Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cowboy Chili

My parents have been raving about a dish that my sister-in-law made for them once called “Cowboy Chili.” Luckily, my mom got and e-mailed me the recipe. I made it one night for dinner a couple weeks ago, and both Husband and I loved it. I made another batch for a church potluck this weekend. If the leftovers (or lack thereof) are any indication, then I think it was a hit. Below is my modified variation of the recipe. The great thing about it is that you can add whatever else you like or have on hand. The secret is the baked beans because their sweet sauce adds a nice flavor to the dish.

Cowboy Chili

1 lb ground sausage (I used Jimmy Dean original) 1 lb ground turkey (or ground beef) 1 medium onion, diced 1 large green pepper, diced 2 cans baked beans (I used Bush’s original beans. One can was 28oz and the other was 16oz) 1 can (15 oz) red kidney beans 5 or 6 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled

Brown the ground meat on the stove, and drain. Saute the green pepper and onion in a separate pan. Drain and rinse the kidney beans in a strainer. Add the meat, green peppers, onions, drained kidney beans, crumbled bacon, and the baked beans to a large pot on the stove on medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until warm enough to your liking. Serve and enjoy! A couple of notes:

- If I make this just for Husband and me, I use only 1 lb ground sausage. I threw in the ground turkey this time because I wanted to make a larger batch for the potluck. Also, if it’s just for us, I use the smaller cans of the baked beans. - The original recipe called for sliced kielbasa, which would be tasty as well. - You can throw in any other type of beans you like – pinto, black, or northern beans would probably taste just as good.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

As the World Turns

I found myself with an unusual item on my to-do list last Friday. Underneath the list of normal chores (laundry, grocery shopping), I wrote “As the World Turns.” I had talked to my grandma the day before, and she lamented how her soap (or her “story,” as she calls it) was having its final episode on Friday and she wouldn’t be able to watch it. She said, “I’ve been watching this show for over 50 years and I won’t get to see how it ends!” She already had an event planned with family on Friday, and she thought it would be silly to cancel because of a TV show. So I added it to my to-do list, and I watched it for her. Well, truthfully, I was working at home that afternoon, so I got to see only bits and pieces of it. I had never seen the show before, so I had no idea what the characters’ names were, or what was going on. But I tried my best to memorize what was happening. I finally got the chance to talk to my grandma today. I’m sure if anyone overheard our conversation, they would have laughed. I’d try to tell her something that happened – something like, “there was this girl that got engaged” – and she’d ask a question that I could not answer. “Was it Katie?” she asked. “I have no idea,” I’d reply. Our conversation continued like that. I tried to at least describe the characters – “you know, the dark-haired girl” – and that helped a bit. Finally, I think I’ve managed to convince her to go to my aunt’s house (who lives near her) and watch the full episode on I hate that she’s invested so much time in the show never to see the ending. (And my poor recap definitely doesn’t count.) And for proof that the world – and TV – still turns, I already gave her a recap of another show she likes: Dancing with the Stars. Thankfully, I already know all the characters on that show.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pocket Change

When we first moved into our house, my parents gave us a large glass jar to keep spare change. Over the course of our two and a half years in this house, we've accumulated quite the stash of change. We finally decided to cash it in this weekend, but we made it into a game. We'd each guess how much total money was in the jar, and the person who was the closest would get to choose the restaurant where we would spend (part of) the money for lunch.
The piles of coins included one Sacagawea dollar coin, one fifty-cent piece, and a dime that was so dark it looked like a penny. I guessed it would be $26, while Husband’s guess was $32. But, happily, we were both way off. The final tally was around $60. Husband won because he was the closest. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at the place of his choosing: Quiznos. We hadn’t been there in a while, and I had forgotten how tasty their sandwiches are.
Best of all, we have enough to treat ourselves to at least a couple more weekends of lunches, all courtesy of the leftover change from our pockets.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Vacation on My Mind

Recently Husband has gotten a new schedule at work, and I’m loving it. He was working some pretty insane hours before, but now he’s home at a more decent time. I’m convinced that dinner tastes better when you can eat it before you’re just 30 minutes away from bedtime. However, when Husband told me about his new schedule, he also mentioned one word that made me giddy: vacation. We didn’t think that he’d be able to get the time off of work to go on a vacation. Now it looks like we might be able to sneak away for a few days this fall. And before the word “vacation” barely escaped his lips, I had already run to the computer, researching vacation spots and checking airline ticket prices. (Side note: Have you ever checked out Trip Advisor? I recently re-discovered their website, and I’m addicted to reading all the reviews that vacationers have posted.) The first night I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep. I’ve had a few days to get used to the idea now, but I still can’t help but smile every time I think about it. We’re still working out the details, and we haven’t booked anything yet. But we might soon, as my philosophy is, “Let’s make our plans before the military changes its mind!”

Monday, September 13, 2010

Weekend Date Night

If there was any doubt that Husband and I are fast approaching the “old married couple” category, I think that our “date night” on Saturday night confirmed it. We wanted to do something, but we weren’t sure what to do. Husband asked if I wanted to go out for ice cream, but I declined, saying that I didn’t feel like it. (There must have been something wrong with me.) But then I offhandedly suggested, “Want to go out and buy some candy?” (Ok, I was back to normal after all.) He agreed, saying that it was a great idea. So we did. We went to Wal-Mart and browsed around the candy aisle, settling on a bag of pretzel M&Ms (for me) and a bag of Reese’s Pieces (for Husband). We looked around the DVD section and then leafed through some magazines. We bought our candy and left. As we strolled to the car, we agreed that it was a surprisingly fun little outing. Then, we spent the rest of the time conversing about whether it’s pronounced “Ree-sez pee-sez” or “Ree-seez pee-seez.” We haven’t decided yet. Maybe we'll figure it out on our next date night, unless we decide instead to go out and play bingo with the rest of our kind.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Nameless Neighbor

I’ve slowly gotten to know the new neighbors next door. I first met them after they just arrived when I brought them some cookies. I made sure I left a note with our name and phone number so they could call if they had any questions. The lady called this weekend and left a message about a question she had, and when I called her back, we had a nice chat. She seems like a sweet lady. I found out that she is also a military wife, so we laughed about the mishaps of moving. We even decided that we’ll have to get lunch sometime. There’s only one problem. I have no idea what her name is. I know what her last name is from the caller ID, but it shows only her husband’s first name. Husband and I have even replayed her phone message, straining to hear what her name is, but the message is a little garbled and we’re still not sure. It’s silly because I know most people would just tell me to ask her politely, “What was your name again?” But, for some reason, I just feel bad and I can’t. Husband’s strategy is hoping that he runs into her outside and he can ask her, since he hasn’t officially met her yet. I’m pretty sure I’ll find out the name soon enough. Until then, she’ll be the nice lady next door, and I’ll be the clueless girl frantically trying to figure it out.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

I had a great Labor Day weekend. The best part was getting to spend a lot of time with family, including my parents, my grandma, aunts/uncles, and 2 of the cutest kids I know.
It also did not hurt that this was the gorgeous view behind my uncle’s house. I never get tired of seeing sunflowers!
But still, it’s great to be back home, and I’m already looking forward to this coming weekend with Husband.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Review: The Book Thief

I just finished the book, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, last night. It was so haunting and tragic, yet I couldn’t stop reading it and I really loved it. The book is about a young girl growing up in Germany during WWII. In some ways, she reminded me a little of Anne Frank, although instead of being a Jewish girl who is in hiding, she is a German girl whose family is hiding a Jewish man. The book contrasts some incredibly tragic circumstances with moments of kindness. I knew when I first started reading it that my dad would enjoy this book. Luckily, I’m taking a trip this weekend to see family, and I’ll be able to give it to him in person. [A note to military readers: You can actually get this book for free (and yes, to keep) through Military One Source.] Next up: I’m planning to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

In fact, I have my copy ready to read on the plane. I’m normally not interested in mysteries, but I’ve heard so much about this book that I’m willing to give it a shot.

What are you reading?