Sunday, January 29, 2012

Balsamic Chicken with Pesto Gravy

I listened to a great talk online today and I would love to share it with you, but I don't have time to write my thoughts. I doubt I'll have any time to until next Sunday. Recipes are quick to post though, so I'll share this one that I found in a Rachel Ray cookbook from the library. So glad to find another fast recipe for the crazy weeknights. The pesto gravy is flavorful and delicious! It is in my recipe file to make again.
Balsamic Chicken with Pesto Gravy
2 chicken breasts
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 bunches arugula, thoroughly washed
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Parmigiano Reggiano shavings
2 T. butter
1 T. flour
1 1/2 c. chicken stock
1/3 c. heavy cream or half-and-half
1/4 c. homemade or store-bought pesto
Thin spaghetti pasta
Heat a large skillet over high heat with a little drizzle of EVOO. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over top of chicken and season with a little salt and pepper.
Transfer the chicken to the hot sauté pan, seasoned-side down, and cook on each side for about 2 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, combine the arugula/spinach, with the juice of half a lemon, a drizzle of EVOO and a little bit of salt in a bowl. Remove chicken from the skillet and reserve on a plate while you make the sauce.
To the sauté pan add butter and melt. Add flour and cook for about a minute or so. Whisk in chicken stock and cream and bring up to a simmer to thicken.
Remove from heat and add the pesto to the skillet. Stir to combine. Pour pesto gravy over the chicken and then top with the arugula/spinach. With a peeler shave some Parmigiano over the greens, season with a little salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Brian Bingham

It's been a while since I posted music, so I'll fix that today. I found local singer Brian Bingham (and his band) on Reverbnation. He classifies his genre as Acoustic Indie Folk. I've had this song, Beat, on my play list for a while now and he just came out with a little video for it. He has the kind of voice that gives me chills and I love when he sings the duet parts with the female singer (I think Holly Morrison, but I don't know). Remember how I love DUETS

Watch the video and then go below to listen to more of his music. He has a new song posted on Reverbnation (link above) that isn't on his tune widget below if you'd like to head over there and listen to it and watch some of his live videos too.

"Surrounded by death taking its toll
Feels like fate has lost control."


Sunday, January 22, 2012


Back when I was 21, I was a substitute teacher in Orem, Utah. I sometimes worked at an elementary school and sometimes at the high schools. It was back when I looked very young. Sometimes the students didn’t believe I was the substitute and I was even stopped in the hallway and asked to show my hall pass a few times. (Those days are long gone, sadly.) I substituted in Spanish, French, biology, English, all classes I could handle.

Until one day, I got a phone asking me to substitute in the weight training class. WHAT? I have never been athletic and knew nothing about weight lifting equipment. The secretary on the phone assured me that I didn’t have to know anything because the students do. I just needed to be there (babysit). I could do that.

When I got there, I found out that it was a boy’s weight lifting class. The young men did know what to do. It was so funny to see them talking to each other about “guy stuff” and challenge each other and show off. Someone in the class came and told me that they always watch MTV during class. Well, I’m not stupid. I know students lie to the substitutes all the time. But I was 21 and bored and I wanted to hear music, so I told them they could turn it on.

I have to admit that back then I was not as careful as I should have been with the music I listened to. I never watched rated R movies or any that I felt wasn’t appropriate, but I wasn’t as particular with music. (Now I don’t even watch MTV, so I have changed my ways.) I wasn’t even watching the videos, but I was listening to the music while making sure the kids didn’t throw dumbbells or whatever. Suddenly, one of the young men got up and turned the TV off. Silence.

With the music stopped, I looked up. I remember him saying something to his friends in the class about the trash on TV, but I can’t remember what he said. Not a person complained or tried to turn it back on. I felt so bad. I was the adult in the room and I felt like I was a pretty good person. I let Satan into that room with all those youth who I was in charge of. I didn’t notice what was on the video, but I should have been paying attention. I wish I could go back in time and not do that…or at least to tell that young man that he was my hero and would be for years to come.

I still often think about how that young man stood up for what he knew was right, in that room where everyone was trying to prove how strong they were, how big their muscles were. In that room, he showed what a man he really was, what a good priesthood holder he was, what wonderful boyfriend/husband/father material he was for some young woman. 

Today, I was watching some videos of Andrew Horton’s talk from a BYU Education Week. If you’ve never heard of him, he has several youth talks on CD like Laugh It Up!, Building a 3D Testimony (I haven’t heard this one yet), Getting Past Imperfect (have it) and several others. Funny and spiritual. Well, while I was watching this series of videos from his talk today, Andrew Horton suddenly tells a story that seems identical to the one I just told you AND it was in Orem in a weight lifting class. Could it be the same young man? Mine was years ago so maybe it was another young man in the same exact situation who did exactly the same awesome thing. Wow! If you don’t believe me, check out the story he tells 2 minutes 50 seconds into it. It is video 10 of a series of 13, so you could go to You Tube and watch all of them if you’d like. (Once you watch this one, you'll want to go watch them all with your family. I just know it.)

I wanted to invite all of you to write a blog post on a hero you know or have just seen and don’t even know and then I was going to have a link-up to them here, but I can;t find a free one like I used before. But if you do write a post, please leave a link to it in my comments here and I’ll add your link to the post! Then we can all be uplifted by people who are not afraid of standing up for what’s right or for living their lives the way they should be even when they think no one is watching because that’s who they are.

Finally, I just wanted to close with a song, of course.

Hero by Sanctus Real

You might think, you'll never be the one to save the day
Or do anything that matters in the world
But God can take your ordinary life and do great things
When you step out in faith

You don't need to be the biggest in life
Don't need to be the strongest to fight for what's right
Cause a hero's great for who they are inside
Don't need to be the tallest in line
You could be the smallest in size
And if your heart's right, you could be our hero tonight

So will you take, the little that you have, and make a change
For the weak and helpless in the world
If your embrace the journey thats before you, lead the way
Your faith will guide you
And in your weakness, you will find your strength

Don't need to be the biggest in life
Don't need to be the strongest to fight for what's right
Cause a hero's great for who they are inside
Don't need to be the tallest in line
You could be the smallest in size
If your heart is right, you could be our hero

And if you feel afraid, when the road ahead looks hard
Follow your heart

You could be the flame, for a world that fears the dark
Brighter than the stars

Don't need to be the biggest
Don't need to be the strongest
To do what's right
Cause hero's are great for who they are inside
Don't need to be the tallest in line
You could be the smallest in size
And if your heart is right, you could be our hero.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Oregano-Lemon Chicken

I found this recipe in a Taste of Home cookbok. I was so glad to find a fast dinner recipe that I could throw together after classes. This semester my schedule makes it hard for me to spend much time on dinner, but we still have to eat. It's good practice for when I enter the real working world.
Oregano-Lemon Chicken
6 chicken thighs
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano

Place the chicken in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Combine the lemon juice, honey, oil, garlic and oregano; pour over chicken.  

Bake, uncovered at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees F and chicken juices run clear, basting occasionally with pan juices.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Spinach And Cheese Cupcakes

I found this recipe in a cookbook quite some time ago and copied it, but never tried it until recently. I didn't write the name of the cookbook unfortunately. They made several more than 12 minis for me, but I forgot to write down how many it did make. I really liked these and they make a cute side dish or appetizer.

Spinach And Cheese Cupcakes
Nonstick olive oil spray
1/2 c. bread crumbs or instant potato flakes
1/2 c. chopped onion, frozen or fresh
1 c. refrigerated prepared mashed potatoes
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 t. minced garlic, jarred or fresh
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 c. milk, 2% or whole
2 large or extra-large eggs
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese or shredded Swiss cheese

Preheat the oven to 375°. Coat 12 cups of a mini-muffin tin with oil spray and dust with bread crumbs or instant potato flakes.

Coat a nonstick skillet with oil spray and warm the skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 4 minutes.

Combine the sauteed onions, mashed potatoes, spinach, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix in the milk and eggs until blended and stir in the cheese.

Fill each muffin cup with 2/3 cup of the potato mixture and bake for 25 minutes, until browned and set.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Glazed Donut Holes

These are called donut holes even though they are made in mini muffin pans. Hmmmm. I don't know why they aren't muffins, but whatever they are called, they are really tasty. This definitely isn't health food, but compared to other donut holes which are fried, they are lower in fat. I like the texture and they aren't dense. And two out of three of my children like them. Pretty good for our house. Thanks to Burnt Apple for posting this one.
 Pumpkin Spice Glazed Donut Holes

1 3/4 c. whole wheat or unbleached all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. allspice or ginger
1/8 t. ground cloves
1/3 c. applesauce
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
3/4 c. canned plain pumpkin
1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly grease and flour 36 mini muffin cups.

In a mixing bowl, place your dry ingredients and mix them together until well blended.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the applesauce, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and buttermilk. Whisk until mixture is well incorporated and smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredient mixture. Stir until just combined. Do not over-stir!
Place approximately 1 tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven, then wait 5 minutes for muffins to cool slightly. Remove muffins to cooling rack to finish cooling. Glaze once muffins have cooled.

Makes approximately 36 muffins.
Pumpkin Spice Muffin Glaze:
2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. milk
1 t. vanilla

*Tip: Place parchment paper or aluminum foil under your cooling rack for quick and easy cleanup!

In a saucepan, mix together the milk and powdered sugar over low-medium heat until mixture becomes warm. Slowly dip each donut hole into the glaze, turning until donut hole is completely covered in glaze. Remove donut hole with a slotted spoon, allowing excess glaze to drip back into the saucepan. Place glazed donut back on cooling rack to allow glaze to harden and excess to drip off. Continue glazing donuts until completed.

TO FREEZE: Place donuts in single layer on cookie sheet in freezer for approximately 1/2 - 1 hour. Transfer donuts to a freezer safe bag for storage and label. Pull out desired amount of donuts and place in lunchbox frozen. Donuts will thaw by lunchtime!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I Am Such a Slow Learner

This morning as I was getting ready for church, I listened to the BYU  Broadcasting Talk of the Day online. Today it is True Believers In Christ by Neal A. Maxwell from a talk he gave at BYU in 1980. Of course, it’s a wonderful talk with so many things that touched me, but I’ll just share a few.
Don't you love this photo of Elder Maxwell with his grandchildren?

"To begin with, the true believer, notwithstanding his weaknesses, is settled in his basic spirituality. He is settled, to use another of Alma's phrases, in his "views of Christ" (Alma 27:28), so his views of everything else are put in that precious perspective."

I believe that I am a true believer. I am an imperfect one, but I am a trying-really-hard true believer. I know that there is no part of my life that isn’t affected by my eternal perspective because it is a part of me, how I see things and how I make my decisions.

Elder Maxwell lists 13 characteristics of a true believer. I do much better at some of them then others, but the thing that he said that struck a chord with me was even before the list.

"Becoming a true believer, however, means trusting not only in the Lord's plan for all of mankind but especially trusting in His unfolding and particularized plan for each of us. This means much more than merely acknowledging that God is in charge….

"Our fully "harmonious relationship" with God must also reckon, however, with the episode of the young man who told the Savior that he had kept all the commandments from his youth. Jesus then gave him a very customized challenge: to go and sell all that he had, giving the proceeds to the poor and then taking up the cross and following the Savior. Doing so, indicated the Savior to the young man, would take care of the "one thing thou lackest" (Mark 10:21). The good and decent young man went away sorrowing because he could not meet that customized challenge; he was clearly an admirer of Jesus, but not a true believer in Christ. Nor are we, if we shrink from our customized challenges.

"Indeed, would that some of us, like the young man, lacked just one thing. But having a healthy awareness of that which we yet "lack" can be a needed spur. We may have proved, for instance, that we can play checkers, but are we now ready to play chess? Are we willing to let the Lord lead us into further developmental experiences? Or do we shrink back? The things which "greatly enlarge the soul" inevitably involve stretching."

OUCH! I am trying to be a true believer, but I am not yet to the point where my first reaction to hard challenges is anything other than wanting to shrink back. I'm comforable enough without the stretching or learning to play chess. (Well, I do play chess, but you know what I mean.) I do believe in our Father’s plan for all of us in this life and the next. But I am weak when it comes to “trusting in His unfolding and particularized plan for” me. I feel like things have gone wrong, whether by accidents, people’s use of their agency, or whatever and that somehow Heavenly Father’s plan for me has been disrupted.

Really?? How can it be that the omnipotent, omniscient, loving Father does not have the power or desire to guide me right where I should be if I am striving to be obedient? At times of weakness and sorrow, I ask myself, “Well, do you believe or don’t you?”

"If he is given a "thorn in the flesh," he does not demand to see the rose garden."

Oh, how I wish to see that rose garden sometimes to make everything feel alright. How impatient I am. I know that in the end, in the next life, all wrongs will be righted and all sorrows will turn to joys, but I want to know that it will happen in this life, that I won’t have to go for the next decades of my life on earth without holding that beautiful rose. This is a stirring reminder that as a believer, I need to let go of that desire.
Lead Kindly Light by Richard Lance Russell

When I read this quote below, I remembered that I had this quote in my quote file and in my heart already.
"Let the kaleidoscope of life's circumstances be shaken, again and again, and the 'true believer of Christ' will still see 'with the eye of faith' divine design and purpose in his life."
Then I looked through my blog history and noticed that I already blogged about this quote, which I had read in one of Elder Maxwell’s books. (If you wanna read that post, click HERE.) This is another time I am so grateful to have my blog and be able to go back and read my thoughts and feelings. I am a bit sad to see that I wrote that in 2008 and I still have the same weakness, but I can only go forward and continue to work on it, and work and work.

Close to the end of his talk, Elder Maxwell leaves this beautiful imagery.

Father, Forgive Them by Eric J. Heywood
"Let us, brothers and sisters, seek to become such true believers in Christ. Let us make our way, righteously and resolutely, notwithstanding our weaknesses, to the beckoning City of God. There, the sole and self-assigned gatekeeper is Jesus Christ. He awaits us at the gate not only to certify us--but because His deep, divine desire brings Him there to welcome us. "He employeth no servant there" (2 Ne. 9:41). If we acknowledge Him now, He will lovingly acknowledge us then."

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 ...