Thursday, May 26, 2011

We're Off and Away!

And we're leaving behind life as we know it....our computers, our phones, and Sunny.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

QT with the F-A-M

Before I officially start this blog post (Just in case you don't know, QT=Quality Time), I'll give you the quick update.  We have left Ft. Benning/Columbus.  We are officially vagabonds.  We are currently in Dowling Park, FL, spending some QT with our families.  

Tony and Mom went to a scholarship banquet with Jordan tonight, so Jamie and I stayed with the rest of the fam to make dinner and "babysit."  

My family has a beautiful garden.  I can't wait to be in one place long enough to plant a garden...but for now I just have to visit my family so that I can eat their delicious and fresh food.  They are currently on a gluten-free our challenge was to come up with something yummy, but gluten-free (It wasn't very difficult!).  We decided on this Southwestern Chicken Salad.

Step 1:  Pick the lettuce from the garden.  (This is a mixture of Romaine, Arugula & Bibb Lettuce.) 

Step 2: Grill Chicken.  Tyler did this for us and it was delicious! 

Step 3:  South-westernize the salad.  Just a few nights ago, Jamie and I were invited to a wonderful dinner with our friends Patty & Dino.  Patty served this dip with tortilla chips and it was so fresh and yummy and I couldn't stop eating it.  I've been trying to find a place for it in my life ever since... 

It's just canned black beans, a bell pepper, red onion, fresh corn (cut from the cob), fresh lemon juice (the recipe called for vinegar but I used this as a substitute), salt, pepper & ground red pepper. 

As you can see, I didn't think to take the picture before serving...
Step 4:  Serve all of the above with avocado, crushed tortilla chips & Ranch dressing (We made the dressing with soy milk and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it tasted just like "normal" Ranch.)  

I can't share a picture of the delicious dinner with you, because we scarfed down our salads before the thought even crossed my mind.  However, I did manage to capture these...

As Abby and I were washing the dinner dishes, we looked outside only to see the rest of the fam doing this...

We had to join them.
*These were really old fireworks so the boys claim that they were launching them in one direction and they were firing in another...

Who says that life in DP is boring???

And that concludes our evening.  They are crazy.  We are crazy.  Life is good.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Local Favorites

I could blog all night about our favorite places to eat in Columbus.  When I first moved up, it seemed that we were constantly disappointed with the service at the popular chain restaurants.  (It was probably just a matter of timing, as that was also the time that thousands of soldiers returned home.)  Anyway, it prompted us to venture out and ask the locals about their favorite places.  I'm so glad that we did.  We had so much yummy food...and way more fun...

Even when we went to places where they bar their doors and windows at night...

And even when we had to drive all the way home (because they offer food--not tables and chairs) with Brunswick Stew seeping out of the Styrofoam containers and burning my legs. 

Chester's BBQ, and yes, it was totally worth it.  If you're in the area, you have to try it.  And be sure to order the Brunswick Stew.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Reading List: Europe

My aunt (who spent a number of years in Europe) recommended that I study Rick Steves' website and materials before traveling.  His site has a lot of information without being overwhelming.  We are traveling to Paris, Garmisch-Partenkirchen & Amsterdam.  Steves' site includes links for the different countries/cities, with tips and highlights for each one.  Each link also has another link with recommended books to read, and films to watch, before visiting.  I didn't feel that his suggestions were extremely up-to-date, but it definitely gave me a springboard to work with.   

Wide-range and odd selection?  I've read some of these books before, some of them are new, and some I've known that I probably should read but have just been waiting for that extra motivation.  If you care to know my favorites after the trip, I'll be glad to share. :)  

P.S.  We just finished watching The Tourist--so good!  The setting was magical and the costumes couldn't have been better.  Now we have to go to Venice (but we already knew that...)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Friday night Jamie and I shared 20 buffalo wings and 10 buffalo shrimp.  I was surprised that this even sounded good on Saturday--but it did.  My brother emailed me the recipe, and after he sent it he asked me at least every other day if I had tried it yet.  This went on for 2 weeks.  I didn't want to make it and then be tempted to eat all of when we were invited to a cookout on Saturday, I decided to go for it.  It was really easy to prepare and delicious.  Really delicious.    
P.S.  I have made at least 2 other buffalo dip recipes in the past and this is the one that I will be making again.

What you'll need:

1# chicken tenders
1 Cup Ranch Dressing (I didn't quite have 1 cup so I added in a little Blue Cheese Dressing.)
1 Cup Texas Pete Hot Sauce 
1 Bottle Dark Beer
1 Block Cream Cheese
8 oz. shredded Mozzarella Cheese (I used a combination of Mozzarella, Fontina &'s what I had in the fridge/freezer and I didn't want to buy more before the move.)
Salt, pepper, dill weed and garlic powder (few pinches each)

Preheat oven to 350*.  Place chicken tenders in a pyrex dish and season as desired (with the salt, pepper & garlic powder).

No, I'm not trying to be like Pioneer Woman

After seasoning, cover in dark beer.  Bake in oven for approximately 20 minutes. Remove dish and take chicken out to cool.

She is my favorite...but mainly I'm just wanting to practice with my new camera :).

Pour out almost all of the beer and place the cream cheese back in the oven to soften. In a small bowl mix together ranch dressing, hot sauce and the dill weed. Shred the cooled chicken into the consistency of cat food.

Cat Food??  The description did keep me from wanting to eat all the chicken before the recipe was complete. 

Remove the cream cheese from the oven and combine the mixture from the small bowl and ¾ of the cheese.  Once blended, begin adding the chicken.  Finish off the top with the remaining cheese and bake in the oven at 350* or approximately 30 minutes.

And these pictures are reminding me that I should probably read the camera setting descriptions tomorrow...

Serve hot with Tostitos or your favorite chips.

The good news is that it was really yummy.  The bad news is that only 4 of us were eating. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Have you read this?

If not, read it.  It's excellent.  I couldn't put it down.  And I still think about it.  Plus, they're currently casting roles for the movie (to be released next spring), and you'll definitely want to read it before the movie comes out. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Packing Up

Our time in Columbus is coming to an end.  My internship is done and I've graduated!!!  My last official day at the middle school was April 22.  Since then I've spent most of my time planning our trip to Europe.  I'm very, very excited.  I'm just kicking myself that I haven't blogged more throughout the planning process.  I've already learned so much about the places we are going and just about traveling in general.  I thought about blogging.  I even went to the computer to blog.  But then I'd start reading all of the blogs that I'm following, and before I knew it my allotted blogging time was gone.  Whoops.  One of my favorite blogs is Eat, Live, Run.  On Mother's Day she listed ten things that her mom taught her.  Number four just added to my excitement.  I can't wait to see and experience new things.   

I've been wanting an SLR camera for a lllllooooonnnngggg time, and our upcoming trip to Europe made it a must.  One of my good friends loves photography/cameras and she recommended that we get Cannon Rebel (I don't know much about photography and wanted something fool-proof).  It arrived last night, just in time for the Sledgehammer Motorcycle Rodeo today (We're living quite the life up here at Ft. Benning, huh???).  It was fun.  :)  And I'm really excited about the camera. 

The Slow Race.  (And that's my hunny on the blue bike.)

1st Round...he won!

2nd Round...he a girl. :(  (In his defense, she did win this race.)