So, I spend a lot of time at our local Family YMCA.  Between Yoga, Body Pump and Zumba, I put in about 6 hours a week–and I work out at home a couple of days.  Anyway, sometimes our Y staff will provide copies of healthy, easy recipes for the patrons to take home.  I have tried a few and they usually turn out pretty tasty.  This hummus is no exception.  I think it took about 5 minutes or so to put together.  It took longer for me to do the “photo shoot” than it did to prepare the recipe.

This is an easy dish to customize, so if you DO like hummus–it’s an acquired taste–and you want a little something extra, try these:

  • Roasted Garlic–for a more mellow flavor, roast the garlic in the oven or on the stove top before adding to the chickpeas.
  • Roasted Red Pepper–use a small jar of red pepper strips (pimientos) and mix most of the peppers in with the hummus in the blender. For more flavor you can use the liquid in the jar in place of some of the oil.  Garnish with a few pepper strips.
  • Southwestern–Decrease the salt and pepper.  Add about 1/8 t. of cumin and a dash of cayenne pepper.


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  1. 1 15-oz. can of chickpeas, drained
  2. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  3. a few drops of sesame oil
  4. 1 t. fresh minced garlic
  5. 1 T. lemon juice
  6. 1/2 t. salt & 1/4 t. black pepper (to taste)
  1. Combine the chickpeas, oils, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor or blender.
  2. Process to desired consistency, scraping down the sides of the food processor a couple of times during the blending.
  3. If texture is too thick, drizzle in a little more olive oil or a small amount of water.
  4. Scoop into a bowl, stirring in salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Serve with pita chips, pretzels, or vegetables for dipping.
Adapted from unknown source
Adapted from unknown source
Mormon Mavens

Bacon/Cranberry/Pecan Stuffed Celery


What are your food traditions for Christmas?  Do you celebrate on Christmas Eve or do you wait until the 25th to party with your people?  We celebrate on Christmas Eve with a scratch-made (almost) Mexican dinner, and then on Christmas Day we join with more family and enjoy a go-to fare of finger foods. Everyone who can shows up at my parents’ home–at various times, but ending up together around 4:00 pm or so–for munchies of the savory AND sweet variety–followed by a rousing game of WINNER–one for the littles and one for the not-so-littles (by age)–this is usually followed by games of Trivial Pursuit–where it’s women vs. men–Psych, maybe a favorite Christmas movie and some football, of course.

My offerings this year were Kris Kringles–a family tradition which is like Rice Krispy Treats on steroids–and this new dish that I found on Pinterest.  You know how sometimes you try a recipe from there and sometimes it bombs? This one didn’t–it delivered as promised.  I seriously went back into the kitchen  numerous times for more of these celery treats instead of more sweet stuff.  I know–it’s hard to believe, but it is true. I must be growing up.  

Alas, the celery ran out before the filling did when I was putting them together.  So what’s a girl to do?  Form said filling into a cheese ball, put it on a small platter, and arrange crackers around it.  That was tasty, as well.  A versatile and visually appealing recipe.  I am adding this one to my holiday favorites.


Bacon Cranberry Pecan Stuffed Celery
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  1. 12 celery stalks, cleaned, cut into portions
  2. 1/2 lb crispy cooked bacon, drained and crumbled
  3. 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  4. 1/2 cup pecans, toasted in butter and chopped
  5. 1/2 cup craisins, chopped
  6. 2 green onions, finely chopped
  7. 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  8. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Cook bacon until crispy, drain on paper towels, then chop.
  2. Chop pecans, Craisins, and green onion.
  3. In a small bowl, combine: Cream cheese, bacon, pecans, Craisins, green onion, heavy cream, and garlic powder. Stir to mix well.
  4. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes so that the flavors connect well with each other.
  5. Clean celery and cut into desired portion size.
  6. To stuff celery, carefully spread cream cheese mixture into each portion of celery.
  7. Refrigerate until time to serve--keep chilled.
  1. Our original source used glazed walnuts, but I couldn't find any at the store so I substituted pecans which I already had on hand.
  2. The original recipe suggests using a piping bag with a LARGE tip or a Ziploc bag with a large hole cut in a corner to stuff the celery. I tried this, but my filling was too stiff, so I just used a small knife to spread it--and sometimes I just placed some in with my fingers.
Adapted from Just A Pinch
Adapted from Just A Pinch
Mormon Mavens

Easy Queso Blanco

queso blanco

Sometimes you just need some oozing, melty cheese.

Now, to get this one right and achieve oozing, melty nirvana you really do have to use White American cheese.  

Wanna know how I know that?  

Failed attempt.  That’s how I know that.  I tried subbing Monterey Jack and queso fresca and ended up with a big ol’ blob of seized cheese curd.  Even after a trip to the blender, it just couldn’t be saved.  

Time of death: five minutes before I ran to the store to get the good stuff.

Using the microwave makes this a super easy dish.  I mean, you can really do this in less than 10 minutes, you know?  

And it’s a crowd pleaser.  

Wanna know how I know that?  

Successful attempt.  That’s how I know that.  Multiple children crowded around dripping oozing, melty nirvana all over my kitchen counters.

Yep.  Sometimes you just need some oozing, melty cheese.  And maybe an ice-cold Dr. Pepper to wash it down with. 😉

Easy Queso Blanco
Oozing, melty cheese nirvana. From the microwave--easy!
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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
  1. 1.25 pounds of White American Cheese
  2. 2/3 cup whole milk
  3. 1/2 cup cold water
  4. 1/4 cup diced green chilies
  5. 2 pickled jalapenos, chopped
  6. 1 Tbsp. pickled jalapeno juice
  1. Cut the cheese (ha ha ha......sorry) into 1" cubes and place into a large microwave-safe bowl with the milk and water.
  2. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, stopping two to three times to stir the melting mixture.
  3. Use a whisk to incorporate the melted cheese fully into the milk/water.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring well to combine.
  1. White American cheese can be purchased at the deli counter. My grocery store only had Boar's Head brand, but it was super tasty.
  2. I had never heard of pickled jalapenos before! But there they were, right in the Hispanic food aisle. I had to hunt a little bit, but I found one brand--La Costena.
  3. You can serve this as a dip OR as a sauce for a Mexican dish.
  4. Store any leftovers in the fridge and simply reheat in the microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring well, until it's heated through.
Mormon Mavens

Jezebel Sauce

Jezebel Sauce

This recipe was originally posted on October 10, 2013.  We get quite a bit of Pinterest traffic on this one, so just thought we would share it again for the holidays.  It’s a tasty, easy dish to throw together when you have to take a treat to share at a party.

Here’s a quick and easy appetizer or snack for a party. It’s a spicier take on the traditional cranberry based sauce–you know that’s why it’s named after Jezebel…

 1 ( 18-oz.) Jar pineapple preserves (couldn’t find these at Food Lion, so I substituted crushed
 pineapple and a little sugar)
1 (18-oz.) Jar apricot preserves
 1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 (5.25-oz.) Jar prepared horseradish (I actually used the 3.5-oz. size which was plenty!)
1 tablespoon dry mustard

  1. In a large bowl, combine preserves, marmalade,horseradish, and dry mustard. Cover and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks. Makes about 3 cups.

     2.  Serve over a brick of cream cheese.

Source:  Paula Deen

Jezebel Sauce
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  1. 1 ( 18-oz.) Jar pineapple preserves (couldn’t find these at Food Lion, so I substituted crushed
  2. pineapple and a little sugar)
  3. 1 (18-oz.) Jar apricot preserves
  4. 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  5. 1 (5.25-oz.) Jar prepared horseradish (I actually used the 3.5-oz. size which was plenty!)
  6. 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  1. In a large bowl, combine preserves, marmalade,horseradish, and dry mustard.
  2. Cover and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
  3. Serve over a brick of cream cheese.
Mormon Mavens

Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

There are days when you just can’t think of a recipe to post, so you hit your trusty family cookbook to see if anything strikes your fancy–and if you already have most of the ingredients.  Today was that day.  After a quick trip to the store before work to pick up chives and cherry tomatoes, I was ready to prepare your post for the day.  This is actually a recipe that I taped into my cookbook without even trying it.  I have quite a few of those, from back in pre-Pinterest days, pre-save it to your computer days.  Yes, that long ago.  This one is clipped from a magazine.  I would guess at Better Homes & Gardens.  This is actually quite good and any leftover filling makes a great egg salad sandwich.
36 large cherry tomatoes 
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 T. Dijon mustard (I used regular because I forgot to get some at the store)
1/2 t. curry powder
2 T. chopped fresh chives
10 whole chives for garnish

1.  Cut a slice off the top of each tomato and use a spoon to remove the meat and seeds.  I actually cut off the bottom end so that the tomatoes would sit level on the platter.
2.  Set the tomatoes upside down on paper towels to drain.
3.  Put the peeled eggs in a bowl along with the mustard and mayo and mash with a fork until fairly smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and taste so you can add spices if you need to.  I added a little bit of salt.
4.  About 1 hour before serving, fill each tomato with egg salad, garnish with several 2″ chive spears standing up in the middle of the tomato.  Makes a lovely appetizer, don’t you think?

Baked Spinach-Artichoke Dip

This may not look like much, but it is so yummy. It’s from a Betty Crocker quick and easy cookbook that I have. I have been making it for years and it is always a hit. 
1 C. mayonnaise
1 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
1 package (10 oz.) spinach
1/2 C. chopped red bell pepper
1/4 C. shredded mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese
 Toasted baguette slices or assorted crackers (I slice my baguette in half lengthwise, spread with a bit of butter and toast in the oven til just golden on the edges. then I cut it into triangles or simple slices.)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. 
Cook spinach by microwaving in a microwave safe bowl with a touch of water until fully wilted, or by steaming in a pot until wilted. Let cool slightly, then squeeze to drain and roughly chop. 
Meanwhile, combine, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, artichokes, bell peppers in a bowl. Add the chopped spinach. Mix til fully combined.
Place mixture into a baking dish (I use my deep pie dish) and sprinkle with the mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese. 
Cover and bake about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve warm with baguette slices or crackers.

Sausage and Asiago Stuffed Mushrooms

I have always wanted to make stuffed mushrooms. I have had them at parties before, but had never made them up until the other day. I briefly looked online at a few different recipes and then came up with my own recipe on the day I made them. I love Asiago cheese and it lends a different flavor than Parmesan. The mushroom stems are sauteed with shallots and some herbs and then added to a mixture of cream cheese and cooked sausage. They are rich and flavorful and were a huge hit with my family.

20 large cemini (baby bella) mushrooms. You can use button mushrooms if you want.
8 oz. (1/2 package) sausage.
4 oz. cream cheese- softened
1/3 C. grated Asiago cheese
1/4 C. panko bread crumbs. Plus extra for sprinkling on top.
1 medium shallot-diced
mushroom stems chopped (rough end removed)
1/4 tsp. rubbed sage
1/4 tsp. thyme
S and P to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a saute pan, brown the sausage.

Meanwhile, wash the mushrooms and remove the stems. Cut off the rough end of the stem and chop the stems. Set aside. Place the mushroom caps in a 9×13 baking dish.

When sausage is done, remove from pan and drain on a plate lined with paper towel.

In the sausage drippings, add the chopped mushroom stems and diced shallot. Sprinkle with a little salt and fresh ground pepper. Add the sage and thyme. Cook til the mushrooms have shrunk down a little bit and shallots are soft.

In a mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, drained sausage, asiago cheese, panko crumbs, and mushroom stem mixture. Mix til blended.

Fill each mushroom cap with a heaping amount of the filling. Sprinkle each mushroom with a bit of panko bread crumbs, drizzle a little olive oil over the top the mushrooms and bake for about 20-30 minutes.

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

How can you go wrong with something wrapped in bacon? I got the recipe for these little gems from a friend in Florida. You have crunchy little water chestnuts wrapped in smokey bacon with a simple tangy, sweet sauce. A perfect little appetizer.

1 pkg. bacon
2 small cans water chestnuts
1/4 C. Mayonnaise
1/4 C. Chili sauce
1/4 C. Brown sugar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Cut the package of bacon into thirds. Drain the water chestnuts. Take a piece of bacon and wrap it around a water chestnut. Place seam side down on a large baking sheet. Continue process until all water chestnuts are wrapped up.

Place baking sheet in oven, bake for 15-30 minutes, depending on how well done you like your bacon.

Once the bacon is cooked to your liking, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Then remove the water chestnuts from the baking sheet and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

Make your sauce by combining the mayonnaise, chili sauce and brown sugar in a bowl. Whisk til there aren’t any lumps.

Put the water chestnuts in a small baking dish and pour the sauce over top. Place back in the oven to heat the sauce through (you can turn the oven temp down and keep them warm  until ready to serve.)

Serve and enjoy!

Note: I used just one baking sheet for this recipe, but the bacon shrunk down quite a bit and the yield was not very high. I would recommend doubling the recipe if going to a party or something.

Spinach Chips

A while back I posted a recipe for Kale Chips.  I never even considered that you could use another type of green but I like these Spinach Chips even better than the kale!  If you can find curly spinach it will probably be even easier, but the baby spinach leaves are great.  Just make sure you put them in a single layer not touching each other.  And take it easy on the salt–these are really easy to overseason.

2 cups fresh spinach leaves
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Italian seasoning, to taste
salt, to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with foil.
2.  Put the spinach leaves in a large bowl.  Drizzle olive oil over leaves and gently toss with your hand to evenly coat the leaves.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and salt and toss.
3.  Arrange the leaves in a single layer not touching each other.  Bake for 8-12 minutes or until leaves are crispy.  Take from oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes.  Use a spatula to remove from foil.

Source:  Divas Can Cook

Santa Hat Party Mix

This is so yummy and fun to make and to eat!  You’ll definitely want to take it to one of the many Christmas parties of the season.


Santa Hats

  • Bugles
  • Red melting disks
  • mini marshmallows
  • white sprinkles (nonpareils)

Snack Mix

  • 3 c. mini pretzels
  • 1/2 c. craisins
  • 1 c. salted dry roasted peanuts
  • 2 c. Rice Chex
  • 2 c. holiday colored M&M’s
  • 8 oz. white chocolate for metling

How to Make

Santa Hats

1.  Melt the candy melts, along with a tablespoon of shortening (to help thin the melted candy), in 30 second intervals on half power in your microwave until melted.
2.  Immediately start dipping.
3.  Let them set up for 10 minutes or so on parchment or wax paper.
4.  When they are set, remelt the red candy disks (if necessary) and dip just the bottoms (the large part of the Bugle) into the white sprinkles.
5.  Then flip it over and dip the top in the melted candy and press a mini marshmallow on top.
6.  Let dry on wax paper.
Snack Mix
1.  Spread all your ingredients, EXCEPT M&M’s and Santa Hats, out on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.
2.  Melt your white chocolate according to package directions and drizzle over the pretzel mix.  Transfer to a large bowl.
3.  When chocolate is set, sprinkle M&M’s and Bugle Santa Hats over the mix.