Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cajun Steak Sandwich

I got to try out a new fast dinner recipe a few weeks ago and am just now getting around to sharing it. I found the recipe at Better Homes & Gardens where they serve the sandwiches with sweet potato fries. My kids don't want to try those so I didn't make them. The store I went to didn't have ciabatta rolls so I just bought rosette rolls. The recipe calls for them to be open-face sandwiches, but my kids wanted the tops so they could pick them up more easily. (Can't convince them to use a fork and knife on a sandwich.) We also ended up adding spinach to them after the photos.

The sauce is basically a sassy fry sauce, for those of you who know what that is. The recipe makes enough to use it on the sandwiches and have some left for dipping fries so give it a try. We liked the taste and I loved how fast I could throw it all together.
Cajun Steak Sandwich
2 (8-oz.) trimmed rib-eye steaks or boneless beef top steak, cut 1/2 inch thick
3 t. Cajun or blackening seasoning
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 T. ketchup
1 t. molasses
2 ciabatta rolls, split and toasted
1 tomato, sliced
Sliced green onion (optional)

Cut steaks in half crosswise. Coat both sides of steaks with 1-1/2 tsp. seasoning. Heat a cast-iron or heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Cook steaks in hot skillet for 3 to 5 minutes on each side.

In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, ketchup, molasses and remaining seasoning.

Place one steak on each roll half. Top with some of the sauce, tomato slice, and green onion.
Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What Ever Happened to the Village?

Remember the village it takes to raise a child, with everyone willing to help, support and sustain each other? Guess that's just talk. Maybe I shouldn’t post this right now since I’m emotional and I don’t have time to expound on my thoughts. Probably some of you have heard about this report on MSNBC.

"Gay families more accepted than single moms 
Pew study find Americans are split evenly overall on accepting 'non-traditional families' but disparage single moms”

Really? Disparage? In case you aren’t sure what disparage means, here are some definitions from online.

Disparage: to lower in rank or reputation, to depreciate by indirect means (as invidious comparison), speak slightingly about, express a negative opinion of, insult, ridicule

There is part of the study that I think is good and I do agree with: “a third (Rejectors) consider non-traditional arrangements to be damaging to the country’s social fabric”. Yes, the destruction of families creates difficulties for the adults and for the children in that family, but also is destructive to society. There have been books written on this subject.

“[These consequences] are not only to be expected, they are virtually inevitable. What we sowed we now reap. If you want the truth in all of this, it is that the law of the harvest cannot be repealed. The law of the harvest is the same in every historical period, in every nation, in every culture. . . . That society that sows the wind will reap the whirlwind. We are reaping the whirlwind of family destruction."
Elder Alexander B. Morrison of the Seventy, Utah North Area president, May 2, 1997 (at the annual convention of the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists)

I just wrote about The Family: A Proclamation to the World in a post recently. “The family is ordained of God.” I do believe that children deserve to have a father and mother in their home. If that is what the people are expressing in the study, I agree. Since the questions are not included in the study, we cannot know what the opinions really are. Were they asked if single women should be allowed to adopt? Or if it they thought it was acceptable for single women to have children outside of marriage? Or something else?

“While 98 percent of Acceptors think there’s nothing wrong with women raising their children alone, 99 percent of Skeptics and 98 percent of Rejectors believe that’s bad for society. (The survey only asked about single mothers, not single fathers.)”

BUT the byline actually says Americans “disparage single moms”. That leads me to believe that there were questions that asked about how people VIEW single mothers. If that is true, it’s very sad.
Since becoming a single mother, a few of my divorced friends who are mothers have confided in me even more about their feelings. Unfortunately, a couple of my other friends have since become single mothers (against their will/desire) also. I am grateful to be there for them and have someone to talk to when I need it. We check on each other since this is such a roller coaster ride. One day is good and the next day a train wreck for no reason. I’m sure most people understand that it is a difficult circumstance to be in, but no one can understand the depths of loneliness and despair that most of us experience unless you have been there.

Friends who were friends with you and your ex-spouse don’t want to take sides or don’t know what to say, so they stop calling or inviting you to do things. You no longer have a spouse to talk to your friend’s husband so you aren’t invited to dinner with your family and theirs. Just when you feel lonelier than you ever have, some people stay away. I am so grateful for the friends I have that have helped me by listening and by calling or texting just to ask how I am. I have been blessed with a family (parents, brothers, sisters, and their spouses) who love and support me and accept me.

I really believe that despite the byline, many people do not look down on single mothers in general. But it is still very hard for me to accept and to tell others. I am still embarrassed to say that I am divorced, let alone that I’m a single mother. I already felt that some people (not everyone, I know) judged me and now with this headline, I’m not feeling better about it.

Most of us single mothers aren’t single mothers because we aspired to be or even chose to be. Many of the single women I know work many hours when they would love to be a stay-at-home mother, nurturing and rearing their children, but that choice was taken away from them. A couple of my friends have two jobs to be able to support their children when the fathers chose not to. Thankfully that isn’t always the case. They cook, clean, help children with homework, do all the daily tasks married mothers do, but they do them alone. They love their children and juggle their schedule so they can see their children in school plays or attend sports games. Most want the blessing that many others enjoy of a loving companion. Instead of disparaging, step up and offer a listening ear or lend a hand. Be a friend. Stop judging.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Selfish Commandment?

Alexander gave our family home evening lesson on Monday. He chose to teach about the ten commandments. Seems like a simple review of basic principles, huh? Well, I found out they aren't so simple to an 8-year old.
Sabrina generally believes the things she learns in our scripture study or that I teach her and the things she learns in primary, but sometimes she does question things. This time she questioned one of the ten commandments. Which one? Only the most important one--number one: Thou shalt have no other gods before me. She doesn't belive in another god, but she thinks that it is a selfish request that he be the most important thing or person.

I tried to explain to her that we will keep all the other commandments, which sometimes is hard to do, if we love our Heavenly Father more than we love our toys, a car, a job, money, or anything else. We can only get to know him if we love him more than anything else. It didn't change anything. She repeated that it was still selfish. 

I am glad that she is thinking about what she is learning. I just wish I could help her understand and I didn't seem to come up with any good ideas. So I'm turning to you, my smart, inspired friends to help me know how to explain it to her. I will continue to pray about how to teach her, but if any of you have any ideas, I'd love for you to share them in the comments! Thank you.   

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chocolate-Peppermint Shortbread Cookies

Happy St. Patrick's Day! We had a fun little treat with green to help us be in the mood. We all wore some green today. Can you spot Alexander's green? He was more in the mood to support BYU than to wear a green shirt.
So, the recipe--these yummy gems came from Diana's Desserts and we are going to have them again. Who wouldn't love chocolate-mint cookies with mini chocolate chips with a green mint frosting, drizzled with chocolate? Okay, Sabrina, but besides a picky, but cute 8-year old?

Chocolate-Peppermint Shortbread Cookies


3/4 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 t. peppermint extract
2 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened baking chocolate, melted, cooled slightly
1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. semi-sweet miniature chocolate chips

1 c. powdered sugar
2 T. butter, softened
1 T. milk
1/4 t. peppermint extract
1 drop green food color

1/2 c. semi-sweet miniature chocolate chips
1/2 t. vegetable shortening

Preheat oven to 375º. Combine all cookie ingredients except flour and 1 cup mini chocolate chips in large mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy (1 to 2 minutes).

Reduce speed to low. Add flour; beat until mixture forms a dough (1 to 2 minutes). Stir in 1 cup mini chocolate chips by hand.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten to 1 1/2-inch circle with bottom of glass dipped in flour. Bake in preheated oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until set. (DO NOT OVER BAKE.) Let stand 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet. Cool completely on wire rack.

Combine all frosting ingredients in small mixer bowl. Beat at low speed, adding milk, 1 teaspoonful at a time, if necessary until frosting is smooth. Frost cooled cookies. Place on waxed paper.

Place 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips and shortening in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth (60 to 90 seconds). Drizzle thin lines of chocolate over frosting with teaspoon. Let stand until chocolate is set (at least 30 minutes).

If desired, place melted chocolate in small resealable plastic food bag. Cut tiny tip off one corner of bag to drizzle chocolate (or be lazy like me and drizzle it from a spoon).

Yield: 3 1/2 dozen cookies
Here Spencer Glenn's video to Love & Life, the first song on the player above. I just wanted to include it because it has photos of him and his beautiful wife and I think it's sweet. I'm in the mood for sweet right now. He is new to the music scene so check him out at Reverbnation and watch more of his videos on YouTube (I like The Bottom too) and then make sure you give him some feedback so he keeps making good music. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"A Foundation of Faith in the Family"

We just had our stake conference this last weekend and I always look forward to all of it. This time our stake presidency sent every family a copy of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”. Can you believe that came out more than 15 years ago? My stake presidency sent a letter along with the Proclamation, encouraging us to re-read it and to teach our children about it. “Study line by line its precepts, then gather your own ‘children of Israel’ and teach them again the importance and blessings inherent in following the Lord’s precepts and Divine Pattern for all generation.” So this is the topic of my next family home evening lesson. Of course, there are many, many books written on the subjects addressed in the Proclamation, but I will choose a few scriptures and quotes to study along with it.

We know that the world all around us sees these truths as old-fashioned and even ridiculous. That is the world that is talking to our children, and even us, every day. We must do our best to combat it with divine truths.
I remember when I was pregnant with Alexander, my first child. I was very anxious about what labor was going to be like, but what kept me up at night and thinking all day was the tremendous responsibility that having a child is. I am an imperfect person, so obviously I was going to be an imperfect mother to this new little child who deserved the best. It wasn’t a responsibility that would be part-time or just for a while. This would be full-time and eternal. How could I possibly live up to the expectations Heavenly Father had for me? Even after all these years of practice, I am no more perfect today than I was then, but I am grateful for the Holy Ghost guiding me and inspiring me to be a better mother than I could be on my own. I am grateful for my own parents who taught me so much by their examples and for other amazing mothers around me who I can look up to and learn from.

“Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. 'Children are an heritage of the Lord' (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”

It is important for us to teach our children that a family (husband, wife and children) are “essential to His eternal plan”, not just something to try if it fits into their career path someday and not something to run away from.

Today I was listening to the April 2008 General Conference addresses that I checked out from the library. One of them just happened to be on this topic and I’d like to include a few excerpts from it.

"One thing that becomes clear to the enlightened mind is that there are laws that keep life and living things in balance. Discovering the laws of physics and complying with them brings progress, enabling man to rise to higher levels of attainment than would otherwise be possible.

I believe that this premise also applies to ethical standards and moral values. It is, therefore, our responsibility to safeguard the home as a center of learning where these virtues can be instilled in an atmosphere of love and through the power of example.

Scientists gain their knowledge mainly through research, conducting experiments, and the application of intellect.

Disciples of Christ receive their witness by studying His words, observing His works, putting gospel principles into practice, and receiving the spirit of inspiration. (See John 7:16–17; Jacob 4:8.)

Wise men have provided a legacy of learning from the past. We must hand down to future generations a foundation of faith in the family, as defined by Deity.  (See D&C 49:15–17.)

We should never forget that freedom and happiness in all aspects of life come by understanding and living in harmony with eternal gospel principles. They provide a sure foundation upon which to build a productive and happy life."
Kenneth Johnson, April 2008 General Conference

I am not only trying to teach my children to be good children, but to one day be strong adults and followers of Christ, and excellent husbands, wives, fathers and mothers. It is so critical for them to learn that now as they are growing. It is difficult when all around them, people are divorcing and some are telling them that it’s okay. I have several divorced, still single, friends and another of my friends just told me last month that her husband is leaving her. So much pain! It just makes me want to scream, “ENOUGH!” so I can’t imagine how it hurts our Heavenly Father to see it all.

Quoting the Proclamation, President Packer commented “We warn”—we don’t often use that word, but it’s appropriate here—“We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”
Boyd K. Packer, Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: Building Up a Righteous Posterity, February 9, 2008

We need, I need, to teach our children that strong warning.

"I confess I do not claim the wisdom nor authority to definitely state what is 'just cause.' Only the parties to the marriage can determine this. They must bear the responsibility for the train of consequences which inevitably follow if these covenants are not honored. In my opinion, “just cause” should be nothing less serious than a prolonged and apparently irredeemable relationship which is destructive of a person’s dignity as a human being.

At the same time, I have strong feelings about what is not provocation for breaking the sacred covenants of marriage. Surely it is not simply 'mental distress' nor 'personality differences' nor 'having grown apart' nor 'having fallen out of love.' This is especially so where there are children."
James E. Faust, "Fathers, Mothers, Marriage", Ensign, Aug. 2004, 2–7

“There is something deceptive about [the phrase ‘irretrievable breakdown’]. The passive, impersonal structure, the dry legalities of the language, conceal a lie. It suggests that a marriage has an independent organic existence. It exonerates us by portraying us as merely the clinicians pronouncing the body dead. But at what precise point does the breakdown of a marriage become irretrievable? The moment we declare it so, and no sooner. And the marriage doesn’t just break down. We disconnect the life support. While it requires will to make a marriage work, it also requires a quite horrifying act of will to bring one to an end.”    
John Taylor, “The Death of a Marriage.” Sunday Telegraph (Austrailia), 30 May 1999, 13.

I cannot afford to tiptoe around these facts, hoping that my children will remember the firsthand pain divorce causes a family. I pray that I will be inspired to teach them what they need to know and that the truths will become a part of them, written in their hearts.

“The power of our doctrinal vision of family future is strong enough that it will outweigh whatever sacrifice and pain we may need to bear during our days of family present…There really is a deep connection between the hard things of life and the best things of life.”
Bruce C. Hafen, Covenant Heart: Marriage and the Joy of Human Love, 63, 66.

Being a mother is absolutely one of the most difficult things I can imagine myself doing, but it is all worth it, knowing that I can be with my children eternally, bound in love forever and ever. I am thankful for the opportunity I have had this past week to review again The Family: A Proclamation to the World and feel the Spirit witness to me of its truth.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Crepes Ensenada

I found this recipe at Lisa's blog Gourmified a while ago and finally got around to making it. We really liked it--cheesy and yummy. And it's so quick to put together.
Crepes Ensenada
12 thin slices of ham
12 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, cut lengthwise into 12 sticks
1 (4-oz.) can diced green chilies

Preheat oven to 350º.
Place 1-2 slices of ham on each tortilla. Put 1 stick of cheese in center and top with a few chili pieces. Roll tortilla and secure with a toothpick or with the seam down in the pan. Place tortillas slightly separated in a greased or sprayed 9x13-inch pan. Make cheese sauce and pour over tortillas. Srinkle with paprika. Bake, uncovered 45 minutes.

Cheese Sauce
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. flour
4 c. milk
3/4 lb. cheddar cheese, grated
1 t. dry mustard
1/2 t. salt
Dash of pepper
1-4oz. can diced green chilies (if desired)
Melt butter and blend in flour to form a smooth paste. Add milk, grated cheese, mustard, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.
Serves 6-8.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Red Lights & Cathedrals

Before I introduce you to this awesome band today, I just gotta say, "Go, Cougars!"

Okay, now on to MUSIC. Here's a band I found on Remember I told you about my fave music site? If you haven't gone yet, what are you waiting for? This fun band from Utah is Red Lights & Cathedrals. I haven't seen them perform yet, but have listened to their music over and over and it makes me happy.
 "Redlights’ was formed in 2010 consisting of Coby Coonradt and Randy Moser... The group strives to create pop melodies which can bounces between christian rock and pop punk. Growing up, the friends were influenced by Jars of Clay, Third Eye Blind, and a chance association/collaboration with 80’s duo Air Supply. Playing the college emo scene in Utah during early 2000’s they were influenced by the Used, and shared the stage with acts like The Matches, Neon Trees and Plain White T’s. Redlights’ is currently writing, recording and living out a classic long distance relationship which they are hoping to share with everyone around them."

You can buy their CD for only $7.99 or download their music so you can listen to it anywhere. You can even get one of their songs for a ringtone after you listen to them here and like them. They even have hats, shirts and hoodies with their name on it at their STORE. How cool would that be to walk down the street and see someone wearing your band name???  So listen to their music here and then LIKE Red Lights & Cathedrals on Facebook like I did.

I always tell you my favorite songs. This is hard since I really like them all. My favorite is The Slightest Hesitation. Suspicion is a pretty, slow song. Fearless is super catchy. You can only hear a teaser of Oh No! below, but you can hear it at It is so fun and would make an awesome ringtone. Okay, just listen to them all!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Welcome to the World of the 95ers!

I am surrounded by people who are so amazing—artists, authors, actors, musicians, movie makers, and so much more. Creativity and talent just oooooooze around me and I wish it was all contagious. Even though it’s not, I can still enjoy all of the awesomeness! And of course I get to share it with all of you.

I remember years ago when my new neighbors, Ali and Tom Durham, moved in, Tom talked about a movie he wanted to make. Guess what!?! It took lots and lots of work, money and a few years, but he has made it and it features his wife Ali (who has been in other movies like The Singles Ward and Life is Ruff). It is the first in an intense series of sci-fi movies to come, so you are lucky you get to learn about it all from the beginning. Awesome story, great effects, and of course, wonderful acting. CHILLS!!!!
The movie is in post-production so they are putting finishing touches on everything (which isn’t fast or easy) and will have a premiere (currently scheduled for June) which Ali said any of you can attend! So stay tuned for more info, or even better, LIKE them on Facebook  and keep up at  . You can even donate (and get fun rewards). I really know nothing about the film industry, but they are going to some sci-fi conventions and film festivals and are looking for someone to snatch it up (buy it) so it can be at the theaters and I can't wait!

It’s fun that not only do I know one of the screen writers/movie makers and the lead actress, but I know 24 of the people on the cast list from our neighborhood and church. FUN!! One of them is Clark Schaffer who has done special effects and model making for lots of big movies, most recently Iron Man II.

Storyline: "Special Agent Sally Biggs has a secret. She can rewind time--a few seconds--whenever she wants. It's enough to make her a celebrity at the FBI and control almost everything in her life. But deep down, she's afraid of the pain that comes from the things no one can control. Her worst fears are realized when her scientist husband disappears mysteriously. Paranormal apparitions begin to surround her. Strangers with terrifying technologies know her secret, and want her dead. Her only clue is her husband's ghost--who she follows onto a battlefield she never knew existed. She must discover the awesome truth that ties all the mysteries together, before the fabric of her being--and the ones she loves most--fade out of reality."
Once you see this trailer, you are gonna wanna see it on the big screen!

95ers:ECHOES trailer 01 from Space Ace on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Trifle

We recently celebrated Alexander's 15th birthday. I cannot possibly be old enough to have a 15 year old. Yikes!!! When I asked him what dessert he wanted on his birthday, he said that all my desserts were so good that he couldn't choose so I could choose. He knew he'd love it. He is an awesome teenager so I needed to find an awesome dessert for him. I took advantage of it to make something new, which I don't get to do very often anymore. I wanted something peanut-y for National Peanut Month. (I did make plain brownies for Sabrina because of her allergies. She loved them.)

I've had this recipe in my file for a year since I first saw it on The Sisters Cafe. I decided to make half the brownies, but make the full recipe of the pudding goodness and we'd save half of that for something else later in the week. Elisa was so nice to help me put the trifle together and didn't hear me when I said I was only putting half of the pudding in. So we ended up with the entire amount of peanut butter pudding with half of the brownies and candy. So it really looks like our brownies are drowning and you can barely see them. That was okay because it was still oh, so very divine!
Peanut Butter Cup Trifle
9x13-inch pan of brownies, cut into 1 inch pieces

5.1 oz. instant vanilla pudding
3 c. milk
½ c. creamy peanut butter
2 t. vanilla
8 oz. container thawed whipped topping (Cool Whip), divided
20 peanut butter cups, crumbled (buy in a 10-pack. Not the bite-sized)
6-8 peanut butter cups or chocolate curls to garnish.

Combine pudding and milk. Beat for 2 minutes. Add peanut butter and vanilla, beat until smooth. Gently fold in 2 cups cool whip.

Layer in trifle dish ½ the brownies, ½ the crumbled peanut butter cups, ½ the pudding mixture. Repeat. Top with cool whip and peanut butter cups. Chill until serving.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I have three items to share with you that are completely unrelated except that they were all in a newspaper or a magazine.

The Springville Museum of Art has a Community and Family the first Monday of every month. They have an artist come speak about his/her art, then some sort of entertainment and they finish with an art project for the children. Last month instead of making art, the project was a scavenger hunt. I let Elisa and Sabrina each bring a friend. When the scavenger hunt started, Alex went one way, Elisa and Crysta went another way and I was walking around helping Sabrina and Abby with the hunt. We had been searching for a little while when a guy with a camera came up to me and introduced himself as a photographer for a local newspaper. He asked if he could follow us around and take photos of the girls. I told him he could. I thought he'd take a few photos and be done, but he followed us around for about half an hour, snapping tons of photos while we finished the hunt. I stayed back as much as I could to not be in a photo. The girls had two photos in the paper and they felt so famous.
Sabrina is in the striped shirt and her friend Abby is in the solid green shirt. I guess the other kids should have stuck with me and they'd have been famous too. 
A different day Alexander, Sabrina and I went to BYU to see The Face of Autism photography exhibit by Abby Alger. We went to see my nephew Avi's photos that were included.
We looked around at the different photos taken of the daily life of different autistic children and their families.
Pretty quickly we spotted the first one of Avi. He loves to be upside down. He's pretty good at it too!
Then we were surprised by this photo of Avi and my brother Jared. He hadn't told me that he was included in it. My beautiful sister-in-law and their other son Itai (who is not autistic) were not included in any of the photos, but they are super-stars too. I can't tell you in words what a wonderful family they are!
Finally, Alexander and I went to see my talented friend Elizabeth's art in an artist reception where a group she belongs to, Big Eyed Women, had an exhibit. Lots of great art to see and it was nice that it was so crowded!

I'd like to introduce you to Nicole Shehan, even though I don't actually know her. I've only heard her music online. She taught herself the guitar and the piano and composes her own songs. On one site she said she's a pop/inspirational singer and on another she describes her genre as Christian/indie/pop. My favorites are "Just to Be", "Invisible Facts" and "Handshake". (You gotta listen to those once at least!)  If you click on this link "Why I Believe", you can watch a beautiful video of Nicole singing and playing the piano, mixed with Liz Lemon Swindle paintings.

Utah Local: Rico Cocina y Tequila Bar

I wanted to find somewhere different to have dinner with my children, but it had to have food that all of them would eat. It's not easy ...