Tomato Basil Chicken Pasta

20110628-014904.jpgThis recipe is delicious. Just ask my dad. I served him this on his last visit. This time around I added pasta and a creamier sauce.

You can make it difficult or you can use my “Sandra Lee Semi-Home Made” version.

McCormick’s Grill Mates makes some great rubs and marinades. Get 2 packets of the Tomato Basil powder. Use one as directed for the marinade of the chicken. The other packet we’ll use for some sauce.

The marinade is pretty simple.
1 packet
2 tbsp of vinegar (I like white balsamic. It gives an interesting flavor)
1/4 olive/canola oil
1/4 water

Mix and pour over your chicken. Wait 30 minutes before grilling.
Oil the grates of your grill and heat the temp to 400+. I have a super hot spot on my grill that will do 500 degrees to sear the meat. I recommend this. I sear for 3 minutes per side adding grill marks by turning 90 degrees half way through each side. Then I remove the high heat and let the meat cook indirectly for the remainder of the time.

Note: chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 180 degrees to be fully cooked.

To make the sauce, we’re gonna throw the directions away. Pour the packet of seasoning into a hot pot. Next ease a can of tomato sauce in. It will make a lot of noise. Have a cup of milk standing by to pour in as soon as you empty the can of tomato sauce. Pour it in and stir together. When the ingredients have “calmed down” add in sour cream until the sauce thickens to your liking.

I know using a packet feels like cheating, but this is a great time saver and there is no sacrifice in taste.

After removing your meat and letting it rest, you are ready to plate. Noodles down first, a little sauce, cut chicken next and finish off with sauce and garnish with fresh basil.

Try this one and let me know what you think.

Will I Still Build Credit?

Will I Still Build Credit?

Serena Asked:
I plan on purchasing a used vehicle. I’m 19 so I have no prior credit history, so my father will be co-signing the loan. He wants to put the car in his name so that the insurance will be cheaper, however I will be making the car payments myself. He is only helping with insurance. Will I still build credit, or does the car have to be under my name to build credit?

Ryan’s Answer:

There IS a difference between a Co-Borrower and a Co-Signer. In many states they can be the same, but usually not.

As a Co-Borrower you are both responsible for making monthly payments and it is reflected as such on your credit bureau (where you are building your credit profile).

A Co-Signer or sometimes called a Guarantor is responsible, but usually not reported on unless the loan goes into default.

These terms can depend on the lender you use as well.

The best thing to do is work with a Banker that can help you accomplish your true goal(s). In this case it sounds like you are not only buying a car, but also want to build credit and get a good rate on your car insurance. Be sure to tell your Banker that. They should submit your application in a way that truly reflects your personal financial goals outlined above.

With both of you as borrowers on the loan you will both be developing a credit profile. Be careful though. You are both tied together by this particular loan and that can have some back-firing moments.

I have seen cases where:
1.) Signer 1 files bankruptcy. Signer 2 does not. The bankruptcy (mistakenly) ends up on Signer 2’s Credit History. It can be fixed, but it can be a hassle too.
2.) Signer 1 is the true owner. Signer 2 is there to help with getting approved (in this case your dad). Signer 2 wants to apply for a refinance of his home loan because rates are low. He no longer qualifies because his debt to income has become too high with the added car payment.

I don’t think you should worry. Just ask your Banker like I said before. Their expertise will make the difference in getting to all three of your financial goals.

Dear Kids | The Columbia Zoo

Dear Gabby and Evan,

Several weeks ago I decided to live up to my stance against Saturdays spent inside watching TV.  I bought tickets for the Zoo and your mother and I planned a little trip to the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia.  Just like any other trip we “plan” to go on, I “planned” to leave an hour before we actually need to so we could leave on time (shhhh….that’s our little secret).  We grabbed a little Mickey D’s on the way out of town and adventure was ours.

We did encounter several problems.  One in particular was what I refer to as the “ATM Situation”.  The Zoo brochure brags about 2 ATMs on site so I didn’t stop and get cash.  Yes, I know.  I am a banker and I didn’t get cash before coming home. Tisk. Tisk.  Anyway, when we arrived we found that ALL ATMs were out of order and the cashiers in the gift shops don’t allow cash back on purchases.  Normally, not a problem, but the zoo also only accepts cash for their highly popular Merry Go Round and Rock Climbing Wall. Luckily there was a nice “older gentleman” that was not of “Generation teXt” that understood what I needed.  He guided me to the theater where I could buy tickets for you to climb that Rock Wall, Gabby and for both of you to ride the Merry Go Round.

You both may have been learning about animals that day, but I wrote this because I wanted you to know what I learned from you that day.

The way you approached climbing that Rock Wall showed me how to approach the adversities in life.  You took on that wall with child-like innocence, dogged expectation, and the pure belief that you belonged at the top.  That is what got you there.  You didn’t get to the top and then believe you belonged there.  You did it how God intended.  Believe, Do, Have.  Thank You.

The way you looked at strange animals and then looked back at me for an answer to “what is that” before forming your own opinion reminded me of how to approach new things in life.  I should turn to my Father in Heaven first and then form my opinion with his guidance.  Thank you, Son.

The day turned out Amazing.  Not just because your mother and I pulled off a Zoo Adventure, but because we all relaxed and enjoyed the time provided for us to make powerful memories.



Coffee Crusted Steaks

It probably sounds gross. Coffee crusted beef? It did to me the first time it was offered as a special at Stoney River in Roswell GA. It doesn’t taste like coffee at all. It pulls this savoriness out of the meat and really adds some depth. It’s super easy to do and chances are your dinner guests will be very intrigued. Mine were.

I’ve thought about making it for a few years actually, but didn’t find a recipe until earlier this year. I found the recipe at .

I added a few things and took a few things away to make it my own.

Tip: Grind your own coffee at the grocery store. Use a bold flavor and grind it to Turkish Style. That’s the finest most machines go. I wish they had a setting called “dust”, but they don’t.

It only takes about 1/4 cup of the coffee for 4 – 6 steaks. Add whatever spices you want to the steak about an hour before grilling. Then sprinkle the steaks with the finely ground coffee and rub it in until you’ve turned the steaks black.

Allow the meat to come to room temperature before grilling for best results. Heat the grill to 500 degrees so you can sear the steak, about 3 minutes per side. Don’t forget to turn your steaks 90 degrees about a minute and a half into it to get those great grill marks.

You’ll need to finish them using indirect heat. The amount of time for indirect heat will depend on the thickness if the meat. I did about 7 minutes, but you may want to use a temperature gauge to get the meat to the desired doneness.

Tip: REST. This is the easiest way to make a steak great and it is definitely the most neglected cooking tip. Let the meat rest for at least 5 minutes after removing from the grill.

Think about it like this. When you get burned, does water go to the surface of your skin? Yes. Whatever meat you are cooking does the same thing. If you cut the meat while it is still super hot at the surface the meat will dry out. Letting the meat rest allows the moisture to return to the center of the meat and retain it’s juiciness.

If you had my steaks, leave a comment and tell the world what you thought.

What’s The Best Account to Open to Save Money for Traveling

What’s The Best Account to Open to Save Money for Traveling

Cindy’s Question:

I want to start saving money. But I don’t know what sort of account would be best. I want to start travelling when I’m 22. I currently have a full time job, so I’m earning a living

Ryan’s Answer:

You need to answer these first:
1.) Roughly, how much will you need at 22 when you begin traveling
2.) Does where you work offer direct deposit?

I suggest you open a checking (free if you can find it) for your operating expenses and a savings account. Savings accounts do not earn a lot of interest, but right now there isn’t much that does. The reason I asked about direct deposit is because you can have a portion of your savings directly deposited into the savings. Out of sight, out of mind.

Be careful. Some savings accounts have a minimum deposit amount our you will have to pay a fee. Make sure to ask the Banker you work with to fully explain the Schedule of Fees when you open your account.

Making saving automatic is the key to having it stack up faster. It keeps your hands off for an “emergency” too.

Once you determine how much you will need, work the math backwards to determine how much per check you will need to hit your goal.

NOTE: You ABSOLUTELY NEED an emergency fund of roughly $1000 that you do not touch. When you are working your math backward from the amount you will need to take on your trip, make sure you add the $1000 to it.

Try these for additional resources.
The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness (3rd Edition Revised and Updated)
The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich (See all Retirement Planning Books)