Amish Macaroni Salad

1 12 cups uncooked macaroni  
3 hard-boiled eggs  
12 cup chopped celery 
14 cup chopped onion  
34 cup salad dressing or mayonnaise 
2 tablespoons yellow mustard  
14 cup white vinegar  
13 cup sugar 

Cook and drain macaroni. Cool. Add eggs, celery, and onion. Mix salad dressing, mustard, vinegar, and sugar thoroughly, then add to macaroni mixture. Serve chilled. It's even better if made the night before!


Independence Day with Paul Harvey

I grew up listening to Paul Harvey on the radio. I didn’t always find him, but somehow, he always had a way of finding me. I’d usually be driving back from a business trip and inevitably, I’d tune in to some obscure station – and there he was. Loved it. 
I also loved his resoluteness – particularly when it came to the principles and values for which he so deeply cared. Regardless of which direction the political winds blew, Paul Harvey stood steadfast for the beliefs he held dear and his unwavering love of country. To Paul, America really was that “shining city on a hill” of which Ronald Reagan spoke so eloquently.
This classic open letter from Paul to his grandchildren rings particularly true on this Independence Day:
We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse. For my grandchildren, I’d like better. I’d really like for them to know about hand-me-down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meat loaf sandwiches. I really would.
To the children:
I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated. I hope you learn to make your own bed and mow the lawn and wash the car. And I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you are sixteen.

It will be good if at least one time you can see puppies born and your old dog put to sleep. I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in.

When you want to see a movie and your little brother/sister wants to tag along, I hope you’ll let him/her.

I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother/sister. And it’s all right if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when he/she wants to crawl under the covers with you because he/she’s scared, I hope you let him/her.

I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely. On rainy days when you have to catch a ride, I hope you don’t ask your driver to drop you two blocks away so you won’t be seen riding with someone as uncool as your mom.

If you want a slingshot, I hope your dad teaches you how to make one instead of buying one. I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books. When you learn to use computers, I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head.

I hope you get teased by your friends when you have your first crush on a boy/girl, and when you talk back to your mother that you learn what ivory soap tastes like.

I hope you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on a stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole. I don’t care if you try a beer once, but I hope you don’t like it. And if a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he/she is not your friend.

I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your grandma/grandpa and go fishing with your uncle. I hope you feel sorrow at a funeral and joy during the holidays.

I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through your neighbor’s window and that she hugs you and kisses you at Hanukkah/Christmas time when you give her a plaster mold of your hand.

These things I wish for you – tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness. To me, it’s the only way to appreciate life.

Written with a pen. Sealed with a kiss. I’m here for you. And if I die before you do, I’ll go to heaven and wait for you.


Peanut Butter Cup S'mores Dip

1 (12-oz.) bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
1 (10-oz.) bag marshmallows 
 Graham crackers

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Unwrap peanut butter cups into a 9-inch cake pan. 
3. Top with marshmallows.
4. Bake for about 8 minutes until marshmallows are toasted. 
5. Serve warm with graham crackers for dipping.


Chicken Roll-ups

2 cans of crescent rolls

1 8-ounce package cream cheese
2 Tablespoons dried chives
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
½ cup canned mushroom pieces

Crushed seasoned croutons (a food processor or blender works best to crush them)

Chicken Gravy Mix
Soften cream cheese and mix in chives, chicken, and mushrooms. Open the crescent roll cans and tear rolls apart into triangles (16). Spoon chicken mixture evenly onto rolls. Starting at the long end of the triangle roll up until you get to the point. Then fold the sides over closing the rolls around the chicken mixture and forming a rectangular shape. Dip each roll in the crushed croutons to completely cover it. Bake on a greased pan at 350ºF for 25 minutes. Serve with chicken gravy.


Sprouted and Dehydrated Amonds

If you haven't tried sprouted and dehydrated almonds you need to give them a try! My sister-in-law told me about them a few months ago and we love them! First you start with raw almonds (they need to be truly raw, some are treated so they won't sprout). I use almonds that I got in a bulk order straight from a California grower, but I have also tried it with Costco almonds and it worked although they are a different variety of almond so slightly different results. You soak the nuts for 20-24 hours, until they plump up and if you crack one open you can see the small sprout. Then drain and rinse. Then you dehydrate them at 150° or less (120° is preferable) overnight - 24 hours. Since I don't have a dehydrator and my oven only goes down to 170°, I use the "warm" setting on my oven which goes for an hour at a time. I just restart it several times until the nuts are dried through.


Puffed Apple Pancake

- 6 eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 T butter
- 3 large apples sliced
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon

1) Beat eggs in mixer. Add milk and beat. Add flour and salt, beat until combined.
2) Preheat oven to 425ºF. When hot, melt butter in pan (about 9×9). When it melts, add apples and put back in oven until butter sizzles.
3) When butter is sizzling, pour in batter and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
4) Bake 20 minutes and enjoy right away!

via what's up moms?


Foolproof Waty to Bake Sweet Potatoes

Tips and Tricks

 Don’t coat the sweet potatoes in or wrap them in foil. This is often required in baked sweet potato recipes, but it is time-consuming and not necessary. I’ve also found that this helps the skin separate from the sweet potato flesh, making it easier to peel and eat after baking.

Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork before baking. This improves the texture and helps the sweet potato separate from the skin.

Don’t place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet – put them directly on the oven rack. I’ve found the baking sheet to be unnecessary.

Place a sheet of foil on a rack below the sweet potato(es). This catches any syrup that may drip from the sweet potatoes. Don’t worry, sweet potato juice isn’t going to gush out and dirty your oven, there are just a few drips that turn into charcoal on the foil.

Leave the sweet potatoes in the oven after turning off the oven. The residual heat continues to cook the sweet potatoes without burning them, so they get exceptionally tender and moist.

  • Sweet potatoes or yams
  1. Put a small sheet of foil on a rack directly under the sweet potato(es). This will catch any of the syrup that may escape from the sweet potatoes. For easy cleanup, simply remove the foil and throw it away after baking the sweet potatoes. 
  2. Don't preheat the oven. Prick your sweet potatoes each 2-3 time with a fork, then place them directly on the oven rack in the middle of the oven, above the foil. Turn the oven on to 425.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes for sweet potatoes/yams that are 2-3 inches in diameter. For sweet potatoes that are up to 4 inches in diameter, bake for an hour. For super large sweet potatoes, bake for an hour and 15 minutes.
  4. After the time has elapsed, don't open the oven but turn it off. Let the sweet potatoes sit in the oven for at least 30 minutes but up to an hour. Remove from the oven and eat immediately, or remove the skin and store in a container in the fridge. 

Via: Empowered Sustenance


Lemon Loaf

1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon(s) BAKING POWDER
1/2 teaspoon salt  

3 eggs 
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup oil (recommend coconut oil)

1 cup + 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Use a mixer to blend together the eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, lemon extract and lemon juice in a medium bowl.

Pour wet ingredient into the dry ingredients and blend until smooth. Add oil and mix well.

Pour batter into a well greased 9x5-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into center of the cake comes out clean.

Make the lemon icing by combining all the icing ingredients in a small bowl with an electric mixer on low speed.

When the loaf is cool, remove it from pan and frost the top with the icing. Let the icing set up before slicing.


Life After Birth

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”

“Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.”

- Útmutató a Léleknek


Cheesecake Crescent Rolls

2 cans of Pillsbury Crescent rolls
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup Sugar

Unroll and spread 1 of the cans of crescent rolls on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish (or 8 x 8 if you want to cut the recipe in half). Combine softened cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla. Spread over crescent roll layer. Unroll and layer remaining crescent rolls over cream cheese layer. Melt your butter and spread over top of crescent rolls. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar. Bake for 20-30 minutes in 350F oven until bubbly and slightly browned. Drizzle with a little honey if you like. Let cool a bit, slice and eat.


Real Love


Burned Toast

When I was about eight or nine, my mom liked to cook food and every now and then I remember she used to cook for us.

One night that stood out in my mind is when she had made dinner for us after a very long and rough day at work, She placed a plate of jam and extremely burned toast in front of my dad. Not slightly burned but completely blackened toast.

I was just waiting to see if anyone noticed the burned toast and say anything. But Dad just ate his toast and asked me if I did my homework and how my day was. I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember hearing my mom apologizing to dad for burning the toast. And I’ll never forget what he said:

“Sweetie, I love burned toast.”

Later that night, I went to tell my dad good night and ask him if he really liked his toast burned. He put his arm on my shoulder and said,

“Your momma put in a very long day at work today and she was very tired. And besides, burned toast never hurt anyone but you know what does? Harsh words!”
Then he continued to say, “You know, life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people I’m not the best at hardly anything, and I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like every other human. What I’ve learned over the years, is that learning to accept each others faults and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences, is one of the most important keys for creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship. Life is too short to wake up with regrets. Love the people who treat you right and have compassion for the ones who don’t.”


Mexican Chocolate Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 vegetable oil
1 cup water
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour milk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour-Over Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 Tablespoons milk
1 box (or more) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and sugar and set aside. in a saucepan, heat the butter, oil, cocoa, and water until the butter is melted. Stir it up and pour it over the flour and sugar mixture. Then add everything else (beat the eggs a bit before adding them). Beat the batter until everything is well blended. Bake in a 12x18x2" pan that has been greased and floured for 25 to 30 minutes.

In a saucepan, combine the the butter, cocoa, and milk and heat it to boiling and make sure the butter is melted. Remove it from the heat and beat in the powdered sugar. The recipe calls for one box of powdered sugar, but I always use more. Add the vanilla and beat one more time, and them pour it over the warm cake.


Banana Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350º F. Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. 

Combine bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter in a large bowl. Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Scoop into muffin pans. 

Bake in preheated oven. Bake mini muffins for 10 to 15 minutes, and large muffins for 25 to 30 minutes. Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped.

Makes  6 jumbo muffins, 12 regular muffins,  or 48 mini muffins


Shepherd's Field

I remember the very first time I saw the magnificent painting The Shepherds and the Angel by Carl Heinrich Bloch. It really stirred my emotions---the beautiful deep black starry night, the glorious angel emanating radiant holy light, the startled but humble shepherds, the pen of ewes corralled for protection next to the shepherds. It was stunning! 

I have spent hours over the years pondering this amazing painting, and have concluded that the Spirit of the Lord made known to Carl Heinrich Bloch some important truths surrounding that holy night.

If you look closely at this beautiful scene, you will see that he depicts the angel’s visit to the shepherds on a spring night … not the dead of winter, which was commonly believed in Master Bloch’s time. 

And it is my opinion that it was also revealed to the artist (though there is no evidence to substantiate my claim other than the powerful spirit of this painting) that the angel’s glorious Annunciation … “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” was not delivered to ordinary shepherds, nor were they ordinary lambs that were being birthed that holy night (Luke 2:11). 

Only the Holy
Anciently, Jewish law proclaimed that only flocks designated for temple sacrifice could be raised near cities; Bethlehem being in close proximity to Jerusalem––the seat of Roman power and the Temple. Thus it was known to all that the firstborn male lambs from the area around Bethlehem,* commonly known as the City of David, were considered holy, and set aside for sacrifice in Jerusalem. (Even to this day in some parts of the Middle East this practice still exists.) 

Generations of hereditary shepherds tended these sacred flocks, designated by Temple Priests from their youth and specifically trained for this royal task. It was an honor and a sacred duty. They were protectors and guardsmen of these special flocks and were willing to risk their lives for their sheep.

They were taught and spiritually educated in what a sacrificial lamb must be like, and to make sure that these lambs were never injured, damaged or blemished. Such a shepherd was King David in his youth… on the very same hills. 

In the spring, during lambing season, the bawling of sheep rang across the hillsides and fields of Bethlehem. The newborn lambs were brought to the Tower of the Flock––a large stone tower in Shepherd’s Field anciently referred to as Migdal Eder––where a ceremonially cleansing of the new lambs took place in a specified birthing room.

These shepherds, under special rabbinical care, would routinely place the newborn lambs in a hewn out depression in a limestone rock known as “the manger” and wrap them in swaddling bands (strips of gauze-like cloth) to prevent them from thrashing about and harming themselves. Once they had calmed down they could be inspected to see if they qualified for temple sacrifice … “without spot or blemish” (see The Jewish Oral Tradition & Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah). 

“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered, And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:6-7).

A Type and Shadow or the Last Resort?
There are scholars of ancient scripture who believe that Joseph and Mary were directed by heavenly angels to the Tower of the Flock––Midgal Eder–– for the birth of Jesus, the Lamb of God, the ultimate sacrifice!   

And that the newborn Jesus was ceremonially cleansed and swaddled with the same bands used on the tamyid lambs brought there for inspection before sacrifice, and laid in the hewn out limestone called “the manger.” Thus when the angel pronounced to the shepherds “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” there was no need for the angel to give these shepherds directions to the birth place because they already knew! (Luke 2:12) 

Whether Joseph and Mary ended up at Midgal Eder, having been led there by Holy angels in symbolic testament of things to come, or whether they ended up in an animal stable as a means of desperation or last resort, we will not know until those details of Christ’s birth are revealed.    

But I do find myself filled with tremendous emotion and overwhelming gratitude for my Savior, as I ponder His birth and the profound symbolism behind it all.

* Beth Lechem in Hebrew means “House of Bread” and held no real significance until “He who would be known as the Bread of Life was born” (Ensign, December 2013, Come Let Us Adore Him).

Wordless Wednesday

The Christmas Story

Christmas Around The World - Romania

When most of us think of Christmastime, visions of hams, turkeys, rolls, cakes, pies, and other goodies dance in our heads. And while many Christmas traditions take place outside the dining room, the festivities almost always revolve around food. We've found this to be the case no matter where you live, so take a moment to share in holiday traditions and favorite recipes from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the world.


Craciun fericit! Romania has many different cultural influences, so traditions vary across the country. The most widespread tradition, however, involves caroling. These songs include traditional texts, dances, and images. While carolers sing, children carry stars that they have cut out of cardboard and decorated with Bible scenes. Friends and family often bring instruments as they carol together, and the people at the houses usually give food to the carolers, or sometimes if they're lucky, money. The carolers move from house to house all night until the sun comes up on Christmas morning.

Mos Craciun, or Old Man Christmas, brings gifts, but gifts are given and opened on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. Out in the villages, gifts usually are simple, like fruit, nuts, and pastries. Although Christmas is celebrated on December 25 in Romania, sometimes Christmas is compounded with New Years Eve, as it is in the neighboring country, Moldova.

Food is a large part of the holiday, and the women in the family often end up cooking for three days prior to Christmas. Teo Aemilius says about cozonac, a traditional cheese bread, "Cozonac is Romanian Christmas bread. The smell of this delicious bread baking means it is Christmastime in Romania - time for merriment and lots of good food. It means it's time for singing Romanian Christmas songs, for laughing, and for eating cozonac with apples or sweetened cottage cheese, yeast doughnuts with lemon curd filling, and other lovely Old World-style foods, such as fresh sarmale (cabbage rolls), mititea (sausage), and pickled cucumbers. It means Mosu Craciun is about to arrive. It means that soon there will be toys for the youngest children and stockings filled with fruit, nuts, cookies, and maybe some new mittens and socks. Ah, the sweet smell of Cozonac baking!"

  • 1 cup milk, heated
  • 1 fresh yeast cake (or 1 yeast packet)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 eggs, beaten lightly
  • 3-4 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
Cheese Filling:
  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla or lemon flavoring
Bread: Heat oven to 350° F. Heat the milk to lukewarm. In a separate bowl, crumble yeast. Add 2 teaspoons sugar and 2 tablespoons milk; set aside. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. To the lukewarm milk, add 3 tablespoons sugar, salt, melted butter, lightly beaten eggs, and optional food coloring. Add yeast mixture. Beat all with rotary beater until thoroughly blended. Pour mixture over flour and work in, with a wooden spoon, until all flour has mixed well with milk mixture. Knead with hands for about 5 minutes or until dough will not stick to your hands. Cover with clean tea towel and place in warm spot. Allow dough to rise until double in size.

Punch down and knead again for 2 minutes. Let rise again. Place dough on an oiled work surface and roll out until it is a sheet about a finger's width thick. Spread Cheese Filling uniformly over the top, then roll dough up like a jelly roll. Grease a bread pan, place the roll inside, and allow it to rise to the top of the pan. Brush with a beaten egg and then bake at 350 until done. After 45 minutes, check for doneness. Makes 1 loaf. 

Cheese Filling: Using a fork, mash and blend the cream cheese. Add cornstarch and egg yolks and mix well. Add sour cream, 1–2 tablespoons at a time. Work quickly and mix thoroughly. Add sugar and flavoring. Spread over the dough

Tea Aemilius
Ploiesti Branch
Bucharest Stake
Ploiesti, Romania

Recipes and experiences excerpted from Worldwide Christmas Cookbook by Deanna Buxton. Copyright 2009, Covenant.

Christmas Countdown