Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A New Blog and a New Book Especially for Grandmothers

Hello!  And welcome to a new blog especially for Grandmothers! It is an outgrowth of a new book called Grandmothering, The Secrets to Making a Different While Having the Time of Your Life which is coming out on April 1st, 2018. After six months of not only mind-blowing experiences in organizing and expressing my thoughts, but also in gathering the deep and delightful wisdom of many friends who are fabulous grandmothers, the book has just been posted on Amazon.

As a mother of young children I wrote two books that brought to life the stage of life that I was experiencing at that moment. The first was  I Didn’t Plan to Be a Witch, which described the real life of a mother in the trenches. :) Several years later I wrote A Joyful Mother of Children, written in the stage when one begins to realize the children won’t be with you forever. Twenty years later, I have spent the last six months writing about the things that I have learned and loved about being a grandmother. Our little cluster of Grandchildren now number twenty nine with two more arriving in mid April. 

Ideas include possibilities for one-on-one and groups adventures with grandkids, creating “Grammie Camps”, including in-laws, the joy of welcoming new babies, how to keep your mouth closed when necessary :), taking care of yourself, the problem of kids’ entitlement, a new way to give grandchildren grit and ideas for memorable reunions.

There are two unique aspects of this book that are only possible because of the Internet. First, several of the ideas suggested in the book can actually be seen by going to the link of an easy-to-access website where you see what has been described with further explanations and beautiful photography from our daughters’ blogs. Plus you can see our pretty wild reunions in living color

The main reason for starting this blog was that there is an appendix at the end of the book that includes something that we hope will be very valuable for grandmothers who have ever worried about what to feed their children and grandchildren when they come home to enjoy being together. The title of the Appendix is Recipes to Feed a Crowd. This mini-cook-book has favorite recipes from reunions/family and friends At the suggestion of our daughters, you willl see a click to all the recipes on the bar below the picture with the grandkids, where you will find the recipes from the book. Click through and see what might work for you. If you like a recipe but don’t have the book handy, you can easily access the recipes from any computer or device by going to grandmotheringbook.com. If you know the name of the recipe from the book, just enter it in the search bar and it will pop up. Kudos to our darling Granddaughter who accomplished the time consuming task of entering the recipes. 

All recipes will feed about 12-16 people, depending on the ages and appetites of your crowd and the amounts are already measured for you without the fuss of doubling or tripling a recipe for 6 or 8.

In addition the final section is called Feeding a Really Big Crowd which was created by our beloved co-grandparent Tess Wade who is not only a splendid cook, but spent 18 months feeding from 60-80 people regularly as she and her husband cared for (and fed) a large group of young adults in London on a church assignment. Some of you seasoned grandmothers with lots of progeny might be ready to use those for your reunions. If your crowd isn’t that big yet, feel free to half or quarter the recipes to fit the size of your crowd. 

We would love your comments and/or adjustments that you find as you use these recipes!  

This post will be active with this initial information until after Mother’s Day (May 13th) as the book will hopefully be a nice gift for you GRANDmothers.  If “some people” have forgotten that you are still a Mother…only grander…you may want to get it for yourself. As mentioned earlier, It is available at Amazon.

After Mother’s Day I’ll begin posting new ideas that have been flooding in since the book was published from creative grandmothers. Please share your own ideas in the comment section of this and subsequent posts.

This blog will also be repository for the adventures that we have had with our grandchildren. Here is a glimpse of our latest adventure with five of our grandsons (2 twelve year olds, 2 thirteen year olds and 1 fourteen years old) on a “Crazy Cousins’ Cruise.” See those cute faces in anticipation as we began our adventure below!  Happy Days…

Thanks for joining the Grandmothering journey with me on this blog! 

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Easy Corn on the Cob for a Big Crowd

Here's a game changer for serving corn on the cob for a big family reunion or Labor Day barbecue. This is a great idea from  @R2sense.

Ears of corn
Water for boiling


1. Shuck as many ears of corn as you need for your party and put them in a large, clean picnic cooler.

2. An hour or two hours before the party, boil enough water to cover the corn, pour it over the corn, and close the lid.

3. Drain the cooler when your guests arrive, and close the lid until ready to serve! Voila! You have perfectly cooked corn!

Easy Cornbread

Serves 50-60. Goes well with the Lentil Vegetable Soup or Quinoa and Sweet Potato Chili.

2 cups butter 
2/ 3 cups sugar 
16 eggs, well beaten 
8 cups buttermilk 
4 teaspoons baking soda 
8 cups flour
8 cups cornmeal
4 teaspoons salt

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan.

2. Add sugar and mix well.

3. Add all other ingredients; mix well.

4. Bake in greased pans for 30 minutes at 375 degrees F  (190 degrees C).

Everyday Meatloaf

Serves 50-60.

Meatloaf Ingredients: 
4 cups dry breadcrumbs
6 cups milk
9 pounds (4 kilograms) ground beef
12 beaten eggs
1 1/ 2 cups grated onion
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon sage

Sauce Ingredients:
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 cups ketchup
2 tablespoons dry mustard

Optional Sides:

Steamed salad potatoes Prepared frozen peas

1. Soak breadcrumbs in milk.

2. Add meat, eggs, onion, and seasonings; mix well.

3. Form into four greased aluminum pans (you can find these at Costco).

4. Combine all sauce ingredients well.

5. Cover meat with sauce and bake at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) for 1 hour.

6. Serve with steamed salad potatoes and prepared frozen peas, as desired.

Oriental Chicken Salad

Serves 50- 60.

Salad Ingredients: 
1 cup toasted sesame seeds
1 large bag Costco chicken breasts, boiled and broken up
1 cup slivered almonds
8 heads cabbage, shredded
16 green onions with tops, sliced
8 packages ramen noodles, broken up

Dressing Ingredients: 

1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons salt
1 1/ 2 cups vinegar
4 cups olive oil
4 teaspoons pepper

1. Evenly combine all salad ingredients in several bowls.

2. Whirl all dressing ingredients in blender.

3. Pour dressing over salad, and mix to combine.

4. Refrigerate overnight or for several hours before serving.

Chicken Florentine Artichoke Bake

Serves 50- 60.


48 ounces whole wheat fusilli or bowtie pasta
6 small onions, chopped
6 tablespoons butter
12 eggs
7 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons dried italian seasoning
1 1/2-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (optional)
12 cups chopped cooked chicken
12 cups shredded cheese
2 32-ounce jars artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
2 large Costco bags spinach (about 15 cups), steamed and drained thoroughly
3 cups oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 cups grated parmesan cheese
3 cups soft breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon paprika
2/3 cup melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Cook pasta and drain.

2. In a medium skillet, saute onion in butter until tender, then set aside.

3. In bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, seasoning, salt, and red pepper. Stir in chicken, cheese, artichokes, spin­ ach, tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups parmesan, cooked pasta, and onion.

4. Transfer to six 9x13-inch baking dishes and bake cov­ ered for 20 minutes.

5. In small bowl, combine remaining 1 1/2 cups parme­ san cheese, breadcrumbs, paprika, and melted butter. Sprinkle over pasta.

6. Bake uncovered 10 minutes or until golden.

Vegetarian Enchiladas

Serves 50-60.

Sauce Ingredients

3/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons cumin
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups tomato paste 
3 quarts vegetable broth 
4 1/2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

Filling Ingredients

72 ounces grated cheese
6 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 large bags Costco spinach (about 15 cups), steamed, drained thoroughly, and chopped
5 cups frozen corn
4 bunches chopped spring onions (divided) 
2 tablespoons cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
96 4-inch corn tortillas or 64 8-inch flour tortillas

1. Heat oil, and then add cumin, flour, and tomato paste. Cook 1 minute, whisking.

2. Whisk in broth and water, bring to a boil, and simmer until slightly thickened (5-8 minutes). Salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

3. For filling, combine 2/3 of the cheese (saving 1/3 for top­ ping) and all the beans, spinach, corn, the white portion of the spring onions (reserve green portion for garnish), cumin, and salt and pepper.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C) and lightly oil six 9x13-inch baking pans.

5. Stack one-third of the tortillas in a damp paper towel and warm in the microwave for 1 minute. Then repeat for the other two-thirds.

6. One by one, fill tortillas with about 1/3 cup filling, roll tightly, and arrange in baking dish, seam down.

7. Cover enchiladas with the sauce and top with remaining cheese.

8. Bake 20-25 minutes, until sauce is bubbly. Remove and let cool 5 minutes.

9. Top with remaining spring onions and serve.

Soul-Soothing Soup

Serves 50-60.

2/3 cup olive oil 
6 diced onions
1/3 cup diced garlic  
1 small jar jalapenos, seeded and diced 
6 chopped sweet potatoes
6 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes with juice
Salt and pepper to taste 
2 cups peanut butter
4 quarts vegetable broth
3 tablespoons mild chili powder 
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
6 14.5-ounce cans rinsed/drained chickpeas 
2 large bags Costco spinach (about 15 cups) 
2 32-ounce containers plain greek yogurt
2 bunches chopped coriander/cilantro

1. Saute onions and garlic in oil until tender.

2. Add jalapenos, sweet potatoes, canned tomatoes, and

salt and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes.

3. In a bowl, whisk peanut butter with three cups of broth until no lumps remain. Stir into ingredients prepared above with the rest of the broth and the spices.

4. Cover and simmer 30-40 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender.

5. Stir in chickpeas and spinach and simmer until spinach is just wilted.

6. Add a dollop of yogurt and garnish with cilantro.

Jacket Potatoes

Serves 60- 80.

3 bags Costco baking potatoes 
2 bags broccoli
2 32-ounce (2-pound) containers of plain greek yogurt 
1 bag grated cheese

1. Bake potatoes in batches as big as your oven can handle!

2. Meanwhile, steam broccoli until tender.

3. Set out toppings and allow everyone to add whatever they like to their potatoes!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Quinoa and Sweet Potato Chili

Serves 60-80.

1/3 cup olive oil
6 onions, chopped
1/2 cup minced garlic
6 6-ounce cans tomato paste
1/3 cup chili powder
1/3 cup cumin
2 tablespoons oregano
12 15.5-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained (1.5 kilo­ grams dry beans)
1.5 gallons vegetable stock
6 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
6 cups quinoa
Avocado, cilantro for garnish (optional)

1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft and brown. Add garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.

2. Add tomato paste and spices and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

3. Add beans, stock, and potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the quinoa.

4. Continue cooking for about 15-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until quinoa and potatoes are cooked and the chili has thickened.

5. Add a bit of water if the chili becomes too thick for your liking.

6. Top with avocado and chopped cilantro.

Fresh Salsa

Serves 60- 80.

25 fresh tomatoes, chopped 
4 cups chopped onion
6 jalapenos, seeded and minced
2 large bunches chopped cilantro/coriander 
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper 1/3 cup minced garlic

1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor until desired consistency is achieved.

Burrito Bowls

Serves 60-80.

15 cups dried rice, cooked
15 cups dried beans, cooked
15 cups chopped lettuce or steamed kale
10 cups cooked corn
10 avocadoes, chopped (optional)
Fresh salsa (see recipe on this blog or buy in bulk)
Tortilla chips

1. Layer all ingredients in individual bowls or plates, top with salsa, and serve with chips.

Lentil Vegetable Soup

Serves 60-80.

8 16-ounce bags brown lentils 
16 onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup crushed garlic
16 carrots, finely chopped
35 small white potatoes, scrubbed and chopped 
8 15.5-ounce cans fire-roasted tomatoes
2 gallons vegetable broth
15 cups chopped spinach (2 large Costco bags) 
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse lentils and brown onions and garlic.

2. Combine all ingredients except spinach and salt and pepper to taste in large pot.

3. Cook on low for 2 hours.

4. Add spinach 5 minutes before serving.

5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Chuck's Favorite Mac and Cheese

Serves 60-80.

4 large onions, chopped 
1/4 cup chopped garlic 
Olive oil
8 kilograms (17 pounds) whole wheat pasta (macaroni or your choice)
2 5-pound bags grated cheddar cheese (can be found at Costco) 
8 16-ounce containers small-curd cottage cheese
2 32-ounce containers plain greek yogurt 
2 cups grated parmesan cheese
1 12-ounce box cornflakes, crushed (about 12 cups) 
2 cups melted butter

Directions:1. Saute onions and garlic in oil and season.

2. Cook pasta.

3. Mix in cheddar and cottage cheeses, yogurt, and onion/ garlic mix.

4. Mix parmesan, cornflakes, and butter in a separate bowl to create a crumble topping.

5. Place pasta mixture in six greased foil pans, top with crumble, and bake uncovered at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) for 20-25 minutes.

6. Uncover and brown for 10 minutes.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Crunch

Of course every grandma needs another chocolate chip cookie recipe. Saydi adopted this recipe from her mother-in-law and makes it with Rice Krispies several times at the reunion. Last year, she won the Cookie Bake-off Contest with this recipe. Makes about four dozen cookies. Double if necessary.

2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoon baking powder
4 cups oats
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 cups Rice Krispies

1. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.

2. Add eggs and vanilla.

3. Add salt, flour, baking soda, and baking powder.

4. Add oats, coconut, and chocolate chips.

5. Add Rice Krispies and stir until just mixed.

6. Drop onto a cookie sheet by spoonfuls or with a cookie scoop.

Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 8-9 min­utes, depending on the size. The cookies may look a bit undercooked, but that's how we like them

Healthy(er) Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/4 cups (1 15-ounce can) canned pumpkin 
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla 
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 cups flour (you can use 3 cups white flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour, if desired)
2 teaspoons baking soda 2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 1/ 2-2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (depends on how choco­ latey you want them to be!)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1. Mix together all the wet ingredients and the sugar.

2. Add the flour one cup at a time, mixing between each cup.

3. Add the baking soda and spices with the last cup of flour.

4. Fold in the chocolate chips.

5. Add a cup of chopped walnuts or pecans if you like.

6. Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick spray.

7. Bake at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) for 10-12 min­ utes-be sure not to overbake! Take cookies out when they're still a bit doughy looking.

Bear Lake Brownie Cake

This is an Eyre all-time family favorite for a quick dessert that feeds a crowd. The amount of people this recipe serves depends entirely on how small the slices are cut ... we recommend a big ol' slice for everyone. :)

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup water
1 cup butter
1 1/ 2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/ 2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk plus 1/2 teaspoon vinegar)
2 eggs

Frosting Ingredients: 
1/2 cup butter
4 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons milk
1 pound (about 4 cups) powdered sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional) 

1. Mix the flour and sugar and set aside.

2. Melt the cocoa, water, and butter in a saucepan.

3. Add the melted mixture to the flour/sugar mixture.

4. Add baking soda, vanilla, buttermilk, and eggs. Mix all

well to combine .

5. Pour into a greased jelly roll cooking sheet. Cook at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 20 minutes.

6. While the cake is cooking, prepare the frosting. First, melt the butter, cocoa, and milk in a saucepan.

7. Add the powdered sugar and nuts, and mix to combine.

8. Spread the frosting on the cake while it is still warm and cool. The cake freezes well and can be easily doubled if you have two sheet cake pans.

Chocolate Chews

We love to whip up these no-bake cookies when we are gathered as a large group. They are quick and easy and so very delicious!

2 cups sugar
1/ 4-1/2 cup cocoa (depending on your preference of chocolatey- ness!)
1/2 cup milk
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups oats

1. Combine sugar, cocoa, milk, and butter in a saucepan over medium heat, mixing as butter melts and all ingre­ dients come together to a boil.

2. As soon as the mixture begins boiling, turn down heat to low and let simmer for exactly 4 minutes. The timing is really important-if you boil too long, you'll have really dry, crumbly cookies, and if you boil for not long enough, they'll turn into a goopy mess.

3. As soon as the 4 minutes are up, take the saucepan off all heat and add the vanilla and the oats. Mix together well.

4. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper or tinfoil.

5. Let cookies sit for about 30 minutes in the fridge, and then enjoy after they have completely set.

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

It's perfect for a family celebration!

1 box yellow cake mix 
1/2 cup sugar
1 package (3.9 ounces) instant chocolate pudding
3/ 4 cup vegetable oil 
3/4 cup water
4 large eggs
1 8-ounce carton sour cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Combine and whisk together cake mix and sugar.

2. Add other ingredients except for chocolate chips and mix until smooth (but don't beat).

3. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Pour into greased and floured bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) for 1 hour (plus or minus 10 minutes depending on the oven).

Never-Fail Sunday Rolls

This recipe makes 48 rolls-great for accompanying a big meal for a crowd! And this recipe is completely foolproof.

1/2 cup tap-hot water
2 packages (or 4 1/2 teaspoons) yeast 
1 pinch sugar
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons salt 3/4 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup warm milk
8 1/2 cups flour (best with bread flour)

1. Mix water, yeast, and a pinch of sugar in a bowl. Set aside until foamy.

2. Cream butter, salt, and 3/4 cup sugar. Add boiling water. Mix until dissolved.

3. Cool to 105-115 degrees F (40-46 degrees C). (If you don't have a thermometer, you can just wait a few min­utes while it cools off and then carry on. The butter cools the boiling water pretty fast.)

4. Beat in yeast mixture and eggs. Beat in flour gradually along with the warm milk.

5. Knead for five minutes or until silky (dough will still be pretty sticky).

6. Let rise until doubled in size (approximately 1 1/2-2 hours).

7. Punch down and divide into four balls. Roll out into an approximately 14-inch circle.

8. Paint surface with melted butter, and cut up (in a slicing pie fashion) with a pizza cutter into 12 pieces.

9. Roll each piece from big end to small end (like a crois­ sant) and place on greased cookie sheet with point tucked under.

1o. Let rise, covered with a cloth, until doubled in size (again, approximately 1 1/2-2 hours).

11.Bake at 400 degrees F (204 degrees C) for 10-12 minutes.

Everyday Flat Bread

This recipe comes from our daughter Shawni, whose daughters whip up this bread to accompany nearly every family dinner. It is so easy, and it can also be used for pizza crust. Total preparation time: 15 minutes.

2 packages yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
2 cups tap-hot water
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons oil 
4 cups flour

1. Combine all ingredients, adding more flour if the dough is sticky (you may be able to add up to 3 more cups!)

2. Let the dough sit for 15-30 minutes while you work on the rest of dinner.

3. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, and then roll the dough out on top. You can score for breadsticks at whatever size you'd like.

4. Bake at 500 degrees F (260 degrees C) for 5-7 minutes.

5. Shawni's girls think this is best when spread, while hot, with a bit of butter and then sprinkled with garlic salt!

Pesto and Green Pea Salad

This is a good salad to have on hand since the ingredients (except for the lettuce) have a long shelf life.

Romaine lettuce (three or four heads, according to your salad lovers)
1 cup frozen petite peas 
4-6 ounces feta cheese
4-6 ounces toasted sliced almonds 
Chopped fresh mint (optional)

1. Finely chop the lettuce.

2. Toast the almonds, if desired, and put in the fridge to cool.

3. Add the frozen peas, which will keep the salad cold and crisp until you serve it.

4. Add the other ingredients and toss lightly.


6 tablespoons pesto (Costco's pesto is excellent, but any brand is fine.)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar 1/4 teaspoon salt 

Shake all ingredients in a jar and dress salad according to taste. Keeps well in the fridge.

Napa Cabbage, Tomato, and Avocado Salad

This is a great way to get kids to eat cabbage. Everyone loves this salad. Total preparation time: 15 minutes.

2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons dijon mustard or whole-grain mustard 
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 1-pound Napa cabbages, or one really big head of Napa cabbage (or regular cabbage works fine too)
2-3 firm-ripe avocados
1 1/2 pounds cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (or you can use chopped roma tomatoes) 

1. Whisk together lemon zest, juice, mustard, salt, pepper, and oil in a small bowl until smooth.

2. Tear off cabbage leaves, rinse and cut them down the middle of the ribs, then slice into half-inch sections (this helps make it easier to eat if the pieces of cabbage are somewhat small). You should have about 12 cups.

3. Quarter avocado lengthwise, then pit and peel. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

4. Toss cabbage leaves, avocado, and tomatoes in a large bowl with just enough dressing to coat (you likely won't need all the dressing).

*Note: The cabbage in this salad holds up well enough to eat any leftovers the next day.

Watermelon Salad with Halloumi Cheese and Green Beans

Saydi came up with this one, and we love it because watermelon goes a long way, it's different, and it's delicious!

1/2 watermelon
1/2 pound green beans (I like french beans here, but any will do) 
1 package halloumi cheese (or feta-but halloumi is so good!) 
Chopped fresh mint
Juice of 1/ 2 lemon Olive oil
Pinch of salt

1. Cut watermelon into 1-inch chunks.

2. Blanch beans by flash cooking them in boiling water for 3 minutes and then immediately immersing them in a bowl of ice water .

3. Pan-fry halloumi until golden (it is a very firm cheese and keeps its shape), cool, and cut into bite-sized chunks .

4. Make dressing by squeezing the juice of 1/2 lemon and adding an equal amount of olive oil. Add a big pinch of salt, and mix well.

5. Stir all ingredients together gently, then add dressing to taste.

Strawberry and Green Grape Salad with Arugula

This salad is easy, beautiful, and delicious. Use amounts to taste according to the number and preferences of your salad lovers.

Selection of lettuce
Green grapes
Slivered almonds
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
Apple chunks (optional)
Parmesan flakes
Salad dressing of choice

1. Depending on the size of your crowd, mix lettuces of your choice, including some arugula (which gives it a kick), in a large bowl.

2 . Slice the strawberries and gently mix, along with the grapes, into the salad.

3. Top with slivered almonds (sauteed, if you like, with a tablespoon of sugar on low heat until golden and cooled) and large flakes of parmesan cheese on top.

4. Serve with a very light dressing of your choice. Our favorite dressing for salads with fruit is Brianna's Blush Wine.

Chicken Corn Chowder

1 chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cans chicken broth 
1 cup milk or cream
2 packages cream cheese, softened
2 cans corn
2 cups or 1 16-ounce jar of salsa 
1 can black beans (drained) Avocado chunks
1 bunch cilantro, chopped 
1 tablespoon chili powder 
1 teaspoon cumin
3-4 cans of chicken (or you can boil and shred chicken, or use pulled-apart rotisserie chicken)

Optional toppings: sour cream, cheese, crushed chips 

1. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil for a couple of minutes.

2. Add broth, milk or cream, cream cheese, corn, salsa, beans, chili powder, cumin, and shredded chicken and bring it all to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Add the cilantro and chopped avocado at the very end of cooking.

4. You can add a dollop of sour cream, cheese, or crushed chips for serving.

Black Bean Soup (aka Ghoul Goulash)

Our daughter Saren makes this super-easy soup every year for a traditional Halloween dinner. It's very quick and makes for a perfect savory meal on a spooky night ... or any night of the year!

7 16-ounce cans of black beans
3 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
3 small onions, chopped
3 teaspoons crushed or minced garlic
3 16-ounce jars chunky salsa
12 teaspoons lime juice or the juice of 6 limes (optional)
6 teaspoons ground cumin
3/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper (optional-adds heat)

Suggested toppings: plain yogurt or sour cream, chopped cilantro, shredded cheese, chopped red peppers, crumbled tortilla chips


1. Place three cans of beans with liquid from can as well as the broth in a blender. Blend until smooth.

2. Coat large saucepan or soup pot with cooking spray or a bit of olive oil. Heat over high heat and saute onion until tender.

3. Add blended bean mixture, remaining unblended beans (with liquid), garlic, salsa, optional lime juice, cumin, and crushed red pepper (if desired). Mix together.

4. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Serve garnished with toppings of choice.

Crock-Pot White Bean and Chicken Chili

The slow cooker does pretty much all the work on this one! And adults and kids alike really love it.

5 frozen chicken breasts
2 16-ounce jars green salsa
4 15-ounce small white beans (undrained) 
2 cups corn
2 teaspoons cumin

Directions:1. Place chicken in Crock-Pot and cover with salsa.

2. Cook on low 5-7 hours.

3. Shred the chicken with two forks.

4. Add beans, corn, and cumin, and leave in Crock-Pot until warmed through.

Curried Chicken and Apple Soup

If you and your guests like curry, you'll love this rich, flavorful soup. It's best if made on the day of your event. 

2 teaspoons vegetable oil or olive oil
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 6 big breasts)
2 large onions, chopped
8-10 garlic cloves, crushed or chopped (or 1-2 tablespoons bottled crushed garlic)
2 medium bell peppers, of any color, chopped
3 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger, or 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 2 teaspoons salt
10 cups chicken broth
4 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
4 apples, chopped in small chunks (Granny Smith or Fuji work well-the crisper, the better!)
1 1/2 cups rice

Optional garnishes: chopped cilantro, plain yogurt, sour cream

1. Saute oil, chicken breasts, onions, garlic, peppers, curry powder, ginger, salt, and pepper down to the broth/ stock together in large soup pot until chicken isn't pink anymore and onion is tender.

2. Add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and rice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

3. Add the apples and simmer about 8 more minutes or until apples are somewhat soft and rice is done.

4. If desired, serve with a garnish of chopped cilantro and a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream. Great with warm, crusty bread!

Hearty Tortilla Soup

Once the chicken is cooked, this can be prepared in only about 15 minutes! It's really healthy and always a big pleaser. (You can put chicken in a Crock-Pot with the salsa and chili powder and let it cook all day, then shred the chicken and stir in all the other ingredients close to dinner time. Or you can skip the chicken-it's good with or without!)

2 cups of your favorite salsa-mild or medium-and best if chunky
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon granulated garlic or 1-2 fresh garlic cloves, crushed
1 large can (31 ounces) no-fat refried beans (or about 3 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon chili powder
6 cups chicken broth (about 4 14.5-ounce cans of chicken broth, or use bouillon to make the broth)
4 cups frozen whole kernel corn
3-4 cups cooked shredded or cubed cooked chicken (3-4 chicken breasts)

Topping ideas: shredded cheese, sour cream or plain greek yogurt, chopped green onions, chopped cilantro, crumbled tortilla chips, lime


1. Over low heat, mix salsa, canned tomatoes, refried beans, garlic, and chili powder in a large soup pot until bean lumps are mostly integrated.

2. Stir in chicken broth slowly.

3. Fold in corn and chicken.

4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Serve with toppings of your choice.

Easy and Delicious Crock-Pot Roast

I love this tried-and-true favorite family recipe for a pot roast you can put in the Crock-Pot in the morning and have it ready to serve when you get home. This will take two Crock-Pots to serve a crowd of 12-16. We haven't tried this in an Instant Pot pressure cooker yet, but it would probably work. 

10 pounds chuck or cross-cut roast 
4 cans cream of mushroom soup
2-3 packages of Lipton Onion Soup Mix

1. Place 5-6 pounds of roast in each Crock-Pot.

2. Pour 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup on top.

3. Sprinkle 1-1 1/2 packets of soup mix on top.

4. Cook on low for 8-10 hours until the meat falls apart. This will make a delicious, thick brown gravy. You can add potatoes and carrots to the pot for a complete meal.

Kids' Favorite Mac and Cheese

2 pounds macaroni
4 large eggs (whisked)
2 12-ounce cans of evaporated milk 1/4 cup milk
6 cups grated cheese (Mexican blend or cheddar)
4 teaspoons salt 

1 teaspoon dry mustard (optional)

1. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot.

2. Add ingredients while stirring on low heat until the cheese is melted.

3. Serve immediately!

Japanese Curry

Eli is our resident Japanese chef, and this is our favorite meal for adults and children alike, served at the reunion. The following are his own words:

In Japan, curry is the comfort food of choice. While living there, I fell in love with Japanese curry, and I make it at least once a month for my family and once a year at our reunion. Every year, our crowd gets bigger. Cooking for fifty can be intimidating but quite rewarding, as everyone seems to love it.

The easiest way to make Japanese curry is to buy the pre-packaged curry roux. You can purchase it in bulk on Amazon. Most US grocery stores now carry "golden curry" but it is usually in smaller portions than what you'll find online. My personal favorite brands are Kokumaro and Torokeru. They are sold at various spice levels. I pre­fer the spicy, but buy it according to your taste. I add milk and cheese to the spicy one, which ultimately makes it mild with a bit of a kick.

Disregard the directions on the box and use the recipe below that I learned from a chef at a famous curry house in Japan.

This serves 12-16 people.

4 large russet potatoes
8-10 large carrots
6-8 cups of Japanese sushi rice or Botan or Calrose rice (This is much better than basmati, jasmine, or long-grain for this dish­ trust me.)
2 large onions
4-6 chicken breasts (or more if you like lots of chicken)
10 cups water
2 8.4-ounce boxes of roux (golden curry or the recommended brands above)
2 cups milk
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese 

1. Start a large pot of boiling water while cutting up the potatoes and carrots. Start cooking the rice either over the stove or in a rice cooker. Peel and cut the potatoes into cubes about the size of dice.

2. Cut the carrots into pieces about the same size as the potatoes. Put them in the water and boil until they start to soften.

3. While boiling, dice the onion and pan-fry the chicken breasts (with salt and pepper). Add the onion when the chicken is nearly cooked through. You can cube the chicken either before or after you cook it. For a big crowd, we barbecue the chicken and then cut into bite-size pieces.

4. Once the potatoes and carrots begin to soften, drain all of the water.

5. Measure 10 cups water and pour into the pot with the potatoes and carrots. Bring back to boil.

6. Once boiling, stir in the curry roux. It's important to keep stirring at this point so the roux dissolves and doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. The sauce will thicken as the roux dissolves, and you'll smell the aroma of the curry.

7. Put chicken and onions into the pot so everything is now mixing together.

8. Add 2 cups milk to the mixture, and add the grated cheese. Let simmer while stirring occasionally.

9. Serve over the sticky rice. Depending on how much you like cheese, I like to sprinkle a little more cheese on top and let it melt into the curry. Enjoy your new favorite food!

Cafe Rio Style Salads

This recipe serves 15-20. Everyone seems to have their favorite recipe for this family pleaser. This is a combination of what our kids have found is easiest and healthiest. Maybe you'll find a little different twist! There are five parts: the meat, the salsa, the rice, the sauce, and the garnishes. Combine them all together into tor­ tillas or just over beds of lettuce. You can also add beans, grilled vegetables, guacamole-whatever your family loves! You may want to double the salsa recipe depending on your crowd's love of salsa.

The sauce is a simpler and lower-fat recipe from Saydi than the ones we have used in the past with mayo and sour cream. It is also a great low-calorie option for salads and sandwiches. According to Shawni, "It is so good it could make a piece of card­ board taste delicious."

2 pork sirloin tip roasts, about 2 1/2 pounds each (These are the low-fat, cheapest pork roasts. Costco sells these sqaure roasts in packages of 4.)
1 cup brown sugar
1 16-ounce jar of salsa
1/2 package of fajita seasoning (optional) 

1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. 

2. Cook on low for 7-9 hours.

3. Break apart/shred meat in sauce.

4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 white onion, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped 
1/2 tablespoon lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper 

1. Mix all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until desired consistency is achieved.

Lime Rice
2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves minced garlic
7 cups water
8 teaspoons chicken bouillon (7 cubes) 
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin 
1/4 cup lime juice 
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups long-grain rice

1. Saute butter, onion, and garlic for 5 minutes.

2. Bring all ingredients but rice to a boil in a large pot.

3. Add rice, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Sauce (amounts depend on your crowd's preference)
1 avocado
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup water (more or less as needed to adjust consistency)
1 bunch of cilantro leaves and stems
1 teaspoon salt
2 small cloves of garlic 
Juice of 3 limes

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender an blend until smooth.

Garnishes (optional)
Cilantro, Lime wedges, Cheese, Black beans, Sour cream, Chips ,Freshly cooked or regular tortillas, Guacamole or sliced avocado

Elegant and Super Easy Salmon Fillet

This is a recipe that is super easy, elegant, and delicious (as well as more expensive). It goes well with the pork loins above, which are a nice alternative for those who don't eat fish.

1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon pepper
1 large salmon fillet (about 3-4 pounds) 

1. Mix mayo, lemon juice, and lemon pepper.

2. Spread equally over the salmon fillet.

3. Cook at 425 degrees F (218 degrees C) until the thick­est part is still almost too rare (because it will continue cooking outside the oven).

Easy Barbecued Pork Loins

So easy and delicious! Pork loins come in packages of two at Costco but are also available at most grocery stores.

4 pork tenderloins (each loin serves 4-6, and they are usually packaged with two loins shrink-wrapped in one package)
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup worchestershire sauce
4 garlic cloves, crushed or diced

1. Place pork loins in a plastic bag and pour sauces over the top. Add garlic.

2. Marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours or, even better, overnight.

3. Grill the pork at 350-400 degrees F (177-204 degrees C) for 20-30 minutes. Don't overcook! It should have just a tinge of pink in the middle.

4. Cut diagonally and cover in a warm oven (at about 200 degrees Fl 93 degrees C) until the crowd's all there!

Crock Pot Coconut chicken Curry

Here's a super easy recipe if you live near a Trader Joe's and have a large Crock-Pot. This recipe comes from some dear family friends who have even more grandchildren than we do!

8 frozen chicken breasts (or 16-18 chicken tenders) 
4 bottles Trader Joe's yellow curry sauce 
2 cans coconut cream (Shake before opening. Coco Lopez is even better. Ask your grocer to help you find it.) 
Stir-fry vegetables (of any variety-fresh or frozen)
Jasmine or basmati rice
Warm naan bread (available at Trader Joe's and Costco) 

Optional: mangoes, cashews, and cilantro for topping 

1. Put chicken in the Crock-Pot. Combine sauce and cream and pour over the top.

2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally.

3. During the last half hour, add the vegetables.

4. Serve with rice and bread. Top with mangoes, cashews, and cilantro if desired.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Lentil Tacos/Burritos

 This is a great meatless option that is universally beloved among our children and grandchildren.

 2 small onions
4 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/ 3 cups dry lentils (green or black)
3 tablespoons taco seasoning
3 1/3 cups chicken broth
4 medium sweet potatoes
4 cups cherry tomatoes
1 big bunch cilantro
1 lime
2 teaspoons honey
4 avocados
3 cups feta cheese
1 1/ 3 cups of your favorite salsa
Corn tortillas, flour tortillas, or hard taco shells

1. Finely chop up onions and garlic.

2. Heat oil in a pot and cook onions and garlic for five minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add lentils and 2 tablespoons taco seasoning. Cook and stir for 1 minute.

4. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes (or until lentils are tender).

5. While the lentils are cooking, chop up the sweet potatoes (leave the skin on) and mix them with a splash of olive oil and the remaining tablespoon of taco seasoning. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400 degrees F (204 degrees C) for about 20 minutes or until they are slightly browned.

6. Meanwhile, cut cherry tomatoes in fourths and chop the cilantro. Combine these in a bowl and drizzle with juice from the lime and the honey. Mix to combine.

7. Open, pit, and slice up avocados and place in a separate bowl. Crumble feta cheese into another bowl.

 8. When lentils are cooked, stir in the salsa.

9. To serve, pile lentil mix,sweet potatoes, tomato/cilantro mix, avocado, and cheese (as desired!) into a tortilla or taco shell.

Grilled Pesto Chicken

This is incredibly simple and easy, but it yields gourmet-tasting tender chicken that we all scarf down! You can add this chicken to salads, pizzas, pasta, and so on-or just eat it as is with some vegetable and fruit sides!

8-12 chicken breasts
2 cups prepared pesto
1/4 cup olive oil
1/ 2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2-1 teaspoon salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a plastic bag and put in the fridge to marinate for 2-10 hours.

2. Cook the chicken on a grill or in a skillet.

Fish Tacos

 Our son Noah and his wife, Kristi, make this at almost every family reunion . Everyone raves! The fish is mild enough for kids, especially stacked in a yummy taco. If you're in a hurry, Shawni says you can buy tortilla-encrusted frozen tilapia from Costco instead of marinating the tilapia.

Main Ingredients
8-12 pieces of tilapia

Marinade Ingredients
4 garlic cloves
1 cup fresh parsley
1-2 lemons
1 cup olive oil
1/2-1 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper

Sauce Ingredients
1/2 cup plain yogurt
4 tablespoons lime juice
6 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons water

For Serving 
Lime wedges Cilantro Salsa Corn tortillas

1. Combine the marinade ingredients, cover fish in it, and marinate for 30 minutes.

2. Grill on high for 3-5 minutes on each side until fish flakes .

3. Combine sauce ingredients.

4. Serve with lime wedges, cilantro, salsa, andcorn tortillas

Honey Lime Enchiladas

 This recipe is a family favorite from a church cookbook, and it's super easy, which is good when you're in a hurry or feeding a lot of people!

3/ 4 cup honey
10 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons chili powder
6 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (even easier: use one bag ofrotisserie chicken already cooked and shredded from Costco)
12- 16 flour tortillas
5-6 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, or a Mexican blend)
2 12-ounce cans green enchilada sauce
Sour cream and/or other desired Mexican toppings (avocado, salsa, etc.)

1. In a bowl, mix up the honey, lime juice, and chili powder to make a marinade, and then combine it with the cooked chicken.

2. Let the chicken soak in the marinade in the fridge at least an hour and up to 8-10 hours.

3. Fill tortillas with shredded cheese and equal portions of the chicken mixture.

4. Spread a layer of green enchilada sauce in the bottom of 2 9x13-inch pans (sprayed with cooking spray).

5. Roll up those tortillas nice and tight and place them open-tortilla-flap down in the pan.

6. Spread another layer of enchilada sauce over the top.

7. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

8. Bake at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) for 30 minutes.

9. Serve with sour cream or other desired toppings.

Chicken Tikka Masala

 This is a huge family favorite for the Eyres, and we have it at almost every family reunion. It takes a bit of planning to do the marinade, but the actual cooking time is short, and it's a crowd pleaser! Even though the ingredients may look pretty spicy, even our little children love this recipe. This can be made up to one day in advance and reheated on the stove.

 Main Ingredients 
12 boneless skinless chicken breasts (serves about 18)

Marinade Ingredients *If you double this recipe, double the chicken and sauce but don't double the marinade.)
2 cups plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (or 2 teaspoons ground ginger)
2 teaspoons salt

Sauce Ingredients
4 tablespoons butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, thoroughly seeded and finely chopped (optional)
8 teaspoons ground cumin
8 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
4 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
3 cups cream

Garnishes for serving
Fresh cilantro Plain yogurt or sour cream

1. Combine all marinade ingredients, then pour over chicken and refrigerate in a plastic bag or reusable plas- tic container for at least an hour (or up to 8-10 hours).

2. Grill or cook chicken and discard marinade.

3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Add cumin, paprika, and salt.

4. Stir in tomato sauce and cream.

5. Simmer on low until sauce thickens (about 20 minutes).

6. Add the grilled chicken into the mix and simmer for10 more minutes.

7. Garnish with fresh cilantro and a little plain yogurt or sour cream.

8. Serve over hot rice.

Creamy Vegetable Orzo

 This recipe is a hit among adults and kids! Some of our grandchildren even claimed that it is better than macaroni and cheese! It only takes about 30 minutes to make this recipe from beginning to end (it takes a bit longer if you add chicken). And you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand.

2 pounds orzo pasta
2 cups reserved pasta water or chicken broth
2-4 teaspoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 sweet onion, diced
4 medium chicken breasts, cut into chunks (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste (optional, to season chicken)
2- 3 large red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
16 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
2 pounds asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon dried thyme
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt (add more to taste once everything's assembled)
1 teaspoon pepper
Juice of 3 lemons
6 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package directions until tender (but not overdone!).

2. When the orzo is ready, reserve 2 cups of the pasta water and then drain the orzo and set aside. (You can use chicken broth instead of pasta water if you forget to reserve it or if you just like the taste of broth better!)

3. While the orzo cooks, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Put garlic and onion in the pan and saute a little.

4. If you're using chicken, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the hot oil and brown on all sides. When nicely browned (but not quite all the way cooked through), add the peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, and thyme.

5. If you're doing it without chicken, put the veggies in the skillet and saute a bit, then add a tablespoon of water and cover to let veggies steam and soften-5-10 minutes depending on the hardness of the veggies used. Take lid off and allow veggies to brown a bit. Stir until most of the liq- uid has evaporated. Veggies shouldn't be totally done since they'll cook a bit more once you add in the cheeses.

6. While the veggies cook, cut cream cheese into chunks (about 6-8 chunks from each cube). When veggies are mostly done, add the cream cheese and the grated parmesan and stir so that the cream cheese melts and coats the chicken and vegetables.

7. Add the reserved pasta water or chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Stir.

8. Add the orzo, lemon juice, and fresh parsley. Stir to combine and heat through.

9. Garnish with additional parmesan if you wish, and have some lemon slices available to squeeze over the top of individual portions if desired.

Italian Sausage Lasagna

Here's a family's favorite lasagna recipe. It's pretty quick to make (you use noodles that don't need to be boiled, and it's healthier than many other lasagna recipes, as it uses less cheese but still feels decadent). The sausage adds a lot of great flavor and makes this different than your average lasagna! Perfect for a hearty big-family dinner.

1 1/ 2 pounds italian-seasoned ground turkey or regular mild italian sausage (or you can slice up chicken italian sausage links)
1 onion, chopped
2 jars of your favorite tomato pasta sauce
1 24-ounce package low-fat,small-curd cottage cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon oregano
1 12-ounce box of oven-ready lasagna noodles
2 cups finely shredded mozzarella or italian blend cheese

Optional: thinly sliced zucchini coinsfrom 3-4 small zucchini

1. In a large skillet, brown sausage with onion. Then add in 1 jar of tomato sauce.

2. While the meat is cooking, mix cottage cheese with eggs, parmesan cheese, and oregano in a mixing bowl.

3. Spread 1 cup of red sauce on the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan. Arrange oven-ready uncooked lasagna noodles on top of pasta sauce in the bottom of the pan. Spread half of the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles.

4. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese on top of the cottage cheese layer. Spread half of the meat-and-sauce mixture on that (then a layer of sliced zucchini if you like). Put on another layer oflasagna noodles on top.

5. Repeat with the other half of the cottage cheese mixture, another 1/2 cup of shredded cheese, and the rest of the sauce and meat from the skillet (then another optional layer of sliced zucchini).

6. Do a final layer or noodles and spread the second jar of sauce on top of the noodles.

7. Finally, spread the last cup of shredded cheese on top. 8. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 40 minutes, covered with foil. Take off foil and cook for about 15 more minutes.

Easy Pizza Dough

3 cups very warm water (Not hot. About 105 degrees F/40degrees C.)
2 envelopes of yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons salt
8 cups of bread flour or all-purpose flour

1. Pour hot water into an electric mixer or large bowl.

 2. Sprinkle with yeast and sugar, and stir slightly.

3. Add the oil, salt, and flour.

4. If using a mixer with a bread hook, mix on low for three or four minutes until it forms a soft ball or knead by hand on a floured surface until a soft ballforms.

5. Put the dough into a well-greased bowl, cover with a plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, and put in a warm place until the dough doubles (about 40-60 minutes).

6. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to the desired size. Cookie sheets or flat pan willwork.

7.  Cook at 425 degrees F (218 degrees C) for about 12-15 minutes or until crust edges are golden.

Southwest Pizza

This is a quick, unique pizza that can easily feed a crowd. Adjust the ingredient amounts to the size and tastes of your crowd. Pre-made pizza dough can be purchased at most grocery stores, but if you'd rather make your own, check out the easy pizza recipe that is also on this blog.

Pizza dough for 4 large-sized pizzas
1 jar of your favorite thick salsa
Queso fresco crumbly Mexican cheese (or whatever cheese you want!)
2 cups corn (frozen or canned, whatever you've got)
2 cans black beans (drained)
1 bunch chopped cilantro

Optional additions: canned green chili peppers (mild or hot), grilled chicken, taco meat, sliced green or red peppers, etc.

1. Spray cookie sheet/baking tray generously with cooking spray.

2. Stretch out dough nice and thin into a circle/oval. (You can roll it out, but just stretching it out by hand works well for me.)

 3. Spread on salsa, then top with cheese, beans, corn, cilantro, and whatever else you want.

4. Cook at 425 degrees F (218 degrees C) for about 12-15 minutes or until crust edges are golden and cheese is melted. You might need to use a paper towel to soak up extra liquid if your salsa/corn is quite runny.

Greek Layer Dip

 Here's another quick and delicious appetizer (from @r2sense) for a family gathering . (Adjust amount to size of crowd.)

2 packages veggie cream cheese
1 tub hummus
Diced cucumbers
Sliced greenonions
Diced cherry tomatoes
Feta cheese
Pita chips

1. Spread cream cheese evenly on a platter.

2. Spread hummus on top.

3. Sprinkle cucumbers, green onions, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese on top.

4. Serve with pita chips and/or baguette slices

Burrata with Balsamic Glaze

This recipe comes from a dear friend (@r2sense) with a huge family. After you buy all the ingredients, this takes about five minutes to prepare for a crowd! And yet it feels quite fancy and perfect for a special event! (Adjust amount to size of crowd.)

Burrata cheese balls
Balsamic glaze (at Trader Joe's or most grocery stores)
Basil, chopped
Pomegranate seeds
Sea salt Crackers

1. Place cheese balls on a plate or serving platter.

2. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.

3. Scatter chopped basil, pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and sea salt on top.

4. Serve with crackers.

Cowboy Caviar

 This recipe is wonderful with tortilla chips and is also really yummy as a topping for simple grilled chicken or fish, or you can just eat it by the spoonful! Feel free to adjust the amount of each ingredient according to taste, then gather the family and dig in!

1 12-ounce can of black beans
5 chopped tomatoes
1 bunch chopped cilantro
2 avocados, cubed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 teaspoon crushed fresh garlic
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Juice from 2-3 limes
1 cup frozen corn
Salt, to taste
4 chopped green onions OR 1/2 sweet onion, chopped (optional)
1 cup finely chopped orange or yellow peppers (optional)
1 package Good Seasons Italian dressing mix (optional)

1. Mix all ingredients together.

 2. Serve with tortilla chips.

Loosli Family Trail Mix

Our daughter Saren created this recipe after not being able to find a store-bought trail mix she liked. It has become not only a favorite for her family and our extended family but also a staple at all the Power of Moms retreats she puts on - it was served alongside fresh fruits and veggies during breaks and is always a big hit. It's much lower in fat and calories than many trail mixes but has a lot of protein and Omega 3's and other good stuff. You can buy the individual ingredients packaged at most grocery stores, but it's cheapest and easiest if you can buy them at a good bulk food place.

1 1/2 cups raw unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup raw unsalted green pumpkin seeds
1 cup raw unsalted almonds
(adjust to your taste-some people like to use the salted variety for one of the kinds of nuts/seeds)
1 cup Craisins (any flavor)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Mix together all ingredients.

2. Eat handful by handful!

Baked Cranberry Brie

 Getting together around the holidays is such a joy with children and grandchildren. This easy appetizer is always a hit.

3 cups fresh cranberries (about 1 12-ounce bag)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 8-inch or 2 4-inch rounds of brie Baguette slices, toasted pita slices, crackers, and/or apple wedges for dipping

1. Put everything except the brie, bread, and apples into small pot. Stir together over medium heat until the cran- berries have popped and the liquid has thickened a bit. Set aside (or refrigerate until you're about ready to serve the appetizer).

2. Skim the top white rind off the brie (leaving about a 1/ 4- inch border around the edges on the top).

3. Put brie on foil-covered baking sheet and add cranberry topping.

4. Bake at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) for about 12-15 minutes until cheese is soft and warm. Serve with baguette slices or toasted pita slices and apple wedges.

*Note: One 4-inch round serves about 8-10. Also,the topping keeps well in the fridge for another time.

Cream Cheese Apple Dip

This recipe comes from our daughter Saydi, and it has become a family favorite in the fall. It's so easy and is so much better for you (and better tasting in my opinion) than caramel or other apple/ fruit dips. Great for a family get-together when you need snacks!

1 8-ounce brick of cream cheese (or Neufchatel low-fat cream cheese)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Mix all ingredients together in an electric mixer until smooth.

2. Serve with slices of your favorite crisp apples.

Saydi's Christmas Morning Strata

This dish is a perfect make-ahead breakfast. We use the leftover ham from Christmas Eve dinner and have even thrown in the leftovers from the creamy scalloped potatoes just to make it even easier. Serves 10-12.

16-20 1-inch slices of supermarket french or italian bread
5 tablespoons butter
3 medium potatoes
4 medium shallots (or sweet onions)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 teaspoons minced rosemary
1/2-1 cup diced ham Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup white cooking wine
9 eggs
2 1/2 cups half and half
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons minced parsley
2 1/2 cups grated cheese (you can be fancy and use fontina or sharp cheddar or just the already-shredded Costco Mexican blend)

1. Toast bread in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 225-degree F (107-degree C) oven. Thistakes about 40 minutes (watch to not let them burn!) OR just leave slices out overnight to dry. When cooled, butter both sides.

2. Cut potatoes to bite-sized chunks and boil in salted water until just tender (4-5 minutes).

3. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet and cook potatoes until they begin to brown. Add shallots and cook,  stirring frequently until they are soft and translucent. Add rosemary and garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add ham. Transfer to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Add wine to the skillet and cook until reduced to half. Mix in ham/potato-and-shallot mixture.

5. Whisk eggs and add half and half plus kosher salt and parsley.

6. Butter a 9x13-inch pan and assemble the strata by arranging three layers: bread, half the potato mixture, and cheese. Pour the egg/cream over top. Cover with plastic wrap, weigh the strata down with something heavy (a big bag of brown sugar; bags of dried beans), and refrigerate overnight.

7. To cook, heat oven to 325 degrees F (163 degrees C). Remove strata from fridge and bring close to room temperature. Bake for 60-70 minutes until it starts to get golden and puffed and bubbly.

8. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.


  • You can make this with spinach and gruyere, and it's delicious. The big change isthat you saute a large onion (or 5 shallots) in butter and then add a box of chopped frozen spinach (or a 10-ounce bag of fresh spinach , chopped). Season with salt and pepper. Skip the rosemary and garlic. Add 8 ounces of gruyere cheese in place of fontina or cheddar. 

Delicious Overnight Steel-Cut Oatmeal

 This breakfast is super easy for a large group of family members, because you just put it in the Crock-Pot the night before and voila! Nice, tasty, hot breakfast ready when you wake up.

2 cups dry steel-cut oats (don't try to use quick or old-fashioned rolled oats!)
8 cups water (or a bit less, if you like your oatmeal thicker)
1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon
Chopped walnuts/pecans
Fresh berries
Chopped apples
Raisins/ Craisins
Banana slices
Whatever else you think!

1. Put the oats and water in the Crock-Pot before you go to bed. Set it to cook on low for 6 hours (if it doesn't have a timer, it can cook a little longer until you wake up, but it does get a bit mushier after 6 hours and many people prefer it slightly chewy).

2. In the morning, stir in the sugar, cinnamon, and other toppings. If you like, you can stir in chopped apples about 1/ 2 hour to 1 hour before serving so they can cook a bit.

3. Serve with a bit of milk or a dollop of vanilla yogurt. Add a little more sugar if you think it needs it.

Quick Quiche

This recipe is great for a family breakfast or brunch, or a wedding or baby shower. I've provided a couple of variations, but you really can add a whole host of different ingredients to make it your own according to the tastes of your family!

4 1/2 cups milk
9 eggs
1 1/2 cups Bisquick
1 1/2 cubes (3/4 cup) melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (if you like garlic)
2-3 cups shredded cheese (swiss, mozzarella, cheddar-your choice)
5-6 chopped green onions (white part and green part) or 1 large sweet onion, chopped
3-5 chopped roma tomatoes

1. Mix milk, eggs, pancake mix, butter, salt, and pepper in a large blender. You can mix in a bowl and use a handheld egg beater if you don't have a large blender jar.

2. Spread your choice of cheese and other ingredients in a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Pour mixture from blender over the top.

3. Cook at 325 degrees F (163 degrees C) for about 1 hour and 15 minutes (until middle is pretty much set and top is slightly browned).


 • For Italian style, use mozzarella cheese and add 10 leaves chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil or italian seasoning. You can also add 1/2 cup cooked chopped spinach (fresh or frozen) and/or 1 cup chopped mushrooms, if you like.

• For American style, use swiss or cheddar/monterey jack cheese and add 1-2 cups cubed ham, crumbled bacon, or sausage plus 1-2 cups chopped broccoli and/or 1 cup chopped mushrooms, if you like.

Banana Pancakes

This recipe comes from our daughter Shawni. The pancakes are quick to make and a perfect use for overripe bananas. Plus they're delicious! Greatfor an easy butstillspecial breakfast for a crowd.

2 extra-ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/3-1 1/2 cups milk (determines thickness of pancakes)
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs
1 cup white flower
1 cup whole wheat flower
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar, honey, or molasses
1-2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans (optional-but really, really good)

1. Mix together all wet ingredients.

2. Add and mix in dry ingredients, folding in the walnuts at the end.

3. Turn on griddle or frying pan to medium-high heat. Use a 1/3-cup measuring cup to pour batter on a hot griddle or frying pan. Once bubbles come up on the rawside of the pancake, flip it over. Cook until both sides are golden brown.

4. Serve with maple syrup or fruit. Add a little whipped cream on top to make them extra special.

Jonah's Granola

When we are all together at Bear Lake, our son Jonah makes several big batches of his masterful granola-and everyone loves it! It's by far the best granola we've ever had, and it makes all storebought granola seem too oily or too sweet or just plain not that great. Whipping up a few batches of this before a family reunion is a great way to have a healthy and yummy breakfast on hand for everyone! This recipe makes about the equivalent of two big storebought boxes of granola.


8 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (quick oats will do if that's all you've got)
1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cups chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, macadamia nuts if you're Jonah and live in Hawaii, or whatever you've got)
1 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup ground flaxseed
2 cups flaked dry coconut
1 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (or canola oil)
1-2 cups raisins or Craisins (optional)


1. Mix 4 cups oats and all other ingredients except raisins or Craisins together in an electric mixer, or by hand in a big bowl.

2. Add remaining 4 cups oats 1/2 cup at a time. It might nearly overflow, but you can do it!

3. Spread the mixture out evenly over two cookie sheets.

4. Bake at 275 degrees F (135 degrees C) for 26 minutes. (If you don't have a convection oven, rotate the sheets halfway through.) It's done when everything's golden and the edges are a bit brown. It'll be soft when you take it out of the oven, but after cooling, it'll become quite crispy.

5. When it's totally cooled, put it into a container, breaking up the big clumps as you scoop it off the cookie sheets. 6. Optional: Mix in 1-2 cups raisins or Craisins aftercooking or upon serving.