Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Favorite Go-To Recipes

I'm taking a partial maternity leave from this blog as we recently welcomed a sweet baby boy into our home. So today I am happy to be sharing a guest post from my dear friend Janene.

You know the days where things get so crazy that you don't think about dinner until. . . ohhh. . . . 5:00 in the evening and everyone is asking, "Hey, Mom, what's for dinner?"

I really don't like that question.

I know most mom's have their basic "go-to" recipes. Recipes that you have memorized, with most ingredients coming straight out of your pantry or items you have on hand. I am always curious to know what others are. So today I am sharing my "go-to" meals, in no particular order. Maybe you'll be able to add another quick meal to satisfy your family after a busy day!

Chicken Broccoli Bake
1-2 large chicken breast
1-2 bunches of broccoli
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup water
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Prepared rice to serve with

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Boil or grill chicken and cut into small pieces. While the chicken is cooking, prepare broccoli and steam for 7 or so minutes. Mix well the cream of chicken soup, sour cream, and water in bowl. In 9x13 pan put softened broccoli, then spread chicken chunks evenly. Pour cream of chicken mixture evenly over the top and then spread grated cheddar cheese last. Spray a piece of foil with non-stick oil (so the cheese doesn't stick while baking) and cover pan. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted and bubbly, about 20-30 minutes. Serve over cooked rice.

Slow Cooker Italian Bowties
1 large chicken breast
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 pkg. dry Italian seasoning
1 box bowtie (or Farfalle) pasta - cooked

In mixer combine: softened cream cheese and milk. Mix until there are no more cream cheese chunks. Add cream of chicken soup, mix well, then add Italian dressing. Put chicken breast in slow cooker and pour mixture over the top. Cook on low for 5 hours. Serve with 1 box of cooked bowtie (or Farfalle) pasta.

Sausage Casserole
1 package of sausage
1 green onion
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup. sour cream
splash of milk
2 cups frozen hash browns (squares, not tots, also known as Southern Potatoes)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute sausage and gr. onion and put in 8x8 pan (or glass pie pan.) Mix cream of mushroom soup, sour cream, and milk. Pour over top of the cooked sausage. Put frozen potatoes over the top and then cover with cheese. Cover with foil (sprayed with non-stick spray) and cook 20-25 minutes, then remove foil and cook (or broil) until cheese is melted.

Chicken Noodle Soup
5 cups water
1 cups evaporated milk
1 large chicken breast
2 t. salt
1 T. chicken bouillon
1/4 t. pepper
2 cups chopped celery
3 cups homemade noodles*
2 cups chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion

Bring water to a boil in large pot. Add chicken and bouillon and stir until dissolved. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes until no longer pink. Remove chicken and cut in small pieces. Return to broth and add celery, carrots, and onion. Cook until tender. Add noodles and cook for 10 minutes. Mix cream of chicken soup, evap. milk, and spices together and then add to soup. Re-heat.
*Homemade Noodles - combine in mixer 3 eggs, 4 T. water, and 1 t. salt. Add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough is smooth and not sticky. Separate into two sections. Roll out, paper thin, on floured surface. Cut into 1/2in by 4in long strips - I use my pizza cutter. Add to boiling water for 7-10 minutes until firm. Add 1/2 of the noodles to soup, and freeze the other half for another soup later.

Chili and Cornbread
2-3 cans of your favorite chili - or make your own

1 box Jiffy Cornbread Mix
1 box Jiffy Yellow Cake Mix
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup water
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients in mixer until just combined. Spray pan (9x13 for regular size cornbread squares, or 9x9 pan for big puffy squares) with non-stick spray. Pour in batter and bake for 15-20 minutes for 9x13 pan, or 30+ minutes in 9x9 pan, until top is golden brown.

Chicken Spinach Wraps
4-5 chicken nuggets per wrap
wrap fixings: lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, ranch dressing
1/2 cup mayo
2 T. buffalo sauce or other hot sauce (Tabasco or Frank's)
1 pkg. spinach tortillas

Cook chicken nuggets according to directions. Combine mayo and buffalo sauce in separate bowl. Put nuggets in spinach wrap with desired fixings and buffalo sauce mixture on top. I like to serve with french fries or baked potato.

Stromboli and Soup
Soup - we like quick and easy Bear Creek "Cheddar Broccoli"
1 Pillsbury French Bread Loaf
1-2 packages of sandwich meat
2 cups cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, or if you like heat, pepper jack is yummy!)

Roll out the french bread dough to make a large rectangle (on a greased counter top works best). Layer sandwich meat, then cheese, then more meat, then more cheese until you use all of your ingredients. Roll up dough to form a tight loaf and place seam side down on a cookie sheet. Cook according to package directions. Slice into little sandwich rolls and serve with your soup of choice.

Cheesy Chicken Tacos
(this is one of my kids tacos, just with meat, sour cream, and ranch)
6 four tortillas
1 package taco seasoning
1 pound chicken breast, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup water
2 cups chopped - almost pureed) tomatoes (fresh or canned)
2 cups cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tortillas in a single layer on a large cookie sheet. Spray tortillas with cooking spray on both sides and sprinkle with a little of the taco seasoning mix. Bake 7-8 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. When one pan comes out, put another batch in. Or you can grill them on the BBQ grill - yum!

Meanwhile, mix the sliced chicken, remaining taco seasoning mix, and water in large skillet. Bring to a boil on med-high heat. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer for 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir occasionally. Add 1 1/2 cups of tomatoes and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and add 1 1/2 cups cheese and mix until melted.

Spoon chicken mixture evenly over tortillas and top with remaining tomatoes and cheese. Add a dollop of sour cream, ranch, and some lettuce if you like too.

Janene is the mother of three children. She loves to take pictures and read good books and she is a fabulous friend! You can view her work at jkphotography and reserve your next photo session with her.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A formula for successful families

I would further invite you to consider the tried and tested formula that successful families have used over the years to attain love, unity, and loyalty to one another and to understand the principles of the gospel.

Successful families have love and respect for each family member. Family members know they are loved and appreciated. Children feel they are loved by their parents. Thus, they are secure and self-assured.

Strong families cultivate an attribute of effective communication. They talk out their problems, make plans together, and cooperate toward common objectives. Family home evening and family councils are practiced and used as effective tools toward this end.

Fathers and mothers in strong families stay close to their children. They talk. Some fathers formally interview each child, others do so informally, and others take occasion to regularly spend time alone with each child.

Every family has problems and challenges. But successful families try to work together toward solutions instead of resorting to criticism and contention. They pray for each other, discuss, and give encouragement. Occasionally these families fast together in support of one of the family members.

Strong families support each other.

Successful families do things together: family projects, work, vacations, recreation, and reunions.

Successful parents have found that it is not easy to rear children in an environment polluted with evil. Therefore, they take deliberate steps to provide the best of wholesome influences. Moral principles are taught. Good books are made available and read. Television watching is controlled. Good and uplifting music is provided. But most importantly, the scriptures are read and discussed as a means to help develop spiritual-mindedness.

In successful Latter-day Saint homes, parents teach their children to understand faith in God, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. (See D&C 68:25.)

Family prayer is a consistent practice in these families. Prayer is the means to acknowledge appreciation for blessings and to humbly recognize dependence on Almighty God for strength, sustenance, and support.

It is a wise and true maxim that families that kneel together stand upright before the Lord!

This, then, is the tried and proven formula for rearing successful families. I commend the formula to you.

Ezra Taft Benson, “Counsel to the Saints,” Ensign, May 1984, 6

Friday, April 23, 2010

Books to welcome a new sibling

We are enjoying our new little bundle of sweetness!As with any special occasion, we've been reading a few books to help our girls with the transition of a new baby brother in the house. Most libraries should have a lot of books available when it comes to sibling issues, but these three were our favorites.

I'm a Big Sister by Joanna Cole (I'm a Big Brother version is also available)
The Sweet Bee has read this book multiple times. It's perfect for a two and half year old. It does a good job of explaining what a little baby is like ("Too little to walk. Too little to talk." etc), and emphasizes the important job of a big sister.

Julius the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes
Lily doesn't see anything special about the new baby, and just wishes he would go away. But she eventually has a change of heart and becomes his fiercest protector.

A Baby Sister for Frances by Russell Hoban
With a new baby in the house, no one has time for Frances anymore. She decides to run away (to another part of the house) but comes back when she hears how much her parents miss her.

It is also quite apparent that most popular children's book characters have a book dealing with a new sibling in the home. We like these two.
The Berenstain Bears' New Baby by Stan & Jan Berenstain

Arthur's Baby by Marc Brown

Check out this list for more books about siblings and new babies.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Peanut Butter Playdough

After a well-child checkup at the doctors office my girls needed a fun activity to take their minds off of the pain and terror of their immunizations. We opted for edible fun!

We found this simple Peanut Butter Playdough recipe by Jane on Make and Takes.

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
2 cups powdered sugar

Mix ingredients in a bowl and you’re done! Store in an airtight container or plastic baggie with air sucked out of the bag. (Quick tip: Spray your 1/2 cup with oil before measuring your honey and the honey will pour much easier.)
This recipe had a great consistency and was not sticky. It was also quite tasty! We love peanut butter at our house. I held the Sweet Bee off from tasting it as long as I could, since once she had a bite she just wanted to just keep eating. Guess what we had for lunch that day?!
As you can see in the pictures, we like to use cookie cutters with our playdough. A few years ago we purchased a set of 100 cookie cutters. Storing the set is kind of bothersome, but we have shapes and letters and numbers for all seasons and any mood that we happen to be in. We also do a good amount of sculpting and cutting (plastic knives are great tools).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Be grateful to be a woman!


"Each of you should be grateful to be a woman! Self-pity is always a sad thing to see and especially when there is no justification for it. To be a righteous woman is a glorious thing in any age. To be a righteous woman during the winding up scenes on this earth, before the second coming of our Savior, is an especially noble calling. The righteous woman’s strength and influence today can be tenfold what it might be in more tranquil times. She has been placed here to help to enrich, to protect, and to guard the home—which is society’s basic and most noble institution. Other institutions in society may falter and even fail, but the righteous woman can help to save the home, which may be the last and only sanctuary some mortals know in the midst of storm and strife.

"One of the important messages that emerges from the history of great women in all ages is that they cared more for the future of their families than for their own comfort. Such good women had a grasp of what matters in life. When called upon to do so, they could fashion a lovely city in the midst of a swamp or make the desert blossom as a rose.

"Selflessness is a key to happiness and effectiveness; it is precious and must be preserved as a virtue which guarantees so many other virtues. There are so many things in the world which reinforce our natural selfishness, and neither our men nor women should be partakers thereof. We have grown strong as a people because our mothers and our women have been so selfless. That ennobling quality must not be lost, even though some of the people of the world may try to persuade otherwise."

Spencer W. Kimball, “Privileges and Responsibilities of Sisters,” Ensign, Nov 1978, 101

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Monthly Menu Plan

I'm taking a partial maternity leave from this blog as we we recently welcomed a sweet baby boy into our home. Today I am happy to be sharing a guest post from my sister-in-law Becky.
Waffles with Blueberry Apple Sauce

I find that my stress level drops significantly and that my family is a lot happier and healthier when I plan a monthly menu. I love hearing about what other people do to plan meals because honestly, I get tired of making the same foods! I have had many friends say “We should share menus, so that we can get new ideas and see what other people eat.” So in all its glory, here is my menu for March:

M 1 Broccoli Casserole
T 2 Tostada with chicken, beans lettuce
W 3 Fish/ Rice
Th 4 Chicken Noodle Soup
F 5 Mac and Cheese
Sa 6 Hamburgers
Su 7 Waffles
M 8Grilled Chicken/ Rice
T 9 Chicken Sandwich
W 10 Stir Fry
Th 11 Black Bean Soup
F 12 Spaghetti
Sa 13 Chili/ Cornbread
Su 14 Chicken Pot Pie
M 15 BLT
T 16 Bean Burrito
W 17 Corned Beef/ Potatoes
Th 18 Taco Soup
F 19 Pizza
Sa 20 Ruben
Su 21Roast/ Rolls
M 22 French Dip
T 23 Tamales
W 24 New Recipe
Th 25 Minestrone
F 26 Fish/ Rice
Sa 27 Cheese Crisp
Su 28 Chicken Crumble
M 29 Birthday dinner/ Child Choose
T 30 Tacos
W 31 Pork Chop/ Rice
Th 1 Potato Soup
F 2 Chicken Dinosaur
Sa 3 Omelets
Su 4 Swiss Chicken

Notes on the menu: I find it is easier to cook by days, so Tuesday tends to be Mexican food, Thursday is soup, Friday is an easy food in the hopes that we will go on a date (at the very least it is a meal that ALL of the children will eat usually without complaining!), etc.

I don't usually include the fruits and vegetables I will be serving. I have those on hand and just add them to each meal.

Traditions are great because they make a menu easier to plan and can break up the monotony. We almost always have waffles on Fast Sunday. In March we celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Corned Beef and Potatoes. On birthdays the children get to pick their dinner which means that we eat pizza!

Becky and Jared enjoying my 16th Birthday dinner: homemade chicken pot pies!

A special thanks to my own amazing mother who cooked at least two meals a day (we were not a cold cereal, take out food kind of family- she really cooked!!!) for seven children! That is over 6000 dinners I ate with my family!

Becky is the mother of six "bookend children" (one boy, four girls, one boy). She enjoys living in the shadow of Timpanogos Mountain but still gets homesick for the Arizona desert. When she is not doing damage control, Becky enjoys books, gardening, and running. She can be found (more not than often) at Consider the Lilies.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

FHE: General Conference Review

Scripture of the Week
“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; . . . I will call upon the Lord . . . so [I shall] be saved from mine enemies.”
Psalms 18:2-3
(We chose this scripture because it was quoted by President Monson in his closing remarks during General Conference, April 2010)

Lesson Plan
Discuss and complete and color the General Conference Recap by Arie Van De Graaff (found on

Play LDS Bingo with Skittles as playing markers.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Use your 24hrs wisely

A wise man once distinguished between “the noble art of getting things done” and “a nobler art of leaving things undone.” True “wisdom in life,” he taught, consists of “the elimination of non-essentials” (Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living [New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, 1937], 162, 10). May I suggest that you periodically evaluate how you are doing in this area? What are the nonessential things that clutter your days and steal your time? What are the habits you may have developed that do not serve a useful purpose? What are the unfinished or unstarted things that could add vigor, meaning, and joy to your life?

Sometimes we make the mistake of neglecting the essentials of life. The Savior had harsh words for the scribes and Pharisees of His day: “Woe unto you,” He told them, “for [you] have omitted the weightier matters of the law, [justice], mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done” (Matthew 23:23).

Although the Savior’s words were directed to a specific audience thousands of years ago, they apply to us as well today.

In modern revelation, the Lord has commanded, “Thou shalt not idle away thy time, neither shalt thou bury thy talent that it may not be known” (D&C 60:13). It is quite common to hear people and friends of ours say, “Where has the time gone?” or “If I only had more time.”

In reality, time is perhaps the only commodity of life that is divided equally among every person in the world. Think about it—we all have 24 hours in a day. Though some people have more demands on their time than others, we all have an equal opportunity to use those 24 hours wisely.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "As You Embark Upon This New Era," in Brigham Young University 2008-2009 Speeches (2009).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Standard Unit Blocks—out of felt!

I'm taking a partial maternity leave from this blog as we we recently welcomed a sweet baby boy into our home. So today I am happy to be sharing a guest post from my sister-in-law Tiffany.

Nurture Mama has shared some great activity ideas with felt. I’ve enjoyed doing some of them with my children. In fact, one of my older daughters made felt food for her younger sisters for a Christmas gift. For a guest Nurture Mama post I wanted to share something fun and simple I made with felt years ago.

One of my favorite childhood toys was a set of wooden building blocks. I’ve since learned they’re called standard unit blocks because they are uniform sizes--one rectangle block is the same size as two square blocks and so on. We played with those blocks in endless creative ways.

Many years ago—for a little something fun I decided to create felt building blocks. My little girls could use them for two dimensional play on a flannel board. Younger children have fun putting the different shapes and colors on the board and comparing and matching. Older children will build elaborate houses and patterns.
Felt Building Blocks are simple to make. I think all those years ago I cut them out with scissors, but with a cutting mat and a rotary cutter they would be simple to make in very little time. There are a few standard shapes you want to have in your felt block set.

Rectangle: 4 inches by 2 inches
Tall rectangle: 4 inches by 1 inch (half of a regular rectangle)
Square: 2 inches by 2 inches
Little rectangle: 2 inches by 1 inch
Triangle: cut a rectangle diagonally into two right triangles
Arched rectangle: cut a small half-circle out of one side of a rectangle
From colorful felt cut several strips 1 inch and 2 inches wide and then cut down to 2 and 4 inch lengths. So simple. Beyond these basics there is no limit to the sizes and shapes you can create!

Tips for making a flannel board
Several years ago we got two lovely flannel boards from my mother-in-law. So, I’m not an expert on flannel board making! But, as I look at the boards she made it shouldn’t be too difficult. To make your own board you will want a large piece of neutral colored felt, a sturdy board (heavy cardboard, foam core or masonite board), spray adhesive, and some strong, wide tape. Decide how big you want the finished flannel board and cut the board to size. Cut the felt 2 inches larger on all sides than the board. Spray the felt with spray adhesive and smooth it on the board. Tuck the felt to the back and miter the corners (clip a section from each corner) so it will lay flat. Secure the felt to the back with tape. The boards I have are about the size of a poster board—you could also make a small individual size board.

Here is another online tutorial for making a flannel board.

Tiffany’s greatest joys in life come from her family and her faith. She lives with her dear husband and 6 cute kids in Texas. She loves to read, bake, and stay in touch with family. She tries to find and focus on the joy in the journey and blogs about it at This Journey: with joy wend your way.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


April 1, 2010
9lbs. 4oz. and 20.5 inches

We are so thrilled to have this sweet new baby boy join our family!

I'll be taking a bit of a leave from this blog for a little while, to give our family time to welcome its newest member. But be sure to stay tuned in since I've got a great selection of guest posts lined up, as well as a few I drafted previously.
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar.
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory, do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy.
-William Wordsworth

Monday, April 5, 2010

Every home is a house of learning

Every home is a house of learning, either for good or otherwise. Family members may learn to be obedient, honest, industrious, self-reliant, and faithful in living gospel principles, or they may learn something else. Learning the gospel in the homes of Church members should be centered on the scriptures and on the words of latter-day prophets.

The Lord has commanded parents to teach their children. King Benjamin instructed parents: “Ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil. …

“But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.” (Mosiah 4:14–15.)

Emphasizing this duty, the Lord cautioned that if parents do not teach their children “to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, … the sin be upon the heads of the parents.” (D&C 68:25.)

A personal word of counsel to parents: Teach your children to pray, to rely on the Lord for guidance, and to express appreciation for their blessings. Children learn from you to distinguish between right and wrong. They learn that lying, cheating, stealing, or coveting possessions of others is wrong. Help them to learn to keep the Sabbath day holy and to pay their tithing. Teach them to learn and obey the commandments of God. Teach your young children to work, and teach them that honest labor develops dignity and self-respect. Help them to find pleasure in work and to feel the satisfaction that comes from a job well done.

Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Spiritually Strong Homes and Families,” Ensign, May 1993, 68

Friday, April 2, 2010

Come See the Light

During the Easter season it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of coloring eggs, Easter bunnies and spring fun. But I hope that you take time to reflect on the real meaning of Easter, the life and atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Take time to read the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets about him and listen to music about him. Here is a moving presentation with photos and video depicting the Savior's life.


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