Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Instant Pot Funfetti Healthy Dessert

This is a low fat, low sugar, Weight Watchers friendly (3 purple points for 1/6th of the dessert!), and super adorable cheesecake! I hesitate to call it a cheesecake because there's no cream cheese in it, but it looks like a cheesecake and tastes pretty dang close!  It's high in protein and is super easy to make.

Spray a 7" push spring form pan with cooking spray.

Beat together: 
3 eggs
1/4 c. granulated stevia
1 tsp almond extract 

Add and beat: 
32 oz container plain fat free Greek yogurt (if there is visible liquid, drain it off the top of the container first)
1 small box sugar free cheesecake flavored pudding mix
1/4 c dry yellow cake mix

Gently stir in:
3 TBSP sprinkles
Pour into prepared springform pan. 

Place water in Instant Pot liner until it's just under where trivet will reach. Cover full pan with a paper towel and then tin foil, using the tin foil to keep the paper towel off the batter. Place on trivet with handles and lower into Instant Pot. Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes. Once done, turn off heat, release pressure, but leave in Instant Pot for at least 10 minutes. 

Carefully remove from Instant Pot, sprinkle with more sprinkles while still warm, cover with a paper towel and refrigerate overnight. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Dried Apple Pie

This is such a delicious pie recipe from pioneer times and a great way to use dried apples!

Soak 2 cups dried apples in water overnight in the fridge (or somewhere cool). Drain the water and mix with 1/2 c. sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon (you can use pumpkin pie spice in place of the cinnamon for some extra flavor!)

Place apples into a prepared pie crust. I prefer to use an all butter recipe crust. Dot apples with 3 T butter. Cover with top crust, seal the edges and make a few slashes in the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or topped with cheddar cheese! 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Holiday Miracle

At the beginning of the Christmas season I had a meltdown. I was tired of all my bah humbug grinchy family members ruining my Christmas cheer year and year. The kids and I had been fighting about them not wanting to go to Thanksgiving dinner and they were already being brats about Christmas. My husband was moping around about the holidays. I haven't had as much energy, physically or mentally, since I had major surgery in July. School was very homework heavy this semester and I was just feeling generally overwhelmed with the stresses of being a mom and caregiver. I couldn't take any more fighting over something like the holidays. This should be the happiest time of the year. It used to be. I needed it to be again.

I wanted to go to a small town Christmas festival early in the season and my suggestion was being met with complaints and grumbling. My kids said no way. My husband said he'd go if I went, but he didn't want to. After the month long fight over Thanksgiving and the complaints I was already hearing about Christmas, I had enough. "FINE! I AM DONE. I'M NOT MAKING ANYONE DO ANYTHING CHRISTMASSY. IF PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO DO CHRISTMAS THINGS I'M NOT MAKING YOU DO THEM. I'M NOT FORCING YOU. I'M NOT GOING WITHOUT YOU. I'M JUST DONE." I may have shed a tear or two. After years and years of being the queen of Christmas, with three kids and a husband who hate the holidays, I finally broke. My Christmas spirit was gone.

Something happened to my family after I had my outburst. They all decided we should go to the Christmas festival. I was pouting and not even dressed and they told me I should get ready. We went and no one complained about anything, even though there wasn't as much to do as I had hoped. We stood in long lines out in the cold, and no one said an single negative thing. They even agreed to get our picture taken with Santa for the first time since they were little.

But it wasn't just that night. They were enthusiastic about taking Christmas card pictures. They laughed and posed and had fun with it. Alyssa spent the evening helping me pick out the picture to use as our Christmas card and choosing which card design to order.

My husband has watched many Christmas movies with me this month. He wore silly socks  to our family party even though he doesn't like attention.

Alyssa came home from her dad's house for our family Christmas party. She wore a Christmas sweater and socialized the whole night, which is very unlike her.

We've watched Christmas movies, listened to Christmas music, made gingerbread houses and my family hasn't complained at all. Alyssa has asked to do things I hadn't even planned this year, like going on a Christmas light scavenger hunt last night.

Caleb didn't want to go look at lights with us and I was disappointed, but I wasn't going to say anything about it since they've been so good all month. Alyssa jumped on his case and told him he had to go. He said, "Alyssa, you don't even like Christmas." She responded, "I know, but I'm really trying to this year.". I got a tear in my eye and told her, "Christmas is magical and life is hard. We should look for any magic we can find in this world." She said, "You're not wrong." and yelled at her brother to get in the car.

We drove around for hours last night, listening to Christmas music and trying to find all the hard things on Alyssa's list (Mrs. Claus and the Grinch escaped us). We all had fun and we laughed and laughed.

I have truly seen the magic of Christmas and giving in my family this year. They could see I was struggling because life IS hard and I needed the happiness of the holidays and positive family time. They gave that to me. I think they needed it too, especially Alyssa. As my kids are getting older, family time is the most precious gift in the world to me. My heart has grown three times its normal size this December. There have been no stresses this week, only JOY. I'm looking forward to Christmas eve festivities tonight and opening presents tomorrow morning with all three of my kids. I'm feeling Christmas excitement like I haven't felt in years. It's a holiday miracle!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Instant Pot Sweet Italian Soup

(may contain aff links)

My husband said this is the best meal I've ever made in the Instant Pot and I use my Instant Pot almost daily! It was super good! This could be made on the stove top as well. 

Grilled chicken, diced
Seeds of Change quinoa & brown rice pouch (I buy mine at Costco)
Can diced tomatoes w/sweet onion
2 cans water
Diced yellow bell pepper
Diced red onion
Italian seasoning 

Cook at high pressure for 6 minutes. You can quick or natural release. Serve with feta cheese.

To cook on a stove top, just simmer until peppers and onion are soft. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Cherry Cream Pie

Having a cherry tree in my yard means I often have canned cherries on my shelf. I needed a last minute dessert for Father's Day dinner tonight and this cherry pie came out amazing! I will be making it again, for sure!

Cherry Cream Pie

1 quart canned cherries, drained or fresh cherries, pitted

homemade or store-bought graham cracker crust

3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. flour
dash salt
1/2 tsp corn starch
2 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream

1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. cold butter

Pour the cherries into the pie pan lined with graham cracker crust. Mix your cream ingredients well.  Pour over cherries, moving cherries around as needed to allow the cream mixture to settle in. For topping, cut butter into the sugar and flour until it resembles crumbs. Sprinkle topping over cherries and cream.  Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until top is golden brown.  If edges of graham cracker crust start to darken, cover edges with tin foil. Serve warm with ice cream.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


My kids now call me the "Crazy Jello Lady" and people at church sing the Jello song to me when I pass because I happened to be featured on a fun KSL news segment about Jello in Utah last month!  You can watch it HERE!  It was a lot of fun!  This is the Jello salad recipe I make more than any other.  It's so delicious!

Overnight Jello Salad

1 small pkg vanilla pudding (not instant)
1 small pkg orange jello
12 oz carton of cool whip (extra creamy, if possible)
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 can pineapple tidbits, drained
2-3 bananas, sliced

Cook pudding according to package directions using water instead of milk. Add the dry jello powder and boil until dissolved. Cover and let set overnight. In the morning, whip jello-pudding mixture and cool whip in a large bowl together. Fold in fruit. Let chill.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Mental Illness Through the Eyes of a 16 Year Old Girl

Mental illness is not beautiful.  It's not romantic. Depression isn't just being sad.  I don't know what sad feels like. Anxiety isn't just being nervous.  Bipolar isn't just mood swings. Self harm isn't just attention seeking.

Depression is feeling empty, numb, hopeless. It's staring at the ceiling at 4 am with burning eyes because your thoughts won't stop telling you that you're better off dead.

It's not getting out of bed for days because you don't see the point. It's leaving piles of homework in the corner because you lack any motivation. It's being told you're selfish and lazy when really you want so desperately to be able to go outside and hang our with friends but your depression keeps you in your basement all day.

Anxiety is not being able to pay for your food at a restaurant.  It's the constant feeling of almost falling off a cliff. It's having panic attacks in the middle of class. Hiding in the bathroom as your chest doesn't allow you to breathe and the tears don't stop. You can't speak or stand and you can physically feel the walls caving in around you. It's the feeling someone would get when they're just about to take the most important test of their lives, only instead of a test, it's just asking for a takeout box.

Bipolar Disorder isn't just an over-emotional girl on her period. It's wanting to kill yourself for days as you suffer a rock-bottom depression and then all of a sudden you're so high you can't see yourself ever coming down. Mania is terrifying, not happy.  It's laughing at the most dire situations. It's loud and chaotic. It's like spinning around in circles as fast as you can and not being able to stop, only to stumble into a pit and plummet back to that crippling depression. It's not being able to trust your emotions because you only feel in extremes.

Self harm is ugly. There's no one who is kissing your scars. It's feeling so bad about yourself and who your illness has made you become that the self hatred boils over, spilling out into hysterical crying and the urge to destroy yourself. Or feeling so numb and empty that you bleed to feel something again. It's pain. It's stinging. It's fear. It's regret. It's shame. And it's not being able to stop even when you want to.

None of these things are beautiful. They're ugly. They're destruction. They're chaos. They make you forget what it ever felt like to be happy. Mental illness consumes you. It is hell.

But if not for these illnesses taking over my life, I wouldn't be the artist I am. No one would be able to feel the emotion radiating off of my paintings. I would lose my creativity. To create is to survive. And the only things that is beautiful out of any of this is what I am now able to create. The most important thing I've ever learned is how to take all of the pain and negativity and channel it into a piece of artwork. Out of my suffering I have created beauty.

My paintings may be sloppy and dark, and difficult to understand, but they are beautiful and they are me.

A note from her mom:

I've been surrounded by mental illnesses most of my life, but it is so different to watch your babies struggle. Even though I can understand what someone with a mental illness is going through, I can't truly understand how it feels to them.  In our home I have worked hard to completely normalize mental illnesses.  In fact, my daughter will mockingly call me "neurotypical", meaning I'm one of the only people in our family without a diagnosed mental disorder.  I'm the odd-ball, which also means I'm the caregiver and carry a lot of stress due to doctor's appointments, medications, psychiatrist's appointments, counseling appointments and the day-to-day of helping those who are not-so-neurotypical. It's an exhausting life.  

This piece titled "A Beautiful Mess" was written by my daughter last year, which was a low point in her life.  She has since made a lot of progress, thanks largely to finding a good bipolar medication, but she still struggles daily. I tease her all the time about being so high maintenance.  I am very proud of her for finding healthy outlets to cope, such as painting and writing and I'm even more proud that she is allowing me to share her thoughts with the world. Please, parents, make your home a safe place for your teenagers to share their feelings with you, no matter how dark they may be.