Saturday, April 26, 2014

The National Parks

Time to introduce you to another of the bands playing this coming Friday, May 2 at the Rooftop Concert Series . 3 BYU students together make the Indie Provo band The National Parks. Brady Parks from Denver is on guitar, kick drum and vocals. Sydney Carling from Kaysville, Utah has the keyboard , vocals, tambourine and glockenspiel, and Bae Sorenson from Salt Lake City plays violin and vocal harmonies. They say they sound like The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, Mumford & Sons.

In September 2013 they released their first album Young and it quickly made it up to #13 on the iTunes singer/songerwriter chart. Can you imagine that much love on your first album? Awesome.  They released a new single As We Ran also hit the Top 40 of the singer/songwriter chart. This song was written for the documentary film “Love in the Tetons”, the first film in the National Park Experience: A Film Series, which is about…America’s national parks. I dare you to watch the video and not start singing “Ooo-oo-ooh” along with it.

You can like them on Reverbnation or on Facebook . I love that they shared the Because of Him LDS video on their FB page with all their fans.

Come and watch them perform in Provo on May 2!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Red Pepper and Beef Pasta

This is a super-simple recipe that combines ground beef and ziti with a sweet red pepper sauce instead of the usual tomato sauce. And the crunch of the fresh green beans makes it unique too. I was suprised that it was a hit here since there are very few recipes with ground beef that makes the cut with my family, but it was just requested again after just making it less than 2 weeks ago for the first time. So thanks to Lady Behind the Curtain for posting it.

Red Pepper and Beef Pasta
12 oz. roasted sweet red peppers, drained
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 (14 1/2-oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried basil
3/4 t. salt
8 oz. uncooked ziti or small tube pasta
1 1/2 c. cut fresh green beans
1 1/2 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Place peppers in a food processor; cover and process until smooth. In a large skillet, cook beef and onion until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the pepper puree, tomatoes, garlic, oregano, basil and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, cook pasta according to package directions, adding green beans during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Cook until pasta and green beans are tender; drain. Return to the pan; stir in meat sauce. Sprinkle with cheese; stir until melted.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dominican Chicken & Beans

Tried a couple of new recipes tonight and I'm posting them together since they are often served together. They are from the Dominican Republic. I found the recipes at The Fanciful Fig. They are very similar to the Ecuadorian Seco de Gallina chicken dish and menestra bean dish that I have made lots of times, but for some reason haven't posted yet. Probably because I don't have measurements for anything. I just know how to make them.
When my youngest daughter Sabrina saw the marinade, she asked, "Is that supposed to look appetizing???" That didn't seem like a good start, but the dish is good with tender chicken and flavorful beans. 
Dominican Chicken
Serves 6-8

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces (3-4 lbs)
1/2 big yellow onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2/3 can of tomato paste
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 T. lime juice
1 T. soy sauce
1/2 head garlic, peeled and pressed through a garlic press
2 cubes chicken bouillon, crushed
2 T. canola oil
1 T. brown sugar
4 c. water

Remove skin and fat from the chicken pieces and rinse under cold water. Dry with paper towels.

In a large bowl, combine the onion, green pepper, tomato paste, cilantro, lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, bouillon and chicken pieces. Let marinate for 10 minutes or longer.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan with a lid, such as a dutch oven, and add the brown sugar. Let the sugar burn. Add the chicken pieces to the pan, reserving the marinade. Brown the chicken pieces on all sides.

Add 4 cups of water to the marinade in the bowl. Add the marinade liquid to the pot by large spoonfuls to keep the chicken from sticking to the bottom. When the chicken is cooked through, add the remaining marinade. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add more water to the pot if the chicken starts to stick during this time.

Serve over hot rice with a side of Dominican Beans.

Dominican Beans
Serves 6-8

2 cans of pinto beans and liquid, or 1 1/2 lb. dry pinto beans
2 T. vegetable oil
1/2 head of garlic, peeled and pressed in a garlic press
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/3 can tomato paste
1 cube chicken bouillon, crushed

If using dry beans, bring to a boil in a generous amount of water (3 times the amount of beans in the pot). Cover and simmer for 2 hours or until soft. Retain the bean liquid.

In a large saucepan heat the oil and brown the garlic. Add onion, green pepper and cilantro, and fry. Add tomato paste and chicken bouillon. Cook until well combined.

Add the beans to the mixture and add enough liquid to make it saucy. (If you are using canned beans, you may have to add water). Simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt before serving.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Desert Noises

Warm weather is coming back and I’m excited for all the fun things you can do outside, including outdoor concerts like Provo Rooftop Concert Series, which is a once a month FREE concert (first Friday of every month May through October) up on the top level of a parking structure at 100 West and 100 North in downtown Provo. Music starts at 7:30. May 2nd is the first concert of 2014 and there are 3 bands playing. I thought I’d introduce you to them, one at a time, so you can see if it’s the kind of music you’d like to listen to so you can go have fun too. They are lots of fun for the whole family so bring your blanket or chair and some snacks (or buy food from the delish restaurant row they set up in the alley next to the parking structure) and listen to some amazing music!

Desert Noises is one of the bands performing. They performed last May at the Rooftop Concert, where I saw them and you can see that night's performance of 27 Ways in the first video below. They are 4 young guys from Provo, who are currently out doing a US tour to promote their new album “27 Ways”. The oldest member is Kyle Henderson, 24. The other three members are Tyler Osmond (Donny Osmond’s nephew), Pat Boyer and Brennan Allen. Together they make a unique sound with awesome music. According to their bio, “Desert Noises makes music for shouting into canyons, jumping into rivers, and getting married to the wide-open road.” I really like their sound and no two songs sound the same, like some bands, so make sure to listen to more than one. If you are like me, you'll listen to all of them...over and over.


Saturday, April 5, 2014


I have been craving empanadas for a couple of months. Different Latin American countries have different versions of empanadas.  I have some friends who make THE best empanadas from Argentina. I'm pretty sure theirs will always be my favorite. But I decided to make some myself, unsure if we'd like them at all. I found this recipe online at Laylita's Recipes. I've made a few of her recipes before and they all turned out great. I will definitely be making these again, maybe to share next time.

The dough is soft and rolls out easily without being sticky. I made the picadillo recipe the same as Laylita's except I added garlic and used black olives instead of green because that's what we like. And I didn't layer the ingredients. I chopped the eggs and mixed it and the olives in with the ground beef. I made those changes to the recipe I am sharing below, but you can check hers out to see another way to do it. This made 23 small empanadas for me.

3 c. flour
1 egg yolk
½ c. butter
¾ - 1 c. warm milk
½ t. salt
Beef picadillo filling:
1 lb. ground beef
1 white onion, diced, about 1 c.
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. butter
2 T. smoked paprika
2 T. chili powder
1 T. finely chopped fresh oregano
½ T. ground cumin
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1-2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
¼ c. sliced olives
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, white and yolk separated and lightly whisked

Mix the flour and salt in a food processor, pulse until well combined. Add the butter, blend well. Add the egg yolk and the milk in small amounts, pulse until small dough clumps start to form.

Make a couple of balls, flatten into disks and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round cookie cutters or a small bowl). Use the empanada discs immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.

Beef picadillo filling and empanada assembly:
Combine the ground beef, paprika, red pepper, cumin, salt and pepper in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together and chill until ready to use.

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan, add the onions, garlic and salt, cook until the onions are soft, about 8 minutes, stirring often. Add the meat mixture to the onions and cook on medium heat until the meat is done, stir frequently. Let the meat mixture or picadillo cool down, and then mix in the chopped green onions, chopped oregano, olives and egg.

To assemble the empanadas add a spoonful of the meat mixture on the center of each empanada disc, add a slice of egg and sliced olive. Brush the edges of the empanada discs with the egg whites, you can also use water but the egg white is a good natural “glue” that helps seal the empanada.

Fold the empanada discs and seal the edges gently with your fingers, twist and fold the edges of the empanadas with your fingers, as a final step use a fork to press down and finish sealing the empanadas.
Lightly brush the top of the empanadas with the egg yolk; this will give them a nice golden glow when they bake. Let the empanadas rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until ready to bake. Preheat the oven to 400° and bake for about 10-15 minutes.

Blueberry Cheesecake Crumb Cake

Bursting blueberries in every bite! I made this coffee cake that I found on  Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts  (even though it's not a ...