Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Chicken Cordon Bleu





This recipe is quick and easy with great results!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

6-8 Chicken Breasts
6-8 slices of Ham
6-8 slices of Swiss Cheese
2 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup
1 carton of Sour Cream
1/2 Cup of Milk
Crushed Croutons or Bread Crumbs
1/4 cup butterCordon Bleu2

Grease 9×13 pan. Preheat oven to 375. Place chicken in pan and top each piece with one slice of ham and one slice of swiss cheese. In a separate bowl combine sour cream, soup, and milk. Mix together and then spread evenly over the top of chicken. Melt butter in a small bowl and add bread crumbs until absorbed. Sprinkle on top. Bake for 30-45 minutes uncovered.

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The Perfect Job – Part 3

(Read Part 1 and Part 2)

I applied for Medicaid for me and the children. We qualified. I felt worse and worse. I could no longer work multiple jobs, my body could no longer handle the 60-70 hours a week. I cut back my hours and prayed we would be able to make it. I continued to look for why God had cut me down. What was this great thing he had planned for me?

The answer came one day as I was walking to my car… To be at home with my children. For three years I had begged God to open a way for me to be home with my kids, but the answer had always been “not yet.” I had to work multiple jobs to keep a roof over our head and food on the table, but no more. At last, God was opening a way for me to be home and my husband to provide. The loss of my insurance, meant I had the option to cut my hours. I didn’t have to work a set number of hours to keep insurance. It is tight and scares me, but I am home with my kids much more. I still work about 30 hours a week between all my jobs, but I have hope that this will lessen as my husband makes more and we pay off debt.

I share this experience because I’ve realized that many of us have things happen in our life that feel as if they will break us. Things happen that we hadn’t planned, but if we can look for God’s will in it, we may find the strength to go on. We may find that something so much better is in store for us.

This is how I found my perfect job…being a Mom. My story doesn’t really end here. As I face each day I have to find the strength to keep hopeful and not doubt, not forget the blessings and guidance I have received. At least I can now see God’s hand in my life, a reason for the pain.

I would love to hear your stories. Have you had challenges in your life that you thought would break you, but ended up being a huge blessing? Please share your story in the comments or email us at balancetoday (at) gmail (dot) com and we may share your story on the blog.

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The Thing in the Theater

The Thing in the Theater: A true story
by Kevin Harris

The old Kamas Theater has always had its share of creaks, pops, and other unexplained sounds. During the few years that I’ve been running the theater, I have gotten accustomed to most of the noises—The wind howling between the old-fashioned narrow doors, the apparent sound of movement in the empty locked up spaces, the bathroom door that closes on its own, and even the radio that occasionally starts itself up and plays me a tune. These don’t phase me anymore. But one night, I heard a sound that stopped me in my tracks and chilled me to the bone.

Built in the 1940s to replace an opera house that burned down, this one screen movie theater with an impressive 190 plus seat auditorium was on the cutting edge of technology at the time—introducing movies with sound (or talkies) to the valley. Many theaters have ice cream parlors or sandwich shops built on to the sides of them. The Kamas Theater had a hospital wing built on to it’s side which ran the length of the building. Phone reception to this day isn’t very good in certain parts of the building because of the metal plates built in to the walls to try to contain the radiation from the x-rays.

Usually, after the show ends and the crowds leave I lock myself in the theater so that I can clean up and shut things down for the night. Most people have never heard the silence of the theater. When they arrive music is already playing and when they leave the credits are still rolling or music has started up again. After the climactic completion of car chases, alien invasions, and sweeping romances the silence seems palpable as I whisk my broom through each aisle of the now abandoned room.

Well, after turning the key the other night, and switching off the music and various concession stand lights, I spent 20 minutes or so finishing up some paper work and then put my ear buds in to listen to a radio program while I started to sweep the theater. The ear buds make the time go faster and help me ignore the stretching and groaning rafters as they settle in for the night.

The radio program I was listening to occasionally had music or audio effects in the background so when I first heard the noise I assumed it was part of the recording. I thought to myself that it seemed strange to have crying in the background of that part of the show, because it didn’t seem to go at all with what they were talking about. When I heard it again I realized that it wasn’t coming from my ear buds at all and I immediately paused my show. I stood there in silence for a moment wondering if I had imagined it—until, very clearly and louder than I expected—I heard it again. It was in the theater with me.theater seats

I had thought it was crying when I heard it through my ear buds, but now I could tell that it was not crying, but more of a laughing—a baby or child laughing. But not a real child laughing, this had a tinny sound to it that made it sound somehow different. That was when I noticed the light. There—down on the second row against the left wall was a light shining up between the seats that seemed to be flickering on and off and it was from there that the sound seemed to be emanating. My mind raced. What could that be? It finally settled on some sort of baby’s toy. Something that lit up and laughed. Yeah, that must be it. Some sort of doll that laughed. And for some reason it had been silent through the entire movie and for the last half hour since I locked the door…

I found myself clutching the broom. Glad that I had some sort of weapon to defend myself from the crazy images my mind was conjuring up. I knew I had to walk down to that row but my feet wouldn’t move. I could imagine some evil looking doll with glowing eyes and a little mouth that opened while the recorded laughter played. It would of course start talking to me when I saw it and I would be forced to use the broom on it—beating it until little springs and cogs came out of it. But would that really stop it? I told myself I had seen too many scary movies and nothing like that could actually happen. Yet, there I stood. In the middle of a movie theater—living in my own horror movie. With the broom now positioned more like a baseball bat in my hands I slowly made my way down the empty theater to the second row.

I didn’t see anything at first except for a black rectangle on the ground. It took me a minute to process that the rectangle was actually a cell phone laying upside down and that the baby laughter must be someone’s ringtone. I let out the breath I didn’t realize I had been holding and picked up the phone. Sure enough, missed call-one minute ago. I called the number back and a woman answered. She had just realized her phone was missing and was scared she had lost it. She called hoping I was still there and would hear it ring. I thought to myself that her fear of losing her phone was nothing compared to the fear that still hadn’t dissipated completely from my racing heart and shaking body. She may have been scared of losing her phone, but I had been scared of losing my mind.

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The Perfect Job – Part 2

(Read Part 1 here)

Tears flowed freely as I drove home and continued into the night. My heart was broken. The next morning I called my old job. They hadn’t even posted the position and I was trying to help them get by until they figured it out. They were grateful I could just keep things running and said they would get back to me about my job. They didn’t want everyone to think they could just quit and then expect to come back.

I forced myself to get through each day and then would cry myself to sleep each night and wake up with a deep emptiness. Each night I would pray I wouldn’t have to face another day. It wasn’t really that I wanted to die, but I wanted to return home to my father in heaven. I could just imagine myself like a small child in his arms being comforted, free from this horrible pain of despair. I was lost.

I had no hope left in me until my sweet 10 year old son came to comfort me one night when he heard me crying. He reminded me of a story we had recently heard about a currant bush. (click here to see it). The story is about a currant bush that is cut back so it can produce fruit. It was compared to a story of a man who was angry with God when he didn’t get the promotion he wanted, but realized it was for his good and eventually became grateful that God would cut him back——love him enough to hurt him. Anyway, my son said that maybe God was cutting me back, because he had something greater in mind for me.

I still struggled through each day, but I held onto this thought that maybe God had something greater in store for me. I searched for what it may be everywhere I went and everyone I talked to.

I had continued working my old job. They finally let me know I could keep my job, but they were cutting my hours and taking away my health insurance. I couldn’t even be angry. I was broken. Our situation just kept getting worse and I had nothing left to give. No fight left in me. The last three years had broken me (I’ll share more later). Everyone was certain I would quit and find another job. I didn’t have it in me to apply for jobs. I stayed. Feeling as if I was dying a little more each day. It shouldn’t be a surprise that I wasn’t feeling well and I was exhausted. All this stress could do it to anyone, but mine wasn’t just because of the stress. We soon found out that I was pregnant and now out of insurance.

I applied for Medicaid for me and the children. We qualified. I felt worse and worse. I could no longer work multiple jobs, my body could no longer handle the 60-70 hours a week. I cut back my hours and prayed we would be able to make it. I continued to look for why God had cut me down. What was this great thing he had planned for me?

Continue to Part 3

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How to Make Toast (4 Easy Steps!)

How to make toastThis recipe has been in the family for generations. I remember enjoying toast at my grandmother’s table as a small child. Back in 2000 I decided to preserve this recipe for generations to come by putting it to paper. There were some variations (especially on step 3), but what you see below is our family’s favorite version. This first appeared back in 2000 in the Highland 8th Ward’s “Treasured Recipes” book. Adult Supervision Suggested.

Toast
(By Kevin Harris)

Ingredients:
Bread, Sliced
Butter (or butter substitute)

Instructions
Put bread in toaster.
Push down lever.
When done, take out and butter side facing up.
Let cool 5 seconds.

That’s it! If you have any questions, please contact me.

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Our Path to Financial Independence

Three years ago I went from a SAHM (Stay at Home Mom) to working 60-70 hours a week (very low paying jobs and family business). This was just to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. This was a hard time for our family. My husband struggled to find a good paying, steady job.

Financial IndependenceAfter many prayers we find our situation changing. My husband is working more and I’m able to stay home more with our kids. I actually was able to take my kids to school on their first day and be home to hear about it I had missed those moments! We have another child on the way and I don’t want to be forced back into full time + hours again. I want to enjoy every moment! We have two debts I would love to see gone before our baby comes. A credit card $2,420.74 and a Business line of Credit $5,215.23 A total of $7,635.97! This is a pretty large goal for us considering the baby is due the end of January.

I believe with focus our family can pull together and accomplish this goal as well as many others that will put us on the road to financial freedom.

September Plan

• Kevin (husband) work enough hours to provide for our needs

• Stick to budget

• Continue to pay $225.00 towards credit card and $300 towards Business Loan

• I will continue to work 5-10 hours a week as a Community Service Specialist & teach fitness classes. My pay checks will go towards paying off debt.

• Hold 6 Usborne Books & More parties in homes or online http://d4183.myubam.com/ All profit towards debt.

• Sell Paparazzi Jewelry online & at theater. All profit towards Debt.

• Declutter apartment. Sell items on Facebook yard sale pages. All money towards paying off debt.

• Send in medical bills to get reimbursed from FSA (Flexible Spending Account) All money towards debt.

• Send in medical bills to AFLAC. All money towards debt.

Do you have debt hanging over your head? What is your plan? We would love to hear what you’re working on or successes you’ve had. Leave in the comments below or send in your story and it may be shared on our blog.

September Debt:
Credit Card $2,420.74
Business Line $5,215.23
Total: $7,635.97

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The Perfect Job

I enjoyed my work most days——it was rewarding to help individuals or families in need. The only problem was that I was helping them improve their situation and become self-reliant, but I myself was struggling to care for my own family. I was working multiple jobs: teaching fitness classes early in the morning, helping families in need during the day, and running a movie theater with my husband in the evenings. This left very little time to spend with my husband and our beautiful children. I was spread thin and tormented with guilt for not being there for my kids. Each day I was helping individuals find jobs that paid better than what I made——and I was more qualified.

One day, I came across a job that was perfect for me. I couldn’t resist applying. I had years of experience, so I wasn’t surprised to get called in for an interview. The interview went better than I ever dreamed it would. They called me back for another interview and I couldn’t have been more excited. As they scheduled my second interview I asked about the benefits, not wanting to waste anyones time. I was currently providing the insurance and would need to continue to do that for our family. They looked up the cost and I figured out that even with working fewer hours, and paying a little more for insurance, I would still end up making more money. It was a dream come true——fewer hours at work, more time with family, and more money.

The second interview went perfect. I felt as if God himself put the words in my mouth at times. I was perfect for the job. Many experiences in my life now made sense, as if they had led to this moment. I would be good at this job and be able to make a real difference in the lives of children. I was thrilled when they offered me the job. I excitedly gave notice at my current job and started scheduling conferences and meetings to get started at my new job.

I finished my two weeks at my old job and went in for my first day. They handed out new hire information. I didn’t see anything about health insurance and quickly learned that they hadn’t budgeted for me to have health insurance. I had been misinformed when I had asked about it weeks earlier. I panicked as I told them that I have to have health insurance. My husband had just been in the hospital and we didn’t know what was going on. We have four children. It would be very risky not having insurance.

I spent the day brainstorming how to make this work. By the end of the day we had a solution. We decided we would just go through the marketplace/affordable care act to get insurance. I told my new employer not to worry——I had figured it out.

The next day I was called in to meet with the head guy over me. I was completely shocked when he sat me down and proceeded to tell me that they were terminating my employment. He said that I had a husband and family to take care off, and that I couldn’t leave a 30 hour a week job with benefits for this job. I tried to explain the pay difference, that I had figured out insurance, etc. It didn’t matter what I said… it was over. He encouraged me to ask for my old job back. Tears filled my eyes as I walked out and then quickly they turned to sobs that racked my body as I sat in the car.

I had been so excited to do this job. I had told everyone about it. I was finally going to get a break. I had worked so many hours for so long and thought I was going to get to cut back my hours and be with my family more. Experiences from my past would finally make sense and have meaning in this new job. I was the perfect person for the position. I couldn’t wait to get started——and then it was over before it ever really began.

Continue to Part 2

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Supreme Rice Krispie Bars

Delicious!

Delicious!

This is a great recipe for kids to help with. They can began to learn how to read a recipe, follow directions, and how to measure. Before you know it they will be able to make it on their own. This is also my go to recipe when bringing something to a potluck.

Supreme Rice Krispie Bars
1 C Peanut Butter
1 C Karo Syrup
1 C Sugar
7 C Rice Krispies
1 Bag Butterscotch Chips
1 Bag Milk Chocolate Chips

Combine peanut butter, Karo syrup, and sugar. Heat in Microwave for 3 minutes. Add Rice Krispies. Mix well. Press into cookie sheet.

Combine butterscotch chips and chocolate chips. Heat in microwave. Stir every 30 seconds until melted. Spread evenly over bars. Cool. Cut into squares.

Warning: These are very addictive!

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Meeting with the Guru

My wife returned from the recreation center with a solution to my problem. The ladies at the recreation center were like an all-knowing Jedi council. They didn’t gather just to improve their strength and flexibility—no, they gathered to find out and share the latest happenings around town. There was seemingly nothing they didn’t know. I would hear of some shocking event that happened with a prominent member of our town and breathlessly tell me wife about it. She would listen and say, “Yeah, that happened last week” as she yawned and went back to her downward dog. Occasionally, my wife would grace me with some of the group’s omniscient power that pertained to my life. This was one of those moments.

It just so happened that there was a man that lived in the area who could possibly help me. His story seemed shrouded in legend, but what I was able to glean was that he had, only a few years previous, been in a very similar situation to me. He had been stressed out, angry, and trapped in a bad lease with a dishonest landlord. Now, he appeared to be well off financially. (My finances were a mess.) He was in good health. (I had just gotten out of the hospital because of my bad health.) And he was knowledgeable about meditation and eastern philosophies. (I had been curious to learn meditation.)

Somehow, this man already knew about me, and my recent misadventures. He gave my wife his phone number and said I could call “when I was ready.” I didn’t really want to call a stranger and tell him my problems, but I was curious to meet this mysterious man and I did want to learn to meditate. I was in such a bad place, that I was willing to try anything that might bring peace and meaning back into my life.

After a few days of hesitation, I locked myself in the bathroom and called him. I don’t remember much of the conversation except that he said it was up to me if I wanted to keep suffering or not. We arranged a time and decided that his house would be the best place to meet. I scribbled his address down on a scrap of paper.

doorbellWhen the day arrived—it was a Saturday morning—I got in my car and headed out to find this man’s house. I felt like I was on my way to meet Yoda on his swamp planet or to meet Morpheus and have to choose which color pill to take. I was surprised when the address led me to a subdivision with modest sized houses, children playing in the streets, and people mowing their lawns. I double-checked the address as I pulled up in front of a house. It was in the middle of the block, and looked no different from the rest of the homes. As I walked to the porch and stood there looking at the doorbell, I felt stupid. This was just some guy living in a subdivision that didn’t know me—and I was here to get council from him. He had told me on the phone that I didn’t have to believe everything he told me and that if I wanted to tell him to “Go to hell” that he would be fine with that. I imagined him with long hair pulled back into a ponytail and wondered if he would be sporting some kind of guru robe or something.

I suddenly realized that I had been standing there for a long time and that the neighbors might be wondering what I was doing or worse he might be watching me through the window. I decided to push the button.

It took a few minutes before the door opened and there he was—a normal looking guy with short hair, wearing normal clothes. In fact, I was pretty sure I had seen him around town before. He welcomed me in and showed me to the front room. There was a TV and a sectional, a couple of plants, and a view of a regular looking kitchen. He said I could lie down if I wanted to—it was up to me. I sat down. I sat in the far corner of the sectional and he sat across from me. He shared some of his life and I shared some of mine. As I described my problems, frustrations, and doubts, he seemed pleased. We talked about how we talk about things and we thought about how we think about things. I was there for three hours, and it seemed like one. I could have stayed longer.

In the end, he told me that I was “very Buddhist”. He seemed to think that was a good thing—I wasn’t so sure. I got in my car and only drove about a block before I pulled over and wrote down everything I could remember from our conversation. In another post I will focus more on the details of that conversation. Just know that I left with very mixed feelings——I felt a hatred for the man for helping me further question the beliefs that I was already questioning, but also a feeling of gratitude and respect for making me think about things in a way that I had never thought of. It was really quite surreal and I still have mixed feelings about it.

One thing is for sure: it led me to several books and a period of contemplation that has made me a stronger and a more peaceful person. I feel as though I was released from all of my beliefs so that I could analyze each piece from all sides and then embrace anew each truth and discard any fear and lies that were poisoning me. I may be “very Buddhist” but my Buddhist ways have made me a stronger Christian. I feel closer to God than I have in years. I have wiped away the corrosion and embraced the truth of who I am. I now more fully understand why I understand and believe why I believe.

I don’t know that I would recommend it to anyone, but… perhaps… if the wise women of your recreation center deem it necessary for you to have a turn on the sectional of your local suburban guru. You might consider it.

Just don’t lie down.

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Oreo Delight

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is an easy and simple recipe that everyone loves!

1 Pkg. Oreo Cookies
1 Pkg. Instant Chocolate Pudding
1 C. Powdered Sugar
1 Stick Margarine
8 oz. Cream Cheese
16 oz. Cool Whip

Crush two rows of cookies in a freezer bag. Melt margarine and mix with crushed cookies. Spread evenly in bottom of 9X13 inch pan. Place in freezer until hard.

Mix pudding according to package directions. Set aside.

Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, and over half of Cool Whip. Place a layer of Cool Whip mixture over cookie crust. Add a layer of pudding over this. Layer Cool Whip mixture. Layer pudding again. Place remaining Cool Whip over this. Crush remaining cookies and sprinkle on top. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours before serving.

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