Friday, January 29, 2016

Spinach Pesto Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella

Thanks to my daughter Elisa for finding this recipe at I Heart Nap Time. and choosing it when I asked her to pick something. It is so quick to put together! I rarely get to make dinners that are so easy and I am thrilled to put this on my busy night list. You can put more or less of the ingredients on your pizza, of course. Elisa said she wants to add tomatoes to it next time and that sounds like a great addition to me. And I think next time I'll broil it a little at the end to get some browning on the cheese cuz that's how I like it.

Spinach Pesto Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella
1 Naan bread
1-2 t. basil pesto
2 oz. fresh mozzarella
1/2 c. spinach 

Preheat oven to 400°.
Spread pesto onto bread and layer with spinach and mozzarella.
Place in oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Blackberry Lime Cheesecake Danish

Using refrigerated crescent roll dough makes this so easy. The blackberry and lime cream cheese filling make this irresistible. I found this recipe at Inside Bru Crew Life.

Blackberry Lime Cheesecake Danish
2 pkg. refrigerated crescent rolls
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 c. halved fresh blackberries
2 T. lime zest, divided
1 T. Turbinado sugar
1 c. powdered sugar
5 t. lime juice

Preheat oven to 350°. Unroll 1 package crescent rolls. Press the rectangles lengthwise in the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan.

Beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Add the egg and 1 tablespoon lime zest and beat again. Gently stir in the blackberries. Spoon onto the crescent rolls in the pan.

Unroll the second package of crescent rolls. Do not separate into triangles. Press together the seams on each rectangle. Place the 4 rectangles evenly across the cheesecake. Press the edges down all around the pan. Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Bake  for 18 minutes. 

Cool completely.

Whisk together the powdered sugar and lime juice. Drizzle over the cooled danish. Sprinkle with the remaining lime zest. Let set. Cut into 24 bars. Keep refrigerated in a sealed container.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Busy Bees

Last week I got to meet Alex's current companion's mom who also lives in Utah. We met up in Salt Lake at The Copper Onion and enjoyed some good food (more about that in another post) while we talked for more than a couple of hours. It's so fun to have this connection and to get to know about his companion and to get to know her.

We've had a great week, and a very full week too. We haven't been able
to rest at all this week (not that we really rest any week), and it's
been great! 

 My scripture of the week is Doctrine and Covenants 45:3-5, "Listen to
him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause
before him--
"Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no
sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which
was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be
"Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name,
that they may come unto me and have everlasting life." 

 The kanji of the week is 人形 pronounced "knee-n-gyoh" and means (human) doll. 

 Monday was our first day walking all day due to snow, and we spent a
lot of it walking between stores for food and the apartment. Besides
that, not much else happened in our day. The evening was spent
shoveling snow for three hours. It was great, and fun! 

 Tuesday, after all our studies, we went and tried street contacting,
but since there were not too many people I saw, I suggested we go and
shovel some less active's houses. We did that, and then met with one
of them right after we finished her driveway (she wasn't home when we
started). After that we were walking back, but we didn't get too far
before we met a woman outside shoveling, so we spurred a conversation.
She asked if we were Mormon, and we said yes. Turns out that her and
her husband used to meet with the missionaries, and they said that we
could come back anytime we wanted to. They weren't in the area book,
so it was a lucky find! After that we went and had a lesson at an
investigators house. We spent the rest of the night walking back (he
lives 40 ish minutes away from our apartment walking). 

 Wednesday we shoveled the church parking lot, and then went to visit a
less active. She wasn't home, so we tried to visit another less
active, but she wasn't home either. We did some streeting for a bit,
and then went home, had dinner, and then had English class. 

 Thursday we went to Sendai for some training. It was great, and we
both learned a lot. It was specifically for new missionaries, so it
was helpful. When we got back, we went to the same investigator's
house (his name is Shutaro) as on Tuesday and talked for a while, and
then came back and did as much planning for the next week as we could. 

 Friday we went to Izumi for a worldwide missionary broadcast, and
after that had district meeting for a little while. Then the district
leader went back with my companion to Furukawa and I stayed in Izumi.
We went Streeting for a bit, and had lots of fun. We talked to lots of
people who seemed interested, but all were pretty busy. There was one
boy who might meet with missionaries soon though. The rest of the day
was studies. 

 Saturday we got back to Furukawa (me and the Elder I was on splits
with) and we did a role play lesson. Then we finished studies and
weekly planning. We then went to a member's house and had dinner
there. It was some really delicious salmon casserole thing, and tasted
great. That family is so strong, and they are really good examples. It
took an hour to walk back home, and so we didn't have any time for
anything else. 

 Sunday we had a wonderful time at sacrament meeting (although the less
active who said she would come this week didn't come), and Elder
A. gave a talk in church. It was great, especially because he
had to cut it short. After that we did all our studies (we had to push
a lot of it back because we shoveled the parking lot of the church
again). We then went to visit a family who live on the outskirts of
town. It still only took about 40 minutes to get there, but they were
about to leave, so we couldn't talk for long. We then went and posted
English Class fliers for the little time we had left. 

 This week was jam-packed with stuff, and I must say that if feels good
to do things productively. I hope that you all had good weeks as well,
and I love you all!



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

This chocolatey quick bread from Erica's Sweet Tooth is a super way to use ripe bananas! I have tons of ripe bananas in my freezer right now so I'll be making more bread this week. I used Special Dark cocoa, but I you don't have to. And I used up all my chocolate chips in the bread so I chopped up some dark chocolate Kisses for the top and kinda overloaded it. Mmmmmmm! 

Double Chocolate Banana Bread
3 medium-large ripe bananas
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 large egg
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 c. semisweet chocolate chunks or chips
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350° and grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan with nonstick baking spray.
Mash bananas in a large bowl. Whisk in melted butter, then brown sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. Sift baking soda, salt, flour, and cocoa powder into the bowl. Stir mixture with a wooden spoon until just incorporated. Then gently stir in the 1 cup of chocolate chunks or chips.
Transfer batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips. Bake 55 to 65 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. 

Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Keep bread wrapped tightly at room temperature for up to 4 days or serve immediately.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Late Winter

I asked Alex if the snow was sticking yet (since he said before that it wasn't even though it usually is by the middle of January). I also asked him if he had played Go recently. If you haven't heard of it, it's supposed to be the oldest board game still around today, originating in China. It's a strategic game kind of like chess. I've heard some people say it's like playing 4 chess boards at once. A few years before his mission, Alex got a Go game and seemed to have mastered it immediately. It's so frustrating playing with him because I have no chance of winning. He had told me early in his mission that he got to play it a few times. Here's his response to my 2 questions:

It finally snowed here (and is sticking), so we planned on just relaxing at the apartment for as much as we can. It's pretty fun in our eyes though. I haven't played any GO lately, unfortunately. I need to find some way of using that for missionary work, or something. We are doing well, and although I did get sick yesterday, I wasn't disabled, and I'm doing well! I am definitely warm and safe.

Just a few notes about his letter below. 

  • Elder Yamashita is a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, serving in the Asia North Area Presidency. 
  • The couch they took over to the member's house (and attempted to take to her last week) was moved through the town on a small cart from the church where they were storing it to her house.

After two whole months and a few days of hearing people say it was
going to start snowing soon, it finally has begun. We have snow now,
and that means we'll probably be walking from now on. I'll miss riding
bikes, but at least it gives us an opportunity to serve others! I love
the snow! 

 My scripture of the week still hasn't been decided, so I can't send it. Sorry! 

 The kanji of the week is: 漫画 pronounced "mahn-gah" and means comic
books (usually Japanese style). Also for those who pay attention to
this part, last week I messed up on the pronunciation of the word,
which was actual "Ray-zo-ko," not "cone." 

 Anyway, Monday was pretty normal this week, and I don't have anything
to say about the day time, and the night time was just finding (street
contacting as usual). 

 Tuesday we were invited to eat lunch with a member in Izumi and the
rest of the district, so we did that. Then we came back and finished
our studies that we didn't do on the bus. The rest of the day was
spent finding, as usual. 

 Wednesday, we had a lot of finding. Then in the evening we had English
class. We had our lucky number of four students (an unlucky number
here, though). It was a fun class, and had some good discussions with

 Thursday we spent all day down in Sendai learning under Elder
Yamashita. He is such a great guy, and he loves all of us so much. He
has great English, and the spirit is so great around him. That's
basically all that happened that day. 

 Friday we did weekly planning, followed by trying to visit a couple of
less active members. One of them we actually got to talk to, and have
a good discussion about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ
through Joseph Smith, and salvation for the dead, with the turning of
the hearts of the fathers to the children and vice verse. Then we did
lots of street contacting with a break of dinner in between the two

 Saturday we had a gyoza party (pot stickers) at the church, and had a
great time. They were hand-made, and tons of fun. We got to help
prepare all of the fillings, and then everyone who came helped fold
and cook them. They tasted delicious! Then we visited with a less
active, and we were able to bear a strong testimony to her about the
importance of coming to church, even if you're tired. I know that
going to church and taking the sacrament gives you energy to put up
with the rest of the week. The rest of the day followed the ending
schedule from Friday. 
Snickerdoodles I made from a mix my family sent me in my Christmas package. They were yummy!

 Sunday we had a great time in a church that still smelled like the
gyoza from the previous day. It was really spiritual, and lots of fun.
I loved all three hours of it. After church, we took a couch over to a
less active's house, and she was so happy. She also said that after
two years of not coming to church, she has made the resolution to come
back to church, starting next week! So glad to hear that she wants the
help of the Lord in her life! We then studied, and stayed out street
contacting and housing for the rest of the night. 

 That's my week! I hope you all had great weeks too, and I hope you all
know how much I love you! 


Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Whole Lot, and Nothing

I sent Alex some photos of the interior of the soon to be open Provo City Center temple and this is what he said about that and then some other things:
Thanks for the pictures of the Provo City Center Temple! They look so beautiful! My companion even said he might leave his mission just to go to the celestial room :P I hope you get a chance to go into the temple and feel the spirit in the open house.

Still not any sticking snow here, but the locals say that it usually snows into late March. We'll see. It does snow every now and then, but never more than the sun can melt in a day.

I can't say that I've had too much that I've wondered about back at home, people or things. I guess I have thought every now and then how different technology will be when I get back, but it's probably changing so gradually that you haven't really noticed the changes. I'll probably find them out when I get out of the time capsule of a mission.

This week was so full of activities, and talking with people, and the

like, and yet it seems like there was so little done this week. I know
it was our busiest week yet, so I'm not sure what to think. 

My scripture for this week is Alma 5:46 "Behold, I say unto you they
are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have
fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself.
And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath
made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit
of revelation which is in me." I chose this because I want to remember
how to get more knowledge from God: fasting and praying. 

The kanji of the week is: 冷蔵庫 pronounced "Ray-zoh-cone" and means refrigerator. 

Monday we didn't do much worth mentioning during our preparation day
time, but we did get to go to an investigators house and do some
service there. His wife, mother, and father were there too, and they
were all so nice. We ate dinner together, and they fed us so much!
They love the missionaries, and so hopefully we can see them why the
love us, which is the peace of God that accompanies testimonies of
truth. We talked about eternal marriage and families, and the like,
because we want them to be able to continue having their good family
relationships for all eternity. 

Tuesday we went and did more street contacting, and also tried to
visit some less active members. None of the members we planned on
visiting were available, but we tried to visit others, and were able
to talk to them, and have a good time. 

 Wednesday was spent in a similar manner, and we street contacted and
visited with members again. In the evening we had English class as
always, and we had a student who hadn't come in a while (since before
I came) come. It was a fun class. After the class, we talked with a
member, shared a short spiritual message, and then right before we had
to go back to the apartment we did a bit of Kendo with him. He made
his own practice swords out of department store goods, and it was fun. 

 Thursday we street contacted even more, and tried to visit some
others. We also have a potential investigator and friend who is the
son of a member, so we visited him, and had fun with him. We found out
that he was using a really old version of the Book of Mormon in
Japanese that has words that no one in Japan knows anymore (I think
it's because the writing system changed quite a bit after World War
2). So, we gave him a new copy, and he was super surprised at how easy
it was to read, and seemed excited to try and read it--he had to use a
dictionary to look up words with the other one. 

 Friday we had Zone training meeting, and that was great as always. We
learned lots, and had great discussions. When we got back to the
apartment, the rest of the day was spent planning the next week. 

 Saturday we tried to visit lots of others, and visited with some. Most
weren't available though. So, we did street contacting the rest of the

 Sunday we went to church as always. I love church so much, and I am so
grateful for the opportunity to learn about the gospel, and partake of
the sacrament every week. After church we tried to take a couch to a
members house, but even though we had an appointment to do it, no one
was home. So, we went to visit our friend I mentioned on Thursday, and
he couldn't come talk to us because he was busy. We then rushed over
to our apartment, because our investigator sent us a text and invited
us to go see his grandma with him, and discuss what we'll be doing the
next couple of weeks (we're going to do more service at his house). It
was really great, and Elder A. was able to bear a strong
testimony of the resurrection and of the peace of the gospel. It was a
great end to the day.

So that's the week, and I hope you had a good week too! 

Love you all! 


Friday, January 8, 2016

Chicken Pasta with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce

I made this back in October, but forgot to post the recipe. I saw the pics on my computer today and now I want it again. I've been in the mood for pasta and this unique dish using cilantro and lime with an Alfredo sauce is fresh and delicious. Found this keeper at Julia's Album.

This would make a great meat-less main dish side dish too if you don't add the chicken.

Chicken Pasta with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce

2 T. olive oil
1 lb. chicken breast, sliced
Salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. freshly squeezed lime juice 
1/4 c. chicken broth
1 T. fresh cilantro, chopped
2/3 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. milk
1/2 c. mozzarella or Parmesan cheese, grated
8 oz. spaghetti pasta 
1 t. fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-hot heat. Generously season sliced chicken with salt and pepper, add to the hot skillet and cook for about 5 minutes until done. Remove sliced chicken from the skillet.

To the same skillet, add minced garlic, lime juice and chicken broth. Cook for 1-2 minutes on high heat, deglazing and scraping the skillet until the liquid is reduced and making sure garlic does not burn and brown too much. Mix in chopped cilantro.

Add heavy cream and milk. Bring to boil, the immediately add cheese and mix in until melted, while boiling. Then, remove from heat.

Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain, reserving some cooked pasta water.

Add pasta to the sauce, along with the half of the chicken. Mix everything in and season pasta with more salt, if needed. Top with the remaining half of the chicken and more chopped cilantro.

Monday, January 4, 2016

My Mission First

Alex was going to send me some videos, but unfortunately his iPad wouldn't send them. So sad. It's always fun to see them.

So, I'm going to go ahead and say it first this time. We had transfer calls this last week (we got the call yesterday), and for the first time on my mission absolutely nothing is changing in my apartment. Just me and my amazing son, Elder A. I am so glad that I get to have another transfer with him, because he has been so great to me, and we've been able to see many miracles together. He's also the third companion of mine that I've had for 2 transfers, tying for first place with Elder O., my trainer, and Elder B. I'm glad that I have been given a chance to continue to work here in Furukawa and see more miracles here.

Wanna play a game? Alex says there's one pink light in at least one of these pics. Can you find it?

My scripture for this week is 1 John 4:10-11: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."

I got this reference in a letter from my home stake presidency, and I thought it was worth ponderizing.

The kanji of the week is: 初等協会 pronounced "show-tow-kyo-kai," and means Primary (as in the class on Sundays).

Monday I can't really say anything special about. We went to Izumi for district p-day, and ate lunch together and played ping-pong, and had fun. It was also Elder M's Birthday, so we celebrated that. We didn't have any time at night for anything really, because we missed our bus back, and had to take a later bus. We posted the remainder of our Christmas pass along cards, and that's about it.

Tuesday I went on companion exchanges to Kamisugi in Sendai. I got to see a member that I saw at the beginning of last transfer, and we went to lunch together and read from the Book of Mormon together. We also went to visit some less active's, but we didn't get to meet with any except for one. During our dinner break, we went to a place that had a bunch of Christmas lights, and it was pretty cool, but they were all white lights.

Wednesday we got back to Furukawa, and a lot of the day was spent in travel and studies. We did go to a less active's house, and she gave us some Mochi (rice paste) to cook. It's a Japanese tradition for New Years, but we haven't made anything with it yet. English class was nice, because we had four people, and I really hope more people can come again. We also shared a short message with a member after English class, after we helped him understand a poem in English he found online.
He was happy to find a Cold Stone there.

Thursday was spent inside all day. We cleaned, cleaned, cleaned, and then cleaned some more. That's all we did that day. Our apartment wasn't dirty, but we did a lot of deep cleaning to make it even cleaner. It's really bad to interrupt people on the 31st and 1st here in Japan, so that's what we did in stead.

Friday was similar, but after finishing up the small cleaning items we needed to finish, the rest of the time was spent reading 3 Nephi. It was great, and I love that section of the Book of Mormon. Not much else happened.

Saturday, we went and did street contacting for 4 hours, because we had nothing else to do. We got lots of good conversations, but still not anyone to meet with. Towards the end of that, we wanted to go visit a member and a less active member, but it started raining, so we walked our bikes back to the apartment (we aren't supposed to bike in the rain at all). Then we walked to the less active's house, because it was the closest thing, and also getting late. She couldn't meet though, unfortunately.
Alex likes to take photos of his companions eating for some reason. Alex made this Ohm Rice and says it's exactly what it looks like, but that he didn't do a very good job of making them.

Sunday was great, because we had 29 people at church. We even got a non-member, and friend, to attend. We are so lucky in this ward, because the members were all over our non-member friend, asking him about his life, and helping him understand everything. They even talked about their own conversion stories. During fast and testimony meeting, he said he felt like he should go up and talk too, but wasn't sure what to say or if it would be alright. It was great! We then went and gave the sacrament to a member, and visited some less active's and members.

This week was great again, and I am so excited to see miracles even more this transfer. I hope you all have a great week!



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 ...