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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Recipes From the Temple

Every third Friday at 10:00 am, the Billings East Stake sisters meet at the temple and go to a session together. Following the session, we gather in the cafeteria and eat a light luncheon and enjoy each other's company. The Tuesday following that Friday, we gather for the 6:20 pm session, and have refreshments in the cafeteria afterwards. It is wonderful to gather as sisters and enjoy both the spirit of the temple as well as our friendships. If you haven't had a chance to join us yet, please do! I always go home feeling so uplifted, both by the time serving in the temple, as well as the time to enjoy the wonderful sisters of our stake.

We've had a few request for some of the recipes from our luncheon. The first one I found on the internet, but I'm sorry to say I don't remember where.

White Chili
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 cubes
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
Cook in 1 Tablespoon of oil until the chicken is no longer pink. Add:
2 (16 oz cans) cans Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can chicken broth
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilis, or 2 cans if you like spicier chili
1 teaspoon each salt, cumin, and oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Bring to a boil, uncover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup whip cream. Serve with torilla chips.

This next recipe is from my niece, Rachael. It isn't a "good for you" recipe, but it is really good!

Nanaimo Bars

Bottom layer:
Melt 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 5 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa in the top of a double boiler. Add 1 large beaten egg, stirring and cooking until thickened. Remove from heat, stir in 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds, and 1 cup coconut. Press firmly into the bottom of a 8 x 8 inch pan.

Middle layer: Cream 1/2 cup unsweetened butter, 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons heavy cream, 2 Tablespoons Byrd's custard mix (or substitute 2 T vanilla pudding), and 2 cups confectioner's sugar. Beat until light in color. Spread over bottom layer in pan.

Top layer: Melt 4 oz semi sweet chocolate with 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter. Cool, spread over bars and chill.

These bars freeze well.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tropical Cheesecake

Recently, my extended family had a Big Fat Loser contest. 25 of us joined up and paid $10 each - biggest loser take all! To make it a little more exciting, we did weekly challenges this time as a chance to earn bonus points. One challenge was to make a delicious AND low-fat cheesecake. My cheesecake came in 4th place. I shared it with a few sisters in my ward at a midweek Relief Society meeting, and they all thought it was delicious. I've been promising the recipe to them ever since, so here it is: A low-fat AND delicious cheesecake recipe.

What really makes this cheesecake special is the tropical fruit topping, with it's tangy and zesty flavors of fresh lime juice and fresh ginger.


1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup Splenda brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup melted Smart Balance spread
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted

In a small glass bowl, melt Smart Balance and chocolate together in microwave on high for one minute. Let that sit for a few minutes until completely melted. Meanwhile, crush graham crackers and combine with Splenda and nutmeg in a small bowl. When chocolate is melted, stir into dry ingredients. Press mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch springform pan. Place springform pan in freezer while you mix cheesecake filling.

Crust Variation: Use sugarfree gingersnaps instead of graham crackers.


2 8-ounce packages of reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup part-skim ricotta
1-1/4 cups Splenda
3 egg yolks
1 cup plain yogurt
3 T all purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 egg whites

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with a wooden spoon until it is smooth and creamy. Slowly beat in the ricotta, then the egg yolks one by one. Continue to beat until thoroughly blended in. Beat in the Splenda. Add the yogurt, flour, and vanilla, stirring thoroughly after each addition. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until they form stiff peaks. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture. Pour the filling into the lightly chilled pie shell and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Turn off oven and let the cheesecake sit in the oven with the door open for 15 minutes. Remove and let chill. Refrigerate for several hours to let it completely set up. Remove sides of pan before serving.

  • Mix ingredients in the order shown above. Splenda behaves very differently than sugar and you must not blend it into the cream cheese before you loosen the mixture by adding the ricotta and egg yolks. An experienced cook might think that the plain yogurt will add too much moisture to the cheesecake, but since Splenda adds no moisture (like sugar does), the yogurt is required to keep the cheesecake soft and smooth.
  • Use a wooden spoon instead of an electric mixer. If you incorporate too much air into the cheesecake filling, it will fall in the center as it cools.
  • Run a knife around the edge of the pan after baking to separate the cheesecake from the pan. This will prevent huge cracks from forming in the top of the cheesecake as it contracts and cools.

Ginger-Lime Pina Colada Topping:

1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple in unsweetened juice
1 cup coconut milk
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger root
1/2 cup Splenda
1/3 cup cornstarch

Combine Splenda, cornstarch, coconut milk and pineapple (with juice) in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until thickened. Peel ginger and grate with a microplane grater. Add ginger, lime zest and lime juice to the pineapple sauce.


  • The sauce may seem to be too thick at first, but when you add the fresh lime juice and grated ginger, it will thin down nicely.
  • Try adding freshly grated coconut to the sauce.

My niece teaches at a high school in rural Idaho. She asked the cooking teacher to having her class make all the cheesecakes, evaluate the nutritional content, and rate them on taste. Here are the nutrition facts for my cheesecake:

Nutrition facts:

Serving size 180 g
Calories 376 (regular cheesecake 578)
Calories from fat 144 (regular cheesecake 356)
Total Fat 15.9 g (regular cheesecake 39.6)
Saturated Fat 9.7 g (regular cheesecake 18)
Cholesterol 69 mg (regular cheesecake 99)
Sodium 296 mg (regular cheesecake 372)
Protein 8.8 g (regular cheesecake 9)

Okay, so it still has a lot of fat, but significantly less than regular cheesecake. Moderation is the key. :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hearts and Hands Wrap-up, 2010

Sister Julie Beck said: "Relief Society has always been engaged in providing relief to others."
Hearts and Hands gives us an opportunity to provide relief to those in our community.

We are so grateful for all our sisters who contributed to Hearts and Hands this year, whether in the form of support of time, money, or donations.

In these difficult economic times, we are amazed with the generosity of the sisters of the Billings and the Billings East stake.

If you were not able to attend this year, we look forward to seeing you next year, when Hearts and Hands will take place in our Stake center.

Many of our sisters made quilts, including pieced and hand quilted, for donation. All of the wards and branches were represented by generous donations of time and effort and materials.
We are always short of twin size quilts, and if you are so inclined, we encourage you to begin making a twin size quilt for Hearts and Hands 2011.

We are always touched by the gratitude of those receiving our donations, and hope to be able to share some of those expressions of thankfulness with you this year.

We wanted to share with you the total donation amounts:
clothing protectors 126
layettes 18
friendship bags 155
school kits 180+
Teen bags 144
hygiene kits 720
hooded towels 100
baby quilts 180
lap quilts 110
twin quilts 112
total quilts 402
We neglected to get a count of the fleece blankets--we'll do better next year. We had 40 backpacks left over (yeah! a good start for next year)
and we were about 80 twin size quilts short of those requested.

Do you have suggestions to make Hearts and Hands be better? Please feel free to comment.
See you next year!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sweet Potato Salad

This salad is a surprising, healthy, and delicious twist on an old summertime favorite. The sweet potatoes add a hint of sweetness that goes very well with the savory ingredients of a traditional potato salad.


2 medium sweet potatoes

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/2 medium onion

1/2 bell pepper

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley

2 stalks cellery

4 hard boiled eggs

2 large dollops of reduced-fat mayonaise




Peel sweet potatoes.

Cut in half, then cut into long "french fry" sticks

Then cut into cubes.

Placed diced sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan. Just cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook until fork tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop onion.

When sweet potatoes are tender, place in large bowl. While they are still hot, sprinkle with vinegar. Toss to coat all pieces. Stir in onion. Let this sit while you chop the remaining ingredients. (Adding the onion and vinegar to the potatoes while they are still hot infuses them with flavor. It will make the difference between an okay potato salad and a fabulous potato salad.)

Finely dice the bell pepper.

Chop the parsley.

Dice the celery. I like to cut my stalks vertically down the center to make them skinnier before I cut them into small pieces.

Roughly chop the hard boiled eggs.

Place all the choped ingredients on top of the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. (Remember the mayo will add salt, too, so go easy at first.) Put on two large spoonfuls of mayo. Stir it all together and refrigerate until chilled.

Health Tip: If you're taking potato salad to a BBQ, take a large bowl full of ice. Then set the bowl of potato salad on top of the bowl of ice on the serving table. Egg and mayonaise dishes can turn deadly if left unchilled.

Variation Tips: Have fun with this recipe and experiment with the ingredients. This is exactly the same recipe I use for white potato salad. If you want to add some of your favorite ingredients, try adding a little bit to a small spoonful of your sweet potato salad and taste it before adding it to the main bowl. This way you'll avoid nasty surprises. I learned this lesson the hard way when I tried adding garlic stuffed green olives to my sweet potato salad recipe. It was pretty awful.