Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Sacred Grove

The Sacred Grove
We had a great opportunity to spend a little time at the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, NY. This video also shows the frame home the Smith family lived in after the Log home which is at the very end of the video.

Thanks for watching :)

Philadelphia and Western New York

The bus drive North to Western New York was a long one, so Barry arranged for a terrific BBQ at Chenango State Park. The forest surrounding the pavillion was lush and beautiful.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The second morning in Washington DC

Just a bit from Washington DC, and then I show you the Mann Center for Performing Arts in Philadelphia, PA. Beautiful amphitheater.

And yet more from Washington DC

The end of this video shows the Wolf Trap venue where we performed on Wednesday evening. Very hot and humid! Great audience!!

Okay, the whole Washington DC mall area is enormous! We walked a lot and rode the Hop on Hop off bus. The World War II Memorial is so beautiful! Check out the ceiling of Union Station.

My first day in Washington DC

Wednesday, June 22, 2011. The weather forecast is rain, but I have learned that it doesn't usually rain on the Tabernacle Choir. My roommate, Rosanna Ungerman is my lovely tour guide and my sense of direction. Without her, I would still be in Washington DC. This is such a big place with tons to see, so watch for more videos.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Williamsburg #2

Well, the first video from Colonial Williamsburg was really long, but what a great opportunity to do a flash mob. This smaller video shows some of the other places I saw while there. I hope you enjoy it.

More to come in a day or two. :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Colonial Williamsburg

Well, did you see the Church News site and learn about the Flash Mob at Williamsburg? You can watch this video and see some of it, but the full flash mob video is at the Church News site. The weather was nice and we had our own personal tour guide: Brad Monson. He is an 8th grade American History teacher at a middle school in Provo, UT. My roommate was his principal and they met up after the Flash Mob.

Keep watching for more videos.

Monday, June 20, 2011

First day of Choir Tour

This video may not be very exciting. Travel day and first concert. Hopefully tomorrow will be more entertaining.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tabernacle Choir Tour

After singing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for 15 years, I am going on tour with them. It will be 8 power-packed days on the East Coast of the good ole United States. I have learned how to shoot video, edit it, and post it to this blog. So, come June 20th, watch here for videos of the Taberncle Choir on tour from my perspective.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Complete Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salad (Copycat Recipe)

Okay, this recipe will take a couple of days to make everything, so plan ahead.  In fact, make a double batch and feed a crowd!  Actually, it really doesn't take too much time out of your day, but it's not something you can serve if you don't plan ahead.  Ready?  Here we go:

6 large Tortillas
Shredded cheese, Mexican blend
Cafe Rio Rice (recipe below)
Cafe Rio Black Beans (recipe below)
Cafe Rio Sweet Pork (recipe below)
Lettuce (Not iceberg, use leafy green or Romaine)
Diced tomato, onion and cilantro (pico de gallo)
Guacamole (recipe below)
Sour cream
Tortilla strips
Parmesan cheese
Cafe Rio Cilantro Ranch dressing (recipe below)
or Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette (recipe below)

In an oven-safe bowl, lay a tortilla in the bottom, sprinkle cheese in it and bake in 375 degree oven for about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Remove from oven, add beans, rice, pork, then lettuce and a little scoop of the Pico de Gallo.  Add guacamole and sour cream.  Add tortilla strips, a shake of Parmesan cheese and top with a few cilantro leaves.  Serve with the cilantro ranch or vinaigrette dressing and enjoy.  Makes about 6 salads.

Cilantro-Lime Rice

1 c. uncooked rice
1 tsp. butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 can (15 oz) chicken broth
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. sugar
3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

In a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp. lime, chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.

Cafe Rio Black Beans

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/3 c. tomato juice
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro

In a nonstick skillet, cook garlic and cumin in olive oil over medium heat until you can smell it. Add beans, tomato juice, and salt. Continually stir until heated through. Just before serving stir in the cilantro. A friend added a can or corn, drained, to the beans with a dash of cumin and chili powder, and said it was terrific.

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork

2 pounds pork (we like to use boneless pork ribs)
3 cans Coke (NOT diet)
1/4 c. brown sugar
dash garlic salt
1/4 c. water
1 can diced green chilies
3/4 (1ooz) can red enchilada sauce (I used Old El Paso brand, medium spiciness)
1 c. brown sugar

Put the pork in a heavy duty Ziploc bag to marinade. Add about a can and a half of coke and about 1/4 c. of brown sugar. Marinade for a few hours or overnight.

Drain marinade and put pork, 1/2 can of coke, water, and garlic salt in crock pot on high for about 3-4 hours (or until it shreds easily, but don't let it get TOO dry). Remove pork from crock pot and drain any liquid left in the pot. Shred pork.

In a food processor or blender, blend 1/2 can Coke, chilies, enchilada sauce and remaining brown sugar (about a cup, you can add a little more or less to taste..). If it looks too thick, add more Coke little by little.

Put shredded pork and sauce in crock pot and cook on low for 2 hours. That's it!


3 avocados
Red onion, chopped (about 1/4 c.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (or to taste)
1 large ripe garden tomato (or 2 smaller tomatoes), diced
juice of 1 lime
4-5 shakes green Tabasco sauce
Salt, to taste
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Pit avocados and mash in a bowl. If you like your guac kind of chunky (that's how we like it), coarsely chop with the side of a fork instead of using the fork to mash it straight down. Gently stir in remaining ingredients until well mixed.

Cafe Rio Cilantro Ranch Dressing

1 packet TRADITIONAL Hidden Valley Ranch mix (not BUTTERMILK)
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. buttermilk
2 tomatillos, remove husk, diced
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lime
1 jalepeno (remove the seeds)

Mix all ingredients together in the blender.

Cafe Rio Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

2 tamatillos
1/2 bunch cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. diced jalepeno (canned) --you can use less if you don't like it spicy at all.
Juice of 2 limes
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 c. balsamic vinaigrette (Kraft is good)

In a food processor or blender, combine tamatillos, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, lime juice, and sugar. After it is all blended up well combine with balsamic vinaigrette in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (overnight is best).

Tortilla Strips

10-12 corn tortillas
oil for frying
Kosher salt

Cut tortillas into strips using a pizza cutter. You can cut 2-3 at a time pretty easily. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Place strips into hot oil and fry until they become crispy. When nice and crispy, remove from oil and place on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt after each batch.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mexican Carnitas

This Mexican Carnitas recipe is the best recipe I have found for authentic Carnitas tacos. You can put them in a salad or you can wrap them up in a burrito or even a chimichanga. This pork Carnitas recipe is fantastic!  I'll first explain how to make them without a pressure cooker.

3 1/2 to 4 pounds of pork Boston Butt roast cut into 2 inch cubes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 bay leaves
1 lime, zested and juiced with spent rind added to mixture
1 whole onion cut in half
1 orange, zest, juice, remove the seeds and add the spent orange and juice
1 Cup of water

Put all ingredients in an oven-safe pot that has a good-fitting lid.  Start on the top of the stove.
Bring all ingredients to a boil on the stove and put into in a 300° oven, covered, for two hours. Remove to see if it's fork tender after two hours. Remove the meat from the pot and turn up the heat on the stove. Remove the onions, and orange & lime rinds and boil the sauce to reduce to a glaze about 10 to 15 min. While the glaze is reducing shred the pork and then pour the glazed over the meat.  Remove the bay leaves.

To make this recipe faster, place all ingredients in a pressure cooker and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Remove meat to shred in a bowl.  Remove onions, and orange & lime rinds and boil sauce to reduce to a glaze, about 10 to 15 min. Continue as above.

You can also put all the ingredients into a crock pot and cook all day on low.

Tacos are great in toasted or fried corn tortillas with some lime juice, cilantro, cheese, salsa, sour cream and/or guacamole.  What ever you like on a taco.  This meat is terrific in a salad too.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Easy Baked Manicotti

The trick to making easy, cheesy manicotti is to get the no-boil lasagne noodles.

1 lb browned ground beef, drained
3 cups Ricotta cheese
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded provolone cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
16 no-boil lasagne noodles (Barilla brand has 16 in the box)
1 Jar of favorite spaghetti sauce (about 28 oz.)

Combine ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella, 1 cup provolone, egg, salt, pepper, basil, and half of the browned ground beef in a large bowl.  Pour 2 quarts boiling water into a 13 X 9-inch baking dish.  Soak noodles until pliable, about 5 minutes.  Drain noodles on kitchen towel.  Pour off water and dry baking dish.

Mix the remaining browned ground beef in the spaghetti sauce.  Spread half of the spaghetti meat sauce over the bottom of the baking dish.

Top each soaked noodle with 1/4 cup cheese filling, roll into a cheese-filled tube and arrange, seam-side down, over sauce in baking dish.  They will all be very close together.  Spread remaining sauce over manicotti.  Cover with foil and bake until bubbling around edges, about 40 minutes.  Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and provolone.  Continue baking until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.  Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

This is so much easier than trying to fill manicotti noodles with a spoon or a pastry bag.  Add a green salad and garlic bread for a delicious Italian meal.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Secretly Sweet BBQ Pork Chops

This recipe is from one of my favorite Food Network chefs, Cat Cora.  I love to watch her on the Iron Chef.  This marinade for pork chops is delicious and helps keep the chops moist and tender.

1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dry mustard
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp fresh thyme, rough chopped (of 1/2 tsp dry thyme)
1/2 cup cherry cola (Secret ingredient)
4 pork chops

In a bowl, combine all ingredients except the meat.  Place the chops in a large zip lock bag and pour the marinade over them.  Seal and let rest for 2 to 3 hours, or overnight if desired. You will want to flip the bag over from time to time to evenly distribute the marinade.  You may need to let some air out of the bag due to the carbonation of the cola.

When ready to cook, remove the chops from the bag and grill until temperature reaches 175 degrees.  You can baste them with marinade while cooking.  If it's not grilling season, remember that your broiler is just an upside-down grill.  Don't over-cook them. After you take them off the heat and let them rest, the temperature will increase by about 5 degrees more.  You'll love them!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Best Pizza Crust

You can make this pizza dough in a stand mixer, like a Kitchen Aid, but if you have a food processor, it's so much easier.  Just to let you know right up front, this pizza dough tastes best if you make it at least a day in advance, but I've had very good results making it as little as 5 hours in advance.

3 cups bread flour
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/3 cups ice water (the dough can get overheated in a food processor, so use really cold water)
1 Tbsp oil
1 1/2 tsp table salt
parchment paper

Sift flour and sugar together into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Add yeast and pulse about 4 times to mix everything together.  With the machine running, slowly add water through feed tube.  Let the machine run until the dough is just combined and no dry flour remains.  This should take about 10 to 20 seconds.  Let the dough stand 10 minutes.

Turn the machine on again after the 10 minutes rest and add the oil and salt.  Let the machine run until the dough forms a satiny, sticky ball that clears the sides of the work bowl.  This should take about a minute.  Lightly oil your countertop and remove the dough ball from the bowl and knead briefly, about 1 minute.  Shape the dough into a tight ball and place in a large, lightly oiled bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.

One hour before baking the pizza,  remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide into 4 equal balls.  Place them on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap to let them come up to room temperature.

At this point, you can assemble all your favorite pizza ingredients.  You can make your own pizza sauce (I'll give you a pretty good recipe below) or just use a pizza sauce from the store.  It's really fun to invite friends over and have a "Make your own Pizza" party.  You could ask each friend to bring their favorite topping, or just provide an abundant selection of pepperoni, sausage, black olives, mushrooms, onions, peppers, mozzarella cheese, pineapple, ham, etc.

After your pizza dough has rested at room temperature for about 30 minutes, adjust the oven rack to the second highest position and place a pizza stone on the rack.  Heat the oven to 500 degrees or hotter if possible. (Brick pizza oven restaurants bake their pizzas at the optimal temperature of 712 degrees).  Lightly flour each dough ball and flatten to desired size on a piece of parchment.  (It doesn't matter how much flour you use, the dough will be sticky and it will be hard to transfer the prepared pizza to the pizza stone).  Top your pizza as desired and using a pizza peel, transfer to the heated pizza stone.  After about 1 minute, you will be able to place your pizza peel under the pizza and gently pull the parchment out without disturbing the toppings.  Bake pizza until done and the cheese bubbles.  Check the bottom of the pizza crust to make sure it's browned before taking the pizza out.  Cut and serve.

Homemade pizza sauce

1 (28-oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and liquid discarded
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
2 med garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 tsp)
1 tsp table salt
1 tsp dired oregano
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Process all ingredients in food processor with the metal blade until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  This sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, or for up to a month, frozen.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Slow cook mozzarella chicken

This recipe is for those days when you have a million things to do and want a delicious dinner in a couple of hours with minimal work.  You can make this with chicken or pork chops, and it's equally yummy.  I'll tell you the slight difference in instructions at the end.  The recipe calls for 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but I love leftovers, so I get a 13X9 glass baking dish and fill it up.  It's great to serve 6 or 8 people this way.  First I'll tell you the recipe and then we'll tweak it to make it work in the real world.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 pound mozzarella cheese
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 16 oz tub Sour Cream
1 Tbsp dried onion
1/2 soup can Milk
1 Cup Ritz or saltine crackers
1/2 stick butter, melted

Okay, since we're making enough for a larger group or for left overs, place the chicken in the bottom of a 13X9 glass baking dish side by side.  The chicken can be frozen or thawed, it doesn't matter.  The chicken can be touching each other.  Since there's more than 4 chicken breasts, we need more cheese, about 1 lb.  I cut pretty thick slices of cheese, about 1/4 inch thick, and place a slice of cheese on top of each chicken breast.

In a separate bowl, mix cream of chicken soup, sour cream, dried onion, and the milk.  Pour sauce over the chicken and cheese and spread out to cover.  In a small bowl, crush the crackers and combine with the melted butter.  Sprinkle this mixture over the chicken, cheese & soup mixture.

Do not cover.  Bake 275 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.  You can serve with rice or noodles.

If you would rather make this with pork chops, trim fat before placing them in the dish.  Pork cooks faster, so check it at 2 hours.  If you are watching carbs, you can delete the cracker/butter topping.  It's still very good without it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Peppercorn Chicken

This is a quick, easy chicken entree.  I'll start with the recipe and let you know how I have changed it in a pinch and still rescued dinner.

4 large chicken breast halves, skinned and boned
1 Tbsp crushed whole peppercorns
2 tsp butter
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp dried tarragon leaves

Place chicken in a zip-lock bag and pound with flat edge of mallet to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Remove from bag and sprinkle with peppercorns.

Heat heavy non-stick skillet.  Add butter and chicken.  Cook, turning once, until chicken is done, about 5 minutes.  Remove chicken to a plate and keep warm under foil.

Increase heat and add orange juice to pan and whisk in the cream and tarragon.  Boil, stirring, until sauce is glossy, thickened and reduced to about half the original volume.

Spoon sauce over chicken and serve.

Okay, this is really a good recipe.  I've done a couple of things with the orange juice, because I don't often have orange juice in the fridge in the evening.  You can spoon a Tablespoon of frozen OJ into the pan and add water to bring it up to the half cup, but if you don't add the full amount of water, you've just reduced the time to boil and reduce the sauce.  A time savings.  There have even been times when I haven't had a can of frozen OJ.  Don't laugh, but Tang works just as well.  Sprinkle about a Tablespoon of Tang in the pan and add a little water.  Again, don't put in the full 1/2 cup of water and you've just saved some time.  If you are cooking for more than 4 people, you can increase all the sauce ingredients to make more.

Before you start this dish, start some rice cooking to serve with this dish.  I like to spread the rice on a nice platter and then place the chicken breasts on the rice.  Then pour the sauce over the chicken and rice.  Now you have a really tasty side dish of Orange/cream rice instead of just plain rice.  A real crowd pleaser, and if the sauce isn't too thick, it soaks into the rice and tastes terrific.  Enjoy!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Enjoy these recipies

A few days ago, a dear niece asked me if I would teach her how to cook and how to put Dinner together.  I was really surprised to hear this because her mom is a great cook.  She told me that even though she has always helped in the Kitchen, she has always been the prep chef and has never learned how to put the whole meal together.  She is far from home now at college and realizes that learning this skill is important to her future family. 

I do not consider myself a great cook.  I've had some successes and some failures too, but over the years, I have accumulated some recipies that are truly great.  I'll let you know what I've done to make the recipies better and what I've done to solve problems that contribute to failures.  In this way, I hope to share little lessons I've learned to help anyone be a better cook and not just someone following a chemistry project.

No Fail Pie Crust. . . FAIL

Okay, this really is a very tasty pie crust, the directions were just wrong.  Let's start with the recipie and then I'll tell you where it failed and how to fix it.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened but still cool
2 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool

Lightly coat 9-inch Pyrex (glass) pie plate with cooking spray. Sift flour, sugar, and salt together in a bowl.

With electric mixer at medium speed, cream butter and cream cheese together in large bowl. Scrape down sides of bowl occasionally.  This should take about 2 minutes.  Add flour mixture and combine on medium-low until well incorporated.  Scrape down sides of bowl and mix again at a faster speed until dough begins to form large clumps.  Reserve 3 tablespoons of dough.  Turn remaining dough onto lightly-floured surface and roll out to fit the pie place.  Gently press the dough into the plate.  With reserved dough, roll into a 12-inch rope.  Divide into three pieces, roll each piece into 8-inch rope, and form fluted edge around the edge of the pie plate.

Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes at 325 degrees.  If large bubbles form, wait until crust is fully baked, then gently press on bubbles with kitchen towel.  Bubbles will settle as crust cools.

Okay, I love the taste of this crust.  The cream cheese makes it very good, and anything with this much butter is bound to be good no matter what.  But with a whole stick of butter in the recipe, you don't need to spray the pie plate.  When I made this recipe, it fell in on itself while baking, which made for a delicious mess.

So don't spray the plate.  The next problem is the reserved dough to make a decorative fluting around the edges.  It really gives too much weight, and again the crust fell in on itself.  My second pie crust failure for the day.  Even though this recipe only makes 1 crust, theres plenty to make decorations and bake them with the crust on a separate cookie sheet to decorate with later. 

Well, the 3rd time's the charm.  So, don't spray the plate and don't make a rope to decorate the edges with.  It makes it too top heavy and it will fall in on itself.  Delicious taste and now great results.  Try this crust for all your fruit and cream pies.