Dec 192013

Camp Grandma had the kitchen table covered with the grandson’s latest holiday craft projects.
Christmas craft house grandkids

Christmas craft house pretzel

Christmas craft house

Christmas crafts

Christmas craft cookie men

Christmas craft pretzel houses

Christmas craft houses

Instead of making gingerbread houses, the kids were eager to try making pretzel log cabins.

This was their chance to build houses similar to when they built cabins with Lincoln Logs.

Snacking on pretzels is another reason why making gingerbread houses, wasn’t their first choice.

This crafty blogger at Sweetopia has house templates to share and many great ideas for uniquely decorated houses.

After downloading the templates, the patterns were then cut out of cardboard.

The grandkids spread “mortar” on the cardboard house shapes made from flour and water glue.  The large and small pretzels were stuck onto the “mortared” cabin sides and roofs.

After a few hours, the cardboard shapes were dry and ready for assembly.  I wish the grandkids could have glued the sides and roof together, but we had too many collapsed disasters in the past.  So, my handy glue gun made quick work of forming the Christmas Cabins.

White frosting added snow to the roofs.  The frosting also helped fill in any areas where cardboard edges were showing.  Then the tasting and sampling began while adding candy canes, m & m’s, sprinkles, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, etc.

The next Camp Grandma project involved making teddy bears and ornament shapes out of cinnamon, applesauce and glue.

By mixing 1 1/2 cups each of cinnamon and applesauce with 1/8 cup glue, our kitchen smelled like Christmas time.

After rolling out the mixture between two pieces of wax paper, the boys used cookie cutters to shape the ornaments.  A drinking straw was poked into some of the soft shapes, so they can be hung with a ribbon.  Drying time was reduced by placing them in the oven on the lowest heat setting for a few hours.

All my grandsons love to ski.  So, it made perfect sense to stand the little bears on pretzel skis.  Now they could move them around their pretzel log cabins.

My handy glue gun came to the rescue again, for permanently attaching the pretzel skis and poles to the bears.

Parchment paper covered large trays, so the grandkids could add their wintry scenes around the cabins.

These creations wouldn’t win prizes at some fancy contest, but are priceless to this Grandma for the fun we had making them.

What homemade decorations are displayed in your home this year?

Dec 132013

Traditions have always been an important part of the Thanksgiving celebration. But how did these traditions get started?
thanksgiving nfl lion packer gameFootball games

For our family, this day is a tradition for giving thanks and watching our Packers play football.

The Detroit Lions are credited with starting this Thanksgiving day tradition in 1934.  The team’s owner knew scheduling a game on a holiday could be risky, but when the game was quickly sold out, a tradition was born.  Our son-in-law’s team, the Lions, beat our Packers on Thanksgiving Day.  Oh well, there’s always a next time.

Thanksgiving Turkey WishboneTurkey WishboneTurkey Wishbone Cracking

This is one of the odder traditions that has a very deep history and actually dates back thousands of years.

The custom of snapping these bones or furculas in two after dinner came to us from the English, who got it from the Romans, who got it from the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization.

The Etruscans apparently thought chickens had supernatural powers, so they used the birds in an attempt to predict the future.

Amazingly, they found goose bones were capable of predicting if the winter would be severe or mild.

I wonder if my local television station’s weatherman has a few wishbones next to his prognosticating equipment!

Cranberry Relish

Cranberry Sauce

Love it or hate it, they are considered a part of the Thanksgiving tradition.  While cranberries were available, the Pilgrims likely weren’t devouring them as a sauce or relish.  Since sugar was a luxury item, making the jam would have been expensive.

As reported in The New Jersey Star-Ledger, “Cranberries officially became a part of the national Thanksgiving tradition in 1864, when Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ordered cranberries be served to soldiers as part of their holiday meal.”  Whether it was widely used before that remains a mystery.

This cranberry recipe got five stars from my family and is now part of our traditional turkey dinner.  What’s your favorite (or wacky) holiday tradition memory.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Quince-Pomegranate Cranberry Compote
Recipe type: salad
Serves: 15
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Make it a day ahead, as it allows the fruit to set nicely and the flavors to really come together.
  • 12 ounces fresh (rinsed, stemmed and drained) or frozen cranberries
  • ½ POM pomegranate juice (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 Quince (peeled, cored, seeded and diced)
  • 2 Satsumas or small oranges (juiced and zested)
  • 1 cup super fine sugar
  1. Place the diced quince in a small saucepan with enough water to cover fruit over high heat. Bring to boil, lower heat to medium and simmer until quince is fork tender. Set aside without draining fruit to avoid discoloration.
  2. Place cranberries, Satsuma orange zest and juice, sugar and pomegranate juice in medium-size saucepan over high heat.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium, add drained quince and simmer for about 10 minutes or until mixture thickens and quince melds with the cranberries. Crush the quince with back of wooden spoon while stirring if necessary.
  4. Test if thickened. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Refrigerate. Will keep for 3 or 4 weeks in refrigerator.

Enjoy the “Foodie Tuesday” series on Inside Journeys

Dec 062013

There are many ways to cook a Thanksgiving dinner, but I couldn’t believe anyone ever tried a dishwasher!cooking in a dishwasher

This 1970’s picture shows a large salmon with vegetables, wrapped in tin foil and cooked in their dishwasher.  The story is here. Cooking in a car b que cooking in a bbq cooker

Or, how about lasagna in your dishwasher.  Set the dishwasher to normal cycle and select ‘heated dry’ and ‘sanitize’ settings for maximum heat.

To clean your dishes at the same time, place food in airtight sealed jars.  Select regular dishwashing cycles and add the detergent.  Now that’s taking multi-tasking to another level!

Hungry road travelers can eat tasty manifold grilled meals that are called Car-B-Que. This is really what I would call fast food for road kill.

Did you know that hot dog cookers are also available for snowmobiles that strap to your exhaust?  The story didn’t say where the Ketchup and pickles are stored.

Our thanksgiving turkey was smoked over mesquite to a golden crispness in this elite barbeque rotisserie smoker oven.

The HolySmoke Barbeque company made all these hams and turkeys for Thanksgiving.  The smoked flavor was amazing.

If your mouth is watering now, their facebook page is:    How was your Thanksgiving dinner cooked?

Nov 062013

Cookie House Chimney GhostAre you getting tired of eating the candy corn left from your Halloween Trick or Treating yet?  cookie house witch

Decorating a Fall themed Snickerdoodle/Gingerbread house with the kids, is a fun way to use some of that left over candy.

Mini Trix crackers were used for the roof’s shingles.Cookie House Broom

The witch is a Pez candy dispenser.  She has a Nutter Butter cookie body with candy melt frosting and a red licorice belt.

The tutorial and templates are included on the first snickerdoodle house made with the grandkids linked here.

We had fun decorating this house on a local television show called Good Things Utah.

The broom is a pretzel with shredded wheat and frosting decoration.

Crushed Oreos decorate the path.  Some left over cookie pieces were used to create a bench.

cookie house turkey owlFor a Fall themed look, the Turkeys are oreo and nutter butter cookies.  Some M&Ms made noses and the turkey waddles.

The owl is nutter butter cookies with shredded wheat for feathers and wings.

The Snickerdoodle house has been a fun project with the grandkids during one of our Camp Grandma craft activities.

What projects have you kept the kids busy with?

Oct 222013


Is the Baked Alaska dessert from Alaska?  Was the German Chocolate cake first made in Germany? German's chocolate cake bloggerman chocolate cake
I assumed this recipe came from Germany.  Then I read out about a chocolatier named Sam German.  He created a sweet baking bar named “BAKER’S German’s Sweet Chocolate.”

When a Texan housewife sent a recipe using German’s Sweet Chocolate to a Dallas newspaper in 1957, everyone started making this cake.  The recipe went viral and the name was shortened to German Chocolate Cake.

Roasting the pecans and coconut takes them from ordinary to extraordinary.

Mix 1 cup chopped pecans with 1 teaspoon of butter and spread on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes.

Spread coconut thinly on a cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir every 5 minutes to evenly brown.

4.5 from 2 reviews
German Chocolate Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 (1 ounce) squares German sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2½ cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup butter
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1⅓ cups flaked coconut (toast @ 325 degrees for 5 minutes, stir for even color)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (roast @350 degrees for 5 minutes, watch to not scorch)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoon shortening
  • 3 (1 ounce) square semisweet chocolate
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 3 - 9 inch round pans. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a small saucepan, heat water and 4 ounces chocolate until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, cream 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 4 egg yolks one at a time. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, mixing just until incorporated.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold ⅓ of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain.
  4. Pour into 3 - 9 inch pans. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then turn out onto a wire rack.
  5. To make the filling: In a saucepan combine 1 cup sugar, evaporated milk, ½ cup butter, and 3 egg yolks. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla. Cool until thick enough to spread.
  6. Spread filling between layers and on top of cake. In a small saucepan, melt shortening and 3 ounces of chocolate. Stir until smooth and drizzle down the sides of the cake.

Do you say pee-can or pe-con?

Enjoy the “Foodie Tuesday” series on Inside Journeys



Oct 052013

Gingerbread Houses for Christmas are very popular, so why not a Halloween decorated house.
Halloween decorated Cookie HouseI couldn’t find gingerbread cookie dough, so I bought two packages of Snickerdoodle refrigerated dough.  The cinnamon coating gives it that brown, haunted house color.Halloween Decorated Cookie House grandkids

I  downloaded templates from “the Organized Home” blog and then laminated them to keep for future house making.

The dough was rolled out to a 1/4″ thickness and then used the templates to cut out the house pieces.

After transferring them to the cookie sheets, they were baked at 325 degrees.  To make sure they were extra dry, I left them in the oven for another 15 minutes.

While still warm, I again trimmed the pieces to the exact size of the templates.Halloween decorated cookie house finished

Since we don’t plan on eating this house, I glued it with my handy glue gun.  I still remember the mess we made trying to put a house kit together with frosting.  What a fiasco!

Halloween cookie house grandkids

Parchment paper was taped over the cardboard base and the boys spread colored frosting for grass and a pathway.

The giggles started when they decided where to place the ghosts, candy corn, pumpkins, sprinkles, m & m’s, gum drops, etc. to decorate the house.

Mini triscuits make great shingles, shutters and a chimney with a ghost peeking out.  Those huge smiles may have been partly from a sugar high, brought on by multiple taste testing during the decorating.  Is that why candy decorated houses are such a popular activity?

Sep 242013

My grandsons are becoming great cooks and always eager to try making something new.
Cake in a Mug ingredientsGrowing boys are hungry boys, when they come home from school.Cake in a Mug microwave

Upon finding cakes on Pinterest that are baked in the microwave instead of the oven, I knew they could make these safely on their own.

What’s neat about a dessert called “Cake in a Mug” is, they won’t leave a big mess in mommy’s kitchen.

All the ingredients are added and stirred into a mug and only take one minute to bake.Cake in a Mug grandson

Other than the grandson’s favorite chocolate fudge, any flavor of cake mix can be used.

Add ready made frosting or whipped cream and some tummies are happy.

The boys love to twist open an Oreo cookie and they sure make funny owl eyes.Cake in a Mug Owl Cake

They used the unfrosted cookie half to make mustaches, eyebrows or smiley mouths.

All that’s needed now, is M & M’s for the eyes and nose.  Candy Corn makes cute noses too.

They can no longer say “there’s nothing to eat,” when their tummies need an after school snack.  They now know how to make a one minute cake with no mess and no burned fingers.


4.5 from 2 reviews
Cake in a Mug
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 1
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A microwaved one minute cake baked in a mug.
  • 1 box Angel Food Cake Mix
  • 1 box Cake Mix (any flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  1. In a zip-lock bag, add the two cake mixes and mix well.
  2. Take out 3 tablespoons of the cake mix combination and mix it with 2 tablespoons of water in a small microwave-safe mug.
  3. Microwave on high for 1 minute.
Cooking spray can be added to the mug for easy removable of cake.
One cake mix MUST be Angel Food, because it has the egg whites in it.
Top with a dollop of fruit, frosting or whipped topping.

For more great food ideas, check out the blog and pins on

Sep 162013

Cherry Peach Crisp RecipeHave you ever wondered what happens when you mix peaches and bing cherries together?  It becomes a purplish, peachy combo.

I didn’t have enough of either fruit to make a dessert.  So, I combined what I had and the mixture came out delicious and pretty!

This is an old family recipe that will never be the same again.  What recipe did you dare to change that turned out better or worse.

Check out what others are eating at FoodieTuesday.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Peach 'n Cherry Crisp
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A fruit dessert that's compatible with any combination of fresh or frozen fruit
  • 4 cups sliced fruit (apples, peach, cherry)
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ⅓ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar (white or brown)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup walnuts (optional)
  1. Place fruit in an 8 x 8 inch pan. Mix together the remaining ingredients with a pastry blender or fork. Pack on top of fruit. Bake 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until the fruit is done.

Aug 262013

I found a rhubarb recipe, that I couldn’t resist trying.  But first, I couldn’t resist tweaking the Rhubarb Crisp Reciperecipe to the point of not even resembling the original version.

If you aren’t crazy about the tartness of rhubarb, you’ll love this sweeter combination of apples, strawberries, and of course the rhubarb.  Please share your favorite rhubarb recipe.


Rhubarb Crumb Torte
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
  • 2 ready made pie crusts
  • 5 cups rhubarb
  • 1 peeled and finely chopped apple
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries or 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ⅓ cup shortening or margarine
  1. Preheat oven at 400 degrees.
  2. Spread the 2 ready made pie crusts into a 9 x 13 inch pan. With a fork, poke holes in crust and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  4. For the filling, in a large bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cinnamon. Add the rhubarb, apple, and strawberries or blueberries and the water. Mix and place into pan over the baked crust. Dot with butter.
  5. For the crumb topping, using the same bowl, mix together the flour, oats and salt; stir in sugar and spices. Cut in shortening until mixture is crumbly. Spread crumb topping over filling and cover the crust edges so the crust doesn't burn.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes or until fruit is tender.

Aug 232013

Anniversary celebrations with my best friend and husband of 50+ years, become more special as the years go by.
Flaming Cinnamon Drink finished La Caille Flaming Drink Flaming Cinnamon Drink Flaming Drink Flaming Drink Taste Test What better way to make it memorable, than on this patio of a beautiful French restaurant.

The La Caille is in a fantasy garden setting located in Sandy, Utah.  There are graceful swans and peacocks roaming through the floral gardens.

After dinner, we ordered a rather spectacular cocktail.

To make this special drink, you need one very brave drink mixer with a winning smile!

He coated the glass with liquid sugar and added a shot of brandy.

With a flourish, he generously coated the sugared glass with freshly grated cinnamon.

The glass with cinnamon and brandy became quite flammable, luckily his sleeve wasn’t.

Please do not attempt this trick at home or anywhere else, for that matter.

While the glass was still flaming, he added some other liquors to the mixture.

After looking greatly relieved to complete this drink, he now had to repeat this amazing feat again for the second drink.

How were our drinks and dinner?  The meal tasted fantastic and the staff made it even more memorable.

Not surprisingly, we’ve never found anyone that will attempt to replicate this special drink for us again.

It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do in life, it’s who you have beside you that counts.

Happy anniversary my love, we know the best is yet to come.

Please share a comment about your most memorable dinner or anniversary experience, I’m looking forward to hearing about yours too.

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