Sunday, January 29, 2012

Raspberry Chocolate Almond Ice Cream

1 can fat free sweetened condensed milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup cocoa powder1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 shots Torani sugar free raspberry syrup (World Market gem)2 cups heavy whipping cream

Mix all ingredients with a whisk or hand mixer and throw it in the ice cream maker for 20 minutes. Freeze it for 4-6 hours. Yum!

Hartwood Winery!

Yesterday, Luke and I had one of the most fun days we've had in a while! We just happened upon a local wine festival, and it was fantastic! The winery is kind of in the middle of nowhere between Stafford and Fredericksburg, and when we first got there, it looked like little house with a small grape crop on the front yard. We started with a barrel tasting, which was new for me. It was awesome to be able to compare the flavors between barrel and bottle. We tasted a chardonnay, station white, sauvignon blanc, rose, a cabernet sauvignon, and a couple of others. This afternoon date kind of confirmed that we are old people because we were certainly the youngest people there, and we spent the afternoon with a couple about my parents' age.The owners were really lovely too; they gave us the "one-day-only" military discount on the bottles we bought. If anyone living in the area is interesting in wine, they do regular tastings (no barrel) for only $3, and their wine is great. 

We ended our day at BWW in Fredericksburg for a local radio station's "Country Idol" competition. What an experience. I've never seen so much flannel or smelled so much cigarette smoke, and I'm from a lot further south than this. It was a really good time though. We appreciated that it was like pre-screened karaoke so no bleeding ears. 

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

I love making soup when it's sub-30 outside and my throat feels like it's closing up with my nose running like a Kenyan. Don't worry; nothing got in the soup. I also really like this soup because I almost always have all of these things in my pantry/fridge.

10 cups water
6 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups egg noodles
1 large carrot, shredded
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large chicken breast, diced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp celery salt

Boil the water with chicken bouillon cubes and then add egg noodles. After the egg noodles are tender, add the chicken. Once chicken appears cooked (4-5 mins) reduce heat to low-med and add the carrots, celery, salt, and celery salt. Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Lasagna Roll Ups

Another pinterest gem! These were pretty good, but a little unconventional since I didn't have all of the ingredients in their exact amounts. I had to sub some of the spinach with frozen kale, but I thought the kale added some nice flavor! Plus, it's pretty healthy, right? Probably not with a bunch of ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella cheese.

9 lasagna noodles, cooked 
1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained (or a blend of spinach and kale? probably would be nice with just kale too)
1 15-oz container fat free ricotta cheese 
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
1 egg 
2 chicken breasts, grilled and diced
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasonings
salt and fresh pepper 
32 oz tomato sauce 
9 tbsp part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded 

Preheat oven to 350. After draining the spinach/kale, mix spinach, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg, garlic, Italian seasonings, chicken, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Next, pour 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Lay out the dry lasagna noodles on a cutting board. Spread about 1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture on each noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish.

Pour remaining sauce over the noodles and top each noodle with mozzarella cheese. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 40 minutes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Taking a break between clients...

Since Luke has started TBS, our schedule has definitely taken some hits, but it was to be expected. Luke brought home a weekly "schedule" which I ignored thanks to helpful info from seasoned Marine wives. There was a spouses orientation a few weeks ago, and I really loved getting to meet some new ladies. While Luke was TADing, I felt like we were kind of in social limbo because our friends were already in TBS classes and we were just hanging out, so it's nice to have met some wives to pass/share the time with. I feel like we have been seriously blessed to have so many other believers in Luke's platoon because not only are their wives encouraging to me/each other, but the guys are really making TBS a positive experience for each other. I'm also sad to see some of our friends head separate ways now that they are graduating from TBS and  heading to MOS school and beyond, but such is life. I've been getting caught up in all the excitement of taking that next step, so I'm definitely looking forward to when we're in their shoes but still trying to enjoy the time we have here too.

TBS has also made me feel really thankful for my internship and my classes because I can't imagine being at home wondering when I'm going to hear from him or when he's going to come home. I've been really busy so far this semester, and I couldn't be happier. I've been co-leading a group in an elementary school, and I really look forward to it all week. The kids are so great, and it's nice to be able to see the world through kids' eyes sometimes. I started my school counseling classes on top of my program at GW, and I am learning so much. While I love learning and studying, I am really getting antsy to actually have a job and be able to put all of this stuff I'm learning into practice (and actually get paid? that'd be a nice bonus...). I am really looking forward to graduation, too. I'm starting to turn into a perpetual student, so it'll be nice to be done with my work at GW.

Pretty much everyone who knows me knows that I am an extreme planner. I like to have a plan at all times because I like having something to work towards. As many of you know, this is not incredibly consistent with military life, so this has been a real struggle and faith test for me. I feel like this semester is the time I should be job searching and lining up something for after graduation, but it just isn't feasible to search and apply for jobs in California, North Carolina, Hawaii, and dare I say, Okinawa. I spent the better part of one week on USAJobs and all of the MCCS websites looking for jobs on/around bases with not a ton of luck. I found several jobs that I will be perfectly qualified for in 4 months, but chances are they won't be available when we actually move. That's another thing: I have no idea when we'll actually move. So in the meantime, I've decided to stop driving myself crazy by trying to plan for the unplanable. It's easy to believe in God's plan when you feel like you have a secure plan and path to follow, so this has been a struggle for me to trust that this is something I just don't know right now and that it's okay to not know. Until then, I will continue to compulsively color-code my daily planner since the day-to-day plan is what I'm working with right now.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made a batch of these on Friday to share with another couple, and they were gone like a day later. I absolutely love oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and this recipe is delicious. I'm guessing it's related to the 2 sticks of butter. This is also a good one to make in the Kitchenaid because the ingredients are to be incorporated gradually. Also, a lot of cookie recipes say they make 3 dozen when they really make 1 dozen cookies for normal people who like more than just one bite in a cookie. This recipe really does make 3 dozen.

2 sticks of butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Cream together the butter and both sugars. Add one egg at a time followed by the vanilla. Add remaining ingredients, incorporating one ingredient at a time. Bake at 325 for about 15-17 minutes.

Sweet Corn Tomalito

If you've ever eaten at Chevy's you know the heavenly delight that lies in tomalito. It's the sweet, delicious, melt-in-your-mouth "corn stuff." I always make this recipe when we have fajitas, and we never have leftovers! The original recipe says it serves 8, but let's be honest, they're referring to eight 1 year-olds (don't feed this to 1 year-olds). I always double the recipe, and it doubles nicely. You also have to double to cook time.

This is the doubled recipe. I don't think it's worth making in any lesser proportions.

8 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup masa harina (the bag might say masa flour depending on where you buy it)
2/3 cup white sugar
1 cup water
4 cups frozen, whole-kernal corn, thawed
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 teaspoons milk

Mix the butter, masa flour, and sugar until it's light and fluffy. In a food processor/blender/food chopper (I use one of those little Cuisinart choppers with a pulse function), blend one cup of the corn with the water and cornmeal until it's smooth. Stir this into the masa mixture. Mix in the remaining corn and ingredients until the batter is smooth. Pour into an 8x8 glass baking dish - I always use a circular dish like a pie dish because it fits nicely on the pot. Cover your baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.

Place the baking dish over a large pot of boiling water so that the pot is completely covered. Steam cook the tomalito for about 2 hours. You'll have to add more water about halfway through the cook time. Stir the tomalito before serving.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New year!

I haven't blogged in over a month, and it seemed like that month flew by. We have been so busy since Thanksgiving, but it's been a "good busy." I finished up my first semester of internship, which seemed to go by a lot quicker than I expected. I have learned so much since I started in August, and I still feel like I have so much more to learn than I could ever imagine. I'm really enjoying my clinical work, and I have found everything I've learned from each of my clients to be really enlightening and rewarding. I decided in October that I wanted to also work on coursework that would lead me towards being a school counselor. I thought that I would only be seeing adults in my field work, which I previously thought would be my population of focus. However, I unexpectedly got the opportunity to co-lead a group on resiliency skills for elementary aged kids, as well as seeing some young kids in our counseling center, and I loved it so much that I figured, what the heck? What's another 20K in student loans anyway.... yeah. I am starting some courses for my M.Ed this semester, and I am THRILLED! I got the opportunity to lead a group in an elementary school this past week, and I was on cloud 9 all day afterward. I haven't been this excited about the prospect of a career in a long time. I feel like this is really what I was meant to be doing.

Halfway through December, Luke started TBS. He spent 3 days there before Christmas leave basically doing a lot of admin things with checking in and filling out paperwork. This past week, Luke has been coming home anywhere from 7:00 to 9:30, so that's been a big change. We are so incredibly thankful for the 6 months that we had during his TAD to settle in with some sense of normalcy; I tried so hard not to let myself get spoiled by our normal lives, but of course it happened anyway. It was such a blessing to have my husband home for dinner by 6:00 on most nights, and the happiness it brought me will definitely be something I'll fall back on during his inevitable absence during TBS. After all, the powerpoint brief says, "Treat TBS like a deployment."

We were so fortunate to be able to have 11 days of leave during the holidays, and we spent most of it in Georgia. It was so nice to be able to relax at my parents' house and basically do nothing but sleep late, play board games (Hand & Foot, Settlers of America, Dominoes, etc!!), eat delicious food, and laugh. We also got to spend some quality time with my sister and nephew, and that is always a cherished blessing. We were also really happy to be able to spend some time with Luke's brother Micah after his graduation from USMC boot camp! We're so proud of him! He graduated second, and we've been bragging about him : ) His next stop will be SOI on the west coast. Luke is already making plans for when they are stationed together.

I suppose that's about it for us. We're getting settled back in after Christmas, making some new friends through TBS, and getting back into study-mode. I'm counting down the days until my graduation from GW and looking forward to all the exciting things coming up in 2012 for us!