Monday, June 10, 2013

Chicken & Artichoke Pesto Pasta

I made this tonight and we really liked it.  I've combined a few recipes and some store ought shortcuts to make this really simple.


1 chicken breast, sliced thinly 
1 small jar of marinated artichoke hearts (mine was 7.5 Oz) (I drained most if the liquid out)
2tsp. Minced garlic 
1 small jar of traditional pesto
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3-4 tablespoons of sun dried tomatoes in oil
1/2 cup milk ( I used 2 %)
1-2 tablespoon of oil
Salt and pepper
2 tsp. Mrs. Dash original
1 tablespoon of dried minced onions
3/4 pound of angel hair pasta
1/2 cup of Texas pecans

Put pasta on to boil in well salted water.  Cook until just under al dente.

Put oil in a large medium high sauté pan.  Add chicken and salt and pepper the chicken.   Cook until about 3/4 done then add garlic and Mrs. Dash.  Continue to stir for about a minute then pour in the artichokes and sun dried tomatoes.  Continue stirring another 2 minutes.  Add the cooked pasta and stir.  Next, add half the pesto jar (or more if you want more) and stir until it is all covered and mixed well, stir in milk and cook another minute or two, stir in pecans.  Turn off the heat and then add in the cheese and stir.  Serve with a green salad and garlic bread. Serves 4 and could easily be doubled.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Summer Learning Week 1...ART

For this summer's activities, I sat down with my son and we came up with a list of topics or themes that we will work on each week.  I plan to do a learning activity, a craft, and an away from the house activity each week that revolves around the theme for that week plus our weekly trips to the library will focus on the topic as well.  For week 1, we have Art as the topic and I am focusing mainly on painters.  I put together a slide show to show my son some of the different styles of art and so I thought I might share it here in case anyone else would like to follow what we are doing.  Our craft will be doing pointillism art or dot art painting with q-tips!  Some of the other themes for later weeks are Dinosaurs, African Animals, Sea Creatures, Transportation, Navigation, Cooking, and Building/Architecture.

If you would like a copy of the slide show, I am happy to send you the file, just leave a comment for me.


Happy Summer!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pancake Squares

I just made these this morning and they are super easy and good...two of my favorite combinations!

Pancake Squares 

The original recipe comes from this blog

I tweaked it a tiny but and doubled the below recipe to make a 9x13 sized pan and I think I probably 

Could have put it in a bigger pan for shorter pancakes.  These were big and fluffy and good and great with fruit and any of your favorite toppings.  We had them with fruit smoothies and they were great!

One thing I really love about this recipe is that everyone can eat at the same time and you are not having to make 

Batches and batches...and spending forever in the kitchen.

If you have egg allergies in your group, I think you could use an egg substitute with this without any problems.


3/4 cup milk
2 T. melted butter
1 large egg
1 T. sugar
1 cup flour
2 t. baking powder

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease an 8×8 baking dish ( or 9x13 or larger if you want short pancakes and doible the recipe).  i just turned on the mixer and let it go as i added the ingredients.  i had it on medium high until it was time to add the flour, then took it down to low.  In a large mixing bowl, beat together milk, butter and egg. Add sugar, then gradually beat the flour in (1/4th -1/2 cup at a time). Carefully stir in the baking powder and salt. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serves 3-5, depending on their love for pancakes.  I'm going to put leftovers in the fridge and warm up again tomorrow.  They visually remind me of corn bread because they are light in color and look like cornbread but they are light and very much e consistency of regular pancakes.  I think next time I will spread butter on it a few minutes before it's done to see if I can make it a little more golden colored.

Hope you love 'em!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

No-Bake Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Granola Bars

No-Bake Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Granola Bars

I made these last night for our family night snack and I love them.  They have turned in to my favorite granola bar and I am planning on making them again.  My batch made 12 bars and I used Brown Rice Crispies instead of regular ones but I am sure either would work since they taste about the same.
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
2 T. peanut butter (I used smooth)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups quick cooking oats (not rolled)
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (I used what I had which were chips that were actually a little bigger than normal, I just tried to chop them up a bit, but did a pretty lousy job of it so I have big chocolate chunks)

In a large bowl, stir oats and rice cereal together. Set aside. In a small pot, melt butter, honey, peanut butter and brown sugar together over medium high heat until it comes to a bubble. Reduce the heat and cook 2 minutes.  Take off the heat and pour in vanilla and stir. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well to moisten all ingredients. Pour into lightly greased small jelly roll pan or cookie sheet and press out to be about 3/4 inch in thickness.  If you want to fill the entire pan, I would double the recipe.  I used a glass cake dish that was 14X9 and I filled it about half way.  Make sure you firmly press it together so that it is compact and looks like a large granola bar.  
Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and press down lightly. Cool on a counter top to room temperature for two hours or until the chocolate chips are set before cutting into bars. Wrap in parchment or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
Makes about 12 bars.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Menu Planning

I mentioned earlier that I am trying out some new recipes here and there and I have been doing pretty good about my menu planning, so I thought I would share my menu for this week here.  I will post the recipes as I make them.  Some of them I have used before but I am going to tweak them a little bit and then I will share the recipe and how it turned out.  Some of these are brand new recipes I am giving a go!  Happy Eating!

My menu is planned for the week:

Tuesday-Ham and cheese quiche with spinach salad and rasbberry orange scones
Wednesday-Mustard Roasted Fish with carrots, sweet potatoes and salad
Friday-Pizza night with salad
Saturday-Tilapia Piccata, carrots, sweat potatoes, salad
Sunday-Swedish meatballs with mushrooms, egg noodles, green beans and salad

Monday-Angel hair pasta with Alfredo sauce (It is a lower fat recipe but it is good) with spinach salad and roasted vegetables.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mexican Steak Tostados

Mexican Steak Tostados

3 spray(s) cooking spray
12 corn tortilla(s)
1 pound of thinly sliced sirloin steak (or buy it thicker and cut it thinly when it is done) or flank steak
1 tsp minced garlic or garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt and pepper to sprinkle on steak
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup(s) salsa
1/2 cup(s) cilantro, fresh, chopped, divided
1/4 cup(s) shredded cheddar cheese or Mexican
1 medium plum tomato(es), diced
1 small avocado, diced
1 T fresh lime juice
1/2 head of shredded lettuce
1/2 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced

Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place tortillas on prepared pan; bake until crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes, turning over half way

While those are crisping up, coat a large skillet or cast iron skillet with cooking spray; heat over high heat. Place diced red pepper in skillet and cook until edges are turning brown. Remove from skillet and place in small bowl. Next place the chopped onion in the same skilled (may need to add a little oil) and cook until caramelized then remove from skillet. Sprinkle steak with cumin, salt, and pepper. Make sure the skillet is nice and hot, Then place the seasoned steak on the skillet to get a nice sear. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then turn to sear other side. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Once rested, thinly slice steak into strips then cut them into inch long pieces.

Next, in a bowl, mash beans and salsa with a fork or potato masher until well-blended and most of the beans are mashed; stir in 1/4 cup cilantro and salsa.

To assemble chalupas, spread 1/4 bean mixture over each tortilla (slightly less than 1/4 cup); top each with about 1/3 cup of thinly sliced steak and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon cheese. Bake until cheese melts and topping is hot, about 3 minutes. (Broil pizzas to brown cheese even more, if desired.)

Next, in a small bowl, toss together tomato, avocado, remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and lime juice.

Remove chalupas from the oven and serve with chopped lettuce, caramelized red peppers and onions, sour cream, and avocado mix.

We all loved these and agreed to add them into our regular food rotation!

Pictures show chalupa right out of the oven and then one topped with avocado and lettuce.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Chicken Cashew Lettuce Wraps

Another new recipe!

We had this on Saturday night and it was another hit!  Hope you like it, too!

I originally got this recipe from
and I followed it almost to the T.  Here is my slightly altered version below.  Also, I had some left over chicken so I pulled out my wok today for lunch and stir fried up some veggies and added the chicken, a little beef broth (like 1/3 cup) and a little more soy sauce and it was great with some leftover brown rice.

The recipe says this will make 6-8 lettuce wraps, so I doubled the recipe.

For stir fry sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon fresh red chili paste (I use Sambal Oelek--pictured below--by Huy Fong Foods, you find it in the Asian section but you could just use 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes)
¼ teaspoon fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil

For Cashew Chicken:
2 raw chicken breasts (about ¾ lb. total), diced
8 leaves of greenleaf or iceburg lettuce
3 tablespoons canola oil (or oil of choice)
1 cup onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ cup cashews, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
For stir fry sauce:
  1. Mix all stir fry sauce ingredients making sure to dissolve brown sugar. Set aside.
For Cashew Chicken:
  1. Heat oil in pan over medium high heat. Add diced chicken and brown (about 6-8 minutes, depending on the size of your chunks). Remove chicken from oil and set aside. Add onions, garlic and 1 teaspoon soy sauce to pan, saute until starting to caramelize and brown on edges. When onions and garlic are brown and tender, add stir fry sauce, browned chicken, and cashews. Saute mixture for a few minutes and remove from heat.
  2. Spoon chicken mixture into individual lettuce leaves.   I served it with brown rice on the side.
Hope you love it!

Easy Peasy Tangy Chicken

I have been trying out a bunch of new recipes lately and here is another good one that I want to share.  What I like best about this recipe is that I can bake this with some veggies tossed in olive oil and dinner is all done at the same time in the oven and I am not having to be in the kitchen.

Easy Peasy Tangy Chicken (Dang, I forgot to take a picture!)

Turn oven on to bake at 425 so it will be to temperature before you put them in.

4 raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts either pounded so they are thinner that normal or cut so they are the same height all the way across
1 cup of sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, or mayonnaise (I actually used a combo of low far sour cream and yogurt)
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese (I used grated but the tiny bits would also work just fine)
1cup of Italian bread crumbs (I used Panko bread crumbs and sprinkled in some Italian seasoning because that is what I had on hand.)

Take the Parmesan Cheese and mix it with the sour cream (or yogurt or mayo) in a small bowl.  Then take each chicken breast and coat both sides with the Parmesan mixture and then coat them with the bread crumbs.  You can either sprinkle on the bread crumbs on both sides or put the bread crumbs in a plate and lay the chicken down in them for a more thorough coating.  Play the chicken breasts in a baking dish (I used a glass cake dish that was 9X13 that I had lined with parchment for easier clean up) and put them in the 425 degree Fahrenheit (218 Celsius) and bake for about 25-30 minutes (or until the chicken is cooked through and has no pink in the middle).

Now, just set your timer and wait!  I had chopped up sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and asparagus before I made the chicken, tossed them in olive oil, spread them out on a cookie sheet and sprinkled on some salt and pepper to roast them at the same time, turning them about half way through.

The chicken is really moist and has a nice tang from the sour cream mixture.  Everyone at my table, from the 6 year old on up, liked it!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Broiled Cod with Thai Coconut Curry Sauce

I tried out this new recipe tonight and we all loved it. It reminds me of my favorite Thai restaurant in Australia called Jasmine Rice. I think you could also do this with roasted chicken, if you aren't a fish person. It is also gluten free! You could use tilapia as well. Yum!


2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, white to pale green, chopped
2 heaping teaspoons red curry paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 (13.5 fl. oz) can coconut milk (or light coconut milk)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
4-6 (5-6 oz) Atlantic Cod fillets ( I got mine at Sam's in the freezer section)
Salt to season tilapia with

3 cups hot cooked brown (cook according to the package directions)

Heat 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add peppers and green onions; cook about 5 minutes until cooked through, stirring periodically. Stir in curry paste and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sugar, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer (do not boil) and let summer about 5-10 minutes, depending in how thick you want the sauce. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.

Preheat broiler.

Brush fish with 1 teaspoon oil and sprinkle with a little bit of salt on both sides (my fish were almost completely thawed, I had set them out a little earlier). Place fish on a baking sheet that has been coated with cooking spray (I put foil on the baking sheet for easier clean up). Broil for about 3 1/2-4 minutes on one side, turn fish over and continue broiling for another 3 1/2 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sauce and rice, I added roasted vegetables on the side. Serves 4-5.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hello 2013

Wow, where did that last year go?

Seriously, it ZOOMED by.

I am working on my goals for 2013 and will try to get back going on my blog now that I am back in the USA.

I wonder what my word will be this year?

Stay tuned!


Sunday, January 1, 2012

My word for 2012--BELIEVE

Happy New Year to you all!

This year we had the honor of being one of the first people to usher in the new year! I think New Zealand is first and Australia is second...but don't quote me on that!

I decided to pick a word that would encompass my goals and motivations for the year. My word is BELIEVE!

I want to:

BELIEVE that Heavenly Father wants what is best for me and will lead to my ultimate happiness, so I must BELIEVE in Him and myself to make that happen.

BELIEVE that I can complete a mini-triathlon in Sydney in October.

BELIEVE that life is meant to be lived actively and not sedentary.

BELIEVE in myself.

BELIEVE in families and work hard to make mine even better, closer, and more wonderful that they already are.

BELIEVE in the goodness in people. Deep inside there is always something good. (Sometimes you have to look really deep!)

BELIEVE that I can become an "academic". (This goes along the whole PhD quest I am currently in.)

Even when you think you can't...BELIEVE that you can.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Grad school and believing

Hello folks,

I haven't posted on this blog for a while...sorry about that! Since I also blog about our Aussie experience over at Aggies In Oz , sometimes I just forget to update this little old blog over here. There is also the whole 'working on my PhD' thing that sometimes takes my time as well.

As I sit here in Australia at 11:25 am Sunday (Australian time) it is 8:27 pm Saturday night in that I love. My little boy and I are staying home from church today because we both aren't feeling well, we have your typical winter cough with a chance of an upper respiratory infection coming, so we are trying to take it easy and get some rest.

Life here is good. It seems like when we first got here we thought life was a slower pace here and from talking to my Aussie friends, that is the case here on the coast but when you get up closer to Sydney, it is just as fast paced as what I am used to, they think. However, now that we are settled and working and schooling and everything else, it does seem like has sped up a little.

I am teaching 3 classes this semester in Tourism Marketing and I love it. Classes are set up differently here, you have one big lecture that includes all the people in the subject and it could be as many as 800 people, I hear. Then, each lecture is broken into sections of 25 people and I teach 3 of those sections. So, I get more direct experience with the students and I do the grading and such. So far, it has been great and I do like it although it does make life seem a lot busier.

My thesis work is moving along and it is always a juggling act. When you are in academia, there is this balance among going to conferences, presenting, writing in academic journals, writing your thesis/dissertation, teaching, researching, etc. that seems to be a real juggling act. I think I spent the first semester just figuring out what everything was and what it entailed. I feel like I have a better idea is a little daunting but who ever said this would be easy? As big of a task as a PhD is, you just have to take it one step at a time and just keep on plowing through...just like everything in life. Sometimes it is hard, sometimes it is intriguing, sometimes it is exciting, sometimes you feel dumb, sometimes you feel brilliant, and sometimes all those emotions happen within a 15 minute span! However, through it all, I fell blessed to have the opportunity to be here and I feel like I have already learned and grown just in the last 7 months.

7 months, we have been here on our adventure 7 has flown by! As we are ending Winter, I am excited to have the Spring come because I am sure it is breathtakingly beautiful here. I can already start to see the budding of a few flowers and can only imagine the splendor of Spring in bloom here. I am sure it is magnificent!

A few weeks ago, some friends of mine went and spent a day up in Sydney for a women's conference called 'Time Out for Women'. This is a program put on by Deseret Book and it was a full day of speakers and singer Hillary Weeks. It was really one of the most wonderful experiences. There were almost 2000 women there from all sorts of cultures and backgrounds but they all had one thing in mind, making themselves a better person. I came away from the day feeling inspired and grounded. It was something I needed, it was a nice break from studying, it was fun to be with my friends, it was fun to laugh and share in our struggles as women, and the presenters were wonderful and you just felt like they were speaking right to your heart. It was one of those weekends where you feel like your bucket is full and you want to go spread the message that you are a loved child of God and that times may be hard but you can become something great. The theme was "Choose to become" and that referenced the scripture in Mark 9:23 that says "all things are possible to him that believeth." We all left there believing that we would be okay, that we would try harder, not be as hard on ourselves, and that we were in this thing together. We are here with each other and with our Heavenly Father to make it through this life and to truly become what we are destined to be. It is a beautifully basic concept but one that it is good to be reminded of from time to time.

So, as I head into my birthday week and get another year older (gad!), I am reflective on the last year or so and am just amazed at the change my life has taken, but it has been a good change and one that has been great for our family too. We didn't really know we were in a rut, but we were and I am glad to be out of it, even though it was an uncomfortable and unexpected climb, but the view is much better back on the road. We all have ruts in our lives, times where we are just in a routine and not really growing or expanding and just kind of surviving. Although I think there are times when we have to do that just to survive, I hope we can all see clearly enough to want to see the view from back on the road, moving upward and onward and stretching ourselves to grow.

So, this week, look for the beauty in yourself and see what you can do to polish yourself up a little and give you more shine, because you are so worth the effort.

Love from Oz,


A few pictures from our fun weekend!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cornbread Recipe

One of the things we miss here in Australia is the availability of corn bread mixes! I have tried a few recipes and this is the best one so far and my hubby loves it.

  • 1-½ cup Flour
  • ½ cups Cornmeal (We don't have cornmeal in Australia so I use ground polenta, which is the same thing pretty much)
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ⅔ cups Sugar
  • 1-¼ cup Milk
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons Oil
  • ½ cups Butter, Melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine liquids in a separate bowl. Add liquids to dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Don't over-mix. Pour into a greased square 8″ or 9″ pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until top is golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chicken Nuggets

I made these last night and they were a hit! My little boy loved them and we thought they were reminiscent of Chick-Fil-A, which doesn't exist here in Oz so were were excited for that.

1 wholeLarge Egg
1 cupMilk
2 wholeSkinless And Boneless Chicken Breasts
1-1/4 cupFlour
1-1/2 TablespoonPowdered Sugar or Icing Sugar (that is what they call it in Oz)
2 teaspoonsSalt
1 teaspoonPepper
4 cupsPeanut Oil Or Canola Oil, For Frying (I don't think I used quite this much)

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and stir in the milk. Trim any fat away from the chicken. Cube chicken into bite size pieces. Place chicken in the milk mixture and cover. Let it marinate for 2–4 hours in the fridge. This will make the chicken very nice and tender.

In a gallon size resealable baggie, combine flour, powdered sugar, salt and pepper. Seal and shake to combine.

Place about 2 inches of oil in a medium deep pot. Over medium high heat (more towards the high side) heat oil until hot. If using a thermometer let the temperature reach 375°F. If you don’t have a fancy gadget like most people, I always test my oil by dropping a few drops of water into it. You want it to sizzle and not pop too much. Adjust your heat if necessary.

Using a fork or tongs, remove the cut chicken from the milk mixture and place into the flour mixture. Seal and shake until nuggets are completely coated. Place about 6 to 8 nuggets into the hot oil and let them cook until golden brown, turning halfway through once the edge of your chicken starts to turn white, about 1 minute each side. Always double check to see if any chicken you make is cooked through. I always just make a tiny cut to see if it’s pink. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Repeat until all nuggets are cooked.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce!

Beautiful Basics

Life is about a journey, and you are the only one who can make yours... So, embrace life: the good, the bad, and the is the only one you've got.

Here's to being Beautiful, inside and out!