Saturday, November 16, 2013

Cream cheese-filled zucchini muffins

Several of my friends wanted this recipe that I made up but I just keep forgetting to type it up and get it out.  So, I will put it on my blog and link it to facebook.

The only reason to have a zucchini plant in your garden, in my opinion, is so that you can make zucchini bread.  This year, however, we ended up with three zucchini plants (still not sure how that happened!) and we got a little tired of zucchini bread.  In fact, I still have between 12-16 loaves still in the freezer!  So I started making zucchini muffins and mini muffins which were great in lunches.  One day Markee said, "Would there be any way to put the cream cheese INSIDE the muffins, like the filled cupcakes?"  "Hmmmm," I thought, "Why not?".  So began the experiments.  And here is the end result . . .

Cream Cheese-filled Zucchini Muffins
3 c shredded zucchini         2 t baking soda
1 2/3 c sugar                         1 t salt
2/3 c vegetable oil               1 t ground cinnamon
2 t vanilla                              1/2 t ground cloves
4 eggs                                    1/2 t baking powder
3 c flour                                  1 c mini chocolate chips (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Put liners in 24 muffin cups and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray.  Mix zucchini, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Fill each muffin cup about halfway. 
 Drop a scant teaspoon of cream cheese filling on top of muffin batter in each cup.  Cover with the remainder of the zucchini batter, covering the cream cheese filling completely, filling each cup to about 2/3 full.  Bake until the muffins are golden brown and spring back when touched, about 25-30 minutes.

To make cream cheese filling, in a small bowl beat together 1 (8oz) pkg package of room temperature cream cheese, 2 T milk, 4-5 T powdered sugar and 1 t vanilla until smooth.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Garden update - I'm in love

I have to say, and I promise that I am not bragging because I am not taking any credit at all, I LOVE MY GARDEN!  And I think that this year, the feeling is mutual.  We are having a love affair and it's a win-win situation for everyone - including my neighbors.  I don't know what to attribute it to - the huge loads of mink manure, the great watering system Jared put in, the weather, feeling the love - but the garden is magnificent this year.  All the plants are big and beautiful and most are plentiful in their fruits.  We have made many zucchini and lettuce deliveries already and have enjoyed a plethora of salads and zucchini bread.  The peas are, of course, the garden treat that we enjoy every time we go out to weed or harvest or, as I keep finding myself doing, just walking around enjoying the garden atmosphere.  We are anxiously waiting for the tomatoes, potatoes, watermelon, onions, carrots, corn, etc. to be ready too, praying that they will not fall prey to bugs, disease or any other impediment. 
Because I am not working this summer I find myself out there several times a day, just to enjoy the greenery.  I really want a little garden bench so I can park myself under an apple tree and read.  I could spend all day out there, even in the heat, in the shade of my beautiful apple tree. 
I feel so blessed by my Heavenly Father's endowment of this wonderful garden.  I know every year is not like this so I am loving every minute of this summer!  I have to be a wise steward this year and make sure that we don't let any of our harvest go to waste.  I sure hope I will still have time to can, jar, freeze, dry, etc. after school starts in August!

Three glorious zucchini plants - we've already harvested a dozen zucchini and it's only July!

My cute little honey-crisp apple tree is granting us beautiful apples in its second year

The tomato jungle . . .


and the corn forest.

We have loved our butter lettuce and sugar snap peas but are still waiting for the beans to produce . . . well, beans of course.
Looking forward to applesauce this year

The watermelons are going crazy!

So hoping that these beautiful pumpkin plants actually yield some big pumpkins this year, although they have already given me great joy just in growing so well!

Gorgeous grape vines with several bunches of grapes ripening

We should have cucumbers aplenty judging by the vines

Even our fruit salad tree is providing plums this year!  First time ever!

Our pear tree is a joy every year. 

Can't wait for the carrots and onions, but we are wondering, does a broccoli plant really grow broccoli?  It's beautiful and healthy - but no little trees . . .

First pumpkin of the season, growing on our "volunteer" pumpkin plant.  Bonus!

Already harvested a few peppers for salsa.  Excited for more!
A plethora of peaches


Friday, June 28, 2013

Garden version 20.13

Yes, it's that time of the year: time for the yearly garden blog post.  I'm pretty pleased with the garden this year and it appears to be a fruit year as well.  Hopefully we will diligently care for the garden throughout the summer so we will have a great harvest - looking forward to doing some canning this August . . .
We did get a couple loads of nice mink manure (well, it was a little fresher than it should be, but still . . .) and that helped a ton.  Jared was also able to take some time and some funds and redo the watering system this year and it seems to be a little more efficient than before.  All in all, as I said, I am pleased.  And it's been so hot and dry that the weeds aren't even getting as crazy as usual. :)
Lots of potatoes this year along with peppers and zucchini in the foreground and melons, squash, pumpkins and cucumbers in the far left

Onions, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, beans and peas

Tomato plants

The fruit salad tree actually has plums this year and one nectarine along with the peaches.  So excited!

"Millions of peaches, peaches for free.  Millions of peaches, peaches for me"

Golden delicious apples abound

We even have a lot of Macintosh this year!

The pear tree has always been a great producer

Even our new d'anjou pear tree has a pear on it.

Can't wait for these honey-crisp apples


And, so far so good, our pumpkins look healthy and strong.  Crossing fingers they stay that way!  Hoping that the chickens like squash bugs if those insects show up.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Yes, chickens.  About 2 years ago at stake conference one of the stake presidency, President Jensen, who also happens to be a neighbor, talked about self-reliance.  He talked about the fact that we are so fortunate to have so much land and that we should be using it wisely.  He advocated vegetable gardens and fruit trees and then went on to talk about chickens, goats and cows.  Now, being a city girl I can't imagine ever having a cow (although I would love to have the beef!) and I would have no use for goats as I won't touch goat milk or products made thereof.  However, I was strongly impressed that we should get chickens.  Call it the Spirit speaking to me or call it guilt or whatever, I knew that we should have chickens. 
Fast forward 2 years later and many trips to IFA looking at the little chicks and saying, "We aren't set up to have chickens yet."
Jared and I were at IFA getting seeds and plants for the garden about 6 weeks ago and looked at the chicks again.  I told him that we would NEVER be ready to have chickens, that we would need to get the chickens and then get ready to house them.  While standing there one of the chicks escaped and walked right over to me.  She was a cute little black ball of down and I picked her up and she stole my heart.  Now, this story does take a turn for the worse before it gets better.  We picked out 6 chicks and a 50 lb bag of chick food and surprised Marin at home with her new pets.  They were SO cute in their little cardboard box, and so friendly.

It was the day that the second Star Trek movie came out, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and we had to go soon after bringing home the chicks.  Here's where it all goes wrong.  We were concerned about having a hot light in the cardboard box, worried about fire, so we turned off the light and went to the movie.  Yeah, did I mention that we were new to this?  Marin talked about her chicks all the way home and ran upstairs to see them and came back down immediately, devastated.  The chicks were dead, having gotten too cold.  I immediately sent her and Jared back to IFA to buy more and Nicolas and I went to work trying to bring them back to life.  There was one, Loki, who was still moving a little and three, Bellatrix, Dimples and Terra, who were still barely breathing.  Nicolas and I held them in our hands and breathed on them and got out the hair dryer for added heat.  Bellatrix and Dimples responded and we were able to save them but Terra died in my hands.  I hate this part of having pets.  I put Thor, Terra and Chipmunk in a box in the garage for later burial and we kept watch over the three remaining chicks to make sure that they would regain their health.  Unfortunately IFA was closed that evening but at least we had the three chickadoodles left.  I took Marin to IFA on Monday and she picked out three more, Cleopatra, Arrow and Nugget. 
This is at one week old when they were living in my closet and allowed to roam my room for exercise.  Aren't they the cutest little balls of fluff?
This is at three weeks old and they love to come to the garden to help us weed.  They stay right by us and are definitely our little friends, especially loving Marin and Nicolas.
And finally, at six weeks they are definitely taking chicken form and they are getting a little big for their temporary pool house.  As you can see they still love us as they came running over when I took their picture.  Now we are just waiting for Jared to have two minutes to make a chicken coop for them.  Between work and school, he sure doesn't have a lot of time, but he is seeing the need for our poor chickadoodles to have a permanent home.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


I don't even know where to start.  Trek was an amazing experience.  I was excited for it, but not for wearing pioneer clothes.  I still think that we could have had a great experience without them, but they did complete the picture.  We took the youth to the Mosida trek area, on the west side of Utah Lake, and although I was a little skeptical at first of the location, I found that it was perfect.  There were places that were grassy with tamarack trees and there were hot, dusty areas with cactus and scrub; in other words, just like the environments that the pioneers would have trekked through.  Fortunately for us, trekking the first week of June was also perfect weather-wise.  We had one 90 degree day but the rest of our time there the temperature was in the 80s, the weather was  beautiful, cooler at night, not a rain cloud to be seen.  Honestly, I think that our trek experience was perfect, all the way around.
I was somewhat concerned beforehand about my role, or lack thereof, as I was not a "ma" and not in charge at all.  I was "support staff" and found that it was ideal, really doing whatever I wanted.  I gravitated to the Robertson's "family" of which Erik was a member and they just considered me to be the widowed aunt of the family.  After the first day I got in and pushed and pulled their handcart too, to earn my keep. :)  I helped the "food couple" with the meals, cooking and cleaning, and generally just made myself useful. 
Our trek coordinators, the Jackmans, definitely relied on inspiration in dividing up the youth into families.  All of the youth were exactly where they should have been.  Marin was in the Benson's family with sweet Fawn as her "ma" and siblings that were just right for her.  Erik was in the Robertson's family with his friends Brennen and Alia and had a great time even though he didn't want to.  I was thrilled to watch my kids have great experiences on trek.
As I said, I was excited for this trek, but I had no idea what an incredibly spiritual experience it was going to be.  Between the "vignettes" that the families performed periodically along the trail to the impromptu breaking out in hymns while walking, the women's pull and the family greeting us at the end waving white hankies, the Spirit was ever-present.  I could see youth being touched and lives changing forever.  I have gained a greater appreciation for and love for the pioneers who came across to build up our Father's kingdom on the earth, sacrificing so much for those that came after.  The "women's pull" which is always one of the highlights of the trek experience didn't disappoint.  It was so difficult and I wept to think of the pioneer women who worked so hard to get their families across the plains and mountains with little ones in tow in conditions far worse than ours.  I hope I can be stronger and be able to make my Father in Heaven proud as I "pull my handcart" through this life.
I hope that I will get another opportunity in this life to go on trek again although I don't think that it will ever measure up to this experience.  Thank you to the Jackmans for putting together this most amazing experience.

At our first break for a vignette - day 1 - Erik and Brennen

Marin and her "big sister" Jessica listening to the vignette on our first stop on day one

Jessica was a great big sister to Marin - they were inseparable

Erik had fun with the Benson girls and Brennen

Breakfast!  Marin and her "sisters" with Ma Benson in the background (pink)

Last powwow before hitting the trail.  Erik's family is ready to go with Ma and Pa Robertson in the foreground

Marin and her sisters ready to hit the trail - day 2 - still clean . . .

Erik making sure to stay hydrated and yes, I caught him smiling

Stopping for the afternoon - day 2 - exhausted on the hottest day

Erik can't say he didn't have fun