Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Four Layer Chocolate Cream Pie

One of my favorite desserts is this 4 Layer Chocolate Cream Pie! My roommate, Tristan, taught me how to make it years ago and I've loved it ever since. I'm making this for Thanksgiving tomorrow and I already know my family loves it 'cause I've made it for them a lot! Here's the recipe:

4 Layer Chocolate Cream Pie -

1 stick of butter (not softened)
1 cup flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 large container cool whip (16 oz.)
1 large package chocolate instant pudding (5.9 oz.)
1 milk chocolate candy bar (grated for decoration on top) - optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter, flour, and sugar with a fork until crumbly. Press into a greased 9" x 13" pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool. With a hand mixer mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, and half of the Cool Whip container. (Save the rest for the top layer). Spread evenly over cooled crust. Put in fridge for 5-10 minutes. Mix pudding as directed and pour on top of the cream cheese layer. Place in refrigerator until pudding sets. Top with a layer of Cool Whip. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings.

*You can make this recipe a bit easier by using a store bought chocolate or Oreo crust instead of making a homemade one. If you decide to do that this recipe would make two pies of that size.

Here are the step by step instructions with pictures: (Scroll to the end for a video tutorial)

In a medium size bowl, cut up your cold butter into small chunks.
 Add 1 cup flour
 And 1 tablespoon of sugar. Combine butter, flour, sugar with a fork until crumbly. Be patient, this takes a few minutes.
Press the flour and butter mixture into a greased 9" x 13" pan. It will still be quite crumbly until it bakes and the butter melts. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Here's what it looks like after it's baked. Let cool. You can place it in the fridge if you're in a hurry.
 While the crust cools mix the softened 8 oz. cream cheese with a hand mixer until smooth.
 Then add 1 cup of powdered sugar and combine.
 Next, add half of the container of Cool Whip and mix together until well blended.
 Here's how it'll look.
 Spread the cream cheese/Cool Whip mixture evenly over the cooled crust.
 Prepare your Jell-O pudding as directed on the box.
 You just add 3 cups of cold milk to the chocolate powder and whisk for 2 minutes.
 Pour the pudding over the cream cheese layer and spread it around until it looks even.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the pudding sets.
 Once the pudding is set you just need to top it with the rest of the Cool Whip. Grate up part of your chocolate bar and sprinkle the shavings on top to make it look good.
Here's the finished dish. You can see the four layers from the side like this.

That's it! It's really quite a simple dessert but it's sure to impress your friends and family!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Homemade Pizza

Here's a simple and fun recipe for homemade pizza. It's easy and doesn't take much time to prepare. My kids love when I make this 'cause they get to be little chefs and make their own personal pizzas!

Homemade Pizza -


1 Tablespoon yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon sugar or honey
1 Tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water
3 cups flour (white or wheat)


1 cup spaghetti sauce (I like Prego traditional)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

Makes 2 medium pizzas or about 6 small personal pizzas.

Add 1 Tbsp. yeast to 1/2 cup water with a dash of sugar and let rise 10-15 minutes.
Your yeast should look something like this.
Transfer yeast mixture to a large bowl and mix in 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1 Tbsp. oil, 1 tsp. salt,   1 cup boiling water, 3 cups flour (I don't usually need all 3 cups). Just throw it all in and mix it together with a spoon. No mixer needed.
 Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 15-20 minutes.
 While your dough is rising make your sauce.
 Mix together 1 cup of your favorite spaghetti sauce and 1 small can tomato sauce. You will have extra sauce so cut this in half if you don't want too much.

 Get your toppings ready. We're pretty boring around here and just like cheese and pepperoni. Add whatever you like: peppers, olives, onions, mushrooms, sausage, etc.
Divide your dough into 6 equal parts (or 2 if you're making big pizzas). Roll them out onto a greased cookie sheet. 
Spread some sauce around and top with cheese and other desired toppings.
 Here's how they'll look before going into the oven.
 Bake at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes until golden and bubbly. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

White Grape Juice/Squirt Drink

This is a drink my aunt Andi taught me how to make. It's very simple and one of my favorites to serve at dinner parties! I'm not sure what to call it. I've always just called it "Andi's Yummy Drink." Whenever I serve this drink people want to have the recipe 'cause it's so good!

Andi's Yummy Drink -

1 two liter bottle of Squirt or Fresca (chilled)
1 can frozen white grape juice concentrate (undiluted)
Lots of ice
*double, triple, or quadruple this recipe for large parties

All you have to do is mix together in a punch bowl or pitcher your bottle of Squirt (or Fresca), the frozen white grape juice concentrate, and some ice. That's it! It's a crowd pleaser for sure. Enjoy!

Banister Makeover

Once you start remodeling and updating a house it starts to make other things in the house look out of date and you end up wanting to redo everything. I didn't mind the banister and balusters on our front stairs at first but once we put in our new wood floors I knew I wanted to at least re-stain or paint the existing banister.

I started looking into how much it would cost to tear out the whole thing and start from scratch with rod iron balusters. I got a few quotes from locate places--one quoted me around $2,000 for materials and installation and another $1,200 just for the materials. That was way more than I wanted to spend so instead I looked at the materials I needed at Home Depot. I decided to buy everything we needed there since it was so much cheaper (the total was around $500 for everything we needed) and hire a handyman to install it.

Felix Ortiz was recommended to me and he was awesome! We called him "Fix-it Felix" since he can do anything--tiling, painting, sheet-rocking, name it! I'd recommend him to anyone. His number is (801) 824-6225 if you live in the Salt Lake area and are looking for help with your house. So in the end we ended up saving well over half the cost of what we were quoted. And I love the finished result! Totally worth it if you ask me.   
Here's how the banister looked before:

 And here's the finished banister:
 I threw some fall garland on them to be festive! It's from Hobby Lobby.

 There's a little section at the top of our stairs that we re-did too.

I think it made all the difference to update the banister! And we did it without spending a fortune.

Sanus TV Wall Mount

While we were decorating our family room my husband and I debated on whether or not to hang our TV on the wall or just let it sit on our TV stand. We decided we wanted it centered in the entertainment center. Luckily we were sent a Sanus - Premium Full Motion TV Wall Mount to try and review and it did not disappoint!
 Here's the wall mount still in the box.
And here it is after my husband mounted it on our wall with our entertainment center around it. He said it was simple to install.
 I love how the TV just looks like it's floating in the air and all the cords are hidden.
The Sanus mount allows you to move your TV side to side, up and down, tilt forward and backwards, and will swivel around. We love it because if we're in the other room and we still want to watch our TV we can angle it any direction we need. We highly recommend the Sanus TV wall mount if you're in the market for one! 
You can get this Sanus TV Wall Mount at Best Buy. Click here for more info.