Friday, January 30, 2009

The Language of SJ

Just in case you ever need a translation...
Wah hoo hoo













Myoo or Poochoo



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Derby

One of those rites of passage, I guess. The Pinewood Derby. I-man couldn't have been more thrilled.

This was his design

The initial paint job

It takes a steady hand to paint the control panel

The finished product. See the little driver? His car won the award for the "Best Paint Job"

Off to the races!

He was kind of bummed that his car wasn't one of the top four but he certainly had a great time!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Recipe Sharing

I have been trying a bunch of new recipes lately. I got them off of top 100 list. So far the ones I have tried have been a success. Are you interested? I will also include what I did differently...

Baked Chicken
4 chicken breasts, with bone and skin
1/4 cup butter, melted
1-2 teaspoon Season-All salt (I use McCormick's)

1-Preheat oven to 400°F.
2-Spray a shallow baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
3-Rinse chicken breast under cool running water.
4-Pat chicken dry with paper towels.
5-Place chicken in dish.
6-Brush the melted butter over the chicken, using all the butter.
7-Sprinkle with seasoned salt.
8-Bake for 50-60 minutes or until cooked through.
9~NOTE~Chicken takes only 50 minutes in my oven.
10-Don't over cook, as they might turn out tough.

I actually used chicken tenders and put them in a big roasting pan with cubed carrots and potatoes. I seasoned the chicken per the recipe and I seasoned the veggies with olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme. I roasted it all together - covered for the first half, uncovered for the last half. It was a great one dish meal except my carrots weren't as tender as I would have liked (after we ate, I actually put the veggies back in the oven for about 10 minutes). Maybe I would cut them smaller next time? Or put the veggies in a different dish so I don't have to overcook my chicken in order to have tender veggies. But it was great because I made a ton and had perfect leftovers for my next recipe...

Delicious Chicken Pot Pie
1 cup potato, diced
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup chopped carrot
1/3 cup melted margarine
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 pie crusts (either store bought or your own recipe)
1-Preheat oven to 400°F.
2-Saute onion, celery, carrots and potatoes in butter for 10 minutes.
3-Add flour to sauteed mixture, stirring well Cook one minute stirring constantly.
4-Combine broth and half and half
5-Gradually stir into vegetable mixture
6-Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly
7-Stir in salt and pepper; add chicken and stir well
8-Pour into shallow 2 quart casserole dish and top with pie shells
9-Cut slits to allow steam to escape.
10-Bake for 40-50 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly and cooked through.

Since I already had carrots and potatoes ready to go, I just sauteed the celery and onion in butter (not margarine) and then added the flour, etc. I didn't have half and half so I used whole milk and then added a can of cream of chicken soup to make it even creamier. I used frozen Marie Callendars pie crusts (these are so good! no need to make homemade crusts!) and just put pie crusts on top of the mixture (not in a traditional pie form). Talk about comfort food! Yummy!

Broccoli Cheese Soup
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 medium chopped onion
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half cream
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 lb fresh broccoli
1 cup carrot, julienned
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
1-Sauté onion in butter. Set aside.
2-Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and add the half & half.
3-Add the chicken stock. Simmer for 20 minutes.
4-Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat 20-25 minutes.
5-Add salt and pepper. Can be puréed in a blender but I don't. Return to heat and add cheese. Stir in nutmeg.

This was very good but had kind of an interesting texture...kind of grainy? I wondered if it was because I used pre-shredded cheese. I think next time I will grate the cheese fresh myself to see if that helps. I didn't puree the soup in a blender but I did take to it with a potato masher - just to break up the big chunks of broccoli. I also found it to be very thick so I added more cream and then I started feeling guilty so I started adding milk instead. I liked the nutmeg!

Mongolian Beef (based on P.F. Chang's)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
vegetable oil, for frying (about 1 cup)
1 lb flank steak
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 large green onions
1-Make the sauce by heating 2 tsp of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over med/low heat.
2-Don't get the oil too hot.
3-Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches.
4-Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then raise the heat to about medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
5-Remove it from the heat.
6-Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4" thick bite-size slices.
7-Tilt the blade of your knife at about a forty five degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts.
8-Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef.
9-Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.
10-As the beef sits, heat up one cup of oil in a wok (you may also use a skillet for this step as long as the beef will be mostly covered with oil).
11-Heat the oil over medium heat until it's nice and hot, but not smoking.
12-Add the beef to the oil and sauté for just two minutes, or until the beef just begins to darken on the edges.
13-You don't need a thorough cooking here since the beef is going to go back on the heat later.
14-Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly.
15-After a couple minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out and onto paper towels, then pour the oil out of the wok or skillet.
16-Put the pan back over the heat, dump the meat back into it and simmer for one minute.
17-Add the sauce, cook for one minute while stirring, then add all the green onions.
18-Cook for one more minute, then remove the beef and onions with tongs or a slotted spoon to a serving plate.
19-Leave the excess sauce behind in the pan.

I don't make Asian food very often because I feel like it takes so much time. But this wasn't bad and it turned out great. I didn't use fresh garlic or ginger because I find that the refrigerated jars of the minced stuff work great! And I always have it on hand! Instead of dipping each slice of steak in cornstarch - I just tossed the whole bunch in a zip-loc bag with the cornstarch and that worked well. Don't overcook the green onion at the end - it gets soggy. Also - I one and a halved this recipe because I had a 1.5 pound flank steak instead of just one pound. I ended up with a bunch of leftover sauce. So after I removed the steak I dumped in the leftover broccoli and shredded carrots leftover from the soup and let them get tender (just crisp tender - don't overcook!). I decided against the wok and did the whole thing in my new saute pan Wes got me for Christmas. It worked better because all the meat cooked evenly in the oil.

Baked Salmon
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons light olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
2 (6 ounce) salmon fillets
1-In a medium glass bowl, prepare marinade by mixing garlic, light olive oil, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and parsley.
2-Place salmon fillets in a medium glass baking dish, and cover with the marinade.
3-Marinate in the refrigerator about 1 hour, turning occasionally.
4-Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
5-Place fillets in aluminum foil, cover with marinade, and seal.
6-Place sealed salmon in the glass dish, and bake 35 to 45 minutes, until easily flaked with a fork.

Very nice, tender with delicate flavor (of course I had to slather it with my homemade tarter sauce - but that's just me). Again, I used refrigerated minced garlic. I doubled the marinade for 1/2 of a Costco 3.5 pound salmon fillet. I cut the fillet into 3 individual steaks and then marinated them in a zip-loc bag. No fresh parsley on hand so I used dried. I baked mine for about 40 minutes but remember - the salmon will still cook after you remove it from the oven - especially while it remains in the foil packet. So check it with a fork at 35 minutes. I probably could have removed mine at that point. Would have been nice served with some fresh lemon too. Everyone in my family liked this - even the baby. Addie has a salmon phobia but wasn't included in the dinner plans because she had 4 teeth pulled yesterday. It was chicken noodle soup for her!

Well, that's it for now. I will let you know how the next batch goes! Enjoy!

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Lady Luck Invitational

We spent the weekend in Las Vegas for A's gymnastics meet. We were a little unsure of what we were going to do in Vegas with 4 kids for 4 days but it ended up being a great vacation. Here's the rundown.
The first night we saw this show with the two older kids. What a riot! Completely bizarre but tons of fun. The kids loved it!

The Lady Luck Invitational was the next day and included gyms from Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Arizona and California. A took 9th place for her age group on the uneven bars. You go girl!
The other kids were such troopers as they sat through FOUR hours of gymnastics - watching A for only about six minutes of that entire time. Whew! They looked so cute in their hats the hotel gave them.

That night we just relaxed in the hotel.
The next day started off with breakfast at The Rainfor*st Cafe at the MGM Gr*nd.

The very tired MGM lions (as seen from below).

Then it was off to the gym pool/pizza party.

That evening we ventured into the city again. We ate dinner and watched the talking statue shows at Ceas*rs Palace and then watched the fountain shows at The Bel*agio (coding the casino names to avoid showing up in any web searches).

Poor guy had a stomach ache

Loved these fountain shows! We could have stayed and watched for a lot longer but as the evening progressed, it was clear the Las Vegas party was just getting started. Time for our little family to leave the strip...

Last of all we visited the Hoover Dam. We ran out of time and stamina so we didn't take the tour but it was still very interesting. What was almost just as amazing is the bridge that they are building to divert the traffic off of the dam.

I was a skeptic about taking kids to Las Vegas before this trip. However, I can see now that there is actually a lot to do and see. We did have to walk through our fair share of casinos but it was tolerable. And the streets and casinos have cleaned up a lot since the last time we visited (more than 10 years ago!). We had a great time. Thanks to bro Shawn and friend Melissa for activity ideas and babysitting hook-ups!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Fun family night = six hot dogs and six tickets. (Papa, cousin J, Wes, me and the two oldest)

Following in the footsteps of "me n' Liz" at the BYU basketball games when were little, the kids made their drink cups into megaphones.