Wednesday, March 9, 2016

St. Patty's Day Tablescape and Irish Dinner


We have never done leprechaun traps or other kidsy St. Patrick's Day traditions at our house, but every year I make an Irish meal and some sort of green dessert to celebrate the holiday. Instead of doing corned beef, I typically do pork and I always make Irish soda bread!







Irish Bacon and Cabbage

boneless pork roast
red potatoes
carrots
cabbage
salt

The night before cooking, place the roast into a big bowl of cold water and add lots of salt... about a cupful. Let it sit in the fridge overnight. The next morning, place the drained meat in the crockpot with potatoes and carrots. Add a bit of water. Let cook on low all day. 30 minutes before serving add the cabbage, cut into chunks.

Irish Soda Bread

4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 to 1 ½ c buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425. Mix together dry ingredients. Gradually add buttermilk, mixing with a large spoon until dough is firm enough to be gathered into a large ball. If the dough is crumbly, add some more buttermilk, a tablespoonful at a time, until it all adheres to the ball. Place on a lightly floured board. Pat and shape it into a flat circular loaf, about 8 inches around and 1 ½ inches thick. Set on a floured baking sheet. With the tip of a knife, cut a ½ inch deep cross into the dough, dividing it into quarters. Bake for about 35-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and wrap in a clean dish cloth. Let cool about 20 minutes.

Of course in an LDS home we have root beer with our St. Patty's Day dinner!


Happy St. Patty's Day!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Me and My Girls: YouTube episode 1


My teenagers and I have an amazing relationship.  It's tricky to balance being a mom with old fashioned beliefs and values and having teens who are very much of the modern world.  We totally make it work though!  If you missed my Best Piece of Parenting Advice for Moms of Teens, be sure to read it here!

As I was pondering on what kinds of videos I'd like to film for my YouTube channel I thought about recipes or crafty ideas, and although I may include those now and then, my greatest passion is women and relationships so that will be my main focus.  I hope you enjoy watching this video as much as I enjoyed making it! 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Tropical Crab Salad


We totally love fake crab at our house.  We can sit and eat a whole pound of it right out of the bag!  I love using crab in salads and main dishes as well.  Here's a simple but yummy tropical crab salad recipe!

Crab Pasta Salad

8 oz whipped cream cheese (in a tub)
1/2 c. crushed pineapple
1/4 c. milk

1 lb imitation crab meat
1 can mandarin oranges
cashews
12 oz pasta shells, cooked

For the dressing mix together cream cheese, crushed pineapple and milk.  Stir in remaining ingredients, chill before serving.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My Favorite Downtown SLC Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants

Bruges Waffles and Frites

When we travel it's all about the food for me!  I love local hole-in-the-wall type restaurants and rarely eat at chains.  The same goes for eating out in our own state!  You won't catch me eating at a chain restaurant unless I have to!  We find ourselves in the downtown area of Salt Lake City quite often, and have found a few treasures over the years.  Bonus, they're each $20-30 for two people to eat!  Here are a few of our family's favorites:

1- Rich's Burgers n Grub: This is a great downtown place for burgers.  It's small and there is rarely more than one employee working at a time, but we've never had a problem getting a table.  They have quite a few burgers on the menu and you can choose any of them with a hamburger patty, chicken breast or a veggie patty (they make the veggie patties in house).  My daughter is a vegetarian and loves having so many choices.  My favorite is the Mac & Cheese Burger with a side of fried green beans.  Their sweet potato fries are also a delicious side option.  We've never been disappointed at Rich's.  The staff is friendly and the food is fabulous!  They're located at 30 E. 300 S. (Broadway).

The Blue Nile Special

2. Blue Nile:  We originally found the Blue Nile restaurant on Groupon and decided to be adventurous.  We had never tried Ethiopian food and didn't know what to expect, but it was amazing!  I highly recommend getting the Blue Nile Special.  For $25 you get to sample many of the menu items plus an appetizer.  It's plenty of food for two people to share.  One of the interesting things about Blue Nile is you eat your food using a delicious spongy bread to scoop everything up instead of silverware.  Service is usually quite slow, so give yourself plenty of time, but it's always friendly.  This is one restaurant we'll actually drive to Salt Lake specifically for!  They're located at 755 S. State.

Bruges Waffles and Frites

3. Bruges Waffles & Frites: Oh Bruges, how do I love thee?  If you're familiar at all with the Belgian waffle craze in Utah aka the Waffle Love truck, you have to try Bruges.  They have amazing Belgian waffles, but they also have delicious Belgian french fries with flavored dipping mayos!  The salty perfectly compliments the sweet.  I love the liege waffle with whipped cream and strawberries and a side of frites with a good spicy mayo.  The downtown Bruges has very little seating and most of it is outdoors, so be aware if the weather isn't great.  There is nothing healthy about Bruges, but it's one of those places that's worth the calorie splurge!  They're located at 336 W. 300 S. (Broadway)


4. Toasters:  We found Toasters for the first time a couple of years ago during Comic Con.  I was researching good sandwich places with vegetarian options within walking distance of the Con and Toasters got great reviews.  It has now become tradition for my girls to go to Toasters every single time they're at Comic Con (twice a year).  It's a great lunch option with healthier options.  I love the Turkey Avocado.  It has balsamic vinegar and swiss cheese on it which makes it unique and yummy!  They have three downtown locations: 151 W. 200 S, 215 S. State and 30 E. 300 S. (Broadway).

Siegfried's Delicatessen

5. Siegfried's Delicatessen:  This German deli was another Comic Con find.  It's unique and fun!  They have a gift store (with German chocolates!) and a full deli with sliced meats and cheeses.  I like to order the traditional bratwurst with spaetzle w/gravy and red cabbage, but everything I've tried has been delicious.  Just a heads up, my teens are not impressed with German food, so this may be a grownups only type place to visit!  They're located at 20 W. 200 S.

Cute mini German chocolate bars from Siegfried's

6. The Robin's Nest:  This is another healthier lunch option.  I've always gotten salads at The Robin's Nest, but their sandwiches look delicious too.  I love the Nutty Flora with chicken added.  The ingredients are fresh and their salads are filling.  The staff has always been friendly and the service is quick even when they're busy.  They're located at 311 S. Main.

We're always looking for fun new local spots to eat and I'm sure our downtown list will continue to grow!  How about you?  Are you a hole-in-the-wall type person or do you like to play it safe with chain restaurants?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The BEST piece of parenting advice for moms of teens



When our children are young we can shelter them and keep them in a bubble, but as they get older we have to give them freedom and the ability to make their own decisions and their own mistakes, even though it's hard for us.  We have life experiences and we know what the outcome will be when our kids make bad choices, but we have to let them make those choices and deal with those consequences.



Our Heavenly Father feels the same way about us.  He has more knowledge than we do.  He knows what will happen when we make decisions, but He allows us the agency to make our own choices, both wrong and right.  Sometimes we pray and ask and even beg for things that He doesn't provide.  We feel like He isn't listening, but really He IS listening.  He just knows better than we do.  How often do our kids beg and plead and cry for something that we have to say no to because it isn't in their best interest?  It may be staying up too late, wearing immodest clothing, going to an inappropriate movie or dating too young. From the time our kids can walk we are telling them no.  Don't touch that, don't climb on that, don't eat that; these are all things little kids don't want to hear, but we know better than them, just like our Heavenly Father knows better than us.


WE are His children.  And just like our own children make mistakes, we make mistakes too.  As our kids get older those mistakes can become wedges in your relationship with them.  Teenagers often pull away from their parents, especially when the teenagers are doing things they know their parents don't approve of.  A lot of that pulling away is because our kids think that we won't love them anymore if they don't fit into the mold of what we think they should be.  How often do we pull away from our Father in Heaven because we feel like we aren't being the person He wants us to be?


The greatest thing I know about my Heavenly Father is that He loves me no matter what.  He loves me even though I'm not perfect.  He loves me even though I make mistakes.  He loves me even though sometimes I cry and whine at Him and beg Him for things that He just isn't going to give me.

Because unconditional love is offered by my Heavenly Father to me, I KNOW that I must offer unconditional love to my kids as well.

It sounds easy to just love them and yet I see so many parents with young teenagers who are kicking their kids out of the house, treating them badly or shutting them out of the family because the kids are doing things they disagree with.

I have three teenagers.  In our family we've experienced eating disorders, cutting, depression, anxiety and suicide pacts with friends.  We've had girls with hair every color of the rainbow and girls with heads shaved completely bald, along with mo-hawks, death-hawks, bi-hawks and clothing I would have never in a million years picked out for my daughters.  My daughters have dated boys who are nothing that I would have wanted for them.  We've experienced kids who've decided they don't want anything to do with church, kids who don't want anything to do with God and kids whose religious, political and social beliefs go against everything I've ever taught them.

But through all of this I have an extremely strong and personal relationship with each of my children.  My 18 year old, who is now living on her own, texts me every single day and comes home for a couple of days at least three times a month.  My 16 year old asks me to sit and do collages with her and to "go on adventures" with her.  She tells me about her life and complains when I say I need to go to bed at night.  My 14 year old son hugs me every time he sees me.

 I may not agree with my kids' beliefs and choices, but I love them and THEY KNOW IT.



When you have teenagers you realize that they are their own people.  Yes, they still need you, but once they leave the walls of your home to go to school or out with friends then you have no control over what their actions are.  You can be a good example, you can teach them, you can lecture them, you can discipline them, but essentially they are who they are and they will make the decisions that they want to make.  All you can do is just love them.  No matter what they do, just love them.

They need love more than anything.  They need to know that whatever they do, whatever mistakes they make, whatever friends they have, whatever causes they believe in, whatever person they are, you will love them.  This doesn't mean that we ignore bad behavior.  A parent is still a parent, but make sure that they know that although you may hate their actions, and sometimes need to disciple them for those actions, you don't hate them as a person.


Being loving, truly loving, parents is something we should all strive for, however young or old our children are.  We know that our Heavenly Father will always have His arms outstretched for us, even if we feel we don't deserve it and I strive to be the kind of parent who always has my arms outstretched to my children as well.

The best piece of advice I can give to other parents of teenagers?  Just love them.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Tomato Soup Cake


Do you ever see vintage recipes and wonder "What were they thinking?"  Tomato Soup Cake is one of those kinds of recipes.  I decided to try it out, frosting and all, just so I could say I did it.

Modern versions of the Tomato Soup Cake recipe have been adjusted and perfected to make a much better cake, but the original 1930s version was fun to try.

It wasn't my favorite cake, but it wasn't terrible either.  We all had a piece, but never actually finished the cake...  it was a little too tomatoey for my taste buds.  I can see why homemaker felt the need to improve on the flavor.  The concept is unique, but the original recipe just wasn't quite right.

There is a whole article on the Campbell's Soup website devoted to the history of the Tomato Soup Cake.  If you're a vintage recipe nerd like myself you should totally check in out!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Healthy Black Bean Fudge


I am a sucker for fudge!  This past summer we went to Bear Lake, Idaho and wandered into an adorable little shop that sold FUDGE.  I bought a sampler so I could try a bunch of flavors and totally bought m&ms for the kids so I didn't have to share fudge with them!  I don't make fudge often at home because I'll eat it all.  ALL OF IT.  

Chocolate is my friend and when I'm eating healthy I totally miss ooey gooey unhealthy chocolate.  This healthy black bean fudge does not taste like amazingly fattening fudge, but it satisfies a chocolate craving when you're on a healthy diet and need to have the "good for you" stuff instead of the "good" stuff.  My husband came into the kitchen when he heard the blender and after I poured the fudge in the pan we ate the rest right out of the blender.  He was like, "Are you sure this isn't against my diet?" and my kids even ate some, so I can say it's a pretty good healthy substitute for fudge. 

-You can add more sugar if you'd like to sweeten it a bit more.  You can omit the 1/4 cup sugar if you want sugar free, but it tastes very dark without it.  The dates sweeten it very slightly, but not enough for my taste buds.

-I make this fudge in my high powered blender (vitamix), but you can make it in a regular blender or food processor.

-Black bean puree can be made in large batches and frozen in smaller portions to use in recipes like this one.

-If you have a vitamix or similar blender you can start with whole almonds and coconut oil to make your own almond butter and then add the other fudge ingredients into the blender once the almond butter is nice and creamy.

Black Bean Fudge

1 1/2 c. black bean puree 
1/2 c. cocoa
1/2 c. almond butter
2 T coconut oil 
1/2 c. pitted dates
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c. sugar
dash of salt

Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Pour into a loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Refrigerate until set.  Cut into slices.  Freezes well.  Store in the fridge.