Thursday, December 26, 2013

Lara Johnston

My music post today isn't of a local Utah artist, like my usual music features, and she isn't even a beginning singer, but probably some or most of my readers haven't heard of her yet. She is Lara Johnston, daughter of Doobie Brothers’ singer Tom Johnston. She was previously on MTV's Rock the Cradle and on American Idol. She has opened for acts like KISS and Heart, and has performed as a backing vocalist for artists like Don Henley and Belinda Carlisle. I first heard her on Reverbnation and added several of her songs to my playlist.

The song K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) is one of her original songs that really stuck in my head. She is a talented song-writer and singer and this song seems ready for the radio to me.

I also like "Last Time", "The Party's Over" and "The Girl Next Door".
Okay, I like lots of them. Take a listen and see which are your favorites.

*Just a quick note: Some of you might want to skip "I Don't Give A" like I do. From the little I heard, it doesn't have the swear word that people would finish that with, just a little pause.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Right for You

Just a couple of Sundays ago as I was getting ready for church, I was listening to several episodes of Mormon Channel Daily and this one stood out to me. It's an interview with Joe Fowler and Joe Sines, who made the recent Mormon Message that some of you may have already seen called Wrong Roads, in which Elder Jeffrey R. Holland retells a story that happened to him and his son in the Grand Canyon.
I won't tell the story since it is told so well in the video. It was originally told by Elder Holland's son Matthew Holland (currently the President of UVU in Orem) in the New Era (a gospel magazine for youth) in the article Wrong Roads and Revelation. It discusses how sometimes Heavenly Father may send us down a path that isn't the right one in order for us to know which is the right path.  

Joe Fowler and Joe Sines talk in the interview about making the video and even before that about how they were sometimes inspired to go down an alternative path before realizing it wasn't the right path. (Click on their names in the first paragraph to listen to the podcast.) One of the Joe's talks about how he and his wife felt that it was right for him to get a better job so they started to do all of the necessary things for that change. Then it was soon obvious that it wasn't working out and they needed to stay where they were and he needed to keep his job. Because of the confidence they felt that this was the right job, despite other good opportunities being out there, they were able to be happy where they were. If they had not started down the path (a few times) to other employment, they might not have been sure that they were where Heavenly Father wanted them to be.

Although it is not in the video, I appreciated that the 2 Joe's emphasized that when they spoke with Elder Holland for the video, he mentioned that Heavenly Father will not inspire you to sin. That is a different kind of wrong road and is only prompted to be taken by the Father of Lies. The type of wrong road that he is talking about is one that is a good option, just not the correct one for that person at that time. 

At the time I was listening to the interview, I hadn't seen the Mormon Message they had made, so right after listening to it, I searched for it and found it right away.


I really liked the message and decided that I would use it for a Family Home Evening message and told Alexander, my son, that I was going to use it, but didn't want to tell him about it until the lesson. I just said that I had watched it and it had a great message. Then we went to sacrament and my visiting teaching companion gave a great talk and talked about this video and its message. As she started to talk, I told my son not to listen because that was the video. (Of course, I was kidding.)

Then the next day one of my friends shared it on Facebook, and then another friend. It was a message that is for everyone, and one that I felt was very personal and needed for me. I love that Heavenly Father cares enough about us to want us to be happy, confident and sure about the road that is right for each of us.

We have so many choices in this life and so many difficult ones are not between good and evil, but between two or more that could be good. Only our Heavenly Father knows which one is truly right for us and He will guide us to that, sometimes directly and sometimes after a bit of winding around or going down a different road.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Overnight Blueberry French Toast Bake With Struesel Topping

I made this for a church Christmas breakfast that we had today. I got to try just a little piece of it. It was a hit and I had none to take home with me, so I will be making it again soon. Like next week. It is really delicious!

I found it at Serena Bakes Simply from Scratch . I followed the directions except for the struesel. Instead of using a baggie, I mixed it in my bowl using my hands. I didn't want any of it getting stuck in the baggie.

Overnight Blueberry French Toast Bake With Struesel Topping
1 loaf French Bread, ripped or cut into cubes
1 1/2 c. blueberries (If frozen thaw and drain juice.)
7 whole eggs
2 1/2 c. whole milk
1/4 c. pure maple syrup
3 t. vanilla extract
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. sea salt
1/2 c. cold butter, cut into 8 cubes

Grease a 9"x 13" baking dish.

Add 1/2 of French bread cubes and top with 3/4 cup blueberries to dish. Add remaining bread cubes and top with remaining 3/4 cup blueberries.

In a medium sized bowl combine eggs, milk, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Pour egg mixture over the top of bread and blueberries. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

In a gallon sized Ziploc bag add flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt. Close tightly and use fingers to thoroughly combine ingredients. Add butter and re-close bag. Use fingers to combine butter and sugar mixture until it resembles pea sized pieces. If butter becomes soft mixture, it will re-harden overnight in the refrigerator. Place Ziploc bag in the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, preheat oven to 350°.

Remove casserole and streusel topping from the refrigerator. Use fingers to crumble streusel topping over the top of the bread and blueberries.

Bake for 50 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Serve plain or with additional butter and maple syrup.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

From the Dust Giveaway

Salt Lake City Comic Con might not be the first place you’d expect to see LDS products, but this one was there and it was a hit!  It is Volume #1 of From the Dust, an LDS serial graphic novel. Yes, a comic book. A beautifully illustrated comic book that is meant to entertain, but also informs.
And the author/illustrator is my almost-brother-in-law. You haven’t you heard that term before? He is really my sister’s brother-in-law, but that makes him almost mine too, right? His name is Michael Mercer, a graduate from BYU, and he is very talented and has big ambitions with this series.

My daughter Sabrina, a comic book fanatic, has the 107-page print version of Volume #1 The Last King of Judah, but there is also a multi-touch edition for iPad and iPad mini that I’m sure kids would love. The printed book is good quality paper, not like the typical comic book. The illustrations are amazing. In this first volume, you are introduced to the series and to many of the characters with information about each one, like Jeremiah, Zedekiah, Lehi, and Nephi.  Then there are several pages that describe the geography, the “Dangerous Empires”.

Then we get to the 16-page storyline that starts with Jeremiah in this volume. The comic storyline is followed by scriptures and details to explain what is going on. It helps teach what is going on in the scriptures in a way younger and older children will enjoy and understand. There’s also a sneak peek at Volume #3.

When I first heard of this comic book, I thought it would be just for kids, but I learned several things reading it. There is a lot of good information included with all of the entertainment and it’s really meant for the whole family. Don't forget to check out the apparel available on the website.

I especially enjoy how Michael links the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon history and stories together. So often we study them separately even though they are part of the same history.
This is just the start to a whole series. Michael would like to expedite the release of Volume #2 and others so he started a Kickstarter  page.  He’s hoping to get more volumes out and eventually a series of movies. I love the idea of this being made into movies!

So go like From the Dust on Facebook. And order a hard copy or multi-touch edition for a great family Christmas present. Check out all the great reviews on Amazon so far. And you can also enter to win one print version of Volume #1 The Last Kind of Judah here right now. And I’ll throw in some popcorn and candy so you can enjoy some fun family time when you get it in the mail if you are the winner.
To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me one thing you are doing this Christmas season to remember our Savior in your home. And to help get the word out about From the Dust, if you share this information on Facebook or on your blog, leave a comment here letting me know that you did and I will give you 2 extra entries. Enter until Wednesday, December 11th at 11:59pm. I will choose a winner and post it here as soon as I can after. (I have finals that week and the next, but I will try to post it soon after.)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

BYU's Group for New Music

Last month was the first time that I went to a performance of BYU's Group for New Music, "an informal, occasional coalition of players who like to play unusual things written by living people." It truly was unusual music and it is so hard to explain, but I really liked it. I came home and looked up the names of the student composers and titles, but couldn't find any videos of them. I'm still working on that because I would love to share them with my son, who is in marching band, concert band, jazz band, percussion ensemble, music theory and music composition right now in high school.

Last night, I went to another of their performances and it was very different than the last one, but still as unusual. The group says that "one of the ensemble’s primary aims: to PROVOKE its members (both performers and those in the audience) to examine and broaden their definition of music." And I would like to pass on that objective, to help any readers I have to see music in a new way.

I actually found two of the pieces from last night online so you get a chance to learn about new music if you don't know about it yet. These two pieces are very different and the others I have heard have been very different from both of these too. This first one is called Entrada, composed by Stephen Scott. It's called a bowed piano technique, where they take the top off of the piano and use the piano like a string instrument. It was fun to see them do us right in front of us, where we stood around the piano, just steps away.

The second piece from last night that I found combines speech and music in an interesting and unique way. The composer, Scott Johnson, was a distinguished guest who spoke to the audience and had worked with the BYU students during his visit. Two of his pieces were performed. I couldn't find a video for the second, but you can hear a sample of it on Amazon and is called "Soliloquy From How It Happens (The Voice Of I.F. Stone)". You can hear samples from many of his other compositions on Scott Johnson's Scott Johnson's composition age.

I have no idea why the person who put the video on YouTube chose this photo for this, but it is the piece we heard with violin, cello, electric guitar, and piano, along with the speech.

So, I'm curious. What do you think about this small taste of New Music? If you want to learn more, the next performance I have found that is scheduled is at BYU's Madsen Hall in the HFAC December 6 at 7:30 and it's FREE.

BYU also has a Group for Experimental Music, that I haven't been to yet. They have a FREE performance this coming Thursday, November 21 7:30 at Madsen Recital Hall in the HFAC.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Crockpot Carne Asada Nachos

Kay, I know this isn't carne asada (a grilled steak), but that is the name from How Sweet It Is where this recipe is posted. It looked so good and easy. I made it a bit different. I had the meat cooked and then all the toppings (including Queso Fresco as the cheese) on the side since everyone likes different stuff. And I just cubed the avocado instead of making a guacamole. Lastly, I just served the tortilla chips on the side since I don't like when they get soggy under the juicy meat. It has lots of flavor and Elisa couldn't stop raving over it.

Crockpot Carne Asada Nachos

1.5 lb. flank steak
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 t. smoked paprika
1 t. onion powder
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. chili powder
1/4 t. ground cumin
2 T. olive oil
8 oz. beef broth
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1 ripe avocado
1 lime, juiced
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, torn
1 bag of tortilla chips
8 oz. of monterey jack cheese, freshly grated
1/2 c. sweet corn
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 c. sour cream or plain yogurt
In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder and cumin. Whisk it together to create a rub, then evenly pat it all over both sides of the flank steak. Heat a large skillet over high heat and add olive oil. Add the flank steak and sear it on both sides until it is golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the steak and place it in the crockpot. Cover it with beef broth and balsamic vinegar, then cover the pot and cook the steak on low for 6 hours.

After 6 hours, remove the steak from the liquid and place it on a cutting board to rest for 15 minutes. Slice against the grain, cutting it into thin strips - it may be tender from the crockpot and fall apart, and that is fine.

In a small bowl, mash the avocado with the lime juice, half of the cilantro and a pinch of salt. Set it aside.

Layer the chips on a baking sheet or dish. Cover them with half of the cheese, then add the corn and the steak. Add the rest of the cheese. Turn the broiler in your oven to high, and place the nachos underneath, cooking only until the cheese is golden and bubbly, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the nachos and immediately cover them with the tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream and remaining cilantro. Serve immediately.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Will I Recognize Myself?

If you know me, you know I’m a geek, even a double geek. I enjoy science and learning and I also I seem to see analogies and connections in strange places. A couple of months ago, I saw a connection in my biochemistry class that most people wouldn’t have thought about while sitting in class. I’m just that strange.
My professor, yep, the same one I quoted in the last post, was talking about activation energy diagrams, which we students are all familiar with from gen chem so we were just reviewing it. If you aren’t familiar with it, it just shows the reactants of a reaction on the left and the products, or what is made, on the right. In the middle is the activation energy, like the hill that has to be climbed before the change can be made from the reactants to the products.

While Dr. T was explaining this, I was thinking about how it is like us. We start off as one thing in this life and our potential is to be something else, something bigger and better. But in order to get there, we must pass through some hard things and go uphill for a long time. Without this uphill climb, we will remain the same. It’s easier not to try, but we get nowhere and our potential is never reached.
In many reactions, the activation energy required to pass over that hill is so high that the reaction would never happen without a catalyst. The catalyst helps the reaction happen and the reactants changed to the (at least in my analogy) bigger and better product while the catalyst is available to go off and catalyze another reaction. Of course, that catalyst for us is our Savior. Without Him, we could never get over the hills in this life or the biggest hill, to attain eternal life. With Him, we will be higher at the end than where we started. With Him, we can be changed to something better, whatever our individual potential is.
A few days after this class, with this still in my mind, I read the following quote by Haruki Murakami, a best-selling Japanese writer, from his book Kafka on the Shore, which I haven’t read. I love the imagery of this.
“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn't something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn't get in, and walk through it, step by step. There's no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That's the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

An you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You'll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about.”
Haruki Murakami,  Kafka on the Shore

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Don't Do It

I've been thinking a bit about something my biochemistry teacher said last week that isn't even going to be on the test. Telling us we should be sure to take the time to turn in a very easy homework assignment, he said, "Don't make yourself hate yourself."

I'd imagine we've all been there. We do something, big or small, that we regret and then can't stop beating ourselves up about it. How can we avoid it? Do what we know we should do. Of course, none of us is perfect, so that won't happen 100% of the time, but we really can avoid the big pitfalls by following the Spirit and using our knowledge of what Heavenly Father wants from us.

 So let's be smart and not hate ourselves and be happy. Easy message for today.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Berry Summer Salad

This fresh salad recipe comes from The Primitive Foodie. I love the bursts of flavor and color from all the ingredients. I added nuts and vinaigrette to mine. I made this a couple of weeks ago. I'm trying to hold onto summer as long as I can because I don't like the cold!

Berry Summer Salad
 1 c. rasperries
1 c. blackberries
Several sliced mushrooms (optional)
6 c. fresh spring mix or spinach
1/2 c. goat cheese or Feta cheese
3 T. olive oil
2 T. balsamic vinaigrette
Dash of salt

Toss greens in a bowl. Toss on top the rinsed fruit and diced avocado. Add cheese. In a small bowl, mix olive oil, and balsamic, and salt. Add to salad.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Raspberry Cream Cookies

I love berries! And this recipe uses frozen raspberries so I can enjoy them year-round. These stayed soft even two days after making and are really good! This recipe is from Monet at Anecdotes and Applecores.

Raspberry Cream Cookies
2 1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
12 T. butter, melted and cooled
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. frozen raspberries
1/2 c. chopped white chocolate

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar and melted butter (about 2 minutes). Add eggs and stir until combined. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir until a cookie dough begins to form. Fold in frozen raspberries and white chocolate. Allow batter to chill for 15-30 minutes in freezer.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325°. Remove batter from freezer and firm into large, 2-3 tablespoon sized balls of dough. Arrange on prepared cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes (cookies should look slightly undercooked). Allow to cool completely on cookie sheets before removing.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Grilled Peach Salad

I love peaches, but grilled peaches are divine! They are addicting. And this salad is simple, but so good. The recipe came from Feasting at Home, but the recipe had a much longer name. Since I didn't use most of the ingredients in the name, I just shortened it here. I didn't find purple basil or nasturtiums, and used feta cheese instead of goat cheese. You can throw in whatever delicious ingredients you like. I wish I had more peaches so I could make this again.
Grilled Peach Salad
3 Ripe, delicious smelling peaches, halved
6 o.z arugula (or other favorite green)
Slightly firm, mild sheep’s milk cheese, chèvre, or fresh goat cheese, or even queso fresco or fresh mozzarella (nothing too salty like feta)
1/8 c. Toasted slivered almonds
Purple basil leaves

White Balsamic Vinaigrette:
2 1/2 T. white balsamic vinegar
1 T. honey or agave
4 T. olive oil
Pinch salt
Cracked pepper
1. T fresh orange juice

Mix the vinaigrette ingredients together in a bowl or jar.
Half the peaches, scooping out pit. Brush with a little of the vinaigrette and place on a grill preheated to medium. Let grill for 4-6 minutes uncovered until they have noticeable grill marks. Using a metal spatula gently turn over and grill one more minute. Try to keep peach in tact. Cut peaches into wedges.

Toss greens and purple basil leaves and slivered almonds with some of the vinaigrette. You will have some left over. Make a bed of greens, and place grilled peaches on top and bits of cheese. Sprinkle witih purple basil and nasturtium petals

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The World Wants Me to Forget

I was sitting in the hair salon, waiting for a long time for my daughter’s cut and color, and I made the mistake of picking up a magazine.  I had been reading through some of the pages about which brand of lip gloss lasts longest and how to copy the hairstyles of several stars, when I came across an article that made me very sad. Actually, it made it a little sick to my stomach.

The page had tips of how to cover up your affair so your spouse wouldn’t know. “Put his number in your contacts under one of your friend’s names so if your husband sees when he calls, he won’t know.” Blah, blah, blah. (I won’t pass on the rest of the tips.)

Adultery has become so common place that editors and writers not only see this type of “advice” as normal, but as helpful and acceptable. It is so sad to me to know that this really is normal for so many people. Adultery has ruined so many families and hurt so many people and it just seems to be increasing. I know so many people who have been affected by it.

It has also saddened me to hear friends describe a favorite movie or book and when I mention that adultery is a major part of it, they say something like, “Well, yeah. But it’s so romantic.” Or “Yes, but his wife didn’t treat him well, so he was just finding love.” We’ll see (well, hopefully we won’t)  if you think it’s so romantic when your husband tells you about the true love he has found in someone else, or your best friend tells you she’s getting a divorce because she found out her husband has been having an affair. It’s not romantic. It’s wrong.

And there is no excuse for it. People who do it will rationalize it many different ways, but it doesn’t matter what they tell themselves. It is wrong.

Along with adultery, single people not keeping the law of chastity is sadly too common also. A few years ago, I joined a Facebook group of LDS singles, thinking it would be a good to connect to people like me. Some people were like me, but as in any group, some people weren’t. Some people were talking about how it is better to sleep with someone and find out if they are sexually compatible before marriage so they don’t have to get another divorce and then they just repent. There were people who didn’t agree with that thinking, but some who did. I wanted a group that would help me stand for truth in a difficult time and instead, I just got the same message that the world is quick to repeat.
The world wants me to forget the covenants I have made with my Heavenly Father. Those covenants are not conditional or temporary. The world wants me to forget the peace that comes only from following the commandments, all of them. They want me to forget the true and lasting happiness that comes when a loving family is together and when you think of the blessing of being an eternal family because of your love, covenants and obedience. The world wants me to forget the peace you have if you aren’t hiding things you’ve done, hoping no one finds out.

I will not forget what I have promised my Heavenly Father. I will not forget that blessings and power come from His grace when I am obedient. I will not forget how Satan wants to drag each of us down, and how he can ruin eternal families under the disguise of having “fun” now and not worrying about tomorrow, let alone eternity. I can keep my priorities right as I keep my eyes fixed on eternity and enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost, listen to His promptings and remain worthy of this blessing.  

I wrote this post and almost posted it on Saturday night, the first day of conference, but I didn’t have a photo to go with it. Then in the Sunday morning session Elder Oaks gave a talk that spoke about chastity and even mentioned the word “forget” so I’m including some of his words here.

“The importance we attach to the law of chastity explains our commitment to the pattern of marriage that originated with Adam and Eve and has continued through the ages as God’s pattern for the procreative relationship between His sons and daughters and for the nurturing of His children…

“I pray that we will not let the temporary challenges of mortality cause us to forget the great commandments and priorities we have been given by our Creator and our Savior. We must not set our hearts so much on the things of the world and aspire to the honors of men (see D&C 121:35) that we stop trying to achieve our eternal destiny. We who know God’s plan for His children—we who have made covenants to participate in it—have a clear responsibility. We must never deviate from our paramount desire, which is to achieve eternal life.”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, No Other Gods  Sunday morning session, LDS General Conference, Oct. 2013

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cookies

 Inside BruCrew Life has this recipe for this soft, fudgy cookies that are perfect for fall. I didn't find the Pumpkin Spice M&M's when I was at the store, so I just used regular ones. Sooooo chocolatey an pumpkiny and good. They were still soft and good the next day and the day after, then they were gone. Love the kind of cookies that are just as delish for a few days.

 Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cookies

1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. oil
1 c.  pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 T. vanilla extract
2 c.  flour
1/2 c. cocoa
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. salt
1 c.  mini chocolate chips
Pumpkin Spice M&M's
Preheat oven to 350°. In a mixing bowl cream the brown sugar and oil. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and cream again.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
Slowly mix into the pumpkin mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.
Drop by teaspoon onto a nonstick baking sheet. Press 5-6 M&M's onto the top of the dough close together. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 40 cookies. Store in a sealed container on the counter for 4-5 days.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Caleb Blood

I've been listening to Reverbnation a lot this week and wondering why I haven't done a local music post in a while. I have so many artists I want to feature still so I choose one today from the song that's been in my head. I've had Caleb Blood's song Lovely Obsession, along with others of his, on my playlist for a couple of years. Love it! Caleb is a BYU student and has been playing at Velour in Provo, The Wall at BYU and other places recently.

Check out his website (not updated much) or like him on Facebook to find out when he's playing next so you can check him out in person. He even had an article written about him recently in The Salt Lake Tribune. He has a great pop sound and his music sure sounds radio-ready and very catchy. He is very talented and I can't wait to see him make it big nationally.

Caleb's new album is called +one and you can listen to the whole album on Spotify (some songs are on the player below, but there are others too) or buy it from his website or on iTunes. Support artists so they can keep making music! And check out his older music there too! He also has a YouTube channel. How did I not blog about him before???

I've posted one of his videos and his Reverb Music Player where you can listen to several of his songs.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mini Caramel Glazed Apple Bread

I didn't get to my giveaway yet. I've been sick, just a cold, but still feeling yucky and have to push through it for classes, studying and my internship. I have several posts in the works (okay, in my head), but I'll have to catch up later. As as I post this, I'm watching the BYU-UofU game! Go, Cougars!!!
I made some mini loaves of this moist, easy quick bread to give to the ladies I visit teach and I still had lots extra. Culinary Concoctions by Peabody had this on their website and the photos made me drool! Great fall recipe, but I'll be making it year-long! 
Mini Caramel Glazed Apple Bread
1 1/2 c. shredded peeled apples
1 1/2 c. brown sugar, loosely packed
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
4 large eggs
3 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. salt
1 t. ground nutmeg

2 T. unsalted butter
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 T. apple cider
1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spray three mini pans (5.75L x 3.25W x 2.25H inches) with baking spray.

In large bowl, stir together apples, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, the buttermilk, oil and eggs. Stir in remaining bread ingredients just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour into pans (each pan takes 4 regular size ice cream scoops).

Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on cooling rack. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top sides up on cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

In 1-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in 1/4 cup brown sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly; reduce heat to low. Boil and stir 2 minutes. Stir in cider. Heat to boiling; remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm, about 30 minutes.

Gradually stir powdered sugar into glaze mixture. Place saucepan of glaze in bowl of cold water. Beat with spoon until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. If glaze becomes too stiff, stir in additional cider, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, or heat over low heat, stirring constantly. Drizzle glaze over loaves. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Harvest Chicken Chopped Salad with Creamy Honey Balsamic Dressing

As soon as I saw the photo of this salad from Lilikoi Joy, I knew I would love it since salads with a of veggies, fruits, berries and nuts are my favorite and the dressing sounded so good too. Oh, it was! I halved the recipe, but will make a full recipe next time so I can keep eating it for days. I left out the cheese and green cabbage in the salad and the fresh herbs I used in the dressing were basil and parsley. Love how you can grill up some chicken for this or use leftover or even rotisserie chicken.

And I will have a giveaway on my blog coming up next week, so stay tuned, any readers I may still have after my blog posting has gone way down. I still love y'all.

Harvest Chicken Chopped Salad with Creamy Honey Balsamic Dressing

3/4 c. mayonnaise
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. honey
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1-2 T. fresh herbs, minced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Ingredients for salad:
4-6 c. chopped romaine lettuce
1 c. chopped green cabbage
1 c. chopped red cabbage
2 c. cooked chicken breasts, cooled and cubed (about 2 breasts)
1/2 c. chopped red onion
1 medium apple, cored and chopped (tip: add 1 Tablespoon lemon juice to apples to reduce browning)
1/2 c. dried cranberries
3/4 - 1 c. hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans, toasted in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, then roughly chopped 
4 oz. gorgonzola or other bleu cheese, crumbled
4-6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 c. fresh blueberries

Prepare the dressing: In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, and fresh herbs and whisk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If too thick, add 1-2 teaspoons of water to thin it down.

Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, cabbages, chicken, red onion, apple, dried cranberries, hazelnuts, gorgonzola cheese, and bacon. Add about 1/2 the dressing and toss to combine. Keep adding more dressing until the flavor and creaminess level is right for you. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Gently fold the blueberries into the salad at the end so they don't break up during the mixing process. Serve.
Yield: 4-6 servings

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mini Blueberry-Lemon Bundt Cakes

Saw these from Tutti Dolci and couldn't stop craving them, so I gave in and made them. I thought my Bundt pan was a mini, but her little ones are much tinier than mine, so I guess mine is a medium-sized Bundt pan. Mine made 7 and hers made 28.

These are cute and moist and I love all the bursts from the abundance of blueberries. I already wanna buy the ingredients for it again so I can give some away this time...and eat another one in that batch too.

Mini Blueberry-Lemon Bundt Cakes
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1 large egg
1/3 c. low-fat buttermilk
1/4 c. plain fat-free yogurt
3/4 t. vanilla extract
1 T. Meyer lemon juice
1 1/2 c. blueberries

1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t. Meyer lemon zest
1 T. Meyer lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350° and spray a mini bundt pan with nonstick spray. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, sugar, and lemon zest in a large mixer bowl at medium speed until well blended; add egg and beat well. Combine buttermilk, yogurt, vanilla and lemon juice in a small bowl. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in

3 additions, alternating with buttermilk mixture; fold in blueberries.

Fill each mold just over half full. Bake for 16 minutes, until edges are golden and cake springs back to the touch. Cool in pan on wire rack for 4 minutes before popping mini cakes out of pan to cool completely. To prepare glaze, whisk together powder sugar, lemon zest, and juice in a small bowl. Set rack with mini bundt cakes over a piece of wax paper and drizzle with glaze; let set before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 days; serve warm.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tomato Balsamic Ravioli

Last week I started classes and my longer internship hours and after a long day of that, I had visiting teaching appointments. When I got home at 7:30, my daughter Sabrina asked if we could order pizza since they were hungry. I was happy to have this meal planned, knowing that it was so quick and easy. The recipe is from Dinners, Dishes and Desserts. I used a chicken and spinach ravioli, but you can use whatever kind you like. It was so good that night and then reheated the next day too.

When we were at the store buying groceries for the week and I picked up the refrigerated raviloi, Elisa asked me why I didn't just make my own ravioli. Yeah, I have time to make fresh pasta right now. Crazy girl. She's used to eating just about everything from scratch, but this still tasted great and it will save me from having to order pizza on another busy night sometime.

Tomato Balsamic Ravioli
1 (14-oz) can petite diced tomatoes
1 large tomato, diced
¼ c. red onion, diced
1 T. olive oil
2 T. balsamic vinegar
¼ t. salt
¼ t. black pepper
12 oz. refrigerated ravioli
2 T. fresh basil, chopped
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the can of diced tomatoes and onion. Saute for 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, cook ravioli according to the package directions.
Add balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to the tomatoes. Stir in the fresh diced tomato. Cook for 5 minutes. Toss cooked ravioli with the tomato mixture. Serve with fresh basil, and top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Kit Kat Cookies

These are yummy, soft cookies with a fun crunch that are from Life with the Crust Cut Off. I tried them this week and they are a hit. We only put 1 cup of chocolate chips in them because my daughter Elisa wanted more dough to the cookie and there was plenty of chocolate.

Kit Kat Cookies
3/4 c.  sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. butter (room temperature)
2 eggs
3 c. flour
3/4 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
2 c. chocolate chips
1 (8-oz.) bag Kit Kat Minis
Cream the 2 sugars with the butter till smooth. Gently beat in the 2 eggs, one at a time. Slowly add in the flour, baking soda and salt.
Chop Kit Kat Minis in half. Gently stir in Kit Kat Minis and chocolate chips. Chill dough in fridge for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°. Form into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, removing from oven before they are brown.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Roasted Flank Steak with Mushrooms and Thyme

Just found this recipe at Melangery last week when I was looking for a beef recipe. For some reason, I don't have as many beef recipes as I do chicken. This one looked good and easy and it turned out great, so it'll be in my recipe rotation from now on. I used balsamic vinegar (slightly less than 1/4 cup) in place of the red wine and served it with blindingly white rice.
Roasted Flank Steak with Mushrooms and Thyme
1 flank steak, about 1 1/2 lb. trimmed
1 t. chopped fresh thyme
1/4 c. dry red wine
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled, sliced
Salt and ground pepper
2 T. olive oil for marinade plus 1 Tbsp for a cooking pan
1 onion, peeled and cut into 6 wedges
2 T. unsalted butter
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 

Place the steak in a large glass dish. Combine fresh thyme, garlic, salt, ground pepper, oil and red wine, pour over the meat. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap. Let the meat stand in the mixture for several hours in the refrigerator, turning occasionally. Remove the steak from the refrigerator 40 minutes before cooking. Bringing the meat to room temperature helps it to cook more evenly.

Preheat the oven to 400F.
Heat a heavy nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbs. of the oil. Remove the steak from the marinade. Put the steak in the pan and sear it, turning once, for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until browned. Spread the marinade over steak and add onions; place pan in oven. Roast at 400° for 10-15 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Transfer the steak to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

In a large fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine.
Cut the steak into thin slices on the diagonal, using a sharp knife. Serve with roasted onions and mushrooms.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chicken Enchilada Skillet

Well, this summer is over. I thought that I would have more time to blog during the summer since I was not taking classes, only doing an internship (working for free). But I decided to spend my time with my kids so I didn't blog much at all. And now that the new semester begins again, I will be taking classes and more hours at the lab for my internship. My little blog will become even more abandoned. So sad! But I will barely have time to see my children and study, so I know I won't get to post much.

But I do have a few recipes that I hope to share in the next few days. Today's is a quick one that I found at Emily Bites. I don't especially like filling and rolling up enchiladas so this seemed like a nice alternative to that. I did make it a little different though. Instead of putting the tortillas in the skillet, I served them on the side so they'd stay more crispy. We just put one tortilla wedge on the plate, topped it with chicken mixture and then another tortilla and a bit more mixture, along with cheese and sour cream . Also I put less cheese on ours, but Emily's cheesy ones looked good.

Chicken Enchilada Skillet
1 t. canola oil
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 T. chili powder
½ t. salt
2 t. cumin
2 t. sugar
1 (15-oz.) can tomato sauce
½ c. water
3 c. shredded cooked chicken breast
1 ¼ c. canned black beans, drained
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
1 (4-oz.) can chopped green chiles
6 oz (about 1 ½ cups shredded) 50% reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 scallions, diced

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet or saute pan. Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, chili powder, salt, cumin and sugar and stir together for another minute. Add the tomato sauce and water, stir and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 5 minutes to thicken.

Add the shredded chicken and black beans to the sauce and stir together. Continue to simmer for 5 more minutes.

Once you put the chicken in, mist a second skillet with cooking spray and bring over medium-low heat. Add the tortilla pieces and spray again with cooking spray. Stir/flip occasionally to heat the tortillas for about 4 minutes until the chicken and beans are heated through in the sauce.

Turn the heat on the sauce mixture to low. Add the tortilla pieces, the green chiles and about 2/3 of the cheese to the chicken mixture and stir together until well combined and coated. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and place the lid onto the pan. Leave the lid on for 1-2 minutes until the cheese has melted. Remove from heat and sprinkle the diced scallions over top for garnish.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Glazed Beef Kababs

I know that grilling is often a "guy thing" and that when a group of people get together and barbecue, usually the guys hang out around the grill and the ladies are taking care of everything else. But I was surprised to find out recently that a lot of women don't know how to grill, even the some of the ones who cook inside.

It was when I was grilling while my daughter's friend was over and she was amazed that I was grilling. "Your mom grills?" She grew up with me grilling, so it is normal for her. My answer is, "Yep. I grill and I even grill in heels sometimes." No one else grills or cooks or bakes in my home, so I gotta do it. She was amazed. It isn't difficult, but I have a gas grill so it's less prep work than with charcoal. I'm no expert. I probably do things wrong, but I get it done.

I was surprised that her friend was so surprised, so I posted about it on my status on Facebook. Then some ladies said they didn't know how to grill. Most of my grilling recipes are simple and I just throw ingredients together, but I'll start to post the recipes to show how easy it can be.

I grilled several times last week and wanted to make some shishkabobs today. I had some leftover  Homemade J Dawgs Sauce from last week and decided to use it in the marinade, but didn't want to just use that so I mixed it with a dressing that I had on hand, balsamic vinaigrette. I wasn't sure how it would turn out until after the beef was marinated, skewered, and grilled. The beef had lots of flavor and was tender and so delicious that I got rave reviews over and over tonight. I thought I made too much, but it disappeared quickly.

I was going to use grape tomatoes and green peppers, but I didn't have enough green peppers so it was just the tomatoes with the beef on the skewers. I loved how the grilled tomatoes just burst in my mouth. I will always make it with tomatoes. It was almost the best part for me.

Glazed Beef Kababs
1/2 c. Homemade J Dawgs Sauce
1/2 c. balsamic vinaigrette
1 1/2 lb. beef sirloin tip steak, cut in strips
1 (10.5-oz.) pkg. cherry tomatoes

Mix J Dawgs Sauce and balsamic vinaigrette together. Coat beef in half of the sauce and marinate for at least 2 hours. Reserve the other half of sauce for later.

While beef is marinating, soak bamboo skewers in water. Turn grill on high and close lid to preheat.  Skewer tomatoes and beef alternately on skewers. Turn grill down to medium and place skewers on grill and close the lid. Wait a few minutes just until grill marks are on beef. Flip skewers and close lid again. Grill until cooked on second side. If the steak is sliced fairly thin, cooking will only take a few minutes on each side. Remove skewers from grill.

Brush both sides of beef and the tomatoes with the reserved glaze and serve.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

He'll Tell You You're Beautiful

This morning while getting ready for church, I was watching the “Come Follow Me” Youth Videos on the Mormon Channel. I have two youth and one child and need all the help I can get trying to teach them and raise them because I don’t seem to know what to do or say lately. But as I was watching this video, entitled “True Confidence – Standards: Sexual Purity and Modesty”, a message screamed out to me for me. It has a strong, beautiful message about sexual purity, but the message I needed was a bit different.

I admire people who have confidence in themselves and feel pretty even in sweat pants and no makeup. While a few different things have contributed to my lack of confidence, I know I am ultimately responsible for how I feel. I think it is a human longing to be loved and to feel pretty. Some people are blessed to have someone tell them they are beautiful just as they are and to make them feel pretty by how they treat them. Some of us do not. Wouldn't it be great if we all had songs written about us like "That's What Makes You Beautiful" or "You're Beautiful" or maybe a different song, but a song.

A quote that combines words from the two different girls in the video says:

                “The only person who needs to tell you you’re beautiful, the only person that needs to tell you that you have so many wonderful talents is the Lord. And because that’s what he’s blessed you with and He will tell you that if you ask him. And then that confidence will come in time, not at first maybe, but it will come eventually.”

It made me realize that I need to ask my Heavenly Father to feel beautiful.  Not vain or better than anyone else, but okay with who I am. This is not a call for anyone to compliment me at all. It is just something I need to work on and blogging about my thoughts and things that uplift me spiritually helps me. Hopefully the messages in the video will help others in the ways that they individually need it too.

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 ...