Jan 31, 2011

Monday Meal

Saturday was my husbands 24th birthday. To celebrate one of his best friends came down and surprised him on Friday, he was totally speechless, and we had a party Saturday night. We cooked steaks, mashed potatoes, rolls, salad, and the piece de resistance, a home made Oreo Chocolate Cake.

It turned out amazing and put everyone in a chocolate comma. I hope you enjoy this sweet treat.

Oreo Cake
For the Cake
1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix {with or without pudding}
1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
10 crushed oreos
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottoms of (2) 9 inch round cake pans with parchment and grease pans thoroughly.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mix, salt, vanilla, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the crushed oreos and divide batter into the prepared pans.
3. Bake for 25-35 minutes, rotating pans half way through baking the baking time. Bake until the top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake for at least 30 minutes before inverting. Allow cake to cool completely on wire rack.
For the Oreo Buttercream
1 stick salted butter – room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter – room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar, 10x)
3-4 tablespoons very cold milk
25 crushed oreos
1. Cream the butters in the bowl of an electric or stand mixer. Add the vanilla extract and combine well.
2. Begin adding in the sugar and mixing thoroughly after each addition. After all of the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly, begin adding the very cold milk… one tablespoon at a time, combining well after each addition until you reach the desired consistency, and fold in crushed oreos.

Jan 27, 2011

Clean Bill & The Roommates

Well, I got the tube out of my ear and another quick check-up from the doctor and she said, that she is giving me a clean bill of heath as long as I promise to finish out my meds. I told her that would not be a problem at all. So, will just a little pain left in my right ear and the tiniest hint of a runny nose I should be 100% by Monday. This will also make the puppies very happy because I can finally start running again, meaning they can burn some of that energy off.

As for the other topic of discussion, the roommates. I know I have not mentioned it before, but when my husband moved down to Ft. Rucker he was roommates with a guy from his unit who owned a townhouse, which was nice and helped us financially. Then, right before that roommate "finished" school, they got another guy to move into the house. Fine by me, at least that's what I thought.

Then my plans changed and I moved down at the beginning of summer so it was the three of us plus my dog. To add to the madness, his wife and two children came down for the summer. She is a teacher and their children were young so it was the best thing for them to do so they could spend time together.

Finally, they left and it was the three of us again...until, we got word from my husbands unit that there was another guy coming down and was looking for a place to live. Guess what, he moved in too.

While I was not bothered at first due to the financial situation, splitting everything four ways, it is now taking a toll on me. In my little over a year marriage I have only lived with my husband, just me and him, for about two months. Now, I am to the point where I see the light at the end of the tunnel (graduation in April) and am ready for it to be just our little family.

Yes, I can stick it out for the next few months but I have seen this living situation take a little toll on our married life. The only time we can really talk is right before we go to bed, but that's hard because he goes to sleep two to three hours before I do.


Oh well, it's only a little over three months, it helps us save money, and our roommates (one more than the other) are really nice, chill guys. I also need to remember that this roommate situation is just a small blip on the radar of my husband and my life together.

Jan 25, 2011

Foggy Day

It rained here early this morning and brought a heavy fog in this afternoon. I couldn't resist getting out of bed and take some photos.

It's the most fog I have ever been in, and strangely it gives off a beautiful, ere presence.

Jan 24, 2011

Monday Meal

Since I have been sick, I have not had an apatite. This means my wonderful husband has had to cook. So, last night while he had his buddies over to watch football and eat pizza he made me chicken noodle soup. I was baffled! I was also wondering where he found how to make it, his answer Martha Stewart. It made me laugh because I never expected that to come out of his mouth.

The outcome, it turned out great and I promised I wouldn't tell his friends. He also surprised me by telling me he saved the link so I could share the recipe with all of you on my blog. So, along with the direct link above, here is the yummy chicken noodle soup recipe.

(serves 6 to 8)
3 quarts chicken stock
3 carrots, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
Salt and pepper
8 ounce medium egg noodles
4 cooked and shredded chicken breasts
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, or 1 tablespoon dried dill
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Place stock in a stockpot over medium-high heat, and bring to a simmer. Add carrots, and simmer until tender, about 6 min.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook noodles until just tender, about 6 minutes. Drain noodles, and add them to the pot of stock, along with shredded chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Heat until very hot. When ready to serve, stir in dill and parsley.

As for me, I am feeling better and should be in full form by tomorrow or wednesday. I also plan to get blogging since I am not spending the majority of my day sleeping the illness off.

Jan 20, 2011


I have a lot I want to post about but right now I am cuddled up on the couch because I am sick. I have a cold and the worst part, a double ear infection. Yeah...I thought at 25 years old ear infections would not happen to me. Proves how invincible I am.

This also means, for the past couple of nights I have not cooked dinner and my husband and our roommate (that's on the things I have to write about) had to fend for themselves.

Well, back to drinking tea and my second nap of the day.

Jan 17, 2011

Monday Meal

Since it is a long weekend my husband had some of his flight school buddies over to grill out and make smores around our fire pit. So instead of showing off the guys grilling handy work, I am going to share with you what I made for lunch yesterday, it is healthy and so delicious.

Pecan Apple Salad

Ingredients (serves 4)2-3 apples
100 g pecans
1 orange
salad mix of your choice

Dressing Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 orange, zest and juice
coarse salt & pepper

Slice the apples. 
Toast pecan quickly on a pan over medium heat until fragrant for a few minutes. 
Wash and dry the salad mix of your choice.

Zest washed orange.

Mix dressing ingredients and shake well for a few minutes. 
Toss and dress the salad.

Hope you enjoy this light, yummy lunch idea.

Jan 16, 2011

Date Day

I am so happy that this weekend is a long weekend. Why you might ask? It means I got to go on a date with my husband yesterday because he could afford to take one of the three days off from studying.

We did not do anything to exciting but rather simple and perfectly us.

To start with I did not tell him what we were doing at all, well, other than having to go to the store to stock up on food on our way back home. Once we got in the car, we headed to Dothan, the bigger town about 30 min away from Enterprise, and for the first stop we went to Adventure Land. Here, they have mini golf, bumper boats, go carts, and more importantly batting cages.

That was the main thing we went there for, to hit some balls. My husband, being the baseball player he once was, was way excited and of course he did great. As for me, it took me one round to get back into the "swing of things," but I did pretty good once I got my groove.

After we each had some rounds it was time for my husband to choose where we went for lunch. We went to Chili's, I know it doesn't sound impressive but around here it was nice to go somewhere like Chili's. We stuffed our faces and then it was time to run some errands. To his surprise, and thanks to gift cards, we were able to get some new games for our Wii, Mario Cart Racing and Wii Fit. We have already used the Wii steering wheels and will set up the Wii Fit later today after the Bears beat the Seahawks.

As you can tell, we had a nice, relaxing day to ourselves, I even told him no flight school talk until we get home and guess what? I got my wish. Now it's back to the normal routine for me, and back to hitting the books for my husband.

I almost forgot, I got a surprise as well yesterday. I was given a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers.

Jan 12, 2011

Final Hints of Christmas

Well, I have been a little distracted with getting the rest of the holiday pictures up onto the blog. Subconsciously, I think if I get these posts done I actually have to get of the "vacation" horse.  So here I go, the last set of photos from our Christmas vacation and a few stories too.

The second full night in Arizona my husband and I went on a double date with one of my best friends and her boyfriend of 7 years (yes, still just dating). We went to one of my favorite Mexican restaurants and enjoyed some good conversation and amazing food, I got the enchiladas. We then ventured to an older neighborhood in Tucson to enjoy the annual Christmas light competition. My husband had no idea what he was in for, but I have been going to this since before I could remember. It was great to see all the different houses decked out in their best Christmas lights. The city also holds a competition and hands out awards like the "mail man award," for the best decorated mail box, and of course the "best dressed," which is the number one house of the year.

We then took an quick trip up north when my husband found out one of his groomsmen was visiting his grandparents for Christmas. The day was full of exploring the desert, watching the wildlife, and most importantly catching up with great friend.

If you were wondering what the puppies did on their vacation, they hung out at my parents house running around, eating anything they could find, and chasing critters. Not only did they entertain themselves, my parents loved having them around. They lost their last dog a few days after our wedding. My husband and I also liked that they had lots of land to expend energy. This also opened our eyes to the fact that when we move after flight school we need a BIG yard.

To end our trip we celebrated with about 200 of my families closest friends with a Christmas Eve party. My dad cooked his traditional Christmas Eve Mexican beef, we exchanged gifts and laughs, and just had a great party. Not to mention had some even more amazing food and treats.

Overal the trip was amazing. My husband got a much needed rest of the academic world of flight school and I got to visit my home for the first time in over a year. Now, I guess it's back to reality and the flight school way of living.

Jan 10, 2011

*new* Monday Meal

I love to cook, and lucky for me so does my husband. Because of this fact we decided after we got married that on Sunday nights we would cook a more extravagant meal. You know, go a little outside of the budget and make something we have never tried before, wither it be an entrée, side dish, or sweet treat, we just like trying something new.

To help with this we took our cookbooks out of their rappers and even found a few good Web sites that are not the "normal" go tos. Now that we have a good running routine, even in the craziness of flight school, I have decided that every Monday I am going to post the meal and receipt for the night before.

Like I said some of them are our own creations, some are from cookbooks, while others come via the Web or other blogs. I hope you enjoy the first installment of Monday Meal — Braised Beef Short Ribs — thanks to a wonderful blog called Smitten Kitchen.

Braised Short Ribs with Potato Purée, Swiss Chard and Horseradish Cream
Serves 4 (generously) to 6

6 beef short ribs, about 14 to 16 ounces each (ask for 3 bone center-cut)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, and 4 whole sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
3 dozen small pearl onions
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced carrot
1/3 cup diced celery
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups port
2 1/2 cups hearty red wine
6 cups beef or veal stock
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
2 bunches Swiss chard, cleaned, center ribs removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Horseradish Cream (recipe follows)
Potato Purée/Mashed Potatoes (recipe follows)

Season the short ribs with 1 tablespoon thyme and the cracked black pepper. use your hands to coat the meat well. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Take the short ribs out of the refrigerator an hour before cooking, to come to room temperature. After 30 minutes, season them generously on all sides with salt.

When you take the ribs out of the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Toss the pearl onions with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon thyme, 3/4 teaspoons salt, and a pinch of pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast them about 15 minutes, until tender. When they have cooled, slip off the skins with your fingers and set aside. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F.

When it’s time to cook the short ribs, heat a large Dutch oven [or a large saute pan, if you would like to use a separate braising dish; I aimed to use fewer dishes] over high heat for 3 minutes. Pour in 3 tablespoons olive oil, and wait a minute or two, until the pan is very hot and almost smoking. Place the short ribs in the pan, and sear until they are nicely browned on all three meaty sides. Depending on the size of your pan, you might have to sear the meat in batches. Do not crowd the meat or get lazy or rushed at this step; it will take at least 15 minutes. [I find this takes closer to 45 minutes if you're really thorough. Be thorough!] When the ribs are nicely browned, transfer them to a plate to rest.

Turn the heat down to medium, and add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme springs, and bay leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up all the crusty bits in the pan. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables just begin to caramelize. Add the balsamic vinegar, port, and red wine. Turn the heat up to high, and reduce the liquid by half.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Arrange ribs in the pot, lieing flat, bones standing up, in one layer. [If you used a saute pan for previous steps, transfer the ribs to a braising pan at this point.] Scrape any vegetables that have fallen on the ribs back into the liquid. The stock mixture should almost cover the ribs. Tuck the parsley sprigs in and around the meat. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and a tight-fitting lid if you have one. Braise in the oven for about 3 hours.

To check the meat for doneness, remove the lid and foil, being careful of the escaping steam, and piece a short rib with a paring knife. When the meat is done, it will yield easily to a knife. Taste a piece if you are not sure. [If you would like to cook these a day ahead, this is where you can pause. The next day, you can remove the fat easily from the pot -- it will have solidified at the top -- bring these back to a simmer on the stove or in an oven, and continue.]
Let the ribs rest 10 minutes in their juices, and then transfer them to a baking sheet.

Turn the oven up to 400 degrees F.

Place the short ribs in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes to brown.

Strain the broth into a saucepan, pressing down on the vegetables with a ladle to extract all the juices. Skim the fat from the sauce (if you made these the day before, you will have already skimmed them) and, if the broth seems thin, reduce it over medium-high heat to thicken slightly. Taste for seasoning.

Heat a large saute pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Tear the Swiss chard into large pieces. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to the pan, and stir in the cooked pearl onions. Add half the Swiss chard, and cook a minute or two, stirring the greens in the oil to help them wilt. Add a splash of water and the second half of the greens. Season with a heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of ground black pepper. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring frequently, until the greens are tender.

Place the swiss chard on a large warm platter, and arrange the short ribs on top. Spoon lots of braising juices over the ribs. Serve the potato puree and horseradish cream (recipes below) on the side.

Horseradish Cream
3/4 cup créme fraîche
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the créme fraîche and horseradish in a small bowl. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Taste for balance and seasoning.

Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed (I used Yukon Golds)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick, 4 ounces), melted
1 cup half-and-half , warmed
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
Ground black pepper
Chives for garnish (optional)

1. Place potatoes in large saucepan and cover with 1 inch water. Bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender (a paring knife can be slipped into and out of center of potatoes with very little resistance), 20 to 30 minutes. Drain.

2. Set food mill or ricer over now empty but still warm saucepan. Spear potato with dinner fork, then peel back skin with paring knife. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Working in batches, cut peeled potatoes into rough chunks and drop into hopper of food mill or ricer. Process or rice potatoes into saucepan.

3. Stir in butter with wooden spoon until incorporated; gently whisk in half-and-half, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Jan 9, 2011

"The Other Woman"

It's official, I have lost my husband to another woman...or should I say helicopter.

Now that we are back from a fabulous, much needed, vacation (more photos and stories to come soon) flight school is back to full swing. Yes, he started Hawks right before we left on Dec. 16 but that was just the "intro" stuff. This last week he started the actual stuff and was lucky enough to have his first test moved to back a few days, which gave him a few more nights to cram. As for what he is studying, everything Blackhawk related, most importantly 5's and 9's.

The instructor told them right before the break that this test, and the other tests he will have, which is a week to two weeks worth of flight school materials, is the equivalent to three semesters worth of college. ONE SEMESTER WORTH OF COLLEGE!

Because of this fact, the fact that flight line is from sunup to sundown, and the fact that he has to fly some Saturday's and maybe even some Sunday's I have lost him for good so his "dream girl."

I know it's not funny to joke like that but if you were here with me you would be thinking the same thing, it's just part of being a flight school wife. The studying is worse than primary was and I am saddened by the fact we will lose some weekends too. Oh well, at least I have the puppies to keep me entertained and I can start counting down to April when he graduates.  

I can feel people giving me a look.

Yes, I am lucky because I am finally able to be in the same room as my husband unlike the months we spent apart not seeing each other, other than Skype. But what you all might not understand is other than a quick (15-30 min.) dinner that's all the time I get with him to talk about the day, and even then it's all about tests and what to study next. I also feel like I am a burden to him because while he is trying to focus, especially on the weekends, I am wanting a little attention and wanting to get out of the house.

Once again, I am lucky I get to be here with him and watch while he follows his dreams, but like I said earlier — I am now "the other woman" until April.

Jan 7, 2011


Yesterday I took Annie to the vet to get spayed, can't believe she's already 7 months old. When I got back Todd was waiting in his normal spot by the door waiting for us to get home. However, no Annie was to be found. The rest of the day Todd waited by the door for her to show up.

This morning, Todd had to go to the vet for his yearly check up and we were able to pick Annie up. When she walked into the examination room Todd jumped off the table and started licking her face.

I think this is proof that he likes being the "big" brother and loves his "little" sister.

Jan 5, 2011

Lucky or Blessed?

Finally, I have gone through and edited all the photos taken from our much needed Christmas vacation. To start with here are some road warrior stories.

I don't know if my husband and I just lucked out, or we were blessed with amazing traveling dogs. During the 26 hour drive we only had one little mishap, the youngest but biggest, Annie, got sick. However, there were no other accidents and the dogs slept the majority of the time.

As for the driving, we stopped to check out New Orleans and decided we don't need to go back there again. We saw the Superdome, Bourbon St., and the local street market, but while these were cool and eclectic things to see the smell of the city, along with all the trash made it a one time visit.

That same night, we stopped in a small town in Texas to get some quick z's since we did 16 hours in the car that day. We were also lucky enough to see some of my husbands cousins for a late dinner.

Our trip finished up with more gas stops and finally getting to my home in the desert (the last time I was there was a year ago). The puppies were happy to be out of the car and ran around chasing lizards, birds, bunny rabbits, and other little desert creatures. As for my self and husband, we were just happy knowing we got to sleep in the next day.

Jan 3, 2011

We Have a Date!

So good, ok great, news.

My husband called me this morning on a quick break and told me he has an official flight school graduation date — APRIL 12.

I am elated and although 2011 just started, April 12 does not seem that far away.

Jan 2, 2011

Road Warriors and a New Year

Well, after a few fun-filled very busy days with my husbands side of the family it was time to get back on the road for the last 13 hours in the car. We made it back right before midnight last night and were thrilled to be back in our own bed, not so much to be back in Alabama. The puppies were thrilled to be out of the car and back in their own beds too.

As for New Years, we rang in 2011 hanging out with my in-laws...not the most thrilling New Year I have ever had. Hopefully, everyone else has better stories than I do.

Now for the real matter at hand...New Years resolutions. Yes, I know that many people never end up completing them, sometimes forget about them completely, make up ones that are to corny/traditional/funny/(insert your own word here), and others, like myself, never make them in the first place for all the reasons listed above. However, I have decided to take a closer look at these so called resolutions and how people go about setting them thanks to Alexandra Stoddard and one of her books I am reading.

To start with she suggested having your significant other write them for you and visa versa. I think that is a brilliant idea. I mean who knows you better than your best friend. My husband is taking the challenge head on and so am I. Now, YOU CAN'T BE TO HARSH when you write them for each other. The purpose of this is so that you, yourself, can make yourself a better well rounded person in this new year. Sorry, I forgot to mention that right away but that is the purpose of it. It is also set to help you make realistic goals both personally, spiritually, and emotionally.

Here are a few examples to show you what I am talking about (I am taking them from Stoddard's book):

Her resolutions for him:

  1. Keep up with personal correspondence, as Abraham Lincoln so wisely recommended
  2. Balance your checkbook-every check
  3. Drink more water
  4. Plan some great adventures and follow through with them
  5. Go to bed earlier, get up earlier
  6. Learn how to let go of past attachments
  7. Recognize that self-improvement us an ongoing process that goes on every day of your life
His resolutions for her:
  1. Take more time for yourself, at least 20 min. a day, to do whatever is pleasant for you at the moment
  2. Go through all your clothes, shoes, and equipment and eliminate as much as you can: Others will benefit when you give things to family and donate to a thrift shop
  3. Develop an exercise plan for the seasons of the year, giving yourself sufficient exercise that is healthy, appropriate, and enjoyable
  4. Take better care of yourself day to day: Avoid the nurse syndrome where you only take care of others; now focus this skill on yourself
  5. Deal more effectively with the daily influx of mail and information in order to handle the flow: Keep up!
  6. Continue to always have flowers no matter what the circumstances, because I believe that is what makes you the happiest
  7. Shoulders back: Stand up straight
Those are just a few examples that they gave but I wanted you all to see that there are more to resolutions then the simple and traditional, "I want to lose 10 pounds this year."

We are ready to work on all three components of our lives. We are also going to carry our resolutions we wrote for each other so we have a constant reminder of what we are working on, as well as what the other person is working on. It's always better when you have a support system to push and support you.

We are also going to continue the "Healthy Lifestyle" goals we set for ourselves a while back and my husband's "traditional" resolution is to pass flight school. I guess I will let that slide.

To everyone Happy 2011! I hope it bring great happiness and joy to all. 

p.s. I promise to post some holiday pictures, and accompany them by stories, within the next couple of days.