Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Killer Recipes: Cake Mix Cookies


One package plain Devil’s Food cake mix*
 1/3 cup water
 4 tablespoons melted butter
 1 large egg
 1 bag (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
 1/2 cup walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F
1. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.
2. Put water, cake, melted butter, and egg in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Increase speed to medium and beat for 1 more minute. The cookie dough will be thick. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts.
3. Drop spoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets.
4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes (still a little soft in the center). Let cookies rest on pan for 1 minute. Let them cool for 20 minutes.

*You can use any kind of cake mix. Be creative!
Makes 3 dozen cookies


Killer Recipes: Homemade Pizza Crust

You know that feeling on a lazy Friday night, when you don’t feel like doing anything but watching TV and eating some of your favorite comfort food? I know I do, and while I have many comfort foods I love, pizza has always been a favorite! Ordering a pizza always seems to be the go-to pizza option, but sometimes it’s hard to decide on a certain type of pizza, or adding more pizza toppings makes the pizza more expensive. So, why don’t you just make your own pizza!? You can just buy your favorite toppings from the store, and odds are you will have enough toppings leftover to make at least one or two more pizzas. My husband and I love doing this. It’s quick, easy, and so much fun! I have had a hard time finding a really good pizza crust recipe that gives me the thick crust and crunchy outside crust with the soft inside that I love—until I found this recipe. It’s my favorite pizza crust recipe, and I hope you all enjoy it!

½ tablespoon of active dry yeast

2 ½ cups of flour

1 teaspoon of sugar

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 cup of warm water

1 teaspoon of salt

In a small bowl, combine the warm water, sugar, and active dry yeast. Set it aside, and let it rise for aboutten minutes at room temperature. Also, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, in a big bowl, mix the flour, salt, and olive oil together. Sometimes the olive oil will create little clumps in the flour. If this happens, you can try to press them out with your fingers, but it will not affect the bake or the taste either way in my experience. After the yeast has risen for about ten minutes, combine the yeast mixture with the flour mixture. Mix either with a bread mixer or with your hands until smooth and the dough stops sticking to your hands. You can add a little bit of flour if the mixture is still too sticky. Then, roll the pizza dough into a circle and transfer it to a buttered or oiled pizza pan. Add your favorite toppings! I personally love doing tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and cherry tomatoes. This is your time to create exactly the pizza you want. Then back the pizza at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15–20 minutes. The more toppings you put on, the closer to 20 minutes it will need to bake. When the crust has a light brown color to it, it should be just about perfect.


Provo Gem: The Soap Factory


This place has a ton of character to it. Although I complain about the construction and zero parking and bipolar weather most of the time, it really is a great place to live and explore. There are so many startup companies around here that you can’t ever truly be bored (unless you’re hungry at 11:30 pm on a Friday or Saturdaythen you’re in trouble because nothing is open).

There are some real gems in our backyard, and I think it’s important that we give each of them a shoutout. The one that I’m going to focus on today is The Soap Factory!

This place is so much fun. I went on a date here back in 2015 and when I tried to go back later, it was closed! Have no fear, the company only moved to a bigger location, and it’s now on Center Street.

It can be a little tricky to find because it’s on the second floor; it is not a shop that you walk past on a sunny day, but it’s a rare find if you ask me. It’s a pretty cheap date for a really great time. It’s $5 per person (studio fee) and then 5 cents per gram for whatever products you make. (A bar of soap is usually less than $5.) There are literally over 400 shapes, 150+ essential oils, plus colors and paints to create your own healthy, all-natural soap, scrubs, lotion, lip balm, and tons more. This place is full of creativity. You choose the scents/oils you want in your product, the mold/shape of it, and then you paint it to your liking.

I personally think that this a great place for all ages and relationships. A girls’ night, birthday party, couples date, you name it. The first time I went here was on a blind date and *luckily* the date was a smooth one. You can easily strike up a conversation while creating your art, but it also allows you to have silence if 1.You really want to concentrate on your work and 2.The date is struggling.

I highly recommend checking this place out and don’t forget to make a reservation. Just try itI promise you’ll thank me later.


Killer Recipes: Amy’s Famous Cheesecake

Graham cracker crust:
1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs
1/2 C sugar
6 T melted butter
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon together. Add in melted butter and mix until mixture is sticky enough to put into a pie plate. Push mixture into the pie plate to form a crust and then refrigerate while making the rest of the recipe.

Cheesecake mixture:
2 eggs
3/4 lb of softened cream cheese
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat together the 2 eggs. Add in softened cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat all ingredients until smooth. Pour mixture into cooled graham cracker crust. Bake for 20 minutes. Test the cheesecake to make sure the top is cooked enough, but not too much. Tap your finger on the top lightly and make sure your finger doesn’t just fall through the cake. Take out of oven and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. Turn oven temperature up to 425 degrees. Make the following top layer while you wait for the oven to get to 425 degrees.

Top layer of cheesecake:
1 1/2 C sour cream
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Carefully pour it onto the hot cheesecake that you just
took out of the oven. Put cheesecake back in oven for another 5 minutes. After it is cooked, let

Cool at room temperature for about 20 minutes before covering and putting it in the fridge. Serve
either plain or with berry pie toppings. Enjoy!

Limiting Social Media: Dropping the Phone Addiction

A child tugs on her mom’s pant leg.

“MomomomMOMOM!” she yells, begging for attention.

“Just hang on, I’m on the phone!” the mother pleads, attempting to finish her conversation.

How often have we seen this scene play out in various ways? I remember being that child, desperate for attention. I can sympathize a lot more with my mom now, knowing how needy kids can be; sometimes you need a minute on the phone just to get something done. But now it’s far easier and more common for technology to distract us from the needs of others around us, especially in our families. Today that phone scene might look like a family member only half-listening to a conversation, too involved in a text or a new Facebook status to give their full attention, or a child too glued to their screen to participate in family activities.

I personally have noticed a difference in my life the last few years as I’ve become more and more dependent on technology. I have a shorter attention span; I’m not as good of a listener as I used to be; I’m more easily distracted.

I am definitely addicted to my phone.

I’ve decided on several occasions that enough is enough; I need to stop using social media, go on a “phone fast,” and quit cold turkey. However, that rarely works out as well as I want it to. If technology is an addiction, it’s going to take more than one all-or-nothing attempt to really change my habits. These are a few struggles I’ve noticed as I try to limit my use of technology, and some tips that help me be more aware of the time I spend on my phone:

  1. Everyone has their own personal weaknesses in terms of time-wasters. For me, it’s Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
  2. It’s hard for me to cut them out all at once because they aren’t all bad—I use Facebook to stay connected to my family, and I use Pinterest for recipes. I’ve found it’s easier for me to set specific, limited times each day that I can use them. For example, I can get on Instagram for ten minutes (and only ten!) to take a break from homework, or I can only look at Facebook while I’m donating plasma, etc.
  3. I’m much more likely to stay off of Facebook and Instagram if I’m logged off them. Some people like to delete the app, but I find that even if I’m just logged off, the extra effort of logging in often deters me from doing so because it reminds me that I’m trying to stay away.
  4. Fixing social media settings so notifications don’t pop up on my desktop/phone screen is a BIG help! I could be working diligently on homework, but as soon as that Facebook notification popped up I’d go to check it just real quick and WHAM! I’d be down the rabbit hole. No notifications means no distractions jutting into my other activities.
  5. Tell someone your goals; they’ll keep you accountable. I know it’s kind of cheesy when someone makes that status saying, “Well I’m taking a break from Facebook for [x amount of time], see ya,” but if you at least tell a roommate or family member, they’ll be able to give you a hard time if they see you breaking your commitment, and maybe just make you feel guilty enough to keep it!
  6. Apparently when my brain wants its addiction it gets super resourceful. Even if I stop using my main time-wasters, I go to secondary ones like playing Candy Crush and online window-shopping with Wish. When that happens, I have to limit those ones too!
  7. Finally, perhaps one of the most important tips I have is to find other positive things to fill your time with. When I stopped using social media, I realized just how accustomed I was to filling every moment of boredom with it. I used it to numb myself when I was stressed or needing a break. Finding other things that act as stress relievers has been a huge help in slowing my automatic impulse to reach to my phone whenever I’m looking for a distraction because I have other things to turn to instead. I’ll pick up a book or spend a few minutes talking with a friend or a family member instead of scrolling aimlessly.

Technology can be a great source of connection, but only when we control it instead of letting it control us. How each person uses technology will be different, but I believe that if we set personal boundaries for ourselves and for our use of technology and social media, we will be able to more fully connect with those around us and be more present in our own lives.


Vintage Ice Cream vs. Modern Ice Cream

Ice cream is a beloved treat all across the world. Nowadays, it seems that most ice cream shops are in a buffet set up, either where you make it yourself or the store puts it together for you. I absolutely love these places because I choose exactly what ice cream and toppings I want. But what about the old-fashioned ice cream parlors? We don’t see many of those around anymore, but they are still here and absolutely delicious! There are pros and cons to both types of ice creams shops. I mean, how can you go wrong with ice cream!

I will refer to modern ice cream shops as ice cream bars. At ice cream bars, you are allowed to select the flavor of ice cream or ice creams you want. From there, you can choose the toppings that you want. Depending on where you go, you may have to pay for each topping separately, or the final price may be calculated from the weight of the final product. If you are paying by weight, the fruity toppings will make your final purchase cheaper. Unfortunately for me, I am a complete chocoholic, so mine are always more expensive—but they are always worth it! Basically, with modern ice cream shops, the main pro is that you are in charge of your order. You get to pick exactly what you want—no questions asked. The main con is that sometimes these shops lack in quality because of their vastness of ice cream and topping selections.

I have only been to a few vintage ice cream shops, but from what I have seen, you get an experience along with amazing ice cream. The waiters are dressed up like they’re from the 50s and the whole shop is decked out like you just walked into a scene from Grease. Generally, you have to pick an ice cream creation that the shop already has on the menu, but they do not skimp on ice cream and toppings! Generally, vintage ice cream shops serve their creations in old-fashioned milkshake glasses or vintage glass bowls. It comes with mounds of ice cream and with the syrup pouring over the top and dripping down the side to make a pool of deliciousness on the plate below. A lot of vintage ice cream creations will also come with a baked good—cookies, brownies, cakes, etc. If the shop makes their baked goods in-house, then you usually have a winner. The main pro to vintage ice cream shops is that the quality goes up a notch from modern ice cream shops in the ice cream and presentation. The main con is that the ice cream generally comes in large portions that are pretty expensive, so you end up paying more money to oftentimes not even finish eating the delicious treat.

Granted, this opinion piece does come from my own experience, so go out there and try them both for yourself! Sometimes different moods call for different shops. If I just want a lot of cookie dough, sprinkles, marshmallows, syrup, and more on my ice cream, I’ll just go to an ice cream bar. But if I am in the mood for a whopping amount of ice cream and a baked good that is simpler in its contents, then vintage ice cream it is!

Treat yourself to some ice cream today—you know you deserve it!


Nickel City

The bleeps and the bloops. The colors and the high scores. The defeated growls and the triumphant cheers. There is so much to take in when you walk into a classic arcade, and it just makes you want to get started! With the big trend of nostalgia and all of the 80s paraphernalia that’s so popular right now, getting in touch with the games that entertained a generation is a great way to ride that nostalgia wave.

The first thing that you realize when you walk into the Nickel Mania Arcade is how many machines there are. We couldn’t count the exact number of games, but dozens of little heroes battled little monsters along the walls. My wife and I bee-lined for the classic arcade games. We started pouring our coins in the likes of Joust, Pac-Man, Galaga, Donkey Kong, Rampage, and Centipede. As we competed with each other for the highest scores, we soon started to lose track of time. It was like we had fallen into a weird time loop filled with digital golden coins. It truly was a perfect date.

The arcade receives a standing ovation from my family. It is a great place to spend some time either reminiscing about your days of youth or thinking about how far video games have come.


Killer Recipes: Texas Sheet Cake

Alright y’all, I’m about to share my favorite food secret: Texas Sheet Cake. Being from Texas I feel it is a must to know how to make, and since being in college it has been my go-to for most events. It’s perfect for a party, game night, Sunday family dessert, a treat to drop off to neighbors, you name it! It’s really easy to make and doesn’t take that much time. (If I’m being completely honest, I’ll look for ways to get friends together, just so I can make this . . . and then eat it for breakfast for the next few days.) Enjoy!


½ c. real butter

½ c. shortening

2 1-oz. squares unsweetened baking chocolate

½ c. buttermilk

2 eggs, beaten

2 c. sugar

1 c. water

2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. Vanilla


6 Tbsp. milk

1 tsp. Vanilla

½ c. butter

2 1-oz. squares baking chocolate

1 lb. powdered sugar

½ c. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 11 x 17 jelly roll pan (you can also use a 9×13 pan, but you may die of sugar shock–there’s something to be said for spreading the love in this recipe).
  2. Combine ½ c. butter, ½ c. shortening, 2 oz. chocolate, and water in a small saucepan. Heat until chocolate is melted.
  3. In a separate small bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, buttermilk, eggs, cinnamon, and vanilla. Combine with chocolate mixture. Add flour mixture and mix very well. Pour into pan and bake 20-25 minutes or until a pick comes out clean. Five minutes before cake is done, make frosting.


FROSTING: Combine milk, chocolate, and butter in a large (or medium-large) saucepan. Heat until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. If desired, add 1 c. nuts (optional, preferably chopped walnuts or pecans). While icing is still warm, pour over cake.

*This recipe comes from Our Best Bites and is one of my favorite cookbooks. I highly recommend purchasing it!*


Dad’s Favorite Gift

The difficulties of parenting surprise even the best of moms and dads. We begin our parenting life staring into the eyes of our little one, believing that we know the journey that lies ahead. We will teach them all that matters to us, and they will, in turn, grow up into the wonderful adult that we had imagined. Sadly, and surprisingly, time ticks away and the next thing we know, most of what we had hoped for didn’t happen after all.

Disappointment does not escape anyone. The question is, what do we do with this knowledge of reality? I will tell you what I did. When my dad was seventy-five years old and I was forty-one years old, I had had just enough parenting experience to realize something; at this stage of my dad’s life, he did not need to hear anything he did wrong as a parent. He needed to know all the good he did, and he needed to know that I felt only gratitude for him.

With this revelation, I created what I believe is a gift that every parent deserves. I began thinking about how much food was involved in the good memories of life. I began to gather stories of times spent with my dad and the food that helped create those good memories. I wanted to do just a little bit more than simply tell the story of our times together; I decided to add to these stories the lessons I had learned from my dad when we were together. From my gratitude grew a box of memories, associated with food but inspired by the lessons learned from a father.

Because my dad did not live in the same state as I did, my gift would need to be mailed. I drove around gathering up all the food I needed to mail, and then I wrote the stories. I began my gift with a letter of explanation, part of which said, “My gift to you this day is a special way of saying ‘Thanks for the memories.’ In this box is a sampling of foods that I associate with you and the good memory that lingers with them still. Love to you, Amos.”

One of my stories began “All of my memories, at any stage of my life, of going to the movies with you, are wonderful. One important lesson in life stands out thoughhonesty. I remember when I reached the age of twelve and the price of a movie ticket for me went up. Needless to say, I certainly did not look twelve years old, nor did anyone at the movie theatre think so. Every time we’d go to buy my ticket, they would guess me as a “child.” You would always correct them and tell them how old I really was. Your simple and direct honesty set a very strong example of integrity and I desired to be just like you.”

Another story reads “We usually think of a ‘security blanket’ as some kind of tangible object. For me, one of my most treasured ‘security blankets’ was the twelve years that I spent on the ice, looking through the Plexiglass and seeing you in the coffee shop, eating toast and jelly, exactly at the same time every morning. I doubt you knew the value of what you were giving me nor the magnitude of the positive effect it would have on my life. As a mother today, my most important daily goal is to simply be there––always––at the same time––each day––just as my dad was, in the coffee shop.”

If you are fortunate enough to have one or both of your parents still around, I hope you will take the time to share your food memories and maybe a lesson or two that you learned while spending time together. Let them know that they did something right––that their hard work paid off and that you not only appreciate all they did for you, but that you learned from them as well. If your parents are no longer with you, write down the stories anyway for future generations to learn from.

After receiving my gift in the mail and reading all the stories, my dad called to tell me that “this is the best gift I have ever received in my whole life.” At that moment, I realized that my gift to him turned out to be equally as valuable to me; I had made my dad feel like a successful parent, and in turn, I felt like a successful daughter.

A Family Favorite

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about family traditions lately, and one that has had a lasting impact on my life keeps coming to my mind. I am the oldest of four girls and have always heard my mom say the exact same thing to each of us when we left the house—from the first day of kindergarten to the last day of high school, and even now when I come home over break.

Mom: Have a great day, choose the right, and remember . . .?

Kids: I am a child of God, you love me, and I can pray anytime, anywhere, always!

Even when my sisters and I were on different school schedules I could hear one of them reciting it while walking out the door, and then fifteen minutes later I would hear another say it as she left for the day. It got to the point where I could say it in under two seconds if I was really running late somewhere. If it was for a drive up to school, a trip to the mall with friends, or even a date, I could hear my mother calling out, somewhere in the house, her sweet little line any time I EVER walked out the door and into the real world.

Something that I have loved about this is that it didn’t cost any time or money, but she was still able to create a tradition and a lasting memory that I plan to carry over into my own family someday. I can still remember some of those hard days at school where something had gone wrong and I was ready to throw in the towel or classmates were pressuring me to do something I knew I shouldn’t or even something silly like the fact that I didn’t get asked to the dance by my crush; in the moments that mattered the most, I could hear my mother’s voice reminding me to have a great day, to choose the right, that I am a child of God, that she loves me, and that I can pray anytime, anywhere, always.

Thanks mom.


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