Lion House Rolls

Lion-house-dinner-rolls-recipeLion House Rolls are amazing! Have you ever had them? If not you need to rectify that pronto and what better excuse then Thanksgiving.

The Lion House is a famous restaurant in Salt Lake City. There are also a number of Lion House Cookbooks. Some of my all time favorite recipes come from those cookbooks. They have a great Gingerbread Recipe. Sarah’s Salad is amazing and their rolls, Wow! They are just the best!

This fall I’ve been on a soup and roll kick and these delicious soft, chewy, perfect Lion House Rolls have been a repeat offender. We are crazy about them.

Besides being delicious they are fun to eat, you just unroll them as you go. YUM!

You can find the original recipe here, I make one small change when I make them. Instead of softened butter, I use melted (and then cooled) shortening. A number of years ago a FABULOUS southern cook told me her secret to delicious rolls and cakes was that instead of oil or butter she uses melted (cooled) shortening.

I’ve been experimenting with her theory, that it makes everything softer, more moist and fluffier, ever since. I must say there are certain recipes I really think it makes a difference in and this is one of them. Another is our favorite Jewish Apple Cake.

If using shortening freaks you out or goes against everything you stand for, just use butter, they will still be fantastic!


Lion House Rolls
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Fluffy, soft, chewy, amazing rolls. The texture is perfect and the presentation of the rolled rolls is unique and beautiful. Perfect for special Holiday dinners or for jazzing up a simple soup dinner.
Serves: 28 rolls
  • 2 cups warm water
  • ⅔ cup nonfat dry milk
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ⅓ cup shortening (melted and cooled)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 5 to 5½ cup all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • ⅓ cup butter, softened
  1. Add yeast to warm water, mix and let sit for one or two minutes. Add dry milk, sugar, salt, cooled melted shortening and slightly beaten egg.
  2. Use a whisk to combine all ingredients, Add two cups of flour and mix until very smooth. (about two minutes)
  3. At this point if you are using a stand mixer place bowl on mixer and using dough hook begin adding the remaining flour ½ cup at a time.
  4. Mix on low speed with the dough hook for 5 minutes or until dough is elastic and smooth. It may still be a little sticky, that is okay. Spray top of dough with cooking spray, cover with hand towel or plastic wrap and put in a warm place to rise.
  5. Allow to rise until doubled in size approx 1½-2 hours
  6. Punch down and divide into two pieces.
  7. Roll each piece (one at a time) out on a lightly floured surface. Making it into a 11x14 rectangle as best you can. (see picture at bottom of post)
  8. Spread softened butter onto surface of rolled out dough. I use my hands and about 2 tbsp of butter per rectangle of dough.
  9. Slice dough in half so you have tow long rectangle shapes. Use your hand as a guide and slice each skinny rectangle into 6 or 7 small rectangles. approx 2-3 inches wide and 5-6 inches long.(see picture at bottom of post)
  10. Roll each small rectangle up and place seam side down on a greased cookie sheet. Repeat until all rolls are seam side down on the cookie sheet.
  11. Cover cookie sheet with plastic wrap that you have sprayed with cooking spray and place in a warm spot to raise until doubled in size.. approx 30-45 minutes.
  12. Repeat with second section of dough.
  13. Once rolls are double in size bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned on the top.
  14. Immediately upon coming out of the oven brush the tops with softened butter (I dip a paper towel in the soft butter and rub it on the top of the rolls) Take rolls of cookie sheet and allow them to cool on a cooling rack.
  15. Enjoy


{Thursday Night 11/19/15} IEP Meeting and The Crib Dribbler

dinner 11-19-115Wow, I better hurry and get this typed before it isn’t Thursday anymore. It has been quite a day.

I had a baby shower tonight and was out a little late so after taking care of a few things when I got home I finally sat down to start typing this out and Conner came wandering in wrapped in a blanket and looking very distressed. “Mom! Did dad tell you yet?” I had no idea what he was talking about.

Apparently while I was gone dad decided to have them clean out Lucy’s, the hamster, cage. They were messing around with the old disgusting shavings and Conner started to have a little allergic reaction. Sim thought it was all drama so he pretended to wipe an oil that would “help” on Conner and put him to bed.

He rubbed Wild Orange and Frankensense on him which would not be helpful with anything allergy related.

When he came in to me he sounded like he was actually having a little hard time breathing, I rubbed him with the right oil (a mix of lavender, peppermint, and lemon) and gave him some Benedryl. We made him a bed on the couch next to me and within 5 minutes he was sound asleep and his breathing sounds much better.

Looks like we can add Hamster Urine to the things Conner is allergic to.

Soooo…now that that little episode is out of the way, I can get this post done.

Today was busy.

I feel like I say that every Thursday.

Sim had a Dentist Appointment this morning and I had an IEP for Thatcher so he was able to come home after his Dental appt. for a little while and stay with Trever and Charlotte so I wouldn’t have to get a babysitter.

The IEP was awesome! I love the teachers and staff at my boys school. They are so on it, and it makes IEP meetings a pleasure instead of a headache. The main concerns right now are articulation and Math….there are still small concerns with reading but not to the point where they feel like he needs summer school (ESY) for it, but they do feel like he needs it for Math and Articulation.

We went over much more then the summer school stuff, but I won’t bore you with the details besides telling you that I am beyond grateful for Thatchers awesome teachers and paraeducators.

I also spent about 20 minutes in each of the boys classrooms today for american education week. I went earlier this week but since I had a little extra time I surprised them today.

After the IEP I went home and secretly hoped Sim would say, “Hey, lets go to lunch really quick before I head back to work.” He didn’t and I know he can’t read my mind and I shouldn’t have been dissapointed that he didn’t…but I was. (he reads these posts so I am hoping he will take this subtle hint and make sure to say “Hey, lets go to lunch really quick before I head back to work,” next time he has to take the morning off for something.)

Charlotte and Trever were also very against him going back to work and did their best to get him to stay home.

don't leave dadI fed the kids lunch and put them down for naps. During nap time I made my own lunch and then quickly made a recipe I have been wanting to try. It was delicious and super easy and looks super beautiful and impressive but only takes minutes to make. Roasted Aasparagus Spears wrapped in Bacon. YUM!

I was going to serve them with dinner but Sim called to tell me not to make dinner because he was going to bring home a ton of leftovers from his office “Thanksgiving Party.”

Sweet. I guess the delicious bacon wrapped asparagus’s are free game then…

asparagus wrapped in baconI ate two, the boys each ate two for a snack when they got home form school and Sim ate what was left when he got home. Everyone agreed I should make them again. Thatcher said he wanted some for his lunch tomorrow. HA!

When Charlotte and Trever woke up we went (in the rain) to get the boys from school. We worked on homework and Charlotte and Trever made a huge mess played with palydough.

Sim got home and because he and Thatcher needed to leave for B-ball practice at 5:30 we needed to get things heated up and eat quickly.

Conner and I worked on the dishes while Sim got the food ready. Or maybe I worked on dishes while Conner made faces in the reflection of the window.

dinner r

Dinner was Turkey, Rice, Gravy, Cornbread Casserole, and Rolls….and coconut pecan cupcakes and caramel cake. It was yummy but I only had a couple bites because I knew I would eat a lot at the baby shower.

Sim is coaching Thatcher’s basketball team this year and tonight was there first practice. The practice goes from 5:45-7:00 which makes Sim really happy because he can still play basketball at 8:30 with the guys. But tonight I had a baby shower at 7:00 so when they left for practice (Conner went with them) I took the two little ones with me to get a baby gift. And then dropped the kids off to Sim at about a quarter to 7:00, so I could get to the shower.

rossThat sounds cut and dry but it got a little complicated when I realized that I had forgotten to make sure the stroller was still in the back of the van so Trever could sit in it like a nice boy while Sim finished the last 15 minutes of his practice.

The stroller was not in the back and when I pulled Trever out of his car seat I realized he was poopy (for the 5th time today) so I hurried to change him on the floor of the van as the Elementary Principal, who was in the IEP meeting with me this morning, came walking past.

Then when I got in the gym, there were three teams practicing in the gym because of some misunderstanding and there were about a million parents in there so I felt really awesome walking up to my husband who was “coaching” and handing him a baby, pointing to the toddler I left sitting on the side of the gym, and then walking out.

I can only imagine what anyone observing that transaction must have thought….

And now for my favorite thing that happened today. It was at the baby shower, which was really fun and there were lots of delicious appetizers and goodies. (I took my new favorite Brownies.)

At the shower, when she opened her presents one of them was a “Crib Dribbler.” The person who gave it to her told her how amazing it was and how it just “saved her” and then the friend next to her added, “Oh yes, we had one of those for Noah and it was the best! Absolutely the Best!

Half of the women in the room were looking around awkwardly, like. “Are they serious?” The other half were still trying to figure out what the heck it was. Someone grabbed the box and started reading the back which said things like. -Pictured with Cotton Candy Flavored Kids energy drink. And -Made form recycled syringes. There was a coupon on the back for an energy protein powder. It was about this time that the woman who gave it to her started encouraging her to open it and look at it. When she opened the box it had a different gift in it (baby towels and washcloths.) We all died laughing.

crib dribbler boxBest gag gift I have ever seen. It was hilarious. Turns out she got it at Target and said they have a bunch of different boxes like that for sale right now. Not just baby stuff but all kinds of funny things to throw people off.

I can’t wait to go see what else they have.

It was awesome!

Keep it Real!


P.S. how cute is Trever playing b-ball this morning. Sim had a great idea and put the one that hangs on the door in the boys room down on a chair so Trever could reach it. Don’t tell Sim I said this but he is kind of a genius!

basket trev


Easy No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie

Easy-Peanut-Butter-Pie-with-Chocolate-cookie-crust-recipe-Not only is this Easy No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie incredibly delicious, it’s also insanely easy to make. Like, so easy it’s almost embarrassing when people ask you for the recipe, easy. Basically you throw a few ingredients in your blender, pour it in a pie crust and refrigerate it for a few hours….

Exhausting, isn’t it.

If you like homemade chocolate cookie crust (like I do) instead of store bought, you’ll need to add another 10 minutes to other 10 minutes it takes to make the filling and put it in the fridge.

So even with a homemade pie crust this pie can be ready and in the fridge setting up in about 20 minutes. Boom Baby!

Easy-Peanut-Butter-Pie-with-Chocolate-cookie-crust-recipe-I like to make a quick cookie crust for mine. I use my food processor to crush the cookies into crumbs, but putting them in a gallon size Ziploc bag and using a rolling pin to crush them works great too, just takes a little elbow grease.

Easy-Peanut-Butter-Pie-with-Chocolate-cookie-crust-recipe-I use a plastic bag over my hand to help me stay clean while I press the cookie crust firmly into the pie tin.I use a plastic bag over my hand to help me stay clean while I press the cookie crust firmly into the pie tin.

I don’t bake my cookie crust, but you can if you want. If you want to you can cook it at 375 degrees for about 7 minutes. This step just makes the crust a little more solid, but I find it to make very little difference in the finished product and who has time for things that make little difference?

I use Oreo cookies or knock-off Oreo cookies and take the cream center out of half of them…I find it tastes the same and you might as well keep those calories out of it.
Easy-peanut-butter-pie-recipe-with-easy-chocolate-cookie-crustThe filling is just cream cheese, peanut butter, powdered sugar, whipping cream, and vanilla. It works great to make it in your blender but if you don’t have one you can use a hand mixer. If you use a hand mixer start by mixing the peanut butter and cream cheese together, add the powdered sugar and vanilla and then slowly add the cream until it is all thoroughly mixed and becomes nice and smooth.

I use a plastic bag over my hand to help me stay clean while I press the cookie crust firmly into the pie tin.Once you pour the filling into your homemade or store-bought chocolate cookie crust, spread it out evenly and then refrigerate for at least three hours or overnight.

When you are ready to serve the pie you can top it with Whipped Cream and chopped peanuts and crushed chocolate cookies if desired.

Easy No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie

Easy No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie
Prep time
Total time
Easy No-bake Peanut Butter Pie. Creamy, rich, sweet peanut butter flavor perfectly accented in a chocolate cookie crust. So easy even the kids can make it.
Recipe type: Peanut Butter Pie
Cuisine: No-Bake Dessert
Serves: 8
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • Extra Whipping Cream for Garnish
  • Peanuts and cookie crumbs for garnish if desired
  • 1 Chocolate Cookie Crust (store-bought or home made)
  • To make your own crust: Crush 18 Oreo's into crumbs (I use my food processor) Before crushing take creme filling out of half of them. Combine crumbs with 5 tbsp of melted butter. Mix thoroughly and press evenly and firmly into a 9 inch pie tin. I like to cover my hand with a plastic baggie when I do this to keep my hand clean. Set aside and fill with filling when filling is ready.
  1. Combine the Cream Cheese, Peanut Butter, Whipping Cream, Powdered Sugar and Vanilla in your blender and mix until smooth.
  2. If you do not have a blender use a hand mixer and combine the cream cheese and peanut butter first, add in the powdered sugar and vanilla and then slowly add the whipping cream until it is all mixed in and mixture is very smooth.
  3. Pour filling mixture into your prepared or store-bought chocolate cookie pie crust and immediately refrigerate for at least three hours of overnight.
  4. Before serving garnish with whipping cream, crushed peanuts and crushed Oreo's if desired.


{Thursday Night Post 11/12/15} A Musical and Hallelujah

I was craving enchiladas but went with a less labor intensive dinner because I really wanted to give the boys haircuts before we had to go to Conner’s musical tonight. (Conner has been begging me for a week to cut his hair.)

nov 12 dinnertableI prepped dinner while the boys got their homework done, threw it in the oven and hurried to cut the boys hair while it cooked. Trever missed out on the haircuts. I was planning to give him one but it turns out my idea of distracting him in his high chair with a big bowl of yogurt while I cut Conner and Thatcher’s hair didn’t turn out so well. By the time I was ready to cut his hair he had given himself a pretty amazing “yogurt treatment” and I didn’t have enough time to bath him and cut his hair, so…..he’s just going to have to wait.

Before haircutsnov 12 haircut before

After haricutsnov 12 haircut afterDinner was baked fish, some awesome roasted golden potatoes (they were soooo good) and peas. This was the “Picture Plate” I took pics so I can post the fish and potato recipes. Usually Thatcher eats the picture plate but tonight Conner called it first.

nov 12 dinnerI also made a small ice cream cake earlier (it’s Conner’s favorite) so we could celebrate his performance in the school musical.

IMG_63891222-78Thatcher and I went to watch his musical tonight (Dad and Char went yesterday.) Normally I would take him out to get an ice cream or treat after but Dad has b-ball on Thursday Nights and he really wanted to go, so I made the ice cream cake and we came home, got in jammies and watched an episode of America’s Funniest Video’s while we enjoyed the ice cream cake.

Sidenote: Only one other guy showed up to b-ball tonight so dad was home by 9:00 and I was like, “What? I could have had Cold Stone….” Oh well, our ice cream cake was yummy too and we couldn’t have cuddled up and watched a show at Cold Stone.

Conner did a great job in the musical. There were just a couple times when I knew he should be on stage with the other Knights and I was like, “looks like someone is distracted…wonder what he is doing backstage…” and then all the sudden the curtain would  crack open and a little knight would slip into the back of the scene. This happened no less then three times and also happened when all the knights were coming onto the stage for their final bow and applause.

conner joust nov 12

After the musical they asked if people would be willing to help put chairs away. Putting chairs away happens to be Thatcher’s specialty so he was all over that. In the sea of people it was hard to keep an eye on him.

nov 12 sea of peopleAfter all of the chairs were put away I still couldn’t see him. I was just starting to panic a little when I decided to go out of the gym and check in the hall. When I was about to walk out I saw this…

Nov 12 thatch door holderA cute boy holding both doors for everyone. What a Gentleman.

Thatcher made me laugh when I was pulling his covers over him tonight. (He has a particular tuck in process.) He quietly told me that he actually liked “Dig it,” last years musical better than “Joust.” Turns out even a gentleman can still be a critic.

As for the rest of our day, Charlotte had preschool and always sits perched in the window watching for her ride.

nov 12 tnpTrever was being extra cute this morning and was trying to shut himself in the door.

IMG_630512121212nov 12 tnp doorOnce we got the boys to school Trever and I hit the gym for a spin class and then hit a couple grocery stores (taking advantage of the fact that Char was going directly to a friends from preschool.) Mommy got to shop without her boss telling her what to do and how to do it. It was kinda great.

One of the grocery stores we go to is Aldi and at Aldi you either bring your own bags or buy theirs. I totally forgot my bags and I’m too cheap to buy bags so we just stacked it in the back. The whole, forgetting my bags, seems to be happening a lot lately. I always forget to put them back in the back of the van after I use them….

nov 12 grocI was able to stop at home and unload most of the groceries before going to pick up Charlotte at her friends.

We came home and she helped me make the ice-cream cake (she has no idea what it was for or she would have cried and begged to stay up late and have some with us…in fact, I let her stay awake and play with play dough during her regular nap time because I wanted her to be completely asleep when we got back from the play tonight.

My plan worked.

And now, even though I just ate ice cream cake, all I can think about is Conner’s gigantic bag of Halloween Candy hiding by his bed…pretty sure I need to go “inspect” a few pieces.

Keep it Real!


P.S. For those of you that read last weeks post, I’m feeling sooo much better, like a huge weight is off my shoulders and I’m basically walking around singing Hallelujah all day long. No really I am literally walking around singing Hallelujah all day. Technically I think it is called “Good to be Alive,” but I call it the Hallelujah song and I love it. So do the kids, our neighbors may or may not be witnessing some pretty incredible dance moves if they time looking in our windows just right.


Cranberry Fluff Salad with Apples and Walnuts

Cranberry Apple and Walnut Fluff Salad Cranberry Fluff Salad with Apples and Walnuts

This salad is AMAZING! One of the best things I’ve ever eaten and an absolute must for your Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner.

I love the mix of tangy, sweet and creamy flavor in every bite! Trust me, you’ll be praising my name for sharing this recipe with ya.

Last year my friend Heather casually mentioned that her family has a tradition of eating this yummy cranberry salad with Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving had past so I decided to put it on our Christmas Dinner menu. It was FANTASTIC, definitely my favorite part of the whole meal and I will never, NEVER let another Thanksgiving or Christmas pass without making this mind blowing recipe.

One of the most exciting things about this recipe is it doesn’t get it’s flavor from a Jello packet (don’t get me wrong I love almost every Jello Salad known to man) but this salad gets all of it’s awesomeness from the cranberries, apples, walnuts, sugar and whipping cream, With just five ingredients, it’s a no-fuss, quick recipe…the only thing is you have to remember to prepare the cranberries (crush them and sprinkle them with the sugar) the night before.

Cranberry Apple Walnut Fluff Salad
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 12
  • 1 bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 large gala apple
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  1. Use a food processor to finely chop the cranberries add sugar to cranberries, mix well and refrigerate over night
  2. cut the apple into tidbit size pieces
  3. Using a hand mixer whip the whipping cream until it stiffens and can hold it's shape.
  4. Add whipped cream, walnuts and apples to cranberry mixture and mix well.

{Thursday Night 11/5/15} Alphabet Soup and Inner Turmoil

Before I get to much into the inner turmoil that is my life right now…to the point that I had my first full on Anxiety Attack two days ago, lets talk about alphabet soup.

Chicken Noodle Soup alphebet 11-5-15Who knew Alphabet Soup is the most underrated dinner in the world. Turns out if you put alphabet noodles in soup your kids will fight over setting the table and laugh and smile all the way through dinner…it’s like magic.

alphabet soup 11-5-15Other news from the day.

Charlotte has decided to set a trend of having one small braid on one side and the rest of your hair pulled into a pony tail on the other side (I am pretty sure I remember a similar trend in the  late-eighties/early-nineties, so it makes sense that it is about time for it to come back)

side braid 11-5-15She is such a trend setter. That lovely crib full of toys is her idea of cleaning up the play room. She threw everything into the baby crib and was on her way to put it in her bedroom when I snapped this pic.)

And this is how I found her at naptime. I love it that she has her baby tucked in next to her. You can’t see it but the baby has a bottle by her mouth too. So cute. It does my heart good to see sweet things like this from my Char Char, because she sometimes isn’t so cute when she is awake.

nap 11-5-15Trever has decided that only he can throw his dirty diapers out the back door and starts yelling before I am even done changing him because he is worried I am going to do it and not let him.

diaper bou 11-5-15…and is it just me or his eyes exactly the color of his shirt today. (He is even more my twin then I thought. My eyes change color with what I wear too.)

Thatcher forgot to bring his math homework home on Mon and Tues of this week so he had quite the stack of homework tonight, which is unfortunate because Thursdays are already notorious for meltdowns.

homework t 11-5-15I did everything in my power to try and advert a major melt down to the point that I even let him pick a few Halloween candies to eat while he did his work….and I’m not exactly proud of it…but I may have pretty much given him the answers for an entire worksheet…..

Conner had practice for the musical today after school, When he got home he was good to quickly come in and start his math homework. When I checked on him this is what I got.

homework 11-5-15“Mom, you have know idea what I am going through right now.”

Apparently it is really hard to think of items around the house that have numbers with a decimal in them.

He also wasn’t super thrilled to have to practice two days worth of trombone time because he didn’t do it yesterday.

trombone 11-5-15Being nine is super hard. Almost as hard as being seven.

After dinner we set the clocks (the ones Thatcher can see) up an hour so we could co-erce him into going to bed early. He has been super tired and waking up way to early since day light savings time.

We were hurrying to have family scriptures and prayers before getting him to bed, and then something really awesome happened during scriptures.

Conner isn’t typically in-tune or aware to needs of others around him. He loves his siblings but it is pretty rare for him to show genuine emotion or give them any kind of physical attention and it is even more rare for him to notice their needs and do something about it.

Trever was having a hard time being happy during scripture time and definitely didn’t want to sit still. He was annoying Charlotte and it was making it hard for everyone to hear dad reading the scriptures. Then all of the sudden Conner said he had an idea and he picked Trever up and started doing the “I went to the barber shop to get all of my hair cut off….” little song thing with Trever. (He has seen me do it to Trever and knows that it makes him really happy.)

Because we were trying to hurry and get kids in bed, my first reaction was to tell him to stop, but then it hit me that this was basically the first time Conner had taken initiative to try and make Trever happy without us having to point it out or ask him to help.

barber shop 11-5-15It was making Trever so happy to. Sim and I (we were sitting across the room from each other) exchange a knowing look of “this is more important then reading the last two verses of the page of scripture we were trying to finish.” Conner was actually laughing and engaged with playing with his baby brother and it was making the whole family smile and happy. Of course Thatcher and Charlotte wanted to get in on the action and Conner was nervous when Thatcher wanted a turn with Trever, he didn’t think he was strong enough, so he went and got pillows to put under him. It was really sweet and made my mommy heart so happy.

And now everyone is asleep and Dad went to b-ball so here I am alone with my thoughts and a computer screen.

I’m feeling pretty nervous about finally opening up to what’s been causing me some serious inner turmoil the last few weeks/months. A lot of what I’ve been going through and feeling is really personal and it’s a scary thing to put it out there. I think I feel extra nervous about it because I’m pretty sure the only people who read these Thursday Night Posts are my family members and friends and I don’t want to sound like a Debbie Downer…

So I’ve put off talking about it for a few weeks, but everything seems to have come to a head this week with a really scary panic attack two nights ago and I think it is time that I owned up to what has been making me feel like I might lose my mind.


So, here is the thing about blogs. THEY.TAKE.ALOT.OF.WORK. We’re talking hours and hours and hours…if you want it to be successful that is.

There’s always something more you could be doing. Always.

Always, Always, Always.

I started Real Life Dinner because I had an experience that made me feel like “this” is what God wanted me to do. That “The Blog” would be a way that I could bless my family and bless others.

From the get go I knew that if I ever started making any money off of the blog I wanted to use part of it to help young people who had a desire to serve as missionaries for my church, but because of lack of funds, would not be able to afford to go on a mission.

It costs $400.00 a month to support a missionary and there are many young people, especially in Third World Countries, who would never be able to afford to serve a mission without donations from other members of the church.

I served as a missionary for my church for 18 months in Sacramento California and it was an experience of epic proportions. Amazing, hard, fulfilling, exhausting, soul-stretching, self-reflecting, heart-breaking, testimony building, and just an overall incredible experience.

Because I had reassuring feelings that this (the blog and helping missionaries) is what God wanted me to do, I had faith that He would make me capable of everything I needed to do and know in order to run a blog. I was really hoping it also meant that He would make it easy for me.

Not so much.

Have you seen that quote going around Facebook, “Faith can move mountains, but don’t be surprised when God hands you a shovel.”

That basically sums up my life.

This experience of starting a blog and trying to grow it has stretched me in ways I could never have anticipated.

The fact that I am tech-illiterate hasn’t really helped matters. There have been days that I have literally had to scream into a pillow to keep from pulling my hair out. Things that take me two weeks to figure out most likely take the average blogger about 20 minutes to figure out. Seriously I’m that amazing!

It’s basically a miracle that I’ve even gotten the blog to this point. When I stop and think about that, I can definitely see that God has had His hand in everything so far. But it’s hard to keep that perspective when I start feeling like I’m drowning and will never be able to have time or make time to do all the things that need to be done to grow a blog.

My competitive nature drew me into becoming part of a bunch of Food Blogger Facebook Groups In hopes that I could learn more of what I can do to grow the blog.

Well, I have learned a lot of what I could be doing to grow the blog, but instead of moving me to action, it has overwhelmed me to the point that I don’t even know where to start so I just sit and stare at the screen and do nothing because it’s all too overwhelming.

All of the people in the groups seem so confident and know what they are doing and have all these awesome things they’ve figured out that help them grow their Pinterest following or get more ‘shares’ on Facebook. I want those things too, but most of the time what they are saying either goes over my head or takes a huge chunk of time that I just can’t cut out of my crazy life.

Over the last few weeks, the feelings of overwhelmment (I’m making that a word) have gotten so bad I literally have almost become paralyzed when it comes to blog stuff. I’ve even lost my appetite (which is what drives me to create new recipes) and that has literally never happened to me before. It scares me.

I know I need to start doing videos, I know I need to pin more and make more posts on my other social media pages, I know I need to title my posts better so they have better SEO ranking, I know I need a better camera and better lenses to take better pictures so people will be more likely to pin my images, I know I need to go back through all my old post and take better pics and go through them to make sure they are SEO optimized. I know I need to focus on newsletters (something I have never even done yet, because…guess what? I can’t figure it out.) I know I need to finish writing my e-book…the list goes on and on.

Thinking about all of these things I know I need to do, that I see all the other bloggers in my groups doing, is not good for me.

It all came to a head the other night and I realized how completely overwhelmed I am by it all when I was talking to my husband and started having a full on panic attack. It scared me so bad. For the last two days since I still feel an unnatural amount of anxiety and like I could slip back into that panic attack at any moment…not a good feeling.

After lots of self-reflection and prayer today I have realized/decided that this is not what God wants me to be feeling. I am a competitive person and I will always feel like I need to keep up with those I see running ahead of me. It can be a good thing sometimes, but right now it’s definitely not.

I’ve decided to cut out almost all of the blogging groups I’m a part of so that my Facebook feed will not be flashing “Why aren’t doing that” or “hey, you should do that too” signs in my face all day long.

When I started the blog, I loved everything about it. It was fun! I want it to be fun again and I know that for the competitive spirit in me that means that I need to take a step back, a huge step, from caring about what anyone else is doing and go back to doing what works for me, even if it’s not the most effective way to grow a blog. I have faith that this little blog will grow with the effort I am able to give, if it is meant to be.

It feels good to have made this decision….It seems so clear now. Why was I being such a basket-case about it. Ahhh, life!

Thanks for listening and thanks for being my extra special supporters who actually read these Thursday Night Posts.

I love you guys!

Keep it Real!


Italian Sausage and Peppers Lasagna Roll-ups

Italian-Sausage-and-Peppers-Lasagna-roll-ups-recipeWe’re huge fans of Italian food at our house. One of our favorites is Sausage and Peppers. Last time I got the craving for there awesome flavor, I decided to combine the recipe with another one of our favorites, lasagna. The results were delicious and the fact that I made the Italian Sausage and Peppers Lasagna into “Roll-ups” made dinner even that much more exciting for the kids.

They think “roll-up” anything is totally swicked! (sweet and wicked…and that is a good thing)

This recipe is made with basic ingredients. Onions, Peppers, Garlic, Sausage…I love to use ricotta cheese, but if you don’t have any ricotta on hand, cottage cheese works well too.

We prefer to smother these roll-ups with our favorite spaghetti sauce, we’ve become spaghetti sauce snobs….you will too once you try that recipe. It’s the bomb!

Italian-sausage-and-peppers-lasagna-roll-ups-recipe-I’ve started making Lasagna Roll-ups on a fairly regular basis, and I have been experimenting with different fillings. We loved these Zucchini and Sausage ones a few months ago and I am excited to make Creamy Leftover Turkey and Stuffing Roll-ups after Thanksgiving in a few weeks.

If you haven’t ever made lasagna roll-ups, I challenge you to give them a try and if you have made them but haven’t in a while, put them on the menu for this week. Just roll with it.

Sausage and Peppers Lasagna Roll-ups
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The delicious flavors of Italian Sausage and Peppers melded together in a filling for Lasagna. Rolled up in individual servings and topped with the most amazing spaghetti sauce. Perfection!
Serves: 6
  • 12 lasagna noodles, cooked to al-dente according to package directions
  • 1 lb Italian Sausage links, remove casings
  • I medium onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 16 ounce container of Ricotta Cheese
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, optional
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 3-4 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • Parsley for garnish, optional
  1. In a large frying pan, cook sausage, onion, peppers and garlic until sausage is completely cooked and veggies are tender.
  2. Add Ricotta cheese, Parmesan if you choose to use it, sugar, salt and pepper.
  3. Stir until well combined.
  4. Place 1 cup of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan
  5. spread 1/12 of the filling on a lasagna noodle (I do this on a cutting board..see picture) and roll up the noodle and place it on the sauce in the 9x13 pan. Repeat with remaining 11 lasagna noodles.
  6. When all 12 noodles are in the pan cover with remaining spaghetti sauce, cover with foil and put in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove foil and sprinkle the roll-ups with mozzarella cheese and return to oven for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted
  8. Sprinkle with parsley for garnish if desired.

{Thursday Night 10/29/15} An Ear Infection and a Meat Eater

tn oct 29Next time I need to keep Trever occupied for a few minutes during the “get everyone ready for school” part of the morning, please remind me that a green marker and a piece of paper is not the way to go.

Charlotte had a special Trick or Treat day at preschool.

tn char trickortreat oct 29She goes to a preschool within a highschool and they had the kids trick or treat around to all of the classrooms, needless to say she came home with quite a score. She dressed up as Belle and her friend Alivia was a cupcake.

tn bell and cupcake oct 29Charlotte was generous and gave one of her 10 goodie bags to Thatcher, he was super grateful!

tn treats oct 29Thatcher was home from school today with an ear infection and a fever. When his medicine was kicked in he was quite chiper and I kept second guessing my decision to keep him home. Then the medicine would wear off and his temp was back to 103 degrees and I would remember all over again why I decided to have him miss school.

I felt bad that I dragged him around to do errands and by the last one he was walking pretty slow and holding his head/ear the whole time. I didn’t have any Ibuprofen or Tylenol in my purse so as soon as we walked in the house I got him some ibuprofen. Poor baby!

tn ear ache oct 29That boy has had A LOT of ear infections in his life. All of which were before age three. He had tubes twice and got his adenoids and tonsils out. Since then ear infections have been few and far between, but this one is a doozy. He won’t let us even touch his ear. He keeps crying about how much it hurts and holds his head and says it hurts so bad it is giving him a headache. Poor guy. I hope the z-pack he started yesterday starts working quickly.

Charlotte was super excited to play with the little packs of play dough that she got trick-or-treating at school, Trever climbed up by her and picked up a pencil that was at the table and started acting like he was going to write with it. When I looked over at him he was holding it perfectly. It was so adorable I tried to quickly grab the camera to get a picture before he put it down. I wasn’t fast enough to get the adorable grip but I did snap a picture anyway and I accidentally caught someone “tasting” her play dough.

tn playdoughlick oct 29So you know that whole “being out on errands” thing I mentioned earlier, well…..we were gone for a significant amount of time. Dropped Conner at school, went to the gym, picked Charlotte and Alivia up at preschool, took Alivia home, stopped at the store. We are talking a good 4 hours or so away from the house.

Well…during that four hours Maria may, or may not, have left a jar of honey on the stove in a pot of simmering water because earlier when she was about to make the boys pb and honey sandwiches for their lunches she realized the honey was hard and sugary and she had learned her lesson about putting honey in the microwave (remember that awesome day) and decided to do the responsible thing like Sim does and put it in simmering water on the stove-top for a few minutes……

tn honey oct 29By some miracle after the four hours of simmering nothing had exploded. It was close though, there was only a tiny bit of water left in the bottom of the pan and if I would have been gone much longer I am pretty sure the glass bottle would have eventually broken or exploded or who knows what.

I think I will retire from ever using, touching or looking at jars of honey ever again.

Another fun thing that happened today….I was trying to really quickly throw together a batch of my new absolute favorite brownies before I put Trever and Charlotte down for their naps so I could take a quick shower and be done just in time to pull the brownies out of the oven because I needed them to have plenty of time to cool before I took them to some ladies from church later in the afternoon. (it all made sense in my head)

So, I was looking a little like a tasmanian devil as I buzzed around the kitchen trying to get the brownies ready while simultaneously removing a crazy 17 month old from the top of the dining room table over and over again. Some people just love to live dangerously.

I got it all ready but just needed to sprinkle a little course sea salt on top. I went to grab the sea salt, but to my chagrin it was not in it’s regular place. I looked in every other spot it could possibly have been accidentally placed, including the fridge and the freezer.

I couldn’t find it anywhere.

I looked in all of the places again, the baking cupboard, the spice drawer, the cupboard with canned goods and grains/legumes, the fridge, the freezer…where was that dang sea salt.

I really needed to get these brownies in the oven, I could put them in without the sea salt, but it really makes them extra amazing so in a last ditch effort I called Sim to see if he might know where it was.

Of course his first question was, “did you look in the spice drawer.” To which I sarcastically replied, “Yes Dear, three times. I’m not a man or a little kid, I actually look in all of the possible places something could be before I ask someone to help me find it.”

(I may or may not have a husband who is notorious for asking me where something is before he has looked in the obvious places.) ex: Sim: “Have you seen the milk?” Me: “Did you look in the fridge, on the door?” Sim: “Oh, there it is.” ….it’s a bit of a pet peave….

Anywho, as I was replying to his “did you look in the spice drawer” question. I happened to be standing right by it so I dramatically opened it as if he could see me doing so and the sea salt may or may not have miraculously appeared in it. Up at the very left hand corner blending in to all the other spices. Most wives may have laughed and said, oh look at that, there it is. Oops.

tn seasalt oct 29
Not me, I just said. “You know what, don’t worry about it, I’ll keep looking. See you when you get home.”


I sprinkled the sea salt on, put those kids to bed and enjoyed a nice refreshing shower. Showering without the possibility of a kid coming in and pulling back the curtain is such a luxury these days.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur, but I do remember eating dinner.

I made pork chops tonight even though it wasn’t on the menu for the week. I found them on sale at the store and decided they sounded really good, so Baked Ziti got vetoed.

Trever was pretty hilarious at dinner. While we were getting everything to the table and situated we looked over to see Trever with a huge pork chop in his hands, chowing down. Apparently we left him a little too close to the pan of pork chops.

tn porkchops oct 29I love his expression in this picture, he’s like, “What? I like pork chops, deal with it.” And we did attempt to take it from him and cut it in smaller pieces…that didn’t go so well so Trever ate his pork chop Cave Man Style.

tn porkchop oct 29(look at poor Thatch in the background…sure hope that cutie is feeling better tomorrow.)

Hope you had a great Thursday!

I would love to hear what you had for dinner. You can leave me a comment here or over on my Facebook page.

Keep it Real!!!

German Chocolate Brownies

German-Chocoalte-Brownie-Recipe-real-life-dinnerIn college my roommate Ashlee was obsessed with German Chocolate Brownies. She got me hooked. She made them from a box mix, I can’t remember which brand, but she would bring one back almost every time she went home for a visit and was generous enough to share them with me when she made them

They were ridiculous, in the best way of course. So chewy and delicious with the perfect amount of caramel-y coconut and pecan goodness swirled into every bite.

Those were the days!

Fast forward a decade or so…

I was pregnant and craving those very specific brownies, and to my horror, they had disappeared off the shelves.


I was so distraught.

I had to make do with regular brownies and very likely cried myself to sleep that night.

Even though I’m no longer pregnant and not having a crazy craving, I do think about those darn German Chocolate Brownies more often than, I am sure, is normal or healthy.

Who knows why it took me so long, but this week I was like. “Duh, Maria! Why don’t you make your own version.”

I jumped right to it, and holy smokes folks! I hit it out of the park! These are just like the delicious German Chocolate Brownies from my past and SOOOOOO DAAANG GOOOOOOD!!!

I have included a few pictures below to help show you how to get the caramel coconut filling swirled in nicely and also  picture and some instructions for the toasted coconut.

**To toast coconut in microwave, put one cup of coconut in a microwave safe dish. Cook on high for 30 seconds and then stir, repeat 2 times and then cook for 15 second intervals, stirring in between until coconut is as toasted as you prefer.


Scoop large spoonfuls of filling onto brownie batter, evenly spaced apart. Use a butter knife to drag lines, one inch apart, back and forth across the pan like above, then turn the pan and do the same thing going the other length of the pan. It will look like the picture below.German-Chocolate-Brownies-recipe-

German Chocolate Brownies
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Chewy Chocolate Brownie swirled with caramel, coconut an pecans. I sprinkled a little sea salt over everything before baking and ooo la la, we have a winner! (I have made these will all different brands of Brownie Mix. In my opinion they turn out the best with Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge flavor.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 20
  • 1 regular brownie mix, prepared with ½ cup oil, ¼ cup water and 2 eggs (I prefer the Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix)
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 tbsp Karo Syrup
  • 1 cup toasted coconut flakes*see post for instruction to do toast coconut in the microwave
  • ¼-1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • course sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix up brownie mix as directed above and pour into a lightly greased (use cooking spray) 9x13 pan.
  3. In a small sauce pan combine the brown sugar, milk, butter and karo syrup. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Once mixture reaches a full boil, continue boiling and stirring for exactly three minutes
  4. Remove from heat and stir in toasted coconut and chopped pecans.
  5. Drop coconut mixture by the spoonful evenly through out brownie batter*See picture above in post
  6. Using a butter knife, cut lines into the batter going back and forth, one inch apart and then accross as well to create swirled look.
  7. Sprinkle entire pan with coarse sea salt if desired.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 28-30 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool completely before attempting to cut. They will be very gooey until they have cooled and set.
  10. If you want you can serve them warm with ice cream but you will need to scoop them out with a spoon because they will not be set yet.

The Best Chili EVER


We have an adopted Grandma that we met when we lived in NJ. We adopted her and she adopted us, I can’t really remember how or when it happened, but it happened and we LOVE having a third Grandma.

The best part is she lives a lot closer then our other grandparents so she comes to visit us every couple months and we occasionally invade her space with all six of us….yikes, she’s a good sport.

She is also an awesome cook! Last time we were at her house she made the absolute BEST CHILI I HAD EVER HAD IN MY LIFE! I begged her to tell me exactly how she made it and she ever so kindly did, so now I can share it with you.

It’s a hearty, meaty chili and it has a nice kick to it. She used hot italian sausage in hers for part of the meat so it was extra hot. When I made it for my family I used sweet Italian sausage so it wasn’t as hot. But even with the sweet this recipe has a nice amount of heat. My kids didn’t complain, but I think they would have (well everyone but Thatcher…he likes heat) if I would have used the Hot Sausage.

Thick-and-hearty-chili-with-a-little-spice-recipeI could gush for hours about how much I love this chili, it is truly the best chili I’ve ever had! There’s something a little interesting about it that I didn’t see coming….it is, in part, seasoned with a taco seasoning packet. WHAT??!!!

thick and hearty chili with a little spice

I would have never guessed it had a taco seasoning packet in it. Give this delish recipe a try and see if you don’t come away screaming that you have a new favorite chili recipe. I HAVE A NEW FAVORITE CHILI RECIPE!!!!!!!!

The Best Chili EVER
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Bring on the Chili Cook-offs, this recipe will make you a winner. BEST CHILI I HAVE EVER HAD!
Recipe type: Chili
Cuisine: Dinner
Serves: 8
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, approx 2 tbsp crushed
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 4 links sweet Italian Sausage, remove casings. (use hot Italian sausage if you like lots of heat)
  • 1 (29 ounce) can of plum tomatoes(you chop them) or just get regular diced tomatoes if you don't want the trouble
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (1.25) ounce packet of McCormick Hot Taco Seasoning Mix
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  1. In a large pot, Saute the diced onion in the olive oil for 3 minutes add garlic and saute 1 more minute
  2. add ground beef and sausages with casings removed.
  3. Cook until meat is cooked through
  4. Add all other ingredients and allow chili to simmer for at least 30 minutes
  5. Serve with corn chips and cheese if desired.

{Thursday Night 10/22/15} Early Risers and Procrastinators Anonymous

tnp missionary 10 15It really doesn’t take much to keep me happy. Really it doesn’t. I just need food and at least 6 hours of sleep. That second half of the equation doesn’t exactly mix well with motherhood and despite my best efforts at adjusting, it’s nearly impossible for me to be happy or patient with a child over the age of 3 that interrupts or makes that important process impossible.

Last night, at about 9:00 pm Charlotte started screaming out and woke up Trever who then deliriously screamed for about 90 minutes. Nothing made him stop, except standing and bouncing (which in 90 minute intervals is just awesome on the back.) He was refusing to go to Sim so I got to deal with the angry baby.

Combine that with the three other screaming in the night episodes Charlotte had and her eventually waking Trever up with her screams at 6:00 am when I had a good thirty minutes of sleep time left….and you have a recipe for “Ornery, Morning Mom.”

“Ornery, Morning Mom” isn’t very nice. She threatens to give children spankings and huffs and puffs a lot while she pours cereal into bowls. She also has no patience for girls who cry and whine about getting their hair done for preschool and may or may not brush it a little rougher then necessary, just because. I’m telling you, she is kind of a beast….not someone you want to mess with if you know what I mean.

You would think her kids would catch on that she comes out every time they wake her before 6:30 but that day has yet to come…

tnp oct 22 15If only “Ornery, Morning Mom” could wake up like that red headed tap dancer, happy and oblivious to the pain she has caused……

Don’t worry, “Ornery, Morning Mom” was gone by about 8:40 am and regular mom was left in her place.

tnp 10 15 spin classRegular mom went to the gym and decided to be brave and try a spin class. Something she hasn’t done in over five years because the last experience was so painful. (Regular mom broke her tailbone delivering her first child and still has to be a little careful with her derriere.) But, she actually kind of loved it and it wasn’t anywhere near as terrible as the last one she did, so that was exciting!

Regular mom picked up Charlotte and her friend Alivia from preschool and then went home to make lunch for the kiddos. During nap time “Procrastinator Mom” was supposed to use yesterday and today (the two nicest weather days this week) to finish painting a large piece of furniture in the garage that she started painting 2 months ago.) “Procrastinator Mom” did not do it yesterday and today she accidentally fell asleep during nap-time. (Luckily she prepped dinner before she fell asleep or she would have been in big trouble tonight…so at least she didn’t procrastinate that.)

tnp paint 10-15When she woke up she just couldn’t handle what a procrastinator she is so she let Charlotte watch shows on the iPad and strapped Trever in the stroller while she quickly painted one more coat of primer on it before hurrying to the school to pick up Thatcher. (Conner had to stay for play practice)

We walked to the school to pick up Thatcher, so by the time we got back I only had one hour until the Missionaries were going to be here for dinner and the house was a WRECK!!!

Dad had to pick up Conner on his way home from work, so he wouldn’t get here until about five minutes before the missionaries would arrive so I basically turned into “Chicken with her head cut off MOM,” running around trying to clean and cook and help Thatcher with his homework and keep Trever happy all at the same time. That should be considered for an Olympic event.

tnp mom fansAnd in case you are wondering how to get your child’s attention or to get them to not leave your side, just act really busy and turn on a hot oven and hot stove. Works every time…..babies especially come running.

This was their stance after I told them they to stay out of the kitchen. I’m actually surprised it worked so well….wait, maybe there was a threat of no dessert if they didn’t listen involved…I can’t remember.

So while I was running around with my head chopped off I was trying to remember why I scheduled the missionaries to come at 5:00 instead of 6:00…then I remembered it’s because Thatcher has soccer practice at 6:00 on Thursdays.

Remember how I went to the gym this morning…well I still hadn’t showered (I was hoping to work that in at some point today, but it just didn’t happen) and I still hadn’t combed my hair or put make-up on and was hoping to at least swipe on some mascara, but it was either mascara or quickly sweep the horrific mess under the table before they got there and I couldn’t handle how gross the floor looked so, mascara lost out…I did at least change my clothes before I went to get Thatcher from school, so I was out of the sweaty stinky clothes I’ve worn to the gym the last two days in a row when they got here, so that was good, right?!

I made one of my favorite casseroles and my favorite rice for dinner. I experimented with a German Chocolate Brownie recipe for dessert and it was awesome! Gonna have to get that posted.

After dinner the missionaries always give us a spiritual thought or mini lesson. It always goes a little something like this.

tnp miss 1015tnp crazyI just love the look on the one Elders face, he’s like, “Did you seriously just take a picture of us?” And I’m like, “Yep, now hurry and take a candid one of us.” Cause it’s Thursday night and this is how we do!



Family Size Barbecue Chicken Tin Foil Dinner

Family-Tin-foil-packet-dinner hobo dinnerThis Family Size Barbecue Chicken Tin Foil Dinner came about because there’s something about dinner cooked in tin foil that gets my kids all excited.

I can’t blame them, I love things a little more when they’ve been cooked in tin foil too.

Some people call these Hobo Dinners or Foil Packet Dinners. We call them Tin Foil Dinners and they are one of our favorite meals to make when we go camping….which isn’t often so we also like to make them at home with a fire pit.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a fire pit or a huge pile of fire wood at our new house like we did at our last residence so we haven’t been able to do tin foil dinners on the fire, this summer/fall, like we prefer to do. But we’ve been doing the second best option and cooking giant ones in the oven.

Family-Tin-foil-packet-dinnerI could do individual ones for us and still cook them in the oven and everyone would still get excited, but I am thrifty to the core and doing it this way saves on the tin-foil usage… this is how we do….

There are basically hundreds of combinations you can do this way. We usually just do the traditional style with ground beef and assorted veggies, but this time I decided to try using chicken and flavoring it with our favorite barbecue sauce.

Family-Tin-foil-packet-dinnerIt turned out really yummy and the combination of ingredients worked well so I thought I would share the recipe with y’all.

Here a a few pictures of how to lay out your foil and start the layering process.

Family-Tin-foil-packet-dinnerFamily-size-barbecue-chicken-tin-foil-dinner hobo-dinnerFamily-size-barbecue-chicken-tin-foil-dinnerFamily-Tin-foil-packet-dinner

Family Size Barbecue Chicken Tin Foil Dinner
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Cooking these yummy veggies and chicken in tin foil seals in the juices and flavor creating a delicious simple dinner reminiscent to one cooked over a camp fire.
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Faux Camp Fire
Serves: 6
  • 1½ lbs chicken cut into small pieces
  • 5-6 medium sized red potatoes, sliced thinly
  • 1 large onion, sliced thinly
  • 1-2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 small green pepper, diced
  • 30-40 baby carrots, cut in fourths or fifths
  • 2 cups green beans. frozen or fresh
  • 1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce + ⅓ cup water thoroughly mixed together
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or (butter, cut in small pieces)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put two 3 feet pieces of tin foil down side by side in a 9x13 pan. Put another large sheet over them horizontally, see picture above in post.
  3. spray the foil (where the food will be placed) with a light coating of cooking spray, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and drizzle a little of the thinned barbecue sauce over it.
  4. Start by putting ⅓ of the onion, celery and green pepper down, add ⅓ of the potatoes, carrots and green beans. Salt and pepper generously. Next add ⅓ of the chicken and drizzle with ⅓ of the remaining barbecue sauce. Repeat layers until ingredients are all used. Don't forget to generously salt and pepper as you go.
  5. Drizzle olive oil or put butter pieces on top layer
  6. Take the two ends of the horizontal piece of foil and bring them together and tightly fold/roll the foil down until it is tightly touching the ingredients. Do the same with the two pieces of foil (see picture above in post)
  7. Make sure it is sealed tightly and place in 350 degree oven for two hours or until everything is cooked through and tender.
  8. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Grape Nut Banana Muffins

Whole-wheat-frape-nut-toddler-banana-muffinsI’m pretty darn excited about these Whole Wheat Grape Nut Banana Muffins. They’re awesome!

A few weeks ago when I was trying to be healthy I purchased a box of Grape Nuts thinking that maybe somehow in the last 10 years they had become delicious….they haven’t, but they are super healthy and full of fiber so I found and alternate way to incorporate them into our diet.


Whole-wheat-frape-nut-toddler-banana-muffinsMuffins are my go to snack for the kids, and I love sneaking healthy ingredients in because, basically, my kids will eat anything if I give it to them in the shape of a muffin. So, I came up with this yummy banana muffin recipe that tastes awesome with Grape Nuts in it.

Grape Nuts are just a hint softer than rocks so the first step in the recipe is to soak them in milk. Let them sit for about 15-20 minutes until all the milk is absorbed and they are softened up.

They’ll look like this.

Whole-wheat-frape-nut-toddler-banana-muffinsThe rest of the recipe is really typical so, without further ado, lets do this!

Whole Wheat Grape Nut Banana Muffins
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Healthy, scrumptious muffins that your kids, and you, will devour. A much more delicious way to eat up healthy Grape Nuts Cereal. :)
Recipe type: Muffins
Serves: 24
  • 1 cup Grape Nuts Cereal
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • ½ cup canola oil (can use half applesauce, but if you do do not use liners. The muffins stick to liners when you cut out part of the oil)
  • ½ cup brown sugar, do not pack
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 large egg
  • 1¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 over ripe bananas, smashed
  1. In a bowl combine 1 cup Grape Nuts Cereal with ⅔ cup milk, set aside for 15-20 minutes or until milk is absorbed into cereal.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  3. Prepare muffin tins with liners or with a light coating of cooking spray.
  4. With a hand mixer or in your stand mixer, combine oil, brown sugar, and regular sugar and eggs
  5. beat until thoroughly combined
  6. Add Grape Nuts Mixture and give a quick mix to combine
  7. Add Salt, baking soda, baking powder, whole wheat flour and all purpose flour, mix on low for about 20-30 seconds or until mostly combined, Add smashed bananas and mix for another 20-30 seconds until everything is evenly combined.
  8. Fill muffin tins ⅔ full with batter (I use a large cookie scoop to do this)
  9. Bake for 15-18 minutes at 375 degrees
  10. Remove from tins and transfer to a cooling rack
  11. Store cooled muffins in an air tight container or in a large Ziploc bag.

Snicker Bar Rice Krispies Treats

Snicker-Rice-Crispy-Treats-RecipeOn Man, get ready friends, these Snicker Bar Rice Krispies Treats are going to rock your world.

Hands down my favorite rice krispy treat EVER! The chewiness from the caramel and the salty crunch from the peanuts combined with the chunks of snicker bar floating around…it’s heaven people, heaven!

I will suggest making sure you have someone to share these with or somewhere to take them unless you have amazing self control. Once you take a bite and get a feel of the texture combined with the awesome flavor….forget about it. If you are like me nothing short of a restraining order will keep you from devouring at least half the pan in a matter of minutes.

Snickers-rice-crispy-treats-recipe-I’m drooling just thinking about these delicious morsels of chocolate, caramel, peanut-y goodness. Look at that little chunk of Snicker Bar in there…YUM!

Snickers used to be the candy bar I hardly ever bought or even cared about…now I keep them in my freezer so I can make these Snicker Bar Rice Krispies Treats whenever a good excuse or unstoppable craving comes around.

Be the hero of your next get together with friends, potluck or movie night.

Run don’t walk to the nearest Snicker selling establishment and whip you up some happy rice krispy goodness, ASAP!

Snicker Bar Rice Krispies Treats
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Chewy Caramel Marshmallow Rice Krispies filled with chunks of Snickers and salty peanuts, topped with a layer of chocolate and peanut butter and sprinkled with peanuts. It's like a little piece of heaven in every bite.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 20
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 12 Kraft caramels, unwrapped
  • 1 10 ounce bag of mini marshmallows
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies Cereal
  • 6 snicker (fun size) candy bars cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup chopped peanuts, divided
  • 1¼ cup milk chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  1. In a medium sized sauce pan, melt butter and caramel, add marshmallows when caramels are half way melted. Continue melting until marshmallows are melted too.
  2. Take off heat and stir in Rice Krispies Cereal. Add Snicker Bar pieces and ¾ cup of chopped Peanuts
  3. Press mixture evenly into a lightly buttered 9x13 pan
  4. In a small microwave safe dish melt milk chocolate chips and peanut butter. Stop and stir every 20-30 second until smooth.
  5. Spread chocolate peanut butter mixture evenly over rice krispies in the 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup chopped peanuts.
  6. Let cool completely...I like to put it in the fridge for this step because I am always in a hurry to eat this yummy bars..

{Thursday Night 10/15/15} Day off of school shananigans…

oct 15 2015 dinnerToday was an interesting day. The kids are off of school for today and tomorrow so we planned to go swimming with some friends at the Y this morning at 10:15. Everyone woke up crazy early so I decided to play the we can’t go unless everyone gets their jobs done card.

I accidentally did Thatcher’s main job (unloading and loading the dishwasher) so I had to figure out something else for him to do. I gave him the choice of cleaning up the toys in the basement or sweeping the kitchen and dining room floors….I really didn’t want him to pick sweeping because the floors needed a really good sweep and I knew that if I had him do it, I would have to do it again (who has time for that) or be over his shoulder like a hawk pointing out the three hundred pieces of dirt he was sure to miss in his hap hazard sweeping…which I also didn’t have time to do or want to do…..

Note to self: Don’t give children an option that you clearly do not want them to pick, no matter how sure you are that they won’t pick it because Murphy’s law kicks in and said children will pick it every time….why do I have to keep relearning this lesson?

I was sure he would choose the basement NOPE! So I “helped” him make sure to get every spec (it was painful.) Have you seen a seven year old sweep?

In order for it to only take four hours instead of six, I opted to help him move the chairs out away from the table. That’s when it happened. One of the chairs I was pushing out of the way somehow tipped over and hit the wall, putting a nice slice through my pretty new paint job and it sliced pretty far into the drywall too. I was so sad, mad and frustrated.

october fifteenthI may or may not have yelled out a really loud DANG IT! and may or may not have sat down on the floor and cried for a minute.

As I was sitting there feeling sad, mad and frustrated with my children looking at me like, “What’s the big deal Mom?” I had to ask myself that same question, “What IS the big deal?” Did I really just yell DANG IT! and sit on the floor and cry over a cut in my wall? Who am I?

I’m the tired mom who spent precious time, blood, sweat and tears painting that wall and, apparently, formed a significant attachment to it. But here’s the thing, It’s just a wall. I don’t want to be the mom that teaches her kids (by example) that when something frustrating happens you scream and then cry on the floor…..Wait a second, that’s what Trever does when he is sad, mad or frustrated….maybe he’s rubbing off on me. HA! If only that were the reason for my over reaction to the slice in my wall.

Anywho, in that moment it was like I had a clear picture of how directly my behavior and actions affect my kids. Did screaming and crying on the floor make me feel better? NO. Is it the end of the world that there is a slice in my wall? No. Can it be fixed? Yes. Will it be fixed anytime soon? Probably not. Is that okay? Yes.

I like to think I reacted a little better to the next frustrating thing that happened today because I had that little insight this morning.

So we went to the YMCA to go swimming. We hadn’t been there for over a year and when we pulled up Conner excitedly says. “Hey, I remember that!” I thought he was talking about the building, but no, he was talking about a dirt hole in the side of a hill by the parking lot….that boy and dirt…..(that’s not the frustrating thing.)

october 15 2015 ymcaReunited with an old friend…

We had a great time swimming. Before we left the house I had told the kids that we could go grab a burger or something after swimming and take it home to eat picnic style and watch a movie. I had purposefully grabbed a small stash of cash (about $25) when we left the house and didn’t bother grabbing my wallet.

Of course everyone (including me) was starving when we got done swimming. We got changed and headed out to the van. Got all buckled in. I got the money out to double check how much I had. I had five ones and….wait a second, where is the twenty?

I searched the car and couldn’t find it anywhere. DANG IT! (don’t worry I didn’t say it out loud this time.)

I lost it somehow, somewhere, and because I hadn’t grabbed my wallet I didn’t have enough money to stop somewhere on the way home. AND, getting Trever home before he fell asleep was already going to be a feat in and of itself and so help me I did not want him taking his nap in the car, mama needs that precious nap time to get things done….and mom really didn’t want to actually have to make lunch today….

The kids were sad and so was I. I was looking forward to a burger and fries….

After weighing my options I decided to go home and grab my wallet and hit a different fast food place that was closer to our house and I enlisted the kids in the “keep Trever awake” challenge.

Trever did unfortunately fall asleep for a few minutes, but thankfully he still took a good nap after he ate his chicken and fries.

I’m still a little sad I lost $20 but I’m hoping someone who really needed it or needed a boost in their happiness today, found it.

october 15 2105 bkThe big kids watched a movie in the basement while they ate their lunch. Trever ate quickly and then took a nap and mommy, well mommy may or may not have ordered herself, and hid from the children, a couple pieces of pie to enjoy after her burger and fries (nothing like a 4000 calorie lunch.)

oct 15 2015I let the kids watch an extra show so I could enjoy my spoils uninterrupted.

As far as dinner tonight goes, I was about to prep a No-boil Lasagna for my husband to cook while I took Conner to the Dermatologist, but when I grabbed the box of lasagna noodles out of the cupboard it only had one and a half noodles in it. Great. I went with plan B which was to make a breakfast casserole I have been wanting to try. This way I could also take pics and get it ready for a post.

That plan didn’t really go so well since we had to wait almost an hour at the Dermatologist and then when I got home I remembered I needed to make a pumpkin dessert for a church meeting tonight. So I quickly mixed that up and started to get the casserole ready and take pics, but I only got half way done before I had to leave for parent teacher conferences.

I had to come home in between conferences to grab Thatcher for soccer practice so I quickly finished the last part, took a picture of that step and told my husband how long to cook it.

I ran back to the school for the second teacher conference and ran home to get ready for the church meeting and to take a final picture of the finished casserole.

oct 15 2015 egg casseroleUnfortunately, the sun was pretty much down by this point and I couldn’t get a decent picture. ugh….if there is one part of blogging I could do away with it would be the photography part. I stink at it and it stresses me out. Why do things need to look pretty? Darn that Pinterest!

I ran to my meeting and Sim picked Thatcher up at Soccer practice. I ate a little of dinner before I left and everyone else ate after I left.

Sim said it was a hit with everyone.

That’s what I like to hear.

I’m going to bed now, this mama is tired and was crazy enough to tell the kids we could go swimming again tomorrow….that is if she doesn’t get a gall bladder attack from her super healthy eating choices today.

Keep it Real!


Creamy Bacon Spaghetti {Thirty Minute Meal}

Creamy-Bacon-Spaghetti-Thirty-Minute-RecipeThis simple Creamy Bacon Spaghetti has quickly become one of our favorite meals. Best part is it’s so fast to make, only takes about thirty minutes, start to finish.

It was actually one of those things that happened as a happy accident. It had gotten late in the afternoon and I hadn’t decided what to make for dinner. Since we were in a time crunch I decided to use some of our plentiful cherry tomatoes to mix up a quick spaghetti sauce.

Creamy-Bacon-Spaghetti-Thirty-Minute-RecipeWhile it was cooking I decided I wanted to try and make it special somehow. Because the tomatoes were fresh and I didn’t have time to let them cook down I decided to try adding a little heavy whipping cream to thicken it up and make it nice and creamy. I also decided to throw in a handful of bacon bits for good measure and to give it a little smokey meaty flavor.

It turned out spectacular and I ended up making it again the next night and then again a couple nights later.

Creamy-Bacon-Spaghetti-Thirty-Minute-RecipeBecause we had sooooo many cherry tomatoes this year, they were quite literally coming out of our ears, I used them to make the sauce, but the sauce turns out just as amazing and flavorful with a large can of diced tomatoes (you can blend them a little if your have an aversion to the large chunks of tomato.)

If you do use fresh cherry or grape tomatoes make sure to add a pinch of baking soda to the sauce as it simmers. This step really helps to take out the acidic flavor and sweetens the sauce up nicely.

To finish meal in 30 minutes use time wisely by starting spaghetti water to boil when you start chopping onion and garlic. Don’t forget to add salt to the water.

Creamy-Bacon-Spaghetti-Thirty-Minute-RecipeYou can use fresh bacon and cook it in your pan before making the sauce and use the drippings for part of the oil if you prefer, but for speed I just use store bought bacon bits.

Creamy Bacon Spaghetti {Thirty Minute Meal}
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Creamy, smokey, spaghetti sauce with basil and garlic. Ready to eat in thirty minutes
Recipe type: Thirty Minute Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • 2-3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes, pulsed in food processor or 1 (29 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp salt if using fresh tomatoes, ½ tsp if using canned tomatoes
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1½ tbsp brown sugar
  • ⅛ tsp baking soda
  • 2-3 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • 2-3 tbsp Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • ⅓ cup precooked bacon pieces
  • 1 (16 ounce) package spaghetti noodles, cooked al dente (don't forget to add salt to the cooking water)
  1. In a large sauce pan or pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until tender.
  2. Add tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add brown sugar and baking soda. Stir for 1 minute until sauce stops fizzing.
  4. Add Parmesan cheese (optional) and heavy whipping cream.
  5. Simmer for another minute or two. Add cooked noodles to sauce, toss and sprinkle with bacon. toss again and serve.
  6. We love to serve this with garlic bread or bread-sticks.

Better than the Bakery Peanut Butter M&M Cookies

Better-Than-the-Bakery-Peanut-butter-M&M-Cookies-recipeI’m not kidding when I say that these Better than the Bakery Peanut Butter M&M Cookies will change your life.

My quality of life improved by at least 75% after I got this recipe so I am sure it will be the same for you…if not more.

My friends husband makes these all the time (he uses chocolate chips instead of M&Ms though) and after I had Charlotte my friend brought me some to the hospital.

Better-Than-the-Bakery-Peanut-butter-M&M-Cookies-recipeThey tasted like Manna from Heaven. I LOVED THEM!!! I am pretty sure they are the sole reason why all I can remember form Charlotte’s first year of life are butterflies and rainbows.

I have since begged for the recipe and can now enjoy them anytime I want.

Better-Than-the-Bakery-Peanut-butter-M&M-Cookies-recipeMake them with M&M’s or Chocolate chips, whatever makes you happy.

But it’s no joke that these are even better then the best bakery. You’re going to love them as much as I do.

To make these cookies really seem like they came from a bakery, I like to make them nice and big. I use a 3 or 4 tablespoon cookie scoop instead of the regular 2 tbsp one I usually use for cookies.

Better-Than-the-Bakery-Peanut-butter-M&M-Cookies-recipeAlso, the dipping the top of the cookie ball in sugar is a very important part, don’t skip it.

Better than the Bakery Peanut Butter M&M Cookies
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Slightly crispy edges with a soft and chewy center. Spotted with yummy burst of chocolate. these delicious Peanut Butter M&M Cookies are definitely better then the ones you can buy at the bakery.
Recipe type: Cookies
Serves: 18
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • ½ cup Peanut Butter, I like creamy
  • ½ cup softened Butter
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1¼ cup All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt, I use coarse sea salt, it's the bomb
  • 1 cup milk chocolate M&Ms or chocolate chips
  • 3-4 tbsp granulated white sugar for dipping
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Prepare two cookie sheets by lightly spraying them with cooking spray and setting them aside
  3. In a large mixing bowl or in your stand mixer, cream the brown sugar, peanut butter and softened butter for 1 min. Add egg and cream mixture for an additional minute.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, Mix until well combined, Stir in M&Ms or chocolate chips.
  5. Use a cookie scoop to scoop out dough to make a dough ball, dip top of dough ball in granulated sugar and then place cookie dough balls, 2-3 inches apart on cookie sheet. (I like to use a large cookie scoop for these cookies so they look like they are from the bakery.)
  6. You can place a few more M&Ms on top of cookies if desired
  7. Bake for 9-10 minutes at 375 degrees or until cookies are starting to turn light brown on the edges.
  8. Let cookies remain on cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

{Thursday Night 10/08/15} Broom love and Spit balls…

Thursday Night 10 08 15Awww, finally a second to sit down and no one is even sitting on me or touching me, it’s a glorious thing folks…glorious…especially today.

charCharlotte had her first real day of preschool yesterday. She had a great time and is thrilled to be in preschool, However, Trever is not taking it well. I didn’t see this coming. He has been a HOT MESS the entire time she’s gone.

Thursday night oct 08 fifteenIf I’m not holding him he is crying, it’s super fun. The extra fun part about it today was that he had the broom out and when he realized his sister was gone (his cue to start crying incessantly) he was still holding said broom (with a death grip) so I got to try and comfort/hold him with the broom in his hand.

trev broom 2Super comfortable.

trev broomWe sat this way for about 45 minutes and by then I was dying inside because I hadn’t even cleaned up the kitchen, done laundry or any of the hundred things I wanted to try and get done while Charlotte was gone. And as hard as I tried to enjoy it because he will only be little like this once, it just wasn’t working. I was just annoyed, no way around it.

I tried to convince him to let go of the broom and get down and play but that wasn’t working. Luckily, I had a flash of inspiration…..”Make him a smoothie.” Duh! A smoothie, why didn’t I think of that before? He loves smoothies.

Thursday night ten 08 05Thurs Night 10 08015The smoothie kept him happy long enough for me to gather up all the laundry in the house and hide the broom. He was very willing to ride down to the basement in the laundry bin, and thanks to the power of the smoothie, he played happily for about ten minutes while I threw in two loads of laundry. (Did you know I have two washers? It makes me so happy…I only have one bathroom but I have two washers.)

The smoothie power was obviously not as strong as I had hoped. After that second washer lid closed it was like the crying button got pushed again. This time, the only way to satiate him was to go outside. We played in the yard for a minute, and then I put him in the bike seat and rode around the cul-de-sac about a hundred times, until sister finally got home from preschool.

Seriously Trev, we’ve gotta figure this out.

Once Sis was home (she wasn’t even playing with him, let alone paying him any attention) he was fine. WHAT??? Apparently he loves Charlotte a lot more than I realized. Probably almost as much as he loves the broom…and the trampoline…

Thursday night oct 8 2015After school, things got a little chaotic and I got dinner started late…we have to be totally done by 6:15 on Thursdays so Thatcher can get to practice by 6:30.

Thursday night oct 8 2015-I was chopping like a mad man to make hash-browns and had enlisted Conner to stir the sausage gravy. Trever was doing his best to destroy everything. Thatcher, Dad, Charlotte and Trever ended up having to eat before the hash-browns were done, and they were probably still a little late to practice. It was just one of those days.

Conner and I ate after they left because Conner didn’t get to go to practice tonight….Here comes the Spit Ball section of the post.

Last night at scouts Conner got in trouble for spitting Spit Balls at the ceiling in his scout room. I was in the building (it’s our church building) having an activity with 8-12 year old girls. So one of his leaders came to find me.

When I saw Conner’s Scout Leader come to the door I immediately knew something was wrong. She told me that he was spitting spit balls, they had asked him to stop an he did it again.

All in one second my heart sank and I saw red, flaming red. My heart sank because I knew that Conner most likely wasn’t trying to be bad. I was 90% sure that he had gotten lost in his own head and dream world shooting at bad guys or something and didn’t realize he had actually (in real-life) started spitting the spit balls again, And I saw red, flaming red because I wanted to kick his little butt all the way to China! This is not the first incident with spit balls. We have had a talk about spit balls. And particularly a talk about spit balls at the church. Somewhere in the church kitchen is a box of straws and he finds one and uses it to make spit balls, usually outside (in a kind of forest-y area by the parking lot) while he waits for me after my meeting.

Even then, I don’t like him doing it, but he’s a boy, and apparently shooting a spit ball makes you feel like a human machine gun or something so we had talked and set some boundaries and I THOUGHT he understood that it was NEVER OKAY TO SPIT SPIT BALLS IN THE CHURCH.

When I walked back to the room with his leader, I didn’t even get the door open all the way before I see his tearful face, and he is just spewing out “I’m sorry’s,” and “you should take Boom Beach (his favorite video game) away for a year,” and “I should never be able to….”

His teacher pointed up to the ceiling where there were four or five spitballs stuck on a florescent light cover, even though it was fewer then I thought, I was still fuming inside. I told him to clean it up RIGHT NOW and then come talk to me in the hall.

I then realized while I was in the hall that I was not going to let him go back into scouts tonight so I had him go back in and apologize to both his leaders before coming out in the hall with me.

Because the hall was a little crowded I took him outside for the ear-chewing.

There was another incident at scouts about six months ago (another, he didn’t realize what he was doing type of incident.) I know all boys are unaware to a degree, but it is a real issue for Conner in school and, as you can see, everywhere else. It actually breaks my heart on a regular basis and we are REALLY REALLY trying to help him. And he really is doing SO much better.

Yesterday was just a little set back. The positive (if there is one) is that it gave us a chance to talk about some important things and Conner actually had a couple much needed epiphanies during the conversation.

I don’t remember where I started exactly, We talked about how he will NEVER, NEVER EVER get another straw out of the church kitchen. We talked about how inappropriate it is to shoot spit balls in the church building. How inappropriate it is to shoot spitballs during scouts. How inappropriate it is to disrespect your scout leaders by doing something they specifically asked you not to.

Conner learned a new word. Blatant Disrespect. I explained to him that when someone specifically asks you not to do something and then you do it, (whether you mean to or not) that is called Blatant Disrespect, and even the very nicest people in the world get frustrated and upset when someone treats them with Blatant Disrespect.

I went further by explaining that his leaders only see him once a week, “They don’t see you every day like I do. They don’t see all the great helpful amazing things you do everyday like I do. And because they only see you once a week, if you have a big “unaware” moment, like today shooting spit balls, or like the time a few months ago when you threw your coat at Brother Knox, unfortunately, there is a good chance your leaders will start thinking of you as someone who causes trouble and makes it hard for them to instruct the group instead of someone who is helpful and awesome, like I know you are. When someone is your teacher or leader you need to care about how they see you behaving because they form their opinion of you from their time spent with you which in some cases, like scouts, is not very much.

This seemed to really resignate with him along with my spill on self control and knowing yourself. “Even if someone tells you to put the straw away in your pocket, you need to know yourself well enough and have pre-set ideas to help yourself have self control. In this case it would have been best to get the straw totally away from yourself or throw it away. Right?  ESPECIALLY BECAUSE YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE HAD A STRAW IN THE CHURCH IN THE FIRST PLACE.

I did pretty good to stay calm through most of our conversation, but every time I thought of him having the stupid straw and spitting spit balls in the church I could hardly see straight.

Tonight instead of going to play at the park during Thatcher’s practice Conner had to stay home and work on apology notes for his Scout Leaders. He also isn’t allowed to play Boom Beach until Monday. I didn’t feel like he needed a stronger punishment because he was truly repentant and feels really bad about what he did.

Although if you ask Conner there isn’t a worse punishment then writing a letter. Unless it’s writing two….I snuck pictures of these that he left on his desk. The first one he rejected (you can see the cross thru it) The second one is the one he is going to send to them. I love how he worked in Blatant Disrespect to the second draft and that he says he had no idea that it existed but now he does.

Thursday Night oct 0815disrespect letterWhat a kid! What a kid! Love that boy!

Keep it Real!!!








Classic Meatloaf Recipe…just like mom used to make.

Classic-Meatloaf-recipe--Few foods are more comforting then good ol’ meatloaf. My mom made this Classic Meatloaf Recipe all the time when I was growing up. It’s pretty much perfect and it’s incredibly easy to mix up.

Truth be told, I’m always a little shocked by how excited my kids get when I make meatloaf. I mean it’s meatloaf, isn’t there a rule somewhere that kids aren’t supposed to like it? I always thought I was just one of those weird kids who actually liked it.

Apparently I was wrong, because it’s definitely a hot commodity at our house. There’s never even a tiny piece left in the pan and there may or may not almost always be a fight over the last piece.

Classic-Meatloaf-recipe--I love that the recipe calls for oatmeal, a little added fiber, but if you don’t have any or are a little freaked out by adding oatmeal you can use crushed soda crackers or bread ripped into tiny pieces.

Classic-Meatloaf-recipe--The sweet ketchup based glaze that goes on the top is optional. We love to serve meatloaf with baked potatoes and broccoli or green beans. We love butter and homemade ranch dressing as topping on our baked potatoes.

Classic-Meatloaf-recipe--Yum, just thinking about this meal has me drooling. Such a great no-fuss dinner that comforts you to the core.

Classic Meatloaf Recipe
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Lots of beefy goodness in this perfectly seasoned classic meatloaf. Topped with a Tomato based glaze that adds just the right amount of sweet and tart to this amazing comfort food.
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Comfort Food
Serves: 6 servings
  • 1½ lbs ground beef
  • ¾ cup quick oatmeal
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup onion, finely diced (or grate it if your kids will freak out if they see a piece of onion)
  • 1¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ⅓ cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine ground beef, oatmeal, milk, egg, onion, salt and pepper in a medium sized mixing bowl. Using your hand, incorporate everything into the meat. This only takes 30 seconds or so, you do not want to over mix.
  3. Transfer meat into a large loaf pan and press it down evenly into the pan.
  4. Mix ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard in a small bowl. Pour over meatloaf.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes
  6. Remove from oven and drain off excess grease. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Caramel Marshmallow Popcorn

Caramel-Marshmallow-P0pcorn-and-popcorn-ball-recipeI’ve done it folks, I’ve perfected the Caramel Marshmallow Popcorn Recipe. I had a friend who would make this at college and I absolutely positively loved it.

Here comes the sad part.

I never got the recipe from her before we lost touch, boo, whaaa, whaaaaaa! Seriously, I cried about it for a good two years. Finally I picked myself up by my bootstraps and searched every recipe book I owned (this was in the stone-age….before Pinterest) and I made do with one that I found in a church cookbook my mom gave me.

It was good. It was, I mean I definitely didn’t have to force myself to eat it, but it wasn’t quite what I remembered. It was a little too soft and gooey….I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Maria why are you speaking blasphemy? Caramel popcorn can never be to soft and gooey.” But.(picture me holding up my finger and giving you a sideways look) Believe me….it actually can.

Caramel-Marshmallow-Popcorn-recipe-and-popcorn-ballsAfter all these years of finely tweaking the recipe I’ve done it. This popcorn is perfection, just the right texture on the caramel so it is chewy but can still hold it’s shape, and just the way I remember good old Meredith (if I could only remember her last name I could have found her on Facebook) making it.

Follow the directions (especially for the boiling part) explicitly, and you will have the most delicious, caramel marshmallow popcorn you’ve ever tasted. It’s amazing!

Oh, and if you want to be cool for the kids, make it into popcorn balls. Works great for that.


Marshmallow Caramel Popcorn
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  • ¾ cup butter or margarine, cut into pieces to melt faster
  • 1¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup Karo Syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of baking soda, (1/8 tsp)
  • 4 quarts popped popcorn, take out un-popped kernels
  • 3-4 cups miniature marshmallows (about ½ of a 10 ounce bag)
  1. Put popped popcorn in a large bowl add marshmallows, stir to mix and set aside
  2. In a 1 quart sauce pan combine butter, sugar, and karo syrup.
  3. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly careful to stir all the way to the bottom and on the edges.
  4. After the 3 minutes, remove form heat and add vanilla and baking soda, stir and pour over the popped corn and marshmallow mixture, mix thoroughly and let cool for 15-20 minutes,
  5. Eat by the handful or form into balls if desired.
  6. If forming into balls, spray hands with cooking spray to prevent sticking.

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