Thursday, September 25, 2014

Decorative Pumpkin Pie Crusts
Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up fast, and many have already started planning what to bring, who will bring it and where to eat this year. Always game for a spin-off on classic favorites, I searched and discovered some really cool ideas for decorating my pumpkin pie this year. Check out what I found! (Libby's pumpkin pie recipe at the end of this post, too)
And for an easy pumpkin pie (well, the next easiest thing to just buying the pie at the store), here's Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe (click on the picture to make it larger):

Monday, September 22, 2014

3 Dutch oven cobblers for the conventional oven!

If you're like me, you do not own a Dutch oven, nor would you know how many briquettes to use if you HAD one. Anything that can be cooked in the Dutch oven, can be baked in a conventional oven. Here are three variations of the popular Dutch oven cobbler that you can bake in your oven:

- Black Forest Cobbler
- Apple-Root Beer Cobbler
- Basic Fruit Cobbler

Dutch Oven Black Forest Cobbler (for conventional oven)

1 (18 oz) box brownie mix (or chocolate cake mix)
2 cans (16 - 21 oz ea) cherries (drained) or cherry pie filling
1 (12 oz) can Sprite/7-up/equivalent
2 Tbsp butter, cut up

Line Dutch oven (or other large baking dish) with foil for easy clean up. Place butter chunks on bottom of dish. Pour fruit evenly into dish. *Pour dry cake mix evenly over fruit. Pour soda over everything. Cover. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees F.

*Can mix dry cake mix and soda together in a separate bowl before pouring over fruit.

Dutch Oven Apple-Root Beer Cobbler (for conventional oven)

1 box spice cake mix
2 cans (21 oz each) apple pie filling
1 can root beer
2 Tbsp butter, cut into chunks

Line Dutch oven (or other large baking dish) with foil for easy clean up. Place butter chunks on bottom of dish. Pour fruit evenly into dish. *Pour dry cake mix evenly over fruit. Pour soda over everything. Cover. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees F. This is a zingy, fun-tasting cobbler!

*Can mix dry cake mix and soda together in a separate bowl before pouring over fruit.

Dutch Oven Basic Fruit Cobbler (for conventional oven)

1 box white or yellow cake mix
1 (12 oz) can Sprite/7-up/equivalent
2 cans (21 oz each) fruit pie filling of choice (peach, cherry, apple, blueberry, raspberry, etc.)
2 Tbsp butter, cut into chunks

Line Dutch oven (or other large baking dish) with foil for easy clean up. Place butter chunks on bottom of dish. Pour fruit evenly into dish. *Pour dry cake mix evenly over fruit. Pour soda over everything. Cover. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees F.

*Can mix dry cake mix and soda together in a separate bowl before pouring over fruit.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Safari Birthday Parties!

My girls had birthday parties a few weeks apart. My 6-year-old wanted a Safari Party and my 9-year-old wanted a Horse Roundup Party. My husband, always one to go crazy on anything that spells "party" made a safari vehicle out of his old Chevy S-10 pickup.

For both parties we hid tons of stuffed animals and stuffed horses all over our 1-acre yard for the party-goers to spot from the truck.

Some of the animals had bags of "loot" beside them (little prizes like pencils, stickers, animal related trinkets, etc.) which I handed out to the kids.

The safaris were a success with the added fun of other games and activities.

My husband also rigged up a homemade "horsey ride" from some strong cardboard, 2x4s and stick horses, pulling it behind his ATV. Another popular activity for the kids!

After the horse party ended and all the kids returned home, we surprised both girls with a REAL horsey ride. They'd never been on a horse in their lives, so it was a real treat.

Our sweet neighbors saddled up their horse, Slick, and led the girls around their yard to the girl's ultimate delight.

My husband and our youngest even got to ride. My youngest's shirt, which was too big for her, was giving a little "off the shoulder" look *smile*. The girls said they'd remember these parties forever. That's good, because I don't think I'll be able to do them every year, or even every two years. Too much work for just a 2 hour party! Maybe every 3 years. We'll just have a small family celebration for the years in between *laugh*. GOOD TIMES!

Monday, September 15, 2014

KSL (NBC) Studio 5 Relaxing Reads features SHADOWS OF VALOR!

I was delighted and flattered that Teri Harman (author of the Moonlight contemporary witch trilogy) featured my medieval romance, SHADOWS OF VALOR on her Studio 5 segment as part of her "relaxing reads" lists. Mine was one of 6 titles mentioned. I couldn't be happier with the feature and the tagline for my book that my male character is like a "medieval batman!" Awesome! Here's the link to the short segment. Mine is the second book in the list:
Thanks, Teri!

Thursday, August 28, 2014



Forget all your preconceptions of old witches with warts, pointed hats and flying broomsticks. Teri Harman brings her readers to a modern-day world of witches where the natural elements of the earth hold the key to their power. And not only are there good witches (light witches) who respect the earth and use magic for the good of humanity, but there are opposing bad witches (dark witches) who are only out for world domination and power. These two forces come head to head in this story of a young woman and young man who have just come to grips with the fact that they are witches. They find opposition and rejection from those they love, but love and acceptance from others of their kind as they learn to develop and control their powers. Set in modern-day United States, we learn that witches lead quite normal lives: They marry, have families and carry jobs. But dark witches are ever seeking to destroy the light witches, so they must remain vigilant at all times. When together, the light witches have more power to fight the dark witches, but dark witches are known for their underhanded and shady tactics, at times catching the light witches off guard. Will the light witch covens survive the onslaught of evil unleashed by the dark covens? Find out in BLOOD MOON, Harman’s first installment in her Moonlight Trilogy.

Harman’s beautiful story-telling envelopes readers, bringing them into the story, and allowing them to feel the characters’ pains, difficulties and triumphs. The story ends with a sum up, but also purposeful loose ends that lead right into her second book, BLACK MOON, due out September 16, 2014.

Come join her launch party for BLACK MOON on September 20, 2014 at THE KING’S ENGLISH bookshop, 7-9pm (located at 1511 South 1500 East, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84105, United States)

BLOOD MOON and BLACK MOON can be found in paperback and on e-book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and ordered from any other bookstore.

Teri’s website:


Watch the BLOOD MOON book trailer on Youtube:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Easy Creamy Fudge with Variations

With several holidays coming up and occurring one after the other (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas), there will be no shortage of family gatherings and delicious food to celebrate with. One of my favorite treats to bring to parties is fudge, and since my middle name is "make it as easy as possible", this recipe is perfect for me.
Photo Credit:

3 cups chocolate chips (I use a 50/50 mix of semi-sweet and milk chocolate)
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Line an 8 or 9-inch square pan with foil, allowing it to reach up the sides. Set aside. In a saucepan, melt chocolate chips with condensed milk and vanilla until chips are completely melted. Remove from heat and add nuts if desired. Stir to coat. Immediately pour into prepared foil-lined pan and then chill in fridge 1-2 hours until firm. Turn over onto cutting board and remove foil. Cut into squares with pizza cutter (or knife). ENJOY!


ANY FLAVOR of baking morsel can be used in this recipe.
- Using all semi-sweet morsels makes a yummy dark chocolate fudge (this is my favorite)
- All milk chocolate makes a softer, creamier fudge (this is my husband's favorite)
- You can use flavored morsels such as white chocolate, vanilla, cherry, mint, peanut butter, cinnamon and butterscotch.

I like to make LAYERED FUDGE and it's easy to do. Make a half-batch of one flavor, chill it in the fridge, then make a half batch of another flavor and spread it on top of the first layer. Chill until firm. Some of my favorite layered combinations are:
Chocolate-Peanut Butter
Chocolate-White Chocolate
Be creative and have fun!
CHOCOLATE-MINT photo credit:
CHOCOLATE-CHERRY photo credit:

Monday, August 11, 2014


Photo Credit:
ICE CREAM IN A BAG (serves 2, but make as many bags as needed)
(from American Profile – page 10 - year of issue unknown)

3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup half-and-half
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 heavy quart-sized ziptop plastic bag
1 heavy gallon-sized ziptop plastic bag
Rock salt

Place sugar, half-and-half and vanilla in quart-sized bag and seal. Place that bag inside of the gallon-sized bag. Layer ice and rock salt in the gallon-sized bag so it surrounds the quart-sized bag. Seal shut. Toss bag back and forth about 10 minutes.

Can mix in favorite items such as mini chocolate chips, fresh chopped fruits and berries, crumbled cookies, or chopped candy bars.

Photo credit:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Banana Split Dessert - my husband's favorite!

I make this dessert for my husband's birthday every year or on Father's Day! It's his absolute favorite! There are several variations, some that use raw egg in the spread that doesn't get cooked (which I'm always leery about), but this is my easy-peasy version using instant vanilla pudding, instead.

Photo by Elsie Park
Banana Split Dessert

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 (5 ounces each) packages instant vanilla pudding*
4 cups milk
3 bananas sliced thinly (lengthwise or in little rounds)
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (16 ounce) carton frozen whipped dessert topping, thawed in fridge
1/4 cup chopped nuts of choice (peanuts are good, but mixed nuts are too)
1 (10 ounce) jar maraschino cherries (without stems), drained
9x13-inch cake pan

Mix softened butter and sugar together in bowl then add graham cracker crumbs. Mix until all crumbs are moistened with butter. Press crumb mixture into cake pan. You DON'T need to bake it, but you can put it in the oven at 350 degrees F. for 5 minutes if you'd like. This melts the butter a little more and helps glue the crumbs together. Do NOT overbake or the crust will be too hard. Cool completely.
Photo by Elsie Park
Prepare vanilla instant pudding with the 4 cups milk (this gives you a firmer, thicker pudding). Mix thoroughly. It set up quickly, so pour over cooled graham cracker crust and allow to set in the pan (this takes only a minute or so).
Photo by Elsie Park
Slice bananas and layer them onto the set pudding, then spread the drained crushed pineapple over the bananas.
Photo by Elsie Park
Spread the whipped topping over everything, sprinkling chopped nuts on it afterwards. Last, put cherries on top, placing them in spaced out rows so that each slice of dessert will have a cherry on top.
Photo by Elsie Park
This dessert can be made the night before. Keep refrigerated.


*One variation is to use 2 packages of softened cream cheese mixed with 1 cup of confectioner's (powdered) sugar in place of the instant pudding - your preference

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Who would play my characters in the SHADOWS OF VALOR movie?

If my medieval romantic fiction, SHADOWS OF VALOR, was made into a movie, which actors would I choose for the roles?

Lady Elsbeth Rawley would be played by KATE BECKINSALE (I remember her most from 1993's Much Ado About Nothing and Jane Austen's Emma)
Kate Beckinsale picture from
Other possible actresses for Elsbeth: Jennifer Connelly, Katie McGrath, Keira Knightley

Sir Calan Beaumont (The Shadow) would be played by STEPHEN AMELL from the TV series Arrow and Hallmark TV movie When Calls The Heart
Picture from
Other possible actors for Sir Calan/The Shadow: Chris Hemsworth

Lady Genevieve Shaufton would be played by Maggie Grace from When Calls the Heart and Lost
Picture from
Other possibilities for Jenna: Kate Hudson, Charlize Theron, Rachel Skarsten

Sir Giles Beaumont would be played by Bradley James who was Arthur in the TV mini series Merlin
Picture from
Other Possible Actors for Sir Giles: Channing TatumThomas Gibson (though he may be a little old for the part :/)

Sir Randall Bolkin would be played by Orlando Bloom from Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit
Picture form
Other possible actors for Sir Randall: Mike Vogel, Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Walker

Lady Cecilia Shaufton would be played by Alice Krige from Thor: The Dark World and Star Trek: First Contact
Picture from
Other possibilities for Ceclia: Susanna Thompson

Bartram McCaulch would be played by Richard Armitage from The Hobbit and Robin Hood
Picture from
Other possible actors for Bartram: Sean Bean or Rufus Sewel

Lord Rupert Shaufton would be played by Sean Bean from The Lord of the Rings 
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Other possibilities for Rupert: Richard Armitage