. Most of this area of Salt Lake City reminds me of Brookline, Massachusetts, which means I like it. A lot.

Tonight I'm going to Ladies' Night at Deseret Book in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. I full expect to meet Michael McLean and get his autograph on his boxed set. I've been threatening to buy this set of CDs for myself for months, but have been too cheap. Liz Lemon Swindle will be there, also, and that could be trouble.

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Friday, October 3, 2008

Conference Weekend sights...

Lion House

Beehive House

I thought romance was dead...

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Temple Square

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Salt Lake weekend...

We left for Salt Lake City early this morning and headed into Provo first. Thank you, CJane, for each and every Provo Bakery recommendation. Especially because that chocolate donut with the dot of fresh raspberry jam and cream cheese was the best donut I have ever eaten in my life. NOT an exaggeration for emphasis. Provo Bakery is now a permanent "favorite" in my GPS.

Our next stop was a few blocks down the road. We made our way into BYU's Wilkinson Center to the famous fudge counter. There were cinnamon bears involved and the new rage, chocolate covered cinnamon bears. Not so much on the latter. Leaving the Wilkinson Center with our wares (including some BYU memorabilia) we heard someone yelling my name. The dreaded "Sister L___". Lots of hugs and they left with those chocolate covered cinnamon bears. Really, I love Provo.

Nie Nie referred us to this hotel, so that's where we're staying. It's everything she said. Pictures to follow. We've had a great day.

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