Friday, January 20, 2017

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken

Here is a wonderful, easy dinner! This chicken turns out juicy and full of flavor, definitely a favorite in our home! You can eat this chicken all by itself, on a salad, in a wrap or burrito, quesadilla, or on a toasted bun (my fav!). Hope you enjoy!

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1-2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Chili powder
Onion powder
Brown sugar
1 C. BBQ sauce

1. First, spray your crockpot with nonstick spray and place your chicken breasts in the pot. Next, drizzle with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and Worcestershire. 
2. Season liberally with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with chili powder and onion powder. Finally, cover chicken with brown sugar and pour the BBQ sauce on top. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.
3. Shred with a fork - you can do this in the pot or remove the chicken breasts and shred it on a separate plate. Toss the chicken to thoroughly cover with remaining sauce in the crockpot. Serve!

*Serves 6-8*

p.s. Adding the chili powder brings a subtle heat to the meat, it's not overbearing but feel free to leave it out.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What I Learned As A Gospel Doctrine Teacher

I recently finished serving as a Gospel Doctrine teacher in our church (we're LDS), and let me tell you, it ended up being a great experience! I was incredibly intimidated to teach the gospel and scriptures to a group of adults, especially being so young and perhaps not quite as knowledgeable as most of those who would be attending my class. I spent about a year and a half teaching this class and I learned so much and really wanted to share what I learned with others! So, here's some of what I learned, in no particular order:

Pray! Pray before you prepare your lesson, pray after you prepare, pray before and after you review, and definitely say a prayer before you present your lesson. You will be amazed at how much comfortable you become as you include prayer in your lesson preparation and presentation.

Prepare! Alright, I know life is crazy, everyone is busy, and it seems to be so very hard to get things done sometimes, BUT, preparation makes a huge difference! I would typically prepare my lesson on Monday and put together a PowerPoint presentation on Tuesday. There were a few weeks that I waited to prepare until Friday or Saturday and I could tell the difference, I was more nervous, less organized, and just less comfortable. Please, please, always prepare your lesson ahead of time, I promise you won't regret it in the least bit!

Know your class! Get to know everyone's names, get to know who they are as individuals, their strengths and weaknesses, and carefully observe who is okay with being called on to read or say prayers - many people struggle with reading aloud and even with praying in public (I used to be one of those people!). Occasionally I would write out the scripture verses and/or quotes we would be covering on slips of paper and would ask who would be willing to read during the lesson, that seemed to be a great way to get folks to participate.

Use doctrine! This one is huge! The teacher's lesson manuals are fantastic and are full of great resources but every now and then you may want to bring in a video clip, or a hymn, or a quote, or even other related scriptures and that's great! Just be sure to stick to doctrine, has great media resources, always check that quotes you use are actual, credible quotes from church leaders. You CANNOT go wrong if you stick to doctrine! And do your best to keep class discussion on topic and centered on doctrine; you are the teacher, you ultimately have control over class discussion.

Visuals! I am a big fan of visuals! It doesn't have to be anything elaborate, you can easily get a picture or two to display from your ward library, or write out some quotes or scripture verses on your chalkboard. My favorite way to display pictures and information was to put together a PowerPoint presentation then connect a HDMI cable to a TV, it was a great way to help everyone know where we were in the lesson and who doesn't love looking at a lovely gospel art picture? It really helps most people to be more engaged in the lesson if they have a way to follow along and visualize what is being taught.

Testimony. Always bear testimony of the gospel truths you cover in each lesson. It really solidifies what has been taught and allows the Spirit to bear witness to the individual class members. Ending each class with your testimony is powerful and you definitely shouldn't skip it.

Teaching in the Savior's Way. Your ward should be regularly holding special classes for teachers to go over what is taught in this book and you should really make every effort to attend these classes. I would also strongly suggest that you read and this study this book on your own. Remember, you have been called to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and this resource will teach you how to do that. You will learn how to teach as our Savior taught, and as He wants us to teach others His gospel.

Invite the Spirit. Always begin and end each class with prayer, never underestimate the power of prayer! Be organized and prepared - being organized and prepared really allows the Spirit to be present and to be felt by all those in the class. If possible, play some prelude music, I have the LDS Music app on my phone and put together a play list of some of my favorite hymns and would play them while everyone filtered into the room, it was a wonderful calming source for me but I also firmly believe that music is a great way to invite the Spirit to any meeting. Also, be okay with silence! This one is a biggie! When you're teaching and you ask a question 5 seconds of silence can feel like 2 minutes! Learn to be okay with silence! You never know how the Spirit is working on your class as you allow them to sit and think about the question you've asked. Please, be okay with silence.

Hope and Joy! Some lessons are going to be a struggle to teach, some chapters of scripture can be rather dark, dreary, and just plain heartbreaking. BUT, I can guarantee you that you can find a way back to hope and joy in EVERY lesson. I remember sobbing when I had to prepare a certain lesson, it was a topic that brought up a lot of painful memories and I dreading teaching that lesson, I prayed constantly that week for help teaching and as I reviewed the lesson I suddenly noticed the bits of hope and joy that were in it and I focused on that...I cannot fully express to you how grateful I was to realize that you can always find hope and joy when teaching and studying the gospel! The whole gospel of Jesus Christ is centered on hope and joy, so always come back to that, always end with that! This world needs more hope and joy, and I'm sure each of us could use a bit more of both in our day-to-day lives.

Be personal! Don't be afraid to share personal experiences! You can bring a power Spirit of truth to your class as you share personal witness of a gospel truth or principle. It also helps class members better identify with the lesson material when you, the teacher, are able to make it personal.

I hope this has been a helpful list! I really was terrified of this calling but as time went by I found myself learning and growing so much and I really ended up loving the calling. I actually cried when I was released. It was a wonderful experience and I'm actually finding myself hoping that it is my calling again some day. If you have any other tips or ideas feel free to share them!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Wonderfully Easy and Soft Play Dough

I am so excited to share my favorite play dough recipe with you today!  This is incredibly fast and easy to make, seriously, 1 batch can be made in under 10 minutes! I also love how soft this dough is, and it doesn't have too much salt, dough with too much salt always makes the skin on my hands hurt and no one wants that when they just want to play and have fun! (see pictures below for a more detailed look at the play dough making process)

Here's what you'll need:
1 C. flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/3 C. salt
1 C. water
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Food coloring

1. Add flour, cream of tartar, and salt to a medium sauce pan and stir to combine. Add water and oil, turn heat on to medium and stir until mixture begins to harden. Add your food coloring (8-10 drops) and quickly stir in.
2. Keep stirring until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove and let cool on wax paper. Once it's cool enough to handle knead for an additional 2-3 minutes to remove any lumps.
*Store in an airtight container or bag, can last for a few months.*

Note: I recommend buying the cream of tartar in bulk, it will definitely be cheaper in the long run.  Also, I have found that you really get the best results when using this ingredient.  After doing some research I discovered that cream of tartar affects the elasticity and texture of the dough, leaving it out will typically result in dry and crumbly play dough.

Here's what the beginning of your play dough will look like, notice the lumps? Lumps are perfectly fine at this point!

Add your food coloring...

There's your color! Keep stirring!

See how it's pulling away from the sides and gathering around the spoon? Time to remove it and let it cool!

Let it cool for a few minutes.

Knead it for 2-3 minutes and you're ready to go!  I love this camo/"Ninja Turtle" color we ended up with in this batch, it was a total accident but the boys loved it!

Now enjoy play time!  Be sure to store your play dough in an airtight container or bag when not in use.  If your dough does start to get a little dry you can knead in just a tiny bit of water.  Enjoy!

p.s. You can also create your own "calming play dough" by adding 4-8 drops of your favorite essential oil when kneading your cooled dough.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Hawaiian Haystacks From Scratch (Crock Pot)

Alright you guys, I had never ever heard of Hawaiian Haystacks until I lived in Utah and I'm really not sure why they are called Hawaiian Haystacks...probably because of the pineapple.  I've tried a few different recipes for this dish but I really hate using cream of whatever soups and/or evaporated milk in my recipes (how most folks typically make this)!  So I've come up with a way to make the chicken for this dish without using any of that stuff and we all really love it so I decided to share! 

Hawaiian Haystacks:
2 large chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp dried parsley
2 C chicken broth + 1/3 C flour
1 C plain Greek yogurt
(see toppings list below)

1. Spray your crock pot with non-stick spray, lay chicken breasts inside and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and parsley.  In a separate bowl whisk together the broth, flour, and yogurt then pour over chicken.  Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours, shred your chicken with a fork just before serving.
2. Layer your haystacks with whatever you'd like!  We typically use my non-sticky garlic rice as a base but you could easily make that healthier by using brown rice, wild rice, or quinoa. 

-Serves 4-6

Suggested Toppings:
Shredded Cheddar
Diced green onions (or regular onions)
Diced tomatoes
Sliced olives
Crushed pineapple
Crispy Chow Mein noodles (healthier options include nuts or sunflower seeds)
Mandarin oranges

Leftover Ham, Potato, and Cheese Soup

Here is a great way to use up some of that leftover Christmas ham you may have lurking around - I know I'm posting this a little late but everyone has been taking turns getting sick for the last month or two so I'm running behind on just about everything.  This is incredibly easy and quick to put together and tastes phenomenal, my hubs said this should definitely be a post-Christmas tradition and even the kiddos loved it!

And, please don't judge my chopping skills too harshly, I had my cooking buddy strapped to my front and it turns out that operating a sharp blade is quite tricky when you're wearing a baby! Can you tell he knows I'm a sucker for him?

Leftover Ham, Potato, and Cheese Soup:
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
3 medium-large potatoes, peeled & diced
2 C cooked ham, chopped
4 C chicken broth
1 C milk + 1/3 C flour
1/2-1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp pepper
1/2-1 tsp garlic powder (or 2 cloves garlic finely minced)
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 C sour cream
2 C shredded cheddar

1. Melt your butter in a large pot over medium heat, add the onion and saute until tender and translucent. Add potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and continue to saute until potatoes are beginning to brown/crisp around the edges.
2. Whisk together the milk and flour in a separate small bowl, add to pot along with the broth.  Add the salt, pepper, garlic, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, stirring often, then reduce to a simmer and let simmer 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender (stir often).
3. Remove bay leaves, turn off heat, then stir in the sour cream and shredded cheddar.  Serve!
-Serves 6