Monday, July 25, 2011

Menu Planning Monday

Hello and welcome to another fine summer week!

Monday--Homemade mac & cheese, green salad with cucumber and tomatoes
FHE treat--Lemon squares

Tuesday--Lasagna, green beans, French bread

Wednesday--Chili con carne, cornbread, baby carrots

Thursday--Salmon patties, sweet potato fries, sliced plums

Friday--Pita pizzas (make your own), fruit salad

Saturday--YOYO (I think we're eating with friends)

Sunday--Beef roast with potatoes and carrots

Monday, May 16, 2011


Our Cinco de Mayo fiesta.

If you're like me, you didn't even know how or why one would make taquitos when you can buy them in a giant box at the store. (To me they were in the same category as brownies. I seriously didn't know you could make them from scratch until I was in college.)

But let me assure you that these homemade taquitos are WORTH THE EFFORT. (And there is effort. It took me like 30 minutes just to roll these bad boys.) They are very good and healthier than the deep-fried, preservative-laden store-bought ones, and they taste great.

As a bonus, this might be your first time using queso fresco or chiles in adobo sauce. It was for me. But after you make something with those ingredients you'll have that "ah-HA!" moment where you realize these are what your favorite Mexican restaurants use, with delicious results.

Both of these recipes are from the talented ladies at Our Best Bites. I really like the chicken....well, and the beef. Try them both!


1/3 C (3 oz) cream cheese
1/4 C green salsa
1T fresh lime juice
1/2 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t granulated garlic, or garlic powder
3 T chopped cilantro
2 T sliced green onions
2 C shredded cooked chicken (for extra yumminess, use grilled taco chicken!)
1 C grated pepperjack cheese
small corn tortillas (and actually, flour ones are really good as well)
kosher salt
cooking spray

Heat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.

Heat cream cheese in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds so it’s soft and easy to stir. Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and granulated garlic. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well.

You can prepare up to this step ahead of time. Just keep the mixture in the fridge.

Work with a few tortillas at a time and heat in the microwave until they are soft enough to roll without cracking. It helps to place them between damp paper towels. Usually 20-30 seconds will do it. If you find yours are cracking when you roll them or are coming unrolled right away, just try heating them longer and try the paper towel thing.

Place 2-3 T of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges.

Then roll it up as tight as you can.

Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Lay all of the taquitos on the baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or an oil mister and sprinkle some kosher salt on top.

Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown.

The ones pictured below are actually flour tortillas- which I found out I like just as well (maybe even better!) than corn ones.

Dip ‘em in salsa, sour cream, guacamole, or dressing.

Makes 12-16

3 C cooked, shredded beef roast
4oz green chilies, undrained
1/4-1/2 t minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (I do 1/4 for mild spiciness)
3 t adobo sauce from the canned chipotle peppers (see below for note)
1 t garlic powder
1 t coriander
1/2 t cumin
1 t chili powder
zest from one lime
1 T fresh lime juice
1 package Queso Fresco (about 12 oz)
6″ white corn tortillas (about 20) I decied I like white corn torillas WAY better than yellow.
olive oil or cooking spray
kosher salt

Note: If you don’t want to work with the chipotle peppers, or can’t find them, try adding some Chipotle Chili Powder. You can find it by the other spices in the grocery store. It will still give you a smoky spice, so start with a little and increase to taste.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Take your shredded beef and slice any larger pieces across the grain so you have pieces about 1/2-1″ long. Place in a bowl and set aside.

Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce: We’ve talked about chipotle peppers before. They’re little red beauties that come canned in a smoky sauce. (They’re the same peppers used in this salad) Most of my recipes only use a small portion of the can you need to buy. So as not to waste the rest, I take the left overs and after de-seeding the peppers, I blend it all together with the sauce and then freeze it in 1t portions. Then it’s easy to pull out for recipes like this.

To prepare the peppers for the taquitos: pull out a pepper, trying to leave as much of the sauce as you can in the can. You’ll want to slit the pepper open to remove the seeds. You can just scrape them out with a small knife. Or, what I often do is just take care of it over the sink. Open it up and run it under a slow stream of water to wash the seeds out. You’ll want to be careful as the flesh is tender and can wash off too!

Mince it up as needed. And be careful, they’re spicy! Don’t touch your nostrils or your eyes, or pretty much anything else before washing your hands very well. Kate and I both know this from experience. Lots of experience.

Combine chilies, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, garlic, coriander, cumin, chili powder and lime zest and juice in a bowl. After stirring to combine, gently toss together with shredded beef.

Wrap a pile of about 10 tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave for 1 minute to soften. (after those are used, do the next 10)

Now bust out the queso fresco. You can find it at just about any grocery store now days. It’s generally in the refridgerated cheese section.
You can always substitute monterey jack or pepperjack, but I like queso fresco because I feel cool using foreign foods. Plus, it’s a traditional Mexican cheese and it tastes good.

Working with one tortilla at a time, crumble about 1T queso fresco in a line across the center of the tortilla. Top with 1-2 T shredded beef mixture and roll that baby up.

I use 6″ tortillas and I usually get about 20 taquitos. I fill them on the full side, so you could definitely stretch this and easily get more out of the recipe.

Place seam-side down on a lightly oiled/sprayed baking sheet. Use cooking spray or lightly brush olive oil on the top of each one. (I use olive oil in a mister and it works perfect.) Lightly sprinkle kosher salt on the top of each one.

Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and your house smells like a Mexican restaurant. A Mexican restaurant in a good way, not in a nasty, greasy, stinky way.

Take them out of the oven and let them cool for just a few minutes. Eat ‘em hot!

These should absolutely, positively be served with a healthy smothering of fresh guacamole. And some sour cream if you wish.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Menu Planning Monday

Another week, another menu. For St. Patrick's Day my best idea is for breakfast; I got each child their own box of Lucky Charms. When a cereal features a leprachaun, you have to let inspiration take you to the sugary paradise that IS magically delicious.

Monday-- Oven fried chicken, corn on the cob, coleslaw
FHE treat--Apple pie (because today is national "Pi" day--3.14--get it?)

Tuesday--Pork ribs in crock pot, baked beans, vegetables

Wednesday--Salmon cakes, sweet potato fries, honeydew melon

Thursday--Beef stew (which for St. Patrick's Day we will call "Irish Stew"), biscuits, and root beer to drink

Friday--Make your own pizza--I want bbq chicken!

Saturday--Quesadillas, leftovers

Sunday--French toast, bacon, and fruit

Monday, February 21, 2011

Menu Planning Monday

It's almost too late to be called Monday but I finally got my planning done. This Monday was just thrown together, a combination of what was easy and what was new-and-exciting from this afternoon's Costco run! I am really excited to try the Moroccan chicken on Tuesday.

Monday--Meatballs, macaroni and cheese, fruit salad
FHE treat--chocolate chip cookies

Tuesday--Moroccan chicken with couscous (new recipe), steamed carrots

Wednesday--Baked red snapper, sweet potato pancakes, green beans

Thursday--Chicken enchiladas verde (with my homemade green salsa--woot woot), black beans, green salad

Friday--Seminary Teachers' pot luck dinner--pizza for the kids

Saturday--Vegetable soup, turkey sandwiches, orange slices

Sunday--Slow cooked pork loin, corn on the cob, spinach salad with berries


So what should I make for the potluck? I don't have an assignment. What is your favorite kind of thing to see at a covered dish event?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Menu Planning Monday

Monday--Chicken enchiladas, black beans, baby carrots
FHE treat--chocolate cake

Tuesday--Salmon and baked potatoes, green beans

Wednesday--Cilantro-lime chicken soup, quesadillas

Thursday--Rigatoni with spicy sausage, good bread, green salad

Friday--Pancakes and bacon, cantaloupe

Saturday--Hot dogs and smoothies

Sunday--Pork roast with mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables


We have been having family scripture study at the dinner table with marginal success.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Menu Planning Monday

Oh . . . hi. Did you think I forgot about this blog? No, I'm just extraordinarily neglectful. Sorry about that; I have no good excuse.

Is it finally getting chilly where you live? Here in the desert it's in the 70s, which for us is an excuse to pull out the sweaters and drink cocoa by the fire. I do enjoy the fall recipes that feature some of my favorite flavors, namely pumpkin and apple. And a nice bowl of chili or stew really hits the spot emotionally as well as gastronomically. Ah, Fall!

So here's the week's menu.

Monday--Beef stew with potatoes, onion, and carrots; bicuits
FHE treat--Apple crisp

Tuesday--Baked salmon, rice pilaf, green salad

Wednesday--Vanilla yogurt topped with pumpkin seed granola (I already made this and it's delish), ham and egg bake, canteloupe slices

Thursday--Chef salad (salad bar), apple-spice muffins

Friday--Pizza or eat out (?)

Saturday--YOYO (You're on your own) / Leftovers

Sunday--Chicken and rice soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, apple slices

Monday, June 21, 2010

Menu Planning Monday

I'm baaaaaack! Oh the summer . . . camps, trips, and fun. Now I'm back to planning.

Monday--Chicken enchiladas, black beans, chips and salsa, baby carrots
FHE treat--Strawberry slushes

Tuesday--Lentil curry (or chicken curry for the whimps, haha), rice, Naan bread, steamed vegetables

Wednesday--Chinese chicken cabbage salad, rolls

Thursday--French toast, sausage links, strawberries

Friday--Make-your-own-pizza bar, sliced honeydew melon

Saturday--YOYO (You're on your own)

Sunday--Beef short ribs (crock pot), baked potatoes, corn on the cob

Monday, May 10, 2010

Menu Planning Monday

Yes, we did eat real food last week. It was a lot harder without a menu though. Back on track for a short week!

Monday--Baked salmon, corn on the cob, green salad
FHE treat--Giant Brownie Sundae (because it didn't work out when the missionaries came over)

Tuesday--Taco bar (ground beef, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions--and spaghetti), refried beans, chips & salsa, sliced cantaloupe

Wednesday--Waffles, sausage or bacon, clementines

Thursday--Tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, sticks of carrots & celery

After that we're on the road to spend the weekend with the grandparents!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

No-Bake Cookies

When I die I'm sure this is what my children will remember me for. These are Tyce's favorite. This morning Bryce asked him, "Did you eat breakfast?" and he said, "Yes . . . a no-bake cookie." For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, people.

These take as much effort as Rice Krispy treats, if you've never made them before. They have oats in them, so you know what that means . . . healthy. Haha. And they're so good you'll need a menacing kitchen chicken like mine to stand guard. (But between you and me, she doesn't really help).


2 cups white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (like Hershey's)
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup milk (I have used 2% and skim and not noticed a difference)
1 pinch salt
3 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions: In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring sugar, cocoa, margarine, milk, and salt to a rapid boil for 3 minutes. (Note! If you do not boil long enough they will turn out runny and chewy and sticky--not good. I know from experience.)

Turn off heat; add vanilla. Add peanut butter and stir until melted. Add quick cooking oats; mix well.

Working quickly, drop by teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Let cool. If you've done this right, they'll set up in just minutes.

Lick the spoon so nothing goes to waste.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

YW Recognition Night

Tonight I had two delicious treats that I MUST FIND THE RECIPES FOR.

(Sorry for shouting.)

One was a lime slush. It was amazing.

The other thing was a pear tart. Don't let the boring name fool you. It shall be renamed "The Best Dessert Ever." No hyperbole here!

I know who to ask for the recipes, and if I get permission to publish them, I will share. Otherwise, I will keep them in my files and impress the heck out of you when I see you next.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Menu Planning Monday

Monday--(Missionaries) King Ranch Chicken, chips & salsa, black beans, green salad
FHE treat--Giant hot fudge brownie ala mode

Tuesday--Chicken Lime Cilantro soup (with broth from Sunday's whole chicken), cheese quesadillas

Wednesday--Baked tilapia, twice-baked potatoes, corn on the cob

Thursday--Giant green salad (one of my recipes printed in Taste of Home), homemade rolls (if I have the time)

Friday--Pizza for kids, Date Night for parents (!)

Saturday--Blueberry muffins, scrambled eggs, fruit salad

Sunday--Ham and Scallopped Potatoes (crock pot), mixed vegetables


So have you noticed we're eating fish once a week and vegetarian at least once a week? Good for us, right?

Friday, April 23, 2010

King Ranch Chicken casserole

I feel bad about throwing my mom under the bus on my post about picky eaters. Mom, I love you! I know you hate cooking but this is my favorite recipe from you and everybody loves it.

I make this whenever I need to deliver a dinner to someone. Add a green salad and black beans as sides and you're ready to go. It is the easiest of recipes--especially good for busy or novice cooks. (I made this a ton as a working newlywed.)

Photo taken from



2 10 ¾ oz. cans Cream of Chicken soup

1 10 oz. can of chicken

1 10 oz. can tomatoes with green chiles (I used Rotel and they do make a mild version if you don't like spice)

2 Tablespoons dried minced onion

15-20 Corn tortillas, quartered

3-4 Cups cheddar or Colby-Jack cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine soups with ½ cup of water. Add tomatoes w/ green chiles, minced onion, and chicken. Stir.

3. Spoon a thin layer of soup mixture onto bottom of an 8x8 or 9x13 pan.

4. Layer in the following order: tortillas, soup mixture, cheese. Repeat 3 or 4 times, ending with cheese.

5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until bubbly and the cheese is melted.

6. Let stand for 10 minutes. (It will be easier to cut).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Organizing Your Food Storage

Remember how I said we have a certain closet? I call it the food storage closet since it has our gigant-o can rotation system in it as well as a bookshelf full of macaroni and cheese. But the kids call it the TREAT CLOSET since that's what they care about.

I just went to the store: new Oreos, Chip's Ahoy, Slim Jims, almond packs, fruit snacks, mini-bags of popcorn, and Gatorade on top of the bookshelf.

It's very nice to have something to bribe reward the children with.

I'm lucky enough to have a closet to dedicate to food storage.

But here's the thing. Even though I *do* have room for a lot, there's no way all this would last us more than 2 months. Isn't that crazy? I don't know how someone would truly store enough for a year. But that being said, I really do like my shelf reliance rotation system. It's like at the grocery store, where you take a can of soup off the shelf and the rest of them roll down. I especially like something to help me take stock of my #10 cans. As you can see, I have room to add more tracks.

This is my pantry.

If your pantry / cupboard / closet shelves are deep enough I'd definitely recommend the cansolidator system. Shop around for the best deal; I ordered mine through and the shipping was free. It also operates on the first-in-first-out method. It's very easy to see what you have and what you need (and apparently I am out of canned pineapple).

Even if your kitchen is small I think you could find a place to put some of these (even if that place is in your linen cabinet or bedroom.) In my pantry I have two sets of the two-pack bundle at costco; 2 1/2 shelves on the top shelf and 1 1/2 on the bottom one. They fit together like Legos.

These three tubs at the bottom of the pantry hold rice, flour, and sugar. I wish they had flip-top lids . . . then my life would be perfect.

My goal is to make the food storage accessible and usable. I figure the more I rely on pantry staples the better off I'll be in the case of a shortage or emergency--meaning I'll know how to use what I have.

My friend Melanie has a list on her pantry door. She knows she wants to keep a certain number of everything (let's say, 24 cans of corn) and when she uses a can she notes it on her list. Then when she goes shopping she gets a can of corn to replace what she used. That's a great idea, don't you think?

As I'm writing this I realize I'm in no way an expert and I really have nothing amazing to offer you. But I do like my shelves. I guess I'm an expert at buying shelves and having Bryce and his dad put them together for me.

What do you use to help you keep organized?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Menu Planning Monday

Monday--Broiled salmon, baked potatoes, mixed vegetables
FHE treat--Strawberry Milkshakes

Tuesday--Sausage and spinach omelet (crock pot), banana bread, sliced cantaloupe

Wednesday--Pizza Margherita (homamade crust if I have time), green salad, grapes

Thursday--Pork tenderloin, rice pilaf, steamed green beans

Friday--Appetizer Night (chicken tenders, boiled ravioli w/ marinara for dipping, potstickers, onion rings . . . or whatever else I feel like buying), cut vegetables with Ranch, clementines

Saturday--Black bean and cheese quesadillas, leftovers

Sunday--Whole baked chicken (crock pot) with potatoes, carrots, and celery

I'm getting my hair done (finally!) on Tuesday. Why is it that salt-and-pepper hair looks so much better on men? Whenever I have somewhere to be in the evening I make a crock pot meal. Usually that's Wednesday because of Mutual, but this week we've moved Mutual to Saturday night to see a performance of "Savior of the World."

What are you having this week?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Feeding Picky Kids

I know this is a hot topic.

Some people say, They can eat it or go hungry. I'm not a short order cook.

Other people say, I like chicken nuggets and Pop Tarts too. It's easier to make that than fight about it.

Here's my philosophy. There are three things you can't control about another person: sleep, toileting, and eating. Once you try to control those things the other person will win at any cost. It may seem oversimplified, but don't push--and they won't push back. If  you can't be forced to eat something you find detestable, neither can they. (Even if that thing is something they ate last week, and is perfectly normal and free of "weird" ingredients . . . which I know is frustrating.)

My dinner meals consist of three items: the main dish, and two more "plain" foods that I'm fairly confident they will eat, like bread or fruit. If we have a main dish with separate ingredients, I serve the ingredients separately. For example with tacos I serve everything in little piles: ground beef, cheese, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, olives, and a taco shell on the side. The older kids serve themselves buffet style. 

I don't buy pre-packaged "kid" foods except for Kraft macaroni and cheese and frozen pizza, which they eat when they have a babysitter. I try to make homemade meals that I hope they'll like, but to be honest I'm really cooking with nutrition, cost, and my husband's enjoyment in mind. Some days I'm sure he would wonder about that!

My 5-year-olds can be nearly always be convinced to eat a few bites of the main dish food in order to get another piece of fruit or a roll or whatever.

But I must say, my pickiest eaters by far are the 10-year-old and the 13-year-old!!!!!!!

I think that in so many ways, older kids revert to toddler behavior. My little kids have good table manners; my older ones can be slobs. My little kids accept chore requests; my older ones can throw tantrums. My little kids will try new foods; my older ones can utterly refuse. Something about a school cafeteria completely ruins a sweet little kid's ability to eat politely. I think my 8th grader eats less of a variety of foods than any 2-year-old.

But here's the thing. He's had exposure to healthy-(ish) eating his whole life. We're no saints but I do think it's important to constantly offer fruits and vegetables and whole grains so they develop a taste for those things. Unfortunately he's in middle school where nachos and pizza and gummi worms are the main staples of a "normal" kid's diet. And so his tastes have shifted to high salt, high fat foods. But you know what . . . all that early training has not been in vain, because he has a number of whole foods that he loves.

 He likes tomatoes. He likes green-topped bananas, grapes, strawberries, and fresh pineapple. He likes green salad. He likes sunflower seeds. So I make sure to have those things on hand for snacks and on the dinner menu to round out his less-than-healthy midday munching.

So that's why I keep trying with the other ones. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains. Over and over. Would I rather have my kids love my homemade tuna-noodle surprise or a crunchy apple? In the end, I believe they will be better off loving fruits and vegetables than my (amazing! awesome!) home cooking.

That's the philosophy. Here's the practical application.

At dinner time they must sit with the family and join the conversation, even if they don't plan on eating anything. They may choose a fruit or vegetable to bring to the table. Once the meal is over and after-dinner chores done, they can make themselves a peanut butter sandwich if they want.

I don't make them eat any certain amount to get the Family Home Evening treat. Since we usually only have dessert on Monday nights I don't have to worry about that. I do use their behavior as leverage against the treat, but not their eating performance at dinner.

We don't have pre-packaged snacks in the pantry. When they're hungry between meals I have plenty of fruits and vegetables, string cheese, pretzels, and non-sugary cereal for them to munch on. However, we do have a locked closet with junk food in it like Air Heads, brownies, Cheetos, Gatorade. We're not Puritans. If they weren't locked up Bryce and I would be as likely to polish all that food off before the kids. After Saturday chores and on movie nights (and other times) we open the closet up so we can all pick out a snack or two (or three).

I'm hoping that by doing these things we can instill good eating habits in the long run. I know that's something I've had to combat. It's an uphill battle, especially if your foundation is based on fast food and pre-packaged food, like mine was. (Sorry, Mom.) Anyway, it's a long process but as the mother I'm determined to make the road to healthy eating as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Those peanut butter bars.....

....were awesome! Five stars, all the way.

One thing I liked was how easy they were to cut. You could definitely take these to someone's house and they'd look great (unlike the way I cut brownies.) I would recommend freezing them though before stacking or transporting, since the glaze is pretty soft at room temperature.

I would love to make these again. They have oatmeal in them, so if I'm having a bad day I can fool myself into thinking that they're healthy. Score!



3/4 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons water

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt


1-1/4 cups milk chocolate chips

1/2 cup butterscotch chips

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter


In a large bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter, sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, water and vanilla. Combine the flour, oats, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture.

Spread into a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake at 325° for 18-22 minutes or until lightly browned.

For glaze, in a microwave-safe bowl, melt chips and peanut butter; stir until smooth. Pour over warm bars; spread evenly. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting. Yield: 4 dozen. (**My note: made 24 nice squares. To make 48 they'd be quite tiny.)

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 each) equals 153 calories, 9 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 18 mg cholesterol, 114 mg sodium, 17 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein.

Glazed Peanut Butter Bars published in Taste of Home August/September 2007, p31

Monday, April 12, 2010

Week's Menu

Wanna know what we're having for dinner this week?

I usually try to eat fish once a week and have a vegetarian meal once a week. However, this time that's not happening. Next week I'll get back on schedule . . . I just have some things I need to use up.

Monday--Cheez-It Chicken, green salad w/ tomatoes, clementines
FHE treat: Glazed Peanut Butter Bars (I'll tell you if these are good when they're done--I must say that the batter is pretty great)

Tuesday--Navy bean soup (w/ leftover ham bone), corn bread, sliced apples

Wednesday--Tri-tip beef roast (crock pot); baked potatoes; mixed vegetables

Thursday--Turkey burgers, little bags of chips (before they go stale), cubed pineapple

Friday--Shredded beef tacos (from roast), homemade salsa & chips, black beans

Saturday--Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches; leftovers

Sunday--I haven't thought that far ahead . . . I'm usually pretty low-key on Sunday. To be honest, by then I'm a bit burned out on cooking.

Fruit Pizza

The jewel of all desserts! I would take this over anything, ANYTHING you might offer, and I'm a pretty big lover of all things sweet.

Essentially this is a giant sugar cookie with cream cheese frosting and fruit on top. If you don't like cream cheese, I have one thing to say: I am so, so sorry. Well, I actually I have something more constructive to add: you could substitute shortening for the cream cheese to make a more traditional frosting . . . but I can't vouch for the final product's awesomeness.

I make my own sugar cookie dough but you could probably use refrigerated dough from the store. This recipe is my absolute go-to recipe for sugar cookies. The recipe is double what you need for one pizza; you can make two, or make sugar cookies with the rest, or roll it into a log and freeze it for later.



2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (sometimes I use lemon extract)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.

 Roll half of the dough onto a pizza sheet (for Easter I used a 10-inch springform pan). Poke holes in the dough with a fork. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden. (Watch it, because I really can't remember how long I left this in.)

Let cool completely before adding toppings. If you're using a pizza pan, just leave it there. If you're using a springform pan, remove after 10 minutes and place on serving plate.

(For cookies, roll dough into balls and roll in white sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 8 min. at 375 degrees.)

Cream cheese layer:

4 oz. Neufchatel cream cheese (1/2 of an 8 oz. block; use more if necessary)
1 cup powdered sugar (use more if necessary)
1 teaspoon lemon juice


Beat all ingredients with a mixer until light and fluffy. Spread onto cooled crust.

Fruit layer:

Any fruits you love except bananas (I just don't want to deal with the browning), enough to cover the pizza; sliced


Arrange sliced fruit on pizza.

If you're like me, you will love this!

Potato-Sweet Potato Bake

I created this when I wanted to add more nutrition to mashed potatoes . . . and I didn't feel like making gravy. The rule of thumb I use is 2/3 russet potatoes, 1/3 sweet potatoes. Confession: I don't really like sweet potatoes. If you do, feel free to make the ration half and half, or maybe the whole darn thing.

I have also learned over the years to allot one potato per person when making mashed potatoes, especially if you have several things on the menu. (This has also served me well in planning for very large groups.) But you know your family. If they are potato fiends then you can adjust accordingly.

This recipe serves 6.


4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup light sour cream (I used Daisy brand)
1 T minced garlic (from the produce section--it comes in a jar)
2 stalks green onions, diced, green parts only
Salt and pepper to taste


Turn oven to 400 degrees. Bring a pot of salted water to boil; add quartered potatoes. Cook until tender. Drain water. Add butter, sour cream, salt and pepper. Mix with a hand mixer on medium, until smooth and creamy. Stir in green onions and garlic. Transfer to a baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Dot mixture with butter. Bake at 400 degrees until the top is brown (about 15 minutes).