Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekly Menu 28 February - 5 March

I am really struggling to get out of my rut. I seem to make the same dishes over and over. I dig through cookbooks, scan blogs and google recipes. In spite of all that, I'm making some old favorites this week again!
Sunday: Potato and Ham Soup
Monday: Spanish Rice casserole with garlic cheese biscuits
Tuesday: Baked chicken, rice and green beans
Wednesday: Homemade pizzas with salad
Thursday: Crockpot French dip sandwiches, potatoes
Friday: (uncertain at this point if we'll be having friends over, this could be simply "cocktail night"
Actually, the potato and ham soup, as well as the crockpot French dip sandwiches are new favorites. I've only made each of those a couple of times.
The potato and ham soup is simmering on the stove now and it smells delicious. It's a fantastic dish for today because it's rainy and chilly...yes, even here in Hawaii we have soup nights!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Empty nest? Not yet!

Just as I was getting really depressed that our move to Rhode Island wouldn’t include Callie, who is going back to Texas to finish college, we get news that Alex will be joining us!
Nick and I have a “blended family” We married over five years and ago and each brought children into the mix. I have three and he has two, mine are older and his live with their mom. Alex is the youngest of the five and he’s 14 years old. Nick and I have wanted him with us for quite some time. He’s very much in need of his father and I know we can give him some stability that he’s been lacking. (in spite of our nomad lifestyle) So, life in Rhode Island will find us with three kids in Texas, one attending school in Minnesota, and Alex with us. In spite of my recent bragging that the empty nest didn’t scare me, I was secretly getting very depressed at having all my chicks so far away. It will be nice to have a kid around for a while longer. This kid will do very well in our world. He will thrive being an only child when he’s had little attention for the last several years. The biggest surprise to me was how excited Alex is to come to live with us. He truly loves his dad and wants to be with him. He wants what all kids want and deserve, a family. It does my heart good.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dental Visit

I am not one of those people that dreads or fears going to the dentist. I had pleasant experiences as a child and worked for a dentist for two years in high school.
At today's dental appointment I was told I have a fracture in one of my back molars and need a crown. It's really no surprise considering the amount of amalgam fillings in those teeth. Eventually they were going to start crumbling. I have to admit, I'm a little nervous about the crown. The most work I've ever had done was a filling. I'm a firm believer in sedatives and numbing medicine!
I decided to try to cook healthy today and made pork tenderloin for dinner along with thyme roasted sweet potatoes and a spinach salad. It was all very yummy. Normally I either bake the potatoes or roast them in chunks with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Tonight I decided to hunt for a spicier recipe and found this recipe on Thyme Roasted Sweet Potatoes. It was delicious and even made my lips burn a little from the red pepper flakes. If you decide to make these, and don't like a lot of heat, reduce the amount of red pepper flakes.
I normally buy my pork tenderloins already marinated, but the commissary was out of those this week and I bought a plain one. I cheated and bought a bottle of lemon, herb and black pepper marinate. It was ok, but I should have been more creative and made my own.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I remember the first time I was invited to a BUNCO game. I told my friend I didn't know how to play. She said "If you can hold a cocktail in one hand and roll the dice with the other, you can play"  She was right, and I've loved it ever since. However, I find that BUNCO without a cocktail (or even a glass of wine) isn't as much fun.
Like most things, BUNCO is only as fun as the people you are with. I have played some boring games of BUNCO with women who were WAY too serious about the game. They rushed through the rolling of the dice and didn't want to talk at all, because it distracted from the game. I would rather lose at the game, but have greats conversation, laughs and a good time.
We also play the Right, Left, Center game. This game always ends up with us yelling and cheering. What a silly thing. I feel sure that one day the MPs will be at our door, watching a bunch of Army wives gambling on a dice game. That can't be good!
I'm taking my $5.00 for BUNCO, and $3.00 for the RLC game and will probably lose it all, but I'll have some great girlfriend time!


I'm having trouble finding myself since Nick's been home and has changed jobs. I was very involved with his battalion during the deployment as well as serving on three different boards during that year. Now there is nothing that I HAVE to do, so I'm doing absolutely nothing. It's starting to drag me down. I can only clean house, do laundry, and search the web for so many hours a day. No kids (other than the college student) means few demands in that area as well. Although she and I need to figure out where she's going to school next year and get that started.
I'm so ready for our move to Rhode Island. Could part of my problem be "short timer's disease" ?  I've heard of this. Once you know where you're going, you're ready to GO! I've been looking at houses online, communicating with the Naval housing office and am getting excited to take this next step.  Nick absolutely hates his new job now (big surprise there) and that doesn't make it any easier around here.
I need to make weekly goals for myself before I become a raving lunatic. Structure..that's the ticket! (getting back to the gym wouldn't hurt either)
On a different note, I made a fabulous dinner tonight.  I cooked the roast in the slow cooker with a mixture of 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup and 1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix. It makes a kickin' gravy! About 2-3 hours before serving, I dumped chunks of potatoes and carrots in to cook in the juices.
I decided this afternoon to make some kind of bread to go along with that amazing gravy and found these: Fool-Proof Popovers  from the Food Network. They rose up and were definitely airy. Nick opened the first one up and said "Hey, there's a hole in here"  Then he proceded to fill the hole with roast and gravy and ate three of them! I guess they're a hit.
Tomorrow night is BUNCO with the spouse's club group. I will have a blast and have an errand now. I have to bring the wine!  Here's hoping for a big win so I have money to play with the neighborhood group on Friday night! Let's Roll!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chocolate Bliss Cookies

Since we are PCSing this summer (that's Permanent Change of Station for you non-military readers) I am cleaning out the cupboards.
I thought it would be nice to actually use the items I have stored in the kitchen rather than giving or throwing them away at the last minute.
I stocked up on baking items over the last year while Nick was gone. I found baking very therapeutic and loved having things handy if new neighbors moved in or someone was in need.
Today I was able to do away with two boxes of Baker's Semi-sweet baking chocolate squares. I used the recipe on the box to make these:

Recipe is here: Chocolate Bliss Cookies

I omit the nuts in the cookies because Nick and Callie are adament about NOT having nuts in their baked goods.
Dinner tonight was WAY simple. Salmon was already stuffed at the commissary and required only baking, rice was a box of wild mushroom rice (yummy) and roasted asparagus. Nick loves the asparagus and asks for it all the time now. I simply cut the tough ends off, spread on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. I roast it at 375 for about 10 minutes and it's delicious! I especially love the bite of spice from the red pepper flakes.
Watch for me to get creative with cans/boxes of stuff in my pantry over the next few weeks. It could be disasterous!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Bamboo Bugler

Hawaii has beautiful song birds. All day long I can hear birds singing, chirping, and even squawking. It’s funny to me how they start in the morning, and weaken throughout the day until dark when they are completely silent.

While Nick was deployed, I noticed a particular bird. I was awakened almost every morning by this bird that seems to be singing from the huge bamboo patch outside my bedroom window. His song is loud and beautiful. I remember making the comment to Nick on the phone one morning that this bird seemed to be the one to awaken the others because no bird made a sound until this one sounded off just before dawn.

A few weeks ago, Nick and I noticed this same bird was the last one to sing in the evening. I compared him to the Bugler at the parade field playing Reveille in the mornings to get our day started and Taps in the evening to end our day.

I look forward to hearing this bird every morning and evening. It’s one of the many things I’ll miss about Hawaii.

That clanking bamboo patch outside my bedroom window is another thing I’ll miss. It’s a very unique sound as the trade winds rustle through it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Taco Soup

Little did I know when my good friend Susan gave me this recipe years ago that it would be a favorite at our house. Nick LOVES this soup and I love it because it's so stinkin' easy.  Serve it with cornbread (which is my preference) or on a busier day, just tortilla chips. It's DELISH!

Taco Soup

2 lbs ground beef
2 cans black beans
2 cans Pinto beans
1 package ranch dressing dry mix
1 can rotel tomatoes
1 packet of taco seasoning

Brown ground beef and season with taco seasoning. Drain fat.
Add beans, tomatoes, dry ranch dressing mix.
Serve with flour tortillias, or tortillia chips and grated cheddar cheese. (or cornbread!)

Corn Bread

1 Cup corn meal
1 Cup flour (all purpose)
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1/3 Cup oil
 2 eggs
1 ½ Cup buttermilk
Combine all ingredients. Pour into baking pan. ( I use an iron skillet) Bake at 400* for 25 minutes or until brown on top.

If you want to omit the baking powder and salt, use self rising flour instead of all purpose.

This would be really good on a cold night, but since we don't have "cold" here in Hawaii, I still cook it on the "chilly" nights. 73 degrees is cold to most Hawaiians!

Weekly Menu 21-26 Feb

Sunday: Taco soup with cornbread
Monday: Stuffed salmon, asparagus and rice
Tuesday: Roast beef, potatoes and carrots
Wednesday: leftovers (my bunco night)
Thursday: lemon, herb & pepper pork tenderloin, sweet potatoes & salad
Friday: BBQ pork sandwiches and oven fries

Since I've started making a menu before hitting the commissary, it's amazing how much my grocery bill has reduced. I cook a yummy meal almost every night and am still saving money. It also takes the stress off every day cooking. I post the menu on my kitchen bulletin board and check it every morning so I can defrost something or crank up the crock pot!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pizza Night

Since Nick's been home, I've had more time on my hands and have been home more. I have received some great recipes and ideas from friends and am being more and more inspired to cook and bake.

I heard my friend Michelle talk about Friday night pizza night and decided that was a wonderful idea! I learned to make pizza dough and have Nick top the dough since he worked his way through college in a pizzaria. (I never do it quite right)

Tonight was our pizza night. I had several veggies and of course, pepperoni, my favorite! No pizza is complete in our house without LOTS of cheese.

Pizza Dough

2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1-1/2 cups warm water (110 ⁰F)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
3-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of the flour. Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until double; this should take about 1 hour. Punch down the dough, and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out. Use for your favorite pizza recipe. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may place your toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it. Bake pizza in preheated oven, until the cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Finally we know something!

We heard two days ago that Nick has been selected to attend the Naval War College in Newport, RI. I knew we'd be headed to the east coast and colder weather, but I really hadn't prepared myself for something this far north.

I love the thought of a New England fall and the crisp weather I haven't experienced since I left east Tennesse as a 14 year old girl. I want to go apple picking, see the foliage, have a fireplace, and cook lots of soup and other comfort foods. However, I have never lived where I would even possibly need a snow shovel. I can't imagine how that will be. Thankfully, I have an able-bodied Soldier/husband who can do the heavy work for me.

I want to visit every Bed & Breakfast I can get to, take a weekend trip to Boston, and NYC and enjoy every piece of history this area offers. There is a HUGE silver lining to this cold cloud. I'm looking forward to changes!! Imagine that!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Am I the only one who is old enough to remember that song?

The lovely thing about living with the Army is it is constantly changing. If you don't like where you are and who surrounds you, just wait a while and it will change. Even after you think you know what you're doing, it could still change!

Nick and I had a major change last week as he stepped away from command. After a few days of R&R in Maui, he starts his job as a staff officer today. My identity for more than 2 years has been along side him as the commander. What in the world will I do now?

I will wait for orders from the Army telling us where we're going next, and get my house ready to move.

My new motto: Everything is subject to change!

I don't fight change anymore.. I embrace it! I'm ready for the next thing!

Trying my hand at blogging...

As if I have SO much free time!

I have been thinking about doing this for a while. Let's see if anyone besides my family will even take a look!