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Check out my science fiction series - The Fall of the Altairan Empire

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thursday Recipe - Lemon Bars

Not the gluten-free version. That recipe is here.

These are one of my favorites but I don't make them very often for a couple of reasons. My husband doesn't like them and the white flour crust is too much simple starch on top of the sugary filling. So I changed up the recipe to make it a little healthier and a little easier on the blood sugar.

Lemon Bars

3/4 c. white flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened

1 1/2 c. sugar
4 large eggs
6 T. lemon juice
1 T. white flour
1 t. baking powder
dash salt

Mix crust ingredients together until it resembles fine crumbs. Spread the crumbs in a lightly greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes, until crust is very lightly browned.

Meanwhile, beat filling ingredients together until thick and smooth. Set aside while the crust bakes.

When the crust is done, pour the filling over the hot crust and bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes, until filling is set and lightly browned. Let cool before serving.

Makes 24-28 bars depending on how you cut them.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Here's to the Veterans

Memorial Day has become a day to have a picnic and enjoy a day off work. For me, it should be more than that. It's a day to remember those who have gone before us and made our lives possible.

Today, I'd like to honor veterans. My brother-in-law served in the military for a while. I have several friends that are also veterans.

I have a neighbor who is very special to our family. He served in the military most of his life, starting just after WWII. He serves in the Boy Scouts now. When I think of someone with honor and integrity, he is the perfect example. He's like an adopted grandpa to all the neighborhood kids. His wife is also one of my heroes. She's stood by his side all these years. We love them both.

So in honor of them and all the other veterans out there, enjoy some patriotic music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, courtesy of YouTube.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thursday Recipe - GF Lemon Bars

Whoops, a day late. But life has been that way this week.

Messing around this week with recipes, when I wasn't scrambling to keep up with life, I made these for my daughter. She loved them. The secret is to get the gluten-free pie crust and use that. This makes an 8x8 pan of about 16 bars, depending on how you cut them.

Gluten-Free Lemon Bars

1/4 package Pillsbury gluten-free pie crust
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 eggs
1 T. gluten-free baking mix (or use 1 T. of the pie crust)
1/2 t. baking powder
dash salt

Lightly spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray. Crumble pie crust into pan, pat into a smooth crust. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes, just until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, beat sugar, lemon juice, eggs, baking mix, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl until thick and smooth. Set aside.

When crust is done, pour filling over hot crust. Bake at 350° for another 20-25 minutes, until filling is set and top is very lightly browned. Let cool before serving.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Walking the High Wire

Life is a balancing act. I'm trying to juggle a lot of things right now - family, work, school, writing, house cleaning, cooking, yard work, laundry, organizing and dejunking, and a few hobbies. Just writing that list makes me tired.

I wish I had a magic solution to offer that guarantees everything will work out and everyone will always be happy and everything will always be perfect, but that isn't how life works. It's messy and crazy. Sometimes there are tears and sharp words. Sometimes it's happy and everything goes smoothly, but those times are rare.

The best advice I've found is to live in the moment, but with one eye on the future and one eye on the past. Learn from your mistakes, then  move on. Believe you can be a better person tomorrow than you were today, then act on that belief and make it true. If you mess up, pick up the pieces and keep going forward. Don't hang on to anger or hurt, it only leads to bitterness and turns you into a sour person.

Now to put into action what I just stated. I'm far from perfect, but I'm trying.

What advice would you add?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thursday Recipe - Cream Cheese Pound Cake

This came out of one of those old cookbooks I own. I lightened it up and cut the sugar. My kids said it was one of the best cakes I've made in ages. It was easy, too.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

2/3 c. butter
1/4 c. oil
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 8 oz. package low-fat cream cheese or neufchatel cream cheese
2 1/2 c. white flour
6 eggs (use 7 if they are medium or small)
1 t. vanilla

Grease and flour a bundt pan. Set aside. Heat oven to 325°.

Cream butter and oil together until fluffy. Add sugar. Cream until well mixed. Add cream cheese. Beat together until very light and fluffy, at least 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat for another 3-4 minutes, until eggs are incorporated and the whole mixture is very light and creamy. Stir in flour just until well mixed.

Pour batter into bundt pan. Bake for 70-75 minutes until a *toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a plate.

We served this with berries and whipped cream. It was delicious and completely disappeared.

*If you have never used the toothpick method, here's what you do:
Stab a toothpick into the center of the cake. Pull it out. If you have wet lumps sticking to it, the cake needs another 5 minutes or so of baking time. If the toothpick comes out with no batter or crumbs on it, or just a couple of very small crumbles, the cake is done. You can also use a butter knife or chopstick to test this way.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Drumroll, please!

I've got an exciting announcement. I have a story in an upcoming Baen anthology! Check out the names on the table of contents:

It's listed to come out in October. 

Now back to my projects:
- working on three different fantasy series
- writing my thesis
- analyzing data for my thesis
- working on a top secret project
- pretending to do housework when it gets bad enough that the dust bunnies start attacking


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thursday Recipe - Hot Dog Casserole

This is a take on a dish my neighbor brought over years ago. Just don't do what my son did and use hot dogs that have been sitting out for two days. He's in the bathroom dealing with the consequences of that bad decision. He's three days shy of turning 18 so he's plenty old enough to know better.

Hot Dog Casserole

1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. flour
3 c. milk
2 c. shredded monterey jack cheese
1 4 oz. can chopped green chilies
salt and pepper to taste
12 oz. box macaroni, cooked and drained
12 oz package of hot dogs, sliced

Melt butter in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir in flour. Cook until bubbly. Slowly stir in milk. Continue to stir and cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese and green chilies. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with macaroni and hot dog slices. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes until very hot and bubbly.

Serve with a salad and cookies for a fast easy dinner. You can make the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate for up to three days before baking.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Graduation Season

We spent the day at Snow College. My son, my other son, and my other son's wife all got their Associate's degrees. Congrats to them. I'm proud of what they've accomplished so far. I have another son graduating high school the end of the month. 'Tis the season.

My graduation will (hopefully) happen in December. I've got data collection almost finished for my project. Now I just have to analyze it and write up the thesis explaining what it all means.

So here's a cat riding a unicorn for you: