Monday, January 23, 2012

Funny Story and a Recipe

By the way, has anyone tried the recipes I've posted? I'd love to hear if you liked them!

So yesterday I got two e-mail from Costco. One was a "127 day reminder" and the other was a "321 day reminder." I had photos that I had ordered that many days ago and had never been reminded since but it seemed appropriate to send me a reminder on the 127th day and the 321st day. Of course this whole thing is my fault because I ordered pictures and then COMPLETELY forgot about them for a whole year but I had to chuckle when I read those e-mails.

When I picked up the pictures at Costco, I discovered that they were wedding pictures that I had the best intentions to frame and put in our new home (well it was new 321 days ago). One in particular is a shadow box I have that I have had this picture in for the last 3 1/2 years:
 This is from my Jr. year of college when we had a photo shoot so we could make our apartment more homey. I had this displayed on our big shelf in the living room with the thought in mind that I would replace the picture. Well here is has sat for the past year and every time I look at it, I think, I thought I gotten a picture to replace this but can't seem to remember where it is???
Well, amongst several other large prints was this perfectly sized photo that was clearly meant for this very shadow box. Thank goodness for Costco's 321 day reminder. Seriously. Now I can finally move on from my single life and fully embrace marriage through my shadow box display ;o).

Now for the recipe. This one comes from the most recent Real Simple magazine with a few tweaks. I wouldn't say it is necessarily a light recipe but I don't think its too bad for you either. I LOVE that this is a slow cooker recipe because my crockpot is one of my best friends.

Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken Pot Pie



  1. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, mix together the mushrooms, carrots, onion, flour, thyme, bay leaf, and ½ cup water. Place the chicken on top; season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  2. Cover and cook until the chicken and vegetables are tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).
  3. Thirty minutes before serving, heat oven to 425° F. Using a 4½-inch cutter or large glass, cut the pastry into 4 circles. Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Ten minutes before serving, add the peas, green beans, cream, and ½ teaspoon salt to the chicken mixture and stir to combine. Cover and cook on high or low until heated through, 5 to 10 minutes more. To serve, place the chicken mixture in bowls and top with the pastry rounds. 
I actually made biscuits instead of buying puff pastry. I kind of envisioned the Chicken and Biscuits from Cheesecake Factory so I made a special quick recipe from my great Grandma Lytle. Bisquick would work too, or even Grands. It was really good and actually quite rich. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Beautiful Birthday

Sadly, my birthday celebrating is almost over. But I had a wonderful day filled with many loved ones who made me feel special.

We were up at 5:15 am for a ballroom morningside and I got texts from my sister Katie, and SIL Shana by 6:30 am! Those women never forget a special day!

Having an iphone is great because it notified me throughout the day every time someone wished me a happy birthday on Facebook.

During my first class, Jer brought me a dozen fire and ice roses and a sweet card. I have such a loving and thoughtful husband, I'm so grateful for him.
Here are the beautiful roses and the birthday cards I received from family. I also got lots of birthday calls and a darling scarf from my little sis Anna that I wore yesterday and will wear shopping today. :o)

Around 10 am I started getting a whole bunch of text messages from numbers I didn't recognize, but they all seemed to know something about me! My brilliant husband guessed it was my sister's students and he was right! Here are a couple of the messages I received:

"Happy 24th Birth Day Tina Tu Tu!! :D. We sent you a birthday cake but the delivery guy ate it so I'm gonna send you this text instead."

"Christina! You 24 year old married to Jeremy for 1.5 years woman! Happy birthday! have a great day! The person who is sitting next to me that doesn't have a phone says happy birthday Tina Tutu! Go dancing and have fun!"

I had a long day of school and work that day and was wearing heels so I went home during a quick break before a meeting to change my shoes. When I walked in the door, who were standing in my kitchen but one of my besties Courtney and her baby Harper! She said, "I've been caught!" She was cleaning my house for my birthday as a surprise! I told her "I'm kind of embarrassed that you are cleaning my messy house, but not enough to tell you not to do it!!" She is seriously the sweetest friend.
Look at our impeccable room! She even did some organizing! Our next project will be to weed out my clothes. :o)

Several of my classes I teach sang to me and I got lots of Birthday wishes throughout the day. I felt very loved and it was a great day.

The NEXT day we were able to go out and celebrate, but FIRST! I got my birthday present-

One of my other best friends Chelsey's relative (I think uncle?) is the owner/big whig of Blendtec so with her help, we were able to get a great deal on the Blendtec with both jar sizes, the wild side and the original. I made a smoothie in it this morning and it was heaven. It came with a whole recipe book with soups, salsas, dips, smoothies, shakes, ice cream and even baby food recipes! This was my gift from my parents and Jer. :o) I'm thrilled!!!

 That evening we went to Teppanyaki, one of my favorites, to celebrate. It's pretty darn close to my all time favorite, Something's Fishy in Santa Barbara. From Left to right, Eric, Court, Harper, Jer, Me, Katie, JJ (Katie's special friend :o))
 Here we are with sweet Harper, she was such a trooper in that loud restaurant, especially because she skipped her nap that evening AND made sure to look extra cute for the occasion. In case you can't tell, those are jeggings she is wearing.
Katie made me my favorite cake that my mom always made me growing up. Buttermilk chocolate with homemade icing. Mmmmm and she did a GREAT job! It was delish. Trevor and Alissa were able to come for cake and ice cream and play games after. It was such a fun birthday.

To finish my celebrating, Katie is taking me to lunch and shopping today. I'm so grateful for loving family and friends who make me feel special not only on my birthday but everyday!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

6 Strong Hands on the Steering Wheel

On New Year's Eve, one of my oldest and dearest friends got married. I have known Sophie since we were in 1st grade and have been friends ever since. Through Jr. High and High School we had a group of 6 friends that did almost everything together. We have been able to stay friends all these years and even as we have parted ways, gone to college, graduated from college and for some of us, got married.

The title is part of a special song the 6 of us vowed to play and dance to at each of our weddings. I was first, and played it at my reception and Sophie was second. So far we are 2 for 2!

Here are a few pictures from the wedding. I'm so glad I was able to share this special day with Sophie.

All of these photos are by Tony Modugno and his friend Tynan in Santa Barbara. If you live in SB and ever need photos done, contact them. They are awesome, plus Tony is one of my best friend's little brother. :o)

 Tanna the make-up artist.
 Kate, Tanna, Tina, Andi, Jaime, Sophs (the bride)
 Can you find the Mormon in this photo? ;o)
 Best friends.
 Same poses since high school.
Mom, Dad, Me and the Hub at the reception.

What a beautiful day!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Only 40 minutes and....

ONLY 377 calories per serving. Yep, that's right folks, this meal only took me 40 minutes and it was deliciouso. (Also, i'm pretty sure since I did the ground turkey and chicken broth subs it was probably even less calories than that.) This will be a repeat for sure, especially on those busy nights when I don't have much time to cook.

Once again Cooking Light saves the day. Here's the recipe:

Enchilada Casserole

Make a hearty, healthy Mexican casserole the whole family will enjoy. Substitute ground turkey and chicken broth instead of beef, if desired.
Enchilada Casserole 
YIELD: Serves 4 (serving size: 1 wedge)
  • TOTAL:40 Minutes
  • COURSE: Casseroles, Main Dishes


  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon 40%-less-sodium taco seasoning mix (such as Old El Paso)
  • 1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 4 (8-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas
  • 1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers *(I just used a shredded cheese blend I already had in the fridge)


1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and onion to pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring to crumble.
2. Preheat oven to 400°.
3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Sprinkle with flour; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add broth, taco seasoning, and tomato sauce to pan. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 1/2 cups tomato mixture to beef mixture; reserve 1/2 cup tomato mixture.
4. Place 1 tortilla in a 9-inch pie plate. Top with 1 cup beef mixture. Repeat layers, ending with tortilla. Spread reserved tomato mixture over tortilla. Top with cheese. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Cool slightly. Cut into 4 wedges.

*I did substitute ground turkey for the ground beef and chicken stock instead of beef stock. I also used less meat, just over 1/2 pound and it was plenty for us.

*I served it with some corn and a green salad and we were good to go! You have to try this recipe.

Oh and P.S. we are having the rest of our coconut rice pudding for our FHE treat tonight. :o) Still lovin' it!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Yum Yum!

For my New Year's resolution I have decided I want to try as many new recipes as I can. With our busy schedules I am only left one or two nights a week that I can actually spend a good amount of time cooking.

I just received my most recent Cooking Light magazine and decided to mark the recipes that looked good and try each of them. Another thing Jer and I are trying to do is eat a couple of meatless meals per week and Cooking Light is an awesome place to find great meatless dishes.

Last night we had the Bready's over for dinner to try out a couple of the recipes on my list.

1: Moroccan Chicken Butternut Squash Soup

  • YIELD: Serves 4 (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)
  • HANDS-ON:40 Minutes
  • TOTAL:48 Minutes
  • COURSE: Main Dishes, Soups/Stews


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 3 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (can buy this already cubed at the store, saves so much time!)
  • 2 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock or fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth (I used less sodium)
  • 1/3 cup uncooked couscous
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange rind


1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken; cook for 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Add cumin, cinnamon, and pepper to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add butternut squash and tomato paste; cook 1 minute. Stir in Chicken Stock, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Stir in couscous, salt, and zucchini; cook 5 minutes or until squash is tender. Remove pan from heat. Stir in chopped basil and orange rind.
*This is easy to make meatless especially since the zucchini and squash are so hearty and the couscous adds some oomph as well. Just omit the chicken :o)
Everyone really liked this soup. It had a great flavor and the squash was delish in it. AND has just under 300 calories per 1 1/2 c serving (that's with the chicken, without it would be even less.) 
And for dessert...
2. Warm Coconut Rice Pudding
  • YIELD: Serves 6 (serving size: 1/2 cup pudding and 1/2 teaspoon pistachios)
  • COURSE: Desserts, Puddings/Custards


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup uncooked instant rice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pistachios


1. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in rice; cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; uncover. Set aside.
2. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl.
3. Combine 1/4 cup milk and yolks in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add sugar mixture to milk mixture, stirring with a whisk until blended.
4. Bring remaining 1 1/4 cups milk and coconut milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Gradually add hot milk mixture to yolk mixture, stirring with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan. Bring to a boil, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in cooked rice, coconut, and next 3 ingredients (through cardamom). Top with pistachios.
*I didn't have cardamom or pistachios so I just omitted them and it was totally fine.
This recipe was SO delicious and literally only took me 20 min or less to make. AND it was only 228 calories per serving! I think this is a must-try. 
I love having the Cooking Light magazine come to my home because I like having the pictures, etc. BUT if you're not into magazine subscriptions, you can get any Cooking Light recipe online at

And here are the twinner BFFs doing the dishes together. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Cruisin' in Cabo

I'm doing our blog posts a little backwards because I'm waiting to get photos from our wondrous Christmas with the Houstons so we are going to start off with our New Years celebrations.

We kicked off the New Year right celebrating the wedding of my best friend Sophie to our new friend Alex. They are now the Jones'. Awesome, right? They had a beautiful wedding in Santa Ynez, Jer and I were so glad we were able to be there and share that special day with them. I was one of the bridesmaids along with our 4 other friends from our tight-knit group from high school.

They had a very nice, traditional Jewish ceremony which I have never been to before.
 After the ceremony we had a parade with music along Santa Ynez Main Street. Here are Andi and Tanna, Andi needed to take off her shoes for this intense event. :o)

 Here we are enjoying the reception where they had breakfast for dinner, cupcakes, fun music and dancing.
Cutting the cake!

Another great kick-off to 2012 was the stomach flu that ran through our entire family. Somehow, my mom was able to escape the dreaded bug but my round of it came right after we rang in the new year, just in time for us to leave for our cruise in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Needless to say, that two-hour drive was quite eventful, especially because my sister's turn came just hours after mine started.


I took the rest of that first day on the boat to recover from my flu and then we had a blast with our friends cruisin in Mexico! We went with Jer's company he worked for last summer and is managing for this summer, several of our friends worked with him too so it turned out to be a blast with all of our friends.

 Day 1: Walrus. Can't leave out the infamous towel animals.
 The first evening at sea was formal night. Here is our table in our cruise best.
 Ballroom friends.
 Cruise buddies.
 Awkward family photos.
 We all fit between the two stair railings!! Haha
 Day 2: Dog. First day on shore in Cabo San Lucas
 This picture is a true example of some of the poses the photographers on the ship were putting people in for photos. This is not a dramatization.
 Just arriving in Mexico!
 Water taxi tour around Cabo.
 Court and Eric.
 Snorkeling on Lover's Beach.
 Jer cliff jumping  off of Lover's Beach.
 In front of Lover's Cove. Our tour guide said, "two people went in, three came out."
 Friends on the beach.
 Miami Vice at Los Claros and yummy tacos and guacamole.
 Day 3: Elephant.
 Headed out to parasail on our second day on shore.
 Up in the air! From our highest point we saw a hammerhead shark in the water! It was crazy! And a little scary since we had been swimming in that water. We also saw a stingray.
 So much fun! And such a beautiful view. Our boat driver dipped our feet in the water as he brought us in.
 After parasailing, we went with the Bready's to explore the streets. Here are Jer and Eric.
 Day 4: Monkey! Day at sea.

Day 5: Snail

We are now home and ready for real life again although our three week holiday was a nice break!