Friday, April 29, 2011

Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cookies

Before the recipe, here is another singer/songwriter/guitar player you might not know-- Jacqueline du Plessis. I like her beautiful voice and talent for writing sweet songs.



"Jacqueline was born and raised in South Africa, spending most of her young life in the beautiful city of Cape Town. She plays guitar, sings and continues to aspire to have a CD of here own songs. She has begun collaberating with other artists for future projects. She currently attends Brigham Young University studying Psychology!"



I finished my finals and have a week and a couple of days before my next semester starts! I can breathe!! For a week anyway. I'll take it. Let's see how much I can get done in that short time.

I love chocolate and peanut butter together so when I saw this recipe at Deer Lake Cookie Recipes, I copied it and I recently tried it out. (It was funny to me that the site says "All your favorite healthy homemade cookies", but I don't consider these healthy.)

I tasted them when they were fresh out of the oven and I was a bit disappointed. They were a little dry to me. But everyone else who tried them, loved them. I got several rave reviews. I did one thing wrong. I made the peanut butter dough into balls one at a time and then wrapped each one in some chocolate dough without separating the chocolate dough into the 32 cookies. So I had extra chocolate dough left over at the end that should have been on the cookies, giving them a little more chocolate on each cookie. So yours will probably have more chocolate than mine did.

Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cookies

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. special dark cocoa powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/4 c. chunky peanut butter
1 egg
1 T. milk
1 T. vanilla

Peanut Butter Filling
3/4 c. sifted powdered sugar
1/2 c. chunky peanut butter
2 T. granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350°.

Sift together the flour, special dark cocoa powder and baking soda in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl cream together the butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar and 1/4 cup of chunky peanut butter until well combined. Add in the egg, milk and vanilla. Beat well. Gently mixing in the flour mixture about 1/3 at a time until fully incorporated. Divide dough into 32 portions.

For the filling, combine the confectioners sugar and 1/2 cup peanut butter in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Form peanut butter filling into 32 balls. Wrap each peanut butter ball completely with the chocolate dough. Roll dough into a ball. Place balls on a parchment lined baking sheet. Lightly flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.

Bake cookies for about 8 minutes or until the surface begins to slightly crack. Let cool for 1 minute on the sheet. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Justin Williams

2 days of almost non-stop finals studying is tiring. Who knew so much sitting could make you want to sleep? Yesterday I took a break from studying to exercise, but today I exercised this morning before I started studying. So this quick blogging break is allowing me to look away from my textbook. While I am studying, I am listening to lots of music. One of the singers who I'm listening to is Justin Williams. Maybe you've heard of him or even remember him on American Idol auditions. He lives in Sandy, Utah and makes some crazy good music.
"At just 20 year’s old Justin was diagnosed with cancer. With his music career on hold, a humbled and fearless Justin set out to conquer his greatest accomplishment. Over the next several months Justin endured multiple surgeries and months of chemotherapy and today he is happy to say he is cancer free.

Justin’s determination to live has given him the fuel to embark on a journey to inspire those who feel hopeless. In 2009 Justin took his talent to the big stage and competed in the hit TV series American Idol as a Top 60 contestant. In 2010 America’s hearts were opened up once again to Justin during an American Idol feature story on his battle with cancer. Winning over the judges and America’s hearts with his emotionally charged audition, Justin made it to Hollywood Week... Despite an early dismissal from American Idol, Justin describes his experience as one of self-discovery and becoming."



You can check him out at his website JustinWilliams.com or on Facebook (like if you, for some reason, want to see some more photos). He is one of the top 25 contenders to sing at this year's Stadium of Fire. (There were several I already liked on the list to vote for and it was hard to choose just 3. Yep, I voted for him!) So you might be seeing him there if you are one of those lucky people who goes.
 
I love this song "Lying" and think I'll go back to studying and listening to it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Barbecue Chicken Tortilla Pizza


I have a confession to make to all of you. We are a weird family. Okay, if you know my children and me in person, and even if you've read my blog for a while, you probably already know that! It's not a secret.

Usually I only share recipes that I made and we liked. Today I am sharing a recipe that we didn't really like, but for a good reason. I love how easy the recipe is. The only reason we didn't like it is because none of us like barbecue sauce. Weird, I know. Who doesn't like barbecue sauce?

I saw this simple recipe and thought I'd give it a try anyway and not tell anyone there was barbecue sauce. It didn't work. But look how great it looks! I'm sure that all of you normal people would like it so I'm sharing it. I am going to try it again, but use crushed tomatoes instead of the dreaded barbecue sauce. And I'm going to add olives to mine. I absolutely love how easy this is and how each child can make their own and make it even faster (or messier). Thanks to Crystal's Cozy Kitchen for the recipe! Makes a fun dinner or cut up into little appetizers.
Barbecue Chicken Tortilla Pizza

Tortillas
Cooked chicken, tossed in barbecue sauce
Mozzarella
Additional toppings to taste

Place tortillas in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Spread with barbecue sauce. Top with chicken, any toppings, and mozzarella. Bake at 350º for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Laura Inspired Me to Feel "Present Joy for Future Blessings"

Finals are coming! And I can’t wait to be done with this semester. This week will be my last week of classes and finals are the week after (except for my microbiology lab final that is this Tuesday). I’m not sure if I’ll have much time to blog and read blogs during my summer classes, but I hope I will have a little more time than this last semester.

This past week I had a new visitor to my blog. Laura at Living a Big Story  was so nice to read some of my archives and even leave comments on several posts. So I took a few minutes to pop by her blog and find out a little about her. The title to one of her posts really got me thinking…all week long. Feeling Present Joy for Future Blessings  Isn’t that an A-W-E-S-O-M-E title???

I have been working at being more grateful for all my many blessings and focusing on seeing the hand of the Lord in my life instead of focusing on what I have lost and what is missing. I know that many of our blessings are “stored up in heaven” for us for later, but besides giving thanks for being sealed to my children, parents and brothers and sisters and being part of that eternal family, I haven’t presently given thanks for things that will happen in the future. As a matter of fact, I haven’t often felt joy for them either. It is difficult to feel joy is even possible in the future when in the middle of intense present pain.

But since reading Laura’s post, I have been thinking about my future blessings and I have been including thanks to my Heavenly Father for them in my prayers every time I pray. I think that just saying that aloud helps to give me hope. I need to live in the present and be grateful for now, but also believe in a better future and be grateful for that. So what future blessings could we receive?

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

I do believe that there is no way for us to comprehend the things that our Father has prepared for us if we just love him. And how do we love him? If we keep his commandments and follow his leaders who are here to guide us to happiness in this life and back to him in the next. There are a few specific future blessings that I have thought about this past week.

Having the opportunity to go to school right now is a current blessing, even though I wish I didn’t HAVE to push and hurry up to finish and not have as much time and energy for my children, but being a single mother, I must. I am working diligently now so that I can enjoy a future blessing of a good job, stability and financial peace of mind. I have been thankful in my prayers for school, but also for my job that I will someday have.

Another future blessing I have been giving thanks for is my future home. Because I know I will someday have a good job, I can believe that I will someday have the blessing of having a home that I love, definitely with a kitchen large enough to hold all of my cooking and baking stuff. I love touring homes in the Parade of Homes every year and dreaming of what my home will look like. But the mansion that is most is important is the one I will inhabit eternally if I am worthy of it.

John 14:2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
Isaiah 54: 11 O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.
12 And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.

What good would a house here on earth or in heaven be if I am alone? My children will be growing up and moving on so quickly. So of course, one of my future blessings that I have been giving thanks for is my future husband. Before I read Laura’s post, I had occasionally during this past year asked Heavenly Father in prayer to protect this yet-unknown man, strengthen him against temptations and for us to find each other sooner rather than later. Hehe But it wasn’t until I read Laura’s blog that I thanked Heavenly Father for this righteous man, for his future love for me and his willingness to walk with me in all things.

I do realize that this man might not come to me until the next life, but I hope I do not have to wait that long. We have been promised that if we live righteously in this life, with a desire to be married in the temple, and do not get the opportunity to be married here, we will have the opportunity to be married in the next life. I used to have this imagery of this as if I were a chess piece on a board and Heavenly Father’s omnipotent hand would pick up one of the righteous unmarried men and place him on the board next to me, as my eternal companion.

Several months ago, I had the blessing of having a conversation with someone who reminded me of the importance of agency in our Heavenly Father’s plan. He said that he believes that instead of the chess piece placement scenario, we will get to fall in love and choose our companion. What a beautiful thought. (Still hope I don’t have to wait for that though. Have I whined about that enough yet??)

“A Saint who is one in deed and in truth, does not look for an immaterial heaven, but he expects a heaven with lands, houses, cities, vegetation, rivers, and animals; with thrones, temples, palaces, kings, princes, priests, and angels; with food, raiment, musical instruments, etc., all of which are material. Indeed, the Saints' heaven is a redeemed, glorified, celestial, material creation, inhabited by glorified material beings, male and female, organized into families, embracing all the relationships of husbands and wives, parents and children, where sorrow, crying, pain, and death will be known no more. Or to speak still more definitely, this earth, when glorified, is the Saints' eternal heaven. On it they expect to live, with body, parts, and holy passions; on it they expect to move and have their being; to eat, drink, converse, worship, sing, play on musical instruments, engaged in joyful, innocent, social amusements, visit neighboring towns and neighboring worlds.”
Orson Pratt, Millennial Star, November 17, 1866, 28:721-22
My children and I saw the movie Soul Surfer yesterday. It's a true story of a 13-year old girl whose arm was bitten off by a shark and she goes back to competing in surfing. It’s not as good of a movie as I thought it would be, but the real story is very inspiring. I especially loved the part at the end of the movie that showed the real Bethany Hamilton and different home videos of her after the accident. I did really like one part in the movie. After the accident, Bethany tried to get back on her surfboard and compete again. It was very difficult for her and she didn’t do as well as she wanted to. She gave up. In the movie she says to her father (more or less), “How can this be part of His plan for me? For me to lose everything?”

This part touched me because it was so close to my own thoughts before and close to a the words of a friend when she was recently sharing her thoughts about her divorce. But in the movie, Bethany travels to help tsunami victims, where she realizes that she has not lost everything. She still has many blessings for her own life and to help others. No matter what has been lost, we have many blessings, present and future.

The other day in algebra, my professor used an analogy when introducing the topic of mathematical induction. The algebra topic doesn’t matter for my post, but the analogy caught my attention. “If you can reach the first rung of the ladder, and if for every rung you reach, you can reach the next rung, then you can reach every rung of the ladder, no matter how high the ladder.”

When he was saying this, I was thinking about life. It is so easy to get discouraged and feel like that next rung is just too high and there is no way to reach it. I’ll just have to hang here, wishing I could go upward. There is always a way to reach the next rung and I am the only one stopping me from stepping up. I may get knocked down the ladder by someone or slip sometimes because of mistakes, but I can always start back up. Of course, we don’t even have to climb the ladder alone. We are helped up every step of the way by our family and friends and always by our Savior.
(Ladder artwork by Sabrina)

"When, in situations of stress, we wonder if there is any more in us to give, we can be comforted to know that God, who knows our capacities perfectly, placed us here to succeed. No one was foreordained to fail or to be wicked. When we have been weighed and found wanting, let us remember that we were measured before and were found equal to our tasks; and therefore, let us continue but with a more determined discipleship."Elder Neal A. Maxwell, A More Determined Disciplship

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Face to the Pavement

I had to share a funny thing that happened in my primary class today. It shows a fundamental difference in not just how males and females act, but how they think about and see the same things differently. I just had to laugh even though the children had no idea why.

I asked the children in class if any of them wanted to share an experience about a time someone helped them in some way. One of the boys started sharing a time when he was on his bike and the bike stopped suddenly for some reason and he flipped over the handlebars, landing with his face on the asphalt. Suddenly all 4 of the other boys started asking, "Was the chain jammed?" "Did the pedals stick?" and all these questions about the bike and how it happened, while the girls gasped and said, "I bet that hurt!" "Were you okay?" "Did you have to go to the hospital?"

Think we'll ever figure out how to blend the two? Of course, there are reasons for our differences, to help us complete our different responsibilities and are caused by biological differences. It sure leads to big laughs sometimes though.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spicy Chicken Wonton Tacos

Music break before the recipe---- Introducing the fun music of The Brocks. I saw Dane and Grant Brock (lead singers) sing/play at BYU Guitars Unplugged a few weeks ago. I had already heard their music lots of times on Reverbnation.com (of course, if you know me!). They are from the UK, but are around Provo. And this week they'll even be playing (even though their name isn't yet on the list) with some other local singers I like at Shops at the Riverwoods. You can "Like" them on Facebook and get updates too. Their music makes me smile.


Now the recipe...
Wowzers!!! This is one of my new favorite foods. Elisa thinks it's because I didn't eat breakfast or lunch so I was especially hungry by the time I finally made this for dinner tonight. She liked it, but thought I over-reacted about how good it was. Alexander doesn't like won tons, which is strange because he likes most Asian food. Well, we each have our own taste. And I LOVE this one. Apparently it's a copy cat of an Applebee's dish, but I have never had them. It isn't one you can eat all the time (very fried), but it's a fun dinner or party food for occasionally.
This is supposed to be spicy, but my children do not eat spicy foods, so I used green chilis and was only going to sprinkle the red pepper flakes on my tacos, but I forgot. Yeah, I was that hungry. I found this at Life as a Lofthouse where Holly posts lots of delish food. Check her out.
Spicy Chicken Wonton Tacos

5-7 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 T. sesame oil
1 pkg. coleslaw
1/4 c. diced red onion
1 (4-oz) can of diced jalapeños
1/2 T. crushed red pepper flakes
Asian dressing/marinade
1 pkg. square wonton wrappers
1 c. canola oil
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
Limes

In a large bowl, mix together the cole slaw, cilantro and diced red onion. Strain the can of jalepeños, and add desired amount into the cole slaw mix. 

Pour the Asian dressing into the coleslaw mix. ( I used about 1/4 cup). Mix well, cover and refigerate for at least one hour. At the same time, place chicken breasts in a large bowl and coat with desired amount of Asian dressing/marinade. Cover and refrigerate one hour.
Grill chicken breasts for atleast 8 minutes or until thoroughly cooked then cut into cubes.

Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once heated, add the cubed chicken and red pepper flakes. Stir fry for about 2 minutes or until chicken is hot and coated in oil. Remove chicken from skillet and then set on a large plate.

Add 1 cup of canola oil to the same skillet and heat over medium to med-low heat. Place a 'strip' of chicken down the center of two wonton wrappers. Fold up sides, like a taco. Using tongs, fry the 'taco' for at least 1 minute, turning to make sure both sides are cooked until golden brown and crispy.

Top each taco with the cole-slaw mixture and a squeeze of fresh lime.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Unexpected

Just wanted to do a quick shout out to my friends in MERIDIAN, Idaho, where a new LDS temple will be built. Cool announcement this morning! I have been through Meridian a few times and am excited for the people there.

Also thought I'd share this music. It is different from what I usually listen to, but had clicked "Play All" on a list of local artists. Rob Atomic is in Provo and creates Electronica/ Dance / LDS /Christian music, according to his page on Reverbnation. Take a listen to "Joy in the Journey" and see if you recognize the voice (if you're LDS). And I bet you can guess who you'll hear on Dieter Disco. Just a fun change-it-up way to listen to a good message. Happy conference weekend to all my LDS friends!


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 ...