Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Brownie Caramel-Swirl Mug Cake - A great gift idea!

I'm always looking for cute gift ideas for the holidays, and I recently came across some fun recipes for small desserts made in a mug in the microwave. What a neat idea! All you have to do is get a microwave-safe mug, provide the pre-measured dry ingredients in the mug, and attach directions stating the wet ingredients the person needs to add and how long to microwave it for. FUN, RIGHT? YES! I used a yummy recipe for Brownie Caramel-Swirl Mug Cake from Kin Community as my base. There are other recipes for "mug cakes" and "mug muffins" all over the internet. I've provided links to two others at the end. 

Blend these dry ingredients with fork then pour in a little baggie. Tie it off, and then place baggie in microwave-safe mug:

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons hot chocolate mix of choice
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips (or other of choice)
Caramel candy (like a Kraft caramel)

Type directions to mix these wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Attach directions to mug. Wrap mug and mixture in clear wrapping:

Add following ingredients to dry ingredients 
in the mug and blend until smooth:

3 tablespoons almond or other milk
3 tablespoons oil (can reduce to 1 Tbsp)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Microwave on high for 90 seconds.
Let cool for 2 minutes before eating.

Brownie Caramel-Swirl Mug Cake (original recipe)

Other mug cakes and muffins:

GooeyBrownie Chocolate Mug Cake for One
(from The Kitchen Whisperer)

(from Betty Crocker)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Baked Apple Dumpling Mummies - SO CUTE!

Baked apple dumplings with candy eyes
(photo by Elsie Park)
I like having fun with food during the holidays. Halloween has so many possibilities. I experimented with my regular baked apple dumplings, wrapping them in extra strips of dough to create the "mummy" look. I had placed raisins on them for eyes before baking, but my husband said they didn't look as good as the candy eyes from the store, so after they were baked, I removed (and ate) the raisins and placed the candy eyes on the mummies. I had leftover pie crust dough so I made a mini mummy blackberry pie, too (pictured below). I managed to get a few pictures of them before my husband and girls gobbled the mummies up. Here's the recipe for baked apple dumpling mummies:


Pastry for one-crust pie (can also use store-bought dough):
     1 cup flour
     1/4 teaspoon salt (can double this is using unsalted butter)
     1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cold butter (I use salted butter)
     2-3 tablespoons cold water

Mix flour and salt in medium bowl then cut cold butter into it using pastry cutter until it resembles find crumbs. Add water and mix and mash with a fork until a nice dough forms. Cover and set aside.

Apple Dumplings:
     3 medium apples of choice (I like to use Yellow Delicious, Gala, or Fuji)
     Mixture of ~1/4 cup sugar and ~ 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon to taste
     Raisins or candy eyes (usually found in the baking section of the store by the sprinkles)

Divide pie crust dough into three equal portions. Roll separate portions out on lightly-floured surface to 1/8th-inch thickness. Peel and core apples. Place one apple in center of each dough section. Fill each apple center cavity to the top with cinnamon/sugar mixture. Wrap each apple up in the dough, overlapping edges just enough to pinch together and seal. Tear off excess dough and roll out again to 1/8th-inch thickness. Cut into strips with knife or pizza cutter and lightly wrap around your apple dumpling, making your mummy.

If using raisins for the eyes, you may place them into the dough before baking (or after if you prefer), pushing them in so they fit securely. If using candy eyes, do not place on dumplings until after they are baked (I don't know how candy eyes fair in hot ovens). Place dumplings in baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour until crust starts to look golden on top. Remove from oven. Place apples on individual plates/bowls and drizzle with the apple syrup that came out of the dumplings during baking and pooled in the bottom of the pan. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream if desired. Enjoy!
Dumplings with raisin eyes. My husband said they didn't look as cute as the candy eyes.
(photo by Elsie Park)
The mini blackberry mummy pie I made with the leftover crust (with candy eyes placed after baking).
(Photo by Elsie Park)

Other things we did this year:

Crispy rice ghosts with frosting and candy eyes (Photo by Elsie Park)
Crispy rice treat recipe here:
Jack-o-Oranges: Faces drawn onto mandarin oranges with Sharpie pen (Photo by Elsie Park)


Monday, October 15, 2018

Canning season is officially over for me! Phew!

I love making use of nature's bounty, but it's a lot of time and work to bottle, preserve or simply use up all the fruit and veggies I get each year from my garden and others. This year was one of the most bountiful yet:

- Apple butter (12 pints, bottled)
- Apple pie filling (7 cups, frozen)

- Carrots, cut (3 one-gallon bags, blanched and frozen)

- Cherry pie filling (10 cups, frozen)

- Grape jelly, purple (8 pints, bottled)
- Grape juice, purple (40 quarts, bottled)
- Grape pie filling, purple (12 cups, frozen)

- Peach butter (6 pints, bottled)
- Peach jelly (10 pints, bottled)
- Peach nectar (6 quarts, bottled)
- Peach pie filling (7 cups, frozen)

- Salsa, mild (24 pints, bottled)

- Swiss chard, steamed (eaten)

- Zucchini bread (8 loaves made at intervals and eaten by my family)
- Zucchini, steamed (eaten)

Now time to rest and enjoy the fruits of my labors throughout the winter.

Purple Grape Juice! YUM!

Lots and lots of carrots!

The entire family (minus our 3-year-old) cutting carrots

An entire garden box-full of carrots reduced down to these two large bowls, later blanched and frozen

One of our weirder carrots this year *laugh*

Making salsa? Hmm

Two pies I made for hubby's birthday. The one on the left was made from my parent's sweet cherries.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Perils of Wrath featured and part of giveaway!

PERILS OF WRATH is not only being featured on New LDS Fiction, but is part of a book giveaway for the month of August. Go here on the New LDS Fiction site to enter. 

Here is a list of the books available to win in August 
(Note: all books are clean romances):

Perils of Wrath by Elsie Park

Dancing with the Prince - A Royal Secrets Romance by Kennedy Larsen

Serving the Prince - A Royal Secrets Romance by Sophia Conrad

Taming the Prince - A Royal Secrets Romance by Addison Quinn

Dark Mirror Image - A Royal Romance by Anna del C. Dye

Kings Crossed Lovers by Donna K. Weaver

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Lemon Zucchini Bread Recipe

My zucchini plants started out slow, but are now performing quite well. ZUCCHINI BREAD TIME!!! Here's a recipe I stumbled upon for "Lemon Zucchini Bread" from Lemon Tree Dwelling and boy is it GOOD! My oldest daughter and I made one loaf with white flour (as the recipe calls for) as it turns out looking yellow just like lemon bread. We made a second loaf using mostly whole wheat flour, which turns out more brown and wheaty-looking. I didn't end up making the yummy glaze, but the bread is still good without it. Both loaves were SUPER TASTY! 
Here's the recipe:
Left: Lemon Zucchini bread made with white flour. Right: Lemon zucchini bread made with whole wheat flour.
Lemon Zucchini Bread (REALLY GOOD recipe!)
1 & 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (if you want it to look yellow)
(or can use 1 c. whole wheat + 1/2 c. white flour, but it will look brown)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. finely shredded unpeeled zucchini (do not squeeze or dry shredded zucchini)
1/4 c. canola oil
1 egg
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
*2 Tbsp. lemon zest (substitute = 3 tsp lemon extract OR ¾ cup lemon juice)
Glaze (can be doubled if desired)
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest

In a medium mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl combine sugar, zucchini, cooking oil, egg, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir to combine.

Add dry ingredients to zucchini mixture; stir just until combined.

Spoon batter into greased (and sugared if desired) bread pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown and set Insert toothpick to check for gooeyness.

Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 min, then remove from pan and cool completely.

Once cool, combine ingredients for glaze and drizzle over bread.

*Lemon Zest Substitutes
For 1 teaspoon zest    = 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract OR
                                    = 2 tablespoons lemon juice OR
= 1 teaspoon lime zest.

For 1 tablespoon zest = 1& 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract OR
                                    = 6 tablespoons lemon juice OR
= 3 teaspoon lime zest.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Simple Scripture Pound Cake

So there is a really fun scripture activity where you look up scriptures from the Bible (King James version) and find ingredients that go into a recipe to make a "scripture cake," but the recipe can be time consuming and it calls for a lot of nuts, figs, and raisins, and the cake resembles a holiday fruitcake more than anything, and not everyone is prone to that kind of cake.

So, to make a simpler version of the scripture cake, I came up with a SCRIPTURE "POUND" CAKE (adapted from Martha Stewart's recipe for Vanilla Pound Cake) that's a lot shorter with less ingredients, making for a quicker activity if there are time constraints. Vanilla was the only ingredient I couldn't find a reference to in the Bible, so I substituted it for almond flavoring.

This makes a great activity for the family or a church group.

Photo from: https://www.marthastewart.com/337155/vanilla-pound-cake

1 cup _______*, softened   Judges 5:25, last clause (butter)
2 cups ________                             1 Kings 4:22, first sentence (flour)
1 cup ________                               Jeremiah 6:20 (sugar)
4 _______                                       Jeremiah 17:11 (eggs)
*add 1/2 tsp _______ if using unsalted butter    Leviticus 2:13 (salt) 
1 tsp _______ extract (or 2 tsp vanilla) Genesis 43:11 (almond)
(no Biblical reference for vanilla)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 6-cup (8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch) loaf pan; set aside. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; add vanilla and salt*. With mixer on low, gradually add flour, beating just until combined (do not overmix). Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour (tent with aluminum foil if browning too quickly). Let cool in pan 15 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack and turn upright to cool completely.

Original Scripture Cake
Here is an adaptation of the original "scripture cake" from PRAY COOK BLOG for those who'd like it . . . and it looks quite yummy (picture below):

Grease a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan with 1 tablespoon Judges 5:25 (butter).
Sprinkle with raw Jeremiah 6:20 (sugar), turning pan to coat.
Sprinkle 1/3 cup chopped Genesis 43:11 (almonds) evenly into the bottom of the pan and set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, beat 1 cup Judges 5:25 (butter) along with 1½ cups Jeremiah 6:20 (sugar) beating until light and fluffy.Beat in 4 Jeremiah 17:11 (eggs), one at a time.

Combine 2 cups Exodus 29:2 (flour) and mix with the following ingredients: 2 teaspoons Amos 4:5 (baking powder), 2 Chronicles 9:9 to taste (cloves, allspice, nutmeg), 2 teaspoons Exodus 30:23 (Cinnamon), and a pinch of Mark 9:50 (salt)

Add to the Judges 5:25 mixture; beat at low speed until well combined. Stir in: 1 tablespoon 1 Samuel 14:25 (honey) along with 1/2 cup 1 Samuel 30:12 (raisins) and 2 cups chopped dried Song of Solomon 2:13 (figs)

Mix in 1 cup slivered or chopped Numbers 17:8 (almonds) and remaining 2/3 cup chopped Genesis 43:11 (walnuts). Add in 4 cups cored, peeled, and coarsely chopped Psalms 17:8 (apple)

Follow Solomon’s advice for making good boys in Proverbs 23:14 (beat - I know, I cringe when I read this one)

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake in 350 degree oven until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes.  Cool in pan 15 minutes; invert onto wire rack and cool completely.  Best if prepared 1 day before serving.  Store cake at room temperature.  Serve with a dollop of whipped cream!

Photo from: https://praycookblog.com/scripture-cake/ 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Book review: A Thousand Sleepless Nights by Teri Harman

A Thousand Sleepless Nights and author Teri Harman

My review of A Thousand Sleepless Nights by Teri Harman, author of the Moonlight trilogy (Blood Moon, Black Moon, & Storm Moon).

A Thousand Sleepless Nights, a clean romance with a touch of magic, had me from the first pages, gripping my interest from the conversation between Matilda (the main character) and her dying Aunt Jetty. The themes in this story are strong and heart-wrenching as the reader travels on a measured journey of tragedy, heartache, tears, confusion, and longing. That being said, the story (for me) had a satisfying ending as it is also infused with learning, growing, hope, and a little bit of magic brought on by the power of emotions (especially grief). Lines from the story explain this element: “We rarely realize how powerful our thoughts can be, how powerful our emotions are. There’s tremendous energy there, and if we let it that energy can build and build until it creates its own strength, its own will.”

Don’t expect a fast-moving action-adventure, or even your average romance with this one. This is a leisurely-paced love story like no other. And the events in this book can be understood both figuratively and realistically as the author adds in a touch of the supernatural. Can I just say that the scene where the typewriter first starts typing by itself literally gave me chills.

The importance of, and love for, books and writing are also beautifully illustrated throughout the story. Henry’s thoughts at one point echoed my own as an author: “Writers could control what happened, could change it. A magician toying with fate. If he wanted, there could always be a happy ending.”

Even though I love the main characters, Matilda and Henry, my favorite character has got to be Abby, a good woman who remains positive despite terrible tragedies in her past. She is a good mother-figure and a great example to Matilda and Henry who are learning to deal with their own tragedies. We are first introduced to Abby through these lines and one can’t help but immediately fall in love with her character:

“Abby, we don’t have any idea who this guy is,” Gill protested. “You can’t . . .”

“Oh, shut up, you old grump,” she shot back. “The boy needs help. And I can tell just lookin’ at him that he’s good through and through. Be a decent Christian for once in your miserable life.” She frowned reproachfully, but then turned a bright smile on Henry. “You a thief?”

Henry blanched, blinked. “No, Ma’am.”

“Ax murderer? Annoying salesman? Fugitive? Nail biter?” She smiled as she said the last one and the tension in Henry’s gut eased slightly.

“No ma’am.”

Abby nodded and reached for him. “Then you come in now, out of the icy night, and let’s see what we can do.”

A Thousand Sleepless Nights is a solid read, but don’t take my word for it . . . read it yourself.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Perils of Wrath released MAY 22, 2018!

Welcome to knight boot camp! Check out PERILS OF WRATH, a medieval action-romance. Available May 22, 2018 where books and ebooks are sold. 

Sir Roland Beaumont's investigation into his birth parents’ deaths leads him to Guildon Castle, domain of Lord Craven. Roland’s plans are complicated when the earl enlists him to tame his stepdaughter, Audrina Gibbons, by training her as a squire. Roland soon finds that Audrina—Audri—is much more than he imagined.
Unable to save her mother from Craven's physical abuse, Audri’s open hostility for her stepfather and his scheme pits her against her would-be trainer. Audri's provocation strains Roland’s composure, much as his merciless training regime tests her willpower.
Sir Roland’s quest for truth soon tests the resolve of both knight and squire as the dark secrets of Guildon Castle are unearthed—secrets never meant to be revealed . . . secrets that some would kill to keep.

Barnes & Noble
Trailer #1
Trailer #2
Elsie Park
I grew up in a small town outside Yosemite National Park, California, U.S.A. I enjoy soccer, piano, reading, writing, art and my family. Years ago I spent 18 months in Italy teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Seeing the castles and old Roman cities enhanced my fascination for ancient and medieval culture. In college I studied zoology, botany and criminal justice. I've worked as a wildland firefighter and a police officer, but I am currently a stay-at-home mom, spending time with my children and husband. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2017 and changed my diet and lifestyle to that of super healthy eating of fruits, veggies, grains, fish, Vitamin D, flax seed oil and exercise, and it seems to be keeping the disease at bay for the time being. I love thinking up new ideas for interesting stories and musical compositions to go with them. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Healthy Banana Nut Bread from my 9-year-old daughter

So my cute 9-year-old daughter loves to bake, and she likes to use multi-purpose baking mix as a base for some of her creations. JIFFY and BISQUICK have a good base with BISQUICK having a "heart smart" version that has no saturated fat. My daughter made banana nut bread from the back of the JIFFY box, substituting apple sauce for the shortening and 4 egg whites for the two whole eggs. The bread turned out SO GOOD! She now gets requests from family members to make it again and again. Here's the recipe as she makes it:
Healthy Banana Nut Bread or Muffins
(for use with “Jiffy” and “Bisquick Heart Smart” all-purpose baking mixes)

2 cups baking mix (Jiffy or Bisquick)
¾ cup granulated sugar (can use brown sugar)
¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce (instead of shortening)
4 egg whites (can use 2 whole eggs)
1 cup ripe banana, mashed
1/3 cup nuts, chopped (we like walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream sugar and apple sauce together. Add baking mix, eggs, banana and nuts. Mix until blended. Pour into prepared pan * , ** , ***. After baking and removing from pan, cool on wire rack before storing in plastic bag or other container for a few days . . . or freeze for later.

*For loaf: Lightly oil a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Pour all batter into pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool at least a half hour in pan before removing to wire rack to cool completely.
**For regular-sized muffins: Lightly oil muffin pan. Fill no more than ¾-full with batter. Bake for about 15-18 minutes.
*** For mini-muffins: Lightly oil mini-muffin pan. Fill no more than ¾-full with batter. Bake for about 12 minutes.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

PERILS OF WRATH Release Approaching Fast! May 22, 2018!

The long-awaited release of my second book, PERILS OF WRATH, sequel to SHADOWS OF VALOR is fast approaching: MAY 22, 2018!!! It will be available in paperback and ebook formats everywhere online and in select stores.

Tag lines:

"To shape their destiny, they must give up control!"

"Nothing frustrates a knight more than being shackled to an unruly squire with guarded secrets and a persistent sweet tooth."


Sir Roland Beaumont's investigation into his birth parents' deaths leads him to Guildon Castle, domain of Lord Craven. Roland's plans are complicated when the earl enlists him to tame his stepdaughter, Audrina Gibbons, by training her as a squire. Roland soon finds that Audrina (Audri) is much more than he imagined.

Unable to save her mother from Craven's physical abuse, Audri's open hostility for her stepfather and his scheme pits her against her would-be trainer. Audri's provocation strains Roland's composure, much as his merciless training regime tests her willpower.

Sir Roland's quest for truth soon tests the resolve of both knight and squire as the dark secrets of Guildon Castle are unearthed, secrets never meant to be revealed . . . secrets that some would kill to keep.



Watch the teaser trailers on Youtube here:

Monday, February 26, 2018

SHADOWS OF VALOR now on Kindle Unlimited! Read for FREE!

SHADOWS OF VALOR is now on Amazon's Kindle Unlimited (read it for free if you're signed up). It's a great time to read this book before the sequel, PERILS OF WRATH, is released May 22, 2018.