Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Utah Local: Antonella's Aritsan Bread Cafe in Orem

I have passed Antonella's Artisan Bread Cafe quite a few times, but didn't ever notice it for some reason. I'm glad I stopped by today! It's been here for almost a year and I hope it stays for a long time. Friendly service and a variety of good food. 

I don't know how crowded it gets usually, but in the time we were there at around 1:00, only one other customer came in. Stop in for sandwiches, soups, salads, smoothies, beautiful fresh bread, coffee, or delicious desserts. Or get several tasty menu items, just like we did.

My daughter Elisa and I went and we each got a smoothie -- mango and berry, They were very thick!

 We shared the huge Turkey, Bacon, Avocado sandwich on Focaccia bread, which comes with chips. 

Here's another view of the sandwich after I took my half. Fresh ingredients and very soft bread.
We took a couple of things to go home with us. We split this pretty cannelloni and maybe I'll get my own next time.
We also took this pugliese loaf home and ate it with dinner.
Nice crust outside and soft inside.
Maybe next time I'll try a Dolci Chocolate Corneto above, but I'm also thinking of the tall Black Forest Cake and the fresh fruit tarts. And the Chicken Chipotle Sandwich or the Cheese Broccoli Soup in a bread bowl sound good. Aaahhhh! So many things I want to try on this menu!

The address is 154 South State Street, so on the west side of State Street in a shopping strip (so don't miss it) just a bit north of Classic Skating. There is some parking right there on State Street and more in the rear of the strip.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Winter is over... Maybe‏

Alex sent some of these photos, but many of these are from Elder B. His mom was nice enough to share them so I got to save them and am now sharing them with you. 

So, the transfer call came, and I am going to stay in Aizuwakamatsu
for another transfer with Elder H. We are losing Elder B.,
who is going to yonezawa. Elder M. is coming here from yonezawa.
We are also losing sister h., going to ichinoseki, and is going to
be replaced by sister k., who's first area was Aizuwakamatsu. 

My scripture of the week is Ezekiel 33:11 "Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"
Kanji of the week is: 経済 pronounced "kay-zai" and means economics Monday was had district p-day, and went to a local statue that is over 50 meters tall. It's pretty big, but not too much to say about it. We then tried to visit a less active member, and since he wasn't home, we visited the branch president and his newly wed wife (they're both young) and shared an Easter message.
Tuesday was splits with elder B. We went to try and contact some old investigators and potential investigators, but no one was home. Then we had a really good lesson with a recent convert. Wednesday was normal, trying to visit some less active's, but never got anything out of it. In the evening, we spent about two hours teaching an investigator the rest of the lessons because of an interview on Saturday. He was sick on that day anyway, but it was a good lesson.
An Easter egg I decorated with the Salt Lake temple on one side

And the Tree of Life on the other side
A balding missionary I made
Thursday we had district meeting, and then the rest of the day was making jam for a member who has helped the missionaries a lot, and who recently lost his wife. Friday was spent in Koriyama, and we had fun. We taught a lesson to an investigator there, and he is starting to understand the Book of Mormon, as well as the gospel. English class was fun, and we all were together, since we were small in number this week.
A nice dog we found while streeting
Saturday, we had a lesson in the morning with a less active, and then did weekly planning. We also had a lesson with our recent convert, and that was good. Sunday was, as always, great. We had good church meetings, and I learned a lot. After church we had the wedding reception for the branch president, and that was fun and delicious. The rest of the day was futile visits to less active houses--although we found some nice people on the way--and studies. This week is really short, but I don't really have too much that I'd like to say about it. Have a great week! Love, Elder 長老


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Crispy Stuffed Chicken Caprese with Fresh Tomato Basil Relish

A classic and delicious flavor combination that makes a pretty dinner. I found this recipe on The Cozy Apron.

Crispy Stuffed Chicken Caprese with Fresh Tomato Basil Relish
4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
Salt and cracked black pepper
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. lemon zest
4 ripe pearl tomatoes (or 8 cherry tomatoes), sliced ¼” or thinner
1 T. balsamic vinegar
16 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced ¼ ” or thinner (from an 8 oz ball or log)
16 large, fresh basil leaves
½ c. flour
2 eggs
1 c. panko breadcrumbs
1/3 c. grated parmesan cheese
½ t. Italian seasoning
Fresh Tomato-Basil Relish (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 400°, and line a baking sheet with foil.

Prepare the chicken breasts by butterflying each breast, being careful not to cut all the way through (you want to end up with a thinner, flatter chicken breast); place each butterflied chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and gently pound the chicken out with a mallet to about ¼” thickness; place the chicken breasts into a bowl, and add a drizzle of olive oil, the garlic, a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, the lemon juice and zest, and marinate the chicken for about 15-20 minutes.

Next, place the thinly sliced pearl tomatoes into a small dish, and add to them the balsamic vinegar and a pinch or two of salt and pepper, and allow them to marinate while the chicken marinates.

To prepare the chicken, place one marinaded chicken breast in front of you, vertically; giving yourself about a ½” border at the bottom, begin by adding 2 of the fresh basil leaves, then 2 slices of the fresh mozzarella cheese, next 4 slices of the marinated tomato, then another 2 basil leaves and finally 2 more slices of mozzarella onto the chicken; starting at the bottom, fold the chicken over the ingredients, gently rolling upward until wrapped; place 2-3 toothpicks through the seam at angles to secure the filling and to keep the chicken held together, and place it onto a clean plate to hold; repeat the process with all four chicken breasts.

To bread the chicken, add the flour into a medium-size bowl; add the eggs into a another medium-size bowl, and whisk well; add the panko breadcrumbs, the grated parmesan, the Italian seasoning and a pinch of cracked black pepper into another medium-size bowl, and toss to combine; gently dredge each chicken breast in the flour, then in the eggs and finally in the panko-parmesan mixture, and set aside on the plate while you heat your oil.

To fry, add enough olive oil to a large heavy-bottom pan or skillet for a shallow fry (roughly 1 cup), and place over medium-high heat; once the oil is hot, add in 2 of the rolled and breaded chicken breasts seam-side down, and cook until golden-brown and crispy, about 2 minutes per side (about 8 minutes total); remove from oil and place onto a paper towel-lined plate, and repeat the process with the remaining two breasts; to finish the chicken, add the fried breasts to the foil-lined baking sheet, and place into the oven for about 4-5 minutes, until completely cooked through and the cheese is melted and gooey; to serve, remove toothpicks, and serve on a bed of the Fresh Tomato-Basil Relish.

Fresh Tomato-Basil Relish:
8 ripe pearl (or Campari) tomatoes, diced very finely
2 cloves of garlic, pressed through garlic press
¼ c. julienned fresh basil leaves
Olive oil, drizzle or two
Pinch or two salt
Pinch or two freshly cracked black pepper
1 T. balsamic vinegar

Add all ingredients in a small bowl, and gently fold together to combine; cover with plastic wrap and keep in fridge until ready to use with chicken. (Prepare shortly before use)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup

I changed a recipe I found at Petit Foodie just a little bit, adding chicken and celery and ended up with a bowl full of goodness! I love how fresh it tastes because of the lemon. All these flavors in one spoonful make a delicious lunch or dinner. We had it for dinner with homemade rolls and I was sad that I didn't have any leftover soup for lunch the next day. This is in my yum-yum file now!!

There was more broth, but I wanted you to be able to see what's in the broth so I didn't add a lot to this bowl.

Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup
1 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, roughly grated
2 celery stalks, chopped
7 c. chicken broth
½ c. orzo
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
½ t. salt
¼ t. pepper
1 t. dried basil
1 t. crushed red pepper

In a large pot heat olive oil. Add in garlic and onion. Sauté until translucent.

Add in carrot and celery. Sauté for a few minutes. Pour in chicken broth and bring to boil. 

Add orzo and chicken. Cook about 10 minutes. 

Squeeze in juice of half lemon and add zest. Season with salt, pepper, basil and crushed red pepper. Let simmer until serving.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Dead Brain

Alex didn't have much time to write this week, but he did send photos. He just about said more about the photos than in the letter.
This photo was for a "bye-bye book" for 2 Elders who are leaving after this transfer.
Well, not too much time, so let's get right into it.
Scripture for the week is Doctrine and Covenants 81:5 "Wherefore, be
faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor
the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble
Kanji of the week: 空気 pronounced "coo-key" and means cookie. Just kidding. It means air. Monday was another day of rain. Can't remember exactly what happened in the evening.
One of the other missionary's mom posted this photo last week and tagged me (Valerie) since Alex is in it. Then Alex sent it to me yesterday. Alex said that the person who took the photo was the only one in the room who doesn't wear glasses. 
Tuesday was a bunch of finding, and one lesson with a recent convert. Wednesday was more finding, and we found three potential investigators. For the Sisters. But when one of us wins, we all win, so I really don't mind it at all. Also, English class. Thursday was district meeting, and weekly planning,
Some food I got at a restaurant. It was called
Cheese Gyu-don, which is rice with beef and cheese ontop. Yes I used
the Tabasco sauce.
Friday was a great lesson with an investigator in Koriyama, and English class there. Saturday was a funeral, which I don't mean to brush off as a light thing, because it isn't, but I don't have too much time to write. It suffices me to say that she was loved by many, members and non-members alike. Thanks to the plan of salvation, we know that we can see her again. Sunday was a good day at church, and the rest of the day was studies.
My companion's food. The same as mine with out cheese and a
side of salad and soup.
Sorry I don't have too much time this week, but I hope that you got something out of this! Love you! Love, Elder 長老
This first picture is of the most expensive syrup I've ever held. The
reason it took so long to get here, is because it's American syrup
that was sent to the UK to be shipped to Japan. We're having pancakes
for dinner tonight, and I'm sure it tastes delicous! (For Alex's birthday present, I ordered some thing on 
Amazon Japan and had them shipped to him. It included some brownie mixes and pancake mix. This syrup 
shipped separately since they didn't have it in Japan. It's just a regular sized bottle, but it was $47 after 
shipping. Crazy splurge, but he wouldn't tell me anything that he wanted for his gift. I hope they liked it.) 

We also sent a large envelope for his birthday with a few cards from family members, a journal from my sister, a pair of socks and some of his favorite candy. That was like $34. Shipping costs are not fun! He definitely doesn't get many packages.   

Monday, March 14, 2016

Wonderful Feeling, Wonderful Day

(Alex didn't send any pictures, even though he said he was sending them in another 
email. So I included some I found online from Aizuwakamatsu, where he is now.) 
Today marks another day of rain for preparation day. But it's all
good, and we've had fun. We went to a good Chinese restaurant, and had
fun walking around in the rain that will help make Japan a beautiful
My scripture of the week is 1 Timothy 4:12 "Let no man despise thy
youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in
conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."
Kanji of the week is: 映画 pronounced "ay-gah" and means movie.
Monday's are never fun to talk about. It rained, so we didn't do
anything besides shopping for our food. In the evening we tried to
visit a less active, but right when we got there we both needed to use
the restroom, so we never got a lesson, with only one of us out with
the investigator the majority of the time. Then we called people to a
pancake party we had on Thursday.

Tuesday was Zone Training Meeting, and that was great. I translated everything that was said in Japanese into English, and it was fun, but challenging. In the evening we had a lesson with a recent convert, and one of our investigators. Wednesday was a lot more calling, and we called everyone in our area book to invite them to the party the next day. The only time we had left was for a fast dinner, and then we went over to the church for a lesson that never happened. After that, we had a really fun English class. Everyone was dead, so we just played games to get them to use English the entire time. Thursday we had a lesson in the morning with a member, and that was great. He's a nice member, and really strong spiritually. At least that's what I thought, and I'm sure he is. After that we went to an old investigator's house, and he just talked for an hour, not letting us even say more than an acknowledgment that we understood him. After that we had a lesson with an investigator, and he said that he really wants to get baptized, but he still needs to figure things out. He says that if he can get baptized on a Sunday, then he can do it, so we'll be working more with him. After that we tried to visit a less active, but he wasn't home. So, we went back to the church, and did the rest of our language study while waiting for our next appointment with an investigator. The lesson was great, and he says that he wants to get baptized as well. After that, we had a pancake party, and it was really fun! Everyone that came was either an investigator or potential investigator. Hopefully next week members come too!
Friday we spent all day in Koriyama for interviews with President Smith. After all the interviews were finished, we got dinner, and had English class there. It was fun, because in Advanced class the students just asked a bunch of questions about the church, and we taught them basically everything about the restoration. Next week we've been asked to share our favorite Book of Mormon stories. Saturday was spent in meetings for district conference. At night we had dinner at a restaurant with a member family that just had two missionaries come back (one of them for health reasons was called to the Sendai mission, and so I knew her before when we were in the same zone as each other). The whole family is great, and both of their RM's are great people. Sunday we went to church with one of our investigators. He loved the meetings, and wants to learn all he can. Then, we went back to Aizuwakamasu (district conference was in Koriyama), and had a lesson with him. Then we went home and studied. After a while we left to help with a less active that's moving to Sendai, and then went back to the apartment and did weekly planning, because we hadn't done that yet. That's my week, I hope all you got something out of it! I love you all, and wish you the best! You're all in my prayers!  

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Chicken Avocado Quesadillas

These are an easy snack or dinner that I found at Butter with a Side of Bread. I can't believe that there was a time that I didn't like avocados because I really like them now and they make chicken quesadillas irresistible.

I actually marinated the chicken in the lime juice for a little bit before adding the salsa and proceeding with the recipe. 

Chicken Avocado Quesadillas
4 soft taco size flour tortillas
2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/2 c. diced cooked chicken
1 avocado, sliced in half, then diced
2 T. green salsa
Dash of lime juice
Salt & pepper, to taste
Cilantro, sour cream and salsa, for dip

Cook each tortilla on a warm skillet for 30 seconds on each side. Set aside.

Combine diced chicken with salsa and lime juice, stir to combine. Add several leaves of cilantro, the salt and pepper.

Reduce skillet heat to about medium-low. Place tortilla on the skillet, then top with 1/2 cup cheese and about 3/4 cup chicken mixture. Add 1/2 a diced avocado, then another 1/2 cup cheese and another tortilla. Gently press down on quesadilla. Cook for about 3 minutes, then flip over and cook an additional 2 minutes, until all cheese is melted. Remove from heat and let stand 1-2 minutes. Slice into triangles with a pizza cutter and serve with sour cream, salsa and additional cilantro.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mashed Potato, Cheese & Chive Waffles

When I saw this recipe at Joy the Baker, it reminded me lot of Llampingachos, which I love, but made in a waffle iron. These are a bit easier since you don't have to shape them into patties with cheese in the middle. We had Oaxaca cheese, so I used that and I also used green onion instead of chives. Next time I'll cook them just a little longer for a crisper waffle. We loved them the day I made them and the next day, and I wished I had made more so we could keep eating them.

Mashed Potato, Cheese and Chive Waffles

4 T. unsalted butter
1/4 c. buttermilk
2 large eggs
2 c. mashed potatoes
3 T. chopped chives
1/2 c. all­purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. fresh ground black pepper
1/4 t. garlic powder
1 c. grated cheddar cheese

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-­low heat. As the butter melts it will begin to crackle and pop. Continue to cook the butter until the crackling subsides and the butter begins to brown a bit. The butter will smell nutty. Immediately transfer the browned butter into a medium bowl. Whisk in buttermilk and eggs until thoroughly combined. Add the mashed potatoes and 2 tablespoons chives and gently stir to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Use a spoon to mix until all of the flour is thoroughly combined. Try not to overmix the batter. Just stir it until the flour is combined.

Heat a waffle iron and grease if necessary.

Dollop batter (about 1/4 cup per waffle) into the waffle iron. Cook until golden on each side. The amount of time depends on your waffle iron. Remove waffles from the iron and place on a cooling rack to rest. The cooling rack will keep the waffles from getting soggy on the bottom as they cool.

Just before serving the waffles, turn oven to the broiler setting. Place waffles on a baking sheet and top with cheddar cheese. Place waffles under the broiler until cheese is melted, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with remaining chives and serve warm.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Thank You!

Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes! I had a great time on
my birthday, sharing the gospel with others.
(Not on my birthday) We found a Denny's and had dinner and dessert there. This is a strawberry sundae with fresh strawberries, strawberry jelly, strawberry sorbet, strawberry jam, and strawberry cream. There was barely any ice cream in it, but it tasted good!
This week was one of test, and trial, but it ended up with lots of fruit, and stronger faith in God's work. We are continually improving, and working on gather all those who will listen to us and come back to the fold of God. Monday wasn't really anything to talk about, like usual. It was the start of four days of precipitation falling, and rained all day, so we walked to the stores we needed to go to, and then back home. Evening was something, but I can't remember what we did. Tuesday was spent trying to find less actives, walking because it had snowed, and the snow stayed all day. We had fun talking with everyone, and despite not seeing too much out of the day, we did talk to everyone we could have.
Wednesday we went to go find more less active members, and when I was looking for a different less active's whereabouts, we ended up being in an area of a less active Elder H. had seen before. We went to his house, and had a great talk with him. Then we went to the church, and had a lesson with a new investigator. It was the second time meeting with him, and we invited him to be baptized. Obedience brings blessings, and he accepted. He is super excited for his baptism, and is doing all he can to learn all he can. English class was fun, and I loved it.
My companion in our study room

I promise my desk is usually more organized. 
Thursday was district training meeting, and that was fun. Not too much to say about it here though. We then had a lesson with a different investigator, and he is doing well. Still is working on some things, but aren't we all? The rest of the day was finding, with not too much to say. Friday was spent all day in Koriyama. We met with an investigator then, and he has a great man. He relies a lot on science, but that's not a bad thing if you don't take it too far. He is really good with English. We spent a long time with him, and the rest of the day was in English class there. Saturday we did weekly, along with lots of finding.
This is a Nintendo (card) game, where you have to match
what a person says to the associated card. They're all Japanese
poetry, so it's really cool! A birthday present from my family.
Sunday, Brother Niida, our investigator with a baptismal date came. It was great to partake of sacrament, and to hear his opinion on church. He loves it, and thinks that everyone is very nice and friendly. He also is excited to learn all he can there as well, and that's the important part: becoming converted to the Lord. The rest of the day was all finding, and we got some good potential people, but no appointments set up. I had a great week, and I hope you all did too! I love you all, and wish you the best. You are all in my prayers. Love, Elder
This was my dinner at Denny's. I got the club sandwich, and it was great! I got it
because I haven't had American food like that in a long time (or
non-white bread).

My companion Elder H. got roast beef and rice. He said it was good
Elder H.'s crepe

From his letter to me:
We had a district training meeting on my birthday! It was my first time 
conducting, and it wasn't a total disaster. This week we won't have a 
district training meeting, so that's good for me. Other than that, I 
made brownies for the district as my birthday gift to them, and was 
surprised with muffins made by the sisters. What was even better was 
that the muffins were a recipe from a famous (at least to missionaries) 
muffin place in Sendai. The rest of the day was normal. I don't like 
focusing on myself, even on birthdays off my mission.
Another gift from my family. It's a balancing game to test your chopstick dexterity.

Funny box from my thermos, another birthday gift

Elder Choi did say that we should be able to get a baptism every week. 
This isn't new news, as Elder Yamashita talked about a similar subject, 
but Elder Choi just straight out said it. I believe with all my heart 
that we can. It will be super hard, tons of work, and humbling ourselves
 lower than dirt, but it's more than possible if we have faith in 
Christ. We already have a baptismal date, and we're working on finding 
those who are eligible to get baptized this week. The only thing that 
will need to change is our faith. But we had lots of training on this 
before we came to the Earth, so we can do it.

They're both honey lemon shakes. Don't know if you had them in America ever, but they're
really good shakes

About our investigator who is going to be baptized: The date is for the last Saturday of March. It is the first week he'll 
be eligible, and the way things are working out with him so far, he'll 
be more than ready on that day. It is our investigator, and it is the 
second week we've met with him as an investigator. He's the nicest man 
alive! Such a pure heart. We haven't talked about who is going to baptize him yet. 

Note from me, Valerie: 
Last week, I went to a Sendai, Japan missionary mom lunch in Salt Lake City. Alex's former companion's mom was there (We had lunch once 
before so I knew Renee already). Also 3 other moms were there who I hadn't met and whose sons weren't my son's companions, but it was
fun to meet them and share this bond of having our sons experiencing this whole awesome mission life in the same place.


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 ...