Thursday, November 26, 2009

What I'm Thankful For

It's Thanksgiving and as always, I stuffed myself! We went over to Betsy and Jason's house. Since none of us has ever hosted a Thanksgiving dinner, Betsy was daring enough to take on making the turkey and the rest of us brought a few side dishes. I took my Grandma Jack's Sweet Milk Rolls and the Thanksgiving standard Green Bean Casserole.

Well, on to the traditional "What I'm Thankful For" speech.
- Most of all, I'm thankful that even though we are in a foreign country, we still had the chance to spend the holiday with family. My sister, brother-in-law, and niece are here visiting!
- I'm thankful that Jake and I are finally married. We are both really enjoying married life.
- I'm thankful for my new friends here in Italy that have become like family to me, and glad we were able to share the task of making Thanksgiving dinner together.
- I'm thankful for the health and happiness of our friends and family.
- I'm thankful that we are heading to Montana in January, it was on of our top bases of choice!
- I'm thankful that we will be in Missouri in December and will get to spend Christmas & New Year's with our families.
- I'm thankful to see Shannon in two weeks to talk wedding plans!

Here's wishing that you also have a lot to be thankful for today!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Haha...that stands for Aviano Community of Enlisted Spouses and Breast Cancer Awareness Walk. When I first joined ACES back in August, they were talking about planning their annual BCAW. I knew I would only be here until December, but I also knew I wanted to get into at least 1 committee while I was in Aviano, to add to my resume to show that even though I didn't have a job while living in Italy, I did volunteer my time. Well, the BCAW committee seemed like the perfect opportunity, since this event traditionally took place during October (BCA month)

My friend Meagan and I both joined the committee and got started right away, designing flyers, designing and ordering t-shirts, rounding up volunteers, etc. We chose two possible dates to hold the walk. The base kept telling us they could not approve our dates for the walk yet. The president of ACES was calling everyday to check on the status and was always told it would be just a few more days until it could be approved. Well, our first possible date passed, then our second possible date passed. Finally once October was almost over, we found out the event was approved for November 7th, and we had 2 weeks to pull it all together!

We had a few frantic days of changing and printing off flyers, then rounding up volunteers again to pass out flyers at the base BX, finding donations of water and granola bars, gathering decorations and supplies used in past years, and rounding up more volunteers to bake muffins and cookies. It was a busy few weeks, but we made it and had a fantastic event! Lots of people made it out for 8am on a Saturday morning and we raised over $4200! YAY ACES! And a big thank you to Jake, who came with me at 6:30 that morning to set up tables!

Bavarian Chicken

If you remember my Oktoberfest post, I LOVED the chicken we got there. We decided to try to make it, and found an incredibly easy recipe online. It said to stuff the inside with a huge handful of parsley and put lots of butter on the skin. How much easier could it be?

Well, again our Commissary failed and had absolutely no whole chicken, frozen or fresh. We decided to settle with a few frozen cornish game hens. We stuffed them full of parsley and rubbed butter all over them. It did taste good, but Jake thinks that was just because of all the butter on it. It still wasn't anywhere near as good as the Oktoberfest chicken.

I served it with french fries, just like they do at Oktoberfest, and the meal was incredibly filling, so we put the leftovers in the fridge. The next day the skins looked so wrinkly that I couldn't bring myself to eat it anymore. I don't know if I'll ever try to make it again with a big chicken. I might just let myself remember the chicken we had in Germany as the best chicken ever and never try to match it!

Vegetable Soup and Grandma Jack's Sweet Milk Rolls

I got a very easy recipe for Vegetable Soup from church friends Charlie and Beth Brandhorst and this Homemade Roll recipe from my Grandma Jack.

Vegetable Soup:
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion (chopped)
30 oz. spaghetti sauce
2 cups water
1 can beef broth
salt & pepper to taste
16 oz frozen vegetables

Brown ground beef and onion, then combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to boil, then cover and simmer on low for 10 minutes.
It was very good, but almost too much spaghetti sauce. Next time I might try less tomato sauce and maybe more beef broth.

Grandma's Sweet Milk Rolls:
1 package yeast (the regular kind, not the quick one)
2 cups warm (not hot) milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. melted butter (and more to grease the pan)
1 tsp. salt
4-5 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in milk, when bubbly add sugar, butter, and salt. Mix well. Add 3 cups of flour, beat smooth, then gradually add more flour until soft dough forms. Knead 6-8 minutes. Let rise double, about 30 minutes. (I let mine rise about an hour)
Butter bottom and sides of dish. Punch down dough. Make into 12 balls and spread out in the pan. Let them rise double again.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and butter the tops.

Jake and I both loved the rolls! In fact, I've made them 3 times in this past month. I am also planning to take them to our Thanksgiving feast at a friends house.

This whole meal was great for a cold and foggy day!

Calzone Take 2

A while back I tried a recipe for a Calzone made with frozen bread dough. The one I made was with refridgerated french bread dough and ended up tasting great but looking like a mess. This time I tried it with 2 loaves of the refridgerated french bread dough, so I would not have to stretch the dough so thin. It was much more successful and I was so proud of how it turned out that I feel I can now share pictures of it!

The two loaves flattened side-by-side

After twisting strips together over the filling
Fresh out of the oven!

I'm sorry....

to my few readers! We have been having internet problems. Well, I guess you wouldn't really call it problems, we just don't have internet anymore. Jake had regular internet when he first got to Italy, then when he was deployed, he had it turned off. He tried to get it reconnected when we both got here, but the company was never able to get it connected correctly. I believe we never should have had to pay for the set up fee, 2 months of use while we were trying to get it working, and the cancellation fee when it never even worked, but that's the way Italian companies work, they do whatever they want. So we stopped paying them for nothing and started buying pay-as-you-go internet. We ended up paying about 25 euro and our supposed 100 hours would actually only last us about 15 hours. Anytime we would get disconnected, the time we had spent would be rounded up. I really don't like how Italian companies can get away with ripping people off. There is no accountability with these things. Can you tell I'm ready to be back in the good ol' USA?

Now that I'm done complaining, long story short, we have no internet unless we go to the base to use the free wi-fi. Thus explains why I have not blogged in a WHOLE MONTH! I promise to try to get in at least 1 blogging day per week from now on!

Now, on to play catch-up!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

I made this recipe and then we ate it for dinner on Friday and lunch on Sunday, and I never took a picture! I can't believe I did that! It turned out pretty good, but I've already decided the next time I make it I will use a seasoning on the chicken. It was great, just a little under-flavored (if that is a word!)

1 can cream of chicken soup
2 Tbs. diced green chilis
1 cup sour cream
3/4 lb. cheddar cheese
3 boneless chicken breast, cut up and cooked
12 small flour tortillas

Combine soup, chilis, sour cream, chicken and most of the cheese.
Fill each tortilla with mixture and roll up.
Place filled tortillas in greased pan.
Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
Cover and refridgerate overnight.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes.

Goodbye Shannon & Kari

Shannon and Kari are not actually military wives, but they have been here for 6 weeks visiting Betsy, so they have become a part of our little group. They are great ladies and a lot of fun to hang out with. They will be missed!

We had a big farewell day, starting otu with bowling!
Then we went to dinner at BEFed, then gathered at Katie's house for wine and desserts. Here's the whole crew.
My favorite Italian far.
We will miss you, Shannon and Kari!

Jake's Favorite Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I sent these cookies to Jake while he was in Iraq and recieved rave reviews. I decided to dig out the recipe again to take to a going away on Saturday. What I love about this recipe is that you mix everything in only one bowl, so less dishes!

2 sticks butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3 cups oatmeal
2 cups choc. chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix butter, brown sugar, and white sugar together until creamy.
Mix in eggs and vanilla.
Mix in flour, salt, and baking soda.
Mix in oatmeal and chocolate chips.

Bake 10-15 minutes.

I'm excited to get back to the states, where ovens can heat baked goods more evenly. Even by rotating the pan during cooking, a few do get a little burnt.

Apple Crisp

I remember how good the crumbly crust was when I made the blackberry cobbler, so I decided to try that same recipe with apples. I sliced up alot of apples, so I ended up doubling the topping recipe to cover it better.

1 cup Bisquick
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oats
1/2 cup butter
4 apples (peeled and thinly sliced)
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Toss apples in sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon.
Pour the filling directly into the pan.
Mix Bisquick, brown sugar, and oats.
Cut in butter until crumbly.
Top filling with crumbles.
Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Grandma Owen's Caramel Apple Pie

As I stated in a previous post, Jake recently bought 5 kilos of apples. I found this recipe that my Grandma sent me for my bridal shower. We still have 25 apples left though, so I'll still take recipes!

2 refridgerated pie crusts
6-8 apples (peeled and sliced thinly)
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp butter (melted)
1 bottle caramel ice cream topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Toss apples and all dry ingredients together.
Lay one crust in the pan.
Pour in filling.
Drizzle with melted butter.
Drizzle with caramel topping.
Top with other crust and press together edges of crusts.
Cook for about 30 minutes.

Jake wanted to get in on the work, so I had him slice the apples.
Jake LOVED it! We sliced too many apples, so I'm planning to make another pie tomorrow once I get another crust, so next time I might add some cinnamon. Jake told me I'm crazy and that it is perfect just the way we made it tonight!
We made a run to the gelateria down the road to get some vanilla gelato, and drizzled on some extra caramel.

Green Beans and Mushrooms

I bought green beans at the market, and I bought them right before the stand was about to close, so they gave me a huge bag full. I'm taking this opportunity to try some different ways to prepare green beans. Here is my first experiment.

5 mushrooms (sliced)
two handfuls of green beans
a few tablespoons olive oil

Toss the mushrooms and green beans in the oil.
Heat in a skillet until mushrooms are brown.
I seasoned with minced onions, pepper, and salt.

The mushrooms were VERY good, but the beans were a little under cooked. Next time I'll probably cook the green beans on their own for a while before adding the mushrooms.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Apple Recipes Needed

One of the Italians that Jake works with owns an orchard, so Jake bought 8 kilos of apples for 4 euros.

Please send me your favorite recipes involving fresh apples!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tamale Pie

I got this recipe from the internet. I can't remember what website.

2 lbs. ground beef
2 packets taco seasoning
1 small can olives
1 small can green chilis
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 small boxes corn muffin mix (milk and eggs also needed as directed on the box)

Brown and drain the ground beef.
Mix taco seasoning with beef as directed on the packets.
Allow water to boil out.
Meanwhile, mix corn bread as directed on the boxes.
Add olives and chilis to the beef.
Pour meat mixture into a casserole.
Cover with shredded cheese.
Cover with corn muffin mix.
Cook at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, until corn bread is done.

Jake really liked this dish. He said he liked that it is hot and then you get a nice taste of sweet with the corn bread. I think it ended up VERY hot! I used the hottest taco seasoning packet, olives in jalapeno juice, and mexican velveeta. I may have overdone it on the spicy-ness!

We are silly!

Today, we bought a body pillow at the BX. Of course we had to play with the big bag it came in!

Jake calls this Mags in a Bags

Friday, October 9, 2009

Carrot Cake Bites

I got a new mini muffin pan and tart shaper from Pampered Chef, so I decided to try it out by making carrot cake bites. No recipe here, I just used Betty Crocker Carrot Cake Mix and Betty Crocker Cream Cheese Icing, Jake's favorite.

They were so cute and very yummy!

Monday, October 5, 2009


On Saturday, we went to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest. It was a great time!
Waiting for the bus at 2:00am!

Our first stop, the Paulaner tent.

View from inside the tent.

The best chicken I have ever tasted!

Jake's first beer for the day.

It was my birthday, so I got a birthday cookie!

A huge statue! Seriously the biggest I've ever seen!

A pretty good view to show how BIG Oktoberfest is, and this was only one of the lanes!

We did get away from Oktoberfest for a while to explore Munich.

Waiting for the bus at 10:00 pm.

It was a LONG day...but we took it slow and survived. We both said we would probably never feel the need to go again, but it is nice to say we have.

Fall Decor

I love fall. It is finally starting to feel like fall in Italy. I could easily still run around in shorts during the sunny part of the day, but the mornings and evenings are starting to feel very chilly. I love it! I'm excited to see the leaves start to change color. I might have to get Jake to take me on some roadtrips in the next few weeks to get some pictures.

To get me in the fall mood, I made a small arrangement for our coffee table. As soon as Jake got home the day I bought the stuff, he said "What's the crap?" Guys just don't understand the importance of having pretty decorations!

He does admit he thought it was a waste of money because he thought it was only for Halloween, but after I convinced him that it is BROWN and orange, not black and orange, and that we could use it through Thanksgiving, AND that I can reuse it year after year, he seems to like it more now!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Loaded Baked Potato Chowder

I got this recipe from Pampered Chef.

3 large baking potatoes (or I just used a bag of Ore Ida Steam & Mash)
3 cups milk
4 oz cream cheese
2 tbsp butter
3 green onions (sliced)
4 oz cheddar cheese (grated)
salt & pepper to taste
4 strips bacon (cooked and chopped)
1 steam bag of broccoli

The recipe says to microwave potatoes, then chop. I just used the steam and mash and microwaved then poured the potato cubes into the soup mixture. The only down side to using the steam and mash was that I put them in while the mixture was cooking and they were stirred to much and mashed a little too much. Next time I will wait and put them in at the last minute so they will stay cubed.

Whisk cream cheese, milk, and butter.
Cook in a pan until warm.
Meanwhile, steam broccoli in the microwave and fry the bacon.
Add in cheese, onions, bacon, and broccoli.
Add in potato cubes.

We enjoyed our soup with grilled cheese.

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

My mom used to make chicken salad alot when I was still living at home, so I asked Jake if he would like for me to make some. He claims that he doesn't ever remember trying any, so of course I had to make it!

Mom never used a recipe or any set measurements, so I didn't really keep track of how much of each ingredient I put in. As she said though, you can't really mess it up!

4 chicken breast (boiled and cubed)
2 spatula scoops of miracle whip
2 spatula scoops of sour cream
a few teaspoons of cumin ** was actually curry powder that I used** (they both start with a C, I get confused by spice names)
about 20 grapes (quartered and "de-seeded")
2 stalks of celery (cut)
a handful of pecans

Mix it all together and serve on bread or croissants or in wraps.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Better Than "You Know What" Cake

Jake told me about this cake that his friend brought in to work. I just had to try it, so Igot the recipe from his friend's wife. I used Butter Pecan cake mix because it's what she recommended, but I believe you could use whatever flavor you think would taste good.

1 box cake mix
12 oz. cool whip
1 can condensed milk
1 bottle caramel ice cream topping
1 heath bar

Make the cake
While still warm poke holes in the cake with a wooden spoon handle
Pour milk into the holes until the cake absorbs it
Pour caramel into the holes
Allow to cool
Top with cool whip
Top with crumbled candy bar

I couldn't find a heath bar at the commissary or BX, so mine has caramel topping instead of heath bar.

Make sure you don't put the cool whip on until right before you are ready to serve, mine sat for a few hours until after dinner, and the cool whip "deflated"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Mathematician

Jake is taking a math course through a college on base. He has waited to take his math class for me to be here to tutor him. His class meets Monday-Thursday during his lunch break, so he comes home with TONS of homework! We spend all evening doing homework, so this is our life, 4 nights a week.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Baby Maisy & Happy Birthday Susie

I spent the last week with my sister's family in North Africa, so I have a few pictures I want to share on my blog.

First of all, the new baby I got to meet! My sister's first child, cute little Maisy!
She is wonderful! I was completely amazed at how developed she seems to be, at only 3 weeks. I just figured she would be like a bump on a log and sleep all day. Boy I was wrong. Maisy seems so developed. She's gained a pound from her birth weight, she squirms her arms and legs around alot, she can hold up her head for quite a few seconds, and when she hears her mom or dad's voice she tries to turn her head in that direction. She is a very responsive and happy baby.

Bryce, Susie, and Maisy are all very lucky to have their new little family!
Aunt Maggie and Maisy


I also happened to be there for Susie's birthday, so we of course had birthday cake!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Duck, it's a duck!

I don't like to pack, and I was putting off cleaning, so today I made a duck! I wanted to give my new niece something handmade, and I bought a bunch of fleece scraps at the craft store on base, so I decided to try a ducky! My favorite part is the little heart with her name on it. It's more of a decorating item than a toy, but I still think it's cute!I decided I want to make something handmade for my other nieces also, so when I get back from my trip I might make them bugs (like ladybugs and butterflies) or sweets (like cupcakes and ice cream cones). Any other ideas?

Barcis Lake - Take 3!

So...Barcis Lake is really pretty, and not too far away, so it made for the perfect girl's day out! So, I ended up there for the 2nd time this week. We spent some time laying out in the sun, hiked up a short trail, ate lunch at a park, took lots of pictures and grabbed some gelato on the way home. Great day! I just wish we had gotten a picture of all of us together.

The only picture I have of everyone (except me): Megan with the pink backpack, Katie (holding Kylie) in the middle, and Betsy leading the pack (she was the one who got to walk into the spider's webs!)

I like slides!We did make a pact to make a girls day out once a week (starting the week after I get back.) Our next plan is to go to the big shopping mall in Udine. Udine is about 45 minutes away and I hear it's one of the biggest malls in Europe! There is even a Disney Store! Since we have all read the Twilight series, we have considered going to Volterra, but I'm afraid that might be an overnighter. We'll see!