Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Recipe--Oven Baked Barbecue Chicken

A few years ago, I discovered the cooking show "America's Test Kitchen". I like their approach to cooking (very methodical) and for the last few years I have taken their magazine, "Cooks Illustrated". During my cooking periods, I try to make at least one recipe a month from their magazine and this is one from them. I have tweaked it a little here and there but this is basically their recipe.

Oven-Barbecued Chicken

1 bottle of barbecue sauce (18 ounce size)
olive oil
4-6 boneless skinless chicken breast. (I usually just have frozen chicken breasts in my freezer and the chicken breasts need to all be the same size to cook evenly in the oven, and often I have to cut them in 1/2 to make them the same size.)
bacon (optional)

FYI: Cooks Illustrated does taste tests and their winner for the best store purchased barbecue sauce is Bulls Eye Original. So, that is what I use.

Heat one Tablespoon of oil in the bottom of a ovenproof skillet on high heat until beginning to smoke. (If you don't have a pan that can go directly from the stove top to the oven, before I did purchase one, I just used a regular frying pan and then later transferred everything to a 9x13 baking dish, however for ease, it is best to use a dutch-oven pan or ovenproof skillet.)
Brown chicken until very light golden brown (1 to 2 minutes on each side--they won't be cooked through just brazed)
Remove chicken from pan and place on a plate.
Using a wooden spoon, scrape up browned bits on bottom of skillet and leave there.
Add sauce and simmer over medium heat until sauce is thick and glossy and spatula leaves a clear empty trail in sauce. (Just to define a little, take spatula and pull through middle of the sauce. If it takes a few seconds to run back together, it is done. There is no specific science to this and my husband and I discovered we liked it better thicker. It usually takes about 5 minutes to thicken.)
Off heat, return chicken to sauce, spoon extra sauce over each piece. (And, if you want, add a few pieces of pre-cooked bacon to the sauce as this time. This is one of my tweaks as I often have a few pieces left over from BLT's. It adds a great extra flavor to this recipe.)
Put skillet in oven and cook for about 10-14 minutes in a 325 degree oven until chicken is cooked through. Then, set to broil and cook another 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate and let rest for about 5 minutes. Serve with the sauce on the side.

Lately, we have been eating this in sandwich form and it is really good on yummy bread with dill pickles. While this recipe looks like it has a lot of steps, once made once, it is very easy and fast (total cooking time about 35 minutes).

Monday, January 28, 2008


When I was serving my mission on Temple Square, President Howard W. Hunter died. It was a strange day to serve on Temple Square because we had many visitors asking about who our current prophet was and our belief in a latter-day prophet. Most of them didn't know our prophet had died and when they found out from us, they had the obvious questions like, "Who will be the new prophet? How is he selected? and How do you know the next man is a true prophet?" I, like most of the missionaries serving on Temple Square that day did our best to answer those questions. Never more than on that day, did I have to look inward and really focus on how I felt about a Latter-day prophet. I LOVED President Hunter. His messages of love and kindness were something that always moved and inspired me to be a better person. I was very upset about his passing and did wonder how things would change when President Hinckley took on the mantle of being the next prophet.

In the days following President Hunter's death, I was lucky enough to attend the viewing and funeral and watch with the other missionaries the announcing of President Hinckley as the next prophet. I was amazed at how seamless it was. A few precious days were spent honoring the wonderful life of President Hunter and then it was back to work with a new prophet.

Today, as I have contemplated President Hinckley's passing, I am moved to marvel again at the beauty of the Lord's systems. Currently, our nation is undergoing a major divisive political campaign in an effort to choose our next president. Our nation is divided more than ever as issues of war, race, gender, and religion are being battled out on both sides. The lies, political maneuverings and drama surrounding this is outstanding. In contrast, in a few days, after viewings and funerals, and many tributes are made to honor President Hinckley, a new prophet for our international church will be named. There will be no speeches, no pulpit stumping (is that the correct jargon?), no internal strife as people vie for the position. Instead, quietly, a new man will slip into the Prophet role and the work will continue. I can't help by think of Josephs Smith's quote which I said almost every day on my mission, ". . .No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. . .but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished.”

Weekend Ramblings

Well, another weekend has come and gone. Some highlights:

--After going out to dinner Friday night, (I'm officially starting my resolution today--oven baked barbecue chicken for dinner), my husband suggested we go to Bed Bath and Beyond to look for some things he has needed at his office. Every time I go into Bed Bath and Beyond, and this was no exception, I get, "the frenzy". I am surrounded by all of these neat things and I start thinking, "I don't have one of those. How have I lived without it for so long? It might make my life so much easier? I might miraculously start liking to make dinner and need these things?" And, because at least at the one by our house, the isles are so close together, we end up with a bunch of things thrown into the cart that my kids have grabbed along the way. I always have to explain to the check-out person, that no, we don't need the 10 spatulas, 2 shower rods, and whatever else has been thrown in.

--Saturday night, we hosted the (I think 4th annual) Film Festival at our house. In honor of the more prestigious Sundance Film Festival, we host our own extended family one. We had a record number of submissions this year (10), with several movies arriving from out of state family. It was as always, a great time. Of course, I spent the whole time being the host and didn't take one picture to post here from it but believe me, we had a great a time and the winner this year was a hilarious spoof film by my husband's cousin spoofing, High School Musical 2's "Bet On It." It really was hilarious and we are huge High School Musical fans.

--We now have one to four o'clock church. For the first time, it doesn't interfere with any one's nap time and as a result, I am loving the afternoon schedule. Leaving church, I was starving and didn't want to go home and make dinner (yes, I have making dinner issues) I told my kids the "Wendy's Ox was in the Mire" and we were going to Wendy's for dinner. My 8 year old said, "Mom, that is breaking the Sabbath and I don't want to and I won't let you." I tried to explain to him what "Ox in the Mire" meant and he wasn't buying it. So, I didn't succumb to my Wendy's leanings and we went home and ate dinner there. After I did have food in my stomach and my blood sugar levels were normal, I thanked him for talking me out of breaking the Sabbath and told him how proud I was of him.

So, it is now Monday morning and back to life. Oh, has anyone seen "The Water Horse"? We saw it last weekend and LOVED it. I would recommend it. A big snow storm is on its way. I really do love the winter.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Yes, I realize it is a little late but I have been thinking about my New Year's Resolutions all morning. From year to year, they never really change but I always try to REfocus on them at the start of the year and evaluate them all year long. So here they are:

1. Make dinner more often for my family, thus saving money and eating around the dinner table together as a family more often. I am a reasonably well educated person who has managed to accomplish quite a long list of things--I'm bilingual for heavens sakes! However, when it comes to making dinner it still eludes me. Every time I make a plan, it fails me because when it comes right down to it, I still have to actually make the dinner, which is the problem. I HATE HATE HATE making dinner. When I do make it, everyone seems to like it and I have been told by people who have eaten the food that I rarely prepare, that I am a pretty good cook, but when it comes down to it, I hate the whole process. But, every year, this is my primary goal and sometimes I am much better than other times.

2. Dejunk every room in my house. This is doable and I just need to step away from the computer and/or a book I am reading to do this. When I say dejunk, I mean a serious deep cleaning of every part of my house and have bags ready to fill. I just did this with my guest room closet and it felt so good. Today, I am attacking my kitchen.

3. Exercise regularly and make our house a "healthy" house. I have really slipped on the whole exercise regularly part but once again, I will start doing it. Once I get into my program, I really am very diligent but if I have a break in my routine, it is hard to start once again. And, unlike most of my friends, I don't like dropping my kids off at the local gym's daycare, so I can workout there. It goes along with my whole, "I only get these kids for a short time" thought process and I don't get babysitters, so I won't do that. So, I just need to either brave the cold and go on my 2 mile walks or get out my tried and true exercise video. Right now, the cold air is calling me, so it looks like I will be doing that. And, once I do the exercising, the whole healthy house follows right behind me.

4. Regular scripture study. Call me a sinner, but when I climb into bed at night, I want to curl up to a good brainless read, not focus intently on my scriptures. So, I need to fit in, sometime in the morning, time to read the scriptures. Since I am not the nursery leader anymore, I have started attending Relief Society for the first time in about 10 years, so I have been feeling more uplifted during the week, which is inspiring me to do likewise daily at home. Just to ease my conscience a little, I do read the Ensign and Friend front to back every month and those are both full of scripture references, which I do read.

So, there you have it. I have read a lot of your goals, many of which I would like to incorporate but for now, I think these four are all I can handle. Oh, and while I have been typing this my favorite household item, my Roomba has been vacuuming for me. GREATEST INVENTION FOR MOTHERS EVER!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Talbots Sale Clothes

Oddly enough, I have had several people ask me about my Talbots sale purchases. Anyway, back in the day before I had kids, I shopped at Talbots almost exclusively--particularly their twice a year sales. I took pictures of me in them to send to my mother and since they are still on my computer, here they all are, on me, in full glory.

At last checking, all of these things were still available, on sale on line. And, I should say that the brown skirt and sweater I wore to church on Sunday and I got a TON of compliments. More compliments than usual. The green dress I wore the week before and got several (but less than the skirt and sweater) compliments as well. And, FYI, I nor anyone in my family works at Talbots all though we should since we spend plenty of money there. Growing up, we all joked that the reason why they opened a Talbots in Boulder was because of all of our purchases from that zip code. Oh, Dentist husband is much handsomer in real life--weird picture of him. Another FYI: My friend Diane's husband designed the tie he is wearing. Another piece of info, my friend Paige is hosting a give away of some beautiful art. So, there you have it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


My brother's family has come and gone. It was a great weekend for them to be here because we had PLENTY of snow.

Yesterday, they actually closed Little Cottonwood Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon required four wheel drive or chains to travel up it. Since they had neither, they ended up staying home during the day but were able to make it up the canyon that night for some great night skiing.

Meanwhile, my kids and niece and nephews had a great time out in the snow making forts and tunnels, etc. Oops! Not a great picture--I have others that turned out brighter. Oh well.

And, now more than ever, I am grateful for this WONDERFUL Christmas gift from my mom and dad.
It really was a life saver as it constantly had gloves, hats and boots hanging off of it all weekend long. I have since moved it over a heating vent and it is amazing how much faster everything dries on it. I don't know how I lived without it.

Oh, my blender just died. That is now a total of three wedding gifts that have died in a week. I guess 10 years is the magic age for appliances to die.

Friday, January 18, 2008

By the Skin of My Teeth

Well, my brother's family arrived last night. I got the house ready by the SKIN OF MY TEETH! I did have to dump a big pile of stuff of my bedroom and since most people, my brother included, don't go into people's private master bedrooms, all is good. So, they are off skiing today--Brighton and Solitude and tonight we are off to Thaifoon for dinner. Two of his kids have Celiac and they gave a very comprehensive gluten free menu. After dinner, I am sure we will have some very fun and intense games of Speed Scrabble. I LOVE having visitors, especially when I actually do get the house ready in time. Again, skin of my teeth (still cleaning while I see their car pulling up.) But now, all is great.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Eight is Great

'i'm the king of eight and i'm here to state that everything here has to total eight.'

8 things I'm passionate about:

1. my husband and kids
2. reading
3. recording family history
4. Mint chocolate chip ice cream
5. Good teachers for my kids
6. being warm
7. eating out
8. creating fun memories for my family

8 things I want to do before I die:

1. Visit Sweden--my homeland
2. Submit a family name to the temple
3. Compete in a mini Triathlon
4. Make 7 dinners in a row for my family
5. Make a hand sewn quilt
6. Take my husband to Israel
7. Finish reading all of Charles Dickens works (I should be done with this goal this coming year)
8. Become a good tennis player.

8 books I have read recently:
1. A Pathway to the Seas--David McCullough
2. Austenland--Shannon Hale
3. Christmas romances all Christmas season (I loved Christmas Wishes by Debbie McCommer)
4. Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland
5. Twilight
6. New Moon
7. Three Weeks with My Brother (not a big fan of that one--I liked it but not very much)
8. The Wednesday Letters

8 things I often say:

1. Wow!
2. You little menace (said with great love to my one year old)
3. Awesome!
4. I'm cold.
5. Really? (After listening to another story from one of my kids)
6. Let's go out to dinner!
7. You are just going to have to deal with it. (Said about once an hour after one of my kids claim an injustice of some sort)
8. Thank you for providing such a great living for us. (Said to Dentist husband almost nightly)

8 things that attract me to friends:
1. Good company
2. Love of eating out
3. sense of humor
4. ability to engage in meaningful/real conversations about important things
5. knowing they can take my frank comments
6. Their children engage in similar activities as my children
7. Their values are the same as mine
8. They are nice to their kids.

8 songs and albums I could listen to over and over:
1. Fields of Gold--Sting
2. The Luckiest--Ben Folds
3. Best of Sting
4. Best of Fo Fighters (for those of you who know me, I know that is a weird one but I really like the Fo Fighters)
5. Any Jon Rutter music sung well
6. Anything toothsome #2 is singing
7. Pacobel's Cannon in G
8. Mermaid's Sound Track (Not, The Little Mermaid but Mermaids--a movie with Cher in it--Thank you roommate from my freshman year. )

8 things I learned this year:
1. Diet Coke is a wonderful drink and is OK to drink in LARGE quantities.
2. 10 years later, my husband and I can still talk each other's ears off until way into the night.
3. The importance of "being still" for several minutes a day.
4. Having two kids at the same school is twice as fun. I have learned so much from their joy of elementary school.
5. Daily, I can sneak in at least a mile of exercise.
6. Reading others blogs can make you feel connected to others going through similar things
7. Having a one year old at Christmas around Christmas decorations is REALLY hard.
8. Having a son in competitive soccer wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

8 things you Might not Know about me
1. While I can sing solos and always do when asked, I HATE doing it.
2. While I am a Utah transplant, I love living here and get furious when I hear other people saying unkind things about "living in Utah".
3. I am a huge Glen Beck fan--secretly hoping he and his wife will become my husband's and my best friends
4. I lived in Central America as a child.
5. I would rather read all day, than do pretty much anything else.
6. I HATE confrontation, but if I have to do it, I am willing to fight for myself, my husband and kids.
7. I have never pierced my ears
8. Because I have little kids that wake me, I haven't set an alarm in over 7 years.

If you are reading this, you are tagged.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I just realized that Thursday is the day that my brother and three of his kids come into town to come skiing. I have known about them coming for quite sometime but all of the sudden the time is here. I am currently looking around my house and realizing that the chaos that is currently here is fine if you live here (and contribute to) on a daily basis is not so good when out of state family is coming to visit. And, how did it get this bad in the first place? Aren't I constantly (but obviously not very efficiently) cleaning? Really if it wasn't from my Roomba, I think I would burst into tears. I would call a service to come and clean but first I have to shovel out all of the mess first and I don't think I have time to do that and arrange a cleaning service to come. Crap! Crap! Crap! Would it be rude to make them wear blind folds for the first say 5 hours of their visit and when they got back from skiing everything could be done? Oh and it doesn't help that I just started my period after two years. Yes, two years.

Laundry Folding

I'm always reworking my systems. It seems that once I finally get a good schedule figured out, my kids change and I have to come up with a new plan. So, here is my latest laundry folding plan, that thus far has been working really well.

Right after my kids get into bed, I start folding all of the laundry from the day. Their bedrooms are across the hall from my laundry room and they always start to talk to me. I "allow" them to get out of their beds and put their clothes away. They feel like they are getting away with something because they are out of bed after I have officially put them to bed and I get help with putting everything away. It has been a win/win situation.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Well, I finally did it. I went and purchased us a piano today! In December, not only did I turn 35 but my husband and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary. To celebrate both grand events, he said he would buy me a piano. However, he let me do all of the research and go and pick it out and order it. (He is a wise man since I have strong opinions.) I have spent the last 6 months researching and finally today, all the stars lined up and I went and ordered it. It will be here next week. I can hardly stand it!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Getting Stuff Done Even When It Was Not on My Original List

I have had a really productive day, even if I didn't accomplish anything on my original list. Let me explain:

I woke up this morning thinking I would finish folding my laundry, clean the bathrooms, visit teach, go to Costco (how i hate going to Costco) and if I was really organized, maybe make it to Eddie Bauer to buy some new jeans.

Instead, this is how my day went:

--As my husband is leaving for work, "Can you stop by the office sometime and get the supplies list? I really you need you to go TODAY as we are low on a lot of things."

--Toothsome #4 has several melt downs, making folding laundry not possible.

--I took toothsome #3 to pre-school, ran home, had toothsome #2 read to me. She really wanted to finish her book today, so what is normally a 15 minute activity, turned into a 35 minute activity.

--Load up the car, go visiting teaching.

--Take toothsome #2 to the bus stop, go to Dentist husband's office. Talk to Dentist husband's office manager for about 45 minutes, realize I don't have my check book for the Costco run. Go to my car and the "Change oil" comes on. I 10 minutes away from the Honda dealership, so I go straight there. I was told it would be a 1/2 hour. 45 minutes later, I ask what is going on. They forgot about me. 1 hour and 15 minutes later, we are finally out of the dealership.

--Call from Dentist husband, "Have you gone and gotten the supplies yet?" So, I decide to forget Costco and run into the local grocery store and get his supplies.

--Drive home, remember I still have two checks from soccer that have to be deposited at the bank and go there. Pull into my driveway and realize that I need to shovel the snow off of it. Do that.

--Walk into the house and discover toothsome #3 has mashed Goldfish crackers all over my kitchen counter into a fine mist. Spend the next 30 minutes, cleaning the kitchen.

--Make toothsome #1 practice spelling words. Pick up q-tip mess in main bathroom created by toothsome #4. Sit down in front of my computer, cruise Perez Hilton web site and then decide to blog about all of this.

So, off to Barbacoa for dinner (Dentist husband is taking toothsome #3 to Hot Dog on a Stick for their Adventure tonight.) I'll fold laundry tomorrow.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Good Read--Austenland by Shannon Hale

If you have read any other books by Shannon Hale (Goose Girl, The Princess Academy), this is just as good if not better than her others. If you are a Jane Austen fan, you will LOVE this book--particularly if you are a Mr. Darcy fan. Unlike her others, this was written for an adult female audience and is just a fun, sit back and read this in the tub type of book.

On a side note, I just wiped off my kitchen counters for what has felt like the 10 millionth time. What is it about kitchen counters? They are ALWAYS dirty.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Death of the Toaster Oven

Back when my husband was single and just starting in dental school, he was offered a great opportunity to live in the basement of the home of an elderly lady--the mother of one of his professors. The rent was super cheap and my husband had to mow the lawn, take her blood pressure, and just keep a basic eye on things. The basement had its own entrance off an ally, its own bathroom and a small refrigerator and sink. It was very bare bones but for a single man with four years of expensive dental school ahead of him, it was a great set up.

Fast forward 3 and 1/4years later. Dentist husband and I are about to be married (we met at the end of his first year of school) and we were asked to continue living in the basement of this home. The professor's wife informed her husband that no woman should be expected to live in that basement without a kitchen, so strictly out of kindness to us, they converted an old dark room into a small kitchen for us. (They actually did a lot of improvements to it but the kitchen being the key point in this story). The only problem was that there was no 220 outlet for a full sized oven. After doing a lot of shopping around, I found the largest toaster oven available (a Black and Decker). It seemed super expensive at the time (I am thinking about $70) and hoped that someone would get it for us as a wedding present. We did get it (as part of a group gift from a group of nice ladies in my ward). I ordered some special cooking pans that fit into the toaster oven--it had muffin tins, a cookie sheet, a pan with raised-sides, so I could make a small pan of brownies or lasagna. It made enough food to serve two people. I remember placing that toaster oven on my counter and feeling so grown up! I was newly married and I remember the first meal I made in it was toasted cheese sandwiches.

Well, we have used that toaster oven daily, multiple times a day, for the last ten years and it finally died this past week. I had mixed emotions throwing it out. In my current, married with four kids life in a house we built four years ago, it took up way too much counter space. It could only make two toasted cheese sandwiches at a time, which was not enough when making lunch for my kids. It was old and out-dated looking in our stainless steeled appliance kitchen. I now have double ovens and a large assortment of pans and so I didn't use it for making small batches of cookies, brownies, etc. The toaster oven had quit toasting evenly a few years ago and during a visit from my parents, my dad out of frustration, went and purchased us a regular toaster. So, yes, it was time for it to die, but putting it in the trash can, all I could think about was how I felt taking it out of the box 10 years ago, feeling so grateful to have it and feeling so grown up. So, like a beloved pet, I am in no hurry to replace it. It served me well for 10 years and I have a silly empty feeling now that it is gone.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Dropping Like Flies

Well, the stomach flu hit our house BIG time over New Year's eve. We offered to host the family party at our house and for various reasons, everyone turned us down except our in-laws. And thank goodness! We had just finished eating our big meal (see previous post) when toothsome #3 started throwing up. About an hour later (just after I had handed out the awards) toothsome #1 lost his cookies. My in-laws, sensing a trend, decided to leave and about a 1/2 hour later, I got hit. Fortunately, dentist husband and toothsomes 2 and 4 had already had this bug several days earlier. Their version was a much milder case, so it didn't even register in my mind that this could become an epidemic. Well, finally 48 hours later, we are ALL doing better. The upside to this is that I am so reminded how great it feels to be healthy. And, it is much better to be the nurse helping the sickos than be the sick one. Good things to remember. Oh, and the steak (before I threw it up) was one of the best marinades my husband has come up with. The balsamic vinegar made all of the difference.