Winston Churchill

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sugar-Spice Nuts

This is another one of my favorite recipes.  I discovered it many years ago in a Taste of Home magazine - you can find it on their website but here's my version which I've modified a little.  I've made these nuts many, many times over the years and it's become a favorite of my family (this was one of my dad's favorite treats) and extended family - not to mention my co-workers.  :) They're simple to make and taste divine.  Mmmm!!

¾ c. sugar
3 T. water
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
2 ½ c. pecan halves
1 cup whole unblanched almonds  (I've changed the ratio of Pecans to Almonds because we like the Pecans more.)    

In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients; mix well.  Add nuts and stir until coated.  Spread evenly in a greased 15-in. by 10-in. by 1-in. baking pan.  Bake at 250 degrees for 60 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes.  Spread on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet to cool.  Store in an airtight container.  Yield: 3 ½ cups.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad

Today is my Dad's third birthday since he passed away.  He would have been 80 years old today.  I snapped this picture of my parents when we (Brad, Zack, Bo and me) went to visit them on their mission in Nauvoo, Illinois.  They were in charge of the Carthage Jail Visitor Center and conducted tours through the jail - the building behind them in this photo is Carthage Jail.  We were fortunate enough to have our own personal tour given by my Dad. 

I'm so grateful we were able to go spend time with them and share some of their experiences in Nauvoo.  I know it's something I'll always remember and so will my boys.  We had such a great time!  I have so very many wonderful memories of my Dad.  He was and is a super Dad. 

I still miss him but have come to feel that he's not too far away.  I like to think he's become my family's guardian angel and is always there to watch over and help us.  Happy Birthday Dad and thank you so much for being such a great Dad! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Soft Gingersnap Cookies with White Chocolate Chips

I tried this recipe on a whim last week - I just felt like baking something and picked these yummy looking cookies to try.  I wasn't disappointed.  They are absolutely delicious!  My whole family loved them and I hate to admit how many I ate but boy were they worth it.  I found the recipe at For the Love of Cooking site.  I've added this recipe into our favorite cookies recipes and plan to make them again soon.  Yumm!!!

Soft Gingersnap Cookies with White Chocolate Chips

  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 1 cup of white sugar (plus some to roll the dough in)
  • 1/2 cup of molasses
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg, grated (I just used ground nutmeg)
  • 2 large egg
  • 3 1/2 - 4 cups of flour (The dough is sticky and I ended up using 4 cups flour to be able to handle it)
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg white chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray.
Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the molasses, canola oil, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. (Hint: measure the oil into you measuring cup before pouring in the molasses, swirl and pour out then measure the molasses - it will pour right out without sticking.) Beat until mixed. Add the egg and continue to beat until well combined. 
Add the baking soda and salt to the flour and mix really well. Slowly add the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until well combined. Add the white chocolate chips and mix into the dough. Scoop the dough into walnut sized balls (it will be very sticky) and roll into some white sugar (I used about 1/4 cup in a cereal bowl). Place on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. 
Place into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 3 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Woman in White

I love reading old British novels.  I thoroughly enjoy getting caught up in the language of them.  Some of my favorites are many of the Jane Austen novels (which I love to re-read), The Complete Collection of Sherlock Holmes, Rebecca, The Moonstone and The Scarlet Pimpernel to name a few.

I'm currently reading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins and I'm really enjoying this book.  I'm just over half way through this novel - it's a big one at 617 pages.  I've been reading it every chance I get but not rushing through it - I'm savoring this story.  It's a mystery involving two sisters and a mysterious woman dressed all in white. I love the main character Marion - she's tough and smart. 

If you enjoy mysteries and are looking for a good book to read, I highly recommend this one.  Here's a few interesting facts about this book:  It's the original murder mystery that started the whole murder mystery genre; and it's never been out of print since its initial publication in 1859.

Well, back to my reading - I'm excited to see how it ends! 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chocolate Mint Brownies

I've had a few request for this recipe recently and am finally getting around to posting it.  I first tasted these several years ago when I helped my neighbor make them to serve as refreshments at a young women's meeting we were in charge of - this is her recipe. 

These fantastically, delicious brownies have become one of my all time favorite desserts - they're Winston's and Bo's favorites too - and I make them several times a year (my hips are proof of that!)  Did I mention that I LOVE these brownies?  :)   I wrote this post almost two years ago about how much Winston loves these.
6 Eggs
2 boxes Chewy Brownie Mix (I like the Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Mix)

Mix as directed, bake in a greased 15-in. by 10-in. by 1-in. baking pan for 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool.

4 c. powdered sugar
1 c. butter, softened
2 T. water
1 tsp. peppermint extract
6 drops red or green food coloring (I've even used blue and orange for some baby showers/parties)

Mix and spread on top of the cooled brownies.  Don't worry about getting crumbs mixed in with the frosting.  You're going to cover it up with the topping. 

2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
¾ c. butter (1 and ½ cubes)
¼ to ½ tsp peppermint extract (I like them better with 1/2 or even a 3/4 tsp of peppermint)

Melt chocolate and butter together in the microwave (start out on high for 1 minute, stir and then repeat in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted). Add mint extract in the chocolate.  Taste test and add more mint if you like.  Spread on top of mint frosting layer and refrigerate until set . . . WAY YUM!  (This recipe can easily be halved.  Just make in a 9x13 pan instead)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Two Years Post Surgery

It's hard to believe that two years have passed since that scary, anxiety filled day.  Two years of healing and growing and good health.  This day was a crossroads for Winston.  Almost everything we talk about regarding his health and progress is defined by that day - it's either pre-surgery or post-surgery.

I had no idea that abdominal muscles play such an important role in our health and well being.  With strong tummy muscles, Winston can finally eat well and keep his food down (he used to throw up alot!), he can run and jump and climb just like any other kid his age and he doesn't get terribly sick when he catches a cold (no hospital visits for him since his surgery!).  His body is now strong all around and it's such an amaziong blessing to have him be so healthy and strong.

This is Winston the day after his surgery two years ago.
 And here he is today - happy and healthy!  :)
(I couldn't figure out how to rotate these but wanted to post them anyway.)

You ROCK Winston and we love you to Infinity and Beyond!  :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Holly's Fire Roasted Salsa

I've been experimenting over the last few months with various salsa recipes.  There have been several we liked and a few we didn't.  I tinkered around with a few of the recipes we liked best and came up with my own version which I absolutely Love!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Holly's Fire Roasted Salsa
1 - 14.5 oz. can Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes 
1 - 14.5 oz. can Petite Diced Tomatoes 
1 - 4 oz. can Green Chilis
1/3 - 1/2 cup cilantro - to taste
1 Jalapeno - seeded and cut into chunks (use 2 if you like it hot or just leave some of the seeds in)
1/3 small white onion cut into chunks (about 1/4 cup diced)
Green tops of 3 green onions
1 1/2 Tbsp Lime Juice
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp fresh ground McCormick Garlic Pepper
1 - 2 tsp Kosher salt (to taste)
1 tsp Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipolte seasoning
1/4 tsp sugar

Place all ingredients in either a blender or food processor and pulse to desired consistency.  Chill for a few hours so flavors can blend.  Enjoy! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


It's coming up on the two year mark for Winston's last repair surgery and I've been thinking a lot about the first two years of his life.  I recently joined a couple of Omphalocele support groups (Mothers of Omphaloceles and Babies Born with Omphalocele) to offer my encouragement to others going through the same experience we did with Winston.  Reading through their stories, their questions and their fears has brought back all the old feeling and emotions I went through with more force than I'd anticipated. 

At the time it was hard for me to express how I was feeling and share what we were going through - I tend to internalize things.  I guess now that we're a few years removed from the experience I've been able to put all the worry and heartache behind me and had even somewhat forgotten the anxiety I felt back then.  Reading other's questions and sharing my experiences with them has made those feelings (minus the anxiety) resurface and I'm reminded how fragile Winston's life was at one time.  He's such a miracle and is so very blessed to have made it through so much already in his young life.  I remember that one of his nurses called him our "little trooper".  He's always been one tough little guy.

I drove up to the hospital every day while he was in the NICU, would stay there all day and only leave at night to come home to sleep.  On these drives, I spent my time praying, thinking and listening to the radio a lot.  Something I've meant to write about was what I wanted for Winston.  I wanted so much for him to be healthy and to have a normal childhood without restrictions on his activities.  I remember there was a Rascal Flats song out at the time called My Wish that really hit home with what I was feeling.  To this day, every time I hear this song it reminds me of those drives to and from the hospital and hoping and praying for the best.  Here's the lyrics:

"My Wish"

I hope that the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
And each road leads you where you want to go,
And if you're faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walkin' till you find the window,
If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile,

But more than anything, more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

I hope you never look back, but ya never forget,
All the ones who love you, in the place you left,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God's grace, in every mistake,
And you always give more than you take.

But more than anything, yeah, and more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.

This was and still is my wish for him - that his life becomes all that he wants it to be.

This was Winston at 5 weeks old after his 2nd surgery.  He was in a lot of pain at the time and I couldn't even hold him to try and comfort him  All I could do was sit close by and sing to him
This is Winston at 7 weeks and doing awesome.  He looked so peaceful this day I remember just sitting and watching him and feeling so grateful for how far he'd come. 
Another angle shows the mirrors the nurses would put in the cribs for the babies to see themselves.  Winston loved the mirror and would lay there just studying his face. I think he must have fallen asleep looking at himself.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mini Lasagna Cups

These look so yummy and they're cute too!  I stumbled across the recipe here on a blog called Kevin and Amanda I found while browsing.  I'm really looking forward to giving this recipe a try.
Mini Lasagna Cups
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb sausage
1 cup spaghetti sauce
1 1/2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
24 wonton wrappers
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown sausage and hamburger in a large skillet over medium high heat and drain. Divide into 4 portions and save or freeze three for another night. Add spaghetti sauce to remaining meat mixture and stir to combine.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta the salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Coat a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray, and arrange a wonton wrapper in each cup. Take half the ricotta mixture and divide it among the 12 cups. Top with half of the meat sauce, and sprinkle with shredded cheese. Place another wonton wrapper over the cheese, and repeat the layers by adding the remaining ricotta cheese, meat sauce, and top with shredded cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the wonton wrappers are golden. Cool in the muffin tin for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Makes 12 mini lasagnas or 3 servings.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Great Bedtime Story

I know I've mentioned this before, but Winston loves books.  This story by Leslie Patricelli is one of his favorites right now.  I love her cute pictures and fun story about how one of the puppies overcomes her nightime fear of a monster. 

We love her other stories too.  You can find The Patterson Puppies and the Midnight Moster Party here on Amazon.  Winston gives it his triple request award - he asks me to read it again and again as soon as we finish it.  :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

In honor of National Chocolate Chip Day, here's a favorite "chip" recipe of our family.  I found the recipe in a Taste of Home magazine many years ago and have been making these cute and yummy muffins ever since.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips


  • In a large bowl, cream sugar and shortening until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; mix well. Combine dry ingredients. Gradually add to creamed mixture; mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of batter into each greased or paper-lined mini-muffin cup. Bake at 375° for 10-13 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Yield: about 3 dozen.
The recipe is also located here on their web site.   

Friday, May 13, 2011

Mother's Day

I'm so glad we have a day to celebrate mothers. I try to tell her often how much I love and appreciate her, but it helps to have a special day dedicated to moms.  I have such wonderful memories as a child because of my mom - family trips, playing house, reading stories together, dancing around the family room to old 50's music, playing dress-up in her old dresses, baking cookies and pies and just spending time together.  My mom taught me so many important lessons.  I always knew how much she loved me and I owe all that I am to her love and dedication as a mother.  Love you Mom!
 This is a pic from a few years ago - I realized while looking through my old photos that I don't have as many pictures as I'd like of just me with my dear mother.  I'm usually the one taking the pictures.  I'll have to make more of an effort to get some pictures of us together.
Winston and his Grandma on Mother's Day.  He sure loves his Grandma!  

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Recipe to Try

I LOVE chocolate so you can imagine how excited I was when I stumbled upon a recipe for Brownie Batter Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with Outrageously Rich Chocolate Indulgence Frosting.   Wow, with a name like that, these must be amazing.  I came across this recipe here and I'm so excited to try it out.  Now all I need is an excuse to make 3 dozen fabulous, chocolatey cupcakes. 

Brownie Batter Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes
with Outrageously Rich
Chocolate Indulgence Frosting
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup milk
1 (18.25 oz) box devil’s food cake mix

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 mins until well combined. Using a small scoop (about 1.5 tbsp) drop batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze overnight.

1 (18.25 oz) box devil’s food cake mix
1 (3.9 oz) pkg Jello instant chocolate fudge pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
2 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and line with cupcake liners. Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips into a very large bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 mins until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Using a large scoop (about 3 tbsp) drop batter into the cupcake liners, filling about 2/3rds full. Remove brownie batter from freezer and press into the cupcake batter. Bake for 22-28 mins. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

5 sticks butter, softened
8 oz powdered sugar
1.5 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa)
a pinch of table salt
1.5 cups light corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
16 oz milk chocolate chips

Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring well every 30 seconds. Allow to cool for 5-10 mins. Combine butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a food processor and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl as needed. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, about 5-10 seconds. Scrape the bowl again, then add the melted chocolate and pulse until smooth and creamy, about 10-15 seconds. You can use a mixer for this too, if you don’t have a food processor, just don’t whip the butter too much! :)  Makes & frosts 36 cupcakes.
Mmmm!  It's like chocolate Heaven!  :)

Funny Four Year Old!

While showing Brad a "trick" on his bike, Winston told him, "Daddy, Watch and Learn."  How funny is that!  :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thought for the day

Our choices today will affect where we end up tomorrow. Each choice has a consequence and each consequence, a destination. You should be asking yourself each day if the choices you are making now will take you to where you want to be. We are responsible for who we become.

and another one:

I choose to live by choice, not by chance;
to make changes, not excuses;
to be motivated, not manipulated;
to be useful, not used;
to excel, not compete.
I choose self-esteem, not self-pity.
I choose to listen to the inner voice, not random opinions.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Wow, I can't believe it's been 24 years since we took the plunge - 24 wonderful years.  Where has the time gone?  It doesn't feel like it's been anywhere near that long and yet it's hard to remember my life before we were together.

I love my family so very much.  I'm deeply grateful for Brad and the life we share together. We've been blessed with three wonderful boys and I'm full of gratitude for the life we've built together. I'm looking forward to all that the future holds for us.  Families really are what life is all about.