Tuesday, December 28, 2010


We were so blessed to spend Thanksgiving with my Dad's side of the family in Utah this year! Thank you, thank you, thank you to my cousin Scotty for making that happen for us. We had the best time and made priceless memories for me and my children. Unfortunately Bobby was on call that weekend so he wasn't able to join us. I was grateful that he was kind enough to let us abandon him on Thanksgiving! Thankfully my friend Morgan brought him a plate of food since he was in a case when most people were carving their turkeys!

We flew in to Utah in the middle of a blizzard and we flew out in the middle of a very snowy day! I was nervous enough to travel with two little girls and a baby already, so when the pilot came on and said that he might have to land the plane in Grand Junction, CO at 11 PM central time, I just about lost it. I prayed for twenty minutes straight that we would be able to land in SLC. And we did!! During that time they were just circling waiting for clearance to land the plane. I had the kindest lady on my plane who helped me entertain Claire and talked to me the whole flight. I don't know what I would have done without her!!

When the plane was landing, I texted my Dad to let him know we made it okay. I figured he had stayed in Provo with the weather so bad and the girls and I were just planning to stay in a hotel. But he and Grant drove up in the horrible weather so he would be there to help me with the girls and drive back to my Grandma's with me in our rental car! I was so grateful! The girls were so happy to see their Grandpa. We were all exhausted when we got home, but not too exhausted to give my Grandma and Grandpa lots of hugs and kisses.

We spent the next day hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa. My grandma made one of her delicious breakfasts. She is such a good cook. Then Maggie had us over for a second breakfast. It was really good! It was fun to see her cute apartment. We spent a few hours hanging out there. The girls got to watch Despicable Me with their Uncle Ryan. They loved that movie and Franny ended up getting it for Christmas. We ran a few errands, picked up a few ingredients for raspberry pretzel jello: a Thanksgiving must! In the afternoon, my aunt Dori invited Franny and Sophie to come over and play with her kids Kallie, Brianna, and Jed. They had a blast and they've been talking about them ever since!

We also got to spend a few hours that afternoon visiting with our friends (and family) Brendon and Stephanie! It was great to see them and their son Henry again. We have missed them since they left!!!

Henry is like Claire's "brother from another mother". And I love that picture of Annie!

We picked the girls up and drove back up to SLC to see our friends the Linfords. My parents met the Linfords back in Orem when I was a baby. My favorite family vacations when I was a kid was when we would all load up in the car and drive up to see Liz and Leslie Linford. We would always argue over which was a better place to live: Utah or California. I said Utah- they said California. I love hanging out with their family so much- it was just like old times, only now most of the kids are married and have kids of their own. We had a great time with them.

We drove home and got up early the next morning for strawberry waffles! A Warner family holiday tradition. My uncle Kevin hosted us all and it was so much fun to do what we always did every Thanksgiving and Christmas morning when my uncle lived around the corner and my Grandma lived down the street. At one point my kids and their second cousins were getting pretty loud playing upstairs and my cousin Scotty actually called out, "Do you think you kids could keep it down?" Hilarious! Wasn't it just us running around causing a ruckus in my grandmother's house on Whitecap Lane? I guess not, but it sure feels like it!

Then we came back home and I got to do something I will always remember: help my Grandma prepare Thanksgiving dinner. She's been doing it the same way it's been done in our family since she was a girl. It was really a neat thing to be a part of. I asked her what I could do to help and she said, "You can do the rolls, but you'll have to use my recipe." I love my grandma so much. It was so fun to be there at her side, preparing food and talking. It was wonderful to watch Franny and Sophie helping her and my aunt JoAnn set the tables and put out the centerpieces. I think Franny and Sophie really enjoyed it to. The food tasted wonderful and it was so nice to be with my Dad's family. I love them all so much.

That night Julia, Annie and I were going to go to Old Navy for a Black Friday at midnight. I told Julia and Annie that I was going to take a one hour nap before we went. When I woke up, Annie told me Julia was asleep and that if I woke up and wanted to go then we should wake her up. Turns out we both needed someone who really wanted to go to get us out the door. So I stayed up with Annie for an hour or so and then we just went to bed. Annie was in one of her rare hyper moods and I always like to see her like that. We never did make it to Old Navy, but we did hit Target and the University Mall the next day. Utah County is a weird place to come back to after you've been away for a while. I couldn't get over how well-dressed everyone was. How stylish and polished everyone looks. It was actually kind of weird. I was explaining all this to Bobby on the way home from the airport after we made a pit-stop in Cameron, Missouri. I told him that I got out of the car, picked my wedgie, and thought: "It's good to be home."

When we were finished shopping, it was time for Julia and her crew, and my Dad and Annie to fly back home. They needed to get back to California for my cousin Vanessa's wedding (which was incredibly gorgeous- wish I could have been there!) I was so sad to see them go. It was so good to be with them. I am so grateful we got to be there together for Thanksgiving. That afternoon my Grandma and I went to see my cousin Scotty's new home. (They just moved in that week). The girls had fun playing with their second cousins Chase and Tessa. They were especially impressed with the home theater in my cousin's house and asked me, "Mommy when can we get one of those?" I always enjoy talking to my cousin's wife Mickell and I wish I could see her more! She is so great!

That night my grandparents and I played Sequence together after the kids went to bed. Another great memory- even though I kept falling asleep. Turns out traveling alone with three kids is extremely tiring.

Saturday was my grandma's birthday! I got to make her breakfast and go out to lunch with her. My sister Maggie came with us and spent the whole day with us. We went to Hobby Lobby to pick out fabric for headbands and then we went to a cupcake shops so I could buy her a birthday cupcake. When I went to pay for it, she said, "Oh I don't want you paying for my cupcake! You're a poor doctor's wife!" I thought that was really funny. Bobby's mom was in town dropping my niece off at BYU- she had spent the holiday with Louise in Idaho. So we got to see my mother-in-law and my cute niece Lauren! They met us at Hobby Lobby and then came with us to the cupcake shop. I was so glad I got to see them! It was great to spend the day with my sister Maggie and to spend some time with her husband Ryan. They are great together and I got to watch them hold baby Claire. I love my family so much! It was such a blessing to be together and my staying an extra couple of days meant more time with Maggie. It's such a neat time in her life because she just got married and I felt so blessed to be able to catch a glimpse of her as a newlywed.

Saturday night my Aunt Dori and her crew came over to see Grandma on her birthday. The kids played all night and had a good time. Franny came up to me and asked me where her Jessie doll was? My first thought was, "Oh no, she left it at one of the stores we were at today!" Which totally irritated me because we were leaving the next morning to fly home! I should mention that this stupid doll cost $35 dollars because she talks. Franny spent her own allowance money on it and she loves her. Well, Franny was starting to feel really bad. She wasn't sure whether she left it somewhere or if it was in the house. I was making phone calls and so was Maggie, checking with all the shops and restaurants we had been in that day. I hate to admit it, but I was pretty frustrated and not very sympathetic to Franny. It was my aunt JoAnn who suggested we have Franny say a prayer. I thought it was a good idea, so I pulled Franny aside and I asked her to ask Heavenly Father to help her find her Jessie. Poor kid could barely get out the words! She was crying so hard. I could tell she felt bad about losing the doll, but also about disappointing me! It's hard for me to understand how much it matters to her what I think! It shouldn't be, considering I've always been the same way with my own mother. We put Franny to bed and Maggie said she'd go to the stores and check herself the next day. (I was very touched by how concerned Maggie was with all this, I have to say.) An hour or so after Franny fell asleep, JoAnn was in my grandmother's room where the kids had been playing for only a few minutes and she found the doll was tucked away in a magazine rack on the far side of my Grandpa's easy chair! I had already checked the room before! I was so happy for Franny that her prayer was answered!! So was everyone else! Franny woke up before me in the morning and came in and woke me up and said, "Mom! I found Jessie!!" I told her that aunt JoAnn found her because she had prayed for help. Then I told her that she should say thank you to Heavenly Father. She said, "Okay! Thank you Heavenly Father!" It was so cute. I sent her off to her room so she could say a prayer and do it the right way. What a great experience for her to have so young! It made me realize that I even though I think of that doll as a stupid purchase, it is something that matters a lot to Franny. I was glad I had my family members there to remind me that you're never too young to ask the Lord for help!

The next morning we got up and finished packing everything for our trip. My grandma went out to the garage and when she came back in she told me she had scraped the snow off my car and cleared a path up the driveway for us to walk on! I couldn't believe it! I never would have let her if I knew that was what she was planning! I love her so much. (Grandpa was feeling sick and had gone to get some medicine.) I was sad to go, but we were missing Bobby so I was glad to be getting home, too.

My wonderful Aunt JoAnn met me at the airport in SLC to help me get on the plane. She is so amazing. I loved sitting with her and talking about her new promotion and the work she does. She took Sophie and Franny to the bathroom while I nursed Claire and the girls came back with a new book and a couple of sodas, including a diet coke for me. The airport was dead quiet, but we decided to head up to security anyway. I was blown away by the security line. It was so long! But luckily Jo was there, because she spotted a sign at the front that said "Families and special assistance" so we got through in no time. She stood and watched us get through security. It was something my mom would do. It felt really good. I love my aunt Jo! The flight was pretty good- although we were delayed because of the snow for an hour and a half or more. But we got in at about 7:30. Jill picked us up at the airport in my car - she had dropped us off on our way out and it made all the difference in our travels not having to mess with the shuttle - and brought us back to her house so we could drop her off. Thank you so much Jill!

Then we made the three hour drive home to our husband and Daddy, who was patiently awaiting our arrival with a new Christmas tree waiting to be decorated the next night. The girls were so happy to see their Dad! And so was I. He's pretty nice to come home to.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I made this cake for a Christmas party the other night and it was a big hit. This is the kind of thing I love to make for Christmas parties. Decadent and rich- the perfect kind of thing to serve to a lot of people, so everyone gets a little slice of paradise. (Confidence.) Actually, I was pretty relieved when people liked it. It was a new recipe and the frosting was a ganache and really hard to work with. Next time I will definitely use this recipe instead. I wasn't sure how good it would taste or if the cake was going to be moist enough so I didn't bother taking a picture of it before it was cut into pieces. But then I looked and there was only a couple pieces left so I hurried and took this super crappy picture. I was glad for the almonds on the side and it was my friend Marie who suggested piping whipped cream on top to cover some of the unsightly blemishes on the top of the cake. (And the whipped cream was a nice addition to the cake anyway.) It actually looked really pretty covered with all those almonds and whipped cream. So if you want to impress your friends, bring this to your next holiday party! Oh, and as for the fleur de sel- I had some sea salt in my cupboard, but I completely forgot to add that to the caramel layers. I did add a large pinch of it to the caramel, though.

Chocolate Cake with Fleur de Sel Caramel Filling



  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Large pinch of fine fleur de sel* plus additional for assembly


  • 1 1/2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee
  • 1 1/4 cups almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped



  • Stir sugar, 1/4 cup water, and corn syrup in deep medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium; cover pan and cook 4 minutes. Uncover; increase heat to high. Boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, occasionally brushing down pan sides with wet pastry brush, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Whisk in butter, then crème fraîche, lemon juice, and pinch of fleur de sel. Cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.


  • Place chocolate in large bowl. Bring cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Pour cream over chocolate; let soften 1 minute. Whisk until chocolate is smooth. Cool, then cover and chill overnight. DO AHEAD Ganache can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before using.


  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of each with parchment paper; butter paper and dust pan with flour.
  • Sift sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl. Add milk, eggs, and melted butter. Using electric mixer, beat at low speed until blended. Increase speed and beat 2 minutes. Stir 1 cup hot water and espresso powder in small bowl to dissolve. Add to batter; beat until blended (batter will be thin). Divide batter between pans (about 3 cups each).
  • Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 32 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 10 minutes. Cut around cakes; turn out onto racks. Peel off parchment and cool completely.
  • Using long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place 1 layer on platter; spread with 1/2 cup room-temperature ganache. Spoon 3/4 cup ganache into pastry bag fitted with 1/4-inch plain round tip. Pipe ring of ganache around edge of layer. Spread 1/4 cup room-temperature caramel filling evenly inside ring. Sprinkle caramel with large pinch of fleur de sel, then 1 tablespoon almonds. Top with second cake layer, ganache, ganache ring, caramel filling, fleur de sel, and almonds. Repeat with third cake layer. Top with fourth cake layer, cut side down. Spread remaining ganache over top and sides of cake. Press remaining almonds onto sides. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and chill. Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour.
  • *A type of sea salt; available at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tortellini with Italian Sausage, Fennel, and Mushrooms


I am tired of most of my recipes. This happens every now and then. So I've been searching for new ones and I have been having great luck on bonappetit.com. This recipe was a big hit with my family, which was shocking because I have a few mushroom-haters. But they are surprisingly easy to pick around with the tortellinis and crumbled sausage. Although, while I was preparing this last night it occurred to me that this is not the most affordable meal when you consider the tortellinis (I used the three cheese variety), sausage, fennel, and mushrooms. Especially if you don't have fennel seeds on hand. But I definitely thought it was worth it. We'll be having this again for sure.

Tortellini with Italian Sausage, Fennel, and Mushrooms


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, halved through core, thinly sliced lengthwise (about 3 cups), fronds chopped
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausages, casings removed, sausage coarsely crumbled
  • 1 8-ounce package sliced fresh crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
  • 4 large garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 16-ounce package dried tortellini with pesto filling or fresh tortellini with 3-cheese filling
  • 1 5-ounce package fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional (for serving)
  • Test-Kitchen Tip

    To crush the fennel seeds, enclose the seeds in a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag, then pound them with a meat mallet or a small heavy skillet.


  • Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel bulb, sausage, and mushrooms; sauté until sausage is brown and cooked through and fennel is almost tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Add garlic and fennel seeds; stir 1 minute. Stir in cream, then 1 cup broth; boil until liquid is reduced and very slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook tortellini in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain tortellini; return to same pot.
  • Add sausage mixture to tortellini in pot. Toss over medium heat until blended. Add spinach; toss gently until spinach wilts. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese; add more broth by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten if dry. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds, and serve, passing additional cheese.

Poor Claire didn't get to have any. But she seemed pretty happy with her carrots.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Soap-a-doap's 4th birthday!

Sophie turned four! I can't believe it. She has grown up so much this year. She told me a few times that she's ready to start 3rd grade! She doesn't want to bother with the other grades I guess. She's so smart and so beautiful. She and I have a lot of fun together at home and it's hard for me to imagine sending her to Kindergarten next year! But there will be no holding this child back. She is actually spelling words and even doing some simple reading. The other day we were in the kitchen and she asked, "Mom, what happens if you don't go to college?" She and I have talked some about going away to college and I can tell she thinks about it a fair amount. I thought it would be fun to walk around on my old college campus when we were in Utah a couple of weeks ago and so close to BYU. It was way too cold so we drove around it instead. The girls didn't seem too interested as I pointed out the building I had all my classes in, or the bridge you walk on to get to the Marriott Center, but now I think Sophie was listening and taking it all in. She loves to help take care of Claire and other little kids when we're around them. She also has a baby doll named Leela who is practically part of the family. Last night she said, "Mom, you're the best mom ever because you bought this outfit for Leela." I thought to myself, "Sweet! That's all it takes?" She has a great sense of humor and is always trying to make us laugh. Especially during dinner when I'm trying to get her to eat!


We had Sophie's birthday party at a hair salon here in our home town. Our friend Lydia did this for her birthday and we thought it was a hoot! She was so excited about it and has been talking about it ever since. The girls come in and one of the hair academy students does their hair up, then paints their nails, then puts a little bit of makeup on. It was so fun to watch the little girls excitement as they got all dolled up! I made cupcakes for the girls and tried to make them look like the Pinkalicious cupcakes from the book. I loved the way they turned out.

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