Santa Hat Party Mix

This recipe was originally published on December 16, 2014.  It is such a fun and tasty looking Christmas treat that we thought we would bring it back.  Hats off to Amy for sharing it! (pun intended)

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.

Black Bean Salad With Citrus Dressing

I like to serve this as a side dish to many of my mexican main dish favorites.


2 cans black beans
1 can corn
8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved or diced
1/3 c. red onion, chopped
3/4 c. loosely packed cilantro, stems removed
1 avocado, chopped


juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 1/2 limes
1/4 t. cumin
1/2 t. agave or honey
1/8 t. salt


1.  Mix all ingredients except avocado.
2.  Mix the dressing ingredients and pour over salad and toss.
3.  Chop and add the avocado right before serving.

Source:  adapted from the

Apple Cobbler Cupcakes with Pumpkin Pie Frosting

Made these for a school party.  A mouthful of fall flavors!



1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 t. lemon extract
2 1/2 c. apples, roughly chopped and loosely packed


1.  In a medium-sized bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and ginger.
2.  Beat butter and sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
3.  Beat in eggs, sour cream and lemon extract until blended.
4.  Mix in flour mixture.
5.  Fold in apples.
6.  Divide batter evenly among 12 cupcake liners (they will be filled almost all the way to the top).
7.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the cupcake clean.

Pumpkin Pie Frosting


3/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
2 large eggs
15 oz. canned pumpkin
12 oz. evaporated milk


1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.  In a large bowl, beat eggs.
3.  Stir in sugar, salt and pumpkin pie spice.
4.  Mix in pumpkin.
5.  Mix in evaporated milk.
6.  Pour into 9″ pie plate.
7.  Bake for 15 minutes.
8.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out dry.
9.  Remove from oven and leave on counter for two hours before use.

*Put “pumpkin pie” into a piping bag or ziplock bag with a hole cut out.  Pipe frosting onto cupcakes.


While you can load a slice of pie directly into the piping bag, I found that the pie piped better if I put it in a large mixing bowl and beat it for about thirty seconds to evenly distribute any moisture before loading it into my bag.


We Are Capable of So Much More

It feels like I have spent a lot of time in my life just going through motions and living on the surface.  That is why the following comments struck home to me.  I should know better.  I have a divine lineage that sets me up to be so much more capable than I am on so many days.  Those darn natural man Goliaths can wreak havoc with even the best of us on days when we are doing the best, the very best we can.

“In the absence of a compelling testimony, some have let their daily
thoughts and actions become so focused on the things of the world that they
have minimized the influence of the light of the gospel in their everyday

“And then as Elder Neal A. Maxwell has so eloquently
described, also included are those ‘ “honorable” members who
are skimming over the surface instead of deepening their discipleship and
who are casually engaged rather than “anxiously engaged” (D&C
76:75; 58:27)’ (in Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 89; or Ensign, Nov.
1992, 65). . . .

” . . . President Gordon B. Hinckley . . .
said: ‘I have been quoted as saying, “Do the best you can.”
But I want to emphasize that it be the very best. We are too prone to be
satisfied with mediocre performance. We are capable of doing so much
better’ (“Standing Strong and Immovable,” Worldwide
Leadership Training Meeting, 10 Jan. 2004, 21).”

( Elder Donald L. Staheli, “Securing Our Testimonies,” Ensign, Nov. 2004, 37)

So, take comfort in the tender mercies of the Lord as we use daily repentance and trust in His atonement.  Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don’t expect it and often feel they don’t deserve it.”

Peek-a-boo Pumpkin Cake

There’s a pleasant surprise baked into every slice of this fall-inspired pound cake….a pumpkin!  Everyone will be asking, “How’d you do that”?

For the pound cake:

1 (14 oz) box pumpkin bread mix
1 (16 oz) box pound cake mix
Orange food coloring

For the icing:

8 T. (1 stick) butter
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 T. evaporated milk
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped pecans (optional)


1.  Mix up pumpkin bread ingredients according to the directions on the box.  Add orange food coloring to make it more “pumpkin-y” looking (less brown).

2.  Bake in a 9×5 inch loaf pan according to directions.  Remove from oven before completely done, about 8-10 minutes less than instructed.  Let cool, remove from pan and refrigerate for up to four hours.  Cut cold pumkin bread into large slices.  Cut pumpkin shapes from slices.  Align them (vertically) down the center of a lightly greased and floured 9×5 inch loaf pan.

3.  Make pound cake batter according to the directions on the box.  Pour over your pumpkin bread cutouts in the pan, making sure to cover the tops of the pumpkins.  You may have more pound cake batter than you need.  Try not to overfill the pan.  Bake according to the directions on the box.  Let cool when done.

4.  Put powdered sugar in a mixing bowl.  In a saucepan, melt butter and boil, stirring until it starts to brown and form dark flecks on the sides and bottom.  Remove from heat.  Pour the melted brown butter and flecks over the powdered sugar.  Add the evaporated milk and vanilla.  Stir until combined and creamy.  Add more powdered sugar if it appears too runny or more evaporated milk if it seems too stiff.

5.  Remove baked and cooled pound cake from pan and top with brown butter icing.  Add chopped pecans, if desired.  Cut into slices and delight your guests with the pumpkin-shaped surprise that peeks out from inside!


North Carolina BBQ Sauce

This sauce was a huge hit at our daughter’s graduation pig pickin’.  We cooked the pig in the sauce but you’ll want to add more to your plate when you eat your pork because it is that good!


4 c. cider vinegar
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/3 c. ketchup
1/4 c. butter
2 T. hot pepper sauce
2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 t. mustard powder
1 t. salt
1 t. fresh ground pepper


1.  Place all ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the stove and pour into a heat-proof bowl.  Cover and refrigerate the sauce for 2 days.

2.  Strain the sauce through a mesh sieve to remove the red pepper flakes.  Store the sauce in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

***I did not remove the red pepper flakes and I thought it was delicious that way.


Spider Deviled Eggs and Clementine Pumpkins

Just thought a couple of healthy treats would be nice for a change around the Halloween season.  No need for recipes here, just a few simple instructions.

For the Spider Eggs:

Make your basic deviled eggs.  Use a half black olive for the body of the spider.  Slice the other half into 4 segments to make legs.  You’ll need one and a half olives to make one spider.

For the Pumpkins:

Peel a clementine.  Insert a cut piece of celery into the top opening for a stem.

Source:  pinterest

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

This is a recipe you can make and freeze and cook at a later time.  These were yummy but I think I would cover them with foil when baking and/or add some sauce to make them juicier.


12-16 jumbo pasta shells
water for boiling pasta
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. freshly grated parmesan or asiago cheese + 1/4 c. for topping
3 T. prepared pesto (homemade or store bought)
2 c. shredded cooked chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste


1.  In a large pot over high heat, boil water and prepare pasta shells as directed on package, cook pasta shells only until al dente.  The pasta will finish cooking when the dish is baked.  Drain the pasta shells and set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, except the 1/4 c. of cheese for the topping.  Fill the pasta shells with the filling and place in a baking dish.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 c. of cheese over filled shells.

3.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells uncovered for 30 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and cheese melts.

To make ahead/freezer meals:

1.  Prepare as directed but place filled shells in an oven and freezer proof baking dish.  Top with remaining 1/4 c. of cheese over filled shells.  Cover and freeze.

2.  When ready to prepare, defrost, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and cheese is melted.

Sausage Potato Bake


1 pkg of smoked sausage, sliced into rounds
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
5 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
olive oil
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
sweet paprika
dried thyme
a handful of grated strong cheddar cheese


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a large baking tray (wtih sides) with several sheets of foil, and spray with cooking spray.  Set aside.

2.  Put the sausage rounds, onion and potatoes into a large bowl.  Drizzle with a couple of T. of olive oil and season to taste with salt, pepper, paprika and dried thyme.  Toss together with your hands until everything is evenly distributed.  Pour this out onto the baking tray, and spread it out as much as you can.

3.  Place into the heated oven and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until the potatoes are golden brown and tender.  Turn off the oven.

4.  Scatter the cheese over top of the cooked meat and potatoes.  Pop back into the oven a few minutes to melt the cheese.

Source:  Unknown

Live It Like The Stripling Warriors

My family has participated in an LDS outdoor drama for the past 6 years.  There are a couple of scenes from the Book of Mormon, one of which involves the stripling warriors–a group of 2,000 young men who were valiant and courageous.  The first couple of years we were in the pageant, my son Spenser was not tall enough to play the part of a warrior.  How blessed the day when he reached the height needed to play that part!  This is a picture from last year’s pageant.  Spenser is second one from the right.  He was much taller for the part this year!

From the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma states, “Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness.”  (Alma 57:21).  Is that not a mother’s dream come true for her children?

M. Russell Ballard:  “This was an extraordinary task for a group of 2,000 young men, but they were extraordinary young men.  According to the scriptural record:  “They were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.

“Yea they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him” (Alma 53:20-21)

The rest of the story tells how these young men fought valiantly against the much older and much more experienced Lamanite army.  Acccording to their leader, Helaman, “They….fought as if with the strength of God;….and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war” (Alma 56:56)

Imagine that?  These inexperienced young men were so spiritually and physically prepared, and so powerful, that they frightened their foes into surrendering.  Although all 2,000 of the young men were wounded in battle at one time or another, not one was killed (see Alma 57:25).  Again quoting Helaman, “And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe—that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power” (Alma 57:26)

…today we are fighting a battle that in many ways is more perilous, more fraught with danger than the battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites.  Our enemy is cunning and resourceful.  We fight against Lucifer, the father of all lies, the enemy of all that is good and right and holy…

This isn’t a time for spiritual weaklings…As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I call upon you to begin right now—tonight—to be fully and completely worthy.  Resolve and commit to yourselves and to God that from this moment forward you will strive diligently to keep your hearts, hands, and minds pure and unsullied from any kind of moral transgression.”  (“The Greatest Generation of Missionaries.” Ensign, Nov 2002, 46)

Ezra Taft Benson:  “You are to be the royal army of the Lord in the last days.  You are “youth of the noble birthright.” (Hymn, 1985, no. 255)

In the spiritual battles you are waging, I see you as today’s sons of Helaman.  Remember well the Book of Mormon account of Helaman’s two thousand stripling warriors and how the teaching of their mothers gave them strength and faith.  These marvelous mothers taught them to put on the whole armor of God, to place their trust in the Lord, and to doubt not.  By so doing, not one of these young men was lost. (See Alma 53:10-23; Alma 56:41-56) (“To the ‘Youth of the Noble Birthright’,” Ensign, May 1986, 43)