Sunday, October 31, 2010

Flavor of the Week {Thanksgiving recipes}

Last year was my 1st time hosting Thanksgiving all on my own and I think it was an overall success.  I can't wait to have a house full of people again this year!  Because my resources are limited this year, I'm trying to get a jump start on my planning so I thought I would share a couple of the recipes I made last year that will be making an appearance again this year =)

***Side note
I just discovered I am missing about 2 months worth of photos from last year (including the ones from Thanksgiving) and I am REALLY not happy about it!  They are not on my computer or my external hard drive!!! I'm so angry!  I guess it's time I start using 2 systems to back up my photos instead of just 1!  So you only get one photo for all these recipes because it's the only one I have (thanks to facebook!)***

I have to confess, I'm not a huge fan of turkey.  Every time I've ever had it, it has been dry and bland...YUCK!  Every time that is until last year when I made this Emeril recipe.  It was the most tender, juicy, delicious turkey I have ever eaten in my life and I will never make a turkey another way!  EVER! (ok, that's a lie, I really want to try Alton Brown's brine version, but for now, this is the best turkey recipe I've ever had)  It is a bit time consuming, but I promise you, it is every bit worth it!!!

For the brine, you will need a clean, unused 5 gallon bucket (or a large cooler) and

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 (10 to 12-pound) turkey
Dissolve the salt and sugar in  2 gallons of cold water.  Add the oranges, lemons, thyme, and rosemary. (Note: if you have a larger turkey and need more brine than this, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar for every gallon of water.  You want to be able to submerge the entire turkey in the solution)
Remove everything from the cavity of the turkey. Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water. Soak the turkey in the brine, covered and refrigerated, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

For cooking the turkey

  • 1 large orange, cut into 1/8ths
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/8ths
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1/2 bunch sage
  • 3 or 4 sprigs parsley
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken or turkey stock, for basting

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels both inside and out. Place turkey, breast side up, in a large, heavy roasting pan. Rub breast side with orange segments and rub on all sides with the butter, stuffing some underneath the skin. Season lightly inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the turkey with the onion, remaining orange, celery, carrot, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley. Loosely tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string. Roast the turkey, uncovered, breast side down for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven, turn, and baste with 1/2 cup chicken or turkey stock. Continue roasting with the breast side up until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the largest section of thigh (avoiding the bone), about 2 3/4 to 3 hours total cooking time. Baste the turkey once every hour with 1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken or turkey stock.
Remove from the oven and place on a platter. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.
And the gravy that goes with it...YUM!  It was my 1st time making gravy from scratch and I just wanted to drink it =)

For the gravy

  • 4 cups turkey broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Pour the reserved turkey pan juices into a glass-measuring cup and skim off the fat.  Place the roasting pan on 2 stove top burners over medium heat add the pan juice and 1 cup turkey broth and the white wine to the pan, and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining 3 cup of broth and bring to a simmer, then transfer to a measuring cup. In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, to make a light roux. Add the hot stock, whisking constantly, then simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.

What's on your MUST HAVE list for Thanksgiving?!?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Flavor of the Week {Sesame Noodles}

Lorrie over at Journal of Our Blessed Life posted this a few days ago and I've been thinking about it ever since!  I started with The Pioneer Woman's recipe for sesame noodles and went off on my own a little bit, so here's my version =)

Sesame Noodles

  • 12 ounces, Angel Hair Pasta, Cooked And Drained
  • ¼ cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Pure Sesame Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted Sesame Seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon Sweet Chili Sauce 
  • 5 whole Green Onions, Sliced Thin
Combine everything except the noodles in a small bowl.  Pour mixture over cooked noodles and mix together.  I added some steamed snap peas and topped it with a piece of grilled chicken that I smothered in La Choy Teriyaki sauce (it's my favorite)!

This was so easy to make and I would definitely serve it to guests for dinner.  The original recipe called for 3 TBSP of sesame oil which is wayyyyyy too much for my tastes, so I added the toasted sesame seeds to replace some of the sesame flavor and I think it turned out great!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

99 things...

Stole this from The Ramblings of a Marine Wife =)

1. Started your own blog - that one is pretty obvious
2. Slept under the stars – many many times
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disney World
8. Climbed a mountain – does hiking in the smokey’s count?
9. Held a praying mantis – just the other day
10. Sang a solo – Sheryl Crow “Strong Enough” in 8th grade choir   11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris – with Jason over R&R in 08
13. Watched a lightning storm - I love storms!
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch - photography
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning – grandparent 40th wedding anniversary, the whole family got it from eating beef stroganoff!
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables – yum!
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France – I was unimpressed
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight -  I have siblings, this is a given!
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill - who hasn't?
24. Built a snow fort – good memories
25. Held a lamb – at the Cincinnati zoo
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset -  I’d really like to do both in one day
31. Hit a home run – once in like 3rd or 4th grade and it was in the park…I used to be a fast runner!

32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person – only from the US side
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors - I visited the country, that counts to me
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language – I’m working on this one right now!
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing – I miss it!
40. Visited the Alps
41. Sung karaoke – “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” Pat Benatar!
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight – with my friends on our Senior trip
46. Been transported in an ambulance 
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. I have no idea where 49 went
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris – same R&R trip in 08
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling – Bahamas with one of my bff’s
52. Kissed in the rain – all the time!
53. Played in the mud – more good memeories!
54. Gone to a drive-in theater – all the time in the summer
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China – maybe this Christmas…maybe!
57. Started a business -
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies – thin mints…mmmmm
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason – my husband is a good man
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma – no way Jose!  I don’t do needles!
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check - oops
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial – great trip with one of my BFF’s and my sister =)
71. Eaten Caviar – yuck!
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square – I love to visit NYC
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle – once was enough
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person – from an airplane
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car – still paying on it and it’s sitting at my mom’s house not being used =(  I miss my car!
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper – when I picked out my wedding dress and it made the front page!
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve – oh college days
86. Visited the White House – somehow we missed this on our trip to DC
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox -  my mom made me play with the neighbor so I would get it before I started kindergarten!
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous – most notably Gordy Howe and Alexander Ovechkin
92. Joined a book club
93. Got a tattoo
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone – this one is silly
99. Been stung by a bee – ouch!

45/99 (actually 98)…just over half!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I never thought I'd say this but...

I miss Fort Leonard Wood!!!

Really i just miss our friends, but I miss the over all experience we had at FLW too.  I wish I would have appreciated it more while we were there.  Everyone in Jason's class (which was his unit while he was there) was the same rank and thus around the same age for the most part.  I understand now that it will never be like that again (except for maybe ILE, if we go that route) We had a huge pool of people with which to make friends and we took full advantage of  it.  We definitely made some of the life long friendships military spouses always talk about.  Here, well here is different.  This base is not like most, there aren't very many people here and due to this mission here, it's not a place where many soldiers come early in their carrer (I could probably have all the E1-E3 and O1-O2's on this base over to my house comfortably, I don't know many others bases where that would be the case).  Most of the soldier here have at least 10 years in the military, if not closer to 15 and more. When almost everyone you meet is at least 10 years older than you (and 90% have children), it makes building close relationships a little more difficult (not impossible).  We have definitely met some great people here, but we haven't found
our Mike & Kristi
 our Matt & Ashley (and those kiddos, we love those kids!)
 our James and Rachel
 or Dave and Rachel

I haven't found these girls (yes, we were doing rounds of shots at 4 in the afternoon, so what!)
 or these girls


Friday, October 22, 2010

don't know how these slipped through the cracks...

actually, I do, I moved to another country 2 days after I shot these...I think that's a pretty good excuse!  This was my 1st time ever working with a couple and I obviously have a lot to learn, but hey, I think they got some pretty good engagement photos for free!  I also have a lot to learn about editing, but I'll get it eventually =)  Meet my brother Brad and my future sister-in-law Jamie =)

 their idea that I did not pull off very well...we'll try again next summer when I go home!

 a real professional would have turned that ring so that you can see it =(

 so cheesy, but so fun!

 their engagement date since they don't have a wedding date yet...I was pretty proud of this idea and it came out just like I had envisioned!

 they thought this was so weird and awkward while they were doing it, but they both love the way it turned out (proof to TRUST your photographer!)
 this one didn't turn out like I had know when you were kids, you would take turns putting your hands on a bat until someone got to the top, and they got to bat 1st...that was the idea...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

shopping in Japan...

I'm going to make a generalization here.  Almost every single person in this country is TINY!  They make my size 4 look obese!  I had pretty much assumed that I was never going to be able to shop here...until today!  My neighbor took me to a local store called "g.u." which I have been told is pretty much like an Old Navy, and it is.  I was hoping to find a few sweaters but I was able to find a pair of jeans and a skirt also!  Their sizes are all in centimeters so I had no idea if I wore a size 60 or 80 so I got out my trusty iPhone and tried to google it but wasn't finding anything helpful so I just multiplied my regular jeans size (in inches, not the 2,4,6, etc. number) times 2.54 and got a rough estimate and went from there.  It took a couple tries but I found a pair that fit around the waist AND are long enough that I don't look like I'm waiting for the flood (which was my real concern) and the best part, they were only 990 yen which with the crappy exchange rate is only about $12.25!  SCORE!
 I also got this top and this skirt, each for about $10 USD...and the tights...they're my favorite part!
and they were only 3/$10!

I also got a sweater, but I didn't take a photo of that, the one thing I went there looking for!  The sizes all crack me up.  I went up 2 sizes just by moving to another country.  If you have qualms about your weight/size, I do not recommend shopping for clothes in this country.  I pretty much wear the largest size they sell in everything here! Large tops and large to extra large bottoms and I still haven't found shoes in my size yet, but I'm not giving up hope!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

dumb dog!

Yesterday he thought it would be fun to go THROUGH the screen door instead of waiting for Jason to open it...
 and today he decided that wasn't enough, that he needed to knock it completely off it's track...gotta love him!

and just now, as I was looking at said broken door, I saw this on our back patio...I'm pretty sure it's a spider...with 5 legs?!?!  whatever it is, I now have the creepy-crawlies!  YUCK!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

2 posts/1 day?!?!

What's hiding in your bento lunch box?

 ME?  I use mine to store my make up =)

Remember how they served our lunch at the Japanese cooking class I took?  No?  It looked like this:
The Japanese use these cute stack-able boxes to serve their lunch. 

I purchased one at the local vintage shop ran by the spouse association here (for $9!) and someone gave me the great idea to store my make-up in it since our bathrooms have virtually NO storage here!  I'm in love with this cute way to store my makeup now!


So when we left FLW we originally had orders to Okinawa where the yearly average temperature is 72 degrees.  I decided to be proactive and toss my heavy sweaters and only held on to a handful of thin sweaters to get me through the "chilly" days in Oki (most of the ones I had were on the old side or would be out of style by the time we moved back to colder temps).  Well, as you know, things changed (silly me, I should have known better) and here we are living an hour outside of Tokyo where they have an average of 4 months with lows in the 30's...yeah, I'm going to need those sweaters now!  Right now, the dollar to yen rate is so awful, that I'd rather not shop on the economy, so it looks like I'll be shopping for some new sweaters online.  Any suggestions?!?!?!

PS, this does not apply to me, but if your spouse is deployed, you may want to take advantage of this offer!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

words to chew on...

Yesterday at chapel, our Chaplain said something that I cannot stop thinking about....

"If your relationship with God were a marriage, what kind of spouse would you be?"

I think it's time he and I enter couples counseling!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

new favorite hang out!

Last night we were invited out with some of Jason's co-workers and I DID NOT WANT TO GO!  I was crabby and tired and just wanted to lay around in my sweatpants all night...but I am SO GLAD I didn't!  Jason is one of only 4 people in his office that are in the Army.  Everyone else is a civilian.  Some are Japanese locals and some are American contractors.  It's definitely a change from CCC, but not necessarily a bad thing.  Not sure why that's relevant, but it's just kind of a different atmosphere.  Anyways, all I knew was we were going to get yakitori grilled chicken on a stick and that the owner of the place resembled a greaser.  Grilled chicken & James Dean style, that had my mood looking up a bit =)

So here's the place
 and this is the menu they hand know it's going to be a fun place when they tell you to drink like a whale!

as for the food, we started out simple with grilled meatballs that were ridiculously yummy! MY FAVORITE!

Then we had some simple grilled chicken (on the right) and grilled chicken and garlic (on the left) with a delicious dipping sauce that I think they called miso but it tasted nothing like the soup we all know...I'll have to get clarification!

and a grilled potato with a LOT of butter...YUM!!!!

grilled rice ball...yum!

 and this is where my night came to a screeching halt!  Everything I had eaten to this point was so ridiculously good that they convinced me to try a piece of chicken liver.  Everyone there said how good it was, better than anywhere else and I (being the idiot I am) thought "it's chicken, how bad can it be"...well, it was AWFUL!  Like I almost threw up on the table.  I had to chug my coke to get it to go down and the only thing that kept me from spitting it out/throwing it up was the fact that I didn't want to be know as "the girl who threw up chicken liver" for the next 3 years


Other than the chicken liver incident, we had a great time eating great food with great people!  We will definitely be going back!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 questions...

I saw these one someone else's blog (one I don't follow and can't remember the name of, sorry!) and totally snatched the idea!  I had Jason answer some questions about's how he did!

1. She’s sitting in front of the TV, what is on the screen?
Something gay. Food network or hgtv
 That's true, well except the gay part.  Until we moved here, I watched Food Network 90% of the time

2. You’re out to eat, what kind of dressing does she get on her salad?
 That's also true, but only honey french, I don't care for the orange french...and lately I've been on a vinaigrette kick, especially Asian sesame ginger...yummmm!

3. What’s one food she doesn’t like?
While this is true, I was thinking more along the lines of mushrooms!
4. You go out to eat and have a drink, what does she order?
That's a no brainer...did any of you NOT know that!??!
5. What shirt size does she have?
I wear anything from an XS to M so, Small works
6. What shoe size does she have?
I'm really surprised he got this one wrong as much as I've been complaining about not being able to buy shoes in this country!  Their shoes are sized XS, S, M, L and their L is about the size of a US 8...and I wear and 8.5 or not cool!  Why can't they make an XL and I'd be good to go!  (If any of you have ever seen a store here that sells size XL, LET ME KNOW!!!)

7. What’s her favorite type of sandwich?
(not my photo, but such a neat idea!)
I'm not a sandwich eater, but if I do eat one, it's probably tuna salad or chicken salad

8. What would she eat everyday if she could?
I do eat lettuce just about every the form of a salad!

9. What is her favorite cereal?
Red berries
He's pretty good at this game!
10. What would she never wear?
Red and green together. 
Ugh!  I hate when people look like a walking Christmas decoration!
Cincinnati Cyclones
Suck stuff out of her teeth
I won't bother with an image of this one, but I know this drives him crazy.  I have a spot in my teeth where I ALWAYS get food stuck and I'm always trying to get it out...drives him nuts! 
Yes, mostly German 
 It's the only kind of cake I like!

correct again! 
I can spend a lot of time on the computer, but I'd rather be taking pictures!
Cooking chicken/turkey in place of other meats
I have no idea how, but I didn't have any photos to show for this, but luckily I have a pot of chili on right now, so I was able to snap a shot on my iPhone for you =)
 BLAH!  I hate coffee!!!

17/18 correct, not too shabby =)  Next will be my turn!