Strawberry Pretzel Bark

I love quick and easy recipes.  Especially when they look impressive!

This beautiful, swirly chocolate treat is a fun way to enjoy a little decadence–you could even give this as a gift!  Just remember to keep it cold as the chocolate warms easily to the touch and the freeze dried strawberries will have a better texture cold.

pretzel-bark

(this recipe is also shared in my Thrive Life recipes….hence my Thrive website url)

Strawberry Pretzel Bark
Easy but elegant, sweet and salty.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  2. 8 ounces white chocolate for baking (could also use vanilla candy melts)
  3. 1 cup freeze dried strawberry slices (I used Thrive, of course!)
  4. 1/2 cup salted pretzel sticks
  5. sprinkles of your choice
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper.
  2. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and melt for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each time, until the chocolate is smooth and melted completely.
  3. Pour 3/4 of the chocolate onto the paper lined baking sheet. Use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate into a thin, even layer so that it ends up in a rectangle about 9"x 12".
  4. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave in the same way you did the chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto the chocolate rectangle. Use the remaining melted chocolate chips to drop spoonfuls over top of the white chocolate spoonfuls. Swirl with a toothpick.
  5. Immediately place the pretzel sticks and strawberry slices on the surface, pressing down lightly.
  6. Refrigerate until set. Slide the bark with the paper onto a cutting surface and cut the bark into pieces. Serve right away, or store in the fridge in a covered container.
Notes
  1. You can use different freeze dried fruits--blueberries, raspberries, cranberries. All sorts of combos! And if you like it a little saltier, sprinkle on some sea salt too.
Adapted from Five Heart Home
Adapted from Five Heart Home
Mormon Mavens http://www.mormonmavens.com/

Easy Toffee

toffeeI have a friend who makes THE most amazing toffee.  

Seriously.  It’s total food crack.

And as much as I’ve always thought I would like to know her secret recipe, I actually kinda wish I hadn’t found this recipe (which is super close to hers, although I will always prefer hers!).  

Why?

Because I can’t stop eating it when I make it!

I made three batches to test it in different ways and each time I ate until I was sick!  I seriously have to watch myself around this stuff.

And I’m so happy that this recipe does NOT involve a candy thermometer.  I really hate those things.

 

toffee-collage

from left to right: just starting, all melted and boiling, beginning to thicken, the right color!, after the vanilla and ready to pour

 

Easy Toffee
A little salt gives this delicious toffee a beautiful flavor.
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup butter
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 5 Tbsp. water
  4. 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  5. 2 tsp. vanilla
  6. 1 cup milk chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Place a baking sheet on top of several towels or a wooden cutting board.
  2. In a cast iron skillet, melt the butter with the sugar and water. Once the butter is melted, adjust the heat until there is a consistent boil. Stir CONSTANTLY.
  3. Continue to adjust heat and stir for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture is caramel colored. Remove from heat.
  4. Add the salt and vanilla and stir well.
  5. Immediately pour onto the baking sheet.
  6. Wait a couple of minutes and then pour the chocolate chips evenly over the top. Allow the chips to melt completely, then spread the chocolate evenly with an offset spatula.
  7. Allow the chocolate to set completely before cutting/breaking up the toffee.
Notes
  1. You need the towels or wooden cutting board as a protection for your countertop. The toffee will make the baking sheet VERY hot!
  2. I tried this twice with milk chocolate block and could never get it to melt smoothly. I highly recommend using milk chocolate chips, which are formulated differently from block chocolate. They melt way better!
Mormon Mavens http://www.mormonmavens.com/

#LIGHTtheWORLD

light-the-world-pac

Amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it can be hard to lose sight of what’s truly important.

God.  People.  Relationships.  Love.

Isn’t it interesting that a holiday season technically focused on gratitude and peace on earth could be so cluttered up with things that, while fun, are not what’s most important?

Would you like to reconnect with what’s really important?

Would you like to find a way to reach out to others?

Would you like to reconnect with God?

Then, “LIGHT THE WORLD!!!!  In 25 Ways.  Over 25 Days”.

From mormon.org:
During Christmas, we are reminded that Jesus Christ is the light of the world. This year, we have an amazing opportunity to share that light by resolving to do the things Jesus Christ did. Every day leading up to Christmas, we will focus on a different Christ-like behavior and provide suggestions for ways we can emulate His example. You’re encouraged to participate using the outline below as you plan your Christmas activities.

 

light-the-world-page-1

light-the-world-page-2

It’s so easy.  Print off the calendar (from here or from mormon.org). Just take a little time each day and choose an activity (either one listed on the chart or do your own thing!) that celebrates and demonstrates the Christ-like character focus of the day. 

Will you?  Will you take a few moments and make this spiritual connection to feel more love, gratitude, peace, and joy this holiday season as we celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world?

 

Pizza Bowls

pizza-bowl
You know those videos you see on Facebook?  The ones where they show amazing food?  Well, I save those.  And sometimes I actually make the recipes!  But this one…this one was different.

A Food Network dude was talking about one of his favorite places and that they served these Pizza Pot Pies.  I was drooling!  I mean, they looked amazing.  But hey, this place had some kind of Sicilian crust thing going on and, of course, a fancy restaurant oven.  I can’t make that at home, can I?

Challenge accepted.

I had to work with what I had.  So I took some poetic license with their concept.  With the crust.  With the oven.  With the name, even.

But the result was, well…..UH-MAZING!!!

These things are the bomb at my house–every single person in my family loves them.  And, they are so customizable!  Plus, they are fun to experiment with.

pizza-bowl-varieties

Adjust your cheese, sauce, and toppings to fit your mood, taste, or leftovers in the fridge!  here’s what I used to make the above 3 experiments:

  • Philly Cheesesteak:  leftover flank steak, provolone cheese, Thrive Bechamel sauce, Thrive red peppers, Thrive green peppers, Thrive onion slices
  • Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo:  mozzarella cheese, grated Parmesan, Thrive Seasoned Chicken Slices, Thrive Broccoli, Thrive Onion Slices
  • Meat Lovers:  mozzarella cheese, bacon, diced pepperoni, Thrive Sausage Crumbles, Thrive Ground Beef

I can see my oldest daughter wanting an experiment with pineapple and ham.  And I’d love to give a dessert pizza a try maybe with some ricotta and cream cheese, Nutella, and strawberries!

Pizza Bowls
Serves 4
Upside down pizza pot pie goodness baked in a bowl!
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Prep Time
1 hr 20 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
1 hr 20 min
Cook Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
  2. 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. very warm water
  3. 3 3/4 cup Thrive Country White Dough Mix
  4. cheese of your choice (mozzarella, provolone, cheddar, etc.)
  5. sauce of your choice (spaghetti, pizza, Alfredo, Bechamel, etc.)
  6. toppings of your choice (pizza meats, veggies, etc.)
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast and the 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. very warm water. With the dough hook on the mixer, slowly add in the dough mix until well-combined, then let the machine knead for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the dough to an oiled bowl, turning dough over to coat. Cover bowl with a clean towel and allow to rest and rise for about 40 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Punch down and allow to rise again.
  3. Punch down and separate into 4 equal chunks. On a counter or floured board, roll or press out each chunk into a circle wide enough to cover the bowl and come down the sides of the bowl by at least an inch.
  4. Spray each bowl with nonstick cooking spray thoroughly. Also spray the outside rims a little. Layer 4-6 cheese slices in the bottom of each bowl.
  5. Mix the Tomato Sauce with the water until smooth. Pour 1/2 cup of sauce into each bowl.
  6. Add pizza toppings of your choice. It's okay to fill up the bowl to the top or even have it be mounded a little.
  7. (Note: you can use Thrive veggies and meats for toppings. Just refresh them first!)
  8. Take a circle of dough and carefully cover each filled bowl so that the dough goes over the edge and down the sides of the bowl by at least an inch.
  9. Place bowls on a large baking sheet making sure to leave space between them. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until deep golden brown on top.
  10. Remove from oven and brush the crusts with melted butter.
  11. Remove a bowl from the baking sheet and place it on a dinner plate. Take another dinner plate and place it upside down over the pizza bowl. Using both hands--thumbs on top plate and fingers under bottom plate--firmly and carefully turn the plates over. Remove the top plate.
  12. Using a couple of spoons, carefully release the bowl from the crust/filling by lifting up on one side. If cheese has stuck to the bottom of the bowl, use the other spoon to scrape it out. Carefully remove the hot bowl and set aside.
  13. Enjoy! You'll want to eat this with a fork and knife!
Notes
  1. Because I sell Thrive, I have a LOT of Thrive. So I used our bread mix. But you can use your favorite bread dough mix or bread recipe. Just use what you'd use for 1 loaf.
  2. I made this using our family's cereal bowls, which are OVEN SAFE*****. But you can use any oven safe bowl/ramekin. I've even used kid sized real baking tins. I like using the ramekins we have because it makes a smaller portion which is just right for me.
Mormon Mavens http://www.mormonmavens.com/

Egg-less Creme Brulee Pie

eggless-creme-brulee-pie-2

Yes, I know.  Eggs are a huge part of Creme Brulee so how can I call it that when there are no eggs?

Because it’s a free country, that’s why!

Okay, all sass aside.  I just can’t get past the creaminess of the pie the brulee-ness of the top layer.

Yes, I know.  Brulee-ness is not a word so how can I call it that when it’s not a word?

Because it’s a free country, that’s why!

Okay, we’re getting off-topic here.  The point is, you need to try this.  It’s such a simple pie and so good!  Even my pickiest eaters loved it!

eggless-creme-brulee-pie

Egg-less Creme Brulee Pie
Serves 12
A really simple but, yet it is so good! You'll be surprised!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
35 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 Deep Dish Pie Crust, at room temperature
  2. 4 Tbsp. cornstarch
  3. 3/4 cup sugar
  4. 4 Tbsp. butter, melted
  5. 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
  6. 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  7. 4 Tbsp. butter, melted
  8. 1/3 cup cinnamon sugar (mix it to your liking)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Use a fork to pierce the bottom of the pie crust. Place it on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch and mix well with a whisk until thoroughly combined.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt 4 Tbsp of butter. Then add the cream and the sugar/cornstarch mixture. Whisk well to combine; then continue whisking over medium heat until the mixture is very thick and creamy.
  4. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
  5. Pour this mixture into the pie crust, spreading out the mixture evenly. Pour the final 4 Tbsp. of melted butter carefully over the top. Then sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar.
  6. Bake at 325 for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn on the broiler. Set pie under broiler for about a minute. Watch it carefully so it will not burn.
  7. Remove from oven and carefully set the pie tin on a cooling rack to cool. Allow it to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least an hour so it can set.
  8. Store any leftovers in the fridge.
Notes
  1. It has to be a Deep Dish pie crust. The regular crusts are not big enough to hold it. You can also use refrigerated crusts or make your own. The crust in the pie tin just needs to be at room temperature.
  2. For the cinnamon sugar: I keep a jar of premixed cinnamon and sugar so I'm not sure on the amounts because I go by how it looks! But you could mix 1/3 cup sugar and put in 2-3 teaspoons of cinnamon.
Adapted from The Domestic Rebel
Adapted from The Domestic Rebel
Mormon Mavens http://www.mormonmavens.com/

The Miracle of Us

A week in bed, basically.  Another week of limited mobility.  Two more weeks of restriction from exercise.  Another two weeks of restriction from anything but low-impact exercise.

Yep.  That’s what surgery will do to you.

I recently had surgery on my left ankle to repair a partially torn tendon.  All went well.  Hardly any pain.  But I did have a fair amount of frustration with my limited mobility. 

What do they say?  You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

I thought I would enjoy a reason, an excuse, to lay in bed and be waited on.  And while the first few days of pain meds, napping, and Netflix were easy, what came after was a growing impatience for my freedom of movement.  

And I became very aware of how much I take the ability to walk normally for granted.  To bend, stoop, hop, even wear normal shoes.

Please don’t think I’m trying to garner sympathy.  My recovery has been pretty easy and basically pain-free.  And relatively short!  It just gave me a renewed appreciation for my body and the abilities that I have.

So I thought I would share this wonderful video about what miraculous, divine beings we are.  We truly are His greatest creations.

 

Waffle Cookies

waffle-cookies

My kids looooooove it when I make these.  They are old enough now to make them for themselves (although they still ask me to make the frosting most of the time because it, um, has no recipe–it’s in my head–but they made their own for this batch!).  

It’s a favorite for Family Night treat.  

They’re really easy to make.  

And, hello, FUN!  Cookies with a waffle iron? YES!!

Waffle Cookies
Easy, tasty, fun cookies that are a family favorite!
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  2. 1 cup butter, softened
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 2 tsp. vanilla
  5. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  6. 2 cups flour
  7. 1/8 tsp. salt
Instructions
  1. Cream together the butter and sugar well.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  3. Drop using a medium cookie scoop onto a heated waffle iron sprayed with non-stick cooking spray to keep the cookies from sticking.
  4. Close waffle iron and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. Carefully lift out with fork and set aside to cool.
  5. Frost with your favorite frosting.
Notes
  1. No recipe for the frosting, but here's what I do....I start with 1/4 cup of soft butter and cream it with some unsweetened cocoa (maybe 1/3 cup?), a teaspoon of vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Then I just start adding in powdered sugar. When it's too stiff to stir, I drizzle in a little milk. I keep this up till I get the taste and texture I want!
Mormon Mavens http://www.mormonmavens.com/

Autumn Baked Apples

baked-spiced-apples-4So it’s fall.  Yeah, I know.  It’s supposed to be pumpkin everything, right?

Well, for my money, nothings says fall like apples….warm and spiced.  So cozy.

And although my favorite apple dessert is Apple Crisp (my favorite recipe for that coming soon!) I’ll go for just about any baked apple thing.  And since I had a bunch of small apples that were past their prime, I figured this one was a good one to try.

Next time, I’ll try maple syrup in place of the honey.

baked-spiced-apples-1

baked-spiced-apples

 

 

Autumn Baked Apples
A cozy dessert for crisp fall days.
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 6 medium or 9 small apples
  2. 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  3. 2/3 cup old fashioned oats
  4. 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  5. 8 Tbsp. butter, softened
  6. 1 tsp. cinnamon
  7. 1/4 tsp. allspice (optional)
  8. 1/8 tsp. nutmet (optional)
  9. 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  10. 4 Tbsp. honey or real maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a skillet and set it aside.
  2. To prep the apples, cut off about 1/2" from the top. You can also cut a tiny amount off the bottom if you want to "level" the apples. Use a spoon to scoop out the middle, including the core. You can discard this part.
  3. Place the apples in the skillet .
  4. In a bowl, mix together the sugar, oats, flour, spices, and salt. Add the softened butter and work the whole mixture together.
  5. Divide the butter mixture between the apples, filling the cores. Drizzle honey or maple syrup over the apples.
  6. Cover the skillet with aluminum foil; bake for 15 minutes. Then uncover the skillet and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until the apples are cooked through.
  7. Allow to cool. Serve plain or topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Adapted from Dishing Delish
Adapted from Dishing Delish
Mormon Mavens http://www.mormonmavens.com/

DIY Mason Jar Spice Shelf

Have you ever had a project in mind but it was still just in the planning phases when suddenly you just decided that it had to happen now?

That’s how this spice shelf came to be.

See, I have this drawer.  (And by the way, I’m totally kicking myself for not snapping a pic of it before the project started.)  It was my spice drawer and it was a mess.  Problem was that it had two layers of jars and if you didn’t put each one back just so, you couldn’t close the drawer.  And I could never find all my spices.  And I didn’t even keep the baking spices there.  This was just the savory ones!  I hated that drawer.  I was so ready to change over to canning jars when I heard that my Canadian best buddy had done that.  

And one night I just snapped.

“I’m getting rid of all these stupid bottles right now!”

Never mind that I didn’t have a spice shelf made or even have the supplies purchased for it.  I had the jars (lots and lots of jars that I was able to get from a friend who dejunked them in a move) so I figured…why not?

bottles-to-jars

 

So, I pulled out every single stinkin’ spice and herb that I had in that drawer and hiding in any other cabinet in the kitchen!  I pulled them all out, put them on the counter, and my youngest daughter and I sorted them.  Yep, I had several multiples.  See, this was a good thing?  Now I’ll know exactly what I have.

I felt energized.  Giddy.  

empties

The carcasses of all those annoying little bottles!

Into the jars they went.

But in the absence of any labels, I used Post-It notes to keep track of what was what.  And those spice jars sat on my counter (in my very small kitchen) for two or three days while we worked on the shelves.  jars-with-post-its

But now that it’s all done.  I’m in heaven!  I absolutely adore it.  

on-the-wall

I’ll share with you how we decided the sizes and what we used.  You could totally customize this kind of shelf to whatever size you wanted.  I knew that I had 50 jars to accommodate so I had to base the measurements from that.  I figured 5 shelves was as much as would fit above the chair rail.  So we measured for 10 jars on each shelf with a couple of inches space  above the jars and an inch or so space between jars.  

To build the spice shelf, we used 1×6 boards and basically made a box.  Then we placed the 4 boards to make the inner shelves and screwed them into place.  Then we used trim pieces to make the shelf rails and nailed them into place using decorative tacks (they look kind of like miniature railroad spikes).  As you can see at the top there is a narrower board attached to the unit that is used to screw the whole unit into the wall–into studs…this thing is heavy!!

the-shelf

To get the barnwood look, I used a dark stain on the boards.  Then when the stain was dry, I dry brushed with some acrylic craft paints (‘cuz that’s what I had on hand!) and used a cloth to wipe and smooth the paint to get the desired look.  I found this part to be the most enjoyable!  I’d love to dry some green and/or blue on another project to see what kind of look that would give me.  

supplies

You can see below the board on the right has just the stain (applied with a cloth) and the board on the left has had some acrylic paint dry brushed and wiped on.  I didn’t want a perfect look–I wanted it to look worn and aged but not overly distressed.  I recommend prepping all the wood BEFORE assembly; it’s just easier.  

board-side-by-side

I just adore my new spice shelf!!  It was a real collaboration between my husband and myself.  Every time I look at it, I just smile.  It is a beautiful piece of art, in my humble opinion, and makes a real statement in my kitchen.  

I would LOVE to share detailed instructions with you, but honestly….we made it up as we went along.  And that was half the fun!!!  But feel free to ask any clarifying questions!  

labeled-jars

 

Chocolate & Coconut Cashew Bars

cashew-bars-2

If you haven’t met me before, allow me to introduce myself.   I’m the girl who wants dessert after every meal.  Every meal.

And also after snacks.

And also after watching TV commercials about meals and snacks.

And that’s a problem.

But luckily I’ve found a way to combat this.  

And I have to be honest.  I really had no faith in this recipe because I am a dessert snob.  If it’s described as a healthy dessert my mind immediately puts it into the “Yeah, right!” category.  And so I wasn’t expecting much.  

I distinctly remember my first bite.  I think I said something like, “Well, it’s okay, I guess.  But I doubt I would make it again.”  Which was followed by multiple bites that impressed me more and more.

A month later and I’m still making them!  

And you know what I love most about this recipe?  The bars taste so rich to me that it only takes one to satisfy!  So they last a long time!  And this has been so helpful for me in my quest to eat healthier and lose weight.  Vegan if you don’t use the honey.

I did tweak the recipe a bit.  It can be gluten free if you make sure that your oats are as well! 

cashew-bars-1

 

 

Chocolate & Coconut Cashew Bars
Yields 25
A healthy bar treat that is rich and satisfying! Great combo of a little sweetness and a little salt and a little chocolate and a little nut!
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups lightly roasted cashews (I used Planter's)
  2. 1 cup old fashioned oats
  3. 1/4 cup almond butter
  4. 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  5. 1/4 cup + 2-3 tsp. liquid sweetener*
Topping
  1. 1/4 cup liquid sweetener
  2. 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  3. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  4. 2-3 Tbsp. unsweetened coconut flakes
  5. sea salt to taste
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, process the cashews for a couple of minutes. Scrape down the sides if you need to. They will start to clump together a little, and that's good.
  2. Add the oats, almond butter, and sweetener and blend for another couple of minutes, scraping the sides down if necessary. This should form a sort of dough.
  3. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and lightly coat it with some non-stick cooking spray. Make sure the edges of the parchment come out over the edge so you can lift out the bars later.
  4. Spread out the dough and press it evenly to the edges.
  5. Make the chocolate topping by whisking together the liquid sweetener, coconut oil, and cocoa powder until smooth. Pour this over the top of the bars.
  6. Sprinkle with coconut and sea salt.
  7. Freeze for an hour or refrigerate for several. Then lift out the bars and cut them carefully into squares. I did 5 slices in each direction which gave me 25 bars.
  8. Store the bars in an airtight container in the fridge.
Notes
  1. *You can use agave nectar (although not actually healthy), honey, brown rice syrup, or maple syrup. I had some agave to use up and that was tasty, but like I said, not really healthy the way it's made today. I was worried that the maple syrup would be too strong, but it was perfect. Gotta be REAL maple syrup though!
Adapted from Dishing Out Health
Adapted from Dishing Out Health
Mormon Mavens http://www.mormonmavens.com/