Monday, May 11, 2015

Motherhood at its best.

Mother's Day 2015.

Does it get any better than this? All my children around me? Nope, I think it doesn't. Gifts are nice and it's great to feel appreciated, but being with all my kids is the best thing ever! I am grateful for every minute I get to spend with these awesome people.

The End. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Homemade Tomato Soup

One of my favorite childhood memories is of my Dad coming home from work & making homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. He loved to cook (and still does!), even after a long day at the office, and this combination was one of us kids' favorites. As best I can remember, he used to combine a big can of tomato juice with an equal amount of half & half, then I'm sure he must have added a few spices, but I don't remember what. This recipe is a little different, but I still need half & half in my tomato soup all these years later.

Homemade Tomato Soup
serves 8

In a large pot, melt 2 T. butter with 1 T. olive oil over medium heat. 
Add 3 T. flour and whisk until smooth. Stir in 1/2 t. onion powder and 1/2 t. garlic salt. Whisk until fragrant.
Add, whisking to combine:
1 28-oz can peeled, crushed tomatoes
4 c. chicken broth
1 c. half & half
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1/4 t. ground thyme

Stir often and bring mixture to a simmer. Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring periodically. Serve with your choice of toppings such as parmesan cheese, additional pepper, chives, and/or croutons. Don't forget the grilled cheese for dipping! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A picture-perfect day.

Hard to believe this is a day in mid-February. In Utah. Isn't it supposed to be snowy and cold?

Well, we can't do much but just enjoy it while it lasts, so that's we did this President's Day. We made a trip to This Is The Place park. The sky was absolutely gorgeous and we almost had the park to ourselves. I can deal with days like that--hoodie weather, a pretty sky and no crowds. The best!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

I love to make beef stew. Especially when it's cold outside.

And I love to eat beef stew. Anytime.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

3 T. olive oil
2 lb. beef stew meat
1/4 cup flour
1 envelope Beef Stew seasoning mix
1 t. thyme
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
2 T. dry minced onion
2 T. Worchestershire
4 cups of regular V-8 juice
2 cups water
2 t. beef bouillon crystals or 2 beef bouillon cubes
1 c. baby carrots
5 medium potatoes, skin on & cubed

Heat the oil in a large pot. Mix together flour, seasoning mix, thyme, salt & pepper and coat the beef cubes with it in a large bowl. Brown the meat in the hot oil. Place browned meat in a 5-6 qt. slow cooker and cover with onion, cubed potatoes and baby carrots. Pour water and beef bouillon into the hot pan the meat was browned in, and heat to boiling to deglaze the pan.  Add Worchestershire and V-8 juice to hot beef broth. Pour over meat and vegetables in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or High for 4-6 hours. Stir before serving. Serve with hot rolls or cornbread.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tips for a healthy winter

Hi! I was asked to share my best tips for staying healthy during the cold months. This was great, because I do have some. With six kids (four still at home) and one of whom has Type 1 diabetes, I have had huge interest in keeping sickness out of the house. A diabetic is at risk of heading to the hospital for any virus--just because of the havoc it can cause with the blood sugars, ketones, etc. So I don't apologize for my bordering on germ-phobic ways. ;)

Anyway. Take a look at the pic above. Therein lies the key to my best tips.

#1. That bar of soap says, "Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands!" This is the biggest thing we do as a family. It used to be me telling my kids to wash their hands EVERY TIME we or they return home from anyplace else, AND before eating. (Washing after using the bathroom is a given). But now my husband is a believer. He is often the first to say, "Wash your hands," as we walk in the door from anywhere, and washing his hands is the about the first thing he does when he comes in from work. (Visit Lanmom Originals for more pretty & all-natural handmade soaps just like the one pictured.)

#2. Water! Drinking enough water is SO important, and I swear by it. Especially if a stomach bug hits someone in the house, I tell everyone else to make sure they are drinking enough water. That's at least 8 8-oz glasses a day for an adult. I am absolutely positive that all the times that a stomach bug hit only one or two of us, and then no one else, is due to making sure we drank at least the recommended amount of water each day for protection. It really works.

#3. Vitamins! I take a multivitamin daily that has extra B-vitamins, but my kids like Emergen-C and will drink it daily. I know lots of people who swear by the extra vitamin C, and I think it does help, especially if you feel a cold coming on.

There you have it, my top three tips for staying healthy during the winter. Washing our hands and drinking enough water are two things that we actually do year-round to stay healthy, so I don't think these are things just for winter. And there are, of course, other things I do to help, such as letting my kids get fresh air every day, using disinfectant wipes on bathroom surfaces a few times each week, and keeping things clean. Not to mention the importance of healthy eating and exercise (Jared is great at both!). For some yummy energy-boosting recipes, check out the recipes at

What are your best tips for staying healthy in winter?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Top Three Recipe Posts of 2014, Plus the #1 of All Time!

Here are the Top Three Recipes of 2014 for this blog:

Tied at #1 are:

Hot Cheesy Chicken Hoagie

and Chicken Broccoli Casserole.  Both of these recipes are great to warm up with when it's cold outside!

The #3 2014 recipe is:

Ham Fried Rice, definitely one of our family's most favorite recipes, and still my favorite way to use leftover ham.

Meanwhile, the far-and-away top-viewed recipe on this blog continues to be:

Pineapple-Coconut Bundt cake.  I just made it up one day. Who knew?!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy 2015!!

It's finally 2015.

The year 2015 has loomed large in my mind, for one big reason: Elder Sedlacek comes home halfway through this year! When he left in 2013, it seemed like such a loooong tiiiiiime it's here. Crazy how fast that time went.

Anyway, we have a tradition every New Year's Day. That is to hike up the mountain behind the LDS temple just above our home, and build a snowman. A big snowman. Sometimes Mother Nature cooperates with this tradition, but sometimes not. This year she decided to, on Christmas Day, when we finally picked up the first real snow of this winter with 11.5 inches.

This particular year was extra fun because: 1. We have a new son-in-law to help us out. Son-in-law Jeff is on the far right in the picture above while Hubby Jeff is taking the pic. (Yep, two Jeffs in the family now. People ask me if that ever gets confusing? Once in awhile for them, but not really for me. Nicole has good taste and chose extra wisely!)  2. I have a new DonJoy OA knee brace that made it possible for me to hike up there and back down, pain-free.

The snowman building wasn't perfect. Earlier in the week, we had one of those nasty canyon winds that carried off a lot of the snow and left the surface snow so dry that it wouldn't pack nicely. But thanks to several five-gallon buckets and some effort, we were able to build a 7-foot snowman.

Once the snowman is built, the kids like to sled back down. Then we head home to warm up with some hot chocolate.

Here's to a great 2015!!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

English Trifle

One of our holiday traditions is to make and enjoy an English Trifle. My hubby spent two years serving an LDS mission in the midlands of England and North Wales, and trifle became one of his favorite things. This is an almost authentic version, using ingredients readily found here, but if you have access to an English pantry, I include those ingredients below. One year we had a friend visit from England, and she taught us how to make trifle. Since then I have figured out how to replicate it as closely as possible with ingredients from my local Smith's.

First off, here is what you need to make a  berry trifle:

a white cake mix (or ready-made sponge cake from a British pantry)
2 small boxes of Jell-o gelatin, raspberry flavor (or English "Jelly")
one bag of frozen berries (raspberries, blackberries & blueberries)
1 large box Cook & Serve Jell-o pudding, vanilla flavor (Bird's Custard powder is one English variety)
1 pint of whipping cream
powdered sugar & vanilla

24 hours before you want to serve the trifle, mix the white cake mix according to the package directions and bake in a Bundt pan. Transfer the cake to a plate, then leave it uncovered and let it sit out overnight. The next morning, slice about 1/2 the cake into 1-inch slices and stand them upright in the bottom of a trifle bowl. I usually end up with about 10 slices of cake in my bowl. Leave a little space in between slices. Fill the spaces with the frozen berries, like so:

I like to try to make it look pretty.  :)

Once that step is done, mix the raspberry gelatin with 2 cups of boiling water and stir until dissolved. Then stir in 2 cups of cold water. Pour the gelatin slowly over the cake and berries so it can soak in.

Now cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge until the gelatin is set. This will take a few hours. Meanwhile, prepare the cook & serve pudding according to the directions on the package and then cover the surface of the pudding with plastic and let it chill in the fridge until the trifle is ready. If you can get English custard powder, make that, but if you can't, cook & serve pudding comes closer than the instant version. It's worth doing.

The set jello layer with the custard layer added.
Finally, whip the pint of cream with a little powdered sugar and vanilla if desired. It doesn't need to be overly sweet with all the other sweetness going on in the other layers. Pour the pudding/custard on top of the set cake/berries/gelatin layer, then top that with the whipped cream. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to two hours. Trifle is best the same day it's assembled, but leftovers can be enjoyed the next day--if there are any.