Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One more Taste of Fall Recipe!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes!
So, if you are still have leftover pumpkin, OR, squash puree  
(OR you have bags of puree in your freezer)
and you want a quick and easy sweet treat  that is the perfect amount of spice,
is very moist
uses basic food storage ingredients, 
is topped with delicious cream cheese frosting  
AND makes a batch of 24 cupcakes, this is a great recipe to make up.
(perfect to make up even at Christmas as the flavor reminds me of Spice Cake or Gingerbread)

It's delicious for an afternoon snack for kids, 
perfect to send in your families lunches, 
OR, to enjoy a "taste of fall" (OR, Christmas)
anytime of the year.

Easy, Delicious and Amazing!!  
Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes 
1 cup pumpkin/squash puree
1/2 cup buttermilk
(mix together buttermilk and squash puree in a bowl and set aside) 
1 cube butter
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 cups unbleached flour

Beat together butter, sugars and vanilla  for one minute until fluffy.
Then add in eggs (one at a time) scraping down bowl as needed
Then add in salt, baking powder/soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and mix well.
Then add in flour alternating with buttermilk/squash mixture until well combined.
Spoon batter into 24 muffin tins (lined with baking cups).
Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, OR, until toothpick inserted in comes out clean
Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes.
Remove cupcakes from tins and let cool one hour
Frost with cream cheese frosting and ENJOY!

Cream Cheese Frosting 
1/4 cup REAL butter
4 (oz) cream cheese
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
Beat together butter, cream cheese and vanilla until light and fluffy. 
Gradually add in powdered sugar, beating until smooth.

Enjoy a "Taste of Fall" all year long...
as long as you have pumpkin puree in your freezer
you can ALWAYS make these up to enjoy...
and take my kids word for them,
"they are absolutely delicious"!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Five Wonderful Days...

 Thanksgiving 2011 was a wonderful time
(although I had to work both the day before and day after Thanksgiving)

Tracy and the boys had five wonderful days off in a row together. 
I LOVED knowing that my boys got to have a few days of "one on one" with Tracy.  Dad's work SO hard providing for the the family, that sometimes they don't get as much one on one with the kids...
I love when these moments come around as my sweet Ethan, LOVES following Tracy everywhere, including the attic (where they spent hours pulling wires for our new lights Tracy installed this past weekend).  
Tracy and Ethan are the BEST of friends!  
It was SO priceless that Ethan kept asking 
"Are we going to go up to the attic again"... 
he loved the adventure of that SO much!

Here are some photos from our wonderful five days we had together as a family...
 Morning favorite time of the day!
It was such a treat to be able to enjoy the morning sun rising over the hilltops.  This time of the year I rarely get to enjoy it as I leave for work at 6:30 and it is still dark.
As I was baking in my kitchen on Thanksgiving morn 
I kept looking out the window and enjoying the spectacular view of the hilltops being lit up by the morning sun!
 Our yearly tradition of the Thanksgiving Choir Program 
at the Historic Tabernacle in Rexburg. 
 I LOVE this tradition...the music just feeds my soul and it is such wonderful thing to be with community members and running into people you haven't seen in awhile. 
I also love snuggling on the bench with the love of my life Tracy and seeing the excitement of my boys as they enjoy the program, especially this year, when the choir sang "Grandma's Feather Bed" and people were playing the wash board, spoons and the jug! We had lots of great laughs and were once again AMAZED with all of the musical talent we have in our area.
I had SUCH a wonderful morning 
doing what I love to do best...BAKING!
2 batches of rolls, 
2 coconut cream pies, Lemon Meringue pie 
and Pumpkin cookies!
People have told me I should open a Cafe or bakery and as tempting as that may be, it would take a hobby and make WORK of it and so I'll just stick to baking for fun! 

Needless to say, I enjoyed my morning greatly.

This shows we still have little kids in the family... 
LOVE the cute little pilgrims that Lisa and her kids colored. 
Holidays wouldn't be as fun without the LITTLE ONES that bring SO much joy to all of our lives! 

We bought new light fixtures last year 
when we installed our hardwood floor,  
but we barely got our life semi put back together before last Thanksgiving... 
and then the busyness of the holidays came and one day rolled into the next and here we were a year later with lights that we still hadn't installed. 
SO, since Tracy had to install 3 different lights and make NEW holes in the ceiling and run wire/power to them, he hasn't been too motivated to start on the project...
This is what having 4 days off in a row together is like...
 you actually get to make PROGRESS on home improvement projects. 
7 new halogen track lights,
New Chandelier over the dining room table
New Ceiling fan over by the parlor stove
AND 2 art glass pendants above our bar in the kitchen. 
LOVE how they all turned out.
Along with installing lights, we also hung some things on our walls.
(it's going to be the most exciting day of all, when our brassy kitchen cabinets 
have new knobs, hinges and a fresh coat of Beach Sand paint)
 This is the glow I woke up to Monday morning...
 LOVE how things are coming together in our home.
Someday, it will all be finished...for now I will enjoy what I have, which is WONDERFUL!

We have all been dealing with a 
really bad cold and sore throats.
Thank goodness for an awesome dad that takes a chicken carcass, boils it up with LOTS of onions, garlic and garden veggies and Cayenne Pepper and makes the yummiest, nutritious soup for us to enjoy to help us ward off the cough and flu season.
Soup is truly comfort food indeed!
 We have also gone through 
over nine pounds of limes/lemons 
 and 1-1/2 large jars of honey, making up mugs of our honey and lemon tea to soothe our throats and to give our bodies a boost of LOTS of Vitamin C. 
I think we are now all finally on the mend! 

 "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas"!
SO happy to say that at least one area of my house has 
had the magical touch of Christmas Cheer...

I love the centerpiece for our dining room table...
 the Christmas balls in my lime green jar are GORGEOUS, festive and give off such a warm glow in the afternoon sunshine!
Looking forward to getting the rest of my house decorated 
and for all of the FUN and TRADITIONS 
that the month of December brings!
(Christmas Cards, clam chowder, spiced cider, croissants, our home filled with Christmas music, the excitement of kids as they notice new gifts wrapped under the tree, gumdrop bread, cinnamon almonds, Grinch caramels, crab and artichoke dip, Caroling, Christmas parties, Christmas Omelets, enjoying BOXES of oranges/clementines, reading Christmas books, playing "Secret Santa", watching ELF and other family favorite holiday films, and the list goes on...)

Monday, November 21, 2011

What's on the menu for Turkey Day!

 I can't believe it is Thanksgiving week!  
I feel like November just flew on by!   
Thanksgiving dinner is always enjoyed at parents or siblings house on Tracy's side of the family.  However, I like to always do our own Thanksgiving dinner for just the four of us the weekend before Thanksgiving, usually because I have a turkey in the freezer from last year, that I need to get cooked up so I can purchase more turkey that is on sale.

I thought I would share our recipes that we make up for Thanksgiving dinner...
here are recipes that I use for 
Classic Stuffing, Baked Yams, Cranberry Relish,
California Fruit Salad and Lion House Rolls,
(PLUS, links to my pie recipes)

Classic Bread Stuffing!
Classic Stuffing...very moist and delicious
(This is my moms recipe from her Grandma Ussing...the only change I have added is the dried cherries and walnuts and I cut the butter down by half)

1 loaf of French Bread, sliced, cut into cubes and let sit 1-2 days 
(here for my French Bread recipe)

After bread crumbs have dried
(season bread crumbs well with)
2 heaping Tbsp. of Sage
1 heaping Tbsp. Poultry Seasoning
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt

Cook 1 cup of rice in 2 cups of boiling water 20-30 minutes until tender

Sautee together until very tender
2 Tbsp. butter
1-2 onions finely chopped
4 stalks chopped celery
In large metal bowl pour the cooked onions/celery over the seasoned bread crumbs
Add rice and stir well
(optional... we add in 1 cup dried cherries and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts)
Then add 3-4 cups chicken broth (start with 3 cups and if it seems like it needs more, add more in 1/4 cup at a time)
Put in greased casserole dish
Pour 2 Tbsp. melted butter over the top    
Cover and bake at 350 for about 60-75 minutes 


California Fruit Salad!
California Fruit Salad
(this is Tracy's moms recipe)
2 cups miniature marshmallows (colored OR plain)
1 can pineapple chunks
1 cup FRESH orange sections (or you can use 1 can mandarin oranges)
1 pomegranate peeled and seeded (the pomegranate makes it so yummy!)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup coconut
(chopped nuts optional)  
Mix all ingredients together—let chill for at least 1 hour.  Enjoy!  
(this is a Smith Family Turkey-day tradition)  

Fresh Cranberry Relish
Fresh Cranberry Relish
(from the back of the cranberry bag)
1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries
1 orange, peeled and sliced
blend together and then add in
3/4 cup sugar
Blend again
Chill until ready to serve.
This is SO yummy served on top of Turkey
Leftovers are also yummy served with cream cheese and crackers.

Baked Yams!
Baked Yams
1-2 large sweet potatoes peeled and chopped
3 apples peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 heaping Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp. butter
(sprinkle on about 1/4 cup water)
Cover with foil and bake at 350 about 1 hour until tender.

Lion House Rolls!
Lion House Rolls
2 cups HOT tap water 
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder (instant)
2 Tbsp dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter melted
1 egg
5-5 1/2 cups flour (unbleached flour)

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the water and the milk powder and stir so the milk dissolves.
Add the yeast to this mixture then the sugar, salt, butter, egg and 2 cups of the flour.
Mix on low speed of mixer until ingredients are wet, then turn to medium speed and mix for 2 minutes.
Stop the mixer and add 2 more cups of flour then mix on low speed until the ingredients are wet, then turn mixer on medium speed and mix for 2 minutes.
Add in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until you get a nice soft dough...The dough should be soft, not overly sticky, and not stiff.
Put the dough in a large metal bowl with 1 tbsp of olive oil and coat the dough well. (This helps prevent the dough from drying out.)
Cover bowl and allow to rise in a warm place until double in size. 
Sprinkle a cutting board or counter with flour and put the dough on the flour. It is now ready to roll out and cut into desired shape and size of rolls.
Place on greased baking pans. Let rise in a warm place until the rolls are double in size (approx. 1- hour)
Bake in a 375-degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until they are browned to your satisfaction.
Brush with melted butter while hot.
These are melt in your mouth, delicious!!
1/3 cup of butter is 6 Tbsp and so if you cut off the 6 Tbsp.
and set aside the remaining 2 Tbsp.
I use these 2 Tbsp. to melt and brush on the rolls
after you pull them out of the oven
and that way you only use 1 cube of butter to make the rolls

The Desserts!
(Links to dessert recipes!)
Pumpkin Pecan Bars

Happy a happy week, full of MUCH 
Thanksgiving and gratitude in your heart 
for all of the many things we are so abundantly blessed with!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Taste of Fall...

Pumpkin Pecan Dessert Bars!
Pumpkin + Spices + Pecans = Heaven!
  All you need to do is just try one bite of these yummy Pumpkin Pecan Dessert Bars and you will be hooked!

I'm still swimming in Squash puree as we have been given 2 Hubbard Squash and 4 Banana Squash from family and neighbors!   
So, what better thing to make up and use our abundance than another Pumpkin recipe. 

I have never been able to make a pumpkin pie and have it turn out. I know, it is supposed to be easy, but mine are usually too browned on the top and not completely cooked in the middle.  That is why I was SO excited to have found this yummy recipe. I adjusted the sugar in it as I didn't want it to be too sweet and also adjusted the spices a little as well and added in a little more flour.

It is the perfect blend of an oatmeal/pecan crust,
a custard like pumpkin filling and
topped with savory pecan nuts on the top
and is definitely at WINNER at our house!
The perfect accompaniment to any Thanksgiving Feast, 
or, when you're craving pie, 
but don't feel like making and rolling out a crust. 
Pumpkin Pecan Dessert Bars 

(topping...mix together and set aside)
1-1/2 cups pecan  pieces 
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. corn syrup

1 cube melted butter
1-1/4 cups unbleached flour 
1/2 cup rolled oats 
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Mix all ingredients together well and put into greased 9x13 pan and  
bake for 15 minutes.

While crust is baking make filling:
2-1/4 cups pumpkin/squash puree
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar 
1/3 cup unbleached flour 
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
Beat together pumpkin puree and sweetened condensed milk.
Add in rest of ingredients and beat until smooth. 
Pour over crust and bake 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and top with Pecan topping
Put back in oven and bake another 25-30 minutes until set
Remove and cool completely.  (keep chilled until serving)

Delicious, decadent, yummy, easy to make and 
definitely a great replacement for traditional Pumpkin Pie 
Enjoy a slice of Heaven today!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Some Moments to Remember...

as a working mom that gets home around 1:30 every afternoon,
has until 2:45 before she has kids running in the door,
it makes it where my blog doesn't get the attention I would like to give to it.
(it makes it where I don't have much computer time at all and I feel bad that I don't have the time I would like to keep in touch with those friends that mean SO much to me in my life)
It makes it where things get posted MUCH later than I would like them to.  
BUT, at least I have a place to journal my life
and so some days I have to say to's better late than never!!  

Today I am thankful for…
Family, Friends, Beauty, simple pleasures
and the sweet innocence of little children!

I got a big chuckle out of Ethan this past weekend when he made the following statement.  I had just gotten out of the shower and was putting on deodorant when he came in the room… 
”Mom, you mean girls wear deodorant too?”   
I had to laugh at how innocent and sweet he was.  I guess he thinks that since girls are pretty that they would never get stinky.     Truly a priceless moment!

So, here is my month in photos with everything from beauty, to happy and sad moments and everything in between.   
SO grateful for all of the “simple things” 
 that bring such a great glow of happiness to my life!
I love looking around my home this time of the year, 
when my fall d├ęcor is everywhere and looking at sweet things on my shelves 
that were gifts from family and friends. 
I always have happy thoughts when I look and see these.
Love this sweet door handle from Cherie…
I added it to the frame that Tracy made 
for my “Children” poster  
and it looks like an old door. 
LOVE this…
RED is definitely my new favorite decorating color.

The end of the Cross Country Season...
SO sad it has come to an end!
What a blessing it is to have so many WONDERFUL influences, coaches and friends in Jades life that truly care about him and want to see him succeed.  
I'm going to miss watching them all run each week!!

Finally having time to make Huckleberry Jam!
We ended up with 28 half pints of this yummyness!  
So excited to enjoy this on our weekend pancakes AND to have plenty on hand to be able to share with family and friends as well!  WOOT!

SADDEST moment of my life, when my sweet Ethan had to experience the sadness when our dog Butch was hit by a car.  

Ethan has never known life without Butch and this is the first time he has ever experienced the loss of a pet.   
These photos bring tears to my eyes, every time I look at how SAD he was…he has never cried harder in his whole life!
Tracy taking time out of his EVER so crazy and busy life to make a frame to hang our 3D Dracula. 
LOVE how it turned out and LOVE that I have a hubby that can make ANYTHING I ask him to!
He is truly a marvel, with SO MUCH TALENT! 

Gorgeous drive to 
Grand Teton National Park…
The colors were stunning, the drive was enjoyable the time spent together as a family enjoying great conversation, music and beauty was priceless!! 

 What a blessing for my sons to have a dad that ALWAYS takes time out of his busy schedule to help them with projects.
Here Tracy is helping Ethan add his wording and a picture to the SPIRIT rock for Scouts. 
(SO funny to me that Ethan pulled off his shirt as he didn't want to risk getting paint on his shirt). 
 And that’s why they call her the “Easter Egg Chicken”…
We purchased a new batch of baby chicks this spring and thought it would be fun to have at least one Ameracuana chicken, since they lay green and blue eggs.   
Well our hens have been laying eggs for the past month and a half, but all of our eggs have been brown. Imagine the EXCITEMENT that we had on one Sunday afternoon, when we went and gathered the eggs and there was a GREEN one waiting for us!
 Sweet packages in the mail for no reason at all, other than that someone wanted to let you know that they were thinking of you!
I love those days when there is sun shining in my windows 
 ALL afternoon 
 and love the gorgeous glow it gives to my great room and kitchen and the cool shadows and reflections it makes as well.
 Coming home to a sweet love note waiting for me on the counter after a long tiring day at work. 
What a blessing it is to be loved and cherished  
each day of my life!
  What an absolutely WONDERFUL life I have!

This quote perfectly sums up my life...
“When we recall the past, we usually find that it is the simplest things - not the great occasions - that in retrospect give off the greatest glow of happiness.”
–Bob Hope