Sunday, July 12, 2015


Last week, Meghan and I alternated whose turn it was to cook dinner each night, and the result was that we both ate really well for several days in a row. Or, as my dad would say, we were eating like kings!

It was such a delightful experience. I don't cook. At least, not often. I don't really enjoy it. Except, when you're cooking for someone that is as willing to try anything as you are, doesn't complain about the ingredients that you are using, or the time it is taking to make it; when you're cooking for someone who also helps clean up. . . well, I guess it isn't so bad. It was a fun reminder that even though I don't necessarily enjoy cooking, I actually can do it.

The recipes we used are definite keepers, so here they are: 

Crispy Black Bean Quinoa Burritos

Yield: 10 burritos
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1 (15 oz) can Libby's Organic Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup Libby's Organic Sweet Corn, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Cilantro Lime Quinoa
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
10 burrito-sized flour tortillas
Creamy Avocado Yogurt Dip, for serving (THIS IS A MUST--it was soooo good!)


1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the peppers, black beans, corn, chili powder, cumin, and cilantro. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the fresh lime juice and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
2. Place a few spoonfuls of cilantro lime quinoa in the center of a tortilla, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edges, then add the shredded cheese, and bean/corn mixture down the center of the quinoa. Roll burritos, by folding over the ends and rolling up. Continue making the rest of the burritos.
3. Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle pan over medium heat. Arrange burritos, seam-side down, in pan or griddle and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Serve warm with Creamy Avocado Yogurt Dip.
Note: You don't want to fill the burritos too full or they will be hard to roll up. You can also use Cilantro Lime Rice, instead of the quinoa.

Kung Pao Chicken Zoodles For Two

Servings: 2 • Size: scant 2 cups • Old Points: 6 pts • Points+: 7 pts
Calories: 277 • Fat: 12 g • Protein: 24 g • Carb: 21 g • Fiber: 4 g • Sugar: 9 g
Sodium: 725 mg (without salt) • Cholesterol: 62 mg


  • 2 medium zucchini, about 8 oz each, ends trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed or canola oil
  • 6 oz skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp crushed dry roasted peanuts
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced scallions along diagonal
For the sauce:
  • 1 1/2 tbsp reduced soy sauce (tamari for gluten free)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tbsp Sambal Oelek Red Chili Paste (or more to taste)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
Using a spiralizer fitted with a shredder blade (this makes a thicker noodle), or a mandolin fitted with a julienne blade, cut the zucchini into long spaghetti-like strips. If using a spiralizer, use kitchen scissors to cut the strands into pieces that are about 8 inches long so they’re easier to eat.

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, balsamic, hoisin, water, red chili paste, sugar and cornstarch; set aside.

Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat oil in a large, deep nonstick pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
Reduce heat to medium, add sesame oil, garlic and ginger to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about  30 seconds. Add the bell pepper, stir in soy sauce mixture and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until thickened and bubbling, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in zucchini noodles and cook, mixing for about two minutes until just tender and mixed with the sauce. If it seems dry, don't worry the zucchini will release moisture which helps create a sauce. Once cooked, mix in chicken and divide between 2 bowls (about 2 cups each) and top with peanuts and scallions.

Panko Crusted Chicken Piccatta


Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves,
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons capers
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice + A few slices of lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

  • Instructions
  1. Place the flour, eggs, and panko in three separate shallow bowls.
  2. Butterfly the chicken so each piece is half as thick as it was to begin with. Lay the chicken out on a cutting board, cover with wax paper, then use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound it to a ¼ inch thick. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat half of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Dredge the chicken breasts in flour, shake off the excess, then dip in the eggs, and coat with breadcrumbs. Add half the dredged chicken breasts to the skillet and fry for 3-5 minutes or a side or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove to a plate.
  4. Add the other half of the oil to the skillet and repeat with remaining chicken breast.
  5. When the chicken has been removed, add the butter to the skillet and use a spatula to scrape up any brown bits (that's where the flavor is!). Let the butter cook until sizzling and just starting to brown. Stir in the capers, lemon juice, and lemon slices.
  6. To serve, plate the chicken then spoon the lemon butter sauce over top. Top with lemon slices and fresh parsley.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Strawberry Festival Pie

Yes. I made this.

This weekend Troy will celebrate the Strawberry Festival.

Celebrating the Strawberry Festival as a kid was the official way to usher in the summer holiday. For a few years, our ward had a float (that was back then, when they actually did floats) in the parade and I remember stuffing tissue paper into chicken wire to get our floats to match whatever berry silly theme had been chosen for the year. We rode on a few of those floats and even won prizes.

The Boy Scouts in our ward at some point started doing a fundraiser at the Friday night festivities in the downtown square. Friday night was reserved for a children's parade and bed races. There were all sorts of vendors and booths, and the Boy Scouts sold pies. Delicious strawberry pies.

I believe the original recipe came from an older lady in our ward, and throughout the years, my mom and Aunt Elouise in particular, along with the help of women in the relief society, developed the recipe into something that not only tasted better, but was more attractive, and more efficient to make.

The first several years went something like this:

The Boy Scouts would go to Fulton Farms and pick the berries.

The Relief Society would divvy out the jobs from making pie crust shells to glaze and then drop these off Friday morning at our house. (Our house is only three blocks from The Square, and easily accessible through the alleys to the booth set up there.)

Volunteers, be it Boy Scouts, Young Women (mostly Amy and me), and other Relief Society members would meet at our house and top and wash the berries. Then we would pour on the glaze and set up the pies on long tables, which they would set up until they were loaded in the back of a van and driven to Square.

The Boy Scouts would then top them with whip cream, and serve the pies.

Throughout the years, they started doing pre-orders and sold whole pies instead of by the piece. The prices rose. My aunt started working in the school cafeterias and we gained access to nacho cheese and chili meat to put on hot dogs. The enterprise expanded to the point where the health department said that they couldn't be made in our house anymore.

By that point, they were selling a hundred pies at least, with my aunt always pushing to make more. Which could be done as the process streamlined.

Saturday, Amy and I would wake up to the sound of people finding their seats in front of our house, as we were the last street on the parade's route. We would have to move the cars we parked on the street for the day. Members of our ward, school friends, and people we knew would come and find a place on our porch and we would watch and yell at the participants to give us one last performance. (Because we were the tail end of the route, the performers would be tired and ready to be done, and often, we didn't get to hear the bands or watch the dancers.) As a kid, I always loved to see the different pageant queens and courts. Several of my friends competed and won a spot on the Strawberry Queen Court float.

Following the parade, we could go to the levy and walk through the booths. Mostly artisan booths, crafts, and food. There was a duck race at some point, where they would send hundreds of yellow ducks down one side of the river to the other.

Sunday, our regular route to church was diverted because of a 5 or 10k race.

I have good memories of the Strawberry Festival. And it is sad that the last time I was home, the parade had gotten SO lame. It now mostly consists of people driving in cars with a magnet advertising their business. Other changes over the past couple of years also sound sad. No more bed races. A change of venue from the levy. And because of that, a change of procedure for the strawberry pies.

Luckily, not only is the pie famous enough to have the recipe passed down, it's also famously easy to make. I always try to make at least one around this time for a little reminiscing.

I may never be as good as my mom. But I can certainly hold my own. And you can try, too, because here is the recipe:

Strawberry Festival Pie

Pie Crust:
  • 1½ C. Flour
  • ½ tsp. Sugar
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ½ C. Oil
  • 2 T. Milk


  • 1½ C. Sugar
  • ¼ C. Cornstarch
  • 1½ C. Water
  • 1 box of Strawberry Jell-O (3 oz.)
  • Fresh Strawberries


  • Real Whipping Cream
  • Vanilla and Sugar to taste

Crust: Blend and press into pie shell. Create an edge at the top to hold the pie filling. Bake at 400° for 10-12 minutes or until light brown. Cool.
Filling: Mix sugar and cornstarch, add water and boil until transparent (~2 minutes), stirring constantly. Add Jell-O and return to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. It should be cooled quite a bit before you use it. The filling will do one deep pie, and you'll probably have leftover glaze. Just double the recipe for two pies.
Put berries into cooled glaze and stir, coating evening. Pour into cooled pie shell. Refrigerate to set completely. 
Topping: Serve with Whipped Cream.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


There's a difference between knowing something and KNOWING something.

I knew that I was going to have to go through chemo, but it wasn't until I did it that I really understood what that meant. I know that if I eat the pound of mashed potatoes or 9,000 cookies that I'm never going to lose the weight I put on while going through treatments (and seriously--who puts on weight?) but somehow I can't reconcile it in my mind as actual truth. I know that I'm out of shape, but until I go and try and climb a mountain, I don't actually realize how out of shape I am.

It's the same mentality that people go through when they think, "It'll never happen to me." Whether the it is related to crashing your car while texting, getting STIs, cancer, etc. We know the consequences of a thing, but we never actually believe it will happen to us.

You can know that your friend is in pain or feeling one or more of the above, and have no idea what to do and say because you don't really KNOW what the heck is going on with them. Which is too bad, because sometimes your friends know that they aren't alone but still feel that way. They know that they are loved and have support and meaning, but still feel empty. They even know that there is a loving Father in Heaven that has a plan for them and still feel a completely adrift.

I'm always afraid to say out loud how utterly lost and alone I feel sometimes because I really do know all those things. I know that turning 30 is not the worst thing in the world. That especially after all I've been through in the past year, I should be grateful that I'm celebrating another year of life. I know that I'm not the first 30-year old single Mormon that feels lost. And I'm not the last. I know how cool people find my really awesome grayish buzz cut. I know a lot of things.

I know that I can live a totally fulfilling and happy life even as it stands now. I have good friends and a regular paycheck from a job that I--for the most part--enjoy. Indeed, I feel that all of my basic needs are being met. (At least as far as Maslow's pyramid goes.) But I still don't KNOW how to continue on as things stand and be content. Sometimes there is this overwhelming, pressing sadness that I can't seem to shake. Sometimes I hurt and yearn for things that I can't change that I feel backed up into a corner and too exhausted to try and fight my way out.

The future, as it stands, is largely lacking in the things that I have been raised, engrained, trained to want. I never thought for a second, until recently, that there was a possibility of not achieving my goals. And they are my goals. Regardless of my upbringing, whether it is just too late to change, or because my biological clock is ticking, or because I'm just me: I want these things. I wanted them 10 years ago. I wanted them five years ago. I wanted them yesterday. I just don't know how to go about getting them anymore. I feel as though I have tried everything, and thus far, nothing has worked.

I'm in the same position I was 10 years ago. I'm in the same position I was five years ago. And I'm in the same position I was in yesterday. Despite my efforts. Despite my prayers and pleas and wishful thinking. Despite my fantasies and daydreams.

So here I am, on the cusp of 30. And I know it will pass by like every other birthday I've dreaded. Perhaps there will be a few more panic attacks. And perhaps there will be a lot more tears. But I KNOW I'll deal with it like everything else life has thrown my way. And maybe I'll continue thinking that there's still a chance.

"It'll never happen to me."

I just know it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It's Not as Bad as You Think

We hear all the time that God doesn't give us trials we can't handle. But sometimes when you are anticipating or going through a particular trial, you're absolutely certain that it isn't true. Or maybe, you're prepared to handle it, but dang it, you're not going to do it cheerfully!

I was dreading losing my hair. Absolutely dreading it. I talked about it as though it didn't matter. But I cried about it, a lot while it was falling out. And then I shaved it off, and it was nothing. All that dread, all those tears, and all the anxiety over it, and it was nothing.

Sure, there are times when I miss my routine. I miss looking like a person, and not an alien. I miss ponytails and braids and getting my hair done. And I will never willingly sport a bald or buzzed cut ever again, once I have finally grown it out.

I dreaded the surgery. I dreaded the chemo. I was so nervous about feeling nauseated and sick. And yes, it was horrible and I hated it. But it was doable. So much more doable than I thought it would be. I had friends who would bring me soup or apples. My mom helped clean my house a couple of times. But, for the most part, I went to work and I was pretty self-sufficient. And not in terrible spirits. (When I felt crabby or unhappy, I mostly just slept it off, anyway.) I never got sick. I never had to change my routine in order to avoid germs--my immune system worked beautifully. I made it through.

And now the regrowth and repair stage.

Hardly any regrowth at 4 weeks after final chemo
People have said that for as many months as I was on treatments, that is how long I would need to recover. But, I've generally felt well enough. I stopped taking treatments, and nothing has really changed! It took me about 10 days to recover, and then I was back to normal and knowing that I would never have to do any of it again. (Here's hoping! That's what cured means afterall.)

I have been so revolted by the regrowth stages I knew I would have to go through, and dreading it MORE than I did actually losing my hair. And you know what? It's not that bad. I made it through the baby bird stage--the one where I was sporting little gray/blonde feathers that looked absolutely ridiculous. And I didn't really care.

6 weeks regrowth
The feelings of dread and loss and sadness aren't ones that can just be swept under the rug. If anyone else told me that it wasn't going to be as bad as I thought, it wouldn't matter. It wouldn't get rid of those feelings and, in fact, often just made me more irritated about the whole thing. However, I've been surprised at how often I've said those words to myself in complete epiphany during this whole process. It really wasn't as bad as I thought. Or it really was totally doable.

7 weeks regrowth

Pretty soon I'll be into the butchy buzzcut look (I'm halfway there with the regrowth of all the dark hairs). And while I'm not looking forward to it either, it is what it is. I'm just sick of wasting so much emotion on it. Because in six more weeks, I'll be in a totally different awkward regrowth stage. And maybe I'll even have eyebrows again!*

I'm pretty sure I can handle it.

*I have hair where my eyebrows should be, but it's super blonde and hardly counts for the bushy eyebrows I'm used to. I'm close to going and getting them threaded, anyway, though, just for shape!

Thursday, April 02, 2015


Remember that time I went to Japan??

It was an AWESOME trip. My cousin and his cute family have lived in Iwakuni for the past three years, and I had been promising to visit ever since. As a "Done with Chemo Celebration!" I decided I just had to get over there before Simon moved back to the States. I made it with only four days to spare.

Between the craziness of Simon and Daisy packing up, checking out, and trying to tie up loose ends, we were able to do and see and eat so many amazing things!

We spent the time visiting some of their favorite places. Our first stop was the Kintai Castle in Iwakuni. Inside there was a little museum filled with samurai swords, and the lookout at the top of the castle overlooked Iwakuni. My favorite part was that we were free to open the windows as we pleased. I couldn't help but think there was no way a museum in the US would offer such freedom.

We went and had ramen, and I have to say, it's better than any of the sodium-packed meals we have over here! So delightful. And then I toured the base, and Simon showed me that he basically doesn't work as he sits in the flight tower all day. We went to the radar room, where it was dark, and looked like radar screens that you see in the movies, and that was pretty neat. 

The next day, we did a little bit of trespassing when they had "closed" signs posted. Into a small grove of bamboo they had gated off, and then again at the Three Falls hike. Three Falls was gorgeous!

And just enough dangerous for me--I was in heeled boots, and they had taken out all the guardrails. (Yes, yes I am an adrenalin junkie. . . Nope.) Apparently the Marines go and jump from some of the rocks into the pools. I doubt you'd ever catch me doing that, but I could see how it would be appealing to others.

It was really pretty, and a good reminder that I've been mostly bedridden since I started chemo. I am more out of shape than ever! It was an easy hike, but the stairs about did me in.

Another favorite restaurant was the Chicken Shack. It was just what we're taught as little kids equates to Japanese dining. There were small pads on the floor, and we had to take our shoes off. We ate skewered chickens that were roasted to perfection and rice. And it was seriously delicious. The atmosphere was really fun too, with the fish kites and decorations. We had ice cream for dessert, provided by one of the many, amazing vending machines that can be found all over.

First, I have to give credit to Simon, who navigated all over the place without the use of a working phone (and GPS). Japan charges to use the highway, so in order to avoid the tolls, we took a lot of back roads through the mountains. I don't have to tell you that if it were me, I would have been utterly lost. And probably have ended up in Okinawa without even trying. Even when he thought for a second that we were lost, we actually weren't. And he got us to exactly where we needed to be. 

Which was, the first of the onsens. At a resort in the mountains. Everyone, if I haven't told you yet, I will tell you now: I have found my ultimate happy place.

We spent the a lot of time in the area that reminded me of a hotel pool, but was tiled and divided into different sections which provided different types of jets. There was the private bath area, the ones that targeted your back, helped tone, the too narrow areas that hit your legs. There was a steaming hot pool and a more tepid one. There was a kid area. And then outside, there were two giant--GIANT--tree trunks, hollowed out and turned into little hot tubs. (Consequently, where Charley jumped onto Parker and tried to drown him a few times.) 

But none of that was my favorite part.

My favorite part was when I walked into the other area of the bathhouse and sat outside all by my lonesome in a pool of hot water, surrounded by rocks and trees and the open sky. And oh, right, naked. We went at the perfect time, as the resort wasn't very busy and by the time Daisy had gone in and out and I went in, I was all by myself. I could have stayed there forever.

I was nervous, of course, and a little self-conscious. But it didn't take me long to shed my pious American modesty and enjoy a little freedom! Really, it was the most peaceful, content, luxurious, and pleasurable experience. After soaking for as long as I thought Simon and Daisy would want to wait for me, I got out and there were showers outside. How do you make one thing a million times better? Add a shower outside. 

On the way back, we stopped and ate at a Japanese truck stop. Which was pretty neat. You ordered and paid for your food at a machine, not unlike a lottery ticket machine, and then the order comes up and the poor employees have to try and catch your attention because you have no idea what you've ordered or what they are shouting from the counter. 

We spent the next day at a touristy island called Miyajima. We arrived by ferry. Known for its pesky deer, and the cool overlook that takes two verticle rides up in a gondola, it was really pretty. We found some souvenirs and enjoyed some steamed buns. 

We spent the next two days shopping at thrift stores around the area, packing and cleaning the apartment for a move into temporary housing, and seeing what there was to see in town. The most hilarious thing was the types of clothing sold to Japanese children with English words printed on them, that make absolutely no sense.

Simon certainly has the infamous Hatton blood running through his veins. He is a wheeler and dealer just like the lot of them and would absolutely make my grandmother proud. We went into one thrift store that was packed full like a hoarder's storage unit, and somehow walked out with a carload of treasures for just a couple hundred bucks. We walked in and spent a couple of hours just putting things we wanted into a pile (yes, I participated!) and then at the end, Simon made an offer for the lot of it. It was fun to watch Simon as he tried to talk the guy down in price and was pretty successful. 

My mom will be ashamed, but I couldn't pass these babies up as souvenirs for the FTC!

Good eye?! I sure think so.

We had Japanese Indian food at Ganesh. And let me tell you, I have never had better or more interesting naan. So creamy and smooth, and topped with some sort of sauce the likes of which I have never tasted. I don't know how I'm going to satisfy my craving for it now that I'm back in the States. The samosas were different and the curry slightly different too. And the way they served things. I thought it was so interesting how two different cultures can influence another one and what they offer at their restaurant. It also makes me realize that the only way I'm going to have authentic Indian food is to actually go to India.

But we really haven't even gotten to the best part of the culinary adventures. One night we went to Janjaka, a Korean barbeque, that was to die for good. 

Seriously. I've got to figure out a way to get this here. There's a Korean BBQ in Salt Lake City that just does not measure up. And the waitress came and cooked everything for us in a very awkward way. In Japan, they let you take care of it all yourself.

I went bowling with Charley. She nearly beat me. And kept getting bored in the middle of the game. But then I'd make her finish, and she would want to start another one. Silly, girl.

We did a trip to a sushi restaurant, where all the plates were something akin to $1 a plate, and they came to us on conveyor belts. We went to another restaurant called Shabu Shabu, and it was similar to the barbeque, and just as delicious. But one of the weird delights (except to Daisy) was discovering that there is a Japanese curry that is spicy and cheesy and wonderful. It comes out looking a little like baby poop, but holy goodness, it's fantastic. 

The dollar store in Japan was pretty amazing. And there are some really cool Japanese candies, that I can totally get on board with. Namely the chocolate filled marshmallows. 

Simon and I went to another onsen the night before I left. We got little 30-min massages which was just the thing before a long flight home. It was busier, and I found that I did not care at all. But I did spend most my time outside, in a pool alone. I was surprised how little the Japanese women cared about me. They didn't look my way at all. Simon made some friends, which was funny, and I walked out with him surrounded by a bunch of college-aged kids that eagerly waited to hear me respond to Simon's, "How was it?"

On my final day, Simon and I went to Hiroshima and went through the museum and walked around the Peace Park. It was blustery and cold, which matched the somber mood. There were a lot of things that I didn't know about the bomb being dropped in Hiroshima. Like the fact that we had POWs here, or that the city center was filled with young, middle school-aged children who were doing building demo labor and things.

I'm a million times indebted to Simon and Daisy for opening their home, especially during such a hectic time, and really making sure I had such a cool experience. I hadn't had an opportunity to spend much time with him since moving to Utah, and seeing the type of husband and father he is, was really cool. He and Daisy have two really cool kids, and it was fun to spend time with all of them. It was definitely a great way to celebrate the end of chemo, the beginning of my 30th year! 

I never thought I wanted to go to Japan, but I'm so glad I did. Everything feels so clean (seriously, you should have seen the public bathrooms--though, I did avoid any type of squatting ones) and safe. Everyone was super happy to help and try and understand and overall, it could not have been a better trip!

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