Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pomegranate Vinaigrette Steak Sandwiches

I decided to use the Pomegrante Vinaigrette from the Chicken, Spinach, and Blueberry Salad that I made recently on a steak sandwich. Since they're just sandwiches, I don't have exact amounts for a recipe, but this is what I put together. It was easy and tasty!
Pomegranate Vinaigrette Steak Sandwiches

Thinly sliced beef, grilled or cooked
Olive oil
Thinly sliced red onions
Sliced mushrooms
Lettuce or spinach
Garlic, chopped
Balsamic vinegar
Pomegranate Vinaigrette (click for recipe)
Ciabatta rolls, split

Heat olive oil in small skillet. Sauté mushrooms and red onions until onions are translucent.

Mix mayonnaise, splashes of balsamic vinegar to taste and garlic in small bowl. Spread on split rolls.

Drizzle warm beef with generous amounts of Pomegranate Vinaigrette. Place beef on rolls. Top with mushroom/onion mixture and other sandwich toppings. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Isaac Russell

Although he isn't new to music, Isaac Russell from Provo is new to my music list because he recently sang at Velour in Provo. I didn't get to be there, but Velour posted the first video below and it introduced him to me. Of course, then I looked on Reverbnation and found him there. I like his sound and guitar playing.
Isaac started playing the guitar to be like his brother, but didn't like his voice, so he wouldn't sing. Glad he started singing and sharing his voice. He came out with his first album when he was in high school and then later was signed on with Columbia Records and came out with his album (MP3 is only $3.99) in 2010. His mother died of cancer when he was only 15 and if you go to his site (link above) and watch the "Elizabeth" trailer, you'll see that influence . I'm not sure how old he is now, but he is still very young.


Sunday, February 19, 2012


 “Happiness is the object and design of our existence."

Do you know who said this? Probably many of you do or you figured it out from the picture below. It was Joseph Smith. I have noticed that some people have used this part of the quote to rationalize the worldy view of selfishness and doing what makes you happy, even at the expense of others or of keeping commandments and covenants. Heavenly Father wants me to be happy and I am not happy unless I have my cigarette. I'm not paying tithing because I'm saving for a vacation. I am not happy spending 3 hours in church every week. Wearing beautiful clothes makes me feel good about myself and makes me happy, even if they are immodest.

Heavenly Father does want us happy, but they forget about the rest of the quote.

“Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God”
Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 255–56

How does he teach us that we can feel that true happiness? By following the guidelines he gives us to be able to feel the Holy Ghost while we are here, be able to use the atonement of Christ, and to be worthy to return with him. If we seek happiness any other way, it may feel good for a while, but it does not lead to true, lasting happiness. There will be a day when we will be able to see everything in its true light.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to feel real joy, not just in the next life, but now. Real joy can only come from doing what we know He wants us to do and from repenting often of our missteps. We must pursue the only path that leads to that happiness.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Peanut Butter Fudge Pretzel Brownies

I like salty and sweet combinations and chocolate and peanut butter combinations and this is both. I found it at The Sweet Spot. It is pretty similar to one I made before called Super Peanut Butter Filled Brownies, but those didn't have pretzels. I actually just used the Chewy Cocoa Brownies recipe I posted before instead of the one I found with the recipe since it called for coffee. I'm sure you can use your favorite recipe or even a boxed mix if you like them. I was a little disappointed because I expected a crunchy pretzel crust, but it was a little soggy and very crumbly, but still good. It might be because I made the crust and brownies and put them in the pan, and then stuck it in the refigerator until the next day when I baked it. So probably my fault.   

Peanut Butter Fudge Pretzel Brownies 

Pretzel Crust
3 c. crushed pretzels
3/4 c. melted butter

Combine in a bowl then press into the bottom of a greased 9x13" pan. Set aside.

1 2/3 c. sugar
¾ c. butter, melted
2 T. water
2 large eggs
2 t. vanilla
1 1/3 c. flour
¾ c. cocoa
½ t. baking powder
¼ t. salt
¾ c. chopped nuts (optional)
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine sugar, butter and water in large bowl. Stir in eggs and vanilla extract. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in medium bowl; stir into sugar mixture. Stir in nuts. Spread into prepared baking pan on top of pretzel crust. Bake for 18 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky.

Peanut Butter Frosting
2 c. melted peanut butter
1 c. powdered sugar
1 T. vanilla extract

Mix until smooth and spread over hot brownies. Chill brownies in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chicken, Spinach, and Blueberry Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

You wouldn't know it by the recipes I post here, but my favorite main dishes are salads. My kids aren't as in love with them as I am, so I don't make them as often as I would like. I spotted this one at and have been waiting to make it since. I just gotta say, "Wowza!!!" This salad is so good and so pretty. I'll be trying this vinaigrette on even more things now. I used Feta cheese instead of blue cheese and I added pecans on my plate. So glad we have some left over so I can eat more today. 

Chicken, Spinach, and Blueberry Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
8 chicken breast tenders (about 3/4 pound)
1 1/2 t. coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 t. salt
8 c. bagged baby spinach
1/2 c. thinly sliced red onion
1 c. fresh blueberries
1/4 c. (1 ounce) crumbled blue cheese
Pomegranate Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Heat a grill pan or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with pepper and salt. Coat chicken with cooking spray, and add to pan. Cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until done.
Divide spinach evenly on each of 4 serving plates; drizzle evenly with Pomegranate Vinaigrette. Arrange chicken, onion, and blueberries evenly over spinach. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.

Pomegrante Vinaigrette
1/2 c. pomegranate juice
3 T. sugar
3 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. canola oil
1 t. grated orange rind  

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir with a whisk until blended.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

King Noah Blindness

I first listened to King Noah Blindness and the Vision of Seers more than a year ago and I’m just getting around to writing a post on it. You’ve probably heard of S. Michael Wilcox before. He’s written many books and has talks on CD like this one. I was surprised when I looked at my past posts that the only one I’ve posted about is Trying to Walk on Water. Hopefully I’ll get around to writing about more of them soon and I’m actually reading another of his books right now.

In high school I took AP English and learned to recognize literary techniques like foreshadowing, irony and motifs. Those types of things can add layers to a book and help the reader understand even more about the message. Brother Wilcox talks about how Heavenly Father’s writings (the scriptures) use literary devices too. He mentions how before all the stories in Mosiah, including the story of King Noah and Abinadi, we are given a hint of what to look for in the rest of the book of Mosiah when we read this in Mosiah 8:20.
“…yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the children of men…”

Brother Wilcox says that this signals the reader to look for things with eyes and seeing. Jumping ahead to the story of King Noah starting in Mosiah 11. It explains that Noah was a wicked man who surrounded himself with the wicked priests. Brother Wilcox suggests that we look at “the people” in this history, not just at the main players. In verse 7, it says of the people:

Yea, and they also became idolatrous, because they were deceived by the vain and flattering words of the king and priests; for they did speak flattering things unto them.
Even though the king and priests were wicked, the people accepted them because they “justified the people in their iniquity” and are soothsayers, telling the people what they want to hear, that it is okay to commit sin because it isn’t bad. It’s natural. It’s natural to commit adultery, to talk dirty to someone you’re not married to, to be selfish and take care of yourself, to steal from others, to wear immodest clothes…, all of the things that still trouble “the people” in the world today.  

Then along comes Abinadi who loves God and loves the people so he tries to teach them the consequences of their actions if they do not stop and repent. Do the people want to hear that they are wrong? Of course not.

So Brother Wilcox talks about how important it is for all of us to learn to recognize the Noahs and the Abinadis in our lives. I’m sure you’ve noticed how someone who starts to go down the wrong path pushes away his parents, leaders or friends who try to warn him of the dangers and consequences his actions will lead to. He thinks of them as the enemy who is just judging him, when they really have his best interest in their hearts. Instead, he thinks of those people who tell him that his bad decisions and sins are natural and good are his friends.

Brother Wilcox relates a similar type of relationship in the story of Jezebel and Ahab . Jezebel supported Ahab in his wickedness and Ahab thought she was his “best friend” because she told him everything wrong he was doing was good and she gave him everything he wanted. Then when Elijah comes to help him see the consequences of his actions so that he will repent and be able to feel of God’s love and peace, what is Ahab’s response to him in 1 Kings 21?

Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?

In the CD, Brother Wilcox asks, “Who really loves Ahab and has his eternal happiness at heart? Who is his worst enemy? The true friend will never try to persuade you to disobey your Father in Heaven. They will always encourage you to walk that straight and narrow path. They will not try to broaden it.”

So back to the story of King Noah… The king and priests (except Alma), seek to kill Abinadi. 

Mosiah 11:29 Now the eyes of the people were blinded 

They burn Abinadi and the people continue to follow their wicked king, even when the Lamanites are coming to attack and he orders the men to leave behind their women and children and save themselves. (To make a long story short—er) They run into the wilderness, still blind to the truth. They realize they are safe and then the consequences of their selfish actions. They suddenly and finally see King Noah for what he really is and their sight returns. They burn King Noah to his death. 

This is what Brother Wilcox calls a “Noah Moment”. He said that as a bishop and on disciplinary councils he has seen people have a “Noah moment” when they regain sight and suddenly it hits them. They so often say, “Oh, no. What have I done?” He says that so many times he has heard a young woman confess to immorality and suddenly he sees the young man in a different light and often says, “I hate him for what he did to me.” Some people recognize who the Noah and the Abinadi in our lives are too late.
Satan can deceive us and make us think that what we are doing isn’t that bad or blind us of the eternal consequences that do surely follow. Brother Wilcox mentions that one of the dangers of Noah Blindness is that even after our sight returns and we repent, the consequences sometimes show up later. The atonement is real and repentance is a beautiful gift, but some consequences do not disappear when we repent. If someone does something illegal, that may stay on his record. Repentance won’t erase that. If someone takes drugs, she may have health problems later because of it.

Brother Wilcox tells of a story of a young college student he knew who confessed to her problems with immorality. She repented and, as he describes her, was as pure and innocent as any other girl who never had the same problem. She became engaged, but when she told her fiancée of her past, he broke off the engagement. The consequences of her past actions affected her.

When those who love us warn us of the road we are going down, it is because they can see those things down the road that we might be blinded to. I have actually heard some people say that leaders are “threatening” them, when what they are doing is warning them of the outcomes they are building with their choices. We need to be careful to be “cheerfully submissive” and humble enough to listen to those who can help us see because most all of us will have (and have had) some kind of Noah Blindness. Hopefully we can recognize it before it becomes serious and we can take advantage of the atonement sooner rather than later.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Spicy Beef & Broccoli Pinwheels

I first made this recipe many years ago and it's in my regular recipe rotation. I really like the taste and it looks so pretty. I used red onions instead of green onions, but followed the recipe besides that. Make sure to wait until it's time to serve before spooning the beef and broccoli over the puff pastry or it will get soggy.

Spicy Beef & Broccoli Pinwheels
1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package puff pastry sheets (1 sheet), thawed according to package directions
2 T. cornstarch
1 3/4 c. beef broth
1 T. soy sauce
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 t. vegetable oil
1 lb. boneless beef sirloin steak
4 c. broccoli florets
2 green onions, sliced (about 1/4 cup)

Heat the oven to 400°F. Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Cut the pastry sheet into 4 squares. Using a sharp knife, cut diagonal lines from the corners of the pastry squares to within 3/4 inch of the center. Fold every other corner to the center and press to seal. Place the pastries onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.

Stir the cornstarch, broth, soy sauce and red pepper in a medium bowl until the mixture is smooth.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and stir-fry until it's well browned. Remove the beef from the skillet. Pour off any fat.

Heat the remaining oil in the skillet. Add the broccoli and onions and stir-fry until they're tender-crisp.

Stir the cornstarch mixture in the skillet. Cook and stir until the mixture boils and thickens. Return the beef to the skillet. Cook until the beef is cooked through. Serve the beef mixture over the pastries.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Taylor Olson

I recently saw these videos from Taylor Olson singing her original songs and knew I wanted to share them with you. I've been listening to her music for a while now. Then I noticed that I did share her music already in June, but she added some new music so I want to share it. I really like the song "Why Did I Let Myself Fall?"  She's a talented singer, piano and guitar player, song writer, BYU student (and I'm sure much more). She wrote to me that if you go to her website, you can get a FREE download of a song from her soon-to-be released EP. Hope to hear when the EP release concert is and I'll share it with you.

If you like her awesome music and live in Utah, plan on heading over to Provo Raintree Apartment Clubhouse on February 17th!! Get the info here HERE!


Sunday, February 5, 2012

How to Fit Through the Eye

I have so many wonderful talks I've listened to online and on CD that I'll never get to share all of them with you and it's always hard to know which one to choose next since I don't get time to blog much anymore. Today I'll share one that I listened to last week since it's the one I've been thinking about. It's called Why We Sometimes Suffer: Some Scriptural Examples to Help Us through Trying Times by Thomas A. Wayment, a professor at BYU who is the author and co-author of several books. (Click on his name to see a list of them.) The talk is from BYU Education Week in 2009. Unfortunately, there is no transcript of the talk available so I had to type quotes the best I could as I was listening to it several times, so my quotes might not be quite exact. Go listen to the whole thing becuase it's great.

Brother Wayment talks about how we sometimes don’t view trials as coming from our Heavenly Father. Rather we might see them as Satan trying to thwart our progression or ruin our plans.

“I have always been disturbed by the fact that so much of our progress might be placed in the hands of an evil being. Meaning that if all difficulty in my life is really the result of some Satanic force then literally, he is helping me progress and I don’t like that.”

I know that in my life I have a tendency to see trials and categorize them. Some of my trials have come because of how others have decided to use their agency and I have thought that it did not come from Heavenly Father so it “messed things up” and it wasn’t what Heavenly Father wanted for me. But I know that our Heavenly Father has ultimate control and power and can see the end from the beginning. If we let him guide us, we can end up right where he wants us, no matter what obstacles are thrown in our way. “…We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” So it doesn’t matter if the trial is sent from Heavenly Father, the result of someone’s negligence or use of agency or why the things happened to us, Heavenly Father can always use them to help us progress if we let him and if we work for it.

In Mark 10, we read about the rich young man who came to talk to Jesus to find out what he else needed to do to get into heaven. He told Jesus that he kept all the commandments since he was a small boy, showing that he was a righteous person and it appears he really did have a desire to do what was right and to return to live with our Heavenly Father. But when Jesus tells him to sell everything and give it to the poor and follow him, he is sad because it is the one thing that is too difficult for him to do.   

Brother Wayment talks about how each of us if we are serious about our discipleship will be asked to give up some customized sin or weakness. He even talks about Elder Neal A. Maxwell talking about this, like I just quoted in a recent post. We don’t know if this young man left and realized that he should listen to our Savior and repented of his unwillingness, being forever grateful for that decision and all of the blessings he received because of them. Or he may never have done what the Lord asked of him, wondering forever what if he had been obedient. What will each of us do when our Father asks us to be obedient in our personally customized commandment, the one thing we lack most?  

Jesus told the disciples that it “is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”. We know that it isn’t because money is bad, but that those who love money more than God will have a hard time being a true follower of Christ. However, any weakness we have can keep us from going through that needle if we let it keep us from the Spirit and from becoming what Heavenly Father is trying to help us to become. Brother Wayment’s discussion on this is very interesting.

Here’s my mostly correct transcription of this part of his talk, where he is talking about how only Heavenly Father can make a camel, and us,  fit through the eye of a needle.  

“If you ever get it through somehow, it’s gonna look different, isn’t it? When you get through the eye of the needle, you are going to look different. You’ll be different. You’ll have to change your shape. You’ll have to change who you are. I think the Lord is shaping up and has us in his hands.”

It doesn’t sound like it will be a comfortable experience to be squished and pushed and pulled through that eye, but, like he says, we will have been changed and we will be different. Different in a wonderful way that we cannot expect if we do not go through trials that help mold us and stretch us. Different in a way we cannot now imagine.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Peruvian Grilled Chicken

Today didn't go as planned, but what does lately? I planned on getting up early, reviewing for my organic chemistry test and taking it in 2 hours or less, running home to make a birthday cake for my nephew and then spending the whole rest of the day doing homework so I could get to sleep before 2 am every day next week.

Well, I slept in until almost 8:00 and took longer to review than I should have. Then I took 4 hours to take that test. That is a very long time. Ran home and started making the cake with my girls and realized I had no flour. Ran to the store and home. Continued making the cake and realized I had grabbed light margarine instead of regular earlier in the week. Decided to use it anyway and the frosting did not like it so it's just a glaze. Cake is all done and I'm taking a 10 minute breather here before I finally start my homework.

I found this recipe about a month ago on a blog that has since shut down so I can't link to it. My kids liked how tender the chicken is and I like that it's so easy. I used an indoor grill so it doesn't have all the pretty grill marks on it.

Peruvian Grilled Chicken
8 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 T. paprika
1 t. turmeric
1/2 t. cayenne 
1/2 t. ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste.
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c.rice vinegar.

Take a gallon zip back and throw garlic. Smash these well with a mallet. Now add paprika, turmeric, cayenne, ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Rub these together inside the bag. Then add canola oil, lemon juice and rice vinegar. Add chicken and place in the refrigerator to marinade for up to 4 hours. Grill until cooked through.

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 ...