Old Bay Shrimp Boil


I know this didn’t make it in time for your July4th shindig, but we had it for ours and it was amazing.  Have you ever tried one of these shrimp boils/low country boils/whatever boils?  So easy and so much fun to eat.  No plates or utensils required.  Easy-peasy clean up and easy to double or triple, depending on the size of your hungry crowd.  And kids even like it–have pizza delivered if there are a few hold-outs.  This was the first time that I have ever personally been in charge of making the boil–usually my sister Amy prepares it–but she wasn’t staying at the beach for the 4th and my Dad really wanted to have it for a big family meal.  He calls it a “Shrimp Dump.”  As you can see from the picture above, that is a good description.  

Here are a few time-saving tips if you can spare a few more dollars–and it is well worth it:

  • Buy the mini frozen ears of corn–I got store brand.
  • The mini red or white potatoes that are already washed and ready to cook work great
  • This can be cooked on your stove, but we have a propane-powered turkey fryer and it was so great being able to do this instead of having two large stock pots on the stove at the same time.
  • Have your Dad pay for and pick up the shrimp fresh the morning of your meal–ours was caught the night before and they were so fresh and tasty.
  • Use plastic, disposable tablecloths because when you are done with the meal and have put away any small amount of leftovers, you just roll those tablecloths up and toss them in the garbage can, shells and all.
  • I purchased some cute cardboard food trays that were displayed with the tablecloths and these were perfect for guests to put their shrimp shells into.

Get at it!

Shrimp Boil
Serves 8
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  1. 1/2 cup Old Bay Seasoning
  2. 2 T. salt
  3. 1/2 c. minced onion (you can use large Vidalia onions cut in quarters)
  4. 4 quarts water
  5. 1-2 pkgs. of ready-to-cook baby white or red potatoes, skin on
  6. 2 lbs. Hillshire Farms Turkey Kielbasa, cut into 2-inch chunks
  7. 2 pkgs. (6 each) mini frozen corn cobs
  8. 4 lbs. medium shrimp, in shells
  1. In an 8-qt. stock pot, bring Old Bay, salt and water to a boil.
  2. Add potatoes and onions; cook over high heat for 8 minutes.
  3. Add kielbasa; continue to cook on high for 5 minutes.
  4. Add corn and boil another 7 minutes.
  5. Add shrimp, shells on, and cook for about 4 minutes. Once they turn pink they are ready. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
  6. Drain your liquid from the pot and pour contents onto your table--make sure the tablecloths are on. You could also use newspaper.
  1. Original recipe calls for 1 (12-oz.) can of beer, but we don't drink so we just left it out and added a little more water.
  2. We use Crosse & Blackwell Cocktail Sauce and just pour it right onto the tablecloth in as many "piles" as you need.
  3. Also good to melt several sticks of butter and put into small bowls on the table so that guests can either dip their corn in it or maybe their shrimp. Or why not the spuds?
Adapted from Food.com
Adapted from Food.com
Mormon Mavens http://www.mormonmavens.com/

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.


(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
  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
  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.
  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 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 http://www.mormonmavens.com/

Guava Punch

guava punch 2One of the great things about moving around a lot is that you get to collect awesome recipes from new friends across the country.  Our 6 1/2 year stint in El Paso, Texas brought me some amazing recipes, collected from many bridal/baby showers, church functions and meals with friends.  This punch recipe was from a baby shower (I think) at my friend Connie’s house.  I could not stop drinking it and finally asked her for the recipe.  There is not an easier recipe on the planet, let me tell you.  And I have served this punch at many functions–like both of my daughters’ wedding receptions!  

Guava Punch
Versatile, tasty punch recipe.
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  1. 1 carton (half gallon) Welch's Guava Juice (Guava Pineapple also works), chilled
  2. 2 liter bottle of Sierra Mist (really, that little taste of grapefruit makes a difference), chilled
  3. ice
  1. Pour the guava juice into a punch bowl.
  2. Add Sierra Mist to taste, but it is usually the whole bottle.
  3. Add crushed ice (if you have a Sonic Restaurant nearby, go get a bag of that ice!)
  1. One cool thing I did for the wedding receptions was to get extra Guava juice and pour into molds and freeze them. They make great "ice rings" and keep the punch cold. Do this in place of the crushed ice. I put the frozen punch in individual gallon or quart size zip top bags and store in freezer until needed.
Adapted from Connie Chesshire, El Paso, Texas
Adapted from Connie Chesshire, El Paso, Texas
Mormon Mavens http://www.mormonmavens.com/

Kristen’s Lime Punch

kristen's lime punch
This recipe was originally published on December 4, 2014.


It’s party planning time and you know what that means–scrambling for the fave recipes that will wow your crowds. If you need a super easy, incredibly tasty punch, this is your lucky day. It goes well with any venue you can throw at it. Do you wonder about the name?  I first tried this at a Pampered Chef party given by my friend, Kristen, in Horizon City, Texas back in the late 90s.  Kristen, if you are out there in the blogosphere and happen to see this recipe, say hello!  Last time I got a Christmas card you guys were still in the Midwest and your husband was working at…hmmm…Indiana University?

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
6-oz. can of frozen  limeade concentrate
Juice of 2 limes
2 liter bottle of lemon-lime soda

Boil sugar and water together until sugar dissolves.  Chill.  Squeeze juice of 2 limes and add to chilled sugar water.  Make the limeade according to directions on can.  Add to sugar-lime water.  Add lemon-lime soda to taste–don’t use the whole 2 liter bottle.  Just taste as you go.

Toast to America! (my family will totally get this.)


  • I like to add crushed ice (Sonic ice is the best, if you can get it!) or make a decorative ice ring ahead of time from the punch before adding the soda.
  • Just googled this great tip from Chowhound.com for rimming glasses with sugar (or salt)–get a section of a tangerine or clementine, cut a small slit in it and then run it around the rim of your glass.  Dip glass in sugar and viola!

Kristen's Lime Punch
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  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 6-oz. can of frozen limeade concentrate
  4. Juice of 2 limes
  5. 2 liter bottle of lemon-lime soda
  1. Boil sugar and water together until sugar dissolves. Chill.
  2. Squeeze juice of 2 limes and add to chilled sugar water.
  3. Make the limeade according to directions on can. Add to sugar-lime water.
  4. Add lemon-lime soda to taste–don’t use the whole 2 liter bottle. Just taste as you go.
  1. I like to add crushed ice (Sonic ice is the best, if you can get it!) or make a decorative ice ring ahead of time from the punch before adding the soda.
  2. Just googled this great tip from Chowhound.com for rimming glasses with sugar (or salt)–get a section of a tangerine or clementine, cut a small slit in it and then run it around the rim of your glass. Dip glass in sugar and viola!
Mormon Mavens http://www.mormonmavens.com/

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.

Bistro Chicken Twist

This recipe comes from a good ol’ Pampered Chef recipe book. I have been making it for years and used to make it for my family on Christmas Eve before we decorated Christmas cookies.

1 C. Chopped cooked chicken
1/2 C. diced red bell pepper
1/4 C. snipped fresh basil leaves
1/4 C. grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 C. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 C. mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, pressed
2 packages (11 ounces each) refrigerated French bread dough-I use frozen bread dough, thawed.

1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 Tbsp Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl, combine chicken, bell pepper, basil, 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, mayonnaise and garlic. Mix well.

Place bread dough on a greased cookie sheet. With a knife, cut each loaf length wise, end to end, halfway through. Then, use your hands to spread the dough about a bit.

Spoon half the chicken mixture into each of the two loaves. Gather up the edges over the filling, pinching to seal. Turn the two loaves over so the seam sides are down.

With the two loaves next to one another, crisscross them together. Leave a 1 1/2 inch space between the two loaves in the centers of the figure eights that you created.

Combine the egg white and the Italian seasoning. Brush over the top of the twist. Cut a small slit in the tops of the twist to expose the filling. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes.
Slice and serve.